*Warning: This post contains Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two spoilers.*
A few months ago, I started re-watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on Netflix. Let me be the first to say, I love this show and almost everything about it. Agent Coulson is a lovable leader, father figure to his team, and total Cap fanboy. Melinda May is a kick-butt super spy with the world’s best deadpan, and FitzSimmons is too a-dork-able for words. I love to hate Ward, smile during the cameos of Agent Hill, Lady Sif and Nick Fury, and nerd out any time the Whedon brothers drop in references to the rest of the MCU.
AOS is probably one of my favorite shows of all time. However, the first time around, I was not very fond of the hacker-turned-agent character, Skye. She seemed nothing but a bratty, whiny, and overly dramatic twenty-something with a flat characterization and one foot halfway off the Bus. All of this made her a difficult hero to root for, especially when she’s scripted as one of the main characters.
Everything changed in Season Two. In the episode “Aftershocks”, Fitz realizes that Skye is the cause of the earthquake in the underground alien city. The subsequent episodes show her struggling to come to terms with her newfound earthquake powers, and failing to control them in times of stress, danger, or fear. This is really the turning point for her character, and Chloe Bennett did a great job conveying Skye’s struggle of accepting her new self. These episodes completely changed my view of her character, and my perspective on my own life.
At the beginning of my junior year of college, I was diagnosed with anxiety. I felt lost, confused, and alone. I would have panic attacks late at night when there was no one awake to help me. I would sit in my room unable to move and unable to sleep. My anxiety made me skip class, lose sleep, and miss deadlines. It was so overwhelming, causing me to shake and cry uncontrollably. It felt like no matter how I tried to describe it, none of my friends understood what I was going through.
When I saw “Aftershocks”, it almost brought me to tears. Skye was shaking while trying to hold back an earthquake. The act caused physical damage to her bones. The power of the tremors injured her own body. When she couldn’t stand it any longer, she broke down crying as the room around her falls apart. But it wasn’t the “pretty actress has a single tear rolling down her cheek” cry. I’m talking full-out ugly cry. “There is something very wrong with me,” she sobs.
What I was watching was a near-perfect visual explanation of what I experienced during a panic attack. Finally, I had a way of showing someone how out of control I felt. The episode ended on a black screen and in the silence I looked at my boyfriend. “That’s what a panic attack feels like for me,” I said.
All the time that I had spent hating Skye, thinking her character was annoying, suddenly disappeared. I appreciated her more in that moment than any of the other amazing team members throughout the series. They were all relatable in some way, but because of this episode, it felt like someone finally understood. I was not alone or misunderstood. I felt validated, and I had a reference point for explaining just how disabling panic attacks can be.
I never thought I could have more love for AOS, but Marvel has proven me wrong and done what they do best. Through the use of larger than life characters, superheroes, and people with skills we could only dream of having, the Marvel team tells relatable stories that give their audiences hope and happiness.