Fear of Death; The Ernie and Faith Face Off Goes Epic

Poor Chuck Can’t Catch A Break

Well Chucksters now we are finally down to it.  We actually have the potential for an actual difference of opinion on an episode of Chuck.  With all the sweetness and light and agreement so far we were starting to wonder if we all shared a common brain.  Not really, we often found different parts of an episode to gush about.  But Fear of Death was a reasonably unpopular episode among the fans.  Mostly it seems because the stupid stick was passed around the CIA once again, and Sarah had to call foul when it was Chuck’s turn to hold it.  But seriously, how can you hate an episode with a shirtless Chuck getting a massage from a lingerie clad Sarah?  We’ll see if it’s possible after the jump.

Ernie leads off

So first things first.  The intersect isn’t working (again) and there are questions about how and if Chuck can be a spy without it (again).  It feels like we’ve been here before.  This time there is a difference.  Chuck and Sarah are together and Chuck is, and enjoys being, a real spy.  It’s Chuck who wants the intersect back and working…Almost as much as Casey and his itchy trigger finger.  While Sarah is off looking for Frost and Volkoff Chuck spends some quality time with the CIA’s finest watching YouTube videos, which oddly doesn’t result in the intersect working again.

After a month of trying to restore the intersect Sarah returns leadless on the Volkoff case to a Chuck who is clearly growing despondent.  He confides in Jeffster?  Has he really fallen so far?  Sarah is there to provide some context.  How bad can things really be when you get to go home with Sarah Walker.  But there is an interesting thing going on between Chuck and Sarah.  Sarah doesn’t seem as anxious to get Chuck back into the field as the rest of the team.  We see that she’s more interested in Chuck her boyfriend than Chuck the intersect and spy.  We’ve always known this to be the case, even if Chuck forgets it every  so often.  Like when he holds the stupid stick.  Still, things are often tough, or complicated, for our favorite couple.  The intersect malfunctioning is just another one of those complications couples need to deal with.  Or maybe not.  But one thing many couples do need to deal with is the outsider.  Enter agent Rye.

Sarah Is Not Amused

We love Chuck and Sarah, and we know they love each other, but their relationship has never been a simple or traditional one.  To an outsider it can look pretty dysfunctional.  They may have only been dating for about a year, but they’ve been together a lot longer.  Season 3 aside Sarah has a long history of protecting Chuck and hating the idea he would put himself at risk and get hurt because of her.  And Chuck has a long history of relying on Sarah as his emotional support and his source of confidence in addition to now being his partner.  They are a team, and when Chuck calls out for Sarah its to warn her, or to get her opinion or her help solving a problem.  We saw this in the early episodes.  They fought for and planned and helped each other.  Now with the intersect gone Chuck is trying to hold up his end, and isn’t sure he can.  Rye pokes at that spot because he misreads the relationship.  It’s what makes Sarah’s rash declaration that Chuck isn’t a spy so painful.  We know there is a part of her that still wants him to be her adorable nerd who helps ballerinas.  Sarah is dealing with both their pasts and a bit of co-dependancy.  Chuck is dealing with repeated blows to his confidence.  He takes on the mission not just to get the intersect back, but to prove to himself he can be a spy.  Sarah’s outburst and Rye’s judgement aside for most of the mission Chuck proves himself to be a good spy.  But without the intersect he’s the last guy you want for a kidnapping and guaranteed fight.  He doesn’t even carry a gun.  It isn’t that Chuck can’t be a spy without the intersect, he just can’t be the kind of spy he wants to be and survive for long.  Sarah knows this.  Chuck does too at some level.  Rye is clueless.  He just sees a guy who counts on his girlfriend to bail him out and a girlfriend who tries to run his life for him.  Dysfunctional.

Faith responds…

Dysfunctional is good. It wasn’t that long ago that Sarah said to Chuck, “we are a real couple, we’re just a different kind of couple” (Sandworm) but how solid of a couple could they be when one measly little conflict such as the threat of returning to Buy More loser-dom and the “emotional rock” could fragment their bond? Although that’s the point right? In the end, it didn’t/couldn’t.

I should clarify, while I am not enthusiastic about this episode I still tried to see the episode as its own entity. Tried to understand the underlying logic (if there is one) about Sarah being the emotional rock holding down the intersect and Chuck once again taking other people’s words (in a desperate attempt to maintain his livelihood/confidence/self-worth) over those of his own team and his own partner (note: partner, not girlfriend). But then again fallacies aren’t exclusive to those two plot points. When an episode’s B plot supersedes it’s A plot you know you have a problem.

So before we tackle the issues head on, let’s rehash the good things:

“Was that a real kiss, or a cover kiss?”

– Loved the call back to Seduction in the early goings. Chuck, down in the doldrums, and a friend/co-worker laments on his good fate, that being Sarah. While it doesn’t quite pack the punch of “Do you believe in love” its enhanced by that fond memory; especially in light of the fact that now he knows it is a real kiss and not a cover kiss.

It is real.

– As mentioned the B plot really worked. Summer Glau gave some much needed attitude to what is largely becoming a cameo role. Her line, “the only question is do you want to die with your wig on or off” still makes me laugh out loud after multiple viewings. Still don’t quite catch half the Firefly homage they claim to have inserted but all in all a fun outing. Jeff and Lester are not usually my cup of tea but in this episode they really worked. If forced to compare, I’d say their effectivity and entertainment value in this episode rivaled Best Friend. But perhaps most notable of the B plot was Casey’s role. It was lovely to see Alex give her dad some much needed human advice. It was saddening to hear him “prepare himself” but being able to acknowledge Alex’s wisdom that it’s better to treasure time with friends and family when one doesn’t know what the future brings, was fantastic. I haven’t always gushed about Alex’s (Mekenna Melvin) role on Chuck but the connection between her and Casey seems to humanize and add a deeper depth to his character, and hers.

– The ending act with Chuck kidnapped, Sarah overwrought, Aushua’s Hiding Place playing in the background is some of Chuck‘s best ending acts. As Sarah walks into their room, glances at their picture, anchor-less, you can really feel her heart break at being apart from Chuck and her resolve to find him at all costs. Then comes the “team” of Casey and Morgan to go with her, proving that she’s not alone, neither of them are (Chuck, Sarah). In a lot of ways it feels like the entire episode was written to build up to this, to bridge the gap between First Fight and Phase Three. Two very strong episodes, two very important plot points but the meat as it were was sour. Still the ending act was one brimming with emotion, high stakes and love. “This is all my fault, he did this to prove to me he could be a spy,”–powerful stuff.

I’m glad you mentioned the B-plot.  This was without a doubt the best use of Greta and the Buy More’s new status to date.  The clueless Jeffster pick the wrong person to stalk, and the culture clash is on.  I had so hoped for more of this kind of use of the Buy More and the Grettas.  Summer Glau didn’t disappoint.

As for what worked less well, I’ll leave that to Faith, who has I’m sure a long list.  But before giving her the last word I wanted to cover a few things.  For the most part I didn’t see the stupid stick as a big problem.  It was a minor annoyance, as they’ve used similar plotlines before.  The Rye character actually worked for me for the most part.  His over the top ebullience and nerdiness was a good character for someone who could tap into a sympathetic part of Chuck and enjoy the thrill of the quest with him, even if the guy seems a bit clueless at times.  It’s never fun to see the dynamics of Team B messed with, but let’s be serious, that’s where most of the drama and much of the comedy lies.  At least this time the annoying interloper Beckman set up as the head of team B was shot and out of the picture after only one episode.  And the Chuck and Sarah dynamic, I know a lot of people hated it, but I thought it was great.  They both still have a little work to do, and I want to see them work it out realistically.  Sarah needs to learn that she’s no longer running Chuck as an asset, in charge of his life and decisions about his safety, and Chuck needs to learn that Sarah does believe in him, she just needs him to understand how important it is to her that he not take needless risks.  As we’ll see Sarah has bet everything on Chuck and it scares her a bit.  He needs to understand that and let her look out for him sometimes.  They’re both all in, but they still need to work out some of their own fears and problems, together.  As Faith said there wasn’t a lot of new ground covered in the A plot, but for me it was enough to see this dynamic that will play such an important part in Phase 3 laid out.

Faith tries to make a pencil out of the stupid stick…

Ernie has a great point, the stupid stick is perhaps the best use of conflict in all medium. Ever watch the Christopher Reeve Superman movies? Superman spends almost 3/4 of the movie doing dumb things in his perhaps misguided belief in humanity but in the end that conflict serves to create a climax and an ending that only Superman movies can bring. But to get back to Chuck, there’s a problem with the logic. Namely, the logic is flawed.

