Chuck Versus Apathy

It’s taken me a week to get around to this.  What’s up with that?

There’s this TV show called Chuck.  I love this show.  I’ve loved this show ever since I rented the first disk of the season 1 DVD on Netflix on a recommendation.  I watched the entire first disk in one night.  By Chuck Versus The Tango I was hooked.  On my way home from work the next day I bought the Season 1 DVD because I didn’t want to wait for overnight shipping from Amazon.  I watched the next disk that night, and so on until I finished season 1.  Then on to iTunes for a season pass and season 2.  I was blown away.  This show was just plain fun, it had everything.  Top notch performances from some virtual unknowns, some of my favorites from past doomed series (Adam Baldwin from Firefly and Sarah Lancaster from What About Brian), action, comedy, drama and a love story, I just couldn’t get enough.  When I finished I went online to find out more about this great show and found a whole community nearly as obsessed as I was.  I then did something I’d never done before.  I started over at the beginning and watched every episode again.  Oh, I’ve re-watched TV shows on DVD before, but never so soon.  I’m presently on my annual re-watch of Veronica Mars having already completed Firefly.  Next up will be Action, and after that Wonderfalls, but mixed in I’m still watching Chuck season 1 and season 2.  I haven’t stopped watching and rewatching this show since I discovered it just last August.  You could say I’m a bit Chuck obsessed and I wouldn’t argue, till recently.  Last week, watching Chuck Versus the Fake Name a weird feeling came over me.  Impatience.  What’s up with that?  After the jump.

So here we are over halfway through the original season, and I’m starting to ask myself why I care?  I’m still enjoying the show on the basis of just another entertaining show, but it feels like what drew me in and gripped me last summer is missing.  If my memory serves in past seasons I never had to wait this long for something to happen.  I understand, show Chuck grow as a spy.  You could have checked off that one by Operation Awesome, or Nacho Sampler at the latest.  Reset Chuck and Sarah back to the beginning?  Check.  Sarah was back to Carina’s MO and Chuck lived on cheeseballs for a few weeks.  Now with the new Chuck and Sarah we’ve covered the same territory all over again to see how they react differently.  Chuck doesn’t have nearly the problem with lying to his friends and family he used to, but we already saw that one coming late last season, and Sarah seems to want something more out of life than to be a spy, but we’ve been beaten with that particular stick since mid-season 1.  The only thing they are doing this season that is even moderately different from what we’ve seen before is there is no cover relationship, and no excuse for them to be together all the time.  Well, now they aren’t, and even when they are that chemistry we saw before doesn’t seem to be there.  Shaw manages to mess even that up.  It also means that this time around when Chuck decides it’s time to move on there is nothing Sarah can do to stop him, and other than spy training, which we are told is quickly coming to an end, no way she can justify remaining part of his life.  Unless, you know, she actually loves him and wants to be with him.

Where’s the love?

Cause I’m not seeing it on the screen.  If the writers are counting on our memories of these characters from season 2 to keep us rooting for them they’re playing a dangerous, and some have opined dishonest game.   Are these two supposed to be destined for each other?   I don’t see why.  This season all I’ve seen is Sarah sad over something she lost and Chuck realizing that he made a choice that cost him, well, something.  So if this character reset was necessary to bring them together again, lets look at those characters, based on what we’ve seen this season, because some anti-shippers and TPTB have clearly told us that Chuck and Sarah weren’t ready to be together at the end of last season.  They needed to grow and mature.  So let’s find the growth and the new maturity.

Let’s deal with Chuck first.  I’m not sure what he is supposed to regret.  Not running away with Sarah?  Well I guess if he wanted to lose all his friends and family and spend a lifetime on the run for a longshot at some sort of relationship with an emotionally unavailable woman who seemed ready to walk out of his life once her job of protecting him was over, then decided she needed to run away with him to keep him from becoming a spy, well yeah, he blew his shot at that.  Chuck tried to make things right, but Sarah was having none of it, so now she’s training him to be a spy, and they’re at least back to friendly, but there’s no indication she’s interested in anything else.  To the contrary, it seems that as he learns more about being a spy he’s learning more and more that much of what he thought he had with Sarah may not have been as special as he thought.  She’s basically told him that she came into his life as a means to control him and the information he had, and that while they may have connected at some point, she did manipulate him.  Now in addition he finds out she doesn’t care for him now that he’s becoming the guy she always pushed him to be.

Sarah: It’s just really difficult to see Chuck become a different person.
Shaw: That’s the mission, Walker.
Sarah: No, it’s not the mission. It’s… Everything.
Sarah: It’s how he pulled out Casey’s tooth, and how he burnt that asset a couple of weeks ago, and the way he lies to Hannah.   I mean,it’s so easy for him.
Shaw: Chuck’s changing.  He’s becoming a spy.
Sarah: I know. I know.  But lives are being affected here.

So let’s get this straight.  She pushed him to step up for two years, with the implied promise that some day, when the intersect was out of the picture, maybe they could be together.  He does everything she asks for two years, alienating friends and family and adapting to a new way of life he never asked for or wanted.  In return she does everything she can to help him and to help him achieve his goal.  He does achieve it, finally.  He asks Sarah to be a part of his life, starting with a little vacation.  She says no.  OK, no Intersect, no Sarah.  Well, she’s a spy, he gets it.  Much as he loves her she’s chosen her path and it isn’t his.  Then through a twist of fate he gets the chance to reconsider.  He decides this time to step up, all the way.  If she’s willing to step up and sacrifice everything for duty, maybe he should be too.  She’s been telling him for years he not only can be, but is that guy.  He saves the day, again.

Chuck is excited, he finally has the chance to do something important with his life.  To get out of the five year funk after Stanford and then the two year enforced holding pattern with the first intersect.  Now he can finally move forward with his life.  But Sarah doesn’t want him to.  She wants him to run away.  Leave everything important to him, other than her, and spend a lifetime on the run with her as his protector again.  The apparent bonus is that what almost happened in Barstow might be a regular feature of his new life on the run.  So she doesn’t want to be a spy anymore, and she doesn’t want him to be one either, and she gives him a chance to re-consider the choice he just made to become a man who can make a difference.  He trusts Sarah and says OK.

