Borgia Bulletin 3×4 (Banquet of SPOILERS)

This is like the happy hour of Borgia episodes.  There’s plenty of dark, alcohol-type, feelings and nefarious shenanigans about, but nothing goes too far, the plotlines are focused in tidy little dishes that aren’t really full entrees yet, and everyone knows these are the lighter ploys before someone really throws all their money on the table.

 

Dear Costume Department: The lighter fabric covering bosoms before leading up to a little collar is interesting.  It makes me want to talk about how to cover their emotions, the Borgias are creating walls around themselves, but walls that are so explicitly tied to their emotions that it’s impossible for anyone to miss the connection and therefore it doesn’t really hide anything.  I may be reading a lot into that, but it’s what I got-particularly when Lucrezia’s being congratulated in that dress on her gratifying wedding night.

Dear Jeremy Irons: You are talking to your daughter about how great her sex was, which can in no way be construed as checking she’s okay after her wedding night because everyone knows she’s not a virgin, and chortling at discovering her sex life was transformed, and still somehow-SOMEHOW, you sold me on being touchingly paternal in this scene.  HOW??  Also, your flabbergasted yelling when you find out about her lack of sex cracked me up.

Dear Alfonso: Okay, I do feel sorry for you now.  Exhibitionist sex is bad enough, without it being a) the only way you can get your wife to have sex with you and b) your first time.  Frankly, I was impressed that you managed so easily, considering your virgin status.  On the other hand, she did help you and a cousin watching is faar from the situation she was in.  I think you really just mellowed me out with your awkward talk about her liking sex “the usual way.”  Also, “Like brother and sister”?  Wow, you’re great for setting other people up to force awkward things.

Dear Cesare: French Ambassador guy seems cool.  Maybe you can subtly suggest to him that you’d like a French princess who looks exactly like your sister.  I bet he’d manage it-hey, it’s no skin off his back and it’ll give him more pointed things to say over wine.  In fact, you two could have a wonderful time trading pointed (but not barbed, he’s not a threat) remarks over snacks.

Dear Lucrezia: Please, please, please draw blood for the exhibitionism.  What I’ve been missing since Juan died is for you to have an enemy to deal with.

Dear Versucci: Smart man!  If you’re really going to hide your stolen money from the Pope, the best thing to do IS give it to the poor!  They’ll never think of that.  I do wonder how you navigate around in fields and rocks so well.  I thought you’d been living well at the Vatican for years-did you also steal maps?  Did you tour around a lot in youth and have a great memory?  Do you ask directions at every stop to the next place?

Dear Vatican Librarian: I’m so glad you are back!  So-did you “enjoy that”, as the Pope thought you would?

Dear Giulia: I didn’t expect you to be such a…presence in your night.  Couldn’t trust anyone else to be the auctioneer?  I’m glad you finally did your inevitable duty, but this storyline didn’t do much for you as the solution to getting leverage over all Cardinals in this Vatican was obvious.

Dear Cardinal Farnese: Poor, overwhelmed boy.  You had a very interesting look on your face at the end-were you just shocked at the others’ behaviour or were you a little sad you missed out on the fun?  Cause it kindof seemed more like the latter to me.  What do you think?

Dear Other New Cardinals: This is how we know you’re new-you paid no attention to the man behind the partition!  On the other hand, you know it’s dangerous to refuse Borgia invitations and you did know the Pope wanted money for the Crusades, so one can see how you might have felt that so long as you did spend the money for the right cause you’d be okay.

Dear Sforza Stealth Man: You reminded me of those weight guessers at carnivals, only with guessing the exact moment sex begins.  Is this a special talent of yours?

 

 

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Borgia Bulletin 3×3 (SiblingSPOILERS)

It has arrived-hat inevitable incest scene!  I must say, I thought the show did an admirable job of making it believable and sympathetic that Lucrezia and Cesare end up turning to each other for this need as well as all others, rather than making it a symbolic roast of their characters or simply more gratuitous sex.  Well played, show-I appreciate it a lot.

