Deja Vu

If I had ever been here before I would probably know just what to do…

Does This Seem Familiar To You?

So far I’m a big fan of season 4.  But some fans consider some of the earlier episodes too relationshippery and angst heavy.   Some fans consider the spy stories early on to be a bit on the lite side and think we’re getting a bit too much Chuck and Sarah.    Some fans consider the latest Chuck and Sarah angst and separation just another trip to a nearly dry well.  Have we had this conversation before?

And I feel like I’ve been here before…

It’s a common complaint, especially lately.  Some of the episodes seem like just a retread or a re-telling of an episode we’ve already seen.  How is the Chuck and Sarah drama in Chuck Versus The Suitcase different from Chuck Versus The Role Models?  Didn’t we already deal with Sarah’s issues about things changing and putting down roots?  For that matter, didn’t Chuck Versus The Honeymooners through Chuck Versus The Tooth deal with pretty much the same issues as Chuck Versus The Suitcase through Chuck Versus The Coup d’Etat?  Sarah hates change, has issues with intimacy and opening up, and needs to go slow, but in the end loves Chuck and wants to be with him.  Chuck has problems with the truth now that he has Sarah’s heart and can hurt her, but at the same time wants to move forward with the relationship, all the while wondering about where he fits.  Haven’t we been here before?  Yes and no, after the jump.

Best Season Ever

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Before season 3 ever aired the arguments had started and the fanbase was split.  Sides were chosen, and though there was a pause while we waited for episodes, it was clear that it wouldn’t take much to blow up the fanbase.  Little did we know we were sitting on a powder keg to boot.  With some declaring it the best season ever right out of the gates and others gritting their teeth and vowing to ride it out, the winter of our discontent finally was made glorious summer by Sarah’s smile in Honeymooners and grim visaged Shaw had taken a powder courtesy of Chuck.  We’ve dissected the problems of the first part of the season, the execution, the concepts, the character damage and Shaw ad nauseam, but there was a problem with the back 6 part of the season.  Well not a problem with the episodes per se, but a problem that arose because of the front 13.  Call it a missed opportunity.

In the most dramatic season ever TPTB made the mistake of hiding the drama under a rock.  OK, behind Sarah’s various pouts and frowns and Chuck’s jealous quirks, but it was for the most part hidden.  It basically made the drama melodrama.  Yes, Chuck was on a Hero’s Journey to become a spy and Sarah was on an emotional journey to re-connect with her humanity, and Chuck, but the drama of those journeys was largely played through the dysfunctional relationship between the two and how each step affected them and that relationship.  So why the dysfunction?

In seasons one and two we understood the relationship and the barriers keeping them apart.  In season three, for the most part we saw no barriers.  We saw the initial hurt, the reluctance, then a couple of confusing re-bound love interests, but we never saw anything keeping them apart, except themselves.  So why the dysfunction?  It was hinted at, and through some Talmudic study I think we all came to the understanding that Chuck lacked the confidence because he wasn’t a “real spy” and Sarah never wanted the spy life for Chuck and was afraid she’d driven him to do something that would destroy the man she fell in love with.  Sound familiar?  But we never understood, fully, the neuroses and problems they both had at the root of who they were and who they wanted to be.  Mostly because they were crap communicators and precious looks and whimsical makeups weren’t getting the message across.

At her core, spy Sarah didn’t like herself much.  She was a bit too much like Heather Chandler for her taste.  Sarah wanted to be more like Chuck.  At his core BuyMore Chuck didn’t like himself much.  He felt worthless and directionless and felt he needed to be more like Sarah to prove himself worthy.  The time to explore these feelings and problems was while they were apart so we could see why they were apart.  Instead we got the OLI arc of confusion.  A standard TV trope, instead of the drama and character growth we were promised.  They did try a bit of back loaded exposition about Sarah’s red test in Final Exam and Chuck’s interrupted speech to Sarah at the restaurant in American Hero, but nothing was resolved.  They clearly wanted to be together, wanted to believe in each other and themselves, but nothing changed.  Nobody grew.

Oh, well yeah, Shaw turned evil, betrayed them and Chuck saved Sarah so again there was nothing between them so they decided to be together.

Which was great.

But it works now because… ?  They are still the same crap communicators and the same dysfunctional couple, but the fan base, or a substantial portion of it had no more tolerance for couple angst at that point.  TPTB knew they had a problem, and they did their best to fix it in the back 6 with precious looks and whimsical makeups, but they’d blown their best chance at some real grown up drama with Chuck and Sarah on their way to coupledom.  So they are and will remain a couple, but it occurs to me that in our psychoanalysis we neglected one important aspect which is now leading to most of the angst some of us are suffering.  Battered fan syndrome.  We were force-fed the angst until the mere whiff of it makes us queasy, and so now the real drama and character growth, the stuff done right, is called a re-tread and too much angst.  I understand that feeling that a lot of the fan base has.  I will however beg to differ.

Characters You Can Depend On

Chuck and Sarah still got you distressed?  They’re still working through issues about how to be a couple and how to be spies together.  And how to be a spy couple or a couple of spies.  It’s still complicated.  It probably always will get complicated from time to time, but they talk, and they fight, and they tell each other how they feel.  There is no cover relationship or manufactured angst to hide behind, and lo and behold, Chuck is Chuck and Sarah is Sarah, yet at their very core of who they are there is still the potential for two very different people to both love each other and for conflict to arise between them.  They are real and three dimensional people to me like never before.  We see the heroic and the tragic in both of them, and unlike last season where sides were often chosen, we can see both sides, and root for them both.

Call it angst if you must, but it is a real and natural angst that arises from trying to accept and love someone rather than change them.  In season 2 it was outside forces that kept them apart though they longed to be together.  In season 3 it was themselves that kept them apart because they weren’t sure of who either they, or the other really was for a time.  Now they are finally learning who they are and who they want to be together.  Seems to me that was the story a lot of us asked for instead of another round with the OLI’s before they got together in the last 10 minutes of the last episode of the show.  I’m glad to be getting it, even if it is a season late and even if some of it seems like a retread.  Revisiting an issue isn’t all that bad if you have something new to say about it.  Re-telling a story is fine if the retelling is more enjoyable.

Not a fan of Morgan and his screen time?  I can understand that even though it doesn’t bother me too much.  Morgan had to grow up a bit to enter Chuck’s grownup world.  His safety net Chuck had pretty much left him to deal with his own problems in seasons 2 and 3, but Morgan needed to learn to stand on his own some time.  The problems Chuck deals with are a bit larger than the Mighty Jocks or Emitt or Harry Tang in his face, and if Morgan was going to remain a part of Chuck’s life, he needed to be able to handle those types of things on his own.  Say what you will, Morgan is the character they developed, still Chuck’s occasionally clueless best friend who has a misguided sense of limits between friends and who gives some dicey advice outside his areas of expertise.  This is the new (somewhat more) grownup Morgan.

Think Casey is a bit too soft now?  Well finding that there is someone out there who wants to be a part of your life and wants you to be a part of theirs can change your perspective a bit.  It changes the way you look at life, and duty, and your priorities.  All of the sudden you may find some purpose to life other than the next mission, and you may come to understand what it was you were fighting for, fighting to protect all those years.  It also makes you understand there could be a cost.  Now you have something to lose, but maybe that actually helps.

Where am I going with this?  Oh yeah, I’m going there.  Morgasey.  That’s right, Casey and Morgan are Chuck and Sarah in the extreme.  Minus the kissing I hope.  Their individual journeys and developing partnership/friendship mirrors Chuck and Sarah’s individual and professional journeys.  Again, without the kissing please.

Who Are You?

This brings us to the new additions to Chuck’s world.  Frost, Volkoff and de Smit.  Just as a fun aside, if you were to translate Adelbert de Smit from the Belgian Flemish to the English equivalent, he be Al Smith.  Make of that what you will.

I remember a character introduced into Chuck’s world who was going to shake it to its foundations, push Chuck forward as never before and make him into the spy he was meant to be.  There was also some question where this character’s loyalties lay, and at their introduction, there was great trepidation that there was a hidden agenda that the team didn’t know about.  Well that worked for about one episode with Shaw, then everything about Shaw was put on hold.  He didn’t mentor Chuck, Casey took on that role.  He didn’t disrupt the team, Beckman did that, he didn’t push Chuck away from Sarah and into Hannah’s waiting arms, Sarah did that.  Then what happened?  Frankly, nothing. We had hints, we had fannon  speculation, but we never really knew. Why was it so easy for Sarah to fall into Shaw’s arms?  Why was it so easy for her to fall back into Chucks arms if he was so dangerous and unavailable?  Because he was her home, and had been for quite some time.  Why did Chuck doubt Sarah?  Because she always seemed to have one foot out the door, and Chuck has some abandonment issues.  Why did they doubt each other?  Well they never talked.  Why?  Well they’re crap communicators.  We asked them, vociferously, to fix this, to tell us who these people where and where they were going, and they did so, dutifully, because we needed to know to understand them going forward.  It is a tacit admission of failure.  Another apology for those of you looking for one.

Frost is no Shaw

And Brandon Routh is no Linda Hamilton. With no ill will towards Mr. Routh and no intention to diminish his apparent talents as a comedic actor, one scene with Linda Hamilton, the first meeting in the park, was enough to show me that she was a perfect fit to the cast.  Her ability to play to the strengths of the rest of the cast, their almost universal and uncanny ability to convey so much emotion and so much of their identity as a character with their face was apparent right from the start.  You can see her thinking, evaluating, planning, yet still feeling.  Again when we see her visit Ellie you see the mother and the spy fighting, and you sometimes aren’t sure who is winning, but you practically feel the conflict as it plays out within her and manifests itself in the tremble of a hand as she sips lemonade to compose herself.   The cast of Chuck has the almost magical ability to push subtlety and nuance to the forefront of a scene, and Linda Hamilton matches them every step of the way.

We suspect Mary is one of the good guys at heart, and we know she has an agenda, or perhaps several. We still don’t know her story or where it will take us.  But me?  I’m already invested. Frost/MamaB already  matters to me more than Shaw and his story ever did, and so we re-visit the outsider with the hidden agenda coming in and testing the team, their loyalties and each member of the team individually.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Timothy Dalton and Richard Chamberlin as absolutely marvelous guest stars so far.  Both of them manage to convey menace better than any of last years villains.  And I don’t want to pass over Armand Assante or Dolph Lundgren or any of the single episode guest stars.  Even Steve Austin seemed better this time around.  To me, just about everything is working this season.  It’s a nice place to be, writing in almost universal praise of what they’re doing this year.  Giddy?  Maybe…

Whose Angst Is It Anyway?

And still, with all the great drama and performances I’m seeing, I have a sense of regret as I watch.  There are some things we’ll never get to see.  Things like a well done and dramatic breakup between Chuck and Sarah rather than a strained premise of a miscommunication that serves as a supposedly dramatic traumatic event that drives them apart.  In other words a beautifully shot scene that serves as a reset button.  It could have been really really great.  If only we knew what was happening and why.  We’ll still get some drama and some growth to go along with the precious looks and whimsical makeups after big misunderstandings, and we’ll get some complaints from some of the fanbase that there’s too much angst.  Others will complain that it’s too much Chuck and Sarah.  I understand both, in a sense both sides feel their trust has been abused, but agree completely with neither.  I feel like I’ve been here before.

This time there is a difference.  In season 3 my sympathies lay largely with the shippers who said too much angst even as I tried to lay out the journey.  As I said, there was too much heavy lifting to understand the characters and it dragged out way too long.  This season, to me at least, the pacing, the exposition and yes, the angst are all in the zone for me.  I love where this season is and where it seems to be going.

A while back when talking about season three I said that in a way, I was over the show after that season.  I still loved the show, but it lost a lot of what made it special when the characters went in unappealing directions without any real explanation and when what was special, the humanity and the feeling of reality to the characters became strained, and then clichéd.  TV tropes substituted for plot and character development, and I forgot why I cared.  In the end I said I’d never feel about this show the way I felt in season 2.

I may have to revisit that statement.

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in Angst, Inside Casey, Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Observations, Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

225 Responses to Deja Vu

  1. DaveB says:

    Shouldn’t that be Deja View?

  2. herder says:

    Excellent post Ernie, I feel much the same way, I do have some quibbles but they are quibbles not complaints. And I may have to revist my own version of your statement too. I do see greatness in what they are building up to, I’m back to watching the show and only this show on mondays because for the rest of the evening I want to see what others thought of the episode and give my own ideas of what I thought of it. Really, it is a good feeling. So what if there is a bit more Morgan than I would like or not enough Casey or Ellie and Awesome (I don’t think that it is possible to have too much Chuck and Sarah), nothing is perfect but this is a damn sight closer to it than anything else on tv.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for your kind words herder. I think you put it well too, at this point I have minor quibbles with little things that I’m willing to overlook because they set up something fun and truly great. For example I think some people were bothered by Chuck’s reacting to Stepanova’s picture in the briefing in Suitcase because Chuck shouldn’t be looking at other women. I see it as Chuck just being goofy Chuck, then realizing what he’s doing, and I forgive it because the team dynamics and the reaction were absolutely priceless. And it also set up Sarah’s reaction in the closet, which was also priceless.

      This is an aspect of Chuck that has been there all along, my favorite example being The Ring. The whole hostage scenario with Chuck racing to Castle and returning with Bryce required multiple stupid sticks held firmly throughout the episode, but it set up a scenario and scene packed so full of Chuckie goodness nobody seemed to mind.

      I am starting to get the season 2 feeling back. Not totally there yet, but I’m in the same neighborhood this year.

    • Faith says:

      Regarding Morgan: I think there’s been a change on the part of the show runners perception of him and Joshua Gomez. I think that’s what we’re seeing on screen.

      They’re quoted as saying that they think JG is a fantastic actor and it’s a shame that they weren’t really able to utilize him nearly as well as they could have in the past. And so what we’re seeing is kind of them making up for that.

      I would hope that sometime in the future they find the balance between showcasing his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. A Morgan without boundaries is fun, but a Morgan without boundaries taking away screen time from our favorite couple’s chemistry is an entirely different matter.

      But then again you have to consider the realism aspect of it…if they overwork ZL and YS it’s counter-effective.

      I love the Casey-Morgan relationship. The more Morgasey and the more Chuck and Sarah I’m happy 🙂 Insert Bonita Friedency in there to boot! I love her.

      • atcdave says:

        I think using Morgan is a tricky thing. He can be very funny in small doses. But you’re completely right Faith, he gets old quickly if we feel like he’s taking time away from Chuck and Sarah. I like him when he’s paired with Casey or Sarah, and generally being stupidly heroic; but some of his bits ( like the earwig from First Fight) go on way too long, and I’m way past tired of Chuck talking to Morgan when he should be talking to Sarah.

      • jason says:

        agree with both of you about morgan, the one thing I might add, maybe just me, but morgan being the straight man and frustrated with jeff and lester, I love it, as how he feels then is how I feel watching him screw up chuck, sarah and casey’s scenes. I loved his look at sarah when he and casey came into the room to help her – overall – I liked morgan in 4×8 more than usual.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Jason, I liked how Morgan was used in 4.08 too.

  3. luckygirl says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this post. In fact, just from the episodes we’ve had I think I can safely say this is my favorite season by far, as unpopular as that opinion may be. I mean in my brain I know the show may have been creatively better in season 2 but my heart seems to lie with season 4. Seeing these characters evolving has been an awesome experience and although its been trying at times the show has been totally worth it to me. This show has given me more of what I’ve wanted than any show ever has.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      luckygirl, I don’t think your is an unpopular opinion, as in holding it doesn’t make you a pariah. At least I hope not since I largely share it. I think as discussed above some parts of the fan base on both sides are a bit hypersensitized to some aspects of the story. Soem on the anti-shipper side will say they’ve turned it into the Chuck and Sarah soap opera while others on the shipper side will claim they can’t leave Chuck and Sarah be without throwing some contrived conflict into the story or making one of them go OOC for the sake of more manufactured angst. As I said, I see what they are doing as necessary if they want to do more dramatic arcs, which they are now doing, so I’m on board.

      The funny thing is, when I heard about the search for mom I was worried about the season. It seemed unoriginal and predictable, but it has been amazing to see played out so far.

  4. JC says:

    Great post Ernie

    I don’t mind them revisiting issues that were glossed over in previous seasons in particular S3. My problems is how they handle those issues. Let me add my problems aren’t about S4 but about the show in general.

    In Suitcase the underlying issues were Sarah’s inability or fear to put down roots. That’s something that should be explored but the idea of not unpacking for eights was ridiculous and took away from the episode. But just like in Role Models we never really got to the core of her issues. Instead we in both episodes we got the standard “You know how I grew up” and “I know how you grew up” lines. Of course these lines are used because Sarah had been tragically underwritten for three straight seasons.

    Now in Cubic Z they tried to tell us that Sarah was like Heather Chandler. It seems like they were trying to build on the premise they setup in Nacho Sampler. That goes against in my opinion of Sarah’s character they had established in the first two seasons. If they had used Carina instead, it would’ve been more believable in my eyes.

    So finally we get to Fear of Death. Sarah’s gut shot went against everything she had told Chuck previously and it was clearly a way for the writers to setup the kidnapping. For me this would have been the perfect episode to revisit Final Exam. And no I don’t mean Red Tests. In FOD we know is Sarah is terrified of Chuck being in field alone but she knows he’ll use a gun. It would have been fitting had she forced one on him for protection in the episode. Then have Casey reveal his hesitation to shoot someone even to protect himself. So we would get two times Sarah has put a gun in his hand and her realizing that he only took a life to save her. Much more powerful drama in my opinion.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      JC, Thanks. And I understand your point. Sometimes the premises get a bit far-fetched as in Suitcase, but I think it’s exaggeration for effect, and as I mentioned I’ll forgive a lot if it sets up something fun or dramatic.

      As for Cubic Z I don’t think the writers were trying to tell us Sarah was like Heather, what they were telling us was Sarah’s self image. She sees herself as too cold and deceitful and unable or unwilling to love at some point in her past. I think we all know Sarah was more like Carina or Heather in the past, but even before she met Chuck it seems she was changing because of Bryce.

