The episode opens with old Claudius wobbling down the hallway, candelabrum in one hand, piss pot in the other. As he strains to evacuate himself, he mutters about the ill effect of mushrooms and too many midnight snacks. "Too much work, must get it all down." He begins to contemplate his work in progress, the death of Augustus and the accession of Uncle Tiberius, a reluctant emperor. Still all power corrupts and only Germanicus kept the filthy brute in check. Tiberius sent him to Syria to take command and then ....

AAAAAAAAAH!!!!! Shift to Antioch where an aggravating Agrippina, with Lil' Boots in tow, enters the crowded death chamber of her husband. She imperiously orders his body to be laid out in the local market place for all to see the marks of poison and witchery. Rome should be notified that Germanicus is dead. She breaks down bemoaning the fact that he was all that stood between Rome and its imperial destiny. A sinister Caligula comforts his mother.

Sometime later, the funeral cortege lands at Brundisium where they are met by Claudius, Castor, the children of Germanicus and a throng of well-wishers. Agrippina's opening speech, "Thus my children does your father come home to you: ashes in an urn," rallies the crowd. After entrusting the ashes to Castor with a charge to avenge Germanicus' death and commiserating with Claudius, she notices the absence of a few key family members. When Herod Agrippa tells her that Livia and Tiberius are too "grief stricken" to show themselves, she flies into a demagogic rage. With the crowd suitably stoked by her fiery rhetoric, she orders the procession on to Rome.

Cut to Tiberius in his palace, very much rattled at the outpouring of public grief for Germanicus. Sejanus does his to best to reassure him, while a corpse-like Livia counters with winged barbs. Tiberius: "They always prefered him to me,why?" Livia: "You just don't have a loveable nature." Sejanus: "Well at any rate if he's profoundly loved, he's also profoundly dead. Everybody's loved when he's dead." Livia: "I wouldn't count on that if I were you." The purpose of Livia's visit is finally revealed: Castor and Agrippina plan to prosecute Piso and Plancina for the murder of Germanicus. Livia wants the trial fixed. Tiberius wants no trial at all. Fed up with Livia's interference he zings, "Has it ever occured to you, Mother, that it's you they hate, not me?" "There is nothing in this world that occurs to you that has not occured to me first, that is the affliction I live with," retorts Livia who, as usual, gets the final word.

This scene opens at a dinner meeting of the "I Hate Tiberius Support Group". Agrippina, IHTSG's founder, fails to convince her mother-in-law Antonia of Tiberius' involvement in Germanicus' death. Their attorney will bring charges of treason and murder against Piso. When Herod asks about the nature of their evidence, Agrippina launches into a descriptive narrative. A naked dead painted horned baby, a cat corpse with rudimentary wings, a human head with a child's hand in its mouth, an inscribed skull, the number 17 and a vanishing letter game all point to Plancina's witchy skills. An eavesdropping Caligula interupts the session, with the bat-dream excuse. Antonia and Agrippina disagree about how to handle the little tyke. He wants to sleep with his sister. An outraged Antonia chases him off to bed. The conversation resumes with talk of a star witness, one Martina, who must be kept hidden from Sejanus. Trial strategy is next on the agenda with Clau Clau being very cle cle clever. His rationale for a Se
nate venue meets with unanimous approval. This way, not only Piso but Tiberius too will be on trial.

Shift to a shocked Piso, who has returned to Rome only to hear that his trial has been set for the Senate. Tiberius explains that he had no grounds to oppose the venue. An uneasy Piso tries to reassure himself- he has friends in the Senate and Tiberius, after all, will preside over the case. But Piso seems to have the wind knocked out of him when informed of the treason charge. Building up an indignant head of steam, he wonders if he will be blamed for the Syrian drought too. As Piso admits that he and Germanicus had issues, Plancina chimes in for a duet of a litany of indignities suffered at the hands of the imperious Agrippina. At official banquets they were seated on the third couch- the horror! "She gives herself such airs she might have been queen." Maiestas, my ass. This P&P moment is interrupted by an important message from Sejanus. Piso reassures a nervous Plancina that Tiberius is a cold fish who can be trusted. Besides, Piso has a trump card up his toga. Tiberius returns, interrogating them about the woman Martina. P & P squirm under the scrutiny, realizing they're about to be caught in their own web.

