S3 Revisited: Fake Names and Living The Lie

Living the Lie

Chuck, Living The Lie

This episode is about living the lie.  If you miss it they’ll tell you, again and again, and again.   Chuck has to go undercover as an alias, so he has to learn to live a lie.  Chuck and Hannah are getting close, but he can’t tell her about his true self the spy, so he’s living a lie.  Awesome is covering up with Ellie for Chuck, living a lie.  Casey, we find may have been living a lie longer than anyone thought.  If you miss that there’s a whole musical montage at the end where Chuck breaks Hannah’s heart because he can’t ever truly let her know him,  Sarah goes to Shaw in Castle and Chuck wanders the streets alone to the song Living a Lie.  Got it?  Our heroes are living a lie.  If you missed that 2×4 to the head we can discuss the rest of this finely crafted and highly popular episode after the jump.

Introductions Are Always Awkward. Maybe Not This Awkward

Ellie is upset.  Everyone seems to be keeping secrets from her, and Chuck, who used to be her closest confidant seems to have a whole other life she knows nothing about.  Where did all these lies come from?  They used to tell each other everything.  On Awesome’s advice Ellie decides to go confront Chuck about his new secret girlfriend and life, and steps right into it.  She gets what she wants, to meet Hannah.  She also gets the answer to what was probably going to be her first question to Chuck; “Is it serious?”  Well, we’ll see.  For now it looks serious as a heart attack.  The scene was however just pure light fun and funny Chuck.

Sarah, after last week allowing that she might allow something to possibly happen with Shaw is back on the defensive.  Sarah wants to keep it professional with Shaw.  She sees herself falling into old patterns with Shaw, and perhaps is starting to see her attraction to Chuck in that same light, attraction by proximity and opportunity rather than any sort of real feelings.  But duty calls, and it turns out that the apparent date is a mission to grab up one Rafe Gruber, the worlds top assassin.  It seems the Ring has hired him and Shaw wants to know why.  Chuck is to be given the task.  At first it looks like another of those Chuck moments of supreme self confidence ending comically, or he just doesn’t want Casey to torture Rafe if he can help it.  But very quickly Chuck turns out to be the world’s greatest method actor, taking on the character of the ruthless assassin, with a few touches of Chuck, effortlessly and setting the meeting.  And negating the reason for torturing Rafe.  The meeting is set, Chuck is set.  The mission is on.

Buymoria’s Greatest Lover

But first a visit to the BuyMore, where we see Big Mike relies a bit too much on Morgan now, and needs to move some crock-pots and where speculation about Chuck, Buymoria’s and Burbank’s greatest lady-killer is rampant.  Theories range from mind control drugs to sorcery.  Well those would be Jeffster’s go-to approaches for getting a lady-friend, but Chuck apparently just has to be Chuck.  Morgan is gone for an episode, sparing us the angst of him seeing his crush with his best friend.  I guess that angst will be saved for another day.

I’m Sure There’s A Grunt For That Look

Hannah is obviously quite smitten, and Chuck is loving it.  Heck, who wouldn’t.  Oh, right.  Casey thinks Chuck needs to get his priorities in line.  Mission first, ladyfeelings later.  Perhaps that’s why Casey decides Chuck needs some backup for his meeting.  I would say he’d come to regret that decision, but Casey being Casey, well it’s apparently just another day at the office.

Chuck is managing well, living the lie, much to Sarah’s chagrin.  Shaw continues to insinuate himself into her life as both potential suitor and confidant, but with Sarah it’s still about Chuck becoming too much like her, and her losing the part of herself where she knew who she was.  We can wonder when that was, and who she was when she decided that this was the person that was truly her, I think a lot of us have a guess that there was one morning cooking breakfast for her “husband” that might weigh heavily.

Back to the mission, this time it’s Casey, of all people who is the reason things go south and Chuck who has to step up and make the save.  One painful tooth extraction and a beat up SWAT team later, Casey is safe and Chuck’s cover is preserved.  And Casey is proud of Chuck.  Imagine that.  Well not the proud part, that he said it to Chuck’s face.

Remember when we were wondering when it was that Sarah decided who she was, that person she wants to remember?  I think we get a hint in the next scene.  Sarah and Shaw are covering Chuck’s cooking duties, preparing for his family dinner, and Sarah is beaming.  She’s back in Chuck’s house, making a meal, and she’s beaming.  Even Shaw notices.  Of course he thinks it’s about him.  But we’re once again reminded our heroes are living a lie.  By Hannah.

Hannah: Actually,  I’d like to make a toast. You know how, in life, there’s always something that just doesn’t line up? Like,  either you’re working at the wrong job or dating the wrong guy, or you’re eating some really bad meal? But right at this second, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I want to thank all of you for making me feel that way. Hope dessert doesn’t suck. Cheers.

Someone Else Is In Sarah’s Seat

We’re immediately treated to a quick look into both our heroes souls, as they realize they aren’t where they are supposed to be.  Chuck realizes he’s lying to Hannah, and Sarah realizes that it’s supposed to be her at the dinner table.  Her quick shutdown of Shaw’s latest attempt to insinuate himself tells us, and him, everything.  It wasn’t about him, the reason Sarah was so happy.  It was about Chuck, being in Chuck’s house and remembering a part of who she was.  Shaw will always come in second to Chuck in Sarah’s heart, whether she’ll admit it or not.  This actually helps explain some of our climax scene and a few to come.  Sarah says she doesn’t want to get involved and wants to separate her professional and personal life, but Shaw sees she’s really still in love with Chuck.  Shaw, more and more in both the romantic and the spy world can’t compete with Chuck Bartowski.  If you follow closely from this point on to the Final Exam Shaw never leaves Sarah alone with Chuck.  The one exception was Tic Tac, and he wasn’t around to prevent it.

The inevitable twist to the spy plot surfaces with our bad guy escaping our sort of bad guys tracking down Chuck at the Buy More and disabling his watch with Shaw being the target, and finally with Sarah breaking down and confiding in Shaw at just the perfect moment.  Sarah arrives at Shaw’s to unburden herself.  She has nobody left to talk to.  Shaw takes advantage of Sarah’s desperation to make it about them, clearly relishing the opportunity to know something of Sarah that “not even Chuck” knows.  Chuck of course sees and hears everything, Sarah’s disappointment with who he is becoming, her new trust in Shaw as her confidant, and her desire to remember who she was… Sarah is still confused on this count.  Chuck of course comes up with a plan on the fly, once again Shaw has to rely on Chuck to save the day, but he can’t resist pushing Chuck’s buttons, and the fight gets a bit too real.  Shaw knows Sarah’s real feelings, based on the overheard conversation, Chuck doesn’t.  Enter bad guy and the Deus Ex Machina known as Casey.  I’m not going to dwell on this scene, largely because it never comes up again, other than Chuck not being able to flash (and only 5 people in the world being able to make a 900 yard shot, and the timing, and all the other plot holes).  And quite frankly, though I know I’m supposed to feel great epic emotions, for me this scene fell flat.

So cue the end scenes.  Chuck goes to Ellie who lays down some truth.  You don’t love Hannah, you aren’t moving on.  Chuck does the right thing, horribly, and breaks Hannah’s heart.  Hannah does the right thing and lets Chuck have it with both barrels.  Sarah, deluding herself, believes she can find the same sort of connection she felt with Chuck with Shaw, because he got her to open up.  All to the tune Living a Lie.  What they don’t notice is that Ellie told Chuck he was still in love with Sarah, Hannah told Chuck he was lying to himself, which is why he could be a convincing liar, and Sarah’s attempt to bring something real to her Shaw relationship is all based on things she learned from Chuck.  Buy More for appliances and Bamboo Dragon for sizzling shrimp.  Sarah has no real, and had no self she wanted to know or remember before Chuck.  But living the lie will have to do for our heroes, for now.

If I wasn’t sure before I am now.  I’m a masochist.  I volunteered to re-watch 3.6 through 3.8, and then write about them.  OK, probably because neither Joe or Dave is enough of a masochist, and I like to pride myself on being able to see both sides.  Well I suppose I can see both sides, but as you may have noticed in my last few reviews my sympathies often get the better of me.  I’m afraid they will again, because I don’t see any way to discuss this episode and it’s impact on season three without talking about something I think is undeniable.  If Chuck is canceled, this is the episode that killed it.  It had accomplices.  The Mask and a two week break before this episode really didn’t help, but if you look at the numbers, not the ratings, the raw numbers underneath, from Operation Awesome to this episode Chuck pulled in a pretty steady 6.7 million viewers.  The episode after Fake Name it dropped to 6.3 and the next week to 5.8 million, and it has never recovered.  I think you can point to this episode, after which some 400,000 steady viewers tuned out, followed by another 500,000 the next week.  Rationalize all you want, people stuck with this show through the Chuckopalypse and the Olympic Break, and then started to tune out after this episode.  Why is a question I’ll leave for later.  I’m sure some of you will have some ideas, but lets keep it clean and courteous please.  As we always do.

