Chuck Versus The Seduction

The concept, not the episode.

Seductive Sarah

We love our characters.  We love to obsess over their inner lives, their hopes and fears, their conflicts and emotions, and how two characters in particular are getting along these days.  Yes, here in our dysfunctional little corner of the Chuck-verse, we love our characters.  Except maybe Shaw.  Well, he seems to be taking over a bit much, messing with the dynamics of team B, but then that is his job, I think.  I can’t take credit for the observation, but someone said they thought Shaw represented a Chuck who lost his Sarah.  His dedication to his team’s safety, his willingness to bargain for Chuck’s safety, his dislike of guns and his more mental approach to the spy game all do seem to be a reflection of what Chuck is or could become.  It’s always interesting when a new character or guest star is introduced into Chuck’s world.  Will they show us a new way to look at Casey, or a bit of Sarah’s past, or even, as with Shaw, possibly a glimpse into the future.  But this isn’t about Shaw.  This post is about how a guest or recurring character can give you some insight into one of our favorite members of team B.  This is about Carina and Sarah.  And Chuck and Sarah.  And Chuck.  And Sarah.  After the jump.

We first meet Carina all the way back in the early episodes of season 1.  Her introduction is, well, interesting.  What looks at first like a knock down drag out fight to the death between two trained assassins is apparently what she and Sarah do for fun.  Bloody nose, bruises, no harm, no foul, as long as no goldfish are harmed.  Carina is a bit of a whirlwind.  Trying to seduce Chuck, apparently succeeding with Casey, going off mission and improvising, seemingly on a whim, just for the excitement it seems.  But as Sarah says, she keeps it interesting.  And the initial interactions between Sarah and Carina are interesting too.  There is obviously some history, and some understanding of what life is like for spies, but with Carina there is something else.  She seems surprised how much her old friend Sarah has settled in to her cover life.  If a yawn could yawn.  How do you stand it she asks Sarah.  Carina is skeptical to hear Sarah answer “I’m good here.”  And the two seem to exchange a knowing smile, perhaps about another time and place.  Even though there is a mission Carina seems almost as interested in gathering intel on agent Walker’s new life as she is in the mission.  She subtly interrogates Chuck while attempting to seduce him, seeing if there is a way to pry him free of team B if she needs to.  Carina likes taking what Sarah wants.  Chuck’s trust is Carina’s first victim.  Sarah wants it desperately, and needs it for her to be able to protect Chuck, but she finds the seemingly most innocent of lies, one tossed off without a thought to protect Chuck’s feelings can come back to haunt her.  Then Carina puts the nail in the coffin. “Trust me, a spy doesn’t want you to know anything about them that’s real. No matter who you are.”  And with those words Chuck’s greatest fear is brought back into focus.  You have no idea who Sarah Walker is or what she is capable of.

Who is Sarah Walker and what is she capable of?  It seems that Sarah is having as much trouble figuring that out as Chuck is.  You see it written on her face as she deals with Chuck and his anxieties.  Starting at the end of Wookie you could see that she wanted to tell him something about herself, something real, but what?  What about her was real?  Even her names were like another piece of clothing as Carina put it, to be discarded as soon as it wasn’t convenient.  It looks like Chuck isn’t the only one asking the question, who are you.  And it appears we’re dealing with a moving target.  Time to get another fix on it and see if the path becomes clear.  Time for the one person who seems to be able to read the enigmatic Sarah Walker like a book to make another appearance.

Carina is back in Three Words, and she seems her old self, looking for some fun and excitement along with the job.  But catching up with her old friend is on the agenda too.  Like before she seems interested in this new life of Sarah’s, and one element in particular, one Charles Irving Bartowski.  Just watching Sarah’s reaction Carina is able to tick through the possibilities as to where this “cover” has lead till she finds out that Agent Sarah Walker has broken the cardinal rule.  Sarah Walker fell in love.  A quick look at the two of them together and she’s read the rest of the story, he broke her heart, and he doesn’t even know it.

Here’s where things get both delicate and interesting.  Sarah has a bit of a reputation. It isn’t just Casey’s snide remarks, Carina also talks about Sarah’s tendency to mix business and pleasure, and I think that goes deeper than just Bryce and Chuck.  Also, that reputation is similar to what we actually see about Carina.  Carina’s surprise in both Wookie and Three Words about Sarah’s situation, and Chuck points to something else, a trajectory backwards in time to when perhaps Sarah Walker and Carina were a lot more alike than they are now.

Before anyone gets offended let me just point out that I don’t think Carina is an unsympathetic character.  She is who she is, unapologetically.  The barbs Casey throws her way don’t even seem to register, as opposed to the rise he can always count on from Sarah.  She has her own way of dealing with her spy life, and apparently her own set of rules.  In Wookie Carina doesn’t go after Chuck until she has a crucial bit of information (she thinks).  Chuck’s knowledge of her past missions means he’s a player in the game, and he looked her up.  Sarah’s quick glance aside at Chuck’s inadvertent disclosure of that bit of info can be read two ways.  The first I thought of was that she suddenly saw the possibility that Chuck could know or find out a lot more about Sarah Walker if he knew who Sarah Walker really was.  The second that I hadn’t really thought of until I was re-watching scenes for this post was that she realizes Chuck just put himself in play in Carina’s game.  Cheers to spying is the toast Carina gives as she starts her seduction attempt with Chuck.  Chuck is in on the game as far as she’s concerned, and he knows the rules.  Carina can take Chuck from Sarah just for kicks because everyone involved is in the spy world, and they all know the cardinal rule, don’t fall in love.  Since there aren’t real feelings involved it’s no rougher than her sparring session with Sarah at the beginning.  A bloody nose, a few bruises, no permanent damage, and it keeps them all sharp.  In the end Carina sees that Sarah has chosen another path, and it isn’t hers.  She offers Sarah a last chance, come with me, you can forget the heartbreak and we’ll go back to the way it was.  But Sarah is past the game, she’s already decided she’s going to try to stick it out and change.  Carina does the only thing a real friend could do, she gives her the gift that shows her it might just be worth it.

