Rewatching a TV series is helping me get through a quarter-life crisis
'Agents of SHIELD' has reminded me to await the coming of my powers to be
My dad and I have a long-standing tradition of rewatching old TV series. We’ve binged everything, including “Merlin,” “Stargate SG-1,” and “Star Wars Rebels,” over the years. Right now, we’re savoring every single episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” for the third time.
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” premiered in 2013, at a weird time in my life. It was my last year of high school. It was also my first foray into romance. I had all sorts of ideas about my future — ideas that, for the most part, would never be realized.
You wouldn’t think that a show about spies would have much resonance for an 18-year-old. But it didn’t take me long to identify with Daisy Johnson, portrayed by Chloe Bennet. On the surface, we don’t have much in common, but I empathized with her budding romance turned toxic relationship. The second season of the show follows Daisy as she grapples with not only the betrayal of her lover, but also her newfound powers.
One of my friends, who’s also rewatching the show, mentioned how strange it is to outgrow your favorite stories. While we latched onto “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” for different reasons, we both loved Daisy. She was strong and smart, but also kind and compassionate. The fandom considers her empathy to be her first — and arguably most important — superpower.
“I feel so old,” my friend said the other day. “Daisy was 26 when she got her powers, and I’m 27!”
Isn’t that the perfect description of aging past your shows? You see yourself in a certain character. You identify with their story and draw strength from their tenacity. Sometimes, their bravery encourages you to be brave yourself. (Watching Daisy bounce back from her abusive relationship certainly affected my own healing journey.) But then you grow up.
If you’re a serial rewatcher, like me, you’ll rediscover the show years later. You’ll remember how good it is and persuade your friend to rewatch it, too. You’ll see yourself in the character you loved and feel so much tenderness for your past self. Or maybe you’ll be sad. After all, you had so many ideas about your future — ideas that, for the most part, never came to pass.
But you’ll also see your current self. You’ll see how strong she had to be to make it this far. You’ll see how her weaknesses became her strengths. How the midseason plot twist turned out to be the best possible thing, and not just because it gave you powers of your own. It forced you to confront dark truths about yourself and, in so doing, step into the light.
Daisy overcomes so much throughout the course of the show, from a lover’s betrayal to torture at the hands of a friend to bottomless grief. By the seventh season, she’s gone through the wringer. She’s stronger for it, but at the same time, you can see how she’s internalized her trauma. She’s strong and smart, but she’s also a little less trusting. She’s kind and compassionate, but in many ways, that warmth is reserved for the people she loves the most. Her heart is just as big as it was in the first season; she’s just more careful about who she gives it to.
I’m in a weird stage of my life. Some might call it a quarter-life crisis. Things are changing faster than I can keep up, forcing me to identify what I want in life — and what I’m willing to sacrifice to obtain it. Many of the visions I had for my life as a freshman in college didn’t come to pass, which is hard to swallow, especially when the culprit is SMA. How do I move forward knowing that my disease will trip me up for as long as I live?
But stories always come to me exactly when I need them. Watching Daisy’s journey for the third time has given me insight into my own. I can see everything at this distance. And it’s beautiful. There are moments of hardship, like Daisy’s dark night of the soul in the fourth season, but there are also moments of triumph. As with any satisfying story, you can’t get the good without the bad.
Daisy gets her powers at 26. According to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m woefully behind at 27 years old. But as I told my friend, it doesn’t mean I’m powerless.
It just means I have powers that have yet to wake.
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