Thursday, August 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'Cloak & Dagger' - Tandy and Tyrone Combine Their Powers to Save the City in 'Colony Collapse'

Freeform's Cloak & Dagger - Episode 1.10 "Colony Collapse"

Everything comes to a head for Tyrone and Tandy as the city of New Orleans is thrown into chaos. The two realize that it is time they face their destiny and test their powers as "The Divine Pairing" to save the city.

Tandy and Tyrone were never going to die in "Colony Collapse." That always felt like a false way to increase the drama and tension surrounding the events of this finale and the choices that the two of them would have to make. And yet, there is a significant difference between the characters fearing that one of them is going to die and the show pointing out continually that one of them has to. Characters don't always have to have the right answers. It's just important for the audience to understand the actions they take based on the information they have at that specific time. But this season has been trying to fool the audience into believing that all of this would lead to either Tandy or Tyrone dying. That was never going to happen because they are the two leads of the show. They are Cloak and Dagger even though they don't use those vigilante names just yet. The series was always designed as an ongoing story for Freeform. As such, there was no way the show was actually going to follow through on this threat. And yet, it's still easy to appreciate the sense of history and culture that the show has as well. So much talk of the Divine Pairing comes from Evita and her aunt. They understand that there are patterns in the world and especially in the creation and potential destruction of New Orleans. This finale is able to showcase all of the different pairings over the years who had to sacrifice their lives in order to save and preserve this culture. The city was founded on these values. And there have always been a pair of individuals whose fates were tied to the city. It's fascinating to see the diversity of stories in this regard as well. The pairings are sometimes siblings, friends, lovers or even strangers. Tandy and Tyrone's lives have been intertwined for a long time. They never knew the extent of their powers. They still don't really know. And yet, it is up to them to save their city and the world. Those are some high stakes especially in a season that has been very slow and deliberate with its pacing. As such, the finale may not have been able to earn every single moment of action and resolution. But it does represent solid closure while developing the story for the future.

Tandy and Tyrone's lives were both shaped by the explosion of the oil rig. Roxxon mining the substance understand the city completely changed their lives. It killed their families while also giving them powers. And now, that substance is coming to the surface once more and creating even more chaos and destruction. That was hinted at last week with Mina being one of the early targets of these new crazed individuals. Any human who comes into contact with this substance will immediately lose their minds. That allows for all of this to escalate very quickly. It's Mardi Gras and the city is filled with people. Moreover, Mina's new ventilation system has exit points all over the city. She believed she found a way to change the world after the previous generation failed. Instead, she just increased the problem while ensuring Roxxon wouldn't be able to keep it contained. That's very ominous. It allows the show to escalate the stakes very quickly. At first, there are only a few people infected and going crazy. And then, mass hysteria takes place to the point where it's going to make national news. This show has largely been cut off from the rest of the Marvel universe. There is still only vague references to Tony Stark and Danny Rand in this finale too. But it's important to highlight how this unexplainable incident can be so life-changing while also so commonplace in a world that has seen so many heroes and so many fantastical events occur. There is no immediate answer as to what creates the energy blast that saves everyone. But it's enough for there to be a more public spotlight on the city moving forward.

All of that stands in stark contrast to the kind of grounded and intimate character work the show has been doing with Tandy and Tyrone this season. These episodes have largely been about them accepting that their lives are changing. They have the powers to actually do something about the trauma in their respective pasts. This season was basically about the two of them getting justice for what happened to Nathan and Billy. The antagonists were an evil company and one corrupt police officer. Now, Peter Scarborough and Detective Connors were never all that nuanced as characters. And yet, both seem to reach some pretty clear conclusions at the end of the season. The assassin that Scarborough sends after Tandy fails in killing Melissa. Tandy doesn't even have to use her powers all that much to prevail in that conflict. Moreover, Tandy is able to get to and rescue Mina in time before she too is infected by the mysterious substance. That allows the two of them to confront Scarborough at the main office of Roxxon. Of course, that mostly just proves that Scarborough is a one-dimensional character. He craves power. When he gets some, he just wants more of it. It is never going to be enough for him until he is a god. That's his ultimate dream. He's willing to risk the destruction of the entire world in order to get it too. Mina is horrified by the work that she has done for this man. And yet, he is able to point the heroes in the direction they need to go in. All it takes is turning over the manual override in a location close to the waterfront. That's all the information that Tandy needs. After that, she has no problem just invading his personal space and locking him in the same mental prison that Ivan was in for years. As such, that leaves him incapable of doing anything after the world is saved and Roxxon takes the blame for the mass hysteria.

