First Impressions Pt. Deux! Subway and The Ring, Pt. 2

It WAS Epic!

The New Colors

I have not been able to re-watch Chuck vs. The Subway and Chuck vs. The Ring pt. 2 for lack of time. But my memories of the first viewing are vivid! And I see by the number of comments in the “first-impressions” thread that yours are too. It’s getting long! For the sake of readability, please continue here.

There were a few things that didn’t work for me in the finale, but they are truly secondary. The Ring Elders being captured essentially defenseless in the conference doesn’t mesh well at all with, say, The Director being able to assemble a minor army with one word to his assistant from an elevator. But, Okay. We’ll accept that the Elders are paper tigers for now. The implosion of the Buy More was, technically, a tag cheezy (yeah, that’s the technical term). But I’m going to forgive them anything that is budget related just so I can blame NBC and the economy in general. Spend the money on the cast and crew with my blessings! We’ll ignore less-than-perfect special effects.

The things that work – wow! My opinion is that Shaw is a great villain! I hate him passionately, for the very reasons we were supposed to think he was a hero (like, intentionally taking a wound to the shoulder, again). Sarah Lancaster was amazing. Ellie was amazing throughout. She made me realize that the entirety of season 3 needed more Ellie. Bonita Friedericy plays General Beckman in a whole new light when she’s incarcerated, frazzled and forced to ask Morgan, of all people, for help. “You are are only hope…” was a coke-spewing-out-my-nose moment! And to paraphrase Morgan from season 2, Jeffster good! Buy More corporate hierarchy, wrong!

And as I’ve mentioned in comments, there was Sarah’s sucker-punch to the back of Shaw’s head. Ah, sweet closure!

I noticed something that I missed before, too. Chuck was unable to beat Shaw in The Other Guy after he flashed. But did that flash fizzle the way they have been without The Governor? I think so. It wasn’t Chuck’s emotions about Sarah being threatened that brought him down in that battle. It was the overheating circuit.

But I’d like to talk about colors.

Remember season 1? If there is one word that comes unbidden to my lips when I think of it, or hear the music from that year, it’s “sweet”. No, not in the sardonic, too-cool-for-school “schweet” sense that the young set use too much these days, but in the sense of a spring day. It was Chuck and Sarah bumping shoulders, and trying to communicate without saying too much, and trying to understand what they must do.

Season 2 wasn’t like that. Season 2 was intense. It started with being dropped six stories from a building, continued with pineapples, bracelets, assassinations, and nightmares. Even the most tender an innocent of scenes, Chuck and Sarah holding hands when they realize they care for each other, is marked by an intensity that could be heard. “What do we do now???” are the words I heard as Sarah looked down at their entwined fingers and Jeffster sings It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you.

And that wasn’t even the beginning of the intense part of the season.

Color S1 sweet, and color S2 intense. We’ve been describing S3 as dark all season, and so it was.

The darkness started, not on the train tracks in Prague, but in Chuck’s eyes when he tells Yuri that he should give him the case – “Please.” Levi’s eyes flash, he is deadly serious. Shaw was dark, dark, dark from the first. I can easily believe that Brandon Routh was asked to never smile throughout the season, just to maintain the dark. But none of that compares with Chuck’s murderous rage in Tic Tac when he’s under the influence of Laudanol. It’s black because we know that it’s not caused by the drug – it’s within him. The Laudanol only lets it out. Thank God for Sarah.

Yes, we got some relief from the darkness, especially in The Honeymooners and The Role Models, but the nightmares, fritzing flashes and Shaw all return with a vengence to maintain the season’s color.

But it didn’t end that way, did it? We’ve heard Stephen’s warnings that the CIA was “bad business”, and we heard Chuck’s promise to Ellie that he was going to quit the spy world. Sarah heard it; General Beckman accepted his resignation. Once Chuck found Orion’s lair, he’s no longer on a mission in the service of others. Now he has his own calling. Sarah doesn’t mind that he’s resigned, because the CIA is as superfluous to him now as the Buy More has been. Oh yes, it’s not so much that things will change any more. Things have changed all season long, right before our eyes.

Chuck has his Orion lair, immediately reminding us of Batman’s Bat-cave or Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. But that’s where the superhero’s go do brood, darkly. The color of S3 is not completely gone.

I can’t say that I know what all the changes mean – I can’t even make a good guess about the meaning of Identity: Hydra, Corvus: Phase Two, The Aries Papers, The Triangulum (Captured), Operation: Cygnus and The Fornax Group. I don’t know what it means for us that Mary Elizabeth Bartowski is labeled as missing, except that all of this is coming. There’s the intensity! It’s not gone either.

Chuck and Sarah are not going to be challenged as a couple any longer, except in the most minor ways, played for humor, I suppose. They are strong, and she is family. My knee-jerk reactions to what we used to call s-angst can be safely ignored. Morgan and Alex McHugh played by Mekenna Melvin – ah, there’s the sweetness. With Morgan, Alex extends the Bartowski clan as much as Sarah.

Mary McDonnell as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski

With the introduction of Mary Elizabeth, family comes to the forefront. Perhaps that’s the new color for season 4.

Chuck lost much of it’s creative talent in the last few weeks; Scott Rosenbaum, Matt Miller, Phil Klemmer and of course, Ali Adler. That makes me wince a bit. Immediately, I think of two things, however. The additions of Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc have already brightened our collective hearts. They were the writers of some of S3’s strongest episodes, Chuck vs. the Tic Tac and Chuck vs. the Honeymooners. They obviously came with a love of the show we fell in love with, way back when, and a desire to preserve some of that.

And like I said, the show has already changed. New writers inject fresh ideas that are not limited by the past, even as they respect it the way Judkins and LeFranc have. It’s true that there are risks, and shows falter. But the truth is that changing this way is probably the only way Chuck survives past the next 13 episodes.

For 13 episodes doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

– joe


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in Observations, Season 3, Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

168 Responses to First Impressions Pt. Deux! Subway and The Ring, Pt. 2

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    Joe, good pick for Mama B! Someone else mentioned Lynda Carter. Either should be able to pull it off, but Schwedak would probably prefer Carter for the Wonder Woman reference. My guess is we won’t have to worry about seeing her till at least ep 10 or 11 if there is no early pickup of the back 9.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the prevailing feel of S4 will be warmth since they seem to be hinting it’ll concentrate on family.

    From the Hero’s Journey perspective (six season version) I’d say we finished Chuck’s first test (i.e. the initial death and resurrection) and he’s now fully mastered the use of the intersect. Along with that we often get a sense of burdens being lighter and celebration as the hero prepares to return home and will have to face a final test at the threshold.

  2. Paul says:

    One little tidbit that I loved was when Chuck and Sarah (in disguise) were about to kick off the op. Since they couldn’t display their newfound PDA, they merely gave each other loving winks. My how far they have come since the shoulder bump in 1.01.

    And ditto on Morgan and Alex. That not only provides a fresh romance to explore (they ARE cute together), but is a virtual comedic goldmine with Casey’s new found paternal protectiveness.

    And I am not at all worried about losing some of the writers (particularly Ali Adler). While it is sad to see them go, sometimes fresh blood is exactly what a show needs (an “LeJudkins” are VERY competent).

  3. AngelTwo says:

    Interesting sidelight: Claire Carey, who played Casey’s fiance in Tic Tac, is listed as a guest star in the unique credit roll they had at the beginning of Ring Part II. Which means at least ONE deleted scene.

    Which is interesting because I had thought, given the budget problems, there might not be a lot left in the cutting room this year. But the DVD of Season 3 promises to be interesting.

    The Season 2 DVD was VERY heavy on deleted scenes that deepened the Chuck-Sarah dynamic before its time. Wonder if there are unused Season 3 footage from the platform scene, more of the end of Nacho Sampler or Mask and Fake Name. And I’d guess there is a fairly hefty bit from Final Exam. That looked especially choppy on broadcast.

    • Gord says:

      In a podcast interview with Raef Judkins and Lauren Lefranc, they mentioned a deleted scene at the end of Tic Tac between Chuck and Morgan.
      If you recall, in the early part of that episode Chuck promised to give Morgan details of his previousl missions.

      The scene starts with Morgan having a clipboard with a list of questions, then they end up talking about Sarah.

      Should be a strong shipper scene.

  4. Tinaka says:

    Seeing as I am a huge Mary McDonnell and Wonder Woman fan, I won’t complain either way. But, Lynda Carter played ONE bad ass. Wonder Woman. Mary McDonnell has played countless bad asses. From Stands With A Fist (Dances With Wolves), Liz (Sneakers), Rose Darko (Donnie Darko), to of course LAURA FRAKKN ROSLIN (President of the Entire Universe—Battlestar Galactica). Not to mention she’s owning it on THe CLoser. So if anyone can pull off playing Mama Bartowski believably, for me there is no doubt it’s Mary McDonnell.

  5. ChuckNewbie8 says:

    Jacklyn Smith FTW.

  6. kg says:

    I have no doubt that Chuck would choose to protect Sarah first over himself.

    I watched that scene outside the CIA detention center a few times and perhaps I’m naive to the spy world or maybe it all unfolded so fast.

    I just don’t get how running with his father is protecting Sarah or anybody close to him for that matter.

    And that’s what Shaw was counting on right? “Love struck Bartowski” coming to the rescue and getting caught.

    • BDP says:

      a malfunctioning intersect who just stabbed a guy whilst under review breaking out of a CIA base and then running with “Orion” paints a huge bullseye on his back, deflecting most of the heat away from the people he love’s giving people their chance to run.

      or thats what i atleast pulled from this… like Orion left to take away what heat he could from his kids… which worked for the most part…

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      I had the same questions after watching it…and pretty much what it comes down to is Casey’s explanation?

      “It’s only a matter of time before they burn us too.”
      “You’re just going to run?”
      “It’s not just us they’re going to come after. They’re going to come after the people we care about”
      “No, everything I care about is inside this building”

      So I gathered from that that if they don’t run, or Chuck doesn’t run, they’ll implicate your entire family because they’re going to assume they know something. But if you run, they’ll assume your family had nothing to do with anything and leave them alone. I see that as PapaB’s logic…

      But I don’t quite understand it all that well either.

      That and why didn’t Sarah come with? I mean seriously…

      • atcdave says:

        That’s the one point that left me sputtering, why didn’t Sarah just jump in and come along? If she thought she could work on clearing Chuck’s name from the inside, fine; but it needed to be said. I just think Sarah Walker, woman of action not words, should have jumped in the car (invited or not).

      • ez says:

        Th running away part, and not Sarah coming with I found odd too. It was of course just a setup so Chuck would be alone with his father, and Sarah would seek Shaw. But they could have found a more believable way of doing it.

      • Paul says:

        My interpretation of that situation was, Sarah was not “in trouble” yet unless she ran. That was why Shaw had to goad her into essentially attacking him so he could frame her for going rouge. Sarah pulling the gun on Shaw was when she crossed he point of no return.

      • kg says:

        I love Sarah, and I’m glad she’s back and out of the arms and away from other body parts of Shaw, so I don’t really want to nitpick.

        However, if “Everything I care about is inside this building,” doesn’t it stand to reason the same admission is now in the vehicle speeding away?

      • kg says:

        Paul’s right. She thought she could stay and help the fight. They let Casey and Sarah walk.

        Shaw goaded her into pulling the gun.

      • Crumby says:

        I think the “everything I care about” wasn’t just Chuck, I took it as she was also talking about the CIA or what it represents.
        Otherwise wouldn’t she have said “everyone”? English isn’t my first language so I might read too much into this choice of word but that was my thought.

  7. kg says:

    Thank you BDP

    That makes sense. Chuck runs so that the heat will concentrate on the malfunctioning, crazy, fugitive and diverting attention from the ones he loves.

    Sarah obviously thinks of Chuck first and points out to him about the painted bullseye on his back, but because of his love, he takes on that responsibility and runs anyway.

    Of course, Shaw doesn’t waste his time pursuing Chuck directly. He sets up Sarah and Casey, and captures them ,figuring the predictable Chuck can’t leave them in the lurch. He’ll attempt to save/rescue them.

  8. ez says:

    Not to be a downer, but I don’t see how the show can live past these 13 episodes. In fact I think we should consider us very lucky that we got another season. NBC did us a big favor by renewing it, when all common sense said that it should be canceled.

    Anyways I hope they write a satisfying ending to the show, and not ending it like they did this year. If they had canceled it I would have been very disappointed by the ending. The best way to end the show would have been with something like the Honeymooners.

    • atcdave says:

      Any time a bubble show gets new episodes viewers should consider themselves lucky. Given that NBC didn’t seem to think about it very long (compared to last year), I think there’s more going on than is obvious. That Monday slot is a killer; Dancing With Has Beens is a huge draw, and Fox and CBS both have strong line-ups; so NBC may be thinking a small loyal audience is better than trying to launch a new show there. There are also other issues that play into the revenue stream like Hulu and iTunes views (iTunes is more indirect because the revenue goes to WB not NBC) and the support of enthusiastic sponsors like Subway. I don’t think Nielson numbers are the only thing networks look at anymore, which works out well for us.

      I do hope we get a proper conclusion when the time comes. Hopefully they will know before they start work on 4.13 if they’ve got a back nine pick-up or not. I think 3.19 could have been converted to a conclusion pretty easily if they’d been cancelled, just delete everthing from Chuck’s last text from Orion on, and replace it with an American Graffiti type text over character shot sort of thing.

      • Paul says:

        IIRC, NBC also took into account the live+3 numbers as well, which GREATLY increases Chuck’s viewership. That means Chuck is definately getting watched, just not watched on the air date. It will be interesting in the next few years to see how the rating system will morph. With the advent of the internet and downloadable media, traditional media sources are fast becoming irrelevant.

