We begin with Lucrezia waking in bed, with the caged puma at the foot of her bed. That’s got to be an omen, right? As there’s no one else in bed with her, I’m guessing the puma was delivered/returned for some reason.
And yes… Calvino paces in a hallway with his brother waiting to tell the Pope he cannot marry Lulu. Why not? He motions to his brother. Rafaelo wishes to marry Lulu, and hopes that she will agree. But Pope Daddy’s got to agree first and I’m not so sure that’s going to happen.
Rafaelo insists he’s an honorable man, but Pope Daddy’s preference is for Calvino — a man of means. Rafaelo’s just a second son with a paintbrush and time on his hands. But nevermind that, because Cardinal Sforza brings news that Brother Bernadino died in an accident. It seems bodies are pulled from the Tiber every day. How about a fishing trip to Rome for your next vacation? Sounds like fun, yeah?
Pope Daddy storms through the Vatican to confront Vanozza about Lulu betraying one brother for the other. Vanozza admits she told Lulu to marry Daddy’s choice so that she may then love whomever she chooses. But Lulu pops in to say she would have married Calvinno if Daddy wished, but if she followed her heart she’d marry neither, because her heart is still broken. *pets her golden hair*
Cesare and Micheletto meet up with Machiavelli in Florence. They stand amongst the ashes of the big bonfire. It’s still smoldering. “Break the spell, break the man,” is the solution Cesare finds from Machiavelli’s wisdom.
Back at the Vatican Cardinal Sforza offers himself to be the interim taster until he can find someone new. Pope Daddy thanks him and goes on to discuss his plans to condemn Crazy Friar’s “soul to the fires of hell.” Forget Bonfire of the Vanities, we gonna burn people! Woo hoo!
Oops. I joked too soon. Our fair Cesare, Micky, and Mack hike up into the hills above Florence following a group of crazy believers. They’re carrying a woman tied to a post to be burned. It’s like Salem only with Catholics instead of Puritans (or whatever they were). The witch, the witch, the witch is on fire. We don’t need no water let the evil bitches burn! Burn evil witches, burn!
Mach explains that Crazy Friar trades in miracles and if proven wrong “he’ll burn just like the witch.” I’m kind of horrified that Cesare just stands there and watches the whole thing. Micheletto watches as well, but with a different kind of ache in his eyes. I still can’t figure out just what he thinks of all of this crazy. At last our dudes turn and walk away from the scene.
Later that night, Crazy Friar is ranting and raving when Cesare arrives with a torch in hand, clothed in his red robes. “I come bearing the authority of his holiness…” he says as he enters the church and interrupts the preaching. He declares that Crazy Friar has been accused of heresy, but dude don’t recognize Pope Daddy’s power. He gets his instructions from above. Well, Cesare’s got a solution for that. They can put him to the test — Trial By Fire. Crazy Friar’s followers can be there to witness. If he can walk through fire untouched, Cesare will follow him into the flames. Well… one of these guys is going to burn and I can bet you it’s not Cesare. He’s too sexy for the show to kill him off just yet.
Crazy Friar: “God speaks to me. I am not afraid. I will walk through the fire. And he… he that follows me will burn.”
Juan’s looking rough today. He’s standing at a wall trying to pee, talking to his cock about how they used to be friends and now “he” is hurting Juan. “As usual, you have nothing to say. But still you ruin my life.” Ahahaha! Juan needs to die, except for when he cracks me up like this.
At St. Peter’s Pope Daddy is in his Lenten/Easter finery of purple robes. He moves into the center of a circle of cardinals each holding a tall white candle.
At the same time in Florence, piles of wood are stacked in rows with an aisle down the middle and lit on fire.
Back to Pope Daddy reading from a giant book. Flashback to Florence and the fires are raging. Crazy Friar is also raging about how he speaks God’s truth. Pope Daddy’s words become clearer and we realize he’s excommunicating Crazy Friar. We hear Pope Daddy’s talking as we watch Crazy Friar walk through the fire. His robes catch fire and he smacks the flames as he walks, but it’s no good. Pope Daddy finishes, leaving his soul to the Day of Judgment and all the cardinals throw their candles to the floor. It’s like all dramatic and shit.
Crazy Friar burns and you can see he’s kind of upset that God let him down. I think he truly believed what he was saying. The crowd, of course, goes crazy and boos him, though a couple monks run over with blankets to beat out the flames. The people are f-ing pissed off. Cesare is smiling; Micheletto is mysterious. Finally Cesare orders Micky to take the Friar to Rome.
