Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD just entered its fifth season on ABC. As the Marvel brand’s flagship television series, SHIELD has been an exciting beacon for comic book fans. It features a fast-paced vibe and recurring roster of popular characters. Said characters include wise-cracking team leader Phil Coulson and ace mechanic with a heart of gold Alphonso ‘Mac’ Mackenzie. There’s also the scientific minded and charmingly adorable couple of Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, along with fan favorite tough-as-nails mentor Melinda May. Though all of the characters are engaging, there’s one who remains the team’s heart. She’s the one whose journey has driven the narrative forward, and who’s undergone more changes than anyone else: Daisy Johnson, played by Chloe Bennet.

When AGENTS OF SHIELD began, Chloe Bennet’s Daisy was simply known as Skye. In the pilot, Skye was a hacker and conspiracy theorist. She attracted the attention of SHIELD based on her outstanding computer skills. For the audience, Skye provided the essential outsider’s perspective. She was our eyes and ears. As Skye grew accustomed to the team and her new role within it, AGENTS OF SHIELD invited the audience to participate in her journey. Skye was the de facto series protagonist. Chloe Bennet played her with equal parts enthusiasm for a world of superheroes and skepticism regarding SHIELD’s intentions. Skye immediately felt like the most complete person on the team. So when Skye’s role began to evolve and transform — along with Chloe Bennet’s performance — it felt like an innate and natural process.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Skye began to develop complex relationships with a few team members, particularly Coulson. They established a compelling father and daughter bond. Skye also developed an intense relationship with Grant Ward, with whom she felt a mutual attraction. This was further complicated when Ward revealed himself to be an undercover Hydra agent. Each of these relationships brought out new facets in Chloe Bennet. They enriched her already engaging performance with stronger emotion and subtler nuances. Things took an even more exciting turn in the middle of season two, when Skye discovered she was an Inhuman with vibration-manipulating abilities. This coincided with the discovery that Skye’s murderous father was still alive. The new storyline concluded with Skye accepting her original name, Daisy Johnson, along with her new Inhuman identity, Quake.

Since then, Daisy has continued to evolve in fascinating directions, developing intriguing new relationships along the way. Through it all, Chloe Bennet has played Daisy with heart and jubilation. Her expanded superhero status has clearly pumped the young actress full of excitement. AGENTS OF SHIELD has allowed both actress and character to develop symbiotically. Daisy’s continual evolution provides Chloe with increasingly compelling acting opportunities.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. NYCC 2017 Full Cast Interviews

Given how much AGENTS OF SHIELD revolves around Daisy, it’s hard to pick out her most distinctive episodes. Yet out of all the tremendous opportunities that SHIELD has granted Daisy Johnson, there are ten episodes, in particular, that stand as spotlights for her continual development. These ten episodes act as benchmarks in their particular seasons. They highlight just how far Daisy has come as a character, and just how distinctive a performance Chloe Bennet can give from episode to episode. These ten episodes showcase exactly why Daisy is such a compelling character. They demonstrate how Daisy and Chloe alike have become the beating heart of SHIELD.

10. Season 1, Episode 12 “Seeds”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

“Seeds” was the first AGENTS OF SHIELD episode to really delve into Skye’s past, and the circumstances that brought her onto SHIELD’s radar. The episode’s structure features a dual narrative in which Coulson and May track down the SHIELD agent who took in Skye as a baby, while Skye herself teams up with Ward to investigate mysterious attacks in one of SHIELD’s science academies. Skye’s role in “Seeds” at first seems fairly innocuous, with a run of the mill investigation. Yet Coulson and May’s discoveries about Skye’s past create a double meaning. Skye begins the episode doubting her place on the team, feeling as though she hasn’t earned it. We soon learn that SHIELD agents recovered a blood-soaked baby Skye from a massacred village. This immediately suggests that Skye has been through far more than she realizes.

A Bloody Past

Both storylines come to a head during the episode’s third act, when Skye confronts Coulson, realizing that he’s hiding something from her. Coulson breaks down his discoveries, explaining the exact nature of Skye’s survival (secretly caused by her own father). Coulson reveals details on how SHIELD agents moved Skye from adopted home to adopted home in order to protect her. He leaves out one crucial detail though: the fact that Skye was in danger in part because of her own latent superpowers. This was a massive benchmark in Skye’s evolution, suggesting there’s more to her than meets the eye. It was the first hint towards her eventual ‘Quake’ identity. This proved that SHIELD’s writers were laying the groundwork since the beginning. Moreover, the revelation scene was a chance for Chloe Bennet to shine and deliver something a little different.

