The Beautiful Deception

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Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

"The Beautiful Deception"
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

Episode Title: The Beautiful Deception
The Borgias Episode #: 2.03
The Borgias Season: 2
Original Air Date: April 22, 2012
Writer: Neil Jordan
Director(s): Jon Amiel
Guest Star(s): --

Alexander VI refuses to allow a Catholic burial for Paolo, despite his doubts about the stable boy's suicide, causing Lucrezia to embark on a hunger strike that threatens the life of her infant son; the French army heads back to Rome, allied with Sforza; Della Rovere slips back into the city unnoticed to launch a plot against the Pope's life.

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The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Pope Alexander IV/Rodrigo Borgia
Played by: Jeremy Irons
Plot connections: Initially refuses a Catholic burial for Paolo but concedes after Lucrezia refuses to feed her child
Cesare Borgia as played by Francois Arnaud
Name: Cesare Borgia
Played by: Francois Arnaud
Plot connections: Tries to console Lucrezia after Paolo's death; saves Rome from invasion with his 'cannons'
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Lucrezia Borgia
Played by: Holliday Grainger
Plot connections: Refuses to feed her child after Paolo is refused a Catholic burial; tries to take steps to avenge his death
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Caterina Sforza
Played by: Gina McKee
Plot connections: Sides with the French King to invade Rome
Juan Borgia as played by David Oakes
Name: Juan Borgia
Played by: David Oakes
Plot connections: Refuses to confess his role in Paolo's death; narrowly escapes an assassination attempt; is shipped to Spain fulfill a marriage alliance
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Micheletto
Played by: Sean Harris
Plot connections: Informs Cesare of King Charles' efforts to invade Rome and assists in holding them off
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Vanozza dei Cattenei
Played by: Joanne Whaley
Plot connections: Watches as her children continue to bicker and seethe amongst themselves
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Giulia Farnese
Played by: Lotte Verbeek
Plot connections: remains by the pope's side while the Borgias await the French advance on Rome
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Giovanni Sforza
Played by: Ronan Vibert
Plot connections: Collaborates with King Charles to invade Rome
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: King Charles VIII
Played by: Michel Muller
Plot connections: Still recovering from his illness, he joins with the Sforza to invade Rome on his way back to France
Jemima West as Vittoria
Name: Vittorio/Vittoria
Played by: Jemima West
Plot connections: Put in charge of forging the cannons needed to protect Rome
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Cardinal della Rovere
Played by: Colm Feore
Plot connections: Arrives in Rome to forge alliances in his efforts to remove Pope Alexander from the Papacy
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Played by: Peter Sullivan
Plot connections: Continues to doubt the Pope's ability to protect Rome
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Name: Dominican Friar
Played by: Roger Lloyd-Pack
Plot connections: Promises to give his order's blessing to remove the pope, as long as Savonarola give his

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When her father tells heart-broken Lucrezia that Paolo’s suicide cannot be given a Christian funeral and will go to Hell, she refuses to feed either herself or her baby. Worried for his grandson, Alexander relents, but he also suspects what she has already realized: Juan murdered him. Soon however, the family faces a greater threat. The French army is marching from Naples, King Charles is eager for vengeance for having been tricked by Alexander, and what’s worse, his forces are backed by those of Giovanni Sforza, Lucrezia’s humiliated ex-husband, and his powerful cousin Catherina. The French lay siege to Rome once more and this time it seems the city must fall to Charles’ superior artillery. But Cesare concocts an elegant plan and works with Vittoria to outwit the French once again. Meanwhile, Della Rovere has arrived in Rome unnoticed, seeking conspirators for his new plot to assassinate the Pope.
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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.”

