Is Bad Better Than Good?

A Study in Chuck Psychology 😉

I am no psychologist. I shouldn’t even try to play one on the net! That’s what I have you guys for!
And with that that, I have for you a special guest post from our own Faith, aka ChuckNewbie8.

– joe

First a background: researchers have shown that we are evolutionary hardwired to remember bad and have it affect our lives far more than good. No one ever experiences lasting psychological disturbance after winning a tournament but one almost always experiences lasting and memorable stress after a trauma. Just think back to your past, how many bad memories do you remember compared to happier times? Most likely, a lot more. It’s because bad is stronger than good. Studies have shown that when people are told a person’s characteristics (Anderson 1965): “friendly, polite, clever, handsome, and dishonest” people put the most emphasis on the “dishonest.” Not the 4 other positives. Their view of the person is clouded by that one negative. Now if you don’t believe in evolution well think of it in cultural terms. Our culture gives more emphasis on what is done wrong than done right. Just look at Tiger Woods’ recent scandal. By most accounts the guy is an upstanding citizen until of course the blemish to his character which now will forever taint him. It’s like that expression, “two rights don’t make up for a wrong.”

What does this have to do with Chuck you may ask? Well a lot actually.

For one, it answers the question of “why go here, why go this far”? For another, it’s the answer to why we do tend to focus on the negative more. We’re unable to do otherwise.

Among the questions most of us have asked this season is why? I think we can all agree that the what isn’t what stumps us it’s the how and why? How things happened are often my biggest gripes and the damage to the characters are often one of my most vocal of complaints (at least mine). One can argue that conflict could have been designed to achieve the same amount of development without wallowing in the depths of devastation. Chuck and Sarah could have been kept apart without introducing and thereby disintegrating their endearing spirits with PLIs. Chuck could have embraced his heroism by having Sarah at his side to pull him back from the edge and he could have helped her explore the depths of her emotional awakening by being there for her. Instead what we got was a plot device in the name of Shaw and Hannah. Now these are effective plot devices don’t get me wrong, but they were, when it comes down to it unnecessary. Chuck was already going down a rabbit hole, he didn’t need some random woman to tell him what we all and everyone in Chuckverse already knew. It would have been far more powerful in my estimation had Sarah for instance told him that he was a jerk and an ass. Just like it packed more of a punch when Morgan dumped him. Sarah telling Shaw her real name had nothing absolutely to do with Shaw, but everything to do with Sarah. Why even have Shaw really? She could have done that same activity with any of the other characters (hell she could have talked with a therapist about it) because really the whole point was for Chuck to overhear. So why? Because these two plot devices deliver with it the worst bad imaginable. It’s the biggest punch to the gut. If bad is better than good then JS and company did their job. They have all but shoved our faces in 7 if not 8 episodes of excrement. And it worked because we’re outraged and vocal. They did their job. We’re focused on these negative aspects and yet we continue just like we’re taught culturally to put more value on it.

I often have these feelings of unrest when people say, “why are you so negative?” Which is actually funny because I consider myself the most optimistic of all realists. But even I have gone “dark.” I don’t have any choice but to be the way I am. By most accounts this season has been darker and at times more real (note: I’m using real in a less fairy-tale like, connotation and not real as in steeped in reality because plot holes does not exist in reality). Isn’t dark just another way to say negative? By giving these characters more conflict, yes they’re growing more and they’re evolving (or transforming depending on your viewpoint) but they’re also becoming a lot less positive, carefree and are in turn far more flawed. How can we as fans not focus on the negative aspects with what we have been given? And how can we as cultural animals continue to hope for the best? Culture may put an emphasis on the negative, but we are taught as cultural animals to battle bad by thinking positively about the future. It’s no wonder our speculations gives us the best kind of feelings; it’s because it’s steeped in the unknown and thereby positive viewpoint. And thus far this season we have been far too enmeshed in “bad” that speculations have gone to the wayside. Optimism and hope have really fallen on deaf ears. “Death only has to win once, whereas life has to win every day if the creature is to go on living,” and that is why we (me specifically) keep on hoping.


About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
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43 Responses to Is Bad Better Than Good?

  1. Faith says:

    I should add…up to a certain point 😉

  2. pandachuckkk says:

    OMG!!! i fucking loved this article/post. Especially the death has to win only once.

