Half Time

Things You Need To Know, Or May Have Missed

Chuckaddict asks a great question in comments. I hope you don’t mind that I quote it here:

Could we get a thread to try and analyse the main story of season 3? I think we’re also beating a dead horse with the C/S discussions. It is what it is and it looks like we all pretty much agree that it’s almost over. I’m beginning to think the writers have presented the PLI’s as a red herring, a distraction to keep viewers from anticipating the upcoming twist.

We need to sit back and figure out where we are. At least, I feel I do. We’ve been riding this train for six week and eight episodes, trying to peer ahead, wondering what’s coming next, guessing (mostly wrongly) and hoping to see something that resembles – happiness.  Much as I’ve tried, I don’t see that. Let’s look backwards a bit, to see where we’ve been. Maybe then we can figure out where we’re going.


Chuck deliberately took a bite from the Intersect apple at the end of Season 2. It gave him knowledge (plenty of it), but he lost his innocence and got himself ejected from – everywhere. His home life with Ellie, the Buy More, Castle, Sarah’s heart – all gone. M. Scott Peck once wrote that it’s rather like being born. You leave a nice, warm, comfy spot for a cold, harsh, empty place and no matter what you do, you can’t go back.

But we, none of us, make this trip alone. Chuck’s obvious life-partner, Sarah, is as lost as he is, for she got ejected too. In fact, she was the impetus. There was this real world out there for her, you see, and she wanted it. But Chuck and Sarah were at odds about which way to go next. He wanted to go in the direction that she had just come from, and she wanted to go in the opposite direction. So they each tried their own ways, at first.

Chuck’s journey went nowhere. Dead stop. Sarah’s led her around in circles. Within six months, Chuck is a bum, and Sarah – well, she feels Gilles might just as well have left the money on the night stand. Pink Slip and The Three Words let us watch them make two decisions: They will make the journey together, and for the time being, they will go in the direction Chuck wants to go.

It’s not a bad choice, initially. Chuck is improving as a spy, gaining skills and confidence rapidly. Every day is an improvement, and pretty soon we see him doing well, expertly even, where before he would have done poorly (or at least, come in second). He saves Awesome, a South American dictator and completes a couple of assignments. Not bad. Then Chuck starts to have difficulties. First, there is a asset/mark who reminds Chuck of who he was, Manoosh. When he looks at him, Chuck sees himself. He cares and sympathises, but ultimately Chuck burns him. It was the right thing to do, and it was inevitable. Chuck also knows he did what Sarah could not do to him. What happened to Manoosh is, to Chuck, a personal failure of the worst sort.

And then there is Hannah, the innocent, sweet girl. A year ago Chuck would have said (again) “You’re everything I thought I ever wanted.” But he doesn’t say that this time, because he knows better. What Chuck does tell her is that he *can’t* explain, and Hannah explains it to him. He’s a liar (world class) and not a nice guy. For all the truths I’ve been mulling over for weeks and months in these pages, that’s the biggest. You don’t like Chuck any more? You have no reason to. He’s actually been pretty despicable, for a nice guy.

Hannah’s not Chuck’s biggest victim, just the most innocent. Sarah tells him something we all knew was wrong in Pink Slip; that he can’t hurt her. Oh yes he can. And by The Fake Name Chuck leaves her unconscious on the floor of the bar where she’s come to rescue him. All in the name of the mission, of course. Right.

But don’t think she’s not complicit. Sarah’s no innocent. She’s not only acquiesced to helping Chuck become a spy, Sarah’s done everything she could think of to help him on his way. That includes getting out of the way of his personal life, even using her skills with a knife to help him make a romantic dinner for Hannah. Some call it helping. Others call it enabling. Of course Sarah’s paying a big price. Enablers have to live with the damage done by the person who’s been enabled. She sees Chuck disappearing into his morass, and she is more lost than he is. It’s going to be hard for Chuck when he realizes this isn’t where Sarah wanted to go in the first place. Sarah does not like anything about what she sees, and even claims to be forgetting that anything can be real, even herself.

You remember Sarah Walker, don’t you?

Chuck: What am I saying? You’re Sarah Walker. You can do anything.

Not lately. The closest we’ve come to seeing that girl recently was when she tossed a table knife into a wedge of cheese.

None of this, you may have noticed, has anything to do with the ‘shippers favorite topic, The Romance ™. Nothing at all. Don’t know about you, but I’ve been blinded a bit to most of what’s going on because I wanted to see some indication that they were getting closer and about to find some way to get on with their life together. It’s been pretty discouraging to know that’s not going to happen while they are lost in the dessert and getting deeper into it. But here’s a sign post. At the end of The Fake Name we know that Chuck has decided to turn himself around.

We could speculate for days that Chuck is ready to try it Sarah’s way now. Wouldn’t we all love to see them drop this, get married and live in that suburban cul-du-sac where Sarah seemed so happy. Wouldn’t we all like to think that they’d be successful and happy together in that world now that we know they’re not in the spy world? No, they don’t have to go that far, just back to the middle. Wouldn’t we all love to see Chuck flash just enough to punch anyone who stood in their way right in the nose. Like Daniel Shaw.

Oh yeah, Daniel Shaw. I haven’t mentioned that 800 lb. gorilla, have I? It’s hard to recognize when Chuck and Sarah have been so adamant about making their own wrong-headed decisions; we suspect mightily that maybe, just maybe they have not been in charge of their own destinies. We suspect and even hope that there is a master manipulator in Daniel Shaw who is so subtle that it’s hard to see the strings he’s pulling.

Maybe this is so. Dave has done a masterful job at describing this enigma and his plans. But when all is said and done, what we know that is true about the character can be counted on the digits of one hand, and much of that is self-contradictory.

