Monday, September 3, 2018

Heroes and Villains

While I was away, my sister got me hooked on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's an enjoyable show, and the little dropped hints, continuing plot threads, and cliffhanger endings remind me of the Marvel comics we read when we were kids. We watched about a season and a half before I had to leave home. I'm not sure when I'll get back to it.

While I was watching the show, a thing occurred to me. Earlier this summer, we were treated to the horrifying spectacle of FBI agent Peter Strzok's testimony before Congress concerning his abuse and misuse of his position, authority, and resources before and after the last presidential election. I won't sugar coat it. I think Mr. Strzok is a creep and a dweeb. Having grown up without any siblings in Iran, Africa, and perhaps also in Saudi Arabia, he was, I suspect, improperly socialized as a child. He may never have learned what it is to be an American, despite the fact that his father spent twenty years in the U.S. Army. (He certainly doesn't know anything about the U.S. Constitution.) Peter Strzok the son then spent four years cloistered in an exclusive Catholic preparatory school. After sending gazillions of text messages to his lover in 2015 and after, he got caught, like a child with his hand in the cookie jar. But instead of being contrite, he lashed out at the people who questioned him, like a rotten, spoiled, pampered brat. His performance in front of Congress was both weird and disgusting. Watch him if you can as he squirms and smirks, sneers and threatens. There is contempt and arrogance in him, but there is also fear, the fear of a schoolboy who wants to do well but has failed. We may be in for more of this later on, but for now, the execrable Mr. Strzok is out of a job at the FBI. We can be thankful at least for that.

Even before I watched Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I was reminded in seeing Peter Strzok of a figure from popular culture. In watching the show, though, it occurred to me that maybe he, in his sophomoric way, imagines himself as Agent Phil Coulson, the fearless and slightly extra-legal head of a cadre of super-agents tasked at protecting us from the bad guys. I see him instead as closer to what he really is. Spoiled, immature, and dangerous in the extreme in his contempt for others and in his continued abuse of power, Peter Strzok is like Charlie X from the first season of Star Trek.

Who says science fiction lacks predictive power?

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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