The Borgias – The French King Review

Della Rovere reaches France and strikes a bargain with its ruler to invade Italy and install him on the Papal throne in exchange for control of Naples; Rodrigo attempts to thwart the invasion through an alliance by marrying his youngest son Joffre to Princess Sancia of Naples (guest star Emmannuelle Chriqui), but Juan nearly sabotages the plan by seducing his prospective sister-in-law.

Cardinal Della Rovere and the French King

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Oh little Lucrezia, I can’t blame you for your indiscretions, but we both know that it’s not going to end well.  Holliday Grainger continues to shine in this role, playing up the innocence of Lucrezia while at the same kind showing small aspects of the manipulator that Lucrezia was often made out to be. Her little affair with the stable boy has a real tension to it as we wait for it all to go wrong. On the other doomed romance front, it was nice to see Cesare and Ursula (also played very well by Ruta Gedmintas) get together after dancing around for the last couple of episodes. Seeing the tragic end to the relationship after a few brief moments of happiness was heartbreaking.

Doomed romantic entanglements seem to be par for the course here. As soon as the portrait of Joffre’s new bride was unveiled in front of Juan, we all know what must inevitably play out. But it was a nice surprise to see Sancia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) play such an active role in the seduction. The macabre nature of the scene where they finally consummate things in a room full of stuffed corpses once again highlights the consequences at play in the relationships of those in power.

It was quite a nice twist to see the French portrayed differently, with King Charles (Michel Muller) shown as an ugly slob who prefers plain speech to niceties. Seeing Della Rovere so discomfited at his reception was a really nice moment. Even though we know that the Borgia family are not very nice people, we can’t help but see this Cardinal as the bad guy, no matter how outwardly noble his goals. There’s a real element of worry when we see what advances in weaponry the French have been making and the King’s speech on the nature of war was a particularly poignant foreshadowing of what is to come.

This episode finally got the balance between the various storylines right. We didn’t spend as much time with Della Rovere as we did with the various relationships of the Borgia family, but we didn’t need to. What’s important is that Della Rovere’s story didn’t feel rushed, we spent as much time with it as we needed to.

What I Liked – The Subplots are far more fleshed out.

What I Didn’t Like – I thought the scene of Urusla being inducted into the nunnery was unnecessary, and detracted from the breakup scene.

Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)

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