Trust me I wouldn’t be talking(writing) about Marco Polo if I didn’t think it was worth it. I just finished binge watching season 2 last night and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed one bit. Yes in terms of scale and production Value GOT definitely trumps Marco Polo but it has to be said that it MP makes up for it in palace intrigue and multiple subplots that come together in an impressive and immersive 10 episodes.
There are not many shows that deliver on multiple levels as Marco Polo right now and for it’s chutzpah I am really impressed. A whole new world in the east is introduced before us over two seasons and we gradually see how great a role the Mongolian Empire played in birthing what later became subsequent dynasties in ancient China.
A lot of people might not be willing to give Marco Polo a chance but I feel that would be somewhat foolhardy giving the reward of both a little bit of historical education along with quality entertainment the season promises, and I am not just exaggerating when I say it isn’t a bad substitute for Game of Thrones even if there are no dragons or white walkers.
From the onset we are introduced to the curious, naive but knowledgeable Marco as he forcefully travels with his trader father across the vast lands of the east and further into the North across the treacherous Gobi desert. Things don’t particularly seem interesting but the minute young Marco comes face to face with the great Kublai Khan you begin to realize the true potential for how far this story can go. Gradually the story helps in introducing this most intriguing Royal court comprised of the usual loyalist, royal prisoners, bastards and traitors. Most important of them all turns out to be the great Wudang monk who trains Marco, there’s the snaky Yusuf and the ambiguous but wise Ahmad. 100 eyes is both captivating and gracious as he delivers both dialogues and martial art moments that make Marco Polo memorable.
Other characters such as Prince Jingim, Empress Chabi and Princess Kokachin have their moments but to be honest, they never truly come into their own till the second season and after almost a year’s wait it turns out to be truly worth the wait. We do hope Marco Polo season 2 manages to surpass the heights of season 1 as we believe that is a critical yardstick it requires to get a 3rd season greenlit.
If you’re curious enough you might as well do a bit of historical research on what promises to be a formidable plot regarding the legendary Prester John for an as yet announced season 3. In the meantime, enjoy Season 2. I sure did.
Lest I forget, special mention must be made of the amazing actors on this show, starting foremost with the brilliant Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan and Lorenzo Richelmy as the titular Marco Polo. It’s amazing how they managed to get the legendary Michelle Yeoh on but her addition definitely raised the show’s value several notches higher.