Warning: the following story contains spoilers from Cloak and Dagger‘s two-hour Season 2 premiere, “Restless Energy” and “White Lines.”
Marvel wasn’t kidding when it said that “Mayhem is coming.” Cloak and Dagger‘s two-hour Season 2 premiere first threw viewers off by making it seem like Detective Brigid O’Reilly (Emma Lahana) was acting more intense as a result of her injuries last season, but it turns out that there are actually two Brigids running around: one suffering from PTSD and acting more shy and jumpy than usual and one running around killing criminals with just her fingernails. That more murderous Brigid? Meet Cloak and Dagger‘s version of the iconic comic book antihero Mayhem.
“Restless Energy” and “White Lines” took time getting to this shocking reveal, as it only came in the very last moment of the second hour of the premiere. Tandy (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) only realized that there are two Brigids when Tyrone found the “good” one tied up in her own apartment, and the “bad” one was off with Tandy hunting down and killing human traffickers. The two Brigids finally came face-to-face with Tandy and Tyrone looking on completely speechless.
“They’re shocked. They’re confused,” Holt tells Collider. “I don’t think it makes any sense to them. They’re trying to grasp how different the two are and what the two can and can’t do.”
And according to Holt, “in the beginning, they’re not about it.”
“They’re on Brigid’s side,” she adds, referring to the “good” version of O’Reilly. “As they start to learn a little bit more about Mayhem, Tandy struggles with the idea of having her on their side, because she’s obviously the more dominant and stronger one. Tandy likes that about her. We’ll see that journey and how that relationship unfolds through the season.”
While it may seem pretty shocking to hear that Tandy is going to start considering teaming up with an actual murderer, that’s because Holt says one isn’t necessarily good and the other bad.
“It might be a little more complicated than that,” she says. “I think after everything that Brigid went through in the first season, she’s a little timid, has a little bit of PTSD, is not quite all there. But then, there’s this other one who has it all there. And is way more intensified than the other. So it’s a little more complicated than one is good and one is evil. But at the end of the day, we’ll see how Tandy and Tyrone and Brigid handle the real Mayhem.”
Speaking to Collider on the New Orleans-based set, Lahana couldn’t get into the details of pulling double-duty this season as Brigid and Mayhem. But she did reveal that Brigid will be struggling with themes of vigilantism for that reason.
“Brigid, she’s not always totally like, ‘Let’s play 100 percent by the books,’ because she understands that the system is corrupt and that you’re not necessarily going to get justice if you do,” Lahana says. “But she still likes to try and do things the right way as per the book. And then now she’s challenged on another side, that the way to get justice poses an interesting question of where do you draw the line of what is right and what is just? And if you go, ‘Hey that’s a bad guy, you do deserve to die,’ like who gets to decide that? It poses that question, talking about vigilante action.”
We’ve already seen Mayhem using her fingernails to slash a man’s throat, but what other aspects from the comics will Cloak and Dagger bring in for Mayhem’s storyline this season? “We’ll see hints of things that are in the comics,” Holt teases. “We like to keep on track a little bit with the comics and we also like to jump off and put our own spin on it. And as far as Mayhem goes, we’ll definitely see a similarity but also some differences as well.”
And oh yeah, those human traffickers that Mayhem killed? That wasn’t just a one-time thing. Cloak and Dagger‘s second season is exploring and shining a light on the unspoken horrors happening in America and especially New Orleans where young women are being abducted and sold in modern slavery.
“Human trafficking, because why not?” executive producer Joe Pokaski jokes before getting serious. “When we started working on this pilot, we were very lucky that Marvel and Freeform allowed us to tackle real life issues. We thought if we’re going to tell the story of a young black man with a hoodie or tell the story of a young woman who was out on the streets, we wanted to make sure we reflected some of the more dangerous and untalked about things in our society. When we turned toward Season 2, we wanted to do that without being repetitive.”
So when it came to figuring out the main themes of the second season, Pokaski remembered an important conversation he once had. “One of my first shows I created with my friend Misha [Green] was Underground and it dealt with the Underground Railroad,” Pokaski says. “We dealt with lots of slavery consultants, and I was talking to a very smart man at a Museum in Baton Rouge and I asked him where the worst slavery in the world was right now. I was trying to sound smart and I was naming places in Africa, places I knew, and he kind of laughed at me. He said the worst slavery is right along the highway about 10 miles that way.”