As for my little review arc, I’m glad it’s done.  I’ll be reviewing Final Exam solo and then Other Guy along with both Joe and Dave.  As for this episode and this part of the season I think I got some new insight and was able to see the story TPTB were trying to tell a little more clearly.  Yes, the story was intrinsically angsty, and I think I’d find a lot to dislike about it even if it was done extremely well.  It was the direction I opposed even before the season started and the effect I feared happened.  Characters were hurt to the point that fans didn’t feel connected to them or the show anymore.  It wasn’t by any means a forgone conclusion, just a big risk.  If TPTB feel it was absolutely necessary to get to the back 6, which will be a different show, a show we’ll all love, I’ll respect their decision and see if I think it worth the trip.   As for me, these past days have left me a little less fond of the show, but oddly looking forward to 3.14, and hoping it is a piece of shippery fluff just to give us a break.

– Ernie


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 ChuckMeMondays, Observations, Season 3. Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to S3 Revisited: Fake Names and Living The Lie

  1. JC says:

    The name reveal didn’t bother me at the time. Its just like you said its never mentioned again, which bothers me. Clearly it was the main cause of Chuck not flashing, since he was muttering Sam over and over like Rain Man. The whole name reveal became a wasted opportunity.

  2. Jason says:

    the name reveal did not bother me at all either, I still think ali adler convinced TPTB to substitute that for sex on tv. The scene that bothered me is when sarah went to shaw in the castle at the end, that just plain and simple antagonized the fan base, added nothing to the show, if they took it out of the DVD, along as ended 3.7 with casey leaving the castle, and took out the taxi scene in 3.10 (again about 10 seconds) this season isn’t that bad for me.

    one of the most illogical things in the arc was not showing the next minute after sarah is alive and rafe is shot, that would have been super dramatic, who said what and when – by far a powerful real DRAMATIC moment lost (the other being what happened when chuck and shaw emerged from the burning building – what happened, did sarah rush to shaw, do nothing, obviously she did nothing toward chuck?

    • sd says:

      I think that moment before everyone–including Sarah–thought she was going to die…it was Sarah and her quick look to Shaw…and then her look to Chuck that said it all…if I may be a shipper for a moment…she was saying goodbye to the man she was in love with–Chuck. It was crushing.

      By the end…with Sarah in Castle with Shaw you just wanted to pull a Shaw from ep 12 and scream a girlish “nooooooo”

      • aardvark7734 says:

        I’m so happy someone else saw this the same way, since I almost never see it mentioned.

        The way this scene is shot when Sarah gives her mournful “goodbye” look, it’s Chuck’s back we’re seeing in near right frame, and her eye-line is on him, not Shaw.

        Yvonne was just wonderful here, as usual. In one look she says so many things, but it all melds together into an amalgam of love, misery and regret. In the moment right before she thought she would die, all of the clouds in her head cleared and she expressed the truth that remained.

        To say this moment was “crushing” is an understatement. It wasn’t quite as heart stopping as Sarah’s reaction to the exploding nerd herder in Best Friend, but for me, it was right up there in the vicinity. I thought Levi did a decent job of letting us see his inner heartbreak.

        But the way this scene was played, they really couldn’t show the scene afterward. Because the natural reaction for both Sarah and Chuck, having narrowly escaped losing the person most precious to them, would have sought out and clung to each other, consequences be damned. That’s the whole point of a crucible like this, no?

        It’s funny that to me, this was the second episode Ali Adler wrote that could have transitioned directly into a Chuck-Sarah reconciliation, the first being ‘Three Words’. As self-contained stories with their own hopeful resolutions, they would have worked much better. But they just don’t fit, structurally, within the sustained darkness of the season arc. IMHO.

      • Warp says:

        You guys are right – normal people embrace each other in such situations. Another similar moment is lost in e10 when Chuck nearly chokes the ring agent to death and both C & S realize what he nearly would have done. The mutual horror should have ended in some emotional (physical/verbal) reaction of either of them. Even more so, because this was otherwise a really good episode.

    • kg says:

      Exactly Jason

      In Lethal Weapon, both Chuck and Cole are down, and while Sarah might have flirted or felt something for Cole, he saw when the chips were on the table, her largest most sincere concern was for Chuck.

      I suppose they did similar scenes with Bryce in Break-Up and Ring?

      TPTB certainly dropped the ball in the examples you allude to. One way or the other we were robbed.

  3. gabbo says:

    This meme that Ali Adler substituted the name reveal for an overt scene of a sexual liason between Sarah and Shaw is silly. Why? Because you cannot retcon the final scene as anything but a sexual liason.

    Moreover, why is this about sex? Who cares? Does anyone think Sarah had pool privileges at the mansion in Pink Slip without a sexual relationship? Sex in the spy world, going back to at least Fleming’s spy novels, has been the coin of the realm.

    It is much more brutal for Sarah to share emotional intimacy with Shaw. The name reveal IS important because it stands not for sex, but emotions. It is the point where Sarah chooses to share real things about herself with Shaw, something she ferociously resisted with Chuck.

    On the other hand, if you want to put a positive spin on it, you can claim Adler was simply saying that the name you use is part of living the lie. Who, after all, is more real, Sarah or Sam?

    And, you know, I’d give Adler that if she wasn’t so determined to rag on the fans elsewhere in this episode. So I really CAN’T tell what Adler meant with the name reveal: emotional intimacy, living the lie or just a smack at the fans. Or maybe all three.

    And that brings us right back to the problem with Season 3. It’s an insane muddle of intentions, an endless series of blind alleys and rushed, unsteady storytelling. And it all seems designed to do nothing but delay putting Chuck and Sarah together until the very end of the original S3 run.

    • Jason says:

      gabbo – I actually agree with most of what you said, but think about this one thing, if we actually saw sham in bed on top of each other and the bed moving up and down – game, set, match, show over – so whether you think it is silly or not, I think the name may have been substituted – for some reason, the name reveal meant nothing to me, and as you said, the final scene in 3.8 – I knew what that meant – shark got jumped, there was no turning back – also 3.1 pool scene, couldn’t agree more with you – the important thing – the character chuck seems like he could care less, so why should fans? – but for some reason – lots of fans do – I think it is painful to watch your favorite characters hooking up – especially when it seems illogical, not right, lacking chemistry, plot, etc

      • weaselone says:

        It’s fairly obvious they wouldn’t show Sarah and Shaw in bed with it moving up and down to the rhythm of their love making. They didn’t even do that with Chuck and Jill, let alone Chuck and Hannah.

      • Jason says:

        the point is they have not made them look close in many ways, in 3.9 thru 3.11, not even a hint of 2-way warmth – the do it for me from sarah was quickly rebuffed in 3.9, he can wait in 3.10, the flirtations with chuck in 3.11, the getting off the bed when shaw got on in 3.11, then the ‘date’ that some didn’t like in 3.12 – which implied they had not done that b4 – made me sort of like that date rather than dislike it. Again, with just a little bit of editing, you would not even know they were a couple at all – I would guess less than one minute of cuts for the entire arc??????

  4. joe says:

    I’m typing this comment early, but sadly, I have to hang on to it until I can post at lunch.

    NOW I wish I had thought to write about this episode, and the previous one, The Mask. There are just tons of confused thoughts swirling in my head ATM, and you all know by now that this is how I work through them (so thanks for putting up with it). I watched American Hero out of order this weekend so that I could have enough time to write about it. The unintended effect was that I realized how badly I understood these two episodes. Surprise!

    There are two scenes you didn’t mention, Ernie. Chuck is so very effective – amazingly good – when he “interrogates” Rafe. He becomes the assassin. It’s spooky. Casey is proud of how Chuck handled the episode in the bar, acting as Rafe, and he should be. Chuck is now a certifiable super-spy in the Bryce-Cole mold. He handles everything, even the most difficult emergency. And when the agents come in to rescue Chuck and Casey, even though the rescue could easily blow their cover and the mission…

    Chuck. Kicks. Sarah.

    Who the hell is this guy? I saw Chuck kick Sarah in the gut the first time and wrote it off. Something wouldn’t let me believe that he would do that. Was it the intersect? If Chuck did not flatten Emmett in The Pink Slip (and he didn’t), that’s not an excuse. This is the same guy who lied to Ellie, ignored Morgan and burned Manoosh. For two and a half seasons I liked Chuck too much as a character to believe anything bad about him. At this point, I was not seeing what he’s been doing. I should have been ready to flatten him myself.

    The other scene is Sarah tieing up Rafe. He insults her, she wordlessly takes it. Huh? And Shaw is the one who comes to her defense??? You can hate him, but at least he’s a man about it. And in fact, Shaw and Hannah are the only characters showing some passion in this episode.

