El Cid (2020) – Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Review


The Ordeal

With his shoulder still stinging from the assassin’s blade, episode 2 of El Cid begins with Orotz and Ruy practicing their sword fighting in a cave. It’s clear this blade is going to play a part in the story to come, as we cut to Flain and see him demonstrating the effect this specific blade tip has. The reward is 50 days wages for whoever catches the culprit too, bringing with it a city-wide manhunt to find the one responsible.

By chance, Ruy heads down to the lake to wash his wound but stumbles upon a Christian called Abu Bakr. It’ a brief chat in truth, one that eventually sees Abu Bakr heading up to the city. There, he receives a fair amount of hostility when he rock up on horseback. People watch him suspiciously as he walks by.

It turns out he’s an ambassador of Al-Muqtadir of Zaragoza. Given the financial tributes Zaragoza has been granting Fernando, he wants an audience -which the King agrees to.

Abu Bakr approaches the throne and warns of trouble brewing. King Ramiro and Aragon have begun attacking the northern regions of their Kingdom. Despite Ramiro dining at Leon there several weeks prior, Fernando contemplates whether to head up and help. For now, he tells the man to wait while he makes his decision.

Knowing that he’s in serious danger, outside the throne room Rodrigo charges up to see Ruy and tells him he’s being sent to Vivar. With his life on the line, Ruy refuses to go and promises to find and unmask the conspirator working with Rodrigo no matter what.

Fernando certainly suspects something is up with the Count, and tells Sancha in private that he intends to keep him around to find out who his co-conspirators are. Of course, one of those happens to be the Queen herself. In private, she heads up to speak to Flain, informing him that Fernando is intending to leave for Zaragoza. When he does, that’s when they’ll put their plan in place. She tells Flain they can’t meet like this again and hurries away.

Meanwhile, Ruy heads back to Abu Bakr and asks for his help in fixing up his wound. It’s just in time, especially with upcoming jousting practice. Ruy manages to impress too, much to Orduno’s anger. Orduno soon gets the last laugh though when he realizes Ruy is the one with the wound. Although he doesn’t say anything, when Orduno leaves Ruy figures out that the Count is the one responsible for this plot.

Armed with a crossbow, Ruy follows Flain that night and sees a private meeting between him and Orduno. For now, Orduno doesn’t divulge the truth but it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Elsewhere, Urraca learns that one of the girls, Ermesinda, is forced into being Flain’s chambermaid. As the girl begins sobbing, Urraca berates her weakness and approaches Fernando, which inevitably backfires when he tells her that “her time will come.” This, of course, is in reference to her being made a wife.

Alone, Fernando talks to Ermesinda and tasks her with spying on Flain, feeding back any and all his indiscretions. If she can do this, then her ordeal with the Count won’t last long.

In the morning, Abu Bakr returns to the throne room. He wants confirmation that the King is coming to Zaragoza’s aid. Instead, a messenger appears and informs Fernando that the Navarrese have crossed the border and are marching for the throne. Fernando gathers the troops and tells them to head out, leaving the fate of Zaragoza hanging in the balance.

In order to settle things with minimal casualties, Fernando assists Sancho out with Ruy who backs him up in the face of their challenger, Jimeno. Fernando refuses to let his brother compete though and instead has another soldier, Trifon, saddle up. Sancho quickly chokes him out and puts him to sleep, wanting to taste victory himself. Ruy realizes this is political suicide and in turn uses the powerful tranquillizer Abu Bakr gave him earlier in the episode and puts him to sleep.

With both men down, Ruy steps up to fight in their stead. Just before he heads out, he calls for Jimena and says goodbye to her. She refuses to say it back though, especially given she’s confident he’ll return in one piece.

The fight begins and with Trifon awakened from his slumber, the King believes Sancho is the one out on the battlefield. As we soon see though, Ruy has more than his fair share of battle experience, especially given his training in the past. With a swift axe blow to the face, Ruy manages to secure the Kingdom with a single death.

With Rodrigo watching on, he shows his respect to his grandson when he staggers back before Fernando hears grave news; King Ramiro has taken the town of Graus and besieged the castle. For now, the people in Zaragoza will no longer pay which forces Fernando’s hand into sending Sancho and an army of soldiers in his stead – among them is Ruy.

As Ruy is taken away, Flain notices the wound on his shoulder and susses out that he’s the one who stopped the assassin.

The Episode Review

With more political intrigue, a lot of this episode revolves around Flain and Sancha’s plan to usurp King Fernando. The introduction of Abu Bakr certainly adds another layer of depth to this too, especially with all three Kingdoms on the verge of outright war. El Cid is just starting to tighten the screws now and you can really sense that there’s a big fight coming on the horizon.

Seeing Ruy put his combat skills to the test at the end is certainly one of the stand out moments from this episode, backed up by a quite literal spatter of blood to seal the victory. In fact, that ending leaves many questions on the table, especially given Flain’s obvious interest in knowing Ruy was the one who managed to stop the assassin.

Quite what’s next for our characters though remains to be seen but it’s certainly not one to miss!

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