Aisle of Terror – Dave & Thinkling Rewatch and Review

So now the main story begins  . . . We’ve established Chuck and Sarah are a committed team. We know MEB is a pretty shadey character, and Volkoff is a powerful and dangerous man, The Awesome’s are expecting, The Buy More is an official CIA substation, and Morgan is living dangerously by dating Casey’s daughter. So here we present Dave and Thinkling’s attempt to discuss a key episode while dealing with all those pesky holiday/family distractions.


Aisle of Terror was a much anticipated episode for quite a while before we actually got to it. Robert Englund as the weekly baddie and Linda Hamilton making her first full episode appearance as MamaB. I think it’s safe to say we were all well pleased with both. The biggest concern going in was if Chuck would play “I’ve got a secret” again with Sarah; this quickly proved to be unfounded, as Chuck is now treating her as a full partner on both a personal and professional level. This is particularly good to see after the frustration many of us felt with this subject in S3.5. Chuck is learning from his mistakes.

The most controversial aspect of this episode would prove to be Sarah going behind Chuck’s back to arrest mom in the final scene. We spent much time here discussing if she had indeed violated her own full disclosure rule or was honoring Chuck’s concern over his blind spot. In the next episode (First Fight), Sarah will say quite succinctly what she was thinking (she was protecting Chuck again, and didn’t want him committing treason by helping his mom elude arrest). I still think, ideally, Sarah should have sent Chuck a simple text message saying something to the effect “mom’s story doesn’t check out, I’ll be there shortly”; but I do sympathize with her concerns, and I just can’t feel too bad about the choice Sarah made.

So what seem to be the two big issues start and end the episode. What we have in between is a fun and exciting story that holds up very well to rewatch. We see Sarah at the start joking about snarfing Chuck’s desert and blaming it on Morgan, a funny joke made even better by the unlikely teller. This a happier, more relaxed Sarah Walker than we saw in the first three seasons. Chuck is different now too. He is a capable agent who knows he can trust his partner. The actual meeting itself is a tense showdown between two of the more important people in Chuck’s life. So much fun to see Sarah and Mary facing off. Chuck knows clearly who to trust.

I’m not a re-cap sort of guy and I’m not going to go over every scene here, but there is so much that is satisfying and fun in this episode. The restaurant scene is such a great surprise and shocker. Is there any doubt Frost is playing a dangerous game? She will try twice to “kill” Chuck to get him off Volkoff’s radar. The nerve agent in question does not strike me as a particularly fearsome weapon, certainly no worse than any number of gas agents that have been in most nation’s arsenals since the First World War. But it does make for a fun, Halloween themed episode. When mom meets Chuck at Buy More loading dock, with a threat and a gun, she could easily win any bad-mom contest. It’s sort of funny and sad how messed up the car ride discussion is. Mom has to be reminded not to point a gun at her son, but she still seems to be a firm believer in tough love. We first see cracks in her tough persona when Chuck informs her Ellie is expecting. This desire to connect with Ellie leads directly to Mary getting busted in the end. So we all know the moral of the story is families will get you in trouble every time (errr, maybe not).

The Buy More sub-plot integrates well with the main plot in this episode. Jeff’s nightmare images only struck me as mildly amusing at first, but when Dr. Wheelwright chases Chuck into the Aisle of Terror it becomes a very funny gag. Recoiling in horror over the baby/snail costume and black licorice was the comic highlight of the episode. The other sub-plot involving Honey Woodcomb was less interesting to me. I enjoyed a couple of the gags; both the canceled hotel room and “babies love dictionaries” made me laugh.

I think I’ll call that enough for my first round of comments. Christmas supper filling the house with wonderful smells is becoming a major distraction. So Thinkling, I look forward to your take on this episode.


My cooking marathon completed, and my stomach filled, twice now, with the caloric goodness of Christmas dinner, I can reflect on my rewatch of Aisle of Terror. For me the episode is a mix, but I give it high marks, because it was the right mix. The really important things were great! My complaints lie with less consequential matters. So, I’ll get the negatives out of the way first.

I rarely notice the technical stuff, but in this episode, I have some issues that become more annoying with each rewatch. There are at several scenes where Chuck & Sarah are looking at each other, and the camera zooms in too far too fast, so we get Zach’s face and Yvonne’s nose. Watching in slow motion reveals what we missed … some meaningful C/S connections. I found that really irksome. The other is the filming of the diffusing scene in Castle. The whole scene is partially obscured by some very annoying, out-of-focus bars that distract hugely from what could have been a nice, couple-y scene. Arrgghhh.

The Buymore … meh. I agree that the Buymore plot integrated with the main plot, but I didn’t find it particularly entertaining. I do give them points for creating a reverse fear zone where Wheelwright and Chuck ended up. Oh, and I do wonder what Jeff lost on his deposit. Other than that, my own flagging enthusiasm for the Buymore plus my general lack of interest in terror/horror flicks made the Halloween tie in and the Buymore … meh.

Now for the positive … two things I love about Aisle of Terror. First, the C/S partnership. The seamless teamwork and love and affection continue from Couch Lock, but because the mission is personal, there is an added mood of intimacy. Every C/S scene is laced with it. I don’t mean physical intimacy, of course, but an exclusive, shared-life intimacy. This is not his mission. It is their mission. I do think the mood begins to deflated when Chuck blows off Sarah’s offer to go with him to the meet with Ellie. Then there’s the major mood blow-out with the arrest.

Second, the intrusion of MamaB as the fascinating Mother/Spy. Linda Hamilton is fantastic, giving us the intriguing MamaB. She has great chemistry with the cast, and she is strong and effective in her role without ever detracting from Zach or Yvonne. Chuck & Sarah play very well off of MamaB as individuals and as a couple. The same is true for Timothy Dalton as Tuttle/Volkoff. (Routh was the opposite. He was weak and ineffective in his role and still managed to detract from the principle characters.)

In this season of overlapping arcs and arcs within arcs, nothing is static. TeamB, Bartowski Mythology, the Intersect, and Chuck & Sarah all grow in interaction with each other … and with one newly-added, very unstable element … Grenadium. I’m talking about MamaB!

At the end of Coup, C/S had reached a lovely destination. As Ernie said:

From [Coup d’Etat] on Chuck and Sarah are … all in. Both of them. … Just as the intersect and the Bartowski family mythology are a part of the story, Chuck and Sarah have entered the realm of permanence in the show.

This destination became, as all destinations do, the departure point for the next leg of the journey. As Faith and Dave pointed out, Couch Lock gave us the fruition of all this growth: happy, relaxed, joking Sarah; mature Chuck assuming leadership, planning missions; and their seamless partnership infused with palpable love and affection.

Ahhh … Life Is Good.

Aisle of Terror and Leftovers bookend an action-packed arc, loaded with humor and laden with emotion. It begins during a joyful Bartowski family get-together, with a playful, innocent moment by the fountain. Sarah threatens to eat Chuck’s dessert and blame it on Morgan. I absolutely love this moment. It is pure bliss and hints of something there that wasn’t there before. Well, savor the moment because an earthquake is coming.

MamaB launches a grenade into the peaceful tableau and sets in motion all the dynamics and machinations of the next 5 episodes. The arc ends after a very tense Bartowski family get-together, with a sober moment by the fountain, the former innocence replaced by a more mature love … tried, shaped, and strengthened by experience.

So what dynamics and machinations did MamaB set in motion? Several female dynamics: Mary, the Mother/Spy; the grandmothers to be; Ellie and her increased awareness and unwitting participation in the family biz; and of course Mary/Sarah. There’s also a subtly evolving threesome dynamic with MamaB/Chuck/Sarah. If that’s not enough, MEB touches off the Intersect-less arc, brings Volkoff home to visit … twice, blows up Orion’s base, and raises the stakes in the Bartowski spy game. And she’s not finished, yet. I’m not sure what you think guest stars do exactly … but most of them would consider that a pretty awesome role. And it all starts in Aisle of Terror.


I mostly agree about the Buy More.  As I’ve said before, I think I get from a brand image perspective why it will never go away, but it seems old and tired to me.  Jeff and Lester are profound creeps.  As such, they are occasionally very funny.   I’d forgotten Jeff’s line about the deposit,  that was funny;  but the best part of the Buy More in this episode was fairly long developing, that is Jeff’s disturbed mind being freaked out by the same things that freak out Dr. Wheelwright.  So is a very good punch line worth such a long build up?  I’ll cautiously say yes.  In general I would like to see less Buy More,  I think they could have cut out Jeff and Lester’s gaming time, we get that they are truly bizarre without the weekly update.  I think the build up to capturing Dr. Wheelwright with the “Aisle of Terror” would have played just as effectively without as much prologue.

I strongly agree with your two positives about this episode.  Chuck and Sarah working together is always good news, and it is so satisfying through most of this episode.  Apart from wishing Sarah hadn’t so completely blind-sided Chuck in the end I really have no complaints.

MamaB is an excellent hero/villain.  She is such a strong and commanding character.  Your characterization of her as “grenadium” seems apt.  I hope her story is extended into the back arc, she is a wonderful addition to a show that already has so many colorful characters.  We’re not sure yet if her presence will even be possible after the ultimate demise of Volkoff (meaning we’re not sure if she’ll live through it!), but I hope she will have at least a recurring role for a long time to come.

One thing I have to give Schwedak credit for is their excellent use of guest stars.  Apart from a mostly forgettable S3 (I’ll go out on a limb and say Premier Goya was the only first rate new character of the season) we have seen so many fun and exciting characters.  We know Frost and Volkoff have more episodes ahead, most of us look forward to the return of Carina and Roan too.


I agree, Dave, I look forward to more LH & TD and hope that they both get extensions into the back 11. Then I hope we get a season 5 (and 6 and so on), with LH still a member of the cast. Besides the fact that they are fantastic additions, I want to see some of these dynamics developed further. For now, I’d like to explore them a little, looking at Aisle of Terror in light of all that we now know.

Female Factors

Ellie contrasts the grandmothers-to-be: “It’s ironic. The mother I wish would disappear is here to answer all my questions, and the mother I wish I could talk to is disappeared forever.” What a contrast between these two! Besides the obvious differences, there’s a surprising twist of irony. Because the mother that’s present interacts with her own fantasy of her family, she is as detached from them as the mother who has been absent for 20 years. Mary telegraphs her opinion of Honey as she watches the dictionary exchange in the store. For all her faults, she at least knows that a bear is a better nursery accessory than a dictionary. Was bizarro Honey part of the reason that Mary chose to connect with Ellie? If Honey had bought the bear and been somewhat normal, MamaB might have smiled and walked away.

As for Ellie, herself, it will be interesting to see what they do with her in the back 11/14. So far, she has just found out about her mom being a spy. Later on she unwittingly dabbles in the spy game with the laptop. Is that the end of it?

MamaB — grenadium — explodes onto the scene in Aisle of Terror, destabilizing the new status quo and sending shock waves through the entire arc. Ernie would tell us it’s part of the journey. First of all, Chuck: his confession in Leftovers that his mom just pushes his buttons points to MamaB as the agent of Chuck’s apparent regression in this arc. Chuck’s life-long issues and building doubt about his mom are evident throughout AOT and continue to drive his ups and downs all the way through Leftovers. Sarah is his rock, and not in the “Rye” sense of the word.

