This review contains spoilers.
2.5 – The Sun and the Moon
I think one of the reasons Da Vinci’s Demons has struck a pretty decent chord among the viewing public is because it shares a lot of similarities to Patty and Selma Bouvier’s favorite television program, MacGyver. Leonardo, like MacGyver, is a world traveler and polymath who can solve pretty much any problem you put in front of him using primarily physical sciences. Leonardo has a sketchbook, MacGyver uses a Swiss army knife. Leonardo and MacGyver both try not to kill people unless they absolutely have to and associate with a variety of interesting characters during their adventures. Both of them have awesome hair. And, most importantly, both of them routinely get in over their heads.
Leonardo Da Vinci has found himself in an entirely new land, full of entirely new plants and animals, entirely new customs, and entirely new people who speak an entirely new language from completely unfamiliar language families. He’s fascinated, because that’s his character; meanwhile, Zoroaster and two redshirt sailors are miserable, attacked by mosquitos and oppressed by the heat and humidity of the South American jungles. There’s also the inevitable misunderstanding with the natives that puts our hero and the quest for the Book of Leaves in peril.
Speaking of peril, Lorenzo and Piero are trapped in the dungeons of the King of Naples, and they’re a little distracted from their mission by the fact that Duke Alphonso’s wife is Lorenzo’s first love and King Ferrante is also kind of a crazy Roose Bolton-style sadist complete with a black museum full of preserved dead bodies. Lorenzo gets distracted by love and poison, Piero goes back to jail, and Ferrante gives an impromptu lesson on the preservation of bodies in gloriously disgusting fashion. There’s also a little trouble on the Medici homefront (after Vanessa gets shown Chekhov’s hallway of whispers) with Claire continuing to fight for her position at the head of the Medici family bank while Carlo Medici fights for acceptance by both the bank and by his own relatives.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on here, and writers Dan Hess and Corey Reed do a fairly good job of keeping all the storylines relatively even, despite some being much bigger deals than others. The intrigues of the Medici bank pale in comparison to the episode’s B and A plots, but it’s still nice to see the show hasn’t abandoned Claire and Vanessa, and it’s also interesting to see that Claire is willing to keep herself entertained while Lorenzo isn’t around. Still, that particular plot seemed like it was taken apart too easily, though I do think Lorenzo’s adventure in the hands of Naples will prove to be very interesting, even if it is shaping up to be a lot like a similar plotline on Game of Thrones (though without the emasculation). Still, given that most of the people in Leonardo’s storyline are speaking a foreign language, I have to wonder if Hess and Reed wrote dialogue for them, or just had Quechuan speakers on set to improvise?
Either way, the scenes in Peru look phenomenal. The landscape is so varied, so rich and colorful, that it’s distracting from both our drab heroes and the camoflaged men that have been following them through the jungle. The first appearance is shocking; the second one less so, but with more people to make it a little more interesting. Director Jon Jones and the production staff do a great job of making the sets look authentic, the masks and costumes look particular impressive, and it’s just a nice contrast from the dank dungeons of Naples or the opulence of florence. The sacrifice are telegraphed since it’s two no-name sailors, but they’re both really well done and as gory as you please, what with the head smashing and the knife to the throat. I’m generally not a big fan of using redshirts, but you’re going to use them, may as well use them well and really make a mess with them.
It seems as though Leonardo is getting closer and closer to his ultimate goal, and now that the show has reunited Leo and Zoroaster with Nico and Riario, there’s more of a chance for sparks to fly between the show’s main hero and antagonist turned antihero. They’re in a new world where they may be the only Europeans for thousands of miles, and there’s a time limit on how long they have before the only surviving ship returns to the familiar shores of Italy. Lorenzo has all the time in the world, but Leonardo’s clock is already ticking.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is a fan of giant gold masks and corn farming, so he’d be very happy hanging around in Ancient Peru, looking for the Book of Leaves and chilling with Zoroaster. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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