Da Vinci = Liberace
A Show Review of Da Vinci’s Demons Episode 5: “The Tower”
By: Lawrence Napoli
My titular suggestion of whom else I feel Da Vinci channels in this fifth episode of Da Vinci’s Demons is more than a reference to the many examples of “air piano” he displays throughout as he attempts to work out the predicament he finds himself in. Indeed, last week’s episode ended with an extreme curve ball that saw him in handcuffs at the very moment he was finally receiving full acceptance and praise within the epicenter of Florence’s power. Even during the Renaissance, it was a very bad idea to get on the wrong side of anyone in power because the manner of “due process” the viewer witnesses here apparently requires no evidence to see a person be jailed indefinitely. Ah, but Da Vinci’s powers of observation and reason are equal to the task as his abilities are easily applied to just about any situation; not just inventing cool things. It’s not about being smarter than everyone else (because he’d avoid being Florence’s whipping boy amidst the intercession of Rome), but about cutting to the quick faster than everyone else which reveals the true benefactor, the true motive and the true conspiracy that seeks to remove Da Vinci from the game in which Florence’s freedom hangs in the balance.
Bat shit crazy!
Although we see plenty of scenes of Da Vinci in prison, the engine of this episode is the court room drama that seeks to make his imprisonment permanent. These moments are perhaps the most pleasing of this episode because it gives the audience an entirely unique format in which to experience the story. The extra twist to these proceedings shows a certain someone pledged with Da Vinci’s defense. This begins to redefine their relationship to a level of mutual respect viewers have not yet seen and have these characters ever experienced in their lives. Unfortunately, this does mean this episode is very heavy on dialogue and not particularly abundant with action, laughs and visual effects.
Witness for the defense.
It also means that other characters continue to step to the forefront in terms of their impact to the story and their ability to connect with the audience. Da Vinci’s Demons continues its strategy of paralleling conflicts that shows the Medici’s attempt to sure up their financial situation by securing a foreign account while displaying Da Vinci’s personal plight. As it turns out, this subplot is equally important and shockingly, not mutually exclusive to Da Vinci’s imprisonment. These scenes give the audience a much clearer view of what the Medici family represents, the kind of people they really strive to be and their vision moving forward into the future. In just about every episode prior to The Tower, the Medici’s are portrayed as your average ruling class snobs that are completely out of touch with “the people.” Certainly, Da Vinci’s influence has been bridging that gap, but Lorenzo’s sales pitch combined with Giulino’s charm gives us a reverse perspective from the top down that doesn’t repulse or disgust. Knowing Lorenzo’s manic nature, I don’t fully trust his high minded idealism as I could easily see him turn on Da Vinci (and by extension, the audience) instantly if he saw profit in it.
Not even this ugly beard will prevent me from getting to the truth.
The Tower is easily my favorite episode thus far mostly due to the court room drama format. Although this episode is less concerned with the Book of Leaves, it ends with the surprising return of a person who set Da Vinci on this path of discovery in the first place. The audience is treated to more cryptic imagery that doesn’t exactly make sense so hopefully we will discover the connection between Da Vinci and the Vault of Heaven before this first season is over. The one thing I don’t care for at all is the fact that Riario and his Roman conspirators are not seen once during this entire episode. Although, I imagine this situation will be rectified in next week’s episode entitled "The Devil". God only knows how Da Vinci will continue to survive, let alone discover the Book of Leaves, despite the immensity of his adversity.