When this week started, I didn’t think I’d be writing about the Holocaust. In the current political climate with actual Nazis walking the streets of our country with impunity, it seems to be coming up more and more. Still, I didn’t think when I sat down to watch four of my favorite TV shows do their yearly crossover that I’d be confronting this particular historical nightmare.DCTV-Crossover_CVR-FNL_9215b15d-600x923

I should have realized. I should have been prepared. For weeks now, the CW’s four DC Universe superhero shows – Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow – have been advertising their once a year, four-episode crossover. I’d seen the commercials where commandos in uniforms reminiscent of the old SS of yore crashed the wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West, with all their superhero friends in attendance. “I hate Nazis,” said Arrow, Supergirl, and Flash in the commercials, before the epic ass-kicking began. I knew the crossover was going to feature Earth X, an alternate reality where the Nazis won and subjugated the entire world. I just didn’t know how far the show would go, or how much it would affect me.

Hi, I’m Shoshana, and I’m the granddaughter of a survivor of Auschwitz. And this is how Crisis on Earth X gave me an epic anxiety attack.

[[Please note: This article will include spoilers for all four episodes of Crisis on Earth X, as well as have discussions about the Holocaust and its atrocities that may be triggering. Read on with this warning in mind.]]


Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge comic book fan, so it’s no surprise I’m an avid follower of all four of DC’s CW shows. I’m a firm believer that in an age of grim-dark reinterpretations of superheroes, the DC TV shows have retained the joyous, adventurous flavor of the original comics while still being innovative for a new modern TV audience. It stands as a nuanced set of shows that go from light-hearted and fun (Legends of Tomorrow) to often dark and brooding (Arrow) and even politically conscious and reactive to today’s real-world issues (Supergirl). Flash is the show I turn to on my worst weeks to find a ray of humorous, heartfelt hope, bolstered by the camaraderie of Team Flash and the exuberant performance of Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.

Yet when I heard this year’s massive crossover would handle the Nazi-focused Crisis on Earth X story arch, I was hesitant. For years, Nazis were the ubiquitous punching bags of media, right alongside zombies. Hell, I think people felt more emotional connection and empathy for the undead, who truly had no say in their unfortunate plight. Nazis are a representation of everything corrupt in the world, the choices made by portions of mankind to sink to depravity through fascism, bigotry and disregard for empathy and human life. The cookie-cutter, two-dimensional Nazi became an easy punching bag in comics, movies, and video games, an easy antagonist to point to as the ultimate evil so no consumer would have difficulty with blasting them out of existence. Or punching them in the jaw.

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In today’s political climate, however, it seems the sentiment of ‘punch a Nazi’ has become a controversial one for some reason. With the rise of fascist thought in America, the struggle to embrace a ‘live and let live’ mentality has brought some to talk about Nazism as if it was an acceptable philosophy rather than an abhorrent one. Articles like the recent on in the New York Times profiling the everyday Nazi have been steps, inadvertently or otherwise, towards normalizing fascists living in America today. When ‘alt-right’ leader Richard Spencer was decked in the face on live television by a masked anti-fascist activist, beneath the cries of support there was an undercurrent of actual sympathy. Nazis have become, to some part of the population, sympathetic. (By the way, if you’re having a bad day, just watch this gif a few times, it always gives me some joy).

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Now I trusted the progressive writer teams of the DC shows to take on the issue of Nazis well. Of every show on television right now, Supergirl has come out as the most reactive to the horrors of the regressive Trump America, going so far as to almost directly referencing issues going on (such as taking up the term “nasty woman” with a stare-into-the-camera defiance I love) and include more inclusive, progressive storylines with gusto. I wasn’t worried about their handling of the material.

I was worried about me, as a viewer. I was worried it might be too much.


As a little girl, I grew up on stories of the Holocaust. It was almost impossible to miss them in the Orthodox Jewish community where I grew up. Everyone was only one or two steps removed from a Holocaust survivor. They are our neighbors, our family members, people in our synagogues, working in businesses. They are grandparents, just like mine were. My grandmother Nora survived Auschwitz while my grandfather, who died before I was born, survived Treblinka. And in our community, there is a saying: never forget. To us, it isn’t a slogan, but a way of life.

