For the pilot of a teen drama this wasn’t too bad.  Cloak & Dagger found a home on Freeform which is a channel mostly known for shows aimed at teenagers.  This type of content is known for fairly poor acting, a soap opera inspired plot, and cookie cutter chrarcters.  Therefore, there’s been some concern among Marvel fans because that kind of content is usually not well received.  There’s certainly a market for it, but for adult Marvel fans it can be frustrating.  All this is to say that there was a lot of curiosity and expectations going into the pilot for Cloak & Dagger.  But I think it’s safe to say that, at least in the first episode, the showrunners managed to successfully walk a very thin line.  This episode establishes the characters and setting without relying too heavily on the tropes of the genre.

The episode begins with an introduction to Tandy and Tyrone as young kids.  While Tandy has an interest in ballet, things get tense as her Dad argues with someone over a malfunctioning oil rig.  Meanwhile, a young Tyrone tries to impress his brother by stealing a car radio, but the two are soon caught by the police.  When Tandy’s father becomes distracted, they collide with oncoming traffic and are pushed off a bridge.  At the same time, Tyrone’s brother gets shot by the police and falls into the water.  When Tyrone jumps in after him, both he and Tandy find themselves stuck underwater as the oil rig explodes off the coast.  As they both struggle to escape, they become surrounded by some sort of mystical energy, before reaching out and holding hands.  And thus their interconnected journey begins.

Several years later, even though they’ve grown up apart, they’re still haunted by what happened when they were kids.  Tandy has pursued a life of crime after her mother’s poor judgement lost their financial security.  And Tyrone feels that he’s being smothered by his mother, who worries he’ll be killed like his brother.  Their lives intersect again at a party where Tandy slyly steals Tyrone’s wallet.  He chases her down and when they touch hands, their powers manifest causing them both to freak out.  Once he’s back home, Tyrone goes to sleep, but when he wakes up he’s on the roof of a building.  And when Tandy encounters a man she previously stole from and he begins to get violent with her, she defends herself using her light dagger abilities.

Throughout the episode we see a duality between both Tyrone and Tandy, with their actions subtly mirroring one another.  Starting when they’re kids, their struggle in the water is intercut showing they’re in the same situation.  Then when they’re older, they both listen to music as they go to bed after a crappy night.  And the episode ends with Tandy curling up in a large black cloak while Tyrone looks at a ballet shoe.  Both of them thinking about the other.  Their connection was also a big part of their comic book counterparts, so it’s nice to see that being explored.  It also seems like their powers could be connected since they only began to manifest when they met at the party.

One question that the show will need to answer is how it fits into the MCU.  At least so far, it seems that Cloak & Dagger is continuing the trend of making Roxxon the biggest punching bag in existence.  Roxxon’s been referenced in nearly every Marvel property and (while they may not be Hydra) they’re almost always corrupt.  But we might actually find out more about them since it seems they have some connection to the way Tandy and Tyrone got their powers.

The first episode of Cloak & Dagger does a good job establishing the characters and setting the stage for what follows.  However, it definitely does show signs of being aimed at a younger audience who’s more accustomed to Freeform’s content.  There were several lines that stuck out as being particularly cheesy.  But both lead actors, Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph seem to be doing a good job with what they’re given.  It’s still definitely a teen drama, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.  From an economic standpoint, a Marvel show aimed at a teenage audience does make some sense.  Just as the films have diversified and occupy different subgenre’s, so too must the television side of the MCU.  So even though some of the older fans may not be excited for Cloak & Dagger, the show may find a different audience.

VERDICT

3 pills out of 5.  I was not expecting much from Cloak & Dagger and was pleasantly surprised that it was somewhat entertaining.  However, the overly dramatic music and cheesy dialogue were an unwelcome reminder that I was watching a show aimed at an audience about half my age.  But I do think the show has potential.  The duality between the two main characters and their relationship to each other could be taken in an interesting direction.  It could also turn into a generic teen romance.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Both child actors did a good job which isn’t always the case.
  • That emoji conversation was uncomfortable.
  • So far I’m liking the design of their powers.  Tandy’s daggers look believable and the effect for Tyrone’s cloak was pretty cool.
  • This episode moved pretty quick which is a good sign.  Hopefully the show maintains the same pace because it could easily get bogged down with filler.
  • After Tyrone beats up the other basketball player I was wondering if he has anger issues because that’s not a normal reaction.  It’d be understandable considering what he saw with his brother.
  • The scene with Tyrone and his mother was very believable and well acted.  I hope we get to see more of their relationship.