After a busy, poorly paced two-hour opening, The Cape settled down just a bit in “Kozmo.” This series continues to be mediocre at best and dreadfully awful in certain worsts, but there’s just something about it that’s uncomfortably appealing. I really, really want to hate The Cape. And yet, I cannot.
It helps because “Kozmo” doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about Chess, Scales or any of these goofball villains. Instead, it dives into the history of the circus, Max and the cape itself in earnest with a surprising degree of success. The whole plot is ridiculously goofy, particularly the conversations about the possible powers and dangers of wearing this specific cape, but you know what? It is also kind of charming. Apparently the cape belonged to a great escape artist named Kozmo — or a series of them, according to Max — but it’s also been worn by the world’s greatest villains such and I guess a few heroes like Merlin. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of Lee Harvey Oswald or Osama Bin Laden. But I think you get the picture.
We learn all of this because a former apprentice of Max, Gregor, returns from his stint in prison and wants the damn cape. He and Vince posture around each other throughout the episode, yelling about who deserves the cape and what it can do to people. Gregor is a villainous bastard, but he knows it and he’s trying to keep Vince from moving down that road. Gregor apparently knows that the cape lets people succumb to their rage, their indulgences, etc. and I guess as a cop, Vince shouldn’t be getting messed up in things like that. Of course, this is all nonsense we’ve heard before. Various iterations of Bruce Wayne are full of rage and so he uses the Batman suit to take that rage out on horrible people. This is what The Cape is going for. But unlike something such as Heroes, The Cape more or less knows what it is.
In other Cape news, Orwell is given more to do this week. Well, I don’t know if she’s really given more to do because there are certain moments where Summer Glau looks generally confused on what’s happening around her, but at least the episode makes it known that she’s ridiculously mysterious. The first two episodes weren’t too concerned with developing her past “Hey, it’s Summer Glau! Isn’t she hot?!” even though the audience could totally see that all the cool cars and gadgets come from her trust fund as Chess/Peter Fleming’s daughter. I appreciate that the writers didn’t try to drag out this BIG REVEAL because it was more or less obvious from the first 20 minutes of the second episode. That gives me hope that The Cape team knows what kind of program it is and isn’t afraid to just blow through plot like a hopped-up comic book. This is the best strategy to take, particularly when no one is going to take you seriously from the beginning.
Finally, this episode does a lot better job with both Vince’s wife and kid. I mean there still isn’t a lot to work with there, but at least the series is smart enough to have Vince begin to plant evidence for his DA wife to find. Again, it’s an obvious beat and one that’s only executed to middling results, but it could have been a lot worse. After the pilot, I didn’t expect much from either the wife or the young son, so it’s nice that the writers haven’t completely forgotten them. I could probably do without any sort of jealously Vince might have towards his wife’s boss that is sure to come about in future episodes, but I understand why the series has to go there.
Anyway, after three episodes, I’m still interested in watching The Cape, which is a lot more than I ever thought I would say. This is not a good television series, but it’s quickly gotten comfortable in its own, goofy skin. A lot of similar series never even reach that destination, so in that respect, The Cape is something of a success. It’s still a mess, but it’s a much more compelling and well-constructed mess than I would have expected.