      As for the gut shot there is a discussion in Thinkling’s post about this and I agree with their general conclusion that Sarah was at the end of her rope since everyone, including Chuck seemed only concerned with the intersect and Chuck the spy rather than Chuck. Under stress she said something stupid that she didn’t mean to try to convince Chuck not to be a hero, when she knows that is exactly what he will do. She doesn’t mind him being a spy or a hero, but she doesn’t want him to do it without a team he can count on, and her, to back him up.

      • JC says:

        Like you it doesn’t bother me when its played for laughs but it does get under my skin when it’s used for drama. In fact that’s one of my problems with the show in general they use the same short cuts and leaps of logic when doing comedy as drama. And that doesn’t work for me.

  5. Anon says:

    It is clear to me now that the writers had already decided to up the stakes by the time season 2 finally aired.

    But also they had a certain place to go and ,with or without enough build-up, they were gonna go there.

    They wanted Chuck to leave Sarah behind-season 2 final through eyes of Chuck-,get Chuck and Sarah through new emotional barriers.

    Chuck got to be the one working against “fates” to reach Sarah while Shaw and Hannah said all the right things and did all the right moves when it mattered-which is frustrating-.

    When you do that and have the main character battered up this much,the show begins to lose appeal. Maybe that’s why,Season 3 didn’t bring in many new fans.

    Next time,don’t make a show centered about a couple and have them go through emotional break-down without explanation.Or main character to suffer multiple times in an episode.Just a hint. Chuck is supposed to be a spy show,make the drama centered around that.

    Casey didn’t even mentor Chuck,if he had we wouldn’t have had the Beard.

    Maybe they tried to get us think that” these people through all the hurt and misunderstanding still managed to connect because they loved each other.” But execution wasn’t good enough.

    One could even feel sympathy for Shaw if Chuck,Sarah and Casey didn’t suffer through emotional trainwreck themselves. After all that,the fans didn’t have room for more.

    Apology? These are the same writers who had Sarah talk about her dates with Shaw.Or Chuck to find a *certain* book.

    I think this is just explanation and pandering.After all,why bring up Shaw again,in this way, when you got 6 more episodes to do? TPTB seem to hold their ground while they are explaining the season 3 melodrama.

    I guess,this is an unfortunate thorn in the nature of this beast:Having O.C. style melodrama.

    • joe says:

      But also they had a certain place to go and ,with or without enough build-up, they were gonna go there.

      The train was not going to be derailed, it seems. I absolutely agree that, in hindsight especially, it feels exactly like they heard everything and decided they knew better.

      Honestly, Anon, I’m not 100% convinced they were wrong, and yes, please read all the conflicted emotions you can into that. But I sure do understand the fans’ reactions.

      • Anon says:

        It’s not a rightxwrong situation when you are telling a story involving characters who were created by you.

        But if you are gonna try to broaden your audience with more promos and have the protagonist face worse challenges-growing up=Intersect 2.0-,then it wasn’t a good road to take.

        It’s a matter of preference and i,like many people,would prefer better/different.

        Season 3 and Season 4 plots could have been combined and it would have been infinitely better than what we got.You could even leave Chuck’s mom to season 4.

        “I think this is just explanation and pandering”

        When i wrote that,i remembered a line. “Everything is perfect.” -Sarah

        And Chuck and Sarah were talking about everything-commitment and sex life included-,so at the very least,we know that when they are together,the build up was worth it according to the characters.

        When you have this much power over the story and still have to give episodes like 4×01 to 4×04 to the audience,then you,writers,know something was off last season.

      • jason says:

        joe – your reluctance to concede the point is interesting, only because fedak has pretty much conceded they were wrong. Surely you do not think you know better than he?

      • joe says:

        Touché, Jason! But… naw!

        I’m sure Mr. Fedak realizes that many fans didn’t like it, and he knows that any artistic arrogance is going to be (rightly) punished in the ratings. Anon, you and many others are absolutely correct in that! I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’d do it differently 2nd time around.

        But that doesn’t mean that “they” (Fedak and everyone else involved) didn’t ultimately make better artistic decisions than the rest of us (I use “artistic” because I really want to elevate Chuck at least a bit above the fare more commonly presented on television).

        We’ve seen some pretty great ideas about what *should* have happened in S3 right here. I have to admit, they do seem to be more entertaining to me than some of what we got. But that’s only a personal judgement on my part. I sure can’t say that, if I waved a wand and had make it happen, it would really work out so well. That’s not modesty; it’s merely a statement that when I’ve had the chance to do something analogous IRL, it seldom has lived up to my imagination.

        So I’ll stick to my statement, but emphasize that I always mean I’ll give TPTB the benefit of the doubt over my own conception, not that they couldn’t do it better!

      • jason says:

        joe – so you are thinking fedak was lying to get more fans, who he thinks got it wrong, interesting, I have always found higher odds in guessing people are telling the truth.

      • atcdave says:

        I do think you’re too deferential sometimes Joe. I do appreciate how respectful you are, but just because you (or any of us) aren’t professional writers doesn’t mean we can’t assess quality. There are any number of Fan Fiction writers I think could have crafted a better direction for S3. In fact, I think amateurs free of conventional wisdom would do better than a lot of writers currently in the business. I’m not denying there is a craft and profession that has needed skills and knowledge; I just think a large part of what went wrong with S3 comes down to a giant professional RUT.

        I know I’ve said all this before and I’m sorry for being repetitive. But like you Joe, I am greatly impressed with how they have learned from their mistakes. I was not sure if they could ever win me back completely, but they are on the cusp of doing exactly that. I am S2 excited again, and I believe the best is yet to come. And although I believe Schwedak’s “professionalism” partly caused the S3 debacle, I think its a testimony to professionalism that they have learned and recovered so nicely.

      • joe says:

        Jason, well yeah, but I think Fedak was being contrite, not that he admitted he was wrong! It’s the difference between saying that he’d do it different, and that he’d do exactly what the fans said he should do. They’re quite different.

        Or am I wrong? Did he imply that he’d actually follow the fan’s ‘scripts’???

        @Dave, Heh! The words are respectful, but I know you saw I was casting aspersions on our ability to do just that, only using myself as an example.

        See? I’m not such a nice guy after all! 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I am going to sort of back up Joe here (sorry Dave, we’re back to season 3 territory). Some of the fallout from season 3 was fannon versus cannon conflicts. A lot of us saw the story we wanted to see and didn’t take well to having that rug pulled. That was compounded by some creative decisions that backloaded all the relevant information that let us know what was going on. Sometimes you can get away with that in a show, but in this case it backfired as fans looked on in confusion, despair, and then anger as their fannon was burned to the ground for seemingly no reason and replaced with nothing. I will not say the story was inherantly flawed, but the storytelling had some obvious execution problems.

        With all the effort us fanatics put into getting the story under the story in previous seasons TPTB probably thought they could count on our diligence and patience to tide us through, but things were so confused, backloaded, and in some cases poorly presented that many of us were unable or unwilling to re-examine the story and find a new direction. That was most of what my defending Schwedak last season was about, and even at that they came close to losing me. They made it a bit too hard for my taste.

        So if Fedak is saying he feels he failed (and sorry as I feel for him, he has a point) I think it is a failure in execution and storytelling, not a failure in direction or the story. We may have wanted a different story or direction, but at some level we’re along for the ride, not driving the bus.

      • atcdave says:

        I think fannon vs. Canon is sort of an artificial distinction. Regardless of medium, storytelling is largely about the audience. So while the creative powers may control story elements and tone, if the audience perceives the tale in a particular way, the teller takes great risk in telling a different tale. Of course sometimes a bit of misdirection is part of the point; but dismantling a popular and cherished part of a tale is always going to be hazardous. So while I would not question TPTB ability to spin things their own way, I will question the wisdom in upsetting fans. And again, that goes to the very heart of storytelling. A POed audience is unlikely to return for more, whether the story teller is sitting at a campfire or writing a screen play.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, I don’t totally disagree with you, but the fannon in this case was a little more limiting than some. In this case I think it tended to shut out many other possibilities about where the story could go.

        Now at the basic level I agree, the inability of the storyteller to get the audience to invest in a new twist or turn is the storyteller’s problem, not the audience’s.

      • atcdave says:

        I would object to calling it “limiting”. A major part of the audience certainly wanted, and thought they had got a particular story; when, as you put it, the rug was yanked out from under them.

        TPTB now find themselves exactly where they apparently didn’t want to be at the start of S3, but even more so. They have less flexibility than they would have if they’d just told this story in the first place because so much goodwill was expended many viewers will take nothing on faith.

        Funny we’re still arguing about this. The show is in great place now and I couldn’t be happier. I just think S3 was a big mistake and was foolish decision making and poor planning.

      • Anon says:

        “So if Fedak is saying he feels he failed (and sorry as I feel for him, he has a point) I think it is a failure in execution and storytelling, not a failure in direction or the story. We may have wanted a different story or direction, but at some level we’re along for the ride, not driving the bus.”

        I disagree.Just because fans aren’t at the wheel,doesn’t mean fans don’t get to decide whether they want to be on the bus or not. And we know when people get off.

        When you drive the story to a place like Season 3,you have to be careful to not make characters unlikable or have fans uncaring.

        I had no fannon knowledge prior to season 3. So when i examine all the seasons,i can see the consistency in some areas.

        But when i look at it and compare it to Season 3 plots,i realize that i like fannon better. And Season 3 didn’t offer anything refreshing or “better” than fannon.Which i expect it to.

        After all,that’s why tptb is getting paid 🙂

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, I think that where I consider last season’s fannon limiting is where we decided the state of the relationship, they each knew how the other felt and were secure in that knowledge after Barstow (i.e. it is real was all that needed to be said) closed off the possibility that either could go backward as we’d seen them do before. There was a great reluctance among some to accept that the breakup in Prague was even possible within the constructed fannon. At that point, when the fans over-rule the writers, it is fannon and it is limiting to the point of being counterproductive. Just my opinion.

        Anon, agreed, we decide if we want to be on or off the bus, that’s the weekly contract. If they go too many weeks without paying off that contract we start getting off the bus. What we can’t do is demand that we stay on the bus but that it take us where we want to go by the route we want.

        The writers have a unified goal and route, the fans will always split, so as a purely practical matter we need to let the writers drive the bus and either trust them, or get off. That doesn’t mean we can’t have our input heard and considered by the writers, and to what degree they listen is up to them based on their professional and creative experience and vision.

      • Anon says:

        Season 3 could give the show stronger legs.

        It was a missed opportunity,imho.That’s why I’m not as forgiving as other people.

        The story we got with Shaw,certainly didn’t amaze anyone.

        I think Prague was possible.Sarah opening up to Shaw,was possible. Just because these situations were possible,doesn’t magically make a compelling story.

        And i don’t like the “ends justify means” mantra generally. Certainly 3×13 or 3×14 didn’t justify the grim aspects of season 3 plot.

        Again,next time be aware of the fannon or the reactions to the story.It could actually help…

        It’s so weird to see a story like Shaw’s.TPTB really threw him under the bus when writing the story.Shaw is a weird character to create.Really.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Anon, I agree that season 3 seems like a missed opportunity, that was one point I was making, we’re playing catchup a bit because elements that played below the surface or poorly in season 3 are now being re-visited so we have the necessary background going forward. The direction of last season is something we’ll never really know if it could have been a compelling story. I think it could have been, right up to and including the OLI’s, but the decision to backload nearly EVERYTHING we needed to know to explain Chuck and Sarah’s actions in particular and the lack of any knowledge of Shaw or his purpose was the biggest creative mistake IMHO. It still might not have played well, but I think it would have played better.

        Now, some of this is going to depend on, as I said, your personal level of tollerance for certain things and individual taste, but I’ll end with this. The storytellers job is to tell a good story well. You can have a good story and tell it poorly, or you can have a poor story that cannot be told well. I think the first was the case. Though it wasn’t the direction a lot of us saw I think there was potential for a compelling story in season 3 precisely because I liked so many elements of the season. Others like Dave will disagree, and I respect that, but it doesn’t mean I’ll give up my story and the parts I liked. As long as everyone respects each others individual tastes, even Joe’s apalling lack of it (Just kidding Joe!!) we can still have a lot of fun discussing even what many of us didn’t like. That’s just really cool in my opinion.

      • JC says:

        I think it comes down to how they did things in S3 not what they did. We’ve seen Chuck give up on having a relationship with Sarah before in Break-Up. What I couldn’t buy about Prague was Chuck not making the confession he did in Three Words.

        Sarah and Shaw wouldn’t have bothered me had he actually shown any personality. If he had been a Bryce or Cole type I easily could have accepted it. But he was basically a robot and that reflected badly on Sarah. All you have do is work with her and she’ll sleep with you. Poor Casey he never got any.

        Then you have Hannah who in concept could have worked but the way she was brought into the show was clumsy at best. It ignored what they had established before. A woman follows the Intersect across the globe and nobody questioned that? They vetted Lou like there was no tomorrow but now that Chuck is even more dangerous nobody cared? Stupid and lazy writing.

        The same goes for Chuck’s non existent training. Seriously it consisted of him being tossed into the deep end of pool and told sink or swim.

        Then you Shaw in general. All he did was screw up at basically everything and nobody noticed. That killed his character, he’s a super spy who can’t tie his own shoes.

        Finally the “spy plots” I’ll just mention that Chuck’s life was put in constant danger for five year old intelligence that we never learned about. Seriously?

      • Anon says:

        What they did in Season 3,could have been saved by how they did it.

        ” What I couldn’t buy about Prague was Chuck not making the confession he did in Three Words.”

        Yes,that was a stretch.

        “But he was basically a robot and that reflected badly on Sarah. All you have do is work with her and she’ll sleep with you. Poor Casey he never got any.”

        A- Sarah looks for temporary stability. She has “daddy issues”. That’s why she was vulnerable to Bryce and Shaw. Casey remarks on that in season 1.

        And Chuck had damaged her much worse than Bryce had ever done.She had lost Bryce and Chuck. Shaw was someone who suffered the same fate. And he saved Sarah’s life = trust earned.

        B- Casey wasn’t her type,he is more closed off than Shaw ever was.

        C- He wasn’t interested 😛

        “Then you have Hannah who in concept could have worked but the way she was brought into the show was clumsy at best.”

        It wasn’t clear whether there was a background check or not. But it was really weird to see no one warn chuck about dating another Lou. After that,he should have known better.

        “The same goes for Chuck’s non existent training. Seriously it consisted of him being tossed into the deep end of pool and told sink or swim.”

        Shaw replaced Beckman in that regard. After all those months in Prague,Intersect was gonna either function or fail.That made the show look darker.

        Like i said,Shaw is a weird character to create.

      • JC says:

        @Anon

        I have to disagree with two points.

        Bryce was no way like Shaw, in fact I always saw Bryce as a super confident version of Chuck. Sarah has always had a thing for nerds.

        And the point about Shaw saving her life. It was his screw up that put them both in danger and in the end Chuck saved them both. But like the whole season nobody ever pointed out what an incompetent buffoon Shaw was.

        Not too long ago I watched S1 and then S3. I was shocked by the similarities, it was like they took those scripts and scratched out Bryce and Lou. Then replaced them with Shaw and Hannah. I was shocked how S3 felt like a poorly thought out rehash of S1.

      • herder says:

        One of the wierd things about last episode is once again you have the CIA spouting the theory that there is nothing wrong with Chuck that can’t be fixed by having him control(read eliminate) his emotions. Beckman pushed the idea in Pink Slip, Shaw believed it until the end of Ring II, they created a pill to accomplish it in Tic Tac.

        After the spectacular failure of all these approaches here comes Rye with the same idea yet again, only he personifies Chuck’s emotions as being Sarah, which he has to declare that he doesn’t need in order to be able to flash.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, yes, the CIA seems to get a volume discount for stupid sticks.

      • Anon says:

        “Bryce was no way like Shaw, in fact I always saw Bryce as a super confident version of Chuck. Sarah has always had a thing for nerds.”

        I don’t think Bryce showed his nerd side to anyone but his college friends. Bryce was more different than “a confident Chuck”.

        But you may be right too.I just don’t remember/know of evidence supporting that.

        “And the point about Shaw saving her life. It was his screw up that put them both in danger and in the end Chuck saved them both. But like the whole season nobody ever pointed out what an incompetent buffoon Shaw was.”

        It was his screw-up.Like Chuck causing the vials to break in “vs. The truth”.

        Shaw and Sarah got through that together. That signals a new level of trust.

      • JC says:

        Yeah calling Bryce just a more confident Chuck wasn’t the right choice of words. They do share a lot of the same qualities Sarah finds attractive but there are major differences.

        I don’t think you can compare Chuck’s screw up considering he had been in the spy world as an asset for under a year to Shaw’s in Mask. He had to have been a spy for at least ten years and considering we saw the containment unit used in the previous episode it makes both Sarah and Shaw look like morons.

        And honestly it’s pointless to debate or analyze because it was a poor attempt at showing they had some kind of connection IMO. I’m burned out of the S3 conversations.

      • First Timer says:

        Since I don’t have as much as most invested in Chuck and Sarah, I try to look at Season 3 this way: What character traits did Chuck and Sarah pick up in S3E1 to S3E13 that they didn’t have before? And I can’t find one.

        Try this experiment for yourself and see if you agree:
        Leave S1 and S2 exactly as they are. Then start S3 where it ostensibly began without the non-linear presentation: Chuck, Sarah and Casey come back to Castle after Chuck saves them and Sarah immediately pitches a runaway. Chuck agrees. Then flash ahead three weeks to Prague. But this time Chuck goes with Sarah. They get on a train together planning to run away. And the result is, quite literally, Honeymooners. And then you pick up the story…

        What, exactly, would be missing if you literally skipped most of Pink Slip through to the begining of Honeymooners? From the Chuck and Sarah relationship, nothing. At least it seems that way to me.

