A lot happens in the season’s penultimate episode of ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’. Entitled ‘The Hierophant’, the episode is packed with a number of major events that seem to set us up for Season 2.
The episode begins with most of our major characters in Rome for Easter week. Da Vinci, Zoroaster and Nico have been following Count Riario, and spot him at a cemetery putting flowers on the grave of a female. The name is unfamiliar to the trio, and this episode doesn’t reveal why Riario would visit her grave. Wife, lover, mother, daughter, sister, or some other connection – we’ll probably have to wait until Season 2 to find out.
The Medicis are in Rome for Ash Wednesday services, and Lorenzo keeps reminding his brother Giuliano about Giuliano’s upcoming arranged marriage into the Pazzi family. But Giuliano has eyes for Vanessa. After a drunken evening lamenting his upcoming wedding arrangement, he asks Vanessa to come to his bed. The next morning, one of Giuliano’s men comes to him with information about the traitor they have been looking for. Clues point to Lucrezia, and for the first time Giuliano realizes that she may be the spy they were searching for all along.
Meanwhile, da Vinci is determined to break into the Vatican’s secret archives, where he believes the second half of the key that unlocks the mysterious “Vault of Heaven” (and leads to the “Book of Leaves”) resides. Of course, loyal viewers know that Count Riario already has the other half of the key. Since the Vatican is well-guarded, da Vinci creates a diving suit to go underwater and get inside that way. He makes it inside at the same time Pope Sixtus IV arrives for his daily bath.
Da Vinci holds Sixtus prisoner via a crossbow and figures out where the entrance to the archives is. Once inside, the Pope leads him down below into an even more secretive chamber that houses a dragon skull, the Spear of Destiny (used by a Roman guard to pierce Christ’s side), the Ark of the Covenant, and – I kid you not – what looks to be a chunk of Kryptonite. (The Pope never identifies what it is!) More importantly, the Pope shows him a ripped page from the Book of Leaves that the Church has obtained. When passing his torch in front of the page, the letters and symbols change shape into different languages and symbols (one of which looks suspiciously like the Dharma Initiative logo from ‘Lost‘!).
The Pope offers Leo the chance to be the Church’s keeper of the archives, but da Vinci realizes that he’d just be another valuable in the Pope’s possession, so he makes his escape. On his way out, he comes across the mysterious prisoner (from Episode 3) and learns that the jailed man is actually Lucrezia’s father. Da Vinci offers to free him, but the prisoner says he’s exactly where he needs to be.
Count Riario discovers da Vinci’s scuba device and uses it to make his way back to land, where he tries to kill Zoroaster, but is knocked out by Nico at the last second. They tie Riario up and when da Vinci has returned, he sees that Riario has the second half of the key. Riario comments that soon he will take something just as equally important from da Vinci.
In disguise as a leper, Lucrezia makes her way out of Rome. She’s discovered by a trio of the Pope’s men, who have been given orders by Riario to kill her. Just as they plan to do so, Giuliano arrives with one of his men to save her. After a short battle, Giuliano is the only of the men to survive. He pursues Lucrezia into a nearby riverbed and confronts her about being a traitor. She responds by stabbing him! The episode wraps up with Giuliano’s lifeless body floating down the river.
This week’s major death is, of course, no match for the major deaths on that other premium channel cable series, but it’s still pretty shocking. Giuliano was actually turning into one of the more likable characters on this show, so it’s sad to see him go. Also, after a few episodes where Lucrezia’s character was becoming more understandable because of her circumstances, can there be any forgiveness for her now?