A few weeks apart from her and he re-considers his reconsideration.  He can’t do it.  He’s the only intersect and he made his choice to try to make a difference.  He knows that choice will cost him a lot, but he’ll accept that.  A few detours and bumps in the road, but it turns out Sarah is back in his life, at least professionally, and he is nearing his goal of becoming a spy.  Now it turns out that she doesn’t much care for him anymore.  Worse it now seems that emotional wall he lived with for two years, and lives with again now other than a few quick conversations when she asked him to run isn’t something she does with everyone, just him.

Shaw: Sounds like he’s not the only one who’s changing.
Sarah: It’s like I’m watching Chuck disappear,and the further he gets from who he is,  Well, the more I want to remember who I am- who I was before all of this-
Shaw: Well, if this is you, I like you.  I want more.
Sarah: I’ve been on this assignment for almost three years, and I’ve never told anybody my real name.
Shaw: Not even Chuck?
Sarah:  No. Not even Chuck.

So where is Chuck, emotionally, given all that?  If he’s remotely healthy, over Sarah.  She can’t or won’t open up to him, ever, and even when she disapproves of his actions, like with Hannah, she won’t tell him.  He asked her directly just days before if she was OK with the whole Hannah thing, and she apparently lied to his face and then went to vent to someone she trusts enough to open up to.  He can’t count on her to tell him anything real about herself or what she thinks of him, and the only time he ever heard she loves him was through another spy.  There seemed to be a few minutes, in two rushed conversations where she was almost willing to admit some feelings, but that’s long passed.  Based on what they have shown us there is no scenario where an emotionally healthy Chuck should ever pursue a relationship with Sarah again or even trust her motivations were she to try to rekindle one.

Now Sarah.  Yes, Sarah doesn’t talk, she’s bad at relationships, Chuck hurt her adding to her trust issues with men, I’ve got that.  The first time she opened up to Chuck she got crushed.  But why did she get crushed?  Not because Chuck doesn’t love her.  She knows he does, or did, and at the beginning of this season both we and Sarah saw Chuck going to extraordinary lengths to clear the air and make her understand that he never wanted to hurt her, ever.  Past, present, and future tense.   As late as Angel of Death he was trying to patch things up and let her know that he understood he hurt her.  He did it for the greater good, but he hurt her and understood if she needed time and distance, but he was still there for her.  Sarah, if she is in any way a sentient being knows that Chuck made a choice, and she put him in an impossible position.  She knows because she saw him tell her.  She knows he loves her and he’d never intentionally hurt her because he has said so to her face.  Sarah doubting where Chuck is emotionally does not play unless we are to believe that after two years with Chuck, emotionally open and honest Chuck has suddenly become some sort of pod person who lies to her face.  So why the distance?  Well the intersect working could be part of it, but to date we’ve seen nothing to indicate that they know Sarah affects Chuck’s ability to flash.  He’s flashed with Sarah present and not present, and he’s been unable to flash both with Sarah present and not present.  There has been no clear pattern, so that does not play.  So why the distance?  Worse yet, this new softer more emotional Sarah feels a part of her life is vanishing and needs to form some sort of connection and to have someone to trust and open up to.  But she decides that the guy who has apologized for every unkind remark he has ever made, gone to extraordinary lengths to be honest with her, and who when he hurt her deeply tried everything in his power to make her understand why he was doing what he was doing, putting aside his personal feelings for the greater good is just too risky to open up to.  How is this new changing Chuck somehow now less safe?  How exactly is it that Sarah, the new softer Sarah who needs to open up ignores everything Chuck has done and tried to do for her, and goes to a guy she barely knows, other than the fact that he does lie to her and he does manipulate people, she goes to him for some sort of emotional connection?  There is only one possible conclusion.  She has decided she can never open up to Chuck again, she’s decided they are over, no matter what.

So there we have the growth and development of Chuck and Sarah this season.  We were told they needed to grow and develop in order to be able to be together.  Every bit of character development has served to not only completely sever any emotional connection between them, but to also diminish who the characters were and the connection they had in season 2.  Sarah really does fall for just about every guy she works with, and so when Chuck finally becomes a super spy she’ll fall for him too.  Won’t that be special.  Chuck really does trust and love Sarah, if he’s a complete idiot.  If Chuck is indeed growing and maturing there is no way he should ever allow himself to get emotionally involved with Sarah again.  She’s never been open with him, and worse, when Chuck asked Sarah directly if she was OK with the whole Hannah thing, after Sarah basically hints that he should be moving on emotionally since she’ll be leaving soon, she apparently lied to his face.  What Chuck overheard Sarah talking about was what a jerk Chuck is becoming for doing what she keeps pushing him to do and for what she told him to his face was OK to her new boyfriend.  Then she talked about how much she wanted to be rid of Chuck and get back to who she was before “all this”, her three year assignment started.  To top it off Sarah showed more trust and openness to her new boyfriend of a few weeks than she ever showed Chuck in three years.  So there we are.  If these are the new more human and realistic characters, they’re done.  Even a long heartfelt conversation between the two would not patch things up.  Chuck can’t trust Sarah to tell him anything true about her feelings, and why on earth would Sarah want such a conversation suddenly when she has so vehemently avoided them in the past?

Now we’re told to hold on, it’s all part of the story they’re telling.  Well watching two people who loved each other being pulled apart isn’t a great story.  Ahhh you say, but they will be together in the end.  This had to happen, because they weren’t ready for each other.  Season 2 was not real enough to last or withstand the pressures of what their life would be like together.  They had to grow and mature to be able to reconnect, and that part of the story has yet to be told.  So now we have about 5 episodes to tell that part of the story and two characters who if you are paying attention to the story have both decided to move on and have no business establishing or re-establishing any kind of emotional connection in any world other than angsty soap operas with contrived higher highs and lower lows, super emotions not possessed by mortal men.