 

Dear costume department: Have I told you how I love you lately?  I’m particularly drawn to Catherina Sforza’s hair today.  I don’t even understand those braids.  I was never particularly fond of that style of hat, but by God you went for it, which I don’t think I’ve really seen before, and I thank you.

Dear Alfonso: If a question mark is the worst people think of you, you are a lucky man in this show.  The middle is a good, safe place to be sometimes.  In any case, running off and sulking all night on your Wedding Night is unacceptable, even if you’re not trying to marry a Borgia.  Really.

Dear Vesucci: You very narrowly miss my wrath-at first I thought he was setting the library scrolls on fire, which is Never Okay.

Dear Micheletto: You did not get enough screentime.  Your response to someone accusing you of thievery is possibly my favorite thing of you ever.

Dear French Ambassador: This is great fun.  You have the best job ever, travel to luxurious locales and rag on your king’s wife.  I am pleased that you seem to appreciate this, as soon you’ll have to deal with less amusing topics.

Dear Cesare: I think it’s time to get another PANTHER and gift it to Catherina’s little wolf who decides this is the place to insult you.

 

This is clearly a winding-up episode, done well.  Enjoyed this course a lot, thank you, the garnish and crunchy toppings were particularly delicious.  Now bring on something even meatier!

 

 

“The Night Lands” GoT 2×2

Okay, this one just feels like stalling.  Via sex.  Which is expected, but still-I feel like the first episode gave such good, meaty information and this one is a snack instead of a meal in comparison.  Although a really tasty snack, if you like the sexual stuff.  Anyhow, spoilers:

 

On Arya: I am upset that she seems to be losing her smarts.  Couldn’t match the conversational ability of Third-person dude in the cage, told Gendry right off the bat that she was somebody worth finding for the Lannisters, failed to ask how he knew she was a girl so she could avoid whatever the mistake is with others, told Gendry more than he needed to know right away…If those two ever get romantic with each other I will be Very. Disappointed.

 

On Shae: I am also disappointed with Shae for talking to Varys, but still hold out some hope that she knows what she’s doing and simply wants to have maneuverability in case Tyrion’s ship goes down.

 

On Tyrion: You win best line this episode for voicing everyone’s thoughts about Cersei ripping up every piece of paper she’s ever given.  Put her in a library-she’ll have a heart attack.

 

On the Night Watch and Daenerys: Everything that happened here was very predictable.  Something has got to actually happen, already.  By that, I mean something that actually moves along in a story arc and drives either character or events that take more than 60 seconds.

 

On Cersei: Am I the only one who always thought Joffrey was behind the bastard killing?  Also, what does it say about this show when the phrase, “when you came out of mother, ripping her” brought to mind mother-son incest initially and I had to think for a minute to ascertain that this wasn’t a new Lannister-incest storyline we were learning about and remember what actually did occur with Tyrion and his mom?

 

On Theon: To be fair, your life does kindof suck.  On the other hand, you were so incredibly annoying in every possible way in your encounter with Yara that even the twist that put you in your place wasn’t enough to make me enjoy this segment.  Maybe if she kicks your ass.  Ten times.  On the other hand, if being this irritating is what your character is supposed to be, then congratulations to the actor!  You have made me care enough to sincerely hate you.  That’s a compliment, providing it’s who you’re supposed to be.

 

On Salladhor: Overall, I really like this guy.  He’s honest, has clear priorities, and a sense of humor.  Besides, he basically played the “good name for a band” line for this world as a reason to go to war!  But the overt playing of the black-man-as-rapist/black-men-want-white-women-particularly-blondes card is galling me.  Add religious guy’s blatant homophobia and this whole scene just sticks in my throat.  I don’t know what to do with it.

