Joe And Dave Discuss Chuck vs. The Anniversary

Great Expectations

Team B, Together again for the first time.As we wait to see Chuck vs. The Balcony on January 17, your ChuckThis Bloggers are taking a look back at Season 4 to date, one or two episodes a week followed by a season-recap at the end. This time, just to be a little different, Dave and I decided to have a conversation about Chuck vs. The Anniversary and share it with you.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want you to join in, especially if you have joined in to Mel’s Hiatus ReWatch on Monday nights!

You’ll see what we were thinking as we re-watched, but really, we’re much more interested in how you see it now that we know more about MamaB, The Orion Cave, The Buy More and Greta, all of which were big question marks in September.

Dave, I had to make a small trip to the store a moment ago, and in the car I was thinking about Chuck vs. The Anniversary. And like I say ad nauseum, I found it to be much, much better than I remembered!

But this time I’m really, really surprised at my reaction, mostly because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I didn’t remember how great the humor was throughout, everything from Morgan finding a new dumpling house (I never knew that Bud the Repo Man loved dumplings!) to Sarah sexting Chuck on the plane (how demure!) to Casey finally getting a chance to repay Sarah for her “Thank you!” in The Nacho Sampler as they parachute off a building in Hong Kong. I had forgotten how fast paced the entire story was as two teams of spies jet across the globe, only to meet in a former KGB facility.

I just watched Anniversary too and was disappointed at how it compared to later episodes in the season, so we have the start of a discussion right there! Did you want to compare it to a specific episode for our post? You mention the Pilot, although First Date or Beard seem logical as well.

Yes. I didn’t think so the first time, but if Chuck was a brand new show, this episode would actually be a pretty good pilot. I think that’s because they went a long way to re-introducing relationships; first, Chuck and Sarah (angst free!) then Casey and Sarah and then Chuck and Morgan.

Casey and Sarah are interesting. She sashays up to Marco (Dolph Lundgren) and smiles like she’s about to kiss him but then belts him with a right hook instead. And Casey with his “Please Move!” comment; Classic. These are not the characters we saw in S3, Sarah unsteady on her feet and Casey acting as a “second” in <em>The Mask</em>.

The characters seemed fresh to me, like in S1. They are different, after all, and in a new situation. We get to see the four of them, counting Morgan, without the tensions of the angst we had in season one (remember “will they/won’t they???”) or the frustrations of PLIs. It’s really very simple, relationship wise, with the only complication coming at the end when MamaB decides that it’s a “very good” thing Marco has not told Volkoff about her family.

Oh, that and the other complication we have at the end. Chuck can’t bring himself to tell Ellie he’s spying again because she’s announced she’s pregnant. That’s not a bad reason!

Now, Dave, why First Date? Inquiring minds want to know!

It is funny how my reaction was a little different. For starters, I would have to say I loved the episode and have loved the whole season. The things I always want from Chuck are the humor, the good action sequences, and the warmth of Chuck/Sarah, friends and family. So Anniversary really sets the tone for the whole season in that regard. It was funny from beginning to end. It was mildly disappointing that the best action sequence of the episode was implied rather than shown (Chuck taking out 10 armed men), but you know, its almost funnier that they didn’t bother to show it. Its like an homage of sorts to the cheesy action shows we grew up on where the stunt/effects budget was so small they often took laughable shortcuts to get the story told. And we did get to see Sarah KO a much bigger man (Mr. “I will break you”; apparently he can only say that when they’re tied up, and even then he talks to Casey, not the very scary Sarah Walker); and Sarah and Casey base jumping in formal wear. Of course I loved the Chuck/Sarah moments throughout; from trying to figure out how to say goodbye for Sarah’s rather lengthy “business trip”, to the decision to treat secrets the same as lies, to Chuck’s declaration he wasn’t willing to risk Sarah (oh, or the “guys” either) in his search for his mom, to the nice talk at the end. I guess I can really get going about what I liked about this episode.

But for all that I find the beginning depressing. That’s why this is in the lower tier of S4 episodes for me. Way before the season ever started, we were discussing the likelihood Chuck would involve Morgan in his quest for mom but not Sarah. Of course that’s also tied to Chuck and Morgan not being actual government agents at that time, but I still don’t like the situation. Episode-wise its nicely dealt with, and by the end we have Sarah (and Casey) brought on board and Chuck back with the agency. But it still means Chuck and Sarah ran off on separate missions for 3 months and apparently never saw each other. THAT is depressing. Chuck also deliberately kept Sarah in the dark about his actions during that time (and ran up $43000 of credit card debt). That is also depressing. So the early humor of the episode is sort of melancholy to me. Perhaps that’s intentional; it certainly helps explain why Chuck is so determined to get the Intersect back later, being left home alone while the little lady goes out to kick butt without you can’t be a happy thought (and of course, plays directly into Chuck’s sense of self worth).

Things take an abrupt turn for the better when Chuck re-enters the Buy More. This is even more pronounced on re-watch because we know what’s coming. But the look and tone of the show instantly seems brighter. Chuck can’t escape General Beckman. I love Sarah’s rooting for Chuck via surveillance camera, I love the General in a snit dumping Chuck down the slide, and I love Chuck and Sarah’s happy interplay when they’re re-united in Castle. They run off in different directions again; but not for long. And by episode’s end we know the band is back together. If anyone was in doubt before, that alone is the single biggest issue in my enjoyment of the show.

