Sarah Walker vs. Her Type

A Guest Post By Jason

I’m not defending the writing in season 3, which felt like a Marquis de Sade script detailing the seduction of one’s daughter by a creepy pervert. But, I’m going to explore Sarah’s journey to find epic love beginning with the pilot and ultimately will justify some parts of season 3’s mess.

I realize this effort is ‘retconish’ in nature, and do apologize. I ask fellow chuck fans to lower the standard for such things and bear with me. After all, it’s the middle of summer and no new Chuck stuff is available to mess around with.

“What can I say, I have a type.” Sarah said to Chuck in 3.7. This line started Sarah on the final leg of her journey to an epic love. Read on for my thoughts about lionesses & lambs, Bryce, Cole, Roan, Prague, Shaw, Casey’s new role, Yoda, and Paris.

THE SETUP

Sarah’s ‘type’ was overtly self confident. Chuck was not. Yet, she fell for Chuck almost immediately. Doesn’t make sense one might ask? I think it does. How many end up loving a different ‘type’ of person than they thought they would? Sarah certainly was not looking to fall for a mark, yet she did seemingly within minutes of meeting Chuck.

Chuck’s presence did not make Sarah uncomfortable, she liked being around Chuck, she liked liking Chuck. I’ve called her ‘Sarah the Lioness’ around her ‘Chuck’. But she was anything but a lioness around her ‘type’, she was flustered and made poor choices, more like Sarah the Lamb.

When Sarah’s ‘type’ was around, Chuck became downright unnerved. Most people have a radar when their partner is around a member of the opposite sex who ‘bothers’ them. Chuck stepped aside in both Bryce’s and Cole’s presence, and even was given lines like ‘they look good together’ or something of the sort as if fans didn’t know.

As further proof of that ‘radar’, notice how uncomfortable Chuck’s brunettes were around Sarah (I can’t blame them). Sarah ‘bothered’ Chuck from the pilot on, Sarah was Chuck’s type, everyone saw that, even Jeff.

Whenever Sarah was courted by her ‘type’ of man, her commitment to Chuck wavered, not failed, just wavered. Sarah kissed Bryce in Chuck’s room of all places during Thanksgiving dinner of all times. She was packed, dressed and ready to run away with Bryce. She obviously was taken with Cole, their kiss was hot, the Cole kiss happened right after the very moving Best Friend episode. Then, Sarah told Chuck she was leaving with Bryce in 2.22, an episode after she was ready to make love with Chuck in the Colonel. Sarah Walker’s ‘type’ turned her head, even if for a moment.

So what if Chuck went with Sarah in Prague? Would Sarah’s head been turned each time she came in contact with her type? This would have been a living hell for self conscious by nature Chuck. So a few loose ends had to be tied up before the ‘epic’ the couple could hook up in ‘epic’ fashion.

THE MESS

Season 3 was about Sarah growing up, so she would not waver when faced with her old type of guy. Many face the same situation when growing up. As I recall, experiencing or witnessing this process was painful. Sarah’s experience was no less painful and near fatal, for Sarah, for Chuck, and for the show’s renewal prospects.

On paper, a solution (not by any means the perfect solution) to tie up the loose ends was the introduction of Daniel Shaw. Shaw was Sarah’s type and could force Chuck & Sarah to face their issues.

The mess started with Sarah alone and angry at the world, especially at Chuck. She hooks up with her type, not as a difficult choice between Chuck and her type, but as an easy choice between no one and her type. What followed was 6 episodes of ‘epically’ bad writing that even had staunch supporters making fun of the creative team’s ineptness. I’ve discussed this failure in other venues so I will ignore the distraction now and plunge forward.

THE ROAD BACK

Just as Sarah needed to grow in her commitment to Chuck, Chuck needed to become more self confident. Testosterone laden guys were going to hit on girls like Sarah Walker. Chuck didn’t need to be Cole-like confident, but Chuck needed to stop sulking and cowering, using his Chuck-like wit and charm to disarm potential rivals.

With this part of the story, Chuck did great. Cole and / or Roan would have been proud of him. Chuck fighting for Sarah was the point of 3.11, 3.12 & 3.13. 3.13’s DYLM scene was a brief setback, and reminded Sarah Chuck was still ‘Sarah’s’ Chuck – the old hand-wringer himself, but overall Chuck took care of business.

Still, Sarah did not choose Chuck in 3.12 even after Shaw essentially ignored her and ‘gave’ her to Chuck in the Hero castle scene. Chuck’s heroic rescue of Shaw did not budge her. She was not overcome by Chuck’s heartfelt plea for her to run away and choose him, torn yes, confused for sure, convinced, I really don’t know. Ironically, Chuck’s pitch to run away with Chuck the hero was met with the same reaction as earlier pitches made by those ‘other’ guys who were Sarah’s ‘type’.

Only after Casey told Sarah that Chuck did not kill Perry did I know for sure she picked Chuck. Sarah showed joy for the FIRST time in the season. Funny how Casey became Sarah’s emotional ‘muse’. When did that happen?

Even after she picked Chuck, the mess was not finished. Shaw manipulated Sarah twice more, once when he whisked Sarah away while Chuck was waiting at the train station, the other led her to Paris. When Sarah says “Shaw is a great spy’ in the touching DYLM scene, she admitted Shaw was still her ‘type’. The great spy, saving the world, look good together stuff had always been code for her ‘type’.

She loved Chuck, but her type still bothered her and knocked her off balance. She was still Sarah the lamb around Shaw making bad choices. So the arc was nearly over, and best case the mess was back where it started seemingly at the pilot, Sarah loved Chuck and Sarah was bothered by her type.

AND END THE MESS, YOU MUST

As the action shifted to Paris, the clock was running out. Yoda himself seemingly was required to fix the mess, so epically mis-written the story was. But, in Paris, Sarah realized what Chuck did for her, finally Sarah completed the last leg of the journey started with the line ‘I have a type.’ She ended the mess with the line ‘you saved me’ and at that moment, Sarah Walker KNEW she had a NEW ‘type’. Sarah never looked more radiant. She was smitten by, bothered by, reduced to a schoolgirl at times ‘exclusively’ by her Chuck, her ‘type’ of guy.

The back 6 episodes bore witness to the new epically in love Sarah, part lamb, part lioness, but now at all the right times, in all the right places, for all the right reasons. I’m looking forward to lots more of that girl in season 4 and beyond.

What do you think?

– Jason

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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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156 Responses to Sarah Walker vs. Her Type

  1. OldDarth says:

    Interesting viewpoint. Thanks for sharing.

    You sure like the word ‘epically.’ 😉

    • joe says:

      Hum… now you have me wondering what a word-cloud of my own posts would look like, Lou. Probably a lot of Uh… and Hum… in there.

    • jason says:

      darth – thx – you guys who write opinion pieces daily / weekly / often deserve credit, not so easy to do. the use of ‘epic’ was a backhanded attempt at poking fun at TPTB, for some reason ‘gamechanging’ did not seem to fit the topic, probably overused a few other words too on rereading the ‘mess’ – LOL

  2. kg says:

    Super post Jason. I agree, even after Casey makes the effort to tell her the truth, the situation is still a “mess.”

    Chuck really didn’t have her until he saved her. More ways than one. No coordinated special ops team, no tank, all Chuck.

    But getting back to your premise, and her quote at the end of Mask, “What can I say, I have a type.” Yes, in a way she was talking about Shaw, but I also believe that was her back-handed fashion of telling Chuck that he was “her” type, that he was “that” type as well. The “hero” type. “How many times do you have to be a hero to realize you are that guy.”

    He could have had her in my estimation. But he hadn’t stepped up, yet. Still a few episodes away. Chuck didn’t object to her involvement with Shaw, and Sarah did her usual recoil act and accepted Hannah for Chuck. But after he turned his back and walked out of castle you could see her real reaction and real disappointment and lost opportunity.

  3. joe says:

    I *do* find this interesting, Jason. The idea that Sarah’s ‘type’ is an indicator of her emotional maturity (is that the right way to put it?) is one I honestly hadn’t considered before. And you’re absolutely right that Sarah’s dealings with it are a near-universal experience.

    I’m not going to say that the writers were inept, but I sure realize that there’s a contingent that thinks that. What keeps some of them around is still the writing, though – the writing that makes us look twice at the stuff we didn’t like and more at the stuff we did.

    • jason says:

      I think I said the creative team was inept, the arc could have worked with shaw, he just needed to stay a PLI rather than become a LI – it would have been annoying enough to prove the point, whatever that point might be, I think the point was Sarah was not quite ready for a ‘normal’ life & Chuck was not quite ready to fight for Sarah.

      Since I was sort of supporting parts of season 3 with my analysis, I wanted to be clear I did not like season 3’s front 13, the story, the writer, or much of the execution, which is why I started off like I did.

      I watched all of S1 / S2 before writing this, two things jumped out at me that caught my eye, first, Sarah has the same issues in 1/2, the issues just get over in a scene or two rather than linger for an entire arc, second, these issue of being a lamb around that certain ‘type’ of guy, persists until Paris, when I first watched, I kept looking for ‘the end’ of the ‘mess’, it just never came until 5 minutes remained in the arc.

      I would rewrite this after the feedback, and try to explain better that ‘I have a type’ means more the type ‘hits me upside the head with the stupid stick’, rather than ‘sweeps me off my feet’. I am not so sure that came thru from the writing?

      • odysszeuss says:

        hi jason, perhaps not explecitly within the writing, but we all know your point of view. And the writing seemed sometimes positive about the Season 3. Jason + positivity about Season 3 = NEVER! So, reading your post with this “glasses” => et voila it’s: ‘hits me upside the head with the stupid stick’ instead of ‘sweeps me off my feet’ 😉

      • kg says:

        Jason I think your last paragraph here sums it up nicely.

        It was Chuck who swepped her off her feet, as early as the pilot, but because of fear, her job, etc, etc, she attempted to hide these feelings. Everybody noticed but Chuck himself.

        Maybe we forget that Sarah has only been the hot, kick-ass woman as an adult after Graham recruits her for the CIA. We see in high school as Jenny Burton she’s the outcast daughter of a con man/jailbird. She’s not popular, not considered hot and mocked a lot.

        Perhaps it’s the type “hitting her upside the head with the stupid stick,” as you say, but perhaps it’s also some of the little girl in Sarah resurfacing again.

        Because of who she is now, she’s attracted to guys like Bryce, Cole and Shaw because she likes heros. That’s admirable. She, herself, is a heroine. But what if she’s also attracted to these guys because she never had a shot with them as a girl. She’s got more than a shot now because of the woman she is.

        Go back to her reunion. The orangatan Duffy, along with Heather, spent most of his time making fun of Sarah/Jenny in high school. Now, he thinks he can have his way with her. But now, Sarah has the skills to fight off pigs like Duffy and the Russian flunky from Undercover Lover.

        So yeah, while guys like the aforementioned Larkin, Barker and Shaw may not immediately impress Sarah the woman, she eventually falls for them because of who they are. Heros. But I agree, they don’t sweep her off her feet. Not like Chuck did.

        In Beefcake, I recall Sarah using castle to find information and accomplishments of Cole. Sarah begins to lighten up around Shaw after he carries her out of castle in Mask. And when he decides to give himself up to the Ring, she goes completely emotional, prompting Chuck to step up and lock her down.

        Because I always found myself rooting for Chuck and Sarah, I wanted to hate Bryce and Cole. But the more I found out about them, I couldn’t. They weren’t bad guys. Actually, they were very good guys. Chuck, himself, had to agree. And what’s not to love about Sarah?

        Poor Shaw was viewed as a villian even when he was considered a good guy. Both male and female fans of the show hated this guy. Loathed him. But once he became a legitimate villian at the end of American Hero, I thought he was unequivically the best villian of the three-year run.

        I’m beginning to ramble, but this response allows me to recall the scene at the end of Truth, meant to be dramatic, today makes me chuckle.

        Only from a guy like Chuck I guess. He clearly is in love with Sarah. She lies to him despite the influence of truth syrum. So he marches into the Wienerlicious and breaks up with his fake girlfriend who is the woman of his dreams.

        Meanwhile, Sarah, who does everything in her power to convince Bartowski that the relationship is a just a cover, in actuality, is crushed. Hammered. We’ve mostly agreed that this alleged cover relationship was undoubtedly the most real and precious thing in her life.

