The Borgia Bulletin 3×9 (The Gunpowder SPOILERS)

Okay, it’s “The Gunpowder Plot,” which is hardly a spoiler-always plots with this show!  May it plot to return from cancellation!

 

I can’t even write letters to the characters with this-this is The Borgias at their most raw and brilliant.  This episode is full of ways to play your heartstrings, from Michiletto’s love-and-death scene, to Cesare and Lucrezia’s wild reunion, to Rodrigo’s venom and fear about himself/his son.  Everyone is picking up their grudges and opportunities, there’s no stone unturned. Rodrigo strikes back after Cesare had him cornered.  Lucrezia does indeed take matters into her own hands (And we find out who Herb Woman is-clearly, she’s Flora from Sleeping Beauty).  Even Michiletto and Alfonso take their personal grievances and decide it’s worth acting on them.  (The symmetry between Cesare’s duels with Alfonso and Juan, yet with completely different endings, is almost too clever.)  This episode is full of reasons why The Borgias has more to offer, why keeping them on would bring dozens of payoffs, why these characters are badass and touching and momentous, why the writing deserves time to conclude all of its plotting.  Even following the yellow dirt trail and seeing the princess once more kept hostage struck weighty notes in this episode.

 

Dear The Borgias: I have loved every minute.  May your costumes stay gorgeous and your actors be recognized.  If at all possible, get yourself an encore.  I almost hate to watch the last one because I hate knowing it’s the end.

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?

 

 

Borgia Bulletin 3×1 “The Face of Spoilers”

They are baaaaaaaack!  This makes me incredibly happy.  “The Face of Death” brings us right back into the action where season 2 left off, so all is a smooth transition from poisoning to poison-aftermath.

 

On Lucrezia: Thank goodness for book reading!  Lucrezia’s supreme confidence and “This is the line-everyone should fall in!” rules all this episode.  Giulia should start paying more attention to where she stands with this mature Lucrezia, because of she decides to take umbrage with someone, they Will pay.

 

On Roderigo: Oh, Jeremy Irons, I doubt there are that many actors that could make unconscious flopping and charcoal spewing good TV.  I do wish they had given you more to say instead of just repeating the lines.  That being said, I appreciated the writers keeping alive the tension of Juan’s death without it feeling overly forced, I love the irony of despised, worldly you being the only one in the Vatican to be actually worrying about God right now, and the way everyone clusters to you with their concern felt truly genuine and reassuring.  Even through the TV.

 

On Cesare: I look forward to this as the baseline of a new escalating storyarc.  Without your energy and ferocity I might have disconnected from the storylines, seeing as I had no doubt that everyone would survive-because of history and Michiletto.  The only time you fell short was in your final confrontation with Della Rovere.  I wanted you to taunt with the fact that Roderigo’s fate had undoubtedly lain in the hands of God-and clearly God had wanted him to life, thus proving Della Rovere’s quest unworthy and damned.  I reeeally wanted Cesare to kick him in the religion.  I also really wanted Colm Feore to have the chance to react to that.  I felt he tried his best in his facial expressions both times he found out the Pope was better than expected, but…it’d have been so satisfying to see played out.

 

On Michiletto: You with baby Giovanni is the most adorable thing ever.  You with Giovanni while you’re covered in blood is magnificent.  It shows the true range of ways in which you are there for the Borgias and how they reciprocate in their trust of you.  Moreover, the expression highlighted how strange it was to end a fight with something that you saved, rather than something that you destroyed.  Saving a master is simply a duty and a portal toward which people to destroy and for what reasons, it’s not the same as suddenly being faced with something powerless that you rescued.

 

On Caterina Sforza: I love your penchant for birds.  I approve your plan for forming an Alliance.  I advise against saying “No more assassinations.”  Never say never, Caterina!

 

Basically, I am incredibly pleased.  However, this was mainly a wrap-up/set-up episode where all of the storylines had pretty set arcs which made the viewing stakes were fairly low.  Enough to wet the appetite, but not enough for a proper meal.

 

 

 

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.