S3 Revisited: Chuck vs. The Living Dead (3.17)

Don’t Lie, Chuck.

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Shields up, Morgan!

Yes, no matter how many times you view the episode, it’s still about Chuck’s lies.   But here’s the thing.  If I stop there, with Chuck and his lies, then I’ve missed much of the point.    You see, he’s not the only one fabricating the truth, withholding the truth, and playing games with the truth.    We can make up a list:

  • Chuck thinks Shaw is alive and withholds that from Sarah “…because Sarah has a history with men.” (says Morgan), and he lies to Sarah outright about the seriousness of his problems with the intersect.  Chuck also hasn’t told Stephen that he works for the CIA, or that he re-intersected, and he intentionally keeps Ellie completely out of the loop. But…
  • Sarah hasn’t told Chuck about how serious she had gotten with Shaw in Washington, and despite everything, she hasn’t shared with Chuck anything about her past, personal life. And…
  • Devon hasn’t told Ellie about the CIA and about Casey.  And…
  • Ellie hasn’t told Devon about the CIA and about Casey.  And…
  • Morgan doesn’t tell Devon that Ellie is cheating when he think so, and doesn’t tell Sarah about Chuck’s concerns about Shaw until she forces him to.   And..
  • Casey doesn’t tell Morgan that Shaw is dead, leaving him to cower in his office for hours, and spies on Ellie.  But don’t forget that…
  • Stephen hasn’t told Chuck about the problems with the intersect, and he hasn’t told Ellie about Orion, or about the Intersect or about Chuck.


It’s an impressive list and no one is completely innocent here.  That’s a shame, really, because all these characters have excellent reasons for holding the truth so closely.   Usually it’s to protect someone from unnecessary worry and other times it’s because the truth is not certain.

Sarah: I think you should be honest with the people you love.  And that goes for me, too.”
Chuck: I know – I know, Sarah. I’m sorry.  I wanted to tell you about Shaw.  But it was just a dream, and I wanted to be sure before I worried you.”
Sarah: If you dreamed that Shaw was alive, then you dreamed it for a reason.  I mean, the doctor said you’re healthy, and your dreams can be as accurate as your flashes.  Right?

The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Nazareth and Jeffster are right.  Love Hurts.  It’s a fitting lament at this point, because Chuck’s only come half-clean, and what remains will hurt Sarah badly.  Everyone is going to get hurt.

Art, Good!   Commercialism, Bad.   Evil.  Weird.  Chubby.

Heh! Even Big Mike has been withholding from Jeffster.

Things are not so dire though, because one step at a time, the truth will out.  Sarah may be in love, but she is no fool and easily gets Morgan to admit what Chuck is thinking.  Stephen gets to the truth about Chuck, the CIA and the Intersect 2.0 pretty quickly.

Chuck: (shouting) Dad!  Knife!  Face!  What if you were wrong???
Stephen: (with a slightly puzzled look) I’m never wrong.

Dad! Knife!! Face!!!

Morgen gets to the truth about Devon and Ellie’s apparent marital problems – sort of, and establishes Devon’s innocence.  And Chuck?

The most culpable liar in this part of the story is Chuck.  Ironically, he is closest to the truth.  In contrast, the character who does the most damage, the character who is furthest from knowing what’s going on is also the most innocent.  That would be Ellie.  In the spy game, innocence isn’t going to help you much.

What helps you is your partner.  Forget the lies and secrets for a moment, and watch how they help each other.  In one of the sweetest, most pleasant scenes of S3, Sarah jumps in immediately and helps Chuck locate his father by using her spy skills. Casey immediately uses his skills to be Ellie’s “second shadow” when Chuck needs help protecting her.  Morgan uses his “Dr. Morgan” skills to help Devon and Ellie’s marriage.  Big Mike helps Jeffster without their asking.

But the one who gives the biggest aid is the character that Chuck hurts the most in this episode – Stephen.  Once again Chuck thinks that he’s being abandoned by his father, but the reality is the Stephen has to hurry back to his cabin (and suffer Chuck’s verbal arrows) to verify that the governor will work for the Intersect 2.0.  Misunderstanding and lack of trust?  Of course.  Those things are endemic to these characters.   Stephen is the one I admire for not letting these things stop him.   He’s the wizened hand here; the most cynical, perhaps even the most damaged.  But he’s also the most capable of helping Chuck directly.

I had a question when I started today.  What’s with the title of this episode?  It’s ostensibly and obviously about Shaw, right?  He’s the character presumed to be dead, but is not. I have two problems, though.  One is that Shaw is barely in this episode.  Mostly, he’s a fear and a nightmare.  And isn’t it true that every title has a second, less obvious meaning?  What would that be? Who (or what) could also be seen as “The Living Dead?”

Now I think it’s Stephen.   More precisely, it’s Stephen that was dead and gone, but has returned; not Stephen the man, but Stephen the father.

Starting with 3.14, we the audience have become convinced that Chuck and Sarah are finally a couple. That part of the story is indeed over, and a new one must begin. Chuck vs. The Living Dead is the beginning of that transition to season 4, with new character dynamics, new villains and a new basis of operations. Chuck is not going back in the car, and Sarah is certainly not going to say there either. In fact, in the most effective fight scene of the episode, and maybe of the season, it’s Chuck, not Sarah, who is the fighter. Sarah’s ax-throw, complete with sparks, is spectacular, but she’s aiding him the way he aided her in season 2. Chuck’s use of the chair pieces as Tonfa is stunning and reminded me of Jason Borne much more than James Bond. By the time I Am Your Skin by The Bravery is played the worry over the lies and deceits at the beginning is forgotten.

Chuck and Sarah are spies and allowed to keep secrets. But they’re together, so they won’t keep them for long.

– joe

Dave’s Take on the Lies

Bad.

Okay,  seriously;   I really liked most of this episode.   But the lying,  and I mean Chuck’s lying,  is damaging his character to the point I seriously don’t like him much at times.   This is something I hope seriously diminishes in S4.   It caused nothing but grief in the last four episodes of S3.   I’m somewhat concerned by CF’s comment that a spy story will always be about secrets (I’m too lazy to check the reference).   On the one hand he’s right;  but I hope that doesn’t mean we will have more ill-advised secret keeping between the leads.   Chuck’s lying to Sarah is the most inexplicable.   She’s been his friend and confidant in the spy world since the beginning,  perhaps Morgan has taken her place since the Sham;  but if they are a real couple now,  that needs to end.   I do find it interesting that Ellie,  who’s unique as the one character that’s been in the dark since the start of the series,  was taken advantage of and was indirectly responsible for Orion’s death (by being the instrument that brought him out of hiding) because she’d been lied to.   If she had known what was going on,  she would have been less vulnerable to lies about Casey.   I hope when S4 starts we will see more of a feeling of trust between the leads at least.

The other troublesome lie here involves the Sham,  and I think the writers really blew an opportunity here.   I don’t think they knew yet how deep fan anger would be over it when this episode was being written.   Instead of making a joke of the breach of trust they could have diffused the situation.   Sarah could have expressed regret for any involvement with Shaw while simultaneously downplaying how far things went;  instead we discover she was more intimately involved with a piece of lumber than we even knew before.    As I’ve said elsewhere,  I still want the scene where Chuck and Sarah tearfully apologize for all the hurt they caused each other this season;  but I don’t actually expect to see it.

For all that,  I loved a lot about this episode.   Sarah intimidating Morgan is classic;  Morgan and Devon’s talk about a typical day is one of the funniest bits of the whole season (decapitating the bear funny!);  Chuck’s fight sequence in the cabin and Sarah’s perfect axe throw was wonderful, especially the “no that’s just her!” line;  and finally the Chuck and Sarah spy will sequence at the end was beautiful,  in the way this show ought to be more often.

On balance,  I think Living Dead is a very good episode.   The balance of action, humor, and drama was very good for my taste.   I hope the future is a lot like this episode,  without the lies!

– Dave

I Rise In Defense Of Chuck Bartowski  – Ernie Davis

Chuck will always protect the people he loves first and foremost.  Sometimes that means bearing a burden for a while rather than burdening someone you love.  Sarah gets that pretty quickly.  Stephen gets it too, eventually.  Each in their own way gets bitten by the standard to which they hold Chuck.  But since it’s all about the angst let’s start with Sarah.  Chuck isn’t lying to Sarah, he’s delaying telling her about some of his concerns about things he’s unsure of.  Let’s start with his condition.

Chuck: Oh, come on, Doc. Level with me. Am I cleared for duty or not?

Dreyfus: You were right, Chuck. Your dreams were caused by the Intersect. I’m clearing you for duty.

Chuck: All right.

Dreyfus: But…

Chuck: But? But what? Why is there a but?

Dreyfus: But your dreams are also proof of stress the Intersect puts on your brain. And it is my belief that the stress will continue and intensify, likely leading to serious mental deterioration.

Chuck: Um… What does that mean exactly? Am I okay?

Dreyfus: This is a new science. Time will tell. But if I may, Chuck, I think it’s something you should discuss with your partner, Agent Walker.

But it’s all about the angst.  For me, it isn’t working anymore.  TPTB are attempting to create conflict and drama from very little, and they’re stretching it.  Is it a concern that the good doctor believes that the intersect will cause Chuck problems in the future?  Most certainly.  Is it anything like a death sentence or even an immediate concern given the doctor has approved Chuck for field duty?  I say no, it’s a concern Chuck needs to raise with Sarah at some point, not to make too light of it, but more akin to high blood pressure your doctor wants you to be aware of and monitor for symptoms than a biopsy coming back saying you have cancer.  In Dr. Dreyfus’ own words when Chuck asks if he’s OK, “This is a new science. Time will tell.”

The heart is a very complicated muscle.

Chuck: Morgan, hey, buddy. Listen, I had another dream last night. It was about Shaw.  No, I haven’t told Sarah yet. Yes, I realize that honesty is important in a relationship. Who do you think I am? Listen, just meet me at the Buy More in, like, ten or fifteen. Okay?

Sarah: Whose relationship are you talking about?

Chuck: Uh… Morgan’s, Morgan’s.

