The Cape is dumb. The Cape is ridiculous. The Cape is fun. The Cape is terrible. The Cape is all of these things, but the one thing it's not is logical. In order to do a review of a show on a week-to-week basis, linear thinking is inevitable. I have to talk about themes, structure, and coherence. The Cape doesn't work like that. It's an aesthetic experience, more than a logical one. Writing a poem about it might make more sense than an analysis, because it aims for having moments and images of entertainment, more than a structure that creates entertainment. This is a structure in and of itself but one that's difficult to discuss weekly.
With that in mind, these reviews are going to be more recap-heavy. I'm aiming more to recreate the experience of watching The Cape than anything else, because it's fucking absurd and hilarious—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. In other words, my decade of watching MST3K as a teenager may finally pay off! So here we go, chapter-by-chapter:
From Russia With Love: Opening with the title of a famous Bond movie implies something. Not sure what, but it appears the Cape writers just wanted something famous with Russia in the name. Fair enough. We've got a Daniel Craig lookalike Russian guy in a prison, who pops out a tooth that he uses as a lockpick. I guess that makes it a toothpick! A-ha! He also escapes down a hatch that makes one of the Russians declare, “He'd have to dislocate every bone in his body to go down that!” Or be Tooms, motherfucker. Side note: “Squeeze” was the third episode of The X-Files. This was the third episode of The Cape. Coincidence? Yes. Very much a coincidence.
Out of the Past: Annnnd we've got our first flashback of the night. At least this was to a past episode and not to The Cape's mythical past with his perfect family. Then The Cape goes and finds one of his old crooked cop buddies, tearing off his car door with the cape. Because, you know, it's superstrong and stuff. He also quips at the cop. Dude, you are no Sarah Michelle Gellar. Please stop with the one-liners.
Then we turn over to the kid's first day at a new school, where the teacher declares that all of the other students will want to “friend him.” The Cape writers are hip! Flash over to The Cape who's practicing with his cape, apparently while commando. Thanks for that mental image. At least he's kind of pretty. No comic timing, which seems rather more important, but kind of pretty. Max busts in to give some mentor-style wisdom, declaring “either you wear the cape or the cape wears you.” Meta. Then our new Russian friend, Gregor Molotov, comes around, declaring that he wants his cape back. Duhn-DUNNN!
I Missed This Title If You Tell Me What It Is I'll Thank You In Comments!: Gregor and Vince meet, and it's revealed that he's not just Russian Daniel Craig, but he's also a clone of our star of The Cape. Seriously, what's the difference between the two, other than some scruff? Did Max look like that when he wore the cape? Does it have a thing for wiry, medium-height blond dudes? Anyway, Max tells Vince to bugger off about Gregor, as he can totally handle getting rid of the Russian psychopath by, uh, telling him to leave over and over. Yeah, that's a good plan. Vince responds with a “What concerns the cape concerns me.” Then he went and texted all his friends like “Hey guys, I just said this great line.”
The Max and Gregor situation leads to some cape-based mythology. Apparently, it's belonged to an escape artist named Kozmo through the generations, but later, more discussion indicates that maybe it was worn by Egyptian priests! Merlin! John Wilkes Booth! Hitler, Stalin, AND Churchill at the same time! And yet, despite all this history, despite dudes named “Chess” and “Scales” and so on running around, everyone seems surprised that anyone would look like a superhero. I guess The Cape fails at internal world-building logic. My innocence, it is lost.
Meanwhile, The Cape's wife, who looks a lot like Hank's wife from Terriers, has started work at the D.A.'s. Now, when she was interviewing for this job, she said she needed to find work. And yet, she's a practicing lawyer. Is it common for lawyers to become housewives for 10 years and then suddenly jump back into work? Anyway, her boss gives her a pile of cases that she has to work with, and she complains about the system being broken, a police state, etc., and her boss says that that's not her job, channels his inner Bill Rawls, and says that all she needs to worry about is getting through her cases. He does not proceed to call her a “gaping asshole” but I have to presume that's next week.
The nice-looking evil detective goes to see CEO Chess, telling him that they almost caught Orwell. Chess goes and shows him some vaguely insinuating blog posts and says that Orwell is a major threat. First, they came for the bloggers… “I want Orwell found and eliminated,” he says, but in case the point isn't clear he adds “…permanently.” He may have also said “…by which I mean with a bullet in the brainpan. See, this blogger needs to die. Do you get what I mean? Do you want me to draw a picture? A picture would be good. Let me load up MS Paint, hold on.”