Chloe excels at showing a flux of contrasting emotions. As Skye prepares to listen to Coulson’s revelation, she assures him that the information “can’t be worse than what she’s already imagined.” Even as Skye prepares herself for the worst, her eyes reveal a deep well of emotion, showing concern and a touch of fear. The eyes are the window to the soul, and Chloe Bennet has a riveting awareness of her own expressiveness. She’s able to reveal a fountain of emotion that contrast with her stoic facial features. The moment between Coulson and Skye is a brief one. Yet it goes a long way towards selling the deep emotional turmoil at the core of Skye’s being. Said turmoil will only increase as Skye and Chloe become the series’ focal point over the course of the next season.

9. Season 2, Episode 11 “Aftershocks”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The second half of season two begins with Skye emerging from the cocoon engineered by the ancient obelisk. The alien structure killed Agent Tripp and rebirthed Skye as something… different. “Aftershocks” is the beginning of Skye’s transformation into Quake, as she emerges with a set of uncontrollable earth-shaking abilities. The episode subtly kicks off the Inhumans story arc, as Skye’s own teammates meet the concept of superpowered people with resistance and prejudice. Skye is filled with guilt and regret over Tripp’s death. Realizing she has these secret powers, she blames herself for what happened. Chloe Bennet portrays this emotional anguish with conflict and sincerity.

Throughout the episode, Skye feels like an alien in her own skin. As heated arguments ensue among the team, stress overwhelms Skye, which manifests in a shaking soda can. That’s just the beginning. When Fitz approaches Skye with her DNA readings, the results cause them both to flip out. Fitz becomes convinced that Skye’s new powers were responsible for the tremors that killed Tripp and destroyed the ancient temple. Unable to bear the guilt, Skye freaks out, destroying lab equipment with her uncontrollable power. This marks a major turning point in Skye’s development. She moves from ordinary girl with a mysterious history to a woman who’s gotten in touch with her secret powers that lay dormant all along. It’s too much for anyone to handle. Chloe Bennet portrays the overwhelming nature of the discovery with remarkable power and intimate fear.

Inhuman Abilities

By the end of the episode, Fitz agrees to keep Skye’s secret for the time being; but the effect of the discovery already has its consequences. Fitz fakes Skye’s DNA results, to the relief of everyone else involved. Although this spares Skye an overreaction from the team, it embeds her with a new round of fear and grief. It’s the beginning of Skye’s struggle with prejudice and self-acceptance. Skye is afraid of who and what she’s becoming. Chloe Bennet portrays it all with a compelling display of self-alienation. This exploration of alienation and self-acceptance is something innate to the INHUMANS comic books. It’s something that AGENTS OF SHIELD would explore in further depth over the next two seasons.

8. Season 4, Episode 16 “What if…”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

“What if…” in many ways is a mirror image of the AGENTS OF SHIELD pilot, both in terms of the story, and Daisy’s role within it. She wakes up in the Framework, a Matrix-esque computer program where the world is controlled by Hydra. Everything is reversed from the world we know. In this alternate reality, Daisy is still called Skye. She never discovered her Inhuman powers, and she’s dating a very much alive Grant Ward. Much like in the pilot, Daisy acts as our eyes and ears, introducing us to this horrible new world.

Daisy leads us into Hyrda headquarters, where she’s currently stationed as a top agent. There, a Hyrda-turned Agent May forces her to interrogate an innocent prisoner. Daisy also takes us into a critical meeting with Jemma, along with Grant Ward. It turns out that Ward is a double agent (surprise surprise) working with the resistance against Hydra. By the end, Daisy brings us to the realization that everyone is permanently trapped inside the Framework. Every other SHIELD member besides Daisy and Jemma has no memory of their previous life. So Daisy tracks down the one man she believes will remember who she is — Phil Coulson. This ends the episode with an effective reversal of the roles that Daisy and Coulson played in the pilot.

Mirror Image

The subversion of everything we know about SHIELD puts Daisy in a fascinating position. The Framework forces Daisy to re-experience old relationships from a different perspective. Said experiences take stock of everything that came before in Daisy’s relationships with the other characters, and gloriously perverts them. When Daisy reacts with revulsion at finding Ward in her bed, we understand it’s not just about an old villain returning; it’s revulsion because she was once attracted to him. It’s a mirror reflection of what Daisy’s life probably would have been if she never found out about Ward’s true allegiance. Chloe Bennet sells it with convincing levels of conflicted disgust.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

When Daisy begins to interrogate the captive Inhuman, her former relationship with May comes into play. While Daisy was always subordinate to her technically, there was mutual respect and admiration. Here, May acts as a true Hydra commander. She orders Daisy to get the information at any cost, under threat of imprisonment (or worse). Daisy’s interrogation of the Inhuman is multi-faceted. She attempts to appear in charge, but she stealthily conducts the interrogation. She does so in such a way that the Inhuman won’t be able to personally incriminate himself. Chloe Bennett impresses in this sequence. She navigates the space between Hydra leader on the outside and agent of SHIELD on the inside. As always, despite Daisy’s outward appearance, her heart shines through in Chloe’s performance.