    When I first looked at The Fake Name I wrote that Sarah was lost. I must have been a little convincing, ’cause I think I saw others pick up on this. But I that’s not exactly right. Sarah’s not lost – she’s sick, physically ill at what’s been happening to Chuck. And THEN he kicks her in the stomach. IRL, I know the feeling. I can’t help but think of her as ill, now, when I think of the “My name is Sam.” scene in Shaw’s room.

    Yeah, it’s very upsetting that she gives this secret to Shaw and not to Chuck. But like I realized this weekend when Chuck lied to Ellie about Paris, ignored Morgan about Hannah and burned Manoosh, the Chuck we have isn’t worth the revelation. You can say that Shaw also isn’t (and I don’t trust him at this point in the story either), but I start to understand why sick-to-her-stomach Sarah chooses to do so. He is the only one left for her to talk to, and as rare as it is, she needs to talk now.

    I think my confusion before led me down a slightly wrong path. I kept pointing out how the date scene in American Hero and the handshake-let’s-be-friends scene in The Three Words bothered me viscerally. What really got to me was the idea that Sarah could know that Shaw was just a “type”, a notion full of emptiness and nothingness, and still deliberately, honestly and truthfully choose this nothing over Chuck. That HURT. After all, what what he supposed to do, besides become a spy like Bryce and like Shaw? Hannah told me why Sarah could do this, but I wasn’t listening. Chuck is NOT a nice guy. He is, in fact, despicable.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Joe, you’re right I probably should have mentioned Chuck kicking Sarah across the room. I had covered this before in a comment, but that flash was the last one he had until he admits to Morgan that he still loves Sarah. Also note that the next time Chuck tries to flash he sees Sarah lying unconscious on the floor. I thought that pretty telling. But I hadn’t considered your angle. Sarah is in the van worrying about Chuck living the lie. She then tells him to live the lie and he kicks her across the room. Then, watching Chuck at dinner, the next time she sees him, maybe she isn’t longing for that place at the table. Maybe she’s longing for the Chuck she considers gone. Or maybe a bit of both.

      • seb says:

        I think the Sarah watching the dinner scene wasn’t longing, it was disappointment if not disgust at what Chuck had become. Watch Hannah’s toast about how it feels she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, when in reality Chuck and Sarah know Chuck is deceiving Hannah.That disappointment prompted her visit to Shaw the next day

      • weaselone says:

        It’s both. She wishes she was there, and is disappointed about the changes in Chuck.

        The irony is that had Sarah been there Chuck wouldn’t have had to lie to Hannah and his family.

        Also, how ironic that Chuck’s a bad, bad man now because he’s lying to his family and friends when that’s all he’s been doing the last 2 seasons regarding his relationship with Sarah.

      • seb says:

        He lied, grudgingly, about his relationship with Sarah and at every opportunity told her how lousy he felt he had to lie.

        With Hannah he lied on his own accord, and didn’t seem to feel bad about it until he overheard the Shaw/Sarah conversation.

        Short version? His relationship with Hannah was no more real than his relationship with Sarah was. That after 2 1/2 years of Chuck craving a real relationship. He was doing to Hannah exactly what he was accusing Sarah of doing to him through S1 and parts of S2.

        PS nobody is “dumping” on Chuck. But failing to acknowledge this is his “rock bottom” episode is a bit myopic. Nobody hits rock bottom in a likable way, some parts of Chuck’s rock bottom are by definition ugly.

      • weaselone says:

        Chuck doesn’t look too happy during his dinner with Hannah and his family.

        And yes, it is his rock bottom episode. It’s the point where he realizes that the spy life is coming at too high a price to his friends, family, and those around him. He deems that no longer acceptable and sets about changing things and becoming a spy on his own terms. Chuck decides to change course not because he’s become despicable and changed, but because he hasn’t. He’s still that guy. He’s still Chuck.

    • weaselone says:

      Joe, I think you’re going overboard with the criticism of Chuck here.

      Of course he kicked Sarah, she’d just told him to sell it. That means actually fighting, not giving her a peck on the cheek and pulling punches.

      Of course he lied to Ellie about Paris. What else could he have done? Should he have told her that he’s actually a secret agent and went to Paris on assignment, hoping that Beckman/Shaw wouldn’t toss her into a deep dark hole along with Awesome?

      As for Manoush. I would have burned Manoush and had precious little second thought about it. The man was designing a weapon for a fricken rogue espionage fraction, but that wasn’t enough. He one upped himself by double crossing them and trying to sell the weapon to a who’s who of terrorists, mercenary commanders, and petty despots. You could muster some sympathy for the guy if he has just been developing the tech for the Ring, not knowing exactly who they were, but he double crossed them and tried to sell it to dangerous foreign leaders. You could never trust him to keep his word, because he has a history of perfidy, and he exercises no moral discernment when selecting buyers. He had to go in the hole. Chuck needing to drown his sorrow and guilt in scotch makes him a better man than I.

      As for ignoring Morgan. Well, this is Morgan we’re talking about. Ignore is likely a relative term.
      I also can’t believe you refer Shaw as a man. He beats down a restrained prisoner. The only way he could possible be more pathetic is if he were to gun down women and children from a helicopter in order to increase his kill count.

      Chuck’s the one who mans up in this episode. He does what needs to be done for the mission, comes as clean as he can to Elie, and he dumps Hannah despite knowing the reaction and how it would make him look instead of easing his way out of the relationship.

      • Merve says:

        I agree with almost everything you said here. Chuck really did man up in this episode. Heck, the only reason he even laid a finger on Shaw was to maintain his cover.

        But as far as his relationship with Morgan goes, I think that Chuck wasn’t being a good friend. I mean, in “Nacho Sampler” and “Mask,” he didn’t even make an effort to come up with believable lies to fool Morgan; he repeatedly dismissed Morgan’s concerns. That was one of the few things that bothered me about Chuck’s behaviour this season. Almost everything else he did, he did because it was the right thing to do.

      • joe says:

        Weasel, what you say is exactly right! But consider that what you’ve got here is a description of Chuck slip-sliding away instead of falling at breakneck speed down a hole. That slipping gives us just enough mental opportunity for someone – us – to reach out and grab the outstretched hand.

        The scene with Ellie is just that, isn’t it?

        As for Shaw, okay. He’s not a paragon either, especially when he’s maniacal, and I’m not saying that I suddenly like the character. I don’t. At least he stood up for Sarah, though, even when she couldn’t and wouldn’t. What does he look like through her eyes, I wonder?

      • weaselone says:

        You’re right, he wasn’t being a good friend. Still, I can’t help but think the generally dumping on Chuck stems from the view of Chuck we get this season. Chuck is largely viewed by the audience through other characters in contrast to him viewing the world as was the case last season. Sarah, Awesome, Ellie, Morgan, and Hannah all give negative interpretations, much of it colored by the incompleteness of their knowledge, or their general negative interpretations of his action as opposed to any sort of sympathy. Sympathy and pride are left to Casey and Shaw.

      • Jason says:

        there is an wonderful tragic irony to 3.8 that I saw in the re-watch – all chuck tried to do with hannah is reconnect with his past while struggling to grow in sarah’s world by becoming a spy – all sarah does with shaw is reconnect with her world, while struggling with her notion’s of chuck’s world to chuck’s journey – funny – up until reviewing 3.8, I would have said chuck is way ahead of sarah, but in the end, it may be chuck who struggles the longest, the hardest with sarah’s world? I honestly look with anticipation how the spy vs real world issue will be dealt with, I really hope TPTB nail it with a great story!

      • JC says:

        I have to agree with weaselone. None of Chuck’s actions really seemed that bad to me maybe except the Hannah. The Manoosh situation bothered me from the beginning as I never saw anything wrong with it.

        Maybe that’s the problem with this season I’m being told things that I’m not seeing as a viewer.

      • Lucian says:

        I have to chime in on the side of Chuck. Looking at all his actions, they seem like those of a good guy attempting to do a tough job. I don’t see “despicable”. He has attempted to move on with Hannah, but fairly quickly figures out that will never work and does the most honorable thing he can and ends it. Chuck’s biggest problem is that he niavely thought he could have both a spy life and a “real” life. He is now understanding how difficult that really is.

    • Jason says:

      joe – is your job in corportate america – I worked in defense contracting for about 15 years, what shaw did in season 3 is a felony, I had a co-worker leave our building in handcuffs – no screwing around – some of the stuff we did was ‘black’ – I was on lesser stuff usually that can be talked about now – SR71 spy plane etc – but honestly – shaw acted perversely in 3.7 and 3.8 – no honor what so ever – not only that, it is not gentlemanly to take advantage of someone when they are vulnerable – shaw did 3 times in 3.8 – raif handcuffed, sarah with her guard down as she was heartbroken over chuck and chuck laying on the ground getting pummeled by a vereran assassin who outweighed him by 75 lbs and was pretending. Didn’t your mother teach you that is not nice?

