Saturday, June 11, 2022

Da Vinci's Demons: The Fall from Heaven Review



It is not until now that I realize the pun in The Fall from Heaven, that of a literal fall. As we finally get closer to the end of Da Vinci's Demons Season Two, we get one of the best performances of the series and some wild, even funny turns.

We are finally back to the beginning when we started Season Two, and we see that Riario (Black Ritson) is overwhelmed with guilt over his past. Despite being a "sword of the Church", he sees that he is a most miserable sinner. Despite being close to death, he and Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) will continue their mad hunt for both the Book of Leaves and Leo's mysterious mother. Engineering a great escape, they along with Zoroaster (Gregg Chillin) and Nico (Eros Vlahos), they go back to the cave and discover an automaton that speaks in Leo's mother's voice. How to escape the Incans?

Well, fly away of course. Leo creates parachuting and sadly informs Incan High Priestess Ima Kama (Carolina Herrera) that there is no literal book. With that, she knows her civilization is doomed. So is Riario's soul, who reveals a shocking revelation about his most brutal act involving his own mother.

Meanwhile, back in Italy, Pope Sixtus IV (James Faulkner) is amused by the appearance of the Turkish Bayezid (Akin Gazi), the Sultan's son. He quickly orders him stripped and driven out of Rome, much to Bayezid's shock and anger. In Naples, Florentine Lorenzo de Medici (Elliot Cowan) is working to curry favor with the mad King Ferrante (Matthew Marsh) with a little help from pirates and a lot of help from former flame Ippolita, Duchess of Urbino (Jeany Spark). In Constantinople, the Sultan's advisor Jacob Pasha (Raymond Coulthard) sees that Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock) is not on the up and up.

It is the Riario story that elevates The Fall from Heaven. Ritson's performance is perhaps his finest in the season. A haunted, tormented man, he's moved past the soft-voiced villain from Season One. His final monologue, accompanied by genuinely shocking and sad images of his final interaction with his mother, will move the viewer.

If not for Ritson, I would have found a lot of The Fall from Heaven very uncomfortable. Again, I go back to the graphic violence on the show. The throat-slashing of Incan sacrificial victims was far too graphic, and I think unnecessary. The killing Riario remembers too is highly disturbing to me. Then a poor Incan warrior gets crushed by some doors. I do not understand why Da Vinci's Demons opts to show more than perhaps I think they should. I do wish some restraint would be exercised.

I also found some of the acting surprisingly theatrical. I would put Coulthard's Jacob rather overdone, but Spark and even some of the regulars like Cowan seemed to revel in some slightly campy acting.

I am not sure whether to take Leonardo da Vinci and company paragliding to safety funny or not. Granted, we crossed some lines when we have Leonardo da Vinci cavorting in Incan High Priestesses but even here, things seem pretty bonkers.

As I reflect on The Fall from Heaven, I see that my enthusiasm has damped a bit. Blake Ritson did a fantastic job here, and he elevates the episode. However, apart from that, I was not bowled over by this fall.


Next Episode: The Enemies of Man

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