The Banquet Of Chestnuts - Recap

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The episode begins with a ceremony in which Rodrigo is appointing a new cardinal. The new cardinal is Giulia’s brother and it is her wish that Rodrigo has fulfilled by making this appointment. After the ceremony, Cardinal Sforza briefs the new cardinal about his duties. After arriving at a nunnery, Cardinal Versucci, who was recently ousted by Rodrigo, hands a nun some documents. He then tells the nun that he has to be on his way. At the papal palace, Rodrigo sees Lucrezia approach him and asks how married life is suiting her. She is at a loss for words, but smiles, while Cesare, who she spent the night with, hangs his head in shame.

Rodrigo oblivious to all this is glad to see her smile and assumes she is happy with the marriage. Rodrigo meets a messenger from Venice, who tells him that the Turks are troubling Venice by attacking its trade convoys. Although Rodrigo doesn’t take the matter too seriously, he assures the messenger he will look into it. At King Ferdinand’s chamber, he asks Alfonso how sleeping with Lucrezia felt. Alfonso reluctantly admits that the marriage hasn’t been consummated yet. Ferdinand isn’t too pleased on hearing this. He tells Alfonso that for the sake of both the families this marriage has to be consummated. At the Vatican treasury, Rodrigo arrives to have a talk with Cardinal Farnese, Giulia’s brother. He has been asked to work at the treasury because Rodrigo was told by Giulia that her brother is good with numbers.

Rodrigo gives him specific instructions that after going through the Vatican’s finances, Farnese shall report to only him and no one else. After going through the documents at his disposal, Farnese isn’t able to make any sense of it, when Giulia arrives to check on her brother. He asks her to help him out and she obliges. In their bedroom, Alfonso arrives and asks to make love to Lucrezia. He sees she is reluctant and asks her the reason. She doesn’t give him a straight answer and only says, that maybe their love isn’t meant to be physical but of the soul. Clearly hurt, Alfonso comments that the kind of love she is describing only happens between a brother and sister.

After going through the accounts of the Vatican treasury that Farnese has put together for Rodrigo’s perusal, an outraged Cesare tells Rodrigo that the coffers of the Vatican are nearly empty. Rodrigo tells him to not worry about it, saying he will soon replenish the coffers. He also asks Cesare to seek out Cardinal Versucci and teach him the error of his ways. After Cesare has left, Rodrigo himself goes through the accounts and looks intrigued, when he notices something. Outside, Cesare orders Micheletto to hunt down Versucci. In the night, Giulia is brought to Rodrigo’s chamber by Vatican guards. He confronts her, saying he has recognized her handwriting on Vatican accounts. She says she was merely helping Alessandro, her brother, make sense of things. She adds that just because she helped him, it doesn’t mean he isn’t capable.

The conversation veers to how Rodrigo can’t trust any of the cardinals anymore after what has recently happened. Giulia assures Rodrigo that to put his mind at ease, she will find some way to ensure that the entire consistory is loyal to him. After summoning Rodrigo for a private meeting, Ferdinand tells him that he wishes to discuss a matter of utter delicacy. Ferdinand shocks Rodrigo and Cesare by revealing that Lucrezia and Alfonso’s marriage is unconsummated. He as a result feels that this marriage is nothing more than a sham. Both Cesare and Rodrigo are outraged and livid on hearing Ferdinand’s accusation. This doesn’t stop Ferdinand from telling them that he wants proof of consummation and only then will he believe that this is a real marriage.

After the meeting, Rodrigo and Cesare talk about the condition that has been put forth by Ferdinand. Cesare is disgusted by it, but Rodrigo says they have to comply with Ferdinand’s demand for the good of their family. Seeing no way out, Cesare volunteers to convey the news to her. Next, Lucrezia is told by Cesare that Ferdinand wants to watch her and Alfonso having sex to make sure the marriage has been consummated. She breaks down on hearing this and even slaps Cesare in anger, saying he should have never agreed to this. He argues that he had no other choice because it’s for the good of the family. In the end, she steels her heart and agrees. Before walking out, she demands that on the behalf of her family, Cesare bear witness to the consummation. He breaks down on hearing this.

