Gentilini Wines, Kefalonia – Greece

Kefalonia’s Gentilini family, originally from Italy, traces its arrival on the Greek island back to the 1520s; several centuries later, in the early 20th century, the last Gentilini married a Kosmetatos and the name died out.

Marianna Kosmetatos, a direct descendent of the Gentilini-Kosmetatos line, is the current owner and manager of the Gentilini winery with husband Petros.

Both are returned expats of a sort – Marianna’s father left the country after a coup and had his daughters educated in the UK, whilst Petros’ family went to Australia.

Kefalonia, one of the largest and less overtly touristy Greek islands has a European, rather than Turkish, heritage that included civilised society, gilded furniture and balls but 7,000 years of history were destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1953.

Of more interest to would-be winemakers is that the island is cooled by winds from the north and is composed almost entirely of pure white limestone which reaches over 1,600m at its highest point.

The island has three PDOs – for Robola, sweet Mavrodaphne and sweet Muscat.

The Gentilini winery is just 30 years old and dates from when father Kosmetatos returned from a self-imposed exile – a man with artistic tendencies, he designed and built a house on a cliff edge with 180-degree panoramic views.

Behind it stands the vineyard, winery and tasting area. Early plantings of Chardonnay were not a great success and the focus of the vineyard is, increasingly, indigenous varieties including Mavrodaphne (made dry) and Tsaoussi.

The winery – all organic and gravity-fed (easily done on the steep hillsides) – also buys in grapes from growers both on the island and from the mainland, around 40 tons annually to make a range of red, white and rose wines of increasing quality and complexity.

Each year a number of experimental wines are made – last year was a late-harvest dessert wines, this year, with a new winemaker arrived most recently from the UK’s sparkling wine industry, they are trying out a traditional-method fizz based on early-picked grapes.

I first tried Gentilini’s Classic Robola at a presentation of Greek wines by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW for the Circle of Wine Writers earlier this year. Staying at the Gentilini Retreat – a 20ha olive grove with rooms and a pool, run by sister Eleni Kosmetatos – I was invited down to the winery for a tasting by Marianna.

With lots of temperature-controlled stainless steel and small oak barrels, quality is high – and this is reflected in the prices which start in double figures for the entry-levels wines and will push, or possibly hit, three figures for magnums of the top Reserve red.

The whites have a minerality and precise purity that reminds me somewhat of Austria much further to the north; the reds, from traditionally-sweet Mavrodaphne and fulsome, bosomy Agiorgitiko have a more crowd-pleasing fruit-forward softness, but with plenty of stuffing, too.

All wines are 2012 in bottle, except where noted, and we accompanied the tasting with some Gentilini olive oil and local graviera cheese, the name apparently taken from Gruyere.

Notes – the entry-level Gentilini wine, often sold as unlabelled house-wine by local restaurants; good, straightforward and pleasant; fresh and citrussy.

Aspro – Tsaoussi, Muscat and SB blend; low in alcohol and acidity, Tsaoussi is not a great grape for making wine and needs the support of the other grapes here. Nonetheless, the result is crisp, toastiness, white flowers, persistence, aromatic herbs.

Classic Robola – 50/50 whole bunch (for elegance) and de-stemmed (for fruit); flinty, mineral nose; crisp and mineral, persistence – incredible freshness, grown at over 500m on pebbles over limestone (tank fermented). Good.

Cellar Selection Robola – 20% barrel fermented (2 weeks plus 1 month lees stirring) harvested 2 weeks later – bigger, fuller, more texture and depth, touch of oaky toastiness on the finish, maybe needs some time for the new oak to settle down. Good.

Rose – Moschofilero & Agiorgitiko blend (red, white & pink berries); cranberry red, bubblegum nose & red fruits (but no carbonic maceration) very crisp & mineral, quite tannic – needs food (not at all a provencal rose).

