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The Borgias Review: We're Gonna Have To Take The Boy

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Since Francois Arnaud and David Oakes have both been so fantastic during The Borgias second season, it's a shame that the series has had such a difficult time showcasing them in the same episode.  "The Siege at Forli" was yet another example of this mishap as Cesare Borgia was sidelined for the majority of the hour.

From his triumphant return, to his battlefield tactics, Juan Borgia was quite the standout once again.  It felt so good to have him back, especially when his return meant a pet panther and cigars for the pope.  I'm not sure which was more fun, watching the then unheard of cat bite the finger of Lucrezia, or watching Juan explain to Rodrigo and everyone else what the then unheard of cigars were and did.

Borgias Scene

It wasn't all panthers and puffing for the second son, though.  He also made his way to Forli to take out the great Catherina Sforza in battle.  What made his inevitable failure, and the quasi betrayal by his brother Cesare, so epic, was the feeling of superiority he and Rodrigo had going during their fireside chat early in the hour.

The father, sorry Holy Father, was proud that his boy had become a man, and truly felt that Juan was going to wipe out Catherina and take her back to Rome completely compliant.

The fact that Juan used dirty tactics in battle was awesome.  If waving the white flag in peace only to cheap shot Catherina's son, steal him, and ride away had actually worked, I would have commended the coward.  It's kill or be killed out there.  The Borgia boy's plan faced numerous problems, though.

  1. Catherina Sforza was willing to let her son die in order to protect her castle and prevent going to the Pope's Rome.
  2. He had no idea that Catherina had allies coming from behind the Papal Armies to protect her.
  3. Cesare, after finding out about the allies coming for his brother, decided against saving Juan.

For not being in front of the camera for much of the episode, Cesare still had a major effect on "The Siege at Forli."  He could have sent a fast messenger to let Juan know the ally was coming, but no, he used his brother's apparent military prowess as an excuse for not intervening.  In doing so, he basically left the armies for dead, and took a nice jab at his bro bro in the meantime.

If Juan died in that moment, would Cesare benefit from being put in charge of the Papal Army?  Or would the Pope still demand he stay a Cardinal?  Who knows?  Cesare was sure willing to take that risk.

In the meantime, the other stories going on are maturing at a snail-like pace.  Della Rovere has been training his martyr for ages, Savonarola and his kids continued to preach in the streets, and the courtship of Lucrezia Borgia is still moving forward.

With only three episodes remaining in the second season of The Borgias, we can only hope that all of the side plots come to a head in the near future.  We could potentially be in for quite a conclusion, especially if both Cesare and Juan get involved simultaneously!

What did you think of "The Siege at Forli?"  Was it one of the better outings of the year?  Did you miss Cesare as much as I did?  What did you think of Juan's battle tactics?  Sound off now in the comments!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (36 Votes)

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

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One thing is forever going to stick in my head - "Turds?." and "Why would one want to smell a turd?" I simplly adore Jeremy Irons as the Pope he lends a great humanity and humor to a potentially dangerous role. Love watching him and hearing what his Alexander will say and do next. Love the other cast members as well and all are fun to watch.

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I thought the two scenes where Micheletto eyes Savonarola and the look in the priests eyes are a portent of great things to come...

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Team Oakes!!!

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Very impressed with Gina McKee. That's a brave performance as an actress... convincingly alternating bravado on the castle wall with fear for the fate of her son. I got a little bit of a Joan of Arc vibe from her fierce pose.

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I enjoy watching the Borgias, but the writers have changed so many things from the history books that we the viewers can get confused. I think Juan has syphillis, but in real life, it was Cesare and Rodrigo that caught it. There were less details about the real Juan Borgia's life because he was killed at an early age. The real Juan never killed Lucrezia's lover; that was Cesare. The real Cesare slept around with lots of women, and he had several illegitamate children to prove it. Sorry, but I don't think the writers should be "toning down" or whitewashing who the real Cesare was. According to Neil Jordan's version, Cesare looked like a saint who almost never had sex, except with Ursula. They show Rodrigo and Juan sleeping with plenty of different women, so I don't get why Cesare is written to be such a prude in comparison. Anyways, I loved this episode, thanks to David Oakes' amazing performance. He's a top notch actor, so it's too bad his character has been underwritten for most of the series.

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Juan had gonorrhea, did he not? This was a great episode. David Oakes is a million times better this season than last. Francois Arnaud/Sean Harris are both tremendous, very cool cats. The show is also doing a much better job this season of letting Jeremy Irons do his thing. Love it.

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He has syphilis , which historically I thought Cesare had caught. But this Cesare seems less involved with the ladies than his bro. The bad thing is he probably gave it to his wife and I am not sure what it does to unborn children.

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This had to be my favorite episode since Season 1, episode 8 "The Art of War". It's no coincidence that both of these episodes featured battles where Juan was overconfident and then was eventually beaten by a bigger and better army. To be honest, I did not really miss Cesare this week, since he's had plenty of screen time the past three weeks while Juan was in Spain. I was disappointed that they never showed us what was going on in Spain, but the most important thing we learned was that Juan's wife is already pregnant with his heir. Compared to the siege at Forli, the Della Rovere and Savonarola storylines did seem slow. I guess Lucrezia's storyline did develop because it looks like she will marry the one brother and have an affair with the other. And I cannot say it enough, but David Oakes deserves an Emmy award, or at the very least, the nomination for Best Supporting Actor. I would like to see him receive a Golden Globe nomination next year as well. This episode in particular shows he has amazing range. And he should play the role of a James Bond villain in the future! LOL :-)

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Great article

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What was going on with Juan's man parts?

The Borgias Season 2 Episode 7 Quotes

Rodrigo: What is this called?
Juan: Smoking!

If you don't have the stomach for this spectacle, you'll find that Spain lies that way.

Juan
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