Cloak & Dagger S01E09 “Back Breaker” REVIEW

Cloak & Dagger S01E09 “Back Breaker” REVIEW

0 comments 📅27 July 2018, 10:50

Releasing Fridays on Amazon Prime in the UK
Jeff Woolnough
 Niceole R. Levy & Peter Calloway

Essential Plot Points:

  • Evita’s Auntie marks the streets with sigils, mapping something. She finishes and finds herself staring at one of Mina’s heat release valves…
  • At school, Father Delgado is exploring the hero’s arc in an English lesson while Evita listens.
  • At church, Tandy burns her photos, grabs her cash and gets high.
  • At her apartment, O’Reilly silently weeps as Fuchs’ body is taken away. Then she sees directional blood spatter on an umbrella and her training kicks back in. She finds the murder weapon, hands it to another cop and is walked out of her apartment.
  • Ty and his family are called in and told that O’Reilly has submitted a tape of Connors confessing to killing Billy. Ty was absolutely, irrevocably right and his parents don’t seem to care. Ty blows up at them but his dad insists he just get in the car and they’ll discuss it later.

  • Evita’s Auntie comes home. She’s exhausted, frightened and as Evita gets her a glass of water, she tells her that a crisis is coming and Roxxon is bringing it closer faster. And only The Divine Pairing can stop them. She begs Evita to ask her who the other half of the Divine Pairing is and Evita agrees on the condition her Auntie gets some rest.
  • Tandy is back rolling rich idiots. But this time, she’s not ripping them off, she’s getting high off their hopes. Because she’s just figured out she can’t just see hopes, she can steal them.
  • Father Delgado continues to discuss the hero’s journey as we see Ty and his mom both adrift in their daily lives. Ty finally loses it with a team mate, beating him senseless until he’s dragged away. His mom, realizing she’s about to do PR work for Roxxon, blows up at her staff.
  • Tandy visits Mina and finds Ivan is recuperating. She clearly plans on getting high off him.
  • Ty is called to Father Delgado’s office. He tears a strip off the younger man and uses an example from history (And very heavy books) to remind him the war he’s fighting is over.
  • Tandy is in bad shape at brunch. Mina offers her a job at Roxxon, holds out her hand and Tandy takes it and…slips inside her hopes.
  • Mina’s hopes are a swamp in bloom, a paradise. Tandy takes them, spits ‘NOW YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS’ and storms off. Traumatized, Mina watches as a bee lands on her kitchen window sill and squashes it with a book.
  • As Father Delgado continues to discuss the hero’s darkest hours, we see O’Reilly getting blind drunk. And apparently not seeing that the old police billy club on the wall is the exact same kind of club that killed Fuchs…
  • Tandy bails Liam out and is clearly still playing him.

  • Father Delgado tries to talk down Tyrone as Tandy brings Liam to the church. She tells him she wants a better life while Ty throws a punch at Father Delgado. Tandy kisses Liam, sees his hopes and it’s marrying her, in the church she squats in.
  • Ty sees Delgado’s darkness. A blood stained football. Dead bodies. A car accident and Father Delgado sitting in the driving seat, still drinking.
  • Tandy eats Liam’s hopes as the church begins to rumble and crack. Ty hears church bells and walks away from the crash to the church. He sees her feeding off Liam, asks what the Hell she’s doing and…both of them return to the real world. Delgado throws Ty out.
  • We see a montage of the club that killed Fuchs being built as Connors walks into Fuch’s wake. O’Reilly, blind drunk, gets up, pulls the club off the wall and attacks Connors with it. Connors beats her up and the other NOPD officers do nothing.
  • Evita asks Ty what’s going on and he’s about to explain when Tandy shows up. They face off, Tandy sees Evita’s hopes and moves to feed on them. Evita turns to her, says ‘NO’ and throws her out of the vision. Ty confronts Tandy and they tear into each other. Tandy confesses that she thinks her abusive behavior comes directly from her father. Tandy snaps, pulls a dagger on him and Ty storms off.
  • Evita carves a figure of Tandy as Delgado explains that myths are mirrors that we hold up to see ourselves more clearly. Tandy and Ty both walk the streets, lost in thought. Tandy sees herself and realizes just how bad she looks. She returns to the church to apologize to Liam and finds the place has been turned over. Liam’s taken her stash.
  • In the swamp, Mina is called out to a heat sink to fix a problem. There’s a sudden backwash, dark energy explodes over the two workers at the sink and they turn and attack her.
  • O’Reilly limps to her car and hears an APB saying a suspect in Fuchs’ murder has been identified.
  • At home, Ty’s mom explains why she acted like she did. She was terrified she’d lose both her sons. Ty rails against it, desperate to make the world what it should be not what it is. He admits that he doesn’t know who he is without the anger. His mom tells him she knows, and he inspires her every day.
  • And that’s when the police arrive to arrest him for Fuch’s murder.
  • Tandy goes home to try and make peace with her mother. She finds the same assassin that killed Greg. The woman gives Tandy three seconds to come out, Tandy pops a pair of daggers and…


The headlong sprint into the season finale begins here. And, Cloak & Dagger being the show it is, it does so in a way that’s measured, character-focused and visually stunning.

