Considering that Octavian isn't even in this episode, he certainly makes his influence felt. Julii Cooper is all mopey and worried about him, to the extent that she can't manage any manipulation more demanding than making Mark Antony decide to be governor of Gaul instead of Macedonia, as previously agreed. Antony leans on Cicero to bring the Senate in line, knowing full well that Octavian has sent an emissary to offer Cicero an alliance, but figuring that Octavian's rumored army of ten thousand is a lot less scary than the reality of Mark Antony in the same room. Down at the Aventine Collegium, a gang war is escalating in parallel with the rising tension between Vorenus and Pullo. Our heroes end up saying some things they shouldn't, then come to blows, then break up. Again. Brutus is going to pieces; he's in Turkey with Casca, trying to raise foreign support to retake Rome, but that doesn't go so well. Then he invents baptism. Cicero finally decides that he's tired of Antony's bullying, so he screws his tormentor over (not in person, of course -- remember whom we're talking about here). Antony ends up deciding to take Gaul by force, and when Pullo returns to Rome to sort things out with Vorenus, he finds out that his old buddy has joined Antony's campaign. It's not a wasted trip, though, because Pullo runs into Niobe's sister Lyde, who has escaped with word that the Vorenii and Little Lucius are alive. Oh, and remember the guy Castor rescued from a crunchy beating? Turns out he's in the house of the Julii to kill Julii Cooper, at Servilia's instructions. Just when it looks like he's about to succeed, the credits roll.
Vorenus is having a bad dream. In it, Niobe tells him, "The boy is blameless," and then sits on the balcony railing and drops out of sight. Vorenus's eyes pop open. How much would it suck to wake up from a nightmare and realize that it already came true? He sits up from the cot in his office. Apparently, he sleeps there now.
Down on the main floor, an afternoon's entertainment is underway: whorefighting. Well, why not? Gaia, the supervisor Pullo hired last week, separates the scrapping prostitutes with a bit of difficulty. Following them off the stage, Gaia gets a smack on the ass from a clean-shaven Mascius as she walks past where he's sitting. Gaia's about to retaliate, but before her fist reaches Mascius's face, he puts the rest of her there instead. They make out, much to the entertainment of the crowd. Except Pullo, who looks jealous, and Eirene, who looks jealous that Pullo looks jealous. Finally, Mascius and Gaia separate, and Mascius gets away with a light slap instead of the punch he had coming. He, Pullo, and another henchman go back to their dice game.
At the sound of Vorenus emerging from his upper-level office, the rowdy room goes quiet. Vorenus is wearing a knee-length black tunic with black leather accents that falls somewhere between "bad-ass" and "Anakin Skywalker's summer outfit." He comes down the stairs to conduct some business with his lieutenants. "Are you all right?" Pullo asks him. "You're looking pointy." And bipedal and carbon-based. What else is new? Vorenus gives Mascius some instructions as to how to deal with someone we'll never meet, and the instructions include a threat to cut out the man's tongue. Mascius laughs at Vorenus acting all hardcore, but stops when he realizes that Vorenus isn't acting. He leaves, and Vorenus takes his seat at the table. Pullo looks like he's about to say something to Vorenus, but then decides to hold his tongue. In both senses of the phrase. Gaia comes over and tells Vorenus that he has a visitor.
The visitor turns out to be the Poor Man's Erastes Fulmen from last week ["I swear, I thought it was Erastes's twin brother Schmerastes, they look so much alike" -- Wing Chun], but now he has a proper name: Memmio. Sitting across from Vorenus and Pullo at an outdoor picnic table, Memmio states his case: his sidekick Carbo, a bearded longhair who has accompanied him to the meeting, has a nephew who was "defiled" by an Aventine man named Quintus Bubo, and now Carbo wants Vorenus's permission to kill Quintus. Carbo probably shouldn't have mentioned that Quintus paid the kid a few pennies, because that's all Vorenus needs to hear to conclude that Quintus did nothing wrong and must not be touched. This is beside the point to Carbo, who wants to defend his family's honor. "Nobody in my family sucks cock without I say so!" Might want to take that up with the nephew, then. Trying to strike a compromise, Pullo chimes in to suggest the possibility of some moderate punishment for Quintus for taking advantage of the kid, but Vorenus silences him with a raised finger and says that he's given his answer. "Wrong fucking answer!" Carbo says angrily. As Vorenus bristles, Pullo says that Carbo has a point, and this time Vorenus hisses at him to shut up. Memmio tries to play off of the dissension, but Vorenus isn't budging. He just looks at them like, "Why are you still here?" Memmio gets the hint, and he and Carbo depart with extreme if not exaggerated politeness. Sure, this'll be the end of it. Once they've gone, Pullo tries to complain about Vorenus insulting him in front of their guests, but Vorenus is a lot more pissed about Pullo's questioning of his authority. And yes, Vorenus is pretty much an ass throughout this entire episode, but a lot of he grief that's about to ensue could have been prevented if Pullo had asked Vorenus for a private word instead of heckling from the Peanut Gallery. Pullo's about to say more, but then Gaia shows up with some bread for Vorenus. Pullo leaves, and Gaia tries to empathize with Vorenus, venturing, "Hard being the boss, eh?" Vorenus doesn't bother responding. Gaia wanders off to find a more willing conversational partner, like a stray pig or a support pillar or something.