Da Vinci = Danny Ocean
A Show Review of Da Vinci’s Demons Episode 7: The Hierophant
By: Lawrence Napoli
Yes! Redemption episode! The last episode of Da Vinci’s Demons saw a chance encounter with Dracula (or Vlad the Impaler) of all characters and as interesting as that may sound for an historical reinvention that tiptoes the borders of fantasy, it was plain ridiculous. It made little sense to viewers and even less relevance to the story that’s been developing thus far in the previous six episodes. Be that as it may, David S. Goyer comes back with a vengeance in "The Hierophant" which gets the story firmly back on track by having Da Vinci become embolden enough to confront his opposition directly. We’re going to Rome!
Pope Sixtus has some cool toys.
For this entire series, the audience has been told how Pope Sixtus IV and his cronies have been directing events across Europe not merely by the strength of arms, but by manipulating the faith and secretly acquiring and hoarding fundamental knowledge of the natural world and by extension, the nature of man. The Vatican’s control over the latter element has been what Da Vinci has dedicated his life in pursuit of, and thanks to his efforts in "The Devil," he has his bearing to discover the actual resting place of The Vault of Heaven. All he needs is Count Riario’s half of the key. I enjoyed the planning and preparation scenes where Da Vinci, Nicco and Zoroaster consider the options of actually penetrating The Vatican’s defenses. It reminded me of the best parts of the Ocean’s 11 Trilogy in that it comes off as a good old fashioned B&E to a highly secured installation. I also liked how the entire episode tied back into the Medici’s immediate troubles as well as Da Vinci’s personal quest seamlessly (as if the last episode didn’t even happen).
Another of Da Vinci's devices at work?
If you thought that Da Vinci’s Demons was moving too slowly for your taste, The Hierophant not only ups the pace, but fills it up with many subplots coming to ahead. Riario vs. Da Vinci? Check. Giulino searching for the spy? Check. Remember Riario’s prisoner? Check. What’s most impressive about the volume of twists in this episode is that nothing feels like it was discarded as soon as it was introduced and every new development leaves the audience with new and satisfying information that ups the tension and gets your brain thinking about what could happen next. Oh yes my friends, everything is coming together at the right time with only one episode left which I eagerly anticipate, but I am also somewhat disheartened because 8 episodes does not a full season of ANY television show make. By the way, if any of you were really anticipating that exciting rematch with Dracula, you will be disappointed by its absence here (thank God!).
The man is still not to be trifled with.
I’d also like to take a moment to commend all of the show creators for doing their best to root this fiction in the past. I became personally aware when I was inspired to research Pope Sixtus and the extent to which his savagery on the show may or may not have been reflected in how he ruled in the history books. My research brought me to the Pazzi Conspiracy and I was astounded at the accuracy the show was in trying to hold true to the bullet points of that conflict. Unfortunately, I conducted this research prior to watching "The Hierophant" which actually spoiled some of the episode for me and I am fearful for how much of the plot moving forward I may have inadvertently ruined as well. So if you don’t happen to be a history buff and still want to be surprised by this show, do NOT research key words like: Renaissance Florence, Medici, Sixtus or Pazzi. Do it after the first season ends. Perhaps invigorating the viewer’s interest in actual history is the greatest compliment that can be paid to any period piece?
Who is the mysteriously masked, red rider?
The final episode of this initial season of Da Vinci’s Demons is coming up and the table has been set for suspense, intrigue and wonder. The only thing that "The Lovers" needs to do is match the energy, pacing and relevance of this episode. It is a natural tendency for the filmmaker to constantly up the ante, push the envelope, raise the stakes and so on and so forth, but doing so without discipline would be a sure fire way to end the season on a sour note. Goyer needs to hammer home nagging concerns for Da Vinci before properly sending him off on a brand new quest against new forms of opposition, circumstances, handicaps, etc. "The Hierophant" set up all the pins perfectly and it is left to "The Lovers" to knock them all down.