The Borgia Bulletin (World of spoilers)

I have conflicting feelings about this episode.  On the one hand, it’s an excellent penultimate episode content-wise and there were several excellent scenes.  On the other hand, it fell a tad flat for me.  The pacing felt odd, I was too aware of where in the series I was while still watching it, and I felt like the direction, particularly in its overlapping scenes, lacked the energy and spark that it usually has going for it.  In any event, next week looks properly stepped up and the world of this week’s episode was full, if not of wonders.

On excommunication: Adding the trappings of a curse to the excommunication of Savonarola did not cut it for me this week.  While the clear connection between the Pope damning him to hell’s fire and Savonarola literally walking through fire makes me understand why the show wanted this there, it held no real punch for me.  Mainly, my disappointment stems from the fact that every word Machiavelli said only showed the  astuteness of my original suggestion a few weeks ago of threatening the entire city to be excommunicated if they didn’t disown the heretic.  Watching this “disgrace” could not be pleasing while thinking of other ways it could be done.

On Antonello: This plotline continues to coast along, not doing much.  We don’t see the original interview for him, by the time he’s put up for the job at all it’s made clear he will get it.  Events clearly indicated that the poisoned jug wouldn’t reach its mark.  Whatever.

On Lucrezia: There is a return of PANTHER.  Who shall he be gifted to next???  I’ll never grow tired of PANTHER.  Also, her acting for me shone this week.  From the brush-off of her ruined betrothal and managing to use it to remind her father of what she’s owed to the demand for poison, Holliday Grainger kept me enthralled.  By far my favorite moment this week was when she brought Paolo’s murder out for an open confrontation with Juan after keeping it unspoken for so long.  That moment, with Lucrezia’s single tear and Juan’s immediate escalation, is the leaven that made this episode rise.  It made the incident with baby Giovanni-a foolish thing in itself-extremely poignant.  I really wish we’d seen what happened before Giulia Farnese went to ask for his baptism.  Scheming with Lucrezia?  A gesture of goodwill with Vanozza?  Her own plan to bring Alexander out of his “wilderness” and fasting, by using his beloved family member as leverage?  Any way you look at it, it’s an excellent thing.  And the baptism itself brought back to glory and costumes that I expect of the Borgias!

On Cesare: Finally, you get to have more drama!  I loved that bitchy little moment with Juan, the juvenile appetizer to warm-up to that delicious dinner of explaining to Juan just how little gets by you.  Eeeverything just came out with Juan this episode.  No wonder he had to die-his fights were over and he’s hardly up to new shenanigans.  Excellent sense of timing, my Cesare.  On the other hand, it’s so echoey of your stabbing of Lucrezia’s ex that it is likely to slide over into protection of your sister’s interests, doing the damning act yourself to save her, instead of being a whole new deed that you did for your own reasons.  After all that flack Juan gave you, you deserved to kill him for yourself alone.  I sympathize that you got to do it so simply.  Thank god for quips with Michiletto!

On Juan: How wonderful an effect opium can have on a person!  Just look at the difference between party!Juan and opium!Juan.  You played it off wonderfully, David Oakes.  Add to that how I wanted to laugh during your speech with your own cock, but couldn’t because you had too much feeling and it is a performance mightily ended.  I salute you, David Oakes.  Juan-this is the night that the wine came back, for goodness sake.  It is not the time to mess up.  You did have an endearingly blind faith in your father’s love as a shield though, didn’t you?  When you use it as a weapon against both siblings, it becomes a weapon that will bring you down.  It all fits in.  Unfortunately, I expected you to put up more of a fight during your death-at least say something more.  I sympathize that the writers gave you nothing for that.

On Pope Alexander VI: I believe my favorite line this week was your commending your ex-taster’s soul to Heaven and “damn yours!” *step* “and yours!”  to Lucrezia’s brotherly suitors.

On Vanozza: Writers, please to be giving her more time next week!  She rocked it!  Pointing out that Borgias love who they choose, defying double standards for the genders, and turning Juan’s best gibes into mere trifles to scorn…the Pope may have had my favorite line, Lucrezia my favorite scenes, but you and your gumption provided the gel that kept this episode together.  I hope to hear more from you next week-nay, I depend on it.

