The Borgias: The Whole Story

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.

Oh, Jesus. Juan is being wheeled into his father’s presence, all dramatics and woe-is-me in his giant wheelchair. He manages to get himself onto a crutch to enter Alexander’s room, where he tells him they were attacked and surprised and Juan was hit in the leg with an arrow. Although he couldn’t move, he continued to fight bravely alongside his men until he passed out and woke after the battle, managing to escape in the dark. Alexander commends his son’s bravery but rubs his eyes at the thought of this horrible and humiliating defeat. Juan adds that Cesare must have known that Ludovico’s army was on the move, and yet he didn’t bother to warn anyone. Juan’s pissed at the idea.

Micheletto and Don Hernando take Cesare into a prison to see a captive. Cesare recognizes him as Catarina Sforza’s son, Benito (I think) and wonders what he’s doing there. Hernando points out the kid’s many injuries, which horrify Cesare. He asks if Juan brought the kid to Rome and Hernando says Juan thinks the kid’s dead; the only other person who knows the boy’s there is Cardinal Sforza. Micheletto, meanwhile, is examining the kid’s injured hand and tells him he’s going to lose it, or possibly the whole arm. Hernando says the kid saw everything and knows that Juan ran like a coward. Hernando spared him because killing a boy isn’t honorable.

Juan’s still limping around and then being pushed in his fancy wheelchair, dragging his attitude with him. Cesare greets him as “My brother, the hero,” but Juan won’t even look at him.

Cesare goes to Alexander, who tells him Juan fought to within an inch of his life and that he knows Cesare didn’t send a necessary warning. Cesare invites him to get the true story of Forli from someone who was there, but without mentioning that he has just such a person right downstairs. Alexander asks him what he would have done, if he was in Juan’s place and Cesare says he would have stayed till the bitter end. He would have, too.

Alexander moves on to other matters: Florence, where Savonarola continues to make a pest of himself. So, it’s time to lay charges of heresy. Cesare says he doesn’t have the authority to do so (really? He’s a cardinal. If he doesn’t have the authority, who does?) Alexander writes him a letter that gives him that right and sends him on his way. A servant hands Alexander a book, which he begins enthusiastically paging through, expositing that somewhere in the book is a ritual that’ll ensure Savonarola gets a one-way ticket to the Underworld.

Juan greets Cesare outside their father’s room and asks what Alexander said to Cesare. Cesare tells him Alexander mentioned Juan’s bravery at Forli, but why? What else would he have said? Juan refuses to answer and asks what Cesare told him. “What could I tell him? You know the truth—you were there,” Cesare answers before going about his business.

Conclave dinner. Alexander’s food passes muster and Alexander reminds them all they only have 14 days before the end of Lent. I’m sure they’re all really looking forward to expanding their diets.

Della Rovere and Partner look down at his unconscious protégé while DR says how well the kid’s doing with the poison. Partner finally gets a name—Brother Silvio—and declares the kid ready. DR says they need to get rid of the taster first. Killing him would be wrong, because he’s a true man of God. Silvio says that God will guide them.

Juan’s back at his doctor, getting a horrible prognosis: the syph will eventually make him go blind and insane. Furthermore, the nasty infected wound on his leg may lead to an amputation. Fun all around! The doctor fetches some opium and muses that it would probably be pretty valuable as an export.

Vannozza’s wandering the garden with Lucrezia’s baby when Alexander comes whirling in and tells her he wants Lucrezia to make up her mind already. She says she wishes she’d never agreed to have anything to do with this. He reminds her that Genoa is super rich and he wants to see a betrothal that very day. Vannozza says she’ll do what she can, but she’s not making any promises.

Lucrezia, meanwhile, is watching Genoa the Younger draw in a cathedral. She’s not even trying to hide that she’s interested in the guy.

Alexander has gathered the boys to tell them that their family is being ridiculed left and right, but he’s heard that Juan captured Catarina’s son. He wants to know the truth of what happened at Forli and Juan gives a reasonably truthful recounting of events, except he claims that the son died in the battle. Alexander asks him to reiterate that he gave his all and Juan shows off his ugly wound as proof of his valor. Alexander next asks Cesare to answer for himself and Cesare lies that he would have warned Juan if he’d known the Sforza army was on the move. Juan totally doesn’t believe him.

Lucrezia makes her way to Genoa’s rooms and chats with him a bit, wasting no time asking about his brother. Genoa seems like a pretty nice guy, but I think he’s getting an inkling she might have a thing for his brother. Before she goes, he tells her she’s beautiful, and she returns the compliment. She’s not wrong—the guy’s pretty good looking. Outside his rooms, she gets all smiley.

Della Rovere and his protégé wander though the market and he talks about how awful the pope is and how much the taster likes fishing.

