Medici: The Magnificent season 2 premiere recap: Old Scores


An assassination attempt kicks off the action in episode 1 of Netflix series Medici: The Magnificent. Is Jacopo de’ Pazzi the assassin?

The episode begins in Florence, Italy, on April 26, 1478. Out of context, we see Jacopo de’ Pazzi (Sean Bean) engaged in a sword fight. What is the likely cause of the fierce battle? The rest of the episode provides some hints.

Tuscany, 1469

We see brothers Lorenzo (Daniel Sharman) and Giuliano de’ Medici (Bradley James) with their father Piero (Julian Sands) and artist Sandro Botticelli (Sebastian de Souza).

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While discussing their contributions to the culture of Florence, Piero says to Lorenzo, “Enjoy the wine of youth.” It seems prescient, as before very long, father Medici and his sons have their horse-drawn carriage ambushed. Deadly arrows cause the horses to panic, sending the carriage crashing. As the horses flee to an unknown fate, the Medici’s are faced with theirs.

Piero gets an arrow in his upper thigh, while Lorenzo ends up killing the assailant in self-defense.

For obvious reasons, a meeting is held (called a “priori”), where the attack is discussed. Lorenzo almost immediately blames disloyalty among someone at the meeting. Nevertheless, it’s implied that Lorenzo’s words aren’t to stir people to scandalous anger, but are mere suggestions of fact.

Lorenzo apparently wishes to avoid war. However, after the meeting, many people privately seem to implicate Jacopo de’ Pazzi in the attack. Lorenzo’s mother Lucrezia (Sarah Parish) seems fearful yet guarded. Meanwhile, Contessina (Annabel Scholey) tells her son about his future as a leader, boldly telling him, “Let the fear drive you.”

Jacopo the assassin and other brewing scandals

Medici: The Magnificent gives more insight to the possible intrigue, as Lorenzo’s sister, Bianca de’ Medici (Aurora Ruffino) asks her lover Bastiano (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) if his uncle Jacopo was behind the attack. Due to this crisis, they fear losing their lives if they openly profess their love. Soon after, Bastiano does ask about his uncle’s involvement but is met with stonewalling.

Meanwhile, Galeazzo Sforza, the Duke of Milan, meets Piero Medici to discuss the Duke’s debts.

Galleazzo suggests Venetians ordered the assassination attempt, and stresses that the Medici are allies to Milan. Then, in a sweeping gesture, Galleazzo offers to crush Medici’s enemies to settle his people’s debts. Most certainly against his better judgment, Piero reluctantly agrees. Soon after, it’s revealed that the Pazzi seal was found in an assassin’s bags at an inn.

Obviously, this means Jacopo de’ Pazzi (or someone close to him) may have been involved. Lorenzo, however, isn’t so quick to place blame. He advises, “If we want justice then we’ll treat others justly.” In start contrast to that, Lorenzo’s brother Giuliano slashes Pazzi with a sword.

The Medici insolvency, the Pazzi insurgency and the wolf at the door

Though times seem different now, the world of Medici: The Magnificent isn’t entirely alien to ours. Here they deal with a debt crisis, and merchants are not happy with the de facto rulers of Florence for recalling their loans. Lorenzo is confronted by an angry merchant who seems joyful that Piero was attacked. He says ” Those arrows came from the heavens!”

In other words, this episode can provide insight into how some feel when loans are recalled. In fact, Piero’s deal with the Duke of Milan would see the city be besieged (and, apparently, the real Galeazzo Sforza had a very brutal reputation, which Medici: The Magnificent barely scratches the surface of as of yet).

Soon, in another priori meeting, Jacopo Pazzi pleads his case against the assassination attempt accusation. Discussing the coin found in the assassin’s bag, he asks why he would pay an assassin with a second-hand medal from a marketplace and not untraceable gold from their bank.

It’s actually a valid point, and it seems like it could be a frame job. Also, Pazzi offers to forgive Giuliano’s sword swipe if he apologizes. Lorenzo apologizes for him, leaving the question: How did the medallion get into the assassin’s room?

However, Pazzi is not really about peace, as he’s putting up a front. The Pazzi family have been telling everyone the Medici are insolvent, destabilizing not only the economy but relations between them and their allies.

Correspondingly, Florentine merchants use Pazzi banks instead. They also beat up on Giuliano in an alleyway. Francesco de’ Pazzi (Matteo Martari) challenges Giuliano: “Good luck inventing evidence that I had anything to do with this.”

However, right at the zero hour (as Galleazzo is getting ready to siege the city), Lorenzo holds an emergency meeting where he becomes a new head of the bank. He cancels the debt recalls. Meeting with Jacopo Pazzi yet again, he tells him, “Your nephew attacked my brother in the street today,” yet says they should put their feuds behind them for the future of Florence.

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Also, Bastiano and Bianca are to marry and forge an alliance. If that’s not enough, Lorenzo meets with Galleazzo to convince him not to attack, and it works. One is tempted to cheer, “Way to go, Lorenzo!” Still, it seems like a tenuous peace at best, and history seems to lie in wait.

What are your thoughts on Medici: The Magnificent? Let us know in the comments!