While there is a dearth of evidence concerning her spy allegiance, we do have enough evidence to test her mom allegiance. In Aisle of Terror MamaB states that Chuck and Ellie’s safety has always been her primary concern. In a high-speed car ride that begins at gunpoint and ends at a mobile weapons lab (That’s how I have bonding moments with my son, doesn’t every mom?), MamaB tells us her motive and her sentiments about the day she left. Her every act in Anniversary through Leftovers substantiates that hypothesis. Looking back, her love for her family and her mission to protect them are beyond doubt.

The Sarah/Mary dynamic foreshadowed by the Oh, Chuck’s in Anniversary, begins in AOT with a gun showdown and builds to a … gun showdown in Leftovers, when Mary saves Sarah’s life. I predicted after the first watch of AOT that these two might bond, if they ever learned to leave their guns at home. While the latter is just not in their nature, we do see an unlikely bond forming … whether they want it or not. Sarah studies Mary from the first moment they lay eyes draw guns on each other, whereas Mary pays little attention to Sarah in Aisle of Terror. Looking back, I think Mary initially views Sarah as a partner/cover girlfriend. If she knows everything about Carmichael, but nothing about Chuck, this would be her natural assumption. That’s what I hear in the tone of her question, “You’re not going to tell your girlfriend this time?” Mary’s serious scrutiny of Sarah begins in First Fight, so I’ll leave it for now and pick it up again when Joe and I review Leftovers together.

Chuck & Sarah and MamaB

The Three Musketeers they’re not, but by the end of the arc there is a functioning Bartowski threesome … who’d a thunk? MamaB returns to see Chuck. Well, not really. She returns to manipulate him and carry out her mission to get him off Volkoff’s radar. She didn’t count on Sarah. Chuck is not alone. Remember Chuck & Sarah are all in … permanent. If MamaB wants to do a mission with Chuck, she gets Sarah, too … a two-fer. What’s more, MamaB is the outsider, not Sarah. Initially an inconvenience to her plans, Mary learns first how to use them and later how to appreciate them as partners and family.

All of these wonderful things begin in Aisle of Terror. I’ll bequeath them for now to my fellow Chuck This bloggers to explore in their upcoming posts. I’ll be back with Joe to put bows on all of it in Leftovers.

So far in season 4, MamaB is the catalyst for action and fun, mystery and mythology, and relationship drama. As great as the season was the first go round, it has been even better on rewatch because that’s when we see the pathways and patterns. It’s when we go *facepalm* … Ernie was right! Season 4 is GENIUS.

Dave and Thinkling


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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145 Responses to Aisle of Terror – Dave & Thinkling Rewatch and Review

  1. Michael says:


    >> As for Ellie, herself, it will be interesting to see what they do with her in the back 11/14. So far, she has just found out about her mom being a spy. Later on she unwittingly dabbles in the spy game with the laptop. Is that the end of it?

    Well, not so much ‘@’ Thinkling as much as @Ellie. But, Ellie didn’t post. 🙂 That would be cool.

    Could someone tell me what the point is to the Ellie character? Other than trying to get Chuck out of the spy game all the time? I thought it would have been absolutely awesome ( pun intended ) if she had become a part of TeamB for her Intersect insights. She, along with Awesome, seemed to throw the laptop at Chuck from out of the blue, “Here you go, bro! Now leave the spy craft out of our lives.” WOW.

    • thinkling says:

      That’s a good question, Michael. For a long time, everyone wanted Ellie to find out the secret. After she knew, though, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t know. I think the whole quit-the-spy-game demand and discontent with it all was to be able to have someone to keep the secret from.

      I want to like Ellie. I do like her on some levels. But they have made her an increasingly unreasonable character.

      Her new state of cluelessness is worse than the first, because she is the one keeping the secret from herself by her unwillingness for Chuck to be a spy.

      Does that make sense?

      • Michael says:

        >> Her new state of cluelessness is worse than the first, because she is the one keeping the secret from herself by her unwillingness for Chuck to be a spy.

        I never thought it of those terms, but that makes complete sense.

        At the last ComicCon, one of the producers, I forget which, commented on how by the end of S3, everyone knows that Chuck is a spy. Even Jeff. But, he would forget by the next day. While we know now that that isn’t true, the notion was hilarious.

        The Ellie situation has actually become quite tedious, IMHO. Maybe they should have Honey or, as originally planned, Devon come out as a spy. I can see the smoke coming from Ellie’s ears now. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        In the first three seasons, it was funny and seemed right to keep the secret from Ellie, to keep her safe. Now, it just seems sad … and as you say tedious.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t see why Ellie shouldn’t find out. She’s not an idiot. I wish that other characters would stop thinking that she’d have a miscarriage if she had to face the slightest amount of trouble.

    • atcdave says:

      I think the original intent of Ellie was she (and Devon) represented normal in Chuck’s life. But her season long insistence on “protecting” Chuck is silly and annoying. I think, just as TPTB were scared of ending the wt/wt to write an adult relationship; they are now scared of writing a “normal” character who actually knows what all is going on.

      • thinkling says:

        The thing is she can do both. She can know that her brother is a spy (without knowing the details) and still be normal. In fact, she could be more normal, if she knew.

        Admittedly it’s fun to have someone to keep the secret from. But for Ellie that ship has sailed.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Thinkling I agree entirely. Perhaps I was clumsy in making the prior parallel, but it really strikes me as a similar situation. Its like they’re somehow afraid of what will happen if Chuck isn’t keeping secrets from someone (just as before they were afraid of writing an adult relationship). It was a fun device for the first two+ seasons. But the current construction of it serves neither Chuck nor Ellie well.

      • thinkling says:

        You’re right about the parallel. They just don’t want to get very far from their stock devices … like wt/wt and keeping the spy-life a secret.

        But it’s OK to make a new template every now and then. Chuck & Sarah are great as a couple. Ellie would be better if she accepted Chuck’s choice and was part of his real life.

    • joe says:

      Great question Michael.

      I think that Thinkling & Dave have it right. Ellie was Chuck’s point of stability. She was home, she was protector (before Sarah) and kept him grounded. She raised him.

      She also smothered him, which is what all mothers do, to one extent or another. I sort of understand the impatience with the situation now with her, but I also think we’re being too hard on the character at the moment. She’s had to change (and grow) every bit as much as Chuck. That’s the point of her becoming a mother now, in fact.

      It’s time, and the pace is right, I think. It’s just hard to see because Ellie’s been on-screen so little. All it would take is one more conversation with MamaB and I think it would feel like a major transition has occurred for her.

      • luckygirl says:

        I also think it’s worth mentioning that because of the Chuck’s spy life she almost had to leave her career and whole life behind to go on the run. His career is important but so is hers.

    • Faith says:

      Awhile back TPTB were asked what is the heart of the show and they answered: the heart of the show is Chuck and Sarah but Ellie is the soul. Without Ellie the show just really…misses. I bring that up because in my overall rewatch (dating from S1, especially in light of the first fanvid friday video) that Ellie has really been missed.

      Yes she’s become a nag, and yes she’s really…missed overall this season but I think she’s essential. She’s Chuck’s family, and the soul of the show. Plus the fantastic scene between her and MamaB and Sarah just cannot be missed.

      I guess the moral of the story is even genius has its faults. This season the fault lies on the characterization of Ellie (and really in seasons pasts as well). I think they’re not doing her service in plot (no she doesn’t have to be a spy), and in characterization and in a story more focused on family that really shouldn’t be the case.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree, Faith, that they have done Ellie poorly, even sometimes in the past. She stepped all over the nag line even in the first 3 seasons. This season she stepped way over it.

        Before it was about his dead-end life and not living up to his potential. It is this very aspect of her former nagging that makes her current nagging so inconsistent. In concept she is such a wonderful character. In execution they have robbed her of some of her … awesomeness.

      • JC says:

        It seems like they want to keep Ellie and to some certain extent Chuck “normal” The problem is neither one them is and by forcing that it creates some very unlikable moments.

      • thinkling says:

        I think it has less to do with Ellie’s personal degree of normalcy and more to do with the type of life she leads. They want Ellie to lead a normal life … read: not be a spy. She’s a doctor, wife, soon-to-be mother. As such she and Devon are touchstones for TeamB who have to live in the spy world. There’s always the Bartowski dinner table to anchor Chuck & Sarah and Morgan & Casey to something normal. The show needs that, and so does TeamB.

        The opening of Aisle is a great example. The party was a sense of normal for all of them, even though they have to deal with not normal a lot.

        Ellie’s family is entrenched in the spy biz, and she can’t help being touched by it some. However, she can still lead a relatively normal life and provide that shelter of normalcy for everyone else. She can do this even if she knows that Chuck is the head of the country’s best spy team … and the President’s golden boy … the reason they built the Buymore. Or so GB says.

      • patty says:

        I wasn’t upset with Ellie when she first demanded that Chuck quit. Afer all she had just seen her father gunned down and Chuck almost joined him. She wanted him to be safe.

        It was only after Coup d’Etat that I started getting annoyed at her. SHe has begun to get that being a spy is a vital part of Chucks’s life but still expects him to give it up.

        Someone also needs to explain to her that Chuck is never going to be “safe” because he is the Intersect. Even taking it out won’t help since bad guys probably won’t believe him anyway. (Like the Belgian).

        Finally she is open again to manipulation since Volkoff knows about her and is very unstable and dangerous. She thinks that he is MI6. I hope they take the story in a different direction but that seems to be where they may be heading.

      • JC says:


        I agree they want Ellie to be the link to normal life. The problem to me is that means keep her in the dark to the writers. That hurts her character and others in particular Chuck and Devon.

        By writing her clueless to all the obvious hints of Chuck being a spy makes her look stupid. And when other characters don’t tell her it comes off idiotic and patronizing. What happened in the finale last season is proof enough.

      • thinkling says:

        I would like to see her be in the know but out of the biz. She could consult neurologically and they could be TeamB’s doctors, but otherwise, they can lead that normal life with kids. No reason she has to be clueless.

      • thinkling says:

        @Patty, you’re right. Whether Chuck is a spy or not he and the Bartowski family are in a variety of nasty cross-hairs. Bad guys don’t retire and they don’t believe that the Intersect is gone. So, everybody is safer with Chuck as a spy with TeamB.

        Like you I hope they don’t use Ellie again as the family patsy. Maybe with the recent Volkoff visit, somebody will realize that she needs to know what’s going on. It could be the motivation to tell her.

  2. JC says:

    This episode had one of my favorite scenes of the whole series, Chuck and Mary’s conversation after she kidnaps him. Everything about it was fantastic.

    I still have problems about the ending and how it was resolved but I doubt they’ll ever revisit it.

    • joe says:

      Don’t you love the way she says “Do you want to talk about it?” when Chuck mentions that he and Sarah aren’t on speaking terms?

      And I laughed when he says no, then starts right in!

      I rather enjoyed MamaB’s conversation with Morgan, myself!

      • thinkling says:

        I love that exchange, too, Joe. LH does this role to perfection. She is great with Chuck & Sarah, both as individuals and as a couple. How great is that! … and rare.