 

On Stannis: Wow, not even Mr. Straightlaced can resist sexual wrangling.  In the power-struggle between you and priestess, you just lost.  Have fun with that.  The woman must’ve really wanted to win, though-that map would NOT be a comfortable place for that activity, although I do love huge map tables in general.  Also, she basically just admitted to pushing religious guy to kill his dad, your old advisor/friend type, and you…didn’t catch on or didn’t care enough to not be distracted.  Neither option is permissible in a possible king.  Your potential suitability for the job has thus ended.

 

On Renley: Is there some rule about the two brothers never being shown together?  Supposedly Renley is a big player.  If I’m supposed to stay interested in this world’s politics, I need to be able to check out all the big potential players.  Show me him.

 

On Baelish: I feel for you-you are not making out very well this season.  You had one speech, delivered very well, that didn’t really have much to do with anything.  Plus, your character’s still getting no respect and you seem to be spending so much time with the whores you’re falling behind in the big picture that is the game of thrones.  Also, if you have a beautiful girl who needs to get you something, have you ever considered enlisting her as an outside spy?  I’m sure there are lots of ways the kind of girl you’re talking about could get information.  Probly wouldn’t even have to pay all her travel expenses since she had the sad, damsel in distress thing down so well.  Come on, now.

 

 

 

 

The Borgia Bulletin (The Confession) Finale spoilers!

*claps hands in glee*  I am incredibly satisfied right now.

 

On Cardinal Sforza: Every time they let this guy act I like him more.  I know my Rome and Papal family well enough to know where to search, thank you.  I will just pick up that slack.  Good on him!

 

On Savonarola: New question: why bother with the rack when clearly his biggest horror is being caressed by a sodomite?  I’m sure someone somewhere could be paid enough money to sodomize him, especially since the threat alone might suffice.  Or, you know, there are artificial ways of doing it that might not be as morally horrifying, but could have helped perhaps.  I know it might be a tad awkward to explain to Cesare, but the man is often busy elsewhere-Micheletto could do it on his own power, at least the artificial kind.  Nevertheless, didn’t matter in the end so long as Machiavelli’s there to point out the obvious, wasn’t the pose of the people with burning torches picturesque, and isn’t it wonderful to get such a huge weight off Micheletto’s ass?  Yes, yes it is.  I was a trifle disappointed the Pope’s offer of clemency wasn’t phrased in the form of, “Just say this…and all is forgiven.”  Then the audience would’ve known that Savonarola had no chance in any case, so no matter what he did from that point on there would have been a least a smidgeon of doubt as to whether he would have ultimately given in or not.

 

On Lucrezia: Her game has been amped again!  This time she chose the more traditional route of posing as an underling.  I don’t believe for a moment that she did it purposely to gage Alfonso’s true feelings for her as opposed to her status and wealth, but it worked out anyway.  Besides, making quick decisions and acting well enough to stick it out are both excellent qualities for anyone in power, particularly a Borgia to be in accordance with their reputation.  I did rather wish that Alfonso recovered better after Lucrezia’s grand reveal, but if fits her reasoning about his goodness/sweetness.  Her reasoning works for her character and I think Holliday Grainger did a good job of portraying this as both natural progression and a Borgia girl’s assertion of will.  Also, the way the costumer gave them highly complementary costumes that were close to matching but avoided matchy-matchy was marvelous.  Also, cute.  There is one thing that could have made that whole thing better, though…PANTHER.  I miss panther.  Hopefully we will find out what happened to it next season.

 

On Giulia Farnese: That is dedication.  Pretty sure not many mistresses would agree to a midnight jaunt to all the off-brand corpse spots.  Of course, Giulia’s found the position she wants to be in and she is going the distance to stay there.  This scene also made me go ‘aww’ though-she so clearly didn’t want to be there, but was still clearly both willing and caring for Alexander VI.

 

On Cesare: Look at you!  I love derobed Cesare.  It was your turn to step up and take charge and you went for it like a panther for its first decent meal off-ship.  Your mistake about Lucrezia asking you to marry her and offering to run away and live simply was adorable.  You play the blurring of that incest line for all it’s worth wonderfully well, don’t you?  Your exchanges with your father held up to Jeremy Irons-always a feat, but even more so in this episode.  Kudos to you.  Hopefully you’ll soon get non-clerical garb that fits in at parties like Lucrezia’s engagement now.

