Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger
In the second episode of Cloak & Dagger, we slip even deeper into the mess between our two heroes: On the one hand, Tyrone is still reeling from encountering the cop who killed his older brother, Billy. On the other, Tandy’s dealing with some battles of her own — her mother’s growing instability, her relationship with Liam — and uncertainty about whether the guy she stabbed in the premiere is still breathing. But neither character has forgotten the impact of their brief encounter with one another. From the outset, it’s clear that “Suicide Sprints” (directed by Alex Garcia Lopez) will largely be a balancing act of drawing each of them together without them ever really touching.
While this might be otherwise unbearable, Tandy’s and Tyrone’s respective storylines are strong enough on their own. For the most part, Tyrone deals with his school and his family: He talks with his father about responsibility, and living up to the man he can become (which is to say, to be more like his mother, who lifted their family into money and comfort on her own). His mother, who works in the community, attempts to assuage her kid on her own, but we catch a glimpse of her fondling a handgun in their home, just in case.
On Tandy’s end, she attempts to work through damage control with Liam: He’s a little perturbed that she’s stabbed someone, but she implores him to call Tulane Medical (as opposed to St. Elizabeth’s “because he comes from money”). She asks Liam what she should be hoping for, and he tells her they’ll control what they can control. They’ll find Tandy some new papers. They’ll get her somewhere safe. Watching them talk with and across one another, Liam’s affection for Tandy glows even stronger.
Meanwhile, when Tyrone meets with one of his private school’s chaplains (in a conversation that veers just on the verge of Daredevil predictability, while somehow skirting alongside it), he asks about “the anger” inside of him. He asks what would happen if he could use “the poison running through his veins.” The chaplain says he thought Tyrone had “moved past” his brother’s death — which is a hell of a thing to say to someone — and Tyrone asks if the cop who killed him deserves that poison, too. As the chaplain looks on, Tyrone notes that God wasn’t the one who gave him that idea. And we’re given the series’ major plotline for his end: to bring the killer cop to justice.
On her end, Tandy’s still reeling from creating her first dagger. Even if she can’t recall how she did it, she sees that its consequences are a problem, so she and Liam look for an exit plan. They hit up their plug Elmer (Alex Ho) at a dry cleaner’s, where Tandy tells him what she wants: to leave New Orleans, and never look back. Elmer tells the pair that he can give Tandy a full-scrub scrub — Social Security card, driver’s license, and everything else. But it’ll cost her $11,000. And of course she doesn’t have that on her. But Liam says he can come through with “five or six grand” on his own. When Tandy protests, Liam informs her that the guy she stabbed is in the ICU, and he’s just about to wake up. They don’t have time to waste. Tandy thinks that she has the rest stashed away at her mother’s house — but when she heads home to retrieve it, she finds that her mom has already spent it on a bender with “Greg.” She and Tandy get into it, before her mother calls Tandy out on always running away; as the door slams, she screams, “If your father were still alive, I swear to God he’d be heartbroken.”
On the whole, it’s a clusterfuck. Tandy and Tyrone’s respective reactions to confrontation give us a clearer image of their lives: Neither of them was firing on all cylinders before they crashed into one another. But even more than that, the episode is one of the few superhero entities to deal with class divisions, and the stratification that wealth beside poverty exacerbates, in an understated, implicit way. (Black Lightning did a lovely job of that, too.)
As Tandy mulls over her lack of cash, Tyrone finds that the rest of his basketball team is paying for his absence by running laps. Tyrone says he’ll take the punishment, but his coach declines — he says Tyrone can sit in the stands and watch, and while our guy thinks about leaving, he ultimately acquiesces into the stands. But that evening, after practice, his teammates confront him: Pissed over their punishment, they jump Tyrone and lock him beside their lockers. During the assault, he attempts to pull out his “cloak,” but he finds that it just doesn’t work like that. He hasn’t managed to contain his ability just yet.
Afterwards, he has a conversation with his mother about how she came to terms with her anger over Billy’s death. We find that he, too, has the ability to enter the thoughts of those he touches (or if not thoughts, then something — and certainly something darker than Tandy’s visions). He finds that his mother still isn’t over Billy’s death, not really. “Someone poisoned you,” he says, “A long time ago.” And, that very evening, Tyrone sets out to find the cop who did it.
When he meets the killer cop in his home, Tyrone kicks the door down (which, eh), and points his mother’s gun at the man. He starts to make the shot. The cop raises his hands, screaming. But then, for whatever reason, before the round actually pops, Tyrone teleports into nothingness.
On Tandy’s end, she’s entirely unaware that there is now a detective on her trail. The guy that she stabbed has woken up; the detective’s already well into her pursuit. But Tandy and Liam have formed a plan for picking up the rest of the money: They’re robbing a fancy wedding. So they set about doing that (Liam notes he forgot that Tandy “came from this world”), until they naturally find themselves forced together into a dance. That’s when, once again, we catch a glimpse of Tandy’s abilities to see the hopes (if that’s what we’re calling them) of the folks that she touches.
But all Liam wants is to be good to her. He thinks that he can love her, without reservation. Hearing him say that in her visions, without a filter, freaks Tandy out, sending her to the bathroom. It’s where she lucks into meeting the wedding planner (a.k.a. the evening’s biggest cash grab). By the time the woman realizes she’s been lifted of the entire venue’s tips, Tandy and Liam have driven away.
They’ve hustled together the 11 grand. Tandy has her new identity. And that’s when she breaks it to Liam: His devotion alone isn’t enough for her. Tandy may now know that she’s someone who runs away from everything, but that doesn’t stop her from taking flight when the opportunity to change finally strikes.
Once Tandy’s left Liam to himself, after a “final” good-bye, he’s picked up by the detective from earlier. Tandy’s only been gone for two minutes when Liam uses his phone call to ask her back. He says that he came through for her when she needed it. Now he needs that help, too.
But Liam’s distress isn’t enough for Tandy: She still hightails it out of town! (Although, it’s worth wondering why we find her on what appears to be a side street, when, if Tandy’s looking to book it, I-10 and the Causeway Bridge are the only viable routes out of New Orleans.) Her escape is cut short when Tyrone appears, from out of nowhere, having teleported in front of Tandy’s car and finally firing his gun.
Tandy crashes into a tree. Her escape’s been foiled, and so has Tyrone’s revenge. And we end our first evening where the series performs the best, even if we’ve hardly gotten enough of it this time around: with our heroes thrown together, once again, before the credits finally come to a close.
• The texting scene between Evita (Noëlle Renée Bercy), the young woman crushing on Tyrone, and Tyrone during their church service is excellent — and one of the better “texting” scenes I’ve seen in recent memory.
• Tyrone can sing.