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‘Marco Polo’ Episode 4 Recap: “The Fourth Step”

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As war looms with the walled city of Xiangyang, Prince Jingim tests his diplomacy skills while Kublai questions Marco’s allegiance.

Episode four starts with Marco hallucinating a weirdly tender sex scene between himself and Kokachin, the woman he’s been weirdly obsessed with ever since he had one conversation with her like two weeks ago, as a doctor removes the snake venom from his system. Prince Jingim swaggers in to see if Marco’s going to survive, which he is. Jingim’s response to this is “Father will be most pleased,” with a look of supreme disappointment look on his face. Hah, Jingim, you so shady.

Mei Lin’s magical head massage is doing an excellent job at endearing her to Kublai Khan, and gives her a chance to listen to Jingim and Ahmad’s report on Marco’s health and then the Song rebels. The rebels have requested a parley, which Ahmad is wary of, but Jingim and his father are in agreement that a parley is what’s best for the moment. Later with his wife and mother, Jingim expresses his jealousy towards Marco’s closeness with his father.

When the War Council meets, Kublai sends Ahmad and his son to lead the parley with the Song ambassadors.

Marco tries to confront Kokachin about the snake but only finds her bodyguard, Za Bing, who once again warns him away. He also reveals himself to be a eunuch. Marco storms back to his training grounds to grab a sword (what is he gonna do with that, stab Tulga The Thief? Honestly, Marco) and Hundred Eyes tells him his father has finally returned to the city. Niccolò’s first words to Kublai are about the trade routes, and he doesn’t even bring up his son until Kublai is like, “so… you gonna ask about your kid at all? He could’ve died like three hundred times since you’ve been gone, what the hell dude, even my parenting isn’t this bad.”

The reunion goes badly; Marco’s dickbag uncle derisively says that Marco “looks like an Oriental,” while Marco’s equally dickbag father keeps offering really bad excuses for why he abandoned his son and will probably continue to abandon his son, just so he can get trade routes on the Silk Road. Marco  storms out and heads for the bar/tea house he tracked Tulga to and gets into a bar/tea house fight with Tulga’s fence. Surprisingly enough, Marco wins the fight – guess the training sessions were worth something after all besides seeing Marco be shirtless and get his ass kicked by Hundred Eyes – and gets his answer as to where he can find Tulga. He rushes into Tulga’s house like a dumbass, intent on protecting Kokachin, but turns out Tulga wasn’t the one to put the snake there at all… which Marco could’ve figured out himself if he hadn’t been so blinded by his obsession. HONESTLY, MARCO. 50/50 chance it was either Za Bing or Kokachin herself.

Marco is pulled off of Tulga, arrested, and thrown into a jail cell where his uncle and father also happen to be chillin’. Vice Regent Yusuf had discovered that Niccolò and Maffeo were smuggling goods, and since they had stored them in Marco’s room, poor Marco has also been arrested as a conspirator. Later, Kokachin goes to visit Tulga and we discover that she has plans to run away with him and has been giving him the jewels so he can sell them and save up money for their escape.

Meanwhile, Jingim and Ahmad arrive to parley. At first it doesn’t go well, because Ahmad is determined to sabotage terms of peace so he can get the war he so desperately wants. Neither the Song ambassadors nor Jingim is amused. Jingim kicks Ahmad out of the tent, then proceeds to broker peace without bloodshed.

Mei Lin sends a report to her brother letting him know that Kublai Khan won’t be at “his” peace parley. This is news to Jia Sidao, because he wasn’t the one to organize a peace parley – it was Empress Dowager, who removes all semblance of power from Jia and kicks him out of the room. In retaliation, Jia goes to Mei Lin’s daughter and tells her a story about foot binding, before breaking her feet and telling her it’s her mother’s fault, because he is an awful, awful, awful, awful person. We then see that Jia has sent assassins to kill the Song ambassadors as they ride back to the Walled City, thus dissolving the peace they just made. AWFUL PERSON.

Niccolò, Maffeo, and Marco are sentenced to death for their silk worm smuggling. Later, Marco is brought before Kublai alone, and Kublai tells him that he will be spared, but his father and uncle will not, and Marco is going to be the one deciding his father’s fate.

Memorable Quotes

Hundred Eyes: Never volunteer for a stealth mission. You might as well have a barking dog accompany you.

Marco: The horseman with the shaved head, where is he?
Shady dude in a bar: That’s half of Cambulac.
Marco: This one deals in jewels he could not rightfully own.
Shady dude: That’s the other half of Cambulac.

Marco: All my life I have waited for the great adventurer to offer me a place at his side. I finally got what I wanted.

Empress: Your currency is the fear of war, but it is spent and you are nothing without it.

Kublai: I grew hearing tales of the Great Genghis. I knew him only as a small boy, but the man my eyes saw was not big enough. Genghis of my mind, he was a giant.
Marco: Our imaginations outrun us, sire.

Kublai: It’s the cocoon that gives the silk. Comes out like sweet milk, then hardens. Ugly worm turns into an ugly moth, but leaves such treasure behind. Then some child somewhere crushes the moth, but the silk is still mine. The worm, the silk, the child… all mine. You will be spared. Your father and uncle will be sentenced. Artful color will not alter their character.

Kublai: Amends must be made for your father’s crime. You will decide his fate. Left to my vice regent Yusuf, or myself, your father’s punishment would be certain. His thief heart would now be still. I know the pain this will cause you. I know compassion. And you know our laws, our customs. You will choose your father’s punishment, and then you shall find sleep.