All the icky fighting's over -- at least overseas. Cato and Scipio suffer a final defeat and commit suicide in Africa. Caesar returns to Rome, claiming that he intends to put the Republic back together. To that end, he starts handing out appointments like candy: for example, Octavian, also back in town, gets named Pontiff. As for Vorenus, he runs afoul of his old boss Erastes Fulmen for a second time, so Erastes decides to pay a visit to exact some restitution. Except when Erastes shows up, he's blocked by the ancient Roman equivalent of a huge Secret Service motorcade, because Caesar's in Vorenus's kitchen offering him a gig as a magistrate. Vorenus reluctantly accepts, which leaves Pullo feeling left out and betrayed. Speaking of betrayal, Servilia's still pissed at Caesar (and at Brutus, by extension), so she decides that it's time to put her little Julian pawn, Octavia, to work. She sends her to find out about Caesar's "affliction" from Octavian, even insisting that Octavia seduce her brother to get the secret from him. Yeah, you heard me. Despite the incestuous coupling, Octavian isn't spilling. And when Julii Cooper gets wind of it, Octavia reveals to her furious mother that Servilia claimed that Julii Cooper killed Octavia's ex-husband Glabius. Got all that? The upshot is that Julii Cooper sends Timon and his men to take a humiliating revenge on Servilia in the street, in a scene that even Timon appears to regret. Fat lot of good that does anyone.
Here's a nice, non-specific subtitle: "Africa -- After the battle of Thapsus." Well, thanks for narrowing that down to a point in the space-time continuum comprising twelve million square miles and a couple of millennia. So far. To be more precise, though, we're in what is now Tunisia. Quit making me look this shit up, show. Every time I do, I catch more historical inaccuracies. For example, Scipio was killed at the Battle of Thapsus, and Cato was already at Utica when it went down. But Cato's here on the edge of the battlefield, decently covered and talking to Scipio, who's very much alive. Okay, pretty much alive. Exhausted and defeated-looking, the two Republicans are busy watching an elephant die. It looks like they just got their asses handed to them. Somewhere else, mind you, because this production can't afford to show even the aftermath of a battle properly. There's, like, one lazy elephant and one dead guy, and that's about it. Scipio tells Cato they should go. By way of response, Cato Clavins that elephants sleep standing up because if they lie down they can't get up again. Cato's sitting as he says this, by the way, which may or may not be significant. Scipio politely feigns interest in Cato's little factoid, then repeats that they should go. For a destination, he suggests nearby Utica (pronounced here like "Ootica"). ["I wonder if they refer to beef patties served in buns as 'steamed hams' there." -- Wing Chun] Cato agrees without much enthusiasm, and gets up to start walking. And we see for the first time that they're accompanied by the ragged remains of a beat-up army, which follows its hapless leaders along the trail. There are maybe a hundred guys with them. You know how many men Scipio lost at the Battle of Thapsus? 30,000. I understand that a single episode of this show doesn't have the budget to mount war scenes on a cinematic scale, but maybe they could have set aside a few grand to have someone DOS Wikipedia for the season or something.
The group arrives in what must be Ootica, tramping along a narrow alley while turbaned civilians peer out through their curtains. Cato and Scipio follow a couple of their men into an abandoned, grimy house, and order water, bread, and wine to be brought to them. Party!
Later that night, Scipio and Cato are having their sad little dinner. Cato's back in his off-the-shoulder toga, politely declining Scipio's invitation to get drunk with him just this once. I don't know why Cato refuses; dressed like that, everyone is going to think he's blotto anyway. Scipio tries to cheer Cato up (although he really should know better by now), insisting that where there's life, there's hope. Cato: "If we've done anything, old friend, we've disproved that proverb." He remarks that the bread he's eating is "stubborn," and asks the nearest soldier, a young man named Aquinas, for a knife. Aquinas hands over a huge blade that probably skewered some guy's liver in the very recent past. Cato advises Scipio to go make his peace with Caesar, but Scipio insists that he'll do whatever Cato does. "I wouldn't do that," Cato says with dry humor. I like him more when he's been defeated, humiliated, exiled, and reduced to squatting in an abandoned house on a dark alley in some foreign backwater. But then, I like most people better that way. Scipio says they can talk about it later. Cato excuses himself to the next room to pee, managing to sneak that ginormous Crocodile Dundee "knoife" out of the room with him without anyone's noticing. He sits down, contemplates the weapon for a moment, turns the point towards himself, and sinks it into his abdomen. "[Squelches]," reads my closed captioning. Cato gasps and makes a face like this hurts even more than he expected it to. Then he quickly and neatly lies down to expire.