Let me explain. Conflict: Chuck is intersect-less. A daunting task for sure. In fact it’s a solid one. Can Chuck really be a spy without the intersect? Let’s forget for a minute that he has spent 2 of the last 4 years being an asset and not a spy. Let’s forget for a moment the fact that they have never trained him as a spy because of the intersect and just focus on that one conflict: Chuck as a spy without the intersect. There are numerous indications in this episode alone that showed his spy aptitude: loupe, gemology class, bravery in the face of danger (ninja invasion), mission planning/leadership. All well and done. But can he protect himself without Sarah there to step in and take the “big guy.” Better yet, has he really had the opportunity to do so? No, not really. And the premise of the show as it is, if he ever gets to that point Casey in particular becomes a surplus. But Chuck is Chuck, as Casey so aptly phrased it, “but I know he’ll try.” And that’s something that Sarah will have to learn to accept (more on this later). So at its core, the conflict of intersect-less Chuck works.

Conflict: Sarah is the emotional rock holding down the intersect. Really?! Really?! I guess they haven’t been watching the same show we have been for the last 4 years. Sarah is the key to the intersect, she’s the key to Chuck. Not to mention this premise never worked to begin with because the exposition of the suppression of the intersect was missing a few key details and logic. I quote, “the intersect is a collection of memories, a suppression device hides those memories under what you might call a psychological rock.” So does that make sense to anyone? I understand that Chuck, all fiction really, requires some leaps of faith and oftentimes a leap of logic but this isn’t even close. From this Rye concludes that Sarah is the psychological rock hindering the intersect because she has always protected Chuck. The premise of wanting to measure up for Sarah works. It’s one that worked very well in Phase Three, in fact like I said this episode feels like it was written to bridge the gap between First Fight and Phase Three and to do that Sarah needs to believe that Chuck put himself at risk because she hasn’t ever told him she loves him with or without the intersect. But the very idea that Sarah is the psychological rock because she holds him back, does not work. Sarah has always been the person that has pushed Chuck to be more than he can be. Just ask Jill. “Ask yourself, are you a spy or are you a guy with a spy girlfriend.” Last point on this conflict: it seems the writers forgot that MamaB did something to the intersect! Something, I don’t know, mechanical as opposed to psychological. Something that we find Ellie was able to fix via her knowledge of neurology and computers.

Conflict: “No, Chuck, you’re not (a spy)! At least not right now.” JC often laments on how everyone else gets a free pass except for Chuck. There are no excuses for this one, Sarah made a grievous mistake. One she fully acknowledged, “this is all my fault, he did this to prove to me he can be a spy.” Yes she’s fearful of losing her home, yes (as Ernie brilliantly puts it) she’s fearful of losing her Chuck, and yes she really has no reason to believe he can handle himself without the intersect having had no precedent but she should know Chuck. She should know that none of that matters, that he is a hero, and that he will do what it takes. She should have enough faith in him to let him try to be her equal. Whatever reason he has for wanting the intersect back, no matter how misguided it is, she needed to be there to support him instead of adding to his aggravation and thereby directly causing him to put himself in danger. My issue with this conflict isn’t that it’s angst for angst sake—it’s organic actually—but that it undo’s what was resolved in First Fight. I mean wasn’t that the point? “Really believe in me, even when you think I’m wrong.” Although one can argue that she never answered his statement. Then again you have to call into question, so how would you bridge the gap between First Fight and her kick ass speech in Phase Three? You can’t. But then again the bigger issue isn’t whether or not Chuck knows she loves him with or without the intersect, it’s the fact that she’s still standing right in front of him instead of with him.

Conflict: Chuck once again takes the word of an outsider over his team. This one is unsavory only because it’s shades of First Class. Chuck is such an eager, trusting guy (it’s one of the qualities Sarah fell for) but at times like this it can get grating. He accepted that Sarah was the psychological rock to the intersect because Rye said so and it’s puzzling. He should know better. It doesn’t help that Sarah put those doubts in his head with her outburst, but Chuck should still have trusted his team and his partner in this situation. The pain therapy was not working, Rye was not working. To go off half cocked just because he’s upset, is not trusting his team. There’s a reason it’s called back-up and there is a reason why the team might not trust him in certain situations because he gets himself in trouble with stunts like these (needless risks). Instead his only present partner was willing to let him hang hundreds of feet in the air only to fall into his own death. I’d like to know how the intersect could save him in that situation, but that’s another topic.

Conflict: Sarah calls, Chuck answers, Rye hangs up. This conflict is the most typical of all stupid sticks and an acceptable one. We know that Chuck has to be kidnapped—ok we didn’t know that but now we do. Without this Sarah wouldn’t have had to raze Thailand to find him and therein is where this conflict works. Remember that Superman reference? Fairly typical use of conflict and not one that is nearly as bothersome as the rest.

Finally, this isn’t a conflict but a character: Rye. In a season full of winning guest stars (yes even Stacy Keibler was entertaining in her own way) Rob Riggle just fell short. He was overbearing and pompous. I don’t think the character was meant to be that but rather eager and unconventional. I don’t know if it’s the portrayal or the way he was written but he just did not work. I’m still trying to figure out why Chuck was so cold in the vault but Rye seemed unaffected; it must be the beard.

All in all Fear of Death wasn’t one of the better Chuck episodes (for me). In a closely tied arc it really should have done a better job transitioning us from First Fight to Phase Three with its own strength in storytelling, instead it only served to give us bare strings and frustrating ones at that. There was enough within the episode to make it work, but much like Nicholas Wootten’s last outing: Cubic Z, it fell short. But don’t let this episode and this review fool you, season 4 remains genius.

Ernie is REALLY bad at giving Faith the last word.

Faith raised some real problems and I want to address how I saw them.  And people ask me why our posts go on forever.  The main conflict, the purpose of the episode (or more correctly the arc ending with Phase 3) was to deepen the established connection and understanding between Chuck and Sarah.  The additional purpose, the bonus, was to re-visit and fix one of the things I mentioned as problems that were likely to arise from the season 3 love interests, particularly with Sarah.  A lot of season 4’s genius for me comes down to the ability of some of the new writers (who came to know Chuck and Sarah as we did, by what we saw) to tell a story about the character’s continuing growth, but to simultaneously take some of those problems, acknowledge them, and proceed to fix them.  Sympathetically.  I am also working on a larger post on the GENIUS, so I’ll be brief here and get in to the rest later.  But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first new pair of writers, Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc gave us Suitcase, to be followed by Nicholas Wootton  and Kristin Newman giving us Cubic Z and Coup d’Etat respectively.  We are in another Judkins & LeFranc, Wootton and Newman arc, and once again Wooton seems to be writing a transition episode that is in some sense a bottle episode exploring a character and her hopes, fears and motivations.

Sarah never fell for Chuck the guy, she fell for Chuck the spy.  Before you howl in protest remember how season 3 played out.  Yes they tried to finesse it with Sarah wanting to run away with Chuck, in essence to cement the season 2 Chuck and Sarah as something real and meaningful, and then toss it aside for some more angsty fun (heh).  Most of us agree that didn’t sell particularly well.  The problem was that by the time Chuck got around to winning Sarah back, to saving her, he had proven himself a more competent spy than Shaw, Cole, or Bryce, and a man confident enough to simply give Sarah the ultimatum she needed to hear to break her out of her Shaw induced stupor, or accept the consequences, even if it might have taken a night or two of whiskey and gaming and one really important question to come to terms with them.  That was the Chuck who finally won Sarah over.  That was shown on the screen.  And Sarah?  She never did get around to dumping Shaw, did she?

Sarah had to choose Chuck the regular guy, without the intersect, who wasn’t a confident superspy and needed to be saved rather than saving her.  We needed to see it, and Chuck needed to see it, on the screen, not implied in a few throw away lines.  We needed to recover the Sarah Walker who would draw her gun on another agent or take Chuck off the grid.  The problem is balancing all that with the need to keep Chuck a sympathetic and viable hero.  He can’t regress too much.  It’s a tough task, and that it relies on the stupid stick doesn’t surprise me too much.

So now we get to the part Faith brings up as the one conflict that I agree, makes a loud clang as it hits the floor, and one other conflict that, while not great, does its job.  First things first.

Sarah is the emotional rock holding down the intersect. Really?!

