What I Loved and Hated about The Borgia’s Season 3.

This review will naturally contain *spoilers* so you know….don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens

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What I loved.

  • Micheletto
    • How cool is Micheletto?  The guy is awesome.  It’s like kill this guy, so there you go it’s done.  His brutality and assassination techniques are some of the best bits of the show.
    • I thought his relationship with the spy was a bit out of character because he has shown no emotion throughout (excluding towards his loyalty to Cesare), yet the relationship betrayal seemed to really affect him.
    • Because ginger’s are people too.
  • Set Design
    • Gorgeous set design, you really feel like you are in 15/16th century Italy; it really helps to set the scene and gives the show a feeling of epicness.
  • Cesare
    • I have always seen Cesare as the main character of the Borgia’s, but in other seasons he has shared the load much more than he did in the 3rd season where he very much came to the fore as the most important character.
    • It is cool to see the character development that has happened to Cesare (and most of the other characters) throughout the series because it is quite severe.  The series is of course set over approximately 9 years so the personality change in growth in the character should be high and the writers have caught that growth from a boy to a man very well.
    • It is nice to see that they do or were beginning to show the tactical prowess that Cesare had in real life, rather than making him seem like a bit of a daddy’s boy by always relying on the Pope as in previous seasons.
    • Damn Cesare likes killing his brother’s that’s 3 so far, bit of a connection going on here.
    • Nice beard.
  • Scheming
    • The Borgia’s does lots of things well; but what it does best is the scheming and backstabbing of its characters.  It seems that everyone in 15/16th century Europe enjoyed a good bit of scheming; which in many ways still hasn’t changed (damn you Angela Merkel stop fiddling with other countries and making them better!).
  • Assassination attempts
    • One of the best scenes was when one cardinal attacks the Pope and they have a little scuffle which ends with the Pope wearing red instead of his usual white.
  • Machiavelli
    • He isn’t in many scenes but when he is in them he is awesome and so smooth.

 

What I liked.

  • Cardinals
    • Priests of the day could do with watching this and reading their history, after all it is pretty simple; woman (or even man depending on your sexual preferences) yes, little boy no.  Pretty simple formula, which the cardinal’s in the Borgia’s follow pretty well.
  • Assassin’s Creed
    • I am of course talking about the game, which if you have played deals with the exact same time period in two of its games (Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood).
    • It is interesting how in AC the Borgia’s are the main antagonists, when in the Borgia’s they are the protagonists.  Although you notice them as being horrible people, you still want them to succeed.
    • It is funny  how things fall in history, because the well held belief is that the Borgia’s were a brutal family however history was written by their enemies, so who really knows.
  • Lucrezia
    • Don’t get me wrong she is still a bit of a self-privileged cow but she began to show character development that was more in line with the other Borgia’s.
    • Did nobody tell her having sex with your brother is wrong?  Clearly not.
  • Caterina Sforza
    • She has went down in legend as the as a woman willing to do anything to maintain her own personal standing, and the Borgia’s followed that up by making her the main antagonist of season 3.
    • It isn’t often in period pieces that the main antagonist is a woman, but the Borgia’s went for it and it worked really well.  At no point did you think that she wasn’t genuine competition to Cesare, and that is of the upmost importance.
    • Her best scene was when she showed up to Lucrezia’s wedding and kissed the Pope’s ring in front of the crowd.  It was just after she had made an attempt on his family’s life and the tension between the two characters was thick and meaty.  It wasn’t quite as good as the scene she had in season 2 on top of Forli, when Juan stood below with her son held captive.  It was still very good though.

 

What I disliked.

  • I missed Juan
    • I know he got knocked off in the last season but the show missed him.
  • Pope Alexander
    • It is weird because he used to be one of my two favourite characters, but season 3 was very weak for the Pope.  Cesare has always been the main character, but the Pope in the past was next.  This season it felt like he was nothing more than a supporting role, which is a waste of Jeremy Irons immense talents.
  • Della Rovere
    • He was the antagonist of the first two seasons and made a triumphant return to the Vatican in the first episode, only to disappear after the Pope had awoken never to be seen again.  Now I’m sure he would have shown up in the 4th season if it weren’t for…..I’ll get to that later.
  • Scenery destruction
    • Now I know they aren’t actually destroying historical artifacts, however it’s like ‘noooo the historical significance’ because these people will have destroyed similar things when they were around.
  • Alfonso
    • What a pansy.
  • Incest
    • I know it happened and I am glad that they didn’t just ignore it because it is a taboo subject, but it’s still pretty weird (even if the actors aren’t related).

 

What I hated.

