How? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT THIS?
First things first! The video file for “Queen of Heaven” is available for download here, and all Mark Watches videos will now be indexed in my Dropbox folder.
Now, let’s get to suffering:
- Pardon me for repeating myself, but I opened the video commission for this episode by stating how surprised I was that I reached a point where I wasn’t sure I was going to like this show. (That was by the end of “What Shall We Do About Claudius?”) As if my statements could somehow affect the past, I, Claudius immediately became a combination of stunning acting and relentless nightmare fuel, and these episodes were the opposite of slow and sluggish. Holy shit, this is intense.
- And really, I think it’s quite a feat that a show that features only dialogue and very staged acting can be so unendingly suspenseful. There is no flashy CGI, no appropriate music, no cues from the writing or acting about what to expect next. This entire show rests entirely on acting and performances. That’s incredible.
- I really should refrain from making any hyperbolic statements about how disturbing this show is becoming because it’s getting worse and worse. “Queen of Heaven” in particular opens with a narrative sleight-of-hand as Titus’s wife tricks her friends into thinking she’s going to perform something for them, and instead uses the time to give a terrifying monologue about how she was essentially raped and sexually assaulted by Tiberius, his slaves, and possibly Caligula as well. And then she kills herself in grief. AND THIS IS HOW THIS EPISODE OPENS.
- The descent into Rome’s most hellish and depraved era only gets more fucked up. What we witness in this episode is Tiberius’s complete confidence in Sejanus, how that man’s ambition is turning Rome into a tyrannical state, and how Tiberius constantly and viciously enables the worst in Caligula.
- I DID NOT RECOGNIZE JOHN HURT AS CALIGULA AT ALL. OH MY GOD. I JUST FOUND OUT FROM IMBD. HOW? HOW ARE YOU SUCH A GOOD ACTOR? HIS VERSION OF CALIGULA TERRIFIES ME, Y’ALL.
- Hey, guess what the best part of this is? Livia’s confession to Claudius. I remarked in the video for this episode that it was stunning to see how her behavior changed towards her grandson. Granted, the text openly acknowledges that she was doing this out of fear that she’d be cast into hell, but at the same time, Claudius still appreciates that his grandmother is finally looking upon him positively in any context. Watching these two interact was electrifying, and it’ll probably be my favorite scene in I, Claudius once I’m done the show.
- I’ll miss Siân Phillips dearly, as she was my favorite performer in the cast. God, her death scene was just… how? How do people do that? Honestly, that’s how fantastic I thought she was. Do you ever watch someone’s performance and wonder how on Earth it’s possible that a human being can act so well? Well, there you go, Siân Phillips. That’s the only way I can deal with you.
- Herod’s surprising defense of Claudius at the end was another great moment, too. I know they’ve been friends for years, but it’s rare that anyone ever backs him up like this, at least not since Germanicus died.
- This can only get more unnerving from here on out. Tiberius is going to die soon, and Caligula is next, and I am so scared, y’all.