Cloak & Dagger – Season 1 Overall Review

Cloak & Dagger S1

Cloak & Dagger feels much more in line with the Netflix side of the MCU than any other, and I don’t just mean the few name drops in the show itself! It’s down to Earth and on street level, not afraid to show violence but also very much a super hero show. Let’s take a closer look at what was a pleasant surprise to watch…

Synopsis:

In New Orleans, teenagers Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson come from different backgrounds but they’ve both acquired superpowers after a life-changing event that revolved around the collapse of the Roxxon Gulf Platform. Several years later they meet again, and soon realise that fate is forcing them together…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

OLIVIA HOLT, AUBREY JOSEPH

Their first meeting! … since they were kids.

Tandy Bowen / Dagger (Olivia Holt) – Tandy was growing up happy with her loving, though often busy, parents… then the Roxxon platform exploded and killed her Dad and soon sent her mother into a downward spiral… Still, at least now she’s older she’s learnt how to steal from rich people! Hooray!

Tyrone Johnson / Cloak (Aubrey Joseph) – When Tyrone was younger he saw his brother Billy get gunned down for no good reason by officer Connors just as the Roxxon rig exploded. A few years later and his family are still together, but there is still a thin line of guilt and depression about them all, not least due to the fact that Connors got away with it…

Brigid O’Reilly (Emma Lahana) – Brigid was a tough Harlem cop who has just moved to New Orleans. The culture shock was one thing, but the shock of how local police offers operate is something else…

Connors (J. D. Evermore) – Connors is a high ranking police officer who specialised in undercover work. He has committed many crimes, including shooting Billy Johnson several years ago. Does he care? Not really…

Peter Scarborough (Wayne Péré) – The CEO of Roxxon Gulf who wishes for his name and company to be in the same sentence as the Starks and Rands of the world… at literally any cost.

Mina Hess (Ally Maki) – Mina’s father Ivan was the only survivor of the Roxxon Gulf rig explosion, but his mind is lost. This hasn’t stopped Mina from continuing to work for the company in the hopes of improving their safety record… and helping the environment, obviously.

Ivan Hess (Tim Kang) – The only survivor of the Roxxon Gulf platform explosion, who is now trapped repeating those last moments over and over while in some sort of coma…

Adina and Otis Johnson (Gloria Reuben and Miles Musseden) – Tyrone’s parents. They both continue on with their high-paid careers, but both still carry guilt and anger over the death of their son Billy. Their only hope is to make sure Tyrone grows up well…

Melissa Bowen (Andrea Roth) – Tandy’s mother, who knows her husband wasn’t responsible for the Roxxon Platform explosion like the company and the press have claimed, and has fallen into a drug-fueled quest to clear his name and return to the rich life-style she once knew…

Plus more!

The Good:

OLIVIA HOLT, AUBREY JOSEPH

“Yeah, I’m just hanging out in this nightmare rig… it’s cool”

When your series is named after a duo, you’d better hope the central pair play off each other well, and thankfully that’s the case here. Both Cloak and Dagger (not that they’ve ever called that, obviously) are both well fleshed out in the opening episodes, both having different kinds of tragic upbringings due to the same Roxxon rig explosion from when they were kids, but they soon get to know each other, and despite resisting it to start, you believe their friendship by the end of Season 1. Although there are a few hiccups (see The Bad section below!) I mostly connected with our lead duo, and was interested in them enough to look forward to each episode as it aired… or as they were uploaded, I guess?

Their powers are well realised as well. I’m only really familiar with them thanks to the Civil War crossover comics, I never read any of their solo stuff, but Tandy’s glowing white daggers and Tyrone’s dark energy teleporting are a fun combination. The fact both can see other people’s hopes and fears (respectively) also adds an ironic twist to the girl who has lost all hope and the boy who feels like there is always hope in the face of fear. The New Orleans setting is unique as well, I don’t think I could take another show filled with New York panning shots…

Two more very effective characters were friendly but tough policewoman Brigid and heartless and corrupt policeman Connors. The former is a bit of a generic stereotype to start with, but when she forms a loving relationship with fellow non-corrupt officer Fuchs and soon a big sister relationship with Tyrone she becomes more interesting and well rounded. Connors on the other hand is just perfectly… horrible. You do get the sense that he regrets shooting Tyrone’s brother years ago, but the fact he covered it up and had no qualms with continuing his work (which includes selling drugs on the side) and even eventually killing Fuchs to get to Brigid, you know he’s not a redeemable villain. He even tries to kill not just the female officer causing him trouble, but Tyrone as well, who he framed for Fuchs murder as an aside. It was very pleasing to see Tyrone, although accidentally, suck him into the dark dimension or whatever fuels his powers.

