Sunday, December 20, 2015

Zorro 2.6 - The New Order

Plot: We're still in Monterrey. That wasn't clear to me until halfway through the episode, so I thought I'd mention it right away. There's a young woman named Theresa with a stand she sells tamales out of in the plaza, but Sergeant Garcia has some bad news. She has to move her stand out of the plaza, and so do all the other peons, by order of Adjutant Rico, who is acting governor while the real Governor travels to Santa Barbara. Theresa is unhappy with this, and vents her fury on Garcia, who is spared by Diego's arrival. Diego get her to calm down by promising to speak to Rico, just in time, as her boyfriend Joaquin Castenada arrives, and he doesn't like soldiers. He says several of them beat up an old man earlier that morning, and he's ready to stab somebody, which might get him shot by Reyes, assuming Bernardo doesn't knock the corporal unconscious first.

All this is rendered moot by the arrival of the "especiales", soldiers under the command of Captain Briones, all wearing a white armband. They enter the plaza and immediately begin tearing down the stands. The Captain upbraids Garcia for "asking" the peons to move, rather than telling, but when he wrecks Theresa's stand, she attacks him, and Bernardo is forced to knock Joaquin out to keep the kid from getting killed. As it is, Theresa is hauled off to jail, and Diego hustles to speak to Rico before Joaquin regains consciousness. Inside, we learn Rico is unsure of Briones' methods, but is swayed when the Captain assures him it was necessary. He explains to Diego there were pickpockets around the plaza, and he's trying to improve Monterrey's image. He does tell Diego he can pay Theresa's bail, 20 pesos, before dismissing him. But the jailer extorts Diego for an extra 10 pesos if he wants her released now. Theresa is very grateful, and plants a kiss full on Diego's lips before sprinting off to pick up the pieces of her stand with Joaquin's help. The young man is pretty steamed at everyone: Bernardo, Garcia, the especiales, but Theresa keeps him under control. Garcia tells Diego the especiales are the 'scum of the garrison', able to give orders to anyone they please, and they're growing to enjoy that power.

Which means that when Joaquin bumps into Briones while rounding a corner, refusing to move and then judo flipping the Captain was not a smart move. It earns him a beating, and he gets thrown in jail. In an entirely walled-off cell, no less, as Briones oversees the construction of a whipping post, and informs Diego there will be no bail, and no speaking to the prisoner until after the whipping. So it's no surprise Zorro shows up, and swiftly helps Joaquin escape. Each is making their own way out of the cuartel - Zorro over the wall, Joaquin through the gate - when Briones comes out. He tries to shoot Zorro, but Joaquin uses a soldier's musket to wound Briones, and Zorro has to rush him to safety on Phantom. Joaquin assures Zorro he knows the hills like the back of his hands, and Zorro advises him to stay there for now, advice Joaquin will almost certainly not take.

Quote of the Episode: Joaquin - 'You do not own the street!'

Times Zorro marks a "Z": 2 (2 overall).

Other: Another "baboso" this week. Corporal Reyes seemed like more of a space case than usual.

The episode started with Theresa (and later Garcia) singing about her tamales, but I muted that. Not in the mood for any singing.

Somewhat of a different threat this time around. Rico is not portrayed as any sort of a malevolent mastermind. He's the clueless privileged guy. He thinks the peons have stands in the plaza to sell their wares, instead of shops, because they're just not motivated. So if he bars them from having their stands, they'll get shops, he reasons. But of course he doesn't consider quite where they're going to get that money, or whether they'd have done that already if they could, because in all likelihood, money has never been a problem for him in his life. He's like a slightly dumber version of Alejandro, a guy who convinces himself he did everything through hard work (whether it's true or not), and if you aren't wealthy, you aren't trying. You would like to think he could reasoned with, but given his puzzlement that Diego would care about the peons, it's doubtful he'll learn.

As for Briones, he's no Monastario, looking for wealth and position, or the Magistrado's short-lived ally, the false Ortega, working for someone else with similar goals. Briones appears to be just a bully. He likes that he's been given power, and he comes up with justifications to use it. Since Rico apparently never leaves his office, he accepts Briones' excuses. This makes Briones a more mundane threat, and one more likely to hang himself by overreaching, but still a threat. And if his cruelty and abuse eventually costs him his position, that may be small consolation to people he hurts along the way.

I have to think the show is evoking memories of fascism with the especiales and their armbands, and their abuse of power. Especially with Sergeant Garcia, while not a member of the group, still following orders, while insisting that he is only following orders. I'm not sure, realistically, what Garcia can do. Disobeying the order would likely get him shot, or at least dishonorably discharged (again), and I doubt Rico would listen to him over Briones, but it feels like he needs to do something to help here. Zorro's clearly going to be getting involved, if for no other reason than Joaquin won't stay in the hills, and Theresa is not likely to keep out of the line of fire either. But there needs to be some sort of action by other people, especially those in the group.

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