Sunday, January 24, 2016

Zorro 2.11 - The Flaming Arrow

Plot: The episode opens on the new Comandante, Luis de Guerro, who we immediately learn is a man much concerned with personal appearance, judging by the amount of time he spends getting his mustache just right. Also, yet another officer who can't be bothered to put on his own boots, since he makes Garcia do it. Later that day, we see Ricardo bring his horse to the blacksmith, who is out to lunch. Then Ricardo notices the bellows, which produce a lot of soot. And then he sees Diego coming down the sidewalk. So he gets around the corner with the bellows and waits, meaning he doesn't see Guerro step out in front of Diego and come down the sidewalk. As it turns out, Diego's the only one who gets a laugh, and Ricardo's out 200 pesos.

Undaunted, Ricardo is soon trying to goad Diego into spearing a straw man with a spear, and even convinces Anna Maria to offer her kerchief as a favor to the one who hits the target dead center. Again, Guerro butts in, and he does indeed hit the bullseye, only to find himself driven off the back of his horse, because Ricardo built the figure around a wooden post. He does avoid anymore fines but riding away, but this prank doesn't earn him any points with Anna Maria. It doesn't help Diego much either, as both men are compared unfavorably to Zorro. But Ricardo, apparently unaware that he's a dolt, has another plan. He has sent a love letter to Anna Maria's cousin Milana, who is visiting, but has addressed it as being from Zorro. He plans to serenade her that night, and tells Diego to take Anna for a moonlight stroll, then bring her home during his performance, thus souring her on the fickle Fox. I'm nearly blinded by the brilliance of this scheme, and it surely would have worked, if only Diego didn't immediately go tell Sergeant Garcia that he just so happened to know exactly where Zorro would be that night.

Both plans proceed. Ricardo dresses as Zorro and croons to Milana. Diego brings Anna Maria home during this, but she doesn't believe for a moment it's actually Zorro. So forget what I said about the plan working if not for Diego. Even Garcia realizes almost instantly this isn't Zorro once he and Reyes have the man at swordpoint, but agrees with Diego it'll be good to play a joke on Ricardo for once, so off to jail with him. The joke turns sour the next morning. Guerro is all too ready to believe Ricardo is Zorro, despite Garcia's explanations, and orders the joker put to death that day, without a trial. He also restricts Garcia and Reyes to the cuartel, and will hold them responsible if Ricardo isn't successfully executed. I guess Reyes was already out and about when that order was given, because he's able to find Diego and Anna and bring them to speak to Guerro, to no effect. As with the sergeant, Guerro suspects them of trying to save an outlaw who has saved their lives in the past. He then orders the two of them confined to hotel rooms, with guards placed outside.

So things are looking bad for Ricardo, and he seems resigned to his fate. But as the rope goes around his neck, a flaming arrow strikes it, and there's Zorro on the roof. Sergeant Garcia deftly throws off the aim of several lancers, and keeps them from intervening when Zorro squares off with Guerro, under the pretense of giving their captain some room. Guerro is no match for Zorro, and receives a warning not to try executing a man without trial again, or else. Ricardo attempts to thank Zorro, but is rudely forced backwards into a large tub, and as he sputters, Zorro asks how anyone could think this clumsy fool was him, before escaping over the walls once more.

Quote of the Episode: Diego - 'I don't know what you're up to Ricardo, but uh, you had better tread softly. You're playing with fire.'

Times Zorro marks a "Z": 1 (4 overall). On the Captain's tunic, up over the lungs, with the promise to cut it deeper next time.

Other: That was rough of Guerro, telling Garcia he and Reyes were responsible if Ricardo wasn't killed. Judging by what we've seen of them, the quality of soldiers in the Spanish Army isn't that high, so I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd screwed up building the gallows. That was why I always hated group projects. All it takes is one lazy asshole and everyone's in hot water.

Not that the officer corps is much better. Good commanders seem as rare as an honest cop in Gotham City. Other than Toledano, we haven't seen one that was worth a damn who lasted longer than five minutes. Briones was a bully, Monastario a tyrant. Ortega wasn't even a real officer, but a sadistic crook (although the guy he was impersonating was supposed to be all right, but again, he was killed). And Guerro, a stuffy jerk overly concerned with personal appearance and his own pride. Maybe the state of the soldiers isn't surprising, considering. Having high morale with leadership like that would be tough.

I have mixed feelings whenever Sergeant Garcia is able to be useful by pretending to be clumsy. I feel bad for him, because it means he knows what people think of him, and it's not great. You'd have to be quite an oaf to mess up the aim of three riflemen by accident, just by drawing your sword as you give an order to fire, but apparently no one finds it out of the question for him. On the other hand, it means he's clever enough to know they think that, and use it to his advantage. Given how often his commanders are corrupt or just abusive, it pays to be able to work against them without them recognizing it.

Spare a thought for poor Milana. I'm sure at some point during all this it became clear the man singing to her wasn't the real Zorro. Which had to be a disappointment, considering how much she was enjoying the serenade. And it was all just part of some stupid plan by Ricardo to improve his chances with Anna Maria. Really shitty behavior on Ricardo's part. The attempts to humiliate Diego aren't exactly the mark of a great person, but at least Ricardo is open about those. He's not pretending to be someone else, he's not hiding behind another's image. And Diego knows to expect this nonsense from Ricardo, so he at least has a puncher's chance of dodging the pranks. Milana never saw it coming.

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