TV Recap: Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger – Two Variables …

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger
“Lotus Eaters” (Episode 107)
July 12, 2018

We left off last week with B-Ball Duane, on the precipice of redemption, being shot dead by Detective O’Reilly and, in the aftermath, Tyrone cloaking to Tandy’s church and having an inconsolable breakdown. Meanwhile, Tandy learned that the man who may be the centerpiece of her entire Roxxon investigation is catatonic and unresponsive – even to her Hope visions.

As we begin tonight’s episode, out dynamic Duo is at an impasse. Let’s see if they can break the stagnation. Our deep dive recap & review begins … after the jump (spoilers spoilers spoilers)!

“So they went straightway and mingled with the Lotus-eaters, and the Lotus-eaters did not plan death for my comrades, but gave them of the lotus to taste. And whosoever of them ate of the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no longer any wish to bring back word or to return, but there they were fain to abide among the Lotus-eaters, feeding on the lotus, and forgetful of their homeward way. These men, therefore, I brought back perforce to the ships, weeping, and dragged them beneath the benches and bound them fast in the hollow ships; and I bade the rest of my trusty comrades to embark with speed on the swift ships, lest perchance anyone should eat of the lotus and forget his homeward way.”
-Homer, The Odyssey, Line 82

“How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream,
With half-shut eyes ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half-dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light …”
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lotos-eaters

Tonight’s episode begins 8 years in the past, on the day of the oil rig explosion.  Meet Ivan Hess (Tim Kang). A single dad who has instilled in his daughter, a love of science and delicious cookies.  Before he heads for work, Mina challenges him to figure out the secret ingredient that makes her cookies so damn good! 

On the Oil Rig, Ivan is getting the overnight report from one of his men that everything is as it should- there is a pesky temperature spike but that’s been fixing itself.  Ivan is NOT pleased to find out that some conductive shielding tiles were not installed like they should have been – no time for any other chit chat, get Nathan Bowen on the phone. Now. As Ivan sits down to enjoy his cookie, he grouses, to no one in particular, that he needs Bowen now – get him on the phone. Which, is exactly when the rig loses power and the Klaxons of Doom start to blare.

Having seen the opening scene of the Pilot of Cloak & Dagger, I have a pretty good idea what’s about to happen. But more on that later; right now, we cut back to the present and to a still humming yet still catatonic, Ivan Hess.  Homie is living inside his head. Title Card.

In the Dagger Church HQ, Tyrone has composed himself enough to tell Tandy the backstory on why he was so upset at the end of last week.  B-Ball Duane was Ty’s shot to put Connors away – B-Ball Duane knew it all and Ty is pretty sure he had him convinced to come forward.

“My dad, he used to say that our failures are the steps we climb.” – Tandy

Climb to where? Tandy isn’t sure about that part … But moving on, Tandy kind of needs Tyrone’s help hacking into the mind of a catatonic man that might be the key to clearing her father’s name.  Normal day … at least for Tandy anyway.

Cut back to Ivan’s hospital room and Tyrone, in classic Tyrone fashion, questions the normalcy of sneaking into people’s hospital rooms?  Tandy is all, “Hush yourself, this catatonic dude is the only survivor from the oil rig explosion and there is a smokey door in his mind that YOU, Tyrone, need to open.”  I might have been paraphrasing in that last sentence.  Tyrone is intrigued as it was the oil rig explosion that made Connors pull the trigger on Billy – of course, if you’ve seen the Pilot episode, you already knew that too.

“You’re into some messed up shit,” is Tyrone’s very correct and accurate summation of the situation. But Tandy isn’t budging, Ivan Hess is the only one that knows what really happened – the only person that can tell her it wasn’t her Father’s fault (and that Roxxon really is an evil empire).

“1 – 2 -3.”

And just like that, T&T are into Ivan’s mind.  There is the Rig Door, still with the black smoke around it.  As Tyrone touches the door, the duo are transported into the Oil Rig, in mid- Klaxon Blare – just like in Ivan’s memory from the opening.  Different from Ivan’s memory?  The scary oil rig worker who can not only see T&T but also is actively trying to kill them.  A quick light dagger to the belly dispatches him but Tyrone is very confused – these are not the same rules that his Nightmare visions play by.  T&T duck into an office to escape the roving oil rig workers and come upon … Ivan Hess.

Ivan is EXTREMELY happy to see Tandy & Tyrone. Ivan is literally on the verge of tears seeing T&T, the idea of something new happening to him.

“Something new. Something delightfully, incredibly, wonderfully new. And you talk. What a time to be alive.” Ivan

Commercials.

