Say what you will, Marvel has generally done a good job at telling stories. (with a few exceptions)
Cloak and Dagger featured our heroic duo facing great difficulties in their pursuit of an enemy, and, with the season finale incoming, things get really bad at the end of this week’s episode.
Agents of Shield had two sets of heroes trying to find and help each other, culminating in a sweet, happy moment that is mercilessly crushed into oblivion. The story does not end just yet, after all! Mwahahah!
2.09 “Blue Note”
Last episode ended with Tandy weeping to see that her mother fell far off the wagon. This one began partially by showing us, just for a moment, that Andre has a section of records in his shop under the name, “Melissa Bowen.”
Andre is one of those villains where each “worst” thing you know about him gets surpassed by the next thing you learn about him.
His story begins with his music. He loved it, and he loved that little bit of power it gave him over what others felt. Even as a normal, regular musician, he was selfish, focused only on what he might achieve, and risking the fate of his band without so much as a second thought. He always aspired to a kind of godhood, wanting to be counted among the greats, so, the very first time they performed in this particular club, he overrode his band-mate’s objections, his cautious apprehension, and did something daring which, if it failed, could have gotten them booted from the club forever. But he was focused only on himself and what he wanted, and even recorded it on vinyl himself, just for the idea of having that record placed among great company.
That’s when the headaches began.
When his migraines took his music, and the ensuing power and glory of it, from him, he was ready to take his own life. Then he woke up, and, in his first introduction to his new abilities, fed on the nurse as she cared for and comforted him. That was Lia, and it took him all of two seconds to decide to take and use her, manipulating her from within her own head even as he fed on her. He promised hope and delivered despair, and used her to deliver that same despair to so many others.
That was the entire reason they went into their occupation, supposedly helping people, so he could feed on any and all of them however he wanted. The entire operation of kidnapping girls, drugging them, transporting them in ambulances, using them as whores, that was all incidental to his main pursuit of collecting and feeding on despair, just so he could blow a freaking horn again.
And now, with what Auntie Chantelle told him about the possibilities of godhood, now we see what Andre is like when he isn’t just getting by, but truly hungry, even salivating. To that end, he not only feeds on Lia, but on all the girls he’s come into contact with for eight years. He strips them all bare and leaves them empty. All of them, all at once. That’s dozens of girls he’s used in his little business venture, and all the rest that he so much as shook hands with when they came to him for counseling.
Including Tandy’s mother.
It seems she didn’t simply go on a binge and vanish. Andre’s feeding on her, too.
Tandy and Ty don’t even know the half of it, but they know they need to find Andre and stop him. It would have worked best, probably, if Ty had been able to find Andre the same way he found Mikayla in an ambulance and Tandy at the hotel, by getting help from Papa Mystery, but the prayer goes unanswered this time. Perhaps there’s some rule about the loa interfering with each other, even with just potential loa. Or maybe Papa Mystery knows some reason to let Andre do what he wants before stopping him, like how the Avengers apparently had to lose to Thanos before they could beat him.
Either way, they got nothing.
But, Ty has an idea. He doesn’t like leaving Tandy alone, not after what she’s just been through, and not with her mother gone, but she insists. So, they pursue different trails in pursuit of their enemy.
Ty’s trail led him through the gangs of New Orleans. They know the streets, they know their customers, and they know Andre. He goes to that gangster from before, the one he saved and who chose to help protect Adina in return, instead of hurting her. He follows his quarry for a bit, phoning his mother in the process. She tries to reassure him when he asks about Connors, but he hears it in her voice, and pops up to look in on her in person. She says he’s all right, but he sees her burning the bloody newspapers, getting rid of the evidence. She can’t admit it to him out loud, but he already knows: she killed him.
Returning to the gangster, Ty makes his approach in a cafe, as the man is looking at a picture of Luke Cage. It turns out, he can’t read, but he’s heard of Luke, and he sees the man as… well, like himself, only better. He has that little streak of decency in him, even considering what he does to get by, and he wants to do better, even if he won’t admit to it. There may be some hope for him, though I doubt it will be easy.
Ty uses him to pass a message to his superiors: he wants to meet.
Tandy’s idea is to hitch herself to Brigid/Mayhem’s wagon. That works out almost immediately, despite Mayhem’s insistence that she’ll only slow her down. Lia was found, not quite dead yet, and they go and get her. The paramedics, of course, don’t want to let them take her, but Tandy uses their own compassion against them, instantly coming up with the idea that they can’t take her in an ambulance. Mayhem fills in that her abusive boyfriend took girls with the use of private ambulances, and Tandy tells them it would be a huge trigger if she woke up in an ambulance with just these men around her. So, for her own good, they give Lia to Tandy and Mayhem, expecting them to take her to a hospital.
