Masking The Bad News

And Making Bailey Cry

Generously, the fan reaction to vs. The Mask was negative. To be more objective about it, it seems Josh Schwartz should be looking for a safe house. Twitter was on fire last night.

But you can’t say we weren’t warned as early as last summer. He told us then exactly what was going to happen, he saw the reaction at Comic-Con, and despite all the billions of words and bytes and rationalizations and parsings we’ve seen in the intervening months, both sides in this event held true to their initial statements.

There were most definitely positives to last night’s episode. It was great to see Chuck being a world class spy, without reverting to being a schnook, articulate or otherwise. It was fantastic to see Sarah appreciate him professionally, saying “Well what do you say partner? Let’s go!” to emphasize the point. It’s the opposite of “Stay in the car, Chuck.” and is something to hang on to, if you need a lifesaver. Because Chuck is now a great spy, the adventure part of the story was as good as I’ve ever seen. I really enjoyed that Chuck and Sarah succeeding in getting the gold Mask where Shaw had failed, and coming to each other’s aid to accomplish that. “They really are good together.” was what Chuck said of Sarah and Bryce in Nemesis. He has no need to be envious of that any more. Also, those new viewers who aren’t so familiar with fountain-scene speeches, desperate motel hide-a-ways and MI-6 agents didn’t see anything super wrenching in tentative (but still passionate) embraces with the wrong person. The wife-o-meter read “Obviously, this won’t last long.”

Ah, that’s a big problem. It is going to last long. 20 more days, minimum. The good fortune of having The Three Words and Operation Awesome immediately follow The Pink Slip almost equals the bad fortune of having the Olympic break occur right after this episode.

Was this supposed to be a two hour episode? There was no Jeff and Lester, no Big Mike, no Devon and very little Casey (and if that was due to budgetary necessities, then I appreciate the dilemma. But JS is wrong to say, then, that viewers won’t notice the difference). The jump from Sarah being saddened by the changes in Chuck at the end of Nacho Sampler to being annoyed at Shaw (and over-reacting because of her doubts about Chuck?) to clearing a path to him was – um – quick.

Shaw: Maybe we should talk about how many dates we’ve been on. One? Two?… Five? After all, we are playing a couple tonight. So – what do you think?
Sarah: Does it really make a difference?

Shaw: Have we slept together yet?
Sarah: You have to be kidding me.

Chuck went from being doubly professional around Hannah to pursuit at a pace that drag racers appreciate. Well, we’ve seen that before. And that too is worrisome. “Haven’t we seen that before?” many are saying (loudly). Those who aren’t are saying “Hasn’t he learned anything?” It remains to be seen if they’re talking about Chuck or TPTB. Two hours might have given us something more understandable and sympathetic. Maybe it’s still on the cutting room floor, and maybe it’s 20 days away. Either one is going to require much more patience than many fans are going to be willing to give.

Oh – one last major negative. The way Chuck treated Morgan in this episode is a sin. I don’t know how apparent it was to others, but Morgan is hurting in a way I haven’t seen before, and that’s because he’s no longer a stooge. Morgan has quietly grown up, and his hurts are all the more real for it.

The negatives to last night’s episode extend to the fact that although TPTB knew exactly where our buttons were, they proceeded to push every one of them. If you think that it’s an either/or situation between arrogant and idiotic, I’m going with arrogant (and of course, your opinion can legitimately differ).

That’s the good news and the bad. Here’s the better news. When I re-watched the episode, I made a note that said “Hannah is believably forward.” She is so cute and perfect with Chuck, you just see they belong together, and ‘shippers hate that. Shaw and Sarah look good nearly as good together.  Believable.  Unbelievably believable.

Nothing about the spy life is real.  Sarah said that.  Everyone has an agenda.
Look again. Everything we saw is consistent with at least two explanations, and as trite as it may sound, the mind still sees what it wants to see.

The reactions of the dedicated fans is remarkably generous. Already I see people spontaneously saying “Oh, wait. It’s possible that…” and “There were some really good parts to last night’s episode. Like…” People are already starting to notice the little things that don’t add up (and please, please, please take the time to see the remarkable analyses (that’s plural!) in the The Weekly ‘Spoil Us O Canada’ Thread that precedes this) and asserting that there’s something going on here.

After the 7 month hiatus, 20 days isn’t too long to see if they’re right.  Is it?