The finale should prove far better-once more, the Borgias shall be flung at each other, instead of each one drawing off to confront their own demons and put off the world.  It’s when they’re constantly working against, and for, other Borgias that this family really thrives.

The Borgia Bulletin (Truth and Spoilers)

Ah, my Borgias!  I missed it sorely this last week!


On Juan: Goddammit, Juan!  You’re making it so that killing you would be a mercy, and I want it to be shocking and dramatic, even tragic.  *le sigh*  Oh, well.  I suppose you’ve got opium for your problems.


On Lucrezia: Man, this show has so many useful lessons with dessert!  Next time I’m in need of a little prodding or learning, somebody bring me delicious sweets to prove the point, please!  Also, I am very pleased that her skills in subtlety have improved since Paolo.  Look at her, all grown up and getting lectures about having “room for two” in her lusts/loves.  Truth be told, it is much more in accord with traditional chivalry that marriage be confined outside marriage, so.  Chivalry thrives, encouraged by the Borgias!


On Savonarola: I am highly amused by the Pope’s possession of a “holy” curse to send someone to hell.  I still say threatening to place all Florence under excommunication would be more effective, but damned if that isn’t fun, too.


On the Pope: Oh, Roderigo, I felt for you this week.  Surrounded by people who miss the point.  Sons who just bicker and miss reaching their established goals, cardinals who miss the respect due the French king, a daughter who keeps missing the necessity of having to remarry…his cup runneth over with irritations.  At least he has cigarillos, now.  The scene where he visits the fallen chapel to ponder and receives Benito’s story so tenderly places him in the position of being the most morally righteous person in this whole episode.  On odd position for him, but he makes it work.


On Michiletto: Is he attracted to Benito, do we think?  Or is he just going slowly over the edge, what with spending so much time in anti-sodomite Florence?  Or is he really just speaking sense about the boy needing killing and since he’s Michiletto it comes out like this?  In any case, the poor man needs some rest.


On the Spanish captain: Good man!  “I wish to leave now, before you find my body floating in the Tiber.”  Hurrah for sensible decisions.


On the betrothed: Who gives their prospective bride a model of a boat?  I see the significance for proving to the assembly that his house has power and wealth enough to marry with the Pope’s family, but shouldn’t it have been filled with something more for Lucrezia to enjoy?  On the other hand, you personally take care of the panther.  The panther seemed quiet and content with you.  If you have the approval of PANTHER than I salute you, sir, and hope to see you leave Rome with your skin intact when this betrothal gets shot to hell as history dictates it must.


On Della Rovere: Well, if that isn’t a case of secretly trying to get someone killed off while convincing yourself that you’re not doing it, than Daedalus’ nephew lived.  Sneaky bastard, you!  No wonder you sit there poisoning the boy over and over if you want him to do ALL your dirty work for you.  The fact that the kid succeeded does give the edge back to your plan, though.  Plus, the fact that this has been your plan for weeks, if not months, and you just now started speaking about the problem of the Pope already having a taster makes me sure that your plan was to get the boy to kill him the whole time.  If you keep up this influence of leading kid with Luke Skywalker hair along to the dark side before sending him off to die, then at least I’ll be able to respect your manipulation.  If you back off now you’re all dead to me.  That’s the deal.  Also, I am not pleased that it was your scene that got to end this episode.  I would’ve preferred something we hadn’t seen coming the whole time.  Perhaps the return of Benito, since it was a real possibility that he wind up dead.


On Cesare: Wow, did you get diplomatic.  Played Benito just right, careful modulation to both Juan and Roderigo…I guess all you really need in order to maintain your composure is to stab the hell out of the man who hurt your sister.  Right, then.  Carry on.


The Borgia Bulletin (The spoilers at Forli)

Now, this episode was wonderfully balanced again!  Intense offset with seductive hijinks, action balanced with watching bits of history unfold.

