Warning: This article contains spoilers!

Disney Marvel's Agents of SHIELD ratings

Agent Ward in Disney Marvel's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.', Image source: shieldtv.net

As if it weren't enough to watch in horror last week as the adorable Agent Simmons took a stunning sans-parachute gainer out the back of an airplane, tonight's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has hinted at more of the same.

To be sure, the folks at Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC issued the following teaser description late last week:

Dangerous secrets are being kept from Coulson's team, and he works the system to save Ward and Fitz when they are sent on a Level 8 classified mission that may end in tragedy.

What's more, as has become commonplace for hacker-extraordinaire Skye, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s cryptic plans once again prove hard to swallow -- especially when she finds out the mission apparently doesn't include helping Agents Ward and Fitz escape whatever sticky situation they're entering.

The result is this intriguing little argument between Skye and Agent Coulson:

For those of you keeping track, remember Agent Coulson was rebuked just before the credits rolled last week for intentionally disobeying a direct order from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters -- even though that order involved dumping Simmons out the back of the plane. And when Agent Blake threatened "someone might decide to take this little dream team away from you," Coulson defiantly responded, "I'd like to see them try."

Call me crazy, but something tells me this week's conflict could be the spiteful result of Coulson's insubordination.

Of course, I find it hard to believe Disney and Marvel would be crazy enough to allow the snubbing of one of the show's primary characters in the first place, let alone just as it's really gaining traction with fans. However, you can be sure I'm not alone in dying to find out what happens tonight.

After all, a quick look at any of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s social networking pages is filled with exclamations of why last week's episode was the best one yet. But did anyone truly believe the team wouldn't find a way, however improbable, to save Simmons from her literal mid-air death spiral? I don't think so. But it was emotionally jarring nonetheless, and nothing could have torn me away from the screen to see how it ended.

Here's why that's great for ratings

But this sort of propensity for fostering outrageously entertaining suspense is exactly what makes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so appealing, and why last Tuesday capped its sixth consecutive week as the number-one show in the key men's 18 to 49 year-old demographic. I suppose it also helps that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is happily guilty by association with its hugely popular box office counterparts -- including a significant tie-in with Thor: The Dark World planned for the Nov. 19 episode --  but I'm now convinced that's a crutch on which the show no longer needs to rely.

In the end, while I don't think Coulson's dream team will be dismantled anytime in the near future, there's no reason tonight shouldn't mark Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s seventh week atop the ratings heap for its coveted target audiences.