Today, Showtime and Neil Jordan released as an e-book the script that The Borgias series creator Jordan wrote to wrap up all the show's story lines—The Borgia Apocalypse. While Jordan had originally intended to film the series finale for television (and says he'd still be happy to film if Showtime ever changes its mind), The Borgias was canceled just before the Season 3 finale aired, making that episode, “The Prince,” the last that fans would see on screen. After much protesting by disappointed viewers, however, Showtime and Jordan apparently decided to give them more closure by publishing the screenplay for that aborted grand finale today.
So. What did The Borgia Apocalypse have in store for the (Un)Holy family, and particularly for the fan-favorite/super controversial pairing Cesare/Lucrezia? Keep reading for a full run-down, but if you plan to read it for yourself, beware of MAJOR SPOILERS for the script.
(Also ask yourself: Do I really WANT to know? Or am I OK with how things ended on screen? No, really, you should consider this before reading any further...)
Still with me? OK. Below are my notes on/reaction to The Borgia Apocalypse: The Screenplay.
I have to say, as a Cesare/Lucrezia fan? Overall I am now really glad I did not see this on screen, but more on that later. First, here is a detailed list of what went down in the episode. Forgive the info-dump format, and do let me know if I got anything wrong—I read this pretty quickly and wanted to start the discussion ASAP!
****Last chance: don't read if you don't want to know EVERYTHING goes down in the screenplay for The Borgia Apocalypse.****
—Lucrezia fears the one she loves most (she doesn't fear for herself but rather fears what he will do to others for her) and goes to a convent—with Micheletto's help—to do penance..and take a break/hide out from Cesare
—Cesare plans the disposal of Alfonso's body and the cover story is that he got into a brawl
—Micheletto returns to Cesare's service at the pope's request (and 'cause he misses Cesare, natch)
—Catherina almost gets her revenge on the pope via poisoned lip balm (sex was almost his undoing once again, shocker)
—Cesare interrupts her scheme, catches her, and cuts off her lips
—Rufio is captured for aiding the enemy, his former mistress, Catherina (“We all have our weaknesses; she was, and always will be, mine”)
—France's King Louis wants the pope to back his claim to Naples—France will hold the lands in the pope's name and share the spoils of conquest with Ferdinand and Isabella...and the French ambassador to the Holy See—Cardinal Guiliano Della Rovere! Della Rovere is to stay in Rome under France's protection, under full diplomatic immunity
—Della Rovere kisses Rodrigo's ring “gladly”, “humbly”
—Cesare and Alexander talk about their plans for succession and wonder if Della Rovere could be suspicious
—Cesare tells Della Rovere he should have killed him when he had the chance
—Cesare predicts he'll die in battle one day
—Micheletto and Rufio fight to the death (Rufio dies, because duh)
—Micheletto cannot tell Cesare where Lucrezia is but promises him she is safe
—Cesare tells Louis that he hates Naples because it humiliated his sister and her child
—Cesare wants poisoned water transported to Naples to poison their water; he succeeds and there are bodies all over Naples
—King Louis is horrified by what Cesare, who just says that war is monstrous, has done, saying: “This is beyond all the rules of war. All the laws of God.”
—While Micheletto sees fear in the eyes of people after what Cesare has done, Cesare sees betrayal
—Della Rovere conveys the king's upset about the deaths in Naples to the pope, who basically repeats what Cesare said, that this is war and Cesare spared French lives
—Sure enough, the sons of the great Roman families who've been working for Cesare are now considering betraying him—and bad news: they know where Lucrezia is and know that she is hiding from Cesare and that she is the only thing Cesare cares for in the world, so they plan to kidnap her
—Micheletto hears the plan and tells Cesare
—Micheletto rescues Lucrezia but lets the conspirators think he and Cesare are ignorant of the plot
—Cesare promises Orsini, Vitelli, Baglioni, et al. that he'll create a kingdom and they'll all get to rule a principality after one last campaign; they're not sure how they didn't get caught plotting to snatch Lucrezia, but they'll take it!
—There's blood everywhere in the convent (Micheletto killed the men who'd planned to take Lucrezia) and young nun Pia asks Lucrezia “What is this? This horror?” to which Lucrezia says, “It is my family...This horror has a name. It is called Borgia.”
