And it’s the last week of the Marvel one-two punch for awhile.
Cloak and Dagger had an excellent season finale, wherein they, and those closest to them, faced the darkness, and their own issues.
And things are heating up on Agents of Shield, with the introduction of a new, menacing threat.
2.10 “Level Up”
That was a much better finale than they had last season!
Andre, fledgling god of despair, is gathering more and more power unto himself, in the form of gathering more and more people into his audience, collecting them like records. His song floats upon the wind, heard by some, heard by many, but not all, and those that hear it have little chance to remark upon it before they… vanish. Everyone is susceptible, everyone, be they murdering robbers, police officers, scientists, whatever. People are vanishing, taken by despair.
Tandy and Tyrone are left standing over Andre’s body, now emptied of his soul. Their only chance, they know, is to get some help in the form of Evita. Ty is reluctant, but Tandy insists, and Evita hears their entire discussion through her front door. She’s completely unavailable for anything romantic, probably even much in the way of friendship, but she’ll absolutely help save the city from the phantom god that is taking people away.
Reading the cards, Evita looks to the past, present, and future. In the past, the loa allowed certain responsible mortals to join their ranks. In the present, Andre’s gained the power without the responsibility (apparently the system is not foolproof after all). In the future, there is only despair, despair, and more despair. That is all he will ever do. To stop him, Tandy and Ty both need to go where most can’t into that shadow place of the supernatural world.
To which end, Evita uses a nail gun to strap Ty’s hoodie in place, in the center of one of those mystical sketches, so he can create a portal that he can actually enter alongside Tandy. Ty is uncertain without his hoodie, but Evita chides him about that. He’s humble, which isn’t a bad thing, but it can be overdone. At this moment, he needs to step up with the attitude of an emperor. That is, if he hopes to defy a god.
Evita anchors the portal in the real world. It’s time sensitive, and linked to the burning of a candle. When the candle goes out, the link is broken, and the two of them could be trapped forever in the other place. So, they need to get in, get the job done, and get back out as quickly as absolutely possible. No pressure!
They get in easy enough, into the great darkness, lit only by Tandy’s shining dagger. But when they reach the gas station, they find things broken and chaotic. Papa Mystery, or Legba, is nowhere to be found, which is unsettling. He’s an enigma, but he’s been helpful to them, and he clearly has an interest in doing good. That he’s gone is alarming, and the bloody fridge doesn’t help. Worse, there are records, broken and shattered, lying all over the place, like Andre’s record shop vomited them up. And worst of all, they can’t even use the looking glass. It’s been broken, and I highly doubt that was accidental.
Unable to get there the quick and easy way, Ty elects for another way. He teaches Tandy about Papa’s mystical symbol, has her make it with pennies from a pile. He guides her, in this way, and bolsters her up, as she has done for him. And it works: they find themselves at the mall.
At the very entrance, they find the doors broken from the inside, and more records all over the floor, and on the way out. That, as it turns out, is a trail. The records are left in the wake of… something… a creature beholden to Andre’s power, one that serves his will and purpose. I’m betting this thing is what broke the looking glass and left the records at the gas station, working against the divine pairing, as it made its way to the mortal world. Specifically, to Evita.
Here’s a lesson in tactics: when something is both vital and vulnerable, guard it!
Evita has no physical power of her own, like Ty and Tandy do, yet she is essential to their mission. It makes all the diabolical sense in the world for Andre to want to remove her from the equation, and with his godlike power, he set that in motion instantaneously. She is all alone in the church, chanting, trying to protect the candle’s fragile flame, when it, whatever it is, arrives. A shadow, a darkening, a wind within the walls of the church, footsteps nearby, approaching, circling, coming up behind her…
But it seems the supernatural powers that be already crafted a champion to defend her and the flame: Brigid O’Reilly. What better warrior against despair, which consumes and leaves all things stagnant in its wake, than Mayhem?
She was alerted to the situation when she went to see Mina Hess for a CAT scan. They were talking while her brain was being scanned and analyzed, and it was a fairly pointed and poignant conversation for them, but it was cutoff partway, with Mina vanished, courtesy of Andre. Whatever Brigid did next, it led her to the church, and with not a second to spare. That shadow was scarcely a step away from killing Evita when it met Brigid’s fist instead.