Father & Daughter Reunion

The true heart and soul of Daisy Johnson shines through in the final scene in Coulson’s car. She shows up begging Coulson to remember who she is. Daisy brings to him an emotional plea. She reminds him that whenever she didn’t know what to do, she always turned to Coulson first. He was the closest thing she had to family. Daisy hopes that he feels the same way. He does, and Daisy’s presence breaks the spell.

This scene speaks to the strength of Coulson and Daisy’s relationship. It reminds us of just how much they’ve been through since the first episode. In a way, their relationship comes full circle in this moment. Coulson recruited Daisy, and now, Daisy recruits Coulson, bringing him back to where he belongs. It’s a touching moment that brings the full weight of Daisy’s past to bear. Chloe Bennet brings a deep feeling of love to the scene. She convinces us of a bond between father and daughter that transcends computer programs.

The Heart of Shield

“What if…” shines as a great twist on Daisy’s role in the series. It gives her the usual part of the protagonist, but twists her surroundings completely. The result is an episode that explores past relationships from a new angle and grants even more resonance to her relationship with Coulson. Daisy impacts each scene more than any other character, reminding us why she’s the true heart of SHIELD.

7. Season 1, Episode 20 “Nothing Personal”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

“Nothing Personal” came at the crux of season one’s surprise twist, which saw Grant Ward revealed as a double agent for Hydra. This had a major impact on Skye’s development, as it came right on the heel of her budding romance with Ward. The full ramifications of Ward’s betrayal came to a head in “Nothing Personal.” Ward continues to pretend he’s a good SHIELD agent, while Skye plays along, secretly preparing to give SHIELD his coordinates.

True Colors Revealed

The episode culminates in a confrontation between Ward and Skye on the SHIELD Quinjet, which Ward had usurped for his own purposes. With the cat out of the bag, Skye releases all of her seething rage and pain on Ward. Rather psychotically, Ward continues to play the victim. “Nothing Personal” gives Chloe Bennet plenty of juicy material. She begins the episode hiding her real feelings, and ends it with her feelings fully unleashed.

Daisy and Ward have an increasingly complex and fascinating relationship that plays out over the course of the series’ first four seasons. The dynamic often changes depending on the direction of the season. Yet one of the essential ingredients is Ward’s rather Hannibal Lecter-like feelings for Skye. He refuses to ever harm her, even while he easily kills anyone else he wants. “Nothing Personal” plants the seeds of this abnormal relationship. The episode takes what started as a simple television series “will they or won’t they” dynamic and perverts it into an obsessive “they won’t… but he’ll always try.”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Skye & Ward

The episodic nature of SHIELD and the standard beginning of the Skye and Ward relationship created a fascinating permanent impact. As viewers, we continue to perversely want them to wind up together because the show told us it was meant to be. When Ward was revealed as a serial killer, he kept this hope alive by wanting Skye just as much as the audience. Skye, on the other hand, became symbolic of the audience’s disgust with our own desires. Skye herself clearly still feels these desires, and that makes her physically sick. Chloe Bennet demonstrates this response literally when Ward maintains that his feelings for Skye were always real. Skye responds, with signs of very visible nausea, “I’m gonna throw up.” Despite the disgust, Ward and Skye maintain a very visible sexual tension that never quite leaves the series.

Chloe Bennet Shines

The great depth of this material provides Chloe Bennet with wonderful acting moments. During the sequence in the diner, where Skye is secretly transmitting their location, she’s still pretending to trust Ward. She has to display romantic feelings for him, which up until one episode prior were completely authentic. Now those emotions have been warped and tainted, but they’re still there. They exist along with Skye’s understanding that she has to play up the real part of her emotions while disguising the disgust. It all plays out in a complicated inner turmoil just behind the mask of pure attraction that Chloe Bennet plasters on her face.

Said inner turmoil finally explodes when Skye confronts Ward at the episode’s end. All of those emotions spill out from her, unable to contain them any longer. The complicated nature of Skye’s feelings for Ward drives Chloe Bennet’s performance with intensity and verve. “Nothing Personal” presents just a small sample of the emotional heights the Ward and Daisy relationship will take as the series continues.

6. Season 2, Episode 10 “What They Become”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

By mid-season two, Skye’s original name, Daisy Johnson, had been introduced. Skye still wasn’t ready to accept it though. The only person calling her Daisy was her murderous father, Calvin Zabo. Cal was played by Kyle MacLaughlin with a spine-tingling combination of deep love and profound insanity. Cal spent the first half of the season tracking down his daughter. In the mid-season finale, “What They Become,” they finally come face to face. The interactions between Daisy and Cal take up the bulk of the episode, and dramatic tension fuels them. The meeting is a major turning point for Daisy, and yet another acting benchmark for Chloe Bennet. The actress is called upon to show much more emotional restraint than usual.

