Netflix Revives Their Relationship with RAI
After a long wait 'Medici: Masters of Florence' has finally arrived for its second season
Movies go beyond an entertaining sightseeing experience. They’re an hourglass that can spin and turn us into history. Period pieces are one of the most popular forms of the cinematic medium, and it’s no wonder why. They show us something that we have never (and can never) experience besides from the confinements of textbooks and school.
I’m not saying that most of these period pieces are accurate, but they demonstrate that some of the most interesting stories come from reality, not just fiction (although I love a sci-fi thriller every once in a while). Films make the past meld with the present in a way that involves the audience. Can we learn from these works? Yeah sure, but do we have to take their “facts” with a grain of salt? Absolutely, but then again, that’s with any piece of artwork.
Since Netflix premiered its Italian television series Medici: Masters of Florence in 2016, there’s been a spark of interest for its continuation. The series explores the complex lives of the most famous bankers in all of European history, the Medici. Diving into subplots of treason, economics, and warfare, the show always gave the customer a reason to click “play next episode.” When the first season ended, it had many of us begging for more, until we forgot about its existence. Finally after waiting for three years, season two has been released and it’s good. Not like oh, it’s alright… it’s good!
Shows and movies it's similar to are: Reign, The Last Kingdom, Vikings, Mary Queen of Scots, The Favourite, The Duchess, Outlander, The Tudors, and your past life.
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD — READ AT YOUR DISCRETION
Season two changed the name from Masters of Florence to Medici: The Magnificent simply because this season takes place around 20 years after the first one ended. So, sorry to all of those who wanted a continuation of the first one. We now follow the life of a young Lorenzo de’ Medici (Daniel Sharman), who is also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, as he takes over as head of the Medici bank following the mysterious death of his father.
He must defend both the city of Florence from outside threats, as well as keep his family safe as another rival banking family, the Pazzi led by Jacopo de’ Pazzi (Sean Bean), struggle to destroy the Medici and their reputation.
Netflix and RAI (Italian television network) does an exceptional job of balancing the storylines of multiple family members, as well as the conflicts that surround them. The brilliant thing with period dramas in general is that there never is one specific antagonist—there’s always at least 100, and it’s because everyone’s loyalties can be bought. It’s difficult as a writer to manage who might be good in one episode and who is planning a subtle betrayal in another, but that’s what makes this show good (and the introduction song, which is haunting, yet beautiful).
One of my favorite moments has to be in the last two episodes. Using some of the best suspense I’ve seen within 20 minutes, the finale demonstrates the moral collapse of Lorenzo. At the beginning of the show, he is always willing to negotiate and find peaceful means to keep Florence serene. Yet, with death all around him by the last hour, he realizes that the only way to stay in power and be recognized is through fear…
That’s the Machiavellian leader we all know and love.
“Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to maintain his position to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.” – Machiavelli’s The Prince
The way that Lorenzo’s fall is shown visually on screen is masterfully done. Ever inch of pain that Lorenzo is about to feel can be foreshadowed with quick cuts, slow motion, music, and precise editing. We find ourselves begging the screen to be merciful; to not kill. However, with a show about the Medici, misfortune and grief must always appear at the end.
History isn’t full of happy endings, but fiction is, and that’s what makes this genre so intriguing.
…And people say that time travel isn’t possible. To them I say, watch this.