Chuck vs. The Other Woman

A Guest Post by SD

I can’t believe we’ve gone this long virtually ignoring a major character in the Chuck saga. It’s a major oversight. SD goes a long way to rectify that situation, and I am forever grateful.

– joe

The “other woman” to whom I am referring isn’t another dreaded potential love interest– she is rather the longest female relationship in Chuck’s life– Eleanor Fay Bartowski.

Over the last three seasons, we have seen Chuck’s sister gently prod, push and praise Chuck. She has always had his best interests at heart and has lamented at times over the last three years that Chuck has been distancing himself from her.

She has—gladly– thought it was his “relationship” with Sarah and then later his goal to climb the Buy More ladder that have kept Chuck from coming to her with his problems. Her engagement and marriage to Awesome have likely provided distractions in her concern over Chuck’s emotional distance. But as we saw in the season finale, she now knows the real reason—and she is having none of it.

There is a moment in Chuck vs. The Ring Pt. 2 that I think could prove pivotal in their future relationship and what it may mean to Ellie’s—up until now—positive feelings toward Sarah.

“I made a promise to protect you and I can’t do it—not from this.”

When the gang meets up after rescuing Team Bartowski, they start to game-plan next steps. Going off grid is a plan everyone but Ellie thinks will work. Ellie chews out Awesome and runs to the car and it’s Chuck—not Awesome—in pursuit. Sarah, concerned about both of them, follows. It’s clear at this point; Ellie doesn’t look at Sarah as a friend or potential future sister in law. She certainly doesn’t ask her to jump in and help come up with an acceptable solution….something, it seemed, Sarah wanted to do. Ellie, in my opinion, coldly asks Sarah if her husband is “safe” with her. When Sarah, confused, says “yeah, why?” she speeds off with Chuck to talk things over.

“Okay, I’ll get Shaw and I quit. I promise.”

A promise made. But will it be one that potentially drives a wedge between Chuck and Sarah, Chuck and Ellie and/or Ellie and Sarah? Remember, the show runners said Season Four is all about family but that doesn’t mean the family dynamic will necessarily be played without angst.


It was underscored during the Season Three finale what we knew all along: For Chuck, Ellie has been his big sister-mother figure for most of his formative years.

Chuck, the emotionally sensitive soul he his, knows their mother leaving and then their father meant she had to grow up and deal with adult issues. You get the feeling she did the heavy lifting and Chuck was a passive but grateful observer who benefited from her love and guidance.

We witnessed as early as Chuck vs. The Truth the horror Chuck felt when his burgeoning spy life and home life collided—and that Ellie was in the cross hairs. We felt his pain when in the hospital room he told an unconscious Ellie the secret he would have to keep another two years.

This is a guy who we are led to believe has never kept a secret from his sister. During the most embarrassing period of his life—getting kicked out of Stanford—he didn’t withhold it from his sister. We get the feeling that as painful as it was, he needed to confide in her as soon as it happened.

Ellie has always been his emotional anchor and I, think, he feels he owes her an enormous debt that he doesn’t think he will ever be able to repay. It is the debt of a nurturing childhood given to him by a sister—a child herself– who was forced to grow up fast. It is also the accumulated guilt of three years of forced deception with the person he never thought he would deceive.

In that car, remembering his sister’s sacrifices and burdened by guilt, Chuck decided to put her desires above his own and above the woman he loves.

But as the last minute “reveal” in the season finale shows us, the promise he made Ellie is one he can’t possibly keep.

Chuck is at an emotional crossroads. Depending on whether the writers choose to have the characters walk this path, the decisions Chuck makes—or doesn’t make…the way he involves—or doesn’t—his sister and Sarah in those decisions, potentially threatens his relationship with the two “loves of his life”.


From what we are led to believe, Sarah’s interactions with Ellie have been mostly peripheral. She has been part of family dinners and organized events. With the exception of this season’s “you still have feelings for my brother” dialog in Chuck vs. The Angel De La Muerte, Sarah’s hilarious “Chuck is like a duck” conversation with Ellie has been the only other time the two have had any kind of meaningful one-on-one interaction.

Her fairly limited interaction with Ellie doesn’t mean she hasn’t taken in all the nuances between Chuck and Ellie and Ellie and Awesome. Again, in “Truth”, Sarah seemed so interested in the way Ellie and Awesome acted as a couple in love…you could almost see Sarah filing that bit of “normal” away for future use.

Early in Season One, watch Sarah actively listen to Chuck explain “Mother’s Day.” By this point, it can’t be lost on Sarah that she and Chuck have not grown up “normal”—so why is Chuck so “normal”?

Sure, there are some significant differences in Chuck and Sarah’s maturation. Sarah’s dad was a crook who used his daughter in his cons. They seemed more partners in crime than parent-child—a modern day “Paper Moon”. At this point, it’s unclear whether she even knew her mother. But from a young age, Chuck also didn’t have a mom and he had an absent dad who eventually disappeared. The one constant–the one person who likely helped Chuck turn into a caring, giving, good guy is his sister, Ellie. For that alone, I think Sarah has enormous respect for Ellie.

“Can you love a normal guy?”

Despite the respect Sarah has for Ellie, it clearly must have hurt when Chuck blurted out in Castle that he promised he would quit the spy life for Ellie without consulting his partner and now live-in girlfriend. Chuck had to know when he made that promise to Ellie that he would impact Sarah but he made it anyway. In The Ring Part 2, Sarah understands…she is standing by him. She knows how important Ellie is to Chuck. But when does this start to impact a relationship? Chuck tells Sarah “I meant it. I can’t lie to her.” Ouch. Chuck has already broken a significant promise to Sarah about 2.0 mental problems– to spare her worry–but he has also broken a promise to not lie to her.

It can’t be lost on Sarah the sea change the revelation of Chuck’s “other life” and her involvement in that will have in Ellie’s friendship with her. Again, it may have been the stunning revelation of her father’s murder, and her brother’s secret life…but before she drove away with Chuck to discuss “next steps” Ellie seemed to look at Sarah as part of the problem—not the solution.

If, indeed, Ellie’s perception of Sarah has changed or if Sarah feels as if Chuck keeps ignoring her in deference to Ellie’s demands– this could drive a wedge in the family.

It also raises another question. How does Chuck handle these potential problems? If he tries to lie his way around the uncomfortable truth, he may lose both Sarah and Ellie.


