Monday, April 28, 2014

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 2, Episode 6: Rope of the Dead

Leonardo is now at the threshold of the Vault of Heaven (which he’s seen before in his visions/dreams/hallucinations/drug trips) and Ima tells him the key to get in is to become one with her forever. To which he puts on some rapid breaks – was that a proposal? She asks if he’s already spoken for and he says no (ouch Lucrezia); I do think there are more reasons to refuse marriage with a complete stranger than “I’m already with someone else” though. Is there a particular reason why weddings are needed here?

A man storms in to have an argument with Ima in Incan and then leave – he’s apparently her dad and he’s pretty confident Leo’s going to die in the upcoming trials (trials? Hey there’s some fine print!) Apparently he gets to set lots of tests for the marriage ceremony and he wants it to be hard because he’s quite happy for the Leafy Book to stay where it is. Oh and Leo’s mother is also in the Vault, she never left. There’s a good chance, then, that it’s actually Leo’s mother’s body in said vault.

Meanwhile Zoroaster prepares to strangle Riario but Zita stops him, singing Riario’s praises and claiming Riario saved her from slavery (which is a pretty revisionist take on matters). She also thinks Leo needs Riario

Anyway, the whole wedding things is revealed to the others when they’re pulled out to another huge group meeting. Honestly, how do these Incans get anything done with these huge ritual meetings every other day? Anyway, Ima gives Leo a gold pin as a token of their sharing their lives together – he points out he doesn’t have anything in return but she points to Lucrezia’s ring. He gives it to her. Next one of Leo’s friends have to spill blood for him (whose remains a myster). Ima chooses Riario because she thinks he’s good at blood spilling. Hah, yes. Of course Zita wants to protect him and stand in his stead because Stockholm Syndrome love.

First test is for Leo to put his hand in a statue of the god Viracocha containing snakes. Ima explains the test – Riario has to go through the corn fields where he’ll be hunted by 3 predators then kill another guardian who will guard the antidote. Antidote? Why, to the snake that just bit Leo (he collapses dramatically) that’s one ornery snake. If Riario fails Leo dies and everyone else is sacrificed.

While Riario gets on with that Ima gives Leo a potion to give him visions to go with his snake venom. Oh really, Ima, this is Leo. You want him to have visions you just have to poke him a little. This way involves a drug that makes Leo woozy and them having sex. Of course it does - because Gratuitous Heterosexuality. (And of course she’s naked but he isn’t). Let the vision quest commence (the camera man now runs for his coloured filters). First vision is of Dead Guiliano who gives Leo a riddle – is there even any tension in waiting to see if Leonardo Da Vinci can answer a riddle? Leo also promises the ghost to protect Vanessa. Onwards to see The Abyssinian with the Mona Lisa which Leo will paint in the future; at this point Leo never finishes a painting she he wants to know what’s so special about this one. Oh and we get a reminder that much of his history will be repressed (like him being gay? Oh Goyer, you want us to hate you).

More cryptic randomness follows. He’s reminded that staying too long in the visions is dangerous, then he gets to see himself in his death bed as an old man with extra reminders that not only are all of these visions completely incomprehensible but they’re all changeable anyway so ha! Old Leo tells him he has to protect the Leafy Book and it’ll cost him everything but he has to keep it away from the evil bullheaded people (we know, the Turk already said this in the last cryptic pointless vision). And old Leo is chained for random reasons of randomness.

Riario wakes up in the corn fields wearing a loin cloth and body paint. We hear a number of Incan men shouting. He brutally kills his first attacker (very messy) and takes the man’s knife. A clever trap and more brutal violence kills the second guy. More brutal violence, biting and stabbing and number 3 dies.

Now the last Guardian – Zita. Zita has the antidote around her neck. He has to sacrifice her to claim it and while he cries and refuses, Zita begs him to kill her and even guides his knife to do it because Leo is waaaaay more important than her.

Leo returns to his body and is cured of the poison. Ima congratulates Leo for passing the test (hah, I think Riario passed it). And Riario promises Leo if they don’t get the Leafy book he will kill Leo.

Enough of this shit – to Naples! And Alfonzo flogs Lorenzo while asking lots of questions about his wife, Hippolyta, who was once with Lorenzo in the past. Alfonzo is the jealous sort, in part because Hippolyta seems very much still interested in Lorenzo, especially since she came running to Lorenzo’s side to help him after little more than a scribbled note (not Alfonzo’s words – his comes with a side order of misogyny, of course). Alfonzo also tries to drive home the difference between Naples – all martial strength and titles vs Florentine wit and art and money.

He’s thrown back into his cell and Piero and another prisoner try to tell Lorenzo about the game he’s going to have to play for Ferrante’s amusement. He doesn’t listen to them – he’s hallucinating his dead brother (hey if you’re going to bring an actor back for Leo’s visions you might as well get your money’s worth out of him)! Because that’s a much better source of advice. Hippolyta also makes her way down to the dungeons because Alfonzo clearly isn’t enraged enough. Apparently this game involves you being tied to a horse by a noose around your neck, the horse is made to run and you have a bow and 1 arrow with which to kill the horse and save yourself.