—Cesare and Lucrezia talk about why Lucrezia was hiding from him; she admits she's afraid of herself, not of him; she can't resist him when he is near, and returns his touches
—Cesare says she could marry again for convenience and they could meet and love without scandal, but Lucrezia wants a love that will free her from this love. Knowing Lucrezia's weakness for children, Cesare says his wife is pregnant; Lucrezia is glad, a playmate for her child. Cesare seemingly gets Lucrezia's OK to marry her off to Ferrara for a marriage of convenience so that she can give Ferrara an heir but let Cesare keep her heart
—Cesare plans to kill Orsini, Vitelli, Baglioni, et al. but outside of Rome at his father's request
—Lucrezia asks Vanozza about Ferrara and agrees to marry the duke as long as 1) her mother negotiates the terms, 2) and moves there with her (I never saw Vanozza as being a great mother, as she always gave into whatever Rodrigo wanted, but whatevs)
—Lucrezia meets poet Pietro Bembo
—Cesare teaches Machiavelli a lesson in revenge
—Lucrezia tells Bembo she would marry anyone that would give her freedom from her family (my shipper feelings are really making me biased here, so I will leave this alone for now)
—Micheletto kills the men outside of Rome
—Cesare walks in on Lucrezia and Bembo kissing; Lucrezia tells Bembo that Cesare is jealous of any happiness she might have without him
—Cesare has Lucrezia invite Dell Rovere to dinner and names some of the reasons that she's the perfect person to extend the invitation (including an echo of his line in “The Prince” — “...you are and always will be...mine”);
—Instead, Lucrezia warns Della Rovere not to accept the dinner invitation “if you value your health”
—Lucrezia tells Rodrigo and Cesare that Della Rovere said yes but only if he chooses the venue
—At dinner, the tasters are dismissed; Della Rovere promises that if the Borgias help him become pope, Cesare can keep his lands and they can all retire to an estate
—Rodrigo has been poisoned; Cesare has been poisoned too
—Rodrigo asks for a confessor and pleads for forgiveness; monk tells him it's impossible for him because he is already dead (oops!)
—Lucrezia sees her father breathe his last and goes to tell Cesare, also very ill but on the road to recovery; Lucrezia advises him to either cultivate Della Rovere's favor or leave, as she's planning to do
—Cesare asks her to help him avenge the death of their father but she tells him to just look at what the throne of St. Peters did to them (truth)
—Time jump and we see Cesare flung from a horse by a spear after his fortunes have changed so drastically after his father's death; Micheletto is killed while running back to a dying Cesare
—Lucrezia arrives at Ferrara
—Portraits of the various characters recap how the characters lived/died in history, including Della Rovere, who did indeed become pope
All right, so, let's discuss all this! What did you think? Let me know in the comments.
My two cents:
Maybe it's just because of how the actors always played all their scenes, but it was hard for me to swallow, as I read this, that Lucrezia would ever be so desperate to escape Cesare (and to turn to her mother, who at the end of the day always seemed to side with Rodrigo over Lucrezia!). After all, Lucrezia initiated so much of what was between them in Season 3 (she jumped in bed with him after all), and, I mean, she plotted to have people killed herself (including the king of Naples!) when things weren't going her way, so she wasn't an angel either. Why did she so often run back to him if she just wanted to run away from him? Girl was CONFLICTED, that's for sure, and apparently more so than I thought. I think the truth is that I just wanted her to embrace her Borgia nature before Cesare's downfall forced her to reconsider her situation, but that's totally on me. Clearly I was projecting my wishes into hopes for the show. Ah, well.
Anyway, Lucrezia definitely proved she was the smartest Borgia! And her ending stayed pretty true to history, even if I feel that Jordan's version of Lucrezia wasn't heading that way organically. (I just feel the chemistry between Cesare and Lucrezia should have been less intense, their scenes a bit less epic, Cesare's feelings less requited, if Jordan really wanted me to buy this. That's all!)
I am glad the end was bloody, 'cause that's just how it had to end. Bring on the Shakespearean tragedy!
And hey, we saw the return of Micheletto and Della Rovere, and Catherina Sforza got to be a crazy badass again. That was all pretty cool.
Final thoughts? I'm happiest with the ambiguous last episode I saw on screen and will probably let that be my head-canon ending.
How about you?
Heather Waters is the site manager of H&H, and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @redline_