Cloak and Dagger Call/Response review

This week’s episode of Cloak & Dagger, “Call/Response,” finally puts us in a room with Tandy and Tyrone talking to each other alone, and in a great surprise, we finally get a glimpse of Tyrone’s superhero costume. The backstory is as rich in New Orleans’ history as it is steeped in emotional anguish. Let’s run down the moments that made this episode yet another solid entry in this show’s run thus far.

Tandy and Tyrone Have A Heart-to-Heart

If we didn’t finally get Tyrone and Tandy together in some capacity by this episode, I think I would be close to screaming internally.

On one hand, I do love how slowly the show is pulling back its onion-esque layers, teasing out the story because of its own confidence in its storytelling ability. However, I also have a low tolerance for preciousness, and the show was getting right up to the line of getting slightly annoying by holding back the story it needed to let loose in order to keep the show from coming to a standstill. Thankfully, the entire episode was framed in a rather dream-like way around Tandy and Tyrone telling each other about their powers, what they saw in each other’s minds, and even putting in some effort to get their powers under control.

Sadly, their heart-to-heart ended in a nasty argument, with Tyrone checking Tandy on the privilege (white and otherwise) that allows her to indulge in being a drug-addicted sad sack. Read me clearly – I’m not saying Tandy doesn’t have a right to be depressed, and neither is Tyrone. But what he said about her ability to steal without no one checking her is indeed something she needed to get through her head.

Her earlier advice to Tyrone when talking to the police – about not walking in as a thug, but as a victim complete with a fabricated story –wouldn’t work and would never, ever work, not while Tyrone is a black man in America (or the western world, for that matter). In so many words, Tyrone addresses this in his critique of Tandy’s white privilege. Of course she can grift her way into affluent parties and not be seen as an outsider. Of course she’d be able to create any loose lie and tell it to the police and have them believe her. Meanwhile, the police officer at the station barely believed Tyrone’s fake, but plausible, case of a stolen bike, and Tyrone was dressed in his unassuming school uniform, the very picture of social respectability.

I was nodding my head in agreement with most of what Tyrone had to say. However, I was looking at him sideways when he called Tandy on her bluff about suicide. Like, why, dude?!

Tandy Finally Becomes Dagger

Regardless of whatever trauma Tyrone’s been through, his decision to tell Tandy to actually kill herself was cold-blooded, especially since Tandy rightly turns the tables on him, saying that he, too, has a death wish, so it’s foolish for him to act like he’s got all his stuff together. Thanks to Tyrone, Tandy goes on a drug binge and nearly drowns herself in the same water her father died in.

Thankfully, though, the horrible event served as a wake-up call to Tandy, who realizes she did want to live and knifed herself out of her rope bindings with her light dagger. But what if it didn’t? Tyrone said what he said in the heat of the moment. He was angry, and folks have said some awful things in anger. But jeepers. If Tandy had lost her will to live, that would be yet another weight Tyrone would have to add to his life. That’s quite intense (and even saying that is underestimating the ramifications of telling someone who is depressed to end it all).

I’m sure the series doesn’t want me to go this deep with this, but sometimes certain things hit you in certain ways. If you feel like you need to reach someone because of things going on in your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to someone you feel can help you through your struggles. And if you know someone who is going through something, don’t “help” them by daring them to “just do it,” no matter how angry you get or however much you deal in “tough love.” Life is not Cloak & Dagger, and not everyone is like Tandy.

But it should be reiterated that Tandy survives her suicide attempt and knows she has work to do. She has to avenge her father and get to the bottom of the Roxxon case, which now includes figuring out why investigating the case got her mother’s boyfriend killed. It’s going to be a road full of twists and turns (and tons of danger).

Cloak’s New Orleans Ties

Onto lighter subjects, Tyrone does find his supersuit in the form of, naturally, a cloak, but not just any cloak – it’s the cloak his brother used to wear as a member of the Mardi Gras Indians.

Once again, I love how Cloak & Dagger brings New Orleans in as its own character. This show also presents one of those moments where I, as a black southerner, can learn more about the black American diaspora as a whole. Just because I’m a black southerner doesn’t mean I know everything about black southern life, so anytime I can learn something new is always welcomed.

The Mardi Gras Indians have deeper roots than just being groups of black people in colorful beaded costumes for a parade. The community’s roots go all the way back to slavery and Native Americans’ role in shielding runaway slaves from their masters. (I’m not an expert, but I’d direct you to these links just as starters. We all need to do our own research, right?) However, the episode does give us a bit of a crash course in the lore, or at least enough information for us to understand why the cloak matters as more than just Tyrone’s brother’s former possession.

The cloak not only ties Tyrone to his family (in addition to his brother, there’s also his dad, who was also a member of the Mardi Gras Indians krewe before dashing off to his affluent life on the upper-middle-class side of town), but to the living history of the city itself. Tyrone isn’t just a black man with superpowers. Combined with last week’s episode linking Tyrone to the city’s Voodoo history, Tyrone is a young man whose powers are an embodiment of New Orleans itself. Using Tyrone in this way injects more humanity in the idea of Cloak, who has been often used as a “dangerous black man” trope in the comics, and it also makes audiences re-examine the humanity of slaves and their descendants.

We African-Americans might have the tendency to forget that we are descendants of an amazing, resilient, spiritual people who survived against horrible odds. With how much society tends to punish us just for existing (another thing Tyrone touches on when saying how America literally wants to kill him daily), it’s easy to understand why we’d forget. It’s such a practice for black people to get beaten down that others around us don’t even recognize how culturally rich we actually are. But none of us should forget African humanity and power. Black folks, like Tyrone, should think of ourselves as superheroes in our own lives when we learn to embrace our collective pasts and call on the spiritual powers of our ancestors to guide us forward. It’d be great for everyone else to recognize our humanity as well.

Again, I got a little deep, probably deeper than you’d expect for the fourth episode of a new Marvel show. But as I said earlier, certain things just hit you in certain ways, and I feel like I got a lot out of this episode. I can’t wait for more of Tyrone’s superhero connection to his ancestors to be revealed.

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