Ferrante needs a hobby. Of course, Hippolyta points out that Ferrante gives you a bow and arrow and stands there so you could just kill the king. Because Alfonzo would be a much better king to negotiate with? She thinks she will then become queen and can remove Alfonzo (uh… why? Alfonzo is the heir, he’s also closely related to the Spanish monarchy).

Lorenzo goes on to really worry Piero by speaking to his hallucination of Guiliano; but his vision wants to teach him how to shoot a bow, so it’s a useful hallucination! To be a really good shot, Lorenzo needs to focus on hate and rage – don’t question, the hallucination says so! Lorenzo’s rambling and ranting doesn’t encourage Piero at all.

Time for the actual horse-archery-hanging game. And the first prisoner (red shirt) does try to shoot Ferrante and misses. Honestly this seems like a very bad idea, he can’t have been the first one. Anyway, Lorenzo pleads that Piero be spared the test and Ferrante agrees – so long as Lorenzo passes. Oh and Lorenzo’s super-hate target? Guiliano because he had an easier life than Lorenzo and then dying on him. He fires the bow and kills the horse, passing the test.

Finally, Lucrezia and Quon Shu are heading to Constantinople and Quon Shu actually speaks for the first time! She’s all worried because after so long being apart from her dad all he could talk about were his plots. She wonders if he’s any better than the Imposter Pope – Quon Shu starts to reassure her then collapses, apparently poisoned. And Al Rahim appears – actually real, not hallucination it seems and it was he who drugged Quon Shu (he’s not dead). He invokes Leonardo’s name to get her to speak to him and not stab him. He tells her he provided special woo-woo advice to Leo and now he’s going to be her magical guide too! What fun!

And it’s her turn to have visions. Oh come on, was the script written while all the writers were on the good drugs? This time it’s the ghost of Lucrezia’s dead sister. She throws out some random crypticness (all deaths have to happen it seems – those that have and those that will. Well that’s useful). Was there a reason for this scene?

Having revived Quon Shu (that’ll teach you, presuming to talk and act like a real character). And Al Rahim talks cryptic bullshit I’m not even going to write down. The minute someone says “when you must know, you will know” it’s time to hit them with something heavy and, frankly, my vague-cryptic-bullshit tolerance has been waaay expended on this episode.

So Leo has sex with Ima (who didn’t predict that?) Can we actually have a female character on this show who isn’t inevitably headed towards sexy times? Could Ima not have been a strong guide/leader/person without nakedness and humping? Clarice, Vanessa, Ima, Lucrezia (ye gods Lucrezia), Zita, Yana if a woman appears for more than 2 episodes she will have sex (or be raped in Yana’s case). Yes there’s Hippolyta, but her entire character revolves around how she wants to/used to be with Lorenzo and now Alfonzo (who she’s with now) is jealous. Also there’s decent odds she and Lorenzo are going to hit the sack before the season is finished.

Also, Ima having sex with Leo when he’s all woozy and drugged is hellaciously dubious consent.

And, yes, I am bringing up the whole Gratuitous thing again – because the whole idea that to get into the Vault of Heaven, Leo has to marry and have sex is exactly that.

So what about the Incans so far? Woo-woo and sacrifice. With the only person who seems to be humanised is the one who has, of course, learned western language. The first time we saw Leo recognise civilisation but that seems to have fallen away now – now we have woo-woo and sacrifice. Which seems to be Al Rahim’s goal as well.

Quon Shu doesn’t have woo-woo yet, just service. He’s just… there and serving Lucrezia. For Reasons. And Zita? Yeah… fiercely loyal to Riario for those same Reasons, and is now apparently credited him with releasing her from slavery… though he still follows him around and serves because, as she pointed out, she doesn’t actually have any real choice in the matter. So how is that different? Remember the choices: 1) stay in Italy, a foreign land where she’s likely to be killed, re-enslaved or just die. 2) Be given to the evil sadist pope. 3) Continue following Riario. YAY FREEDOM! Which then leads to her actually sacrificing herself for Riario and Leo. Seriously? On a scale of “fuck all” to “even less than fuck all”, exactly how much does Zita owe these two?

Is there anyone on this show who ISN’T going to hallucinate? This is getting rather ridiculous now. How much of this episode was wasted on people seeing things – not only seeing things but those things doing very little. Lorenzo getting archery lessons. Leo wandering in dreamland which revealed absolutely nothing. Lucrezia’s little sister dropped in for random cryptic bullshit.

Was there a need for filler?! How much of this whole episode was deliberately vague, cryptic nonsense? Rambling and hallucination and dream visions none of which actually achieved, revealed or advanced anything – just vague cryptic bullshit over obtuse, vague cryptic bullshit.