When we return, Ivan tempers his excitement by confirming whether or not T&T are there to kill him.  No? Splendid! Some small problems arise quickly, Ivan no longer knows his name – he is just “me,” why would I need a name.  And he doesn’t know where he is, he’s just … “here.”  A phone rings and Ivan hangs up on it without hesitation. He can’t stop the Klaxons from blaring, but he can hang up on the phone guy that always calls “halfway.”

Ivan, trying to be a good host, invites T&T to watch the “baseball game” with him – we see a hand drawn drawn rendering of a baseball field (interestingly, its drawn over top the blue prints for the oil rig) – its the bottom of the 67th and the score is tied at 1,382 (FYI, that’s an average of 20.6 runs an inning – some bad pitching in this game). Hold up, says Tyrone, “halfway to what?” Ivan clarifies, “halfway to the end.” To the end of all reality. Ahhh, sure. Makes more sense now.

T&T work out the rest themselves – they are on the oil rig, right before it explodes … Ivan helpfully adds that the explosion will be in a minute and 47 seconds. “How do we stop this,” Ty implores Ivan? Oh, it can’t be stopped. Well, it could be stopped but it requires getting to the core room, hitting the kill switch and closing the shut off valves. But, that’s pretty much impossible – T&T aren’t deterred and leave to give it a go.  On their way to the core room, they are set upon by two of the Zombie Rig Workers and together, with their powers, they dispatch them fairly easily. Tandy compliments Ty on getting better with his powers.   The banter over progress is quickly snuffed out though as the screen goes white – that’s the sign of the big explosion.

Reset the scene.

(Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani) OLIVIA HOLT, AUBREY JOSEPH, TIM KANG

Ivan prepares his cookie as the lights go off and the Klaxons begin. This time, T&T are in the room with him at the start of the memory.  Ivan gives them a little “told you so” loving and Tandy is all, What the fuck is happening?” Same thing that always happens – “starts with the Klaxons, concludes with a bang. I told you this already.”  Ivan gave up counting after he got to around 100,000 redos.

What happened to the oil rig, 8 years ago, what is happening as we stand here right now, T&T asks Ivan. He explains that there is an initial energy expulsion which turns the rig workers into the Zombies we’ve seen (Ivan calls them “Terrors”) – Ivan has a theory that the energy Roxxon is drilling for, when released improperly, infects the mind with pure fear and can be spread (like an infection) from person to person.  After this energy release, the angry guy calls on the phone. After that, the first explosion – things start getting bad then – and it all finally ends with the big bang.  As Ivan is finishing his tutorial, he advises the Duo to hide as the oil rig Zombies begin acting out their regular roles and routes.

** For the record, Monsieur Flambe, Wrenchie, Axey & Chainey are all names Ivan has given his Zombie friends. Ivan is delightfully loopy in these scenes.**

Tandy tries to convince Ivan that this is all in his mind – the result of 8 years of living in a catatonic state.  He laughs at her in the “you’re crazy” kind of way and stalks off.   Ty thinks this is a lost cause but Tandy isn’t giving up hope – she needs him.  Tandy tries the Mina-route but Ivan isn’t remembering having a daughter. Fucking A, Tandy isn’t defeated -she mentions her father, Nathan Bowen, and how Ivan and him were partners. THIS gets some recognition – “you mean the guy on the phone?”

Tandy does some recollecting herself and puts it together that the phone call Nathan was having when he drove them off the bridge (distracted driving) is the phone call real world Ivan must have had right before the explosion – the phone call that is currently ringing in Ivan’s trapped memory loop.  Tandy picks up the phone.

(Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani) OLIVIA HOLT

Nathan is confused as to how she is on the rig?!? Tandy makes up a story and tells him that she just needed to speak to him, that she misses him.  BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION.

Reset the scene.

Tyrone is trying to convince Tandy that they need to get da fuck outta dodge but she is fixated on the phone.  Tyrone quickly realizes there is an issue but he can’t reach her.  He decides to try it himself and makes great use of his powers in a controlled way.

**Before Ty gets to work here, there is an interesting conversation between two workers in the Core Room – they mention that the bit is still drilling fast and well – something else was causing the temperature and pressure spike. We don’t hear what it was though because, as they decide to get “the mud man on the line,”  the explosions begin and Zombie workers and stuff. You know how that plays out.**

Back in the office, Tandy talks to her Father – she’s desperate for a connection but feels the limitation one what she can tell him.  She tells Nathan it doesn’t matter what they talk about, she just wants to hear his voice.  In the core room, Tyrone hits the kill switch and turns the valves BUT the explosion still happens.

Reset the scene.

