This review may contain spoilers.
7. The Lich: Part 1
I think I’ve cracked the mystery of The Cape. Ever since the first episode, I’ve noticed that certain clues have been placed in the series. Little hints that tell you the true nature of the show. Indeed, far from being a traditional superhero show, it’s actually a story about how skin conditions make you evil.
Well, either that, or being evil gives you skin conditions, but that makes no sense. An evil person could just rob some hydrocortisone from a bank or wherever they keep it. No, truly the skin condition is at fault. How better to explain this week’s twist, in which Johnny Orphan (I forget his actual name, and also the fake one he gave) reveals himself to be the episode’s true villain? If only we could have guessed that from the way he holed up in an evil-looking room in an insane asylum, and was also an obvious psychopath. How I long for those halcyon days where Vinnie Jones head butting a cage passed for subtlety.
The episode started in fine The Cape form, seeing an obviously evil man approach an obviously not evil woman and then – shock! – he attacks her with what might be that zombie powder stuff from Haiti (it is)! In all honestly, I thought Joss Whedon dismantled the ‘evil man attacks helpless woman’ trope well over a solid decade ago, but, apparently, the writers of The Cape were abroad at the time, wondering if there was any way they could translate their experiences fending off eczema-stricken bullies into some kind of televisual revenge.
Next, we join the Faraday family in their home. But wait? Doesn’t Vince’s family think he’s dead? What could be happening? It’s a dream. Has Vince finally resolved the whole ‘family thinks I’m dead’ dilemma in between this episode and the last? No, it’s definitely a dream. What’s going on? Why can’t his family hear his pleas for attention?! Oh, no, Vince! Vince! Don’t panic. We can hear you, Vince!
As it happens, that sequence was a dream, illustrating how Vince is feeling estranged from his family. That’s character work, you see.
Vince is asked to escort his friends (who are still criminals) to the site of a crime, one which was not committed by them. Nor, apparently, was it noticed by anyone in a position of authority. This leads them, somehow, to the woman from the opening sequence, who it turns out used to date Rollo, the cast’s resident little person. And while she’s one hundred percent less dead than expected, she’s got neurotoxin in her head that is making her insane.
As everyone knows, the cure for neurotoxins is hypnotism, so that’s what the members of Team The Cape do. Although, strangely, it doesn’t help much. Even so, they acquire the information they need, and through a process of careful and inexplicable elimination, they establish that something bad is going to happen at the Palm City Founder’s Parade! Something bad with neurotoxin!
Meanwhile, Summer Glau from, Serenity, the Firefly movie, is pursuing her own investigation, to try and find the man who turns out to be Johnny Orphan. She thinks he’s going to be their chance to stop the evil plan of Fleming, her very own father (or is he!? Yes, he is. Or is he? Yes, definitely), which involves him taking control of the port and the port authority, so that he can smuggle guns without worrying about paperwork.
I actually quite like the way that Fleming’s plans are all so achievable. Destroy the world? No, thanks, I’ll just settle for smuggling a few guns. You don’t see that in many villains these days.
Anyway, it turns out that Johnny Orphan isn’t going to help, because (as detailed earlier) he’s a villain. But, not only that, he hates Fleming, and he’s also the source of the mind-controlling/zombie-creating neurotoxin that is going to let him take his revenge on Palm City.
Luckily, at the Founders’ Parade, The Cape has figured something out, and can save them from the terrorist neurotoxin attack. Unfortunately, Summer Glau from Serenity, the Firefly movie, has been captured and neurotoxined by Johnny Orphan. And The Cape doesn’t even know. Cut to cliffhanger!
In all honesty, a two-parter was clearly too ambitious for The Cape at this early stage (if, indeed, four episodes from cancellation can be considered “early”). Faraday is barely in costume all episode, there’s very little action, with a lot of people wandering around arbitrarily getting pointed to other locations.
I’m expecting next week’s episode to be a lot more entertaining than this week’s snooze fest, which, frankly, induced a mild delirium. It would help me care if the cliffhanger had been more gripping, but there’s no sense of danger or intrigue, because it’s all so comfortably predictable.
You know where the best time for a cliffhanger would have been? A few seconds after the neurotoxin attack. Not a few minutes before it. I know that. Joss Whedon (who wrote Serenity, the Firefly movie, featuring Summer Glau) would know that. And I suspect that, ultimately, had the writers of The Cape known that they were only going to have 10 episodes in total, they might have figured it out as well.