The Borgias Recap: “Tears of Blood”


King Federigo traveled to Rome so he could receive the Pope’s investiture.  As a show of continued peace between Naples and Rome (including Cesare’s French forces), Federigo asked that a special ambassador be appointed between their two lands: Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger).  Lucrezia was honored. 

When they returned to Naples, Federigo dropped his “nice guy” act and let Lucrezia know she’d been played.  In actuality, she was his prisoner, and security in case Cesare (François Arnaud) acted against Naples or Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee).  Devastated, a resolute Lucrezia set to secretly scheme with the old lady witch doctor from the woods, for the escape of her and her family from Naples.  

While in Rome, Lucrezia also paid a visit to her brother’s bedchamber.  The encounter was wrought with sexual tension, although things never progressed as far as they had on Lucrezia’s wedding night. 

Lucrezia was proud of herself for making things safe for her family, while Cesare was still wary about Federigo.  Lucrezia reiterated she wished they could be together, then returned to her husband before anything too untoward happened.


Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons), as Pope, started creating a lot of pomp, as it’s tourist season!  He put on a big show for the pilgrims, and charged lots in indulgences to cleanse their souls.  The money was to be diverted into a special fund, to fight his crusade in Constantinople. 

However, Rodrigo’s bromance with Mattai was still going strong.  Mattai promised to neutralize the Turks by having his syndicate of Jews destroy the Turkish fleet, in exchange for the Jews of Rome being exempt from all taxes.  Rodrigo agreed, and then came the coolest action sequence of the season: the docked Turkish fleet being lit afire and exploding.  Now, the money from the pilgrimage could be used to bolster the Papal forces. 

Caterina was heartbroken about the murder of her son Benito (because apparently she can’t just have “ten more” so easily).  She decided to hit the Borgias where it really hurt—their pocketbook.  She manufactured a false relic to divert the gullible pilgrims from Rome.  


Rodrigo sent Cesare to put an end to it, as a paid mercenary, since he still wouldn’t give Cesare command of the Papal Army.  Pascal tipped off Rufio. He and Caterina rigged the place to blow.  Cesare and Micheletto (Sean Harris) escaped the booby-trap just in time, and only sustained minor injuries. 

Rufio again paid a visit to Micheletto’s loft, to deliver a message to Pascal, this time as the assassin slept right there!  (Rufio must totally want to get the doe-eyed spy killed, right?).  It’s no wonder Micheletto became suspicious of his new boyfriend. 

Although Micheletto is illiterate, he has a photographic memory.  Without Pascal knowing, he “read” the message, and wrote it out for Cesare.  Cesare realized it was in code, and told Micheletto to get the book from Pascal that would enable them to break it. 

Micheletto was reluctant to tell Cesare where he'd received the message from.  In the history of their relationship, I don’t think Micheletto has ever said “no” to Cesare.  The young Borgias was floored. 

Micheletto also seemed reluctant to believe Pascal could have been betraying him the whole time.  This hesitation was also new for Micheletto’s character.  He’s always been a “Slaughter now, ask questions never” kind of guy.  The loyal manservant brought Cesare the copy of Catullus, and they got down to code breaking.  Afterward, it was clear the message was definitely in reference to the Sforza-Borgias feud. 

Cesare insisted now that he know where the letter came from.  Micheletto admitted it was from “A boy I took to my bed.”  Cesare corrected it wasn’t a boy, but a “spy.” 


Homosexuality is still something that can cause scandal.  In some parts of the world, it’s even punishable by death, like it was during the time of the show.  It was only last season Cesare and Micheletto saw “sodomites” being killed by the crazy Savonarola in Florence.  That Micheletto revealed himself to be gay here, did not much seem to faze Cesare.  It was refreshing to see a character react thus, especially in a show set 500 years ago.  Plus, coming from the guy who’s banging his sister, any outrage at sexual preference might have seemed a little hypocritical! 

I like that Cesare and Micheletto can accept each other for who they are, without passing any judgment.  Cesare seemed only annoyed at Micheletto for putting the Borgias in a position to be spied on.  It was also probably the first time, the capable assassin had let him down in any way. 

Micheletto was so ashamed he’d been duped, and put his master at risk, that he offered his knife to Cesare and begged his lord to kill him.  At this, Cesare’s anger softened and he was quick to insist that was the last thing he wanted.  He told Micheletto to “keep loving the boy,” so they could continue to intercept Caterina’s secret communiqué.

Later, Micheletto brought another message to Cesare.  After decoding it, Cesare was vindicated in his feelings of distrust towards Naples.  He told Micheletto his sister and nephew were Federigo’s hostages to keep them from attacking Caterina.  He ordered Pascal killed ASAP.

Micheletto confronted Pascal and was devastated at what he had to do.  He promised to provide a merciful death, and asked how Pascal wanted to die.  Pascal told his lover, “In your arms.” 

Photo Credit: Showtime