They take her to the church, fully intending to interrogate and kill her, whatever answers they do or don’t get. Mayhem doesn’t want to, at least, not until they get answers, but the two of them basically agree. They’re on the side of wrath at that point, on delivering consequence to someone who has done wrong, and Tandy even has a personal stake in it, after Lia tricked her, took her, drugged her, dressed her like a doll, and sold her (a fate she escaped only by the serendipitous skin of her teeth).
Lia doesn’t wake up. She just keeps humming four notes, and Mayhem fills in that all of Andre’s victims are doing the same. A number of them are just gone, like Tandy’s mother and Mikayla, and any who they haven’t lost track of just sits there, practically comatose, humming these same four notes again and again. Andre’s handiwork on display as he feeds on all of them at once.
Tandy goes into Lia’s head, and finds her surrounded by darkness, the same as that one girl she entered before. But now there’s the scratching sound of a record player, too, one that’s finished a record, but is still playing. And there’s a door, like the one they found in the mind of Kevin Hess, and needed to enter together in order to pull him out of an eternal nightmare.
Tandy calls Ty to help with that, and while his plan with the gangs is in motion, he has the time. So they go in together. They start at the surface, where it’s all empty, and they go down.
Next level: the moment when Andre is using his mojo on Lia to convince her to come with him. He’s in her head, preying on her and using lies and half-truths, the same as he did with Tandy, to break her, and Ty, to convince him to stop looking for Tandy. She used to be someone else entirely, a selfless, giving soul, until Andre got into her and stripped it all bare. There’s another door, however, leading further down.
Third level: Lia’s hope. It’s still there, buried deep, deep down, no matter what Andre has done to her. She sees herself when she was younger. She sees herself playing… I think that’s the cello, or the bass. I’m not quite familiar enough with instruments to tell at a glance, but the point is, she’s playing, on a stage, in a huge theater, and her parents are there. She plays, and they love it, and there is applause from a phantom audience.
That was Lia’s hope: to play music.
Tandy gets an idea then. It’s simple enough: take Lia’s hope that’s buried deep under layers within her own mind, and, I assume, take it back to the surface and give it back to her. Andre feeds on despair, which is the absence of hope, so, to combat that… just give Lia back her own hope.
It might have worked, but Andre noticed something happening. It’s easy to notice the appearance of a new record in his shop now that he’s stripped it bare of all the rest. That takes him straight back to Lia’s mind, to the moment where he corrupted and stole her, as Tandy and Ty are passing through the second level. It’s a surprise confrontation, and one where they can’t hurt each other, so it’s a war of words.
Andre tells them that he wants an audience. He aspires to literal godhood now, but he needs a huge power boost to get there. That’s why he’s feeding on all his previous victims, and so thoroughly. He needs a big audience, and he’s going to take it, first with his victims, and then with all of New Orleans. He’s going to roll his pain, his burdens, off onto everyone else and let them take it, so he can live free of pain. That is his ascension, and it begins now.
It’s funny, in a way. Andre is perfectly an antithesis to the god I worship, of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The one wants others to bear his burdens, and the other wants to bear ours. The one is self-centered and selfish, and the other gives all for us. And the one tries to escape pain through power, whining about how he doesn’t deserve it, while the other uses power to take pain from others. I didn’t expect to find such a powerful resonance of this here.
On the note of Andre not deserving his pain, the truth is, everybody endures pain they didn’t earn. What sets people apart is how they deal with it. Some never deserve it, but endure it well, even help others who are similarly suffering. Others spread the pain, like Andre, and with what they do, one can argue that they earn their pain retroactively. I can’t speak on his behavior beforehand, but even if he didn’t deserve his pain before, he certainly deserves it now.
Tandy and Ty emerge from Lia’s mind, or get kicked out, with little information about Andre’s location, but now they know his intention. If they don’t stop him, then what happened to Lia will happen to the entire city.
Being highly motivated, Ty goes to his meeting with the gang leaders. They set up an ambush, of course, but he ambushes the ambushers, takes them down in short order, then whisks the leaders of both major gangs to a rooftop. He is a shadow, impossible to catch and kill, but fully capable of dealing with them, as he demonstrates effectively.
The first order of business is to assert his dominance, and this he does by laying down some rules, which they will follow if they know what’s good for them. They’re free to sell to people for their own personal use, as Ty can’t keep people from finding drugs if they really want them, but it’s forbidden, as of now, to sell to people who use the drugs on others against their will. The gang leaders protest, but Ty doesn’t care what it does to their business and whatnot: these people are off limits. Period. No negotiation.