Sarah is not Carina, clearly, but watching some of those earlier season 1 episodes showed me something else about Sarah that has changed.  She had a certain edge back then.  She seemed more dangerous, even when it came to Chuck.  She was more enigmatic back then, especially when it came to Chuck.  Sarah Walker is changing, and I think it is a fair assumption that it is a journey that started before we met her.  Where she started that journey is pure speculation, but more like Carina is as far as I’m going to try to go so we can keep it civil.  Why did she start?  We don’t know, you can read it as part of her journey to redemption of a sort, from treating emotions and love like a game to learning what love really is and how it could be redeeming.  Clearly her childhood left her unprepared to understand some of what she may have done as a spy.  People were marks to her long before she became a spy, and maybe some of the pain we see now is payment for past sins.  But that isn’t what this is about either.  This is about Sarah and Chuck, and a certain discomfort on the part of Chuck with who Sarah Walker is and what she is capable of.

The whole first season was about trust.  Could Chuck trust Sarah, could Sarah trust Casey, could any of them trust Carina, or Bryce?  Carina was sort of a plot pivot because she was the first female spy Chuck met other than Sarah, and Carina clued him in to the spy rules.  Nothing is real, you don’t ever know a spy.  This is Chuck’s great fear, he’ll never know Sarah in any meaningful way.  Gradually they do learn to trust each other and a bond forms that seems to take a compromise midpoint.  Sarah will let Chuck in, but only so far, and in return Chuck gives Sarah his trust and a bit of what she needs to feel real.  But there is a certain situation that arises about once a season that tests this arrangement.  Seduction missions.  And we appear to be headed for another.

Carina not only clued Chuck in on the spy life, she became a focus of his fear, expressed more than once, what if Sarah is like Carina.  What if she really can turn her emotions on and off.  What if she too sees it as a big game.  Who is Sarah Walker, and what is she capable of.  If the answer points in some directions, like the end of Santa Claus, he doesn’t want to know.  Seduction missions bring up another scenario where Chuck is afraid he might find out something about Sarah he’d rather not know.  So as we watch Chuck and how he reacts keep this in mind, he’s not just jealous, he’s afraid.  Afraid of what he might find out about Sarah, afraid of what she might be asked or required to do.  Afraid of what she might be willing to do.  Afraid of what it is all doing to Sarah, an emotionally fragile and vulnerable woman whom he loves.

Chuck hates seduction missions.  Especially Sarah’s.

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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 Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations. Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Chuck Versus The Seduction

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    I just want dibs on the first comment to make a few points. I brought this up on the NBC boards and the conversation went downhill almost immediately. But I thought it interesting and important enough to bring up here, where our group can and will handle things in a more mature and tasteful manner. Let’s try to keep it clean and respectful folks. Thanks.

  2. atcdave says:

    Like a lot of things for Chuck and Sarah, I expect them to make peace in the middle ground. Chuck may never like seduction missions, but perhaps he will accept their occasional usefulness. Sarah may be less conflicted (actually, I think the hates them almost as much as Chuck does; but is used to seeing them as another tool available, when needed); but she may learn to adjust her behavior to respect Chuck’s sensibilities, a little. I actually hope we never see a Chuck who’s completely comfortable with Sarah fawning over another guy; but a simple conversation before hand (“are you going to be OK Chuck, you know this doesn’t mean anything”/”I trust you Sarah, let’s just get it over with quick”) could actually show a level of trust and respect for each other.
    What’s coming up is interesting. We know Sarah will resort to Chuck’s least favorite tools of the trade. However that pans out, the following week we get Chuck pawing all over Hannah. I’m thinking Chuck has to engage in a seduction mission of his own, right after slamming Sarah for doing it. It could be an important growth moment; both professionally and personally for Chuck. Or it could be cheezy s-angst that has us all reaching for the rubber brick.

  3. Mike B says:

    I don’t think Chuck will ever be comfortable with seduction missions both as an observer or a participant. But I think this weeks episode has an interestin twist in that the mark is just like him. A computer nerd not a smooth cool super spy. I am anxious to see how it plays out. I just hope, as actdave says above it’s not just more angst.

    • joe says:

      Excellent point, Mike. It’s going to be easy for Chuck to see himself as the mark too. Prediction: he’s not going to take it well.

      I must be getting old or something. I don’t hate this idea. Chuck needs to learn to trust Sarah enough that she doesn’t always have to calm him down about such things beforehand, right? If he really wants to be the spy she’s looking for, then “Mr. Always Do The Right Thing” has to understand it’s a tool of the trade.

  4. kg says:

    As usual Ernie, well done.

    I agree. Chuck will never be completely comfortable with Sarah participating in seduction missions. Still, I think Dave is right. Just an attempt by Sarah beforehand, alerting him that’s she aware of his feelings and sensibilities, would help immeasureably.

    Like many of us have said hundreds of times, with all they’ve been through, they should be in a place LIKE THAT by now, already.

    Maybe he’ll surprise us and display some competence seducing Hannah for a mission, but I’m worried because when we’ve seen Chuck play tonsil hockey with Sarah, Lou and Jill each time he’s looked as if he was all in.