And so from an early age, I heard stories, unimaginable stories, impossibly horrific stories. I saw films. I read books. I went to museums and saw evidence first-hand of the nightmares. I read first-hand accounts. And I met survivors. I talked to my own grandmother and watched her have nightmares. I learned about the twenty or so family members she lost, the life she left behind. She tried to shelter me from the worst of it, but it was impossible to avoid.

I started having nightmares after seeing Holocaust films the first time I saw Schindler’s List. I was staying at a friend’s house and went to bed after the film only to wake up screaming. I had those nightmares after seeing several other movies, and after going to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel. After watching the first episode of The Man In The High Castle I couldn’t sleep properly for three days. Though the show seemed well done, there was no chance I could watch. I avoided ads for it. I grew furious when someone in their promotional department thought decorating an entire New York train car with the Nazi symbols to advertise the show was a good idea. I wasn’t avoiding the issue of the Holocaust. Far from it. The stories lived so far under my skin they’d rooted in and become a haunting I couldn’t shake.

There is an idea when discussing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder called secondary trauma, which is defined as “when an individual is exposed to people who have been traumatized themselves, disturbing descriptions of a traumatic events by a survivor or being exposed to others inflicting cruelty on one another” (Source: Wikipedia). There have been discussions of how the horrors of WWII have continued to pass down their traumas to the next generation and how many people are carrying these secondary traumas into their lives. So it’s no surprise when I mentioned these nightmares to a therapist that she told me this was a form of secondary trauma, one I carried from my family’s history.

And in a way, strangely, I was okay with it. I believe forgetting the past means we can’t help but repeat them, and as our political climate has shown, we’ve got to be vigilant. Sure I’d love to avoid waking up shouting, but it isn’t a consistent problem. I’ve taken my joy at shooting the hell out of Nazis in the last few Wolfenstein games, and love seeing Indiana Jones punch the hell outta Nazis in his movies. But every once in a while, something comes along and pushes the wrong button. And then there’s a tightness in my chest and an anxiety rolling through me I can’t deny.

I sat down to watch Crisis on Earth X and suddenly, I was having a serious problem.


The first two episodes of the crossover, Supergirl and Arrow, went off pretty well. The wedding of Barry and Iris (FINALLY) was something I’d been looking forward to for a while. Seeing all my favorite characters coming together and even talking about their problems (Felicity and Oliver’s relationship drama, Alex’s recent break-up with her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, and Kara’s loss of her boyfriend Mon-El) were all awesome. Supergirl herself Melissa Benoit flexing her fantastic singing voice during the ceremony scene was a brilliant call-back not only to her time as a Glee star but to the Flash/Supergirl crossover musical episode from earlier this year.

Then, of course, the Nazi’s attacked and it was time for some super-hero ass kicking. And make no mistake. The fight scenes were incredible. The shows really blew out their special effects budget to make every single character have a moment to shine, even taking special time to highlight the non-powered characters using their talents to add to the fights. But as time went on, something started to creep into my skin, especially when the super-powered Nazis showed up. It turned out the general of the Nazi armies, Overgirl, was none other than an alternate world version of Supergirl, and the Fuehrer himself, inherited after Hitler died in 1994 on Earth X, was none other than the doppelganger Oliver Queen himself. Both fought our heroes, emblazoned proudly with the SS emblem on their chests, and that’s when my stomach started to clench. Hearing actors I adored playing evil versions of themselves spouting horrible bigoted, ethnic-cleansing level shit was difficult.

But nothing was as hard as the end of the episode of Arrow and episode 3 of the four-parter, where our heroes were transported to Earth X.

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There are images that haunt me from the Holocaust, images people seem intent on resurrecting in every movie and even on memes across the internet. The image of people behind barbed wire, their hair shorn down, skinny and starving and wearing those striped uniforms with those horrifying Stars of David on their chests. And in the episode of Flash, our heroes end up inside one of those very pens alongside emaciated, terrified people. They stand in their super-suits alongside people being held for cleansing in a concentration camp, large as day on my TV screen.

And that’s when I started to panic. My chest got tight. My face got warm. And I really, really wanted to turn off the TV.