My list of what’s great in Chuck is precisely the same as yours, Dave; humor, action and the warmth of Chuck & Sarah, friends and family. And oddly, I understand what you mean about that beginning of The Anniversary. But here’s my take.

This was the start of a new season, and S3 was a roller coaster, to say the least. But it ended very strong. So after four months I came into the first episode a little “nervous”. Mostly I was nervous for the State of the Relationship ™ and the fan’s reaction to what was coming, I’ll confess. Who knew what TPTB would give us? First viewing, well it was “okay.” Chuck and Sarah were “okay.” Breathe sigh of relief.

Now, after seeing 9 more episodes (and especially after Phase 3), the beginning looks much better to my eyes. C&S are solid but not clingy. They’re obviously new to this being together thing, but as a man who’s been married for 16 years of his life, the freshness is nice to see. That’s brought out in the scene where Sarah and Casey think he’s been killed by Marco’s men (Casey: “I’m going to tear you limb from limb – from limb!”). Having Chuck come back so quickly with his threat and seeing the relief on Sarah’s/Yvonne’s face was perfect, almost triumphant. If it had been drawn out I would have enjoyed it a lot less.

Dittos on the team being back together, too. That solidified that feeling of triumph I felt this time through.

I have to ask what you thought about the music. That first song by The Constellations, We’re Here to Save the Day! has become an anthem for me, not just for The Buy More, but for the entire season. (“We’re not afraid to say, we’re here to save the day; hey hey hey-hey-hey HEY!”).

Then it gets even better with the music used for those sexting scenes. That would be Howlin’ For You by The Black Keys. I defy anyone to hear that beat and not tap their foot! I break out into a grin too, myself!

Anything else? 🙂

– joe

I think I agree with you on all specific points, Joe. Perhaps the only difference in our reaction to the re-watch was expectations. I really see Suitcase, Aisle of Terror, First Fight, and Phase 3 as being as good as any Chuck we’ve ever seen; really outstanding entertainment and as such I’ve watched those episodes several times (as in more than any of the other episodes). So where Anniversary suffers a bit is in comparison to those episodes. When I re-watched Anniversary for this discussion it had been several weeks since I had seen it; so my disappointment was perhaps just because I’d focused on those stronger episodes more recently. As I said before, I did like the episode, and I thought it got a lot stronger from the first Buy More scene on; it just surprised me how down I felt about the first 15 minutes.

My reaction to the music has never been as strong as yours. The music on Chuck is usually well chosen and sets the right mood for the scene. I particularly thought the music was a fun part of the sexting scene; and I laughed and smiled all the way through. But with few exceptions I haven’t been moved to hunt down the songs or research the exact lyrics. What can I say, I’m a prosaic sort of guy (just don’t get me started on fan fiction…)

We had talked some about parallel episodes in these discussions. I guess generally I would compare this to previous premiers. The Pilot and First Date were, I think, both better episodes; but Anniversary scores major points for ending in a better place. We start this season off with Chuck in the best circumstance we’ve seen yet, and likely the best circumstance he’s been in in his life.


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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71 Responses to Joe And Dave Discuss Chuck vs. The Anniversary

  1. treecrab says:

    I enjoyed Anniversary when it first aired, but I definitely think it’s in the bottom tier of premiere episodes. That’s still pretty good, because as long as it’s better than Pink Slip, it can be considered a success.

    When I initially watched the episode, it really bothered me that Chuck had lied and/or kept Sarah in the dark during his search for Mama B, and it still does. But now knowing what we do, after the de-Intersect arc, I feel like Chuck’s actions have become slightly more understandable. Sarah straight up told him in Anniversary that she didn’t want him searching for his mother because it wasn’t safe. She probably meant that she didn’t want him searching *without* her, but still, it really provided some interesting foreshadowing for an episode like FOD. I think they’ve set up a pattern where as long as Chuck is safe and protected, Sarah is willing to do or sacrifice just about anything. I can better understand now why sometimes Chuck doesn’t tell Sarah certain things, because if he did, she might try and stop him from doing something he feels needs to be done. Not that it makes it right to lie to her, but at least I understand his actions a little better.

    One thing I really dislike about Anniversary is the way it screwed up the timeline. I realize continuity means very little to these writers, but it’s usually not so blatant a transgression as it was in this episode. The whole six/nine months thing was nonsensical in the extreme and completely invalidated the established, canon timeline from S3 (Ring 2 would have ended around late May). Sarah and Chuck had to have been apart for longer than three months. It was probably more like five. And the idea that Chuck and Sarah could have barely any problem not seeing each other or hardly talking to each other for five months is really absurd. Even if it was for only three months, that’s still ridiculous (it seems equally ridiculous that Sarah would even accept an assignment that keeps her away from Chuck for that long, but whatever).

    • atcdave says:

      The timeline bothers me too, I just kind of guessed in saying three months. But the thing is, we really don’t know when their missions started. We may guess Chuck started looking for mom fairly quickly, but he likely invested some time in researching what he had in the Orion cave first. Depending on how well cataloged it was that could have taken months all by itself. The 6-9 months line doesn’t really track with anything; Other Guy aired April 5, 2010; Anniversary aired September 20. So that 5 month span is now called 6-9 months? If Anniversary is meant to start on its air date perhaps we can conclude Chuck and Sarah had almost 6 months together before going on separate missions for about 3 months. But then somehow we wasted another month on Fear of Death and got to Thanksgiving in Leftovers. It just doesn’t track well.

