The Borgias Review: Sex and Death 101

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Following four episodes that had me singing the praises of The Borgias, the fifth installment of season two - "The Choice" - was markedly worse in terms of episodic entertainment.

The hour continued to drag on and drag on until Catherina turned down Cesare and Pope Alexander's offer to come to Rome willingly.  The best moment of the entire episode was probably watching Catherina toy with the Cardinal after pleasing him many a time in the bedroom.

Catherina Seduces Cesare

Her simple way of skirting around the subject, and continuing to mention how much she was enjoying her duck, was irresistibly charming. The fact that we had just watched the two of them enjoy each other's company so much, and then do so again after dinner, made Catherina's eventual "no" that much more intriguing.

She was fun to watch, and could make for a great foe in the future. Unlike her cousin Giovanni, who was never interesting to see on screen and will be doing nothing in the future thanks to the amount of times Cesare stabbed him in the gut and neck.

That was just brutal. I understand that he was ridiculously angered by Catherina's decision, and ready for redemption on her cousin because of what he did to Lucrezia way back when, but this was a little much. Not for Cesare to enact, but for us to see. I'm not usually bad with gore, but this was such a cruel murder that it kind of got to me.

Like many actions before this, that fit of rage showed us once again what Cesare is capable of. Thankfully he got away from all of the guards in time. We may be able to see that anger come out a few more times.

What made the final few moments of the episode so exciting was that Cesare's vicious act and escape were intercut with the collapse of St. Peter's due to the lightning strike. The juxtaposition of pairing Cesare's horrific man-made act with the terrible act of nature, was pretty striking.

For as awful as Pope Alexander has been at times, he showed more love for the innocent than anyone during that catastrophe. If you still aren't rooting for Rodrigo Borgia after that scene, you had to be swayed a little. It was touching.

While the stories of Cesare, Pope Alexander and Micheletto with his lover made for a less than thrilling first 45 minutes in "The Choice," the ladies and Della Rovere might have helped to make sure that an incident like this doesn't happen in the back half of the season.

Lucrezia, Vanozza and Giulia didn't bring all that much to the table in their handling of the madam at the brothel, but the fact that they can now stronghold the Cardinals should make things interesting in the near future.

Similarly, Della Rovere continued to get closer to finding revenge after receiving the okay to go after Pope Alexander from Friar Savonarola, and then finding a volunteer to sacrifice himself for the good of the cause. The longer we wait to see the rematch of Della Rover and The Borgias, the more the fireworks will go off.

Although The Borgias wasn't up to par with its first four installments this week, the beginning of the season was so great, and the future looks so promising, that I am absolutely still on board with this series.

Also, it recently got picked up for a third season, so there is much more to look forward to. What did you all think of "The Choice?  Do you agree that it wasn't on par with the first four episodes, or was it the best yet? Will Cesare pay for his act? And when will Della Rovere attempt his revenge?


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (42 Votes)

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


One detail that I loved in this episode was during the aftermath of the collapse of the cathedral roof while Rodrigo Borgia was trying to save the altarboy, Cardinal Sforza was shown picking up the communion wafers... which makes perfect sense since he would consider it as the actual body of Christ and therefore necessary for saving. That and Cesare fulfilling his season 1 promise to Lucrezia :)


Boring, weak episode apart from the end. Good set-up with the brothel.


This is the best series. It has some history which I like.
Jeremy Irons is absolutely awesome as Pope Alexander.


Excellent comments. This was not my favorite episode but the performance by Irons and Arnaud in this episode is great. We host live chats on Sunday's with several of the cast members and they are all wonderful and so nice to the fans. I would love for you all to come chat and ask questions for the cast to answer. We love to promote TVFanatic on the Borgias fan wiki because of the fantastic articles and fan statements are wonderful! follow us on twitter @TheBorgiasWiki


Best episode this season! Loved the interplay between Caterina and Cesare and Michelotto's graveyard tryst was positively wonderful! The ceiling crashing in proved that Rodrigo may be a manipulative murderous bastard but he has more compassion than the rest of his congregation. Visually, the series continues to be utterly stunning.


