S3 Revisited: Chuck vs. The Role Models (3.15)

That Was Fun!

I’ll repeat myself. After nearly three full seasons of Chuck and Sarah dancing their dance, falling in love (despite their best efforts) and making us love them, I went into this episode just knowing that there was going to be yet another big something coming between them. And there was, right off the bat.

Well almost right off the bat. The opening segment Chuck vs. The Role Models was recognized by almost all of us “old-timers” as a wonderful homage to Hart to Hart, a joyous (if lighthearted) adventure vehicle for Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers in the late ’70s. If you pester one of those old-timers enough they will even admit that everyone thought for a bit that Ms. Powers was actually married IRL to Mr. Wagner. Not that *they* believed this, of course. Ahem.

In his dream, Morgan cast himself in the role of Max, as played by Lionel Stander. If you saw the old show, you recognized that Josh Gomez did a pretty good Stander impersonation with that gruff voice. I couldn’t help it – with Chuck as Jonathan and Sarah as Jennifer, the whole thing made me smile like a kid with candy. Uh, wait a minute. Wasn’t I a little nervous 30 seconds earlier, wondering what romantic calamity was going to befall the cursed couple next? This was so – happy! How were TPTB going to mess with my mind this time?

“Why Would We Do That?”

Oh! There it was. After Sarah’s words, the world righted itself and things were back to (ab)normal. She wasn’t going to move in with Chuck. Can’t have it too easy for them now.

But wasn’t Chuck taking it rather well? And didn’t it look like Sarah really thought that it was better for them, right now, and that they would still be okay? Didn’t it seem to be not that big a deal? Very strange.

Sarah: We’re not a normal couple. So why do we have to pretend like we have a normal life?
Chuck: Who’s pretending?
Sarah: Oh – I didn’t mean it like that.

It almost sounds like Sarah doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. Okay. That seems like normal for Sarah. I think… Something has to keep them apart, after all, or this wouldn’t be Chuck.

And something else is back to normal. With the Ellie and Devon in Africa, Awesome is once again – awesome. Despite all the doom and gloom we had in the front 13 of season 3, the respite given us in Chuck vs. The Honeymooners is starting to seem – well, present. And continuing! Hum… Dare I think it?

General Beckman has news for Chuck and Sarah. She tells us that if they are to have a personal relationship, they must learn “how to go about it properly. Your mission,” she says, “is to watch and learn from the best couple the CIA has produced.”

Then a fabulous tune starts. It’s a song by Mel Tourme, of all people, and into the courtyard walk the Craig (Fred Willard) and Laura (Swoozie (also spelled Swoosie) Kurtz) Turner to teach them the ropes.

Craig Turner: Dear God it’s us 30 years ago.
Chuck: Look, Sarah. That’s us in 30 years.

Giggle. Oh, so lighthearted. In fact, who’s the bad guy? Oh yes. It’s Otto Von Vogel, played by German actor Udo Kier. Do you remember what he did? Something about software right? And a tiger? It hardly matters, and it doesn’t need to. The only question is, will the Turners succeed in showing The Charlesssessss “the ropes”? Please please PLEASE???! – before they have a fight and break up or do something stu… – hang on. Deep breath now, Buckley. Chuck and Sarah still seem – fine.

Chuck: See? Consumate professionals. I mean, what do you think makes them such a great spy team?
Sarah: Uh – a lifetime of training?
Chuck: Very funny. I’m talking about them being a couple. I honestly can’t believe the CIA doesn’t hire more of us.
Sarah: They’re not that great.
Chuck: Don’t be jealous.
Sarah: I’m not jealous. I’m just saying they’re not that great.

Not as spies? No. As a couple. Craig and Laura are quite able to smoothly divert Otto from questioning Chuck and Sarah at the soiree, and Sarah knows a professional move when she sees one. It’s the lechery and drunken jealousy she sees in them that raises her doubts.

Sarah: We should get out of here before they blow all our covers.
Chuck: But what about the software?
Sarah: Let’s show the Turners how it’s done. Hum?

Something’s wrong here, and I know what it is. It’s the fact that NOTHING’S WRONG HERE! Chuck and Sarah seem to doing great; they’ve even joked about his asking her to move in, and kissed on it. Aren’t the Turners supposed to be role models? Chuck and Sarah should be teaching them!

Chuck: Okay, okay. The Turners aren’t perfect. I’m willing to modify my opinion.
Sarah: She’s a drunk and he’s a philanderer. As a team, they’re a total mess.
Chuck: Oh, com’mon. They’re not completely without their charm. I mean, there could be worse couples we could turn into.
Sarah: I would rather be eaten alive by a tiger!

Trust No One. Except Your Partner, Of Course

In the mean time, Ellie and Awesome meet Justin (Scott Holroyd). He’s about to become a familiar dark shadow, but let’s concentrate on the Turners for a moment. You see, they do have something to teach Chuck and Sarah. As the spies leave the soiree, they pull a gun on the younger couple. Chuck protests, but Laura Turner tells him not to feel too bad. “We’re the best at this.”

Chuck: This is great. Not only did the Turners sell us out, they made us look like amateurs.
Sarah: Chuck? Why are you doing dishes?
Chuck: Please. I’m a Bartowski. This is what we do to deal with stress. We clean.
Sarah: Okay, I can see you’re upset.
Chuck: I am upset. The Turners were supposed to be our role models. Instead, they turn out to be these cold hearted, double-crossing traitors. And now, now you’re never gonna move in with me.
Sarah: Chuck, we’re not the Turners.
Chuck: Yeah, I know. But I kinda liked the idea the we could become them.

Did I hear that right? Was there a hint here that maybe, just maybe Sarah will move in with him, since they are not the Turners?

Chuck and Sarah may still be figuring out how to deal with life together, but as spies, they’re doing all right. It takes them only one clue to figure out where the Turners are staying.

[Sarah cock her gun.]
Sarah: This is how I deal with stress.
Chuck: Here we go!

Indeed. Here we go! In the very next scene it’s Chuck & Sarah who have the drop on the Turners. Can it get any smoother than this? Why, yes. Yes it can. In the B-story, Morgan has been struggling (and mostly failing) to become a spy, and Casey is failing (badly) at training him.

Morgan: You’re going to fire me, aren’t you? This is worse than when I got canned at Underpants Etc.
Casey: It’s not the end of the world.
Morgan: Com’mon. That’s what you all say when you fire me. I blew it. I blew my one chance to be a spy. And the thing is, Casey, all I wanted to do is to be part of this team.
Casey: I know how you feel.
You know, Morgan? You were there for me when I was out on my ass with the agency. I just want you to know I’m here for you now.

Morgan: Really? Not just my spy-world or Buy More ‘here’? – like a friend?
Casey: Let’s just keep that on the down-low. Huh?

Okay, that makes it official. This is the same feeling I had in season 1, but with different characters. Where’s the angst? Where’s the desperation? Gone! And I love it!

Quiet!

And if the bromance between Morgan and Casey wasn’t enough to convince viewers, Chuck dressing down the bickering Turners should. Chuck has become a take-charge kind of guy, yelling at the Turners like that. And remember? He had an issue with Sarah earlier that caused him to put his foot down. It was something about a “thirty foot rule.” Oh yes.

Chuck: (to himself) No gun – no flash…
(to Sarah) Honey? Darling? Would you mind telling me what you’ve done with our small cache of weapons?
Sarah: I got rid of them, Sweetheart.
Chuck: You actually listened to me???
Sarah: I can’t quite believe it myself.
Chuck: What have you done with the guns you had at the hotel?
Sarah: I left them in the car!
Chuck: Why would you do that?
Sarah: Because you TOLD me to…
Craig Turner: (under his breath to Laura) Rookies.

Any resemblance between Chuck & Sarah’s conversation and one had by actual married couples everywhere is strictly intentional. And it would have been so easy to get that wrong. But no, it’s done in a way to make it clear that this is not going to stop them. As I watch, I realize that my brow is not furrowed with worry about Chuck & Sarah. I’m smiling.  For almost the entire duration of this episode I am smiling.

Bad-guy Otto comes in with his kitten, and gives our couple an ultimatum; give up the Turners or die.  It’s decision time, and up to now Chuck and Sarah have not been doing very well coming to agreement about the little things (like weapons caches and living arrangements).

Chuck: I say we hand them over.
Sarah: We can’t do that.
Chuck: Why not? They sold us out!
Sarah: Because then we’d be no better than the Turners.
Chuck: Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe we’re gonna end up just like them – a couple of traitors.
[Sarah looks at Chuck, Chuck looks at Sarah.]
Sarah: Do you really believe that?
[pause]
Chuck: No.

See? Told ya they had it in ’em. Was I worried? Naw! Chuck and Sarah can get by anything. All Sarah has to do is talk it out sometimes and all Chuck has to do is compromise about weapons caches in the apartment and…

You bet I was worried. I have been set up for three seasons to be doubtful and fearful. But this episode more than any other (including The Honeymooners) is the proof that what Chuck and Sarah had to deal with before is over and done. What we the audience had to suffer through, angst and PLIs, are gone.  Just like that.

And just like that, Sarah decides to move in with Chuck, if his offer still stands. Was there a doubt?

We know already that more adventures are coming, and there will be difficulties and “big somethings.” As amazing as they are, Chuck and Sarah, they will never be normal. These things are not going to come between them or change their minds any more, though. The worst that happens is that their course is changed.  Chuck and Sarah stay on that course together regardless. After Chuck vs. The Role Models, we know that, and we can believe it. Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers have nothing on this couple.

Once again I’d like to specially thank Faith for the space used for the music. The tunes were Mel Torme’s Comin’ Home, Baby and Miike Snow’s Sans Soleil.

– joe

You know, he really does look like Warren Beatty.

Well a young Warren Beatty,  a bit.  Morgan is right though, Chuck is killin’ it with the ladies.  And now that Chuck has his true love, the leggy Valkyrie with an aversion to clothing, he’s finally happy.  Morgan is in hell.  But I digress.  I will never watch this episode without thinking of something.  What happened to the bathtub scene?

I’m going to get a bit into the weeds here so be patient.  If you followed our back 6 spoilers you know what I’m talking about.  If you didn’t, check them out and note that the originally scheduled first scene of Chuck Versus The Role Models involved Chuck, Sarah, Morgan, and a bathtub.  The mind reels.  Every other scene revealed on that shooting schedule made it to air as far as I can tell.  Not mentioned however are the first two scenes of the episode.  The Hart to Hart homage Joe mentions, and the OJ incident.  Joe’s article got me thinking about this.  Some of us needed light and fluffy, and I think it was pretty clear TPTB realized the front 13 were playing way too heavy.  The mix we all look for was off and the excess of dark and the overdone angst were not playing well with the fan base.  It might have been OK if they managed to lighten the mood a bit in that arc, which I think was the intent of Chuck Versus The Beard and Chuck Versus the Tic Tac.  Unfortunately neither played as well or lightened the mood as much as they probably hoped.  After the disconnect at the end of Chuck Versus The Fake Name handing Sarah the stupid stick (love that phrase) in Beard, having her suggest to Chuck “You can always come to us.”  when he can’t flash wasn’t a great move.  While the episode ended on an up note for Chuck it didn’t last.  Even with the fun, admittedly darker fun, of Chuck Versus The Tic Tac it ended on a very down note, undoing all the angst relief they’d managed.  This had already sort of happened before.  The over-angsty Chuck Versus The Pink Slip and Chuck Versus The Three Words were for the most part redeemed by the “Awesome Episodes”, but for some Chuck Versus First Class and Chuck Versus The Nacho Sampler were dark enough to spoil that balance.  Following them up with Mask and Fake name pretty much doomed Beard and Tic Tac to not being able to restore the balance for a lot of fans.  The lighter tone at the beginning of Final Exam then was not enough for the dark end and depressing beginning of American Hero.  In short, they’ve been struggling with the tone and balance a lot of the season, and they knew Role Models had to be light, even following Honeymooners.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Role Models was in production right about the time of the Chuckopalypse.  That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it, for now.  Which brings us back to the bathtub scene.

Past experience shows that some of the cut scenes that show up on DVD as special features would have really affected the tone of the show in perhaps unintended ways.  Think the bouquet toss in Ring, which was probably just supposed to be a sight gag since by that time Sarah had decided to stay.  Other times I think it was a deliberate decision to change the tone.  Go back to Season 1 and a scene cut from Chuck Versus The Crown Vic.  In the scene Casey goes a lot further explaining to Chuck about exactly what happens on seduction missions, and Sarah’s reputation.  It ends with Sarah essentially, as far as Chuck can tell, confirming his worst fears.  This scene changes the whole dynamic for Crown Vic and the end.  Instead of Chuck being insecure (after the kiss) about Sarah going to seduce someone and hurting over her recent distance and coolness it basically makes Chuck’s fears real.  He has no idea who Sarah is and what she is capable of.  Does he even want a relationship, a real relationship with someone like that?  Note how it also plays into the scene where Sarah tries to confront Chuck over his jealousy and he turns the tables on her.  Her last line, “It was a mistake, one that will never happen again.” plays as if Chuck blew it, but if you notice that line was dubbed in.  I think it’s pretty clear this episode played even darker originally.  The last scene, with Sarah attempting a reconciliation and Chuck deferring the mistletoe and the kiss for friendship and a dance now seems more like Chuck deciding he doesn’t want someone like Sarah for a girlfriend, real or fake.

Now go to a Season 2 deleted scene.  At the beginning of Chuck Versus The Breakup this scene has Chuck and Sarah having pizza and the wine from “The Montgomery” Chuck delivered at the end of Seduction.  In other words Bryce didn’t stop the date Chuck had planned, just delayed it.  The scene and the dialog make it pretty clear there is a real relationship that they both acknowledge developing, they just never seem to get their chance.  Sarah even calms Chuck’s Bryce insecurities directly, saying that what they had is in the past.  Put this scene back in, and the breakup becomes far more devastating for Sarah.  Chuck isn’t just putting some distance back before something happens, he’s taking away the real thing Sarah was on the verge of having, something they both saw coming and wanted as soon as they got their chance.  Carry this forward and it does a few things.  Chuck is a bit of a jerk for calling it off the way he does, knowing how just a short time ago they both were acknowledging they wanted what was on the verge of happening.  Bryce is a bit more of a jerk for playing on Chuck’s nice guy nature and desire to protect Sarah.  Also in Cougars, Sarah is a LOT more justified telling Chuck, violently, to back off about her past.

