I’m going to keep today’s review short and sweet, given that I’m exhausted and feeling somewhat worn down. Episode 2 of Borgia’s second season is named “Ash Wednesday” and based around the symbolism of Ash Wednesday. For those not entirely sure of what Ash Wednesday actually is, it is the first day of Lent and the name itself comes from the practise of placing an ash cross shape upon the forehead of the worshipper in a gesture of moaning and repentance to God. This is shown very clearly at the beginning of the show when Cesare is taking mass. He places ash crosses upon the congregation’s forehead, except on Carlotta. He places an ash ‘C’ upon her forehead, and states it means “Christ”. Come on Cesare, we all know you are marking her as your own.
We see Cesare continue his mission to get Carlotta. Of course it fails and Cesare angrily stomps off to see the wounded Guy de Leval in his bedchambers. Cesare offers him wine, which Guy refuses to drink thinking that the wine is poisoned. Of course Cesare loses his temper and tells Guy that he isn’t worthy to drink his wine, and nor is he worthy of Carlotta. We also see yet more of Cesare’s instability. When Sancia is told to seduce Cesare so he will marry her and be able to take the crown of Naples she goes to his rooms. Cesare then attacks her with a fire poker, branding her forehead with the sign of the cross. This scene is particularly shocking as you see the range of emotions in Cesare’s eyes only for them to disappear and be replaced with a cold indifference.
We have another character introduced in this episode: Isabella Metuzzi. She arrives as Lucrezia is approaching the time for her child to be born. Isabella is brought in to try and convince Lucrezia that the best option would be for her to give her child over to Giulia Farnese. The reasoning behind this is so that Lucrezia isn’t tainted with having a bastard child, and so she can move on and get married. Isabella is actually Lucrezia’s half sister who has been shunned by Rodrigo for years – she says it is because Rodrigo disliked how she was unable to bare her husband children, that she was barren. We find out that this is a lie and that she has a son, but the only reason she told Lucrezia she was barren was to win the argument. Lucrezia is convinced, and as she gives birth to her child – a boy named Giovanni (the famous Infans Romanus who will get his very own post at some point) he is taken away from her straight away, leaving her completely hysterical.
This episode also deals with the attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church towards sodomy. We see a man publicly executed for the crime of sodomy, the Pope saying that as God punished the townspeople of Sodom for their crimes, so should they as sodomy is “the most grievous of sins”. The man in question is then executed with something known in the show as “The Pope’s Pear”. This was an actual method of torture and execution used during the Renaissance and even before, and known as the Pear of Anguish…