Jiaying is the main antagonist in the second half of the second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She is the leader of the Inhumans and Skye's biological mother. Her abilities include regeneration and semi-immortality. Unfortunately, in order to live, she has to drain life force from other Inhumans.
She was portrayed by Dichen Lachman.
Jiaying's past is mostly shrouded in mystery, due to her "immortality". What is known is that she was an Inhuman who would help other Inhumans come to grips with their abilities and, in time, master them. During World War II, a madman named Weiner Reinhardt captured her after obtaining something called "the Obelisk", which is tied with the Inhuman species. Only an Inhuman could touch it without dying, so when Jiaying touched it, she was exposed as abnormal. Reinhardt wanted to experiment on her so they can learn how abnormal she really is, but with the Allies and their armies (led by Peggy Carter of the Strategic Scientific Reserve) coming soon, they had to flee. Jiaying was imprisoned for many years, but released by Peggy, who saved her after capturing Reinhardt. In 1983, she started helping other Inhumans after they were mutated, the first person being an eyeless teleporter named Gordon, who couldn't see after being mutated by Terrigenesis.
At some point, she found work at a clinic in the Hunan Province of China, where she met Calvin Zabo. They grew romantically-attached and had a baby girl on July 2, 1988; Daisy Johnson/Skye. In 1989, she was captured again by Reinhardt, who had aged considerably since Peggy imprisoned him in World War II. Reinhardt recognized Jiaying and, upon seeing that she has aged so slowly over 44 years, "dissects" her. She was subjected to torture and was cut open, with all her organs removed and put into Reinhardt so he could get immortality. After Reinhardt was done, he dumped her away like trash, where Calvin saved her by "putting her back together". Her healing powers brought her back to life, but now she was reborn with a deep hatred towards humanity. As they searched for their daughter, Jiaying made Zabo massacre villages so that she could absorb the bodies' life force and keep immortality. During this time, a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were dispatched to a village and were slaughtered. The entire village was slaughtered except a baby. As Raina revealed to Grant Ward, the monsters were the baby's parents. Raina knew about this because she had been travelling with Calvin for several years. At some point, Jiaying started a settlement nicknamed Afterlife in the snow-capped mountains, where Inhumans would hide from the world so they can learn what they are without being watched by the world around them.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
When Skye got her powers of destruction in a Kree temple under Puerto Rico, she began to fear for everyone around her. This led to Gordon, now an adult, to take her to Afterlife after meeting her. Prior to this, Gordon had also taken Raina, who was there when the temple caused Terrigenesis and grew spikes all over her body, to Afterlife, where she would later discover that she can see the future. Skye's newfound superpower was to cause earthquakes, getting the attention of Jiaying. She doesn't reveal that she is her mother. Skye was taught how to cause a controlled avalanche and even vibrate water in glasses. Jiaying would hear stories from Skye about moving around lots with no knowledge of her parents and seemed terrified that her father was a murderous sociopath. She reveals to Skye (real name Daisy) that she is her mother. She told Skye a story about an Inhuman named Eva who stole Terrigen crystals (which were needed to transform people) for her daughter Katya and that both of them died. Skye then remembers hearing this story from S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Melinda May and hears that she had killed the both of them, thus getting the nickname of "the cavalry". Jiaying asks Skye to sit down and have dinner with her father, who had been brought here by Gordon. Though Skye was hesitant to, she decided to do it. He flared up later, which made Jiaying think that perhaps he should leave Afterlife. She has Gordon leave Zabo in his office in New York and eventually hears of one of their own getting taken by S.H.I.E.L.D.; Lincoln Campbell. She contemplated leaving Lincoln behind, as it would threaten the safety of Afterlife, but Skye decided to save him, as he was actually in the hands of HYDRA, the real reason why Jiaying disliked S.H.I.E.L.D.
Jiaying visited Raina and is described of a vision of "metal men tearing apart our cities" (foreshadowing the events to come in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Another side of the vision included a "Monolith" that could present a great danger to Afterlife. Jiaying realizes that the Monolith, which was in S.H.I.E.L.D. hands, was built by the Kree to wipe out the Inhumans. She sent Gordon and Raina to find it so that they can steal it. The plan to abandon Zabo didn't work, as he was still in Afterlife. He planned with Gordon, Jiaying and Raina to snatch the Monolith from the S.H.I.E.L.D. battleship where it was being held. Gordon left and brought Skye and Lincoln back, as they were in the hands of HYDRA, to Afterlife. Jiaying told Zabo that S.H.I.E.L.D. was coming to discuss peace negotiations, causing Zabo to flip out. She asked Zabo about the Index (a list by S.H.I.E.L.D. of people with superpowers), causing to believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted all the Inhumans to be locked away forever. Raina knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. would arrive, so Jiaying had her locked away so that she can't warn S.H.I.E.L.D. of Jiaying's plans. Jiaying was met by S.H.I.E.L.D. official Robert Gonzales and he suggested they keep a list of people that could keep track of what happened at Afterlife, believing that any one of them would be evil, but Jiaying, horrified thinking that one would suggest this, pulled out a Terrigen crystal and claimed that she wouldn't allow this. She proceeded to give a visual presentation of what she planned by dropping the crystal, shattering it and exposing Gonzales to the mist inside; seeing as how only an Inhuman was immune to this, Gonzales was turned into a statue. Jiaying took his gun and shot herself in the shoulder so that everyone would assume that Gonzales tried to kill her and declared war on S.H.I.E.L.D., exposing her for the evil sociopath she is.