Pokaski continues, “He explained that there were estimates of about 300,000 human beings being trafficked either into sex or work slavery, most of them women, a lot of them poor but not all of them. And that we not only have an infrastructure in the Craigslists of the world, but the highway is actually a circulatory system of human trafficking. So truck stops and things like that are actually built to oppress.”
Looking back on that eye-opening conversation, Pokaski knew that would be the perfect story to tell with Cloak and Dagger Season 2. “When the writers and I started talking about that, and started understanding it, it felt like something that no other superheroes were tackling,” he says. “And it felt like this is kind of the corner of the universe that Tandy and Tyrone had carved out for themselves, it felt like a good thing to explore it or maybe educate and we’re fortunate that it was also dramatic and really dovetailed into our character arcs as well.”
The showrunner reveals that this issue is going to affect Tandy and Tyrone “more specifically” than you’d imagine.
“By the second episode, they’re pretty knee deep in it,” he says. “It doesn’t hurt that probably their closest friend had a bit of a transformation at the end of last season and what we’re hoping to do is tell the story of Tandy and Tyrone wondering what kind of vigilantes they want to be. There’s a couple of touchstones, Mayhem being one of them, as to the super extreme, crazy, ‘everyone even a little bit guilty must get hurt,’ versus some nicer people and Tandy and Tyrone trying to find themselves on that spectrum and as often as possible, because I like conflict, finding themselves on different sides of an argument depending on what the situation is.”
Tandy only just scratched the surface of the insidious and institutionalized problem happening in the shadows of her own city in the Season 2 premiere, but Holt promises that her character is going to get deep into the issue throughout this whole season. “[Everyone is] all put in very different situations, but somehow end up being put in the same one, as well,” Holt says of Tandy, Tyrone and Brigid/Mayhem. “They really have one agenda this season and it’s to stop the evil that’s happening in the city with human trafficking.”
While Cloak and Dagger has always used its platform to address modern issues young Americans are facing today, Holt is proud that the show is tackling “more severe material” in Season 2.
“There is an evil that’s happening in the city, young women are getting trafficked,” she says. “It’s super serious and Tandy and Tyrone want to do something about it. And the way that they tackle this situation is with heart and empathy and using their powers for the better. Reading each episode, I was genuinely impressed with how they would handle themselves in these situations and together, they’re better than they ever have been.”
She pauses, then adds, “That’s what makes our show so grounded and authentic is the fact that we’re a show that has two superheroes with powers who are trying to learn how to cope with them and all of that is in this certain realm, but then we snap back to reality and we focus on what’s happening in society in this day and age and what to do about it and opening that dialogue and having a very serious discussion about it.”
And Joseph hopes the show inspires conversations about this unfortunately prevalent issue in young fans watching Cloak and Dagger. “I’m just so excited that we are talking about it, I feel like it’s not really talked about on television like that,” he says. “It’s insane that it still goes on to this day and that people’s entire lives are being really stripped from them to be an object. To be treated like an object, it’s literally modern day slavery in my eyes so I think it’s amazing that we get to speak of it.”
But just because Cloak and Dagger is focusing on the issue of human trafficking this season, that doesn’t mean the show isn’t still going to tell stories of what it’s like to be a young black man in America through the perspective of Tyrone.
“It’s a big part of our show,” Joseph says of the series continuing to showcase diverse and inclusive stories. “Obviously Tyrone knows that he is a black man in America, especially a black man in New Orleans. In our show, we talked about how corrupt the police department can be. Since we literally have a moment of where he’s trying to run away and hide away from the entire police department, it’s still a huge part of our show.”
And even though Tyrone is a fledgling superhero, that doesn’t make him immune to the issues young black men are facing today. In fact, Joseph loves how Tyrone is still relatable for viewers watching.
“He feels like he has this power that sets him apart,” Joseph says. “Even though he has so much power he’s still black at the end of the day. It sets him apart as a human being but at the end of the day, you could f-king be able to end the world yourself and still be fearful for your life. You can have all the power in the world and still be fearful of being taken away and that being taken from him.”
Cloak and Dagger airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Freeform.