Caesar's on his way back to Rome, again, still, some more. Which puts a lot of folks in positions of varying awkwardness. Vorenus is grumpy about being made a traitor to Rome, but follows his orders anyway while quizzing Pullo on how to get his wife to like him. Pompey, unable to mount a credible defense of the city against Caesar's one legion in time, calls a tactical (and, he promises, temporary) retreat, declaring that anyone who sticks around is an enemy of the Republic. This goes as well as anything else Pompey ever plans, as the soldier he's assigned to secure the treasury loots it instead. Julii Cooper, as the richest and most powerful member of the pro-Caesar faction in the city, has her hands full between juggling entreaties for protection from other Caesareans and arranging the death of her daughter's pesky ex-husband. Brutus casts his lot with Pompey, although he's unable to convince his mother to do the same. And Vorenus's wife Niobe is trying to be faithful to her husband, although the father of her child isn't making it easy. At the end, Vorenus and Niobe make up, Pullo finds himself in possession of the entire Roman treasury, and Caesar's legion continues to ride toward Rome. He's totally going to get there one of these days, you guys. I'm serious.
Big big thanks to Jessica for doing an outstanding job filling in for me last week. I was hoping that the first scene of this week's episode would afford me some kind of smooth segue into expressing that sentiment, but instead we're starting right out with a beating. Ah, well. Julii Cooper is delivering a vigorous whipping to a bald male servant. And I'm sorry to say this, but the empire-waisted dress she's rocking makes it looks like a beating isn't all that she's about to deliver. But that's beside the point. What did the servant do to piss Julii off so? Nothing, actually; she's just taking out her anger at Caesar on the poor slave, Castor. She's doing it in front of Brutus, who's hanging out at her house, for some reason, and I think it's kind of rude of her not to offer her guest a few licks of his own. Octavian arrives in time to be served some fresh, hot exposition, which Brutus has to help provide, since Julii Cooper's exertions are leaving her breathless. Brutus marvels that by marching on Rome with one legion, Caesar is committing not only treason, but suicide. Julii Cooper finishes her whipping and slumps into a seat, spent.
Ah, Cato and his off-the-shoulder toga. It always makes him look like some nocturnal but terribly confused party animal shuttling back and forth between the club and the nursing home. Cato frets his way into Pompey's presence, wondering what's going to happen now that Caesar's officially in Italy. Pompey mildly starts reminiscing about some pirates he defeated back in the day, but Cato isn't interested. Pompey assures the Senator that his own legions are gathering as they speak. They'll easily outnumber the single legion that Caesar is already returning with, as Caesar's other legions are stuck on the other side of the Alps until spring. "Without question, the poor man is dead," Pompey assures Cato. I'm quickly learning that the calmer Pompey appears, the more reason his allies have to worry. Judging by Cato's expression, he's way ahead of me on that score.
Caesar doesn't look dead. In fact, he looks quite healthy as he gives orders from horseback to Vorenus and Pullo while his legion rides by in a column. Caesar, his helmet tied tightly onto his head in order to keep the sheer size of his cranuim from popping it off and denting a celestial sphere (that joke will make more sense in a few pages, I promise), instructs Vorenus to take a detachment of "Ubian cavalry" and scout the roads between there and Rome until he meets resistance. Caesar also hands over a large, ornate scroll case, which he says contains a proclamation that Vorenus is to read to any civilians he encounters. From Caesar's side, Mark Antony smirks, "If you encounter no resistance, go directly to the Forum and nail it to the Senate door." Yeah, like that's going to happen. Caesar might as well post his little proclamation on his blog, right? Caesar specifies no raping, pillage or burning (presumably since they're on Italian soil and all), and dismisses his officers. After Vorenus and Pullo salute and ride off, Caesar asks Mark Antony what's eating Vorenus. Mark Antony explains that Vorenus thinks they've all committed a crime that will be punished by the gods. "He may be right," Caesar says. Mark Antony points out that it's only a crime if they lose. Caesar insists that he's only protecting his rights, and asks if they can trust Vorenus. Mark Antony assures Caesar that Vorenus's loyalty to Caesar's XIIIth legion means "he'd follow the Eagle up Pluto's arse." Charming.