 

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Screenshot from Crisis on Earth X episode 3

 

The show does nothing to hide the horror of the plight of the prisoners. Jackson (one half of Firestorm from the Legends) asks a prisoner what the pink triangle on his clothing was all for. The prisoner (later discovered to be freedom fighter The Ray) replies, “I loved the wrong person,” intimating the pink triangles marked queer prisoners. Stars, not shown on TV until later in the episode (presumably for effect), indicated Jews. All held together, all in those damned striped uniforms.

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I paused the episode three times before I could get through those scenes. As the heroes talked glibly about escaping, the doppelganger of Detective Lance, now a high ranking SS officer, comes in and confronts White Canary, his daughter from another earth. When he asks her why she’s in the camp when she is the epitome of blonde hair/blue eyed perfection, she tells him she is gay. He says he cleansed his own daughter for just the same “deviance” before ordering the heroes taken out, presumably to their deaths.

There are some images like I said. One is the mass graves of Europe, the pits where prisoners were lined up and shot and left for dead by the hundreds. And this doppelganger SS Lance led the heroes to the edge of the same kind of pit and lined them up to face their end. This is about when I had to nope out for a few more minutes once more. Because this was a scene out of my nightmares, and it was happening to characters I loved in a comic book TV show.

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I got up. I took a walk around. I drank some water. I wanted to get through this episode. I wanted to see how my favorite heroes would kick the hell out of these Nazis and show them just what fascist mass-murderers got. It was vicarious, it was meant to be, and I wanted to see it to the end. But there was an off-note to me, something not sitting well in my stomach – something besides the obvious secondary trauma.

It was the glibness. When put beside these images of ultimate horror that haunt my dreams, the superheroes I love looked tawdry and disrespectful. They seemed oddly unaffected by the horrors around them, disregarding the human suffering by focusing on their own objective. Few moments showed a real connection to the enormity of the nightmare around them in these scenes. The heroes looked uncomfortable, but their dialogue was removed, the lofty pronunciations of writers trying to gloss through an unbelievably traumatic moment with blase pronouncements of how humanity has harmed one another throughout history in the worst ways.

Even Professor Stein, a character who the writers have gone out of their way to show is Jewish, and Sarah and Alex, both queer characters whose sexuality is prominent in the series, only get moments to address the nightmare of what they’re witnessing. And then they’re off to save the day with grim determination and square-jawed heroics, never once truly interacting with the prisoners around them. In their escape, they leave behind a concentration camp full of people surely soon to be murdered who are used as nothing more than props to make a point.

And there, I discovered, was my problem with the episode and with the intended emotional moments. The Holocaust was used as a prop. It felt cheap. It felt out of sync, out of step, out of place, and not nearly as respectful as it was trying to be.

A single moment made the show all the harder to watch. Heroic Oliver Queen pretends to be the Fuehrer to sneak into the Earth X base and is tested by SS Commander Lance for his identity. They bring out a prisoner: Earth X Felicity Smoak, Oliver’s love on Earth 1 and a known Jewish character. And this, folks, is when I finally had to nope for a while. Because seeing one of my favorites Felicity, in the pajamas with the yellow star of JUDE on her chest, on her knees about to be executed by a Nazi, was too much.

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When he called her a “Jewess” I paused to take deep breaths. This was painful. This was triggering. And in my mind, this was over the top. Felicity talks about being taken prisoner for sharing her bread with kids in the camp. “They were starving,” she cries, as the writers ignore the fact that there needs be no excuse for why an SS commander would hold a gun to her head. In reality, she’s a Jew. Nazis needed no excuse to execute Jews. They were missing the point. And they were using a serious trauma to do it.

There were moments of real emotion, real connection. When the rebellion leader, doppelganger of Supergirl’s Wynn, talks about saving his earth, the actor gives a surprisingly emotional performance, hammering home to the heroes who want only to return to save their earth that he must protect and save his earth, where people are dying in the same conflict their grandfather’s fought. And Felicity’s declaration to the Fuehrer on Earth 1 that her grandparents didn’t survive the Holocaust to see their world fall to Nazis was, though short, impactful.

Still, it was during the course of the somewhat convoluted storyline that I discovered problem two with the crossover. Because at the end of the day, we know the heroes would win. That’s how these stories go. They’d go home, they’d defeat the Fuehrer and the General (they did), and they would share a wonderful ending (which I won’t spoil because it is great). But once again, Earth X is put in their rearview mirror, while those background characters would continue to be slaughtered while the resistance fights on. The Ray returns to help, but otherwise, our heroes return to their regularly scheduled broadcast. And I was left with a hitch in my chest, some nightmares on the schedule for that night, and an odd taste in my mouth.

