The Confession is the tenth and final episode of season two, and the nineteenth episode of the series. It was written by Guy Bert and directed by David Leland.
In the Season 2 finale, tragic news for the Borgia family is followed by a shocking revelation from Cesare; Lucrezia surprises herself by falling for a new suitor, Alfonso of Aragon, and accepts his proposal of marriage; Cesare tortures the rebel leader Savonarola but can't extract a confession, so he fakes one and burns the heretic; the assassin finally strikes with a poisoned chalice of wine.
The episode begins with Girolamo Savonarola being tortured, while Rodrigo demands of Cesare either a confession from the friar or his brother Juan. At Castel Sant'Angelo, Micheletto is trying to get a confession of heresy, but Savonarola says he will only confess to Cesare. That afternoon, Niccolo Machiavelli is a guest of Cesare’s and they discuss the difficulty of extracting a confession from the rebel. Cesare knows that a confession is needed to recant all that was preached but Savonarola has proven stronger than he thought over the lengthy torture. Machiavelli states what he thinks to be obvious: if Rome needs that confession, then give it to them. In the dungeons, Cesare, tired of Savonarola's obstinacy, signs the confession in his name; Micheletto then pries out the friar’s tongue, so he can reveal to no one about Cesare's deceit.
In the hallway of the papal suites Lucrezia encounters her latest suitor, Alfonso of Aragona. Alfonso does not recognize her so she grasps the opportunity to have a little fun with him, pretending to be her own intermediary. They both flirt with each other until Alfonso tells her to lie to Lucrezia that he is inept and to come with him. He doesn’t care about prestige, he is looking for love, and this wins over Lucrezia, who kisses him. Rodrigo meanwhile tells Lucrezia to not dismiss Alfonso without meeting him. Later, Alfonso is shocked when he sees Lucrezia's name being announced and sees her walk into Rodrigo's court. Lucrezia then in front of the whole court and much to Rodrigo's surprise immediately agrees to marry Alfonso.Rodrigo is informed that a body has been found. He proceeds to identify it, but it's not Juan's. Cardinal Ascanio Sforza tells Rodrigo that he has ordered the searching of mortuaries, as he doesn’t want to rule out any possibilities. Giulia Farnese and Rodrigo pay mortuaries a visit in the dark of the night. While scanning through bodies, Rodrigo stumbles upon Juan's body. He is visibly moved and instructs the body be taken home. Later, a pleased Cesare enters Rodrigo's chamber in order to hand him the friar's confession but he's shocked to see Juan's body lying there. In an explosive scene, Cesare and Lucrezia tell Rodrigo that they will not mourn his death, because Juan had no respect for anyone, including his family. Rodrigo tells the both of them to leave his sight. He refuses to have a funeral until Juan's killer is found. The friar Savonarola is meanwhile tied to a stake to be burnt, with all the townspeople jeering him. Rodrigo, wearing his ceremonial robes, walks up to Savonarola and tells him that if he repents, he might forgive his sins. The friar in return spits in the Pope's face. Rodrigo then walks back and instructs that Savonarola be burnt.
In Lucrezia's bedroom Lucrezia asks if Cesare will marry her and he plays on the words to tease her. He says as she wishes, they shall have to run away together. Eventually, he states that he cannot, because his hands have seen too much of blood and sin. Later, Cesare looks for his father and finds him still in the mourning chamber. He confesses to Rodrigo that it was he who killed Juan, for the honor of the family. He then asks Rodrigo to relieve him of his robes of a cardinal and to grant him his forgiveness. Cesare hangs up his robe of a cardinal, and hands his ring over to Rodrigo. The day after, Cesare seeks out Vanozza and Lucrezia to tell them that Juan's funeral has been arranged. Vanozza reminds Cesare that his father will not have it but Cesare insists.
In the ballroom, surrounded by well-wishers, Cesare brings Lucrezia and Alfonso's hands together to signify their betrothal and the festivities begin. The Pope sits in the darkened mourning chamber while below the ballroom is filled with dancing and music. He lifts Juan's body into his arms and the corpse of the grown man is changed to the body of a child, then he lays him on the grass in the Vatican gardens and begins to dig the soil. Inside the Palace, Lucrezia and Cesare dance together closely; Vanozza and Alfonso watch them suspiciously. Eventually, Vanozza asks Cesare what exactly he is celebrating, Cesare tells her that the happiness of his sister's marriage far outweighs the grief of his brother's death, but she remarks that they are all dancing on his brother's grave.
Rodrigo arrives at the ceremony with soiled clothes and tells Cesare that he wants to speak with him. The Pope's taster, Cardinal Della Rovere's assassin, pours some wine for Rodrigo. Rodrigo tells Cesare that what Cesare did is also Rodrigo's fault, as he brought Cesare to this. Cesare asks Rodrigo his forgiveness, and just as Rodrigo is about to reply, he begins to choke like his taster, who suddenly falls to the ground. Cesare yells for help, while Rodrigo collapses to the ground. Lucrezia, Giulia, Vanozza, Alfonso and some cardinals rush into the room, and they are all shocked at the sight, leaving the season with a cliff-hanger.
Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud as Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia
Joanne Whalley as Vanozza Cattaneo
Lotte Verbeek as Giulia Farnese
David Oakes as Juan Borgia
Sean Harris as Micheletto Corella
Steven Berkoff as Girolamo Savonarola
Julian Bleach as Niccolo Machiavelli
Peter Sullivan as Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Colm Feore as Giuliano Della Rovere
Vernon Dobtcheff as Cardinal Julius Versucci
Bosco Hogan as Cardinal Alessandro Piccolomini
Jesse Bostick as Antonello
Sebastian De Souza as Alfonso of Aragon
Edward de Souza as Doctor
Steven Hartley as Captain of the Guard
Antal Konrád as Il Cerimoniere
Billy Boyle as The Embalmer
Raffaello Degruttola as Mortuary Attendant
N/A as Giovanni Borgia
- The episode received three nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards 2012 for Outstanding Costumes for a Series (Gabriella Pescucci), Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series, and Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Trevor Morris).