Turns out there's only one way to get to The Vault of Heaven: Leonardo must die or linger close to death anyway. After all, what would a show called Da Vinci's Demons be without its da Vinci, right?
Ima informs Leo that although his mother went into the vault, she never said she left it.
Count Riario, the yin to Leo's yang, is tasked with saving the Maestro's life on Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 Episode 6.
Zoroaster attempts to choke Riario in his sleep but Zita stops him, explaining that Leonardo and Riario need one another.
Back in Naples, Duke Alfonso enjoys torturing Lorenzo. Are these "Heads of State" sadistic bastards or what? I had a feeling Alfonso would not take his wife coming to Lorenzo's aid lightly. A defiant Lorenzo tells Alfonso the way he won his wife over in their youth was with his tongue. Ballsy of you Lorenzo, but the remark only earns him a few more lashings.
Later, Ippolita rushes to Lorenzo and is horrified seeing him in this condition. Giuliano's ghost makes an appearance advising Lorenzo to inquire about Ferrante's game. Wasn't it just great to see him return to the show, if only in this spectral state?
A noose will be tied around Lorenzo's neck connecting him to a horse inspired to run. He gets a bow and a single arrow to take out the horse. The only man to have beaten this twisted game is Alfonso. That's right, mad King Ferrante subjected his own son to this sick contest.
I was surprised to hear Ippolita mention another option, use the arrow to kill the King. Sure, you'll die unfortunately but I'll become Queen and everything will be right with the world. No thank you lady, what the hell is wrong with these people?
Ima informs Leo they are to be married as part of a ritual that will allow him to enter The Vault of Heaven. Next, one of Leo's friends must be willing to spill blood for him. Ima singles out Riario and with no real other options, he agrees.
Leo is then told he must offer his flesh to the animals that attend their God - yes there's a snake in the statue - I was freaking out. Leo reaches in and he's bit, wonderful. All logic that this show is nothing without its da Vinci just went out the window. Riario must defeat a series of foes and claim the antidote that will save Leonardo's life. This is one hell of a honeymoon so far right?
Meanwhile, Lucrezia is nearing Constantinople and worrying that her father and his twin brother might not be so different after all. Lucrezia's companion Quan suddenly falls to the ground mid-sentence. The Turk appears and tells Lucrezia she must be ready if the Book of Leaves falls into evil hands.
Leonardo's new wife points out that he's dying. Unlike Riario, Leo's part of the test doesn't take place in the land of the living.
Ima: You are dying, Leonardo. Your part of the test, my dreamer, will not take place in this world of the living.
Leonardo: But I'm not dead, am I?
Ima: You will be at sunrise. Your lifeforce is already untethered but that is what makes you able to walk between worlds.
He must drink the Ayahuasca (aka The Rope of the Dead), in order to commune with the dead. What's he got to lose at this point right?
The newlyweds must consummate their marriage before Leo continues on his psychedelic journey and we get a nice sex scene out of it.
Riario wakes in a cornfield, his body painted red and blue. There's shouting from within the maze and he's being watched by natives.
Speaking of which, Leo comes to and watches his body from afar. We quickly realize he's having an out of body experience. Leo approaches a mysterious doorway and hears three notes that will help guide him back. I'll be honest, when we first heard about The Vault of Heaven I had no idea we would be visiting an otherworldly plane. I found this limbo sequence incredibly fascinating and something that could only come from the mind of David S. Goyer.
Leonardo is soon confronted by Giuliano de' Medici's ghost who makes him solve a riddle (the vulva joke was pretty amusing) before another doorway opens.
In his holding cell, Lorenzo also sees Giuliano's ghost. I honestly did not expect to see this much of Tom Bateman but it was a welcome surprise. Giuliano tells him to picture the person he hates most in that target in order to survive Ferrante's sick game.
The Turk allows Lucrezia to see her sister's ghost (or was she a memory?). Amelia warns her that the death's that will happen, have to happen. That doesn't sound too good for our cast of characters does it?
Still in limbo, Leonardo walks up to his Mona Lisa and is greeted by the Abyssinian. He tells Leo the painting holds many secrets and more specifically its landscape. Was that Machu Picchu painted behind the Mona Lisa? And the number 2?
Leonardo: I know the hand of this painter.
The Abyssinian: Painted sometime around 1502 it is said. La Gioconda, the Mona Lisa.
Young Leo meeting the old bearded version of himself (from the self portrait we know) was a profound moment. The old man recognizes young Leo on his deathbed, time is truly a river as we've been told time and again on this series. This scene gave me goosebumps to be honest. I think great television (or movies) make us feel something, and this episode was a whirlwind of emotions for me. I can't wait to watch it again!
The man hanging upside down in the cave (from Season 1), is Leonardo at some point in his life but when? Is this something Goyer has been saving for a future season? Yes time is a river but how did a tween Leo come across his older self in that cave? I'm curious to find out.
Old bearded Leo tells his younger self he must protect The Book of Leaves and it will cost him everything that he holds dear. Why the chains on old Leonardo though and how exactly did he fail? Ima's voice warns Leo he's stayed too long, she calls him back.
All the while Riario fights brutally for his life, taking down one enemy after another. When he finally arrives to claim the antidote, it's Zita he must sacrifice in return for the cure.
King Ferrante's game begins and we witness a man attempt to kill the mad King as Ippolita had asked Lorenzo to do earlier. He fails, and his head is violently separated from his body. Da Vinci's Demons has been delving into Spartacus territory this season hasn't it? The person Lorenzo hates most is his brother, Giuliano, for leaving and dying before him. Rage now channeled Lorenzo kills the horse and is victorious. "No more games" he shouts at King Ferrante. Finally, the negotiations can begin.
Lucrezia, Quan and The Turk arrive in Constantinople. As always the Turk, speaking in riddles, tells Lucrezia about a man and a labyrinth who would use The Book of Leaves for death. Is this Count Riario he's referring to? Either way, she alone can make the man listen.
Once again, I found myself wanting to get back to Leonardo as his stuff is always the meat and potatoes of this series. Don't get me wrong, the Lorenzo and Lucrezia scenes were interesting but the intercutting back and forth was a bit frustrating.
On his way out of this otherworldly realm, Leo catches sight of the Turk among the spirits. I guess this confirms once and for all he's a spirit guide not an actual living person. I think part of me wanted to believe he was alive and would meet up with Leo at some point. Apparently he's our Obi-Wan Kenobi force ghost and that's totally fine by me. Did Kenobi toss out this many riddles to Luke though?
Riario reluctantly kills Zita, who now appears before Leonardo in spirit form and helps guide him back to Ima and the land of the living. Ima gives Leo the antidote, but Riario makes it clear he's not Leonardo's friend. He also tells Leo if they depart there without The Book of Leaves, he will kill him.
Was "The Rope of the Dead" a phenomenal episode or what? I'm blown away by how unique and exceptional Da Vinci's Demons is, how about you? What a shame it would be for Starz not to move forward with this series due to low ratings. David S. Goyer has created something remarkable here and it's up to us, the fans, to spread the word and get more people to watch.
Do you think Leonardo (or Riario) will actually leave the New World with The Book of Leaves?