Photo: Alfonso Bresciani / Freeform
Superheroes are infiltrating our screens, both big and small, and the newest duo to hit TV is Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, which made its debut on Freeform on June 7.
The show opens with an introduction of the two heroes as children—Tandy, a.k.a Dagger (Olivia Holt), is a white girl enjoying ballet class and Tyrone, a.k.a Cloak (Aubrey Joseph), is a black boy stealing a car radio in a dark alleyway.
Race is a major theme right off the bat, as we see Tyrone’s older brother shot and killed by white cops in an incident gone terribly wrong. The cops cover it up, getting away with murder and leaving a family without a brother and son, who did not commit a crime and was just trying to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, we quickly learn that Tandy is from a dysfunctional home, with a pill-popping mother and corrupt father, who dies in a car crash while she is sitting in the back seat.
As fate would have it, the two soon-to-be superheroes both end up in the same place at the same time on that night of tragic loss. Tyrone jumps in the ocean in an attempt to rescue his brother after he gets shot and falls in. Tandy is trapped underwater in the back seat of her dad’s car after the car crashes and plunges off a bridge. Something supernatural and mystical happens underwater, with bright lights and confusion. Tandy would have drowned in that back seat, but Tyrone appears, and she grabs his hand. The details are cloudy but they both live and they are forever connected, although they don’t know it yet.
Flash forward to present day: They’re both teenagers, about to serendipitously meet again for the first time since the accident.
Tyrone is a good kid, still struggling with the loss of his brother. He attends a prestigious Catholic school, puts all his energy into playing basketball, and gets bullied by white guys on the team.
Tandy is a wild child, living on a rooftop away from her drug-addled mother. Tandy likes to party, and she goes home with a guy she meets at a club. He tries to hook up with her after she clearly says no. It looks like something bad is about to happen, but wait, Tandy roofies HIM. It turns out that Tandy has a “side gig,” hustling rich kids by dropping roofies in their drinks and robbing them blind. Is she one of the good guys or one of the bad guys?
Let’s skip to the part where our two main characters meet at some kind of high school party in the woods. Tandy tries to con Tyrone, flirting with him only to distract him while she snatches his wallet. He soon realizes and chases her through the forest and into a cemetery. Their hands touch, activating their powers. Glowing light comes out and they both get thrown. What is happening? What does it all mean? It’s all very Harry Potter vs. Voldemort in the cemetery scene.
Now everything’s gone haywire. Tyrone starts teleporting in his sleep under a cloak. He coincidently finds the cop that killed his brother and starts stalking him. Luckily, he is able to disappear under his cloak when he’s in danger (again, very Harry Potter). Tandy suddenly has a glowing dagger that appears and vanishes when she really needs to stab people—like when the guy that she roofied tracks her down and tries to rape her in an alley. Cloak and Dagger are superheroes now. But the question is, who will use their powers for good and who will use them for evil?
There’s a lot of very relevant and important issues that permeate the first episode—racism, police brutality, drug addiction, bullying, and dysfunctional families, to name a few. The villains are real life characters, like corrupt cops, high school bullies, and entitled men. I’m picking up on Riverdale vibes with the whole comic book meets high school angst thing Cloak & Dagger has going on. I also get major 13 Reasons Why vibes with the way the main characters are all about seeking justice, for better or for worse.
Cloak & Dagger has potential, but the foundation of the story gets lost while the show is trying a little too hard to be edgy and relevant. The connection between the backstories and the superpowers is lacking. Where did this cloak come from and what does it actually do? Why is there a dagger shooting out of her hand? Why did he get the cloak and she get the dagger? What does any of this have to do with them meeting underwater in the ocean?
I’m guessing all of this will be revealed as the season continues, but it seems like the supernatural elements are more of an afterthought when they should be build on a more solid foundation, since that’s the whole premise of the show.