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‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ Season Finale Review: “The Sins of Daedalus”

Da Vinci's Demons The Sins of Daedalus
Starz

Well, Leonardo Da Vinci may have gone to America and back, but Florence is still in trouble with the church, and Lucrezia is currently stuck in Constantinople, so there’s a lot of ground to cover in tonight’s season finale of ‘Da Vinci’s Demons.‘ Hopefully it sets up a great third year.

With Verrocchio’s shop on fire and Verrocchio dead, Dragonetti is able to pull out Leonardo just in time. He’s attended to by his friends and outs Carlo as the man who did it. Da Vinci then mounts a horse in pursuit, but is knocked off the horse by a branch and begins to remember first meeting Andrea Verrocchio, who took him in when he was a nobody.

When Clarice comes to see the wreckage, Vanessa confronts her about her evil lover, and refuses to return to the castle. Clarice wants Dragonetti to take Vanessa back against her will, but Nico stands up for her. There it’s revealed (wait for it) that Nico is actually Niccolò Machiavelli. Yep, that Machiavelli, and just then Vanessa’s water breaks. The baby is delivered and it’s a boy! Heir received!

Leonardo is tended to by Al-Rahim, who is working on healing him, and Al-Rahim tells him that his mother betrayed the cause, while Da Vinci conveys who betrayed them. It seems that Leonardo wants revenge, and wants it bad. Al-Rahim helps Leo to understand the book is likely in Constantinople, while he also points him to a fourth Italian city called Otranto where the Enemies of Man/Sons of Mythril — but more importantly Carlo — might be. And it’s they who have Riario, who have healed him, only to torture him. Da Vinci is woken by Zoroaster, who says he can’t go along on Leonardo’s mission, but will tag along for some of it to help kill Carlo.

In Naples, the pope wants all of Lorenzo’s gold, but Lorenzo reveals that Florence has been saved, so he plans to leave. Alfonso threatens to kill him, but Lorenzo gets the upper hand — but the Ottoman empire intrudes. This change of situation makes the Pope forgive Florence, and creates some uneasy allies. What have Lucrezia and the pope wrought? It seems the Sultan, his son and his people are on their way And the Sultan’s son is worried about his chances. Da Vinci and Zoroaster arrive in Otranto and promptly get into a swordfight with cloaked men, and the final survivor reveals that Carlo got away. And as Lorenzo and company plot to save Italy, they get a new member to help defend the city: Da Vinci. But it seems Da Vinci doesn’t want to defend Otranto — he wants to mount an offensive.

The Sultan sends an emissary to talk before the battle, and it’s Lucrezia. She offers three conditions: They must cede Otranto, everyone in Italy must convert to Islam, and the pope must kiss the feet of the Sultan. She then reveals that the pope is an impostor and a killer and that her father was the one who put them all in the position. Alfonso — of course — refuses the terms, and so the Ottoman empire will attack in the morning. The pope wants them to give up Otranto, but when Alfonso confronts the pope, Sixtus reminds him that he killed his father to become the leader, so everyone has their secrets.

Back in Florence, Clarice is faced with taking responsibility for the bank missing a lot of money, while Vanessa wants to keep her baby, even though Nico tries to convince her that maybe it’s not a bad thing to be the next in line for the throne. Though Vanessa ties up the paperwork that would give up her baby, Nico forges a copy of Vanessa’s signature. Clarice then leaves the city, which leaves Vanessa in charge of the city.

Leonardo and his dad have a talk, and it seems that his father has softened a little and wants to protect his son. Piero plans to flee the city, and suggests that Leonardo do the same as they notice the people being locked in the city. It’s there he sees how he might be able to stop the attack. The only sea entrance to the city is through rocks, so if they can block the path, the fleet will be crippled. Lorenzo has a talk with Lucrezia, and she reveals she never had any feelings for him, which makes him try to kill her. But Da Vinci stops him and pleads her case. Lorenzo isn’t happy with this, but leaves them alone. Lucrezia reveals she’s done this all for her sister, and so Leonardo sets her free and the two get a chance to kiss. Meanwhile, the torture on Riario begins to work.

Leonardo and Lorenzo talk about America as they wait for the battle to begin, and the city is tense. The cannons are loaded and we then see a montage of all the characters as Carlo and Riario meet, Vanessa is put in charge, Clarice leaves the city, the fake pope finds that his brother has left his cell, and Lucrezia runs away. But the big reveal is that the woman who broke Lucrezia and who is currently standing on the deck of the ship that is about to be destroyed? That’s Da Vinci’s mom.

Well, there’s a level of overkill that can sometimes set in with the season-ending cliffhangers, because you can feel it in the running time that not everything will be sorted out by the time the credits roll, but here that puts season three in a pretty great position. It’s been fascinating watching the show pivot from its earlier “invention of the week” episodes to this season-long arc, which has given the ensemble less to do in some episodes, but it can also make the journey have greater weight… though that isn’t the case here. There have been a lot of entertaining scenes and episodes, but like cliffhangers of old, the year has been about getting you excited for the next big thing. The show works best when it lets its characters have fun, so it’s good there’s been a lot of that. The Book of Leaves is a MacGuffin, and it’s not a particularly interesting one, so what made this episode great is it was about barreling forward, and it worked great on those terms.

This episode set up an interesting idea of having all these groups working together to fight off the Ottoman empire, and it’s a shame that the pope leaves that group before it’s all over. A begrudging team-up to start season three could have been a lot of fun, but there’s definitely going to be some of that as long as Alfonso is around. It’s going to be a long wait until the show picks up again, but this felt like a learning season, like they were scraping against their budget and wanted to see how big and wild they could take it. I get the feeling they learned their lessons, and figured out more of the story they want to tell, but if this sounds negative, it’s probably because I don’t focus as much on the performers, as Tom Riley and company are all quite a lot of fun and keep this exceptionally entertaining. That said, it feels like the show now knows what it wants to be and hopefully that will make season three the best yet.

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