Mon
Jun 10 2013 3:09pm

“And Mine”: The Borgias’s Deliciously Dark and Twisted Series Finale

Holliday Grainger and Francois Arnaud as Lucrezia and Cesare in The Borgias 3x10, The Prince*****MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILERS for The Borgias's series finale—3.10, “The Prince”—below.*****

Seriously, DO NOT READ until you've seen the episode for yourself.

While the series finale hasn't yet aired on U.S. television, this morning Showtime posted the final episode of The Borgias online for subscribers at ShowtimeAnytime, and it is a wild ride.

“The Prince,” as its name would suggest, revolved around Cesare and his figurative coronation as political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli's “prince.” Cesare began the show resisting the ambitious future that his father had planned for him, but eventually began craving power himself—though as a warrior rather than as a cardinal—and had been heading toward the role of “the prince” for a while. His siege of Forli and capture of the legendary Caterina Sforza pretty well sealed the deal, and it was fascinating to see.

The heart of the episode for me, however, was—of course—the relationships. We got to witness father and son scheming (Pope Alexander vowed that if his son could carve out an empire, he'd see to it that Cesare became both pope and king—whoa), Cesare and his loyal assassin Micheletto say good-bye (but not without a parting gift—the way to bring down Forli's 12-foot-thick walls), and Lucrezia have done with her father (“Don't lie to me, father” and “The silence is my answer”—oh, snap!) and come to the realization that her husband was a dead man, among other awesome scenes.

There were also some uber-intense Cesare/Lucrezia and Cesare/Lucrezia/Alfonoso scenes, like when the siblings discussed the nature of their forbidden feelings for each other:

Lucrezia: Why is your touch the only one that soothes me?

And:

...The only thing that never tires me is you. ... Can you tell me why we're cursed with this feeling that feels so natural, and good? When we're together, God seems to sit in the room with us. And when you're away, I manage to forget you. And then...one touch of your hand and God comes rushing back.

Cesare: God, or the devil?

Lucrezia: Whatever it is, it overwhelms...

And like when later, after the events at Forli, Alfonso started a fight with Cesare that he could not—and did not—win, and then guilt-tripped Lucrezia into finishing him off with her poisons, telling her that if she ever loved him, she'd do it. And when Lucrezia said she could not, and Alfonso said that of course she could because she's a Borgia. Which, of course, is what Lucrezia has always most feared is the case.

Cesare and LucreziaIntense, huh? And then there was the last scene of the episode, and the show, when Cesare entered his sister and brother-in-law's chamber to find them both lying motionless on the bed, an empty glass on the bed, and Cesare rushed forward, thinking his sister—undoubtedly the light of his life—had killed herself, too. She hadn't, but she did lament that she'd never be able to wash her husband's blood away (or, I'm guessing, escape what her family's made her), and asked, “Is that all I'm ever to be? Borgia?” To which Cesare promised that he would wash all the blood away for her (which he started to do, literally), saying: "You will be naked, clean, and bloodless again. And mine.” End scene, end series.

WHOA. Am I right? Very, very dark stuff, and yet I tend to think it couldn't have ended any other way. I need more time to digest all that happened, and maybe rewatch a time or two, but for the moment I'm actually kinda glad it was left as open-ended as it was, though I do confess I was hoping to eventually see Cesare's death for the epic angst of it all.

What did you think of the episode? Are you happy with it as a series finale, or were you left wanting more?

(For more on my Cesare/Lucrezia ~feelings~ check out the post My Body Is a Cage: The Borgias's Cesare/Lucrezia.)

 


Heather Waters is the site manager of H&H, and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @redline_

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17 comments
Kinsey
1. Kinsey
My thoughts:

-Pope: I've always felt that this show was very centered on Cesare Borgia more so than the Pope. However, I enjoyed seeing the dynamics of Cesare and his father scheming together. However, I would have liked to see some scenes of Vanozza and Rodrigo together one last time. I didn't like the scene with Lucrezia and Rodrigo. I felt so bad for her. I mean it's realistic, but the dreamer in me wants a happily ever after, that Iknow is never going to be in store for this family.

-Cesare: Hmm. I liked/disliked his scenes. I enjoyed the final scene between Cesare and Micheletto. It was sad, but for a doomed character like Micheletto it was a fitting ending. All the hearts he broke from killing people, came back to him. I love Micheletto though, and it did sadden me. At least we got a conclusion with his character. He told Cesare goodbye, instead of never knowing where he was.(I will continue my review later with a whole section on Cesare/Lucrezia).

