Stars: David Lyons, Keith David, Summer Glau, James Frain, Jennifer Ferrin, Ryan Wynott, Mina Suvari, Elliott Gould, Izabella Miko
Writer: Tom Wheeler
Director: Michael Nankin
Network: NBC, Mondays @ 9 PM
Airdate: January 31, 2011
Given that THE CAPE’s hero Vince Faraday (David Lyons) is heartily upset about being separated from his wife (Jennifer Ferrin) and young son (Ryan Wynott) – whose sulks about Dad’s absence are driving Mom to tears – and he’s stuck helping his carnival protectors with their crimes, it stands to reason he isn’t exactly crazy about the man who got him into this mess: our main villain Peter Fleming, aka Chess (James Frain).
In the episode “Dice,” Vince is unsurprisingly unhappy when his advisor Orwell (Summer Glau) points out that Vince will never get home if Fleming dies, since Vince’s only hope of redemption is proving that Fleming, not Vince, is really Chess. When gorgeous Tracy, aka Dice (Mena Suvari) appears on the scene, Vince is put in the truly aggravating position of having to protect Fleming from the vengeful, brilliant young woman.
“Dice” has lots of great things going for it. Tracy is a savant whose gift of understanding mathematical probabilities is almost tantamount to seeing the future. Her abilities are presented in a way that allows for fun (and unforeseeable to others) Rube Goldberg methods of attempted assassination and achieved chaos, which lets both writer Tom Wheeler and the production team come up with some nifty little visual riffs – you may never look at a rolling quarter quite the same way again.
There’s also an enjoyable chemical click between guest Suvari and regular Frain as their characters simultaneously flirt and threaten each other. The chemistry between Frain and Lyons isn’t quite there yet, but perhaps it can’t be at this point, as both of their characters agree Fleming/Chess has the upper hand, rather than Vince/the Cape having any kind of useful goods on his adversary so far.
There are also questions of fate, destiny, whether these are the same and whether either/both are set in stone. This seems a bit blathery at first, but it gets a kick when we learn that carnival king Max (Keith David) anticipated Vince’s arrival before it happened.
Speaking of Max, David is as usual a delight in his scenes (unfortunately few in this episode). “Dice” also lets us see Vince’s less-confident side as he embarks on tightrope-walking lessons from the frisky Raia (Izabella Miko), with about equal parts help and razzing from others in the carny family. It’s nice to see Raia get a bit more personality and Elliott Gould shows up effectively in what looks like it may be a recurring turn as Fleming’s physician. We also get some hints that Fleming may be schizophrenic, with another personality that makes the one we know look downright winsome.
“Dice” is a highly enjoyable episode that has a lot going on and keeps us engaged throughout.
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