        I also concur Dave, that NBC would rather have a known quantity and consistent (albeit only a modest) performer in that Monday night timeslot. Not much else in their current line-up would survive there.

      • Rick Holy says:

        I’m thinking along the same line – we are lucky – “blessed,” to be getting another 13 episode shot at a Season 4. For that I am extremely grateful.

        I know there are all kinds of explanations this year as to the ratings situation. DWTS was literally a juggernaut. It had it’s highest ratings this season in all of it’s 10 seasons. (Maybe we need to get that “Kate” lady with the 8 kids to guest star on a 3 eipsode arc of CHUCK!!). HOUSE, HIMYM, the ending of 24, etc., etc., are all factors – but the hard facts are that we started with a 3.0 for the premiere (which I figured we wouldn’t keep throughout the season), and wound up with a 1.7. I wasn’t a math major, but that’s pretty close to a 50% drop in that demo. Not good.

        I think we’ll always be surviving (IF we do manage to survive again) by the skin of our teeth. So WE need to do what we can to make that skin on our teeth a little thicker.

        Downloading the episodes the next day from itunes is an excellent idea. I don’t know what it costs on itunes – a dollar or two? I wouldn’t object to coughing up that money for each episode.

        Entertainment Weekly often lists the “itunes download ratings,” and CHUCK is always one of the higher rated shows. If all the CHUCK fans would download from itunes (or from amazon – that’s how I do it since I’m more familiar with Amazon – and Amazon does keep count as well), that can be a help in how “well” the show is doing.

        If each episode of Season 4 of CHUCK consistently ranks high in the itune and amazon download listings, that’s important.

        Continued support of Subway is also important.

        “Watching” again the episodes on NBC.COM or HULU is also important.

        I’ll admit, I was disillusioned this season and didn’t know if I’d be up to “fighting” for the show again. But the back six really turned me on again and that fact that just about everything else on TV frankly sucks (especially now that LOST is done), has me wanting to fight more and more for CHUCK’s survival for at least a fifth season.

        So…. if buying a $5 sub at Subway before every episode of CHUCK made/continues to make a difference, so will spending an extra $2 on an intune or amazon episode download the day after the episode airs. So will letting your computer “rewatch” the episode the next day on NBC.COM or Hulu.

        Anyway, it’s great to know we’ll be back – and in the FALL – not having to wait until 2011!!

        Great work everybody. Keep on Chuckin’!!

      • Chuckaddict says:

        Where are the live 3 numbers published? I keep hearing that Chuck’s numbers improve greatly when DVR viewings are added, but I’ve never actually seen these results in published firm.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Overall I think we can thank Jay Leno for saving Chuck, but there are also other things going for the show. It seems to have a bottom. No matter what it seems to be able to pull an audience of about 5 million with about another million DVR-ing it. That seems pretty consistent. The fans are loyal and involved, and if there is one thing NBC needs it’s loyal involved fans. Advertisers seem to like the show. Apple, Amazon, Toyota and Subway get regular product placement (and occasionally Microsoft) AND buy ad time on the broadcast. The Subway stuff is so over the top it’s actually funny. I’ve never seen any in depth study on the demographics, but my guess is that your average Chuck viewer is in general better educated, more tech-savvy, more involved and somewhat wealthier than the average viewer and more likely to patronize one sponsor in particular. (Please, we’re fantastic.)

      • AngelTwo says:

        Ernie: The problem with THAT line of thinking, unfortunately, is that last year we were all convinced the “bottom” for Chuck was 6 million viewers live and more +3/+7 alternate views.

        But you’re right about Leno: The fiasco and NBC’s reluctance to go massively new (weirdly, they only cancelled 4 scripted shows: Heroes, Mercy, Trauma and Law & Order) got Chuck 13 more.

        From the numbers I’ve looked at (some public, some coming only to my clients as potential spot buyers), Chuck’s demos do skew as you suggest. It’s also overwhelmingly male. But Chuck also skews OLDER, outside the 18-49 target demo. Which is NOT good.

        Also, there seems to be a real question now about Chuck’s potential as a syndicated show. It’s done so poorly in reruns that it may not have much of a future as a checkerboard show. (That happens to some shows, even good performers like Cosby and Mad About You, which did badly in “first run” syndication.)

        Finally, I haven’t heard that Subway re-upped their sponsorship/partnership deal. I mean, they may have, but I haven’t seen an announcement. And I KNOW all the Chuck-related material has disappeared from POS at retail. The current Subway push is the breakfast/early opening campaign. Which, of course, is why we had Big Mike’s passionate moment with his breakfast sandwich (and Chuck’s less-than-subtle line to Papa B at the top of the show…)

        It’s hard to tell how these deals are cut and structured, but I wonder why Warner/NBC wouldn’t just offer Subway the literal store: Turn the Orange Orange into a Subway and have it be the sole entry point to Castle, which would be the base of whatever Season 4 action there’d be.

        One thing TPTB have done well this year is integrate the promos. This could be done a la Man From Uncle and the tailor shop. Subway could get the near-subliminal ad whenever the team came and went to Castle without ever having to blatently work in a promo. The “door” to Castle could conveniently be behind the fresh-bread rack, which would hit a key Subway product differentiator without ever stating the words.

      • jason says:

        I would never have watched chuck had it not appeared on the sci fi channel – I had to a certain point quit watching network TV without a pretty compelling reason. Chuck hooked me quickly, I am pretty sure it was a combination of the quirky show premise, the zach-yvonne chemistry, and the warm comedy – I would not have gotten hooked if I watched any of 3.1 thru 3.12 as my first show – guaranteed

        From reading fedak’s sepinwall interview, all three things I liked are returning to season 4, the family theme should insure warm comedy, the zach-yvonne dynamic (at least it sure sounds like it) and the quirky-ness (the whole orion plot is wonderfully quirky in my humble opinion).

        If the two other NBC monday shows are also tied into these themes, I think they can chip away toward a 3 demographic, which should save chuck

        One thing I would question, is how can either of the NBC shows outdraw chuck – so if they both are 3 demo shows, I think chuck will be 3.3 or more, if they are 1.7’s, I think chuck will be 2.0 or 2.2???

        all opinion, we will find out soon enough.

      • weaselone says:

        Well, I think we have to be honest and say that the show made some decisions that cut into that 6 million bedrock of support in season 3. I’m referring to that 20% or so of crazy shippers that indicated they would quit the show if the relationship between Sarah and Chuck was handled poorly. Certain individuals who shall remain nameless apparently got their wish and poof we lost about 1 million viewers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m not in total despair about re-claiming some of those viewers. I know that I’ve lost interest in a number of shows, Heroes, Dollhouse and BSG being notable ones recently, only to catch up on DVD later. I could see some otherwise loyal viewers dropping out mid season 3 only to decide (based on reviews etc) to give the show another chance after catching up with a rental of season 3.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t think that the show can regain many lost viewers, but I feel pretty confident that it can gain new ones. So many people I meet say, “Chuck? What the hell is that?” If we can explain to people what the hell Chuck is, then they might tune in.

      • atcdave says:

        I’m working on some ex viewers. I’ve got one who can’t get his wife to watch again, but I got him re-engaged to where we watch from my iPod (um, on an actual TV, not a 1 1/2″ screen!) every week, which I guess ensures I’ll be buying every episode!
        This weekend we have a couple coming over who gave up at 3.01, I may try to rehook them with the finale; since the lack of humor and fracturing of Charah were their stated reasons for quiting it might work.

        But I do agree people who have quit are hard sells. The only thing is, I’ve nearly exhausted the supply of people I know. One of my co-workers was joking the other day I’d got the entire tower hooked; which pleases me, but it means I’m out of fresh meat.

      • JC says:

        If anything season 4 would be a good starting point for new viewers. Most of the baggage between the characters from previous seasons is gone. No WT/WT relationship crap between Chuck and Sarah. Everyone in Chuck’s life knows that he was a spy. New villains, fresh mythology that also ties into the old.

        In a way Season 4 could be a brand new show. Hopefully it gets the same kind of push before the season starts like season 3 did.

      • Merve says:

        Interestingly, none of the people I know stopped watching Chuck this season. Both of the people I know who were slightly dissatisfied with this season felt so because of Shaw and not because Chuck and Sarah were separated. The fact that Shaw is gone might bring back old viewers.

      • jason says:

        3.14 – 19 are on hulu right now – watching 3.14 first for old / lost viewers is a great starting point

      • JC says:

        Honestly I think there were a multitude of reasons that made people stop watching. I do think Shaw was major factor though and not just the romance part but it felt like this season was his story not Chuck’s.

        IMO I don’t think Season 3 was good jumping on point for new viewers. It felt weighed down by a lot of unresolved story lines and character arcs from previous seasons. Don’t get me wrong some of it was handled great others not so much.

        That’s why I have high hopes for Season 4, its almost a clean slate. And hopefully its advertised that way.

      • Merve says:

        Yeah, the way “Pink Slip” started, I thought that new viewers wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. That’s the boon and the curse of a serialized show: once you hook a viewer, then that viewer is hooked for the long haul; unfortunately, it’s difficult to hook new viewers.

      • atcdave says:

        I do agree with that. People know its hard to get into the middle of a story. Its a tricky tightrope, you want to see growth and development, but need to keep it accessable to new viewers.

      • cas says:

        We lost a lot of people because either it got too dark for them or it wasn’t funny enough. I’m almost positive that we will get them back next season. But the people who lost interest in the characters are the ones that are going to be harder to get back. They lost that loving feeling. The moment has passed.

      • herder says:

        I do think that the viewers that Chuck has does fit some specific and desireable gender demo and that was part of the consideration in keeping the show. I do think it is likely that the show will rebound to low 2’s in the 18-49 demo, mid 2’s are possible but that would require the fan base pushing the show as I doubt NBC will give it much of a push come this fall. It’s very much a sink or swim on your own situation, look at the lack of promo’s for the finale.

      • jason says:

        my 20 year old son and I have similar tastes in tv, he watched a couple of eps of chuck this season (might have been just 3.1&3.2), then watched one later, 3.11 maybe, his question to me was why does the spy chick hate the nerdy guy so much & is she dating superman – and when did that happen?

        We are so into the show we get all this stuff, but I think people like him are why season 3 failed – the story was complicated and stupid vs the so called ‘mythology’ not some mythology conceived in a long well written diatribe, the simple ‘nerd gets the girl’ mythology that the ‘swing’ viewers know.

        My son would like chuck if he ever decided to sit down and watch it all at once (which he might) – but when he gave it a shot this year as a casual viewer twice he decided chuck sucks. Sarah’s chuck – her so called ‘my chuck’ doesn’t suck, it is a great program, 3d chess chuck sucks, lets hope we never see it again.

        I’ll simplify the ‘mythology’,we see chuck thru sarah’s eyes, when sarah loves chuck, the viewers love chuck.

      • atcdave says:

        Jason, I think you really hit the nail on the head. For those of us hooked “on the whole package”, the nerd gets girl motif is a huge part of the draw. But so many casual viewers tuned in this season and didn’t see that. They often saw leads that didn’t seem to like each other and the girl was running around with a boring stud. They completely missed the “wish fulfillment” aspect of the show. Its fine if the “ordinary nerd” and “super spy” clash from time to time, but when whole episodes are lost to it, and casual viewers don’t even see that they actually love each other, the show has lost its charm.

        I do think we’ll be OK from here on out. But we need to know what we’re fighting when we try to recruit new or former viewers. Be sure to show people what Chuck does at its best. I would never try to recruit a newbe with Pink Slip; even if some people might like it, its not representative of what Chuck normally is.

      • Patty says:

        I got hooked this season. I read a review and decided to give the show another chance. I watched Pink Slip, then all that was on Hulu, then I bought the dvd’s and watched them(multiple times!).

        I went to visit my brother and made him watch the first 2 episodes, now he and his whole family watch. (They also bought the DVD’s).

        My daughter and her fiance are also regular new viewers, they are working on his family.(They bought the DVD’s too)

        I have convinced 5 or 6 of my middle school students to watch on it.

        No Neilson boxes though, so none of us “count”.

      • atcdave says:

        That’s great news Patty. More viewers is always good news, one of them might reach someone who is a Nielson viewer!

  9. Hope says:

    I loved season 1 & 2 for it’s lightness and humor, I enjoyed season 3 because the show was growing up like its characters as they grew in maturity and character development.

    Zach Levi has done wonderful as a young loser who has stepped up to become a handsome confident young superhero ready to take the mantle of Orion left by his father Stephen and to do the things that the Government is afraid to do.

    Yvonne Straitoski (sp?) has been great from an emotionaly (still is a little) conflicted woman who fell for every guy she worked with to a loyal and devoted woman who loves only one man. Who’s helped her become more honest, open and truthful. To help her see the beauty of family. It’s been a long road for Sarah.

    Same goes for Adam Baldwin, who has seriously become a favorite of mine. One that we though might be one diminsional through out the series, yet was allowed to grow and change from a hardned killer who only thought of duty first, to a man who has become a loyal friend and devoted teammate. He’s like an onion, you keep pulling the layers back and he just keeps surprising you.

    Josh Gomez has really stepped up this season, who would have thought that our poor little downtrodden bearded loser at the Buy More could be so Hard core brave and a Badass at that. Still has moments of imaturity but he’s definitly getting there. One thing though, It’s still too earily for him and Mekenna Melvin’s Character Alex to hook up, I want her and Casey to establish a strong father and daughter relationship first before the BF happens.