As for Tandy’s side of the plot, while it wasn’t as interesting, seeing her try and clear her father’s name was a good little story, the rocky relationship with her mother was well played and a few scenes with a female assassin hired by Roxxon were good as well. The Roxxon CEO was your classic power hungry businessman, his greatest hope viewed by Tandy was bodies washing up and him taking money from them, so… he’s also not a nice man. Overall, while it wasn’t as interesting as the Tyrone-Connors-Brigid storyline, it was fine.

Episode 7, “Lotus Eaters”, was a particular highlight. Tyrone and Tandy join their forces to go into the mind of Ivan Hess, the only survivor of the Roxxon explosion  whose mind is stuck in a repeating loop of reliving the last few minutes on the rig. Before they can change anything and escape Tandy realises that a ghostly… mental… thing version of her father constantly rings up, and so she gets stuck in the same loop so she can talk to her dad again. Of course, she learns to let go, and Ivan is saved. Ivan’s daughter Mina is… okay. She’s straight forward nice, to a sometimes obnoxious level, but plays a pretty harmless role.

The finale, where whatever Roxxon was digging starts leaking out all over New Orleans and turning people into raging monsters, was good. It not only ties up both plots, but in the end Tyrone and Tandy both join forces to save the city and expel and strange force. It also sees Brigid get shot by Connors just as she gets a face full of a rage juice, and post-credits she raises out of the lake with glowing yellow eyes… It turns out Brigid O’Reilly is actually a comics character from the Cloak and Dagger series, eventually gaining super powers after seemingly being killed by a corrupt cop, so those who followed the original comics should have seen this coming!

I also liked how it was verbally more connected to the overall MCU than a lot of TV properties. Brigid moving to New Orleans was mentioned in Luke Cage Season 2, and in turn Brigid tells Fuchs about her friend Misty Knight back in Harlem. Scarborough, the Roxxon CEO, talked about his quest for power being so can stand against the Starks and Rands of the world, so it was nice to see it all get tied up. Hell, Tony Stark rarely gets mentioned in the Netflix shows, so hearing Stark and Rand mentioned at once does more to tie in that side of the MCU with the greater universe than a lot of those shows do…

The Bad:

OLIVIA HOLT, AUBREY JOSEPH

“I bet you’re planning on putting my boyfriend’s corpse in a fridge, aren’t you? You silly man!”

The thing that sticks out most in my mind is Episode 9. Jesus this was depressing! Tandy loses all hope again, and now finds out she has the ability to rob people of their hope, so goes around making people “like her”, including robbing ultra-nice Mina of her harmless dreams and saying “now you know what it’s like!”. I may have found Mina sometimes too nice, but that was just extremely cold and childlike and REALLY made me hate one of our lead protagonists. In the same episode Tyrone goes through a similar change in personality, including lashing out at his local priest, so… yeah. It was a pretty relentlessly downbeat episode, and I think the writers knew it, as they had the story framed with said school priest doing a lecture on heroes going through a fall so they can rise stronger, almost as if they were telling the audience to fight their instincts to hate our lead characters because it’s just a redemptive hero arc. Bizarre.

Some of the early episodes were quite slow (another way it matches the Netflix shows!) which was annoying as it was released weekly on Amazon Prime rather than the “all at once” method. I will at least give it credit for not focusing too much of high school drama, because boy is that genre ever played out…

The two voodoo / tarot card using mum and daughter pair were … I don’t know, boring, I guess? I kind of liked when they talked about a pair of people always showing up when New Orleans is in crisis, but otherwise… not the most interesting part of the show, though to be fair they weren’t in it all that much!

Overall Thoughts:

OLIVIA HOLT, AUBREY JOSEPH

Awww, the phase of a relationship where you touch super-powers, so sweet…

Cloak & Dagger’s first season feels like a new Netflix MCU show, with a younger lead cast and not set in New York for a change… in other words it was really good! Well developed lead cast, a detestable villain, and a good finale, it’s just a shame about Episode 9… Anyway, more than worth a watch, and a great addition to the MCU.

4 Star Watch

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