In general, using these two as an example, deleted scenes have tended to serve to lighten the mood a bit.  In the two cases above, I think the first was probably right, and the second, I’m not so sure.  I think the deeper relationship and the real breakup could have been done.  Most of the fans pretty much assumed that anyway, so I don’t think that deleted scene gained them much.  Now the question, what did they gain in Chuck Versus The Role Models?  How did removing a scene involving Chuck, Sarah, Morgan and a bathtub actually lighten the mood?  Of course it has to do with angst, just not the kind they’ve beaten us with most of the season.

Chuck and Sarah have just returned from their Honeymoon, having resolved to be together and to be spies.  Suddenly it seems they both have everything they want.  Real happiness can be theirs.  Is there anything that can stop our formerly star crossed lovers?  The Morgan.  Imagine Sarah returning to life with Chuck only to find that at every turn, there’s Morgan.  Sarah wants a relaxing bath (with or without Chuck) suddenly, there’s Morgan.  Sarah wants a late night snack?  There’s Morgan.  A moment on the couch starts to turn romantic?  You got it, Morgan.  If this is Sarah’s first foray into something real the formerly mildly annoying Morgan who broke up a few fake dates and played the part of third wheel would now be… more annoying?  How would Morgan react to the situation?  We saw, sort of.  How would Sarah?  We saw, some.  But what about Chuck?  Anybody else notice a distinct lack of Morgan presence in Chuck’s apartment from about the end of Role Models on?  Tooth?  No Morgan.  Living Dead?  Chuck actually calls Morgan from his kitchen first thing in the morning and tells Morgan to meet him at the Buy More.  Anyone else’s head snap on that one?  We twice see Morgan visiting the Awesome’s, but from the end of Role Models on I can’t recall a scene with Morgan in Chuck’s (and now Sarah’s) apartment.  Did we get a bit too angsty and dark?  Was there a Morgan eviction?  Was Casey there for Morgan?  Were TPTB gun-shy about a Morgan/Chuck/Sarah confrontation so soon?  I think Joe raises an interesting point.  A lot of us needed light and fun.  More than a kiss in a Paris hotel room and a honeymoon.  TPTB were trying to re-balance the show in a new more dramatic place, and for the front 13 their efforts failed with a large portion of the dedicated fan base.  Chuck Versus The Beard and the beginning of Chuck Versus The Tic Tac were not enough to remove the bitter taste of Chuck Versus The Fake Name, and the dark parts of Chuck Versus The Final Exam came too quickly and heavily  on the heels of the downer ending of Tic Tac.  Without the frothy light one-off fun of Role Models following the fun of Honeymooners, would Chuck Versus The Tooth have felt different, been too dark?  I’ve got my Season 3 DVD pre-ordered.  It may be interesting to see those deleted scenes.

I know this went on for far too long and probably too deep into the weeds, but we’ve had a lot of discussion lately about the balance and tone of the show, and Joe just got me thinking far too long and hard about some of this.  That and I’m on vacation and had time to watch and write.  Some consider this episode a light frothy nothing and seem to think that is just as bad as some of the earlier episodes some others consider a depressing dirge.  It’s a tough thing to get that balance back once you lose it, or even to find that fan center-of-mass again once you’ve changed the shows premise and direction.  But I think it’s clear TPTB are trying, sincerely trying, to get us all to that place where we can agree, maybe for different reasons, that was a great episode of Chuck.

As fort the episode?  I loved it and I probably have another 1,000 words on that, but that I’ll leave for the discussion in comments.

– Ernie

Passing the torch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and have re-watched it many times.  I crack up with Mrs. Turner claiming to be a professional, only to fall on her ass.  It makes me smile just thinking about it!  Ernie and Joe hit on a lot of great points but I want to touch on the passing of the torch between the Turners and Team Bartowski. We saw the hotshot spy couple, their illustrious exploits, and their relationship-I’m talking about the Turners.  What a hoot those two were.  And Beckman’s drooling all over herself with praise (like what a great spy Shaw is/was) just automatically tells me to be on alert.  I love that they illustrate for Chuck and Sarah the pitfalls of spy life, whether as a couple or not.  Cynicism, lying, selfishness, and sheer pragmatism overcame the Turners sense of duty and responsibility, both to the country and to each other.  Chuck and Sarah met every curve ball the Turners and Otto threw at them with aplomb, their dialog a realization of their commitment to what was right, and to each other.  The last scene of the debrief was very classy, imho.  Chuck and Sarah could have thrown them under the bus.  They tell the general that the experience was “humbling” but surely not in the way Beckman thought it was.  They offered redemption by example and solidified their love for one another.  My quibble in the last scene with Sarah putting up pictures was that it felt rushed-the dialog, that is.  Where is her killer wardrobe?  Where is the heavy bag?  Where are the arguments over the decor?

Diamond in the rough.

My other favorite part was Morgan and Casey.  I loved Beckman giving Casey his assignment to train Morgan.  “He’s a diamond in the rough.  Very rough.  But you can make him……sparkle!”  I was rolling on the floor, I must admit, when she said those things.  It was payback for blackmailing her into putting Morgan on Team Bartowski and she relished the thought of torturing John Casey with training Morgan.  Once again, I’m reminded that the best spy team is also the most unconventional, and I hope the writers capitalize on that in season 4.  I wish I had deeper thoughts for you all, but it has been a long, hot day!  Cheers!

-amyabn

Pure Fluff

I’d have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this episode.   Its not something anyone would call deep or important,  its simply fun.   I don’t think any of us really want the show to turn into this.   But I thought it was great to get a two episode break from the dark and angst filled main arc this season;  before we plunge into final mini-arc.   Honeymoners,  Role Models,  and Tooth (kind of a transition episode,  leading us into the end game) establish Chuck and Sarah as a couple.  They suddenly seem pretty mature and secure.  Its a little surprising after the tortured journey of the front 13,  but oh so refreshing to see.
I don’t know how much pure fluff like this we’ll have to look forward to in S4,  but I will always enjoy this episode for what it was.   A few things really stand out to me:

I think leggy Valkerie suits Sarah nicely (um…. I won’t worry about the rest of that line!)

Loved the tiger,  I was really disappointed he (she?) didn’t make Ernie’s list of villains.   Favorite exchange:    Chuck “why didn’t you shoot him?!”   Sarah  “you said he was majestic!”    And did I mentioned this was right after a girlish scream from Agent Walker?   Never thought we’d see that!

I’ve always been a Fred Willard fan.  He manages to pull off affable but not quite all there perfectly.

Although Sarah seemed a little grumpy through much of this episode;  kind of like she knew she was way beyond anything the Turner’s were going to teach her,  and annoyed that Chuck was soooo impressed with them.   But in the end it was clearly a good Chuck and Sarah episode.   I know I’ve said before I don’t quite get how “moving in” was a big deal after almost running off together,  but that seems like a minor quibble for such a fun show.

– Dave

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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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182 Responses to S3 Revisited: Chuck vs. The Role Models (3.15)

  1. aardvark7734 says:

    I can’t believe as I type this that there are no comments yet for this post. Ah well, maybe it went up after everyone else went to sleep. 🙂

    I loved this episode. I’ve watched it as much or more than Honeymooners, somewhat to my surprise. All of you got it right, I think, although Ernie took me on a long and circuitous journey through the history of this and last season’s tonal roller coaster to get there. Thanks, Ernie! 😀

    This episode had a very important purpose, and that was to show that Honeymooners wasn’t just a dream. That TPTB had, in fact, established Chuck and Sarah as an ongoing couple for the foreseeable future and they were going to start working through their problems together instead of being torn apart by them.

    Was it very sweet and light? Yes, absolutely. Do I want every episode to play like this? No, in the same way I don’t want to eat chocolate cream cake for every meal. But during the time I was still smarting from the months of depressing and infuriating story inflicted on me in early S3? Yes please, and I’ll take another slice, thanks!

    Every Chuck-Sarah moment in this episode is golden to me – from the amused laugh Sarah gives Chuck when he anxiously lets the Turners into his apartment the first time to the smile and kiss when Chuck admits he might ask her to move in again, (but later) to the couples argument about the weapon’s cache (love it) to the look she gives him after the Turners leave Castle at the end.

    It’s all very affirming and, I dunno, reinforcing somehow. It’s telling me to calm down, it’s all going to work out. And like Honeymooners before it, I felt like Role Models was an olive branch of sorts. A “make good” from TPTB for the suffering I’d endured. Well, it mostly worked.

    I completely get how fans who are immune to the whole relationship agony thing just don’t appreciate WTH I’m talking about. They never felt depressed about the state of the show, even though they might have agreed that some parts of the story and characters weren’t working very well. But I don’t think they felt it – I think a lot of us were just miserable.

    And so, when these light, puffy and unprecedentedly joyous eps appeared, these same fans just wrote them off as inconsequential. They weren’t being mean or uncaring, I don’t think. They just never really understood how desperately episodes like this were needed by some of the fans.

    Now, the fan base is more centered. Those who were on the edge were mollified by the puffy eps, and those wanting more drama got their wish with the last three. If we go on to a S4 that swings, pendulum-like, between light and dark episodes, I think the fans as a whole are ready to go there now with no complaint.

    I certainly know I am.

    • herder says:

      I never got why a lot of people seemed a bit off about this episode as I really liked it. Where Honeymooners light and frothy and fun, this was all those things and comfortable too. I mean really, the biggest question in this episode was if Chuck’s girlfriend was going to move in with him, not moving in was no threat to the relationship.

      I don’t know about others but I have rewatched it about the same number of times as Honeymooners and more than Other Guy. So that sort of says where it fits among those episodes.

      • joe says:

        I’ve lost count, but I think this is the episode I’ve rewatched the most too, Herder.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like this episode. (Okay, to be honest, I’ve liked every episode except for “Final Exam.”) I laughed at all the funny bits and it was fun to see Chuck and Sarah actually working together.

        But there was a lot of stuff about this episode that didn’t work for me. The episode played as three different television shows (the Chuck/Sarah plot, the Morgan/Casey plot, the Awesome/Ellie plot) that just happened to be intercutting each other. The spy-couple/odd-couple dynamic was pushed to the point of being way too cheesy. The fact that Chuck didn’t ask Morgan’s approval before asking Sarah to move in bothered me. The Chuck/Sarah bickering was amusing at first, but by the end of the episode, it was just tiresome. The episode didn’t have a good dramatic undercurrent to anchor it. And the main spy plot was thinner than rice paper.

        I know that a lot of those points were minor quibbles, but they added up. As easy as it is for me to turn off most of my brain while watching Chuck, my subconscious is still at work, and when I’m left with a feeling of, “Well, that was good but not great,” it’s up to my conscious to figure out why.

        “Role Models” is definitely not one of my least favourite episodes, but it’s also far from my favourite of the season. It was neither a triumph nor a failure; it was just solid. Sometimes I really can’t ask for more from an episode of Chuck.

      • jason says:

        herder, I was a bit put off at one point about the episode, I now like it alot, I voted for it on my top ten matter of fact, ernie hit the nail on the head, with the perspective of the back 6, the role model discourse between chuck and sarah was wonderful, one thing I don’t quite get, to me zach is sort of a comic actor, not warren beatty by any means, more jim carey or dick van dycke, matter of fact, the banter between CS in 3.15 had a bit of “Rob and Laura” in it, for those who are old enough to remember the dick van dycke show

    • joe says:

      I love the way you put that, Aardvark – that this episode shows us The Honeymooners was not a dream. Well said.

      Question: Who in this world is immune the “the whole relationship agony thing?” If that person exists, I don’t want to meet him! My suspicion is that there are 2 kinds of Chuck viewers; those who felt the agony and those who denied it. Both kinds were pretty unhappy at the end of The Fake Name.

      Fortunately, both kinds were pretty happy with the back 6 too. I love the idea that the fans are more centered now. That seems about right.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t want to be a contrarian here, but I’m one of those people who is pretty immune to “the whole relationship agony thing.” It might be because I’m a pretty simple person; as long as Chuck contains some combination of action, humour, explosions, and scantily-clad women, I’ll continue watching.

        It’s interesting that you bring up “Fake Name.” Everything was going fine with that episode until the apartment scene. How much of the Chuck/Shaw fight was real and what did Sarah think was going on? I still don’t know what to think of that mess. It’s kind of a shame that mishandling a crucial scene can ruin an episode. As for the ending of the episode, it didn’t leave me in a bad place because I saw it as a necessary step for the plot to go where it had to go. Hannah had to leave the picture, Chuck had to reconnect with someone, and Sarah and Shaw had to take one direction or the other with their relationship. The ending took care of all of that. With respect to the Chuck/Sarah dynamic, “Fake Name” left me with the impression that Chuck was actually going to start fighting for Sarah. But then, in “Beard,” he didn’t. (He had to have the same revelation that he had had in “Fake Name” – that he loved Sarah – again! Gah!) He didn’t even fight for her in “Tic Tac.” (It seems as if he needed Casey approval.) It wasn’t until “Final Exam” that he actually stepped up to the plate. If anything, for me, the frustration comes from “Beard.” (I can let “Tic Tac” slide because both Chuck and Sarah were focused on helping Casey and because it would be wrong for Chuck to pursue Sarah aggressively while Shaw wasn’t around to do anything about it.)

        You know, that’s just how I see it, though. I can understand why people who are more invested in the romance aspect of things would hate “Fake Name” and appreciate “Beard” more. My perspective is a little different, that’s all.

      • joe says:

        Well, someone had to prove me wrong, Merve. That’ll teach me to speak in universals.

        You have a point about the apartment scene in Fake Name, too. But honestly, I can’t tell if it was mishandled. Clearly, there’s a lot of unspoken dialog and messages to us, and some of those messages are unclear – that’s on them. Some are mis-understood. I know this because I’m prone myself to seeing what I want to see more than what they’re telling me. Yet, there’s a part of that dialog that’s meant to be ambiguous. It’s meant to be confusing. It’s for effect, and for those who think like I do (all one of us), it did it’s job. It also hurt.

        Anyway, I’m very glad to have your perspective here.

      • Patty says:

        I was willing to wait the season out assuming that Chuck and Sarah would be together at the end.

        I think they had to develop Sarah and Chuck’s relationship to the point where she was willing to let him put himself at risk for a mission before they could bring them together as a couple. The show would founder if Chuck remained the junior partner forever.

        On the other hand, if they try splitting them up now that they are together I will not be happy. I hate that soap opera trick.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Merve, I thought you might respond to Joe’s question. You were, I must admit, who I had in mind when I wrote that phrase. Hopefully, you can see that I tried to treat your viewpoint with respect and not vilify you in any way. Having you find value in elements of the show that are unremarkable to me, while vexing, has helped sensitize me to the fact that my preferences are not universal.