With that done, Ty gets to the more immediate business at hand: finding Andre.
At the same time, Tandy faces down against Mayhem, and against her own judgmental attitude, and her desire for revenge. Mayhem wants to kill Lia now, but Tandy has learned that Lia is just another victim. Mayhem declares that all the bad guys have had crap happen to them, but that doesn’t justify what they do. True, but it’s not usually a case of someone going inside their heads and stripping them of all their hope, literally changing their minds from the inside out. Even when it isn’t however, there is a reason why we restrain justice with bonds of legality, just as we restrain judgment with bonds of mercy.
As it happens, Tandy has not truly been certain in the choice of killing Lia. Now she knows what lies beneath the surface, she is certain in the choice to protect her. And since when has Tandy, having found a place to make a stand, ever backed down?
The women fight, and they both have advantages. Mayhem is stronger, more deadly, and trained. Tandy is clever and determined and has formidable weaponry of her own. It ends with Mayhem’s claws at Tandy’s throat, and Tandy’s dagger at her heart, before Mayhem finally relents. She walks away, but tells Tandy that whatever Lia does, whatever hurt she does from that moment on, is on her.
We’ll see how that works out, I imagine.
Finally, Ty gets Andre’s location, as a gangster overheard him talking about going to his old stomping grounds, a club, the one he got that first migraine when he was playing on the stage. Ty and Tandy go there, and they agree that they can’t let Andre rise, not at all, not ever. There’s only one way to be truly certain of that. So, they will kill him. And though Tandy is the one with the dagger, his death isn’t only going to be on her. They will do it, and bear it, together.
And so they enter… the wrong club. They wonder if the gangsters lied to them, but it turns out this one was a rebuilt version of the old one, which burned down. So, small detour, that, but they find the right one. And they enter…
To find Andre, playing his horn as he stands over the drawing of his symbol, which is glowing, piece by piece, as he reaches the crescendo of his song. They find he has his audience, his victims, including Mikayla and Melissa Bowen. Their way is hindered, and they only have a moment, so Ty has Tandy throw a dagger at him, which he teleports to the stage to hit Andre, and he falls to the stage.
But it’s too late.
In his record shop, the door opens, and Andre walks through, to the sound of someone introducing him to a crowd.
In the real world, he vanishes, and so does everyone in the burnt club he was making to listen to him. Tandy and Ty, they have no idea what just happened. All they know is everyone around them is gone. And then, above the bustling city of New Orleans, there comes a sound from the night all around it.
A horn, playing a song.
Andre has risen. The leech has become a god of despair.
And he’s about to eat an entire city.
6.03 “Fear and Loathing on the Planet of Kitson”
Most of this episode is in space, as the title would indicate.
Fitz and Enoch are apparently wanted fugitives. It seems the whole time-traveling thing, resulting in Fitz’s future self dying a year ago while he is still alive elsewhere, is a big no-no to someone, namely the Chronicoms (if I got that name right). I’m starting to think they were the ones who attacked the ship with his cryopod on it, but that’s just very likely, not quite definite. From the look of things, I suspect they might not have left the job unfinished.
Being wanted, and not knowing the real reason why, yet, the duo is robbed the moment they set down on Kitson. The pair who rob them don’t turn them in, which they call “being nice,” and they also give them one chip to take to a local casino.
Casinos in general are a troublesome place. They serve intoxicating beverages and entice people into games of chance that they have very little chance of winning, and any unruly, disorderly behavior, or much of anything that could cost the casino enough money, is met with brute force. Now, take that idea, and apply it in outer space, which, by definition, is the most dangerous, hostile environment ever. Conclusion: never go to an alien casino.
But, Fitz and Enoch are desperate and driven into a corner. It’s either get cash at a casino, or make it at a brothel. …and a casino, it is!
We’ve caught some glimpses of this sort of thing in Guardians of the Galaxy and such, but this is the first time we’ve spent all that much time in such a place. This one demands that weapons and morals be checked at the entrance, both probably to protect the interests of the casino by limiting how much harm its patrons can do to it and each other. It also forbids synthetic beings, such as robots, androids, cyborgs, etc. As a Chronicom, Enoch fits the bill, but isn’t specifically mentioned, and he can fool any sensor. And in they go.
The two of them work well together, with Enoch providing the raw computing power while Fitz provides the guts (and to think that Fitz used to be the intellectual one in any partnership). Enoch even admits, in a roundabout way, that he’s actually having fun on their adventures, and he considers Fitz his best friend. Fitz is slower to admit it, but, after this last year, Enoch has actually grown on him, and he can’t overlook how helpful he is. So, oddly, Enoch is his best friend, too.
