New Series: Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger Season 1 , Episode 1 and 2

Series updates:

Cloak & Dagger blends soapy drama with superhero grit to create an exciting, surprisingly thoughtful addition to the genre — even if it falls prey to a certain amount of narrative bloat.


Here’s the pitch: “Romeo and Juliet,” but set in modern-day New Orleans, and Romeo can teleport, while Juliet has magic light-based knives at her literal fingertips. It sounds confusing but also intriguing, which is the perfect description for the first two episodes of “Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger,” which premiered Thursday night on Freeform.


Cloak & Dagger also makes a key issue of racism, as Tyrone Johnson (aka Cloak) watches his unarmed teenage brother Billy get shot by a white police officer in the pilot. This isn’t new ground for a superhero show — Cloak & Dagger follows plotlines devoted to racism or police brutality on Luke Cage, Krypton, and Supergirl — but the new series is refreshing in the way it makes the story deeply personal. Billy’s death comes to define the Johnson family. Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) is saddled with the burden of living up to all his parents’ hopes, given that he’s their only surviving child. He’s also a constant reminder of their worst fears made manifest. He’s a literal choir boy, trying to be the perfect model of a young black man while suppressing a simmering anger that he knows could too easily get him killed.

Racism and drug abuse are the series’s initial dominant issues, but Cloak & Dagger also brings up sexual assault, corporate malfeasance, and suicidal depression. The willingness to get dark and heavy makes it similar to Marvel’s Netflix shows Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, but showrunner Joe Pokaski, whose writing credits include Heroes and Daredevil, doesn’t feel the need to use the ensemble approach of past MCU shows. There are no sidekicks who can’t hold their own scenes or plots made up so minor characters have something to do when the heroes are out saving the day. Keeping the network around the heroes thin makes them feel isolated and emphasizes the importance of their coming together. The show’s writing is crisp, avoiding clichés and bringing surprises.


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