Shaw is cool, fearless and self-sacrificing, shooting himself and tempting death to show Chuck that he has his best interests at heart and can make him a spy. He shows much more confidence in Chuck’s abilities than Casey or Sarah ever have, sending him out on a solo mission while they make him stay in the car.  Shaw’s a super-spy in the mould of Bryce and Cole who never fails at his job. He’s succeeded in making Chuck a spy.

Shaw also stupidly sends a rookie with unreliable skills out alone beyond protection, just to prove a point. He pushes Chuck beyond the breaking point, and when Chuck doesn’t break, manipulates a vulnerable Sarah away from him. Maybe. Shaw goes completely out of control, not once, but twice when Sarah is watching, attacking a restrained Raif and strangling Chuck. He’s broken The Intersect. Casey’s assessment? He’s a moron. Our assessment? He’s evil. And Chuck’s assessment?

And what about Sarah’s assessment?

It seems to early to start speculating on The Beard, the next episode. But we know from the released promo that Chuck is indeed about to make his assessment. We hear Sarah say “You can talk to us.” and see him make a face at the idea. I’ve formed an early opinion on who “us” is, and why Chuck demurs, but these promos have been extremely misleading. Still, my guess is that Chuck’s reaction is not about refusing to talk to Sarah. It is a good thing.

So to Chuckaddict’s comment, I know what you mean, and I understand what you are talking about. But somehow, the way I’m looking at the course of events in season 3, the term PLI (and the way we understand it) just doesn’t seem to accurately reflect the proper place of Hannah and Shaw in the story any longer. They’re not that important to Chuck and Sarah eventually coming together as a couple. And seriously, this part of the story has not been about Chuck and Sarah as a couple, coming together or not. As Ernie has noted, that was me and my desires. It’s been about Chuck becoming who he was meant to be, and about Sarah being who she is. For that, Shaw and Hannah are all-important.

We’re not quite there yet. But it feels very much like we’re starting the next part of the story.

– joe

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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.
This entry was posted in Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations, Season 3. Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to Half Time

  1. Jason says:

    halftime score Sham 28 – chuck 7, I sure hope the last 5 episodes could be titled ‘revenge of the intersect’

    • John says:

      more like Sham 56 – Chuck 0

      • atcdave says:

        Yes, its rapidly approaching the point where I fire up Civilization so I have something interesting to do while the clock runs out. Just a few hints we’ll see an awesome come-back that keep me watching!

  2. AngelTwo says:

    Joe: I think lizjames post had it right: TPTB are running all of the changes–spy, romantic, mythology–through Shaw. That’s why it is so confusing. For whatever reason, the idiotic showrunners made this season about Shaw instead of the stars of their show. At the end of the year, it will be Charles in Charge and Chuck and Sarah will be together, but we’ll have to suffer through all this silly Shaw stuff to make it happen. Now that his emotional interaction is mostly done (although I think everyone is wrong and it’ll survive in some form until e11), it’ll be Shaw’s spy stuff that goes back into the forefront.

    • John says:

      actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if S/S lasts until 3.12 (with Chuck saving Shaw).

      • AngelTwo says:

        Could be, but that would then push it into 13 and the double meaning of “the other guy” isn’t just Chuck old v. new, it’s Chuck v. Shaw for Sarah. That’s ugly, frankly.

        But it certainly proves something else: There is VERY LITTLE really compelling about the spy story this year. As thin as the Fulcrum thing was, this Ring thing seems even tinnier. Beard better really start amping things up.

        I actually think that’s why the C/S angst is even higher this year. The rest of the story has been even crappier than the romantic angst has…

  3. OldDarth says:

    Me neither John. In fact, I take it as a given.

  4. Chuckaddict says:

    Thank you for the thread.

    “Here’s a few things you should know, or maybe just forgot.” It’s time to make a diagram on the back of our season 3 Tron poster.

    Bryce stole the original Intersect from Fulcrum, who stole it from the CIA. How did he get involved to begin with? It appears the Intersect program is the “Omaha project” we were presented with a couple of times. Bryce prevented Chuck from being interviewed for the “Omaha project” at Stanford in vs. the Alma Mater. Did Bryce take Chuck’s place? I believe Chuck saw a folder with the name “Omaha project” on it while searching for Orion in season 2. I haven’t been able to locate the episode yet. It’s not in vs. the Undercover Lover. Sarah was Bryce’s partner before he went “rogue”. Bryce’s code phrase to Sarah in vs. the Nemesis was “we’ll always have Omaha”. What does Sarah (and Casey for that matter) know about the Intersect?

    How and why did Fulcrum blow up the CIA’s new Intersect in vs. the First Date (killing Graham)? Was that in itself the point? If they could insert a virus that would destroy the program, why didn’t they just steal it? Or did they and that is how Roark got his project started? He couldn’t finish it, he needed Orion for that. It would make sense that he couldn’t start the project either.

    In vs. the Ring, Orion asked Bryce about changes made to his original design for v2.0. Bryce’s response was “you don’t want to know”. So there is an aspect of the Intersect beyond the coordination of the government’s secret information in Chuck’s flashes. I’ll put money on the fact that it goes beyond the physical skills Chuck’s been given so far this season.

    The Ring broke into the Intersect chamber just after Chuck was downloaded with v2.0. Fulcrum was controlled by the Ring, meaning The Ring (or an organization higher) was ultimately after the Intersect.

    At the end of vs. the 3 words Beckman says, “We can’t keep this a secret anymore. It’s too dangerous. We need to tell them, they need to be prepared. Shaw, please.” No developments here yet.

    Team B has acquired a case containing 4 disks with intel on the Ring that we know nothing about yet. “With these we might stand a chance” is Shaw’s reaction. We all seem to agree that he’s a psychopath, but let’s take him for his word. Stand a chance against what? Are the disks another version of the Intersect? We know Fulcrum had double agents within the CIA. Did the Ring originally develop the Intersect only to have it stolen by the CIA? We know the Ring hired Manoosh to develop a simpler version of the Intersect (sunglasses) in vs. the Nacho Sampler.

