Previously on The Borgias: Well, let’s see. Juan got so out of control that even Lucrezia wanted him dead, but it was Cesare who finally succeeded in offing him, mostly to save his own family. Caterina Sforza refused to knuckle under, and has sworn to bring down the Borgias. Micheletto’s gay, and just as badass as ever; Lucrezia chose a new fiancé; and last but not least, Della Rovere hatched a plot to poison Alexander that may have succeeded.
Previously on The Borgias: Juan continued to be a screwup, lying about how the siege of Forli went and becoming a junkie. Lucrezia, on the advice of her mother, decided to go ahead and agree to marry Genoa the Elder while sleeping with his younger brother. Cesare made some trips to Florence, where Savonarola continues to be a pest, and Della Rovere’s protégé got started on his mission by getting rid of the competition.
Lucrezia wakes and seems surprised to find herself in bed alone. She’s also surprised to see the caged panther at the foot of her bed.
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: 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.
Previously on The Borgias: Cesare and Micheletto went rogue and formed the Band of Badass, which managed to finally drive the French out of Italy while Alexander was busy praying for rain and screwing a duchess. Back in Rome, Lucrezia and Giulia joined forces with Vannozza to start getting some actual public works finished.
Churchtime! At St. Peter’s, a mass is underway, watched by Lucrezia, Giulia, and Vannozza. Lucrezia observes the crowd and likens the church to both a bank and a theater, noting that the greater the spectacle the more the penitents seem to pay into the offering plates. Giulia wonders if the cardinals can be made to see the light and Vannozza says they all have their secrets, they just have to find them. Oh, and they shall. I need to come up with a cool name for this trio of great ladies. Any suggestions?
Previously on The Borgias: Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander, caused some scandals, elevated his children, had some people killed, saw off a threat from France and from Cardinal della Rovere, and collected one awesome sidekick (or, rather, Cesare did).
We open on an altar boy surreptitiously adding something to the communion wine before mass. The priest—best known to us as Cardinal della Rovere—calls him out so they can get the mass started, and when they reach the communion part, he raises the chalice with the tainted wine in it and drinks. The kid watches apprehensively, but nothing happens. Not right away, anyway. He gets about halfway through communion before he starts to collapse. He forces himself along, but then the next man up to receive communion is Cesare. DR hits the floor.
DR’s in bed, being tended by nuns. Cesare comes in and shoos the ladies away. He reassures DR he’s not going to die, but his tongue’s going to be pretty swollen for a few days. It seems DR’s been hiding out at this little congregation, and Cesare wants him to know that they can find him anywhere. Message received, I think. He engages in some brief water torture and urges DR to work with them, not against them.
Previously on The Borgias: King Charles of France slaughtered his way across Italy, and nobody, particularly not Juan, was able to stop him. Except Lucrezia, who brokered a deal on the fly that would allow Charles to make a bloodless entry into Rome. I’m expecting her to become fully awesome in season 2.
The French pack up and get on the road to Rome. Della Rovere immediately tells Charles he should demand a convocation of the College of Cardinals as soon as they arrive, so they can get on with deposing Alexander. He says this right in front of Giulia and Lucrezia too, which seems unwise, since he’s just witnessed how good these ladies are at wheeling and dealing. Giulia coolly points out that there probably won’t be too many cardinals hanging around in Rome when they get there.
Previously on The Borgias: The French rolled in and totally trashed Lucca, which made the rest of Italy basically wet itself. Giulia paid a visit to Lucrezia and found out dear Lu is pregnant, and the kid’s not Sforza’s.
In the middle of the night, Giulia steals out to the stables, where she gently wakes Paolo. She asks if he’s “the one” and he readily admits to it. She tells him he’s not to say the same to anyone else, or she’ll see him hanged. He understands. Giulia orders him to prepare two horses for the ladies, so they can leave at dawn.
Alexander’s getting dressed and telling Cesare that he had a nightmare that everyone had abandoned them, and he found himself dressed as a peasant as the French army swarmed through Rome. He tells Cesare to summon the Spanish ambassador, because he and Alexander need to have a talk.
Previously on The Borgias: Della Rovere went to France and asked King Charles to invade Italy. Charles agreed, as long as he got to conduct the fighting his way. Lucrezia’s affair with Paulo continued, while Cesare’s affair with Ursula fizzled. Jofre got married to a woman who started sleeping with his brother, Juan.
The French are packing up their cannons and getting ready to invade Italy. A French commander asks della Rovere what the Italian words for cannonfire, recoil, and gunpowder are. DR says there are no such words that he knows of. Frenchie seems glad to hear it.
Meanwhile, down south, Juan and Sancia are in bed together. Even though they’re having a pretty enthusiastic time of it, Sancia pauses to glance out the window at her little husband, who’s playing with the doves in the courtyard. She tells Juan that Jofre’s sweet, but lacks his older brother’s vigor. Give the poor kid a chance, lady, he’s only 13!
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia’s new crush messed with her husband’s saddle, so Sforza took a fall and has been laid up with a broken leg. Della Rovere continued to hop all over Italy, trying to ensure safe passage for a French army intent on taking over Naples. Cesare got a crush of his own, and obligingly killed the woman’s jerky husband. Alexander decided it was time for little Jofre to get married.
Pesaro Castle, home of Sforza and Lucrezia. Lucrezia’s attending her still bedridden husband, smearing a painful ointment on the wound on his leg, and being much sweeter about it than he deserves. Sforza realizes it too and thanks her, kind of, for taking such good care of him. He sort of apologizes for having been a dick too, and offers to overlook the “accident of [her] family name.” He also asks her to take his horse out for a ride, since he gets restless when he doesn’t get his exercise. She promises to do so.