    Everyone else in our ragtag family of spies has been, in the words of the good Captain himself. AWESOME. I loved the season, loved the finale and can’t wait for season 4.

  10. Derrick says:

    I don’t want to be the bad guy here but here is my take on season 3. It was pointless! This whole thing about season 3 being a hero’s journey is pointless. The hero’s journey started in the pilot and finished in the ring. Chuck’s flasback before downloading 2.0 was his realization that he was “that guy” The whole ordeal about whether or not Chuck was willing to kill in 3.13 was blown way out of proportion. Who here ever really doubted that Chuck would kill a villain to save someone that he loves? Sarah made such a big fuss about Chuck lying so easily early in the season, well guess what? He is still lying! So what has he learned from 301 to 313 that he didn’t already know?
    Sarah never hated being a spy. No duh! From the DeLorean, we already knew that she was damaged, it really wasn’t necessary to show us how far down she can go (cough..SHAW..cough) Her character growth was more visible after her and Chuck finally got together which means it would have also been visible if they had gotten together after colonel. It could also have been argued that she had already learned all that from Chuck from previous seasons and not just 301 t0 314. So it could also be that she did not grow from hitting rock bottom but rather from LETTING HERSELF BE LOVED.
    The only characters that needed 301 to 314 was MOrgan, Casey, and SHAW. They should have called that season The three amigos and focused the story more on them rather than Chuck and Sarah. Conclusion: 301 to 314 was so poorly written that it made 2/3 of the season quite pointless and 1 million ex viewers will agree, and I sincerely hope that the producers know that. As much as some people hate crazy shippers, they actually bring in more viewers because they are the ones who cannot and will not stop talking about a certain show they love, especially around their peers,workers,family, and even around strangers. Pissing them off in 301, spitting on their faces in 307, and kicking them in 308 was a suicide mission that almost succeeded. Schwartz, these are not GG fans, when Chuck viewers say they will leave, they really will leave and stop watching. They’re not 15 you know.
    Okay! Finally got that out of my system. Loved the finale and can’t wait for season 4

    • joe says:

      Hey Derrick.

      I had a thought today. Remember that Chuck who helped out that ballerina and her dad in the Pilot? After what we saw in the finale, after what we saw all season long – can you image Chuck still doing that? I can’t. Man, that guy has seen his father gunned down, saw the Buy More blown away, saw Sarah have to kill for him(!) and had to kill for her (forget about lying. He had to kill). He’s seen friends and family threatened constantly. He’s well past the stage of things that we saw in S1, so yes, if you liked *that* guy and wanted to see him get the girl, yes, S3 was pointless. It had already happened.

      But that’s not what it was about. Technically the writers finished that story quite some time ago, and we know the rest of it. The story is boy becomes man becomes spy… and maybe now, becomes superhero. It’s a different story than the one we started with, and the one we all fell in love with, right?

      Yeah, it is. Chuck got the girl back in The Colonel. Except everything changed, including him. We saw him win her over again, and it was harder this time.

      Sarah’s challenge was always to let someone love her, as you rightly put it.

      Then I thought of this, and started to wonder if it didn’t serve a point after all:
      Chuck: I get it, Okay? You took a chance – you, you love someone, maybe for the first time in your life. All you’ve ever done before is – is shut off your feelings. You bury them, deep down inside because in your profession, in your line of work, it’s a liability, right? It can certainly – be a liability.
      And I know – I know that you think you messed up your life because you opened up your heart. But maybe you helped her open up her heart in the process. Maybe because you love her, she’ll learn how to love too.

      After that, I start to think that I can still imagine that same Chuck helping a ballerina and her father, if he gets the chance. It would be a bit different, though. This time, I think Sarah would help him with that little mission, or perhaps Morgan.

      • Derrick says:

        Joe,Joe,Joe….. Been lurking around long enough to know that you have the biggest heart here. I can argue that she also took a chance in Crown Vic by not choosing from the 2 person whom she loved at the time, and was almost about to take a chance in in the break up but was quickly shot down. She took a chance a long time ago, when she decided to stay in love with a guy she knew she would eventually leave. The heartbreak of not being able to show and receive affection from the one you love (not like or infatuated with) is far more excruciating than being left in that train station. That scene was more of a closure per say compared to what she went through.
        Bryce died in Chuck’s arm, if that doesn’t force you to become a man, then I don’t know what will. Him being a spy? He defused a bomb, saved sarah, tracked Persius, hacked a fulcrum device, (beefcake), found Orions, and so on and so on. He was already a good spy he just needed to beleive it. Like I said before, He got his confirmation from his flashback before the 2.0.
        I know better than to argue with you about this and are you are obviously more open minded than I am so I’m just going to stop right here. I just needed to vent and I did, and now I will let go.

      • joe says:

        Derrick, there’s plenty of competition here for the biggest heart award, but thankx.

        Ah, yours is a righteous vent! And really, I agree, especially about Chuck having Bryce die in front of him (and I had that scene in mind when I wrote the above, too). It’s a scene that changes him, and us too. How do you top that?

        And even as I agree with you – that S3 doesn’t add to this, or add anything to the guy and girl we saw in the Pilot, I’m smiling because I can’t say that it needed to.

        That story came to a conclusion somewhere along the line, and we all celebrated it in The Other Guy and Honeymooners. Honestly, I’m ready for the “Chuck as Successor to Orion” story. I was the one who wasn’t quite ready at the start of S3 to let go of that story about Chuck and Sarah finding each other. I am now – the characters are in a much better place.

        I think I’m finally concluding that S3 got me here nicely.

      • JC says:

        I couldn’t help but hear Morgan saying “Ah, yours is a righteous vent!”. That kinda made my night.

    • atcdave says:

      I’ll ditto most of what Derrick says, except I think a couple times you included 3.14 when you meant to stop at 3.13. I did enjoy some of the front 13 episodes, but I do agree the lessens learned were already known by us, and should have been for Chuck and Sarah too. Bottom line is it failed the fun test. And for a show that bills itself as an action-comedy, failing the fun test is bad news.

      But remember it wasn’t a total loss. The back six are mostly back to the show most of us crazy ‘shippers want. And those episodes have already been described as an S4 preview. So better days lie ahead.

    • herder says:

      It’s interesting that there is still a lot of anger over the past season (at least the first part of it). I’ve kind of come to a place where I am ready to move on and enjoy what is to come, that’s what the back six did for me. I think that this is what the reaction to the interrogation scene with Chuck, Sarah and Casey was about, people felt that they had moved on and here was that issue again. I know that it was played for laughs and not intended to bring that back again, but many people weren’t yet ready for it to be brought back even in a light hearted way.

      My guess is that TPTB thought the Shaw romance would be polarizing in the “who should she be with” sense and instead it became polarizing in the “I’ll watch something else” sense. Of curse it’s biggest sin was that it sucked the fun out of the show and lead to a series of episodes that ended on a downer note, also a big fail for a show that is mostly and “up” show.

      Natcho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name, Tic Tac, and Final Exam all ended on down notes. Other Guy, Honeymooners, Role Models, the Tooth, and Living Dead all ended on up notes, guess which group was better received.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah herder, no doubt. I think S3 will always generate some bitterness. A bubble show, saved by a fan campaign; so they go and do something many fans desperately don’t want to see, all the while loosing viewers like crazy. It still gets my blood up a little.

        But they did finish well; think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts….

  11. kg says:

    “The heartbreak of not being able to show or receive affection from the one you love is far more excruciating than being left at that train station.”

    Wow. That’s pretty deep. And accurate too.

    I think Derrick’s right. For two seasons, Sarah was labeled as someone scared to show her true feelings, unwilling to open up, closed off. It was argued that all the men in her life either disappointed her or left or or both. Maybe that wasn’t the case.

    Maybe she just buried her feelings deep down because that’s what she was taught to do. That was safe for several reasons. Perhaps, more to the truth, it’s a combination of the two premises.

    I agree with Derrick. I don’t have to imagine how painful it was for Sarah to supress her feelings for Chuck. To mislead him (vs the Truth). To pretend feelings and their relationship wasn’t “real.”

    I saw the pain in Sarah’s face in so many scenes and episodes during the first two seasons. Anger, disappointment, pain, jealousy, longing. The breakups, LIs, misunderstandings and misleads.

  12. kg says:

    I know Ernie believes Diane Beckman has been slow playing Chuck and has grown increasingly soft around him lately (Honeymooners, the Tooth), and she must certainly appreciate that he and his team took down Shaw and the Ring, restoring her position and authority, but I still find it hard to believe the government is going to let him walk away into civilian life with the intersect 2.0 still in his head. Right?

    Besides, she has spent considerable funds for full-fledged assaults (I appreciated the tank) and time and money to turn Chuck from a mere asset to world-class spy.

    • Gord says:

      I have a scenario in my mind that addresses the role Beckman will play in S4.

      Several intelligence agencies have contract employees. I see a new company Bartowski Solutions being the front for the Orion Organization. Beckman will put them under contract to do the missions the CIA can’t do.

      We all know Chuck’s spy life isn’t over, he is just not with the CIA anymore.

      I also think Sarah, Casey and Morgan will quit to go to work for Bartowski Solutions.

    • Crumby says:

      Beckman’s hero: “Chuck?! Thank God!” 🙂

  13. odysszeuss says:

    EPIC Actors:
    Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
    Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker
    Adam Baldwin as John Casey
    Joshua Eli Gomez as Morgan Grimes
    Brandon Routh as Daniel Shaw

  14. Gord says:

    Since this thread is supposed to be about the S3 finale, I should leave a comment.

    This finale was the best Chuck season finale and probably the best finale of any show I have ever seen.
    No more baggage, a new beginning, and new character dynamics to start S4 off fresh.

    It was sad to see Papa B die, but not unexpected. At least TPTB gave his death significant meaning for the characters and for the rebirth of the show.

    The way Ellie found out was priceless and Awesome finally gets cleared of his Batchelor party “felony” – “Faithful”.

    The fact that Chuck had an intersect downloaded when he was just a child was mind-blowing and following this up with a “reboot” – wow. It makes me wonder does Chuck really need the governor now? It seems to help, but I got the sense that even without it, Chuck can now handle the intersect.

    Also Shaw made a much better villain than good guy/PLI. In my mind Brandon Routh redeemed himself in the finale.

    As for S3 in general, I still think there were far more good episodes than bad ones, but I agree they let too many episodes end on a downer. Yet in some of those episodes that closing was important for what was to come.

    I hated Final Exam the first time I saw it, but when put in context with 312 and 313, it made perfect sense to end the episode that way. I think that if they hadn’t dragged Sarah’s flip-flops out over so many episodes, most fans would have accepted that ending a lot easier.

    Really for me the only episode that I truly disliked was Mask, yet even that episode had a few good scenes. Fake name will also never be among my favourites, but for me it is watchable.

    If they had jumped from Nacho Sampler right to Beard (I guess with a few transition scenes) I would have found S3 superb.

    I am so looking forward to S4 as the potential storyline looks very promising, and I really believe we will see a back 9.

    • herder says:

      Gord, I guess that I’m not as forgiving as you are, I will agree that there are some very good episodes in season 3. My problem is that the general tone isn’t what I would enjoy. Mask, for me was a meh episode until the last fifteen minutes and Fake Name, despite some good parts was ruined by having Chuck sucking face with Hannah all the time and Sarah’s sudden swerve to Shaw for reasons unknown. If as you say that they had gone from Natcho Sampler to the Beard (both of which I liked) the first thirteen might have been saved. But that wasn’t the story that they told and those two episodes had repercussions beyound the individual episodes and that tainted the feeling in many of the later shows.

      The idea of Shaw the mentor suddenly turning had merit but they tried to load him up with too much plot development and to this day, despite what CF has said in numerous interviews I still don’t see Sarah’s attraction to him. Shaw never seemed desirable just creepy which was, I guess the reason for much of the Sarah as self loathing speculation. His turn helped, but I don’t see it redeeeming his role in this season.

      I am looking forward to next season and I think that your idea of Bartowski Solutions as both good and plausible. But ulitmately I think that they played it out too long (as CF said in an interview if they had known that they had 19 episodes they would have done the turn earlier, my guess is that they would have done it later) and had too many episodes end on a downer to call the season even a qualified sucess.

      While I don’t want to denigrate your enjoyment of much of this season, I think that where over a million people stopped watching and many of those who remain are ticked off it is a problem that TPTB will have to adress in the off season.

      That said they seemed to find their balance over the back six with some truely great bits and as you said an amazing finale that leaves me and I hope many others wanting more.

    • herder says:

      To reinforce a point, we like these characters and want to see them happy. I could see, under different circumstances Chuck being happy with Hannah, I can’t imagine, given what we were shown Sarah being happy with Shaw. For a romance to be a threat to the central pairing, it has to be plausible. Shaw and Sarah, at least to me was never plausible so it seemed an artificial construct to cause angst and anxiety, then it was played way too long making me angry rather than anxious.

  15. JAB says:

    I see a lot of people being / getting excited for season 4, and rightly so. I very glad to get more Chuck.

    For me however the excitement for S4 is tainted by season S3. I got myself really excited for S3 and expected something great only to be presented with Pink Slip, unnecessary LI’s, and generally depressing television.

    So I’m not getting worked up for S4 as I did last year. TPTB used up my goodwill last year and will have to work for it in the upcoming season.

    That being said should S4 be somewhat similar to the back 6, I will have a smile on my face.

    BTW I’ve always enjoyed the differing opinion over here. It makes for some interesting reading.

