Previously on The Borgias: Juan became too much of a screwup to live, so Cesare did everyone a favor and gutted him and threw him into the Tiber.
Deep in the bowels of the Castel Sant’Angelo, Savonarola’s being racked and screaming his head off. The torturers pause just long enough for Micheletto to urge him to sign a confession of heresy, and Savonarola agrees, so they let him sit up and hand him a pen. Instead, he spills the ink all over the document. Micheletto orders the torture to recommence. You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?
Alexander’s sitting, sorting through his rosary beads and telling Cesare that he was supposed to bring two things: his brother and a confession from Savonarola. Cesare’s sure the rack will break the monk eventually, but he still has no idea where Juan is (or so he tells his dad). Alexander growls at him to make more effort.
Cesare collects Cardinal Sforza and goes to tell the guards who’ve been out looking for Juan to look harder. He stomps off and Sforza confirms that the guards have gone to all Juan’s friends’ houses and the brothels, so it’s time to start searching the mortuaries.
Lucrezia, wandering the halls, meets a rather handsome young man going the other way. She asks who he is and he tells her he’s Prince Alfonso d’Aragon and he’s there to court Lucrezia. She looks him over, calls him a poor boy, and tells him she’ll take him to his lady love. They head to Lucrezia’s room and she immediately orders him to remove his cloak. Girl moves fast. He sassily asks her what she’ll take off in return and she flings back that he’ll just have to wait and see. As he takes his cloak off she informs him that Lucrezia has many suitors, some wheat and some chaff, and she’s to sort them out. He tells her he’s neither wheat nor chaff, he’s a flesh and blood man. She tells him to do a full turn and he does, then asks her to do the same. She does. Excellent chemistry between these two.
DR’s protégé goes to confession. The confessor’s DR himself. The boy tells him about the botched water poisoning attempt and says he’s afraid he’ll fail DR. DR hands him more poison and tells him he’ll know the right time to act.
Savonarola’s been released from the rack and is now in an iron cage. He tells Micheletto that he knows what he is (wow, that’s some suspiciously impressive gaydar) and reminds him that he had his kind stoned and dragged through the streets. He claims to have cleansed Florence of such sin. “And yet, here I am,” says Micheletto, reaching towards him and sending the man shrinking to the other end of his cage, like he thinks he can catch gay or something. Micheletto asks if he’ll confess. Savonarola says he will, but only to Cesare.
From there, we move to the pretty scene of Alfonso and Lucrezia strolling through the gardens and talking about his home. He says it’s beautiful there, but he’d rather be where she is. He essentially asks if he can still have her if he marries Lucrezia (because he still has no idea who she is), and interestingly this does not put her off. She does say that such a thing would be impossible, so he urges her to give Lucrezia a terrible account of him, so he can be with her instead. Lucrezia’s enjoying this little game, and she seems rather touched by his declaration of affection. She calls him a poor boy again, kisses him gently, and leaves.
Cesare’s discussing the Savonarola situation with Machiavelli, wondering at how the man can handle so much pain. Machiavelli reminds him that this man’s pretty determined. Cesare repeats that Rome needs this confession. So, forge it, then. Machiavelli makes essentially the same suggestion.
Lucrezia and her baby are meeting with her dad, who’s dandling little Giovanni on his knee. He tells her he’s got another suitor for her to check out. She pretends not to have met him and asks if he’s very young—a boy of clay for her to mold to her pleasure. She agrees to meet him.
Pope, Vannozza, Alfonso, and the entire papal court are standing around, waiting for Lucrezia to show up. She finally does, and as you might imagine, Alfonso’s completely thrown. So thrown he can barely speak, which Lucrezia rather meanly teases him about before saying she’ll marry him, because he seems like a sweetie. Alexander’s totally shocked, but happy, so we’ll have a big wedding party after all! But as he goes to leave, the captain of the guard tells Sforza that they’ve found a body. Just one? Must have been a good day—Rome was a fairly violent city, after all. Alexander asks what’s up and Sforza and the captain take him to the courtyard, where there’s a covered-up body on a cart that turns out not to be Juan. Still, Alexander’s a bit freaked out that Sforza thought his son might be dead. Sforza tells him that he was really just being realistic. Fair enough. He hasn’t been found anywhere else, so it’s time to entertain other possibilities. Alexander turns and slowly heads back inside.
