After two consecutive episodes souring me, Cloak and Dagger had an appreciated return to form this week. How did it manage it? By getting back to what the show did right in those first few episodes. More focus on plot movement, more focus on the characters, fewer weird mistakes involving social issues, and a nice slice of New Orleans connecting it all. “Funhouse Mirrors” still had what appear to be the signature flaws of the show, but mostly overshadowed them with better scenes than recent episodes have.
A City of Survivors
Over the backdrop of Evita’s aunt doing a card reading evoking the history of New Orleans, Cloak and Dagger sent Tandy and Tyrone off on solo journeys to investigate people close to their childhood traumas. Tandy fakes an internship with the daughter of the man who helped Tandy’s father build the doomed oil rig. Tyrone tries to connect with his brother’s friend he ran into last week, who works with Detective Connors. Both plots play out about the same way. For the better, to be sure. It was nice to see the two characters paralleling each other.
Cloak and Dagger also did a good job hitting on the idea of survival and how survivor’s guilt still bothers everyone involved. Not just with Tyrone and Tandy, but also with their marks. Billy’s friend clearly still thinks about what happened to him and feels awful about it. He harbors much of the same resentment over the shooting and societal anger that we see in Tyrone. Meanwhile Mina shared a lot more in common with Tandy than Tandy expected. They actually developed a real friendship when Tandy did not expect it.
Both characters also served as interesting looks at who Tyrone and Tandy might have become under different circumstances.
It’s certainly no secret how police in America treat people of color. Tyrone still harbors many of the same feelings as his brother’s friend, but he was able to escape their environment. He has a better chance to escape the shady lives unfortunately common to black kids in poor neighborhoods. Billy’s friend was not. So he ends up in the drug game, under the thumb of a corrupt white cop. He gave up on Tyrone’s idea of justice long ago.
Mina, on the other hand, provides a look at what Tandy’s life may have been like if her father didn’t take the fall for the rig disaster. Tandy and Mina had similar upbringings and have similar interests. Mina didn’t have her wealth and status taken away. This allowed her a chance to develop her childhood interests and find a scientific profession she loves. However, she still feels the same way about the rig disaster. Mina wants to stop it from ever happening again. She even seems to feel the same dislike for Roxxon that Tandy does. It’s just not so extreme.
Because Mina and Billy’s friend have so many similarities to Tandy and Tyrone, they were able to see right through their cover stories.
They were all survivors of the same traumas. Billy’s death affected both his friend and Tyrone the same way. Both of them harbor serious anger over it. That’s why Tyrone failed to hide his actual motivations for entering the drug dealing business. Besides knowing Tyrone’s too good a kid for that, it didn’t take much to realize why he went to this particular person to do so. The same thing happened with Tandy. Mina knows exactly how she feels and exactly why someone would be so interested in oil rigs and her father. Just because her method of dealing with it differs doesn’t stop her from noticing similar traits right away. Plus Mina clearly knew more about Tandy’s father than Tandy expected.
The whole package summed up to an interesting episode about four people who suffered through the same events and responded differently based on their circumstances. There’s no right way to respond to traumatic events in a person’s life, and the greater framework of your life around you plays a huge role in said response. That’s how you end up with Mina working for Roxxon and Tandy trying to destroy them. It’s why Tyrone can go to a rich prep school while his brother’s friend sells drugs.
Cloak and Dagger used this episode as an opportunity for more of the subtle storytelling involving privilege that the show does a solid job with. It’s basically the unspoken element in the room throughout most of the episode. Billy’s friend eventually outright says it. He didn’t get to escape his circumstances the way Tyrone did. His sense of justice and rightness involves simply making it from day to day, rather than the moral right Tyrone so strongly adheres to.
Meanwhile Tandy’s loss of wealth and status may have robbed her of the chances Mina has, but she’s still able to bluff her way into a day pretending to intern because she’s a young, blonde white girl. For all the insensitivity Cloak and Dagger showed with the suicide storyline and Tyrone’s beating, they still handle privilege well.
The Case of Connors and O’Reilly
I wish the show handled Connors and O’Reilly nearly so well. They were easily the low point of this episode. At this point I’m honestly doubting I’m ever going to care at all about this storyline. O’Reilly continues to fail at engaging me in any way, and Connors couldn’t be more of a cliché crooked cop if they tried.
These characters and their subplot feels noticeably lazier than everything else on the show. I’ve seen something like this a thousand times. Even worse, it feels tacked on to everything else. The lack of detail or motivation for everyone involved stands out for all the wrong reasons. Who is O’Reilly? What are her reasons for what she does? What even is her end goal here? Her goal seems to change from episode to episode. One day she’s investigating Tandy and the guy who tried to rape her, the next she’s all about taking down drug dealers. What the hell is her job?
I have even more questions about the New Orleans police. This episode suggests they all know Connors is corrupt trash but do nothing about it. So what’s the deal? Are they also corrupt? Are they blackmailed? Does someone higher up stop them? Are they the stereotype good apples rotting because of a few for whatever reason? I have no idea who these people are or what they want. Why should I care about what they do?
I assume the endgame here will expose Roxxon’s involvement in Connors’s corruption, and probably the entire department. The whole thing just feels so surface level and poorly thought out compared to the Tyrone and Tandy stuff.
Cop stories are so common to the point of being overdone. When you do them, you need to bring something more to the table. Or at least dive deep into the character so we care while they go through the same drug busts and corruption storylines we’ve seen before. I’m not asking for The Wire (though rewatching it right now probably isn’t helping me regarding this particular aspect of Cloak and Dagger). Give me something, though. At least give me a reason to care about O’Reilly.
It doesn’t help when the scenes play out as badly as the death of Billy’s friend did. It was just so lazy, like the writing. I’m pretty sure the idea is that Connors lied to the friend about killing O’Reilly so that O’Reilly would kill the guy, but the whole setup was confusing and awkward, then the shooting was little better.
I always want to care while watching a show. I’m not a hard person to make care. Hopefully Cloak and Dagger finds a way to make me care here, because right now I don’t. Not even a little.
- I’m super iffy about Cloak and Dagger playing straight the “divine pair” stuff Evita’s aunt mentioned. I know they’re special, but don’t go that far with it.
- There was a lot of talk about cycles of destruction and rebirth this week. Something awful is coming for Tyrone and Tandy to stop, which makes me worry more about the “divine pair” thing playing straight.
- Presumably this disaster will involve whatever Roxxon digs up. We learned it’s not oil, it’s something more volatile.
- Tyrone must be the worst person in the world at following someone. Dude gets caught every time. Maybe he should try a different tactic.
- What in the world was the thing in that drug dealer’s head when Tyrone touched him? I usually have some idea what the dream moments represent, but I’m clueless on this one.