“Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to you.” (Psalms 139:12). Let’s talk Marvel’s latest show, Cloak and Dagger.
Cloak and Dagger are a unique pair of superheroes. They’re complete opposites that can’t exist without each other, repelling each other by their actions, yet drawn together by nature. While shadows are formed by the absence of light, you could not know one without the other. Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger has resisted the urge to dive into the spectacle of superpowers to first understand the metaphor and fascinating dynamic behind the characters, and triumphs as a result. The two-part premiere established a compelling jumping off point for the rest of the series as the two leads (no pun intended) shone.
A pitfall so many comic book adaptations fall into when attempting to be realistic is to act ashamed or sorry of their source material. Cloak and Dagger successfully walks the line other shows and movies have failed to balance upon, where characters with real problems living in the real world have superpowers, and those superpowers inform and enhance the struggles the characters are going through. Cloak and Dagger is a dark teen dram about two scared kids dealing with trauma. But by making the source of their trauma the source of their powers as well, the show never faces a tonal problem between it’s gritty tone and sci-fi/fantasy plot elements.
The show doesn’t sleep on its visuals either. If their wasn’t an effort to play up the light/darkness imagery, I would’ve been disappointed, but luckily this isn’t the case. The shot from the opening scene of the young Tyrone’s hand reaching for the young Tandy’s through the water would have been enough to carry the pilot episode on its own. The darkness is the saving grace coming from above, sparking Tandy’s questions as she wrestles with the idea of God and fate. And you probably noticed, despite Tyrone not wearing a literal, long cloak that blends into his formless body, the show always made sure he had something close enough when teleporting. It shows dedication to the source material and the ideas the show is taking from. There’s also a good dosage of religious symbolism, which ties into the ideas of guilt and sin these characters embody.
Due credit should be given to leads Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph. They portrayed very layered characters from the get-go. From the times they were just normal kids, to showing the anger they felt at their parents and their past, you could always see the fear behind their eyes. These are different kinds of teen superheroes as opposed to Spider-Man, but they feel just as real. The first two episodes didn’t give them much screentime together, but the story is very clearly pushing them towards each other, so that should change in the coming episodes. And what time they did get to spend each other showed the chemistry they share, and it was good.
Now let’s get to the recap part and break down just what happened in the first two episodes. Don’t read further if you haven’t watched yet. Spoilers follow.
The pilot first showed us the origin of our two protagonists. Tyrone and Tandy both faced tragedy on the same day, caused by the same event. Tandy was a ballet dancer, and Tyrone followed his older brother and his friends around on the streets. Wanting to impress his brother, Tyrone stole a car radio. His brother told him they should do the right thing and put it back, but they were discovered by the police before they could. Cornered at a harbor, Tyrone’s brother tried to protect him and explain what happened. But before he could talk tot he cops, a nearby offshore oil rig exploded. Startled by the explosion, one of the cops instinctively shot Tyrone’s brother twice, sending his body into the water. Tyrone dived in after him, fruitlessly trying to pull his brother back to the surface. Tandy’s father was driving her home from ballet when he became distracted by a work call. Coupled with a storm, his driving became reckless. When the oil rig exploded, he drifted into the path of a semi and swerved off a bridge into the water to avoid it. The car slowly filled up with water as she pulled at her father’s unresponsive body. When both were trapped underwater, a second explosion went off at the oil rig, this time sending a blue shockwave through the water that knocked them both out. Tandy began to glow in a brilliant white light, as darkness enveloped the water around Tyrone. Despite the distance between them, their hands reached out for each other…
The opening seemingly implied Tyrone came from a bad home and Tandy a good one, but these expectations are flipped as we pick up with the characters years later. Tyrone’s family is wealthy and he plays basketball at a private prep school. Tandy, however, ran away from home and developed a drug problem. She lives in an abandoned church and makes money by going to parties and stealing from rich kids with her boyfriend, Liam. In the years since that fateful night, Roxxon, the company Tandy’s father worked for and the owners of the oil rig, blamed him for the explosion and took everything from Tandy’s family. Her mother became obsessed with suing the company, using up all their money and turning to alcohol to cope. The police denied having been responsible for Tyrone’s brother’s death, instead telling his parents he drowned after doing drugs. As a result, they became over protective of Tyrone and placed more and more pressure on him.
Tandy and Tyrone ended up at the same party one night, where they met and she stole his wallet. Running after her, their hands had an explosive reaction when they touched, activating their powers. Tandy’s hand emanated a dazzling light and Tyrone’s a creeping darkness. They parted, confused.
The next morning Tyrone awoke outside, on top of a building, discovering he could teleport. Not only that, but he had somehow teleported himself to the location of the cop who had shot his brother. Later, Tandy went to a ballet show using tickets she stole, mournfully watching the life she might’ve had. But the man she stole them from found her, cornering her in an alley. When he began trying to rape her, a dagger of light manifested in her hand, stabbing him deep in the stomach and letting her escape. The next morning Tyrone awoke to discover he once again teleported in his sleep, this time into the trunk of the cop car owned by the man who killed his brother. Tyrone discovered he was selling drugs the police confiscated as evidence and jumps him when he opens the trunk. Fleeing from the cop, he discovers he can see people’s memories by touching them, a power Tandy shares as well. When the cop began shooting at Tyrone, he ducked under a pile of trash bags and found himself transported back to his own home. Both scared of their new powers, they each took out an object they had kept from the beach they woke up on after that tragic night so many years ago. For Tandy, the hoodie the boy had worn; for Tyrone, the ballet slipper the girl had left behind.
The next episode dealt with the repercussions of Tandy and Tyrone discovering their powers. The man Tandy stabbed ended up in the ICU, as a detective began tracking Tandy down. She and her boyfriend agreed she needed to get out of town, so they began to search for the money to buy her a new identity. Tandy went back home to retrieve the money she kept only to find her mother had spent it on a new court case, trying to sue Roxxon again. She and her boyfriend crashed a wedding to steal the rest of the money instead.
Tyrone, meanwhile went to his school priest to discuss the feelings brought up by encountering the man who killed his brother. He thought the poison and hate in his life all started there, and he could fix it by going after the man again. While dancing with her boyfriend at the wedding, Tandy saw one of his memories, where he declared his love for her, and became guilty because she was about to leave him to skip town. Tyrone also saw a memory, but this time his mother’s, where he realized how deeply his brother’s death affected her and how scared she was of losing him too. He became resolved to go after his brother’s killer once again, this time taking his family’s revolver.
Tandy, now with the money she stole from the wedding, realized she could never keep herself from running away from her problems. She broke up with her boyfriend and stole a car. Her boyfriend, however, was arrested in connection with the stabbing Tandy committed. Meanwhile. Tyrone had found his brother’s killer and confronted him, chasing him through his own house until he held him at gunpoint. Just as Tyrone was screaming in rage, about to pull the trigger, he teleported away, materializing in in the road, right front of the car Tandy had stolen. His gun went off, shooting through the windshield and causing Tandy to crash. And that’s all so far!
The first two episodes presented Cloak and Dagger as a compelling teen-superhero drama, and I’m very excited for what comes next this season. I rate the series premiere a 9/10. What did you think? Let us know @SuperBroMovies.
Cloak and Dagger airs on FreeForm Thursday nights at 8.