Monday, February 12, 2007

Rome Picks Up

**Spoiler Warning**

I’ve wavered for a bit about Season 2 of HBO’s ROME. After taking 2006 off, the series is back airing its first episode in January. The season premiere was explosive, as expected, then it went into a kind of a lull. The main character arcs got lost somewhere in the latter half of episodes 2 and 3, with the likeable Titus Pullo /Lucius Vorenus friendship being pulled apart as Vorenus is turned into a mob boss.

I felt as if HBO was paying too much of an homage to its other mainstay franchise, the Sopranos with that story arc. Unfortunately, as of episode 5 “Heroes of the Republic” the Lucius Vorenus gangster arc remains alive, but his friendship with Titus Pullo has been repaired and the thrust of the story shifts to the political manoeuvres which took place as Octavian Caesar rises to the top of the heap and the plotting that went on when he declared Brutus an enemy of the republic.

Cicero, leader of the Senate, initially welcomed Octavian’s victory over Marc Anthony, and thought the young Octavian could be controlled by the Senate. With Octavian’s surprise motion to declare Brutus an enemy of the state, Cicero calls Brutus and his armies back to Rome.

That’s where we are at right now. Those who cared to look up the wiki page on the history of the late Republic or is a student of history will know what happens next, but the second season has entered its most dramatic phase. The factual retelling of history builds the mileposts the series must hit on a narrative scale, but what draws me to the series are the little details between the characters and their reactions to the history unfolding around them.

My only concern with Rome is how the Pullo/Vorenus arc plays out. I don’t much care of Vorenus, the conservative family man, being portrayed as the head of what is essentially a crime family, and the story has signaled way too many times that Pullo and Vorenus may eventually end up on opposite sides of coming turmoil. Going down that path may be fatal for the series.

Killing of historical characters like Julius Caesar, masterfully played by Ciaran Hinds in season one, were necessities. However, I hope the series writers don’t screw up the Pullo/Vorenus arc or Rome may yet flounder.

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