August 3, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Cloak & Dagger”


The first season of Freeform’s Marvel series CLOAK & DAGGER was from the measured pace school of serialized TV drama.  Joe Pokaski’s saga was essentially 10 hours of origin story, tracing Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) from teen outcasts to budding superheroes, with only scattered uses of their powers until tonight’s season finale.  (The series has already been renewed for Season 2.)

Pokaski was more interested in mood (the series, unlike The Originals, is actually shot in its New Orleans setting), character backstory and social-issue narrative than comic book action, as Tandy and Tyrone both had to deal with violent deaths in their past, Tandy’s dad dying as a result of a greedy energy conglomerate, and Tyrone’s brother the black shooting victim of a corrupt white cop.  Both were largely loners, often self-destructive, who had troubled relationships with their surviving family, particularly their mothers, heavy-drinking Melissa (Andrea Roth) for Tandy, and overachieving Adina (Gloria Reuben) for Tyrone.  Tandy and Tyrone were shocked when their respective and very specific powers emerged:  Tandy can create white-light shards from nothing, suitable as flashlights and cutting instruments, and can also enter into people’s most heartfelt dreams (and steal the good feelings they engender, if she wishes); Tyrone can teleport with the help of his cloak and slip into people’s fears.

The season’s final episode, written by Pokaski and directed by Wayne Yip, amped up the action.  The evil conglomerate had loosed a gas on New Orleans that was turning people into rage monsters, while murderous cop Connors (J.D. Evermore) was stalking Tyrone.  Pokaski doesn’t mind leaning into portentousness, and just as each act of the previous episode had begun with classroom scenes explaining the archetype of the Hero’s Journey, the finale was interspersed with historical sequences demonstrating that at various crucial junctures in New Orleans history, a “Divine Pairing’ had saved the town, but at the cost of one of the duo’s lives.  Luckily for Tandy and Tyrone, they were able to create a super-energy by touching hands that instantly cured the quasi-zombies without either of them dying.  Prior to that, Tyrone manifested a new power by sucking Connors into his cloak, although not before Connors apparently killed sympathetic cop Brigid O’Reilly (Emma Lahana).  (A mid-credits sequence revealed that Brigid was alive but dosed by the poison gas, and apparently poised to become Season’s 2 Big Bad.)

Cloak & Dagger‘s first season was a mixed success.  Pokaski’s willingness to delve into his characters allowed Holt and Joseph to create heroes with emotional stakes, but it also made for some slow-paced hours and a sense of repetitiousness.  The New Orleans mythology was colorful, but also threatened to push the show into trope territory.  The clever and satisfying “Lotus Eaters” episode, basically Groundhog Day as a superhero story, exposed how much less fun the series was in general.

Based on the season’s epilogue, Season 2 may be more of a conventional comic book story, and reduced self-seriousness may be a help.  The ratings for Season 1 weren’t particularly strong, at least in linear measurements, but considering the Freeform/Disney/Marvel nexus, and the generally good reviews, Cloak & Dagger will likely be given the benefit of any doubt as it attempts to build a following.  The series was more an admirable try than a full-on success in its first installment, but it’s built a solid foundation that could pay off in the future.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."