        Humorous (now), ironic, tender and touching. Just some of the reasons why we love this show. And then Casey’s gleeful reaction when they tell Beckman is also amusing.

  4. Kevin says:

    You make a lot of good points, Jason. Unfortunately, it touches on something that’s a little too “touchy” for me, which is the fact that Chuck had to work SO bloody hard to get Sarah, and Sarah just kind of fell into Chuck when she found it convenient. That said, you did a nice job of providing probably cause for Sarah’s actions (and inactions) in S3, as vomit-inducing as they often were, haha.

    • joe says:

      I’m not so sure that “convenient” is the right word, Kevin. Even if that were the case, she also found Chuck worth giving everything for – everything she had known.

      Besides, there’s the Biblical thing about a peril of great price. You just know it applies.

      Sarah is more than a bit hard to know. It’s too easy to see the character as ideal, and that makes any flaw, especially character flaws, stand out. After the last six episodes, she does seem more human, though, and much more suitable for Chuck, I think.

      edit: Pearl. PEARL!!! Dang it all! 😉

      • Kevin says:

        Perhaps “convenient” is a bit too far, but I don’t know. Chuck’s actions in S3 were at times reprehensible. For those actions, he “lost” Sarah, and was basically called on the carpet for being a jackass by Hannah. He really had to pay for his missteps. Sarah, on the other hand, never had to deal with the fallout of her actions, beyond the immediate consequences of said actions (that, of course being Shaw trying, and almost succeeding in killing her). Well, there WAS a brief moment of what looked to be embarrassment for her in Living Dead, but other than that, she suffered nothing for what she put those around her through. She was never made to apologize, and honestly, she never acted as though she felt she needed to apologize for anything.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        I think, Kevin, that a good case could be made that Sarah felt some genuine regret for her own inability to judge Shaw’s true character in the scene where she’s staring out through the armored car’s cage at him in ‘Subway’.

        There was probably some self-recrimination mixed in with it too.

        You can almost read her eyes saying, “I can’t believe I was so blind I couldn’t see what an utterly loathsome person you really are.”

        That her own failure had contributed substantially to the mess they found themselves in would have weighed considerably on her conscience, don’t you think?

      • amyabn says:

        Kevin, as much as I loathed the Sarah-Shaw fauxmance, why should she apologize? I don’t recall Chuck having to apologize for Lou, Jill, or Hannah. Considerable time had passed from Prague and Shaw wasn’t introduced until Operation Awesome, so it isn’t like they picked up a relationship and then Sarah dumped Chuck for Shaw.

        I agree with Dave that the whole retelling of the details of her relationship with Shaw, in front of Chuck, was punishment enough. I’m hoping that Casey’s comments about Sarah finally picking a good one will close out any further mention of Mr. Plywood. 🙂

      • 904 says:

        As amy said, Sarah shouldn’t need to apologize to Chuck:

        1. He left her in Prague.
        2. He shows up out of the blue at a mission after six months without much regard for her feelings.
        3. He made the first move with Hannah. Sarah didn’t accept Shaw’s advances until Chuck made it clear he was enjoying the attention and, ahem, intimacy with the new brunette.

        To be fair, Chuck has never asked her to apologize and I would think he would deflect any attempt at an apology. He knows he’s no innocent victim of love. He hasn’t thrown Shaw in her face or been passive aggressive about it (except for in Living Dead, when they’re trying to decipher the password to Shaw’s safe, “your name.”)

        To be at the point they’ve reached, Chuck and Sarah as characters needed to confront these challenges and make tough choices. They had to face consequences and learn from them.

        Meanwhile, I think Sarah has made amends for two-plus years of being wishy-washy with Chuck and his feelings for her. She’s truly committed to life with him. For Chuck, that’s all the apology he’ll need.

      • JC says:

        Sarah doesn’t have to apologize for her relationship with Shaw. But she is equally to blame for the whole mess.

        What she does need to apologize for is her blindness about Shaw after it was revealed she killed his wife. That led to Chuck “killing” someone which in turn led to his family being put in danger and her ex killing his father.

    • kg says:

      You know, Kevin, I used to be in the same camp, but as special as Chuck is, realistically a guy like him would have to work as hard as he has to land a girl like Sarah. We all would.

      If Chuck were real, he’d have to endure disappointment and turn-downs.

      • joe says:

        Hum…

        Somewhere in these comments lays the concept I sort of hate – this Alpha & Beta male stuff. Yeah. I realize it’s a popular notion.

        Chuck? Beta by definition, especially at first.
        Charles Carmichael? Alpha.
        Bryce/Cole/Shaw? Alpha. But in the case of Shaw, I’m not sure why. Essentially he was true to Evelyn, then went insane. Neither of those are Alpha qualities, as I understand it. Or is it just a matter of confidence that makes him Alpha?
        Skip Johnson? Mega-alpha.

        Ernie? I think we need a poll!

    • BDaddyDL says:

      I have seen a lot of anti Sarah sentiment on the net. Season 3 was hard for her character.
      You have to remember Sarah’s past and her psyche when talking about her. She had to overcome quite a bit.

      Also,In order for Chuck to continue with his journey he had to become a spy. At the same time, he could not becomne the more geeky Brice Larkin. He had to remain Chuck. Chuck had to remain Chuck for Sarah too. Sarah could have a fling with a “true” spy, but she could not share her soul with one.

      Sarah, on the surface is a well adjusted. She is kick ass Sarah Walker. On the inside, she is still Jenny Burton, who over time has acquired countless scars and scabs onto her soul. These wounds have not healed, and before she met Chuck, were growing and infecting her life. The drive to make her the best undercover operative in the CIA was from ambition that was fueled by pain, and a reckless abandonment for her safety.

      Sarah, through some fault of her own had never had any support system. All of her “friends” would abandon her for 1 reason or another. At the end of season 2 she had made the commitment to Chuck. She decided to share her life with him. Chuck was pure, he would never abandon her. Then praugue happened. Was Sarah smart for trying? No. Was it the smart decision? No. She made a stupid mistake, but people do that. The night of Ellies wedding, Chuck put in 2.0, after that she could not have normal. then Chuck left her. Is this rational. NO Sarah Walker is not rational yet. She is adrift emotionally because her soul is so damaged.

      Sarah probably thought the door she walked through, the night of her red test, brought her to a hell she could not return from. Then she met Chuck. She thought thought he might be able to help her back to normal. When he was headed toward the red test Sarah new it was slipping away. Wether right or wrong, he was turning into someone else who would abandon her. In my analysis it did not matter if the baddy had a gun. Chuck had stopped people before without a gun.
      I am sure bryce Casey, even Chuck had saved Walker so many times. When Chuck Saved Sarah on the bridge he made the ultimate sacrafice. He saved her even though it meant he would loose her. Chuck was not a killer. There was no assignment, there was no time to do it another way. He saved Sarah’s soul that night.

      What happened after, well thats another post.

      I have made no secret to the fact that I love my wife. Anyone who read my first story knows this. I have always felt protective of Sarah character, and I probably always will. I see a lot of Sarah in my wife. She is a smart professional beautiful women. Who went through a hell that would make most people cower away, and allow for fate to consume them. She pushed through it. With the help of a loving support system, a lot of her wounds have healed. Thank God. although even after so many years, We will see somehtin on tv and those nsecurties imerge again.

      People can not rationalize what Sarah did to Chuck in season 3. Sarah was punishing herself as much as Chuck. They got through it, and hopefully they will be able to ride of into the sunset together.

      • joe says:

        BD, poetic thoughts!

        We didn’t know it for 2.5 seasons (we couldn’t have) but the idea that with her Red Test Sarah died and went to hell is powerful. She spent most every episode, then, trying to save Chuck from that fate one way or the other.

        But she failed. He went in after her.

  5. JC says:

    I think the biggest problem is Sarah as a character is basically a blank slate. So we as viewers tend to project onto her and when we see something different it’s hard to believe.

    Maybe that’s why she’s so popular. Everyone has their own idea of who she but on screen we haven’t seen it. It reminded me of First Date when Chuck describes her at dinner, I hate to say but most of what he said I never saw.

  6. Kevin says:

    I don’t want to stray TOO far from the original topic of the article, but Aardie, while you make a fair point, and it’s believable that, FINALLY, Sarah was at least feeling a bit (however small it may be) of regret. But there’s a rather large gap between “I feel like I made a mistake” and fessing up to that mistake. For me, much, if not all of the damage done to my perception of the Sarah character pre-Shaw arc could’ve been repaired by a simple “I’m sorry” from her.

  7. odysszeuss says:

    Hi Jason, very good post!!!

    BUT, i really liked the point, that Sarah had chosen Chuck BEFORE Casey talked to her (Perry). That would be the explicit exception Sarah is doing with Chuck in opposite to all the other guy’s. They all wanted her to leave with her and in all cases at least she stands still. This time she realized, Chuck is her type and she made the decision for herself. Involving Casey in this decision seems odd to me.

    At least the writing is neutral enough so we all find our reasons of believing at which point exactly she really decided to leave with Chuck (train station).

    Your final conclusion about the ‘I have a type’ and ‘you saved me’ arc: very very good!!!
    now, she is confident with herself an her type. i like that!

  8. amyabn says:

    Jason, I apologize up front, but I wholeheartedly disagree with your analysis of Sarah. Chuck is her type, not Cole, not Bryce, and certainly not Shaw. They were her idealized idea of what Spy-Sarah should be with. They understand the lifestyle, they are confident, etc. The irony in Mask with the line of “I have a type” is that Chuck IS her type. He is all the things she never knew she wanted. Heck, Carina knew it all the way back in Wookie!

    Sarah herself tells us that she fell for Chuck somewhere between fixing her phone and defusing a bomb with a computer virus. Every choice she made (Bryce, Cole, Shaw) was second fiddle to Chuck. You made the points for me-she stayed with Chuck instead of leaving with Bryce, she knew, and Cole even called her on it, that she loved Chuck.

    I submit that Shaw was more the result of confusion over being hurt by Chuck’s turning her down in Prague as the choice was accelerated by Chuck’s turning to Hannah. Action, reaction.

    Sarah fell for a regular guy-again confirmed in Ring 2. The whole third (botched) season was Chuck trying to be the person he thought was Sarah’s type, hence, even in S1 and S2, his comparing himself to Bryce, Cole, and Shaw. He had other, more noble reasons as well, but he had essentially freed himself from the ridiculously played asset-handler conundrum and had expectations of a romance. Shot down by Agent Walker. Her hurt state of mind left him confused.

    The subsequent episodes were a mis-mash of conflicting dialog and actions (like the first part of Mask to the gut wrenching reversal at the end-argh!). I felt Sarah, with that stupid speech, was giving Chuck an “out”, but when he didn’t “get it,” she was put in the position of convincing herself that she should be with what her idealized type is supposed to be-Shaw.

    Chuck actually asking Sarah if she ever loved him was the catalyst, much the way they used Morgan in Beard, to make Sarah face her feelings. Sarah is slow to take what she wants.

    We watched her waiver, albeit briefly, in Marlin. She ran away with him at the end of S2 in Ring 1. She has put Chuck and his desires, his safety, well above her own. I could go on for days with examples, but key ones for me are the Lou and Jill arcs.

    Now that Sarah has what (and who!) she wants, look out world because Lioness Sarah is on the lookout.

    • joe says:

      “The whole third (botched) season was Chuck trying to be the person he thought was Sarah’s type, hence, even in S1 and S2, his comparing himself to Bryce, Cole, and Shaw.”

      Chuck was trying to be “Sarah’s type?” Okay, you just hit me with a lightning bolt, Amy. As much as I’ve thought through Chuck’s machinations in that part of the season, that’s something I missed. And I think you have it right.

      Now I have to go back and look at those episodes again with this in mind!

      • amyabn says:

        Joe, look at how Chuck reacts around the Alpha males that come around. Sarah accepts Chuck as Chuck so she doesn’t really notice. Sarah has chemistry with just about anyone, well, except Mr. plywood.

        Ellie called him on it-“I know what a really great guy Chuck Bartowski is, I just wish you did” or something to that effect (sorry, I’m rushing to reply!). Sarah loves him in spite of his hand wringing style, his lack of confidence. She has been building him up for 2 seasons, and Ellie has had small moments of that too.