That night, he collects Giulia for the most depressing nighttime field trip ever.
Cesare, meanwhile, is trying to urge Savonarola to sign the confession, but Savonarola still refuses, and then he fakes death, which freaks out Cesare, who yells that Micheletto went too far. Micheletto knows better and rouses the man, who remains defiant, so Cesare just grabs the pen and signs himself. Why he didn’t do that earlier, I have no idea. Road of least resistance and all. Savonarola says he’ll tell everyone that the confession was false, so Micheletto cuts out his tongue. Problems solved.
Alexander and Giulia are at one of the city’s morgues, which is packed with dead bodies. Why’d he bring poor Giulia along for this? They sift through some of the bodies, and then Alexander finally finds Juan. He backs away, horrified, flattening himself against the wall as far as he can from the corpse. Giulia rushes over to him, and Alexander manages to hold himself together long enough to order that Juan be taken back to the Vatican.
Cesare triumphantly returns to his father’s rooms, waving the confession, completely oblivious to the fact that Alexander, Giulia, Vannozza, and Lucrezia are standing around his brother’s dead body. When he notices, he asks what happened, putting on an excellent show of cluelessness. Alexander explains that he was pulled from the Tiber. Cesare quietly orders the other cardinals in the room to depart, and once they’re gone, his father falls into his arms and wonders who would dare do such a thing. Lucrezia pipes up that Juan wasn’t exactly a saint. Cesare goes and joins her, silently backing her up, as she goes on to say that there are plenty of people who would be happy to see Juan dead. Alexander can’t believe she and Cesare aren’t crying their eyes out. Lucrezia shouts that he knows what Juan took from her, and she’s wished him dead a thousand times. She even tried to hasten him on his journey, let’s not forget. Alexander turns his attention to Cesare, calling him stone for not weeping, and Cesare tells him he cried all his tears for Juan long ago, while watching him fail again and again and again, while Alexander continued to look the other way. Alexander absorbs this, then fiercely tells them both to get lost. They do, rather happily, I’m sure.
Later, Juan’s laid out on what looks like some kind of altar, looked over by Sforza. A crew of morticians arrives and Sforza tells them to do their best work. It’s all very Godfather.
Alexander, meanwhile, is mourning with Vannozza. He wonders how he could have missed such enmity amongst his children, and she takes his hand and tells him he saw everything with a father’s eyes. He asks if she would have seen Juan dead. She says no, but she did wish many times that he hadn’t been born. She urges Alexander to let Juan go, but Alexander’s in that crazy grief place and won’t allow Juan to be buried. Great, like disease wasn’t rampant enough back then.
Savonarola’s rolled through the streets in a cage, bloodied and broken, being pelted with rocks by the angry populace. Soldiers drag him up to the platform near where he’ll be burned, where he’s roughly painted in what I can only assume is something to make him extra flammable. There’s a viewing platform set up for the cardinals and Cesare watches all this impassively. Savonarola’s forced to walk to the stake, and in a rare moment of semi-realism on a TV show, he actually struggles to put one foot in front of the other, though after days on the rack, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to walk at all. Micheletto’s waiting for him and gives him a knowing look before hanging a sign that says “hereticus” around Savonarola’s neck and strapping him into place at the pyre. Cesare turns and goes to find his father, who’s brooding over Juan’s body, which has been cleaned up and dressed and put on a table in Alexander’s apartments. Alexander rouses himself, quickly changes, and goes out to see the show.
Before things can get started, he goes to Savonarola and urges him to repent before he dies, so his sins may be forgiven. Instead, Savonarola spits a bunch of blood right in Alexander’s face (ewwww), so Alexander starts the barbeque. Savonarola dies, screaming in agony.
Later, Lucrezia and Cesare lie in bed together, and it’s not nearly as creepy or erotic as it sounds. Actually, it’s fairly familial and contemplative, thankfully. After all, these two have kind of a lot on their minds. She asks him to perform her wedding ceremony but he gently refuses, saying he’s done too much to be performing weddings, and anyway, he’s pretty sure he won’t be a cardinal much longer.
