Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is bringing in some heavy firepower for the close of its inaugural season, as both Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson will be making appearances, the former during sweeps week, the later for the season finale. But we’re curious how invested Disney and Marvel are in this project, as it may be a series finale.

The news of Smulder’s involvement comes from TV Line, while it was Vulture that got Jackson to reveal he was coming back. What makes this interesting is how it reflects on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so there’s spoilers from here on out. At the end of Cap 2, both Smulder’s Agent Hill and Jackson’s Nick Fury have left S.H.I.E.L.D. behind because they found out it was infiltrated by HYDRA. Hill has joined the private sector, while Fury has left for parts unknown.  But more importantly, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been corrupted to the point that it seems unlikely the government would want it around. That was reflected in last night’s episode of the show Turn, Turn, Turn which introduced some of this into that world.

This change in direction (or some would say “actual stakes,” scratch that, we would say actual stakes) could be the jolt in the arm the series needed, but that wasn’t reflected in the ratings from last night. The show hit a series low of 4.91 million viewers, and scored a low 1.7 rating in the 18-49 demo.  S.H.I.E.L.D. was a gamble as a show, and it’s one of the more costly hour-long dramas on air, so something big needs to happen for the show to either level out or rise again. One would think that would be Cap 2, which directly impacted the world of Agents in such a way you would think there would be a bigger audience for last night’s episode, but it didn’t bring back the 11.9 million viewers (and 4.6 rating in the demo) that the season premiere offered.

Marvel has laid groundwork for Netflix-based limited edition series, and a possible Agent Carter spin-off, though S.H.I.E.L.D. was seemingly meant to be a flagship. It would make sense to keep it around for a second year leading up to the premiere of The Avengers: The Age of Ultron, but the connective tissue between this organization and group of characters and The Avengers has now been severed and director Joss Whedon has said he no interest in bringing back Coulson. Perhaps the series has more value in synergy, but we’re not entirely sure we’ll be getting a sophmore season. If it does, Marvel and Disney will likely give it a short order and keep an eye on it.

Do you still watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?