THE CAPE 1.04 ‘Scales’

Vince goes up against the Carnival of Crime while attempting to expose Chess on a train.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

THE CAPE 1.04 'Scales'

Episode Title: "Scales"

Writer: William Wheeler

Director: David Jackson

Previously on "The Cape":

Framed cop Vince Faraday (David Lyons) was thought dead and reinvented himself as the masked hero known as The Cape, with the help of Max Malini (Keith David) and his Carnival of Crime. While attempting to expose Chess aka Peter Fleming (James Frain), Vince became aligned with a beautiful young woman known as Orwell (Summer Glau), a blogger who is also trying to take down Fleming and his ARK corporation. However, she has yet to tell him that she is Fleming’s daughter.

Shortly after The Cape’s debut, the last owner of the costume, Gregor Molotov (Thomas Kretschmann) came to town to reclaim it for himself. Gregor eventually got a hold of the Cape itself, but Vince managed to beat him and reclaim his costume.

Story:

At the docks, Chess’ henchman Scales (Vinnie Jones) is shaken down by one of Fleming’s ARK guards. And thanks to a payoff to one of Scales’ crew, Vince realizes that Fleming is skimming money from Scales as both himself and Chess. Vince appears to Scales as The Cape and gleefully informs him that Fleming is Chess and tells him that he should target him at the Monte Carlo Train costume event that night. Vince tries to recruit the Carnival of Crime to help back up his plan of publicly outing Fleming as Chess, but Max informs him that the Carnival has other plans that night, while acting suspiciously.

As Vince watches the VIPs get on the train, he sees Rollo (Martin Klebba) disguised as the conductor and he realizes that the Carnival is robbing the train. Meanwhile, Scales confronts Fleming with the knowledge that he’s Chess and insists that he be introduced to the Mayor as his new building supplier. Inside the train’s costume party, Vince walks unnoticed as The Cape until he runs into Patrick Portman (Richard Schiff), the member of the prison board who he saved from Chess’ assassin. Portman is also dressed as The Cape and he offers to help him prevent the robbery.

Meanwhile, Scales’ unethical offers to the Mayor are soundly rejected and he alienates the other passengers. Vince catches up with Rollo and asks him to not interfere with his plan to out Fleming. One of the other Carnival members temporarily blinds Vince, who is helped to a chair by Portman. While Fleming gives an impromptu press conference, Orwell confronts him while wearing a mask of her own but she seems to retreat when he begins to recognize her. While pursuing her, Fleming is pulled aside by the Mayor, who asks him to get Scales to back off. When Fleming complies, Scales outs him as Chess, but everyone laughs and no one believes him.

Frustrated and humiliated, Scales orders his men to rob the passengers. Portman interrupts him in his Cape costume while Vince cuts the lights on the train. Scales sees Vince and follows him up to the roof of the train where he begins beating him. Vince finally catches sight of Max and asks for his help, but Max simply keeps on going. After seemingly knocking Vince off the train, Scales confronts Fleming and says that there will be war between them, before separating the train cars and leaving Fleming and the majority of the passengers on a runaway train.

Vince reemerges on the runaway side of the train and appeals to Fleming to help him stop the train. The two men team up to cut the break line, while Fleming studies Vince’s masked face in order to recognize him. Fleming gets the train to stop and laughs at the game of it all, but Vince angrily insists that it isn’t a game and vows to take him down. On the other train car, Scales is captured and held at gunpoint by the Carnival who lock him in a cage and make good on their robbery. Later, Vince confronts Max about their different agendas and warns him that they may not be on the same side for long. But Max laughs off his warning and says to enjoy it while lasts.

Breakdown:

"The Cape" is kind of remarkable in that it is so relentlessly stupid that it’s hard to believe that anyone thought that this was working. And it’s beginning to make "Batman & Robin" look good…

Starting off with the actors, everyone is giving atrocious performances. EVERYONE. But especially Vinnie Jones, as the Killer Croc knockoff, Scales. He’s the weakest link in a cast of weak links… and yet inexplicably, he’s given a larger focus here than ever before. Granted, he doesn’t have good material to work with, but Jones doesn’t bring any life to the role at all. He’s all snarls and accent. And he’s far from the only offender. Even the great Keith David flounders this time out and he isn’t able to reconcile Max’s sudden shift in attitude.

I know I called out the Carnival of Crime for not committing any crimes last week, but even when they do so this week their M.O. is mystifying. How does no one notice a midget conductor?! And the conflict with Vince just seemed false. If it was an attempt to inject some drama into the relationship between Vince and the Carnival than the result is a complete failure because things seemingly settle back into the status quo at the end of the episode. The only way this could have worked is if Vince had broken off his ties to them for turning their backs on him. That would have at least been interesting.

Even more inexplicably, the writer choose to team up Vince and Fleming in this episode, which seemed to take a lot of the fire out of their feud as well. And Fleming doesn’t even try to betray him! What self-respecting villain doesn’t try to stab the hero in the back? Plus, as Chess, he’s supposed to be bat-sh** crazy. You’d think he’d love the idea of some mass mayhem and destruction on the train.

Another recurring problem on "The Cape" is the continuous subplot of looking in on Vince’s wife and son… even when they aren’t doing anything relevant to the plot. This week, in the latest installment of their "thrilling adventures," Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) was stuck in traffic while her son Trip (Ryan Wynott) kept her would-be love interest (and boss?) Travis Hall (Mather Zickel) locked out of Dana’s apartment until she got their with Trip’s birthday cake.

Who. Cares.

Seriously, who cares about that?! Neither Ferrin or Wynott are compelling as Vince’s family and the writing just isn’t there to give them something interesting to do. Zickel isn’t that bad as the well meaning nerd, Travis. But he’ll probably end up either dead or secretly a bad guy. That’s basically the level of complexity that this show goes for on a weekly basis.

I would love to be able to just laugh off "The Cape’s" deficiencies. It would make a great comedy if it actually tried to be funny. But there’s never a moment when the writer or the actors acknowledge just how campy everything around them really is. They actually seem to be taking this tripe seriously!

And that is definitely the wrong approach.

Crave Online Rating: 1.5 out of 10.