        On rewatch, I think that’s the moment when MEB realizes that maybe Chuck is telling the truth … that Sarah is his actual girlfriend.

  3. Rick Holy says:

    O.K. Here’s my 2 cents worth. The whole thing with the Buy More “Aisle of Terror” thing – and unfortunately that’s what gave the episode it’s title – was a waste and to put it bluntly, pretty lame and stupid.

    I forget which of ya’ll commented that when they try to “force” too many of the different aspects of “CHUCK” into an episode, that’s when the episode has problems.

    If you can’t use Jeff and Lester decently in an episode, then keep them the heck off of it. And honestly, couldn’t they have come up with some better plot device to “do in” Dr. Freddy Krueger other than the “Aisle of Terror?”

    I think that’s one of the things that has hurt CHUCK in the past when trying to pick up new viewers. There are too many times when the BuyMorons are unnecessarily interjected into what would otherwise be an overall excellent episode.

    I know the Buy More is a big part of the show – but the Buy Morons (esp. Jeff and Lester) don’t have to show up as often – and as AWKWARDLY – as they do.

    It’s one thing to have weird characters that are funny. That adds to the show. But “creepy” doesn’t equate to funny, and therein lies the problem with Jeff & Lester – at least in my opinion. That is where a show like The Office succeeds in integrating “less than normal” characters, and where CHUCK, honestly, doesn’t.

    Just one person’s opinion – but if the next 14 episodes had Jeff and Lester in only 2 or 3 of them, I wouldn’t miss them – AT ALL!! There’s plenty of other ways to put comedy in the CHUCK mix – like more spyjink (and less Buy Moron creepiness).

    • amyabn says:

      I’m with Rick in regards to Jeff and Lester. They went from being just weird and well, unique, to the creepy end of the spectrum. I do take their loyalty to help out Casey in Couch Lock into account, but it seems the writers want to top each other with how creepy they make them each episode. I would much rather have more Ellie!

      To chime in on Ellie, I am getting annoyed with her hand wringing. I can’t understand the genesis of her “your safe, Chuck” mantra. If she really looks at the death of their father, she handed Stephen over to a bad spy. Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and even Morgan are good spies. I think there needs to be a reckoning of sorts, and soon. Ellie needs to see them in action or have Morgan play counselor again to get her to chill out. Or all of the above!

      • atcdave says:

        Morgan would be a funny tool to use. But I really think it needs to come mainly from Chuck, with Sarah’s help (Chuck’s new protector).

      • jason says:

        I’m with rick and amy about jeffster too, but for me, my feelings for them is a grumble not a vomit moment, as long as CS aren’t being placed in gringeworthy spots, jeffster can have their repulsive 5 minute every third week or so, a small price to pay for a great show.

        To chime in over ellie, I think it may be mama who straightens ellie out about chuck, the ‘your father did not want you to see this’, may have been mary’s best way to guarantee her blood line is protected in the future – I think fully funtioning spy chuck may make sense to mary in that regard.

        Although, at the time, mary did not realize that her immediate family also included a ninja warrior princess who would kill to protect awesomette, mama and papa awesome, and her precious little chuck, an added bit of insurance, as well as a grunting, grumpy older brother and a very unlikely hero in dirty uncle morgan.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto Amy. The Buymore has lost its relevance to Chuck and thus to the show. Making it relevant to Morgan, does not make it relevant to Chuck, the titular member of the show. Adding extra layers of creepy to Jeff and Lester hasn’t helped, either. It was relevant before, because it was Chuck’s real life. It is no longer his life. It’s only connection to Chuck is that it is really a CIA base for TeamB. In Anniversary, I thought they were on the right track, but sadly they undid all of that and reset the Buymore. So, now we have the old Buymore trying to be relevant in the new “Chuck” paradigm. It’s not working. The Buymore may have a niche going forward, but they haven’t found it yet.

        Ditto on Ellie, too. But, I like Dave’s idea of it coming from Chuck with Sarah’s help. Chuck needs to man up, and Ellie needs to let him.

        Jason, like your last paragraph, there. 🙂

      • Rick Holy says:

        I’m all in agreement with the Buy More and it having lost it’s relevance. The only possible reason I can see for keeping it is if WB is getting any money for things like Guitar Hero or Call of Duty appearing in the background for extended periods of time.

        You can say that the Buy More provides a “cover” for Chuck, Casey and Morgan. But really, does Morgan NEED a “cover.” He could be an unemployed schlep (yet paid by the CIA) and who would suspect anything.

        And as far as Chuck and Casey and their “covers,” heck Sarah doesn’t even HAVE a cover job anymore!! Yet no one at the Buy More seems to notice.

        If CHUCK does survive to a Season 5, get rid of the Buy More. I’d rather see the “cover jobs” at the underwear store (Underwear, Inc???) next to the Large Mart. Now THAT would provide for some humor.

        Honestly, if we ARE going to survive to a fifth season, I think they’re going to have to cut costs even more – and you could do that by jettisoning the Buy More and the cast associated with it(sorry guys, but you’ve had 4 years of what will probably be only a 5 year show run).

        Let the humor revolve around the “spy jinx.” Chuck may have abilities, but he’s still lacking in many areas of what it is to be a spy – and of course Morgan provides plenty of fodder there.

        Hopefully in episode 24 of this 4th season they’ll not only “blow up” the Buy More, they’ll INCINERATE it! (Didn’t Volkoff have one of those nifty thermal bombs that goes up to 4,000 degrees F and boils metal? That would be PERFECT!).

      • atcdave says:

        I think its safe to say all of us would prefer no more Buy More. But the vast majority of casual viewers I’ve talked to feel differently. Its a signature part of the show, its the first thing they think of when they think Chuck, and its the thing they will bring up and discuss in the workplace.
        We are not like the casual viewers, but I think a majority of the audience is. And the set is paid for, and an easy venue for product placement. I think it’s unlikely the Buy More will ever go away. The best we can hope for is reduced screen time.

      • thinkling says:

        @Rick: Good one. Let Volkoff incinerate the Buymore. I’m with you, but I think Dave is right. Buymore is a permanent fixture in the Chuckverse.

        Sarah doesn’t need a cover and doesn’t need to surveil Chuck like before. Ellie knows she’s a spy, so she can just be. She can come and go at the Buymore because she’s Chuck’s girlfriend.

        Casey would have no way to explain his presence if he didn’t work there.

        Now, here’s the overlap with the two discussions here. Part of the justification for the Buymore is that it’s Chuck’s cover for Ellie. If Ellie knew about Chuck being back in the CIA, nobody would have to work at the Buymore.

        Of course now the Buymore is a CIA base, so they have to find a relevant niche, one that’s truly funny and not just creepy.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        They needed to leave Dianne at the Buy More as manager with Morgan as Assman and the mixed crew of badass CIA agents and Buy Morons interacting on a regular basis.

        But then Team B couldn’t get away with nearly as much fun stuff like Cubic Z or Phase 3 with Dianne hanging around. I understand why they did it, but Beckman leaving to go back to DC is still my biggest disappointment of season 4. And not just because of the loss of the crazy hot sexual tension between Chuck, Dianne and Morgan.

      • atcdave says:

        ….and Morgan?!

        Ernie needs help. For all those interested, we will be starting an official ChuckThis “get Ernie therapy” fund. Keep watching here for more information in the days ahead…

      • joe says:

        Whew! About time we did something. We’re pretty open minded around here, but some things are just beyond the pale…


      • Ernie Davis says:

        Come on Dave, you can’t tell me you didn’t see the crazy hot chemistry between Dianne and Morgan. They were on the verge of setting up another great polygon with Chuck, Dianne’s true love, distracted temporarily with that Walker… woman, Dianne was clearly going to seek solace with Morgan. It’s the twin thing. Since Roan was temporarily absent, Dianne needed a man. Come on, she’s waited four years for Chuck, even if she slipped a time or two with Roan or the gardner, or the pool boy. Or that guy raiding the fridge. The woman has needs!

        So the Alex-Morgan-Dianne triangle intersecting (heh) with the Sarah-Chuck-Dianne triangle by setting up a Chuck-Dianne-Morgan triangle that recalls the Chuck-Sarah-Bryce triangle of seasons one and two, we’re talking epic game changing really, really great angst.

        Chuck and Morgan heat? Dave, that’s just crazy and wrong. … Yep, just wrong. Though if Lester ever comes out of the closet all bets are off.

        In all seriousness I think part of the Jeffster problem IS that there is no longer a viable straight-man at the Buy More. Where Zach managed to be the Buy More straight-man and the spy-world goof-off I don’t think Josh as Morgan pulls that role off nearly as well. Morgan still engages in too much weird Morgan-ish behavior (Strip-Kick self defense anyone?) that prohibits him being seen with the same innate intelligence and competence that Chuck showed in the Buy More world. That competence and intelligence, with his innate Chuck-ness and slightly unmotivated slacker-ish ways allowed Chuck to realistically tolerate the Buy More shenanigans, and those shenanigans didn’t have to be too odd to make the comedic point. In addition the competence and intelligence Chuck showed allowed him to enter the spy world at some level, while still largely remaining an innocent and a novice.

        For Morgan to be the straight-man in the Buy-More you need to buy him as a competent manager, but without Chuck’s who really cares attitude about the Buy More (he never tried to do anything more than keep the place running while he was there) Morgan’s tolerating Jeffster as they are now stretches things a bit, and to seem odd in comparrison to Morgan Jeffster needs to be turned up to 11 on a regular basis.

        I think with a competent manager (Dianne) who needed to tolerate a certain civilian presence for convincing cover even as that presence led to a laxness that cuts against her grain and I think there is the re-birth of the Dianne that barely tolerates and is endlessly frustrated by who she must work with, even while needing to accommodate them at some level. Put Morgan in the middle, clueless as to how to deal with Dianne and being constantly called on to mediate the lesser Jeffster antics and I think it is a better formula for keeping the Buy More both relevant and funny as opposed to creepy.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree about the straight-man Jeffster problem. Great analysis, Ernie. For Morgan to be a believable straight man, Jeff & Lester have to be less serious, more outlandish, which has unfortunately has been written as more creepy. It just doesn’t work. But mostly because the show is not about Morgan.

        So, I still think it’s more complex than just the straight man issue. The Buymore, in its original state, is no longer directly related to Chuck’s life. It once represented the life he was stuck in, as opposed to the one he was meant for. It showcased that whole dynamic of the hero oblivious to the call of destiny. He was always the leader, clearly a cut above everyone in the Buymore, including the manager and assorted assman’s. That’s over and done. Now that Chuck is pursuing his purpose, the Buymore has lost its purpose, one it can never be for Morgan, who is now, in some ways, living above his potential … on Chuck’s coattails. This is normal, because Morgan has always lived on Chuck’s coattails.

        The Buymore has to find a new niche or purpose, and it must relate to Chuck’s new reality. I thought they were defining that purpose in Anniversary with GB as the manager of a CIA substation, built specifically for Operation Bartowski. In Suitcase they scrapped it and reset everything, putting Morgan in Chuck’s place.

        I think your idea of leaving Diane in place as the manager-general out-of-uniform and out of her depth would have been brilliant. Jeffster could have maintained their former, lesser level of creepiness, engaging in their antics of old, and it would still be funny played off the general. Jeff & Lester would constantly be trying to figure her out and what might be going on at the Buymore. GB would be ever perplexed and frustrated by them. Morgan would always be caught in the middle as the assman.

