Previously on The Borgias: Alexander’s new friend, Mattai, helped him destroy the Turkish navy, saving him the hassle of a crusade; both Micheletto and Lucrezia realised they’d been betrayed, which hits Micheletto particularly hard.
Previously on The Borgias: Caterina Sforza mailed plague to Rome, catching one of the cardinals stupid enough to ignore Cesare’s orders to burn her letter; Lucrezia got rid of the King of Naples, but found there are two others in line before her husband; Cesare and the French army marched into Milan, only to find Ludovico Sforza gone and the place empty.
Previously on The Borgias: Cesare headed to France, got married, and was given an army; Micheletto talked Lucrezia out of killing Ferdinand of Naples and then took care of the job for her; Caterina kept gathering her new allies.
Ruffio has arrived at a village that’s been hit hard by the plague. Diseased bodies lie strewn on the ground and a cross burns atop a mound of ashy skeletons. He pauses beside one dead man and uses his sword to remove a scrap of cloth. A woman sitting nearby, defeated, manages to give him a WTF face. He leaves her some coins, like she’s got any use for those.
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia was forced to screw her new husband in front of his cousin and her brother, who shortly after departed for France to find a wife. Giulia got on Alexander’s bad side for helping her brother attempt to balance the books, and in order to get back on his good side, she came up with a brilliant (and effective) plan to keep all the cardinals loyal. Bianca Gonzaga found her way back into Alexander’s bed, prompting her husband to publicly call Alexander out for sleeping with her.
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia got married and promptly slept with her brother, because why not? (No, seriously, that was her actual reason). One of the disgraced Cardinals set fire to the treasury before hitting the road, and Caterina Sforza started gathering an army of discontents.
Giulia’s brother, Alessandro Farnese, gets his Cardinal’s hat, as per Alexander’s deal with Giulia. He’s a young pup, so young one of the other cardinals has no idea who he is.
Previously on The Borgias: At Alexander’s behest, Cesare and Cardinal Sforza started purging the Vatican. One of the disgraced cardinals decided to take things into his own hands and attacked Alexander while confessing, only to get his own knife in his throat.
A little disconcertingly, we don’t pick up with the fallout from Alexander being found covered with the blood of a cardinal—we start off with him enthroned, back to stripping disgraced churchmen of their offices and titles. One of them asks how much longer this is going to go on, and accuses him of doing this for personal gain (all the property being taken back goes directly to the church). Afterwards, Cesare warns his father that he’s running out of cardinals. Alexander doesn’t care, as long as the place is cleansed of enemies and he can use the money to do God’s work. I hope that means Giulia’s, Lucrezia’s, and Vannozza’s charitable endeavour from last season gets more funding. It’d be a way to keep Giulia around, at least.
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia’s quick thinking saved her father’s life, but it was up to Cesare and Micheletto to save the Borgia family from Caterina Sforza’s assassination plot. She tried to enlist the help of Cardinal Sforza, but at the last minute he threw in his lot with Rome and told Cesare they have a serious new enemy: Caterina’s henchman Ruffio, who’s being sent out to round up disgruntled nobles and rally them to the anti-Borgia cause.
Previously on The Borgias: Juan was sent to Forli to take the castle and, predictably, he screwed up just as badly as it was possible for him to screw up. Lucrezia’s back on the marriage market, but ends up getting a crush on her suitor’s brother instead of the suitor. Della Rovere started training a young assassin.
Cardinal Sforza and one of the other cardinals head into the pope’s chambers, all smiles, to announce that Charles of France is dead, which they think is awesome. Alexander, however, recognizes that Charles was a worthy adversary who deserves to be honored. He makes them both say three dozen rosaries as penance.
Previously on The Borgias: Della Rovere got a dangerous protégé. Cesare got played by Catarina Sforza, but at least he managed to kill Lucrezia’s hateful ex-husband. Speaking of Lucrezia, she’s on the marriage market again, and she’s not at all happy about it.
Juan’s back and actually riding his horse through the halls of the Vatican, as if his douchebag status wasn’t sufficiently on show on a daily basis anyway. He’s presented to his father with a round of applause, like he’s done anything worthwhile lately, and presents a couple of gifts: a box for Alexander and a panther in a cage for Lucrezia. She approaches the cage curiously, but when it roars at her she wisely hands the baby off to her maid. Juan’s also brought a genuine conquistador—Don Hernando. Alexander opens his box and finds…turds. Juan explains that they’re actually cigars, an exotic new treat. While they’re discussing impending throat cancer, the panther roars again and Lucrezia cries that it bit her. Well, yeah, Lucrezia, it’s a wild animal. There’s a reason it’s in a cage. I thought she was smarter than that.
Previously on The Borgias: Micheletto actually got a little background, Catarina Sforza gave the pope a big ol’ middle finger, and Della Rovere got a thumbs up from Savonarola for his assassination plot.
It’s Ash Wednesday, and Alexander is ashing up a whole line of people in front of St. Peter’s, reminding them that they’ll return to dust one day. Such a cheery day, Ash Wednesday. A very poor old woman approaches the pope, who kneels before her and washes her feet as a sign of humility. Della Rovere and Partner (does this guy actually have a name?) watch the show and dismiss it all as just more theater, not extra humility on Alexander’s part. DR points out the pope’s official taster, who’s holding the water jug.