The Borgias (2011–2013)
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Stray Dogs 

Cesare learns that Ursula and others at the convent have been slaughtered by the French, and he plans revenge as the Pope organizes a coalition to attack the retreating French.


Jon Amiel


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
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Ruta Gedmintas ... Ursula Bonadeo
Roger Lloyd Pack ... Friar
Michel Muller ... King Charles VIII
Jemima West ... Vittoria
Ivan Kaye ... Ludovico Sforza
Patrick O'Kane ... Francesco Gonzaga
Melia Kreiling ... Bianca


The Pope salutes Vittoria's clever deception of the French and Cesare urges him to build real cannons for the next time. Cesare races to the convent when he learns that Ursula Bonadeo has died after an attack by the French. Cardinal Sforza suggests that his cousin, Ludovico of Milan, may have a plan to defeat the French. Ludovico proposes that the combined armies of Rome, Venice and Milan meets the French in battle on the field of honor, led by the Duke of Mantua. The Pope agrees but Cesare believes he has a different way of fighting the French. He organizes a small band of men who can attack in the dead of night and then disappear. The prisoners they capture tell him why they attacked the convent. On the night prior to the battle, Cesare and his small band manage to destroy the French supply of gunpowder thereby neutralizing their artillery. Back in Rome, Giulia Farnese advises the Pope of a great many discrepancies with the funds that were destined to the poor. At Giulia's ... Written by garykmcd

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Hungary | Ireland | Canada



Release Date:

29 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
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


King Charles of France was only 25 during his campaign in Italy. The actor playing this role is more than 20 years too old for the part. See more »


Rodrigo Borgia: So deception has a place in warfare?
Cesare Borgia: As in life.
See more »


The Borgias Main Titles
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"God's blessing comes at a price"
26 June 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

A few major components were unevenly executed when 'The Borgias' first started, meaning the first few episodes or so didn't feel completely settled. The first season did get much better overtime and the problematic components (dialogue and pacing, and Holliday Grainger took until the fifth episode "The Borgias in Love", when 'The Borgias' started to hit its stride, to come into her own) improved a lot. So the first season started off promisingly but uevenly and became great in my view.

Season 2 for me was a much better and more settled season, where the numerous great components were even greater, the storytelling was more involving and emotionally investable, the characterisation richer and the writing and pace had come on leaps and bounds. Loved the first three episodes of the season, "The Borgia Bull", "Paolo" and especially "The Beautiful Deception", loved this episode "Stray Dogs" as well and perhaps even more so. It is a darker episode perhaps than those three and the tension was more, with the story really progressing here.

Production values in "Stray Dogs" are still extremely high, wouldn't have expected any less though because this aspect was one that was consistently great and more throughout 'The Borgias' too short run. 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 is still rich in intensity and beauty. And will never get tired of the amazing opening titles sequence. The visuals and main theme, perfectly matched, never fail to give me chills, when it comes to opening titles sequences that for 'The Borgias' is one of my all-time favourites. The visuals look splendid and so cleverly done, and will never forget the main theme. 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.

When it comes to the writing, Lucrezia's dialogue in the scene full of cookery metaphors is an absolute joy and one just love her intuition and craftiness here. The exchange between Rodrigo and Gonzaga is a highlight as well, Rodrigo sure knows how to make people uncomfortable. The story had me riveted throughout, it is eventful without being over-stuffed and always intrigued. Didn't think that there was anything that slowed the episode down. The torture and the climax with Cesare were rich in tension, and the St Cecilia scene was both harrowing and poignant where one feels Cesare's grief and anger (even though Ursula never did anything for me as a character, the scene itself was powerful and introduces the darker side to Cesare).

The character interaction has never been a problem for me, and it isn't here. Always loved Rodrigo and Cesare together and it was interesting to start to see a different side to their relationship, where they begin to be not as close. Rodrigo and Giulia have also always been great together and love Giulia herself, so charming and alluring with scheming and sympathetic sides to her character. The subtly creepy Micheletto steals every scene, liked too that one sees more development to him, and there is a great scene between Rodrigo and Charles, which sees another look at Charles' conflicted side.

Jeremy Irons is never less than captivating and although he was always one of the best assets of Season 1 the second season saw even more growth in his acting and he was used better. He still delivers on the gravitas, melifluous line delivery and in making Rodrigo a complex and deliberately inconsistent (no black or white with him) character. Holliday Grainger is suitably crafty and Lotte Verbeek is ravishing as ever. Sean Harris is suitably unnerving without ever overdoing it, but found myself most impressed by Francois Arnaud here, he has come on a long way in the part and one does feel his grief and want for vengeance.

Not everything worked for me though. The Rome scenes were given slightly too much short shrift, with the episode being very Cesare heavy.

Also didn't know what to make of the scene between Rodrigo and Bianca. The music was great and the editing was very clever, in the scene itself and how it doubled simultaneously with the climactic attack. The scene however in how it was staged felt more pornographic than seductive.

In conclusion, Season 2 continues to go strong. 9/10

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