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Cloak & Dagger: Restless Energy

"I like this. You and me. Going out. Doing good. Best we can."

Cloak and Dagger are back, and as you might have heard, season two is going to be Mayhem. But not quite yet.

It still seems hard to believe that we're getting a second season of Cloak and Dagger. Fifteen year old me would never have believed that this day would come. And as a bonus, going by this episode, season two is maintaining the impressive level of quality with which season one spoiled us.

A quick note up front – Freeform aired the first two episodes back to back as a 'two hour premiere' event. I'm reviewing the two episodes here separately, partially because they appear to be two separate episodes from a storytelling perspective, but mostly because I'm pedantic enough that I can't bear the thought of not having separate individual review links under the episode listing on the show page.

I realize that that's a ridiculous thing to care about, but the voices reassure me that it's not a sign of any serious mental issues, so there it is.

As a result, I haven't yet watched the second episode as of my writing this and so if any questions I raise here are answered in the second episode I beg your indulgence.

Second season premiere's are difficult. Season one finales tend to have more complete closure than finales of other seasons because you're never sure whether or not the show is going to get picked up for a second year. The end of Buffy's first season and beginning of its second is a good illustration of this issue. So, not only do you have the usual season opener need to re-introduce your characters and general premise, you also have to begin you story with, '...but wait, there's more...' and that can be tricky.

Season one of Cloak and Dagger leaned heavily into the 'Divine Pairing' take on Ty and Tandy's relationship. It was the story of how their powers brought them together for that one specific incident, so that they could save the city. That's a different story than bringing them together to become a crimefighting duo of superheroes, in that the 'becoming heroes' storyline is open ended and the 'becoming the mechanism that saves the city' is a one time event that happens and then is done.

The C & D writing room dealt with this by leaning into it and making that the point of the episode, which was a good decision. Ty and Tandy, and to a lesser degree Brigid, are essentially hanging around and thinking 'OK, now what do I do?' Ty and Tandy are both dealing with the titular restless energy by going out and making little vigilante runs at night; Ty by hitting drug gangs and stealing their product and money, Tandy by identifying abusive partners and terrorizing them. That's very in character for both of them, and hey – how about the way that they allowed Tandy enough self awareness to understand that she was really lashing out because she's still dealing with the knowledge that her dad was an abuser. Tandy is in a fascinating place at the moment, emotionally speaking. The domestic abuse therapy group she and her mom are attending appears to be genuinely helping her, and we see several examples of her actively engaging with it and doing the work for herself, but she hasn't been magically 'fixed' by it. Her first instinct is still to run away when she feels emotionally vulnerable, and we see her do that twice this week, once with her mom and once with Ty.

I can't overstate how refreshing it is to see a show portray abuse, therapy and recovery realistically as the complicated and messy process it is, right down to the way that it appears Melissa Bowen seems to be leaning into therapy as a sort of 'replacement drug,' devoting all the energy she used to give to drinking and pills to the therapy process. That's a very real thing, and it was nicely understated here. Also realistic was the way that Tandy's attempts to punish Jeremy the abusive boyfriend only resulted in his girlfriend becoming more dedicated to staying in the abusive relationship.

In fact, Ty and Tandy's attempts to help other people this week rebound in unpleasant ways all over the place this week. Ty's laudable desire to use his powers to get drugs and the dealers thereof off the streets only results in making the gang he didn't hit more powerful and dangerous, and his attempts to fix that error result in his completely screwing up the official investigation that Brigid had been running to try and take them down. Like Tandy's attempts to scare abusive partners, lack of focus on the big picture is undermining their attempts to be a force for good.

This is nicely set up by the ballet teacher's chastisement of Tandy not focusing on what she was spotting as she did whatever those ballet spinny things are called. Neither Ty or Tandy has been watching their spot as they spin, and as a result they're not getting anywhere. The show has retained its love of visual metaphors, clearly.

