Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger – Season 1 Episode 4
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger brings its leads together to discuss their connection and try to make sense out of the strange things that have been happening.
I have praised this show in my prior reviews for concentrating on developing Tandy and Tyrone independently of each other so that the show has a strong foundation that doesn’t rely on the two leads sharing every scene. This will allow for more expansive storytelling and establishes them as well developed characters in their own right. It’s a smart idea and has been working really well so far. It also makes the instances where they share the screen more impactful because we get to see how these very different people interact with one another.
This episode tells its story in a non linear way by peppering the conversation Tandy and Tyrone have throughout. It’s almost treated as a series of flashbacks intercut with the events following their encounter. It’s a simple yet effective way of showing hwo each of them were changed by finally having an opportunity to have a discussion. On a simple filmmaking level it also adds variety to the narrative by not leaving it too long before the setting and subject changes. It’s a good way to keep the audience interested while reinforcting that this conversation is very significant.
Much of it is fairly mechanical on the whole with time spent recapping what has happened while supplying dialogue that provides emotional context. For instance Tyrone talks about the Voodoo bath he had last week and explains to Tandy that it gave him insight into her current mindset. Tandy also reflects on the imagery that she witnessed last week and comes to conclusions based on what she saw. This was the weakest part because it turns Tyrone and Tandy into mouthpieces to explain metaphors that were far better left open to interpretation.
What works much better is explaining how they feel. Tandy compares her powers to the release that comes with sex which is quite an intense description and Tyrone amusingly does his best to play it cool in that moment while clearly having no idea what that feels like. It’s a subtle moment from Aubrey Joseph that comes across well and makes for the first time I’ve felt that he is starting to inhabit the character of Tyrone. Olivia Holt is still the better of the two actors but Aubrey Joseph is doubtlessly improving as he goes.
Tyrone’s feelings when it comes to his powers seem to be more rooted in confusion. He doesn’t understand them and doesn’t find any comfort in them at this point but recent events have led to a deeper realisation of who he is as a person and what he could become if he lets other people help him. Much of the fear drains away when they touch and their powers throw them across the room due to the intensity of the connection. Despite how violent it seems Tyrone points out that it felt good and this episode does give us the beginnings of a shared intimacy and a reluctant desire to explore that. I suspect the first season is about them establishing the beginnings of their relationship and looking to understand how deeply it impacts their lives.
The conversation also covers the race and privilege angle that the show has as part of its DNA. I’ve mentioned before that Tyrone’s family being very comfortable financially is an interesting choice because he is a walking contrast thanks to what his race represents in opposition to his family’s social standing. Tandy is very quick to point out that in terms of money he has absolutely nothing to worry about but he is able to counter that by reminding her that he feels that the whole country is trying to kill him everyday so his family’s wealth can only take him so far because he will be persistently held back by his race. It’s a reality of life that isn’t about to change and it does make things difficult for him. Tandy may not be wealthy but she has her own sense of privilege that comes with being white which means she can go pretty much anywhere without anyone being suspicious of her. Surprisingly the episode doesn’t make any points about Tandy’s gender being a limitation but that’s a small criticism as the perspective driven arguments are so strong. They work so well because each of them have such well thought out arguments and counter arguments but are also both ignorant about how things work in a lot of ways. Tyrone doesn’t realise the opportunities his social standing grants him and Tandy is ignorant to her own privilege because she constantly focuses on the negative aspects.
The privilege conversation takes a really dark turn when Tyrone reacts passionately to Tandy’s casual mention of suicide. He can’t fathom why someone would want to do that and challenges her to go through with it if it’s something she wants so much. It’s a statement made in the moment to be later regretted but it’s interesting to see Tandy’s reaction to someone calling her bluff. In the past she would often run from such a challenge but her new outlook involving actually facing her problems means that she hears the words and actually acts on the idea by wrapping herself in chains so she can die by drowning. This appears to cause her to fully connect to her powers and she frees herself but it’s surprising that Tyrone would challenge her and she would actually try. It doesn’t quite work for me because I never got the impression that Tandy was that emotionally damaged. She does power through life otherwise so it comes across as forced.
Tandy is able to use what she knows to help Tyrone consider another angle in bringing Connors to justice. He needs to infiltrate a police station but is unable to do so because he is immediately regarded as suspicious. She encourages him to do what she did when she stole his wallet and create a narrative that encourages sympathy to divert that suspicion. Tyrone goes with the narrative of his bike being stolen and uses that to get a look inside the police station. Tandy’s advice shows that her skills are well honed and she has a great understanding of what people respond to. It’s a lesson for Tyrone to learn and he definitely takes that on board.