        Chuck has never thought he could get the girl. Sure, he had moments towards the end of S2 (Cougars comes to mind-sometimes the nerd does get the girl) but then it goes nowhere. I’m not a guy, I don’t understand how you think sometimes, but I think Chuck chalked up his failures to getting the girl to being himself, not knowing that Sarah loved him as he was. Powerful stuff, really.

      • Merve says:

        Amy, it’s funny that you mention chemistry or the lack thereof. Strangely, Brandon Routh had ample chemistry with Zac Levi (by which I mean they played well off each other), hence all the “Chaw” jokes. As for Routh’s lack of chemistry with Yvonne Strahovski, I don’t know whom to blame. Strahovski is clearly more talented, but sometimes two actors just don’t click; it’s really nobody’s fault. And if Routh and Levi work well together, then…I don’t know; maybe it’s just an uncomfortable romance thing. At least we’ll always have Chaw.

      • amyabn says:

        Merve, I chalk the lack of chemistry to two things: one, they clearly are at different skill levels of acting (I’m trying to be nice here).
        Two, they very poorly defined Shaw’s role. Was he supposed to be a mentor, a love interest, a catalyst, a villain? I think they pooched it when they extended his stay. I saw it mentioned on the blog somewhere that Routh, Levi, and Strahovski have all commented on the lack of clarity of direction. His role continued to morph but wasn’t defined.

        Chaw? Now that’s news to me! I did like Routh as the villain though.

      • Merve says:

        I agree with that more or less. I had a definite “WTF?” moment when Shaw started randomly hitting on Sarah. I don’t think that they succeeded well in melding Shaw-as-mentor and Shaw-as-love-interest until “Final Exam.” But as far as chemistry goes, both actors involved have a responsibility for it. Neither one sold it.

        I wasn’t too fond of Shaw as a villain, but he was excellent when he was just plain psycho in “Other Guy” and “Tooth.” (In fact, I wouldn’t mind if Chuck just had creepy Shaw dreams for the rest of his life…okay, I’m kidding about that. Sort of.)

      • Kisku says:

        Merve, you keep forgeting that in Fake Name when YS was asked to sell her affection to Shaw she did it with aplomb, both scenes in hotel room and later in castle were great in that regard. So when i look back at some comments for Fake Name at the time, most ppl bought it what was happening. The problem is that PTB decided to completly ignore that story for next 3 episodes so there was nothing to sell in those episodes and i think it was mistake.

        Also one more thing, it’s much much easier to establish believable chemistry when the other person is portrayed as open, easy going, charming and generally very nice person (that was Hannah), instead of stiff, charmless, often creepy and generally shown as a big douchebag (as Shaw). Was it intentional he was showm like that or rather it was an accident in BR acting is a big question, but YS is not to blame here, considering how the story was structured and when she was asked to do it, she did sell it well. (btw in Mask i think we were not suppose to believe Sarah is into Shaw, even Fedak commented in his interview that Sarah is in different place emotionally after Mask than Chuck, that is why she is not showing much affection toward him).

      • Merve says:

        Kisku, I haven’t forgotten the apartment scene. I’m sorry, neither Strahovski nor Routh sold it for me, and I stand by that.

      • Kisku says:

        Well, than lets agree to disagree, because i thought she was great there and so thought most of the commenters/reviewers.

    • jason says:

      amy – I don’t disagree with much (almost all) of what you said. Sarah indeed fell for chuck, she did already in the pilot (according to her in the 3.13 DYLM scene) and she more or less admitted to shaw ‘I did love him (until the perry incident)’, since she was again on board at the end of 3.12, she essentially has loved chuck the entire show.

      The only thing I am trying to show, is she had a ‘type’, the type had nothing to do with love, but I tried to show her head turning got in the way of her and Chuck in seasons 1 & 2 (as much from Chuck’s POV as hers), and MAY have again if they ran off together in Prague.

      Finally, I tried to show, that in spite of how much I wanted otherwise as a fan, this tendency to show weakness around this type of man stayed in play all the way thru the middle of episode 3.13, even though Sarah now openly showed her love for Chuck.

      Still, her ‘head turns’ at these guys had nothing to do with love, she loved Chuck – indeed there are probably thousands of examples in the 3 seasons of it.

      • Merve says:

        Jason, I agree with you as far as Bryce and Cole go. They were certainly portrayed as “temptations.” But Shaw? He was more of a convenient Band-Aid. You could’ve put Stanley Fitzroy in his place and she’d have gone for it.

      • jason says:

        merve – one tries to limit the length of those things, one interesting thing to me that I did not try to answer, what exactly about cole and bryce are sarah’s type, what does get under her skin? I think it is the arrogance and looks, more than the hero & charm -if that is the case, shaw (even the garden plywood variety) would qualify as he was portrayed as the most arrogant person in the world – this also would explain why seemingly raif got under her skin or was I the only one who noticed that?????

      • odysszeuss says:

        jepp, Jason, Sarah is a bit attracted to the bad boy image type. remember her speech to Cole in the hotel lobby about the annoying softies. a part of her meant what she said… and we saw a glimpse of that in chuck vs. the role models – the dish washing szene…

      • 904 says:

        Bryce and Cole were very capable, brave, protective. They had self-assurance (but I don’t think of it as arrogance. It is earned.) They are Renaissance men, skilled at being able to fit into any situation, social, dangerous, or otherwise. And they are forward. They say what they want and how they intend to get it.

        However, I don’t think looks play much into it. We’re never shown Sarah’s character having her head turn by superficial looks. After all, Chuck is by all standards a handsome man. Look no further than his ability to catch the eyes of beauties like Jill, Lou, and Hannah.

      • Merve says:

        @Jason: There’s very little by which to judge Rafe. He had very few lines. He certainly managed to irk Sarah, but I didn’t sense that Sarah would be attracted to him in any way. I know that there was quite a bit of criticism of Johnny Messner’s performance, but there’s only so much he could have done with so little. I think he played the tough-guy assassin persona quite well.

        @904: I can’t recall a single instance in which Sarah commented on Bryce’s, Cole’s, or Shaw’s looks. I can recall two instances of her commenting on Chuck’s looks – one in “Sandworm” and one in “Colonel.” It seems as if looks really don’t concern Sarah.

      • 904 says:

        Exactly, Merve.

        If there’s one thing we perhaps can all agree on, Sarah has avoided the superficial boy-crazy persona. She may have a “history” of falling for people she works with (though mostly hearsay), she hasn’t shown a predilection for giving in to carnal desires or smooth talk. (Chuck and his Bartowski eye brow dance excluded).

      • herder says:

        My take on the “what can I say, I have a type” comment by Sarah was that it was used by the writers as a plot device. I think that it was used in lieu of developing a rationalization of why she would become romantically involved with Shaw. We were supposed to think yeah, she does have a type and Shaw is it. The problem was that for much of the fan base that explanation didn’t wash. Instead of accepting the premise that Shaw was her type I and many others kept thinking why is she with this clod? The result was a disconnect that tainted many of the episodes of the first thirteen.

      • Merve says:

        There’s a very good rationalization for Sarah to get involved with Shaw. To put it crudely: “convenient love stick who listens to my bitching.” What I’m really confused about is why Shaw would get involved with Sarah. He was clearly not over his dead wife and he showed no romantic interest in Sarah in his first two appearances.

    • kg says:

      Amy

      I think you’re right on both your major points. On this particular thread and other discussions, I too, have argued that in Mask Sarah was referring to Chuck and not necessarily Shaw when she made her “type” crack.

      But as you point out, when Chuck didn’t get it and it went over his head, Sarah didn’t pursue it and let it stand that Shaw was another guy who fit her “type”. And it was safe and easy because Chuck had Hannah to settle for. So, she in turn, settled for Shaw. In all the confusion and lack of clear dialogue, it was convenient for the both of them.

      I know this is one of the two episodes of season three folks just don’t want to watch again. Sarah gives Chuck one of her fake smiles before he turns to walk out of castle and find Hannah. As he does, her smile quickly fades, the longing glare appears and then her pretty face just fills with disappointment and probably some heart ache too.

      In between seasons two and three I had a debate with a gentleman on Chucktv.net. His argument as to the reason why Chuck re-intersected 2.0 was eerily similar to the actual words Chuck himself uttered in Karl’s vault in Three Words. You know, the same ones Sarah witnessed and heard through the magic of Carina’s memory stick.

      I simply argued that while Chuck certainly was thinking of family, friends and Sarah in those intrinsic terms, and the greater good, he’s still a human being with feelings, emotions and desires. Therefore, he had another reason why he downloaded 2.0.

      In short, I wrote, he wanted to impress Sarah. She was about to tell Chuck that she chose him and wasn’t going with Bryce. Papa B interrupted and she never got the chance. In the intersect vault, Chuck wrongly assumed she was going off with Bryce.

      Despite all his attractive qualites and their chemistry, Chuck believed Sarah could never fall in love with him because he didn’t have prototypical spy skills. He wasn’t a man of kick-ass action. He folded during the pre-torture. Chuck no longer wanted to make his contributions to the team from the car. He wanted out to climb out of the car into the action. He totally believed this is what Sarah wanted.

      And at the very least, even if she never loved him, if he was the intersect again, she couldn’t/wouldn’t leave him.

      Amy, I am a man. And my insecurities at 44 might be as strong as they were at say 14. I get Chuck at this level.

      Like Chuck, I often feel as though in today’s world that being a nice guy, caring, loving and sensitive are not nearly enough. Here’s where the insecurities take over. I’m not handsome enough, not tall enough, not strong enough, not smart enough and not wealthy enough.

      From one man’s point of view, Chuck truly did love Sarah. From the moment she walked into the Buy More and he fumbled the phone.

      To Bartowski, Sarah was a godess with no flaws, and as a result, he put her on a pedastal. He was always going to play catch-up. He was always going to get jealous when a more accomplished man checked her out and she gave an interested look back.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Wow. That was really moving, kg.

        Nice post.

      • joe says:

        He was always in danger of letting his insecurities get the better of him too, kg. That was the point, I think, of Chuck’s telling Sarah to NOT give him an answer, but just meet him at Union Station at the end of American Hero and run away with him. That’s when he find got control of the insecurities that we all had at 14.

        Great post.

    • Kisku says:

      Btw where was that great chemistry between Levi and Routh, because i don’t remember any, as they didn’t have that many scenes together. Yes the one they had worked fine, in the same way Sarah/Shaw profesional scenes worked fine in episodes like First Class. Also Sarah/Shaw scenes worked great when he was psycho in Other Guy before she was tranqued or Subway episodes, because there stiff/creepy way of BR acting worked to his advantage, but he played it the same way before that when he suppose to be good and i think generally charming guy and that’s why some romantic scenes felt wrong.

      • SWnerd says:

        Agree. Levi and Routh didn’t really have much screen time to show off any chemistry. Shaw was basically the cancerous growth attached to Sarah’s hip and since Chuck didn’t spend very much time around Sarah, he also wasn’t around Shaw.

        Speaking of which, I always kinda wondered how it would have played if Shaw’s role as mentor to Chuck would have been fleshed out and developed more. As it was there was some admiration on Chuck’s part but mostly he just gave orders and was a rival for the girl. If they had developed a closer, friendlier relationship between the two men, what would Paris have been like if Chuck had to kill a friend in order to save the woman he loved?

      • aardvark7734 says:

        SWnerd, in my opinion it would have been much more engaging, intelligent and nail biting towards the end.

        Who will Chuck believe? The enigmatic mentor who has been pushing him out of his protector’s bird nest to his benefit but whose motivations and morality Chuck doesn’t completely trust? Or the woman he loves and trusts, but who has been doing everything she can to hold him back from being the spy he thinks he can become?

        That would have amped up the Paris confrontation considerably from what it was, putting viewers into internal conflict about whether Chuck should just kill Shaw or find a non-lethal option. But as it was, nearly everyone hated his guts and cheered when he bit it. All because he had to be a real PLI for Sarah, which killed any real ability for him to be Chuck’s mentor (although we’d also have had to have scenes where he wasn’t a complete clod as a spy).

        Argh. Sometimes this lost opportunity is enough to make me wail.

      • SWnerd says:

        Yeah to be a mentor, you actually have to be better than the pupil. Shaw was not.

        “Lost opportunity” could have been the tag line of season 3.

      • JC says:

        That he screwed so much as a spy I figured he had to be bad. And then to hear everyone saying how great he was left me scratching my head in disbelief.

