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The Borgias Recap: “The Banquet of Chestnuts”

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Things were deliciously awkward when Cesare (François Arnaud) and Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) first bumped into each, following their night of passion.  It didn’t help that Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons) kept needling “blushing bride” Lucrezia about her wedding night. 

Alfonso’s cousin, the King of Naples, came by the next morning to get all the lurid details about what Lucrezia was like in bed, and quickly deduced his cousin was still a virgin.   Alfonso was even worse at lying about sex than Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.  Defeated, Alfonso quickly admitted to his cousin nothing happened between them. 


Alfonso apologized to Lucrezia for their quarrel, in an attempt to “seal the deal” with his wife.  Lucrezia softened, but lacking passion for her husband, she denied him affections.  Alfonso became increasingly desperate (probably already hearing his cousin screaming, “YOU HAD ONE JOB!” over and over in his head). 

“Maybe our love has to be more of the soul,” she told him.  “Like brother and sister,” asked Alfonso.  “No, not like that,” Lucrezia concluded awkwardly.  To his credit, and the show’s, Alfonso was a decent human being (unlike Giovanni Sforza and Juan), and not a rapey jerkface.  This pleased me, since I could not handle another season of Lucrezia being repeatedly raped by her husband.

The King of Naples was incensed the marriage had not been consummated, and determined to secure his alliance by any means. He asked that he be able to witness the act, saying that "a [sexless] few days become a few weeks, then the lovers come,” and he wished to see the Naples-Rome alliance cemented personally. 

Apparently, this wasn’t completely uncommon  back in the day, although the Borgias were grossly offended.  Cesare was enraged and said his sister would not be insulted thus, however he was overruled by Rodrigo. 


Lucrezia was devastated and felt this was another, in a long line of deeds, which would see her suffer for the good of the family.  She agreed because she had no choice, and then somewhat vindictively chose Cesare as their family’s witness to the event.

Cesare seemed heartbroken at not being able to protect Lucrezia from this.  He’s the only one who seems to truly care about her happiness, yet he’s never able to save her from the things that would hurt her greatly.  Also, I can not with François Arnaud crying.  He’s too pretty for such heartbreak!

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Now that the King of Naples has offended his sister, he can’t be long for this world.  Cesare always pays Lucrezia’s debts.   

The whole ordeal came across as horrible and awkward.  Adding to the creep factor was that the King of Naples seemed like a bit of a letch.  The king told Cesare he was impressed his novice cousin could bring a woman to pleasure.  Although, this was more likely a result of Lucrezia’s constant eye contact with her brother.  The king’s untoward color commentary during the act left Cesare stewing, as much as watching Lucrezia with Alfonso left him heartbroken. 

Cesare and Lucrezia had a heart-to-heart before he left for France.  He basically said the incest needed to stop, that she should go on and love her husband, while he found himself a French bride.  “Maybe we both can work our way to happiness,” he offered. 


Alexander Farnese was awarded a cardinal’s hat, and became the new accountant.  He was tasked with figuring out the state of the Vatican’s treasury after Cardinal Versucci’s runner last week.  Rodrigo seemed to like him for the fact that he lacked ambition and was only there at his sister’s machinations.  Must be nice to not feel like that cardinal next you is going to murder you for your crown, for a change! The Pope also was pleased the boy was supposed to have a head for numbers, and told Farnese he was to report to him only. 

Cardinal Farnese started to freak out because he couldn’t reconcile the treasury’s accounts, which he referred to as “Lies and Confusion.”  His cleverer sister helped him realize Versucci had stolen from Rome before setting the place ablaze last week. 

The theft uncovered, Michelotto (Sean Harris) was dispatched to also “reconcile accounts.”  He found Versucci, and was told of how he’d given away the funds he’d stolen before killing himself. 

Rodrigo recognized Giulia’s handwriting, and became angry that Cardinal Farnese appeared not be able to do his job.  It wasn’t the rookie cardinal’s fault he missed “Corruption & Embezzlement Day” at accounting school.


Wishing to get her family back into the Pope’s good graces, Giulia held a dinner for all the cardinals — except her brother, whom she told to call in sick. The dinner turned out to be an orgy, so she could record every debauched thing the cardinals did. 

By compromising the men, they’ll be loyal, so Rodrigo won’t have to worry about their allegiance anymore.  Rodrigo was quite pleased with the outcome. 

Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) and Rufio (Thure Lindhart) brought Lord and Lady Gonzaga back to Rome. This occured so Bianca could resume her affair with Rodrigo, and Gonzaga could publicly accuse the Pope of adultery. 

Meanwhile, Venice came begging for help against Turkish pirates. Rodrigo, ever the egomaniac, sought to turn it into a glorious crusade. This would undoubtedly help replenish the coffers. Rodrigo held a dinner for the city’s merchants in order to raise money for defense against the Turks, lest they threaten their shipping lanes like Venice. 

Is a Crusade a good idea when Caterina Sforza is still after him?  Will Cesare and Lucrezia's attempt at a normal sibling relationship last?

Photo Credit: Showtime