As Rye says, no not really.  For one thing I don’t think Chuck ever completely buys Rye’s story.  For another I think, or hope, we will get a slightly better explanation of that particular Mc Guffin at some point.  It was poorly done mostly because while the intersect has always been a plot device and a Mc Guffin at some level the intersect mythology is now tied in with both Orion and Frost’s actions and history.  Returning to the season 3 standard of the intersect works or doesn’t without real explanation depending on the needs of the plot rankles.  It now feels even more random and contrived.  With the new writing teams I’m hoping that gets fixed, or at least addressed.  But the Mc Guffin was necessary for the other aspect of season 3 repair that while somewhat clumsy ultimately worked for me.

Chuck never had to choose between the intersect and Sarah.  He sort of did, but not really.  At the end of season 2 we saw Chuck make the choice to be a hero, before he knew all that it meant giving up.  That Chuck chose to follow through and become a spy wasn’t the same as choosing being a spy over Sarah, or choosing Sarah over being a spy for that matter.  By the time Chuck and Sarah ended up together both were spies and the intersect was working flawlessly (for the time being).  As much as NBC tried to promote season 3 as a love or duty question for Chuck in the end he and Sarah both simply chose “have it all”.  They talked about the choice, and about giving it all up for each other, but even then the crap communicators seemed to be on the verge of glossing over everything until a third party managed to fill the therapist role for them.  Chuck needed to unambiguously choose Sarah over his gift and presumably the ability to be a spy, so enter Rye and a poorly done McGuffin.  I let it pass for a few reasons.  One, the outcome was important.  Two, they sold Rye’s assumption that Sarah was the problem as a conclusion based on the dysfunction and apparent co-dependancy he saw in the relationship.  Three, Chuck wasn’t really convinced in my opinion.  He was ready to wait for Sarah, and had he all the information he needed he would have.  But Chuck, the normal guy called on to be a spy (remember that theme from season 2?) was focused on the mission, and doing what he needed to be “that guy” that Sarah loves.

Hey it’s not a Faith and Ernie post, (Ernie and Faith’s?) post if it doesn’t go on forever. Anyways, Faith responds…

Correction: Sarah fell for Chuck, the hero. It’s what initially created the spark (ballerina), it’s what cemented the passion (Thailand-but from Seduction) and it’s what made her realize he was still her Chuck (tank). All the guys she “fell” (sarcasm) for were not heroes so much as spies. They were all doing what they were doing for something more than doing the right thing but rather for their own reasons. The scariest thing about Chuck wanting to be a spy so eagerly wasn’t that he would be in danger, though that is one of Sarah’s greatest weaknesses, it’s that the glamour and espionage will wile away his humanity, decency, and at the core heroism. In the past this might have been the issue to Sarah’s over the top reaction to Chuck wanting to be a spy but in this episode it’s less that and more about her fear of losing her home, her salvation, her future.

It always seems to go back to Crown Vic: Sarah to Casey, “do you ever want to have a normal life? Have a family?” The question then as it is now is does Sarah want the normal life and the normal guy for the sake of normal or did she want that normal because of Chuck? Honeymooners and even Pink Slip strived to show us that it’s the guy, not the dream. Just like in this case Sarah’s greatest PFOD is Chuck dying.

Getting back on FOD though, this is really where Ernie and I have a difference of opinion. He thinks they sold the conflict well, I disagree. The end result isn’t the sum of the whole, the transition is just as important. Do we get Phase Three without Fear of Death? No, but only because as mentioned, as frustrating as it was, it had enough within it to tie the arc together. But it should have done it better. I wasn’t convinced that Chuck didn’t doubt Sarah’s role in his problems and although there is a point in the codependency aspect (remember one of the themes is to be equals), it’s one that Chuck, the smart guy he is, should have seen and never considered. Just like there should have been more done in the exploration of the “intersect suppression,” but instead we have the stupid stick passed around. The first rule of writing is to sell conflict, show, don’t tell and they did neither.

One last point, yes they’ve never really had to make a choice. Just like Beckman has never verbalized that Chuck is a spy even without the intersect (one of the best things about Leftovers). The American dream isn’t just working hard and accomplishing whatever you shoot for, it’s also having it all. Amongst all the roadblocks, having it all, so in that sense Chuck and Sarah’s attempt to have it all is lovely. How often have we been told, “spies do not fall in love.” Obviously that’s a fallacy because spies fall in love plenty but the issue isn’t that they don’t, it’s that they can’t make it work. But Chuck and Sarah are a different kind of couple, they find a way.

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About Ernie Davis

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

397 Responses to Fear of Death; The Ernie and Faith Face Off Goes Epic

  1. treecrab says:

    I thought FOD was the second worst episode of the season (Leftovers was the worst), so I’m on Team Faith for this one. Heh.

    Don’t really have much more to say than that at this time, still processing the whole analysis, but I wanted to say nice job on the breakdown.

    It should be really interesting to see how the conversation unfolds with this one.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      still processing the whole analysis

      You and me both…

      It should be really interesting to see how the conversation unfolds with this one.

      Yep, though I’m pretty sure I can predict some of it…

    • Faith says:

      Team Faith? LOL. Awesome.

      This calls for a button!

      • joe says:

        Heh! Ernie, Faith, let me introduce you to Twitter. 140 characters or less. 😉

        J/K! I loved every word.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I tried a Haiku review. Didn’t quite work out.

        The intersect gone,
        grasp the stupid stick tightly.
        Sarah arrives late.

      • Faith says:

        I was under the impression we got paid by the number of words. If not, I’m definitely outsourcing my work load to Sarge and Herder lol.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Faith, word-count? Seriously? Well yeah, there is the monthly minimum to get your food, and the electroshock therapy for writers block, but seriously, I’d own this blog if that were the case…

      • Faith says:

        nah, the paid by word contract didn’t kick in until I signed on for full duties. You should talk with your agent! My agent got me slop from gruel LOL.

      • herder says:

        I thought that with all the reckless wagers that you were paid in Costa Gravan Pesos.

      • Faith says:

        Nice try Herder, but you aren’t getting costa gravans off me lol.

        Though they tried to pay me with cigars rolled on the thighs of virgins but it wasn’t my cup of tea LOL.

      • atcDave says:

        Silly Herder. Costa Gravan Pesos aren’t real, that’s just for fun. We’re paid in gruel.

      • joe says:

        If anyone gets the impression that I’m actually in charge around here, all I have to do is show ’em this thread. 😉

        All this just because I ordered Ernie to do the next review in Haiku… Sheesh!

  2. jason says:

    read it quickly, will read more depth later, but two comments:

    1 – first, thanks, between what the two of you wrote, I realized why I disliked roger rippley so much, he was daniel shaw, inserted to lead team b by beckman for no apparent reason other than to be incompetent and introduce problems for the team – sorry, I want a plot to do that, not a plot device – I promise when chuck and sarah get married, I will figure out what agent rickley’s real name is ?

    2 – I loved one snipet of this episode, when sarah chides the fat incompetent ninja about coming to ‘our’ home – wow – all that was missing was for morgan to pop out from under the message table and say ‘yea, ours – mine, chuck’s, and sarah’s, now get out’

  3. Jen says:

    I can’t wait to read this guys! A face of going epic?? AWESOME! I just wanna say… 2 hot people in these pics! Zac w/o a shirt.. looking gooooood! ANd Yvonne, well.. someday my stomach will look like that… someday..

    Sorry… i couldn’t help myself and had to say this and well, u guys are my buddies and i can say whatever i want 😛

    now back to work… ugh!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Just for the record, adding soft porn for both sexes (and the non-traditionally inclined) to increase the popularity of the post was my idea. 😉

      Clearly I’m spending far too much time reading Castle Inanity.

      • Good idea to add a little CBP to some SWP! 😉

      • Frea O says:

        You’ll know you’ve come over to the dark side when everybody is wearing a mustache FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. 😉

        Until then, we can only tempt you. We *do* have cookies…baked by the elves in the ovens that live in the curls of Will Schuester’s hair…

      • joe says:

        Frea, you have been a bad influence on Ernie! Bad Frea! Bad, bad!

        And don’t you dare stop that. 😉

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

    I liked this episode – from the “NO YOUR NOT” onwards.

    Also I will never again believe Beckman when she SAYS somebody is a good spy.

  5. sd says:

    Remember the line “The Belgian” uttered in Phase 3—something to the effect “My God, he is neurotic…”

    IMHO, we get glimpses, throw away lines etc to show–without spelling out–that Chuck is indeed a bit neurotic.

