It's been the golden chalice of television scriptwriting since 9/11: Find something profound to say about terrorism 'n' stuff. Few shows have managed it, and as the years have gone by, it's gotten harder and harder. But The Cape made it look easy last night, with a spin on bioterror that I'm pretty sure nobody else has managed.
The originality of The Cape's approach to the subject matter is best summed up by Rollo the carnie, who says the immortal line, "Terrorist zombies? Now that's a bad combination!" Unless you're a TV producer, in which case it's an amazing combination.
I bet the writers of V are sitting around berating themselves that they didn't come up with the idea of terrorist zombies first.
So basically last night's episode had two separate storylines, which only intersected at the end of the episode, culminating in a cliffhanger that nobody who hadn't grown up watching television could have seen coming.
In the "A" plot, there are the aforementioned terrorist zombies, who rent a gardening truck from a woman and then turn her into a terrorist zombie too, leading to the great line, "Leave the cape. We want the cop." The terrorist zombie lady, who happens to be a friend of Rollo's, has clawed her way out of her grave and has gone kind of bonkers. Why did the terrorist zombie people bother to turn her into one of them and then leave her? Why are they letting her roam free to tell everyone their terrorist zombie plans? It's unclear. What is clear is that we need a surgeon... of the mind, to get her out of her fugue state and into a cantata state.
Max says, "I've seen this before, in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Haiti." Wait, is Haiti in Sub-Saharan Africa? That makes total sense.
As Rollo says, "Voodoo is not my speed."
Anyway, it turns out the terrorist zombies are going to spray a zombie neurotoxin at the Founders Day parade, possibly interrupting Damon and Stefan each trying to be more of a loveable bad boy so they can win over Elena... whoops, wrong Founders Day. So Vince goes and contacts his former best friend Marty, who somehow doesn't realize that Vince is the Cape.
And meanwhile, Peter Fleming is continuing his "privatize Palm City" campaign by trying to buy the whole waterfront, so he can use it openly to move guns, explosives and drugs, and turn it into a "narco-terrorist way station." (There's the "terrorist" thing again.) Peter Fleming basically sits in a meeting with the mayor and the Secretary of Prisons and says evil things in an evil voice, and the mayor is like, "Sure. We'll give you control over our port. Why not?" At one point, Peter Fleming is like, "Believe me when I say I will kill you all. I mean, I will kill this deal. That's what I meant. The deal is what I will kill. Not your children or anything. Maybe."
So the Secretary of Prisons goes to see Orwell, who always shows up in person whenever there's Orwellian business afoot — but nobody ever suspects that she's Orwell, or notices that Peter Fleming's missing daughter is hanging out in public all the time. Anyway, it turns out the waterfront really belongs to the missing heir of the super-rich Chandler family, so if Orwell can find him, he can stop the deal. How on Earth will Orwell find Conrad Chandler in time? Crowd-sourcing, baby. It's all about crowd-sourcing.
She goes to see Conrad Chandler, who doesn't at all seem like a supervillain... and then it turns out he's secretly behind the zombie terrorists. In fact, he's using the zombie terrorists to stop the narco-terrorism. And Orwell, somewhat annoyingly, becomes the Lich's latest victim and seems to be set up to be a damsel in distress for part two of this storyline. Ugh.
Let's just pause and consider the vast differences between zombie terrorism and narco-terrorism. I mean, okay, they both involve drugs, clearly. But zombie terrorists seem like they have a lot less fun than narco-terrorists. And narco-terrorism is all about big business, while zombie terrorism is underground. Given a choice between terrorism by zombies or druggies, which would you choose? Only The Cape dares to ask the big questions!
But none of that matters, because we're utterly fixated on the fact that Natalie Morales, former star of The Middleman, was in this episode. And she got all of one line of dialogue, which went something like, "Hey, Dana, come get a drink with us." She was the single female lawyer who goes out for drinks with The Cape's wife and their boss, Mr. Wandering McHands. She literally gets one and a half lines of dialogue, and then we see her giggling for a split-second during the actual drinking scene. I had to go back and rewind three times to be sure it was her, and then I saw she'd tweeted that she was in this episode.
Given that this was basically a remake of the "trout zombies" episode of The Middleman — except that they substituted terrorism for trout, for some reason — it was especially weird to see Wendy Watson popping up. You just know that Wendy would have dealt with the Lich, and Chess, and all of the other loopy villains in this episode, in like half an hour, and then been home in time for Art Crawl. In fact, the urge to write some fanfic about what Wendy was really doing in this episode is starting to burn a hole in my brain.
But let's get back to the main point of the episode: Which kind of terrorism do you think is better: Zombie or Narco?