      • Warp says:

        Jason – Shaw simply sucks!
        Someone like him cannot normally get a leading position in whatever profession. As Chuck said later on, this guy’s psyche is like swiss chesse.

        And by the way, it started in e4, when he shot the ring-lady in the back (kill shot with little reason)

      • cas says:

        Well, thats “super” spy Shaw for you. He makes sure he is behind you when he shoots you, He waits until you’re handcuffed when he punches you, and he uses a civilian (morgan) as a human shield to protect himself.

      • joe says:

        Jason, I’ve been mostly a NASA contractor for 30 years, and in Aerospace & more generically, telecommunications for the last 15 or so. So yes, I recognize that Shaw went so far over the line it was not reality.

        Not a problem in a fantasy though. Right? 😉

        If the question was, should we see anything of value in his actions here, then I think that yes, we should. From Sarah’s POV what he does is STILL highly illegal and stupid and immoral and it was for her sake. I think it’s supposed to count for something (in the story. Yup – mom taught me that punching a restrained hit man is not a nice thing to do!).

      • Jason says:

        that word fantasy is correct joe, but if you are going to mess with the franchise (chuck / sarah in this case) for 13 episodes you need to appeal to the viewers ability to ‘fantasize’, catch our imagination with the PLI’s, such that you might not want to base the attraction on borderline sexual harrasment and prisoner abuse – then show almost no mutual warmth between the PLI pair over 6 episodes on screen EVER, i.e. when shaw looked warm, yvonne looked ready to vomit, when yvonne looks warm, shaw looks like he is astro-projecting into some alternate ‘wooden’ reality, or at times, like in 3.9’s honeymoon hotel scene, when the lady said they made a cute couple, they both looked ready to hurl & quickly moved on as soon as she left. This is not an appealing ‘fantasy’, just plain and simply a lousy story.

      • BDaddyDL says:

        “astro-projecting into some alternate ‘wooden’ reality”

        this has to be one of the greatest lines I have ever seen, of course the fact that I agree might have something to do with it.

      • kg says:

        What about BG Diane Beckman? She totally bought Shaw’s bullshit act from the beginning and sounded like an idiot in Other Guy praising him as a consummate professional.

        If not for Morgan alerting Chuck and Casey, Sarah would be sleeping with the fishes and Shaw would have gutted the CIA for the Ring.

        Casey may have been tough with Chuck for the most part, but he’s the member of team B exhibiting the most objectivity.

        Sarah shutting the lap top in the hotel room was the right thing to do and not just because she wanted to make love with Chuck. Beckman deserved that.

        She might be a tad overworked herself and could use a little herself. TPTB need to bring back Roan Montgomery.

    • Warp says:

      Joe, despite your rather true description of how this episode seems to be, I have to side with Weaselone in this one:
      Yes, Chuck is despicable – but he realizes it himself – So this episode is the first one where Chuck sees how far he strayed (I refer to my yesterday’s post on #7 here) and he brakes for the first time (ending the “lie” with Hannah). Because it’s an emergency braking, it’s damaging – but Chuck takes most damage on himself (getting it right in the eye from Hannah). I think this shows some of Chuck’s (former) greatness. He did it the hard way to limit the damage and as most of the time with Sarah before he took the weight of his decision and took responsibility.
      So despite the disgust we feel towards Chuck in those sad episodes 5-8, this one is the first that gives us hope for the time to come and shows the first step of Chuck’s redemption!

      8: End the Lie with Hannah (and Ellie for that matter)
      9: Confide in Morgan
      10: Show (Sarah) that loyalty to your friends is more important than a badge and title
      11: Make it clear that “you are not one of them and will never be”
      12: Selflessly rescue your greatest rival – and expect him to do the same for yourself
      13: Do something that you would never do – to protect the reason why you do all this shit

      So for me Chuck is quite purified at the beginning of 3.14. 😉

      And for the “plot holes”: I still wonder how one could end up in the forehead of Rafe – did he look out of the window at that critical moment? And it’s certainly the entry wound, otherwise they all would’ve been covered in brain matter (thanks Morgan).

      • Warp says:

        Oh, I forgot to comment on the kicking – I overlooked it when I first watched e8 and I still don’t really get it – so, I pretend it never happened…

        But watching it again, I think it shows us another no-win situation brought on by Sarah – Only this time she took the pain, to underline her self-hatred about what Chuck has become.
        That Sarah is at her very own personal bottom in this episode is shown later on, when she gives up and “tries” to die.

      • joe says:

        I absolutely agree, Warp. By ending my above screed where I did, I didn’t say that Chuck starts his redemption the very moment Hannah tells him where to go. I should have.

        And by concentrating my verbal ire on Chuck I didn’t highlight the very point you do – that Sarah feels responsible. That’s exactly why I chose “sick-to-hers-stomach” to describe it.

        Man, I love this discussion. Not bad for an episode that left us so cold.

      • Waverly says:

        Regarding the kicking, I didn’t think it was meant to mean anything particularly deep about Sarah’s feelings.

        I thought of it as simply another demonstration of how far professionals will go to get the job done, even at the expense of their own bodies.

        Just like Casey’s willingness to lose a tooth. I was surprised he was so casual about it when talking with Chuck afterwards.

      • kg says:

        Well done Warp. And one more point to 12.

        Not only selflessly rescue your greatest rival because the one you love cares for him, but you lock down and protect the reason why you do all this shit from trying to rescue him and possibly harming herself.

    • Crumby says:

      A lot bothered me with Chuck this season until Beard. Don’t get me wrong I love Chuck! Who doesn’t?! But the choices he made this season didn’t always pleased me…
      Of course he always has good reasons for doing what he’s doing, but often I either didn’t like how he did it or how he didn’t seem to care about it (at least not care enough compared to the Chuck we used to know).

      He felt worst about all of the spy life drawbacks when he wasn’t responsible for any of it, than now that it’s his choice to be part of it.

      For example: his lie to Ellie about Paris. Yes he had to lie to protect her. But he doesn’t have to think it’s ok to do it or have to do it. He never thought it was ok. But now here what he says to Awesome “Look, buddy, I understand that the lying is very difficult at this point right now, but trust me, it gets easier.” What?! That’s your advice Chuck?! The guy that has always complained about being dragged in the spy world, that always has been too trusting, and couldn’t get used to the all fake and lying things?! I mean, he doesn’t even seem sorry to say that. He is actually serious. I mean he’s the reason why Awesome has to lie, and the only thing he can tell him is “don’t worry you’ll get used to it.”

      I didn’t like how Chuck treated Morgan, he was careless, he didn’t even try at some point. Same thing with Awesome. I know Awesome has been a little whinning and stuff, but the guy doesn’t have a Casey or a Sarah to protect him 24/7 and listen to his “lady feelings” all day long. All he has was Chuck. And Chuck was that reassuring or helpful.

      I don’t know, sometimes I just feel like we cut way more slack to Chuck than to Sarah.
      Maybe it’s because he got a LI that was likeable, and she didn’t. Plus he didn’t have to be in every Shaw scene until the end.
      But at least she didn’t play Shaw. He knew what he was getting into (except for the killing his wife part ;p), Hannah on the other end was innocent.

      Anyway, Chuck’s coming back in the next episode!

      • joe says:

        High five, Crumby. That’s exactly what I’m feeling ATM.

      • kg says:


        I understand what you’re saying, but I get the sense that Chuck feels caught in the middle of his family/real life and his new (and harder than he originally thought) spy life.

        I don’t want to apologize for Chuck, but he’s feeling the pressure and that’s why that’s the best he can come up with at the time for Awesome. That’s almost an admission that he’s thrown up his hands and practically given up.

        And I think that remark was also a product of Casey and Sarah’s three-year influence rubbing off on him. I immediately thought of them when I first watched that ep.

    • Lucian says:

      Joe- I think you may be a victim of “Finnegan’s Wake” syndrome – that is, if you analyze it long enough and hard enough it actually is enjoyable, or at least makes sense.

      • joe says:

        Oh boy! I don’t think I could ever figure out James Joyce! 😉

      • kg says:

        Joe I really do appreciate where you’re coming from, but buddy don’t forget that Hannah pursued Chuck all the way. I admit he didn’t do a great job of stopping her, but hey, he’s a guy and she’s an attractive brunette.

        And Fake Name wasn’t the first time she chastised and scolded him. She also did it in the Mask at the museum when she thought he hung her out to dry on the instal to run after Sarah. He had no plausible explanation for the time gap in his trip to Dubai. Obviously, Hannah didn’t no everything, but Chuck was exhibiting strange behavior. She wasn’t blind to it.

