Leo and Zoroaster are heading back to Florence and Zoroastr is duly bitter about Leo’s inattention, paranoia and ingratitude.
They arrive in the city and to Leo’s ruined workshop with Zoroaster trying to make Leo come away and see sense.
Zoroaster goes to the palace to be reluctantly greeted by Dragonetti to go see Vanessa – who is still neck deep in politics and trying to get the Council of Florence to follow her (in this case, the councillors are outraged that Clarice, murdered in Rome, hasn’t been repatriated for burial, while Vanessa wants the pope to hold his little Crusade Pageant because it’s going to bring in lot of cash). She makes a skilful argument for profiting from Rome without joining them – Zoroaster and Nico are duly impressed by Vanessa’s awesome control over the council.
He tells them that Leo is rather changed and much darker and more scarred than the Leo they last knew.
Nah, he was always smoking opium and seeing things, not much has changed. Which means when his mother arrives to tell him she was all wrong and how she too now is against the Sons of Mithras as well as warning him that Lucrezia is in danger she could easily be a hallucination. The possible hallucination also warns him about the super dangerous Leafy Book – and asks him to wield it. He refuses, thinking it could all be a trick/hallucination/mind control
Leo gets back to geniusing while Zoroaster and Nico try to talk to him. They throw water on him after he sets himself on fire as part of his experimentation. He barely even greets poor Nico – who is outraged that Leo would work for Sixtus. He comes to his senses long enough to greet Nico before telling him to leave because it’s so terribad dangerous.
Riario and Laura travel to Florence on the first stop of their Crusade pageant and it’s apparent they put a lot of hope on Florence joining them and getting the Crusade started. They’re greeted by Vanessa who Laura quickly focuses on - showing her the skulls of the beheaded at Otranto (I assume representatives since I doubt they were able to relcaim them). It helps that Laura also hates Sixtus – the also believe Lorenzo died in the siege.
Riario tries to convince Nico.
He then goes to find Leo who continues to be fraught – Riario offers him vengeance against the Labyrinth (I have no idea whose side he is on any more) and a big bag of gold to fund his weapon development. He also wants Leo to try and convince Florence to join the crusade with a big shiny demonstration of power.
Nico tells Zoroaster of Florence’s money woes and his plan to tax illegal activities or, otherwise they may have to join the crusade. Zoroaster agrees to help – and, with the additional threat of the guards (real power), they make a “proposition”. The brothel is taxed and they get a slice of that “real power” – a seat on the Council.
Leo again ropes Zoroaster in to be his lackey – but this time Zoroaster requires paying. There’s a lot of tension between them.
Leo makes a terrifyingly devastating weapon – but it’s far far far too unstable to be practically used on the battlefield – and even if cannot dent the armour of the Ottoman tanks. Leo can’t understand it until Zoroaster sees the makers mark – it’s Vlad the Impaler’s mark
Of course this calls for a road trip. And of course Zoroaster is coming.
Vanessa refuses the plea to Crusade –not wanting to swap one invader for another – even as Laura and Riario predict a gloomy future for Florence if they don’t acquiesce. Vanessa refuses while Riario tries to mock Nico for not convincing Vanessa.
Vanessa goes to Leo to try and talk sense into him – and how working for Rome means they may stop the Turks, but after the Ottoman invasion is over Rome will turn those same weapons against Florence. She tells him he has to stop pushing them all away. Leo breaks at the idea of losing more people
She the finds Dragonetti’s brutally murdered and crucified body. Yes the Rome-murderer is in Florence. Leo gives chase and the show creators try to convince us that “knowing the city” counts as genius vision.
The killer is… Riario.
Over to the Ottomans, Bayezid, Gedik and the other Ottomans continue to plot their invasion of all Italy including Rome – and count on the city sates being too busy with infighting to oppose them. Though Bayezid is annoyed that Al Rahim said Leo would join them – which he clearly hasn’t. Al Rahim still think Leo will.
Katerina the Sooth Sayer, Leo’s mother, is apparently still alive and spouting visions. Or having a seizure. It seems Lucrezia will find the page from the book of Leaves.
Lorenzo isn’t dead – but he is forced to work in brutal conditions among many dead among the Ottomans. Al Rahim and the Real!Sixtus turn up to tell him that Cosimo wanted the whole brutal war. They want Lorenzo to join them and he refuses both to be part of such vile brutality and to support the “heathens.” Real!Sixtus and Al Rahim both try to convince them that it’s temporary and even worse things are coming. Lorenzo says no, unsurprisingly.
Real!Sixtus talks to Gedik about the war and Gedik points out, appropriately, that while the Turks kill those who won’t convert, the Christians do much the same with their own crusades. He tells them that his men are educated people – and they’re attacking in response to the Pope’s ridiculous insult of Bayezid.
And on to Lucrezia. She is being all angsty and regretful of her past and her dead sister. She goes to a simple house owned by Lupo Mercury – the old archivist and servant of the pope who ran while he still could. Together they lament how the people they followed were just so terribad awful. She wants the former Archivist to tell her where the missing Page is since she feels responsible for the Ottoman invasion since her dad’s machinations (which she was part of) brought it about. He does his best to avoid the question.
In the night she hears young women screaming and finds Lupo has imprisoned two women beneath his barn – she promptly gets captured as well. Lupo has lured girls to him using his Cardinal’s rank to kidnap them and trying to force them to read the Book of Leaves. He’s convinced one of the girls has the power to read the book of leaves – because the book told him. Which is probably not a great sign when inanimate objects tell them things.
He also drops one of the girl’s bodies back in.
The tension between Zoroaster and Leo needs to develop – Zoroaster has been a servant to Leo, used and discarded and disrespected for far too long – we need more push back of that
Must we revisit the Dracula episodes? Really?
I quite liked Gedik’s speech. Obviously with most of the cast being who they are and the largely historically accurate (minus the tanks) massacre of Otranto, many people are going to be talking about “heathen savages” and talking about the brutality that has come with the Ottoman invasion. I am glad the show hasn’t detracted from that or down played the horror of the slaughter – but through Leo’s visions of the Labyrinth and Gedik’s pointed calling out of real!Sixtus’s condemnation as well as 2 seasons of papal evil the show has also make a point that neither side is particularly happy, shiny nice people here.
The menfolk couldn’t get through to Leo, even his closest friend – but of course a gentle sweet woman can! Out paranoia, you are banished by the power of iron-clad gender roles!