Monday, April 14, 2014

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 2, Episode 4: The Ends of the Earth

Lupo is having all kinds of conniption fits over the truth about the Pope being an imposter and agrees to take Lucrezia to see her father (but denies her bodyguard – calling him a “slant eyed brute” which Lucrezia objects to). Lucrezia also expands on that whole drowning story – Imposter Pope and Real Pope (hereby IP and RP) are brothers, but IP is the younger who, even as a child, was jealous. So tried to drown his big brother (they may be twins which means, I guess, he has extra bitterness about being considered the youngest). This basically reveals that IP has always been kinda evil.

Lucrezia gets to see her dad, but RP doesn’t want to escape because of cryptic schemes of crypticness. We do get a flashback to how IP (and a younger Riario) used RP’s affection for his daughters to catch him almost alone and unguarded, allowing his twin to kidnap him and take his place.

Anyway, Lucrezia insists on being let in on the cryptic plan because she’s sick of crypticness for crypticness sake and when he ignores 2 separate rescue attempts it kind of begs an explanation. Of course, we don’t get to hear it – but Lupo leads her to the Sword of Osman (the sword of the first ruler of the Ottoman Empire and very symbolic – which is apparently in Rome for REASONS) in the secret archives (that he controls) but gets very put out when she wants to take it with her. The secret archives don’t generally allow borrowing. He tries to threaten her but she’s not even slightly impressed. A guard captain finds them and grabs Lucrezia (she hasn’t had her requisite sex-shaming insult yet this episode, he throws in a few “harlots” in case she misses them) and she demands Lupo pick a side – and he stabs the guard.

Lucrezia and her side-kick prepare to head off to Constantinople for reasons unknown and we have another flashback of when IP took over – and killed her little sister (despite Riario speaking up on both their behalf) because she was innocent – and innocence is useless.m Lucrezia became Riario’s possession/responsibility.

Leo and co are on a ship and Leo continues to be intelligent and erratic and random while Zoroaster and Amerigo continue to be very very practical and worry about silly things like supplies. And there’s another problem, the Circassian slaves they freed are praying and chanting a lot and some of them have stolen knives. Leo is confused by the practical ones explain the difference between agreeing to go on the voyage when you’re all euphoric about being freed and then realising what you’ve agreed to when you’ve been at sea for a week and are heading to uncharted lands no-one’s ever heard of. Amerigo’s also pretty contemptuous of the Circassian beliefs and intelligence and the captain just wants to kill them all.

Leo wants to explain things. Hey, first time for everything.

He tries to teach the Circassians but his explanation rests on “look new stars” and “trust me!” neither of which are impressive. He keeps talking and eventually proves that the Earth is round to them – and that he can read the stars. Which will proves he knows where they’re going because… HUGE LOGIC LEAP just run with it.

Anyway, he actually gets the stargazing wrong, there’s a brief mutiny in which absolutely no-one is stabbed but those loyal to Leo manage to defeat the Circassians and the captain and Amerigo both declare that mutiny must be met with death – ‘tis a rule or something. Leo begs them to be chained instead or killed.

Zoroaster is pissed off because he’s just returned the slaves to slavery, he’s not impressed by Leo pointing out they did try to kill him since the Circassians thought he was killing them. When Leo dismisses their superstition Zoroaster angrily hits out at the man chasing after the Leafy Book to an unknown continent based on so little evidence – who is he to criticise anyone’s superstitions? He points out Leo could be killing them all and when Leo woundedly says Zoroaster said he’d follow him, Zoroaster says he follows a genius artist who wants to free the future. Which isn’t much like Leo. Leo is all sad and wounded that Zoroaster doesn’t trust him, Zoroaster points out all the genius in the world won’t make him support chaining people up.

Anyway, this reality check causes Leo to have a genius moment and recognise heliocentrism. Which really says a lot about how little attention he was giving Zoroaster’s lecture really. But after the inspiration he does agree to free the mutineers from the chains. But when they go down into the hold, everyone is dead. Fearing that Leo was taking them away from their ancestral home which would stop their souls returning, they killed each other. Only Yana is left. They unchain her and she holds a knife to Zoroaster’s throat and demands Leo kill her. Which may be the strangest hostage demand ever. They don’t grant it and Leo frees Zoroaster so later he can angst a bit.

On the other ship, Riario and Nita have a conversation about piety and grace – and we get hints of Riario’s self-loathing (even through the lens of Nita’s… charitable assessment of him) and even a growing questioning of his father, the Imposter Pope. He’s apparently teaching Nico – how to survive “when grace fails”

He goes to see Nico, offering him artist supplies to pass the time but Nico has no creative talent. Which begs the question why he follows Leo as the son of a lawyer, nearly qualified and with no artistic flare? He further questions Nico’s overwhelming loyalty to Leo – and Nico just throws it back at him, accusing Riario of betraying the pope to get the Leafy Book so he can have the intelligence Leo already has. Oooooh… direct hit there Nico. Direct Hit.

Later Riario returns to recap us on the Book of Leaves and make more cryptic comments about the “Labyrinth” and the shadowy bull-men-demon-things that Leonardo hallucinated about who are after the Leafy Book. I presume this is very clumsy foreshadowing. But there’s a storm arriving which is scary and the ship may founder on the rocks. Nico is masochistically smug that they’re all going to die without Leo’s help. I’m, however, bemused at where they found “rocks” in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, they could still be in the Mediterranean or off the coast of Europe or Africa… in which case I rather think their ship’s captain may be slightly more experienced.

The storm hits and it’s bad and Riario actually admits Nico may have been right about Leo (is he Storm in an amazing disguise? Otherwise what was Leo supposed to do?)

And to finish off all the random storylines that fill this season – Lorenzo and Piero are making their way to Naples and heavily recapping to pass the time. They pass a priest selling indulgences just to remind us how corrupt IP is. That night while camping Lorenzo pokes Piero about his contempt for his son – with all the amazing things Leo’s created, how could Piero not be proud of him? Piero seems to find the very concept alien. He does talk about the first canvas Leo painted – which he threw away because he is so bitter about Leo’s mother leaving he’s always hated Leo. Someone recognises them and tries to steal the vast sum of gold they’re carrying (Florentine “diplomacy”) so we have a fight scene – because this whole “we head to Naples and drop exposition” is a rather dull storyline. To absolutely no-one’s surprise, the robbers are stabbed.

They reach Naples and are taken by the border guard.

Nico is supposed to be a young Machiavelli and by this it seems that Riario is the one who will turn him into that even as Zita plays a role in redeeming him. Please let her have an actual character rather than being the magical black woman – the slave – who makes Riario a better man (in between bouts of Gratuitous Heterosexuality).

Are we pretending that a flat Earth was actually a common belief at this time, or are we singling out the Circassians as extra-super-ignorant?

Zoroaster gave Leo a super reality check which was kind of good and certainly past due. But I do kind of wonder exactly what Zoroaster thinks you should do in the face of mutiny especially in a time and place where the death penalty was a go-to.

It’s interesting to see Lucrezia involved and doing something – and a little insight into her backstory – may this Lucrezia continue, she’s finally developing… less so that she has an Asian side-kick who has still not opened his mouth to say something. Between him and Zita, I’m beginning to think POC are thrown in just to be seasoning.

I’m generally left with an epic sense of not caring. Lorenzo and Piero headed to Naples. Still. Lucrezia is doing something that could be interesting but is so ill-defined as to yet to hold interest. Everyone else is sailing – sailing with character growth for Riario or sailing and doing – I actually have no idea what Leo’s doing but it’s not that interesting