The Borgias (2011–2013)
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World of Wonders 

The Pope excommunicates Friar Savanarola and he fails a test by fire while Giovanni haunted by shame and the agonies of syphilis threatens Lucrezia's son.


David Leland


Neil Jordan (creator), David Leland




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
Steven Berkoff ... Girolamo Savonarola
Julian Bleach ... Niccolo Machiavelli
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
David Alpay ... Calvino
Tom Austen ... Raffaello
Jesse Bostick ... Antonello
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Cardinal Versucci


The Pope has decided once and for all to rid himself of Brother Savonarola by excommunicating him. Cesare travels to Florence to give him one last chance to present himself to the Pope but to no avail. He challenges Savonarola to prove he is right, a challenge the Brother foolishly accepts. In Rome, the Duke of Genoa withdraws his marriage proposal in favor of his brother who is in love with Lucrezia. Juan Borgia's health continues to deteriorate. When he threatens Lucrezia's recently baptized son, she wishes him dead. It is Cesare however who takes action. Meanwhile, Cardinal Della Rovere's plot to poison the Pope is moving forward. Having found his food tester's body in the river, the Pope selects a new tester, Della Rovere's young assassin. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-MA | See all certifications »



Hungary | Ireland | Canada



Release Date:

10 June 2012 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Korda Studios, Etyek, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


Savaranola's trial by fire actually occurred in 1498, a year after Juan's murder in 1497. See more »


In actuality Savonarola was never taken to Rome for torture. Everything that happened to him after his arrest happened in Florence. See more »


Girolamo Savonarola: [Contemptuously to Cesare] Lies ooze from your mouth like pus from a dead horse!
See more »


The Borgias Main Titles (Instrumental)
Performed by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"What happened to you Juan? You were such a lovely child"
22 July 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When one sees the word "wonders" in a title, it is very difficult not to be excited and expect great things. We do get great things from "World of Wonders", which does deliver a wonderful episode, one of the best of Season 2. Though it has been amazing at how remarkably consistent the second season, in my opinion, has been in greatness. It doesn't happen an awful lot when there is a season for any show where the quality has been consistent instead of being an up and down roller-coaster that one sees often.

It is an episode that epitomises everything that was so good about Season 2 and why it is a much better, more even and more settled season than the still mostly very solid first season. Those numerous things, other than the production values, music, opening titles and acting always being top notch throughout 'The Borgias', being richer development of characters (especially Cesare and Juan), more plot advancement, tighter pacing where more went on, better dialogue, more individual scenes that stay in the memory more and have more emotional impact, Jeremy Irons being used better, more Savonarola, Lucrezia being a much stronger character, more tension, more emotion and even better character interaction. The only major thing that the season did wrong was dragging out the Della Rovere subplot too much, more often than not not going very far.

The least interesting plot strand actually in "World of Wonders" was with Calvino, Rafaello and Lucrezia. Thankfully there was little of it and it was resolved very quickly, but it really had nothing to it and didn't really add anything to the episode. It was very clear that the writers had run out of ideas of what to do with that strand or got uninterested with it. Part of me did think though that Rodrigo could have been more incensed than he was when denying the engagement.

Absolutely loved everything else. Here in "World of Wonders" we see Juan at his most reprehensible, which David Oakes relishes without being cartoonish, and he was already a loathsome character in Season 1 and was even more and became increasingly so in the second. None of the previous episodes though really saw Juan truly twist the knife and cause hurt to especially Cesare and Lucrezia, even doing a particularly unspeakable act that makes one's hatred of Juan reach fever-pitch. Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger's reactions to his behaviour, much of them wordless or saying little, were telling and wrenched the heart. Loved how Cesare was written here, Arnaud's dark intensity helping a lot, not just with Juan but with Savonarola as well.

Speaking of Savonarola, he always stole every scene he was in and Steven Berkoff clearly enjoyed making the character chilling and fun. His plot strand was very suspenseful and saw a couple of shocking but remarkable set pieces (trial by fire) that one is surprised it was done for television and done so well. Micheletto is a great character, creepy but understatedly so but Season 2 has developed him and very well. Sean Harris doesn't disappoint, loved his sarcasm and his reaction to the execution of the woman.

Can find, as almost always, find very little with Jeremy Irons (apart from that reaction). Loved his chemistry with Giulia (always did and it is one of my favourite things about 'The Borgias'), finally given something proper to do this second half of the season and is on scheming and sympathetic form in classic 'Borgias' fashion. More Vanozza is another bonus, and her line, the quote in my review summary, sums up the situation and how almost everyone in the family feels about Juan (except Rodrigo who is inexplicably oblivious).

Pacing is fine, didn't feel too much that there was too much going on for a very eventful episode. The dialogue is indicative of how far the writing for 'The Borgias' has come on, the aforementioned sarcasm, that aforementioned line of Vanozza, Savonarola's attitude to his fate and even the foreshadowing from Sforza. The climax was shocking yet oddly satisfying.

Visually, "World of Wonders" cannot be faulted. Sumptuous costumes, especially for Lucrezia and the baptism (Giovanni is still adorable) and equally stunning interiors and scenery. Beautifully complemented as ever by the photography. The music is beautiful and intense, while placed appropriately and never being too loud, and the main theme for 'The Borgias' will never fail to induce goosebumps (not many shows evoke that reaction from me). The opening titles sequence is one of my favourites of all time, whether film or television, those images stay with you forever.

Overall, very nearly-perfect episode that lives up to the episode's title. 9/10

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