Cloak & Dagger: Shadow Selves

"What if I just want to hurt people?"

Well, this one certain gives us a few things to unpack.

Cloak and Dagger catches up with some supporting characters, while bringing us up to speed on what Mayhem has been up to since last season's finale. Oh, and gives us a mediation on the essential nature of self, as you do.

The 'shadow self,' according to Jungian philosophy, are those parts of one's personality that you reject or choose to not know about. That's a horrific oversimplification, and I apologize to any psychology students who might be reading this. It's not really my field. I had to google just to confirm that much.

Most obviously this is a reference to Brigid and Mayhem, implying that Mayhem is that shadow self that Brigid has always had inside of her, neatly separated off into its own body. I believe there was a Star Trek episode where something similar happened to Kirk, but it was a little less... let's be polite and say 'nuanced,' than what we get here.

Actually, the Star Trek comparison is useful here, particularly when compared to the explanation that Mina gives us in this episode. Since I'm going to actually talk about it, I've felt obligated to look up what it was called, and it's 'The Enemy Within,' for anyone wondering who didn't already know. Additional apologies to Star Trek fans for the oversimplification I'm about to launch into. Fans of both Jung and original series Trek, please contact me directly and I'll send you an apology fruit basket or something.

In 'Enemy Within,' Kirk is split into 'good Kirk' and 'evil Kirk,' and the point is very much that even good people have bad stuff in them and it's a character study of who Kirk is as a complete character. That being the purpose of the experiment, one Kirk is very definitely 'good,' and the other definitely 'evil.' In 'Shadow Selves,' Mina describes the process that's been splitting her test mice into two, and therefore by proxy what's happened to Brigid, as resulting in one version of the self with no activity in the brain's rage center, and the other version having activity only in the rage center. Your basic Hulk scenario.

But neither of those descriptions fit what we actually see of Mayhem's character this week.

Mayhem isn't full of rage, particularly. She's task-oriented and happy to kill people she views as 'bad,' but that's not at all the same thing. If anything, Mayhem is a much better cop than Brigid. Sure, her first instinct is to track down and kill her other half, but she gets distracted almost immediately by wanting revenge on the guy she was already looking to get revenge on before the personality split, and then never shows an inclination to kill Brigid again, despite the half a dozen times this episode alone in which she could have done so.

Great job to the showrunners for the Mayhem backstory we get tonight, and the way it pulls a lot of the pieces of this season's plot together. Mayhem starts with wanting revenge on Connors, isn't able to find him, and then decides that since she wants to kill people anyway she should focus on finding bad people to kill, becoming Dexter with Day-glo fingernail polish. Plus, she's clearly capable of being thoughtful and kind, as shown in her comment about Ty being her friend. It was nice that Delgado gives her the advice that pushes her in the direction of punishing the guilty, by the way. Put a pin in Delgado, we'll circle back to him in a minute, but there's one last point about Mayhem that I want to touch on before we move on.

This show is one of the rare examples in which every single change they've made to the source material has made the show stronger. The exception, as I've said before, being not having Ty stutter, but that's more of a practical consideration, so we'll let that slide. In the comics, Mayhem is essentially what you'd get if Toxic Avenger and the Punisher made a beautiful love child, but having Mayhem and Brigid be two separate beings who share Brigid's memories and thought processes was a brilliant move and is really paying off for them. The way that Mayhem clearly wants Tandy to side with her and be her partner on the investigation is just one aspect of the overall impression that what Mayhem really wants is to prove that she's better than Brigid, and that's fascinating. I can't wait to see where this is going.

But Brigid isn't the only one whose darker side has come to the fore here, and now we get back to Formerly-Father Delgado. Wow, was I not prepared for how dark they went with Delgado. I questioned last season why they threw in such a randomly dark note as the reveal that Delgado had killed a kid while driving drunk, but now I think they were just preparing us for this next stage in his character development. I don't have a ton to say about drunk street preaching nihilist Delgado except that I'm impressed that they went there, and it was nicely handled how he factored into Mayhem's evolution from seeking vengeance to becoming an actually effective rescuer of human trafficking victims. That was not where I saw any of that going.

