Review By Joe Thompson
With the second season closer, “The Sins of Daedalus,” Da Vinci’s Demons cements its placement in the “whackadoo” category of television. Most of the series’ tricks are in full effect: Leo’s ability to solve nearly every problem with twiddle of his fingers and cheesy animations, unbelievable coincidences, and the angering employment of a deux ex machina trope to name a few. But “The Sins of Daedalus” also drops such a mother lode of plot development that viewers just have to “strap themselves in and feel the G’s,” to quote Max Power.
With his maestro dead and shop burning, Leo goes on the offensive after Carlo Medici, who was revealed last week as a traitor and an “Enemy of Man” on the hunt for that damn Book of Leaves. So why was Carlo working so hard to squirm his way into the Medici good graces and Clarice’s bed while Leo was romping around in the jungle? Well, it looks like he’s also been working hard to jack up the Medici finances as well. What a bastard.
Anyway, the injured Leo takes off after Carlo only to be knocked off his horse in the dark woods. But before he can die up pops Al-Rahim out of nowhere to not only mend Leo back to health, but drop some info bombs on him like where Leo’s mom really hid the Book of Leaves, cause the code in the talking golden head was really a code within a code. Really. So, now Leo must head to Constantinople (not Istanbul), because why not? Only, he can’t get there that easily cause the port in Otranto is closed since the Ottoman Empire really wants to attack it. More on this in a bit.
Meanwhile, Nico, who’s now all of a sudden Niccolo Machiavelli (?!?), tries to convince Vanessa to leave her son with Clarice, but she’s all like “You must be cray!” Nico forges a letter of consent, completely out of his character, that somehow ends up working in their favor when Clarice pulls a dine and dash, bolting from Florence and leaving the new Medici heir holding the bag with a huge debt attached.
All this time Riario’s all chained up and getting the whole Clockwork Orange treatment from the “Enemies of Man” leader, pouring really salty water into his eyes. Seems Riario is being recruited for the cult, which is a bit of a letdown for me. Riario became interesting again when he somehow wanted to atone for his sins, which is something I would’ve loved to have seen rather than just tossing him on the pile of new antagonists. Still, maybe he has his own plans, so there’s hope.
Anyway, after Leo runs around Otranto stabbing dudes, he winds up with the fake Pope, Alfonso, and Lorenzo (reunited and it feels so good!). They need his magic animations and twiddly fingers to get them out of this new Ottoman jam, especially since their ships have them all blocked in and the city on lockdown. The Sultan sends an emissary to discuss possible surrender terms who turns out to be…Lucrezia! (Reunited and it…you get the picture.)
Basically, the Sultan’s terms are such that these men will not accept, making war imminent, but before that, Lucrezia let’s off some truth bombs. She just outs Fake Pope in front of everybody, sending him scurrying back to the Vatican and landing herself in prison. I’ve always wondered why she just didn’t tell anyone who would listen that her dad’s the real Pope and locked in a tower. Seemed to work decently here and she even had corroboration from Leo.
Lucrezia and Leo get a brief romantic interlude, just after he stops Lorenzo from choking her to death. Somehow Lorenzo really thought she was in love with him even after all her lying was revealed? What a sap! Anyway, there’s bigger problems, but Leo goes into animation mode and devises a plan to trap the ships in a bottleneck similar to a certain Battle of Blackwater some TV addicts might know. There’s somehow plenty of time to position cannons loaded with specially made artillery before dawn, but just as the cannons are about to fire Piero spots his baby momma on the Ottoman ship.
Whew! I’m tired just writing all that. Well, another season is gone with the Book of Leaves still out of reach. It’s turning into a MacGuffin that might never be caught, especially after that whole South America trip that went basically nowhere. That wouldn’t be an issue if the whole show hadn’t made the search so freaking important. If it weren’t for this quest, would there be anything else worth tuning in for?
My main problem with Da Vinci’s Demons as the series has progressed is one of tone. There’s such an air of seriousness about every episode that contrasts the craziness of the plot. Without any moments of some comic relief or awareness, everything just comes off a bit pretentious. I really don’t think that’s the intent of the creative team, but when you get the quick, out of the ordinary joke with Alfonso, at sword point, goading his messenger for information, it holds a spotlight to what the show is missing. It’s taking itself too seriously for its own good. I mean, this is the same show that had Leonardo Da Vinci come face to face with Dracula! If they’re going to go full speed ahead with the bonkers soap opera plots, at least inject everything with a bit of wit.
My second issue with this show is its characters. Obviously, Leo is going to be the biggest character since his name is in the title, but everyone else feels woefully underdeveloped. Leo’s a super genius with an intellect that solves literally anything so it’s too hard to connect with him. But there’s no other character here that’s as interesting. I’d love to see Leo’s faults played up more to a point where they create real obstacles that he can’t quickly fix. Da Vinci’s Demons is returning for a third season next year, so let’s wait and see what the show has in store for us.