I did an entry on Cesare/Lucrezia two years ago after the Showtime series created by Neil Jordan finished its first season. (I also touched on other adaptations of the story of the Borgia family.) At that time the forecast for anything more than subtext was grim – Jordan had indicated in interviews that the show would not go there, leaving the romantic aspects of their deep affection for each other as a sort of unrealized ideal. However, for whatever reason, that all changed for the third (and, as it turned out, final) season when a sexual element, and more than anything a sense of awareness, was introduced to their relationship.
I haven’t paid Cesare and Lucrezia too much attention because they are relatively popular, and there are plenty of resources. However I received a request on my tumblr for some guidance as to which episodes one would want to watch if one was only interested in Cesare/Lucrezia and not the rest of the show, and I decided it would be helpful to create a list of their most significant scenes and links to watch them. The links will take you to my dailymotion channel where I have uploaded just the relevant scenes. Or you can go here to the playlist. You can also download all the clips as zip files from here: season 1, season 2, season 3.
It is difficult to make a recommendation of the top episodes to watch for someone who is interested in doing that rather than just watching the clips. If I had to, my suggestions would be 1.01, 1.04, 1.09, 3.02, 3.03, 3.04, 3.09, 3.10.
Very basic background info for anyone who is totally unfamiliar with the story: Rodrigo Borgia became the scandalous Pope Alexander VI in 1492 in a time of great turmoil within the church and between the various Italian states. With his former mistress Vanozza he has four children: Juan, Cesare, Lucrezia, and Gioffre. He now keeps a new mistress – Giulia Farnese. The family struggles through schemes and wars and murder to keep a hold of their wealth, power, and position, with each member contributing in their own way.
Obviously there are going to be references to characters, places, and events you might not understand if you’re only watching the important Cesare/Lucrezia scenes and not the entire episode, however I don’t believe it will impede your ability to follow or understand their relationship at all. (Just one note: Lucrezia’s husbands do not live in Rome, and Cesare often leaves Rome on political missions, which is why there are so many scenes that involve one of them either leaving or returning.)
1.01 THE POISONED CHALICE
-Scene 1: Lucrezia spies on Cesare having sex and he teases her.
-Scene 2: Cesare tells Lucrezia he wishes she would never marry.
-Scene 3: Cesare is relieved that Lucrezia hasn’t been harmed.1.03 THE MOOR
-Scene 1: Cesare warns Lucrezia that her marriage may not be one of love.
-Scene 2: Cesare advocates for Lucrezia’s happiness with their father.1.04 LUCREZIA’S WEDDING
-Scene 1: Cesare comforts Lucrezia while she grieves for Djem.
-Scene 2: Cesare unhappily officiates Lucrezia’s wedding.
-Scene 3: Cesare and Lucrezia dance.
-Scene 4: Cesare carries Lucrezia to bed.1.06 THE FRENCH KING
-Scene 1: Cesare and Lucrezia greet each other warmly upon her return.
-Scene 2: Cesare tells Lucrezia that she is beautiful.
1.07 DEATH ON A PALE HORSE
-Scene 1: Cesare and Lucrezia discuss her husband.
-Scene 1: Cesare and Lucrezia greet each other.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia tells Cesare that she’s pregnant.
-Scene 3: Cesare sends Lucrezia to stay in a convent until her child is born.
2.01 THE BORGIA BULL
-Scene 1: Cesare and Lucrezia discuss impossible loves.
-Scene 2: Cesare tries to make Lucrezia smile.
-Scene 1: Cesare helps Lucrezia to see Paolo.
2.03 THE BEAUTIFUL DECEPTION
-Scene 1: Cesare takes care of Lucrezia when she finds out that Paolo is dead.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia is impressed when she learns the trick Cesare has played on their enemies.
2.04 STRAY DOGS
-Scene 1: Lucrezia fears that Cesare is unhappy.
2.06 DAY OF ASHES
-Scene 1: Cesare gives Lucrezia a knife stained with her former husband’s blood.
2.10 THE CONFESSION
-Scene 1: Cesare jokes about him and Lucrezia running off together.
-Scene 2: Cesare and Lucrezia dance, Alfonso is jealous.
3.02 THE PURGE
-Scene 1: Cesare agrees to negotiate for Lucrezia to be able to keep her son with her.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia invites Cesare into her room while she is naked.
-Scene 1: Lucrezia helps Cesare get dressed.
-Scene 2: Cesare promises to make Lucrezia happy.
-Scene 3: Cesare and Lucrezia give in to their lust and kiss.
-Scene 4: Lucrezia looks at Cesare while walking with her husband.
-Scene 5: Cesare refuses to dance with Lucrezia
-Scene 6: Lucrezia goes to Cesare’s bed and they have sex.
3.04 THE BANQUET OF CHESTNUTS
-Scene 1: Cesare is ashamed when he and Rodrigo come across Lucrezia.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia rejects her husband’s advances.
-Scene 3: Cesare and Rodrigo agree to allow the consummation of Lucrezia’s marriage to be observed.
-Scene 4: Lucrezia is furious when Cesare tells her she will have to consummate her marriage in front of an audience.
-Scene 5: Cesare observes as Lucezia and her husband have sex.
-Scene 6: Cesare expresses hope that both he and Lucrezia will be able to move on.
(This video was taken down from the streaming site and I am not allowed to re-upload it, but you can download it here.)
-Scene 1: Lucrezia and Cesare discuss their respective marriages.
3.08 TEARS OF BLOOD
(This video was also taken down from the streaming site – it can be downloaded here.)
-Scene 1: Lucrezia wakes a sleeping Cesare.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia has her fortune told.
3.09 THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
-Scene 1: Cesare and Lucrezia greet each other excitedly upon her return.
-Scene 2: Lucrezia pretends it is Alfonso that she loves.
-Scene 3: Lucrezia and Cesare discuss her husband’s suspicions.
3.10 THE PRINCE
-Scene 1: Lucrezia is frustrated by her overwhelming love for Cesare.
-Scene 2: Cesare tells his mother that most of his fears are for Lucrezia.
-Scene 3: Cesare reclaims Lucrezia from her grief over her husband’s death.