Inner Child Emerges

During the scenes between Daisy and Cal, Chloe Bennet portrays the conflicted young agent very much like a helpless child. Cal paces back and forth, delivering monologues about how Daisy’s mother was butchered by Hydra leader Daniel Whitehall. Cal implores Daisy to accept their destiny so they can take vengeance together. All the while, conflict rages across Chloe Bennet’s face. Yet Daisy outwardly expresses little to none of it. She shows only the occasional bursts of anger when Cal casually talks about her current imprisonment. For the most part, Daisy retreats into a childlike state in her father’s presence.

This makes sense. Daisy has been searching for him all her life. Now that she’s found him, she can’t help but freeze. Although, as an adult, she understands he’s a murderer and wants to resist, the child buried within her feels starved for her father’s affection. When she sees him again, that long forgotten child emerges, desperate for love and nourishment — even from a monster. Chloe Bennet portrays this struggle with a deep sense of emotional honesty.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Child vs. Adult

Daisy’s adult self emerges once more as Cal ferociously beats Coulson within an inch of his life. Daisy bursts into the hall, pulling a gun on her father. Chloe Bennet puts on her bravest face as Daisy demands that Cal leaves, or else she’ll shoot him. Filled with love for his daughter, Cal complies. He departs, but not before telling her that he’ll be waiting for her when she’s ready to find him. Daisy firmly holds the gun pointed at Cal, but the cracks begin to show in her face. As Cal walks out the door, the façade breaks down completely. She bursts into tears, as Coulson holds her in his arms. Daisy cries to Coulson, a child again. She sobs that she didn’t have the strength to kill her birth father. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. Coulson, her “true” father, tells her that it’s okay.

Chloe Bennet fully realizes the interplay between a daughter and her two fathers. The push and pull between Daisy’s child and adult selves becomes evident through her performance. Chloe masks the struggle with strength when her birth father is around. She lets the mask fall when the father she really trusts has found her. This speaks volumes about the way the writers’ built the Coulson and Daisy relationship since the pilot. Daisy goes through so much emotional turmoil, but she can’t reveal it to the treacherous Cal. Yet her deep emotional pain had to go somewhere. When Daisy pours it all into Coulson, it feels absolutely justified.

Turning Point

“What They Become” marks a major turning point in Coulson and Daisy’s relationship, and a benchmark in her personal growth. Daisy met her father and stood up to him. She couldn’t kill him, but she survived him. This creates a new level of maturity for Daisy. Chloe Bennet portrays it all with a complex mixture of emotions. The actress taps into the inner struggle of child and adult. As a result, she leaves us with a Daisy Johnson that feels more complete.

5. Season 2, Episode 17 “Melinda”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The first meeting with her mother is in every way the opposite of Daisy’s first meeting with her father. Daisy’s first sit-down with Cal was full of tension and an internal battle between child and adult. Conversely, Daisy’s episode-long interactions with her mom are filled with openness, trust, and understanding. Where Chloe Bennet previously portrayed turmoil, here she displays a pure fountain of love and warmth. There’s no conflict between child and adult because Daisy feels she can trust her mother, Jiaying, completely. Which is heavily ironic, considering Jiaying is far worse a monster than Cal ever was.

A True Monster

In “Melinda,” Daisy walks through the beautiful mountains of her mother’s retreat for Inhumans. It’s a secluded place where people like Daisy can learn to cultivate their powers. Jiaying instructs Daisy to focus her abilities. She uses them alternatively to move mountains and channel small sound frequencies, as they establish a mentor and student bond of trust. It’s at this point that Jiaying chooses to reveal that she’s really Daisy’s mother. Chloe Bennet plays the moment with emotional certainty, bubbling from deep within. As her mother suggests, Daisy knew who Jiaying really was deep down.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Daisy frees herself, becoming completely vulnerable and spilling her deepest feelings to her mother. Meanwhile, Jiaying spins a convincing yarn about how she tried to make up for Daisy’s father’s sins by taking in lost souls like Daisy and teaching them to control their powers. As we learn later on, Cal was Jiaying’s weapon, doing her bidding and killing for her out of love.

With this hindsight, we can see how, during the course of “Melinda,” Jiaying plays on Daisy’s emotional vulnerabilities. This manipulation is designed to lure Daisy to her mother’s side without question. Daisy is particularly vulnerable to this because she’s let her inner child loose. Here Chloe Bennet portrays a Daisy who thinks she doesn’t need the emotional defenses she raised in response to her father. This plays directly into Jiaying’s hands, as she takes full advantage of her daughter’s unadulterated trust. Jiaying takes advantage of her in a way Cal, ironically, never would have.

