Episode Title: "Kozmo"
Writer: Craig Titley
Director: David Jackson
Previously on "The Cape":
An honest cop named Vince Faraday (David Lyons) was framed for murder by his former partner Marty Voyt (Dorian Missick) and his ruthless boss, Peter Fleming (James Frain) aka the masked killer known as Chess. Vince was put into Chess’ mask and pursed on live television by Fleming’s ARK police force before Vince apparently died in an explosion witnessed by his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) and his son Trip (Ryan Wynott).
However, Vince survived and was taken in by Max Malini (Keith David) and his Carnival of Crime. With Max’s help, Vince reinvented himself as his son’s favorite superhero, The Cape and took on Chess directly as well as his subordinates. Vince also made an alliance with Orwell (Summer Glau), a beautiful young woman who crusades against Fleming’s Ark corporation through her alter-ego while hiding her real name even from Vince.
In Russia, a killer named Gregor Molotov (Thomas Kretschmann) pulls off an impressive escape from a maximum security prison. Back in Palm City (which must be the slum version of Gotham), The Cape does his best Batman impression by trying to intimidate a police officer who helped frame him. He threatens to let the man fall off of a bridge, but the man fears Chess more than he does The Cape. Orwell tries to talk Vince down, but his activities alert ARK to their presence and to her headquarters. Later, Max chides him for letting The Cape enhance his anger. Gregor then arrives and demands that his old friend Max give him the Cape as he was promised. But Max pretends that the Cape is long gone and urges Vince to stay out of sight while Gregor is near.
Elsewhere, Dana settles into her new job at the public defenders office and meets a witness who claims he saw her husband being framed as Chess. Meanwhile, Orwell confronts Vince over the loss of his headquarters and temporarily takes refuge in his Cape lair. Later, Vince stalks Gregor, but he loses track of him quickly. At an underworld poker game, Gregor gets the assembled criminals to spill what they know about The Cape before he kills them with playing cards. Back at the Cape (not quite a cave), the midget strongman Rollo (Martin Klebba) arrives and invites Orwell to the carnival. But once there, they see Gregor confront Max again.
Vince defuses the situation with a well timed bottle of wine and Gregor shows off his skills by reading Orwell’s palm and gleaning accurate information about her. Around the same time, Dana brings her new evidence to Marty to at least clear her husband’s reputation, but he takes steps to bury it. Back at the carnival, Gregor works out that not only is Vince an ex-cop, but he’s also The Cape. Gregor disappears in a puff of smoke, with Vince vowing to go after him. While Vince goes off to check on his family, Gregor returns and imprisons most of the carnival in death traps before the evening crowd.
Vince returns in costume and saves Max while Orwell saves the others, but Gregor gets the Cape away from Vince and begins using its powers (WTF?!) to beat down Vince and Max. Vince eventually gets the upper hand and chokes out Gregor. The carnival members suggest that he kill Gregor, but Vince refuses and has them deal with him. Later, he and Orwell record ARK getting rid of the potential witnesses that Dana alerted them to. Vince slips his wife the photos of their surveillance under her office door and gives his son a pep talk as The Cape. Elsewhere, Peter Fleming looks into an old music box which reminds him of his daughter… the woman we know as Orwell.
After further reflection, I’ve realized that not only does "The Cape" make me embarrassed to be a comic book fan, it also makes me embarrassed just to be even a fan of TV in general.
It’s just epically bad and relentlessly stupid. That’s about as kindly as I can put it. None of this s*** would go over well in a comic, so why should it work on TV?
The one promising angle between Orwell and Chess/Peter Fleeming was handled so poorly that it was obvious she was his daughter as soon as he mentioned that he had one. Way to eliminate suspense! If either of these characters were well defined or compelling, it would be really intriguing. But describing the characters in "The Cape" as two dimensional cartoons is an insult… to cartoons! Every character here exists solely as an archetype and there’s no depth to any of them. In fact, the show is never more tedious than when it cuts to Vince’s son. And their bonding moments when Vince visits him as The Cape come off as unintentionally creepy.
And then there’s Gregor, the villain of the week. At the very least, he had a bit more life than James Frain does as Chess. But Gregor is still another stock character who was used in a misguided attempt to give the Cape itself a sense of history and mythology. On the surface, that’s not necessarily a bad idea. But because the show is cobbled together from so many sources, it introduces the idea that the Cape itself is imbued with supernatural abilities that can influence the wearer; which flies in the face of a hero who supposedly has no powers.
As viewers, we can accept a lot of unreality from our films and TV series as long as there’s at least one thing that we as a collective audience can grab on to. I thought that Keith David’s Max and Summer Glau’s Orwell would fill that need here, but they’re both cipher characters. In fact, I don’t even understand Max’s motivation at all. Why does the Carnival of Crime commit no crimes?
I’m not even sure how much of the failure rides on David Lyons, the star of the show. There’s so much bad writing, I can’t really tell if Lyons is doing the best he can with the horrible material or if he’s also part of the problem. There was actually one scene that almost worked, when Vince got choked up while reading The Cape comic and remembered the way he used to read it to his son. If "The Cape" had a real heart, a lot of the more ridiculous angles would be easier to put up with.
But what I’m most disappointed about is that this episode wasn’t even funny. "The Cape" can be as crappy as it wants to be, just let me laugh at least once during the hour. Is that too much to ask?
Crave Online Rating: 1.5 out of 10.