  9. Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

    I still don`t understand the middle arc or its purpose (other than to suck the life out of a perfectly good television show) and likely never will. It certainly did a disservice to the 2 lead characters. Some people call this growth, I`d call it something else.

    Sarah “the lioness” should have reappeared to fight for her Chuck, prior to Casey owning up to killing Perry. A LOT PRIOR.

    I can’t understand how someone can sit in a room and think that keeping Chuck and Sarah apart, in almost every way possible, for 12 out of 13 episodes (at the time) was going to turn out good. Never mind uttering words like “emotional & traumatic” and “potential love interest / love trapezoid”. It boggles the mind.

    These are two characters(Chuck and Sarah), who for 2 seasons had essentially completely faith in each other, but had that faith written out in S3.

    The back 6 did a lot to fix the Chuck and Sarah relationship, no doubt, but this has not completely fixed the show that was there prior to S3. Even now, there is still something missing. Something intangible, call it the show’s innocence or “spark” if you will, has not completely returned yet, and that`s sad.

    • joe says:

      You can’t get back to the garden, Joe. Sometimes I think the loss of innocence *is* the growth. Or, at least it’s a sign of it. (That’s M. Scott Peck, btw.)

      • Robert Dammers says:

        I suspect you are right, Joe. I tried very hard to ignore the crassly written mess that was the first half of series 3, and enjoyed the resumption of normal service. But the silly, manipulative, unfunny interrogation scene in “Living Dead” broke something. I just can’t feel the same way about the programme any more.

        And that, by the way, is what they did to “Moonlighting”. Failing to understand what destroyed that show made them do exactly the same stupid thing to “Chuck”.

      • BDaddyDL says:

        I think moonlighting also lost its sense of fun because the actors hated each other. Besides remember they did not dewll on it, than goodness. I know I may sound like a cheerleader, but I have really high hopes for season 4

      • joe says:

        You know Robert (and “Hi!”, btw), when I do my running I have my iPOD on, and I often listen to the music from all three seasons. I too DON’T feel the same about the show – not the way I did before.

        I’m not going to say that I feel better about it, because that wouldn’t be putting it right. I don’t feel worse about it either, just different. My feelings – the emotions I feel when I hear the music – are as different now as the characters.

        There are parts to S1 and S2 I really liked (that’s the understatement of the year), but I don’t want to revisit them as much as I thought I would. And when I do see older episodes I find myself a bit in a hurry to get to Paris.

        My biggest worry about S4 is that I’m going to be slow to leave Paris.

      • Robert Dammers says:

        Essentially, I moved to being strongly engaged with these characters to not being particularly bothered with them because they will be whatever the soap opera requires them to be this week. No point investing further in that nonsense.

      • jason says:

        robert one reason I like posting here is sometimes my frustration with the angst & wt/wt gets lessened by others, in an attempt to return the favor, much as I disliked near all of the chuck / sarah plot from 3.1 thru mid 3.13, 3.14 was my favorite episode, and since then, for some reason chuck has gotten hit by the same stupid stick that hit sarah before, but sarah seems to be rock solid toward chuck, if things get fixed in season 4, I will be 100% on board for it, if not, I doubt I will have to worry, as the whole thing will end at 4.13

    • Merve says:

      Weirdly enough, Chuck and Sarah have lost faith in each other multiple times over the course of the three seasons. The entire arc from “Imported Hard Salami” to “Crown Vic” centers around Sarah’s lack of faith in Chuck. With the episodes aired in the correct order, the arc from the end of “Santa Claus” to the end of “Best Friend” is about Chuck’s lack of faith in Sarah. In season 3, Chuck has faith in Sarah pretty much the entire way through. Sarah really only loses faith in Chuck at the end of “Final Exam.” (“Pink Slip” is more of a jilted lover kind of situation.) I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I don’t think that a lack of faith is the issue here. Perhaps it’s more of a lack of warmth. The friendly feeling between Chuck and Sarah was gone for a lot of the season, even when they did believe in each other. But faith is a thornier issue, especially for characters that have kept losing and regaining faith in each other.

      • joe says:

        Sometimes I think that TPTB were trying to substitute partnership for that warmth, Merve. I mean, several times from 3.5 through 3.11 Chuck and Sarah seemed to act like professional partners (ala Bones or one of the Law and Order franchises) and even enjoy the relationship. But it wasn’t all that warm or satisfying.

        This may be too clever by half, but I took it as a good sign. Sarah recognizing Chuck as her partner in The Mask left me wanting more than that. It left them wanting more. We got more.

      • BDaddyDL says:

        Thank GOD.
        Tiresome just doesnt seem to cover it.

      • Merve says:

        There was a lot of value in developing Chuck and Sarah as professional partners. In fact, I wish that we’d seen more of it; a few scenes in “Mask” and “Other Guy” weren’t enough. If that partnership hadn’t been developed, Chuck and Sarah would still be in the same situation they were in during “Colonel,” when Sarah was ordering Chuck around. (There’s a reason why boss-subordinate relationships are frowned upon.) Putting Chuck and Sarah on more equal professional footing wasn’t about making Chuck worthy of Sarah; it was about getting rid of that lingering boss-subordinate connection that would have made an early hookup so hollow.

        Sidenote: In fairness to Bones, the main characters claim to be “just partners” but are clearly in love with each other. That show really needs to get its act together. Imagine season 3 of Chuck but with Sarah rejecting Chuck at the end of “Other Guy” and “Ring: Part II” ending with Chuck and Sarah parting ways. Eek.

      • JC says:

        I don’t know Merve, Sarah doesn’t seem to any faith in Chuck in Fake Name or in Tic Tac either.

      • 904 says:

        They partnered very effectively in Tic Tac.
        They even have the exchange in Castle (“I thought you’d changed.”)

        In Fake Name, she tells him to hit her to sell the confrontation in the bar.

        She explicitly trusts him in spy situations beyond what she did in past seasons. That’s faith in his abilities

      • JC says:

        I’m not talking about faith in spy abilities, but in Chuck as a person. She questions whether he would help Casey in Tic Tac which is absurd. And in Fake Name she looks at everything he does in the worse possible light.

        Chuck could have saved a puppy while donating to the Salvation Army and she would’ve complained about it.

      • BDaddyDL says:

        ah but being angry at everything is about anger not a lack of trust. the no good sob that I love left me in Prague and is trying to not be my chuck anymore. Sarah was definitely at the fine line between love and hate.

      • Merve says:

        JC, I might agree with you about “Fake Name,” but not about “Tic Tac.” It would be crazy of Sarah to just assume that Chuck wouldn’t think twice about going rogue. I’m kind of with 904 on this. In season 3, Sarah demonstrated faith in Chuck’s spy abilities far beyond what she had previously demonstrated (“Angel de la Muerte” aside). As for faith in Chuck as a person, Sarah did waver in “Fake Name” and again at the end of “Tic Tac.” But those were temporary blips. She again had faith in Chuck in “Beard” and in the first half of “Final Exam.”

      • JC says:

        I agree she had faith in his spy abilities. And honestly without Chuck, her, Shaw and Casey would’ve been killed multiple times this season.

        But she did lose faith in him as a person as he got better being a spy. When she had faith in him as a person, she questioned his abilities as a spy.

        As for Tic Tac, as a viewer from what I had seen of Chuck I found it absurd she would question him helping Casey.

      • Merve says:

        I guess I really didn’t read it that way, JC. I interpreted it more as Sarah making sure that Chuck would help. I don’t think that she seriously expected Chuck to refuse, but it would have been incredibly presumptuous of her to just expect Chuck to help without considering the consequences. From a purely practical standpoint, going on a rogue mission is a big deal; I’m glad that neither of them made light of that fact.

      • JC says:

        I think we did see that scene differently. To me it came off like she thought he wouldn’t try and help Casey.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      Sorry to post and run earlier.

      I’ve read Jason article above, and several others, trying to explain away ‘Middle Arc Sarah”, and have come to the realization that, for me, it’s just not explainable in any way, shape or form. Sarah was always guarded with her feelings / emotions and any such arc had to be properly set up to be believable and it wasn’t.

      For me, Middle Arc Sarah is a complete consequence of Middle Arc Shaw, both characters make absolutely no sense and were both “fleshed out” poorly. Schwartz and Fedak could be sitting at my kitchen table drawing me pictures and it still wouldn’t make any sense.

      I grew rapidly tired of trying to interpret Sarah’s facial expressions and mannerisms in order to understand her motivation. She needed to talk more.

  10. alladinsgenie4u says:

    Thanks to Jason for a great article and thanks to all the fans whose insightful and comprehensive comments that follow his article.

    First of all I apologize for the excessive length of the post that follows and I look forward to the insightful comments on my take. Thanks in advance.

    My take on Sarah Walker’s type and her actions towards Chuck during 3.08 – 3.13

    Sarah’s type

    I am with all of those fans who say that “heroes” are the type of guys Sarah gets attracted to. IMHO her reaction at the end of Mask ” What can I say, I have a type” was a veiled plea to Chuck to see that he was indeed a hero in her eyes. Notice the disappointment in her eyes and her sigh when Chuck turns and walks away. Bryce, Cole and Shaw may have been super spies but IMHO Chuck had both of the worlds – he was a hero (even though he didn’t realize that) and he was a good person to go along with that (innocent, caring, faithful, trusty etc). The other “heroes” not so good – Bryce let her down for the mission , Cole only wanted to have fun and Shaw turned out to be a complete psycho.

    Sarah’s reactions towards Chuck (3.08 -3.13)

    The way I tried to rationalize her actions from thereon is like this – We saw in “Fake Name” that Chuck had moved on very fast to Hannah and Sarah was very uncomfortable with it. IMO the breaking point came when she saw Hannah having dinner with Chuck and the Awesomes. She knew that it was a very big step for a girlfriend of Chuck’s to have dinner with Ellie and Awesome (Remember the first season when Chuck asks her to come to dinner and meet Ellie – he says that it is a big step if their relationship was remotely real). Anyway, so when Sarah moved on to Shaw at the end of 3.08, I tried to reason with myself that she had given up hope on Chuck and felt that his relationship with Hannah had reached an important step (having dinner with the family). So she tried to find companionship with Plywood. I remember the time when “Beard” was airing that there were almost 800 uses on the NBC boards following the live commentary some users post as the episode runs along. IMO a lot o those people were anxious to see how the S/S tangle was going to be resolved. And then such came a moment when Shaw decided to go forward with the self-destruction plan for Castle with Chuck still inside. I expected Sarah to combust and see Shaw for what he really was – a cold and calculating guy. But apart from her weak pleas to Shaw to not to go forward with his plan – Sarah did nothing else. I found myself thinking that she had truly gone weak and submissive with Shaw. I believe the writers missed a golden opportunity to build the cracks in the S/S tangle.
    And at the end of 3.10 – Sarah knew that the only thing that brought Chuck back from his almost murderous state of mind was her voice and presence. In other words Chuck (the human being not the Intersect) needed her even more than before. IMO she turned her back on him then. Moving on to 3.11 and the stakate we see that she values her relationship with Chuck more and is almost convinced by Chuck’s pleas to give them another chance. But here comes the “epic” writing that pulls off another turnaround and sends her back to Plywood who just before that had manipulated her into giving Chuck his Red Test ( another opportunity the writers missed to wrap up the S/S tangle). In 3.12 when she repeatedly put down Chuck and was unwilling to listen to his explanation about what happened at the train tracks – I thought, hey look – here is Stanford happening all over again for Chuck. Back then at Stanford he needed someone to believe him and the truth about his tests and the person closest to him (Jill) let him down. Here in 3.12, when he needed Sarah to believe in him – she did the same thing Jill did all those years back. Were it not for the intervention of Ellie ( who pushed Chuck to go all the way) and Casey (at the end telling the truth)things would very well have turned differently. Which leads us to 3.13. Apart from the scene where Chuck and Sarah reconcile their feelings towards each other (DYLM question and aftermath), there were a lot of instances in the episode where Sarah did not pay heed to Chuck’s concerns about Shaw’s emotional stability. I was very surprised at this but I tried to reason with myself that she was sticking up for Shaw because she felt guilty about killing his wife and wanted to make amends by catching the Ring Director.And this blind faith in Shaw’s words “we can still be a team” almost led her to being killed by the same guy.( thankfully Chuck followed her and saved her life).