Dinner for Three

The episode culminates with an intimate dinner between Cal, Jiaying, and Daisy. During the dinner, Daisy’s guard comes back up. By this point, Jiaying has spun Daisy fully into her web. Daisy believes that Cal is the one to mistrust, not Jiaying. The sequence is a fascinating study of manipulation and parental dynamics. Chloe Bennet wonderfully portrays the child caught in the middle of two secretly warring parents. She believes only what she’s being told by the parent she trusts more. This is yet another important step in the evolution of Daisy Johnson, as she’s finally united with both her parents. It’s a union fraught with hidden tension, which will rip them apart completely by season’s end.

4. Season 4, Episode 1 “The Ghost”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Daisy Johnson go full Batman, here’s your chance.

In yet another reinvention of the character, Daisy spends the season four premiere acting as a vigilante detective. “The Ghost” opens with a car speeding down a Los Angeles street, stolen cash in tow. Daisy intercedes, stopping the Watchdogs in their tracks. Yet before she can take them down, a demonic being shows up in the middle of the road. He kills most of the men and leaves Daisy incapacitated. She tracks down the survivor to a hospital and interrogates him. From there Daisy tries on her very own goth-style civilian disguise, casually probing some LA locals for information. Eventually, this leads her to a used car yard, where she encounters none other than Ghost Rider. The two engage in an epic confrontation fit for a fourth act. It leaves Daisy battered and filled with questions about the mysterious nature of her demonic opponent.

AGENTS OF SHIELD Meets Batman

The beats of “The Ghost” follow a classic Batman story. Daisy plays equal parts vigilante and detective, both roles we’ve never really seen her fill prior to this episode. Her civilian disguise and fake backstory are particularly Batman. It suggests Daisy has been reading up on how to play the loner superhero game. It’s great fun to watch Daisy in this new role, and Chloe Bennet seems to have a blast playing it. She’s intimidating when she needs to be, flirty when it gets her the info, and lethal when she’s fighting for her life. Chloe is chameleon-like throughout the episode, playing each variation to a tee.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Daisy is clearly carrying the weight of her boyfriend Lincoln’s death in the previous season finale. It shows in moments of Daisy’s colder-than-usual attitude throughout the episode. Said attitude subtly reminds us there’s a reason Daisy has chosen to remove herself from SHIELD. Perhaps the most interesting dramatic moment comes during the climactic showdown. After Robbie Reyes turns into Ghost Rider, he pins Daisy down, preparing to send her to hell. Instead of fighting back, Daisy begs him to kill her. She proclaims, “I deserve it.” The fascinating moment hearkens back to Daisy’s mood in the last few episodes of season three, when she had been brainwashed by the alien Hive and betrayed the team, which led to Lincoln’s death.

The Ghost of Daisy’s Past

Throughout “The Ghost,” Daisy’s attitude implied she had moved on into a newly confident position, taking on bad guys alone. Yet in this one moment, begging for death, Daisy reveals her true pain. Chloe Bennet plays the moment as someone finally releasing a kernel of truth from beneath layers of lies. Daisy admits her true feelings, and Chloe sells it as a deep moment of relief. Of course, Ghost Rider doesn’t kill her, which forces Daisy to live on.

“The Ghost” restarts Daisy Johnson’s arc, sending her in a fascinating new direction. She’s more cunning and ferocious than ever, but she’s still the same Daisy inside. She’s just buried in her pain and playing the lone hero to compensate. This is the closest Daisy will ever come to being a true vigilante. Now she just needs a Batsuit.

3. Season 3, Episode 15 “Spacetime”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Chloe Bennet takes center stage in this mid-season highlight from AGENTS OF SHIELD’s third season. The episode, “Spacetime,” features an unusual structure. It begins with Daisy experiencing a vision of the future, and ends with the culmination of that vision. The middle of the episode features Daisy doing everything she can to prevent that vision from coming true. This includes some high-stakes training with May, preparing her beat by beat for the intensive battle Daisy witnessed in her vision.

Vision of the Future

The vision itself ends with the death of an innocent Inhuman, Charles, who gave Daisy the vision of his own death. Daisy intends to save Charles at all costs, despite Coulson’s insistence that she sit the mission out. She trains May in her stead, but ultimately is the one to go and live out the vision. Daisy risks everything just to save one man. “Spacetime,” perhaps more than any other episode, highlights the true heart of Daisy Johnson. It illustrates just how noble a hero she’s become.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The episode works on several levels, building fear and anticipation for the ultimate showdown that we’ve technically already seen. The anticipation is in discovering what the vision really meant, and whether or not Daisy can change the outcome. This is Daisy at her most driven. Her determination to save Charles really demonstrates her valor. She’s not just determined to save him, she’s totally consumed by the idea that she can. Anything less would be a failure.

