Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016) s01e05 Episode Script

Fight for Glory

I don't know how things have gone so far.
There have been mistakes.
Unlucky breaks.
But the idea that I'm somehow behind all this it's insane.
These were freak accidents, one after the other.
No one could have prevented them.
The plague was a freak accident.
Without question, Emperor.
But the grain shortage? Now that was a calculated act.
You'd have me believe Cleander wanted my people to starve? I'd never presume to know the mind of any man, but I do know that this grain shortage was no natural occurrence.
How do you explain it, Cleander? Simply.
Dio is trying to overcomplicate the matter.
There was a grain shortage.
We tried to resolve it.
The plague prevented us from doing so.
It's a catastrophe, but that's all.
A grain shortage.
In Egypt.
Where else? What was it? Drought? Blight? We've heard nothing on our end.
The Senate will never understand the details that go into running an empire.
You're right, Cleander.
But reports have made their way to me.
And all of them say the grain shipments have continued uninterrupted.
Shipments are disrupted all the time.
You're right, Cleander.
It happens constantly.
But it's never been enough to cause a shortage before.
Commodus, what possible reason could I have to see the people starve? There isn't one.
That depends on where the missing grain is.
If it's at the bottom of the ocean, or in the hold of a renegade ship, then I would agree.
And where else could it be? Commodus.
If your people are starving, if their very lives are in danger, the lives of their families, and then one man swoops in to save them at the last minute with his own personal grain supply, well, that man would be called a hero.
With one act, that man would win the people's undying love.
Ambition knows no limits.
You would speak of ambition? You, who Enough.
Who do you trust, brother? Dio? Or your brother, who has stood beside you your whole life? Right now, I don't trust either of you.
At the end of the second century, a shortage in grain has devastated the Roman Empire.
And with riots in the streets, the Emperor's closest advisor and members of the Roman Senate now blame each other for the chaos.
With no one he can trust, Commodus is forced to face the possibility that he's been betrayed by his advisor.
It doesn't make any sense.
- Senator Dio is hiding - No.
Nothing he's saying makes any sense.
I don't trust the Senator either.
I don't trust what he's doing, or why he's doing it, but What? Speak.
Even if he's doing it for the wrong reasons, that doesn't mean it's not the truth.
You're right.
I want nothing more than to believe what Cleander is telling me.
But he's lying.
What are you going to do? Responsible for the Empire's grain supply, Cleander must now stand trial to determine who's to blame for the shortage.
Cleander, my entire city is calling for your head.
There have been oversights.
- I've admitted that already.
- That's not enough.
I've done all I can to relieve you of the burdens of government.
Perhaps I put too much on myself.
But everything I've done, I've done for you.
My loyalty cannot be questioned.
With your permission, Emperor.
I have someone, I believe, who can speak to Cleander's loyalty.
You and I both know Dio cannot be trusted.
Remember the lands with the military? He's betrayed us before, he's only trying Tell him.
I, uh You understand, Emperor, the awkward situation You were my sister's servant.
Yes, Emperor.
I'm well aware of Cleander's affection for you.
What's Dio giving you? Nothing.
You wouldn't be here if what you'd say wasn't beneficial to him.
But I can't see why you'd speak against Cleander for Dio.
It's not for Dio.
It's for my mother.
She died.
Earlier this week.
From the plague From Cleander's plague.
You're only repeating the word on the street.
He knew.
He knew of the grain shortage, yes.
He was working to stop it.
Not the grain shortage.
He knew of the plot to kill you.
I overheard Lucilla talking about it with Senator Quintianus.
Cleander pushed me to find out more and I told him.
I told him everything, but he didn't just know.
He helped them.
He was angry, with you.
He killed - he killed him.
- Oh, bitch! - He bragged about it before.
- You bitch! Dio must be paying her! You lying bitch! You hear me? You filthy whore.
I'll kill you.
I'll fucking kill you! Commodus.
