Romeo X Juliet – 18
Still at the mansion in Mantua, Conrad and the others are discussing their plan to attack Neo Verona and the need for anti-Montague forces. Soon after Conrad talks about having a way to find their allies in Mantua, Balthazar brings in a cart of apples that contains a hidden compartment full of swords. Juliet, however, isn’t entirely happy with the thought that a lot of people will get hurt from now on, so Conrad points out that if they don’t do this now, then even more people’s lives will be trampled on. Meanwhile, Romeo has established his new town with the men from the Gradisca mines and is working hard when Pietro returns from a nearby town after having traded some swords for large bags of food since swords and armor are apparently selling very well there. Romeo later heads out to the stream to fill some barrels with water, but on his way back with the heavy load, he encounters the old man who he had last seen when he was with Juliet. When the old man asks Romeo about how Juliet is doing and mentions having felt the cries of the tree roots, Romeo reveals that he’s been separated from her, though he believes that they’ll someday be together. Since the old man feels that that someday may be slow coming, he gives Romeo a bag of special seeds that are strong in coldness and can withstand dry conditions.
Later that day, after returning to the settlement, Romeo is approached by Giovanni and asked if they really intend to live here in these dead lands. Giovanni feels that they won’t be able to feed themselves with just a fantasy, so Romeo presents the seeds that he got and his vision of being able to eventually let everyone’s families join them. Back in Mantua, Balthazar learns from a flying horse merchant that the men from the Gradisca mine have settled in a town of Elbe, so he passes the news along to Curio. William meanwhile presents his new work to the Capulet group which has Antonio and Regan in the leading roles, Juliet as a knight, and Conrad as the evil king. During rehearsal, William isn’t happy with the way Juliet is performing in a scene where she attacks the king, reminding Juliet of how she doesn’t hate Montague because she loves his son. However, for the sake of the Capulet family and the citizens of Neo Verona, Juliet knows that she has to kill him. Inside the mansion, Curio asks Francisco what he is seeking from Juliet, so Francisco admits that she is the only hope for him. When Francisco says that he wants to see the new Neo Verona that she builds, Curio notes that this rests on Juliet’s sacrifice and questions what happens to Juliet’s own happiness. Curio then tries to make Francisco choose between Juliet’s happiness and the future of Neo Verona, but Francisco feels that it’s impossible for Juliet to be happy without the rebuilding of the city. For that, he’s willing to make any sacrifice, including his own life.
While promoting the new play sometime later, Antonio learns from Regan about the men from the Gradisca mine being nearby, so he goes to ask Juliet why she doesn’t go see Romeo. Juliet at first doesn’t feel that she can leave the mansion, but on William and Curio’s advice, she decides to go after all. Curio accompanies her to the village, and although Romeo’s home is empty, Juliet finds that everyone there is quite happy and have been given hope to live by Romeo. Figuring out that Juliet is the person who gave Romeo the handkerchief, Giovanni and the others inform her that he’s gone to the abandoned church again. It is there that Juliet finds Romeo wondering aloud to himself what kind of flowers Juliet would want him to fill the town with. Juliet surprises him by appearing and saying that although she likes a lot of flowers, if he can only give one, she’d choose a rose. She then runs into his arms and the two kiss.
A big part of this episode seems to establish that Romeo is able to be a leader, though I would point out that the old man helped him a ton by providing him with the seeds needed to perhaps sustain their village and to keep Giovanni and the others from leaving. It’s still a mystery as to why the old man continues to help Romeo, but he seems as connected to the Escalus stuff as Ophelia is, minus a lot of the cryptic messages. Overall though, it still feels like they’re delaying until the inevitable clash between families and allegiances. I did enjoy that final scene where we finally see some progress made on the Romeo and Juliet front, but for the most part, I’d like to see the pace of the story increase a little. Next week, however, appears to be about the play that the Capulets are putting on.