Episode Title: "The Magician"
Writers: David S. Goyer and Jami O'Brien
Director: Jamie Payne
In "The Magician," Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan) finds himself with a curious problem: he has a brilliant war engineer who isn’t so keen on the idea of going to war.
And then there’s the matter of a spy in the Medici court. Lorenzo believes he has his man in Becchi, though Giuliano is certain he’s innocent. With Count Riario on the verge of taking Florence and well aware of its firepower, thanks to Giuliano, Lorenzo is panicked. He sends weapons production into overdrive, with da Vinci overseeing the metal works.
The problem is that da Vinci (Tom Riley) would rather stare at a statue and play with pomegranates than produce weapons that feed what he believes will be a never-ending cycle of war. He’s also preoccupied with a painting of Cosimo Medici, Lorenzo’s grandfather and the man who gave him the statue.
While Lorenzo’s taking out his anger over Florence’s impending doom on hapless underlings, like the poor guy who broke the seal on Riario’s letter and wound up getting beaten to death while tied to a wheel in the town square, Lucrezia (Laura Haddock) is feeling pretty bad about the fact that Becchi will probably suffer the same fate. She dons a hood and heads down to Captain Dragonetti’s prison, posing as a priest and knocks him unconscious. She then reveals herself to Becchi and spares him the wheel by poisoning the old man with hemlock.
It’s here where "Da Vinci’s Demons" becomes both more intriguing and frustrating. When Becchi questions Lucrezia's decision to spy for Rome, she claims she’s got a damn good reason. But what is it? For the past three episodes we’ve watched Lucrezia make all kinds of shady moves but with no idea why. Therefore, it’s kind of hard to care about her machinations.
There’s also da Vinci’s obsession with the Vault of Heaven, the Book of Leaves and the Sons of Mithras. It all sounds very exciting, but right now it’s just a lot of whispered tales and riddles.
Da Vinci does, however, have a number of important breakthroughs in "The Magician." After Lorezeno throws a pomegranate at the maestro in a fit on anger, da Vinci comes up with a plan to thwart Riario. With help from Zoroaster (Gregg Chillin) and Nico (Eros Vlahos), he builds a number of large bombards, or massive grenades, and demonstrates one on a much smaller scale for Riario (Blake Ritson), just as Lorenzo is about to surrender himself. He then reveals a giant crossbow capable of launching the bombs at the Roman army. Riario retreats, but not before reminding Lorenzo and da Vinci that "war is fought on many fronts." Of course, it’s a bluff as da Vinci and his men couldn’t possibly have assembled such a contraption overnight. Lorenzo questions the tactic, but is satisfied with the result and throws da Vinci a party.
Things are looking up for da Vinci as Lorenzo hoists much praise upon his war engineer before his court. But Captain Dragonetti and his men crash the party and arrest da Vinci for sodomy, right as he’s in the middle of pitching an expedition to find the Vault of Heaven to Lorenzo. The episode ends with Lorenzo protesting da Vinci’s arrest and leaves us with a lot of questions like:
- The banker, Pazzi has proven to Pope Sixtus that he can do what Riario couldn’t by having da Vinci arrested and presumably taken to Rome. Will these two end up fighting it out to gain favor with his holiness?
- If Becchi was the real spy, why would he have suggested to Lorenzo that there's a spy in the Medici court, in the first place? And why doesn't this occur to Lorenzo?
- What was the priest talking about when he spoke of Lucrezia’s marriage woes?
- How pissed is Zoroaster that da Vinci didn’t take him to his party after pulling an all-nighter to build the fake giant crossbow. And how long until he turns on his friend?
- How crazy is it that everyone continues to doubt da Vinci after he’s made a man fly, built a musket that blew Riario and his men all the way back to Rome and cured an entire convent full of "possessed" nuns? He’s got one hell of a track record, after all he’s Leonardo freakin’ da Vinci. But we already know that.
"Da Vinci’s Demons" is surely coming along and if there’s one reason to watch the show, it’s the incredibly charismatic Tom Riley as Leonardo da Vinci. Riley is especially good in this episode as well as his frequent verbal sparring partner, Blake Ritson as Count Riario. Now that he’s in Roman custody, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of these two go at it in episodes to come. Though da Vinci would probably "rather have (his) testicles gnawed off my conga eels."