Cloak & Dagger: Princeton Offense

"What are you doing here?"

Cloak & Dagger comes down with a mild case of 'middle of the season' in an episode in which we find out a few things and a few pieces get moved into place.

The plot development is good, and the answers are interesting, but ultimately it all feels a little bit like a housekeeping exercise.

I should clarify up front, I'm still one hundred percent on board with this show and the way it's slowly revealing the ties between all its disparate elements. I don't want anything that follows here to give the impression that I think they've lost their way or that the show has somehow gone wrong.

So, that established, it's probably most useful to start with a few words about basketball.  I don't actually follow basketball in any serious way, and so my sphere of basketball knowledge mostly consists of my father's complaints about the current state of NBA uniforms. So while trying to figure out how I felt about this week's episode, I started by looking up what a 'Princeton Offense' is, when it's at home. Because I care about you people, and I'm not afraid to do the research. You're welcome.

The Princeton Offense is a real thing, unsurprisingly.  It was originally developed at Princeton, also unsurprisingly. I'm absolutely certain that I didn't understand all the specifics, but the basic upshot of it seemed to be that it involves a lot of passing the ball, which tends to slow down the game, allowing you to better control the tempo. I apologize to any basketball enthusiasts among you for that grotesque oversimplification.

That seems like as good a description as any for how the structure of this episode played out. We had a lot of passing back and forth between Ty, Tandy, and Brigid O'Reilly, all of which yielded steady forward progress, and allowed them to accomplish a few things that had to get settled before they could really move into the season's endgame. Primarily, they had to position Ty and Tandy as having control over their powers, so that we didn't have to waste any more plot-time with Ty not being able to teleport at will, Tandy not being able to summon light daggers when she wants to, and neither of them able to control their Fear/Hope visions.

Which leads me to a huge mea culpa for being absolutely, completely wrong about a major point last week. Tandy was not attempting to kill herself when she jumped off the bridge, as I was convinced at the time. It turns out she was continuing the exact same course of very methodically testing her powers that she had been doing earlier. Curious, pragmatic, and more than a little self destructive. That's a dangerous combination for scientific research. It makes me very curious as to what sort of scientist her father was, and exactly how much the rig explosion actually was his fault. Particularly as we now know that he designed the plans along with someone named Ivan Hess, whose daughter, Mina, is now making Roxxon PR commercials.  Mina strongly implied that Ivan was dead, but we don't have any clue how or when. I'm willing to bet that that information is going to turn out to be important later.

So, Tandy not only gained control of her powers by putting herself in danger's path, which seems to be her go-to move when planning things, but she also helped Ty gain some control over his teleporting via the Natasha Romanov School of Superhero Team-Up Etiquette. It was nicely done, and I also liked how they handled him using his fear-vision powers the same way that Tandy had used her hope-vision ones earlier in the episode, and I really liked both that he threw the game, and the reasons why he did so. Take that, weaselly, cheating referee.

In the secondary characters this week, Evita continues to prove that she's the most understanding girlfriend ever, and we had the return of a clearly embittered Liam. I actually felt bad about how completely both the show and I had forgotten about him. Tandy's got a reckoning in store on that point at some stage.  And things are apparently going just fine between Brigid O'Reilly and cute beat cop, judging by their squad car scene, so that's nice. He's got a really cute way of feigning an overbite when he smiles, which is charming. I looked up his character name on imdb, partially in order to stop referring to him as cute beat cop, and partially so that I could give them a couple name.

Apparently his name is Officer Fuchs. Let's just all agree to take the high road and move on from that information with no comment.

So, all in all this episode made some good progress at drawing in the connections, even if it occasionally felt a little too obvious that that's what they were doing.  Billy's friend Duane is the drug connection working with Connors. Brigid has convinced Connors that she's as corrupt as he is by staging a 'you busted me doing cocaine' scene, and than more or less spelling out to him that she is used to gaining trust while undercover that exact same way, which is charmingly cocky of her, really. Ty's mom's biggest client is Roxxon, who sort of killed Tandy's dad. Tandy has found her way to the man at the top at Roxxon, who's both evil enough to want to profit off the dead employees at the bottom of the lake and nice enough to help a strange teenage girl change a tire on her car. And we've been introduced to Mina Hess, who basically wore a t-shirt this entire episode that said, 'Ask me about how I'm going to be important later in the season.'