    • joe says:

      Oooohhhh! I forgot to mention that timeline, and I certainly meant to. That 1994 date at the beginning stands out like a sore thumb. It it had been 1991, then there’s no problem.

      But it’s so blatant, it’s hard to believe it’s an error! I mean, really.

      And the same thing for the 6 month mission. 6 month/9 month anniversary??? What gives? If it’s so important to be made into a title, why the ambiguity? It’s both too silly for words and too clever by half. Neither explanation suits me.

    • treecrab says:

      Doesn’t track well? I guess if you want to be diplomatic…

      Even if you ignore the whole nine months thing, their six month anniversary would put them in early October, which would be the earliest that Anniversary could possibly start if they bothered to follow canon. Which I don’t think they did, since somehow we were only at Halloween by Aisle of Terror, yet at least 30 days passed during Fear of Death and we only just now got to Thanksgiving in Leftovers.

      I know people will say to just ignore the big continuity lapses like that, because hey, they enjoyed the episode so what does it really matter, but stuff like that really bothers me. It tells me they don’t care enough about the story to get even basic stuff right. Why should I care when they don’t?

      Anyway, this is probably being too negative on a topic that I don’t think very many people care about, so I’ll move on.

      Anniversary, it was a good episode. With one of my all-time favorite Sarah scenes, when she took pictures of herself on the plane. That’s what I remember from the episode most.

      • joe says:

        Naw, Treecrab. I hold at least 3 sets of contradictory thoughts in my head every day by breakfast time.

        We’re a special bunch here. We love to pick up and pick apart such details, but still love the show.

        And you’re absolutely right, even with that time-weirdness, it’s still a good episode.

      • JC says:

        Don’t worry Treecrab, I always complain about the continuity problems on the show. And you’re right to feel that way about them.

        But honestly Legs, Legs and more Legs is what I remember the most about the episode.

      • thinkling says:

        The timeline is totally off. At least they corrected the year of MEB’s disappearance in Leftovers, though. But the 6/9 month deal just won’t work no matter how you look at it. Earlier, Ernie came up with an explanation that would push the episode past the first set of holidays and into the next year. That would require skipping some months and ending a year ahead. That could have worked, except for Ellie’s pregnancy. So, I can’t think of any way to reconcile the timeline, as they present it.

        All that would have to change would be to back off 3 months. A 3/6 month anniversary would work fine. Anniversary starts 3 months earlier than its air date, so that the main part of the episode (after the globe-trotting is over) would be real time. That would put the 6 month anniversary in October, which would be right. All the episodes happen very close together. Suitcase through Coup are back to back. Then Couch through Phase 3 are back to back. Allowing 30 days for FOD, if MamaB showed up 10 days to 2 weeks before Halloween in Aisle of Terror, it would fit to get to Leftovers the day after Thanksgiving.

        So they’re off by 3 months. Like you said they should get stuff like that right. So, I make the internal correction, shrug my shoulders and enjoy everything else, b/c it’s such a great season.

        P.S. Or, it would take Einstein to figure out the s4 timeline, further proving Ernie’s hypothesis … Season 4 is GENIUS.

  2. jason says:

    OK – since no one else dived in – I will:

    #1 – Sarah – Casey – Marco may be my fav scene ever not involving chuck, the you miss him, the seductive strut to a one punch, even the russian judge had to give sarah a perfect ’10’ on that move, the thankyou into a free fall, another perfect ten

    #2 – in general, all the sarah was great, all the morgan was lousy, and all the chuck was either great or lousy, depending on if he was with morgan or sarah (by the way, morgan got better this season after this ep for me)

    #3 – Chuck at the end of 4×1 was so strong, so carmicheal, ‘you don’t know who I am’, ‘you only sent ten’, ‘you touch a hair on sarah’s head and I’ll….’, even how chuck carried himself when he explained himself to sarah for hiding his mission – he wasn’t squirmy or whiney, he was a man, those were all faux lines, at least thru the first ten eps, now vanished, but I had hope for Chuck the man in 4×1, rewatching reminded me of how much I liked Charles Carmicheal in 4×1

    #4 – sarah so nailed being a girl and being a spy in 4×1, and for most of the season really, I just wish chuck had stayed a bit more in 4×1’s mode

    @Joe / Dave – is this what you wanted from us fan???

    • joe says:

      You betcha, Jason.

      I like your #3. That’s something I’ve appreciated from the first.
      But #4, Sarah being both girlfriend and spy, that’s something I like a whole lot better as time goes on.

    • atcdave says:

      Excellent comment Jason, thanks. I also loved your number 1, I did mention the punch and base jumping in passing, but of course the scene had more than just that going on and was one of the better moments of the first part of the show.
      Agree about how well Chuck and Sarah are portrayed. I thought Morgan was funny, but there was way too much of him. The Repo Man bit in particular is way too long, too much. The sexting bit (in Russia, NOT in the bedroom) was quite funny.
      I also hope we see more of this happy balanced couple as the season unfolds. I think I’m a little more optimistic than you that we will on occasion. But I will concede it likely won’t happen as often as I would like.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      I actually rewatched 4.01 with the gang at ChuckTV last night. We all kind of wondered where the Chuck that was in this episode went to by 4.10. We all hope he returns – rapidly.

