Plot: Basilio calls Sergeant Garcia into his office, and is strangely friendly, inquiring as to whether Garcia has thought of retiring from the Army. He'll have been in service for 20 years in three weeks, and would then be eligible to do so. But the sergeant loves the army, and wishes to stay. Until Basilio tells him that there's a law the states the king can give land to retired soldiers, and so the sergeant could become a haciendaro. "Don Demetrio" has a nice ring to it, and the sergeant exits beaming at the possibility. What he doesn't realize is Basilio plans to accuse Don Cornelio (Moneta's father) of treason so he can seize the land, and give it to Garcia, figuring it will be easy to take it back later.
That evening, Garcia, Basilio, and Diego are enjoying drinks at Cornelio's home when Basilio puts his plan into motion. He starts asking the sergeant if he can identify where certain fine objects in the house came from. Well, the candlesticks came from England, and some other pieces from France, countries Spain is currently hostile to. Meaning Cornelio is trading with the enemy, which is treason, and he must be arrested. Basilio, as he departs, even twists the knife by congratulating Sergeant Garcia on the fine hacienda he will soon own, since it has been seized.
The next morning, there is a brief moment of hope as Garcia points out everyone in town trades with whatever ships come to port, regardless of nationality, and so he can't testify against Cornelio. Then Basilio informs him that if he admits to that, he will be guilty of dereliction of duty, which is also treason, and he'll be lynched, whereas Cornelio will merely be exiled. He also tells Garcia not to tell anyone of this conversation or else, which means Garcia can't explain to anyone that this wasn't his plan. And so everyone is hostile to him: Corporal Reyes, Diego, even Zorro, who vows to gut the sergeant if he testifies against Don Cornelio. The day of the trail comes, and Basilio calls Garcia to testify. The sergeant balances on the precipice, unsure which way to go. Captain Mendoza is showing off a little noose he made from a strip of leather, while Bernardo is flashing a "Z" on the wall with a mirror, but ultimately it's Basilio who makes the key gaffe. He mentions out loud, in front of everyone, that Garcia will be guilty of treason if he admits this was a common practice. That public prod is enough stiffen the sergeant's resolve, and he absolves Don Cornelio. Fortunately, Zorro is there, and quickly demonstrates Basilio himself is wearing all sorts of items from hostile countries, and forces Basilio to admit it is not a treasonous action, lest he be killed himself.
Quote of the Episode: Basilio - 'They're exquisite. What a pity we're not better friends with the French.'
Times Zorro Marks a "Z": 0 (13 overall).
Other: Basilio is really handsy around Moneta, and so many cheesy lines. I seriously considered using 'We're all slaves, my dear. Slaves to duty and slaves to beauty.' as quote of the episode, just for how nauseating it is. Interestingly, he did not approach Moneta with an offer of leniency for her father if she married him, as I thought he would. Which shouldn't be surprising, considering he's just accused her father of treason and seized their home. She's hardly going to feel positively towards him. I'd suspect he planned to wait until after he stole the land back from Garcia, but by then, he'll have executed her dad, so I can't see it working then, either.
So maybe the whole thing Moneta is just him playing around. Or beauty doesn't mean as much to him as money and land. Would hardly be surprising if that's the case.
The major problem I have with this episode is Garcia's unwillingness to explain to anyone why he can't clear Don Cornelio. I had thought, when Basilio made that threat, we'd see Garcia start to explain, then notice Mendoza hanging around nearby watching and clam up. But no, Mendoza is never around and Garcia still won't talk. Zorro visits him in his room at night, when there's no one else there, and still the sergeant won't simply explain that it's his head or the don's on the chopping block.
So, uh, apparently Switzerland was hostile to Spain in the 1820s? Because that's where Basilio's pocket watch was from, and Zorro uses it as evidence of Basilio's own treasonous behavior. I looked briefly on Wikipedia, and it mentions the War of the Seventh Coalition in 1815, but they were on the same side (against France). Then nothing until a civil war in 1847. Or is it just a case of Spain not wanting her colonies to trade with anyone other than the mother country? If so, they really should have phrased it that way, because Basilio made it seem as though Spain was at war with practically all of Europe at the time.