This week the French army marches on Italy, Catherina Sforza (Gina McGee) turns the plague into a biological weapon, and the Pope (Jeremy Irons) decides it’s time to throw a party.
Let’s bitch it out…
You know what’s a really good idea? When you bring an army into your dad’s backyard, let him know. Do him a kindness and send him some pigeon mail before he has a heart attack. Cesare (François Arnaud), however, does not do this so when the Pope finds out the French army is in Italy, he freaks out thinking it’s an invasion. During a meeting with his generals, Cesare walks in and lets the Pope know the army is in fact there at his request. Oh, and he’s in charge of them…and he appointed a Cardinal…and congratulate him, he’s an honest man now.
Showtime has been plugging this season as the one where Cesare comes into his own, and this scene really nails it. Once he’s alone with the Pope, Cesare maps out his plan of how he’s going to secure their control of Italy, never asking his dad’s permission. After Cesare ends the conversation and opens the door to witnesses, the Pope yells, “Cesare, ride North” as if he still has a say in the matter, trying in vain to hold onto his power in this relationship. After watching François Arnaud fully develop Cesare over the past few seasons from a boy who wants his father’s approval to a man who’s going to take what he wants, you have to wonder why he’s not a bigger star. This guy can act.
Cesare moves towards Milan to kill the Duke (another Sforza) and give the city to France (his promise in exchange for the army). The good news: Milan is abandoned and theirs for the taking. The bad news: the Duke and his army are nowhere to be found. In a smart move, Cesare realizes that he needs to reduce his number of enemies and gets the families of the Romagna and their armies on his side. He courts the “bastard sons” by preying on their desire to make their mark, getting respect and land. Also, Cesare straight up frightens them. In the most amazing “Three Musketeers” homage, the men stand with their swords together to solidify their alliance. I started screaming “All for one” on my couch…embarrassing.
Meanwhile, Pope Alexander continues to focus on the important stuff. It’s time to throw a big year-long party! As the Pope searches for a way to fund the Jubilee, a Jewish community shows up in Rome after being exiled from Constantinople. More people to tax! In lieu of monetary pledges, their leader Mattai (Brendan Cowell) offers the Pope a relic: the Spear of Longinus, the weapon Jesus was stabbed with during the crucifixion. There is a bit of a kerfuffle when two Cardinals try to prove the spear is fake and produce another, but in the end the Pope sides with Mattai and allows the community to remain in Rome. “The Holy Mother Church is driven by belief,” he says, “and we choose to believe that this is the Spear of Longinus.” On a side note, according to Wikipedia (my source of knowledge on such matters) there are currently four spears across the globe claiming this ancestry.
Over in enemy territory, Caterina Sforza has Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) go to a plague-decimated village and retrieve an infected cloth. I really hope Rufio gets hazard duty pay. He seals the cloth in an elaborate box and ships it off to the Pope, presumably as a peace offering?
As Cesare spots Cardinal Costanzo (Leo Bill) bringing the box to Alexander, he tells the Cardinal to burn it instead. There are some topics you don’t want Cesare’s advice on – hair styling or appropriate romantic relationships for example. However, when he gives you an order regarding an enemy, generally you should listen to it. That’s just my two cents. Unfortunately, Cardinal Costanzo thinks it’s a waste to throw away the beautiful box and opens it, infecting his entire household with the plague. Sucks to be him!
- I’m very confused by the Cesare/Lucrezia (Holliday Grianger) scene. Presumably it’s a device to explain the state of succession in Naples and to bring the two of them together. But wasn’t Lucrezia in Naples and Cesare in Rome? Now all the sudden they’re putzing around some sort of festival with fireworks? Seems like bad editing. I could have used a throwaway line about Lucrezia traveling to Rome, or where they were…
- Hands down the creepiest image from this show is the close up of Rufio’s face covered in powder as he’s trying to decontaminate from the plague.
- I really like the title of this episode, “Relics.” Referring not only to the spear, but also to the Pope’s role in war and politics. As one of the “bastard sons” says, “Rome is no longer just the Pope, it is Cesare Borgia also.” It’s the dawning of a new era.
- Cesare: “I brought you an army father, would you have me send it back?”
- Lucrezia: “If I married a thousand times, it would always be the wrong choice”
- Cesare: “A father may forget that one day a son may follow his example, not his advice”
What did you think of the episode? What character do you think has had the most development throughout the show’s past 3 seasons? Do you agree that Rufio’s decontaminated visage was terrifying? And what will happen now that the plague is loose? Sound off below!
The Borgias is taking two weeks off for Memorial Day and returns Sunday, June 2 at 10pm EST on Showtime