        I freely admit some mythology went on in Season 3: Shaw’s voyage to villaindom, the marginal Ring backstory, Devon and Ellie’s story. Morgan’s development.

        But from the Chuck-Sarah angle, you really can go from end of Ring to Sarah pitches runaway to Prague. And if Chuck says yes, you move to Honeymooners and not miss a beat in their current relationship.

        On a show that relies so heavily on that relationship (to the unfortunately exclusion of other things, as I say below), that is astonishing. More than 12 episodes that, from the relationship standpoint, has been de facto repudiated by the writers.

      • Anon says:

        “What, exactly, would be missing if you literally skipped most of Pink Slip through to the begining of Honeymooners? From the Chuck and Sarah relationship, nothing. At least it seems that way to me.”

        You may be right.

        But i don’t think Sarah would be as open with Chuck if Chuck didn’t first-hand experience what it was like to be a member of the black ops team.

        Burning assets-now you know why there could be no relationship-,killing moles,etc.

        Do the ends justify the means? No.

      • atcdave says:

        I’m sure it will surprise no one that I agree strongly with First Timer on this. But then I’ve said the same thing several times. I literally mean they ended the season the way they should have started it.

  6. joe says:

    Ack! Ernie, now you have a problem.
    I don’t know how you’re going to top this when we review the season-to-date during the December break!

    And leave it to you to reference my favorite song from one of the greatest albums of all time.

    All the questions of a thousand dreams,
    what you do and what you see.
    Lover can you talk –
    to me?

  7. atcdave says:

    One big difference between S3 and S4 is that Ernie and I agree far more often now. I think the biggest lingering fallout from the season of our discontent is the distrust many of us now feel towards the writers. I would say so far I’m loving this season, but I understand why some are nervous. I strongly feel they are delivering the season they should have done in S3. Which leads directly to the second issue I see, some of relationship issues feel recycled because they were poorly or incompletely done last season. I think concerns about the minor angst of Suitcase or Sarah showing an uncharacteristic lack of confidence on Chuck at the end of FOD get bigger reactions from us than they otherwise would because it does feel like we’ve seen this before.
    If only 3.01 – 3.13 could be scrubbed from our collective memories I think fan excitement would be cranked up to 11 right now. I really do think this is the best it’s ever been.

    • JC says:

      Dave its not the what but the how. I mentioned above in my post that every recycled issue they’ve done is perfectly valid and should be explored but it’s the way they do it that’s frustrating.

      And for me personally the gut shot scene in FOD was my limit.

      • atcdave says:

        I know you’re not the only one who feels that way JC; but it just doesn’t register as that big a deal to me. Although Chuck clearly felt challenged to prove himself (yet again), he showed no animosity about it. And Sarah was regretful the moment she said it. So it really just registers as another silly angst moment to me, I would have preferred if they came up with a more mission oriented reason why he got captured. But now we have a Sarah who not only wants to rescue her man, but she feels some need to prove or redeem herself too. A clumsy scene yes, but the fall out is all good.

      • JC says:

        I think Chuck was angry as they allow him to be by the comment.

        And for me it wasn’t really the comment itself but that it felt false. Now if I thought that it would be brought up again that would be one thing. But I highly doubt they will, which is even more frustrating.

      • jason says:

        JC – why false – chuck is not a spy – he can’t kill – he can’t even shoot a gun – if sarah were pinned down by fire today, he have to hand the guns to cole, just like he did in season 2 – now chuck in episode 4×1, he looked ready to take on an army, but for some reason, since that time he has slowly slunk back to useless and clueless – sarah is right, he should go home do the dishes and cook her dinner, she is the man of her house

      • atcdave says:

        I think I get what JC is saying. It felt false because Sarah respects Chuck more than that. There is a basis in truth; Chuck who is reluctant to use deadly force, and can only defend himself via the Intersect will quickly get himself in trouble playing with the big spies.
        But Sarah knows Chuck is creative, clever and knowledgeable and has ALWAYS respected his dignity. It would have been nice if she said something more sophisticated like “You’re great at information gathering and problem solving; not so good at protecting yourself without the Intersect!” What she said seemed sort of “unSarah-like.”

      • luckygirl says:

        The whole point of the moment to me was that it was un-Sarah like. She had been slowly winding up this whole episode with fear and anxiety and then she snapped. She wasn’t rational Sarah in that moment she was do or say whatever I have to so I can keep Chuck alive Sarah. People sometimes say stupid things when they are scared. It had absolutley nothing to do with how much she respects him or lack of confidence. I equate her saying that to Chuck locking her in castle to save Shaw. It had nothing to do with capability but keeping the other from harm.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh you’re right LuckyGirl, we’ve discussed that here too. What Sarah said was done in a moment of panic. I think she wanted Chuck to just get out of there safe. And I think she knew as soon as she said it that she’d pretty much thrown down a gauntlet, and now Chuck HAD to prove himself. So we saw a regretful Sarah blaming herself for the rest of the episode.

      • thinkling says:

        Sarah had been pushed to a breaking point already by everything she had seen Chuck endure. She has a clear view of the danger and risk to Chuck’s life that nobody else seems to care about as long as whatever happens gets him to flash … preferably without getting him killed; but as long as he flashes, Captain Crazy won’t quibble over minor details. The “safety net” line is absolutely one of my favorites. Perfect delivery that clearly indicated Sarah thought everybody was nuts. I agree.

        If he had a gun or even a tranque gun, she could feel better. This is where I differ from Jason. Chuck is perfectly capable of shooting without the Intersect. He killed Shaw without it and has used a tranque pistol many times without flashing. However, this exercise is expressly to get him to flash, so he has no weapons. That’s part of the problem, to everyone else it’s an exercise. To Sarah it’s real danger. So, without the Intersect OR any weapons and with no partner apart from a moronic scientist, Chuck is indeed defenseless.

        Everyone is so focused on the Intersect, they have forgotten Chuck. This both frustrates and infuriates her. She is the only one looking out for Chuck, including Chuck. If Chuck doesn’t get the Intersect back, it’s not the end of the world. If she doesn’t get Chuck back, it IS the end of the world.

        That’s the context of her outburst. As Dave said, she regretted it on many levels, but I can certainly understand where it’s coming from.

      • jason says:

        @think – I agree with what you said and how u said it, my point is again a frustration with TPTB’s story – in 4×1 interesected chuck took down 10 trained assassins with ease, in 3×13 he tracked down, and beat shaw largely without much interesect help – the worlds best spy – now he is as helpless as a little boy just as he was in S1 or S2, I am frustrated at the regression of the story

        There probably will be some point to it, but chuck has been a disaster as a manly heroic character this season except for the first episode. I think the role reversal comment made by schwartz is in pretty clear context right now – right?

      • herder says:

        Thinkling “If Chuck doesn’t get the intersect back it isn’t the end of the world. If she doesn’t get Chuck back it IS the end of the world.”

        I’ve tried many times to express why Sarah’s blunt comment didn’t bother me that much, in two sentences you hit the nail on the head. Wonderful.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks, Herder. Any time I manage to say anything in two sentences it’s a rare day.

      • joe says:

        I’ll back up herders notion on the end of the world, Thinkling. That was a great way of putting it.

        And now I’m not quite sure why I didn’t see it that way myself earlier!

      • JC says:

        @Dave

        That’s a large part of it. And even that wouldn’t have bothered me if I believed the writers would address it in upcoming episodes. But I doubt they will.That comment in my opinion was worse than the going behind his back in Aisle that led to their fight. What makes it worse is that during First Fight, Chuck told Sarah he needs her to believe in him. So either the comment was just a way for the writers to get Chuck kidnapped or it’ll be another issues swept under the rug.

        And if I go along the heat of moment argument it’s been my experience those are when we’re at are most truthful. The filter between the brain and mouth is gone. So Sarah does believe Chuck is worthless without the 2.0 and all the previous comments were lies.

      • thinkling says:

        No, without the 2.0 and without weapons and without backup (Rye clearly doesn’t count), surrounded by men with guns, Chuck is defenseless. That’s a far cry from worthless, which was in no way implied by the statement.

        The only topic at hand is the ability to handle the bad guys and not get killed. His other spy abilities were never in question.

      • JC says:

        Look at everyone’s reactions to her statement in that scene. Everyone took at as Chuck without the Intersect isn’t a spy. So whether she meant it or not that’s how it came across.

      • atcdave says:

        Although Thinkling, Sarah’s comment was pretty comprehensive. It’s true she didn’t denigrate Chuck’s personal qualities that we know Sarah values quite highly; but she did deliver a pretty all inclusive slam of his professional quality. Now I certainly do agree that she didn’t mean it that way; But I think the resolution has to be either Chuck proves himself as a spy, and Sarah has to conclude Chuck is a valuable agent with or without a functioning Intersect. OR, Chuck makes peace with the idea his total spy identity is tied to the Intersect, and if it isn’t working he’s best off hiding behind Sarah. You can guess which one I would rather see happen.

        And JC, I do believe it will be addressed. Chuck will either facilitate his own rescue or he will gain some key bit of intel, and Sarah will be pleased to admit Chuck is a valuable agent even when he isn’t at his peak.

      • thinkling says:

        Context and what she meant are everything. There is nothing in either the context or her words, in that scene or the episode, or any other episode this season to imply that Sarah believes Chuck is worthless. It’s the word itself that bothers me … pretty harsh.

      • JC says:

        @Thinkling

        I didn’t mean worthless as a person but worthless as a spy. And Dave beat me to it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Think of it in this context. Sarah has always said that what makes Chuck great and the reason she loves him is because he IS NOT like every other spy out there. He did not, and could not pass his red test and he is almost completely unwilling to use lethal force except in the most dire situation. Chuck has many talents, but without the intersect in a guaranteed throwdown arrest and/or abduction against multiple enemies he is NOT the man for the job. Period. That’s Casey territory. Chuck is not Casey and never will be.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, Sarah already knows that he is a valuable agent without the Intersect. But she knows that he can’t defend himself with just his bare hands. Sarah clearly wanted the chance to explain all that, b/c she said they’d talk when she got there. I assume the conversation will still take place and that we will see some part of it.

        On the up side, Morgan will get a new perspective on Sarah, what Chuck means to her, her anguish at his capture, what she will have gone through to find him. Perhaps he will pass that along.

      • jason says:

        the line did not bother me at all – it is the truth – he is a remarkable hero – he is not a spy with or without the intersect – since he cheated to pass his red test – he is a hero – he is not a spy – I have a feeling sarah could no longer pass a red test either, not so sure casey is all that far behind saying ‘no mas’ to execution style killings either – chuck who isn’t a spy is going to redefine how they all are, he already is how they all aspire to be

      • JC says:

        It still comes down to the point that no matter what Sarah meant it came off as without the Intersect Chuck is worthless as a spy. And I would argue that everyone but Sarah took her comment as that.

      • thinkling says:

        @Ernie: Yes. Exactly. Sarah’s heart is fully invested in this topic of risking Chuck’s life. But she is also thinking with a clearer head than anyone else for the reasons you just described.

        I’m going to borrow my paragraph from the observation thread, b/c it fits with what you said, Ernie. Sarah is of a mixed mind in her view of Chuck as a spy.

        When Chuck asked, “But am I a spy?” Sarah hesitated. I think there was a lot of parsing going on there. In the end she told him what he needed to hear, without lying. Without the Intersect, she knows he isn’t able to defend himself (So, No). But he has much to offer to his spy job without it: resourcefulness, intelligence, etc. He found Shaw, killed him, and saved her, all without the Intersect. (So, Yes) Then again on some level, Sarah doesn’t see Chuck as a spy. She has always believed in him and thought of him as a true hero with or without the intersect. (So, Yes, sort of) But he’s never been or ever will be Bryce or Shaw or Casey. (So, No, Sort of) He has kept a slice of innocence that most spies lose; and thanks to him, her Chuck, she is a better person (promo #2, anyone?). She needs him to be OK. She needs him to be Chuck. And on some emotionally visceral level she needs him to not be a spy, even though she knows he’s a good one, especially with the Intersect.

      • atcdave says:

        Thinkling, I don’t think the issue here is how Sarah meant it (we know she loves and respects Chuck). The issue here is how Chuck (and other listeners) took it. At the time it was said it played to all of Chuck’s worst fears, so he took it in the worst possible way. Other listeners, maybe lacking all of Sarah’s internal context, also seemed to take it harshly. Like you, I felt Sarah regretted it as soon as she said it (probably because she realized it sounded worse than she meant it); but the damage was done and Chuck took the challenge.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, you just solved it for me. Sarah is being completely honest when she says No, Chuck, you’re not.

        Sarah and Casey are spies. They follow orders, lie, deceive, kill and trust nobody. That is not Chuck, therefore Chuck is not a spy and Sarah doesn’t think of him as one. He’s something more. He’s a hero.

        Under normal circumstances she wouldn’t blurt out that she doesn’t consider him a spy because he’s better than that, and boy does it come out wrong, but it is her clear headed realism, knowing he is wrong for this job, mixed with the girlfriend trying to get across that he has nothing to prove that leads to the unfortunate outburst, and now the need to fix it.

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie, it’s kind of complicated, isn’t it?

        Dave, I agree that it came out worse than she meant and it needs to be fixed and she realized it. I still don’t like the word worthless, even is a professional context.

        So, I kept rolling this around in my head in traffic. I think there is another level that wasn’t lost on anybody. Some of the looks, General Beckman’s raised eyebrow. I think by the time Sarah blurted out the “No, Chuck you’re not,” most everybody knew there were two discussions going on. Some of the looks said whoa, it’s gonna be chilly in the Bartowski home tonight. I think they knew they were in the middle of a lovers quarrel, and it wasn’t cool. Yikes.

      • atcdave says:

        Hey, worthless wasn’t me! The hazards of playing mediator.

      • jason says:

        @think / ernie / dave – a great subject for one of you guys to write about would be how various issues affect various fans, then how the use of humor or drama can set one off based on how strongly one cares about the issue. An example is Morgan’s use, some love him, more use the better, some think he is way over used. I tend to think he is overused, but yet, they could strap him to a wall, beat him senseless for each ep, 10 straight eps, I would not care, I would love a 20 something male cia agent come and steal alex, for real, I would laugh and laugh – do any of the same to sarah or ellie or chuck or casey, I’m not laughing. But not only that, now all of a sudden jeff, lester, and bob riddle aren’t so funny to me either. I have been sort of studying what I like in TV, chuck seems to have a bit of a unique effect on me along the lines I am describing.

        I think it may be because they try near absurd humor side by side with somewhat riveting drama, at times making the drama seem almost punative to whatever character has to absorb the blow?

        Anyone understand what I am driving at here????

      • atcdave says:

        One obvious thing, we’re all invested in Chuck in a way we aren’t with much else. So the things we love or hate will all seem bigger than on other shows.

      • jason says:

        i don’t know dave, I honestly like watching FNL’s more than chuck, it is a teen angst drama, no comedy, most of the major stars have had LI’s, this season the youngest female character and member of probably the most shipped couple, is dating a married man. Does not bother me a bit. That is what you expect when you watch a serious show like FNL’s.

        Chuck has jeff, morgan, and lester on it, it is not serious, beckman is a parody, and she is never right, it is a joke, yet, Chuck will punch someone like JC in the stomach with sarah’s line, or joe in 3.12, or me most any time chuck and sarah don’t act exactly how I want them to, Dave, you may have been worse than me last season, but you must have gotten some great meds or something cause this season you are as stable as a rock, for some reason, this show gets to people? Interesting for sure?

      • atcdave says:

        Just don’t start any rumors about me and meds, I could loose my job over that!

        You are right about how things affect us differently. To me, 3.13 ended the things I was actually angry about. I still have criticisms, but nothing has risen to the angry level (well, maybe some of the Sham talk in Living Dead) since then. I guess it’s obvious what my main hot button is!
        There are a few things I would change about the show if I could; I usually see things much the same way as you, Thinkling, Father Rick, and a few others. But even among that group there are often differences in exactly how much we care about things and what our hot buttons are. I guess it isn’t shocking to say no two of us are exactly alike.

      • JC says:

        I tend to get angry at the needless corners they write themselves in on a regular basis. That to me is more maddening than any PLIs or angst. I swear its like they forget what they had written the previous episode sometimes.

        And from a fan standpoint it makes me think they don’t care as much about the story as we do.

      • atcdave says:

        JC I’m actually pretty sure that’s true; the writers, actually nobody, cares as much about some of the details of the show as we do. Remember the old SNL bit with Shatner at the Trek convention having a meltdown? His declaration of “get a life!” likely sums up what many of them really think about us. For them it is a job. Even if they love their job and take it seriously, I’m sure many of them lack the passion and obsession we feel. We have likely analyzed the show in far more depth here than any writer or producer ever will. I don’t mean that to disparage their work at all, it’s to their credit that we find so much of it so fascinating; but I bet they often find us scary or even intimidating in a way.

      • JC says:

        No doubt about that Dave and I’m forgiving of minor issues because even in the most well planned out show that happens. What bothers me are the major gaffs that contradict previous episodes without any explanation. If they put a little more effort and thought into it they wouldn’t have those problems. Its those things that have convinced me that there was no five year plan and most story lines are written on the fly.

      • Faith says:

        I think me and JC have been of similar mind for some of S4. That’s rare 😉 lol. Just kidding JC.

      • JC says:

        No worries Faith. I realize most of the time my opinion is in the minority. Look at this way Bryce is favorite character on the show that alone probably puts me in a group of five people at most. 😉

      • atcdave says:

        I wouldn’t quite say favorite, but I mostly liked Bryce. Break-Up is still one of my favorite episodes, I love Sarah choosing Chuck over Bryce, that never gets old. Bryce is sort of a hard luck pretty boy.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      In S1 & S2 we saw Chuck and Sarah as characters who would never lose faith in each other. There was nothing that one character would do that could make the other turn away. From this came easily the most compelling (yes “epic”) relationship on TV.