Good lord, there Chuck goes again, keeping the truth from Sarah.  Or is he?  He himself is completely aware that he needs to be open with Sarah and says so.  But about what?  Is he to assume every dream is an intersect dream and accurate?  If so I can’t imagine why.  His interpretation of the first one was that it was an assassination attempt.  That turned out to be spectacularly wrong.  It was only the standard flash on Kowambe’s tooth that revealed the truth in the tooth.  Having nightmares about Shaw being alive is a concern, and perhaps one worth sharing, but in this case I don’t blame Chuck for wanting to make sure he knows a little more first.

Chuck: I can’t tell Sarah until I’m absolutely sure because she has…

Morgan: History with the man.

Chuck: I know, I’m aware.

Morgan: Chuck, the thing is if he’s alive, then he knows everything about her and he knows everything about you, everything about me… Where I work, where I live, what I eat, – shower…

Chuck: Hey, buddy, hey, yo, Morgan.  This is why we are going to find him and figure out what he’s up to, okay.

Unfortunately before Chuck can enlist the talents of the world-class spy that is Morgan Grimes the world-class spy that is Sarah Walker gets to him.  A little quality Sarah and Morgan time follows.  He sings like a canary.  The bastion of honest and open communication that is Sarah Walker is on the warpath.  Morgan flees to warn Chuck only for them to find another of Chuck’s inner circle after the lowdown on what Chuck is doing.

Stephen: Is that John Casey?

Chuck: That is John Casey. Of course, yeah, you know that he works here.

Stephen: Why? He’s an NSA Agent, and if the Intersect project was disbanded, why would he…?

Sarah: Shaw?

Chuck: Sarah, you remember my father.

Sarah: Oh, hi, Mr. Bartowski.  I… it’s great to see you.

Stephen: Why is your handler here?

Chuck: Handler… No. Oh, you’ve been out of the loop, so I can’t expect you to know this, but… but Sarah and I are boyfriend and girlfriend now.

Sarah: Hi, sweetie.

Stephen: Tell me that you’re not in the CIA anymore.  Tell me that you quit.

Chuck: Dad, the Intersect is out of my head. I’ve moved on. I can assure you… We can assure you… …that I am no longer a spy.  You know me, I wouldn’t lie.

Gotta add in that little twist of the knife at the end just to beat the horse again that Chuck is digging himself deeper and deeper, and to add that little extra angst for Sarah to react to , the wholly unnecessary “You know me, I wouldn’t lie.” The twist of the knife at the end has been done before, and I thought it excessive then:

Chuck: Please, Ellie, brother-sister, there are no secrets between us.

Ellie: Thank you.

Chuck: Bye.

Devon: Bro, that was so cold-blooded. How could you just lie to her like that?

Chuck: Ellie and I aren’t kids anymore, all right? There are some things she’s better off not knowing.

But that’s my quibble with the angsty style, so pardon the digression.  Back to our story where the open and sharing Sarah Walker sets Chuck back on the straight and narrow.

Sarah: I think you should tell your dad the truth.  I mean, you need to be honest with the people that you love, and that goes for me, too.

Chuck: I know, I know, Sarah, I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you about Shaw, but it was just a dream, and I… and I wanted to be sure before I worried you.

Sarah: But if you dreamt that Shaw was alive, then you dreamt it for a reason. I mean, the doctor said that you’re healthy and that your dreams could be as accurate as your flashes. – Right?

Chuck: Ye… Uh, yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Casey: Let’s hope so. I’m not letting you go to Beckman till we know for sure. I ran a scan on all of Shaw’s known aliases. No activity since Paris. I think our best shot at finding him is Walker.

Sarah: Why?

Chuck: W… why?

Casey: She has an… intimate knowledge of the target.

Chuck: I think “intimate” is a… is a bit of a… bit of a stretch.

Casey: If Walker goes through all the places she went with Shaw, all the things they did, maybe you’ll flash on something that leads to him.

Sarah: Would you be okay with that, Chuck?

Chuck: Of course. Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?

Chuck is such a trusting soul.  Of Course Sarah would tell him anything important he needed to know, just like he would tell her… Oh, wait…  But still Casey agrees with Chuck’s initial assessment, just the dream isn’t enough to go on, they need to check things out before going to Beckman or raising alarms about Shaw.  Chuck’s dream wasn’t totally on the mark last time and after all. And Sarah was pretty up front with Chuck when he asked her about Shaw…

Chuck: Hey, Sarah.

Sarah: Hi.

Chuck: How was DC?  I’m assuming you guys had a lot of fun. Although I… I can’t really picture what Shaw does for fun.

Sarah: Uh, I’m sorry I didn’t call you back but it was a work trip and we were in a lot of meetings.  Talking about you, actually.  About your future.

Couldn’t be more clear than that, strictly business, yep, that’s certainly what Sarah told Chuck.  What could go wrong?  They need to find Shaw after all.  Strictly business.

Casey: So, what exactly did you and Shaw do when you were in DC?

Chuck: Casey…they were in and out of meetings all day, every day.  I mean, the trip was purely spy-related.  All business, no pleasure.

Casey: Well, Walker, I have here a receipt from a Waterfront Restaurant named Le Jardin.  Two chef’s tasting menus,couple of nice bottles of Pinot… Doesn’t sound like business to me.

This can’t be good…

Sarah: After our couples massage he took me to Tiffany’s.

That paragon of open and honest communication that is Sarah Walker is slumped in her chair, paying her penance for throwing that first stone at Chuck.  The most private of people, she now has to spill it all about probably her most ill-advised (ahem) “romance”.  And she has to do it in front of the last two people in the world she’d choose.  Her neurotically insecure boyfriend and the guy who has enjoyed teasing her about being, a woman of questionable virtue to be kind, or the CIA bicycle to be less kind,  for years.  Oh, and that banging you hear?  That is one Charles Irving Bartowski getting his comeuppance.  Perhaps the punishment outweighs the crime in this case, with Sarah,  but Chuck’s lies are many, and the truth will come out.  Better to do it soon on your terms rather than wait.  Casey meanwhile must be wondering what he ever did to deserve such great fortune.  This one session could be good for years of material.  Oh, and love hurts.

I’m never wrong.

Chuck’s lies continue unabated with his father.  It bothers a lot of people.  It bothered me at first too.  Mostly because it seemed so futile and useless.  Stephen saw through every lie almost instantly, why on earth would Chuck continue to lie?  Obviously it isn’t about concealing the truth from his dad.  What then?

Chuck: Dad, we just had a really nice meal, okay?  What’s with all the spy questions?

Stephen: Because I don’t know anything about your life, and I’m here, and I… I’m trying to figure out what I missed,  I see one thing. Casey works at the Buy More. Sarah lives with you, and… this is an active surveillance wire. And your computer is still tapped in to the CIA mainframe. So, you tell me again, Charles, that you’re not involved in anything that you’re… that you’re not a spy.

Is Stephen really still asking?  He’s never wrong.  Surely he knows what is going on, yet he still wants Chuck to tell him he’s not a spy.  He must know Chuck can’t do that honestly, but still Chuck will not tell him what they both know is obvious.

Stephen: Why weren’t you here, sitting at one of these computers instead of dangling from a rooftop? Why are you still lying to me?

I could go back to the beginning and say it’s because Chuck is trying to protect his father, but we all know that’s not it.  This is a conversation Chuck doesn’t want to have with his father, and one Orion can’t avoid.

Stephen: For every spy, there’s someone who cares about them.  Someone who has to open that box, read that message, and mourn their loss.  This is a bad  business.  And I don’t want my to have family any part of it.

For all those keeping secrets to protect those they love, to shield them from the world, and to allow their minds to be at ease, the gravest sinner of them all is Stephen Bartowski.  Orion.  Even now the price of his sins is being visited upon his children.  And on himself.

Stephen: I-I just keep thinking, without the Intersect, why would they let you go on missions? You’re an ordinary guy.

Chuck: I’m not. I’m not an ordinary guy. The CIA wants me to work for them because they think I’m special… Because they believe in me.

Stephen: You’re right Charles. You are special.

Orion has always known, and now Stephen Bartowski must face it.  He abandoned and lied to his children, and now Chuck refuses to justify the man he decided to become to the man who wasn’t around to guide him into manhood.  This is why Chuck will not say it, say he’s a spy and the intersect.  Chuck still bears the scars but he finally has the life he wants.  He’s a spy, he matters, he makes a difference, and he has the woman of his dreams and the love of his life by his side, and his father disapproves.  He has no right as far as Chuck is concerned.  He’ll try to be pleasant and put off the topic, but Chuck will not suffer his father’s disapproval, and he will not be told he doesn’t matter by the man who abandoned him.  So he lies.

The most culpable liar of them all. Stephen Bartowski.  Orion.  Now his son will die for his sins unless he can save him.  But Stephen has lied to his daughter too.  Ellie knows none of the truth and in her desire to help her crazy old dad she’s possibly doomed him, Chuck, and her marriage.  Possibly worse.  The truth will come out.  Better to do it soon, on your own terms.  Waiting makes it worse.  Chuck is bush league compared to his dad.

Lucky for them all the world-class spy Sarah Walker has learned a lesson.  Don’t judge.  Help in whatever way you can.  One fight later with a spectacular Sarah save we find Stephen has learned the same lesson.  He accepts his son as the man he’s become, a man he hardly knows, but whom he can still help be the man he is.

Orion, and Stephen still owe for their collective sins.  Chuck, he seems to be on the right track.  He still hasn’t told Sarah everything, but he has a reason to wait, some good news to go with the bad.  As before, Sarah needs to talk.  The last time it was about her hopes, this time it’s her fears.

Sarah: I’ve been thinking about what happened at the cabin and…how you almost died. You know, everything that your dad said about the life that we’ve chosen… He’s right. What we do is not safe.

I want you to have this.  My spy will.  Chuck, this is me.  It’s everything I know, it’s my life, and if something were
to happen to me…Well, if anyone’s going to have it, I want it to be you.

Chuck: Nothing’s going to happen to you.  You’re not going anywhere.  And neither am I.