Unique Blend Red – Agiorgitiko (plus some Syrah); soft and fruit-forward, bramble with pepperiness

Eclipse 2011 – chocolatey, spicey, leathery liquorice and gaminess, fresh acidity, ripe bramble fruit, depth and persistence, minerality. Good.

Eclipse 2012 (barrel sample) more concentrated than the 2011. Very Good.

Eclipse Reserve 2012 (barrel sample) another step up again. Very Good Indeed.

Syrah 2009 - some Mavrodaphne (18m in barrel) minty, spicy, dark fruit, complex nose – soft velvety texture, pepperiness, dense structure and concentrated firmness, ripe tannins, muscular. Good.

Dessert wine (283 half-bottles made as an experiment, air-dried SB & Muscat) 12% alcohol, peachy nectarine, roasted skins, fresh acidity, savouriness and depth -  more intense than elegant. Not made commercially – which is a pity. Good.

The Robola is imported into the UK by Eclectic Wines of London SW6 3RA (mary@eclecticwines.com).

Links

Gentilini Winery – website

Gentilini Retreat – website

Interview with Paul Cooijmans, Administrator of the Giga Society

“Membership of the Giga Society is ideally open to anyone outscoring .999999999 of the adult population on at least one of the accepted tests. This means that in theory one in a billion individuals can qualify. Please do not confuse this criterion with popularly published scores on childhood tests (which are mental/biological age ratio I.Q.s that are not comparable with deviation I.Q.s and tend to be much higher), estimated I.Q.s of famous people, or self-claimed I.Q.s of megalomaniacs. You cannot join by simply listing your real-life achievements, diplomas and the like, even though you are of course of greater value to society because of those than you would be because of a high test score.

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Main goal of the Giga Society is to further the establishment of mental ability test norms in the very high range. This is done by recognizing high-scoring candidates for their effort in taking the tests (not for being intelligent), Giga Society membership being one of the incentives for test-taking. Into the bargain, this also promotes the general goals of high-range I.Q. testing, as well as the study of creativity. Inspired by the prospect of membership, many take the tests, thus bringing in much research data. This is explained so explicitly in this paragraph because experience has shown that some otherwise misunderstand the nature of the society, and mistake it for a cult of megalomania.

The society was founded in 1996 by Paul Cooijmans, who has served as its Psychometitor since, and has a journal named Nemesis which appears after every enrollment, the first of which occurred in 1999.”- Giga Society’s Website


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 INTERVIEW WITH PAUL COOIJMANS

1.

How would you best describe yourself?

I would describe myself as an honest, ethical, conscientious, intelligent person who was born such that he can only see and deal with the essence of things, rather than being superficial and dealing with appearance. This necessarily leads to doing things that are rare or have not been done before, and to being an autodidact.

2.

What motivates you?

My motivations are to learn or discover how the universe and parts of it work – so, “curiousness” – and to make things of a high and lasting quality that will get through to people and help them become truthful and righteous. To end unrighteousness and evil is a motivation too.

3.

What makes a good team leader?

I do not believe in the concept of “team leader”, and reject the social dynamics supposedly connected to such a concept, do not acknowledge them as a bona fide part of human interaction. The only kind of leadership I recognize is leading by example, showing the way.

4.

What is your perspective on fashion in today’s world?

While fashion is not my core business, I do observe an internal contradiction or inconsistency in it: On the one hand, fashion, or at least some of it, is meant to be beautiful, esthetic, even art, but on the other hand, fashion is by definition that what is popular in a given period, and therefore is transient. But what is beautiful now should be beautiful always; if one accepts that beauty is an objective quality, which I believe. So, fashion that is truly beautiful is by definition not fashion after all. I myself am not very much affected by the transient aspect of fashion, but I can see what is truly beautiful.

5.

What are your biggest strengths?

Persistence, perfectionism, and other aspects of what I call “conscientiousness”; intelligence, with high ability in both “alpha” and “beta” fields, and therefore versatility. To name a more specific ability: writing clear and understandable text. Many other strengths could be named that are inherent to the already mentioned, such as humour and being able to deal with double functions, which – double functions – create multiple levels of meaning and synergy in a work.

