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The “Divine Pairing” Take On Real World Hopes and Fears: A Season One Review of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger *SPOILERS*

Season one of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger ended on August 2, and — man, I’m sad to see it go. This show has been exhilarating, filled with drama, mystery, social consciousness, humor and, of course, super powers. Aubrey Joseph (Tyrone Johnson/Cloak) and Olivia Holt (Tandy Bowen/Dagger) do an incredible job of bringing these characters to life.

I didn’t know much about Cloak & Dagger until the show aired in June, and it seems Marvel changed a lot of the original backstory for TV. In the comics, the story is actually set in New York City, whereas on the TV show, they live in New Orleans. They probably changed the setting since EVERYTHING already seems to take place in NYC. New Orleans is full of life, culture, and history. I was impressed by how they used the city’s history and culture to add to the superheroes’ narrative — focusing a lot on the strength and solidarity found within the local community.

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Image: Marvel

Since I didn’t know much about their background going in, I wasn’t mad at this change, or really any others. I’m curious, though, what comic book readers think? For instance, both Ty and Tandy receive their powers in an explosion which is different from the comics —they originally get their powers by experimental injection. They also meet as runaways in the comics with Ty being the one who is poor and Tandy being the rich kid. In the show, it’s Tandy who is poor and they meet because she tries to steal from Ty who is hanging out at a party with friends from Preparatory School. Interesting choice to switch up the social statuses like that.

Changes and all, the show is worth the watch. By the end of the first episode, I was all in. You won’t help but feel all the feels for these kids. Both of them undergo tragic losses that leave them both lost and unbalanced. And the show does a great job of showing how important it is for them to come together in order to tackle their demons both internally and in the real world.

Here’s some background…

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Image: Freeform

Young Tandy loses her father in a car accident. She was with her father when it occurred. It was his fault. He was distracted by an explosion of a rig owned by his company, and ends up driving their car off a bridge into an area of impacted ocean water. She survives the accident, but her father does not. She gains powers from the contamination in the water, but doesn’t know it at the time. The company then uses her father as a scapegoat by blaming him for the explosion. This causes Tandy and her mom to lose everything. Upset by the incident, Tandy’s mother is driven into drug addiction, and young Tandy must fend for herself on the streets. Tandy learns to con and steal in order to take care of herself and her mother. She has an estranged relationship with her mother because of this and has a very hard time trusting others, even if they care about her. She mostly just cares about herself and misses her father desperately.

Tyrone is dealing with the tragic loss of his brother, Billy, who was shot by a crooked cop. He was there when it happened and even tried to save his brother who fell into the ocean after the shots were fired. This was also at the same time of the rig explosion, and because Ty was in the ocean when it occurred, he gains powers at the same time as Tandy — unbeknownst to them both. Billy died, but Ty survived. Because Ty was very young, no one believed that Billy was shot by a cop, and his parents (who we later find out, did believe him) kept it secret to prevent Ty from being a target. This left Ty extremely depressed and distant from everyone. He tried to appease his parents by following their rules and trying to fit in, but the “darkness” or loneliness was literally eating him up.

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Image: Freeform

Once Tandy and Tyrone meet, their powers from the explosion are unleashed, and they start to experience life differently. Their powers help them tap into an internal strength they never knew they had and forces them to see their situations from a new perspective. Tandy’s powers give her the ability to see into peoples’ hopes, and by doing so, she begins to trust others again. She learns that everyone isn’t against her and life isn’t as terrible as it seems. Tyrone is able to see into peoples’ fears, which helps him bypass all the lies everyone tells and helps him get closer to the truth of everyone’s feelings — which is all he really wants.

Tandy and Ty aren’t friends in the beginning, but their powers keep bringing them together, especially in times of need. They also keep having dreams about each other’s childhood, which I assume is really their powers trying to help them get to know each other better. Although they’re opposites, they’re also mutually linked, with one needing the other — like ying and yang or a “divine pairing”, if you will.

Their significant losses are what really bind them, especially since they both lost important family members on the same day due to malicious circumstances. They were both children at the time, and there was nothing they could do to change their situations. But now with these newfound powers, they realized they can finally do more — they just needed each other to figure that out.

When it starts to get real…

The most powerful episode, in my opinion, that still gives me chills is Episode 4 where Tyrone and Tandy have a REAL conversation about what’s going on in their lives. With no one else to talk to about their circumstances, they turn to each other. This scene is really telling because they touch on social issues actively affecting our world today. It was a powerful scene that showed how their dilemmas have deeper meaning and are reminiscent of many teen stories, specifically the feeling of when you’re old enough to understand your struggle but too young to have the power to do something about it.


Here’s what happened in the scene…

Tyrone: I always just…it can never be that bad.

Tandy: Sometimes it is. Sometimes that’s just life. You know that little girl in the church you saw passing out roofies like communion candy?

