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In a shock to no one, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been picked up for a full season. That was never in question. What will be interesting is to see if the show can figure itself out and hold on to viewers. Neither are guaranteed (though a second season seems likely).

Here’s the drill. The series premiere had one of the highest ratings for a debut episode in a long time, but the second week saw a sharp ratings drop. It went from 11.9 million viewers to 8.7 million viewers. This last week’s episode “The Asset” didn’t lose as many audience members, but was at 7.9 million, which is still off. An audience of 8 million and a 2.9 rating aren’t stellar — in comparison CBS’s NCIS had nearly 18 million viewers while NBC’s The Voice – which costs a fraction of the budget to produce — had ten million viewers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is also more likely to attract a younger demographic and is also watched online (legally and illegally) by additional viewers, so it’s harder to get a hold on 21st century ratings. The show isn’t a phenomenon, but if they can keep around these numbers ABC won’t give up.

That said, S.H.I.E.L.D. — which is on its third episode — hasn’t found its groove yet, and though many find it entertaining, it’s lost audience members since the pilot (think how many shows have buzzed about pilots, then think about how many of those show end up terrible) and many fans seem to be hate-watching it. On top of which producer Joss Whedon has had problems keeping shows on the air. But also, this is Marvel’s flagship television show and it’s supposed to help keep Marvel in the air and on the air. Unless it has a poisonous impact, it’s possible they’ll want to keep it going to a hundred episodes out of pride, unless it bleeds money. Again, the question is: can they crack it and hold on to, if not increase, their audience? Or will this be a polite failure?

When do you think the first petition to save Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will hit the internet?