        Chuck’s new level of respect, his numerous meetings with the manager, and his disappearing acts would be more fodder for Jeffster curiosity and investigation. Sarah could have a different job every time they asked (they could be as bizarre as her former spastic colon malady). The Buymore would be a cover for a true CIA operation, with two different worlds living side by side and occasionally colliding or mixing. Jeffster, constantly surrounded by espionage and trying to solve the mystery, would always be two steps behind discovering the truth. They could be unwittingly used by Chuck for spy stuff. The Buymore wouldn’t have the same personal connection with Chuck, but it would at least tie into his new reality … the central CIA agent of Operation Bartowski.

        You made the point that Diane’s presence would interfere with certain plots, like Phase 3. She could be conveniently absent at certain times. At other times working around her would be part of the challenge. GBTV is a signature of the show as much as the Buymore, so they won’t get rid of that altogether. But when and how the general would appear could be part of the fun.

      • Faith says:

        I think they’re working on making Casey their straight man. What could be more odd-couply.

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks Ernie for giving me a huge laugh when I’m recovering from Bronchitis! (as in laughter leads to coughing…. ahh, it was worth it!)

        Some great analysis Ernie and Thinkling. Wouldn’t it be great if TPTB were reading this blog?! I think part of the problem is they have to make the decision to invest some story telling effort in the setting, instead of just using it for the gag of the week. They need to really develop “normal” in Chuck’s world. So we can see the two groups working together at the Buy More, let us see if Morgan is actually competent or simply delegates to Big Mike, Chuck and Casey, tell us what Greta actually does (some sort of liaison role I imagine). We’ve gotten glimpses of Lester actually being a competent computer tech, is that actually enough to keep him employed?
        I think this is all too dry and uninteresting to most viewers to ever receive much attention. But I do think we would all feel better about Buy More if it simply made more sense.

      • treecrab says:

        Er, um, you guys remember that Beckman is the supposed Director of the NSA, right? Having the head of the NSA spending her days managing an electronics store in Burbank would stretch the bounds of absurdity far beyond the breaking point, even for this show.

        I mean, honestly, I’d probably never be able to take her character seriously ever again if that happened.

      • atcdave says:

        Do we know she’s really the head of the NSA? Or just the head of the Intersect project. I wouldn’t think the head of the NSA would be a lowly Brigadier General.

      • JC says:

        Turning the BuyMore into a CIA base in principal sounds great the problem nothing has changed. Other than Cubic Z Greta and the other CIA agents always seem to be on an extended coffee break when something bad happens. Why waste Summer Glau in a episode where she does nothing instead of having her work with Morgan in Leftovers.

        I also think they want it around to keep Chuck “normal” the problem is he’s not normal. He’s a spy but still a working the daily grind, yet he never really works there. It also limits his character growth. Yes it’s a cover but he’s Stanford graduate, he needs a better cover if he’s traveling the world. This would help with Ellie not knowing.

        The same with Big Mike, Jeff and Lester. You don’t need the BuyMore to have them show up. Big Mike’s connection with Morgan is more than enough reason to have him show up. The same with Jeff and Lester even with the BuyMore gone they would never leave Team B alone. In the last two seasons their best appearances have been outside the BuyMore primarily, in Honeymooners and Couch Lock.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah JC, we’ve been kicking that around since the end of S2. An ideal cover would actually prevent Ellie (or anyone else) from snooping around in Chuck’s private business. You’d think someone would be curious about the Stanford graduate who is perfectly happy to work at the Nerd Herd. Running his own software, or even tech support company (taking over Roark was a popular spec summer of 2009) would be a far more logical cover for him.

        But the Buy More is about the Brand that is “Chuck” and its not going anywhere.

      • thinkling says:

        Another very long thread.

        Treecrab: a good point about Diane’s day job. I think her emblem says she’s DNI, Director of National Intelligence, intelligence clearing house that coordinates all the intelligence agencies. But it seems that she has always been in charge of Operation Bartowski … or the Intersect project.

        But you’re right. Having that person in Burbank all the time would be absurd. But I could give it a pass just for the humor of it.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        I realize that I’m a bit late with this post, but…

        “Crazy hot sexual tension between Chuck, Dianne and MORGAN!?”

        Wait a minute, that last one…

        Ernie, you sir, are a BAD person.

        And my decision to stop drinking 25 years ago was obviously premature.


    • armySFC says:

      rick, i agree on the jeff and lester. the way they are used now is just creepy. for me there were too many things that make no sense in the episode as a whole. sarah working on electronics while chuck sits back and watches? then the arrest scene, while i don’t have a problem with sarah turning mama b in, i do have a problem with sarah being there. they had a tach team there why sarah? again no sense.

      michael for me the bigger question is not why is ellies character there but why did they have her get pregnant? if they can’t give her enough screen time now how do they plan to work in a baby.

    • patty says:

      I agree about Jeff and Lester. With the exception of fishing Casey out of the dumpster they have been poorly used this season. (Although I did like that they spent most of Leftovers unconscious!).

      The whole Aisle of Terror idea was badly done. It might have worked for me if they had used Escher type pictures or something instead of the lame stuff they used.

      I wish they had claimed the pictures messed up people habitually “under the influence” of bad drugs instead. As a Special Ed teacher I am sensitive to people constantly making jokes about mentally ill people anyway. I have seen too many kids struggle to make it through a day of middle school to find it funny. “Normal” kids frequently say that people on meds should just kill themselves and make the world a better place right to my kids.

      • thinkling says:

        Escher would have been great! So would the drug angle.

      • Rick Holy says:

        Still have to get back to the “cover” jobs. If Sarah doesn’t need a “cover,” than neither does Morgan. Sarah is Chuck’s girlfriend so she can come and go at the BuyMore as she pleases – well SO CAN MORGAN – he’s not Chuck’s “girl” friend, but he’s his BEST friend. The fact that Ellie and Awesome and “others” know she’s a spy means she doesn’t need a “cover” in regard to them. But what about everyone else? i.e., Jeff, Lester, Big Mike and the other Buy Morons.

        Sarah pops in to the Buy More to talk to Chuck at all different times of day wearing all different types of clothes. So where’s she working?? You would think that even ONE of the morons would pose the question. For two years they saw her in some kind of work get up when she showed up at the BuyMore (either the Wienerlicious outfit – my personal favorite – or the Orange Orange outfit).

        Still just think it’s odd that everyone associated with team Bartowski seems to need a cover – except Sarah. Extremely odd, especially since she’s the girlfriend of such a valuable asset (the Intersect). You would think Beckman would want SOME kind of “cover” for appearance sake. Seems like a plot hole to me. Even if she just claimed to work at a bank (ala Sydney Bristow) that would “cover” it (no pun intended).

        Not trying to beat a horse to death, but if everyone else “needs” a cover – then so does Sarah – and she doesn’t have one.

      • thinkling says:

        Is Morgan’s CIA status tied to his Buymore manager gig? I’m pretty sure GB gave him that as part of his CIA job … since it’s a CIA base and needs to look like a Buymore.

        It bothered me for a while that Sarah had no cover. But it doesn’t any more. Jeff and Lester are so impressed by her other attributes that it probably doesn’t occur to them to wonder where she works. They’re still trying to figure out how Chuck got her. All he has to say is she found another job. Besides, she hardly ever pops in on the Buymore anymore. At least I can’t remember very many times.

        I admit her lack of cover is a bit odd, but there’s too much to love about s4 to worry about it. Plus she gets to wear normal clothes … like a real person. I may be alone, but I wasn’t a fan of the outfits. I loved her entrance into the Buymore in FOD as a real person, rather than her cover-self.

        Oh well, Sarah’s cover (or lack of) is a plot hole I can live with. But the Buymore is becoming harder to live with. I confess I mostly skip the Buymore stuff on rewatches. Unless of course I’m doing a post like this one ;). I rewatched every minute for the post, Dave … honest, I did.

      • atcdave says:

        Even in the first three seasons I always figured Sarah was explained as having family money or something, I mean how else does the food service peon drive a Porsche? So her sudden lack of cover job doesn’t need to present a big problem.
        Thinkling I do believe Sarah’s previous work outfits were engineered to appeal to the male demographic, so your lack of appreciation is hardly surprising! (and I believe you about watching every bit of it, really).
        By that same measure, Morgan does still need a cover job simply because everyone knows he needs to work to support himself. And I too was under the impression managing the Buy More WAS his CIA job. It makes him a sort of station chief, but I would say only of the front business; Casey and/or Sarah are presumably in charge of Castle.

      • thinkling says:

        Sounds reasonable, Dave

      • joe says:

        @Ernie – that really is brilliant analysis Re: Morgan & The Buy More.

        My take is just a little different. Morgan is very green as a manager. He’s good, but green. Having Big Mike around and watching those interactions has been great.

        And I really like the scene when Morgan showed the General that he knew what the Buy More was about. He’s not just a useless slacker anymore, and he showed that he actually belongs there in the Buy More.

        It’s Chuck that doesn’t belong there any more, and he hasn’t for quite a while. For him, the store has been pretty much just an entrance to Castle.

        Except for the air ducts. They’ve been surprisingly important in S4.

      • thinkling says:

        Joe: It’s Chuck that doesn’t belong there any more, and he hasn’t for quite a while. For him, the store has been pretty much just an entrance to Castle.

        That’s precisely why the Buymore has completely lost its relevance. In the Chuckverse, anything irrelevant to Chuck is irrelevant to the show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I think that making the Buy More a CIA base above Castle WAS their attempt to make it a art of Chuck’s new life, but by removing any significant CIA presence outside Team B and the occasional Gretta or a few extras in the background in Castle, it just doesn’t sell as necessary for Chuck. It was also the perfect vehicle for making Morgan’s continued involvement a bit more believable. As it is the Buy More seems to have regressed to just a retail store, with some cool slides, trap doors, mini-guns and ventilation ducts.

      • JC says:

        Having Chuck at the BuyMore and keeping Ellie in the dark doesn’t work either. You have to wonder why she hasn’t questioned Team B’s long absences.

      • thinkling says:

        I wonder that all the time, JC. Maybe we are over thinking things. Would we do that?! 😉

  4. Faith says:

    Dave: the most controversial aspect of this episode would prove to be Sarah going behind Chuck’s back to arrest mom in the final scene.

    As one that had a LOTTT to say about that, on rewatch I was less conflicted and far more understanding about it all. My original stand remains: it’s a betrayal of trust, particularly one from someone who is “a spy,” and really struggling with it. But like I said lol..after so many rewatches it’s acceptable to me now. I guess it’s conflict and conflict has to come in somehow or there is no story.

    I’m not a re-cap sort of guy and I’m not going to go over every scene here, but there is so much that is satisfying and fun in this episode.

    I was thinking about this. I’ve been entertaining myself reading recaps of all my shows from episodes past over the winter break and it’s actually really fun to read what happened as opposed to just seeing it. I’d be interested in knowing what the Chuckthisblog community would think about us having one. I would volunteer to do it of course since I imagine it’s a lot of work and I brought it up lol. Anyways, just a thought. Obviously there’s a difference between recap and review and this is mainly recap. Our reviews are set in stone and fantastic if I do say so myself.

