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Image Credit: David Appleby/Starz

'Da Vinci’s Demons' recap: Price of admission? Sex or death

Season 2 | Episode 206 | “The Rope of the Dead” | Aired Apr 26, 2014

Dressed in feathers and glittering gold, an outfit straight out of the Vault of Ziggy Stardust, Ima leads Leonardo into her love dungeon — I mean, the entryway to the Vault of Heaven. (Same difference.) “My dreamer,” she says, “Soon you will enter the Vault of Heaven.” Indeed. And then she proposes something like marriage to him. Ah, the Vault of Heaven doesn’t open for just any dilettantes and scoundrels — only this one, and only if he’s willing to bind himself to her forever. Topa busts in with his Incan thugs and lays into Ima. Turns out he doesn’t think Leo will survive the trials. Wait — trials? Survive? Who knew reading a book could be so treacherous? (That monk in The Name of the Rose, for one.) Leo asks why his mama didn’t take the book when she left. (Did she have to marry Ima, too? This New World is crazy!) Ima clarifies: “I never said she left.”

Meanwhile, Zoroaster advances on sleeping Riario with murder on his mind and his mind on his murder (unsuccessful though it may have been). This leather strap would look fetching wrenching the life out of the sadistic bastard. Zita presses pause: “You will never understand him.” Zo: “There, we agree.”

Speaking of sadists, Duke Alfonso lashes bloodied and panting Lorenzo with a whip back in Naples. (Compliments to your trainer, Mr. Cowan.) Alfonso wants to know how Lorenzo won the Duchess back in the day — he wants details. But Lorenzo is a gentleman who doesn’t kiss and tell: “With my tongue.” Correction: Lorenzo is in for a world of hurt. Alfonso delivers.

The sun rises on a new day for Leonardo and Riario. Time to start the trials. Ima gives Leo a hair pin as part of the ceremony, forcing Leo to give the only thing he has: the ring Lucrezia bestowed upon him. If this is the price for entry into the Vault, so be it. Just one more thing: One of Leo’s companions must “spill blood” — it’s their choice whether it is their own or someone else’s. Ima points to Riario, saying that he seems like the man for the job. Zo should perhaps not be so quick to agree, since the decision of whose blood gets spilled is still up to Riario. Zita steps up to do the blood spilling, but Riario won’t have it. He’s going to let Jesus take the wheel.

Naples. Lorenzo hits the floor. Giuliano’s back! As a rotting corpse-ghost, but who are we to complain? We missed you, Giuliano. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have many encouraging words for his brother. He’s more like grumpy Muppets Statler and Waldorf, cracking wise and otherwise being rather disagreeable for a ghost visiting his brother on death row. When Ippolita arrives, she tells Lorenzo that in order to win King Ferrante’s “game,” he has to keep from being hanged when the noose around his neck is attached to a wild horse. She advises him that he has three options: die, kill the horse with the one arrow he is given, or kill King Ferrante with the arrow, which will make her queen, and she’ll end the war. Good luck with that.

Ima tells Leonardo that he has to pay dues to Viracocha, the creator, by offering his flesh to the animals that attend the god. Just stick your hand in the statue’s mouth with these poisonous snakes and — yipes, that smarts. Riario’s turn. He must defeat three predators in a cornfield, as well as one final guardian in order to get the antidote, or else Leonardo dies and no Vault of Heaven for you!

Lucrezia rides toward Constantinople with Quon, stopping to question her father’s character with a tremulous voice. Quon makes a great point: Just because her father is hated by an evil man, does that make him a good one? Lucrezia worries that, after so many years of not seeing her, her father’s only concern when they met seemed to be for his plots. Then Quon falls off his horse. Al-Rahim rides up. Apologies for drugging your travel companion. I’m a friend of Leonardo’s, and I’m here to help. Lucrezia: Erm, sure?

Leonardo awakens in the Vault of Heaven foyer with a start, stumbling and sweating. Ima informs him that he’s dying and gives him zombie juice that will allow him to walk among the dead. But first, they have to have sex. (What did I tell you?) Leonardo: OK, let me get my shirt off while deadly poison courses through my veins. About that: Won’t this “our bodies must become one” business just send the poison racing faster to his heart and brain? I’m no doctor, but I’m not encouraged by this plan. Ima strips down to her merkin and mounts our poisoned, drug-addled hero. (Is he really able to consent to this?) That took less time than one would imagine for a poisoned, drug-addled hero. Ima then sends him off into the underworld for his undead summit with his dearly departed. Cue: skeleton jig.

