The season 2 premiere of Da Vinci’s Demons (written by David Goyer…yes, that one…and Corey Reed) works as a heck of an entry point for those not familiar with the show that moved a mile a minute but seamlessly introduced the show’s huge cast while giving audiences a bit more bloodletting. “The Blood of Man” focused on the siege of Florence by the Pazzi family and the personal consequences of the invasion to each major player.
Well, Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley) is still a genius. The bulk of the episode sees Da Vinci, with the injured Lorenzo Medici in tow, trying to evade his arch nemesis Girolamo Riario, who is chasing the brilliant artist/sculptor/engineer/biologist/snappy dresser to find the evasive Book of Leaves before the Palpatine-like Pope Sixtus the Fourth. Da Vinci evades capture in Florence’s sewers and when cornered by his arch nemesis Riaro and his men, he uses a freakin’ bazooka to blow out the ceiling and escape. Yes, a Renaissance-era bazooka, that’s why you need to be watching this series.
After Lorenzo and Da Vinci escape, Leonardo must devise the world’s first blood transfusion to save Lorenzo’s life, which he does using a piece of lamb intestine, some sewing needles, and his knowledge of anatomy gleaned from dissecting countless corpses. Firstly, that’s awesomely insane, secondly, I guess genius blood could be used as a universal donor, and thirdly, that’s just awesome! The show plays some linear games as the episode opens with a flash-forward of Da Vinci and Riaro about to be executed in an Aztek or Inca ceremony. One assumes that the show will soon shift settings away from Florence, truly making the show a globe-hopping adventure. So, now throw a bit of ancient Indiana Jones into the amalgamation of awesome. Count us in.
Da Vinci is all that stands between Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan) and death. In the show, and in history, Lorenzo represents a patron of enlightened thought, a bastion of intellectual curiosity and artistic passion that serves to constantly piss off the Church. He is the man the Pazzis want dead, and he is the man Da Vinci must keep alive if he wants the world to stay safe from superstition and secular control. He’s also a man who wants to stick a knife in Da Vinci’s back because the artist stuck his enlightened penis in his wife’s mistress’ enlightened person. That’s a healthy bit of conflict right there. Lorenzo doesn’t do much this episode (beyond getting the world’s first plasma transfusion) but he is going to wake up pretty conflicted over whether to thank Da Vinci or kill him…as shown in the episode’s last few seconds.
Clarice Orsini, played by Sherlock’s Woman herself, Lara Pulver, continues to be a pleasure to watch. She has seemingly lost it all this episode as her husband is missing on the streets of Florence and she must protect her children from the angry mob of Pazzi loyalists at the gates. And protect them she does, as she claws, bludgeons, and rends everything in her path to keep her family and city safe. Pulver is a delight to watch in any role, and in Clarice, we have a strong female lead that carves her own path, never beholden to any man whether it be her husband, the most powerful man in Florence, or Da Vinci. One of the more powerful moments of the episode is when Clarice tells her guards to make sure they mercifully poison her children if the Pazzis breech the palace.
One of the more cringeworthy moments of the episode serves as a tribute to another Italian master, Lucio Fulci, as the always vicious Rairo threatens Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock) with a spike held just a half inch form her beautiful brown eye. That couldn’t have been easy for Haddock to film! Lucrezia adds classical beauty and a fiery passion to the plot, one that I hope continues as Lucrezia was seemingly killed after being forced to walk the plank by Riaro in a triple cliffhanger only this show would have i cozzi to pull off.
Girolamo Riaro (Blake Ritson) seems even more evil this season as he coldly threatens and finally attempts to execute Lucrezia and Zoroaster. There is a complexity to Riaro as he frees and allows a former African slave to accompany him on his quest to find Da Vinci. There is a strange honor and mercy combined with a callous disregard for human life that makes him one of the most complex characters in the show. The fact that Riaro ends up in South America about to be executed by lucha mask wearing Aztecs makes for a fascinating tease to what is to come this season.
Da Vinci’s staunchest allies, the thief Zoroaster (Gregg Chillin) and the apprentice Nico (Eros Vlahos) spend most of the episode separated from the genius. Zoroaster tries to gain access to a ship to wait for Da Vinci, but Riaro got there first, screwing up Zoroaster’s plans, which is a trend that continues from last season. Zoroaster is seemingly executed with Lucrezia, but if they escape, the two sex-crazed sensualists should enjoy each other’s company. Chillin and Vlahos are still a joy to watch on screen together.
Clarice Orsini’s bodyguard, Captain Dragonetti (Ian Pirie), has developed into the biggest badass of the Renaissance. He saves Clarice and her daughter during the course of the episode and if I was Clarice, I would just duct tape myself (after Leonardo invents duct tape of course) to Dragonetti and let the whole invasion thing play out.
The siege of Florence was like the battle of Helms Deep but with better food, and it looks like the second season, with all the needed character introductions already taken care of in season one (and there were a lot of them), season two of Da Vinci’s Demons is going to be an action focused tour through history with the volume amped up to deafening levels. This is going to be one hell of an action packed, if not historically accurate (because Dracula and bazooka), ride.
What I Learned:
– Blood transfusions in this era would have sucked.
– Firing a bazooka in a sewer is never a good idea unless one is running for his life from the Catholic Church.
– It is impossible to refer to Lara Pulver without calling her “The Woman.”
– According to this episode, ancient Aztek women were really freaking hot.