| Rome - Paolo hangs by the neck dead, swinging slowly in the early morning dawn in the middle of the market square. Passersby crowd the body and cut him down. Nearby, Lucrezia is peacefully shopping, and she is joined by her brother Cesare who quickly greets her and animatedly hurries her along to get her home ‘due to the hot sun’ - to shield her from the gruesome sight of her lover’s corpse behind her, now surrounded by a throng of people shouting murder. She runs to Paolo as his body is being dragged away, throws herself on him and bawls uncontrollably in the street. She blames herself, knowing full well he died by the hand of a Borgia assassin. Cesare carries her back to their palace, calls for a physician and tells the nurse to quiet Lucrezia’s screaming hungry baby in her arms. |
Cardinal della Rovere appears in Rome, undetected by the pope, at high mass where the Vatican is collecting alms for the building of St Peter’s. The pope promises plenary indulgences to all who give money. Della Rovere meets with the Dominican Friar as they discuss plans to assassinate the pope. Later in the episode Cardinal della Rovere is heard to say “we have unleashed a wolf upon this world, and if we do not act he will consume us all.” The friar agrees to help persuade Savonarola to act against Pope Alexander.
Meanwhile in the pope’s private dressing room, Cesare walks in to tell him about Lucrezia’s hysteria over the death of Paolo, at which the pope entreats him to do everything to get her back in a safe state of mind and remain strong for the family, and to keep the beloved infant healthy. That evening Rodrigo, Vanozza, Juan, and Cesare dine together, and Rodrigo asks Juan about Paolo before he lunges over the table to maul him. Juan defends his act in the name of protecting the family's honor. Later that night the pope leans over Lucrezia in her sick bed to tell her she “is the light of his life, the light of this family’s life.” Using her Borgia charm Lucrezia manages to persuade her papa to give Paolo a Christian burial – because he indeed did not commit suicide for he couldn’t have left a note, being illiterate. Lucrezia shakes out of her depression and returns to the baby. It seems she knows just how to get what she wants. They bury Paolo the next day.
Naples – galloping horsemen near the city, atop Vesuvius smoke tendrils rise in the distance. Inside the palace, Micheletto arranges with the physician (who is carving up the face of the dead Prince Alfonso) to have him inform him when the King of France will return home. Giovanni and Caterina Sforza meet with King Charles and the French Ambassador to discuss invading Rome on their way to France. The Sforza will pledge help if they gain French cannon in payment for their military help. The king makes a joke about Sforza impotence at the expense of Giovanni, who is angered and curses the Borgia for their lies.
Rome – Juan making love to a mistress surrounded by several portraits of princesses. He points to the princesses one by one asking yes or no in jest. Lucrezia can’t sleep nearby, disturbed by the sound of their antics, so she walks in to chat, interrupting their amorous play. She notes the lovely Maria Enrique de Luna, and Juan asks for her blessing and forgiveness, which she does not give. Before she leaves the room she places a lit candle under the chandelier rope and it catches on fire. She sings a nursery rhyme as Juan and the woman are pinned by the weight of the fallen chandelier. The woman was impaled, but Juan escaped unscathed.
Naples – Charles watches the final touches of the taxidermist working on Prince Alfonso as Judas, places him with his head cocked towards Jesus. He states he will make ready to leave for France and lay waste to Rome as they pass through. The surgeon immediately informs Micheletto, who gets a horse and makes a mad gallop to Rome to tell Cesare of the French king’s advance on this city. Meanwhile back in Rome, Lucrezia and her family sit around the dining table talking about being the unwanted Catalans in a Roman city, always the hated outsiders. They praise their mother Vanozza for keeping them together; they drink to “the family.” The next day Cesare and Lucrezia watch as Juan and his baggage train leave the city amidst a cheering crowd. They are not sad he is leaving for Spain. Micheletto dismounts, ragged from the ride from Naples to tell Cesare the French are on the march.
The pope and cardinals are in the consistory arguing and stressing out about the French army coming to the city. The pope assurs them "we will fight the French with our lives if must be", and the city will not fall. All foundries and smithies are suborned to make cannon and artillery, but Cesare and Vittoria find that they are out of funds and supplies, so they devise a ruse to deceive the French army into thinking they have numerous armed cannon, when in fact they are to be cast in ceramic. They keep this a secret from everyone, and hope it works. Work progresses on the 'cannon', and when a laborer discovers the material is not iron, he announces it and laughs in disbelief. He is stabbed by Micheletto in front of his mates, for his tactlessness. The French army arrives at he city gates, ready to parlay and declare their intentions to sack the city for the pope’s wrongdoing and double playing Charles. Cesare times the removal of flags hiding the fake cannon with his exit back through the city gate, for maximum impact. Charles is stunned at the sight of all the “cannons” and makes the decision not to attack since his troops were still filing in from the countryside and not yet in battle readiness. The ruse worked, and Cesare is hailed a hero of Rome. “It is a most beautiful deception.”
Cesare tells his father what he has done, leaving Rodrigo in a state of awe and disbelief. Cesare’s ascendancy in the eyes of his father has begun. Outside in the square, the Roman people cheer…the cardinals applaud the French retreat as a miracle and the pope thanks God, listening to the church bells pealing loudly in the background, “they are the sound of our salvation.”