Da Vinci’s Demons moves its characters around in this week’s “The Ends of the Earth.”
Both Da Vinci and Riario are on the trail of the Book of Leaves, with Riario still in the lead. He spends more time trying to influence Nico to turn on Leonardo, but I’m not sure offering orange slices is an effective form of torture. Still, we get more insight into the legend/lore surrounding the book: was it written by angels? Citizens of Atlantis? No one knows for sure, but the show is trying hard to deepen the mystical side of things. I can’t say its paying off though.
Da Vinci is mired in navigational troubles and in danger of losing his newly freed crew. His noctural activities of mapping the statrs is beginning to spook the crew and starting rumors that he’s a vampire. The further at sea they go, the more convinced the crew is that the boat will sail off teh edge of the Earth since the planet is flat and all. Da Vinci works hard to convince them that, not only is the Earth round, but he has a breakthrough regarding teh geocentric model of the universe. It’s all told with the typical flare and bombast we’ve come to expect from Da Vinci’s Demons, but the bloody conclusion adds a bit a gravity to the situation.
Lorenzo is en route to Naples allows his some time to discuss Leonardo with Piero. While we’re still no closer to solvng the mystery of Leo’s mother, we do get a better idea of why Piero is such a dick to his inspired offspring. The road to Naples is also fraught with crooked evangelists and and violence, but they’re no match for Lorenzo and Piero, leaving hopes for a spinoff with these two touring the roads and righting wrongs.
The best pieces of this second season are set in Rome as Lucrezia’s revelation surrounding the true identity of her imprisoned father to Lupo finally provokes action on his part. There’s a bit of heavy soapiness to the idea of the Pope having a ruthless twin brother that steals the papalcy from the good twin, but it makes for the most intriguing plotline simply because it’s the most grounded and has the most momentum.
Da Vinci’s Demons is still the silliest cable historical action drama onscreen right now. Most frustrating is the show’s desire to have a larger season arc and mythology, but place so many obstacles in the way, that nothing ever feels like it’s progressing. With the amount of trouble Leo and his gang has faced up to now, it feels as if they should be close at hand to the Book of Leaves, but I don’t think they could be farhter away.
They’re definitely committed to those animations that accompany Leo’s fits of invention, although the depictions of the solar system this week are cool. Da Vinic’s Demons still insists on trying to devote its storytelling machinations to both mysticism and more grounded dramatic affairs, much like another popular show on another prime time cable network (cough Game of Thrones cough). But where that show flounts the weaknesses of its characters in the face of a brutal form of survivalism, Da Vinci’s Demons leans hard on the abilities of its titular character.
Too often, Da Vinci’s Demons has avoided real stakes by allowing its main protagonist to flaunt almost godlike abilities to fathom solutions to unsolvable problems out of his dazzling intellect and artistic prowess. In “The End of the World,” there’s finally a crack in Leo’s armor. All his careful charting of the night skies is unable to quell the potential uprising and reveals that even the mighty Leonardo Da VInci is capabale of mistakes. Not only does he not realize the planets orbit the sun until it’s nearly too late, but Leo faces a humanitarian crisis as well. He orders the slaves back into the ir chains as a means of protection and maritime safety, only to come face to face withteh implications of such a decision. We’ve watched Leo treat those around him, even those closest to him, as afterthoughts and instruments. Now, Leo all but condones restricting freedoms and when he finally realizes his mistakes, it’s far too late to avoid the loss of life. Will this humanitze Leo, allowing the audience a stronger connection? Let’s hope so. Da Vinci’s Demons is in desperate need of that grounding.
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