This is an almost improbably tidy piece of storytelling that brings players we’ve not seen for a while back, moves the overall plot along and deals with the consequences of last week’s episode. All of it wrapped up in that neat, self-aware commentary about the heroic myth by Father Delgado. In a lesser show that would feel like a cheap, unearned gag. Here it makes perfect sense as a series steeped in the history of it’s location and the histories of it’s characters drills down into the idea of the heroic myth deeper than Roxxon ever could.

For Tandy, that myth is embodied in the truth of who her father was. It leads her to the false belief that’s who she is too and a return to her predatory hustles of early in the season. Olivia Holt has done exceptional work throughout the show but here, as Tandy steps back into the darkness, she turns in the best performance we’ve seen her give. Bitter, angry, filled with self hatred and terrified that she can’t stop what she’s doing, she’s never pleasant to watch but you won’t take your eyes off her.

For Ty, that myth is the cloak he finds himself wrapped in, both by his parents and himself. Tandy has done everything wrong and ended up where she is. Ty has done everything right and ended up where he is and they’re united in how short changed they feel. The scene with his mom that closes the episode is a standout, and Gloria Reuben and Aubrey Joseph do an exceptional job expressing the almost unbearably complex emotional algebra of their situation. Ty’s parents haven’t done right by him but they’ve done so for good reasons. Whether any of them survive to explore what that means is anybody’s guess but it’s a complex, knotty piece of writing that’s as good as anything Black Lightning did in it’s first year and that’s high praise indeed.

For the rest of the cast, the heroic myth is more complex. Father Delgado hides from his past inside it, O’Reilly finds herself isolated because of her loyalty to it and Evita finds herself isolated from Ty because of her knowledge of it and what must happen to the Divine Pairing. None of them are happy, none of them are settled and none of them are safe. But all of them are part of another immensely strong hour of the best show Marvel make right now. Bring on the season finale.

The Good:

  • Father Delgado discussing the hero’s journey is a touch on the nose but in the exact way we like.
  • Stan Lee as a painting cameo!
  • Tandy getting high off other people’s hopes may be the bleakest thing non-Netflix MCU TV has ever done.
  • The entire cast. There’s not a single bum note here, from one line cameos to stars.
  • This is a great victory lap for the supporting cast too. Liam, Ty’s parents, Father Delgado and O’Reilly all get some excellent material.
  • The show’s willingness to take its leads to some very dark places continues to be one of its strongest points. Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph get some hard stuff to deal with here, and take it all on like the champs they are. Holt in particular runs headlong at being fundamentally unlikable here and does so in a manner that tells us Tandy knows what she’s doing, the effect it’s having and is terrified she can’t stop.

The Bad:

  • Honestly, once again, nothing. The show’s deliberately tight focus and methodical exploration of character in early episodes is really paying off now.

The Random:

  • Jeff Woolnough is a massively prolific director who has worked extensively on shows like Vikings, The Expanse and Perception among many others.
  • Niceole R. Levy also wrote ‘Princeton Offense’ this season. She’s written previously for Ironside, Allegiance and Shades of Blue.
  • Peter Calloway wrote ‘The Lotus Eaters’ and ‘Stained Glass’ this season. He’s previously written for Hellcats, Under the Dome and Legion.

Best Lines:

  • ‘Odysseus. Dorothy. Rick AND Morty. They’ve all answered the same call.’
  • ‘That my dear is why I stick to edibles.’-That may be the first offhand reference to recreational drug use we’ve seen in one of these shows.
  • ‘Why are you here?’
    ‘Cos I clocked Benny. Question is why isn’t he here?’
    ‘I’m not talking about the fight you got in. That’s not the real reason so I’ll ask again. WHY are you HERE?’
  • ‘The war is over but the battle still rages. Who’s gonna die in THAT one?’
  • ‘You had a white cop on tape confessing to killing a black kid have you been paying attention Tyrone? Because in the world that we live in that means absolutely NOTHING.’
  • ‘Why be perfect? Why not stand up for the world the way it SHOULD be?’
  • ‘When that tire blows and the rubber hits the road we will ask ourselves the question at the center of all myth. Who are we?’

Read all of our Cloak and Dagger reviews here

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