Cloak & Dagger: Colony Collapse

"And with great power comes even more power. In this day and age you need to keep up with the Jones'. As well as the Starks and the Rands."

Cloak and Dagger finish out their first season, and mostly stick the landing, despite a couple minor quibbles.

So, that was the first season of Cloak & Dagger, that was.

I have some mixed feelings about this finale that I'm still trying to process. I really want to like it as much as I liked "Lotus Eaters," but something about it just left me vaguely unsatisfied. There's nothing tangibly wrong with it. It wrapped up all the plot and character threads of the season in a satisfying way while setting up season two, which is great and was handled with a deft hand. So why does it feel just a tad perfunctory to me?

I think it can best be expressed through one specific example. In the first divine pairing flashback we see the Choctaw girl who has to be the one to sacrifice herself because... she has a mark of some sort on her shoulder. That detail exists primarily so that we can echo it visually in the final battle when Tandy burns her shoulder in the same shape and location. And that's fine. That's good. That's disciplined use of structure to set up a visual cue early so that you can pay it off thematically later in the episode. But I didn't have any clue why having that mark meant that the girl had to be the one to sacrifice herself in the first place, and so when they called it back later it just made me think, 'Oh. That's why they mentioned that. Ok. Whatever.' The callback didn't have any particular emotional weight to it because it didn't mean anything specific in the first place.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe the Choctaw are well known for there predilection to demonize skin flaws and I'm just unaware of the fact. Or possibly, and I think this is more likely, the mark itself is a reference to a story or superstition of some sort that I don't know about. That's entirely within the realm of reason. I just wish that it had been explained or rendered with significance in the first scene so that I had cared more later. Which is kind of this episode in a nutshell, I'm afraid.

As long as I'm breaking out the things that didn't work for me, It was frustrating that after a season of continuously cross-referencing Ty's hoodie being with Tandy and Tandy's ballet shoe being with Ty, they brought back the hoodie and completely forgot about the shoe. Come on show. You've been equating them all season to underscore the connection between Ty and Tandy. I don't want to be all pretentious and label this as Chekhov's ballet shoe, but that was a serious dropped ball. To be clear though, I really liked the twist of destroying the cloak and bringing it back to the hoodie. The hoodie represented Ty's connection to Billy as much as it did Tandy's connection to Ty, and it was a really nicely handled detail that his connection to his brother helped to control his power.

Additionally, The effect for Connors being sucked into the dark dimension to be feasted on by the demons that live there just didn't work for me. Partially this is because it's unfeasible on a Freeform budget to have Ty constantly depicted as a man-shaped cloud of darkness wrapped in a cloak, which is a key component of making that visual work in the comics. Partially it's because of the decision to destroy the cloak and use the hoodie, which doesn't hang down as low. But mostly it's because I only know about the aforementioned dark dimension and the fear eating demons that live there because I used to be obsessed with the comic. The show itself doesn't even wave a fig leaf towards explaining what happened to Connors in that moment, and so as much as I personally was experiencing what we might delicately refer to as fangasm at that moment, I can't imagine what someone without the background info could have made of it. It's ironically the exact opposite problem from the one about the mark on the girl's arm.

Ok, enough negativity, because there is actually a ton of stuff to like about this episode. My concern about what the rest of the cops thought about Brigid getting beaten up by Conners last episode was answered here in a depressingly simple and realistic way. They don't like her because she isn't from there. I wish that didn't ring as true as it does. The confluence of Tandy and Ty's story arcs for the season occurs when the Terrors attack the police station, which made me realize that I'd been fundamentally wrong about something all season. I've always felt like there was a slight structural problem due to the fact that Ty was spending so much time with Brigid and Tandy's plotline hadn't tied into theirs yet. As soon as the Terrors attacked I realized that Ty, Tandy, and Brigid weren't the three pivot point of the show as I had been assuming. There were only two pivot points – Ty and the cops balanced against Tandy and Roxxon. I can't believe I hadn't picked up on that; in hindsight the show has been perfectly clear about it all along.

The visuals of Cloak and Dagger in the final battle were striking and gorgeous. Seriously, the effects team has done incredible work this season. And speaking of visuals, whoever decided to use the Superdome as the final image of the struggle is a frakking genius. Since Katrina, the Superdome is instant shorthand for sanctuary after catastrophe, and it was a brilliant move to use that.

And lastly, before this spirals completely out of control, the MVP for this entire season absolutely goes to Noelle Renee Bercy. The role of Evita should have been a thankless part, in that she's only there to give some exposition and get supplanted by Tandy in Ty's affections. But she took that part and made it something amazingly compelling, stealing just about every scene she was in. Tellingly, the episode turns entirely on the moment of Evita showing up at the church and essentially telling Ty and Tandy to get their shit together, because the city's about to explode. Tandy's right, Ty. Lock that down. I very much hope that Evita packing up all the divine pairing dolls doesn't mean she's leaving town, because I want season two to have lots and lots of her. Maybe they're like Christmas decorations, and Auntie Chantelle only puts them out a month or so before each city-wide catastrophe.

