Last season lots of stuff happened. Pope Daddy cast aside the mother of his children and started banging Julia Fornese (who rocks, even though I do sympathize with Vanozza). Cesare seduced Ursula Bonadeo after her husband insulted his mother, then he banged Ursula, killed her hubby, and she ran off to a nunnery to rock the Sinead O’Connor look. Lucrezia was married off to vile and abusive Giovanni Sforza so Daddy would have a military alliance. But Sforza’s nasty so she banged the stable boy, asked him to kill her hubby (who instead only broke his leg), then ran back home where she gave birth to stable boy’s baby (after a battefield stop on the way to flirt with King Charles). Juan was offered marriage to the lovely Sancia, daughter of the King Ferrante of Naples, as another political alliance. But he said no, so they married her to youngest child Gioffre, with whom there was an awkward wedding night. But Sancia didn’t mind since deciding after meeting her that she was bangable. (None of these three decided to run off anywhere.)
In non-sexual family matters, Cesare joined forces with the amazing and wonderful mercenary Micheletto. Juan proved himself to be a craptastic military leader. Cesare proved himself capably of anything. Lucrezia looked pretty a lot. And Pope Daddy was an asshole who bought himself the throne and was hated by most of the cardinals.
And finally in non-family events, Cardinal Della Rovere thought he should be pope. So he ran off to gather armies and scored a deal with King Charles of France who started rolling through Italy blowing shit up with his cannons. All the cardinals fled Rome, but Pope Daddy stayed behind. When Charles popped in at the Vatican, Pope Daddy crowned him king of Naples. However, when Charles reached his new lands he discovered just about everyone was dead from the plague.
And now… Season 2 of The Borgias.
We open with an altar boy dumping a powder in the communion wine before the priest enters the room. We then see it’s Cardinal Della Rovere he’s assisting. The boy watches as he drinks the wine and presses a cloth to his lips. Nothing happens. The priest continues with the service, moving forward to give the host to a couple people and then he collapses, pulls himself up, continues, and who’s the robed figure kneeling before him? Cesare! He smiles as Della Rovere collapses to the floor.
A nun is caring for him in a back room when Cesare interrupts to let him know that if he hasn’t died yet, he’ll live. But he won’t be able to speak for days and he should know that he cannot hide. He reminds Della Rovere that he’s better off with the Borgia family, than against them.
Outside Micheletto and the altar boy sit on the edge of a well. The boy asks if he’ll still get his payment since Della Rovere didn’t die. Micheletto says yes…and drowns him in the well. And then our lovely boys are off to Rome again.
At the Vatican, Pope Daddy is bathing a woman who asks if she’s to be his mistress. She’s already received multiple “blessings” from him, but her time to go has come. Julia Fornese is returning from her time away. And oh… she’s here now, says a guard. Skank in the tub has got to go. Pope Daddy tells her she must leave, but not before she gets what she was promised. Coins? Jewels? I can’t tell, but he puts something in her hands and by the time Julia enters the room, he’s the one in the tub and the woman-who-won’t-be-his-mistress is slinking out the back way.
After his bath, Pope Daddy rushes off to Lucrezia and her crying baby, while Julia finds a red ribbon under a pillow on the bed. Ooops.
Lucrezia is positively glowing. God that girl is beautiful. Her baby is crying, but grandpa does well to calm him down. He also insists on a wet nurse for her. Guess they want to keep those teenage boobies as firm as possible so they can marry her off again once they get rid of Sforza.
Pope Daddy takes grandbaby with him to the throne room. A messenger has arrived with word that the people of Naples may have been intentionally infected with the plague. They speak of King Charles, and the baby keeps crying because the messenger spoke too loud. Right.
Later, the Borgia men have all gathered at Daddy’s request. Juan kneels and kisses his ring, followed by Cesare. Neither seems particularly happy about this, but I’m thinking Juan’s the one who might need to kiss daddy’s ass instead. Pope Daddy’s pissed that Della Rovere is still alive. We then learn that King Charles has been struck with the plague. Daddy wants vengeance on the papal states and the families of the cardinals who betrayed him. “We shall subdue the arrogance of those papal states, one by one by one.” And he wants the Sforzas the most. Cesare takes a jab at his dickless brother, but Pope Daddy interferes and reminds them they must act as one.