OK, but we keep hearing they’ve had this planned from the beginning, and the way they’ll do it will restore our trust.  Seen in a new light it will all make sense of how they managed to come back together.  My theory of how they’ll pull it off?  What they had together in season 2 was so real, so true, so lasting and so special that nothing could ever tear them apart.

Great plan.  Great story.  Would you please just get it on with it?


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in Angst, Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations, Season 3. Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to Chuck Versus Apathy

  1. atcdave says:

    Wow Ernie, welcome to the dark side. You called it apathy, my word is anger. I never remember a show going from so good (not to mention uplifting, sweet, and fun) to so bad (depressing, and dark) so fast.
    I do have a plan for dealing with it; I will ignore most of this season. The only question now is when can I start caring again. I hope its this week, although it may not be until 3.14. We’ll see what happens in the rest of this season. Ideally I’ll be able to swallow hard and enjoy the rest of the story. I am concerned about if they will do something this stupid again. I have very mixed feelings about S4. Hopefully, we’ll have some clue in 3.19 what way they’re going, and how watchable the show will be in the future. But The Ring was very hard to sort out that way, so who knows. I am committed to the end of this season, they have to sell me on the future.

  2. Emily says:

    Excellent thoughts Ernie.I agree 100% with what you are saying.
    I know the Hannah ship has sailed, that it was what it was, but I had always wondered whether Hannah was Chuck’s test for Sarah? He directly asked her if she was okay with it, and by saying yes he realised that she wasn’t ready (or if he was stupid enough, she didn’t love him) and thus he moved on.
    I think this also highlights why the Sarah character has annoyed me this season. She knows how Chuck feels, Chuck doesn’t know how she feels, so they both move on. The ball was in Sarah’s court, but she let it bounce out.

    • Emily says:

      Oh and I have to say, I miss the fun from this show. It’s officially been Schwartz’d. That being said, I’m also here till the end. But at the moment, Grey’s is even more amusing than my favourite show (yes, it’s still my favourite!)

  3. BeCoolBoy says:

    I don’t want to be like TPTB and beat a dead horse, but the problem here, Ernie, is that they write a story and then another and then half a season when these two characters don’t talk. If they don’t talk, TPTB can justify anything.

    So all your words are, frankly, meaningless, just as all my words are.

    You can’t analyze cartoon characters and they have turned Chuck and Sarah into cartoons. Just like South Park kills Kenny every week, TPTB emotionally destroy Charah each week.

    Or as Jessica Rabbit once said: I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.

    It’s not Chuck and Sarah’s fault. They are just drawn without mouths…

  4. BDP says:

    Heh… just as i got to the end of fake name i pretty much said i was done with C/S – and this cool little blog here has just sealed it for me.


    A part of me kinda wishes Chuck will carry on being his bad arse self with Casy macking about behind him and Sarah and Shaw just chilling in the background… just giving a mission to Chuck and then going on holiday and ect.

    Such a shame cause i was really with them at the end of season 2.

  5. BigCheese says:

    I thought it was the only one who felt disappointed with the 3rd season. After these last few weeks I’ve seen more people on blog feeling the same as me. I could not believe what I saw in Pink Slip, but every week something worse happens.

    I wanted to point out some things about the upcoming episodes:
    310: Casey is fired
    311: Shaw and Sarah will be alone in the Castle?
    311: If Chuck pass the test, then Sarah has officially no reason to be around

    What leads to 312 and 313. And I wonder (and fear), what will happen? ^^

  6. Chris says:

    “Sarah really does fall for just about every guy she works with, and so when Chuck finally becomes a super spy she’ll fall for him too. Won’t that be special.”

    That is hilarious Ernie, and also sad that it might come true that way. I sure hope it is more special than that, but who knows with the TPTB.

    I also agree with you. Get on with it already.

    Still, no matter how “epic” these next 5 episodes may be, can they really make up for all the other poor episodes/poor story telling choices (IMO) we had to endure this season? I don’t know, but I guess we will find out.

    Is still boggles my mind that TPTB thought this is the story they “had” to tell and this was the way it was planned.

  7. herder says:

    Thanks Ernie for putting into words my frustration and disapointment with this season. In the first two years there was a sort of alchemy with this show that turned even stale ideas into gold. This year even the good episodes, and there have been good episodes seem to turn back into a pumpkin when the next airs. Maybe it’s the lack of air time between Chuck and Sarah, maybe it’s the lack of good moments between Chuck and anybody else, maybe it’s the Shaw character sucking the fun out of everything, but something has gone wrong with the show.

    My disapointment carries over to the next episode, by all accounts one of the series’ best, yet I find myself thinking how can they screw this up too. It’s a sad reflection on the damage TPTB have done to the show this year.

  8. Rick Holy says:

    Bottom line for me is that these two characters have been so mishandled this season that it’s to the point where what used to be the biggest draw of the show for me (seeing them get together and actually reach some level of happiness after having had relatively sucky childhoods/upbringings), now basically no longer matters. Why? Because the “reasons” that the writers have given us this season for them being apart are so ridiculously bogus, that one can only being to imagine how lame the reason(s) is/are that they finally get together. It’s basically going to wind up being something that could have happened in season 2 – or even season 1 for that matter – which will wind up making season 3 everything it has been – short of a complete waste.

    During and at the end of season 2 I was so fired up for where things could go – not just between Chuck and Sarah personally, but between Chuck and Sarah in relation to their lives together as spies, that I would have been upset if the show got axed. I hate to admit this now, because I still watch the show, but if it gets the axe after this season, it really won’t matter to me.

    How many different ways can you present a third season and have it suck? I think there have been two episodes worth watching. Two out of eight. That’s 25%. PATHETIC. Compare it to the previous two seasons where I could re-watch MULTIPLE TIMES almost all of the episodes – even the angsty ones. At least the angst made sense (even though I didn’t necessarily like it) during the first two seasons. This season it’s only a ploy for writers who’ve apparently hit a creative road block, or are being blocked by TPTB.