    Actually, the only time he wasn’t fully into it I now recall was when Sasha pulled him into the elevator. He was recoiling and had his eyes wide open. Naturally Sarah witnesses the whole thing unfold and her reaction, ironically, was strictly Chuck – complete horror.

    Ernie, it was what you wrote at the end of your piece that brought me back to the CIA-laden restaurant in Fat Lady when Sarah (waitress with a brunette wig) and Casey (an effeminate waiter) rig a fake phone call because Chuck is straying off mission during his dinner date with Jill.

    Chuck used those same words. “Sarah I’m not like you, some robot who can turn my emotions on and off.”

    Chuck could see that momentarily his words hurt Sarah. If she was like Carina once, she certainly wasn’t by 2-7. His cold words did hurt. “I’m sorry Sarah,” he said. “That was uncalled for.”

    And after she acknowledged his apology she was able to help calm him down and get “back in there.”

    Season two was chock full of little sweet, tender moments like that. They’ve been sorely lacking this January.

    • joe says:

      I love those moments. The one you detailed, KG, told me then that Sarah had already changed (just like Ernie noted in the post). She was hurt by that comment. It hurt because she recognized herself, but it hurt precisely because she no longer was that robot. Imagine Carina being told that!

    • Gord says:

      You are right about the missing tender moments. So far I can only think of 1 big moment. That was when Chuck invites her to the family/friends dinner.

      I swear the look on her face when she walks past him after their little exchange was exactly the same as at the end of Tango “forced to kiss me, would it be so bad”. Take a look at her face when she walks away at the end of that scene.

      • Mike B says:

        That just goes to show you how lacking this season is if the dinner scence qualifies as a Chuck and Sarah tender moment. It lasted less then 10 seconds. If you go back to season 2 every episode, even the Casey centric “Sensi” episode was loaded with Chuck and Sarah one on one tender moments.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Mike B, I agree 100%. Way (WAY) too little Chuck and Sarah together time. HUGE mistake ending the “cover” relationship if weren’t going to plunge directly into a real one; it is absolutely killing the show for me. Obviously, I can give them a few more weeks, but I’m not happy about it.

  5. herder says:

    The funny thing is that Sarah doesn’t like Chuck to go on seduction missions either. She didn’t seem comfortable with him going after Sasha Banachek in the Seduction, nor with Jill in the Ex and certainly not with crazy cougar lady in the Suburbs, but in each she gave him some reassurance before hand, more so she seemed uncomfortable when she had to go after Cole in Beefcake.

    That and she seemed aware of how much it bothered Chuck in Crown Vic, I suspect that this time around it will trigger a fight like it did that time. It will be interesting to see if she understands that it is not just jealousy on his part but that part of his antipathy about these type of missions are brought about by what it says about the seducter’s nature.

    The other interesting part is that Chuck has a hard time seperating real from fake feelings in these missions, with Sasha Banachek and Crazy Cougar Lady he had no interest, but with Jill things got mixed up and I suspect the same will happen with Hannah. Sarah knows this and will likely have a more difficult time if Chuck has to seduce Hannah for information (maybe about her mysterious ex-employer).

    • atcdave says:

      I hope we see some of that this week (it would be pure bonus if Chuck sees it too); that Sarah doesn’t actually care for this tactic.

    • joe says:

      It would be a great time for that adult conversation we’ve been promised. Wouldn’t it?

      • kg says:

        No kidding, Joe.

        THAT is what Old Darth (Lou) alleged as far back as Pink Slip. Really? Nobody has been able to cite such evidence on either site. And the reason is because it is not evident.

        You know what I’m talking about. Same old games. Same old angst. Same old doubts. Same old miscommunication. Character density. Developing same old PLIs. And no real relationship, no fake relationship. Just friends.

  6. Ernie Davis says:

    I just finished watching Fat Lady. All I can say is that it’s a good thing Jill took Chuck on the road, because when Sarah busted into his bedroom she was ready to pump some serious lead into Jill, if she’d been there. Nope, Sarah isn’t fond of seduction anymore either.

    But as an aside, man it just amazes me how good this show was. The ending of Fat Lady is forever going to be one of my favorite bits of TV. This is what they need to recapture, the sense of drama, with the music and the cinematography, just astounding stuff, and I love it now every bit as much as I loved it then.

    • atcdave says:

      The ending of Fat Lady is great; and its a darn good thing they’d already left, I mean, how long do you think it would have taken Chuck to recover from Sarah filling Jill with lead?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Exactly.

      • kg says:

        Then, as I’m sure you guys recall, they followed up with an outstanding Graviton episode. So much stuff.

        Chuck is played and used by Jill. He screws up royally. But, Classic Chuck without Intersect 2.0, quickly thinks on his feet and grabs the castle manual.

        And even after she plays him, he still wants to help her until of course he catches her about to drill Sarah with some heated lead. Walker hears Chuck’s speech from the dock. Riveting TV.

        And there’s more. Big Mike tackles Leader. Sarah and Chuck have an intimate talk in the court yard. She implores him not to change, he’s “thankful that he has her.” They hold hands and she says, “Yeah, we’re much better as a team.”

        The best scene for me, though, occurred in the castle. Professionally, Sarah and Casey are begging Chuck not to unlock the base even though they will be blown to bits in under two minutes.

        The looks on their faces were priceless. They half believed what they were saying and half hoping Chuck wouldn’t let them down. It wasn’t so hard for Chuck. You knew right away he would never let them die.

        Sarah was moved by Chuck’s gesture and 150 percent pissed at Roberts. “Jill…If you hurt him,” she couldn’t finish the sentence.