Tyrone is trying to problem solve but no one wants to help him. Ivan is impressed that he got the work done but doesn’t speculate on why it didn’t work and Tandy has become obsessed with staring at the phone and what it represents – her father’s voice on the other side.   Tyrone convinces her they need to leave Ivan’s memory and think of something else. She agrees and on 1-2-3, Tyrone wakes up in Ivan’s hospital room but, Surprise Surprise, Tandy is still checked in to Ivan’s mind – she didn’t leave.

Oldest trick in the book, Tyrone, I can’t believe you fell for it.

“Why are you such a good liar”, Ty asks his silent partner? That’s a question for the ages, sir. Ty tries to physically disconnect Tandy but when that doesn’t work, he sighs deeply and heads back in.  He’s not leaving his bestie behind … even though he probably really wants to right now.

Back in the office, the Klaxons are already going and Ivan isn’t there. A bored looking Tandy casually throws a light dagger at a Zombie Oil Rig workers who comes through the door.  How long have you been here since I’ve been gone, Ty asks her? Before picking up the now ringing phone, Tandy answers with a question of her own, “what was your name again?”

Ruh-Roh! Commercials.

When we return, Tandy is talking to Father and Ty isn’t having it. When she won’t acknowledge him, he hangs up the call which gets Tandy’s attention in a hurry.  He tells her the hard truth that she’s lost her mind, just like Ivan. She has the nerve to call Ivan a “special kind of crazy.” Hello Pot, I am the Kettle.

“You’re not anywhere. You’re stuck in the mind of an insane, catatonic, mud man.” – Tyrone

Tandy doesn’t see the problem there. Tyrone strongly disagrees – everything in his previous sentence is RIDICULOUS, he says.  Tandy remembers some things from her old life. She remembers it was a horrible life. A lonely life where no one called her and no one cared about her. She remembers being homeless, aimless, fatherless, friendless. Ty insists she has one friend but Tandy shuts him down – we are NOT friends. She continues, saying that Ty only came on this Ivan journey because she emotionally manipulated him – because that is what she does.  Tyrone tries to convince her that that is NOT who she is and she agrees its not — when she’s here in the memory.  She has everything she needs and once the scene resets, she’ll have her dad too.  BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION.

Reset the scene.

Ivan notes the return of Tyrone but, sensing the tension between T&T, leaves the room.  Tandy warns Ty to not touch the phone or else … or else what, TY would like to know? She says she stopped counting after the 200th reset and Tyrone tries to convince her she is sick.  Nope nope nope, Tandy says, for the first time in a long time – she’s perfectly fine. If the roles were reversed, what would Tyrone do to hear Bobby again?  Billy, Tyrone says exasperatedly.

Tandy tells Ty that the anger he had just there that she forgot Billy’s name? That’s how she feels every day.  The phone rings and she pulls a light dagger on Ty as he goes for it.  Undeterred, he rips the cord out of the wall just as she was beginning her ritual conversation with her father. GAH! Now Tandy has to wait for the reset to speak to Nathan again!! Tyrone says he’ll hang up the call every time until she stops! Tandy flings a light dagger at him. Again. And again. And again.  Tyrone cloaks out of every one.

Tandy? Tandy is very upset.

Photo: Freeform

Fine. Tyrone surrenders. But Tyrone asks her that in all of these conversations, has Tandy told her how lonely she is, how much  of a liar she’s become, how she has turned to drugs since he’s been gone? What would her father think if she told him who she really was now?!?  We don’t get an answer. BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION.

Reset the scene.

Ivan, still smelling his cookie as he does at the beginning of every reset, is “sensing some aggression” between T&T – understatement of the year, sir.  He leaves the room. Like he always does.

**Interestingly, T&T are in the same positions as they were before the last reset.  Ivan always starts at his desk but T&T end up in the relatively same place as the last spot before the reset. Interesting framing device.**

Tyrone tells Tandy he’ll leave her there IF she asks her dad one question. Tyrone asks Tandy to ask her father something that Ivan wouldn’t know – if its really her father, then Nathan should know something that Ivan wouldn’t know – thereby proving its really her father. The phone begins to ring.

Tandy picks up the phone and asks her dad, “who’s in the back of your car?” “Nathan” says he doesn’t understand the question – she clarifies where he is, who is in the back seat, she asks again.  “Nobody,” “Nathan” answers as tears stream down Tandy’s face.

“Daddy. I miss you.”
“I’m right here, Pumpkin.”
“No. You’re not … (barely a whisper) Bye daddy.”

Tandy hangs up the phone, the spell having been broken.

BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION.

Reset the scene.

