Geometry 101

Enough with the polygons.  How about two points connected by a straight line?

Over at ChuckTV.net our friend and fellow Chuckophile Lou Sytsma (a.k.a. OldDarth) makes a very compelling argument that it is much better drama for Chuck and Sarah to choose each other over new PLIs freely rather than have the choice made for them by the PLI’s betrayal or turning out to be bad guys. Here is a surprise, I wouldn’t disagree with the argument as stated.

So Why All the Angst?

However, as stated, the argument skips the basic point a lot of shippers make. Why aren’t we passed this? It seems pretty obvious that Sarah did exactly that more than once. First with the newly returned Bryce, then with the re-returned Bryce, then with Cole, then with Bryce again. Again and again and again Sarah has decided to stay with Chuck, with the possible exception of some momentary indecision or weakness in the Ring. Sarah has freely made her decision to be with Chuck, whatever the cost, and this wasn’t in the fevered imaginations of shippers, it was right up there on the screen. Having Sarah fall into the arms of another man at this point makes her character look profoundly un-serious, or flakey, or worse a self-caricature of the agent that falls for every guy she works with. They have invested a lot of scenes in building up a Sarah character that is NOT that caricature and is a serious person.  And as a serious person Sarah knows what she wants.  And as Chuck’s closet friend and confidant (sorry Morgan, that ended a while ago) she knows what Chuck wants.  We are left to wonder what it is that makes Sarah so chronically tongue tied.  That part of her character is on the verge of parody.  It needs to end.

Chuck is a tougher sell. He hasn’t really had a serious alternative to Sarah. Lou dumped him because his spy life kept intruding, making him unable to have any sort of honest relationship. Jill may have planted the first kiss on him with no spy-stuff in mind, but she very quickly came to find out he was a spy, and then played him as a mark from then on. But if there is one thing we are to believe about Chuck is that he is deeply in love with Sarah and has been pretty much from the beginning of the show. Chuck has only strayed when Sarah has pushed him away, essentially telling him they had no future together, deciding for him. Move on or be alone. If Chuck’s great love for Sarah that the writers have taken such pains to portray as deep, real and meaningful turns out easily transferable to another woman at the first sign of trouble with Sarah, then again we are left with a character far more immature and un-serious than the one the writers have gone to pains to build.  And with Chuck, this is a problem.  Chuck is the one character we must root for to grow as the show progresses.  This growth is what made the second season so much more riveting than the first, and made the Character Chuck so much more appealing, with a few whiney nerd setbacks and jealousies along the way.

Time for Something New

In short there are no barriers to Chuck and Sarah knowing each others feelings, other than the artificial ones we are repeatedly asked to swallow .  These are two people who enjoy being with each other.  These are two characters who care deeply for each other and who constantly support each other. They want to be together.  They both know they want to be together, and it has been repeatedly shown that if they can’t be together in the way they want, they’ll take what they can have for the time being.

This makes for some difficulty both in keeping Chuck and Sarah apart and when and if new PLI’s are introduced.  In the past (most notably in the Ring IMHO) TPTB have tackled the problem by portraying Sarah as reluctant to commit and Chuck as unsure of Sarah’s true feelings.  This is why Sarah never got to finish a sentence.   In the end Chuck is left to wonder if there is any Sarah without the intersect, and apparently that question is answered in Chuck’s mind as no.  A bit of a stretch that relied on some pretty strained suspension of disbelief (in the one area no writer should ask that of the audience) given who the characters are and what they have shared over the course of a two-year relationship.  Fans are quickly tiring, or have reached their limits with these repeated and entirely predictable twists.  It is pretty obvious from the way the characters are written and have developed that Sarah wants to be with Chuck and  Chuck is Sarah’s for the asking.  The solutions the writers have used to delay that are both trite and maddening in their repeated applications.  It’s also the easy way out.  Time for something new in season 3.

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in Angst, Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Geometry 101

  1. joe says:

    “Sarah wants to be with Chuck and Chuck is Sarah’s for the asking.”

    Well put! (He says, redundantly!)

