Chuck vs. The RetCon

Retroactive Continuity

Confused? Me Too.

Bryce is alive, and not a traitor.  Jill is Fulcrum and Chuck is her mark.  Chuck has been studying everyone around him for months, diagramming the intersect project in an attempt to get it out of his head.  Pappa B is Orion, and not crazy.  All is not as it seems, nothing is real.  This is the spy world and it’s what you don’t see coming that is often most important.  While these aren’t all necessarily retroactive continuity they share something with the concept.  They make you revisit the story you think you’ve seen and look at it in a new way.  The big reveal, the a-ha moment when it all makes sense, or just goes down a little easier; the Chuck-verse is abuzz and everyone sees it coming, we’re in for a game changer some time this season.  Will it change the story we’ve seen, or just fill in a few blanks.  Confused?  Me too, let’s try to make some sense of this after the jump.

Shaw has an evil plan, Chuck is on double secret probation and Hannah is not who she seems to be.  It’s a delicate balance, between buying what you see on the screen as the story and obsessing over each minuscule discontinuity as the clue that reveals the game changer to come.  In some instances TPTB seem absolutely contradictory on this.  We’re supposed to believe that nothing happened between the end of Colonel and beginning or Ring, but then we’re also supposed to realize that what we see on the screen is not all there is when Chuck arrives home via helicopter wearing body armor and a rappelling harness.  Most of us have come to the conclusion we haven’t seen the whole story yet, and last Monday it was confirmed that there is more to the story of Chuck and Sarah’s plan to run than Chuck’s cold feet and Sarah’s feelings of rejection.   Sarah was spotted in Lisbon off grid when Beckman had ordered her to stay in touch.  Like the re-appearance of the “weapon” we haven’t heard the last of this, guaranteed.  Why Beckman’s order?  Did she suspect Sarah was a loose cannon when it came to Chuck?  She knows about their history, she called the 49B and dismissed Walker once.  And Shaw seeming to accept Sarah’s explanation.  If he read her file, and he has, he’d also know about the 49B.  That makes his theory about Sarah and Chuck pretty obvious.  And Sarah.  Well she must have known that going off grid when under orders to stay in touch would raise some alarms.

Sarah in Lisbon

And if you look at the photo Shaw confronts her with, she does seem to have what looks like a container of ashes, so she was either telling a partial truth or was prepared with a cover, which would mean she saw surveillance was a real possibility.  This makes the initial episodes even more of a confusing mess, but don’t get me started, you know how I get.

So what are the possibilities?  Well, someone obviously knows more than has been revealed, and there are distinct possibilities to be considered.  Lets start with these.  Shaw knows more than he has revealed.  Sarah knows more than she has revealed.  Chuck knows more than he has revealed.

The first is a no brainer.  Shaw has an agenda and he’s playing it close to the vest with team B.  Our good friend ATCDave has done yeoman’s work with this one, so we’ll leave his posts on Shaw’s Evil Plan as the place to discuss.

Second scenario, Sarah knows more than she has revealed.  This is the basis of my double secret probation theory, but it could be in play in other equally interesting scenarios.  Clearly Shaw’s arrival and use of Chuck for missions she doesn’t feel he’s ready for is taking an emotional toll on Sarah.  Is it because she feels Chuck is being set up for failure?  One of the later episodes is called Chuck Versus the Final Exam.  Does it have something to do with pulling the trigger?  Sadly we’ll have to wait till late March to find out.  But consider this.  What sort of missions has Chuck been given with Sarah as his handler?  Retrieving a case from a vault with her by his side the entire time, protecting a head of state with her by his side, keeping Captain Awesome calm long enough for her and Casey to track and capture a Ring agent… Not high risk stuff, but something you could build confidence and a record of success on.  What has Shaw given Chuck?  High risk, high reward solo confrontations with multiple Ring operatives and no apparent backup.  Into the deep end, sink or swim, no waterwings allowed.  Is it just a matter of style or is one aware of something the other isn’t.

As Casey would say put that one in the D’uh file.  Our first meeting with the mysterious and unseen Shaw showed us Beckman uncharacteristically pleading Team B’s case.  Was this just about Operation Awesome and the involvement of Devon in the spy world, or is there more?  Oh, there’s always more.

This brings us to the last possibility.  Chuck knows more than he has revealed.  This simultaneously brings up another question.  How much retcon is too much retcon?  Lets look at Chuck’s previous a-ha moment, the back of the Tron poster.  It was a turning point for Chuck.  This was no longer the directionless slacker waiting for someone or something to come along and fix his life, this was a smart and focused adult, taking charge and responsibility.  The last vestiges of season 1 Chuck were gone in an instant.  But from the detail on the poster, he’d been gone for a while.  We saw a different Chuck right out of the gates in season 2, but this Chuck, well he was as much a player as we thought he was being played before.  All of the sudden you have to ask how much he really bought into being handled as we’d seen.  Was he playing a long game while his handlers were going mission to mission?  Did he see through Beckman not wanting the intersect out before he confronted her?  It set up the Chuck we needed to see for the last 6 fantastic episodes of season 2 in one great revealing moment.

Now to the present.  Chuck seems more “handled” than he was in the final 6 of last year, yet we’re supposed to buy he is on the verge of being a world class spy?  He is still as trusting and clueless about how to lie or what to beware of after 6 months of spy training?  This is something that has been in the back of my head since the premier.  Chuck seems to have regressed.  The irregularly trained, but trained spy seems less competent than the inventive amateur who could think on his feet.  Is it because Chuck is trying to be something he’s not, a traditional spy, or because he really has regressed, or is it because we have not seen the entire story when it comes to Chuck Bartowski, spy.  TPTB love their retcon, but it’d be difficult in this case.  Would it mean that everything we saw about Chuck so far was a lie?  Not necessarily, the Tron poster was a shocker without being out of character.  The punch.  We’re all wondering about the punch.  Is it the moment Chuck will change, or will it be the moment it is revealed how much Chuck already has changed?

