Cloak & Dagger: Stained Glass

"You have to try something else."

Cloak & Dagger pulls off the impressive feat of having its title characters really bond over some deeply personal issues, despite not really having met yet in any meaningful way.

Oh, and without interacting with each other, since they're on opposite ends of the city.

I did not see that coming.

More so than usual, spoiler warnings up front. This episode gets pretty deep into some fundamental weeds about Ty and Tandy, and it's not really possible to discuss it without spoiling some of it. So, if you haven't watched this episode yet, absolutely go and do that before reading any further, because this is an episode you really want to be surprised by. No spoilers for anything beyond this episode, despite the enormous lateness of this review, for which I apologize.

So, 'Stained Glass.' To take a page from Billie, the award for most obvious visual metaphor this week is right there in the title. Stained glass is translucent, not transparent. You can see light and dark through it, but not specific, clear images. Just in the same way that Ty's Voodoo vision quest allows him and Tandy to glimpse essential truths about one another without specifics. After devoting an entire episode to having them experience character development via dream sequence, the closest they actually get to one another is staring at one another through a shared stained glass window.

Now, having shared dream sequences between two people as a vehicle to show character development to both the audience and one another is an old trick, but what makes the way Cloak & Dagger used it here fascinating is that they've flipped perspectives on us, and all the character development is witnessed by the character not being developed at that moment. Ty sees that Tandy needs to stop running away from her tragedy in order to move forward and Tandy sees that Ty needs to abandon revenge and seek justice instead. Ty even acknowledges this to Evita. He gets that it wasn't his journey he was seeing. That's an interesting way for the story to unfold.

Essentially, they've had both Ty and Tandy accomplish an entire character arc in the first three episodes and before they've really met one another. Now that the characters have grown enough, they're ready to meet each other and really talk, as we see in the final line of the episode. That's unusual. Typically shows like this use the characters meeting each other as the catalyst that starts their ability to change, not their prize for achieving what amounts to 'personal actualization level two.'

I don't know what the official TV Tropes term is for television episodes that tell the same story multiple times from different perspectives, but this was a good use of it. For one thing it allows us to see both Ty and Tandy's journey from the car accident to the dream sequence, but mostly it underscores the episode's theme of seeing things from multiple perspectives leading to growth. The director of photography is really to be commended for the hundred subtle ways that the camerawork changes to indicate the perspective shifts. Specifically, re-watch the two versions of the conversation immediately post-car wreck to see what I mean. It's nicely done, and it's one of those jobs that you're not supposed to notice if it's done well, so I like giving that sort of thing a shout out when I can.

The secondary characters continue to be a serious strength for the show. Greg couldn't be more delightful than he was here, still lounging in his pink bathrobe. It's impressive, because everything about his character brief screams 'slimy', and yet somehow he makes drinking directly from the bottle while wearing a short pink bathrobe and shouting about warrants to Det. O'Reilly endearing. I think it's probably down to the way he's solely concerned with protecting Tandy's mom at that moment, but it's still impressive. As for Det. O'Reilly, here she was kind to Tandy, clearly un-fooled by Rick, the scumbag Tandy put in the hospital, and found Tandy's Mom's house impressively quickly. My only complaint about her this week was that the knock on her car window came from Connors, and not from Coffee Bearing Beat Cop, because I am shipping those two so hard. Sadly, I suspect that this was the last we're going to see of Liam, taking Tandy's poison-pill-Eucharist. I really liked Liam.


And I can't be the only one that thinks that Evita just got about a thousand times more interesting. She was already nice, and clearly into Ty, but the revelations about her family tour business, her Voodoo Auntie Chantelle, and particularly how not embarrassed she was while telling Ty to get naked for his bath. Plus she's got a killer smile. My personal favorite detail was the way she says 'Voodoo' while giving her tour guide spiel, but uses the correct term 'Voudon' at home with family. That kind of 'play stupid for the general public' detail is incredibly common in marginalized groups, and was very sharply observed by the script. Oh, and her description of Voodoo on the tour was simultaneously respectful and dead-on accurate, which is a pleasant change from the usual portrayal. If Ty and Tandy are destined to be a couple, can Evita meet Liam sooner rather than later? Please?

Bits and Pieces:

— Why exactly does Auntie Chantelle own a 3-D printer? And where was the secret body scanning equipment she used to get Ty's specifics? That said, it was a good image to break up the acts of the episode, and nicely mirrored the slow relentless pace of build up.

— Speaking of Voodoo Auntie's dolls, who doesn't have the sense to not attempt to pick up a Voodoo woman's creepy looking ancient dolls on your first visit to meet her? Come on, Ty. Some things you shouldn't have to be told.

— I'm not 100% clear on why Connors is attempting to close down the investigation of Tandy's stabbing Rick.  I've had to look up the character's name, as I couldn't bring myself to continue referring to him as Tandy's victim.  Is Connors the Uncle that Rick referred to? I'm betting yes. It's a nice mirror to the Uncle whom Connors called the night he shot Billy Johnson.

— The whole dream sequence felt very reminiscent of Six Feet Under, which is high praise.

— Aubrey Joseph looked absolutely stunning in that cream colored morning coat. Just stunning.

— Ty's dream was tinged with fears and Tandy's was tinged with hopes. That was a nice touch.

— Auntie Chantelle did a standard Celtic Cross layout to read Ty's cards, but used a regular deck of playing cards to do so. Which works just fine, playing cards developed from the Tarot deck, after all. That was indeed the hopes/fears position. The Joker is related to the Fool, who represents – among other things – the beginning of a journey of discovery.

— The Whole Foods sight gag was genuinely funny. That must have been some stinky bath.

— The checks in the dream were all to Ty from Billy. The 'We Cash Corporate Checks' sign was a nice touch.

— How much exactly did Tandy tell Detective O'Reilly? Did she mention the roofie thefts and the ballet tickets?


Quotes:

Tandy: "Wait, you're that kid..."
The Official Cloak & Dagger drinking game is to take a shot every time Tandy says this, but it's at your own risk.

Tandy: "Don't take this personally, but I hope I never see you again."

Evita: "Hi. Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt or anything, I was just looking for you and I thought you... You know, I'm just gonna stop before I sound like I was stalking you. Which I wasn't."
Evita has clearly purchased her copy of The Felicity Smoak Guide to Flirting Banter.

Auntie Chantelle: "Personally, I prefer the bath."

Tandy: "No. You can't keep doing the same thing. The end will always be the same."

A strong character piece with some good character development, but I'm starting to get itchy to see more overt use of their powers.

Three out of Four pink bathrobes.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Hey, if it helps any, my scary grandmother used to tell people's fortunes using a regular playing card deck, and so did other women in my family. I didn't even realize that most people used Tarot decks to tell fortunes until I was a teen.