6.

How do you handle stress/pressure?

I aim to handle stress in a rational way and avoid giving emotional responses to it. It is not possible to avoid stress altogether. Examples of methods to deal with stress are “counting to ten”, or using the cause of a particular instance of stress to one’s benefit, for instance by writing about it in a story or article. It also helps to formalize one’s response to particular stressors, so that one can handle each occurrence of them without being affected.

7.

What do you define as genius and intelligent with regards to personality?

In terms of personality, genius is the high end of creativity, and creativity in turn is a synergy of conscientiousness, ability, and associative horizon. There exists also another type of definition of genius, which says a genius is someone who makes a lasting contribution in any field, but that is of course an “after the fact” definition. Two of the three elements in my definition are related to psychiatric disorders; conscientiousness to neurosis, associative horizon to psychosis. The trick is to have exactly the right amounts of those, so that you stay just below the threshold where you would have a debilitating neurotic or psychotic illness.

Intelligence, when that term is used in relation to human personality, is the cognitive aspect of personality, the aspect that comprises mental ability. The word “intelligence” is unfortunately often used in a number of other meanings too, so that is it not usable in scientific contexts; the best term for it is probably “g”, the general factor in mental ability. In the above definition of genius, intelligence would belong to the ability element.

8.

What is your greatest annoyance with people?

A number of annoyances could be named, but since only the single greatest one is asked for, I would say bully nature. Some people have the inclination to, when confronted with someone who is good, pure, and innocent, hurt that person as much as they can. They are simply intolerant of good and are compelled to destroy it. It may be physical violence on one end of the scale, or it may be highly refined forms of psychological torture disguised as kindness. But make no mistake; the goal of the bully is always the death of the bullied.

9. What do you consider the main personality traits to have in a person for a better world?

High conscientiousness (including ethics, in my definition) and high mental ability are the main traits needed for a better world. All other positive traits that people often cite in this context will follow, being intrinsically related to these.

10.

Do you believe in aliens and extra-terrestrial life?

Yes, I believe extraterrestrial aliens exist. Whether they have visited Earth is a different matter. I think that would be known worldwide instantly, and not possible to cover up. I also think the vast majority of civilizations in the universe are at a lower level than current human civilization (but those smart enough to travel here would be at a higher level, naturally). I have estimated the average I.Q. of civilizations in the universe at about 80. When rising far above that, forces of a decadent-degenerative nature become active that pull society back toward that more primitive level. This can be observed throughout the history of Earth humans – all civilizations have fallen so far – and it seems reasonable to assume it will be no different on other planets. The development of civilization is not a straight upward line, but is discontinuous in time and space. While theoretically some civilization somewhere in the universe could reach the point where interstellar travel becomes feasible, we have not seen that yet, and it is not a priori certain that such is possible at all. In any case it is very naive to think that the current rate of technological improvement in our civilization will always continue.

11.

What quality do you value most in your friends both male and female?

Being able to communicate rationally and verbally, being able to understand clear intelligible language and not reading between the lines when there is nothing there.

12.

What is your current state of mind?

My current state of mind is a productive one as I am enthusiastically working on something. While creative work is much of the time a painful process and a struggle, it also gives energy and has an anti-depressant effect.

13. What do you get complimented most about?

About my tests, in the sense that people notify me of having derived large quantities of enjoyment from taking them, and about the articles on my web locations, which some say have helped them greatly.

14.

What is your greatest joy?

My greatest joy is in making things and in learning things that have not been known before. There is no greater sensation than the realization of just having created a masterpiece that will withstand the ages and grab people by the throat even centuries from now, or acquiring insight into some pattern, connection, or causal mechanism that had been hitherto overlooked.

15.

If you had one personal wish (which you alone can benefit from hence world peace, etc not applicable) what would it be?