Citywide catastrophe season starts earlier every year.

Bits and Pieces:

-- Despite the shoutout to Noelle Renee Bercy, it should be stated that all of the supporting characters were well played this season. This was an incredibly well cast show.

-- It was nice that they let Andrea Roth rescue herself from the evil water delivery woman instead of making her a damsel in distress. It's a minor point, but I like how they handled it.

-- 'Come Sail Away' strikes me as kind of an odd song for them to go with, thematically, but I really liked the different variations of it used during the divine pairing scenes. Particularly the 1812 marching one. In case anyone missed the pre-show buzz about it, that was Olivia Holt singing. She has a nice voice. I bet she was in show choir.

-- Speaking of heartbreakingly realistic - both Ty's Mom and Dad were completely dismissive of whether or not it matters that Ty is actually innocent of the crime he's being accused of. Dear God, I wish that that wasn't as undeniably true as it is.

-- Ty carried someone with him while he teleported! In the comics, that's how Cloak and Dagger get around all the time, with her snuggly nestled inside his cloak in the dark dimension. Too bad it was Conners who got the ride.

-- We'll talk about what's happening to Brigid next season, when it's no longer spoiler-ish, but it was a nice update that she got sprayed with the dark force to trigger it. In the comics it's caused by the same experimental drugs that turned Ty and Tandy into Cloak and Dagger, so that's a nice bit of updated continuity.

-- Apparently the Terrors are contagious, despite the fact that both Tandy and Mina should have contracted it earlier if that was the case. Speaking of Mina, I wish it was a little clearer where we ended up there. Is she ok now? She was only tased, so assuming that whatever Ty and Tandy did to clear away the dark force retroactively fixed all the Terrors she should be fine. Right? I hope so.

-- Also in the question mark category, what do we suppose happened to Peter Scarborough? Is he catatonic like Ivan was now? Did they just leave his body laying there? Perhaps they're leaving it open to bring him back next season. Whichever the case, Olivia Holt's delivery of 'Hello again' to him made me laugh out loud.

-- I wonder what, if any, changes there would have been to this finale if Cloak & Dagger hadn't gotten picked up for a second season. Probably the most they would have changed would be to lose that final coda of Brigid crawling out of the lake. Or maybe they would've left it with a cliffhanger. Fortunately, we never have to know.

-- It's not really clear how Ty and Tandy avoided that whole 'one of them will die' thing, is it. Just as well, since we never for a second believed that was really going to happen, but it would have been nice to be given a reason.

-- I'd been all set to praise the show for being set in New Orleans and not having anything to do with Mardi Gras, and then they go and spring it on us in the finale. Was the series supposed to air earlier in the year?



Quotes:

Tandy: "I don't know Ty. I think we lost."

Evita: "I found her, but she ain't particularly divine."

Mina: "There may be a way to turn it off centrally. But we need to get to Roxxon."
Tandy: "Of course we do."

Mina's Voicemail: "Mina here. You have been missed."
Best voicemail ever.

Tandy: "You know, On second throw, I don't hate you two together."
Ty: "Tandy..."
Tandy: "If the city doesn't destroy itself, you should lock that down."


A reasonably strong end to an incredible first season. My only real complaint about the season as a whole is that it didn't end with them getting their proper costumes, a la Daredevil season One. Of course, that's mostly because Cloak's look is cost-prohibitive, and Dagger's look is kind of stupid, but still. It's the principle of the thing. Hopefully they find some way to square that circle next season

These outfits are not feasible.  Sigh.

Two and a half out of four divine pairings

For Season One as a whole, Three and a half out of four, easily.

More like this please!

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.

10 comments:

Remco said...

Loved this first season! As one of the Marvel teen shows (along with Runaways), it echoes the old 90s WB lineup a little. I had more than one flashback to Buffy, especially when Tandy is in one of her self-destructive moods. But it's obviously updated to current standards. For one thing, I like how sex is just a no-big-deal thing here. Yeah, Ty was a virgin, and now he isn't. Big whoop. How different that was in the 90s! And no boyfriends turning evil.

I thought the resolution with Connors was a little too convenient. I mean, I like how slowly they discovered their powers; it's a very organic start to the show, instead of infodumping it on the audience in the first episode. But by the time of the finale, the rules should be clearly established. Instead, they gave Ty one final power in the last minute, just so he could beat Connors.

So, what will the next season bring? The interesting thing about these slow-building shows is that by the time the first season is over, you don't really know what an 'average' episode is going to be like, since the entire season is like a premiere. That's not a bad thing: I don't want to see average episodes :)

Remco said...

What was the meaning of the title, Colony Collapse? Earlier in the season, they made a point of telling the story about disappearing bees, leaving only the queen. What are the disappearing bees here? Who is the queen?

Remco said...