  3. Fake Empire says:

    Ah CN8, I cannot resist responding to a psychological perspective, as I am “wired” for those kinds of discussions. 😉 Simply put, there is no “un-complicated” answer to the neurobiological concepts re: the traumatic/negative memory imprints you began your blog entry with, but grab your psych texts and focus on the limbic system of the brain, especially the amygdala, hippocampus, and the
    chemical “cortisol.” My apologies to you for not getting more detailed because I don’t want to bore other readers (my apologies to others who may be bored because I’ve spent 14 years in this stuff, and it can read dryly).

    Humbly speaking about this season, and why there are such deep and sometimes disparate responses: one factor is the abrupt manner in which character changes were played out. We understood Chuck, Sarah, et al. to have certain character traits that were dependable, and dare I say, predictable. When we were shown opposing character traits (i.e., Sarah telling Shaw her real name) with no transition phase or lead-up, it was shocking. It’s not that these characters are fundamentally unable to demonstrate such changes, but there was no prior history of such action and, again, no lead-up. (Furthermore, shock, with its cortisol, does imprint in the amygdala fairly easily – a powerful part of the brain)

    Ok, so you take the abruptness and add to it someone’s viewing style: cognitive, emotional, or a combination thereof. Those who are more cerebral in their approach will be less apt to react so strongly, and in fact, would see logic behind the plot turns and espouse their usefulness. Those who view more emotionally, with a deep attachment to the characters, and other factors, are more apt to respond . . . you guessed it: with emotion. When emotions are invested, it becomes personal: a shared journey with the characters. When the characters we are emotionally attached to appear foreign, we feel a sense of loss – whether it’s loss of opportunity, loss of a friend, etc. And loss generates powerful emotions: sadness, fear, frustration. (Also in the amygdala btw). Obviously, those who watch with the combined cognitive-emotional style will experience shades of each of these examples.

    Please forgive me for rambling on and on. I could go longer, but I’ll spare you guys the torture. It’s just that psychology is my cup of tea!


    • Faith says:

      Love it FE. There’s something to be said as well to the behavioral approach. We’re conditioned to respond a certain way having been conditioned to the fun of season 1 and 2. So this is not a comfortable and a livable change for some. Often times the dissatisfaction stems from what we have gotten used to, what served us best. Having to recondition ourself to S3 and its darkness is a tall order. Regardless of whatever behavioral modification you subscribe to 🙂

      Neuropsyhology is a fascinating but murky field if you don’t mind me saying so. I’m so fascinated but equally confused at times lol. But I’m always amazed at the things they learn as technology advances.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Yeah, classical conditioning really stinks doesn’t it? 😉 Pavlov’s dog had it easy compared to having to adjust to S3.

        I agree: neuropsychology is very tricky. It’s fascinating, but I primarily subscribe to a cognitive-behavioral approach. Thanks for opening the topic.

    • JLR says:

      Nice addendum of sorts to Faith’s entry… I fit into the combined cognitive-emotional “category” of Chuck viewer. I was asking for character growth after S2, but the whiplash we’ve experienced this season has been poorly done, IMO, for whatever reasons. I guess that’s why I can accept certain changes, but not others: it depends on whether there was any lead-in for the character changes. TBH, if I watched Chuck from a purely analytical standpoint, I wouldn’t have made it this far. The inconsistencies & plot-holes would have driven me away. I don’t watch much scripted TV for that very reason. In the past I could forgive those things in Chuck because I really liked the characters….now, not so much, so I notice every hole & inconsistency.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Yeah, I watch with a cognitive and emotional style as well. TBH, sometimes my emotional style of relating to these characters can become powerful during certain epi’s. Anyone who watches with even a hint of cognitive analysis will be puzzled by and miffed at the plotholes and inconsistencies.

        Linear thinking assumes a logical progression of events with flavors of “cause and effect,” i.e., “catalyst A leads to outcome B.” Well, we’ve been given a lot of outcome B’s without sufficient explanations of how we got there – a poorly executed or simply absent catalyst A. For example: Sarah suddenly siding with Shaw in Mask regarding Chuck’s need to be autonomous, when all of her prior behavior, even as recent as First Class, demonstrated feelings of her wanting to be around Chuck and protecting him. Umm – what?!

        Also, we’ve been treated to the opposite, intriguing set-ups that
        appear to have vanished (A not only not leading to B, but nowhere). Anybody know what Beckman was so worried about when she was begging Shaw to tell Team B about the danger? That was in Episode 2; here we are prepping for 11.

        Bottom line: storytelling with plotholes makes no sense; is pretty shoddy; and it will frustrate discerning viewers such as the ones on this blog.

