Film and TV

Borgias: The Sins of a Father

The second season of the Borgias came to a predictable end, I'll grant you that. That Savonarola would burn for opposing the pope was without doubt. That the disposition on Lucretia's hand in marriage would come to pass was equally a certainty. And that the confrontation between Cesare and his father over the murder of Juan would be emotionally brutal was simply the logical extrapolation of events.

It was a powerful, moving season finale, with a cliffhanger to boot, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

There are two points I want to address before we leave the Borgias for a year.

First, if there is anyone on cast that doesn't get enough credit it's Peter Sullivan as cardinal Sforza. The character has remained a somewhat enigmatic man throughout the course of the show. Related to the pope's greatest enemies, but maintaining a fierce loyalty to Alexander VI, Sforza is the pope's right hand man after Cesare, and Sullivan is a master of capturing the depth and difficulty of that role. His skill as an actor is a hidden, but unmatched joy in the show, and I really should've spent more time talking about him.

Second... Juan is dead, and no one dances on his grave more than I. He was pompous, murderous, stupid, and annoying. A petty joy in the death of a peckerwood, I called it. Now I repent that after seeing one of the greatest scenes ever filmed in the history of television.

The pope has Juan laid in state, and refuses his burial until the killer is found. After Cesare confesses, Alexander is all but broken. In the night, as Rome celebrates Lucretias's bethrothal, he carries Juan himself to the churchyard.

In his arms, the syphilitic, brutal Juan literally becomes a small boy gull of innocence. He doesn't look dead, just tired after a big day. It brings home the final horror. That despite Juan's failings he remained Alexander's son, his joy, and his pride. For him. Juan always remained what a father sees best in his children, all curls, and love, and an endless source of affection for the cunning little creature he birthed.

Could you have the strength to dig your child's grave by hand as Alexander does? I wouldn't, not by a long shot. In the end, the Borgias hammered home its greatest message in a way that can brook no argument. This is about family, and not just family as a fortress. It's about love, loyalty, children and all that trusting arms around your neck can teach you.

As a character, I'm glad Juan's dead. As a father... For the first time in my Satanic life I feel the need for confession for my sins. God forgive that I ever forgot that we are all someone's son.

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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