The Borgia Bulletin 3×10 (The Prince)

The finale is here and…I feel satisfied.  This show always excelled at season endings and this one is no exception.  It covered everything immediate and brought the characters to a place where I am alright leaving them, although I’d rather not.

 

SPOILERS:

Dear Machiavelli: The man is an oracle.  I dearly want a Machiavellian tarot deck now.  Think about what it would be-THINK OF IT.  All the Borgias would be present, of course.  The ordinarily peaceful cards would involve orgies.  The cups suit would be vials of poison.  Pretty much anything you do with it would bring the answer, “I shouldn’t have asked that, should I?”  It’d be a thing.

Dear Rodrigo: This-this-is why I love you.  Yes, Cesare needs to do the actual carving and fulfill his ambitions, but once you accept that he’s there, your planning and confidence blow even him out of the water.  This is the way I believe that it worked, with your twin ambitions and different abilities complementing, building, and scaring the hell out of everyone including each other.  This is it.

Dear Cesare: Ah, to be young and devious.  Francois Arnaud got to showcase the range of his talent here, from vulnerable and wishing his mother could fill in for his best friend to creepy tormenter to possessive lover.  There was everything in that.  You showed everyone just exactly how in charge and fearsome you could be, even though we don’t get to see you filling out that position, you let us already see and enjoy it.  Thank you for that.

Dear Michiletto: I understand.  Your affair not only ended in killing your lover, but in proving that you were not, in fact, the most trustworthy companion ever.  You let down your master, yourself, and your lover.  No matter what, your hometown will fall and your family have a good chance of dying.  You came back to ensure that your work was finished, because “loyalty was his only code.”  You are not dead, though-you are a ghost wiling away in the shadows.  You can go wherever you want, take whatever you want, and disappear whenever you want, and you deserve that.  In my head you wander until you meet up with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, tossing coins that turn up heads and arguing about everything.  You’ll take one as a lover, convince them it’s okay to be unsure of their names, and kill off the cast of Hamlet all by yourself.  It’ll be epic and haunting.

Dear Lucrezia: Your arc has differed the most from what I expected and wished for your character.  I expected to see you growing in triumph, killing for the good of the family, and using your tie to your brother as leverage.  In spite of that…you have completely won me over.  This version walks a fine line between different tropes, but weaves them together seamlessly.  And Holliday Grainger sells the hell out of it.  I cannot not buy her emotions, her disillusions, her determination.  There is a part of me that really wants to be upset at how defeated she winds up here, how dependent, and yet….it was just too good not to love.

Dear Alfonso: I was so afraid they wouldn’t get around to killing you!  Thank you for being such a wonderful foil for everyone else.

Dear Vitelli: Well done, you!  You’ve got craft, foresight, initiative, and commonsense.  I foresee you going far.  I’m sorry I won’t get to see you setting yourself farther up from the pack by slyly setting them up and taking their castles until Cesare finally poisons you.  It’d have been fun.

Dear Caterina Sforza: You really ought to know all the weaknesses of your chosen fortress, milady.  That being said, in all fairness, you had only Rufio instead of Michiletto and one cannot badass everything themselves.  Although, the fact that someone was touching your wardrobe seemed an odd thing to show your claws at.  The defeat was exquisite.

Dear show: The camouflage cloaks rocked!  The music throughout the whole thing was just the right amount of suspenseful-enough buildup I was literally on edge, but not so much that it wore out over time.  The camerawork, particularly in the confessional scene with Pope Alexander VI and Lucrezia was just beautiful.  The bloody smudges on her at the end were perfect.  I know you had more to give.  You will be sorely missed.

 

The Borgia Bulletin 3×5 (The Wolf and the SPOILERS)

This is a hunting episode, with quarry enough for everyone!  That like never happens.  Yet it is still believable!  And cruel as well as convenient!  Huzzah!

Dear Cesare: The real name of this episode could’ve been Cesare Borgia-wooing is easy!  Of this season, actually-you woo them even when you’re really uncomfortable with it!  I’m so happy you found a wife you actually are comfortable with.

Dear Charlotte Bride: You’re kindof too cute to be on this show or in this family.  I’m really excited to see how you handle your first big curve and I’m all ready to give you a PANTHER! to either celebrate or swipe at your reaction.  In the meantime, keep on keeping Francois Arnaud onscreen without clothes.

Dear Machiavelli: You need to show up more.  Period.

Dear Lucrezia: I’m sorry you couldn’t kill him yourself, really I am.  I do love the fact that you can let go and let Michiletto take care of you.  You, Michiletto, and Cesare make the perfect dysfunctional threesome.  I can’t even stand it.  Also, your last dress with the slitted puffed sleeves?  Gorgeous.

Dear Michiletto: Hoops of steel, you say!  I believe you, good sir!  I ALSO believe you are already exactly as loyal as the servant in “The Frog Prince” whose heart broke when he lost his master to the witch’s curse and so wound a band of iron around his chest to keep it together so he could go on living long enough to find his prince again.  EXACTLY.  I didn’t know I could love you more, and yet I do.

Dear King Ferdinand: These are the shrieking eels.  Keep them around on purpose and eventually SOMEONE’S gonna have to get eaten by the eels at this time.

Dear Nurse: Thank God you apparently take Giovanni out of his room mysteriously late at night, but…seriously, where on earth are you going??  It’s not like he has an actual bathroom or anyone asking to see him that late with Lucrezia gone or…anything.  I don’t understand it.  It was distracting.

Dear Bianca:  I really wanted to start this review by saying, “Scriptural dirty talk FTW!” but…then you just got so pitiful and wrenching.  It was an excellent progression and you executed it really well.  Go haunt Juan Borgia for me for awhile, okay?  I feel like you deserve to do more.  Also, I think you’ll be glad to know, you did manage to get your husband back for what he did, with a little assistance.

Dear Cardinal Sforza: I’ve always loved your ‘Cardinal Sforza is practical’ to ‘Cardinal Sforza can connive with anyone, bitch!’ arc, but never more so than today.  Today, you are officially an honorary Borgia.  All caps off to you, and I can’t wait for the day when you’re carrying around a vile of poison in yours.  Perhaps it has already come and we just haven’t seen it yet.

Dear Caterina Sforza: You continue to make me love you.  Don’t ever let up.

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 (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.