  16. andyt says:

    Just to finish some earlier thoughts on the finale. After a week to sink in, I saw a few comments about why Shaw would target Chuck to kill him afterall Sarah killed his wife, and why he became so much a Ring agent. First, he tells Sarah that he still wants to kill her, but he knows that it will hurt her more to kill Chuck. He knows how much she cares for him; this is the perfect revenge, take away her love just as his was ripped away. Further, Chuck did try to kill him that would just upset him a little. Also, remember in “Other Guy”, he stated that he wanted to destroy the CIA for killing his wife. What better way than to take over and destroy the organization from within? His actions in the finale our all perfectly thoughout and it is only Team Bartowski that stops him.
    In the end Shaw was the best villain that the show has had in three years. His motivations of revenge and hatred bred by terrible personal loss were classic motivations for evil because they are based in tragedy and human selfishness. Whereas Fulcrum and the Ring were always amorphous, unseen threats, Shaw was a concrete, personal evil. In the end, they did not want us to like Shaw and they certainly succeeded in that goal, maybe just not in the way that they expected.

    • joe says:

      I agree. I loved Roark as a villain. His evil mixed with jovial humor and charm was a fantastic mix. Chevy Chase made it an incredible role.

      But Brandon Routh’s Shaw was twice as threatening. He was a personal threat to Chuck on every level imaginable, and a physical threat to Sarah as well. When I consider the idea that Shaw *made* Chuck into the spy he is now, it becomes an epic (There! I said it!) battle. Add in the notice that Sarah was afraid all along that Chuck would become exactly the way Shaw ended up.


      • JC says:

        I think one key mistake with Shaw was that they made him unlikable before his heel turn. He wasn’t a sympathetic hero, so his turn didn’t have any weight behind it. But listening to and reading what some insiders have said about Shaw sheds some light about his story. That he was intended to be a double agent from the beginning.

        And I have to diagree that he made Chuck into the spy he is now. Chuck did that by himself, with some help by Casey more than anyone. If anything Chuck was dropped in the deep end of pool and was told sink or swim.

      • joe says:

        Hum… I’ll have to look into that – about Shaw being intended as a double agent from the start.

        As for Shaw making Chuck, what I’m thinking, was that Shaw was essentially correct about Casey and Sarah protecting him. He was never going to get out of the car.

        Well, maybe not ‘never’. But it would have taken a lot longer, I think. Yeah, Chuck was told to sink or swim, but the judgement that he would swim was the one that Shaw made, and it was essentially correct. Chuck knew it too.

        Know what’s cool? After I first viewed it, I didn’t think I’d been all that keen on re-watching First Class. But after Shaw’s turn, I think I am. There’s a lot there about Chuck’s growth that I’m going to enjoy watching again.

      • JC says:

        What I meant was Chuck wasn’t really trained at all by anyone. I guess maybe that happened in between episodes but his training on screen was someone yelling flash at him. And the only training we saw was in First Class and that wasn’t the best advice. But I do agree that Shaw was right that Chuck could handle it.

        As for Shaw being a double agent from the beginning. I don’t know if thats how it ended up but it was mentioned that how it was written at first. Could be the reason why that middle part of his arc was a mess.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, if it wasn’t Beckman yelling “Flash” at him, it was Sarah. Oddly, Casey never did. Did he?

        I get what you mean about the way Shaw was written at first. That would explain a lot, actually. Remember when he was introduced, back to the camera, threatening music in the background? It seemed like he was always primed to be a threat. I thought the threat was to Charah for the longest time, though. Not to both of them physically.

        Makes me appreciate tanks a whole lot more!

      • jason says:

        the threat was to the series, he was the most ill conceived, ill story boarded, ill casted, ill acted, ill inter-acted, ill received by the audience, ill written, ill directed character in the history of TV, both in this reality and in the near infinite other realities strewn throughout the galaxy, sure he made a villain everyone hates, he just about ruined a slamdunk great show.

      • atcdave says:

        Jason, I agree on an emotional level. But I seriously think if they’d simply removed the romantic rivalry, Shaw would have worked as advertised. In his functions as mentor, super spy, hero, and traitor he was acceptable. Its really only when we try to swallow him as a rival for for Sarah’s affection that the whole thing collapses on itself. She hated what she thought Chuck was becoming so she turned to the guy most responsible for pushing him there, and incidently acts like the cold agent she doesn’t want Chuck to become. Its such a huge disconnect it makes my brain hurt. By re-editing about 5 minutes of screen time this could have been a good arc, possibly outstanding. But what we got undermined the emotional core of the entire show.

      • JC says:


        Didn’t Casey tell him to flash in First Class?

        As for Shaw being evil from the beginning, it does help some of those middle episodes make more sense. I remember watching First Class during the break and it was almost telegraphed that he knew Sarah killed his wife there. Especially knowing how the story turned out. After Am Hero some of these same insiders complained about the reveal of his wife’s killer was played for the audience not the character.

        OH and I just want to point out, I’m not bringing up Shaw again just to complain. I find dissecting story arcs very interesting.

      • herder says:

        JC where are these comments by insiders? I haven’t seen anything at all that expresses that point of view. I know that I’d be really interested to find out which were the two episodes that they added initially to take him from six to eight. I know that there was a small admission by CF in the Sepinwall interview that they may have misjudged how polarizing Shaw would be, but that is it that I have seen.

      • Chuck604 says:

        Yeah I think Shaw accelerated Chuck’s development into become an agent by forcing him to confront situations that normally Sarah or Casey would handle. I think he evolved a great deal when Sarah was in trouble, I guess by realizing what he had to do in order to accomplish things.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think it is pretty well established that the Shaw character and arc underwent some re-writes, but I don’t have a source off the top of my head.

        I never bought Shaw as a credible mentor, other than briefly in First Class where he basically pushed Chuck out of the nest, backed down Mama-Sarah and sidelined Casey, thus ( a brief period in Nacho Sampler and Tic Tac aside) pretty much ruining Team B fun and chemistry for most of the season. From that point on Chuck was pretty much on his own.

        He burned the asset in Nacho Sampler, saved the op and Shaw and Sarah in both Mask and Fake Name, figured things out for himself in Beard while a far too clueless for words Sarah and Shaw offered “their” help and then ran off to leave him defenseless, saved Casey and his old flame in Tic Tac, and decided on his own, despite being manipulated by both Sarah and Shaw what kind of spy he’d be. Even after he saved Shaw his great reward, from his supposed love and mentor was to shut him out and run away. Chuck’s only friends were Casey and Morgan. Odd how we saw more growth in them than any other characters this season while Sarah basically turned into a Shaw appendage whose function was reduced to saying “Chuck don’t take this lightly, this is unlike anything you’ve done before” and then pouting and throwing herself at Shaw when Chuck proved successful, or shutting Chuck out when he had to deal with the consequences of the situation she put him in.

        I never bought Shaw as a romantic rival, though clearly that was what his main purpose for the front 13 became. He was utterly without charm, or even the more base attractions Cole offered, much as they tried to sell both. Absolutely no chemistry, and as Dave mentioned above, and yet inexplicably, we were supposed to see him as the perfect guy for Sarah. The American Hero. That was yet another part of Shaw I never saw.

        TPTB placed too much of the season on Routh’s shoulders and ran too much through Shaw. The theory was apparently that he would show up and “seduce” Chuck into wanting to be a spy like him, supplant Sarah and Casey as his mentor, but then create tension by becoming Chuck’s rival for Sarah and manipulating both Chuck and Sarah into making Chuck do things he didn’t want to, only to turn out to be The big villian for the season.

        In short, Shaw was the main character and all the others merely reacted to his driving of the plot and the season. Poochie. I complain that Shaw became a co-lead rather than supporting cast, but if they really wanted to make Shaw credible in all the roles they assigned him he probably needed even more screen time and more scenes with Sarah and Chuck where the other wasn’t present.

      • herder says:

        As I said above, for me what it boiled down to is that I like the Chuck and Sarah characters, I want to see them happpy. I could see that in different circumstances Chuck could be happy with Hannah. I can’t see Sarah being happy with Shaw, he didn’t seem to have any desireable personal qualities and so the potential for romance failed.

      • atcdave says:

        Excellent essay Ernie, have you ever considered doing a guest post here….never mind.

        I think the biggest failing with Shaw as a mentor was that job was already taken. As you said, his greatest contribution as mentor was pushing Chuck out of the nest in First Class. Even then Casey’s dialogue is telling; the writers themselves weren’t convinced he was needed for this. Casey, and especially Sarah, had filled this function nicely through the first two seasons. So it was necessary to remove them from the picture in different ways to make Shaw needed. So we end up with an unpopular temporary character in the most prominant supporting role for much of the season. It would have been easy to imagine Chuck’s field training coming from Casey as the hard task master sort, while Sarah filled a more nurturing role. In fact I strongly believe this would have kept the tone of the show closer to the first two seasons and lead to a much happier core audience. They still could have brought Shaw in in a smaller role as a “Ring expert” and eventual traitor. Ah, what could have been…

        I really can’t recommend NinjaVanish’s “Chuck and Sarah vs. Themselves” highly enough. A vastly preferable take on S3. Even when we still see a despondant Chuck after burning Manoosh; he at least gets additional “coping” advice from Sarah about the therapuetic properties of ice cream.

      • joe says:

        Sorry I didn’t mention it earlier, Ernie. But Dave is right. Excellent comment. It *was* worthy of a front page post! 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Guys, thanks, but really, a front page post at less than 500 words? Does that even count as a comment from me? I have a reputation to uphold here! 😉

      • Crumby says:

        Shaw as a mentor was a failure to me. He just pushed him but he didn’t mentor him. The fact that he kept saying that Chuck’s emotions were a liability are proof. Someone who understands Chuck and his Chuck-ness wouldn’t push him to become a ruthless spy, and that’s never what Casey and Sarah intented to do.
        If there are things Chuck learned from Shaw, it’s not to do anything like him!

        I wouldn’t say that Chuck learned everything on his own though.

        Chuck acknowledged that he wouldn’t have come through without his team in First Class.
        Sarah and Casey offered him plenty of advice in Nacho Sampler.
        In Mask, Chuck saved the day with Casey’s help and Sarah always believed he’d save them.
        In Fake Name, Chuck was good, but Casey is the one that saved the day. Chuck saved the day in Beard on his own, granted.
        In Tic Tac, if it wasn’t for Casey giving him the pill Chuck would have freaked oud (or not? – he didn’t think he could do it without it anyway) and if it wasn’t for Sarah he would have killed the guy.

        We can’t say that when Sarah ask him to reconsider going to his first solo mission she’s overprotective, and then when she let him deal with the choice he made in Nacho (after offering him an alternative) that’s she’s a bitch.

        Chuck can’t have it both ways. He can’t challenged Sarah everytime she tries to warn him, not saying that he can’t be a spy, but that it isn’t easy and that there are consequences, and then having her consoling him.

        When Chuck agreed to get of the car with Shaw, he agreed of Sarah being less overprotective of him.

        She may have seemed acting like his mother, but everytime she took a step back, we shot her down. Casey was better handled as a mentor that’s for sure but his position was easier too.

        As for Sarah going for Shaw… the screen didn’t show us what they intented too and for a TV show that’s never good.

    • andyt says:

      I really did not expect this kind of response to my thoughts. It is both gratifying and humbling to think that you guys found what I had to say remotely interesting.

      I can see Dave’s point very well. I think for a number of people the problem with the Shaw character revolved around his romantic moves on Sarah. However, I would point out that the same level of outrage did not seem leveled at the Hannah character. Is that because we saw Chuck with Lou and Jill, while Sarah’s romantic interests were largely off-camera? Remember, the white-hot Bryce/Sarah period was largely before Chuck began except for the flashback in “Break-up”. I think some were just more comfortable with Hannah because of previous ground work.

      Also, I the showrunners had clearly made Shaw the villian in planning the season it wasn’t a late edition. In fact, I believe that is why the Sarah-Shaw romance never developed. They always had him becoming the “moo-wah-wah” bad guy, so I think that colored how he was written and played. In fact, I believe that Brandon Routh always knew where the character was headed and that’s why he added the creepiness and almost psychotic vengance mode. Fedak even mentioned in an interview that if they knew ahead of time that they had 19 the Shaw turn would have come in 7 or 8 thus all the stuff after “Other Guy” would have come in episodes 9-19.

      I agree Roark made a great villain. It made Fulcrum more dangerous and again there was the personal connection to Stephen B. that made it powerful and dangerous.

      Ernie you should write a piece. Long is never bad

      • Cas says:

        I thought it was the other way around. I thought CF meant that if he had known they were going to get 19, then Chuck vs the Other Guy would have taken place in ep 7 or 8. The reason why I accepted Hannah was because she seemed like Chucks type. Like Jill and Lou, Hannah was a brunette, pretty, smart, and genuinely nice. Lets not forget that Jill was nice before she became a Fulcrum Agent. Shaw did not seem like Sarahs “type” and was nothing like Bryce and Cole. He was a Super spy according to the showrunners, but that’s not how he looked on screen. On screen, he was incompitent, cold, and just plain old creepy. I had no problem with Sarah dating other men, but that guy?

      • andyt says:

        I am sorry about the confusion, yes “Other Guy” would have been 7 or 8. I think that would have made S/S more of a rebound fling than the serious romance that was indicated. Also, I think Shaw did fit her category: dark haired, hunky professional spies. She had a default type as much as Chuck. In fact, their attraction to each other was moving out of their comfort zones(which for Chuck wasn’t much farther than the living room couch in the beginning).

      • kpl says:

        Even even though the Shaw/Sarah ting did span a lot of episodes the actual time they where together wasn’t that long. If you follow the time line those episodes span an amount of two till three weeks.