    So–if we follow that line–it may stand to reason that Chuck may not fully believe Sarah is the emotional rock holding down the intersect but he’s neurotic enough to worry what an intersect-less life would be like in his continuing quest to “prove himself” as Sarah’s professional equal.

    He really, really is open to anything to get the intersect back–especially after Sarah’s unfortunate (but in some ways accurate) outburst. It was our neurotic Chuck’s fear verbalized by the worst possible person to verbalize it–Sarah.

    After all this time, after all the episodes where Sarah risks her life for Chuck, goes off grid for Chuck and faces possible treason for Chuck. Our neurotic Chuck still needs the reassurance from Morgan at the end of Phase 3 that “that girl really, really loves you.” Well, duh.

    I know that we aren’t discussing Phase 3 but FOD makes Phase 3 in some ways more understandable.

    I think the bottom line is this: Clearly the intersect wasn’t blocked by an emotional rock but if it were it would have been Chuck’s own neurosis.

    • Faith says:

      Chuck is indeed neurotic. And eager, and still somewhat naive and hopeful. it’s some of the qualities that are endearing about him but like I said, at times—in this episode it got grating. I don’t know, maybe it’s the way it’s portrayed, maybe it’s the way it’s written, whatever it is, it was bothersome.

      Point of note: I was also irked by his delivery in Leftovers: “is he your boyfriend…” et al. Seemed more childish whine and less adorable Chuck.

  6. atcDave says:

    Great write up you two. Very good job looking at some conflicting issues on this one. I guess I would join the chorus of saying this was a weaker episode for the season, but that’s an important qualification; I did enjoy the episode and thought it did a lot worthwhile.

    To me, the good is: Strongly established that Sarah loves Chuck the man, not just Chuck the Spy or Chuck the hero. Of course the point will play out in a satisfying manner in Phase 3; but this is where we first see that Sarah loves Chuck, not a spy or the Intersect.
    I know I’m in a minority as saying liked Rye. I mean the man was a total idiot; enthusiastic, aggressive, and stupid to the core. Chuck’s own Inspector Clouseau. What’s not to love?

    To me the bad: The whole “emotional rock” thing, especially Sarah as the emotional rock; needed to be debunked. The Intersect will ultimately be fixed with a mechanical solution. It was satisfying to hear Chuck reject choosing the Intersect over Sarah (in the gondola), but it would have been been nice had it been acknowledged Sarah is actually good for Chuck professionally not just a crutch. Sure we know it, but it would be nice if Chuck and Beckman and the whole world knew it too.
    My other gripe had to do with Sarah’s “not a spy” line. Sure it sets up kidnapped Chuck and the awesome episode to come. But its hard to believe even tongue tied Sarah could be that clumsy. I mean she knew she had goaded Chuck into foolish action; surely she could have made amends better than “we’ll talk about it when I get there.” Something like “I don’t care if you’re a spy, I just want you to be safe”. Chuck and Rye still could have been attacked and Chuck kidnapped right from their room. But I guess that would have deprived us of another bit of cheap angst. Funny, the angst seemed underwhelming this time. I guess I was confident this would be completely fixed in the next episode, so what was the point? That is the core of my second complaint with this episode; they re-played the heavy handed angst card again, when they could have just as easily given us Chuck in peril and lioness Sarah charging off to the rescue without it.

    I mostly liked this episode, there really hasn’t been a bad one yet this season. But I would rank this in the lower tier. I agree entirely with season 4 is genius judgement.

    • joe says:

      +1 insightful, Dave.

      Timing is the thing. It’s going to be very satisfying to watch First Fight, Fear of Death and Phase 3 one after the other when the DVD comes out. It’ll be like a full length movie. All the things you mention as dissatisfying get resolved nicely – Sarah’s clumsy and shocking gaff becomes the central issue to be resolved.

      That’s a good point about Rye. I’ve been mocking the character this morning in comments, but he is fun to watch, and like I keep saying, not overdone. Riddle does a great job with a character that’s meant to be annoying.

      • atcDave says:

        After a re-watch I’m even a little disappointed (just a little mind you!) that they killed him off. He could have been a fun recurring moron, especially if teamB was all on the same page recognizing that he is a moron.

      • herder says:

        No Dave, his death as it occured was a blessing is disguise for him compared to what would have happened when Sarah caught up with him.

      • That could be funny to have an episode with someone like an ultimate spy, like Barker or even better Forest, who just can’t get anything right doing things by the textbook when Team B saves the day every time in an unconventional way!

        The guy would be pretentious in the beginning and a little skeptical about Chuck and Team B’s method, but would end up ridiculing himself!

        We kind of had that with Forest but it was more about Sarah’s skills as a handler. They could have an opportunity to not only show Chuck’s spy skills but also finally put to rest this “disfunctional” idea about Team B.

        “This is the best damn spy team in the world.” and a little recognition would be great.

        And if Casey and Sarah backed up Chuck everytime against this textbook spy, that would definitely increase his confidence!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, you just made me snort my beverage. I just got a mental image of a giant blonde she-male clotheslining a pudgy ninja with a devestating kick to the throat that results in a 270 degree rotation before he lands on his face.

        Good times… 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Oh Herder, that would have been so much fun; Chuck captured but Rye survives to face the wrath of Sarah.

        seriously, who here wouldn’t have wanted to see that!

        I love the idea of TeamB showing some by the book know-it-all how its really done. Especially if it means giving Chuck the lead on an operation. That’s the sort of thing that would keep this show fresh and extraordinary. It even works better with Chuck and Sarah flirty and happy throughout.

      • I wouldn’t necessarily give Chuck the lead, because it would be good to see that Casey and Sarah don’t do everything by the book anymore as well.

        Anyway, could be funny!

      • joe says:

        I just got a mental image of a giant blonde she-male clotheslining a pudgy ninja with a devestating kick to the throat that results in a 270 degree rotation before he lands on his face.

        In slo-mo! 😉

      • Faith says:

        I’d much rather Sarah go after a more entertaining target…Jill for example ;-).

      • Yes! Bring back Jill! 🙂

    • kg says:

      Dave I’m going to nitpick a little here and defend Sarah.

      Think back. There was the awkward silence and a stunned Chuck and amused Rye and Casey. Then she attempts to clarify and says, “At least not right now.” And she was correct. While Chuck may still have been a very good deductive and fact-finding agent, he absolutely cannot fight or defend himself sans the intersect. Sarah was right. This was big-time danger and he wasn’t fully equipped. Heck, even Beckman realized this and authorized Sarah’s trip to join them.

      And you’re omitting another key line following the “Sorry Chuck, we’ll talk when I get there.” She said, “I just can’t let you risk your own life.” Right there she’s telling him how important he is to her. Her home, he has to be OK, unpacking the suitcase all over again. But in fairness to Chuck, she had just tuned him up in front of the guys and general and it didn’t register. Until he was hanging off the gondola.

      • atcDave says:

        I get it KG, you never really have to defend Sarah to me, I’m a pretty shameless fan. I was only objecting to the way they madevher more “guilty” in pushing Chuck into the reckless mission than I think there was any need for. Any scenario getting Chuck captured would have resulted in lioness Sarah whether she was blaming herself or not.

      • herder says:

        I think that is why that bit didn’t bother me as much as others, I took it as another example of a big misunderstanding that would lead to a whimsical make up.

      • kg says:

        Right Dave. That’s the thing about Sarah. She’s not just a beautiful bad-ass. She’s always been just as hard on herself as much as the others. Something that hits home with me personally.

        And Casey correctly afixes some blame to Morgan for blabbing the proposal plan to her and “throwing gas on the fire.” LOL.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah KG, that was such a funny throw away line; right up there with “Agent Walker may be close to the edge…”

  7. thinkling says:

    This is great. I’m digesting it slowly, so if it’s OK, I’m going to comment along the way.

    Faith, thanks for pointing out the call back to Seduction. I loved this part! I loved that it was real. I loved Sarah coming in as herself and not her yogurt-girl cover. I loved Chuck’s face when he saw her. It took one of the best scenes from the past and reminded us that it’s better now because it’s real.

    The Buymore, which has become the bane of my Chuck world, worked in this episode. It actually mixed with the spy world. It’s about time! Jeff & Lester were funny and clueless … spy stuff all around them (Chuck and Greta/Casey and Greta). Gotta give them points for being suspicious, though. Hope Lester found the change he was looking for.

