Marco Polo is hot and there are naked chicks swordfighting. Sydney and I rate each episode of Netflix’s new drama based on how many times one of the most famous travelers ever appears shirtless (and how many naked girls there are) in the most epic, horrible bingewatch of the holiday season.
The reviews are out. There’s not much more anybody else out there can tell you … but when it comes down to talking politics with Aunt Judy or staring at your family in silence, everyone gets a little desperate. Marco Polo is a pretty tough sell, except for the saving grace that Lorenzo Richelmy is easy on the eyes. And there are naked Asian chicks everywhere. Like everywhere. Someone is just screaming the word “fetish” somewhere.
Truth be told, some of the cinematography and locales are stunning. But there’s not much redeeming value, even if Marco Polo is one of the most famous travelers in history. Bingewatching the show could be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, right up there with the time I walked into a mirror. I’ve had nights in college that involved keg stands that lost less brain cells than this. I warned you.
For historical background, the show takes place during the Yuan dynasty in the 1200s. It is the only dynasty that the Mongols ruled China. For the record, Genghis Khan actually never ruled in China but his grandson, Kublai Khan, did. But to review this show on actual plot would be hearsay.
If you’re determined to watch it for the eye candy, there are episodes to skip and ones to watch. Each page contains spoilers and a final nakedness tally separated by episode. Asterisks in the tallies denote extra skin or where a weapon is involved (you’ll have to watch to find out).
Sexiest Episode: Episode 5, Episode 3 as runner-up
Unsexiest Episode: Episode 7, Episode 10. Tie.
Episode 1: The Wayfarer
Marco can somehow speak Uighur and Mongol but everyone speaks in English. Like a proper Italian, Marco can apparently charm women and the Khan with his words. Thankfully, the script writers have gifted Marco with daddy issues so he can wallow in brooding angst for the rest of the series. Someone has clearly been taking notes from Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey.
The cinematography is stunning. It’ll induce some serious wanderlust, in fact, though I have no desire to travel by camel for days. I have no idea why Marco is crawling on the sand like a noob while everybody walks on, except for sole dramatic effect. Thank god we no longer travel like it’s 1271.
The Khan’s son, Prince Jimgim, seems like a chump.
Down south, Ji Sidao, mantis man, has the worst accent I’ve ever heard in my life. Did the producers just pick up a random Chinese dude off the street and ask whether they’d want to play a sleazy, wormy Chinese prime minister? Don’t worry, no acting skills required.
Marco enters to what seems to be The Matrix.
It’s not hard to conclude the producers must have spent all of the money on sets and costuming. They should have paid the writers and actors a little bit more. There’s only seven minutes left? Oh man, it’s going to be a long day.
The episode ends with Marco entering a nightclub.
Shirtless Marco: 2*
Naked Girls: 4
Episode 2: The Wolf and the Deer
Every time this show fails me, it comes back with some awesome scenery. Kazhakstan, I am so coming. Marco begins a Great Adventure with the Tax Collector.
Eventually, Marco gets to finally speak to his love interest, the Blue Princess, after being cockblocked in the previous episode. Totally not stalking at all.
Marco accompanies Jingim, the Khan’s son who doesn’t like Marco at all, to visit with Kublai Khan’s brother Ariq. There’s some fishy business going on in a Mongolian yurt. Everyone seems to really like to refer to each other by Title and Stereotype in this series, so I therefore dub Marco Hottie from here on out.
He’s clearly dealing with some culture shock and attempts to escape. The guy from the Matrix convinces him to stay. I’m sure there’s a hot chick involved in Marco’s decision somewhere.
It’s discovered the Tax Collector has been shortchanging the Khan. The Khan punishes him.
Meanwhile, down south, the current Song Emperor has died. In order to save herself, the Royal Concubine must fight naked. I wonder how much you have to pay someone in order for them to do it on TV? I guess everyone has a price. I’m close to proclaiming Sidao as Peter Baelish. Except Peter Baelish is infinitely more terrifying.
The fat man somehow wins in the end. I mostly find this episode to be quite boring because the lack of gratuitous Marco.
Shirtless Marco: 0
Naked Girls: 1*
Episode 3: Feast
My mind feels like sludge. I’ve lost several crucial brain cells in the last two hours. In order to get through it, I promise myself a brief break to the outside world after this episode as my reward. I must press on.
Thankfully, this episode opens up to Marco shirtless.
Down in Song China, the prime minister has seemed to establish power. I wonder what kind of household he and the royal concubine grew up in given both of them fight like ninjas. They must have had one hell of a Christmas dinner growing up.
The Royal Concubine has been sent off to the Khan’s court, where she must establish herself again as another Royal Concubine. The girls are all try out for a chance on American Idol while the Empress masquerades as Simon Cowell. She is not selected, much to her chagrin.
Marco, in the meanwhile, stalks the Blue Princess, who has a fondness for hanging *gasp* blue ribbons near that darn tree. Is that seriously the only tree in Mongolia?
