The Cape Season 1: Dice, episode review

Let’s not ponder whether Mena Suvari’s guest appearance in Dice means that The Cape is so beleaguered that it needs to bring in big names so soon.

Once again, in case you missed it – I really do enjoy this show. For all the perceived hamminess, The Cape remains a rather good superhero romp. And as Max Malini asked Vince tonight – did he think The Cape came with a set of instructions? No, just as Vince is still finding his feet as the hero of the show, the series itself is still searching for identity.

This episode, titled Dice after the savant (played by Suvari) who can predict the future based on rapid-fire equations, brought a new character into the mix and threw out a strange new dependency between Vince and Peter Fleming. Essentially, Vince comes to the realisation that if he kills Fleming, he has no way to ever prove his innocence. And naturally, that goes for anyone else who wants to kill Fleming – yes, Vince finds himself inadvertently protecting the man who ruined his life!

And to be fair, that’s something that the story doesn’t shy away from – Vince is rankled by this state of affairs, but powerless to do anything about it. Something else to be worried about – if he saves Fleming too many times, his enemy will perceive it as a weakness.

To briefly recap, we see a flashback sequence in which Fleming and a scientist are watching a little girl predict how a set of dice will fall. She gets it right each time. Flashforward to the present, and Fleming is announcing predictive technology based on Tracey’s brain function. Cue Tracey herself returning to exact revenge on Fleming for killing her father and mass-producing his technology.

While ordinarily Vince’s goals would be aligned with Tracey’s, he finds himself having to stop her from killing Fleming. (One preposterous point: at what point would Vince ever manage to get a confession out of Fleming? And even if he did, would he regain his life, really?) He even goes as far as to learn a complicated tightrope act in order to gain access to the ARK building which Tracey is planning to blow up.

Yes, it’s a little nuts that he learned a high-wire act in two days. It’s also inexplicable that Fleming’s manufacturing plant would be based in his office block. And as an IT dude of some years standing, it’s impossible in a post-9/11 world to imagine Fleming wouldn’t have an offsite backup of such business critical data as the T.R.A.C.E. program. But there I go wrecking a decent adventure story with logic. Again.

The key to enjoying this show is to realise that it’s mirroring a comic book fantasy. Suspend disbelief and all that. Overlook the slightly ludicrous parts, and you’ll find that The Cape is slowly improving. Keith David is priceless as Max Malini, and shamefully underused. I loved the scene between him and Vince where he asked “Why do you always bother me when I’m drinking?”, to which Vince replied “You’re always drinking!”

David Lyons is still a touch wooden as Vince Faraday/The Cape, but improving. There are moments when James Frain looks like he’s forgotten why he’s there, and there were several of those moments during Dice. Luckily, in his brief scene with Elliott Gould, we got a hint that Fleming may be playing the split-personality card. His ‘old friend’ leaving a chess board on the table at the end of the episode and Fleming’s creepy reptile eyes suggest something of that nature.

Are any of you Shouters watching The Cape at the moment – I’d love to hear your opinions…

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