Da Vinci's Demons 1.08 "The Lovers" review

TV REVIEW Don't trust the Pazzis!

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Da Vinci's Demons 1.08 "The Lovers" TV REVIEW

Episode 1.08

Writers: Brian Nelson, Corey Reed, David S Goyer
Director: Michael J Bassett

THE ONE WHERE Leonardo makes arrangements to sail west to find the Book of Leaves and makes a bold proposition to Lorenzo, while Giuliano has a pretty good excuse for being late for his wedding to a Pazzi.

VERDICT Okay, it looks like we jumped the gun a bit last week when we suggested that Giuliano had been killed by Lucrezia – he was actually just very badly hurt and subsequently had the good fortune to be fished out of the river by a kindly chap in the country. Still, it only put off the inevitable by a week, as he was cruelly stabbed to death by a pair of angry clergy as part of the Pazzi's conspiracy to overthrow the Medicis. And frankly, we were sad to see Giuliano go all over again, because as the season's gone on he's become one of our favourite characters – and his doomed romance with the now-pregnant Vanessa was rather sweet.

Elsewhere, this episode is something of a slow-burner until a cracking final showdown in the spectacular Duomo cathedral (another triumph of a set from production design maestro Edward Thomas). Before things come to a head it's all about the revelations, whether it's the identity of Lucrezia's incarcerated dad (imprisoned by his twin brother Pope Sixtus), the relationship between Riario and Lucrezia (they're cousins!) and the shifting loyalties of chief policeman Captain Dragonetti – it's a wonderful twist when the previously anti-Medici lawman comes to Giuliano's aid on the road.

Did anyone believe for a moment that Da Vinci really was going to leave town? This would be a dull show if it spent months on a boat, away from the political machinations of Florence, so we're glad he has (seemingly) missed his ride in favour of running to the Medici's aid. Leonardo shares some great talky scenes this episode, both with Lorenzo (asking Florence's ruler for Lucrezia as "payment" for his work is quite a bold move), and Lucrezia, who, despite her betrayals, he ultimately seems moved to forgive. Love runs deep.

Indeed, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a handle on her motives – particularly now she's acted to save the lives of Clarice and the Medici daughters in the midst of the Duomo bloodbath. Speaking of which, we'd suspected that the Pazzi Conspiracy was going to come into play (those clandestine meetings led by a Pazzi were a bit of a giveaway) and it didn't disappoint. Some exhilarating swordfighting topped off by Francesco Pazzi taking great relish in being nasty – he's like a grown up Joffrey Baratheon with his "can we kill them now?"refrain. Great stuff.

With Lorenzo still alive, however, Francesco's chances of a long life don't look particularly high going into season two. Still, we'd probably rather be in his shoes than Leonardo's now that Lorenzo knows da Vinci has been getting it on with Lucrezia. But how long will Lucrezia's betrayal remain a secret from her other lover.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT We're struggling to remember the last time we saw a TV season end on such an old-school cliffhanger – it's almost like something out of vintage Doctor Who , and stops just short of a cheesy "Will Leonardo and Lorenzo make it out alive?" voiceover. (We have the feeling they will.)

WEAPON OF CHOICE Turns out Da Vinci isn't the only one who can build devastating instruments of war – Riario's missile launcher looks like a pretty useful piece of kit. The more we see of Riario and his brain, the more we suspect he may have some connection with the Sons of Mithras.

SPECULATION We know know that three of the Sons of Mithras who appear on the clifftop with the Turk (the Jew, the Abyssinan, Cosimo de Medici) are now dead. Their prophecy suggests that the last remaining member of their group will die an unpleasant death – is time running out for the Turk and all his riddle-me-this mumbo jumbo?

Also, who's the hooded figure standing silently beside them? From their build, we're guessing they might be female – could it be Leonardo's mother?

FAMILY TIES Well, we never suspected that the game-playing prisoner/Lucrezia's dad would be Pope Sixtus's identical twin – James Faulkner's done a very good job of disguising his voice! Far more intriguing, however, is the fact that this makes Count Riario and Lucrezia cousins – nice to see Riario doesn't give family preferential treatment when deciding who should live or die.

NITPICK Pope Sixtus and Lucrezia didn't appear to have met before when she first travelled to Rome with news of Florence in episode one – which seems odd now that we know she's his niece.

DA VINCI VISION Leonardo would never need to buy one of those stargazing smartphone apps – he's got an in-built planetarium. Sir Patrick Moore would have been jealous.

MAKING HISTORY The Pazzi Conspiracy did indeed assault the Medici brothers in the Duomo on 26 April 1478, killing Giuliano and wounding Lorenzo. However, we can't find any record of Pope Sixtus IV having a twin brother, or of his being related to Lucrezia Donati – we have a feeling this might be dramatic licence on the part of the show.

Interestingly, the real-life Giuliano had an illegitimate son who went on to become a Pope. Could this be the baby that Vanessa is now carrying?


Lucrezia [to Leonardo]: "Your work argues that man is capable of anything. Between us we prove it. You show us the heights that we can reach and I show us the depths."

Richard Edwards

Da Vinci's Demons has just finished airing on Fox in the UK at 10pm on Friday nights.

Read our other Da Vinci's Demons season one reviews.

Watch our exclusive interviews with the stars of Da Vinci's Demons !

The "Lorenzo facepalm" meme needed some work before it would reach Picard standards.

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Richard is a freelancer journalist and editor, and was once a physicist. Rich is the former editor of SFX Magazine, but has since gone freelance, writing for websites and publications including GamesRadar+, SFX, Total Film, and more. He also co-hosts the podcast, Robby the Robot's Waiting, which is focused on sci-fi and fantasy.