What happens to Scarborough is ultimately an easy conclusion because he was never made to be a big, important character. It was more important to Tandy that Roxxon was exposed instead of hurting one specific individual. That was different for Tyrone. He wanted to get justice for Billy's death by getting Connors arrested for the crime. Getting an actual taped confession ultimately proved pointless. Connors still had power and influence. He killed Fuchs and framed Tyrone for the murder. It's so devastating to Otis and Adina that their only remaining son now has to run from the law. They are willing to help him do it. They want him to survive. It's just heartbreaking for them because it's like losing a child all over again. They aren't even aware of his powers and just how easily he could appear in their lives. It's a loss they are willing to accept because of the profound consequences that come from trying to get justice. Tyrone has been so angry at the police who could allow this kind of corruption to occur. And yet, he has to work alongside them once the station becomes overwhelmed by citizens infected with the substance. He has allies who are willing to help him get back to his cloak and the activation of his powers. Of course, it's still lame that he is so reliant on that cloak in order to feel empowered to use his abilities. That continues to prove just how much his powers differ from Tandy's. And yet, that's a part of his emotional journey across this hour. He's the one who feels defeated throughout this conflict. He is overwhelmed and distraught because he doesn't have full control. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the city though. That comes right after he discovers another ability he apparently has. He wants Connors to be afraid of him. But he also seems to absorb him with his manipulation of shadows as well. That proves that there is still so much for Tyrone to learn about what he is capable of doing.

All of this means that Connors is dealt with in a pretty swift and effective way as well. Sure, Tyrone doesn't truly know what happened to him. The story quickly makes him have to go save the world alongside Tandy. And yet, that's a very rousing moment centered around action that the show has earned this season. Sure, it may have rushed into this big development happening in the finale with all of the grand pronouncements along the way. It was also inevitable that both Tandy and Tyrone would survive this conflict. But it's still empowering watching both of them make that decision to be the hero in that moment. They have questioned the good they can do in the world throughout the season. They've been changed by each other. And now, they are making the choice to stand together and use their powers in order to rid their world of this substance. Turning these valves off doesn't do anything. The substance has already leaked out too much. There is no containing it anymore. So instead, Tandy and Tyrone hold hands. That may be lame and small for the grand climatic moment of the season. And yet, it's also significant because the two of them have never been able to have physical contact like that. Their powers actively repel them. Tyrone can never just grab Tandy and teleport her to another location as well. They had to make this journey on foot across the chaos of the city. But in this moment, they stand united and strong enough to resist the forces trying to tear them apart. They are a team. They save the city. After all of that, they are still allowed to be holding hands as well. That's special while also teasing that something more could happen between them in the future too. Of course, all of this doesn't clear Tyrone's name. He is still a fugitive running from justice. He's the one now living in the abandoned church. But at least the characters will be able to look to the future and whatever comes next instead of being traumatized and struck because of the past.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Colony Collapse" was written by Joe Pokaski and directed by Wayne Yip.
  • It does seem like there is a major character death at one point though. Connors catches O'Reilly off guard and is able to shoot her multiple times. In fact, it's a moment that mirrors how Billy was shot and killed. She too plunges into the water after it has been infected with this substance. As such, it shouldn't be surprising when she too emerges and suddenly has powers. Exploring those should be a very intriguing story.
  • Of course, it seems completely random and forced when O'Reilly and Connors just show up in order to help and interfere with Tandy and Tyrone's journey. Tyrone left O'Reilly behind at the precinct to do good police work. Then, she has miraculously caught up with the divine pairing and provides assistance. But she's still caught off guard by Connors who is also just magically able to find all these characters in the chaos.
  • Adina has the clarity and understanding that her son is close and safe because he was able to come home and pack some things for his time on the run. That's comforting to her even though she is still so distraught by this entire mess. Meanwhile, Otis is remaining strong in his belief of protecting Tyrone no matter what. The Wild Red Hawks are willing to help in that regard too.
  • During the attack on the precinct, the cloak that Tyrone had designed for the parade gets torn to pieces. That's a devastating act for Tyrone because he has placed so much trust in that garment aiding his powers. And then, it's just so rewarding to him once he learns that Tandy kept his hoodie from all those years ago. She returns it to him because he needs the support and comfort from it right now in order to move forward.
  • As has been frequently said throughout the season, not all of the main characters here were all that important or necessary. Liam was mostly just a plot point to say why Tandy is still broke. Delgado really doesn't have any importance at all and is mainly just a background extra here. The parents have value in their relationships with their children but that's it. Meanwhile, Mina became very important until she was quickly sidelined in this conflict by also getting infected. It should be interested to see how many of these characters return and how they are utilized in the second season.