    I agree that Casey growth was nice. The whole Morgan/Alex/Casey triangle is good.

    As to the last scene … fantastic … a scene that communicated so much with so few words. This season keeps outdoing itself. It has more than it’s share of exceptional scenes and wonderful moments … and we’re not even half way through.

  8. Tamara Burks says:

    One thing I was looking forward to in FOD was seeing Chuck’s reaction to his father’s life work seemingly destroyed by his mother but we didn’t get that.

    Sarah was the rock on the Intersect but that was in the Beard not here. They completely ignored the fact that the Intersect was acted upon by the images from the psp not from emotional damage by Sarah or even his mother .

    Chuck bringing a loupe and taking an online gemology course is proof that he can be a spy . He may not be a conventional spy but the bad guys would expect what a conventional spy would do. Like in Suitcase the guards were expecting punches or guns not tranq gloves. They just have to be willing to train him to defend himself physically .

    It seems like they all forgot that if it weren’t for Bryce, Chuck would have been trained a long time ago . They should have started training him to fight sans Intersect after Beard at the VERY latest since they knew then the Intersect could be blocked by emotional upset. What would happen to him if he was blocked on a mission and the ability to fight sans Intersect was the difference between life and death?

    Maybe if Sarah or Morgan (Casey wouldn’t admit to being near death) was hurt and near death on a mission or Ellie was caught up in something and hurt (it could be something everyday like he took her to the bank while she was pregnant and she couldn’t fit behind the wheel anymore (and Devon was at work) and she was shot by a trigger happy robber and the Intersect failed because of that and he couldn’t fight and get Ellie to the hospital.

    I do think that the new Intersect will train him more and more everytime he uses it until he won’t need to flash to fight . I think that why we had the scene in FOD where Rye had Sarah react using a method she hadn’t used in years , once trained in something like that you never really lose it.

    I do think they should have had more (or any really) of Chuck realizing he had abilities in the spy world beyond the Intersect and this should have lasted several episodes. Of course I thought we should have had at least one ep between Predator and Broken Heart because it showed Chuck pulling away from Sarah after losing his chance to de Intersect and seeing how easily she was with Barker after turning him down flat in the Suburbs.

    I did think that it was funny that Casey gets incredibly antsy during down time. This is not a man who would take retirement well. If he ever does retire from the NSA , he needs to open his own business -Maybe wedding planning as long as someone else meets the couples.

    • joe says:

      Heh! When the time comes, Casey wants to go down in a spectacular ball of flames. He will not fade away if he can help it! 😉

      My pod-casting mates are rather convinced that there’s something new with the Intersect. (I know Jan and Karen are convinced, I hope I’m not mis-representing Lou’s position.) Maybe it’s Intersect 3.0 now. The evidence seems to be in the last flash we saw.

      But I’m not yet convinced. It’s probably not likely that things are unchanged with that little plot device because it seems boring! But we’ve seen so little that tells us any different, it’s still seems possible.

      I wouldn’t want to go speculating down any blind alleys about it yet. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. The main change I’d like to see is freedom from the Governor, and maybe better control with regard to emotions. But I wouldn’t bet on anything at all, we just don’t have enough data yet.

      • thinkling says:

        I’ll be sort of disappointed if there’s not something new. The flash looked different.

        But the main reason is that this was Stephen’s latest build, and with Ellie’s fixes I at least expect it to work more in harmony with his brain and more like his brain. Oh, and I’m betting on additional info, like all the stuff mom blew up.

        Self-updating features in sync with the laptop would be pure bonus … and maybe GPS driven flashing. Yeah, I know, but it would be cool. I mean at some point don’t we need a computer trolling for intelligence in order to update the Intersect?

      • All the stuff Frost blew up would make sense. It was a memory problem, and Orion was trying to store data.

  9. JC says:

    This episode should have been called Leftovers since the script seemed like a reject from last season.

    Now I’m in the minority that I liked Riggle as Rye, he’s basically played himself as a spy. Watch the Hangover, he was the taser cop.

    A couple of things were lost in his crazy antics. His praise of Chuck’s non Intersect skills. Other than Casey pointing out Chuck was smart in Other Guy, that’s the only other time someone has praised Chuck in the last two seasons. Am I the only one that finds that strange? What happened to the encouraging Sarah from the first two seasons. Then you had him telling Chuck he was afraid during a mission. When has any other spy ever admitted that on the show. I really liked it, I’d like to think it made Chuck realize it’s OK to be afraid as long as it doesn’t overwhelm you.

    The other point I think he was right about was Chuck’s reliance on Sarah. Now I don’t buy into the emotional rock thing, S3 garbage once again. But you have to think that maybe Chuck might hesitate in going all out as a spy because of how Sarah might react. And after S3 who can blame him. Now that could be a rock of sorts.

    What I see as the bigger issue of the season is Sarah’s perception of Chuck. IMO she still sees him as an asset/playing spy then an equal to her or Casey. That needed to be addressed more than does Sarah love Chuck with or without the Intersect. In fact when I first watched the show I thought that was the reason he wanted to train with Riggle.

    A couple of other minor points. Summer Glau was really wasted in this episode my only hope is that since Jeffster stalked her its the end of Greta experiment. Please make up your mind about emotions and the Intersect. One episode emotions are bad then the next they’ll help. And hopefully this is the last of Beckman brings in idiot spy to take over training Chuck in spite of Team B’s spectacular record.

    Now I still think a lot of the problems with the show when it comes to spy world is because they’ve combined assassin and spy into one thing. That’s hurt the show more than anything.

    • joe says:

      What happened to the encouraging Sarah from the first two seasons.

      JC, I just wanted to point out that this is precisely where Sarah needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s completely consistent with what we’ve seen; Sarah just assumes these things too much. She assumes that Chuck understands her belief in him, she assumes that he’s heard the words “I love you.” and she assumes he knows she loves him with or without the Intersect.

      Do you think she’s finally learning her lesson? After we see what’s coming, I’m voting ‘yes’.

      • Encouraging Chuck to go on mission without the Intersect AND without back up is unnecessarily risky and stupid IMO. It’s like Chuck going all alone on mission in First Class.

        Being encouraging isn’t agreeing with you when you do stupid thing. But well, that was apparently what we were supposed to think after First Fight “Really believe in me. Even when you think I’m wrong.”

        I think Sarah would rather have an angry very alive boyfriend, than a happy but dead one.

      • joe says:

        Tru, dat. I’m not sayin’ she’s wrong to be concerned, Crumby. In fact, I think she’s right. They only have to work on how they’re getting the point across, both of them.

      • Agreed. I just wanted to say that because she delivered it wrongly, we shouldn’t forget that she was in fact right… But you said it. 😉

    • Faith says:

      I’m of two minds on this:

      1. We see less encouraging Sarah because
      a.) she no longer has to manipulate him into action like she had had to do once before. Think back to Seduction: “the sooner you do this the sooner you can get back to the life you choose with whomever you chose.” “What are you saying, Sarah?” “I’m saying you could have everything you’ve always wanted.” Pure manipulation on her part because back then she may have been in love with him but she wasn’t yet willing to do anything about it.
      b.) She’s less a spy and more of a girlfriend like Casey so aptly put it in Phase Three. Because of that she’s more focused on the danger that can befall him now more than ever and less on his potential/future. That’s not necessarily a bad thing…yes just like Chuck’s neurosis it can get grating but thus far I think YS has played it well, to sympathy instead of apathy. And less face it, of late Chuck’s been taking more needless risk than ever before.

      2. She encourages him plenty. In a search for his mom, a rogue operation…something the S2 Agent Walker would have totally debunked on danger alone (until she’s threatened with separation from him that is) she’s encouraged him to continue. She questions him on wanting to give up, because deep down she knows he doesn’t want to. And towards the end there she gives him fresh perspective, “your mom is the only thing keeping us safe.”
      It’s also important to note that although she was unconvincing in FOD with “You don’t need the intersect to do great things…yes, but you’re Chuck Bartowski, and you do that all on your own”—her original point was actually what ended up happening. Chuck Bartowski, sans intersect became a definitive spy (at the end of Phase Three) with GB’s approval. So Sarah was kind of right.

  10. Tamara Burks says:

    Another two point. This contained the only viable use of the Greta gag the whole season. It made no sense that there could be a revolving cast of people using the same female name (including one male) without them expecting someone to notice. Given the attractiveness of these characters it could even be a regular customer who noticed that the new Buy More had suddenly turned into a home for models.

