‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ Review: “The Tower”
Starz’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons‘ has delivered the action and sex we’d expect from this sort of cable show, but as we move into the back half of the first season, we’re hoping tonight’s episode “The Tower” starts to put the pieces in place for the finale. Will Leonard Da Vinci go to the new world? Will Lucrezia get caught as the spy? We shall see.
In the last episode, Da Vinci was arrested for sodomy, so here he dreams of his childhood while in jail, while Lorenzo Medici shows off his bank to an Spanish man working for his queen. Clarice shows off her castle to the Queen Isabella, and both she and her husband have to deflect questions about Da Vinci. Leonardo gets in a fight, which puts him in solitary, where he wanted to go. There he meets with his lawyer/father, and Leonardo thinks the charges will disappear.
Clarice and Lorenzo commiserate over the visiting royalty, and plan a theatrical spectacle headed up by Giulino. Leonardo waits for his trial when Francesco Pazzi shows up as the prosecutor. Da Vinci pleads innocent, and gives an opening statement. The first witness is a priest who says that all sodomites burn in hell, and attacks Florence for its sinful ways. Leonardo gives a cypher to his father, and suggests Guilino do the Decameron, which Guilino agrees to.
Back in court, the witness is questioned, and says Leonardo paid him four gold coins after sodomizing him. The defense asks questions, but is told by the judge that the trial is a farce, and that Leonardo is doomed. This angers Leonardo’s father, who goes off on the witness. This leads to a recess, and the judge asks for more money. It looks like the trial will run longer than expected. Leonardo’s men shop for him while Captain Dragonetti tears apart Leonardo’s workshop looking for evidence against him. They find drawings of naked men, and then find drawings of pagan gods, and accuse Leonardo of being a sorcerer. Lucrezia tells Francesco Pazzi to back off Leonardo, but Francesco won’t back down.
Lorenzo is pissed that they’re going to do The Decameron, and it leads to a fight between the brothers. The judge says Da Vinci will be burned at the stake if found guilty. In jail, Da Vinci talks to his father, and it’s revealed that his mother is possibly dead. Lorenzo meets with Lucrezia, and she tries to get him to protect Leonardo, but Lorenzo says Da Vinci’s on his own. Back in Leonardo’s workshop, his friends assemble something for Da Vinci, while in prison Leonardo is taunted by guards. Leonardo sends bats out with bombs and has Zoroaster pretend to be him while he escapes. Leonardo goes to workshop and plots his revenge. Lorenzo shows off his bench the Queen and her people, and talks about how Florence is successful because he respects money. It’s his final pitch to them.
Giulino tells the actors that they will not censor the play, which features a priest trying to seduce a young girl, which — surprise — actually plays to the queen and her people. Da Vinci drugs the judge and then has him tied up with a pig and uses a camera obscura to show the city his bestiality. He doesn’t show his face, and Leonardo asks him to sign four pieces that will free him from jail, and protect him in the future. Da Vinci has also taken a crude picture of the event to guarantee his safety.
The Decameron goes over well, while the case against Da Vinci is dismissed. Da Vinci’s father warns him that he’s in Rome’s sights so he should stay out of trouble. The Spanish royalty agree to the Medici’s terms, while Da Vinci celebrates his freedom. Da Vinci is called away is called away by the model who testified against him, and it’s revealed that Da Vinci did sleep with him, and that the model has feelings for Leonardo. The two kiss, but Leonardo says it’s a goodbye one. Lucrezia shaves Da Vinci in the bath (they had to get some nudity in the episode), and Leonardo tells her about his desire to confront his accuser. She then gives him her ring, though she suggests neither can have love in their lives. Da Vinci goes to his workshop and finds Al-Rahim waiting for him. Al-Rahim brings up his dream from prison, and suggests it’s a key. In the dream it was Da Vinci who saw himself hanging upside down.
Tonight’s episode of ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ had the feel of a bottle episode. Sure, it showed Leonardo getting out of a pretty wicked court case, but if you trimmed his arrest from the last episode, and then skipped this episode entirely, you wouldn’t miss anything. There are some plot points, like Florence’s involvement with Spain, that could pay off later, but this felt a little like plate spinning.
That said, it was a thoroughly entertaining episode with nice stakes, though an obvious conclusion (they weren’t going to burn Leo at the stake, that’s for sure). All in all, it was a good episode for pageantry, but not a lot happened.