After calling a meeting of merchant and bankers, Rodrigo tells them that to drive the Turks out of Italy he has found a solution. Scrolls are passed around and everyone present is shocked on reading that the Pope has decided to raise taxes, so a Holy War can be waged against the Turks. At a tavern, Caterina meets Black Heart and talks to him about someone, who is eager to join their cause. In Rodrigo’s chamber, Giulia tells him that the cardinals wouldn’t ever think of treachery if they are compromised and weak. At the tavern, Caterina is telling the very same thing to Black Heart, when Lord Gonzaga, the man they were talking about, arrives. In his chamber, Rodrigo is told by Giulia that they should exploit the weakness of each cardinal and chronicle them for posterity.

The chronicles can then be used to ensure the loyalty of the consistory. Rodrigo loves the idea. In Lucrezia’s bedroom, Vanozza readies her for the consummation. Later, Lucrezia and Alfonso undress and climb into bed, while Cesare and Ferdinand bear audience from behind a transparent veil. While making love, Lucrezia keeping looking in Cesare’s direction till she has an orgasm. Each passing moment in that room, seems to be more painful for Cesare than the next. Eventually when it’s over, Ferdinand tells Cesare that he is now satisfied and asks him to convey this to Rodrigo. At a rectory where Versucci is now residing, Micheletto comes looking for him. A priest conveys the message to Versucci that a man is looking for him.

Versucci tells the priest to convey to Micheletto that he will meet him at the old Roman baths at dusk. At the papal palace, Cesare urges Lucrezia to put whatever happened between them behind, so she can live happily with her husband. He leaves for France to annul the French king’s marriage and to find himself a bride. In his chamber, Rodrigo is informed by Cardinal Sforza that Gonzaga has arrived in Rome to meet him (Rodrigo). A curious Rodrigo asks Sforza if Gonzaga has brought along his wife. Sforza gestures that he has. Giulia meets her brother and specifically instructs him to not come for the dinner she is hosting for the cardinals in the night.

At the Roman baths, Micheletto arrives and sees Versucci in one of the bathtubs. Before Micheletto can get any information out of him, Versucci slashes his wrist with a knife, killing himself. At a dinner being hosted by Giulia for all the cardinals, she gets the cardinals to bid on prostitutes, all of whom she has also invited to dinner. A Vatican chronicler, while hiding behind a wall, pens down every little detail of all that is transpiring. In Rodrigo’s bedroom, Gonzaga’s wife enters with only a robe covering her naked body, which is enough to arouse Rodrigo.

Outside, Black Heart and Gonzaga, who have plotted this whole thing, have a talk. Gonzaga asks Black Heart to consider his wife’s infidelity his contribution to Caterina’s cause. At the cardinal dinner, which has now turned into an orgy, the cardinals are busy having fun, completely oblivious to the fact that their every little move is being chronicled. The next day at the papal court, the chronicler reads out to Rodrigo everything he has penned down. The cardinals all hang their heads in shame, while Rodrigo decides to keep the chronicle with him for posterity.

Gonzaga arrives at the papal court with a bunch of his men and tells Rodrigo that he wants an annulment. Rodrigo reminds him that an annulment can only be granted in the gravest of circumstances. After assuring Rodrigo that the circumstances are indeed grave, Gonzaga accuses his wife of infidelity. He then shocks everyone by accusing Rodrigo of sleeping around with his wife. An enraged Rodrigo refutes his claims and instead asks Gonzaga where his wife is. Gonzaga says he doesn’t know and taunts Rodrigo, saying he is sure Rodrigo does. Before walking out, Gonzaga asks Rodrigo to convey to his wife that he wants the annulment. After he leaves, Rodrigo sits in stunned silence, while the cardinals all whisper amongst themselves. The episode ends at this point.