Because punch Nazis all you want, but Holocaust victims and their memories are not props to drive home an agenda. And that’s where this episode went.


In the end, I watched the end of the crossover. I crowed when the heroes kicked the hell out of the Nazis with beautiful special effects style. I loved every second of watching the ending. And frankly, the payoff felt strong despite my issues. The fact that the Nazis are annihilated by a team of diverse heroes including people of color, Jews, and queer heroes was not lost on me, and the show worked hard to nail that home over and over. But by the end of the night I came out feeling shakey, and while others I spoke to seemed excited by how thoughtful and well-done the show had taken Nazis in general, I was left unconvinced. Hell, I was left with the need to work off some anxiety. I stayed up late. I wasn’t really okay.

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The message of the Crisis on Earth X crossover is a relevant one and an important one today in our world: Nazis can rise and we must face them no matter the cost. The show does not baulk at the message and instead stands firmly with our heroes united against this unholy threat. But where I’d been concerned about nuance being lost, I found those concerns justified. Did the show need to take the heroes in their lavish costumes to a concentration camp? No. Did they need to put Felicity on her knees and call her Jewess? No. And did they need to leave behind Earth X as an after-thought, left to its perpetual war without regard for closure for the audience? No.

There were, in my eyes, other ways that would have felt more compelling, more complete, and less exploitative. And while I credit the team for trying very, very, hard to get this right, I think they missed the mark by just a little. Or at least it seems that way for me, someone who didn’t sleep well last night.

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So it had to happen. You knew I had to say something about it, being the little Marvel-head that I am. Yet I have waited on making comment about Agents of SHIELD for a couple of weeks now. There’s been plenty of internet column inches being devoted to discussions about the show since it went on the air three weeks ago. I tuned in with lots of other Marvel fans to get a look at the Agent Coulson-fueled goodness. And yet, like some, I came away feeling a little let down. The first episode was fun but left me looking for a little something more. “But wait,” I told myself, “it’s the first episode! Pilots always suffer from some problems. Let’s give it a couple of weeks and see how it goes.”

Third episode in, and I’m ready to make a few comments. This is going to be a bit of a breakdown, so here’s the short version in case you suffer from tl;dr syndrome:

Agents of SHIELD isn’t bad. It’s just bland as hell.

The Breakdown: Agents of SHIELD is trying to do something that few TV shows can do properly, which is capture film lightning in a television bottle. The creators were hoping to cash in on the success and excitement of The Avengers by giving fans a weekly tiny dose of what the blockbuster did in two hours. The problem with that expectation is just that: it sets up expectations that fans automatically brought into their viewing of the pilot. So right off the bat, the creators had this huge hurdle to jump in providing a quality, well-placed action-adventure superhero themed weekly television series.

You see where this is a big boatload of problems waiting to happen? Expectations, folks. It’s what kills what could be good projects dead in the water.

You can almost feel the producers straining against those expectations with the choices they’ve made for the show. Agents of SHIELD feels less like a Joss Whedon run at a super-spy in superhero-land adventure than a corporate slick-job on the Marvel franchise, a hand-held airbrushing of the nuances that made The Avengers and the Marvel films interesting. Gone are the engaging characters that come together to tell epic stories. Instead, we’re given a host of brand new characters that we are asked to root for, and then provided with very little reason to do so. The cast smacks of demographic-influenced creation, aimed at drawing in every age group and audience they can. And sadly, the main casting choices for that reason fall hopelessly and awfully short.

I’m talking about our two new main characters, Agent Ward and Skye.

"Hi, I'm Agent Brooding Guy. I'm here to power through my dialogue with the force of my chiseled jaw."
“Hi, I’m Agent Brooding Guy. I’m here to power through my dialogue with the force of my chiseled jaw.”