“I have seen the way that girl looks at you and she is into you.”

It was clear from the get-go: Ellie thought Sarah was the best thing that ever happened to her brother. And she knew before Chuck that Sarah had fallen for him…”that girl is into you” line from Chuck vs. The Tango was prescient especially with what we know now about Sarah’s “falling for him” before he defused his first bomb.

She saw Chuck grow as a person and as a man and attributed it to Sarah—not knowing his secret life full of danger and deception was also making him grow up pretty fast.

She was so enamoured with the Chuck-Sarah coupling and seemingly so happy with Sarah as a friend she even made her a bridesmaid. As a woman, who has more than her fair share of taffeta bridesmaids dresses hanging in the closet, you don’t ask your brother’s girlfriend as a bridesmaid unless you think– or hope –she will soon be a sister-in-law.

Through three years of “relationship” ups and downs she counselled Chuck to hang in there—with the exception of her conversation with Chuck in Chuck vs. The Suburbs. But in the end, she told him what he needed to hear. She told him to fight for her because he was, after all, a Bartowski.

But she wanted Chuck to fight for a woman who she now knows she never fully knew. She didn’t know this is a woman who was initially dispatched to capture—and given orders to kill—her brother if he ran. This is a woman who put her brother in harms way, who has led him by the hand down a road that involves deception and death. This was not the brother she raised. Perhaps he wasn’t a go-getter before Sarah but he wasn’t this guy who has led a double life for three years.

She also knows Chuck has a lot of their dad in him. She now knows, by Chuck’s admission, that their father was a great man. But he was a great man at the expense of a “normal life” with “normal” friends and family…. their family.

“Protect Chuck. Be there for him no matter what.”

So what does Ellie do? For three years, she has wished that Sarah and Chuck get together Does Ellie now think Sarah is part of the problem? Perhaps.

“There is nothing broken in this whole world that the two of you can’t fix if you work together”

Family will be central to Chuck this upcoming season. But will the family fragment over lies or the truth?

At the end of Chuck vs. The Ring Part 2, everyone was together. It seemed that all was right…promises made, allowed and meant to be kept. But we know everything will change. And as such will the way the characters treat each other change as a result?

Does the truth of Sarah’s early involvement with Chuck create a chasm in Ellie and Sarah’s friendship, which forces Chuck to choose?

What if Chuck continues to acknowledge Ellie’s feelings and demands over Sarah’s?

Or, will Chuck come clean and tell his sister he can’t leave the spy world. Will that truth telling drive Ellie away?

Does Chuck lie to his sister to protect her feelings…something that forces Sarah to question whether Chuck—the guy who was never comfortable lying—has been changed by the spy world.

As a viewer, I find these questions all valid and all valid exploring. My hope is they are handled honestly. I, for one, would like to hear meaningful dialog between our leads as they move through the transformative moment in the Ring Part 2—the moment before Chuck gets a message from his dad– when everything was on the table…when there were no lies…just the truth.

– SD


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.
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90 Responses to Chuck vs. The Other Woman

  1. jason says:

    I see many of the same things. One reason I have posted so much about hoping sarah and ellie become friends, maybe even to the extent that chuck feels left out, because I see positioning for what you wrote, yep. Unfortunately, the title of your article could be, how to get your show canceled thru the use of angst, part 2 – if sarah is left on the out for ellie, this show will not survive?

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    Great post SD. You have nailed the scene where I too saw this dynamic change and done a fantastic job of laying it out for us. I think they really need to address this head on next season.

  3. chuckfan says:

    First of all thanks for an absolutely great post that looked deeply on one of the main issues that is bound to come up in Season 4.

    Promises have been made and intentions have been set upon the table only to be put in question by the looming responsibility that Orion hands over to his son (so to speak) at the very end of Season 3.

    I hope the writers provide some stability to the characters when it comes to their decision making. We cant have one episode where promises to loved ones are being made only to be shattered with no regard in the next episode.If Chuck continues to lie to Sarah, he risks alienating her slowly. She may get disenchanted with his behavior and that could spell trouble for their relationship. If he lies to Ellie and she finds out later – then that could very well drive a wedge between them too.

    You also touched on the Sarah/Ellie dynamic now that everything is out in the open. I am a big fan of any Ellie/Sarah interaction and it would be interesting to see how the writers handle their relationship in Season 4. In the Ring Part 2, Ellie practically brushed off Sarah. That was a short but powerful scene. It really showed that the lady Bartowskis are also very strong and determined and not to be messed around with. Now that everything’s changed will Ellie still credit Sarah for the development of Chuck? Or will she see her as someone who upended Chuck’s life?

    Another important point you touched was Chuck being at a crossroads with respect to his relationship with Ellie and Sarah. IMO, balancing your responsibilities towards your family and your beloved is no easy task. If you are seen as favoring one party more than the other then you are bound to leave the other hurt and aggrieved.
    In agreeing to his sister’s wishes, Chuck must ensure that he does not ignore and in the process hurt Sarah’s feelings and wishes and vice versa. It’s a delicate balancing game – one that must not be played with the help of lies and deceit.

    In short, Chuck may be on the path to become the new Orion but he must not commit the same mistakes his father made(for whatever noble reason) because his father’s decisions tore apart the family and maybe destroyed the relationship Papa B had with Mama B (I am just guessing this point).

    Balance must be found in Season 4 and balance is of the utmost importance to maintain the relationship dynamic that Chuck has with Sarah and Ellie. He cannot afford to hurt either of them through deceit and lies.

    Decisions. Decisions. Poor Chuck. He has to carry his father’s legacy while at the same time fight to maintain the very relationships his father couldn’t handle as Orion. I pity him. He is in a difficult spot. Hope he comes through with flying colors in Season 4.

    • jason says:

      funny, you guys both thought the ‘is my husband safe with you’ as a negative, I thought it a positive, that with all the stress (potential death) going on, ellie was leaving devon with sarah, think of your own spouse in a life and death situation, would you not have that conversation – i.e. take care of her or him – only with the one in the room you trusted – time will tell of course – sd – this was a great topic, very important, and very much on the table for season 4 – might make or break the season – I wish I had more trust in the show runners to get it right

      • sd says:

        Thanks, Jason. My take on that interaction was that Ellie was treating Sarah as the only person she now knows her to be–which is a CIA agent—not as the person she knew just a few hours before–a friend and girlfriend to her brother.

