| As Cesare delivers the conquered Milan to King Louis XII of France and receives his demand for the head of Ludovico Sforza, Micheletto makes the acquaintance of a Milanese boy that shows him around the city. Leading him to Leonardo da Vinci's studio, the Milanese Pascal and Micheletto engage in what initially seems to be a one-time intercourse and the assassin acquires an arquebus, Leonardo's improved, lethal musket. |
Arriving back in Rome with news of Milan's conquest and Sforza's escape, Cesare's triumphant entrance is cut short when a page informs him that Cardinal Costanzo's palace has been overtaken by the plague. Resolving the matter in the most brutal way possible, Cesare burns down Costanzo's palace with the Cardinal and the household staff within. A furious Pope Alexander VI arrives at the scene only to then admit that nothing better could have been done and lets Cesare in on Ludovico Sforza's request brought to the papal court by Machiavelli: Ludovico is willing to deliver Benito Sforza to the Borgias if they grant him a guarantee of his continued safety. Not knowing that the King of France wants Ludovico dead in order to be secure from his claim on Milan, the Pope orders his son to meet the Sforzas pretending to comply with Ludovico's request and then arrest them both and bring them to Rome in chains.
Meanwhile in Naples, after Lucrezia finds out that her husband, who is in line for the vacant throne, has no interest in pursuing this kind of highest office, the Pope's daughter is planning to use her influence with her father as a bargain to choose the most friendly candidate possible. After meeting with Ferdinand's nephew Prince Raphael and learning that not only does he plan to resume his uncle's policy on the matter of Lucrezia's illegitimate son Giovanni, but also to limit her access to the Neapolitan circles of power, Lucrezia immediately turns to the other candidate, Prince Frederigo: timid, mild and in constant fear of his life, Frederigo is much more congenial and understanding but also unlikely to take on the cruel Raphael on his own. When Frederigo is poisoned and saved at the last minute, Lucrezia searches for the old herbalist she previously met in the forest and learns that Raphael was behind the plot to assassinate his cousin with deadly gallerina mushrooms. With that damning testimony, Lucrezia approaches Raphael and convinces him to withdraw his claim on the throne of Naples, elevating Frederigo to the much desired position.
Before leaving Rome for the North with Cesare once more, Micheletto finds out that Pascal has followed him to the Holy City, desiring much more of his affection than was initially given. The assassin is a bit reluctant at first but afterwards agrees to a covert affair with the Milanese boy, not knowing that he is secretly in the employ of Rufio and Caterina Sforza who have recognized the immense value of Micheletto to the Borgia interests and seek to eliminate him thus. Informed by Machiavelli about Ludovico Sforza's whereabouts, Cesare stages an ambush and before the Sforzas can escape unscathed, Micheletto kills Benito with an arrow and then Cesare blows Ludovico's head to pieces with Leonardo's arquebus.
Back in Rome, Vanozza informs Rodrigo that his estranged mistress Giulia Farnese has found a rich new suitor and is asking for her former lover's blessing to marry him. Ultimately giving it, the Pope and Giulia are finally separated since she goes to live in her new suitor's luxurious villa but that's the least of Rodrigo's problems: Cesare returns to inform him that Ludovico and Benito Sforza are dead, per the French King's demand, and when Rodrigo complains about Cesare's prioritizing Louis' wishes above his own father's, Cesare bluntly tells him that the Pope has no alternative but trust in Cesare.
Micheletto's lover Pascal is revealed to be secretly communicating with the newly-crowned King Frederigo of Naples, who's not only much more malevolent than is readily apparent but also just another cog in Caterina Sforza's sinister conspiracy against the Borgia family.