Commodus, she's lying.
Dio must have gotten to her.
I would never do such a thing.
You know me.
Dio must be paying her.
You're my brother.
I wouldn't When Cleander is killed, it was very clear that all the important elements of Roman society were against this guy.
I mean now you had the people rising up, the Senate hated this guy, He just had to go.
The Roman Emperor has been betrayed by his closest advisor, the one man he trusted, to help him rule the Empire.
And now, Commodus has no choice but to give the Roman people what they want.
With the people demanding justice, Commodus hands over Cleander's body, and it's soon decapitated and dragged through the streets.
Rome is an extremely violent place.
In the case of Cleander, it's fairly clear that there was, in fact, a mob calling for his blood.
There were people who were literally out there, ready to tear him to pieces.
Commodus has killed his closest friend, and to bring order to Rome, he looks to his only remaining source of support.
My apologies for keeping you waiting, Emperor.
I was not expecting visitors so late.
My city's in chaos.
We must act.
I couldn't agree more.
The question is, what do we do? We go to war, expand our borders, strengthen our glory, show the people what it means to be Roman.
And with victory, we'll prove the Gods are still behind us.
Do I have your permission - to speak candidly? - Of course.
Wars take time, money, people.
All things we are dearly lacking.
Well, I won't just sit here while my people riot.
So tell me, Dio, what should I do? Grain? Land? Well, those things have worked for you before, but we have never faced anything like this.
Well, then what, Dio? I'm afraid there is no clean answer.
There is no one action you can take to correct this.
Commodus the Empire works best with balance.
The Emperor provides strength for the people, yes, but the Senate must filter that strength.
Our job is to act as a shield between you and the people.
Otherwise, there is just a single man at the top, one person they can blame for all their problems.
And we've seen the danger in that.
- So this is my fault, then? - No, Commo no, Commodus.
We must all share the blame for this.
We failed in our duty to prepare you.
I see that now.
So what would you have me do? Let us help you.
Trust us to help you.
Trust you? While many people may accuse Commodus of having been paranoid, if you've been raised with this power from birth, there had to have been a legitimate concern on the part of Commodus that there is something to be feared.
It is not paranoia if people are actually trying to get you.
As conditions in Rome continue to decline, Commodus begins to realize that he has no one left to turn to.
And just when it seems the state of the Empire can't get any worse, catastrophe strikes in the heart of Rome.
Triggered by a passing storm, a massive fire erupts in the center of the city, causing widespread destruction and panic.
The fire was started by a lightning strike within the city itself, leading immediately to rumors of divine wrath and retribution.
The Gods themselves were angry with Commodus, were angry with the city of Rome, and were therefore going to gut it and going to destroy it.
In just days, the fire destroys ancient government buildings and religious shrines, devastating the Roman people, and their Emperor.
Commodus was affected by many of these traumatic experiences in the various stages of his reign.
He faced all of these other plots, plagues, fires, and these forms of disasters, and it's not surprising, having faced all of these plots, that he did not necessarily trust the old system anymore.
With the city in ruins, Commodus realizes he has no one to turn to for help and begins to believe that he's the only person who can save Rome.
With a plan to gain control of his Empire and restore glory to Rome, Commodus calls a meeting with the Senate.
To start this formal session, I have the honor of introducing Emperor Commodus.
I've heard talk of omens, of dissatisfaction amongst the Gods.
Our great city has been devastated with famine, plague, fire.
Streets have been destroyed, temples burned to the ground.
Lives have been lost.
But I'm here to tell you this is not a bad thing.
In a forest, fire is far from a catastrophe.
It's a necessity.
It burns out the dead wood, allowing new growth, new life.
Senators, we stand at the dawn of Rome's rebirth.
A new age is upon us, and we must embrace it.
To celebrate this new age, and the coming of the new year, I'm announcing 14 days of Plebeian games.
They'll be the greatest games that Rome has ever seen.
