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.
Once he’s properly instated, Sforza gets him settled in at the treasury so he can start balancing the books. The kid notices the damage from the fire and asks about it. Sforza says that’s Vesucci’s work.
Vesucci’s still on the move, giving us a nice look at his Birkenstocks right before he arrives at a nunnery to hand over the deeds to a mine that was taken away from them a while back. The nun in charge is grateful and notes he seems like a man in a hurry. He is: he’s rushing towards his destiny.
Back in Rome, Alexander tells Cesare they now have a full complement of loyal cardinals, so that’s one thing he can tick off the to-do list. Cesare reminds him that the envoy from Venice has been waiting for three days, but before Alexander can go see him he sees Lucrezia heading their way and happily greets her, asking how she likes being married, nudge nudge, wink wink. To his credit (somewhat), Cesare looks rather sickened and embarrassed and can’t even make eye contact with her. He brushes past her without so much as a word.
Alexander settles down in the garden to meet with Venice and ask what he wants. Venice says the Turks are harassing them, and they’re getting bolder. He reminds Alexander that if trade suffers, Rome suffers. Alexander promises to consider this.
The King of Naples entertains Alfonso and asks him how his wedding night went. He gets really creepy about it—he wants details and everything. Because Alfonso can’t provide them, his cousin quickly figures out that the marriage is unconsummated. He sternly tells Alfonso to get the job done already.
Alexander goes to the treasury and has a chat with Farnese, who’s already looking a little overwhelmed by the Vatican’s books. Apparently Alexander’s set him to this task because he heard the kid was good with numbers. After ascertaining that Farnese has no ambition, he tells him not to tell anyone else what he finds in the books. He’s to report only to Alexander.
Late at night, Farnese flips through documents, clearly in far over his head. Who should join him, but Giulia. Giulia! Man, I’ve kinda missed her these past few episodes. She asks how he’s doing and he admits he’s floundering and asks for her help. Remember, she’s got some experience sorting out the Vatican’s finances. Though, if she already worked on that last season, why does it have to be done again?
Alfonso gathers up his courage and goes into his wife’s room, where she lies in bed. He apologises for throwing his wobbler the night before and by way of acceptance, she gestures for him to join her in bed. He tries to get the ball rolling, but let’s face it, this bumbling boy is never going to be able to top Cesare. Lucrezia quickly calls a halt to the proceedings and suggests they just have a courtly sort of love. ‘Like brother and sister?’ he asks, face falling. No, Alfonso. Not like that at all. The poor guy begs her to help him out here, but it’s nothing doing.
Alexander shows Cesare the books, which reveal the Vatican’s been stripped bare by Vesucci. Alexander, of course, is somewhat amused (that typically being his default), because he didn’t think Vesucci had it in him. He sends Cesare to seek the old man out and teach him the error of his ways. Cesare leaves, and Alexander suddenly seems to find something interesting in the books.
Outside, Cesare walks over to a mounted Micheletto and simply says, ‘find him.’ Micheletto canters off.
Vesucci climbs to the top of a rocky hill and looks down at the countryside below.
It’s the middle of the night, and Alexander has summoned Giulia, but not in for a sexy interval. He shows her the books she supposedly balanced months ago and yells at her for lying and saying that Vesucci was competent. He thinks she lied so she could get her brother a job, but I don’t see why she’d have to lie for that. She was at the height of her power with Alexander then, she could have just gone to him and told him Vesucci was making a mess of things and needed to be removed. Alexander also yells at her for helping her brother out, when he was only supposed to be reporting to Alexander. He threatens to defrock him and she says he couldn’t understand the numbers, so she just helped him out, no big deal. Looking tired, Alexander sighs that he thought new cardinals would make the Vatican clean, but they’ll just become like the old ones. He quietly says that he feels alone and she reassures him that he’s not alone and asks how he can prove it. He says she can’t, unless she can bring him the loyalty of the whole consistory. She takes the challenge up and says she’ll do it. And I do believe our girl truly will.
Micheletto rides over the landscape Vesucci so recently crossed.
King Ferdinand asks for a word with Alexander and Cesare and announces that the bride and groom haven’t had sex. He’s a bit concerned, but pretty abrasive and only manages to get Alexander’s back up. Alexander intimates that it’s Alfonso’s fault, not Lucrezia’s, that they haven’t managed to sleep together, but Ferdinand’s come ready for a fight and reminds Alexander that Lucrezia already has one bastard kid, and presumably he’s worried there’ll be another. Cesare tells him to tread carefully, but Ferdniand brushes him off with a wave of his hand and says they need to get this marriage consummated. And he wants proof that it happened.
Afterwards, Cesare rages at his father that this is an insult to Lucrezia and their family. Alexander reminds him that they can’t afford to make enemies now, and as much as he hates this, they have to go along with it. Cesare spits that Naples is a swamp. Alexander doesn’t disagree, but that swamp is pretty much their only ally at the moment. He offers to go tell Lucrezia. Cesare offers to go instead.
