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'Da Vinci's Demons' recap: Brains, babes and a king's chamber of horrors

Season 2 | Episode 205 | “The Sun and the Moon” | Aired Apr 19, 2014

Leonardo da Vinci’s eyes drink in the lush, strange shore before him as his party approaches on a longboat. The light is different, he notes. The colors here are bright, clear, bold — tropical. Zoroaster observes the Basilisk‘s wreckage: “Count Riario didn’t pray to his God hard enough.” All thoughts are on Nico: Have they lost him? Well, most thoughts. Leonardo’s thoughts, as ever, leap from one topic to another. (Actor Tom Riley’s face works as the canvas when it comes to summoning Leo’s inner life for public display.) Amerigo informs the party that he’ll be staying on the ship to chart the shores. Leo makes him promise to return in three months. Amerigo threatens to name this New World after himself: “Vespuccia!”

Corpses in various stages of decomposition hang from Naples’ city walls. Observing the skeletal horror show from inside a jail cell, Piero pines for happier visits to the city. How did they get here? Well, a helpful guard will provide us with some exposition: They were discovered outside the city burying two bodies (the priest and his henchman) and a chest of gold. Lorenzo makes up a story about being Milanese, provides some names, and bribes the guard with a gold piece to inform the duchess that they are in the city on urgent business. His manner suggests that the duchess will recognize these pseudonyms (she later reveals that they come from the Roman poet Virgil’s writings).

Vanessa dislikes her confinement, so Verrocchio shows her some of the Medici Palace secrets to amuse her.

Clarice has clearly taken charge of palace affairs. Unfortunately, Medici Bank General Manager Francesco Sassetti (John Hollingworth) didn’t get the memo and refuses to allow her to withdraw funds to increase the palace’s security staff. When she tries to fire him for his insolence, Tommaso Portinari (Darren Clarke) reminds her that a majority of the bank’s board must approve executive hiring and firing. Sassetti tells her that since Lorenzo withdrew an enormous amount of money when he ran off to the city of his first love, Ippolita Sforza (Jeany Spark), the Duchess of Calabria, the bank is right to be concerned about allowing Clarice to withdraw money.

Leonardo enjoys the vibrant colors of the rainforest, while Zoroaster complains about the bugs. The sailors get twitchy fingers when they encounter idols inlaid with solid gold, and Leo is nearly fast enough to keep them from desecrating them, but a native has seen them and becomes irate. Leonardo tries speaking slowly in English (what would be Italian), which, of course, does not help relations with the Quechua-speaking painted native. To make matters worse, the sailors draw their swords and send the guy skittering off. Leonardo tells them that now that they’ve antagonized a member of the tribe, they’re likely in for a fight.

Da Vinci's Demons: season 2, episode 205 Ippolita, Lorenzo (Starz)Back in the jail cells of Naples, Ippolita visits Lorenzo. She reminds him of their days reading poetry and making love to each other. She swears that she has tried to stop Naples’ military advances against Florence. Then her husband, Duke Alfonso, shows up. Tightly wound and surely lethal, Alfonso does not appreciate this scene — perhaps he’s still smarting from being overthrown by slaves and Lorenzo’s war-machine designer, Leonardo. Sure, he’ll bring Lorenzo to see his father, King Ferrante (Matthew Marsh) — no problem.

In her private chambers, frazzled Clarice guzzles down a sleep aid. Carlo de’ Medici surprises her and gets a knife pointed at him in response. He wants to help her with her banker problem. She just has to appoint him to the board, and he promises to vote with her every time. He very clearly would like to offer her additional “services,” but she declines.

Leonardo and his companions run across a bridge. “We’re on the right path!” Leo declares, marveling at the primitive engineering. Investigating a disturbance in the forest, they run directly into an ambush. Leonardo tries to bond with their captors over how the etchings in his key-medallion match their painted chests, and gets knocked out for his effort.

Turns out Carlo is in league with bankers Sassetti and Portinari, and part of a plan to jettison Clarice from the board. Or so it appears — you just never know with this exotic Carlo fellow. He may be operating as a double agent. If he is, he’d better tell Clarice soon, because Vanessa overhears the bankers discussing his role in their coup and will, inevitably, tell Clarice.

Leonardo tries to figure out the native tongue. Zoroaster thinks they’re going to be killed and eaten. Nah, Leo says. He then considers some of what he’s heard — OK, maybe.

Da Vinci's Demons: season 2, episode 205 Piero, Lorenzo (Starz)Piero and Lorenzo enjoy a meal with the duke and duchess. Alfonso asks why Lorenzo brought a relic like Piero with him instead of a soldier. Lorenzo defends Signor da Vinci, his personal notary and a trusted counselor. “Da Vinci?” Alfonso asks. “Kin to Leonardo?” The very one. Sodomite, says Alfonso. Now he’s getting on Lorenzo’s nerves. Wouldn’t this be a good time for the king to join us, notes Piero, attempting to change the subject. As it happens, Alfonso has dosed their wine with something that knocks them out just as King Ferrante arrives.