    The reviews in the comments are also pure gold!

    Thinkling: I rarely notice the technical stuff, but in this episode, I have some issues that become more annoying with each rematch.

    I had the same problems Thinkling! In fact I had to take a pause and ask who directed this episode (thinking it was inexperience on ZL’s part) but apparently it’s a guy that directed some heavy shows so that’s not it. Meh, it was just one of those things I guess.

    From [Coup d’Etat] on (snip…)Couch Lock gave us the fruition of all this growth

    Among the genius of S4 I’m coming to see is the attention to continuity. Sure we get lapses here and there but I don’t think we have ever had episodes that are so closely tied together in the last 4 seasons, without seeming like a “Lost” like show. There’s an attention to detail and plot points that just continues and builds and improves. It’s amazing. I’m a big fan of continuity, even subtle ones in so this is really lovely to me.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      Aisle of Terror – Rewatch and Review

      I don’t know if it is genius or not, but I think 4th season Chuck (like 1st and 2nd seasons) is just about the best escapist entertainment on television. I can watch any show this season over again, and still enjoy the comedy, romance, action and drama that is mixed just the way I like it. I agree with both of you regarding Linda Hamilton: LH is doing a great job as Mary Bartowski and this episode effectively moved the Mother Hunt back into the foreground. And I think Dave is right about the use of guest stars this season as opposed to 3rd season, they’ve added a lot to the show. Actually, I can’t say that anything about this ep really bothered me, not even the Buy Morons (must be my low sense of humor). I will have to rewatch again and pay attention to the Ellie-Honey-Mary dynamics though, as I seemed to have missed some of that.

      As always, it was the flow and interplay of emotions and relationships that pulled me in and along. What is amazing to me is just how much the flaming train wreck that was season 3 threatens the relationships that make season 4 possible. Season 3 went out of its way to imply that Sarah and Shaw were lovers, but if they were, then Shaw’s murder of Papa Bartowski blows the whole show out of the water. The heart of the show, the relationship between Chuck and Sarah, becomes impossible, because no one builds a relationship with someone who slept with their father’s murderer. That doesn’t happen. The soul of the show is Ellie, but how would Ellie react if she found out that Sarah was the lover of the man who shot down her father in cold blood right before her eyes? And what about Mary Bartowski? How would the Frost Queen react if she found out that the woman living with her son was the lover of the man who gunned down her husband and the father of her children, and who smiled when he pulled the trigger?

      I realize this is the proverbial dead horse, but what the heck were Schwarz and Fedak thinking?

      I’m a new comer to Chuckthisblog; please accept my compliments. This site is a pleasure to read.

      PS: if anyone has any ideas on how to get people who have stopped watching the show back as fans, I would appreciate some help. I have six friends who gave up on Chuck in season 3, and I’ve run out of ideas. Any suggestions?


      • atcdave says:

        Verkan, welcome to our blog and thanks for your kind words. I agree with most of what you say, although I think you exaggerate the problem of Sarah and Shaw a little (never thought I’d say that! They really messed up the show). By the time Shaw shot papaB he had already tried to kill Sarah too. So she can honestly state Shaw betrayed everyone; herself, Chuck and his family, and the nation he once served. Shaw apparently fooled many people, but in the end he was exposed as a monster, and Sarah was one of the key players in bringing him down. To me, the problem with Shaw was simply how fickle and faithless it made Sarah out to be; she bounced from Chuck to Shaw, back to Chuck. I’m not going to say it happened too quickly, but rather it never should have happened at all; to me there is simply no way to redeem that story.

        Winning old viewers back is a problem. The first thing to consider is why they left. If the show’s mix of action, humor, and fantasy wasn’t to their liking there is probably no point in trying. But if they are among those who were disgusted by the S3 triangle idiocy or overall darker tone, you might have a chance. I would say show them a fun episode from after things got better like Honeymooners or Role Models, or even the excellent two part S3 finale. All of these episodes are available on disc and via iTunes, so they should be easy to find; and no commercials means they’re easy to sit through in about 43 minutes. I have won back a majority of the viewers I know who quit during S3 so it certainly can be done. Good luck!

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, Verkan, welcome.

        I can watch any show this season over again, and still enjoy the comedy, romance, action and drama that is mixed just the way I like it.

        Me too!!

      • JC says:


        After the finale aired some similar thoughts came out and I can’t deny they aren’t valid. We’ve talked about it here that a lot of issues with the show are what fans see doesn’t always gel with the intention. And sometimes I don’t think they take into account how certain things will play down the line.

        When it comes to fans I doubt there’s much they can do. People who stopped watching for whatever reason are hard to win back and gaining new viewers during a fourth season doesn’t happen often. Maybe if the show had the same push this season as S3 but I doubt NBC would shell out the money again.

      • jason says:

        verkan – I forgot to respond to you when I read earlier, I got one pair of chuck fan’s back, who quit after S3 1st night … we made a trade, I started watching a show they liked and they started chuck again – it worked, they still watch

      • atcdave says:

        That’s great news Jason. I really think a lot of people who liked the show in S1 and S2 can be brought back, the trick is getting them past the misery arc.

      • jason says:

        dave – ‘even great, long running shows have a bad arc or two, just get thru it or skip it’, suprisingly, not advice I gave about S3 chuck, but advice I was given about S2 of Friday Night Lights

      • jason says:

        I suppose the same could be said of S1 of undercovers, except the part about great or long running – am I the only regular here who has watched all 11 of them – I sort of like it – I’ll bet the name ‘Shaw’ was used 6-12 times in 1×11, if you didn’t know better, you’d think they honestly were intentionally messing with the chuck writers / fans when doing their scripts – the leading lady’s name is “sam’ for example

      • atcdave says:

        From the time that show was first being discussed I was sure it was aimed square at Chuck. Specifically, delivering the sort of show we were all saying we wanted Chuck to be. Too bad for them, Chuck became what we hoped for, and Undercovers didn’t.

      • JC says:

        I have to admit I laughed every time I heard them mention Shaw and Sam.

        Undercovers could have been great. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is stunning and a great actress. They probably should have teamed her with the guy who played her ex Leo. They had better chemistry than with her husband. The biggest problem was there was no underlying mythology behind it. That to me was a shock considering it was an Abrams show.

    • thinkling says:

      Faith, I’m glad I’m not the only one with complaints about the framing. To me it really stuck out and was so annoying.

      I agree about the continuity, too. Isn’t it grand and indeed lovely! It is unprecedented. I loved the bookends of Aisle and Leftovers, too. A really nice touch.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        I couldn’t agree more in regards to Shaw: the introduction of Hannah and Shaw as love interests after what happened at the end of season 2 was unnecessary, pointless and destructive. And the thing is, I’ve heard that the show runners meant Season 3 as a reward for the fans for everything they did to bring the show back.

        Thank you all for the advice, especially your idea, Jason; that one I haven’t tried yet. I’ll let you know how it works out.

        Everything else has failed: joking about it, placing bets, bribing people with food (pizza and popcorn), drinking during the show (it was guys only and don’t ask). I gave one couple the season 3 dvds and they returned them, unopened. I did try showing some of my friends the fun episodes; Honeymooners and the Tooth made a great impression, but when we tried to watch the two part finale, everything went pear shaped. First, there was Sarah’s bizarre reaction to her first sight of Shaw after Paris (Oh my God…DANIEL!!!) and then Shaw killing Stephen Bartowski in cold blood in front of his children. I had missed the implications of that the first time around, but both of the women present caught it right away and went ballistic. Folks, being locked in a room with two female Chuck fans in a white-hot rage is NOT fun…and weren’t their husbands happy with me when the evening was over. Not.

        I had pretty much given up until the positive buzz about Phase Three started to circulate. My friends showed some interest at that, so maybe it isn’t hopeless after all. But whatever I do, it will be Shawless. That seems to be how Season Four deals with it; I don’t believe Shaw’s name has been mentioned even once this season. Works for me.

        Thank you again.

      • atcdave says:

        You’re right about Shaw’s name. There are issues I sort of wish they would address, but then I think about it; and I think it’s best to just never mention him again.

        I have only bought one set of S3 discs for myself. I really only want to watch the last six episodes ever again, and I’m not even going try to gift it. S1 and S2 make excellent gifts; but unless you want to give only the last two discs from the set it’s too hard to explain “start with episode 14!”

      • Faith says:

        Verkan, I’m late in replying so apologies.

        – As Joe is fond of saying, this site is only as good as its readers so thank you for the compliments! You deserve some just as much as we do.

        – “best escapist entertainment”: Is perfect. I like that, really like that. Chuck at its best feels good and there really isn’t a lot out there like it.

        – How to get back old viewers? I’d say the best way would be to tell them there’s new management at the helm. While we can’t outright say that (it’s still a JS, CF show) it seems to me there’s a different tone with the new writers and if this photo* was any indication, it’s become more of a CF show than a Josh Schwartz show. JS has yet to write an episode this season while the torch for story editors have been passed on to the team of Rafe Judkins and Lauren Lefranc. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is debatable but they don’t have to know that lol. I say that because by most accounts, dating back from season 1, it was CF who wanted Chuck to be more of a drama and JS that wanted the dramedy…but that’s another topic.

        *credit Sarge for the find.

        I’m of mind that whatever you may fix by bringing up the past, will be undone by the disgust and overall bad feelings bringing it up would bring…so I guess my view is let sleeping dogs lie. Think of it this way, the Tiffany earrings were meant to be funny, just plain humorous, but we’re so sensitized (and rightly so) that it missed its mark (for some of us).

      • jason says:

        @verkan – I did not like how papa B’s death played out, I wanted a lesson to be learned from it and a more heroic death – here is my fanfic:

        Ellie is kidnapped as result of Team B not telling her the truth.

        Shaw asks for a swap, Orion for Ellie. Team B agrees, only Orion and Casey have a side mission secret from chuck and sarah who think the mission is to rescue ellie.

        As the 4 drive up, sarah, chuck, casey, and orion, some swanky Orion device locks sarah and chuck down, orion says something dramatic to chuck like “you and your sister have to trust each other from now on, you can never have secrets again, I love you son.’ – then he says, ‘John, you know what to do’, Orion then radio’s shaw and says he is ready, he turns and says ‘aces, charles’

        Ellie and Orion are swapped, Casey waits until orion gets to shaw and ellie gets to him to release chuck and sarah, Orion goes to his knees and shaw executes Orion.

        this is a bit of a rip off of a denzel washington movie, but I think not so much that it could not be done.

        If this played out in or near the warehouse that the regeneration lab existed, one could even further fanfic that Casey and Orion had figured out how to get Orion’s body to the chamber without anyone knowing (afterall, Orion is smarter than everyone else), but that is a different fanfic moment.

        Have a great holiday weekend.

      • Faith says:

        As I type that a new spoiler comes on to the waves: Chris Fedak EW spoilers.

        most notable? Sarah Walker back story.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Faith – thanks for the spoiler link.

        Well, CF didn’t give away anything major. But something’s better than nothing. 🙂

      • joe says:

        @Genie Nothing major? Well, maybe not. But he’s made me a bit nervous about my “proposal on the 17th” prediction.