    • thinkling says:

      Good comments, Jason. I pretty much agree with that. I think that Chuck began to falter when his mother showed up and didn’t want to know anything about his life. After that she shot him. Then she blew up his childhood home and family legacy. Then she disabled his mojo, aka the Intersect. He and Sarah had a bit of a disconnect as well.

      However, I expect to see that Chuck return in 4.11. He now knows he doesn’t need the Intersect and that Sarah loves him beyond question. That’s the main thing. Of course, the Intersect return is a bonus. My bet … The Chuck is Back.

      • sd says:

        Having watched Anniversary with the perspective of future episodes…my spec is this…the writers are setting up these parallels with Sarah and Mama B for a reason: I think we will see a similar decision Sarah must make in regards to a deep undercover assignment…

  3. thinkling says:

    The 1st time we watched Anniversary, we could only compare with s3. In that context, it was the best episode we’d seen in a long time. I thought it was fun, and it made me excited about the season. None of that has changed. But s4 has been so strong, that Anniversary isn’t the stand-out it was 10 weeks ago.

    I still think it’s a fun episode. Sarah decking Marco. The parachutes. All things Beckman and Buymore. And let’s not forget that Anniversary gave us a Chuck classic … master spies that expertly use public transportation.

    It set a couple-y tone and C/S growth that has only gotten better through the season. Like Dave, I loved all the C/S moments.

    I love the brief, but fantastic introduction of the enigmatic Mother/Spy — the mother who wants her son to be safe and the spy who will kill to ensure his safety. Everything she has done from the moment we first see her until the end of Leftovers backs up her claim that protecting her family has always been her main concern.

    We see a hint of the future Sarah/Mary tentative bond in the parallel “Oh, Chuck” moments. Nice.

    Sadly all the new Buymore goodness disappeared when Beckman went back to DC. That’s probably the biggest disappointment of s4 to me. Anniversary is an entertaining episode and a good set up for what is my favorite season of Chuck so far.

  4. herder says:

    I don’t know that this is my favorite of the season but it is in the top half. A happy start “how ’bout I love you” followed by a new bit, the Buy More guy running around the world. Repo man was a bit lame, but a very funny series of job interviews and an excellent Buy More bit with the terrific music showing the disorientation without Zach’s odd camera angles.

    Again a terrific bit with Sarah, the fish out of water doing the sexting and Casey “I either leave or they die” conversation ender. Marco was a good bad guy, not exceptional but very good.

    Chuck stepping up to show his priorities, Morgan was ok (creepy at times), but a premonition of his omnipresence this year. A bit of a leg fixation by the director, but no complaints here, a variation of the Sarah in underwear theme, still enjoyable.

    Solid episode, but the music pushed it into the top half. I still wonder if the timeline means anything or if it was just a screw up by the editors. Similarly I wonder if Hong Kong means anything beyond an exotic location for Sarah and Casey to confront Marco.

    Favorite bits: “how about I love you”, the interviews, Castle slide, the whole entry scene to the Buy More, Sarah sexting, “if you harm one hair on Sarah’s head…”, “it’s not worth losing you…”, “Casey, would you help me find my mom”.

    As I said, not my favorite of the season, but up there.

  5. Faith says:

    First off I really like the format. It feels intimate but at the same time inclusive. Wish you guys would have told me first date goes with Anniversary I’d have rewatched both in comparison 😉

    Dave, I think season premieres by definition has to fall beneath the climax or peaks of the season. Mostly because there’s so much exposition, setting and story-telling that has to take place. After that when things settle and the story amps up is usually when the best is revealed. What makes Suitcase, Phase Three even more magnificent is the build up to it from the over arching arc. Though one can and should argue that as a stand alone those epis still exceed most of Chuck’s best but again they contain less of what is necessary in a premiere and instead dives right in. Pilot is probably the only exception I can think of to that. But in some ways being a pilot there really isn’t anything to draw on so you have to do the exposition and shaping of characters by necessity with diving right in.

    Something you guys didn’t touch on much: “no secrets, no lies.” on my Rewatch today after you guys I am reminded why that remains so essential, so on point to the season’s theme. Even through leftovers we’re made to revisit that concept of secrets and lies. Ellie is secret, MamaB is the lie.

    Apart from that I love the write up. I almost feel like it’s clearer for me now more than ever. New eyes and all that :-).

    • atcdave says:

      Thanks Faith, it was also a lot of fun doing it this way. The funny thing about premiers is, I usually love them. I like set-up and exposition. I like the introduction of characters, stories and ideas. So I really don’t think that was the aspect I was objecting too. I think it was almost entirely the fragmenting of TeamB. Once Chuck got into the Buy More it felt (to me) like things were coming back together and I immediately felt my spirits lift. So my criticism was almost entirely that I was surprised, on re-watch, how down I found the beginning to be. My main parallel to First Date is just that, as a premier episode. I find First Date to be an outstanding episode (roughly the same quality as Suitcase to my mind) while Anniversary is only a very good episode.
      I like the “no secrets, no lies” resolution and I’m sorry we didn’t explore it in more detail. I remember when we first saw it how pleased I was they were addressing a major fan concern right away. In hindsight, I’m even more pleased how faithful they’ve been to that pledge. Several times we’ve been worried Chuck would start keeping secrets from Sarah in his search for mom or attempts to get the Intersect back; but every time I’ve been pleased to see Sarah included in what’s going on.
      I don’t think I would include Ellie or mamaB in Chuck and Sarah’s promise to each other anyway; but even so I want to see those relationships sorted out as well. I’m sure that will be a major theme of the back part of the season.