      • atcdave says:

        I think the big difference with Hannah was she did seem sweet and likeable, so our wrath was aimed at Chuck. I know I was pretty ticked with our hero; the obvious problem with getting involved with another civilian… it was like he just redid the Lou situation. It did not reflect well on him. It would also seem Sarah has not had any other romantic interests from when she met Chuck; I mean she was over Bryce, his rivalry seemed to be mostly Chuck’s in mind. And Cole was extremely short duration, more a notion than any action (one kiss and no thanks). Not that Cole didn’t bother us at the time; but he was nothing compared to the Sham. Shaw is the only time we saw Sarah distracted from Chuck for more than part of a single episode. It was not what many of us wanted to see, it was a shocking change for her character, and it DESTROYED an idealized romantic fantasy. So Shaw holds a special “honor.” I think it is the biggest disconect between writers and fans I’ve ever seen.

        Shaw did make a great villain, as did Roark. I think Shaw could have made an excellent villain even without the Sham. The main outcome of Sham was upset fans.

      • joe says:

        “I really did not expect this kind of response to my thoughts.”

        Gratifying, isn’t it, Andy?
        And a bit of a rush, too. 😉

  17. sd says:

    Well, Herder…Shaw did have a copy of the Kama Sutra in his penhouse loft 🙂

    Perhaps a bit off-topic…but I find it interesting that writers made it very clear at the start of the season that C/S never had sex (something that was much-discussed at the end of Colonel). And this season, the showrunners–while not saying the word) made it very clear S/S did get together–in the biblical sense.

    What does that mean? Perhaps nothing…but some have long suspected TPTB read the fan boards…and perhaps they made changes to scripts or added answers–especially in S3. And as much as we beg to differ….Schwartz did say the front 13 was all about the Sarah-Chuck relationship.

    I also read that Routh had difficulty playing the character b/c of script–and maybe–arc changes.

    Part of the bame, if you want to call it that, is probably the very thing we as fans wanted–a longer season.

    My hope is NBC makes next season a solid 13–and doesn’t waver– or tells the showrunners sooner than later the season will be longer.

    Anyway…a jumble of thoughts on this post…haven’t had enough coffee. 🙂

    • joe says:

      I detect an odd disconnect between the runners and the fans. Either we’re rubes who persist in conveying a kind of purity on a character (Sarah) that never was intended, or they just don’t understand what we’re seeing. Maybe they don’t understand what we *want* to see in her.

      I’m pretty sure they played the scene where Casey “interrogates” Sarah about Shaw’s penthouse suite for laughs. “Ha-Ha, let’s make Chuck uncomfortable!” But the revelation there was much more direct than any subtle inferences we’ve been given up to now. It did rankle (appears to be a common reaction!) and it seems a pretty mean thing to do to us after three seasons. Chuck and Sarah are together at this point, and we’re supposed to know that their bond is strong. So are they tweaking us about our own insecurities? Looks like it. That seems mean too.

      Or *are* we rubes, making too much of it? Dang those Hollywood sophisticates, anyway.

      • odysszeuss says:

        that’s the point. they never never never expected that chuck would create this “special” kind of fans. it seems some of the depth in the characters wasn’t really meant to establish. and wt/wt in season 3 “cost” the Sarah character. and that’s heard for us to see, because we see the Chuck world thru Sarah’s eye’s. kind of as if we have this relationship with Shaw. That’s a big pill to suffer…

      • jason says:

        joe – it is not a purity issue.

        Sarah willingly did it in 3.1, 6 months worth. Sarah was carina for most of her spy career. More than likely she was manipulated and seduced many time in her life, graham maybe, buys like roan, or even freddy williard types – why do you think she is so cold to men now.

        And sarah did shaw in 3.7, and 3.8, and more than likely alot between 3.8 and 3.12. When sarah said there are alot of stamps on her passport, but this is the first time she stopped to see the place, she may have indeed been talking about more than just europe.

        this was not a purity issue. But, what we saw in 3.7 thru 3.12 was troubling, near perverted, a totally unhappy person giving in to a manipulative seduction by a superior in a work environment. That person happenned to be a fan favorite, possibly the #1 fan favorite of the entire show.

        You can spin this, tilt this, rationalize this, retcon this, or the latest ‘rubitize’ this, really doesn’t matter, shaw simply failed to entertain the fans.

        Sure near everyone hates him so he made a nice villain at the end, that hatred was bought and paid for at way too high a price.

      • joe says:

        Hum… well put. Good catch on the “passport” line, too. Missed that one.

        I was about to ask you a question in this form, Jason. “If it’s not a question of purity, then what *is* it question of?”

        But I think you answered directly. “[W]hat we saw in 3.7 thru 3.12 was troubling, near perverted, a totally unhappy person giving in to a manipulative seduction by a superior in a work environment.”

        Is that right? Am I reading this wrong? The sentence makes it sound like Sarah is such a weak-willed character. Even lousy writing can’t change our opinion about her *that* much. Still, that’s precisely what I saw at the end of Fake Name; Sarah as a totally unhappy, totally lost person. My interpretation was that she was about to give in to a lot more than manipulation, btw.

        And that’s actually harder for me to take. I still have to think that Sarah was an active participant, if (possibly) ambivalent (“It’s Shaw or nobody. Might as well make it a hero.”). But then I’m back to wondering about “purity.” Yeah. She’s much more like Carina than we want to believe, and Sarah’s passport goes back much further than Shaw. Except that even as early as Wookie she was noticeably NOT like Carina. We were more or less told that meeting Chuck changed her. I want to be a rube when I think of Sarah’s character from The Pilot on.

        Sarah regressing should be okay; we’d permit it in any other character, I think. But even a joking reference to that got taken pretty hard when it concerned Shaw.

      • JC says:

        Honestly I think we as fans get Sarah the Agent and Sarah the real person confused.

        While she’s doing missions she’s strong and confident. She kicks the crap out of people and doesn’t take any B/S.

        But when she’s being “normal” she’s not strong or confident. She doesn’t fight for what she wants and settles for what life gives her.

        Honestly I think she’s the least self-confident woman that’s been on the show.

      • joe says:

        Hummm… As I’m reading your words, JC, I heard the Sarah Walker Fangirls say that they want “Sarah to be more Sarah next season.”. They want less of what she had to go through in S3.

        I think they’re talking precisely about what you said.

        We understood and accepted Bartowski vs Carmichael, and loved their integration into one whole character. Right? But Sarah vs. Agent Walker (and worse, vs. “Sam”) doesn’t play so well.

        I think we want “normal” Sarah to be a lot like Agent Walker, but with a soft side that’s exclusively for Chuck.

        Of course, I may be speaking strictly for myself here…

      • JC says:

        I think you said it best the integration of Agent Walker and Sarah hasn’t been handled that good compared to Chuck. Of course Chuck has had three seasons compared to six episodes for Sarah.

        We saw parts of it Role Models during the argument over the guns and hopefully next season they explore it more. I just don’t want her to be Chuck’s plus one let her character grow.

      • atcdave says:

        I think Joe, there’s a couple of disconnects at play. TPTB did themselves no favors by making light of the Sham in 3.17. Just like several lines in Fake Name, I can laugh at the scene and be offended at the same time. It was funny, but they removed any plausible “things never got that far” argument we might have tried to use. I’m not sure what planet these people are on where they think mistakes with exes are all that funny; I only find that stuff funny with a character I’m already willing to dismiss as a slime ball. With a character we all want to respect it is tragic beyond words.

        But the interesting thing is, many of us end up angrier at the writers themselves than we are at the characters. Its like Shaw took advantage of a sad and vulnerable Sarah Walker, and so did the writers. It is exploitative and gross to use a hurting person for personal pleasure; and I’d say the same about using a loved and respected character in a bad situation for cheap laughs.

        Of course we’re all making too big a thing of it. But it shouldn’t have been hard when looking at the mood of the fans to figure out we would take it badly. The character can be fixed more easily than the fan good will. I know we’ll never see an actual apology from TPTB (we’ve come closer than I ever expected, but still not quite) but an apology between the characters would be almost as good (Sarah apologizing for loosing faith in Chuck and trying to revert to a superficial and unsatisfying lifestyle would do the trick). I’m not sure why this still matters, but on some level it does. And yes I know perfectly well my values and standards are simply not the same as Hollywood. I’m going to guess that is true for most fans, and I’ll also guess JS still doesn’t get it.

      • weaselone says:

        Ah, the many stamps in her passport remark from “Honeymooners”. I actually noticed it on the first viewing and wondered whether it was a deliberate or unintentional bit of double entendre. I suppose that question was certainly answered for us during Casey’s interrogation.

        Personally, I never needed for Sarah to be pure and I suspect that is reasonably true for most fans. In many ways Sarah is as corrupted as Casey when she first strides into that Buy More, perhaps even more so as Casey is classified as a burnout which indicates some difficulty dealing with the weight of his past acts while Sarah is all gun ho about bagging her next mark. It’s Chuck who is generally the more pure character which is why he takes significantly more flack what are objectively far smaller transgressions. I think the real problem is that other than Shaw, Sarah became the most plot driven character in the show.

        As was pointed out, Sarah is actually the least self confident woman on the show. Her confidence extends no further than the mission at hand and apparently staring down Morgan, while caught red handed and largely unclothed drinking directly from the OJ container. In other words, Sarah is in many ways the female version of Chuck outfitted with a tough, dangerous and sexy persona courtesy of the CIA.

      • atcdave says:

        I think any purity arguement simply misses the point. Sarah is certainly experienced and professional when it comes to using her formidable charms to accomplish a mission; no one can really claim any sort of “purity” for her in that context. But I think weaselone goes the wrong way in comparing her to Casey; we know as early as Helicopter she is being excluded from discussions about killing Chuck, and she takes initiative in the Pilot to protect Chuck from the bunker; so I think its safe to read her as an idealist, or at least not yet burned out. Without Chuck, she would presumably end up like Casey; but Sarah Walker at the start does still have some ideals and is clearly different even from Carina. She cares about doing the right thing, not just her job; yet she will be corrupted without learning some lessons from our favorite nerd.

      • weaselone says:

        I’d flip that and say you’re doing a disservice to Casey. Casey was indeed a cold school killer, but he certainly had his own set of standards and convictions. The amount of separation between Casey and the Sarah we saw in episodes one and two wasn’t as much as a lot of us would like to believe. Chuck might have touched something in Sarah during that first meeting, but she was originally there to do a job and if Chuck hadn’t reached her she would have done it professionally and without remorse.

      • atcdave says:

        Obviously my take on Sarah is totally different. You use the term “without remorse” which I would say is 100% wrong. She was excluded from kill orders before anyone had any reason to think Chuck had an affect on her. I always read that as Graham and Beckman knowing she was not good for certain types of missions, that is, those that were fundamentally wrong. Chuck appealed to Carina in Wookie on the grounds “Sarah’s not like that” and Carina conceded the point.
        I think as far as protecting Chuck’s interests go, Sarah was utterly trustworthy from the beginning. She was his ally within the system, and would interperet orders in a way most benificial to Chuck from the start, simply because that was her nature. It obviously took a while before that would extend that to actually going against the system for Chuck’s benefit. But I do think it was in her nature to protect and defend from the start.

        I think that’s how it ought to be too. The vast majority of civil servants I know (remember I am one, so that means all my co-workers) take seriously the idea helping people and providing a public service. We also know an immoral order is an illegal one. Not that anyone really wants to challenge the US government, but we are all aware it is a theoretical possibility.
        I simply see Sarah as a good and moral civil servant, who over time “falls in love” with her job. Actually, good soldier might be a better descriptor because of the risks she incurs in her profession; but the moral requirements are exactly the same. Casey is a burn out as he no longer really cares about the thought or reason behind his orders (yeah, I’ve worked with some of them too). So Chuck has meant at least as much Casey’s growth as he has to Sarah.

      • weaselone says:

        I didn’t mean to suggest that Sarah didn’t have have some sort of moral compass or that government civil servants were in some way mindless, soulless automatons. I also wasn’t extending Sarah’s feelings regarding the seduction of a potential mark to how she would feel about killing an innocent civilian. I do think that several things are clear.

        1. When Sarah walks into the Buy More her concerns are on accomplishing a mission and I doubt she has serious misgivings about using her appearance to play on the feelings of a lowly nerd herd employee.

        2. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned with possible injuries she’s inflicted on civilians when she jumps into her car after the destruction of Chuck’s computer.

        3. In Helicopter, she doesn’t seem to concerned about manipulating the feelings of her assets in order to secure the CIA’s claim on him.

        So while I agree that Sarah isn’t a stone cold killer (she just as a list of confirmed kills a mile long) and does indeed have a conscience that prevents her superiors from trusting her with the termination of an innocent asset she was assigned to protect, when we initially see her job and what she’s willing to do for it dominates a lot of her more human traits.

      • atcdave says:

        I do agree with most of that weaselone (especially your first point). And again I have no doubt she will behave in ways most of us would find unpleasant to accomplish her missions. But I do see a distinct difference between Sarah’s conscience and Casey’s. There is a school of thought that portrays Sarah as stone cold killer who will do anything for a mission; and I don’t believe that’s true. We were shown from the beginning she is different.

      • andyt says:

        I have never had much trouble with the “purity” issue. I always thought that Sarah was the more “worldly” of the two from the beginning. She was about 26 or 27 at the start of the show. She had been to college and then a professional spy for almost 4 to 5 years. She probably had boyfriends in college, and she and Bryce were certainly not “celibate”. I think the “purity” is more perception on the part of viewers because much of Sarah’s pre-Chuck romatic life was history and not shown on camera. Whereas, Chuck had Lou and Jill in S1 and S2, well only Jill in the biblical sense.