        I council myself once again – “Patience, patience.”

      • thinkling says:

        Joe, I had the same sinking feeling about the proposal. I can be patient up to a point; but eventually it becomes dishonest story telling to keep putting it off, especially after episodes 2,3,4, and 9. I hope TPTB have learned their lesson better than that.

      • jason says:

        what have I been telling you gals and guys, given my shipper mantra, I hope I am wrong, but I think it will be delayed, the big question is to when, to mid season 4 or all the way to the end?

        I would think there would have to be a mighty good technical reason like sweeps or because the wedding is planned for 4×24 to put it in the middle of season 4’s back 11, otherwise, I would think it will come at the end of the season … remember, the same showrunner who did season 3’s story is doing season 4’s story, this is not a story about a pair of happy people on spy missions, it is a story of an anguished romance by a pair of people who just happen to be spies.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Joe- Hey, I noticed the proposal answer too and I agree with Thinkling – it left me with a negative vibe. If they have indeed pushed it to the back 11, I would be okay if they completely forget it for now and come back to it later – I can rationalize it to mean that Chuck is planning something special and that is taking up the time. But if they manufacture another reason/situation that involves C/S having second thoughts etc.etc – then that to me would be dishonest angst- given what happened in 2,3,4 and 9.

      • Faith says:

        On the contrary, I think ^that spoiler and the idea of “not what you think” puts it at the next episode.

        I think most people would think 4.13 or 4.24 but the not what you think to me puts it in a surprising category and surprising is a filler type episode. Filler is obviously not going to be 4.12, 4.13 or 4.23, 4.24. My money is now on next or 4.14.

      • Michael says:


        >> Joe, I had the same sinking feeling about the proposal. I can be patient up to a point

        What’s the rush? Everyone, from the viewers to the characters, including Chuck and Sarah themselves, knows he is going to ask. And we already know her answer. Maybe its me, or the Sarah part of me, that wants him to slow down, take a deep breath, get rid of the Lamborghini and wait for a quiet moment when we’re alone and someone hasn’t been kidnapped, beaten or shot for an hour or two.

        But, we are talking Chuck ( the show ) here, so that isn’t likely to happen for a while.

      • atcdave says:

        I briefly had a sinking feeling, but quickly saw it like Faith. 4.13 or 4.24 may be what most viewers would think, so they may be pulling a “fast one” with 4.11.

        That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until Jan.17th!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        My just for fun speculation is that Sarah, knowing that it is coming, decides to show Chuck she REALLY means it when she says she wants to marry him by asking him first. But then it’s not like Sarah to spoil Chuck’s fun, especially when he said there was magic coming her way. But still I could see it either coming right away in 4.11, or I could see it as the new will they won’t they.

        Both know they want it and that it’s coming, but they are continually interrupted by circumstances to the point where Chuck is despondent and Sarah is practically back to a Phase 3 murderous rage at people who keep getting in the way (keep your head down Morgn!).

        At that point I could see it playing out like First Fight, where Sarah’s impatience and Chuck’s frustration makes it come out all wrong, only to be fixed with a signature shipper moment later.

      • JC says:

        Can’t say I’m surprised that the proposal would be pushed back. Lets be honest they know the C/S relationship is the main story so that would be the climax of the season unless they plan on marrying them off in back eleven. My guess it happens in 4.23 and the finale finishes up the spy story with a hook for a possible S5.

        The part that made me shudder a little “will deepen the mystery about Sarah and how she became who she is”.

      • herder says:

        The “not what you think” part means likely not 4.13. Ever since the back eleven order, my money has been on a Valentines day proposal, that would make it 4.15. Romantic episode, sweeps month, what more could they ask for? Oh yeah, I was kind of worried that Dave’s head might explode, but he seems to be handeling it well.

      • atcdave says:

        Hey I’m okay if they drag it out. I think its getting a little tiresome and I think they need to do it already, but at least things are in a good place. I could watch the show as is for quite some time.

      • Faith says:

        I’m actually more worried about Ernie’s head exploding. As soon as Chuck and Sarah get engaged, it’s over for Diane. Who will console her in her heartbreak? “Hellooo Diane,” Roan?

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Faith – So, if there is any unwarranted delay in the C/S engagement, should we blame the raucous ‘Duck’ shippers for influencing TPTB’s decision making? 🙂

        @JC The part that made me shudder a little “will deepen the mystery about Sarah and how she became who she is”.

        My opinion – it wont deepen as much as it will become more ambiguous. In all probability the back story could be the Cat Squad episode., although one featuring Jack Burton would be great.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sure, blame the Duck shippers… They always blame the Duck shippers…

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Ernie – Tis the Season 🙂 Don’t you think the C/S shippers have taken too much of the blame from the past 3 years. I say it’s time to be generous and pass the blame to Duck shippers.

      • JC says:


        Yeah I was thinking the same thing, Cat Squad would be the backstory episode. Should be interesting how they fit that in, since she’s only been a “real spy” for five years. Three of them with Chuck, those other two must have been very busy. Partnering with Bryce, wildcard enforcer, Cat Squad and all the other missions. 😉

      • herder says:

        A quick bit of a scene I’d like to see, the baby Awesome is born, Awesome hands out cigars, the men are sitting around. Casey puffing on his and looking disgusted at the feeble efforts of Chuck, Morgan and Awesome, in comes Sarah, takes Chuck’s and puffs like a pro. Too emasculating?

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC – three of them with Chuck, those other two must have been very busy. Partnering with Bryce, wildcard enforcer, Cat Squad and all the other missions. 😉

        It would be very easy. Did they ever hint that she was with Bryce as his partner continuously? I don’t think so. Maybe she went on other missions too from 2005-07 – like for example some missions with the Cat Squad. There – it’s all fixed now. 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @herder n comes Sarah, takes Chuck’s and puffs like a pro. Too emasculating?

        Am I the only one seeing the possibility of a double entendre in such a situation.? If so, I need help. 🙂

      • JC says:


        Did I detect some sarcasm in that reply? 🙂

        Actually I hoping the episode shows Sarah and Carina’s first meeting. The Cat Squad mission was her first as a “real spy” but it failed. So the villain is hunting down the members and that’s the reason they reunite.

        Bonus points if one of the other two members makes a play for Chuck. Instead of them questioning why Sarah is dating him.

      • joe says:

        Faith: On the contrary, I think ^that spoiler and the idea of “not what you think” puts it at the next episode.

        I’m clinging to that idea too, Faith. It certainly is still a possibility. And given the show’s history of doing such things a bit earlier and with a lot less fanfare than I would have expected, it’s still my favored interpretation.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        We’ve already seen she can drink with the guys in Phase 3; why not be able to smoke with them too. Oh, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but my guess is that Morgan would have to filter… If Jeffster is there all bets are off.

      • herder says:

        Jeffster’s most outrageous song yet, Paul Anka’s “Having my Baby”, can’t think of anything more disturbing than either of them reproducing. A Moroccan Army of Women, maybe we see a Casey and Morgan seduction, Roan can’t do it all himself. One look from Sarah and Chuck will know he is to stay in the car.

        @alladinsgenie4u didn’t intend to suggest anything, anymore than I would if I had suggested a train scene with Sarah having a cigar in one hand a snake in the other and the train heading into a tunnel.

      • joe says:

        Too emasculating?

        @herder, @genie – Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @JC – Oops! My jab was at TPTB and their ‘attention to continuity’. Was not being sarcastic to you. 🙂

        The Cat Squad mission was her first as a “real spy” but it failed. So the villain is hunting down the members and that’s the reason they reunite.
        First mission with the Cat Squad that failed. Hmm. After which she was partnered with Bryce What say?. And don’t you think that the Cat Squad’s mission was purely an assassination one (given how TPTB love assassins ahem spies)

        Bonus points if one of the other two members makes a play for Chuck. Instead of them questioning why Sarah is dating him.

        It would be insanely funny if the other two members of the Cat Squad are even worse than Carina in the ‘not so subtle flirting’ dept. Sarah will have a hard time concentrating on the mission. 🙂

      • joe says:

        Jeffster’s most outrageous song yet, Paul Anka’s “Having my Baby”…

        Ahhhhhhh – My ears! MY EARS!!!!

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @joe @herder, @genie – Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 😉

        Hey! It’s a spy show. What something appears to be is not always what it appears to be. 🙂

      • jason says:

        several of the founding fathers of the site are posting on this thread, I tend to like looking back at the year past – for you guys, how did this year on the site (not so much the show, just the site) shape up vs your expectations?

        joe, dave, ernie, amy, think, faith (hope I did not miss anyone) – happy new years and well done, can the coming year top the past one????

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @herder <emA Moroccan Army of Women, maybe we see a Casey and Morgan seduction, Roan can’t do it all himself. One look from Sarah and Chuck will know he is to stay in the car.

        Story of 4×14. Roan Montgomery is put in a difficult position when Sarah vehemently rebuts his idea of taking Chuck on a seduction spree. Enter Casey and Morgan who will have to step up for something that they are most uncomfortable with/inexperienced at 🙂

      • JC says:


        I knew the jab was directed at continuity issues on the show just like mine was. No worries.

        Cat Squad failure which leads her to becoming a wildcard enforcer and then her partnership with Bryce. Might have to squeeze Omaha in there too. Like I said those were an extremely busy two years.

        Assassination and seduction of course, how else will they make Chuck feel insecure. What would be even better is if Chuck had to pose as a couple with one of the other members.

        Lets hope they take advantage of the stunt casting opportunity. Katee Sackoff, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gina Torres, Eliza Dushku.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @JC – Continuing the jab (now that we are clear on who the “jabee” (I made that up) is – Sarah was so busy. No wonder, she immediately loved Burbank and the quaint mission of a handler – as compared to all the exhaustive work she had done before in those two hectic years.

        As for casting of the Cat Squad – my personal choice would be Tabrett Bethell (Legend of Seeker fame) as one of the members. She can act well, is very hot and can kick ass like no other. 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        Maybe Sarah was just a trainee when she worked with the Cat Squad. The Red Test struck me as being awfully recent for someone who was considered the “CIA’s best” back in Helicopter (apparently after only two years of field work). She must have been a prodigy at The Farm. That could mean she got a lot of operational work before she was even fully certified.

        My guess is the timeline will simply be further muddied and make even less sense than it does already!

      • Faith says:

        Happy New Year to you too Jason.

        I would say that the site exceeded expectations. It started out as a safe haven and turned into a metropolis if that makes sense. There have been a lot of tears, jeers, not to mention words (seriously I know just from what I have written as a guest blogger there have been at least several chapters within these hallowed cyber-walls) but through it all what stands out the most is the community. An articulate, introspective, intellectual community—one I’m proud to have been a part of.

      • JC says:


        That’s brilliant,she fell in love with the laid back life of being a handler. That’s why she really didn’t want Chuck to be a spy, no down time for them.

        I never watched Legend of the Seeker but I googled Tabrett Bethell and she is stunning. Plus I could see her as a spy so that would be a good choice. I’m still holding onto my dream of Gellar on Chuck though. Buffy vs Sarah I might faint.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:


        That’s brilliant,she fell in love with the laid back life of being a handler. That’s why she really didn’t want Chuck to be a spy, no down time for them.

