Monday, November 14, 2005

Violent Night

HBO: Rome - Episode 11: 'The Spoils'

We were down to two shows rather than three last night, as The West Wing is gone for the rest of November. But two was definitely enough.

On Desperate Housewives, creator Marc Cherry returned as a writer and director, and the results were both exquisite and surprisingly violent. I saw it coming, but it was still shocking to see George hit Dr. Goldfine over the head, smash his skull into a stone railing, and throw him into a river. Will Bree catch on to this pattern of everyone who stands in George's way ending up dead?

Worse than that was the spectre of Eva Longoria falling down the stairs as she tried to escape an ice-cream starved Caleb, possibly losing her (suddenly desired) baby in the process. The last fifteen minutes of the show gave her character a new depth, one I hope she retains. Of course, losing the baby could provoke bigger changes--how will Carlos react? I can imagine the fight now.

No amount of DH violence could have prepared me for the bloodbath that was Rome. The show began with a killing in broad daylight and proceeded to an ending that foretold blood in next week's finale, as Brutus agreed to hold the knife that will end Caesar's dictatorship. In between, the attempted execution of Titus Pullo turned into the bloodiest scene I've ever seen on television, with arms, legs, and heads cut off by Pullo as he defended himself (and the honor of the 13th legion) and a final bloody stake driven through the torso of an executioner by Vorenus when he finally decides to come to the aid of his onetime partner in soldiering.

These two episodes set up a night of reckoning six days from now. Bree will surely notice the disappearance of her trusted adviser, Dr. Goldfine, and Gaby's pregnancy status will also surely be resolved. And in the finale of Rome, we all know that Caesar will meet the blade of Brutus, but what role will Vorenus, whose participation in Pullo's escape was specifically forbidden by Caesar, play? How will Octavian respond? And how will the show set up its second season? As Rome has gone on, it has improved by leaps and bounds, finding a stride so quick and well-measured that I'm tempted to call it the best show of the year. Here's hoping the first season finale will live up to the high standard the series has set.


Jonathan said...

I would say that Rome is the best show this year! I am sad to see it go next week.

The Writers Blog said...

I've missed Rome; but I think I'll have to catch the re-runs if it was that good.

Et tu Brute?