Remember how taster boy kicked Brother Bernadino off the riverbank (if 20 feet above the water can be called a bank) last week? Well Della Rovere’s wasting no time teaching taster boy how to offer his services to Pope Daddy and what he to do if hired. He’s to bide his time because he will have only one chance to deliver a fatal dose. The boy points out it will be fatal to both of them. “May God be with you,” Della Rovere says.
Juan’s smoking dope. (I’d like to interject here to state that the filming of this scene is perfect — the video matches his euphoria.) As he lies back he’s all high and talking to himself (much as he talked to his dick earlier) and holy crap! he reveals his suspicion that his brother has “had congress” with his sister and what a demon that congress would produce. But “no one is listening” to him. (I’m listening, Juan. I’m listening and I’m delighted that a billion fangirls weaned on Flowers in the Attic and I aren’t the only ones seeing sister-fuckers everywhere.)
Back at the Vatican, Juan is stumbling and needing assistance from the guards. Pope Daddy accuses him of having been drinking. Lucky for Juan, Cesare shows up with news of Crazy Friar and the guards are able to carry Juan away without further berating. Cesare and Pope Daddy get right down to business — they’re gonna burn the Friar publicly.
Cardinal Sforza has narrowed the applicants for taster down to three men. The first one is Cistercian and his hands are filthy. Pope Daddy is not impressed. The next man is a Dominican, so he’s automatically associated with Crazy Friar. Not good. But ah yes, taster boy is option number three. He’s Franciscan and his hands are clean, two points in his favor. “I will gladly die to preserve the life of his holiness,” he says when asked why we wishes to serve. And taster boy has a name — Antonello. Pope Daddy seems to like him and points out that they are fasting; if he’s prepared to starve with them as they dine simply on sardines then he’s got a job.
Micheletto has delivered Crazy Friar to Rome and points out that the man will not break. In the light of day we can see the damage the fire did to him. He’s still firm in his beliefs, however. He points out that true confession can only come from torture and asks if Cesare is up to it. But Cesare won’t be doing the torture. That’s what Micky’s for. Crazy Friar says Cesare will be an old man before he signs his confession. And now I’m really wondering how all of Micheletto’s mysterious emotions are going to play out next week.
Another elaborate (not) dinner. One of the Cardinals points out that now that Easter has come they must celebrate. Wrong! Pope Daddy’s going to stick with sardines and water. The others may feast if they choose. Cardinal Vesucci, being smarter than the others, follows Pope Daddy by opting for sardines as well. Taster boy does his job dutifully. No poison yet.
Remember Giulia Fornese? That smoking hot, super smart chick Pope Daddy was banging? She’s back! Praise Jesus! She slips into Pope Daddy’s bed at night to whisper her love in his ear. Oh yeah… he gave up sex for Lent. Ha ha! She asks why he punishes himself and let’s him know that the bathhouse has been restored, the orphans are cared for, and the poor have bread. He’s doing God’s will, she insists, and that should be his sign. They kiss and I smile. I adore her so much. She says there’s another blessing he must confer — grandson Giovanni has not yet received the sacraments. It’s time to baptize that boy.
The next morning, Lulu and baby are in the courtyard by the fountain and daddy comes up behind, watching with a smile. He says he’s rejoicing at the beautiful sight. Lulu’s rejoicing too, to see her daddy happy again. He says they’ll see the baby baptized “in the eyes of God for all to see.” There’ll be festivities. And Lulu insists Cesare must be the godfather.
The baby is baptized in Cesare’s arms by Pope Daddy out in the courtyard. It’s lovely and Lulu is in a gorgeous dress and her face is glowing, and seriously how beautiful is that girl?
At the festivities a water jug is partially filled and then we see taster boy adding poison to it. In the background we hear joyous music and the scene shifts to Lulu holding up her baby in a room full of people. Pope Daddy drops rose petals from above. Juan whispers to his mama about the baby being a bastard and Vanozza points out that he’s a bastard too. “What happened to you, Juan? You were such a lovely child,” she says.
A quick note on the setting so this makes more sense. There’s a big ballroom with a second level balcony above all around the edges of the room. Off the balcony are small alcoves. So some of this happens down in the ballroom, some up in the balcony. Moving on…
Up in the balcony taster boy takes the water to Pope Daddy who knocks it away saying they must have wine for the occasion. (And there went taster boy’s once chance, unless he goes back to Della Rovere for more cantarella. Or snoops around the Vatican and gets some from Cesare or Micheletto.) Pope Daddy makes the boy taste the wine and then pour. They are done with fasting, they shall celebrate his grandson with lots and lots of wine. Lulu has organized a dance performance “Angels and Virgins” for papa. Below them six pairs of women and little girls perform a lovely dance.
