The Spoils
Rome (LWM) | Season 1 | Episode 11

The Spoils

TV-MA | 49 MIN

Directed by Mikael Salomon
Written by Bruno Heller

Bereft of options, Pullo has taken up "mortality work" for Erastes Fullmen, descending into the underworld as a knife-wielding hit man, spending his pay on prostitutes and a growing appetite for opium.

Across town, his erstwhile partner assumes his official duties as a magistrate, receiving local citizens to hear out their complaints and requests. One such request comes from Mascius, an old comrade from the battlefields, who speaks on behalf of fellow veterans. Less fortunate than Vorenus, they cannot live solely on the money Caesar has given them, and they want land in Italy. Already weary from taking on the burdens of the poor, Vorenus is dismissive, but he takes their demand to Caesar. "Is it possible they turn on me?" Caesar asks his new representative. "They'd never fight against you," Vorenus assures him. "But if they're not satisfied, those that have no other skills to employ will turn to banditry and raiding."

Caesar decides to offer them rugged land near Germany, and if Mascius refuses it, Vorenus is to make him a personal offer - in the hopes that he will sway his fellow veterans to accept the bargain.

Brutus is disturbed to find graffiti depicting him with a knife at Caesar's back. As he orders a servant to erase the image, Cassius arrives to tell him not to bother - the drawings are everywhere. Plebeians painted the graffiti in the hopes that Brutus would rescue them from the tyrant, Cassius tells him, ushering in liberty as his ancestors did before him. "They would not pluck a hair for liberty," Brutus sneers contemptuously. "Plebs love to see their betters fight. It's cheaper than theater and the blood is real."

When Cassius calls him a coward, Brutus bristles with anger. He is not blind to what Caesar has become, he insists, but he has pledged his friendship to the man. "He trusts me. I cannot betray that trust." "For friendship, you would let the Republic die." Cassius says with disgust. "I am just a man!" Brutus pleads. "The life or death of the Republic is not in my hands!" "The Republic is in your hands," Cassius snaps back. "The people will not accept a tyrant's death unless a Brutus holds the knife."

Erupting in fury at the position he's been put in, Brutus slaps the man and stalks off.

When Pullo murders a man in broad daylight, the brutality is witnessed by an old weaver, who chases him through the streets. Screams of "murderer!" echo through the alleyways, sending Pullo into a hallucinogenic collapse, and ultimately to jail.

As predicted, Mascius refuses Caesar's land offer for the veterans, and Vorenus makes him a personal offer. When he steadfastly refuses ("I have been true to my brothers since I first spilt honor is not for sale so cheap"), Vorenus employs the same logic that was used on him, convincing the man he would not be helping his fellow soldiers by declining the offer. Mascius negotiates a higher price for himself and accepts the deal, as the two men turn away from each other, ashamed of their compromises.

At a symposium hosted by Atia, she pulls Caesar aside to warn him about Brutus; she believes that Servilia will not rest until Caesar is dead. Her imperious uncle scoffs at her warnings. "I well imagine poor Servilia is not very fond of me, but really, wants me dead? You are a dramatist Atia."

Vorenus and a terrified Niobe arrive at Atia's symposium as Caesar's special guests, and awkwardly attempt to mingle with the haughty guests. Niobe has made herself an elaborate dress for the occasion, which earns Atia's disingenuous compliments.

When Octavian learns that Pullo is awaiting trial for murder, he makes a plea to Caesar to intervene. "We must do nothing" Caesar insists firmly. The man Pullo killed has been a vocal critic of his leadership, and intervening on his behalf would look suspicious. Octavian secretly enlists Timon to find Pullo an attorney, but there are no takers among the idle lawyers in town. Only when Timon holds up a hefty purse does one come forward, a skittish, underfed young man. Pullo appears resigned to his fate, however, and refuses to help the man find sympathy for his plight.

At a trial held before a jeering crowd in the forum, the prosecutor makes a simple case against Pullo: a good man was hacked to death by a wretched specimen, a horror that's becoming too commonplace. "I'll not take your time with lengthy proof of his guilt. Look at him. We all know he's guilty."

As Vorenus makes his way into the crowd, he comes upon Mascius, who is hiding a sword. He spots several other soldiers in the crowd disguised as civilians, all ready to pounce should their fellow legionnaire be sentenced to death. Terrified of the political consequences, Vorenus insists Mascius call off their planned attack "for the good of the Republic." Caesar cannot reinstate law and order if soldiers are allowed to kill citizens without consequence.

Pullo's nervous lawyer offers a weak case for his defense, and when he cannot deny his client's guilt, he is condemned to death.

When Caesar tells Brutus he wants him to govern Macedonia, he sees it as his ousting, a way to remove him from Rome. Caesar finally admits he's uncertain whether he can trust his "son," given his past betrayal, but Brutus insists he betrayed nothing. "Had you told me you were to march on Rome, and asked for my allegiance, I would have given it. I would have judged you insane. But I would have given you my allegiance. Because I look on you as my father...But you did not ask for my allegiance. You demanded it at sword point."

Caesar takes back his accusation. But Brutus still insists he will not go to Macedonia. When Caesar invokes his legal authority, Brutus is near tears. "As my father I looked on you," he says. "Be reasonable," Caesar replies. "You are on every wall with a knife at my neck. I would be foolish not to worry." "Surely only tyrants need worry about tyrant killers," Brutus says through clenched jaw. "And you are no tyrant. Haven't you told me so many times?"

The morning before he is to be lead to his death, Pullo makes an offering to the Gods, a cockroach he's grabbed from his dungeon cell. He pleads that Eirene will know that he's sorry for what he did, and asks them to give her a long and happy life. "And same for my friend Lucius Vorenus and his family, if that's not too much."

At the arena, before a capacity crowd, Pullo is lead into a small ring, where he's greeted by three giant gladiators and handed a large sword. He stays on his knees in the center of the ring, refusing to fight. "I just want to die, alright? I don't want to hurt anyone." The men won't have it, and taunt him with insults. But only when they deride the Thirteenth legion does Pullo's fire return, and on impulse he lashes out at them - knocking out one before slicing through another. The crowd starts to root for him, as the largest of the men wields his tomahawk and knocks the sword out of Pullo's hand, sending him back to his feet. Just as he awaits the final death blow, however, Vorenus emerges from the crowd, sword in hand, and takes on the gladiator - slicing his leg in half and collapsing him to the ground. As the crowd recovers from shock, a roar of approval rises up.

Across town, Posca walks stealthily through the back alleys, a fat purse of coins in hand. He enters a dark tavern and drops the leather satchel on a table. "If we employ you again, best not use veterans," he tells the man seated by the purse -- Erastes Fullmen. He nods in agreement.