Not a dream! Not a hoax! Last night's episode of Da Vinci's Demons pit Leonardo against Vlad the Impaler, and our hero's usual scheming and quipping isn't quite as successful as he hoped. Spoilers ahead.
Da Vinci's Demons seems to be settling into itself a bit more, giving us a good balance between Leonardo's crazy adventures and the politics of Florence's conflict with Rome. Al-Rahim has sent Leonardo off on his latest Sons of Mithras mission, to recover a cartographer known as the Abyssinian, who happens to be the captive of one Vlad Dracul. There's a nice mystical touch to this adventure, even before we encounter the Impaler. Leonardo has an experience in which he converses with the Abyssinian, apparently out of time, while his body is busy ordering around his companions and riding into Vlad's territory.
Vlad is, unsurprisingly, entirely insane. He was struck by lightning and claims that he made a pact with Lucifer to once again ascend his throne. He returned unburdened by his soul, he says, and consequently cannot be killed. There's some great black humor in this piece—Vlad has a Turkish man torn apart by dogs, but to be "sporting," arms the man with a butter knife. And Vlad is refreshingly immune to Leonardo's quippy charms.
Leonardo has a plan, naturally, one that involves poisoning the booze he serves the entire Impaler household and giving only himself and his companions the antidote. But Leonardo has underestimated Vlad. In a few cute nods to vampire lore, Vlad is burned, smacked with a giant cross, and staked before being tossed out a window. (I doubt even that manages to kill him, though.) Leonardo and crew barely escape with their lives and the dying Abyssinian, which is a much-needed change of pace. And now Leonardo has a map made of the Abyssinian's skin! Woo!
Meanwhile, Giuliano is still trying to figure out who the spy in the Medici's midst is, searching the records of curfew breakers in hopes of finding a clue. He still manages to find time to flirt with young Vanessa, however. Clarice seems intent on distracting Giuliano from his quest, however, encouraging Lorenzo to wed Giuliano to Camilla, sister of Francesco Pazzi, to ensure an alliance between the Medicis and the Pazzis. (For all the good that will do.)
But Lorenzo has some schemes of his own brewing. He's looking to ally himself with the Duchy of Urbino to conquer northern Italy and weaken Rome's power. Pope Sixtus IV is so furious when he realizes what's afoot that he attempts to drown one of his advisors in the bath. (Incidentally, was it just me or was there an awful lot of dong in this episode?)
It also appears that Vlad isn't the only character in this episode with an interest in shoving spikes into people. When Count Riario realizes that Lucrezia has developed feelings for Leonardo and has outlived her usefulness as a spy, he orders that she be killed and have spikes driven through her eyes. Lucrezia better keep her eyeballs on…her eyeballs.