Hello, Riario — painted, panting, bare-chested — in other words, looking delicious. I mean that in the most respectful way, of course. What was I saying? Oh, yes, Da Vinci’s Demons recap. The series plays dirty this week by throwing so many beautiful-people distractions at us. Not fair!

Dumped in the cornfield, Riario hears voices. My guess? Predator 1: human. Predator 2: animal. Predator 3: the Predator! I kid. After Riario kills the first predator, an Incan warrior, with a wicked incisor to what appears to be the femoral artery, repeated cane-stalk stabbings to the upper back and finally a snapped neck, he grabs a knife to prepare for the next encounter.

Leo awakens in the Chamber of Secrets with Ima as his guide. She warns him not to go wandering off. Giuliano gets around this episode, now meeting up with Leonardo to pose a riddle that will allow him to proceed.

Al-Rahim pulls off an enviable eyeliner look as he arranges for Lucrezia to have a chat with her dead sister.

Also having a chat with a dead person, Lorenzo has this episode’s best line while speaking to his dead brother. Ghost Giuliano: “Let’s talk about you surviving this thing.” Lorenzo: “Clearly, survival wasn’t your area of expertise.” Giuliano tries to goad Lorenzo into a rage that he assures his brother will save his life.

Riario camouflages himself in dirt — I was joking about the Predator — reaching up like a rabid weed to jab his knife into an ankle. He takes off after bashing in a skull.

On his journey, Leonardo meets the skin-map Abyssinian and his own “Mona Lisa.” He also learns the year and place of his death, thanks to the helpful Louvre museum information panel. Nice work, Louvre, traumatizing Leonardo da Vinci in his Spirit Walk. After a long talk about talking too long, Leo moves on. Next stop: elderly, deathbed Leonardo. Gah! “You’re me!”

Riario faces the biggest Incan yet, stabs him in both the eyes and the neck (carotid artery) and yells incomprehensible war cries and variations on the f-bomb, then — OK, this is officially a Predator homage — stands hulking in the pouring rain and lets loose a primal scream. Sweet. Riario just scored epic international nerd points with his ode to alien-busting commando Dutch.

Deathbed Leo urges his younger self to protect the Book of Leaves, and tells him he must not allow it to fall into the hands of the enemies of man, the Labyrinth. Young Leo has stayed to long — he must go. Don’t end up in chains, young Leo! But get the hell out. Go! Young Leo collapses.

Twitchy King Ferrante introduces the Game of Thrace, in which he tests friends and adversaries alike for the honor of his presence … in the name of God. Ghost Giuliano is looking particularly wan. The first contestant is decapitated while trying to shoot an arrow at the king. So much for that plan.

Da Vinci's Demons: Al-Rahim, Lucrezia, Quon (Starz)Al-Rahim schools Lucrezia as they approach Constantinople: The new ruler will call it “Istanbul,” and it will be awesome. He gives her cryptic instructions to prevent some man he won’t currently name who will serve the Labyrinth from using the Book of Leaves for death. Lucrezia has a few questions: Who? What? Where? When? But he won’t say any more. Then Al-Rahim rides off toward Constantinople. I like to think he’s off to indulge in some vices because, man, does that guy need to lighten up.

LDa Vinci's Demons: Lorenzo's only shot (Starz)orenzo takes the block next. Giuliano finally hits a nerve: Lorenzo hates his brother for dying. There’s the rage. Bull’s-eye. The horse goes down, Lorenzo removes the noose, Alfonso grits his teeth, Ferrante continues twitching and Piero has to change his pants.

Riario hacks his way through the cornfield, then runs and ascends the pyramid stairs, only to find that the last predator he must face is himself; they’ve put Zita out as the last sacrifice. He must kill her in order to claim the antidote for Leonardo. Decisions, decisions.

Leonardo fights his way back through the spirit hordes … Zita forces Riario’s knife into her belly … Zita appears in Leonardo’s spirit realm, pulling him free. “Tell him I forgive him” … Leonardo staggers as Ima implores him, “Run!” … He wakes and Ima administers the antidote. Whew.

Riario declares that he and Leonardo aren’t friends. Obviously! There’s a major battle of the abs going on between this shirtless duo. Riario killed Zita to save Leo. Leo knows. “She forgives you,” he says, which elicits a smack from Riario, who warns him that if they leave without the Book of Leaves, he will kill Leonardo himself. Obviously.

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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