        I think my point was still valid that the fans not adequately invested in the romance weren’t able to fully appreciate the impact of 3.14 and 3.15. That these episodes were not only long overdue in finally getting Chuck and Sarah to a place many wanted them to be even in S2, but that they contained within their compressed payloads many powerful relationship moments that, prior to this, would have been spread out over half a season’s episodes.

        For fans of the romance, these weren’t conventional weapons – they were nukes.

        Of course, there is no measuring instrument available to back up the statement that others don’t feel the same way. All I can do is speculate based on what others say.

        But I think some of the impressions I picked up from some of the non-shippers was telling. Their reviews of these eps were of the “few words” variety, like “cute” or “fun episode”, followed immediately by a “now that’s over with, let’s get back to the show” kind of attitude that, frankly, I found patronizing and dismissive.

        With Role Models, I think there was too much time spent dwelling on the elements that existed solely as framework to support the ‘A’ story. Heck, some people actually thought the Otto spy caper or the Turner’s betrayal *was* the ‘A’ story! Not one of the reviews I read paid adequate due to the relationship growth angle – that the strength of this element was like a shot of morphine to fans still not fully past their DT’s.

        There’s also one other thing that you may or may not have already noticed that I thought I’d mention:

        Now that the show has turned away from the angsty, dark story that was told in the first two thirds of this season, you may have noticed that *some* of the fans have an aversion to talking much about those earlier episodes. It’s not that they weren’t sprinkled with several good moments, because they were. And all things being equal, they’d still be worth discussing.

        But for a shipper, spending a lot of time rehashing the things that worked or didn’t work inside Fake Name, for instance, is kind of like revisiting the details of a failed marriage. While there were good moments amongst the bad, and there’s ample material to analyze, more often than not we’d just as soon put the whole thing behind us.

        Does that sound too invested? Too emotionally engaged with a TV show? Maybe so. But it is what it is. In my defense, I can say honestly that for me, this is not true for any other show on television, no movie, no book or play.

        There’s something about this particular show that has me in its spell. If I ever figure out what that is I probably won’t be shy in telling everyone. 😉

      • atcdave says:

        Patty, Chuck’s been going all out for Sarah since the Pilot. Its who he is. I wish they’d left him the Intersect and computer guy, to me Intersect 2.0 and being a real agent actually diminishes him as a character. Not that I see it as a huge thing, just I think the story was more poignant as super-genius and super-spy. All they did in 3.01 through 3.11 was make Chuck and Sarah seem like a couple of confused kids. I’m just glad its over!

      • atcdave says:

        Good post Aardvark. I recently rewatched the Awesome episodes. Its funny, I remember liking them at the time. But now they just feel incomplete or unsatisfying.

        And Merve I always appreciate your willingness to discuss differences of opinion without getting nasty! I am glad some were able to enjoy most of the season, imagine the ratings bloodbath if everyone felt like me!

      • herder says:

        Aardvark, I think you hit the nail on the head, at least for me, I don’t have too much desire to spend a lot of time writing about the first part of the season. Doesn’t mean that I hate the show or that there weren’t parts of it that were very good, simply as you put, it feels like rehashing a failed marriage.

        In part, that is why when I wrote an article it was an entirely Shaw free zone. Maybe later on in the summer I’ll have more to say about the first part of the season, but for now I’m more inclined to comment about season one and two or the back six.

      • Merve says:

        @Aardvark: You made a lot of very good points. I can promise an equally lengthy (but not equally cogent) reply.

        You hit on something very interesting when you mentioned critical reviews. I hope that I never sounded patronizing or dismissive in wanting the show to get back to the meatier episodes (and “Tooth” satisfied me somewhat in that regard). But I understand the sentiment of being slightly offended at how certain people may have viewed the lighter episode. I try not to take things personally, but I felt a similar feeling after reading comments to the effect of the front 13 being “a waste of time” (or even more ludicrously suggesting that there was a logical jump from “Ring” to “Honeymooners”). From a Chuck/Sarah perspective, I can see how one might view the front 13 as being pointless; Chuck and Sarah hurt each other and then danced around their feelings for 12 episodes. But from a wider character perspective, it’s impossible to ignore Chuck’s spy development and increased wisdom, Casey’s newfound softness and appreciation for civilian life, Morgan’s bravery and leadership, Devon’s discovery of the less “awesome” side of life, and Big Mike’s new mentorship skills. That’s not to mention the development of the Chuck/Casey relationship from mutual respect to deep friendship.

        I don’t want to create the impression that there are two types of Chuck fans: shippers and non-shippers. There is a spectrum ranging from insane shipper to anti-shipper. (Yes, anti-shippers exist. I have a friend who comes just short of vomiting every time Chuck and Sarah kiss.) That’s why there’s been a spectrum of reactions to the episodes. I’m also reluctant to paint myself as a total non-shipper. I’m glad that Chuck and Sarah are together now. Now the show can continue to progress their relationship while also moving on to other stuff.

        As for how this all ties in to my sentiments about “Role Models,” I’d have to look at the first four episodes of the back six. I have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, every single one of them was solid and enjoyable. On the other hand, they seemed to be lacking something that I just can’t quite put my finger on. It didn’t have anything to do with how the Chuck/Sarah relationship was handled; I think that they did a great job of it, with the exception of the tiresome bickering in “Role Models.” If I were forced to identify what I thought it might be, I would say that it had something to do with actions and consequences. In the front 13, it seemed as if characters’ actions had consequences not only for themselves, but also for others. Chuck’s Paris trip and his subsequent lies about it are a great example of this. But for the first four episodes of the back six, it seemed as if the characters were operating in their own largely independent spheres until the wider consequences of their actions were revealed in “Subway.” Structurally, this could have been a huge issue. Luckily, Morgan being the versatile character that he is, could act as a sort of glue or mortar to hold everything together, running around between A-, B-, and C-plots. In the hands of a lesser actor than Josh Gomez, this could have been a disaster, but Gomez handled it with aplomb. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t feel the potential for the show to collapse because of a lack of structural connection between everything that was going on. I felt immensely relieved after the finale that no such collapse occurred.

        Overall, I tend to view “Honeymooners” through “Living Dead” as a sort of awkward transition phase from the romantic angst to the family drama: necessary and very enjoyable, but not the best of Chuck.

        I think that it would be interesting to see how this season would be viewed if we didn’t know that there was a separate front 13 and back 6. I don’t want to get too scientific here, but I think that there’s a certain psychological separation between the two in the fans’ minds, even though both parts of the season dealt with some of the same issues and plot lines. My guess is that if viewed as a regular 19-episode season, it would be easier to pick out favourites from the entire season, and that it might be easier to revisit older episodes that caused a lot of angst and see them in the wider context of the season.

        @Dave: It’s kind of fun to consider how this season might have been had Chuck never downloaded Intersect 2.0. I don’t know if TPTB could have gotten any more mileage out of the “stay in the car” joke, but Intersect 1.0’s puzzle-solving ability from “Dream Job” could have played a role in generating new storylines.

        That being said, I’m pretty satisfied with how Intersect 2.0 was handled this season. Sometimes Chuck saved the day with Intersect 2.0 skills (e.g. “Angel de la Muerte” and “Beard). Sometimes Intersect 1.0 came to the rescue (e.g. “Mask”). And sometimes Chuck just had to rely on his wits (e.g. “Other Guy”) Actually, “Other Guy” is notable because every flash that Chuck had in that episode ended up being useless! Now that Chuck seems to have mastered the Intersect 2.0, I hope that the writers don’t use it as a crutch to get Chuck out of any dangerous or dire situation. They haven’t done it so far, so I’m confident that they won’t take that route in the future.

      • joe says:

        Merve, can I dig a little deeper into this? In particular, that feeling you just can’t put your finger on.

        I’ve noticed that there’s a specific mood this show strikes – I almost just typed “on occasion”. But that’s not quite true. I noticed it first in Crown Vic when Chuck asks Sarah about that kiss. “Was it about me, or were my lips just the most convenient ones around?” The mood is struck when Levi looks down simultaneously hurt, angry and sad as she storms out. It comes out in nearly every break-up they have, and that same color comes out in many fountain scenes. It contains within it a depth and darkness that you don’t see often in TV. The humor of the Buy More often masks it.

        That color wasn’t occasional in those first 13 of S3.

        Is that close to what you were talking about? If so, I start to understand what the different views are saying here. Some really like that, some don’t and some need to have it in moderation, mixed with humor like a beer chaser after whiskey.

      • Merve says:

        Joe, the back 6 were certainly lacking in what you outlined, but I actually welcome its absence. It’s an indescribable feeling of heaviness, and I feel as if a giant weight has been lifted off the show, allowing it to explore new dynamics.

        I apologize for not doing a great job of getting at what I think was lacking. Imagine the front 13 as the kind of ball pit that kids play in (and that I wish I were still young enough to play in). Children come and go, interacting with each other, immersing themselves in the colourful chaos. In the front 13, the story elements seemed to interact with and bounce off each other in an organic way. Whatever a character did had real consequences not only for himself or herself, but also for the other characters. To give an example, Chuck’s spy life caused Devon to want to leave Burbank, resulted in Morgan discovering Chuck’s secret, and revealed Casey’s treachery. In turn, Devon’s wish to leave, Morgan’s spy aspirations, and Casey’s unemployment played into a crazy plan for Chuck to win Sarah back.

        The back six were more like a puzzle. All the pieces were laid out on the table, but they only came together to form a finished picture in “Subway.” It can be an interesting way to tell a story, but it felt as if the show was treading water in an attempt to keep the pieces apart until the big “A-ha!” moment.

        My personal preference is for ball pits over puzzles. One isn’t categorically better than other. Both have merits. To be honest, if there was a problem with the puzzle approach in the back 6, it might have been due to the compressed storytelling, and I can let it slide.

      • JC says:

        Its interesting, I see the difference between the first thirteen and the back six as the amount of story being told.

        The first 13 IMO felt like a lot of nothing happened. Sure there was some great character growth and others not so much. But I really felt like the story was going nowhere.

        Compare that to the back six, where I felt like there was too much going on with no buildup at all. Lots of great ideas and stories that weren’t explored fully.

        To me this led to a lot of the season both halves feeling uneven.

      • atcdave says:

        Merve, I’m sure I’m among those who’ve called the front 13 a complete waste of time, but you must know there’s a context to that. I don’t think many viewers would deny that much important happened in those episodes; Chuck learning new skills and control of the intersect, character growth for Casey and all the secondary characters, and even some story set up for conclusion. But for many of us, the emotional weight of the show is almost entirely linked to Chuck and Sarah. I admit it is difficult to jump strait from 2.22 to 3.13 or 3.14, too much has happened. But there is a giant teeth gnashing, hair pulling sort of frustration there; because it didn’t need to be that way. It would have been so easy to write those episodes in a way that more fans would have found pleasing. Seriously, even if Chuck and Sarah had just been luke warm towards each other for most of the arc it wouldn’t have led to the explosive anger we saw (of course, many of us, like me, would have been saying, “just get on with it already!”, but that’s a long ways from steaming mad). So it isn’t even just “Chuck and Sarah” going wrong, it is very specifically the other LIs that got many of us furiously angry. The idea many of us kicked around when we first started hearing about them was “maybe it will be played for laughs.” It could have been so much fun to have Shaw and Hannah as unwanted distractions to Chuck and Sarah as they try to keep their relationship secret; how could that not have been funny? And I’m sure most of us would have loved it. Instead they cheapen the trust and devotion we saw develop for two years and make both leads faithless and untrustworthy. To me, that burns deep. And when I talk about skipping episodes, that’s the feeling I want to avoid.

        The other thing, about the Intersect 2.0 is not such a big deal. I was enamored of the idea of Chuck being the brilliant but not very tough guy. Not so much that I wanted him to stay in the car; but I liked his role as the thinker, not the tough guy. It was kind of a fun role reversal when Sarah had to do the heavy lifting (hmm, actually not literally true, Chuck is bigger and presumably stronger than Sarah). Anyway, so far the new roles are working just fine, so I don’t mean to make a big deal of it.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Merve, in an effort to temper the volume of text flying back and forth here (wow) I’m going to try and be brief.

        I wasn’t thinking of anything you posted being patronizing or dismissive. That came from elsewhere.

        For the record, I never wanted to jump from 2.22 to 3.14, and the examples of character development that you refer to were important. My official position is that I simply wanted a different story to be told this season than the one that was. It could have been dark, even. Just not the one they told. Saying any more makes this into a non-short post.

        Also, agreed there is a spectrum of fans, but it’s not an even distribution – I think that, as imperfect as it is, the ChuckTV.net fan poll gives some idea of the asymmetrical nature of fan interest.

        I wish you hadn’t brought up the whole issue regarding how the characters’ actions in 3.14 – 3.17 seemed to have little gravity, because I want to address this but it’s just too much for me to tackle right now. Hopefully in a later post.

        It’s funny how we view the transition episodes differently. I see 3.13 as the terminator (line between night and day) separating the first two-thirds from the rest of the season. I see 3.17 as a genuine transition episode, since it shifted the focus quickly from Chuck-Sarah to the family/spy story.

        I know it sounds like I’m deceiving myself when I say that if I hadn’t known the season was split into two parts it wouldn’t have made much difference in how I picked my favorite episodes. But really, I’ve tried very hard to be objective and picture it. What collapses the whole thing for me is trying to sustain the illusion that there was anything even or balanced about how I perceived the episodes on either side of the 3.13 terminator. For me, being inside the front 12 was like having a nightmare, and ‘Other Guy’ was like waking up from it.

        I’m sure this sounds like an exaggeration to you, but I attest to you it’s not.

      • jason says:

        a couple of general storytelling things
        1 – the greater the hero’s problem, the greater the story –
        2 – the hero must be the one who solves the problem,
        3-the problem should be introduced right away with a big splash

        merve, my ? is what was the epic, dramatic problem that the hero solves in the front 13? If the problem was introduced in prague as the guy lost the girl, and solved in paris as the guy gets the girl, with the primary antagonist of the front 13 being shaw & the secondary being hannah, then indeed the front 13 was a waste & can be skipped. The OOC that one would see in morgan and casey would quickly be glossed over, as they are B characters and would pale in comparison to the sarah OOC behavior endured in the front 13 by fans.