        Maybe my glass was half full watching it…

      • jason says:

        by the way, if you want to see sarah lancaster in another role, check out everwood season 2 episode 4, I have the link to a site with it if you are interested, although she is a 20yr old blond babysitter (and she looks very young), she absolutely bursts on to the scene and kicks a$$ with the chuck like 16 year old son and the 40 year old papa B like super doctor father named andy brown, almost brings them both to tears, she becomes a hated LI in the show and much like shaw, may have ultimately shaped the plot such that it did not recover b4 cancellation, but I thought she was great.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I thought it more that Ellie wanted to get Chuck away from Sarah and everyone else. This was really the first time she had the time to get the story from Chuck after hearing it from Awesome and Morgan and seeing it cause her father’s death and her brother’s near execution. I thought it very clear that she saw Sarah’s presence as a possible danger threat to her family. I also thought it clear Sarah was pretty worried about leaving Chuck alone with Ellie.

      Of course I may need to re-watch it. Again. 😉

      • jason says:

        i have not watched the episode twice either, but from what I recall, another hint of ellie’s acceptance of sarah’s competence as a protector and overall acceptance of stuff, was when chuck whisked ellie out of town, he said sarah checked the car for bugs (again the implied – we trust her) and ellie’s reply – should we take morgan along – no digs at sarah or concerns for chuck, just for morgan

        I sure get the potential angsty-ness, I guess I am hoping things go differently, then again, I would have voted for an elobarate con plot written by ali adler in 3.8 to explain away 3.7, so what do I know.

      • BDaddyDL says:

        One of the constants in the show is that Ellie know Sarah loves Chuck. While the truth rattled her. If Ellie had a change of heart about Sarah she would have told him to quit spying and Sarah. Also, at the party she was not cold toward Sarah, so for right now I don’t think its an issue.

  4. Sole says:

    Great post!!! I hope they address that in season 4! One of my favorites things of the finale was that there was a lot of Ellie, I’d miss that! But i don’t think is going to take more than an ep or two to resolve any issue between Sarah And Ellie, they’re both mature, intelligent woman who really love Chuck. Ellie will see that in Sarah.

  5. Chuckaddict says:

    IMO there were three key pieces of information presented in Ring Part 2. Orion telling Chuck his legacy but wanting him to keep it secret, the introduction of Mama B. into the plot, and Chuck telling Ellie he would quit.

    I don’t think Chuck will keep the Orion cave from Sarah. He needs her help “to do things governments won’t”. Someone in a previous thread suggested Chuck tells Sarah right away, but they keep it secret until they can get a better scope of what all the intel means. I like this idea, hopefully TPTB do also.

    Chuck’s already made good on his promise to Ellie; Beckman accepted his resignation. I think Chuck will follow in Orion’s footsteps, working for himself with Sarah as his partner. Batman if you will. Casey and Morgan can be his liason with the government. He wouldn’t be lying to Ellie about being a spy, technically.

    TPTB have gone out of their way to establish Chuck & Sarah are together. I’m going to take them at their word, at least until teasers get leaked later this summer. This keeps me sane for the time being.

    I think the new CRM will be between Chuck/Sarah and Ellie. This will become the angst of S4. I think it gets resolved when they find Mama B. How it gets resolved will be interesting. Whose side is Mama B on? There have been references tying her to Roark. If Mama B’s not on Chuck’s side, whose side will Ellie choose?

  6. Dave2 says:

    I can see the story arc running something like this: Chuck continues his Dad’s work, but, seeking to protect those he loves he also works very hard at keeping Sarah, Ellie, and others in the dark about his activities as a private spy. The angst in season 4 will be the layers and layers of misunderstanding and lack of communication, ultimately resulting in the Team Bartowski we more or less expect from the beginning, but only after a season of frustration and shattered expectations.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Dave! Nice to meet you. Can’t have enough Daves around here. 😉

      I can see how this might be an inviting idea, but I really don’t think S4 is going to go that way – for two reasons.

      First of all, I think (and really, really hope) that TPTB have learned their lessons about the fan’s reactions to Chuck & Sarah not being on screen together. If Chuck is alone in his Orion-cave, it amounts to the same thing – worse, if he’s completely separated from the rest of Team B, off on his own missions somewhere while they are doing theirs for the CIA.

      Second, I don’t think Chuck is going to be keeping many secrets from either Sarah or Ellie. That’s just not his character. In fact, the aberration was used as a device to power the last 6 episodes of S3, and I expect he’ll revert to form. By telling Sarah up front that he’s resigning from the CIA, he already has.

      Lucky for us, it’s a testable hypothesis! We’ll know after the first episode of S4 if he intends to keep his new “mission” a secret from them. Right? Standard 1000 Costa Gravan Pesos bet? 😉

    • atcdave says:

      Hey Dave, welcome to our site! Just so you know, we always value a variety of thoughts and opinions here; but I’ve got to say I hope you’re totally wrong! I’m sure we’ll see a double life playing out in some way, but keeping things from Sarah would be a disaster for the show. The only way I see S4 working is if Chuck and Sarah are a dynamic duo of sorts. Another season of “frustration and shattered expectations” will do the show in. They know that isn’t what most of us want to see, and disappointing an audience that shrank 50% from the premier to the finale in S3 would be a very bad move. And I think Fedak has acknowledged that in some comments about keeping the leads on screen together. I could see Sarah as Chuck government contact; or even better, she quits and works with Chuck full time while Casey is the government guy. Shoot, maybe Casey quits too and no one stands between TeamB and General Beckman. Or the relationships may continue to evolve over the course of the season. I suppose that last sentence is the closest to a sure thing.

      • Dave2 says:

        Your idea about Beckman has an interesting hook to it: She was pretty much isolated in Ring 2, and having Chuck in her back pocket as in independent contractor would be interesting. Kind of a you-scratch-my-back kind of deal.

        The question will be, how soon does Chuck reveal his new secret identity, or does he even accept it himself? I can see Ellie even pushing him into it because it would help them find Mrs. B. The timing will be the issue, and whether TPTB can keep their mitts off the angst button.