On Juan: JUAN!  Oh, how nice it is to have Juan back with his Gob Bluth attitude.  He got it back-the confidence!  He pulled off the begetting-an-heir trick by sealing the deal with his wife and returned to his supportive father!  Then, of course…he lost it again.  He failed to notice that Catherina had an ally and fell away from his army into the pool of shame, losing the confidence along with the victory that would have exonerated his treatment of Catherina’s son.  His STD made me go ‘ouch’ for awhile whenever I saw him on a horse again, but honestly, it was only a matter of time.  On cigarros: everything was perfect.  The lesson, the presentation, the faces of every actor present.  On panther: every show needs a panther!  I kindof think he did it for revenge, knowing Lucrezia would get close and then injured.  The ultimate payback for murder attempts is via panther!  I want all my grudges to be pantherized.  Likewise, Lucrezia’s use of the panther in her marriage intrigues was awesome.  Also, in the Bluth family code, it announced Lucrezia has no intention of marrying the suitor.  No tricks at the wedding.  Is anyone allergic to cat hair?  Hup!  No tigers/panthers!  No panthers at the wedding=no wedding to Genoa dude.  In conclusion: PANTHER.

On Della Rovere: This is up here to get it over with. I’m glad you recognize the Borgia family plans, but I want someone to punch you in the face.  Someone please come up with something better for Colm Feore to do.

On Cesare: Perfect!  So I could, in fact, help my brother.  I’m torn.  My brother, you know.  I mean, Juan has created a lot of problems in this family and by coming back has made it impossible for me to become the  military commander I was born to be, but…maybe I’m not so torn.  Juan’s got my papal army-let him take care of himself.  (Am I the only one who wished he’d chosen ‘rock’ and thrown something at the “angel” kids below?  Who wanted all the guys on the balcony to start pelting the children? Eh?)

On Michiletto: Nevermind the Borgias and burning, Savonarola’s greatest danger, as far as I can see, is Michiletto getting pushed past his edge and taking him down.

On Machiavelli: It finally happened!  You and Cesare AND Michiletto all together!  I love it!  Also, pretty much everything you said.  “I don’t hear any knocking.”  “As you can see, with my face, I have no vanity.”  Here’s an owl.  The end.

On Catherina Sforza: She delivered her “means to produce ten more sons!” line brilliantly.  I had to watch it twice.  I cannot wait to see her actually commanding some fighting and getting reintroduced to Cesare.  I must say, though, in that situation I would’ve expected her to order the archers to kill her son so that he would not be tortured anymore.  Killing Juan wouldn’t have done that much.  Catherina of all people should know Cesare is the real brains of the family, besides which, the Pope would only send someone else.  In short-killing Juan would only have made the siege longer, allowed much of the army to retreat before being surprised by Ludovico, and would have earned her son worse no matter what.  This is not helpful.  I expected the order to shoot her son and put him out of his misery.  If they hadn’t included the historic line about the means to produce more sons, I would’ve been left most disappointed.  As it is, it works.

On Rafael: The costumes here are always marvelous, but something about his silver diamonds and gold and black stripes made his even more amazing this week.

I cannot wait to see how they end the season.  It looks like Juan might even die next week, so they will have to top that!  Aaah-no show climaxes like a Borgias show.

The Borgia Bulletin (The Day of Spoilers)

I regret to say, this episode seemed like filler, which is not what I expect from the Borgias.

I am glad both Roderigo and Cesare handled the aftermath of the last episode’s climax so well.  I’m glad the Pope’s penance wore out so…unremorsefully.  Jeremy Irons had me worried for a minute last week.  I also really enjoy seeing Cardinal Sforza get to be a player.  He knows what he’s doing and it’s good to see the Cardinals interacting with each other again.  After all, the Borgias are the head of this group, not yet Italy.  The interaction between Cesare and the Pope was perfect, from start to finish.  I love that they’re clearly becoming different forces now, instead of being such a cohesive team.  It is wonderful.

