This review contains spoilers.
This review is going to devolve very quickly into “Oh my God, Lucrezia and Cesare!” so I’m going to try and hammer out the plot points as quickly as possible before I fall into ridiculous flails over the oldest living siblings of the Unholy Family.
It’s Lucrezia’s wedding. Mazel tov! Well, not exactly, what with it being Catholic but you know what I mean. Everyone’s there. Seriously, everyone. Even Caterina Sforza came out of her castle in Forli for the event and managed to both kneel before Pope Alexander and kiss his ring with more sass than Joan Rivers surrounded by bad outfits. It was kind of glorious. Then there was the wedding and all the unpleasant allies of Caterina came out and Lucrezia actually married Alfonso and it should’ve been sunshine and roses for the two of them. He swore a vow of virginity until marriage but now they are married. Yay! Sexy times may commence, right? Wrong.
Yeah, his cousin who replaced Alfonso as the King of Naples is still not budging on the whole baby Giovanni situation and was less-than polite to Cesare when he came to visit. Not to mention the fact that Naples army is pretty much all sound and fury signifying nothing after the French occupation left. France is visiting for the wedding because the wife of the French king is apparently a “two-sack” woman which, oh my god, is exactly what you think it is: one sack for your head and one for her in case her sack comes off. Mean and shallow and sexist but hilarious because some jokes never get old. It did open the door to the now-unfrocked Cesare possibly marrying someone French.
Right now, his eyes arent on a French girl, they’re on Lucrezia. In fact, his eyes are on Lucrezia all episode long. He goes to Naples for Lucrezia. He loses his cool over Lucrezia. She fills his vision and blocks out everything else to the point of madness and it would be hideous if it were not reciprocated. “I will make you happy,” he promises her and she leans against him there is no doubt that Lucrezia believes in him and his love. Cesare can make her happy and he said he will so he shall. The end.
The he kisses her as they stand studying the seating arrangement and it’s a moment of desperation almost like a gasp. You can see the moment they both go “screw it” writ large on their faces a split second before they grab for each other. Unlike last week, this is absolutely not a question. There is no mistaking what they’re doing for a shared breath or a close sigh. No, they kiss in front of the arrangement for Lucrezia’s wedding (which I find to be the most telling detail of the scene beyond the kiss itself). When they come together the kiss is no one-off. They shift and hold each other like lovers not siblings and anyone who didnt know them to be siblings would never guess that’s what they are, seeing them that way.
Cesare is the one who breaks that kiss, again conflicted and lost like he was last week. Lucrezia I think is settled in wanting him, even if it is going to be costly or she can’t have it. Cesare is the one who can’t cope. Cesare is also the catalyst that sends Alfonso away from Lucrezia on their wedding night. Cesare is unsure of his loyalties and Alfonso storms off like a giant brat to go cry. Seriously? Lucrezia wants to have the hot hot sex with you and you went off to sob into your pillow because her brother isn’t sure about your allegiance. To quote Ron Weasley, he needs to sort out his priorities.
However, this exchange draws into sharp focus how desperately important Cesare is in any relationship Lucrezia will ever have with anyone else. Alfonso may be smart enough to see that. Maybe that’s why he felt so crushed that he left her untouched and ran away. Lucrezia’s reaction was the opposite, she ran towards someone – Cesare, of course, because who else would it ever be?
Then, she touches his bare hip and climbs into his bed taking off her shirt and asking if she’s so hard to love as she strips and he just stares with wide, horrified yet entranced eyes. He can’t look away from her but he’s trying. He really is trying to do the right thing by his beloved sister whom he loves above all things but she takes his hands and uses them to cover her breasts asking “Why deny ourselves the pleasure of which we are already accused.” Poor Cesare, he’s lost right there because he does love her, so much more than he has ever loved anyone even the doomed Lady Ursula. Half asleep, with his hands on her and Lucrezia’s request that he “be my husband, tonight” while sitting naked on top of his lap, the whole scene feels inevitable and ill-fated.
Somehow the scene is lovely all the same. The intimacy never wavers, not for a moment and I believe that was the key. Not once during the rather lengthy love scene did it ever feel rushed or frantic or distant. It was all eye-contact and soft hands and wondering, careful kisses. Perhaps the most interesting and sweet moment was a shot right before cutting to credits of Lucrezia and Cesare’s faces – both looking at each other with eyes open, noses brushing, and wide smiles on their faces. Smiles.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a love scene that carefully constructed to be tender and emotional on TV. I really can’t. That it came from a couple engaged in the most illic of taboos only goes farther to explify the Borgias’ divergence from the ordinary into something extraordinary.
Read Rachael’s review of the previous episode, The Purge, here.
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