When Darkness fills Light can the future be bright?
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger
Air Date June 7, 2018 Freeform Thursdays 8:00 pm
Created by Joe Pokaski
Production Company ABC Studios and Marvel Television
What You Should Know:
The show is loosely based on characters created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan for Marvel Comics. In the comics, Cloak and Dagger are superheroes who debuted in Spectacular Spider-Man #64. Tyrone Johnson, who was inflicted with a stutter speech impediment, and rich girl Tandy Bowen were runaway teenagers who fell into the clutches of scientists who were trying to synthesize a new, addictive, street drug. While most of the other kids died, when Tyrone and Tandy were injected with the drug the chemicals changed them. Tyrone developed powers of teleportation and intangibility linked to the Dark Force dimension. Daggers powers are the ability to create “daggers” out of light, an ability to purge addictions from people and she can heal with her light daggers.
What You’ll Find Out:
Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger begins roughly 10 years in the past. Young Tandy Bowen is finishing her ballet class. She goes outside to meet her father who isn’t there and she has to call him. It begins to rain so she does what any young child would do…she dances.
Young Tyrone Johnson, wearing his older brother Billy’s black hoodie in a visual of things to come, approaches Billy and his friends. They say a rich guy stiffed them after they installed a stereo in his car. Billy tells Tyrone to go home, it’s about to rain. Billy doesn’t want any part in breaking into the car and retrieving the stereo so the three young men leave. Tyrone shows back up and breaks into the car and steals the stereo.
Tandy’s dad arrives and picks her up. They are riding home across the bridge in the storm as Mr. Bowen is arguing with his employers, the Roxxon Corporation. He is worried about the stability of the oil rig which can be seen not far from the bridge. Suddenly the rig collapses and explodes. Bowen loses control of the car and plunges into the Gulf. Meanwhile, Tyrone has brought the car stereo to Billy who tells him they have to put it back. However, before they even move, a police car catches sight of them. Billy yells to run and he and Tyrone try to give the police the slip by running to the docks. Billy tells Tyrone to hide and the police tell Billy to halt. With the stereo in one hand, Billy raises both hands but continues to back away from the police to the edge of the pier. As the Roxxon rig explodes, one of the cops with a scar on his face shoots Billy twice in the chest. He falls back into the water and Tyrone comes out of hiding and chases after him, jumping into the water himself to save his brother.
Tandy’s father is dead and the car is quickly filling up with water. Nearby, Tyrone finds Billy who is dead. Tyrone swims over to the car Tandy is in and is banging on it when another explosion from the Roxxon rig goes off underwater sending out a wave of blue light. The wave passes through Tandy then Tyrone.
The last thing Tandy sees as the car fills with water is an ink-like black substance and a hand grabbing hers. Through all this, a song plays giving the scene a music video like quality.
Years Later: Tandy is scoping out a nightclub. She catches the eye of a rich kid and gets him to take her home with him.
Tandy’s scene inter-cuts with Tyrone as he gets into a fight with an aggressive kid on the basketball court. The montage plays out as another music video…”Hellfire, Hellfire take my soul…”.
The rich kid just wants to get laid. Tandy brushes him off and tells him she’s got a side job of drugging rich kids and jacking their rich kid things…which she goes about to do.
After the dude falls to the floor unconscious Tandy lets her accomplice/boyfriend Liam in and they go about stealing things like theatre tickets and prescription medications and jewelry. Then Liam takes Tandy home.
The thing is, it’s not Tandy’s home. In an example of one thing the show does very deftly, Tandy crosses from the well-lit side of the street to the much darker other side and goes into an old run-down church. While in a more affluent part of town, Tyrone’s parents bring him home and tell him to get to bed…obviously very upset with him.
As the next music video montage plays we see Tyrone checking out his fresh new black eye and Tandy pulling out her drug paraphernalia, snorting something and going to sleep under the stained glass of the church.
The next day Tandy visits her mom’s dilapidated house. Finding her mom gone, Tandy gets out a pink bag she has stashed there and adds her latest haul to it.
After both Tandy and Tyrone receive individual invites to a party, Tandy literally bumps into Tyrone. But a few moments later, Tyrone realizes Tandy “jacked” his wallet and he chases after her.
They wind up in a cemetery and when Tyrone catches up to Tandy and grabs her wrist some kind of energy is discharged knocking both teens to the ground.
Tandy finds her hand glowing with a bright light. If you look very closely at Tyrone you can just make out some wisps of black smoke rising from his hand. All of a sudden Tandy remembers back to the night in the water and the two realize they have met before.
Later, after giving Tyrone the slip, Tandy and Liam are having sex in his car. She asks Liam if he believed in God. He tells her in jest that he just yelled his name a few times. Tandy tries to open up to Liam but just winds up taking off.
