I have to admit, I was very pleasantly surprised when I started watching Netflix’s Marco Polo. I was expecting a show that relied heavily on history to support its plots, but discovered that the show has a much more emotional human side than I thought it would. I also imagined that Marco Polo would be the only focus of the show, but no, each character has their own hidden agendas just waiting to be revealed.
The opening credits of the show is meant to draw viewers into the past. We see pictures slowly being drawn in a spilled ink effect that is obviously meant to resemble pictures on a map. We see warriors, raging horses, and victims spitted on sticks.
The series begins with showing Marco Polo (played by Lorenzo Richelmy), his father, and his uncle traveling on ships from Italy and being taken to the vast castle of Kublai Khan (played by Benedict Wong) in Mongolia, China. We see a glimpse of Polo’s estranged relationship with his father and before long, Polo finds himself trapped in the kingdom of Khan as an enslaved prisoner. The costumes on the show are amazing. The women wear elaborate headdresses with dangling head pieces and the warriors wear thick armor with gruesome face shields. The deserts with its rolling hills and patches of distant trees are a perfect backdrop to the stories that Netflix tells us on this show.
Marco Polo is not the only interesting character on the show. Kublai Khan is represented as a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders-yet he wants nothing more than to conquer that world. Kublai Khan’s son Jingim is a young man who yearns to please his father, but his eagerness just pushes him further into his father’s shadow. We also meet a harlot with deadly fighting skills who doubles as a spy and whose heart is softened only by the love of her young daughter and finally a blind slave who teaches Marco Polo the art of Kung Fu. There are other characters worth mentioning, but I’ll leave it to you to discover their unique traits for yourselves.
I would recommend this show to fans of Game of Thrones, (just a note that I love Game of Thrones) but with a few catches. This show, although it does contain some nudity, is not necessarily as heavy on the intimate scenes as Game of Thrones. It also is not necessarily as action packed. When I think of Game of Thrones, I think of episodes that contain “little punches” that lead up to a much bigger punch at the end of each season. I would describe Marco Polo as a show that is more subtle. It relies more on each character outsmarting the other as opposed to outright violence with every single character. To an extent, wit alone is what allows some of the characters to survive. Admittedly, I am still in the process of watching Season 1 on Netflix, but I was so taken by the visuals on the show and the stories behind each of the characters that I felt compelled to share them with you. Although the show is still fairly new, I am genuinely interested in seeing the backstory of how some of the characters came to be in the situations they are in.
If you’re interested in seeing the show for yourself, Season 1 is now available to stream on Netflix. The good news is that Netflix has ordered episodes for Season 2, so there is still time for more character development and for you to get caught up, of course!
Here is a trailer from Season 1 to peak your interest:
Also, weird side note: does anyone else think the actor who plays Marco Polo looks a wee bit like a young Bam Margera from back in the day?
Have you checked out Marco Polo? Take to the comments to tell us what you think.