    I so want to disagree with almost all your premises, Ernie. Yet I agree almost completely with all your conclusions. I’ve already stated my peace, though ;>

    Except you bring one thing new to my mind. I don’t think Lou dumped Chuck so much as they mutually agreed that it wasn’t going to work for them. And Jill, well, she’s another thing entirely. First loves are different, and for Chuck, it is indeed over.

    To my POV, Sarah never seems to be taken all that much by another man (and why should she? Sarah has a hard time NOT attracting them like bees to honey). She’s barely distracted by them. It’s the job and excitement that keeps calling her.

    In Crown Vic she tells Chuck, for not the first nor the last time, that she’s doing what she’s doing because it’s her job. That’s her go-to rational for almost everything to do with Chuck, including running away with him in The Colonel; and leaving him in The Ring. What’s understated in the end, is that she’s changed her mind about that. All it is, is a tiny head shake “no”. And for the first time, it’s NOT the job.

    I really, really want to see that confirmed tomorrow and Monday, but that would be too simple. I’m sure, because she’s like that, that Sarah will slide back into Agent Walker mode, and make it “her job” (probably to train the newbie), feelings be damned. You just know that I expect it to be temporary, too!

    Great post, Ernie.

  2. Lucian says:

    Ernie – Once again, you hit the nail on the head. Hopefully this is the final round of PLIs.

  3. Lucian says:

    They have made it clear the direction they are heading in the “love vs. career” promo. They are taking great pains to make it a choice for Chuck between Sarah and his career path. Based on everything we know, this is a really contrived, artificial choice. We know what Chuck is going to decide, and therefore how Sarah will respond. This is getting way too predictable.

    Though “good” PLI’s may be better than “bad” PLIs, the path they are going down doesn’t make the end product better, it really diminishes the characters and why we are rooting for them. We know about Sarah’s abandonment issues. PLIs as therapy is really contrived. The good news is, for all the new viewers tuning in, who have no experience with Chuck, this is not “PLIs Chapter 3”, it is PLIs Chapter 1, so hopefully, their tolerance will be higher.

    • weaselone says:

      I don’t think the direction is necessarily that clear. First the add could be completely misleading. It would make no sense for Sarah to drop Chuck because he decided to become a spy and then pursue Shaw who is a spy.

      It’s more likely that Chuck initially says yes to running with Sarah, but something happens that makes him change his mind, whether it be the traumatic event, or another event. At the beginning of the season it may be a combination of Sarah’s own hurt and resurgent agent mode that prevent the relationship from being established. After that there’s the PLI’s and Chucks difficulty in controlling his emotions and the Intersect.

      • herder says:

        I agree, I think he says yes then changes his mind. My problem with the whole run away with me thing is that it is asking him to become his father, the man he spent 15 years being angy at. It’s an unrealistic plan and the Sarah character is too smart not to realize it so refusing it is not the same as saying there can never be anything between us. As a reason for becoming interested in others it doesn’t wash.

  4. atcdave says:

    Very well put Ernie. I would amplify some of your comments by saying many of us are past our limits. I think the very strong reaction to Beefcake is testimony to how long many of us have already been there. That we still ate at Subway and wrote letters to keep Chuck going is proof of how good the show is in every other way. I am greatly encouraged that even JS himself has now said it will be resolved this season; the major remaining question is if its too late. Will they present our favorite characters in a way this season that keeps them our favorite characters, or will they cross the line into trivial flakes that none of us really want to know anymore. I remain cautiously optimistic; these characters have been crafted with such care, I doubt the writers really intend to ruin them now; the only reason I remain cautious is because of the number of shows I’ve seen make terrible mistakes. I suspect we’ll know the answer by the Olympic break.

  5. weaselone says:

    Another great submission Ernie, and one that echoed my views nearly exactly until a handful of days ago. Although I concur with nearly every one of your premises and wish I could continue to agree with your conclusions, the shows JS, CF and the show’s writers have set the show up for a the continued use of love polygons. It all centers around the unknown catastrophic event and the amount of time the writers have to play with in the first episode.

