The Showtime drama about the original crime family, The Borgias, is coming to an end after three seasons. Creator Neil Jordan told Deadline, however, that he originally saw the show going four seasons. But while filming the season 3 finale, Jeremy Irons (who plays Pope Alexander VI) told Jordan that “this feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.”
Jordan said he wasn't sure if he had enough material for another 10 episodes or if Showtime would commit to another season. He would have settled for a two-hour movie to wrap up the storyline, and Showtime commissioned the script and he wrote it. Ultimately though, Showtime decided it would be better to end with the season 3 finale.
The series finale will air on June 16 on Showtime. Tune in to see medieval scheming, murder, and incest one last time.
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For the first part of The Borgias Season 3, it seemed like Rome was doomed. Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) seemed to be building alliances that threated the very existence of The Borgia Pope (Jeremy Irons), Rodrigo Borgia's dynasty. And with Juan Borgia dead at the end of Season 2, the Pope's army was basically destroyed. But, the pope's other son, Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud), has made it his mission this summer to take control and get Rome back on her feet.
After last week's episode, it was clear that the tides are shifting and that Cesare's plan to build a massive army is in action. But, the episode did leave some questions. Is Cesare building an army to support his father or to take his own power over Italy?
Until those questions are answered, here is the status on the two opposing armies in Italy at this point in the season.
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia is the Pope's son.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans. He is now watching over Cesare's sister-lover, Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger), in Naples.2. France: Cesare went to France and annulled the French King's marriage. In return, he got a French bride and a French army.3. Band of Italy's Bastard Sons: The second and illegitimate sons of Italy's greatest families have sided with Cesare instead of Caterina Sforza.
Lost Allies:Rome has the advantage right now.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Cesare won France to Rome's side. This means that he has to give them Milan and Naples, though.2. Cesare has also stolen the band of Italy's bastard sons from the enemy.
Disadvantages:1. It almost seems like Cesare is trying to build an army to support himself and not his father. This could create a division within Rome.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee)
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey.
Allies: 1. No new allies at this point.
Lost Allies:1. Italy's wealthy families are now supporting Cesare.2. The King of Naples is now dead.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Leaving Milan's doors open to Cesare's army and leaving the city empty of defense.
Disadvantages:1. Lost alliances.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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We are about to be three episodes deep into Season 3 of the Showtime series The Borgias and so far, it's clear that the world is against Rome. At the end of Season 2, we were left wondering if the Borgia Pope's enemies had succeeded in killing him. But during Episode 1 of this season, we learned that like a cockroach, the Pope can survive just about anything. He even came back to life after facing one of the deadliest poisons known at the time. But just because he is alive and now well doesn't mean that his enemies have given up the plan to take his life. In fact, this season, it seems like even more enemies have ganged up against Rodrigo Borgia and his unholy ways.
At the end of Episode 2, it was clear that Rome is heading towards war. But who is on whose side this week? Because The Borgias' shifting alliances always leave you scratching your heads, we're here to help you track where the battle lines are drawn. Who hates who? And what should their strategies be? Read on to find out!
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons): The Borgia pope is hated in the Roman Empire for his greed and the use of God to promote his illegitimate family.
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud) is the Pope's son and a former Cardinal who is now in charge of the Papal army.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans.2. Cardinal Sforza (Peter Sullivan): He switched to the Pope's side when the Pope lived after being poisoned. The Pope has used this cardinal to help eliminate the enemy cardinals.3. Possible: Cardinal Farneze: We have yet to meet this character, but since the Pope's affair with Giulia Farneze has come to an end, she has asked him to make her brother a Cardinal — and Giulia and the Pope ended their affair on good terms.4. Possible: France: Unlike last season, France is in bed with the Pope. A new king rules France and is stuck in a marriage to a quite undesirable woman. When the French Ambassador asked the Pope to dissolve the King's marriage, Borgia saw this as an opportunity to create a new allie. Now, he plans on marrying Cesare to a French woman to build the alliance.
Lost Allies:1. Prince Alfonso (Augustus Prew): Alfonso refused to bed Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger) on their wedding night because he felt jaded by her family's intentions for the union. Alfonso instead spent their wedding night alone and crying as Lucrezia gave herself to her brother Cesare.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. The Pope plans to pin Juan Borgias' (Rodrigo's second son who Cesare actually killed during Season 2) murder on Caterina. 2. The Pope eliminated the cardinals in the conclave who did not support the Borgia initiative. This was done by stripping them of their titles, riches, and property.
Disadvantages:1. The Papal army is defunct and not well manned.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) and her family are openly against the Pope and his evil ways.