Tyrone goes to bed, wrapping himself in a black sheet. He wakes up, still wrapped in the sheet, on top of a building with a large Roxxon sign. He has a flashback to being in the police station with his parents, trying to convince an officer that a policeman with a scar on his face shot Billy. The officer tells Tyrone there isn’t any such officer there. Then, when Tyrone makes his way off the roof and downstairs (still wrapped in his sheet) he just happens to see that same policeman with the scar.
Tandy goes to visit her mom who is still determined to sue the Roxxon Corporation for the accident years ago. When Tandy touches her mom’s hand, she is filled with memories, good memories, of when she was young and her family was whole. After breaking contact, Tandy seems full of sadness and asks her mom about what she just saw only her mom didn’t share the same experience and doesn’t know what Tandy is talking about.
When Tyrone gets back home he looks up the cop with the scar on his computer.
Tandy decides to use the theatre tickets they couldn’t sell. She sits in the rafters watching the ballet. A flashback shows Tandy and Tyrone on the beach after the storm. Tyrone is still out when Tandy wakes up. She is cold and takes Tyrone’s hoodie which somehow made it off his body and is lying next to him. Then she leaves.
Tandy leaves the ballet and as she walks down the street the rich kid she jacked is suddenly behind her with two buddies. They force her down an alley and rich boy sends his friends away so he can be alone with Tandy.
The guy starts forcing himself on Tandy. He’s going to rape her. Then a strange look crosses his face and he looks down to see a hole in his abdomen where he was just stabbed. By a dagger of light!
Tyrone goes to bed with his clothes on and when he wakes up he is inside a car trunk. The car belongs to Scar Cop and he’s about to make a crooked deal selling drugs. When the cop opens the trunk, Tyrone throws the drugs in his face and takes off running.
When Scar Cop catches Tyrone, Tyrone has a flash of the night his brother was killed by the cop. When he comes out of the vision he is somehow able to duck under a garbage bag and disappear.
Tyrone finds himself home, laying on the floor of his bedroom under a garbage bag.
Tandy has returned to the church. She puts on a black hoodie. The same hoodie she got from Tyrone on the beach that belonged to Tyrone’s brother. Tyrone goes to his closet. He pulls out a child’s ballet slipper.
Episode 2 “Suicide Spirits”
The second episode introduces a female cop who is unidentified but is presumably Brigid O’Reilly from the comic.
Tandy is freaking out about the stabbing and asks Liam to help her get out of town.
Tyrone turns to Father Delgado for advice. Then continues to stalk Scar Cop. This makes him late for basketball practice and the coach comes down hard on him and punishes the whole team leading to Tyrone getting jumped by several players and getting his ass kicked.
Tandy and Liam turn to — surprise! — illegal means to get Tandy a fake ID. She later drops in on her mom who is entertaining a gentleman caller dressed in a pink bathrobe. Tandy discovers her mom stole everything, the drugs, the cash, out of her pink bag. Instead of showing any remorse for her actions, Tandy just delves into more crimes. She and Liam crash a wedding reception, no thought at all of this most special day for a couple she doesn’t even know. She has another “Light Flash”, this one about her and Liam and a happy time. These flashes seem to be having the effect that Cloak is supposed to bring forth when he envelopes people in his cloak. Tandy has an encounter with a woman from the wedding party in the ladies room. This stranger takes the time to give her a caring, upbeat talk to try to make Tandy happy. Then Tandy steals from her. When Tandy and Liam have stolen what they want from the reception they flee, stealing the bride and groom’s car.
At Tyrone’s home, his mother touches him and he gets a “Dark Flash” of his mom and younger versions of Billy and himself in a dark grocery store. When both boys disappear around a corner two shots are heard. Tyrone then “sees” his mom staring at two gravestones in the market. I swear, the writers have no idea how Cloak and Dagger’s powers work!
Liam opens up his heart to Tandy and all she has to say is “There’s no we.” He gets arrested leaving the cleaners where they’ve been trying to get the fake ID, by the lady cop seen earlier. He calls Tandy, saying he put all his money into her “new life” and needs her help. She just hangs up on him and keeps driving.
Tyrone breaks into Scar Cop’s house and has his mom’s gun. He corners the bad cop and shoots. Being a bad decorator, the cop has black curtains which whisk Tyrone away before the bullet hits Scar Cop. He rematerializes in front of Tandy’s stolen car and the bullet goes through her windshield causing the car to veer off the road heading toward a tree. Whiteout. All of the preceding played out in the form of another music video of course. There are again 8 music videos in this episode. There is so little dialogue due to all the music videos there’s no wonder the pace of the show is agonizingly slow.
What This Means For The Future:
Tyrone and Tandy will cross paths again as they explore their new abilities. And it looks like the producers will continue to throw in music video collages every 5 minutes. Beyond that, I don’t see them doing anything with the Dark Force or connecting to the comic. Brigid O’Reilly becomes a vigilante called Mayhem in the comic. I don’t expect this to happen on the series.