        In fact Joe, I think that it was Chuck’s innocence and “purity” that attracted Sarah in the first place. Here was a man who wasn’t the cynical professional whose romantic motives had to be questioned.

      • atcdave says:

        I do agree Andy. I don’t think anyone can actually claim any sort of historic purity for Sarah. She has apparently been well behaved since meeting Chuck which is commendable in its own way, and until Shaw, I had hoped it continue until she and Chuck got together. Of course I had hoped the same thing for Chuck, and was disappointed in Chuck much sooner (yes, my values are very conservative!).

      • joe says:

        I can certainly agree with that.

        But I’m not sure it helps. You see, I think my difficultly isn’t with the moral aspects so much (I agree that Sarah was absolutely more worldly, as you put it). It’s that they both fell back to their previous states and handle it so differently. Chuck’s is naiveté and a kind of disconnectedness that comes close to childishness and gaming-addiction. Sarah’s is cynical coldness that approaches promiscuity.

        Chuck falls back to that but gets out of it. Sarah doesn’t seem to find her path at all until Chuck leads her. That’s not very Sarah Walker like. It’s much more like Sam.

        But now I’m over analysing. I bet if I was to watch S3 from front to back and pay attention to this, I’d see something completely different going on with Sarah.

      • 904 says:

        We’re projecting a lot on the sexual history of the Sarah character that I’m not sure is intended, thanks to a couple of off-color remarks, primarily from Casey.

        Things we know:
        1. We know from Cougars that as a 17-18 year old she wasn’t a burgeoning sex kitten. We have to imagine that she didn’t blossom overnight.

        2. Casey has referenced “falling for her partners,” but we know of only Bryce from her past and that seems like a couple year relationship. That’s typical Casey teasing hyperbole for effect.

        3. While Sarah was in her fake relationship with Chuck, she never “broke it off” or became romantically involve with another. Cole pursued, but Sarah stopped that from going further. In that time, meanwhile, Chuck pursued Lou and slept with Jill.

        4. Sarah likely has used her seduction skills for her job. She did with Cole and in Crown Vic, and likely had an inimate relatioship with Gilles pre-3.1. But we must accept that as part of the job and not a reflection of the character. However, we were not led to believe she had any personal relationships between Prague and Chuck’s return.

        5. Chuck was much more receptive to Hannah’s initial advances than Sarah was to Shaw’s. Chuck slept with Hannah and made a scene in Castle before Sarah “slept?” with Shaw. Chuck basically gave her permission to see Shaw.

        6. Shaw was chasing, interested, convenient, and available when Chuck wasn’t. Chuck had moved on with Hannah in Sarah’s seat at the Bartowski table. Sarah was trying to do the same. Did she ever love Shaw? No. We see that in how she responds to Chuck in Exam and Hero. It was different. It was the backup plan; the escape route. A lot of us have probably been in relationships like this: the right for now, the fillers until we figure out what we want. Why should we hold a character to an unfair standard?

        Verdict: she has a history, baggage, old boyfriends, flings and seduced marks, but we aren’t shown a Sarah who is someone who uses sex in lieu of self worth. If so, she wouldn’t have been with Bryce for so long, and she would have acted on those urges everytime Chuck pulled away. One Shaw does not make a trend.

      • Paul says:

        I think the reason why a lot of folks have a hard time swallowing S/S is that it feels to a lot of people like a “betrayal”. Even before Sarah’s confession in 3.13, WE know she loves Chuck. WE know she wants to be with him, but can’t. So for her to be with someone else sticks in our craw, because WE know that Chuck is the right man for her. The problem is CHUCK doesn’t know that. What HE knows is that Sarah essentially blew him off after his vault apology. So he moves on (or at least tries to). It’s only because as the audience, we has insight into what each character is thinking and know that each is really still in love with the other. THAT is why it feels as “icky” as it does.

        That, and we also tend to project onto the characters just a wee bit… 😉

      • andyt says:

        Joe, I think you are correct in that after the events in Prague both Chuck and Sarah fall back into their old patterns. For Sarah that pattern is cynical and cold because she is a professional spook. She even tells Chuck that he is a spy now and that he can’t have emotions. Her pattern was to have emotionally meaningless relationships because men can let her down, her Father, Bryce, now Chuck. That might be the reason that she seems so shell-shocked you might say. She saw Chuck as different and at least momentarily he seemed to let her down like all other men.

        I think that is why it took Chuck to bring her out of it. I would argue that it was Sarah Walker like. At least on the surface, she went back to who she was before the Pilot. In fact, I now believe that that was one of the points made in Nacho Sampler. It was not only about where Sarah was at the beginning but also where she was at that present moment. That is why Shaw never bothered me. For her he was a convenient back-up plan to get out of Burbank and away from Chuck. I am sure that she expected it to fall apart rather quickly and him to let her down just as every man in her life had at some point. Her cynicism was bred by her life experiences, only Chuck had been able to break through it both before and here in Season 3.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        A lot of interesting points here, and it helps that I’m working on a rather large and growing post on this topic. It may take a while. But I want to add a few things I’m planning to touch on.

        Clearly Sarah was a lot more Carina-like before meeting Chuck and in the post-Prague period. It’s not just Casey, Carina also seems to indicate a past where she and Sarah had a lot more in common in Wookie. Carina also remarks on Sarah’s penchant to mix business and personal feelings a bit too much as opposed to Carina’s business and pleasure model. So it isn’t Sarah’s past we’re concerned with. As Sarah herself admits rather sheepishly in Nacho Sampler she connected with Chuck in a way she hadn’t with other marks. In Other Guy she admits she fell for Chuck almost immediately (I say on the date) but I’m not sure she realized it, or knew exactly what it was for quite some time. I still look to Truth as the pivotal episode where she had to admit to herself what she was feeling. As early as Wookie I think it was clear that Sarah knew she cared more about what Chuck thought of her than she should. The guilt over being caught in the lie about Bryce, her horror at what Carina had told Chuck about her and spies, and finally her need to tell Chuck one true thing about herself, even if she wasn’t sure he heard it. She needed to confirm he wasn’t just a mark for some reason, even if only to herself. But I thought something interesting happened in Truth. Sarah watched Awsome and Ellie on the double date like a hawk, clearly drinking in their joy with each other. By this time Chuck was well acquainted with faking it, and clearly growing tired of pining for an unavailable woman. Sarah saw his attraction waning, both in the way he responded to Lou and how she needed to initiate every “cover” situation while Chuck seemed more and more distant. Sarah, I think, finally was dealing with something new to her, losing a guy. She didn’t deal with it particularly well then either. To be fair she was still assigned to protect him, so some of the clingyness could be explained. With Jill I thought she handled things better. She knew she couldn’t give Chuck what he wanted from a relationship given their situation, and seemed to accept that it wasn’t fair to Chuck to prevent him from having something real. Hannah was much the same deal. Sarah wasn’t willing or able to be what Chuck wanted or needed, and Chuck’s big mistake was to think Hannah could be, or rather he could be what Hannah needed or deserved. But in moving on with Shaw Sarah did something we never saw before, she gave up on Chuck, even as a friend. She shut him out.

        One of Chuck’s great strengths has always been his ability to see the good parts of people. I don’t think he was ever as taken in by Sarah’s mask as she thought he was. That’s why she could hurt him so deeply. He knew there was an underlying reality to her “handling” him and that she really was trying to help him. But he also understood her situation. There was a connection, but she couldn’t let it get too real. A lot of what we admired about Sarah was that she committed to that connection, eventually, rather than try to deny or suppress it. She didn’t treat Chuck like a mark because he didn’t deserve it. He was a good guy caught in a bad situation through no fault of his own trying to do the right thing. Some of the most cringe inducing moments are when Sarah tries to use Chuck’s attraction to control him, or when she tries to re-establish her professional persona at Chuck’s expense, when she treats him like a mark. The best Sarah moments were when she acknowledged more or less openly to Chuck that there was a reality underlying the fake relationship, and that while things couldn’t be the way they wanted she was committed to him and put his interests first, not a mark. Basically she was telling him that she would earn his trust and love, and he wasn’t a fool for feeling the way he did. The lowest low point for Sarah is when Shaw convinces her to order Chuck to kill Perry, essentially confirming the only way Chuck would consider such a thing is if she manipulates him into it. The result, when she thinks she was successful and yet still holds Chuck responsible was basically the complete destruction of the Sarah we knew and loved at the hands of Shaw, and yet it was him she turned to, shutting Chuck out when he needed her most, as a friend. To call it inexplicable as Dave points out, is a bit of an understatement. It made Sarah look like both a manipulative Shaw clone and a mark.

      • joe says:

        Ernie, brilliant. And I disagree with one, vital idea.

        Perry, the final test, and Sarah giving Chuck the order.

        It’s clear that Shaw manipulated Sarah into proctoring that test. But did Sarah manipulate Chuck? To me, manipulation would be something like “Okay, you do this, and then it’s all over and we can finally be together.” She didn’t say that, or even come close. It was much more like “If you really want to be a spy, then this is what you must do. Now, do you really want to be a spy?” Wasn’t it?

        It’s hard to let Chuck off the hook at all, because he had no illusions at that point. He made the decision. I’m hoping we can believe that one of the reasons Sarah decides on Chuck (and not Shaw) was because he wouldn’t let himself be manipulated by her.

        By not pulling the trigger, he proved that.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joe, I take your point that she didn’t outright lie to him, although she came close in what she did and didn’t say. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

        The manipulation started from the point where Chuck clearly thought he passed and visited Sarah in the O-O. She knew he still had strong feelings for her and wanted to be together from the stake-date. She also knew she’d (apparently) already started something with Shaw in DC and was at the very least considering moving away. In short Sarah was ending things even as she knew Chuck wanted to re-start things. That’s the real damage the interrogation in 3.17 did. It confirmed Sarah had started a relationship with Shaw, and wasn’t telling Chuck about it. She also knew Chuck’s test wasn’t over. We can excuse her not telling Chuck that part as a part of her duties and the test, but in doing that, inviting him to dinner when she knew he thought it was about something else, them, she was playing him like a mark.

        Sarah, under false pretenses, brought Chuck to the time and place where he was ordered to kill a dangerous traitor, or lose everything he worked for.

        Sarah: Chuck, you’re going to want to stay calm right now, okay? I need you to trust me.

        Trust. Something Sarah always earned and deserved from Chuck, and now she’s using his trust for her to achieve Shaw’s ends.

        Sarah: The final part of your
        mission is to kill him.

        Chuck: Are you being serious right now? Are you kidding me? Kill him here, now? I can’t do that.

        Sarah: Then you won’t become a spy.

        Chuck: But then…we couldn’t…

        Sarah: No. Probably not.

        Chuck: Sarah, when all this started, I didn’t think I had a chance at ever becoming a real spy. But if I… if I can’t do this, then-then… then what’ll I be?

        Sarah: Then you’ll be Chuck,and there is nothing wrong with that. That’s all I can say. I’m sorry. The rest is your decision.

        Through omission, Sarah dangled herself out there as the prize. Sarah knew that Chuck saw becoming an agent as removing the last obstacle to them being together in addition to him answering his calling. She was truthful when she said that if he wasn’t an agent they probably couldn’t be together, but she omitted that probably not was the answer the the unasked question. If he did become a spy could they be together? Probably not. She left out very crucial information Chuck needed to know if he was basing his decision even partly on how his decision would affect their relationship. 1) She was moving on. 2) She didn’t want him to do it, and if he did he’d no longer be the man she loved.

        Sarah set Chuck up to make a decision that would change his life, and she left out crucial information. She played him like a mark, for Shaw.

      • JC says:

        And in that scene we get a rare flash of anger from Chuck. I have to believe he knew Sarah played him. So by trying to arrest Perry didn’t Chuck make his choice. He chose his own morality over being with Sarah.

        If anything Chuck still wanting to run away with her after that, is a testament to his character. Even his speech at the end of Am Hero, he shoulders all blame on himself.

      • Paul says:

        Ernie, very good points. But I think you left out one important detail: WHY Sarah agreed to be the one to give Chuck the order to kill Perry in the first place. Shaw was going to send Chuck out on the mission whether Sarah was involved or not. But Sarah also knew (and verbalized) that if Chuck froze (which he did), he would be a sitting duck for Perry. As Shaw said, Chuck would do it if Sarah told him to. So, Sarah is now in a quandry. Tell Chuck to kill, and thereby become a person whom she couldn’t love, or don’t give the order, but in all likelihood Chuck would be dead by morning. So Sarah did the only thing she could do for the one person she probably has ever been in love with: she sacrifices that love in exchange for his life. And that is why I felt Shaw was a bastard at that moment.

      • atcdave says:

        I think it would played better, and been truer to character if Sarah had added that she would personally prefer he didn’t do it. In short, when Chuck asked if they could be together if he didn’t do it; she only answered “probably not”, which was an evasion. The flip side of could they be together if Chuck DID do it was “definitely not”. But Chuck never asked that question.

      • Crumby says:

        I still have mixed feelings on the subject.

        Sarah inviting Chuck to the restaurant was part of his test, he wasn’t supposed to know he was going on a mission. Considering she didn’t know he would be asked to kill Perry at the time, and telling him the invitation wasn’t what he thought it was would have had him asking questions. So it didn’t bother me.

        Then the restaurant, it’s really hard to settle on one opinion for me.

        But there are things I found unfair to Sarah.

        She did warn Chuck that the spy world would ask him to change and he never listened to her.
        He chose that being a spy was more important to him everytime, except when it came to save the people he loved like Casey in Tic Tac.
        Until the red test, he wasn’t apparently willing to do the same thing to save himself (that’s how Sarah saw it anyway I think).