Chuck is still lying to Sarah, or at least making promises they both know he can’t keep, and he’s still shielding her from the bad news, but the bad news isn’t anything she doesn’t understand.  Some day he could be taken from her, and there may be nothing she can do about it.  Chuck knows too and does the only thing he can.  He faces his future, or at least one possible future. “My name is Chuck Bartowski, and if you’re reading this, it means I’m already dead.”

But there is still a price to be paid for everyone’s lies.  Orion’s, Stephen’s, Ellie’s and Chuck’s.  This was just the prologue.

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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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87 Responses to S3 Revisited: Chuck vs. The Living Dead (3.17)

  1. OldDarth says:

    Nice write up Joe.

    The big problem with the lying for Chuck – regardless of the reasons and their validity – is that as the lead of the show it reduces his likability.

    I took The Living Dead as a Shaw reference and as an Orion one too.

    Plus lying and having characters carry the stupid stick are THE biggest crutches used in writing to support weak plotting.

    • joe says:

      Very true, Lou. It’s gotta be a hard line for the professional writers to toe, though. I mean, having a beloved character be teh stoopids is a good way to humanize him, when it’s done right. We may want to think of both Chuck and Sarah as paragons of virtue, but then they become harder to relate to. Chuck in particular has to be everyman, even when he’s a hero, and even when he’s “got the girl.” Showing his foibles is a way to keep him accessible, I think.

      Hey Lou! Thanks for the re-tweet.

  2. jason says:

    Joe – I might have said 14.15,16 were the beginning of the transition into season 4, and in 17 the transition is complete, the ship is sailing into open sea. For me this ep had one of the finest scenes of the season – the fight scene at Papa B’s man shack, also one of the finest sequence of lines – ‘does she have the intersect too’, ‘no dad, that is just sarah’, pan to the beaming ‘lioness’, just haven’t seen enough of that this season. I loved the Morgan Sarah interrogation scene too, the lioness was on the prowl there too, no wonder Morgan is petrified of her. The bad, the 800 lb Gorilla showed up in the interrogation scene & at the end, after the end there was no doubt, two more episodes of reminding me why I did not like season 3 – it isn’t about shaw being a good villain or a bad villain, more he is a reminder of why ‘Chuck sucked’ for much of season 3.

    • joe says:

      I thought that cabin scene was great too, Jason. And I really got a kick out of Sarah locating Stephen for Chuck – and it’s precisely because of what you pointed out. Sarah’s a good spy and is determined to help her guy.

      I’ll be happy to see more of that in S4 too.

    • atcdave says:

      I just added my take to the artical above; and then noticed how you and I view things in such a similar way Jason. Well that isn’t surprising I guess, great minds and all that…

  3. JC says:

    I loved the Morgan and Sarah scene, they really need her to interact more with the other characters.

    They really need to have Sarah open up to Chuck, the name is ruined at this point. And the spy will doesn’t make up for it.

    I also thought The Living Dead was a reference to Chuck, since at this point he was a walking time bomb.

    • joe says:

      Hum… That’s a pretty good theory too, JC. – Chuck as the living dead.

      Sarah really needs to open up. Sometime in Cougars she demurs to Beckman about going to her high school reunion – But, this is me. she complains. Sarah pretty much uses the same words when she hands Chuck the “spy-will.”

      I agree that the spy-will thing is a ridiculous notion, but what’s important is that Sarah believes that it shows the real her; her true self. It’s more than symbolic that she’s given it to Chuck, even if he can’t see the information yet.

      TPTB know the ruckus they raised with the name-reveal, and I know they react to the fan-base. I won’t be surprised at all to see something in S4 to make up for that; some important confidence Sarah reveals to Chuck. Perhaps it’ll be about her mother.

      Oh! I just remembered. I learned yesterday in a promo that in the new Covert Affairs show, the main character’s name is Anna Walker.

      • jason says:

        joe – if you are still hanging around the computer, same type of topic, different situation, do you think the interrogation of sarah was the closing scene for sarah telling chuck and the audience the nature of shaw and her’s relationship, or is more ahead? The 3,17 scene seemed like ali adler’s throwing it in the fans faces in 3.8 and calling it humor, the fans who don’t care about such things thought is was funny, the most ardent shippers hated it, and the rest I think were in between, but that scene was hardly awesome or epic (sorry Darth, can’t resist fedak’s word)

      • joe says:

        Jason, Ali Adler has been kind enough to respond to my tweets, so I’m a little biased. I have a hard time ascribing any malicious intent to her words.

        With that in mind, then my interpretation of the interrogation scene is that it has 2 purposes. It’s meant to remind us that even though Chuck has been withholding important stuff from Sarah (she knows it, too), she can’t be too mad at him. Sarah’s not been entirely forthcoming herself. It’s a mechanism to make Chuck seem a little less culpable and to give Sarah a rationale for being understanding.

        Second, yes the humor was put there for our benefit. It’s as if TPTB are saying to us “Yes, Sarah isn’t pure, but don’t take it too seriously. Chuck doesn’t expect her to be.” If it’s a tweak at the ‘shipperiest of ‘shippers, it’s a relatively gentle one.

        So yes, the scene puts an end to Sham. Chuck got his chance to tweak her back about it (in Shaw’s penthouse, when he suggests with snarky intent that the password might be her name) and that’s all the pay-back a nice guy like Chuck is going to need.

        It’s interesting that Sarah gets more payback for the pain that Shaw’s caused her – that sucker punch in The Subway. After that, it’s pretty clear that no memory of Shaw is ever going to brighten Sarah’s day. As the kids say, “He’s so over.”

      • 904 says:

        The key quote:

        “Chuck doesn’t expect her to be.”

        Chuck hasn’t held her relationship or intimacy with Shaw against her. Sure, it’s uncomfortable learning the more sordid details of the love life of a significant other, but we’re usual no more innocent or pure. Chuck knows he is far from pure. And his trotting in the morning after Hannah in pride and flamboyance was certainly just as awkward and certainly more hurtful to Sarah than her couple massage.

        And for all we know, Shaw might have been a horrible, inconsiderate lover. Maybe that’s why Sarah doesn’t show the warm fuzzies or even bother breaking up with him once Chuck makes up his mind.

        I mean, you must be overcompensating when you proudly shelve “Guide to Getting It On” and “Kama Sutra” in your bachelor pad. Sure, he fills out a pair of slacks and is a stallion, but he’s also made reference to performance anxiety in one of his early appearances (Operation Awesome or First Class), “so I’ve heard.”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I guess I should save this for my addition, but there is a key difference about the interrogation. In Final Exam Chuck had asked Sarah about her and Shaw and the trip to DC and she specifically told him it was business, which is why he cuts off Casey’s question. He believed Sarah. Now of course Sarah was at that point probably feeling she was doing the right thing by not rubbing his face in it, but Chuck, as we saw in the stake-date was asking for a reason. So how was Sarah’s initial lie, and subsequent failure to clear the air about how serious she and Shaw were so different than Chuck’s reluctance to talk about potential problems with the intersect that hadn’t manifested themselves yet or about Shaw possibly being alive?

      • joe says:

        Ernie, I think all that means I’ve very glad that neither character is a petty or vindictive person! 😉

      • Merve says:

        Or more appropriately, neither character has been extremely petty and vindictive since “Imported Hard Salami,” “Nemesis,” and “Crown Vic.”

      • joe says:

        You made me laugh, Merve, ’cause you’re right. They *have* been petty and vindictive. (Point, Merve! We’ll return to Wimbledon after these announcements from our sponsor…)

        But at the same time, Chuck and Sarah have both grown beyond that now. Right? I didn’t realize before how glad I am of that, too.

        Even if the scene with them arguing in the trunk of a car was fun, seeing either one of them act petty now would not be something I’d enjoy.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        I’m sorry, gentlemen, I think you miss Sarah’s point about Shaw in Final Exam. She didn’t say it wasn’t serious, she said it was “different” than what she had with Chuck.

        Chuck (at least in Final Exam) understood what that meant. And he knew it was serious enough before Sarah said anything by framing his conversation by asking Sarah if she and Shaw were going to move in together when they went to Washington.

        It’s Living Dead that has it wrong. Chuck should not have been being silly there. It was done for the humor and was one of those annoying Season 3 “let’s not worry about continuity” games.

        If you recall, Chuck signed off on Sarah’s relationship with Shaw in Mask, he understood what was going on in Fake Name (even if WE didn’t) and he clearly knew Sarah and Shaw were a couple in Beard.

        The problem with Sarah-Shaw is that TPTB were annoying coy and either incompetent or cowardly in selling the relationship. It’s too bad, too, because the “spy love” versus “real love” meme is ALMOST as good as Sarah living her romance with CHuck through the cover relationship in Seasons 1/2.

      • joe says:

        Oooff! Compelling, Liz! You’re right, and from my POV, you’re right for an interesting reason. Willful blindness. Mine.

        I’m less willing to see Sarah surrendering to Shaw than Chuck! It’s quite in his character, though, to forget the depth of her relationship to Shaw (as in “forgive and forget” – literally, forget). That makes the humor in the interrogation scene just a little more palpable, I think.

        It seems just a little harsh to say that Chuck signed off on Sarah’s relationship with Shaw, though, indicating that he knew (or should have known) what was going to transpire. I may be forgetting again, but he turned to Hannah precisely Sarah was not going to be more than friends, it seems. Chuck ever couldn’t have felt he had that much say in the matter, regardless. So he let go best he could (which later instigates Ellie’s speech that he’s not done enough, accusing him of giving up).

        After The Mask, the only things he knows are what Sarah tells him. The rest comes from his imagination.

        See what I’m saying here? Like you say, Chuck knew and indicates it more than a few times. But he’s also willfully blind to what he knows, and it shows in Living Dead.

        Bah! That probably makes no sense to anyone but me, but I swear it’s something I’ve seen in too many people and in myself.

      • jason says:

        @joe- sarah’s payback to shaw is known as a ‘rafe’ punch, not a sucker punch, in a great twist, shaw actually invented it, sarah actually got 2 ‘rafes’ in, the second time she got a little help with an iron bar, she certainly was not ‘Sarah the Lamb’ around Shaw in the epic (now I’m just having fun) season ending two parter

        @Dave – when joe originally told me about this blog back in january, he told me that one of the principals had a POV very similar to my own, not that we needed more proof, but yet again joe has been proven to be a pretty smart guy

      • joe says:

        Heh. I stand corrected about the “rafe” punch, Jason.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Joe-
        Well, Mask is a mess, but I think you have to say that both Sarah (perhaps less willing) and Chuck (more willing) were moving on at the end. Let’s call it a simultaneous beginning of alternate (different) relationships.

