The Borgias Review: Sans Paolo

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Affections can be lethal in this Rome of ours.

Vanozza's words could not have been a better reflection of "Paolo." The Borgias continued its strong start to the second season with a twisted tale of love, family and betrayal this week.

As much as I have commended Francois Arnaud for his performance as Cesare over the course of the first season-plus, darn it if David Oakes didn't steal the show as Juan Borgia during this hour.

Paolo Scene

I kept finding myself so intrigued by what he was doing and the feelings he was emoting. The character has so much pride and it showed up in spades during that scene at the fountain.

How great was it seeing Juan immediately come to his sister's defense? He was so disgusted by the fact that a commoner would even think about coming near him and his sister; it made for very strange moment out of Lucrezia.

She was so torn. The girl was as excited as anyone could be when she first saw Paolo show up beside her, but then immediately reverted to the idea that a stable boy should not be anywhere near her. Watching her struggle in that moment, and Juan absolutely take charge, was quite fascinating.

Later on, when Juan figured out something was going on and made his way to Vanozza's house, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next. Did he know Lucrezia was there? Was he just going to see if his mother knew what was going on? Was he taken back to see Cesare there?

I loved Juan's eventual murder of Paolo for two reasons:

  1. I always love seeing ruthlessness out of characters that also have a tendency to be sympathetic (see: Micheletto asking about love and then murdering the spy). 
  2. It should make for some really interesting situations if Lucrezia ever finds out what her brother did.

While Juan, Lucrezia and the stable boy captured most of my attention, I was also surprised to find myself enjoying Rodrigo's story again. Of the man's many faults, falling quickly and passionately is one of my favorites. I loved how he took to the common people so quickly after finding out his new mistress was of their ilk.

Rodrigo just can't go half way with anything either. He wants to get rid of ALL the pigeons, and make sure the poor get the money that is owed them. Heck, I loved watching the joy come upon his face as he released just one falcon among the pigeons, and I can't wait to see what kind of effect giving a woman some responsibility will have on the people. We already witnessed one of the good Cardinals not take to it to kindly.

We also witnessed Cesare go back to his nun, Alfonso's face get cut off and della Rovere murder a pair of men on the trail and attain a new pet monkey during "Paolo." I thought it was a great second installment to this year's The Borgias.

What did you all think? Was it an entertaining hour? Did you enjoy watching Juan at work? What do you think will happen with Rodrigo and the poverty issue? And what would you do for a pet monkey?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (27 Votes)

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


I am so lost. I thought in the first series Juan Borgia was killed by Lucrezia. Rodrigo is being played by someone else, as well as Cesare. Can someone fill me in?


I am so lost. I thought in the first series Juan Borgia was killed by Lucrezia. Rodrigo is a different actor, as well as Cesare. I feel like I am watching them backwards. Can anyone fill me in???


Now we have two spoilers. Jc, you are speaking from your frame of reference. I have friends who knew nothing of the Borgias, including who succeeds whom or who kills who off, until they started watching this series. The are waiting to find out by themselves, and it is a good thing they are not reading this blog. I have not told them a thing about what to expect or what is coming. What's coming may be common knowledge to you, but it is not for so many who are watching.


If I can stick up for topher a bit, saying that della rovera will become pope julius ii is hardly a huge spoiler. it is like someone saying palpatine is the emperor in star wars. Naming the monkey julius was neal jordan's nod to history. jordan is showing how della rovera is becoming the very thing he hates. Now a spoiler would be if someone said what julius does to a prominant member of the cast.


Too bad Topher gave something so important away. I hate people like this. So many watching this series do not know the history of the Borgias, and what is coming is great drama, especially for them and to rob them of it is not right. Shame on Topher. Great episode. The season is shaping up well.


The loss of Paolo has moved me to great grief.


IMO, the second season is shaping up to be much better than the first. At last, Neil Jordan is working in Juan's character to fit in with the rest of the notorious Borgia family. I have seen a few spoilers, so I think everyone will be shocked at what happens with Juan. :-) There is definitely more violence this season, but it is historically accurate. I do believe Neil Jordan is making Cesare seem too "warm and cuddly" in order to make him into a likable TV hero. It's like Jordan's afraid the audience would stop watching if he showed us the real Cesare Borgia, who was cruel, ruthless and ambitious. On the show, I prefer Juan's character to Cesare(in real life both were terrible men). At least Juan's characterization fits with what historical records show -- he was an arrogant, elitist, violent drunkard. And kudos to David Oakes, who is truly giving us a brilliant portrayal of a dangerous, unstable Juan.


You know, I think this was my favourite episode of The Borgias to date. And that's saying something, because I've loved this show from the beginning. (To be fair, I've had a strong bias to love anything with Jeremy Irons in it ever since The Lion King.) Everyone was in absolutely peak form. Not just the actors either - the shots were beautiful and the dialogue pitch-perfect. And who knew della Rovere was such a badass?


Love this new season! I think they are setting up Juan's death in the next few episodes. (The historical Juan dies right about this time). Also funny was how de la Rovere asks for a monkey and names him Julius (Cardinal de la Rovere, in history, later takes Julius as his papal name)...


Juan stole the show. A man with so much pride always being treated like an outsider responds by treating others the same way. The stereotypical bully. Not to be too much a spoiler (it is recorded history) but if they ever do a who shot juan episode, no one will guess the culprit. I have problems with cesare. He is just too soft to be the prince. Jeramy irons is always great. Unlike juan, he sympathises with the poor. A wonderful statement by the writers of a character torn by his desire to fulfill his role as spiritual leader and lust for power. oh and hilarious that the pope has a threesome with one girl dressed like a boy.

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The Borgias Season 2 Episode 2 Quotes

Giulia: Did Rome once provide for them?
Pope: The pigeons?
Giulia: No your Holiness, the orphans.

Sometimes goodness needs the help of a little badness.