Micheleto learns his kept lover is a Sforza informant, Caterina Sforza mounts the Shroud of Turin as a rival holy relic, and Fredirigo puts Lucrezia under house arrest.Micheleto learns his kept lover is a Sforza informant, Caterina Sforza mounts the Shroud of Turin as a rival holy relic, and Fredirigo puts Lucrezia under house arrest.Micheleto learns his kept lover is a Sforza informant, Caterina Sforza mounts the Shroud of Turin as a rival holy relic, and Fredirigo puts Lucrezia under house arrest.
"Tears of Blood" is one of the brilliant episodes of 'The Borgias'. One of the best of Season 3 (the high quality in Season 2 may have been more consistent, but the third season was never less than very good), the best episode since "The Face of Death" and definitely one of my favourites of the whole show along with "The Confession" (the show's high point for me, namely for Juan's burial, have raved about that scene more than once and will continue to do so as it is that good a scene) and "The Face of Death".
It is the emotional impact that "Tears of Blood" has that sets it apart. Especially in Micheletto's subplot (the heart of the episode), once again like "Lucrezia's Gambit" Micheletto is given a lot of depth and we see a character that is so much more than just a creepy assassin. Thanks to increased screen time in the third season that made him perhaps the second most interesting character of the season behind Cesare. The initial chemistry between him and Pascal is cute but darkens considerably later on, Micheletto's anguish is absolutely gut-wrenching and really felt for him here.
Also standing out emotionally is the conflicted characterisation of Caterina, although her actions are un-condonable her grief, in a tension and political intrigue-filled subplot, is portrayed very poignantly. The increased strain between Rodrigo and Cesare creates tension (with Cesare even mocking him at one point), and the suspense is also there with Lucrezia, one thinking what is she going to do next. Lucrezia with the witch was like a battle of the manipulators, with the witch getting the edge. Cesare and Micheletto together never fails to intrigue, Cesare here being forceful but also somewhat sympathetic. The opening sequence has a lot of pomp and grandeur, visually grand and rousingly scored, and there is a real sense of making it clear who's in charge in the investiture scene.
Expectedly, "Tears of Blood" is without fault visually. Like in "Relics", the Rufio (quite a terrifying character) scene in silence is shot in a way that's quite ominous. The whole episode though is beautifully and atmospherically shot and the costumes and interiors are the very meaning of opulent but in the necessary moments also uncompromising. The music makes an impression too, not just in the opening but especially in the Pascal/Micheletto scenes, hauntingly melancholic which fits the tone of the scenes beautifully. The main theme still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and the opening titles sequence is one of my favourites ever.
One of 'The Borgias' most improved components has been the writing, which has the right amounts of intensity and pathos. The big confrontation between Micheletto and Pascal is powerfully written, one of the show's best written scenes. The story is always absorbing for all of the above and never feels dull or too cluttered.
Everybody turns in fine performances. As excellent as Francois Arnaud, Jeremy Irons, Holliday Grainger and Gina McKee all are (plus Peter Sullivan does some nice underplaying with some scene stealing expressions), the episode belongs to Sean Harris at his most heart-rending. How he didn't get any award recognition for this episode is anybody's guess.
In conclusion, really brilliant. 10/10
- Oct 2, 2019