This episode also leads them down a road to understanding their own families. Tandy has a really frank conversation with Melissa about her father and what his loss means to both of them. It’s a good moment showing a mother and daughter reconnecting while also further highlighting that Tandy is willing to stop running from her problems. It also helps Tandy deal with thie loss of her father in a more constructive way as she learns things about him that are more useful than her vague memories of him. They may bring her comfort but they don’t bring her detail and that’s what she needs at this point. At the very least talking to Melissa about her father brings them closer together and goes some way towards repairing the fracture that has developed in their relationship.
Tandy also reconsiders her feelings on Greg who proves himself to be a lot more than her original impression would suggest. She learns that he’s still married and uses that in an attempt to motivate her mother to dump him. She doesn’t have the context required to understand Greg at that point so makes that recommendation motivated entirely by trying to protect her mother from further heartache. It’s only when Tandy takes the time to get to know him she learns that Greg is actually a skilled lawyer who has a genuine case against Roxxon and genuinely cares about Melissa. She remembers that her powers allow her to see what people hope for in life and sees Greg imagining a happy life where he, Melissa and Tandy are a functioning family unit. His compassion for them is entirely genuine and it’s only in the paperwork sense that he is still married to his wife.
Greg and Tandy end up working together on the claim against Roxxon and Tandy sees things in him that she otherwise dismissed. Little gestures like helping him with dinner or talking to him with no judgement in his voice show this clearly and make their scenes together fascinating. Unfortunately it’s a partnership that doesn’t last when he’s killed by way of Roxxon fixing a loose end who appears to know too much. It’s a plot furthering action for sure but it affects Tandy profoundly because she now has a relationship with him that was developing into something interesting and there is extra weight added by the fact that she was the one who advised her mother to break up with him so now has to live with the fact that she didn’t have time to make up for that mistake.
Tyrone learns a lot about his family and his background when his father, Otis notices that his behaviour has been different of late and takes an interest in making sure that it doesn’t go too far. This takes them back to where it all began for Tyrone’s family; the community that his father grew up in. It’s a really striking plot as it wasn’t something I was expecting but works really well when presented on screen.
It’s basically about heritage and respect for that heritage. There’s the definite impression that Otis has left this neighbourhood behind but he has never forgotten his roots. He isn’t easily welcomed back into the fold but it is still recognised that he is one of them and there is a certain respect that is afforded him as a result. Interestingly Otis doesn’t apologise for leaving because he knows that doing so upset his family but at the same time he stands by the decision he made for the sake of his own life. For Tyrone this is a lesson in where he came from and learns that his brother was in training to take on a position of responsibility before he died. This plot seems to exist to heavily hint that Tyrone will follow in his brother’s footsteps and this might give him the focus that is required to hone his powers in the same way that Tandy connects to hers through understanding her own family. I personally know very little about Mardis Gras Indians so can’t comment if this is a fair portrayal but what is presented certainly seems like a respectful handling of the culture making great use of the chosen setting to further characters and plots.
The real takeaway from this episode is that there is an acknowledged connection between Tandy and Tyrone that goes beyond anything that either of them can begin to imagine. They both realise that they are being brought close together by it while also being pushed apart and that seems to be the underlying aim of this show so far; to allow these two characters to interact and learn things about themselves so that those lessons can be applied to their independent lives. It continues to be a fascinating direction that is being wonderfully explored.
Another excellent episode that proves that this show knows what it’s doing with the two lead characters. Peppering their conversation throughout the episode while showing the aftermath of it in their individual lives was a really nice touch as it allowed the interaction to be meaningful as there were constant examples of how they had been altered by it. They also cover some interesting ground such as the race and privilege themes that run in the background where both of them have an opinion that is missing some key information to make it complete. The important thing is that they both learn a lot from each other and use that to think differently about certain things. Some of the conversation drifts into explaining metaphors that didn’t need to be explained and the suicide angle is really unearned but on the whole this was a great opportunity for the characters to develop.
This is also an episode that furthers the parental relationships. Tandy opens up to Melissa about her father’s death and learns things about him to supplement her vague memories. She also gets to know Greg and realise that she was wrong to judge him harshly because he is a decent guy who wants to do right by both her and her mother. This partnership sadly won’t last because he’s killed but the fact that Tandy’s mind was opened to new possibilities through the aid of her powers and simply looking at the world in a different way shows growth. She also has a mistake to regret by telling her mother to break up with him. Tyrone learns a lot about his heritage when his father takes him to the neighbourhood he grew up in. It’s a very respectful portrayal of cultural traditions and hints that Tyrone has to find a place within that both to honour his brother and find his own identity.
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