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey who is in charge of building the Sforza alliances.
Allies: 1. Wealthy Families of Rome who hate the Borgias: Last week, Caterina assigned Rufio to start aligning the sons of Rome's prominent families to help her take down the Pope. The division was clearly shown at Lucrezia's wedding during Episode 2.2. King of Naples: Lucrezia's union with Alfonso was supposed to mean that Rome and Naples would be united, but because Lucrezia refused to part with her illegitimate son when she moved to Naples, Alfonso's uncle (the King of Naples) decided to pledge his allegiance to Caterina.
Lost Allies:1. Cardinal Orsini (David Dencik): After the Pope stripped him of his title, Orsini asked for a final confession. During this confession, he tried to kill the Pope. Instead, the Pope took out Orsini.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Create allies with all the forces in Rome that hate the Pope.2. By creating these alliances, it's clear that Caterina will have a larger and more dedicated army as opposed to the depleted papal forces.
Disadvantages:1. The Borgias never seem to die.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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And away we go: the start of yet another season of Showtime’s The Borgias. Another wild ride through Never-Never Land.
This newest round of episodes opened on Sunday night with us viewers in agonies of suspense (or so the producers have been hoping) because of how season two closed. When we left him last year, the evil Rodrigo Borgia, who bears a startling resemblance to Jeremy Irons in drag and has been living in the Vatican under the name Pope Alexander VI, was on the verge of shuffling off his mortal coil. Not because, in the manner of J. R. Ewing, he had been shot. No, the successes of the past must not be copied too closely, and Alexander is after all a Borgia, which means that this is the fifteenth century and small arms have not yet been invented. The pope’s medical difficulties stem from his having swallowed some poisoned wine. The outlook is scary indeed (or so the producers hope).
But wait! In the nick of time Alexander’s daughter Lucrezia, who we now learn has been studying the occult when not engaged in her noble crusades to reform the international church and bring justice and mercy to the poor of Rome, comes forward with a remedy unknown to the physicians of her (or for that matter any other) time. Like a younger and distractingly luscious version of MacBeth’s witches, she sets up a kind of Renaissance-era Weber barbecue pit in the papal bedchamber. And, almost as quickly as you can say Holy Smoke, brews up a concoction that soon has the old boy back on his feet and plotting new kinds of skullduggery.
Exciting stuff. Or so the producers hope; you can judge that for yourself. Interesting stuff in any case – interesting and amusing, especially where factual accuracy is concerned. Because in the whole colorful history of the Borgias, nothing of the kind ever happened. Nobody ever poisoned Pope Alexander, and so far as we know nobody ever tried to poison him. There is no reason — perhaps it is advisable to repeat with emphasis that there is absolutely no reason — to suspect Lucrezia of ever trying to poison or otherwise harm, much less murder, a single living soul. Do check it out, please. It’s not that hard. The truth about these matters is available in every respectable biography of Alexander, Lucrezia or Cesare Borgia published in the past hundred years.
The question of how and where The Borgias diverges from the historical record is unusually challenging, and not just because writer-producer Neil Jordan twists the facts. Creators of costume dramas have always played fast and loose with the facts and always will; you’d have to be a newcomer to Planet Earth to be shocked or even surprised. At the end of season two, Jordan had Cesare torturing Friar Savonarola of Florence. And admitting to his dear old dad the pontiff that he was himself responsible for the murder of his brother Juan. None of this ever happened, either, but so what? Though in fact Cesare probably never laid eyes on Savonarola, and certainly never had him tortured and had nothing to do with his ending up burnt at the stake, and though you’d be hard-pressed to find a historian who thinks Cesare even probably guilty of having Juan killed, again so what? Such fiddling with the truth is standard operating procedure — it’s how showbiz works. Anybody who complains had better be prepared to be laughed at as a dessicated old pedant.
No, what has set The Borgias apart from the start is that Jordan — clever lad that he is — is less inclined to merely tweak the facts, or even grossly distort them, than to send them back to the library basement and replace them wholesale with the products of his own imagination. He’s truly in a class by himself in this regard, and in a way quite admirable; Shakespeare’s history plays, by comparison, read like the work of an obsessively scrupulous scholar. Take the business of Lucrezia becoming an ecclesiastical reformer and a kind of pioneer social worker; it would be no more ludicrous to show her taking up hammer and chisel and carving Michelangelo’s David. Ditto for the scenes in which she and the pope’s mistresses, no less, undertake to purge the Church of its corruptions (could anything be sillier?)
