Friday, July 05, 2013

Honourable Mentions: Da Vinci’s Demons – the Devil

Da Vinci’s Demons was a gritty, semi-occult series created by David S. Goyer and concentrating on the intrigue surrounding Rome during the early years of Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley). The episode the devil was directed by Paul Wilmshurst and first aired in 2013.

Vlad and impaled
It is not a series I have watched, but I had to catch this episode as it featured Vlad Ţepeş (Paul Rhys, Being Human season 2). Now there is, I am sure, always the temptation to go vampire with Ţepeş but in this case they did not – or at least they were deliberately oblique.

workings of Da Vinci's mind
Ţepeş has captured an Abyssinian cartographer, Solomon (Shaun Parkes), who Leonardo needs to decipher a map (part of the overarching story). Leonardo therefore travels to Poenari Castle in Wallachia to try and free the man. We meet Ţepeş in his third reign and see impaled Turks, some with turbans nailed to their skulls. Ţepeş is drawn as sinister and clearly mad (something he freely admits to). There are elements deliberately drawn from modern tropes to make us think of vampires.

Paul Rhys as Vlad
For instance we notice that Vlad’s face is criss-crossed with veins but it transpires that these are Lichtenberg figure scars, he having been struck by lightning and survived. He openly toasts Lucifer and states that he sold his soul to escape his last imprisonment. As a man with no soul he believes he cannot be killed. This is apparently the case when he is poisoned, stabbed and grievously burnt, and yet still comes for Leonardo. He is then thrown from a castle window but, when Leonardo and his men get to the courtyard, Vlad’s corpse has vanished. We do not know what happened to it, perhaps an animal dragged it off (as Leonardo suggests) or perhaps he was immortal – the show leaves us guessing.

Rhys was excellent as Vlad and the show seemed rather gritty – though the episode struggled as a standalone as much was happening that relied on previous episodes – no bad thing in itself.

The episode's imdb page is here.

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