Online Edition



Season 1, episode 02
Series 102
1st release: 10/09/00
2nd release:
Production number: 102
Script number: 1
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 05-14-01

SYNOPSIS by James Ott
COMMENTARY by Carmen Carter

Tessie Santiago (Tessa Alvardo)
Valentine Pelka (Col. Luis Montoya)
Anthony Lemke (Capt. Marcus Grisham)
Paulina Galvez (Marta)
Peter Wingfield (Dr. Robert Helm)
Tacho Gonzalez (Don Hidalgo)
Elsa Pataky (Senora Vera Hidalgo)

Christina Segovia (Louisa)
Javier Lago (Sgt. Alonzo)
Lucas Fuica (Torlio)
Louis Miguel Arranz (Amaldo)
Chelcho Losanda (Peoro)

Written by Jocelyne Simmons
Directed by Jon Cassar

Filmed in Almeria, Spain, by Fireworks/Morena Films/Amy Intl. Prods. in association with Telefonica, and M6, distributed by Paramount Domestic TV in association with Mercury Entertainment. Executive producers, Jay Firestone, Adam Haight, David Abramowitz; producer, Ken Gord; director, Jon Cassar; writer, James Thorpe; director of photography, Alwyn Kumst C.S.C; production designer, Fernando Gonzalez; music, Philip Stanger; wardrobe designer, Evelyne Correard Trompier; supervising editor, T.C. Martin; ``Behind the Mask'' theme song performed by Jose Feliciano; special effects, Carlos Fernandez, Tomas Urban; art director, Carlos Suarez Bodelon; set decorator, Marta Agullo Laguna. Season one filmed between May 3 - December 2000.

The Queen of Swords must avoid a trap set for her while she investigates the disappearance of the village peasants. ClickTV

Peasants are being forced to work in Montoya's mines; Tessa is baited. ExciteTV


When the men begin to disappear, the Queen of Swords springs to action. She discovers that the peasants are being framed for crimes they did not commit and sentenced to work in Montoya's mines. Montoya and Grisham hope the Queen will right the wrong and unwittingly fall into a trap they've laid. Will it be death to the Queen?


1st RELEASE: 10/09/00
An AA average of 1.4
Competition from Action Hours:

Andromeda 4.0
XFiles 3.2
ER 3.0
Xena 2.9
Sheena 2.0
Invisible Man 1.7
Queen 1.4
Immortal .5


This synopsis is by James Ott.


Scene opens at a forced peasant labor mining camp where minors are whipped by armed garrison soldiers. As Capt. Grisham looks down on the camp on horseback, the Corporal tells him the men are all too sick to work. As more prisoners arrive by wagon, one of them makes a run for it up the hill only to come face to face with the Captain. As Grisham extend his hand, the prisoner, Torlio, spits at him, slips back down the hill and dies as his head strikes a rock.


In the Market Square, a filthy man grabs the last apple from the bin before Tessa can. He introduces himself as Dr. Helm. At that moment, one of her servants, Luisa, ( obviously distressed ) runs to her and says soldiers took her husband, Torlio, to question him about missing cattle. He went to the jail but never arrived there. Meanwhile, Col. Montoya is apprised of the mine's work schedule is off because the men are"dropping like flies." ( Montoya plans to raise a small army with cannon In trade for California gold nuggets.)

As the flirtatious wife, Senora Hidalgo, greets the newly arrived Doctor by presenting him with a bottle of wine, Col. Montoya arrives and questions the possibility of a disease outbreak of men in a confined space becoming ill. He further inquires if there is a medicine which cures such a thing. Tessa as Queen of Swords follows a prisoner wagon only to ride into a trap with eight soldiers shooting at her. She, although wounded, draws her sword on foot and duels with two of the soldiers as others close in on her. Seemingly trapped with a rocky ocean cliff to her back, the Queen of Swords does a reverse swan dive to her doom into the waters below.


The soldiers initial search for our heroine's body is fruitless but her elaborately sewn mask is found on the shore. As it is presented to Col. Montoya, he realizes that it could only have been made in Spain. Since, in his own words, no Spaniard would refuse his invitation to a grand party, he cleverly sets a trap to see if the wounded woman he suspects will arrive or not.

Later, on the shoreline, a soldier find her sword and her unconscious body washed up on shore. She knocks out one soldier only to be attacked by a mounted lancer. She aims a pistol that misfires but does manage to knock him off balance, steal his horse and escape with her sword.

She rides home and although she has a bleeding flesh wound, decides to dress for the grand Colonel's party anyway. Meanwhile, Montoya is explaining to the Doctor that the Queen of Swords is a vigilante who steals gold for the People but keeps it. Fresh blood appears to have been swiped on one of the curtains at the Party indicating his quarry has arrived.


Party continues as normal until the Governor announces that a woman has suffered an injury; luckily a Doctor is present to treat the wound. All the women at the Party including Tessa and her trusted servant, Marta are lined up. To avert suspicion, Marta breaks a wineglass in her left hand and approaches the Doctor. It is still clear that the Colonel suspects Tessa to be the Queen of Swords despite this ruse. Marta, while being treated by the Doctor, touches his hand and with an ESP vision sees the Doctor's past as a soldier fighting in one of Europe's Napoleonic Wars.

Col. Montoya orders soldiers to escort the Doctor to treat the stricken captive peasants at the mines. The Queen of Swords follows and eventually surrenders when the soldiers threaten to kill the workers off ,one by one. She, although captured and tied to a post,, remains masked, as Captain Grisham is summoned from town.


