Film and TV

Borgias: Paper Tigers, Porcelain Cannons

In the third episode of this season of the Borgias we open on the aftermath of Juan having killed Lucrezia's baby-daddy Paolo and making it look like a suicide. What follows is a sad affair that ultimately has Juan banished to Spain to marry without him ever really admitting his role in Paolo's death even though every single person in the world has figured it out.

We're glad to see Juan go. He is simply put an unbearable peckerwood. His ham-fisted killing of Paolo was pulled off with all the subtlety and grace of two drunken virgins trying to fuck in the back of Honda Fit. He helpfully pins a farewell note to Paolo's corpse, all but ending it with, "P.S. I totally really killed myself you guys." Considering that Paolo couldn't read or write, not at all unusual in a freakin' 15th century stable boy, this move alone should have tripped the mistake-meter in Juan's head.

It gets worse though... Juan addresses the note to Lucrezia. Considering the whole point of killing Paolo was to keep the world from finding out that Lucrezia and Paolo had had a child together, a child that was clearly not that of her ex-husband who had been declared impotent by the Pope, it seems that Juan may actually be mentally handicapped. This is literally the stupidest plan since Thomas Stroup tried to write off drunken assault as lycanthropy.

Let's leave this farce, shall we? King Charles has finally had enough of violating the anus of the Neapolitan Prince Alfonso with various devices. Now he's hell-bent on returning to Rome in order to rape and pillage it since he believes that Pope Alexander granted him the rule of Naples specifically because the city had been struck with an outbreak of plague which the king would hopefully then catch and die. Charles believes that because, you know, it's true, and even though he's very, vey sick he's not anywhere sick enough to keep from trying to claim revenge. He is joined in this by Lucrezia's ex-husband.

Well, Rome isn't going to hold back Charles' famous cannons, and there's no time to put build their own cannon brigade as all the bronze in the city was sold off to pay for a bacchanalia. That's when Cesare come up with an ingenious plan.

Have you ever heard of a dummy tank? The Allies used them in World War II to fool their enemies into believing that they were outnumbered. Sometime they were jeeps with tank-like carapaces built around them. Other times they were -- not making this up -- inflatable. It's seems if the Allies really wanted to make an impression on the battlefield they would've filled the tanks with helium and convinced the Nazis that they'd invented anti-gravity armored units, but maybe such an idea is too awesome for the world.

We still use dummy tanks today. The Unites States has one that perfectly mimics an M-1 Abrams right down to the heat signature in case they are spotted with infrared. They cost $3,000 to make, fit in a duffle bag, and can be erected in minutes. Hell, real tanks often carry them with them making the deception even more amazing.

The point is sometimes war is won by whoever is willing to bet the hardest on a busted flush instead of warrior prowess. Cesare, aided by the artistry of the Pope's new cross-dressing mason mistress, manages to line the walls of Rome with porcelain cannons. The deception convinces Charles to retreat, especially after Cesare mentions that he admired the chained cannonball artillery that Charles had previously used to cut through the Vatican forces in a particularly gruesome manner.

Victory belongs to Cesare, who is finally able to shine in front of the people as a man of war instead of as a reluctant cardinal. Maybe with Juan out of the way we'll be gifted with more of his machinations. More and more, he's become the brilliant centerpiece of the series next to his horny, often bumbling father.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner