Wow, I've slipped to TWOP rates of recap turnover. I have fairly decent notes, but if I'm fuzzy... oh, who am I kidding? It's not like anyone's really going to care if I get something wrong with Empire.
This drama contains violent content? Is that a promise?
The Vestal Virgin Voiceover starts up with Camaro's deadly monotone. In my notes, I have written, "Smoke, fire, lies, blah." Previously on: Empire: Caesar died slooooowly. Octavius is a punk-ass bitch. Rome got a bit crispy. MmmsomeguynamedCake.
"I am a Vestal Virgin," obviouses Camaro, "one of only six in the world." What, you want a trophy or something? Blah blah they tend the Sacred Flame Bowl of Rome That Is Totally Going to Get Kicked Over By the End of the (Mini) Series, forbidden to engage in political activity, blee--so of course, we see some kid take a scroll from, like, Billius Bob's House o' Scribes and run through the dark streets aaaaaand... the handoff! A hooded Camaro takes the scroll and gets her Martin Luther on. The next morning, all these scroll parchments (more than one? I'm not sure?) are nailed up all over the place proclaiming that Octavius IS the Heir of Caesar, No, Really, Stop Laughing, and the Evil Roman Guards rip them down and glower a lot. I don't remember if there's a scene showing Cassius being pissy about this and Brutus looking tormented, but... just assume there is.
Meanwhile, Tyrannus is teaching Octavius to swordfight, because apparently they don't train young nobles to, you know, avoid death or anything around here. Octavius tries to say something comforting (I think it was comforting?) about Tyrannus's family (you may remember that he sent them off to safety, or perhaps "safety," in a wagon), and Tyrannus is like, NO SPEAKING OF MY FAMILY EVER, YOU LITTLE BITCH. Poor Octavius is like, "And... now, having exhausted 'the weather' and 'those guys who tried to kill us,' we're officially out of things to talk about." Tyrannus is all like, "We totally need to go talk to this general guy that you know, he'll help you and with his army behind you, you'll get your ass kicked a little less." Now, my first reaction was, "Did he just say 'the general Begonius'?" I mean, I don't know. Maybe he was a very important gardener. But the IMDB says he's "Magonius," and he's played by... ohhhh, Dennis Haysbert. Honey, no. Don't those commercials pay you enough? Can't you get a Television President pension? Anyway, Octavius's reply to this is, "I don't so much 'know him' as 'ran into him at a party once, and probably macked on one or more of his daughters.'" Tyrannus? Kind of doesn't care.
So they ride off to Magonius's estate, and they manage to get there right as the Evil Romans are shaking Magonius down, because apparently it also occurred to Cassius that Octavius would probably want to touch base with the general. And they're all like, "Who are these two fools?" And Magonius, who recognizes Octavius, is like, "MY SLAVES. They are totally MY SLAVES. GET BACK TO WORK, SLAVES!" Which is really odd--seeing a black man bellow "MY SLAVES!" at two white guys. And by "odd" I mean "kind of awesome." Except that the Evil Romans totally tie all three of them up and throw 'em in a wagon and cart them off to... Gladiator. Seriously, they cart them off into the movie Gladiator. With possibly a side of Lord of the Rings. But more on that in a bit. First, however, Octavius chucks the Ring of Caesar Who Really Did Love Him into, like, a potted palm or something so no one will recognize him. Dude, I hope it's still there when you get back.
Back at the temple, the Evil Romans are about to drag the Vestal Virgin Camaro away because... somehow it was just immediately obvious that she was behind the whole will-being-posted-publicly thing. I don't know. Virgin Superior Amanda Root storms in all, "VESTA WILL STRIKE YOU DOWWWWWWWN!" Somehow, this actually deters Evil Head Soldier, who, if I am remembering correctly, is named "Rapax." That's right. They sent a guy named "Rapax" to shake down a temple full of virgins. Dude. "Expect a return visit," he growls, because... Rapax: It's the Brand of Rape You Can Rely On. "What happens when I can no longer protect you?" Amanda Root hisses to Camaro. Camaro's all like, "Uh, did you hear the guy's name?"