Juan watches from above with his sword in hand. Cesare comes over and strikes up a conversation about Catherina having ten more sons. What a dick. God I love him. What do you know, Juan still believes Baby Boy Sforza is dead. Cesare tells him the truth that his Buddy Cabellos saved the kid, he shared the real story with Pope Daddy, and Cesare took him home to Mommy Dearest. (Maybe she can make ten more sons with her son. Wait… wrong show… or is it?) Juan gets pissed. He insists that he is “the prodigal son” and Cesare can never take his place as a military man OR in their father’s heart. Me thinks the syphilis is eating his brain.
Juan storms off and goes to see Lulu and the baby. He gets an attitude and calls her baby a bastard and a piglet. (This kind of crap is why I don’t see my family.) Juan’s got threats for if she tries to marry Rafaelo. He’ll take care of him “for the good of the family.” Just like he did with Paolo. He even says he would have tossed the baby into the Tiber if it weren’t for Pope Daddy’s love for the child. Lulu points out that they are all bastards, but Juan says the difference is that they are “Borgia bastards.” He calls the kid a piggy again and then picks him up from his cribs and pulls a Michael Jackson move, holding the baby out over the balcony ledge. Lulu comes and takes him away while Cesare watches from the opposite side of the balcony and Micheletto spies from behind Juan. Shit is going down tonight, I can feel it.
Down below them there’s dancing and partying and then out in the courtyard, some of the adult lady dancers frolic around the fountain while Juan hobbles out and watches. I expect him to do something horrible to one of them.
Inside at Giovanni’s crib, Cesare comes to Lulu and she asks him to tell her about poison. She would happily kill her brother today. And not for the first time I watch these two and yell “kiss already” to the television. No killing tonight though, at least not by Lulu. But more hearts will be broken. Cesare turns and Pope Daddy is standing in the doorway.
Down in the courtyard the girls notice Juan watching them and run away, but he stops the last girl and tosses her up against a wall.
Inside Cesare insists they must all talk about Juan. Will love make him a better man, Cesare asks. Pope Daddy just wants Cesare to be his keeper, to help him, to support him. And of course Juan and Cesare both want nothing to do with that plan. Lulu’s not very happy with that plan either. She still wants to see Juan dead.
Oh yes. Raping. (I hate these scenes, but I do appreciate the accuracy of such actions.) This poor girl. Juan’s choking her as he rapes her against the wall telling her to say “ten more sons” again. Then Micheletto interrupts, asking where he would dispose of her body. He puts his own hand to Juan’s throat and tells him he’s pressing the wrong spot, illustrating just where to press to kill her in a moment. (I love this man.) Juan let’s go and says Micheletto will pay for this before hobbling away. Yeah… I don’t think so, Juan. The only reason he hasn’t killed you already is that he’s waiting for Cesare’s permission.
Later we see Juan out and about, with Micheletto watching in hiding. He’s heading to the opium den and the owner comes out help him inside. After Juan is safely ensconced inside, the owner comes back out and Micheletto approaches, asking if Juan is inside. The man is reluctant at first and then says yes. Micheletto tells him to go inside and let him know Juan’s “brother would speak to him.” The man does and Juan stumbles out into the night. Oh wow… Cesare is actually there. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought that line was a ruse. But I guess I should know better. Micheletto’s wonderfully honest most of the time. Misleading perhaps, but he doesn’t really lie.
Juan asks if Cesare is there to beg forgiveness. He says he already has, meaning he’s begged God’s forgiveness, not Juan’s. The point is lost on Juan though as he’s totally stoned. Micheletto takes out the opium den owner while Cesare and Juan walk. Juan’s in Xanadu with Coleridge, talking about the wonders around him, the wonders of his life. He says he glimpses them — “two brothers in harmony, walking together.” But the visions are the work of tears of the poppy. He can see everything and there’s no pain.
Juan admits that he’s been in pain for all his years and he feels that Cesare has been in pain too. Cesare says yes and they embrace. They would end each others pain. And if you think Cesare’s going to hug it out here and walk Juan home, you would be dead wrong. Cesare stabs Juan in their embrace, says “only God forgives, we’re Borgias we never forgive” as he stabs him twice more. Micheletto helps toss him over a wall into the Tiber, saying that despite killing his own father, he stands in awe of Cesare. (I might have again desired a kiss at this moment.)
Next week it’s over. Another suitor for Lucrezia; Juan’s body; and the promise of a “shocking” season finale. We shall see.