Da Vinci's Demons: Episode 3 -The Prisoner



Da Vinci's Demons: Episode Three - The Prisoner

Staring: Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Elliot Cowan, Lara Pulver, Black Ritson

This episode opens with an unknown prisoner playing a board game with a player from the Vatican. The rest of the show focuses on a covenant supposedly being possessed by demonic spirits. Leonardo gets involved and attempts to figure out what has really infected them, solving the mystery, and inadvertently being infected himself. Lorenzo is also still in the midst of trying to figure out who the spy reporting back to the Vatican is. Unknowing to him that it is his mistress.


"I've yet to touch the board, but yet I've begun. The First principle. Is to take the corners. The strategy is obvious.  The corners are easier to defend. But even as we engage in localized conflicts it's important to keep the broader landscape in mind.
The game can only be won by pursuing seemingly opposing objectives simultaneously.
 An opponent who can control the flow of the game why appearing to play defensively is often the most formidable." - Prisoner, who's narrative alludes to the political games being explored in the episode.


Leonardo is at working manufacturing his cannons for the Medici's growing army. In his workshop he implements a blind man who's job it is to listen to the tones of the barrels to check for impurities. Acting like an archaic quality control manager he is able to ascertain if a certain cannon is cast to da Vinci's standards. In his real life notebooks he describes how to cast iron and the proper materials and procedures to use. 

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"Do you think your pursuit of knowledge makes you immune to your emotions? You can't outrun them you know." - Lorenzo's Mistress and Leonardo's secret lover.
"I'm not running I just have competing interests" Da Vinci Demon's Da Vinci

“Intellectual passion drives out sensuality. ” - Real Life Leonardo

Da Vinci realized that romantic (sensual) distractions kept him from his more intellectual  pursuits, but also that when you are actually pursuing them - that that passion tempers those distractions.

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"Africa and Europe. see how they fit into this. Europe and Africa and the Jews map . It can only be that there were two land masses that were once one and drifted apart over ages. And between them the great Atlantic." - Da Vinci's Demon's Leo


Da Vinci is looking at maps he has hanging on a wall and starts to realize that the continents appear to be connected together like a puzzle - and thinks that at some point a long time ago they were once connected and throughout time have separated. This is something that has been proven today but was unthinkable 500 years ago. This is also something the real life Leonardo noticed and will be presented in another post.


"The earth wears away the mountains and fills up the valleys and if it had the power it would reduce the earth to a perfect sphere." - Leonardo da Vinci
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The rest of the episode if about Leonardo trying to figure out what is really going on with the possessed convent. The cardinal assigned to the case tries to "cast out the demons" by strangling the women and then saying: 

"The moments before she died I saw the light of god in her eyes!"
During this time medicine and psychology as we know it were non-existent. When someone started to act abnormal they were considered to be possessed by the devil - and if they didn't change they would be killed or burned - and/ or called "witches" or heretics. The scenes presented in the show actually happened and it would take hundreds of years before various problems were taken out of religion and into a more rational diagnosis. Leonardo was way before his time when it came to this and was not only against the "Doctors" and "Medicine" of his time, but also Necromancy and the ideas of evil spirits. He actually describes in detail how "spirits" wouldn't be possible since they would create a vacuum and eventually rise into a lesser dense atmosphere - and up into space.

"He who takes medicine is ill advised." - Leonardo da Vinci

"I know what goes on in your workshop, the nude modeling, the carnal relations the cadavers you debase in the name of science. We want none of your assistance." - Nun   

Everyone in the covenant is convinced that the women are possessed by evil spirits and are hesitant to listen to Leonardo. He goes about trying to find out what is really wrong with them in a similar way that  modern day forensic detectives do. This wouldn't have been far off as Leonardo used what could be considered a precursor to the "scientific method" - 

"Wisdom is the daughter of experience." 

He eventually figures out that it's the Red Ergot fungus that is causing the convent's symptoms. Hallucinations  hysteria, feelings of being burned, etc. Interestingly he uses firefly light to detect it.: 

"Distinct properties of light shows what can't see normally. Some fungi for instance appear bright red in certain lights." - Da Vinci's Demon's Leo

He did understand this and documented it in his notebooks noting that things appeared different under direct light, diffused light, and light that has gone through stained glass windows etc. 


"Oh! speculators on things, boast not of knowing the things that nature ordinarily brings about; but rejoice if you know the end of those things which you yourself devise." - Leonardo da Vinci
After diagnosing the real problem - the fungal infection - he remembers reading about it and how to cure it. Thankfully he explained the antidote, and leeching (using leeches to suck out the blood) before being infected himself.

"You know the medicines when well used restore health to the sick: they will be well used when the doctor together with his understanding of their nature shall understand also what man is, what life is, and what constitution and health are. Know these well and you will know their opposites; and when this is the case you will know well how to devise a remedy." - Leonardo da Vinci



"One misstep leads to another."
"They poisoned the pious."
"As one game ends another begins." 

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