Cloak and Dagger Rabbit Hold Review

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this week’s Cloak & Dagger episode, “Rabbit Hold,” was missing something. The problem is I that I don’t know what it could be missing, since it hit all of the same beats a usual Cloak & Dagger episode. But somehow, the heart of the episode was lost. It was as if the episode was going through the motions. Maybe this is what a Cloak & Dagger filler episode feels like.

“Rabbit Hold” did have a purpose, though—it set up a future plotpoint as well as give us a tour of the Darkforce Dimension. But the action, or lack thereof, was boring. Let’s get into why this episode felt a little lackluster.

The Darkforce Dimension

An in-depth episode of the Darkforce Dimension is something I’ve been waiting on since the first season. Perhaps my disappointment about how the Darkforce Dimension looks is what brought my mood down about this episode overall. I was expecting a hellscape, essentially—a time-bending place that acted almost like a realm of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, where the wicked are exposed to their fears and punishments over and over again. I thought Tyrone’s corner of the Darkforce Dimension would be a lot more vindictive than it actually is.

Instead, what we got is a dilapidated mall. I’m sure the mall has some sort of significance—there’s hardly anything in this grounded telling of Cloak & Dagger that doesn’t have some kind of significance to either New Orleans or Marvel’s characters. But having the Darkforce Dimension be represented as a mall just seemed too…lo-fi hipster to me. Seeing Tandy’s horrors displayed in the form of records was cool, and it must have been a neat challenge for the props department to create all of those album covers. But overall, the Darkforce Dimension was just too pedestrian. The coolest part was seeing Maceo Smedley come back to the show as Papa Legba, who represented himself to Tandy as little Tyrone. I know the show is trying to be realistic, but does realism actually work within an interdimensional zone?

Retreading Old Ground

Speaking of those albums, it was a little bit of a drag to see Tandy have to relive the memories of her childhood. I assume that, because she was in the Darkforce Dimension, which requires its captives to live out their nightmares, she was forced to live out hers in order to escape. But because we’ve already seen a lot of her inner story, it felt like we were retreading a plot point without advancing it at all.

I don’t want to sound glib about a character’s experience with domestic abuse. But I wish we got to see Tandy deal with it somehow instead of relive it without actually interacting with the memories in some way. Clearly, she’s still stuck in the mindet of the victim. Yes, that mindset can take a long time to move away from. But since this is a television show about superheroes, I would have liked it if Tandy’s ticket out of the Darkforce Dimension was to finally face the memory of her father head-on instead of smashing the record.

Cool Story, Poor Execution

The clunkiest part of the episode to me was when Tyrone and Adina escape the Uptown Block Kings and the police, both of which want a piece of Tyrone. Tyrone takes Adina to haunted church to hide out in. As they figure out what to do next, Adina asks Tyrone to tell her the story of the church. Why?

The technical reason is that the writer(s) wanted a story about New Orleans’ history with sex trafficking to counterbalance Mayhem’s knowledge about the area’s modern-day trafficking problems. But, seeing Tyrone rattle off the history of the church and its admittedly interesting legend of the “Casquette Women”—women who were sent from France to a young Louisiana to ‘populate’ the city and later believed to be vampires—was just a bit out of place. No one stops in the middle of evading the law and a gang to tell a history lesson.

This moment took me back to my time in my college screenwriting course. In my mock spec script for Warehouse 13, I created a pharaoh character who was brought back to life by a mysterious artifact. During a lull in the action, I’d written that one of the Warehouse 13 crew would ask the pharaoh about his life. And, similar to Tyrone, the pharaoh rattled off his story about his life, stopping the action in the script. On paper, I thought the pharaoh’s monologue was cool; when read out loud in class, I could see how this moment is like a wordy partition in the middle of a story. It was embarrassing, but I definitely learned my lesson about proper monologue placement.

I write all of this to say that Tyrone’s monologue about the church is my pharaoh talking about himself. It stops the story in its tracks and takes up time a writer doesn’t have to get the episode across. When you’re writing a script, a page is a minute; it probably took about three minutes, aka three pages, to write the intercut scenes between Mayhem and Tyrone. If it were me, I’d just leave Mayhem’s dialogue, since it was much more pertinent to the issues at hand, and cut out Tyrone’s church story, since all it does is allow the writers to show off the amount of research they’ve done on New Orleans.  

A Set-Up For Next Week

With everything said and done, we get one big thing that sets us up for the next element to this season’s storyline—the return of Connors (J.D. Evermore). It looks like he’s spent years in the Darkforce Dimension. During that time, he’s clearly gone a bit…awry. But now with Connors out and back into the world, here’s hoping his presence can prove Tyrone’s innocence. I also wonder how he’s going to complicate things; yes, he’s done dead, but will he still try to go after Tyrone, this time to prove to the he’s Cloak? This could bring Tyrone and Tandy even more trouble than before, especially if the government gets involved and wants to run some tests on our two teen heroes.

But we’ll cross those bridges when we get there. For now, I’ll just say that “Rabbit Hold” was merely a fine episode of Cloak & Dagger. But I’m ready for better.

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