Da Vinci = Bill Maher
A Show Review of Da Vinci’s Demons Episode 3: “The Prisoner”
By: Lawrence Napoli
Bang! Just as I made an observation concerning the formulaic structure to this show’s episodes, director David S. Goyer goes and throws me a curve ball. Get out of my head, man! Unfortunately, the first couple of minutes of this third episode are no less cryptic, chaotic and curious by cutting to several characters in a sequential order that doesn’t make any sense unless you watch the rest of the episode. Perhaps the purpose of starting every episode in this manner is meant to reflect Da Vinci’s personal thought process which is an incomprehensible collision of ideas that would only make sense to fellow human dynamos. As it is, it’s still somewhat of a frustrating way to start an episode, and even if one were to put the confusing juxtaposition aside, the first moments feel like this entire episode is going to be rushing through some plot. Thankfully, this intro is only a momentary decent into madness.
The story that is taking form by the end of this episode is certainly branching out to some very interesting places as well as featuring even more established characters and their respective subplots. In fact, Da Vinci takes a bit of a back seat to his supporting cast this time around which makes for more screen time for Giulino Medici (Tom Bateman), Count Riario (Blake Ritson), Clarice Orsini (Lara Pulver) and an as yet unidentified wild card who happens to be introduced in this appropriately titled episode: “The Prisoner.” All that can be said about this new character is that he comes from an older world of wisdom – the very same kind which Da Vinci seeks in his quest for ‘The Book of Leaves,’ and it certainly appears as though “Mr. X” and This third episode unloaded hefty amounts of plot twists and developments that I simply was not expecting: Lorzeno vs. his brother, Lorezno’s wife vs. his mistress, the Pope vs. his enforcer, the enforcer vs. the prisoner and science vs. religion. That last, thematic, conflict is the heart of this particular episode as what appears to be a series of hideous demonic possessions has become quite alarming to the people of Florence so much so that even Da Vinci must take notice and investigate. All right, so maybe Da Vinci isn’t exactly Bill Maher as he isn’t completely dismissive of the devil, but he is still looking at the overall picture as well as the acute details to find nothing but suspicious timing to all of the events he observes.
I really enjoy the dichotomy this series is delving into between the world of faith, mysticism and religion against the world of fact, reason and science. What’s interesting to think about is that those who are authorities in either world don’t exactly find that much separation between them in how they maintain and utilize their power and influence over others. They also seem to be the kind of people who are so far removed from the trials and tribulations of normal people (i.e. the SUPER rich). This is why Da Vinci presents such a compelling protagonist. At this point in his life, he is only now being recognized for his talents, yet he is still a no-name and is treated as such by those threatened by his abilities (those in power). He is certainly a champion of the people, but this episode is also clear that his own personal demon known only as obsession can get the better of him at times and it remains to be seen if this fatal weakness will be revisited in next week’s episode: "The Magician."