After an intense two-part season premiere, Cloak & Dagger slows things down a little in “Shadow Selves” to explain just what we saw last week. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t mayhem afoot.
In fact, we see it from the start of the episode. But the first thing we see isn’t Brigid or her double but Tandy’s old pal Mina Hess (Ally Maki). After the night of the “terrors” causes by Roxxon, she does what any scientist would do – she investigates it. But it’s not until an electrical shortage during one of her experiments when a test rat duplicates and then kills its original that she realizes the full power of the Roxxon gas.
Which is what we saw at the end of last season. The O’Reilly crawling out of the swamp wasn’t the original but her double (hint: the green, razor-sharp claws). Through a flashback of the double at her apartment in a fit of rage, it’s revealed via a news broadcast that the real Brigid was taken to a hospital
From the start, the double wants to kill Brigid but decides to set her sights on Connors first.
Back in the present, Ty quickly realizes it’s the evil O’Reilly who killed the gang members at the club. She’s not phased though and tells them to stay out of her way before Ty transports them away to avoid the cops.
Tandy meanwhile freaks out expecting an explanation. They won’t find one from the visibly shaken Brigid so they turn to Mina Hess instead, learning about her experiments. More than just discovering the duplications, she’s found that the doubles only have activity in the “rage” center of the brain. “Chaos and anger,” she explains. And mayhem.
They track her down to a seedy motel, where they discover the depths of her investigation as seen through the intricate web of clues pinned to her wall.
“What is all this?” asks Tandy.
“This is mayhem,” replies Brigid.
Through flashbacks we learn how “Mayhem” got to this point, even seeing her meet up with Father Delgado (Jaime Zevallos) when she looks for Ty in her search for Connors. He becomes an ongoing part of her story, as we view his simultaneous fall back into alcoholism as Mayhem keeps running into him.
In the present, they realize Mayhem is investigating the same missing girls Tandy was trying to help. Tandy has no problem with Mayhem’s methods, but Ty begins to question whether his own vigilanteism is too similar to that of the cold-blooded killer. They track down Mayhem’s next move after Brigid discovers a deck of cards with notes, the same trick she used to use undercover.
It’s a great performance from Emma Lahana in both roles, as we see Brigid come to terms with what she thought was just PTSD but is much more. Lahana’s able to transform fully to Mayhem through her pitch and her cadence and her physicality without coming off as cartoonish or melodramatic. (Though I’m already tired of them panning to Mayhem’s green nail polish…not exactly subtle)
Mayhem appeals to Tandy’s darker impulses and tries to convince her in the club to join her before dodging all of Tandy’s daggers.
In the flashback, we see Mayhem cross paths with Tyrone’s mother Adina who votes against investigating the missing girls, possibly making her a future target for Mayhem. But at the moment she’s there for Connors’ old partner who has no leads for her but was implicit in Billy’s death. Which according to her rules means he’s got to go.
We get further insight into Mayhem’s psyche when she confesses to Delgado that she feels no guilt over her murders and just wants to hurt people. It’s not entirely clear why she continues to seek him out, but it’s an interesting contrast between a woman with no moral qualms out to do good and a man full of morals who has failed even himself.
While the flashbacks add a lot to the character development of Mayhem, the pace of the episode feels slow always having to switch back to the present. Although the series has been built on flashbacks, to a degree, the lack of Tandy and Ty in these flashbacks saps the show of its usual chemistry.
In the present, Ty and Tandy find the missing girls, already freed by Mayhem. Seeing how terrified the girls are, and literally seeing into their minds that they’ve lost all hope, pushes Tandy further to aligning with Mayhem and wanting to stop the kidnappers at all costs.
As hard as it is to see her disagree and argue with Ty, it’s powerful to see how much she empathizes with these girls, knowing she could have been one of them if circumstances had been even the slightest bit different.
They use Ty’s ability to see into fears to track down the location of the sex trafficking ring where the rest of the girls are being held. Ty and Tandy’s disagreement over tactics comes to a head when Ty admits he doesn’t trust Mayhem because her “shoot first, ask questions later” style of justice is the same that got his brother killed.
Tandy distracts the gang with an energy blast long enough for Ty to evacuate the girls, but not before Mayhem shows up to seek vengeance. But rather than let O’Reilly kill a teenager, Ty absorbs her. Well, that’s a new trick.
- We saw Tyrone’s mom just long enough to get the sense that she’s somehow wrapped up in this. But how? And how long until she finds out her son is still in New Orleans?
- After lamenting the absence of so many characters in the premiere we got the return of Mina Hess AND Father Delgado. However, Delgado’s role as Mayhem’s personal priest seems a little strange. I’m hoping to see him play a bigger role this season than the town drunk.
- After seeing the return of O’Reilly’s boyfriend in the final scene, or at least his talking corpse, it strikes me how ironic it was that he was “fridged” in the first season. The term generally refers to the death of a hero’s wife or girlfriend that leads them to personal development, whereas in this case it’s inverted both because of gender and because O’Reilly has become a villain of sorts. Could this be foreshadowing a much longer planned redemption arc for Mayhem?
Cloak & Dagger airs Thursdays on Freeform.