Agent’s of SHIELD season 3 episode,“Closure,” saw Coulson give up his position as Director of SHIELD to Mack. While the designation was only temporary, Agents of SHIELD would be best served to make it permanent. Assuming Coulson survives his trip to the alien planet in “Maveth”, which he more than likely will, his tenure as director of SHIELD should be over. The reason is quite simple. Coulson is absolutely terrible at his job.
You can understand why Nick Fury gave Coulson the job at the end of season 1. Coulson was one of the most experienced agents at the time. He had a strong belief in what SHIELD stands for and he had a team that followed him. There’s also the behind-the-scenes reason that Coulson was the most popular and well-liked character at the time. He was already the lead of Agents of SHIELD and becoming director was just a formality.
If SHIELD had such things as performance reviews, Coulson probably would’ve failed them multiple times in the intervening years. He has been director in a tumultuous time for the organization but Coulson’s way of dealing with the turmoil has been less than professional.
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Coulson’s Weak Spot for Women
Coulson’s biggest problem is probably how narrow minded and hyper focused he gets on one singular person. It’s not a quality that any leader of a super-secret spy organization should have when they are evidently making decisions that affect the entire world. For the first couple seasons of Agents of SHIELD, Coulson was nearly as obsessed as Daisy (then named Skye) as Grant Ward. It was a different kind of obsession. Coulson had a fatherly affection for Daisy and Ward had a more I want to keep you in my basement and make you my bride “affection”. It was just as destructive.
The damaging effect of Coulson’s feelings for Daisy was felt when the Inhumans went up against SHIELD. SHIELD and Coulson were facing a global devastating threat but his primary concern was for Daisy. Daisy was an important part of the Inhumans plan but there were bigger factors in play. It is really more up to Daisy and the rest of the team that Inhumans were stopped. Coulson just kind of ran around, fighting people and looking for his surrogate daughter.
The same issues plagued Coulson in his relationship with Roz. Coulson did remain suspicious of Roz because anything less would have been utter incompetence. He was still a little too enamored with his new lady friend in season 3. Coulson often makes decisions with his heart and not his head. This is not a quality of someone who should be running an organization like SHIELD.
Coulson loses a lot of creditability when he yells at Hunter for going after Ward just for revenge. Or when he tells Fitz that he needs to give up the search for Jemma. Its advice and guidance the director of SHIELD should give, but Coulson has never practices what he preaches. He is just as impulsive and reckless, if not more so, then the people under his command.
Coulson’s Is Lost without His Team
One of Coulson’s good qualities is his ability to form a strong team. He organized the Avengers and he brought the agents on Agents of SHIELD together under one banner. Coulson is also a reasonably good delegator. He knows what his people are good at and where to place them. This means that Coulson was the type of leader that SHIELD needed when it was first reforming. Now that SHIELD is on more solid footing it’s time for Coulson to step back and abdicate his director chair. The team that Coulson has formed is way more competent without his leadership.
SHIELD successes over the past few seasons have had very little to do with Coulson’s tactical brilliance. Coulson’s plans aren’t awful but it is usually because of the team surrounding him that he makes the right decision. Every season of SHIELD, Coulson has had a babysitter on the team. May and Mack aren’t just trusted advisors for Coulson, they exist to keep him in check. Their job is too make sure Coulson doesn’t mess up too badly. While this suggests some savviness on Coulson’s part, he accepts his weakness. It also means that one of Coulson’s primary weaknesses is that he can’t confidently lead a team.
Without agents like Mack, May and even Bobbi, Coulson would have destroyed SHIELD before it ever got off the ground. It is because of his “subordinates” making Coulson reconsider his decisions once, twice and even thrice that SHIELD has survived. There’s rarely been a decision that Coulson has made without serious influence from the other members on his team, at least any good decisions.
Coulson’s Strength Is in the Field
Coulson is not completely useless. Far from it actually, his strength is just not behind the desk. While “Closure” underlined how terrible Coulson is as a director, he once again went diving headfirst into trouble. It also reminded audiences that Coulson is a bad-ass. Coulson escaped an entire building of Ward’s Hydra foot soldiers. This wasn’t just plot armor in use either, Coulson kicked all kinds of ass on his way out.
Coulson’s strongest moments on Agents of SHIELD have been when he shows experience fighting bad guys. When Coulson unleashes he’s as much a force to reckoned with as Bobbi or May. There are multiple people who could do Coulson’s job as director. Mack has only had one episode as director of SHIELD but he is already way more confident and commanding as director than Coulson has ever been. If Mack doesn’t want the job Daisy, Bobbi or May could also try their hand at being director. People can do Coulson’s job as director better than him. Not everyone can fill Coulson’s shoes on the ground, especially since he has a super powerful, killer robot hand now.
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But what do you think? Is Coulson a terrible director of SHIELD? Is he more lucky than successful? Or is Coulson the reason SHIELD has survived? Do you think that when he recovers from the grief of Roz’s death he’ll be able to take back his old job? Or is the position better in Mack’s hands? Do you think Coulson will even survive the midseason finale, “Maveth”?
Agents of SHIELD season 3 airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC.
(Images courtesy of ABC)