    The CIA has really fallen down on the job when it comes to the mental health of it’s agents . Chuck’s the only one who had to see a shrink yet he’s the least likely official agent (I’m not sure if Morgan is officially considered an agent) to need one. Of the agents we’ve seen up close there’s Bryce (with his God complex ), Sarah (with her daddy issues that actually make her a securuty risk) , Rye (extremely squirrly), Frost ( had to have had some problem a long time ago to not realize that she should apologize for taking the mission infiltrating Volkoff in the first place because there was no way that wasn’t gonna be long term) and the craziest of all Shaw – there was an incredibly long list of things wrong with him not the least of which was he appeared incompetant and you wondered who he blackmailed to get the job.

    • patty says:

      Actually I think they knew full well Shaw was nuts, they just wanted to use his insanity to their own advantage. Remember Beckman said she didn’t know of Sarah’s involvement. She never said she didn’t know Eve was hit by the CIA. It cme back and bit them on the heinie parts.

      As far as the rest, they seem to feel that REAL spys don’t need no stinking shrinks!

  11. Great post Ernie and Faith!

    Rye didn’t bother me. I liked him, and how messed up the dynamics of the team.

    Having that said, this psychological rock thing was annoying. It is just ridiculous, considering last year Chuck couldn’t flash without Sarah and now because she loves him and wants to protect him, he can’t flash either? Aw man, they just can’t catch a break, can’t they? It looked annoyingly like a plot device and ending up being a plot device.

    My issue with this conflict isn’t that it’s angst for angst sake—it’s organic actually—but that it undo’s what was resolved in First Fight. I mean wasn’t that the point? “Really believe in me, even when you think I’m wrong.”

    I think the point was that it’s the reason why Sarah told Chuck while massaging him that he was a spy, despite the fact that she wasn’t sure he could handle himself. She chose to tell him what he needed to hear, instead of telling him: “I don’t want you to go on missions without the Intersect”.

    The fact that she told him that, emphasizes Chuck’s disappointment when she finally told him “No, Chuck, you’re not! At least not right now.” She just can’t take it anymore, and once again Chuck thinks she doesn’t believe in him, enough.

    I have to say, it was hurtful and certainly not well timed and said, but I don’t disagree with Sarah. The Intersect doesn’t make the spy Chuck is, but without it he can’t defend himself or his team. And that’s the conclusion everybody reaches after Phase Three BTW. Chuck’s an asset but he needs training to be a spy. Training that he doesn’t need if he has the Intersect. So really, I don’t blame Sarah.

    It’s also probably because I found Chuck annoying as well. How can’t he not see Sarah’s point? I get that he wants to be a spy so badly, it blinded him a little, but come on! Where is his protectiveness? Last year he lied to Sarah about his health to protect her from worrying about losing him, and now he just goes on mission taking needless risks? That was annoying and once again a plot device for the next episode.

    Ernie I think you’re analysis about the fact that Sarah needn’t to save Chuck the regular guy and Chuck choosing Sarah over the Intersect is Genius! But I would add that they didn’t need to regress Chuck like they did IMO. Having him kidnapped without the Intersect is enough for me to believe that Sarah would become the Giant Blond She-Male in Thailand and save him. I didn’t need Sarah to snap at Chuck to convinced me.

    Getting back on FOD though, this is really where Ernie and I have a difference of opinion. He thinks they sold the conflict well, I disagree.

    Well I’m with Faith on this one. As much as I like your analysis Ernie, it didn’t really work for me on the screen.

    But overall, even if the drama wasn’t that good, the episode was still fun.

    I loved Alex with Casey, I think they’re really using her character well and Mekenna Melvin is really selling it to me, both as Casey’s daughter and Morgan’s girlfriend. Morgan should learn a few trick from her about giving advice, btw.

    2 of Sarah’s lines made me laugh so much:
    – “It looks like he’s hitting you.”
    – “But then there’s no safety net.”

    And like Faith mentioned, I loved the call-back to Seduction, the B plot was one of the best this season, and the ending scene was really great.

    • thinkling says:

      I loved those lines, too, Crumby! We already talked about the safety net one, but I also loved “It looks like he’s hitting you.” Her delivery is perfect.

      While we’re agreeing, I don’t disagree with Sarah, either. Unfortunate timing and hurtful, yes, but also true (and probably less hurtful than a 200 foot free-fall sans parachute). Great point about Chuck’s not wanting her to worry about losing him last year vs. running off this year with no thought of that.

    • joe says:

      “I don’t want you to go on missions without the Intersect”.

      Ooohhh! She didn’t say that, but she wanted to. That’s interesting, and brings up a whole host of questions about Sarah, doesn’t it?

      Does Sarah’s unspoken statement show her growing dependency on Chuck’s well being? She’s been a very independent person for a long time. But that very independence helped made her an emotional zombie as much as her Red Test did, and she fought that dependence all through S3.0.

      • I think she also didn’t say it until she couldn’t take it anymore “No you’re not. Not right now.” because she wanted Chuck to figure it out on his own and didn’t want him to see it as a “request” from her.

        Remember her: “Chuck, don’t.” before he left? She changed it in “Don’t be a hero. Come back safe to me ok?” but it was there. “Don’t go.”

        He obviously wanted the Intersect back and was ready to do whatever it takes, and after First Fight she didn’t want to go against his will.

        She’s always been very dependent of Chuck’s well being. That’s basically why she “rejected” him in S2. It wasn’t about protocol in the end, but about her not being abble to protect him if she wasn’t around because of a reassignment.

      • joe says:

        Absolutely, Crumby. I just wonder if Sarah’s becoming MORE dependent on him, and really, I’m wondering if this is an altogether bad thing.

        We’re not islands, after all. And Sarah was waayyy to isolated before.

      • I think it’s part that she’s more dependent because she “can’t go back to how it was before” (and the more they commit to each other the more it’s true) and part that she allows herself to depend on him now that they are together.

        She was clearly freaked out about Chuck health at the end of S3, and showed it to him. I don’t think she would have showed him that much before they got together.

    • Faith says:

      Thanks for the post Crumby. You’ve really done a great job bottling up all our thoughts and intentions. Welcome to Team Faith 😉 Kidding.

  12. Sarge_87 says:

    First, nice breakdown Earnie and Faith. Nothing to add on the fronts you discussed.

    It doesn’t surprise me that this episode is a major burr in everyone’s butt. It’s third season’s First Class with an even more annoying character, played by Rob Riggle, thrown in to cause chaos amongst the main cast. Agent Rye almost made me wish for the good ole days when Shaw was stirring the pot and trying to get Chuck killed in his own devious tough love fashion. However twisted, it did bring a little smile to my face when Rye was unceremoniously shot in the back by The Belgian just so I didn’t have to hear “Emotional Rock” for another episode. Even though death by woodchipper would have been a more suitable fate. The character was played WAY too over the top. I like over the top characters. Just not this one.

    The Greta B-plot wasn’t bad compared to previous cameos. Anytime I get to see Jeff and Lester in physical and emotional distress, it’s been a good day. Subway Inc. should be happy with the 20 minute infomercial they received in this episode. A better description may be sandwich porn starring Summer Glau and her pet jack knife.

    The whole episode to me was just LOUD in the storytelling and completely monotone for the entire hour. The only break we get from this is the sweet scene between Baldwin and Melvin. Some reviewers were complaining Melvin’s lines could hardly be heard. It’s certainly understandable when the rest of the characters are screaming at each other – Sarah screaming at Chuck, Chuck screaming at Rye, Rye screaming at Chuck, Greta screaming at Jeff and Lester, Jeff and Lester screaming for their lives, Morgan cursing his responsibilities at the Buy More, and Casey growling at everyone in the world preparing for the inevitability of getting uprooted for Afghanistan. Even I would have had to turn the volume up to hear that scene in the diner.

    Wootton had this very same problem with Cubic Z. All the players involved in both plots were in total chaos without any balance. I like a little drama where the members of Team Bartowski are playing for keeps, but there needs to be a balance between chaos and normality. Hopefully with Phil Klemmer back in his new role of script supervisor, he can use his past experience writing for Chuck to get that edge back from season 2 and the latter part of season 3.

    I’m not panning the episode as a failure by any stretch because it did what it was supposed to do which was to leave us at a fine cliffhanger and get the team focused again. If I had to give this episode a grade it would probably be a C-.