    • joe says:

      Ooohhhh!! Glad you like the format, Faith. I wasn’t sure it would work at all (and boy, I’m glad it did!).

      We didn’t tell you that First Date goes with Anniversary because we’re EEEVVVIIILLLL! Dave got the inspiration as we were e-mailing back and forth on it. I was hoping something like that would happen.

      I agree with you on “No secrets; No lies,” too. On re-watch that little scene became a non-fight, dramatic high point and wonderful to watch.

      [Aside, as a non-actor, Zac and Yvonne just work magic on me as a fan when they have scenes like that. I know it’s a mix of talent, experience and training on the little technical things that make up the art of acting, but to me, it’s magic of the highest order.]

      Hum… Lou and I get into it on the CNN podcast that just came out about that “No secret; No Lies” issue. I hope I’m not mis-representing him here, but Lou thinks the issue has gone on too long, especially with Ellie. That doesn’t bother me so much (I think Chuck has had good reasons to protect Ellie from the truth). But I didn’t really say what I meant. (My fault – my thoughts are barely organized on the matter.) I think they’re working on it, and working through the issue.

      Even if it’s not a spectacular thing, it’s a major theme of the season, and it starts right here with Sarah’s proclamation.

      • atcdave says:

        I don’t get it, why would we think Chuck and Sarah’s promise to each other applies to anyone else? Anyway, I don’t like keeping Ellie in the dark either; but it has no real emotional hook with me. Logically we’ve seen Ellie can actually cause more trouble by not knowing what’s going on (remember Justin?) I think she’s in the dark now purely because Chuck is scared to tell her something she doesn’t want to hear. And Ellie has been amazingly rude and selfish on the issue of Chuck’s spying, so I’m not really that sympathetic towards her on the subject. As I said, it just doesn’t generate much emotional traction with me. I still expect Ellie finding out to be a fun story; but we get there when we get there, no hurry to me.

      • joe says:

        I think it’s the idea that *Chuck* is still “withholding” that rankles some, Dave.

        I can understand why it might for some – in large part, Chuck is us, and we’re meant to identify with him. Of course, we all want to think of ourselves as honest and transparent, and never, ever duplicitous.

        I don’t think I could believe in a “perfect” Chuck though. It’s a question of how imperfect a character can he be, and still be likeable, right?

      • atcdave says:

        I don’t expect Chuck to be perfect, and I do mostly relate to him on the current Ellie situation. He has wanted to be honest with her and she has made it difficult. Of course I want him to come clean at some point, but I mainly see Ellie as the one to blame on why it hasn’t happened yet. I HOPE that we will get “setting her straight” moment at some point; that is, he’s an adult, he has great and important things to do, and she doesn’t really have a say in the matter. Obviously her support would be nice, but his decisions can no longer be contingent on it.
        Just my 2 cents worth.

      • JC says:

        Its a weird situation with Ellie and Chuck.

        I was very sympathetic to Ellie at the end of season 3. She was tricked by a rogue spy, watched her father get murdered and almost lost Chuck too. The notion that she wanted Chuck to quit made perfect sense to me. In fact I think she took some unnecessary heat from the fans.
        Where they lost me was at the end of Coup and her conversation with Chuck. Her need to protect Chuck drifted into being selfish and not recognizing what he wants. Its the same thing Orion and Sarah did that makes them very unlikable.

        The same thing applies to Chuck and Devon though. I understood the need to keep Ellie in the dark until Mary’s loyalty came into question. That was the moment Chuck needed to tell her everything. After the fiasco with Justin, they should know keeping her in the dark puts everyone in danger.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree that Chuck & Sarah’s pledge to each other has nothing to do with Ellie or anyone else.

        For a while I wished Ellie would be a part of the family spy biz, and I still think that would be the ideal, but it depends on Ellie, not on Chuck.

        I have no more sympathy for Ellie on this. After Coup when she herself witnessed his spy abilities, admitted he was good at it, and confessed that it made him come alive … and was still glad he was at the Buymore, in the mediocre job she rode him for years to quit … well, that did it. I thought that after she saw his skills first hand and recognized his value as a spy, she would be proud of him and release him to live his own life. But no, she’s glad he’s given up what makes him come alive and returned to a stifling job he hated, so she can feel good about it. Before she was upset he had settled for the Buymore. Now she has taken it upon herself to settle for him. That is neither genius, nor awesome.

        As far as I’m concerned she is excluded by her own choices and actions. As long as she holds the attitude that Chuck shouldn’t be what he was meant to be and has chosen to be, then she is of necessity excluded from that part of his life … by her choice, not his.

        Until she is willing to release him to make his own life, I’m totally fine with Chuck accepting that she can’t accept his being a spy and keeping her in the dark. That works for me.

      • thinkling says:

        Agree with you, Dave. I would like to see a setting her straight moment … or an Ellie releasing moment. On the other hand, All signs point to her not being very open to it.

