Sunday, May 29, 2022


The “darkest timeline” is not a way I would describe the world I live in, but I have seen other people use this term to describe the conflict and warfare that dominates the news and, by extension, the decisions that have led to this state. 

With the concept of multiverses now mainstream, from “Back to the Future Part II” to “Rick & Morty”, and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, using narrative devices to order the randomness of real life has its uses, but the “darkest timeline” is a pessimistic consensus to reach.

I was surprised to find that sitcoms are still watched by enough people to coin words and terms that enter general usage, but instead of coming from “Rick & Morty”, “darkest timeline” comes from creator Dan Harmon’s earlier show “Community”, a show I have also not really watched, perhaps due to an aversion to Chevy Chase. Its inclusion was as a joke: with one episode being based on the outcomes of rolling a six-sided die to determine who will pick up some pizza, each outcome is played out, including one featuring death and alcoholism and a felt beard to indicate an evil version of a character, referencing an episode of “Star Trek”. The “darkest timeline” was also used to describe a period when “Community” was off the air in 2012, again as a joke.

From my own perspective, multiverses are the fault of Gardner Fox, the comic book writer that reintroduced the original version of DC Comics’ The Flash, Jay Garrick, into the updated version’s comic in 1961’s “Flash of Two Worlds!” With “Earth-2” established, Fox wrote various “Crisis on Earth-x” stories in “Justice League of America”, a concept culminating in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, a company-wide crossover story by Marv Wolfman & George Perez that folded the various earths together into one, including characters bought from other companies that were maintained as their own separate worlds. 

However, what was intended to make a streamlined story universe that was easier to understand has since been supplanted by other series blowing this back out into a multiverse of multiverses, an “omniverse”. No longer able to follow the thread, I long ago decided that the stories being told in the comics themselves are more important than in which world they are taking place.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” has been the best version of a multiverse story I have seen in a while, although it is also insinuated that “real world” is also the “darkest timeline” by Evelyn, the laundromat owner at the centre of the story, is the worst possible version of themselves, capable of starting many things, but leaving them unfinished, their daughter capable of doing anything in any universe because nothing truly matters. Hope and happiness is what wins out, restoring balance in the film’s characters, let alone the multiverse itself.

It can’t be healthy to say, even as a joke, that we are living in the “darkest timeline”. It sounds like a coping strategy at best, and a deflection at worst.

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