Tyrone: Yeah.

Tandy: That’s me. That’s how I get by. Or what I need to do for some sick reason, and I don’t know what’s worse —

Tyrone: But killing yourself?

Tandy: I think about it a lot.

Tyrone: What the hell is wrong with you? You have a life and opportunities, and you wanna waste it by killing yourself?

Tandy: No, I didn’t say I wanted to kill myself-

Tyrone: No, I heard what you said! Look…your life isn’t that bad, okay?

Tandy: Where do you live Tyrone? Good house? Good neighbors, you go to a good school-

Tyrone: You don’t know me.

Tandy: I’m sorry that your two living parents care about you so much. Must be a real drag, Sway.

Tyrone: What, you gonna teach me how to lie? You gonna teach me how to be a con man? Let me check your privilege.

Tandy: My privilege? I was just dropped off by a cop who told me that I can’t press charges against a guy who almost…I had a lot of things taken from me. And everything I have, I had to steal because-

Tyrone: Because you can! You can walk into any room in this world and never be questioned! Try walking into a department store looking like me.

Tandy: That’s not fair because I don’t-

Tyrone: The world does! This whole country’s trying to kill me every day. So excuse me if I can’t afford to sit around and contemplate suicide. You know what, you wanna die so bad, why don’t you just do it?

Tandy: You know, you forgot I walked through your hopes, Ty. Your hopes. And you know what I saw? I saw a kid committing suicide by cop over and over again. And you know what I think?

Tyrone: Go to hell.

Tandy: You have your own death wish, choir boy, so why don’t you go to hell?


This scene was intense and had everybody reeling, especially when Tyrone said, “Let me check your privilege!” It’s rare for a teen show to have a “woke” agenda, but with this entire scene, I couldn’t help but be proud of the writers and FreeForm for shedding light on real world issues.

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Image: Freeform

The argument sparks when Tandy mentions she contemplates suicide because she’s tired of living the con life day in and day out. Tyrone on the other hand is angered by this response, feeling like suicide is the “sucker” way out, especially for Tandy who has other options (even if she doesn’t believe it). What Tyrone doesn’t understand is that Tandy lost everything. Her father is dead, she has no money, no family or friends, is living on the streets, has a drug addicted mother, and she might be leaning towards addiction herself. She feels extremely trapped with no help. Even when she briefly trusted the police regarding an assault, they too let her down. In her mind, she has no options with nowhere to turn, and she hates how she currently lives. Living the con life isn’t living…and death seems like a better choice.

For Tyrone, death is constantly on the table. As Tandy runs toward it, Tyrone is doing his best to avoid it. Although Tyrone may come from a well-off home, it doesn’t change his experience of seeing his brother shot by a cop and the entire world doing what they can to cover it up. He feels like he has a target on his back and one wrong move will put him in prison or dead — regardless of his educational, financial or family status. And he understands that this is not just his situation but it’s the circumstances for black boys everywhere. If he commits suicide, he’s helping the problem, and the injustice will just continue. What Tandy sees in her vision is not him committing suicide by cop, but him needing to find a way to avenge his brother even if he ends up dead in the process.

Connections…

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Image: Freeform

Like I said…it’s powerful.

When I think about this scene, and the parallels it has to our reality, I applaud the writing team for continuing these important conversations that are very relevant and need to be discussed. White privilege is real. Racism is real. Police brutality is real. Sexism is real. #MeToo is real. And young people aren’t shielded, although adults like to think they are. The message this scene shares is that we have to stop being so narrow minded, and learn to see the world through lenses outside our own. Understanding is key, and everyone has a voice to help fight social injustices everywhere. You should stand up and speak on it. Not run from it. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it just only leads to more misunderstanding.

Episode 4 was the turning point in the show because the revealing argument between Tandy and Tyrone made them sit in their truth and own it. After their discussion, Tandy chooses to hone into her power and get answers surrounding her father’s death instead of continuing to run from her situation. Similarly, with Tandy’s help, Tyrone makes a plan to “out” the cop who killed his brother without focusing so much on killing him, himself.

Young people can learn so much from these two, especially those who are feeling trapped in their situations. Real teens may not have superpowers, but they’re more powerful than you think. The youth of today are changing the world because they’re unafraid to fight for causes they believe in. If this show has taught anything, it’s tells us to own our truths and to not be afraid to tackle our struggles. If you do, help will come, especially when you need it most.

Superpowers…

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Image: Freeform

As the story goes on, we learn more about both Cloak & Dagger’s powers. Tyrone has “Cloak” power, a dark force that allows him to teleport, see into the fears of others, and pull people into a dark dimension. To command the power, he uses a “cloak” or dark covering. For most of the show, Ty’s cloak is a long beaded garment that was originally owned by his brother. He acquires it when he visits the Mardi Gras Indians (the “Wild RedHawks of the Ninth Ward”). To honor his brother, he fixes it up and chooses to use it to obtain justice for his brother’s killing. It’s the perfect match for his power. When it’s sadly destroyed, he begins using a black hoodie — symbolic of today’s times and, of course, Trayvon Martin.

