With Sancho bound for Zaragoza with Ruy, episode 3 of El Cid begins with the soldiers bidding the men and women in Leon goodbye. Just before Ruy goes, he informs the King that he stopped a threat on his life and killed the assassin. After gaining the King’s trust, Ruy sets off for Naragoza.
Sancha is obviously not happy with her son and the army leaving – and even more so given it means Fernando staying behind and thwarting her plans. Speaking of which, on the way out the gates Flain hands a knife to one of the soldiers, Pedro, tasking him to “make sure he never returns.” This, of course, is referring to Ruy.
Back in the throne room, news of the Vikings pillaging nearby falls at Flain’s feet to deal with, as he publicly tasks Rodrigo with help in this mission. That evening though, Flain brings Celso onboard with his scheme to usurp the King. As they talk about Ruy’s loyalty and how he’s the one who stopped the assassination attempt, Jimena happens to overhear their scheme and scurries away before being heard.
This brings her before Uracca, divulging everything she’s heard and begging the girl for help. Uracca has her own methods though and approaches Flain head-on, warning that she’ll spill all to Fernando. When she learns her Mother is involved in all this, she soon changes her tune. Instead, Uracca changes tact and manages to save Ermesinda from her ordeal, freeing her from Flain’s venomous grip.
Out on the field, the soldiers march across the Spanish plains before eventually arriving at the city of Zaragoza. It’s quite the spectacle too, as the soldiers watch Yusuf, Abu Bakr and the other Zaragoza soldiers begin praying. As they do, Sancho and the others begin praying louder.
Meanwhile, King Abu-Muqtadir learns that Fernando has only sent a feeble army to help out and sets about a suitable introduction for them. However, news of a “blessed” soldier – that being Ruy – certainly piques his interest.
For now though, all the soldiers and forced into bathing. There’s an interesting juxtaposition of services that follow; cutting between Fernando in church and Abu-Muqtadir in Zaragoza as they pray to their deities.
After a brief meeting with a fierce lady called Armina, Ruy follows the other soldiers into the throne room to discuss the fate of the Kingdoms. Zaragoza are not happy with the lack of men sent but Sancho promises to head out in the morning to stop the approaching forces.
For now though, the soldiers enjoy the festivities and the evening’s entertainment. Among them is Ruy of course, who finds himself in the presence of Armina once more. While she entertains the men, Ruy can’t keep his eyes off her. After a run in with Sancho that night, Ruy is warned to stop following him despite being his squire. As everyone turns in for the night, uneasiness stirs in the air.
In the morning, the soldiers are briefed on the battle ahead and the best way of approaching this fight. Deciding they should fight out in the open, Ruy is reluctant to Sancho’s idea but obviously he has no say in what happens given he’s just a squire.
Back in Leon, Fernando learns from Ermesinda that Queen Sancha is part of the scheming to usurp him from the throne. In order to remind his wife of her place, Fernando gives her a necklace and puts it round her neck; a symbolic gesture to show she belongs to him. Sancha plays her part well though, feigning terror before eventually allowing the King to make love to her.
On the eve of battle, Ruy is forced into taking the first watch over Ramiro’s forces. There, he begins calling out to the different birds until Pedro sneaks up behind him. Just before he strikes however, Sadaba shows and kills the man, subsequently saving Ruy’s life.
The Episode Review
With all roads leading to war, the conflict between Fernando and Ramiro’s forces reach fever pitch and threaten to spill over and explode at any moment. Seeing Zaragoza and the different religious divides between the Kingdoms is certainly an intriguing aspect of this episode too, typified by that lovely shot of both sermons taking place simultaneously.
Of course, much like Amazon’s other historical epic, Vikings, the history here isn’t fully accurate but the upcoming battle with Ramiro’s forces has been well-documented so it’ll be interesting to see how that translates to the small screen.
So far though El Cid has been a really compelling Spanish history drama and the storyline is advancing nicely and at a decent pace. With 2 episodes to go, it looks like we’re gearing up for quite the dramatic finish!