I’m sorry to say that it seems they’ve officially run out of things for Colm Feore to do.  I know it’s been hard to keep his story line interesting and, this being the Borgias, poison seems like a likely answer.  Unfortunately, it merely shows that he’s officially gone crazy, that he has no gratitude at all for actually getting a volunteer to be poisoned in the first place, and that he is no Obi Wan.  Terrible mentor, that guy.  I hope the volunteer kid died.

About Savonarola: you know what would be even more fun?  If the Pope threatened to excommunicate the whole city, thus making no one able to gain priestly services for marriages, baptisms, final rites, etc.  In effect, it would be threatening to send everyone to hell because of this heretic.  How much more satisfying that would be than simply knowing eventually the man will burn.  The sodomy issue could be so interesting, but they just sortof brought it up and left it hanging this episode.  I like the thought that Michiletto got to work off his vexation about witnessing the anti sodomy violence by killing those soldiers, though.

Ah, Machiavelli.  I have longed for your presence, but as I feared-it means there is less of Michiletto.  I’m not sure I can live with less Michiletto at this point.  So, nice to see you, lovely to work with you, but hold off just a little longer, ok?

Lucrezia seems hell bent on proving the theory that love can only exist outside of marriage.  I look forward to seeing the fallout, but again-there wasn’t enough to really get into this week.  Next week we shall get so many things: Juan!  Catherina besieged!  The proper amount of Lucrezia!  Why am I tortured with this filler?  I don’t want to wait for these things!  Oh, and my last thought before the end of the episode when the Pope is coaching Cesare about the return of Juan…you remember Lucrezia’s going to kill him, right?  Poor Cesare must be so  miserable to have forgotten even about that.

The Borgia Bulletin (Choice Spoilers)

This episode is indeed a choice entree!  Or rather, it took pieces of choice foods, and desserts, and savory bites, and threw them all together in a kind of gourmet sandwich.  So many things happen, most of them without the ties or thematic thrust that usually encompasses this show’s plots.


-Over here the dark-robed priests are still trying to be Obi Wan and work up the Borgias as the Sith Lords.  And yeah, they found some young guy to be their Luke (with similar hair even, methinks), but do we really want to see people trying to be Obi Wan?  No, we want them to be succeeding or dying, and they’re just taking forever about it.  Definitely the stalest part of the palate, and no tastier than bread.


-Inside there, the trio of ladies: Giulia, Vanozza, and Lucrezia, are visiting the brothels, where there’s surprisingly little sex compared to the rest of the episode.  There are cardinals instead, which…really, no one’s surprised.  There’s meat on the bone here, but it’ll need another episode to carve it into something ready to eat.  The only new information is that they know as well as the Godfather how to make an offer that can’t be refused.  I’m sure that corresponding heads will be cut off.


-Back in the main plot, Cesare is facing off with Catherina Sforza.  This is apparently “the choice” of the title, but it really shouldn’t be.  Everyone knows how it’ll go down, just like the madam’s choice of an offer she can’t refuse, and the friars’ choices about death that all lead to the same thing-death, and therefore are not really choices.  We are, however, treated to Cesare’s choice ass in these scenes, so there’s that.  So, I suppose the main thing here is the show’s makers finally choosing to show it to us again.  Tasty.


– Michiletto has a mother!  A home city-sure, an actual home where his mother WIPES HIS HANDS FOR HIM is quite another thing!  Its sweetness needs no words.  And then he is gay, and juicy, and indulging it with someone who may or may not be his brother on the grave of the father Michiletto killed, and it’s easy to see there is clearly a dearth of choices for him to be happy.  Why is this thing called ‘the choice’ again?


Aha!  It’s because Cesare decides to STAB GIOVANNI SFORZA TO DEATH.  An excellent choice.  That spiciness hit the spot, thank you!


However, this is juxtaposed with lightning falling in on St. Peter’s and killing small children, while making Pope Roderigo soulful and upset.  There are real choices here, too.  Roderigo chooses to risk his life saving children and atone through fasting in order to prevent further calamities.  The other Cardinals, etc. choose to stand around on the steps being useless.  Jeremy Irons performs brilliantly, and the festival of different tastes in this episode is complete. Did they go together?  Not really so much.  Are they explosive, and excellent, and memorable in your mouth?  Definitely.

