I, Claudius: Waiting In The Wings
August 14, 2017 10:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Rome, AD 3–5. Gaius has died and Tiberius has been banished to Rhodes for his mistreatment of Julia, who has used his absence to have a series of hedonistic affairs and orgies. One day in the garden, the young Claudius catches a wolf cub dropped from an eagle's claws, leading a seer to predict that he will protect Rome in an hour of need.

"The episode opens with a senile Claudius in his messy study looking for Livia’s letter to Tiberius. The letter begins “ My dear Tiberius the answer I’m afraid is no, Augustus won't even consider it-... despite the sudden and unexplained death of Gaius...”"

I, Claudius: Waiting in the Wings Review
After an extended length episode that introduced us to the Imperial Family, we are treated to Claudius appearing the main storyline as a character. But this time he is portrayed by Ashley Knight, who does a spectacular job capturing the stammer and infirmities of Claudius. Knight is able to deftly show why Tiberius Claudius was shunned and hated by his family. Claudius has a high pitched nasal voice, he twitches and limps and for the most part appears a harmless if embarrassing child to the Imperial family. Knight’s great talent in this performance is in his non-verbal acting, he is able to physically perform all of Claudius impairments in such a natural manner.
posted by the man of twists and turns (5 comments total)
Yeah, that kid basically nailed it.

This is of course the big Julia episode, and one of only two where the very likeable Postumus is a major character.

The laughing scene with Tiberius and Thrasyllus is just amazing. The way you can see Tiberius (and not the actor, the CHARACTER) trying not to crack up.

posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:30 AM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Caught up on the re-watch. I had forgotten how good Brian Blessed is as Augustus. Particularly now that I know a little more Roman history and what Augustus actually did to become Augustus, the performance Blessed gives has much more obvious menace underlying it. In this episode, when he's going down the line in the scene CheesesOfBrazil references, he is honestly terrifying. The two who try to justify it with "Only once" and "not slept" are the standouts for me. They each get a mild response, Augustus smiling at them with pure death in his eyes.

He's also far better matched against Livia than I recalled. She'll get her way, but only out of infinite patience and willingness to play a really long game. One thing I really enjoy about Livia's character is that it's clear she's not just a nefarious schemer. She's often shown with papers in front of her, or engaged in some meeting. It's made obvious she's a big part of running the empire in between poisonings and betrayal. Which makes what she gets away with make more sense.

And speaking of Livia, I've always found Tiberius, at least in this series, and despite everything, to be one of the more sympathetic characters. There's a really clear arc to his misery, and particularly in the early scenes, the possibility of what he could have been if his mom hadn't been bitch queen poisoner from hell.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:03 PM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can see what you mean about feeling sympathetic towards Tiberius, but I think he still is in part responsible for his own misery. Early on you can see that he knows the path Livia sets out for him will make him unhappy, but follows it anyway.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:26 AM on August 17, 2017

5_13_23_42_69_666: Oh, Tiberius certainly is responsible for a good measure of his own misery. I find him sympathetic because being too weak to stand up to Livia and Augustus is fairly reasonable. I can think of only one person in the series who does stand up to her and gets away with it.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:15 PM on August 17, 2017

next episode
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:28 PM on August 22, 2017

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