This follows on from the first recap and analysis of Episode 1. Here in part 2, the personalities of the main characters are fleshed out even more; a critical event takes place setting the stage for the rest of the story in a poignant and dramatic way.
Episode 1: Part 2 – SUCCESSFULLY captured by the towns-folk, we next see Esteban splendidly/ ridiculously garbed as he is carried through the rainy streets of Barcelona. It’s a visually rich sequence, that manages to make a simple scenario into quite an action-filled one, with important character introductions.
In an earlier scene, the monk attending to the sick Father Rodriguez described Esteban as having a ‘sweet nature’; well now that sweet nature has given way to stubbornness and resentment at the spectacle he is being forced to go through. Judging by his fear of the event, we know that he must have been forced to go through this many times before.
We also learn Esteban is not someone to be awed by status and power, not even when it is the Queen of Spain – he is just a child after all. The Queen and her courtiers stand in a balcony, and bow down hands clasped in prayer – much to Esteban’s derision, who thinks they and everyone else is mad. It seems he is the only one who has sense around here – because, of course, he doesn’t have the power to call the sun!! (So he thinks..) Just then, he notices a little girl in the royal balcony, quite obviously different from everyone else. It’s the young maid of the Princess. She remains standing while everyone else kneels: it’s as though she refuses to seek or need anything from anyone. She has an independence and a look of “subtle defiance” on her face (credit to Saya at her blog for articulating it so brilliantly!).
Is it her bold non-conformity, amidst the ‘madness’ found among everyone else? is it that she looks so different , darker skinned, in her foreign clothes? Is it that this is another child just like him, amidst all the adults that surround him in this festival? Whichever it is, it’s strange enough a sight to capture Esteban’s attention.
In the meantime, there are others who are giving close attention to this little girl – she is an Inca, we learn, called Zia. Two men stand among the crowd; the taller sophisticated one, Commander Gomez, is being informed by the other, Captain Perez, that Zia will be captured and brought on board their ship for delivery to Governor Pizarro (real-life historical baddie). This Zia has a special skill, she can read the messages of the Incan people which hold the clues to the Mysterious Cities of Gold. Ah, so the number of people in pursuit of the legendary cities is growing: the intrepid sailors in the tavern, the mysterious man with the blue cape, and now these two men and the Governor. The insatiable appetite among the Spaniards for gold and the willingness to travel oceans and continents to find it, is becoming an obvious theme.
In the conversation between the two men another name is thrown in the mix: Mendoza. He is the man tasked to kidnap Zia, because “He’d do anything for gold” – we haven’t met him, but he sounds like a nasty piece of work: skilled enough to escape the guards of the palace; ruthless enough to abduct a little girl; and all for the greed of gold? Whoever he is, we already mistrust him.
Meanwhile, Esteban is carried up the mast and practically harassed to call out the sun. Poor Esteban’s petrified pleas to be brought back down are unheeded – in justified rebellion he calls out for ‘Buckets of rain! I don’t want it to ever stop raining!’ (The child is a cheeky one). The rain pours even harder, lightning blazes through the sky. As Esteban falls back wearied with dizziness and fear, the rain subsides, everyone looks up expectantly. And look, the blue-caped man is there too – this time willing Esteban on: “Go on Esteban!” he says to himself: why does he care, we wonder?
And sure enough, the sun comes out. It can’t be because Esteban asked it to (he didn’t); so it was a coincidence, right? Well, no-one else seems to think so. And even Esteban wonders – “I wish I understood…” and doubts his own doubts. But we can see he is not one to get carried away with notions of his ‘special powers’ – he continues to doubt and shun the idea, in his self-effacing way.
At this moment, everyone’s attention is suddenly drawn to a messenger who announces that father Rodriguez’s situation is bad; Esteban’s compassionate nature and love for the old man becomes evident as we see his urgent concern and wish to be taken to Father Rodriguez right away.
Esteban makes it in time to hear Father Rodriguez’ dying words. This is a crucial scene not just in the episode but for the entire series: for the first time in his life, Esteban (and we) get to learn how he was orphaned 12 years ago. At this intense and personal moment, the blue-cloaked man from the tavern quietly steps up to the door and proceeds to eavesdrop…
…Father Rodriguez’s story unfolds to us via a flashback. Esteban and his father were caught in a terrible storm, clinging for life on a sinking ship.
Esteban’s own father was desperately carried away by the waves, but a ‘brave’ sailor from a nearby ship jumped in to rescue Esteban the baby: as he is saved, we see a heavy golden medallion around his little neck.
Back on the sailor’s ship, the baby was delivered into the arms of Magellan, the great Portuguese explorer: and a miracle occurred – the sun came out in response to the baby’s smiles.
With the end of the flashback, Father Rodriguez implores Esteban to use his ‘God-given’ powers to help others ‘in a New World’, and with these words, he sadly passes away.
While Esteban receives this strange revelation, we the viewers are witnessing an equally fascinating revelation.
– ‘Someone’s jumped to the rescue!’
– ‘Who is the mad fool?’
– ‘I’ve no idea!’
As the onlooking sailors quiz the events, we learn that the man who jumped into the sea to save Esteban all those years ago was none other than the dubious blue-cloaked man! The flashback we see is in fact his – having listened intently behind the closed door, and having suddenly realised the connection between him and the boy he coincidentally met at the tavern, he declares with enthusiastic confidence: “That is the boy I rescued, without a doubt, it is the same child!”. We also see that he has in his possession the golden disc that used to be in the centre of Esteban’s medallion: that would be, by most definitions, a case of theft.
Done with eavesdropping on a sensitive conversation, in which a man is dying and imparting his last advice to his adopted charge, he then flees so as not to be found out – just as Esteban opens the door and runs out in tears.
Distraught and grief-stricken, Esteban seeks solitude at the top of the bell-tower to cry alone, and asks out loud what is to become of him now. We can’t help but feel huge sympathy for this vulnerable, bereaved orphan. He had always felt safe with Father Rodriguez, but now that protection is gone too. His future is uncertain, insecure, lonely and frightening. It’s a sad, poignant scene.
Who should appear at this very moment, at this critical time of vulnerability and despair…
Esteban, do not be afraid.
My name is Mendoza…”
What?!! So this man, who we already found to be a bit slippery, is none other than Mendoza – tasked with kidnapping Zia, the man who’d ‘do anything for gold’!! Get away Esteban, save yourself! But Esteban is none the wiser, and that weird trust he first showed in this man at the tavern resurfaces yet again. Luck or fate seems to have reunited them 12 years later.
What takes place next is a riveting conversation between the the orphaned boy Esteban, and the cunning ‘blue-cloaked man’ Mendoza, whose lives we now know had already been significantly connected years ago.