We quickly realize that Rodrigo has much more in mind than just the papacy for his own lifetime, even if he himself does not fully realize it. He plans to make Cesare a cardinal in Orsini’s place and begins looking at powerful alliances he can make through the marriage of his children. To bring in more money, Rodrigo allows Jews in to Rome for a fee and agrees to sponsor a Turkish Prince, Cem, for a nice sum.
After being whipped by Cesare, Micheletto goes to della Rovere and asks to be of use to remove the Borgia stain from Rome. Della Rovere, seeing the proof of Micheletto’s whipping (a la lemon juice)* agrees to use the assassin in his plans. And bingo! Cesare has his spy exactly where he wants him! And then its ruined not 10 minutes later when Micheletto botches an assassination attempt on della Rovere and gets himself seen too -- all the way in Naples.
Lucrezia and Cem become very close, likewise Cesare and Cem come to a mutual respect and understanding, prompting the Turkish prince to reject his religion and homeland and wish to become a Christian.^ But, he’ll never get the chance. Juan (the middle brother and consequently the one who can never do anything right) gets a hint that killing Cem would get Rodrigo not just his lodging money, but also hush money. Juan, since Cesare will not allow him to use Micheletto, finds a second-rate assassin and poisons Cem—badly. A slow and painful death ensues. Cesare, furious with Juan’s bumbling, makes him finish the job. Rodrigo gets all the money he wanted, plus some.
This is also the episode with the infamous “gallant dinner knife” dialogue between Cesare and Lucrezia.
*There’s a nasty little rumor too that della Rovere “like the male torso”; this, however, is never expanded upon in later episodes.
^Here’s the thing, Cem is a sweet boy and his brother wants him gone so he won’t contest the throne. Ultimately his conversion would have been open war with the Ottoman Empire (I think that’s the right term during this time period), thus when Juan has the boy killed, it not only helps his Turkish brother by eliminating an heir for his throne, but will also buy the Borgias a great deal more money to have facilitated his death.
Summaries for Episode 1 & 2