Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) still fretted over whether Giovanni would be accepted into her new marriage, on this week’s episode of The Borgias. Determined to ensure his sister’s happiness, Cesare (Francois Arnaud) headed to Naples with Alfonso in order to finalize the marriage contract.
All seemed well enough, until the subject of Giovanni was brought up and the king again refused to accept him at court. Cesare threatened to call off the alliance between Rome and Naples (and by extension, Spain) over this, so instead cautioned the king to think it over and deliver an answer at the wedding.
One of the newly defrocked cardinals, Versucci, raided the Vatican Treasury before setting what was left ablaze. This, right after Cesare told Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons) he needed funds as soon as possible to bolster the depleted Papal Army in preparation for the inevitable war with Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) and the Get Borgia Gang. Rufio (Thure Lindhart) continued to gain support throughout Italy for Caterina's cause, and got finite commitment after he revealed information his spies had collected—that the Papal Army was little more than nothing.
As Cesare’s love for his sister grew, so did his contempt for her husband. Cesare did not think Alfonso could make her happy, and was disgusted when he did nothing to speak up on Giovanni’s behalf to his uncle. It also didn’t help that Alfonso kept his mouth shut when the King of Naples was lying to Cesare about their well-armed 10,000 man army. In fact, Naples was practically still in ruins after last year’s attack by France.
Speaking of the French… A new king sent an ambassador to Rome in hope of repairing the relationship between the two states. The ambassador ensured Rodrigo knew the French king was unhappy with his homely bride, and believed her barren. He sought an annulment. In return, Cesare would be given a noble, French bride, among other perks, thus bringing an alliance between Rome and France. Rodrigo liked the idea of having two allies who were enemies. Plus, having both France and Spain in your pocket, in those days, had to feel pretty good!
Lucrezia was upset to learn her brother would be aligned to Naples’ enemy right after her marriage. Later, she tearfully asked her brother if he was on her side. He answered he would always be at her side, regardless of what happened with Naples or France. Cesare stopped, mid-sentence, finally unable able to contain his lust for his sister. He laid a desperate, passionate kiss on her, which was returned. It lasted for several moments before he apologized and ran out.
The King of Naples wanted to let Cesare know he would not be threatened, and that he had other friends besides Rome. Thus, he brought Caterina and the GBG to Alfonso and Lucrezia’s nuptials as his “honored guests.” The open slight did finally get Caterina to Rome and kissing the pope’s ring, albeit not in the way Cesare and Rodrigo wanted. It however led to this exchange, with the pope derisively saying, “We had almost lost hope of having you kneel before Us.” Caterina’s reply? “I bend my knee to no man.” Burn!
Cesare made it perfectly clear, to Caterina, he didn’t like having his enemy in his midst. However, the bemused smirk never left her face, much to his annoyance. He also nearly got into a row with a member of the GBG after he essentially called Cesare a bastard, and Cesare returned by basically calling him gay. Not much different than how a drunken brawl might start today, just the exact words thrown were much classier.
Cesare had rearranged Lucrezia’s seating chart into an “allies vs. enemies of the Borgias” chart, with Alfonso and his uncertain allegiance left in the middle of the two. After Lucrezia and Alfonso skipped out early from the wedding reception, to get busy, they ended up in the same room as the chart. Alfonso spotted it, and it killed “the mood.” Alfonso angrily stormed out, and committed himself to spending his wedding night alone.
Feeling unloved, Lucrezia went to her brother’s bedchamber. He’s the only man who’s ever truly loved her or been there for her, and she would deny herself no longer. She disrobed and climbed into bed with Cesare (who apparently sleeps in the nude, FYI). Cesare looked appalled for about three seconds, then Lucrezia kissed him, and they started making love. It began tentatively, like they couldn’t comprehend what was happening, even while they were doing it. Then, they started really enjoying themselves, and neither character has ever looked happier.
After two seasons of teasing, I still find it incredible The Borgias actually went there! I think it’s a testament to the acting that these actors are able to pull off an incestuous love affair, without it being entirely creepy. Not to sound too cliché, but although it’s wrong it “feels oh, so right.” You’re really rooting for this couple, despite the fact that they’re siblings. And actually, they probably have the best-functioning relationship of any pair on this show.
Will the night of passion bring the siblings closer together, or drive them apart? Either way, the “morning after” is sure to be interesting.
Photo Credit: Showtime