      • Hope says:

        I think what we saw in the finale with the team working on their own was a set up for season 4. Chuck won’t keep the secret from his friends, Given how his friendships with Casey and Morgan have grown the three men are pretty much like brothers now, and he definitly won’t keep it from Sarah there’s been a enough grief about that. The whole team is basicly an inseperable family now. Devon may not know till mid season maybe and Ellie won’t find out till the exact moment when the secret can’t be a secret no longer and not before.

      • atcdave says:

        I like that thought Hope, I’d love to see the whole team as more of an extended family. The friendship and family relationships in the show have usually been one of its greatest strengths (except for a certain Ellie in charge moment we’ve been discussing!)

  7. chuckfan says:

    Personally speaking, I can handle the angst that may rise between Chuck and Ellie due to his keeping secrets from her mainly because it will involve the search for Mama B. But if TPTB again take the route of creating angst between Chuck and Sarah using secrets and lies – that would severely test my patience. Reason – Season 3 has been touted as a development story for the main characters. So when the finale ended, we are at a spot where we can now look on Chuck and Sarah as having grown into two mature individuals in a committed relationship. And couples in a committed relationship do not keep such secrets between them.

    I like ChuckAddict’s idea that Chuck will not keep Orion’s cave a secret from Sarah. IMO this needs to happen at least by the ending of 4.01 or at the latest in 4.02. Any further dragging out of this issue will turn out to be a major poisonous thorn during the Season 4 episodes.

    @jason- Thank you for your perspective on the Ellie/Sarah interaction in Ring Part 2. I saw it again and I have changed my opinion.Ellie was trusting her husband’s safety to Sarah.

    • joe says:

      I should put this in response to your comment above, CF, but already it’s getting lengthy.

      One thing stands out in S3 about Ellie – she’s been stepping aside all season for Chuck. Like a good mother, she knows that sooner, rather than later, she has to let go. That’s what the scene near the end of Honeymooners was about – Ellie heading off to Africa, but crying-drunk over the pending separation from Chuck (and his apparent indifference to that).

      Like Jason, I don’t think that Ellie has changed her mind about Sarah. What she said in Angel still goes, even if she knows now that there’s more to Sarah than she was told.

      In some way, she always knew that there was more to Sarah than she had been told.

      • herder says:

        Besides which Awesome is in Sarah’s corner, remember the dialogue from Angel del Muerte:

        -Who is going to take care of the guards?


        -Her and what army?

        -Sarah and her two fists

        (pause for action)

        -that is one amazing woman dude

        -you have no idea.

  8. lucian says:

    Really great synopsis. I am hoping that Chuck has figured out that lies and deception are not the answer. He needs to trust his team and his family. They have earned that. Ellie was in significant danger precisely because she didn’t know what was going on. I hope we don’t get significant Sibling Relationship Deception (SRD); and he really needs to come clean with Sarah on his bat cave and mission.

  9. JC says:

    Awesome Post

    I’ve always thought that Chuck and Ellie deep down really only trust each other. They both have trust and abandonment issues that they overcompensate with being too trusting. When Chuck asked Sarah at the end, if she could love a normal guy it was like he was expecting her to leave.

    Also I can see Ellie having some real problems with Sarah especially if she found out why Shaw was after her family.

    • sd says:

      Thanks, JC! I think your comments are very interesting…if there isn’t SRD as Lucian mentioned in an earlier post and Ellie is “in” on his secrets…it would be interesting to explore the “trust each other before all others” scenario may play out.

      • JC says:

        Yeah I’ve always had gotten this vibe that it’s Chuck & Ellie and then everyone else. But this season solidified that in my mind.

        During the finale you get Casey’s remark about two Bartowskis and then their dad talking about the two of them being able to do anything.

        And another thing I could see causing problems. If and when Ellie finds out about her parents and how being spies ruined her and Chuck’s life. I could see her having some real issues with Chuck being in a relationship with Sarah.

  10. Jan says:

    Great post…and insightful comments.

    I have thought that the relationship between Sarah and Ellie…such as it is…would be challenged with all that happened in the Ring 2. Discovering that Chuck, Sarah and Casey are spys, in addition to watching her father shot& killed, would be alot for anyone to process; it’s understandable that Ellie would want to re-establish some control over her life. Forcing Chuck to give up the spy life may be difficult to maintain…but it makes sense for her to want to keep him safe.

    It will be interesting to see how the writers/runners handle Sarah’s reaction to this. While she seemed to accept it in Ring 2, I still remember her comment to Chuck in vs Honeymooners: “I don’t want you to choose me over something you want for yourself,” i.e., being a spy. It’s ultimately Chuck’s decision. But Sarah has worked hard to help him realize his goals…and now that they are a couple, I’m sure this will be an even greater part of their relationship.

    • jason says:

      I really am hoping that sarah and ellie become friends, and the angst comes from elsewhere, or stuff between them is eposodic in terms of – starting and ending rather than serialized – I hope on a serialized basis they grow as friends, sarah is so in need of a lady to talk to – casey is in touch with his lady feelings more that is true, but still

  11. herder says:

    Wonderful article SD, I was thinking about the quote of Ellie’s “I made a promise to protect you and I can’t do it – not from this”. This may prove more important than I thought at first.

    True, Ellie can’t protect him from this, but maybe Sarah can, at the very least she can do a better job than Ellie. Can Ellie be big enough to realize this? Secondly, I think we are going to find out that Chuck needs protecting not because he is a spy for the CIA but rather because he is Orion’s son (and perhaps Ellie needs protecting because she is Orion’s daughter) and there is no more Orion to do the protecting.

    So the task falls to Chuck, he protects Ellie and Sarah protects him. At the end of Honeymooners the theme is that Chuck and Ellie are growing up and their lives are taking them to new places, Ellie is going to Africa because Devon (the best decision I ever made) wants to. She is leaving Chuck behind, but not alone, he is together with Sarah and they have made their own sort of vows. Ellie is strong, Ellie is a Bartowski, but in the Ring Part 2 Ellie is also wrong in her ultimatum for Chuck, I hope that she realizes it soon.

  12. atcdave says:

    Great analysis of a complicated situation SD. I really struggle with how Ellie was handled in Ring 2. I wanted to yell at the screen “its not your job to protect him!” Seriously, he’s an adult man, to the extent protecting needs to be done that’s a matter for his partner and significant other; not a sibling (or parent). I think I had a “does not compute” sort of moment with that. Still do in way, almost like Sarah’s “gee, I’ll turn to the guy Chuck’s turning into” reaction.