      In S3, TPTB decided to show us that indeed there were scenarios where the characters would turn away from one another, and made the character not very likable in the process, thus showing a relationship no different than most on TV. TPTB believe that Sarah “choosing” Chuck and DYLM cleaned up all the mess when what’s it really done (including 3.14 to 4.06) is cover core issues up. They never returned both the characters to the core relationship of “there is nothing in the world that make us turn away from each other”. This required some setup prior to DYLM which we didn’t get and now I believe we are looking for it.

      What is this necessary setup? I can’t tell you, I just know that it’s missing and likely / hopefully what we are to get in the next few episodes. and probably started to get it in 4.07 & 4.08.

      Will any of this return the relationship to “epic”, probably not, I think that ship has sailed (at least for me) to never return. I hope I’m wrong. But what it could do is get rid of the hangover left by S3.

      • luckygirl says:

        “In S1 & S2 we saw Chuck and Sarah as characters who would never lose faith in each other.”

        I never understand when people say this because Chuck was constantly questioning Sarah’s loyalty and sometimes even what kind of person she was right up until she went rogue with him at the end of season 2.

      • atcdave says:

        But Chuck would do anything for her and vice versa. That was part of the appeal, they were completely hooked on each other, and every knew it, except they were denying it to each other (and possibly themselves). 2.21 was important because it was the first time Chuck knew Sarah cared about him above and beyond the job. Sarah knew how Chuck felt for quite a while longer. But it was still a beautiful thing to see, until S3 when they did give up on each other.

      • luckygirl says:

        But they never completely trusted each other. I guess I equate faith and trust which I think they are constantly working on. I just see it as something that has to be learned tested and tried with these two. For me at least.

      • atcdave says:

        I thought they trusted each other pretty completely early on. Not absolutely, there were a few appropriate moments of doubts. But after Helicopter I always considered their mutual trust to be one of their defining characteristics.

      • luckygirl says:

        To much of each other was unknown for me I guess to see the trust as almost complete. I tend to see it as they didn’t have emotional trust. He was constantly being persuaded not to trust her by Carina, Jill, Orion. And she couldn’t even manage to tell him why she went rogue for him in 2.21. Then she finally acknowleged some ofher feelings at the end of the episode and yet she was still thinking of leaving with Bryce at the beginning of 2.22.

      • luckygirl says:

        Or to put it like this. She could trust him because what’s not to trust but he couldn’t trust her because she couldn’t or wouldn’t do or share certain things. Which I think would be quite destructive to the foundation of a relationship.

      • Anon says:

        ” There was nothing that one character would do that could make the other turn away”

        I think we saw one of the few scenarios where that could happen in Season 3. Even then they always looked back to one another.

        For many,that killed the novelty. Considering that,
        with Sarah Walker you get only one strike-Bryce,anyone?-: Chuck getting her back and Sarah deciding twice to give up everything for Chuck is pretty epic.

        “Then she finally acknowleged some ofher feelings at the end of the episode and yet she was still thinking of leaving with Bryce at the beginning of 2.22.”

        I think this was an early sign of things to come in Season 3.

        We knew their devotion,characters knew but never acknowledged openly.

      • atcdave says:

        Since Chuck and Sarah’s relationship was NOT as a committed couple for the first two seasons, I didn’t see the “emotional” trust as very important. That came in the appropriate course of events. But after Sarah’s speech in Helicopter, Chuck trusted her with his welfare. The life and death sort of stuff. To me, that seems more important anyway. And all the other characters you mentioned who damaged that trust for a bit, were significant exactly for that reason, they damaged the defining trust of the key relationship. They were the exceptions to the rule.

        Anon you’re exactly right about S3. That loss of faith in each other, for most of the season, sucked the fun right out of the show.

      • Faith says:

        I think what Joseph meant was that in S1 and S2, you never got the feeling that they wouldn’t be there for each other. In S3 that was different.

        I don’t really consider that trust…I think I’m almost annoyingly repetitive in my perception of their trust issues lol but I do agree with him that what changed was that commitment/faith.

        Think of it this way, when the stakes are on the line, and duty comes calling, Sarah has always picked Chuck and in some ways so has Chuck (he’s picked Sarah).

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Dave, we agreed more last season than you think. I largely agree about the direction I wish the story went and about what played poorly. I don’t think I was as vehnement as you that certain things were a failure, but that comes down to a matter of individual taste and levels of tollerance. I don’t mind depressing drama if done well, even though I think it largely misplaced in Chuck.

      To put it another way last season you and I were already displaying some of what we see this season with you and some other readers. I liked First Class and Nacho Sampler, whereas with you they were already passing your tolerance level with Chuck flirting with Hannah in First Class and with Sarah leaving Chuck to drink alone in Nacho Sampler. I even enjoyed most of The Mask believe it or not.

      My biggest beef last season was that rather than move the plot forward they flogged the dead horse too long. Despite having an idea where I thought they were going, we were in a holding pattern. I’m sure you know how frustrating that can be.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh yeah Ernie, and to me that holding pattern lasted ALL season (well to 3.13).

      • joe says:

        And I’m not really all that far from either of your positions. IIRC, I enjoyed The Mask too (Chuck doing what Shaw couldn’t, Sarah dissing Shaw for Chuck in the museum, great fight scene… all that was good stuff). I enjoyed it right up until the last few minutes.

        But I’m a bitter-clinger-onner. For me, it wasn’t until Am. Hero that I lost it, right at the place where most people were starting to find relief. That almost blinded me to the resolution that was coming quickly.

      • Faith says:

        Hey it’s not love if you don’t beat it over the head with a stick. Heh.

  8. kg says:

    A Homerun Ernie. I love season four, too. I’m not necessarily saying it’s season two, or my love is as deeep, but my simmering anticipation of the next episode (in this case 4-9 Phase Three) is very, very familiar.

    I never missed a Monday viewing of season three, but taking your advice I lowered my expectations to help cope with what I dreaded in advance. And of course, there were some S-3 shows that left me in a bad place even after I lowered my aforementioned expectations and curbed my enthusiasm.

    Your analysis of season three and your declaration that four is what three should have been is brilliant, keen, articulate, passionate and well crafted. It’s a very strong and witty piece, yet the assemblage is so clear and plain, one can easily decipher or understand your point of view. Basically, it’s very good, detail oriented, makes sense and the folks get it.

    I stopped my hand wringing and obsessive worrying during the middle of Other Guy. Sarah and Chuck were together. I didn’t much care why and I knew that no matter what, they’d stay togeher. I agree. None of their individual problems were necessarily solved and being a real couple and remaining in the business was likely going to lead to some more. But THEY WERE/ARE TOGETHER. There was no longer any need to piss, moan or whine.

    Characters You Can Count On: Chuck wants to be more like Sarah. She wants to be more like Chuck. I like that. Because their loving feelings for each other are genuine. That’s not an issue. Each would do anything to protect or save the other. Sarah has admitted she would say yes if/when Chucks asks her for real.

    Ernie’s right. The drama now exists with the story and not the two main characters.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks KG for the kind words, and I’m glad I could help. Lowering my expectations for when we were going to get some answers, or how fast the story was going to move helped me a lot, but truthfully after some hope in Final Exam, American Hero was almost the limits of my tolerance for artificial roadblocks. I was having a hard time believing I’d ever get the level of enthusiasm back I had going into season 3, but this season is making me believe.

      The drama now exists with the story and not the two main characters.

      Perfectly stated.

  9. jason says:

    ernie, we already have tried to give angst 7 or 8 different names in season 4, lets move forward, get this cute couple married, and see if we can find another half million viewers. The OC style angst show failed miserably in season 3, a misery arc under any other name is still a misery arc, lets have a joyful clebration arc and take our chances – how about it??????.

    • Anon says:

      While it would be good to see Chuck and Sarah married,you don’t want to overdo the cuteness.

      Just like drama.You have to be able to balance the themes to keep people interested.

      I’m not soap opera fan.I wouldn’t even like Chuck if it was just that. But fun and excitement was the things that attracted me.

      Then tptb made chuck purely about Chuck,Sarah and their unhappiness. Of course,when the characters who deliver the laughter are stretched thin to the point of breaking and their flaws magnified;you just lose the fun.

      Shaw,Hannah,Sam,Prague.

      • jason says:

        yea – but so far they have done one episode without any angst, where cs were in a pure state of joy, it was a bottle ep, no mythology, no great guest stars, just MR and MRS charles and casey / morgan, result, a concensus best episode of series.

        It is remarkable that hundreds of thousands of words calling for angst and mythology can be generated on the various blogs, yet each time chuck tries that garbage it has failed, when joy, fun, teamwork, totoal trust and commitment between chuck sarah was tried once, it WAS AN EPIC SUCCESS.

        Is it so entirely illogical to suggest it would work again?

      • Anon says:

        You have a point. Some would prefer build-up to that kind of happiness though.

        And first episodes of season 4 were happy,weren’t they?

        If they can make it interesting,i have no problems watching it. I wouldn’t even mind if Ellie and Sarah talked about 3 years of “fake” relationship.

      • jason says:

        anon 4.1 thru 4.4 were alot like 3.15 thru 3.17, each ep they fought over something, had some obstacle in their way, chuck lied or got stupid or decided to ogle another chick, or sarah went on mission for 90 days or 31 days, always something – the make it interesting that everyone wants – the only ep TPTB let them ‘be’ was 3.14, I guess they didn’t like the fan reaction, since they have not repeated the ‘charles’ theme

      • atcdave says:

        Although I’m enjoying the season immensely I do agree Honeymooners was the best of the best. I wish they would give us episodes like that more often. To me, Chuck and Sarah happy together is the key to me enjoying the show. I think they built- up to it plenty in the first two seasons; we’ve had this discussion several times, each show has it’s own pace for such things, I strongly believe Colonel was the tipping point for Chuck. That was the point where a significant number of fans required a satisfying resolution to the romance or their enjoyment would drop off rapidly. Which of course, is exactly what happened.

        Anyway, after a 13 episode delay, we’re now where we ought to be (and there was much rejoicing). I think more very happy episodes like Honeymooners are needed. I hope we have several to look forward to ahead; okay, who am I kidding, I’d be happy if 12 of the next 16 were more like Honeymooners. I would agree with Jason as far as saying the start of S4 isn’t quite what I had in mind. While I’ve enjoyed the season a lot, they have added silly little issues in almost every episode. Happy together means just that; they need to quit using the relationship as a source of drama on occasion. And I mean any drama, no drama, zero drama, zilch, absolute zero; just let them be on occasion (like I said above, 75% is nice number; leave them alone 75% of the time). chuck and Sarah are spies, it shouldn’t be that hard to find other things that might provide some drama in their lives.

      • Anon says:

        “anon 4.1 thru 4.4 were alot like 3.15 thru 3.17, each ep they fought over something, had some obstacle in their way, chuck lied or got stupid or decided to ogle another chick, or sarah went on mission for 90 days or 31 days,… ”

        For me, Sarah getting jealous,Sarah panicking and beating up casey,was pretty funny. And i had no problems with that 🙂

    • Faith says:

      Let me ask you something Jason…if and when they’re married (*squee*) where would you take the conflict from? I’m not saying I’m partial to relationship conflict…well I am but I dislike PLI angst as much as the next shipper…but I do wonder.

      There is no story without conflict, and no growth without challenges. So give me some insight to where you see this going. I’m not being coy, I’m actually quite open minded and interested in the answer 🙂

      • jason says:

        I have claimed there are near infinite stories faith. Here are just a few: I think there were 5 or 6 thin man’s, that is more or less 10-12 hours of ideas someone had once that many of us still find quite entertaining, add in undercover blues for another 2 hours – (heck brandon routh would make a great ‘mortimer’ wouldn’t he?), half a season, although you’d probably spread them out a bit.

        Just open your mind up a bit, how much would the well received 4.7 episode really have to change if CS were married, and having a fight that caused chuck to ask everyone but sarah? Just sayin.

        How about 3.7 – yea the mask – up to the point chuck left sarah with shaw in the poison gas room, nothing changes – a little rewrite here and there after that – a pretty decent ep – maybe shaw ends up with 6 black eyes, 2 from sarah, 2 from chuck, and yep 2 from casey.

        3.8 change around the shaw hotel room a bit, the end, and let shaw try the desert line, you getting the idea?

        3.10 would only need small changes.

        3.11 thru 3.13 alot more, but I could rewrite 3.11 to include them married, and still have the red test in play without changing the essence of it.

        so what I am saying, whatever arc they are on still works married – but throw in a few honeymooner / thin man type ‘charles’ episodes that gives the show back its joy and energy.

        Angst is a heavy burden on all shows, but in the case of our show, with how much comedy and absurd logic gets applied in crafting the stories, it seems to be magnified – the cure is chuck and sarah – it always has been, since the pilot.

        By the way, did you just watch smallville? Did you notice the parallel between clark trying to keep his girl out of harms way and sarah trying to keep chuck out of harms way? The second last scene could almost have been out of the show chuck. Interesting eh?

      • thinkling says:

        Great specs Jason. Agree on the whole married thing.

        Faith, all couples have challenges, some are internal like First Fight. Fear of Death is an example of an example of an external challenge that also provokes some internal conflict. It was a great episode for that aspect. It wasn’t angsty in the sense that they quit believing in each other (and no, I don’t see Sarah’s reaction as a lack of faith in Chuck) or jealousy or OLI’s. It’s an external challenge that they are facing together, but they don’t agree on how best to do that. This is very realistic IMO. And b/c of the life they lead, their challenges are atypical, to say the least. This challenge touched very personal issues, which made it interesting as well, especially since they are fighting so hard for each other and their love for each other is palpable throughout. Not all external challenges provoke internal conflict. Some challenges Chuck & Sarah face together and grow stronger as a couple without any internal conflict. The end of s3 is an example (only without the whole lying angle). There you had a 4 episode arc filled with conflict, but Chuck & Sarah were facing it together without internal conflict.

        I would say do the least of the purely internal conflict. We only have a brief amount of time for Chuck & Sarah’s story, and I don’t want to just watch a couple — any couple, but especially this couple — bicker and fight all the time. That leaves us with external challenges that only occasionally generate internal conflict, conflict that should be resolved together in the context of a deeply committed love-relationship, even if there is an initial disagreement as to how to resolve it.

        Would that satisfy your need for conflict in the story? Or are you looking for something more than that?

      • atcdave says:

        I’m entirely with Jason and Thinkling on this. In a show that is nominally spy/action themed it really shouldn’t be hard to focus mainly on external challenges. Those externals would occasionally impact the the relationship directly, but usually we would see a team facing challenges together. Really, this how the show mostly plays. Chuck and Sarah are not one of those bickering feuding sort of couples (normally). But sometimes I get the feeling that the writers can’t quite leave well enough alone. Some issues like unpacking and Sarah’s baby panic seem silly and pointless; don’t get wrong, I laughed and had a good time. But I wonder if the writers have any clue how to write them happy and stable.
        We should make watching the whole Thin Man series (and Undercover Blues) mandatory viewing for Chuck writers.

      • thinkling says:

        Good one, Dave. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the Thin Man movies. I think I see C/S falling somewhere between the two.

      • thinkling says:

        Undercover Blues is a family favorite. None of us can see Stanley Tucci (Muerte) in a movie without elbowing each other and giggling.

      • jason says:

        wouldn’t shaw be funny as a muerte-like charachter while CS are the charles and on a real mission, with muerte just randomly showing up 2-3 times – chuck and sarah just annoyed by him – sort of marginalizing him to all the fans?

      • atcdave says:

        I always wonder if Stanley Tucci is now embarrassed by his association with that flick, now that he’s a big time ” serious” actor. But Muerte was so funny, he almost stole the show (except that everyone else so funny too!)

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, I’ve wondered, too. But his Mr. Julia Child role almost erased Muerte … almost.

      • atcdave says:

        Hah! That’s exactly the role I was thinking of. Hard to imagine two more different characters; he really is an amazing talent.

      • Faith says:

        I think I understand your POV better now Jason, and I can’t outright say I disagree.

        It seems to me that you don’t object to the conflict so much as the threat of said conflict to Chuck and Sarah’s relationship or bond as it were and marriage would be the thing to solidify that.

        But I argue, and I have done so for awhile that it’s because of these present conflict that they’re not yet ready for marriage. Obviously I’m making a distinction between present conflict and the cluster-doo that was S3. 🙂

        And yes, you know I watched Smallville last night lol. I do find it funny how parallel story lines tend to occur but in a way we need a Lois on Chuck. Is that blasphemy to say? Lois gets it, she’s in a lot of ways more apt to be real, and upfront about what needs to be done and goes after it. She wants to be treated as an equal so she demands it.

        Thinkling I’m not looking for any specific conflict. My query was really more I wanted to get feedback on where people could see conflict coming from. I know and have agreed with Dave mostly lol…that after the WT/WT kind of conflict is the thing of gold, I’m not backing down from that. I guess to me there’s not much a distinction between them being committed and married at this point. They’re in this together, through thick and thin and I don’t think even my “they need a break” could get in between that. So in a lot of ways my perception of the current angst-burger is clouded by the reasoning that no matter what they’re going to work it out…things that need to be worked out IMO I should add.

        Dave I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this then 🙂 I think I’ve already mentioned my POV re: what type of show this is. Which is not to take away from the aforementioned “Chuck and Sarah vs. the world” conflict versus “internal conflict.” I think those are definitely valid but equally powerful plot directions.

      • jason says:

        faith not exactly – what I tried to say is the story (or the mythology) they want to tell does not need to change in order to have CS happy, joyful, etc. Even as miserable as the stroy was in season 3’s first arc – it COULD have been written with CS a couple, the mission on the jet, manoosh, the mask, rafe, etc, all the beginnings and endings that needed to get accomplished could have been done so to move the arc forward with CS together.

        But, why not throw in a few honeymooner / thin man eps in s3 / s4 just to remind everyone how much fun it is to be in love, how much fun it is to love these two characters?

        and secondly, I think that CS angst – even the angst lite we have seen in season 4, causes major greatness to get sucked from the show.

