This Cloak and Dagger review contains spoilers.
Cloak and Dagger Season 1, Episode 10
“I need to go help some people.” “Why you?” “Why not?”
With that quick, simple conversation between Tandy and her mother, Cloak and Dagger summed up one of the reasons why this summer series is one of the best superhero shows out there right now: Its characters, though saddled with some kind of destiny, don’t fight for their city because they’re special. They fight because they are not. They are members of a city and community that is filled with people fighting in so many different ways, a city and community that has taught them what it is to be resilient.
Too many superhero narratives work so hard to convince their viewers that their heroes are special. Tandy and Tyrone may have powers, but their strength comes from the things most of us have access to: emotional growth, the support of loved ones, the unwillingness to settle for an unjust world, and the tenacity to keep fighting. If we stop calling that kind of bravery “special,” while still recognizing it as the heroism that it is, then maybe more of us will believe in the possibility of finding it in ourselves.
Superhero-ing isn’t a destiny, no matter what Evita’s Auntie might say; it’s a choice… one we all have. In the Cloak and Dagger season finale, Tandy and Tyrone make that choice. And it is so, so brave.
“Colony Collapse” picks up where last week’s penultimate episode left off, which means everything is going to shit. Roxxon explosions have started turning people into, as Ivan Hess calls them, Terrors. But before Tyrone and Tandy can deal with that city-wide problem, they need to deal with their own crises. Tyrone is on the run from the cops who have accused him of Fuchs’ murder, and Tandy’s mom is being held at gunpoint by Peter Scarborough’s personal assassin.
Both could run. They are even encouraged to do so by their parents who would rather see them alive than brave. But Tandy and Tyrone haven’t gone through an entire season of emotional growth for nothing. Tandy faces her hopes—namely, that she could stay and have a home—and Tyrone faces his fears—namely, Connors.
For Tandy, this means saving her mom from an assassin then running off to save the city. Her first stop? Mina’s, whom she saves from becoming Terror chow. Cloak and Dagger really played it slow and steady with the emergence of supernatural stakes in this world, and that makes the Terrors particularly scary. It says a lot about how much excellent character work has gone into the season, however, that the zombie outbreak is the least interesting part of an admittedly excellent episode.
The Terror outbreak is the most scary for the consequences it manifests. By the end of the episode, both Mina and O’Reilley have been exposed to the outbreak. We don’t get to see how it affects Mina, but we do get a last minute glimpse at O’Reilley, who crawls out of the New Orleans swamp seemingly near Mina’s house, all bug-eyed and flitty. She seems to have developed powers and, from the looks of the glares she is sending at the NOLA wilderness, she is well on her way to becoming Mayhem.
It’s an especially tragic fate for O’Reilley considering she has fought so hard for justice for Tyrone. In this season finale in particular the two have a strong dynamic. When Ty is on the run from the cops, it is O’Reilley who tries to come to his rescue. When they are trapped in the backroom of the police department awaiting their fate, she encourages Ty to save himself. She even semi-apologizes to Ty for the failure of the police as an institution.
And how couldn’t you be on Tyrone’s side when he is giving speeches like the one he delivered to the random crooked cop guarding he and O’Reilley? “Don’t call me boy. My name is Tyrone. My parents pay taxes and it’s your job to protect me … Listen, I get you’re afraid. We all are. Most of the time, we have a good reason to be. But, right now, I need you to find a reason to be just. To protect us … You took an oath and, right now, you have two lives in your hands. Understand that power.”
Tyrone may have some pretty cool supernatural powers, but, for my money, he is never more powerful or impressive than when he is wielding his words and those big earnest eyes to tell the truth. Tandy sees it, too. “You are Tyrone Freaking Johnson, baller ladykiller, master of space if not time, and you don’t need a cloak for all of that,” she tells him when he begins to doubt their chances at saving the city.
The pep talk may be an even bigger moment for Tandy than it is for Tyrone. It is the moment she stops stealing and starts giving. She starts with Billy’s sweatshirt, which she gives back to Ty after having stolen it from him when they were children. She doesn’t need it anymore, she tells him. She has things now: Ty, for one, but also her own hopes to drape around her and keep her warm on cold nights.