      • jason says:

        that is why my spec is morgan gets hurt seriously by volkov, ellie turns to chuck and says, ‘chuck, you and sarah go take that ba$tard down’ – morgan has been growing on me lately, I used to want him dead, now just hospitalized – really 4×1 helped me see how much more I like morgan now than I did then

      • atcdave says:

        That would be one way of bringing it about Jason, and it could be satisfying. My concern would be, I want it to be better than the Ring II when Chuck only gets a temporary approval (“do it, then quit”). I want for Ellie to understand, and ideally approve of, what Chuck is doing with his life.

        We’ve seen that operationally it’s advantageous if Ellie knows what’s going on. But with her current attitude I completely understand why she’s in the dark.

      • amyabn says:

        I’m with Thinkling on this regarding Ellie. She pushed Chuck to be more than a Nerd Herder for years, being reassured by Sarah that Chuck was like a duck and he had a lot going on. This repetitive return to “safety” is rather grating. What is the cost of his physical safety when he is unfulfilled in the slacker role he used to embody?

        At what point does Ellie realize that: a) she can’t keep Chuck safe, b) Sarah will move heaven and earth to keep Chuck safe, c) Chuck is an adult and can make his own choices d) Chuck is happy and fulfilled being a spy or e) all of the above.

        For such an intelligent woman, she certainly is naive when it comes to the world. Her entire family is comprised of spies, her neighbors, etc. Heck, even Morgan Grimes, the boy who took her pillow to the Jr. Prom, is a spy! I think it is high time Ellie got some big girl pants and cut the apron strings for Chuck so she could concentrate on her own child.

      • thinkling says:

        @Amy: Thank yew 🙂

      • Big Kev says:

        I’m still pretty sympathetic towards Ellie on the whole “no spying” thing to be honest. Follow your dream and live your life is great in real life – but the spy profession has cost Ellie her father, has caused her to be in mortal danger in her only brush with it, and requires her brother to have round the clock protection. In Ellie’s eyes, the odds have to be greater than even that Chuck will wind up dead – and how many of us would be so sanguine about letting our brother pursue his dream given those odds and that history?
        I actually thought the slight backtrack in Coup d’Etat was a lot less convincing than the original ultimatum in Ring 2.
        I think Ellie’s acceptance and eventual integration into the family “business” is inevitable but I understand why she’s not there yet.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree with everyone. Ellie is a bit too mothering when it comes to Chuck, but then she was basically his mother for much of his life. As Kev says, having seen her dad killed and Chuck nearly killed and then finding out that her father and mother were both pulled out of her life because of the spy-world, she may well feel she’s given up enough to that world and to the higher calling. But, she needs to cut the apron strings and let Chuck decide without the emotional blackmail. I understand and sympathize, but still think she’s wrong.

      • atcdave says:

        I’m on the same page with you Ernie. I do get why Ellie be less than enthused with the spy world. I just don’t get how she thinks she can tell a 28 year old what to do with his life. I even get that she thinks she’s his mom, but an adult that age shouldn’t be told what to do by parents either. I get that some families are closer than my own experience (my wife is the only person I would involve in a career discussion), but Ellie’s attempt to control Chuck strikes me as creepy weird.

      • JC says:

        The problem is they go too far with characters wanting to protect Chuck. They’ve had Sarah, Ellie and Orion all go down this same path. At first it’s understandable but when they drag it out it comes off selfish and somewhat condescending towards Chuck.

        That’s part of the reason why I was disappointed with Mary’s line about why she suppressed the Intersect. Part of me was hoping she would be the one woman in his life that knew Chuck could be a spy without him having to prove it.

      • atcdave says:

        You’re right about that JC, Orion went way too far. With Sarah it generally doesn’t bother me as much because Chuck will argue back; it’s like they are butting heads as equals, which I think is fine (and Chuck has pulled the same stunt back at her, think of the search for mamaB). So I guess everyone tries to overprotect Chuck, Sarah’s just the only one routinely stands up to (funny since she’s actually the most dangerous of the bunch!).

      • thinkling says:

        It bothers me less with Sarah, too, Dave. Partly b/c of their relationship and also b/c from other guy on, I think she’s willing for him to choose to be a spy, but she doesn’t want him on missions with inadequate training or backup. I don’t think that she would draw the line and say he can’t be a spy. Even intersect-less, she would come around if he’s trained and has her and Casey along for backup.

        I liked her reaction to the 3.0 upload … asking if he’s sure (probably her way of reminding him he doesn’t have to do it for her) and accepting his decision. I thought it was a very strong scene for Chuck, C/S, and TeamB.

      • JC says:

        Most of the time with Sarah I’m fine but occasionally its come off selfish or motherly(creepy I know). Admittedly these moments happened in S3 but FOD had that feel to it and that’s part of the reason why it bothered me so much.

        I think they’re falling into the same trap with Ellie they did with Sarah and Orion last season. They reach a certain point when it makes the character unlikable.

        And let me add I feel the same way about Chuck and Devon when it comes to Ellie. She’s not a child either and at this point she should know the truth about everything.

      • atcdave says:

        I do agree on principle that Ellie should know. But I’d say for now, she’s caused her own problem with her unreasonable attitude. I hope we see a more rational Ellie at some point that Chuck can actual talk to.

      • jason says:

        since the orig arc was 13 eps and show over, I don’t think there are big plans for ellie changing, or you would think it probably would have been revealed in 4×10 – at least I think that would have been a great place to bring her more on the team, even if just emotionally, probably not physically. Really, awesome more layed out opposite groundrules for both ellie and his family in 4×10, one of the few times devon really got serious.

