Da Vinci’s Demons: 108 “The Lovers” (Finale) Review
Reviewed by Tyler Davies.
After seven unstable episodes; Da Vinci’s Demons reaches its dramatic conclusion and, luckily, it stays true to the writers’ promise of being epic. In fact, it is refined with grandeur till the very denouement. Sadly though, like the majority of this season, it has its fair share of blemishes.
David Goyer and his team of writers’ take on Da Vinci has at times been agitating, but on other occasions it has been bracing. This is due to the assemblage of writers whose interpretations of the character transparently differentiate. Thankfully though, creator and writer, Goyer helms the episode and he renders an appeasing characterisation of Leonardo.
Throughout this finale you get the sense that the character has matured; no longer naïve and far less vulnerable. The journey he has taken throughout this season has cultivated him in more than one aspect and this is most notably signified by his hesitance to follow the Turk’s accord. Previously he has blindly abided by him, but finally he takes a stand and sees some reason. Even the impending threat towards the Medici’s doesn’t immediately deter him from following his own instinct. He doesn’t run to their aid until he realises himself that it’s the appropriate thing to do. He remains true to a line he uttered in episode 5: “No one defines me.”
As suggested by the title – Leonardo and Lucrezia’s relationship plays a pivotal part in this series’ conclusion. Personally, I wasn’t invested in their relationship during the inception of their liaison due to its formerly superficial nature and the latter’s constant treachery. Whereas now, because of the preluding episodes, this has been heavily altered and I enjoyed their culminating interaction for this series. It’s a bittersweet moment as Leonardo lightly reveals his vigorous affection for her, but holds back due to her severe deception. It’s an adept dynamic because one can’t flaw either of them for their actions. The two of them are impelled by their attachment to their loved ones (as Lucrezia defensively remarks) and that gives their situation a unique exterior.
Strengthening this sequence is the pair of proficient actors – Tom Riley and Laura Haddock. They are a delight to watch and they liven up both their respective characters. Some of the actors of this series have been scorned for poor acting, but the leading pair has generally remained unscathed – and rightly so. Riley, in particular, continues to astound as he gives yet another heartfelt performance. He notably shines when his character confronts Lucrezia about her nefarious acts as his sorrow can almost be felt. After his work on the show, I’ll be surprised if this brooding actor doesn’t become a sought-after actor.
Last week’s episode concluded with a staggering twist in the form of Giuliano’s death and it was a wholly stellar send-off. This is discarded and altogether undermined within five minutes of “The Lovers”. His supposed death was given prominence and it was a plausible moment of drama, but him surviving afterwards completely eradicates that. Not only is his survival dubious, but the fact that his definite demise arrives in this episode anyways makes it ridiculous. Throughout a major length of this episode – Giuliano remains halted from the proceedings and adds nothing substantial to the story. Thus it is strenuous to comprehend the reasoning behind his prolonged stay, but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume the writers merely did it for the chance to give him an overly sappy departure.
That brings me to the prominent problem with this finale – an overreliance on melodrama. To deny that this series has been melodramatic at times would be a severe untruth, but it had never been overwhelming to the point of exasperation. However, since this is the concluding part then it appears the writers wanted to exhibit strong drama, as well as cater the usual dose of action. The execution of it though lacks any form of dexterity. There’s just a tedious amount of dramatic and sentimental scenes slapped into it without any clear reason. Only a negligible amount of them are natural to the story (case in point: Leonardo’s aforementioned heartrending and bitter farewell to Lucrezia) whilst the remainders are just nonsensical and bear no effect. The most fundamental example of this is Dragonetti’s wavering allegiance. He’s firstly just a character who crops up on occasion and has never awoken any intrigue so it’s peculiar that his predicament is given such precedence. It’s evidently just to immerse more time into the episode, but that merely irks me to an even further extent as there is plenty of ground for the finale to cover. Although, this quibble aside, what’s most irritating is the implausible nature of his situation. His loyalty is shifted in the blink of an eye and it’s difficult to perceive any type of legitimate reason for it. Once again, it appears this is just for the sake of some overdone drama.
Since this show had been prematurely renewed for a second series long ago then I was hardly expecting all the ongoing storylines to reach a culmination. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was a full-scale bout in the place of any purposeful pay-off. It is, admittedly, all good fun and the combat sequences are well choreographed, but it arrives at an inappropriate time. A series finale should round off a few loose ends and have an actual climax – not divert your attention with illustrious set-pieces. Whilst I’m also a softie for a good cliffhanger; Da Vinci’s Demons concludes on a frenetically clumsy one. I am ultimately left with distaste from it.
‘The Lovers’ is a disappointing fare; both as an episode and a finale. It is partially redeemed by adroit acting from the lead pair, some alluring sequences and a more serious tone between the characters, but over-all; it makes the prospect of the second series seem dim.