The Borgias Review: The French Destruction

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"Death, On A Pale Horse" was definitely the best episode since the two-part series premiere of The Borgias.  Bringing the war aspects to the forefront was an intelligent move in keeping things interesting at this point in the season.

As each episode went along, the workings of Della Rovere were moving slowly and were quite boring at times, but they certainly had a purpose.  It took the traitorous Cardinal a while to figure out the best strategy for taking down Pope Alexander, but now that he has, everything seems to be coming into place for him.

Death, On A Pale Horse Picture

The fact that Della Rovere has put so much work into making this happen, made his realization so much more powerful.  When he watched King Charles and the rest of the unstoppable French Army destroy the first town they conquered, Della Rovere looked absolutely disgusted.

The man had no idea what he was getting himself into when he enlisted the French King to do his dirty work for him.  The killing of innocent women and children was not what he signed up for, which led to him pleading for the right to help Florence negotiate with the French.

And when the French made their way to Florence, the King did just pass on through, succumbing to the words of Machiavelli.  Watching the brutal monarch place his weapon in a backward position was both funny and foreshadowing of the types of leaders that might be able to take King Charles down.

Is Rodrigo Borgia that type of leader?  It doesn't seem so at this point.  He seems to just be getting over anxious about the whole thing.  Of course he wasn't prepared for all of this, but even so, the way he was freaking out to Cesare was not promising for the future of Rome.

Sending Giulia over to see Lucrezia, however, was a good move.  Upon finding out the obvious fact that Sforza is going to side with the French when push comes to shove, Giulia begins to help Lucrezia escape from the grounds.  And of course Lucrezia is pregnant with what we have to assume is Paolo's child.  The twists and turns never stop on The Borgias.

It's great that Giulia has helped and all, but if her story remains dormant, it will be a shame for the series.  It would have been a dumb move to make such a fuss about it early on and then forget about it forever.  On the other hand, if the plot dealing with the fact that the Pope just brought on a mistress comes up near the end of the season, it may have an even greater effect.  It continues to be a wait-and-see situation.

So The Borgias took a step in the right direction with "Death On A Pale Horse."  What did you all think of the episode?  And are you excited for remainder of this first season?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


A better episode.


This was an excellent episode. The characters differ from their namesakes a bit, but the point is well made. Charles is actually much younger, but is known for developing artillery, which comes across wonderfully in the 3 minute siege of Lucca. Its pillage accurately reflected war at the time and the explanation given by actor Charles was priceless and rarely expressed. The lesson to Machiavelli, wherein he reflected it was genius, was subtle and very well done. Della Rovere eventually becomes Pope Julius, oft known as the terrible or warrior, and this shows that background. It did omit he had been papal legate to France for 4 years, which is why they knew and trusted him at all. He was not a whole lot better than Rodrigo, since he was elevated by his Uncle, also a Pope, and held 8 bishoprics. The show does a nice job of intertwining religion, family, politics, history and sex. In Italy, it is impossible to understand one without the others. After all, the very same things put Mussolini into power in 1922 and eliminated him in 1943. SPOILER Warning: BTW, the sex between Juan and Sancia is necessary depending upon which of the two 'camps' the writers subscribed to in eventually resolving Juan's character. Again, I feel they have done a very good job of trying to condense 9 years of history into 1 miniseries without being too pedantic. And, the sex is great! :-) I wonder if all the women and men were so beautiful, lithe, clean...


This was a really good episode, and I agree with most of the review. For once I actually felt invested in the story, and Della Rovere's plans going awry, Lucrezia's problems with her husband and Giulia's intentions to help her all fit into place in this episode. If only we hadn't needed to suffer through the first six episodes to get here. I had just started to wonder if Della Rovere was such a good person after all, considering he'd just got nations to declare war on each other just to get rid of one evil family, and this episode highlighted that marvelously. He could see how his actions came into effect and the regret he felt because it was his doing. I liked the war scene and while I generally don't enjoy fight scenes where you carnage everyone for no reason, in this episode there was a very pressing political reason to destroy the village and its inhabitants. I thought the nunnery-scene with Cesare and his ex-lover-turned-nun was a fun call-back to the first episode of the Tudors, where Henry VIII was discussing with Bessie Blount (played by the same actress) that her husband wants to send her to a nunnery for her infidelity. The only thing that felt kind of detached from the story was Juan's continued tryst with his kid brother's wife. The sex was good, but the marriage to a 12-year-old is still creepy, and it had nothing to do with the rest of the story, unlike Lucrezia's marriage to Sforza. This episode also helped me understand Lucrezia's reasons for staying with her husband. Before, I didn't understand why she hadn't just sent word to Cesare and have mr. Sforza killed. This episode gave that explanation: she's staying with him because her father needs him. Luckily for Lucrezia, now that it's been established that her husband has no intention of helping the Borgias, he can finally be offed and Lucrezia can spend quality time with her baby once it arrives (I have to check wikipedia, I'm not sure if she keeps the baby). Overall, I really enjoyed this episode and recommend it to everyone.

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The Borgias Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

There was a reason for my marriage brother. Remind me of it.


Your eyes, you no longer walk on air. Where is my young sister hiding?