Mark Watches ‘I, Claudius’: Episode 10 – Hail Who?


The video file for “Hail Who?” is available for download here, and all Mark Watches videos are indexed in my Dropbox folder.

This was not what I expected at all.

  • Which is the general case for the show, of course. But what the fuck did I just watch? Oh my god, John Hurt, I am kind of sad that you won’t be on any future episodes simply because you’re so incredible as Caligula. 
  • It’s endlessly fascinating to me that Caligula is portrayed as being partially aware of his delusion. He makes multiple references to the fact that he knows he is giving his subjects impossible situations to navigate, such as demanding that the senators not celebrate his return, but then publicly berating them for following his commands. How much of his delusional behavior did he believe? I think that’s directly related to how he was “more afraid than the rest of us,” as Calpurnia put it. (Actually, I may have gotten the wrong character there. Perhaps Caesonia said that? Oh god, I can’t find it online.) I don’t think Caligula, at least in this version of him, totally believed everything he was doing. I think he was enabled to do whatever the hell he wanted with the power that he had, and he got off on getting away with everything.
  • I will say that it was distracting that there were quite a few instances of background noise or dialogue covering up the main dialogue. It was realistic, sure, but the show had never done this before, so it felt strange. That being said, that whole brothel/orgy sequence in the beginning was overwhelming and claustrophobic! I think it was filmed in a way to convey that to us, and it was done well. I feel weird complimenting that, since it was such a horrifying thing. COMPLICATED.
  • For real, I thought that Caligula summoned Claudius to witness an execution, so when he came out in that outfit and started dancing around, I feel like I’d been transported to an alternate universe. That was, without a doubt, the strangest scene in I, Claudius history. I don’t even know what to say, y’all. Well, okay, John Hurt was amazing, his make-up was downright stunning, and I think, after the fact, it was incredibly hilarious. But WHAT AN EXPERIENCE.
  • So, I’d forgotten how Caligula was murdered, so the last fifteen minutes of this episode was super, super tense for me. LORD.
  • I think this miniseries has done a fine job of showing us just how vicious it must have been to be Claudius. In this episode alone, he’s married to Messalina purely as a joke, and this is later followed up with him being made emperor purely as a joke. The Praetorian Guard crown him as caesar just for their own amusement! And this is a theme we’ve seen time and time again. Claudius is demonized and dismissed for his disability, and it’s fucking horrifying.
  • Oh god, the look on Cassius’s face when he realizes what’s happened. THIS IS JUST GOING TO GET WORSE, ISN’T IT? Of course it is!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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