      • JC says:


        I thought Ellie should have been told after the ending of Aisle or First Fight. But now that Volkoff knows about her being in the dark makes zero sense. It seems like everyone forgot what happened with Justin last season.

        And if we get an episode where she gets tricked by Volkoff it’ll make it even worse.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:


        We can fully expect TPTB to rehash old themes and again put Ellie in danger just because she was kept in the dark. Considering how crazy Volkoff acted in 4×10, I fully expect him to show up at the time of Ellie’s delivery with a bouquet of flowers and start calling himself one lucky grand daddy. 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        JC I do agree she should know and it’s operationally advantageous if she does. But Ellie’s created a situation where it would almost take an intervention of sorts to get her to listen, and for now, Chuck lacks the will to fix it. I mean, the show is a comedy, and I can easily picture Ellie simply going ballistic at the start of the discussion. It might make logical sense that if Chuck won’t tell her, Sarah or Casey might sit her down and explain life to her for her own protection. But you know in the show, Ellie won’t find out until the moment of greatest dramatic impact. As Genie observed, i think they will repeat the theme.

      • JC says:

        I’m sure it’ll play out that way, I’m just hoping it doesn’t.

  6. thinkling says:

    … but if Chuck was a brand new show, this episode would actually be a pretty good pilot.

    @Joe: Great thought. S4 … everything old is new again. We have our beloved old “Chuck.” But it’s a new volume with a new direction. Chuck (the would-be hero living in mediocrity) and Sarah (the accomplished agent, the woman in search of her heart) have grown up. He’s the hero and spy he was meant to be. She’s still the agent, but now also the real woman experiencing the love and happiness she deserves. They have helped each other reach their destination, a shared destination as it turns out. That destination is the departure point for the rest of their story. And this is it.

    The Intersect, love, and family … Chuck and Sarah … TeamB and spying are still central. But Chuck & Sarah are together; Ellie’s pregnant; Morgan’s a spy (sort of); and we have an all new spy story.

    So, unlike other season openers, Anniversary is, in a manner of speaking, a pilot.

    • atcdave says:

      Or at least a successful Pilot…

      I think First Date and Pink Slip were meant to be seen in the same way. First Date nicely re-introduces the situation and characters right from the start and was clearly meant for bringing in new viewers. I think it was a great episode, but somehow we never got much rating traction that year. Pink Slip certainly introduced a new direction and tone for the show; one that proved to be quite the failure.

      So perhaps Anniversary can be called a re-launch pilot. It restores much of the mood and fun of the show that most of S3 got away from.

      • joe says:

        Well said, Dave!

        First Date was a great action episode (but with Michael Clark Duncan in it, I’m being redundant)! It sets a great tone for the first half of the season. That part is very much like the action we had in Anniversary. For Chuck being dangled off a 5 story building, substitute Casey and Sarah parachuting off a building. (And yes, I love both scenes!)

        But I think that it’s the character exposition in Anniversary that’s different, and much more like the original pilot.

      • thinkling says:

        First Date was a good catcher-upper and a great episode and did set the tone for the season. But everything with Bartowski’s, C/S, and the plot were the same as before. Pink Slip and the misery arc it torched off, in the minds of TPTB at least, was still part of the original story. Now, with the most significant aspects of the original story accomplished (Chuck becoming a hero and Chuck & Sarah together), s4 is much more like volume II, not just chapter 55. The whole thing works better for me that way. So, I think Anniversary introduces Vol II very nicely.

      • atcdave says:

        Interesting point Thinkling. So perhaps Anniversary is a re-try at a re-launch! Pink Slip didn’t work… So let’s try something else.

      • atcdave says:

        Although I would add, that’s largely how I viewed Honeymooners. The show has been different and better ever since.

      • thinkling says:

        That’s true. Honeymooners was a re-launch of sorts, and an oh so happy one. (Makes me smile every time I think about it.) You can almost see the back of s3 as wrapping up the original story line: C/S together; Chuck a spy; the ring, and thus the last vestige of Fulcrum, finally defeated, along with its much hated poster boy; Stephen/Orion found and lost; the Intersect working. Then in the last moments of the season, we got Orion’s base, the Bartowski spy legacy, and the hunt for mom. It feels fresh and new, but at the same time matured. It’s, um … what’s the word … genius. 😉

      • atcdave says:

        Genius no doubt!

      • JC says:

        First Date works because it felt like it was the second half of S1. The way that shows like BSG, White Collar and Burn Notice do their seasons. I know it was unintentional because of the strike but it worked out in their favor.

        Pink Slip was weighed down by two years worth of baggage and characters that came off unlikable. Had I not been a fan of the show before I would have turned it off.

        The pilot and Anniversary had a similar feel. Both of the episodes first halfs were setups and introductions that were uneven at times. The second parts of both episodes is where it all came together. That’s not a knock on the show most serialized series have these types of problems.

        I really wish the push the show got before season 3 would’ve happened before this season. Enough changes were made to the show that I think it could have hooked some new viewers that didn’t like it before.

