Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. Shockingly, I have run out of Agents of SHIELD characters to gush about, so this week is our last Bae-gent: Daisy Johnson.
Who is Daisy Johnson?
Daisy Johnson is one of the main characters of Agents of SHIELD. In fact, she might be the main character. A case could be made for Phil Coulson, but Daisy has driven so much of the story. And, now that Coulson is gone, Daisy Johnson remains as the heart and soul of AoS.
She wasn’t Daisy Johnson, at first. When we first met her, she was Skye, a hacktivist living out of a van. Skye worked for Rising Tide, a hacking group of semi-conspiracy theorists who wanted to make the world a better place. One of Rising Tide’s enemies/targets was SHIELD, considered a bogeyman organization hiding the truth from regular people.
Skye ran a podcast calling out SHIELD for their lack of transparency. She would soon experience SHIELD first hand when they crashed into each other dealing with the same person, Mike Peterson. Skye got to see that SHIELD may be a shadow organization, but they are good people. She sticks around when Coulson invites her to consult with his team.
Over time, Skye becomes an integral part of Coulson’s team and even begins training to become a SHIELD agent. She formed close bonds with Coulson’s team, particularly Coulson himself and Grant Ward, who trained her for SHIELD evaluations. Skye finally becomes a SHIELD agent… right before SHIELD fell to Hydra.
Skye helped Coulson and his team deal with the aftermath. Ward turned out to be Hydra, and kidnapped Skye out of “love.” Skye sees through his bullshit and returns to her team. They work together and stop Ward and his SO from destroying everything. Then, they restart SHIELD, with Coulson as director and Skye as a top-notch agent.
Drama comes when Skye’s father pops up. Skye was raised in foster care and never had a real home before SHIELD. It turns out, she was rescued by SHIELD as a baby, but placed in foster care and constantly moved because, as one agent said, “death follows her.” This proves to be too true when Cal Johnson tries to reconnect with his daughter.
Through Cal’s machinations, Skye is exposed to terrigenesis, a process which reveals she is Inhuman. She gains power over vibrations, but can’t control it. She also faces fear from her SHIELD team, who is essentially her family. However, she is taken to Afterlife, an Inhuman haven, to learn how to control her powers. The leader of Afterlife turns out to be her mother, Jiaying.
Things seem good for Skye at Afterlife, but Jiaying is not what she seems. Jiaying tries to destroy humanity, leaving only Inhumans alive. Skye is forced to fight her family to save the world. In the end, Jiaying tries to kill her. She is only stopped by Cal, desperate to save his daughter. Skye loses both her parents — Jiaying to Cal, and Cal to a memory removal.
In their honor, she renames herself Daisy Johnson, her birth name. As Daisy, she becomes an advocate for Inhuman acceptance. She forms a relationship with another Inhuman, Lincoln Campbell, who had helped her in Afterlife. However, when the Inhuman Hive returns to Earth, she falls under his sway and loses herself.
Working for Hive, Daisy does terrible things. She is rescued but has to deal with the aftermath of what she’s done. She is guilt-ridden and reckless. Daisy nearly sacrifices herself to save the world but is stopped by Lincoln, who takes her place. He dies telling her he loves her for the first time.
After Lincoln’s death, Daisy goes off kilter. She leaves SHIELD and becomes the vigilante Quake. As Quake, she tries to tackle inequality and stop the hate group the Watchdogs, who are hunting Inhumans. Her SHIELD family tries to get her back, but she’s always one step ahead.
Daisy comes back into SHIELD’s orbit when she allies with Robbie Reyes, the Ghost Rider. They work together to stop the Darkhold, an evil book that is influencing Robbie’s uncle Eli. They are able to defeat Eli, but the Darkhold corrupted AIDA, an android designed by Leo Fitz to help SHIELD. AIDA kidnaps the SHIELD team and places them in the Framework, a virtual reality with a dark past.
Because she was not kidnapped by the team, Daisy works with Jemma Simmons to go into the Framework and rescue them. The Framework is dark, and it goes badly. Daisy is tortured by Fitz, who does not remember being her friend and now works for Hydra. They escape, but things are tense.
Before they have time to deal with things, the team goes to the future. They are brought there in hopes of preventing the end of humanity… which supposedly was caused by “Quake, Destroyer of Worlds.” Daisy is captured by the Kree and forced to fight gladiator-style. The team makes it back to the past, but Daisy is afraid of destroying the Earth, so is glad when her powers are disabled.
Sadly, Fitz has a psychotic break and restores Daisy’s powers. Terrified of what she’ll do, she swears to never forgive him. In the end, though, it’s thanks to Daisy and her powers that the end of the world is averted. She defeats Graviton. Moving forward, Daisy stays with SHIELD to keep saving the world (and hopefully Fitz, though things are still tense).
