EXCLUSIVE: The saga of The Borgias is coming to an end. The current third season of Showtime‘s medieval drama will be its last, with the June 16 season finale serving as series finale. Created by Neil Jordan, The Borgias stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of the infamous Borgia dynasty, who builds an empire by bribing, buying and muscling his way into the papacy.
The series was originally envisioned as going for four seasons, matching the run of predecessor The Tudors. But while filming a pivotal scene in the Season 3 finale, Jordan said Irons turned to him and told him that “this feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.” While mulling a potential fourth season, Jordan said he wasn’t sure he had enough material for 10 episodes and wasn’t sure whether Showtime would want to commit to another season either. “As a compromise, I proposed to finish the arc of all the characters with a two-hour movie,” Jordan said, adding that Showtime commissioned the script and he wrote it. “When they looked at what it could cost, it was just too expensive,” he said. “Sadly, that’s what happened. 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.” Jordan said he still likes where the story currently ends with the third season finale, especially for siblings Cesare and Lucrezia, and thanked Showtime for supporting his vision.Doing a standalone movie to wrap the big-budget Borgias would’ve been hard to pull off not only from a production but also from a marketing and promotion standpoint. “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,” Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins said. “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.”
The Borgias is ending its run on a high note. Season-to-date, the series averages 2.4 million weekly viewers across platforms, on par with its sophomore season through the same time frame, while its most recent eighth episode delivered the series highest-rated episode and night this season. Nevins praised Jordan as “an amazing filmmaker and a storyteller and filmmaker.” “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 how Jordan envisioned The Borgias to end, “I wanted a totally biblical ending, for the pope to burn in hell,” he said. 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,” Jordan said. He is now returning to movies, keeping up hope he could still make the proposed Borgias two-hour finale, maybe as a feature.
Filmed entirely on location in Budapest, The Borgias‘ final episode finds Alexander (Irons) and Cesare (François Arnaud) reconciled at last, and now ready to take their first step toward their ultimate goal: to create a hereditary kingdom across the heart of Italy. Co-starring in the series, a Canadian-Irish-Hungarian Treaty co-production, are Holliday Grainger, Joanne Whalley, Lotte Verbeek, Sean Harris, Thure Lindhart, Gina McKee, Peter Sullivan, Julian Bleach and Colm Feore. Jordan serves as executive producer, writer and director of select episodes. The third season is also executive produced by Jack Rapke, Darryl Frank, John Weber, Sheila Hockin and James Flynn. The Borgias so far has earned Irons a Golden Globe nomination and a series total of 10 Emmy nominations, earning two awards in its second season for Outstanding Costumes and Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.