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Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger Recap: We’re All on Our Own

Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger

Back Breaker
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****

Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger

Back Breaker
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/Freeform

We open the ninth episode of Cloak & Dagger with yet another shot of Evita’s aunt in the Quarter — whenever we’ve seen Chantelle, without much preamble at all, she’s doing something with voodoo. And this scene’s no exception: With a bottle of liquor, she spits into the sky, marking her progress on the concrete. But Chantelle’s day-drinking isn’t simply for the sake of day-drinking — when Evita drops by to check-in, the aunt tells her niece that disaster’s on the horizon.

“There is nothing in all the world that will destroy us like we will,” says Chantelle, “Another crisis is coming. Whether we want it to or not.”

Aunt Chantelle thinks that Roxxon is bringing their demise closer by digging up whole chunks of New Orleans. The corporation is, apparently, months ahead of destroying the city. But when Evita says that there’s nothing they can do to stop it, Chantelle tells her that the “divine pairing” can. She tells Evita to ask Tyrone if he’s met his pairing, because he trusts her.

It’s a timely calling, because the episode volleys between a lesson in her high school’s classroom, the past, and the present moment. Father Delgado monologues about what makes a hero (our dude references “Odysseus, Dorothy, Rick and Morty”), and, ultimately, Delgado decides that heroism lies in the moment that the anointed must rebound: “If your hero is going to be an actual hero, it has to be born again, from nothing.”

It’s the question that’s been plaguing Tandy and Tyrone: Can they really bounce back from catastrophe? It isn’t long before we see Tandy, in her church, with what looks like a bundle of cash. And on another end of the city, we watch Detective O’Reilly look on as the NOPD cleans remnants left behind by Officer Fuchs from her fridge. Offhand, O’Reilly notices a bloodied police baton tucked under the sofa, but it’s immediately snatched by the NOPD — and they hustle her out of the room. And later on, at a bar, O’Reilly runs into Connors being heralded by the department. When he calls a toast for Fuchs, O’Reilly lashes out, striking Connors in the back of the head. But it isn’t enough to bring him down, and Connors strikes O’Reilly back, repeatedly, as their co-workers look on. Afterward, he retreats, returning to a huddle of NOPD officers.

So that probably solves that! The killing of Fuchs would be wildly on-brand for the NOPD we’ve seen in this series. Next, we see Tyrone and his parents react to the news of Billy’s “alleged” murder: A rep from the police department promises “to keep them apprised of every development.” But that’s their only consolation. It’s the same thing they were told eight years ago. In the meantime, Connors will only be suspended from the department. Tyrone’s folks are less than pleased about the state of developments, and it messes with their head space as the week progresses: Tyrone is distracted in class and choir. His mother’s distracted at Roxxon. And after Tyrone finally puts the hands on the white boy who’d trapped him in the locker room way back when, Father Delgado brings Cloak to his office for a sort of intervention. He quizzes Tyrone on the War of 1812, and what it takes to truly end a conflict.

But it isn’t long before their conversation goes off the rails. Tyrone drags the Father for hiding out in the private school, telling the man that, “You put yourself here so that you don’t have to feel anything.” Delgado tells Tyrone that he entered the church to find some answers, and Tyrone tells Delgado that God doesn’t exist. That’s when Tyrone swings on him, and Delgado does his best to stay defensive — but when the two men finally touch, Tyrone sees Delgado’s fears.

But before we talk about what Cloak witnessed, we need to get caught up on Tandy — because Dagger is back to her old games. She’s out in the world, scamming white men with money. But Tandy claims that she’s just figured out how to “steal” people’s hopes as well; in her first demonstration, we watch as she snags the sex fantasies of one man from right under his nose. Later, Tandy visits the Hess family at Mina’s home, where she finds that Ivan’s living with Mina again. The Hesses are happy to see her. And one would hope that Tandy might take the high road with their little family — but a comment from Ivan about her father pushes Dagger over the edge. When Mina apologizes for Ivan, even offering Tandy a job at Roxxon, Dagger takes the daughter’s hand and gives her a glimpse her garden rotting. Pulling away, Tandy tells Mina that she now knows how it feels.