Chloe Bennet, for her part, showcases her determination with palpitating intensity, emoting Daisy’s desperation every step of the way. “Spacetime” is also a terrific showcase for Chloe’s athletic skills. The fight sequence in Hydra’s compound features an uninterrupted moving shot of Daisy’s take-down of five Hydra agents. The scene requires skilled choreography, which Chloe Bennett and the stunt team execute with amazing precision.

SHIELD’s Greatest Hero

Ultimately, Daisy is unable to save Charles. Instead, he saves her. Charles stops Daisy’s deadly beating at the hands of Hydra leader Malick, and he’s mortally wounded in the process. Dying next to a wounded Daisy, Charles asks her to watch over his young daughter, Robin. He begs Daisy to help Robin if she should ever inherit the same powers as him. Daisy, with total disregard for her own injuries, listens attentively and agrees. It’s the kind of moment that indicates just how much Daisy cares about her fellow people, human or Inhuman alike.

Chloe Bennet plays the moment with rapturous attention. Chloe gives all of herself to the other actor in a moving exchange of sentiment. As Charles dies, Daisy experiences yet another vision, in which someone else is killed — a member of SHIELD. Yet again, Daisy’s entire focus becomes saving this unknown teammate. From beginning to end, “Spacetime” showcases the drive and valor of Daisy Johnson. In addition to it being a structurally fascinating and incredibly executed episode, it reminds viewers just why Daisy is SHIELD’s greatest hero.

2. Season 2, Episodes 21 & 22 “S.O.S.”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The two-part season two finale sees many of the story threads involving Daisy, Jiaying, and Cal reach their dramatic conclusion. Daisy witnesses Jiaying murder the psychic Inhuman Raina, in order to protect her plot to frame SHIELD and start a war. Jiaying plans to wipe out SHIELD, and won’t let anyone get in her way — not Cal, not even Daisy. The emotional tumult of Daisy realizing her mom is a psychopath drives the two-part episode. We come to realize that Cal was only killing people at his wife’s bidding. He’d lost himself along the way, but Coulson gets to Cal’s heart. Coulson uncovers the only thing that truly matters to Cal now — Daisy.

A Father’s Love

The episode cleverly subverts everything we had been told about Cal and Jiaying. Daisy, caught in the middle, catches the full sting of this deception. “S.O.S.” marks a massive turning point for Daisy. It puts Chloe Bennet in an unenviable position of playing a daughter literally watching her parents kill each other over her. Daisy confronts her mother on an airfield, trying to reason with her before she releases the lethal Terragen mists across the globe. Yet love was butchered out of Jiaying long ago, and she prepares to kill her own daughter. As Daisy and Jiaying grapple with each other, Cal intervenes. He keeps the promise he’d made to Jiaying years ago; that he’d protect their daughter at all costs. He snaps Jiaying’s neck, and she dies in his arms.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

This sequence is the most powerful and heartbreaking thing AGENTS OF SHIELD has ever given us. It’s full of incredible acting all around, particularly from the criminally underrated Kyle MacLaughlin. Moreover, the sequence puts Chloe Bennet in the incredibly difficult position of holding her own against some acting heavyweights. Yet Chloe succeeds, imbuing the moment with pain, grief, and catharsis. From a writing standpoint, this sequence acts as a phenomenal culmination of Skye’s story. She sought to be reunited with her parents, and she was. Skye had been told lies about her father, so she placed trust in her mother. She lived out this deception and ultimately watched her father save her life. Cal’s redemption fully resolves Skye’s past. She becomes ready to move on and embrace her destiny as Daisy Johnson.

Transformation Complete

Skye’s new path becomes clear as she visits her father one last time. Gifted new memories, Cal is now a practicing veterinarian, allowed to give his love in a new way. Cal doesn’t remember his daughter, but asks for her name. “Daisy,” she says simply. The transformation is now complete. Daisy embraces her destiny by reconciling her past fully and leaving it behind. She embraces her powers and begins a new journey. She’s now becoming a leader and a beacon of hope for the Inhumans.

AGENTS OF SHIELD is Daisy’s journey. Season two is the crucial turning point that allowed her to fully accept her true destiny. “S.O.S.” caps off a fantastic culmination of a two-season plot. It grants a cathartic, emotional resolution for Skye’s family and gives viewers a resonant performance from Chloe Bennet. “S.O.S.” stands as Daisy Johnson’s second most significant episode.