    Bryce was the agent the CIA intended to give v2.0 to. Sarah was put in charge of the entire project. That’s been taken away and given to Shaw.

    We know the Ring has tried to kill Shaw twice this season. Devon and Raif(?) were both tasked with killing him. Did he defect and now the Ring is trying to eliminate him? He’s given no information yet to team B (or at least us) about the Ring.

    It’s been suggested on other threads that the Intersect is intended to 2 agents, a team. In vs. the Colonel, there were 2 Fulcrum agents in each car at the drive in suggesting the Intersect is intended for a team. Was Shaw intended to be the original Intersect agent? Is it the CIA’s intent to have a couple as the Intersect team? That could mean his wife was going to be his partner agent and the Ring killed her in their battle to obtain it from the CIA. Bryce would have known who Shaw is then. Sarah had stated that she’s never heard of him.

    In vs. First Class, Shaw accused Sarah of following Chuck to Lisbon. We’d never been told that Chuck had been in Lisbon. Where were they going to run to in vs. the Pink Slip? There’s a 7 month time gap that we know very little about. Was Sarah bringing Chuck in to be her partner agent? Sarah and Casey were about to go to Lisbon in vs. the Pink Slip when Chuck returned to Castle, to go after a Ring splinter group.

    At the beginning of vs. First Class, Casey told Chuck that Shaw was living in Castle. Why was Shaw in the hotel room in vs. the Fake Name? Chuck was surprised to see him there. How did Sarah know how to find him? Shaw was surprised to see her there.

    Does Shaw feel he is the rightful recipient of the Intersect? Is he trying to recruit Sarah to be his Intersect partner agent? Or is the CIA pushing this? She is the CIA’s best agent, that’s why she was sent to retrieve the Intersect in the pilot episode. Does she already know this and is playing him into doing something stupid?

    Is Shaw pushing Chuck so hard so that he will either quit or be killed? Thus paving the way for him (and Sarah?) to be given the next Intersect?

    Why does everyone know Bryce’s real name (and call him by it), while no one knows Sarah’s real name? Sarah called Bryce by his real name, but he called her Sarah. I still don’t think Sam is her real name, but that doesn’t really matter. The episode tittles often are double entendres.

    I think Sarah was lying to Shaw in vs. First Class about being in Lisbon to scatter Bryce’s ashes. Shaw told her he believed her story. I think she’s been lying to him ever since.

    We’ve never been told what the Ring’s intention for the Intersect is. We know the Ring hired Fulcrum (Roark) to build an army of Intersect agents. For what purpose?

    The benefit of an Intersect agent for the “good guys” is obvious, to stop the bad guys. What are the bad guys planning to do with it?

    We know very little about the Intersect itself and how it works. I’ve read an interview with Zach Levi where he states that this season we will learn more about how the Intersect actually works. It looks like we’ll begin to find out with Chuck’s inability to flash. I’ll put more money on the fact that Sarah is intimately involved in its function and we haven’t seen its full capabilities yet.

    By the way, Bryce was still in the chamber during the v2.0 download. He’d been shot and was on the floor slumped against the wall. He was dragged out by someone just before Chuck started doing Kung-Fu. He’s not definitively dead. He could also be an Intersect agent if still alive. Even though Matt Bomer has a new show, I’ve read in an interview that he’d be open to recurring on Chuck again…

    I think there is going to be whiplash coming Monday night. That’s what a good twist is designed to do. Some of these observations are probably plot holes, but I think with the information we’ve been given so far, we can at least avoid having to wear a neck brace to work on Tuesday.

    I’m in the process of re-watching each of this seasons episodes looking for clues about the direction of the Ring plot line. If you can remove yourself from the PLI distractions (I agree, it’s hard), these episodes are pretty good. My conclusion is that the PLI’s are exactly that, distractions to provide for a more surprising twist. The production team was forced by the network to make budget cuts and plot changes to stay alive. I know that they were forced to let writers go. I think everyone on that set wants to keep their job though. I don’t think they’re toying with the fan base, I think they’re doing their best with what they’ve been given by the network. Even though I’m not happy with all of this season’s plot developments, this is still hands-down the best show on TV.

    Please add anything and everything else.

    • AngelTwo says:

      Actually, Shaw didn’t say he believed Sarah’s story. He said he believed “every word.” Which, if the storytellers know what they are doing, implies that he believed the facts she told him, but didn’t think it was the whole truth.

      But as I said above, the spy story has been even shakier than the romance this year, so who know what is true.

    • AngelTwo says:

      By the way, Chuckaddict, your mostly brilliant recitation of the spy “facts” shows you how awful this season has been. It’s almost guaranteed that about 80 percent of this stuff will never be addressed because it’s just flotsam thrown in there by TPTB. Just like RIOS, the changes to Intersect 2.0that Orion didn’t recognize and tons of other things in season 2.

      Oh, and why did Bryce have a device to destroy Intersect 2.0 in his pocket? He told Chuck to destroy Intersect 2.0 because it was “too powerful.” Well, gee, wasn’t he about to get this “too powerful” thing stuck in his head?

      So maybe Intersect 2.0 WAS meant for two people and when Sarah decided to stay behind it was Bryce’s intention to destroy it…

      But, again, these are just several of a zillion threads these show runners will probably never clean up, just like all of the romantic threads.

    • Waverly says:

      “Omaha” is mentioned in these episodes: Alma Mater, Nemesis (with a review in Crown Vic), and Suburbs.

      The latter quote was: “That bug was stolen from a CIA substation in Omaha”.

      FYI, I’m in the process of creating and proofing scripts for all of the episodes. But recording all of the visuals will be a lot more challenging.