Technically I cannot answer this, since anything I can think of that would benefit me would inevitably also benefit humanity on the whole, which is disallowed by the question. But what comes closest is probably to stay in good health for as long as possible, preferably forever, as in not dying.

Film Review: Easy Money

Easy Money
Easy Money was actually made in 2010. So I’m assuming it’s been put on because another sequel is coming out this October?

Joel Kinnaman (who will play the new Robocop) stars in this uneventful movie. He plays Johan “JW” Westlund. I can see why this film disappeared into the ether. The double life has been handled much better, this film made me nostalgic for George Clooney’s Batman/Bruce Wayne! (That’s not a good sign.)

Choosing to sell drugs to fund his rich lifestyle was the main driving force behind this. The film was stumped from the word go because the storyline was limited. There’s only one way the film was going. In fact there is only one way any film like this can go. That’s showing the descent into the negative side of drugs.

Kinnaman was good but lacked the clout and originality to keep things interesting. Maybe I’m fussy, but if you’re going to cover a film that’s got a topic that’s done week in, week out – surely the concept of originality should creep in there? What will make my film stand out from the others?

Falling for a girl which then leads him into the rich and famous – thus requiring to sell drugs to keep up in the world was uninspiring. Organised crime, shoot outs, car crashes and outrunning the police are now pretty run of the mill. It seemed the director was scared to try anything different or new. Films should be about creativity.

Sadly none of the cast shone for me. No one seemed to really gel. The love interests were more like Bert and Ernie than Titanic. Of course it has most of the right ingredients to have secured sequels – what most people seem to love; human misery, violence and a love that cannot be.

But was this Romeo or Juliet? Er…. No! With text book plots, okay acting and a middling script 4/10 from me. Joel was the only recognisable actor in this troop. Have I chosen well? Hmmmm….

I think if the version with Zac Efron goes ahead, that’d be worth seeing.

Image reproduced from torrent butler.eu
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / DiamondTrailers

Film Review: The Numbers Station

The Numbers Station
The Numbers Station has had such low visibility, I’m surprised it got made at all! Having to buy the DVD off Amazon wasn’t a good sign but undeterred I watched it with an open mind.

I found that it was bit like a low budget spy thriller. A James Bond film without the pizzazz, music or glamour. The thing that does set this apart is the dynamics between the two leads John Cusack and Malin Akerman.

John Cusack plays CIA black ops agent Emerson Kent. After a job goes wrong, he must prove his worth and is sent to guard a lady named Katherine (Akerman). He must protect her at all costs. The CIA use a numbers station to send and receive encrypted messages. But the station is already under attack and saving Katherine may not be possible!

Now this drama wasn’t so much by the book, it WAS the book. Gunshots, awful bosses, exploding cars and mindless violence were executed matter of factly. Katherine’s colleagues were attacked before she arrived and you saw their fate through flashbacks when she played the audio tapes.

This was where the film lost a lot of credibility. Would the CIA really employ three people to look after such a covert station? All of them afraid to use guns and any of the defences? Plus the old – ‘I’ll open the door to see what’s going on!’

The villains were cardboard, a big bad boss with huge bodyguards ready to die for him. So much time was spent at the bunker – I was glad when it finally moved along. Perhaps this was a budget constraint? But the chemistry between the leads made the time passable.

Cusack played the troubled agent who has a conscience well and you could see him struggling with some of the decisions he had to make. The dreams where he shoots Katherine was a little bizarre and frankly unnecessary so I’m assuming this was a plot filler? It could’ve been a shock tactic but it just confused things for me.

One minute he’s now a world class doctor and able to operate on her then he’s dreaming of shooting her???

Kent’s boss is a little too trigger happy and there’s no time spent in exploring why he was so happy to have everyone die and humans nothing more than loose ends to tidy up. There was a good story here and it was missed. What would make someone so cold?