At this point I think I’m just going to sit back and hope to enjoy the ride, but wild speculation is always fun, so here are my big unanswered questions.

1)  Why wasn’t Chuck dropped in a padded cell?

2)  Why wasn’t Orion contacted, by anyone?  Or was he?

3)  Why did Sarah say “Give him a second” when Chuck appeared onstage with a guitar?

4)  Where is that Orion wrist computer?

Hopefully time will tell.


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 Observations, Rumors, Season 3, Wild Speculation. Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Chuck vs. The RetCon

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    OK, I’ll start us off with another of mine, not necessarily connected to any particular scenario. At the training facility Chuck is tranq’ed to be sent home, whereupon he’s left alone. So what exactly was in those cheeseballs that made Chuck such an addict and so immobilized him, until he ran out? Beckman remarked that Chuck was very dangerous, yet he was left to his own devices for some weeks, with the cheesballs.

    • weaselone says:

      The greater mystery is how a large container of cheese balls came to find its way into Casa Bartowski-Woodcome to begin with. It’s not as though Chuck would have initially had the wherewithal go out and pick up a barrel of them before collapsing into Sarah deprived oblivion. Does Devon mix them into his colon cleanser?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Kind of like the martini that just appeared, and Chuck drank… Hmmmmm…

      • weaselone says:

        I’d assumed it was the stewardess/Ring agent dropped it off. That would explain why Hannah didn’t think anything of it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        So who is the mole that planted tainted cheesballs in casa Bartowski-Woocomb? 😉

      • weaselone says:

        I think Ellie is secretly working for the Ring.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        That would explain why Sarah is now Chuck’s mother.

      • ReadySet says:

        I don’t think the Cheez Balls (also called cheese puffs) have any particular relevance in the storyline. It’s Chuck’s string cheese, I guess.

        But I’m surprised that people still have any doubt that Hannah is anything but part of the Ring and/or belongs to Shaw. My basic guess is that she belongs to Shaw, but there was that one scene of her buckling her seat belt during the Sarah-created turbulence, which I gather meant she didn’t know about it. So maybe she’s the Ring.

        But she ain’t this year’s Lou, that’s for sure. She’s part of the spy world somehow.

      • weaselone says:

        Sarah’s been Chuck’s mother all along. Looks good for a someone pushing 55, doesn’t she? 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        ReadySet, We’re just having some fun with the cheeseballs thing, it kind of demonstrates how this can be both amusing and over thought.

        But if it turns out the cheeseballs were drugged I’m still gonna claim genius status.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        WeaselOne, that would also explain why Standards and Practices won’t let them kiss.

      • weaselone says:

        No, Sarah’s into that. She just fears losing her dentures.

      • joe says:

        Hey, guys. 55 is the new 28.

        And yes, I resemble that remark!!! 😉

    • kg says:


      Another provactive piece. I’m beginning to think that the punch will be the moment revealed that he already has changed.

      He might be sandbagging, and he actually held back against Sarah in the Bo sequence because he knew he REALLY COULD hurt her.

      • joe says:

        Yeah – it was clear to me that he didn’t even try to flash, even to defend himself against her. As it happens, I’m a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and I wouldn’t lift a finger against my wife if she threw a pot at me (which is unthinkable, btw).

        Can’t say I can articulate a reason, either. You just don’t do that.

        Of course if someone threatened her, it’s shoot first and ask questions later time, and the fact that I’m a good, Church-going Catholic has very little to do with it. Rationality has nothing to do with it. Odd, us human beings are.

  2. AngelTwo says:

    Good post to remind us how nothing is real in the spy world, which has been Sarah’s point all alone and why those who say Sarah’s desire to be out is just a passing phase. It isn’t and has been written into the character’s DNA since at least the pilot script of 12/06, which predates the filmed one.

    But one quibble: “Ret con” is not whenever you do a reveal that shows you things weren’t what they appeared. “Ret con” is about retroactively making past continuity fit a new reality you have imposed on the story line.

    Example: Chuck has been trying to be a spy for three years. That is ret con.

    Example: Chuck revealed as having kept track of Fulcrum on the back of Tron poster is not ret con. It didn’t change any previously accepted facts as show.

    It’s no biggie, but it’s worth trying to keep the terms clear.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I have seen RetCon used both ways, but I did put a disclaimer ahead of the jump that essentially admits your definition is the preferred one. Chuck vs. the RetCon just seemed like a good title. 😉

      • AngelTwo says:

        I take your point. Chuck Versus The Incredibly Messy Writing doesn’t have quite the same, uh, ring… 🙂

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Oh, I meant to add that technically Beckman had told Team B that it was time for Chuck to become a real spy more than once in season 2, so it isn’t total retcon perhaps to say that his report might have him listed as in training.

    • Gord says:

      What is it that Sarah wants exactly. A normal life or a real relationship?

      I think she will come to realize that the appeal of Chuck for her wasn’t the normal life, but the fact that he is honest about his feelings. She has never had anyone in her life who was real until Chuck came along.

      Perhaps the one thing that she fears most about Chuck becoming a spy is that he will no longer be able to honestly share his feelings with her.

      • weaselone says:

        If that’s what she’s worried about, she’s certainly gone about preserving his openness the wrong way. Letting someone expose their feelings over, and over, and over again and permitting them flap around meeting the confessions with silence, cruel denials, or admonitions not to share them is tends to have the exact opposite effect.

  3. AngelTwo says:

    Well, we’ll learn more on Monday. It’ll be interesting to see how they explain Shaw’s absence, Beckman giving orders about a Ring-related mission (remember, she supposedly turned that authority over to Shaw) and how much Chuck-Hannah interaction this is.