    • joe says:

      Wow! You’ve obviously paid a great deal of attention to the details, Chuckaddict. More than I.

      But what you’ve got here is an amazing list of questions. Some are critically important, and I really, really hope we get answers to them.

      Maybe we shouldn’t chase so many ghosts, though. The deep analysis is fun, but lately I’ve been thinking that there are too many open possibilities for me, especially with Shaw. I have to let the story speak for itself.

      • Chuckaddict says:

        That’s why I penned myself Chuckaddict. My subconscious seems to be always thinking about the show. I finally decided I needed to write these things down. I’m very interested in everyone’s take. I don’t think all of these things will be addressed even during the remainder of the series. That’s what any TV show does. There are always loose storylines. I think it just shows how much freedom of direction there is for the plot. Plese let me know if you think these observations are bunk or if you agree.

        I’m not ready to throw in the towel. There’s too much potential. I will be supremely dissapointed and will question the ability of television as an entertainment medium if the show doesn’t deliver something “awesome”. I think they will.

      • Jason says:

        addict – from the moment i saw they were disks, I thought they were another intersect – I also sort of thought shaw was going to intersect or try to at least, maybe even in ep 10. but from the spoilers, it does not seem like that will be the case? whatever happens, it will be pretty awesome, and will tie together, in my opinion, from 3.1 on, all will make sense in a spy notion. I do not hold out as much hope for OOC actions by sarah in creating the Sham, but that would be icing on the cake if those eventually make sense too

      • joe says:

        Okay. Two immediate thoughts.
        Bryce is dead.
        You have good questions about the Ring, but they’re premature. Clearly, they’re meant to be a mystery. My guess is that we won’t know more than the name until the very end of the season, with a cliff hanger being only about them. THAT’S when we can start to ask some interesting questions.

        I lied. Three thoughts.
        Bryce is his name because he had an identity before he was recruited Stanford, and he didn’t care to hide it. Sarah did not. She had had several names by the time Grant found her, and the fact that she wanted no one to know the real her was her choice. Her reaction to being known by Heather Chandler was excessive, to say the least. That’s Sarah’s thing, not Bryce’s. I’m sure we’ll get more about that.

      • Merve says:

        Joe, I think that the reason Sarah had such an excessive reaction to being known by Heather Chandler isn’t just that a part of her past was being revisited. Jenny Burton was an alias from a part of her life of which she was ashamed. Because Sarah/Sam’s life is a patchwork of aliases, she can suppress those of which she isn’t proud. I think that that’s part of the reason why she revealed her real name; she’s ashamed of Sarah Walker right now.

      • joe says:

        Yeah. I agree with that too, Merve. But what I’m thinking about is her reaction to Beckman not letting her recuse herself. It’s something like “But that’s really me!” She seems to be reacting vehemently to the exposure of her real self, not to the revisiting of a part of her life.

        But the fact that it was an embarrassing time for her is clearly a part of it too. We see that with Chuck’s final speech to her at the end. “Your big secret is that you were a normal teenager.”

    • Merve says:

      I seem to recall that one of the writers confirmed via Twitter that Sarah was telling the truth about Lisbon.

      • Paul says:

        Sarah may have been telling the truth, but not the whole truth. The timing of it could also indicate that she was doing the recon work for her and Chuck’s ‘escape’. Again, how MUCH Shaw knows is still up in the air. Does he know about Prague? Does he know how deeply involved Chuck and Sarah were?

    • Jason says:

      anyone else think the intersect will be able to tap into satellite surveillance, maybe arm nuclear weapons, order the fleet, dial cell phone numbers, maybe override building secruity, etc, etc,

      would it not be a great line, shaw asks who opened that door, chuck says I did, noone even noticed he flashed???

      also, that is why the ring wants chuck, and why the general said we have to protect the world from chuck, also that is the secret shaw and the general are keeping

      • weaselone says:

        Not sure the Intersect comes with WiFi. Now if the wrist computer ever emerges from wherever it disappeared to that combined with the Intersect would give Chuck those abilities.

  5. Waverly says:

    That’s a great summary of the series so far that we haven’t paid enough attention to.

    Perhaps this is the proper thread for talking about what Chuck’s life ought to be like, once he has found a stable situation.

    • joe says:

      Exactly. I was paying attention to Chuck & Sarah as a couple almost exclusively. You’d think that after watching each episode multiple times I would have noticed the other things going on!

      People have wondered why OldDarth said this is his favorite season. I start to understand. When I went back to S1 and S2, yeah, the characters were fun and there an incredible number of moments that can only be described as heartwarming. They were great.

      And after I guestimate nearly a dozen viewings of each episode, yeah, I’m ready for the next phase. I’m as anxious as anybody for Chuck & Sarah to be happy together, but after those last two years (and countless hours) the last 6 hrs of episodes (at 42 minutes each) is not much. The characters, though, have the potential to be much more than they were. Look how far they’ve come! No, not “Chuck&Sarah”, but Chuck and Sarah. Especially Chuck.

      Sarah in a ninja suit? Casey chasing down a shoplifter? Morgan guilty of “lewd use of a musical montage?” Chuck running across the roof top in his underwear? Funny stuff. Cartoonish, relatively speaking.

      I don’t think I’m stating it well, but even now, S3 has show me a depth that wasn’t there at all in S1, and only appeared at the end of S2.

      • Paul says:

        Joe, while I agree with you about enjoying the depth and breadth of this season, some folks just don’t want to go that deep. Or only want to view the show through one filter. BTW, great post. It sums up what I’ve been feeling about this season all along.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, I know. Sadly, TV is a mass-medium, and not the “Joe Buckley Entertainment and Happiness Inducer”.

        Yet it seems that someone up there in Chuck‘s front office keeps saying “Hey, what if we do this? I think Joe will like it.”

        More times than not, they’ve been right.

