In the latest episode of The Borgias, our anticipation of the worst morning after is confirmed, we get introduced to the beginnings of a Crusade, and we may never eat chestnuts again.
Let’s bitch it out…
This episode picks up the day after Alfonzo (Sebastian De Souza) and Lucrezia’s (Holliday Grainger) wedding. I am seriously getting annoyed with Alfonzo (okay, I have been for a while). When he admits to King Ferdinand (Matias Varela) that his marriage is unconsummated, he sets in motion an awkward family encounter in which Pope Alexander (Jeremy Irons) and Cesare (François Arnaud) are forced to agree “for the good of the family.”
I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on 15th century marital contracts, but the scene of King Ferdinand and Cesare watching the marriage be consummated seems entirely contrived to toy with our emotions. That, of course, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. So. Many. Feelings! The scene is really uncomfortable to watch and the emotions on Cesare’s face: gut-wrenching. On a side note, how could King Ferdinand not notice that Lucrezia is staring at Cesare during the whole…”consummation” process?
Afterwards, Cesare sits Lucrezia down to explain that what was between them has no place in their future. They should both move on to find happiness. Cesare is very selfish in many ways – doing whatever it takes to gain power, killing the husbands of women he wants, etc so it is interesting to see that this is where his humanity lies. Deep down he knows that this relationship is wrong and tries to set both of them on the right path. Off to France to find a wife (preferably one not related to him)!
Meanwhile, Guilia Fernase (Lotte Verbeek) and her brother engage in appropriate sibling activities. After Alessandro (Cyron Melville) is newly appointed Cardinal, he is assigned the review of the papal financial accounts. Guilia helps him with his Vatican homework, discovering that Cardinal Versucci (Vernon Dobtcheff) emptied the coffers throughout his tenure.
Micheletto (Sean Harris) is sent out to find Versucci and the money. I’m pretty sure Versucci has heard the water cooler talk about Micheletto’s predilections, so he kills himself before Micheletto can. Unfortunately, he does so with none of the stolen money on his person.
The Pope confesses to Guilia his concern that he will never be able to keep his Cardinals in line. There is no way to ensure their loyalty. Don’t worry, Guilia’s on the case. Yay, Guilia finally gets a plotline! I was beginning to wonder why she was still around. Guilia creates a Banquet of Chestnuts, a night of debauchery for all the new Cardinals (including prostitutes dressed as nuns). Apparently in the days before iPhone videos uploaded on YouTube, you had the papal scribe hiding in a corner taking notes on all the shady goings on. Et voila! The Pope now has his leverage. This scene killed me though. If you’re a Cardinal, how could you not realize an event set up by the Pope is a test or trap?!?
While this is going on, an envoy from Venice requests the Pope’s help against the Turks, who have been raiding coastal towns and disrupting trade. Luckily for Venice, the Pope agrees to bring the merchants together to pledge a crusade against the Turks. After rousing support he drops his bombshell: the Crusades will be funded through more taxes on the merchants! Smooth. I hope this story line gets some more play down the road since it will bring new life to the politics and war of the time period that does not completely center on Forli.
In the ongoing Catherina Sforza (Gina McKee) unfriendliness, she teams up with Patrick O’Kane’s Duke Gonzaga (who I VAGUELY remember from last season). They send his wife to the Vatican to sleep with the Pope again and publicly accuse him of adultery. I suppose this is all part of her plan to “confound the Pope” but I think I’m ready for some all-out war. I’m done with intrigue. Let’s do this!
- RIP Cardinal Versucci, we knew you were not long for this world.
- I recently watched the series premiere of Da Vinci’s Demons, which takes place around the same timeframe and locations as The Borgias. The contrast between the two shows reminds me of how amazing the set pieces and cinematography on The Borgias is. It is truly movie-quality, which is hard to do with a TV budget (particularly a TV show that doesn’t pull in big ratings). Well done, Neil Jordan!
- Pope Alexander: “We thank you for bringing our suffering to our attention, we were not aware” I could not stop laughing at this exchange. Subtle, The Borgias, subtle
- Lucrezia (trying to avoid sex): “Maybe our love has to be more of the soul” Alfonzo: “You mean like brother and sister” Lucrezia: “…No, not like that”
What did you think of the latest episode? Are you excited to get into some Crusades action? Would you have been fooled by an event organized by Guilia? Did you enjoy the fall-out from the brother/sister loving? Sound off below!
The Borgias airs Sundays at 10pm EST on Showtime