Plot: The soldiers are having a high time in the tavern as they await the stage that will bring them their pay for the last six months. Which adds up to 5000 pesos. And it's those pesos that are of interest to the two newest arrivals to Los Angeles, Ramon Castillo and his friend, Marcos. But then Ramon sees something else that catches his interest: Bernardo. Bernardo saw him too, and tries to leave, but is waylaid. Before things can get heated, Alejandro arrives and Ramon turns on the charm, claiming to be an old friend of Diego's from Spain. So Alejandro invites both men to dinner at the hacienda.
Back at home, Bernardo rushes in to warn Diego, but they miss each other in the secret passages. Bernardo does learn of their guests' plan to rob the payroll. As it turns out, Ramon and Diego were rivals in Spain, and Diego is the only man ever to best Ramon in a swordfight, one which cost Ramon the royal championship trophy. He never got a rematch, and he wants one. Diego and Alejandro are prepared to drive their dinner guests away with swords, until Bernardo explains what he heard. Then they figure it's better to keep them here. Marcos has already left, his eyes solely on the cash prize, but Ramon is convinced to stay by a combination of Diego agreeing to the match (while still pretending to be a klutz), and the promise of a lovely lady guest, Isabella. Once they've got him sticking around, Bernardo tries messing with the clock, but does it incompetently. So Diego agrees to the match, but then Bernardo saves him from that by pretending to be the mission bell ringing 10.
It's not enough to deter the robbers, as Ramon and Marcos promptly sneak into the cuartel, overpower the guard, trap the other lancers in their rooms, and force Garcia to hand over the money. As they exit the office, Zorro yanks the cash away with his whip, and sets to fighting Ramon (Marcos is occupied with that guard from the front gate). The swordfight goes on awhile, but Ramon is disarmed. He doesn't take the hint and tries to continue the fight with a lance, but the soldiers have gotten free and everyone must scatter. Zorro does return the money to the sergeant before departing.
The following morning, Marcos is ready to get out of Dodge, but Ramon is not. He is certain Diego is Zorro, as Diego was the only many ever to disarm him previously. Also, Ramon knows Bernardo could hear just fine in Spain, yet know he is deaf. He tries to convince Garcia of this, without success, though much laughter. So Ramon takes advantage. He offers 20-to-1 odds he can prove Diego is Zorro. He and Marcos will pretend to rob the tavern, while the lancers wait outside. Zorro will enter to save the day, the lancers will catch him, unmask him, and there you go. Garcia finds the whole thing amusing at first, but grows nervous enough to ask Diego if he is Zorro. Which is how Diego learns of the whole plan, and offers his own help fighting Zorro alongside the sergeant. Of course, once Garcia sees Diego with a sword in his hand, he decides it would be safer to lock Diego in his room. Which gives Diego the perfect out to escape via the chimney (with an assist from Bernardo), and for Zorro to confront Ramon. By this point, Ramon and Marcos have decided they'll just take the bet money and continue on to South America as planned. It doesn't work out, as Ramon loses to Zorro again, and as a further insult, is left at swordpoint held by the innkeeper. And then Diego twists the knife. With the innkeeper's back to him, he unmasks so Ramon, and only Ramon, sees it. In the cuartel, Ramon is certain he will be vindicated, because if Diego is Zorro, Ramon won the bet, and he can't steal money he'd already won. Unfortunately for him, Diego made it back to the room, and Ramon and Marcos are off to jail.
Quote of the Episode: Ramon - 'I have learned a few things since those days. I just want to see if he has.'
Times Zorro Marks a "Z": 0 (3 overall).
Other: Ramon is played by none other than Ricardo Montalban, bringing his usual style and flair to the proceedings. Isabella is played by Suzanne Lloyd, who was Raquel Toledano, the duplicitous wife of Captain Toledano (the only commanding officer, interim Commandante Garcia excepted, Los Angeles had who was both honest and lived longer than five minutes).
Poor Ramon, the trophy he coveted is corroding at the bottom of the port, since Diego had Bernardo pitch all his fencing trophies once they heard what Monastario was up to.
I really enjoy the interplay between Montalban and Ross Martin, who plays Marcos. They banter back and forth very well. Marcos is extremely fixated on money, but it makes him a bit more practical. He's not getting waylaid by worrying about some rematch. His, 'he beat you to win it, he could beat you to keep it,' line was good (and precedes the one I chose as quote of the episode). Also the exchange where Marcos comments on the money again, and Ramon chides him for not knowing there are more important things than money. Marcos replies that he knows that, and those more important things cost a lot of money. I have to say, as a nefarious dynamic duo, I much prefer these two to those brothers with the bolas who worked for the Eagle in season 1 stealing church artifacts in South America.
They used that reversed shot of Tornado vaulting the downed tree and mostly missing the cacti again this week. They also added a door in the secret passage behind the sala Bernardo had to open before reaching the spiral staircase. And when Zorro arrived to prevent the theft of the payroll, the used footage of him climbing in a window from Tornado's back (which I think was originally from when he snuck into Garcia's room), and then he's on the roof of the office when Ramon and Marcos emerge. Perhaps it was faster than climbing over the wall, though that's hardly stopped anyone before.
I'm guessing the fireplace in the sergeant's room doesn't get much use, or Diego would have looked pretty bad when the sergeant opened the door for him. Unless that's why he delayed coming out, last-second soot removal. I chuckled at Diego hinting strongly to the sergeant he should lock Diego up, then having to play along with the sergeant's attempt at deception. 'I had one of the walls whitewashed! Oh, well in that case. . .'
Pretty impressive of Garcia to knock a door clean off its hinges, while tied to a chair.
That brings us to the end of my Zorro reviews. I think Monastario might still be my favorite recurring villain, but I enjoyed how long they were willing to wait before actually bringing the Eagle into the picture himself during that story. And the second season allowed for a lot of different characters, some of which maybe wouldn't have been great as long-term additions, but for a single, short arc, worked quite well. Uncle Estevan and Ricardo, the practical joker, spring to mind. Having Alejandro reveal he knew Diego was Zorro maybe didn't change things overtly as much as I thought it would, but it did seem to contribute to a gradual crumbling of the barriers between Diego and Zorro. It never fell all the way apart, but it was an interesting undercurrent in the second season.
Next week, we move to a series set somewhat closer to the present, but in a different part of the world. I kind of miscalculated when this would wrap up, so I didn't have any of my other TV series DVDs handy (I had been planning to do either Newsradio or Avatar: The Last Airbender). So instead, something I borrowed from my dad.