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Published on May 21st, 2012 | by Bags Hooper


The Borgias Season 2 Episode 7: ‘The Siege at Forli’ – How Many Deaths Can Juan Borgia Die Before He Dies?

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Whenever a historical drama actually dips into a historical event, viewers are rewarded for their loyalty. Sure, most of the situations may be fabrications of the truth. However, those few moments of history keep us grounded in reality so that the illusion of historical truth can be maintained.

In The Borgias, “The Siege at Forli”, we were presented with two key events. The first was one of many attacks on Forli, before the city eventually lost its independence. Caterina Sforza, aka the Lady of Forlì, found herself besieged by Juan and the papal armies. Fortunately for her, Juan’s lack of military prowess left him ill suited to lead the papal armies against canon fire. When standard military tactics failed him, Juan decided to resort to deceit. Under the guise of the white flag, Juan set up a parlay with Caterina and her son.

When Caterina refused to “bend the knee” (it’s hard not to think of Game of Thrones when I hear that line), Juan had one of his archers shoot cause a distraction so that the papal armies could kidnap Caterina’s son. Then, Juan proceeded to torture Caterina’s son, hoping that it would compel the Lady of Forli to submit. To his chagrin, she did not. She even went so far as to flash her private parts, stating that she could make ten more sons.

Caterina’s son may have lost a finger in the foray, but the Lady of Forli held her city safe when support flanked the papal armies. We were given our first major “battle” scene this season that didn’t involve Cesare’s band of cutthroats. Mini-cannons shredded the papal armies, while arrows pierced the eye-sockets of Juan’s men. Juan, of course, ran away while his men where being captured and killed.

Our second big historical event surrounded Cesare, Machiavelli and Girolamo Savonarola. In the “Bonfire of the Vanities”, Savonarola incited the masses (most notably the children) to round up all the mirrors, cosmetics, works of art and other works deemed immoral so that they could be burned. There wasn’t much action, but we did see more of the subtler moments that we’ve come to love on The Borgias.

For instance, when the children knocked at Machiavelli’s door, Micheletto stated, “Gods children are knocking at the door.”

Machiavelli responded, “God will follow later.”

Cesare asked Micheletto, if he would care to answer. Micheletto replied, “No.” Cesare, in turn, replied “No” as well when Micheletto asked him the same question. However, when Cesare asked Machiavelli the question, the scholar simply said, “I hear no knocking.”

Once again, I have to give kudos to Julian Bleach and the writers for instilling such strong charisma in the character of Machiavelli.

There were a few stand out moments in Episode 207:
– Apparently Juan has some form of STD, probably gonorrhea or syphilis.
– Lucrezia will probably marry her father’s chosen suitor and have an affair with his younger brother, the person she is more interested in
– Juan returned to Rome with cigars and a panther. That may have been the most random opening or moment to any episode of The Borgias to date. It was apparently the first time they had ever seen smoke and all the Cardinals were mystified.
– It was also funny to hear Lucrezia say that the Pope looked like he had a turd in his mouth when he was smoking the cigar
– Machiavelli stole a book before the Bonfire of the Vanities started. Which book was it?
– According to William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” If that’s the case, which death is Juan on because he seems to be a bastion of cowardice?

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  • Bandit Queen

    Although Juan never besieged Catherina Sforza, he husbands assassins the Orsi did, and she was later captured by Cesare after another attempt, it suits the Juan character that he should fall even further from grace and turn into a coward, before being killed himself, by a hooded figure in the depths of night, most likely on the orders of his own brother, Cesare. Cesare is famous for his capture of Catherina Sforza and for his conquest of the Romagna in northern Italy. Of course he has to get beloved younger brother out of the way first in order to become the general of the Papal armies that he dreams of. Catherina’s famous declaration that if her son is killed she will have the means to make ten more is classic and the Bonfire of the Vanities was a highlight of the episode. Superb drama.

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