Leonardo is preparing himself for the journey to the Book of Leaves, which he doesn’t think should include Zoroaster and Nico. He’s put the two of them through a lot and doesn’t want to further endanger them, but Zo argues that with Nico’s unflinching loyalty and his own financial debts, they’re ready and willing to do anything and go anywhere. Before Leonardo can respond, though, he spots a falcon in a nearby tree, the genus of which is said to be found only in Turkey and one other country. Zo mentions that it could be an omen and instead of running away from it, Leonardo immediately begins chasing after it on horseback. The creature leads him to where he originally met the Turk, who is sitting down and surrounded by a semi-circle of fire and tells Leonardo that with the keys and what he gathered from the Abyssinian, the Book of Leaves, not seen in 1000 years, is within his grasp. However, the inventor is tired of feeling manipulated, something which offends the Turk, and only complies due to the desire to find his mother.
Giuliano has yet to reappear and both Clarice and Lorenzo are afraid of what this means for their alliance with the Pazzis. Clarice insinuates that this is somehow Lorenzo’s fault, as he might have heard something different than what his brother told him, while Francesco is upset at Giuliano’s disappearance as well. Pazzi wants to go ahead and kill Clarice and Lorenzo, but as they don’t know Giuliano’s fate, Riario doesn’t want to chance having Florence rally around the Medicis and ruin their chances of seizing the city. Francesco tries to send Riario after Giuliano, only for the Count to threaten him with the force of the Roman army should he dare.
While the rest of the Pazzi alliance grows annoyed at Francesco’s impatience, Captain Dragonetti brings up that the last time he heard from Giuliano, the Medici brother was going to Sienna for a final pre-wedding fling, bringing Bettino to keep him in line. The Captain is then tasked with searching the roads that lead from Florence to Sienna, all the while the Turk informs Leonardo of the next step he needs to take to find the Book of Leaves. There is a barge called the Basilisk departing the following morning that he needs to find himself on – his navigational skills will get them to the land that houses the book, as long as he finds the astrolabe that Cossimo de Medici acquired in Constantinople thirteen years ago and promptly hid from captivity.
Bettino’s body gets discovered and brought back to the Medici residence, with its condition and wound placement indicating bandits as the culprit. Giuliano, who was presumed dead at the end of last week’s episode, finds himself in a tent after being discovered in the river by a poor Christian man. Although his wounds are far from healing, he demands that he return to Florence and warn his brother of Lucrezia’s status as the spy and secures horse to do such as that. He comes across Captain Dragonetti and the men that Lorenzo sent, informing them of what happened with Lucrezia. Dragonetti sends the rest off to give word to Lorenzo that Giuliano lives and offers to escort the Medici brother home by himself.
Leonardo finds the astrolabe hidden underneath a full-body sculpture of Cossimo (specifically, the heart) with a little help from Verrochio and says goodbye to his mentor and father figure, presuming that he’ll be heading off to sea shortly. With almost every puzzle piece filled in, he goes to Lorenzo to negotiate his way out of his contract, rejecting Medici’s offer of a small dutchie and informing him of the Duke of Urbino’s presence in the Vatican. What exactly does Leonardo want to stay in Florence? Lucrezia, although word comes that Giuliano lives before Lorenzo can give a definitive answer regarding how much his lover means and whether she was more important than the city of Florence.
Riario and Francesco continue to grow impatient and plot to poison the entire Medici family, including Lorenzo’s young daughters, during upcoming Easter mass. This way, it can look like an act of God took the Florentine leader out and no one would dare question something that happened within the confines of the church. They task Capaldi with making sure the poison would be ready for tomorrow morning and killing Giuliano before he made it back to Florence with word of Lucrezia’s misdeeds. Meanwhile, Dragonetti has made it clear to Giuliano that he sides with Rome due to the absence of God from the Medici rule, only he doesn’t kill the brother when he has a chance. Rather, the two ride on horseback until they meet Capaldi, who Dragonetti kills with a crossbow, claiming the action to be what was best for Florence.
The Duke of Urbino has a confrontation with Count Riario, with the latter threatening to have him stripped of his title, deemed a heretic, and excommunicated, in addition to tortured, if he acts against Florence before given command. Riario claims that should Florence rise together, given the advantageous way their streets are designed, there would be real trouble and that they needed to go about this wisely rather than relying on brute force.
