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.
In Rome, Alexander’s meeting with representatives from King Ferrante of Naples, as Juan lounges at his feet and cracks wise about Ferrante’s feeblemindedness. The reps present a portrait of Sancia, Ferrante’s illegitimate daughter, prospective bride of Jofre. She’s gorgeous. Even Alexander clearly thinks so. Juan points out that Jofre’s only 13, and the reps say they thought Juan was going to be the bridgroom. Juan acts like a jerk and Alexander tells the representatives to thank Ferrante for everything, and promises a response in due course.
Lucrezia’s out with her husband’s horse and Paulo the stableboy, happily noting that her husband can’t hunt or have sex, so everyone’s happy. Except for Sforza, and we don’t care about him. Paulo gives her some riding pointers, and they have a good canter through the woods.
Alexander retires to his rooms with his sons, and Juan immediately starts bitching about the idea of having to marry an illegitimate daughter. Alexander just rolls his eyes and reminds him for about the eighth time that an alliance with Naples is important. Juan keeps whining, so Alexander folds and says Jofre can marry her. Cesare reminds his dad that Jofre still plays with his sister’s dolls. “Now he’ll have a life-size one,” says Juan. Heh. Juan says there’s no way he’ll marry Sancia, but he will go to Naples and press his brother’s suit on Jofre’s behalf. I’m sure this’ll go splendidly. Alexander isn’t so sure about that idea, so Juan suggests Cesare go. Cesare demurs, claiming to have business in Rome. Juan snarks that he’s heard all about Cesare’s “business,” and Alexander chuckles knowingly.
In the woods near Pesaro, Lucrezia and Paolo dismount and settle down next to a beautiful pool, where she tells him the story of Narcissus and decides to call him that from now on. The scene’s shot beautifully, with the camera focusing on their clear reflections in the pool. Lucrezia kisses Paolo’s reflection, and then kisses him, sighing that she thought she’d never know sweetness.
In Rome, Ursula cloaks herself before making her way to Cesare’s home. During the tour, she notes that he’s pretty spare in his tastes. Before long, they’re making out, and then heading for bed. It’s pretty hot.
Still in the woods, Paolo and Lucrezia are having some serious sexy time of their own, as the horses contentedly much the vegetation nearby.
Ursula and Cesare pause for just a moment and she tells him he makes her hope for some happier future, with him, which scares her. Cesare suggests her husband’s business might detain him longer than she thought. Much, much longer.
Alexander schools Juan on their hopes for the marriage with Sancia, ahead of Juan’s trip to Naples. They want Jofre happy, an alliance, and a nice, fat dowry. Also, Alexander wants a big fancy wedding, mostly to give him an excuse to call Lucrezia to Rome and see her again. Aww.
Juan arrives in Naples and is welcomed with a banquet, during which creepy Alfonso feeds his father some chicken, totally grossing Juan out, though he attempts to be polite, for the sake of Sancia, who’s sitting beside him and acting like this is all totally normal. Which it probably is, in this family. She’s played by Emanuelle Chriqui, best known as Sloan on Entourage. While I like her on that show, I’m not quite sure about her here. Jury’s still out.
Juan tells Sancia that Jofre’s soon to be a man, and she brightly says she’s truly blessed in this union. She then flat-out asks if she and Jofre have illegitimacy in common, since it’s good to share something with your future spouse, I guess. Juan gets prissy about the term, but she apparently subscribes to the Tyrion Lannister School of Owning One’s Bastardy. As they speak, she starts running her foot up Juan’s leg, and then starts feeling him up underneath the table. Classy. Alfonso suggests she give Cesare a tour of the palace after dinner. Oh, Juan. Stop eating now.
Naturally, she takes Juan to the Dining Room of Death, which Juan admires. Sancia says her father’s reputation preceded him, because of this room, and Juan—I swear to God—starts flirting with her in this room full of stuffed, decaying corpses. And she responds! Yikes, what’s wrong with these Naples royals? In short order, Juan’s got her up on the dinner table and is showing her just how virile the Borgia men are. Ewwwww.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Giulia’s trying to entice Alexander, but he’s not in the mood. She sulks that he finds politics more engrossing than he finds her. He plays along with her and starts illustrating Italian politics using her leg. It actually works: the top is France, then Milan, then Florence, then Rome, and the whole calf and ankle and heel and foot are Naples, and if you lose all that, you lose your balance. All this leg rubbing turns him on, so he goes ahead and “invades France”.