Sure enough, Clarice is wine-throwing mad about the plot to unseat her from the board. Vanessa stands back with Verrocchio, who implores Clarice to keep her head; forewarned is forearmed and all that. Vanessa thinks that Carlo can be trusted, however — he was his father’s favorite, after all.

Da Vinci's Demons: season 2, episode 205 Ima, Leonardo (Starz)Zoroaster breaks free from the pole binding him to Leonardo as they march up the mountain. Zo has no interest in being food for cannibals. He knocks one of their guards off the cliff, but the others quickly subdue Zo and Leonardo. Zo looks up and sees a beautiful female native and offers to surrender to her completely. The march continues, and their destination, a stone town carved into the mountains, comes into view. Corn — that’s new. More sultry “savages” join them until they appear before one who is obviously the sultry-savage leader. She glides over to Leonardo and takes his key-medallion necklace.

In Florence, the board unanimously votes Carlo into the vacant seat. That done, Sassetti announces that King Ferdinand of Spain will default on his loans unless Clarice is removed as head of the bank. He calls for a vote. Carlo not only votes with Clarice, but he uses Portinari’s own correspondence to prove that Portinari bribed the King with favorable interest rates. Clarice calls it treason and has Portinari removed by the guards. Carlo recommends that they reduce the size of the board unless the board members who voted against Clarice agree to lower salaries. Excellent notion, Signor.

Lorenzo wakes in Ferrante’s house of horrors. The king disembowels a corpse hanging from the ceiling, as he explains that Florence is a disease to be excised from the Italian body. Lorenzo pleads with him to see how an alliance with Florence — Shut up, Lorenzo. Ferrante doesn’t care.

Da Vinci's Demons: season 2, episode 205 Ima (Starz)Leo and the gang have been invited to a party. The sultry-savage leader consults with the gold-encrusted priest, as warriors place a large stick with a sharp edge, a chalice of water and a bowl of corn kernels in front of Leo’s kneeling group. The crowd chants. Warriors pull one of the sailors forward, and he deduces that he must choose one of the items. To show that he considers himself aligned with their warriors, the sailor opts for the stick, with which the attending warrior brains him.

Clarice tells Carlo how grateful she is that he kept his word. Before he goes, he reminds her that some people in her life have not honored their vows and also that he “awaits her pleasure.”

Ferrante shows Lorenzo his meat locker, or “black museum,” with mummified corpses draped from the ceiling. It’s all his original work. A delight, no? He looks forward to offering Lorenzo a chance to earn a seat at his table or in this death chamber.

The choices continue in the New World native gathering. A second sailor chooses the chalice and gets a knife through the throat. Leonardo works desperately to figure out the riddle in this ritual. And finally — just in time to save Zoroaster — Leo steps up, hoes the ground with the sharp stick, scatters the kernels in the furrows and waters them. “Kalsai,” he says. Choose “life.” (So this could have been solved all along by a 1984 Wham! T-shirt slogan?) The sultry leader leans in and whispers “Leonardo da Vinci” in his ear. “She knows my name. She knows my name!” Leo marvels.

He and Zoroaster are led away to a holding pen that also happens to hold Nico, and there’s a joyous reunion of the friends. Until Count Riario steps forward. Zoroaster lays into him, busting his lip, but Nico pulls Zo back. It’s all God’s plan, you see: sparing Riario, Zita and Nico in the shipwreck, and then bringing Leonardo and Zo to them. The Book of Leaves will be theirs. Then the sultry leader comes in: “The Book of Leaves will save us all.” She speaks their language! Ima Kama (Carolina Guerra), high priestess of the Children of the Sun, will answer all questions, but only to Leo. She claims to have seen his face before.

Ippolita brings food to Lorenzo, while miles away, Clarice takes Carlo up on his offer to await her pleasure. Carlo sees Vanessa seeing them.

Ima shows Leo some cave paintings that include likenesses of the Abyssinian and — a stunning revelation that brings Leo near tears — Leonardo’s mother Caterina, who taught Ima their language and, with the Book of Leaves, saved her life. “It’s real!” Leo exclaims, relieved.

The promise of more mysteries to be solved comes in images of a waterfall, a deep cave, a hidden chamber, an icon etched in stone, and golden light glinting off a swirling liquid surface.

Leonardo’s adventures have become quite the rich tapestry. Overwhelmed? I’m still taking bets on whether the book is literally a book. Tell us your theories in the comments!

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

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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