        As for what Chuck knows or is willing to forget, I actually don’t think it matters much. Just as he HAS been as good as his word in Cougars (when he told Sarah he didn’t care about knowing more of her past), I don’t really see anywhere where he cares or begrudges Sarah her relationship with Shaw. Just as Sarah doesn’t ask about Hannah. (And that actually mirrors the gallant approach both respectively took to Cole and Jill.)

        The bigger problem (besides the cowardice and sloppy writing by TPTB) with Hannah and Shaw this year is pretty simple. Chuck with Hannah was hopeless and wrong. He should have known better, known that a relationship with a civilian would not work. It was a rerun of the Lou scenario.

        But for Sarah, her “spy love” with Shaw WAS a valid option. In any other scenario, Sarah would have been with Shaw, just as she was with Bryce and could have been with Cole.

        But I think I explain this better in a thing I’m doing called “Why Shaw and Sarah Mattered.” I hope to have it up at ArticulateSchnook.com in a couple of days

        Needless to say, Chuck and Sarah together is always the right choice. The lengths TPTB went to in order to keep them apart in Season 3 was problematic, of course. But it would have worked better if they told the Shaw-Sarah tale better. Fans wouldn’t have liked it any more, probably, but it would have been easier to accept and understand.

      • atcdave says:

        But Liz, isn’t the bottom line that fans would have been annoyed regardless? If the Sham had been better crafted, only those fans not sold on the romance at all would have been placated. Casual fans wanting Chuck/Sarah satisfaction might have bolted in even greater numbers if the Sham had been better crafted. The only thing I can see that might have pleased those of us who were so disappointed with this season is if Chuck and Sarah had each voiced at different times during their doomed relationships why those substitutes were so unacceptable to them.

        But in the end, only something like your con theories would have really made some us happy. As I’ve said before, after Colonel, there is no way outside love interests were going to keep many fans happy, and loosing viewers was the only sure outcome of the course they choose.

      • Merve says:

        @Liz: I think that I’m over-analyzing a scene that was meant purely for comedy, but I promise I’m not fanwanking; this was my interpretation of the interrogation scene on first viewing. The way I see it, Chuck knew deep down that Sarah and Shaw weren’t all about business. But, as a human being, he blocked the worst of it out of his head. Think of it this way: at some point, when a kid reaches a certain age, he figures out that Santa Claus isn’t real. But he buries that knowledge in the back of his brain because he’d rather believe in St. Nick. It’s comforting to think that a jolly old man delivers Christmas presents every year, just as it’s comforting for Chuck to tell himself that Sarah and Shaw weren’t getting intimate with each other, even if he knew that that wasn’t the case. The interrogation scene was rather like telling the kid: “By the way, Santa Claus ain’t real. And neither is the Easter Bunny. And neither is the Tooth Fairy. And neither is Abe Lincoln.” It still hurts, but it’s only confirming what you already know. I really don’t see the scene as flying in the face of continuity. It’s unfunny, but it reflects the human tendency to avoid ugly truths.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        atcDave-
        I take your point and perhaps you might even be right. But the concept of “real” love versus “spy” love is a good one from a creative sense. Done well, at least, we’d see that Sarah was making a fair, valid choice. Besides, I think better writing is always better than bad writing.

        As for what the fans WANTED, well, we kept hoping against hope that TBTB would be stressing the POTENTIAL part of the PLIs. As we learned, not so much. And once we realized that TPTB were going there, we should have also understood that Chuck and Sarah wouldn’t be together until the very last scene of the season.

        More fools us… How many words were spilled here and elsewhere saying 9 was the low point, or 10, or 11 or 12. We should have known better once TPTB went to the LOVE part of the PLI game.

      • atcdave says:

        You may have noticed I don’t use the PLI acronym, they went way past the “P”. If they’d had outsiders who who were interested in them, but rebuffed, that would be a PLI; what we got were “outside” LIs.

        I really couldn’t believe they would drag it out to the end, until they did. They had not gone that route in past seasons (I mean the length, the relationships themselves were mostly recycled themes), and fans were outraged before any filming even started (in July of 2009), I almost think it was done out of spite.

      • kg says:

        Perhaps you can accurately accuse me of having my mind in the gutter so to speak, but when I first heard Sarah tell Chuck about the “diiference” during the stake-date, the first thing I naturally thought of was, “Crap,” Sarah. “You had gratuitous sex with that clown Shaw and heretofore nothing with Chuck. And your admitting it in back-handed fashion.”

        I know in actuality she was talking more about the difference in each guy, their personalities and such, but I couldn’t ignore what seemed so obvious.

        Especially when TPTB had indirectly brought the topic to light themselves. Remember Awesome’s incredulous reaction from Angel De La Muerte when he found out the two leads had “pretended” to be a couple for three years? I believe the word he used to describe Chuck’s inability to score was “excruciating.”

        And Chuck himself openly offered his lack of fortune in that department to Morgan in Beard.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz, I don’t think the spy love was a particularly new concept this season. Carina pretty much introduced it in Wookie. I wrote about it here.

        Carina’s rather limited sympathy to Sarah’s loss seems to indicate, not so much callousness, but a reflection of a different sense of reality. It may be that Sarah was in love with Bryce, but you can see the thought never seems to have crossed Carina’s mind.

        On the double date when Chuck reveals he knows about Carina’s last assignment we see both Carina and Sarah do a quick take. Next thing you know Carina is seducing Chuck since she knows “you’re one of us” with the toast “cheers to spying.” As with Bryce, you see that to Carina the possibility that her seduction of Chuck, even after the mission when there was no purpose like pulling him away from Sarah, it doesn’t seem to Carina that taking Chuck would hurt Sarah in any meaningful way. Why? Spies don’t fall in love of course.

        You see it again in Crown Vic when Sarah lays it out for Chuck before her seduction mission. Bryce isn’t my boyfriend, and if he were he’d understand this kind of work. No jealousy allowed among spies.

        I suppose as you say they could have fleshed it out a bit and explored it, but like Sham and the whole seduction meme I don’t think they want to take the show to the dark places it would go if you looked too long or deep.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Ernie-
        Oh, absolutely, I agree, the spy love concept is not new to the show. Besies what you mention, the more direct approach to it was the “take the shot” conversation in Break-Up. That is the key moment of it all. Shaw understood spy love in American Hero, in fact, when he lectured Sarah on the limits of his (and her) emotional commitment.

        My point was simply that since they DID go to an alternate, spy-love relationship with Sarah, they should have done it WELL instead of writing it badly. There were valid issues to explore and it would have helped viewers udnerstand Sarah’s choices rather than speculate that she was on the rebound, desperate, lonely, etc.

        TBPB have SPECIFICALLY said they wanted to portray Shaw as a valid alternative for Sarah. It’s what they MEANT to do. They did it badly. Done well, it would have played better.

        As for not going “dark” or for “too long,” Ernie, please, did you WATCH season 3? 🙂 All it was was dark and too long.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Ernie–
        BTW, I don’t think Carina is a good example of the spy-love concept. She is, in fact, the opposite of Sarah: Sarah believes in love, Carina does not.

        Spy love, we can speculate, is what Sarah and Bryce had. It’s what Cole was pitching Sarah. It is what Shaw and Sarah had: good, valid, honest, decent–but secondary to the mission and the life.

        That’s why I say Break-up was all about that. You saw that Sarah COULD take the shot when it was Bryce. She couldn’t when it was Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz I’m still on the fence about some of this. I agree things weren’t done particularly well or explained sufficiently to let us come to a conclusion, and I agree there was likely a certain timidity playing into that, but I got the impression Sarah was trying to make something “real” where it didn’t exist while Shaw understood that it was a relationship of convenience.

        Even though I think we were supposed to get the impression Shaw liked Chuck as much as a handler and mentor could, it also seemed that Shaw had no hesitation making himself a romantic rival, even though he must have known (and clearly eventually did know) Chuck and Sarah’s feelings were more real than the typical spy love. I think we’re clearly lead to believe he’d experienced much the same with Eve. But from Mask on Shaw continually paired himself with Sarah, and where Sarah tried to downplay the relationship in front of Chuck, Shaw nearly rubbed it in his face. A very Carina-like I can take what you want attitude if you ask me. It’s another of those things that doesn’t quite fit, yet.

        I thought an interesting take would have been to show how Chuck had basically ruined Sarah for spy relationships, but that she still wasn’t quite ready for “real” with Chuck. He was still the puppydog fantasy good guy who wouldn’t hurt anyone. In that way I thought the Red Test was a cop out, like the mauser moment. If they wanted serious drama Sarah dealing with Chuck as really real as opposed to the fantasy Chuck on one side and with Shaw, the man she had no illusions about, but didn’t love on the other would have made for great drama.

        Add to that drama some genuine and deserved trust issues on Chuck’s part, and with some real consequences, namely Chuck in the position where he needed to kill and Sarah manipulating him into it, and you have some real drama.

        But they never really, despite hints, wanted to go that dramatic or dark IMO. The balance and tone were tough to find, and some of the timidity made the story a bit of a muddle.

        As you said on your site, it’s a tough thing to mess with the DNA of a show. I think Chuck managed a transition to slightly more dramatic reasonably well, given that a lot of us didn’t want any change at all, and set things up for a new show that will hopefully manage to keep all of us who stuck with it sufficiently engaged and entertained.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz, I agree Carina isn’t the best example, but I don’t think Sarah is either. I think Carina showed that spies had a very different attitude about relations, and love didn’t play into it. Her speech at the car was the best exposition on that:

        Carina: I’m feeling like a knife fight. You analysts don’t know what it’s like for us field agents. But it’s our job. We shed identities like people shed clothes.
        Chuck: In your case, that’s quite often.
        Carina: We try them on, like them or leave them. It doesn’t even matter.
        Chuck: So you don’t let anyone know who you really are?
        Carina: Can’t. Might have to leave them in 5 minutes or shoot them in the head. Trust me, a spy doesn’t want you to know anything about them that’s real. No matter who you are.