  4. NoWayOut says:

    You know, if we didn’t see a Ring agent assasinate Roark and Casey team, I’d think The Ring is an invention of Shaw to train Chuck.

    After all, for supposedly professional spies, they are pretty comical: They’ve lost the gold case due to a love-sick guy, misidentified Devon as a spy and lost a supposedly crucial “key” because the fool courier couldn’t keep it on his person or, hello, in the heel of his shoe. Besides, what good is a key to a lockbox that they’ve already lost? I mean, it all looks like a silly training game for Chuck.

    As I say, except for all of that violence in last year’s season ender, this Ring organization smells like a construct…

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Except for Javier killing Emmet.

      My big peeve is Shaw as superspy. So far we’ve seen him shoot a woman in the back while Chuck had a gun on her. (And himself with a cardioligist conveniently present.)

    • herder says:

      Nowayout brings up a good point about hiding the key, how did Shaw know that the key was hidden in the luggage as opposed to keeping it on his person, a lockbox or in the heel of his shoe. I mean really does Hugo Panzer fill out a form, next week I’m going to Paris and I’ll hide an extremely important key far away from me in an easily identifiable unlocked piece of luggage. If it were checked on luggage surely there are easier ways for the CIA to identify that luggage than getting the claims check off the owner.

      • Gord says:

        Simple – he used his xray vision.
        With respect to shaw being a superspy. I found it interesting that he seemed to have authority over Beckman when we saw that little exchange in her office. She is obviously high up in the Office of the DNI (Director of National Intelligence). If she is not the Director, she is at least a deputy director.
        So what power does Shaw hold over her?

      • kg says:

        What if Beckman were Chuck’s mom? That would be wild.

        That would mean she had lied to him when she admitted she didn’t know that Orion was his father.

        It would make her one super-cold woman who had theoretically ordered an assassin to kill her son.

        But now, I’m thinking she’s gotten a little softer and told Sarah that although dangerous, suddenly, “Chuck is worth it.”

  5. atcdave says:

    I like the idea of Chuck and Sarah both having their own plans and schemes for shaping their reality. I’ve been writing about Shaw, because his plans seem central to the direction of the show right now; but I’m really hoping that will change in the next few episodes.
    I really hope to see Sarah is up to something and not just going with the flow. Specifically, I want to see her countering Shaw’s moves, both to keep Chuck safe in spite of Shaw’s recklessness with Chuck’s well being; and even aware of Shaw’s undermining the group dynamic by not falling for any attempts to separate her from Chuck. Ideally, she will find a new respect for Chuck’s capabilities as things unfold, without forgetting Chuck’s professed love for her.
    And I really hope we see Chuck is not just the insecure doofus who will do anything for the first professional who tells him he’s ready for a mission. I would like to see Chuck remain friendly and decent towards Hannah, without forgetting he loves Sarah. And I would like to see Chuck act like an adult around Sarah, even if she forgets herself and tries to play momma bear on occasion.

    • joe says:

      Dave, I agree absolutely. I gotta say that to my eyes, Chuck *did* act like an adult around Sarah, even as she forgot herself and tried to play momma bear in First Class. I can’t think of a better way to describe Chuck throughout the episode. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think that this is not at all the doofus we saw in Beefcake. And that doofus was always my main reason for ranking Beefcake low in S2 (a little doof goes a long way, they say).

      • Mike B says:

        That’s why I’m dreading the up coming episodes. In an interview Zach was talking about the PLI’s and how Chuck will be acting stupidly and jealous. So it’s safe to say the doofus will be rearing his ugly head.

      • ReadySet says:

        What if this year’s angle with the PLIs is that Chuck sends Hannah away because he realizes he’s a spy now and needs to be with a spy, not a normal woman. And Sarah eventually rejects Shaw because she wants to be with Chuck, the “non-spy” spy.

        In other words, Chuck and Sarah have sort of flipped positions on who to love and hence come together. It’s just bitter and “dark” enough for TBTB…

      • atcdave says:

        Some good comments everyone! Much of Chuck’s behavior in First Class is acceptable; I’m reacting mainly to his eagerness to win approval, it felt like a step backwards from S2 to me.

        Mike B, I saw some of those same comments, and that does concern me a lot.

        ReadySet, that could be a good way to play this out. I mainly wish they would get on with it! I’m tired of this particular technique, even if the end results are good.

      • weaselone says:

        Zach comment was referring to some snide comments that he directed in Shaw’s direction. That type of stuff might be a bit childish, but on some level it could be satisfying to fans.

        Shaw’s already declared that feelings, emotion, and attachments are lethal to spies, so if he’s obviously making a play at Sarah it reveals him as a hypocrite and he should be called out on it.

      • atcdave says:

        Weaselone, where did you get that context? I would find it very encouraging if that’s really what he was talking about; assuming it had to do with the Hannah scenario has been driving me nuts (short trip under any circumstance!)

  6. Gord says:

    If you look at the synopsis for Vs the Mask, It makes it clear that Shaw pairs Chuck up with Hannah for a mission – is she a spy or an unwitting participant? My money is that she is a spy that is under Shaws orders to get close to Chuck. She may have even been a last resort backup for Chuck on the plane, although when Chuck was poisoned you think that she would have been activated by Shaw.

    I believe the punch out of Shaw is not because of a Shaw/Sarah kiss, but because Chuck realizes that Shaw has been playing him. I am really going to enjoy that scene.

    While I think Shaw is a manipulative jerk, I believe his actions are being governed by what he thinks is best for the long-term success of Team Bartowski.