        Until that episode, he didn’t do anything that would make Sarah think he wanted her back. And when he talked about them being together at the stake out, he said that they could be when he would be a spy. Once again, it seemed like being a spy came first.

        Sarah faulted by not telling him that she didn’t want him to become that guy who shoots people on orders. She faulted by omission.

        But Chuck faulted by choosing himself a plan and following it, whether it was what Sarah wanted or not.
        In American Hero, he said “wasn’t this the plan? There’s nothing stopping us from being together now, I passed my spy test.”
        Was it the plan? Because it didn’t appear that clear to me. He never really asked Sarah if that was what she wanted.

        So to come back to the restaurant scene, Sarah first asked Chuck to stay calm, so that he wouldn’t freaked out, so that he could take is decision calmly and not put his life his danger. That’s the first reason she came.

        She then gave him his orders and told him that yes he add to do it to become a spy.

        Then when he said “we couldn’t…” she said “no, probably not” and that well, that didn’t stop him before. He chose being a spy over her months ago. Why should she think it’s different this time? Nothing in what he said to her earlier indicates that he would choose her over being a spy.
        He said in American Hero “It just finally clicked for me, you know? Sarah is, is the most important thing. I mean, what’s the point of being a spy without her?” To me it proved that he didn’t know that before the red test and Sarah certainly didn’t know it either. So saying they probably wouldn’t be together if he wasn’t a spy but “then [he]’ll be Chuck, and there is nothing wrong with that”, I don’t think that was a handler move over her mark.

        Finally, she stepped away telling him, it was HIS decision, not hers. He had to make that decision for himself, he had to decide what kind of guy he wanted to be, regardless of her opinion.

        He asked her all season to let him get out of the car, and now that a real hard decision has to be made she should decide for him? No, and he did make the right decision for himself. She told Shaw, she didn’t think he’d do it. She didn’t think she had convinced him into killed Perry. She didn’t think she had played her mark.

        The angst that was played afterward is to blame IMO. First, Sarah was too far away from Chuck on the train tracks, she should have been able to protect him if he had frozen (which he did). But she had to be far so that she wouldn’t see that Casey was the shooter. Second, having Sarah going to Shaw of course… It would have been so much better if Beckman had been the one giving Sarah the order.

        Then again I’m so not settled on how to see the scene I could argue the exact opposite tomorrow…

  18. ez says:

    I think that most of our problems with Shaw/Sarah stems down to that they failed at selling the Shaw character. The story called for a super-spy that did what the job required him to do, though with good intentions. A Bryce kind of character.

    Especially episodes 7-9 did him a huge disfavor in that regard, they made him seem incompetent, manipulative and creepy. A person I never could see Sarah falling for.

    Had it been the character S/F told us he was I wouldn’t really had any problem with it. She’s also trying to move on, but not really succeeding at it.

    • joe says:

      Hum… I think I understand, ez. But really, Shaw was introduced as a creepy character from the very first, even when all we saw was the back of his head and the look on Beckman’s face.

      Truth be told, I actually bought Shaw as a hero for a while too (and I think I’m ashamed to admit it now! 😉 ) It was the double turn around that, from a story-telling point of view, really bugged me. I don’t know if you read what I wrote about Am. Hero, but I was extremely upset at Sarah’s casual acceptance of his manipulations.

      It was played much more effectively in Subway and The Ring pt. 2, though. Shaw comes off as masterfully manipulative. This time, Sarah doesn’t buy it, of course and that makes her punch much more satisfying.

      • andyt says:

        Actually, I always felt that there was something off about the Shaw character from the beginning. He seemed creepy, weird from the start that is why I never got upset about the S/S romance. I didn’t exactly believe he would turn evil but subconciously I certainly responded to the signals that the writers were putting in the piece. He seemed to know more than the rest of the team about the Ring. The scene with him watching the team at the end of Operation Awesome is clearly now foreshadowing of his evil turn. It was made clear that he was single minded about getting revenge for his wife’s death. He had these moments of psychotic breaks in other episodes. Also, the end of Mask(I know for some the most hated episode ever) has the same foreshadowing about him becoming the villain when the Ring director kills his operative for even threatening Shaw. The Ring wants to turn him and it knows it can. I believe that the elements are layered in for all of the events.

    • sd says:

      Great post, Ernie…Joe I do beg to differ on the point about Sarah…the thing that really upset me about the exchange between Sarah and Chuck at the R/R restaurant was that she did manipulate him by essentially speaking the truth.

      Remember this comes the day(? )after the “near kiss” between Sarah and Chuck when Chuck tells her”… if I pass this test, we can be together…” the “near kiss” surely makes him realize Sarah is interested.

      So–fast forward to that restaurant meeting and Sarah basically tells him that by not passing the red test he will fail as a spy..and he would be correct, they could never be together (I’m paraphrasing from memory). But he would be Chuck–and that would be alright. Well, that’s kinda lame since she knows and he knows that’s not enough…he wants Sarah.

      So yes, Chuck was left to make a choice…but whether it was truth-telling or manipulation–Sarah really wasn’t giving Chuck much of a choice. Why didn’t she deflect the question Chuck poses? We know Sarah is good doing that.

      It was the one scene that really, really bothered me about the Sarah character direction this season….more so than Shaw, truth be told.

      • sd says:


        I agree on most all of what you said…but I don’t think Sarah was playing him on the stake date…it’s not how I interperted it…I also don’t think she knew about the red test when they saw each other at the O-O. Didn’t that scene come before the Shaw “you have to order the red test” dialog with Sarah?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree, she wasn’t playing him on the stake-date. She didn’t deny there was something between her and Shaw, and that what she and Chuck had was different, and that she still had feelings too (from the mutual approach to the almost kiss). The manipulation started after that, when she knew of Chuck’s feelings and still used them. Sarah had done that in the past, when she was Chuck’s handler, but in the past it was clearly for his own good, for the most part. In this case it was to put him in a no-win situation that could either kill him or change him forever into something he never wanted to be.

      • lucian says:

        Ernie – well stated. This is the same woman who is all excited when Shaw punches a guy handcuffed to a chair. Good thing Chuck isn’t her type.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Lucian, I think Joe pointed out some of the reason for this. Shaw, even when he was a “good guy” was morally compromising both Chuck and Sarah. Shaw’s big goal was to get Chuck to shoot someone in the back apparently, and he was willing to use Sarah to make it happen.

        When we met Sarah she was a spy (with the past and all), but whether it started before Chuck or with Chuck she had her own rules. She was never comfortable playing Chuck and tried to be straight with him as far as possible. She tried not to involve other civilians, and tried to protect Chuck’s family and Chuck from the consequences of what Chuck needed to do. Sarah was a spy on her terms, and eventually put Chuck’s interests and protection as her first priority. Chuck has tried to be a spy in that mold, he modeled his idea of what a spy should be on Sarah.

        Sarah didn’t want Chuck to become a spy like Shaw, and was apparently afraid he’d turn to the dark side (if you will) if he were to try to become a spy like her. The funny part is that without Chuck, as she turned to Shaw for support or guidance or, god forbid, as a moral anchor, she was close to becoming what she feared Chuck would. A Shaw clone.

        I think that is why she was suddenly willing to run at the end of American Hero. She finally realized how close she and Shaw came to destroying what was best about both Chuck and herself, their stubborn refusal to cross certain lines, and their refusal to give up on each other.

      • AngelTwo says:

        I think this may be unprecedented in TV: To understand what happened this season vis a vis Chuck-Hannah and Sarah-Shaw we actually have to ignore what we saw on the screen (and how it affected us) and rely on what TPTB say they meant to depict.

        For both Chuck and Sarah, they were pitching “perfect” partners had life not changed after Chuck and Sarah met each other. For “normal guy” Chuck, Hannah was perfect. For “superspy” Sarah, Shaw was perfect. That it is not quite what we saw on the screen, of course. Hannah was kind of a love-struck stalker. And Shaw was creepy and erratic. But to save your sanity and the canon, I think it’s best to accept that Hannah would have been perfect for pre-Intersect Chuck and Shaw would have perfect for pre-Chuck Sarah. It really is as simple as that–if you can embrace what TPTB say rather than the mess they showed.

        Why did Chuck eventually reject Hannah? Because he knew he loved Sarah and his spy destiny was intertwined with hers. We did see that fairly convincingly on the screen. Why did Sarah eventually choose Chuck? Because she knew the kind of relationship she was having with Shaw (which we can assume was roughly equivalent to what she had with Bryce and what was being pitched to her by Cole) simply wasn’t good enough anymore. Once she was convinced Chuck-the-spy was still the decent guy she fell for, she went there. And in fairness to TPTB, they have written Sarah in the back six as honestly admitting she has no idea how to be in a real relationship.

        If you get any deeper into it based on what you saw on the screen (or the blatantly conflicting dialogue in several episodes) it gets bizarre because Season 3 was badly written and badly told. Especially because the Shaw they were trying to depict–the superspy who understands that spy relationships are different because they could end in a moment and must come second to the job–was never properly formulated. (And since we are all fans of Sarah, we can’t imagine her being with him based on the flawed execution of Shaw character we saw on the screen.) But TPTB really were going for something less complicated than we’re making it. They just did a rotten job of telling the story.

      • herder says:

        Really, the ending of both the Shaw and Hannah romances was badly handled. Chuck realized that his persuit Hannah was wrong and she pointed out that he was being a s*** and that he wasn’t a nice guy. Sarah never really decided that seeing Shaw was not a good idea until after deciding to leave with Chuck (my reading) and then finding out that she had killed his wife.

        They each got it half right, they shouldn’t have been with other people because they still had feelings for each other. But neither got it completely right and the Sarah part was dragged out at least three episodes too long.

        The other thing is that they had too many jarring Chuck/Sarah bits: the break up in Prague, the end of the Mask, the Fake Name, then the American Hero with too few positive bits. A rollercoaster ride is supposed to have ups and downs not down, plateau, down, plateau, down, plateau and then an up at the end. Honestly, I’m not sure one episode of up makes up for all the downs of the first thirteen.

      • AngelTwo says:

        Herder: I agree that the execution was AWFUL and convoluted. Which is why, to save our sanity, we probably should just fall back on what TPTB have claimed: Hannah and Shaw were meant to be “perfect” choices for Chuck and Sarah had they not rocked each other’s respective worlds.

        That neither Hannah nor (especially) Shaw were shown that way in the episodes underlines just how poor Season 3 is: It was badly conceived, hastily written and repeatedly rewritten and poorly told.

        And to save sanity, it is probably also worth forgetting that NOTHING we saw in Season 3 was actually much different than what we’d already learned in Season 1/2: Chuck loved Sarah because he could see past her constipated view of how life could work and Sarah loved Chuck because he was a decent guy and a hero by disposition, not training. We knew that coming into Season 3 and nothing they told us changed that. It just made us angry–and I’m tired of being angry at it.

      • atcdave says:

        Someone had asked earlier why we were angrier about Shaw than Hannah; and part of it ties into this discussion. Hannah’s portrayal came closer to convincing she could have been Chuck’s perfect match in another life. Shaw simply never played that way; he was manipulative and scheming from the start and always put “the mission” above anyone’s welfare; even when Sarah used underhanded techniques (and yes, she did occasionally manipulate Chuck) she was never willing to sacrifice Chuck’s well being (even trying to protect Chuck with Graham and Beckman way back in 1.03). So Shaw just always seems unworthy of Sarah.

        Add to that, the Sham went on WAY too long, it generates far more anger than Hannah ever did.

      • jn says:

        Shaw as a love interest sucked, and the worst romantic paring I ever have seen. I could never see Sarah falling for that guy, even just for comfort during a hard time. The Sham was lingering for too many episodes before it got resolved. But at least in the timeline of the show it didn’t last that long, no more than two weeks (three at tops).

    • AngelTwo says:

      atcDave: With all due respect, I think you’re putting Sarah on too high a pedestal. The Sarah we saw in Season 1/2 was the softened-by-Chuck Sarah. The one pre-Chuck glimpse of Sarah the spy was in Break-up and she coldly takes the shot at great risk to Bryce, who was then her romantic partner. So, in fairness, even before the mess of Season 3, TPTB wanted you to understand that Sarah WAS the cold, emotions-in-control, job-over-everything superspy that the show posits as “classic”

      Shaw was SUPPOSED to be that, too. They botched the execution. That’s why I say, in TPTB’s collective mind, Sarah and Shaw were a “perfect” match in a different time and space.

      We all adore Sarah, but the Sarah we adore is the one who has loved and been loved by Chuck. While I don’t it’s fair to suggest she was Carina (she clearly was not, both from her moral stance and her other spy tactics), it is clear TPTB have always wanted you to view her as being from the Bryce/Cole mold.

      • JC says:

        But to be fair Bryce/Cole never came off as these cold emotionless spies either. It was Season 3 that created this notion of being a spy made you a ruthless killer.

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks for that JC, I think that is my point exactly. Bryce and Cole are closer parallels to a pre-Chuck Sarah. Sorry, Shaw just strikes me as slime; Bryce and Cole never came across quite so badly, they still cared about the human element in their jobs, whereas Shaw lost it before we met him.

      • JC says:

        Honestly I think they went out there way to show Cole and especially Bryce as good people. Look at whenever Bryce showed up, he did what was best to keep Chuck and Sarah safe.

        If anything Chuck and Bryce are somewhat the same in being spies. Both are selfless and willing to the right thing, only difference is the lines they’re willing to cross.