The Borgia Bulletin (Stray Spoilers)

Huzzah!  The Borgias manage to put everything into such a perspective, it miraculously makes everything seem better.  Bad news?  “Is there any other kind, my lord?”  And this episode, they do it by bringing in “The Princess Bride.”


So, this episode starts off with Michiletto gathering a band of Inigo Montoyas!  “Hello.  Our names are from warlike Italian families.  You desecrated our homelands.  Prepare to die!”  Michiletto leads them to an underground Zorro cave where there’s a noise and one asks, “What is that?”  Why, that’s the sound of An Entrance!  Cesare supplies these Inigo Montoyas with various hardcore weapons and instructs them that they should all dress in black, with masks.  However, camerawork shows us that Cesare himself is the main Man in Black of this outfit by having close-ups of him donning and removing his black mask.  Like the original Man in Black, Cesare is consumed by his desire for vengeance, due to a lost love.  However, instead of a swordsman, a giant, and Vizzinni, Cesare outfights and outwits a band of French scouts.  This is something of a letdown, especially considering he could’ve just put cantarella (or iocaine powder) in most of the drinking goblets in the first place.  No doubt we’ll get to see Cesare Borgia poisoning a table full of fighters at a later date.  In any case, this allows Michiletto to play The Count and demonstrate that he’s a connoisseur of pain, without needing any special Machine.   This brute squad closes out the episode by clearing the battlefield of French gunpowder.

The Pope, meanwhile, is tactfully making his way through political and bedtime alliances.  Along the way he instructs his audience in good vengeance techniques, that Honor has many cousins, including Valor, and that all such conceptual cousins have killed many people.  While he’s perfectly all right with this, he’s ready to throw a fit upon learning that Cesare’s taken to playing the Man in Black and leading his team of Montoyas.  Even when he’s told pointblank that it’s guaranteed his “Holy Mother Church” all of the valuable booty.  Perhaps this is understandable when one recalls that learning of Cesare’s interference has robbed the Pope of his perceived ability to obtain miracles, and also of the feat that had previously impressed his hostess.

Back home, Lucrezia’s officially in charge and teasing the cardinals with cooking metaphors.  She’s decided to add her own verve, and her mother’s experience with brothels (no doubt held off until it could be given more screentime) to Giulia’s work to help the poor.


This episode could just as well have been called “Unfinished Business.”  It rounds out the conflict with the French army, it reminds everyone that the Sforzas will still need their own special punishment.  It finally ends the saga of Cesare and Ursula.  It’s reminding everyone that there’s serious humanitarian issues in Rome to be dealt with.  It continues the gender crossing theme by placing Lucrezia on St. Peter’s chair.  And, of course, the Pope and the Duchess consummate their sexual “unfinished business.”

The Borgia Bulletin (The Beautiful Spoilers)

Official revelations:

-Juan is the Gob of the Borgia family.

-Arrested Development is applicable everywhere.

Suffice it to say that this episode was glorious:  Lucrezia’s come into her own in the most scrumptious and satisfying of ways.  Finally, Cesare gets a chance to flex his military, manipulative muscles for the world.  Jeremy Iron’s surprise at the baby having a father is divine.  Catherina Sforza is making her mark at last.  And Juan….oh, Juan.  The first image is you.  The second is my main reaction.  (Although, I am so looking forward to the death awaiting you.  Hadn’t thought I could look forward to it more or be more curious, but I’ve been proven wrong.)

The Borgia Bulletin (Spoiling Paolo)

My show is back to perfection with 2×2 “Paolo”!  I knew it wouldn’t let me down after last week!

Lucrezia’s lover arrives in Rome.  This should be everyone’s first clue that he will die, and this being an excellent show, it is.  In the meantime, his tender, requited passion for Lucrezia is used to ask the question: “What is love like?”  Set against Giulia’s ploys to retain the Pope’s affections, prostitutes, and Cesare’s infatuation-withdrawal symptoms for Ursula, this query packs a punch for everyone this episode.  Especially the audience.

