Queen of Swords

Season 1 Episode 2

Death to the Queen

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Oct 14, 2000 on
out of 10
User Rating
11 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Death to the Queen
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?moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • After a perfect first episode, we have (rather incredibly) a PERFECT SECOND episode!

    Please Note: This review contains spoilers.


    When a hero starts out strong, you really do root for them. But when a hero FALLS...you feel for them, cry for them and root for them even more.

    One of the key things to establishing the credibility and emotional investment of any kind of protagonist is their vulnerability. To see your hero come close to dying is heartbreaking. To see them actually fall and fade away is absolutely destroying. And when done properly, we've had such famous and powerful moments of a hero falling. Bane breaking Batman's back, Superman sacrificing his life to stop Doomsday and of course, I cried and cried and cried when Optimus Prime actually died in Transformers: The Movie (1985).

    So is that why I loved Death to the Queen so much? Well, yes, but there are plenty of reasons why I deem this episode to be absolutely excellent.

    First is Peter Wingfield, arriving onto the main cast scene as Doctor Robert Helm. The character immediately shows he has enough depth to show that he belongs with the main cast. At first sight, we assume Helm is an arrogant, self-centered, judgemental person, when he and Tessa get off on the wrong foot. But as the episode unfolds, and you realise first that he's a doctor, then an ex-soldier with a violent past, you shift from feeling disdain to understanding towards him, which is remarkable.

    Of course, Peter Wingfield's experience in Highlander evidently comes into play here, and it's what allowed him to settle comfortably into his role for Queen of Swords. His character and strange love-hate relationship with the Queen/Tessa develops wonderfully over the show's run, making him an excellent addition, which makes you wonder why he was only in ten episodes.

    But the REAL focus is the Queen herself. Shortly after her successful debut, comes her first real setback, which is perfectly natural given how inexperienced she is at this stage. The vigilante tries to save men enslaved and overworked by Montoya's cruelty in appalling conditions, and she walks right into a trap.

    The scene is just so tense, and when it all hits the fan, it goes from bad to worse. The moment when Tessa gets shot and falls off her horse (Chico) is truly shocking, and to see her clutch her bleeding abdomen is painful. Trying to escape her pursuers by falling off a cliff was awe-inspiring, as was the brilliant escape sequence where the Queen washes up on the beach and only just manages to escape with her life AGAIN brings about such a sense of relief.

    And that's when it truly hits the viewer, the realization that one day Tessa may not return home. It's all so well executed, particularly by Paulina Galvez (Marta), who comes home in tears upon hearing rumours of the Queen's death, and then sees her so hurt, and then has to injure herself for fear of Tessa's secret being uncovered.

    The relationship between Tessa and Marta received such beautiful focus throughout, with Tessa explaining to her surrogate mother WHY she has to keep risking her life, yet feeling such remorse for the pain she puts her loyal servant through.

    Marta: "First...I thought you were dead. Then I thought I would loose you again last night."

    I also loved Montoya's machinations. He really continued his streak of being a ruthless and cunning arch-nemesis, making his first attempts to find out who the Queen of Swords really is. The whole party sequence was an inspired way of trying to achieve this, particularly when he sees the wall stained with her blood, realizing she's here. This was cleverly adapted from Mask of Zorro (1995), when Don Raphael Monterro found out that Diego de la Vega was Zorro from discovering an earlier injury inflicted. This idea would also be used in Spider-Man (2002) to great effect.

    Tessie Santiago was also showing improvement. Although still trying to find her footing, Tessie was doing the right things. Her conveyance of pain, struggling to keep up appearances at the party, delivering some brilliant wit and serious exchanges with both Paulina and Peter, Tessie more or less delivered from an all-round standpoint. I reckon it was at episode 4 when she'd fully settled into the dual-role of Tessa/the Queen and was able to successfully play both identities, keeping them separate, and blending them together when the time is right.

    The climax itself was terrific, uplifting and directed to perfection. To see the Queen of Swords rebound from her defeat, save the workers, blow up the mine (with some inspired help from Doctor Helm) and save the day was a given, but it managed to stray away from being too predictable and the end result was near-perfect. The aftermath was most intriguing as well, seeing both Tessa and Robert back in the marketplace and the senorita cleverly paying the doctor back for her swiped apple. It provided some nice relief after a roller-coaster of an episode, but the way the two characters parted left me satisfied. It spelled out that underneath the childish bickering between Tessa and Robert, also exists a fondness between the two. Obviously, it was the Queen that Doctor Helm loves, but from the way Robert was looking at Tessa at the end, existed feelings for her also, as Tessie Santiago said in interviews.

    Death to the Queen (like Destiny before it) made for mandatory viewing. The fact that they were able to produce a follow-up that was on a par with the pilot was amazing, and kudos must be given to Jon Cassar for his brilliant direction. There's only ONE thing I can criticize, and that's the GLARING continuity error on the beach scene where the Queen, having disarmed and knocked the soldier off his steed, mounts his horse to escape, and then on the next frame, the soldier's horse magically transforms into CHICO! Bad oversight, but when the rest of the episode is so classic, I can forgive.