        If something else was going on, i.e. a different central problem that was introduced in prague, that was resolved in Paris (which I have some ideas on, which would include a story board that shaw wasn’t even the villain of the front 13), then maybe the front 13 were not a waste, but that story really wasn’t told or sold very well, since few really saw a story told other than the last 2 legs of the classic – boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy losses girl, boy gets girl back

      • Merve says:

        @Everyone: I’ll try to be brief. I might be making a sweeping generalization, but I think it boils down to this: if you were heavily invested in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship, then a lot of season 3 was painful; if you weren’t heavily invested in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship, then most of season 3 was a fun ride.

        @Dave: I agree that they pushed the angst a little too hard in “Pink Slip” and “Three Words.” After that, I was pretty much okay with how they handled it. (I’m considering internal romantic angst as separate from PLIs here.) I also don’t like PLIs (but that extends to Lou, Bryce, Jill, and Cole too). I should mention a funny thing about “First Class,” though. If I hadn’t read spoilers and if the scene at the end of that episode had been omitted, I would never have thought that Hannah was supposed to be a love interest for Chuck. Similarly, without spoilers, I would have never guessed that Shaw was supposed to be a love interest for Sarah.

        @Jason: I can think of at least 3 more problems that Chuck faced this season. First, he had to learn how to become a real spy. Second, he had to master the Intersect 2.0. Third, he had to deal with continuous lies to his friends and family as well as a cover that was increasingly difficult to maintain. The first two problems were resolved by “Other Guy.” The last problem was resolved in season finale.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Boy you guys have done it now. 😉 The Hero’s Journey. Unfortunately I was e-mailing Amy about some of this just before catching up on comments. I’ll try to keep this short (heh) because most likely I’ll be doing a full-tilt-boogie epic post on it at some point.

        The Hero’s Journey structure, as I’ve mentioned, can apply on multiple levels. Individual episodes, like First Class, Final Exam and Honeymooners follow it very closely. In addition some arcs like the final 3 follow the same structure. I think I mentioned the last 3 would essentially be a three act Hero’s Journey. The smaller arcs can be built up into a larger Hero’s Journey structure that takes a full season, and then finally the individual seasons can act as a larger journey.

        That said, Merve makes a good point about structure and the first 3-4 of the back 6, and Jason makes an interesting point about the front 13 that I’ll issue a counterpoint to. The front 13 wasn’t about Chuck and Sarah. It was about Chuck, and it was about Sarah. Something a lot of us didn’t want to admit or see was evident from the beginning. They were not a couple, and for most of the season neither was trying to become a couple. They were on separate journeys.

        Chuck’s journey is the easier, so I’ll start with that. Jason is right, you need to introduce the big problem right away. What was Chuck’s first problem this season? Becoming a spy. Controlling the intersect and becoming a spy were clearly linked, and Sarah was tied into that too, but the issue that Chuck was confronted with was his failure at spy school, not losing Sarah.

        Given Chuck’s goal of becoming a spy, the season made a lot of sense in the front 13. We saw him fail, re-commit, succeed, almost lose everything, and finally succeed again, without the intersect. Classic Hero’s Journey stuff. As were the dark parts. We didn’t want to see a Chuck who could turn his back on his family and friends, and Sarah to fulfill his own ambitions, having lost sight of the purpose for undertaking the journey in the first place. We also didn’t want to see a Sarah who could give up on Chuck.

        Sarah’s journey is a bit tougher, but I think it has to do with making some sort of “real life” or connecting with her humanity outside the spy world. Sarah’s first problem is that she’s back to seducing marks. (Flashbacks don’t count.) After committing to Chuck she lost him, and apparently regressed as far as Chuck did. To the people they were before they ever met.

        We saw Sarah lose her chance at re-connecting with Chuck because she was too busy being a spy to listen, and by the time she understood his decision it was too late, she’d driven him away, at least in her mind. We saw Sarah try again to be friends and help Chuck, to be pushed away by Shaw and Chuck’s ambition. Fearing that Chuck was no longer Chuck she, in a moment of vulnerability, turned to Shaw, who was only too happy to make her think they could have something real. In the end though Sarah didn’t matter to Shaw. He was more interested in revenge than a life with her. Sarah turning her back on Chuck and clinging to the illusion of Shaw was her mistake that almost cost her everything.

        Now as the season was originally written as 13, that could be a full journey. In Paris Sarah got Chuck and Chuck became a spy, without the intersect. The back 6, structurally was sort of grafted on as a mini arc and as an extension. If we re-do the journey with Paris being the first test, Chuck killing Shaw and winning Sarah the next few episodes can structurally fit into the beginning of the third act of the Hero’s Journey, where there is often a celebratory mood as the new heroes with their prize start the journey home. Often the new dynamics of the team are explored a bit in preparation for the roles they’ll play in the final test. In this case the journey home put the home in jeopardy and the enemy had to be defeated once again before the heroes could return home.

      • jason says:

        ernie – this weekend I did a little research on drama. I was perplexed that someone as thoughtful as olddarth could think chuck is good / great drama, and I thought it sucked. So I tried to understand. It led me to a few thoughts on season 3.

        Your take was somewhat like mine. 2 hero’s journey’s – one for sarah, one for chuck. Sarah tells us her problem when she asks chuck to run away in the flashback, before she tells chuck she wants to be with him, she tells him she wants a normal life. That is her journey, and she may not have completed her journey quite yet, but she is well on her way.

        Chuck has told us his problem all three seasons, he needs to find something to do with his life that means something to him, to use my words, take what makes him ‘special’ and use it to help people. The spy quest in S3 is part of the journey, but the journey continues as Chuck discovered Orion’s liar at the end. The neat part about sarah, is she saw ‘special’ not equating ‘intersect’ very early. Papa B told us so too. Ellie has known Chuck was special all along. In the pink slip, both at the train station and at the water fountain, the chuck hero journey is laid out for season 3.

        Interesting thing is the villain in 3.1 to 3.13 in chuck’s quest for self actualization is pretty obvious to me, I wrote down over 20 things the villain did to thwart chuck’s spy quest. Her name is not Shaw, but starts with an S. In some ways, I suppose it is possible Ellie will assume some of that role in season 4, lets hope not so much in an over the top way.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, Sarah is clearly a force thwarting Chuck’s journey, but not the villain. She’s the lure of turning away from his calling, the seduction of hearth and home over hardship and heroism. That’s the nature of the flashbacks. He was initially, even after accepting his calling, tempted to turn back. He stood firm in Prague, and almost turned back again in American Hero. In essence “quitting” at the end of Ring 2 was the return to Sarah and his family, where we found him after the wedding in Ring. He had friends, family, Sarah (though he didn’t know it) and was no longer a spy.

      • jason says:

        ernie – I would call sarah chuck’s mentor in season 1 / 2, the villain of season 3 front 13, and chuck’s ally in the back 6.

        here is the basic definitions in the playbook I found: “# Villains: Block the main character from reaching goals. # Allies: Assist the main character in reaching goals. # Mentors: Wise characters that help the main character. ”

        The problem of all of this, is none of it changes how flat the front 13 fell on its face to the viewers – might help one pass a literature class, but did not entertain the majority of the fans.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, I don’t want to get too far into the weeds, but if really want to understand Sarah in the full arc, she’s the goddess. She is Chuck’s protector and mentor who requires him to prove himself. The hero suffers when he turns away from the goddess, having grown arrogant with his new power, but finds the power useless and meaningless without his goddess and higher calling.

        In the individual seasons I think you can find other interpretations, but I don’t agree with Sarah as a villain because she isn’t so much hindering his journey as pulling him back to his original purpose for the journey, laid out in the final scene of Three Words. He became a spy to help people, not to live the life of a jet setting playboy in Italy.

      • jason says:

        ernie – you will get no argument from me that sarah is indeed a goddess, still think her being used as a plot device in the front 13 explains alot – so much of her OOC can be explained, I suppose one could even positively say she seduced shaw as just another way to block Chuck’s journey, rather than shaw seduced sarah for recreational sex? I guess Fedak would have to come out and try to explain things yet again – isn’t that the problem – the story was not understood well.

        I still think boy loses girl, boy gets girl back is about as lucid a description of 3.1 thru 3.13 as any, not a satisfying story, nor an epic one, but fits as many of the plot holes as any?????

      • lucian says:

        Ernie- I don’t see Chuck choosing to be a spy at any point because he was looking to be a jet-setting cool dude. He always had, IMO, two motivations for his actions – helping people and being with Sarah. He gave up on Sarah when those seemed to be mutually exclusive. It is why the story, as told, makes little sense. They both, in fact, wanted exactly the same thing all along – they just didn’t know it!

      • jason says:

        i know we are on a tangent here, but what interested me about the hero’s journey to find his place in the world, is much of 3.14 (that the so called drama bloggers called fluff), actually dealt with the joining of chuck and sarah on the journey to define what exactly and how exactly the future will be. Then in 3.15, most are calling it ‘really’ lightweight, but in lots of ways, many of sarah’s needs for ‘normal’ begin to get ‘fleshed’ out, starting with the fridge scene. The climax was not the move in on their mini heroes journey, but was the ‘sidebar’ when they both agreed how they would face the future. The moving in was the prize for the class with which they approached the day job.

      • joe says:

        Jason: I did a little research on drama. I was perplexed that someone as thoughtful as olddarth could think chuck is good / great drama, and I thought it sucked.

        This is officially an amazing thread, now.

        I had to address this, Jason. You give the show quite a compliment here, but I’m not sure you realize it! I mean, comparing Chuck to great literature is setting the bar pretty high. This is network TV, of course,- descendants of those who brought you My Mother the Car and Run Buddy, Run.

        What’s cool is that Chuck *does* make us think in terms if great literature. We think in terms of good story-telling and good special effects and good music and good entertainment, and we judge each episode accordingly.

        It ain’t Shakespeare, but man, it gets close sometimes.

      • jason says:

        Joe, If I said chuck was good / great drama, I did not mean to – so sorry for the confusion, I was trying to understand why others might think that, my position on chuck pretty much from the start has been chuck is ‘get Samrt’ updated into the IPhone generation, pure parody of drama – yet – I try to understand as many POV’s as I can, part of my involvement here is to learn, a curiosity if you will, and I thought a breakdown of the plot and the characters formally like one would do in a classroom was worth the effort – certainly a journey to find ‘one’s calling’ is a more noble plot for chuck than ‘getting the girl’ – paraody or real drama notwithstanding

      • JC says:

        I have to agree that Sarah or her overreactions became the villain of the front thirteen. Now that probably wasn’t the intention but that’s how it came off IMO.

        We’ve discussed Chuck’s actions to death but it felt like no matter what he did, Sarah saw the worst in it. Since the Ring and its plots amounted to nothing in the end, her overreactions were the sole roadblocks Chuck had to overcome.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Lucian, I agree that Chuck more or less gave up on Sarah. But around the time of Final Exam it seemed to me he’d become so wrapped up in the goal, becoming a spy, and the reward, a jet-setting life in Italy, that he overlooked the downside, like Shaw and Sarah ordering him to assassinate Perry, losing Sarah, leaving behind all his friends and family.

      • Merve says:

        Ernie, if I recall correctly, Chuck didn’t know that he’d be posted in Italy until “American Hero.”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Merve, Rome was mentioned when Beckman was explaining the reward if he passed the Final Exam.

    • atcdave says:

      I certainly was among those who were miserable. I agree with Aarvark’s centered comment. I don’t even mind dark episodes as long as there is something good to hang one to; and on Chuck that has to be Chuck/Sarah.

      • amyabn says:

        My biggest problem with the thirteen, if you split this up, is that they teased the viewer with the “clean up our mess” line at the end of 3 Words, giving the illusion that they would work towards one another. Then in Mask (don’t start throwing things!) they made the first bulk of the show (until that whiplash inducing reversal) make Sarah and Chuck look like friends and partners again, and that they were enojoying it. Not to mention that Shaw looked pretty darn incompetent.
        I think it comes down to the fact that they didn’t script the arc well and it shows!

      • atcdave says:

        I think it comes down to, they went places they never should have gone. No amount of great writing or acting would have made any fan with even a little ‘shipper in them happy with another round of LIs. There was no way (I mean it, no stinken’ way) to make LI’s work after Colonel.
        I never mean to say Chuck and Sarah didn’t still need to grow, but I utterly reject the idea that growth had to accomplished apart. And I also don’t mean to say they couldn’t have found another way to screw things up, or even that there weren’t other things wrong with the S3 we got. But I firmly believe if they had done the story without extra LIs, we would have finished with at least a million more viewers than we did. As I’ve said before, of the four households I know of that skipped episodes or stopped watching entirely, EVERY ONE OF THEM mentioned the relationship malfunction as a reason.

        I know I’m getting repetitive here, its just that no matter how much we analyze the season I want to be sure to remember the core issue.
        Sorry Amy, for the record I do agree the misdirection that made it look like they might work through things only made it worse. But two of the four viewers I know who quit were already gone (done at 3.01).

  2. joe says:

    Dave, did I jump the gun and put this up before you had a chance to get in your say? Apologies! The penalty check (1000 Costa Graven Pesos) is in the mails.

    • atcdave says:

      Yeah you did, and good thing I’ve already got those 14 cents spent! I fixed the title free of charge (you had called it Honeymooners again!)

      I’d tried to add my bit in the afternoon but I got some message that Ernie was editing; when I checked back in that evening it was posted.

      • joe says:

        Thankies for correct my ‘tic’.

        Retroactive AAAARRRRRGGGGG!!!!!

        (I almost walked over Amy’s edits too! I’m glad I noticed that message!)

  3. sd says:

    What I liked about this episode is that both characters played “to type” and “against type.”

    For example, we expect Chuck to be sweet…how much he wanted to impress the Turner’s…how excited he was at this opportunity. And we expect the more spy-worldly Sarah to be instantly skeptical.

    At various points in Role Models…those roles flipped…and of course, the ending with Sarah moving in. Given what we got in S3, I was skeptical about that kind of sweet ending

    • joe says:

      I never noticed that before, SD, and your absolutely right. I think maybe subconsciously I was seeing that C & S were converging towards each other. Their strengths were rubbing off on each other in a good way.

      But I never put my finger on it like that. Good catch!

  4. Merve says:

    Ernie, it’s interesting that you mention deleted scenes. I’m glad that the bouquet scene from “Ring” was excised for the reason you mentioned – it just didn’t fit. The date scene from “Break Up” is a little different. Not only would including it have had the effects that you mentioned, but it also would have made Chuck seem like a total idiot for freaking out at Von Hayes’ party. As cute as the date scene was, I’m glad that it didn’t make the final cut.

