The Borgias Recap: “The Gunpowder Plot”


Micheletto (Sean Harris) tenderly killed his traitorous lover, and then fled Rome.  He left only Pascal’s body and “Goodbye” scrawled on the floor in his blood.  Cesare (François Arnaud) was deeply affected by abandonment of Micheletto, for personal and work-related reasons.  He knew he couldn’t trust any of his other generals like he did Micheletto, or expect them to be as efficient at their job. 

Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons) tasked Mattai with buying up all the sulfur in Rome, to prevent any army from manufacturing gunpowder, even Cesare’s.  When he and Caterina (Gina McKee) were both informed there was nothing left to power their guns, they each assumed the other was behind the plot. 

Cesare’s men found out where the sulfur was being kept.  One wished to betray Cesare and go to Caterina with the information instead.  This quickly got back to Cesare, who doused him in sulfur, then lit him on fire. 

Mattai refused to sell the powder to Cesare, and told him it was all Rodrigo’s scheme.  Cesare didn’t understand why his father would thwart him. Mattai offered to broker a peace. 


The peace talk started off very heated.  Rodrigo was threatened by Cesare. The sulfur scheme was revenge for him bringing the French army to Rome.  Eventually, it was revealed Rodrigo hated himself, and saw himself in Cesare and his “pitiless ambition,” therefore he said he could not love his son. 

Cesare pleaded for his father’s trust and love. He said if he was granted command of the Papal forces, he would cut out a Borgia dynasty.  Rodrigo finally forgave and accepted his son.  He granted Cesare the army and absolved him of his sins (i.e., murdering Juan). This conversation had been coming all season.  It was nice to have Rodrigo and Cesare remember they are on the same side.


The Father of Catholicism asking Mattai to ditch his “Hebrew garb” and play the part of Christian in order to purchase sulfur, was also a highlight. Mattai’s expression was priceless. Rodrigo is seriously the worst religious figure ever.  Well, at least the top five, televisionally-speaking. 


In Naples, Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) hosted a festival for Bacchus, the pagan god of wine.  This was a part of a ruse so she could slip a sleeping potion into the drink, and incapacitate the entire kingdom.  She and her family snuck off, while dozens of other people laid passed out on the ground. 

Lucrezia met Cesare and his men on the road to Rome.  The siblings were so overjoyed to see each other, they immediately embraced.  This included public, incestuous kissing in front of everyone. 

Alfonso grew distant. Lucrezia told Cesare she feared he may believe “the rumors.”  She didn’t want her husband confirming anything — since she knew there was actually truth to them now.

Later, Alfonso passive-aggressively confronted Cesare about sleeping with his sister and killing his brother during a friendly sparring match.  It ended with Cesare holding a sword to a disarmed Alfonso’s throat.

What did you guys think of “The Gunpowder Plot?”

Photo credit: Showtime