    • herder says:

      Good description that, Loud, I like that. Overall it was probably the weakest episode this year, that being said I didn’t hate it or give it a failing grade either.

      It had some quite good parts, even though they were not well strung together such as the use of Tim Jones’s music in the Sarah entering the Buy More scene and the backrub scene. Very comforting music that I associate with seasons 1 & 2, nice to see it used in context again.

      I also did like the idea of Chuck and Sarah relaxing moments (backrub) used for talking about other things sort of like the watching TV bit in Tooth. Sarah’s “no, you’re not” didn’t bother me that much, partially because of Riggle saying the same thing at the beginning “I promise you at the end of this you will be a spy again”.

      The plot rehashes were a problem, the diamond heist from Wookie, the Sarah as the problem for Chuck emotionally from the Shaw arc, and Chuck’s identity on the micro chip and Sarah racing to the rescue is from Fat Lady. It seems that they had some good ideas but bound them together with used ideas, that’s what didn’t work for me. It felt off, sort of creaky, new ideas presented in a regressed way if that makes any sense.

      • joe says:

        Herder, you’re absolutely right to bring in Tim Jones. After going through his site and playing his mp3s while browsing the Intertubes I developed a greater appreciation for his style.

        And it’s been showing all through S4 in particular. It may seem understated to some, but the music throughout S4 has been exceptional.

      • herder says:

        One thing that I noticed last Wednesday while watching Human Target (the Chuck writer’s refuge) is that Tim Jones now does the music for that show too. It became more obvious when a whole scene was scored to the music from the opening scene of Cubic Z where the transport is driving along the highway. Either Tim really liked that piece or he got a two for one discount on it’s use.

      • atcDave says:

        I find all of the Chuck/Human Target connections amusing. That, and both shows are vastly better this year than last!

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I too noticed the music on the last Human Target as being very good and “Chuck like” (Duh) in many ways. Fits the show well.

        I’d really like to find the tune that was playing when Ames was sunbathing on the roof.

    • Faith says:

      You guys said it better and in less words. I’m hiring you to do my work for me…that is if you work for gruel. Wait, I think gruel was the old Chuckthisblog paycheck, we’ve now progressed to slop. 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Hey, what’s with all this talk about slop. Aren’t Queens supposed to be generous and not stingy? 😉

      • herder says:

        One of the things that does disappoint is Chuck’s trust in the Government, yeah he is a trusting guy but sometimes enough is enough.

        This is the same group of people that repeatedly threatened to toss him into a deep dark hole for two years, decided to blow up his father in Colonel, decided to blow him up in Beard. They also dropped him like a worthless piece of trash when he couldn’t flash in Pink Slip and then benched him in Beard. Let’s not forget leaving him to the tender mercies of Agents Forest and Shaw (that’s how a real professional acts).

        You’d think that there might be some skepticism when they say after having him poked and prodded for a month, here try this lunatic with his off the wall ideas that involve physical harm and danger as a means of fixing you.

      • joe says:

        Grumble, grumble. 1st of the year. Time for the ol’ automatic C.o.L. pay raises.

        Very well, slop it is! And bah-humbug!

        Oh, wait. That was my phrase 3 weeks ago. For now let me amend that to say there’s no way to ever really repay you guys for all your hard work here. You all have amazing talents and are generous with them to boot!

        Better yet, you guys are just plain fun to read. 😉

      • Faith says:

        Alladins, the economy is such as it is even Queens have to work. And Joe isn’t the most generous of beneficiaries lol. JK Joe.

        Herder, I’m still trying to figure out if Chuck or Sarah knows that Casey was about to execute him in First Date. I mean that’s a pretty serious offense there. I don’t care if he was following orders, the fact that that order went out is a big red flag that I don’t know maybe it’s not so good to trust the government so much.

        But at the same time awhile back I posted that Chuck is essentially an amalgamation of all the characters, and he’s got Casey’s patriotism—just with less Reagan.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Curds and whey Faith, I’m up to curds and whey, but I think if we’re outsourcing gruel is probably sufficient. We have to ask Joe what he pays the ChuckThis adjective shop in Mumbai.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joe outsources to a shop in Mumbai? Dang!! Show some love for my home city – Hyderabad – doesn’t a fellow fan deserve that much? Tell Joe he can get gruel for half the price with a chunk of bread as a freebie. 🙂

      • joe says:

        Noted, Genie! 😉

        I’m so glad you don’t ask to be paid by the word, Ernie…

  13. Ernie Davis says:

    Thanks for all the thoughtful comments and kind words everyone. But you have to know that I really REALLY wanted to respond to Faith’s last word. But we were quickly approaching 5,000 words and a kinda-sorta deadline, so I left my last section as-was after Faith replied. There was one correction I wanted to make, I’ll let you judge how much it changes the argument.

    Sarah never fell for Chuck the guy, she fell for Chuck the spy.

    Sarah had to choose Chuck the regular guy, without the intersect, who wasn’t a confident superspy and needed to be saved rather than saving her. We needed to see it, and Chuck needed to see it, on the screen, not implied in a few throw away lines.

    I used both fell for and choose when discussing what I saw as an execution problem that had larger story implications. They really aren’t interchangable. Sarah fell for Chuck pretty much right off the bat, even if it took her a while to recognize much less admit what was happening. What I was really refering to was Sarah making choices to try to be with Chuck. In other words show me Sarah wants to be with Chuck, don’t just tell me she fell for him and figure that’s enough, wonderful and touching as that scene was.

    The problem was that the one time we saw Sarah take steps to really pursue a relationship, it was with Shaw. In Mask, as close as we ever saw to Sarah pursuing Chuck, Sarah basically lied to Chuck so he’d feel free to move on. At the end of Fake Name, she went to confide in Shaw over the impending loss of Chuck, ended up making out with him, and then after being faced with her own death decided at the end to pursue Shaw, going to him in Castle with dinner and herself as desert. So we are SHOWN that Sarah can develop and act on a romantic attachment, apparently unless it’s Chuck. To me that is a major execution problem that makes the characterization and the story problematic, and things like that bother me a lot. They are not easily explained away.

    Now, the things that don’t bother me as much are usually easily explained away. Some were incensed by the season 3 “retcon” that Chuck had been in training for three years. I never saw that as a problem. Especially in season 2 we saw Chuck’s utility to the team and skills grow. In Seduction Chuck didn’t even have any CIA contact outside Sarah and Casey. By Chuck Versus The Ex he has credentials sufficient to take command of a battalion of fire and police and the response team to a bio-hazzard. So you could say the CIA is advancing him a bit. Also, more than once the team or Chuck was told to make Chuck into a real spy, or that it was time to become a real spy. So, when Shaw looks at Chuck’s file and remarks on three years of “training” it doesn’t bother me. Much. It is easily fixed with someone saying to Chuck that on the books for CIA purposes he’s been listed as an agent in training as opposed to IT hardware.

    Chuck never receiving training in hand to hand combat is another one that I don’t find too bothersome. He obviously has some limited ammount, since he regularly fends off attackers until he flashes and while innefective and poorly executed, he did know what moves to use on the Ninjas. One or two lines about how too much training would interfere with the implanted memories that are the intersect skills would be fine. That they don’t actually address this is a little sloppy, but not a major hole as far as I’m concerned.

    Along these lines I put Rye and the Sarah is the rock theory. It doesn’t bother me that the CIA still hasn’t quite figured out the intersect and how it works. We are after all to believe it is unique technology that can’t be reproduced without Orion/Stephen Bartowski’s input. When the CIA comes up with a theory that seems to contradict what we know, I simply put it down to the CIA scientists not being as good as Orion, or Ellie for that matter. While Chuck seeming to buy in is a little more problematic, he is a smart guy after all, we need to remember that Chuck does start to experience flashes when he is in a confrontation (with the Ninjas or Rye) and while he is no doubt feeling a lot of things and we know he is braver than most people give him credit for, fear is something he is likely feeling as he tries to flash. For Chuck to give some credence to Rye’s theory up until he says that getting rid of Sarah is the key isn’t a deal-breaker for me. But I understand how it doesn’t play for some people.

    • JC says:

      Ernie

      Something else they haven’t addressed in my eyes is Sarah’s perception of Chuck as a spy when it comes to the relationship. That to me was the biggest problem to come out of S3 when dealing with the romance. Having her a date a psychopath who beats handcuffed prisoners, shoots people in the back, etc didn’t help. Yet Chuck can’t veer from her ideal version of him. It makes her love come off conditional in a way. If Chuck is tarnished in her eyes she can’t be with him. They blew their chance in dealing with this at beginning of Other Guy with Chuck’s Red Test. That’s why I mentioned above, maybe she is a rock in way. Chuck is afraid in going to far as a spy because of how Sarah will react.