– joe

About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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22 Responses to Masking The Bad News

  1. atcdave says:

    You’re kidding, 20 days is unbearable! I do agree with “arrogant.” The word I used a few minutes ago was hubris. As you said, we were warned; and JS was warned. He has truly made a mess of things. It would be bad enough if we had a week to get some explanations, but three weeks is tough to stomach. I do think many of us will be pleased when the resolution is forthcoming; I expect multiple layers of deception, with Chuck and Sarah together as the show’s new reality. But this episode was a breach of trust with more casual viewers. The show was not true to itself or its characters; and even if that is addressed in 3.08, Ernie calls it a week to week contract, and that was broken.

  2. herder says:

    I didn’t hate the episode, I just thought it was a dud, an OOC 15 minutes changed an ok episode into something worse. I think it is the result of someone thinking they are soooo clever in the writing room that they ignore what should be painfully obvious to them by now.

    Having said that I have seen a number of comments about some people calling for a boycott, I haven’t seen anyone actually advocate that, just commenting on others who apparantly are saying it ( I know a guy whose cousin heard…). In any event this is quite possibly the dumbest thing that could be thought of. I hate it, not only because it is a dumb idea all of itself but because it tends to marginalize valid critism by linking it to this dumb idea.

    I’m still looking forward to the March 1 episode and beyond, and I’ll have my Subway footlong to enjoy it with.

    One other thing that I haven’t seen posted is the sense of disbelief that I have that JS and CF seem to be so tone deaf about how people were likely to react to an episode like this. Really what will it take to get it through to them that their audience long ago tired of this plot device and that to foist it on them again is likely to make at least some people angry.

    • jason says:

      herder, agree, well put, another interesting thing about 3.7, is most fans knew it was going to be painful for the show, JS and CF should really take note that without any backlash, the show drew 2.2 based on the prospects of PLI’s mucking around in the story line, not the reality, the prospects. Not all story’s are the same, in this case, CS really makes the other subplots go, does anyone remember a smile in the cast on the whole show, other than about 1-3 seconds from CS when shaw got kicked out of the room on the mission? Sarah almost looked like she was being raped in the final scene for goodness sakes? Geez

      • SWnerd says:

        Yeah I’m actually going to be kind of interested to see the ratings for the next episode, based on how many people apparently skipped out last night just for what they feared may happen. And agree the last scene with Sarah and Shaw as well as the neck kissing seemed…uncomfortable. But maybe that was just because I was distressed.

      • atcdave says:

        One thing I thing JS and company don’t get; the show is billed as an action/comedy. Drama is sometimes thrown in there too, but I really think most people tuning in don’t want to be raked over the coals. This isn’t 24, or Gossip Girl. People watching want to laugh and have a good time. I’m not saying that’s everyone, but its enough of the core audience (like me and my wife, and most of our friends) that they really start loosing people when they get away from the fun. And splitting up Chuck and Sarah is never fun.

  3. Mike B says:

    I bit the bullet and just finished watching it again. Bad story telling is bad story telling. The last 10 minutes is just so contrived and forced it ruins the entire episode. They even sucked out the chemistry between Zach and Yvonne which is a major element of the show. When the 2 of them were talking at the end it felt like 2 people who sat at the same table at a wedding saying goodbye. I keep hearing that the payoff is worth it. I hope so because TPTB kept these 2 characters apart for so long I just hope the spark is still there when they are back together again what ever the staus of the relationship.

    • odysszeuss says:

      well, we definitly reached the bottem of the rollercoster.

      interisting: yvonne said in The whole Chuck and Sarah thing has been going on since the first episode. Do you ever worry about the relationship becoming stale or predictable?

      Y: So much happens in every episode that we have a lot to work with, between the spy life and the Buy More life and then the family life, there’s always something new to bounce off of. Especially this season—I mean, we’ve all seen what happened in the first couple of episodes and the whole Prague situation and everything. There’s going to be a few more surprises along the way like that. I certainly was very surprised when I read a couple of the scripts. I didn’t know it was going to go in that direction, or how things would unfold.

      => 3.07 = Prague.2 ???

      • JLR says:

        Of course it’ll be Prague2.0… C/S is mortally wounded, but still squirming. JS?CF will get their jollies wacking it in the head some more. All I ask is that they put C/S out of their misery already. Enough is enough; have them hook-up w/ outside people, and let’s get on w/ the spy & comedy stuff… Oh, and an actual reasonable spy plot would be nice too.

      • Zsjaer says:

        “I certainly was very surprised when I read a couple of the scripts. I didn’t know it was going to go in that direction, or how things would unfold.”

