Saskia reviews: The Borgias Apocalypse


So today I’ll be focusing on the long awaited, much maligned sequel to Showtime’s hit show The Borgias the bizarrely titled Borgias Apocalypse that records the downfall of ‘history’s crime family’. Unless you’ve been living in a hole or just not online much you’ll be aware of the drama surrounding the now cancelled show. Sadly, after a disappointing third season-I’m sure nobody wanted that incest smut OR Jeremy Irons-Showtime  were pretty sketchy about renewing the show for a fourth and final season.

Within a month Showtime went from not being entirely clear about the show’s future to cancelling it. Oh Showtime, where did it all go wrong? But that wasn’t to be the end, Before cancellation Neil Jordan hinted at not making a fourth season and instead doing a feature length finale film that would neatly wrap up all the loose ends season 3 left its fans. After various internet campaigns and petitions Showtime pulled the plug indefinitely.  There was to be no new series, no TV movie and more importantly no resolve at the end. Instead fans were left with half an ending and a whole lot of disappointment.

BUT REJOICE (if you’re a fan)  Jordan promised fans a sneak peak at what could have been in an….e-book…is that as anti-climatic as I think it is? The short answer is yes, well according to the internet an ebook isn’t quite good enough.

Before people assume that I’m just being unnecessarily cruel about a show that bought joy to so many; I LOVED Borgias s1, I thought it was beautifully shot, well written and thought-on the whole-very well acted. The season had the beginnings of wonderful story arcs such as the Sancia/Juan/Gioffre love triangle, anything involving Vanozza and of course Cesare. The show introduced some talented young British actors such as Holliday Granger and David Oakes as well as hiring some well established luvvies such as Derek Jacobi and of course Jeremy Irons.

I thought s1 Borgias would fill the Tudor shaped void in my life and, for a short while I thought it would. S2 which is considered the better season started off brightly (save Cesare’s AWFUL hair) there were family and political tensions galore but I think the season petered out halfway through before saving it with an explosive finale. Characters were woefully under-used; Juan was shipped off to Spain (yes his downfall was acted flawlessly but I could have done with more of a built up) Vanozza was relegated to aging ‘mean girl’. Yes the finale was great but I think there was way too much focus on Rodrigo and Giulia, Lucrezia’s endless suitors and  Cesare was a little too bitchy for my tastes.

S2 showed a family at war
S2 showed a family at war

Season 3 I would rather not go into. Everything was wrong, the hair, the incest, Rodrigo’s bee-keeping…just no. Perhaps the most damning thing about the whole show was that I kept forgetting to watch it on time, I think just not bothering is a whole lot worse than purely hating something.  Jordan seemed to abandon what actually happened and purely listened to opinions of tumblr; something nobody should ever do. The acting and script went massively downhill, Lucrezia trying to seduce Cesare with her foot was merely cringeworthy., Lulu, nobody, not even your permed brother,  likes feet. Lucrezia, who seemed pretty into her future hubby Alfonso in s2 did a complete 180 and only had eyes for her brother while Alfonso who seemed more than happy to do the dirty with Lucrezia in s2, was a shy virgin in s3. Clearly this was to pave the way for Borgiacest which can I just say is never going to be ok. I’m not sure when incest became so vogue, maybe it’s GoT, maybe it’s not.

ANYWAY. The show was cancelled after s3 and to be honest, as somebody who was relatively traumatised I was glad they couldn’t ruin things further…but…I still needed to know the end, perhaps I’m a glutton for punished. NOW to the downloaded ebook I’ll (finally) start by saying that Holliday Granger and Francois Arnaud should be thanking their lucky stars this didn’t get the stamp of approval, as quite frankly, it would have been career suicide. I began my downloaded PDF with low expectations and boy they were met. It was worthless trash from beginning to end the only redeeming feature being that it actually ended and there was no room for a sequel.

Once again characters did a 180, Lucrezia went from making hungry eyes at her brother to running away to a nunnery and having a weird, implied lesbian relationship with another nun. Are you following me? The great love story tumblr was praying for; was  ripped apart pretty early on, and while I wasn’t a fan of the incest, the character change in Lucrezia was baffling. Personally I thought that was how s3 should have been, Cesare lusting after his sister who was interested in somebody else-I thought perhaps it would be Alfonso NOT a random nun but oh well I guess. One can only assume that Jordan deeply regretted listening to tumblr and tried to reverse the damage in the most heavy handed an obvious way possible.

From siblings to lovers to running away from each other Jordan just couldn't decide!
From siblings to lovers to running away from each other Jordan just couldn’t decide!

Now, enough about Lucrezia who was getting so dull I resented reading her lines, onto Cesare who we all know was the character Jordan wanted to write about. Oh Cesare…what the hell?! I admit, I thought he was way too drippy and preoccupied with ‘dear Sis’ rather than his own ambition. Ok Cesare goes absolutely DEMENTED in this, yes demented is the right word. Let’s take a deep breath (skip this bit for spoilers): Cesare cuts-yes CUTS- Caterina Sforza’s lips off. Yes Caterina was up to her old tricks e.g. trying to kill those pesky Borgias via some poisoned lipstick/balm which leads to Cesare cutting her lips off. Ok I know I said he needed to toughen up but JESUS CHRIST CESARE. Eurgh that was almost a little too much, lip-cutting off is not cute nor does it make good dramatic material. He also decides to poison the whole of Naples for disrespectin’ ‘dear Sis’ don’t mess with those Borgias! Again it’s an example of characters changing or taking it far farther than they would of had the TV show actually been made.

Cesare's awful hair got rather distracting
Cesare’s awful hair got rather distracting

I can’t really finish without giving away the entire plot so I’ll not go into detail, but, in order to explain the true horror of this mess I’ll just say this :Lucrezia is implicated in the poisoning of her father and brother.

I’ll say that again: it’s implied that Lucrezia POISONS her family. I know Jordan was desperate to subscribe to the rumour that Lucrezia was a master poisoner, something never proved. According to Jordan Lucrezia, between seasons, had somehow taught herself to be a master poisoner. The problem with this is that   during s3 I was never convinced that the character in the previous seasons could have taught herself and during the ebook I was even less convinced. Beyond all that pedantic raving, does anyone believe that the terrifically whiney and dull Lucrezia we’re presented with in the ebook, or the Lucrezia we’d been introduced to in the show,could kill her family. NO. Because the one thing Jordan has always stated that the show is about family. If the show is about family then I have no idea what the ebook is about.

If you still want to or haven’t read the ebook for God’s sake download it because it isn’t worth whatever Showtime want to charge you. Jordan has proved that he can’t actually write decent prose, I lost count of the times he describe ‘Lucrezia’s long, flowing, golden, stranded hair’…we know she’s blonde!

Lucrezia's hair is long and golden if you didn't notice
Lucrezia’s hair is long and golden if you didn’t notice

It’s a turkey, a badly written and badly crafted hot mess from page 1 to the end and I urge you to buy a book about the Borgias if you want any kind of closure.

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