Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. Sorry not sorry, but I finally caught up on Agents of SHIELD and I’m high key in love with all the characters, so it’s gonna be AoS for awhile. This week: Deke Shaw.
Who is Deke Shaw?
Deke Shaw is a guest character who was introduced in the fifth season of Agents of SHIELD. At first, he wasn’t the most appealing guy, but I’ve gotta say, he really grows on you over the course of the season. By the time the finale came around, I wanted more Deke. At first, though? Different story.
We first met Deke on the Lighthouse, the space station where the SHIELD team was transported at the end of season 4. The team has no idea where they are or why they are there. Deke is one of the first people they run into, but it’s not a very positive first impression. Deke wants nothing to do with these strangers, who he feels will jeopardize everything on the Lighthouse.
At first, Deke is definitely not a good guy. The Lighthouse is a post-apocalyptic future. The remnants of humanity live there, and it’s not an easy life. So people who live on the Lighthouse are scrappy, self-centered, and non-empathetic. They look out for number one, and Deke is no different. So he stands in strong contrast to the SHIELD team, who are all about family, love, and saving the world.
This pits Deke against the team. He refuses to help them at first. Deke has a fairly good gig on the Lighthouse. He runs a Framework simulation of the long-destroyed Earth, which serves as a sort of drug to the people on the Lighthouse. When he feels that SHIELD may jeopardize his set-up, he acts against them.
The low point for Deke comes when Daisy Johnson asks for his help rescuing Jemma Simmons. Not only does Deke not help Daisy, but he actually sells her out to Kasius, the head Kree on the station. This solidifies Deke as a low, self-serving villain.
Good Guy Deke
Thing is, there’s more to Deke’s actions than pure self-service. To be clear, he absolutely looks out for number one. He doesn’t want any association with SHIELD to mess up his life. However, he considers other factors as well. He knows that if Daisy attacks Kasius, the humans on the Lighthouse will be punished. He’s not wrong; we later see this punishment in action.
So Deke sort of works as a protector for the Lighthouse. Even his Framework, though he gets paid for it, serves to help the humans onboard imagine a better life. But through his interactions with SHIELD, Deke learns self-sacrifice as well as looking out for others.
The turning point comes when Phil Coulson reveals that there are survivors on the destroyed surface of Earth. He plays a recorded voice, who turns out to be Deke’s father. Deke had long thought both his parents were killed by Kasius for their unwillingness to conform to the status quo. So, it’s natural that Deke himself is afraid to upset that status quo.
Learning that his father may be alive changes things. Deke wants to live up to his parents’ example. He also wants to see his father, so he works with the SHIELD team. This puts him in danger, both from the Kree and from the team, who no longer trust him after what happened with Daisy.
In the end, though, Deke proves himself to be a good guy. He steps up to help them get back to their own timeline, even knowing it may cost him his life. In fact, when it is confirmed he will die, he continues to go through with the plan. The way he sees it, he’s building a better future… past. It’s worth his life to stop the Lighthouse timeline from happening.
Except… Deke doesn’t die. Not because he shirked his duty, though. Instead of dying, Deke is sent back to the past with the SHIELD team. If Deke’s turning point from villain to reluctant hero comes when he sacrifices himself for the team, his transition to adorable puppy happens when he finds himself in the past, on a non-destroyed Earth.
Deke has never known a life aside from the Lighthouse. He has never seen trees or the sky. Watching him interact with a past he has only ever imagined is fantastic, and shows his lighter side. Plus, Deke is free of the Lighthouse’s tyranny now. He doesn’t have to be the bad guy. He can live a better life.
Unfortunately for Deke, the team isn’t his biggest fans. However, a strange revelation changes that. It turns out that, in the future timeline, Deke is actually the grandson of Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz. Although most team members are appalled that Deke is Fitzsimmons’ grandson, Jemma sees a brighter side. She thinks he’s perfect.
With Jemma’s acceptance, along with Daisy being willing to forgive Deke for his actions on the Lighthouse, Deke becomes a more integral part of the team. His knowledge of the future helps the team as they work to avert that very future. Despite not knowing that you can’t drink air freshener, Deke is actually very smart and his help is invaluable.
In the end, though, Deke doesn’t belong. He develops a crush on Daisy, who inadvertently rejects him. His family is unenthusiastic, and have their own problems. He helps set up the Lighthouse, in case the team fails to change the future, but plans to leave anyway. It’s time to explore the world, before it may possibly be destroyed forever. So, Deke leaves.
Why is Deke Shaw Bae?