On more thematic lines, however, this episode began a very interesting turning point.  The Borgias are always seen to be crossing lines-upstart family to Pope of Rome, adultery, murder.  First season these were all crossed for various self-serving purposes; all shocking, scandalous infringements!  This episode displayed the Borgias’ willingness to cross boundary lines from motivations that are good.  Lucrezia doesn’t care for class lines in her love.  The Pope audaciously crosses class, convention, and most importantly, financial lines in his crusade to better Rome.  Giulia Farnese smacks down gender rules to help with this crusade.  It’s not just about their morals anymore, now it’s about circumstances and what anyone might be asked to do.  It might even be said that Colm Feore’s murder of his would-be assaulters is an unwitting endorsement of the Borgias in this episode.  I’m not crazy about the line “Sometimes goodness needs the help of a little badness,” but it does get the point across.

Other notes: I entirely feel Roderigo’s vexation at the pigeons.  I’ve gotten absurdly sick of pigeons myself at various points, and was highly pleased to see his hawking campaign.

Michiletto is still the most awesome!  No idea why he spent so much of his valuable time with that prostitute, though.

I’ve always been in favor of Cesare as the murderer of Juan, but after this episode I’d love to see Lucrezia behind it.

The Borgia Bulletin (Take the spoilers by the horns)

I found The Borgia Bull  difficult to react to.  On the one hand, for a setting of the scene, a reminder of where we are and who we’re dealing within this show, or the opening of a movie, it was excellent.  I prefer Micheletto without his scruff, but other than that-things are in motion, conflicts are set up, and it’s a splendid spectacle.  On the other hand, as a single episode on TV…I’m less than satisfied, for the first time, with The Borgias.


Here’s the thing: everyone is feeling the same, simple thing.  They’re all jealous.  Last season each episode took us through love, hate, fear, manipulation, self-identity issues, doubt, jealousy.  This season premiere left everyone with the same emotion, which is far more monotonous than I expect the Borgias to be.  Cesare is jealous of Juan’s fighting and, of course, Lucrezia’s lover.  Juan is jealous of Cesare and is power.  Guilia Farnese is jealous of the apprentice.  The apprentice is jealous of boys and men in general and artists in particular.  The Pope is jealous of his old self’s philandering ways and the other families’ considerable power.  Lucrezia is jealous of time spent with her child and her family, in the knowledge they won’t last forever.  Every one of these things is perfectly valid and would make a good addition to the show, but to have an entire episode filled with no greater thing than JEALOUSY is simply not as intriguing as it could be.  Also, many of the characters’ reactions to this emotion were highly immature, which led to a general aura of…childishness.  In The Borgias!  Inconceivable!  While again, these immature reactions were perfectly fitting and credible, they should not have occurred at the same time.  Juan’s and Cesare’s rivalry, for instance, could have been much more suspenseful and lively-seeming if the childish dynamic was set against graver problems and deeper turmoil in the family realm.  Thus they would be acting juvenile with each other as a relief for their other actions instead of being wholly portrayed as willful children.  Jeremy Iron’s always superb acting would have been much more clearly showing a besetting sin of a flawed character with many sides if his most dangerous moments had not been simply the outline of a vague plan to his sons.  Even the French King’s interaction with his physician is written in very childish language, while Alfonso frankly IS a child realizing the extent of his punishment.


All of these elements were well done, I find them individually interesting ideas, but they could have been really great viewing if they had been timed and arranged more separately.  However, it was an Easter show and as a piece of holiday fluff, I approve.  Bulls!  Fire!  Cross-dressing!  Really, I’d like to think that if the Borgias had a television show they ran themselves (which they undoubtedly WOULD), this would be the kind of thing they’d show in their weekly bulletin.  Choose your favorite Borgia child: vote on the website!  A real Borgia party, attended by Heidi Klum and Kate Middleton!-which pagan personas they adopted!  Vanozza hosts a workshop for keeping your man ogling!  …Wow, now this exists in my head.

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