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Image: Freeform

Tandy creates white light that she forms into daggers. The daggers are super sharp and can hurt others if she wants them to. She also sees the hopes of others, and we later learned that she advances this power by learning to absorb the euphoric feeling of their hopes, leaving victims feeling hopeless. In the last episode, her latest move is that she can give people false hopes.

Their superpower progression was too fast paced for me. I wish we were able to steadily see how they gained their newfound abilities instead of seeing them randomly use new powers with each episode. It made their powers less believable. My thought is that since they only had a few episodes in the first season to work with, writers had to focus less on their powers and more on the depth of the characters. Hopefully, for season 2 we’ll get to see more superpower action with further explanation of how their powers operate.

How it all ends (or begins)…

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Image: Freeform

Throughout the show, both Tandy and Ty have separate villains. Ty’s villain is Connors, the cop who killed his brother, which is played by J.D. Evermore. Tandy’s villain is Scarborough, the head of Roxxon who lied about the explosion. He’s played by Wayne Pére.

Both villains have something to hide that Tandy and Ty are working to bring to light. In the end, they’re almost successful, with both having trapped their villains into confessing their sins — but to no end. The confession Tyrone obtained with the help of Detective O’Reilly (Emma Lahana) and Officer Fuchs (Lane Miller) was deemed impermissible, and Tandy ends up taking a bribe from Scarborough instead of releasing the truth to the media. Tyrone is then framed for Officer Fuch’s death and is forced to go on the run. And because Tandy doesn’t release the truth, Roxxon continues with their plans, which inevitably causes multiple explosions around town that make the towns folk go mad.

To save the town, Tandy and Tyrone must use their powers to absorb the dark force released from the explosions causing the widespread insanity. They also get a lot of help from their friends Mina (Ally Maki), Evita (Noëlle Renée Bercy), and Detective O’Reilly who help them fight the mad townsfolk while giving them guidance along the way. Evita is the key as she explains the truth about their divine pairing, even going as far to tell them that one of them will die according to history.

Luckily, they didn’t die.

Both overcome their villains and work together to save the town, becoming true heroes. They’re stronger and closer than ever now, but life will never be the same. The final episode was all about teamwork, trusting those you love and finding your purpose. Both Tandy and Ty did just that. Their character growth is off the charts, and although life is now different for them (Ty being on the run and Tandy back home with her Mom), you can tell they’re much better mentally and emotionally, having triumphed over the demons they’ve been terrorized by.

Unfortunately, Detective O’Reilly didn’t make it. She dies at the hands of Connors who shoots her multiple times before she falls into the ocean. From the looks of it, she will be back for season two as the comic book character, Mayhem. Right before she dies, she too is hit by an explosion. The explosion, I assume, kept her alive and made her superpowered.

Thoughts for Season Two…

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Image: Freeform

Marvel has another hit on their hands. Season two for Cloak & Dagger is going to be bigger and bolder than ever. I can’t wait to see what both Tandy and Ty encounter next season, as well as how they’ll deal with Mayhem. Her eyes in that final scene tell us she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

I’m really digging this New Orleans setting. For season two, I want to see and learn more about this city. My favorite moment is when Ty visits the Redhawks. It was like nothing you ever seen on TV. Looping in these cultural ties adds depth to the story and makes the characters real and more relatable.

And can we slow down the pacing? It really did feel like they were trying to cover so much in a short time. Sometimes the episodes felt jumpy, and I was left guessing a lot of the time how we got from point A to point B. Hopefully the addition of more episodes will fix this problem.

One of the biggest reasons I rock with Marvel is because of the MCU. Everyone is part of the same universe, which provides ample opportunity for crossovers or cameos. In this season they mention Tony Stark, the Rands, the “New York” incident, and even Misty Knight. I’d like to see some crossover action next season, especially with The Runaways, if possible. Ty can teleport so I’m sure it will be easy for him to end up in California at some point, right? If they do this, my heart will probably explode.

Lastly, let’s keep the social justice conversations going. I really like how season one “got real” and didn’t downplay racial tensions or social struggles. It made these characters less fictional, and as I mentioned previously, more relatable. It’s important for us to continue honing in on these topics, allowing room for teachable moments through art and fiction. It definitely hits home for people in these mediums far more than watching them discussed on general media.

Although it’s not perfect, Cloak & Dagger was the summer show I didn’t know I needed. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I really wish it wasn’t so short. Waiting an entire year to watch season two will be painful. If you haven’t watched, or haven’t finished, be sure to catch up on Freeform or Hulu. You won’t regret it.

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