Cloak & Dagger: Two Player

"But every action has its own reaction, as much as we’d like to avoid it. Isn’t that right, Miss Bowen?"

Cloak & Dagger puts the villain on pause for a moment so that it can clear up a little character development before the end of season fireworks.

One of the stated goals for this season of C&D was that they were going to 'power up', by which one assumes they meant that Ty and Tandy were going to gain greater control of their powers and learn new ways of using them.

They've been more or less holding true to that, with Tandy learning her shiny new light ball trick and Ty attempting to learn a little more control over opening the portal to the dark dimension. The real implication that the season keeps coming back to, however, is that they become more powerful through working together instead of continuing to try to deal with things on their own. They've come back to that theme repeatedly over the season with various degrees of subtlety or lack thereof.

It's fitting then that they chose this episode's video game metaphor to solidify that point, particularly as 'power up' is a very 'gamer' way of phrasing the concept. It's worth noting that the episodes title is 'Two Player,' not 'Two Players.'  It's a reference to the way the game is played, not to the people playing it.

At the end of the previous episode, Ty finds Tandy, while conveniently resolving the abducted girls subplot so that the decks are clear to focus on Andre and the upcoming season finale. No sooner has he found her than he collapses and his dark dimension appears to start bleeding out of him. It's still not entirely clear what's causing the darkness to overflow, but it's probably worth noting that the darkness immediately goes back to normal the moment that Tandy jumps into the dark dimension to save him. One could almost assume that the whole point of the escaping darkness was to facilitate Tandy entering the dark dimension again, and that once that was accomplished it wasn't needed anymore.

Unfortunately, the show itself was a little vague on that point, so assuming is all we're able to do at this stage. It's also possible that the point was to get Brigid into the dark dimension so that she could reunite with her other half who's been trapped there for a fair few episodes now, but then we have to ask ourselves why Papa Legba would want that to happen. It seems clear, in any case, that it was Papa Legba who was calling the shots there and not Baron Samedi, since Samedi seemed surprised to see both Ty and Tandy once they got there. There's a note below for the voudon purists regarding those two. We'll get there presently.

Logistics of how they got there aside, the main storyline for Ty and Tandy this week basically was 'play a videogame for awhile.' This worked just fine as a metaphor for Ty wanting to avoid reality and Tandy trying to talk him into returning to the world. Thematically it's just a retread of 'Weight of the World,' as far as the basic mechanics go. But the real virtue of the videogaming plot was that it allowed the concept of Ty and Tandy working better together to be put on a low simmer while the episode got to what it was really interested in doing: focusing on the side characters. And this week, all the side characters shone.

Let's look at them one at a time, starting from the least consequential and working our way up. This was the first episode of this show ever that made Father Delgado's presence make sense. Prior to this he felt like he was only there because he'd been there in the comics and the show didn't really have anything for him to do. Earlier this season he fell and fell hard back into addiction and despair, which foreshadowed the way that despair as a concept was going to be important, but at the time didn't really dovetail at all into what the rest of the show was doing. Here he provides one very important thing in terms of plot mechanics and one very important thing in terms of theme. For the plot mechanics, the fact that he's a priest means that he can give the police the evidence of Ty's innocence without having to say where it came from. That's a nifty loophole for them to get Ty's name cleared. As far as theme, the fact that he's a disgraced priest means that he can be a statement about people being capable of both great good and great bad.

That same point is echoed in Adina's story this week. Turns out she straight up murdered Connors after getting his evidence. It's hard to blame her after what he did to her family, but after last week's amazing scenes between them I really hoped that she'd achieved some measure of inner peace about things. Her duality is 'save Ty/Avenge Billy,' and as soon as the logistics of the former no longer got in the way with achieving the latter, she started laying down plastic sheeting in the guest bathroom. That was a profoundly sad moment, and she is very much not okay about it.

Melissa Bowen has gone back to drinking and pills which is sadly all too common. I can't really speak about this development just now for personal reasons, beyond saying that loving someone with an addiction can really, really suck. Ty being able to magically appear next to her when she needed the comfort felt like the right way for them to cement their 'we're not doing this crap alone anymore' status.

Brigid and Mayhem had a come-to-Jesus talk over a nice manicure, which felt strangely empowering for both of them, and this is where the episode really brought home the whole 'embracing the duality is the point, dummy' theme. Both of their memories of their father were true. He was acting for both good reasons and bad reasons. Everyone is. We're all two players, and we're stronger when those players work together. It seems that Mayhem and Brigid are sharing a body now that they're both out of the dark dimension. That felt like the right way to unite them.

And then there was Evita. Poor Evita. She sacrificed a lot in this one. She found out the Aunt who raised her was dead, became a mambo in Auntie's place and gave away her chance to be with Ty in order to save his life by marrying a Voudon gatekeeper Loa. That's a heck of a day. I'm reading this as the show's way of eliminating Evita as a romantic rival for Tandy once they get around to Ty and Tandy's relationship moving in that direction. That's disappointing. Even Tandy thought Ty should be with Evita, if her perfect day hallucination was anything to go by.



Bits and Pieces:

-- Both Andre and Ty are 'transitioning.' Is Ty on the verge of becoming a Loa, or just an amorphous shape in a cloak?

-- Andre apparently lost a lot of mojo when the captive girls were freed. So much so that he appears to have sucked Lia dry and left her dead body by the side of the road. Couldn't have happened to a nicer woman.

-- The videogame Ty and Tandy were playing was called 'Duel with D'Spayre.' Which means that apparently I was right a couple episodes back about Andre's connection to the Marvel character of that name.

-- The 'radioactive heroin' origin in the videogame was a nice nod to the comics, where that was their origin. To be fair, I think the comics used 'experimental' instead of 'radioactive.'

-- Andre has realized that his veve represents musical notes, which one assumes is how he's going to get through that locked door. The notes he was humming didn't correspond to the notes we saw on the veve, by the way.

-- If Ty had decided just a little sooner to stop playing the game, Evita wouldn't have had to marry Papa Legba.

-- There was a little muddying of roles concerning Legba and Samedi. Papa Legba is the gatekeeper. He's the one you have to reach out to in order to communicate with any other Loa. In that sense, it's absolutely right that he's the one you first meet when entering the dark dimension. Baron Samedi is the Loa of the dead. So when the show talked about the 'Gateway to the dead,' they were kind of conflating the two.

-- Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte also featured prominently in this season of American Gods. It's a small world.

-- I really want the cloak figurine that Samedi was surprised to see. How many skeeball tickets do we suppose that cost?


Quotes:

Brigid: "It’s not really you, is it."
Fuchs: "No."
Brigid: "But it’s nice to see you."

Ty: "Come on. If I’m gonna beat this, I’m gonna need your help."

Mayhem: "No, you’re here to kill me. Or subdue me. Or something me."

Tandy: "What?"
Ty: "You’re really good at this."
Tandy: "Damn right."

Mayhem: "I’m not gonna be put in a box just to be brought out whenever we have road rage or another dead boyfriend."



There were moments in this one when it felt like filler before they really start up the endgame, but it was good filler with a fair amount of thematic depth, so I'll take it.

Three out of four boss battles.

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.

No comments: