Plot: We open with Diego and Bernardo observing the Eagle practicing his swordsmanship, and he's actually pretty good. He nearly kills the poor soldier he's practicing with, over Diego's objection. The Eagle, however, would rather ask Diego about his father's plans for a militia, and who might have signed up. For his part, Diego plays dumb, and any further interrogation is interrupted by the arrival of a Senor Brighton, an arrival not expected by the Eagle. From their discussion it becomes clear Brighton represents the people who expect the Eagle to hand them California, and also that Brighton knows de Varga is running into some roadblocks, Alejandro among them. Brighton departs, having booked a room at the inn, and leaves the Eagle in a nervous state.
Outside, Corporal Reyes has snuck inside the gates to complain about being guard of the outside, and that he hasn't eaten since breakfast. Sergeant Garcia is not terribly moved, especially once he realizes Reyes drank the last of his wine. He orders him outside, but as he falls asleep immediately, doesn't notice Reyes slip into the house. Meanwhile, the Eagle has hatched a plan. He sends one of the de la Vega's oldest servants on a mission to visit all the rancheros and tell them Alejandro has returned and is having a meeting of everyone who signed that night. Diego is listening from a secret passage, and rushes back to his room. From there, he calls Garcia, and gives him a message to give to the servant before he departs. Diego makes certain to emphasize its importance, and yet Garcia gets distracted when he passes through the kitchen on his way to the stable and catches Reyes swiping a chicken.
Garcia returns to see Diego, and it's only then he remembers he forgot to deliver the message, at which point Diego lets him have hit with both barrels. As the sergeant walks off, dejected, Diego rushes to turn to Zorro in the hopes he can catch Juan and get him to not deliver the message. Unfortunately, the arrival of Senor Alfredo would seem to indicate he was too late. Alfredo is ushered in to see the Eagle, and while asking to see Alejandro, mentions two things: That he has changed his mind and is leaving California after all, and that he was the last to sign. The second bit is of great interest to de Varga, and he prepares to have his goon Manuel work over Alfredo for the names, when Brighton arrives. While Brighton may be OK with paying for the overthrow of a government, he isn't OK with torture. It's at this point the Eagle, apparently feeling pretty full of himself, tells the guy where he can stick it, and suggests there are plenty of other interested buyers. Brighton doesn't seem to buy the bluff, and storms off.
It's about that time the candle goes out, and buy the time it's re-lit, Zorro almost has Alfredo free. Unfortunately, as Alfredo flees, Zorro is too busy making sure the Eagle can't get to his sword to stop Manuel from pursuing. Fortunately Sergeant Garcia has arrived, and he handles Manuel pretty handily, aided by that old bit where the villain falls on his own sword, er, dagger. Zorro arrives in time to compliment Garcia on saving the don, and rides away.
Quote of the Episode: Diego - 'Right here tonight you may see some of your friends die because of your negligence!'
Times Zorro marks a "Z": 0 (14 overall).
Other: I'm curious which country Brighton is representing. Britain seems the most likely option, but I'll admit I would expect him to speak in some stereotypically "British" accent if that were the case, which made me wonder if he's American. Since the series is set around 1810, I don't think that would necessarily jibe. We're only a few years past the Louisiana Purchase at that point, but I'm not sure how much into expanding the borders the U.S. was at that stage. And "Brighton" just feels like an English name.
I wonder, if the Eagle was telling the truth about Brighton not representing the only interested parties, who those others would be. He's getting it away from Spain, so they're out. The French had just sold off a huge chunk of land a few years earlier to the U.S. Germany didn't exist as a unified country yet. At this point I think China is still remaining isolated (or trying to). I suppose it could be the Dutch, but I'm leaning towards Russia. They held parts of North America running down into the Pacific Northwest, they might have felt like making a run at a firmer grasp on things.
But I'd guess the Eagle was just talking shit.
It was striking to see Diego come down so hard on Sergeant Garcia. Garcia deserved it - this was the definition of "YOU HAD ONE JOB!" - but Diego has always been one of the sergeant's staunchest defenders. He's always recognized that whatever Garcia's failings, at heart he's a good, (mostly) honest man who doesn't abuse his power and tries to be understanding. So for him to just let loose, and end by telling Garcia to get out of his sight, it made an impact.
Last episode we saw that Don Alfredo was only reluctantly drawn into Alejandro's plan, and here we see he's had second thoughts. I wonder if this thread will be continued, if we'll see some fallout from Alfredo deciding to leave, or if maybe he'll have a change of heart, having experienced firsthand the danger California faces.
For as much as de Varga knows of Alejandro's feelings about his son, the elder de la Vega must be a 19th Century Spanish version of Helen Lovejoy. Just gossiping away about his disappointment of a kid every chance he gets. "He turned down a chance to ride in a race to write poetry. Poetry! And he won't get married! I don't know what's wrong with him!" Maybe he's less Helen Lovejoy, more Hank Hill. "That boy ain't right."