While trying to sketch Lucrezia, Leonardo can’t get his mind off the statue of Lorenzo’s that contains the two keys. When she asks what about it has him so perplexed, he responds that the statue was like her – a puzzle that he will stop at nothing to figure out. Da Vinci will also have to figure out how to wriggle free from the Pope’s enclosing hands, as Sixtus has made clear that he wants Leonardo to help him decorate a chapel he deems “a grand palace of the Lord” with frescos and the like. To get the artist on his side, though, he has to effectively destroy the Medicis and sacrifice Florence for the good of Rome, which he seems perfectly okay in doing.
The Holy Father sends Riario and a group of men to the alum mines in Florence, given to the Medicis by Pope Pius II to square away papal debt. The mine is a major source of Florentine wealth, as well, since the mineral is used to produce dye that can be found in much of the clothing produced in Italy. Riario ends up killing all but one of the workers, who he sends a message to the Medicis by. This action, the slaying of workers and taking of the mine, has three key functions: it took something back that was Rome’s, it put a damper in the considerably Medici income, and it sent a message to Lorenzo that Rome is not one to be messed with.
This causes Lorenzo to become even more paranoid about the security of Florence and thus, he brings Leonardo with him to the negotiations with Riario. After both sides exchange insults, the count enumerates his demands: 1) to see Florence embrace Saviatti; 2) for Florence to forgive papal debt, and 3) to have Da Vinci come, along with two other artists, and work for the Holy Father. Da Vinci immediately recoils at the thought, but Riario uses his knowledge of how many weapons they have to threaten the war engineer and, subsequently, the whole of Florence. Before leaving, he gives them 24 hours to fill the demands or else.
Later, Leonardo sketches pomegranates with Nico and Clarice interrupts to inform him of lost drawings she found in her home, drawings of the statue he’s so entranced by. She tells him that Lorenzo inherited it from his grandfather Cossimo and gives it to him as a treat for indulging her. The statue does strange things to Leonardo, though, including giving him perspective on the cycle of violence that he’s helping to perpetuate. There will always be a need for a bigger cannon or a method of producing more weapons in a quicker period of time, the latter of which he can’t stand, and he ends up throwing a fistful of gun powder into the cauldron in a fit of rebellion. It causes a huge explosion and destroys quite a few guns, putting Florence even more behind the 8-ball in their conflict with Rome than they already were.
Word gets around what Leonardo did and the inventor has a confrontation with Captain Dragonetti at a town bar, with swords being drawn and Vanessa playing the role of mediator. He goes back to his shop and has a series of opium-fueled hallucinations before Lucrezia visits; the two end up having sex on his bed, Lucrezia taking control in a way that she doesn’t get to do with Lorenzo. But what rationale does Leonardo give her for destroying the guns? In a talk with Riario, Lorenzo called him an inventor and he doesn’t feel like what he’s doing right now is invention. It’s escalation and it’s not what he thought he was signing up for when he agreed to work with Lorenzo.
Speaking of the Medici, he barges into the shop the following morning and berates Leonardo for his sabotage, lamenting that he’ll now have to offer himself as Riario’s hostage and pray for the safety of his family. He does something that helps Leonardo, though, by throwing one of the pomegranates against the ground and sending its seeds flying. At the second negotiation with Riario, Leonardo interrupts the proceedings to show off a new weapon he calls a bombard, a sphere loaded with shrapnel that will explode outward once its fuse is lit and and burns out. He claims that the bombard is only as good as one’s ability to lob it and demonstrates its power by loading one into a crossbow, shooting it into the sky, and having it explode. Leonardo then goes on to tell Riario that his weapons, of which he has a cart full of, will reign flame and destruction down on the Roman soldiers and that citizens of Florence will be picking bone fragments out of the ground for decades. Rome’s accomplishments will fade and the victory of Florence will be lionized.
Riario responds by knowingly quoting the Turk, although he ultimately retreats. It turns out that Leonardo was bluffing the entire time and couldn’t have dispatched the remaining bombards if he wanted to. Lorenzo admonishes him with the fact that they can’t bluff Rome forever; however, given his performance this day, the Florentine leader holds a party in the artist’s honor that evening. While Leonardo is getting ready, he finally decodes the painting of Cossimo (titled “The Magician”) that Clarice showed him earlier in the day. Going off of the conversation he had with Lucrezia about painting being about perspective and symbolism, he picks apart the painting in the Medici hall and discovers that Cossimo was a member of the Sons of Mithras. He then decides that it’s time for Lorenzo to repay him for all that he’s done and sets his mind to having an expedition to the land where the Book of Leaves resides paid for by Medici.
