Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger
“Back Breaker” (Episode 109)
July 26, 2018
After tonight, there is only 1 episode left in the Freshman season of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger (congratulations Show on the Season 2 renewal!!). So much to cover in the next hour, so little time.
Before we jump into tonight’s action, make sure you’re caught up on last week’s game changer episode with our deep dive recap & review here!
In 1949, Joseph Campbell published a book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he described what has become known as the “Hero’s Journey.” The basic theory is that cultures throughout time have developed similar and recurring themes for hero stories, called the monomyth.
Campbell posited that the monomyth is a set of guidelines for how a “hero’s” story will be told – from his first “Call to Adventure” through his ordeal, death and resurrection in the special world, and ending with his return to the ordinary world, changed or transformed into something more than he was when he left. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarized the monomyth:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – Joseph Campbell
This diagram is a common and handy depiction of the monomyth story.
The monomyth, or Hero’s Journey, is the basis of almost every superhero story. In particular, humans who become imbued with powers and subsequently must learn to not only use their powers but use them for the greater good – this is exactly what Joseph Campbell was writing about.
Our season long journey with Tyrone and Tandy has covered the beginning of the monomyth. Tonight’s story takes us to the middle of the arc. Let’s see what we see.
We open on Auntie Chantelle doing a rum-spitting voodoo walkabout early morning New Orleans. Auntie and the Loa, I guess, are searching for something but it’s clear she isn’t sure what that “something” is. It turns out to be a gas pipe just off a major town square … property of Roxxon Gulf. Ruh Roh.
We come back to Evita sitting in Father Delgado’s class. He is giving a lesson on “What Makes A Hero?” and is clearly using the monomyth as his guide. His class lecture will serve as a narration for this episode so it’s important we are paying attention here. He tells the class (us) that over the last few weeks, we’ve studied (seen on our screen) the hero answer the call, meet the mentor, and battle the threshold guardians. Now, we’re getting down into the shit. We’re up to the part of the Hero’s Journey called, “Regression.”
In short: the Hero, after accomplishing significant tasks, hits a major roadblock causing them to fall backwards, revert to a time before their journey began. This is all part of the process … this step backward is needed for the Hero to eventually be reborn into their greater self.
As Father Delgado finishes his first narration, we see Tandy burning a picture of her family and then taking some of her blood money to go buy drugs. Meanwhile, at Fuchs’ house, O’Reilly is watching his body be taken away and the super bloody crime scene be canvassed. Before she is thrown out for coming close to messing with a crime scene, she discovers a thick piece of wood, a club of some sort, covered in blood. Curious.
NOPD. Tyrone stands next to his parents as they learn about Connors’ taped confession. His triumph turns to ash, though, when his parents have literally no reaction to the news that their son was murdered by a cop 8 years – just as Ty has said all along. He is confused at their stone cold demeanor and that confusion turns to anger. Righteous anger to be sure.
“I was right. All these years, I was right. Billy is exactly who I said he was. My brother was a hero.”
His parents aren’t having it though — get in the car and shut your mouth. Which he does.
At Evita’s place, she begins giving Auntie a riot act for being out all night but realizes something is very very wrong. Through a dazed stupor (only some of which I think is alcohol related), a clearly exhausted Auntie tells Evita that Roxxon is ahead of schedule on their plan to destroy the city. And only the Divine Pairing can intervene now. “Ugh, again with the divine pairing,” is Evita’s response (paraphrased). “At this point, the one has met the other,” sages Auntie Chantelle. She wants Evita to ask Tyrone what’s up.
“Hey Ty, have you possibly met your super-powered soulmate?” I presume that’s how the question will go.
At a rich douchebag’s house (though he does have the COOLEST Stan Lee artwork on his wall – done in the style of an Andy Warhol). She’s drugged said rich douchebag and we learn that Tandy has learned a new trick with her Hope power. She can not only see someone’s greatest hopes, she can steal the hope, harness the joy from it, and take it into herself like a quick fix hit of pure happiness and bliss. Which is what she does with the drug guy – her satisfaction is almost like sexual pleasure in her response. She mutes a call from Mina and we head to commercials.
Back in class with Father D and he’s telling us the regression is usually triggered by a trauma, a trauma often caused by an unintended consequence of the Hero’s newfound abilities.
“The death of a loved one, an uncovered truth, or a dream that, once realized, reveals itself to be a nightmare.”
A bit on the nose there, Father Delgado. As Father D continues, we watch a despondent Tyrone and an anxious looking Adina going through their day. Father Delgado explains that the Hero’s original fears and insecurities return him, but are now amplified. And though the hero has new found powers, the Hero “can use that power to tear their life apart.” A music montage takes us through Tyrone’s increasingly bad day where he is checked out. Completely. It culminates with him almost beating Benny to death (Benny is one of his shitty teammates (he’s one of the kids who had beat Tyrone back in “Suicide Sprints”). Tyrone is at (past?) a breaking point, his anger and rage no longer being fully kept in check. With no dialogue, it’s very precise and impressive acting from Aubrey Joseph.
Over at Roxxon Gulf, Adina loses her shit (again, wordlessly because of the montage) because she’s just seen a memo about Roxxon announcing a new drilling project. Clearly she didn’t know about this beforehand and she is unleashing her Mama fury all over someone.
At Mina’s Funhouse Trailer Home, Tandy arrives to meet Mina (and Ivan) for lunch. She looks like shit. Mina and Ivan are clearly so happy to have each other again and it takes all of Tandy’s willpower to not vomit on the floor while professing being happy for them. Tandy and family matters – not a great combination right now.
“Why are you here,” Father Delgado asks a still simmering Tyrone. They’re in Father D’s office. And he doesn’t mean about the fight. Father Delgado is talking more metaphysically … Using the Battle of 1812 and its protracted ending (even after the treaty was signed) as a metaphor, tells Tyrone that he’s still fighting a war over Billy that is over. He asks Tyrone who will die while his battles continue to rage? Father D leaves Tyrone holding the heavy books out to the sides of his arm (a classic Catholic school punishment – nice detail).
Mina’s Funhouse Trailer Home. Ivan is trying to talk to Tandy about what a good man her father was but … poor timing Ivan. Poor timing. She excuses herself quickly. Mina comes over to her and not really picking up on what’s going inside Tandy, offers her a job at Roxxon. As Mina extends her hand for a shake on the job, Tandy takes it and in her Hope dream, steals her joy. Back in the present, Mina looks confused and Tandy – her face distorted in ugly rage – tells her, “Now you know how it feels.” Tandy … not using her powers for the greater good right now. Tandy not only steals joy but actually leaves the other person emptier and angrier – how do I know? After Tandy walks off, Mina, MINA of all people, takes a book and smashes a Bee Arthur. Oh, shit. That’s not good, not good at all.
“It’s important to know that regression is a trick. Just like most aspects of story. Our heroes can never really regress. They can’t be who they used to be. That person is gone. That person is dead forever and they’re never coming back. And our heroes, they just can’t hit the reset button. They can’t undo the most traumatic events of their life.” – Father Delgado
Irish Bar. Brigid is getting good and hammered while a classically Irish diddy is playing on the radio. It’s a real cop bar feel as she is pouring one out for Fuchs. In the background, there is a typical policeman’s Billy Club hanging on the wall. It’s framed and called, “Back Breaker.”
As Father Delgado continues to narrate about how our heroes will do anything to try and stop the pain – including going back to their old habits, we see a sunglasses wearing Tandy at the NOPD. She’s finally come to spring Liam from jail. He’s clearly weary after having not heard a word from her since he was arrested but she is in major mea culpa mode.
St. Sebastian’s. Father Delgado returns to find Tyrone still holding the books, still unwilling to speak. “You do realize how close you are to expulsion, don’t you? Is that what you want?” No answer.
Back to Tandy, as a sign of trying to move on, she finally takes Liam to where she lives. Hey! No one by Tyrone is supposed to be in the Dagger Church!! “It’s bigger than I thought.” Oh, Liam, you can’t even begin to fathom who Tandy is and has become while you’ve been away. And I like you Liam, I do. But bro, you can’t even hang with her.
St. Sebastian’s. Tyrone is ready to speak but it’s all vitriol and hatred and anger. Father Delgado tells him nothing is getting better in Ty’s life because he defines himself by the worst thing that has ever happened to Tyrone (true statement). In response, Tyrone spits at Father D if he’s supposed to lock himself away like the priest has. With a bible and pretty speeches. They step near ach other.
“Is that what you think my life is?”
“I think you have no one. I think you live in a sacred box alone. Protected.”
Tyrone isn’t done and basically tells Father Delgado he’s hiding at St. Seb’s so he doesn’t have to feel anything. They are nose to nose at this point.
Dagger Church. Tandy tells Liam she lives in this church because she always wanted to get married there. Married? Liam says. He’s being thrown off by her hopeful, humble vibe. She tells him that the dreams she fears most are her hopeful dreams because when she wakes up in the morning, she’s still stuck in her same life. She continues that she realizes she dreads her dreams because she’s not doing anything to make her own life better. Tandy takes Liam’s hands and tells him she wants to build a happy life. Finally.
St. Sebastian’s. “The church isn’t somewhere I came to hide. It where I found answers,” Father D defends himself. This is too much for Tyrone and he drops his books. Father Delgado and whatever you think this God is” doesn’t have answers for Tyrone. Also, Father D? Your God? B T Dubs, he doesn’t exist.
Dagger Church. “You were a good dream, Liam.”
St. Sebastian’s. Tyrone makes to leave but Father Delgado blocks his path. If he leaves, there is nothing Father D can do at that point to help. “I said move,” Tyrone shouts and he takes a vicious haymaker swing at the priest.
Dagger Church. They kiss and we’re in Liam’s Hope now. Tandy is in a wedding dress, walking down the aisle.
St. Sebastian’s. Father Delgado pulls Tyrone into a headlock and they touch. We’re now into Father D’s Nightmare. There is a bloodied soccer ball.
Liam’s Hope. Liam and Tandy kneel at the altar before the priest. The wedding song continues to play. Real World Tandy watches just off to the side.
Father Delgado’s Nightmare. Tyrone continues walking forward. A small girl lies crumpled on the street, bloodied. A few more steps and we see the offending car, smashed and smoking. Behind the wheel? Father Delgado. Wearing a wife beater. Maybe drinking? The wedding music from Liam’s Hope plays here … which is weird.
Liam’s Hope. The couple take the Eucharist. Hope Tandy smiles at her soon to be husband. A church bell tolls.
Father Delgado’s Nightmare. We are close up on Father Delgado as he continues to drink from a flask. He is staring dead eyed and straight ahead, maybe seeing nothing. We see the crack windshield where the girl’s head looks to have bounced off of. The church bells continue to ring. Tyrone follows the sound.
Liam’s Hope. Real world Tandy moves herself to Liam. She begins to do her “Joy stealing” from Liam. A rumble starts to shake the place.
Father Delgado’s Nightmare. Tyrone comes upon a church door. He opens it.
Liam’s Hope. The shaking and rumbling is getting worse. Tandy is still stealing Liam’s Joy. “Tandy? What the Hell are you doing?” Tyrone has entered the church in Liam’s Hope.
In the real world, Tandy breaks off the kiss with Liam and looks around. Tyrone isn’t there. Liam looks dazed.
St. Sebastian’s. The Nightmare is broke and Father Delgado returns to the present panting and confused and angry. Tyrone tries to apologize, tries to see if Father D is okay. “Just go. Now.”
Commercials. Goddamn it, this show is Sooo good! That was an intense sequence.
“We root for them to save us all. To pull themselves out of their downward spiral. But sometimes the allure of the downward spiral is too strong. Sometimes our heroes are too weak. When that goes down, one of two things can happen: we either witness the death of our Hero, or we realize we’ve been front row to the origin of something else. The birth of a villain.”
As Father Delgado has been speaking, we’ve been watching a How To Video on the production of Billy Clubs and now find ourselves back in the Cop Bar with O’Reilly. she is listening to people talk about what a good cop and guy, Fuchs was. “Anyone have a drink for me.” Connors has entered the bar. And, ballsy as he is, proceeds to toast the life and times of Officer Fuchs. “It’s a damn tragedy that he got involved with the wrong people.” O’Reilly, who hasn’t shit herself somehow, gets off her bar stool and slams Connors in the back of the head of with the Back Breaker. That was her one shot as she is restrained from the fellow cops. Unfortunately, Connors isn’t down, even a little. He responds with a wicked backhand slap across her face which sends her to the ground. He begins to punch her in the face, once, twice, a third time. The cops in the bar are just letting this play out. “You really think your inadmissible YouTube videos would keep me behind bars? He stops his beat down to take a swig of beer. As Brigid tries to stand, he puts her back down with a kick to the ribs.
“Don’t stay down too long. You and me ain’t finished yet.” – Connors
Again, I’d like to point out that no one stopped this from happening and people actually go to join Connors at the bar as O’Reilly lays on the floor, bloody.
St. Sebastian’s. Out by Tyrone’s locker, Evita approaches him, presumably to talk about Auntie Chantelle’s warnings. Tyrone begins to open up about the cops when Tandy appears and interrupts them. “Stay out of my head,” she begins. Before they can really get into the fight, Evita inserts herself into the mix. “Hey, strangely aggressive tiny girl,” Evita says (LMAO), “Ty’s having a pretty awful day so maybe you can yell at him another time.” Evita puts her hand on Tandy and so Tandy grips her right back. In Evita’s Hope, she is a doctor looking in on a patient. Tandy approaches her to steal her Joy and Hope Evita sees her and says, “No!” Hope Evita pushes real world Tandy away – well, that’s new.
In the present, Evita backs away, realizing that Tandy is Tyrone’s Divine Pairing. She runs off. Tandy just wants to know how Evita blocked her and Tyrone wants the know what the Hell she is doing to people … because it’s not just looking at their Hope. She says she doesn’t have to tell him anything.
“What do you think you and I are some sort of partnership? Well, we’re not. I owe you nothing.”
Tyrone again tells Tandy he has no desire to be in her head as he has drama enough of his own. She doesn’t want to hear about it with his cop confessing and him getting everything he’s ever wanted. He tells her how bad its been but she still doesn’t want to hear it; she scoffs that he thought his family would just change over night.
“Nothing changes. It just is. Again and again.”
Tandy tells Tyrone she is just like her father – she was doing to Liam essentially what Nathan did to her mother. “Because I’m a screwed up Bitch, Tyrone.” Tyrone, being the nice and caring guy he is, follows her outside and asks if she’s actually spoken to her mother about any of this…
Of course not but all is well, things are shitty and will just remain so and you’re better of accepting that, is Tandy’s essential advice.
“Excuse me if I don’t take wellness advice from the Bowen Family.”
Sick Burn, Ty! Tandy pulls a Light Dagger on him but he doesn’t flinch. “I’ll see you in your dreams.” Commercials.
“What is the point of regression? Why watch our Hero go through any of this? Cause the story isn’t about them. It’s about us. Heroes make mistakes because we do. They do things they regret because we do. And like most any story told, myth is a mirror. One we hold up to see ourselves more clearly. But that is the Catch-22 of the human condition. The inability to see ourselves for who we are.”
As Father Delgado is narrating to the class (to us), we see Evita hard at work on an all White Female Figurine – the match to Tyrone’s. We see Tandy and Tyrone wandering the streets of New Orleans, separately. Tandy catches herself in a window and takes a long look.
“So as we watch the rise and fall of our Heroes, the question we ask should not be, will they be greater? Can they ascend? No. When that rubber hits the road. And that tire blows. The question we should ask is, will WE be greater? Will WE ascend?”
Tandy seems to come some resolution as she looks at herself. She returns to the Dagger Church, ready to apologize to Liam but all she finds is her money statue, knocked over and emptied. Liam’s gone, baby. Long gone.
Out in the forest we have seen previously, Mina is on the phone with Scarborough, talking about a heat spike; she is assuring him she’ll fix the problem. She comes on Dan (that guy again) and a Roxxon worker tinkering with a Roxxon Pipe. As Mina approaches, the pipe bursts and a gas of some sort explodes out. When Dan and the Worker get up, they have clearly been changed into the Terrors (TM Ivan Hess). Mina asks if they’re okay and they take chase after her. Mina screams and runs.
