“Vengeance shall be ours! We are family, we are ONE! We will only triumph as one!” ~ Rodrigo Borgia
The original Mafia family returns for another exciting season of intrigue, lechery, drama and murder!
We open with an altar boy posioning Cardinal Della Rovere during Mass. As our dear Cardinal is gasping for air, Cesare reveals himself. Della Rovere doesn’t die, but will be out of commission for quite some time thanks to Cesare. The altar boy, unfortunately, meets a worse fate at the hands of Michelotto. Francois Arnaud is has nailed it again –
Cesare is in fine, murderous form.
Meanwhile, back at the Vatican, Rodrigo has grown tired of Giulia and is up to his old tricks and bedding women behind her back. However, Rodrigo’s treachery is revealed when Giulia finds an errant stocking in their bed. Rodrigo is also parading Lucrezia’s bastard around the papal court. This scene was inserted as an attempt at comedic relief but fell flat; it was uneccessary and not terribly funny. It was a waste of Jeremy Iron’s fine acting skills. However, it sets the tone for this season with Rodrigo acting more like a buffon than a fearful, cunning Pope. It looks as if the plotting and political intrigue has fallen squarely on Cesare’s shoulders. Rodrigo is more concerned with flirting and throwing wasteful, Pagan parties than ruling as Pope. He is openly flaunting his lechery, no longer bothering to conceal his affairs or those of his children. He’s comfortable and conplacent in his position, leaving Cesare to do all his dirty work.
Juan returns home and the tension between him and Cesare intensifies as the brothers vie for their father’s attention. Rodrigo is irritated by their constant quarreling and reminds them that they are family and must be a unified front. However, in spite of their father’s admonishments, Juan and Cesare proceed to have a deadly duel and Cesare is stopped from killing his brother, ironically enough, by hired assassin Michelotto. Their bickering dwindles to annoying tricks, like tossing caltrops under each other’s horses or feet to humilate one another. I enjoyed watching these two go at each other’s throats – Juan won’t always be so lucky and may end up skewered on the end of Cesare’s sword if he keeps it up. Their bitterness isn’t going to last long, even with Rodrigos feeble attempts to instill family values into his sons.
King Charles has recovered from the terrible Neopolitan sickness and realizes that Alfonso purposely infected Naples with this pestilence. He sends out men to track him down and bring him back alive so that Charles can make him pay for what he has done.
Giulia Farnese, realizing her fifteen minutes of fame are over, tries to extend her time as Rodrigo’s favourite. She discovers his latest infatuation, a beautiful young girl painter, Victoria, who disguises herself as a boy named “Vittorio” in order to be able to paint. Women are not permitted to apprentice as artisans. In a strange twist of fate, Giulia runs into Cesare’s mother, and Rodrigo’s former lover, Vannozza dei Cattanei at the Roman party and asks her advice. Vannozza tells her to allow the tryst but to make sure she is part of it so that Rodrigo never loses sight of her for another. Giulia lures Rodrigo with Victoria thereby inviting her into their bed with her blessing.
As always, Francois Arnaud, Jeremy Irons and Lotte Verbeek churn out stellar performances in the premiere episode of season two. They have set the stage for what promises to be a very interesting and turbulent season.