    • Lucian says:

      I can still watch just about any episode from the first two seasons and enjoy them again. There isn’t an episode yet this season that does that. Both characters were more likable. Angry, overprotective Sarah and overzealous Chuck are not as much fun to watch. Hopefully this is a period they will work through – bring back the Chuck!

      • Gord says:

        I am really sorry you are not enjoying this season as much.

        I have rewatched all of the S3 episodes at least twice and I am still loving them. In fact, I find there are a lot of enjoyable parts to 3.01 that I missed the first time through. I have to admit that 3.01 was very unsettling episode, but it has grown on me since the first viewing.

        It may be easier to watch that episode after seeing the others. For me Operation Awesome is one of my all-time favourite episodes – definitely in the top 5.

      • joe says:

        Heh! Yeah, me too. My problem is that I have about 15 episodes in my “top 5” now, Gord. 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, I would rank both Awesome episodes very highly. In fact, if they were on iTunes, I’d be using them to promote the show when I visit friends and family on my vacation this week.
        But I wouldn’t rank the other three from this season very highly. As I said the night of; Pink Slip is officially my least favorite Chuck ever. I’ve only watched it twice; and I’ll probably only add one more viewing whem the Blu-Rays come out. Three Words was pretty good, in the context of the reset, but otherwise I wouldn’t rate it very well. First Class just fell flat for me.

  7. John says:

    Great article. One of the main reasons why I watch Chuck (besides ogling Yvonne) is the complex character that is Sarah Walker. Can’t wait for more information to be revealed about her past.

  8. joe says:

    I’ll echo John here, Ernie. Great post.
    I recognize that “edge” to Sarah that you mentioned. I saw it throughout the first two episodes, then more rarely. Caught a glimpse in Beefcake when she and Chuck and Cole had been captured, and again in Colonel (it’s the look on Yvonne’s face when she says “Was that a ‘Yes’?” to Casey, while pointing a gun at him). It’s nowhere to be seen in Marlin or Suburbs or Broken Heart.

    It’s her “Agent Walker” look, I think. And it’s the only way I know the emotions have been suppressed, put away, deep inside (as she tells Chuck in Pink Slip.

    Interesting that I don’t see it in that scene, though.

    Now I have a question. Does anyone believe that Chuck thinks Sarah is like Carina? Despite Casey’s pointed quips, I don’t think he does. He’s far too respectful, even in his dreams, right?

    • atcdave says:

      I think Chuck hopes she isn’t like Carina; but he doesn’t really know. I think that’s one of the things they will need to sort out; specifically, Chuck needs to KNOW Sarah loves him; and when a mission calls for some seduction, it is just a mission.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      As I said, I think Chuck’s greatest FEAR was that he’d discover Sarah was like Carina. I think his discomfort in Beefcake and Lethal Weapon was that she’d confirm that with a tryst with Cole. I think by S2 he was mostly over that fear and his discomfort was more about what she might need to do and what it was doing to her.

      • Zsjaer says:

        Well Ernie i don t quite know how to tell or explain better my opinion about this but i don t think (from my point of view ofcourse) we can really say that one of Chuck´s greatest Fears was to discover Sarah was like Carina.. I don t think we have that sensation by watching the screen..its more something that we can speculate about it, and that i concur, than a emotion that we receive by watching the show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think the relationship reset relied very heavily on the pretty well established plot device that Chuck has always feared Sarah’s feelings for him are not real or are, while not insincere, exaggerated by her to control him.

  9. Ernie Davis says:

    One thing I omitted from the article is the aspect of seduction that plays most directly on Chuck’s fears, when Sarah uses his feelings for her to “handle” him. He’s not totally unaware it happens, so in a sense he worries about if she is always on that mission with him and if anything is real. You also see that Sarah becomes more and more uncomfortable doing this with Chuck, right up to the episode Chuck Versus The Seduction where she somewhat obviously leads him on to get him to cooperate. You can sense her discomfort doing it, and his exasperation that she still is doing it. I don’t recall her ever really playing on his feelings for her like that after Seduction.

    • Lucian says:

      In the upcoming episode, Chuck is probably thinking “all I got was a dance in a disco and a shoulder bump on the beach; maybe I need to go back to being an asset. I got more attention when she didn’t love me.”

      • joe says:

        Oooffff!!! If Chuck is anything like me, that’s exactly what he’s going to think, Lucian.

        And that’s the point. We still project a lot of ourselves unto these characters. Well, okay, *I* do.

        I’ve seen many complaints in “the boards” that Chuck is less fun so far this season. And it’s true. The show is – and he is. But just look at those first few episodes from S1, if only in your mind, again. It does look like a simplistic, child-like world compared to what we’ve seen lately. But instead of Chuck watching Sarah dance “The Forbidden Dance” with Bryce and hurting all over for it, he’s one dancing with her now. And he’s NOT “a bit rusty”, either.

        The problem is that it costs to be in that position. It costs a lot.

        I’m a little sorry for those who aren’t willing to part with the child-like fun and have stopped watching the show for that reason. Growing up the way Chuck has done – the way we all did – is bitter sweet at best. Me, I’m one of those who were hoping to see a bit less of the Buy More silliness, and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten.

        What I’m seeing right now are two pretty beat-up souls, who are trying to get over their fear of touching each other. It’s not as much fun, but it’s where they should be, I think. It’s the only way I see them getting to where I want them to be.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well when the most romantic moment of the season is when Sarah is beating Chuck with a stick for telling her he loves her it does seem a little darker and less fun. For one thing they need to let Yvonne show some emotion other than the permanent scowl she seems to have now.

