Cloak & Dagger: Vikingtown Sound

"You have the face of a system that has done nothing but hold me and mine down."

Cloak & Dagger starts laying out some answers as season two heads into the home stretch.

But Ty's mom, though...

We got a few big reveals in this one, and yet none of them feel nearly as compelling as every single moment of Connors and Adina Johnson's discussion over dinner prep. That just shouldn't be possible.

Let's start with some talk about those revelations, because there's a lot to talk about and I don't want them to seem like an afterthought after I go on a good long rave about Gloria Reuben. Spoiler alert: I'm going to go on a good long rave about Gloria Reuben.

After a few notable teases of the mystery veve, most notably in all of the picture frames in Ty's family home inside Tandy's dreamworld last episode, we get the reveal of whose veve it is. It turns out to be one of those reveals that makes you think, 'I should have thought of that,' and yet is still a surprise. The answer, as is obvious in hindsight, is that it's Andre's veve. The twist here being that Andre himself didn't know that until now. That's a clever way to obfuscate the issue. Andre's lack of recognition of the symbol made it seem clear that it must belong to someone else, but of course who else would have caused it to be plastered all over the inside of the visions that Andre was causing Tandy to have. He just didn't know he was doing it.

So Andre is on the cusp of becoming a loa, and had no idea. That's an interesting development, and casts a whole new light on what he's been trying to accomplish this season. It turns out that so far all he's been after is to use the despair of kidnapped girls to make his migraine pain go away and didn't really have a bigger picture goal. Now we find out that the bigger picture had a larger goal for him.

Great use of Auntie Chantelle this week, as relates to this plotline. It made perfect logistic sense that Andre would find Chantelle in Ty's memories and immediately go to her to get some answers about this mysterious veve that he's finding everywhere. It was also satisfying that Chantelle was perfectly honest and straightforward with him, not even being ruffled by the abrupt transition into his 'record store.' Chantelle hasn't always been well used by the show, and it was nice to see her get some good material here. Particularly if she's really dead as the show seemed to indicate. It's hard to be certain; from what we saw it appears that Andre slowed her heart to a stop, trapping her spirit in her happiest memory. At least I think that's what happened, it leaned kind of heavily into visual metaphor, so it's hard to say.

That's not a flaw, buy the way. I'll take 'atmospheric, moving, and vaguely defined' over 'detailed and boring' any day of the week. And it was touching, if unsurprising, that her happiest memory was the birth of her niece Evita. The record seemed to be leading up to Chantelle giving her sister some bad news that she only specifies with 'No, not Evita...' I think we were finally just told why Evita was raised by her aunt. Goodbye Auntie Chantelle. We'll probably never get to learn where you got that 3-D printer now.

In other reveals, Tandy has finally arrived at the Viking Motel, final destination for the kidnapped girls. After weeks of speculation as to what could be going on there, it turns out to be the saddest and least surprising explanation. The girls are there to clean during the day and then get pimped out at night. Although the show is incredibly discreet and tasteful about how explicitly it states that second part. I think in this specific circumstances, that was the right call. There's certainly an argument to be made that if you're going to depict sex slavery that you have an obligation to make it as confrontationally blunt as possible in order to get across how horrific the issue really is. In this case, however, I think the decision to leave the johns as almost entirely faceless and the details of what was happening only implied was the right one because it allowed the focus to remain on the girls as the real victims of the situation. As I said, opinions may legitimately vary on that point.

One thing that didn't entirely gel this week was the way they were using the metaphor of 'losing all your hope' as the real chains that kept the girls in the motel and in slavery. I get what they were going for with that, but it gets muddy when they're also using hope as a real and tangible 'thing' that powers Tandy's light knives. And so the 'imprisoned by the absence of hope' metaphor works in the case of Del; that's absolutely what keeps her from being able to walk out the open door when it's offered to her. But that's absolutely not the case for Tandy. She's not held back by despair, she's held back by a big security guard who physically carries her back inside. They're playing the 'absence of hope' thing metaphorically in one case and literally in another, largely because that allows them to cancel Tandy's powers for a bit, and the two never really dovetail with one another. It's a minor point, but it bugged me a little bit. Not so much that I didn't grin like an idiot when the act of inspiring hope in Del caused Tandy to regrow her own hope, all of which was conveyed to the viewer by the simple device of shining a light on Olivia Holt from below at a key moment.