  7. lizjames says:

    So I bolted up in my bed tonight so sharply that my husband was startled. He said, “What’s wrong?” What did I say? “Why wasn’t Sarah disciplined for not being with Bryce when he was supposedly getting the Intersect at the end of Ring?” He rolled over (and rolled his eyes) and went back to sleep.

    But you folks care. And I’ve thought about Ernie Davis’ discomfort with The Ring, atcdave’s post yesterday about maybe Chuck and Sarah already have plans and my own annoyance that Chuck and Sarah didn’t talk (or more) at the end of Colonel.

    Well, what if they are going to retcon The Ring and the end of Colonel on us? What if they are going to say that nothing after Sarah’s “It’s real” declaration at the end of Colonel is what it has seemed to be? And what if Chuck and Sarah DID talk at the end of Colonel and set something up? Their own “Omaha” scenario, if you will.

    There are enough inconsistencies in Ring to start this process. Ernie has certainly dissected the episode enough. And as I mentioned above, Sarah blows off Bryce to stay with Chuck but no one holds her responsible for Bryce being killed because she wasn’t with him? She was in charge of the Intersect 2.0 project. How could her absence possibly be squared with Beckman? And how come in Pink Slip they conveniently have a facility set up to train Chuck? He wasn’t supposed to get the Intersect and certainly the facility wasn’t set up for superspy Bryce. What the hell is an Intersect training facility doing in Prague? Why was Beckman shipping Sarah and Bryce to Zurich the day after the wedding? And how come Bryce had a device to destroy the Intersect in his pocket in the first place? Where did Papa Bartowski go after Chuck downloaded Intersect 2.0? (I mean, besides to his new show…)

    I don’t have a plan here. Just a middle-of-the-night speculation. And I don’t know how TPTB can square any of this. But as they’ve had Sarah say a couple of times already this season, nothing in the spy world is what it seems. Nothing is real. Maybe the big Season 3 reveal actually tracks all the way back to the end of Colonel, the last time anything REALLY made any sense on Chuck.

    • AngelTwo says:

      This would almost have to be Shaw as the Manchurian Candidate. Maybe he’s the head of The Ring, but NSA and CIA know that and are letting him reveal himself. After all, if the Ring is so big and so bad, how come only Team Bartowski seems to be working on it.

      I wouldn’t mind a storyline that tracks back (or at least includes) the end of Colonel and makes some sense of what seemed illogical in Ring. But no matter what they do, there are going to be lots of consistency errors…

      My guess, though, is that e13 will circle back to Pink Slip and Sarah and Chuck decide to run away or, at least take part or all of Sarah’s escape route together for some reason.

    • Lucian says:

      Though I would like you to be right, I think what we have is a large dose of fairly sloppy writing combined with a misguided sense of what makes this show work.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Hey Liz, welcome to my version of hell. I regularly drive myself nuts trying to decide how much of this I need to let slide, how much represents real storytelling problems that’ll never be explained, and how much needs to be explained. My guideline is that if it drives me nuts long enough it’s a problem that needs to be explained. Then I start hoping for the retcon. If it isn’t forthcoming I write it in my head. I am really hoping they do retcon much of the time period from the Ring. Sadly I gave up on your favorite, the end of the Colonel, so I wrote my own to explain how they could have not done anything, or even talked.

      After the rehearsal and some Champagne Chuck and Sarah settle in the courtyard and sit looking at the stars. Chuck puts his coat over Sarah’s shoulders and his arm around her, she puts her head on his shoulder. Sarah actually starts the conversation, something like So what’s next for Chuck Bartowski? Chuck defers with something like I can’t even think of that now, there’s been so much, right now I just want to be here with you for a while. They share one really good uninterrupted kiss (which we see through the monitor just as Casey is turning off the surveillance),they settle back to watch the stars and fall asleep like that. The next morning Sarah goes home to change and Chuck goes to Buy More to quit. That’s about the best I can do without re-writing what was on the screen, but it still makes the Ring even more unbelievable.

      And it still doesn’t explain why both Casey and Chuck put on their Buy More uniforms to walk in and quit.

      • lizjames says:

        As to your theory of what happened after the dinner. Charming and lovely and plausible. But that actually DOES rewrite what was on the screen. The reprise of Creature Fear and the hand porn could only have one meaning: The were headed for what was interrupted earlier in the episode when Creature Fear played and the hand porn started the action.

        I personally have ZERO problem accepting your alternate scenario. In real life (ahem!) sex needn’t immediately follow a declaration of love. So I like your idea except for what we were shown and told to believe. (BTW, why are we assuming Chuck told the truth to Devon in Angel of Death? THAT could have been a lie.)

        That said, here’s another problem with the end of Colonel. Chuck was a civilian again, but Sarah wasn’t. Her speech about what happens to CIA agents in First Date would have logically kicked in. She would have known that something was coming the next day. And since we were told these two were in a blissful zone, not a Sarah-being-crazy-because-she-let-her-emotions-out state, she would have thought about what came next.

        And maybe that’s what’s coming. Maybe the name reveal will be shown to have come after the rehersal dinner. We’ll see it as a flashback. Since it was now “real,” Sarah told Chuck real stuff about herself and then they concocted some sort of plan that will be revealed in weeks to come.

        No matter what they do, there’s damage to what we have logically perceived to be the truth. But now that I’m writing this, I can see where the name reveal might turn out to be after the rehersal dinner. That could be where we’re going.

        And it might go some way (kick in suspension of disbelief) to explain Chuck’s actions in Pink Slip and Three Words. Despite his mooning at some points, they could now be perceived to be all about “losing” Sarah literally. That she went away to another assignment or out of the spy life. After he found out that he could somehow see her, he seemed bizarrely confident in some ways: telling Casey it was something he had to fix, telling Sarah it wasn’t about them when he arrived at El Bucho and even asking Carina why Sarah was being so cold when (duh!) if we saw was all true and complete, even Chuck would have figured it out…

        Maybe what’s coming is that. Although Chuck and Sarah had a miscommunication about Chuck staying in the spy life, it wasn’t quite was we’ve been told so far and that there are other things in play.