Speaking of France, Della Rovere’s just arrived, and I have to admit, I kind of laughed at that transition. The soldier accompanying him explains that the king is testing out a new cannon he’s been working on. They ride through an encampment as cannons are fired and finally arrive at a tent where King Charles is having lunch or dinner. Della Rovere starts sucking up immediately, and Charles tells him to stuff it and get to the point: he wants to talk Naples and find out how della Rovere would place the crown on Charles’s “ugly head”. His words, not mine, though Charles was said to be really, really ugly. Charles asks him to come right out and tell him what he wants from France. Della Rovere wants him to march to Rome, dump Alexander, make della Rovere pope, and then go ahead and take Naples. He reassures Charles that the Italians are accustomed to “the show of war” but they aren’t warriors themselves.
Cesare’s in bed with Ursula again, and she notes that her husband’s been away for much longer than expected. Cesare suggests the guy’s getting a little bit on the side himself. Nice, Cesare. She notices how blunt he is about that and worries about “the consequences of his affections.” Perhaps you should have worried about that before you asked him to free you, Ursula. Oh, and speaking of the first time we saw her, I think I said at the time that she looked familiar, like I’d seen her on The Tudors. I did—she played Bessie Blount in the first season. Just for those who were curious.
Cesare just wants to get back to the sexing and enjoy the time they have, but she’s being a total buzzkill, worrying about God frowning on them, what with Cesare being a priest. Despite her talk of blasphemy, Cesare’s hotness is finally simply too much for her to resist.
Back in France, Charles walks through the encampment with della Rovere, talking about how ugly war is and how it should be approached with extreme circumspection. They arrive at his fancy new cannon, which fires two cannonballs chained together, inflicting massive damage. Charles invites della Rovere to give the signal to fire it, and della Rovere does so. The cannon slices about a dozen dummies in half, then rips a giant chunk out of a wall behind them. I wouldn’t want to clean up that battlefield mess. Even Charles is in awe at the sight.
In Pesaro, Francesca makes sure the coast is clear, then nods for Paulo to make his way up to Lucrezia’s bedroom. They kiss, and then she climbs up onto the bed and starts to take off her nightgown. In his room below, Sforza wakes to hear some very questionable, rhythmic squeaking. He gets up and manages to limp to the foot of the stairs, where he realizes the squeaking’s coming from the kitchen, where Francesca’s churning butter for the next morning. He accepts this and goes back to bed. And we all learn that it’s a very good idea to make friends with the maids in your house when you’re trying to sleep with a stableboy.
The Borgia boys are having dinner with their mother. Jofre asks if Sancia’s pretty and kind. Juan tells the kid she’s neither. Poor Jofre’s crushed, but Juan’s just teasing and quickly puts the boy out of his misery, telling him Sancia’s lovely and he would marry her if Jofre wasn’t already betrothed to her. He’s actually pretty cute with the kid, but both Cesare and Vannozza exchange knowing looks. They totally know what’s going on with Juan and his future sister-in-law.
In the city’s sewers, two men come across the body of Ursula’s husband and wonder who he is.
Charles and della Rovere talk about the possibility of war in Italy. Charles has no illusions about war, knowing it’s a terrible business. He urges della Rovere to be careful what he prays for, if he prays for war.
Vannozza and Juan are now alone together, relaxing, when Vannozza’s husband, Theo, comes in and greets her as “my dear.” Juan jumps all over that and asks his mother what the man’s doing there. Theo tries to excuse himself, but Juan starts beating the tar out of poor Theo, who always gets such a raw deal from the kids when he visits this house. Vannozza tries to call Juan off, but Juan’s all whipped into a froth, talking nonsensically about how there are rumors he’s Theo’s son, not the pope’s. He finally pauses, and Vannozza tells him to get the hell out of her house and never return. Good for you, Vannozza.