    • atcdave says:

      Some very interesting stuff, well outside my expertise. But I do have a lot of marketing in my background (yeah, business to air traffic, go figure); so this sort of deepens the mystery of TPTB decision making for me. For two seasons they give us a show that appeals to a certain sort of emotional viewer; then they upend everything, and morph it into a show that will appeal to a totally different sort of viewer; and hurt/anger/alienate much of the established audience.

  4. BigCheese says:

    In short, everyone needs a psychologist to continue watching.


  5. Ernie Davis says:

    Wow, this really has become group therapy. Excellent post and followups.

    I think I said this on another post, but I totally agree that the problems we are experiencing with this season were almost wholly due to the lack of preparation. Characters and story get a certain momentum in the viewers mind and such abrupt turns are tough to understand if we aren’t given some sort of preparation. Most of these abrupt turns center around Sarah and Shaw. I think a few scenes, where we could see ahead of time a trust and/or attraction developing between Sarah and Shaw the end of Mask and Fake Name would have been, or at least seemed, more in character and thus easier to accept.

    • atcdave says:

      I’m sure it won’t shock you that I disagree a little. I think no matter how much preperation time they spent, they’ve taken Chuck and Sarah in a direction that many of us simply don’t want to go. If they spent more time preparing the story, viewers would simply be leaving in greater numbers. When you spend two seasons developing characters and story in a certain way, people become very invested in it. Pulling the rug out from under established viewers is bitterly disappointing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, you raise a good point, I agree. Wait, is this our week to agree or to disagree? I keep forgetting.

        I should have said most of the problems I and many others are experiencing is due to a lack of preparation. The we was a bit too broad a brush. I do recognize that you do represent a lot of viewers who didn’t want to see so much a change in tone of the show, and so this transition was never going to work for you and those of your disposition because they were changing what was intrinsic to your enjoyment.

      • atcdave says:

        Hah! looks like we’re somewhere in between. Its like a double whammy for me. Back in S1, I still didn’t care for the use of triangles, but I was forced to admit Truth was a very funny episode; Imported Hard Salami and Nemesis had their moment too. So while I didn’t really like where they went, those episode still had enjoyable aspects to them. Even in the Jill arc, I really only hated “The Ex”; the other Jill episodes were mostly well done. Again with Cole; hated Beefcake, loved Lethal Weapon. But with Shaw and Hannah I’ve pretty much hated every moment. Some (OK, maybe most) of it is simply my brain saying after Colonel, we should be past this; they are now being completely stupid. But I think the fact the stories have been clumsy retreads (plus certain writing and performance deficiencies) exacerbates the problem.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree (sigh) again…

        I hold a lot of the same feelings about TPTB failure to recognize the end of The Colonel as practically requiring Chuck and Sarah to be together at least for a while for the characters and the story to stay true to what we saw.

        TPTB didn’t have to put Chuck and Sarah together together right then, but they should have at least had them acknowledge what happened and talking but uncertain about what to do. Consider some conversation after Chuck’s final briefing in vs. The Ring with her wanting him to become an analyst, him wanting her to, if not quit the CIA, ask for some time off (the vacation). In this case they’ve at least acknowledged real feelings for each other, but are uncertain how to move forward. Drop the “proposal” scene and put in a fight where Chuck says something dumb and Sarah, in anger, gives the “I’m leaving in the morning with Bryce” line. The rest of the episode could play the same, even up to the dance where Sarah was about to tell Chuck she was staying. Just the simple fact that after The Colonel they at least talked would saved the reset for me.

      • amyabn says:

        Why couldn’t they have gone back to the route of making them have the cover relationship? That could have given us drama, comedy, and the same direction, without all the BS. Even after Morgan finds out, he could counsel them like he did Ellie and Awesome. Awesome could be in on the fact that it’s fake, and we would still get the team trying to put them together for real. Same destination, still darker, but potential for a more fun ride.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Amen amyabn.

  6. joe says:

    Needless to say, you have me thinking down a whole ‘nother path, Faith.

    And it’s such an odd zig-zag my thoughts have taken. My first reaction was to disagree with your very first line – it’s NOT my experience that “we” tend to remember the bad and tend to forget the good. Then, I reach the end of what you wrote and find I am in complete agreement.

    So lemme elaborate.