    Anyway I know she fell in love with Chuck in the starting (as per her account) and answered “yes” to the DYLM question, but I felt that the moment she realized the extent to which Chuck loved her was when he turned up in Paris to save her from certain death. As someone said above – Chuck truly won her over for life at that point in Paris. She finally had her “type” for good.

    • joe says:

      Beautifully written, genie.

      And you caught something subtle – how much Sarah’s response to Chuck’s predicament paralleled Jill’s earlier. I don’t recall anyone pointing that out!

      Isn’t it amazing, though. We all enjoyed season 1 and most every body here thought parts of season 2 ranked up there with the best tv of all time. The mid-section of S3 that you described so well had/has us all scratching our heads and typing WTFs – and we’re still talking about it.

      Love it or hate it (mostly hate it), those episodes are still commanding our attention somehow.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Not to be too flippant, but they were still obsessing over the Hindenburg and Titanic for years after they happened, too.

        And it’s no coincidence they were repeating the very same question over and over: “How could that have happened?”

      • atcdave says:

        ditto Aardvark. We’ve discussed theories on why it happened, but I hate to dignify it with attempts to understand “what they intended.” It was a total FUBAR, that should only be analyzed to ensure it is not repeated.

    • kg says:

      Genie I agree with Joe. Well done.

      Chuck did need for both Jill and Sarah to believe in him in the respective cases you refer. But this is one of the many things about Chuck that makes him special. He’s not a grudge holder. He’s always into second chances.

      He goes out with Jill again in Ex and Fat Lady. And even after she is revealed to be Fulcrum in Graviton, Chuck wants to help her escape until she crossed the line and is about to kill Sarah.

      And we all agree that Sarah has earned more, what we like to call in Vegas, juice, than Jill. So, there’s no reason not to give Walker one.

      You also reference Ellie and Casey. And without their help, things would have unfolded much differently, probably disastrously.

      But that’s the essense of the kind of person I alluded he is to so many people in another post. Loyalty is a two-way street. For people in his circle, for folks on his team, loyalty is unyielding.

  11. JLR says:

    Nicely done Jason. I still despise season 3, even after having forced myself to re-watch every episode, but you POV is appreciated.

  12. Ernie Davis says:

    There is a ton of good commentary here, but I think there is one thing everyone seems to minimize in the S3 story. As far as Sarah was concerned Chuck wasn’t available. And I’m not talking about Hannah taking her place. I’ve written about some of this before, but I’ll do a quick recap. Minus the first flashback to Castle that took place right after Chuck Versus The Ring, the first words Chuck says to Sarah are “Don’t worry this is not about us”. The last words he says to Sarah in Pink Slip are “…it was never about you” as Sarah cuts him off. Go to Three Words and his vault speech that Sarah watches.

    Chuck: … how could I do that, how could I be with you, knowing that what I’d turned my back on. Knowing that what I had in my head could help a lot of people. And you’re the one that[sic] taught me that being a spy is about something bigger, it’s about putting aside your own personal feelings for the greater good and that’s what I chose. I chose to be a spy for my friends and my family and you. I chose to be a spy because [door opens] Sarah, I love you.

    Chuck was not telling her he loved her to win her back, nor was he going back on his decision. Chuck was basically telling Sarah why he felt they couldn’t be together. He refused to put his own desire to be with her over his duty, his friends, and his family, because if he turned his back on them to be with her he couldn’t live with himself.

    Sarah had pretty much spent the entire episode telling him he couldn’t let his emotions out if he wanted to be a spy, so he rightly concluded, and re-iterated that he’d decided to be a spy, and he knew that meant giving her up, and that now that he understood she loved him he was sorry he hurt her so deeply.

    What we saw in Three Words was Chuck giving a nicer version of “I can’t. I’m sorry” than he gave in Prague. Up until Final Test he never went back on his decision and never tried to win Sarah back.

    As for Sarah she tried to repair the friendship and help him, but after Shaw showed up and convinced her that she was standing in Chuck’s way even that was pretty much put aside. Chuck may have been Sarah’s type but he just plain wasn’t available.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Ernie,

      Your summary of the S3 Chuck-Sarah relationship story seems very plausible. This could well describe the exact state TPTB intended to put the two of them in for most of the season.

      But to accept this as accurate just makes the whole affair lamentable and puts the sensibilities of the creative team in even further doubt. Because the story you’re describing is that Chuck makes this noble, selfless choice to be a spy even if it costs him what his heart holds most dear – only to realize eleven episodes later that it was all a mistake and he should have chosen the girl instead. And even though he eventually gets both, nothing refutes this reversal.

      So can we summarize Chuck’s takeaway here? Is it that being with your soul-mate takes precedence over the greater good and family? Or that no altruistic pursuit is worth it unless you can bring the girl with you? 😉

      See, for me as a fan, this makes the whole relationship story a big waste of time for the first two-thirds of the season. Now, before Merve and Co. jump all over me, I’m not referring to Chuck’s maturation and skills development being a waste, or any of the other character’s worthwhile arcs, I’m just referring to the Chuck-Sarah part of the story.

      I’d have much rather seen a story with the two of them continuously adjusting to the changes Chuck’s training was introducing into their relationship. We could have empathized with Sarah’s anguish over Chuck’s hardening heart more acutely if she was trying harder to hang on to them as a couple. Likewise, we could have sympathized with Chuck’s confusion as Sarah grew more emotionally conflicted the closer he got to throwing off his asset tag and making it possible for them to actually be together.

      But unlike what we got, we’d have also been able to enjoy the moments where Chuck’s successes did not come at the expense of his humanity, and he and Sarah could celebrate them together. In those little five-minute scenes spread throughout the season the relationship-myopic fans could have been sustained.

      • luckygirl says:

        “But to accept this as accurate just makes the whole affair lamentable and puts the sensibilities of the creative team in even further doubt. Because the story you’re describing is that Chuck makes this noble, selfless choice to be a spy even if it costs him what his heart holds most dear – only to realize eleven episodes later that it was all a mistake and he should have chosen the girl instead. And even though he eventually gets both, nothing refutes this reversal.

        So can we summarize Chuck’s takeaway here? Is it that being with your soul-mate takes precedence over the greater good and family? Or that no altruistic pursuit is worth it unless you can bring the girl with you?”

        I really just think that was just a little bit selfishness, I don’t think it negates him wanting to do things for the greater good. I can’t imagine anyone not having times of weakness when you just want something for yourself, no matter how selfless your intentions.

      • jason says:

        lucky – I hope we maybe got both, early on team B ‘saved’ awesome, in 3.7 chuck saved everyone, in 3.8 casey and chuck saved sarah and shaw, in 3.9, chuck saved morgan, in 3.10 chuck and sarah saved casey, then team B saved casey’s wife and alex, in 3.11 casey saved chuck, in 3.12 chuck saved sarah and shaw, then in 3.13 chuck saved sarah. Along the way with all this saving, he also manned up and went after the girl, in spite of a pretty strong rival and a fair amount of protesting from the lady. Selfish, maybe, but he did save sarah too, from shaw and from herself.

      • luckygirl says:

        jason – I agree we did get both. I was just trying to say him wanting Sarah didn’t negate his wanting to be a spy.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Aardvark, you raise good points. Specifically some that have occurred to me lately as I’ve been working on a full season recap for later this summer. I’ll defend neither the execution nor the length of the arc that shall not be named 😉 Nor will I defend it as the proper direction for the writers to have taken as I’m on record since before the season preferring your scenario of Chuck and Sarah working through it together, but I’ll try to address some things while keeping my powder dry for the larger post.

        I’ll get this one bit of criticism out of the way. I think the only reason Schwedak broke up Chuck and Sarah when they seemed so definitely together was because they thought they were supposed to. If season 2 ended Chuck we would have been left with an incomplete story, but the general sense that things would sort of go back to our spy team fighting the good fight, but with Chuck and Sarah more together than not. But then they got Season 3 and they reflexively broke them up, because otherwise there is no sexual tension or romance story. The front 13 remained largely intact with the now established Schwedak arc of breakup, repair, distance and PLIs, and putting Chuck and Sarah together in a semi-ambiguous way in the last episode. Hey that was the show after all, why not? So given that they came into the season repeating the same themes we got what we got. In an effort to make it seem fresh or shake things up I thought it more depressing and poorly executed, but there it is.

        On to the arc with a brief introduction. For two years Sarah ran Chuck’s life. He was a hero because she took his hand and led him down that path, but he wasn’t a hero because he decided to be, and he saw everything that had been taken from him while he was still forced to put his life on hold. As Chuck gained confidence more and more he chafed under the constraints of his life. As he came to realize he could do more with his life he saw the life he was living, as the intersect, as standing in his way. He never saw it as an opportunity for a new life, until he re-intersected. Remember, at this point he thought Sarah was gone, going off to save the world, and he’d seen Roark and Fulcrum come after him and his family even after he thought he was out and safe. Given that Chuck finally saw his calling as an opportunity and a duty, so he embraced it. Chuck has already changed dramatically. He’s taken charge of his life.

        On to season 3. Chuck decided to become a spy, and he was convinced that Sarah was the price to be paid for that, but he thought it worth the price based on what he thought he would be doing. Helping and protecting people. Sarah knew what he was in for and wasn’t sure he could survive without losing himself and his idealism. So Sarah gets her heart broken, Chuck decides to be a spy. We later see that the reason they both paid such a heavy price pursuing what they wanted. Sarah wanted love and a real life, but when she tried to have it with someone other than Chuck it was a disaster. Chuck lost the love of his life. It was because they were only tentatively going after what they wanted to try not to get hurt, but they got crushed anyway. Before Other Guy Sarah is incapable of opening up enough to make Chuck understand and before Final Exam, and possibly well into American Hero where Ellie tells him to man up Chuck still doubts himself too much to believe Sarah could love him or he’d be worthy of her love as the man he is.

        So Chuck pursues his career, thinking he has given up Sarah and telling himself he couldn’t love her or be with her. Sarah tries to help him, but becomes more and more conflicted, having discovered another side of herself with Chuck, about her role in making Chuck a spy and what she may have done to him.

        As the season progresses Chuck starts to see how Sarah lived as he experiences more of the spy life, and he also starts to question if it is all worth it. Chuck sees his new life costing him his friends and his family as his distance and lies continually erode all his personal bonds. He sees that he can never really open up to a woman and let her love him as he is, and that anyone he is involved with, be they aware or unaware of his spy life, is at risk. When he is finally on the verge of achieving the goal he’s sacrificed so much for he suddenly finds that helping people and protecting them isn’t what he’ll be asked to do. He’ll be told to kill people in cold blood without a second thought on a superiors orders. And he’s told by Sarah that it was for nothing even if he only later started to consider becoming a spy as a means to removing the barriers to a life with Sarah. I’d say at that point Chuck might decide that he made the wrong choice, that the spy life in fact wasn’t for him. His sudden turnaround isn’t just about Sarah it is also about the life he’ll be asked to live and the sudden realization it wasn’t what he thought he signed up for. He may still be serving the greater good he was willing to sacrifice so much for, but his sense of right and wrong, his soul, wasn’t part of the bargain.

        Finally realizing what Sarah was trying to do in Prague, Chuck decides she was right, and that the best thing for both of them is to do what he stopped them from doing. Chuck remains a spy solely to protect Sarah, and then after Paris they’re on the run. Both are still trying to figure out what they want, how much it will cost them, and how to get it. It’s pretty much resolved by the end of Honeymooners setting up the new ground-rules for the show.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Ernie,

        You seem to have a gift for either discerning the true intent of TPTB (or grafting a very plausible synthetic one on).

        If this post is any indication of what we’ll get in your season summary, I suggest you call it the “Chuck Season Three Study Guide” and create some Google Ads directing people who were confused by the events of S3 to it.

        Because I have the impression that very few people could pull that level of understandability out of what we were shown.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thanks for the compliment Aardvark. Even though you can’t see it my avatar is blushing. But I will say this, the people who post here are the greatest source of insight and inspiration I can imagine. I can’t count the number of times a post has made me look again at a scene and see something new, or re-consider some nuance or some plot point in a new light. Even, or perhaps especially when I don’t agree, I always learn something. So, thank you for the compliment, but know that without you guys and gals none of this would be nearly as fun or interesting. All I have to do is start a discussion or ask a question. Now that said I’m going to thank one person in particular.