At the celebration, Lorenzo pronounces Leonardo as the living embodiment of classical brilliance and appoints him to the Order of John the Baptist. The revolutionary starts to suggest an expedition to the unknown western land found in the book the Jew stole, only to be cut off by Captain Dragonetti bursting into the hall with several men alongside. There has been a secret denunciation and Leonardo has been charged with sodomy, which he is arrested for and led away to custody.
Oh My God, Bechhi
Giuliano is still trying to convince Lorenzo that he made the wrong move in imprisoning Bechhi and believing that he would spy for Rome, to no avail. In fact, Lorenzo summons his inner circle (including Leonardo from the weapons works) where he preens over Bechhi awaiting his fate on the wheel, reaffirms Florence’s position as a mecca for innovation and artistry, and informs his team of Riario’s act of war. After ordering the man who broke the seal on Riario’s statement, which mentions Rome’s vast army and his desire to occupy Florence, into custody, Lorenzo reminds those closest to them that their primary responsibility is to uphold the Medici legacy.
The man who allegedly spread word of Riario’s plan is quickly execute in the middle of town, to the horror of Lucrezia and the entertainment of the rest of Florence. He’s tied to a contraption and struck with a spiked weapon to the face, stomach, and groin, spraying blood freely and putting on a spectacle that sends quite a message. Meanwhile, Bechhi is still imprisoned and growing more hopeless, even with a visit from Giuliano. The Medici mentor mentions that if he were the spy, he would have spent his money by now (which he hasn’t, as he’s drowning in debt) and that he hasn’t defended himself against the accusations because Lorenzo isn’t exactly ready to listen to anyone right now, so it’d be no use. Before Giuliano leaves, Bechhi encourages him to look after his brother and to know that people underestimate what he’s capable of.
Giuliano immediately gets to work trying to clear Bechhi’s name, enlisting Clarice Orsini to advocate to Lorenzo about him and going to Lucrezia about the same thing. She seems to agree, only to go to confession and tell a priest that her untruth has caused someone to greatly suffer. Later, a figure in a black hooded costume enters the place where Bechhi is being held, knocking the guard unconscious and entering the cell. It turns out to be Lucrezia and Bechhi realizes that she was the one who planted the book on his shelf and put him in this position to begin with. She tells him that she’s been owned by Rome for a few years and the reasoning for her allegiance goes beyond what she can tell him; then, she kills him with a weapon from the Vatican archives, so as to not leave evidence that could lead back to her. Bechhi’s death, the most painless she could offer, is a result of Lucrezia not wanting to see him broken on a wheel. She plants a vial of poison in his hand before slipping out of the room, leaving him for Lorenzo and Giuliano to find.
Lorenzo accuses his brother of being the one to slip Bechhi the poison, considering their past conversations on the matter, but for now, the two seem to put it behind them. How long will it be, though, until Lorenzo brings it back up and launches a formal investigation into who left the poison?
Additional thoughts and observations:
-“I think I have a cat in my bed. Would you like to kick that, too?”
-“I’d rather have my testicles gnawed off by conga eels.”
-“I don’t believe in any god that would side with that pig’s bladder.”
-We got a bit of background on Leonardo this week, as Verrochio tells a group of interested men about a time when 14-year-old Da Vinci worked alongside his father in the shop, made a shield that could fetch 400 total ducats, and was sold to his mentor for a 50 ducat finders fee.
-Sorcerers and Sodomites is the name of my new punk band. Get into it.
-Apparently none of the alum mine workers are up on their Biblical knowledge. Or, y’know, they were freaked out by the swords all around them and understandably couldn’t remember anything.
-I appreciate an episode where little people entertainment is way down the list on crazy things that happened.
-Speaking of crazy things, there was a very scientific joke about anal blockage that I may or may not have giggled at.
-The blood from the execution was very early Spartacus, no?
-Here are some facts about the fall of Constantinople, for those interested. Also, a song!
-One of my favorite images of the series thus far was the black horse running through town, spraying fliers from Riario that told Florentines that the Medicis were leading them to their death.
-At this point, I think that Lucrezia is my favorite character. She can make an explicit sex scene poignant and telling, her beauty is ridiculous, and she’s apparently a ninja. Of course, there’s the whole complicated psychology of her character that I like and how she brings far and away the most tension to the show, but ninja!
-Here’s the myth of Hades and Persephone that Leonardo mentioned to Lucrezia, including the bit about the pomegranates.
-Riario’s “reading glasses” made me laugh and laugh and laugh, if only because they reminded me of a certain Drag Racer.
-Next week on Da Vinci’s Demons: Lorenzo demands that Leonardo’s father defend him in court, while the Turk makes an appearance at the workshop.