I was very disappointed with this episode; when it was over, I actually said out loud "Well that sucked!", so I thought I had better sleep on it to ensure I wasn't being rash. But sober second thought has only mitigated that opinion slightly ... first of all, the episode was extremely short. To this point, episodes have been fifty minutes long (clearly building in time for when it hits commercial tv); this one was forty minutes (tops) and prefaced with the same good (but lengthy) intro and a "previously on Rome" segment. Actual action in this one was in the area of 30-35 minutes.

Perhaps what made it worse was that there were no real questions which arose from it (but a few interesting details) ... here's the stream-of-conciousness:

The opening scene has Atia mad at Caesar for 'ruining us', and she's taking it out on her favourite slave by whipping him; meanwhile, Caesar is marching on Rome with one legion while Pompey's troops are being 'gathered'

Nice detail: mounted soldiers do not have stirrups! They're all doing that 'pigeon-toed'-squeeze-the-horse-so-you-don't-fall-off-thing. (I want to see someone do that at full gallop).

The plot thickens: the father of Niobe's baby (aha!) shows up! She dumps him out of fear of patria potestas (i.e. Vorenus will kill her).

The ongoing thread in this episode is Vorenus seeking 'love advice' from Pullo; turns out Vorenus is ultimately worried about having descendents to tend to his rites when he's gone (seems to be a very Roman sentiment).

As Caesar's army approaches, Atia decides to throw a party; her horse trader friend (and crew) are to be the bouncers/security.

Meanwhile, Pullo and Vorenus are part of an advance party to deliver Caesar's proclamation to Rome ... they are to advance until they meet resistance. They never do meet resistance; the first group of Pompeians they find are a group of raw recruits (most seem to be boys) who all flee at the sight of seasoned troops.

The optimates meet: Pompey has three legions made up of raw recruits and veterans from Gaul (i.e. potentially loyal to Caesar); Pompey reveals that he and his supporters are going to retreat to Orfinum (I think); Cato is not pleased [note in passing -- the guy playing Cato is great and the portrayal pretty much hits him dead on]

Back to the party ... there seems to be chaos growing in the city and Atia and crew seem 'besieged' by a rowdy gang of Pompeians. Atia's despairing, but Octavius seems to realize what a weak position Pompey is in.

As the optimates are preparing to leave, Cornelia reminds Pompey about the treasury ... he sends some soldiers who fill up a bunch of crates with gold bars (they seem a bit small to be talents); of course, those soldiers ultimate abscond with the treasure (it's on a wagon) ... they steal a slave girl on the way out for good measure.

Cut to scene of Vorenus telling Pullo how to talk to women: "Pretend you're putting a saddle on a skittish horse".

Back at the party, Atia's being a complete idiot, making arrangements for who kills whom (according to "appropriateness") so they aren't taken by the mob outside. While all this is going on, Octavius is calm and realizes the mob isn't there any more. They check outside and everyone is gone ... nice graffiti on the walls (a large CINAED across the door ... I saw a ATIA AMAT OMNES and an ATIA FELLAT too)

Next day scene has a herald (who, quite frankly, isn't loud enough ... but that might be my town crier bias showing) saying "Pompeius has left the city", sending me into paroxysms of giggles -- Pompey as Elvis.

The next few scenes are actually quite good as they show how the events of this time tore not just Rome, but families apart as well. Brutus, e.g., is very conflicted ... he doesn't want to take sides but ultimately chooses Pompey. His mother (who has been waiting for Caesar to return) decides to stay in Rome and wait for Caesar (Brutus not pleased). Octavia sneaks out of the house to meet Glabius ... he's joining the Pompeians.

[Note in passing: a plot line which is not here that I really wish was would be to see what happened with Cicero's family ... according to letters, they were left behind as he went out of the city; his son-in-law sided with Caesar ...]

Quick scene where Vorenus and Pullo get suspicious of an oxcart driven by men who are supposedly 'traders' but wearing soldiers' caligae; V and P drive the soldiers off; Pullo wants the slave girl but Vorenus wants to fulfill the mission they've been given.

Back to Rome where we find Glabius has been killed; Octavia upset ... wants to know if mommy had something to do with it (she did, I think); Atia swears she didn't ... Octavius seems to know better.

Vorenus and Pullo make it to the senate door where they nail Caesar's proclamation (other proclamations are there posted too ... very nice detail); the proclamation is a fine example of Clementia

Which things having been done, Vorenus deserts (despite Pullo's protests "What about the Thirteenth?"). We next see him at a streetside shrine to Venus where he offers his own blood for Niobe's love. Then we see him apologizing to her for being such a brute. She comes close to confessing about the child, but never actually says it (he seems to know). Then we get the cliche which seems to tie this whole episode together: "The past is gone, we start again."

The closing scene has Pullo going back to get that slave girl that was with the oxcart. He finds her and the cart abandoned outside Rome. Of course he checks the contents of the crates ... scoops up the slave girl, gets the oxcart going and heads off at a right angle to the approaching forces of Caesar.

No real questions arising from this one; seems ultimately to be a 'transition' episode.