THE BORGIAS “Nobody” Review

THE BORGIAS “Nobody” Season 1 Episode 9 – And so ends season 1 of The Borgias, Showtime’s second foray into historical drama (after an admirable if languid stab with The Tudors). This time the second romp into a world of Catholicism, sex and murder was unfortunately timed, airing alongside a cluster of similarly themed shows (and when I say a cluster, I mean of course Starz’s Camelot and HBO’s Game of Thrones.) While The Borgias is equal, if occasionally better, than the former, I can’t say its better by much. I wasn’t aching for the next week’s episode each time I finished with the latest, and no plot point or character had any emotional impact on me.

For me, the problem was with the characters. I just did not care. Sure, week to week there were some I was beginning to latch on to, but then they transmogrified into someone else entirely episode to episode, even scene to scene: Cesare was supposed to be this resentful but unendingly loyal son, yet the show randomly threw him into a moral dilemma or they turned him into a cunning, calculating man capable of selfish murder.

Meanwhile, this was a show which promised a great performance from Jeremy Irons, yet they give Jeremy Irons, who is playing Pope Alexander VI, head of the Borgias (so not exactly your boring John Doe) nothing to do, and I mean nada. He talked, and because he has the world’s best voice that helped, but aside from looking bored on a throne or tracing his fingers up Guilia’s leg, he was there not as a pope, not as a father, not as head of one of the most venomous families in European history: he was there as Jeremy Irons.

I really don’t want to talk about this week’s episode. Of course I have to. But it was awful. There were almost no redeeming qualities to it, except that perhaps it was well shot and well acted. I stretched my believability last week when Lucrezia seduced the king of France and went cantering between two armies. It was kinda cool, and I don’t need to have things make sense all the time. But reducing Lucrezia’s marital rapist to a comedic impotence plotline filled with gags and fat women was just mind boggling..and that is literally almost all that happened. I mean sure, the king of France turned out to be more eager to make peace with God than war with the Pope, and sure Cesare and his sidekick were held hostage for about a minute by the armies of France, and sure Lucrezia gave birth to Freddie from Skins‘ baby but…yeesh.

I might consider this one of the worst season finales I’d ever seen if not for the fact that it was so forgettable. Sure, I’m going to have trouble with the Sforza storyline (wouldn’t it have made more sense, Cesare, to kill Sforza so Lucrezia, as his wife, inherits his fortune-damn the historical record, which is just a template on this show).

The season overall was fine. It was a decent way to kill an hour, but it was a pretty forgettable series. It does have potential though, so I’m hoping they pick up with season 2 and start to define these characters more effectively than these nine episodes did.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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