Hey I was wondering if you could analyze lucrezia and cesare relationship in the Borgia ??? Thank you!!
Ah, Cesare and Lucrezia. This will be so long.
I need to preface the analysis by saying I usually hate the inclusion of incest in anything that isn’t a Toni Morrison novel but The Borgias handled Lucrezia and Cesare’s situation with so much nuance and Holliday and Francois have outstanding chemistry that I got sucked in to that ship.
The progression of Cesare and Lucrezia is actually quite interesting because the underlying tension between the two of them is there from the pilot. The first time we’re introduced to their relationship, Lucrezia is spying on Cesare having sex:
and then he chases her around the courtyard but there is a balance between playful innocence:
and very potent sexual tension:
They spoke like lovers:
their gazes were always charged with this tension that clearly made the other feel something but I think that something remained unrealized between them:
and yet Cesare’s protectiveness of Lucrezia was very much a protection of her innocence:
He disagrees with the marriage to Giovanni Sforza and wordlessly warns him against consummating their marriage during the wedding ceremony because he doesn’t want Lucrezia to grow up too quickly, it’s a very brotherly concern.
Even when Juan has to kill Djem who Lucrezia was infatuated with
and Lucrezia is devastated, Cesare is devastated for her, there is no sense of jealousy, there is no sense of possessiveness, he’s just hurting because his sister who he loves dearly is hurting.
At the same time, as one of the aforementioned gifs suggest, there was always a sense of who would be a priority in their hearts, there was always this knowledge that no man or woman would ever be able to inspire in them such strong feelings even though at the time, Cesare had this dark infatuation with Ursula.
When I think things begin to turn for Cesare and Lucrezia is after Lucrezia has been repeatedly abused by Giovanni. Cesare is devastated by the loss of Lucrezia’s innocence (and previously stated he would cut out the heart of the man who dared hurt her)
But I think her loss of innocence:
(compared to pre-Sforza)
is what sort of catalyzes Cesare into starting to view Lucrezia as a woman to avenge and not a little sister to protect.
While with Cesare, well Lucrezia found a safe space with Paolo and she loved him dearly and she knew he loved her, but I don’t think she felt, like, wholly safe (which she says in season 3) or completely herself unless with Cesare no matter how much she loved Paolo. You see her relax with Cesare in a way she couldn’t even do with him:
Her entire body exhales. I think after the ordeal with Giovanni, she truly began recognizing that. So the end of season 1 is the beginning of realization for the both of them.
In season 2, Lucrezia has been hardened first by the rape and abuse she had to endure during her marriage to Giovanni and then by Paolo’s death at the hands of Juan.
In season 1 Cesare was concerned with preserving Lucrezia’s innocence but this season Cesare wanted to make Lucrezia happy and he wants to do so himself:
And the above moment between them is also a turning point for their relationship because Lucrezia asks Cesare if he can make her happy as they talk about Paolo, “Could he make you smile?” “Can you?” and he delivers her a moment of levity:
Which re-establishes this theme of Cesare and Lucrezia knowing each other’s hearts better than anyone, thy actually don’t spend much time together in season 2 but when they do, they’re knowing each other and seeing each other:
which is a mixture of ferocious vengeance, like when Cesare makes good on his promise to kill the man who harms her:
and then gives her the knife he killed him with:
as well as a mixture of peace and lightness and comfort, no longer playful innocence, but a breath of fresh air:
and the realization between them grows:
that by the end of the season, they joke about marrying one another
while Lucrezia’s betrothed, who she does care for, notices the tension when they dance:
And then season 3 happens and their relationship gets even more complex while at the same time simpler because the realization is, well, fully-realized, which I think is because of Alfonso. The way Lucrezia cares for Alfonso is almost piteous, like she finds him endearing, she finds him innocent, she finds him to be something to protect and cherish platonically while Cesare disdains Alfonso because he finds his love for Lucrezia weak, he isn’t fierce enough for her, he isn’t severe in his affection, which in a way creates a situation where Lucrezia has to ask this question again:
to which Cesare responds:
so they both know that only they can provide for each other what they need, they’ve experienced that repeatedly by this point:
and because they both aren’t running from that realization anymore, they’re getting bolder:
but of course there’s shame:
which only intensifies the knowledge that they both want something that they shouldn’t want and then they finally give in once Lucrezia discovers once again on her wedding night that she can’t get from Alfonso or from anyone else what she can get from Cesare:
But what I actually enjoy about The Borgias is that the torment between Cesare and Lucrezia doesn’t stop after they finally give in and have sex, it’s not like things get easier, in fact things get so much more difficult because there is such a profound embarrassment and shame that they both feel after what happened:
Lucrezia describes it as a cloud descended upon her and she can’t consummate with her actual husband after what happened:
But those feelings don’t disappear, they eat away at the both of them to the point that Lucrezia breaks down when Cesare tells her that Alfonso’s uncle wants to see them actually consummate their marriage and starts hitting him, saying she loves him:
they’re both tormented by this in a way that’s not just about familial protection, Lucrezia doesn’t want to sleep with her husband especially not in front of his uncle and Cesare doesn’t want her to and that’s why Lucrezia gets her revenge by saying that Cesare has to watch
And when he actually watches her and Alfonso consummate, that is one of the scenes that was hardest for me to watch because it was so layered and so uncomfortable in how layered it was because Cesare is experiencing both pleasure and self-disgust at the same time. Lucrezia and him stare at each other as she has sex with Alfonso, its in fact the only way Lucrezia can even experience pleasure and Cesare is clearly turned on but hes crying at the same time
which leads to more embarrassment and more shame and more running away
but the fact that they’re abstaining from something just further intensifies the attraction/chemistry/love that they make a point of not fully giving in to:
and then that spawns a resentment but also an acceptance that they cant run from but that they can’t do anything with:
Until, once again, Alfonso.
While Alfonso never actually sees them do anything, the tension between them literally drives him to drink and he’s maddened by it,
which essentially causes him to fall on Cesare’s sword. And it isn’t until a further step in Lucrezia’s loss of innocence in which she reveals to Cesare that she knows how to kill Alfonso to end his pain that Cesare stops running from her and embraces the depravity of their bond and Lucrezia accepts that embrace literally with Alfonso’s dead body next to them:
All in all, I find them a very fascinating dynamic. Hope this did what you wanted!