The preliminary ratings for last night's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are in, and it looks like the show scored a 2.0 rating with a total of about 5.4 million viewers, which puts at a slight increase from last week, but still less than half the rating of the series debut, and in the bottom five of all episodes. The good news is that things seem to be leveling off. The bad news is that it's leveled off at a crappy number, and Marvel Studios big wig Jeph Loeb has stooped to asking fans to beg ABC to keep it on the air:
Marvel.com: Bringing Maria Hill back is always something that I really hear fans clamoring for ever she since appeared in the pilot. Is there any opportunity to see more of her in the future?
Jeph Loeb: Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Jeffrey Bell: In our world, we’re for it. [But first] we need a second season.
Jeph Loeb: Let’s start with everyone who’s reading this, please take your S.H.I.E.L.D. badge and mail it to ABC and tell them that you want more S.H.I.E.L.D.
The sad thing is that the show has actually been much better lately, but a majority of its potential audience already gave up on it thanks to a slow start and countless long breaks between episodes designed to allow the Marvel Movieverse to catch up with the show's crossover episodes, which was, in retrospect, probably a poorly thought out strategy.
In any case, because we're assholes, here's a list of the top five lowest rated episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
5. Episode 15 - Yes Men
An attempt to boost ratings with a tie-in to Thor: The Dark World featuring Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif and the introduction of Lorelei as a villain was a roaring success, that is, if the goal was to score the (at that time) second lowest rating in the show's history. Perhaps it was a case of "too little, too late," as this sort of tie-in with the Marvel cinematic universe was what fans were expecting from the beginning of the show, not the latter half of the season. The show got a 2.1 rating with 5.99 million viewers.
4. Episode 16 - End of the Beginning
This episode saw the plot pick up as we were treated to major advancements in the Clairvoyant storyline as the team confronts a (fake) Clairvoyant (who is murdered in cold blood by Agent Ward), as well as the team finding out about Agent May's secret phone calls reporting on them phone call storyline as Fitz discovers she has a secure secret phone line. The show was finally firing on all cylindars and we even got another appearance from Independence Day star Bill Paxton. All of this was rewarded with a 2.0 rating and 5.71 million total viewers.
3. Episode 18 - Providence
Last night's episode, at least based on preliminary numbers, has earned the mediocre number three spot on the list. Following a huge Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in the week before that sent shock waves throughout the MArvel TVverse universe, the show barely managed to move the dial, scoring the same rating in the 18-49 demographic (a 1.9), but with an extra 30,000 viewers or so. Basically, the readership of a canceled Marvel comic book.
2. Episode 17 - Turn Turn Turn
This was the big one, the tie-in with a blockbuster movie right after opening weekend, guest stars a-plenty, the climax of several plot points, and a complete "re-pilot" of the entire series, with S.H.I.E.L.D. torn asunder by HYDRA infiltrators, the death of Victoria Hand, the reported death of Nick Fury, and the betrayal of Agent Ward. It resulted in a big fat 1.9 rating with 5.37 million viewers. That's actually the lowest number of total viewers in the history of the show, but the crucial demo rating was slightly higher than our number one lowest rated episode:
1. Episode 14 - T.A.H.I.T.I.
Featuring a major development in the driving plot point of the first half of the season - what happened to Agent Coulson after he died - and also following a previous episode cliffhanger that saw Skye shot and in critical condition, this episode kicked off an era of unprecedented low ratings for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with a 1.8 share of the 18-49 demo and 5.46 million viewers. That was a drop of over one million from the previous episode. It was also the first time the series (which debuted at over twelve million) dropped below 6 million (a height to which it has yet to recover). Nice job, T.A.H.I.T.I.
Who was that blue alien in the tank? A better question is: who cares? By the time it's revealed, there will be be no one left watching!
We ranked the list above based on the all-important 18-49 demographic rating, but if you wanted to rank it in total viewers, the order would be: Yes Men, End of the Beginning, T.A.H.I.T.I., Providence, and Turn Turn Turn. In any case, it represents the last five episodes to air, which isn't a good sign. There are some theories that ABC was tolerant of the ratings slide as part of a long term plan where the show needed to do some world building to set up the shocking twist brought on by Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That may indeed be the case, which could bode well for another season of the show. The question is whether they will be able to recover the lost confidence of the over six million viewers who initially tuned in but slowly lost faith.
Personally, despite all my shit talking, I hope they're able to pull it off. These lowest rated episodes have also been the best in the series so far, and it's finally close to being the show everyone wanted it to be. Too bad there may not be enough people who know that to save it from the dreaded Whedon curse.
If only you'd all signed the petition to save this show from cancelation we started WAY BACK in August of 2012, before it was even in production, we could have prevented this.
Toot Toot, Uncle Rich!