An Inhuman named Wliton healed Jiaying and claimed that Gonzales attacked her, causing everyone to think that the agents should leave forever. She sucked the life force out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to maintain her youth and planned an attack on a battleship where the Monolith was held. She talked Skye into joining in on the raid. Raina escaped confinement and was met by Jiaying, who proceeded to stab Raina in the throat. However, when Skye saw what just happened, she was locked away so she couldn't stop what was coming. She and Gordon led a team of Inhumans to the battleship and had S.H.I.E.L.D. on the run, but then noticed that a band of Quinjets were approaching. When all but one broke formation and turned around, Jiaying concluded that Skye got out of prison. The Inhumans sent out a beacon to lure all available S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives to the ship and kill all of them. Gordon used a Terrigen crystal to kill a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Zabo appeared and decided to save S.H.I.E.L.D., but he was locked in a room by Gordon when he tried talking them out of their evil plan. Outside, Jiaying had the Terrigen crystals loaded onto a Quinjet and was confronted by Skye. Jiaying attempted to convince Skye that they are the very reason why S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, but this doesn't stop Skye from using her powers to blow the Quinjet into the ocean, causing the Terrigen crystals to be lost at sea forever. Jiaying grabbed Skye and attempted to absorb her life force, but then Zabo appeared. He lifted Jiaying into the air and broke her spine, killing her and stopping her plans.
|“||Before Whitehall, an elder would sacrifice themselves every few decades so she could live on, carry on tradition. She would weep, scream, beg them not to, she had a good heart Phil, she did, it was just, torn out.||„|
|~ Calvin Zabo|
Jiaying acted as a leader and mother figure to all of the Inhumans under her care, and her strictness to adhere to the rules of their people was motivated by her strong desire to protect them. However, Jiaying's role as leader also divided her duties and her humanity. She could be very gentle, rapturous, and compassionate when allowed to be, but her duty to the Inhumans made her choices questionable. While she loved her daughter, Daisy Johnson, she insisted that their relationship remain a secret from others to avoid favoritism. But more significantly, she convinced her daughter to have a family dinner together with her father, Calvin Zabo, because even after she left him and knew what he has become, she remembered the good man he used to be, and that she owed their reunion to him. But not long after that, her duty as leader of the Inhumans again made her indifferent with non-Inhumans, which extended to Zabo. Despite him being responsible for reuniting her with their daughter, she intended to abandon him without saying a word to him. She was not at all concerned about the people who might get hurt if Zabo got angry at her betrayal and became completely violent and aggressive again, because she felt that her duty to protect her own people was more important than the risk of Zabo harming the people he would come in contact with after Gordon was to leave him.
It later became apparent that the trauma she suffered from Daniel Whitehall gave her a long-lasting lack of empathy, or even a deep hatred, towards people not of her kind. While Zabo says that she used to have a deep empathy and love for all people, even crying while draining the necessary life-force from Elders with their permission, HYDRA's cruel treatment erased any compassion for non-Inhumans, with her desire to lead and protect the Inhumans becoming so obsessive that her indifference towards non-Inhumans became absolutely callous, spiteful, murderous. Despite being victimized by HYDRA, she continued to blame S.H.I.E.L.D. for what happened to her. She rejected Robert Gonzales' attempts to negotiate with her peacefully and murdered him, and to protect her people from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Index, she deceived her people to fight a war against S.H.I.E.L.D., and didn't hesitate to use the Terrigen Crystals to petrify the human prisoners. She even killed Raina and attempted to kill her own daughter, Daisy, when each of them threatened to stop her war against S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Although Season 2 had several villains, Jiaying turned out to be the main villain of the season because she had bigger plans than anyone else, which made her the biggest threat of the season.
- In the overall story of season 2, Jiaying is the main antagonist, Daniel Whitehall is secondary, Ward is tertiary, Sunil Bakshi and Dr. List as minor villains
- She and her ex-husband Calvin Zabo were both called monsters, though in reality because of her manipulative and hateful nature, she was by far much more monstrous than Calvin.
- Jiaying is similar to Magneto, as she wants her kind to live peacefully at the expense of humanity. They also have history with being persecuted by Nazis, which is the reason for their evil plans.
- Though she willingly does the things she does, her actions can be reasonably blamed on Whitehall as if not for the brutal torture he put her through, she never would have become the person she was in the aftermath of the trauma.
- Her fears of the monolith was proven to be justified in the next season as it would reveal that it was a portal that lead to the planet, Maveth, where an immensely powerful and evil inhuman was imprisoned there by other inhumans centuries ago and HYDRA wants to bring him back to Earth. It's even thought that Jiaying wanted to control the monolith so no one can bring it back, though in Paradise Lost, the Afterlife Inhumans were descendants of the Inhumans that he led against the Kree for an Orb-like weapon, leaving her speculated to free Hive.