So, Evita guards the candle and keeps chanting while Brigid guards Evita and the candle both. It’s an unusual fight, with a thing that coalesces into a fully-armed swat officer, and then there’s two of them, and then three. Still, Brigid holds the line and kicks butt, to the point that the thing has to try and outwit her, striking at her emotional heart instead of her physical one: it takes the form of Fuchs.
I will admit, for a moment I was not sure Brigid was up to it when she was fighting something that looked like Fuchs. It’s a cathartic moment, though, and punctuated by Brigid’s decision. She misses Fuchs, and she’s sorry to do this, but she pulls the pin from a grenade at his belt and sends him back to blow alongside the other two shadow cops.
And still the fight goes on, with Brigid all but overwhelmed, and Evita having to pitch in with that nail gun of hers.
Meanwhile, in the other place, shadow world, mall of the gods, Tandy and Ty make their way towards the record shop. More records are scattered all over the place (the trail left by the shadow), indicating that the entire world is falling out of balance, and quickly. Tandy knows the way, and they pass through the mirrors, emerging on the escalator as Cloak and Dagger in full. Then it’s to the shop, which is now empty, and into the back area, the seat of Andre’s godlike power, where he plays to his captive audience of past and present victims, holding them hypnotized in despair.
Andre notices them, of course, and, oh, is he ever so confident. And why not? He’s a god now, as he sees it, capable of so much more than these two touched teenagers, and he thinks it a small thing to snuff out their feeble resistance. He does that simply enough: by making them face their darkness.
For Tandy, it’s her father, and everything she knows about him now.
For Ty, it’s himself, the perfection he always strove for but fell so very short of.
The confrontations overlap, as most everything with these two has, thus far.
Tandy’s anger at her father, Ty’s sorrow for what he’s lost and failed to gain, Tandy’s judgment, stemming from her fixation on her father, Ty’s guilt at bringing the man his mother was going to murder to her, Tandy’s isolation, Ty’s mistakes… it all overlaps, and they’re only able to get their footing by calling out to each other. They are, after all, sitting next to each other in Andre’s club, not so distant from each other, and they’ve long since watched each others’ backs. They can rely on each other, and they do again, now, finding each other through the maze of their despair.
No matter how Andre tells them to stop fighting. Not only does he not really know them very well, but what’s it say when the supposed god is being inconvenienced by their resistance? Not much of a god, that.
When they meet up, they make a smart play, a clever move: they switch dance partners. They are, after all, not alone in facing their issues, and they’ve gotten very good at dealing with each others’ crap.
It works, fairly well, it seems. Ty has Tandy’s father at his mercy as he declares the truth of Tandy’s strength, her heroic spirit, despite what he did to her. Tandy hobbles the perfect Ty, condemning him as lesser than the genuine article, who has stood up over and over despite being hammered down continually.
This, evidently, does not please Andre. He deals them another blow, separating them more fully and forcing them to deal with their darkness themselves, instead of pushing it off onto each other.
Tandy finds herself back in the hotel, and the man who enters is her father.
Ty finds himself in the cloak-filled camp shop, dealing with himself, his own worst enemy.
This is the moment where they finally overcome their crap, at least to a point. Sure, they can lean on each other, but, in the end, truly dealing with it all, that comes down to them, individually, without support. And you know how they finally do it? They let go. They let it all go.
For Tandy, that means using a glowing sword instead of a dagger to back the specter of her father literally into a wall. She can’t escape what he’s done, and how he will always be part of her, but she gets to decide how big that part is. She is going to accept it, and move on, leaving it in the past, where it belongs. And she is going to leave him at the bottom of her list of what’s really important to her.
For Ty, it’s facing himself, truly. It means facing down the expectations which weren’t ever really real. It means facing his anger, and the truth of it, and commit to doing something to make things better, instead of worse. Perfect Tyrone is just a ghost he himself conjured out of nothing… so, he lets go of it, and away it goes.
They let go of the past, and level up for the future.
And with that, they snap out of Andre’s power, and face down a god.
