‘Lucrezia is deeply disappointed to discover her real mother has been banned from her wedding to Giovanni Sforza, whom she’s never met. Meanwhile, Della Rovere goes to Florence to broker a deal with the powerful Medici family and meets with their adviser Machiavelli. At the wedding reception, the bride’s brothers Juan and Cesare create serious breaches of etiquette, with the latter causing a scene by dancing and flirting with an influential baron’s wife.‘
This episode follows on nicely from the tragic and violent climax to ‘The Moor‘ with Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) sick and grieving over the death of her friend. And it doesn’t get much better from there for poor Lucrezia. This episode once again hammers home exactly how little power women had in those days; they were just cattle to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. This treatment is very much in evidence in this episode with the Borgia women being ordered around and married off to suit the political whims of the Pope.
Yet at the same time Jeremy Irons does a fantastic job of showing how completely confused Rodrigo Borgia is by the women in his life. His bumbling excuses when telling the mother of his children (Vanozza played by Joanne Whalley) that she can’t attend her daughter’s wedding is completely at odds with the scheming ruler that we see when he is when dealing with cardinals and kings. And the far too innocent to be true Giulia Farnese (played wonderfully as always by Lotte Verbeek) has Rodrigo wrapped around her little finger, working towards her own goals.
I really love how this series is now allowing the tension to build up slowly, and doesn’t feel the need to shove a sex scene in every few minutes to break up the tension like The Tudors or Spartacus. While that does work to some extent on those shows the characters and the stakes that they are playing for here are more than enough to make me gasp just from somebody walking into the room. The scene at the wedding after-party was a perfect example of how to make an audience squirm while saying very little, the unspoken consequences are everything.
Unfortunately, the amount of stuff going on in each episode sometimes leaves the subplots feeling a little sparse. In this episode Cesare (François Arnaud) has sent a spy to observe what Cardinal Della Rovere (Colm Feore) is up to in Florence after the botched assassination attempt, but we only catch a glimpse of what’s going on before things are brought to an abrupt end. While we did catch a brief glimpse of characters like Savonarola and Machiavelli, this whole subplot felt a little out-of-place in the episode, especially compared to the wonderful tension and drama of the main story.
Overall, I loved this episode and I’m really looking forward to seeing the events that I know are coming play out, particularly the inevitable confrontation between Cesare and Giovanni Sforza over Lucrezia.
What I Liked – The tension in the wedding scenes.
What I Didn’t Like – The subplot involving Cesare’s spy following around Cardinal Della Rovere. Not enough of David Bamber.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)