Sorry, I keep posting...

Not to go all shipper, but could they please keep Ty and Tandy as just friends? There's been enough of the will-they-won't-they dynamic that seems to be required when there is a penis and vagina involved. It's been done. Besides, Ty has a good thing going with Evita. She's got some impressive power of her own, likely stemming from her Voodoo upbringing.

Ah, and the "one of them will die" thing. I was a bit pissed when that came up, because it so clearly couldn't go anywhere. They are both in the title of the show, after all! I thought maybe one of them would symbolically die, as stated by that long speech in the previous episode: a hero can't really regress, because the person they were before is dead. But I think they went with "through the power of cooperation, they both live".

Jeff said...

I think you have it backwards. They don't kill the kid because of the mark, it seemed like they were pointing it out as the start of the pattern. It's more like a "fated to die" mark now, an indication of which divine pairing rebirth is which.

Mikey Heinrich said...

Remco - OMG, I totally agree with everything you just said, and definitely keep posting! No apologies necessary :)

In random order - I couldn't agree more about Ty and Tandy remaining just friends. I know that's not their dynamic in the comics anymore, but they work really well that way in the show, and Dammit I just adore Evita too much to want Ty with anyone else. That said, I think the reason they avoided having Ty and Tandy's relationship be romantic in the comics was a general desire to avoid interracial couples, and that's definitely not cool, so I feel a little weird pushing against a Ty and Tandy romance for fear of it being seen that way. But then again, there are so freakin few examples on television of men and women just having positive friendships with one another, that I'd love for that to be the case. Oh... there's just too many layers of concern on this issue.

I think that might be the least helpful paragraph I've ever written. Still, shows a good complicated show since I can't come up with an easy answer.

-Yeah, the one of them will die thing always felt like a waste of screentime to me too. I like that they were trying for a different angle, but it just didn't work for me either. And Doctor Who pulled the 'we promised a death, but it's just a symbolic death' too many times for me to ever want to see it again. I guess power of cooperation isn't a terrible message for a show to have though.

-I read Colony Collapse as New Orleans being the colony and the divine pairing being the thing that prevents the collapse from happening. Which makes the Darkforce neonicatinoids, I guess? I may have over-metaphored.

Yeah, The whole absorb people into his dark place power has always been the cornerstone of Cloak's gig in the comics. It felt odd to me that they saved that one for last and then didn't really explain it.

I'm really happy you're loving this season as much as I did! And oh good lord, Hooray for sex-positive shows!

Can't wait to read your next comment :)

Mikey Heinrich said...

Jeff - totally fair read. I'm absolutely willing to consider that the problem might have been me there.

I just know that I personally as a viewer wished that that had been spelled out a little more than it was

Hope you enjoyed the rest of the season. Season Two in the spring!!!

Jeff Hamm said...

But I do agree, it wasn't especially clear, and as you said, the whole "one will die" thing didn't really go anywhere. In a show like this, there wasn't much chance of actually killing one of them, so it was largely a distraction from anything that mattered.

Adihsar StilinskiH said...

Disagree. I want them together. Evita is cool but her and Ty's relationship is sidelined at best and just "cute". How anyone can be all excited for their relationship is beyond me because it's just cute. There's no thrill, no interesting plot points and she hasn't even met his parents yet. Evita, however, on her own I like as a whole. She is interesting and could be a great friend and ally to Ty and Tandy down the line. But again, while I like her, I'm not going "Where's Evita?" when my show is on. She's cool, but she isn't THAT cool. At least not yet.

Remco said...

I'm not really a shipper by nature. If they do decide to pair Tyrone and Tandy, I'm fine with it. A bit disappointed that friendship and partnership must also include a romantic part, but fine. And it does allow for a nasty breakup storyline to get there.

I guess I'm into Evita and Ty because she has already been there in that role for him: getting his mind out of the darkness, seeing the potential for good in him. Now, why she is able to see that, I don't quite understand. It would be kind of nice if it was tied into the teachings of her mother. That she subconsciously recognizes divine pairings.

BTW, on the topic of those divine pairings: doesn't that sound a lot like Carnivàle's avatars? Just like in Carnivàle, Ty and Tandy are destined to play a role in an apocalyptic event. One creature of light, one of darkness. Of course for added fun, the virtuous one is a creature of darkness, while the criminal is a creature of light.

It's not a perfect parallel, since they both seem to be destined to avert an apocalypse, not cause it. But given where Connors supposedly ended up, Ty's power is definitely rooted in something dark.

Maybe they should bring in Daniel Knauf to bring the mythology up to eleven. Then again, that might not be very good for business, considering what happened to Carnivàle.

Mikey Heinrich said...

I loved Carnivale! I hadn't thought about that parallel, but I dig it now you've pointed it out.

I think a lot of my Evita-shipping comes from the actress' natural likability and the way she was able to fight back against Tandy in the hope-visions. It was a very 'you GO girl!' moment for me