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'Da Vinci's Demons' recap: Vespucci? I hardly knew ye!

Season 2 | Episode 202 | “The Blood of Brothers” | Aired Mar 29, 2014

Comic book hero-version Leonardo Da Vinci’s first order of business is to break the news to befuddled and convincingly homicidal Lorenzo Medici that his brother is dead. But Lorenzo is sitting on his chest waving a knife around. Vanessa steps up to do the deed. He fought bravely, she says, but was slain. Lorenzo tumbles off of Leonardo, grasping at the artisan workbench to ease his fall. He wants to go home, but there’s an angry mob outside, the Pazzis’ support grows stronger and the Duke of Urbino’s forces are at the gate. The mob slays aristocrats, shopkeepers, dogcatchers — anyone in a position of authority. Lorenzo is ready to give in, but Vanessa divulges that she’s having his brother’s child. Enough said. Back to the palace!

Zoroaster and Lucrezia are alive. Huzzah! He makes lewd passes at her while they bob in the ocean. Not the time, dude.Da Vinci's Demons s2, ep 202: Nico (Starz)

Meanwhile, Riario is making passes at Nico, who is caged on the Basilisk, trying to lure his loyalty away from Leonardo. Nico is understandably skeptical.

The angry mob, led by Francesco and Jacopo, burn Lorenzo in effigy. “Infernal Pazzis,” Andrea swears to Leonardo on a rooftop looking down on the riot. Leonardo’s brain wheels turn. He’s inventing something as we watch!

Clarice chats about family ties with Captain Dragonetti. Bank representatives arrive to warn of a multinational bank collapse if Lorenzo is dead. They’ve got just the thing: Name one of them interim head of the bank to stabilize its reputation. Clarice: I think not. Dragonetti escorts them out.

Lorenzo and Leonardo skulk about the streets of Florence in caped disguises. Leonardo brings him up to the church bell tower and shows him some strategically placed brass panels, intended to reflect and amplify sound. Leonardo argues that Lorenzo needs to make a speech to prove that he’s alive. Lorenzo delivers a rousing of-the-people-by-the-people-for-the-people speech that crucifies the Pazzis. The crowd cheers, Clarice sends Dragonetti out to apprehend the Pazzi scum, Lorenzo takes a hero’s stroll, the angry mob sheaths a few knives in Jacopo’s belly, Dragonetti corners Francesco and another unfortunate conspirator gets axed in the face. Lorenzo then makes quite a public show in praising his wife’s courage.

His Holiness and the Duke of Urbino receive the Neapolitans: King Ferrante of Naples and his son, Alfonso, the Duke of Calabria, known for their ferocity (“the first line of defense against the Ottomans,” they boast). The Pope wants an alliance with the Neapolitans to bring Florence, and Lorenzo Medici and his war engineer Leonardo especially, to heel. Done.

Lorenzo summons Leonardo to discuss building more weapons, but Leo thinks he can end all wars if he finds the Book of Leaves. Lorenzo calls it all bedtime stories. Leonardo busts out what he thinks are the big guns: drawings of symbols of the Sons of Mithras, an “ancient brotherhood committed to humanism,” he explains, and Lorenzo’s grandfather Cosimo was a member. Leonardo asks for money and a ship to continue his pursuit of the book. Lorenzo shakes his head. Florence needs a war machine to defend itself. Fare thee well, Leonardo.

Not faring so well is Clarice’s brother — dirty, shackled and blubbering in the Medici cells. After divulging the future history of the Pazzi family to Francesco — “future generations will only remember that the meaning of the word ‘Pazzi’ is madmen” — she gives her brother his cardinal robes. Best line of the episode goes to Clarice: “You will put on those robes, and we will dangle you from the gibbet in your Sunday best.”

The adventures of Zoroaster and Lucrezia could be its own show with him the fool and her the straight woman. In this moment, they’re stealing clothes to travel back to Florence in disguise and generally being quite clever.

Da Vinci's Demons s2, ep 202: Riario (Starz)Back on the Basilisk, Riario is poring over the map-sketched skin. Did I not mention that one of Leonardo’s trinkets was a map tattooed on human flesh? Zita stops by to lend a hand…and a mouth…and a breast…Riario is all “I couldn’t possibly,” but naked Zita says (to paraphrase a long story about the Queen of Sheba), “Just go with it.” He does.

Leonardo puzzles over the sins of Daedalus, the craftsman in Greek mythology who creates the labyrinth that imprisons the Minotaur, builds wings to escape King Minos’ tower and is the father of Icarus, who flies too close to the sun. Andrea tells him to stop obsessing over a dream, but Leo just can’t let a thing go. Then Zoroaster shows up and all make merry — well, Zoroaster makes merry. Leonardo is more, “WTF?” about Zoroaster’s arrival, and he absolutely loses his mind when he finds out Riario has absconded with Nico and the Basilisk. Leonardo now has no ship, no blond sidekick, no Abyssinian skin-map, no nifty astrolabe star-navigation thingy. Zoroaster reminds the room that Leo can reproduce the map from memory, and he has a solution for the transportation problem, but Leonardo must promise to accept the help graciously. Lucrezia walks in. Zoroaster and Andrea exit stage left.

Lucrezia recommends: Amerigo Vespucci! You know, the guy they named a little land mass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans after. He’s a sailor, a trader, has a map fetish. Leonardo and Lucrezia then tearfully express their mutual and ongoing admiration and regret that they must part.

Lorenzo hangs Pazzi and Cardinal Orsini. Done and done. Time for a sandwich…

Zoroaster thinks Amerigo is slimy and argues with Leonardo about their current circumstances. Zoroaster says he’s done after they retrieve Nico. Leonardo does that thing with his face like someone’s slapped him with a kitten.

Time to meet Amerigo, who’s not the lout Zoroaster made him out to be, but extremely jovial and resourceful. He and Leonardo get on like a house on fire, while Zo sulks off to the side. Amerigo wants to steal a Vatican ship — hilarious!

Clarice summons Vanessa and adopts her into the Medici home — for now. Dismay splays across free-spirited Vanessa’s face. Crap, she thinks. Da Vinci's Demons s2, ep 202: Vanessa  (Starz)Now I’m screwed twice over! — realizing that being pregnant with a Medici, even if half the household doesn’t believe it is a Medici, is going to be a kind of prison. Leonardo’s father, Piero, who’s not so great with bastards, will oversee her care. The first thing he does is banish Leonardo and Zoroaster from her company.

Lorenzo works on his eulogy for Giuliano. In his mourning, he studies a family heirloom, a sword, and notes some of the same symbols that Leonardo had been geeking out over earlier. He calls for Leo one last time, twists a knob on the sword and divides it in two. It was designed, he says, to be shared by brothers. He gives Leo half to assist him on his quest, but makes him promise to return to Florence.Da Vinci's Demons s2, ep 202: Leonardo, Lorenzo(Starz)

Initially concerned about Amerigo being introduced to the story, I now feel the character is an excellent addition with credit due to actor Lee Boardman for his animated portrayal of this historical (now “hysterical”) figure. Who’s your favorite so far? Tell us in the comments.

New episodes of Da Vinci’s Demons air Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz; rated TV-MA