        When Bryce got a mission that required it he left Sarah without a second thought, other than a quick “It’s hard to say goodbye”. We saw that Sarah was hurt not only by him leaving and dying, but when he came back was hurt that he didn’t trust her, that he considered the possibility she was Fulcrum.

        Clearly Bryce understood the same things Carina did, even if he acted on them with more restraint than Carina, but Sarah either never did or was already losing sight of them after experiencing something she felt was more real with Bryce.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Ernie-
        You’ve hit on another point I AM going to get to in “Why Sarah and Shaw Mattered.”

        Sarah can’t really tell the difference between real love and spy love anymore. Which is why, once she got with Chuck (even as a cover relationship), she branded Bryce “a mistake.” Any why when she went with Shaw, she seemed not to understand the rules any more (“What if I don’t let you?”) So that is CLEARLY part of the equasion here. Sarah not only broke the Carina/Roan rule (spies don’t fall in love), she broke the rules of spy love as posited by Bryce, Cole and Shaw.

        As for Shaw, well, I think you are projecting a bit. Except for the over-the-top bit in Fake Name, he didn’t come too hard at Chuck about Sarah. In fact, I think he understood that Sarah chose him specifically because she felt she had lost Chuck. Hence his comment, “Do you still love him?” at tne end of Final Exam. Clearly, they were already in a relationship there yet he understood where Sarah still might have been emotionally.

        To Shaw’s credit, he understood the contours of things from the get go. I think we were supposed to get that Sarah and Shaw bonded at the end of First Class. I think he thought (knew) that Sarah felt she’d already lost Chuck by that point. That makes his “sudden” come-ons in Mask more logical. He wasn’t so much taking Sarah from Chuck. He clearly thought Sarah had felt she’s “lost” her “real” love just as he has lost his “real” love (Eve).

        Again, for me, I am trying to filter Sarah-Shaw through the eyes of Fedak, who clearly wants us to think it was a valid, honest and good choice. If you start from that point, you can see the strands through all the dross.

        That doesn’t make it less badly drawn, but you can see what they were going for and how good a meme it could have been had they done it well, wrote it courageously and played it properly.

        As for Red Test, it is, of course, simple stupidity. I reject Season 3 simply because Sarah had previously had total faith that Chuck “could do anything.” She WOULD have believed he could have maneuvered through the spy world and kept his humanity intact. In fact, appropos of our private Emails, that is the Three Words moment. Once she hears Chuck say he’s pursuing the spy life for the right reasons–specifically, the ones she set out for him in Helicopter–an in-character Sarah would have understood and would have actively helped him and (as I’ve said ad nauseum) would have come back to him romantically.

        All that said, if they really WANTED to go for GOOD drama, they could have had Chuck PASS the Red Test. That would have created a real dilema, both for Chuck’s beliefs about himself and Sarah’s expectations of him.

        Because, after all, Chuck was simply acting in his own defense having initially declined the order to kill. He “passed” the moral red test by refusing to kill Perry the first time. It was, in fact, exactly the situation Sarah found herself in during HER red test. She passed on the kill the first time only to act in what she thought was self defense.

        That would have been good, legitimate drama, meaty stuff. How would Chuck and Sarah really reacted had Chuck killed Perry in self defense and Sarah had known. (Let’s forget that if Sarah was paying attention, she SHOULD have known…)

        But as usual during season 3, they went for trash, romantic angst and mindless drivel.

      • herder says:

        I’ve been thinking about the lack of understanding by Sarah of what effect her relationship with Shaw had on Chuck. There was a bit of it in Mask “I’ll just be in the way professionally and personally” and in her downplaying it in Final Exam.

        I don’t think that it is necessary for her to apoligize for the relationship but I would like to have some of the jarring points about it brought home to her.

        I was thinking that they could have Carina come back and have a conversation with Sarah “so you started up with his boss? you must have really wanted him to suffer” or “so after he saved you from this guy he comes back and kills Chuck’s father”.

        Along the same lines I can see a situation where Carina talks with Ellie “wow one of Shara’s exes shoots your father and another Bryce is who got Chuck involved in the first place”. Ellie then goes “Sarah was involved with Bryce!” it could lay the foundation for Ellie/Sarah conflict.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        BTW, I think we also need to be careful about Bryce. More than once they seem to imply that he may have crossed the spy love/real love line himself. Why, after all, would he be worried about Sarah’s ability to talk about her feelings if they were in a relationship where the rules are clear? (Nemesis) And he sure didn’t act like he had lost a spy relationshiop at the end of Ring. (“She loves another guy” he says to the Fulcrum agent.)

        It may just be writing sloppiness or more poor continuity. But as with all the key memes of Chuck, TPTB have had trouble defining their terms. And it’s probably why they thought they could get away with the huge contradictions in Season 3. It was Schwartz who said to Sepinwall during the Mask controversy that it’s his job to wring maximum dramatic mileage from all the characters.

        Well, no, it’s NOT. It’s his job to create a world that makes sense and then do good drama within that world. But that, of course, is a MUCH tougher challenge and one that writers fail all the time in many genres.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz, I may need to Check, but I thought Shaw made it a point to do certain things like put on the wedding rings in front of Chuck in Beard, to return Sarah’s bag in front of Chuck in Final Exam and to very quickly and rather posessively usher Chuck away from Sarah in American Hero, that Sarah seemed uncomfortable about Chuck seeing. In addition I got the impression of sheer unadulterated joy and triumph from Shaw (as much as possible from Shaw) that “not even Chuck” knew Sarah’s real name, and he took great gusto making that about them, not Chuck. Quickly followed by “You had your Chance and you blew it” and the psycho beat-down. Then there was Shaw rather ostentatiously “returning” Sarah to Chuck in American Hero. I got the impression that from that moment in Mask when Chuck took his place Shaw saw Chuck as still in the running.

        Again I’m still working through some of this, but it seemed to me that from the end of Operation Awesome, Sarah was making an effort and Chuck was open to it, or vis versa, but Shaw basically threw a professional monkey wrench in that in First Class, which Sarah upheld in Nacho Sampler. From that point on, when Chuck assumed Sarah had moved on with Shaw, Chuck backed off. and Shaw made a point of being paired with Sarah in every mission and briefing for the rest of the season, basically never leaving Chuck and Sarah alone again. Again, they could have made some of this more interesting with a bit more explanation or depth.

      • Merve says:

        Liz, I think that you’re taking some stuff from season 2 out of context and unfairly projecting it onto Sarah’s character. Sarah’s lines about how Chuck could “do anything” and how “anything [he] wanted, [he] could have” are in “First Date,” back when Sarah thought that Chuck didn’t want to be a spy. They’re a thinly-veiled way of saying, “You can be successful and you can be with me.”

        This is more of a matter of interpretation, but I’d argue that Sarah’s faith in Chuck has never been total or complete. In fact, it has wavered on several occasions, most notably in “Imported Hard Salami” through “Crown Vic” and again in “Beefcake.” As late as “Colonel,” Sarah needed to be convinced to save Casey and didn’t trust that Chuck had made the right decision to reveal everyone’s secret to Devon.

        Over the course of the series, Sarah makes several attempts to shield Chuck from the uglier side of the spy life and to make sure that he doesn’t change. In “Sandworm,” she comforts him after his screw-up with Laszlo and tells him, “Just because you trust someone doesn’t make you an idiot.” In “Gravitron,” she comforts him about the Jill situation and tells him, “Leave the deception to me.” In “Predator,” she explicitly tells General Beckman that Chuck “isn’t a spy.” In fact, she’s about to get into a shouting match with the General about it before she realizes that Chuck isn’t in his room. All of this begs the question: if Sarah believed that being exposed to the uglier side of the spy world wouldn’t change Chuck’s essential nature, why would she try to shield him from that side of the spy world? Furthermore, assuming that Sarah did believe that the spy life could change Chuck’s essential nature and that she also believed that the Red Test made her lose her humanity, why wouldn’t she believe that the same thing would happen to Chuck?

        (Just to be clear, I’m not defending the Red Test storyline; I thought it was pretty stupid. However, Sarah’s reaction to Chuck’s Red Test wasn’t one of the problems I had with it.)

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Ernie-Again, Shaw is so badly written, I think you can project almost anything on to it. I would suggest though that, if anything, Shaw was oblivious to and about Chuck. The one and only time Chuck referred to himself as a machine was in front of Shaw, which I found interesting. And as someone noticed, Shaw often calls him “The Intersect.” As for Fake Name, it’s so badly written that it is hard to understand what, if anything, you can or should take away.

        As for what/when/how, let’s try it this way: Chuck and Sarah mutually moved on to “friend” in Angel of Death. Since the cover relationship has always been the “real” one, let’s assume that. Chuck and Sarah moved into friend mode. It’s actually confirmed at the end of Operation Awesome, when Chuck seems at pains to explain that he invited Sarah as a friend and Sarah responds in kind.

        First Class is Shaw trying to separate Sarah and Chuck professionally for Chuck’s benefit. Let’s give that to TPTB. Then we had the supposed bonding-over-lost-loves moment at the end of the episode. That makes the mess of Mask a little better. And, again, like it or not, both Chuck and Sarah (at least superficially) move on to others at the end of the episode. And for all the other problems of Fake Name through American Hero, Chuck never hectors Sarah about Shaw. Even when he’s trying to win her back in Final Exam, he is respectful of her relationship with Shaw. In fact, it’s his version of Sarah making the meal for Hannah. Both Chuck and Sarah, for all their other Season 3 flaws, respect the other’s romantic choices.

        Merve–
        I’m sorry, with all due respect, your view of Seasons 1/2 has always been skewed by backward projecting Season 3 onto it. As it was laid out contemporarenously in the first two seasons, Sarah is first and foremost the only person who believes in Chuck’s abilities, both as a person and as a spy. Ellie treats him like the little brother. Morgan enables his worst slacker traits. Casey is the professional doubter. Beckman sees him as a tool. Bryce and Orion work to keep him away from the life.