    Oh, well. I’ll still be tuning in – but as B.B. King would say, the “thrill” is gone. Long gone. Is there a chance it could return. There’s always a chance – but I wonder what would be the point. I’m with atcdave who mentioned in a post some time back that even if there is a season four, it’s going to be like, what other ways are they going to find to torture these two characters?

    It makes for a show not much fun, and no longer as entertaining as it once was – and ultimately – at the rate they’re going – for a show not worth watching.

  9. sd says:

    Great post, Ernie…

    I do think TPTB have made it almost laughable for people to believe these two people could or should be together. Oil and vineagar much?

    I was an on again off again viewer for much of season one heading into season two because I really dislike the WTWT undercurrent that runs through a lot of character driven shows. But I got hooked because of the chemistry of the two leads…and really thought the writers would honor that.

    I have read that the showrunners had a five year “plan” for Chuck before the first ep was shot…awesome plan (insert sarcasm)

    I just don’t know how they can honestly get these characters back to center…and back to us hoping–even willing–they are together.

    You are right, if I were Chuck at this point I would be running away from Sarah–not toward her.

  10. Jason says:

    geez ernie, I’ve been trying to stay upbeat & u had to go and exactly write how I feel about this season. Problem is, unless the last 5 minutes of 3.9 somehow fixes things, CS will be a no ‘shaw’ again, while shaw is off monopolizing Yvonne time romancing sam at some fancy resort, many people in the know, are sort of warning us the sham will continue thru 3.12 (old darth for one), I know the last 5 episodes are going to be pretty good, but my patience is growing very thin. Some are suggesting CS will get married in 3.13, in all honesty, I hope they don’t, and if they sleep together in 3.12 or 3.13, well that is almost as cheap as whatever your imagination tells you shaw sarah did at the end of 3.8 – apathy from my, yea for sure, anger, yea, but also a bit of helplessness, as you so well stated, this show really got me right in the heart S1/S2, not so much any more – too bad

  11. Faith says:

    Ernie, Chuck kindred spirits!

    I wrote a similar post, similar length and everything! earlier today (I won’t post it here out of respect for your views 🙂 ) but just know I totally feel the same way.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      By all means, let’s post it. I’d love to read it regardless. You can use our new e-mail address ( chuckthisblog (at) gmail (dot) com ).

  12. JC says:

    Great post Ernie

    Your right there’s no way Chuck should trust Sarah at all. I know people don’t want more angst but I’d love to see Chuck just tell her off. Not in anger but just say, I don’t trust you Sarah. But that probably won’t happen and Chuck will fall on his sword for her again.

    I don’t know if the writers intended this but Sarah has come off a lot worse this season. They showed us the worst of Chuck through his actions. Well I’m seeing an almost irredeemable character in Sarah through her inaction.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks JC. I had another whole section on the extensive damage this season has done to Sarah Walker as a character, the concept of them as a couple, and the series as a whole, especially season 2. But nowadays when I start to abut the 3,000 word mark I try to wrap it up and trim things.

      • Emily says:

        I think part of the problem with season 3 is that by showing the ‘growth’ of the two characters, they’ve made them completely unlikeable. I’d take whiny but well meaning Chuck over SuperChuck any day. And Sarah has turned into a pathetic mess, but the whole reason I liked her character was that she was confident, sexy but warm at the same time.
        The growth of these two characters shouldn’t have to be at the sacrifice of the traits that made us love them in the first place.

  13. sd says:

    So–how about devil’s advocate?

    Perhaps as part of the “character development” in season 3…TPTB figured we would understand that Sarah Walker put it all out there to be with Chuck–as irrational as it seemed–was crushed and because of her “issues” can’t talk through it with Chuck and hooks up with Shaw because he’s someone who she can “manage” emotionally…Chuck represents something too deep and too real…she can keep “a Shaw” at emotional arms length.

    At some point…if TPTB really do want S/C to be together…this somehow gets hashed out…likely because Shaw is deemed a bad guy. All in all..pedestrian storytelling.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’ve played devil’s advocate. You can read my other post here. It was time to argue the other side again.

      So to answer your question, no reason at all. It makes Sarah a bit of a basket case, a little pathetic, but you could probably make a case. But what about Chuck? And what is going to change to put them together?

      Let’s say Shaw turns out to be a bad guy, Sarah wounded runs to Chuck’s arms, but only because he’s the last resort apparently, and he of course forgives all. So in other words what they had in season 2 was so real, so special, so unique and so true that nothing could tear them apart. But we just had to spend 8-10 episodes making Sarah Walker look pathetic, needy and stupid to make it convincing. Like you said, pretty standard fare. And this maintains my interest because…?

      • sd says:


        I think that’s why so many want the S/S dynamic to be more than what it is (subtrafuge..double-crossing etc)…to somehow explain the flake factor.

        I don’t know. It’s frustrating. Like I said in a previous post, the WTWT initially kept me at “emotional arms length” but I was sucked in anyway–much to my chagrin.

        Moving forward…I will watch…but not for the character development betwen C/S that I was hoping for at the end of season 2

      • JC says:

        Every time he runs back to her and even more so this season. Chuck has become pathetic.

        He’s been emotionally strung along for three seasons and now he’s been betrayed. He actually comes off worse than he did at the beginning of the series.

      • atcdave says:

        Both characters come off worse than they did in previous seasons, that’s why this season has been so sad. Its obvious we the fans have far more affection and respect for these characters than the writers do.

      • JC says:

        No doubt both have come off worse.

        I just don’t want to see jealous, whiny Chuck ever again. But I’m afraid after the ending of Fake Name we’ll see it again. Especially after his comment of “thats my girl”. Really Chuck, how can you actually believe that.

      • kg says:

        There you go Ernie.

        Season two was “So real, so special, so unique and so true that nothing could tear them apart.”

        That’s the first page, first entry in the Days of Our Lives’ playbook.

        NBC already has that. Five days a week. 1 pm PST.

  14. atcdave says:

    Wow, what a very down group today. This was a show that used to be fun. Epic crash and burn. As I said, forget this season. When you remember this show, remember how awesome its ending was, in episode 2.21.