Agent Ward: This cross between 007 and Captain America is meant to be the square-jawed eye candy that keeps the girls interested. Ward is supposed to evoke the brooding, slightly damaged almost anti-hero that has women swoon over James Bond or Wolverine, while stuffing him into a ‘serve the greater good’ SHIELD package. He’s the man who does the wrong things for the right reasons, the loner forced onto a team, finally given a chance to find a place he belongs… The cliches line up all in a row. Brett Dalton’s portrayal does just fine, honestly – I think he’s a halfway decent actor. The problem is he has nothing to grab onto. Agent Ward is a cut-out, a stand-in for all the tag-lines he’s meant to represent, and sadly brings little else to what should be a power-house action hero character. Jason Bourne or Hawkeye, this guy is not. Still, Ward isn’t the worst offender since, as a physical presence, he at least delivers the requisite butt-kicking action.

"Hi! I'm hip and trendy 2013 Eliza Duchku without being emotional in the least! Won't you love my leet hacker skillz?"
“Hi! I’m hip and trendy 2013 Eliza Duchku without being emotional in the least! Won’t you love my leet hacker skillz?”

Skye: Probably the most disappointing of all the choices on the show is the character of Skye, played by Chloe Bennett. This brand new character is a mix of so many bad stereotypes that she barely seems coherent. She’s a homeless high school drop-out who lives in her van, yet dresses like she comes out of an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. She’s a self-taught computer genius who runs a conspiracy theory website from her van, yet she is instantly respected by people like secret government agents and Fortune 500 moguls when she appears out of nowhere after cracking their security systems. She speaks the slick ‘isn’t that what kids sound like these days?’ lingo expected of a hip twenty-something as written by Hollywood writers, all hopped up on caffeine and full of buzz words, turning her into the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in action. Except this is worse: she’s the Action Barbie version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. See Action Manic Pixie hack computers to find anything, anywhere, all the time! See her try and help on any mission, then fling herself into situations she’s completely overmatched in and survive by batting her eyes and whining some classic, chirpy dialogue before being rescued by Agent Ward!

The obvious story arch here is that the show wants us to get deeper into the plot with Skye, but it is hard to feel anything for a character that gives us so little reason to care about her. Bennett breezes through her lines (as flat and badly written as they are) with zero passion and offers little to no emotional depth in any of her scenes. I’ve seen more reaction from people who get the wrong order at Starbucks than Skye shows when she’s being held at gunpoint. At the end of every episode so far, I have yet to feel at all impacted by Skye’s participation in the storyline and find her performance, and her character as written, unbelievable and completely shallow. And if she’s supposed to be what anchors me into the show as the ‘new girl’ entry character, then we’re in trouble.

But what about the show’s real anchor? What about the reason a lot of us showed up to this shindig to begin with?

"Please let me be cooler. I can save this show. I can."
“Please let me be cooler. I can save this show. I can.”

Agent Coulson: Oh Agent Coulson. You went from working with the Avengers to effectively picking up SHIELD’s dry cleaning. I adore Clark Gregg and the character of Agent Coulson more than I ever thought I would. It was because of him that I was excited to pick up this show. And it is because of him that I stick through Skye’s awful performances and the hammy dialogue. Gregg brings his usual clippy, cheerful, nuanced performance to a show that desperately needs it and keeps me wanting more. Yet watching him play Coulson next to Ward and Skye feels like watching the character from a beloved franchise running lines with a couple of badly prepared cosplayers. (And that’s no knock at cosplayers, by the way, I know some who would blow Ward and Skye clear out of the WATER). The show gives Coulson so little room to BE Coulson and then tries to keep him only in the realm of the pithy commentary guy. When the producers decided to spin off a side character like Coulson, they had to understand that would require them to provide him with more depth. And yet the first few episodes have seemed as though they were rushing him out of scenes to give time to the new characters, or else missing key opportunities to let Gregg’s awesome performances shine. Plus the places where they tried to include more about his backstory (ahem, forcing a south american ex-love interest) feel awkward and strange. Instead of letting his character feel real, the show seems intent on turning Coulson into a marionette version of himself, yanked on the strings of plot necessity and uneven writing.

So is there anything good to the cast? How about the good possibility space that exists in three of the new characters put on the show: Melinda May, Fitz and Simmons.

"Give me more lines. I can do so much better than that Skye girl."
“Give me more lines. I can do so much better than that Skye girl.”

