|Rick Yune as Kaidu, head of the House of Ögedei|
So not only did I push through and finish Marco Polo, I've rewatched the episodes multiple times and come to the conclusion that we need a second season. Let me be clear: we don't need a second season because the first was so great. But when you have a cast this awesome, and this diverse, you need a Season 2 to fix everything that was wrong with Season 1. For example:
1) Rename the goddamn show. Just about every critique I've read has confirmed that nobody cares about Marco Polo. As much as I enjoy hearing an Italian actor learn British English on the job, let's be honest: Benedict Wong runs this. This show is about the Khan.
2) Lose the Asian fetishism and do right by the female characters. We get it. White guys love Asian chicks and enjoy watching them do shit like naked kung fu.
Olivia Cheng, honey...sister...why, boo? Why?
Mongolian women in particular were powerful and influential during this era; they were warriors who rode horses and did archery as well as the men. Reducing them to court ladies in pretty clothes (when they actually get to be clothed) with few lines and no character development is beyond insulting...especially when one such character is being portrayed by Joan Chen.
3) We need more Rick Yune. Season 1 was appallingly stingy with this guy, which was detrimental because I've never seen Yune play such a regal, majestic role - and with such maturity! Like, he's no longer pretty-faced fangirl bait, but a fully fledged veteran actor who deserves sooooo much better than appearing for a few minutes in less than half the season.
Yune plays Kaidu, and historically speaking, there's a lot to work with. Kaidu politically opposed Kublai Khan. As a powerful leader in his own right, he ruled much of Central Asia, and waged war for over thirty years. And despite having fourteen sons, he favored his daughter's advice in serious matters (reread complaint #3). Seeing Rick Yune in this particular father-daughter relationship is a welcome new aspect in his career, and we need more time to explore it.
3) Work on the dialogue. It's painful. It's pretentious, inconsistent, and empty. Pick a style and stick with it. And speaking of....
4) Lose the kung fu cliches. With Tom Wu as the actor, the character of Hundred Eyes should've been awesome. While the concept of a blind warrior always kicks ass, Hundred Eyes is a caricature of every kung fu master from every kung fu film ever made. Every time he opens his mouth, the viewer cringes and I assure you it's not because of his accent. The accent's sexy.
Also...we need flashbacks. Mongolian actor Baljinnyamyn Amarsaikhan portrayed Ariq Böke, the brother of Kublai Khan who challenged him for rule of Mongolia. The writers thought it would be genius to kill this guy in Episode 2. Seriously? Seriously?
The main cast barely had any Mongolians playing Mongols to begin with, and losing Amarsaikhan so soon drastically impacted the show. I mean, here we have these two close brothers clashing over the cultural future of their people - in a fight to the death - and you wrap that up in two episodes?
Not to mention, I never thought the Australian accent was actually sexy until I heard this man speak. Granted, for Marco Polo Hii does a British accent, but still...sexy. This show could do wonders for his career if it got its shit together.
|Much better picture of Remy Hii as Jinggim|
So to recap - and I still can't believe I'm saying this - we need another season of Marco Polo. These fine actors and more were gathered from all across the globe, displaying exceptional physical and linguistic diversity within the Asian diaspora (finally), and it just can't end like this.
|Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan|