Cloak and Dagger

5 out of 5

Created by: Joe Pokaski

covers season 1

The more teen-ish Marvel shows that have been happening – Gifted, Runaways, and now Cloak and Dagger – have been rather surprisingly good.  Surprisingly, I suppose, for the also-rans nature of the characters and setting in Gifted; outlier mutants and no groovy spy underpinnings a la S.H.I.E.L.D., but excepting some TV distractions (general subplot stuff), it ended up being really solid.  Runaways is the weaker and more teen-geared of those two, but it still approached some hefty things really maturely, and wrapped itself around a coulda-been-goofy plot effectively.

But Cloak and Dagger, by going full slowburn, and by being willing to approach its young lead’s roles and personalities with sincerity, thought, and, again, maturity, not only supercedes both of those shows, but stands on its own as something truly accomplished.  The superhuman aspect is an extra kick across the finish line, enhancing what’s there instead of strictly revolving around it, plus taking the best advantage of subtle special effects to achieve the most.

It probably helps that they nailed an amazing cast all around, especially leads Olivia Holt as Tandy/Dagger and Aubrey Joseph as Cloak/Tyrone, but also including Gloria Reuben, Andrea Roth, Miles Mussenden, Ally Maki, and more.  Tuff cop Emma Lahana and crooked cop J.D. Evermore somewhat occupy two one-note sides of the police coin, but as the series goes on, they get some room to breath more life into their roles, and their parts in the story are weighted well enough that this initial character shallowness isn’t a distraction.  It also helps that the duality of Cloak and Dagger is such a fun light / darkness, hopes / fears, good / evil bundle of parables; that’s great TV fodder, and our writers use to explore and exploit all types of growing pains for Tyrone – his brother the victim of police brutality – and Tandy – her father lost to the cover-ups schemings of company Roxxon.  While the tip-toe approach to their powers might cause watch-checking for some, I think because their powers aren’t exactly of the flight / eyebeams / whatever category, it made sense to take a more nuanced approach, and thus the discovery / evolution of those powers (which somewhat equate to controlling some of the parallels mentioned above) felt really earned.  But again, I’d stress: what really kept me watching was the drama.  It just felt so grounded, and real, not always wallowing in tragedy and distress but always keeping things in check, and done without any of the dumb TV decisionry that forces us in to filler episodes.

This will be a hard one to top.