Also, Camaro VVVOs that she had a dream that they executed Octavius and broke her head with stones for her interference. That's got to suck, yo.
Meanwhile, Magonius, Tyrannius, and Octavius are lumbering along some dusty road in chains with a bunch of other slaves. Octavius is like, "Why are they dooooing this?" "Because Cassius wants the Fourth Legion, duh," says Magonius. And then they arrive at a gate with fake dead heads on spikes, woe! Octavius retches at the very fakeness of it all. Where are they? The mountainside Combat Dungeons of Arkham. Wait, Arkham? Wow. Scarecrow's really let this place go, I gotta tell you.
Tyrannus gives Octavius a Noogie of Warning, hissing, "DON'T LOOK AT ANYONE! THEY WILL TOTALLY MAKE YOU THEIR BITCH." All the prisoners are like, "FRESH! MEAT! FRESH! MEAT!!" Head Gladiator Guy, who is also black (what? I find the meager attempts to balance the cast out racially to be sort of interesting) shouts gleefully, "IN THE RING YOU WILL DIIIIIIIIIIE!" This is a man who loves his job, y'all. What does Octavius do, as all the new fish are filing in? He looks this guy IN THE EYE. You can just see Tyrannus behind him all like, STUPID STUPID STUPID! Gladiator Guy notices that Octavius smells good--"Whores in the city wear perfume oils like these." Actually, now that I read my notes again, I'm not sure if he's saying Octavius has been with whores in the city or IS a whore in the city. And I forget exactly how they manage to explain this away, but I think Octavius sasses Gladiator Guy, and Gladiator Guy goes off on him and snarls, no kidding, "I WILL SPIT IN YOUR DEAD MOUTH." And then he wipes his actual mouth in Octavius's hair and the non-con HoYay is strong with this one.
So, back at the Senate: Mark Antony has disappeared, because he's not an idiot. The Senate needs a couple of guys to nominate to be consuls. And they totally nominate a guy named Simba, which is hilarious. Actually, it's probably "Cimba," but let me have my mental images, okay? So Simba and Quintilius are the two nominees and they're like, "Uh. We need to take care of our farms. Yes. Also, we are nearly blind. And partly crippled. Plus, I have scurvy, and I think Quintilius gets the vapors a lot." ("Yes, I totally do!") And the senators grin like sharks and say, "Hey, why don't YOU step up, Cassius and Brutus?" And Cassius is like, "But--but--the mob thinks we planned Caesar's death!" And the senators are like, "That's because YOU KIND OF DID." So the implication here is that whoever steps up to the consul plate is basically putting a target on his head. "Yeah, well, it's your stew, YOU EAT IT," says this totally awesome senator. I heart you, Senator Whoever You Are.
Back at Arkham Asylum for the Criminally
Hot Stupid, Tyrannus and Octavius and the others are being led into the caves where they apparently keep the gladiator-prisoners. Man, security in that place must be a bitch... wait a minute, are they birthing orcs down there? Seriously, you can barely hear Tyrannus grit "JUST KEEP WALKING" at Octavius because there are all these screams of "ARRRGHHHH, URRRRRGHHHH" in the background.
So now we're at Trudie Styler's house. Trudie, if I'm remembering this correctly, is Brutus's mom and was Caesar's lover and is really, really scary looking. Cassius is all sulky that Rapax didn't deliver the virgin. Also, they need to anoint a new... pontiwho? Pontiwhat? Pontifex? Okay, sure, whatever. I think Trudie has the bright idea to anoint Brutus, which means they can then send him into to shake down the Vestals. And then Cassius and Trudie make out right in front of Brutus. Awkward.