“Exciting News,” Ivan says. “The Red Sox scored. The game is no longer tied.”

Where do you think the cookie came from, dummy? Tandy has had enough.  Tandy goes off on him, that sometimes fathers can’t be there because shit happens BUT sometimes, they have a choice and you, you have a choice. Do the right thing, do you understand? The phone rings but Tandy hangs up on it.

Mina made this cookie for you 8 years ago. In her EZ Bake Oven.  She used Cardamom as the secret ingredient.  THIS cracks the memory.  He remembers that Mina never got to tell him the secret ingredient.  He wants to see her but he’s trapped. “You might not be,” Ty tells him. He explains that if Ivan is the one to stop the explosion (not Ty like he tried before) – this all might end.  Ivan says that he’s tried and he can’t do it. Tandy explains that there are two variables that he hasn’t factored into his work.

“You, my dear. Are your father’s daughter.” – Ivan

BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION.

Reset the scene.

With a full suite of time available, Ivan says they should get to it – isn’t going to be tied game forever.  Using their powers, T&T provide Ivan the cover he needs to get to the core room and Ivan manages to hit the kill switch and closes the valves.  As the BRIGHT WHITE EXPLOSION begins, we cut back to the Hospital Room.

Tandy and Tyrone are awake … and so is Ivan. “Who are you people,” he asks them.  He demands to see Mina.  Cut to Mina rushing into the room as T&T watch from outside. Tyrone tellsher that her father was right about the “steps we climb.” “He usually was.”

Wrap-Up. In this room, Tyrone digs up an old tape recorder that has a recording of his brother on it. But he doesn’t listen to it. He calls Tandy.  On the phone, he explains that he wants to listen to it and wants her to listen with him.  She asks why her?

“I just needed someone who would understand.”

**We’ll look past the tape recorder still working after all this time with a battery change.**

Press play.  Its Billy and a young Ty messing around with the recorder as kids do when they have a tape recorder. Billy freestyles a sweet rhyme while 6 year old Tyrone lays down a beat.  Its silly and its sweet. Its amazing.  Its the exact kind of childhood memory that is pointless at the time and then becomes EVERYTHING when you get older.

Tandy asks him to play it again.  The episode ends as the tape begins to rewind.

Thoughts.  This show excels in several areas but the most impressive is in its character development.  In the first seven episodes of this season, there has been a real and convincing growth in both Tyrone (as he has learned to be less concerned with living Billy’s life) and even more so, Tandy (as she basically tries to undo everything she has become in the previous eight years).  But even more than their individual growth, watching Tandy and Tyrone grow as friends and teammates has been a delight to watch.

The beginning of the season saw these two dancing around each other as they focused on their life issues individually … the last couple of episodes has seen them turning to each other for advice and direction.  Tonight, the culmination of that work is seen by Tyrone literally saving Tandy’s life – by convincing her to leave Ivan’s brain. And then, in fair turn, Tandy allows herself to be a person for Tyrone to talk to.

In one of his great sermons, Pastor Steven Furtick once preached that there is a difference between being surrounded and being supported. There are lots of times in our lives where we are surrounded by people – Tyrone is surrounded by family and school mates all the time – but its Tandy, because of her unique position, who is giving him the support he needs. To help him with his Connors problem, to help him with his Billy problem, to help him realize he needs to get a little dark to get the results he’s seeking. And Tandy, she admits tonight, maybe for the first time out loud, that she is alone. In every way that word can be used, emotionally and physically. BUT, she doesn’t need to be. She realizes tonight – she finally hears Tyrone tonight – she isn’t alone – she has him.

The beauty of Tandy & Tyrone is that they are equally each others balm and solace – that the power that repels them from each other when they physically touch, has brought them together in the much more important psychological and emotional way.  These two – the Divine Pairing, you can see it all there in front of you.

Before we end tonight, I want to touch on the interesting mechanics of T&T working together (for the first time) inside someone’s head.  The rules are different from their normal experiences – the visions see them and try to hurt them; Tyrone’s powers come easier to him and more importantly, the vision learns.  Ivan, trapped in his own mind, retains knowledge from reset to reset. Tandy, in the midst of her succumbing to the lure of speaking to her “father” is having a continuing conversation with Nathan – reset after rest; picking up where we left off. Its an interesting reminder that this whole episode basically took place in Ivan’s mind – a mind that is outwardly catatonic but still very active, albeit trapped. This entire episode, Ivan’s mind is learning and adapting and retaining knowledge.

I don’t know that this has any long term significance but at its most basic level, that learning mechanic was a nice reminder of how powerful a machine, the human brain is.

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