mxpw vs. Frea - The Cape - Tarot

The Cape: Tarot
Season 01, Episode 02, original air-date January 09, 2011

The Cape must battle Chess and his latest accomplice Cain as they try to take down the Patrick Portman, the Secretary for the Bureau of Prisons, in an attempt to take over Palm City's jails. After narrowly escaping death, The Cape must rely on Orwell, Max Malini and the circus gang to nurse him back to health and then help him save Patrick before it is too late.

mxpw and Frea's review of the second episode of The Cape: "Yay, Summer Glau!"

...wait, you needed more than that?  Really?  Summer Glau isn't enough for you?  Fiiiiine, there's more snark, sarcasm, and yes, Summer, after the break!

See?  I wouldn't lie to you.  Well, I would.  Okay, maybe I would just
mislead you a bit. Hey, what part of Evil Overlord is unclear?
Frea: So, over years of watching TV -- I call it "research," thank you very much -- I've developed a theory that a pilot may get you hooked into a show, but it's the second episode that drives the show. Pilots are flash and dazzle to draw viewers in, but your second episode has to be even stronger, in my opinion, since you're still in the early stages and you need to keep your viewers. Well, the second episode needs to be even stronger, and the episode following, and the one following that, too. Let's face it, your first five episodes either need to kick serious tail or show the promise of future serious tail kicking.

Frea: I feel like the second episode of The Cape may have flirted with doing the latter, but definitely missed out on the former. Of the two hours, I liked it less than the first. But that presents a conundrum: there was more Summer Glau in the second half! It was like they're trying to break my brain with the paradox! What about you, Max? Your initial impressions of Tarot?

mxpw: I have to say that I feel largely the same way. The Pilot wasn't strong, per se, as we talked about in our earlier review. It had a lot of problems, but it set the world and outlined all our major players. Qualitatively, I'd have to say that it was the better of the two episodes, in terms of technical matters (such as writing and plotting), but as Frea mentioned, Tarot had a hell of a lot more Summer Glau.

mxpw: The episode was just okay. It was kind of a hot mess, with the plot all over the place and not much making sense. What this episode did do was give us a chance to delve deeper into the characters. We got deeper looks into Orwell, Dana Faraday, and Vincent. If this show is going to survive, it's going to do so on the strength of its characters, so in that sense, Tarot was moving in the right direction.

Frea: Definitely. They definitely jumped the gun...head first. And now that I've mixed metaphors, I'll keep going. The episode may have been about "Tarot," which I actually kind of like because I think a matched set of bad guys is always fun, but I felt like the show definitely showed its hand too early in this episode. Could've used a lot more build-up to get to some of the elements of this episode, while I felt others were perfectly timed.

Frea: The episode kicks off in Chess's penthouse apartment, with Monsieur Cape breaking in. It looks like everything's going well, except, whoops, no, it really was too easy, it's a trap, Vince is now on the ground dying from the most gastronomically-pleasant-sounding cocktail of poisons ever, and it's time for our hero to escape by jumping out the window to escape both Chess and his poisoner, Cain.

mxpw: Somehow, the Cape manages to defy the laws of physics and survives his fall from Chess's high-rise relatively unscathed. He is subsequently rescued by Orwell, taken to Max, who cures Vincent by using leeches and another poison. Miraculously, Vince survives, only to be subsequently grounded by Daddy Max. Vince goes all angsty teenager and leaves.

Frea: First, before that, let's all take a minute to admire the gull-wing doors of Orwell's sweet ride.

Frea: Maximus, if you choose, you can admire Orwell herself instead.

mxpw: *admires* Oh hello, Summer's legs, how nice to see you. So glad I'll be seeing more of you throughout this episode.

Like the hair, hate the dress.
Frea: Aaaaand moving on. So teen Vince goes and sets up an underground lair. These are essential for every superhero to have, magic or no magic. My wish was that he could have set it up in the actual Carnival of Crime and therefore Rollo and the Firebreather could wander in and make snarky comments, but dude seems to be a loner.

mxpw: After all, he is ONE MAN FIGHTING INJUSTICE. Excuse the all-caps, but I felt it was necessary, in case you didn't get the point while watching the episode.

mxpw: But anyway, so there is this guy named Portman who is the Secretary of Prisons (I didn't even know such a position existed) and he's fighting against ARK. Cain has been sent to kill him, but is repeatedly thwarted by Orwell and the disguises she raided from Sarah Walker's closet.

