I re-watched all of season 1 as HBO played the episodes leading up to the start of season 2 and I've watched the first two shows of this season. Like many of you have stated, the first couple of shows last season seemed slow and just didn't click. I think all the hype combined with the disappointing slow start to the series drove off a lot of viewers - something I think happened with Carnivale, too. By the end of the season, I think the show had hit it's stride and was living up to the hype that preceded it. The final episodes of season 1, in my opinion, were approaching the quality of the shows from Deadwood's last season. I'm not quite sure where the line is on giving away plot points to season 1 in this thread, so I'll just say that the increasing intensity, emotion, and inter-connectedness of the various plot-lines resulted in a spectacular end to the first season.
Season 2 has started off on the same level as season 1 ended. By this point, we know the characters fairly well and, even better, the actors/actresses know their characters even better. Ray Stevenson's Pullo and Kevin McKidd's Vorenus get better and better and better every episode. Polly Walker's Atia and Lindsey Duncan's Servilia are also fantastic characters and antagonists. The one performer who's really step forward this season is James Purefoy who plays Marc Antony. Now that Ceaser has been killed, Antony has stepped out from the shadows and it's been fun to watch the combination of guile, brutality, charm, boorishness, and bored disinterest in governance which he's been putting on display.
I would suggest that anyone who just didn't get into the show in the first season to rent the first season DVDs and push through the first few episodes and watch the entire season. Rome is good show, a very good show, and it gets better and better each and every episode. I would not, though, suggest watching Rome for the first time at this point in the show. The ever increasing pace, intensity, and emotion of Rome is a cumulative effect resulting from each episode feeding upon all the previous episodes. Without seeing those previous episodes, it's going to be hard to understand what's happening and there's more chance Rome will come off as overly populated with characters with an overly convoluted plot.
Anyway, that's my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.
oh, wait........I forget to tell you what I think of Concordia. Do you want to know what I think of Concordia?