    • Faith says:

      well the show hasn’t been all rosy and delightful…why should we? 😉

    • atcdave says:

      I know, I agree. We’ve heard how awesome 3.09 is going to be, right now I’m not even looking forward to it.

    • herder says:

      The truth is, at least for me, that I want to be positive, but every time I start to get there, they hit us with a downer episode. The season started on a down note with The Pink Slip, got better with Angel del Muerte and Awesome Operation, then went down with First Class. I thought that Natcho Sample was good, but it went down again with the Mask.

      I got excited with the promo during the Olympic break, but was pushed down again with Fake Name. I really want to be up about the show, but I’m left with an attitude of what else can go wrong.

      Meanwhile during all these down episodes, when we are supposed to be keen about the character growth, there is no positive relationships at all. On the wikipedia page there is a quote from Alan Sepinwall that says “What makes Chuck so special…is that there is a fundimental warmth and humanithy underneath the jokes”. This year they seem to have done without the warmth and humanity.

  15. metajoke says:

    I dunno. No one hates this season more than I, but I can still root for Chuck and Sarah…

    Not only do I root for them to overcome the odds. I root for them to overcome the showrunners.

    What can I say? I’m a cockeyed optimist. Love conquers all, even bad writing…

  16. AngelTwo says:

    I figure by the end of e9 Sarah realizes Shaw’s a fool and realizes she needs Chuck. She goes to the Morgan door and lets herself in. Chuck, exhausted by his day saving Castle, doesn’t hear her. She slips into bed next to him…

    Fade out.

    I know it ain’t happening, but a girl can dream…

    • atcdave says:

      I really we hope we see clarity from her that soon. I’m somewhat resigned to it being drawn out; as utterly pathetic as that is.

    • herder says:

      Nope, TPTB want to drag out this Shaw/Sarah thing as long as possible. While we might see some distancing of Sarah from Shaw, I don’t think that Chuck will see it until at least 3.11, if not later.

      The mystery to me is why TPTB would think that this was a winning story line after the reaction to Beefcake and what happened at comic-con this past summer. Essentially they are in the position of saying trust us when in truth there is very little trust left, at least by me, and judging by the responses on this board and other boards, by a significant part of the fan base.

  17. John says:

    Yeah, it’s unfortunate that TPTB completely ruined my favorite show. It’s gotten so bad that I find myself watching HIMYM instead of Chuck on Mondays. Sometimes when I do feel the urge to watch I just tell myself “Why should I subject myself to 42 minutes of disgust and disappointment?”

  18. Ernie Davis says:

    So here’s my question to ponder. Super agent Sarah Walker, who can seduce men on a whim (piece of cake), who has been a con artist all her life, who understands how to read and play people, that Sarah Walker, spends two years with a total non-spy mark, one Charles Irving Bartowski, the most emotionally open and honest man she’s ever met, so open in fact that she has trouble playing him (you can’t con an honest man), and after all that time she still doesn’t understand what his feelings are, even after he tells her, repeatedly, or what her distancing will do to him. On top of that, she knows he overheard her conversation with Shaw, knows what that does to his trust, but next episode she’s going to all of the sudden offer to let him open up and talk about his feelings, when she knows exactly what his feelings are…unless she’s a blithering idiot. So here is the thing. I know Sarah is getting softer and more sensitive, but in what new more real and human world does the remarkably intelligent and perceptive Sarah Walker not understand that she has broken any trust she and Chuck ever had and that minus some serious talk and reconciliation her offer to allow Chuck to talk to “us” about his bottled up emotions is not only stupid, it’s insulting. So is Sarah stupid, or intentionally insulting Chuck?

    This is where Liz was coming from. We are being asked to swallow more and more of this, to the point where it becomes virtually incomprehensible that any professional writer could expect this to fly. Unless they consider us idiots, or they intend to to a grand reveal and tell us that even though they never gave us any hope, hint, sign, or indication, we were silly to ever believe what they showed us on the screen was the whole story, it makes no sense. At this point I don’t see an option that isn’t insulting.

    • JC says:

      I’d like to add another thing in regards to Chuck.

      I know he’s supposed to be a nice guy. But how am I supposed to believe he hasn’t snapped yet in regards to Sarah. Just let loose at all the BS she has done for the last three years. You would think her opening up to Shaw and not him would be the last straw. Nobody is that calm, especially when comes to “love”.

      • herder says:

        I could be mistaken, but so far I think the only time he has got angry with her is in Crown Vic. He has got snippy on occasion, “the oldest profession” and “I’m not a robot like you” but maybe anger at being left alone to face all this on his own might be appropriate. I get the impression that the name reveal will be another Mauser type incident, brushed off with no real resolution.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Agreed. What he overheard and experienced would not qualify as angst, it’d be closure in anything other than a soap opera. If these characters are supposed to be more real and human I’d say that at the very least Chuck being willing to maintain a friendship with Sarah and a cordial relationship with Shaw is a testament to the fact that he is still Chuck, remarkably, almost superhumanly nice guy.

        And that is he other point. Exactly how dark has Chuck become? He makes lies seem easy and seemed nasty when he burned Manoosh? Please, Sarah has seen him struggle with this for years and has seen him turning to drink, something Chuck has never done, to dull some of the pain, yet she’s supposed to be horrified that he’s adjusting and having some trouble with the requirements of a life she’s inhabited since childhood?

      • JC says:

        I could see him being somewhat bitter towards Shaw but honestly he didn’t do anything wrong. Sure maybe he took advantage of her a little, but she never said stop.

        And your right about him being superhumanly friendly when it comes to Sarah. If he isn’t angry at her, that just comes off as completely unbelievable. He should be as cold and angry as she was during the Pink Slip, maybe he more.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        At the very least he should be as cold as he was at the end of Crown Vic.

        Also don’t forget Chuck was just trying to sell it, Shaw seemed pretty serious about whipping Chuck’s ass for some reason. If I were Chuck I’d be a bit peeved at Shaw for more than just stealing “Sam”.