Another problem was the darn bunker door! For a secret bunker, the front door was like a revolving door. In, out, in, out. All the cast appeared to be in nearly every part – upstairs, downstairs. Injured people able to get to the basement and shoot. There was a lot of weird action going on.

But the ending was good and frankly I’ve seen worse movies recently. I think a rework of the script is in order, a touch of glamour and humour and that might propel this movie higher and get accepted by bigger cinemas.

I’m giving 7/10, a satisfactory outing but hardly Oscar material.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from eonebenelux

Film Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me
Now You See Me is a very slick film indeed. Yes, I am saved! Like a man whose been stuck in a desert for weeks and finds an oasis to recover. I have revelled in the clever script and my want for entertainment has been quenched!

This is more than a film, it’s a landmark of how to excite your audience. Interweaving magic and trickery, you are left spellbound by the audacity of the four magicians and what they can do.

The impossible seems reachable and there’s some tricks ahoy in this spectacle. Easily recognisable for me was Isla Fisher (Home and Away, Maybe Definitely, Confessions of a Shopoholic), Morgan Freeman (Shawkshank Redemption, Deep Impact), Michael Caine (too many films to list!).

J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Fisher), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) are four magicians, brought together by fate and sponsored by Arthur Tressler (Caine). The biggest trick is sending a man through a transparent box into a bank vault! Then all the money is sucked out into the crowd where they are. How did they steal all this money?

Enter FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo – Avengers Assemble) to find out the truth. It was actually nice to see the FBI played properly – as usually they are portrayed as stupid goons. Rhodes was a worthy cop to their criminal minds. It was breath taking.

Snazzy and clever, full of twists and turns, thrills and spills. This film had it all. Just like a well stocked kitchen, there wasn’t anything missing. Will they get caught? You just never knew as the stakes are raised and things get hotter. Now can they outdo their bank vault trick? Crowds want bigger and better each time. So what will they come up with and can Rhodes stop them?

Rhodes seeks advice from a fellow magician who reveals how tricks are done. Thaddues Bradley (Freeman) is enlisted but will he help them? Or is he the background member helping the other four stay ahead of the police?

Calling themselves the Four Horseman they are a force to be reckoned with!

Definitely 9/10 from me. A great ride. Good CGI use but a cracking script also.

There were minor reasons that bothered me, nothing that will spoil the film. But some of the character names were a let down. Like some of the first names. Henley?! Thaddeus? I was half expecting all the names to be like, ‘Yaminall, Wesslem and Bourasica’. It’s not set in ancient Greece!

And some of the wardrobe choices were bizarre, like they were in Siberia or something. Hello, you chose Los Angeles! Somebody call Gok Wan.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from VISO Trailers

Dylan O’Brien: Hollywood’s Next Big Thing?

Dylan O'Brien Image reproduced from wikimedia.org

Dylan O’Brien

Prior to this year, actor Dylan O’Brien was relativity unknown. He’s been in acting circuit for just two years, starring in independent films such as High Road and The First Time. However he is best known for his role as Stiles Stilinski, the sidekick in the popular MTV series Teen Wolf.

As the show entered it’s third season its popularity sky-rocketed. A bigger production budget has brought the programme to a wider audience and O’Brien’s show stealing performances have caught the attention of fans and the industry alike. Already he has had a cameo appearance in hit television show, New Girl, which has had success in both America and the UK. He also plays a supporting role in the internationally released film, The Internship which was released in July of this year. Now after bagging the main role of Thomas in The Maze Runner, set to be the next Hunger Games, it’s clear that O’Brien is going places.

O'Brien in The Maze Runner Image reproduced from MTV.com

O’Brien in The Maze Runner

However he’s not made it yet. Though his performance in The Maze Runner has the potential of allowing him to break into Hollywood, many young actors like O’Brien get lost in the wayside. The film is to be directed by Wes Ball, whose previously only worked with film shorts. The rest of the cast is also made up of newcomers, like O’Brien, though known actors Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones) and Will Poulter (Chronicles of Narnia) are among the mix. Due to this inexperience, the film’s success will depend heavily on it’s marketing. Yet with Twentieth Century Fox as it’s production company, things are likely to go well. O’Brien’s loyalty to Teen Wolf is another possible obstacle in his career. With Stiles being a central character to the story there is no doubt that they will want him to remain for future seasons.