    Just to tell you more about myself than anyone ever wanted to know, I used to be one that ONLY remember the bad. First dates? Disasters! Job interviews? Ugly. Falling off my bike at age 6? That meant I was physically uncoordinated and NEVER going to get to the edge of the world that was just past the end of the block…

    Bad news. It got worse when I reached my moody teens and worse yet when I hit the slave-labor market and rejection factory known as grad-school (we won’t even talk about the joys of 20-something singledom in the DC area). Surrounded by failure, rejection and badness!

    So much later than I should have, I literally had to tell myself to forget all the nonsense (for nonsense, it was). I consciously made a list of the good things that I had experienced, and yes, I was surprised to find that there were more than a few. I started with what a great day I had the day I graduated from college, and the day I got my black-belt. Very cool experiences and parties all around! But then I realized that there were quite a few days that were nearly as good, like the first time I held hands with a girl 🙂 Pretty soon I ran out of fingers to count them and started keeping the list on an Excel spread sheet (no lie!).

    Then I started to forget the bad. Oh, the music I knew so well from the dark times became melancholy reminders, but even then, I could sort of look back and smile at the boy I was the way anyone would smile at a child.

    The biggest difference is how you look at the present when it gets tough, or more commonly, when the future seems a bit unclear. Now I can make it through without panicking. Why should I? It’s been bad before and even at the darkest, there was always some fun in there to be had, and I can always be thankful that it’s over.

    How does this apply to Chuck? I should leave that as an exercise for the reader! But really, I’m just trying to explain why I can continue to be (relatively) un-phased by the darkness in the episodes we’ve seen in S3. Obviously, there’s always some fun in there to be had, but more to the point, it’s hard for me to think that the sun won’t shine again in that fantasy land when it does exactly that in real life. In my experience, anyway.

    “Optimism and hope have really fallen on deaf ears.”

    Truly! But that doesn’t mean they remain deaf forever, fortunately.

    • Faith says:

      Thanks for sharing Joe. I meant to expand on my last paragraph but I really couldn’t tie it together and keep it from touching on too many things at once 🙂

      To re-examine your experience and the “bad is better than good” concept…if Bad is stronger than good then that would imply that we as humans live a relatively dark and awful life. But such is not the case. On the contrary we have pretty great and satisfying if not happy lives. We live that good life because even though bad is stronger than good, there are far more good. We may not remember them, or take time (as you did) to revisit them but there is a lot of them. That’s where the line “death only has to win once whereas life has to win every day comes” (Baumeister) from.

      To tie this back into Chuck…that’s really where they’ve gone wrong IMO. In the big picture of life they’ve failed essentially. Because even though yes, bad is stronger than good and therefore they’re doing their jobs, they’re also doing a disservice to life and to the people by not balancing it with good. Look at it this way, by most accounts we’re on the swing up correct? Well is it worth it? Is the last 3 upswing worth the previous 7-8 of dark? Only time will tell but I gotta tell you, I’m not feeling it.

      (this is where I keep on getting off my own topic lol and had to cut off the ^guest post…essentially what I tried to do here is give some explanation to our actions and their actions…and with FE’s expansion I think it makes a lot of sense).

      • joe says:

        Oh, it does, Jem. It does. 🙂

      • herder says:

        I think that this sort of fits with the ideas behind your post. In my business I am essentially selling a service, it is kind of a given that the best advertising is word of mouth. But the flip side of that is that the worst kind of advertising is also word of mouth. If someone feels that you have done a good job they may or may not tell someone who needs the same type of service that you did a good job and that they should contact you. On the other hand, if they feel that they were hard done by you, they will tell everybody within earshot how defecient you were at what they felt was your job.

        That is a practical application of the notion that bad is, if not better than good, at least more likely to be acted upon.

        So when we see things that are good about the show we may or may not comment upon them, but when we see bad, the comments fly.

      • atcdave says:

        I guess we see that play out in how much more traffic we see here after the bad episodes than we do after the more popular ones. Things went absolutely nuts with that aweful ending of Mask and the three week layoff for the Olympics. Yet our traffic has fallen way off after a couple of relatively better episodes. While its fun when everyone is posting views and opinions, I guess I would prefer it for things to quiet down some more!

      • herder says:

        I see the fall off in traffic as a function of fatigue with the story line, something that TPTB should be very concerned about. One of the things that has suprised me recently is the lack of speculation about monday’s episode, from accounts that I have read it is supposed to be a good one and one that is more kind to shippers but there is very little anticipation or interest being expressed in posts about it.

      • Fake Empire says:

        I can honestly say that fatigue with the show has affected my recent posting habits. They have gone down as my enthusiasm with the show has waned. I hate to say that a big portion of me has become apathetic about the show, but it’s true. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company on these boards because I do; there are great people here.