Meanwhile, Ty gets briefly sidetracked by a run in with Andre and appears to be going the route of despair, but is saved by Mayhem, still trapped in the dark dimension, simply changing the record being played in Andre's store. More, she saves him by using the 'Tandy's perfect life' record that we saw being played last week, which was just a really wonderful tie back to prop detail as metaphor, which is something this show really excels at.

OK, let's talk Adina Johnson and her hostage, Connors.

Everything about this series of scenes was brilliant. Well written, well acted, just note-perfect drama. From the way the dynamic is established with Adina setting the starting point for their discussion through to its resolution, this was raw and real and you could really just excise these scenes from the rest of the series entirely and do them as a one act play, because any outside info you need to understand what's happening is given to you quite naturally in the dialogue. Actually, could someone please do that?

Adina sets up an interesting dilemma for herself. She needs to determine if Ty's need to have Connors alive so that he can clear his name outweighs her need for him to pay for Billy's death. That is one hell of an ethical riddle, and addressing it through the preparation of food was a great conceit. When the meal is ready and Adina goes to the cupboard, it's absolutely crystal clear what we're waiting to be told and how we're going to be told it. If she takes out two plates, Connors lives. If she takes out one, Connors dies. It could not read clearer that that's the situation and it's never even hinted at in the dialogue. I'm not sure how much of that is good writing and how much of it is good directing, but it's amazing. I was on the edge of my seat over dinnerware.

Note the large gentleman in the middle.  His name is 'metaphorical absence of hope'.
Bits and Pieces:

-- I'm worried about how Evita is going to react to the events of this episode. Now I think of it, Evita has always been kind of a wild card.

-- It's a little odd how the records being played in Andre's dimension affect reality. For example, it was a great visual and really told the story well, but how exactly did playing 'Tandy's Perfect Life' pull a dozen child ballerinas into existence? Or the ambulances that get summoned later?

-- When Ty and Andre clasped hands, Andre read Ty, not a hint of the other way around. Is Andre stronger than Ty? Has he just had more practice? Is it because Ty's powers are so linked with Tandy's and she wasn't there? I'm curious.

-- I adore how little care Mayhem took in putting the records back after she played them.

-- Was Ty's collapse at the end because Mayhem trashed the record store? His dark dimension seemed to be bleeding out of him, and it was intercut with Mayhem trashing the place, so it feels like those are connected. Time will tell.

-- For a metaphorical despair catalog, the record store had a surprising amount of object permanence. Changes Mayhem made to it were still there when Andre came back, so it isn't just a visualization of a metaphor.

-- I didn't expect them to take down the trafficking ring this quickly. They must need to clear that plot out of the way to get to Andre's ascension. Only three episodes left.

-- Connors knows where the real Billy's body has been all this time. That makes them claiming to need 'extra evidence' a couple episodes back even more ridiculous. The actual body, with DNA matching Adina and Otis would probably have been pretty persuasive.

-- They're really building up Connors' off screen Uncle as a threat. I wonder if he's been cast yet. Will he be the villain in season three? Because we're going to get a season three... right?

-- It's a minor point, but Lea knows Tandy's mom. Melissa Bowen has been going to that same group. How is she not remotely worried about her?

-- The opening image of the missing girls flyer falling down and being taken away in a garbage truck was not subtle imagery.



Quotes:

Adina: "I’m in kind of a bind here. Stuck between two forces."
Connors: "Good and Evil?"
Adina: "Billy and Tyrone."

Del: "My dad was a hammer. My mom was a nail."

Connors: "I get a call from a resident, says that she saw a young man in a hoodie skulking about."
Adina: "A young man, or a young black man?"
Connors: "She used a different word."

Andre: "What does my symbol mean?"
Chantelle: "I’m not so sure I’m keen on telling you that right now."

Chantelle: "If you can’t be merciful when you play god, what kind of god will you be when you ain’t playin’ no more?"


Another great episode, marred only slightly by a couple of small thematic metaphor things that felt a little bit unreconciled to me. Not nearly enough so to spoil the story, however.

Three and a half out of four place settings.

The 'next time' preview seemed to indicate that I was inadvertently right about something last week. That's always a nice feeling.

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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