Da Vinci finds himself on trial for his life in ‘The Tower’, the fifth episode of Starz’s new series from creator David S. Goyer. This is another (for the most part) standalone episode, though we get to see some additional character development, particularly when it comes to Leonardo’s father.
At the conclusion of last week’s episode, da Vinci was arrested and accused of sodomy. As this week’s story opens, we discover that Leo’s father, Piero (David Schofield), will represent him at the trial. The proceedings, however, quickly reveal this is little more than a kangaroo court. The judge tells Piero that da Vinci’s guilt has already been determined.
During the days of the trial, there’s a nice scene between Leo and his father where we learn a little more about Piero’s relationship with Leonardo’s mother. Piero refuses to answer Leo’s questions about whether his mother may still be alive, but Leo is able to deduce that his mother actually left his father for some reason.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo Medici hosts King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, hoping the country will make the Medicis their bankers of record. Ferdinand is concerned that the Medicis are no longer the Church’s bankers, so Lorenzo has to work on convincing him why Spain should trust them with their money.
Da Vinci, who has been acting oddly ever since his imprisonment, works with his friends Nico and Zoroaster to plot his escape. Zoroaster makes it inside Leo’s cell, and Leo has Zoroaster change clothes with him, so when the guard comes to check on him, he’ll think Zoroaster is da Vinci. Free from prison, da Vinci initiates an elaborate scheme to frame the judge into dropping all charges against him.
While Ferdinand, Isabella and many other citizens of Florence are being treated to a performance of Giovanni Boccaccio’s ‘The Decameron’, Leo captures the judge and ties him to a pig so that it looks like he’s having sex with the animal. He then shows the judge an invention that will project the image of him with the pig up in the sky for all the citizens of Florence to see. He activates the machine, and while the image is seen by all, Leo has the device angled such that the judge’s face is not visible. Leo explains to the judge that unless he proclaims him innocent (and signs his own confession of having sex with the pig, which da Vinci will keep for insurance), he’ll reactivate the device and this time show the judge’s face.
Needless to say, the next day in court, the judge quickly dismisses all charges against Leo. However, Leo later goes to meet his accuser and we discover that the two men did have a relationship, although it was consensual (thus introducing us to the fact that da Vinci is bisexual). Da Vinci clarifies that the two of them have no future together, and in the very next scene we see Leo naked in a bathtub with Lucrezia. The two have a conversation in which they reveal to each other that neither can afford the luxury of being in love.
The episode wraps up with another visit to Leo from the Turk (Alexander Siddig). The Turk asks Leo about his recent dreams, where he’s in a cave with dead bodies and another body is hanging from the ceiling. Leo believed they were just dreams, but the Turk confirms that da Vinci is having a vision. Thinking back to his vision, Leo realizes that the man hanging from the ceiling is none other than himself!
This week’s episode doesn’t do a whole lot to advance the storyline, but it gives us a little more insight into the character of da Vinci. He seems to have made a better bond with his father, we know his mother may still be alive out there somewhere, and it’s now confirmed that he’s bisexual (something only hinted at in earlier episodes, and keeping in line with what we know about the real Leonardo). The series still hasn’t given us a truly great entry, but it remains interesting enough to keep tuning in.