‘Alternately neglected and abused by her cruel husband, Lucrezia has an affair with Paolo, a handsome stable boy; Cesare strikes a bargain with Machiavelli: deny French troops passage across his masters’ lands in exchange for suppression of Savonarola, a fiery preacher of anti-Medici sermons; in love with baroness Ursula, Cesare takes drastic action to get rid of her husband.‘
Already, the relationship between the Borgias and the Sforzas is starting to strain. Alliances were very fickle in this day and age, and the show is doing a great job of setting up the storm that is coming for these characters. The interplay of the various alliances and counter-alliances is one of the things that makes this show so interesting.
The episode really opened with a bang, with a beautiful but surreal dream sequence . It was a departure from the usual grounded nature of the show, and came as quite a pleasant surprise. After that we’re straight back to poor Lucrezia after her induction into married life. Even though there is very little physical movement in the scenes between Lucrezia and her husband, they are extremely brutal in an emotional sense. The hopeless plight of Lucrezia is highlighted for us by the concerns of everyone around her, and as an audience, we are really cheering for her when she manages to get some small revenge.
This was an episode of quiet moments and intrigue, without the really big moments that have punctuated the series so far. It was a nice chance to develop the characters further, especially Juan who we haven’t seen too much of thus far. It was also nice seeing the enamoured Cesare contrasted with the scheming Duke that Machiavelli honoured so much in The Prince. His journey towards the brilliant General that he will become is progressing nicely, and the confrontation at the end was an important step on that journey. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out over the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, the pacing for this series is still a little off. The main stories really play out well, and have a deep emotional resonance. But the various subplots playing out throughout the episodes seem very rushed, like they were cut for time. It would be nice to have a little better balance between the different stories. This is a story of the politics at the time as much as the story of the Borgia family.
What I Liked – A deeper exploration of the characters. Cesare’s journey.
What I Didn’t Like – The pacing is still a little off.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)