        It may seem odd, since we largely take opposing views on a lot now even though we used to be pretty much on the same page before the season started, but the person who’s helped me see a lot of this in a new context is Liz James. I doubt I have to tell anyone here that if you are going to try to take on Liz’s views and offer a counter argument you really need to have your arguments and facts well prepared.

        Even though Liz doesn’t post here as much, given her new site, she’s kept in touch via e-mail with most of the editors here and we’ve bounced around a lot of ideas. I can’t thank her enough for all her ideas and discussions.

      • Merve says:

        @aardvark: I don’t think I’ve made my point of view very clear. I don’t think it’s a secret that I don’t think this season should have started with Chuck and Sarah together, but I’ve strongly disapproved of the love interests and the “running away” motif. I wanted to see Chuck and Sarah work through their issues, and then get together. That’s what they did from “Angel de la Muerte” to “Nacho Sampler” and again in “Tic Tac,” but throwing love interests into the mix put a damper on that development. Furthermore, the “running away” situation added an extra wrinkle that didn’t need to be there. But because in the end, Chuck and Sarah did work through their issues and reach important decisions, I can’t in good conscience say that their arc was entirely a waste of time; it just consisted of forward development interspersed with timewasters.

        @everyone: Maybe I don’t care so much about the Chuck/Sarah issue anymore because as far as I’m concerned, it’s been ruined since season 1. (Before anyone jumps down my throat for being a fan “since season 3,” I want to make it perfectly clear that my introduction to Chuck was the pilot episode and that I watched all the episodes in order before season 3 even aired.) Remember the arc from “Imported Hard Salami” to “Crown Vic,” where Chuck and Sarah acted like petty, vindictive teenagers? That was enough to make me stop caring. “Three Words” rubbed me the wrong way because Sarah brought back that attitude. So now, instead of thinking, “Yay, Chuck and Sarah are together! Squee!” all I can think is, “Great. They’re together. Now let’s move on.”

        See? I’m even more disillusioned than the rest of you. 😀

      • SWnerd says:

        Oh come on Merve, I know underneath that cynical sarcasm, there’s a hopeless romantic somewhere. No, I’m just messing with you; I’m actually describing myself. 🙂

        But about your season 1 arc of them acting like vindictive teenagers: I’d say that’s about where they both were emotionally. Chuck’s a guy who’s been in a slump for 5 years because he got kicked out of school and his girlfriend dumped him. Plus the whole abandonment thing with his parents. He clearly has issues. But even those pale in comparison to Sarah. Daughter of a conman, never having a stable homelife, recruited into the CIA at 18, being betrayed by her partner/lover. She’s a freaking emotional basket case. Then this guy comes along who causes all these conflicting feelings because he’s unlike most men in her life and she doesn’t know how to deal. They were both quite a mess. They still kind of were through all 3 seasons. But they’ve been working on it and it’s gotten much better.

      • Merve says:

        SWnerd, that’s a great explanation for their character motivations and I totally get that. But as I’ve been saying for pretty much the entirety of season 3, things that make sense aren’t necessarily fun, and things that are fun don’t necessarily make sense. 🙂

        And I’m sure there’s an idealistic romantic hiding somewhere beneath my abrasive, cynical exterior, but you probably need an hydraulic drill to find it.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        @Merve: I called you out in my post purely because I remembered you mentioning that theories about the first two-thirds of the season being skippable tended to make you see red, and I wanted to head that off since that wasn’t what I was trying to say.

        Technically, the position you just stated is not incompatible with my own, with the slightest niggle being that by my definition, a story arc interspersed with “time-wasters” *is* a waste of my time. In a show with so little screen time to move so many different plots, wasting time is also an egregious sin. Nevertheless, you’re correct that not everything was a waste. Even if I was rewriting the season, I’d be keeping quite a few parts, even of episodes I hated.

    • kg says:

      And I recall Sarah admitting to Chuck in Tic Tac her understanding what he (a relationship with her) sacrificed to become a spy.

      But assuming this plausibility you outline, Ernie, I imagine TPTB went awry when Chuck attempts to have a real, and not fool-around fling, with Hannah. My proof? He brought her home for the dinner with the family and put her in Sarah’s seat. Of course, that could have been used to tweak the fandom’s emotions.

      And the other big goof was Sarah with Shaw. I can understand, but not necessarily approve, some gratuitous intercourse with another top spy she admires professionally. Because, as you say, the man she supposedly loves is unavailable.

      But her revelations to Shaw in Fake Name? Showing more and more real feelings in later episodes? Freaking out so when he decides to give himself up to the Ring?

      Genie is correct, where was Sarah’s complete loss of emotional control when Shaw wants (like we saw in Best Friends) to destroy castle with Chuck in it? Doesn’t she still love Chuck? We’re told she does until the end of Final Exam.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        KG, I agree TPTB went awry at several points. I agree Hannah was a low point. You’d think that Chuck would have figured out relationships with non-spies were going to be problematic. In having him pursue one anyway I think they were trying to highlight how callous Chuck was becoming toward non-spies. He continually put Devon over a barrel and stressed his sister’s marriage, he basically ignored Morgan to the point he wasn’t even aware he had a crush on Hannah, and he’d essentially shut Ellie out of his life almost completely. He starts to get an inkling of how bad things are at his dinner party. Devon has to lie, Ellie is complimenting him for something he had no part in, and Hannah is toasting him for bringing her into his life and family and making her feel completely satisfied with her life. And the whole dinner party was done on a whim to get him out of a sticky situation with Hannah and Ellie. So here he was, living a lie to make things easier for himself, but he’d just keep making it worse the longer he went on. Sarah seeing the same thing and saying so made it crystalize, and Hannah drove the point home.

      • luckygirl says:

        The two situations are very different to me. In Beard, could Sarah have been more emotional sure, and I’m positive she would have got more desperate if he had actually made the call. But really,what could she have done? This is a reality for spies if they are in a predicament where the information they have is compromised they do what needs to be done. In Chuck’s case it’s especially important, he’s got every bit of the governments information in his head. It would be crazy not to neutralize any threat even at the expense of Chuck’s life. Shaw’s plan was absolutely idiotic in this case but I can’t fault the sentiment.

        In American Hero however Shaw’s plan was a suicide mission that didn’t need when it didn’t have to be. He was basically just throwing his life away when he didn’t have to.

        That to me is why Sarah seemed to fight harder. One might be neccessary the other not.

      • kg says:

        Luckygirl, I do give her credit for trying to talk Shaw out of it, and he hadn’t made the actual call yet as you say, but I can’t agree totally with the spy way of thinking.

        Killing Chuck and Morgan and destroying an entire base is justfied over information and secrets we now know the enemy seems to know at least half of anyway?

        I mean look at Beckman. Where did doing everything by the book and all the supposed classification, cloak and daggers, keeping everything a secret get her? Got her exactly no where with the other generals and I think helped Shaw get her thrown out and detained.

        It was Chuck, Morgan and Awesome – three guys who in her wildest dreams could never ever save the day, came through in their unique way and did just that. Chuck,countless times. Morgan and Awesome when ALL seemed lost.

        I’m just sayin that although things have worked out for Chuck and Sarah – they found a way to co-exist as spies and a couple, this strange hold Shaw had over Sarah is still puzzling. Fortunately, the five minutes she bought for Chuck, as a favor to her from Shaw, was enough.

        I can understand Sarah thinking Shaw’s suicide mission was senseless and not necessary. I’m sorry, but the situations are not that different to me.

        Chuck and Morgan were going to die because of a decision by Shaw, who bites on a setup and leaves Chuck (the intersect with all these secrets and such) alone in this situation. It’s Shaw’s fault he’s there alone and now Shaw is going to kill him. And Sarah doesn’t go to pieces over this? Sarah doesn’t emit one tear? She doesn’t call him out for this travesty?

        But, when Shaw decides to give himself up to the Ring, she goes crazy and tears up a river. Shaw tries to remind her that they are spies, in a way tells her to suck it up.

        After Chuck locks her down, Sarah believes that they both will be killed. She knows Beckman has ordered an air assault. Worried yes. Crazy? Not even close.

        Perhaphs I’m nitpicking, but I just expected more from Sarah on Chuck’s behalf. And I admit I understand why Sarah likes Shaw. But I was surprised and disappointed at the extent to which she apparently cared and felt for Shaw.

      • luckygirl says:

        “Killing Chuck and Morgan and destroying an entire base is justfied over information and secrets we now know the enemy seems to know at least half of anyway?”

        I think thats exactly what the government would do to protect even just the other half of the information. They had no clue what the Ring wanted or what they knew. They could have known Chuck was the intersect and torturing him for information or tempting him with variuos offers. I really don’t think in that situation no matter what Chuck has done for the country he would be spared.

        “I mean look at Beckman. Where did doing everything by the book and all the supposed classification, cloak and daggers, keeping everything a secret get her? Got her exactly no where with the other generals and I think helped Shaw get her thrown out and detained.”

        By the book is still by the book. In that field you know what you sign up for the possibilty of getting screwed over is part of it. You still have to follow procedures and protocol.

        “It was Chuck, Morgan and Awesome – three guys who in her wildest dreams could never ever save the day, came through in their unique way and did just that. Chuck,countless times. Morgan and Awesome when ALL seemed lost.”

        They absolutely did but Beckman has a resposibility to protect information and civilians. If it came down to protecting those few or information to protect many, the choice has to be the latter.

        “Chuck and Morgan were going to die because of a decision by Shaw, who bites on a setup and leaves Chuck (the intersect with all these secrets and such) alone in this situation. It’s Shaw’s fault he’s there alone and now Shaw is going to kill him. And Sarah doesn’t go to pieces over this? Sarah doesn’t emit one tear? She doesn’t call him out for this travesty?”

        I’m not disagreeing it was Shaw’s fault he was there alone or his solution was stupid, but the logic behind it was not, at least to me.

        I think Sarah may have been a bit in shock and then went a bit into denial and reasoned Chuck would find some way to survive. She’s a big believer in him in life and death situations.

        “But, when Shaw decides to give himself up to the Ring, she goes crazy and tears up a river. Shaw tries to remind her that they are spies, in a way tells her to suck it up.

        After Chuck locks her down, Sarah believes that they both will be killed. She knows Beckman has ordered an air assault. Worried yes. Crazy? Not even close.”

        I don’t think she entirely processed exactly what Chuck was planning because up to that point the Shaw save wasn’t something they would have expected from Chuck.

        “Perhaphs I’m nitpicking, but I just expected more from Sarah on Chuck’s behalf. And I admit I understand why Sarah likes Shaw. But I was surprised and disappointed at the extent to which she apparently cared and felt for Shaw.”

        You’re not nitpicking,you feel how you feel. For me it didn’t prove how much she cared for Shaw because A) Who would leave somebody they care about(for all she knows still in the hospital)with no note or phone call as she was planning at the end and B) She was totally kissing Chuck in castle, when Shaw could have walked back in and seen them. He had all thereason in the world to think they were still together at that point (if he hadn’t been a nutbar). I think she’s a very loyal partner and would do whatever she could to save them if its at all possible.

    • joe says:

      You guys blow me away with your commentary and analysis.

      Ernie, that’s an amazing catch. I’m quite convinced that in Prague Chuck chose to be a spy over Sarah, but he did it (as both you and he said) because he loved her. Sarah got that eventually (perhaps before I did).

      @aardvark & @luckygirl, You’re quite correct that the results invalidates the nobility of Chuck’s choice. But that’s the point, I think. He was wrong. Putting the spy life ahead of Sarah was the wrong decision.

      All I can think to say is that putting Sarah ahead of the spy life was the wrong decision too. That’s what they vowed to do at the beginning of Honeymooners and that lasted 0.9 episodes. When both Sarah and Chuck remain true to themselves and to each other, then it seems to work best.

      @kg – wow. You have me reconsidering the scene in Castle (Shaw about to blow it up). My first impression was that it was almost a throwaway – there only to let Morgan walk out of the mist with a smug look on his face to great “Agent” Walker and to discredit Shaw a bit in the process.

      But Sarah’s inaction is every bit as confusing as her inaction towards Rafe in The Fake Name. Unless I think of her as completely lost (or perhaps, completely Shaw’d), Sarah is badly OOC.

      • Kisku says:

        I see many of you have very selective memory of what was happening in some episodes. If you forgot Sarah was trying to free herself from Rafe grasp, her look showed it all that what she is about to do may get her killed and if not for Casey it may have.