      • joe says:

        Well, the bo scene certainly was intense. Don’t know if I’d associate the word “romantic” with it, though. To me, the most romantic things have been Chuck saying “I love you.” as he collapses, and Sarah fighting to hold it in at the end of The Three Words. What’s different about those moments isn’t the intensity of the romantic feelings, I think. It’s the fact that they aren’t physically together when they’re having them. Those scenes had happened at the fountain, then it would feel like parts of S2. Right?

  10. Lucian says:

    We all watch Chuck for different reasons, and we all are entertained differently. Two people who are clearly in love, but “fate” and their own disfunction won’t allow them to have something that approximates a healthy relationship isn’t real entertaining, from where I sit. I understand the characters have issues. They need to make the journey as enjoyable as the destination if they want people like me to watch. It all has to do with target audiences. I’ll put up with some of it, if the payoff is not too far off.

  11. herder says:

    I know it’s early in the season, but for a group of writers who stress that it isn’t the destination, it’s the journey that is important, they certainly seem to be relying on the destination to justify the journey. This season-so far- has been a bunch of bad things happening to both Chuck and Sarah; her heart is broken, he flunks out of spy school, she is too overprotective on missions, he moons over some other girl, now we are to get what I will charitably call romantic misunderstandings. The episodes have been entertaining but, for myself, I have an undercurrent of disatisfaction that these characters that I care about are so unhappy. We are told the payoff will be worth it, but isn’t that just another way of saying that it is the destination, not the journey.

    • Lucian says:

      I believe it was Old Darth who referred to the bo scene as the most romantic of the show to date. We all define romance differently. The person you love telling you that you can’t hurt her any more than you already have is not my personal defintion of great romance. Diffent strokes….

    • atcdave says:

      Yeah, it is funny how “unfun” the journey is right now. It does make a joke of “enjoy the roller coaster”. Its more like a 60 year old ride that isn’t remotely up to code. (too out of date, and too unsafe to be fun). Its just a matter of hanging on for 2 (or more) episodes until things, hopefully, get better.

      Spending two seasons coming to like and admire the leads, it just isn’t satisfying to watch them be miserable.

      I sure agree with Lucian on the bo scene. It was well acted and executed. But it was painful and not fun. I can deal with that on occasion; but it seems to encapsulate the mood of the season right now.

  12. Ernie Davis says:

    Well I admit I was being a bit facetious about the Bo scene being the most romantic scene of the season, but think about it, think of how many scenes you’ve had with the two of them interacting in anything like a positive or upbeat way?

  13. Lucian says:

    In past seasons, the barriers to a “real” relationship were outside the characters. Given that Chuck is no longer an asset, the barriers are now their own dysfunction / immaturity. It is hard to sympathize with characters when the solution to their problems involve counseling and conversation, yet they (seemingly) would prefer another round of PLIs. It may be more dramatic; it is not particularly epic (in fact it is less heroic, though it may be more realistic). There is the hero’s journey as tradegy and the hero’s journey as inspiration and redemption. It is not more entertaining for those with sensibilities like mine. But, I’m a middle-aged male and probably not an important demo for them.

  14. Lucian says:

    Joe – the reason they have their fear of touching each other is basically because of the pain inflicted by “Prague” and the miscommunication surrounding that. That fear was manufactured to create angst. Not particularly good storytelling in my book. Been there, done that.

    • joe says:

      I agree about the reason you give, Lucian. But I’m not sure why you think that you’ve “been there, done that” (unless you mean it’s personal to you).

      If you mean that the miscommunication was used as a reason before, well I understand that. Except it seems very different this time. I’m coming up blank for an earlier example of a clean miscommunication between them (although, like with the Santa Claus incident, there’s been a severe *lack* of communication several times). Even so, this doesn’t strike me so much as about not talking, but about actively making a mess of things.

      Chuck’s decision to re-intersect, Sarah’s decision to leave the spy world behind, their failures to achieve their goals and their regrets – that’s not really about talking, but about doing, and not doing. Isn’t it?

      • atcdave says:

        I think they’ve played the misunderstanding/miscommunication bit so many times the details of it hardly matter. I agree the specific twist is a little different this year, and of course we have reason to think change is coming; but the reset itself feels tired and manipulative. Not at all like creative story telling. The real crime is 3 out of 5 episodes this year have been more tense than fun, its just not what I look for in an evenings entertainment.

  15. herder says:

    Not quite sure where to post this as this is supposed to be about the concept not the episode, but wow, amazing episode, I actually begrudged the commercials. Best of the year so far, not going to spoil it for others but watch this, record it and watch it again.

    • joe says:

      I’m sure Ernie doesn’t mind.

      I’d agree, but I still suffer from the critical malady, for a critic, of always thinking that my favorite episode is the last one I’ve seen!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joe, I think Herder has actually seen the seduction scene. Our Canadian friends have seen the outcome of what I’m speculating on…

      • herder says:

        Ernie, wasn’t refering to the seduction scene at all, I was making a pun on the subtitle of the article, I was simply giving my opinion of the episode as a whole.

      • joe says:

        Oooh!!!
        Oh boy. How am I going to sleep tonight, knowing that tomorrow’s episode is sooooo good???

  16. Faith says:

    Joe, Canada’s 3.06 thread? 🙂

    • joe says:

      Hum… I thought Canada was not going to see this one early. And just seconds ago, I see Ernie has started one!

      It’s good to know I’m not on a solo mission here! 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Happy to help. I think it is post olympics that Canada goes to after us.