    We know that Chuck undergoes spy training, fails at it, and that both the real and cover relationships between Chuck and Sarah are severed during the first episode. Chuck’s training would take months, during which time he will have little or no contact with Sarah. The relationship will probably already have been ended, but even if it’s still ongoing it will be terminated soon after his return. Regardless of when the relationship ends, Chuck and Sarah will have been separated for months.

    Still, Chuck’s longed for something real with Sarah for years, and this time he’s not going to let her go without a real conversation. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that at some time during the second episode he gets one. Beyond this point, it’s all pure speculation. Chuck and Sarah have an adult conversation about their feelings, but at the end Sarah crushes any hope Chuck has for rekindling the romance. Sarah loved Chuck, but now it’s over. Finished. Finito. Zu Ende. She’s lying out both sides of her mouth, but Chuck doesn’t realize that. They’ve been apart a long time, they’ve suffered something traumatic, and it’s his fault. He understands her response, it’s what he expected, he just couldn’t let her go without attempting a last Hail Mary.

    At this point, the old Chuck would have collapsed into a 5-year depression complete with a video game induced coma, but the new Chuck is made of sterner stuff. He’s already managed to survive for months without Sarah, besides he has a new career to master and an awesome brother-in-law in need of saving and guidance. So when a cute, nerdy brunette sachets into his life a few weeks later, he’s responsive to her advances. It has been months since he’s really been with Sarah, and the ringing in his ears from the last nail she drove into the coffin containing their relationship has faded. It’s especially easy to fall for her given she seems genuinely warm and affectionate, expresses interest in him and is impressed with his abilities, while Sarah remains rather aloof and seems to be only interested in and respect the abilities of the Intersect.

    So there we have it, a reasonable way by which Chuck can stumble into the arms of another pretty brunette without looking like a complete cad. Of course once Chuck’s browsing another girl’s network, Sarah now has a green light to pursue Shaw.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I agree that this is the plausible scenario they’ll pursue. I don’t for a minute think it won’t diminish the characters. The degree to which it does so will be the key.

      As I said, they should have been past this long ago. With the ending of the Ring I thought they played the card once too often. We saw Sarah decided to give up everything to be with Chuck. Are we now to swallow that between that decision and the traumatic event Sarah can’t find the words or time to tell Chuck she loves him and wants to be with him AGAIN? So now we have to swallow Sarah being unwilling to open up enough to Chuck to put his doubts to rest AGAIN, and Chuck getting mixed signals from Sarah AGAIN as the catalyst for some new traumatic event. I’ll need to see it before I can tell, but from the sound of it they are once again re-using the same old plot points, just in a new season. What you see is Fonzie in a leather jacket and water skis.

      • weaselone says:

        I agree with you Ernie, but whatever the writers have planned, if they go this route I don’t think we’ll be asked to assume that Sarah never told Chuck how she feels. We know Sarah asks Chuck to run away with her, and by the smile Chuck gives her I think he comprehends what that means. It’s part of the reason Chuck pursues Sarah when he returns from his less than successful stint at spy school.

        We have an episode titled “Chuck vs The Three Words.” What if they’re in past tense? Sarah delivers the phrase “I loved you.” Alternately, we see a flashback of Sarah saying ILY, only to cut to the present where she tells Chuck that they’re through, that they were a mistake and she is no longer able to love him.

      • Lucian says:

        Ernie – are you suggesting there may be a shark below as Chuck whizzes down the zip line?

        Given the quality of the show up to this point, I am still hopeful they pull all this off in a manner that keeps everyone happy and builds an audience. I remain cautiously optimistic!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I hope not. (About the Shark that is.) My greatest fear is that most of this season was written before it became evident to TPTB that their angsty methods were overplayed. The characters are verging on parodies of themselves. There is so much talk about the characters growing and maturing, but they keep playing this same note over and over when it comes to the romance. Not only does this not allow for growth in one critical aspect of who the characters are, it increasingly becomes uncharacteristic of the growth the character has undergone.