Lucrezia: Sad.Sad Sad. Although many people have always loved Cesare the most, and like them, I always felt conflicted on whether I loved Cesare or Lucrezia best. After the finale, I finally chose Lucrezia. I've alwyas had a soft spot for her. From the very first season when she was young and naive and just trying to find her place in this power hungry family, to now when she lay broken-hearted with her dead husband's body. I felt so bad for her when she went to see Rodrigo, and he knew that her husband would be killed. He KNEW, and still the power was more important to him than his daughter's happiness. Even Cesare, who loves Lucrezia so much is so clouded with hunger for more power that he's doing things that will hurt his sister.Even after he saw her crying over her husband, he still was ready to send is a killer to finish him off. That was very disturbing to me, and said a lot of what Cesare is truly focused on. I didn't like that glimpse of Cesare that I saw, which just makes their love all the more tragic and heartbreaking.

CESARE AND LUCREZIA: I AM THE BIGGEST C/L FANGIRL EVER! I've loved them from the pilot, and I will til my dying day continue to love them. They had the most explosive chemistry I've ever seen on television. All the emotion, angst, longing, love, jealousy. I just can't take how fantastic they are together. I'm going to miss that more than anything. As far as them in the finale though...I was conflicted. I didn't like that Cesare is so power hungry that he seems to care more for that than he does Lucrezia. I saw that for the first time today, and it's going to bother me for a long time to come. When she was crying, to me, he seemed almost indifferent, like he had to get on his way. The end scene however, I loved. I loved where it showed the panic he felt at the prospect that Lucrezia could have killed herself, and I loved when he said, "and mine". Whew, that was intense! Then it looked like he kissed her bloody neck which was both disturbing and sexy. I just love them, because even though Cesare is dark, his father made him this way. He wasn't always like this. And that perhaps, is the saddest thing of all...
Heather Waters (redline_)
2. redline_
*rubs hands together* I was SO hoping someone would want to discuss in detail!

I REALLY liked the finale, but I am conflicted about it too, mostly when it comes to Cesare/Lucrezia. I've read a bunch of interesting reviews, including two that interpreted C/L's scenes and character arcs in COMPLETELY different ways: for instance, one saw Lucrezia's lines about her "overwhelming" love for Cesare as Lucrezia kinda wishing she could escape his suffocating love (and her own obsessive feelings toward him), and the other saw this same speech as Lucrezia embracing her feelings for Cesare as the brightest spot in her life. The weird thing is, I can see both these points of view and think you could argue it either way--it's pretty open to interpretation, as is their relationship as a whole.

It was so weird to see the pope play second fiddle in this episode! Proves how much the show had been moving toward a Cesare and Lucrezia focus, I guess. But yeah, loved the Cesare and Rodrigo stuff we got in the last two episodes, and I also wish we'd gotten another Rodrigo/Vanozza scene. As for Rodrigo and Lucrezia, they've been on the rocks for a while, haven't they? Ever since they had that standoff about her marrying for the second time, I thought. She has long known that his paternal love for her comes second to his political plans (which he proves yet again here). So I thought that conversation made sense, even though it was sad.

Cesare: I loved his scenes in this episode, tbh. He's become, as Francois Arnaud put it in an interview, somewhat of a "vain monster," but we've been on the journey with him, so we kinda understand how it happened. It's hard to blame him, really. He's just tried to ensure the safety of his family, which required cunning and ruthlessness, so is it any wonder this is the end result? I blame the pope!

Lucrezia: She's a tricky one! I feel like Cesare is pretty easy to understand, and there's no question in my mind that he feels that Lucrezia completes him. He pushes her away for what he thinks is her own good, but for himself, he knows no one can compare to her. Lucrezia is more complicated, and her feelings about her relationship with her brother are more ambiguous to me. For instance, on the one hand, she talked a lot this season about Cesare's ambition ("What rules this family, Mother?...Ambition." + "My brother, for whom affection and ambition are entwined." + talk of how she traded one gilded cage for another by coming home to Rome), which makes me think she resents him as much as she loves him, but on the other hand, SHE has been the instigator of their romantic relationship at every turn and is constantly telling him to "come back soon" and that she doesn't feel safe when he's away, etc. etc. So idk, she really confuses me, but maybe that's because she's confused too? 'Cause here's the thing--she's ambitious too, and as much as she wants to be loved for herself and as much as she hates what her family has done to her, she has proven that she can be just as ruthless as her father and brother. So whether she likes it or not I think she knows, deep down, that she and Cesare are a matched set.