      • herder says:

        Unless I’m mistaken, next week Citytv shows 3.07 an hour early on Monday then after the Olympics it shows the episodes two hours later. So this is probably the last week that you have to put up with us posting cryptic reviews. Although I have enjoyed seeing the episodes sooner, I find it frustrating that I can’t get into a discussion about what it all means for 23 hours. So long as Citytv doesn’t simulcast (run it’s feed and commercials over the NBC stations) the show and cause me to miss the preview for the next episode, espesially 3.07 as I suspect they will have an extended preview of the next few episodes before the break.

  17. Ernie Davis says:

    Oh, there was one more thing I wanted to bring up, just as a sort of trivia. In Wookie they reference Casey’s previous run-in with Carina. It was where? Prague.

    • atcdave says:

      That’s certainly a random oddity. Possibly the overuse of Omaha from S1 is in the same category; makes you wonder about Lisbon. Will it actually be significant, or is it a red herring?

  18. amyabn says:

    Seduction vs. Manipulation

    I didn’t want to hijack the blog with my own posting when this has been a great topic on its own, but I have some rather strong feelings when it comes to my favorite female spy. I also want to caveat my comments by saying I haven’t been on the NBC boards in months and don’t want to turn this into a morality discussion as I hear things over there digressed.

    I don’t have any issues with the tactics that we’ve seen used by Sarah. I’ve always appreciated her using her brains first, her, ahem, assets second, and violence is usually the final option. What do we know about Sarah? Sarah has a lifetime of knowing how to manipulate and con people. According to Casey (whose opinion in Beefcake is suspect), Sarah has been around the proverbial block. I always felt that comment was to dig on Chuck, not that it was truthful. She never had any plan to sleep with Manoosh, for example. She manipulated him, which is far different than a seduction. We don’t know what her plan was in Beefcake-would she have slept with Cole? I don’t think so. I don’t see Sarah sleeping with all of these marks, because she is smart enough to not have to.

    The discomfort both Sarah and Chuck is evident, both on a personal level for having to take advantage of someone, and on a jealousy level. Sarah’s facial expression was priceless when she watched Sasha Banachek make a move on Chuck. It was also clear when the likes of Lou and Jill showed up. Chuck didn’t want to have to cheat on his fake wedding vows with crazy cougar lady Sylvia in Suburbs and he didn’t like her interactions with Cole or Manoosh.

    If these two can finally have an adult conversation and honestly express their feelings for one another, then they can define some of their work roles as well. Chuck needs to realize that Sarah is smarter than he is giving her credit for. Both of them need to agree that actually sleeping with a mark is an absolute last resort. If they truly are a team, they can work through the spy and personal stuff and meet in the middle. They both have to be comfortable with some level of manipulation of others, just not each other.

    • atcdave says:

      Some good points Amy. I think Sarah’s caution when engaging a mark is actually commendable; whether its for personal reasons or simply respect of Chuck. Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll have that honest conversation. My bet would be, once they have that talk, the writers will find seduction type missions a lot less interesting, and we won’t see so many of them in the future (I hope).

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Amy, I understand seduction can be a loaded word, but I think it is the appropriate one since attraction was the key to how Sarah manipulated Manoosh. I also posted that in a sense Chuck seduced him too, just on a different level.

      As far as Sarah’s past if you re-watch the Carina episodes her digs at Sarah are pretty similar to Casey’s, assuming that Sarah could be involved with Chuck by the first time she met him. But that wasn’t really the point I was making in this post, it was more about Sarah’s changing and Chuck’s fears. Clearly Sarah is moving in a certain direction away from using Chuck’s attraction to her to manipulate him. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Chuck is stuck wondering how much he has been played till very recently. So I was trying to highlight that it wasn’t about sex, but attraction and using that for manipulation. Which Sarah basically admits to in the Nacho Sampler, if not in her discussion with Chuck then with the final scene and “Piece of cake.” I didn’t want to imply that Sarah was Carina, just that perhaps she had a far more cavalier attitude about seduction and manipulation before she met Chuck.

      • amyabn says:

        I gotcha Ernie. I don’t know why the whole topic of a fictional character and her morals, for lack of a better descriptor, had me on the defensive. I think we are on the same page (although you are always more eloquent than me!). I agree with your assessment of the attraction/manipulation, but I am bothered by Chuck’s complete lack of faith. I won’t rehash it all again, but simply summarize by saying I can’t believe Chuck has forgotten all that Sarah has given up/sacrificed for him, going AWOL, etc.
        I never thought you were paralleling Sarah and Carina-their base values, to me, are completely different. Carina seems to enjoy using people to get what she wants, while Sarah seems remorseful (to a point). Cheers to spying!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Amy, and this is where we get into my pet peeve, the reset in the Ring. After Sarah going on the run to save Chuck and find his dad, any lack of trust or understanding between them is basically retcon. Sarah may not have been able to say it, but she managed to say everything through her actions. Chuck didn’t hear it, but he knew it. They are telling us that what we saw in the Colonel wasn’t real, just another misunderstanding, ’cause you know, committing treason to keep Chuck out of a bunker isn’t really all that clear. And Chuck saying I don’t know what I want to do with my life but I want you in it, well that just isn’t enough for Sarah Walker. And this is where the real damage gets done, we are left to wonder how much of what we enjoyed they’ll damage or destroy in their effort to re-define the characters and the story. And they doubled down on that bet in Pink Slip, ’cause you know after committing treason once, doing it again to live their life together, I mean, well what does she REALLY mean?

        There were plenty of ways they could have played the two as apart, but wanting to be together for another half a season if they weren’t so impressed with their own “really really great” traumatic events.

