Thanks to a busy personal schedule, I don’t have much time to put together a truly in-depth review. So I’m just going to focus on some of the highlights.
I’m not sure why, but the pacing and plotting of this episode seemed a lot less plodding than the first few hours. From what I can tell, this was written again by Neil Jordan, so perhaps it is the natural consequence of moving past the introductory phase of the first season into more of the complication.
I also found the family dynamics to be a lot more interesting this time around. Setting Cesare and Lucrezia against their father made for some nice tension. I particularly like how Cesare maneuvered around Rodrigo to get his mother into the reception of Lucrezia’s wedding. Not only does it serve to set the stage for his future attempts at independence (so to speak), but it’s fun to see Rodrigo challenged.
The performance of the actors at the reception was an interesting touch. It goes a long way towards fleshing out (no pun intended) the decadence of the Borgia papacy. It was hilarious to see other cardinals and such tossing food to the bare-breasted performer! While the simony at the heart of the Borgia papacy was well-demonstrated, I thought this was the first time the hedonism side of the equation was well represented.
I liked how this episode also clarified the historical state of play in the “Italy” of the time, reminding the audience that the Italy of today didn’t exist until much more recently. It’s a necessary thing, though, because otherwise the details of Cardinal Rovere’s machinations don’t make much sense. The contention over control of Naples was historically relevant, so it was just a matter of time before they set up the military conflicts to come.
This episode also provided some immediate payoff for Lucrezia’s vow to never be beaten or otherwise abused by her husband. Giovanni Sforza’s tendencies towards violent treatment of women will no doubt shape some of Lucrezia’s future choices, as suspected by some readers in comments on previous reviews. It’s an interesting direction to take, because there have been signs that Lucrezia is unstable psychologically. This is laying the groundwork for her future development into the more recognizable femme fatale.
Final Rating: 8/10