Cesare/Lucrezia: I completely agree about loving their last scene, and that panic he went into when he thought she'd killed herself was the best. I disagree about him ever seeming indifferent toward her or putting power before her, though. I think he truly thought he was doing what was best for her when it came to Alfonso, even if he was tragically misguided. From what I could tell, Cesare had no plans to have Alfonso killed until Lucrezia said she was tired of him and that Alfonso would only sleep with her when he was drunk and that Alfonso was on to them; he also saw Alfonso being verbally abusive toward Lucrezia. Remember, Juan being abusive toward Lucrezia and her baby was the final straw for Cesare in Season 2. And Cesare's plan to have Lucrezia installed as regent of Naples, again, I think he thought that'd make her happy--she wouldn't have to marry again, she could keep her child with her, Cesare could visit whenever, and ruling would give her purpose. As he said, Lucrezia is the most capable person he knows. He wanted to show her he knew that and respected her intelligence and political savvy. And while Lucrezia was understandably devastated about Alfonso's loss, I think it was less about the loss of the man himself than about the fact that she feels responsible for his death ("I'll never wash this blood away.") and that her carefully constructed world has been shattered. Cesare's a man, so he can feel confident that he'll be able to make his own future, but Lucrezia's future is pretty dependant on who she's married to. She really liked her life as Alfonso's wife (as she told Cesare in 3x09, she had almost everything she wanted), but now things are up in the air again.

Wow. Longest comment in the history of comments? Here, have alllll my rambling, possibly nonsensical Borgias feelings and thoughts!
Kinsey
3. BorgiaBull
This was the worst, most contrived ending to a series that could of been EPIC, maybe moreso than The Tudors... Cesare's capture of Forli and Caterina was only the beginning of his rise to absolute power, which only ended when Rodrigo died and Della Rovere became Pope.. Neil Jordan should at least pass the show on to other writers to keep it going. Cesare pulls off some of the most brilliant strategic deceptions ever recorded in history and consolidated the whole of Italy under his power at 27 years old. WHERE WAS SENGALLIA??? The Red Wedding scene in Game of Thrones wasn't even as intense as the real shit that Cesare pulled off against his enemies and conspirators, and Micheletto was a PSYCHOPATH; several scenes indicated that he felt no emotions, only a fanatical devoted loyalty to Cesare. Indirectly betraying Cesare by banging the spy dude was why he vanished, only to return ashamed of himself but wanting to right his ONLY wrong.. that was horseshit... Micheletto and Cesare went to school together and met at the University of Piza... Micheletto could easily read and right; any master assassin needs to know how to read...you know, intercepting letters, but Neil made him have a photographic memory instead. If they did one more season, they could really show the impact that Cesare had on Italy and why the name Borgia is infamous, and forever removed as a namesake in Italy, same as Marc Antony
Heather Waters (redline_)
4. redline_
@BorgiaBull -- Micheletto's reaction to killing the spy struck me as strange too, 'cause like you said, he almost always comes off as a psychopath. An insanely loyal one, and no one will ever watch Cesare's back quite as well as he did, but still...psychopath. That said, he did have his moments (he had a soft spot for Lucrezia's baby, for instance), and so it struck me as maybe it just being karma catching up with him that it affected him so much. Plus, the actors playing Micheletto and Cesare did an amazing job with their last scene, so I was OK with it.

I do wish, like you, that we could've seen the Borgias really become that infamous family. Would've been awesome.
Kinsey
5. ralexandra
"Mine..."... That was the most intence scene ever seen.... Francois Arnaud is an amazing actor... And BorgiaBull is rigth: the true history of Borgias (Cesare most than any of them) is even better than this, or GoT, or any thing in history... And he was not only a war monster... He was a genius!!!
Heather Waters (redline_)
6. redline_
@ralexandra -- I could just watch that scene on an endless loop. Guh. So well done.
Kinsey
7. Bes
I am going to miss this series SO MUCH! Micheletto leaving Cesare was traumatic for me. Did I miss something? Wasn't Micheletto secretly in love with Cesare all along? It was never said outright but from everything I saw Micheletto used the only thing he had to offer -loyalty to forge a kind of intimate reationship with Cesare. Similarly I think Rufio loved Caterina. Either romantically or because they grew up together/are some sort of blood kin. Ugh. Damn Showtime. This was such a good show!
Heather Waters (redline_)
8. redline_
@Bes -- I think you can certainly read it that way. In the beginning of the show he says he'd be honored to work for the pope, or his son, so I took that to be where is loyalty first came from. But they definitely forged a strong bond over the course of the show and Micheletto's hesitance to wake Cesare with a touch at the end seemed pretty significant...

Seems like a lot of people ship them and I can totally see why even though I fell pretty hard for Cesare/Lucrezia.

I'm going to miss this show too...
Kinsey
9. Samg
I am so disappointed in this! They never even let us know they were ending it. I love this show!'n why can't HBO pick it up???? The cast was incredible and will be missed!
Heather Waters (redline_)
10. redline_
I'm sad it's over too, but I think part of the issue is the show's creator--he didn't think he had enough material for a full fourth season, and Showtime couldn't justify the expense (it's a VERY expensive show to make) of just a two-hour movie to wrap it up.

