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‘The Cape’ – Pilot/Tarot

A hero rises from the ashes to battle a villain corrupting the heart of a city

This article may contain spoilers.

In an ambitious endeavor to borrow from some of the greatest comic book heroes and their stories, “The Cape” introduces its own hero, Vince Faraday (David Lyons) — an honest cop unwilling to be seduced by corruption and ends up framed for murder.

Thought to be dead by the entire world after a train explosion, Faraday is taken-in by a circus group who aspire to be modern day Robin Hoods stealing from the villains attempting to take over Palm City. In exchange for sensitive security codes and information on his corrupt former employer, billionaire Peter Fleming (James Frain) — head of Arc Corporation and Palm City’s new privatized police force — Max Malini (Keith David) and his circus troop agree to teach Faraday a few tricks of their trade.

Modeled on his son’s favorite comic book hero and with the aid of a notorious magician’s cape, the alter-ego of Faraday, The Cape, is born. (Alas, The Cape just isn’t as fearsome sounding as let’s say Batman; so there is a running joke about the chosen superhero name that Faraday selected.)

As Faraday strikes out to learn all the magician tricks he can in order to take on Peter Fleming a.k.a. Chess — the master villain — and his evil henchmen Scales (Vinnie Jones) and Cain (Raza Jaffrey), the world of Palm City is slowly turning over the keys of the city to Fleming, who now controls the entire police force. Fleming’s next big goal is to secure the prison system and the only thing standing in his way is a civil servant by the name of Patrick Portman (Richard Schiff).

But Faraday refuses to let the City go down without a fight. Reluctantly joining him are Max and a mysterious young woman known simply as Orwell (Summer Glau). While Max is gifted in all forms of illusion, Orwell is mistress of the web. She is the all knowing eye keeping watch over Palm City seeking to root-out and spotlight the corruption springing up from within.

But like any good superhero story, there are a few bumps along the way. Faraday may want to be a superhero, but without superhero abilities, he is just a guy wearing a cape. Fortunately, this cape is super strong and has a weighted hem so that when thrown correctly, it can be used like a boomerang weapon. Alas, it is not so handy with breaking a 20 story fall from a building as Faraday quickly learns that even a strong piece of cloth has limits.

So, simultaneously, “The Cape” tells the story of a man seeking vengeance for having his family and life taken away and his attempt to become the hero his son always dreamed of. Being a superhero is not easy, but Faraday is determined to win his family back and clear his name. Thus, woe be to Chess, Scales and anyone else who stands in his way. They may be gifted in the arts of villainy, but a man seeking to topple an evil kingdom not matter what the cost is a force to be reckoned with.

Points Of Interest

1. While the show strives to aim for as much realism as possible, it still manages to invoke the feeling of supernatural splendor by the use of fantastic costuming. The Cape’s costume may seem a bit outrageous, but it certainly adds some needed texture to the show.

2. Another fun point of interest is the hot cars that Orwell drives. Someone is undoubtedly having a blast selecting the sleekest and sexiest looking cars for this mysterious girl to cruise around town.

3. Lastly, Faraday also picked out quite a nice little place for himself. It adds to the sense of driven loneliness that he chose to separate himself from Max’s circus troop and strike out on his own. It also means that it will be easier to meet up with Orwell for super secret plotting to strike back at Chess. Every great superhero needs a cool lair and it also adds nice layer to The Cape’s persona.

What Worked

The strength of the series rests entirely on David Lyons shoulders. Fortunately, he is a commanding presence and one feels that he truly loves his family enough to undertake such a momentous task as becoming The Cape and taking down the villain Chess. Lyons manages to not only make us believe that he is a die-hard loyal cop and loving family man, but that he would willingly create The Cape costume and persona in order to achieve his goals. Each time he wears the cape, it feels like he has slipped into Batman-mode. He will destroy those who inflict evil into this world — and they will pay. In lesser hands, the role would not feel as driven, determined and believable. But Lyons makes us feel like cheering for him and we feel his pain every time he misgauges what he can and cannot do.

Such as, when Faraday was struck by Cain’s poisoned knife and jumped out the 20 story window, we felt it keenly when he crashed into the car below and as he lay gasping for air as the poison seeped into his blood stream. Faraday is not invincible. He is just a man and he has a lot to learn about fighting villains through unconventional methods. But he has a lot of heart and demonstrates a ready willingness to learn. It speaks of a man who can adapt and will seek help when he needs it. For a hero cannot fight alone.

Adding to the strength of the series is the hilarious, yet admirable Keith David as Max. As Max Malini, the audience must believe that he can do all the magnificent tricks that he is teaching Faraday. Astoundingly, he pulls it off seamlessly and one actually believes he is such a great magician that he can disappear before our eyes. It is humorously done and we sense that he loves that fact that he has a new trainee to teach all his amazing illusions. One of the best scenes was when it appeared that Max was dying and he uttered his last dying words. Then just as Faraday was about to cry over his dead body, Max opens one eye and says, “Damn!” With that one word, one cannot but laugh. It was precision comedy in the midst of tragedy. But it also spoke volumes about Max and his fun, yet unique outlook on life. Max is the reminder that Faraday needs that life is both harsh and beautiful, but one must learn to work with and appreciate both.

Finally, while not yet fully introduced, Orwell as played by Summer Glau is another fun addition to the show. Having played the uber-intelligent, yet hindered by a fractured mind as River in the fan-favorite series “Firefly” and the protective terminator bodyguard in “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Glau is familiar with unconventional roles. As Orwell, her characters seems elusive so far. She is merely the wizard behind-the-curtain pulling the strings, and is not used to working as a team. Thus, she is hesitant to reveal her identity to Max and his troop for fear that her identity will be used against her. This creates an interesting dynamic as she works with Faraday to hinder Chess’ diabolical plans and yet remain in the shadows. Oddly enough, Orwell seems to be a master of disguise walking in and out of public venues with ease. So while Faraday is learning the art of illusion from Max, he is also learning the art of hiding in plain sight from Orwell. Glau’s natural grace and ability to adapt to any situation makes her ideal in this role. She is effortless and yet mesmerizing.

Between Faraday, Max and Orwell, they are the superhero team fighting from different sides — yet working together to help each other take down Chess — and because they choose to fight against the odds, they are the heart of “The Cape.”

What Didn’t Work

It does take some suspension of disbelief to allow oneself to invest in this new world of “The Cape.” The superhero name Faraday chooses is hard enough to believe, but when one surrenders to the story and allows it to be real, then the underlying heart is revealed. It just takes a little bit of faith on the part of the viewer that this story is one that they need to just let go and be a part of. Thus, one should adopt the philosophy: just enjoy the ride!

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Pilot/Tarot” was written by Tom Wheeler, and “Pilot” directed by Simon West and “Tarot” directed by Deran Sarafin.

“The Cape” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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