        Sarah alone believes in Chuck’s abilities. And TPTB go to specific pains in Other Guy’s DYLM moment to point out that Sarah saw him as a hero from the first moment. That is why Season 3 is a failure. You not only have to accept that Chuck would reject Sarah, you have to accept that Sarah has no faith that Chuck can handle the spy life.

        Both memes are inventions of Season 3–and, ludicrously enough, TPTB specifically reject them when they finally pair Chuck and Sarah. Chuck has “always” loved Sarah and Sarah belives he’s “my Chuck.” It’s 12 episodes of manipulation–and badly crafted manipulation at that.

      • Merve says:

        Liz, there’s absolutely no backwards projection involved in what I wrote. Sarah has doubted Chuck several times over the first two seasons. That’s a fact. Ignoring that is putting Sarah on a pedestal where she quite frankly doesn’t belong.

        As for the DYLM scene, it’s not about Sarah being in love with Chuck the hero or Chuck the spy, it’s about being in love with Chuck the guy, which is why Sarah points out that she fell for him “before he started defusing bombs with computer viruses.”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Liz, I admit I’m losing track a bit between here, our e-mail exchanges, and the mega-email I’m preparing that I haven’t sent yet so I can’t recall immediately if I told you about an alternate interpretation of a scene in Three Words that colors the scene at the end of Operation Awesome in a slightly different way, or not. But I can’t check right now, so I’ll have to defer till I can get home and check. I know I didn’t post it here or send it from work, but I might have sent it from home or I might not have sent it. In any case I think it might be worth consideration at least.

        And yes, once again, we’re probably putting more effort into this than TPTB.

      • joe says:

        Great discussion. Insightful.

        I can only add one tangential point, by way of noting that I missed something all year (perhaps longer) in Sarah’s motivation.

        It comes out in her statement to Beckman in The Three Words. Sarah is more convinced that she’s holding Chuck back than I understood. It goes back to Lou and Jill, and will include Hannah after her statement. She’s holding him back personally. Shaw convinces her that she’s holding Chuck back professionally. Chuck re-enforces that with every step – his first solo mission, his burning of Manoosh, the way he succeeded when Shaw failed in the mission in The Mask; he progresses without her.

        From Sarah’s POV, she’s the reason he failed in Prague; she’s the reason he couldn’t go through with a relationship with Hannah. That’s gotta be a load to carry.

        Except as a temporary, expendable thing, I can’t understand her interest in Shaw. I start to see why she’d wall herself from Chuck, though.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        Merve-
        You missed the point of the DYLM moment. Sarah is saying that Chuck was a hero before he got the Intersect. (Hero, of course, being Sarah’s type.) Everything he did between fixing her phone and before defusing the bomg was heroic to her: the ballerina bit, the not running from her when there was danger, and his concern for her. That is the point of this whole exercise: Sarah loves heroes and Chuck IS that guy. (Sarah in Ring.)

        And this is not about putting characters on pedestals. It’s about storytelling.

        Seasons 1 and 2 were very good storytelling. The original Season 3 was bad storytelling. Season 3.5 was middling-to-good storytelling.

      • Merve says:

        We’re going to have to agree to disagree about the DYLM moment. As I see it, it’s not about heroism at all. It’s about Sarah accepting Chuck as Chuck, which is why she accepts him whe he’s half-drunk and sitting in his underwear.

      • np says:

        We also have her “I fell in love with a regular guy” from the final.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I thought that was the perfect moment for Sarah to say “As great as you are Chuck Bartowski, we both no you will never be a regular guy.”

    • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

      Really, this isn’t hard. Sarah loves the hero type. Chuck the regular guy IS a hero. That is the entire point of the time frame she uses in the DYLM moment. Between the time he fixed her phone and before he defused bombs with a computer virus:
      a) He selflessly and going far beyond the call of duty came to the aid of a father and daughter with a creative solution at a moment when they were in crisis.
      b) He didn’t hound her even when she invited him to call her.
      c) He treated her like a normal person on the “date.”
      d) He let her talk about herself and declined to talk about himself.
      e) He didn’t run from danger.
      f) He didn’t abandon her.
      g) He expresses concerned for her well-being.
      h) He used his wits to put together information he got from The Intersect.
      i) He refused to worry about his own safety when Sarah tried to keep him out of the room with the bomb in the hotel.

      That, gentlemen, is heroism to a woman.

      Add that to the fact that Chuck responded to Sarah’s clarion call to duty in Helicopter led her in Ring to say: How many times do you have to be the hero before you realize that you are that guy?

      And please be accurate with Fedak’s “She loves the guy, not the spy” line. Notice he didn’t say she loves the regular guy, not the hero.

      Sarah loves Chuck, regular guy. Sarah’s type is the hero. Chuck, regardless of whether he is a Nerd Herder or a spy, is a regular guy who is a hero.

      It’s storytelling 101–and it’s why TPTB came back to the meme after messing up the front 12.

      • ArticulateSchnook (aka lizjames) says:

        And, Merve, Sarah specifically DID NOT accept Chuck as Chuck. She said he was still “my Chuck.” Her Chuck is a hero who is “great” (Ring II) because he sticks to his principles.

      • 904 says:

        I might be speaking out of turn here, but…..

        …I think Merve’s point (or my interpretation, at least) is that those heroic traits Sarah so admires are innate in Chuck, and have been since Day One.

        To Sarah, “Chuck the regular guy” is synonymous with “Chuck the hero.” But due to Chuck’s pre-established insecurities, it took much longer for Chuck to realize that “Chuck the regular guy” is the hero. Her Chuck. Her type.

      • Merve says:

        Liz, honestly, we’re just splitting hairs about the definition of heroism here. Sarah indicated that she fell for Chuck before the bomb defusing, i.e. before Chuck displayed bravery. That means that Sarah fell for Chuck’s good nature, as exemplified by the ballerina scene and the date scene at the Mexican restaurant. Whether that makes him a “hero” or not is simply a matter of semantics.

        The point of the DYLM scene is that Sarah accepts Chuck as Chuck. Chuck is “her Chuck.” It’s not about Chuck finally meeting Sarah’s ideal of him; it’s that Chuck has always met that ideal, even when neither of them saw it.

  4. Merve says:

    I have a lot of thoughts about this episode. I can’t promise that they’ll be coherent, but I’ll give it a shot. This is going to be one of those “I liked it but not as much as everyone else” comments which is sure to invite some ire, but let’s face it – I’m no stranger to that.

    Jeffster! – The subplot was absolutely hilarious. (And it left me wondering how large Jeff thought his baby would be.) But it was completely disconnected from the rest of the episode in a very jarring way; a brief conversation between Lester and Casey wasn’t enough of a bridge. My bet is that there were a couple of deleted scenes that helped it all mesh together better.

    The interrogation scene – Unfunny? Yes. Annoying, insulting, picking at old wounds? Not really.

    Awesome’s typical day – I’m still laughing about it as I type this. Morgan and Devon make a formidable comic duo that I hope to see more of next season.

    Spy stuff – It was pretty good, but the fact that the plot about Shaw’s spy will and the plot about the Governor were unrelated was a little confusing.

    Ellie hitting Casey with a frypan – HELL YEAH!

    Chuck’s lies – This is where things get strange. Firstly, Chuck was lying to Sarah about his condition. This has been hashed and rehashed several thousand times, so all I’m going to say is that while I don’t 100% approve of Chuck’s actions, I understand them, I respect them, and they don’t bother me. There was no selfish or malicious intent behind the lie. To be fair, Sarah found out about Chuck’s dream, so in the end, it was pointless of him to hide that from her. Nonetheless, I’m okay with it because from that point forward, the only thing that Chuck hid from Sarah is his condition. Now, secondly, Chuck lied to his father, repeatedly. This irks me a lot. In the end, Chuck’s lies to his father had no consequences. The end result was that Stephen started building a Governor for Chuck, which would have happened anyway if Chuck had just told the truth and made his case from the start. Plus, it got annoying to see Chuck try to cover up each lie to his father with another lie. Shouldn’t Chuck have just given up after he was caught the first time? Another thing that bothered me about the lies requires a bit more explanation. I’m not one to call actions out-of-character just because there exists no precedent for them. But when a character’s actions exemplify a trait that he or she doesn’t possess, I’d call them out-of-character. Chuck has rarely, if ever, been portrayed as selfish, but he was lying to his father for selfish reasons – to avoid his father’s anger. I can swallow Chuck abandoning Sarah in Prague because he thought that it was the right thing to do and Chuck always does what he thinks is right, but I can’t swallow Chuck lying to his father in such a selfish way. Sorry, abandonment issues don’t cut it as an explanation. Chuck has always been shown to be a family man, through and through. He can lie to his family to protect them or to shield them from an ugly truth, but I expected him to be a better man than to lie to avoid a scolding. The final thing that bothers me about how Chuck’s lies to his father were handled was that the episode conflated Chuck’s motivations for lying to his father and for lying to his girlfriend. The former are selfish; the latter are not. But Sarah’s line to Chuck, “You need to be honest with the people you love, and that goes for me too,” paints Chuck as a real liar, and one who lies just because he can.

    Overall, I can’t say that I disliked the episode. Despite some weird pacing, it had a lot of fun bits. (It kind of reminded of “Pink Slip” in that regard.) But much like the infamous apartment scene in “Fake Name,” the manner in which Chuck’s lies were handled was an ugly blemish on an otherwise enjoyable episode.

    Unfortunately, this is getting a little lengthy, but I still have a bit more to say. On the whole, I wasn’t too thrilled with “Role Models” through “Living Dead.” It wasn’t a slump, per se, unlike “Ex” through “Sensei” or “Mask” through “Beard,” but it wasn’t the best of the series either. One of the reasons was that there were more failed attempts at humour than usual (e.g. the tedious couples bickering, Merlin’s obsession with “sexual” things, the interrogation scene). But the bigger reason was that the show slammed on the breaks for the sole purpose of keeping everything from coming together until the season finale. It made for a wicked season finale, so I can’t complain much. But having the characters operate in their own independent spheres with few consequences for the other characters made the show seem as if it were treading water. I feel as if for so much of the front 13, the show was either firing on all cylinders or was completely misfiring, whereas in a lot of the back 6, the show was more like an engine than sputtered pretty often but otherwise ran fine. To be perfectly frank, after “Living Dead” aired, I wondered if Chuck would be sustainable with the new status quo (and for a brief, insane moment, I wondered if the Moonlighting curse was actually true), but the season finale assuaged those fears by dispensing with the status quo. I can’t tell you how glad I am that the show upended itself. In a way, “Subway” and “Ring: Part II” saved the season for me. Now I’m excited to see what happens next. Hopefully, Chuck won’t be acting like a selfish jerk.

    tl;dr – “Living Dead” = good but not great; yay for the season finale!