Leonardo bribes his, Zo’s, and Nico’s way onto the barge intended to take them to the Book of Leaves, spending the morning of their departure in his studio sketching. He’s then interrupted by Lucrezia, emerging from the shadows. He brings up everything that she had done to him, including branding him a sexual predator, and she counters with everything that she had done for him, including begging for his mercy and bringing Nico to help a poisoned Vanessa. However, Leonardo ultimately emerges the victor due to his encounter with Lucrezia’s father and the knowledge that he wouldn’t leave the cell when given the opportunity. Everything that Lucrezia had done, he claims, was for nought. Stunned, she says that Leonardo’s work argues that man is capable of anything and that he represented the heights of the human condition and she the depths. The two kiss and Leonardo pulls away, fearful he’ll be late for his barge; he’s left with information about Riario and the Pazzis making a move on Florence and plotting to kill Lorenzo.
At Castle Santangelo, Sixtus visits Lucrezia’s father and lays out his grand plan to go after the Ottoman Empire, a victory over which could make him a Saint. However, the prisoner warns the Holy Father and getting ahead of himself and reveals to the audience that he’s Sixtus’ brother. The morning of Easter mass, Leonardo makes a last minute decision to try and save Lorenzo while still getting on the boat to hunt for the Book of Leaves. The ceremony, featuring poisoned wafers intended for the Medici family, gets interrupted by a staggering, bloody Giuliano, accusing the Pazzis of conspiring against his family. No longer content to remain quiet and wait for his moment, Francesco declares death to all Medicis and a series of bloody sword fights begin, with Cardinal Orsini choosing to fight for Rome over his family, several priests meeting their end thanks to Giuliano, and Captain Dragonetti fighting for Lorenzo and the good of Florence.
Lucrezia, who warned the blind homeless man to run away and hide due to hell being about to descend upon Florence, finds her way into the church and saves Clarice from two holy men that had cornered her against a locked door before being captured by Count Riario. While she’s being held against her will, her sins exposed to Clarice in the process, Giuliano is struck down by a sword to the back, with his assailants taking glee in stabbing him multiple times while he was down. Vanessa manages to sneak in to be with him and tells him that she’s pregnant with his son before he succumbs to his wounds while laying on the floor.
Lorenzo ends up having to face off with Francesco, who can only wound the Medici when more of his Roman compatriots show up and surround the Florentine leader. However, Leonardo manages to get to the church and fend them all off, using a firebomb to distract the Romans long enough to drag Lorenzo to safety. Once locked inside a room in the church, Leonardo tends to Lorenzo’s sliced neck and gets threatened once Medici sees Lucrezia’s ring around his neck. Lorenzo promises to kill them both should they all survive this, but that might not be such a certainty, since Riario drags Lucrezia further in the church, slings her onto a pew, and fires a cannon at the door separating him from Leonardo and Lorenzo.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-The Turk’s name is apparently al-Raheem.
-There was a nice detail when flies began attacking the fruit at the celebration for Camilla and Giuliano, signifying that a fair amount of time had passed since things had been set up.
-I liked seeing Da Vinci buck against the Turk, even if it was a little bit. He’s been such a strong, independent thinker that to have him willfully following orders, mother or no mother, would have felt false.
-Although I was disappointed that Giuliano lived to see this episode, seeing as how his death at the hands of Lucrezia was awesome, I thought they handled it reasonably well. The declaration-of-pregnancy-during-one’s-dying-moments rang a little false/overly manipulative, but his death in battle was well-executed.
-Dragonetti’s flipping between alliances was unexpected and pretty fun to watch. While it might have been more interesting to see him dueling with Lorenzo at the church than fighting with him, the reveals during the rest of the episode were more than enough to make up for that.
-Blake Ritson’s facial expressions are a delight, especially during scenes like his dressing down of Urbino. Gif-worthy, in the best sense of the phrase.
-Lucrezia’s arc was my favorite of the first season. It had part to do with how wonderful Laura Haddock was (the scene with Leonardo in his studio might be my favorite of the series) and part with how refreshing I found the writing for her character. She may have been under the control of multiple men, but she never lost her agency and I rooted for her to free herself and live the life she wanted to.
-Also, on a related note, HOLY CRAP SHE’S THE POPE’S NIECE. Now that was a reveal.
-The final battle in the church faintly reminded me of the first season finale of Spartacus. You know the part I’m talking about.
-Overall, I grew to really look forward Da Vinci’s Demons each week. I’ve liked every episode and think that the show is vastly underrated, but the last 2-3 of the season stepped it up a notch and made me excited for where the story is going during season two. It’s just an energetic, self-aware action-adventure show that whisks you away on a 57 minute journey and makes sure it’s as fun as can be.