Unfortunately, a few things go wrong. They get a few more chips with one bet, then sit down to play a proper game, and Enoch is ruling at that game, but one of the other players reads him quickly, seeing that he’s good at cards, but lousy at people. Fitz tries to warn him, but Enoch fails to heed him. He gets played, and loses everything.
That leaves one option, outside the brothels. It’s a game of pure statistical chance, no need to be good with people. Unfortunately, it involves using Fitz himself as collateral. If he loses, he’s sold into slavery. And if he gets a particular result, he is killed on the spot. Oh, and he’s locked into his chair so he can’t get away.
Enoch monitors the game and signals Fitz with a high-pitched auditory sound that only he can hear. It’s working… but then crap hits the fan again.
Which takes us over to Daisy, Simmons, Piper, and Davis.
Their welcome to whatever-the-planet-is that Fitz was going to, and which they barely missed him at, goes little better than Fitz and Enoch’s on Kitson. They’re arguing, of course, and Daisy does a pretty good job with her team. Tempers flare, both sides having points, but Simmons is far more out of line at the moment. The only reason they don’t turn around and go straight back to Earth at that very moment is because they’ve already been docked and a customs official insists on coming aboard for an inspection.
Said inspection goes wrong when a Hunter Chronicom invades. Set on Fitz and Enoch, but especially Fitz, he takes Daisy and Piper down with one stunning shot each. The customs official tries to talk the Hunter down, saying that the remaining crew will likely submit without a fight. Simmons proves that wrong by going for a gun, but Davis clocks the Hunter on the head first.
A little discussion later, they know they’re not just close to finding Fitz, they’re hot on his heels and just barely missed him. That sends them off to Kitson, where they give the two thieves who robbed Fitz and Enoch their second introduction to Terran manners: Daisy breaks a couple fingers. That points them to the casino, but Davis grabs some puffs, as they’re called, and everyone except Piper has some. Fitz was immediately drawn to them as well, but Enoch told him they weren’t meant for Terran consumption, and certainly not on an empty stomach.
Result, Daisy and Simmons go into the casino a leeeeettle bit trippy, which soon becomes a whole great big lot of absolutely tripped out of their minds. The things they do there, within half an hour or so, shall live eternally in the stories they tell forever afterward, and that is all I’m going to say on the matter.
So, as they’re weeping and confessing and admiring and whatever else crosses their mind, whilst lingering under a table, they start hearing Enoch’s high-pitched signals to Fitz. Then they hear a similar signal, but worse, and prolonged.
Davis is so tripped out on the Zephyr that its easy for the Hunter to escape and overcome him (furthering the argument for never, ever doing drugs, ever). He gets to the computer and contacts his people before making his own departure. As Davis shot at him at the same moment, he hit the fuse box behind him and destroyed it.
Thus, the Chronicom Hunters invade the casino.
Before their arrival, they send a signal, high-pitched, to disable Enoch, turning him off. The timing was terrible, and he and Fitz are outed, taken to be dealt with by Mr. Kitson. We never meet him, at least, not yet, because things go to crap first. The duo use the sulfur in a dead alien’s blood to blow the door open, but that’s after Fitz talks Enoch up a bit. Enoch is, to say the least, a bit down, because he realizes he’s been decommissioned, and this is swiftly depressing. Only his friendship with Fitz gets him up and about again.
Meanwhile, Daisy and Simmons hold off three more Hunters. Daisy tries quaking them first, but misses wildly until Simmons aims her properly. Daisy keeps it to fisticuffs after that, and, it must be said, taking on two standing Hunters, while still high as a kite, is no small thing. They are so lucky she was high, or she’d have demolished them. As is, she stands triumphant… albeit by grabbing a table to hold herself steady.
Simmons tries to talk her way past a guard, but she, too, is still high. Fortunately, the door blows from within and the guard goes down.
And there they are, Simmons and, emerging through the smoke, Fitz. Overoyed, and surprised.
…and it ends instantly as the first Hunter we met pops in, grabs Fitz, and pops out in an eye blink.
…so… freaking… close!
Have I mentioned how storytellers need to be sadists sometimes?
Enoch is left to be bemused by the sight of Simmons as he steps through the door.
So, it was a most lively evening for everyone involved. Now the girls need to get back to the Zephyr, which needs repairs, with Enoch, and go after Fitz, whom the Chronicoms have in their hands now.
This would be a great time to go back to Earth to regroup and get some reinforcements, I’d say.
Speaking of: the other Coulson, who shall hereafter be called Sarge, and his biggest flunkie, the one whose name I missed, set off their device. Whatever it does in technical terms, in practical terms it seems to locate their targets, whoever or whatever that is, for whatever reason.