Mark Watches ‘I, Claudius’: Episode 8 – Reign of Terror

I’m so done with this show, and I’m not even done, and IT JUST KEEPS GETTING MORE UPSETTING.

First things first before I cry: Today’s video file for “Reign of Terror” is available for download here, and all Mark Watches videos are now indexed in my Dropbox folder.

Oh god.

  • Like, if you sat me down a year ago and told me, “Mark, you’re going to watch this miniseries about the intricacies of the latter Roman empire, and by the way, it’s basically a play that was filmed, and there are almost no special effects, and there’s no soundtrack either, and it’s all performed by British actors, and you’re going to be destroyed by it,” I would have called you silly. Because out of context of the show, this description is silly, and yet it’s exactly what I, Claudius does. It’s horrifically simplistic in its execution, and that’s where its power comes from. A good script and a magnificent set of performances are all this miniseries depends on.
  • And while this show certainly paints its villains in a negative light, it’s still one of the more pervasively unnerving things I’ve witnessed. “Reign of Terror” in particular examines political ambition, and how that is exaggerated within the social culture of Rome under Tiberius. As we watch Sejanus scheme to be with Livilla at all costs while pursuing the chance to be the next Caesar, we then are subject to his horrifying downfall at the hands of someone just as murderous and ambitious as him. Macro is not this story’s hero in the slightest. He betrays Sejanus not for the good of the state, but to elevate himself.
  • If anyone were to be a hero, I’d argue that only Agrippina and Claudius have (thusfar) remained unscathed from the perverse corruption of this empire. In terms of characters that are still living, that is. I think Antonia is much too complex to categorize as simple as a hero, for what it’s worth.
  • Anyway, HOLY SHIT. Like, half the suspense of this period of the miniseries is knowing what’s coming next. We know Sejanus was never the emperor, and we know Caligula succeeds Tiberius. So Sejanus’s death is inevitable, and it becomes a matter of waiting for it to happen. Oh my god, that whole scene outside of the Senate is PAINFUL TO WATCH.
  • And it only gets worse as Sejanus is murdered, his children are raped and murdered, and Antonia locks Livilla in a room TO STARVE TO DEATH. WHAT IS THIS. HOW. I mean, I know these stories are largely based on historical events, but that doesn’t make them any easier to watch.
  • The acting on this show is just so consistently good, and now I am terrified of what’s next. We are so close to Tiberius’s death and Caligula’s reign, and I’m frightened by how much they’ll show of what Caligula did. I AM GENUINELY SCARED. PS: John Hurt is SO INCREDIBLE as Caligula.

I am so unprepared for tomorrow’s episode.

Mark Links Stuff

– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
– If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am doing a live reading/Mark Does Stuff event at Borderlands Books on April 21st at 5pm. Come on out! I’ll have copies of my latest book to purchase and sign.
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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