        Proof in point, right now, s4, TPTB are telling their best spy story yet – a great one, they have the two (3 counting richy chamberlain) best dramatic guest stars they are going to ever get, yet, the CS story is more or less still dominating. If I were one of those many fans that take the spy story serious – I would be furious, at shippers for staying so focused on CS and at the writers, near as mad as shippers were last season at fans who said calm down over shaw.

        So no, I do not think CS conflict is in this show’s best interest, I think CS together vs the conflict is the best this show can be – the serious spy fans like it and the shipper fans like it.

        Make any sense at all faith?

      • atcdave says:

        I see things the same way Jason. S3 would have played better from the start if Sarah had been helping Chuck deal issues instead of sorting stuff out his own. It would have served both Chuck and Sarah better if they could talk about the issues of a Red Test or the feelings of working and burning an asset. I think that would have been even better for the writers to have Sarah TALK to Chuck about her feelings when she was first his handler or what her fears were about what the spy life would to him. Instead they took a fairly boring route that garunteed no discussion, and left US guessing who was thinking what.

        If you remember, one of my major arguments for an early engagement this season was it would remove that distraction from the spy story. Perhaps they simply have no confidence in their ability to tell a spy story. But I think something like the Orion arc (as the Volkoff/Frost arc is proving to be) proves they can do it. I hope this will help them to be confident in the future and may yet open the door to a stronger central relationship facing more interesting external challenges.

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  11. thinkling says:

    Higher critics might chide my simple contentment with this season, but it is my favorite, well … because it is. I still love 1&2, but 4 is my favorite. Chuck & Sarah together and all grown-up, a more human Casey, Morgan as part of the spy-team. The story is great. The drama is realistic and natural. I love MamaB. The bad guys are fantastic. Who wants Fulcrum and The Ring, when you can have Richard Chamberlain’s Belgian and Timothy Dalton’s Volkoff? And did I mention Chuck & Sarah together. That’s at the heart of my love of s4.

    I don’t want continual conflict, but what we’ve seen so far seems reasonable. Ernie, I love how you expressed it.

    It probably always will get complicated from time to time, but they talk, and they fight, and they tell each other how they feel. There is no cover relationship or manufactured angst to hide behind, and lo and behold, Chuck is Chuck and Sarah is Sarah, yet at their very core of who they are there is still the potential for two very different people to both love each other and for conflict to arise between them. They are real and three dimensional people to me like never before.

  12. First Timer says:

    If you’ll forgive me, I think a failing of the last two seasons (I mean ALL of 3 and so far in 4) is that this show used to about something greater than itself.

    I first found this blog because of this post: http://bit.ly/aZJGZK It spoke to what I thought was good about the show. Chuck and Sarah, yes, but it was Chuck and Sarah DOING something beyond themselves. Ever since the last few minutes of Ring, the show seems obsessed with its own mythology, its own “family” and, of course, every nuance of Chuck and Sarah being together, not being together, and whether and how well they communicate.

    Think about it. Compared to Season 1/2, how many episodes in Seasons 3/4 are about something that isn’t Chuck/Sarah/Family related?

    Maybe you can say S3, E3-6 are largely about a mission. Beard is about something, sorta. And Subway. Just six (being generous) of 19 are not totally submerged in family and The Relationship.

    This year, it’s about Mama B and some new nuance of the family mythology and, of course, more Chuck and Sarah granular-level “relationship” stuff.

    I’d like to think most of us fell in love with Chuck and Sarah not just because they had chemistry and we thought they’d be great together, but because they’d DO something together. As that post said, Chuck and Sarah mattered.

    I’m not sure that they matter anymore. They might, but we never see them DO anything except fuss about themselves and their family, both real and extended.

    That, I think, is why the show no longer feels great, even when episodes are well done. Chuck and Sarah used to stand for something. They now just seem interested in themselves.

    • jason says:

      holy cow, that is what I have been trying to say.

      drama generated by CS on an adventure – TO DO SOMETHING NOBLE, vs drama generated by CS apart while some adventure is going on

      to quote both sarah and later casey – ‘thank yuoeh’

    • Anon says:

      Sorry but that kind of admiration is too much fanon-inspired. And that’s not even untold story material. We had definitive info on the world Chuck tptb created in season 1 and 2. Chuck was “in” whether he wanted or not. Sarah had no choice either.

      They were accidental heroes,not the ideal ones.You need to look to Captain America for that 🙂

      • First Timer says:

        @anon:
        I think your reading of Seasons 1 and 2 is simply incorrect. Yes, they were “accidential,” but they chose to be the heroes. Sarah asked Chuck to step up in Helicopter and he did. Chuck CHOSE to help when asked. And Sarah, besides being in love with him, worked to keep him safe and protect him so he could be of help. (Listen to the dialogue Sarah is given at the beginning of Marlin, when she scolds Casey for not giving Chuck information in a manner he could “process.”)

        As I think Ernie Davis pointed out early in this blog’s life, Sarah made a CHOICE at the ballerina moment when she decided not to throw Chuck into a padded cell. And Chuck chose to follow Sarah’s call of duty in Helicopter.

        So, accidental? Yes. But accidentally heroic? Absolutely not.

      • Anon says:

        They are accidental heroes.They were put in a bad situation with 2 choices. Help or not help.

        They chose to help. That’s what makes them heroes.

        Ideally,heroes look to do those things. IMO,Devon is a hero in that regard.

        Casey is/was a burn-out but he still wanted to stop bombs. He can be counted as a hero who chose the job.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’ll agree with one part of each argument. In seasons one and two Chuck and Sarah were largely presented as posessing a nobility in their willingness to sacrafice for the greater good, and for each other. I don’t think that has really changed, but most of the sacrafice was that they couldn’t be together. That at least seems less applicable now and they have to explore the costs of heroism within the confines of a relationship.

      But the missions have almost always been MacGuffin’s to play out some aspect of trust or the cost of heroism to Chuck or Sarah or occasionally Casey. Family and interpersonal relationships and how the spy life affected them has been front and center from the start.

      • First Timer says:

        @erniedavis:
        With all due respect, you miss my point about the show. It’s one thing to be accidental heroes and another thing to sacrifice being together to be heroic. I get that. But in most of Seasons 1 and 2, the threat was external, even when it WAS a McGuffin. The show was about MORE than just Chuck and Sarah’s respective and collective journeys.

        Now, the showrunners don’t even make that effort. Everything is about the family or the relationship or the mythology. In fact, Chuck this year has made no bones about what his interest is: to find his mother. He only rejoined the agency as a way to do that (see end of Anniversary).

        Chuck allegedly downloaded 2.0 and became a spy because he wanted to help people (per his speech in Three Words and Orion’s claim in Living Dead). Now why does he want the Intersect back, as per Fear of Death: So he can keep spying with Sarah.

        As each season has moved on, the show has moved further and further away from the clarion call of Helicopter: to protect and serve (if you will allow me that flourish).

        To really make them matter to us, Chuck and Sarah need to have a purpose beyond just being together happily ever after. Otherwise, as jason says, the show is a soap opera about two pretty people.

        Being together is not inherently noble. The nobility of being together comes from doing great things as a couple.

        Chuck and Sarah, accidental as they may have been, used to do great things together. They don’t anymore and the show is less effective for it.

      • Anon says:

        Chuck’s reason was “To do great things and to do them with you.”

      • Anonymous says:

        I keep saying the relationship “used to” be epic. But isn’t anymore, not to the same degree, and perhaps FTN has stumpled onto WHY.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s like I’ve been saying – yes ad nauseum – the Chuck and Sarah relationship USED TO be “epic”, and whatever made it “epic” has not return since it left with the train in Prague. Perhaps FTN has stumbled onto WHY.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Those last 2 were me. I apparently have a posting disorder. Apologies.

      • atcdave says:

        Would that be post traumatic posting syndrome?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        FT, I guess I don’t understand what it is you are referring to. They often talked about heroism and how Chuck was doing great things, but in seasons one and two nearly all the missions were about the mythology, the relationship, or how being the intersect affected Chuck’s relationship with his friends and family.

        I think you might make the case that Chuck Versus The Tango, Chuck Versus The Third Dimension and Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer weren’t, but just about every other episode from Chuck Versus The Tango on is about family, mythology or Chuck and/or Sarah with the occasional Casey or how things affect Ellie or Morgan episode thrown in. The whole Predator arc was Chuck finding both his father and a way to remove the intersect. I’m sorry if I’m dense, but I just am not sure exactly what it is that you think was there before where they were regularly not using the spy mission to highlight some aspect of Chuck’s or Sarah’s personal life being affected and how it changes him or her.

      • thinkling says:

        @Ernie: I see it pretty much the way you do. Since this conversation started I began to think back over the seasons (excluding the season of our discontent), and came to pretty much the same conclusion … the villains in s1 and s2 were paper lions. The real story is Chuck becoming a hero and Sarah becoming more of a real person. The episodes you named are the main ones that focused exclusively on the mission and the stakes of the mission and not on mythology, the relationship, or how being the intersect affected Chuck’s relationship with his friends and family.

        Then there was FULCRUM =:O. Who they were and why they were so bad was never clear, except they were after the Intersect … and therefore, Chuck. I was willing to believe, in spite of the dearth of evidence, that they were truly awful and that if they weren’t stopped, the country would surely perish. Why? For the sake of the Chuck & Sarah’s story, their hero’s journey.

        Then came the RING, and boy were they scary … *shiver.* OK, not really, but it’s Chuck & Sarah’s story, come on. Skipping most of the Ring, for obvious reasons, we come to season 4.

        They have a mythology story to tell, one that has been begging to be told since Sizzling Shrimp. I think they have come up with a great way to do it. They have welded it to the first compelling bad guy of the series … cue heavy bass Russian music … Volkoff. Even though Yvonne laughed at him, he is a great bad guy, and he’s Timothy Dalton … double the fun. On top of that they didn’t make MEB a captive locked in some evil tower all these years. They made her a real player … and how! And thus far, no matter what we suspect, we’re not sure whose team she’s playing on.

        I think stories are more compelling if the evil organization is personified. Volkoff industries has a face … a sinister, chilling, albeit handsome, face. He is evil. He says, “It was a pleasure getting to know you,” and then blows you up as though it’s a thank you gift. Funny most congenial people bring flowers or a bottle of wine to the party.

        Volkoff would be enough, but we also have the Belgian … another handsome (for 76) evil doer. We don’t know if he’s connected to Volkoff, but he is a worthy baddie, and will anchor what looks to be an epic installment in the C/S/Intersect story.

        The episodes, although linked to the mythology also tie in with the main bad guy of the season. Volkoff is a worthy adversary and a compelling story. I didn’t know why Fulcrum and the Ring were dangerous, but I do know why an arms dealer needs to be stopped. You could tell the Volkoff story without Chuck’s mom. It would be told differently, but it could still be told. Thus far, TeamB has caused his operation a lot of damage, from the capture of the EMP in Hong Kong to the master spies who expertly use of public transportation. They captured one of his key sellers in Milan and confiscated nuclear weapons in Costa Gravas. They’ve also arrested a few other Volkoff employees and stopped the sale of classified CIA information. I don’t know what you think spies do exactly, but I consider that a pretty good couple of months. 😉

        Granted the stories are tied to the mythology, but to me they are as good as the ones of s1 and s2. The arch rival is more compelling; the mythology itself is more complex; and Chuck & Sarah are still on their hero journey; it’s just a new leg of the journey. It’s not perfect, but I’m loving the ride.

        Season 4 is GENIUS.

      • atcdave says:

        I think they did a good job making Fulcrum scary, but Volkoff is the best baddie yet.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think Fulcrum and The Ring were scary when they were personified. Fulcrum was better. They had Tommy and Vincent and Roark. The Ring had the director, Shaw and what looked like some people who were taking the WB tour and got to be extras. But Volkoff tops them all. Although I don’t want to minimize Richard Chamberlin’s ability to radiate sinister.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, the Fulcrum bad guys were scary, but I still didn’t understand the organization … why it was scary. Maybe I missed something.

      • First Timer says:

        @erniedavis:
        Okay, let me try it this way:

        The Belgian is a bad guy. He wants the Intersect and all the secrets in it. Are we wondering whether he’s a free agent or if he works for Volkoff or if he wants to control the world or just sell the Intersect for a profit? No, we’re all only wondering how Sarah finds/saves Chuck.

        This year’s big bad is supposedly Volkoff. But does anyone care about Volkoff except how Mama B fits into it? Nope.

        In the back six, did we really care about the Ring? No, because all we cared about was the fact that Shaw, who kept Chuck and Sarah apart, was going to come back for round II of revenge against them.

        In the original Season 3, did we care about The Ring? No, because the story was all about Shaw keeping Chuck and Sarah apart.

        So you have to go all the way back to Season 2 to find an independent external force (Fulcrum) that mattered, that Chuck and Sarah could fight against. And even though Fulcrum was connected via Orion, we didn’t even know Orion was Papa B until near the end of that arc.

        Bottom line, ever since the end of Ring, all that has mattered is the internal workings of the Family Bartowski and The Relationship.

        The show is worse for that. The inner workings of The Relationship and the Family Bartowski only matter if they are fighting some external threat that reminds us why these are people worth rooting for.

        Otherwise, it might as well be Chuck and Sarah against the evil forces who are plotting to steal the last crescent roll at Thanksgiving dinner.

        The show has collapsed the story in on itself so completely that it’s all just one big soap opera. That’s just not good for the show and, by the way, makes it impossible for new viewers to get connected.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        FT, OK, I see what you are saying, but Fulcrum was a threat because they wanted the intersect or were building their own intersect and that directly endangered Chuck, the team and Papa B. Other than that we got a vague impression that they were a group of rogue spies who thought the government too soft. I still don’t see a lot of difference. Some people are speculating on the Belgian and his motives or connection to Volkoff. Same for Volkoff and his endgame, but when it comes down to it we’re watching a show called Chuck, not de Smit, or Volkoff any more than we were watching to see what Vincent or Jill or Roark would do, outside the mission or danger it creates for Chuck and the team.

      • thinkling says:

        we got a vague impression that they were a group of rogue spies who thought the government too soft.

        I think you hit it, Ernie … why I think Volkoff is a better bad guy. Outside of the threat to Chuck, they had no story with Fulcrum. Fulcrum wasn’t as bad as Chaos, but the same idea. The actual villains were really good, and C/S did have some decent missions, but Fulcrum as an organization … meh.

        Volkoff could stand without MamaB. A Russian arms dealer selling weapons to our enemies, including nukes, is an enemy worthy of Bond. (In fact …) In this case it ties in with the Bartowski mythology, which is, at its heart, what “Chuck” is all about. Winning combo.

      • kg says:

        Sorry Thinking. The international organization of evil you refer from Get Smart, was actually spelled K A O S. LOL.

      • thinkling says:

        Drat! And just after I finally learned to spell “chaos”

        Thanks KG. I wondered as I typed it, but my spell checker only does so much.

        I’ve been the butt of many a spelling joke through the years LOL.

      • atcdave says:

        And wasn’t the KAOS the very definition of evil; as in evil and fighting niceness. They even had better benefits than Control, and better tasting suicide pills. It just doesn’t get much worse than that. Makes Fulcrum look like a troop of Girl Scouts!

      • kg says:

        Dave, if you recall, it was Bernie Kopell (later as Doc on the Love Boat) as Ziegfried who made KAOS special, or especially hilarious if you will.

        One of his big lines, long before Tom Hanks in League of Their Own, was “There’s no crying at KAOS.”

      • atcdave says:

        Oh yeah, Ziegfried was awesome. My wife and I have been rewatching for the last few months; Max and 99 got married last night. One of the most fun stupid shows ever. Get Smart and Sledge Hammer, two of a kind.

      • thinkling says:

        What did you guys think of the remake?

      • atcdave says:

        Funny, but not as good as the series. I think I liked it better than my wife did.

      • thinkling says:

        We liked it … laughed a lot. I thought the casting was really good. Over all I was pleasantly surprised.

        Your right it was a fun stupid-show

      • First Timer says:

        @erniedavis:
        So then you’re saying that IT IS okay if Volkoff arrives at the day-after-Thanksgiving dinner in Leftovers with the goal of dominating the world supply of crescent rolls? That’s fine for you so long as it moves the Chuck&Sarah/Family story along? 🙂

        Because if the quality of the McGuffin or the scope of their threat doesn’t matter so long as The Relationship/Family story moves, you are wanting a soap opera. Which, of course, is okay. To each their own.

        It’s just not what I wanted. To me, Chuck and Sarah’s personal story and the saga of the Family Bartowski played better when TPTB posited that it mattered to the safety of the world, too…

      • kg says:

        Yeah Thinkling, I agree with Dave. The movie was OK. Buck Henry’s TV series was much better.

        If I recall, Max and 99 getting hitched pretty much wrecked the show. She gave birth to twins, got all happy and domestic and did less and less on the missions. Often, not on them at all.

        I vaguely remember one or two involving Barbara Feldon at their apartment because KAOS knew she was there alone and that Max was out doing other stuff.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        So then you’re saying that IT IS okay if Volkoff arrives at the day-after-Thanksgiving dinner in Leftovers with the goal of dominating the world supply of crescent rolls? That’s fine for you so long as it moves the Chuck&Sarah/Family story along?

        Because if the quality of the McGuffin or the scope of their threat doesn’t matter so long as The Relationship/Family story moves, you are wanting a soap opera. Which, of course, is okay. To each their own.

        FT, Please, I said nothing of the sort and nothing to indicate those were my feelings, and you should know it. We’re at the Fat Lady stage of the season. We’ve had a portable EMP and a deadly neurotoxin for MacGuffins. At this point in season 2 we’d had three episodes about the intersect and how Chuck and Sarah wanted to date but couldn’t, one where Sarah had to go to her class re-union to stop the sale of a super-bomber, and three where Chuck had to re-connect with his old girlfriend to track down a bio-weapon and a list of Fulcrum agents.

        I am merely saying you seem to have the idea that somewhere in this mythical Chuck past there was an epic period where stories were world shaking events. I’m saying it has always been spy-lite.

