Thursday, July 26, 2018

REVIEW: 'Cloak & Dagger' - Tandy and Tyrone Regress as Heroes After Their Recent Actions in 'Back Breaker'

Freeform's Cloak & Dagger - Episode 1.09 "Back Breaker"

When triumph turns sour, both Tandy and Tyrone regress back to their old ways. But after everything that has happened, and actions that have been set into motion, can they truly go back to the way things once were? Detective O'Reilly tries to deal with the recent fallout.

There is just way too much talk about regression throughout "Back Breaker." There is an entire story where Delgado is simply outlining the hero's journey to a class of high school students. Of course, that's the exact discussion and lesson they would be having in that particular subject in that particular time in their lives. But it's also a blatant excuse on the show's part to explain everything that is happening with the storytelling. It's detailing how it wanted Tandy, Tyrone and O'Reilly to have these setbacks in order to examine what they become in the aftermath. For the entire season, they have been defined by their various traumas. And now, they seemingly got what they always wanted. It's in dealing with those consequences that they realize just how broken the system can be. They see that the world is cruel and unforgiving. It's much easier for them to be the targets of oppression instead of being able to enjoy their victories for a little while. All of this is very delicate character work. It's interesting and nuanced. And yet, it losses power because the show is literally explaining what it is doing. It's highlighting how this is exactly the kind of trope that has defined so many stories across centuries. When the audience is made aware of that context, it's more difficult to just connect with what is going on in Tandy and Tyrone's lives. Instead, it becomes a gimmick in order to make sure that everything is difficult for them heading into next week's season finale. That's lame and forced in a way that doesn't really work. It's mostly just an excuse to bring back some main characters who haven't been seen for the majority of the season. Tandy and Tyrone are regressing as heroes. So now, it's important to remember what their lives were like before they met and whether or not they have actually changed for the better since. Right now, it just feels very depressing and dark. That's fascinating character work that isn't given a whole lot of time to actually shine and tell a compelling story.

And so, Tyrone is back to talking with Delgado while Tandy bails Liam out of jail. Those two characters haven't been seen in a long time. In fact, it may be easy to forget that they were ever important in the first point. They haven't had urgency in the storytelling. With Liam, he was seen as collateral damage. He loved Tandy and she just couldn't accept that. She would rather run away by herself than have to deal with the realization that someone out there genuinely cared about her. Meanwhile, Delgado was just the mysterious priest who runs Tyrone's private school. He has proven himself to be a friend and confidante for Tyrone in the past. But it was also clear that he was haunted by something and that he wasn't your typical priest. Those moments of intrigue were short-lived because he quickly disappeared from the narrative. There was no reason for Liam or Delgado to continue being seen in the lives of Tandy and Tyrone. Liam was in jail after getting arrested while Delgado was presumably teaching. Both of them have importance and value to Tandy and Tyrone. But those connections are at risk of being lost because it's been awhile since they were valid. In the meantime, Tandy and Tyrone have formed different connections that have allowed them to make a whole lot of progress on their respective journeys. Mina and Ivan Hess were able to point Tandy to answers about her father in the hopes of exonerating his good name. And O'Reilly was able to finally get a confession out of Connors for killing Billy. Those victories were powerful. But now, Tandy and Tyrone find themselves with triumphs that don't feel all that celebratory. That's striking for both of them because it's not what they were expecting at all.

Tandy wanted to believe that her father was a good man. She always saw him as such. She knew that he was trying his best to warn his bosses about the explosion that was bound to happen on the rig. Because they didn't listen to him, the rig exploded and it led to the deaths of so many people. Then, she learned that he was obsessed with his work to the point that he was very abusive to her mother. That was so traumatic for her to witness. It now sends her spinning. She is trying to recapture the spark she had with Liam by imagining their wedding. And yet, she's even more cynical than usual. She's more destructive as well. She has learned that not only can she see people's hopes but she can actually steal them too. She uses that to her advantage in order to attack the targets in her latest cons. But it's also just a way for her to feel things in her life again. She has endured so much pain that she just wants to live in the beauty of these hopes even though she is also using them as a weapon. She is invading people's most personal thoughts and stealing them. She is fundamentally altering them as people. Mina and Liam don't deserve that. Mina just wants to be outside enjoying nature. Because Tandy steals that hope, she is more than comfortable just destroying the environment around her. That's so destructive and proves that Tandy doesn't appreciate all that the Hess family did for her. They fought to prove her father's innocence. And now, she is given a way up in life again and she doesn't want to take it. She is hurting and wants to make sure that everyone around her is hurting as well. Tyrone sees that and calls her out on it. But she can just track him down and scream at him for not living in the real world. He is still living in his fantasy where he hopes everything will work out when she already believes to know better. She just doesn't care that she is contributing to the pain and suffering of the world.

