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Introduction to Borgias: 1×1 “The Poisoned Chalice” Recap

You’ve probably heard of the Borgia family but if you want to know more about this sinful, loving, twisted household and how their actions changed history you should definitely watch The Borgias. It’s not exactly a documentary but it’s full of beauty, blood and drama and a lot of fun to watch.

Let me introduce the family as the story unfolds.

It all begins in 1492, Rome when “The Pope had the power to crown and un-crown kings, to change the course of empires.”

A short summary of the situation:

Pope Innocent VIII: You will fight like dogs over this corpse I leave for this throne of St. Peter’s. But it was pure once. We have all sullied it with our greed and lechery. Which of you will wash it clean? It shall be cleansed, Your Holiness, with the tears we shed for you.

That’s when we meet the cardinals waiting for the opportunity to become the next Pope.

Rodrigo Borgia:

Della Rovere:

The race begins.

That’s Orsini with the scandalized face.

You can tell they all hate each other already but if they hate anyone more, it’s Rodrigo Borgia.
They gather around the dying Pope creating a beautiful scene.
In the meantime, his son Cesare’s minding his own business as his young sister casually spies on him.

Obviously, Cesare is a cleric in the streets and well…himself in the sheets.
“By night I am who I want to be. By day, I am thus”
Let me make a formal introduction:

Remember the name, ladies (and everyone else, basically.)

He hears his sister so he immediately goes to play catch with her.

Cesare vision:

U know, sibling stuff. (I accidentally wrote sinling instead so that’s totally what I’ll be calling them from now on, sinlings.)

Lucrezia: Can I come to your wedding? 
Cesare: I'll never have a wedding, you know that.
Lucrezia: No. You are betrothed to God. Don't you love God, Cesare? 
Cesare: More than I love you? 

Meet Lucrezia Borgia, the cutest angel that ever lived:

Lucrezia: Well, since you will have no wedding, I will pray for God to choose Papa.
I want to wear a beautiful white veil crowned with pearls for his coronation.
Cesare: God may need some help, then.

Later Cesare and Rodrigo share a heartfelt moment:

Rodrigo: If we fail at the first vote, I will send word On the wings of a dove– names of those cardinals who need persuading. With properties, benefices, and, if need be, gold.

Cesare: They call it simony, Father.

Rodrigo: God will forgive us, my son. But I will not forgive failure from you or your brother. Am I understood?

Poor Cesare. Now he has to make sure his dad becomes the pope.

In the meantime, his brother Juan gets provoked to start a fight.

Cesare saves him because Juan’s his father’s favorite, basically.

Oh, Juan.

They return home.

Back with the cardinals, Rodrigo and Della Rovere have a small quarrel.

Five minutes later:

Della Rovere: If you were a different man I might vote for you. You’ve performed your duties as Vice-Chancellor admirably. The Church has need of your organizational genius. But She has other needs as well.

Rodrigo: And they would be?

Della Rovere: Honesty. Probity. Goodness.

Rodrigo: You find me lacking in those qualities?

Della Rovere: Yes. And so I shall fight you. To the end, and beyond that, if need be, with any means at my disposal.

One thing that is endearing about Rodrigo is that he is easily hurt when he doesn’t receive love but then he’s quick to turn vengeful instead.

Cesare and Juan buy votes.

Rodrigo chooses Sforza as his main man.

And eventually, he gets the most votes.

Rodrigo is now the Pope. He kisses errbody who hates him as a punishment.

Later Cesare and Rodrigo talk about their enemies and how to handle them.

Cesare: You made God my calling. But the sins I’ve committed for you must convince you, surely, that the Church is not my calling. I beg you now to release me of my vows.

Cesare wants to be a soldier and take over the Papal army but his father doesn’t want that.

Rodrigo: Juan can bear arms for the Borgia family, and lead whatever army the pope has, and I will not have my authority questioned further on this.

Cesare sees his brother Juan who can’t wait to show off.

Juan could say literally anything and this would be Cesare’s reaction:

This is only the beginning.

Later Vanozza and Lucrezia see Rodrigo.

He tells Vanozza he has to be chaste now and they can’t see each other anymore.

Later at the ceremony:

Rodrigo is overhwhelmed as the youngsters have a little chat.

Okay that’s not what really happens.

This is the actual situation:


Lucrezia: What must I call myself? Holy Daughter?

Cesare: You are still Lucrezia Borgia, my love. You will only change your name when you marry.

Lucrezia: And when will I marry?

Cesare: Never, if I can help it.

Lucrezia: But surely it is good to marry, Cesare?

Cesare: As the pope’s daughter, you will have every prince of Europe vying for your hand. They may care very little for your heart.

Lucrezia: Perhaps I should do as you have done, brother– take Holy Orders. Give my heart to God.

Cesare: That might be the safer option, my love.

After the coronation, Rodrigo starts to talk in the royal “we” and confuse the heck out of Cesare with his feelings.

Rodrigo: I am no longer “I”. I am “we”. We felt so alone out there. When the crown touched our head. Humbled, even. Even frightened.

Cesare: You surprise me, Father.

Rodrigo: You would surprise yourself if such destiny ever brushed against you. Quite alone with just the silence of God as your witness.

Cesare: But He must already be pleased, Holy Father.

Rodrigo: Why?

Cesare: Because the earth has not yet swallowed us.

Rodrigo: You must help me, Cesare. You must help me interpret the great silence of God.

Cardinal Ascanio Sforza is chosen the Vice-Chancellor.


Sad Orsini is sad.

Della Rovere pretends to approve of this choice.

Later Orsini invites the Pope for a feast and plans to poison him.

The monkeys decides it’s a good time to pee so Cesare leaves the table, saying “Excuse me, excuse my monkey.”

He sees a suspicious dude in the kitchen.


Micheletto: I would gladly work for the pope or the pope’s son, for these cardinals can, as you know, prove fickle, and it seems someone as pitiless as you–

Cesare:– Yes?

Micheletto:- Needs someone as pitiless as me.

This is how they become bffs.

Cesare’s monkey tastes the poisoned wine.

And Orsini drinks it.

Orsini dies and Rodrigo’s upset to learn that he was the original target.

Micheletto tells Cesare the rest of his family are also in danger.

Sneak Peek from the next recap:

They kill errbody and share a moment of bonding.

Cesare checks on his mom and sister.

He asks if Lucrezia’s safe.

Vanozza: You miss her that much?

Cesare: Always. If anything happened to her, I’d I’d die.

Cesare and Micheletto plan to deceive Della Rovere and find out his plans. To do this, Micheletto is revealed to be the culprit and Cesare must whip him to make it look like he was tortured for information.

Yup, let’s stop here for now.

See you in the next recap!

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4 thoughts on “Introduction to Borgias: 1×1 “The Poisoned Chalice” Recap

  1. I loved your recap so so much. I watched the show three years ago… I believe… When I still didn’t have kids and had time to enjoy myself watching series like this LOL. I love my kids don’t get me wrong but sometimes at the end of the day I’m like, “Daisy, where did your time fly to again?”
    Anyway thank you for your post, I think I’ll rewatch the show now, but I will have to convince my husband Rick to stop his marathon of Star Wars and give me the remote for a little change.
    Hugs and kisses from Daisy xoxo

    1. Thank you, so happy you liked it.
      It’s been a few years since the show ended but it’s a lovely series worth a rewatch. I’ll continue to recap the other episodes as much as I can.

  2. This is so funny! I will always show up for Borgias crack recaps, Borgias loving recaps, Borgias in general. This is hilarious 😀

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