        You could say that Shaw was just selling it assuming Chuck would flash and kick his ass, but after a few minutes it should have been clear that wasn’t happening, and there was no reason whatsoever for Shaw to actually choke Chuck as opposed to just put his hand on his throat and pretend to do so without applying any pressure. So is Shaw stupid, or psycho?

      • JC says:

        And you have to love Sam’s half hearted plea for him to stop.

    • atcdave says:

      Ernie, you know I’ve been insulted by this season since the beginning. Its just a race against time now, can they get the show back to a more fun place while I care at all? This season will always be insulting, they have ruined the two best characters on television. There hasn’t been a chance of redeeming the situation since Pink Slip, its only about getting past it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I think the insults started in The Ring, but there was just so much Chuckie goodness packed into that episode most people chose to overlook it.

        And here is the thing. Maybe there were shippers who said Chuck and Sarah have to be together now at the end of the season. I hadn’t seen a single episode at that point, but pretty early on, reading the boards I think I understood what they meant. Chuck and Sarah had to be together, really together in some sense, even if only temporarily for the story or the characters to continue to seem important, real, or compelling.

        So yeah, I’ve done my best to be an honest critic and take my desires out of it and watch the story, and even defend the story the way that TPTB want to tell it, but I’m finding that harder and harder because I am getting to the point where I’m having trouble seeing their story as something I’m willing to invest in.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree about The Ring. I’m inconsistant in how I rate it because I enjoyed it at the time (except for a certain puppy kicking moment). It was open ended enough, if there had been no S3, we could have imagined our own conclusions. And I think most of us could have done better than what has been delivered.

    • amyabn says:

      look at Sarah’s reaction as she and Shaw make the offer for him to “talk to us.” Chuck looks at Sarah with the “are you crazy, I’m not talking to him!” look and she seems to get it. I hope I’m right and not reading into things on the spoilers, but to me she got it and dropped it as an “us” offer.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        My complaint upthread somewhere is that for her to even consider the question as reasonable paints the strong savy Sarah Walker in a pretty negative light. Sarah is supposed to know Chuck. Major plot points in season 2 have pushed the point that Sarah knows Chuck so well that she can sense a problem just from his phone being left behind in his room (Broken Heart) or him not trying to meet Beckman to make his case (Predator). Sarah also knows Chuck has some trust issues and that she has to be careful. She’s known that since she found the Comicon picture bug in his trashcan, felt guilty and decided she needed to give him something more real to make amends.

        So where is the competent Sarah Walker who can read Chuck’s actions, predict his reactions and respond to him when necessary? Obviously gone. So exactly how does she get back to being able to connect to and respond to Chuck and will it be appropriately angsty for this season?

      • amyabn says:

        I agree. I have a hard time believing she is so distraught about what Chuck is becoming (what she encouraged him to be) that she would run to the same type of guy that she claims to not like.
        I am still waiting for the wink, the acknowledgement that all is not what it appears and that there is more to what is going on. I know everyone who is “in the know” and have seen the upcoming episodes say that we need to take things at face value.
        I just can’t wait to find out what epic game changer is in store for us that will make this ride worth the time, care, and patience we all invested. TPTB keep us hanging on by our fingernails for this super twist that no one sees coming. Well, my fingers hurt! Hurry up already!

      • atcdave says:

        “my fingers hurt” Score 1 Amy! Reading reviews and spoilers can be maddenning, I’m still not sure we’ll get the sort of resolution we need; but maybe tonight we’ll get some clue where this is heading.

    • kg says:

      You jump on the bandwagon to save the little show that could. You buy the DVDs and downloads, you watch over and over, paying keen attention. You write on the blogs, you read fascinating POVs from folks you don’t even know, but you do know they are invested as much as you are. You go out and buy the footlongs.

      Now, you’re all in. The summer and fall months are never-ending. In the interim, you keep watching, critically of course. Things you might have missed.

      You see the sincere and electric chemistry displayed on screen by the two leads. It really is real. Season two, sans Ring I guess, was phenominal.

      They’ve got another story to tell. Allegedly. You’re asked to swallow more crap week after week. Resets, Recons, character assassinations, virtually no on-screen time together between the two leads.

      Again Ernie, you’re right. This isn’t just about crazy Shippers whining about the lack of a fairy tale romance or majestic wedding. Folks paying attention can see this line of story telling doesn’t add up, they can see big holes. They can see that as you allude, TPTB have turned the once strong and likeable lead characters, who naturally possess a couple of flaws, into a couple of pathetic, idiots.

      And what does TPTB do when you critically disagree and show evidence and insight that backs up your arguments? They tell you through their minions to trust us, or worse when you expose their subpar and sometimes dishonest story telling, they counter with “Relax, take it easy, you take this stuff far too seriously.”

    • Zsjaer says:

      Wow what a great post Ernie!!!!!

  19. JLR says:

    Been saying this, in fits and starts, for months. Nice job of summarizing almost everything w/ how the central relationship of the show has been mishandled. I have been apathetic towards C/S as an entity for quite some time. I still react badly to how that train wreck has impacted the rest of the show, however. So, from that perspective, I still “care” about C/S. I said on ChuckTV before the season started, “I don’t even understand why C/S ‘love’ each other.” Needless to say, I got some very snide replies…

    • atcdave says:

      I still care about Chuck and Sarah; its the show that doesn’t interest me so much anymore….

      • JLR says:

        I totally understand your POV…that was mine about midway through season 2. I’m just not as patient as you!! I tired of the childish games they were playing w/ C/S long before many others did. This season has probably been “easier” on me than others b/c of that, though it still hasn’t been the quality I wanted; not near it.

