The Borgias (2011–2013)
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The Gunpowder Plot 

Lucrezia escapes with Alfonso and her baby from Naples while the Pope corners the market in sulfur, restricting others from manufacturing gunpowder.


Neil Jordan


Neil Jordan (creator), Neil Jordan


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud ... Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger ... Lucrezia Borgia
Joanne Whalley ... Vanozza Cattaneo
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Thure Lindhardt ... Rufio
Gina McKee ... Caterina Sforza
Charlie Carrick ... Pascal
Sebastian De Souza ... Alfonso of Aragon
Prometheus Aleifer ... Roberto Orsini
Luke Allen-Gale ... Fredirigo
Pilou Asbæk ... Paolo Orsini
Brendan Cowell ... Mattai the Hebrew
Bálint Adorjáni Bálint Adorjáni ... Guard 1
Ferenc Hujber ... Guard 2


Both Pope Alexander and Cesare realize that Lucrezia is now being held hostage in Naple and that the King has allied himself with Caterina Sforza. As such, any attack on Caterina's Forli castle will result in Lucretia's death. Cesare leaves to rescue her. He does so without Micheletto who has eliminated his lover but has now disappeared. In Naples meanwhile, the court celebrates the festival of Bacchus and Lucrezia has made plans for her escape by spiking the wine with a sleeping potion. Once safely in Rome, Alfonso begins to suspect that Lucrezia and Cesare's feelings extend beyond simple sibling relations. The Pope conspires with Mattai the Hebrew to control the supply of sulfur, used to make gunpowder. Written by garykmcd

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English | Latin

Release Date:

9 June 2013 (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?


The original Latin spelling was 'sulpur,' but this was Hellenized to 'sulphur.' Although both spellings, sulphur and sulfur, are correct in modern English, depending on country, sulfur is more widely accepted currently. See more »


In the discovery of the sulfur that had fallen off the wagon, the guard at the gate lights it on fire. The sulfur burns with a shower of sparks like gunpowder. In reality, sulfur burns slowly with a short blue flame. See more »


Mattai the Hebrew: [to Gamaliel about his affecting appearing to be a Christian] I serve a Christian Pope so you can remain a Jew.
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The Borgias Main Titles
Performed by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"I look into his eyes, I see myself! Do you expect me to love that?!"
10 October 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Although Season 2 for me is the best of the three seasons (intended to be four before its cancellation due to the expense of production costs) that 'The Borgias' lasted for, all of Season 3's episodes ranged from very good ("The Purge", "The Wolf and the Lamb" and "Lucrezia's Gambit") to outstanding ("The Face of Death", "Tears of Blood" and this).

Do love 'The Borgias' as an overall show and despite starting a touch on the slow side all of the twenty nine episodes are decent and more ("Lucrezia's Wedding" and "The Borgias in Love" being my least favourites). "The Gunpowder Plot" is one of my favourite episodes of 'The Borgias' and it is just so sad that it is the show's penuiltimate episode. As far as Season 3 goes, it is one of the top 3 best along with the season premiere "The Face of Death", with that immensely powerful beginning, and "Tears of Blood" with the gut-wrenching Micheletto subplot. Although everything about it is great it is one of my favourites for one scene in particular, which will be mentioned a little later on.

It is every bit as great as the previous season's penultimate episode "World of Wonders" (another one of the best 'The Borgias' episodes), if just lacking the same amount of that episode's searing tension.

From personal opinion, "The Gunpowder Plot" is at its weakest with Alfonso. He is the most interesting he has been all season here and Sebastian De Souza doesn't fare too badly here either (admirably even), but Alfonso throughout the season came over as a rather dull and thankless character and still feel that everybody and everything else in the episode is much more interesting. His challenging of Cesare was filled with stupidity, especially when bringing up Juan.

Making up for that considerably is the way "The Gunpowder Plot" looks. 'The Borgias' from start to finish was always an impeccably made show, and "The Gunpowder Plot" is no different. The photography is very pleasing on the eye and boasts some clever touches, like Lucrezia walking the streets with the sense of being followed and making Cesare seem very mysterious. The music is full of atmosphere and never sounds intrusive, the main theme unforgettable. Will never tire of the opening titles sequence.

Of the writing, it is at its best with Cesare and Rodrigo. Rodrigo's line when speaking of seeing himself in Cesare brought a lump to my throat and sent chills down the spine. The story is full of political intrigue, tension and emotion. While Micheletto's storyline breaks the heart and the relationship between Rodrigo and Mattai (inexplicably have forgotten to mention how his character and especially the relationship with Rodrigo, full of conflicted emotions, were all season) fascinates, it's the confrontation between Rodrigo and Cesare, the joint best scene of the season along with the opening of "The Face of Death" and one of the show's finest, that sticks in the mind the most. It is the very meaning of earth shattering, Rodrigo's dialogue gave me chills, the tension between them sears and by the end the tears with me silently rolled. Have read some comments from some that felt that the scene ended too patly, not to me and felt it was a great and necessary way to resolve something that could have dragged out too long, done in a way that really wrenched the gut and only surpassed by Juan's burial in "The Confession" and the beginning of "The Face of Death" (the climax of "The Choice" is also up there if not quite as much).

Everybody here is on form, Francois Arnaud really shining, but Jeremy Irons is absolutely amazing here. Especially in this scene and especially in the "he is me" moment, where anger, self-loathing and long suppressed emotion just came out to goosebump-inducing and heart-breaking effect. Some powerful and honest stuff here.

In conclusion, wonderful. 9/10

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