      • atcdave says:

        JC I agree 100% about the promotion. Pink Slip and S3 started with very strong ratings, probably because of the excellent publicity. Ratings dropped of drastically. I really do think if Anniversary and S4 had run instead that those ratings would have held up much better and the show would have much better ratings now. Hopefully we’ll see ratings creep up over the Winter, but clearly a golden opportunity was lost.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        It would be interesting to someday know what the thought process was that brought us the S3 misery arc, and how they thought Pink Slip would be a good way to open a season. (It’ll never happen, I know)

        I also agree, with some tweaking 2.01 & 4.01 could be pilot episodes. They’re as good as 1.01.

      • First Timer says:

        Much as I dislike Pink Slip and think it is a creative and emotional failure, it IS excellent, conceptually, as a season-opener and a show reset.

        Where, after all, do we learn that Chuck now WANTS to be a spy? Pink Slip. That Sarah loves Chuck and wants to be with him? Pink Slip. That the Intersect is now more than just an informational tool? Pink Slip.

        As a show reset, it is a complete episode. As a “pilot” for a new show, it is a complete episode.

        The show we have now is the show that began in Pink Slip.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Joseph, we’ll never really know what they were thinking. But I do have a few thoughts, starting with misunderstanding their audience and including not having a good grasp on how the show was being received by their viewers. In a nutshell, I think Schwartz simply applied the formula he is most familiar with without understanding how Chuck was different from Gossip Girl or OC. How the whole staff was brought into that “vision” might be a very interesting story, but I always am intrigued that so many of them left right after the season.

      • atcdave says:

        First Timer, I’d say that makes quite the case study. It is clearly possible to “craft” an “excellent” episode in a paint by numbers sense; but if the result is no fun and alienates viewers I’d still call it a turkey.

      • First Timer says:

        I agree complete with you. Pink Slip is unwatchable from a fan’s point of view. But in terms of doing what the story arc needed, it was effective. Of course, the entire S3 story arc was unwatchable, so Pink Slip was also marvelously predictive there, too… 🙂

        As for Schwartz going with what what he knows, agreed as well. But he did have this real problem: There was no time for nuance.

        Consider that in another thread we were discussing that E10 (Leftovers) this year “locked” in editing just a few days before it aired. Last year, they were literally shooting Other Guy just as Pink Slip aired.

        They went with the story for 13 episodes they went with and it was in the can before they knew what we even thought of the first episode of the season. I am not suggesting for a moment they WOULD have changed anything, but there was never a chance. And when the cupcakes hit the fan after Mask (e7) they were probably already doing the table read for Subway (e18).

        So Season 3 was unique. For a lot of reasons. Almost all of them bad, unfortunately.

  7. First Timer says:

    This is now the best episode of Season 3. Just sayin’:

  8. JC says:

    So looking back at this episode we’re still in the dark about Volkoff’s goals. His arc seems to be just about keeping Mary from reuniting with Chuck and Ellie. Is he just an arms dealer in love or is there something more.

    Some questions and musings.

    Volkoff’s hate of Orion seems very personal. Now it could be because Orion was married to the woman he’s in love with but I get the odd feeling there’s more to it.

    Mary keeps saying she did everything to protect her family. Is that why she took the mission in the first place? Were they targets before she went undercover?

    We know from Orion that he didn’t create the Intersect by himself. Did he have help or funding from Volkoff? Is this how Stephen and Mary met? The CIA sends her in to get close to Stephen and she ends up falling for him.

    • atcdave says:

      Some excellent questions JC, I hope we get answers to them. The only thing I could add is that Volkoff deals in nukes, so at the very least he is a top-of-the line arms dealer. Given that Frost was well aware Carmicheal was the Intersect, I think there’s a good chance Volkoff has had some dealings on that project.

      • JC says:

        Yeah I didn’t mean to imply he was just some random arms dealer but I hope there’s more to the story.

        At one point I was hoping building an Intersect of his own wasn’t going to be part of the arc. But if it ties into the mythology of the show I’m all for it.

        Are we going to have a new speculation post? I have something crazy floating around in my head.

      • atcdave says:

        No one’s allowed to be crazy for a while so no speculating!

        Just kidding. I’ll put one up in a couple days if no one beats me to it.

      • jason says:

        small item, a 4×14 guest star has been cast, might just be a greta, might be a seduction target, a hunky beefcake for sarah or a hot brunette for chuck?

      • JC says:

        Here it is.

        I recently talked to an insider from the set of Chuck. Here’s the exclusive news from my website:

        Leslie-Ann Brandt (from “Spartacus”) will appear in the same episode where we’ll see John Larroquette (alias Roan Montgomery from Chuck 2×02). They both shot their first scene three days ago. Two days ago though, Leslie shoot a scene on the set of CSI.

        Another beautiful woman. Sorry Ladies.

      • alladinsgeni4u says:

        @JC – thanks for the link.

        @jason – she couldn’t be Greta. She has scenes with Roan. So in all probability she is the target of seduction.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:


      You raise some excellent questions. I was reminded of the TD interview before 4×10 aired. He was saying that in the upcoming episodes you will learn more about Volkoff as the story progresses, but he said something to the affect that the episodes would not be linked together. (having a hard time finding the link). My concern is that from 4×11 to 4×13 we only get some disjointed story on Volkoff and his motives
      without the resolution – which may have been pushed to the back 11.

      • JC says:

        I have the same concerns and I really hope they don’t blow it.

        This arc seems like the perfect opportunity to tie together four seasons worth of mythology into something great.

  9. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Anniversary (4.01) | Chuck This

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