      • Lucian says:

        I respectfully disagree that there is more depth and breadth to the characters (or the story)this season. What they have done, basically, is amplified their most annoying / dysfunctional character traits. That is the definition of melodrama. As Lizjames pointed out, Chuck learned from Lou (we thought) that attempting to have a spy life and a real relationship with a non-spy was really difficult. Hannah’s sermon to Chuck on being a world-class liar wasn’t a whole lot different than Lou’s speech. Chuck should have learned this lesson two years ago.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Lucian, for exactly those reasons. Repeating and exagerating my least favorite elements. It not only strikes me as poor entertainment, I end up liking the characters a lot less too.

      • Lucian says:

        Given what Chuck overheard Sarah say to Shaw during Fake Name, why would he not, at this point, ask Sarah if she was willing to talk about her concerns regarding what is happening to him? Seems to me like the adult thing to do. He could begin the conversation with,

        “Sarah, as you know, since I was posing as an assassin, I overheard your conversation with Shaw that you are concerned….. Can we talk about that?”

        There is only so much disbelief I can willingly suspend. They have pushed it way too far, IMO, if they want me to care about the characters.

      • Jason says:

        I’m not counting on a logical reason for 3.7/3.8’s sham, but I would consider it a bonus if I get one in 3.9 thru 3.13.

        one thing about sam, she is very chuck S1/S2 like falling in love with the ‘perfect looking partner’ and being very smitten by him (her in chuck’s case) – I think she wanted to be sam-like in 3.1 when she wanted to run with chuck, the reveal for ‘sam’, might be chuck loves SARAH WALKER, and sam wants to be SARAH and it is ok to be SARAH, and that spy chuck complete with family and friends is exactly what she always wanted (which is why she always had an eye for cole, bryce, and even shaw, but never quite fell for them) – with chuck, she gets it all – she may get there as early as late ep 3.9, just like chuck got there late ep 3.8

      • weaselone says:

        The only objection I can think Chuck would have of directly confronting Sarah about what she said would be that at this point the conversation would probably find it’s way back to Shaw. I can see where Chuck might have difficulty discussing his feelings and emotional state with an ex who figures fairly centrally in all of it when it’s quite likely whatever he shares will make it back to his romantic rival and boss.

      • Lucian says:

        Weaselone – I guess I am thinking Chuck still trusts Sarah enough that he would think a personal conversation is a possibility (given that she was having a personal conversation about Chuck; it was not about his performance as a spy).

        Of course, the spoiler shows that Sarah will eliminate this possibility with her “you can talk to us” comment.

        If it were the woman I loved, I think I would try to have that conversation one on one (but that’s just me).

      • JC says:

        I don’t think Chuck quite trusts her as much as did before. Add in that she seems to following Shaw about the benching without any argument. I can see Chuck not wanting to talk to her at all at the moment.

        Plus how much screen time will they even share in 3.09. Maybe 15 minutes total at the beginning and at the end.

      • Lucian says:

        Yes, I forgot about the devastation caused in Prague (my bad).

  6. Viridis says:

    Great recap. I’d just like to add that the crossed paths thing started at the beginning of The Ring, when Chuck wanted to go on vacation with Sarah, but Sarah said that she’s going on missions with Bryce.

    During that episode, Chuck came to terms with him not being the superspy that he imagined Sarah wants, and Sarah came to terms with staying behind in the real world with Chuck. Except at Bryce’s death, Chuck went ahead with the Intersect 2.0, trying to become the spy, while Sarah stayed in that “real world” state, leading to the Prague incident.

    Of course, if Sarah can ever actually confess her emotions to people not Shaw, and Chuck can ever learn to read between her words, …

  7. BeCoolBoy says:

    Forgive me for being wary on my first post here, but Ali Adler just tweeted this:

    I’ll hold the title but its wr by @joshschwartz76 and Chris Fedak! dir by R D mcneil RT @Anjosie: Title/writer/director for #chuck 3.19?
    about 4 hours ago via UberTwitter

    She won’t give the title and the episode is written by the show’s creators.

    Stop speculating, folks, because this means they are going to blow up the show. AGAIN! And that means another chance to mess with the shippers and infuriate anyone who thinks they are taking the spy part of the show seriously.

    I just wish I’d found this blog sooner. Chuck hasn’t felt much like Chuck this year and if they get a season 4, maybe they’ll just change the name, too…

    • joe says:

      Welcome, BeCoolBoy. You’ll find kindred spirits here (even if I’m not exactly one of them).

      You may be right about JS & CF “blowing up” the show. The creators often seem to write a finale (season or series). Chase always “did” the finales for The Sopranos, and Burt Medcalf did the M*A*S*H finale (it’s said that everyone wrote parts, though). I’d sorta be surprised if Schwartz & Fedak didn’t.

      I don’t think that guarantees it’ll be a blow-up, though.

      • herder says:

        Well that is really not speculation, in Sepinwall’s interview with JS and CF they said “The end of this season is going to be as revolutionary to the concept of the show, if not more so, than last year was”.

        So they are going to blow the show up again. The speculation part is how they are going to do this “revolutionary thing” and is it about the mythology or the relationship.

  8. JLR says:

    Wow, you guys are just…..AWESOME for compiling all of this. But yeah, I agree w/ AngelTwo/Liz WRT the Shaw character. I’m really torn on a certain level, tbh. Before the season, I wanted a lot of what has actually transpired; I kinda feel guilty about complaining. I wanted to see character development, and I wanted to see a little bit of darkness so the show wouldn’t seem so cartoonish all the time. BUT, I wanted it to retain it’s core feel-good nature. I know, that sounds contradictory, but I felt it was possible…until TPTB decided to continue w/ the PLI angle. The die was cast from that point.

