Posted by : Wendy B Friday, 6 July 2012

I have to beg Jeremy Irons’ forgiveness for deciding to initially dump The Borgias from my DVR list last season because I had too many other new shows on the go without even giving it a chance. Better late than never, at least!

The series initially seemed too episodic, with each episode wrapping up fairly neatly with a few strings to tie it to the next. It seemed to move through the events too quickly. In retrospect, this was simply the need to establish the necessary framework of relevant events and by the middle of the season, the episode-to-episode connections were more coherent and the flow much smoother.

I suppose first I have to talk about Cesare Borgia. Get him out of the way. He’s introduced mid-coitus and the assumption is that he’s just another handsome playboy. I don’t find him that physically attractive and I keep wanting to shave that damn too long for stubble/too short for a beard facial hair thing he has going on and part his hair a little more to the right. But his sex romp quickly turned into the part of his character that makes me love him so much: his relationship with his little sister, Lucrezia. It is a beautiful protective big brother, younger sister relationship where it is clear that he loves her dearly and would truly kill anyone who harms her. This loyalty extends to his father, where it takes an interesting twist. Cesare does not want the destiny his father has laid upon him, but his filial devotion ensures he will adhere to it, nonetheless. As with Lucrezia, Cesare will kill to protect his father and his father’s throne, but Cesare is not merely a ruthless killer. He is clever, and his employ of the assassin Micheletto creates yet another interesting layer for the character.

Lucrezia is another favourite because of her depth and potential. She could be passed off as young and naïve, but as the season progresses, she reveals that she can be as clever and resourceful as her brother, if given the right circumstances, though she still has much to learn, being so young.

Juan Borgia is the only Borgia child who, thus far, seems to be rather two-dimension and exactly what he seems to be: a loose cannon more interested in playing at swords (as in, the one in his scabbard and the one in his pants), ill-suited for his role as general of his father’s army – the role Cesare believes himself to be the more appropriate choice. Not that Cesare would so betray his brother, but perhaps Juan might, in his selfish, fun-loving ways, might.

There is a fourth Borgia child, Goiffre, who is the youngest and appeared out of no where, as far as I can remember, to serve the plot purpose of marriage.

There are numerous other characters, all of them very interesting, unique and well played by their respective actors. There is a lot of subtlety to the acting that I really like. None of the supporting cast go over the top, save where necessary. They are subdued and fit into the story perfectly and serve as perfect support for the main character, who, alas, I appreciate the least. Jeremy Irons does well enough in the role, but I just don’t feel one way or the other about Rodrigo Borgia as a character. I don’t quite know what his motivations are and where his loyalties lie. Is he truly a man of god? Is he only after power? What does he want to achieve with the papal throne? Does he care about the people? What purpose does he serve as pope? Are the alliances he seeks to forge to protect the throne or just the Borgia name that everyone else hates so? Mostly he just seems like a selfish man who takes the love and loyalty of his family for granted, setting aside their desires for his own personal gain.

There is, of course, a story in here, which is based on history. It now behoves me to do a little historical research to see how well the series is portraying both the events and the people involved. But truly, it is the characters that advance the series. The events come at the machinations of these people and my husband and I watch each episode not merely to see what happens next in the grand scheme of things, but to see how each character causes and/or deals with each situation.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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