The Borgias: Family Ties

Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia was married off to Giovanni Sforza, who turned out to be, well, ungallant. Cesare met a beautiful woman at the reception who begged him to free her from her brutish husband.

Lucrezia lies dead, drowned in the bottom of a tub. Very Ophelia. Alexander reaches into the tub and pulls her out, begging for her forgiveness. Dead Lucrezia floats toward the ceiling, intoning: “God may forgive you, father, but I never will.” She takes a position in the roundel painted on the ceiling, and Alexander wakes himself from the nightmare, shouting her name.

Lucrezia, meanwhile, is not dead, but I’m guessing she wishes she were. She’s lying curled up in bed as her husband says she didn’t snore, but she cried all damn night, and that simply has to stop. She’ll probably stop crying when you stop raping her, jackass. Sforza rolls out of bed and tells her they won’t have to see each other much, so no worries. He leaves and she starts crying again.

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The Borgias: Nice Day for a Spite Wedding

Previously on The Borgias: Della Rovere ran around Italy, trying to drum up support for his deposition of Alexander. In Rome, the pope started interviewing prospective husbands for Lucrezia and secured her dowry by having his houseguest, the brother of the Sultan of Constantinople, killed by his sons.

Della Rovere arrives in Florence, where he goes to hear Savonarola speak hellfire and brimstone to a crowd in a church. He seems to like what he’s hearing.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Lucrezia’s in bed, sick with a fever, being tenderly attended by Cesare. She starts to talk about her dead crush, poor Djem, whom she’s heard died of a sudden fever. She’s also heard that his death paid for her dowry, which bothers her. Cesare manages to put off her questions and they chat a bit about her future husband, Giovanni Sforza. Cesare bathes her face and kisses her forehead, and it’s actually quite sweet and touching.

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The Borgias: Dine and Death

Previously on The Borgias: Rodrigo Borgia bought himself the papacy, with the help of his son, Cesare, which outraged the losers. One of them tried to have the pope poisoned, but his assassin was caught by Cesare, who hired him instead, and the cardinal ended up dead. The other loser, della Rovere, continued on his quest to bring down the new pope, but Cesare and badass assassin Micheletto were right there with him, and framed him for murder, sending him on the run.

Have I mentioned how awesome I think the opening credits are? With the Renaissance-era paintings being painted in with what looks suspiciously like blood? I love them (and I love the inclusion of a painting of the legendary Roman Lucretia, whom Lucrezia Borgia was named for. Nice touch for the quick of eye.)

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The Borgias: Poison in Every Cup and an Assassin on Every Corner

Those of you who read my Tudors recaps knows how I feel about the work Michael Hirst chooses to produce, so when I heard he was taking on the Borgia family, I was a bit wary, and the bodice ripping early previews didn’t help. Still, I tried to be optimistic. After all, The Borgias stars much-lauded actor Jeremy Irons. Now, Irons has made some pretty poor choices in the past when it came to his roles (he did, after all, voluntarily do both Eragorn and Dungeons and Dragons), but he’s still a fine actor, and as much as I’m sure I’ll get outraged comments about this, I think he’s a much better and stronger actor than Jonathan Rhys Myers, who in my opinion didn’t have what it took to carry The Tudors. The supporting cast looked good too—Derek Jacobi, Joanne Whalley, Colm Feore. So, like I said, I tried to be optimistic. And judging by the first episode, I was kind of right to be. If the show continues the way it started, it’s going to be a fun ride. Let’s get started, shall we?

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The Tudors: Obsession

Previously on The Tudors: Henry trashed part of France, then got bored and went home, leaving the Earl of Surrey in charge of Boulogne. Chapuys retired, much to Mary’s distress, and Henry’s health took a turn for the worst.

It’s now 1545, as we’re helpfully informed. A groom fetches a nifty little pair of eyeglasses for Henry, who uses them to read some important document. He signs it, then greets Seymour, who comes in for an audience. Seymour informs him that Surrey’s acting like a total idiot in France, attacking supply trains and the like for no reason at all, and sustaining huge losses in the process. Henry sighs and sends Seymour away.

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The Tudors: Hello, Goodbye

Previously on The Tudors: Henry married Katherine Parr and left her in charge while he went off to fight a war in France. There, Charles acquired a comely French prisoner, and Henry’s army was soon decimated by disease.