        But later on she found that she liked spying with Chuck (Mr and Mrs Charles do make a great time). Nowadays she compensates for the lack of down time by utilizing whatever time they have and in whatever place they get (supply closets come to mind). And if they are apart, there is always sexting to spice things up. 😉

        As for Tabrett Bethell – you should see some of her fight scenes from LoTS and her sultry seductive side too. Too much awesome.

      • joe says:

        how did this year on the site (not so much the show, just the site) shape up vs your expectations?

        Jason, this deserves it’s own thread. Check out below!

        added: Oops. Dave put up a separate post. @Dave, please forgive me, but I just couldn’t resist using that as a vehicle answer Jason too. I tacked onto yours.

      • thinkling says:

        Wow, this is a long thread. I missed a lot.

        Faith, Dave, I hope you’re right about the proposal guess. A lot of people may think Valentines as well. This could quickly slip into a Sicilian debate. I hope they pull a fast one in 4.11.

        Ernie, my sinking feeling was that TPTB would see this as a grand opportunity to do another wt/wt. As long as they don’t undo the loveliness of 2-9, I could hang in for a while. But prolong it too much and I may be to the point of murderous rage. jk.

        Jason, Happy New Year!!

      • mxpw says:

        @genie – You, sir, are my hero for the Tabrett Bethell mention. Oh man, she’s so awesome. I loved her on LotS and she really is gorgeous. Much like JC with his wish for SMG on Chuck, I’ve long held out hope for TB to guest star.

        As for all the continuity gaffes in Sarah’s backstory, well…at least we can take solace in the fact that they’re not as bad as Casey’s. I think. Actually, it’d probably be a real close race as to whose background was screwed up more.

      • Michael says:


        >> … ‘Duck’ shippers …

        What is a ‘Duck’ shippers?

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @ Michael – ‘Duck shippers’ refers to those passionate fans who would like to see Diane Beckman and Chuck hook up. ‘Duck’ is the amalgamation of Diane and Chuck. 🙂

        *@Ernie – being the flag bearer of the ‘Duck’ revolution, I expected more from you – in terms of publicity. The fact that someone has to ask what ‘Duck’ means is in itself a proof that this revolution is doomed to fail. 🙂

      • Ernie Davis says:

        As for the continuity gaffes in Sarah’s backstory I think I need to step in and remind us all of a few things. People are saying Sarah has only been a spy for five years based on I suppose her Red Test. I think that is a mistake. For some reason people equated Chuck’s red test with the normal process of becoming a spy, when in Final Exam Sarah was clearly surprised Chuck was being given his red test as part of the final exam. I think the clear implication, even with a bit of explanation from Shaw and Beckman was that Chuck, being the intersect was on the fast track. They needed to know if he could be the weapon they envisioned.

        It is never established that the red test, or even a final exam are a part of the regular training or requirements for being a spy. In fact at the beginning of Final Exam quite the opposite is established. The course of action is arrived at after numerous meetings in Washington about how to proceed with Chuck. Equating Chuck’s entry into the spy world or his training to any other spy’s, let alone using it as the standard template is a mistake in my opinion, however a lot of people seem to assume it is so.

        Sarah was clearly recruited out of high school and has basically been a spy ever since she became Sarah Walker as opposed to Jenny Burton. It is clearly established in cannon that Sarah spent a year working presidential security and was Bryce’s established partner by 2005. There is also pretty well established history of Sarah working with Carina before that, which it seems will be explored further soon. In none of the history of Sarah or Bryce or Carina or the spy world in general does it say that you can’t be a spy unless you pass your red test.

        The likely explanation, since we are dealing with the elite assassins (as we are reminded Sarah is and was) is that to move to the next level as a spy, the 00-equivilent if you will, you need to kill on orders as opposed to in the line of duty. It is a very different thing to kill in cold blood as opposed to in the defense of yourself or others. Sarah’s red test was clearly set up as just such a situation. Show up here at this time and kill this person.

        So, based on that Sarah having only been a spy for 5 years is not an established part of cannon. She has been an elite assassin for 5 years, or from about 2005 on. Two years before she met Chuck. We can therefore conclude that if she was picked to move up into the elite ranks, she was not only a spy, but a good one for several years before that, putting her into the ranks of field agents some time around when Chuck was kicked out of school.

        Sorry, the red test conclusion is a pet peeve of mine. People make huge assumptions and then call foul based on their assumptions. We have enough to gripe about without making stuff up, don’t we?

        Now as for Casey, holy Moses… he went from Air Force to Marines with the snap of a finger. His backstory is messed up.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        @Genie, well clearly the failure of fans to support Duck hasn’t come from my lack of writing about it! It’s people who just seem to think this is one big running joke I use to lighten the mood on occasion as opposed to the only reason I watch the show.


        Oh and I’m with you on Tabrett Bethell too. I say go for broke and get Bridget Regan too.

      • Michael says:


        >> ‘Duck’ is the amalgamation of Diane and Chuck. 🙂

        ::blink blink::

        ::blink blink::

        MY EYES! MY EYES!

        That’s what I get for doing this on New Year’s eve.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Ernie – thanks for your detailed explanation about Sarah’s life as a spy prior to her Red Test. Food for thought. Hmm

      • JC says:

        I’m going to have to disagree Ernie. Chuck was clearly told he would go back to his old life if he didn’t pass the Red Test. Whether that was an asset or civilian is up in the air nothing about being a spy.

        If the Red Test was to move up in rank or something similar why did Casey know to follow Chuck? When Chuck told him he was a spy and then mentioned the dinner with Sarah he knew what was coming.

        I don’t think we’re assuming anything, the show stated your not a real spy until you pass the Red Test. They might try retcon it away but until then I have to go with what I saw on screen.

      • atcdave says:

        Among the continuity errors of the show is that I see merit in Ernie and JC’s comments.
        First, thank you Ernie. That makes a lot of sense and it it certainly solves many of the timing issues that have frustrated me. I think it is most helpful to look at things as you say.
        Unfortunately, I think JC hit the nail on the head as far as interpretting what we’ve actually seen on screen.
        My suspicion is that the various writers have different ideas about how all this works. One writer may be thinking the Red Test is every spy’s final exam; while another is thinking it’s more like winning a green beret. This is likely another of those sloppy continuity issues that drive those of us who are paying attention nuts. It seriously makes no sense for Sarah to have only had two years of field experience prior to the start of the show; I would think she would have been in the field the whole time Chuck was wallowing at Buy More, possibly more if she was semi-operational during her training.

      • JC says:

        I’d put more blame on the show runners than the writers. I don’t think when they plot something out they put much thought into how it fits into previous ones or how it might play out down the road. Its more of a this is an awesome idea lets go with it mentality. Unfortunately after four seasons of this, all those continuity errors start piling up.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well JC, I disagree. Surprise. Chuck’s entry into the spy world was in no way normal or standard and that is made clear repeatedly. For one thing (in addition to my points above) Chuck is immediately made a “special agent”, a rank equal to Shaw and superior to both Casey and Sarah (see First Class) and is immediately put in charge of an autonomous team of his choosing. Clearly Chuck was not working his way up through the ranks in anything like a normal manner for a traditional agent.

        You raise a good point with Casey, but Casey suspected something, not necessarily something specific. Also remember that until very recently Casey was involved in Chuck’s training. He knew that Chuck wasn’t on the normal track to be a normal agent. I’d say if anything Sarah is in a bit of denial if she thought Chuck wouldn’t be rushed through training that took normal agents years.

        As for Chuck going back to his old life, you raise the proper point, it is left ambiguous as to what that means, with strong hints that his old life includes handlers and the Buy More from Beckman. True, a bit clumsy, but I think that was done to portray Chuck’s test as a choice he could make, be a spy or don’t, it’s entirely up to him.

        In short, there is no actual exposition that a red test is a standard requirement to becoming a spy and there are numerous statements that strongly indicate that Chuck is a unique case destined to immediately join the ranks of elite spies as opposed to a more traditional path working his way up through the ranks. Based on that I feel Occam’s razor applies. Sarah was a spy for years before her red test, Chuck was pushed into his immediately. That scenario requires very little suspension of disbelief (in relative Chuck terms) where any other scenario requires ignoring a lot of what was presented on the screen.

      • thinkling says:

        I think Ernie’s explanation makes the best sense. Not to belabor the point, but I was never under the impression that Sarah’s spy career began with her red test. Recruited at 18, her training couldn’t have taken 7 years. I assumed that by the time of her red test she was a seasoned agent, and the red test was her first assassination assignment. They wouldn’t take people straight out of the academy and assign them to assassinate someone. There have to be steps, many steps, between cadet and assassin. Hence Sarah’s shock at Chuck’s immediate red test, something she hoped he would be spared altogether or at least until a later time when she wasn’t around to watch. Sarah was equally dismayed and angry that Shaw was pushing him in other areas (Operation Awesome, First Class), indicating that Chuck was on an unusual fast track.

        The Intersect was to be an autonomous spy, with built-in Intel and abilities beyond the average spy. Chuck was always being fast-tracked. It was Shaw’s job to push him through, by any means necessary.** I’m sure the CIA had assassin in mind for this new breed of super-spy. Casey would have known that, because he was in on the training all along.

        **Part of the any means necessary included, IMO, breaking his bond with Sarah. Chuck was Shaw’s mission. Sarah was his mark, and it turned personal. At least that makes all kinds of sense to me.

      • amyabn says:

        I’m weighing in late as usual, but this is how I envisioned Sarah’s recruitment:
        -Recruited by Graham at the end of her HS senior year
        -Started training that summer
        -Off to Harvard (I pick that because it was posted at one point on in her backstory, not sure if that’s right)
        -Training/interning during her summer breaks
        -Graduation from College and full time employment with the CIA.

        This timeline would give her the credibility and time to have all of those experiences. She could have interned one summer with the Secret Service, etc.

        I don’t know how to place the Red Test in that timeline, but do agree that Chuck’s timeline is “special” due to the Intersect. Let’s face it, he hasn’t had much training at all in the traditional sense. His training in Prague was designed around making the Intersect work, not training Chuck himself to have skills outside of it. Hence needing to take self defense strip kick lessons 🙂

        I would like this cleared up with Sarah’s backstory episode. I want to find out that she studied X and finished with honors, she speaks 7 languages, etc. What everyone around her seems to take for granted (except Stephen and Chuck) is that she is special. All of her talents and acumen are hers and earned by her. She doesn’t have an Intersect. It would be nice for that to be acknowledged.

      • joe says:

        The only thing that furrows my brow is the idea the Chuck hasn’t gotten training. I guess I’m not convinced that Chuck’s completely ineffective without the Intersect.

        Haven’t there been scenes where Chuck subdues someone long after he’s flashed? I’m thinking of Justin in Subway when Ellie first sees Chuck lay him out. Or even the scene in Anniversary when Chuck “Karate chops” a baddie, then shakes his hand saying “Ouch! I am so out of spy-shape!”

        The last scene in “Pink Slip” is Chuck training with Casey. I sort of assumed that he’s been training pretty much regular like that. At least, I can accept that as something in the background that we haven’t seen.

        Maybe it’s just ambiguous about how long his skills last after he’s flashed.