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  • "Tell us what we can do to make things right?" (Rodrigo to Lucrezia), "Ask Juan" (Lucrezia to their father)
  • "We have unleashed a wolf upon this world, and if we do not act he will consume us all." (Cardinal della Rovere to Dominican Friar)
  • "You are the light of my life, the light of this family's life" (the pope to Lucrezia in her sick bed)
  • "You must cry for me, for I have no more tears." (Lucrezia to her baby at Paolo's burial)
  • "The Italian appetite for vengeance is boundless." (King Charles to Giovanni and Caterina Sforza)
  • "We will fight fire with fire" (Pope Alexander to the Cardinals, in reply to hearing the news that the French are on the march)
  • "Is nothing in this damn city what it seems?" (Cesare to Vittoria when he learns she is a woman)
  • "Are you not well your highness?" (Cesare to King Charles at the gates of Rome)
  • "I need your blessing..." (Juan to Lucrezia) "You would have to have my forgiveness first." (Lucrezia) "Forgiveness for what?" (Juan) "For being yourself." (Lucrezia)
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Who died?
How did they die?
Juan's mistress (assumed) impaled by the chandelier that fell atop her and Juan
laborer, hauling cannon stabbed by Micheletto

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  • Lucrezia's attempt to kill Juan by burning through the chandelier rope over his bead
  • Rodrigo's lunging at Juan over the supper table when he hears he has murdered Lucrezia's lover
  • The irony: a completed museum display of mummified enemies containing Prince Alfonso as Judas at the last supper
  • Caterina Sforza being the badass that she is (though she was not involved in the French invasion by strategy or tactic)
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  • Juan should have known Paolo couldn't read or write, therefore it couldn't have been suicide
  • Did Juan's mistress die or just get a bad stab wound?

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  • St Peter's was not yet planned, as this was a project begun by Julius II in 1506, but funds were always received by almsgivers in return for plenary indulgence nonetheless
  • Lucrezia was in the convent of San Sisto when Perotto "fell into the Tiber not of his own accord" (Burchard's Diary)
  • Caterina Sforza never accompanied the French invasion to or from Naples. She was not directly involved in any fighting.
  • The reason Charles VIII decided to leave Naples was that the people started to turn against him, his Milanese and Florentine allies turned away, and Venice joined a pact (League of Venice, 1495) that included the Papacy led by Ludovico Sforza to drive him out of Italy forever. The French army escaped anihilation at the Battle of Fornovo which ended in a draw as the French left Italy without most of their booty and many of their light cannon.
  • "Donna Gabriella" in the checkered gown is actually a portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga, duchess of Urbino (wife of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro), "La Muta" is a 1507 portrait by Raphael of a Florentine noblewoman who could not speak or hear, "The Infanta Juana of Castille" as a young girl was called Juana by Juan, and there is a late 16th century Florentine portrait of Unknown Lady assembled with the other portraits in Juan's bedchamber.
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Called "Donna Gabriella"

Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino (Raphael c. 1505)

Famous for ebing Castiglione's leading female character in "The Book of the Courtier"
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Not named in the episode

Portrait of a Lady "La Muta" (Raphael, c. 1507)

Florentine noblewoman who was unable to speak or hear

The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
Not named in episode

Portrait of a Lady (Unknown artists, c. 1555-65) Florentine School, possible workshop of Bronzino or Alessandro Allori
The Beautiful Deception - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
called Juana

Portrait of Juana of Castile (Juan de Flandes c. 1500)

Sister of Catherine of Aragon, married Philip, Duke of Burgundy and Archduke of Austria

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How did this episode differ from actual events? Compare the facts with the fiction below!
  • Lucrezia tried to kill her brother Juan
  • Caterina and Giovanni Sforza allied with king Charles to raze Rome on his way to France
  • Cardinal della Rovere sneaking back into Rome
  • Juan decides which princess to marry based on the portraits and her connections as the cousin of Queen Isabella of Spain (she was related to King Ferdinand of Aragon)
  • Juan reflects on how they were brought to Rome as children and were considered outsiders
  • They didn't even live in the same palace in Rome
  • Their alliance had been broken right after the invasion of Naples
  • He remained at Ostia in exile for most of the next several years
  • Maria Enriquez de Luna was promised to Rodrigo's eldest son by another lady, Don Pedro Luis (who died years before) so Juan was ordered to marry her instead
  • They were all born in Rome, but yes they were semi-outsiders due to Rodrigo's Catalan-ness

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