Thursday, June 21, 2018

REVIEW: 'Cloak & Dagger' - Tandy and Tyrone Discuss Their Powers and Personal Tragedies in 'Call/Response'

Freeform's Cloak & Dagger - Episode 1.04 "Call/Response"

Tandy and Tyrone come face-to-face as the two are able to sit down and talk. Having not been able to tell anyone else what they have been experiencing, both take the opportunity to finally confide in the one person who may truly understand what they are going through. Otis reveals a secret side of himself. Greg seems to be onto something with Melissa's case against Roxxon.

Last week's episode of Cloak & Dagger ended on the tease that answers were about to be forthcoming in regards to what has been going on with Tandy and Tyrone lately. They met at the church in order to actually talk with one another. Their stories have been intersecting at crucial moments in their lives. And yet, they haven't had any willingness or desire to actually spend time together. They have been on their own personal journeys with their newfound powers. They understand that they are connected. They can no longer deny that. These powers activated when they first touched in the cemetery. That made them realize they were on the beach together the day that their loved ones were killed. And then, they were on these journeys through the universe exploring each other's hopes and fears last week. Tandy understands Tyrone's story and how to possibly help him and vice versa. There was the desire to actually reach out and communicate openly with one another. But it's also not surprising that they still want to go about their daily, normal lives far removed from the other. Right now, Tandy and Tyrone just see the other as the only person they can truly talk with about what has been happening with them. They can't share the truth about their powers that they don't understand with anyone out of fear that they will be perceived as crazy. They enjoy their freedom. But they feel trapped by these new mysterious powers. They didn't ask for them. Plus, they are confusing too. Tandy and Tyrone don't know what triggers them. Nor do they understand why these powers seem to be both attracting them to each other and pulling them apart. It's all so messy and complicated. But at least together they can start piecing together the puzzle in the hopes of having more clarity as it pertains to the rest of their lives.

This meeting between Tandy and Tyrone is intercut with their lives in the following days. That's probably the smart way to tell this story in order to make all of the stories important and vital. The connection between Tandy and Tyrone is the most important thing for the show right now. There needs to be chemistry there and the sense that they are connected. They may actually be polar opposites. They are attracted to each other. But if they get too close, they will push each other away. That's dangerous. They understand that aspect of their powers. They can actually explain the various visions they have been having as well. Tyrone can see a person's greatest fears when he touches them. Tandy can see their personal hopes. These are skills that are reflected from their personalities with Tandy needing to learn how to be strong and trusting of people while Tyrone needs to be aware of just how complicated and terrifying the world can be. They have both faced these powerful losses that completely changed their lives. Tandy's father and Tyrone's brother were killed way too young. Those relationships were the most personal and important in their lives. If they were still alive, they would be the ones they could confide in about these new powers. Because they aren't, they have to make do with this connection that the universe is suddenly forcing onto them. Everything changed when they touched. And now, it's important to see the spark ignite as they are able to call each other out on how they truly feel about the world. It's such a mesmerizing story because it does bring them closer because they can articulate everything they are feeling. But it also tears them apart because of how deeply honest they are willing to be as well.

Tandy and Tyrone already understand each other so far because of the visions they received last week where they were told how they could help the other person. Tyrone had to teach Tandy to stop running away and face the actual consequences of her father's death. Tandy had to teach Tyrone how to get proper justice for his brother's death without also ending his own life. Now, it's up to them to decide if they are actually going to listen to this advice from this still relative stranger. Tandy still believes that she's that girl in the church who draws people to her only to end up poisoning them. She doesn't believe she can do anything good if she actually stays and faces the repercussions of her actions. When she has tried to do that in the past, it has only further highlighted just how corrupt the world can be and how oppressive it is to her in particular. Meanwhile, Tyrone may be completely blinded by his rage and his powers sending him to his brother's killer. He wants Connors to pay for what he did and was able to get away with. And yet, he also doesn't see himself as suicidal despite what the repercussions of that action will be. His powers protected him from making a costly mistake. They took him away when he wanted to kill Connors. They brought him to Tandy so that they could possibly form this connection. And now, it has only become more personal and complicated. They get a better sense of each other. But they also have contempt for each other as well because of the lives and the privilege that they have. It's such a fascinating conversation that the show starts here that is actually quite compelling to see play out through the stakes of this story.