        It was only after Chuck saved her life that she pursued/fell for him again. Chuck’s biggest mistake was simply not ignoring her advances.

        I agree with the other guys. He manned up, took it in the shorts and dumped Hannah before it got worse.

        Innocent. OK. But she’s not blind. She saw the warning signs in Mask and Nacho Sampler. And ignorned them.

  5. Merve says:

    Call me crazy, but I liked this episode. (But to be fair, the only episode of Chuck that I dislike is “Final Exam.”) With all the angst and drama it’s sometimes easy to forget that Chuck is a comedy, and this episode was very funny. I haven’t watched it in a while, so it’s hard for me to remember every joke, but I remember laughing a lot.

    Sarah’s name reveal didn’t bother me. In “Cougars,” Chuck all but said that he didn’t care to know about Sarah’s past. But what did bother me was the scene in Castle at the end of the episode. If her attempted relationship with Shaw wasn’t based on anything “real,” why was she bringing him “real” things (i.e. the crock pots and the sizzling shrimp) from her life with Chuck? That, if anything, felt like a betrayal on Sarah’s part. (Okay, maybe if it had just been the crock pots, I would have been fine with it because they were only introduced for the purposes of this episode, but sizzling shrimp is something special that she discovered because of Morgan and Chuck.)

    That being said, the pure awesomeness of Chuck impersonating the assassin is what made this episode good (or in many fans’ eyes, what redeemed it from being worse than “Mask”). Aliases and assumed identities are just plain fun. It sounds like we’re going to be seeing some of that stuff in “Honeymooners,” and I hope that it’s something that TPTB keep in mind for the future.

    • Paul says:

      Merve, there has been much discussion about the last scene. Many people believe that the things Sarah brings to Shaw in Castle are kind of tipping her hand a bit. She’s bringing things that remind her of Chuck. And she’s trying to find in Shaw what she found in Chuck. I think Ernie is right in that Shaw will always be second to Chuck in her heart….but second place right now is good enough when the first place guys isn’t even trying to race….

      • seb says:

        TPTB intended Shaw’s punching Rafe to be “chivalrous”, case in point Sarah’s expression. She wasn’t really horrified about it. It’s a(nother) TV cliche, “hero”
        defends the “honor” of the woman he’s courting

        As to Shaw/Chuck … Chuck pretty much punched him as hard as he could at the start of the fight. When somebody punches you generally you don’t stop fighting them cause you ‘re stronger than them. Plus they needed Shaw and Chuck on the ground and “incapacitated” for when Rafe made his entrance.

        I know the problems people had with those scenes, I ‘ve read all the posts from people saying Shaw is abusive etc etc. But IMO that wasn’t what TPTB tried to show.

      • weaselone says:

        There’s nothing chivalrous about it. Rafe was deliberately goading in order to provoke a reaction. Sarah ignored him, but Shaw being the top notch spy he is succumbed to the taunting. It’s not as though Sarah was physically incapable of retaliating, and she actually did so, although in a far more subdued manner. Shaw went in and beat on a restrained man.

        On the flip side. If it had been Chuck that had gone in and beat down a restrained prisoner, Sarah would have been revolted. The woman needs to stop engaging in moral double standards.

      • Merve says:

        Paul, I get that she might have been trying to find something “real” with Shaw, but it still felt like a betrayal to me that she gave him the very things that wouldn’t be in her life without Chuck. I understand that the only “real” things in her life are ultimately linked to Chuck, and there might not be any other options for her in attempt to find something “real” with Shaw. But that brings me to the thing that bothered me about Sarah’s journey this season. If Sarah can only find “reality” through Chuck and that is indeed her only option, then her rediscovery of that “reality” with Chuck carries little weight.

    • Jason says:

      merve – if any and all shaw sarah romance scenes are out of the arc, it really isn’t too bad, trouble is those scenes REPLACE the best stuff from season 1 / 2 – the heartwarming water fountain stuff that many did not even realize they liked until they watched a season without any of it.

    • weaselone says:

      I actually liked the episode for the most part. I felt Chuck as Rafe, along with Casey were fairly comical as well as compelling. The name reveal was an irritation, but like you I consider it ultimately trivial given Chuck’s prior position. The only problem was that it was a deliberate swipe at a portion of the fan base. Chuck hit bottom in this episode, and his taking the first and ultimately most humiliating and painful steps back towards righteousness was also good television.

      And as a side note. The crock pots are also referenced again in a later episode indirectly by Big Mike who once more has to put on cooking demonstrations.

  6. BeCoolBoy says:

    Allow me to inject, if I may…

    We now know, via Fedak, the purpose of the entire season was to have Chuck and Sarah in a hotel room in Paris in the last scene of e13.

    So, in other words, the entire season is means to justify the end. And when you look at it from that perspective, you realize the awful truth: The entire season is filler. One artificial delay after another. One phony obstacle after another. One blind alley after another. One more round of PLIs…

    We learned nothing about Chuck in Season 3 that we didn’t know at the end of Season 2.

    To wit: He’s got a zillion reasons for being a spy, but all Chuck really wants is Sarah. He’s got a zillion flaws, but in the end he’s a good guy with a good mind and a good heart. And Chuck is no better a spy NOW than he was when he got reintersected. His best moments and most effective moments are when he DOESN’T use the Intersect. In other words, as Sarah said in Ring: “You ARE that guy.”

    To wit: We learned nothing about Sarah in Season 3 that we didn’t know at the end of Season 2. She’s a good spy who knows nothing of the real world. And she can’t have a real life in or out of the spy business without Chuck. And as Chuck pointed out in Ring, she “belongs out there saving the world.”

    So a season TPTB claimed would be great because, with only 13 episodes, there’d be no room for filler or fluff, ended up with an entire season of filler and fluff.

    Chuck, the TV show, at the end of S3E13 is EXACTLY where it could have been at the beginning of S3E1 if TPTB has chosen to start from there. And Mask and Fake Name show how desperate TPTB were filling and fluffing to invent stuff to fill the time until the last scene of Other Guy.

    • seb says:

      Yeah that was sorta kinda what I was saying in another post in another thread. If they were so hellbent on doing an epic we ‘re together scene in Paris they could have simply gone Oh we ‘re running away, Oh dang we can’t run away but hey since we ‘re in Paris lets get a hotel room and make out for the weekend before heading back to LA.

      Done and Done, takes an episode, then you can tell a story people might want to watch. Plus the angst would have been a lot more effective if Chuck and Sarah where in a relationship during it. I mean the actual angst of Chuck changing, Sarah being unable to deal with it, Chuck and Sarah dealing with it, Sarah opening up in the process blah blah not the PLIs. That would have made a good story.

    • Jason says:

      becool – I have been as critical as anyone about S3 – but I do think chuck no longer will have any ‘murder dreams’ about sarah knifing him in his sleep – he understands how hard it is to kill, to play marks, to burn marks, to lie

      but more importantly (I hope) sarah has also learned their is no such thing as perfect in the real world, real has shades of grey, tradeoffs, and decisions, and that ultimately it isn’t that easy being ‘normal’ or chuck either – she almost lost chuck due to her own misconcpetions of what chuck was or wasn’t

      so I think they have grown – plus – sarah will think twice the next time some hunky super spy tells her my desert is contained within yours – holy cow?

      • BeCoolBoy says:

        No, he’s gonna have nightmares about Shaw. How’s that progress? If you gotta have nightmares, who do you want to be the star of them? I’ll go with Sarah everytime, even with the knife.

    • HenryH says:

      BCB: I think there may be ONE other factor here. TPTB have said that they were essentially reinventing the show within the shell of the existing Chuck universe. So they essentially retold all of Season 1/2 in 13 episodes.

      TPTB clearly thought the existing Chuck viewer base and fan base would stand still while they retold the story again in an attempt to draw a new audience.

      It’s possible we MIGHT have stood for it if the stories were well done as they reran seasons 1/2. But the stories were very badly told. Shaw wasn’t as credible as spy or love as Bryce or Cole. Hannah was fine, but not better than Lou. The Ring, if anything, seemed dumber than Fulcrum. And all of the B characters came and went as budgets permitted.

      So TPTB gambled and lost. They didn’t get many new viewers, many old fans peeled away and Chuck is back on the bubble.

      Rather depressing, frankly. And we didn’t even get anything new about Sarah’s eating habits. Season one gave us her dislike of olive. Season two her fondness for pickles. Season 3? Nothing… 🙂

      • seb says:

        We did get new Sarah info in S3. Crockpots are an aphrodisiac for her. What do you think will happen to all the crockpots Big Mike had leftover in Other Guy? Damn straight, Chuck is buying them all up.

      • weaselone says:

        Well, I think we learned that she really does like chinese take out from the Bamboo Dragon. Plus, the season is still only late middle-aged. Maybe some new culinary desire will be made known.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      BCB, it would be very emotionally satisfying to agree with you hook, line and sinker. Taking a position like this offers a simple sentiment to hang my disappointment and bitterness on.

