“What I Want Is…”

And What About You?

Alan Sepinwall has seen the promised land, apparently. And it is good.

I’m typing this blog post with a goofy smile plastered across my face, and I suspect it’s not going away for a while.

Uh, what? This is supposed to be a professional critic, hard bitten and jaded?

Oh boy. If he’s suppressing a grin, season 3 is going to be good [Joe smacks his lips]. As Roak said, I’m exited… What a rush!

Ah! Here is the problem – It’s the problem of great expectations. I’ve already said that I’d rather see the writers’ and creators’ vision of the Chuck story instead of my own. But my imagination is working overtime. Resisting best I can, I have a bad habit of ending the story my way, before it’s finished their way. I try to keep that to myself. Really, I do. And I don’t want to see my fondest desires satisfied just yet.

Even so, it’s hard to not put down in pixels what I hope to see this coming season. So here goes.

When we last left the Buy More, everything had changed. Morgan and Anna were headed to Hawaii, Chuck and Casey had quit. Emmett seemed defeated. Remember how the denizens of the boards were saddened by the apparent loss of the Buy More as a set, but encouraged by the introduction of the Subway franchise? Well, much of that was just not the way things are going to turn out, we know.

I love the Buy More and the Buy Morons. I don’t want them to go. Yet, I too wanted to see a change there, and the idea of a new venue (not to mention a strong tie to the corporate sponsors) seemed, in the end, to be a great idea. In other words, I have the contradictory emotions of wanting things to change, and wanting them to stay the same. Please don’t go, Anna! And we hope to see you back in season 3.5!

What I want is even more contradictory. The Buy More could go away completely, and that would not lessen the show for me one bit. I want the Buy More and the Buy Morons to stay and be funny and wonderful. And I want to see them be different, larger and more central to Chuck, and more than just comic relief.  Just as I hoped (Ellie too!), Chuck has outgrown them. He needs to be gone from there, yet I want Chuck to need the Buy More, and for the Buy Morons to need him, even more.

Same for Chuck himself. The struggling, bumbling, honest, lovable and sometimes heroic good-guy is an amazing character, of course. And we were all excited to see him grow into everything we hoped he could be. Now, Chuck is on the verge of being a spy. Make that, world-class spy. Although it always remains a question if he can keep it, he’s won Sarah’s heart. He’s found his father, and has left the Buy More. Finally, gloriously. Aaaannndddd he’s back.

We know already that all is not fine in this paradise. Stephen will always be an enigma, I assume, and that is fitting for Orion, the wizard. Chuck did leave the Buy More, but the store is more like like Hotel California than a crèche – You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Of course we want Chuck to have his normal life – we want him to be happy. But the intersect stays! Arg! Mixed emotions. Jill’s words echo – Please don’t let them change you, Chuck., and almost sadly, we know he’s already changed.

I want Chuck to remain the same! And I want him to grow up to have an adult relationship and normal life with Sarah as they run off to foreign countries quelling uprisings with a fork.

Addressing my greatest fears, Sipinwall’s words are most encouraging!

So Chuck now knows kung fu, and a whole bunch of other cool spy stuff, but the essence of “Chuck” hasn’t changed. It’s still a show about an ordinary guy who has stumbled into life as a spy, and his new superpowers aren’t reliable enough to suddenly turn him into another Captain Awesome. (Awesome, meanwhile, is struggling to deal with his brother-in-law’s secret identity.) He’s still Chuck Bartowski, for good and for ill, and while his abilities and position in spy world have evolved, they don’t take away from what made the show so entertaining in the first place.

Whew! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Chuck is unchanged, yet – different. I believe Sarah Walker will discover this in due time. Now can I sit back and enjoy?

Almost. There’s still the question of Chuck and Sarah and Shaw and Hannah and Ted and Alice. I’ve defended the show against the defeatists on this topic again and again, reassuring everyone every way I know how that this will work out in the end, even in an intelligent, mature way.  I think there will be a pay-off that is worth the price.  I know with a kind of certainty that I can’t justify rationally that this is the only possible destination for Chuck and Sarah.