Final Thought: In approaching this show I left expectations behind. I knew they would make changes as all of the Marvel Television shows have. But I really was not prepared for how stripped of it’s roots the show would be. This is indeed “Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger” and not “Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger” as the title says. The change in locale from New York to New Orleans is a great idea. It would be a great place to do some supernatural stories but I totally don’t think that will be happening. The series is a great platform for addressing the Black Lives Matter movement with the death of Tyrone’s brother but I’m afraid this is going to eat up a majority of Tyrone’s story. And what about the handicapped part? Could they not find some way to work in some manner of Tyrone’s stuttering? Does the YA audience just not find that cool? The characters are truly victims in this adaptation and none more than Tandy Bowen. In the TV show she is completely the opposite of her comic counterpart and is unlikeable in every way imaginable. In the TV series she uses people, steals from people, does drugs and has sex in a car with someone she doesn’t even care about…someone who truly cares about her and is willing to risk his own safety to help her and when he needs her help she abandons him. Whereas in the comics she is a source of hope, ready to help people (especially Cloak), an inspirational character. On TV, teenage Tandy needs to be put in a foster home or juvenile detention. I felt no sympathy for her whatsoever. Tyrone is a much more interesting character. He is shown to have anger issues in the comics which the show has translated into his guilt over his brother. Having him come from a good family and neighborhood doesn’t hurt the character at all.
Cloak and Dagger had a very good origin that could have applied well to a YA show. If it’s the “reality” angle the show wants to go for then Cloak and Dagger going after drug pushers and the like is perfect. However, the producers have said they didn’t want any comparisons with Hulu’s The Runaways…in which the kids didn’t even run away till the last episode. Plus Tandy is still a runaway! She’s not living at home (which is hard to blame her). She lives in the old church and uses people to get by. Ripping off The CW’s Flash series in which a (fill-in-the-blank) explodes sending out a wave of energy that gives people power is not an improvement over their true origin. And just what are their powers? The scene Tandy had with her mother when she touches her and has flashbacks to happier times and gets sad over it is not what is supposed to happen. Touching her mom should have transferred some of Tandy’s light to her and helped her with the substance abuse she has. And the light is just that…Light! It doesn’t create solid objects like a knife to be used as a weapon to stab someone. Cloak’s powers are coming off a little lame at the moment. There’s no cloak of darkness involved, all you see (if you have good HD on your TV) is little wisps of black smoke coming off Tyrone. They have shown him needing to be wrapped up in something dark to teleport but in the case of the car trunk he just teleports into it. His encounter with Scar Cop should have worked much like the Ghost Rider’s penance stare…people who are enveloped by Cloak are subjected to a hell of their own making.
Television shows should try to appeal to the widest audience but this one looks strictly for the Young Adult (YA) audience. One of the most annoying things was trying to watch a show that had 8 music video montages! Film and music scoring have always had a special symbiotic relationship. Mention any number of films or TV shows — Jaws, Twilight Zone, Star Wars, Superman, etc — and the music immediately comes to mind. How would you have liked it if you went to see Star Wars and as the opening scroll begins you hear “Rocket Man” playing? Pop songs should be used very sparingly and have something to do with what is happening on screen. They do not orchestrate the emotional moments of a scene the way music does. On very rare occasions they work but Cloak and Dagger strung along the first two episodes with one music video collage after another. It felt like I was watching MTV. It’s a lazy practice and I really wish people would take the time to listen and appreciate a good score.
The use of The Roxxon Corporation may be the biggest tie running through the Marvel Universe. It has come up in very subtle ways throughout the movies, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix series. I think it is fine to have a subtle reference here but I don’t think this is the right show to bring it full on out and make them the baddies of this show. The series simply isn’t worthy of all the build-up Roxxon has had.
I see a lot of people really liking the show. I can’t for the life of me explain why. Either they have no knowledge of the comic or simply don’t care how badly the characters are mutilated. Even if I could wipe my mind of the comic book completely I couldn’t see watching this show. It’s simply a string of music videos with very little attention to storytelling. You don’t tell a good story by playing the latest pop songs with a montage of images and avoid using dialogue. I have to say this is the worst thing Marvel has produced for television.
The bottom line for me is that they could have done a similar show as this and left Cloak and Dagger out of it. But the Marvel Brand means money and that is all the show makers wanted from the property. It’s sad because this particular comic could have translated really well to a television series.
PS If you want to jump on me about “reality” please don’t. Comic books aren’t supposed to be reality. And as for any attempts at making the show “real”, it fails anyway.
Rating (“First Light”): 4/10
Rating (“Suicide Spirits”): 3/10
MARVEL’S CLOAK AND DAGGER airs Thursdays at 8pm on most Freeform stations. Check your local listings.