      • First Timer says:

        @erniedavis:
        No, what I’m saying is that all of the “spy lite” things you mention in Season 2 were EXTERNAL threats. Everything “spy lite” this year is tied to Volkoff, who is only interesting because it’s about the search for/relationship to still another Bartowski.

        Season 2 looks OUTWARD toward the threat of Fulcrum. Season 4 looks INWARD toward Mama B. So when the spy story looks inward toward the family atop The Relationship and the Family Saga, it’s incestuous. It’s soap opera.

      • thinkling says:

        @FT: I see exactly what you’re saying. However, I just can’t agree. In fact, I see the Fulcrum v. Volkoff comparison exactly the opposite.

        In s1 and s2 the only episodes involving true external threats were the ones that did not involve Fulcrum. As Ernie pointed out, Fulcrum was a band of rogue spies. The Fulcrum threat was completely internal to the Intelligence Community. Their threat the IC was one and the same with their purpose … to steel the Intersect and/or create their own. Fulcrum was 100% tied to Chuck mythology. In fact, Fulcrum was the very organization that launched the “Chuck” story. They wanted to steel the Intersect and use the Intel for their own purposes. It was to thwart the “internal strike” that Bryce stole the Intersect and sent it to Chuck. The one thing that drives Fulcrum is the same one thing that drives “Chuck.” Fulcrum is the very definition of an internal threat, internal to the CIA and 100% tied to “Chuck” mythology.

        Volkoff, despite your assertions to the contrary, is an external threat. He is a Russian, international arms dealer … the kind of enemy that Bond and the mythological house of spies have been battling for years. CIA had been after him for months before they knew he was connected to MEB. So, s4 picked up six/nine months into the story line, when the mythology tied into the external threat. Now, TeamB is no longer involved in an intramural battle. They’ve gone international … the CIA’s customary playground.

        Volkoff’s link to mythology is a happy one, and of course the real reason he matters in a story about Chuck. However, Volkoff is a great bad guy in his own right, fit for any spy novel. Fulcrum was always defined by its quest for the Intersect and the subsequent danger to Chuck. The question that answers the issue is this. What happens if you take away Chuck and the Intersect plot? Fulcrum falls, but Volkoff stands on his own.

      • jason says:

        @think – I have written elsewhere that chuck vs the ‘big bad’ has increasingly seemed like a ‘selfish’ journey to get the girl, then get his mom, sarah vs sarah the B plot if you will, has all been all about getting herself in S3, now about getting the guy, who she has, yet doesn’t in a slight of the hand sort of way that this creative team specializes in

        Yet is season 3, chuck and sarah seemingly saved the world from a ring / shaw takeover, or at least the USA? Didn’t that seem like a small story, for how grand it was.

        My ? for you think is do you feel CS have been selfish or heroic in seasons 3 & 4?

        One of my arguments for marriage and cooling down the CS angst / drama is CS have been overwritten to the point, until they get them in a good spot and play off of them, ALL stories will seem small compared to the shell game fedak is playing with them.

      • jason says:

        by the way, this is a bit of a be careful what you wish for, CS in a good spot is somewhat boring and predictable, but must be replaced by bigger / better spy stories and bigger / better dramatic acting … the spy stuff has sold best in this show when better acting has sold it – dalton / hamilton or obviously a cut above s3’s dramatic big bad, and although not a remarkable actor, chevy chase sold ted roark real well, plus bakula was real tied into the big basd plot of s2, more so than s3.

        Also, TPTB may feel compelled to harm someone in a LI – so morgan may lose alex for a bit, or ellie / awesome or maybe casey / katherine – I think some of the fans on this board would get more upset with morgan losing alex than they ever have over sarah falling in love with shaw

      • joe says:

        Wow! This thread is a bit out of control! Long, that is.

        Okay, my unasked for $0.02…

        I really don’t understand this “internal threat” vs. “external threat” distinction”. Or, at least, I don’t grok it’s relevance. Fulcum was internal to the CIA, sure, but they were “alien” to Chuck, nearly as alien as The Ring. Shaw, however, was interal, about as close to the inside as you can get. But was, eventually, “The Ring” also, ie, external. Bah!

        I’ve been thinking of it in other terms, which really sidetracks this discussion, and I apologize for that. For me the question is always “are they good-guys or bad-guys?” That applies to Bryce, Jill, Orion, Lazlo Manovski (from Sandworm, Mama B… It’s been about Chuck’s ability to distinguish good from bad and right from wrong, and about Sarah’s ability to help him do that.

        And then we get into right and wrong actions, like Sarah shooting Mauser, Chuck shooting Shaw, or not, and I’m sure we’re not done with that when it comes to Volkoff and Mama B.

        So in light of that, the philosophical questions posed remain the same for me from S1 through to S4. Yet because they are so multi-faceted, I don’t find them particularly repetitive.

      • First Timer says:

        @thinkling:
        You are factually incorrect. Fulcrum was NEVER after Chuck or the Bartowskis or posed a threat to The Relationship. All it wanted was the Intersect and Fulcrum was pursuing it long before it went into Chuck. We literally come into the story in the pilot with Bryce having already infiltrated Fulcrum. It completely predates Chuck. In fact, Fulcrum never even learned Chuck WAS the Intersect. Remember when Bryce reappears to confront Roark in Ring, Roark calls him “the living Intersect.”

        Fulcrum was totally external to the Bartowskis and The Relationship. It was a credible third leg of the show’s premise: The Family, The Relationship, The “epic” threat.

        The Ring started as an external threat, but TPTB immediately internalized it when Shaw, the guy brought in to fight the Ring, doubles up and messes with The Relationship. So the entire “original” third season ends up being about The Relationship. And in Season 3.5, the Ring is further internalized by having The Ring chase The Family (Ellie and Papa B) and having Shaw wanting personal revenge on The Relationship.

        So all of season 3 goes without a third leg to the stool. As a McGuffin, the Ring was even less impressive than Fulcrum. At least Fulcrum needed to be blown up (Colonel) and then special oped (Ring). The Ring Elders were caught on a staircase, for heaven’s sake.

        Ditto Season 4. It’s all about The Family. In fact, Volkoff even says in First Fight that he had NO interest in Chuck if Chuck hadn’t gone after Frost.

        And as I mentioned up the thread, does anyone REALLY care about The Belgian? All anyone is talking about is Sarah coming to save Chuck.

        The poor Belgian. He wants the Intersect and all the secrets and, really, no one cares. So long as Sarah saves Chuck… What’s a credible villain to do? 🙂

        That’s what I mean about soap opera. As each season has progressed, the show has been consumed by The Family Saga and The Relationship. The stuff that made the show “epic,” Chuck and Sarah fighting bad guys who wanted to take over (the world, the intelligence community, multiple branches of goverment, whatever), is nearly invisible now.

        And the smaller the canvas, the smaller the characters. Unfortunately.

      • thinkling says:

        @Joe: You’re right. At the heart of it all we have the heroes vs. the bad guys, and sometimes we don’t know who all the bad guys are. But we root for Chuck & Sarah b/c they loyally fight for each other and always try to do the right thing.

        I agree that as the show progresses, new layers and facets and faces give old themes new life. New plot threads begin, or old secrets come to light and open up new possibilities for the story. So I’m still hooked … all in.

        The whole ‘internal vs. external threat’ topic only became relevant when it was used as a criteria to exalt Fulcrum and belittle Volkoff and the seasons they appear in. Other than that it doesn’t matter to me.

      • JC says:

        I understand what First Timer is getting at. Not every villain or major story arc has to tie back into the Bartowski family or the C/S relationship. That’s not to say either shouldn’t be affected by them but they shouldn’t be the villains main target.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with that JC. I think we’ll see some more stand alone bad guys and episodes in the back 11. I’m all on board for those. Some of them have been my favorites.

      • thinkling says:

        @FT:
        I’ve lost track. I don’t know any more if I’m more incorrect b/c I love s4 or b/c I have such an abysmal understanding of ss1&2. Oh well, my incorrectness has its reasons and, if I read the comments correctly, at least some company.

        Fulcrum was NEVER after Chuck. Really? Fulcrum was after the Intersect. Chuck was the Intersect. It follows logically, Fulcrum WAS after Chuck, even if they didn’t know it. See, I thought that was why the CIA and NSA sent their best agents to protect him. Why they feared it was only a matter of time until Fulcrum discovered his identity, Like Lizzy did … and Ned and Mauser. Fortunately Sarah took care of them before they got word out to Fulcrum’s higher-ups.

        Fulcrum predates the pilot of Chuck. You mean b/c it goes back to Bryce infiltrating Fulcrum and stealing the Intersect or b/c the whole CIA/Fulcrum/Intersect war appears to go back to before Chuck graduated from Stanford, or didn’t graduate b/c Bryce got him kicked out to keep him from being involved in CIA/Intersect projects?

        Fulcrum was totally external to the Bartowski family and was never after them. Well, except that Fulcrum was looking for Orion for years, b/c he created the Intersect. Orion was Chuck’s father. Roark and PapaB were rivals from college days. Roark knew that PapaB created the Intersect and that he was Orion. It gets kind of personal when Roark tries to kill all of them at his compound. Then the family is threatened en mass when Roark crashes the wedding. As soon as anyone learned that Chuck was the Intersect or Orion’s son, the family would have been in danger. That’s what I thought generated so much of the story AND the back story.

        To me part of the fun of the whole Fulcrum/Intersect story was the discovery of how intertwined it was with the Bartowski family.

        I hadn’t thought of it until your remarks, but the Belgian is a call back to all things Fulcrum. (He won’t be as big b/c he’s only in 2 episodes.) He poses a similar, but bigger threat to national security, and a similar, more menacing threat to Chuck and TeamB. He is an encapsulated version of the Fulcrum threat, in the person of a credible villain. Therefore, I care about him for the same reasons I cared about Fulcrum. He’s after got our secrets and the Intersect. I won’t care about him for 2 seasons, but I’ll care about him a lot for 2 episodes.

        I explained my reasons for loving s4 and the mythology and Volkoff, so I won’t do it again.

        My purpose is not to compete with your POV, or establish a new correct one. I apologize if it seemed that way. You prefer one season over another, and you have your reasons, as I do mine. You assess the bad guys differently than I. In ss1&2, you perceive Fulcrum in ways I don’t and don’t see connections in ways I do. I would find all that really interesting, even fun, if I weren’t being told how incorrect I am.

        It seems unlikely you’ll concede, and that’s cool. It’s just a matter of differing personal opinions, so it’s fine for us to agree to disagree.

  13. herder says:

    I’m going to take the title of Deja Vu litterally and speculate about other things from previous seasons that we are going to see again this year.

    -Project Omaha, we haven’t had an Omaha reference for a while, were Mama or Papa B involved in this project. I think something about this comes up in the back 11.

    -Chuck’s ability to flash on the combination of locks, this has shown up in Dream Job, the Subway and Suitcase. I don’t see how a computer that draws connections between data can figure out a combination by looking at the lock, but Orion did say that the intersect had a lot of capacities that he didn’t know yet. Maybe once we get past phase 3, some more of those abilities come to the fore. Also do we find out what Orion was afraid that the government would do to the intersect that made him go rogue.

    -Ellie’s neurology skills, those suddenly appeared at the end of last year and I suspect they are about to show up again with the Orion computer.

    -Return of certain bad guys, we’ve had the return of Heather Chandler and Hugo Panzer, with 11 episodes to come beyond what was planned, I bet we get a few more returns, I’d like to see Tommy, Vincent and Sidney, but I’m worried that we get Jill and Shaw.

    -The bracelet, it has to return, either in 3.10 (Thanksgiving) 3.13 (maybe as consolation for no engagement ring) or in the back ll. I think trust will rear it’s ugly head in some form or another but I can’t think how. I’d like to say seduction, but as there is a spoiler about “seduction impossible” so that seems unlikely.

    -With the back 11, does that make a pregnancy scare more or less likely remember they have already brought up the issue of children. Or are they more likely to have an episode involving children, sort of a kindergarden cop type episode.

    -A return to the Suburbs would be fun only this time the issue isn’t how much they both want the life together, but rather how unsuited they both are to the normal life (it’s no longer Sarah Walker alone who will never be normal).

    -Does Rios ever enter into the show again, a program that mines data from everybody and anybody.

    • Anon says:

      I believe Chuck was just using intersect to compute possible combinations

      -Ellie’s neurology skills: It’s a good catch.She may come into play here.

      -I’m not worried about Jill.After all,many people love season 2 so no problem 😛 Sarah and Chuck moved past Jill without hurting each other.Unlike Shaw.

      -Seduction missions would be a new/old way to shake things up.

      There are many places the writers can take us,let’s just hope it’s somewhere unvisited yet .

      • jason says:

        undercovers tried a seduction mission in the first ep with the lady co star doing the deed – boom – a collective gringe a drop off the face of the earth – fans do not enjoy watching the prostitution of their favorite stars – just doesn’t work

      • atcdave says:

        Good point Jason. I’m sure the cheap thrills aspect of it plays well with certain groups; but I don’t think it will ever work in a show where we are expected to care about the characters.

      • Anon says:

        I don’t know about Undercovers,but Chuck and Sarah needling each other would be great 🙂 Or have Chuck trying to stop another girl’s advances on him. Let’s see lioness Sarah 😛

        I still laugh at Lou&Sarah scene in Season 1.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah it could be fun played for laughs, but I hope to never see the seduction angst silliness again.

      • luckygirl says:

        I think it would be funny if the seduction was a Casey mission. Has he ever had one on the show? I don’t recall, but I think it would lead to some comical situations.

      • thinkling says:

        What if it’s Morgan?

      • Faith says:

        I’m always having this day dreams (don’t judge me! haha) of things that happened or were to happen but this time around there’s no question of commitment and love on the part of Chuck and Sarah. I guess that’s why I want Jill back. Ok so I want Jill back to unleash jealous Sarah haha, I love jealous Sarah.

        But a seduction mission in which both parties know where they stand and still feel that burn with having to do the “job” is intriguing to me. Though I’d prefer for Chuck to have to do that this time around…I’m having flashes of Beefcake and I’m already emotionally overwrought about it, and that was back pre-chuckapocalypse!!!

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Beefcake let’s don’t go there. Of course if you erase the last scene few minutes of Suburbs and don’t do the break-up, Beefcake could have turned out much better. Chuck could have claimed Sarah as his girlfriend and/or Sarah could have rebuffed the kiss, the way she rejected the offer in Lethal Weapon. With them solidly together it could be done OK … as long as the jealousy was momentary and baseless.

    • JC says:

      I want my Carina episode and all the awkwardness that would bring between Morgan, Casey and Alex.

      Cole, Jill and Jack Burton are musts for me. Those three characters would be able to vocalize the changes Chuck and Sarah have gone through better than anyone else.

      I’ve been holding my breath on the Omaha Project for three and half seasons. If it’s not brought up in the back eleven I’m done.

      But what I want to see more than anything is Team B on the run, expand what happened in the back six of S3 minus Agent Buzzkill.

      Oh and an Intersected Ellie for an episode or two wouldn’t be too bad.

      • Anon says:

        Carina episode would be fun for Chuck and Sarah 😛

        I wouldn’t mind seeing either Cole,Jill or Jack Burton.So many possibilities! I like trainwrecks with fun not gloom 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        Fun spec, JC. Intersected Ellie doesn’t excite me, but the rest of it would be great fun. If I had to pick only one of those, I’d pick the Jill, Cole, Jack Burton returns … for exactly the reason you name. Carina would be another great POV on C/S.

        We’re almost getting TeamB on the run next week, but I agree … TeamB against the world, no safety net except each other … epic.

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

    herder – I’d trade all of yours for an “I know” moment.

    (You know like when Ellie got engaged and Chuck gave Sarah the bracelet)

    On the seduction topic. I vote for Morgan’s first seduction mission.

  15. Tamara Burks says:

    Brandon Routh is definitely no Linda Hamilton. For one thing he hasn’t got her range. His looks are actually detrimental to his career because he’ll keep getting cast in drama , I think. He’s good at comedy but a complete stiff at drama. His best shot at a long term acting career is to go the Leslie Neilson route.

  16. Faith says:

    I’m gonna start by reacting to Ernie’s write up and then jump into the reactions afterwards. I’m telling you this because I assume there’ll be like 8 straight comments from me lol.

    Not really sure where to start so I’ll jump right in….

    In psychology there’s such a thing called priming. By definition it is a term in which by being presented with something, you automatically think of something else. I argue that we were “primed” to dislike Brandon Routh and his role and it just so happen our greatest fears came into fruition. But it’s not all dark and gloom, this time around we’re primed for great things…casting Linda Hamilton is just one aspect of the excitement, but the concept, the mythology, the possibilities. The thing is we’re all so sensitized to any and all hindrances to our power couple and we instinctively react as such. With MamaB it’s different.

    Of course that doesn’t take away from the quality of writing. I’ve argued before that what went wrong with S3 isn’t the what, but the how: exposition, commitment,risk, etc all problematic. I’m not going to get into that again, I dislike beating my head against a wall. But I will say that in my opinion (and I can only speak for myself)…the “revisiting” that’s being done isn’t a revisiting, but an exploration. I have argued, most recently in my Skinny Love piece that things have been moving on a progressive pace when it comes to Chuck and Sarah but what’s really underneath the surface have thus far been largely band-aided. That is no longer the case.

    The fact of the matter is, it’s one thing to be in love with someone, to come to that realization, and then to arrive at that mentality where you can’t live without them…but it’s another thing to live through that. What TPTB are doing now is the “live through that.” Yes Chuck and Sarah are in love, but what of it? Sarah said once that she had baggage, remember that? Well at first, she had to be convinced that Chuck is strong enough to handle that–enter the vast majority of what has already taken place–but now it’s a matter of Chuck and Sarah having to work through said baggage. They did a lot of work with Suitcase (said title is symbolic); that is among the reasons why I love that episode so much…it’s a fantastic storytelling of what happens after happily ever after in a sense.