1. Season 3, Episode 22 “Ascension”

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The season three finale, “Ascension” acts as a bookend to “Spacetime” in several interesting ways. It sees the culmination of Daisy’s vision of death coming true. It also sees the fulfillment of Daisy’s promise to Charles. In “Ascension,” Daisy is in a mental state that’s in every way the polar opposite of her condition in “Spacetime.” “Ascension” features Daisy at her lowest point. She’s just come out of a mental trance at the hands of the villainous Hive. The brainwashing was so addictive that Daisy returns to him. Not to fight, but to beg for him to make her whole once more. Where “Spacetime” saw Daisy as her truest self, “Ascension” features a Daisy who looks at herself in the mirror and no longer recognizes who she is. This is Daisy as an addict.

Hive is the third season’s main villain. Grant Ward died in the middle of the season, and the alien Hive took over his body. Hive is named as such because he invades the mind of everyone he touches. The victims feel only love for him, doing his every bidding without care. Inside, they feel nothing but a blissful connection to their master. Earlier in the season, Hive took control of Daisy. She acted as a mole on the team, endangering their lives and nearly killing a few of them. “Ascension” features Daisy confronting Hive. She begs him to take her back and remove the pain and the horrible memories of her betrayal. Hive can’t do it, so Daisy attacks him in a wave of savage fury.

Chloe Bennet Unleashed

Past context fills their fight with so much depth. It isn’t just Daisy fighting an alien. It’s Daisy fighting the specter of Grant Ward. We can feel their sordid history in every ferocious blast of Daisy’s powers. Moreover, Daisy’s addictive need fuels her to the point that she’s inconsolable. Without relief, all she feels is pain. She takes it out on Hive in the most brutal display of her Quake powers we’ve ever seen.

Throughout this sequence, Chloe Bennet gives perhaps the most astonishing performance of her entire run on SHIELD. Her skin is pale, her eyes sunken, her expressions reek of desperation. Said desperation flows through every brutal moment of their battle. There’s a savagery in her blows, unlike anything Chloe Bennet previously brought to an action sequence. Quake has fought as a determined hero. This is Daisy Johnson fighting as a deranged victim. It’s like watching an addict attempt to kill her dealer for drugs. It’s a side no one ever expected to see from Daisy, one that Chloe portrays with visible relish.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Chloe gets to shine again in the episode’s penultimate sequence. It sees her boyfriend, Lincoln Campbell, sacrifice himself in order to kill Hive aboard a spaceship departing Earth’s atmosphere. Daisy’s vision culminates here. Up until that moment, the vision featured a death without an identity. Daisy intended to sacrifice herself to atone for her unwitting crimes. Lincoln stole that destiny from her, literally. All Daisy can do is watch as Lincoln and Hive die in a cosmic explosion beyond her reach.

Devastation and Loss

Daisy breaks down completely, revealing a total vulnerability. Daisy’s had plenty of emotional moments before, but not like this. There’s a sense of complete loss and helplessness. Coupled with Daisy’s feelings of guilt, this packs a gut-wrenching punch. Chloe Bennet delivers a powerhouse of a performance, bringing out raw emotion from a place of profound depth. The sequence features a meshing of actor and character that feels completely authentic.

A New Chapter

A wonderful epilogue caps off the episode. It reveals yet another step in Daisy’s continual evolution. It’s six months later, and Daisy has left SHIELD. She’s taken on the identity of Quake and is now acting as an apparent vigilante. In the final scene, we see Daisy reconnect with Charles’ wife and daughter, making good on the promise she made him. Daisy presents Robin with the wooden carving Charles gave her in “Spacetime.” In the most surprising moment of all, Daisy tells Robin and her mom that she has a friend who works nearby. Daisy’s friend loves animals, and she thinks they’ll really like him.

Chloe Bennet
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

This is a delightful nod to Daisy’s father, Cal. It’s a reference so subtle you’ll probably miss it unless you recently watched the season two finale. Cal, of course, works as a veterinarian now. As we remember from season two, he had a lot of love to give. Who better to give his love to than another woman and child who need protection? This is a wonderful resolution that fulfills Daisy’s promise to two fathers. She keeps her word to protect Charles’ family and fills the missing void in her own father’s life. The Cal thread was left hanging so long ago, it’s amazing the writers were able to suddenly resolve it on such poignantly satisfying terms. Cal gets the family he always wanted, and Daisy finally frees herself from the last vestiges of the past.

Daisy Johnson Complete

“Ascension” marks the full spectrum of development for Daisy Johnson. She begins the episode at her lowest point and manages to build herself back up by the episode’s end. The epilogue reveals a Daisy who has taken on a powerful new role as Quake. Though she’s fled the team, she’s done it on her own terms, fulfilling the role of hero that she was always meant to play. Through all of this, Chloe Bennet portrays Daisy’s various mental and emotional states with utterly convincing authenticity. “Ascension” is the perfect melding of actor and character, offering amazing development for Daisy and an unparalleled performance from Chloe Bennet. “Ascension” is the complete Daisy Johnson experience.