And just that quickly, Tandy has returned to being mostly unlikable! But in a rebound, Tandy heads to the police station to (finally, finally) bail out Liam. She catches a glimpse of a woman carrying water containers (who looks suspiciously similar to the assassin-water-lady who killed her mother’s boyfriend) — and, for whatever reason, Tandy doesn’t think anything of it. But Tandy does bring Liam back to her church, telling him that what she’d really like is to get married to him (cashing in on Liam’s hopes from earlier this season). Liam asks when Tandy became so positive, and Tandy tells him that she dreaded having hope, and happy dreams, because eventually everyone wakes up. But Tandy also says that she’s not doing anything to make her life better. And when she grabs Liam’s hands, her suspicions are confirmed — what he still wants is to share a wedding bench with Tandy.

Only, Tandy’s still lying: She makes a move to steal this hope from the guy she just two minutes ago bailed out of jail. And, simultaneously, on Tyrone’s end, he watches Delgado’s own fears: drinking in the aftermath of a car accident he’s caused, with bodies beside him and church bells ringing. Stepping through the wreckage, Tyrone catches sight of Tandy’s vision, and he spots her just as she’s about to rob Liam. He asks her what she’s doing, pulling them both out of their visions.

Back in the present, Father Delgado reels from the visions. He tells Tyrone to leave his office. And it isn’t long before he’s approached by Evita, who asks Tyrone to confide in her. She promises that she can help. And Tyrone’s pretty reluctant, but before he can really share, the pair are approached by Tandy, from out of nowhere, who tells Tyrone to stay out of her head. When Evita intervenes, Tandy touches her, and as Dagger makes a move to steal Evita’s hopes, Evita PUSHES HER OUT OF THEM, shocking them both. It’s her confirmation that Tyrone has found the pairing he needs. Evita takes off, presumably to put her new info into action.

Tyrone confronts Tandy. Cloak and Dagger argue about whose life is the hardest. Tandy says, “I’d pay money to have your problems,” adding that Tyrone was naïve for expecting anything to truly change after the NOPD revelations. She even pulls a dagger on Cloak in the heat of the moment, but it doesn’t really faze him: Tyrone tells Tandy that he’ll see her in her dreams. And for yet another time this season, the pair split in anger. When Tandy returns to the church, she finds that Liam took her money and split.

On Tyrone’s end, back at home, he and his mother finally have a sit-down about Billy. They talk about how Tyrone was a “loose end” in the NOPD’s investigation of Billy’s murder. Tyrone could afford not to worry about the consequences, but his mother calls that “a luxury”: his parents had to consider his safety first. It’s why they let the case die out. To the cops, Tyrone was expendable, and when Tyrone points to Connors’s confession on tape, his mother says, “You have a white cop on tape confessing to kill a black kid — have you been paying attention? In our world, that means nothing.”

It is, honestly, the emotional center of Tyrone’s narrative, and the epicenter of the hero’s narrative: What do you owe the society that owes you nothing, when you’re the only thing that can save them? Setting Cloak & Dagger in present-day New Orleans only underscores that question. All of the tangled plotlines and forgotten characters feel worth it for this exchange. It is a true payoff, and it’s a delight to view its execution, and it peaks as Tyrone’s mother’s reasoning isn’t enough to convince him otherwise.

“Even if I do everything perfect, they can still come after me,” he says. “So why be perfect?”

Structurally, the arrangement of this scene, and how we’ve built up to it, is a marvel: We’ve actually been having this exact same conversation over the course of nine episodes, in preparation for this culminating sit-down. But the series sticks the landing. And confirmation of Tyrone’s mother’s words follow immediately: NOPD — the whole force, it seems like — ends up at Tyrone’s house. When the loudspeaker calls Tyrone’s name from the lawn, his mother tells him to run — and Cloak finds a window to make his escape.

So, you know, Tandy, it looks like our boy does have some pretty big problems! But they’re comparable to her own — when she arrives at her mother’s home, the water-assassin-lady from earlier has the woman at gunpoint. She was sent by Mr. Scarborough. And Tandy stands at a loss for what to do (although, it seems like she should just throw her knives like a few episodes ago, yes? Since she’s pretty good at that now, yes?).

This was, in all areas, the best episode yet. Every (living) character was present. Every loophole came to a head. And we’re left with some tangible questions before the finale — regarding Tyrone’s family, Tandy’s family, and the partnership of Cloak and Dagger — but then there’s the larger ailment of Roxxon and what it has in store for New Orleans; because, on top of everything else, near the episodes conclusion, Mina Hess stumbled on the literal pipe nursing on Aunt Chantelle’s greatest fears. It remains to be seen whether the series ties everything together cleanly, but they’ve certainly put themselves in the position for it to be memorable.

Cloak & Dagger Recap: We’re All on Our Own