Da Vinci's Demons Review: Episode 4: "The Magician"
Da Vinci = Batman
A Show Review of Da Vinci’s Demons Episode 4: “The Magician”
By: Lawrence Napoli
The end of last week’s episode saw Florence all but folding in on itself what with “demonic” possession, spies amongst the ruling family and the flippant Leonardo Da Vinci of all people being relied upon to tip an inevitable conflict with Rome in his own country’s favor. This episode escalates the situation to the closest we’ve all come to witnessing a field battle along the lines of Braveheart or The Patriot, but to have such a conflict only halfway through such an abbreviated, first season could possibly spoil the finale. Thus, we are all given a nice tease as to what we may expect when Florence and Rome set their armies against each other.
As a character, Da Vinci becomes more and more difficult to get a grasp of during this episode which is not necessarily a bad thing considering David S. Goyer’s conscious efforts to portray the man as physically incapable of containing and channeling the brilliance within him. As the title of this review suggests, Da Vinci demonstrates the same DIY, self confidence and determination as a certain Dark Knight. However, it is Leonardo’s sudden change of heart amidst his constant pondering of the Vault of Heaven, the Book of Leaves, the security of Florence and keeping the Medici’s off his ass where this connection is demonstrated by an oddly timed moment of clarity. Rome is on Florence’s doorstep which forces Da Vinci’s rumination to a depressing state in which he all but admits the constant and perpetuating destructive nature of man, which leads to a flip flop (of sorts) concerning his own infernal devices and a rash reaction that surprises every single character.
Da Vinci’s manic nature can be a bit frustrating to accept because he is brilliant and charming and clearly the protagonist of this show, but his attention span is short, his motives still seem a bit selfish and even his own friends are getting irritated by his actions. No, he’s not as easy to like as Iron Man because Da Vinci’s comedy isn’t nearly as frequent, but Tom Riley continues to evolve this character with peaks and valleys in a way that challenges the viewer. I love the fact that Da Vinci is in a world of his own to the point where everything could be collapsing around him and he still wouldn’t care less about such a detail if it interrupted one of his thoughts. It may come off as hubris on steroids, but his unconventional means haven’t backfired yet.
Riario gets back into the direct plot after a brief hiatus last episode to once again come off as the smooth talking sonova-B; he actually is to once again match wits with Da Vinci and the rest of his cohorts from Florence. I like how each confrontation has escalated in terms of the venue and stakes, but I don’t like how Riario is constantly behind the 8 Ball. For someone who claims leadership over a network of spies and information control, he doesn’t have very good facts about Da Vinci the man, his propensity for bravado and his excellent showmanship. As a result, this character is starting to look a little weak to me, and when you factor in his character being handled by Rome in a similar fashion as Florence treats Da Vinci, I expect to see this rabid dog cut loose sooner than later which will make him more threatening and a better villain overall.
This wasn’t a week for special effects of any sort which was kind of a disappointment. Plot twists involving the spy’s conspiracy and the Medici family’s political agenda ate up a lot of time that could have been used to show us all a little more of “Leo Land” from a visual effects perspective. Alas, there’s a lot of dialogue and minimal action and how this episode ends doesn’t suggest the promise of more action in the next episode: “The Tower.” Still, Da Vinci’s pursuit of the Book of Leaves progresses slowly but surely which gives the viewers an explanation as to why this opportunity landed in Florence of all places.
Overall, this was a decent episode that could have been better had it delivered on any one of its various teases (especially one that involves a rather large set piece). I’m really starting to hate Lorenzo as a character and wondering if everyone in Florence would be better off if his brother (who isn’t the blathering idiot he usually is for this episode) was calling the shots. I like what the spy continues to do and I like how any internal conflict about what is being done gives way to self preservation; which yields a more devious character. As for next week’s episode, I really want to know how Da Vinci’s big mouth is going to get him out of this one.