Monday, December 28, 2015

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 3, Episode 10: Ira Deorum

After a brief interlude with Rahim and Leo, the new battle is on. Leo, Laura, Nico and Dracula intend to lead their teeny tiny forces against the Turks (who lost all their tanks episode) and rely on the Book of Leaves-inspired lightening device to fry all the Turks who are conveniently wearing lightening attracting armour.

Of course all this may fall apart because Zoroaster and Sophia were captured last episode. Thankfully Lucrezia has also being captured. Lucrezia doesn’t stay captive for long – and when Bayezid goes to question her he finds that chaining her up only gives her new weapons to throttle him with. He’s duly strangled to death before Lucrezia happily goes on a little rampage (finding a convenient crossbow from somewhere) to free Sophia and Zoroaster.

They then head to set up the machine – with Zoroaster failing and badly injuring himself (and seeming to be dead – this episode does a series of “zomg this character is dead!” moment most of which don’t come to pass. I actually think it would have been much more dramatic, especially as it’s the last season, if a huge number of the cast were duly slaughtered. This probably says how little I’m actually invested in these people).

While the battle begins (Laura is kind of awesome) and we have several near-death moments (including Vlad being stabbed by his brother Gedik – who is probably Radu – who is not all that happy that Bayezid is dead) Leo finally declares surrender and orders his men to take off their (highly conductive) armour

Just in time for Lucrezia to finish putting together the lightening machine (albeit taking an arrow in the process) and then we have lots of zappy zappy zappy – the entire Ottoman army is slaughtered. The remains surrender and the city is free.

Except for Lucrezia who, of course, dies in the name of Maximum Manpain for Leo. We always knew that she was heading for the nearest walk-in fridge and she’s finally settled herself in among the ice trays.

That’s a very quick summation but there weren’t a whole lot of twists there – and we kind of expected everything to go the way it did. It’s not a bad ending, it’s a quite satisfactory conclusion to the whole Ottoman storyline, but it’s a bit… predictable? Safe? Lacking in twists or intrigue or interests? Leo geniused the enemy and everyone is now dead?

It also didn’t really touch on so much that has been brewing these last few seasons – exactly what is the book of leaves? What did the Sons of Mithras actually want to achieve? Where did all this woo-woo come from? And what about Leo’s conflicts? He spends several episodes moping around because his genius is being used to kill people (because he keeps designing weapons… funny how that works) and then in the last episode quite literally develops a weapon a mass destruction and slaughters and army and doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about it? In between his hallucinations his actual moral quandary was one of the few elements of Leo that actually had a chance of being interesting.

We also have the rather orphaned side plot – with Vanessa awesomely and excellently managing Lorenzo’s eternal Manpain. They also establish a nicely genuine and meaningful connection that could probably grow into something interesting and pointful if it had a lot more time. I like her a lot

Sadly we don’t get to focus on her because it’s Riario’s hanging day after him confessing to be a serial killer. He is led out, utterly loathed by the crowd who really want him dead, but then the Architect turns up and yells about how he’s the Holy Serial Killer and Lorenzo is totally naughty!bad!wrong!. Lorenzo and Vanessa flee to the palace while Riario is freed by the crowd who, in such a turnaround that they’ve probably all got whiplash, really love their holy serial killer now.

He then toddles off to Rome and murders the pope, as you do. At least we can agree with this murder.

While Lorenzo decides that the baby is his son and he’s going to rule Florence and be the Pope

I think it’s fairly clear that the writers expected a fourth season because there are a lot of threads left unfinished that would lead to next seasons story: especially Riario and Lorenzo. Riario is now god’s serial killer and happily killing the pope and being manipulated by the Architect. And Lorenzo is now in control of Florence and being so very ambitious. These are next season’s storylines – and they always have been – which means they’ve been kind of out of place all season. Lorenzo, Vanessa and Nico, the whole serial killer storyline – they’re not inherently bad storylines but they’re taped on the back of the show with little real relevance to anything else. I’ve loved Vanessa’s cunning, her brains, her development and her rise – as one of the few female characters in this show who have actually managed to forge themselves a powerful future – but it seems so outside the actual main storyline of the series

This whole season has felt distracted and kind of lost. We have a pretty linear Ottomans vs Leo storyline with odd occasional diversions from the Sons of Mithras and the Labyrinth but what does it actually amount to beyond a whole new set of hallucinations every week? You could actually remove these elements entirely and not change the actual storyline in any meaningful way. But if you don’t have all these many many many pointless hallucinations then this season would be incredibly short. Which leaves me concluding that there was very little of actual meaning in the season. Once you parse away the hallucinations and the foreshadowing for a new season that probably won’t happen what do you actually have?

On top of that, the show continues to have a terrible habit when it comes to minorities. With no disabled, with POC largely being confined to the Turks (who are, of course, naughty bad evil. Now, equally, the Christians have also largely being terribad things –but the Turks have been relatively characterless ominous threats while even the Christian villains like Sixtus have been actual characters). We have Madame Singh but she’s a pretty minor character to say the least – she has potential but she never really has the chance to realise that. Which is a pattern with the women on this show

With regards to women we have a series of interesting characters who have their potential well and truly wasted. Sophia – excellent character, would love to see more of her, but she’s only pulled in at the very end of the season with zero chance of development. Or Clarice, excellent potential character looking to avenge her city and protect it – and then she’s dead. And this episode we have Lucrezia also being rammed into said fridge – it better be a walk in because we’re ramming those interesting female characters in there.

Which leaves us with Vanessa, clinging on to life still and managing to forge an interesting and skilled storyline… but again, no real time to develop it, no attention to develop it. The same with Laura – we have several women who manage moments of awesomeness in small doses – but only small doses because they’re not often allowed centre stage