After last week’s rather uneventful episode, ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ gets back on track with its fourth installment, ‘The Magician’, as Season 1 marks its mid-way point.
The threat of a battle between Florence and the Church in Rome is greater than ever. The Pope’s nephew Count Riario (Blake Ritson) meets with Lorenzo Medici (Eliot Cowan) to discuss the terms that will prevent Rome from attacking Florence. In addition to asking for Florence to forgive the Church’s debts to the Medicis, Riario presents Lorenzo with a list of artists the Church wants to come to Rome, and Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) is on the list. He allows Lorenzo 24 hours to think over the Church’s offer.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo’s closest advisor, Becchi (Michael Elwyn), has been imprisoned as a traitor to the Medicis. Lorenzo believes he’s been betrayed, but Lorenzo’s brother Guilino (Tom Bateman) doesn’t believe it. He goes to visit Becchi in his cell. Becchi urges Guilino to flush out the real traitor, as he believes many let their guard down in front of Guilino in a way they wouldn’t do in front of Lorenzo. However, Guilino makes the mistake of confiding in Lucrezia (Laura Haddock), not realizing that she’s the traitor he’s looking for.
Lorenzo tries to make up for their lack of weapons by producing more muskets. Da Vinci finds out about this, and realizing that they will not be enough to defeat the Church, sabotages their production. Lorenzo is furious and confronts Leo, smashing a pomegranate that da Vinci has been studying to learn something from its natural design. The smashed pomegranate gives da Vinci an idea, and when Lorenzo meets Riario again to concede to his terms, da Vinci interrupts and shows Riario a small sample of a new weapon he has created – giant balls that will explode and expand on impact, hurled from a gigantic crossbow-like contraption. Realizing he’s now outgunned, Riario retreats back to Rome. Da Vinci then shows Lorenzo that the giant crossbow is just a large fake, and that no method of launching the weapons was created. They’ve managed to stop the Church from advancing… for now.
A hooded figure arrives in Becchi’s cell and reveals herself to be Lucrezia. Becchi realizes that she’s the traitor, but she stabs him with a hemlock-laced knife, killing him and then making it look as if he ingested the hemlock on his own. However, Lucrezia claims she’s giving Becchi mercy, and he cannot possibly understand her situation. She seems remorseful for what she’s done.
Lorenzo is so pleased with da Vinci that he honors him with a medal. Da Vinci uses this moment of good will to suggest that Lorenzo fund a voyage west to South America, where he believes the Book of Leaves may be hidden. But before Lorenzo can approve, guards storm in and arrest da Vinci. The charge? Sodomy!
It took a handful of episodes, but the series really seems to be picking up and gaining its focus. Hopefully, next week will be another step in the right direction.