Netflix nailed it. Well, maybe not “nailed” it, but I thought the pilot was awesome!
Now, I know I’m a history buff, but I haven’t studied Marco Polo’s history so if it has inaccuracies I wouldn’t know. And really, it wouldn’t matter to me in the sense that this is fiction based on a historical figure. While some of the big things may or may not be correct, I’m sure the writers somewhat researched it–at least enough to make it believable.
Plot: We start off with Marco essentially being raised by his mom, who passed away in his teenage years. It didn’t really go into who raised him after, but I’m going to guess the Church because that’s where his father and him “talk.” Yep, his father returns when Marco is all grown up and ready to take on the world. Turns out, his father trades on the Silk Road for the Church (is what I’m guessing; maybe I’ll rewatch it). Now, I haven’t really studied this extensively, but I know it’s a pretty big deal; the Silk Road, that is. Anyway, his father plans to return to the Silk Road and Marco begs to go with him. Against Marco’s uncle’s protests, Marco’s father decides to bring him … only to leave him with the Khans! Okay wait, I’m jumping ahead. Back up.
So, the journey is harsher than Marco realized, but he’s a trooper and doesn’t let his uncle or his father’s scare tactics derail his desire to be a part of the journey. He even stops his uncle from killing the Priests/Bishops who traveled with them because they chickened out. Of course his father and uncle go into the whole “You know nothing!” trip, which is a bit accurate, but they ignore Marco’s bravado.
And they end up at Kublai Khan’s court. And Kublai Khan’s pissed because Marco’s father didn’t bring the priests he was promised. And so, in a rash decision, Marco’s father offers his son to stay with the court because Khan is somewhat impressed by an answer Marco gave. And his father and his uncle leaves Marco to the Khans. And this journey gets interesting.
I skimmed over the details, obviously, but it was well put together and I enjoy the story line thus far. It’s piqued my interest. Why, oh, why did his father leave him there after so many years of separation? (My guess is because it was the only way to ensure they all survive, Marco included, since the priests chickened out. Oh, and that would somewhat curb Khan’s wrath enough to continue open trade on Silk Road. Why does Khan want to train Marco? (Is it just because he wants to pass on their culture? Know thy enemy? What?)
Anyway, good beginning.
Lorenzo Richelmy did a good job as Marco. I’m excited for his career ahead and hope this opens doors for him. Benedict Wong as Kublai was awesome. He portrayed the fearless war lord well, in my humble opinion. He’s in all 10 episodes as well, so … can’t wait. There are other interesting characters, but this Pilot mainly focused on these two, so I’m curious to see where this leads to.
Overall, Marco Polo looks very promising and I’m glad to have it on my watch list.