        And frankly some of you guys would only be happy if in Beard Sarah just pulled her gun and shoot Shaw then and there. But even if she didn’t try to kill Shaw, she did save Chuck/Morgan and we don’t know what she would do if Morgan didn’t come out, because there was look of panic on her face just before Morgan came out (and Casey was there too, you didn’t seem to have a problem with his reaction).
        Btw i think Shaw action in Beard we suppose to take as something a profesional agent would do and not an action of some evildoer or crazy maniac.

      • SWnerd says:

        Kisku-

        I was actually going to say something along the same lines about “Beard”. There was only a split second between Shaw telling her the time was up and the freezer door opening. The look on her face was pure panic because she knew she had to do something quick. She just wasn’t sure what yet.

      • Merve says:

        Sarah’s actions (or lack thereof) in the Orange Orange didn’t bother me. What bothered me was that she was willing to stay with Shaw even after that. Chalking it up to Sarah’s ability to compartmentalize and separate spy-Shaw from lover-Shaw doesn’t work for me because the previous episode was about Sarah’s inability to compartmentalize. (And that’s kind of ironic because she was trying to teach Chuck how to compartmentalize in “Fake Name,” but I’m actually okay with that kind of irony.)

      • SWnerd says:

        You’re right, it’s more disconcerting that she stayed with him. But she did the same thing in Final Exam. She stayed with Shaw even after he manipulated her into giving Chuck the red test assignment.

      • Merve says:

        I’m a little more sympathetic about the situation in “Final Exam” because Shaw is the only person to whom Sarah could talk and who could understand the gravity of a red test. (Wow, I can’t believe I just defended my least favourite episode of the series! But to be fair, most of my problems with that episode don’t stem from Chuck/Sarah stuff.)

      • luckygirl says:

        Merve – I blame Shaw for Chuck being alone and the stupid solution he came up with but in that situation something was going to have to be done and they didn’t have many options. Chuck was expendable in that situation to keep the Ring from somehow maybe learning the intersect secrets and whatever else there was in castle. They were going to cut off the foot to save the leg. Chuck being the intersect isn’t Shaw’s fault so the problems that arise for Chuck from being the intersect aren’t either. It’s just the name of the game to Sarah. Anyone of them might have had to make a similar choice.

      • Merve says:

        Luckygirl, that’s certainly a cogent argument for Sarah’s actions. I can see why Sarah wouldn’t take Shaw’s professional actions personally. However, throughout the series, she does take Chuck’s actions personally, even if they are of a professional nature. That can be attributed to the fact that she’s in love with Chuck and isn’t in love with Shaw. But then to explain Sarah’s apparent desire for some sort of personal connection with Shaw, contrary to her apparent ability to compartmentalize, I would have to say that Sarah was seeking a personal connection, period; it wasn’t about Shaw. She would have revealed her real name to anyone who would listen. But then to explain the fact that she seemingly cares a lot about Shaw in “American Hero,” I’d have to say that that concern was purely professional concern for her teammate and that their kiss was purely sexual. It makes sense, in a weird way, but it’s all pretty tenuous.

      • SWnerd says:

        That’s a lot of explanation but in some twisted way it does make sense. I don’t think a television show should need so much rationalization to make sense of the character motivations though.

      • Kisku says:

        They showed us before with Bryce in Breakup episode, that Sarah has no problem separating her spy duty with personal life with those guys. Same with Shaw, she can compartmentalize better with him, because her feeling for him are very shallow, just safe partnership, while her love for Chuck is much deeper and emotional. Also similary how Chuck put her, she also put him on the pedestal. So she has higher expectation for him, than for Shaw/Bryce types. It’s not really fair, but Chuck often did the same and she understood it toward the end of the arc.

      • Kisku says:

        I don’t particulary like this scene in American hero, but for me the rationalization for her behvior was that after she thought she lost Chuck for good.

        Remember that Sarah was in emotional crisis at the time, as Fedak stated himself and as a daddy issue girl with abandonment problems, she always need someone to get attached to. So when Shaw was going to abandon her too, she cracked.

      • Kisku says:

        Btw i noticed one thing, that some writers are better at writing certain material, Ali Adler, those 2 new writers Judkins/LeFranc or Matt Miller are good at writing believable emotional stories for the characters, while Phil Kleemer while he seems to be able to write good geeky stuff, he falls short on the other front, as his episodes (Mask, American Hero) proved.

      • Merve says:

        Phil Klemmer wrote “Suburbs” and Matt Miller was also responsible for “American Hero.”

      • Kisku says:

        So maybe he was responsible for the better parts of the American Hero episode, since about 80% of it worked well for me, only part that didn’t was all “Shaw sacrificing himself”, as it was such a cheesfest of epic proportions.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree with the cheesefest comment. If it was supposed to re-inforce what a heroic guy Shaw was (which I think it was based on the other characters lines) in the end it just made him look remarkably stupid and inept once again. I get that it’s so we can see Chuck be the real selfless hero, but it’s another one of those elements that fell flat.

      • jason says:

        two more sarah shaw things – first the line she said to chuck in 3.17, was interesting, are you ok with this or something like that – is she saying ‘this is going to be really bad, brace yourself’, or more ‘I know you don’t like this subject, hang in there’? Seemingly neither Sarah nor Shaw really have confirmed the intimate nature of their relationship, it has been hinted at SO often – the kama sutra book in the ‘loft’ for example, just seems odd, thought shaw might make some comment in 3.18/19 like ‘I know you miss making love to me, everyone does’, instead he was almost tauntingly jealous sounding using the words ‘your boyfriend’, interesting

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @jason – regarding your comment about the intimacy between Sarah and Shaw and what was hinted about it in 3.17, I have a question. Are we to believe that they were physically intimate right from the end of 3.08 onwards or did they get intimate in D.C only?

      • ez says:

        It wasn’t really hinted that they were intimate before she spent the day together in his apartment and that was the day after the red test.

      • jason says:

        common sense says after 3.8, even after 3.7, which would explain why she sort of tried breaking up with him beginning of 3.8 and rushed to his arms at 3.8’s hotel and castle scenes

      • joe says:

        @jason – about Sarah’s “Are you okay with this?” comment: Chuck’s always been insecure verging on jealous with regards to Sarah’s love life. He even stalked her on the date she had with “a much older man” (who turned out to be her father). I took it that Sarah’s comment could be translated into “Chuck” something like “I know that you have insecurities, and this is going to sound bad. But please trust in me now anyway.”

        I’m getting paranoid. TPTB could have been speaking to the fans too, through Sarah, the way they have been all season. They might have been yanking our chain a little about our lack of faith in them and how this relationship was going to turn out.

        Of course, whether that lack of faith was deserved or not is a whole ‘nother story…

      • jason says:

        you’re prob right joe, talked to my son last night about tv, he is power watching the lost episodes, after a couple of guys on his college basketball team got him interested in it, my son said he would hate lost watching it weekly, but loves all the chaos since he gets it resolved an hour later, I think some of that is true of chuck, I watched 1&2 in a matter of days, had I had to wait for Beefcake, jill, lou, bryce to get resolved, I doubt I would have become a rapid chuck fan, season 3 was worse cause it was drawn out, lots of the critics did not mind the middle 6 as much, but they saw I think many of them all at once, for CS, it indeed was 12 hrs and 55 minutes of angst of 5 minutes of satisfaction, some may like that and are willing to trust, I do not think one can make a successful show that appeals to both some warmth and some comedy using that premise however??????

      • Merve says:

        @Kisku: Max Denby probably came up with the whole “Shaw sacrificing himself” thing because he was responsible for the story of the episode. Klemmer and Miller wrote the teleplay.

        To be honest, it’s kind of silly to try to figure out exactly which writer is responsible for what. All the writers have some input on every episode. That’s why there’s a writers’ room.

  13. luckygirl says:

    “But then to explain Sarah’s apparent desire for some sort of personal connection with Shaw, contrary to her apparent ability to compartmentalize, I would have to say that Sarah was seeking a personal connection, period; it wasn’t about Shaw. She would have revealed her real name to anyone who would listen.”

    I think that exactly what happened because really who else was there? She’s coming from a place of sheer isolation at that point. After years of her walls being chipped away at by Chuck, where she had friendship, understanding, affection; to go from that to having nothing and no one. It would be a terribly lonely existence and enough to make anyone desperate for human contact.

    “But then to explain the fact that she seemingly cares a lot about Shaw in “American Hero,” I’d have to say that that concern was purely professional concern for her teammate and that their kiss was purely sexual.”

    I think that is true as well. You can care about someone’s well being without wanting to be with them and at the very least they were friends who bonded over mutual loss. Friends with benefits I would say.

    ” It makes sense, in a weird way, but it’s all pretty tenuous.”

    I could be totally wrong, but that is just how I saw it.

  14. kg says:

    The saddest part of the Shaw-Sarah relationship is that her original instincts were correct. She had never heard of this guy, she was unimpressed and uninterested. She was correct in thinking that he was overated and egomaniacal.

    There have been a lot of good attempts to explain exactly why she let her guard down, cared for the guy and believed in him. Competence-wise he never gave her a legitimate reason. He made mistakes repeatedly.

    Some have suggested that since Sarah thought Chuck was unavailable, she gravitated and basically settled for Shaw. But why? What changed? She and Chuck weren’t together when Plywood Breath first showed up.

    • luckygirl says:

      I think it started because of Hannah and lasted because of Chuck seemingly not being Chuck.

    • np says:

      She was taken by how such a great spy and hero he was. Lol

      Nah, mostly because of Hannah and how seeing Chuck changing affected her. Trying to recreate what she had with Chuck.

  15. Joeeph (can't be Joe) says:

    There seems to be as many different theories about Sarah’s reason for hooking up with Agent Idiot Face as there are posters on this subject.

    There lies the biggest issue with Sarah and her type, it was poorly shown and explaned, and the show and the fans suffered for it.

  16. sd says:

    I have so enjoyed the posts…but imho it’s always the most simple of reasons…and in this case it’s called rebound…c’mon, we’ve all done it–perhaps not with a super spy with a creepy countenance and perfect hair…but hey…a girl can dream 🙂

    • kg says:

      Chuck and Sarah were done and already not together before Shaw appeared.

      Certainly not in the hotel, but from the roof scene on Sarah was attracted to Cole Barker. There’s no evidence of such toward Shaw until the end of Mask and there’s no evidence of a credible reason why.

    • Merve says:

      I can buy the rebound thing, sure. But why the heck was Shaw attracted to Sarah?

      • BDaddyDL says:

        I’m sorry, maybe I’m dense, but uh Merve gay men thinks she’s hot

      • Merve says:

        That’s all well and good, BDaddyDL, but Shaw never really commented on Sarah’s looks (until “Subway,” if my memory serves me correctly). Plus, the fact that he lost his wife made him seem as if he would be the kind of guy who would desire a deeper emotional connection. I guess that he could have been capable of having “real” relationships and “spy” relationships, but he wasn’t introduced to the audience with that dichotomy. In his spy life, he was initially shown to be all about business. But then in “Mask,” he started hitting on Sarah for no apparent reason. I don’t understand the shift in his behaviour.

      • luckygirl says:

        From what I’ve gathered spies seem to see missions with other spies as ports in the storm. They tend to gravitate towards what they know and understand for companionship. Sarah was probably just the only attractive female agent around and he was lonely.

  17. kg says:

    I’m happy to report that I owe Sarah an apology. I found the scene from Beard with her and Shaw when Chuck and Morgan were locked down deep in castle.

    She was a lot more worried and terrified than I had recalled a couple of days ago. She also made an impassioned plea to Shaw. To some it might appear as a beg or plea, but because of Shaw’s attitude she made a gallant attempt to justify her position less emotionally and thinking like a spy. That doesn’t mean she was any less terrified of losing Chuck.

    It might have been luckygirl who mentioned that although she doesn’t always convey to Chuck her faith and belief in him, she still does very much. I’m just thinking again she tried hard not to convey that aspect to Shaw here. And I do recall in Mask, when it appeared the two of them were close to dying from the gas, it was Sarah who assured Shaw “not to worry because Chuck would find a way.” Or Something very close.

    “You can’t destroy the castle, Chuck’s down there,” Sarah said.

    “So is every piece of intelligence we have,” Shaw countered. “And not just of the Ring. Everything.”

    Please,” she pleaded. “Just give Chuck five more minutes…for me.”