Apparently that proof is people watching the couple have sex. Lucrezia is incensed by the suggestion and calls her brother a weak, pitiful excuse for a man for failing to run Ferdinand through for even suggesting it. He says they had no choice and she slaps him and starts pounding on his chest, screaming at him and weeping. He stills her with a kiss, and then tells her he wanted nothing more than to kill the man, but he stayed his hand for the good of the family. Lucrezia realises she has no choice here and gathers herself, asking only that Cesare be the witness from their family. Sure, why not make their relationship even creepier and less appropriate than it already is? She turns and leaves, and he begins to cry.
Alexander arrives at a big, fancy banquet attended by numerous bankers and rich merchants, as well as Venice. He welcomes them and tells them that the Turks are threatening their trade, which is a concern for them all. He parrots the line about Rome suffering if Venice does and says they must lead a crusade to drive the Turks back. They applaud the idea, Venice especially. But as soon as Alexander leaves, Sforza announces that there are going to be levies added to certain goods coming into and leaving Rome, which does not make anyone happy.
Ruffio meets with Caterina, who tells him that ‘he’ is ready to join their cause. ‘He’ is Lord Gonzaga, the husband of one of the women Alexander had an affair with last season. Bianca, I think her name was.
Giulia reports that she’s found a way to bring Alexander some peace of mind. They need to compromise these cardinals, so they’ll have blackmail material, essentially. It’s the whole mutually assured destruction idea that worked out so well for Pete Campbell over at Mad Men last week. She thinks they should have a party that’ll be so debauched everyone there will basically screw themselves over. Alexander loves the idea.
Lucrezia prepares for bed and public sex, aided by her mother, who is not up for dealing with Lucrezia’s pouting. She sharply tells her daughter to suck it up and it’ll be over. Lucrezia says it will be done this one time, but she’ll never forget it or forgive.
Cesare and Ferdinand take their positions behind a gauzy curtain. Looks like Ferdinand’s even brought snacks. On the other side of it is what appears to be a large mattress on the floor. The young couple enters, and Alfonso’s clearly mortified by this. Lucrezia tells him to just keep his eyes on hers. She strips, then strips him, and they get into bed. They get the job done, with a great deal of coaching from her, though it seems like they’re both having a lot of trouble getting into it. Cesare, thankfully, keeps his eyes on his sister’s face, and at one point, she opens her eyes and looks back at him. That’s when she starts seeming to really get into it, which is gross. And it seems like he’s getting something out of it too, which is also gross.
The job done, Ferdinand gets up and goes out into the hall. Cesare joins him and tells Ferdinand to get the hell out of his house. In the background, the husband and wife slowly get up and receive clothes from the waiting servants.
Micheletto arrives at a monastery, where Vesucci is now staying. One of the monks tells Vesucci there’s someone to see him, and Vesucci says he’s been waiting for him and will meet him at the old Roman baths.
Lucrezia and Cesare now talk about his marriage to the French princess of his choosing. He swings the conversation around to them and tells her that they can’t ever sleep together again. She looks a little sulky to be dumped so fast, but she only tells him to come back from France as quickly as he can.
Giulia draws her brother aside at the Vatican and warns him not to attend the dinner party that night.
Inside, Sforza tells Alexander that Gonzaga has requested an audience. Alexander tells him to fit him in before going outside to give Cesare some last-minute instructions, as well as what I’m assuming is the annulment for the French king. Cesare gallops off.
Vesucci waits in the baths, which are pretty well preserved for being from Roman times. Micheletto comes in and says that, now he’s found Vesucci, he’s going to find the money he stole. Vesucci slashes himself under the water and tells him, as he bleeds out, that the money was stolen to begin with, and now it’s all gone. He wanted to hit Alexander where it would hurt the most: in his pocketbook. Micheletto tells him he missed the mark, because Alexander just laughed.
At the Vatican, the party’s underway, and it looks like a pretty even mix of cardinals and nuns. Kinky. Giulia tells them that they’re going to raise funds for the crusade. She calls one of the nuns up to the front and starts a strip auction—money for the sister to start removing clothes. She is, of course, not a real nun but a prostitute dressed up like one, and she happily joins in as the bids start coming in fast and furious. Meanwhile, behind a screen, Burchard is scribbling away, recording this all in one of the earlier versions of a live tweet. He goes on to say that the women went on to auction their bodies, once the clothes were all gone.
Alexander returns to his room and immediately realises that someone’s there. He draws a sword, but it’s only Bianca, who’s there to seduce the holy father. Alexander’s only too happy to oblige. From the street below, Ruffio watches the pope’s window and tells Gonzaga, who’s lurking in the shadows, that the sex has probably started.
Back at the party, Giulia grabs a plate of candied chestnuts and calls everyone to follow her. She tosses them on the floor and tells the girls to pick them up. I’ll let you guess what they were supposed to use to do so.
Some time later, the report is read out to Alexander in the presence of all the abashed cardinals. Alexander hands the report off to Sforza to be locked up.
Gonzaga and a crew of cronies arrives at the Vatican for his audience with Alexander. He wants an annulment on the grounds of his wife’s infidelity with the pope. Ohhh, that’s a hell of a throwdown right there. Alexander asks where she is now and Gonzaga claims not to know, but asks Alexander to pass her news of his desire and Alexander’s decision if he sees her.