The Cape and Orwell have a little hissy-fit of a scene where they snipe at one another in a poorly-lit room. I'm not exactly sure what kind of mood The Cape was going for with this scene. Was it supposed to be intense? Demonstrate sexual chemistry? Give us clues as to these two characters' motivations and personalities? Unless they were aiming for “having a bland fight,” they failed. On the other hand, I know exactly what they were aiming for when they had The Cape and Trip reading the The Cape comic aloud in their heads at the same time: stupidity. Mission accomplished!
Then we get an extended tailing sequence, as Gregor wanders around, disguised with a cowboy hat, and Vince tails him in his Disguise Hoodie. All these alleys look like Blade Runner, filled with steam, darkness, and clamoring crowds at shitty food vendor stands. Anyway, supercop Vince somehow loses Gregor when the cowboy hat changes hands, and therefore, he cannot help when Gregor finds a poker game, pumps the random poker dudes for info, and then kills them with cards, up to and including a dude sitting there dead with the ace of spades, because it has to be the ace of spades, sticking out of his neck.
Secrets of The Cape: Vince is trying to look around, and someone tells him that some dudes were murdered there “last night.” It looks like it's exactly the same time. The Cape has serious issues with time, like last week with its montages of indeterminate length. Were they three months? The length of the montage itself? 500 years? Who the fuck knows?
Rollo comes by to visit Vince, but Orwell is hanging out there. Rollo asks if she's Vince's “main squeeze” and she replies “I don't squeeze.” Thank you for that, Summer Glau. Then he invites her on a date to meet the circus, and she rides along on the back of his motorcycle, sitting sideways in her short skirt with her legs crossed. Like a real lady!
Gregor shows up again and makes some vaguely threatening comments, Max tries his “telling him to leave” tactic, which fails again, until Vince shows up with a bottle of vodka to get this party started. Gregor charms all the ladies, particularly Orwell, by reading her hand and saying she has daddy issues and used to be in prison. Then Vince shows off his party trick of pulling out the blood-stained ace of spades and saying that only a master magician could possibly throw cards that kill people, as if this is some kind of fucking courtroom and he just won with the surprise evidence. At least his carnie posse stands up menacingly behind him to threaten his Russian clone. And they are menacing, oh yes. Apparently. He wants to chase after Gregor, but Max tells him “That's not your job!” Vince replies “It is as long as I'm wearing the cape!” He doesn't seem to realize that as he said that, he wasn't wearing the cape, which lessens the impact of the scene somewhat.
The Show Must Go On: In what is theoretically supposed to be a making up/bonding scene, I guess, Orwell admits to The Cape that all those things that Gregor said were true, and he must be, like, really perceptive. Which makes them realize that he must be trying to get vengeance by attacking Vince's family! It's suddenly 5 p.m., and Vince's wife is leaving her work in a parking garage when she gets startled. The Cape is watching, but it turns out to be her nebbish boss, hitting on her. She accepts the hitting on-ness, as The Cape watches her go. As in, “I hate to see her leave, but I love watching her go." According to the camera which serves as his point of view, he's staring directly at her ass. Classy, The Cape. Guess it's been a long week/six months/500 years.
Meanwhile, it turns out Gregor is trying to get at The Cape through the circus. We find this out as Max is getting ready and actually says, out loud, “the show must go on.” However, he gets captured, and Gregor turns it into “Gregor the Great's Carnival of Fear!” which actually sounds a lot more fun. The Cape shows up, kicks his ass, and then slo-mo walks away with Orwell behind him, directly into the smoke-hazed spotlight. The director probably thought really hard about it and decided that riding into the sunset might seem a little too cliché, but the spotlight had just the right amount of subtlety.
One Man, One Fight, One Right: The Cape returns to his son, seemingly perfectly happy to encourage Trip's incipient psychosis. “No really, Mr. Guidance Counselor, The Cape came to see me, and he said I'm a good fighter, and my dad is awesome, and he rambled some shit about justice taking time, but it sounded good at the time! Then he told me to burn things!” The kid asks if The Cape ever says his motto, which is the header of this section, to which The Cape replies “once in a while,” which might be funny if David Lyons had any sense of comic timing whatsoever.
Then we find out that Orwell is Chess's daughter, but it's OK, because there's a shot of her in spandex twirling in the hoop. Please make her a superhero as soon as possible, The Cape. Summer Glau needs to be kicking ass.