Monday, August 28, 2006

Brutal killing makes me weepy

Saturday night I watched the penultimate season one episode of Rome. I like Rome. Period pieces are so hard to pull off on television, but as we've all learned, HBO likes nothing more than to accel at a challenging project.

The episode is called "Spoils" and it's about Titus Pullo's descent into the squalor of Rome's prisons and gladiator ring. He's been arrested for murder and must now pay the consequence.

First of all, the characters on this show are complex people. Every episode my allegiance changes as more people betray those who love them or put themselves on the line for others. I'd like to add Mark Antony as my eleventh favorite character on TV. He's loyal to Caesar beyond reason but he's rutheless. He's honest. He makes no apologies for who he is and he doesn't stand for hypocrisy. He's the man with the least scruples but at the same time the one character you can trust to do exactly what he claims he will. James Purefoy is also brutally hot and occasionally appears buck naked. Yay.

But what I loved about this particular episode was the gladiator scene. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

As Pullo sits in the gladiator ring sadly waiting his demise, the gladiators try to egg him into fighting because nobody wants to watch a straight-up execution. The mistake they make is in bringing up Pullo's military regiment. He goes ballistic, yelling out the name of his regiment as he slices through gladiators left and right. But there is an endless stream of men and Pullo, though an extraordinary badass, is still only a man and eventually they will kill him. His best friend Varinus, the former superior officer turned politician watches in pain, unwilling to risk his career to help his metaphorical brother.

At this point while watching it I was screaming at my television, tears flowing freely down my cheeks, "Save him! Damn your career! Just save him, please!"

Now that's good television. I was completely relieved when Varinus finally couldn't take it anymore and stepped in to save the day. I thanked him profusely, wiping the tears away.

That's why I love television. Somewhere in a writer's room a bunch of writers thought up that plot point and together with the director and a bunch of brilliant actors and crew people took it to the screen and made me feel a genuine emotional connection to people who supposedly lived centuries ago. Amazing.

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