Cloak & Dagger’s first season featured a grand, but predictable, comic book-y plot, but the real draw of the show was the thoughtful characterization that came from the time the series spent focusing on Tyrone and Tandy’s lives as “regular” young people.
Despite their racial differences and disparate economic statuses, they were both struggling to find their way through a world trying to hold them back.
Fleshing out Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) and Tandy’s (Olivia Holt) humanity made their eventual turn to straight-up superheroism that much more interesting, and in the show’s second season, Cloak & Dagger’s wasting no time in getting right back into their early days of learning to work together as a team.
It really can’t be overstated how Tyrone and Tandy saving New Orleans from being destroyed by the Roxxon Corporation was the least interesting part of Cloak & Dagger’s first season. It was the kind of culmination of events that you expect from a show about teen superheroes, but the more personal, human arcs Cloak & Dagger focused on gave its leads a surprising depth.
After being framed for killing a police officer, Tyrone’s now hiding in the abandoned church where Tandy once squatted, and following a reconciliation with her mother, Tandy’s moved back home in an attempt to have something closer to a normal life. On their own, and in different ways, each of them has found a way to develop a better grasp of what their abilities are and how to use them, which is a sharp contrast to the ways in which they’re both now living in situations that keep them feeling off balance.
Though Tandy loves her mother and being able to get back into ballet, something about “normal” living makes her long for the days when she could be fully free to roam on her own and take things as she needed them. It’s not that she doesn’t understand the structured nature of society or is even fully uncomfortable with it, but she can’t help but butt up against those moments where trying to succeed by pushing limits is frowned upon by others.
In contrast, Tyrone longs for the order and reliability that holds the outside world together, because, in an ideal world, that order would result in his exoneration and let him return to his friends and family. Despite their reasons and feelings coming from different places, both teens deal with them in exactly the way any young metahumans would: They go out looking to get into some vigilante trouble. But in doing so, they both learn that emotionally lashing out with their powers under the auspices of doling out justice doesn’t always end well for people.
In the season two premiere, Tyrone ends up almost being killed while robbing a drug house to provide evidence to the police, and Tandy inadvertently makes the life of an emotionally abused woman more complicated and difficult when she tries to get involved. Initially, neither of them is open with the other about their extracurricular activities, and learning the truth hurts them both because, on some level, they understand they’re far better off as a team.
It’s the kind of realisation that any good group of superpowered friends patrolling for crime would come to eventually, but with Cloak & Dagger it feels much more like another reworking of Tyrone and Tandy’s dynamic in Marvel’s comics, which was infused with problematic racial overtones.
Rather than framing Tyrone as the embodiment of addictive darkness who relies on Tandy’s light to stave off his internal demons, Cloak & Dagger’s second season opens up with the idea that both kids are dealing with the damage that can come from pulling too inward on yourself — or losing complete control and acting out without thinking.
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But Cloak & Dagger is still a Freeform cape show, which means that it’s got to spend at least some time setting up this season’s larger villain conflict, and the first episode does it carefully with the return of detective Brigid O’Reilly (Emma Lahana), who’s suffering from the trauma of having seemingly died during the first season.
In the final moments we saw of O’Reilly last time, she was emerging from the swamp after having been exposed to both the Lightforce and Darkforce and then being shot, meaning that it’s only a matter of time before she gets ahold of her own newfound powers and becomes Mayhem.
Cloak & Dagger doesn’t seem to be too terribly concerned with rushing to get to that point in its heroes’ stories, though, and that’s probably going to end up being for the best.