They will restore Rome to the glory of Caesar’s day, but only if they work together as a family. All three grasp hands and repeat “family” at Daddy’s insistence. Juan and Cesare don’t look like they’ve bought into it though.
Down in the armory/blacksmith room/place with swords… Juan has two new dueling blades. Cesare wants to see. I want to see them fight. And they do. And it’s quite enjoyable. For me. Cesare lets Juan initially think he can best his older brother, and then it gets serious and guards come running to watch.
We cut briefly to Pope Daddy and Julia hunting in the woods. Then it’s right back to the fight and Juan is bitter and angry and makes jibes about Cesare being a priest instead of a fighter. But it’s Cesare with his sword at Juan’s neck, ready to end it all, when my darling Micheletto stops in. “You’re brothers after all, are you not?” Damn, there’ll be no killing today.
Back in the woods Pope Daddy and Julia are still in pursuit of a deer that has wondered into a walled-in area with erotic art painted everywhere. It seems to be some kind of old Roman orgy temple. “Mmm. Those Romans knew not monogamy,” Julia says. Pope Daddy wants to preserve the walls for posterity. Julia, of course, knows better and replies, “Not for pleasure?”
Back in Lucrezia’s room, Cesare enters. She doesn’t let him hold the baby for fear he’ll waken him, so he holds his beloved sister instead. I wish they’d just get on with it and go all Lannister family for us. But alas they only speak of the addiction of “impossible loves” instead of actually going there. Lucrezia says there’s one whom Cesare must love before he can love anyone else—he must love himself. (While she watches? I wonder.)
Ahh, King Charles. Dude is sick—literally—and gets his chest shaved for cupping with some nice glass bulbs. That’s better than leeches, I guess? At least for the viewer. Charles questions his doctor about what he saw at the King of Naples’ table. It seems our dear doctor prepped all those bodies for the taxidermist. Lovely. (Remember the end of season one when he entered the dining hall only to find bodies at the table in a weird “last supper” kind of mockery? Apparently they weren’t there because they died at the table, but rather had been stuffed and displayed there. The original Madame Tussauds?)
Pope Daddy has brought workers to the orgy temple to have the artwork carefully removed and stored at the Vatican for renewal of “the eternal city.” (That would be Rome.)
Then back at the Vatican he walks around observing the restoration of pieces, admiring a sculpture of a bull that represents Isis when Julia joins him. She listens as he speaks of the future. He wants to return joy to the people, to give them what is lacking in their lives. Julia asks if His Holiness is lacking something. She’s wearing a red stocking, her skirt pulled up to show her legs and while I’m very interested, Pope Daddy’s attention is elsewhere. What the hell dude? That woman is FINE.
We cut to the two of them in bed; Pope Daddy is awake and leaves the bed as Julia rolls over and continues to sleep. He goes down to the restoration room and there’s a young man whom we saw earlier among the workers at the orgy temple. He’s sketching from one of the paintings and we learn he’s apprenticed to an artist. But some of us (me, at least) aren’t so sure he’s a boy. And Pope Daddy’s right there with me, seeing “beauty” in that face. (You can’t buy the papacy without being omniscient like that.) With a quick reach for the boy’s crotch he determines our apprentice to be “more Eve than Adam.” Removing the boy’s hat and wig spills out long hair. He asks her name and why she hides, and Vittorio/Vittoria (which has me humming “Le Jazz Hot” to myself) says she must be a boy to be an artist. Pope Daddy wants to help her keep her secret, not knowing that Julia is watching.
When people speak of Gay Paree / They think that when they say Paree is gay / They mean that Gay Paree is “Gay!” / It is not in the way Paree was gay in yesterday Paree / It means today that Gay Paree *is* Gay. [pianist plays the Fairy Waltz]
Not that gay.
The Cardinals are gathered. Pope Daddy has planned a feast—a mix of pagan and Christian imagery. Cardinal Sforza questions the cost of the feast based on the sample bull Vittorio/a has made.