"AWAKEN! TO DIIIIE!" Man, Gladiator Guy is just the most cheerful hardass ever, I have to tell you. Octavius sees a rat nibbling on some sleeping guy's arm stump. Yum. "FRESH MEAT! FRESH MEAT!" Yeah, yeah, we get it, it's like Oz. Gladiator Guy pulls Octavius out of the ring of captives into the... what? patch of dirt on the mountainside? That's kind of what it looked like. Hilariously, he flings his sword all around like he's so badass and starts whupping up on Octavius and, if I am not mistaken, the other prisoners start chanting, "FACE! FACE!" Heh. Octavius goes down like a punk in slo-mo. And then Tyrannus steps forward and shouts, "THE WHORE IS MY PROPERTY!" Now, we couldn't decide in chat if he said "the whore" or "the pleasure boy," but what we did decide is that this is possibly the most awesome thing ever uttered on a cheap historical miniseries. It's so "Hands off, candypants is mine!" So Tyrannus takes his place and takes a couple of stiff blows (yeah, you heard me) and goes down like a sack of potatoes and... carefully buries his dropped sword in the fine dirt, in anticipation of the day that... he will ever have an opportunity to go dig it back up. You know, in case there's a revolt that just happens to take place right there on that patch of dirt, and no one else gets to it first.
Back in the caves ("ARRRGHHHH! URRRRRGHHHH! WARRRRRRGH"), Octavius sponges his wounds tenderly while sweaty shirtless Tyrannus flashes back to throwing Octavius on his head in the forest and Caesar bleeding on the Senate floor and the escape of Wifeia and young Floor. It's like this show started out being boring as shit for two episodes and then suddenly just bust out into cheesetastic pulp exploitation awesomeness out of nowhere. Octavius is all like, "It's my fault, all of it. I should have kept my eyes down. And not been a Caesar." NO, REALLY. Tyrannus starts coaching him, through grunts of pain, on how to grab some guy by the arm when that guy is not looking and, like, flip him or maul him or whatever. And a little later Gladiator Guy comes up and starts giving Sweaty Shirtless Tyrannus's scars the once-over, pointing out that this here was made by the smaller tritons of Gaul, that there was from a leopard's claws, etc. Meaning, Tyrannus is a professional, and perhaps has something to hide. "I'm unlucky with animals," Tyrannus deadpans. Gladiator Guy: "I'll have to do you over slow and ugly next time." MY GOD, THIS IS SO AWESOME.
Octavius sneaks off deeper into the torchlit caves to talk to Magonius, who is in a barred cell. In the cave. No, I don't know how they worked that out, either. Magonius intones that Octavius's identity must be shielded and that Octavius must betray whoever he needs to in order to survive. (I can't tell from my notes whether Magonius was referring to Octavius giving up Tyrannus, or Magonius himself.) Anyway, the theme of this conversation is DO WHAT IS NECESSARY, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT CAESARS DO.
So Gladiator Guy and his henches pull Octavius aside and Octavius stammers, "I'm his farm slave!" Yeah, sure you are, kid. "No, a nobleman's son," says Gladiator Guy, and--OH SHIT! YOU STUPIDHEAD! Octavius totally rushes two of the guards and pulls the Grab Some Guy by the Arm trick Tyrannus just taught him. YOU MORON! You're supposed to wait until you're fighting ONE GUY, and not surrounded by FOUR GUYS with SHARP THINGS. GAH. They totally kick his ass.
Back to the Vestal Virgin Temple. Flowy women float about in airy robes, flowily. This time, Holy Anointed Pontifex Brutus has come in person to give Camaro a talking-to. The Virgin Superior's role, I have decided, is to flounce in and out and make a few dire but unenforceable threats each episode. Brutus is all like, "Lady, let's cut the bullshit here. You! Why'd you do it?" Camaro's all like, Who? Me? What? "Is there not mercy in a maiden's heart for a man pulled between truth and honor, truthful honor, honorable truth, and a really scary mom?" Camaro: "..." Brutus: "That altar over there, someone's praying for someone's safety. Who put that up? A girl with a crush?" I am not making this up, y'all. Camaro just sort of gapes at him, like, "I'm a virgin, not a fourteen-year-old girl, asshat."
(P.S. She totally has a crush on Octavius.)
Hmm, my notes are getting sketchier. So apparently Cassius storms into the Arkham Asylum for Dumb Fluffbunnies and has a sit-down with Magonius to the tune of, "We have no choice but each other." Magonius: "I'm gonna have to go with the kid." Cassius promptly has Magonius dragged away and stabbed to death by like five guys while Magonius screams to a nearby, horrified Octavius, "Save yourseeeeelf! I would have followed youuuuuuuu!" Well, it's no "My brother, my captain, my king," but I guess it'll do.
