Sunday, February 25, 2007

Zorro: Capítulos 7-10 (Feb 20-23)

Diego/Zorro (Photo: Telemundo)

last update on Zorro: La espada y la rosa left off with Diego having rescued Esmeralda from cannibals who had escaped from Mel Gibson's last movie. But they were out there in the forest with the whole tribe of Mel Gibson refugees coming after them.

Diego managed to get Esmeralda to the part of the river that had skulls on poles sticking up, which he assured her was a burial ground where the Mel Gibson Indians wouldn't follow them. He even admitted to her that he was Zorro! By the end, they were smooching in the river next to the skulls on the poles. Then they took off their clothes and were smooching some more, and maybe some other stuff as well.

Meanwhile, back at the hacienda, Alejandro de la Vega blew off el Comandante's soldier who came demanding he turn over Yumalay (whose name Telemundo this week apparently decided to spell that way instead of Yumalai.) He denied there was an Indian there, despite the suspicious splotches of blood el Comandante's man had seen near there, and intimidated the soldier into leaving.

We then learn a bit more about the De la Vega past. It seems that Alejandro's true love was an Indian named Regina (at least that was her Christian name after she was baptized) who was evidently involved in some kind of violent action like Yumalay's attempt with her brother to assassinate el Gobernador. We learn that Diego remembers seeing his mother killed, but not the face of the murderer. But when he first meets el Gobernador in Episode 10, his eye-patch starts to trigger Diego's memory, though it has become fully conscious yet.

Alejandro wants to give Yumalay a chance to explain herself, not least because she bears sucha strong resemblance to Regina. Later in the week, we get more flashbacks to Alejandro and Regina, which have the same actress (Adriana Campos) who plays Yumalay taking the Regina role. This could be one reason that she reminds him of Regina since she looks, uh, identical.

A couple of asides are in order at this point. One is that family confusion is a theme in basically all telenovelas I've seen. So the fact that Alejandro is drawn to a young woman who is either the sister or possibly the daughter of his former wife is not so unusual, though the latter possibility makes it a bit more sticky. But the novelas always manage to keep things out of William Faulkner territory. But, then, what I saw a reviewer say 20 years ago is still true: the screen isn't ready for Faulkner yet. Nor is the Bible, for that matter, but that's another story.

The other thing is that I'm intrigued with characters that manage to survive and adapt over generations: James Bond, Simon Templar ("the Saint"), Tarzan, Batman, Superman. So I've been looking a bit more into Zorro's literary background, which was supplemented in a major way in 2005 by the publication of Isabel Allende's Zorro: Una novela. Zorro first emerged from the pen of Johnston McCulley in a story published in 1919 in a pulp magazine called All Story Weekly, which I haven't yet read. But I am reading Allende's novel, which gives great detail about Zorro's youth. So the characters start to blur for me a bit with the telenovela.

Allende's Regina is a major character in her novel, in which she's half-Indian and half-Spanish. In the telenovela, it sounds so far like Regina was a full-blooded Indian. But in either case this adds some social complications.

Back to the romantic river scene, Diego even confesses to Esmeralda that his mother was Indian and that he lived with Indians as a child.

But after the nekkid smooching in the river, Diego leaves her on the riverbank to scout out the area a bit. He sees a feather than tells him the Mel Gibson cannibals are indeed looking for them in the area he thought was taboo for them because of the burial ground. This theme of Diego screwing up has already popped up a number of times. But even Zorro isn't always as slick as one might expect. When saving the prisoner from being murdered in Episode 1, he only managed to get there after the victim had been shot once, which fortunately wasn't a life-endagering wound.

Fortunately el Comandante, Capitán Ricardo Montero, arrives just as the Mel Gibson savages are running through the river attacking Esmeralda and he and his men save the day. Then Diego arrives back on the scene and lets Ricardo take credit for saving them. Ricardo was wounded in the arm by an arrow, letting him have a mark of his alleged heroism. Diego partisans can imagine that he arrived back to the riverbank in time to save Esmeralda but stayed in hiding because he saw el Comandante was there and wanted him to get credit for it.

Back in el ciudad de Los Ángeles, intrigues ensue. Diego has his friend Bernardo dress up as Zorro to convince Esmeralda that Diego had lied to her about being Zorro because he thought her knowing the secret could put her in danger. She was naturally ticked off at Diego for supposedly lying to her. But we learn later that she loves Diego anyway, because she confides this to her aunt Almudena.

Dolores, a trusted servant in Alejandro's hacienda (and the only black character so far) conspires with Alejandro's sister María Pía to try to prevent Diego from marrying either of the Moncada sisters. Because the two of them somehow think they're the only ones who know that it was el Gobernador Fernando Sánchez de Moncada who murdered Diego's mother Regina, with his own hands even. This also confirms that María Pía's rejection of el Gobernador has to do with his murdering Regina's groups of Indians. Their pitch to Alejandro, who considers Fernando his best friend and doesn't know about his murdering Regina, is that if Diego marries one of the Moncadas, it may come out that he's a mestizo. Spaniards of limpia sangre (pure blood) were considered a higher stratum than mestizos. Fernando himself even inquires of María Pía about Diego's background, apparently suspecting something of the sort.

Later, Esmeralda shows up fortuitously and helps María Pía delivers a baby, which raises Esmeralda in María Pía's regard immensely. Esmeralda's scheming sister Mariángel promises el Gobernador to convince Esmeralda to agree to a marriage with el Comandante who has his lascivious sights set on her. Which presumably doesn't decrease his interest in fooling around with Mariángel.

The gitana (Gypsy) queen Sara Kalí almost escapes from prison by taking the hapless Sargeant García hostage. But Pizarro foils her escape. However, her escape attempt alerts Renzo the gitano to her existence, although he's awaiting execution early the following morning. Zorro plans to save Renzo from execution, a mission that PadreTomás emphasizes, apparently fearing that Diego/Zorro might be hesitant to undertake it for reasons that aren't clear. Separately, Esmeralda sneaks off again to visit the gitanas and promises to help them save Renzo.

The escape attempt also gives Diego the chance to pump information out of García in the tavern so that he discovers there's a mystery woman in the prison. García counts Diego as a buddy, and the sargeant obviously has a loose tongue, especially when lubricated by alcohol.

The cliffhanger for the week involves a romantic drama. El Gobernador invites Alejandro and Diego along with el Comandante for dinner. Almudena is pleased with the chance to flirt with Alejandro. Alejandro has promised Diego to ask el Gobernador for Esmeralda's hand in marriage that evening. Unfortunately, el Gobernador surprises everyone except el Comandante Ricardo by announcing that Esmeralda will be marrying Ricardo. Altercations are sure to follow.

The second week of the telenovela emphasized the romantic dramas. Diego didn't appear in real time as Zorro, though there are always flashbacks. Plus, Bernardo appeared briefly as pseudo-Zorro.

Isabel Allende Zorro trivia: The telenovela is called Zorro: la espada y la rosa (the sword and the rose). It's easy enough to imagine la espada symbolizing Zorro/Diego and the rose symbolizing Esmeralda. But in the Allende novel, Diego joins a secret society in Spain called La Justicia. Two of the key symbols of the order are la espada and la rosa:

... la espada encarnaba el valor; ... la rosa recordaba a los miembros de la sociedad secreta que la vida no no sólo es sacrificio y trabajo, también es hermosa y por lo mismo debe ser defendida.

[... the sword incarnated courage; ... the rose reminded the member of the secret society that life is not only sacrifice and work, but it is also beauty and for that it should be defended.]

See also my previous Zorro post and next Zorro post..


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