And last but not least, Ty and Tandy continue their promised power-up. Tandy's ball of light which lit up the whole warehouse was cool looking, but my inner fangirl nearly passed out with joy when Ty finally unveiled his full body of darkness effect and then we got to witness firsthand someone inside the dark realm of his cloak being tormented by visions. Now all I need to die happy is for Tandy to ride 'inside' him to crime scenes and leap out throwing light knives.


Bits and Pieces:

-- The debate between Ty and Tandy as to whether they should just step back and let Mayhem kill the human traffickers had valid points all around. Generally speaking, I'd put myself on team 'yes, please murder the human traffickers' but Ty's concerns about the victims being collateral damage was fair. That said, I did not feel bad when Mayhem ran that one over with a truck.

-- Mayhem climbed out of the lake 242 days earlier, so Evita's statement last week that it had been eight months was more or less on the nose.

-- The extremely mini story-arc of Dale, the skeezy desk clerk at the transient hotel, was a thing of beauty. From creeping on Mayhem, to backing away, to the obedient puddle he'd become by the time Brigid came to find the hotel was just perfection. This show really does understated very well.

-- Haven't we all wanted to beat up a refrigerator?

-- Oh Mina Hess, I'm so glad that you're OK. Mina has apparently now added microbiolical bio-chemistry and behavioral research fellow to her already impressive track list of Structural Engineer, Thermodynamics expert, plumber, renewable energy expert, and about twelve other unrelated specialties. At this point I think it's best to view Mina like Reed Richards, i.e. all purpose science-y person who knows all the science-y stuff when it's needed. Plus just maybe she'll encourage a few more girls to pursue STEM careers, and that's a good enough goal in its own right.

-- Today I learned that SRO stands for 'single room occupancy,' a type of hotel that in a less dignified age I would have referred to as a flophouse.

-- Tandy mentions in passing that she and Mina have kept in touch. I feel like we were cheated out of a few highly entertaining explanation scenes.

-- Special shout out to Emma Lahana for the physical work she's doing to differentiate Brigid and Mayhem. Mayhem moves in a very distinctive shoulder forward way, which is very different from how Brigid walks. It's a nice, subtle detail, and should be praised.

-- Apparently I was overcomplicating the kidnapped girl plot last week. They seem to just be human traffickers who panicked and let Mikayla go because Ty had suddenly appeared in their ambulance so they had to cover their tracks. I kind of appreciate the show letting me work that out for myself.

-- 'The Glitter Gutter' is a great name for a strip club.

This refrigerator is. Asking. For. It.
Quotes:

Mina: "Don’t worry, these cosmetics were tested on humans."

Brigid: "She’s not me."
Tandy: "She’s got your face and she’s got your badge."

Dale: "No one went in your room. I didn’t mean to make eye contact, I’m sorry."

Tandy: "What is this?"
Brigid: "This is Mayhem."

Mayhem: "And in another lifetime, Ty was a friend. At least he was to me, I don’t know if he’d say the same."

Tandy: "Hey Ty, look. Ya got a deranged map twin."

Mayhem: "You don’t get to play the victim. (Slashes his throat) Well, now I suppose you can."

Fuchs: "Who’s up for Awkward reunion pancakes?"

You need science?  Mina Hess, she got your science.
Lots of good stuff here, with only a couple of awkward plot contrivances to really criticize. For example, it's a little hard to swallow that Brigid being pulled from the lake would make breaking citywide news under those circumstances. Still, if that's the show's biggest sin, my shadow self is happy.

Three and a half out of four shadow dimensions.

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.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

I loved the reference to Ben Urich from Netflix-Daredevil when Brigid mentioned she learned the playing card thing from a reporter in New York :)

Mikey Heinrich said...

Oh my god, I cannot believe that I missed that reference. You're absolutely right!

I love the strange little ways that they're connecting C&D to the Marvel Netflix shows, may they rest in peace, despite being on a different network.