    I know that somehow Chuck needs to honor both important ladies in his life; but Chuck and Ellie both need to figure out Sarah is the priority now.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Wow, Dave. That’s *exactly* how I feel too.

      Chuck should have told Ellie that she can’t protect him from his own life decisions – that that time is past.

      And with Sarah basically being passive with regards to Ellie, Chuck needs to make it unmistakably clear to his sister that he’s standing by Sarah’s side and if forced to make a choice it might not be the one Ellie expects.

      I *like* Ellie, but as written she’s way off base here. I’m willing to ascribe this blind, willful behavior to Post Revelation Stress Disorder, but when she calms down she needs to start realizing the world does not revolve around *her* needs.

      • jason says:

        the other thing, some line she used like ‘we are all we hav’e, I would have loved for chuck’s reply to be no big sis, you (AND I) have devon, morgan, and SARAH – and I know we can count on them every bit as much as we can on each other

      • weaselone says:

        I’m pretty certain that Chuck realizes that. It’s just at the moment he was still shell shocked. Pulling that sort of line wouldn’t have fit with his state of mind at the time. They couldn’t have him say something like that but still agree to quit the spy world without consulting Sarah.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Aardvark, Ellie is generally a well written, likeable and strong character; I just didn’t care for her over-reaction in this case.

        And Jason, that’s an excellent reply. It would have been the more rational approach.

        For the record, I do understand this was a momentous, life-shaking sort of moment. I just wish Chuck had responded in a more adult way and not responded in child mode.

    • Merve says:

      I think that we have to step into Ellie’s shoes for a little bit. It’s true that she knows all the facts now, but we have to put that in context. She received the facts all at once, right after seeing her father murdered. Her only firsthand experiences with the spy world are negative: a poisoning that almost killed her, a series of lies that caused marital troubles, being manipulated by a rogue CIA agent, and watching in horror as her father was killed before her eyes. (Okay, there was one positive – Devon’s “date” at the end of “Seduction,” but that’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.) She hasn’t seen Chuck catching weapons smugglers (“Tango”), preventing world war 3 (“Tom Sawyer”), or saving the life of a rockstar (“Third Dimension”). In her mind, the spy world doesn’t do much good; all it has done is torn apart her family and almost taken her brother away from her. It makes sense that Ellie would want Chuck out of it, no questions asked.

      That being said, Ellie can’t remain opposed to the spy game forever. I can see that plot thread being milked for a few episodes – if it were to be resolved right at the start of the season, why raise the issue at all? – but I don’t think that it’s sustainable beyond that. I’d like Ellie to see exactly what Chuck can do as a spy and that Chuck has the ability to save a lot of people. Eventually, Ellie will have to see the “good” side of the spy world, and when she does, I expect her opinion about the spy world to change for the better.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Merve, I’d love to see Chuck sell Ellie in the good he (and Sarah) can do/have done.

  13. Faith says:

    Wow great piece! Ellie (hmm, where do they get the extra lli lol) is a very big part of Chuck the person, Chuck the friend and Chuck the spy. In the big picture of it all, Ellie matters.

  14. bundy says:

    In vs the Honeymooners;Sarah said that she cant go back to the way it was before,before Chuck and before there relationship.In the Ring part 2 at the end when Chuck tells her he is leaving the spy life I think that she was leaving it too.She said I fell in love with a normal guy and knowing what she knows,she knows a spy and a civilian have no chance at being together.Even with everything Chuck knows and can do,she will have to go on missions all over the world and leave Chuck behind.I dont see that happening.As far as Ellie is concerned,she has to realize that Chuck is a man and not a little boy who needs protection from his big sister.Chuck has his team to watch his back.I hope in season 4 that Charah can convince her of this.Who knows,maybe Ellie will actually help them find there mother.When they showed Mama B at the end there was a strand of DNA on her computer screen.Who better to help team B with that,than a doctor.Sorry about my writing,I’m a better talker than writer.

    • atcdave says:

      I like your take on it Bundy, I hope that’s exactly what we see.

      And funny I’m just the opposite, I talk like a complete idiot but I write like a….. well never mind.

  15. jason says:

    what I find most interesting is that something very positive, the ellie character and the chuck ellie sarah relationship, is being considered to more than likely be a negative ‘serialized’ plot device – if such a thing is episodic, that would be fine, probably even funny, if it goes for some period of time, going to ruin the show – I don’t have much faith in the creative team, seems like most you guys don’t either, but, how fans react to the first few episodes will determine the back 9 episodes fate – I think TPTB need to come out with the big guns blazing, that means cs in a honest 2 way relationship, lots of air time together, lots of fun spy missions, I am pretty sure from the fedak interview he knows that

    • atcdave says:

      Jason, I do have more confidence in the creative team than I did back in March. But I do wonder sometimes about if they understand adult relationships. The last seven episodes this season were a lot of fun; except that Chuck isn’t quite including Sarah in all the ways he needs to. I wonder if the writers see this; or if these attitudes have something to do with a 55% divorce rate in this country. I don’t mean to be arrogant about it, but I do wonder if most of us here have better experiences with making a long-term relationship work than do members of the Hollywood creative community.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        I’ve wondered exactly the same thing.

        Are the teen angst, inexplicable lack of consideration and persistent deceit a calculated choice? Or just the ritual espousal of various writers’ relationship strategies? 😉

        I wore out my eyebrow muscles reacting to descriptions of left coast “self-actualization” philosophies, so it’s not a hard sell for me to believe that some people’s idea of core relationship values is “fit bodies and strong self-focus”.

        Um, no offense, for anyone who does actually believe that. 😉

      • joe says:

        Aardvark, you’re reading my mind a bit.

        I’ve been pondering that the characters have indeed been maturing, and the time frame isn’t really all that slow, given the realities of network programming and schedules.

        Think of it. C&S *were* emotional teens at the beginning, and there was a lot of things to be done mechanically to build the story and the characters in S1. By S2 they came to life and built a mythology – a history. In just 13 episodes of S3 they actually became much more adult in their relationship, I think, despite the time spent on Shaw. If there was any one thing that I’d want to preserve out of those first 13, it would be that maturation.

