In a modern Tarot deck, the Hierophant card is also called the Pope, which is appropriate because "The Hierophant" was a pretty pope-y episode of Da Vinci's Demons leading into next week's finale. The Hierophant card also carries an array of accompanying associations, including power, knowledge, tradition, deception, and status quo—concepts which also featured prominently in "The Hierophant" as Da Vinci did the Batman thing and used his genius to sneak into the deepest recesses of the Vatican and my precious Guiliano (who I'd recently taken to calling "the fun Medici" in my head) got shanked by Lucrezia because the Donatis are totally the worst.
Seriously, this week we met her aunt and her dad and they are the worst. When Leonardo Da Vinci wanders into your jail cell and unlocks it, YOU LEAVE—especially when your imprisonment is supposedly what's motivating your daughter to be the worst. Ugh, Lucrezia, I was supposed to like you after the assassination attempt, not hate you (not to mention your whole family) more than I thought possible.
Whatever, at least we got Nico and Zoroaster being bumbling badasses, Vanessa being delightful, and Clarice bringing the sass at communion. Clarice has the best sass.
And I do have one nice thing to say with regard to Lucrezia after "The Hierophant," but just one: When Leonardo had a vision of her during his sleepwalk/acid trip/drunken stupor, I briefly feared that she'd already been assassinated and that him seeing her amounted to some kind of timey-wimey message from the dead thing. I was relieved when it was revealed as just another one of Leo's spells.
Also good: when Lucrezia's dad asked Leonardo whether he loved her and Leonardo said he didn't know... although I guess that's more of a gold star for Leonardo and the writers of Da Vinci's Demons than it is for Lucrezia. Over the course of the season, it's been made very clear that Leonardo Da Vinci is a special snowflake who is in love with knowledge and not so much people (except for, like, his mom), and even though Leo and Lucrezia have their "thing" and he at the very least doesn't hate her, to have him declare her his soulmate would have been the worst—and not just because Lucrezia is the worst, but because it would've made absolutely zero sense when you look at the way this Leonard Da Vinci has been written. Plus, if you think about it, those two barely know each other outside of their super-secret sexytimes, and no one but Taylor Swift in that terrible symbology-scrambled song of hers thinks insta-love like Romeo and Juliet's is an actual thing.
Da Vinci's Demons has brought the action hard as we careen toward next week's finale, and in my humble opinion, I find that the more action-packed episodes work best in terms of both enjoyability and functionality. The historical aspect of the series provides a lush backdrop to experiment with, allowing the show to reinterpret and re-imagine whatever scarce details we have a concrete understanding of, but if I was any kind of dedicated Da Vinci scholar hoping to see even a vague reflection of my studies in Da Vinci's Demons, I'd probably spend a lot of time screaming at the TV.
So when Da Vinci's Demons just goes with its loose interpretations without trying to force the narrative to fit neatly into a history book—but offers just enough acknowledgement of the facts to reassure those of us who've at least skimmed the Wikipedia articles (guilty!) that the writers aren't just pulling stuff out of their asses—the show is a fun and pretty romp through CGI-fied Florence that never feels quite as epic as its predecessor Spartacus, or as mature as its network sibling Magic City, but still manages to maintain its core philosophy regarding knowledge for all and the true meaning of freedom.
"The Hierophant" had everything a penultimate episode needs, resolving a few—but not all—of the mysteries that have plagued Da Vinci's Demons' characters since the beginning of the season. It introduced Leonardo to the key around Riario's neck that complimented his own. It revealed to Guiliano, and more importantly, Leonardo, the truth about Lucrezia's activities. And it set up the Pazzi Conspiracy to eliminate Lorenzo and Guiliano... though Lucrezia's unexpected murder of Guiliano will certainly alter the Pazzis'—and their conspirators'—plans. All in all, the episode raised the stakes with the loss of Guiliano and even, to an extent, with sweet-and-sometimes-dumb Nico's foray into torture and revenge; his treatment of Riario resulted in both Zoroaster and Leonardo expressing their dismay at Nico's lost innocence. Leonardo insisted on leaving Riario tied to a tree, but otherwise unharmed, despite Nico's desire to see the Pope's nephew punished for his wide range of wrongs, including his abduction and torment of Nico himself a few episodes ago. Leonardo stated that "to be haunted by your mistakes... is a fate worse than death," and by the conclusion of "The Hierophant," I think everyone had experienced some variation of Leonardo's words themselves.
– Wait... so did the Jesus spear actually do what the Pope said it would do? And Leo just left it behind?
– I LOLed at the fact that Mr. "Doin' it for God and Country" Pazzi couldn't actually quote any Bible verses, or even make up something credible. But then I was sad because 500 years later, peeps are basically doing the same thing.
– I was really hoping to understand the Donatis more after this episode, but now I think I'm just more confused. What's your take? Did I miss something? I was was totally on-board with jailbird-daddy-as-leverage until he refused to escape. WTF.
– "Your palace is a prison with better linens." Word. Bar wenches > princesses. Totally.
What'd you think of "The Hierophant"?