The fantastical world that David S. Goyer created for Maestro Leonardo da Vinici is alive and well in Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 Episode 1.
When this show premiered last year, complaints ranged from history being re-written... to too much mystical mumbo jumbo... to da Vinci likes girls now, what's up with that?
Well, Goyer never intended this to be a history lesson, nor his hero that old da Vinci with a scraggly beard.
Goyer's da Vinci is Indiana Jones, mashed up with Sherlock and Batman. This is fiction, pure escapism, loosely framed by important historical events. If last season was 80% history and 20% fiction, Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 flips that around on its head. I'm ready to embrace the fantasy.
Since Da Vinci's Demons Emmy Award-winning opening titles featured moments from last season, they obviously needed to be revamped. The credit sequence's uniqueness and style remain intact, though. The only difference is it now includes images from this current run of episodes.
Bear McCreary's theme (which is a palindrome that works both forwards and backward, yes I tested it) transports us back to the world of Da Vinci's Demons. I'm such a nerd for these details, they can sometimes make or break a show for me. In this case, the show's opening never fails to excite me.
By picking up with Leonardo and Riario held captive in South America discussing "the end," we understand the storytelling will be much more non-linear than last year. I'm fine with that, so long as things don't get too confusing to follow. That can happen with this approach but I have faith in Goyer and his writing team.
In the first few moments, we witness a bloody human sacrifice and are left with the impression that our heroes are next in line. In my latest review for Vikings Season 2 Episode 4, I touched on the fact that the History channel has to abide by strict television standards.
Though violent, you get the sense that Vikings would be a more adult show if it aired on a premium cable channel. I'm thrilled this is not something we need to worry about with Starz, best known for the blood, sex and violent spectacle that was Spartacus.
We quickly jump back six months to the final moments of Da Vinci's Demons Season 1. I get the impression that, much like Vikings, these first few episodes will be dedicated to tying up loose ends from last season.
The door explodes and as Count Riario and his cronies march in, Leonardo and Lorenzo de Medici escape through a manhole into the sewers. This was the one section of the episode that felt a bit too long for me, the chase through the sewers. That said, it does give us our first taste of "Da Vinci Vision," a storytelling device I look forward to each episode. Tell me this isn't your favorite thing as well.
Leonardo manages to swipe a gun from the baddies and leads them to an archway. He shoots, there's a rockslide and Riario has been sealed off on the other side. The "Da Vinci Vision" here was nothing as elaborate or artistic as what we've come to expect.
However, later in the episode, the anatomy vision is way cooler. It's a definite highlight for me, so I'm going to stop complaining now.
Zoroaster and Nico make their way to the ship that's supposed to whisk them away to South America, while Clarice de Medici flees the angry mobs with her girls and Dragonettti. It appears Clarice will be much more front and center this time around and that makes me happy because Lara Pulver is sensational.
I instantly noticed the green screen work and digital sets have improved by leaps and bounds. There's a bigger budget this season and it shows.
Eventually, Leonardo drags a weak and dying Lorenzo to Andrea Verrocchio's studio. Andrea reluctantly agrees to help Leo with this crazy idea of a blood transfusion.
All those nights dissecting corpses Andrea, they're about to pay off.da Vinci
They use a sheep's intestine as a makeshift tube. Leo cuts into his own arm and they raise him up on a platform so the blood can flow more freely. Did anyone else wonder if their blood types were compatible? Okay, sorry, suspension of disbelief, no worries.
Leonardo and Lorenzo are now literally blood brothers. It seems Leo will be more of a brother figure to Lorenzo this season, a good thing too since he lost Giuliano. I'm going to miss 'ol Giuliano, who managed to impregnate Vanessa. It's news of this heir that gives Lorenzo the will to go on.
During the transfusion, Leo begins to hallucinate. Last year it was opium, this year it's a near death experience. He wakes in an Inca temple with Lucrezia Donati. She talks of his death, saying "this is how it happens." I'm not sure what to make of the man in the bull's head mask yet, it's probably too early to venture a guess anyway.
Despite Leo's protests, Andrea stops the transfusion. Was there any doubt both patient's would survive?
Riario brings us up to speed on the Book of Leaves, the two keys, the vault of Heaven etc. and buys off the captain of the same ship Zo & Nico are on. He takes the map, astrolabe and other goodies but the keys remain with da Vinci. It will be interesting to watch Leonardo and Riario work together at some point. They will be forced to, in order to survive as is apparent in the opening sequence.
Lucrezia and Zoroaster are of no further use, so Riario makes them walk the plank. He mentions sparing Amelia to Lucrezia, but who is Amelia?
Pope Sixtus IV visits his imprisoned brother, the real Pope and Lucrezia's dad, who points him toward King Ferrante of Naples. The Pope will join forces with Ferrante in order to get rid of the Medici family once and for all.
Al-Rahim (the Turk) appears to da Vinci one last time, or so we're told by the man with the bull head mask. The Turk warns Leo that thanks to him the Book of Leaves will be lost, or worse, found by their enemies.
Al-Rahim: You have failed us da Vinci. You are not the one we hoped.
Leonardo: I couldn't abandon Lorenzo.
Al-Rahim: So you abandon your destiny?
Once all the loose ends are neatly tied up in Florence, da Vinci will embark on his quest for the Book of Leaves. I'm excited for the characters to leave Italy and venture into South America and beyond.
To those fixated on the blurred lines between fact and fiction, I say, relax and enjoy the ride. Let yourself be swept away into the fantastical world David S. Goyer has created and I guarantee you will enjoy the show.
I hope to see you right back here next week to talk about Episode 2. In the meantime, if you want to check out the premiere again or ever miss an episode, Watch Da Vinci's Demons online right here at TV Fanatic.
Do you think da Vinci will finally board that ship to South America next week?