        Yeah Yvonne we could feel that in the screen. I don t blame you or the actors for this sad episode.

  4. Zsjaer says:

    I said here since the begin something wasn t working with this Season, that the Season is a failure. I was unfortunately right.
    My feelings were correct.

  5. Yeefiver says:

    Regarding the one big negative-how Chuck treated Morgan;
    I think Chuck was doing Morgan a big favor by having a relationship with Hannah. It stopped Morgan and Ellie from pursuing further their wanting to find out about Chuck’s erratic behavior. Imagine if Morgan had found out that Chuck was a spy. Morgan probably would end up in a CIA secret location somewhere, never to be seen again.
    I realize that someone else other than Devon will end up knowing that Chuck is a spy and when that happens, I want to find out how the writers handle it so that person does not disappear from Chuck world.
    One last thing. I take exception to the thought that Morgan has matured significantly. Yes, he is now the Asst. manager but that was due essentially to his mom and her relationship with Big Mike, not due to his work ethic. He needed Casey to control the Buy Morons. He had Hannah stalked so that he could try to manipulate her into liking him. He had his best friend stalked. Also, remember in season 2 he told Chuck that best friends don’t lie to each but lie for each other in “The Fat Lady”? Well, in “The Pink Slip” he lied to Chuck about flying through his cooking classes and lied about how the Buy More begged him to come back.
    To me, he still has a lot of growing up to do.

    • Ryan says:

      Not to spoil u, and this might just being completely incorrect but according to the promo after the season premiere it is going to be Morgan, if you play it slowing, when chuck goes into kung-fu mode there’s a little shot of a bad guy holding Morgan in what appears to be the same room chuck’s kicking ass in, technically, at least how I feel, it’s not a spoiler if you can see it on a promo

      • joe says:

        Hi, Ryan. Welcome to the blog.

        From what I’ve heard there’s still room for doubt about that (but I made a prediction last month that Morgan would be the one to find out). There’s always those new “Twilight Tranqs” that make you forget the last five minutes… 🙂

      • Ryan says:

        Touché didn`t even think of twilight tranqs

    • joe says:

      Good points, Yeefiver. But still, the Morgan we saw in Fat Lady was just starting to mature, I think. He was still the Morgan we saw in Crown Vic in the restaurant embarrassing Anna.

      But now, ever since he handled Lester and the Buy-Moran insurrection, he seems much more concerned with others and less with their feelings towards him. It’s a sure sign.

      It’s certainly true that he has more to go.

  6. Rick Holy says:

    The demo drop to 2.2 I’m going to be generous and attribute it to a “boost” for the CBS comedies from the promos during the SuperBowl.

    However, if we see a continual drop in CHUCK’s ratings, it’s because people are tuning out – and with good reason. You watch a show like CHUCK for enjoyment and for a good laugh or two. Unfortunately, a good portion of this season has been less than enjoyable.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that late Monday/early Tuesday a.m. I woke up with the flu – and all the gross things that go along with it. Since my BRAIN couldn’t unload what I had just seen on CHUCK, my BODY decided it would try to “up-CHUCK” it. Sorry for the crude analogy, but after two days in bed, I couldn’t resist.

    I’m starting to feel better. I hope I can say the same about the show in future episodes.

    • atcdave says:

      I know many fans liked Nacho Sampler, but none of my friends were enthused. It was a downer episode, so I think many may have taken a pass on Mask. Given Mask was a major downer, it will be interesting to see what happens after the Olympics.

      • JLR says:

        I liked Nacho b/c it gave Chuck character growth that in my opinion was needed…. Then again, I’m one of those viewers who doesn’t like Chuck (the character) when he’s all whiny & needy. Nacho, again, IMO, was done well…and for the most part, believably. What happened at the end of the Mask, however….that was just a train-wreck (again, IMO). I’ve re-watched it 3 times now, and I still can’t wrapp my head around the ending. It came from NOWHERE.. Oh, and I’m not seeing what some people see (those claiming this is some sort of conySarah)..