Meanwhile, a safehouse is procured for Martina. Concerns arise when armed guards accompany Claudius' "mom" into her new digs. Herod and Claudius haggle with the landlord whose sudden obsession with mosaic law dissolves when Claudius slips him a few Tiberius heads.


The scene opens with Tiberius convening the Senate trial against Piso. Two charges are to be considered: one of murder, the other of treason - inciting rebellion, bribing troops, waging war to regain his province. Castor presents the prosecution's opening arguments.

Fade to the screaching, door slamming entrance of Caligula. Claudius takes a tumble and a mortified Antonia pushes him away to get her hands on the little pink perv. He escapes her German grasp with his teeth. Claudius defends him, while Antonia recoils with revulsion recounting the bedtime rituals of Caligula and sis. She's ready to employ the lock-n-starve method of child chastisement. When Claudius balks, she loses it: Caligula is a monster and Claudius is a blockhead who should have died instead of Germanicus. Shocked by her own outburst, she rushes from the room . A victorious Caligula mocks her departure. Now it's time for Uncle Claudius to have a little stammer with the young pup. "Dddooon't you knknoow you shshoulldn't pppplaaay games with your sister!" Caligula's spirits are a not a bit dampened, but his face is. Herod and Agrippina sweep in with troubling news: Martina is missing. They suspect Sejanus. A suddenly maternal Agrippina asks Claudius why Caligula is in his chambers. When she hears that the little scamp was about to be thrashed for being a very very naughty baby, she launches into her over-protective mother routine. As Caligula is whisked away, he kicks Uncle Claud's scrolls down the hall.
Meanwhile back at the trial, Piso, fidgeting with his toga, presents his defense. He was no where near Antioch, but on the island of Cos on his way back to Rome when he heard of Germanicus' death. As to his orgy of celebratory sacrificing, one ewe and a goat- what orgy? Besides, it was to celebrate the birth of a grandson. The living have their rights as well as the dead. Castor questions why Piso went back to Syria and not on to Rome. Piso claims it was still his province, despite the fact that a new governor had been appointed by Germanicus. While Piso expounds, "I had my appointment, I had my instructions, I knew where my loyalties lay," he not- so-nonchalantly extracts a few scrolls out of his toga and dramatically lays them upon the table. The Senate erupts. A phlegmatic Tiberius threatens to adjourn if order is not maintained. Castor and most of the Senate want the scrolls to be read as evidence. They do, however, carry the imperial seal. Piso claims they are for display only and just happen to be among his papers. When Tiberius rules that there is no precedent for the use of imperial correspondence as court evidence, Piso smuggly grins.

At the end of the day, a jubilant Piso is accompanied home by senatorial supporters. He thinks it went well. A more pragmatic Plancina fears for the worst. She thinks he's overplayed his hand with the scrolls- if Tiberius were really backing them the trial would never have taken place. Piso disagrees. Tiberius needs the trial for show, acquittal is imminent. If we're guilty, so are the emperor and his mother. We were only following orders. Plancina questions whether those orders included murder. Piso shifts that responsibility to her. In a fit of paranoia, Plancina vehemently accuses Piso of scapegoating. Enter Sejanus. Guards have been placed around Piso's house by order of the emperor - for the purpose of safety. Martina has unaccountably dissappeared. Oh and by the way, the emperor wants the letters. Documents of state belong in the archives. A petulant Piso promises to remember every word of the correspondence. As Sejanus departs, scrolls in hand, Piso changes his tone. Plancina grimaces as a desperate Piso grovels.

Shift to a semi-private conference in the palace between Tiberius and his enforcer. Sejanus advises that Tiberius cut Piso loose. People are already dragging his statues to the Tiber. The only way Tiberius can disassociate himself is to convict. To insure Tiberius' decision, Sejanus plays his ace- people are blaming Tiberius and praising Agrippina as the glory of her country, the only true decendent of Augustus. Piso thinks you will save him, but you must not. At this moment, Agrippina swoops into the doorway interrupting this imperial tete-a-tete. She stridently declaims that she and all of Rome hold Tiberius personally responsible for Germanicus' death until he proves his innocence. She will not rest until justice is served. Tiberius paraphrases from a lost tragedy, "the fact that you are not queen my dear, is that the greatest injustice of all? She counters with a vengeance rant- "Rome will not rest and neither shall I." Then she and her minions scurry past Sejanus and Tiberius. A rattled Tiberius inquires as to the whereabouts of the witness Martina. Sejanus is at a loss. Now, evidently convinced of Sejanus' sage strategy, he bellows orders that Martina must be found, how can we get a conviction without her.