We cut to Brigid getting out of her car to administer some first aid with her med kit. She hears a city wide call on the police scanner, calling all available cops to 1344 Solomon Place – the suspect in the Fuchs murder has been spotted at this location. O’Reilly looks like she’s going to join that party.
Tyrone enters the Johnson house and Mama J wants to have a talk. She gives him permission to ask whatever he wants to ask.
“Why didn’t you do anything? For all those years, you never listened to me. You never even tried.”
Adina explains what a parent understands but a child never can. If Tyrone had been telling the truth, a white cop killed a black teenager and managed to cover it up. That means he had help, inside the police. If Tyrone was telling the truth, Adina and Otis were terrified that those same police would come clean up their loose end – namely, Tyrone. Any they’re still worried today. Nothing has changed from Adina’s POV. Tyrone is frustrated that he’s not expected to do anything. Adina tries to make him see he has out himself in the “crosshairs again.”
“Someone has to. Otherwise, nothing will change.”
If I don’t stand-up, Tyrone finishes, Billy’s death would have been for nothing.
“Why not stand up for the world the way it should be. What about my kids, ma? Your grandkids?”
Adina isn’t thinking like that though, she’s thinking about it as a mother that’s already lost one child and if Tyrone doesn’t stop, she fears, she’ll lose another one. “Billy is dead so you have to let it go,” Adina struggles to say but does. Ty tells her that he is not sure who he is without the regret and fear and guilt he’s carried around for so long. Adina tells him that she knows exactly who he is and she see it every day.
“You’re more like your brother than you’ll ever know.”
Which is the exact moment when the police roll up in force on the Johnson house. Tyrone is the suspect they are tracking for Fuchs’ murder. Adina tells him to run. And he does.
The Bowen House. Tandy comes into her mom’s house, calling out for her, telling Mama B that she wants to talk about everything: about her father and herself, everything. Pew Pew Pew. Gunshots erupt around Tandy and she ducks for cover. Scarborough’s female assassin is here to take care of Tandy. She’ll give Tandy to the count of three to give herself up or else Mama B gets it.
“When that rubber hits the road and that tire blows. We will ask ourselves the question at the center of all myth, who are we?”
As the assassin hits 1, the episode ends … to be continued in next week’s season finale, I guess. Nooooooooo!!!
Thoughts. What a great way to set up the season finale!! After spending the episode falling backwards: with Tandy running to her old bad habits of hustling and Liam and Joy stealing and Tyrone, being angry and not filtering his rage, they seemingly have found their footing at episode end. JUST IN TIME for it all to fall apart again.
Clearly Connors is not the only corrupt cop in the NOPD and clearly he has powerful help. To not only be on the streets again but to also be able to so quickly plant the seeds of Tyrone’s guilt for Fuch’s murder … this is a force to be reckoned with. I completely believe him when he tells Brigid that they’re not done yet. And Tandy, she should not have assumed that Scarborough would take her kidnapping and extortion lightly – rookie mistake, kid. Our Heroes are in a bad place right now but I believe, they’ll realize they are best together and, in the end, meet the challenge head on.
How about Mina confronting real life Terrors – not just ideas in Ivan’s trapped mind. How does Mina play into the end game and … is that Roxxon Gulf job offer still good?
And lastly, Evita, Auntie and the Divine Pairing. What is the role for these two? Are they just the Greek chorus, narrating clues for us, the audience, from the side or are they going to get into the fight – be an aid and comfort to Tyrone and Tandy? Also, what does tonight mean for Evita and Tyrone’s relationship — not that I’ll be sad to see that go (I ship T&T Proudly!). Oh, also, how was Hope Evita able to repel Tandy?!?
So many questions heading into our last week! I really appreciate the foray into the Hero’s Journey tonight and think the show did itself a service in acknowledging the device and using it effectively for its storytelling. In the end, this entire Season will serve to be a season long origin story but it was a great story-telling concept to employ in this single episode microcosm, to let us fans know that they know that they’re doing. As a fan and as a critic, I appreciate their originality and clear, crisp lines.