The Khan is having remorse about killing his brother, Ariq. He is counseled by many that the death was necessary. That’s fine; he’ll stay at home moping while Marco accompanies Jingim to a function with the Khan’s cousin. There, the Hot Italian roams the camp and catches the eye of a chick. Blue Princess rival, is that you? They play a game of Twister.
After the party, things aren’t so great in the Khan household. Jingim is like the worst petulant, third-culture kid evar. They should have sent him to Mongolian School while he was taking Chinese Studies 101. Things are amplified when the Khan takes out his anger on a bystander to prove a point to Marco: don’t you lie to me. Man, this guy can move for someone who has gout and can’t even make it to a dinner party.
Concubine finds a way to be a Royal Concubine. Marco finds an unwelcome surprise.
Shirtless Marco: 2
Naked Girls: 27
Episode 4: The Fourth Step
This episode also opens up to Marco shirtless but I don’t like to see my man suffering. Turns out the Royal Concubine is also pretty good at head massages; we already know she’s good at ‘dancing.’ I’m just glad she has not tried to ‘act’ for awhile.
Marco’s father returns. Marco is trying to get his hands on a sword to protect the Blue Princess. He ends up getting jailed, where he meets his father (great place for a family reunion). It turns out while Marco was out running and about making moon eyes at the Blue Princess, Marco’s father and uncle were trying to smuggle silkworms out of the empire.
Meanwhile, Empress Chabi is not impressed with Royal Concubine. She teaches her a thing or two.
The main thing here is that there is a parley, which I guess in ancient military khan terms means that both sides are trying to broker peace. Jingim finally seems to succeed in doing something else besides being annoying. Everything seems its ripe for a happy ending but wait…. Is that the Song ambassadors being killed? But by who?
The cricket minister is a freaking creep and deserves to be burned at the stake. Marco is ordered to decide his father’s fate.
Shirtless Marco: 1
Naked Girls: 1
Episode 5: Hashshashin
The Khan is surprised while having a heart-to-heart with Marco. Luckily, Chinese Keanu is there to save the day. It later turns out to be the work of the Hashshashin, which might as well be a Yeti monster from the way the Mongols talk about them. Fortunately, Marco heard something during his travels that might offer a clue about where these people are. He proposes a ruse.
The Blue Princess warns Marco to run.
I’m convinced that Jingim is a wannabe Joffrey at this point. He gets up in Marco’s father face while Marco is gone. I think he’s secretly jealous that the Khan never seemed to care for the way Marco’s father cared about Marco, not that he ever really seemed to care about Marco all that much. This scene is pointless.
Meanwhile, Marco rolls into town looking for the Hashshashin rather conspicuously. He might as well be wearing a sign that says “I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing” given everyone’s reaction. But we all know Marco makes this out alive because anyone with two XX chromosones will promptly stop watching this show, myself included. Plus we’re only halfway through the series with lead character.
Jingim learns that Sidao—I’ve learned the creepy minister’s name—killed the Song ambassadors. He teams up with the Minister of Finance. They clearly have some type of bromance going on.
Marco waits for the Hashshashin. His eyes are playing tricks on him! What, there are two Marcos? God bless you show producers! The Hashshashin give Marco a very, very psychedelic and gratuitous episode which is probably the only reason to watch this episode. It is revealed that whoever hired the assassins is much closer to the Khan’s home. Marco is given the opportunity to flee but Because He Has Not Hooked Up With Blue Princess yet, Marco’s going to at least stay for a couple more episodes.
Jingim sits on the Iron Throne. The Khan wakes up.
Marco’s father and uncle are branded. Personally, I’d take that over getting killed. Marco is clearly adapting to his new home and no longer has any homesickness.
Shirtless Marco: 3*
Naked Girls: We lost track.
Episode 6: White Moon
The Blue Princess is a fraud! I’m not sure why it was so necessary to kill herself like that. It’s cold in Mongolia, don’t you know? The current blue princess seems to be jealous of wrestling girl, Khutulun. Khutulun is coming to stay for good. Do I smell a possible love triangle?
BP is giving the gems to her subjects but why? I can suppose it only has something to do with the tree. That’s silly, child. Don’t you need money to run away? Stop pawning your possessions.
There is some bad blood between Jingim and a bastard son of the Khan’s. Sanga’s family is questioned because Sanga is suspected for being responsible for the assassins. Marco tries to find who Sanga’s proxy was. Is it Yusuf? It’s all very suspicious and we’ll pretty much learn nothing from this entire ideal.
Meanwhile, the Song are dealing with their own set of issues. Mei Lin, the Royal Concubine, has been asked to assassinate someone. The Royal Concubine fails to murder her target but I kinda have to give her props for the way that she chooses to do it. The Chinese Empress dismisses Sidao from his post. DISMISSED. *snaps fingers*
Marco is at this point, way too involved in Blue Princess’ junk but can’t extricate himself from what his cock is telling him to do. He gets all jels and does not bring the gemstones to that Bayaut survivor in hiding, Tulga. He confronts the girl. Erstwhile, the Empress decides it’s time to do something about the Blue Princess’ single status.
Mei Lin loses her shit and the Empress kicks some serious ass.