Tandy daggers Andre’s horn, the tool of his power, and, when he catches Ty by the throat, shines light to aggravate the old migraines. Andre is stunned for a moment, but standing as Tandy throws more daggers, but into the audience this time, rousing Mina, Mikayla, and Melissa with hope. Another burst of light, and hope, has Andre reeling, searching for his weapon of despair, but Ty has that: his horn.
I could be wrong, but I think the fight in the real world gets even more fierce that moment, as Andre strives to cut off any hope of their escape. He thinks he still has the upper hand in his lair, with Tandy seemingly vanished, and Ty out of other tricks… but then Ty releases Tandy, with a shining sword, from his shadows, plunging it into Andre’s chest. With the roused women grabbing Andre from behind to hold him in place, they have him pinned where he is… a supposed god, at the mercy of the mortals he victimized.
That gives Ty and Tandy a chance to enter his mind and cut his power off at the source. She picks his favorite record, the song he was playing when he thought to become as a god, and scratches it up. Andre’s power is broken.
People reappear in the real world, but the divine pairing find themselves back in the record shop, as it’s clearly about to collapse into nothing. They run, as anyone sane would, and make it back to Evita and Brigid, whose assailants have vanished. Evita has to be cold towards Ty, just packing up, blowing out the candle, leaving without a word. But Tandy and Brigid sort of come to unspoken terms, and it turns out Tandy needs a little favor from her.
The day is won. But the work goes on.
Mina goes back to work with her mice. Lia is picking up trash. The priest moves into the empty church. Andre’s body is buried, with Evita drawing his symbol on the tomb, likely to keep him that way, as Ty briefly looks in on her. Ty’s parents are back together, as the news declares the fall of a corrupt senator and the exoneration of their son. Brigid gets back to work, too, though she has the experience of hanging Connors’ body in the gun range for the cops to find, complete with a sign that says “guilty.” They don’t look too torn up about it. And the gangster who Ty formed an unusual semi-friendship with is seen, with another gangster, refusing to do business with a guy who has girls drugged up in the back seat. I imagine Ty might have dealt with that guy as well, rather than let him hurt those girls, but we don’t see it.
But for Tandy and Ty, they have work to do. Melissa helps her daughter pack up and leave home, this time on good terms. She gets on a bus, and Ty joins her. Whatever the future holds, they’ll face it together, and, as it happens, they have their sights set on helping people all over the place, starting with a case of a bunch of girls’ bodies washing up on shore somewhere.
Cloak and Dagger, off to be heroes, leaving New Orleans behind.
Not a bad finale, that, and a worthy capstone to a riveting season. 🙂
6.04 “Code Yellow”
Well, things are certainly starting to come into a clearer light, if nothing else.
Deke Shaw, it turns out, has spent his last year heading up a start-up company. He is shamelessly cashing in on everything to do with his experiences with Shield. First and foremost, this includes the Framework, as a new virtual reality gaming system, with its debut game, Remorrath Rumble, featuring the alien raiders and the Kree as adversaries… and a sexually-stylized Daisy as the super-hot damsel in distress.
When the real Daisy finds out about that, something tells me Deke is going to be in for it. But, moving on.
Deke intends to change the world, and make a profit. Some ideas are cool, and others are so very stupid, like the mushroom pellets. I can see those, or the format of them, at least, being used to survive harsh environments like the end of the world, space travel, and interstellar colonization, and it could even be used to combat starvation on Earth, but in normal, everyday life, that is full of prosperous people and delicious, filling food of every variety? Um, no. But I digress.
Basically, Deke is stealing every bit of technology he can from his Shield days.
Deke is going about his usual day, when an assistant tells him there’s a strange guy wanting to see him. That turns out to be Sarge, and he only hesitates in killed Deke outright because Deke thinks he’s Coulson. This intrigues Sarge. He wants answers. So he tries to play along, and Deke does plenty of talking all on his own, especially thinking he’s had a Shield mind-wipe after whatever miracle procedure they must have used to save his life. But Deke is not entirely stupid, and he picks up on a few things. He confirms it with a little test about “Agent Doug,” and then hits Sarge’s flesh-and-blood hand with something sharp. Clever, but he didn’t get a chance to think beyond the first step of that plan.
Fortunately for him, he’s really clever when it comes to his own survival. He purchases some time, dodging about, evading Sarge and his three goons. Then one of his best friends and coworkers turns out to be a Shield agent, sent to keep an eye on him. That brings Mack and May and a well-armed team to the rescue, pouncing on their good luck.
