Sep 17, 2018

[TV] Marvel's Cloak and Dagger: Season 1 Review

Starting with the tailend of the Netflix original Marvel TV shows, the quality of Marvel's television efforts have been a mixed bag - particularly those shows tagged as being officially aligned with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And so I've been pretty careful in exploring these efforts and got lucky with shows like Legion (which is non-MCU) and barely got through Runaways.

Marvel's Cloak & Dagger is one of their latest television ventures, albeit one that aired Disney-ABC's Freeform streaming service. Upon the show's announcement I was pretty surprised that they decided to explore these characters in particular as they always felt to be rather niche to me. But I guess it reflected the age bracket they wanted to follow.

Admittedly we struggled with the pilot of the show and ignored it for a while after getting turned off by that first episode. But a lot of friends recommended the show and so we gave it another go by the time the season had concluded and the season ended better than I had anticipated.

Synopsis: Marvel's Cloak and Dagger is an American superhero drama television series created by Joe Pokaski. The show is based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name and has already been renewed for a second season.

Set in New Orleans, the show revolves around two characters with very different backgrounds. Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) has been living on the street and has resorted to con jobs and petty thievery to survive. In contrast there's Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph), who has generally been living a good life. But what ties the two together is a shared childhood tragedy tied to the destruction of the nearby Roxxon Gulf Platform many years ago.

When the two encounter one another once more something awakens in each of them, which initially scares them from exploring it further. But over time Tyrone finds himself teleported to seemingly random locations while Tandy somehow creates a dagger made out of light. Their powers continue to grow over the course of the series which include Tyrone being able gain insights into people's fears by touching them while Tandy can see their hopes and desires in the same manner.

What I Liked: The show has some good writing woven into things and the concepts that they end up exploring when it comes to what makes people who they are and how people deal with the challenges in their lives can get pretty deep. And I totally respect that aspect to things, especially given the many sensitive emotional subjects that the end up tackling. And of course there's the strong juxtaposition of their two different lives which oddly reflect light and dark in their own way.

"Lotus Eaters" is obviously one of the best episodes in the series as Tyrone and Tandy enter someone's mind and end up reliving the last moments before he went into a coma. The way this was structured was a lot of fun and yet still pretty fascinating. The show takes a while but it does manage to set the characters up for some greater adventures in the future.

What Could Have Been Better: Similar to Runaways, the entire first season is actually an origin story, which is a bit of a pain since when you get into these shows you want to see them kick butt as their superhero selves. And that really made the first few episodes quite the trudge to get through as it's hard to get invested in their lives to start.

The sort of antagonist plot points in the season were a little off and didn't quite feel all that fulfilling by the end of things. At least our heroes got to tap into their greater selves but man it was a weird thing to rally against. And the whole sub-plot of Tyrone picking out a cloak just felt wrong and ties to the odd depiction of the Cloak and Dagger powers to begin with. I know it's a TV budget but Tyrone's initial teleportations are pretty much without effects and Tandy's daggers looked really cheap when they'd hold them as props. But such is the way of these things.

TL;DR: Marvel's Cloak and Dagger had a slow, rough start to things but it got there in the end. I wish the "origin story" hadn't taken the whole season but at least we get to something closer to the comic book status quo by the end. And thus the season gets a good 4 cheesy light daggers out of a possible 5.

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