But I’m not sanguine about this. I am nervous and fretful every time the subject comes up, and more-so every time I hear angry words exchanged in the promos between them. (But angry is good, right? It’s an honest expression of honest emotions!) It seems the writers have me right where they want me; on the edge of my seat, certain to watch week after week looking for any and all clues that Chuck and Sarah are moving closer (and finding an abundance of evidence, too). Still I want more of what we saw in the Colonel. Of course I do! Give me a wedding and an adventure/honeymoon, and don’t think I won’t be back the following week to see more. I’ll be on the edge of my seat every week wondering how that hour could have gone by so fast, and wondering if it’s Monday yet, like I always have. They pwn me. I understand why TPTB are loathe to change things.  Always that contradictory emotion. Always that incredible anticipation.

It comes down to this. What I want for those characters is happiness and growth, but not an ending. In my happier moments, I start to think that I’m going to get exactly that.

– joe

About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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8 Responses to “What I Want Is…”

  1. OldDarth says:

    Really looking forward to Maureen Ryan’s appraisal. She is in line with my take on the show.

  2. atcdave says:

    It is good to see a professional critic enthused for Chuck. Although, as OD said, I put the most stock in Mo Ryan. Good post Joe, I agree with you almost entirely, except that I’m less likely to feel confidence the writers with only two years of history on the project, we’ve all seen great shows take bad turns; and even weak shows find their stride after a few seasons. Past performance is only one indicator; it may be the most important, and it is a HUGE plus in this case; but that doesn’t ease all my fears when they start talking stupid. So I am very pleased that enthusiasm seems to be building in all quarters. I did notice in the last week, when I saw previews for Chuck, I’m getting more excited and my reservations are slipping away.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Dave!

      It’s odd. I’ve come away from episodes, LW in particular, thinking “Was that as good as I think it was?”
      It’s almost as I doubt my own senses. “Maybe it’s just me, but I liked that A WHOLE LOT!!!”

      It is good to see the pros get as giddy as I’ve been, and that’s the sense I got from Sipenwall.

      And I concur about the building enthusiasm. I do believe I’m seeing that in the boards, too.

      • Gord says:

        Have you been to EW website lately. Ausselio has a video clip that has Chuck just before he goes into the bar and plays the guitar. It is very funny.

        It seems a lot of critics are excited about this season of Chuck. Considering that they have had access to the set and seen more of the season than we have, this makes me excited about S3 even more.

  3. Gord says:

    I tell you Sipenwall is one of the luckiest people on the planet – an advanced copy of the first 5 episodes. If I were him I would hold a viewing party and invite all the Chuck fans – hope he has a big house.

    I read the interview, loved the picture of Chuck and Sarah in a tropical setting (can’t wait to find out what that is all about) and I have this sudden urge to conduct a black ops mission to retrieve a DVD from a guy named Sipenwall that has extremely valuable information on it.

    As for Chuck and Sarah sounding angry, I recall that they sounded angry in the trunk of the car during Hard Salami and that turned out pretty well. Also Sarah sounded pretty angry in Cougars, but in the end, the nerd gets the girl.

    I do understand what you are saying about expectations, can Chuck possibly live up to our expectations. I think it will come close or possibly even exceed my expectations. I was certainly impressed by the scenes I have seen in the promos. They alone exceeded my expectations for the show.

    Please tell me that when I wake up tomorrow it will be Jan 10.

    • joe says:

      Gord, we’re going to have to find us some help after all this this is over – sometime about season 10, I think. ;>

      And by the way. Invite *all* the Chuck fans??? Don’t you like the guy, Gord? I can see the headlines now. “TV Critic Crushed by Freaking Fans”.;>

      • Gord says:

        I was thinking he could rent a stadium and hold the viewing on a jumbo tron. Heck if he charge $100.00 a head he could retire a wealthy man.

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