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Relics - Recap

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The episode begins with Black Heart walking through an area that has been massacred by plague. There are rotting corpses all around. He covers his face, while he tears out a piece of cloth from a rotting corpse with his sword and puts it in a bag. In Naples, Micheletto brings to Lucrezia her infant son, while the citizens are mourning King Ferdinand’s death. At the papal court, Rodrigo tells the consistory that there will be a huge celebration, to mark the year 1500, which is next year. He says that he wants the celebrations to be the greatest the church has ever seen.

He entrusts the cardinals with the responsibility of making the celebrations a success. He feels that all the pilgrims, who come to Rome, should be in awe of the celebrations because this would ensue that they donate generously to the church. Before walking out, he tells the cardinals that he will be awaiting their suggestions with anticipation. At Forli, Caterina writes a message on a paper. Black Heart then places the plague-infested-rag in an ornamental box along with the message and seals it. He ensures that he doesn’t touch the rag and that his nose and mouth are covered, while he is carrying out this operation. After the box has been sealed, he burns all his clothes; he then disinfects and bathes himself. At the papal palace, a cardinal meets Rodrigo with a suggestion.

The cardinal suggests that sinners be allowed to pay money to the church in order for their sins to be forgiven. He adds that a money collection chest be kept near each confession box and based on the seriousness of the sin, an appropriate amount be collected from the pilgrim. Rodrigo seems intrigued by the idea and says he will give it due consideration. Elsewhere, Cesare meets Vitelli, a member of a rival family, and asks for his allegiance along with the allegiance of all the other rival families. Vitelli finds the demand preposterous, saying Cesare doesn’t even have control of the papal army, which is until Cesare shows him that he now has a huge army of his own. Cesare also adds that he no longer has a need for the papal army.

At the papal palace, Rodrigo is told that the Jews are keen to trade within the city walls. After looking at the arrears in taxes, as far as the existing city traders are concerned, Rodrigo decides to meet with the Jew. Black Heart entrusts the ornamental box to a messenger, saying it’s a message for the Borgia Pope. While Rodrigo is busy consulting with the Jewish traders and letting them know his demands, he is informed that the French army has landed on the shores near Rome. Rodrigo is worried on hearing this and asks that the general of the papal army be summoned. He then begins to wonder, what Cesare has done to incur the wrath of the French. While Rodrigo is consulting with his general, Cesare arrives and informs him of the alliance he has formed between Rome and France.

Cesare tells a stunned Rodrigo that the French army he has brought along with him is under his command and shall ensure the safety of Rome. Cesare, using his guile, manages to convince Rodrigo to allow him to invade Milan and then Forli, so Caterina Sforza and her dynasty can be destroyed. The Jewish traders consult amongst themselves. They come up with an idea that would convince Rodrigo to allow them to trade within the city walls without high taxation. The traders claim that they hold the “Spear of Longinus”, which was used to kill Christ, while he was mounted on the cross. At Naples, Lucrezia and Cesare have a talk about all that has recently transpired. Lucrezia is worried about the French army that Cesare has brought along with him and tells him to promise that he will never invade Naples.

At the papal palace, the messenger delivers the ornamental box sent by Black Heart on Caterina’s behalf. While a cardinal is on his way to deliver the box to Rodrigo, he runs into Cesare, who asks him about the box. The cardinal says that it’s a message from Caterina, asking for peace between Rome and Forli. Cesare doesn’t trust the intent of the message, so he orders the cardinal to burn the box. The cardinal is reluctant because the message is meant for the Pope and he argues that only the Pope should decide the fate of the box. Cesare is in no mood for arguments and orders the cardinal to follow his orders. The cardinal’s curiosity gets the better of him, so while he is alone in his chambers, he opens the box and reads the message.

While the members of the rival families are consulting amongst themselves, about who they should side with, now that Cesare has an army of his own, Cesare himself arrives with his army. He asks the gathered members to side with him, if they know what’s good for them. At the papal palace, after being told about the spear by the leader of the Jewish traders, Rodrigo readily agrees to allow the Jewish traders entry, in return for the spear being handed over to him. The cardinal, who opened the box sent by Caterina Sforza, brags to another cardinal that he holds the message of peace sent by Caterina, which he can use to his advantage. Elsewhere, the rival families join forces with Cesare and bow down to him in allegiance.

At the papal palace, a cardinal, who was present while Rodrigo was meeting with the Jewish trader, expresses to Cardinal Sforza, his doubts about the authenticity of the relic (the spear). He tells Sforza, how Jews for centuries have been selling dud relics, to Christians. The trader brings the spear to the papal court and while Rodrigo is examining it, the cardinal, who is in doubt, tries to prove that this spear is a fake. The cardinal fails miserably because the trader is too clever for him and manages to convince Rodrigo that the spear is absolutely authentic. Rodrigo reprimands the cardinal for his actions and decides to display the spear during the celebrations. Caterina’s son spies on the huge army that Cesare has gathered to invade Milan. He rushes to inform his mother of this. Cesare has a talk with the members of the rival families, who are now his generals.

He prepares them for the invasion, which is to take place the next day. The next day, Cesare learns that the gates of Milan are open and the city is unguarded. Cesare and his men ride through city and are informed by one of Ludovico Sforza’s men that the king has escaped to the hills with his army. Cesare isn’t pleased about the fact that Ludovico Sforza lives to fight another day. At the papal palace, Rodrigo, who now has doubts about the spear’s authenticity, asks the leader of the Jewish traders, what other gifts he can offer. After returning to his chambers, the cardinal, who opened the box sent by Caterina, learns that his servant has come down with the plague. The cardinal in panic rushes out to inform everyone about it. The episode ends at this point.

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