    • joe says:

      Pretty fair assessment, Merve.

      I liked two of the three attempts at humor that failed for you, so there’s always a bit of personal taste involved in evaluating something like this. But I agree with where you place the episode on a scale with the others.

      I’m going to hazard a guess that Dave will agree with you about Chuck’s lying to Stephen. It does seem to have more selfish. But I keep coming back to the scene at the beginning of Dream Job when we meet Stephen in his trailer for the first time. Chuck lays into him there pretty good too, with his “I’ve seen what you can’t do.” line. Even if he’s working hard to get past it, Chuck is still plenty hurt by that abandonment, and he’s quick to lash out.

      Ellie’s quicker to lash out, btw.

      • Merve says:

        There are a couple of reasons why the abandonment excuse didn’t work for me this time around. In “Living Dead,” Chuck knew (or at least he thought he knew) why his father left, so throwing that back in his father’s face just seemed petty. Secondly, the extent of Stephen’s lies wasn’t revealed until the final moments of the season finale, which came a little too late to balance out Chuck’s lies.

    • atcdave says:

      I do agree with most of this Merve, except I didn’t find Jeffster very funny here (Until “Rain”, THAT was funny).

      I dislike Chuck lying to Sarah, but his lies to his dad were the most damaging to his character. Like the interrogation scene (obviously, bothered me more than it did you!) it was an unfun aspect of this episode.

      I never really worried about the sustainability of the show, and was far happier through the back six than the front 13; but I do agree the finale was brilliant. Living Dead was just set-up.

      • Merve says:

        Fortunately for me, in my books, autotune makes everything about three times funnier. (That’s not an invitation for Chuck to do an autotune episode. ;))

        I don’t think that I was being completely honest about my perceptions and for that I apologize. Honestly, I think I got sucked into the idea that Chuck and Sarah getting together would magically make the show a hundred times better and we’d all be in Shangri-La. I was wrong, and it’s my own fault. (I’m sorry if this is coming across as facetious; I’m really trying to be sincere, which is hard on the Internet.) I should have stuck with my original perceptions. Then maybe I wouldn’t have set my expectations for the back 6 sky high. Lucky for me, the season finale ended up meeting and exceeding those expectations. Sometimes, I feel as if I just need to sit back and enjoy instead of approaching things with such a critical eye. (That applies to the entire season, by the way. If I weren’t being so critical, I’d probably like “Final Exam” more than “Mask.”)

      • joe says:

        They’re the one’s who set the bar so high, Merve. But you know as well as I that along with the loftier peaks come the deeper valleys.

        Seriously, after thinking so much about the reasons I live and die by enjoy this show, it’s gotten harder to sit back and just enjoy others. I’ve been a little disappointed by both Burn Notice and Royal Pains this season, and I’m a little worried that I won’t care too much if Neil finds out what’s going on with Kate in White Collar too.

        Perhaps the upside is that I’m less of a zombie, though.

      • Merve says:

        I think I do hold other shows to a higher standard because of Chuck. If I didn’t watch Chuck, I might not have given up on How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Bones, and Modern Family this season. (See? I really don’t have any qualms about flushing things down the toilet if I think they suck.)

      • atcdave says:

        Merve, you’d probably close a book at chapter 7 too!

      • Merve says:

        To be fair, I watched all of those shows until the end of their awful seasons. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t stop in the middle of a chapter.

  5. lucian says:

    I really liked Papa B saying “I’m never wrong” (which is largely true) compared with Shaw saying the same thing early in the season (but he seemed to be wrong most of the time).

  6. Ernie Davis says:

    Just added my two-thousand cents to the bottom of the main post. Sorry for the delay, I suffered some of the computer problems Joe referred to yesterday. That and I was lazy. 😉

    • joe says:

      Ernie, often I really like to go back and read what I’ve written. That’s probably narcissistic, but I really try hard to make my words enjoyable for others to read. And I know if I don’t enjoy it, others won’t. You’ve just written a piece here that I enjoyed far more than anything I’ve ever written.

      Congratulations!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thanks Joe, I appreciate the compliment. Writing a piece you’re proud of and getting complimented on it, well it’s like crack for bloggers. I think you know what I mean. 😉

        As long as we’re on the topic you wrote one piece I was insanely jealous I didn’t get to write. Yep. I’m another oddball who thought Final Exam was a great episode.

      • joe says:

        Odd how long ago Final Exam seems now. 😉

    • atcdave says:

      I guess I’m too old fashioned. I don’t like the idea of white lies, I don’t believe two wrongs make a right (to justify lying), and I don’t like lying to protect some one else. I guess I wouldn’t make a good spy! But to me, part of the charm of this show has long been that Chuck is a decent guy, who doesn’t make a good (traditional) spy either. I like the idea of him being good at it in his own way, and by following a code that would get most spies killed. I’m OK with certain types of “mission related” deception; but I feel like Chuck has crossed a line and is lying out of personal convienience. I liked the irony of Sarah scolding him for it.

      I think we saw some resolution to the issue by the end of the season, and I’m good with that. I’m just hoping TPTB aren’t planning more of the late S3 sort of lying in the future.

    • Merve says:

      Ernie, that was very well-written. While it didn’t change my general opinion on Chuck’s lies (to Sarah: foolish but forgivable; to Stephen: just plain wrong), I think it helped me soften my position a bit. After all, I shouldn’t be so hard on a fictional character who helped save several branches of the U.S. government!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Merve, the larger point was that Chuck wasn’t lying to hide the truth, it was clear Stephen could see what was going on. Chuck was really trying to prevent his dad from taking the life he’d fought so hard to have away from him. The first time Orion showed up Chuck thought he wanted his old life back. What he really wanted was his new life but without the consequences of the intersect, the constant surveillance the danger of being taken from everyone he loved and bunkered, the danger of capture and torture for him and his friends and family. The intersect out of his head wasn’t the big concern. We can see that from the season 2 opener. With the new intersect coming online Chuck thought he’d be released from those constraints and allowed to live his life, even with the intersect still in his head. Yes, we know he was wrong, he didn’t at the time.

        What The Ring showed us was that even without the Intersect the consequences of the spy life were still there. His friends and family were still in danger, Fulcrum still wanted him dead, and he was still in danger of losing those he loved, his father and Sarah for example. So Chuck made a decision, not when he re-intersected, when he followed Sarah because he loved her. Orion didn’t try to stop him, he just left. Again.

        Now a year later, with the price Chuck and Sarah and Chuck’s family has paid, having achieved the life he wants Chuck’s father comes back and demands that Chuck tell him he didn’t make the choice he made. All of the sudden the man that abandoned him, twice, is demanding that Chuck account for the choices he’s made, to him?

        Now from Orion’s point of view. Why on earth didn’t he tell Chuck from the first meeting that the intersect was dangerous. Chuck already knew there was that potential from Dr. Dreyfus. Yet instead of coming right out and saying (as soon as he saw Casey) Charles, if you have an intersect again I need to tell you some things I should have told you before. I didn’t because I didn’t think I had to, because I thought you were out. I didn’t think you’d need to know, but the intersect will eventually kill you. We need to talk.

        Nope. Stephen decided to lecture and beat up his son for a few days about the choice he made, TO BE A SPY, not to download the intersect, all the while admitting he hardly knew his son or anything about him. The capper is telling his son that the CIA wouldn’t want him if it weren’t for the intersect.

        I know why of course, but the lying angst is falling flatter than Sham for me. It’s manufactured and overdone and places excessive blame arbitrarily for trivial things.

      • jason says:

        ernie – what I fear about the lying is TPTB will use the lying in a non-trivial manner at some point to drive a wedge between CS – i.e. 2-13 episodes of chuck not telling sarah about his ‘secret’ orion life

        the lying is not falling flatter for me than the angst did by any means, but in a season of incompetent story telling, it is just another WTF

        finally, the show for me works on ALL cylinders when CS and some part of team B go into mission mode, CS at the cabin in this episode, in tic tac, in the stake date, when awesome, ellie, and morgan saved the day, for some reason our warm, comedic, character show has lost all its verve when doing the human relationship stuff (even the casey-morgan bromance, I get it, enough already, they love each other, they are cute and cudly, now move on, geez), I am cautiously optimistic that S4 will fix this, but season 3 really struggled

      • Merve says:

        Ernie, I think we’re reading the scenes a little differently. I got the impression that Stephen didn’t initially figure out that Chuck had downloaded the Intersect 2.0, just that Chuck was involved with the CIA in some capacity. As such, he wouldn’t have had any reason to be forward with Chuck about the Intersect when they met at the Buy More.

        The other issue at play here is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Stephen’s lies don’t cancel out Chuck’s lies. (However, Stephen hiding the negative effects of the Intersect from Chuck is more of a plot necessity because I doubt that TPTB had plotted out this portion of season 3 as far back as “Dream Job.”)

        The reason that Stephen’s abandonment of Chuck doesn’t work well as a justification for Chuck’s behaviour is that this time around, Chuck knew why his father wasn’t around. He had already dealt with it. “Dream Job” gave me the impression that Chuck’s abandonment issues had been resolved. Bringing them up again provided an excuse for Chuck’s behaviour, not a reason.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Merve, intersect or not Stephen was obviously going to lecture Chuck about how he shouldn’t be a spy. That’s out of bounds IMO. He doesn’t ask if he’s a spy or why he’s a spy, he demands tell me you’re not a spy. He doesn’t get to pull out the dad card, regardless of his motives for leaving.