Hernando is heading back to Spain, and I can’t blame him for that, and leaving Benito in Cesare’s hands. Cesare says he wishes the man could stay and Hernando lays it out and says he has no interest in playing the game the people in Italy are playing. The Borgias and Sforzas have everything, and yet they just want to kill each other and everyone else. He’s a smart man and knows he knows too much, so he’s getting out of there before he winds up in the Tiber.

Protégé asks Silvio what the pope’s taster is like. Silvio says the man’s known to be a charitable soul. Protégé takes that to mean he’s a man of God and DR breaks in to say that a good man who serves a bad one really isn’t good anymore. Ok, then.

Vannozza has Lucrezia in her room and is trying to get her to make up her mind about her suitors by way of dessert. She sets out torrone with hazelnuts and something else and asks what she should choose (no contest: torrone all the way). Lucrezia giggles and asks what this is all about. Her mother reminds her that she’s a Borgia and Lucrezia sobers up. Vannozza tells her she can marry one man and have the other, but she has to make up her damn mind.

Juan’s back at the doctor’s, meeting with another man named Mohammad. The doctor sends them off together and Mohammad takes him an opium den. Wow, I didn’t know they had those in Europe back then.

Benito wakes to find Micheletto in his cell, looking at him thoughtfully. Micheletto wonders what’s to be done with the boy. Perhaps it would be best to mercy kill him. But first, he’s to be taken to Cesare.

It’s a dark and stormy night. Alexander wanders about in the church that collapsed a couple of episodes back and is surprised by the arrival of Benito, who says he needs to speak with him. Before he can say any more, the boy faints and Alexander catches him. Like Cesare, he’s horrified by the boy’s injuries. Benito tearfully introduces himself and says he needs to tell him what really happened at Forli. Cesare watches from afar.

The next day, Alexander sits deep in thought for a little while, until Juan stumps by, lying that he’s kept awake by his wound. Alexander invites him in and mentions Benito. Juan lies again that the kid’s dead. Alexander looks a bit sad and says it might be a good time to suspend battles for the time being and find someone else to lead the papal armies. Juan tries to argue that he’s fine to lead the armies but Alexander quietly says Juan isn’t fit to defend anyone, not even himself. Juan tells Alexander that, if he’s going to take his honor, he needs to take his life as well. Of course, Alexander isn’t going to do that, so he sends Juan off to bed instead.

Cesare’s getting ready to go back to Florence. Cardinal Sforza emerges with Benito and tells Cesare he’s to return Benito and the olive branch he’s toting to Catarina. Cesare helps the kid onto the back of his horse and sets off.

Lucrezia spots Genoa the Younger (I think his name’s Raffaelo) and talks with him while secretly dropping a note. Since he’s dense as hell, he doesn’t realize what she’s doing, so she has to pointedly tell him to read the damn note. He picks it up as she disappears.

Late at night, Raffaelo meets Lucrezia in a secret set of rooms somewhere, where she invites him to have some wine and sleep with her. He asks her if she’s saying yes to his brother and she says she is, but only so she can have Raffaelo too. He doesn’t seem to have any problem with that. Sexy time commences.

Protégé watches the taster—Brother Bernardino—emerge from the Vatican with a fishing pole and a kid toting a basket. He follows the man through the crowd.

Cesare and Micheletto are taking a break next to a brook, where Benito’s splashing in the water a bit. Micheletto urges Cesare to let him kill the kid before he grows up and goes to seek revenge. The man does have a point. But Cesare’s as interested in kid killing as Hernando was, and furthermore, the boy has an olive branch, and Cesare doesn’t want to go pissing off his dad. Cesare goes to get the horses and Micheletto tells Benito that he just offered to drown him. Benito knows—because he overheard the whole conversation.

Back in Rome, Genoa’s courting Lucrezia hard core while the pope, Vannozza, and all the cardinals look on.  He gives her a lovely model ship as a symbol of all he can lay at her feet and she pretends to admire it while making eyes at Raffaelo. Genoa formally proposes and Lucrezia accepts. Everyone applauds. I hope they at least let Vannozza attend this wedding.

Cesare, Micheletto, and Benito reach the forest outside Forli. Cesare pulls Benito down from the horse, pulls a knife on him and tells him to remember this moment, because it’s an act of mercy. He sends the kid back on his way toward the castle and Micheletto repeats that the kid will be back. Cesare says he, like Fernando, fights men, not boys.

Bernardino is out fishing from the top of a tall bridge, unaware he’s been followed there by protégé, who shoves him off the bridge and into the river, where he drowns. Protégé goes and confesses to Della Rovere, who seems to think this was a step too far. Too late now, my friend.