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The Cape is now technically in its third episode, and it has gotten better. The first two episodes repeatedly insulted the viewers’ intelligence, while jack-hammering the audience with exposition. But, now that all of the set up is out of the way, the show can set about depicting The Cape’s weekly battle with the forces of evil, while exploring a bunch of subplots.
This week we learn much more about the eponymous cape. If you listened very closely in the pilot episode, you might have heard a line of dialog about how Vince’s special cape once belonged to a magician called Kozmo the Unkillable. This episode tells us that there have been many owners of the cape, each one taking on the name Kozmo the Unkillable (Much like the Dread Pirate Roberts). There are also some implications that the cape has supernatural powers. Frankly the show’s premise works much better if the audience is told that The Cape has magic super powers. Over the first three episodes, we see The Cape demonstrating superhuman strength and durability, like ripping a car door off it hinges, so adding magic into the mix actually makes it a bit more plausible.
The villain of the week is Gregor the Great, a Russian criminal and escape artist who was one of the previous owners of the cape. He’s broken out of prison and wants his cape back. Like The Cape, Gregor is a former protégé’ of Max Malini, and has mastered all of the circus arts. The Cape, in a metaphorical sense, is fighting his own evil side in this episode; that’s a classic super-hero story, and the episode demonstrates much better writing than the previous episodes.
There are also lots of subplots going on in this episode. Remember, The Cape’s former identity, Vince, is believed to be dead, and Vince has hidden the fact that he’s still alive from his wife and son (In order to protect them from the evil mastermind Chess). On top of that, everyone also thinks that Vince was really Chess. Now, Vince’s son gets picked on at school, because he’s “The Son of Chess”. At the same time, Vince’s wife is a defense attorney who has stumbled across a witness who could prove that her husband is innocent.
Then there is The Cape’s hacker-girl sidekick, Orwell, played by Summer Glau. No one knows who she really is, or what she wants, but all through this episode we get subtle hints about Orwell’s true identity. Then, the final scene just comes out and pounds us over the head with the answer. The good news is that this head-pounding scene also involves Summer Glau doing a trapeze act in tights. In fact, the preview of next week’s episode implies that every episode will have an excuse to get Summer dressed up in something sexy, so a certain segment of viewers might be interested in the show just to see what Summer wears each week.
As with previous episodes, there is an epilog where Vince visits his son while disguised as The Cape, then reflects on what he’s learned this week. The father/son relationship is one of the better elements of the show, and the best scene of the week involves Vince reading a comic book in his secret hideout, while his son reads the same comic at home. The two sequences are cut together in a way that’s actually interesting and a bit touching. A real highpoint for this show.
It is still a tad too violent to really make it suitable for children; Gregor kills several people in this episode by throwing playing cards into their necks. It’s derivative of comic characters like Gambit, The Joker and Bullseye, but such gruesomeness also keeps the show from reaching a wider audience. On the other hand, The Cape still has some goofy humor that will keep it from being taken seriously by most adults. Even though The Cape isn’t really worth watching, it is getting better. Now that the convoluted origin story is done, the series is showing some signs of potential.
Read our review of the next episode Scales.