        I’ve written about this before, but the one thing that has to ring true in any character you are supposed to sympathize with are the human qualities. The emotions, the pain, the loss, the joy, those have to connect to us in real ways. Peter Parker cannot have super spidey emotions that only he understands and expect us to find him someone we can relate to. Superman is an alien, but the way we relate to him is love and loss and loneliness and duty, not some obscure Krypton emotion only he understands. They didn’t pooch it quite so bad in the Ring and Pink Slip, but in an attempt to say no this isn’t just angst, this is ANGST!!! Super ANGST, SUPER LOVE, SUPER LOSS, FEEL YOU FOOLS FEEL!!!! … well they kind of lost me. The breakup was a far more powerful scene than anything I saw in Ring or Pink Slip. Hell, the breakup at the end of Truth had more emotional impact, ’cause we all understood and they hadn’t played that same card a dozen times. I actually felt for Sarah. By Pink Slip I was just thinking not this again.

      • atcdave says:

        Not this again is exactly the problem. There’s been a disconnect all season. If an actual reconnecting had happened after Three Words the situation might have been more palatable. But now they’re wallowing in their own frustrations; it isn’t fun to watch, the characters are no longer relatable or admirable, and there’s no chemistry between Levi and Strahovski because they aren’t even sharing much screen time. This is exactly what I feared would happen all the way back in July. Except for Angel and Awesome, this whole season is one giant wasted opportunity.

  19. Lucian says:

    Ernie – you are one articulate shnook.

  20. Big Kev says:

    Ernie,
    Between this and your earlier reply, you’ve blown some serious holes into my rationale for the progression into Season 3. Now I’ll have to go and watch again! But, as always – love your work.

  21. Lucian says:

    depends if you want the yiddish or english spelling.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Charles IRVING Bartowski ? I say he’s a Schnook.

      Oh, wait, I get it… Ernie Davis is a shnook. Gotcha.

      • Lucian says:

        Just to be clear – my reference to you being an articulate schnook / shnook was me saying that I agreed with your post 100%.

        I really lost confidence in TPTB after Pink Slip for precisely the reasons you suggest – their idea of really, really good and mine aren’t too similar. They mangled the characters and a lot of the good work they had done for two years. It doesn’t give me a lot of confidence for the balance of the original season.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        No, I got it. My comment was more about my waspiness. Charles Irving Bartowski might require a yiddish spelling for schnook, Ernie Davis, not so much. Lame attempt at borderline ethnic humor.

  22. Ernie Davis says:

    Kev, I’m always willing to entertain other ideas. They’ve picked a new direction and it’s causing a lot of angst. I still like the show, but I understand what a lot of people who are losing their faith in the writers are feeling, and as an honest critic I’m going to try to present that. As an honest critic I also have to admit that my sympathies lie in that direction. I just wish they’d stop taking away what I already enjoyed.

    That is my opinion and I’ll present it and defend it, vigorously, and hopefully with appropriate civility, but I will never dismiss someone else’s view without making a good faith argument. I’ve also written several pieces outlining, and almost defending what I see as the direction of TPTB. So, please, feel free to contend my arguments to your hearts content, or re-watch and be convinced. But lets keep it fun.

    It’s just a TV show. 😉

    • Big Kev says:

      Ernie….absolutely agree. Apologies if the tone of my post or reply felt like I was having a go in any way. That absolutely wasan’t my intention. I love the ideas that fly around on this blog and the way they make me think about what I’m watching.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Kev, no offense taken. I just want to be clear If I disagree with your conclusions, well then we have something interesting to discuss, it was more about saying please, let me know if I’ve missed something. I know I sometimes come on a bit strong in my advocacy, but I don’t want to be blind, and I don’t want people to think that I’m looking for a fight, though I admit my tone could occasionally be read as confrontational. It’s not what I want however, and I hope to do my best to make that clear.

  23. Mike B says:

    Ernie, couldn’t agree with you more. This 2 steps forward three steps back is growing old. I’m still waiting for the “really, really cool” thing to happen. The collective groan at Comic Con should have told JS all he needed to know.

    • herder says:

      Mike, I could be mistaken but I think the”really, really cool” thing was the train station at Prague and Chuck’s explanation at the vault. If I remember the comment from Comic-con it was that something emotional and traumatic would happen between Chuck and Sarah between the end of the Ring and the start of the new season insert groans here but that it would be great.

      If that was it, I think that it is safe to say that the majority opinion is that while the new set up is accepted as the writers choice of how they want to tell the story it is far from liked and final judgement is being witheld until the payoff. In other words if the payoff isn’t worth what fans feel they have been put through there will be a tremendous loss of faith in the writers. Once again making it the destination, not the journey.

      • herder says:

        I realize that it is not great to reply to your own post but I went back to the Comic-con stuff. The end of JS’s comment was that it would be “really really good”, in other words the really really good thing was refering to the emotional and traumatic thing that Chuck and Sarah would have gone through during the jump. That was obviously the train station scene in Prague, so no more waiting for it to happen.

      • atcdave says:

        Mike B and Herder; both excellent points. “Final judgement” could become a problem very quickly. I’m becoming less satisfied each week, and Nacho Sampler actually is crossing the line into ticking me off. I expect to be unhappy with Mask, and then a long lay-off till 3.08; where I expect things to get better. But its possible I’ll be too annoyed to care when it comes.

        A weekly show will always be about the “journey”, because they need to keep us entertained every week. If the journey becomes more of an ordeal than a pleasure, its not worth any destination. And as I’ve said many times before; Chuck and Sarah together should never be the destination anyway. Real relationships get better when the couple is together; that’s the journey I want to see; Chuck and Sarah trying to live a “normal” life together, while defeating the forces of evil on week at a time!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yep, they considered that really really good. I rest the case for my cynical take on the ability of TPTB to deliver.

        They thought that was really really good.