        So C&S mirrored my emotional growth in my teens and 20s (well, close enough, anyway). Can they continue to do so through adulthood? That’s a challenge for the writing talent.

        The last seven give me hope they’re up to it.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Joe, I got my license to read your mind at the DMV (Department of Mind Viewing) last week. I’d love to tell you it was worth the $19.95, but so far… 😉

        As I just posted, I’m really torn in my assessment of the writers’ intent missing the mark versus them simply believing in different values. On the one hand, I can see them having the characters NOT do the obvious thing because it would deflate the very drama they’re trying to create. Yet I can’t escape the sense that many of these situations reek of contrivance – they simply lack adequate craft or polish. They fail the sniff test, which is why we debate them to death on this blog and elsewhere.

        I would love to believe that the structure you described, where the characters had their “meet cute” in S1, fought through their teen romance in S2, and grew to adulthood in S3 was the plan, but TPTB’s reckless canon management and failed character nurturing makes that difficult for me to swallow. If anything, I believe character and thematic consistency was trodden over by the desire to cram flash and gimmicks (shallow crowd pleasers) into each episode.

        What gives me the most confidence about S4, paradoxically, is that recent interviews have given the impression that TPTB want to focus *elsewhere* next season. That means that, just as Devon and Ellie’s stories in S1 and S2 never really changed the course they seemed destined to follow, neither should Chuck and Sarah’s stories in S4.

        It also means that Chris Fedak gets to turn his focus to the mythology and action stories he’s demonstrated clear aptitude for. And since in the post “brain drain” writers room he will be the undisputed architect and oracle of S4, I can only believe this is a good thing.

      • joe says:

        Oooff! You’re a hard man to please, aardvark! 😉

        My notion is that the creative talent has to walk a tightrope. I really want to see a more emotionally mature C&S (the people we start to see in the back-6), but I don’t want to lose that fun we’ve had, even despite the loss of the Buy More.

        I’m encouraged at Judkins and LeFranc seem to respect the show we’ve had up to this point, and that Fedak seems to be un-afraid to take the characters where they have to go.

        There’s writing talent out there. I’m hoping they have it or can find it!

  16. weaselone says:

    I’m hoping that the writers and producers don’t milk the Ellie, Sarah and Chuck dynamic in the manner many seem to be describing. Personally, I think a lot of this is taking a single point and plotting a line in through it. Ellie had Chuck isolated and alone at a time when Chuck was still processing the death of his father and essentially utilized that death to bludgeon Chuck into making a decision on the spot contrary to Chuck’s own desires. Extrapolating that decision which Chuck made under duress into him not considering Sarah’s feelings or placing Ellie above Sarah in level of importance just doesn’t hold any water for me.

    I think we can be fairly certain that had Chuck been presented with this ultimatum at a different point and allowed time to make it that he would have consulted Sarah. Chuck knows making that decision without Sarah was wrong and inconsiderate, which is why he tells her about it quickly, apologizes and gives her the opening to leave.

    The strain should honestly come between Chuck and Ellie. Ellie deliberately isolated Chuck from his other sources of support (Sarah, Casey, Morgan, Devon) during a vulnerable time in order to force a decision on him. That’s the sort of thing that poisons relationships. Chuck wants to be a spy out of his own sense of duty and also because it’s something that he can share with his wife and a pair of his closest friends. The promise Ellie forced Chuck to make keeps him from his calling, his wife and from Morgan and Casey. He might hold to it, but he won’t be happy. This particularly true now that Orion’s revelations leave Chuck with little choice but to become a freelance spy.

    • jason says:

      weasel – holy cow – his wife – I love that – I didn’t miss something in 3.19? – wow – did i mention I love that thought? His wife – you wrote that twice – great stuff

      • Merve says:

        Chuck and Sarah are married in all but name now. They might as well be married.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        True, but they’ll want to milk the relationship a bit and make both the engagement and wedding a big deal, with some angst I’m sure.

      • Merve says:

        Agreed. If you don’t promote a wedding between your two leads, you’re just doing bad business.

      • atcdave says:

        I seriously think that would boost ratings, an engagement early, then build up to the wedding all season. Its a fairly conventional model, but that’s because it works.

      • weaselone says:

        Ummm… Oops?

    • joe says:

      You make a good point, weaselone. But I have a growing feeling that we’re making a bit too much of this.

      Sarah didn’t seem particularly pained by Chuck’s leaving the CIA. Chuck didn’t seem to have too much difficulty telling Sarah about his promise to Ellie (some, but not too much). Ellie didn’t really seem to be considering herself in a struggle with Sarah over Chuck’s soul.

      Okay, nobody put it that starkly. But you know what I mean. I understand the concern, but I don’t think we saw anything on the screen that said “ultimatum” or “thing that poisons relationships”. At least, not yet.

      Isn’t it quite possible that Chuck is going to be a freelance spy and that both Ellie and Sarah are going to know and be happy about that? To me that seem most likely.

      I’m glad that Jason pointed it out – you slipped that “wife” word by me twice! It’s still a nice thought, which tells you where the ‘shippers are headed… 😉

      • sd says:

        Perhaps some of the concerns I wrote about the potential Chuck-Ellie-Sarah dynamic in S4 had to do with the history we have all shared when it comes to Chuck+TPTB=Angst.

        You can certainly flip it this way: Chuck finds out his new calling. He quickly informs Team Bartowski. Sarah says he must talk it over with Ellie. He meets with Ellie…tells her the “save the world” story. She worries but understands there is a higher purpose involved—she either agrees to help or says she understands his mission in life but will have none of it…setting up potential family danger story lines.

        At the end of the day, I would not be happy with even a partial S4 story arc that includes deception among the team and the family–which has, in effect, become one.

        I love that very brief moment during the finale when everyone knew where everyone stood.

      • weaselone says:

        My post was supposed to be all sweetness and light about how no angst should come between the three and then evolved to having angst between the three characters. I think you’re right in that we’ve become tainted by our experiences this year. We now expect them to exploit dark, stressful interpersonal issues as opposed to giving us something light and sweet.

      • JC says:

        Most shows do have interpersonal conflict. So going into season 4 they can’t do the Chuck and Sarah angst/star crossed lovers bit anymore.

        That leaves the TPTB with going back to the old Chuck keeping things from Ellie or do they try something new, like conflict between the two ladies in Chuck’s life.

