Is there such a thing as a “normal” life? In this sixth hour of Cloak & Dagger, its teen protagonists Tyrone and Tandy try to ingratiate themselves with individuals they assume to be on a more even keel to themselves…only to discover they’re not the only ones with hidden traumas. Let’s take a look at “Funhouse Mirrors,” shall we?
1. “The Divine Pairing?”
In my review of Cloak & Dagger’s two-part pilot, I praised the showrunners for eliding the problematic undercurrent of the comic’s premise in the process of bringing it to the small screen. The show essentially swaps Ty and Tandy’s backgrounds, so he’s from a well-off middle-class home, and she a more troubled environment. That they both now have to struggle to blend in to areas they stereotypically “should” belong to — Tyrone attempting to infiltrate a gang of drug-dealers, Tandy posing as intern to a high-level Roxxon employee — is one of the show’s better-developed dramatic conceits.
2. “Shit goes down from time to time…”
In fact, the organic conflict that arises from “The Divine Pair” and their attempts to ingratiate themselves in these worlds is strong enough that you wish Cloak & Dagger would stop messing about with its more cliche plot beats. Is it not enough that two traumatised, superpowered teens are on the verge of uncovering a vast corporate conspiracy/drug network without introducing a portentous prophecy regarding a forthcoming apocalyptic event involving them, as foretold by Evita’s Auntie?
3. “What’s colony collapse disorder?”
Over in Tandy’s corner of New Orleans, things get slowed down a little as she worms her way into the confidences of Roxxon engineer Mina Hess (Ally Maki), whose father was the only survivor of the oil rig collapse that killed Tandy’s father and gave her and Ty their powers. Her awkward attempts to naturally bring up said father is either bad writing or illustrative of how Tandy’s immaturity makes her ill-equipped to take on her mission of vengeance. Either way, the story’s conclusion — with Mina forgiving Tandy for misleading her, and introducing her to her comatose dad — is another strong moment.
4. “Most folks is just trying to get out of here!”
Ty, meanwhile, is much more successful in his undercover operation. The exact nature of his powers is still pretty much unexplained; This time he confronts the young dealer whose place in the operation he will soon fill, managing not only to see the kid’s darkest fears, but appears to project them into his head and cause him to flee in terror. He quickly squanders his position, however, by confronting his dead brother’s best friend directly about his collaboration with the cop who killed said sibling. Isn’t Tyrone supposed to be smart?
5. “A city of survivors.”
I realise I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but boy would it be nice if Cloak & Dagger would remember it’s supposed to be a comic book show at some points. Its interweaving stories of compromised police and corporate conspiracies are fairly by-the-numbers, and have been told with greater complexity and style in other shows.
Introducing superpowers into that story should open up some new doors, yet the writers seem insistent on barely employing them. In this episode, Tandy makes exactly one (1) of her light knives in order to open a bundle of clothing, the pair each use their touchy-feely-telepathy to conjure yet more portentous foreshadowing and…that’s it. I get these are characters who are inherently “dark,” but it’s okay to have a little superhero fun every once in a while, guys!
“Funhouse Mirror” finally pushed things forward with regards to Ty and Tandy’s individual quests, as well as their eventual team-up, but is it too little, too late? Sound off in the comments below.