Cloak and Dagger Vikingtown Sound

It’s becoming clear: Cloak & Dagger is spinning its wheels this season.

I’ve kept my overall reticence about this season quiet because 1) I love Cloak & Dagger’s unique, grounded way of telling a comic book story, and 2) because the collective voice of TV critics could sway Freeform’s decision on renewing or canceling the show. I know networks can cancel shows regardless of critical perception, but sometimes, networks listen, and I don’t want to sound like I want the show to go away and the only reason I’m always scared for Cloak & Dagger is because I know how Marvel has treated its other comic book show that catered towards young women, Agent Carter.  

But I can’t keep my feelings inside any longer. This week’s episode has made me realize that the last few episodes were, in fact, pieces of evidence that pointed towards the writers seemingly checking out as they pushed the narrative forward towards next week’s exciting-looking episode involving Baron Samedi. In fact, the action finally picked up again towards the end of this episode before it left us again on a cliffhanger, in which Tyrone has fallen ill from something going on in the Darkforce Dimension. But could the narrative involving Tandy and the traffickers had been sped up while still showcasing the gravity of the situation? Was there a better way to introduce Andre’s powers to us in a much more efficient, but still creepy manner? These questions are what we’ll analyze I break down this week’s offering.

Slow-going

This week gave us as much of a glimpse at life as a trafficked young woman as possible on a network aimed at high school and college-age viewers. I feel like we as viewers got the jist, which means the writers hit their mark. But what troubles me is the feeling of emptiness I have. Why did I not feel entirely moved this week? Is it because I knew Tandy would escape? Was it numbness from the fear that Tandy’s captivity would last a few more tedious episodes? I couldn’t tell you. But what I can say is that I was waiting on something to happen. I wanted the story to progress faster than it was.

Granted, the slow build is part of Cloak & Dagger’s charm and storytelling conceit. The show wants you to be immersed in the story, especially the characters’ inner world. But I guess one thing that kept taking me out of the drama this week was the fact that things were still slow, even though Tandy was a captive. Somehow, things were still cerebral, even though we should have been feeling more of Tandy’s frantic emotion. Maybe that was to show how the act of breaking someone down is, in fact, a cerebral endeavor. But everything just seemed a little too dream-like and, indeed, safe, for me to believe Tandy wouldn’t be saved, although I did get worried for a little while once Lia brought that John to Tandy’s motel door.

Thank goodness Tyrone came in the nick of time and that Tandy regained her hope thanks to a fellow trapped young lady. This led to the moment I’ve been waiting for—Tandy and Tyrone fighting through the maze of the motel to save girls, kick butt and find each other again in the process. I just wish this moment had come at least one episode earlier; it seemed cruel to have the kick butt part right at the end of this episode, meaning we have to wait until next week for the action to get started again.

This also marks another week of me wrestling with the trafficking plotline as part of Tandy’s emotional growth. I’ve been trying to think of what else the plotline could be for aside from raising awareness for the prevalence of human trafficking in the U.S., but I can’t think of how the plot serves any additional purpose other than to show Tandy that victims don’t become victims simply because they didn’t fight back. I hate to say that this storyline was all about Tandy learning humility, since it seems like there were much more palatable ways of having her learn that without her literally get drugged and captured, but it seems like that’s the only positive Tandy can take away from this. That makes me uncomfortable, since using a human trafficking storyline as a character’s emotional growth journey can get dicey, fast.

However, the fact that the storyline does seem like a character growth journey is probably why it took the writers so long to bring us to where we are now in the story. A lot of care had to go into crafting the story to tread the fine line between poignant and tacky. But did a lot of that care ultimately bring down the show’s pacing? It’s a trade-off I’ll probably be debating until this season’s finale.

Is Auntie Chantelle dead?

I’m guessing she is, since Andre stopped her heart in the Darkforce Dimension with his demonic turntable. But what is the purpose of her death? She said that this step was just part of her journey, but where will her journey take her? Is she to become a loa herself because of her death? Or did Andre’s ascension into his own loa status require a sacrifice like Auntie Chantelle?

I have a lot of questions that I hope will be answered next week. But there is one thing I hope Auntie Chantelle’s death doesn’t lead to—Tyrone and Evita’s breakup. I guess technically, they aren’t together now. But Auntie Chantelle was one of the people they had in common. What if Evita believes Tyrone had something to do with her aunt’s death and she leaves him forever because of it? Yes, I know Tyrone and Tandy are supposed to end up together anyways, but I don’t want Tandy pushed into Tyrone’s arms because of Auntie Chantelle’s death. I want her death to mean more than just being a mere plotpoint for teen romance.

Let’s switch gears and talk about Andre again. He saw a veve on his evil record store’s wall. According to Auntie Chantelle, this means he could become a Loa, or it could mean something horrible for Andre. The only way to know, though, is to open the door and, as I wrote above, I’m guessing that the toll is a human sacrifice. But what kind of power could Andre gain? I’m guessing he’d be on par with Tyrone, which might be why Tyrone became ill; Andre’s increased powers are engulfing him from the inside out. If he becomes that powerful, what will Tyrone have to do to level up? Would an increase in power mean he needs a blood sacrifice too? That could be where Connors comes back in. Speaking of Connors:

Connors gives Adina closure

Finally, after years, Adina knows the location of her son Billy’s body. Tied to a chair and forced to watch Adina cook her feelings out, Connors caves and tells her where he and his powerful uncle hid Billy’s body so Connors could walk free.

The various exchanges she and Connors have kept me the most riveted throughout the episode, and honestly, I could have watched an entire episode of just her sadistically cooking crab cakes in front of him while he’s taped to a chair with no bathroom relief. For me, it was the most touching part of the episode, and it reminded me that when Cloak & Dagger gets away from teen angst, it can pull out moments like this that would seem like they’re pulled straight from an “adult” drama show.

We still have to keep an eye on Connors, though, since he tried to free himself with the knife. As to how he was planning on cutting himself loose with no free hands is still a mystery to me, but the fact that he was trying to escape makes me believe that either he’s been having second thoughts about going to the police, or this whole contrite act has been a lie from the beginning. Or maybe he just wanted to finally go to the bathroom. It could have been just as innocent as that.

Mayhem to the rescue

The other clutch moments in this week’s episode involved Mayhem. She’s still trapped in the Darkforce Dimension, but she’s not being idle. Instead, she’s investigated the evil record store and put Tyrone’s head back on track via his positive memory “records.” It’s because of Mayhem that Tyrone’s able to find Tandy after all, so Mayhem is useful when she wants to be.

She’s also compassionate when she wants to be as well, since she tried to help save Auntie Chantelle from Andre’s deathly record. Auntie Chantelle motioned for her not to come in, but I bet Mayhem will be ready to avenge Auntie Chantelle the moment she gets an opportunity.

So overall, what did I think of this week’s episode? Again, the action only came at the end of the episode, which made the story feel like it was spinning its wheels for a while. But the storyline does demand that the show take its time to develop so that weighty subjects like human trafficking can be given the gravitas it deserves. Was there something the writers could have done to make the last few episodes not feel like such a drag storywise? I don’t know. I think they probably did the best they could. But I would just hope that something like trafficking doesn’t get used as a point in a character’s emotional development again. There are other ways Tandy could have learned some life lessons.

To follow in the footsteps of the notice at the end of this week’s episode, if you or someone you know might be a victim of a human trafficking ring, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit humantraffickinghotline.org.

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