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Da Vinci's Demons Review: Vespuccia

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We finally reach dry land... and Amerigo playfully names it Vespuccia.

I thought that was pretty amusing. Can you imagine if the Americas were known as Vespuccia? Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Throughout the series, though we've never questioned Leonardo's genius, we have questioned his sanity and quest. With so many demons haunting him, can The Book of Leaves even exist?

On Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 Episode 5, we not only learned the book is real, but that Leo's mother plays a significant role in all this madness.

The New World

Last week, I was less than thrilled with Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 Episode 4.  It wasn't terrible by any means, but felt like an installment we had to endure in order to arrive in the New World. It had a few cool moments, but mostly just set up tonight's installment "The Sun and the Moon."

The series is at a real turning point now. Fans of the show understand this is fantasy, and the producers have wildly embraced that fact. Sure, major historical events guide us through da Vinci's life but this is not a documentary and never pretended to be.

The revelation that The Book of Leaves exists ups the ante, and I'm very excited about the possibilities this opens up.

Let's start at the top, shall we?

Leo and company hit dry land and notice Riario's ship smashed on the nearby rocks. The Basilisk had been several weeks ahead of Leonardo's ship. My question is, how did Leo's hair get so damn long in a few weeks? Tom Riley looks great with the long hair, just had to throw that out there. Fantasy, yeah that's the ticket!

Amerigo will return in three weeks time to collect the adventurers. At least it's clear how Leo, Zo and the others get back to Florence.

Until now the series has mostly given us shades of brown and earthy tones, which is appropriate for Italy during the Renaissance. What a difference when our explorers venture through the jungles in this episode right? The greens are vibrant and the colors of the flowers unreal. Leo looks on with complete fascination but Zo continues to be frustrated with him.

The group spots a gold ornament in a nearby tree, Leo realizes the design matches his key. A native in green body paint appears but rushes off. It's not long before our heroes are ambushed by native warriors in blue body paint, the key design clearly painted on their bodies. They're captured.

Back in Florence, Andrea Verrocchio and Vanessa walk through the palace and Andrea explains that Cosimo de' Medici had tricked out the structure with secret passageways, coded messages and a whisper corridor. When Andrea demonstrates how sound carries from the higher levels via the whisper corridor, you just knew this was going to come in handy later on right?

Overall Clarice has been very supportive of Vanessa, mostly due to the Medici baby she's carrying but still it was good to see Vanessa prove her worth. When she overheard and later shared the Medici Bank board's scheme with Clarice, I think that helped bring them closer together.

What's the deal with Carlo - Cosimo's bastard - anyway? Throughout the episode we're unsure of his allegiances but he proves to be on Clarice's side. There's something about him that's still suspicious. The timing of his appearance in Florence, not to mention bedding Clarice. For some reason, I feel like he took Clarice's side this time to earn her trust, but he has an ulterior motive. I don't trust him, what about you?

Meanwhile in Naples, Lorenzo pays a guard off to inform his former childhood lover, Ippolita - now the wife of Duke Alfonso - that he is locked up but has urgent business with the King. It doesn't take long for her to appear and the two discuss how she lost him to that Roman woman with the Orsini name. Lorenzo sticks up for his wife and tells Ippolita that she's managing his affairs while he is away. Alfonso shows up, issuing threats.

Lorenzo: I implore you, let me sit with your father and end this pointless war.
Alfonso: Of course, I will take you to my father. We are civilized heads of state. Are we not?

While marching the captives toward their temple high in the mountains, Leonardo attempts to understand the Inca's foreign tongue. Again, this will come in handy later. Zo tells him he hopes he's trying to figure a way to escape not trying to decipher their gibberish. In reality, Leo's working to save their lives and that's the thing with him, it's always about the bigger picture. Without Leo, Zoroaster would have been a goner for sure.

Zo manages to get loose, he knocks one of the native warriors off the cliff but is quickly subdued. A female appears and leads them to the town made of stone, which the Abyssinian had told Leo about. Ima, the Inca High Priestess, approaches and takes Leo's key.

The CGI scenery was outstanding by the way. The effects people have seriously stepped it up this season. 

Bear McCreary's use of native instruments and chanting helps to establish this new world. Scoring this season must have been tough for Bear, but he pulls it off with flying colors. I often replay a scene and close my eyes just to listen to the music. The guy is amazing.

In Naples, Lorenzo and Piero are treated to a lavish feast and exquisite wine. Alfonso behaves obnoxiously and we soon realize he's drugged his so called "guests." What is up with this guy or is his father, the King, the one pulling the strings?

I had read that King Ferrante personally mummified the corpses of his enemies and displayed them in a chamber of horrors. However, I honestly wasn't expecting to see him disembowel a man while talking to Lorenzo. I've got to say, this was the nastiest scene of the entire series so far. From Lorenzo waking up vomiting, to Ferrante holding the organs and guts of his victim almost playfully. What a sicko!