So Cassius gets back to wherever and tells Scary Trudie about his day and I don't know why it takes them this long, but they suddenly realize that Magonius's "slaves" arrived at his estate on horseback. SHENANIGANS! Cassius gets right back in his pimpwagon and hauls ass back to Arkham.
Back in the caves, Gladiator Guy's friend (who sounds like he's from Rome by way of Jersey) is taunting Octavius all by his lonesome in a particularly dark stretch of tunnel and calls him "little flower." Heh. Octavius picks up a sizeable rock and bashes the guy's head in. WELL, DAMN, IT'S ABOUT TIME, SON.
Octavius stumbles back to the Cave of Shirtlessness with bloody hands.
ratkitten:: they even have the circling birds from Isengard at Arkham -- this is truly the mini-series of many visual references"He discovered my identity," moans Octavius, referring to Jersey Guy. I think that's who he killed, anyway. "Now I'm a murderer." Tyrannus, quite rightly, is all like, "Murderer, soldier, gladiator--what's the difference? Now sponge my wound some more, candypants."
Brainchild:: "Octavius, what did you do?"
Brainchild:: "I can't look away from you for one minute without you getting in trouble, can I?"
Princess Cleolinda:: I love how Tyrannus just immediately goes, "Did you hide the body?"
So the next day, we're back in the Patch of Deathly Dirt, and Gladiator Guy's totally got it in for Tyrannus, and Tyrannus is all like, "Fuck this wooden sword noise, man. You fight me for real." All the other prisoners are like, "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"
Brainchild:: "We fight for the rights to Candypants"Tyrannus picks out two swords from the Wall o' Sharp and faces off with Gladiator Guy and Gladiator Guy is like, "Shit, man, I am really going to enjoy this." And then Tyrannus starts doing that Whipping Around of Not One But Two Swords thing he did at the beginning of the first episode, and... I have to tell you, I was actually impressed with it this time. Maybe because Tyrannus is SO MUCH BETTER than the rest of the show. I don't know. Anyway, Gladiator Guy has that total Oh shit look on his face, and the rest of the crowd starts shrieking, "OMG TYRANNUS OF ROME SQUEEEE!" and Tyrannus dices Gladiator Guy up in like thirty seconds. And then a riot breaks out. You know, as one does. Meanwhile, Octavius's two brain cells accidentally bump into each other and he manages to unearth that sword that Tyrannus buried in the dirt. Cassius shows up and is about to have Tyrannus killed but then Octavius sneaks up behind him with the sword and is like, "TWO HORSES, STAT!" So Tyrannus and Octavius's new backbone ride off into the sunset.
Princess Cleolinda:: wait, why is he doing this?
Princess Cleolinda:: is he trying to create some kind of distraction? I think I missed something
ratkitten:: Tyrannus is rocking the eyeliner
Brainchild:: He also always has to show off with the two swords
matrixchick:: that's some awesome phallic maneuvering
elysium:: ...eyeliner? WHY did I stop watching this?
Meanwhile, back at the Senate, the two stupidest guys they could find ("Please don't tell me [they brought in] a mare," vamps Cassius) are getting sworn in as consuls, or something.
Wheee! It's a field of wheat! I was afraid they'd run out! Tyrannus is trying to teach Octavius to hunt, but Octavius just hands him the bow and is like, "You shoot the rabbit, man. All this bloodshed is a total buzzkill." So, you know, let the wounded man catch your dinner. And the rabbit on the hillside is like, "Ass." And then it runs away, because here comes the thunder of hoofbeats over the hill. "Whatever happens now," says Tyrannus in low tones, "stay close to me" (bom-chicka-wow-wow). Of course, this means that Octavius will probably ditch Tyrannus in five minutes, because he's just that good at following directions. Anyway! Hilltop! Hoofbeats! It's... Mark Antony! "No more running, prince!" he shouts. The music swells... hopefully?
Next week (i.e., tonight): Orgies.