Episode 4: Call/Response
Directed by: Ami Canaan Mann
Written by: Christine Boylan & Marcus J. Guillory
It would be easy to write off “Call/Response” as jarringly fragmented in its overall momentum, as the entire episode is split throughout between three different story beats. But on further analysis, there is significant depth to what is being executed.
The story shifts between our dysfunctional duo’s daily lives, and their nightly rendezvous where they hash things out. In talking through their problems and discussing the visions each of them had of the other from the previous episode, it becomes a roller-coaster of epiphanies and self-discovering. In fact, these parts function systemically like group therapy. As mentioned previously, an undercurrent throughout Cloak & Dagger so far has been the issue of survivor’s guilt and how people cope with it. It’s only through this interaction that Tyrone and Tandy learn from and about each other to become better apt at life, forging optimistically bonds with those in their own lives.
The individual moments are accompanied by the “father-figures” of our titular protagonists – that being Tyrone’s biological father, the honest and hardworking Otis Johnson (played by Miles Mussenden) and Tandy’s mom’s married boy-toy and attorney Greg Pressfield (portrayed by Gary Weeks). Tyrone’s arc is focused on taking up the mantle of his late older brother, with an eye for justice rather than revenge. Tandy’s arc is Roxxon-centric, which takes a surprising turn near the end, but the aftermath of which is handled quite poorly.
Tyrone and Tandy’s paths seem very separate and distinct, and the skills and encouragement gleaned from these nightly exchanges only serves to fulfill their own goals rather than really bring them together. Things get a bit conflagrant at the end as this episode pulls the bandage off their “whoa-is-me” mentality and the contemporary stereotypical perceptions of a black youth and a (once privileged) white girl in New Orleans. For two characters who literally personify light-dark / black-white, there are many shades of grey to their personality and how they see themselves and their predicament – which may be eye-opening for audience members.
Outside of a mismanaged plot twist, this episode functions amicably in exploring these real-world psychological issues of trauma, guilt, grief and self-loathing with a level of maturity and lack of exploitative behavior which is this series’ greatest strength above all else. It is all wrapped in the veneer of this “street-level” Marvel property, which may have done the series a disservice, as their powers only serve the purpose of a McGuffin.
Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.