This review may contain spoilers.
To give The Cape its credit, the show has somehow managed to get recognisable faces into the cast. From Summer Glau to Keith David, there’s a lot of geek goodwill here to buoy your interest whenever the plot, acting, effects and dialogue start to struggle. The fact that this episode guest starred both Mena Suvari and Elliott Gould should tell you quite how poor it was in all those other respects.
This episode was the first where the show’s own can-do spirit in the face of massive inadequacies stopped being amusing and started being irritating. It wasn’t ‘so bad it’s good’ territory, so much as ‘so bad I was hoping a wayward truck might burst through the wall so that I wouldn’t have to watch the end of the episode’ territory.
This week, the villain was Tracey (aka Dice), a precognitive savant played by Mena Suvari. Yes, that’s right, precognitive savant. Admittedly, the show tried to explain this without resorting to outright sci-fi/fantasy, but it’s telling that the first time the show tries to stretch itself past the pulpy, but grounded villains into the realm of actual superpowers, it started to feel a bit ridiculous.
For the record, I don’t buy the ‘unique form of autism that gives her insight into the world of quantum probabilities’ dismissal for a second. That’s not how autism or quantum probability works. And, frankly, if you’re going to call a character autistic, maybe she should, I don’t know, display some autistic qualities? Besides her spreadsheet-vision and the world’s most insane wallchart, I mean. Just a thought.
Suvari’s role in the plot was, admittedly, a bit more interesting than the rest of the episode suggested. She appeared as the daughter of a researcher Chess killed, now grown up and ready to exact her revenge. Ordinarily, I’d say it makes a change to see a villain fixating on someone other than Faraday, but then, that’s what happened last episode too, to an extent.
At this point, Chess and The Cape are practically old friends, having spent two out of five episodes helping each other out.
The story also fell down because of Fleming’s ‘invention’, a prediction device called T.R.A.C.E, (although everyone spent the whole episode insisting on mispronouncing it as “Tracey”, just in case we didn’t get that it was based on Dice’s brain patterns).
This software could allegedly predict the stock market so accurately that Fleming demonstrated it making millions of dollars in minutes.
So, naturally, rather than use these algorithms to make shedloads of money, he decides to mass produce the devices and sell them on. This, to me, is a bit like being given a machine that prints money and saying, “Excellent. Now if people want money, they’ll have to pay us first!”
The only properly fun sequence came during Tracey and Fleming’s second meeting, when she sets off a Final Destination/Rube Goldberg-style chain of events that plays out in split screen as her conversation with Fleming advances. Unfortunately, it distracted me from what was actually being said, but I don’t think I missed much, in retrospect.
You might notice that I’ve spent more time on the villains this week than Faraday. That’s because this episode’s pivotal Faraday scene involved, er, learning to tightrope walk. When the high point of your training montage is a nut shot, you know things have gone in the wrong direction.
Similarly, scenes of Faraday’s family seemed tacked on and pointless. At least when they appeared in previous episodes, they had something to do. This week, they were just there. Uninteresting, at best.
Far more on the interesting side was the backstory, which suggested a larger plan at work. The Cape has been good at tying its main villains into a wider theme for the episode, and this one involved the idea of free will versus destiny.
Apparently, Max knew Faraday would be joining their band in advance, a revelation that feels worryingly Heroes-esque, but I’m willing to see where it goes. Also interesting was the episode’s penultimate scene in which Fleming evidences some kind of multiple personality, or at least the ability to put in snake eye contact lenses. What does it mean? Who knows. Let’s hope they don’t leave us hanging long.
So, even though it wasn’t an entirely terrible episode, picking up considerably in the second half, this was still the worst one yet. With another three more episodes on the slate at least, let’s hope it isn’t the start of a trend.
Read our review of episode 4, Scales On A Train, here.
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