Meanwhile, Tyrone is so surprised by his parents' reaction to the news that he got a confession out of the police officer who shot and killed Billy. It's the objective he has been working towards for so long. He took down Connors in a way that also ensured his own safety. But Adina and Otis can't be happy in that moment. To them, it's confirmation that there is this elaborate cover-up regarding Billy's death that Tyrone has just wandered into. They always feared that this was inevitable. And now, it is finally playing out in their lives. They see it as the one thing that could take Tyrone away from them as well. They are afraid that the police will just want to kill another black men knowing that they will be able to get away with it. And yes, it is so absolutely haunting and disappointing to watch Connors crash the memorial at the bar for Officer Fuchs. That proves that he still has a ton of influence on the force. He has only suffered a suspension at the moment. The department still has to conduct a full investigation into his actions. The tape was powerful evidence. But it also can't be trusted in a court of law because it was coerced. Tyrone and O'Reilly were manipulating Connors in the hopes of getting him to confess. He is still guilty of killing Billy. But there are still so many ways that he could escape from all of this without having to deal with any repercussions whatsoever. That's so incredibly daunting. He seems to have the entire police force working to clear his name too. It seems like he is able to orchestrate the framing of Tyrone for Fuchs' murder. As such, that forces Tyrone on the run. His family will still support him. He will be able to get away thanks to his powers. But he is now a fugitive running from justice just because he wanted to take down the man responsible for killing his brother. That's a grim reality for him and shows what an uphill battle it is to ever find justice in this world.

And finally, O'Reilly is reeling after Fuchs' death. Now, their romance was never all that important. Fuchs was never a vital character on the show. The two of them had sex a couple of times in addition to some nice and playful banter another couple of times. But that was about it for their relationship. It's something the show just asks the audience to invest in without really caring about them at all. This was an important relationship because O'Reilly was actually dating someone. And now, that guy turns up dead because O'Reilly made this attack on Connors. She came up just short and learned just how powerful his influence was in the department. That's not even the extent of the despair and bullying either. Connors is let go and has the complete freedom to just beat O'Reilly up for coming after him in such a way. He does so in a bar that is full of fellow officers and detectives. None of them stand up in support of O'Reilly. They don't know the specifics of what happened between the two of them. But they also just assume that it's some grand misunderstanding. They don't believe that Connors is responsible for killing the man they are all now mourning. Everyone can talk about how good and beloved Fuchs was as an officer. And yet, no one seems all that interested in getting to the truth of his murder. They would rather just accept the narrative that Tyrone is responsible even though there's no evidence linking him to the crime. It's just Connors once again planting evidence to get what he wants. That's ominous and proves him to be a massive villain for the season. And yet, there's also a curious line from Delgado's big regression lessons that possibly hints that O'Reilly will be compromising her values shortly in order to get her own sense of justice. That's intriguing. It's something the show should follow up on shortly while also making it believable for the current story arc.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Back Breaker" was written by Niceole R. Levy & Peter Calloway and directed by Jeff Woolnough.
  • Evita's aunt can sense that something major is about to happen in the city. Something that has the potential to destroy everything. As such, she tasks Evita with checking up on Tyrone to see if he has gotten closer to fulfilling his destiny. That does allow Evita to meet Tandy with the understanding that she's the other person in this divine pairing. And yet, she still doesn't know what any of this means or the powers they have.
  • And yet, Evita seems to have her own gifts as well. Tandy wishes to attack her by using the same tactics she has been using lately. She will steal Evita's hopes from her in order to get her to back off so that she can confront Tyrone about popping up in her head. But instead, Evita is able to push Tandy away. She is the first person to ever do that. And so, she has some awareness of this other dimension and the powers Tandy and Tyrone have. That's bound to be interesting too.
  • Of course, whatever is happening underneath the city is already starting to burst onto the surface. Mina is noticing that things are heating up again. She needs to make some quick repairs. Instead, the two workers are caught in the explosion that then turns them into dangerous individuals who attack Mina. That too is an ominous note even though it's such a minor plot point here as well.
  • Tyrone gets into a whole fight with Delgado claiming that he pretends to have all of the answers and be enlightened even though he has his fair share of demons. At first, Tyrone believes it's the foolish need to believe that God must exist. But then, he gets the clarity that Delgado is forever haunted by an accident where he killed someone because he was drinking and driving. However, it may be too little too late for this backstory to mean anything.
  • Delgado's lessons all build up to the hero needing to make a decision as to who he or she wants to be. As such, it's fitting that the episode closes with Tandy needing to make a choice. She could either be selfish and allow her mother to be killed after fighting back against Roxxon. Or she could stand up as a hero and protect her mother in order to get the answers and clarity she wants regarding her father. The latter seems much more likely in this case though.