Fiery preaching, political plots, scandal, and more mayhem, the Borgias are back at it again this week with Rodrigo planning Lucrezia’s wedding, and Cardinal Della Rovere plotting against Rome. No, they just can’t play nice ;)
“Oh degenerate Church! I gave you my house, saith the Lord, and you have defiled it with outrage! This Pope is a lecherous abomination!…Florence! You will pay for your greed and usury when he grinds you to perdition! ” ~ Girolamo Savonarola
OUCH! Rodrigo is not making friends and Cardinal Della Rovere hears his saviour in the fiery Dominican preacher Savonarola. It seems as if our angry Cardinal has found himself the perfect ally. Della Rovere is in Florence rounding up sympathizers and plotting against “our hero” Rodrigo. He dines with Machiavelli (how cool is that?!) and tells him that he will see the King of France to ask him to invade Italy. He tells him about Lucrezia’s marriage into the Sforza family and that the Pope will try and ally his sons through other strategic marriages; Juan to a Venetian or Spaniard, and Gioffre to a Florentine or Neapolitan. The deal is this: France gets Naples, Della Rovere gets Rome. What he’s asking of Machiavelli is for him to do nothing, to allow France to march through unmolested to invade Italy. Machiavelli doesn’t look too thrilled at the idea and tells Della Rovere, “That’s a different kind of nothing. That will cost you something”.
“I’ve had a vision Cardinal, of a great army from the north…women lie dead in their beds, suckling babes will be snatched from the breast and dashed against the city walls. This army will march south like the Mongol Hordes towards Rome, invited in by a cleric in red…are you the one, Cardinal Della Rovere? ” ~ Girolamo Savonarola
Savonarola was known for his prophetic pronouncements and this vision stirs Cardinal Della Rovere into action. He finds support in Savonarola who abhors the papal corruption of Rome under Rodrigo. As much as it pains the Cardinal to have his beautiful Italy invaded, he feels he must do this for the greater good, not just as a sore loser who wants the role of Pope. You really get the sense that Della Rovere is wrestling with this decision. There will be a great loss of life, so it had not better be just about him. It’s become bigger than that – it’s about what he perceives to be terrible corruption in his Church that this loss of life is worth saving for the good of the Church long term.
“The Sforza lineage is a noble one. They have requested that there be no…hint of scandal. I mean that you cannot attend because of your past” – Rodrigo Borgia
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, preparations are being made for Lucrezia’s wedding and Rodrigo has to impart some nasty news to Vanozza. She was once a courtesan so the Sforza family does not want her in attendance at the wedding even though she is the mother of the bride. Poor Vanozza, she’s totally getting shafted by Rodrigo, while he shows off his new lover, Giulia Farnese. It’s a heartbreaking scene, you feel for Vanozza and hate Giulia Farnese all the more.
“I have sinned in thought Father and I’m about to sin indeed…but can one sin for the greater good? Can one spill blood to rid the world of a greater evil? ~ Della Rovere
Cesare and Michelotto are now plotting what to do about Cardinal Della Rovere since Michelotto’s murderFAILS in Naples. They find a mendicant, Giancarlo, who has not yet chosen an order, to spy on Della Rovere in Florence. Giancarlo strategically hides in a confessional when Della Rovere has come to Church alone to say his prayers. He confesses his plan to invade Italy. The mendicant presses too hard for details and messes up by saying he’s a mendicant Benedictine. Benedictines aren’t wandering friars, they stay cloistered in their communities away from the secular world. OOOPS! Get your orders straight, pal. Learn to lie! *palmface* He also accidentally calls Della Rovere “Cardinal”. Della Rovere notices right away and asks him how he knows he’s a Cardinal? OH SNAP! He realizes he’s a Borgia spy and proceeds to stab Giancarlo in the eye through the confession slits! Very graphic, very bloody…word of advice – don’t eat while watching The Borgias :(
Well, two fails here: confessionFAIL and spyFAIL. I guess Della Rovere will have a lot to atone for his stabby-ness next time he’s in confession ;) As for Giancarlo? WORST.SPY.EVER.
“All things are permissible in our dreams” ~ Giulia Farnese
Lucrezia, fully aware that Giulia is her father’s lover, still hangs out with her and then proceeds to take relationship advice from her?! She gets Giulia to teach her how to kiss so she can please her future husband. OK, I get it, she’s 14 but really? You’re taking advice from your father’s mistress?! Giulia also breaks it to her that Vanozza is not coming to her wedding at which point she bursts in on her father, cries, begs and pleads with him to change his mind. Rodrigo walks away and shuts the door on her. Cesare is also non-plussed by his father’s decision. A non-plussed Chezzy is bad news for Rodrigo.
