|Season 1, Episode 3|
The Wolf and the Deer
The Fourth Step
Previously on Marco Polo, the Song emperor died and left Jia Sidao and his top lieutenant in charge, Mei Lin was sent off to seduce and destroy Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong), and Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) watched Kublai Khan kill his own brother to unify Mongolia. Also a tax collector was killed for stiffing the government.
The episode begins with a scene where a young man with a scar across his face sits on the desert floor. The scene pans across his right, moving to slowly capture his visage: that of abject terror and resignation. In the background, we hear the sounds of blade meeting flesh as whoever it was slowly approaches the youth. The footsteps closes in on the youth and a shadow was cast on his face. The scene fades to black as we hear the blade swinging down.
Hundred Eyes (Tom Wu) is giving Marco a lesson on what Kung Fu truly represents. It’s not merely a fighting style; it’s “supreme skill from hard work.” Apparently, Sidao did not like hearing that the soldiers call him the “Cricket Minister.” Summoning the general and the army, he picks China’s greatest warrior and challenges him to a fight. Sidao easily defeats the warrior and kills him by snapping his neck.
Back at Karakorum, Kublai Khan prepares for war. Kublai Khan’s cousin, Kaidu, is completely ready to fight. He invites the Khan to his encampment for a feast in his honor. A few servants come in to deliver a tribute from Jia Sidao. The tribute turns out to be a bunch of severed heads of the soldiers from Xiang Yang. The scar on the head Kublai is holding is revealed to be the young man from the beginning of the episode.
Mei Lin arrives in Karakorum and she is brought to the harem for “auditions.” This includes being stripped naked and told that her life depends on how well she can perform in bed. Fun. On a more romantic note, Marco follows the Blue Princess, Kokachin (Zhu Zhu ), to the stables, and then out onto the hill. He watches as she once more hides something under the tree and ties a blue ribbon on one of the branches. Ffter she leaves, he sees a random person approach the tree to retrieve the buried item. Following the person, Marco observes the person attempting to sell the trinket in a seedy bar to another person. He decides to bust in and ruin the deal because he wants it. He gets into a bar brawl and one of Kublai Khan’s minister is there, in the corner, rolling his eyes. Meanwhile, Kokachin’s tough servant confronts her about the recklessness involved in selling her treasures to potential adversaries in strange taverns. They have a moment where they talk about how they are best friends. Later, Hundred Eyes lets Marco know that he, too, should stay away from the pretty princess. Why? All her family and friends are dead. Kublai Khan summons Marco to his pagoda so they can talk about Cain and Abel and the Khan’s guilt. Marco is also told that he’s going to go to Kaidu’s feast.
The Empress (Joan Chen) and Ahmed (Mahesh Jadu ) have a conversation about money and plotting while watching Mei Lin “audition.” As it turns out, the Empress was not impressed with Mei Lin’s prowess. Evidently, the Khan has a much higher standard for sex than the old Song emperor. While this is going on, Jia Sidao enlists Mei Lin’s friend to watch after Ling Ling. Evidently, he doesn’t want to watch a little girl play dress up as he’s trying to plot the downfall of the Mongolian Empire. Prince Jingim (Remy Hii), Princess Kokachin, and Marco Polo arrive at Kaidu’s big party. There’s already some awkwardness because Kublai Khan couldn’t make it because of his gout, and Kaidu isn’t buying it, but he’s got to take it. Besides drinking and eating, the big event at Kaidu’s party is wrestling and the best wrestler probes to be his daughter, Khutulun (Claudia Kim). It is noted that Khutulun is one of the most powerful women who ever lived. It was said that any man who wanted to marry her had to beat her in a wrestling match. The khan proclaimed that if any man won, she would marry he, but if she won, she got the challenger horses. She wound up getting 10,000 horses and the musical Turandot is about her.
Marco meets Khutulun and they flirt. She compares him to a pale flower, and he appreciates it. She wants to know if the women he’s conquered melt in his hands, and he replies with“Like snow in the desert.” When she asks him if he knows how to wrestle he confidently replies. She wrestles him to the ground and has surprise sex with him.
Back at Karakorum, Kublai Khan has to deal with his wife trying to advise him on war, gout, and crippling guilt. Hundred Eyes tries to give him a cryptic pep talk. It’s not as fun as what’s happening at the party. Everyone is having fun drinking, flirting, and making fun of Marco Polo’s Venetian customs. But then, Kaidu starts making complaints on Jingim. "What’s wrong with Jingim?" It is believed he is a bad general and that Jingim ethnicity is half Chinese. Meanwhile, Khutulun goes to town wrestling other for fun and Marco finally learns that Khutulun is a great Mongolian warrior and she’s supposed to be a virgin. Yep. Marco is like, “Oh, did I do that?” To help Jingim avoid an embarrassing moment, the now overconfident Marco volunteers to wrestle a big Mongolian for everyone’s amusement. It’s does not turn out that well. In fact, he almost gets choked to death. But then, Khutulun comes to the rescue and makes it clear that Marco was not the first man to conquer her; he was just a bit of fun for her to have.
A petulant Jingim confronts his father about abandoning him to the party. Kublai Khan explodes and shoves the prince to the floor. Jingim goads Kublai to kill him, but his father pauses, sits, and tells him a story about how his uncle tried to cheat death by sacrificing a member of his family. Kublai Khan’s father volunteered and saved his brother’s life. But, it turns out that it was all a story made up to cover up the fact that Jingim’s grandfather drank himself to death. This is all to tell Jingim that he needs to man up and act more like a Mongol. Later, Kublai Khan asks Marco if everyone was condescending to Jingim at the party and Marco diplomatically says they treated the prince with respect. Khan explains that if Marco lies about that it endangers the entire empire, and his lies should be punished. Kublai Khan beats a servant to death to show Marco that he means business (and to stop that servant from spreading gossip about Kublai Khan letting the lying Marco Polo live). Mei Lin is worried about not being picked to be a royal consort, so she does the logical thing. She slashes one of the girls who was chosen on the cheek with a knife so she can replace her. When the Empress walks in on Mei Lin sleeping with the Khan, it becomes clear that the two women know that they are one another’s adversaries. The episode ends with an enraged Marco riding to Kokachin’s tree. He uncovers a silk purse under the tree by the Blue Princess. What was thought to be jewelry is revealed to be a snake. The episode ends with the snake lunging at the camera.
- Starring cast member Pierfrancesco Favino (Niccolò Polo) is not credited and does not appear in this episode.
|Season One Episodes||edit|