The Borgias Season Three Review

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With Juan out of the picture, Cesare’s transformation into “The Prince” of Machiavelli’s famous political treatise is well underway and season three of The Borgias really belongs to him… and Francois Arnaud.

Cesare finally consummates his incestuous passion for his sister Lucrezia, raises his own personal army when his father refuses to give him control of the Papal Army, douses a traitor with sulfur and sets him alight, and generally becomes a force to be reckoned with for everyone from his old nemesis Caterina Sforza to the new King and Queen of France to his own father. His arc is compelling, well acted, and produces some of the best television of the show’s entire run.

On the downside, poor Lucrezia spends much of the season stuck in Naples with a wet blanket husband and his comically evil relatives (none of whom, alas, are even a tenth the fun of Augustus Prew’s cackling Alfonso back in season one), and you can almost feel Neil Jordan and his writers losing interest in some of the secondary characters. Giulia and della Rovere virtually disappear, and Micheletto gets saddled with a ludicrously improbable gay romance. Even Alexander himself gets a rather mixed bag, plot-wise, though a fairly entertaining one. (Madwomen! Scheming Jews! Murder in the consistory!)

Sadly, the fun is never to continue, as the show was cancelled by Showtime. Though uneven throughout its run, when The Borgias was good, it was very, very good, and its premature cancellation was a sad loss to its fans, and to television.

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My rating: (4 / 5)

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