    Sarah isn’t alone in this whole learning to be a couple though, Chuck is just as lost as she is. The difference being the story is told in his POV so we’re more often than not seeing his side of the story, and working through his issues. So is it a rehashing so much as a rebuilding? Well you know where I stand 🙂

    Ernie made a joke about Morgasey…LMAO. I have an openly gay brother, and I think I’ve mentioned that once before. I’m very open to that and accepting, and it’s funny because among the things that I think is missing with Chuck is the tongue in cheek aspect of homosexuality. I’m not saying Lester has to come out of the closet, but I think it would be funny to have an enemy agent come in and try to seduce Chuck or something. Then again someone, somewhere will find that offensive lol. One man’s humor, is another man’s PC faux pas.

    Which brings me full circle. In any creative work there are just times when you can’t make anyone happy. It’s just impossible. I am enjoying this season immensely, I have my issues here and there but I, like Ernie feel like this season might just beat out my infatuation with S2. It’s that good. But I understand people can and do feel differently. That’s what makes us all different, human.

    I will say though that it’s a testament to Chuck and its writers that more often than not, we all enjoy episodes on some level. Even ones that aren’t our palate.

    Last point, I think it was Big Kev that brought into question “what do you see Chuck as”—now this subject matter requires its own write up (kinda like Thinkling’s inspired “what is angst” post) but to keep it short: the fact that we can see and identify so many different aspects in Chuck speaks of just how good it is. I personally see it as a show about relationships that just occasionally have spy-ish stuff in it, with a sprinkling of pop references but that’s just me.

  17. Robert H says:

    Haven’t had the chance to comment lately since I’ve been really busy so I’ll comment on this article and
    the last 2 episodes 4.7 and 4.8 just to catch up but
    your article touches on pretty much what I was going to say anyway.

    First I’m tired of talking about the angst and Season 3 over and over again. For those people who
    are still crying about it I only have this to say,
    “Get over it and move on”. Season 3 is over, it’s
    history, it can’t be changed, so move on.

    There are going to be some people out there who are never going to be satisfied on both sides of the issue no matter what is done or not done. I’m sick
    of the whining. People are entitled to their opinions of course and I’m not disputing that but one gets tired of hearing the same complaints over
    and over again. They sound like a broken record. It’s a TV show for heaven’s sake not real life, not
    life and death. It’s not meant, nor should it be taken that seriously. The characters are not real within themselves but merely what the producers and
    writers make them to be. Having said this I have a few comments about the last two episodes and Season
    4 so far.

    Season 4, in principle, so far has been much, much better than Season 3. Chuck/Sarah at least in theory
    are together, (whatever the angst issues), and much
    of the original charm of the show has been restored.
    At least the episodes, on the whole, are entertaining to watch, in spite of whatever issues
    people are having with the characters ( I am no exception to this either.) This was not the case last year ( I have no more to say on Season 3 ).

    As for the last 2 episodes 4.7-4.8, what is there to
    say really? The episodes were entertaining. There
    were some things I didn’t like.

    Episode 4.7 was supposed to be about the big “fight”
    between Chuck/Sarah, the first serious lovers’ quarrel. Huh? What big fight? I’ve seen the episode
    twice and I sure as hell didn’t see any “fight”. If
    there was one will someone please clue me in? All I
    saw in the opening scene was Chuck furious at his
    mother being snatched by Sarah/Casey. Who was Chuck
    yelling at, Sarah? No, he was screaming to Morgan
    about it. He didn’t have the guts to confront Sarah
    about it so Morgan confronted Sarah for him. Huh?
    They finally have the “fight” in a bank within a hail of gunfire and hand to hand combat with the bad
    guys. The whole scene was just stupid, with no real
    credibility behind it and was an insult to one’s
    intelligence. People in real relationships don’t have “fights” like this. They confront one another in private and settle it one way or another. For what I saw in that scene they might as well had their “fight” in the middle of the Normandy landings
    in France on Omaha Beach with the German 352nd Division firing everything at them from the high
    ground overlooking the beach. That’s just how idiotic that scene was and I don’t think they were
    playing it for comedy. If they were then it was even
    more idiotic when you think about it. This was supposed to be a pivotal point in their relationship,
    and it was done very badly. You say they are crap
    communicators? That’s about the best that can be said about their communicating skills, not the worst. But then it gets back to the producers/writers, correct? They can’t have it both ways. Pivotal points in relationships usually relate
    to drama, not comedy. They tried to do both and failed miserably.

    Episode 4.8 and what do we see? The beat goes on…
    Sarah really demonstrates what a lousy communicator
    she is by making Chuck look bad in front of Casey,
    Beckman, and the CIA therapist by brutally informing
    him that in her opinion he is not a “real” spy in the middle of a video conference involving all of them. She of course has the “best” of intentions. She wants to “protect” him. Huh? The woman castrates
    his ego in front of 3 other people. The silence that
    follows is simply appalling. Of course this is what Sarah has always thought. In a moment of emotional
    stress she blurted it out. It was raw, it was brutal, but maybe it was the truth. It certainly
    revealed her true feelings about Chuck the “spy”, he
    simply isn’t one, not really. The intersect gives him the tools to play at being a spy. Without it he
    is no “spy”, period. Brutal but true.

    And how does our hero Chuck, the “spy” react to his
    “girfriend” verbally castrating him in front of 3
    professional colleagues, one of whom is his boss?
    His face contorts like he bit into a lemon and he
    breaks the video connection. Boy he really showed her didn’t he? He then proceeds to demonstate his
    “girlfriend” is right by failing miserably as a “spy” for the rest of the episode to the point of
    getting his partner killed because he can’t function
    effectively without the intersect. Even when he had it, he had problems with it because of his emotions.
    The episode ends with his being captured and set up for torture by Richard Chamberlain. (Both he and Timothy Dalton were great by the way.) Sarah then
    blames herself for what happened and sets off on her
    own, along with Casey and Morgan to rescue her “boyfriend” whom she supposedly “loves”. In the
    previews to the next episode we see Sarah kicking
    butt all over the place as she “rescues” Chuck from
    the bad guys. Of course we just can’t wait to see that right? Chuck can’t function on his own so Sarah
    “protects” him per Mama B’s instructions. When Chuck
    gets into trouble Sarah is always there to “rescue”
    him because he is too incompetent to take care of himself. And if Sarah can’t do it, Ellie and Mama B.
    will always be around, the women taking care
    of their little boy no matter what. In the final scene or near to it we see Chuck cowering before
    the menacing needle of Richard Chamberlain. Remember
    he hates needles, right? But don’t worry folks, Sarah is riding to the rescue. All will be well.
    Frankly it’s disgusting.

    Which brings me to my final comments, if I haven’t
    already bored to death or enraged the other writers
    on this site. This is the rub that won’t go away at
    least as I see it both in the character of Chuck and
    the Chuck/Sarah relationship.

    In Seasons 1 and 2 Chuck as an individual was a much
    stronger character than in Seasons 3 and 4. He had
    an independent streak in him and wasn’t afraid of
    confronting Sarah if he thought it was necessary.
    In Season’s 3 and 4 that part of his character is
    mostly gone. Bits and pieces show up here and there
    but for the most part the essence of the guy we saw
    in Seasons 1 and 2 is no longer there. Instead he has a new hair do and clothes. Style was substituted
    for substance and it hurt the show. It’s still hurting the show. I simply don’t have much sympathy
    or even like the character that much anymore. Maybe
    the show should be called “Sarah” not “Chuck”. He comes off looking like a wimp. Sorry but that’s the way I see it from a male point of view. The women in
    the show are far stronger than the men. Sarah is
    stronger than Chuck. Ellie is stronger than Devon.
    It’s been hinted that Mama B ran the Bartowski household (when she was around) and in episode 4.7
    treated her husband like the fool he was said to be
    and of course the son is emotionally following his
    father’s footsteps. A chip off the old block, right?

    No woman, not even a mother, will ever respect a weak man. He may be loved, perhaps, but never respected, by anyone. This is what Chuck has sunk to. The silence that followed Sarah’s remarks about
    Chuck’s spy abilities without the intersect said it
    all in that video conference. It simply was devastating but it was true. He can’t have it both
    ways. If he wants to be a spy he needs to accept the
    realities that go with it. It means he has to carry
    lethal weapons and use them if necessary, not tranq
    pistols. It means that on occasion when necessary to
    protect innocent people, not to mention his family
    and friends, he may have to kill bad people. This is
    the reality of the spy world like it or not. Remember in Season 1 when Bryce said he wouldn’t survive in the field, he failed his red test after
    his assailant tried to kill him twice (Casey had to do it for him), he refused to kill Shaw after Shaw had murdered his own father in cold blood and then tried to kill all 3 members of the the team in the armored truck. Remember the defeatist speech Chuck
    made then? He was pathetic then as well is now. He
    either can be the nice naive nerd-herder or when
    necessary a cold blooded spy. He can’t be both. Sarah herself said there was nothing wrong in not
    being a spy and I think down deep she knows Chuck is
    not really cut out for it. He really belongs working
    on computer systems in one way or another, not being a field agent. She has hinted this to him several times. It was said bluntly in 4.8. Need I say more?

    As for Sarah she needs to make her mind too, one way
    or another. When Chuck was not an agent she said they couldn’t be together because it was unprofessional. When he tried to become an agent to
    be with her she said he was no longer the man she fell in love with so she couldn’t be with him in that capacity either. Like Chuck she can’t have it both ways. She either has to leave the spy world to
    be with the nice guy nerd-herder or accept the necessary changes he has to make if he is to survive
    in the spy world. The present compromise established
    in the last 6 episodes of Season 3 can’t be continued any more-they can’t have it all as a couple. Continuing it will eventually get one or both of them killed, not to mention the other members of the team or the members of Chuck’s family.

    Finally as a couple they need to meet issues head on
    and settle them, not tiptoe around them and pretend
    they don’t exist. If Chuck is that afraid of confronting Sarah when he needs to, then he needs to get a new girlfriend. If Sarah really does not
    respect Chuck as an equal colleague in the spyworld
    then she either needs to get out of it if she wants him to be with nice,sweet Chuck or if she wants to stay in it find another Bryce or Shaw. the hair splitting is no longer possible.

    That’s about it. I guess I’ve written a book not a
    comment and I certainly didn’t mean to make it this long and yes, despite my comments I will watch next
    week’s episode and I hope everyone else does too, thanks.

    • Anon says:

      I think Season 3 episodes 1 to 13 was written for people who would think like you.

      He got through the darkness without too much help from either Sarah or Casey.He just wasn’t able to shoot an -Chuck didn’t know- unarmed guy.

      “He didn’t have the guts to confront Sarah
      about it so Morgan confronted Sarah for him.”

      He did have the guts.He just couldn’t justify going off on Sarah. Because Sarah and Casey had real evidence;Chuck just had his instincts. And remember Sarah sneaking into their own in apartment? She was afraid to confront him too.

      Remember when he talked to Frost when she was in custody? He couldn’t even process the idea that she was rogue.It is his mother.

      Chuck had a choice to be greater than any spy.He didn’t choose the darker aspects of that. We saw that in 3×10.

      Chuck lacks the brutality of Casey or Bryce but that doesn’t mean he is pathetic.Sarah knows that.When Sarah latches on,she doesn’t want to let go.That’s why in anniversary she was against Chuck joining the cia again.She needs to know that chuck will be a constant in her life. Maybe even the constant.

      Chuck was captured because his partner was an idiot who treated the situation too much like a game.

      Sarah was always the “stronger” one physically in the relationship during season 1 and 2.It changed and Sarah accepted that;it was shown in 3×14 and 3×15.

      Chuck saved his own ass and Sarah’s life against Shaw.

      I agree that Sarah saving Chuck wouldn’t look so good for Chuck in the next episode. We need to see him do something.

      “The present compromise established
      in the last 6 episodes of Season 3 can’t be continued any more-they can’t have it all as a couple.”

      We are gonna see if this is true or not. I think Sarah and chuck can function as a spy couple.They are just learning how.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      I like how you put it, “much of the original charm of the show has been restored”.

      “Charm” is an excellent way to describe it.

    • JC says:

      I still see the problem in how they present the spy world. I understand that the Chuck version is like a comic book in most ways and that’s fine. But somewhere along the line, spy and assassin got lumped together and that has hurt the show.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with you there, JC. It’s probably not just the red test, but the red test did the bulk of the damage, I think. I would like to see Chuck and Sarah iron out their definitions in this current story line, b/c Sarah’s definition centers on the dark underside of deceit and danger and killing, whereas Chuck’s focuses almost exclusively on the cool part. Chuck needs to understand where Sarah is coming from, and Sarah needs to see that Chuck really is a spy even though he isn’t a dark and dangerous killer. They are not Frost and Volkoff. They are not Orion and Frost. They are Chuck & Sarah and can define themselves as a couple and a spy couple. With Team Bartowski’s unique niche in the spy world and with the government, they have a greater freedom to do just that.

      • JC says:

        I think that’s where most of the arguments come from between fans and characters about Chuck’s capabilities as a spy. Violence should be the last resort of a great spy, if they’ve done they’re job nobody knows about it.

        And I agree with you about the Red Test. It just didn’t damage a certain character, it hurt the canon of the show. They tried to make the spy world dark which went against how it was presented in the first two seasons.

      • atcdave says:

        That is a good point. I think the issue is anchored right at the start of S3. Sarah has a dark view of being a spy right from Pink Slip, while Chuck is clueless to it. It’s more than just the Red Test. Remember Sarah’s speech about it all being false and built on lies. So to Sarah, seeing Chuck as no spy might have actually been high praise. Of course Chuck still sees being a spy as something cool.

        Now here’s the million dollar question; will this different perception ever be acknowledged on the show? Or will the issue simply go away when Chuck and Sarah are joyfully reunited?
        I kind of think we’re the only ones thinking about it.

      • JC says:

        I doubt it will be addressed Dave. I really don’t think they want to revisit that theme at all it’s such a slippery slope. And this season has done a much better job of balancing the darker elements in some ways better than S1 or 2.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree JC, it’s unlikely to ever be addressed. I think the biggest change on fun vs. dark issues is how it effects Sarah. In S1 and S2 Casey was mainly dark and Sarah was mainly light. In S3 we had a convergence of sorts where we saw Casey finally become a (mostly) good guy; but we became more aware of how the dark side affected Sarah (and how she really didn’t like it).
        While all along Chuck is somewhat stuck in the middle. But while it used to mean he tried to do what was right while avoiding a kill or bunker order. Those issues have become more personal now that he is searching for mom and living with Sarah. I think it just forces a different sense of balance than what used to see. And yeah, I like it a lot.

      • JC says:

        Yep for all the criticisms I level at the show they knew how to balance the lighthearted vs darker elements. They lost it in S3 by forcing things but they’ve regained their touch this year

      • thinkling says:

        So to Sarah, seeing Chuck as no spy might have actually been high praise.

        Yeah, I think that’s what Ernie and I were hammering out in a thread above. She thinks Chuck Bartowski is great — first, last, and always — whether he is a spy or not. Being a spy doesn’t add anything to his stature in her eyes. Until he became the exception to the spy rule in her mind, becoming a spy only stood to diminish him in her eyes.

        He DID become that exception, and hopefully some of her perspective will begin to change, and they can reach a balance and understand each other’s POV’s

  18. thinkling says:

    Agree with you Anon, good comments.

    I think they can and will have it all as a spy-couple, and I can’t wait to see it.

    Chuck was captured because his partner was an idiot who treated the situation too much like a game.

    Exactly. And Sarah recognized the likelihood from the get-go. She knew Rye was an idiot and that to him this was all an exercise, an experiment. To her, it is her life … or Chuck’s life, which has come to be almost the same thing.

    The position Chuck is in now would be bad for any agent. It will be interesting to see what happens. I think they will arrange a win win for Chuck & Sarah.

    • Anon says:

      “I think they can and will have it all as a spy-couple, and I can’t wait to see it.”

      But the writers will need to find a credible source of problems for them. 😛

      “I think they will arrange a win win for Chuck & Sarah.”

      Chuck shouldn’t count on Sarah too much,though.

      • atcdave says:

        I think Chuck and Sarah will be able to count on each other, I do think most serious challenges will be external. They’re spies, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a threat!

      • Anon says:

        It should be a partnership. Sarah shouldn’t babysit Chuck.

        “They’re spies, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a threat!”

        Agreed.

  19. Merve says:

    As someone who has been endlessly frustrated with all the retreading and rehashing that has gone on this season, I have this to say: instead of retelling stories in a manner that only those who disliked how they were presented previously would enjoy, why not just tell new stories that everyone could have a chance to enjoy?

    • Anon says:

      When you “pull a stunt” like Prague,you need to provide back story,character analysis and so on.
      “Prague being possible” isn’t enough.

      TPTB pretty much never acknowledged that in first 13 episodes or what they gave wasn’t enough. TPTB didn’t have time for explanation in the back 6 or the fans didn’t have the patience.

      That’s why there is rehashing. It is pretty much the only choice and they mix it with Volkoff and Frost.

      They try to please everyone but some people won’t find it enough,of course 🙂

      • Merve says:

        Rehashing is really not the only choice, as the episodes from “Couch Lock” to “First Fight” demonstrated. They were mainly filled with new plot ideas. And what does Prague have to do with anything? It hasn’t been rehashed or revisited this season in any way.

        “Suitcase” to “Coup d’Etat” were utterly pointless. Aside from bringing the Buy Morons back, they didn’t advance the plot in any significant way. “Suitcase” was basically “Role Models” with a badly-edited fight scene, down to the incessant bickering. But on the bright side, Chuck and Sarah seemed to be learning how to communicate better during “Suitcase” and “Cubic Z.” Then bam! In “Coup d’Etat,” Chuck and Sarah magically have communication issues. Chuck can’t show me two people learning how to be better communicators, and then tell me that they’re “crap communicators.” I won’t buy it, and in that sense, “Coup d’Etat” felt like a rehash of “Suitcase,” i.e. a rehash of a rehash. And that’s not to mention the ridiculous fake engagement storyline. Last season, Sarah overcame her relationship hang-ups, and by “Living Dead,” she had given Chuck her (spy) will. After that, I can’t be expected to believe that Sarah would again have trouble overcoming her relationship hang-ups. (Plus, this is the woman who looked disappointed to take off fake wedding rings on at least two previous occasions.) I know that such behaviour can be considered “in-character” for Sarah, but it completely ignores her prior character development. I also can’t be expected to care about an engagement after the events of the S3 finale. I already know that Chuck and Sarah won’t leave each other; I don’t need a ring to prove it.