  6. Lucian says:

    Weaselone – your scenario is probably fairly close to accurate. Yes, it is possible that they can work really hard at minimizing the “flakiness” factor, which I am confident they will do. I wish they would have chosen a different path. It seems they have a very limited “drama tool kit” and PLI is always their preferred implement. After all, what would be the point of bringing in two hotties and not have a few make-out scenes?

    • weaselone says:

      Well, I have one huge suspicion that I didn’t reveal in the post. It’s may be impossible for the show to avoid the flakiness factor completely. JS and CF may have realized after reading some of the fan responses that even their epic, traumatic event would ring hollow given the Chuck and Sarah characters they’ve established. That’s why the event isn’t going to be revealed until later in the season. We’ll just have to accept that the event justifies where Chuck and Sarah find themselves at the beginning of the first episode, and by the time the event is revealed it’s inadequacy will be ignored because Chuck and Sarah’s relationship will have recovered and they’ll be on their way to another condom IOU in a slightly less sleazy motel.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think you are right on one aspect of the angst. By the time of the explosion over the summer the first 13 episodes were probably largely written. They started production in early August so it’s doubtful they could have changed much of anything, especially given the rumors of an October return. When JS says the romantic subplot between Chuck and Sarah will be resolved this season I am practically sure it will be in the extra 6 episodes. I can almost guarantee that they re-played season 2 themes complete with the lack of communication and other PLIs again as the sources of angst, but this time Sarah’s effect on Chuck and the intersect will stand in where her professionalism and his status as an asset did last season. Like season 2 had a Colonel like game changer in one of the last few episodes we’ll probably get them together in some sense. Whether they had the time or inclination to re-write some of the last episodes to make the get together seem more permanent than the season 2 finale allowed will be interesting. However now that there has been one long scream of NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! from a large portion of the dedicated fan base, lasting essentially from July through December when promos and pre-screeners started to allay fears, I think they may have concluded that beating that spot where the dead one trick pony was buried some time in season 2 might not be the best strategy going forward.

      • weaselone says:

        It really wouldn’t have taken them that long to make some basic changes to the tone of the relationship between Chuck and Sarah. Most of it is set by a couple of minutes worth of dedicated scenes coupled with how Yvonne and Zach interact throughout the episode.

      • joe says:

        Actually, I think it sometimes takes less than that – a single word, a look…

        Or some judicious editing after the fact (assuming they had the foresight to shoot for a couple of contingencies).

        Case in point: the bouquet-toss wedding scene that was left on the cutting room floor. It would have really changed the mood of the finale. And the dropped scene that would have been after Chuck tried to execute “the Montgomery”, but finds Bryce has returned. The quiet dinner, gently interrupted by a full Morgan really changes the mood.

        TPTB will do what they will do. We hope they listen to us, the fans, but go beyond our vision.

      • atcdave says:

        I was going to add something similar to Joe; they’ve certainly had time to make some tweaks to make things more palatable for most of us. I still think, right from 3.01 (OK, maybe 3.02), we’ll get some pretty upbeat Chuck and Sarah stuff. I’m not saying there won’t be some major troubles ahead, but I think we’ll see the way clear pretty early on.

  7. OldDarth says:

    Hey Ernie – great article and the geometry analogy has struck a light bulb epiphany for me. I am going to use your analogy as the starting point to my next article and, with your permission and Joe’s and whatever tribe of elders need consulted, will include a link back to this one.

    Unfortunately I have my hands full right now. I will be doing episode reviews for ChuckTV and will be slammed pumping out 3 reviews next week. So it will probably not be up until the end of next week at the earliest.

    Your straight line analogy is based an assumption that pertains as to why Chuck and Sarah are not together yet.

    Till then here is a hint – ever see video of a bridge during an earthquake? 😉

    Again thanks for the article – well constructed and done with clarity of vision.

    1 more sleep till Chuck S3! 😀

    • weaselone says:

      Never saw one live, but I don’t reside near an active fault line. I do recall that if the motion is too extreme the bridge collapses. I hope that doesn’t serve as a metaphor for Chuck.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      OD, You are welcome to quote and link to your heart’s content as far as I’m concerned. I’ll let Joe weigh in on that too however.

