Rome – “The Stolen Eagle”Posted: August 21, 2012
This is the first in a series of quick blogs I’ll be doing about a few different shows. I say quick blogs for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve recently come to the show and don’t have the self control to wait and write 1,000-word reviews between watching episodes. Second, I have a full time job and just don’t have the time to write six or seven reviews every week. I hope you’ll all forgive me.
First up on the chopping block: Rome.
Rome is a show often whispered in the same breath as Deadwood, although I hardly ever hear it mentioned very often when people are bandying about other high profile shows like The Wire, The Shield, The Sopranos, etc. It’s interesting to note that before David Milch pitched Deadwood, he pitched his own show set in Rome that dealt with a lot of the same themes.
But while Deadwood focused on how communities are formed on a grittier, ground level, Rome did the same thing, just from a bird’s-eye view. Rome pays more attention to actual history than Deadwood ever did, and there’s a LOT of history the show’s trying to cram inside itself. To make all of this a little easier to swallow, we’re introduced to two men: Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson). These two are the Everymen who get caught up in the battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus at the birth of the Roman Empire.
The pilot episode does a good job weaving in and out of the macro of Caesar and Pompey’s political machinations against each other and the micro of Lucius and Pullo’s relationship. The two are thrown together against their will. Lucius, having been charged with finding Caesar’s standard after it’s stolen by BRIGANDS enlists the help of Pullo, who the day before was sentenced to death for striking Lucius during one of the Roman’s last battles with the Gauls. Lucius figures that Pullo’s dead already, and since they probably won’t find the standard and be disgraced anyway, why waste a perfectly good soldier. What strikes me most about the relationship between the two is how perfectly matched they are. There’s no big guy/little guy opposites attract business going on between the two. In a lot of ways they’re both the bad cop. But while Lucius keeps his temper in check and is ruled by his faith (in several things: the gods, the Republic), Pullo is much more boisterous. Pretty much anytime these two are on screen together is great (although, to be honest, Kevin McKidd in anything besides Grey’s Anatomy is great).
In the end, Lucius and Pullo find the standard, as well as rescue the son of an influential Roman (we’ll talk a lot about her later). We find out that the standard was stolen as part of a plot by Pompey to turn Ceasar’s men against him, and that that little bit of business is the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as their friendship was concerned. So, instead of watching some Gladiator-style drama about Rome in its heyday, the show is telling us the story of how Rome actually became Rome. I know it was canceled after its second season, but I also know the creators saw it coming, and so the whole thing ends on a better note than Deadwood. And that gives me hope.