The penultimate episode of Cloak & Dagger season 2 just included a major reference to Luke Cage that may help place the film on the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. The Freeform series is nearing the end of its sophomore season and has been light on more significant MCU connections to this point. The first season heavily tied itself into the past of this shared universe, but the same is not true for season 2.
After a season with rich MCU connections, Cloak & Dagger season 2 didn't refer to the events of Avengers: Endgame. This was not unexpected, but still slightly disappointing for fans. To make sense of it, many have wondered just when exactly Cloak & Dagger takes place in the MCU timeline. A time jump to start the second season hasn't helped either. All of the show's past references have been based around including known dimensions or organizations, but not necessarily by acknowledging what other shows or movies are doing.
In the second to last episode of the season, Cloak & Dagger changes that with a clear Luke Cage reference. Early on in the episode, titled "Blue Note," Tyrone Johnson visits a friend at a local restaurant. Before Ty discusses what he is there for, he notices that a newspaper nearby has Luke Cage on the cover. Ty mentions that he has heard of Luke before but hasn't seen this story before. The story in the paper is called "Luke Cage In The Harlem Rumble" and is written by Daredevil's Karen Page, with Luke wearing his traditional hoodie pictured. Not only does this make for an excellent reference for Cloak & Dagger, but the details it holds may be enough to help us place the series in the grander MCU timeline.
The way Ty and his friend talk about Luke is one of the first vital details to pick up on. They are both familiar enough with Luke Cage to know his name and that he is bulletproof. The first season of Luke Cage primarily focused on Luke wanting to stay out of the public eye in his heroic duties, but the hero couldn't avoid that. Luke's abilities not only became known across Harlem as he helped his community, but he also became a viral sensation after footage of him throwing cops aside with ease and their bullets not hurting him was released online. This act and the coverage that Luke got by the media was big enough for people in New Orleans to hear about it. These videos are likely why Ty and his friend have heard of Luke before, but the article they're now seeing is something new.
The "Harlem Rumble" that the story refers to is likely the final confrontation between Luke and Diamondback in Luke Cage season 1's finale. The fight took place in the heart of Harlem and was worthy of getting such a title from the press and Karen Page. Civilians and media alike are all around during the brawl, too, with reporters hounding Luke as he heads into the police station at the end. His hoodie, while regular, does not have any bullet holes in it during the finale or in the photo used by the New York Bulletin, which could be further evidence that this story is about the season 1 finale.
If this is indeed the case, then we now have some frame of reference for when Cloak & Dagger is taking place in the larger MCU. The first season of Luke Cage debuted in 2016, and that is roughly believed to be when the events are taking place. This would then place the events of Cloak & Dagger season 2 also in 2016, while the events of season 1 could then be traced back to 2015. The vagueness of when both shows take place does add a bit of uncertainty to this, but a previous Cloak & Dagger/Luke Cage crossover further indicated that the events of the Freeform series could predate what was happening on Netflix.
While there is some wiggle room for Cloak & Dagger to take place later, placing the series two years ahead of the snap makes sense in-universe and for the longevity of the show. The separation could give Freeform and Marvel TV a few more seasons of programming before needing to deal with the Decimation and better plan out how to reference the films. So, until it's confirmed elsewhere, it would appear that the events of Cloak & Dagger season 2 are taking place concurrently with the Luke Cage season 1 finale based on this reference.
Cloak & Dagger season 2 concludes with episode 10, "Level Up," on May 30 at 8 pm EST on Freeform.