This review contains spoilers.
1.8 The Lovers
I think one of the reasons why Da Vinci’s Demons has failed to resonate with me is that it reminds me quite a bit of an inferior version of Game of Thrones. The first season of Spartacus had the very same problem for me, and after the first few episodes of that show I ended up checking out for the rest of the show’s run, even as the programme improved in the eyes of critics and fans alike. Da Vinci’s Demons, while I stuck with it for the entire run of the first season, has yet to show any consistent signs of improvement.
That said, not all is bad in this week’s episode. As the big season finale, it’s a pretty fast-paced episode that features some very interesting action set pieces. Given that we know there’s a conspiracy in the works with Rome finding an alliance both with Urbino and with the blood enemy of the Medicis, Francesco Pazzi, it’s not a huge surprise that this particular situation would be the center of the season finale even though they only set up the conspiracy in the previous episode.
It seems a bit strange that the show rushed the Pazzi Conspiracy so quickly, yet took the bulk of the season having Leonardo looking around for the secret of the Book of Leaves. The pacing seems off. Leonardo’s exploration of the world may take seasons to finish up as he looks for his long-lost mother, but you run through one of the more dramatic episodes in Florentine history in two hours of show? It seems a bit much. The whole back and forth with Lucrezia as Rome’s cat’s paw lasted longer than this, and that didn’t have nearly the potential for drama than the struggle between Medici and Pazzi for the soul and control of Florence.
The show is fascinated with Leonardo, and it really wants to push the supernatural fantastic elements, particularly the Book of Leaves. That’s all well and good, but why drag in so much of the real world in the process and then conveniently speed it up or slow it down as you see fit in order to cram in an eel-gutting bit of fortune telling from Cosimo Medici and the three Sons of Mithras we’ve seen this season (the Turk, the Jew, and the Abyssinian)? Leonardo versus Lorenzo would be entertaining television. Leonardo and Lorenzo versus Pope Sixtus would be entertaining as well. I think trying to integrate the fantastic into the history is a great idea, but the execution has been inconsistent at best.
When the show tries to be an adventure, it seems to struggle. The script is just too scattered. There are some nice moments where the two concurrently-running story lines intertwine, but most of the time the show seems to leave one setting for the other just when the dramatic tension seems to be rising. When it works, it works well, but most of the time it’s just kind of a distraction, forcing the audience to figure out just who is doing what at what time, and how far along that particular thread of plot has gone.
While this week’s episode was as consistently inconsistent as the rest of the season, there was a lot to like. After all, there were multiple sword-fights this week, and a pretty impressive image of two blood-splattered priests menacing innocent children with daggers. I can’t hate a show that’s so willing to dig into the sordid history of the Catholic Church and also add a new spin on the Dracula mythos at the same time.
Still, ending on an overt cliffhanger is really irritating.
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