The Borgias (2011): Season 1, Episode 1 and Episode 2 – entitled The Poisoned Chalice and The Assassin respectively – is the beginning of a great new period-piece TV series, a consistent, worthy successor to Showtime’s The Tudors. Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons) is nearly as selfish and manipulative as Atia from HBO’s Rome but is still far from being as cold-blooded. Rodrigo’s ambitions and desires are the driving force in the Borgias household, controlling the destiny of all its inhabitants. When his ultimate acsension is complete, that web of control magnifies by a factor of one hundred. New enemies arise and it is these enemies, a lack of personal control, and jealousy which drive most of the drama during these two episodes.
The most interesting character in The Poisoned Chalice and The Assassin is Cesare Borgia (François Arnaud), who was forced into the church by his father against all of his wishes. Because of him, the viewer constantly watches a battle of desires vs. obligation and familial duty. Its a losing battle but one he fights none the less.
The second most interesting character is Micheletto (Sean Harris). At first he seems to be the product of the world he exists in, quickly switching allegiances. After a final, definitive switch and imbuing trust, he has only one master, Cesare. This was a very shrewd decision on Micheletto’s part, aligning himself with the most powerful family in Rome.
One of the funniest moments in The Assassin is when Rodrigo installs his new comely mistress Giulia Farnese (Lotte Verbeek) in the home of a late Cardinal (part of which can be viewed here: The Borgias (2011) “Destitute” TV Show Clip) under the guise of helping someone in need. There must be thousands of people in need in Rome, and at least a hundred other people that could have been taken off the streets and installed in the Cardinal’s residence along with Giulia but no. Only she can live in that huge palace. Hilarious.
I’m looking forward to the new episodes in this series. What did you think of the first two episodes of The Borgias?