 

On Vanozza: Calm, sensible, and fiery truth-caller.  Really, how did it get this far without me realizing how much I like you?

 

On Antonello: Good.  Now that you’ve done your job this plot can boast real movement!  Also, perhaps Colm Feore will get to actually do something again third season.

 

On Pope Alexander VI: Oh, Jeremy Irons, how are you this compelling?  From clinging to hope to undergoing all levels of disillusionment and betrayal, you were perfection.  The scene with you picking up Juan and seeing him as your precious little boy wrung my heart.  I did wonder for a moment that no one was set to guard you between your chambers and the lawn as it seems like something Cesare or Cardinal Sforza would do even if that wasn’t the norm, which it would be, but then we wouldn’t have got to see you burying your favorite child.  That scene, Jeremy Irons, is priceless.  You wept, you dug, you finally began your hardest journey: saying goodbye to something that truly matters to you.  I bow down.  My favorite scenes were the confrontations with Cesare, Lucrezia, and Vanozza, but damn if you didn’t pull me into this one so it’s hard to stop imagining it, too.

 

The music in this episode was spot on.  I loved the part with just Cesare walking through the Pope’s suite of rooms so for the first time it really demonstrated just how small those rooms are.  The ensemble cast pretty much all got their chance to play in this episode, which I love.  The confrontations between family members struck such delicious chords that I’m still vibrating and happy.  And Jeremy Irons…you were better than all PANTHERS tonight.  I will miss my show.

 

 

 

 

“Winter is Coming” 1×1

So, I have finally joined the crowd of Game of Throne watchers.  I have not read the books, nor do I really intend to, but the show looks like worthy entertainment.  Thus far, in any case.  Having only seen the first episode I’m merely apprised of the situation, but nevertheless I have some thoughts.

List (spoilers apply):

1. No woman has a good life in this world-and it’s actually admitted.  Interesting.

2. The banished prince who think she’s the rightful king is TOTALLY what a prominent version of fanfic! Draco Malfoy would look like.  Also, I’ve definitely read him act like that, as well, in spite of not having a sister.

3. A king who is really up front about who he is?  This could be new.

4. The king’s guards’ helmets with the cat faces looked really intriguing until a closeup shot showed that the motion of riding makes it look like their cat teeth are clattering.

5. I think Illyrio should live.  His response to “Do you take me for a fool?” was absolute, hardcore, diplomatic brilliance.  “I take you for a king.”  Kings don’t use the same caution that ordinary men use.  Hah!

6. Honestly, I think the wedding night with Khal of Drogo could have been much worse.  She had a white horse and they rode off together pretty literally into the sunset!  It’s a bona fide happy ending! (Yes, I know, I know, but the point stands.)

7. I love the direwolf pups!

8. It was entirely annoying to me how in the beginning people just stood around saying that things didn’t happen or didn’t exist, even when clearly there was a direwolf below the wall.

9. On the white walkers, particularly their bright blue eyes: Don’t follow the lights!  Really, just all roads lead to Elijah Wood so far on this one.

10. I approve of Arya, overall.

11. I am unclear whether Jon Snow is really good at persuading people or if he just influences Boromir easily due to the guilt over bastardy.

12. Everyone is in love with doggie style for some reason?

13. I know we’re supposed to feel for Bran, but come on.  His lying tell was so simple he never would’ve survived on politics and he clearly didn’t have great physical prowess.  It was only a matter of time.

14. I’m betting Joffrey’s real father is the twin, yes?

15. It really was very considerate and well-mannered of the Dothraki to leave Illyrio and the prince-brother out of the expected fighting/three deaths expectations, considering their numbers, necessity, and the groom advantage.

16. “Winter is Coming” is apparently a very pithy and witty thing to say.