An excellent idea, Emperor.
I'm sure I speak for all the Senate when I say I cannot wait to watch these games by your side.
No, Dio.
My place will not be in the Imperial box, but on the battleground.
The greatest games in our history will have its greatest gladiator as well, the Emperor himself.
Emperor, gladiators are slaves.
The Emperor cannot be I'm not asking for your permission, Dio.
The Senate will be in attendance.
You and all of Rome will bear witness to my triumph.
This fool will destroy Rome.
If he survives.
To restore his city and regain the faith of the Roman people, Commodus will put on the biggest show of games Rome has ever seen.
And for the first time, at the center of the arena, the Emperor will fight as a gladiator.
All of a sudden, Commodus decides that he wants to be involved in the governing of the city.
All of a sudden, he wants to be there, he wants to be known, he wants to be praised by the people.
You might almost think of it as an apology of sorts for those years when he wanted nothing to do with being Emperor and now he does, and now he's going to make it right, but he needs to prove himself first, and he does so by becoming a gladiator.
For the people of Rome, no figure is more inspiring than the man fighting to the death in the Coliseum.
These gladiators allowed the Romans to indulge in a fantasy world that had a very close relationship to their views of themselves and the values that they considered important.
By staging 14 days of games and starring as a gladiator, Commodus is certain that he can usher in a new era for the Roman Empire.
Commodus, as an Emperor, went one step beyond.
Many emperors had given expensive, lavish games.
But up to this point, no one had ever fought as a gladiator.
I mean, it's one thing to give a show, it's another to give the show and also star in the show.
Knowing the dangers of the Coliseum, Commodus enlists a slave who will train him to fight, a skilled Roman gladiator named Narcissus.
Narcissus was an athlete, a wrestler, and Commodus looks to him to train him, because he wants to achieve the kind of level of fitness that you need need to have to appear in the games.
If he wants to pass himself off as a gladiator, then he himself has to look the part.
He has to look as fit as someone like Narcissus.
With shows of strength and survival, Narcissus has made a name for himself as an invincible Roman gladiator, and will now train the Emperor to fight to the death in the arena.
You summoned me, Emperor.
You're going to train me, Narcissus.
Every day.
Starting now.
That's good, but don't stop when you have the advantage.
We'll reset.
Let me steady my feet.
Look at me, not my blade.
Come on, Emperor, push harder! Harder! Again.
Come on! Enough.
Enough for today.
Not bad.
Not bad.
See this? This is simple.
Out there, you stand before your enemy face-to-face.
There's no tricks.
It's not simple.
Maybe not simple, but it does all come down to skill in the end.
Skill plays a part.
I saw you fight.
You were unbeatable.
I'm a man, just like everyone.
But you're right.
People thought I was unbeatable.
You see, it's not enough just to be better than your opponent.
That leaves room for Fortuna to play her hand.
See, I won my battles before I even entered the arena.
Men came to me hopeless.
How did you make the people believe that? I gave them something they'd never seen before.
I was invincible.
Cancel the meetings.
I need to increase my training.
As you wish.
Commodus was all about image.
He is someone who is eager to prove himself, prove his masculinity.
He wanted to be loved and adored.
Commodus was very concerned about the populace.
As Commodus continues to train, members of the Senate look to put an end to the Emperor's plan, including Cassius Dio.
For years, Dio has watched the Emperor violate centuries of tradition, and defy the authority of the Senate.
But with the announcement of his games, Dio believes the Emperor has gone too far, and knows there's only one person in a position to change the Emperor's mind.
Senator Dio is here to see you.
Send him in.
- I hope I'm not interrupting.
- Not at all.
Are you here to see the Emperor? No, no.
I'm here to see you Marcia.
Now, you and the Emperor, you've, uh become quite close.
I'd like to think so.
Oh, I'm sure there's no one he feels closer to.
There's no one he talks to more.
I'm sure you've heard all about his big announcement today.