Cesare goes looking for his father and, of course, finds him in the gloomy room with Juan. He mentions that he’s heard Alexander’s not eating and Alexander says that’s true, because he’s fasting, because he’s being punished. He refuses to bury Juan until his murderer is found, because he thinks Juan will find no rest until that time. Cesare ends the suspense by ‘fessing up, though he has the sense to first ask for official absolution and to be released from his vows. He reminds his father of all he’s done for his family and for him and Alexander asks him to share his sins. Cesare kneels beside him and says he took it upon himself to do what nobody else would. Alexander looks like he’s going to be sick. He gets up and goes to his dead son’s body, embracing it. Cesare begs to be released from his vows and forgiven, but Alexander can barely even look at him or fully form coherent thoughts, it seems. He does, however, release Cesare from his vows, and Cesare leaves his cardinal’s ring on Juan’s chest before departing.
For the last time, he takes off his cardinal’s robes, letting them drop to the floor. Then, dressed in civvies, he goes to join Vannozza and Lucrezia. He announces that the funeral is being arranged, despite what Alexander wants. Furthermore, there’s going to be a party to celebrate Lucrezia’s betrothal. She says the party’s to be canceled, because they can’t hold it under the circumstances. He rather harshly says they will hold it, because he’s made the call and that’s it. Well, well, look at him, stepping up. Vannozza tells him it’s impossible but he’s not going to hear it, because he’s running the family these days.
Night. Alexander listens to the music from the party while sitting with Juan. In the ballroom, Lucrezia is handed over to her betrothed by Cesare, who joins their hands as everyone applauds. Dancing begins, with Cesare partnering his mother and Giulia partnering some other guy. Interestingly in a show usually so saturated in red, the dominant color in this scene is all shades of green, particularly spring green and forest green. New life, eh?
Alexander rises, goes to Juan’s body, and lifts it in his arms. As he does so, he imagines he’s looking at Juan as a sweet little boy, though I’ll bet even back then he was kind of an asshole, no matter what Vannozza says. Alexander carries him out to the garden, where he lays him gently on the ground and starts reciting the funeral service. He pauses, looks around, and finds a trowel nearby. He takes it and starts hacking at the ground, weeping. While the rest of his family smiles and dances inside, he digs a grave, lays Juan in it, and buries him, alone. When he’s done, he finishes the funeral service.
Cesare watches the dancing, looking a bit smug, until his mother comes over to ruin his fun. She asks what they’re celebrating: his sister’s betrothal or his brother’s death? Cesare says his love for Lucrezia outweighs his grief for Juan and she practically laughs at the idea he would grieve for Juan before telling him they’re dancing on his brother’s grave.
Lucrezia comes hurrying over and tells him that their father has arrived. They all look up and see Alexander in the doorway, covered in mud and looking a bit crazy. Cesare goes over to him and Alexander says he wants to talk to him.
The two men face each other across a table in a darkened room, Alexander looking pretty out of it. Cesare calls him back to reality and Alexander asks for some wine. DR’s protégé brings it, and after tasting it, he declares it pure. Cesare asks him what happened and Alexander tells him he buried Juan and realizes that he brought all this upon himself. He takes a swig of wine and tells Cesare that he’s Alexander’s doing, and what he did is Alexander’s doing as well. He says that Cesare that he’s too much like his father, which made it hard for Alexander to favor him. So, does that mean that Juan was more like Vannozza? I find that hard to believe, since she’s a strong, smart, savvy woman and Juan was a cowardly, self-serving asshole. Cesare asks if he can be forgiven, and Alexander starts to answer, but then begins choking. Cesare looks over at the taster, who’s now crying blood. He vomits up more blood and collapses onto the floor, dead. Alexander, too, falls to the floor and Cesare calls for help and cradles him as he convulses. Lucrezia, Giulia, and Vannozza come running in and they all stand around helplessly and look down at the pope, who seems to die. I’d feel like this was all a very suspenseful ending if a) they hadn’t shown it in the ‘next on’ last week, and b) if I didn’t have access to Wikipedia and therefore didn’t know that Alexander died long after this. But not a bad way to end the season, overall.
That’s all for this year—here’s hoping for a season 3 so we can see how this all pans out!