I also disagree with many of the comments made about this episode being not as good as the others. Paola to me was the slowest but was still great. I thought this as is every episode of the Borgias is great. I am so glad to have it coming back for a 3rd seasons. There is still so much to tell and do not be surprised about a 4th season. Neal Jordan is so good at this series. Jeremy Irons and Francois Arnaud are magnificent. Sean Harris is great as Michelleto. Holliday Graingier is wonderful. This show cannot miss.


(continued) I wouldn't be so dissatisfied with this filler episode if Showtime were to give us 22 episodes per season. Since there are only 10 episodes this year, I feel like the screen time could have been spent better elsewhere. We saw a lot of character development for Micheletto, and he's not even a Borgia family member. What about a mention of what happened to Gioffrey and Sancia? Were they living in Naples when King Charles invaded it and killed her half-brother, Prince Alfonso? And they are seriously underusing Juan's character, as he's been MIA for the past 2 episodes. I understand that a TV show does not have the budget to show Juan's lavish wedding, but could we at least see his new wife? It would have been nice to see a glimpse of Juan's experiences with his new in-laws, who happen to be the Spanish Royal family. The Pope married him off to forge a crucial alliance with the powerful Spanish rulers, not because Juan killed Lucrezia's lover. :-(


I agree that this was the weakest episode of the season so far. I won't say it was boring because the cathedral's roof collapsing was truly terrifying. Usually, I think Pope Alexander is selfish, but he really semed to care about the innocent children trapped under the rubble. Excellent acting by Jeremy Irons, and I would like to see an Emmy nomination for him. The rest of the epsiode, however, was not up to par. Cesare and Michelletto's visit to Catherine Sforza seemed like a waste of time, like the writers were trying to stretch out her storyline. Oh, look it's numerous love scenes with Cesare for all his fangirls out there! Oh, no Catherine played him and she won't be kneeling before the Pope after all. Oh, dear. Micheletto lies to his mother because he's an assasin, not a healer, etc. The only good thing to come from that trip was that Cesare finally killed off Giovanni Sforza, who was one of the least likeable characters on this show. :-( I wouldn't be so dissatisfied with this "filler" episode if Showtime were to give us 22 episodes per season like TV series on other networks. Since there are only 10 episodes this year, I think the screen time could have been better spent elsewhere. For example, we saw a lot of character development for Micheletto, who is not even a "Borgia" family member. No mention of Gioffrey and Sancia at all this season? Were they supposed to be in Naples when King Charles took over and killed her half-brother, Prince Alfonso? And the writers are really underusing Juan's character. He has been MIA for the past 2 episodes, and I miss the rivalry between Juan and Cesare. I know Juan is supposed to be in Spain, but it would have been nice to see a glimpse of his experience with his new in-laws. I realize that it is too expensive for a TV show to film Juan's lavish wedding ceremony, but I would have liked to meet his new wife and a few of members of the Spanish royal family.


I too agree with your assessment. The Borgias is one of my all time favorite shows with its magnificent ability to combine history, with amazing characterization, dialogue, subtlety, and of course, scenery, and yet, with this episode, I felt my attention wandering -the first! The minor shocks like the introduction to Micheletto's sweet, yet naive (and possibly insane) mother, his admittance to killing his own father, his lover, and the destruction of St. Peters were not enough to save this episode in my opinion. I also love the women in this show (save Ursula, but she's gone now, so hurrah) and felt unmoved by their actions. Perhaps it'll take another episode for me to see the careful web they have spun? As a sidenote, I have no idea how anyone could NOT root for Pope Alexander, and I truly, truly hate Della Rovare. Thank you so much for this review! :] I can't wait for next week's episode! Catherina Sforza has amazing cajones...but she needs to watch out!


really??? for me it was the best episode yet!!! I'm not suere why, but it was intriguing! I rather have the characters play one another, and have subtle ways, be cunning, than having them say "oh" let be witted!" like 2x04, this time they show it, so there was no need to say it!
And cesare is finally transforming into the historical character!!!
Oh! and the Micheletto affair really made sense, and it took us back to the firsts episodes where he had cesare whip him

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The Borgias Season 2 Episode 5 Quotes

I can't imagine you being born, Micheletto...or dying for that matter.


Know your enemy, Cardinal. Know him better than your friend.