Possible spoilers ahead!
Marvel’s “Cloak & Dagger” series on Freeform begins when its lead characters, Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen were children. The opening minutes of the premiers episode goes back and forth showing the viewer the tragic events the characters experience on the day their lives would be inextricably linked forever. On this fateful night, Tyrone and Tandy each lose someone important in their lives. The events build to an impressive climax where we witness the first connection between the two characters.
The series then turns to present day New Orleans, where Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) is a star athlete at a private high school who has never really come to grips with the events of that tragic night years ago. The same can be said for Tandy (Olivia Holt), who has gone from a life of wealth to a life of crime with her boyfriend.
However, Tyrone and Tandy’s lives are forever changed when the two encounter each other at a high school party. This brief meeting unlocks powers neither Tandy or Tyrone knew they possessed.
I had really low expectations going into “Cloak & Dagger.” Not because I don’t like the characters, but because Marvel’s tv output has been rather Meh for the last couple of years. However, I am pleased to say “Cloak & Dagger” won me over with its solid acting, and impressive cinematography and use of music.
“Cloak & Dagger” just looks and feels different from other Marvel shows. None of it looks like it was shot in a studio, and to me that added a lot to the world building in the first couple of episodes. Even the drama of the first few minutes is realistic, and it had me from the start. This is not a CW teen drama, it’s a lot better than that.
The first two episodes of “Cloak & Dagger” focuses on its characters’ domestic situations rather than the powers Tyrone and Tandy are exhibiting. Some fans might find this boring and slow, but I enjoyed it. Not only does it ground the story in the real world, but by spending so much time in their lives, we also become attached to Tyrone and Tandy.
It was also interesting to see how the lives of both leads changed so dramatically over the course of a few years. Today, Tyrone attends a Catholic high school where he plays on the basketball team, while Tandy is a petty thief who spends her nights in an abandoned church and occasionally visits her deadbeat, drug-addled mother who steals money from Tandy to fuel her binges.
Easily the highlight of the show for me were Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph. Both actors are appealing young talents with a ton of potential. It’s hard to say what their chemistry is like, since they’ve only been onscreen together for about 4 minutes. Despite this, their acting is what draws you in the most, and I like what each has brought to their character.
I think one of the surprising strengths of the show is the restraint the show runners used. This easily could have gone down the typical superhero show trap, but allowing things to unfold slowly and naturally, it enhances what the main characters are all about.
That said, “Cloak and Dagger” isn’t a joyful series. If anything, this is actually a rather somber coming-of-age story of two teenagers deeply traumatized since childhood. Both are trying to heal in different ways, and its clear this show will take us through their journey.
“Cloak and Dagger” score: B+