    Anyways, I’ve been saying for a while now that I enjoy reading most of the spec’s. I know how much heart & soul is put into them. But I still maintain the vast majority of plot holes we’ve seen have disappeared into the ether, never to be addressed again. The show could get away w/ it when the characters were likable, but now, more people are zeroing-in on those holes. TPTB have given us nothing else to really hang our hats on, have they? Regardless, I continue to watch (not while it airs, but I do watch each ep.). I vowed to myself I’d view the original 13 ep. order before the season began, even though I had the feeling I wouldn’t enjoy most of it. Well, I’m gonna stick to my vow, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be all for me after that. Regardless of how “awesome” or “epic” episodes 9-13 are, I just don’t see how I’m gonna be able to trust TPTB to deliver a show I’ll want to watch in the future. They’ve basically flipped us the bird multiple times. I just don’t know; maybe I’ll change my mind. Like I said, I’m torn. But I’m also just flat out disappointed.

    • JLR says:

      Ehh, sorry for the rambling post..kinda went stream-of-consciousness there…

    • atcdave says:

      I’m with your rambling JLR. When the show was fun it was easy to just enjoy and ignore inconsistancies. This year, with the show being less fun for many of us, we’re trying to make sense of it all, but it just doesn’t really add up. I think that’s what did in Liz James, she wanted so much to make a coherent theory of it all; but in the end, it just isn’t meant to be taken that seriously.

  9. JC says:

    At what point in filming was Routh’s stay extended? That would be a pretty good indicator of how important he is to the whole overall Ring storyline.

    • herder says:

      I think a better question is what did they decide to do with those extra two episodes with Shaw, is it Ring oriented or angst oriented. I say this because there was the big outburst after comic-con and they went into interviews and said how there was a limit to what they could do with this type of thing. Most of us took the point of view that the story had been set and there wasn’t too much that could be done to alter it.

      But if they subsequently did alter it to add more angst, it will say something about their supposed listening to the fans. If they altered it to add more mythology then that is legitimate. If they decide to add both, then it speaks to their own tendancies – well we’ve got him here for more Ring stuff but we may as well add more romantic tension because that is always fun.

      My own personal guess is that it is the latter, they wanted to add more spy stuff and more angst.

      • JC says:

        If I remember right Mo Ryan mentioned she didn’t even see the need for the character of Shaw. I think this was after seeing the next four episodes. Then you have Magnus (not the best source I know) saying Shaw had almost become a maguffin.

        So like herder said was he extended for more angst and spy stuff. Just to be a professional and romantic foil to Chuck.
        I can’t see the writers changing the overall Ring story because of an extended stay by Routh.

  10. BigCheese says:

    Guys you are amazing as always.

    Chuckaddict did a great summary of everything that has happened.

    We have only questions, no answers.

  11. nycfan says:

    I think the Hannah and Shaw have been important to the story TPTB are trying to tell, even if we disagree with the story and/or its execution. Joe does a good job of pointing out that between 2.22 and 3.01 Chuck and Sarah are headed toward opposite ends of the spy-real life spectrum. Shaw has been the catalyst that has pushed Chuck toward the spy world he wanted so badly. Hannah, combined with Sarah’s confessions to Shaw in 3.08, forces Chuck to look into the “mirror of truth” and engage in some self examination.

    Sarah’s journey is another story all together, one which has been well articulated in a number of articles here. Yes, she is lost and broken. I think this aspect of the story has been poorly executed, but then again its eaier to push a civilian toward a spy’s life than pushing a spy to civilian life while keeping her in the spy world.

    I think the plan for this part of the season was to let the characters hit their extremes and then meet back in the middle. TPTB have set it up so that Sarah and Chuck have to be spy equals and emotional supports for each. It allows them to be high functioning spies capable of taking out the ring, while allowing them to hold on to who they really are as people. Once we get there, the Ring and spy plots can become more prominent. Right now stronger plots would only distract us from the foundation that needs to be laid for the team, and the team might fail on bigger Ring missions without getting to that spot.

    • BeCoolBoy says:

      The problem with this line or reasoning, with all due respect, is that the premises are a “lie.”

      Chuck never wanted to be a spy “so badly.” In fact, he spent the first two years of the show trying NOT to be a spy. As for Sarah, we always knew she wanted out. Moreover, her name reveal to Shaw makes no sense because a) Shaw would have known it because TPTB make a big deal just three episodes earlier establishing that he knew EVERYTHING; and b) Sarah has been Sarah for 12 years, not three years. And if this is the first assignment during which she hadn’t revealed her “real” name, than the name reveal is meaningless because she’s done it before. Moreover, as said here by several more veteran commentators than I, extended the Chuck-Sarah “never talk” meme to a third year is simply a stupid device that no rational person could buy after all these characters went through in the first two years.

      The simple fact of the matter is that TPTB gambled that they could go to the “angst” well one more year under the cover of a show reset. They also gambled that they could write around the insane Levi-Strahovski on-screen chemistry.

      I think they’ve been wrong on both counts. I don’t think the alleged payoff can wash away the weakness of these episodes to date. I think the rating, which aren’t better than last year, show that. I think the DVD sales will show that. And I think a lot of dedicated viewers may not come back for a season four, because when they blow up the show again in 3.19, the fans will justifiably be wary of TPTB’s intent.

      Showrunners have track records. Schwartz’s track record is teen angst. And while he does it well (witness year two of The OC), he doesn’t know when to stop and he destroys his shows. Which is why The OC is remembered as a joke instead of an insanely great show it was in Seasons 1/2. Just like Chuck.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree with most of this BeCoolBoy, good post. I really question the whole underlying “need” to do this to the characters. The show was so much fun with the ordinary guy slowly growing into the role of hero; and his devoted guide/protector. Its not hard to imagine a story where they simply grow towards each other; Sarah helping Chuck become a real spy, while Chuck helps Sarah become a real person. I think that would have been a beautiful, natural story; and it would have better honored two characters we came to like and respect so much in the first two seasons. Now both characters have been diminished/undermined in a way seriously damaging to both of them.
        Just yesterday I spoke to another friend who’s watched the show since S1, who just casually made the comment, “spy Chuck hasn’t been very much fun.” I think that says it all.

