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Cloak & Dagger: Call/Response

"I think we need to talk."
"You think?"

You know that thing in genre television shows where something inexplicable is happening to the characters, so they sit down calmly and have a rational, adult discussion about the situation?

Yeah, I'd never seen that before this either.

Part of me wishes that this episode had been nothing but the conversation between Ty and Tandy in one long, unbroken character piece, but of course we only get ten episodes for the season, so the exigencies of the story arc were never going to allow for that. That said, the parts of the episode that were just T&T were never less than riveting, and there was plenty of good stuff in the other parts of the episode, so I won't complain too much.

Before we get to that, there's one thing that needs to be noted about the non-Ty and Tandy scenes, and it's the only real structural problem that the series has shown so far. Namely, it's not at all clear when the rest of the scenes are taking place relative to the scenes in the church. They're clearly not simultaneous, as Ty and Tandy feature in some of them. They seem to be after Ty and Tandy's church-talk, since Ty seems to be acting on the advice Tandy gave him vis-a-vis pretending to have his bike stolen, among a couple of other details. All things being equal we could just assume that the rest of the scenes take place after the church scenes and not worry too much about it, but there's a but. And it's a big but. The end result of Ty and Tandy's conversation (one of them in any case), is Tandy's attempted suicide. It's presented to us that she goes directly to the bridge to make that attempt from the church, and indeed it would be hard to imagine that it's not immediately afterward as her suicide attempt is an emotional response to the argument, and if she'd waited a day or so she would have had time to cool down and probably wouldn't have followed through with the jump.

So, either we know for a fact before she jumps that she doesn't succeed since we've seen events that take place after it, or there are some weird time shenanigans involved with when those other scenes take place. It's not a crippling structural problem, but it's awkward and took me out of the episode to an extent. I mean, yes, obviously we know she isn't going to successfully kill herself since she's half of the show title, but from a strictly storytelling perspective, it's muddy.

So, about that conversation then. Just superbly well handled all around. I like that they wasted zero time on 'I don't believe this, this can't really be happening,' and just got down to brass tacks. I love that Tandy's instinct is to start running experiments to see exactly how their powers respond to one another. I love that Tandy is self aware enough to realize that if she'd been given the power to teleport that she would have run away, and that she understands that that's why she shouldn't have that power. And I really love the interesting balance that they've achieved between the places where Tandy is smart and Ty is naïve versus the other way around. For example, it's a great detail that Tandy understands exactly how Ty can work his way into the police's sphere so that he can track down Connors, but has absolutely no conception of why Ty would be in more danger than she would be in that situation.

I'm just dancing around the heart of their argument, so I'm just going to quote it here instead of saving it for the Quotes section.

Tandy: "And everything I have, I've had to steal, because..."
Ty: "Because you can! You can walk into any room in this world and never be questioned. Try walking into a department store looking like me."
Tandy: "That's not fair, because I don't..."
Ty: "The world does! Look, this whole country is trying to kill me every day."

That is a hell of a lot to pack into just four lines of dialogue. Tandy has a valid point to an extent. Looked at objectively, her life absolutely sucks, and she has certainly never thought about it with the word 'privilege' popping up anywhere in her mind. Her father died horrifically in front of her, her mother's a self destructive addict, she's conditioned herself to push away any support systems offered to her for fear of losing them, and she steals to survive while squatting in an abandoned church. Looked at from that perspective, Tandy does not lead a life of privilege. Except that she has the luxury of not knowing why Ty would be hesitant to interact with the police. That's a profound dissection of economic privilege versus sociological privilege to have thrown into the middle of your superhero show, and we should all applaud them for going out of their way to confront and discuss it when so many other shows avoid the issue entirely so as to not make anyone uncomfortable.

I know I seem to mention this every episode, but once again the secondary characters shone here. Much like Evita last episode, Ty's dad just became a thousand times more interesting. Last week I mentioned that I wasn't sure if I liked him. This week I want The Adventures of Spy Boy Otis to be its own spin off series, because I have so many questions about the whole Wild Red Hawks set-up. Fantastic misdirect, having Ty's Dad, upon finding his bolt cutters and worrying that Ty was heading down the path that got Billy killed, take him for a stern... session of intricate beadwork. When Otis Johnson walked up to what appeared to be a gang of some sort and started singing, I wondered briefly if I was having a stroke. Great set up. Great payoff with Otis helping Ty to bond with the community in a positive way. Great reveal of Cloak's cloak. Many thousands of extra bonus points for the way that the beadwork on the cloak made it look exactly like the stylistic shading that it always seems to have in the comics. My inner twelve-year-old went through the roof at that detail.

And then there was Greg. Poor Greg. I really liked Greg, and did not see that coming at all. My notes for the episode actually contain the line, 'Holy Shit, Greg!' They also contain the line, 'Greg uses cilantro. He's dead to me.' from a few minutes earlier, but I feel badly about that now.

The Adventures of Spy Boy Otis coming next season on the CW
Bits and Pieces:

— Call and Response, as a musical style, has a long and deep relationship with the African-American experience. It's worth reading up on, if you have an interest in the way music and history intersect.

— I missed the detail last week that Tandy was in the vision because she had a concussion. Evita's Auntie Chantelle specifically said that that was one of the two ways you could 'walk with the Loa.' I can't believe I missed that.

— Roxxon is willing to murder to keep whatever was on that rig secret. They're also still paying for permits and zoning for it to keep things covered up. Should you need permits and zoning for a sunken rig? Thank God that oil companies in the real world aren't evil like that.

— Bringing other people coffee has really become a recurring motif on this show. I like it. It shows manners.

— They confirmed here that Tandy shows people's hopes and Ty shows people's fears. I have prepared a little 'I was right' dance.

— The way Tandy used social media to track people reminded me forcibly of Clara. In a good way.

— Ty is clearly still a virgin, based on the way he responded when Tandy mentioned sex in their church conversation. That's a sweet detail.

— Greg loved Tandy's Mom because they 'laughed about the dumbest shit.'   #relationshipgoals

— Tandy now has Greg's box of files on Roxxon. I'm confident that will come back up at some point.


All Tandy this week. She had a lot of good lines.

Tandy: "Fizzy bubble-bomb for the soul?"

Tandy: "I remember I felt safe when I was with him."

Tandy: "Well, if hope exists, I don't think that that looks like Greg."

Tandy: "When all hope slips away, I get all hot, and bother, and weaponized."

I can't give this less than a three out of four, because those church scenes were so dead on, and the way they addressed race was powerful and brave. On the other hand, the structural problems held things back just a little bit this week, so:

Three out of Four fizzy bubble bombs for the soul

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:

  1. Just watched the first few episodes and really enjoying your reviews!
    I had the impression that Tandy's jump into the water happened after she saw Greg's murder (which was also after the church conversation), as that was her impetus to do something about controlling her powers?


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