Cloak and Dagger Season 2 Episode 8 Review: Two Player
Cloak and Dagger goes arcade, but the gimmick isn't enough to support the "A" Plot of an emotionally-complex episode.
This Cloak and Dagger review contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 8.
Cloak and Dagger Season 2, Episode 8
There has been more non-real world narrative detours in Cloak and DaggerSeason 2 than I tend to like in a story, but this show tends to do emotional stakes and exploration so damn well, I’m willing to give it a pass—to a point.
This week’s detour saw us dipping back into the Darkforce dimension where Tyrone is stuck following his over-exertions to help liberate Tandy and the other kidnapped girls from the Viking Motel. This time, Tandy’s trip into the Darkforce dimension took her to an arcade where the soul of a near-dead Tyrone has been bargained away. Tyrone, frustrating with the very real struggles of the real world, is happy to spend his time here, playing a 16-bit video game version of his and Tandy’s crimefighting where winning is simple and, you know, possible.
As you might imagine, Tandy is not willing to give up on Tyrone. While she goes along with his gameplay for a while, she ultimately forces him to make a choice: stay here forever and play the game alongside Tandy or return to the real world. Interestingly, Tyrone seems to seriously be considering the staying forever option, a moment that doesn’t get nearly enough narrative space, before the decision is made for him—not by Tandy, but by Evita, who agrees to take her dead aunt’s place as a vodun priestess in exchange for Tyrone’s life.
The moment doesn’t hold the narrative weight it could because we’re so unclear what the actual stakes are here. Will Tyrone die if he stays? I think so. But what will happen to Tandy? Also, why is Tandy not pulling more tough love here? Furthermore, Tyrone’s desire to avoid the real world, while obviously a theme of the season, feels more reminiscent, in terms of intensity, to Tyrone’s character at the beginning of the season rather than now.
While it was cool to spend more time in the Darkforce dimension—the sets for this world have been so cleverly and stylishly designed—I’m beginning to miss the “real” world and what consequences and emotional stakes played out there look like. The developments going on with both Evita and Adina were much meatier than the stuff happening with Tandy, Tyrone, and Mayhem/Brigid, but were given much less narrative space.
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I understand the decision—Tandy, Tyrone, and Brigid/Mayhem are the protagonists of this show, but I think this episode would have worked much better if their respective stories’ narrative spaces were swapped. Adina confessed to straight-up murder during this episode, and it would have been nice to spend a bit more time with her to better understand her internal logic.
While we understand and perhaps even sympathize on a basic level, Adina seems to think she is damned for what she has done. Does she have any questions for Father Delgado past what this means, logistically, for Connors’ file? Does this show at all believe she had the right to kill Connors? How does it feel about his plea for forgiveness? There is a lot here to dissect and not enough narrative space with which to do it.
The same is true for Evita, who sacrifices her life, in some sense, in this episode in exchange for Tyrone’s. Frankly, I was rooting for her to choose the future she imagined for herself above saving Tyrone (which, for sure, was influenced by the knowledge that, either way, this show would not let Tyrone die). Evita doesn’t owe Tyrone this; she doesn’t owe him her life or her freedom, which is how this choice is framed.
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We haven’t spent enough time with Evita or her aunt to truly understand their connection to vodun or, in Evita’s case, her aspirations to go to medical school and have a life separate from her family’s tradition. As much as I enjoy spending time with Tyrone and Tandy, Cloak and Dagger should have spent a bit more time consistently on Evita this season, separate from her relationship with Tyrone, if they wanted to sell this development in a more effective way. Right now, we can see the strings being pulled.
What would this have looked like if Evita had chosen a life of vodun not because of Tyrone but for some other reason? There was a way to have her make this choice without feeling like she was at least slightly robbed her of her agency, and so soon after her aunt’s death. There is so little space for Evita to grieve for her aunt here, which makes her watching her forced to make a life-changing decision when she is so emotionally-vulnerable so tough to watch—and, frankly, a little cruel.
Even in its weaker, uncharacteristically-rushed episodes, Cloak and Dagger has the store of character goodwill the show has built up over its run so far to fall back on. This is clear in the final montage of the episode, which sees Tandy returning home to find that her mother has fallen off the wagon before and is drinking and taking pills again. It’s heartbreaking for Tandy, who has obviously just gone through an emotional ordeal herself. She needs people to provide emotional support now more than ever, and her mom is not there to do so.
However, Tyrone is, cloaking in to comfort a crying Tandy with a hug and a promise: We’ll get Andre. We’ll win this time.
Oh, did I mention that Brigid and Mayhem have joined forces? Brigid went on her own journey through the Darkforce, bonding with Mayhem over memories of their childhood and a manicure. It’s actually a really sweet series of scenes, though ones that hint at Brigid’s undervaluing of her own strengths as a force for not only good and results. Let’s hope that Mayhem keeps up her agreement to listen to Brigid, but let’s also hope that both Brigid and Mayhem learn to value the traits that their Brigid side brings to fighting crime and seeking justice.
If we needed another reason to dislike Andre, he ends up killing Lia in tonight’s episode, the last of her pain curing his headache for a while. While we knew he was a bad guy, there are the bad guys that have no problem causing pain to people they don’t know whom they simply see as resources to be spent and there are the bad guys who have no problem causing pain and killing their closest allies. Apparently, Andre is the latter. Was he ever a good guy?
Tandy is very lucky she had Evita to help guide her into the Darkforce dimension. I know I said I wish Evita had chosen not to save Tyrone, for her own sake, but Tandy and Tyrone really would be much more lost without her help.
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Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.