Season 1, Episode 9
Prisoners SS 001.jpg
Episode Information
Written By

Patrick Macmanus

Directed By

David Petrarca

Episode Navigation
The Heavenly and Primal

"Prisoners" is the ninth episode of the first season of Marco Polo. It is the ninth episode of the series overall. It was written by co-executive producer Patrick Macmanus and directed by David Petrarca.


Marco finds his fate in the hands of Kublai yet again, while behind the walls of Xiangyang, Chancellor Sidao sets his sights on regaining power.


Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong)  is screaming in rage and Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) is in jail. The Mongolians are recuperating from their crushing defeat at Xiangyang and Marco is given an unfair trial for treason. It’s clear that this is less about Marco’s mistake and more about Ahmad and Prince Jingim’s distrust and dislike of him. When Marco claims his utter loyalty to the Khan, Jingim pulls out his cross, which contains an engraving of the Biblical verse, “All kings shall fall before him.” So, Marco turns the tables and calls out Kublai Khan’s own ambitions to take the West.

Back in Xiangyang, Jia Sidao (Chin Han) wrestles with his grief over Jing Fei’s death. He sniffs her ashes and remembers her fan-dancing. On the professional front, Sidao gets the Imperial seal, but not the title of Emperor.

Kokachin gets a new servant who is scared of her title, which is ironic because she’s not actually a royal. Empress Chabi visits her and gives her some really nice fabric that Kublai Khan’s mom gave to her before she married the Khan. Chabi comforts Kokachin and the Blue Princess talks about how sad it will be when Marco Polo gets executed. It turns out he has until dawn to live.

Prince Jingim visits Marco in his cell and goes on this long tangent about being a hunter and having patience and getting the kill. Marco is having none of it though. The scene ends with Jingim giving Marco back his cross, but Marco won’t take it. Jingim has more need of it or something. Jia Sidao has plans to unite all of China against the Mongolians. He considers it a good idea to strike while the proverbial iron is hot, but the Dowager Empress is not impressed and will not offer her support. And since he needs her to get to the child Emperor, he shoots her.

Hundred Eyes is working himself up so he has the courage to offer his life in exchange for Marco Polo’s. He argues that if Marco is guilty of treason, he must be as well. Kublai Khan responds to this by expelling Hundred Eyes from the kingdom.

Elsewhere, Kokachin is not happy about wearing Empress Chabi’s pretty fabric. She tries to go to the Department of Justice and discovers that she is locked in her quarters. She is obviously being separated from Marco. Later, she makes a feeble attempt to commit suicide in her bath, but loses her nerve. Chabi, meanwhile, buddies up to little Ling Ling. At first it seems like she’s being nice, but then it’s obvious she’s gaining intel on Mei Lin. She discovers that Ling is the daughter of the deceased Chinese Emperor, which means that they have some leverage. Later, Empress Chabi shows Mei Lin that Ling Ling still lives and officially sets the little girl up as blackmail. Jia Sidao befriends the young Emperor by giving him a praying mantis.

Prince Jingim is seized up by guilt and can’t perform in bed with his favorite wife. Marco Polo’s cross sits ominously on a table near their bed and he asks if he brought a curse into their bed. She blames herself.

Later, Marco Polo imagines a conversation with Hundred Eyes in which he seeks advice on how to survive the Khan's judgement. Hundred Eyes tells Marco that the Khan will only let him live if he can think of something important to offer him. Yusuf visits Marco and the young Latin says he can help the Mongolians win the war. Yusuf, in turn, reveals that he has read Marco’s journal and has a better grasp of the young man’s heart and mind. So, Yusuf listens to Marco and Marco introduces the trebuchet to Eastern culture.

Yusuf brings Marco’s plan in front of Kublai Khan, who doesn’t care. He is angry and drunk. He says that Marco will still die at dawn.

This bothers Yusuf, who spends the night going over Marco’s journals, praying, and hatching plans.

Yusuf finally confronts Kublai Khan and lets him know that he disapproves of his avarice. How? By lying about his involvement in all of the plots against the Khan. Kublai Khan knows this is not truth, but Yusuf is determined to make a point and to convince Kublai Khan of Marco’s innocence. He explains that Marco has a blind dedication to Kublai Khan. It’s a dedication that Yusuf no longer possessess. Kublai Khan does not accept Yusuf’s confession, but Yusuf has already told all of the Empire.

So, Yusuf will be executed for treason and Marco Polo will live.


Cast notes



Season One Episodes

The Wayfarer, The Wolf and the Deer, Feast, The Fourth Step, Hashshashin, White Moon, The Scholar's Pen, Rendering, Prisoners, The Heavenly and Primal

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