In the 100th episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson revealed his handpicked his successor to one day lead S.H.I.E.L.D. and his choice is no surprise: when the time comes, he wants Daisy Johnson to become the new Director.
Of course, Daisy immediately rejected the very idea of replacing Coulson, who is dying. But the venerable Agent who helped kickstart the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t misguided or wrong about his pick to lead the team: Daisy isn’t just meant to become S.H.I.E.L.D.’s leader, she was bred for the job by Coulson himself. Also known as Quake, Daisy is the best and only choice.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has borrowed heavily from Marvel Comics during the series’ five seasons, and the notion of Quake leading S.H.I.E.L.D. comes straight from its source inspiration. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’Otto in 2004, Quake was an Inhuman with the power to generate earthquakes who was recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. and quickly rose to become its Director. The TV series gradually revealed their version of Quake had numerous similarities to the comics’ Quake, including the same father Dr. Calvin Zabo (aka Mr. Hyde). Daisy eventually assuming command of Phil Coulson’s team would not only mirror the comics, it seems to be the end game of the TV series all along.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Always About Daisy Johnson
The long-form story of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is essentially encapsulated by the journey of Daisy Johnson. When we first met Daisy, she was living in a van and known by the handle she chose for herself: Skye. The team Phil Coulson put together in the wake of the Avengers defeating the Chitauri invasion found its final component in Skye. An orphan and genius-level hacker who worked for the hacktivist network Rising Tide, Skye was an unlikely recruit for S.H.I.E.L.D., which was then the world’s foremost global peace-keeping spy network. Though she was clever, resourceful, and blessed with an acerbic wit, Skye seemed out of her depth to join an international strike team charged with facing “the weird” corners of the MCU. But Coulson saw the vast potential in Skye and he personally recruited and mentored her. He was thinking long-term.
Skye evolved, and as she changed, so did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was devastated by the betrayal of Grant Ward and the revelation that Hydra had been a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. since its beginning. In season 2, Skye learned her true name – Daisy Johnson – and that she was really an Inhuman. She met her mother Jiaying, an Inhuman leader, and fell in love with Lincoln, a fellow Inhuman. When she learned to control her abilities, which made her one of the most powerful Inhumans in the MCU, Daisy adopted the moniker of Quake. Moreso, the girl who didn’t know how to fire a gun and could hardly throw a punch trained hard and by season 3, she became a formidable hand-to-hand combatant (with actress Chloe Bennet impressively performing many of her own stunts in eye-popping single-take action sequences). Soon, Quake was leading her own team of S.H.I.E.L.D.-recruited Inhumans, the Secret Warriors.
Daisy has also suffered, just as her team suffered. She distanced herself from S.H.I.E.L.D. in season 4 after Lincoln died to help save the world from Hive. Though she was now a fugitive, Quake reasserted herself as a one-woman vigilante looking out for her fellow Inhumans. When she returned to the fold in S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy led the effort to dismantle the virtual reality Framework and stop Aida. By season 5, Quake’s reputation has transcended time and space; in the future, the Kree prized her as “the Destroyer of Worlds”, believing she had quaked the planet apart. But through it all, fans can chart how much Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has progressed and recognize that Daisy’s own evolution mirrors her series. No one has come into her own agency, discovered her own sense of responsibility to herself and to others, and grown to believe in the best of what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for more than Daisy Johnson. No one, perhaps, since Phil Coulson himself.
The Drawbacks Of Quake Becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s true that the rest of the world might not see what Coulson sees in Daisy Johnson. Inhumans are feared and mistrusted for their powers and their other-ness, and the idea of a notorious known Inhuman like Quake leading S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn’t sit well with the powers-that-be or large swaths of the general public. There’s also the fact that Quake is a wanted fugitive; indeed, Phil Coulson’s entire team are the world’s most wanted at this point in time. Quake also has many dangerous enemies, not just in the corridors of power in the military and government, but also of the superhuman kind. This includes Ruby, who is obsessed with her. What’s more, Quake sees herself as a liability since a part of her believes she actually is the Destroyer of Worlds meant to quake the Earth apart. Daisy has strikes against her becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. someday, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t her first and best destiny.
Why Daisy Is The Best Choice To Lead S.H.I.E.L.D.
Through five seasons of turmoil on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy sat under Phil Coulson’s learning tree. She grew up in S.H.I.E.L.D. – specifically Coulson’s vision of S.H.I.E.L.D. With her dedication to protecting the helpless and a rock-solid heroic core, Daisy has become the living embodiment of everything good S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for. All of this was so Daisy could one day assume the role of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (In a bit of irony, in the comics, it is Quake who recruited Phil Coulson into S.H.I.E.L.D. so the TV series has been masterminding a fun reversal of the source material all-along.)
When the original version of S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed after the Hydra takeover, Phil rebooted his S.H.I.E.L.D. team to be a family at its core. Even after their own myriad personal conflicts, by this point in the series, Melinda May, Jemma Simmons, Leopold Fitz, Mack Mackenzie, Yo-Yo Rodriguez, Daisy, and Coulson have forged a bond of loyalty greater than blood. This is a unit that will never be corrupted by an outside force like Hydra. And at the root of that is a belief in what Coulson has always believed in: “a symbol, a S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect the world” – a belief that Daisy Johnson inherited so that it’s what she believes in most as well. If and when Coulson dies, no one is more suited to carry on the symbol of S.H.I.E.L.D. than Daisy.
Daisy literally became a new and better person thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D. She came into her own as an agent, as a superhero, as an Inhuman, and most importantly, as a human being who cares deeply about others because of Phil Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. In turn, Daisy’s rise is the finest long-form superhero origin story ever told by a Marvel television series. Coulson knew what he was doing all along when he mentored Daisy, and this is why the very idea of leaving her to die in the future was abhorrent to him. Not just because he sees Daisy as a surrogate daughter, but because he knows she’s important to the world as the future of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Whether or not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends with season 5, the series has been laying the solid ground since day one that when it does conclude, Daisy Johnson will be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s leader, as she was always meant to be. Hopefully, before that happens, Daisy herself will learn to believe and accept that she’s the best person for the job.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays @ 9 pm on ABC.
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