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August 29, 2014

'The Cape' Season 1, Episode 7 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Feb 15th 2011 5:15AM
'The Cape' S01/E07['The Cape' – 'The Lich, Part 1']

OK, now that's more like it. 'The Cape' hasn't exactly been Emmy-caliber in its early goings, but 'The Lich, Part 1' was the strongest episode to date. I realize the bar for this show hasn't exactly been set terribly high, but in terms of overall mood, it was at times as hypnotic as the psychotropic drug at the heart of this initial hour of a planned two-parter.

The show has always worn its influences on its sleeve, but tonight, it basically wore them as a three-piece suit. Throw in a little 'Batman Begins,' some 'Lord of the Rings,' and then a dash of 'The Usual Suspects,' and you had this hour.

A toxin that can turn citizen's minds to pudding? Check. A man having an argument with himself including the line, "Go away"? Check. A crippled man revealing himself to be both healthy and the Big Bad? Put a check in that box as well. But here's the thing: If you're gonna steal, steal from the best. And since I like all of those movies, I ended up liking an episode of 'The Cape' that poured all three into a blender and gave me a superhero smoothie.

Since attacking the show has been like hitting a low-hanging piñata, I'm going to forgo the usual 'Cape'-like clunkiness with which it told its story this week and give the show some props. After all, I have no idea when I'll be able to do this again, so I will strike while the iron is hot. And yes, maybe 'The Cape' blew some powder into my face and made me a total homer for a week. If so, forget this ever happened if next week's episode is terrible.

So, some gerunds to help us break down what the show did right ...

1) Dripping the show in atmosphere. What stood out in the pilot for the show was its distinctive tone and look. It wasn't afraid to draw inspiration from the comic-book panels from which it was derived. But subsequent episodes shied away from that, removing one of the show's unique elements. However, tonight's episode had atmosphere in spades, both in terms of psychology (mind control always wigs me out, which is why I also hate things like The Borg) and décor (Conrad's room was a marvel in production design). A world in which The Cape can battle people like Scales, Chess, and The Lich deserves to be slightly-left-of-normal, and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was re-entering the world of the pilot.

2) Making the carnival relevant. The show didn't really seem to know what to do with Max and Company after Vince's recovery. They showed up in subsequent weeks seemingly out of contractual obligation rather than narrative necessity. But tonight integrated most of them quite well, from Max's insight into the toxin, Rollo's sympathy for the initial victim, and Ruvi's ability to psychologically pull Janet out from the toxin's effects. A little goes a long way with this troupe, but as long as that little is related to the plot, they should be integrated as often as possible.

3) Letting Orwell stand on her own two feet. Summer Glau has been criminally underused on the show, to the point where "Free Summer" shirts would be as ubiquitous as "Free Winona" shirts if, you know, anyone was actually watching 'The Cape' at this point. Orwell should be The Cape's equal, but she's barely been his Robin so far. A simple line like, "It's a good day," when spoken by her betrays decades of abandonment in ways that dancing around her true identity simply hasn't. Now that's she's potentially a new member of an underground, semi-undead cult, I actually care about her fate. A few weeks ago? I couldn't have said that.



4) Linking Vince back to his days as a cop, and therefore back to Marty. So far, there are cardboard cutouts in local grocery stores with more depth than Marty. By giving him the chance to work with The Cape, the show not only gives Vince an ally on the force but also gives Marty a chance to be more than a guy that sold his partner out the moment he saw a wad of cash flash before his eyes. If that relationship leads Marty to reconsider what he did to Vince, then maybe he can inform Dana of what's going on. Speaking of her, another thing the show did right ...

5) Minimizing the amount of Dana/Tripp. As shoehorned-in as the carnival has been, at least they can be moderately entertaining. But scenes involving Vince's family tend to act as non-prescription sleep aids. While her tearful speech to a non-present Vince may have been her strongest moment on the show to date, it's unfortunate that the very thing he's fighting for most is the thing most of the audience cares about the least.

6) Pumping up the jams. OK, not "jams" per se, but it's a crime that I've written about this show for so many weeks and not once mentioned the one uniformly strong thing about the show: its score. Bear McCreary, whose credits also include shows such as 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'The Walking Dead,' has brought an amazing amount of sonic accompaniment to the show, raising the overall level of some scenes beyond their own merit without ever overpowering them. My colleague here at TV Squad, Maureen Ryan, will have an exclusive interview with him soon, in which she details her visit to McCreary in the studio as he records the score to 'The Cape.' So be sure to check that out!

To recap: Far from perfect, but far better than we've come to expect. If this show sticks the landing on this two-part episode next week, it might have me almost ruing the fact that it's due to end after only ten episodes. Almost.

'The Cape' airs Mondays, 9PM ET on NBC.

What did you think of tonight's episode: a step up or another feeble ep? Does the show engage in homage of other pieces of pop culture or simple regurgitation? Is Chess still the best villain in the show or have recent ones eclipsed him? Leave your thoughts below!

Watch the full episode here:


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Gina

Hey I never expected Master Piece Theater okay?! I watch, it is a fun escape for an hour every week. NBC should keep the show, at the very least it is better than that "reality" tv junk.

February 15 2011 at 6:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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