The Borgias (2011–2013)
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Paolo searches for Lucrezia and their son, and the Pope inspects the lives of commoners with Vittoria and Guilia in disguise.


Neil Jordan


Neil Jordan (creator), Neil Jordan




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud ... Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger ... Lucrezia Borgia
Joanne Whalley ... Vanozza Cattaneo
Lotte Verbeek ... Giulia Farnese
David Oakes ... Juan Borgia
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Ruta Gedmintas ... Ursula Bonadeo
Luke Pasqualino ... Paolo
Augustus Prew ... Prince Alfonso
Noah Taylor
John Surman John Surman ... Shepherd
Jemima West ... Vittoria


The Pope decides to go out on the streets of Rome to see what he can learn about the people. Dressed in simple clothes and accompanied by his mistress Giulia Farnese and artist Vittoria, they wander about the city. The Pope is appalled at the poverty he sees around him (and the disgusting number of pigeons) and takes Cardinal Versucci, responsible for distributing money to the poor, to task. The Pope notes the number of beautiful villas he's constructed for himself in recent years. He's ordered to do better by the poor. Paolo, the father of Lucrezia Borgia's child, arrives in Rome looking for her. He's something of a laughing stock among the street women he meets when they learn who he's looking for. Paolo and Lucrezia meet and he sees his child. Juan however has his own plans for the peasant boy. Cardinal Della Rovere recovers sufficiently from the attempt to poison him him to leave the convent where he's been recovering. Written by garykmcd

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Hungary | Ireland | Canada



Release Date:

15 April 2012 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Korda Studios, Etyek, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


Lucretzia's child/infant never seems to age, remaining an infant in all subsequent episodes. See more »


Micheletto: [after killing two men who threaten Ursula] Forgive me, sister. Sometimes goodness needs the help of a little badness.
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The Borgias Main Titles
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"Sometimes goodness needs the help of a little badness"
12 June 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

There was a lot to recommend about Season 1. It was not perfect by any stretch, have said frequently about the writing and pacing being inconsistent and that it took about half a season to settle properly. While still being addictive viewing, because there were many merits and they were so good. The production values, music, opening titles and Jeremy Irons never disappointed, and there was some lovely chemistry of all emotions throughout.

Season 2 was much better and more settled, with what was inconsistent in the previous season being significantly improved. That was evident in watching the first four episodes of Season 2, including "Paolo" in one evening, and while the previous three times of watching three episodes in one evening with Season 1 this particular case was particularly gripping and consistent. Up to this point of 'The Borgias', "Paolo" to me is one of its best episodes. Especially in terms of characterisations, things moving forward narratively and with the characters and emotional impact.

Will admit to not being, and never have been, really a fan of Ursula. She never struck me as very interesting or easy to endear to and never believed in her chemistry with Cesare. Everything else played much bigger roles in the episode so she didn't quite bother me as much this time.

Improvements though are here in "Paolo" over the still great season opener "The Borgia Bull". Jemima West is a stronger presence and more comfortable here, she was one of the blander things about that episode (though that was down to her only just been introduced) but did find myself this time rooting for her situation, her answer to Rodrigo's question concerning his dismay at the living conditions of the poor really struck a chord. Della Rovere's contribution does not slow down the episode and actually feels like it's advancing whereas his subplot in a few of Season 1's episodes were a big weak link. Paolo is not bland and is sympathetically drawn, rootable as well.

A lot happens in "Paolo", yet it didn't feel over-stuffed or that there was too much going on in a short space of time which stops things from feeling rushed. Can find nothing to complain about with Lotte Verbeek, who is sympathetic and scheming in equal measure (loved her challenging of the Vatican's attitude towards women), or with her chemistry with Jeremy Irons. Rodrigo's subplot here is a very telling one, where the poor's living conditions leaves one as appalled as Rodrigo. It also sees him show a more caring side towards anything not concerning his family or mistresses. The most striking asset of "Paolo" is the writing for Juan, always one of the most show's most purposefully unpleasant characters here at his most chilling. That ending is tense as heck.

Have no issues with the performances here, with David Oakes staying most in the memory. Holliday Grainger has really grown as Lucrezia, and can find no fault at all with Jeremy Irons doing wonders with a remarkably complex interpretation of Rodrigo. He has such great chemistry with the rest of the cast as well, especially with Verbeek and Oakes. The writing is occasionally soap operatic, like with Paolo, but the improvement overall is immense. Sean Harris manages to be both scary and sympathetic.

Visually, 'The Borgias' continues to have very high production values with "Paolo", that was never a problem and continually one of the best of the good things about the show. The exquisitely designed and richly coloured costumes and scenery and interiors are wow-worthy, and the beautiful photography rivals period dramas on film. The music still has the beauty and intensity that were present in the previous episodes. Meanwhile the opening titles sequences and main theme still give me the chills. one of my favourite opening titles sequences of all time (film and television). The main theme is incredible, the sheer intensity, grandeur and drama (already sending chills down the spine and induces goosebumps before the episode's even begun) makes it one of my favourite main themes for any show. Matched by splendidly and cleverly designed visuals.

Concluding, terrific once again, one of the best 'The Borgias' episodes at this stage of the show. 9/10

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