  20. Lawrynce says:

    Thank you, Ernie, for the best analysis of season 3 I have seen anywhere on any of the boards.I was thrilled to read your response because it is exactly how I feel. Instead of taking a great show in the first two seasons (that many of us watched again and again)and continuing with its strengths of comedy,adventure, and love, they have destroyed its attraction to the degree that some very bright viewers have stopped posting, stopped caring, and stopped watching. I don’t see any logical way they can make us forget what happened in the first 8 episodes and give us a believable conclusion. Yes, I will watch Monday and probably watch to the end of the series, but I certainly will not buy these episodes nor will I watch them again. I am not a masochist. The danger is that writers surround themselves with walls to reject any criticism of their work, and I fear that if the remaining episodes, especially the end, are good the writers will feel justified, that they will think that they gave us what we really wanted. They may not know to what degree they have savagely split the once solid community of loyal fans, and decide to hit us with more of the same, thinking “We know what you really want.” How sad it is that the show we loved has dragged many of its fans through storms of anger and ashes of apathy instead of the joy we once felt.

    • atcdave says:

      Great post Lawrynce. One of my great concerns is that the writers will never get. Those of us writing here are marginalized as some sort of “lunatic fringe”, and many forums apparently even block those with critical concerns from even posting. As far as I can tell, most casual viewers feel like those of us who are disappointed. Which leaves us in a catch-22; either people hang-on until things improve, the writers look like geniuses, and we get more of the same; or people get disgusted and leave, and the show gets cancelled.
      I sure hope these criticisms are understood by someone!

      • JC says:

        If recognizing poor story telling& characterization, reused plot devices, plot holes,etc makes us the lunatic fringe. Well then I’m quite proud. I can’t think of one complaint voiced here that wasn’t valid. Nobody is screaming, C/S aren’t together this show sucks.

      • JLR says:

        @JC: Go to some of the boards like NBC & ChuckTV, and you’ll see a new vanguard of TPTB apologists shouting down any criticisms. I noticed that becoming the new thing to do after the flack of the Mask came to a head. Yeah, it appears wanting better writing makes one a bad fan.

      • Waverly says:

        So the message is “Don’t worry, be happy.”

        The implied message is “Be stupid, be happy.”

  21. Lucian says:

    Ernie, once again you prove your abilities as an articulate schnook. I really wish I could still care about these two characters. I guess I just don’t appreciate “epic” when it slaps me in the face. I’m still hoping Chuck kicks Danny’s rear end one of these days, but they probably won’t even give us that.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks Lucian. I think what bothers me most is the idea that TPTB have been, intentionally or not, re-defining these characters and the story in ways that weaken our investment, or at least mine. I’ve spent a lot of this season de-leveraging my emotional investment in the show and the characters just to be able to continue to enjoy it at a far more superficial level. It is now to the point where I hardly care. They are spending my season 2 investment now.

      The real test is now going to come as they try to construct a plausible scenario that puts them back together. I fear two things. One is that they just won’t explain it, they’ll just take all that melodrama and ignore it because based on season 2 we know they really love each other so they can just somehow pick right back up where they were in Colonel. The other is that they feel they’ve “saved” the big emotional conversation card and will play it for (melo)dramatic effect. The new emotional Sarah will finally open up to Chuck after 8-10 episodes of doing everything in her power, including running to Shaw for some connection, to avoid that. My fear is that could fall as flat as the Shaw stuff has, being so OOC at this point, and that would be the end of Chuck and Sarah.

      Then when we complain that the way they put them together was a cheap cynical overstretched overwrought bit of bad writing all will throw up their hands and say “See, those shippers are impossible to please!”

      • Jason says:

        ernie, the payoff is not the scene, the first sex, the first conversation, the first ILU, the payoff is hundreds of minutes of CS time on screen, that is the failure of season 3, the two of them could read the gettysburg address to each other and it would knock socks off.

        as a case in point, the actual hotel scene in the colonel, was not the grippingly dramatic, but the kiss when the bomb was about to go, woooooaaaa, that was somethin, it will be the unforced stuff that will really work – which is why this season fell so flatttttt____________

      • sd says:

        My question…what makes us think TPTB plan to put them back together this season or next (if there is one)?

        Has there been an interview I’ve missed where the showrunners say the C/S story will be “resolved” this season with both of them as a couple?

        My feeling has always been the insane chemistry between the two leads has been a runaway train for the writers who have their marching orders…which is to continue the WTWT until the very last scene of the very last ep of the series

      • weaselone says:

        Ernie, it’s difficult to know for certain how they are going to handle it, but I’m willing to water a wooden nickel that neither of your two concerns will come to full fruition, although I certainly expect that the rush will force the writers to call on them to some extent.

        I suspect that Sarah won’t come to Chuck and talk, rather Chuck will force Sarah to speak for once finally and irrevocably dispelling the false chorus that Chuck always talks over her and never listens.

        I’m also becoming increasingly convinced that we aren’t going to see Chuck and Sarah reunited as a romantically involved couple by the end of the 13 episode arc. It strikes me as more and more likely that the pair of them will finish episode 13 as partners and close friends just as Sarah, Chuck and the fans finally bid adieu to Daniel Shaw. Any sort of reestablishment of romantic ties could conceivably be done during the back six.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yes, there was an interview where JS said the romantic subplot would be resolved, and I believe it was shortly after the back 6 pickup. The only way to “resolve” that is to put them together or kill Sarah off, otherwise the chemistry you speak of would draw them back to the WTWT continually.

        My guess is that they planned the original 13 to have a Colonel like moment near the end with another ambiguous reset in the finale. Most of the episodes were probably in the writing stage if not nearing completion by Comicon, where the fan reaction and the online storm SHOULD have been a wakeup call.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Weaselone. I agree, it will be a matter of degree. My favorite scenario would be a variation on a HIMYM episode where after Chuck and Sarah save Casey we see Casey tranq the both of them in castle as a cliffhanger. Next we see Chuck and Sarah wake up in one of the holding cells or strapped to lie detectors. Casey tells them that in gratitude for saving him he’s going to do them all a favor and force them to deal with each other for once. Never happen though.

      • JC says:

        @ weaselone

        I know spoilers can’t be taken at face value but the ones from that French site seem to confirm C/S as a couple or at least romantically linked by 3.13.

      • Jason says:

        i think the resolution will go like this, chuck fails exam or passes, doesn’t matter, sham continues as a couple at the end of 11. shaw gets kidnapped end of 11 or in 12.