        Somewhat plausible…

      • ReadySet says:

        Wow, wow, wow, liz. The name reveal is shown in flashback as happening after Colonel. That is really interesting and plausible. After all, they spend so much time playing with the word “real” in the show that it could play out like that. After all, it was SARAH would say “It IS real.” You might be on to something. It could play like that

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz, I see your point about the hands and the reprise of the song, and I agree they were headed back there. My point is they didn’t think there was any rush, so night to let things settle isn’t as far a stretch as just being told not to even think about it.

        I do like your scenario of the name reveal in flashback. But it would kind of reduce the stakes for Sarah since a lot of the speculation about the significance of her name is that Chuck could flash on it and know everything about her. But it wouldn’t be out of character for Sarah to reveal it when she felt safe to do so, i.e. no intersect.

      • lizjames says:

        Actually, a name reveal set back at Colonel would raise the stakes for Sarah because she’s then revealed all to someone she felt betrayed her AFTER knowing all. It would be even more powerful from her standpoint. And for us, the time of the reveal makes little difference if it is used as a way to tell more of Sarah’s backstory. Whenever it happens, it’s new to us. (BTW, TPTB said there is no Sarah backstory scenes, so it’ll all have to be told as exposition, either with Chuck flashing or the know-it-all Shaw talking about it.)

        I hope (and now think) at least some of the goofy storytelling since Colonel will be cleared up before the end of the season with reveals. But that is guaranteed to open more holes. So it’s six of one…

    • atcdave says:

      Some good speculation Liz; but how about this: Chuck and Sarah wake-up together, its the morning of Ellie’s wedding, and Chuck says “I just had the wildest dream…”

      Clearly everything since Colonel has been a little wrong, I think the reset was very poorly handled; but I think its unlikely they’ll do a complete re-write of all that’s happened. I think the most we’ll get is a few explanations to mend some of the uglier moments. A parallel to the train station scene is an obvious contender, especially with a train episode coming up, where we will see them get on the train together. I think the name reveal will be pretty linear, my money is on after Chuck catches Shaw and Sarah together; it will be Sarah’s proof that what she feels for Chuck is real, as opposed to whatever else he may have seen.
      I would love it beyond words if we discover most of the tension between Chuck and Sarah was manufactured by them to throw off outsiders; or to cover up their “failed escape attempt” from Prague; but I honestly don’t expect it.

      By the way, my first line was a joke. Just to be clear!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, yeah, that’s a good joke, ’cause no show writer or runner would ever be dumb enough to try and pull off that much retcon. Oh, wait… That’ll be the season 4 reset.

        My own cynical self, in my more morose moments, I just try to think of the lamest, stupidest, most instant show killing overused bit of TV tripe they could come up with and assume they’ll go there, thinking it clever. Hence Sarah as Shaw’s ex…

        Overall though I agree with your take, it’ll probably be an attempt to fill in some of the holes, but there will probably be plenty left. Still the Lisbon/Prague trip is obviously in play for some retcon, so it could be a bit bigger than we think.

      • atcdave says:

        Hope you’re right; anything to get the foul taste of “Pink Slip” out.

      • joe says:

        Dave, your first line may have been a joke, but for those of us old enuf to have survived Dallas UGH!!!! 😉

  8. Ernie Davis says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, as far as I can tell when Fedak is involved you get some mind boggling plot missteps just to include a scene he must like. I go all the way back to the Helicopter, where Chuck murders Sarah’s soufle because both he and Casey think she was working with Bryce and is trying to kill everyone. Sarah wants to talk to Chuck alone in the bathroom and Casey lets her close the door and listens to Sarah bouncing the intersect off walls while she interrogates him. Riiiiight…

  9. herder says:

    I’m not exactly sure where to put this post, but here seems as good a place as any. I think both Sarah and Shaw are operating under a misaprehension of what will become of Chuck as a spy. Sarah is worried that he will change, no longer be the Chuck that she fell for and that the change will not be for the better. Shaw believes that Chuck has to change in order to control the intersect and become a true spy, he beleives this is for the best. Both are echoing Bryce in Alma Mater, “you can’t put him in the field…he’s too nice a guy…he won’t survive”, in other words, in order to survive Chuck will have to change.

    This ignores Jill’s request that he not let “them” change him in First Kill, and Chuck’s own statement that for him his friends and family come first in Awesome Operation. Ultimately I think Chuck doesn’t let them change him. This is the part of Chuck that Sarah forgot in her rush to run, that what she was asking of him was against his nature and she omitted to say the one thing that could have made him run with her, that she loved him. Essentially she was trying to change his nature as much as Shaw is, rather than fitting what she was trying to do into his nature.

    I think that ultimately she will get it, I’m not so sure that Shaw ever will. Also I think that Chuck will be correct in not changing his nature and that choice will be what allows him to control the intersect.

    At present Shaw, Sarah, the General and just about everybody else says that Chuck has to control his emotions to work the intersect, that it was designed for an emotionless spy like Bryce and Chuck has to become like that. I think there is an aspect to the intersect that doesn’t work the way people expect it to, that is what the General is speaking about when she says to Sarah that she has to save the world from Chuck. My guess is that the intersect, when it flashes essentially takes over, turning the individual into a sort of Terminator, I think this may be one of the things we start to see Monday with the nebbish guy’s intersect glasses, that when he flashes he continues until the threats are gone. I think of John Conner talking to the Terminator on how to behave in T2 and Arnold pulling out a gun to shoot a Chiquaqua(sp) as a threat.