Frea: Oh, the Sorkin fangirl emerges: TOBY! I LOVE YOU, TOBY! Excuse the all-caps, I just love Toby.

Frea: And don't you mean Sarah's TARDIS?

mxpw: Right, right, my mistake.

mxpw: Do you think if Orwell got lost in it, she'd emerge on Earth-That-Was and find some way to join a rag tag group of space cowboys?

Frea: Can she bring Chuck and Sarah with her? And Beckett?

mxpw: Can she? I insist!

mxpw: That would be shiny.

Frea: Then yes, yes of course that would happen.

Frea: But back to The Cape, who has hung up his Cape...uh, I can't remember what happened next. Ooh, we got flashbacks!

Frea: Apparently Monsieur Cape was a black ops soldier and this is the episode where we get confirmation that he actually thinks about his wife, too, rather than pining for his son, because we see a really great flashback in which they have discovered they have two popcorn makers upon moving in together. I can see how this would be a problem. Anyway, they talk about the coffee can containing Vince's real identity when he was off being somebody else—somebody his wife wouldn't like—and then the flashback transitions to present day-Dana in a move that made me go, "Whoa, what?"

mxpw: Clearly they were using magic to communicate telepathically so they could both flashback at the same time. Duh, Frea.

Frea: You're right, of course. Must be one of the Cape's magic powers.

mxpw: Because he uses magic. To fight crime.

Frea: Yes. Because when magicians vanish on stage, that's real.

mxpw: Exactly.

mxpw: So then we get another scene of Marty (Vince's friend/partner) being shifty. Dana goes all righteous anger on who I can only assume is like in charge of the city Public Defender's office. Orwell saves Portman's life, and Vincent trusses up Cain in an obvious allusion to his gourmet background. Chess comes so close to having an evil laugh moment, but unfortunately, we are robbed of that.

Frea: Do you think that when you audition to be a villain on the Cape, they test your evil laugh?

mxpw: I would think it would be an essential part of any role, so that has to be the first thing in the audition process.

Frea: So when can we see Vik Sahay as a villain? Dude has the best evil laugh I've heard in awhile.

Frea: Heck, can we get him a recurring role? Less Jeffster!

mxpw: When Jeff dies in a freak dumpster diving accident and Lester, in a fit of rage against the world, finally snaps and decides he's going to get his revenge. If it's the last thing he does.

Frea: Sounds good. He could be the Waste Removal Remover. I'm pretty sure that'd fall under the minor Arcana of the Tarot, though.

mxpw: Obviously he has to bide his time and earn his spurs. Bad Horse doesn't send out invitations to just anybody, you know.

Frea: Yeah, and those invitations are fewer and fewer since I overthrew him last month.

Frea: So there were a lot of points, as I mentioned earlier, where I felt like this episode jumped the gun. It was still an establishing episode, like you mentioned, more insight into Orwell and Dana, et al, the birth of the lair. But honestly, a couple of the plots I was surprised to see pop up this soon.

Frea: Example A: The Loss of the Cape.

mxpw: Example B: Introduction of The Cape's Evil League of Evil in the second episode.

Frea: Example C: Orwell as a damsel in distress. This had better not be a recurring theme, writers!

mxpw: I think I may have to disagree with you a bit on Example C. I thought they did an okay job in the kitchen fight scene of Orwell holding her own against Cain, for the most part. Obviously it could be better, but it's the second episode and they are still trying to establish her character.

Frea: Hm, maybe. I'm sorry, re-watching Phase Three less than twenty-four hours after the first watch probably makes me biased.

mxpw: Oh I understand completely. Sarah Walker's badassery can really mess up the mind sometimes. Trust me, I know.

Frea: But okay, back to Example A. This felt like a late season arc to me. I mean, that's the thing you use when you've got everybody gunning for your guy: you take away his security at a crucial moment, make him vulnerable, and make him overcome even greater odds.

mxpw: You're absolutely right, but it's like I was telling you earlier, they obviously wanted to show Vincent's ingenuity and ability to fend for himself (though after the whole knife throwing thing, I'm starting to wonder about him). It was completely ill-timed, true. Though it did lead to what I thought was the funniest part of the episode, when Vince confronts Portman in his office and Portman makes the obvious observation that Vince doesn't actually have a cape.