Ditto for the scene where Cesare disembowels Lucrezia’s first husband...and the bit where Lucrezia rides forth to intercept the king of France and save Rome from destruction...and Juan’s failed seige of Caterina Sforza’s castle....
Et cetera almost infinitum. There are way too many examples to be listed here. What they have in common is that none of them ever happened, period.
Which is not to say that Jordan is not a great showman, or that, on his own terms, he is doing a single thing wrong. He’s on record as saying that accuracy is not his bag; his thing is entertainment. He’s said also that “history is for the textbooks.” Anyone interested in the true story of the Borgias would be wise to take him at his word.
G. J. Meyer is a former Woodrow Wilson Fellow with an M.A. in English literature from the University of Minnesota, a onetime journalist, and holder of Harvard University’s Neiman Fellowship in Journalism. He has taught at colleges and universities in Des Moines, St. Louis, and New York. His books include A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, Executive Blues, and The Memphis Murders, winner of an Edgar Award for nonfiction from the Mystery Writers of America. In 2011 he published The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty. His most recent Book, The Borgias: The hidden history is on sale Now and can be Purchased at Amazon. He lives in Goring-on-Thames, England.
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The Borgias: the most hated, lustful, sinful, unrestrained, mischievous, wasteful, well-loved, revered, and hated family in Rome (and on all of TV). But loved by us! Yes, Season 2 has come to an end with several surprising twists and expected turns in fate, but this is only the beginning. Some of the highlights from last night's finale:
Pope Borgia: Dead or Alive?
He was forced out of Rome, exiled from his Cardinal's chair, defeated on multiple occasions, but Giuliano della Rovere didn't give up on his vendetta to kill the Borgia Pope. He spent all season undercover at a monastery training a young martyr how to take Borgia out. And as to be expected, Borgia took a sip of poisoned wine and fell to the floor at the end of the finale. Cesare Borgia ran to his father's side and as the blood spat out of his mouth, the pope looked as if Hell had already consumed his body — but, how could the Borgia family go on without such the key player? The one who runs the whole game, leads the family in and out of peril, and, well, is the only man alive who can "speak to God"? It can't. While we waited for this moment all season, it seems quite unlikely that the Pope is in fact dead. We've already seen two other characters survive this type of poisoning, so why shouldn't the Pope live on? After all, he has God on his side.
Saying Goodbye to the Evil Brother
Was Cesare truly rejoicing at the fact that his brother Juan was dead, or that he himself was the one that took Juan's life? The answer: Both! And the partial confession to their Father only made it ever-more evident that he hardly felt guilty being a cold-blooded killer. Still, the fact that he was willing enough to rid the world of such evil only makes Cesare that much more of a lovable character, murder and all. You can't help but like him, despite all his horrific extracurriculars (sleeping with married women while he is a priest, murdering his enemies in the name of revenge, and casting a lustful eye on his own sister, just to name a few). And compared to Juan, Cesare is a saint.
The fact is, Cesare rid Rome of its biggest rat: his brother Juan. But I can't help but wonder how long it really would have taken Juan to die on his own, either via the Crabs crawling up his body, or at the hand of his righteous Sforza enemy, or by overdosing during one of his Opium binges. One was sure to kill him, so in a way, Cesare just ended Juan's suffering. How nice of you, Cesare! Thank goodness Lucrezia no longer has to worry about Cesare threatening to take her son Giovanni's life. Bastard he may be, but Giovannie is the only child in the picture alive to carry on the next generation of the Borgias. Forget the Kardashian kids, this kid has a far worse family name to live up to.
Oh, and Cesare's body — was that bloating really from spending days in the Tiber or a side effect from the STDs that consumed his failing body?
Burning a Martyr
There is nothing surprising about the fact that Savonarola was burned at the stake. The Borgias always get what they want — and if you don't agree with them, well, then to hell with you. Literally. Of course, Cesare forged Savonarola's signature and then lied to his Father about the truth. But who cares, honestly? This is a man that knows how to make things happen — and it doesn't hurt that he has Micheletto on his side. But the most awesome part about this death was watching Savonarola spit on Pope Borgia's face, even though his tongue had been hacked off earlier on in the episode. I bet you were jealous too!
You couldn't miss how awkward it was to watch Lucrezia Borgia dance on her wedding day with her brother Cesare. Because it's totally awkward to watch any of their interactions. Whether they are locked in a loving stare in front of a fountain or joking about a future wedding, these two have the most almost-incestuous relationship on TV. It's only a matter of time before we see a brother-sister hookup — and even Lucrezia's new husband seemed to realize that his new wife is bound to be bedded by her brother. Let's all imagine that family Christmas letter.