        All this makes me wonder: why regress the Chuck/Sarah relationship to create the illusion of forward development when all that development (or more meaningful versions of it) had already happened? I can only guess that they needed a bunch of lighthearted filler episodes before the Mama Bartowski arc kicked off, but I didn’t have a great time watching How I Met Your Chuck (or Two and a Half Chucks or Chucks of Engagement or whatever other not-so-clever name you want to give to it). Now, none of this would bother me if it had all happened in the background, but it was the A-plot, pushed front and centre to the point that it overwhelmed and suffocated the show. By the time it was revealed that the political problems in Costa Gravas could be traced back to marital discord, giving the opportunity for Chuck and Sarah to rewrite the speech from “Three Words” in the most contrived way possible, my shipper quotient had dropped from about 2% to -50%.

        “Couch Lock,” “Aisle of Terror,” and “First Fight” felt new and fresh. If anything was rehashed, it was the gas scene from “Mask,” but that’s not really important, so I’ll let it slide.

        Then we come to “Fear of Death,” which was just cobbled together from previous plot lines and ideas. Flash impotence? We had 9 episodes of it last season. Chuck being captured and threatened with torture in an attempt to confirm the identity of the Intersect and exploit it? That’s the exact same plot line from “Beefcake.” Sarah being concerned about Chuck going on a dangerous mission? That’s the exact same plot line from “First Class,” and Chuck and Sarah being together now wasn’t a strong enough justification to revisit it, especially since Sarah’s reasons for wanting Chuck off the mission were the same. Agent Rye? He was basically a pointless version of Shaw. At least Shaw was right about a few things: Chuck needed to learn to pull the trigger, to consult with his teammates before taking action, and to be able to handle some things by himself. (Ironically, Chuck ended up using all those things to defeat Shaw, but that’s not relevant here.) However, Shaw was wrong to believe that Chuck’s emotional connections were a liability. Unfortunately, that’s all that Rye believed, and there’s no way that I would believe him because I already knew that he was wrong. Then Rye died (and Rob Riggle’s bad acting died with him), so there couldn’t be any resolution in which Rye saw the error of his ways, which would have been a fresh take on things. Even worse was the fact that Chuck didn’t experience any sense of déjà vu. At no point did he say, “I had a mentor once who believed similar things to you, and he turned out to be full of crap, so I think that you’re also full of crap.” In this process of repetition, Chuck came off looking like an idiot who doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

        My point is: TV shows don’t get do-overs. Yesterday, I was marking some math assignments and I noticed that a couple of students had given the exact same incorrect proof for one of the problems. If you copy off someone else, you risk making the same mistakes. That’s the problem with rehashing: if you copy what you already did, then you end up making the same mistakes as before. And even if it’s a slightly better version of what I’ve already seen (which hasn’t been the case this season, unfortunately) then I’m still frustrated to see it again. Wasn’t this season supposed to be all about “family?” (I probably shouldn’t put much stock in what Fedak says; after all, this is the man who referred to a poorly-edited aborted motel sex scene as a “game changer.”) Most of what we’ve so far has been Chuck and Sarah whining about their feelings (or not whining enough about their feelings and causing misunderstandings).

        Most of the rehashing that has happened this season has been unnecessary. It hasn’t pushed the plot in any interesting directions, and in some cases, it has made the characters look like people who don’t learn from past experiences. I don’t think that the show has run out of ideas, though. The Mama Bartowski stuff is new. The idea of characters facing parenthood is new. Instead of wasting time on Charah nonsense, the show should be spending more time on these things. I understand that exploring new ideas can be a risk, but I’d prefer a show that takes risks and occasionally stumbles to the watered-down version of Chuck that has bored me to tears for large portions of this season.

        Fortunately, this show has banked a lot of goodwill with me, so I expect that things will becoming exciting again once this silly flash impotence arc is over. There are a lot of interesting mysteries – the blue mustang, Mary’s true allegiances, the PSP, Volkoff’s disappearance – so while I’m frustrated with a lot what has happened this season, I’m not too worried about the show’s future.

      • Anon says:

        If you pick apart every plot point,then you are right.I was talking about prevalent themes in Season 4.

        “…but I didn’t have a great time watching How I Met Your Chuck (or Two and a Half Chucks or Chucks of Engagement or whatever other not-so-clever name you want to give to it)”

        I don’t think it got that bad 😛

        ‘That’s the exact same plot line from “First Class,”’

        Not exactly. Sarah and Chuck are together 😛

        “I had a mentor once who believed similar things to you, and he turned out to be full of crap, so I think that you’re also full of crap.”

        The situations were different though. Chuck had been affected by a device.Not trying to learn to use the intersect.

        But you have a point,it ultimately was about Chuck and his emotions.And it can be seen as a rehash.

        The difference here is:Chuck became an agent,made a mistake and is suffering for it. That’s different than season 1.

        And Sarah giving a spy will isn’t same as marrying Chuck. Even accepting the idea of a marriage,will be different if Chuck isn’t a spy.

        “Fortunately, this show has banked a lot of goodwill with me,”

        That’s good.I’m glad,for me that isn’t the case.

        Funny thing,in season 3,they made the show about Charah and their unhappiness;i was in your position back then.Some parts of the show bored me and i was angry with the produces for making those parts central issues.
        I’m happy to see Charah filler plots after season 3,i guess.

        But you are right.New ideas are refreshing.

      • Anon says:

        I think they are showing Chuck struggle with spy life because the show was about an ordinary guy who found himself in a ruthless business. While Chuck got better,he can’t be completely spy.

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

    IDK where to put this so…

    Since Chuck is missing, I hope when the show starts on Monday it goes, “Hi, I’m Sarah, here are a few things you should know.”

    Not likely, but it would be cool. And not Deja Vu 😉

  21. Sarah Sam says:

    Hah!! Nice commentary Robert H. I can see your points. How long is Chuck gonna get his balls busted by Sarah for Prague. The story tells us that Chuck and Sarah are deeply in love and has incorporated beautiful touching moments to demonstrate this (she saved him and he saved her)but the inconsistency has been maddening and yet we’re still here discussing the story. I guess on some strange level we’re hooked but realistically if I’m Chuck,this thing with Sarah Walker would have been over after The Other Guy. But this is TV and if that happens there is no show, so in that vein ,I think the issues that are seemingly being rehashed from the S3 ambiguities are totally realistic because they play into Chucks issues of confidence and trust regarding Sarah. Will the problems can be resolved to my satisfaction? I won’t predict. In a sense, I think it’s too late, but personally it speaks well for the other elements of the show that I’m still watching and I have so far enjoyed S4 but after S3 who wouldn’t?

    • Anon says:

      Why “Vs The Other Guy”? If we are gonna be realistic,Chuck would continue to go out with Hannah or give up on Sarah after “Vs Fake Name”.

      After “American Hero” even if Chuck no longer pursued Sarah,Sarah would pursue him. Though Chuck not showing up in Paris to shoot Shaw, would dramatically lower her chances of survival:P

      But that’s not the case with Chuck. He pretty much settles down for life. That’s why he tried to go out with Lou after 5 years of no relationships;Sarah caused him to care.And when he realized that, he ran in the opposite direction.

      By the end of season 2,Chuck is only sure of one thing: Sarah must be in his life.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Anon. I’m pretty sure I’d be just like Chuck on this; I don’t even get how Chuck could have been interested in Hannah. If Sarah Walker is around, other women don’t exist; no matter how hopeless things seem. And I think Sarah proved herself enough in the first two seasons she’s worth a little patience too.

      • Anon says:

        Well,there were lots of people supportive of Chuck and Hannah relationship-of course,not as many as Chuck&Sarah supporters- 😛

        Mainly Kristin Kreuk fans 🙂 After 3×10,i have read comments about how Chuck was now a kick-ass spy and with Hannah no one needing Sarah.LOL. Blasphemy!

        And Chuck has a thing for brunettes,don’t you know? 😛

      • atcdave says:

        Oh I know. I was actually surprised Hannah didn’t have more fan support than she did; Kruek is very popular. And even I would admit Hannah was an appealing and likable character, I even normally prefer brunettes (I have to say that in case my wife reads this!), but I still couldn’t see being with her as anything other than a very sad sort of settling. Sarah is just larger than life.

      • Anon says:

        Some people likened Hannah to a stalker.Haha.

        “…but I still couldn’t see being with her as anything other than a very sad sort of settling.”

        After season 2,yeah. Poor Chuck and Sarah! They have to settle for Hannah and Shaw.

        In fact,Chuck could be considered more fortunate because Hannah was emotionally rock-solid compared to Shaw.

        “Sarah is just larger than life.”

        Hm,the only real competition was Jill,it seems. And Chuck’s only rival was himself.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      Actually I always thought Chuck should have gone to Italy at the end of Final Exam and felt that relationship-wise he would have been justified to do so.

      I all relates to how “confusing” (there is no other way to describe it) Sarah was portrayed.

      Hannah was eye candy, nothing else. She served no purpose in the story.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Oops, forgot to add that Sarah is being portrayed with bombsized clarity this season. This is very welcome.

      • Anon says:

        Chuck couldn’t go to Italy without support.Casey was discharged. He would need his family or Sarah or Casey to keep him sane in his new role.

        Hannah served another purpose.Hannah was one of the last steps to having Sarah believe she lost Chuck completely.

      • JC says:

        Hannah served one purpose to justify Sarah and Shaw. He didn’t learn anything new from the “relationship” and him sleeping and dumping her was a poor attempt to show him changing.

        Hannah was just another LI that offered no real choice for Chuck and once again Sarah is chosen by default.

  22. Sarah Sam says:

    That’s part of it I suppose. Not many can see Chuck with anybody but Sarah, despite all they’ve done to each other and hell, since he can’t be in a normal relationship why not? and oh yeah, he is clueless about some of the crappy treatment he got from her leading up to “Other Guy” including ignoring his advice and going on a mission with a guy whose wife she killed. Save her ass in 4/12 and after thanks baby but be, bye, bye. Sarah chasing after Chuck? 4/9? About damn time.

    • atcdave says:

      I think a big part of the appeal of Chuck for many of us is he has a far more gentle and forgiving nature than what you just expressed. I really like that, except for the Hannah stupidity, Chuck has stayed faithful to his love for Sarah whether she deserved it or not. Beautiful stuff.

      And for the record, I’d say much the same for Sarah. Except for the Shaw stupidity, she’s been faithful to Chuck even when he didn’t deserve it.

      Its the stuff of an epic and special romance.

      • Anon says:

        I don’t know if I’d be as forgiving as Chuck was.But Sarah certainly forgave a lot. And I’m not in love like Chuck was/is 😛

        In pink slip,Sarah treated Chuck like dirt,because “she was very hurt”*.

        Sarah overcoming that and choosing to run away with Chuck again really shows her love.

        *Chuck’s words.

      • thinkling says:

        What Dave said. 🙂

      • kg says:

        Right Dave. I think the idea was to show us that we’re human, far from perfect, and despite some doubts and issues, ultimately the two main characters listen to and follow their hearts. Beautiful love story and romance.

        I think Dave, this is why even today we love season two so much. They weren’t officially a couple, but the whole thing was so cute because we knew that was hogwash. Chuck desperately wanted it to be real, and the irony is that it was along. It just didn’t have the label. We could see it was real to Sarah in spite of her efforts to the contrary. And in the absence of sex, I think the element of season two I loved so much was the clear evidence of real romance and wooing if you will. Those qualities seem so lacking today in a lot of our TV shows, movies and real life.

        Anyway, both Chuck and Sarah have been gentle and forgiving to each other. We’ve pointed out the evidence ad nauseum.

        That’s what makes Chuck so special, so cool, so different. Sure, 99 other guys probably would have given up and looked elswhere. He wanted a normal life, he wanted the intersect out, then he wanted to be a spy. His wanting Sarah never changed.

        And Sarah has let Chuck know the qualities in him she finds attractive. She doesn’t love him because he’s the most handsome and ripped guy. As a man, that is so refreshingly awesome. We can go all the way back to Hard Salami to see Sarah’s reaction when a man refuses to run out on her, probably for the first time, even though he’s seemingly about to be blown into 1000 pieces.

        And because she’s such a complex character, Sarah’s incredibly touched and flattered by this brave and loving gesture, but it also freaked her out because it’s not what she’s come to expect, and she’s frustrated because it coincides with her need to protect this guy.

        Their dynamic is very interesting. Sarah has a type. She loves heroes. Chuck is a a hero. She’s told him that. He fits the bill, but the problem is he doesn’t see himself as a hero. Or more aptly, he doesn’t fit the mold of the prototypical hero. He has to get past that.

      • thinkling says:

        Well said KG. You hit the nail on the head. Sarah sees Chuck as a hero, loves and values Chuck with or without the Intersect. But Chuck doesn’t, and he can’t understand that she does.

      • atcdave says:

        Great comment KG. It was heartbreaking to see Sarah’s gaffe in Fear of Death that both hurt and challenged Chuck. But at the same time, its wonderful to see her immediately take ownership of it and resolve to fix the damage done. To me, that’s the very core of what’s special between these two characters.

  23. thinkling says:

    My ? for you think is do you feel CS have been selfish or heroic in seasons 3 & 4?

    @Jason:

    Disclaimer. My overall thoughts on C/S, including these, almost always exclude s3.0.

    Short answer. I don’t really think Chuck & Sarah have changed from s1-s2 to s3.1-s4, in terms of selfish vs. unselfish or heroic. If you viewed them as heroic before, I think they still are. If you viewed them as selfish before, then they still are.

    Longer explanation. Sarah told Chuck “What makes you special is that you’re not like every other spy. You’re a good guy and you want to help people.” It was true then, and I think it’s still true. That characterization of why Chuck does what he does, why he downloaded the 2.0 and why he was determined to be a spy, is affirmed in Three Words and Living Dead. If that made him heroic in s1-s2, then doing whatever it takes to restore the Intersect, for the team and because he likes doing great things, is still heroic.

    Chuck said of himself, “There’s nothing in my life that I care about more than my friends and my family.” That has always been true of Chuck and still is. If you think that makes him less than heroic or selfish now, b/c he wants to find/rescue his mom, then he was selfish before when he risked his life to rescue his dad, to save Ellie from Roark, to save Morgan from Triad, and spent a year’s salary for Ellie’s wedding. Not what a normal guy would do.

    Often in s1-s2, Chuck was drawn into heroic deeds (or at least more “on board” with them) b/c they touched his family in some way. I think his hero radar has expanded, as shown by his downloading the 2.0 and his wanting to restore the Intersect and still be a spy, even though his mom hunt is over. He found her and solved the mystery of her departure. She talked to Ellie, blew up the old house, and escaped back to her cover or evil doing. It’s over. He’s not looking for her any more b/c she’s his mom, but b/c she’s top priority — code-red — for CIA capture. Of course she’ll be brought back into the story, but Chuck doesn’t know that. He is no longer striving to keep the Intersect and be a spy in order to find his mom. And I don’t think it’s just to be with Sarah. He’s a good guy, and he wants to help people.

    If Sarah’s willingness to do anything for Chuck, at first in a more professional context, like not bunkering him in the Pilot, and later in a professional context but for very personal reasons, like Marlin, Break-up, Tom Sawyer, Santa Claus, Broken Heart, and Colonel … if that was heroic in s21-s2, then going rogue in the end of Fear of Death and Phase 3 is still heroic. If Chuck’s willingness to do anything for Sarah from leaving the safety of the car in Helicopter through Sizzling Shrimp, Imported Hard Salami, Seduction, DeLorean, and Suburbs … if those actions were heroic in s1-s2, then protecting Sarah at whatever cost to himself, slamming the door in Suitcase and keeping her away from a mission when he can’t flash to protect her, is still heroic.

    Casey is a hero. He has given up a normal life and risked his life for a cause so that a bunch of people he doesn’t know can have the American dream. But Kathleen and Alex were sacrificed to the cause, as well.

    How about MamaB and PapaB? They also risked themselves and gave themselves to a cause. Were they heroic? They did what they did at great cost to their children. Was it heroic or selfish? It obviously went in directions they didn’t plan or imagine. MamaB admits that if she had it to do over again, she would not have left on that last mission. Is it heroic to save the world and lose the ones you love and are responsible to/for? Is there more than one way to be a hero? Is a guy who risks himself for the sake of the ones he loves any less a hero?

    Hindsight is 20/20. But at the moment of decision, how do you know if you’re acting selfishly or heroically? I see Chuck & Sarah as heroes, then and now. They must decide how to balance their lives as a couple and spy couple. That’s part of what we’re seeing.

    • atcdave says:

      Great comment. Maybe this could be turned into a full post Thinkling, this is the sort of well thought out comment we were thinking of for front page articles.

      You touch on one of those timeless arguments towards the end about serving a “greater good” vs. serving those directly placed in your life. Chuck and Casey seem to start at opposite ends of the spectrum and learned a great deal from each other (while Sarah has also become more like Chuck, I think she started somewhere in between the extremes Chuck and Casey represent).

    • kg says:

      Right Thinkling. All heroes don’t necessarily wear masks, tights, leotards, capes and boots. Some actually prefer sneakers.

      And like our favorite characters in CHUCK, the heroes I alluded to above, even the ones with special powers, don’t always have it easy either. They have to make difficult choices and decisions in order to maintain their hero status. Their personal lives are shortchanged and affected. They have secrets. They are forced to lie to loved ones or leave them behind. Their alter egos are a facade, facillitating the need for a mask or cowl.

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