Lucrezia is so green it’s irritating but somehow, you can find it in your heart to forgive her. She’s naive and sweet, truly a clueless wonder; for instance, she buys Cesare’s story about her beloved Cem dying of “swamp fever”. Yup. Swamp fever in the form of Juan with a pillow. You feel for her stupidity because she is easy prey in this dog-eat-dog political landscape. This is probably why Cesare loves her so fiercely and strives to protect her – she’s so innocent it hurts :)
Vanozza gets a visit from her former husband, Theo. They are now just friends and they commiserate on their ill fortunes of being born not of the nobility. Vanozza bristles (rightly so!) at the thought of Giulia being paraded about openly at the wedding while she is forced to hide in shame and her ex-husband, laments that the rules are different for the nobility. They can make the rules to fit their needs – since Giulia is a noble, she can do whatever she likes. Cesare comes into their discussion and makes veiled threats at his mother’s former husband. He is obviously irritated by the man’s presence with his mother. A bit double standard there, Chezzy? ;)
Later on, Cesare and Rodrigo look like they’re playing Risk as they plot out seating arrangements for the upcoming wedding. They are concerned about who sits with whom so that the guests can’t plot against them, but sadly, Cesare points out they will plot anyways if they haven’t already. He tries to bring up his mother at the wedding but Rodrigo shuts him down.
“What Eden have they torn you from” ~ Cesare Borgia
Cesare utters this sadly while looking over a savage brought from the New World. He is shown to be easy to convert and they have him recite a prayer in Latin. It’s a sad scene. Cesare has the decency to see it’s sad and that this poor native has been ripped from his home to be put on display in chains for their amusement like an animal.The savage is brought before the pope and more political maneuvering ensues when he agrees to give Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain papal support for their expedition to the New World in exchange for their support of his papacy.
“I will marry anyone you like if it helps you to sleep” ~ Gioffre Borgia
I enjoyed this sweet, short scene between Rodrigo and his youngest son, Gioffre. He asks Rodrigo how marriage helps him. Rodrigo explains the layout of Italy and it’s politics to his son. He tells him that Rome is small but its power is great because all the kings want to be crowned by the Pope. He explains France and Spain’s claims on Naples and that he, as Pope, has to decide between these claims. He tells him it causes him to lose sleep at which point, the ever sweet Gioffre tells him he’ll marry whoever he likes to help him sleep better :) It was a smile + awwwww moment. I’m liking Gioffre way more than Juan right now…SO.MUCH.
Speaking of which, Juan has occupied himself with preparing vulgar, bawdy theatre for his sister’s wedding. He’s brainless, tasteless and thankfully, has few scenes.
“Lord Sforza, the mother of your blushing bride, Dona Vanozza dei Cattanei” ~ Cesare Borgia
WEDDING SCENE! The wedding is a disaster. Giulia is not only at the wedding, but in the wedding party! WTF?! I was seriously angry at this, while the camera panned to a crying Vanozza in her garden at home, I wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at Giulia the entire time! Cesare presides over the ceremony and weds his sister to Giovanni Sforza who looks like he stepped in shit throughout the entire wedding and reception. He looks like a barrel of laughs. Poor Lucrezia :(
Cesare is pissed after the ceremony and tears off his Cardinal’s robes sending buttons scattering everywhere. He goes home to his mother, tells her to put on her best dress and come to the reception. He said she was barred from the wedding, but the Pope said nothing about the reception. Ahhh, the “technicality” :) Well done Chezzy!
Giulia sits right beside the Pope, then later in his lap!!!!!!! WTF?! So that’s NOT scandalous, especially since they’re holding hands, but Vanozza’s presence is? Cesare enters with his mother on his arm amid whispers and horrified stares. This was my fave moment of the show – a big EFF U to Italian decorum and noble politics :) I adored Chezzy all the more for this; he may be a murdering manipulator, but that boy has a heart of gold when it comes to his sister and his mother :)
“If I were to become a woman with half your grace and beauty mother, I would be proud and happy” ~ Lucrezia Borgia
Dancing begins and there are a lot of interesting conversations flying around the dance floor. One of which is between Cesare and a lovely blonde Baroness, Ursula, who is married to an ugly, bird-like oaf. She begs Cesare to “liberate” her from her horrid husband. Suddenly, scandal erupts… The husband of this woman get up in Cesare’s face and insults Vanozza, “Bring a whore to your sister’s wedding? Perhaps I should rephrase that? You bring a Spanish courtesan to your sister’s wedding” OH.NO.YOU.DIDN’T! He then challenges Cesare to take it outside and fight, that doesn’t happen but we know this guy’s days are numbered. He insulted a Borgia. Cesare Borgia. It won’t end well for him.
Juan’s comedy troupe is truly vulgar, Lucrezia falls asleep at her own wedding, Ceasare gets snubbed by Sforza, and Juan acts like an embarrassing drunk. Not a great wedding all around.
“You wanted words? I have words….for that Borgia wedding. A farce. A travesty. A scandal. A public humiliation” ~ Giovanni Sforza
Our final scene has Lucrezia pay dearly for her brother’s defiance. She goes home to the Sforza household and finds out who she really married; a violent, abusive brute. Giovanni beats his maids, but the implication is that he also rapes them when Lucrezia speaks to one of her serving women. Then later on, Lucrezia, eagerly waiting for her husband in their bed chamber, for what should be a loving encounter, is greeted by words of anger and hatred. He has sex with her like he’s raping her and she’s screaming in pain. Poor Lucrezia is finally finding out what the real world looks like outside of her brother’ protection. She’s married to a horrible man for her father’s political gain. I can only hope that next week, Cesare finds a way to “liberate” his sister from her husband as well. She deserves as much.