By Caryn James | James on Screens June 17, 2012 at 9:00AM
On a day packed with season finales, two wildly different series stand out: Lena Dunham’s increasingly brilliant Girls on HBO (for a preview, click here) and the extravagant Neil Jordan-created Showtime drama, The Borgias, which ends its glorious and gory second season tonight with one of its most affecting episodes -- and an ending that would feel unresolved if we didn’t know a third round is in the works.
Throughout this explosive season, while Savonarola set fires in Florence and Machiavelli offered the Borgias some life-coaching, Cesare (Francois Arnaud) has become more brutal than ever (and his stylists have made him even better looking). Not coincidentally, poor cowardly Juan (David Oakes) died; yes, fratricide runs in the Borgia family. Lucretzia (Holliday Grainger) has learned how to mingle manipulation and romance. But no character has been more intriguing to watch than Papa Borgia, the ever-more incredible Jeremy Irons.
In tonight’s finale, he turns inward to face his own responsibility for the fate of his beloved Juan, and the scenes in which he mourns for one son and absorbs a shattering confession from the other give us Irons at his finest.
The Borgias may be less buzzy than Girls, but it's just as unmissable. Here’s a glimpse of the finale.
If you live in NY or LA and have Time Warner Cable or Direct TV, this weekend Showtime is having a free, Emmy-conscious preview (just in time for voters to catch Irons at work).