Goodbye, Vince: Why we'll miss The Cape

Last night's episode may be the last we ever see of The Cape, NBC's splashy superhero show. And "Razer" was the perfect example of just why we'll miss this cockamamie show.


Spoilers ahead...

So if the phrase "NO CAKE FOR YOU" doesn't become a major catchphrase, perhaps featured on T-shirts with pictures of a scaly Vinnie Jones freaking out, then there's no justice in the universe. In case you've forgotten, back in the episode "Scales" (which all right-thinking people persist in calling by its original title, "Scales on a Train") we learned that the mob boss Scales had been imprisoned by circus folk as a child. And he'd been taunted by a little person who snarled: "No cake for you!"

So the clip above is really Scales passing along the abuse and trauma from his childhood. As a child, he was denied cake. And now, as an adult, he is denying cake to others. Thus the cycle is perpetuated.

But it's also true that "No cake for you!" is going to be the main thing we all remember from The Cape, the show's main catch-phrase. Last night's episode sealed the deal. And Scales, with his faux grandeur and attempts to overpower everybody with his personality, is a great character generally. Last night, we got to see more of Scales trying to be a big man, and it was just as great as in the train episode.

At the start of the episode, Scales has a meeting with Peter Fleming, because a shootout between Scales' guys and some ARK cops caused huge damage and cost two cops their lives — although, sadly, Vinnie's son Trog survived. So Peter Fleming comes to Scales and says he doesn't give a crap about Palm City, but he does care about the ARK brand. "If there is a perception that I can't handle a third-rate hood like you, how am I ever going to win a contract with the Chinese military?" To which Scales responds, "This is your little let's-make-friends speech? I suggest you go back to the drawing board." And Chess is like, "No, let's be enemies, but in a way that profits us both."

So they agree to carve up the city, and Scales gets all the outlying areas — including the area where Max Malini's circus of crime has pitched its tents. Poor Rollo gets his ass kicked, and Max Malini is next — unless the Cape can get over his sudden attack of reluctant hero-itis and help out.

All of this is just the set up for another story about double identities, something The Cape has actually done a really good job of exploring, in its ultra-campy way. Apart from the supreme silliness of characters like Scales — and his new colleague, Poker-Face, who needs to have eyedrops squirted in his eyes every few minutes — the main thing we'll miss about The Cape is its occasionally inventive takes on the "secret identity" trope.


So on the one hand, you have the Cape going undercover as Razer, an explosives expert whom Scales has brought in to deal with his criminal circus problem. Cue lots of Vince trying to act like a tough guy, which is mostly pretty fun — I like the whole "apparently your kid sister is who I need to kill to get a sandwich" routine. The show didn't overplay the "Vince wearing another mask" thing, nor did we get bludgeoned with the stuff about Vince trying to decide whether he wants to keep being the Cape, thank goodness.

Meanwhile, the way more interesting subplot had to do with Peter Fleming going to his longtime therapist and family friend to get rid of his other personality, the supervillain Chess. The therapist asks to speak to Chess directly, leading to this genuinely fantastic scene:

I love that the therapist basically makes a dirty deal with Chess and then lies to Peter Fleming about it — and Peter Fleming is on to him. The last thing Peter Fleming says to the therapist, after his miracle cure for split personality disorder, is that if he's been lied to, the consequences will be pretty horrendous. So if this show was continuing, I wouldn't bet the farm on that therapist guy living much longer — since if Chess doesn't kill him, Peter Fleming will.


Honestly, after last night's episode, I would happily watch a "Chess and Scales" show. They're just so much fun, even when the stories they're in don't make much sense.

Too bad the episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger — Summer Glau's Orwell isn't just being kind of apathetic and Girl Interrupted about her crime-fighting mission, she's actually in a white bed over a giant hole in space. Will we ever get to find out what's going on with Orwell? Maybe — my understanding is, they filmed a tenth episode, but it doesn't have an airdate. And the eleventh and twelfth episodes, which were meant to delve more into Orwell's backstory, were never even filmed. (Although I'd be happy to be corrected.) Maybe the DVD set will contain one last precious installment of television's zaniest superhero saga of all time.


In the mean time, we'll miss The Cape a lot more than we thought we would. Something about that gang of ludicrous characters wormed its way into our hearts. Maybe even Trog. Rest well, Vince.


Ghost in the Machine

Like I mentioned on the observation deck last night, I'd rather have a new episode of The Cape next week instead of two hours of The Event.