The Borgias (2011–2013)
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The Assassin 

Micheletto, Orsini's assassin is recruited by Cesare to defect into the service of Della Rovere who is trying to prove Rodrigo has taken on a mistress.


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
Simon McBurney ... Johannes Burchart
Derek Jacobi ... Cardinal Orsini
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
László Konter László Konter ... Cardinal Colonna
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Cardinal Versucci
Bosco Hogan ... Cardinal Piccolomini
Attila C. Arpa ... Assassin 1 (as Attila Árpa)


With Cardinal Orsini's assassin in custody, Cesare Borgia plots to ensure the man's loyalty but Cardinal Della Rovere isn't so sure that the man knows nothing and also seeks his loyalty. The Cardinal soon organizes those who voted against the Pope and searches for a legal means to dethrone the him For his part, the Pope installs a new mistress, Giulia Farnese, in Orsini's palace. The Pope's 14 year-old daughter Lucrezia tells her mother of Giulia's presence in the Papal rooms leading to a major confrontation. It may also provide Della Rovere what he needs to depose him. The Pope moves to neutralize Della Rovere and announces the appointment of 13 new Cardinals, including his son Cesare. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-MA | See all certifications »



Ireland | Canada | Hungary


English | Latin

Release Date:

3 April 2011 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Orsino Orsini was the name of Giulia Farnese's husband, but he was not the cardinal played by Derek Jacobi who was poisoned in the premiere episode. The Borgias did poison a Cardinal Giambattista Orsini in 1503, not in 1492. See more »


Cesare Borgia: You are aware, Holy Father, of the plots against us?
Rodrigo Borgia: Oh, what would Rome be without a good plot?
See more »


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

"Oh, what would Rome be without a good plot?"
10 May 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Absolutely loved 'The Borgias' when first seeing it, re-watching it after finally getting the box-set my opinion on the most part has not changed. Do feel though now, something that wasn't noticed as much before, that it was a slow starter, the pacing and writing not settling straight away. While also loving so many things and noticing more things to like, a couple of assets are now very special and am kicking myself at how not noticing before how special they were.

'The Borgias' was addictive when first viewing it, actually found it even more addictive now evidenced by watching for example four episodes in one night. As said, it took a little time to settle but when it did settle it was riveting television and things that were iffy when the show first started (namely the pace and writing) did improve over time. Even if finding the pacing, writing and a couple of other aspects uneven at first, there were things that were great from the get go and didn't disappoint throughout the show's too short run. Those being the production values, music, opening titles sequence and the acting of Jeremy Irons. Inaccuracies are many, but personally watched the show on its own terms rather than expecting one hundred percent fidelity to history, which 'The Borgias' in the first place was never about, and it is wholly successful on that front.

Following on from a promising and mostly solidly done season and show premiere "The Poisoned Chalice", although it understandably it didn't feel settled in everything, "The Assassin" continues that promise and while with the same strengths and faults generally it is slightly better with more happening, things advancing and a few more memorable moments. Again things are still settling and still being set up, but the potential is great.

Visually, like "The Poisoned Chalice" and the whole of 'The Borgias' for that matter, "The Assassin" looks stunning. Nothing is quite on the same level as the scene where Rodrigo is declared Pope in "The Poisoned Chalice", but It is just so exquisitely shot, whether in more intimate scenes or the more expansive ones. In the more intimate (in scale that is, but no less dramatic) scenes, like between Rodrigo and Cesare, it doesn't feel claustrophobic, while faring even better in the grander moments. The costumes, interiors and scenery left me in awe in their rich colours and attention to detail, as well as their authenticity. Having the feel of stepping into a Renaissance painting.

Have said already about how big an impact the music had on me, so beautifully performed and sung. In the dramatic parts it manages to not be intrusive and it really stirs the emotions. Am amazed at having not mentioned in my review for the show the opening titles sequence, a glaring over-sight. 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, it makes for one of my all-time favourite opening title sequences.

Much of the storytelling is fine here. There is enough political intrigue here, though it's all set up at the moment. In terms of individual scenes, my favourite is Giulia Farnese's seduction of Rodrigo in the confessional, one of the best scenes of the first season and one of my personal favourites of the show. "The Assassin" is also fascinating in its character interactions, which have developed here, and the characterisation is becoming richer apart from the still underwritten female characters. The interaction between Cesare and Micheletto has genuine suspense and there is intensity in that between Rodrigo and Cesare. It is that between Rodrigo and Giulia that scintillates though, have always found their chemistry one of the show's more interesting ones. Just to say that the ending is not for the faint-hearted and not to watch while eating.

Jeremy Irons again sinks his teeth into Rodrigo and embodies his complex personality, he may be miscast physically but the performance is right on the money in my eyes. The gravitas, the menace, the intensity and the charm, the relishing of the lines, all there. Whether in the more intense scenes, like with Francois Arnaud's Cesare (becoming more darkly charismatic the more interesting Cesare becomes) or the blistering confrontation between Joanne Whalley (did feel for Vanozza and didn't find her histrionic at all, considering the situation of the confrontation in particular it is actually in my mind how someone would react if in that situation). Or in quieter moments like the seduction, with eyes and facial expressions that tell so much while saying little or nothing (that is a big part of Irons' appeal as an actor as well as his unmistakable and listen-to-for-hours voice), and the wordless walk through the corridor to Giulia's room. Lotte Verbeek is one to watch, Sean Harris is terrifying and Colm Feore has the right authority for his role.

Once again, the pace is still a bit on the slow side with the Della Rovere subplot lacking in a bit of momentum in spots. The writing is still yet to properly settle, again some of it is thought-provoking and entertains while other parts are soap-operatic and on the melodramatic side.

Still find Holliday Grainger a bit bland as Lucrezia, the bat out of hell and manipulative personality is yet to come out (it was until the fifth episode when that did start to emerge with the end of the fourth being the catalyst). Much of the problem though is that Lucrezia is still underwritten and hasn't grown as a character, she also does not have a lot to do here. The darker scenes of the episode are a little too darkly lit.

In conclusion, continues the promising streak with some great things but room for improvement as well. 7.5/10

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