      I think a lot of the differences we discuss (and trust me, I enjoy the discussions) come down to differing perceptions on who think the characters are and where they are in their development. We’ve gone around on that one too.

      I guess my geometry analogy came about because to me it seemed Chuck and Sarah had both grown so close and evolved to the point that continuing to manufacture complications and detours was actually detracting from the characters and the story.

      To me it seems that a much simpler and realistic story would be them simply gradually connecting in a very natural way as they take things to the next level and learn more about each other. A line from here to there without intervening polygons.

      There can still be complications (so a straight line isn’t a perfect analogy, I just wanted it to stand apart from complicated polygons). The straight line doesn’t have to be down a church aisle right away, but as I’ve often said it seems pretty unoriginal and overused the way they’ve gone about it. Hopefully tomorrow and Monday many of these questions will become moot.

    • joe says:

      Please do link back, Lou! That is always appreciated.

      You’ll be able to sleep??? Not sure I will ;>
      It’s “kid at Christmas time” all over again.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention. My brother lives in the San Francisco Bay area and on one trip I helped him do some earthquake retrofitting. You know how a house survives an earthquake? By being firmly attached to a strong foundation, but flexible and strong enough above that foundation to absorb the shockwaves without breaking apart. Straight lines don’t play into it.

  8. joe says:

    I’m not sure where to put this link, but it seems to be appropriate everywhere!

    Also, I’ve taken Gord’s lead and have been voting for SW most of the afternoon. Sarah’s not in the lead, but the gap has closed significantly.

    Not that these polls mean much, actually. They are good PR, though.

    One note: yesterday I was able to vote only once. Today, I can vote repeatedly. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m using it as incentive to vote when I can.

    I know, I know. I need a life! ;>

    • Ernie Davis says:

      For those of you with a Mac you can use Automator to record you loading the page, clicking on Yvonne, clicking on vote, then re-loading the page, etc. Then if you aren’t using your computer press play and your computer will keep voting until it encounters an error. I did this before going off to do some chores and saw that Yvonne has taken the lead.

      Yvonne will win. Any means necessary. (Trust me, everyone writes bots for these unlimited votes polls, I just thought those of you with Macs might want to learn how simple it is).

  9. Gord says:

    I’m not sure a straight line would be interesting, but neither are love polygons. Perhaps what would be best for the show is a curved line that gradually increases along the X axis (I think it’s time to find a new job that doesn’t use so much math).

  10. OldDarth says:

    Are we talking about wormholes and alternate universes now? That is another franchise methinks.

  11. Rick Holy says:

    After awhile – like two season’s worth – “other love interests” sort of become like a chunk of meat that’s too hard to swallow. It’s won’t “go down,” and it won’t “come back up.” It just “stays there” – and you wretch and gag over and over again until you can’t take it anymore and have to be rushed to the emergency room and be put to sleep and have the hunk of meat removed from your throat by a gastroenterologist!! 🙂 (I’m talking from personal experience here).

    Bottom line. Great article. I hope I don’t have to wretch and gag through season 3. Put up whatever obstacles you want that make sense and move the characters and the story forward – no problem there – that I can swallow like a smoothie from the “Orange, Orange” (served up by Sarah, of course)!!

    Take care, all. AND ENJOY TONIGHT (and Monday night, too)!!

    BRING ON THE CHUCK!!

  12. Pingback: Going in Circles Gets You Nowhere « Chuck This

  13. Earnie says:

    Yes Earnie but resolved could mean they decide to be friends and partners just saying you know how JS is

  14. To Ernie Davis and the shippers of the world who been critisizing the first 7 epidsodes of Chuck especially episode 7 titled ” The Mask” And still wondering why chuck and sarah are not tegether? goto http://www.chucktv.net click lead story there is a 3 part story written by Lou Sytsma called Chuck vs Sarah “Its not will they wont they? Its they will wont they!” After you all read this topic you’ll get a better understanding on why Chuck and Sarah are not together. not just yet

  15. Pingback: Chuck Versus The Pink Slip (3.01) | Chuck This

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