Stars: Jeremy Irons, François Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Colm Feore, David Oakes, Derek Jacobi, Joanne Whalley
Writer: Neil Jordan
Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Network: Showtime, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: April 10th, 2010

THE BORGIAS got off to such a promising start with the two hour premiere on Showtime, that I was a little bit concerned where the series would go from there. So much history involving the world’s “first” crime family still has to be covered, but it just depends on how writer Neil Jordan decides to tackle it. The third episode, “The Moor” still adds more pieces to the puzzle of the family’s corruption, and layers more stylish storytelling into the mix, but it is slowing down a wee bit.

The trick of period shows, where politics is the main driving force, is to keep enough things happening besides the politics that the audience is still engaged even when the screen time is being used up by essentially talking heads. Other period shows in the past like ROME or THE TUDORS have fallen into the same trap as THE BORGIAS, just not quite as quickly. I’m not saying that the pacing in THE BORGIAS has become agony, far from it. Rather I am saying that the series could use a bit of trimming to give the audience the depths of depravity we’re all watching to see splashed across the screen.

Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander the 6th is still as devilishly entertaining to watch, but he doesn’t have nearly as much screen time this episode. He does have the rather weighty decision involving his daughter Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Granger) and her dowry. The price of marrying his daughter off is the death of Prince Djem (Elyes Gabel), guest sent to live within the holy city under the supposed protection of the Pope. Of course, there is the cachet that if Djem dies while there, his brother (the King of their country) will pay even more for a body shipped back to the homeland. Proving what lengths the Borgia family will go to in order to ensure their future.

Cardinal Rovere (Colm Feore) flees to Naples to seek the help of the deaf King there and his irritatingly superior prince. Rovere discovers that the Kind of Naples in his heyday dispatched anyone that he viewed as a threat, had them stuff and mounted (badly) and set up in a life-sized tableaux of Christ’s Last Supper. This was one of my favorite moments this far in the series, and the grotesqueness of the scene was well done!

Micheletto (Sean Harris) is dispatched to take care of Rovere, but his attempt at mud camouflage melts away in the baths and Rovere makes good his escape again. Of course, later in the episode Micheletto puts his neck breaking skills to work and we get to see him snapping a few here and there.

Cesare (François Arnaud) gets a little cozier with his sister Lucrezia, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before we end seeing these two in bed together. Which incest in one of the more famous elements of the Borgia mythos, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled in the series.

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CLICK HERE for a review of the pilot episode of THE BORGIAS

CLICK HERE for AX’s interview with JEREMY IRONS on THE BORGIAS

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