Regardless of opposing factors, O’Brien is clearly a talented actor. Whilst on Teen Wolf, he’s brought a level of complexity to his character which easily outshines the performances of his co-stars. He also fits well into the typecast of ‘loveable dork’ a seemingly growing trend in Hollywood films. Time will tell if The Maze Runner will bring him to the mainstream market, but for now, Dylan O’Brien is certainly one to watch.

Images reproduced from wikimedia.org and MTV.com

Chateau d’Angles – Languedoc

 

Earlier this year, the CWB family spent a week in the gite of Chateau d’Angles as guests of owners Eric and Christine Fabre.

La Clape is a rocky hill covered in low scrub, known as garrigue – and forest lying between Narbonne and the Mediterranean in France’s Languedoc region.

Where Provence, further round the coast, is dusty and lavender scented, La Clape is greener and home to colourful songbirds, bats, hares and even wild boar.

La Clape’s history dates back to Roman times, when it was an island, until a programme of draining the marshes joined it up to the mainland.

These days it is a protected natural park and retains an unspoilt character, nestling between the buzzy, developed sea-fronts of St Pierre and Valras.

Eric Fabre moved to the region around ten years ago from Bordeaux where he was wine-maker at first-growth estate Lafite-Rothschild.

After almost a year of searching, he found a long, low farmhouse at the foot of the hill, just back from the sea and overlooking two vineyards – La Riviere Haut and La Riviere Bas – whose names recall the ancient river which once flowed here and result in two very different terroirs for winemaking.

The vineyard just below the farmhouse is mainly rocks washed down the hill of La Clape where old bush vines produce the concentrated, mineral whites that go into the Grand Vin Blanc. A row of almond trees marks a border with the next vineyard which is made of pebbly alluvial soils where Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre grow to make ripe gamey reds.

Chateau d’Angles produces five wines of all colours – an entry-level classique white, fermented in vats, whilst the Grand Vin adds some aging in oak for more texture; a red-berry rose with fresh acidity; a classique red and the Grand Vin rouge.

With the winery just a few metres from the vineyards, early-morning picking ensures freshness whilst the hillside location allows for gravity-based settling preserving flavour.

Whilst the red grapes are the familiar Languedoc GSM, the whites are more unusual – a mix of Bourboulenc, Roussane and Marsanne which are all more at home in the Rhone, as well as Grenache Gris.

The white have aromas of beeswax, sweet spice and honeysuckle – the reds have ripe bramble fruit, pepperiness and very fine, perfectly ripe tannins; both wines are big and warming.

After a tour of the vineyards and the winery, including samples from vat and barrel, we had lunch with winemaker Eric, wife Christine and local ex-pat PR, Louise Hurren.

Christine had prepared a starter of parma ham with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts which Eric matched with a 2001 white, his first vintage, which showed incredible freshness and just the merest hints of aged character.

 

The main of guinea fowl was matched to a 2005 red which, again, felt like it was only just ready for drinking and surely has many more years’ life in it.

A week’s accommodation at Chateau d’Angles costs from €640 to €1500 all taxes included

To book: contact Christine Fabre: info@chateaudangles.com or phone +33 619 58 15 68

Chateau d’Angles wines are available from Ocado and Wine Rack at £12 for the classiques and £20 for the Grands Vins.

Film Review: The Lone Ranger

DIGI-LR-60x50-SQUARE-BB-v1-0B-jpg_202507The Lone Ranger is the Walt Disney remake of the American television series of the same name from 1952. The setting is the Wild West and tells the tale of how a man of the law gets transformed into a legend known only as “The Lone Ranger”. The story follows The Lone Ranger (relative newcomer Armie Hammer, known for his dual role as the Winklevoss twins in “The Facebook”) and his trusted companion Tonto (played by Johnny Depp), on an adventure as they right the wrongs of evil doers and dish out their own unique brand of western justice.