Frea: It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Mystery Men where the Blue Raja doesn't have a single bit of blue on him.

mxpw: Right. And it's when the show makes fun of itself like that that I actually start to like it a little bit more.

Frea: As far as B goes, I can see this being a part where having Orwell on the show is actually a hindrance rather than a help. She spots Cain's very obvious, nicely-lit and perfectly clear Tarot tattoo and immediately reels off a bunch of expository stuff about the Major Arcana and the Tarot, a group of criminals, rather than allowing all of this stuff to occur organically and naturally. I'd have preferred a couple more episodes, like you said, in which they're piecing together the puzzle of this. Chess is your main bad guy, but he's the bad guy king, you gotta play chess to get to—I can't finish this sentence, it's bad enough that even I'm groaning.

mxpw: Hehe

mxpw: Yeah, welcome to this show. I imagine that will be a common occurrence.

mxpw: But you bring up a good point about Orwell. Will she become a fully realized character, or is she just supposed to be a very pretty exposition dump?

Frea: She had darn well better become a fully realized character!

mxpw: I am with you on that. Still, she had her moments in the episode: kicking the thug on the ground, rescuing Portman at the end. And she seems to think relatively quickly on her feet, though her dropping Vince off at the carnival really perplexed me as I didn't see the point of it.

Frea: They need to recognize that they are lucky, LUCKY to get to write for the beautiful and talented Summer Glau, and respond accordingly.

Frea: Sorry, went on a mini-rant there.

mxpw: Hey, if the Chuck TPTB has taught us anything, it's that people don't recognize a good thing when they got it.

Frea: That perplexed you? I didn't see it as perplexing at all. Clearly Orwell would have done her research and know that they use leeches, and I don't know about you, but Vince must be one lucky guy that his medical covers that awesome and highly-modern technique.

mxpw: Haha. Of course.

mxpw: The whole beginning of the episode was a mess. Starting the second episode off with Vince being dumb? Then I couldn't understand why a "fast-acting" poison took hours to kill Vince. Now I don't know much about poisons, but I would think something that kills quickly would not be foiled by leeches.

Frea: Yes. But can I just say, I love the way the poisoner (who I will compliment the writers on not making a woman, as poisoning is usually seen as a woman's method) listed the poison like a loving menu.

mxpw: Yeah, I appreciated that too. Kind of corny, but fit the show and the character.

mxpw: Oh, one other thing that made me scratch my head: Keith David telling Vince that he had spent good money on his train tickets. Just the last episode the man had a stack of money on his desk taller than Rollo. Was he just trying to go all Yoda on Vince or did he already blow all his ill gotten gains?

Frea: Dude! Keep up! Leeches is expensive!

Frea: Also, I'm pretty sure he has to pay Rollo not to go in and beat up Vince on a nightly basis.

mxpw: Well, that does make you wonder how much of a saint his wife must be then.

Frea: Clearly. I have decided that next time I have a job interview, I'm going to take Dana Faraday with me to coach me on how to intimidate my bosses into giving me a job and possibly dental.

mxpw: I did like that they let Dana actually do something this episode.

Frea: Also, maybe the key to the city. And free voiceovers from Morgan Freeman.

mxpw: She was practically a non-entity in the Pilot. It was nice to see she had that kind of fire inside of her. Though I had no idea she was a lawyer. I mean, really, show? I think you're pounding the "Yay! Justice!" button enough as it is already.

Frea: I do think it's unfair that Vince hasn't told her.

Frea: Keeping his secret from Chess (whose name I've forgotten) is one thing.

mxpw: Through both episodes, the one thing I kept thinking of was, "So...how is Vince going to react if his wife starts dating again?"