      • atcdave says:

        I do understand that apathy plays into it too. You mention the lack of speculation for 3.11. I did do the Casey post which was meant to be for speculation, but it wasn’t heavily trafficked. We’ve heard some good things from critics (who often like darker stuff BTW), but the synopsis for 3.12 is a warning all will not be right after this episode; so the best we can expect is a partial fix this week. I’ve said a few times I expect we’ll see that Sarah does love Chuck, she will sacrifice for Chuck, her relationship with Shaw has more to do with keeping an eye on him because she doesn’t trust him; but I think the ending will be melancholy, Sarah’s character will be redeemed somewhat; but then she will leave Chuck (and possibly the agency) because she wants out of the lifestyle. That just isn’t a very exciting sounding conclusion. I expect things will be set right the following week (or two); but no matter how well written and acted 3.11 is, it will only provide a limited amount of satisfaction.

        I think most have similar expectations, so our enthusiasm is depressed. It will be an interesting test of the theory what happens with site traffic in the next couple weeks. I guess things did go nuts last year when the show was wrapping up on a high note. Hopefully, history will repeat.

      • amyabn says:

        I have to agree with Dave. I’m having a hard time getting jazzed for this upcoming episode (although pics of Zach in a towel is helping tremendously 😉 ). The next episode seems like it is the one to wrap some things up, so yet again, we are being dragged along for resolution, waiting, trying to maintain a positive attitude.

      • JLR says:

        This sentiment has been stated multiple times by various people (incl. me), but I enjoy this blog (& the people here) more than I do the show. In reviewing my recent posts, I note a certain schizophrenia in my tone. I’m trying so hard to hang on & see it through; some days I rationalize & try to convince myself I’m merely over-reacting, other days I’m more honest w/ myself & talk about the flaws I can’t help but see.

        It’s hard to be upbeat & optimistic about the show when we’ve gotten mostly gloom thus far. I hope things can be redeemed, but I remain skeptical.

      • Faith says:

        Depending on how epic Colonel 2.0 is and will be I think we’ll see that although bad is better than good, good can also get its fair amount of fanfare. If I’m not mistaken in my recollection, Colonel was one of the busiest, if not THE busiest day in the NBC Boards a year ago. Since I joined around that time, I can vouch for the good drawing me in 🙂

        But at the same time, there is something to be said about apathy. Because if they’ve successfully conditioned us to aversion (psychologist: Garcia) then the return of even Colonel won’t bring us back.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Hopefully, Faith, when there is Colonel 2.0, we’ll see Skinner’s principles of operant conditioning kick in, specifically positive reinforcement. People will feel rewarded for enduring; enthusiasm for the show will rise; viewers will return; and then this blog site will crash from all the activity. Well, ok, not the last one . . .


  7. JC says:

    I just wanted add my two cents don’t know if it’ll make sense because this way out of my area expertise.

    I understand the story the TPTB are trying to tell but the reactions I’m seeing from the characters aren’t believable to me. Now I know logic and human emotion don’t always add up but a lot of what I’m seeing doesn’t make sense to me.

    Throughout the whole series we’ve been shown Chuck is a pretty emotional guy. That’s been a key element this season about keeping those emotions in check and his failures to do so. But what makes no sense to me, is this emotional stability he has when it comes to Sarah. And what I mean is absolutely no anger for her at all. At least with Sarah we’ve seen that, she might not have said it directly but she expressed it in her own way.

    As for Sarah I think a lot of it has to do with what other people have said that the writers tried to do too much with Shaw. I think we’re supposed to believe she hates herself for making Chuck want to be a spy. But what never added up to me was running to the guy that’s sole purpose is to make Chuck into what she hates.

    • amyabn says:

      My thoughts on this are that they have pooched the whole kryptonite and spinach angle. Sarah has certainly been the spinach-she calms Chuck (Pink Slip, Mask, 3 Words, etc etc). She has not directly been the kryptonite that we were warned about (unless I’m missing something!). So that leads me to the question: why did they have to keep them apart? They haven’t even directly correlated that Sarah is Chuck’s spinach. There hasn’t been a “duh” moment when they realize that Shaw’s plan to isolate Chuck and make him a solo spy isn’t going to work without Sarah. Chuck has done better at flashing on demand as well. So again, why keep them apart? We’ve discussed every other angle out there, but I don’t know that we’ve examined it from this one. I really look forward to your comments-I thought about making it a separate entry, but didn’t think I could do it justice solo.

