Cloak & Dagger: Rabbit Hold

Ty: "How do you know how to do that?"
Adina: "Some things you never forget."

Ty finally begins exploring his coolest power, thanks to Tandy's decision to enter him and have a look around.

Look, it's not as creepy as it sounds.

I know I mention this almost every week, but wow, this show really pulls off some beautiful visuals. The image of Tandy standing in front of the five mirrors, each one reflecting a different aspect of who she is, contrasted with the sharp darkness of the location, was a particularly striking shot. Honestly, just lovely.

Since the first announcement that they were going to be doing a Cloak and Dagger show, I've been waiting for the developments we got this week. Apologies in advance for this, as you really shouldn't have to be familiar with the source material in order to watch the show, but I think in this case it helps to have a little background.

In the comics, Cloak is basically a gateway to something that they refer to as 'The Dark Dimension.' In that dimension there's nothing but darkness, as you might have guessed from the name. Within that darkness is something they used to only refer to as 'the predator,' who is basically some sort of demon that feeds on the light that Dagger generates, but is also happy to chow down on the terror that people experience when they're absorbed into Cloak's cloak and are forced to relive all their fears. Dagger, meanwhile, generates that delicious light that the predator eats, but if she doesn't release it regularly enough she basically burns up from the excess energy.

That's the symbiosis that ties the two of them together, and the fact that their powers are completely dependent on one another if they aren't going to run out of control is one of the fundamental planks of their relationship.

It was nice, then, that even while the show was finally exploring Ty's big portal they were also underscoring the symbiotic nature of their powers. Tandy had to give up her light powers in order to 'proceed on the journey' through the dark dimension and find Brigid, and tangentially Connors. That, unfortunately, comes at an inconvenient time for Ty, since he's spending some quality time with his Mom attempting to not be killed by gang members.

The character development we get here as we explore Ty's relationship with his mother is fascinating. Adina is a timely depiction of the constant worry implicit in raising a child of color in today's America. Her worry and the actions it leads her to take all feel very real.

The two parallel journeys that Ty and Tandy take this week, him running from the gang and her finding her way through the dark dimension's shopping mall, bounce off each other well, culminating in what I suspect was the point of exercise, the deliberate contrasting of Ty telling his mother the story of human trafficking hundreds of years ago intercut with Mayhem relating to Tandy some harsh facts about human trafficking today.

The point that they're making is clear and well presented. Human trafficking is not a thing of the past. It's not a story from history. It's never gone away. The showrunners deserve a lot of praise for the way they approached the issue.

Meanwhile, in the dark dimension, we finally get an explanation for something that's been bothering me a lot so far this season. Namely, why Tandy has been so incredibly prone to victim blaming in her domestic abuse support group. It made sense that finding out that her idolized father was really an abuser would cause an emotional crisis for her, but that didn't really track with how angry she was at Mikayla for not leaving her abuser.

Now of course it makes sense. She didn't just find out that her father was an abuser. We see very clearly here that she knew all along. She chose to 'not see it,' as we see by her literally choosing to walk out the door to avoid hearing her mother being abused. Of course she's projecting anger toward victims who allow the abuse to continue. The visual metaphor of the memories as records still in their shrink wrap was an inspired choice. Well done.

Lastly, and again I know I say this a lot here, but they continue their proud tradition of making changes from the source material that make everything better and stronger. I mentioned above the predator that lives inside Cloak in the comics. Here they've updated that, and very wisely used the move to New Orleans to justify replacing the predator with Papa Legba, who apparently greets all those who enter the dark dimension and guides them on their business. That just works, on every level. Instead of 'scary thing in the dark' we have 'mysterious guide' and there's a lot more story to be mined out of 'mysterious guide.'

Papa Legba is one of the Loa in Vodoun, and is one of those crossroads deities who's heavy into guiding destinies. That's a perfect fit for this context.


Bits and Pieces:

-- Ty's parents have separated, which explains why we haven't seen much of Otis. That's sad, but not at all unrealistic for a couple that loses a child. Two children, in their case. I wonder if the actor was busy, or if they just wanted to focus the story on Adina.

-- Speaking of Adina, she's startlingly adept at hotwiring cars and avoiding the police. I suddenly have a million questions about Ty's mom.

-- Starting with, what has she been investigating exactly. and does it tie into why she was apparently pressured into preventing an investigation into the girls' disappearances last week?

-- Both American Gods and Cloak and Dagger heavily featured empty shopping malls this week. 14-year-old me in 1986 sighed deeply, inside.

-- The special effect of Ty opening up his portal to the dark dimension was done better than I ever dared hope it would be in live action. Now please throw a cloak into the mix and I'll be happy forever.

-- Ty and Tandy said that Ty was able to open his portal because he was scared, but I bet it was more to do with the presence of Tandy's light.

-- Connors is out of the dark dimension now and ready to cause more trouble. We didn't see Mayhem in the last scene, but it feels safe to assume that she's out too, right?

-- Sadly, most places in the US do still treat victims of human trafficking as criminals and prosecute them for prostitution.

-- I've been meaning to ask this the last couple of weeks – so, does Brigid only have half a soul now? Is Mayhem like a horcrux? If you killed one, I assume the other wouldn't die, based on what happened to the mice.

-- Tandy threw light knives! That makes me geek out every time.

-- I really want one of those Cloak and Dagger icon coins.

-- I don't buy that the gang would just turn around and leave without killing Ty and his mom first. I do however believe that the police would come in shooting for an unarmed black teenager in Ty's position.


Quotes:

Tandy: "You saw what they were doing to those girls."
Ty: "Yeah, and I also saw what she did to everything in her path."

Tandy: "Why didn’t you tell me about Connors?"
Ty: "We were in the middle of saving the world at the time."

Papa Legba: "I’ve seen blood. And a green jacket. It was worn by half a woman."

Tandy: "You look exactly like her."
Mayhem: "Why not ‘she looks exactly like you’?"

Tandy: "Sometimes the status quo is OK."
Mayhem: "And sometimes girls are stolen and sold into slavery. Oh wait, that’s all the time."

Ty: "Nobody’s gonna come in here."
Mom: "Why not?"
Ty: "Because it’s haunted by 300 year old vampire nuns."

Adina: "Son."
Gang Scout: "I’m not your son."
Adina: "You’re somebody’s son."



A solid episode that pushed a lot of my fannish buttons and turned up the heat on the season-long plot.

Three and a half out of four voodoo tours.

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:

Patrick said...

The quote that stood out to me was when Mayhem asked "What's the word for lack of hope?" which is either a fun Easter egg for comic fans or some major foreshadowing.

Fans of The Originals will recognize the story Ty tells his mother. :)