He plans to fight in the games.
I'm afraid the Senate is more upset than the Emperor realizes.
I'm not sure Commodus cares if the Senators are upset.
And why would he? He's the Emperor after all, and we are but a bunch of old men rattling on about tradition and honor, but I've known Commodus since he was a boy.
I don't want to see him hurt, or even worse.
Marcia Commodus will be entering the arena as a gladiator.
He will fight to the death against a trained killer.
These are uncertain times.
Now, please forgive me for interrupting your evening.
Marcia, under the Emperor Commodus, does seem to have been able to almost rise to the level of a significant advisor.
She was trusted by Commodus, and what is interesting with Marcia, is that even though she comes from a very low background, the sources suggest that the amount of influence that she actually had over him may have been very, very significant.
It's natural to be worried.
You doubt me? No, no.
What is it, Eclectus? Well, I can return.
Just be quick.
I have reports on the capture of the exotic animals that you requested for the games.
They were able to retrieve everything.
Yes, but there appear to be complications in keeping the crocodiles alive during transport.
Have them collect twice what we need.
Some are bound to survive.
- Yes, sir.
- Good.
What was that about? The Games.
No! It's time I learned what it's really like in the arena.
No more practice swords.
Today we use live steel.
Give me everything you have.
Is this wise? I order you to fight me.
If only the people could see you now.
Narcissus, the feeble gladiator! The weak, the ignoble, the disgraced, the dishonorable! It wasn't just about violence and machismo.
It was also about skill and self-control.
When a gladiator fell, he had to accept the death blow from his opponent, with a calm expression.
He had to stare calmly ahead as the blade was plunged into his throat.
Leave me.
What's happened? - Are you sure you want to do - Leave me, please.
After months of training and preparation for his games, Commodus begins to realize he's not ready for the arena, and with the games quickly approaching, he starts devising a way to secure his victory.
On the eve of the games, Commodus hosts an elaborate feast for the gladiators, honoring Roman tradition.
On the evening before gladiators appeared in the arena, they were given a last supper.
Spectators were actually allowed to come and watch them eat this, and we have descriptions of how some ate heartily and seemed to enjoy the occasion.
And it must have been a very poignant scene.
How's your neck, Emperor? It's just a scratch.
The badge of any true gladiator.
Wear it with honor.
Look you were right to push me.
It would have been unfair to send you into the arena unprepared.
I failed my duty as your trainer.
Will you forgive me? I already have.
Listen to them.
You are part of a brotherhood now.
"To be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, "and to be killed by the sword.
" Those men out there in the pit, they're your they're your family.
So am I, and I know you will do us honor.
Commodus has laid the groundwork for the most impressive show of games the Empire has ever seen.
And while the Emperor knows he's not ready to fight, he still decides to move forward, determined to secure his legacy.
My brothers.
Tomorrow is the beginning of 14 days of games.
The greatest that have been since the dedication of the Coliseum.
Untold glory awaits us.
By the time the festival is over, Rome will have been born anew, into an era of unprecedented greatness, and she will have been lifted there upon your mighty shoulders.
As Emperor, I salute you.
And as a Gladiator, it's an honor to be one of you.
I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.
- "I will endure to be burned" - "I will endure to be burned" - " to be bound" - " to be bound" - " to be beaten" - " to be beaten" - " and to be killed by the sword!" - " and to be killed by the sword!" - "I will endure to be burned" - "I will endure to be burned" - " to be bound" - " to be bound" " to be beaten" " to be beaten" - " and to be killed by the sword!" - " and to be killed by the sword!" - "I will endure to be burned" - "I will endure to be burned" - " to be bound" - " to be bound" - " to be beaten" - " to be beaten" - " and to be killed by the sword!" - " and to be killed by the sword!" Despite the Senate's outrage, and his unknown fate as a gladiator, Commodus will enter the arena in the morning, not knowing if he'll exit alive.