  • Cancelled
    • Seriously Showtime?  The plan for The Borgia’s is to make a 4 season series, and you finish it after 3 seasons?  I mean come on!  What a slap in the face that is to the fans that have sat and watched this show.  Is it the best show in the world?  No but it is a good show and was not deserving of being cancelled so abruptly, especially after it had shown steady viewing figures throughout the season.  I understand that it is an expensive show to produce but to cancel it in the manner you did (after the season 3 finale) was disgusting.  At least HBO gave Rome a chance to wrap up the story when it was cancelled (by giving them notice) and it allowed for them to give a satisfying ending.  What we now have in the Borgia’s is an ending that historically doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, it leaves it looking like the Borgia’s are on the up when in fact they are about to soon be on the down.  It is all made worse by the fact that they were offered a two hour movie piece to wrap the season up and they turned it down!  Are you kidding me Showtime?  Come on guys, talk about another slap in the face.  The whole thing is disgusting and so disappointing, which is sad because I think Showtime produce some good shows.  I just get the feeling you wouldn’t get this kind of treatment from AMC or HBO.
  • The ending
    • I thought for the ending of a season it was well done, for the ending of a series it was awful.  That isn’t the writers fault but Showtime’s (damn you Showtime!).
  • Historical inaccuracies
    • It is something that bothers me because I love history and often when I watch shows like these I will go and read up on the history of the time.  It happens all the time that TV shows have inaccuracies, and it’s just little things that bother me.  Like in Braveheart (I know it’s a movie but I am Scottish) when Mel Gibson can’t speak in a Scottish accent or Robert the Bruce meets William Wallace (which didn’t happen) or Wallace nails the soon to be king’s wife and it turns out it’s his baby (who knows but highly unlikely); all of this is shit (still a good movie, it won an Oscar! [god knows why]).  Although the Borgia’s was never as bad as Braveheart, the historical inaccuracies are sloppy.
  • What happened to the other son?
    • When the Pope realises that Juan is dead he talks about only having one son…..em…..what about the little guy that married that hot chick (Emmanuelle Chriqui)?  Bad writing.

 

 

There you go, that is it the end of the Borgia’s.  I liked the show fine, and am obviously disappointed that it has been cancelled so close to them ending the show as a whole.  I was surprised that it was renewed after the first season because it was ok, but it found its form in the 2nd and 3rd seasons and with the fall of the Borgia’s being the plan for the 4th it could really have into its own.  It seems like short term thinking from Showtime and of course it is a poor way to treat your fans.

The one major complaint that I have for the Borgia’s as a series is that it never actually managed to fulfil its potential.  They initially advertised it as the original crime family, but it never took it to that next level like a Soprano’s did.  The history of the Borgia’s is a particularly brutal one, but the Borgia’s (show) never truly showed this side to that extent.  Not going overboard with the language or the brutality (although it was rather bloody at times [not GOT bloody though]) is odd considering that it is on a cable channel but all of it is incidental.

I doubt the Borgia’s will ever go down as a classic (because it isn’t), and it is a shame that its legacy will be hampered (similarly to Rome but not in the same way) by being cancelled early and not being able to have a true final episode, which is a shame because the series and the fans deserved it.

 

 

Well, let me know what you thought of the 3rd season of the Borgia’s and the series as a whole.  Tell me your thoughts on how the show was cancelled so unceremoniously.  All comments are welcome.

4 thoughts on “What I Loved and Hated about The Borgia’s Season 3.”

  1. I totally agree that the early cancellation is very bad. If you’re going to tell the story then tell the whole story. I believe the other European Borgia series is going to complete the story over its 3 seasons. I have seen seasons 1 & 2 and prefer it although it was hard getting into it at first as it doesn’t flow as well as the showtime series. And all the different accents of the actors involved took some getting used to! However it goes into much more depth and the focus in season 1 is on the Vatican politics and not just centred on the Borgia family. For example the first 5 episodes are about Rodrigo Borgia scheming to become the next Pope and all the intrigue inside the Vatican, whereas in the showtime series they covered that very quickIy.

    I agree with nearly all your points about season 3 of the showtime version. I have always loved historical dramas but in recent years they have become very lax in historical accuracy and tend to be just glossy soap operas. Both” Rome” and “The Tudors” were disappointing -compare them to say, the six wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R, both BBC productions of 1969/1970 and you can see that the history aspect today is given scant regard compared to how it looks etc. Today you are just given a “feeling” of the period involved but there is little depth. I am hoping that the “great” historical drama will make a comeback and that these pretenders with their nice CGI shots and little else will just go away. I doubt it will happen but I can hope!

    1. The other Borgia TV show you refer to I was aware of but had just assumed it was not in English because it was made by Italian’s and the French I had thought. Seeing as that is not the case, I might give it a watch because much like yourself I am also a fan of historical dramas.

      Your point on how historical dramas are made now is very true, it is as if they don’t care is something is wrong as long as it suits their story that they want to tell. However what I don’t think they understand is that these people (or time periods) have went down in legend because they were so interesting, and really they shouldn’t need to change the facts. It would be like making a WW2 show and making the end of the war the killing of Hitler because it makes for a better story.

  2. Thanks for your reply. Just wanted to give you a bit more info on the other Borgia series. It is well worth a look. It is available via netflix i believe and there are DVDs available though on the expensive side! It is produced by Tom Fontana who made the very gritty prison drama “OZ” which I really liked. He produces uncompromising TV and his Borgia series is the same. The brutality and gore that you mention is missing in the showtime version is very present at times and some torture/execution scenes actually do shock-if you watch you will know exactly what I mean! American actor John Doorman, from “The Sopranos” is Pope Alexander and it seems the casting is very intentional as he initially does a “Godfather” type performance. As it goes on this improves, and there is a good supporting cast including many British actors, such as Art Malik (of Jewel in the Crown fame) as his secretary/aide and many of the scheming cardinals. The actor playing Cesare is Irish actor Mark Ryder, who plays him with an English accent and is blue-eyed although his brother Juan is played by a French actor with swarthy looks and a French accent.. Plus Lucrezia is played by a German actress with a German accent. Go figure! Despite this it does a good job and season 2 has a higher budget and is quite gripping at times. Hope you enjoy if you decide to watch!
    best wishes

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