      • atcdave says:

        The only real Kryptonite I can think of is the Bo training, when Chuck couldn’t hurt Sarah. That and maybe the whole jumble of not knowing cause and effect in Pink Slip. Before the season even started many of us were speculating it would be as simple as: when Chuck and Sarah are doing well, she’s spinach; when they aren’t, she’s Kryptonite. Perhaps its a little more involved (Chuck breaks down when he’s deeply unhappy with himself too), but in a nutshell, we were right all along.

      • JC says:

        I wouldn’t even say the Bo scene was about her being his Kryptonite. That seem more of to me of him saying that he wouldn’t hurt her again, without saying it directly.

        But my original post wasn’t supposed to be about the C/S dynamic as much as the reason I’ve a had negative reaction to the season as a whole. It just seems like all the development is being rushed to move things along. The whole season has been about growth for everyone but it just doesn’t seem natural to me. I can only buy the emotionally damaged explanation for so long.

      • Jason says:

        jc – shaw sarah ended the ep together in 3.5,7,8,9,and sarah was in dc at the end of 3.10, IMO (and I am one of the worst offenders) it only seemed rushed to me because I did not want to believe it. another opinion of mine, TPTB did not have the courage to show sham sexing it up hence the ‘forced’ nature of sham. Finally, a last opinion again – yvonne really did not look like she wanted to give the role much, routh either for that matter, might have been coached to do it that way, but a 6 or 7 episode relationship of not giving it effort, well it starts to show after a while, more like a 3 month long toothache than a gunshot wound.

      • Jason says:

        dave – i thought the krytonite was almost exclusively in 3.8 where raif almost killed them all. what was odd to me or OOC was that chuck could not flash in 3.10, in theory, he was on emotional solid ground after dr morgan and chuck had a talk, but since sarah was around in 3.10 also, i suppose she could also be considered his krytonite there too – I thought him not being able to flash in 3.10 without the pill was sort of stupid though, but maybe 3.11 will explain that, although I doubt it?

      • Jason says:

        I think that ‘toothache’ called sham, has almost exclusively been responsible for the shows problems this season I think it sort of sucked some of the creative juices from the show too, it has been carried out so oddly, that it has caused fans to examine the show thru a much finer lens than normal trying to figure out WTF is going on, taking away the free pass the show often gets from fans in terms of plot holes.

      • JC says:

        Jason I wasn’t really referring to S/S relationship. I’m talking about the whole rushed nature of both Chuck and Sarah’s growth.

  8. Gord says:

    I’m not entirely sure that I agree completely with you. I have remembered a lot of good things in my life. However, you do make a pretty good argument.

    I have to admit that the bad ending to Mask made me forget about the good things in the episode when I watched it initially. It wasn’t until I watched the episode a second time that I noticed the good parts.

    I understand the story that they wanted to tell us in S3, I just think they have stretched it out a little too long.
    Also I wonder does it really make sense for TPTB to want us to remember S3 for the bad stuff?

    • Faith says:

      I think (and this is my opinion) they think that once we see the upswing and the light that we’ll value it more. Who knows lol.

      But as for the bad and good, much like Joe I think it requires a deeper insight and a far more together person to do so. Think of it as genotype (genes) versus phenotype (genetics+environment) if you will.

  9. Lucian says:

    IMO, the fundamental reason for growing apathy among fans / ratings decline is that the characters are simply less likable than they once were. I had all kinds of sympathy for two good people who were really trying to do the right thing in life and in their relationship, and the difficulties related to that. I have very little sympathy for two adults (at least chronologically) that aren’t mature enough or self-aware enough to figure out how to live a moderately healthy life, and have reasonably healthy adult relationships. This is the stuff of soap operas. The issue (for me) has very little to do with “darkness”. “People who can’t commit” is a reasonable storyline. Some people love it, I don’t. The premise for the first two seasons was, IMO, valid – Sarah didn’t want to get involved with her asset, particularly given her history of falling for every guy she works with. This season, the premises are really contrived – both “Prague” and “she didn’t fall in love with the spy”. When I can’t buy the premise, I don’t care about the characters. These are now self-inflicted wounds, and that just isn’t very entertaining.

    • atcdave says:

      Good comments Lucian, I think you’re largely correct; except I would offer that to me, when I refer to “darkness” that is exactly the thing I’m talking about. The characters have crossed a line where they become harder to like and respect; I think of that as “dark.” Given that I throw that word around a lot, I largely use it as shorthand for exactly what you describe.

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