    “Sorry Sarah,” Shaw cut her off. “You can’t think of Chuck (I hate this clown). You’ve got to think like a spy.”

    “I am thinking like a spy,” a now more animated Sarah said. “Chuck is a member of my tam and served this country well. And for all that he has done it’s (five more minutes) the least we can do.”

    As we know, the five extra minutes were just enough, but yeah I admit it, much like Chuck really didn’t believe he and Sarah would become traitors in their future (Role Models), I believe Sarah would have thought of something more dramatic to stop Shaw from following through.

  18. joe says:

    Everyone, I’d like to apologize. We’ve been having some problems with Verizon this evening, and it’s really hampered our ability to get up the next post, the recap of 3.17 – Chuck vs. The Living Dead. We’ll have it up sometime tomorrow morning, I’m sure.

    But until then, I very much appreciate the way you’ve carried on this conversation. The passion you all have for the show is obvious.

  19. Joeeph (can't be Joe) says:

    All Shaw had to say, in his office before Sarah clocks him in 3.18, was “I played you all like a fiddle, and you never knew”, and the entire season makes a lot more sense from all perspectives.

    • Merve says:

      I can only assume that you’re being facetious because Shaw being evil all along would raise a lot more questions. (For example, then why would the Ring want him dead?)

    • herder says:

      I don’t think so as we were supposed to beleive that the relationship was real, if he was playing her all along then it couldn’t be real. As I said earlier, the use of the words ” I guess I have a type ” was supposed to explain Sarah’s attraction and Shaw’s desirability. It didn’t which is why several months later we are still trying to figure it out.

      • kg says:

        Exactly what we’ve been trying to convey Herder.

        I don’t think anyone is disputing that Sarah has a “type.” Shaw simply never fit the bill. She wasn’t impressed with the guy for three or four episodes and then out of nowhere she is.

        It was just wrong. Sarah is better and smarter than that. TPTB made her look bad.

  20. jason says:

    If a better shaw-sarah love story had been told would fans have liked season 3 more or less?

    I think most would agree both the cole and bryce stories were told better, were those less disagreeable to others? I know my answer is pretty easy to this ?’s – curious how others felt?

    Another ?, does anyone have comments what kind of role the show may have for a significant male recurring guest star in the future, if any?

    • OldDarth says:

      ‘If a better shaw-sarah love story had been told would fans have liked season 3 more or less?’

      For myself I would answer yes I would have liked Season 3 more contingent on 2 conditions:

      First the show would have to sell the relationship. Which they never did.

      Second, if a storyline is going to be trotted out then give it the appropriate attention.
      Nothing irritates me more than timid or muddled story telling.

      That being said the best direction the show could have taken with Hannah and Shaw would have been to have left them as ‘Potential’ Love Interests as we were initially led to believe instead of the ‘Actual’ Love Interests they turned out to be.

      ‘Another ?, does anyone have comments what kind of role the show may have for a significant male recurring guest star in the future, if any?’

      A compatriot/ally/friend of Orion, perhaps?

      • JC says:

        I have to agree they were too afraid to sell the relationship on screen. So it became frustrating as a viewer to figure out what was going on. That’s why the interrogation scene in Living Dead angered me. It felt like a cop out to sell the relationship after the fact.

        By making Shaw a LI they never had time to develop Shaw as anything. He wasn’t credible mentor, spy, Ring Expert or LI.

    • herder says:

      If others are thinking that Mama B was Orion’s handler sort of like Sarah to Chuck then a recurring guest star might be the talent spotter that first brought him into the spy game. Sort of a Bryce to Chuck but for Papa B or a Graham to Sarah.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      No – having Shaw be a LI or PLI was, IMO, a mistake. It screwed up Shaw being both a mentor and idealized role-model for Chuck. So no, as a fan, I would not have liked it better.

      If they couldn’t live without a PLI for Sarah, they should have brought in another nerd – someone who exemplified what Chuck used to be like before he decided he’d become a spy. Then, Chuck could not only see how the direction he was going was robbing him of the very things Sarah found appealing about him, but also that she was being attracted by those very same things in his replacement. There’s a new geometry for you – Chuck basically competing with the old version of himself.

      A ‘significant, reocurring male guest start in the future’? Okay, how about a replacement for Graham? A new CIA director that Team B could play against Beckman when she won’t give them what they need? 😉

      • jason says:

        aardvark – my ‘type’ theory is based on sarah is attracted to Chuck the person, not chuck type of guy, hence a bryce / cole guy was required (any guy that was the type) – hence Shaw – as the story fell so flat on its face, didn’t fedak try to tell us this shaw is sarah’s type

        darth or others – would not the fear of telling the story be a pretty good sign to the creative team that the story was a bad idea?

      • OldDarth says:

        “could not the fear of telling the story be a pretty good sign to the creative team that the story was a bad idea?”

        We will never know what was going on behind the scenes so that is a question that can not properly be answered.

      • OldDarth says:

        ‘If they couldn’t live without a PLI for Sarah, they should have brought in another nerd – someone who exemplified what Chuck used to be like before he decided he’d become a spy. ‘

        That would have been a great idea. It should have gone further and had Hannah as a spy too. Total reversal of previous LIs for Chuck and Sarah.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        @Jason: Yes, Fedak stated in an interview that Shaw was supposed to be Sarah’s “perfect match” in some alternate universe (that, presumably, doesn’t have Chuck in it). That he actually believes that a preening, shallow, egomaniacal imbecile like Shaw is the right match for an emotionally-stunted, deeply conflicted time-bomb of a woman trying to get out from under years of flawed upbringing is beyond me. If I had to guess, I’d say he just doesn’t see that Sarah’s story of recovery and redemption is as or even more interesting than Chuck’s journey to become an improbable superhero.

        But honestly, Jason, I think the “like attracts like” point they were trying to make again with Shaw they had already pounded to death with Bryce and Cole. As far as I’m concerned, the end of S2 should have brought an end to that same, tired lesson. While I won’t wail and stamp my feet if they do a quick riff on how these characters no longer have the same effect on the committed couple that they did before, I could also go on with my life just fine if they skip it. For this show, more PLI’s is like the “third rail” of plot devices at this point. Don’t frakkin touch it if they know what’s good for them.

        @OldDarth: What I like best about a nerd PLI for Sarah (although I would, as I said, have preferred NO PLI) is that it’s complimentary with the conflict in her S3 journey. Instead of people asking “why the heck is Sarah turning away from Chuck only to embrace someone who exemplifies the very characteristics she’s repulsed by?”, they could easily intuit that she’s being drawn to the newcomer because his displays of genuineness and compassion are sharp reminders of everything Chuck is being trained to forsake.

        This would have split the duties of mentor and PLI, allowing the delicious conflict where Chuck believes he must choose between: (A) following his mentor and actually becoming a spy superstar (realizing his idealized self-image) but never having Sarah as anything more than a professional partner, or: (B) dumping his quest to be a spy and trying to wrest Sarah back from his nerd rival. Each episode, the tension would notch upward as Chuck’s distance to full agent status decreases while Sarah’s attraction to the new nerd increases.

        This could setup the revelatory ending of S3.0, where Chuck demonstrates to Sarah (through a much more clever story than WE were told) that he’s still “her” Chuck on the inside, just a more confident and capable version that can handle BOTH sides of her life, unlike PLI nerd who can’t. This resolves the conflict, everyone’s happy, etc, etc…

        All just water under a bridge in Paris, now.

    • Merve says:

      If I had understood why Shaw was pursuing Sarah, then yes, things would have made more sense.

      • joe says:

        For me it’s just the opposite, Merve. If I had any clue why Sarah did not reject Shaw (before he tried to kill her, anyway), I would have been happier.

      • Merve says:

        For Sarah, Shaw = rebound. I get it. For Shaw, Sarah = friend with benefits? quasi-girlfriend? convenient “hole?” replacement wife?

        Guest characters are still characters, and in developing their actions and motivations, the writers need to take the same care as they do with regular characters.

      • kg says:

        Merve you aren’t the only one to describe the situation as a rebound. Not picking on you here, I just can’t buy it as a rebound.

        Chuck and Sarah were already broken up and not together BEFORE Shaw arrived.

      • Merve says:

        I agree that Shaw as a love interest (or even Hannah for that matter) was wholly unnecessary; I just think that it’s easier to explain why Sarah just fell into Shaw’s arms than to explain why Shaw went after Sarah in the first place.

      • 904 says:

        kg,
        I think it works as a rebound because although Chuck and Sarah weren’t together, after The Three Words, they were in a holding pattern, working on “being friends.” We knew they still loved each other (and she knew he loved her). During that time, neither of them showed a sense of urgency to move on beyond their jobs…until Hannah showed up and Chuck reciprocated her interest.
        Previously, Sarah might not have had Chuck, but she hadn’t totally lost him yet. But Hannah and her perception of him losing his essential “Chuckness” was when she “lost” him. Then she rebounded.

    • jason says:

      the reason I asked about a male guest star, is if another shaw character is introduced (super-spy, confident, beefcakey body and looks), watching both sarah’s and chuck’s vs the theory I wrote about would be interesting. Will Sarah still be bothered? Will Chuck still cower? I think the answer is no and no.

    • Merve says:

      Since everyone seems to be confused about the Shaw-Chuck-Sarah love triangle, this simple cartoon explains it very nicely. (Just replace “Stephen” with “Chuck” and “Skeleton Harvester” with “Shaw.”)

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Hah! Priceless.

        Ah, the pathos of being stuck in the “friend zone”, turned up to 11.

        But you really don’t think this fits, do you? If it did, Chuck’s toast.

      • joe says:

        Spooky-good, Merve.

        Just don’t tell me that smiling wryly at the humor means I still have some psycho-sexual issues from adolescence to work out. Okay? 😉

      • Merve says:

        On the contrary, Joe, I think that it’s actually a bit of foreshadowing. Clearly, Shaw plans to harvest Stephen’s skeleton, which makes sense because Stephen was killed next to a cellular regeneration lab. 😀

      • jason says:

        chuck and sarah were broken up, shaw was her type, she hooked up with him, the first time chuck tried in 3.11, he got 95% of the way to winning her back – took 5 minutes, then in the most epically contrived moment in the show, the red test split sarah from chuck again, it took one more episode and more ‘epic’ (man I love that word fedak) contrivedness (now that cannot be a word) and chuck got sarah back, not exactly a strong commitment to shaw, the strong commitment was to stoking the flame of angst as long as possible

  21. Ernie Davis says:

    Frankly I think one of the problems with Shaw was he had too much screen time with no real progress in his storyline, so I think Shaw or a recurring male guest star should be patterned more like Bryce or Carina, blow in to town for an episode or two to shake things up, then go.

    That said, if they were going to have Shaw around as much as they did they needed to, as said, tell a better story. After a very quick start in Mask, Sham basically tread water from Fake Name through American Hero. Shaw as a mentor, who essentially comes between Chuck and Sarah for professional reasons, worked pretty well in First Class. Shaw essentially forcing Sarah to let go might have been re-inforced a bit by taking out the creepy kissing and the poison gas talk in Mask (and the backrub from hell), that was just too quick. Leave some of the Shaw/Sarah tension over coffee and the “have we slept together” part. The creepy neck kissing really didn’t work unless the idea was to make Shaw totally unsympathetic and make Sarah look like a total flake. This leaves Mask as a transition to Fake Name, where Sarah sucumbing to Shaw’s (ahem) charm after a more gradual buildup spanning introduction in 3.4, colleagues in 3.5, confidants in 3.6 & 3.7 before LI at the end of 3.8 might have worked.

    Still there were some structural problems with the Shaw character. As someone said, he made a much better villain, so if he’d been bad from the beginning it would have been better (with the obvious need to explain that the Ring plot to “kill him” was a setup similar to Leader’s “capture” in Gravitron), but he couldn’t be bad from the beginning AND know Chuck was the intersect without a far more convoluted plot. So he had to be good but turn bad, but he wasn’t ever really a sympathetic character, which makes the transition tedious rather than tragic.

    But when it comes right down to it this all goes back to the original sin of s3 that some have alluded to. Chuck and Sarah broke up and each persued another because, well everyone knows that’s the way you do it. No other path, other than a breakup and another round of PLI’s with a resolution in the final episode was even considered by TPTB.

  22. Sarah Sam says:

    It was what it was. Total BS that ruined sarah’s character and one of the all time great love stories on television. ‘ Nuff said.

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