This Cloak & Dagger review contains spoilers.
Cloak & Dagger Season 1, Episode 3
I’m not usually a fan of unreality-driven storylines. Dream sequences, temporary alternate realities, and vision quests are hard to justify in serial storytelling. Most of the time, they feel more like water-treading than narrative progression. Somehow, Cloak & Dagger manages to be a glorious exception, giving us a fascinating, affecting peek into the minds of Tandy and Tyrone through a Vodun cleansing ritual that brings them on a shared journey of self-discovery.
We catch back up with Tandy and Tyrone where we left them at the end of the last episode: with Tyrone teleporting himself into Tandy’s path, on a dark road outside of New Orleans. The bullet meant for Officer Connors speeds towards Tandy, causing her to crash the getaway car shge was using to flee her city and her life.
It’s a jarring encounter, one that gives Tandy a concussion and makes her unwilling to stick around and have a conversation with a gun-wielding Tyrone. This is the second time these two have crossed paths as teens—the first being when Tandy tried to pickpocket Tyrone. Sufficed to say, the relationship so far is not going super smoothly. Still, it’s pretty heartless for Tandy to leave Tyrone, a black kid with a gun, by the side of the darkened road as the police sirens race closer.
It’s beginning to become a pattern for Cloak & Dagger to tease us with a proper Tandy/Tyrone conversation, only to split these two crazy kids up again almost immediately. It’s a frustrating tactic, the slow-burn of this dynamic, but not an unpleasant one. We’re continuing to learn so much about Tandy and Tyrone, and their respective worlds, both. Right now, we don’t need them to be in every scene together. Besides, while these two may technically spend most of the episode apart, they share an intimacy in their visions that is far more informative than any conversation could be.
The episode structures itself in an interested way, showing us Tandy’s path following the side-of-the-road encounter, then circling back to show us what Tyrone has been up to in that same time. The parallel continues once Tandy and Tyrone both enter another plane of existence, Tandy with the help of her concussion and Tyrone with the help of a cleansing bath prescribed by Evita’s Vodun Auntie Clarisse. The visions allow Tandy and Tyrone not to better understand themselves, but to better understand the other. Tandy sees Tyrone’s hopes—namely, that his brother had decided not to go with his friends to steal the car radio that day—and his intense guilt over surviving when his brother did not. Again and again, figures in the vision give Tyrone checks to cash, gifts they claim he deserves, but Tyrone feels completely unworthy of receiving.
Tyrone doesn’t cash them, instead imagining different ways of punishing himself for his brother’s death. He shoots Officer Connors, which leads to his parents dying and the police coming for him with torches and riot gear. “American Funeral” by Alex Da Kid and Joseph Angel‘s rejoinder of “America the beautiful, America the murderer,” acts as a soundtrack as the police lynch Tyrone and he sets about choosing the same path again and again.
Tandy intervenes, breaking Tyrone out of the violent cycle by placing her dagger of light on the table of weapons. In Tyrone’s hands, it turns to handcuffs. He moves to put them on Connors, who runs away. It’s not going to be easy bringing Connors to justice. As we see elsewhere in the episode when Connors forces Detective O’Reilly to drop the investigation into Rick’s attack, he is thoroughly supported by a racist, sexist, classist system. However, this may be the first step to Tyrone trying a path that isn’t also about actively punishing himself.
While Tandy sees Tyrone’s self-flagellations, Tyrone plays witness to the flavor of nightmare Tandy lives in. In his vision, he sees Tandy watching her father be waterboarded by Roxxon employees. Rather than face the horror of it, Tandy runs… again and again. Like Tyrone, she can’t break the cycle of pain. “What do you think is on the other side?” Tyrone asks Tandy as she tries to desperately flee across a swamp. She just ends back where she started every time: forced to watch her father suffer.
Tyrone’s words can’t stop her, but his cloak eventually does, curling gently around her like a hug. He asks Tandy to stay, and she does, moving towards the glass box her father is trapped in with her dagger drawn. We don’t see the outcome; instead, Tyrone finds young Tandy in a church of her own making, poisoning her paritioners with communion hosts, including Liam and Rick. It’s how Tandy sees herself: poison to the people she loves and loathes alike. If Tyrone believes himself to be cursed, then Tandy believes herself to be a curse.
Taking part in each other’s stories is enough for Tandy and Tyrone both to gain the smallest bit of perspective in their own lives, and make some good choices. For Tandy, this means going to Officer O’Reilly and accepting her help in bringing Rick to justice for his attempted rape. For Tyrone, this means kissing Evita. In these moments, they both believe, at least for a little while, they are deserving of good things. Tandy believes she deserves justice and Tyrone believes he deserves love.
It’s heartbreaking that, at least in the former case, the emotional growth is not reinforced in a very positive way. Unbeknownst to Tandy, Connors has just strong-armed O’Reilly into pinning Rick’s attack on someone else and stopping with the investigation. O’Reilly doesn’t seem the type to succomb to threats, but, for now, it seems her hands are tied.
O’Reilly tells Tandy that she won’t be able to help her, though offers her sincere apology. It’s something that Tandy has an authority figure believing in her, but if those beliefs aren’t backed up with actions, Tandy will no doubt see this as yet another reason not to trust the institutions (like family or the justice system) supposedly in place to keep her safe.
While Tandy is putting some measure of faith in O’Reilly, Tyrone is doing the same with Evita, who continues to be a great choice of confidante. It’s Evita who takes Tyrone seriously when he tells her he thinks he may be cursed, going out of her way to invite him on her Voodoo tour, introduce him to her Auntie Clarisse, and even braving Whole Foods to pick up the items needed for his mystical bath.
It feels somewhat inevitable in a Freeform teen drama that Tyrone and Tandy will end up together romantically, but, for now, that is so not what this show is about, and I love that. I love Evita and her witty banter, her gentle determination to get past Tyrone’s guards, and her tour-flirting. Whatever happens between her and Tyrone, I hope she stays on the show as a fully-realized character.
The episode ends, as all Cloak & Dagger episodes seem wont to do at this point in the season, with another teasing of a Tandy/Tyrone encounter. This time, it’s at Tandy’s church of residence, which Tyrone seems to recognize from being inside of Tandy’s vision. Will this be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for: a proper conversation between Tandy and Tyrone that isn’t interrupted by concussions or pickpocketing? Will this be the first time Tandy doesn’t run away (I hear she’s been working on that)? God, I hope so. I’m eager to see these two answer some of their questions together, though I am enjoying their separate, yet intertwined journeys far more than I ever expected.
“Voodoo is at its core, a diverse collection of religious and cultural traditions that can either standalone, or be added to your faith.” I want to go on Evita’s NOLA tour.
When Tyrone and Evita sneak into Tyrone’s house, his mom is talking on the phone about the “optics” of some company. She also mentioned a scientist. Has she sold her soul to the Roxxon Corporation?
The episode begins and ends with the 3D printing of Tyrone into a Voodoo simulacrum that is placed onto Auntie Clarisse’s mantel, along with the other effigies. Um… I’m not sure how to react to this in general, but I trust Evita so I trust Auntie Clarisse.
Melissa’s lawyer boyfriend is starting to grow on me.
Tyrone prays not to God, but to Billy, which breaks my heart in about a million different directions.
Tandy in Billy’s over-sized sweatshirt gets me everytime. It seems to be the only thing that makes Tandy feel safe, and that thought hurts and heals all at the same time.