The Borgias season 3 episode 5: The Wolf and the Lamb

Machiavelli and Micheletto make this episode everything Rachael didn't know she wanted, and more...

This review contains spoilers.

3.5 The Wolf and the Lamb

So, apparently there’s trouble in Rome? Alexander’s latest girlfriend, the one who is distracting him from Guilia Farnezi, is freaking him out with her symptoms of what is quite possibly the worst cases of post-partum psychosis I’ve ever seen depicted on TV. Honestly, the poor thing makes Charlotte/Anne of American Horror Story: Asylum seem positively reasonable, but other than that, I wasn’t really paying that  close attention to the goings on inside the Holy City because the action this season is with the Borgia siblings, even when it’s not the sexy kind of action.

Cesare is off west to France and guess who’s there? Machiavelli. Oh, I missed you, boo. Never leave me again, okay? Stay forever. Stay and sass Cesare about what colour his shirt should be, all the conquest ambitions of the French king, and also which shoes go with that belt. The Borgias use his lone scene as a chance to play him with wonderful fun as a mix of Tim Gunn and Sun Tzu. Confession: I want him to be my spirit guide.

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Cesare utilizes his sage advice and it gives his snarky, sexy French escapade a very high success rate. Cesare gets an army and a hot wife with a good sense of humor and a realistic out look on life. His new wife has a rich husband who doesn’t abuse her, treats her like a human being, and doesn’t try to B.S. her too much. The king of France gets an annulment with a bonus gift of Milan. The French archbishop is going to be a cardinal and everybody goes home happy – except for the Queen who has been screwed, well, royally.

Lucrezia and husband Alfonso are off to Naples without her son Giovanni which is driving her crazy. You know who’s with her? Micheletto; he has been charged with her protection. Words escaped me for the longest time to describe this. Suddenly the show was giving me Lucrezia and Micheletto, interacting and talking and bonding. It takes all of one scene for the two of them to become something more than allies on their way to new place. They are, after all, bound together by their shared love of Cesare and Cesare’s love for both of them. The combination which begins on the trip to Naples is the start of a new connection that is exclusive between Lucrezia and Micheletto – something private and delicate but with the same undercurrent of brutality that seems to tie Micheletto to any Borgia he allows himself to connect to. And that was just their first scene together this episode! Are you kidding me? Hello, secret wish I didn’t even know I’d made. I never thought I’d see you fulfilled.

I barely made it through the hour alive, I really didn’t, because they kept finding their way back to each other over the course of the episode, even as Lucrezia manifested further into the legend the rumours of history have turned her into. Poison has been swirling around the characters of this show since the pilot but now, Lucrezia stumbles over poison of her own for the first time. With the king of Naples dragging her out like a prize pig at a county fair but not letting her have her baby, she’s tempted to use it.

She seethes and Micheletto is there for her, at her shoulder as he always is for Cesare, answering honestly even when he surprises. She asks him if he has children and since he doesn’t, what he would do if he did. The response -from the cold hearted man who in the first season claimed to have alliegence to no one and feelings for nothing, who has murdered men, women and children alike without prejudice – is that if he had a child, he “would bind them to me with hoops of steel. I would love them to death and beyond. I would make all tremble who would come between us.”  Through Cesare, he has found a sight – a mother and child separated – that actually makes him feel something, through his sociopathic shell, for someone else. 

So when she goes into the woods to find her poison, it is absolutely no surprise that it is Micheletto that stays her hand. Again, he does it with honesty rather than pretty lies, warning her that the poison she picked would kill basically everyone in the palace. Instead he asks her to trust him, to wait, promising that what she wants – the death of the man who separates her from her son – will come. He follows through in a most creative way: by pushing King Icky into a pool full of starving flesh-eating lamprey eels that King Firante (remember him? He’s the old guy from season 1 who had his enemies taxadermied) had made for his worst enemies.  Needless to say, nobody’s getting between Lucrezia and her baby now.

I’m not saying that I would watch a show just about Micheletto and Lucrezia being bros, scheming and murdering people, okay? But I would totally watch a show about Micheletto and Lucrezia being bros, scheming and murdering people. Cesare and his lovely new wife can come too just as soon as he gets back from France with that army. With this show who knows how things might end up?

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Read Rachael’s review of the previous episode, The Banquet of Chestnuts, here.

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