The Doctor advises the peasants must be pulled from the mines and given water to drink or they will be useless. The Doctor examines the bound Queen and unties her hands. As the Captain arrives in camp, the Queen shoots a soldier and escapes. The Sergeant goes after her into the mine with no exit. Tessa gets the drop on him and leads him back outside while rolling a open gun powder barrel with her foot with lantern in hand. As she exits the mine entrance, she ignites the powder trail with the lantern. She kneels and prays aloud, "A plea for my Executioners souls." The Mine explodes and she disappears in the dust as the peasants flee the area. A tarot card floats to the ground from above; it is the card of the Queen of Swords.


The Supply Boat from Spain arrives with various goods for the Settlement. Montoya remarks, "Give the peasants a bolt of cloth and some jars, they're happy." Tessa eats the Doctor's apple this time and walks away telling her servant to make her a new dress, The Doctor indicates that he is fully aware as to the identity of the Queen of Swords.


This commentary is by Carmen Carter.

Having established the basic Zorro mythos for The Queen of Swords in the premiere episode, the second episode of the season continues to expand the cast, but more importantly, it begins to develop a distinct identity for this series. The storyline for "Death to the Queen" was nothing more than a set of skirmishes between The Queen and Colonel Montoya over his brutal impressment of the local peasantry into the forced labor camp at a goldmine. Nonetheless, this mundane plot served as a skeletal framework for highlighting Montoya's character and revealing more of the bond between Tessa Alvarado and her servant Marta. Both aspects hold promise for heightened drama in future episodes.

The role of the villainous military governor who ruthlessly oppresses the people of his territory could all too easily be played over the top as a strutting buffoon constantly "foiled again" by his arch nemeis The Queen of Swords. Fortunately, Valentine Pelka has chosen a more restrained portrayal that presents Luis Montoya as cool and calculating; he may be a greedy man in his desires but his manner is nothing but urbane. This surface civility is more chilling than bluster and pomposity, and Montoya's brief allusion to his hatred for his dead father hints at a backstory yet to be developed. In Pelka's capable hands, the conflict between the colonel and Tessa has become a chess game of move and counter-move, and as a result Montoya is emerging as a villain I could love to hate.

Even more impressive were the glimpses into the depth of the friendship between Tessa and Marta. Their public personas of a slightly imperious mistress and her submissive servant are just a fa‡ade that covers a much different private relationship. The tension inherent in the different roles they are forced to play comes to the fore when Marta hears of The Queen's supposed death. She barely manages to cover her shock, but as soon as she is alone she begins to grieve... only to pull herself back together when Tessa steps out of the shadows, wounded but alive. The young woman's apologies and reassurances show that she fully recognizes the turmoil that Marta has gone through. This character dynamic is repeated with even greater poignancy later in the episode when Marta scolds Tessa about bloodying her clothes. Again, Tessa responds to the underlying fear beneath the anger and tenderly comforts her companion; it's in the presence of Marta alone that Tessa is truly unmasked.

The depth of Marta's loyalty is explored in other scenes as well. Having been shot by one of Montoya's soldiers, Tessa struggles to hide her injuries from the colonel, knowing that they would reveal her identity as the Queen of Swords. All appears lost when she inadvertently leaves a blood stain upon the wall during an obligatory appearance at a party in Montoya's house. Tension mounts as the colonel conducts a tactful inspection of the women; Tessa's turn is certain to lead to her capture. However, just before Tessa's secret is revealed, an apprehensive Marta crushes a wineglass in her hand, lacerating her own palm. Then she holds out the bleeding hand to Montoya, demurely explaining that she hid the wound for fear she would be punished since servants aren't supposed to drink the wine.

Peter Wingfield makes his series debut as Dr. Robert Helm, a seemingly genial man, but one with a mysterious past. In short order, circumstances force him to choose sides between Montoya and The Queen of Swords. Although he frees the Queen from captivity, Helm's stealth leaves his ultimate loyalties undeclared so he remains safefly in the good graces of Montoya. The genre formula suggests that the good doctor will come to the aid of The Queen of Swords again and again in the future, and that he and Tessa will probably develop a prickly attraction for each other, but the most memorable of Wingfield's scenes was his encounter with Marta the Gypsy, who senses his turbulent past when he dresses her wounds.

Although the general strengths of the series are beginning to emerge, the weaknesses continue unabated. Tessie Santiago is still unconvincing as a flamboyant action/adventure figure and barely adequate for the more coventional role of Tessa Alvarado. One can only hope that a starring role for a relatively inexperienced actor implies that the producers have faith in her ability to grow into the part of The Queen of Swords. Meanwhile, Santiago is surrounded by a solid cast of actors who, at least in the short term, can carry the show as she works on her craft. I'm holding out the same hope for an improvement in the fight sequences. The setting is wrong for the chop-socky choreography of shows such as Xena or Buffy, but swordplay with the panache of Basil Rathbone and Douglas Fairbanks would be a welcome treat, as would a greater frequency of the witty one liners that make The Queen's fullsome lips curl ever so slightly in such a becoming way.

Next week, a fever cuts down the townfolk and Marta is one of the victims. Dare I expect a touching scene of hurt/comfort between Marta and Tessa? In the words of Colonel Montoya, "Never underestimate the power of prayer."


Episode synopsis from the Manzana Core

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