Margaret the Uniter

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of two countries. As Princess Margaret Tudor marries King James IV, England and Scotland are united and shall remain so forevermore. Right? Well, no. That certainly was the idea behind Margaret’s marriage to James, which took place on August 8, 1503, the day after she arrived in Edinburgh, but as we all know, the … Continue reading Margaret the Uniter

The Borgias: Sad Goodbyes

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?

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The Borgias: The Trouble with Juan

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.

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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.

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The Borgias: Plots and Plans

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.

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The Borgias: Lovers and Enemies

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?

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The Borgias: The Illusionist

Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia’s sometime lover and babydaddy Paolo came to town and got to see her and the baby before Juan got pissed and killed him, disguising the death as a suicide.

Poor Paolo is still hanging in the square, attracting some attention, including that of Cesare, who tries to hustle his sister out of there. She notices the crowd, however, and then sees its cause and completely falls to pieces in her grief. So I guess we know what the gossip in the square’s going to be for the next week or so. Cesare finds a suicide note that Juan planted on the body, because he’s both a moron and an asshole. Moron because most people of Paolo’s class at the time (including Paolo, as we know) were illiterate and asshole because suicide was (and still is) taken very seriously by the Catholic church and meant you couldn’t have a Christian burial. It basically meant you were consigned to hell for all eternity. Juan, you are such a douche. None of us are going to be sorry to see you die in the season finale (sorry, historical spoiler!). Now, Lucrezia knows Paolo couldn’t read or write, so the note clues her in to the fact that something is seriously amiss here. She gets up and starts to move away from the body, but then faints. Cesare picks her up and carries her home, telling one of their guards to take care of the body.

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The Borgias: Rainmakers

Previously on The Borgias: Well, I actually missed almost all of last week’s episode, but from what I can gather, Cesare and Victor/Vittoria managed to fake out the entire French army with paper mâché cannon. And that’s pretty damn cool.

Alexander congratulates Cesare and Victor/Vittoria on their subterfuge, but Cesare doesn’t get to celebrate long: Micheletto appears and tells him the French came up by a road that took them past the convent where Ursula was living. The two men race there, but the place has been pretty much laid waste. The nuns have been slaughtered, and their bodies left underneath that recently completed ceiling fresco. Cesare moves past them until he finds Ursula at last and realizes her ear’s been cut off, as have those of many of the other nuns. And now Cesare’s really, really pissed. Man, I wished for an end to this subplot, but I didn’t want this for her. That sucks. Cesare vows vengeance on the French. Micheletto agrees with that because that’s the kind of thing he lives for, and he finds a French flag left carelessly nearby. Cesare tells Micheletto to start gathering up some stray condottieri that they can use to unleash some sweet, sweet asskicking on the French.

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The Borgias: No Pigeons

Previously on The Borgias: Alexander brokered peace between his two sons, which lasted all of 10 minutes; then decided to return Rome to its glorious, Imperial, hedonistic past by throwing a huge party for the whole city. King Charles of France managed to track down Alfonso of Naples and tortured him to death.

Paolo, Lucrezia’s former lover and father of her child, is making his way to Rome on a donkey. He stops to ask some peasants for directions, and they point him in the right direction, talking the whole time about how awful Rome is.

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The Borgias Recap: Family

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.

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