      But I can’t do it, because as much as I begrudge admitting it, there were credible places to go in the story they selected for this season and they even touched on some of them.

      Chuck is not the same guy he was at the end of ‘The Ring’. He’s weathered and beaten up a little. He’s compromised his ideals to achieve his goals and is now more fully aware of the costs involved with being a spy. He’s gained some hard-earned self confidence and can muster a fight for what he wants. And finally, it has been painfully brought to his attention the important place Sarah holds in his future.

      Sarah is not the same woman she was at the end of ‘The Ring’. She was in love with a man who represented an ideal for her, a beacon for what she unconsciously craved. But she couldn’t see he was a man unfulfilled, and that her impulsive plan to run with him would have eventually ended with heartbreak and regret. In accepting the man Chuck had actually become (in the very last seconds of 3.13) rather than clinging to the one she idolized, Sarah chooses a path of accommodation rather than resistance.

      You can beat my argument to death by using the show’s own scenes against me. I think many of the more powerful dramatic points that could have been exploited were squandered or lost. But, for what was shown, both characters are better suited to go forward together today than they were at the end of S2.

      • BeCoolBoy says:

        aardvard-Well, I guess it depends on what you want to accept. Sarah continues to insist that he’s still “my Chuck” and “the guy she fell for.” Chuck says he “always has” been in love with Sarah.

        So at least as far as TPTB are concerned, Chuck and Sarah are still the same people they were.

      • Merve says:

        BeCoolBoy, that might not be true if the nature of their relationship and their feelings for each other has changed. I think I’ve written elsewhere that people and their relationships can mature without altering their essential natures, and that’s what has happened to Chuck and Sarah. At least, that’s the impression that I got from watching “American Hero” and “Other Guy.” Maybe when “Honeymooners” airs, I’ll be convinced that nothing at all has changed, but until then, I’m going to stick with my original impression.

    • kg says:

      BCB your point also reminds me of the scene in the restaurant of Final Exam. Chuck asks Sarah what then if he doesn’t pass. She answers, “Then you’ll be Chuck and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

      The problem was Chuck was convinced that for them to be together he had to become a spy. And his problem all along was that all his family and friends believed in him. He had trouble believing in himself. He eventually realizes this in his “drunker haze” in Other Guy.

  7. JC says:

    Maybe the writers lost something here with me because I still can’t see Chuck’s actions up to this point as horrible. Nothing he did benefited himself except Hannah.

    Over the course of two seasons, I saw Sarah do the same things and even worse but nobody questioned her. Chuck and the audience knew that what she did was completely different than who she was. That she was still a good person. Sure there were moments of doubt but nothing that lasted an entire season.

    Now we get season 3 and Chuck is doing some of the same things we’ve seen Sarah do and yet everyone sees him in the worst possible light. Nobody had faith or trust in him that he was still that guy.

    People have talked about how Sarah had no one to confide in anymore. Well who does Chuck have? Sarah pulled away from him, Casey and feelings don’t mix, Shaw’s not an option, Awesome is terrified by the spy world, Morgan and Ellie knowing would put them in danger. So its Chuck vs World.

    • joe says:

      Two days ago I was feeling exactly the same, JC.

      Sorry, I don’t mean to sound all arrogant and “I AM ENLIGHTENED NOW!” on you. But I’ve spent all season with those exact thoughts (especially, “Chuck is still Chuck – what is Sarah doing with Shaw???”) until American Hero came along, and I feel the urgent need to explain myself to you, even as I explain it to myself.

      I could not understand or explain Sarah – I could not accept her admitting Shaw into her life in any way, shape or form while shutting out Chuck. It made everything that Dave and Ernie and others said about the characters being destroyed true. ALL the episodes of S3 made no sense to me after the Shaw-Sarah date, and after she kisses him when he heads off to be the “American Hero”.

      Chuck had done everything asked of him, right? What was there left to do?

      He hadn’t. The intersect had done the heavy lifting; Chuck had taken a powder. When Shaw said “You blew it.”, he should have added “And you’re a fraud.” That’s what Hannah told him, too. Sarah essentially dies for two seconds because of her complicity in Chuck’s disappearance.

      I didn’t really notice that the Chuck we knew was gone, even in Nacho Sampler. I like the guy too much and kept making excuses, saying that he had just changed (and matured) a little. Not so. Ellie is terse with him for a reason, and it was my blind spot. What’s so exciting to me now is the idea that there was quite a bit in the next few episodes that I missed – that would be Chuck coming back.

      Okay. I’m screeding again. You probably did see that, JC, and I certainly saw some of it the first time through. But not the depths of Chuck’s fall or of Sarah’s desperation.

      For me it actually starts to explain her interactions with Shaw.

      Oh! Weaselone and you both bring up Sarah’s double standard. I don’t think that’s it. It’s not Sarah’s standards that are the question here. It’s the idea that she’s destroyed CHUCK’s standards that matters more. She thinks she’s responsible.

      • JC says:

        You didn’t come arrogant at all Joe, that’s why I come here to get different perspectives on things.

        I guess I never saw the old Chuck was gone, its that he created two Chucks. The spy world one of Agent Carmichael and the Chuck we knew. I even saw those two versions coming together at certain points. The way he tells Awesome lying gets easier and his freaking out to Sarah in the bar before he kicked her. Even the Hannah relationship showed that, Agent Chuck knew it was wrong but old Chuck wanted it. IMO by the end of Beard he reconciled those two persona’s into a better confident version of season 1&2 Chuck.

        Now with regards to the Intersect I agree, he did rely on it too much. We kinda of see that in Tic Tac at the end. What a full blown Intersect would be like. He used it as a crutch instead of the tool it is. I do like how he used both the Intersect and his own abilities in Am Hero.

        I never thought of Sarah as having a double standard as much as no faith or trust in him after Mask. She never even thinks of anything but the worst possible outcome and never lets him explain.

        I guess this ties into one of my other major problems this season. Chuck’s inability to get angry. Chuck can get punched,kicked physically and emotionally with no repercussions. Right or wrong he takes it like an emotional black hole.

      • Josh says:

        Double standards are normal when you ‘re in love with somebody and have them on a pedestal, like Sarah did with Chuck.

        There’s a pretty easy simile … think of a mother/father and their child. Would the mother/father want their child to make the exact same mistakes they made, especially when they know specific mistakes were unrecoverable? Or would they try to protect their child from making them?

        That’s what Sarah was doing after the ring. She tried to protect Chuck from the mistakes she had made in her life (while admittedly she didn’t have a choice, she was offering Chuck one). Then she got a stab in the heart in the shape of Chuck’s I m doing this cause you convinced me to do it video speech. Then she started seeing everything she held dear in Chuck disappearing right in front of her eyes.

      • JC says:


        I just want to add one more thing and Ernie mentioned somewhere else. We as the audience were left with too much to fill in on our own.

        Look at all the opinions on Chuck’s actions. Burning Manoosh, pulling Casey’s tooth, kicking Sarah at the bar. I never saw those as bad but I guess we were supposed to.
        The same goes with Shaw punching Rafe? Was that supposed to be noble or psychotic?
        Also with the Chuck killing issue. I assume she alright with it to a certain degree.

    • Crumby says:

      JC I wanted to try answer you about that because that’s something that bothered me when I first watch the episodes. I said in another post that the choices Chuck made this season didn’t always pleased me… And I really felt like Chuck was back only in Beard, or the end of Fake Name when he goes to Ellie.

      I didn’t see Chuck’s actions as wrong or horrible (except for the Hannah thing, but people aren’t perfect and make mistake, Chuck does too, and I’m completely OK with that, especially because he did the right thing in the end). I can understand why he did what he did. I understand that he couldn’t turn his back on helping people and saving the world when he had those unique incredible abilities. I’ve always understood that he had to lie to the people around him to protect them. I knew he had to burn Manoosh and I was OK with that. Etc. etc.

      My problem wasn’t WHY he did those things. My problem was HOW. How could Chuck do those things the way he did them? How could he just accept them that way? Like you stated we “saw Sarah do the same things and even worse but nobody questioned her.” Because that was always who she was. She was an agent from the beginning. We understood she had to do those things. And we probably even were glad that she was there to do them, because it protected Chuck, not just by keeping him alive but also by sparing him a lot of the spy life drawbacks.

      Anyway, I’m gonna quote one of my previous post, Chuck “always has good reasons for doing what he’s doing, but often I either didn’t like how he did it or how he didn’t seem to care about it (at least not care enough compared to the Chuck we used to know).
      He felt worst about all of the spy life drawbacks when he wasn’t responsible for any of it, than now that it’s his choice to be part of it.”

