Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Thoughts before the Penultimate Episode of “Da Vinci’s Demons”

When I published my post titled 5 Questions Going Into Season 3 of “Da Vinci’s Demons,” I never thought I’d receive a tweet from Tom Riley, who plays Leonardo Da Vinci on the show. Commenting on my post, he wrote: “You will actually get decent answers to all of these.” Heading into the penultimate episode of Da Vinci’s Demons, I agree with him wholeheartedly.

One concern I raised in my earlier post is that Starz made the decision to end the series after filming wrapped. As a result, I thought it would be unlikely we would see a true series finale that resolves all the show’s story lines. That still may be the case, but so far my questions are getting answered, even while other intriguing questions emerge. Looking at my original queries, let’s see where things stand.

1. Will Pope Sixtus Fail?

When I wrote this question, I intended it to be about whether the evil Pope Sixtus would lose to his twin brother, who I believed to be the true – and benevolent – pope that would restore honor to the papacy. It turns out the show does appear to be heading toward a conflict between the two men, but in a twist I didn’t see coming, the “true” pope looks more evil than his brother! 

Rather than restoring the honor of Saint Peter’s throne, it turns out the true pope is one of the Sons of Mithras. In prior seasons, I assumed these were the good guys, yet now it appears that they’re as evil as the Labyrinth. The “true” pope, we learn, is supporting the Ottoman invasion of Italy, killing Christians by the droves, and even pondering the murder of Lucrezia, his own daughter. Amid these two evil popes, Leonardo and his friends have emerged as the only good guys in the show, so does it really matter which pope wins? 

That may depend on how we define winning. For the record, the historical Pope Sixtus lived six years after the Pazzi Conspiracy depicted in Season One, so I’m betting on evil pope #1 being the victor, but only with Leonardo’s help in defeating the Ottomans. I won’t put much money on that bet, however. Plot twists are one thing this show has excelled at, and I think we’re in for one more before the series ends.

2. Will Lucrezia End Up A Hero?

This question has already been answered in my book. While I had a fleeting concern that Lucrezia might end up an opium addict, there is no doubt that she’s a hero. After all, she saved Leonardo’s sister from the hands of a madman, obtained the mysterious page of the Book of Leaves, and helped direct Leo to both the page and his sister an episode ago. Lucrezia remains in mortal danger in the hands of the Ottomans, and hopefully she’ll be rescued before the series’ end. But I love the character arc the writers gave her on this show. It was very well done. 

3. Will Leonardo Meet His Past Self?

We may have the answer based on last week’s episode. Leo returns to that mysterious cave in Vinci, only to be ambushed by Carlo de’ Medici and hung upside down, much like the Hanged Man the boy Leo saw at the beginning of Season One. After being saved by his sister Sophia, she reveals that the cave is a place with special properties, a nexus if you will with the “River of Time.” Leo believes this might explain the vision he had as a boy. If this is the final answer to this question, I’m satisfied.

4. Is Riario Lost to the Dark Side? 

I think we have the answer to this one as well. A few episodes ago, it was revealed that the Labyrinth (aka the “Enemies of Man”) poisoned Riario and turned him insane. Leonardo, however, was able to cure Riario’s insanity, and last episode, he confessed to murdering Lorenzo’s wife, clearly seeking absolution or punishment, but either way I think he’s been saved from the dark side. For now.

5. What is the Book of Leaves?

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll ever see the entire book before the series ends. Leo’s mother tells him that she obtained it, and warns him that it’s dangerous, but so far this season the show has only focused on that single page we saw earlier in the secret Vatican archives. That page, it turns out, has the power to drive men mad – at least those who can’t read it. Yet when Leo and Sophia finally have a look at that page, under moonlight (a necessary ingredient), and in the mystical cave in Vinci, we see the book’s true magic. Three dimensional images appear, and both Leo and his sister see different things. The images appear to be the plans to a weapon of some sort involving electricity. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the final two episodes, and I’m looking forward to it!

In the end, I’m really going to miss this show. I still believe it’s been the best historical fantasy on television, and I’ll gladly purchase the series collection when it comes out on Blu-ray. 

Thank you, Tom Riley. You were true to your word.

* images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.

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