Review-Cloak and Dagger, Episode 9, Back Breaker

Written by Fabian Wood

July 30, 2018

Episode 9: Back Breaker

Directed by: Jeff Woolnough

Written by: Niceole R Levy & Peter Calloway

If there were two words to summarize the feeling and tone of “Back Breaker” it would be hopelessness and futility, which are deliberate choices here. Tandy quickly spirals into emotional callousness and regresses to all her old bad habits even harder over last week’s revelation about her father. This transforms her into a literal emotional vampire, mercilessly praying on those she has come to know. Meanwhile, Tyrone feels cheated by his parents for his long-awaited vindication following the indictment of Det Connors in connection with his brother’s murder, sending Tyrone on a petulant physical and verbal tirade, heartlessly ignoring the cost to those close to him and himself. It must be noted that this seeming one-eighty our protagonists make and the fact they have literally opposing takes on the matter isn’t a far-fetched undermining of the characters themselves, but the fact they will have to do this turnabout again in the next episode drains it of any lasting, if not meaningful, weight.

While interesting explorations in their own right, making some strong points about blind vengeance from a self-righteous point of view contrast with the complexities of a cruel, corrupt and insurmountable reality, “Back Breaker” is sadly stuffed with extra and disjointed padding. This, from the sloppy foreboding prelude that goes nowhere, and the O’Reilly segments with her confronted by the powerlessness of her circumstances, to the interwoven moments of meta-analysis of the classical “hero’s journey”, along with allegories of “crises of faith”, which are too on the nose for its own good.

“Back Breakers” – the penultimate episode – has definitely brought things to a head in the last moments of the episode, as abruptly as last week’s two epilogues. And yet, neither do Tandy’s and Tyrone’s stories or characters really come together or truly intersect. It will be a hurdle to cram another emotional, life-altering revelation into our dichotomous duo to set them on course, and fortify their alliance as “Cloak and Dagger” while giving a “definitive” (if not satisfactory) conclusion to their respective eight-year/ten-episode arcs; but it seems to be heading to a rushed, lackluster finale with woefully sub-par antagonist(s), leaving the mysterious Roxxon-Darkforce sub-plot simmering for next season.

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 video games. 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.

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