Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger (Freeform, Thursdays, 8/7C) is another YA-targeting series that plays well to kids of all ages, but especially to those who like to really get to know a show’s characters.
Set in New Orleans, Cloak & Dagger are two teens who have very different lives – Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt, Kickin’ It, I didn’t Do It) is a street smart grifter/thief who lives in an abandoned church and trusts no one except her partner in crime, Liam (Carl Lundstedt); Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph, The Night Of) is a middle class black kid attending a toney private school where he does well academically and starts on the school basketball team.
Where Tandy occasionally has to deal with her addict mom, Melissa (Andrea Roth, 13 Reasons Why, Rescue Me), Tyrone has loving, concerned parents – Adina (Gloria Reubens, Mr. Robot, Blindspot) and Michael (Miles Mussenden, Queen Sugar) – but flashbacks show that Young Tandy once had a loving father.
Created by Joe Pokaski (Daredevil, Underground), Cloak & Dagger takes its time to set up the characters – though the pace is deliberate, we learn a lot about Tandy and Tyrone before they even meet each other.
Both are whip smart and very good at what they do; both have a tendency towards being alone (for very different reasons) – but they seem to have nothing in common.
Their link, it turns out, goes back to a car accident that killed Tandy’s dad and almost killed her – and when Tyrone witnessed his brother’s murder by a corrupt cop.
When they finally meet, it’s clear that neither wants anything to do with the other – Tandy fakes being a student to meet Tyrone and lifts his wallet. And then, things get interesting.
Before long, they are seeing each other in something approaching visions – and flashbacks show them as kids, on a beach…
The first four episodes of Cloak & Dagger were made available for critics and while they aren’t exactly action-packed, they set a tone for the series that slowly builds into a recognition that the two teens may be part of a prophecy regarding a divine duo who save New Orleans from some yet to be known menace.
Certain aspects of New Orleans figure prominently in the story – more than once, the two meet in a graveyard (where the city’s high water table means that people are interred in mausoleums/crypts rather than buried) – and preparations for Mardi Gras inspire Tyrone to make a costume.
The show’s pace also reflects life in a hot, humid city: deliberate verging on languid except for each strategically placed burst of action, or a hint of each’s powers (Tandy creates daggers of pure light; Tyrone fades into the shadows and teleports – but neither’s powers are particularly reliable).
Though we still haven’t seen Tandy and Tyrone in costume by the end of the first four episodes, the slow build of the relationship/not a relationship between the two holds our interest because it feels more genuine than maybe we were expecting.
Part of that is the twin narratives that follow each through their lives – and flashback to their younger selves. It’s like there are three interwoven narratives that intertwine more and more as the series progresses.
By the time Tandy and Tyrone figure out their powers, they will be well grounded and rounded out as characters. In the meantime, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger is one of the most intriguing and addicting comic book adaptations to date.
Final Grade: A-