    Then there are other deleted scenes, like the one from “Suburbs,” where Chuck walks out on Sarah at the Orange Orange, that I think should have been left in. If that scene had made the final cut, then Chuck’s words to Big Mike about relationships founded on lies would have made more sense, and – I’m about to open up a can of worms here – we might not be complaining so much about there being no precedent for Chuck walking away from Sarah in Prague.

    Now, to end this comment in the most anticlimactic way possible, I think that the bathtub scene was deleted from “Role Models” simply because the network censors thought that it would be too raunchy for 8 PM.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Entirely possible Merve, but we may never know unless we see it on the DVD. Other than the bathtub scene there are elements I’ve noted and we’ve talked about that hint at a change in the episode. The most notable is that like the OO seems to just not be there anymore Morgan as a roommate just isn’t there after Role Models, to the point where Chuck needs to call him first thing in the morning to meet him at the BuyMore. We’ve also talked about how frustrated Morgan seems over a single Sarah encounter and Chuck’s smile, and how Chuck seems to deliver Sarah moving in as an ultimatum. As I fully admit, I could be reaching, but the fact that Morgan is a roommate seems glossed over in this whole decision. Notice when Sarah accepts the offer Morgan just sort of slips away from the conversation. True, it could be time, or in the case of the bathtub censors, but there seems a lot of space for conflict that just gets glossed over in this episode to maintain a light tone.

      • Merve says:

        That makes sense, Ernie. I think that there would need to be more than a couple of deleted scenes to initiate and resolve a roommate conflict, but if I recall correctly, the leaked shooting schedule didn’t include that many scenes. So, it’s possible that there was entire subplot that got axed.

        Then again, the bathtub scene might have been deleted because it just didn’t fit. It might have indicated the start of a roommate conflict, and realizing that the episode didn’t resolve that conflict, TPTB opted for something else.

      • AngelTwo says:

        More likely the bathtub scene was never filmed for Role Models. It was rewritten into the orange juice/jugs scene. There was never any Midwest street scene, either.

        We all should probably remember that the stuff was “leaked” in a panic after the Mask. The shooting stuff for 15 was probably based on a first draft. The street thing was replaced by the Hart-to-Hart parody and the bathtub gave way to Morgan and Sarah in the kitchen. Weirdly, that is less provocative, but lets TPTB show more skin. After all, they have to cover up in the bath with bubbles. The kitchen scene, from Strahovski’s costume point of view, was fairly raunchy and more “showy” than a bathtub.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        A2, I agree that is a possibility (that it was re-written before it was shot). When I say deleted scene I guess I should allow for that possibility. Good catch on the midwestern street. I agree the OJ incident was a bathtub replacement, essentially showing a similar, but from Sarah’s POV less extreme discomfort with Morgan.

      • AngelTwo says:

        You know, Ernie, it just struck me: They COULD have gone for a rerun of the Chuck walks in on Awesome and Ellie scene rather than the bathtub or the OJ/jugs thing. Morgan could have gotten up after the Hart-to-Hart dream, walked into the bathroom and found Chuck and Sarah in the shower…

        Wonder why they didn’t go for that callback…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        A2, Because Sarah Walker isn’t Ellie. Morgan wouldn’t have lived long enough to be tiger bait! 😉

      • 904 says:

        Of course, that could have also worked as a callback to the other time Sarah and Chuck took a shower together.

        However, I liked how the OJ scene worked. It was understated and a natural situation for someone who has lived alone for a long time.

        Plus, it gave us some of the Sarah/Morgan interplay without Chuck’s influence that we keep asking for.

      • AngelTwo says:

        Opening scene of S4E1: Sarah repairing the roof of the Bartowski family home by THROWING roofing nails into the shingles… 🙂

  5. SWnerd says:

    I’m always surprised when people say they don’t like this episode. I thought it was great. It makes my top 5 of the season. It was light and fun. Of course like everyone else has said, I don’t want every week to be like that but it’s nice to have these kind of episodes every now and then.

    And there were some good laugh out loud moments. Mrs. Turner’s drunken slur and then falling, Sarah’s girlish yelp (which I’m not sure we’ve ever heard before), and Morgan’s semper fiddizle. And Chuck and Sarah’s bickering, I actually found quite comical and adorable.

    I’m not sure about whether or not the bathtub scene was deleted from the final cut or possibly completely deleted and changed to the frig scene that we saw. I’m curious but not bothered either way.

    I have to admit, I never really even thought about Chuck not asking Morgan if Sarah could move in. I guess I just didn’t think it was that big of deal. Morgan’s always been supportive of their relationship, plus another person means cheaper rent. On a Buy More salary, that has to be a good thing.

    • atcdave says:

      I agree SWNerd about this being one of the top five of the season; of course that may say more about what I thought of the main arc than the quality of this episode. I’d even go so far as to say my top 5 are all among the last 7 of the season!

      • SWnerd says:

        My Season 3 top 5 are definitely from the last 7. Oh wait my top 7 are from the last 7. Hm…;)

      • jason says:

        yep – sorry haters

      • atcdave says:

        Ahh, I see swnerd has devined my meaning exactly!

      • aardvark7734 says:

        SWNerd, funny. 🙂

        I agree with you guys, last seven for ‘teh win’.

        But…

        I must also admit a lingering fondness for ‘Nacho Sampler’. What? Huh!?

        See, that episode has some poignant moments with a capital ‘P’, and I have a soft spot in my heart for those. In particular, the flashbacks to the pilot, which might have tarnished those scenes for some, just gave them more depth and resonance for me.

        “Piece of cake.” Ahhh.

        And the Manoosh seduction scenes still make me, er… smile, even now. (cough)

        But it’s biggest silent boost is that it’s almost completely devoid of a certain parasitic energy drain that (for me) poisoned other, potentially awesome episodes.

        So, all other considerations aside, it has an innate, unfair advantage. 😉

  6. ChuckNewbie8 says:

    Swoosie Kurtz FTW. Enough said lol.

  7. Ernie Davis says:

    Since I went on so long in the main body about the tone and balance I think they lightened this one up to try to achieve I held my comments on how I liked the episode and thought they achieved that balance. Now you’re in for it. But first how another deleted scene plays into the opening. How is it that Morgan’s dream is all about Chuck and Sarah’s missions, missions that he would know nothing about? It was more or less explained in Tic Tac.

    Chuck: If you give me that case right now, I promise that later I will answer all questions that you have about any of my missions.

    Morgan: In sordid detail?

    Chuck: Promise. You’re making the right choice, ok, you’re making the right choice.

    We can assume, I suppose, that the payoff happens offscreen. But perhaps in another attempt to achieve the right tone there was another scene cut from the end of Tic Tac where Morgan comes to Chuck to make good on his promise (complete with notepad). It turns out (from the descriptions I’ve heard) that all Chuck remembers about the missions and all he wants to talk about is Sarah.

    Sarah and Morgan’s relationship is still sort of unresolved. They were friendly-ish when Chuck was cover dating, but even then Morgan seemed to resent Sarah stealing Chuck. He basically got over it when he was ready to move on with Anna, and then in S3 seemed to come to dislike Sarah as she seemed to be stringing Chuck along by constantly coming into the Buy More to talk to him. Morgan of course didn’t know the reason. After Morgan found out the truth it isn’t clear where he stood on Sarah, since she was basically with Shaw. Yes, he helped Chuck win her back, but he didn’t seem to have much faith that Sarah wouldn’t go for the superficial stallion over the man of substance and charm who loved her. Even in Honeymooners, when he knows Chuck and Sarah are both in love Morgan and Sarah never exchange more than a handshake. So Role Models is really our first look at how Sarah and Morgan both fit into Chuck’s life.

    The honeymoon is over, sort of. According to the Ellie and Devon timeline Chuck and Sarah have been back a bit over two weeks (“Ellie: I’ve seen more patients in the last two weeks…”) but Sarah is still apparently breaking out the lingerie, at least occasionally, instead of opting for Chuck’s boxers and a tank top. And Morgan has made some painful concessions, thank god. Still I don’t see much more than civility and polite pleasantries on Sarah’s part, and a combination of fear and anxiety, and frustration, on Morgan’s part. But Morgan’s dream, to me, was possibly some anxiety about where he fir into Chuck’s new life. Is he to be nothing but a personal valet to the sexy spy couple?. I think this is actually carried over to the B story very well as Casey attempts to train Morgan (Beckman’s revenge). And while I’m thinking of it, we were touching on the Hero’s Journey in another thread, look at Morgan in the back 6. Cobra comes into his own.

    So, back to the story. The Honeymoon is over and now the work starts, making it work in the world. All those little things that could be overlooked when it was just the two of them in a train compartment, like roommates, late night snack attire and weapons caches, start coming up. As Joe mentioned the issues are there and need to be discussed, but you don’t get the sense of former seasons where Sarah would have kicked the puppy to get some emotional distance and Chuck would have either sulked or chased the nearest petite brunette he could find. This time, mostly due to a more emotionally mature Sarah, but also a more confident Chuck, we do have a far more hopeful and less angst vibe. It actually does play a lot funnier. One thing from previous seasons does remain true for our heroes. They’re both happy, so for Chuck that means full steam ahead to the next level and to Sarah that means cling tenaciously to the status quo. OK, so they’re a work in progress.

    Since Joe has covered most of this so well I just wanted to touch on a few of the interesting things I saw. The Turners were Cold War spies, obviously enamored of the high living and glitz of the salad days. Were they more of a Bryce and Sarah that just managed to stick it out? Chuck and Sarah are almost the opposite. They’d practically given up on spying to be a couple, and seem to have decided, as Sarah implies with the something to fall back on comment, they’ll be in it as long as it doesn’t intrude on their “real” lives. Who were the role models again?

    If Beckman ever starts to call Chuck and Sarah true professionals or the best the CIA has, look out.

    Yes, Sarah let out a girlish scream. Chuck was ready to turn the Turners over and Sarah was the moral anchor of the two. In addition they both listened to each other. Chuck wished they had that weapons cache, Sarah followed the Bartowski rule. Now if they can just talk about it first! But overall they’ve been good for each other and, especially with Sarah, seem to have accepted their own and each other’s quirks and strengths as something endearing.

    So what did happen with Morgan?

    • atcdave says:

      Typical great comments Ernie. I think we went 7 episodes with no real “kick the puppy” moments (maybe “why would we do that”, but it was resolved so quickly, and Chuck handled it like an adult, strange huh). It does seem Sarah has changed the most here; I guess that should be no surprise, if Sarah Walker decides she’s going to be good at relationships….

      Morgan’s growth is striking. I remember saying in S1 Morgan would never know Chuck’s secret, because even if Chuck told him point blank, Morgan would just node is head and pay no attention. But he grew almost right from the start of this season; I think Lester summed it up well when talking to Anna. I love how is still hopelessly inept as a real spy, yet he’s been useful on multiple occasions. I really never used to like Morgan much, but that has officially changed.

      • joe says:

        if Sarah Walker decides she’s going to be good at relationships….

        Really! You just handed me an insight, Dave. I’ve been kicking around the idea – mostly unsuccessfully, I think – that Sarah only “acquiesced” to Shaw because he was her type and temporary. That also makes her emotionally immature in the middle of S3, which is perhaps something that we don’t want to accept. That’s understandable, too.

        But like you say, she’s decided she’s going to be good at relationships. That’s actually quite a mature thing to do. When I think back on almost every scene in the last 6 where some sort of difficulty or conflict appeared with Chuck, Sarah came through quickly. In fact, “surprisingly quickly” is the correct term, because I know I was surprised. She’s *working* at it.

      • atcdave says:

        The funny thing is Joe, that used to be the only thing she wasn’t good at! Is there now, officially, nothing she isn’t good at? Just wondering.

      • joe says:

        Well, despite the soufflé in Helicopter and the omelet in Suburbs, Sarah’s cooking may be suspect. After all, the CIA may have made that soufflé. 😉

        And we still don’t know if does more than just tolerate a good game on the Nintendo.

        Other than that…

    • amyabn says:

      I like both yours and Daves comments. I think Sarah has grown tremendously, perhaps more so than Chuck. What struck me the most is her reaction in Subway when she decided to stick it out and not leave Chuck. She has set her course and it is all about her future with Chuck.
      I also liked her reaction to Chuck quitting the spy game in Ring 2. Chuck’s choice didn’t work for me as we had just had him explaining to his dad why he chose to be a spy and re-intersect, but Sarah is clearly happy when Chuck is happy. Her speech in Honeymoon echoes that too. She told him she didn’t want him choosing her over something he wants. Truly unselfish and adult behavior. Will Sarah still try to hold the status quo? I think we’ll see less and less of that, although I’m sure it will rear up every now and again. At least they’re talking!

    • herder says:

      I think that one of the reasons that I like the back six and this episode particularly is that Sarah matters again. In the first thirteen it is never about why she does what she does, it is all about how what she does affects Chuck. That is the reason why it is never explained why she goes with Shaw, because as the story is told it doesn’t matter all we are told is that she has a type. What is important to the story as told is the effect her being with Shaw has on Chuck.

      I’m going to disagree with Ernie and say that Sarah has no journey in the first thirteen. Chuck decides to be a spy and deals with the reality of that decision, the lying to friends and family, the impossibility of a relationship with Hannah, the distancing of himself from Morgan, the having to kill and above all else losing Sarah. He comes through the otherside having passed some tests, failed others and realizes that it means nothing if he doesn’t have Sarah.

      Sarah, on the other hand learns nothing, except maybe that she should have a bit more faith in Chuck. Think about her decision to be with Chuck, regardless of whether she was going with him at the end of American Hero or at the beginning of Other Guy, what lesson as a result of what she did or didn’t do in the first thirteen caused her to make the choice of Chuck? What lesson did she learn as a result of her relationship with Shaw? Check to see if in the past you may have killed your date’s wife by mistake? It is as if her development was put on pause to create angsty bits that cause Chuck to act and develop.

      She was given the stupid stick for the whole season, in season one she chose Chuck over Bryce, duty and a possible future over her past. In season two, Cole became a real threat not for the cheesy come ons but because of the recognition that she had spent so much time looking after someone else she was ignoring herself and that she was someone who really needed a vacation (that and the bit that it’s special when you find someone you really care about). Again she was choosing something real with Chuck over the more superficial type of relationship she might have had in the past, but at least we could understand the dilemma and the choice.

      Then in the first thirteen she goes with the guy who uses the “my desert is in your desert”, it is as if she fell for Cole’s butter her muffin line. She is with Shaw because he wants her to be with him. She leaves Shaw not because he is wrong for her but because the Sarah of season one and two shows up briefly and she takes a chance.

