Film and TV

Borgias: Petty Joy in the Death of Peckerwoods

There's an old proverb among wrestling fans; never go to the show before a pay per view. It will always be a big spectacle that leaves you waiting for the main course. You can say the same thing about the last episode before the season finale.

With the previous food taster of the pope murdered, disgraced cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (Colm Feore) makes way for an assassin to make his way into the vacant position. Meanwhile, the disposition of Lucretia's (Holliday Grainger) hand in marriage continues to get way too much screen time, and the Pope (Jeremy Irons) finally decides to go back to drinking and fucking.

All of these things will no doubt be of utmost importance at the end of the season, but let's talk a bit about a personal failing of mine. I love it when peckerwoods get killed.

What is a peckerwood? Well, to define it in the simplest terms a peckerwood is someone that is both an annoyance and a danger who tends to think way too highly of his current station in life. Luckily, the Borgias has a dedicated peckerwood killer in the form of Cesare (François Arnaud).

His brother Juan (David Oakes) has fallen as low as a man can go. He's injured, riddled with syphilis, addicted to opium, and now spends every waking moment antagonizing his family by calling them whore and bastards. He even goes so far as to dangle his nephew from a balcony after wishing out loud the baby had been thrown into a river instead of baptized.

And through it all he insists on himself as some kind of worthy lord... something he proves by raping a dancer in the episode. Did you know that rape gets its own warning box on television shows now? I didn't, and it was at that point that I started wishing that someone would end Juan forever.

Well, Cesare was off in Florence with his badass posse of Micheletto (Sean Harris) and Machiavelli (Julian Bleach). The three concoct a plan to end the hypnotic grip of the rogue friar Savonarola (Steven Berkoff) by daring him to walk through fire without getting burned. He agrees, but the fire, you know, does what fire do, and he ends up hauled off to Rome in chains to later be tortured to death.

Truly a peckerwood's ending. After that, Cesare knife's Juan in the belly and dumps him in the river... because he deserved it.

Look, this show dances a line between the explorations of God's role in the hands of power and just being a straight up crime drama where squealers get cut. If I can't have endless philosophical debate on power between Cesare and Machiavelli, them I at least want to see some of the supporting cast get shanked for being total asses. I mean, is that too much to ask?

The moral I hope someone takes from this episode of the Borgias is as follows. You can say whatever you want, but piss off the wrong guy and you'll end up with several new assholes carved in you. It's not right, but it happens, and it happens to peckerwoods most of all.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner