If Joss was the regular show-runner, hands-down it would be #1. With it being Jed and Marissa, I'm leaning more towards 3. I did like the Dollhouse reference. It's just a small in-joke, and clues people in about 20 seconds earlier that there's something fishy going on here. And DarthMane2, I'm happy you have nothing to do with the production. Doing what you say would ensure that it wouldn't have even reached the back 9 pick-up. There is a reason that Buffy is as beloved a show across the demographics as it is. There's a reason that Smallville lasted as long as it did, and was strong for many years (under Gough and Millar). There's a reason that a station notorious for axing things early stuck with Fringe for its entire run. There's a reason that Arrow is setting the new standard for 'superhero' serialised viewing. The focus has to be on the characters. They are what draw you in and make you invest in a show. You need to start off developing the mains into people that viewers want to come back to again and again, while slowly setting up a broader story arc. Lost taught everyone the lesson that too much mythology too quickly leads to problems down the line because you then make that the centre of the show. And if they were to go full on Morrison/David/Bendis mode on the show, they would have to keep upping themselves every week to prevent sharp drops in ratings. Which means that by now we'd be seeing full Asgardians battling it out in the streets and be on the verge of seeing the Armor Wars storyline swing into full gear (with Civil War or Dark Reign being the back 9 story). While some of the more enthusiastic comics fans want to see the pages of their favourite stories come to life, that won't hold the attention of the general public who will happily deal with the more fantastic elements in a movie because it only requires a short investment into the story, and because Marvel have managed to actually tell good stories at the same time with each of the Avengers-family movies. That's not to say that SHIELD couldn't be moving things a bit quicker and having some better characterisations, but frankly this is what I was expecting. We have what is likely a roadmap for the season (and show) from Joss, being executed by others. The last time that happened there were similar results until the full show-runners were able to wrap themselves around the overarching mythology and play with it as if it was their story from the start (I'm talking about Angel for those that haven't caught on). Frankly once they have resolved the Coulson resurrection question, people will start to have a lot more patience and appreciate what is going on. Everyone wants that answer and aren't thrilled that they have to wait for it. I'm hoping though that they do hold onto people like Frakes who will be an asset in telling good stories. That's essentially where they are at, trying to assemble the crew of regular writers and directors that can rotate through and tell a consistent and well executed story.