One last word about Ty and Tandy. I really love how real and comfortable their friendship is at this point, with the movie nights in the church, and her kind offer to steal him t-shirts and underwear. Even when they fought in this episode, it was clearly a fight between close friends, and not some kind of 'our friendship is over' blowout. This is a big part of why I  hope that they don't make Ty and Tandy a romantic couple. There are just so few positive examples of non-romantic friendship between men and women out there.

And finally, Brigid O'Reilly. It's a little odd that she's back at the police force without serious issues after everything that went down last season, but we only see her at the firing range and not at the department proper, so we'll have to wait and see how her work relationships are currently doing. It was a little surprising that she didn't start out as Mayhem, since that was the way we last saw her as she climbed out of the lake, but New Orleans appears to be heavy into 'we'll seed your powers now, and then get around to activating them at some point in the future,' and in any case, it made the massacre in the final scene a nice payoff to our expectations. We are all assuming that that was Mayhem, right? So, is Mayhem a Jeckyl and Hyde thing, or can she control the transformation, or what? I've been avoiding being spoiled on this on social media, and as I said I haven't watched the second episode yet. Perhaps this question has already been answered.

Bits and Pieces:

-- I really like what they're doing with Ty's teleportation effect, and I get that they were establishing that he's been practicing, but I hope they don't make the mistake of thinking of him as just a teleporter. Teleporting is the least interesting part of his powers.

-- Brigid told Ty that unless Connors resurfaces it will be hard to get him cleared for Fuchs' murder. I wonder if they're setting up Ty trying to rescue Connors from the dark dimension inside him. Is that the way that we're going to see Tandy going into the dark dimension? Am I just fanboy dreaming?

-- I like the detail that they watch movies on VHS. It's an abandoned church, it makes sense that there would be an old VCR somewhere. It's a little odd that the electricity is still on, though.

-- The effect of Tandy's light knives gouging the walls was particularly well done.

-- Are ballet teachers actually that mean, or is that just a movie and TV thing? Anyone know?

-- Andrea Roth consistently brings a little extra something to every scene she's in.

-- Hopefully we'll get to see Evita properly sooner rather than later. And Mina. And Ty's parents. And I still miss Liam.

-- There was a nice detail when Ty is describing watching Evita get hit on and refers to her having 'rebuffed' the guy. He has such a prep school vocabulary. It's clearly deliberately done, because none of the other characters talk that way. Very nice and subtle.

-- Also nicely done is the way the camera work is developing little tricks to show Ty's appearances and disappearances. They're finding a lot of clever and inexpensive ways to move the camera so that his coming or going looks astonishing, but in reality is very simply achieved. I specifically liked the way his weight shifted the car's balance when he appeared in Brigid's back seat.

-- Did Ty want his physics books so that he could do his schoolwork as a coping mechanism for being isolated, or is he researching the physics of what happened to him and how his powers work?

-- Lots of nice detail work in the drug processing houses. The set dressers really put some effort in.

-- Newton's second law of thermodynamics gets a curious amount of love in genre fiction. I'm betting someone on the writing staff has seen 'Logopolis.'

Evita, having rebuffed her gentleman caller.

Girl in therapy: "Kinda sucks when your livelihood relies on being nice to people."
Tandy: "Yeah. That’s why I got into roller derby."

Ty: "Note to self. Tandy has no idea what studying is."
Tandy: "Solitude has made you sassy."

Tandy: "Note to self – You’re still a horrible liar."

Tandy: "Not to rookie-mistake you, but marking up a map of the city is extremely nerdy, and kinda damning as well."

Tandy: "It’s possible I’m not over my dad the way I wish I was over my dad."

Ty: "You know I don’t drink."
Tandy: "Ah, that’s OK. I can drink for the both of us."

Honestly, how do they have power?

A great start to the second season, and hopefully an indicator of the quality to come. Now bring on the Mayhem.

Three and a half out of four VHS tapes.

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.

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