Ursula meets with Cesare in a church and tells him her husband’s been found in the river, stabbed to death. She’s guilt ridden over having an affair with Cesare while her husband lay dead and castigates herself for breaking her marriage vows, although strictly speaking, she didn’t. Her husband was dead—the vows were null and void. If anything, she should feel less guilty about sleeping with Cesare. She knows Cesare was involved in her husband’s death, once again not at all acknowledging the fact that she practically asked Cesare at least twice to kill her husband. Geez, lady, selective memory much? She weeps and is horrified that Cesare’s capable of murder. Struggling to maintain control of himself, Cesare says he was defending his mother’s honor, and also securing the freedom of someone he felt he could love. Without looking at him, Ursula says she can’t forgive him for what he’s done, as he’s made her a party to his crime. She says she doesn’t even know who he is anymore. Cesare grabs her arm as she tries to leave and desperately tells her he’s tried to be different from his family, but he can’t, and he’s hurt her, and he’s very sorry for that. She cries some more and almost seems like she might unbend. She tells him he gave her joy, but now she must live the rest of her life in penance. He asks her where she plans to go but she refuses to tell him. He promises to search her out, like Abelard and Heloise (he loves calling on that story, doesn’t he? Although in this case, it’s more appropriate). She leaves anyway, and his face crumples.
Alexander has called Juan to the carpet and scolds him harshly for beating up Theo. Juan brings up the rumors again and Alexander points out that all he’s done is feed them. He tells Juan to back off and act like a dignified leader instead of a brawling jerk. He informs Juan that there are some who whisper that Cesare would be better as the soldier son, and Juan should take care not to add fuel to that particular fire. That gets Juan’s attention. He quiets down and promises to restrain himself. Alexander reassures Juan that he’s Alexander’s son, but asks him not to make Alexander regret that fact. He tells Juan to apologize to Vannozza and escort her to Jofre’s wedding (oh, sure, she gets to go to that wedding). He slaps Juan hard on the cheek and stalks out, clearly still pissed.
Alexander’s woken from a nap by the lovely vision of his daughter, whom he greets joyfully. Awww.
Back in France, della Rovere informs Charles of the betrothal between Sancia and Jofre, which he guesses means that the investiture of King Ferrante will soon follow. He urges Charles to move quickly, before that happens.
Lucrezia leaves her father and goes to see Cesare, who’s just as happy to see her as Alexander was. He takes her aside and asks her how the marriage is going. She tells him marriage was hard at first (I’ll say), but then it grew sweeter (ditto). He presses for details, but she won’t give him any. She asks him how he’s doing, and he admits he’s had his heart broken by a nun. She brings up the Abelard and Heloise story and suggests he spend his life writing to the woman, once he finds out which nunnery she’s retreated to.
Scenes of Jofre’s grand wedding are intercut with Ursula joining the nunnery, having her hair cut off (renouncing worldly beauty), and taking her vows. Jofre walks down the aisle with Vannozza (who gives quite the side-eye to Giulia), then kneels beside Sancia and recites his vows as Sancia glances saucily at Juan, who’s standing nearby. Cardinal Sforza’s conducting the ceremony. Lucrezia’s seated beside Cesare and says she kind of hates Sancia for being so beautiful, but she’ll be friends with her anyway. She adds that Jofre deserved better than Naples—she’s heard rumors about the monster Ferrante is.
That night, Jofre drinks a glass of milk before bed, as Sancia tells him about Squillace, which he is now duke of, through marriage. She’s talking to him from another room, and getting increasingly out of breath as she speaks, because, as it turns out, she’s having sex with Juan. I do have to give the girl points for being able to multitask. Juan asks her to be nice to Jofre, and she promises. They finish up, and she goes into the bedroom where Jofre’s waiting for her. She dismisses the servants, calls Jofre her husband, and strips off her nightgown. Jofre goes wide-eyed, as any 13-year-old boy would. Guess he likes his new doll.
In France, Charles tells della Rovere he’ll have his war, as long as nobody questions the behavior of the French troops. Oh, that sounds like a marvelous promise to make. Della Rovere looks hesitant, but he wants that papacy at any cost.