        It wouldn’t bother me depending on how its handled. If they go the Seasons 1&2 route that works but if they try the heavy handed approach of S3 that could be a problem.

    • atcdave says:

      That’s a really good way of looking at it weaselone and hope you’re right. Your likely flaming my response to another post elsewhere as I type; so I will say for the record, I discussing my fears above, while your post captures my hopes. A year ago fears wouldn’t have received as much attention, but we saw a worst case scenario for much of S3, so they seem to get more attention now.

      Fedak did talk about the future of Chuck and pretty prominantly mentioned the importance of CS as a team. So some how this will be handled quickly, I’m just hoping it will be handled in an adult sort of way.

  17. Paul says:

    Great post SD! You bring up some very good points! One thing that I want to comment on right away is Ellie’s perception of Chuck. Many of you have spoken out against it. While I find it a bit annoying, it’s annoying to me because it’s REAL. Ellie is for all intents and purposes Chuck’s foster mother. She raised him. And like many mom’s, never really see their adult children as adults. I’m almost 38, an officer in the Army and a combat vet…but my mom still sees me as that 12 year old kid with a skinned knee that needs her to put a band-aid on my boo-boo. So I get where she’s coming from and I get why she demanded what she did. I think the main progression for her character this upcoming season is for her to realize Chuck is all grown up and try to let go.

    As far as the Ellie/Sarah dynamic, I think it will be an interesting one. I think Ellie may be wary, and maybe a bit suspicious, of Sarah at the start of S4. I think she will try to see if C/S are a real couple (like they are now) or if it’s just a cover (like it was for S1&2). But I think once she sees that it IS real and how committed and how much in love Sarah is, she will relax.

    • atcdave says:

      Thanks Paul for a great illustration. I do get Ellie’s “mothering”, I’m really more annoyed with Chuck caving in to it. But it is funny how quickly we can fall into childhood roles when dealing with our parents.

      It might be fun to see Chuck and Sarah have to prove they are for real to Ellie. At this point I don’t think Ellie realizes yet that weren’t for a long time, but that sure could be a fun way they could play with the relationship without actually using angst (how stupid of me, I realized as I typed it, that’s exactly why they’ll never do it that way!)

      • Paul says:

        It would be in a sense like in eps 3.17 when Chuck told his dad he and Sarah were dating. Stephen was incredulous and could only see that Sarah was a spy, not Chuck’s GF.

      • weaselone says:

        There have been several comments about Ellie mothering Chuck which is certainly true given the role she was left with when their parents left. Still, there’s no indication that Chuck didn’t carry some of the weight in the household. He obviously knows how to clean, in fact it’s one method he utilizes to deal with stress. That could suggest that this became one of his responsibilities after his parents left. I would also refer back to season one and “mother’s day”. Ellie didn’t say that it was the day that her mother left and she had to take care of Chuck. She specifically said that they took care of one another, a sentiment that was echoed during her ultimatum to quit the spy world when she indicated they only had each other.

        Personally, I think that Ellie’s forcing Chuck to leave the spy world has less to do wither her mothering than it does with the common genetic code and memories of Chuck’s early years that she shares with Papa Bartowski. When she tells him to quit and indicates here disapproval because of the dangers, she’s echoing her father. Orion finally came to his senses after a lifetime of manipulating his son’s life from afar after seeing him in action, repeatedly. Ellie still thinks of Chuck as the young child that broke her mother’s necklace and who is in need of protection. Chuck with Sarah’s help is probably going to have to do something fairly impressive to change her mind about Chuck.

      • jason says:

        weasel – if saving the entire world from an organization bent on ‘world domination’ with a team of morgan, casey, and sarah isn’t enough to sway ellie, not sure what is going to sway ellie. I think she is just worried about chuck’s safety, be it mother, sister, or a little of both, legitimate concerns, especially when the people who just killed their father are still around. Might be Awesome helps here, his africa idea was essentially to get away, I think he realizes now they are all safest with sarah and casey around.

      • weaselone says:

        In Ellie’s eyes, that’s not what they were doing. They were avenging a fallen father and securing their family from a life lived on the run. Defeating an evil organization dedicated to world domination was merely a happy bonus.

      • Hope says:

        Well actdave can you not expect him not to cave in? After all, Chuck said it with his own lips ” You were the one who raised me.” So he’s looked up to her as both a mom and sister. I think Ellie will be kept in the dark again this next season as least for a while since she has more hatred toward her mom (not that I blame her) but Chuck is way more forgiving then she’s been. Look how long Ellie can hold a grudge even if the person (Casey) had done nothing to her. The girl’s got issues that’s for sure.

      • atcdave says:

        Hope, Chuck is almost 30 years old, I don’t understand letting a parent or sibling make life choices for you at that age. I guess at 30 I’d already been out of my parents house for 13 years and in my profession for 7, so my experiences my not be typical. And I do agree the family you grew up with always needs to be treated with honor and respect; but if I were Chuck the only answer I would have given is “you know I can’t promise that until I’ve talked to Sarah.” The scene we got kind of generates a “syntax error” in my brain, it just makes no sense to me.

      • Hope says:

        Actdave, you have a point but I was leaning more on the issues that Chuck and Ellie have together. I agree wholeheartedly that Chuck is man enough to start make his own decisions, but there might be still a part of him that’s a little reluctant to let go and let him have a life of his own

    • sd says:

      Thanks, Paul! I, too, never felt it off-putting Ellie’s mothering of Chuck. It did seem real to me for the reasons you mentioned. Ellie has always known she is more a mom than a “sis” to Chuck.

      Imo, during various moments in S1 and S2 she tries temper her reaction to what Chuck says or does in an effort to cut the apron strings as it were…but as we all know, a mom will always be a mom.

  18. Raunchie says:

    Hi everyone,
    I always enjoy your various insights on this show and this subject of discussion is quite interesting. To add to it, I thought I would share with you the feeling I got watching the hug Chuck and Ellie shared at the end of the finale.
    The look on Ellie’s face as they were hugging was not one of relief at hearing Chuck had quit as promised. She gave me the impression she was hiding something from Chuck and that she may know more than she’s willing to share. It could very well be that the one doing most of the lying in season 4 is not Chuck, but Ellie.
    Any comments?