Shirtless Marco: 0
Naked Girls: 10*
Episode 7: The Scholar’s Pen
Warning: This is the unsexiest episode of all. Proceed at your own risk.
The kid actors of Mei Lin and Jia Sidao are, like, terrible. Whoever wrote this script is, like, terrible. Mei Lin actually tries to justify her actions after admitting that she tried to kill everyone but, seriously you gotta believe her, it wasn’t her fault. Joan Chen as Empress Chabi kicks some mother fucking ass.
Khan decides to send Chinese Keanu to assassinate Ji Sidao before the Empress Dowager’s son is coronated in Xiangyang. My mind is fading. This show reminds me of those tacky period Chinese movies that stepfather used to watch but worse. The whole point is that Marco is sent to accompany Chinese Keanu in this super important task.
The Blue Princess goes on an interview with the Empress.
Marco finally goes to China proper. The white devil gets a pass posing as a deliveryman? In 2014, maybe (that’s a hard maybe, too). In 1271, no freaking way. Marco and Chinese Keanu embark on their mission. Chinese Keanu gets dangerously close to Ji Sidao but it is suddenly unclear as to why Chinese Keanu is running out the back with Marco. I refuse to believe Chinese Keanu could not have killed Sidao with two fingers. Sidao is mad and bloody and storms the coronation while everyone shits in their pants. This makes no sense.
The Khan goes to war.
Shirtless Marco: 0
Naked Girls: 0
Episode 8: Rendering
In this episode, the Blue Princess admits she doesn’t want to run away with Tulga. I can’t really blame the girl if my options were between him and Lorenzo Richelmy, either. Either way, at the end of the day, when she breaks up with you, she really means it.
It’s unclear why the Minister of Finance and the Khan’s court is harboring Mei Lin though I really doubt it is for altruistic reasons. She attempts to be cocky though she should really be thanking her lucky stars that they spared her life. The Minister reveals that they have her daughter.
The Khan suggests another parley. Sidao isn’t aware the Empress Chabi is not dead. Predictably, the parley does not end with peace. The Khan reveals afterward that the Empress is very much alive and kicking, which means Jei Fing now has to do an elaborate dance and die by her own hand. Girl, you have the weapon in your hands.
Marco is at the front line, having a jolly old time hanging out with the captives. Later he learns that this is not a good idea when you’re dealing with the grandson of Genghis Khan. Upset, he retreats to the tent where he finds the Blue Princess where she reveals her secret vagina.
The Mongols go into battle but Marco’s story reveals the truth.
Shirtless Marco: 1*
Naked Girls: 1
Episode 9: Prisoners
Marco is in deep shit. Things aren’t looking too hot (no pun intended) for him.
Down south, Sidao has somehow managed to establish a credible claim to the throne after taking credit for the Mongol vitcory. He then manages to get rid of the last person standing in his way.
The Blue Princess gets a visit from the Empress. With an impending marriage on the horizon, she tries to escape. When that doesn’t work she tries to kill herself but out of cowardice, can’t.
There are lots of small children in this episode including the little Chinese Emperor who can’t do anything for himself. I hope none were scarred in the making of this television show. Finally, the Empress lets Mei Lin know that she has her daughter and that she’s under her control.
Marco claims he knows the secret to winning the war and it all has to do with a catapult, he proclaims to Yusuf in jail. It’s right around this moment that Yusuf admits to the assasination attempt in an effort to slow down Kublai, and counsels the Khan that Polo should be his successor.
Shirtless Marco: 0
Naked Girls: 1*
Episode 10: The Heavenly And Primal
Warning: This is also another unsexy episode. Proceed at your own risk.
Everyone is really tense. Like really tense! Meanwhile, I’m staring at the clock because I am less than an hour away from freedom! Did you know each episode is a full 60 minutes long, not a shortchanged 45 minutes? What I would do to exchange Marco Polo’s running time with Homeland’s.
The Blue Princess is tested for her virginity and passes. In a last ditch attempt, she asks Marco to run away with her. Marco refuses, knowing they will be hunted down.
Jingim makes it clear to Marco that he won’t fight in battle unless he happens to win a hand-to-hand combat with Marco. Marco succeeds. I zone out… wait, we’re already on the battlefield? Surprisigly, the action sequences aren’t half bad in this show.
Marco’s catapult is tested. Kinda anticlimatic there. The second time, it hits the walls. People get excited; some serious, serious war faces are made. The Chinese have… guns? Que? Upon news Jingim has fallen, Marco rushes inside the city.
He ends up finding Sidao but then is proceeded to get his ass handed on a platter. Then, miraculously, Chinese Keanu comes back! Keanu moves like he is from the future, I swear. Things are better this time around and Kublai comes inside the city. Is Kublai crying?
Everyone seems caught up in the aftermath celebrations. Mei Lin attempts to escape but then stumbles across a painting the Minister of Finance has commissioned. The cliffhanger is set up for Season 2.
I’m done. I wash my face, exit my apartment and make my way toward the Great Blue Sky.
Shirtless Marco: 0
Naked Girls: 0
Did you like this article? 1