    I think that Chuck’s situation is that his emotions make it harder for him to flash but somehow easier to control the flashes when they occur. My guess is that this will be a part of his punching Shaw, that he will flash on how to snap his neck (as with Emmitt) but chose to punch him in the face as more appropriate.

    Of course I am likely way off base, but this is what I am thinking, at least for now.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Good post herder. You put my theory on the glitchy intersect very well. If it were in Bryce it would work if Bryce was calm and collected because that is Bryce’s nature. Chuck can’t control it that way because, while he has those moments where he becomes calm and sees a way out like channeling Agent Charmichael to face down Colt in First Date, Chuck’s nature is to protect and help those around him. When he is in touch with his inner “Chuckness” the intersect works perfectly. I think this is what he’ll eventually discover, that if they let them change him he’ll lose his super powers, and he’ll find his own way. It also plays very well into Joe’s big question for Chuck. Who are you? The fact that Chuck has been on a voyage of self discovery since we first met the directionless slacker nerd ties in very well with the intersect 2.0 in this way. I like it.

      • herder says:

        Ernie, the point I was trying to make about the intersect was to distinguish between flashing and what you do with that flash. The flashing part, designed by Papa B, has always caused Chuck trouble, for the past two years it has been mostly involontary, and an emotional intersect could very well have more difficulty than a emotionally controlled person, Chuck v Bryce. The subject of the flashes was information and once there could easily be used.

        The new intersect, with abilities not designed by Papa B is where I think the glitches are. Lizjames below speculates that it affects the health of Chuck, which may be correct (Papa B’s seemed to affect his health). What I was thinking is that the glitch causes the user to act until the threat that caused the flash is gone without regard to proportionality or collateral damage, that it is Chuck’s emotions that enable him to control this part of the intersect where others might not, perhaps what Chuck flashes on in a situation is different from what a more emotionally controlled person might, I don’t know.

        What I do think is that the General has a very specific reason to worry, namely that Chuck isn’t the only one they have tried to intersect (maybe a version 2.1 that they have created) and they are having much the same problems as Fulcrum did in being able to find anyone capable of enduring the upload. Further the person or persons that they have uploaded the 2.1 to have been unable to control the information imparted by the flashes and is a danger to those that he works with. Thus the warning about saving the world from Chuck and the General’s plea to Shaw that they need to know.

    • ND2488 says:


      I am glad you posted this. I have a similar take on the intersect and the “save the world from Chuck” mission given to Sarah. It seems to me that the powers of intersect were designed to be able to manifest on both conscious command and instinctive response. It is the conscious command that Chuck (and the team) keeps trying to develop and harness (often he thinks too much and can’t flash). I believe that it is the instictive part of the intersect that worries the General. Cases in point:

      Chuck kicking Lester; Screaming at the asian woman; barely holding it together to not knockout Emmit. He could not control his reaction to the first two, and barely controlled his reaction to Emmit. While these were some of the best scenes from this season, they show the danger of the intersect.

      What will happen when Chuck losses his cool? Rage has a way of lending singular focus to the mind and put a person in a reactive state. This is a perfect recipe for the instictive aspect of the Intersect to work. Chuck (or any spy for that matter) could do some regrettable damage if he flashed while angry. He could possibly channel Bruce Banner in a sense. That is the fatal flaw with the intersect. It was designed for a Vulcan.

    • joe says:

      Herder, this is one of those things that’s always swirling around, but never gets it’s proper due – this idea that Chuck has to change, but won’t (and as far as the audience and Sarah is concerned, can’t and shouldn’t).

      Great post.

  10. lizjames says:

    I think it’s a given that Chuck will become a different kind of spy and you already see Sarah’s character coming to that conclusion. That was the import (besides the romantic one, of course) of her agreeing with Chuck in front of Shaw at the end of e4.

    But I don’t think we’re done with the Intersect per se. I think one of the reveals is that it isn’t working right and that the changes the government made to Orion’s designs has made it unstable. In other words, to mangle Shakespeare, the problems are in our stars, not ourselves. That’s probably what the 3.5 arc is about. A search for Orion to fix the Intersect. Of course, they could be going for an even more dramatic reveal: That the Intersect is killing Chuck and they knew that from the beginning. That would have been a typically melodramatic season-ending cliffhanger and fit nicely with the supposedly “darker” nature of the show.

    And one other thing while we’re talking about this: There’s also the Bryce and Sarah strand to clean up. Sarah’s claim about spying–you have to bury your emotions and keep them to yourself–was NOT Bryce’s theory of spying. He expressed love for Sarah openly, even challenged her once about her inability to deal with relationships. It’s one of the many good triangles in Chuck: Casey denies he has emotions, Sarah admits to having them and Bryce was actually able to balance them with spying.

    So the reintroduction of Bryce in e5 is probably leading somewhere, too.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Makes you wonder how many times poor Chuck is going to get his brain over-written.

      Liz, Bryce is an interesting catch. If we go to the playbook, the Hero’s Journey, Bryce represents at various points both the herald who calls the hero to embark on the quest, and nemesis who punishes the hero who turns away from their destiny. We know Chuck’s journey is underway, having finally answered Bryce’s call in the Ring, but Sarah is on a journey too. And hers is a bit less clear, though we have indications that learning to love and trust are part of it. In a post I’m working on I may explore some of that, but this was an interesting point that I totally missed, Bryce was back in the story as late as weeks after his death, and Sarah was perhaps being called to her journey while Chuck was in Prague. Now he’s apparently back to haunt her, did she misunderstand her calling and she’s now being punished for turning away. Is this Bryce’s next call to start? Fun to speculate on the possibilities.

      But then I sometimes wonder if I give the writers too much credit.

    • kg says:

      Well Liz, from what you’re alleging, the government doesn’t want to find Orion and they don’t want it fixed. Or even worse as you say, this is a plausible way to get rid of Chuck, slowly, without the obvious assassination.

