Ok, for real: what's going on with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ratings?

Ok everyone, this was going to be it, the big one that ABC promised all along would be the episode that AoS promised to give us from the very beginning. Yes, I am aware of the redundancy of the use of the word "promise." Up to this point that's almost the entirety of the show - promise after promise, and when we thought they'd deliver it was followed up with even more "promise." It was an IOU with a note on the back that said, "oh yeah, this is an IOU for the real IOU I owe you."

Well guess what, AoS finally, finally delivered in full. I don't think there's any doubt that this week's episode represented the actual series people were expecting - certainly the series I had hoped for. It had action! It had legitimately shocking revelations and turns of events! It had HYDRA! It tied into that new movie that it was actually supposed to tie into, and not in an incredibly lame manner either! Yet not necessarily in a manner that actually required watching the movie, in case you didn't feel like waiting in line with the crowds (though it did end up having - debatable - minor spoilers for the movie itself). The was the episode that would've brought the audiences back. This should've been the episode that brought audiences back.

The only problem is, it didn't.

According to Zap2It's TVByTheNumbers and Amanda Kondolojy, AoS in fact scored the lowest ratings the show has had yet - a 1.9 Nielsen rating/6-share, or translating to 5.4 million viewers. You can see how it compares to the competition in the link enclosed, but needless to say, not well. Only reruns, the beleaguered FOX network and the very shows AoS was supposed to lead into performed worse.

So what's happening, ratings wise? There's the usual suspects:

* After all that undelivered promise, audiences simply thought ABC was crying wolf. The show started off with a pat supervillain-of-the-week format, slowly building up to "The Clairvoyant" while mostly retaining the same formula, and then finally concluding that storyline with this episode while finally bringing HYDRA into the plot. ABC told us up front to "trust no one," but it may be that the one thing audiences decided to mistrust the most was ABC itself.

* Audiences didn't much care to tune in to get the message in the first place. This latest datapoint follows the trend that's been continuing since the premiere. With few exceptions the headlines at TVByTheNumbers has been a new ratings low for AoS for each new weekly premiere. Of course, this is related to the above: the number of holdouts will decrease as they remain convinced that the show's going to remain stagnant after each week. But can this episode drum up enough good word-of-mouth to bring people back?

There is a third possibility too: that the episode itself didn't manage to wow audiences even with the goods it delivered on. But I'm going to throw this out to the rest of Observation Deck. What do you think? Do you think AoS can continue to deliver from this point on? Do you think this episode was good enough to right the ship, or is it simply too little, too late? Or was it even all that good in the first place?

Photo from "uncle_shoggoth" via Wikipedia, used under Creative Common License