    • atcdave says:

      First, welcome the site Raunchie! You’re starting with an interesting thought. That really hadn’t occured to me. I’m not sure what Ellie would be keeping secrets about, but that could be an interesting twist. Maybe she knows more about mom or family history than she’s letting on. My money is still on Ellie will be back in the dark for most of S4, but I would love to see her become more useful to TeamB.

      • weaselone says:

        Hello! Her lasagna recipe of course, or should I say her mother’s lasagna recipe. It turns out Ellie was supposed to pass on that little secret when Chuck finally found the one, but so far she’s been holding out on Sarah.

      • atcdave says:

        And she’s wise to do so. Every crime fighting organization needs a first rate cook. If she can just keep those darn recipes to herself she will always have a place in Chuck and Sarah’s (oh, and Morgan and Casey’s) lives. Seriously, they already have an abundance of doctors between Devon, Sarah’s field medic abilities, and Chuck’s flashes; but cooking is an artform.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Hey, don’t forget Morgan. He may not be able to “flip the shrimp” but he is a semi-trained hibachi chef, and makes a mean teriaki surprise. Then there are always Casey’s microbot laced quiche and Sarah’s soufles (but I suspect that was CIA supplied based on her corn dog skills)

      • weaselone says:

        I don’t know. Sarah appears to have some skills when it comes to cooking eggs. Although given her lack of cooking facilities the souffle almost has to be the work of a CIA chef.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        That’s what she did with all her spare time! Cooking classes! I forgot she was doing that by Suburbs. And she did do a nice job setting up Chuck’s dinner in Fake Name.

      • Merve says:

        Shaw was probably responsible for the culinary success. That’s how he wooed Sarah and pushed Chuck and Hannah together. It’s a brilliant and diabolical plan.

      • lucian says:

        I have to completely reassess all my thinking on Shaw. Any guy who can cook Italian is good in my book. Sarah chose the wrong guy……

      • JC says:

        I’d let Shaw date my g/f if he could make an awesome Fettuccine Alfredo.

      • lucian says:

        Maybe that’s what Shaw and Sarah were doing all day in his penthouse – swapping recipes!

      • joe says:

        Oh, you guys! 😉

    • joe says:

      Hi, Raunchie. I want to second Dave’s greeting. It’s nice to see new names.

      And that *is* an interesting thought. Ellie has always been so transparent, it would actually be interesting to see her have her own secret.

      Oh – please ignore the silliness below your post. I’m the only one allowed by law to be silly here. I find it helpful to roll up a news paper and bop them on the nose every so often.


  19. Raunchie says:

    That was all Shaw. After all, he spent a couple of years in Rome on assignment. He must have learnt a thing or two about chicken pepperoni in Italy.

    • Merve says:

      I don’t even understand what chicken pepperoni is supposed to be. It sounds gross. (And it’s even grosser if it’s the same thing as the “chicken with balsamic glaze” from “First Date.”)

  20. andyt says:

    Great topic SD, I also thought the vibe between Sarah and Ellie was “chilly” in Ring Part 2. I think that Ellie looks at Sarah much more warily now than before. This will be a fascinating dynamic in the new season.

    It might have been said earlier, but I think that most the angst will come from a Chuck and Ellie conflict in Season 4. I believe that Chuck and Sarah will be working together. In fact, Chuck might be a government employed private contractor. After the problems with Fulcrum and the Ring, Beckman might employ Chuck as a truly off the books assest in order to do missions of the most secrecy and importance with Casey and Sarah as his liasons.

    Ellie will be kept in the dark not only because of Dad’s wishes in the final message, but because the other, other woman in Chuck’s world–Mom. For Ellie, Mom is on the “We do not speak her name” list. Let’s not forget, her name has never appeared until Ring Part II. In “Dream Job”, when Stephen mentions how much Ellie looks like her mother there is a very awkward silence. Also, Ellie expresses in Ring Part 2 how angry she was a Mom for leaving and how it upset Chuck. Chuck knows all of this and might very well keep his search for Mom a secret from his sister.

  21. Robert H says:

    A good post and brings up points I have mentioned
    directly and indirectly in my last few posts, particularly about the season ending finale, which
    on the whole, I did not like especially Ellie’s role
    and Chuck’s reactions to her “demands”.

    Of course this is all the writers and producers doing and these characters are not real people but
    actors reciting lines from a script they did not write. But for arguement’s sake let’s assume the
    characters are “real”.

    First of all I don’t trust the producers any more
    at all. Just you wait, they will introduce angst
    again to drive Chuck/Sarah apart through Ellie.
    Mark my words these guys brought them together simply because the show was in great danger of being
    cancelled and that was the only reason they did it.
    They know they can’t do any 3rd person PLI to separate them so they will use the Ellie character
    to do it again. I might be wrong about this and
    somewhat cynical but after what they did in Season
    3 and now that the show has been renewed watch out!
    My guess is they will try this again.

    Have to go now. Will post more detail at a later date, thanks.

    • Paul says:

      Robert, the show is STILL in great danger of being cancelled. Do you REALLY think that the writers will drive C/S apart just to produce angst?

      • Paul says:

        Need to add more as I prematurely posted:

        I don’t buy for a second that the sole reason why TPTB brought C/S together was that it was time. WT/WT was played out and they knew it. I think the writers have pretty much accepted that Chuck will always be a bubble show and IMHO S4 is likely going to be the last. So I HIGHLY doubt we will see a permanent C/S break up in the final season of a series. Just not going to happen.

        Will there be no angst this season? I highly doubt that too, but the source will not be C/S.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Paul. We will see some form of angst (perhaps pressure from Ellie on Chuck or Sarah), but I think the central relationship will remain mostly solid. With marginal ratings, and an audience pretty unified on how it ought to be, it would be nuts to do anything as drastic as S3 again. We’ve been kicking around what form “the Team” will be next season and what their connection to the government may be; but I’m pretty sure it will involve Chuck and Sarah on screen together, and enjoying each others company, for most of the season.

  22. Hope says:

    Wow you touched on something I never looked at. I watched it all in the finale but never thought much about it ’till now. I always thought Ellie and Sarah had a deep connection, respect and admiration for each other, that it was easy to believe that one day they could be sisters. But like you said, in the three years the girls have known each other Ellie hasn’t really known Sarah at all. And it makes me wonder now if the two of them can heal the breach and be as close as when we thought they were. Very interesting and intriguing observation.

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