      Didn’t Beckman tell Chuck in Prague “that there’s nothing wrong with the intersect, the problem is you?” Wasn’t that her retort when Chuck thought to call his father?

      Of course, Steve promised Ellie he was staying for good when the team rescued him from Black Rock. He vanished after the wedding reception.

  11. lizjames says:

    From the literal sense, Sarah going to Lisbon to bury Bryce’s ashes is the end of her relationship with Bryce. I mean, it’s closure with a sledgehammer.

    But how about this: Why has Bryce been the bad guy? Or, more specifically, why is he STILL seen as a bad guy. In many ways, he was the perfect friend to Chuck: Protected him from spying when it seemed right and then helped him stand up when it was finally his time. It turns out he had NOTHING to do with Jill and, as far as he knows, was a true and honest lover for Sarah. And even walked away graciously in Ring when he understood Sarah’s feeling for Chuck. Why isn’t Bryce seen as a hero in this drama. He WAS a superhero.

    I could posit this: The perfect Chuck of the future IS Bryce, perhaps with just a little less obvious coolness.

    And toy with this: Can there be a reveal going forward that Bryce and Sarah’s relationship was much less than it seems now? If nothing in the spy world is, ahem, real, why do we assume that Bryce and Sarah had a “real” relationship in any traditional sense. We know they were partners, we knew they had a cover boyfriend/girlfriend gig and even had a cover Mr/Mrs relationship. However, in the dialogue they have given the Sarah character, she has been very contradictory about the nature of her relationship with Bryce.

    • joe says:

      I’m not sure why you say that Bryce has been the bad guy, Liz. Well, he was seen to be that way, but that was a long time ago now, especially to Chuck.

      I think it was in Nemesis, when Bryce and Sarah are in the car near the end (just before they’re attacked by Tommy’s men), Bryce says to Sarah that she was never good at relationships. I took it then to mean that there something lacking in theirs. They may have looked like the perfect couple, and probably did to Chuck. But that would have been misleading (much like Chuck & Sarah’s wedding photos were misleading).

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Interesting points Liz. I never really considered Bryce a bad guy in the end. My references to him as Chuck’s nemesis are of the traditional literary sense, nemesis shows up to push you in the right direction. Bad things happening in Chuck’s life when Bryce shows up is the result of Chuck turning away from destiny, not because of Bryce. You are right, in the end Bryce gives Chuck his destiny on a platter, along with Sarah.

      I think we are meant, at this point at least, to assume Bryce and Sarah had some sort of relationship based on her tears in the pilot episode looking at their vacation and her saying they should keep it strictly professional this time in Breakup, but you are right, they could retcon that in any number of ways.

      My point of bringing up Bryce and Sarah was that is Bryce also showing Sarah the journey she has to take? Clearly Sarah never would have met Chuck without Bryce, and he showed up several times, forcing her to make a decision of some sort. Was Lisbon his last act, as you allude, closing one door with a slam, to push Sarah forward, or was he pointing her in a different direction? Will we see more about this?

      • lizjames says:

        The thing I have constantly found fascinating about the Chuck-Sarah-Bryce triangle (Triangles, by the way, are brilliantly done in Chuck except for the love ones) is the deleted dialogue from the 12/06 pilot. In it, Sarah tells Graham that she knew about Chuck from Bryce, who constantly referred to him as the greatest guy in the world.

    • atcdave says:

      I think Bryce stopped being a villain as early as Alma Mater; but he remained a challenging character for Chuck to the end.

      I do think Chuck is Bryce’s replacement in some metaphysical sense of the word; obviously first with Sarah, and then as the hero from the moment he entered the intersect room in The Ring. But Chuck will be a much better Bryce. (“You were the one, now he’s the one….”) Bryce may have had more emotional problems than Sarah; he obviously liked her a lot, but then he’s scolding Chuck “emotions get you killed…” in a pretty blatant pique of jealousy. I do think, in the near future, we’ll see Chuck getting a handle on the intersect without sacrificing his feelings or values. I’m prepared for a fairly underwhelming moment, possibly every bit as profound as the B5 quote I used above; but I hope we’ll see a more consistently mature Chuck at that point.

  12. wdm0744 says:

    Hi. I’m new to the boards, but I have really enjoyed reading all the interesting speculation about my favorite show.

    I wanted to add a couple of things to the discussion:

    First, I’ve never quite been on the same page as many fans concerning the end of “Colonel”. For me it is perfectly plausible that Sarah and Chuck didn’t have sex the night of the Rehearsal dinner.

    There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, when they were in the motel, they were caught in the passion of the moment. With Sarah being so rational and approaching any situation with an analytical and careful study, I can’t image that she would allow herself to get caught up in that kind of passion again so quickly, even if she now acknowledges that she feels something “real” for Chuck.

    Two, we mustn’t forget that this was the night of the rehearsal dinner and that the wedding had to be scheduled for some time early the next day (judging by the fact that Chuck and Casey were able to get wedding number 2 up and running by sunset).

    Chuck and Sarah, both members of the wedding party, were likely to be very busy for the next 24 hours. They may have been up all night with friends and family. Even if they had wanted to get back to where they started in “Colonel”, they may not have had the chance.

    So, for me, the real inconsistencies in the narrative don’t pick up until the beginning of Season 3.

    Which brings me to my second point. While I enjoyed “Pink Slip” and “Three Words” enormously, I did have an issue with the fact that Beckman let Chuck go freeafter failing his training.

    That seems really inconsistent with her previous notions to lock the Intersect in a padded cell or kill him once the new Intersect was up and running. I guess you could argue that Director Graham was more gung-ho about taking a hard line with Chuck in Season 1, but still… it doesn’t quite jive that she would let a malfunctioning Intersect walk.