        We all thought Ellie went too far in Ring II telling Chuck to quit. Ellie at least had the standing, she was there and raised Chuck. Orion, he had no buisness making those judgements. It wasn’t so much Chuck resented the abandonment as he did the presumption that Stephen could waltz back into his life at will and tell him how to live it or pass judgement. So Chuck lied to avoid the conflict. Agreed, his lies aren’t excused, but they are a misdemeanor compared to Stephen’s presumption to tell Chuck how to live his life, especially now that we know what’s coming.

      • jason says:

        Ii get a kick out of some rather eloquent writers on our blog who confuse their own eloquence with a certain interpretation of the typically ambiguous stories we are told – EVERYONE is speculating, unless someone is getting stone tablets handed to them by Moses

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, it’s always going to be somewhat speculative since what we see, don’t see, or what we’re willing to swallow is going to be a very individual experience. That’s why I try to stick as closely as possible to something supported by an actual line or scene in my posts, or to identify what I’m doing as an opinion or speculation. In comments things get a little looser obviously, but by all means if you think I’ve stretched the limits call me on it, I usually have a character and a line in mind when I identify a motive or reaction.

        I say Stephen is being judgemental and lecturing because he does precisely that in Castle when he pulls out the dad card and says he doesn’t want his family involved in the dirty business of spying, and I say Chuck resents the intrusion and the judgement because he says just that after the knife thrown at the face. I think I’m in pretty solid ground on this one.

        Which is not to say I think I’m an eloquent writer or that this was necessarily directed at me per se, just that in general I like to try to stick to something I can support with a decent case or I try to be sure and let people know I’m speculating or stating my interpretation.

      • jason says:

        ernie – no not at you or really anyone, although the thought came to me after reading your post, the comment was more a tone I felt coming from the blog today in general, really anyone can post whatever or however they want as long as you guys in charge or ok with it, just felt the open mindedness and tolerance that makes this place special got a little self righteous – I probably should have just kept my thought to myself

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, I know it’s tough to read tone sometimes. I know that when I’m posting from work in a quick break or at lunch I tend to be a lot more brief and to the point without a lot of the niceties we often include. It makes a post seem more a declaration than a POV, I agree. In general I always say assume the best intentions in every post you read. It’s our attitudes that keep the place civil and openminded, not the text on the page.

      • jason says:

        a great way of thinking ernie, thx

      • Merve says:

        One fact that I’ve been neglecting is that in “Ring” we found out that Stephen had been trying to manipulate Chuck’s life from afar and had convinced Bryce to get Chuck kicked out of Stanford. I can see why Chuck wouldn’t want his father making any more decisions or judgements about his life, but unfortunately, the issue was kind of glossed over in “Ring.” Chuck never confronted his father about it, which led me to believe that he had come to terms with it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Merve, I know what you mean about things that get glossed over. For one thing Chuck and his dad never seemed to get a chance to talk about anything other than th immediate spy stuff, and then Orion was gone again. That was one reason I found Stephen so out of line in coming back and playing the dad card. But I thought that they played it perfectly at the end (of this episode). Stephen realized what he was doing and immediately went about finding a way to help and Chuck showed that while he wouldn’t let his dad run his life he still cared enough about what he thought to explain why what he did was important to him. Orion still has a lot more kharmic backlash coming, and it looks like a great deal will fall on his children. Talk about mythology! 🙂

  7. joe says:

    Dave, now that I’ve praised the hell out of Ernie, I gotta say, as much as he’s got my head right, you got my heart right. The deceptions and deceits can be minimized (and have been, clearly, by Sarah), but the rationalizations only go so far. For all the fun and great action in this episode, it’s almost overwhelmed by the lies.

    Here’s a bit of a curve-ball, though. It does seem to add weight to an episode that would be pretty frivolous otherwise. It’s a heck of a lot more realistic than a lot of the interactions we see on TV between people.

    I’m guessing/hoping/confident that it’s pretty much over now. These characters have matured pretty quickly after all.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Again Joe, it isn’t really about the lies IMHO. It’s about trying to protect those you love from the hard truth or their own fears and going about it the wrong way. Ellie wants to help her dad, but she never talks to her brother or husband about it. In a little bit of Ellie holding the stupid stick she makes it all about Casey having lots of guns, then never tries to talk to anyone, including her dad, about the fact she’s been told by the CIA that he’s in danger.

      Chuck has the best of motives with Sarah. She’s just managed to find something comforting and real for perhaps the first time in her life, and he doesn’t want to take that from her without good reason. Telling her at the end of Tooth would have been outright cruel. When his dad confirmed the Intersect would eventually hurt him and Chuck no longer had the excuse that he wasn’t sure he still didn’t tell her for two reasons. The most obvious was that he wanted to wait for the cure and the good news, but also because it was clear that Sarah needed to be re-assured, not told he was dying, when she handed him her will. So Chuck delayed again, and despite his intentions we see it used against him later.

      Stephen is a tougher one. His lies and abandonment were to protect his children, clearly he regrets what it cost both him and them. But even now he doesn’t give them the respect and trust any good parent owes a child grown to an adult. Instead he tries to rekindle a family life he destroyed through his work and his lies rather than help repair the damage and deal with the consequences. His attempts to lecture Chuck about the choice he’s so obviously made is particularly clueless.

      And Chuck’s lies to his father? That’s also Chuck protecting someone he loves. Stephen keeps pushing Chuck, and Chuck knows where the conversation will end. Who the hell are you to tell me how to live my life? Chuck lies and stalls because eventually, when the truth comes out, he knows his dad will have to hear some unpleasant truths. His motives may have been pure, but the damage is real nonetheless.

      I really saw this episode as the prologue to a sort of fable. The father has angered the gods and their revenge is visited on his children, or perhaps Daedalus and Icarus. But Chuck wasn’t as irresponsible as Icarus. In any event we see by the end that regardless of what he tried to do, Orion left his son with a legacy, both good and bad. The tragic part is Orion’s pride and blindness. Surely he knew he couldn’t live forever, and thus couldn’t protect Chuck forever, but instead of preparing him he tried to hide him and Ellie from the world to protect them.

      • jason says:

        i thought (or am hoping) the living dead was to contrast how orion went about spy life (without a support group & family) versus how chuck is and will continue to d oso – chuck is very much alive, while orion lived a life ‘dead’.

        ernie, the more you write, the more I sympathize with chuck hiding stuff from sarah, she sure hid stuff from him in the past & seemingly in the present knows he is hiding stuff and is dealing fine (for now), again, as the lying became so over the top in the episodes, I just wished the story would have told why on screen, it reminds me alot of the sarah – shaw fiasco that way, while watching, I didn’t see what they were trying to tell me in either case

  8. odysszeuss says:

    Chuck and Sarah are spies and allowed to keep secrets.
    -joe

    But the lying, and I mean Chuck’s lying, is damaging his character to the point I seriously don’t like him much at times. -dave

  9. kg says:

    Chuck certainly lied to his dad and I agree with Ernie as to why. They were lies because his dad confronted him with stuff and he simplied said otherwise more than once.

    It’s been stated that Chuck has lied to Sarah. To his credit, I don’t think he has, however, he has kept certain secrets from her.

    And if you recall the restaurant scene from American Hero when Morgan and the guys distract Shaw, Chuck promised Sarah “No more lies and secrets.”

    So, for those who are disappointed in Chuck I have to agree.

    Therefore, this fall, let’s hope Chuck stops withholding things from Sarah and shows off his new Orion lair. And let’s hope that Chuck delicately tells his sis that he’s a man now, this is his destiny and why. It also wouldn’t hurt for Chuck to convey to Ellie just how important and special Sarah is and why.

    No more secrets. No more keeping those within the inner circle under the cover of darkness.

    • atcdave says:

      Yeah KG, that’s exactly what I want to see.

    • BDaddyDL says:

      i thought about the line in american hero more than once. It bothered me quite a bit, but then I realized Sarah turned down that offer, or at the very least never responded to it. So technically Chuck is off the hook.
      As far as I am concerned, as long as Chuck has learned his lesson, im ok with it. I have to admit the last few scenes in the buymore did a lot to gloss over the problems.
      By the way 1 month till the con, and just a few to the start of season 4 hallelujah!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I understand they’ve played these “lies” off that pledge for angst sake – and I’ve mentioned my views on that and my take on how much of a lie or secret Chuck’s concerns are, but the point I got from this episode was how, even with the best intentions, trying to protect those we love from the truth can cost far more than the truth.

      Both Sarah and Chuck were guilty of misdemeanors. It is wholly understandable that Sarah wouldn’t rub Chuck’s nose in a new relationship. She went slightly further and gave him a false impression, but still, understandable. Chuck was given a clean bill of health by the doctor, with a caveat, which he withheld. Still, the timing was not there for Chuck. It would have been almost cruel to mention his concerns when Sarah had just opened up with her first ILY and talked about her happiness and her hopes. Later his concerns were more about Shaw, another misdemeanor IMO. Lastly, when Sarah gave Chuck her will she needed to hear comforting words, even if she knew they were a lie, not that Chuck would eventually die if his dad didn’t help him.

      But again, Chuck and Sarah pretty much paid the price for their relatively minor sins in the interrogation. The point I saw was the longer this goes on the worse the reckoning. Chuck’s knowledge of the problems with the intersect, despite having a solution on the horizon, will cost them substantially more when the truth comes out.

      Stephen has been lying to his family for 20 years. Ellie is now in the hands of The Ring because of that.

  10. kg says:

    All essentially true Ernie.

    And as someone has pointed out in spite of the awkward and painful Casey interrogation scene, Chuck and Sarah may not be perfect, but neither appears to be the type to resort to petty face-rubbing and finger pointing. They fully accept each other and look at the present and toward the future.

    That goes further in my book to cultivating a healthy, loving, long-lasting relationship than worrying about circumstantial, at the time well-intended fibs/secrets.

  11. jason says:

    in one of the posts, some of you talked about knight and day, saw it this week, thought it was very average, fine to serve as a quick chuck fix, although the ‘mission impossible’ crowd has more right to complain foul in terms of copycat issues. I also saw the ‘book of eli’ recently with denzel washington, I highly recommend that. Surprised me at the end, and overall was pretty darned thought provoking, in my humble opinion.

  12. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Living Dead (3.17) | Chuck This

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