Rome is to be full of joy.
Julia observes Vittorio sketching the Isis bull statue and questions the manliness of his drawing… and of him. She asks why the deceit and says she understands that a woman can only be an apprentice in the trade of wet nurse. Julia moves behind her and opens Vittoria’s shirt to reveal her breasts.
Damn, Julia. (Not that I’m complaining.)
King Charles is viewing (again) King Ferrante’s banquet room of dead dudes, pointing out that the Judas seat in this parody of the last supper is empty. King Charles would see the man who poisoned his own men placed in that empty chair.
We cut to construction of a giant version of the Borgia bull—250,000 ducats spent so far. I don’t know what the conversion rate to modern dollars is, but that sounds expensive to me.
Juan and Cesare race horses around the wooden bull. They will be in a race the next day, which Micheletto wagers Cesare will win… if Juan doesn’t cheat.
It’s feast day and the race is on, with a dozen or so riders. Juan and Cesare immediately take the lead (which isn’t hard, since they start in front of the pack).
Meanwhile, outside of Naples dogs are teased with a scent item—presumably belonging to the “Judas Charles seeks” —as a man hides from them.
Back at the race, Juan drops some metal spike things on the ground (that look a lot like a set of Jumping Jacks only larger and more pointy) right in front of Cesare, causing his horse to go down just before the finish line. Cesare is NOT amused.
Down in Naples the dogs have chased down our hiding man whose dress isn’t particularly regal, but whose face is that of Prince Alfonso. Oh ho! He makes a declaration of some kind of privilege. (Papal? Royal? I don’t know because he’s hard to understand.)
In Rome the festivities continue with a masked ball. Lucrezia is Echo. Cesare, though not dressed as Narcissus, asks for a dance, promising to try to make her smile. Then as dancers pass by them, he throws out a couple of the spikes from earlier just as Juan moves by. There’s ouches and curses and high stepping going on. Catherine and Christopher Dollanganger giggle.
In Naples, Prince Alfonso is presented to King Charles who gives him food. Our poor prince seems more and more of a nutcase as he prattles on. His time in the dungeon did not do him any favors.
Juan is masked as Mars—I’m assuming this is because he thinks he’s a great military mind. He would be mistaken. Pope Daddy is the most appropriately costumed of all—Janus, the man with two faces.
Crazy Prince says people live and die and Naples will return. Charles insists on a tour of the dungeons and that finally stops the prince’s blathering.
Back in Rome the Bull is burning as people dance and I’m just waiting for a spectacular orgy to break out. Sadly it does not happen. (At least not in this episode.)
Julia (in her Minerva mask) approaches Vanozza and asks her advice for retaining Pope Daddy’s favor. (That woman has got balls. Kind of like Vittoria.) Vanozza suggests that Julia let Pope Daddy look both ways tonight (see Janus) but to be certain one gaze lands on her in the end.
In the torture chamber, they stop at a Judas cradle—Charles seems to like it and its “elegant name.” I sense Crazy Prince will be seeing the cradle again very soon.
Julia dances over to Vittorio/a (with a Vulcan mask) and leads her away so they may “find out who His Holiness is.” Menage? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top and a cherry?
The prince is having a breakdown in the dungeon. He’s crying as they point out a Pear of Anguish and force him to explain what it’s used for. (Hint, it’s worlds away from D’Angous and Bartletts.) Hard as he tries, Crazy Prince can’t quite manage to get out the word “rectum.” Charles, however, has no problem spouting out rectum as well as several others including “back passage” (which never fails to crack me up when used in “erotic” fiction). The camera gives us a good look at the device and it certainly looks like it still has blood on it from the last time it was used.
Julia transforms Vittoria into from Vulcan into Aphrodite (mother of hermaphrodite, as she’s quick to point out). She lets Vittoria’s hair down then they kiss and I clap and raise double fists in the air as I say, “Yeah!” That’s how you end an episode—leave us wanting more.
In Naples, Charles reclines on the throne while cries of the prince sound from the dungeon below.