The two head towards Roxxon’s facility on the waterfront with the intention of shutting down the system overload that is causing the Terrors explosion manually. The valves are a bit of a MacGuffin, but it’s a good excuse to get Cloak and Dagger out on the streets of New Orleans and working together like we have never seen them (in the real world) before. With O’Reilley watching over them like a sniper guardian angel, they take out the Terrors as a team.
Of course Connors chooses this moment to show up, but while he may have stopped underestimated Ty, he still underestimates Tandy. Connors is so used to being the most powerful man in the room that he cannot fathom a world in which both this black teenage boy and this tiny blonde girl could both be more powerful than him. His mistake. Tandy slices his gun in half with her dagger and Ty transports him to the roof of a nearby building. (I guess he does side-alongs now?)
“I’m not letting you hold my life hostage anymore … I’m not afraid of you anymore,” Tyrone tells him and damn does it feel good. This is what letting go looks like. Of course, Connors doesn’t understand that concept. He only understands power and vengence and covering his ass. He lunges to push Tyrone off the roof, only for Ty’s cloak to reach out and pull Connors into it. I’m not sure what that was, but, at least for now, it feels a lot like justice.
With Connors neutralized, there’s only the entire city to save and, armed with the knowledge that only one of the Divine Pairing is fated to survive, Ty uses his powers to beat Tandy to the Roxxon facility and assume that sacrificial responsibility for himself. But Tyrone isn’t the only one who is done letting other people die for him. Tandy makes it there and the two make a new fate for themselves: they hold hands ans save the city together.
Does this mean the “one will die” prophecy has been avoided? Maybe not—this could just be kicking the can down the road. But, for now, New Orleans is safe from Roxxon’s supernatural shenanigans and both Tandy and Tyrone have lived to see another day. More than that, they have found some kind of peace with each other and in themselves. After using their combined powers to transport the Roxxon energy up and out of the city, they lie on the top of the Superdome, a symbol of New Orleans resilience, their hands tied together.
Tandy and Tyrone’s problems are far from over, of course. Ty’s life especially is forever changed. As he’s still wanted for Fuchs’ murder, he moves into Tandy’s church, on the lam from the law. Tandy moves back in with her mom, a huge step for the girl who has been afraid to stay for as long as we’ve known her. It’s with that renewed sense of hope that we see Tandy give her second gift of the episode: a care package for Tyrone. “I didn’t know you knew how to care,” he teases her. “I’m learning,” Tandy tells him, no longer afraid to hope for a better world. Tyrone taught her that.
Throughout the episode, we get vignettes about the Divine pairings of the past, complete with Auntie’s voiceover narrations. They reminded me a lot of American Gods‘ “Coming to America” vignettes and, while not quite as impressively executed as those are, they gave a sense of scope to this story that worked wonderfully.
Speaking of Auntie, what kind of spell did she do to switch the mark from Tyrone to Tandy? And what will the repercussions be?
Might O’Reilley and Mina team up? A friend at one of the Cloak and Dagger press tables at SDCC shared her theory that Mina could be Mayhem instead of O’Reilley, but wouldn’t it be cool if they were some kind of Mayhem duo? It would make sense for the Divine Pairing to have a duo of villains to face.
Tandy was especially quippy in this episode. Did anyone else notice that?
“If the city doesn’t destroy itself, you should lock that down.” Tandy approves of Evita, and who wouldn’t? She is, objectively, very cool. The way she just showed up and was like: Yeah, I know everything and here is some stuff you don’t know.
“That’s why I’m so fast so I can get there first.” Gah, this moment broke me.
They can hold hands now!
After going into Scarborough’s mind, the Roxxon CEO is left in the same kind of catatonic state Ivan was in. Is this the last he will bother Tandy?
I love how Cloak and Dagger casually inserted a queer love story into the vignettes. Were Jack and Bobo real? Is this a real thing? Google has failed me. Please come tell me on Twitter.
Tyrone’s mom has only ever wanted Tyrone to be safe. I’m glad we got to see the moment where she realizes that he is.
Where can I get this show’s soundtrack, please?
Tyrone moving into the church is one way to mix things up, but save money on awesome sets for Season 2. Well played, Cloak and Dagger.
See you next season, Cloak and Dagger fans! I love this show.