Cloak and Dagger Funhouse Mirrors review

It was a glib assumption by some that this series was only set in New Orleans because of tax breaks. This week on Cloak & Dagger, “Funhouse Mirrors” showed us just how big of a player New Orleans actually is in the lives of Tandy and Tyrone. More on that a little later, but right now, all you need to know is that this week we learned just how much of New Orleans history resides within our two main characters – and how much of the city’s future lives in them, too.

A City of Survival

The throughline of this week’s episode: no matter what life throws at it, New Orleans always comes back on top. It’s a city that never quits. We have seen that within our own lifetimes, as Hurricane Katrina nearly swallowed up the city and the government under George W. Bush seemed to want to do just as much damage by declaring that “a heck of a job” was being done when basic needs weren’t even being met. The city, which is already below sea level, should have crumbled, and for a while, it seemed like it would. But the rest of us didn’t know the resilient spirit of New Orleans and its people, and the city hasn’t only bounced back, but it’s celebrating life even more fervently than it had before.

The episode reiterates the city’s resiliency again and again, comparing New Orleans to bees, who have lived through an extinction; or to the ebbs and flows of history, in which divine pairings have brought the city to its knees; or even in the mundane conversation Duane has with Tyrone about black people being able to survive anything a white-centric government decided to unfairly shell out. For the audience, though, our biggest concern is how the city will grapple with the divine pairing situation.

According to Evita’s aunt, Auntie Chantelle (Angela Davis), one of the divine pairing will live and one will die, but not before the city meets “the end.” We don’t know what “the end” means – exactly how catastrophic of an ending is Auntie Chantelle envisioning? – but we do know it’ll mean some tough times are ahead for our two teen superheroes in the making. Hopefully by the time The End comes, they’ll be ready for the challenge. Another player who will have its role in The End is Roxxon. We still don’t know what skeletons are hiding in that company’s closet, but whatever they’re hiding, it’ll play into the mystery involving Tandy and Tyrone’s powers.

New Orleans’ future

Again, it’s glib to assume the show is only set in New Orleans because of tax breaks. As we’ve seen from just this episode alone, New Orleans is a spiritual part of the entire thesis for this series.

Don’t believe me? There’s a great interview showrunner Joe Pokaski did with Paste in which he explained why New Orleans was fantastic for a show like Cloak & Dagger. I implore you to read everything he had to say about New Orleans, but I’ll just pull this quote from the mass of stuff he said:

“…I think a lot of that was intentional, just trying to make sure we used New Orleans, and I think honestly just try to give them a mythology that hasn’t been done before, which is tough, with so many movies and television shows on the air.”

One of the elements Pokaski brought up was the episode featuring the Mardi Gras Indians:

“…I really just have to thank my writing staff. We just try to fill the room full of people with a diverse amount of experience, and one of them, Marcus Guillory, he’d spent a lot of time in New Orleans and was like, have you heard of the Mardi Gras Indians? And we started learning about it, and it was just…something I hadn’t seen on television.”

The episode was not only filled with expertise from New Orleans natives, but it also gave us the mythology of how Cloak’s cloak comes to be. It roots Cloak inside the fabric (forgive the pun) of a city that has a complicated tapestry of a past.

What’s also fun is that the tapestry – including Cloak and Dagger – also comments on the future. I feel like New Orleans natives might be able to deduce something about Tandy and Tyrone’s future that I, as an Alabamian, cannot, since Alabama’s tapestry – particularly the tapestry of my hometown, one of the Civil Rights capitals of America – is completely different than New Orleans’. However, if we take a look at all of the spiritual and supernatural experiences Auntie Chantelle referenced, it seems like New Orleans is, in a nutshell, a phoenix, and that part of its life cycle – at least how Cloak & Dagger is positioning it – is to clear out the junk and clutter by dying and going through a rebirth.

Perhaps even Evita’s aunt is wrong about The End being The End. Maybe the only thing that’s coming to an end is the amount of junk that’s currently cluttering up New Orleans, like Roxxon, and the crime that took Tandy and Tyrone’s loved ones, and the feelings of being lost and gaslit that have plagued their lives since childhood. Things are currently out of balance, and once The End comes, perhaps there will finally be balance and peace.

Romantic Foreshadowing

Speaking of balance and peace, I thought it was interesting that this episode gave us an out-of-the-blue foreshadowing moment of Tandy and Tyrone’s relationship via Duane and his unnamed girlfriend. We open on them when they’re having sex, and at first, we’re led to question if it’s really Tyrone and Tandy getting it on even though they’re barely friends at this point. The fake out continues when we see Duane and the lady walk towards his workshop, with Duane wearing black and the woman wearing white. We finally get to see who it is once the camera pans up, and we see it’s not actually Tyrone and it’s not actually Tandy, but it’s a light-skinned black woman with blonde hair.

Maybe it’s because I’m black, but I thought it was uniquely funny that the show decided to play with skintone in this manner. First of all, there’s a message that not all black people come in the same chocolate Crayola crayon shade. But the flip side of that message is that skintone literally doesn’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things. If we put that woman’s arm and Tandy’s arm side by side, not many people would be able to tell the difference until they see their faces. The fact that the show can successfully trick us until we get to the woman’s face should prove to people who think skin color means everything that it’s literally is the last thing we should be concerned about and base a person’s entire being on. If you feel like this is a racial soapbox I’m on, then 1) maybe you don’t understand what the show is about and 2) maybe you need to reread this paragraph, since the message in it is definitely for you.

Sadly, fake Tandy’s boyfriend ends up getting killed, and I already know Tyrone’s going to blame himself since he called O’Reilly to come inside. Instead, he should squarely blame Connors for setting him up, and blame Duane for dishonoring Billy and getting himself involved in this mess in the first place. Still, RIP Duane. I hope Billy won’t beat you up in the afterlife.

Meeting Mina and Ivan Hess

(I believe last week I wrote “Nathan Hess” when discussing Mina’s father – apologies. But this also reiterates my point about how throwing a bunch of names out will get people confused.)

Tandy lies her way into an “internship” with Mina and learns more about the rig that cost her father her life. Mina, who figures out who Tandy is under her weak disguise, reveals that the rig isn’t for oil, it’s for something much more powerful, and that her father is in no capacity to meet with anyone. When we finally meet Ivan (Tim Kang), he’s in a nursing home, stuck in a catatonic state. Whatever happened the night of the rig explosion, it left Ivan so traumatized that he became lost within his own mind.

Tandy touches him and realizes that while she can enter half of his memories, she’ll need someone with a connection to darkness, Tyrone, to unlock the other half. Finally, finally, we’ll see our two heroes use their powers in tandem instead of on their own adventures. Like I’ve said in the past, I’m glad we’re building who they are apart, but I’m so ready to see how they solve crimes together.

I also wonder how big of a role Mina will play this season. It seems like she and Tandy are becoming something akin to friends (unlike what Tandy predicted), and maybe she’ll be able to help our team as their eyes and ears of the goings-on in Roxxon. Maybe Ivan will help too, since he’s going to be the main beneficiary of Cloak and Dagger’s powers in the next episode.

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