In France, the bodies of the dysentery dead are piling up so fast they’re now being tossed in a mass grave and covered with lime. So, it’s going to be one of those fun episodes, is it? Oh, and apparently there’s no food to be had for miles around, either. Still, the assaults on the city continue, as does the tunnel digging. Harry and the others continue to swing their pickaxes, almost causing a collapse at one point. Fortunately, the supports hold. Harry tells one of his coworkers the castle is still a good 300 feet away. It’s going to be a long week.

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The Tudors: Ick Factor

Previously on The Tudors: Henry dragged court and family north, where he magnanimously forgave the northerners for rebelling against him. Kate foolishly hired her ex-boyfriend, Francis Dereham, who turned out to be kind of an asshole. Someone took it upon themselves to write a letter to the king, presumably informing him of Kate’s extracurricular activities.

Henry shows the letter to Seymour, who reads it and reveals it is, in fact, about Kate and her “dissolute living” before she married Henry. And right off the bat we have a bit of a story problem. See, the writers decided to show us Henry and Kate clearly sleeping together before they were married, so he would already know about her past. Surely Henry could tell when a girl was a virgin and when she wasn’t, and yet he seems surprised by this letter, which is unsigned, in case you were wondering. Henry says the letter’s a total lie, but nonetheless he has Seymour investigate and confines Kate to her room, with only Lady Rochford in attendance, until the matter is cleared up.

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The Tudors: Below the Belt

Previously on The Tudors: In a real hot mess of an episode, Henry married a teenage bimbo who was pretty much only charming to him, a toddler, and an exceptionally creepy groom.

Wow, a party straight off the bat. This might be a new record on the Start to Party meter. Kate, of course, is out dancing merrily, along with Seymour and his wife, who takes a second to eye Surrey, who’s watching the dancers.

From the balcony, Culpeper and Lady Rochford are also watching. Culpeper comments that Kate seems like a happy person, always dancing and partying. Lady R says she has every reason to be happy, since Henry spoils the hell out of her. Culpeper says that Henry’s pretty peppy these days too—up early, hunting, etc. Culpeper, gazing down at Kate, says she’s very appealing, but Lady R is under no illusions about her new employer and tells him Kate’s a fool. Nice to know somebody besides Mary noticed. Culpeper turns his attention to Lady R, commenting that it’s been a while since her husband died, and yet she hasn’t remarried. Down below, the dance ends and everyone applauds.

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The Tudors: Headdesk

Previously on The Tudors: Henry got his son and then lost his third wife in quick succession. He then married and quickly got rid of Anne of Cleves, and then got rid of Cromwell in the most horrific botched beheading imaginable. While Cromwell was being tried on bogus charges and hacked to death, Henry was taking up with 17-year-old bimbo Katherine Howard.

New season, new characters in the credits: Tamzin Merchant as Katherine, Lothaire Bluteau as…some French guy I guess. Sarah Bolger! Regular cast member—yay! Torrance Coombs as, I think, Culpeper, and David O’Hara, who looks really, really different from how I remember him from Braveheart. I never would have connected him with Stephen the fun, crazy Irishman.

Whitehall, August 1540. In voiceover, Chapuys tells us that it hasn’t rained in two months. Man, that sucks. We also learn that Henry’s gone a bit overboard when it comes to jailing people accused of heresy and executing people left and right, and it’s apparently the hottest summer in living memory. Even the dignified Chapuys is sitting around in just a shirt that’s untied at the neck, dabbing his dripping forehead with a handkerchief. He goes on to say (he’s writing a letter to the emperor) that it’s rumored Henry’s already married to Katherine Howard and intends to present her to the world shortly. Great.

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The Tudors: Marriage Made in Hell

Previously on The Tudors: Cromwell tried to engineer a marriage between Henry and the Protestant Duchy of Cleves, and for some reason, the Duke’s caginess doesn’t raise any alarm bells at all.

Holbein hangs around in Cromwell’s busy office, waiting for the man himself to show up. When he does, he tells Holbein he needs him to head to Cleves and paint a portrait of Anne. He urges Holbein to make sure the Anne in the painting is easy on the eyes, despite her actual appearance, because there’s a lot riding on this marriage. Oddly, there’s a totally sloppy historical muck-up in this scene when Cromwell refers to Anne as the current Duke’s daughter, even though she’d been previously established as the duke’s sister (as she was in real life.) Oops!

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