Both Tandy and Tyrone see the other as having the better life. Tyrone is this wealthy kid with a good house, two parents who love and support him, and opportunities to do anything he would like to do with his life. And yet, Tyrone is still a black man in a country that always wishes to see him as a thug who is up to no good. Even his father believes that he is falling down a bad path just like Billy did when the bolt cutters go missing from the tool shed. Tyrone simply can't just walk into a room and go unnoticed. Everyone is constantly judging him for his appearance and the belief that all men who look like him are criminals. Even when he shows up at the police station wearing his school uniform, he is still met with contempt. Meanwhile, Tandy is a white girl whom the world at large treats with respect which allows her to manipulate that trust. She is a smart girl who knows how to exist in the real world. She has been living on the streets making her own way. That takes so much control and understanding of what needs to happen in order to survive. And yet, Tandy's life isn't great either. She is still treated as an inferior woman in a patriarchal society. The man who intended to rape her is just free to go and there is nothing the police can do. She was a victim of a horrible crime. She's still traumatized by it too. That's one of the few secrets she is willing to keep because she doesn't want to see herself that way. It makes her furious that this is the world that she lives in where people just have such contempt for her. And yet, this story overall points out that they both come from marginalized communities who are frequently having to work hard just to get equality in the world. It's an important story to tell while also highlighting the immaturity of the characters in their beliefs that their trauma and oppression is somehow more valid than the other person's.

All of this then extends into a conversation about suicide. Those are the thoughts that Tandy has been having ever since her father died. She couldn't share them with anyone because her mother was never well enough to actually listen. As such, she grew up just struggling to survive and believing that everyone gets hurt if they ever get close to her. That continues here with Greg being killed as soon as he shares some of his evidence in the Roxxon case with Tandy. She blames herself. Tyrone is understandably mad at her for even entertaining these thoughts. He wants her to know that there is still so much worth living for. Killing herself would only hurt those who love her even more. And yet, she doesn't want to hear it. She knows that Tyrone is just as suicidal even though he refuses to say it. She watched him die countless times in his pursuit to get revenge on Connors. She knows just how personal all of this is for him and how far he is willing to go to succeed. He doesn't care about the consequences. He just wants the truth exposed about what happened to his brother. He may be going about it the right way. And yet, he struggles to actually take Tandy's advice. He feels like he only gets into more trouble when he starts lying and trying to deceive the world into telling him the information he needs to hear. Instead, he's just willing to walk into the police station and confront Connors in an environment where he probably won't hurt him. Meanwhile, Tandy actually does try to kill herself. It's such a stark and surprising moment. It shows just how depressed she is. She is struggling and needs help from someone who can actually reach out and understand what she's going through. She thought she had that connection with Tyrone until he got very upset regarding these suicidal thoughts. And so, she weighs herself down and jumps into the ocean. It's only her powers activating that save her. They give her another chance at life knowing that she shouldn't die now. These powers are very much aware of the personal drama that Tandy and Tyrone are going through. As such, it makes them powerful allies and tools to use even though Tandy and Tyrone still don't have a strong understanding of what happened to them or how they can control these powers.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Call/Response" was written by Christine Boylan & Marcus J. Guillory and directed by Ami Canaan Mann.
  • Otis introduces Tyrone to his family's culture. It's an important piece of his history. And yet, he is also choosing to keep it a secret from his wife. As such, it's been awhile since he has returned to his family. That means things are very tense when Otis and Tyrone show up and the party immediately stops. But they are eventually welcomed back into this world where they are allowed to grow by feeling a stronger connection to a community that understands the world the same way they do.
  • Of course, there's also a fair bit of melodrama when it comes to Tyrone learning more about his heritage. Otis is proud to show off these outfits where an individual beads a certain pattern in order to represent their life at that moment. Tyrone wants to become a part of that celebration. But the unfinished piece of work that he just happens to pick up belonged to Billy and Tyrone has to justify continuing it as a way to honor his brother.
  • It also makes so much sense that Tyrone would be drawn to this cloak that Billy was working on when he was welcomed into this community by his father. It's basically the show revealing to the audience where the title of the show comes from with Tyrone embracing more of his heroic identity. But it's also fitting because so much of Tyrone's story is defined by his brother. Everything he does is to honor that connection.
  • This episode also confirms that Greg is a genuine nice guy. He's not a sleazy lawyer trying to take advantage of Tandy's mother. He actually wants to help her with this case. Sure, he may also be attracted to damaged woman. But he doesn't wish to exploit this connection. He just wants to build a family with Melissa and Tandy. That's the vision of hope Tandy sees when she touches him.
  • However, the show needs to better establish the rules of when Tandy and Tyrone receive these visions of other people's hopes and fears. Right now, they are suggesting that they get them whenever they touch another person's skin. And yet, Tyrone actually kisses Evita and nothing happens. He gets no vision about her deepest fears. It's able to just be a sweet and innocent moment between two teenagers.