Cloak & Dagger 1.01–1.02 Review: “First Light” and “Suicide Sprints”

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“It Was A Dark and Stormy Night”

That well-worn phrase, funnily enough, describes the opening of Cloak & Dagger‘s pilot episode. But how that dark and stormy night intertwines the lives of two people and leads them to reunite years later is the much more interesting story Marvel tells in its new series. Although the show first seems like a cliche “wrong side of the tracks” story, it quickly evolves into a much deeper mystery that hints at conspiracy and perhaps a bit of the supernatural. Warning: The rest of this recap contains spoilers. 

From the beginning, we meet our protagonists as two consistently contrasting figures. A young white girl, Tandy Bowen, dances in a brightly lit studio while a young black boy in an oversized hoodie, Tyrone Johnson, tails his older brother who seems mixed up in trouble. A storm is brewing while both stories unravel and both children end up in a series of tragic events. 

There is an unexpected intensity to this first part of the episode that pulls the audience in, letting them know this is no watered down teen drama or Romeo and Juliet story. As you see Tandy’s father continue to swerve out of his lane or hear the cops shout after Tyrone and his brother, you can feel your heart racing.

When Tyrone’s brother is brutally murdered by a trigger-happy cop on the dock and Tyrone jumps in the water after him as Tandy’s father swerves off a bridge, you start to seriously question whether the characters do make it out alive despite the evidence of all the promo footage.

And that’s when the sci-fi kicks in. Somehow both children make it out of the water after being hit by a blast of light caused by a nearby explosion. Tandy sees an inky shadow in the water while Tyrone sees a bright white light.

While it’s not fully explained, a conversation Tandy’s father had in the car on the phone insinuates the company he worked for, Roxxon, caused the explosion and they might be covering something up.

Cloak & Dagger

Keep all of this in mind, because then the episode skips forward to the present day where both kids are now teenagers. Fortunes are reversed as Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) plays in a basketball game for a prep school while Tandy (Olivia Holt) hits up a club in order to seduce and rob rich targets with the help of her boyfriend. Of course, Tyrone doesn’t seem totally OK and has anger issues stemming from his long-term grief over his brother that causes him to get into a fight after another player roughs him up. That said, he’s not sleeping in an abandoned church snorting crushed up pills so Tandy still seems a tad worse off.

All of these things are said with few words, as the episode relies more heavily on montages of scenes cut to music with a few flashbacks than dialogue. While it creates a mysterious mood for the show, it’s a little strange to see the characters alone so often, just…emoting. Fortunately, that changes some when Tandy and Tyrone cross paths at a party in the woods later after they accidentally bump into each other.

Of course, it’s no accident. And I don’t mean because it’s fate. I mean because Tandy knocked into Tyrone to pickpocket him which leaves him chasing after her into a graveyard.

When he grabs her something weird happens though: her hand lights up and he starts emitting shadows. And they’re both FREAKED OUT.

And that’s when it gets good. Really good. They realize they know each other from the beach. After the accident.

Tandy bolts, but it doesn’t end there.

Tyrone wakes up the next day at the top of the Roxxon building after falling asleep, realizing he has some sort of teleportation power (he seems weirdly nonplussed about it though).

New and Old Enemies

A flashback shows Tyrone and his parents at the police station after Billy’s body washes up on shore. His murder is covered up by the police station saying the cop Tyrone described doesn’t exist.

Except Tyrone sees the same man that morning in the present after waking up on top of the building.

Tandy gets a glimpse of her own powers when she’s sent into a weird vision mixed with a flashback of her parents. She later discovers her eponymous dagger power when she’s cornered by the same guy she robbed earlier in the episode (probably not a good idea to use the ballet tickets you stole from someone if you’re trying to avoid them). While he attempts to rape her she forms a dagger made of light, stabbing him.

Tyrone teleports again, this time into the trunk of the murderous cop who’s about to sell drugs. He has a flashback to the night of the murder, from the POV of the cop, Detective Connors (J.D. Evermore). Just as he’s discovered and about to get shot he teleports back to his house.

A final flashback shows Tandy and Tyrone on the beach as children after they both mysteriously made it out of the water.

The episode closes on them holding their mementos of the tragic day –Tyrone with Tandy’s ballet slipper she abandoned at the beach and Tandy with Tyrone’s oversized hoodie. The past has a hold on both of them.

Additional thoughts:

  • While I praised Runaways, another teen-focused Marvel drama, for its use of music, Cloak & Dagger might consider scaling back. It often felt like moody montages outnumbered the scenes with actual dialogue, leading to some pacing issues in the intro episode.
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed this episode, was the co-creator of a show called Shots Fired that looked at the murder of a black teenager by a police officer. Those themes of police brutality and racial profiling are explored here as well. I hope directors of future episodes will be as forthright in addressing social issues as the season progresses.

Read on for our review of the second episode of the two-hour premiere. 

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