      • BeCoolBoy says:

        atcDave: Am I in the minority of people who never saw a love story in the pilot? I think as a lizjames post I read said, i saw an offbeat spy drama of two mismatched people.

        The normal guy learning mad skillz from the spy and the spy learning about normal life from the normal guy. I actually didn’t expect a romance between the two of them in the pilot. It is what actually drew me to the show. Wow, guy-girl friendship and they become each other’s sensei on what each knows best.

        I was okay when it became a romance (surprisingly quickly…) and I thought they got it about right in Seasons 1/2. Although, frankly, even then, it seemed like it was being dragged out a bit.

        But this entire year has been stupid. The romance angst is totally overwhelming everything else (even though, to date, there actually HASN’T been very much else). And I tell you what I think you have said: This show does not work when Chuck and Sarah are not together in some way: fake couple, spy couple or real couple.

        To go an entire year pitting Chuck and Sarah “against” each other has been the height of creative hubris. It is simply NOT what the screen is showing us.

      • atcdave says:

        Actually BeCoolBoy, I agree with all of that. It really surprised first season what a quick pace they set with the “romance.” So the have no one to blame but themselves for our expectations. If they had spent two years just establishing friendship, that would have worked. They gave us Colonel (and even called it a game changer), and then they took it away. I find that inexcusable, it has certainly colored my impression of theis entire season. As a fan, I feel bitter and betrayed. I expect to like the back six anyway, but I can barely tolerate it right now.

      • BeCoolBoy says:

        It would be interesting to know what our reception to things would be if they had NOT gone the “It’s real” route at the end of Colonel.

        What if Sarah’s response had been a simple “Let’s go celebrate!” and they hadn’t redone the music and hand gestures from the Creature Fear hotel scene.

        We might not hate Season 3 so much. Although I read lizjames great post about what is being done this season and she seemed to feel we weren’t done with the Prague platform scene and possibly even the end of Colonel. It will be interesting to see if they try to go back to those touch points and try to repair the damage or at least explain it.

        That is what puzzles me most about the people who say they like this season to date. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, but the storytelling has been so poor this year. Plotlines come and go, intentions come and go and episodes aren’t even internally consistent. Of course, that is also a Schwartz pattern. Just as he reached his high with Season 2 of The OC, it quickly collapsed after that.

        Maybe he’s just a AAA ballplayer who doesn’t have what it takes to play long-term in the pros. Or he has an intensely good, but very limited imagination.

  12. Marvin says:

    I guess it’s ironic that the only one who felt comfortable with Chuck both as spy and nerd was Jill…

    • joe says:

      Heh. Pretty cool observation, Marvin.

      But my take is more that Sarah is okay with Chuck being a spy. She’s having problems with being a spy herself. She’s just not cool with the lies no matter who is telling them.

      If Chuck could be a spy without lying, they’d both be happy.

  13. lou federico says:

    I think it is time for revenge of the Nerd. Chuck will be on fire for the next five episodes. I predict an ass kicking for Shaw at the hands of the intersect. Much like the Bills Chuck will make a remarkable comeback in the second half to be victorous.

  14. herder says:

    Ok, I have an idea that is either brilliant or too obtuse for words, marriage of convenience. Let me explain, I’m starting with Paul’s idea that Chuck fails the final exam and that Shaw is ordered to kill him. Add to that JS’s comment that they want to give the fans what they want, just not in the way they expect and finally Nick C’s comment that Ali is lying in her video about loving Chuck and Sarah together just not about what we think she was lying about (what ever happened to Nick C anyways).

    So start with the Ring wants to capture Chuck and the General or whomever wants to kill Chuck to keep him from them. Add a bit of new information, perhaps there is a rule against killing CIA agent’s spouses – bad for morale. So to save Chuck, Sarah marries him, not too much of a stretch on her part, but being the characters that they are they never really clear up how they really feel for one another.

    This allows JS to continue the angst in another form, how many movies are there where the marriage of convenience graduly becomes real. Think of how difficult seduction missions become if the other isn’t really certain of how they feel. If this is in 3.13 it allows for the Honeymooners in 3.14 and the Role Models later. The back six become making the fake marriage real.

    Is this a real possibility or is the drink affecting my brain?

  15. Lucian says:

    I dunno – maybe they could try a season where the two characters actually can act like they really care about each other, and don’t have to pretend they don’t (I know, that is crazy talk).

  16. Marvin says:

    It seems like the issue this season has been the “change” that Jill warned Chuck about. She told him that Fulcrum had changed her, to which she added: “Don’t let them change you.” When he released her last season, he told her that the reason he did was to show that he hadn’t changed.

    The burning of Manoosh, as illogical as the whole episode was, showed that he was changing, that he was turning into what Jill, Sarah and John were. The bluntness with which he burned Manoosh, and later Hannah (because that is essentially what he did), might be evidence of a lack of polish, but not lack of willingness. The slickness comes with practice.

    So if Jill came back in a later episode, what do you think she would think of Chuck? Now compare that with how Sarah, who has watched the transformation, might feel…

    • BeCoolBoy says:

      But the difference is that Sarah is THERE while it is happening and SHOULD be leaping in to help. Oh, but I forgot, Chuck and Sarah don’t talk even though they have run away together, committed treason together, love each other and been together for three years.

      Silly me for forgetting.

      • BigCheese says:

        Yeah they CAN’T talk.

        And when they open their mouths is sure to be somewhat frustrating!

      • Merve says:

        Sarah asked Chuck if he wanted her to do it. Chuck said that he had to do it by himself. If Sarah had jumped in during the burning, she would have been disrespecting Chuck.

