Review of The Borgias, episode 8 of season 2.
“This dog will come back and bite” ~ Micoletto
“What was it the Spaniard said? I fight men, not boys” ~ Cesare
As we inch closer to the end of the season, things heat up between the Borgia brothers once more in this episode entitled, “Truth and Lies” , which centres around Juan’s “version” of the truth at Forli. Once again Juan’s digging himself a grave he can’t crawl out of when Cesare discovers his lies. Juan tries to explain what happened with Katerina Sforza and implicates Cesare by saying he knew of the pending attack but chose to remain silent. Rodrigo is frustrated by their fighting and doesn’t know what to believe. This stalemate of “he said-he said” is broken when Cesare is brought to Katerina’s son, Benito Sforza. He’s informed that Juan believes the boy to be dead. He is the sole witness of the siege and is proof of Juan’s debacle.
In the midst of this, Rodrigo decides to send Cesare back to Florence to formally charge Savonarola with heresy. Della Rovere, in the meantime, needs to get rid of Rodrigo’s taster, Brother Bernadino, but is hesitant to kill him. Brother Bernadino is a good person and a man of God. Della Rovere hems and haws about this until finally, his Cantarella acolyte, decides for him: he pushes Brother Bernadino to his death into the river while he was fishing. His heavy robes prevent him from being able to swim and he drowns. He nervously confesses this to Della Rovere. Instead of rebuking him, Della Rovere is pleased by the boy’s fervor to his cause. In the end, he justifies this action by saying that although Brother Bernadino was a good man, he worked for an evil one so it begated his goodness. Nice explanation – whatever works, right? So long as Della Rovere can sleep at night.
Juan has a leg wound from his syphilis and is introduced to opium. He is handed over to a Muslim who supposedly can “cure him”. He takes him to an opium house, and says that the “tears of the poppy” will ease Juan’s pain.
Mean while, Lucrezia has a very candid conversation with Vanozza. Rodrigo tries to force Vanozza to get a betrothal out of her and she manages to convince Lucrezia by letting her see that she can have both. Vanozza reminds her that she is a Borgia and shows her by playing a game with dessert. You like both? Eat both. You want the younger brother? Marry the elder and take the younger as your lover. Lucrezia was very hung up on having to make a choice, once Vanozza convinces her she doesn’t have to choose, and she can have what she wants, Lucrezia agrees to the marriage. Later on that night, she takes her mother’s advice to heart and the younger. This was one of the best scenes on the episode. The dialogue was brilliant and Vanozza wasn’t given a throw away scene for the sake of having screen time. The conversation was very brazen and it’s enjoyable to watch Lucrezia move from naive innocent to devious Borgia – she just still requires a bit of guidance.
Micoletto brings Benito Sforza to Rodrigo as proof of what happened in Forli. Cesare is asked to return Benito to his mother and give her an offering – an olive branch of peace from Rodrigo. Micoletto wants to kill him and Cesare stays Micoletto’s hand.
Rodrigo confronts Juan and he retells the same lie but Rodrigo doesn’t confront him. Rodrigo is beginning to see his folly in selecting Juan as head of the papal army, and Cesare once more proves that he is a better military man that his brother could ever hope to be. This may be the turning point where Rodrigo finally gives in to Cesare’s request to be released from the cloth. Rodrigo tells Juan he is going to assign another person to lead the papal armies but Juan threatens to kill himself if Rodrigo takes his titles and honour. Rodrigo assures him his honour and titles will remain intact and that in his current state, it is more a remark on his injury than his ability. This was a smart move. Juan is able to save face and Rodrigo is able to remove his blundering son from the head of the papal armies.
This was another great episode. There wasn’t much action like at Forli but it was full of interesting twists and turns. Tune in next week at 10:00pm EST, on Bravo when we review another exciting episode of The Borgias.