This review contains spoilers for episodes four and five of the Netflix series, Marco Polo.
So I’m combining my review for these two episodes since the main plot of these two episodes flow into one another. The episodes finds Kublai questioning Marco’s allegiance and then giving him an ultimatum about what to do with his father and uncle, who had recently returned from their travels. The two committed crimes against the Khan, and for that they were to be punished, it was up to young Polo. Before Marco can give Kublai his opinion, the two are attacked by assassins, who successfully poison Kublai Khan. Polo then must determine where the assassins came from and goes on a journey to figure it out.
I’d say I liked both episodes equally. The acting was still great and the story following Marco Polo was probably the most interesting that he’s been involved in. The fifth episode in particular was placed almost solely on his shoulders and he did so to great effect. His story is finally reaching a point where it’s interesting without Kublai Khan. That being said, the series still needs him and the fifth episode sort of floundered without his presence in the majority of it. The side plots going on in the episode were interesting enough, but they were lacking the gravitas that Kublai Khan provides in the show. When he’s on screen, I can’t take my eyes off of it. That’s in no way a criticism of the show or the lead actor, the writers just did a great job making Kublai more interesting than I had previously thought.
Both episodes had their fair share of nudity, but the fifth episode might have had the strangest orgy in the history of TV. I can’t even explain it, it’s that weird. I do find it unfortunate that the series feels that it has to rely on gratuitous female nudity to succeed since the show contains great action and an interesting story without it. There’s no sign the nudity will cease, but at this point all the people who didn’t like that aspect of the show have probably quit watching it.
While both episodes had a lot of meat, and I don’t mean like that, they were probably the weakest of the show. They weren’t bottle episodes, nor were they boring in the slightest, but compared to earlier episodes, it left a lot to be desired.