Alright, I’ll get into the question of Deke’s character in a minute. For the moment, let me just say: Deke Shaw is a hottie. I mean, really. Jeff Ward is definitely attractive, and I can’t believe how few things he’s been in. Maybe after his run on AoS, other people will clue in and we’ll start seeing Jeff Ward in other things.
Let’s be real. The post-apocalyptic look really works for Deke. He owns that dark aesthetic. But honestly? I love the lost puppy look he gets once he arrives on Earth. Physically, he doesn’t change much. But something about not having to constantly fight for his life means that he has a lighter feel. Without the weight of the world on his shoulders, Deke becomes a total cutie. Especially when dealing with his crush on Daisy.
Okay but, looks aside, you really do have to take character into consideration when it comes to Deke Shaw. I know a lot of people aren’t the biggest fans of Deke. Admittedly, at first, Deke was kind of the worst. He was unwilling to help our heroes, unfriendly, and seemed to be, generally, scum. I mean, he sold out Daisy. Daisy is everyone’s favorite.
But that’s what makes Deke such a good character. He shows real growth in the show, something that shouldn’t be disregarded. I mean, I’m all about recognizing that there’s good in Deke even from the start. He puts on a front of only caring about himself, but he does actually care about other people. He feels some responsibility for the people on the Lighthouse and works to make things better for them.
Honestly, though? Deke is pretty awful at first. We can make all sorts of excuses for him: he’s not 100% terrible, he had a rough childhood, he’s the product of his time. But in order to appreciate his growth, we have to admit that Deke starts off as not great. The thing is, he does grow. He does become a much better person.
A lot of this comes down to the good influence of the SHIELD team. By seeing people who cared about others, who put others before themselves, Deke was able to see what could happen if he acted better. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the team — bitching all the way, of course — shows that he took their example to heart.
I’m not saying Deke becomes an angel overnight. He’s still fairly self-centered. But he definitely shows a real progression of character. Instead of saying he’s a product of his time and leaving it there, we should acknowledge his improvement.
Of course, I’d argue that Deke doesn’t become an angel overnight… because he becomes a puppy overnight. His transition is jarring, but adorable, as we see the goodness innate in Deke Shaw.
In his first moments on Earth, Deke shows that beneath his tough exterior is a good-hearted person. I mean, come on. He hugs a tree. A pedestrian honestly thinks Deke has to be high to be so happy about a tree, but Deke has just experience a living world for the first time. And his experiences with food? Zima? Iconic.
Deke has to adjust to an entirely different worldview on Earth and watching him make that adjustment provides some of the best moments in season 5. Obviously, there’s the air freshener. Deke finds a bottle of air freshener that’s orange scented. He thinks it’s fantastic — oranges were special in his family. But he doesn’t realize it’s not edible and sprays it in his mouth. It’s cute but reveals how out of his depth he is.
The way Deke interacts with the team also changes. On the Lighthouse, Deke was the authority. He belonged there. Fish-out-of-water Deke on Earth has to rely on the team to guide him. Unfortunately, they don’t like him much. But he slowly works his way into their hearts. It helps to be related to two of the favorite team members.
What really makes Deke the most adorable, though, is his crush on Daisy. He acts like a shy teenager when people confront him about it. Was Deke ever able to have a harmless crush before? And when Daisy turns him down, Deke doesn’t make a big deal or act like a jerk. Instead, he focuses on helping her be happy.
Gone is bad guy Deke. Long live puppy Deke Shaw.
What’s Not To Love?
Okay, I know for a lot of fans, there’s a lot not to love about Deke Shaw. I had an unfair advantage when it came to Deke. Before I even considered watching AoS, I knew that Deke was Fitzsimmons’ grandson and had a crush on Daisy. So I went into season 5 willing to overlook Lighthouse Deke because I knew better things were coming.
Other fans didn’t have that advantage. To someone watching without prior knowledge, one week at a time, I’m sure it was easy to hate Deke. You had to wait for a good several episodes before he stopped being the worst. And the other characters aren’t his biggest fans either, which doesn’t help. His own grandfather called him the worst — and people agree.
But if you look at the end of season 5, it’s unfair to keep judging Deke by who he was on the Lighthouse. Because, bad as he was initially, he grew and changed. He saw a better way of life, and despite initially mocking it, he took it to heart. He saw the team was a family and decided to become someone worthy of them. That kind of character growth is miraculous and deserves our respect.
Plus, let’s be real. Deke Shaw is adorable. The way he interacts with his strange new world is too cute. His enthusiasm for all the things he never had shows how dark his future really is. And his willingness to help his family is endearing.
I’m not sure where Deke is, after the finale. I’m not even sure if he still exists (hello, paradox!). But I for one am hoping we see more Deke Shaw next season. He was good for the show and good for the team, and I want more.