      Finally, starting with Honeymooners she starts to think about what she wants, “as much as I want to be a spy I want Chuck more”. In Role Models after explaining that no one taught her about leading a normal life she again choses what she wants, “it’ll give us something to fall back on when our spy life is over”. In the Tooth she says that it is important to her that Chuck is OK. Finally in the back six she starts to express what she wants and acts on it. The character that we had lost for the first 13 has returned.

      • joe says:

        I’m going to meekly suggest that there was a journey there, Herder. – meekly ’cause I’m obviously not fully convinced myself. I keep coming back to the one scene in The Fake Name that haunts me – when Rafe is holding the gun to her head and she begins to move.

        That’s some sort of low point. If Sarah appears to have gotten no where for most of those 13 episodes, it still seems like it’s been a long climb out of a hole to me. I’m confused about what she’s thinking and feeling for most of it, but then again, so is Sarah. AND she isn’t good at talking about her feelings. Maybe it was less than excellent storytelling, but maybe confused is the only way for me to be.

        You’re absolutely right that after 12 episodes she’s no better off than at the end of The Ring, and she may not have evolved at all (except to get back what she once had). But I gotta say that I was fascinated by it.

        And frustrated…

      • jason says:

        joe – ‘what can I say, I have a type’ – what if indeed she was telling the truth, what if her type indeed, for all of her protesting was not tall dark and sweet, instead was her terrorist lover in 3.1, or cole, bryce, shaw, even rafe – which is why he got under her skin?, etc, etc handsome, debonair, cold blooded killers – it is not a pleasant thought, but she did have an eye for that sort of guy in season 1 / 2 & by 3.13’s end, she was pot committed, all in, to that strange tall lanky fellow, that would be some pretty big time growth?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m going to disagree Herder. I think there was a Sarah Journey. Dave alluded to it, she decided she was going to have something real. Remember TPTB explicitly stated Sarah had to have a real choice and Shaw was the perfect guy for her in some alternate universe. They clearly intended a journey for her. The fact that it was secondary to Chuck’s, poorly written, confusing, and a disservice to the character doesn’t change that, but I’m not surprised some people conclude she was nothing but a dramatic device for much of the front 13. I myself have stated that it seemed Sarah did little more than say “Don’t take this lightly Chuck” and then pout and throw herself at Shaw when Chuck succeeded or saved everyones bacon.

        Others have concluded that Sarah essentially fills the role of the villain in the front 13. I think that gives her too much credit. She did virtually nothing to either help or impede Chuck other than some advice on occasion once Shaw showed up.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Oh Herder, I forgot to add I think Sarah’s lesson came in American Hero when Shaw, the guy she decided she could have something with (yes, with the stupid stick firmly in hand) because he got her to open up and tell him her name or because he lost someone too basically decided she meant less to him than throwing his life away on some ill conceived easily defeated scheme to get revenge.

        Chuck on the other hand made sure she didn’t throw her life away on a guy like that, and then rescued him for her. Then he basically laid out her choice for her, plain and simple and left it up to her what kind of life she wanted.

      • herder says:

        Ernie, if that is the journey and that is the lesson, and I’m not saying that they aren’t, then I go back to my earlier point that the Sarah character didn’t matter much in the first thirteen except as something for Chuck to react to and against. If the character did matter, then the journey would have been clearer, the lesson less opaque and the character’s motivation and understanding would be, well, understandable.

        Instead we have to search for them as they weren’t important enough to make clear. In the back six they are more clear, more understandable and more up front and that is the reason that I like the back six.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, I don’t think I’d disagree with you there except to add that poor execution could be part of it in addition to not feeling her story was as important as Chuck’s. After all, Shaw was the perfect guy for Sarah and a super spy.

      • herder says:

        Oh and Ernie, please don’t take this as some sort of manner of forcing you to defend the choices of TPTB this season. I realize that you have as many concerns about them as I do, I’m just trying to explain some of my frustrations with those choices.

      • jason says:

        some would say sarah did little or nothing to impede chuck’s progress, I came up with a list of over 20 things sarah did to impede chuck’s spy progress, starting with asking him to run away. Then, rather than mentor his progress, she moves in with a terrorist, that had to not help chuck much. Then, when he showed up to force his way on the team, casey asks sarah what should I do with him, she essentially said throw him out. Finally, she was on her way to say goodbye at the end of 3.1, when trouble arose and forced her to stay, that was just in 3.1 The list steadily grew, I put almost no effort into it, just went off memory, but I would guess the list would be in the 40’s for the 12 episodes. Try to come up with a list of what shaw does to impede chuck’s progress in 3.1 thru 3.12 – some would say?????

      • luckygirl says:

        I think her story is simply about a girl who’s entire existence has revolved around this Chuck shaped space for years. Then suddenly, there’s a hole there after Prague. She at first tries to ignore it but it’s so painful, and it’s not healing by itself. So then she tries to fill it with anything she can get her hands on work, Shaw, it doesn’t matter in her head or her heart she’s just desperately trying to fillthe hole. The problem is nothing is fitting, Chuck himself doesn’t even fit anymore because she thinks he’s changed. So then she decides to run from it and herself but before she gets the chance she gets “The Best News She’s Ever Heard”, Chuck is still “Her Chuck”, and the hole is suddenly gone and so her world is whole again. This time though, knowing what she’s just gone through, she’s a little more assertive and open about her feelings.

        To me her relationship with Shaw was like taking a tylenol for a bullet wound, futile and pointless, but she’s praying it might take even just a little bit of the edge off.

        Sorry if that was rambly.

      • Merve says:

        I think I’ve said this before, but to me, it seemed as if Sarah’s journey this season was about learning how to express and seize what she wanted. She does make some progress over the first eleven episodes; she has actual honest conversations with Chuck in “First Class,” “Nacho Sampler,” and “Tic Tac.” But she doesn’t make any substantial progress until “American Hero” and “Other Guy.” There are two problems with this approach. Firstly, saving most of the progress until the end left her character treading water for 11 episodes. Secondly, a journey about finding out how to express what you want is by default less interesting than a journey about finding out what you want.

        As far as I’m concerned, the Sarah from seasons 1 and 2 never came back. That Sarah was still saying things like, “One mission at a time, Chuck,” as late as “Colonel.” That Sarah is gone for good and has been replaced by Relationship!Sarah – someone who finally speaks her mind honestly and is getting in touch with her humanity. Frankly, Relationship!Sarah is more interesting than Bitchy!Sarah or Pining!Sarah.

      • JC says:

        I just wanted to defend the Sarah as a villain argument. I’m not saying she was one but she became one by default because of lack of real villain.

        The Ring seemed to be solely focused on Shaw during those thirteen. So while Chuck might have dealt with them, it wasn’t his true obstacle. It was Sarah and her emotions.

        Add that to the fact that they never showed Chuck truly going dark IMO. She came off like a woman who got dumped and was bitter. All the “terrible” things she saw Chuck doing, well they were OK when she’s with him. When he does it on his own, that’s a different story.

        The worse thing Chuck did was dump Hannah right after having sex with her. Well if Living Dead told me anything was that Sarah just waited an extra couple days to do that to Shaw. At least Chuck had the guts to tell her it was over, I’ll assume Sarah was going to send a postcard from Mexico.

      • joe says:

        Jason – “by 3.13′s end, she was pot committed, all in, to that strange tall lanky fellow, that would be some pretty big time growth?”

        Precisely. That’s growth to me.
        But at the same time, Herder has a point that this is also where she was at the end of Colonel or perhaps in The Ring when she shakes her head “no” to Bryce.

        It’s growth, but in a very circuitous route.
        Of course, after Paris, it’s full steam ahead.

      • joe says:

        Luckygirl: “Then suddenly, there’s a hole there after Prague.”

        Hi! I don’t recall seeing your handle here before, LG. Nice to have you join in the discussion.

        And that’s a great point. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but you’ve gone a long way to explain that scene in The Fake Name that haunts me so much.

        Sarah’s trying to fill the hole – Chuck is changed, the job never does that, and Shaw…

        I’d love to think that Shaw was “futile and pointless” for her, like you said. I still almost need to believe that. I don’t know if you read what I wrote back then, but I really had a bad time with their date in Am. Hero. Sarah just seem so – comfortable.

        As a woman, LG, please tell me. What was she thinking?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, I don’t think I came off as defending TPTB, but if I did add a modicum of snark to the defense I made.

        I think I come down sort of with Herder and ATCDave that there was a Sarah journey, she decided at some point to be good at relationships or that she could have something with someone even though she blew it with Chuck (or misjudged him, or whatever). She just picked the wrong guy.

      • luckygirl says:

        Joe, the way I’ve always took that date in American Hero was that Sarah had finally thrown in the towel in regards to Chuck. From Pink Slip to Final Exam it was like she was caught in a push pull game of “Do you believe me or your own eyes”, where Chuck’s words would tell her one thing but Chuck’s actions seemed to be saying something completely different. She would get almost sucked in and then promptly smacked in the face. The final straw being Chuck’s red test. At the beginning of that episode through to when she gives him that gun, I’ve always felt she was just waiting for him to shake himself out of whatever stupor she thought he was in and ask her to get them the heck out of there. The way she said “Back to your normal life”, seemed seemed almost pleading to me, but the hope she’d been clinging to, the hope that kept pulling her back in died at the end of that episode. Sarah’s Chuck died with that hope and so does Chuck’s Sarah. At the beginning of American Hero she’s throwing up every obstacle she can think of (Shaw, work, D.C.)to keep from getting sucked in by this person who looks like Chuck but isn’t, he’s a constant reminder of pain, lose, and guilt. She even tries to reinvent herself again, she tries to be Shaw’s Sam but even on that date she waivers when she asks for the explanation from Chuck. Its important to remember that Sarah can act comfortable anywhere at anytime but in her most real, most herself moments with Chuck she’s softspoken, girly, almost shy at times in her mannerisms. I’mnot saying she’s not comfortable with Chuck because she is, but its tempered by flusters and tingles and all that girlish stuff. Her interactions with Chuck have always seemed special to me because she’s just a girl who loves a guy, not somebody’s armcandy, seductress or plaything.

        Sorry that was so long. I hope at least some of it was coherent.

      • luckygirl says:

        It’s also important to remember in Subway Shaw said it himself that Sarah was “unemotional” or something to that effect so whatever they had was not about connecting but merely existing in their own seperate pain.

      • atcdave says:

        Those are really some excellent observations LuckyGirl; I especially like the comment of how Sarah acts around Chuck, that is different from any other part of her life. I don’t think I’ll every get how she could throw herself at the man who did more to ruin “Sarah’s Chuck” than any other person, but in the end she realized she was wrong so I suppose it hardly matters. Ridding myself of the aftertaste of this season will be a challenge.

      • luckygirl says:

        atcdave, to me I don’t think she blamed Shaw for changing Chuck because she A)blamed herself B)Chuck wanteds to be a spy and C) she also knew that the tasks he was given were simply an inevitability if he was going to be a spy. There was a personal/professional disconnect. If it wasn’t Shaw it was going to be Beckman or somebody else because the intersect was supposed to be autonomous (what happened to that?). Did he push him faster yes but some pushing was going to have to be done to make him what the government needed him to be.

      • Paul says:

        luckygirl – Great insight! Your explanation pretty much sums up my view of Sarah in the first part of S3.

      • jason says:

        one thing about sarah and the colonel or the wedding or prague – she picked Chuck indeed, but not quite so sure she was ‘all in’, most of season 1 / 2, when she picked Chuck, she was struggling vs ‘something inside’ as well as the more obvious things, like bryce or cole, if the colonel was all in, bryce would not have affected her at the wedding, if the wedding would have been all in, then she would not have hesistated toward bryce’s offer, it prague were all in, she would not have run off when things didn’t go her way, what I saw after Paris, was something quite different, when stuff happened which may have caused angst, sarah post paris, just powered right thru it, I guess something clicks when the wrong love gets you paralyzed, betrayed, and ready to be thrown over a bridge, with no hope for rescue or escape, until the geeky, lanky fellow disobeys orders and shows up in the nick of time

    • joe says:

      Zounds. How could I possibly add to this, Ernie? Great stuff.

      You have me thinking about anchors. We have a few kinds here. Sarah’s the emotional anchor, Chuck is the moral anchor, and both of them are stepping up to help the other. Indeed, it’s Chuck is the one who demands the Turners stop bickering, and Sarah is the one who asks Chuck if he really wants to descend to their level.

      Ooohhhh that’s satisfying.

  8. OldDarth says:

    Most forgettable episode of the season. And the series. So bland. And the Turners even more so.

    The gun and the moving in issues turned out to be non-issues. Sigh. Too bad.

    This one jumped the tiger.

    • AngelTwo says:

      Most forgettable comment in the thread.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Well, it did at least answer that question Merve had for me earlier. 🙂

      • OldDarth says:

        Happy to oblige Aardie.

        The Chuck and Sarah interactions were fun. The Turners and the tiger stuff was dull. It is the lack of a hook due to the absence of any real issues that make this episode disposable from my vantage point.

        Many enjoyed it and that is great. It demonstrates the broad range of the show and the fan base that watches.

      • Merve says:

        What question?

      • aardvark7734 says:

        @Merve:

        Well, thinking back on it now, it wasn’t as much a question as it was an ambiguous reference. I was making a point that some reviews of ‘Role Models’ had seemed patronizing and dismissive to me.

        OD just produced a fine example of one, as A2’s emotional reaction to it amply demonstrates.

        Heck, OD probably said exactly how he feels, damn the torpedoes. There’s something to be said about being unafraid to do that. But on the other hand, this is a social medium, and some consideration for other sensibilities is a common courtesy.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        @OD:

        It makes perfect sense to me why you think this episode is weak. As you said before, the Chuck-Sarah relationship is like the 5th thing you look for.

        I’d probably feel exactly the same way if the ‘A’ story was all about Jeffster.

        See, I didn’t find the tiger part dull at all, because it set up a humorous context in which to have the Chuck & Sarah trapped in the closet scene. Everything is about their interaction in response to the tiger. You either enjoyed that or you didn’t.

        What I see is you looking for “real issues” in all of the lattice work surrounding the real ‘A’ story, which is Chuck & Sarah rapidly figuring out their post-honeymoon, home and work relationship. Of course you’re not going to find any serious drama elsewhere – the episode’s purpose didn’t require it.