It seems it was Livia who beat Sejanus to the punch. While Martina stuffs her face, Livia compares notes on poison. Aconitum is the poison recommended by two out of three professionals. Plancina proved her amateur status by insisting on belladona which always leaves a telltale red rash. Livia wonders how Martina gained access to Germanicus. Caligula. His paedagogos would bring him by Martina's after their daily walk. He told her with great conviction that he was born a god. She challenged him to the Death Game, saying that scaring someone to death should be easy for a god. Livia is shocked at this info. Do you mean to tell me that that child was responsible for poisoning his own father? That child's no god, he's a monster. Shocking isn't it? A sudden pain punctuates Martina's narrative. Livia assures her it is just "wind" by sampling some of the food. Martina wonders what will become of her. Livia tells her she's lucky that her agents found Martina first. If she had been found by Tiberius' agents, Martina would have more that wind to complain about.

Tiberius reconvenes the trial. The defense argues for acquittal since the star witness cannot be produced. Request denied. Plancina directs her attorney to ask for a separate trial, .
Fade to casa Pisonis, where he implores Plancina to reconsider. She tells him that his fate is sealed, but her's isn't. Livia at least stands by her friends. At this Piso's manhood withers. Plancina pleads with pouty Piso to put his progeny primo. "Fall on a sword, is that to be the end of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso?" The sword talk seems to stiffen his resolve. He threatens to play his trump card- the scroll without a seal. A panicky Plancina hopes he's bluffing with his hard ball tactics. Piso, now regaining his virlity, seductively poses on the couch a la Kate Winslet in Titanic - but he manages to keep his toga on.

Shift to Livia and Tiberius verbally sparring. "Don't look at me as if I just told you I was pregnant." "You wrote a letter in my name without using The Seal." You were away. Augustus let her use his seal. Well I'm not Augustus! No, you're not, we wouldn't be in this mess if he were emperor. Tiberius refuses her request for acquital. There will be no deals. When she threatens to circulate unflattering letters from Augustus about Tiberius, he wigs out. "I'll tell you what I will do, it's your letter, you stick to it and if it's read in the house I'll deny all knowledge of it and excuse you on the grounds of mental incompetence brought on by extreme old age and you can tell your friend Plancina there will be no deal." The best that Livia can sputter is "what a miserable, spineless, mean spirited creature you are"....Advantage Tiberius.  

Next, Livia runs to Plancina telling her that Tiberius won't acquit Piso, but in exchange for the letter, Plancina and property can be spared if Piso commits suicide. "Appeal to his sense of honor, men find that irresistable." Plancina asks what guarantee she has for acquital. Livia tells her she has Martina. No witness, no Plancina conviction. But, if the letter is read, Livia will be compelled, very reluctantly, to produce her.

Plancina, playing the distressed victim, convinces Piso that Tiberius has abandoned them. They're too powerful, we're helpless, we must save our family, we lived together- we should died together. I couldn't live without you. We'll leave the letter to Livia who will help the family when we go. Piso & Plancina go all Romeo & Juliet in their penultimate moment. Piso chickens out. Plancina, calling him a coward, pretends to kill herself, but as Piso goes to save her, she sticks the knife into him and makes it appear as suicide. As Piso plummets to the pavement, she retrieves the letter and throws it into the fire.

The flame segue reveals a pretty little pink pyro. Agrippina at another dinner meeting of the IHTSG whines about Piso's death and Plancina's acquittal. Claudius says at least that's some justice. Agrippina worries about her boys. Castor blames Sejanus. Herod smells something burning. It turns out to be Antonia's villa. Roman Slave fire alarm sends everyone scurrying

Another flame segue: Old Claudius has set his clothes aflame while falling asleep on the pot.