The first season of Da Vinci's Demons was a heck of a lot of fun. Tom Riley was full of charm and awesomeness, and the end result allowed for a great, swashbuckling, action-packed historical drama that I really enjoyed. So when it returned for its second season with The Blood of Man, there was no way I was going to miss out on it, and what a triumphant return to form it was.
We left off with Lorenzo and Da Vinci trapped in the middle of a Vatican invasion of Florence, with Riario and company banging on the doors and Lorenzo on the verge of death, having just discovered Leonardo's affair with double agent Lucrezia. This series is complicated to follow and will make no sense to people jumping in with season two - it's best to back and watch it from the beginning. However, rather than immediately answer the question "how the hell do they get out of that one?" Da Vinci's Demons flips the table on its head and sends us six months into the future, where Riario and Da Vinci are held hostage and are about to be killed - in the Americas, of all places. How did they get there and what happened to them? Well, you won't see any answers this episode, but it's a devilishly fun teaser that promises a lot more involvement of the supernatural themes than before.
Tom Riley is great once again as Leonardo Da Vinci. He's fun, and could have easily been cast as the Doctor if Moffat and company wanted to go down the route of another middle aged white male, rather than casting Peter Capaldi. But instead, we're left with him playing Da Vinci, and we have to watch him deal with the fallout from the Pazzi and Vatican plot to overthrow the Medicis. The main thread of The Blood of Man is saving Lorenzo's life, even though he now hates Da Vinci. It's a fun, action packed and awesome way to kickstart Da Vinci's Demons, and the second season proves us just why it's great to have this show back on air.
The show moves incredibly fast, with the bulk of the episode focusing around Da Vinci trying to avoid Riario - with an injured Lorenzo in tow. This is great - because Riario was one of the best TV villains of last year and it was great to have him back posing a threat to Da Vinci, who remains as awesome as ever, and it's a good thing for him at least that he hasn't lost any of his genius because right now he's the only man who can keep Lorenzo alive, and without Lorenzo, Florence will fall to Rome.
Lara Pulver's Clarice Orsini, gets a lot more to do in this episode than before, and much like Da Vinci and Riario, is always fun to watch, with one of the most powerful moments of the premiere coming when she told guards to poison her children should the Pazzis breach the Palace walls, and shows that the show itself is still got plenty of punches left to pull.
Riario (Blake Ritson) gets a lot to do in this episode as well - whilst Zoroaster (Greg Chillin) and Nico (Eros Vlahos), Da Vinci's allies, spend most of the episode separated from him they also have a crucial role to play. So the episode itself manages to, unlike Game of Thrones - include every major player in one episode - with the end result being spectacular to watch, handled incredibly well with a great pace.
So, if you liked the first season then you can expect more of the same here. I'm glad to have Da Vinci's Demons back on TV and I cannot wait to see more, it was a surprise hit of last year for me and should be a welcome return to form for the next few weeks.