Season 2 (2012), 10 episodes
Featuring Jeremy Irons, Francois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, and David Oakes
I just finished watching the second season (2012) of The Borgias cable television series via Netflix.
It’s a bit risky to get one’s history from a television series but The Borgias is an interesting glimpse at the absolute corruption of the Roman Catholic church immediately prior to the Reformation. The Borgia clan is headed by Rodrigo, pope Alexander VI (Irons), who’s ably assisted by his ruthless children, Cardinal Cesare (Arnaud), Lucrezia (Grainger), and Juan (Oakes).
In this season, Cesare ingeniously foils an attack on Rome by the French king. An attempt to avenge the treachery of the Sforza family backfires, leading to the eventual downfall of Juan. Rodrigo can no longer ignore the “heretical” opposition of influential friar Savonarola of Florence and plots his demise. Possible suitors for Lucrezia are considered for their political advantages, as Rodrigo’s arch-enemy, Cardinal Della Rovere, schemes to end the pope’s life with poison.
As I mentioned in my review of the first season, fidgety, irresolute Jeremy Irons is a fish out of water as the ruthless Rodrigo. Likewise, Arnaud can’t pull off the barracudian intensity of the Machiavellian “Prince,” Cesare. Holliday Grainger is also a bit too sweet as the venomous black widow, Lucrezia, but we’re starting to see her fangs come out. The 15th-century sets and costumes are remarkable.
Murder, torture, treachery, fornication, heresy, the ruthless acquisition of wealth and political power; these were just a few of the earmarks of the Borgias’ reign. The history of the papacy includes many such dark and embarrassing chapters. For my review of “The Dark Side of the Papacy,” see here. Praise the Lord for raising up the men and women of the Reformation who sought to return the church to simple faith in Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. Many died for their stand for the Gospel while many of today’s doctrine-lite evangelicals eagerly join arms with Rome in the interest of “Christian unity.”