    I know that the writers explain it away with “final status to be determined”, but it still seems a bit hinky to me.

    So, the question is, is this just sloppy writing, or is there more going on? I guess that’s obviously what we are all trying to determine.

    Final thoughts:

    1. I really like lizjames’ theory about the 3.5 arch having to do with getting Orion to fix a malfunctioning (and perhaps lethal) intersect. Very, very nice.

    I also think you have a point with the mention of Bryce maybe foreshadowing something in the works.

    2. I like the theory some have postulated about Chuck and Sarah getting together as a “spy couple” at the end of episode 12. It would be awesome if 3.5 even picked up months or a year or two later with Chuck and Sarah a stable couple, fighting the evils of the world.

    Probably too much to hope, but I like it.

    3. I’ve been thinking about Shaw’s final words to Sarah at the end of “First Class”. He says that he and her both fell in love with spies.

    Now, does he mean Bryce or Chuck? I would think he meant Bryce since he just found out Sarah was scattering his ashes in Barcelona, but on the other hand, he says he knows everything, so wouldn’t he know about her and Chuck?


    • atcdave says:

      Welcome wdm0744, its great to have new, articulate posters such as yourself. I do agree with your take on the gap between Colonel/The Ring. Most weddings I’ve been involved in are just too crazy/busy for members of the wedding party to get much time for themselves; at least until the night after. So while I would have expected Chuck and Sarah to make a special time of it, realities may not have allowed anything. Until/Unless we’re told, all we can do is speculate.
      I do expect we’ll hear more about the aftermath of Chuck’s training failure. If they were ready to terminate him for what he knew before, how much more valuable/dangerous is he with 2.0? Perhaps someone important (Sarah, Shaw, Orion) still hadn’t given up on the project and they were simply restructuring the training.
      I do think a “spy couple” is what the show will come to be, when is always the question. Indications are it may start to happen towards the end of this season. How far, how fast is pure guess work for now; but I’m sure we’ll be able to tell better the closer we get.

      Again, its great to have you here; we all love to discuss all things Chuck, so never hesitate to chip in.

    • joe says:

      Welcome to our humble blog, WDM. Great post. Liz James has been very persuasive in her writings about what happened after the rehearsal dinner (AND WHY NOT??!!). And after reading her words, the jump to the beginning of The Ring does seem jarring, especially if you view one episode right after the other as we are wont to do.

      But I have to admit, I’ve been unable to completely discount the possibility that NOTHING happened (it’s much closer to my experience – he said, embarrassingly…). You said it much better than I’ve been able to.

      • lizjames says:

        Actually, I’m a romantic. I would like to think Chuck and Sarah just looked at the moon and talked at the end of Colonel. Maybe kissed a little. I mean, for these two, talking seems even harder than sex!

        But that is not what we were supposed to think. The repeat of Creature Fear and what I’ve been calling the hand porn was clearly supposed to drive us back to the motel scene earlier in the show. We were supposed to take away that what Morgan put asunder by pilfering a condom was going to be recreated sometime that evening.

        As for me, I actually didn’t find the jump to Ring and Sarah’s “I’m going away” line all that annoying because I’ve always assumed that Sarah was shocked by the assignment to run Intersect 2.0 and, when surprised, Sarah always retreats to duty first, then thinks. Which is why her reversal at the end of the episode wasn’t out of character, either IMHO

        But as we’ve been talking today, maybe the reveal later in this season will take us all the way back to the end of Colonel. Maybe Chuck and Sarah DID speak–about some plan that got interrupted (but not totally destroyed) by the Train Scene.

      • joe says:

        I’m playing catch-up with today’s posts, Liz, but I think I understand what you mean – about what a reveal might do to the scene in Prague.

        Thanks for the clarification.

  13. AngelTwo says:

    Uh, don’t know what the make of this. Episode 15, Chuck vs. the Role Models, which we’re told features the 50s married superspies, is written by Phil Klemmer. Klemmer wrote what I still think is the most bitter episode of the show: Suburbs. I mean, I loved the episode, but it was brutally sad.

    So we’re either gonna get treated to the flip of Suburbs–here’s a “real” life you can have–or they are gonna make more misery. And if Chuck and Sarah are still miserable as late as e15, I give up.

    • atcdave says:

      Hopefully they know better than that. A good writer should be able to handle a variety of tones and themes; and even enjoy the challenge. As you said, they have to deliver this season, and they know it.

      But there’s no guarantee the Role Models are good guys in the end……

    • joe says:

      Angel, did you find Suburbs sad because the cul-de-sac started to look like paradise, and was brutally taken away?

      If so, I understand what you mean. That was mitigated a little for me, though, by two things; Casey noting how the neighbors gave him the creeps, and by the use of Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads. The song’s theme was about the unreality of suburbia. Despite Sarah’s glow in the kitchen, it never seemed to be Chuck’s version of paradise.

      But if your talking about Chuck’s speech at the end, then like you, I hope we have a different outcome. That felt like a major set back at the time.

      • AngelTwo says:

        What I found brutal about Suburbs was Chuck liking the house goddess Sarah and having that seemingly fun life yanked from him. And even tougher was the last scene with Sarah looking at stuff going out of the house and clearly thinking about what she had just lost in her cover life and thought she could never have in “real” life. And that song, Freeze and Explode, is incredibly sad.

        I mean, the episode was beautifully played and well scripted. But it hurt to watch it. In many ways, it is still Chuck and Sarah’s lowest point because they got to play house and then had it yanked away.

        One other thing worth nothing. In the last scene in Awesome two weeks ago, the way they had Chuck surveying his new “family” scene was shot EXACTLY like one of the his scenes in Suburbs. It was a fabulous callback, which I took to mean that THIS is real (or will be some day) and what Chuck wants.

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