Though very entertaining, the movie fails short when compared to the Series in my opinion. The movie misses its audience by being given the “Disney” treatment. For fans of the old series that ran in syndication for many years the movie misses this audience. The Lone Ranger movie appeals to a younger audience with its Disney humor placed throughout the film where there should have only been action, but with a PG-13 rating (for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material), misses this audience as well. There were only adults present at the viewing I attended. Even with that being said the movie still managed to be entertaining.

I would rate the Lone Ranger a 7 out of 10 stars. The ending clearly leaves the option for a sequel but the box office numbers will ultimately dictate the need.

Photo reproduced from movies.yahoo.com

TV Review: Da Vinci’s Demons – The Lovers

DaVinci's Demons, 2013

Titled The Lovers (in keeping with the Tarot-themed titles of each episode), the most recent Da Vinci’s Demons episode is significantly stronger the previous one. Unlike the last episode, the two main plot-lines of the programme (Da Vinci searching for the mysterious Book of Leaves and the political dealings of the Medici family) feel more cohesive and complementary to each other. The show seems to have sorted its crisis of identity; it was previously swinging between magical adventure and family-fuelled intrigue. The Lovers still contains these elements, but they feel far more interlinked. Without spoiling any details, the episode’s climactic ending involves Da Vinci essentially having to choose between following his own swashbuckling adventures and becoming involved in the politics and intrigue that he nothing to do with in the last episode. For the first time, Da Vinci’s Demons has found its balance between the two different things that it wishes to be. The Lovers is filled with interesting character interactions (mostly exposition, but interesting exposition). Da Vinci (Tom Riley) begins the episode by criticising the mysticism of Al-Rahim (Alexander Siddig); firmly establishing himself as a man of reason and not of magic. One could possibly read this as the smallest of references to the historical Da Vinci’s impact on the age of reason. Da Vinci is displayed demonstrating his remarkable intellect in this episode; very different from the previous episode in which he seemingly conjured a diving suit from absolutely nowhere. It is much easier for viewers to believe Da Vinci to be the genius the rest of the characters claim him to be when we get to see his remarkable mind working through problems. A sequence in which he deduces the location of a missing compass is not too dissimilar to BBC’s Sherlock (complete with little white captions floating around Da Vinci’s head).

The secondary plot of the episode continues to develop the double dealings of the Medici and Pazzi Florentine families. Hoping to secure a lasting peace between them, Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan) intends to marry his brother to a Pazzi daughter. His plans are scuppered by the actions of Laura Haddock’s Lucrezia, who continues to pursue her own objectives regardless of what stands in her way. At times, the constantly shifting political allegiances and strategies can become confusing unless one is paying attention. At one point, a character seemingly shifts his loyalty despite having little reason to do so. Later in the episode, a character that was teased to be dead miraculously appears alive and well… and is then promptly murdered. It is hard to deduce whether the writers lack direction or if they’re attempting the mimic the “political intrigue means that any character can be killed off at any time” formula that Game of Thrones has managed so well. The episode is certainly not without its problems. Blake Ritson continues to act like a pantomime villain in the role of Riario; he has even donned a pair of ludicrously anachronistic sunglasses just to emphasise how evil he is (as if the costuming dept of the show agree with Ritson that Riario should be ridiculous). Many of the episode’s other performers are underwhelming and seem to appear just to remind the audience that they exist. The mythology back-story of the show is also sidelined somewhat which is a pity as it is very interesting. However, despite its faults, this episode is certainly a step in the right direction for Da Vinci’s Demons. The previously binary nature of the programme seems to have been replaced with a more cohesive tone. If it continues in this direction, the show might finally start to live up to its full potential.