So, fellow Borgias fans, thank goodness there's a Season 3 upcoming in 2013 to satiate our unquenchable thirst for 15th century drama. Still, that's a lot of time to just sit back and wait to see if Rodrigo lives to be the Pope of Rome another day. Then again, it might just take that long to get terrible Lucrezia-Borgia sexual tension out of our brains.
How Much is The Borgias Like The Godfather?
Showtime Orders More Borgias
For Showtime subscribers, April 8 will be a good night to tell all your friends and relatives that you're swamped with work and can't make any plans—the night marks the return of three of the network's big series: Nurse Jackie, The Big C and The Borgias.
Nurse Jackie, the medical dramedy starring Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton as a model medical employee juggling her hectic professional life in the medical field and her harried personal life, will return to Showtime for a fourth season.
The Big C chronicles the struggles of Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney), a high school teacher and family woman who is stricken with Stage-IV skin cancer in the midst of a life including an immature husband, a wreckless teenaged son and a bipolar brother. The Big C will return to Showtime for a third season.
The Borgias depicts the rise and reign of the Italian dynasty the Borgia family during the fifteenth century, and stars Jeremy Irons as the family patriarch Robert Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. The Borgias will find its second season on Showtime come April.
In other Showtime news, Entertainment President David Nevins has announced a documentary on former vice president Dick Cheney currently being developed.
Melissa Rivers, daughter of comedian and author Joan Rivers, reveals in the April 6 issue of TV Guide that she and husband John Endicott have separated. Rivers and Endicott tied the knot on Dec. 12, 1998 at New York's Plaza Hotel in a winter wonderland ceremony that included 100 white-painted trees and more than 20,000 flowers. Rivers told the magazine: "I had a pretty wedding. I made the pretty house. I had the pretty baby, I had the handsome husband. I had the career, he had the career, with me at the gate, waving.
"And the reality is: I'm flawed. He's flawed. I'm still in the honeymoon stages of trying to stay above the fray, and I'm going to be civil, but there have been days when I've just wanted to freak."
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Tara Reid, who plays a college newspaper journalist in National Lampoon's Van Wilder, told Newsday that she was attracted to the role to see "what it was like on the other side." In the film, Reid's character, Gwen, has to rewrite a piece that she feels is not very fair--which she thinks journalists don't do enough. "Some of the things people write about me are so not right, or so off, and I think, 'God, wouldn't it be nice if someone, one day, went back and opened their eyes?'"
Susan Sarandon, Leelee Sobieski and Robin Tunney will star in director George Hickenlooper's indie film A Whale in Montana. According toThe Hollywood Reporter, the film--a cross between Ghost and In the Bedroom--follows a widowed doctor (played by Sarandon) working in a small town and raising her 7-year-old daughter. The film also stars Donald Sutherland, David Strathairn and Rory Cochrane and is budgeted at less than $10 million.
Christina Ricci is in talks to star in Borgia, a historical drama set in the 15th century. She will join Ewan McGregor, who signed on last week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ricci will segue into the project after she completes shooting Woody Allen's untitled project.
Jimmy Fallon of Saturday Night Live is the latest star to join the untitled Allen project, which begins shooting this spring. Like most Allen films, the plot is being kept under wraps. Fallon will join Ricci, Jason Biggs, Glenn Close and Danny DeVito.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus told the Sunday edition of The Washington Post that unlike her two former Seinfeld co-stars, the show has been a blessing for her. NBC is hoping her new comedy, Watching Ellie, will not go the way of Jason Alexander and Michael Richards.
In an effort to distinguish its flagship series Raw on TNN and Smackdown on UPN, the World Wrestling Federation has designated specific wrestlers exclusively to each show, Variety reports. Raw, which airs Monday nights, will feature the Undertaker, Kane, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Lita and the Hardy Boyz, while Thursday night's Smackdown will include the Rock, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Edge and Stacy Kiebler. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Jazz will float between the two shows for the time being.
Musicians Charlie Daniels and Aaron Neville spent Easter Sunday counseling inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where almost 90 percent of the prison's inmates are serving life sentences. The effort was part of Operation Starting Line, a coalition of more than 20 faith-based organizations that, through religion, try to help inmates turn their lives around , the AP reports.
Jazz history is getting some long-overdue recognition in New Orleans, La. The Preservation Resource Center and the New Orleans Jazz Commission launched an ambitious project to designate long-ignored landmarks in the city's music history by placing their first of 100 "jazz house" historic plaques on a home in New Orleans, La. The plaque was placed on the home where Armand J. Piron--the leader of a popular society band, teacher and music publisher--once lived, the AP reports.