Back in Rome, Juan flaunts a wounded leg and spins a yarn about his valiant conduct at his army’s defeat at Forli. But Hernando brings the boy Benito back to Rome and Cesare is determined to have his father hear the truth of Juan’s cowardice. Juan, bitter and humiliated, is now dying from syphilis and the infected wound and turns to opium addiction to dull his pain.
Lucrezia, Giulia and Vanozza discover that the improvements to an orphanage they demanded from the Cardinals have not been begun, so they turn to blackmail to finish the project. Lucrezia meanwhile, still prevaricates over marriage to Calvino while flirting with his brother; Vanozza gives her some homespun advice about taking lovers; and Lucrezia seduces Raffaello. Della Rovere’s assassination plan faces one last hurdle: how to replace the Pope’s taster with his own agent? While Della Rovere ponders the moral dilemma of killing a good man for a greater end, his accomplice Antonello takes matters into his own hands.