Testudo Et Lepus (The Tortoise And The Hare)

Episode Report Card
M. Giant: B- | Grade It Now!
A New Man

Enough on the domestic front for now; we've got the Town Crier to give us the big picture. He announces that the armies under two Roman generals named Hirtius and Pansa, along with those of Caesar Octavian, are in Gaul and about to engage "the traitor Mark Antony...long live the Republic!" Dude's a one-man Fox News. Hey, does this mean we're going to finally see an actual battle?

...No. Over a subtitle reading "Mutina, Cisalpine Gaul" (whatever a Cisalpine is), Pullo leads his horse to the top of a hill and comes upon a grisly sight. We missed the battle once again, but at least they've spared no expense in showing us the aftermath: there's nothing but smoke and dead horses and men as far as the eye can see. Some soldiers and scavengers are moving among the dead, doing whatever it is they do at times like this. Looting, I assume. Pullo gazes out at the scene, his expression deeply pained. "I can't believe how cheap my show is sometimes," he thinks. He wades through the carnage, moved by the sight. What's he looking for? "Vorenus," he sadly reminds us. He comes upon a red-haired body lying face down in a prefect's uniform, and is visibly relieved at not recognizing the corpse when he rolls it over.

Suddenly, a rather effete voice from above Pullo says his name and cracks, "Don't tell me you've taken up scavenging." Pullo looks up into the sun to see a Golden Eagle standard and a helmeted head silhouetted in the glare, its owner towering above Pullo on horseback. "Do you not know me, Pullo?" the man asks, and removes his helmet. "Is that you, Young Master?" Pullo asks in amazement. I, too, am amazed, because this young man looks absolutely nothing like the previous Octavian. He hasn't just aged; he's fucking regenerated. This kid has straight brown hair, a square jaw, and a mouth that doesn't look like it was poked into the flesh of his face with the end of a broom handle. His voice is about right, though. In any case, Octavian 2.0 dismounts Caesar-style (that is to say, stepping on the back of a soldier waiting on hands and knees) and approaches the man he calls an old friend. "Octavian," says Pullo. He never called him that before, but now he has to just in case we're still shaking our heads and rubbing our eyes and going "Aggle aggle aggle." "They call me Caesar now, Pullo," the younger man corrects, quietly but firmly. "Always knew you had it in you," says Pullo, and asks how Octavian managed to win the battle that just went down. Octavian deflects credit to the other two generals, and to his sidekick Agrippa, who's hanging a few yards back with the rest of Octavian's mounted men. Accepting Pullo's congratulations for his victory, Octavian asks what his old tutor is doing there, since he doesn't look like he was in the fight. Pullo says that he was looking for Vorenus to give him the news of his family, but now he's afraid Vorenus got killed his own self. Surprisingly, Octavian actually seems to care. He says that he'll have his tribunes check among the wounded. Failing that, Octavian suggests that Pullo search the Cisalpine hills: "Antony and his men have skulked off there." He calls a courier forward, and the man scampers up with a case, from which he presents a closed scroll and a seal stamp. Octavian sticks a dollop of mud on the scroll and stamps his seal into it; he then gives the scroll to Pullo, telling him to show it to anyone who challenges him. Octavian offers Pullo food and a fresh horse, wiping his muddy hands on the courier's red cloak. At least he's still inconsiderate of the lower classes. Pullo thanks him, saluting, and Octavian and his men are on their way. Nothing like a chance meeting with a historical figure to move the plot along.

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