    • Yeefiver says:

      To Rick Holy
      Hope you’re feeling better today compared to yesterday. The flu can knock a person for a loop sometimes. But the reason I’m writing to you specifically is I remember reading something you wrote last year about having some confusion between how “The Colonel” ended and how “The Ring” started in regards to Chuck and Sarah. I don’t know if you are still troubled by it or not, but if you will allow me, let me give you my take on what happened and hopefully it will help to give you some peace of mind in the matter.
      When Sarah told Chuck it was real, they were not talking about their relationship. They were talking about the Intersect no longer being in Chuck.
      I believe Chuck and Sarah had no time to be alone before, during and after the rehearsal dinner to talk about their relationship moving forward. Remember, Casey was doing the driving.
      Therefore, when Sarah took the assignment to lead the new Intersect project with Bryce, it was done without her knowing anything thing more about Chuck’s feelings than Chuck wanting to get a champagne buzz and some slow dancing with her at the reception.
      Chuck asked Sarah to go with him only after he received his back pay from the govt. Of couse, by that time she had already accepted the new assignment.
      I hope that will help to clear things up if you are still are a little confused about it.

      • Rick Holy says:

        I seem to remember a scene earlier in the season – perhaps in the courtyard – where Chuck said to Sarah that when he got this “thing” out of his head he was going to live the life he wanted to live with the woman he loved. Sarah’s reaction was a smile of sorts. So I think there’s MORE to factor in than just simply that the intersect was removed from his head. Sarah would have had to remember that courtyard exchange. After all, I do believe two of their most meaningful/powerful conversations took place in the courtyard. The one where he said she’s everything he ever thought he wanted – but that he was a normal guy seeking a normal life and “she” would never be “normal,” and that’s why he had to break up with her. Then we have the, “when I get this thing out of my head I’m going to live my life with the girl I love.”

        I can’t believe that Sarah would have forgotten either of those. Your very much appreciated by me explanation above, seems to have left out the second one – at least in Sarah’s mind.

        But regardless, those are the kind of “moments” that S3 sorely lacks and desparately needs. That’s one of the reasons I – and it appears many others – find it so much less enjoyable than S2 & S1.

        Thanks again, for thinking of me. You’ve got a great memory, that’s for sure!!

        Let’s just hope this “mess” of a S3 (as Chuck and Sarah referred to things between them earlier on in the season) can get straightened out so that we can have a little more “fun” with what remains of S3 and a little less angst and consternation.

  7. Yeefiver says:

    To Rick Holy;
    Sorry to make this comment into more of a personal letter to you Rick but I am a relative newcomer to blogging?
    I do remember the other 2 conversations that Chuck and Sarah had in the courtyard. The first was at the end of “The Break Up” and the second was at the end of “The Lethal Weapon”.
    I think it was very clear to Sarah that Chuck’s main purpose in life at the end of “The Lethal Weapon” was to remove the Intersect so that he could return to a normal life. It would have made both Chuck’s and Sarah’s lives easier if Chuck had just come out and said “live with you or be with you” instead of “the girl that I love”.
    Because he didn’t, those scenes at the motel and when they were locked up in castle did not clarify to Sarah if those were just acts of pent up passion/lust or a sign from Chuck that he was ready to have a real long term relationship with her. (We all know how she can bury her feelings deep within her-sometimes to her own detriment)
    I felt that at the church when Sarah told Chuck about her new mission, Chuck just zoned her out and walked away the minute she mentioned Bryce. I think it was possible if Chuck had not walked away like a Zombie that she might have told Chuck she was going to decline her new assignment and agree to go away with him. After all, at the beach she did end up telling Bryce she was not going to Zurich with him.
    Of course, I think both Chuck and Sarah need to be totally honest with each other and have that much needed talk between the two of them regarding how they truly feel about each other as well as some other things and I believe they ultimately will.
    But I do also believe that this is not the right time to have it because to have their much needed talk, would take up at least one whole episode, maybe two. I do see a lot of difficulties for the two of them to overcome before they can ride off into the sunset together.
    I think one of the nice things about how the series has been written is that it allows for Chuck-o-philes to have different viewpoints regarding a particular episodes or scenes or character(s) or have those infamous “what did they mean when they said or did that. I think things like that help to stimulate a person’s mind-which is a good thing.
    I know you are probably not going to like this last thought I want to leave you with. I just hope it does not make your flu worse-but the only type of person that Chuck should be jealous of is a civilian like himself. Remember how did Sarah described Chuck to Roan Montgomery (one of the few times she expressed how she felt about Chuck)-sweet and caring and ….
    I believe Sarah really wants to leave the spy world, so she would just gravitate to a guy who is like what Chuck used to be. I wonder if the writers have something like that for a future PLI?
    Well, hope you get well soon. Enjoyed conversing with you, I assume you are still a fellow Chuck-o-phile?

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Mask (3.07) | Chuck This

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