NOTE: Spoilers from throughout the second season of, “Cloak & Dagger” are present in this review
Despite its occasionally slow-paced and aimless first season, Cloak & Dagger nonetheless continued to chart interesting new territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe upon debuting on Freeform last year. Even though the show is ostensibly being aimed at teen audiences, Cloak & Dagger also hit with enough dramatic punch to make itself plenty appealing to adult MCU enthusiasts as well, particularly as established threats like Roxxon Energy Corporation and the Darkforce Dimension became central focuses after their introduction in other MCU movies and TV shows. Now that its titular heroes have had a whole ten-episode season to be established however, Cloak & Dagger aims to give them a proper villain in Season Two, albeit one that takes quite a bit of time to reveal himself.
Before Tandy and Tyrone can square off against their first legitimate super-villain quarry though, there’s plenty of messes to sort out in the wake of Season One’s events. Tyrone is now on the run as a fugitive, after being blamed for the murder of Fuchs last season (despite Tyrone obviously having no believable motive to murder a cop), while Tandy and her mother, Melissa are trying to deal with the trauma and abuse at the hands of Tandy’s father coming out, and O’Reilly is beginning to lose time after falling into the Darkforce-infected water during the Season One finale. The second season of Cloak & Dagger may move a bit further into recognizable comic book territory, particularly during the fun, unpredictable and character-rich trips that the show takes into the Darkforce Dimension at various points during Season Two, but the emphasis on very grounded human drama is still apparent throughout the show’s character conflicts, most of which are executed very well.
Even the season’s overall villain is rooted in startlingly grounded crimes and rackets, that being Andre Deschain. While it’s not made apparent right away, Andre is supposed to be the MCU’s version of recurring Cloak & Dagger comic book antagonist, D’Spayre, though his civilian identity is as a counselor at the womens’ group that Tandy and Melissa attend. Andre, along with his accomplice and fellow counselor, Lia, look for women at the group that are seemingly beyond help, and recruit them into a human trafficking operation that allows Andre to feed on their hopes, while essentially brainwashing them into thinking that they’re living a happy existence. It seems morally repugnant at first, though Andre has his reasons for doing what he’s doing, having attempted suicide on the same night that the Roxxon rig exploded so many years ago, the same night where Tandy and Tyrone got their powers, due to unrelenting, agonizing headaches. After getting his own powers however, Andre could quell the headaches by feeding on the hopes of others, even if he resolves to only feed on those who can’t be helped by normal psychiatric means.
This interpretive and morally ambiguous villain direction with Andre is awesome, as Andre quickly turns into a compelling threat that only becomes more dangerous as the season goes on. Something similar is also attempted with Mayhem, a dark alternate personality that manifests in O’Reilly after her tumble into the Darkforce-enriched water from last season, who completely hoards all of O’Reilly’s aggression and rage. Mayhem quickly proves to be a force to be reckoned with as well, slaughtering criminals by the dozen, and leaving mysterious evidence for Tandy, Tyrone and O’Reilly to puzzle at. This seems like an initially interesting hook, but the season unfortunately doesn’t go all the way with it. Mayhem ends up being benched for a disappointing amount of Cloak & Dagger’s second season, and even when she successfully merges back with O’Reilly towards the end of the season, nothing substantial seems to have changed with O’Reilly’s character. The idea seems to be allowing O’Reilly to confront the death of Fuchs, but it doesn’t really work in execution, leaving Mayhem to be a significant missed opportunity for Season Two, despite her often being the center of the season’s marketing.
Fortunately, Season Two’s dramatic arcs for Tandy and Tyrone are at least executed better, even if it seems like several of Season Two’s episodes were definitely prioritizing one of their storylines over the other. For the early stretches of the season especially, Tyrone having to live in hiding within Tandy’s old church haunt makes for a lot of compelling storytelling. This fugitive turn for Tyrone becomes all the more thrilling once Connors escapes the Darkforce Dimension as well, following a trip in there by Tandy to try and complete a spiritual journey during the season’s first half. Connors’ character takes a nicely surprising turn from here to boot, when it’s revealed that he wants to turn himself in, and provide justice for the Johnson family. Adina even hears Connors’ confession, and delivers the evidence to a now-retired Father Delgado, which eventually allows Tyrone to be cleared of charges, and return to his former life. Adina nonetheless makes a big decision here though, when she ends up murdering Connors as revenge for her other son’s death, despite Connors delivering a confession, as promised! This was a wonderfully shocking moment, and one that will hopefully carry significant consequences for Adina, if and when Cloak & Dagger gets renewed for a third season.
As for Tandy’s story arc, she didn’t initially set out with a plot foundation that’s as interesting as Tyrone’s for Cloak & Dagger’s second season, but she still got some standout storylines during the season’s better episodes. With Tyrone forced on the run, Tandy’s the one that ends up driving most of the heroism during the season’s initial stages, namely when she detects that women are going missing from her support group. It’s thus Tandy that ends up initially provoking Andre, eventually becoming one of his victims in turn, after being betrayed by Lia while trying to get information. As much as Tyrone faces his reputation being destroyed throughout the season, Tandy ultimately has to overcome her own demons in a distinct, but equally appealing way, particularly after learning the truth about her father, which allows her to complete her own journey to becoming a true hero. This in turn allows both Tandy and Tyrone to eventually overcome the illusions of D’Spayre during the season’s climax in the Darkforce Dimension, which allows them to defeat Andre for good, and free New Orleans from catatonic torment.
Tandy and Tyrone concluding Cloak & Dagger’s second season by riding off to parts unknown, eager to help those outside of New Orleans with their newly-perfected superpowers (which we now know for sure is leading into a crossover with the MCU’s other teen drama series, Runaways later this Winter!), feels like it could just as easily function as a series finale as it could a simple season finale, but I do nonetheless hope that Cloak & Dagger is eventually allowed to continue on with a third season. There are clearly several lingering story threads that remain unresolved by the end of Season Two, not to mention potential for other major villains and threats from the Cloak & Dagger comic books to eventually join the MCU, and succeed Andre/D’Spayre when it comes to menacing the show’s heroes. For now though, the second season of Cloak & Dagger successfully tightens the storytelling and improves the focus, even if the show is still a little sluggish and uneven at times. Cloak & Dagger nonetheless remains a cut above your run-of-the-mill teen drama series though, and now that they’ve come into their own as true superheroes, I’m anticipating what’s next for the MCU journey of Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson!
- Thrilling, dramatic new challenges for Tandy and Tyrone
- Complex, morally ambiguous lead villain in Andre Deschain/D'Spayre
- Thrilling, fun and surprising trips into the Darkforce Dimension
- Mayhem feels under-utilized
- Story focus can still be uneven at times