      In Ring, Chuck refused the spy life.
      “- I’m just not that guy.
      – How many times do you have to be a hero to realize that you are that guy?
      – But I want more, Sarah. I want a life. I want a real life.”
      The issue wasn’t about being a spy, it was about not having a real life. Some argued that he reintersected for Sarah. Because he thought she wanted him to be that guy. Because he loved her. That’s what he said to his dad.
      “- Let her go. You’ve done your part.
      – No, I have to go.
      – No… no, you don’t. You’re not a spy.
      – Dad… I love her.”

      So we’re left with to possibilities: 1/ he reintersected because that was the right thing to do, and that’s also why he decided to become a spy; or 2/ he reintersected because of Sarah. Maybe a little bit of both. But why would Chuck, who wanted so badly to have this real life, who fought for it for so long, give up that life? Why would he make a choice between real life and spy life? Chuck never played by the rules. Never followed protocols. He never accepted them, especially when it came to his family and friends. How could he just accept them now?

      What I had a hard time with was seeing Chuck accept the very things he couldn’t take in the first two seasons. Why didn’t he fight to preserve his real life? To keep his family and friends close? Why didn’t he fight for Sarah? Especially if he became a spy partly because of her. Why suddenly he seemed to be ok with the way things were.
      I’m not saying, it wasn’t difficult for him. We saw it was. It wasn’t pleasant to lie to Ellie about Paris, we saw that when they hugged. It wasn’t pleasant to burn Manoosh. But at the end, he seemed OK with it. He had accepted the rules. He had accepted what he had to do because that’s what spies do.
      And in my mind, it wasn’t what Chuck would do. To me Chuck would have fight for his life, like he did in season 1 and 2. He would have cared more.

      Like in Angel de la Muerte, when Awesome told him that if being a spy meant giving up half of your real life, then it wasn’t worth it, Chuck didn’t really seemed to agree. I think he agreed, but he just had given up, thinking he had to in order to attain this goal he had chosen to pursue: becoming a spy.

      So Chuck accepting those things, being ok to do them, being sometime a little careless, or not trying to find another way, that is what bothered me. That is where I felt that Chuck was gone.

      And that’s also why I felt that he was back in Beard. He acknowledged that he gave up on his real life. “- Being a spy is all that I have. I gave up everything for this.”
      He acknowledged that he is not OK with giving up everything. “Maybe I’m not flashing because I have all these emotions bottled up in me. You ever thought about that? I mean, I just broke up with Hannah, I can’t talk to my best friend or my sister about anything in my life. I’m not a machine. Okay, I am a machine, but I’m also a person.”
      Yes Chuck finally! You’re also a person, and a good one, and we want that person back, please! You don’t have to sacrifice that person. You need to fight for that person. You need to fight for yourself and for your life! You need to fight for the people you love, not just by saving the world, but by being a real part of their life.
      What’s the point of having a super hero brother if he’s not part of your life anymore? Morgan said it later: “I thought I lost you, man.”
      And it brought me back to Ellie’s speech in Sizzling Shrimp: “Listen, I know that this is the first big thing to happen to you in a while. And you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere. Your job’s not either, and you’re not superman out there saving the day. But you’re good person, Chuck. You’re a good brother and you’re a good friend. Don’t lose that.” Don’t give up on that Chuck!

      So when Chuck went to Ellie at the end of Fake Name, he didn’t tell her the truth, and that’s OK. What he did was keeping her in his life. And you know what’s amazing? Even though she has NO idea what’s going on with his spy life, she knows what’s going on with him! She knows he’s living a lie.
      Then he did the right thing with Hannah.
      In the beginning of Beard, he acknowledged that things weren’t right, they weren’t OK.
      He took the opportunity he had to tell Morgan his secret. Shaw-super spy wouldn’t have done it (like he could have a best friend anyway), he would have kept his secret to his grave because telling the truth isn’t protocol.
      And finally, he said it. Yes he loves Sarah. “You know what, you’re right, buddy. I do love Sarah. I kept telling myself that I didn’t. That I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, but I do.” His words are important. He kept telling himself that to be a spy –> he couldn’t love Sarah –> so he wouldn’t love her –> which meant he didn’t love her. Here is how he came to live a lie. He persuaded himself that he couldn’t have this real life, so he wouldn’t try to have it, which meant he didn’t have it. And that is not who Chuck is. He just can’t give up on that. That is not Chuck.

      But I guess that was part of the journey. Realizing that Chuck didn’t have to sacrifice himself in order to become an efficient spy. Realizing that he could be a different spy. Realizing that he couldn’t renounce to his family and friends and Sarah. And realizing that keeping that part of him was actually how he would become a better spy.

      Ok so I « got out of hand here »! Sorry to make it so long. I just really needed to get it out! And putting in into words helps a lot. Because I really didn’t like to feel that way about Chuck. I love Chuck!

      • JC says:

        Lucky for me I’m an insomniac.

        See and maybe this is just me. I never saw Sarah as a spy. She was Sarah Walker, the spy was a job and I believe Chuck saw that too. So when I look at the way Sarah judged him, I see her not looking past the job to see Chuck was still there.

        As for why Chuck reintersected I don’t know. The greater good, Sarah and to live up to the ghost of Bryce Larkin. But my cynical side says it’ll never be explained because they needed an epic cliffhanger.

        Him giving up everything. I don’t believe he thought he had to. That’s why I mentioned two Chucks, spy and normal almost two different personalities if you will. But those two versions kept crashing into one and another. The lines started to blur. So at the end of Fake Name I think he was at a crossroads of be a spy or be a normal guy again. Then comes Beard and Morgan firing him. That was Chuck’s rationalization he could be both, a great spy that was still Chuck. Something everyone knew except him.

        The issue of not fighting for Sarah well I give him a pass on that. He did confess to her his reasons for the whole Prague thing and did say IYL. Then he heard her request a transfer. So in his mind she was done with him. He even gives her a chance to say something in Mask and she doesn’t.

        You’ll get no argument from me when it comes to Ellie. She sees everything. I was waiting for her to kick him in the ass in American Hero when it came to Sarah.

      • Crumby says:

        About Sarah, I never saw Sarah as just being a spy, that wasn’t all she was, but that was definitely part of her. What I meant was that we never questionned her because she never questionned herself either. She knew what she had to do, and did it. But Chuck never agreed on those things. For two seasons, he kept trying to find ways around killing, tranquing, lying… Even now that Chuck has killed Shaw because he had no choice, I still think that Chuck wouldn’t kill Mauser as Sarah did. He would arrest him. I am not saying one of them is wrong and the other is right, just that in my mind Chuck and Sarah are different about that point. That’s why Chuck couldn’t complete his Red Test and Sarah did.

        About the reason why Chuck reintersected, I agree we’ll never know. After all, he may not really know himself.
        What I wanted to say was just that if he did it for reason 1/ then he already knew that the spy life wasn’t enough, so I don’t get why he didn’t try to be a spy AND have the real life he wanted. If he did it for Sarah, then I don’t get why he gave up on her.
        To me Chuck not really fighting for his real life (that’s what I was seeing) wasn’t the Chuck I used to know.

        As for the two Chuck, normal Chuck and spy Chuck, I agree. What I saw until the end of Fake Name, was Chuck trying to minimize normal Chuck in order to give space to spy Chuck, and that’s what bothered me. I have nothing against spy Chuck, I think he rocks, as long as he is balanced with normal Chuck. But what I didn’t like about Chuck’s actions at the beginning of the season was that I was seeing him denying normal Chuck. At least that’s how I perceived it. Then from the Fake Name crossroad, he worked on balancing normal and spy Chuck, instead of fighting normal Chuck.

  8. sd says:


    I am going to address the elephant in the room….and I’m sure I’ve not been the only one in previous posts.

    Would Shaw—played by a different, more engaging actor—or in BR’s defense–a character “drawn” differently made “all the difference.”

    In other words, could we—even the most shippery of shippers—have gone along with the storyline if Shaw had even a fraction of the on-screen chemistry that Hannah and Chuck had?

    I believe there was originally a backstory in Shaw’s character development that didn’t “evolve”. I think back to the “safest guy in the world” line which got a lot of us wondering if Shaw wasn’t “dirty” and had ulterior motives that at the end of the day just didn’t pan out (until he finds who killed his wife).

    I don’t know…for me I know–while I hated the PLIs—Fedak saying he wanted to give Sarah a “real choice” just didn’t work…and I don’t know if that was the work of bad acting, bad storytelling or both.

    • Josh says:

      Technically it was a real choice, Sarah had the choice between the old life she knew where she wasn’t in any danger emotionally (that’s what Shaw represented) or the dive into the unknown with the guy she loves (that would be Chuck). Choosing Chuck was the harder choice for her, she had to take a leap of faith to get there because that choice had already bit her in ass once already.