  24. Lucian says:

    I’m not seeing how they are going to pull off any Shaw angst without making Sarah look like a flake; she doesn’t love Chuck any more because he no longer is the innocent nerd she fell for, but Bryce 2.0 is exactly what she is looking for because he gets her coffee in the morning and his wife died. She is in serious need of counseling. Note to Chuck – don’t lose Hannah’s number!

    • joe says:

      I agree, Lucian. I can’t say “I told you so” yet (Awwww – I wouldn’t do that, would I???), but I always thought that Sarah would be forever a major flake if she had much serious interaction of a romantic kind with Shaw. And I also thought that they weren’t going to turn Sarah into a flake. Ipso-facto, no real geometric figure here, except possibly in the nightmares of the vocal board denizens.

      And in English, it wasn’t going to happen.

      TPTB can still make a liar out of me, but it looks less likely with every promo. Doesn’t it?

      • amyabn says:

        keep the faith, my friend. I really have been pondering the whole idea of Chuck and Sarah shifting behind the scenes to get to the bottom of what Shaw is really up to.
        If we do see something with Sarah and Shaw, I think Sarah is trying to undermine him. And as for Hannah, she knows, via Morgan, that he still isn’t over his ex at the Yogurt shop. All she has to do is see them together at some point to see it-heck, everyone else sees it. I think Hannah will be a test foisted upon Chuck by Shaw in the same way Beckman was testing Chuck in Prague to have him shoot the bad guy (even though it was a simulation).

      • atcdave says:

        I hope you’re right Amy, and that’s kind of the scenario I’ve been presenting in my “Evil Plan” posts; but I really don’t like the vibe we got in Nacho Sampler. Chuck and Sarah have never seemed further apart.

  25. Lucian says:

    Your confidence in what they are willing / not willing to do is much higher than mine, given what they did in Pink Slip. I won’t get started…..

    • joe says:

      (I think this was for me, Lucian.)

      Well, yes, I have some confidence. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hold my breath every week waiting to see what’ll happen with them. — and worry and fret… 😉

      Oh, what we do for love!

    • atcdave says:

      That is a big part of everyone’s concern, I think. They have done some really aweful things already, so just how much further will they go?

  26. Marvin says:

    My wife and I just finished a marathon session of watching every episode of Chuck, being late-comers to the party. I think that one of the things that people are missing about the show, especially the conflicted emotions of Sarah, is that she hates being a liar. A good part of her anger at Chuck is that his rejection of her in Prague resulted in her playing the sex-toy in “Pink Slip”. The whole romantic seduction role is miserable for her, and Chuck forced her into it…Hence throwing the phone in the pool when he called. It isn’t easy to get over that.

    In a sense, in Season 3 we see Chuck turning into Sarah. Of course she isn’t thrilled. There’s this cognitive disconnect in that Chuck and Sarah both want the same thing: A normal life. It’s just that it’s something that Sarah has never had, and has some romantic (and unrealistic) notions about. Chuck is Sarah’s ticket to freedom, and in season two was steering Chuck in that direction. She was his reward for returning to normalcy. Normalcy was her reward.

    Season 3 spoils Sarah’s path to normalcy because her ticket decided he wanted into her world. Ironically, this heroic figure is one she convinced him he could be. Just when she was willing to come in from the cold, he stepped out the door and joined her. Now Chuck wants it both ways: Normal Hero. Regular life in one hand, spy life in the other.

    How it will work out will be interesting. It’s something to look forward to. But I think something that needs to happen is for Agent Carmichael to get a real sense of what he’s getting into, and the repercussions of his desire to be a “real spy”. That will require spinning the series into some dark territory; Hannah’s death for instance. It can be done, but will be very difficult to maintain the lightness of the show, with the heavy nature of the subject.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      A valid point, and an area I chose not to address in an attempt to keep it civil and a family site. We’re all adults here and can disagree politely without the conversation degenerating as it did on the NBC boards when that topic was brought up.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I meant to add that I see your point that such an incident might essentially regress Sarah to even pre-season 1 Sarah as far as issues of trust and opening up to people, especially Chuck. I also agree that a lot of what we saw about Sarah in S2 was that she was less and less happy with the lying and deceit and saw Chuck as a ticket out of that life. But most of what TPTB have shown us this season is that Sarah has been put back in the role of Chuck’s handler, under orders to keep his emotions in check and train him. This makes any attempt to re-connect problematic as she has been the main source of his emotional turmoil in the past.

    • joe says:

      I’m in the middle of a mini-marathon of season 3 myself, Marvin. And I have to say I see exactly what you’re saying.

      Now Chuck wants it both ways: Normal Hero. Regular life in one hand, spy life in the other.

      Did you notice that Devon and Chuck discuss this directly in Angel de la Muerta?

      Devon: If having a doule life means having to give up half of your real life, it’s just not how I want to live, bro.

      Great catch.

    • Waverly says:

      Welcome. My wife and I finished our marathon catch-up just in time to see the last episode live, a week ago.

      I agree with your observations. However, I think it is possible for the show to gloss over a lot of the implicit philosophical issues in order to maintain a lighter tone. But I think we all agree that that isn’t exactly what’s happening.

      • atcdave says:

        I think if they’d played the darker aspects up more from the beginning they might be on better footing now. But the show played mostly for fun in S1 and S2. So now, many of us who have been around since the beginning have serious doubts about if this is even a show we want to remain involved with. I could easily see a scenario in the near future where Chuck could become one of those shows I have to watch late at night, after my wife has called it a day (much like Sanctuary and NCIS). If it goes any darker, with main character deaths or continued turmoil among the leads, its next step is deletion from the to do list entirely.

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