        I think it’s completely valid that you find other elements of the show appealing. The only thing I’m not fond of is the, IMHO, absolutist declarations that you use to make your points. I just think they irritate people unnecessarily.

      • OldDarth says:

        Aardie, this is an opinion thread. Do I have to preface every post with a IMHO?

        Stating my opinion in no way discounts anyone else’s. I take no offense with other’s views. Big believer in the IDIC philosophy. And this is all subjective, correct? No one is right or wrong.

        I reserve the right to believe my opinion is the correct one. 🙂

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Ah HAH! 😀

        If “it’s all subjective” and “no one is right or wrong”, as you say, then logic dictates your opinion cannot be the “correct” one, since there is no correct one.

        IDIC indeed. Harumph. That kind of faulty logic would get you held back a grade on Vulcan! 😉

      • Merve says:

        @OldDarth: I’m inclined to agree with you that this episode was one of the most unsubstantial of the series. It could easily be summarized as: “Chuck and Sarah solidify their relationship and agree to move in together while Morgan and Casey acknowledge their friendship…oh yeah, there’s a Ring guy in Africa too.” I like my Chuck a little meatier.

        That being said, substance and enjoyability are related, but aren’t the same thing. Every single episode of the front 13 had more substance, but I found about six of them less enjoyable than “Role Models.” (Funnily enough, all of my favourite episodes from this season, except the finale, come from the front 13 as well. That goes to show you what a crazy roller coaster ride that front 13 was.)

        I’m okay with Chuck putting out an episode like this every once in a while, but if it starts putting out episodes like this week after week, I’ll flush it down the toilet.

        @aardvark: I think I might be picking at old wounds here, but the kind of comments that you described are exactly the kind of comments that bothered me during the first 13 – “retcon,” “not worthy of analysis,” “pointless,” etc.

        Hopefully we’re past that now. 🙂

      • jason says:

        merve – my worst episodes of the entire show were the first 12 of season 3. It seems unfair that those of you who don’t like chuck and sarah, can equate “meaty” with dark, ugly, and no fun, while ‘fluff’ with warm and fun – I think 3.15 contributed a great deal to the plot I watch the show for, while the front 12 simply lost my show viewers – nothing against your type or the opinions of such, but just cause you say it does not make it true.

      • Merve says:

        Jason, I never claimed not to like Chuck and Sarah or not to like the idea of coupling Chuck and Sarah. I just think that the show is built on stronger foundations than a single romantic relationship. Chuck isn’t Bones.

      • OldDarth says:

        ‘If “it’s all subjective” and “no one is right or wrong”, as you say, then logic dictates your opinion cannot be the “correct” one, since there is no correct one.’

        Which is what I stated. However each of us feels are opinion is more correct than another’s. That may not be logical but it is most human.

      • OldDarth says:

        Grrr! Darn a lack of edit capability – that last comment should read:

        However each of us feels OUR opinion is more correct than another’s. That may not be logical but it is most human.

    • joe says:

      I can agree with that, Lou. Except for the Turners being bland. I sorta like Kurtz and Willard.

      But like I said, my psyche was in need of that non-issue, non-hook story. Sort of like Wookie and Tom Sawyer. 😉

      Well, one hook. Justin was introduced with that “ring” music.

      • OldDarth says:

        I love me some Willard! Just found the Turners pretty dull. It sounded great on paper but the execution came across as pedestrian to me.

        Again, not begrudging anyone their enjoyment of the episode. If you feel TPTB served up the prescription you needed that is most excellent.

  9. OldDarth says:

    Correction. Second most forgettable.

  10. JC says:

    Probably not the best place to put this but since this post seems to be getting the most traffic.

    Ausiello is saying the first episode of S4 is called Chuck vs. the Anniversary.

    Mother’s Day flashback?

    • OldDarth says:

      A safe bet.

    • joe says:

      Chuck & Ellie’s Mother’s Day? With Sarah involved this time?

      That would be excellent!

    • herder says:

      Or maybe Chuck and Sarah celebrate as their aniversary the day she walked into the Buy More thinking “this will be a piece of cake”, which coincidentally is also the day he got the intersect downloaded into his head.

      • atcdave says:

        That’s what I was thinking. I doubt Chuck will want to celebrate “Intersect Day”; but it should air pretty close to the three year anniversery of when Chuck and Sarah met.

      • Paul says:

        Although it may be a risky move right now considering there are only 13 gauranteed eps, what are the odds that they use Anniversary and it’s pretext of Chuck and Sarah reminiscing about their wild and hairy journey as a semi- “clip episode” (that was discussed here last month) to get newbies to the series caught up on the story, while setting up the rest of the seaon.

      • sd says:

        Since Chuck loves to make its titles have more than one meaning…I think it will be a Sarah-Chuck and Mama Bartowski-Ellie/Chuck Anniversary theme.

        I’m never sure if Chuck follows dates/times closely–if that makes sense. It does with T’giving and Christmas of course…so perhaps if we are led to believe no time has lapsed it will be Awesome and Ellie wedding anniversary?

      • atcdave says:

        The first two seasons did follow the calender as they went, S3 not so much. But I do love holidays and holiday episodes, so I’m hoping for both real holidays and “Chuck” holidays to be a part of S4.

        I’m not so sure about the “clip show” thing though. I would be grumpy if they did one as part of our 13, maybe if they add one to the order just for that purpose it would be fine (that is a fairly normal origin for such things, depending on who’s involved they may cost 1/3 of what a real episode does.)

      • amyabn says:

        Maybe they’ll jump my proposed timeline and have the anniversary of their meeting, followed with an engagement. It could make sense considering Ellie and Devon got engaged at the end of S1, got married at the end of S2. We have C&S together, albeit not engaged, at the end of S3, and if they want to mirror a wedding at the end of S4, it would makes sense to reset everyone’s relationships/jobs/homes right at the start.

      • OldDarth says:

        Not related to the 4.01 spoiler but it is about time some birthdays were dealt with in the show.

    • Merve says:

      “Anniversary” could refer to a number of things:
      – the anniversary of when Chuck and Sarah met
      – the anniversary of the Intersect download
      – Chuck’s birthday

      Other things to which it might refer but for which for which the timeline would be wonky:
      – Devon and Ellie’s wedding anniversary
      – Mother’s Day
      – the anniversary of Chuck’s official graduation from Stanford
      – the anniversary of Chuck’s first real mission

      Other things to which it might refer but for which there is no evidence:
      – Stephen and Mary’s wedding anniversary
      – a wedding anniversary party for some bad guy couple that our heroes have to crash for the sake of a mission
      – the anniversary of Casey and Kathleen’s engagement

      Of course, since TPTB love double meanings, “anniversary” could refer to any number of these things, as well as many things that I haven’t thought of.

      • JC says:

        Didn’t Chuck and Ellie celebrate Mother’s Day on the day she left not the actual holiday? Its been awhile since I watched S1 so my memory might be fuzzy.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah JC, their’s is in October.

      • sd says:

        Speaking of birthdays…the only thing we know about Sarah’s birthday is that it doesn’t fall on the day Chuck gave her the dress for her reunion.

        I know Chuck told Sarah her past doesn’t matter to him…but when is he/we going to get some more details about stuff like birthdays, etc.

        I think in an interview, YS was coy about what if any plans TPTB had about her mom…she said maybe in S4.

      • jason says:

        good news is, 4.01 is likely to be ‘family’ oriented, given the anniversay title & fedak’s hint that season 4 is about family. I suspect the title will have a couple of meanings, Mama B maybe, something CS, probably something else too?

  11. luckygirl says:

    JC – “Add that to the fact that they never showed Chuck truly going dark IMO. She came off like a woman who got dumped and was bitter. All the “terrible” things she saw Chuck doing, well they were OK when she’s with him. When he does it on his own, that’s a different story.”

    I truly think she thought those things were going to change him. Was she mad and bitter? Probably. I just don’t think that negates her real fears and doesn’t change what she was seeing with her own eyes at the time. Chuck himself didn’t like some of the things he was doing it took a shockto his system to pull him back (Sam). And I’ve never thought the red test and shooting Shaw were remotely the same. Self defense/defense of others and being a hitman on behalf of the government is apples and oranges to me. If he had gone through with it I wouldn’t have loved Chuck (the show) anymore either because Chuck the person would have been fundamentally changed from the character I loved.

    • JC says:

      I agree with you that’s what we were supposed to see but what I saw Chuck do on screen didn’t match up to the fear she had. The same goes for Ellie and Morgan’s reaction to him.

      Like with a lot of things this season, I was being told things not shown them. And when they did show, the characters had an out. The Red Test in my eyes is perfect example. Chuck should have shot Perry not because of orders but the fact that he would’ve killed Chuck. Giving Perry a gun was the out, they didn’t have the guts to show Chuck even thinking about killing a guy in cold blood.

      And honestly my comment wasn’t intended as a criticism of her character but one of reasons why people could consider her the “villain” during the first thirteen.

      • Merve says:

        I think I’m splitting hairs here, but I think that purpose of giving Perry the gun was to justify Casey’s actions. Giving Chuck an out was an unintended consequence.

      • lucian says:

        IMO the red test/final exam was just bad storytelling – so much of it based on misunderstandings, misperceptions…. They needed to beat the CRM drum one last time before the big climax.

      • atcdave says:

        Amen to that Lucian. It was a carefully constructed house of cards that collapsed under any scrutiny. Any examination of the crime scene would have revealed he was armed, which would seem to invalidate all of Sarah’s fears, whoever fired the shot.

      • Merve says:

        Not to mention that none of that mess would have happened if Chuck hadn’t committed the foolish error of letting Perry trick him into easing up on the gun.

  12. jason says:

    the key to 14 & 15, was that the groundrules and framework for season 4 needed to be transitioned into, such that CS as a team can participate in each A plot, without the Chuck and Sarah story being the A plot, near the opposite was the case 3.1 thru 3.13, CS were the A plot, but the did not participate in the plots as a team.

    I thought the 16, 17, 18, and 19 did this reasonably well. Ernie mentioned waiting for the angst bomb to drop, if it had, CS would have overpowered the ‘other’ plot, when it did not interrupt, the plot and hence the entire viewership won. If there are to be episodes after 4.13, the creative team needs to perfect this ‘new’ formula for season 4, if 16 thru 19 are any indication, they just might pull it off.

    The role models was not just about the turners, it was about the model for how this new proactive couple needs to handle stuff going forward. We’ll see how prophetic I am, time will tell?

    • andyt says:

      Agreed Jason. I think 14-19 almost can be considered 4.1 in many ways. This is why I also believe that many need not worry that Chuck keeps Orion’s secrets from Sarah. In fact, I see them working from the beginning as a team.(whether with Beckman’s knowledge or not, though I lean toward her knowledge and approval). The angst will come from a Chuck/Ellie conflict over his continued spy career and his search for mom.

      • atcdave says:

        I suspect and hope you’re right Andy. Actually more than suspect, I’d say about 90% sure that’s how they play it. That other 10% is just from my bitter disappointment with S3.0, they really damaged a lot of the confidence I had built up over the first two seasons. But like I said: 90% sure Chuck and Sarah are the team from here on out, secrets and sneaking will mainly involve Ellie.

      • sd says:

        I hope you’re correct, Andy…like Dave..after most of S3…I will keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

      • andyt says:

        Dave and SD, I think most of your angst about Chuck and Sarah can be laid to rest. Oh, they will have fights and disagreements, every couple does. However, the key point is that they are a couple now and that I strongly believe is not going to change. In fact that was the point of the first thirteen episodes. It was to bring them together as a couple.

        As I said, I believe that the story set up for season 4 is about family; specifically the Bartowski family and its relationship to the spy world. The one member who has the least connection is Ellie, and she is clearly the one most appalled by it. Interestingly, Chuck seems to be fulfilling his destiny by following in Dad’s and Mom’s footsteps. In many ways, he is becoming Luke Skywalker, and you know how much the creator love to mine geek culture. What is Mom is Darth Vader in this scenario? Just a thought.

      • herder says:

        I sort of see the season opening with Chuck working at his new job, perhaps dealing with Morgan and his sister then buying flowers for Sarah. He shows up at home gives her them as an aniversary present then they move on to the real spy life that they lead, with Casey coming in, perhaps to interupt the domestic scene to lay out the spy situation.

      • atcdave says:

        My thoughts on the angst are mainly based on past performance; I do agree we are most likely done with the past variety, I’m just not 100% sure of that.

      • jason says:

        my ideal opening scene would be orion’s will be opened, in it chuck gets the house, ellie gets a video, another ‘take care of chuck’ message, this time complete with schematics, formula’s, intersect theory, etc. at this point, only ellie and chuck know, my ideal would be chuck is handwringing about telling sarah, and ellie steps in and says we’re telling her NOW – seems like chuck needs that everyonce in a while – the twist I think will be for starters, ellie will decide to not tell devon (as she saw how bad he was at keeping secrets), and at least for starters, morgan and casey will be on the outside too – might be that chuck will hire alex in some capacity, which will allow for a great deal of 3D chess to be played at least for a while

      • atcdave says:

        You know Jason, I could see that happening. But I sure do hope Chuck does right by Sarah this time without outside urging.

      • joe says:

        Jason – I really like the idea of Ellie being the one encouraging Chuck to keep Sarah tightly in the loop. It’s very – Ellie.

        And I’m with Andy. I don’t think that secrets are going to be a big problem, but my reasoning is that it’s just not Chuck. Morgan embarrassed him a bit when Chuck told him he hadn’t told Sarah about the dreams.

        So far, the BIG problems that I see hooks for are MEB, of course, and possibly Morgan’s new relationship with Alex (and therefore, the new, fatherly Casey), and that’s about it. I’m sure there’ll be a big problem that we have no clue about coming up in S4, but for 13 episodes, three entwined problems may be enough.

        Of course, I’d still like to see Zombie Bryce and Zombie Stephen (helped by Zombie Perseus?) fighting Zombies Shaw, Vincent and Roark… 😉

  13. sd says:

    Andy—

    I like the Mom as Darth Vadar scenario…very interesting! I have to say, I am not a comic book-mythology-loving fan–but it’s meaning to the creators isn’t lost on me. And as such, I can see how Mom could fit in that frame of reference. While it does happen, moms generally don’t leave their kids….and she did…but for what reasons? I would say, the reasons were nefarious.

