Showtime’s rich, complicated Renaissance drama The Borgias will be coming to an end earlier than expected. The third season finale on June 16th will also serve as a series finale, as Showtime has also scrapped plans for a two-hour wrap-up movie. Though The Borgias held steady in the ratings this year, its production costs were deemed too high to continue. Additionally, creator Neil Jordan wasn’t sure he had enough material in mind for a full fourth season, but had still hoped to be able to wrap things up for Pope Alexander (Jeremy Irons), Cesare (François Arnaud) and Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) with a film.
The series’ complexity and intense drama has kept it on critics’ radars throughout its run (and included a Golden Globe nomination for Irons and 10 Emmys for the series so far), but unfortunately it never gained the exposure or interest of a period drama series like HBO’s Game of Thrones (and admittedly was never as engaging, though still made for great TV). Hit the jump for more on what Jordan had to say about the finale, and the way he had hoped to end the series in a movie.
According to Deadline, at a point during the filming of the third season, Jeremy Irons turned to Jordan and said “this feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.” The Borgia family went through a lot to end the second season and throughout the third, including Cesare’s murder of his brother Juan (David Oakes) as well as Cesare and Lucrezia consummating their incestuous love for one another (something viewers have been expecting since the series began). Jordan said of the decision to the end the series early, “I would have loved to bring all the characters to a conclusion. All of the actors were heartbroken we couldn’t continue, and so was I.”
Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins said,
“Ultimately the show was designed as a regular series, and I was reluctant to do an extra two-hour disconnected from the whole that could be potentially anti-climactic. Now we have a nice upward build towards the finale. We have a nice ending, a good climax, and I didn’t want to muck it up with an afterthought.”
He went on to praise Jordan, saying, “This is what premium television can do — take stories that can’t be contained in two-hour movie and blow them up to make an amazing series. The Borgias is Auteur Television at its best.”
As for Jordan’s vision of the true finale of the series,
“I wanted a totally biblical ending, for the Pope to burn in hell. That is how he wrote the proposed two-hour finale, with the Pope dying and no one willing to hear his confession. When they finally find a confessor and the Pope starts to repent his sins, the confessor interrupts him, saying, ‘I’m sorry, it’s too late, you’re already dead and burning in hell.’ This satisfies all moral feelings about the Pope.”
While the third season lacked a certain spark that held together the first two seasons — maybe it was the lack of Juan, or the breaking of the tension between Cesare and Lucrezia, or the fact that the Pope was finally starting to pay for his sins — but it seems like things will be ending for the Borgia family now on a high note, especially for the siblings, which ultimately is good news. Whether fans end up thinking it’s satisfactory remains to be seen.