        Sarah goes to chuck to rescue her BF (this works better if chuck fails the final exam by the way) she expects chuck to say no or to have to beg him, but he responds very ‘ballerina’ like, with ok lets go – this will be the justification for the entire sham arc more or less – I know it is stupid but ….

        rescue is on, building blows up, chuck shaw emerge, the great american hero is born, sarah ignores shaw and passionaetely embraces chuck, reunification takes 5 seconds.

        in ep 13 – chuck – sarah – casey save the day. for some reason, I think shaw will do something heroic at the end.

        Chuck sarah will consumate their relationship end of 13 with something more screen tangible than the end of 3.8’s sham

      • Stef62 says:

        Just to tweak the whole building blowing up scenario. They’ll have her say to Chuck something along the lines of ‘ I thought i’d lost you…etc, etc’ Shaw promptly gets dropped by her from a great height, and slinks off to lick his wounds

      • amyabn says:

        I’m not sure in what episode the building blows up, but I think back to “Best Friend” when the Herder blows up and Sarah thinks Chuck is dead. Yvonne nailed that. Maybe if it is early enough in the last part of the current arc, Sarah will have her freaking epiphany already and realize that Chuck-the current, saved Shaw’s butt multiple times when it would be easier not to, sweet Chuck-is the guy she wants to be with.
        We have already seen Chuck’s reaction to almost losing Sarah (and being saved by Casey). It was the impetus (imo) to have him break up with Hannah. It’s Sarah’s turn to wake up, realize she has been dating a piece of wood, and that she wants Chuck!

      • sd says:


        “resolve” gets me…I do think they will ignore the chemistry…and will get the two together as friends/partners with a bit of angst tweeking us here and there…what could have been etc. Because that is part of the “five year plan” the showrunners had for the show before one scene was shot.

        But someone mentioned a French? site that has them as a couple…I dunno

      • JC says:

        I mentioned the French site. Thats why my hope for a just friends ending for 3.13 doesn’t look hopeful.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        When I get some time I will try and consolidate a lot of this on the spoilers page in an easy to read format. Sorry for the delay, but sadly this is my hobby, not my job.

  22. sd says:

    Hi Ernie…

    Thanks for all the info you send out..

    I went on the site…sadly, I don’t even speak menu French…didn’t see a way to translate…may have missed it 🙂

    Thanks again for sparking all this dialog.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think both Google and Babelfish have translators and someone posted a translation here a while back. The spoilers page is a work in progress, but I’ll try to get things organized and pointed there before the season actually ends.

      • Faith says:

        here’s a rough translation from Chuck vs. Johnnie Walker (of this site).

        “Let me pass on some larger spoilers, even if I try to play Josh Schwartz, in that I mean I’ll give you the information. But I will put a twist on it. And in order to not waste your time by describing the show plan by plan as it will occur or even being precise about the information but rather by giving you a taste of what you will discover in this incredible episode (and more which occurs in the local area! ****-a-doodle-doo!) :

        – Paris is a city which finally does well for the whole Charah thing ^^.

        – In this episode, Chuck will do one of the most important things of his life. Something he has waited for, for a long time and which risks turing his life upside down forever.

        – It will be the last episode of Shaw this season but Chuck and Shaw will remain connected.

        – Sarah will shed a tear because of Shaw.

        – The flashes will not be had by just Chuck, Sarah will also have some in this episode

        Important note: As I mentioned above, I purposely “play” on the words with the spoilers. I say some without saying too much of it and when I say things that are the truth like “Sarah will have flashes” it is up to you how to interpret as you want, but think of the famous spoilers of Josh on ep 2×22: “there will be two marriages”.

        Hope that clears things up a little bit”

  23. Jason says:

    i feel like season 3 has been a shell game, for me I’ve been the mark, I thought ali adler would fix things in 3.8, she lifted the shell, no ball. Then for weeks I’ve heard 3.9 is epic, best chuck ever, I thought surely CS would get resolved, I am afraid I will not see any ‘ball’ under the shell tonight either. Matter of fact, I am pretty sure 3.10’s mission alone won’t fix things, nor the stakdate at 3.11. I now have no confidnece that any CS info we have gotten, honeymooners, the spy couple episode, the promise of CS resolution, rumor that CS would be a couple S4, how can any of it be judged as reliable. At some point the mark has to realize when he or she is being played.

  24. herder says:

    I went back to the story archives for Mo Ryan and re-read the interview with JS, CF and ZL after comic-con. If you read the comments to that article they are almost identical to what we are hearing now except for a lack of detail and names. As a result of the reaction there was a follow up interview with CF where he talks about Chuck and Sarah being the heart of the show and that they can’t keep doing a reset.

    The thing that got me was in light of those events, how could JS CF be suprised at the reaction to the Mask and the reaction now. In some ways I think there was a very real backlash by JS and CF that they weren’t going to be told how to write their show. I say this because the actual story is much more angsty and of a longer duration than was hinted at Comic-con. That or there was a real misjudgement about what they thought was a small but vocal minority.

    • atcdave says:

      I sort of think this is all about a snit. They (mainly JS) were so upset we would dare question their almighty plan, they decided to show us, by doing something even more extreme than they first threatened (the expansion of the Shaw episodes even before the back six pick-up); likely thinking all the while, “this will be great, we’ll show them.”

      So per my earlier theory about artist/patron responsibilities; a major malfunction.

  25. herder says:

    One thing that just struck me while re-reading Ernie’s excellent post. It was at the point when he was discussing the encouragement that Sarah had or had not given Chuck to become a spy. Think back to Crown Vic, at the end when she says that the only thing she has been good at is her job. Chuck says that pretty much makes him good at nothing and she replies that he is good at his job and she says that he is and not just his job at the Buy More “but the one you didn’t ask for but were meant to have”.

    In the past she had beleived that Chuck was meant to be a spy, when he steps up and accepts that fate she is crushed and loaths the changes it causes him. As late as the Ring she wanted him in the intelligence world, think of her reaction to his refusing the General’s offer to become an analyst. Her turn about is at least as great as Chuck’s.

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