Bits and Pieces:

— I watched this episode with my partner Roy, who was a cop for fifteen years and has a startlingly accurate eye for detail. He pointed out that there were three lines of cocaine in front of Brigid before she snorted, and still three lines afterward, and so he maintains that she only pretended to do the coke in front of Connors. Could be that that was the intent, could be that it was just a continuity blip. Pick which you prefer to believe, I guess.

— Brigid mentioned working in Harlem twice this week. Very minor spoilers, but a character in season two of Luke Cage mentioned that 'O'Reilly went to New Orleans.' That's a great little continuity detail. Also, there's apparently a through line between the Zero Matter in Agent Carter season two and the Dark Force that fuels cloak. That's awesome.

— I liked the opening Roxxon commercial, and it set up the way they would introduce Mina Hess well, but would Tandy really have been stopping to watch Roxxon PR commercials in the middle of going through all that paperwork?

— How on Earth did Tandy know all that about the escort business? Or set up a social media account with 18,000 followers?

— It was great that Ty was completely up front with Brigid about why he was really at the police station, but didn't that make the whole business with pretending his bike was stolen kind of pointless? Tandy contacted Brigid with no trouble or pretense at all two episodes ago, it can't be that hard.

— Mr. Blonde Junior Psychopath on Ty's basketball team seemed to genuinely think he and Ty were still pals after the beating in the equipment room. Is that typical team sports behavior? I never ran much with that crowd.

— No beadwork this week. That cloak ain't gonna finish itself, Ty.

— Tandy went to the escort agency under the name 'Felicity', but in defiance of precedent did not cut all her hair off.

— The sports announcer voiceover as Tandy entered the Roxxon Gala was perilously close to being too cheesy, but they pulled it off well enough.

— Ty was wrong, his powers were already going fritzy well before Tandy started doing any of her hope-visions. Of course, they might have been doing that because she'd gained control and he hadn't, so she was pulling things out of balance. They were pretty big on balance this week.

— Tandy's blue dress at the gala was stunning, but I'm again left to wonder where it came from. Maybe she's still borrowing things from the dry cleaner, but I can't think why they'd let her.

— Ty apparently didn't shower or change after the basketball game, which makes Evita's timing in taking his virginity a little unfortunate.

— I wish just one of the Roxxon Executives' hope-visions had been completely unrelated to the company. Like, Tandy touches the one guy that just wants to be home drinking wine and watching Netflix with his black lab. That would be me, if I were at that party.

No amount of chili spaghetti can mend this broken heart.
Quotes:

Brigid: "You want to help? Stay alive."

Ty: "I'm shocked you didn't just steal someone's laptop from a coffee shop."
Tandy: "You were closer than Starbucks."

Brigid: "At some later date, you and I are going to have a conversation about why you were watching someone else watch porn."

Evita: "I pay attention to you."

Liam: "No, it's chili spaghetti day, and I don't want to miss it."

Ty: "You've been experimenting, right? With your... your hopey-touchy thing?"

Brigid: "Look at that. Got so close to passing the Bechdel test."

It feels like they're deliberately pacing the season so that Ty and Tandy become full fledged Cloak and Dagger at the very end, in the same way that Daredevil didn't get his proper costume until the last episode of the his first season. That's a legitimate production choice, but they haven't yet announced if we're getting a Cloak & Dagger season two yet, and I selfishly want to see as much proper Cloak and Dagger action as possible. Come on guys, let's get moving.

Two and a half out of Four basketball trophies.

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:

jencat said...

Ah I was wondering if O'Reilly got name checked in Luke Cage, mentioning Harlem that many times seemed too much of a coincidence but I haven't had time to watch the new season yet.

I was liking the whole link between investigating Roxxon being how we first see Elektra in Daredevil, and Peggy in the first episode of Agent Carter (I missed the dark matter connection but that's quite neat)... Tandy fits into the line pretty well :-)