As the show continues its struggle to figure out what kind of show it is, one of the big issues is that Vince is married and thus unable to be in a relationship, Orwell doesn’t really interact with people and is thus also unable to be in a relationship. The mother is the only one who has some potential for a relationship because she thinks her husband is dead, but you can see that she is struggling still (and how long has Vince even been dead for anyway?) and not ready for that step. Right off, the show has eliminated what is always a strong element of sci-fi shows (as Elizabeth Mitchell said, one of the things that can make science fiction really exciting is “the possibility of romance. I’m not talking about an icky romance, I’m talking a strong-person romance.”). Think Lois and Clark, Lost’s many romances, Buffy and Angel, Sookie and Bill, etc.
The major story of the show is Vince’s desire to be back with his family, which means taking down Chess. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any plan to actually accomplish this, instead working to foil his newer plans. (Even stopping Flemming from expanding, he is not actually stopping him.) As such, this story has not really progressed much since he started wearing the Cape. (I can’t help but wonder why he hasn’t revealed himself to his family and told them to keep it a secret…)
The superhero element is also missing the “weakness” element. Superman can’t handle Kryptonite. Loud sounds incapacitate Daredevil since it is how he finds his way around (he is blind). In truth, Kryptonite is a pretty lame weakness. I prefer a weakness that has more to do with a person’s abilities or personality. I suppose you could argue that Vince sometimes gets impulsive and overzealous and thus puts himself in danger but we rarely see it coming back to haunt him. (It doesn’t help that that Cape is sort of a silly hero thing in the first place.)
So, as the show struggles, it seems like the writers have suddenly had a new thought: “Hey, Summer Glau plays a fantastic crazy, why aren’t we using that?” I agree with that. She really does a great job as the not-quite normal person. There’s just something slightly alien about the shape of her face that makes it so believable. While I don’t think this will save the show (it didn’t save any other show she was in), I am certainly not complaining.
It seems more than a little unlikely that this show will be back for a second season, but I hope this doesn’t discourage networks from having other goes at the genre (it certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt the number of sci-fi and fantasy script/pilot pickups).
UPDATE: The show has officially lost its battle. The final episode will now air online only. I make only one request–please find Summer Glau something that sticks. She’s so excellent.