Why is Daisy Johnson Bae?
Newsflash: Chloe Bennet is a total cutie. She rocks some… interesting looks like Daisy Johnson, but for the most part, pulls them off. There’s a reason she has so many ships in the show: people want to watch good-looking, interesting characters get together.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of angsty goth season 4 Quake Daisy Johnson. It’s a good look.
Heart and Soul
Daisy Johnson is such a compelling main character. Agents of SHIELD has so many amazing characters, but there’s a reason Daisy is the protagonist. Daisy is the heart and soul of AoS. Although the first season focused on Coulson, since then Daisy has been the driving force behind the story.
Season 2 was all about Skye becoming Daisy Johnson. A lonely orphan is faced with her parents, and they’re not great. Season 2 sees Skye get her powers, something that will change the course of the world. The conflict between SHIELD and Afterlife was personal — Skye was torn between her birth family and her found family at SHIELD. Becoming Daisy Johnson was a hard road.
Season 3 sees Daisy deal with the aftermath of her family and what they did. Jiaying’s actions led to spontaneous terrigenesis all over the world, so Daisy takes on the task of helping these new Inhuman figures out who they are now. Dealing with Hive forced Daisy to make poor choices, and underscores how important the team is to her when they save her. Lincoln saves the world because he loves Daisy.
In season 4, Daisy has to deal with the repercussions of her choices. She goes rogue because she is afraid to hurt the people she loves any further. But she still tries to make the world a better place and still helps Inhumans.
Season 5 is the real test for Daisy. She is faced with the thought of one day destroying the world and is desperate to prevent that. At the same time, Daisy must choose between saving her father figure Coulson and saving the world. In the end, she saves the world (with some prompting from Coulson). She is not Quake, Destroyer of Worlds. She saved the world, again.
Daisy Johnson has one of the most dramatic arcs of personal growth that I’ve seen in any fictional character. Think about it. In the pilot, Skye argues against SHIELD, the bogeyman organization that is hurting everyone. By the end of the first season, she’s an agent of SHIELD. By season 5, she’s temporary director. That’s an impressive progression.
A lot of this comes down to Daisy’s relationships. As Skye, she had no one. She was bounced from foster home to foster home, never having a real home or family. When she later finds out that was SHIELD, moving her to keep her safe, she realizes that SHIELD has been her real family all along. This is so true in her relationships with her team.
Coulson and May become Daisy’s parental figures. Yes, Daisy meets her actual parents. But considering how that turned out, it’s not surprising she bonds with two people who genuinely care for her and want the best for her. FitzSimmons become her best friends. Mack is her big brother. That team becomes her family, giving her the home she always wanted.
But a lot of Daisy’s growth is internal. She starts the show as an almost superhero groupie (there are jokes about her cosplaying outside Stark Tower) and ends the show as a literal superhero. Daisy had to change to get there — and I don’t mean just terrigenesis. She had to grow as a person. Daisy had to learn how to trust, how to work with SHIELD, how to become a hero.
Daisy Johnson is one of the first female superheroes with powers in the MCU. The fact that she started out as a hacker, living in a van, railing against shadowy government organizations, just makes her better. It’s inspiring to see what she became.
What’s Not To Love?
There’s so much to love with Daisy Johnson. She’s not perfect, of course. But she is one of the best examples of a fictional character becoming who they were meant to be I’ve ever encountered. She grows and changes, becoming a hero when she was given the opportunity. That’s inspiring.
Marvel made a good decision when they went with Daisy as a character. Quake, the Inhuman who controls vibrations, is kickass. She’s incredibly powerful — powerful enough to take on Graviton, to save the world time and time again. It’s great to see more female superheroes in the MCU. It’d be really great if they integrated AoS into the movieverse… but that’s a whole other can of worms.
But Daisy Johnson is more than just Quake. She’s a fully fledged character who is not defined by her powers. To be fair, she’s had 110 episodes of TV to develop, rather than a small handful of movies. But she’s one of the better characters in the MCU because of that development.
Daisy Johnson is hope. She is hope that a person can become something so much more. Obviously, we’re not going to experience terrigenesis, get adopted by a spy organization, and do half of what Daisy does. But we can learn and grow as people. We can find the people that matter. We can save the world, even if it’s in a much smaller way.
And Daisy Johnson would probably be proud of that. After all, she started as a hacktivist specifically to make the world a better place. She was doing her best to save people well before she became Quake. And with every new, strange thing she encountered, she persevered and worked to continue making the world a better place.