Monday, November 9, 2015

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 3, Episode 3: Modus Operandi

Clarice writes a kind of mutual dislike letter to her husband Lorenzo (it’s kind of “you’re a terrible person, so am I so meh”) in between torturing the man she captures last episode. Clarice has grown some sharp edges. She’s looking for Cosima and is happy to slice and dice to get answers.

Her new hobby is interrupted by someone who kills the owner of the brothel where she’s staying – she sees the man and gasps “you!”

In Naples, Leo and Zoroaster and the other refugees are leaving Otranto. Leo is still sad and blaming himself. Leo wants to go to Rome and work with the Pope to save Italy from the Turks. Zoroaster thinks he’s out of his ever loving mind and that Sixtus is more likely to kill them all than the Ottomans are. Leo rides off and, of course, Zoroaster follows.

In Rome, Riario has managed to convince the cowardly Fake!Pope Sixtus to leave his secure cell because, as Riario puts it, it’s hard to courageously rally troops while cowering in a safe room. Especially since they need to convince the powerful Lady Laura to throw the weight of Venice behind the Crusade. She has her own plans as well – she wants to gather all of the Republics’ forces in Florence, a traditional opponent of Rome. She hopes that the display in Florence will inspire everyone by the display of unity. She wants a full super, duper carnival display for inspiration

The climax of which will be the display of a Turkish prisoner. The prisoner is desperately praying which causes Riario to explain the whole concept of praying to Mecca while Sixtus insists Rome is the only holy city (which is ridiculous – c’mon there have been Nine Crusades by this point to capture the Holy Land – yet Sixtus doesn’t even acknowledge Jerusalem as a Holy City?). More annoying for Sixtus is that the captured “Heathen Cur” doesn’t look like the monster they want to inspire terror – but a normal, terrified man cowering in a cage.

His attempts to terrifying the man just ends up killing him. Laura isn’t impressed. Laura and Sextus don’t get on.

Leo and Zoroaster arrive at the gates of Rome to meet Riario – and Zoroaster is fiercely opposed to working with him. Leo tries to encourage Zoroaster to make peace – he refuses and Leo tells Zoroaster to leave

Leo meets Sixtus (refusing to call him the pope since he knows about the Real!Pope but not that he had escaped). Leo encourages Laura to stay while he appeals to the Pope to let him “bring hell” to the Turks. Sixtus wants to play “I told you so” over Leo working with the Sons of Mithras – and he dismisses Leo’s offer to make engines of destruction for Rome’s armies. Despite Riario’s objection – Sixtus demands Leo prove himself by finding the assassin first – and demands Leo kisses his ring. Which he does.

So, your war machine engineer needs to prove his worth as a detective before you’ll let him build weapons? At this point someone really needs to check if Sixtus is drunk. All the time

Riario has to fill Leo in on the murder he’s investigating – and hgow they’re sure that Real!Pope and the Sons of Mithras. That gains Leo’s interest and goes to look at the crime scene and the body. Leo has his genius sketchy moment and, hilariously, the director has him and Riario both examine his hallucinations. What is Riario even looking at? “oooh a wall!”. Leo decides the way the body was posed was by both a pious man and an artist.

Following those clues, he finds where the killer stuffed, the cardinal’s heart. And finds that the killer put a communion wafer in the dead man’s mouth. All very interesting but not overly helpful.

Leo presents his psychological profile to Sixtus (a religious, guilt-driven killer). Sixtus refuses and again won’t Leo equip his armies until he’s found the killer

No, really, someone breathalyse the pope. He must be drunk. Can Leo whip up a quick breathalyser?

Instead, this Pope (who before this episode was too terrified to leave a cell) goes to his bath – a huge empty room with a ridiculously oversized “bath”. He goes alone. Can we decide whether this pope is paranoid and obsessed and terrified by this killer or not? The bath has blood in it – he screams for his guards and Leo and Riario arrive (he screamed “guards”, does he not have guards within earshot?)

This guy freaking out about blood in his bath is also the guy who is quite willing to murder people in his bath tub in the first season.

Under the water they find the body of a crucified woman – Clarice.

Zoroaster goes to drink his sorrows and be all bitter about how he’d done everything for Leo for no appreciation or gratitude – and now turned away. Despite that he still ends up being brutally beaten in the bar for defending Leo. And he’s found by Lucrezia.