      • BigCheese says:

        Are you talking about Manoosh? Yes, he does it himself.

        But when he was drinking, where she was?

      • Merve says:

        BigCheese, I think it can be argued either way. You could argue that Sarah, seeing Chuck in such a depressed state, would want to comfort him. You could also argue that Sarah was so horrified at seeing what she’d helped Chuck become that she couldn’t bring herself even to speak to him so soon after he had burned Manoosh.

        Personally, I prefer the scene as is because it’s more powerful for me. But it would be nice to see a couple more Chuck/Sarah conversations down the road; I just don’t think that that was an appropriate time for one.

      • BigCheese says:

        A little further down the road and the season ends. Remember, we are in 8 of 13 (original season.).

        Well, since Pink Slip it’s not an appropriate time to talk. That’s what pisses me off.

        And don’t forget the MAIN RULE for this season! Spies don’t fall in love unless it’s your boss…

        !

    • Jason says:

      I think this feeling might continue, for some reason, I think everyone on the show is going to get it, shaw, ellie, morgan, casey, awesome, jeff knows already, but for some reason, chuck and sarah will still dance around coupling up for 5 more episodes – I think it will be done ok, kind of fun and lite, but still, had episode 13 been the last show, I would have felt colossally cheated by season 3’s 12 hrs and 55 minutes of angst for 5 minutes of reward????

      • BigCheese says:

        Welcome to the season 3 aka epic fail.

        Till now.

      • BigCheese says:

        Shaw: “Hello, my name is Daniel Shaw, what’s yours?”
        Sarah: “My name is Sarah.”
        Shaw: “Sarah, I came from nowhere, but I’m in love with you, will you marry me?”
        Sarah: “Yes, Yes, but my real name isn’t Sarah it’s Sam.”
        Shaw: “Okay, I love Sam too and I will marry her too.”

    • weaselone says:

      Manoosh double crossed the Ring and was going to sell Intersect technology to the highest bidder in among a group of terrorists and warlords. He had to be burned or a significant quantity of innocents probably would have been.

      Chuck’s mistake with Hannah was dating her in the first place. Breaking up with her was the correct and caring option even if it was a little late.

      • BigCheese says:

        It’s not Chuck’s mistake. It’s Seasons 3’s mistake.

        I agreed with Manoosh thing, but then, what we got? Chuck drunk and Sarah doing nothing.

  17. JLR says:

    O.K. I may have to re-evaluate my complaints about feeling emotionally manipulated by TPTB WRT the C/S stuff…. My girlfriend made me watch The Notebook with her tonight…and WOW!! Talk about feeling hit over the head w/ a 2×4. I knew I was in trouble from the opening credits (sad, plaintive notes of a piano while a rower was gliding across a lake/pond). During ending credits, I told my gf, “I feel like every cheap trick to evoke emotional reaction was just used on me.”

    Any complaints I levy against TPTB of Chuck will now be made w/ The Notebook in mind…

    • BeCoolBoy says:

      Do the love interests in The Notebook talk to each other? I mean, just asking… I hear that in this show Chuck the two star characters don’t talk–or even write in a notebook.

      • JLR says:

        I won’t (& don’t want to) argue that point. I’m in full agreement with you there; I’ve beaten that topic to death on other forums for months, only to get shouted down by “true fans” of Chuck.

        As an aside, I tried to post a comment on ChuckTV forums only to find they’ve set it so I only have like a few seconds to type a comment or it times-out…classy move by them to limit posting privileges of those that don’t throw a ticker tape parade after every episode. Ironically, I was trying to post some positive things about the show….

    • JLR says:

      ETA: still doesn’t change/excuse the fact the spy plot sucks & is full of holes.

      • Paul says:

        JLR, the issue with ChuckTV is likely with your connection or internet settings. Has nothing to do with your opinions.

      • JLR says:

        I’m not important enough to censor, but I have changed nothing WRT to my browser or internet settings. I’m not having issues on any other site. Kinda strange this started after one of the mods there gave me a rather snippy reply in one of the long, drawn out threads. I don’t really care; I plan only to go there infrequently from now on anyway.

  18. Chuckaddict says:

    I re-watched vs. the Mask last night. It was just as difficult as it was the first time. It was actually a good episode until the last 10 minutes.

    The first notable thing I saw were Sarah stating that the Intersect was originally designed so agents could work autonomously. Note Chuck doesn’t have the original version of the Intersect.

    The other is that there are 5 people sitting on the Ring “council.’

    Still looking forward to tomorrow night.

    • AngelTwo says:

      Chuckaddict: If we have to take the Mask at face value, which we now seem to have to do, the problem is not so much the last 10 minutes. It’s the scene where Chuck and Sarah tell Shaw to get out of the museum and let them do the job.

      The director and Klemmer then have Chuck and Sarah be estastic to be together. That is the problematic scene. If the squabble that comes just seconds later is real, why were the two of them so absolutely thrilled to be working together and being together just moments before?

      The last 10 minutes might be a little rushed, but it plays if this is a face-value thing. It’s that scene in the museum that is off, and led a lot of us to think that Chuck and Sarah were starting a con.

      That’s the whipsaw moment…

      • Chuckaddict says:

        I agree with your observations, that is one of the reasons I think Sarah is playing Shaw. The turnaround just seems too quick. We’ll see…

      • AngelTwo says:

        Nope. Didn’t you learn the lesson of lizjames? It is what it is, simple enough so the groundlings can understand it. You’re just going to have to live with the fact that TPTB went for angst instead of clever and their bleating about “nothing is real in the spy world” was just a silly line in a silly episode called Pink Slip.

      • weaselone says:

        There’s no squabble seconds later. They’re simply expressing jealousy over the other’s love interest. That in no way conflicts with their being happy to work together.

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