    • andyt says:

      SD, thank you. I can see it playing out in two fashions. One is that she works for one the organizations that Orion was fighting, and she is the “big bad” of next season. This would be interesting, since dad turned out to be the good guy. The other scenario, which I think is more likely, is that she was coerced into leaving or left to protect the family. Remember Stephen’s quote to Chuck in the “will video”: “I did it all for her.” He seemed to believe that she left not of her own free will. At least that is the implication. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Also, I am not sure that Ellie will be happy to see Mom the way Chuck probably will be. Here is your “angst”.

    • atcdave says:

      Her reasoning might not have been nefarious, she may have fled or “been removed” to specifically draw heat away from her family. The fact she was wearing her bracelet (a sign perhaps of sentimental and emotional attachment to her family) makes me think she didn’t leave willingly and regrets it (I mean she may have “felt” forced, or actually been forced). Of course, even Darth Vador cared a little about his kid, so the bracelet may prove nothing.

      My main though has always been that mom and dad parallel Chuck and Sarah (scientist/asset and handler). Hopefully, the current generation “gets it right!” That strikes me as a very mythic theme; not quite Stars Wars, maybe more classic Greek.

      • andyt says:

        Dave, you and I are thinking along the same lines there.(Shocking I know) I too have long believed that Mary Elizabeth was Stephen’s handler. Remember Orion’s comments about handler’s and assests in “vs. Predator”, and his knowledge about spy wills in “Living Dead”. Also, you are right on about the children redeeming their parents and cleaning up their mistakes that is the point of Star Wars, and the Chuck creators are certainly huge geeks.

      • Merve says:

        Another possible scenario is that Mary was always a spy and Stephen was a civilian. They met and fell in love in a non-spy setting, and Stephen only found out about Mary’s true occupation once he had gotten involved with her. Something in the spy world caused Mary to leave, and Stephen became a spy for the sole purpose of finding her. This would fit with Stephen saying that he’d “been a spy for the past 20 years” and that he “did it all for her.”

      • andyt says:

        Merve, I think that is unlikely given what we saw in finale. Clearly, she is still with the family in the first flashback and Stephen is working on the Intersect. I think that is how they met through the Intersect project. Also, there have been many hints about Chuck paralleling his father, since Stephen’s introduction. I especially think of the bittersweet reaction that Stephen has to Chuck telling him that he loves Sarah in Ring(part I). I think that is a connection to his own relationship with Mary Elizabeth. Also that fits Dave’s point about the next generation “getting it right”.

      • Merve says:

        It’s entirely possible that CIA learned of the Intersect only after Mary had disappeared.

      • joe says:

        One thing that I have in the back of my mind was that Stephen invented the Intersect (the really cool parts, anyway) for the purpose helping or even finding Mary Elizabeth.

        That’s probably not the way it’s going to play out, though, because of the voices we heard saying that she has to be moved. Were they protecting her – from Chuck, this time?

      • atcdave says:

        Joe, the voices were intriguing. They make me think she is not acting on her own free will. But of course, we have so little real data at this point its hard to be sure.

      • andyt says:

        Joe, I think that Stephen was working on the Intersect for a long time. Remember, he calls it his greatest creation, after Chuck and Ellie of course. In fact, it is probably a combination of his work and Mary Elizabeth’s that caused her to vanish. Imagine getting Ellie to approve of Chuck’s spy life once she finds out that mom is also a spy.

        On a side note, listen to the new Band of Horses album Infinite Arms and the new Gaslight Anthem record American Slang they are fantastic. I love that Chuck has introduced me to this music.

      • joe says:

        Really, Dave! It’s only been – what? Three weeks? And I’m hungry for data, spoilers, stills, promos, clips… anything.

        I’m glad SDCC is happening soon. Yet, I have to admit, it doesn’t seem quite the same as last year. That’s not a bad thing; it feels like it’s more calm and far less frenzied.

        We’re in an information void, but that may be only because there is no information to be had yet.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree it feels better(?) than last year. If I remember, the mood was pretty good right after Ring, except JS and CF gave a couple interviews right away that were unsettling (Kryptonite and Spinach anyone). But things were mostly OK until Comic-Con.

        But we are in a better place now, and the CF interviews that came out right after 3.19 were much more up-beat. We’ll know more next month, but we seem to be expecting (good) exciting things this time around.

      • joe says:

        Andy, dang! I was in Barnes & Noble just yesterday, and they had no Band of Horses at all! I’ll be looking for the new one on Amazon.
        Thanks!

      • andyt says:

        Joe, the Band of Horses album is fantastic not just the songs in Subway and Ring II but all of it.

        Also, I thing that you are correct that the drama that unfolds this year will be based around MEB and a Chuck and Ellie conflict. Also, I believe that this will create a Sarah/Ellie conflict. If you think about Ring II, she seemed pleased by Casey hugging Alex, but she had no interaction with Sarah. I wonder if that was deliberate by the writers or just left out because of story limits. I believe that she harbors some ill will toward Sarah now that she knows the truth. And does she really believe that Sarah loves her brother after the nearly two years of fake relationship stuff?

      • atcdave says:

        I could see Ellie/Sarah as a conflict for S4. I hope not, I never really enjoy the “internal strife” sort of themes, and I certainly wouldn’t enjoy seeing Chuck stuck between them. But I could enjoy something that plays out quickly where maybe Ellie doubts Sarah’s true feelings or some such; as long as Sarah proves herself quickly and the story isn’t dragged out too long. I think dragging out an unpleasent arc was among the serious problems with S3, I just hope they’ve learned the right lessons.

      • joe says:

        I agree with that 100%, Dave. Two thoughts:

        I didn’t see the conflict between Sarah & Ellie that some did when Ellie said “Is he (Devon) safe with you?” I sort of understand, but it was a stressful moment and I’m not real confident of any one interpretation. At the time I saw it, I didn’t see conflict, though.

        The other is that a bit of conflict between them is exactly the kind of thing TPTB like to do. I too will find it annoying (and a downer, actually), if it goes on too long. I could see one episode, maybe starting at the tail end of #1 and being resolved at the start of #3, depending. But that’s about it.

        As as story line, it really doesn’t have much more value than that.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Joe, I’m a “can’t we all just along” sort of guy. At least the people who ought to be friends or be on the same team, SHOULD all get along. Of course I’m OK with tension between Morgan and Casey when Morgan makes a move on Casey’s daughter; but that’s the sort of thing played for laughs. I can’t see how Chuck being stuck between Ellie and Sarah would make for the sort of television I want to watch. (I mean dragged out all season; again, if Ellie has doubts, and Sarah talks/acts on those doubts and proves herself, I’m good with that).

        Sorry, rambling, bedtime……

      • Merve says:

        I don’t think that any conflicts within the group can be dragged on for more than a couple of episodes because of exactly what Joe said – they don’t have much value. That’s not to say that they have no value; I think that there should be some internal conflict but also that it should be resolved pretty quickly.

        As far as secrets and lies go, my guess is that most of the “secrets” that Fedak referenced in his post-finale interview with Sepinwall are going to be secrets from the characters’ pasts, and not necessarily secrets that the characters keep from each other. I think we’re going to discover more about the double lives that Stephen and Mary led. Fedak is right; it’s not a spy show without secrets, and the kind of secrets that tie into the Intersect mythology are the kind that I like. I really enjoyed the last six or seven episodes of season two because they were so mythology-driven, and if season 4 is also largely mythology-driven, then I’m totally on board.

      • atcdave says:

        That is certainly a more appealing suggestion Merve, I hope that’s how it plays out. My only reservations with that are emotional/historic; last year at this time we were speculating like crazy, and it was all of our worst case scenarios that came to pass, not the more appealing ideas.

      • andyt says:

        I can see your fears Dave that these conflicts would be the dominant element of the season, but I do not see it in those terms. As far as a Chuck/Ellie conflict, I think that is a given and would actually be a continuation of one of the central themes in the series from its start. From the very beginning, she has been on Chuck about his life and his career future. Don’t forget the hilarious discussion of Chuck’s future between her and Morgan from “Tango” in S1(E-“Do you even know what a gelding is?”
        M-“Yes, its that creature from Dark Crystal.”) I think that conflict will be more magnified this season because Chuck has found his destiny, but is one that Ellie is not happy about. However, it can be woven into the storylines much like her exasperation at Chuck’s loserness for continuing to work at the Buy More in Seasons 1 and 2.

        As far as Ellie and Sarah, I don’t think that is an issue that has to dominate the season. A few lines here and there; some cold shoulder moments are all that is needed to establish the tension between the two. Also, I believe it will be natural for Ellie to be “suspicious” of Sarah now. Ellie has always been overprotective and way too involved in Chuck’s life; trying to shape it the way she wants it to be. I think she now might see Sarah as a dangerous element in his life that she can not protect him from. Again, this can be woven into storylines and be part of the overall texture. None of these conflicts are as central to the show as the Chuck and Sarah relationship which is why the angst over that was so strong among fans last season. Sorry for the essay.

  14. jason says:

    Papa B: i did it all for her

    Mama B: yes

    Ominous Voice: we are going to have to move you now

    I would guess this will get analyzed a bunch, unless better spoilers come out. But several guesses about the end, based just on what I saw:

    1 – mama b appeared to be at a scientist’s workstation more so than a bosses’ desk

    2 – the voice appeared to be either her boss or her captor based on his tone, not a subordinate or equal

    3 – I did it for her implies at least papa B thought he was keeping his wife safe by being a spy

    4 – papa B also earlier implied he was protecting chuck and ellie from some really bad people, again, it sounded like someone other than the ring, who chuck largely disabled

    since so many have guessed mama b the handler and orion the scientist, I’m guessing the other way, and that mama b went to work for the bad guys in order to keep her family safe.

    I don’t envy TPTB. lets guess that season 4 ends like season 2, with a wedding, and that mama B shows up right at the end, just like season 2. Do TPTB make that ending for 4.13, and rewrite if they get extended, or do they write for the ending 4.22, and if they get canceled hope that they get a 2 hour movie to finish things off? I’m guessing the latter, with maybe an engagement to end 4.13, just in case that is it.

    • atcdave says:

      Those are all good guesses Jason, and I do agree its possible MEB is a scientist, not an agent. But Orion claimed to have been a spy for 20 years, which is about when she disappeared (probably to look for her and protect his kids). So whatever she turns out to be, I don’t think Orion was ever her handler or protector.

    • patty says:

      Perhaps Orion had some dirt on them and was able to acheive some sort of a stalemate. The bad guys keep Mama B but they leave the kids alone.

    • andyt says:

      Jason, I can see MEB being a fellow scientist. In fact, it could easily fit that they met working on the Intersect project. It might also be that Orion was the early recruit into the spy life, since it seems that they recruit people right in college. He would have been identified early on as someone to bring into government research.

  15. BDaddyDL says:

    There is something that I am thinking about recently. If Stephen and Chuck can have the intersect, why isn’t Ellie able too? I know its a little princess Leah, but it makes sense to me.

  16. BDaddyDL says:

    2 quick things, I have a huge smile on my face because I am listening to “Down River”. My subconscious always has a field day with that song!

    I am not sure if anyone has ever said this but I have a sequel to freddie vs jason. Shaw vs Vincent neither one seems to be able to die.

    Sorry about the randomness blame it on temper tramp

    • sd says:

      What I want to know is that since no one stays dead on Chuck…what’s to say Chuck’s dad doesn’t get a second chance to make a first impression?

      And btw–are other folks kinda annoyed that characters don’t really die the first time around? It kinda cheapens the Casey line–if my memory serves–“dead is dead.”

      • patty says:

        Chuck dad died about 6 feet from the entrance to the Ring Resurrection lab!!! It seems that it would be very easy to bring him back!

      • JC says:

        It does tend to cheapen the dramatic weight of the show when people can come back to life after anything.

      • joe says:

        It’s not strictly true that characters don’t really die on Chuck, SD. When Sarah kills you, you stay dead. Mauser is NOT coming back. 😉

        And I think Stephen IS a prime candidate to be resurrected – by MEB, no less.

        Or am I getting ahead of myself (bwa-ha-ha!)

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, its kind of cheezy. Of course it also now means Chuck has never killed anyone; maybe that’s not all bad.

    • joe says:

      You have fine taste in music, BDaddy.

      • sd says:

        Yes Joe, I stand corrected, Mauser is for sure not coming back. 🙂

        I do, however, think we should start a pool on whether dad comes back and if so, what episode…

  17. amyabn says:

    random note, but Blitzen Trapper has a new album out. Pretty good. I find I have to be in a certain mood for them, but they are very good in their genre, which I have yet to quite put my finger on.

  18. jason says:

    here is an interview with castle’s stanya katic, she argues for the end to the wt/wt in her show and how the comedy and drama can get better once the wt/wt is over, she also mentions her creative team referencing the ‘thin man’ series on how castle and beckett should solve crime:

    http://thetvaddict.com/2010/06/17/a-conversation-with-castle-star-stana-katic/

    3.15 was the first time in a long time (maybe almost ever) that CS had ‘thin man’ style humorous banter going back and forth: “I’m a bartkowski’ vs ‘this is how I relieve stress’ or ‘you aren’t going to ask me to move in again’ countered by, ‘well no, at least not this moment’, ‘you moved the guns’ vs ‘you told me too another one ‘why didn’t you shoot’ vs ‘you told me the animal was majestic’.

    Might take a little while to get the hang of it for the writers, don’t know if many shows have tried to do this bit with the man being somewhat submissive while the women is more dominant, normally it is the other way around – if you just review these lines, chuck is giving the more feminine lines (the harder ones), while sarah gets the punch lines (the easier ones, the man lines) – if you watch the thin man, myrna loy sets up william powell in almost an art form-like practice.

    • joe says:

      Good observation, Jason. I’m a fan of The Thin Man series, and I can’t believe I missed that.

      You picked some pretty good examples, too. That scene with the tiger definitely hits the same chord. I wouldn’t have recognize Sarah’s “you’re not asking me again” speech that way, but now that you’ve pointed it out, yes it fits very well. Nora could easily say that.

      Hey! Is Chuck going to be more a Nick-like character? Confident, with questionable friends in low places? I sort of like it. They need an Asta now.

    • atcdave says:

      I’m actually really excited to hear Stana Katic talking like that. Castle hasn’t worn out the wt/wt like Chuck had BEFORE S3, but its getting there quick. I would love it if Chuck had pioneered a new ideal for television romances.

      And man I can’t wait for more Thin Man style humor.

      • sd says:

        Since there has been a fair amount of writer turnover on Chuck…it would be nice if the new batch is schooled in the art of the movie banter of that era.

  19. Crumby says:

    The thing I loved was the “bickering”. So much fun!

    And Crimes of course!

  20. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Role Models (3.15) | Chuck This

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