Cloak & Dagger is a television series on Freeform that is based off of the Marvel comics of the same name. The centers around two teenagers, Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, two strangers who, when they were kids, ended up gaining superpowers due to an unfortunate rig accident that affected their lives forever. These powers wouldn't be activated until they met years later, and through this connection they must work together to uncover the truth of what happened that night, along with them figuring out solutions to their own personal issues that have haunted them all these years.
This show honestly was such a pleasant surprise. I started watching just at random and I was blown away with how good it was, from the writing and visual storytelling to the performances, specifically by our two main leads and how well they bounce off each other with every scene they're in together. The first season was more of a slow-burn as it is more character-driven than action-driven, but that's what makes it so good. It utilizes the quieter, slower paced moments with building up the plot and the characters, their separate arcs and their interactions with each other. It makes use of showing us character development and that's something I really adore, it doesn't matter whether it's a fast-paced or slow-paced show, when you have good character moments that's something that I'm going to latch onto instantly. And boy, there were so many moments like that in the first season.
I think one of my favorite examples is the fourth episode, "Call/Response", which is where Tandy and Tyrone finally have a one-on-one conversation, which is interwoven throughout the entire episode, about their newfound powers, what happened to them in their lives since that night of the rig explosion, and just every else in between to understand what is happening to them and why. It's probably the most open, honest, and raw examples of character interaction I've seen in a while because they lay it all out between them. Towards the end of that episode there was definitely a brutal honest conversation that really impressed me. I loved the fact that Tyrone called out Tandy's white privilege, it's a topic that doesn't always happen fluently in shows but when done right it can be amazing, and Cloak & Dagger really nailed it here because it's an ongoing theme in the first season. Also in general, when you call someone out for their privilege they oftentimes will deflect and list their disadvantages, but just because you are disadvantaged in some aspects doesn't mean you don't have privilege, especially in comparison to someone of a marginalized group. Tandy has turned to a self-destructive path and is able to get away with things because she's white and is viewed as a victim, while Tyrone is a good student and tries his best to not get into any trouble, and yet he's still viewed as a criminal because he is black.
It was such a candid scene that works so well because at this point we have gotten to know these characters, we know of their own personal struggles, their motivations, their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, their differences and similarities, so the way the scene plays out it's not coming out of nowhere. There's a tension that builds out of their frustrations of their situations and they both kind of push each other's buttons, which comes to play later in the brilliant ninth episode where both characters regress after shit goes down and they are basically tearing into each other.
This dynamic between Tandy and Tyrone is what makes it compelling to watch, because they have such amazing chemistry. As individual characters, their stories are so tragic and it's interesting to see how they deal with their trauma; Tandy goes into self-destructive behavior, while Tyrone keeps his anger bottled up inside of him. When they come together and activate their powers it really kind of allows them to not only get to know each other, connect and bond, but also to understand and figure shit out about themselves too. It's also fascinating that their powers reflects parts of themselves that they keep hidden away. With Tandy, she has this negative view of the world and is outwardly angry, but with her ability of seeing people's hopes it shows that she does have hope and this light inside of her, she is just afraid of letting it out in fear of being disappointed and hurt yet again. And with Tyrone, he is outwardly positive and sees the goodness in people, sees the potential and wants the world to be a better place, but there is this anger inside of him which is where his power to see people's nightmares comes into play. But this isn't really a bad thing, because he can use his anger and this darkness as a way to do good, which is an interesting concept I like (similar to how Nico's power being her own darkness in Marvel's Runaways), is that you can use that darkness inside of yourself for something positive instead of something negative. Tyrone is a good person, and he has righteous anger due to the injustice surrounding the murder of his brother and feeling like he is not believed by anyone, not even his parents, and he's carried this all his life, and his power allows him to harness that and to do some good with it. Same with Tandy, despite her first instinct is to run and to build this wall around herself as a coping mechanism, when she finally is able to not misuse her abilities for her own personal gain and to help people in need.
I just really love how the show frames both their characters, how they come together, the parallels between each other, their issues, their conflicts, the confrontations they have but ultimately come together in the end because they trust the other regardless. It's done so incredibly well that you're just rooting for them the entire time, wanting them to get their justice and to find happiness.
Another thing that impressed me with Cloak & Dagger is how it handles particular issues and subject matters such as police brutality, law enforcement and corporation cover-ups, privilege, and racism. It is the central focus of the first season, primarily with Tyrone's storyline and him wanting to get justice for his brother who was killed by a cop, and understanding the fears of his parents and his unrelenting drive of wanting to do something about it, to stand up and fight against a corrupt system. The way the first season was structured around that was so well-done, and I can't wait to see how it continues on into the second season because it's still an ongoing battle. Since, while Tandy got her justice and resolution in the end, Tyrone's is a harder one to defeat. And I liked that they didn't make it that simple, because it isn't. The show makes it abundantly clear from the start that it doesn't matter how good of a citizen you are or how successful you are, it doesn't matter if you get straight A's in school and try so hard to fight against stereotypes, if you're a minority in this country you will be viewed and treated like a criminal. And here we have a character like Tyrone, who witnesses and goes through this kind of injustice firsthand, and he wants to do something about it, to try and make the world a better place, to fight against this kind of injustice in the world. And that? Is the kind of hero we need.
Honestly there is a lot that I want to talk about regarding this show because it's just so amazing, but I felt like these were the most important points that I wanted to discuss first that made the biggest impression on me. This show may be on Freeform, but it's definitely far more compelling than your regular Freeform television program. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.
Overall: Marvel's Cloak & Dagger is a fantastic show that really demonstrates why these kinds of superhero stories work on television. When done right, it can really give us these emotional character-driven arcs and moments that really move the story along instead of just giving us action scene after action scene. I love the the way the first season was structured, the slow-burn was necessary to understand the characters, their relationship with each other, their individual storylines, brought together with beautiful performances by the actors, complemented with the editing, the filming, and the music choices to complete the visual storytelling. It was such a pleasant surprise that I'm happy that I discovered, and I'm excited for the second season.
The second season premieres on April 4th, and I can already tell it's gonna be quite a ride.