      • atcdave says:

        I do agree Bryce and Cole were meant to be good guys. I see Chuck as more focused on individuals, and less on abstract ideas. Whereas Shaw has sort of lost his way (much like Casey in the beginning).

        So when Chuck enters their lives he can better them as individuals. The change is most dramatic on Sarah and Casey who have the most contact with him; they both become better people, especially Casey who was seriously burned out at the start.

        Shaw is twisted and obsessed at the start, so I never rate him as a very good guy. He finally looses his mind entirely in American Hero, so Chuck never gets to work his magic on him.

      • JC says:

        That was one of major problems with his character. To have the heel turn mean something, they actually have to show the hero being heroic.

      • AngelTwo says:

        Again, I really think this is about the execution, not the intent. I agree with ALL of you about how Shaw came across as creepy and all that. But it wasn’t what TPTB were going for. If we can at least try to view Shaw the way TPTB intended, then Sarah’s actions make sense.

        As for Bryce and Cole, well, again, we LIKE Bryce and Cole. (Well, at least I do…) So with think better of them.

        And since I hate Season 3 with a passion, I really don’t WANT to defend it. I’m simply suggesting that we perhaps accept TPTB’s intentions for Shaw, so we can accept Sarah’s decisions, so we don’t eat our hearts out over it. At some point, it’s time to let go…and the only way to let go is to allow Fedak and Schwartz to have it their way.

        And, of course, as atcDave said so well long ago: never watch another Schwartz show again so he can’t do it to us again.

      • atcdave says:

        OK Angeltwo, I do see your point. But I’m not so worried about driving myself nuts (too late!). I really don’t want to let them have their way on this; its a slippery slope from there to letting them think we’re buying into it! I know, silly arguement. I do understand what they have said and what we were supposed to think. But I never want to end a discussion with apparent acceptance of it; I would prefer to hammer on why it didn’t work, lest anyone get any funny ideas about trying it again (yeah I know, like they’re really reading this stuff or care what we say anyway!).

      • joe says:

        [Y]eah I know, like they’re really reading this stuff or care what we say anyway!

        Heh! Sure about that, Dave? 😉

        Look at this. I go away for a couple of hours (my clavicle is healing nicely, btw) and you guys go and have an incredible discussion without me.

        I won’t have a chance to comment on each, but they certainly deserve notice and consideration. Thank you, all.

        Now carry on!

      • atcdave says:

        Joe, I know you’ve always been optimistic about them paying attention to us. I do hope you’re right, and we have seen some signs they pay attention fan response and opinions. But I’m not sure that any given comment, on any given day, ever gets read by anyone but us amusing ourselves. Which is fine, I do this mainly for my own enjoyment. It would be really funny to hear them talk about specifically how utterly clueless atcDave is and how he never understands their true genius, but I’m not holding my breath.

      • AngelTwo says:

        atcDave: Well, I take my comfort this way: Sarah got two great shots in on Shaw in 18/19. The whack she got in at the end of Ring Part II was for the story. In my mind, I’m gonna think that Sarah sucker-punching Shaw in Subway was Klemmer and Adler’s apology for Mask and Fake Name.

        Whenever I get angry at the slop we were served up in Season 3, I’ll remember Sarah’s sucker-punch and go to my happy place. Because payback, like love, suits Sarah… 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        That’s a great way of looking at it A2, thanks.

  19. sd says:

    I agree, Ernie. I think the writers came perilously close to making Sarah an unsympathetic character. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the scene at the restaurant put Chuck in a situation with no clear win….all b/c of the way Sarah answered–or didn’t–answer his question.

    Was it: 1-That despite the “near kiss” and interchange with Chuck she decided to “throw her lot” in with Shaw? Don’t buy it.
    2-Still deeply hurt over Chuck’s decision in Prague (which we kinda were given the impression she finally understood after Carina gave her the thumb drive) she just threw the spy life in Chuck’s face—“you wanna be a spy” well, these are the tough, gut wrenching choices you have to make that I tried to warn you about. Maybe
    3-The writers were backed into a corner and had to move the plot along….so they hoped we would forget what we saw an episode before and would forget about Sarah’s past character development re: Chuck. Thinkin yes.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well said SD. I don’t think there was any joy or revenge on Sarah’s part, and her recognition of how morally complicit she was in Chuck’s “loss of innocence” was glossed over a bit too much for how much it should have affected the character. Kind of this season’s Mauser moment. Like you I’m going with option 3. They wanted some angst and to delay Sarah and Chuck getting together, so they manufactured a situation that didn’t quite fly, again.

    • atcdave says:

      What they manufactured is the most offensive part of the whole thing. Its not like the Red Test is a real world thing, its something they made up for their own mythology. And it becomes the centerpiece of one of my least favorite scenes ever. This becomes one of those moments where I don’t even care what the characters are thinking, the whole situation is false and manufactured; its like some of those silly “what would you do in an impossible/improbable no win situation?” Don’t know, don’t care.

      • JC says:

        They didn’t even come up the idea, it was taken directly from Casino Royale/ Le Femme Nikita.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh yeah, I should have known that. So even worse, its a non-original manufactured inconvenience.

      • Crumby says:

        Dave – I just re-saw a scene in Alias where they talk about tests that agent/analyst had to take before working to the CIA. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show but in the scene the guy explains what kind of question he had to answer:
        “Who would you rather kill? “A” your mother, “B” your father, “C” yourself,
        and “none of the above” wasn’t an option. What does that measure?”
        And Sydney answered “How you see yourself
        in relation to authority. Whether or not you’d sacrifice your life for your country.”

        That kind of “paper” test doesn’t bother me, and the explanation worked for me.
        But the red test it’s another story.

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks Crumby, that’s interesting. I watched Alias one season and got tired of it. That is the sort of question that makes me roll my eyes, but of course, it is far less troubling than actually being required to kill someone. It just reminds of things like the wartime myth among the Japanese that to be a US Marine you had to kill your own parents. It worries me that people may believe the “Red Test” too.

  20. sd says:

    Thanks, Ernie…

    AngelTwo…at the end of the day…your summary is likely spot on.

    It would be interesting if the writers and showrunners do a post-mortem at the end of the season…and if so…they bring up some of what we have been discussing.

    I think the simple–and I’m sure accurate–explanation of the season you discuss, AngelTwo, is what they planned. What they gave us was as murky as what the Gulf of Mexico has unfortunately become.

    And not to get off topic…but saw a long preview of Undercover. I don’t know, the preview didn’t scream I can’t wait to watch. I will say…it may seem similar on paper to Chuck…but is very different.

    • AngelTwo says:

      SD: You know what I was thinking could actually “fix” things? A clip show. I mean, maybe wrap it around an event like Chuck and Sarah getting engaged and then they just talk about their long and winding road. It would solve a practical problem (the brutal 7-day shooting schedule) and give Schwartz and Fedak a chance to clear up some of the mysteries and mistakes. Besides, who wouldn’t want to have Sarah talk about the ballerina scene, have Chuck explain some more about Prague, etc.

      A clip show in S4 could really be a scheduling win, a budget win, a don’t-grind-your-stars-down win and a mythology win.

      • sd says:

        AngelTwo…you should post that on the NBC boards…twitter Fedak..great idea! We know it is a show fond of its callbacks– which fans also appreciate.

        Perhaps doing a show like that will finally fill the holes I keep stepping in and twisting an ankle on–metaphorically speaking 🙂

      • joe says:

        Man, the fans would love to see that, A2. And it would give new-comers (are there any?) a chance to get caught up.

      • AngelTwo says:

        Hey, Joe, where you going with that clip in your DVR? (Whoops, sorry, Hendrix moment…)

        Seriously, though, maybe we’ve also created a post topic for someone here: Top Ten scenes you want to see explained by Chuck and Sarah during a clip show.

        Glad your shoulder is better!

      • joe says:

        “If I had a nickel for every time” somebody ‘Hendrixed’ me… 😉

        Good suggestion, A2.

  21. lucian says:

    On a totally different topic, I would be interested to see a listing of most of the references that are made to other movies. I “get” the Star Wars ones, but it seems like they are often referencing movies I have never seen. Beckman as Leai was, IMO, one of the high points of the season.

    On another topic, I don’t think the music was used as effectively this season as in season’s past (but that may be a reflection of the fact that I was not a big fan of Sham).

    • joe says:

      Another good suggestion! It would make for a good game, too.

      There was an obvious reference to Pretty in Pink in The Other Guy. Morgan pointed it out. Clearly, S3 started out at the end of The Ring with that wonderful Matrix call-back, and the visual reference to Titanic in Crown Vic.

      Young Chuck wore a Superman t-shirt in the flashback in The Ring pt. 2. That counts!

      And in The Ex, when Chuck is in the fun-house hall of mirrors, isn’t that a Hitchcock scene?

      I bet as a group, we could find at least one movie reference per episode.

    • herder says:

      Depends if you want the movie references for a single episode or the whole series. For the series as a whole, some of the movies that they refer to alot are: Star Wars (Beckman as Leia), Godfather ( Big Mike a Micheal Corleone), Princess Bride (The Colonel), Spies Like Us (Emmitt Milbarge), Dune (Chuck is losely Paul Atreides) of course Tron. Others off the top of my head: Goodfellas (Chuck in Fake Name), Fight Club (Awesome Operation), Mad Max Thunder Dome ( Anna Wu vs Micheal Strahan) and the Thin Man (Harry Lime in Broken Heart).

      I’m sure that there are many others that I have forgotten or just missed the reference, but this is a start.

      • JC says:

        Final Exam- Eastern Promises, Casino Royale, Le Femme Nikita and Mission Impossible

        Other Guy- Die Hard

        First Class- Casey’s “Bored Now” line is from Buffy.

      • lucian says:

        Isn’t Charles Charles in Honeymooners a Thin Man reference (I haven’t seen Thin Man).

      • joe says:

        I love the Thin Man series! If there’s an intentional reference, it’s the “Mr. & Mrs. Charles” part (not Charles Charles). They need a little terrier (Asta) to make it a great reference, though.

      • atcdave says:

        Harry Lime is “The Third Man”, not “The Thin Man.”

        And yeah it was Nick and Norah Charles; maybe Morgan is Asta.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Here’s an idea.. How about we post our top 3 questions that we would like anwered. Thing we would asked TPTB if they were right in front of us. Maybe we can even tweet JS himself to take a peek and see if he would bite. His tweeter has been really slow lately so the odds of him reading it is very likely

  23. andyt says:


    The fantastic ending to the season finale raises many questions. One that I has been building for me is about Mama B. and the family. Many discussed earlier that they did not want to see Chuck lie to Ellie about his continued spy work as a free lance spy-hero. However, what if he tries to open to up to Ellie about looking for Mom and gets shot down. Remember, Ellie was upset that Stephen was missing and could not walk her down the aisle; she did not mention Mary Elizabeth at all. In fact, the few mentions of Mom seem bitter and angry. While Ellie harbored anger at her Father she seemed to forgive him because of his eccentrities, but Mary seems on the “will never forgive” list. This could create a great dynamic if they are able to tell the story of Chuck and Ellie’s reunion with Mom. Also, it might address some people’s concerns about Chuck lying to Ellie.

    • Crumby says:

      The thing is she’s angry because she doesn’t have any good explanation for her mother leaving them. And their dad just offers them a possible explanation.

      I don’t see how she could take what she thought was true in the past as a reason not to look for answers.

      • Crumby says:

        But Chuck may have to convince her that it’s worth looking for, that their is elements that let think her leaving wasn’t what it looked like.

      • andyt says:

        I think Ellie’s anger is more than just that she doesn’t have a good explanation. Remember there version of Mother’s Day is to commemorate that they are own their own and must take care of themselves. Also, she had to take on more responsibilities for looking after Chuck. In many ways Ellie had to become Mom for Chuck. It may be a wound that she does not want re-opened. Also, Dad left them at a point where they could live on their own, Mary E. did not. Also, I think that we have seen that Chuck is more forgiving and more interested in closure. Ellie seems to want to leave painful elements in the past and not revisit them. Which is, of course, understandable. I think much of the “angst” for next year will come from this.

      • Crumby says:

        She definitely is very angry at her mom. It’s gonna hard to swallow that’s for sure.
        But to me the reason of her anger is precisely that the left them on their own. And the reason may not be what happened, that may not have been MEB choice to leave them. So I think it changes everything.
        If she didn’t left them voluntarily then the reason of Ellie’s anger doesn’t exist anymore.

        But it is true that she may not even want to hear Chuck out on this, like “Chuck everything doesn’t have a spy explanation. Her mother left us, that’s the way it is.”

    • joe says:

      “Mary seems on the “will never forgive” list.”

      She does! Almost nothing has been said in 3 seasons, which leaves plenty of room for our interpretation. That’s just the way TPTB seem to like it. Pretty much, what we know comes down to two bracelets, one of which is now Sarah’s.

      The success of S4 pretty much rides on how well they handle this theme, doesn’t it?

      If all they have is 13 episodes, it could work out well, story-wise. I’m not sure it’s enough for 22 episodes, though. Sarah’s mother, anyone?

      • atcdave says:

        I hope they go there Joe (with Sarah’s mom); and I bet you’re exactly right, if they get any kind of back order they will address that. I’m thinking its bound to come up as Chuck searches for his own mom, and then get some resolution later.

      • joe says:

        That would be cool! I could see Chuck getting carried away again going after MEB, like the way he single mindedly went after Orion in Predator and his father in Dream Job (before he knew they were the same person). This time, though, Sarah would have every right to feel neglected.

        Of course, I know how I’d like the story to proceed from there… 😉

  24. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Subway (3.18) | Chuck This

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