      • thinkling says:

        … finished with honors, she speaks 7 languages, etc. What everyone around her seems to take for granted (except Stephen and Chuck) is that she is special. All of her talents and acumen are hers and earned by her. She doesn’t have an Intersect. It would be nice for that to be acknowledged.

        I totally agree with that. Would love for Ellie to know all of that.

        Joe, from one furrowed brow to another … Chuck regularly begins fighting before flashing, that’s why his panics sometimes seem out of place. Logic says that Casey may be training him, but so much that we see doesn’t line up with that.

        I get that the Intersect must be indispensable to Chuck and “Chuck,” but he could at least do as well as Casey’s daughter on his own. Or one would think.

      • JC says:

        I’m not disagreeing that his entry into the spy world wasn’t normal or he wasn’t put on some sort of accelerated training program. But I saw nothing that would indicate Chuck would be some sort of lower level spy if he didn’t pass his Red Test. In fact we were told and shown the opposite (Pink Slip). Since the Red Test is the only requirement we’ve seen it makes sense to me that its standard. No distinction was ever made.

        And when comes to Casey in Final Exam why would he suspect anything when it came to Sarah? The only reason he did is because Chuck said he was a spy and passed his test. Casey knew the Red Test was coming. Why else would he follow Chuck for his date with Sarah and come armed? When did we hear anything that indicated Casey was involved with planning Chuck’s future as a spy? He didn’t make any trips to DC and it was never mentioned.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        I’m sorry I’m late in replying:


        Chuck really is great escapist entertainment, and I think many people don’t appreciate how precious that can be. Times are tough for a lot of people in a lot of ways; having even an hour a week that takes us away from that can mean a great deal.

        I agree with you, and I think it is a good thing if CF has more of a guiding hand than JS. From what I’ve seen and heard, it seems to me that Season 3 was more his project (JS’s) than anyone else. And I see what you mean by bringing up the past: taken together, the Tiffany earrings, the seduction itinerary and Sarah’s reaction the first time she sees Shaw after Paris all serve to undercut the growth and positive developments in episodes 3.13 to 3.16. Episode 3.17 was such a slap in the face to some the Chuck fans that I know, that I wouldn’t use it to try to get anyone back.


        I agree that Orion deserved a more heroic exit, and I think your fiction fits that better.


        Tabrett Bethel? Bridget Regan?

        I’m sorry, what were you saying? I seem to have lost some time there.

        Hope everyone had a great holiday and have a safe New Year.

      • thinkling says:

        JC: “Since the Red Test is the only requirement we’ve seen it makes sense to me that its standard. No distinction was ever made.”

        I see it a little differently. In fact, this whole thought process has cleared some things up for me.

        First, there were lots of requirements before the Red Test, like everything that took place in s3 before the end of final exam. He could have been out at any point. Just because Chuck and Sarah had to do Red Tests does not mean that they are standard, because I think distinctions have been made all along, regarding both of them.

        Nothing about Chuck was normal. We agree on that. In Pink Slip, a special facility was developed just for him … to train him how to control the Intersect to become a super spy (Casey’s words), not just a run-of-the-mill spy, in just six months. Casey and Sarah both knew about the training and what Chuck was supposed to become. Chuck would not just be one of the elite … he would be one of a kind. That was the goal of the Intersect project. The project brass (Subway) weren’t interested in anything less, which is why lower level spy was never an option for Chuck..

        They wanted a one-man weapon … a computerized super-spy/assassin. They wanted the Chuck we saw on Laudanol. Casey knew (Take the pill Chuck. It’ll make you the Intersect you were always meant to be — Tic Tac), and Sarah knew. This is important (kind of a light-bulb moment for me). Casey and Sarah knew what Chuck was supposed to become, but Chuck did not, and neither did we.

        Sarah and Casey are elite, and they were/are assassins. But they advanced to that point. They didn’t start out there. (Hence, Sarah had plenty of time for spy/Secret Service experience before her Red Test.) There are most assuredly lower level spies that are not assassins and never have to pass a Red Test. (To think that all CIA agents are also assassins is absurd.) But that was not the kind of spy Chuck was ever going to be.

        Distinctions have always been made about Sarah and Casey being assassins. Distinctions were made about Chuck. The Intersect is the distinction, and its proper functioning is the key. That’s why he failed Prague, why he was benched in Beard, and why he wasn’t a spy in FOD. If the Intersect stopped working, or if it didn’t produce the kind of spy the project wanted, Chuck would be out. He was in his own special program with only two possible outcomes … success (one-man computerized weapon) or failure (out). I suppose he could then apply through normal channels, but all along his being a spy is inexorably linked to the Intersect.

        Well, the project didn’t meet all expectations, but after Chuck saved everyone’s jobs, he remained a very important, one-of-a-kind spy … still Intersect dependent. After Phase 3, Chuck was finally recognized as an asset to the agency even without the Intersect. So here you have it. He is finally allowed to be a lower level spy without the Intersect and without being an assassin.

        Sorry, I really didn’t mean for this to get so long. 🙂

      • JC says:

        I saw no requirements earlier in S3 it was training at no other point other than Final Exam was Chuck told fail this and you go back to your old life.

        If anything the show has been pretty clear that spy and assassin are one in the same. I don’t like it but that’s the way they’ve taken the story. And while this idea of elite spies and normal ones is nice in theory we’ve seen nothing of that mentioned on screen.

        We can debate this to death but it all comes down to this, nothing on the show is thought out, there’s no grand plan. When we got glimpses of Sarah’s past as a spy the idea of a Red Test didn’t exist. The show can’t even match up the dates of when Chuck’s mom left let alone how a Red Test would change Sarah’s past.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, I doubt there was a grand plan, and I think the red test was an add-on, because it came our of nowhere. The timelines are all messed up and the red test was horribly done. I agree on all that.

        No other requirements in s3? He was sent back to his old life from Prague, and it had nothing to do with a red test. He just couldn’t make it through training. He was benched in Beard, and would not be a spy again until he flashed. No flash-y, no spy-y. He had to pass all the training points of handling an asset, solo mission, etc to even get to the final exam. The red test was the last in a string of things that he had to either accomplish or go back to his old life.

        Once he made it to the red test, that was it. No more training or testing, because he had passed it all. At that moment, his being a spy hinged on the red test. But there were many opportunities along the way to fail and go back to his old life. Prague and Beard being prime examples.

      • jason says:

        this may be the longest single thread yet, thought my computer up button was broke looking for the ‘reply’ – I am not sure Chuck is meant to make sense, either from a timeline or a past episode character or action perspective,

        show is much more fun to watch if just taken an episode at a time, even

        This POV helps with the chuck sarah relationship as much as the timeline issue. So when sarah gives shaw a heartfelt, passionate kiss as Shaw essentially dumps her to go get blown up for revenge for the real love of his life in 3×12. ok Then sarah tells chuck she has loved him for ever – what less than 24 hours later? – Yet, only a few minutes before the shaw sarah moving goodbye kiss, we are told they went on their first date ‘we should have done this before’, yet a few eps later, we are told they went to tiffany’s together, to dinner, and to a couple’s message – at some point, the sarah spy time line which we have never seen on screen pales in comparison to the inconsistency we are shown on screen.

        I think whatever the writers room thinks is clever gets put in … yet none of that ruins the awesomeness of 3×14 or 4×9, unless you let it – I’m going to really work on just enjoying or disapproving each ep as is, and try to look at them more in a vacuum.

      • thinkling says:

        LOL. Thank you, Jason. what a great reminder of the awesomeness of 3×14 and 4×9.

        Sounds like a good new year’s resolution. 😉
        Ignore the inconsistencies; bury s3.0 in some very deep, very inaccessible place; and enjoy one ep at a time in this awesome season.

      • First Timer says:

        I think the one thing you CAN say about season 3 is that the red test was INTEGRAL to the arc. It may have been badly handled (duh!), but you can assuredly assume that it was NOT an “add on.” The season 3 arc is about Chuck becoming his own kind of spy. So his refusing to kill on order would have been crucial to the arc. Moreover, when he does finally kill, it’s to save Sarah.

        So awful, yes. Introduced out of the blue? Yes. But virtually guaranteed to be part of the planning of season’s arc. Chuck refuses to kill to become a spy, but kills to save Sarah.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @thinkling bury s3.0 in some very deep, very inaccessible place

        Hey! No need to bury deep when you have Genie’s Brain Bleach within reach. It’s guaranteed to scrub away the worst. 😉 🙂

      • joe says:

        Happy New Year, First Timer.

        You’re absolutely right about the Red Test, of course. Likewise, Shaw-the-mentor turned bad-guy seems built in from the first. No need to debate which was handled worse, though.

        In both of those cases, the resolution came in S3.5. If that resolution was pushed back because of the 6 episode extension, it’s hard for me to imagine what was added in the first 13 in it’s place. Maybe Nacho Sampler, Beard and Tic Tac, but those are far from being the worse of S3. As much as this will rile people, Mask and Fake Name are integral to those central arcs, I think, and would be there regardless.

      • thinkling says:

        @Genie: thanks for the reminder. How could I have forgotten so quickly.

        FT, I didn’t explain myself well at all. By add-on, I meant that originally, when they were defining Sarah’s character, I don’t think the red test was part of her background … from the beginning of the series. (Maybe it was, but it doesn’t feel like it.) I think her red test was added on (retro-fitted) for the s3 machinations.

        I have no doubt that it was all part of the s3 planning session (where everyone must have been 3 sheets in the wind) when they came up with the s3 arc.

        I also agree entirely that Chuck’s willingness or ability to kill was a key issue from PS on, and as you say was only resolved in OG when he killed to save Sarah, as opposed to killing on orders. Like I said earlier The Intersect project was supposed to produce a one-man weapon … a computerized super-spy/assassin … like the Chuck we saw on Laudanol.

        The red test was integral, because that’s the way we knew what kind of spy they wanted. I get it. But for something integral to the arc, it was so poorly elaborated that by the time we had enough information to “get it,” the arc it was supposed to explain had already blindsided us.

        Thanks, FT. Happy New Year.

      • JC says:

        I see a couple of problems with saying certain things were integral from the start of S3. We know there were rewrites and contracts extended as the season went along. So I’m not convinced that any of the season was thought out at all.

  5. Rick Holy says:

    On a not quite totally unrelated note, check out this list of the 10 Greatest TV Characters of 2010. Someone from CHUCK made the list. Now, before you peak – guess which character it is! If you guess right, give yourself a pat on the back. Here’s the link:

  6. Gringo Chuck Fan says:

    Full Synopsis for Chuck 4.11

    I think that secret missions during secret missions are what Tiggers do best!

  7. joe says:

    We’ve started in on that glorious time of year again, known as “Spoiler Season!”

    We’re pretty loose on spoilers here – mostly we’re pretty good at guessing what these guys are going to do, and we don’t mind discussions, guesses and suppositions.

    But there are people who dislike spoilers, and some who’ve made New Year’s Resolutions to avoid them. So please be considerate and place “real” spoilers as you find them in the Spanking Brand New S4.5 Spoiler Pages on the right, in the “About Box”.

    Not much there yet – we don’t even have episode names, much less directors and writers. But that’s coming.

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Aisle of Terror (4.06) | Chuck This

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