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5 Comments

  1. Aaron Berke

    December 21, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Hi Lobsel. timetravellingbunny defended my point better than I could, so I’ll simply say that Ward never once threatened to rape Daisy. Any insinuation of rape is something you’d have to read REALLY far into to detect, and I simply don’t see that anywhere in Daisy and Ward’s interactions. The other thing is that Ward never really followed Hydra’s ideology, he was only loyal to Garrett. And even if you want to connect Garrett’s ideology to Nazism, Ward completely cast that ideology aside following Garrett’s death. From season 2 onward, Ward followed his own path and his own ideology, and any lingering connection to Hydra was about Ward imposing his own ideology onto Hydra, not the other way around. In other words, there was zero connection between Nazism and Ward by season 2.

    Reply

  2. Aaron Berke

    December 21, 2017 at 2:33 am

    Thanks for the comments! I appreciate the detail and really agree with all of your points. Ward’s most specific rejection of the Nazi label came in “Nothing Personal” when he outwardly rejected the comment from Skye, whose resentment was understandable, but technically off the mark. And even if someone wants to believe Ward was a Nazi at that point in the show, he clearly ceased being a Hydra “agent” after Garrett’s death. So from season 2 onward, any lingering connection between Ward and Hydra’s original Nazi ideology was definitively cast aside.

    Thanks again for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the article.

    Reply

  3. timetravellingbunny

    December 20, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    This was, of course, a reply to Lobsel Vith. I don’t know why it doesn’t show like that.

    The article itself is great.

    Reply

  4. timetravellingbunny

    December 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    This again? Ward did a lot of messed up stuff, but he never threatened to rape anyone, except in the fanon of some portions of the fandom, in spite of the fact that you really need to ignore the obvious context of that scene to come away with that interpretation. Not that planning to kidnap her and make her find her “true nature” (which he actually did go on to try to do in season 2) isn’t messed up, but rape it’s not.

    The “PoC protagonist being paired with a Nazi” is also major BS. It’s the kind of thing that sounds really good if you haven’t seen the show and have no idea what’s really going on in it, but makes no sense when you know that neither Ward nor Hydra are actually Nazis – while Ward himself was always pretty disinterested in any ideology, Hydra as portrayed in MCU and AoS specifically is simply a generic villainous secret organization with nebulous goals like “world domination” (which change from season to season) and never displays any signs of actually pursuing anything resembling Nazism. (The extent of the Nazi link is that they used to work with Nazis in WW2 and that a couple of characters on the show call them Nazis, but if the show ever intended to portray them as Nazis, they failed miserably at every turn.) Not only do they not show any interest in antisemitism or white supermacism or theory of “superior” and “inferior” races, but they seem to have a recruitment policy just as diverse as SHIELD. They seem to be OK with absolutely everyone participating in their evil plans, with a number of PoC even in their leadership (from Sitwell to Bakshi to the Middle Eastern sheik who was one of their heads). The PoC protagonist could have just as well been a member of MCU Hydra as Ward (and in fact, in the Framework version, she was, where Melinda May was the 3rd ranked member in the Hydra leadership), which makes this argument especially hollow.

    But, of course, in fandom character/shipping wars and rants, it’s really useful to use loaded words like “Nazi” and ‘rapist”. The former because “Nazis” has become an empty word that doesn’t mean anything other than “evil” (and makes you wonder if the people using that word even have any clue what Nazism is). The latter because “Rape is a Special Kind of Evil”, so that label is really popular especially in shipping wars and rants against male characters. Because apparently being a multiple murderer and terrorist just isn’t bad enough – nope, you need to call a male character a rapist (no matter how contrived your argument has to be) and then you’re good!

    And this is exactly why the hardcore anti-Ward portion of the fandom is really annoying. About as annoying as the hardcore pro-Ward portion of the fandom. Any remotely interesting discussion about the fictional character and storylines and themes of the show gets shot down by people ranting at each other – and also anyone with a more moderate view who disagrees with either of these groups. At least the extreme pro-Ward folk have mostly left the fandom, so I don’t have to deal with them, but the hardcore Ward haters are still being annoying every time he’s even mentioned re:AoS.

    Reply

  5. Lobsel Vith

    December 20, 2017 at 10:45 am

    The one major thing I’d disagree with your article is that I’m pretty sure Ward threatening to rape Daisy, along with Ward turning out to work for a offshoot Nazi organization, killed any sort of interest a lot of folks had in seeing Ward and Daisy together. You might be conflating the desire some Ward fans had to see him hijack the show with what Daisy fans wanted, because the PoC protagonist being paired with a Nazi was not it.

    Reply

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