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Marco Polo - S01 E08

History . Drama . Adventure . Thriller
 

When Kublai sets his sights -- and his army -- on the taking of the walled city of Xiangyang, Marco's allegiance is tested.

 
Episode Title: Rendering
Airs: 2014-12-12 at 12:00 am
  • Tom Gliatto

    A fun, body-flinging, old-fashioned epic.... As Kublai Khan, British actor Benedict Wong gives an impressive performance, one of the best of the year: You absolutely believe his ruthlessness, his power and his calculating thoughtfulness. As Marco Polo, on the other hand, Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy, who looks like a more lyrical Emile Hirsch, mostly has to be put up with.

    People Weekly Full Review
  • Mekeisha Madden Toby

    Ultimately, once viewers overcome the sluggish pace there’s something for everyone with Marco Polo. History lovers will enjoy Googling along with the series as historical names and battles are introduced while martial arts fans will appreciate the intricately choreographed fight scenes. Although the series isn’t as riveting as “Game of Thrones,” strong performances and impeccable visuals make it worthy of a watch on a slow and rainy afternoon.

    The Wrap Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    Marco Polo's pilot blows. The premise is stale, a riff on the Western-white-guilt stranger-in-a-strange-land-goes-native genre.... Somewhere in the middle of episode 2, though, Marco Polo becomes surprisingly watchable. The filmmaking becomes bolder.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Gail Pennington

    Beautiful but dull, at least in the early going.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Curt Wagner

    Marco Polo flits between storytelling styles without completely tying them together as successfully as "Game of Thrones" does.... By the fifth and sixth episodes the action picks up, the intrigue deepens and the stakes some higher.

    RedEye Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    The lavishly produced, and reportedly mega-expensive, Marco Polo can be a feast for the eyes, even when the overripe dialogue ("Treachery grows well in the fertile soil of contempt I tilled") and uneven performances feel dramatically undernourished.

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • David Hiltbrand

    Shot primarily in Kazakhstan and Malaysia, the series is richly atmospheric, lavishly produced, and artfully rendered. But you may find that the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It doesn't work nearly as well as drama as it does as sheer spectacle.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    Good-looking--also lethargic, languid, listless and a little bit lifeless--at least in the early going.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Joshua Alston

    Marco Polo doesn’t stack up to the political maneuverings and bloody battles within the Seven Kingdoms, and so often resembles George R.R. Martin fan-fiction, it seems wiser to revisit the superior show.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Robert Lloyd

    Every so often the production does wake up, with a sudden brawl or assassination attempt--these scenes at least have energy and sometimes emotion--before settling back into a state of mildly agitated, interwoven intrigue.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Tim Goodman

    Creatively, it’s just a middling mess--something so average that a basic cable channel could have duplicated it without all the foreign travel for about $84 million less.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    There is a lot of violence in it, and a whole lot of nudity, and there are superb performances, all of which are undermined by ponderously self-important writing and direction.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    While Marco Polo possesses scope, scale and an inordinate amount of exposed skin, the series exhibits only a sporadic pulse. That leaves a property that can be fun taken strictly on its own terms, but deficient in the binge-worthy qualities upon which Netflix’s distribution system has relied.

    Variety Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    A dull period drama without characters to care about or a narrative in which to invest.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    Clearly what Netflix hopes you'll see a big-bucks, prestige entertainment along the lines of that HBO fantasy epic, but in truth, Marco is far closer to one of those cheesy international syndicated adventures.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Margaret Lyons

    The show is vacant and uninspiring, so much so that I'd rather fill my imaginary home with ball utensils than watch Marco Polo.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Neil Genzlinger

    It would have been nice to see someone take the successful “Game of Thrones” formula and expand on or enhance it, but Marco Polo ends up skeletonizing it.... The show’s most egregious flaw, though, is its exploitation of female characters.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    The first hour is a deadly dull slog. Viewers get plopped into the action without much effort to provide context and then there are flashbacks to confuse matters further.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • James Poniewozik

    Making Marco Polo dumb fun would be just as legitimate as making it weighty historical realism. But the show tries to be both (sort of, though producers freely admit to playing with facts and the timeline), lurching between modes without warning.

    Time Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    The show suffers from a profound lack of momentum and meaning, with plots and subplots that are stiff and predictable.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Marco Polo might best be utilized as a sedative or sleeping pill. All those dark to pitch black exteriors and interiors seem guaranteed to prompt an onset of heavy eyelids if not a complete conk-out. And if that doesn’t get you, the ponderous pace almost certainly will.

    Uncle Barky Full Review