Blu-ray Review: The Borgias (The Final Season)

The reign of Pope Alexander VI (Dead Ringers‘ Jeremy Irons) comes to a televised end in this boxset. He reminded viewers how the Roman Catholic Church was so exciting in the good old days. Did the new Pope moved into Vatican City with his daughter, sons, baby mama and mistresses? Nobody is openly gathering their forces to take out Pope Francis. Put Pope Alexander VI had every semi-Holy Man in Europe gunning for him. The Borgias: The Final Season delves into a world where God, Family and Country are all mixed together.

“The Face of Death” has the Pope battling to recover from his poisoning. While he’s focused on living, his enemies are ready to finish him off. Catherina Sforza sends in her prime killer to take care of the Pope and his family. But daughter Lucrezia is more than up for the task of keeping her dad safe from the assassin. “The Purge” has the Pope pull an inquisition on the College of Cardinals. He can’t trust anyone since one of his main investigators might be connected to a plot. The Pope is more hated than Kim Kardashian at the Academy Awards. At the same time Lucrezia isn’t happy that her future in-laws aren’t liking her family situation. “Siblings” has a very uncomfortable wedding between her and the groom. There’s also the fun in a Cardinal’s brilliant embezzlement scheme from the Vatican Bank. He knows how to truly cover his track and blame it all on Satan. “The Banquet of Chestnuts” has a party for the Cardinals that features hookers dressed up as nuns. How did this show not get renewed for a fourth season? This party is perfect for blackmail material, but how can it be used against them in a time before cellphone cameras? “Relics” marks the arrival of French Army. They’re ready to clean house in parts of Italy. The Pope also plans a major crusade into the Holy Land by taxing the local Jewish population.

“Lucrezia’s Gambit” involves a scheme on two Princes of Naples after the King dies. Will she get the right one to do the dumb thing? There’s also a touch of plague going around the area. “Tears of Blood” brings rich pilgrims to Vatican City which is necessary. But Catherina Sforza plots to detour the travelers by staging a fake miracle. Can she pull of a roadside attraction? “The Gunpowder Plot” involves a cornering of the market on a key element to gunpowder. People will have to pay more to go after the Pope. “The Prince” wraps the show up with a massive army battle and a reconciliation within the Pope’s family. It feels like an end even though producer Neil Jordan had planned for a fourth season to be the end.

There was a proposed two hour finale film, but Showtime supposedly passed on it because of the budget. Luckily, Jordan adapted his script into prose and you can buy it as an eBook. You don’t have to guess the intended ending if you don’t mind reading. The show itself had plenty of backstabbing and debauchery, but didn’t completely click with viewers. It’s hard to say why. Maybe people didn’t want to be reminded that religious leaders were morally bankrupt back in the 15th Century and it’s not a new thing. Who wants to admit that the modern world isn’t nearly as disgusting advertised?

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The high definition transfers bring out the rich wardrobe and production design. The Pope and his family like to dress rather fancy. The audio is 5.1 Dolby True HD. You can hear the whispers from the various plotters. There’s also a 2.0 Spanish dub. The episodes are subtitled.

Borgias Bloopers (7:08) is dozens of cut ups in Papal gowns.

Ray Donovan, Episode 1 (57:16) is Showtime’s latest hit starring Liev Schreiber (formerly the voice of HBO).

The Borgias: The Final Season brings to an end a Pope who didn’t leave a pious life. It proved to be a fine follow up to The Tudors even if it didn’t last as long.

CBS DVD present The Borgias: The Final Season. Starring: Jeremy Irons, Fran├žois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Peter Sullivan and Sean Harris. Boxset Content: 10 episodes on 3 Blu-rays. Released: August 6, 2013.