      I m sure that part of the mehness for lack of a better word that the Shaw/Sarah romance produced was by design. They wanted to portray it pretty much as the emotional flatline to Chuck/Sarah’s emotional rollercoaster. But the execution did suck, there’s no doubt about it. As has been said many times some things sound good on paper but don’t translate as well on screen.

      • sd says:

        Josh, I get that. At the end of the day, it put the writers–and the actors, for that matter—in what I would describe as an impossible situation.

        Would it had been better if Shaw kept chasing Sarah as the last season’s PLI spy du jour did (forgot his name)? And as she sees Chuck “change”…she toward the end of the arc starts to consider Shaw before the red test reveal?

        That way, we don’t get the whiplash Mask produced…

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Not for me.

      As others before me have pointed out insightfully, the Shaw character could have been used as a mentor for Chuck, someone to push him out of Sarah-bird’s protective nest. It would have setup a natural antipathy between Shaw and Sarah, forcing Chuck to strike a balance between the woman he loves but is inhibiting his growth and the man he admires but whose morals and actions sometimes repulse him. They could even have had the “Sarah killed Shaw’s wife” plot go off and have Chuck’s decision at the bridge be even more powerful.

      But the moment they made Shaw a real Sarah PLI, this all collapsed. Shaw became a simple adversary and any sympathy we might have had for his inner torment vanished. Just as written, Shaw is a reprehensible character and a mediocre spy. There’s no reason for Chuck to look to him as a role model of any sort.

      While a different actor might have lessened the degree of incredulity I experienced while trying to make sense of Sarah and Shaw, it wouldn’t have overcome the damage done by the PLI choice. I view Brandon Routh’s casting as just a freakishly bad miscalculation. His inexpressive demeanor and awkward delivery, probably intended to come off as stoic and enigmatic, instead infused Shaw with a creepy, sociopath vibe. If there is such a thing as “anti-charisma”, then Routh exhibited it in spades.

      • Merve says:

        Brandon Routh can play controversial superspy very well. He is even better at playing a crazed revenge-hungry psycho. But he’s not good at playing a controversial superspy and a credible love interest simultaneously. To be fair, I don’t think that many actors would be good at that. It’s tough trying to do a relatively good job when you’re surrounded by the talent of Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, and Adam Baldwin.

    • joe says:

      The idea that scares me is that it could have been Matt Bomer/Bryce.

      That’s about the only relationship I could “buy” instantly, and it’s the one to which any resolution would leave permanent scars (at least, on my heart).

      • bdaddydl says:

        It has been my opinion that this arc was forBbryce, but when he was not available, they substituted Shaw

    • Crumby says:

      IMO making so arrogant in Operation Awesome and First Class made him really antipathetic. Cole was sympathetic. Hannah was sympathetic. Shaw wasn’t.

      Why would a real choice for Sarah would be antipathetic?!

      What I saw was Shaw being a textbook spy, putting protocol before emotions when on duty. When the missions were over he actually cared about how Sarah was feeling, and was asking her about it.
      I’d be OK with Sarah being with that guy, if he hadn’t been introduced has a douche.

      • kg says:


        Bryce was a true friend and could have been a good mentor to Chuck. And we can’t fault him for still having feelings for Sarah this season because he did apparently before the pilot.

        What I’m saying is despite his confidence and smugness, he is a competent spy and a likeable guy and character. I’m glad Bomer WASN’T available. It would have been terribly sad to see him turn on Sarah, try to kill her and watch Chuck drill him.

        To borrow a sports cliche, Shaw couldn’t hold Bryce’s jock strap. Nobody felt bad when he plunged into the Siene River.

        Hell, they could have brought Cole back. Again, I think most of us would have bought the premise even if we didn’t necessarily like it.

        Shaw was hated long before it was revealed he was evil and a traitor.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Upon reflection it might not have been such a great idea to combine Chuck’s mentor and catalyst for growth with Sarah’s PLI (and Sarah’s boss). It made for some pretty convoluted rationalizations as we’ve seen.

  9. Jason says:

    the problem is, neither character had anyone to talk to about CS, HC, or sham, hence we the viewers have gotten very little story told to us.

    the lone exception was chuck and morgan’s discussion in 3.9 about sarah, which was one of the strongest moments in the show, until of course we started to see sarah moving toward chuck late in 3.12, although even that is the subject of speculation

    most of the season has been left to retcon’ing & post mortem psycho bable – some may like that, I do not.

    when a top notch fan has to ask brandon routh dot com if he knew what the nature of the sham was – dating, sleeping together, neither, etc – how can the average guy on the street have any clue – or for that matter care?

  10. AngelTwo says:

    The issue of Shaw as a love interest is two fold, really:
    1) The set up was too subtle.
    2) TPTB were cowards in execution.

    For 1), consider the set up they did have. At the end of Awesome, Shaw sees a family dinner and pulls out his wedding ring. In First Class, we get exposition about Sarah’s taking Bryce ashes to Lisbon and Shaw losing his wife. In Fake Name, Sarah watches a family dinner without her and she finally acts to move toward Shaw. The setup is there. Two spies who’ve lost people they’ve loved and two spies craving a human connection again. It just was spaced too far apart and not highlighted well enough.

    As for 2) well, we know about the Sarah rule. And then they keep giving Sarah second thoughts. So it’s hard to say there was no Shaw/Sarah chemistry because the writers wouldn’t allow it. If the writers had commited to it, and tried to sell it, it might have worked.

    They were afraid of fan reaction, of course. In the end, they told a bad love story and STILL got a bad fan reaction.

    Worst of all, it destroyed what should have been an insanely effective moment at the end of American Hero. Strahovski sells it as best as she can, but her line–“I made a commitment, and not just to Shaw”–should have been killer. It was meant to convey that she had committed never to risk real love with Chuck again. It was meant to show what a leap Sarah would have to make to go with Chuck again.

    But it fell flat because of all the earlier problems.

    • Josh says:

      When Yvonne had to produce chemistry with Shaw, she did. Case in point is the final scene in Fake Name, she seems really into it, like something snapped and Sarah decided yeah I m exploring this.

      Which leads me to believe the subsequent lack of chemistry was by design. Why I doubt we will ever know, could be because TPTB were afraid to go there, could be cause if Sarah was in an actual romantic relationship with Shaw all the way From Fake Name to American Hero then snapped to Chuck it would be utterly anticlimactic.

      I think the key is what Fedak said. CHOICE. Sarah hadn’t decided to go for Shaw romantically, she was working for him and had been assigned on his team post Burbank but she was still on the fence with regards to the romance. She finally decided to explore it in American Hero, then Chuck stepped in. It’s like, she was attracted to Shaw in Mask, Fake Name was her oh what the hell moment, then as Chuck started regaining his Chuckness in Beard and Tic Tac, she pulled away from Shaw. As evidenced by a torn looking Sarah in the DC cab scene. And the very unromantic scene in her bedroom in final exam. It wasn’t a couple, Shaw wasn’t consoling her, she was venting (again).

      Also, consider she didn’t really feel the need to break up with Shaw, or tell him she was with Chuck now (elevator scene in other guy). If there was a relationship that’d be kinda off character for Sarah wouldn’t it? And the almost kiss moment during the stakeout/date. I don’t believe we ‘re supposed to think during that Sarah considered herself to be in a relationship with Shaw.

      IMO that’s roughly the story TPTB tried to tell with regards to the Sarah/Shaw thing.

      • Paul says:

        Well, Shaw kinda broke it off when he told Sarah that killing himself to avenge his wife was more important than being with her… 😉

        But I agree, I don’t think Sham really was earnest until the date in American Hero and then it was over before it really began. Like Ernie had said, Shaw was #2 in Sarah’s heart from the beginning and all Chuck had to do to win her back was step up to the plate and take a swing.

  11. joe says:

    Folks, before we move on to the next episode tomorrow I want to thank you all (again!) for having this intelligent and meaningful discussion. My gut says that this episode raised the most ire, and I’ve seen nothing but insightful comments.

    And plenty of them.

    If only the world’s political leaders could have the same quality of discourse… 😉

    (Such a dreamer, this Buckley guy!)

    • Faith says:

      well there goes my wrath. Way to take the wind out of my sails Joe! lol, kidding.

      I’m really looking forward to you know…episodes that I can actually acknowledged exists 😉

      • bdaddydl says:

        I have to admit this is the one episode I have not re-watched, I even re-watched the mask. I may re watch, but I think it will be on the DVD that I bought.
        This episode is definitely not my favorite, and the board was a little depressing. I had just found this great board with great people, and thankfully for the universe, the board became more positive,and CHUCK got better.

  12. JC says:

    If people want to take anything positive from this, my g/f pointed it out to me. The look on Sarah’s face when Chuck walks out dressed as Rafe, she was ready to jump him right there.

  13. Pingback: Chuck This

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