This article may contain spoilers.
If you could see the future, why would you leave anything up to chance?
In the case of Tracey Jerrod (Mena Suvari), she is a quantum mechanics savant. She can predict the future based on the laws of probability on how physical objects react to one another. But what she cannot predict are unknown variables, such as people who appear unexpectedly. She can only take into account known people and their reactions, but not uninvited guests or participants.
So Tracey’s carefully planned assassination of Peter Fleming (James Frain) was foiled repeatedly because she could not predict when people would act contrary to known patterns of behavior. Her first attempt using the explosive dice in the casino missed its mark simply because she caught Fleming’s attention and his protective instincts made him duck at the crucial moment. Her second and third attempts failed because she did not take into account Vince Faraday (David Lyons), a vigilante intent on clearing his name. He was the unknown element in her carefully constructed scheme.
But, as Tracey’s father had forewarned, Tracey’s social skills were just a little off — she did not fully understand the motivations and emotions of others. She could only predetermine how people react to certain stimuli. And Tracey had no idea that Fleming had an reluctant bodyguard — The Cape — who needed Fleming kept alive in order to clear Vince’s name and that he would go to any lengths to ensure Fleming’s safety.
The battle for Fleming’s life was not predetermined like in quantum mechanics, nor was it a game of chance. As Fleming would appreciate, it was more a game of chess — each side used its players strategically to outmaneuver the other … the irony of it all.
Points Of Interest
1. T.R.A.C.E., the new artificial intelligence computer making the “quantum leap into the future” was fascinating. If there was such a computer to track crimes before they could happen, prevent corporate espionage, and know the mind of your enemy before he does, perhaps the world would be a better place. Albeit, a police state — which is what Fleming ultimately desires — but still a much safer world. It would have also been fun to see if T.R.A.C.E. could have come up with the identity of The Cape.
2. As Faraday and Orwell (Summer Glau) studied Tracey on surveillance tape from the casino, Orwell noted, “It’s like she walks between the raindrops.” It was a beautiful way of describing how a savant would move throughout a crowded room, for Tracey anticipates physical reactions and it allows her to move with such ease and confidence. Adding to this fun scene, Orwell then noted that the average person is caught on video tape an average of 300 times per day. She then slyly quipped, “Orwell’s watching. . .” Which prompted Vince to amusedly reply, “You really are creepy!” There is not much of a romantic undercurrent between Vince and Orwell, but they do have a fun vibe of their own that is expressing itself through their banter.
3. In an interesting twist, in this episode, Vince was torn between two mysterious women: one who wants to be the voice of reason and one who wants to seduce him to her side. When Vince incredulously asked, “You’re not suggesting I protect Peter Fleming?”, Orwell insightfully responded, “Only if you ever care about getting home.” Orwell is appealing to Vince’s sense of duty and reason, whereas Tracey noted, “You’re a blind-spot I didn’t see coming. It’s a turn-on. It reminds me I’m not god,” she was appealing more to Vince as a seductress. As one who is attracted to the game of it all. Initially Vince was drawn to Tracey and her willingness to just take out Fleming; but Orwell reminded him that the only way to truly get home to his family was to prove Fleming guilty of his crimes and not act as judge and executioner. It is a tug-of-war for Vince’s soul. As Max has once asked: shall Vince wear the cape, or shall it wear him?
Mena Suvari simply owned the role of Dice.
She was exquisite to behold in her stunning beauty. Plus, her ability to portray such a cold, calculating sociopath with a twisted sense of altruism was fun to watch. As a result, each step of her erotic, yet lethal dance with Fleming was oddly captivating. Even Fleming felt the magnetic pull. He may have found her spooky, yet she was also undeniably appealing. The dichotomy fascinated Fleming because he too is a hybrid. He is a composite of his normal self and his underlying alter-ego Chess. So he was simultaneously enthralled and challenged – and for viewers, the flirtatious, yet murderous banter between Chess and Dice was awesome to behold.
Asking the intriguing question of whether Vince’s fate was sealed by destiny or circumstance, Max (Keith David) curiously asked Vince, “You’re just Alice and you fell down the rabbit hole [and] the cape is your compass leading you home?” While Vince may wonder what his life would have been like if he had ignored Orwell’s email and not let it set off the chain of events that he is now shackled by, Max reminded him, “That’s the question isn’t it: if you had gone back to bed, would any of this have happened? Would fate have passed you by — or is this your destiny?”
Then, as Vince tried to fathom whether he has become victim of fate or destiny, Max offered this insightful perspective, “A fortune cookie once told me that fate is fixed — it is our destiny that must be seized.” For it does not ultimately matter if fate or destiny is controlling Vince’s future, all that matters is how Vince chooses to face it. If his future is controlled by fate, it is fixed and he can do nothing about it. If his future is controlled by destiny, then he must seize his destiny and create the future he desires.
Adding to the quandary was when Vince rhetorically asked, “I just spent the last 48 hours saving Peter Fleming’s life — was this meant to be?” and Max mysteriously replied, “Welcome to Wonderland.” The final mystery or perhaps the answer was revealed when at the end, Max sat reflecting on the fateful day when he heard about the train explosion and had told himself at the time, “There are no accidents” – while reaching in to the chest next to his desk and caressing the cape. Does Max see the future? Does he have a map of destiny? Did he know that he and Vince’s fates were intertwined? Who exactly is Max Malini and what answers to the future does he hold in the palm of his hand?
What Didn’t Work
Orwell’s need to protect her father while simultaneously bring him to justice felt disjointed. For a young woman who can command so much to do her bidding, Orwell is extremely childlike. It is as if the character were younger than being portrayed. She childishly wants to be close to her father, yet ruin him at the same time. She wants to punish him, but not kill him.
She even overreacted after hearing Vince voice his admiration of Tracey’s assassination attempt; yet interestingly has never intervened to protect other’s lives that her father has killed or destroyed. Orwell needs to decide if she wants to play a game, or if she wants to save lives. This is not a game of chess after all.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Dice” was written by Tom Wheeler, and directed by Michael Nankin.
“The Cape” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.