Deke’s new “totally fab” social media guru of a girlfriend, named Sequoia, is caught in the crossfire when she walks in all unknowing, but Deke, I will give him credit, steps up, albeit with some urging from her, to save her. Mack takes down one of Sarge’s guys, and the bigger one actually falls to Deke’s ploy, luring him into the Framework room and plunging him into game.
Between the stolen tech and the stylized Daisy, Deke is definitely still in hot water, but, at the very least, he’s still alive. Though, his girl may be going with that agent who posed as his best friend before long.
May went after the girl, Snowflake, and completely owned her in hand-to-hand. Then Sarge came up and held a gun on her. So, Shield got two of Sarge’s crew, and Sarge an Snowflake got May. Not, of course, like May actually went with them involuntarily. No way she’d be taken that easily without actually wanting to. My guess, she’s after information.
As for what this is all about, that seems to be on the way to being properly explained, but in a tragic way.
This show is not kind at all to its cast, most of the time. Storytelling in general, I have said so many times now, involves a bit of sadism, in putting the characters through absolute Hell the moment we start to love them.
Agent Keller seems like a pretty stand-up fellow. I dislike the tangle between him, Yo-Yo, and Mack, but he was in favor of coming clean, instead of running around behind anyone’s back. He was about to inform Mack of the thing with him and Yo-Yo, but Mack stopped him. He said, without actually saying, that he already knew about Keller and Yo-Yo, and so long as they weren’t compromised in the field, there was no need to act on it. So, with Keller not being compromised, there was no need for Mack to officially know, as of yet.
Keller spoke with Yo-Yo about that. He picked up on Mack’s lingering feelings for Yo-Yo, because he thought she should know, so she could make her own choice, fully aware. He strikes a balance between being willing to fight for her (emotionally, anyway, because he’d prefer avoiding fisticuffs with Mack), and respecting her freedom to choose. He clearly wants her to be happy. There’s something endearing about that.
So, obviously, they decided to make us like Keller just in time to kill him off.
That is due to whatever is going on with Sarge and his crew. They find and kill a random, ordinary man. They plunge a blue knife into his heart, and crystalline protrusions emerge from his flesh. Seems like a simple, if unusual, murder, but it’s not so simple.
Shield notices them on the cameras, and claims the body. The autopsy soon reveals that the man, who suddenly left his family, was possessed by some kind of alien creature. Nestled with the chest, it looked like a strange bat. Medical examination revealed that it was flooding the man’s body with acid, turning him into a walking, exploding zombie. It, not the blue knife, made those protrusions in its final moments… which turn out not to be so final when the knife is removed and it comes back to life.
Obviously, they try to catch it, but that goes terribly wrong when it flies into Keller’s mouth, forcing its way in and down, just as it must surely have done to that poor man. It’s an agonizing experience for Keller, and his friends… they just don’t have the means to save him. Sedative backfires, anesthesia fails, and when they try to cut into him to remove the bat even while he’s awake, it burns to touch him. They even try putting him into an isolation unit to contain a possible detonation, but the creature stops them along the way, warping Keller’s body into a mass of explosive crystals, about to detonate…
…when Yo-Yo plunges the blue knife into Keller’s chest.
He is dead, and he died in a particularly prolonged and unsettling way.
So, it would appear that Sarge and his team are fighting the good fight, in their way. They’re hunting things like that alien bat, which possesses people and uses them as bombs. Undoubtedly, the heartbreaking scene with Keller is one they have experienced a number of times, and that sort of thing will warp anyone.
Yet, they are far more brutal, bloody, and cold-blooded than they need to be, which cannot be justified with their talk of reincarnation. And worse, that blue knife apparently failed to actually kill the bat, and they hunted Deke, who is perfectly bat-free, so they’re not even doing it with proper competence, are they? That makes all the blood they spill, which is bad enough on its own, even worse for being both unnecessary and in vain. Two good men are dead instead of one, and they nearly added a third, because they messed up somehow. Imagine if they’d actually worked with Shield, for instance, instead of killing everyone in their path.
Things are heating up on Earth, and it looks like they’ll be doing so in space again too, next week!