Together, both looking more than a little ragged, indulge in opium. They both angst and grieve and are in a pretty terrible state – both pining for Leo in their own way.

Back to Leo who examines the body of Clarice – and find Clarice was pregnant and by Carlo though Riario warns Leo he may be prejudiced against the man after their interactions in Florence. Especially since Leo tries to fit him into the role of murderer. Leo decides on an autopsy. Clarice gets up and talks to him – I will put this down to his hallucinations and doubts as she accuses him of general awfulness, short sightedness and arrogance as well as a huge amount of death he causes as a warmonger.

While Riario goes to see Carlo and they realise Ducalan (the man Clarice captured) is missing and warns Carlo that Leo is aiming at him. Riario wants to tell the Architect – and when Carlo objects Riario points out it’s all Carlo’s fault for being such a clumsy fool.

The Architect of the Labyrinth finds Riario does some nice explanation – how the Labyrinth is about faith, unlike the corrupt church which is all about power, while the Sons of Mithras are arrogant (a much abused Icarus metaphor is thrown around again) and about progress without faith or limits. Like Riario he was also driven to suicide once – he assures them that Carlo is innocence and Riario must help Leo if he gets too close – help him “become one.”

Leo finds clues which leads him to the closed, blood stained brothel here Clarice was staying and the body of its owner. They also find Ducalan’s murdered body – which Leo instantly recognises as Clarice’s victim and that he was in league with Carlo. Yes, Leo makes some big leaps. And Riario knocks him out and takes him to the Labyrinth for drugged indoctrination.

He’s tied in one of the racks to face Carlo. He makes a recruitment pitch to Leo and administers the drug to his eyes – and he hallucinates Zoroaster saving him – but it’s not true. With Leo how can you even tell drug induced hallucinations from the rest of them?

In Florence Vanessa and Nico are looking through the accounts (Vanessa surprising Nico by how adept she is) and finding a big hole in the accounts.  Nico has an idea and he heads off to an extravagant brothel (can we take a moment to wonder about all these extravagant brothels that seem to have no private rooms and be all big open public displays? Was that a thing? Did no-one go to a brothel and want a little privacy – or at least not to be recognised and have their fetishes displayed for the world?)

He meets the brothel keeper who offers him, well, basically anything much to Nico’s dismissal. He has a proposal, rather than paying 15% of their profits in bribes to the powerful to keep the illegal brothel running, they could be legalised and only pay 5% in taxes. His deal isn’t accepted and he’s kicked out and humiliated.

I’m really going to need this show to explain to me, at some point, why Sixtus is incapable of making a reasonable decision. One of these episodes he’s going to die because he decided to wake up one morning and eat his breakfast table rather than his breakfast, he has reached this level of ludicrousness. I mean, he spend a considerable part of the first season trying to recruit Leo the genius INVENTOR and ENGINEER and now he wants him to play detective? Why would Sixtus expect him to have any skills in this area?

I’m with Zoroaster – time to leave Italy and leave them all to it. I’m also glad he at least briefly vocalised what a terrible friend Leo is to him –how he has basically been Leo’s supporter and defender and often nurse maid for so long for very little in the way of recognition and respect. It would have been nice if this brief recognition weren’t instantly followed by solid reaffirmation of his willingness to remain in that role.

I quite like that Vanessa and Nico are both being awesome running Florence – but do they have no civil servants at all?

I don’t know if Leo is a very brave man to say “of your faith” to the Pope’s face in an era when not being of “your faith” is likely to get you in hot water (possibly literally) or just part of a show that has the Pope refuse to acknowledge the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Clarice – she was just getting good, and she and Vanessa were finally bringing female characters who were active, involved in storylines they are driving themselves and not existing primarily as sex objects (and how sad is it that we get to season 3 before this happens?) and then she gets killed off. Which is a shame in general and because her posthumous call-out of Leo was pretty epic

The Sons of Mithras vs The Labyrinth – we’re getting closer to defining these two – though it ironically amuses me that the Labyrinth accuses the Sons of being arrogant in their actions – yet even The Architect admits their actions are “extreme” to outsiders. I think this is the underlying theme of the episode, perhaps the entire show – the arrogance of those with a cause who think they know better than everyone else for everyone else… and doesn’t Leonardo somewhat embody that?