    Magnificent action and drama at its finest. Truly.

    Final Rating: 10/10moreless
  • Peasants are disappearing to be used in a goldmine run by Colonel Montoya who wants the gold to buy cannon from the expected supply ship. It is also an oportunity to kill The Queen of Swords.moreless

    Death to the Queen was the second episode but the first of the series to be filmed. Directed by Jon Cassar to set the style of the series, he also directed episode one Destiny, he produced a mini epic best seen on a large widescreen television as it was ,as the series, filmed in 16:9 . The story introduces Dr Robert Helm who makes an impression on Tessa Alvarado, but it is his interaction with Colonel Montoya who is reluctant to disclose his plans with the Doctor regarding a secret gold mine that drives the story. When as Montoya expects The Queen to interfere, Montoya sees an opportunity for Captain Grisham to kill The Queen. When Grisham delivers the "skin of the fox" Montoya holds a party for Dr Helm and is dismayed to find The Queen is still alive but wounded and attending his party. Using Dr Helm he attempts to find the identity of The Queen but is thwarted by Marta who discovers Dr Helm has a troubled past. A final showdown at the goldmine Dr Helm meets The Queen of Swords when she is captured by Montoya's soldiers and is reluctant to see her executed. 45 minutes with barely a wasted word from any of the characters. The uniforms of the soldiers and Captain Grisham were changed after this episode as being too "opera". One continuity error on the beach when The Queen disarms a lancer and takes his horse she picks up her swords riding Chico her own horse.moreless
Peter Wingfield

Peter Wingfield

Dr. Robert Helm

Anthony Lemke

Anthony Lemke

Captain Marcus Grisham

Tessie Santiago

Tessie Santiago

María Teresa 'Tessa' Alvarado/the Queen of Swords

Elsa Pataky

Elsa Pataky

Senora Vera Hidalgo

Paulina Gálvez

Paulina Gálvez


Valentine Pelka

Valentine Pelka

Colonel Luís Montoya

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • A continuity error occurs during the beach scene when the Queen unseats the lancer. She gets on the soldier's horse and the scene cuts to her riding along the beach to retrieve her sword but she is now on Chico, her own horse. This happened because the sword scene was filmed the next day using one of Tessie Santiago's stunt doubles.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • (Doctor Helm is reaching for an apple when another hand gets there first)
      Tessa: Pardon me, doctor, but I'm famished. I took your advice and didn't eat anything all morning. Just to see what hunger felt like.
      Doctor Helm: And?
      Tessa: Now I know.

    • Tessa: (about Doctor Helm) I thought he was the most ill-mannered, foul-smelling, arrogant...
      Marta: Don't tell me you've run out of insults.
      Tessa: Hmm... tarantula.
      Marta: Ahh... a tarantula with teeth white as pearls, broad shoulders, blue eyes...
      Tessa: Green eyes.

    • (Tessa is reaching for the last apple when another hand gets there first)
      Tessa: I beg your pardon, that was mine.
      Doctor Helm: Was it? We could share. Didn't think so.
      Tessa: You could at least of asked me first.
      Doctor Helm: Then I would have had to introduce myself and exchange pleasantries. That would've taken far to long.
      Tessa: So why not just grab it?!
      Doctor Helm: I was hungry. I still am very hungry. And obviously being a woman of wealth and privilege, you wouldn't know what that feels like.
      Montoya: Ah! Doctor Helm, you've arrived.
      Tessa: You're a doctor?
      Doctor Helm: I rode all the way from Texas just to steal your apple.

  • NOTES (3)

    • At Highlander fan conventions in the early 2000s, producer/creator David Abramowitz would explain that he named the character of Dr. Robert Helm (portrayed by actor and medical student Peter Wingfield) after his longtime writing assistant and script supervisor Andrew Helm.

    • Although, this was the second episode of Queen of Swords aired in markets where the show was shown sequentially, it was actually the first episode filmed. Producers, performers, and writing staff all reported at various conventions that the reason for that was so that Tessa and Marta might appear more like old friends rather than new acquaintances in the first episode aired called "Destiny."

    • Stunt people reported that Tessie Santiago would leave the Queen's gloves everywhere around the set, except on her hands. After all, they did film in the desert in Spain. At the original Queen of Swords official fan board, Mary Gallien--a stunt double and friend of Anthony DeLongis--related that as Tessie was about to stand up, as the Queen, above the rock overhead while the Sergeant at the mine below began his countdown before he killed a prisoner in order to make the Queen appear, Tessie suddenly discovered that she didn't have her gloves. So, while the cameras were rolling, Tessie quickly exchanged her gloves with her sword double, Roberta Brown, who was hiding near Tessie to help her stand up quickly while wearing her constricting Queen outfit. The exchange was made quickly enough to make her appearance run smoothly in the filming. Roberta Brown later confirmed this report during Fighting Fan and sword classes with fans.