Frea: But it's not like Dana is this milksop, gossip who's going to blab everything about her husband. I think it's unfair that he's fighting so hard to get her back and protect her, and she doesn't get the chance to do the same when she's apparently a lawyer and can probably come up with other ways to maneuver around the evilness of Ark. I guess he wants to keep her safe because maybe she'll start prying and getting herself killed, but I don't know, I kind of get the feeling she's going to do that anyway, why not have Vince there to help protect her if bad stuff goes down?

mxpw: Well, I think the previews for the upcoming season showed that she was definitely going to start prying. My guess is that she'll find out eventually, but then I've been saying that about Ellie all season long and look where that's gotten me.

Frea: Yeah, if this show starts operating under the "lying is better if it keeps them safe" umbrella, I'm getting the Douchebag Detector Bat out.

Frea: Also known as the Douchebat.

mxpw: It's been upgraded to a bat now?

Frea: One word: Ellie.

mxpw: Wow, I can tell you mean business. It wasn't even a bat during Sham.

Frea: I learned my lesson.

Frea: And I'm pretty sure there might have been a blackjack in the Douchebag Detector Rolled Up Newspaper.

mxpw: Now that sounds more like you.

mxpw: So do you have any final thoughts on this episode?

Frea: I liked Summer's wig.

Frea: And TOBY!!

mxpw: And I liked Vince's computer setup. Such nostalgia.

Frea: Yes. Next week: more Orwell, and I'll forgive the fact that Vince has been dumb two episodes in a row.

mxpw: More Orwell and I'll forgive just about anything.

mxpw: So your rating?

Frea: I'd give it 5.7 Rampaging Faradays on an Interview out of 10

mxpw: And I will give it Two Summers in a Short Skirt out of Five.

What about you?  Thoughts on this episode?


  1. I understand that Firefly fan's have a fixation with Glau but I've never understood it. Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed Firefly (didn't love it though) and she was probably my least favorite part.

    I do hope this site doesn't start to become CapeInanity.

  2. Ayefah13.1.11

    THERE IS TOBY?! I may or may not have picked up Burn Notice after forgetting it because it had 1.1 episodes of Richard Schiff. The Cape looks...not very good, from what I've seen of it, but if Schiff is recurring...oh, cripes.

    I will say, though, that plenty of good shows stumbled on their second episodes. Chuck had "Helicopter" and didn't really start to discover its formula until "Tango". And Veronica Mars had the Paris Hilton episode as its second, IIRC. I doubt The Cape will be half as awesome as those shows, but not because of a second-episode stumble.

  3. I enjoyed the first two episodes but can anyone deny that Bear McCreary consistently writes top notch music for everything he works on.

    Between him and Giacchino man they have put down some amazing stuff.

  4. I highly doubt that two episode reviews makes a site "CapeInanity."

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the second episode stumble as it applied to Chuck and "Helicopter," an episode that I actually enjoy more now than I did when it originally aired. And, ah yeah, the Paris episode. I remember it well. Or not at all because I got through that episode as quickly as I could. *shudder*

    Yep. There is Toby. And he is phenomenal because he is Richard Schiff. *swoon*

    Great, OD, now I'm going to have to go back and listen to the music. *sighs* The things I do for you... ;)

  5. I know. I`m such a burden. How you bear it is beyond my capacity. :D

  6. I'm just making sure you guys aren't getting too off point. Be a shame to see some of the best writers in the fandom moving onto to pastures new.

    I will say the comments here have convinced me to give the Cape a chance, while Summer does nothing for me I've been a Schiff fan since the West Wing.

    And like OD I've really come to appreciate Bear McCreary, who in a travishamoccery was fired from Human Target after his brilliant work on that shows first season. The opening credit theme he did for that shows 1st season is one of my all time favorites, and the remixed-rock'n'roll version of it might have been ok on it's own but doesn't compare to the original. Ironically I believe they brought in the people who've been scoring Chuck to replace him and it just doesn't fit.

  7. Ayefah16.1.11

    Yep, Matthew Miller was a Chuck writer, he took over as the Human Target showrunner, and he brought Chuck's composer with him.

  8. So far I think his work on it has been hit and miss. On the one hand hes kinda done away with the whole B-movie/Pulp vibe that made the first season feel different and fun; McCreary's score was a big part of why that worked. On the plus side he's made the Chance/Guerero/Winston dynamic a lot more fun and playful. The episodes have been a bit hit and miss as well but for the most part pretty decent.


Please remember to be courteous to all other Castle Inanity commenters.