marvel’s cloak and dagger
The third episode of Cloak & Dagger opens with a shot of … I don’t know what. Something’s being made, and mechanics are involved, although we aren’t told what it is. But after that initial shot of uncertainty, we’re right where we left off — Tandy and Tyrone are having a standoff. Tyrone’s just shot a bullet into Tandy’s getaway car. He’s missed, but he made an impression, and after the pair’s obligatory finger-pointing and the confusion of Tyrone’s sudden appearance (he still hasn’t gotten the hang of teleportation), Tandy finally recognizes him. She reprises the first episode’s line, saying to him, “You’re that kid.”
But that recognition still isn’t enough for Tandy to stick around: She was on her way out of New Orleans anyway. To Tyrone’s dismay, she doesn’t have time to help him figure out his situation. Tandy still hops in her car, and informs him that she’s out.
“Don’t take this personally,” she adds, “but I hope I never see you again.”
And of course she will — otherwise, we wouldn’t have much of a show. But in the meantime, we get a proper introduction to Detective O’Reilly (Emma Lahana), who’s doing a pretty good job of putting the story of Tandy’s assault together. After their initial pleasantries don’t go the way he expects, the white guy Tandy stabbed way back when realizes his reframing of their encounter isn’t going the way he thought it was going to go. So he cuts their conversation in the ICU short, claiming he’s just tired; Detective O’Reilly’s giving him undue stress. She acquiesces to give him space, but it’s the first mistake she makes in her investigation: All she does is give him time to arrange for an alibi.
Meanwhile, we return to Tandy, who’s gone back to her mother’s house because … who knows! Guess she wasn’t headed out of the city after all! And for someone so determinedly on the run — to the extent that she’s left her partner in crime, Liam, hanging out in lock-up — she’s hardly doing much running. She ends up back at her mother’s house, which is promptly visited by Detective O’Reilly — but, for the first time in the series, Tandy’s mom comes through. She tells the detective that she hasn’t seen Tandy in weeks. She notes that, if there’s trouble, her daughter is probably already gone.
But it turns out that Detective O’Reilly isn’t looking for Tandy to book her, specifically. What she wants is her story. O’Reilly thinks that Tandy’s been mixed up in an assault. She gives Tandy’s mother her card, asks her to tell her if anything comes up. And when her mother starts to relay this info, Tandy is already, actually, gone.
First, we see her in a diner. Next, we catch her on a bus. And it looks like she’s finally begun the work of getting out of New Orleans — but because Tandy still doesn’t know the full reach of her powers, she suddenly transitions to somewhere else entirely (in a pretty cool shot). All of a sudden, she steps off that bus and into the middle of nowhere. Only, the middle of nowhere is a basketball court. And it’s there that she finds a very young Tyrone.
We don’t have time to figure out what this means, exactly, because the episode resets itself from Tyrone’s perspective: We’re back in the opening shot, except it’s Cloak that we’re following now. Tyrone leaves the scene. He enters the seminary for what sounds like a chat with God, but it turns out that he’s really probing his brother. “Are you doing this?” Tyrone asks. “I don’t understand. I can’t control it, because I can’t control myself?”
And then: “I miss you so much, Billy. I’m trying to be like you, but I’m failing. And I’m flailing. And I’m cursed.”
Which was a pretty great scene on the whole. But at that point, Evita — the young woman who’s made it her mission to understand Tyrone — comes through. She’s been listening, at least for a little while, or long enough to ask Tyrone if he really thinks he’s cursed. She says, “There’s someone I know who might be able to help.” And after some obligatory shots of Melvin’s Bar, Louis Armstrong Park, and the Quarter (Evita, it turns out, works the tour-guide circuit to pay for tuition), she leads Tyrone (and her tour) to a cemetery (where she starts in on a spiel about voodoo), and then to the “someone” who can “help” — which turns out to be Evita’s ACTUAL AUNTIE. Of COURSE.
As a character, Evita’s aunt revitalizes the episode. Evita’s aunt sits Tyrone down. She lays out some cards. As Tyrone motions towards the voodoo dolls lining the wall, she says, “Don’t TOUCH.” Those VOODOO dolls on the WALL are as OLD as the CITY. She speaks (what sounds like) a little Creole. And, eventually, she hands Tyrone the card of the joker. She tells him that there’s both hope and fear in that position. When Tyrone asks which is more present, Evita’s aunt smiles.
In the end, she tells Tyrone that what he needs is a cleansing bath. And after sending him and Evita to Whole Foods for the supplies (in what’s probably a quick quip on the gentrification currently overtaking New Orleans), the pair flirt — touchingly, convincingly — until Tyrone finally sets his bath. But once he’s finally in the water, and he pulls back the curtain, he finds himself in the same position that we saw Tandy in moments ago: He, too, is in some sort of parallel reality. Kid-Tandy is standing on the roof beside a ROXXON CORP sign. She doesn’t seem to be able to see him either.
For the next few scenes, we transition between their respective perspectives: as their present-day iterations try to speak to their opposite past-selves, we end up with what looks like a twist on the time-travel narrative. You try one thing in a parallel universe. When it doesn’t work, you start over from a predetermined point. But, honestly, the repeating-our-alternate-timeline-until-we-get-it-right device is the most annoying trope in the history of contemporary television. Please don’t argue with me about this. The thing about that particular narrative is that when it works, it works; when it doesn’t, it is truly a painful experience. In this instance, the episode isn’t doing itself any favors.
But the end-point of their transitions, and their trying and failing to understand those repeating trials (Tyrone reconciling Billy’s death, the burden on his parents, and the cop who murdered his brother; Tandy reconciling her father’s death, the burden on Liam, and the organization that drove her father to his demise), is that Cloak and Dagger arrive at the same conclusion: If you keep doing the same thing, the same result will follow. If you want a new result, you’ve got to try something new.
Eventually, at the end of what feels like the twenty-eleventh iteration, Tandy and Tyrone find that they’ve pierced one another’s timelines. They catch sight of each other through stained glass. And then they snap back to the present. Finally.
The end result is that Tandy decides she won’t be taking the bus out of town after all. She hits up the detective (who has, in the interim, been told to drop the case by the same cop who killed Tyrone’s brother). Tandy tells O’Reilly what she knows. And on Tyrone’s end, he and Evita share a kiss as he walks her home (although where they’d be walking, that late, in the city of New Orleans, is a little beyond me), and the next time we catch him, Tyrone’s tracked Tandy down for a conversation in the church she’s been sleeping in. He tells her that they need to talk. It doesn’t look like Tandy entirely disagrees. And that moment is preceded by the reveal of what’s being sown in the opener: another voodoo doll for Evita’s aunt’s collection. Only this one looks a lot like Cloak as we have yet to see him.
On the whole, swathes of this episode felt a lot like a filler. It’s mostly led by supporting characters, and aside from the development of the detective’s true aims, we aren’t much farther along than when we started. We’re left with a plethora of questions, like, what the hell is gonna happen to Liam? Are we saving him? Does Tandy even care? And what about the basketball game that Tyrone was assaulted over in the last episode? Is he still going to practice? Does he plan on getting revenge for that, or at least acknowledging it going forward? So after a good first episode, and a very strong second one, this week is a bit of a letdown. But it remains to be seen what we can expect going forward — if nothing else, the series started strong enough to coast into next week on an even keel.