Melinda May starts off looking like your typical ‘strong woman’ character. She’s coded that way in her very outfits – precise hair, aviator shades, tight leather SHIELD gear. She’s the Black Widow/ Agent Romanov knock-off right? Yet there’s a nuance to Ming-Na Wen’s performance and to hints in the pilot that talk about what might make May an interesting character. (Too bad that most of that is blown to smithereens in the next two episodes due to mishandling of the dialogue, but I won’t spoil it all). May is meant to be the stoic with a haunted past, staying away from violence for perhaps a good reason. There’s so much possibility space there that is being hopelessly wasted from episode to episode leaving her as effectively the chauffeur of the team.

"We're down here! We're funny! Let us be funny!"
“We’re down here! We’re funny! Let us be funny!”

Equally wasted are Fitz and Simmons, the comedy tech duo of the team. Meant to round out the somber, often wooden cast, these two are the warm cuddly center of the show that are left to wallow in their little hole far too often. Their witty banter is far too insular and too reliant on one another and we hardly know anything about either of these bright faces after three episodes of their back and forth. These are two nerds who clearly have spent a lot of time together, but their interplay leaves little room for anyone else to get in on the jokes. Their dialogue often feels like listening to two best friends gab about stories nobody knows about, and while that can be charming for a while, it gets oblique and grating. Both are cheerful as two little fresh-faced chipmunks in a Kaylee and Simon from Firefly sort of way, but neither can reach the cardboard cut-outs of Ward or Skye and barely get air-time with Coulson or May. So in the end, their empathetic and empathic characters, meant to soften the others and give us comedy relief, are left languishing in the hold of the ship like forgotten little toys – all wound up with nowhere to go.

And what about the show itself? The adventures! The excitement! The missions to see superheroes from the perspective of the humans of the Marvel Universe?

I’ll just ask this: WHAT SUPER HEROES?

THIS. WE ARE LOOKING FOR THIS.
THIS. WE ARE LOOKING FOR THIS.

The show has shown us, in three weeks: a man made super by technology (and then quickly hurried off screen), a piece of ancient tech that everyone fights over, and then a science experiment gone horribly wrong. Each time the characters at the heart of the adventure are hopelessly wooden and the actual problems feel far removed from the actual Marvel universe. For a show that promised engagement into a super-hero setting, we sure seem to be short a few superheroes, now aren’t we? Sure, it’s only three episodes in, and the first episode delivered a man that saved lives. Yet immediately that character disappeared off the face of the planet and we’re back to a ‘problem of the week’ formula that feels hackneyed and sadly outdated. The threads that may tie the plots together (the laughable ‘Rising Tide’ website of Skye’s, the shadowy organization behind the science experiments) feels far too weak to hold together a Monster of the Week premise, and I’m left feeling a little like I’m getting hit with a bait and switch. I didn’t sign on to watch secret government agents run around the world effectively picking up the dry-cleaning. I came here to see action, adventure, and super powered craziness. I came here to see heroes and villains clash with the world at stake.

And there we go with expectations again. Because that’s the biggest problem.

I do feel like I got a little bait and switched, despite trying to keep my expectations down. Instead of a human face on the super-human world, I got white-washed twenty-something cardboard cut-out characters hitting me with campy dialogue. Instead of humans dealing with things far beyond their ken, I’ve got chirpy ads for toothpaste tossing buzz word dialogue before solving every problem neatly and without seemingly much emotion or danger.

Where is the immediate danger? Where is the tension of the threat? Where is the emotional payoff?

Where is the humbling feeling of being presented with power so much larger and grander than mankind?

Certainly not here.
Certainly not here.

I’m going to stick around and watch some more, if only for the sake of Agent Coulson and whatever little drop-ins they keep giving to keep my inner Marvel nerd heart alive. However you cannot keep audiences happy with pithy one-liners and guest-star nerd fan service. Eventually the writers will have to fish or cut bait to make these characters into actual people or they’re going to lose even more viewers than they already have. And I don’t want to see this show go down. I’m not nerd-raging or shouting from the rooftops like some beligerent Comic Book Guy. I want this show to succeed. But I’d like it if they tried a little less to be the shiny, Photoshopped, Disney version of Marvel that appeals to everyone and instead focused on telling a good story. This isn’t Once Upon A Time, ABC, this is a damn superhero show, and I want some action and adventure and tension and suspense and edge to that. Or else not even Agent Coulson can save you from yourself.