The mad King later gives Lorenzo a personal tour of his "Black Museum." He informs the leader of Florence that each of his victims was in the same position Lorenzo is currently in. It's all part of some twisted game and Lorenzo has no choice but to accept. We'll learn all the details next week.

My favorite scenes and definitely the most interesting part of this installment begins with the Inca ceremony. Ima, the High Priestess, has Leo's key. A God-like man in a gold mask, Topa Inca - the leader of their people - wants said key but Ima refuses.

Leonardo: Whatever is about to happen, she's not happy about it.
Zo: Makes two of us.

Though we don't understand what the Inca are saying, it's pretty clear that Ima and Topa Inca are on opposite sides of the debate. She wants to help Leonardo and as we soon learn, they share an important connection. This means, Topa Inca wants to see the foreigners fail and probably sacrifice them. 

Several items are laid out before them, and the first man figures its a ritual to identify their value to the tribe so he grabs the wooden staff. Big mistake my friend, as his head is soon bashed in by one of the tribesmen. The ship's captain is up next and he begs Leonardo for some guidance. Leo hasn't had enough time to figure it all out, so the captain chooses poorly. Topa Inca removes his mask and stabs the man through the throat. Ciao captain, nice knowing ya. Good thing Amerigo will return in a few months time to pick up our heroes.

Naturally, it's Zoroaster that's chosen next. Did anyone really think Zo would be sacrificed at this point? Leo's "Da Vinci Vision" kicks in and in a brilliant display of animation we realize that all the Inca want is for them to plant the corn. Seriously that's it?

Leonardo uses the staff to split the ground, pours the corn in the little trail and then sprinkles water over it. He speaks a few words in their tongue surprising the Inca. Life is the answer they seek Leo says. Ima walks over and speaks his name, how cool was that?

Leo and Zo are spared, thrown in the temple and reunited with Nico and Count Riario. Zo takes the opportunity to punch the count, who completely understands his anger. After all, the last time they met Riario made him walk the plank right? However, they must now join forces if they're to get out alive.

Ima enters and says "The Book of Leaves will save us all." She will answer their questions but only to Leonardo, a face she's seen before.

You are not the first of your kind to arrive.

Ima

The pair walk deeper into the temple and Ima explains that the Sun and the Moon arrived when she was a little girl. One dark as night with images etched into his skin, the Abyssinian. The other, a woman, saved Ima from being sacrificed, healed her wounds and set her on the path to High Priestess. That's right, it's this woman's face Ima sees in Leo... his mother! She's responsible for teaching Ima english and told her one day Leonardo would come to the New World. Leo's mother and The Book of Leaves saved Ima's life she tells him.

It's real! I had goosebumps watching Tom Riley's expression and understanding that Leo's quest is going to pay off. He's not as crazy as we've been lead to believe.

Your guess is as good as mine as far as how all this comes together. Will Leonardo actually leave the New World with The Book of Leaves? Will Ima be forced to abandon her home with our heroes after defying Topa Inca? There's a major battle ahead that's for sure.

A great episode should leave us dying to know more and I'd say "The Sun and the Moon" did that and then some. I am now super psyched to see where a third season would take Leonardo and his friends. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Starz greenlight's Season 3. Hit the comments to talk about tonight's episode and the show's future in general.

Will Leonardo be reunited with his long lost mother?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.3 / 5.0 (31 Votes)
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Really enjoying season 2. A vast step up from 1 thats for sure. We are two eps behind here in the UK but so far its bang up there for me.

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Yeah, I commented on the hair because you weren't the only one to say anything about it. I think what is causing people to think this is that vespucci and zo (and others) have their hair pulled back rather than down. I really thought the episode was terrific. Even though on an intellectual level you KNOW that pretty much all survive, I felt legitimately anxious about both Leo and Lorenzo. You might want to add the actual title to your tags below: "The Sun and The Moon" for people to find when they search. Good work deserves to be discovered.

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Hi there - good review. So, first, the reason all their hair is longer is that they were sailing for months, not weeks. The Basilisk was ahead of them by weeks, but they've all been traveling for a long time. That's why Vanessa's pregnancy is showing now. Plus, I believe that Amerigo will rendezvous in 3 months not weeks, right? I think that the Ferrante clan is rivaling the Bolton clan for sheer disgustingness and that the King makes Sixtus look like a poseur in creepiness. Thought that the same effects guy did the barf for the altitude illness dude as for Lorenzo...lol. Finally, I actually liked the crop planting test. Whisper gallery was telegraphed, but ok. I really can't wait until next week. Bear McCreary's score was terrific.

Hanko9
@ kiddle

I had to joke about the hair because everyone else's hair still looked short and Leo had these long locks. Yeah I know they were at sea for months, but it didn't come across that way. They probably should have made Zo's hair a little longer so it would compliment Leo's new 'do. Ferrante was out of control, definitely giving the Bolton's a run for their money. Bear is just amazing! Thank you for commenting Kiddle. I wish more people took the time to share their thoughts on this great series.