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 3×9 (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.

The Borgia Bulletin 3×8 (Tears of SPOILERS)

Well, it is high time we got back to celebrations and heartbreak, isn’t it?

 

Dear Caterina: I must say, I’m a little disappointed in you.  I’d have expected you to realize the Pope would make money off all the Jubilee Year pilgrims at the same time he was figuring out how and have had your relic plan ready by the time it started.  Also, I think it would have gone over better if you’d let them come in to see and then you all were equally shocked and blessed by the “miracle.”  (Plus, of COURSE you add a miracle to it-always miracles!  Why did someone else have to say that???)

Dear Lucrezia: Cannot wait to see what you’ll do next.  I assume you and Cesare have some sort of code you concocted as kids you can use?

Dear Michiletto: Goddammit!  He just had to twist that knife, didn’t he?  I think what you need is some time away thinking about how many people you can kill before Lucrezia poisons them all.

Dear Cesare: I thought you rode in with a group of your army guys, yes?  Why did only you and Michiletto go in the cave?  Where the hell were any of them when you came out??  That part felt a little off to me, but hey-if that’s what it takes to feel the love of God, sure.  Great calls on all the coding things.  I do love to see your Cesare-needs-to-cut-a-bitch face, but just let Lucrezia kill this one, okay?  You boys already got the last king for her.

Dear Frederigo: Great pitch, creepy presence, and dastardly plots=excellent villainy.  I give you an A.  If you want to keep it though, I’m gonna need to know what you’re getting out of Caterina Sforza.  I had assumed you’d want a hostage and inside knowledge of the Borgias on your own account, but since you’re in a league, I’d like to know why.

Dear Herb Lady: How does everyone know about you??  You’re like, the go-to royal get-out-of-jail-free card, only by “free” they mean someone else dies or gets otherwise eliminated.  How did that happen?

Dear Mattai: Ya know, if Jews could just sabotage anything they want…I can’t even finish that.  Whatever, this episode needed some fire and I’m in favor of Jews living equally anyhow.

The Borgia Bulletin 3×7 (Lucrezia’s SPOILERS)

Glorious, bloody brouhaha.  Bring it, Borgias!

 

Dear Rodrigo: Again, I love the hat!  Also, how you make Vanozza laugh about Farnese now.  It’s all very full-circle.  Send Giulia some honey as a wedding gift.  (Also, apparently her husband she was staying away from and needed punishment for avoiding originally died sometime?)

Dear Cesare: I LOVE how without saying it you still Told Dad Off for not giving you more power and trust in the first place, because then he could’ve kept some control and now you’ve got another leader-type to satisfy better.  How nice of you to warn Machiavelli.  Was expecting you to point out that last time you guys had Benito it didn’t help with Caterina at some point, though.

Dear set people: Last episode we heard that giant statue was of a bull, why was there a horse head this time?  Eh?

Dear Lucrezia: Never trust people who care too much about their lap dogs.  It’s just a good rule of thumb.  On the other hand, we can totally overlook that lack of a nemesis thing for awhile, cause now not only have you got one, but he’s another king of Naples you get to fight with!  Excellent!

Dear Alfonso: Stop whining.

Dear Rufio: Don’t you dare call yourself Michiletto’s double, you are not good enough for that.  Fuck you.

Dear Michiletto: What were you about, letting Cesare just wander into an obviously infested house?

Dear Frederigo: Thus far, you are an excellent nemesis.  Do not let me down.

 

The Borgia Bulletin 3×6 (RelicSPOILERS)

This episode is building, all plot, and only one thing made me take the time out to review it instead of going straight on:

 

Dear Pope Alexander VI, BEEKEEPER!!: This should totally be the new thing-everyone must buy my personal honey or no forgiveness!  All crusaders must pay for a stock of my honey-it’ll keep you blessed in the Holy Land!  Unforgivable suicide, you say?  Bury them with my personal honey and I’ll make it Purgatory!  Keep coming back and anointing their graves with Vatican honey and they’ll get to Heaven just as soon as I get some Treasury fullness!  Plague around and people dropping like flies?  Get Vatican honey and I’ll let you fly away like bees!  See, Rodrigo?  I’m coming up with money ideas for you-wear the beekeeper hat more and I’ve always got your back.  Ahhhhh, I am satisfied.

But also, now that I’m here, Dear Cesare, your time has finally arrived!  Am so glad to see you enjoying it so thoroughly.

Also, Cardinal Newbies, just HAD to battle it out for who has the best “spear” already, eh?  And try to be as sneaky as your predecessors.  *shakes head*  Perhaps you learned nothing from the Banquet of Chestnuts, but in case you forgot-secret writing is Always Problematic.  Battles of Spears always have Losers.  Also, if the Pope wants relics, he’s gonna get relics, don’t stand in his way, fools.  (Cardinal Sforza is a whole different thing, just because he got to deny the Shroud of Turin doesn’t mean you Cardinewbies can go around trying to deny him things.)

Dear Overly Symbolic Fireworks: I think you should be an option on all TV shows now.  Need to liven up a bittersweet love scene?  Get the Overly Symbolic Fireworks in-it’ll be festive without losing or mocking the drama!  Need to keep the flames going between a couple who haven’t got enough screentime for anything sexy?  Fireworks activate!  Endless possibilities, you guys, endless.

Dear Michiletto: Of all fictional characters, I would most like to have you help me babysit children.  Also, I reeeeally want some kind of crossover where you get to hang out with Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelson version), because you would be his perfect friend.  Of course, he’d probly be sulky that his perfect friend is gay, the opposite of fancy, and actually liked having a master, but let’s be honest: He’ll want to eat you, you’ll want to fuck him, you’ll ENJOY his mindfuckery and he’ll enjoy your torture-it’s just a match made in Heaven.  Plus, you’re both masters at being behind the scenes, quiet persuasion, and the quiet speeches.  Yeah.  This is happening in my head now.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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