There's no doubt the show could have gone on longer, but I have to respect a show creator that has a clear vision for his story and decides for himself when to end it.
Kinsey
11. planetbob
@ all above.

I note all that has been written here by everyone.

Personally, I thought it was shite.
Kinsey
13. Fan of Tragedy
I want to know what happens between them. In history, Lucrezia outlives them all, but their chemistry is so powerful! Their love is so intense that we excuse the incest because everyone wants to know that kind of love, JUST NOT FROM THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS, but that unconditional, to your last breath kind of love. If they loved each other one iota less, we would condemn them, but they love with their whole herats and for that we (the viewers) forgive them the sin of incest, and our hearts bleed for them.
Heather Waters (redline_)
14. redline_
@Fan of Tragedy -- I've wondered about how Neil Jordan would end it too. Her outliving the rest of the family wouldn't be as dramatic, and Jordan already kind of went off the rails with regard to their actual history anyway. I have to say I'm kinda hoping they'd have had some sort of dramatic death scene together, not unlike the last scene of "The Prince"--it was very Shakespearean and AWESOME. And then there's the option of seeing Lucrezia's reaction to Cesare's death in battle or something. That would be crushing as well. But, you know, in that hurts-so-good, isn't-this-angst-delicious kind of way.
Kinsey
15. Albany Girl
I just got around to watching the Season finalie and I can't believe I waited so long to watch it... I am blow away how it ended and absolutly loved the last scene, I had to rewind it and watch it again.... What a GREAT show, I just read that Showtime didn't renew the show and I am crushed...

I felt compelled to find a spot to leave my own thoughts...

I was hoping the Caterina was going to die, but I guess keeping her prisoner is much better punishment, what a scene when the castle was crashing down.. Also the scene between her and the Pope was intense...

I thought the scene between Micheletto and Cesare was so moving and yes I agree with all the above comments, I think there should have been more scenes with him and yes, it does make sense that he was in love with Cesare with the way he woke him up...

I absolty love the scene where Cesare says wait here, I may need someone to finish the job... I thought the way Lucrezia reacted to Alfonso was way over done, I mean did she not realize the power she was going to have with his death in Naples? I also had a feeling that when she was making that drink that it was for herself...

But that last scene really shows the love Cesare had for Lucrezia, not that we didnt know it the whole time, but those last few lines.. "and mine"..... I get chills watching it again..... So powerful, and it almost looked like Lucrezia was feeling to, I am starting to think that maybe she showed all that over dramatics to hide that fact that maybe she was secertly happy and knew that her and her brother could finally be together, in secert of course...

Looking back at the whole season, it was really about Cesare and his rise to power, and yes what an amazing actor Francois Arnaud is.. I loved watching him the entire season.... I am more than sure he will pop up again in another show.. Maybe Game of Thores?

My final thoughts now that the show is not coming back, and yes I agree with the above comments, there was PLENTY left that could have carried the show, I am glad the way it ended... Cesare cleaning off the blood from Lucrezia, the love of his life......

I REALLY hope all those award show out there recongize this show and give these actors some credit for the outstanding work... I am really going to miss this show, I dont know how anyone can watch regular TV....
Kinsey
16. Jalebi
I wrote hbo to pls ask francois and holli to audition for 50 shades of grey.. Al least we can then shmelessly love to see them spark together.. They are the most erotic couple i've seen on screen.. I really hope they will.
pi def will miss borgias.. But am happymwith the ending.. It didnt have a bitter taste of one of them dying..
Kinsey
17. LaylaWhear
So I know this is way way late but I just watched the seasons on Netflix. First of all, a forth season with more of the love triangle between Rodrigo, Vanozza and Guilia (and her and pope's baby girl Laura) would have been good. Also more on the pope's policies and the consistory. Then the there is the pope's death. Rumor has it that Ceseare accidentally poisoned his father. Would've been great to see that on fold. Cesare is already a tortured soul. What might that have done to him? Cesare's battles and continued conquests would've been interesting. Also, could he truly trust Rufio? Would Micheletto return? Then Cesare's ultimate death in battle would have been a tear starter especially when Lucrezia is informed....or if she witnesses it. Am sure Francois and Holli would've brought those scenes home. And then finally...what shit would hit the fan when Alfonso d'Este enters Lucrezia's life? I can imagine the angst, heartbreak and tradegy of C/L love....The pope marries Lucrezia off again...how would Cesare deal with yet another husband....and how would he handle Lucrezia falling for d'Este (apparently she grew to really love her third husband in real life)...

After all, he did kill her second husband to make her .

At least that's how I see Alfonso's demise.

Yeah...a fourth season is possible. There is material.
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