      The part about the training bothers me because we’re meant to believe Chuck had a facility devoted to solely to himself. Did he actually train or did they just yell flash at him like last season. And again it wouldn’t be so bad if this had been the first time the Intersect didn’t work but it wasn’t. After what happened in Beard you’d think Beckman might want to protect her investment. The same with Sarah in Leftovers, she goes through all of Phase Three but doesn’t train him? Somethings you can’t play for comedy and that was one of them.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Ernie and Faith – first of all, great face off. So much material to digest.

        JC

        ‘Innocent and pure Chuck’ is like Sarah’s idealized version of the person whom she may love. Question : Does Sarah love Chuck, whatever may his qualities and apparent faults be? Or does she love a Chuck who confirms to her version of how he should be?

      • jason says:

        @genie – sarah seemed pretty taken by agent carmicheal in 3×13 and mr charles in 3×14, and he was pretty bryce/cole studly …. she also seemed equally ok with chuck the maleshe in 4×7 thru 4×10, didn’t sarah?

        @ernie – your ?’s about sarah, shaw, and chuck’s love triangle in season 3 are interesting, I don’t think what was shown on screen will ever quite answer them. I would love for the show to resolve some of the inconsistency of season 3 somehow on screen in a satisfying manner to fans like me or even in an interview setting have fedak explain why what was shot makes sense from his POV. It is possible, the second thing simple does not exist, i.e. when the showrunners view season 3, they too go, wtf were we thinking / doing in regards to the love triangle and some of sarah’s actions?

        I now am ok with just accepting they write some bad scripts, tell some bad stories, and had one really bad arc intermingled with many eps, arcs, and stories I really like.

        I have not watched any of season 3 since last may other than 3×14 and 3×15, I will never watch 4×8 again either, it’s ok, just the nature of how chuck is made, one of the more connected posters here made the case it is a budget thing, seems like as good an explanation as any, but who really knows for sure?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC, I understand what you are saying. Sham lead to a mess when it came to the Sarah character and her ending up with Chuck. I think in some ways getting Chuck and Sarah together in the aftermath of Sham was pretty poorly done, but we were all just so glad it was over and done that nobody cared. My point about fixing certain things is that they may or may not have recognized the problems and they may or may not be doing this intentionally (I think they are) but the development they are doing directly addresses some of the dropped balls and seemingly contradictory story elements. I think it is very understandable from Chuck’s POV, as you mention, that Sarah’s comittment to him is, even if subconsciously, conditional, based on the timing and the way TPTB put them together. That this arc not only plays on those possible insecurities as a source of conflict, but resolves them is the part that I call Genius. The weak storytelling in S3 is suddenly the hook for an awesome arc.

        As for the training, like I said, they’ve showed him try to fight without the intersect both successfully (for a time) and unsuccessfully. Lets say he started training seriously in Prague, basically two years ago. Say he trains both physically and in the martial arts for an hour or two a day, minus time for growing a beard, retiring for 3-6 months, and missions, etc. So he’s had roughly a year’s worth of training in hand to hand combat. He has few problems fending off Anna Gastmeyer for a few minutes one on one till he can flash in First Fight, but is utterly useless against three Ninjas or Volkoff’s three best assasins weilding knives. Sounds about right.

        The problematic part is that he mentions his 6 months in Prague as if its the only training he’s had, which as many note, he probably should have picked back up on it when he went back to being a spy in S3 and then again in S4. So his level of fighting skill, or the fact that he calls out to warn Sarah he can’t handle the three assasins alone (remember he was between them and her, and in their tandem fights Sarah counts on Chuck to have her back) that doesn’t bother me. The fact that Sarah doesn’t act as his trainer after the Three Words debaucle doesn’t bother me. The fact that they haven’t bothered to explain away the lack of continued training doesn’t bother me too much. There are several easy ways, so my brain doesn’t hurt trying to reconcile it. I just look at it as a dropped ball that could be picked up and dealt with at any time, but they are perhaps saving the explanation for some reason.

        For those of you that are bothered by Chuck apparently not picking up training after Prague I’ll give you my top three. Plus my bonus season 1/2 reason.

        1) Chuck can’t train in the martial arts because, outside a one week period after Fake Name and the recent few days after Frost disabled it, the intersect has always worked for him as a spy. When he tries to train, he flashes, so the temporary intersect knowledge keeps him from learning the routines. His brain doesn’t try to store them because it thinks they are already learned behavior.

        2) The CIA found (or theorized) in Prague that actual training interfered with retrieving the intersect skills, so it was decided that training beyond a certain point, which would take years anyway, wasn’t practical or desirable. Remember, the CIA is allowed to be stupid.

        3) He is training, but his own skill level isn’t very advanced yet. How many years does it take to earn a Brown Belt after all?

        Bonus: In season 1/2 they didn’t want him to be too skilled. They wanted him to be dependant on the CIA as a means to control him and in case they needed to abduct and bunker him.

      • Chuck was only trained in Prague and it was a specific Intersect training. At that time, he didn’t controlled the Intersect at all. All they did was trying to make him flash on demand I think, by putting him in situations like in the beginning of Pink Slip.

        Then he got a little training with Casey, Sarah and Shaw but it was always Intersect related, because the Intersect wasn’t working flawlessly and that was the priority.

        I think they tried to explain that in Leftovers:
        Chuck: “But remember I had six months of training in Prague.”
        Morgan: “This is different now. This is Chuck unplugged.”

        The government had no interest in training Chuck in S1 and S2 because they didn’t want him, and like Ernie said it would take years anyway.

        Then they wanted the Intersect up and running. I can understand that they didn’t spend that much time training him without it. And from Tic Tac to the end of S3, there weren’t that much time. Then Chuck quited. Overall it isn’t that much of a stretch.

        Why would the government not completely rely on the Intersect when Chuck does anyway? He should be the one wanting training. He knows better than everyone else how unstable the Intersect is, and it’s him that wants to be a spy.

      • JC, I see your point about Sarah’s love being conditional, and it may be in Chuck’s head somewhere. But it never stopped him.

        He didn’t go through his red test even if it could mean not becoming a spy and losing Sarah.

        He “killed” Shaw even if he knew it could cost him Sarah.

        When it comes to it, Chuck does what he feels is right and that exactly what Sarah loves about him. He stays true to himself. It isn’t about killing or not, it is about how you do it and why.

        The red test wasn’t a “good” kill for Chuck, that’s why Sarah didn’t want him to do it, but she was fine with him killing Shaw.

        It isn’t to say, Chuck can’t make mistake, and I think Sarah can understand that.

        Also, if Chuck stays Chuck, he wouldn’t be comfortable with killing someone, even if he has no choice. Sarah just doesn’t want him to have to deal with that.

        In the end, I see it more as protectiveness than conditional love, especially after S3.

        Having said that, even if it played in Chuck’s behavior, why would he want to prove he could be a spy so badly without the Intersect if that’s what could cost him Sarah in the end?

      • JC says:

        @Ernie

        I agree that a lot of this season is about fixing problems from S3, in fact Phase Three seemed to be all about fixing the damage to Sarah. IMO I think they need to address this idea of Sarah’s idealized Chuck versus the real one. That’s why I was so disappointed in FOD, think how great it would have been if Rye asked Chuck why he doesn’t carry a gun or is hesitant to use violence. Have Chuck deflect or give a non answer. Then you have Rye confront Sarah with the details of Chuck’s Red Test and point out that his fear of disappointing her is going to get him killed.

      • JC says:

        @Crumby

        I don’t know if they’ll ever go into the issue of whether Chuck thinks her love is conditional or not. Sometimes I don’t know if she loves the idea of Chuck or the man. I think it’s something they need to address but it all depends if the TPTB saw the problems I did.

        Without dragging this down, the whole Red Test execution was stupid. The minute the mole tried to kill Chuck they lost any impact and in fact made him look worse by not pulling the trigger to save himself. The same goes with him shooting Shaw, he has to explain he’s the same guy after saving Sarah’s life. That’s completely insane.

        And here’s the main problem, it all stems from season 3. The notion you lose your soul or change into an emotionless robot was created for S3 and goes against most of the other spies we’ve seen on the show. They twisted the whole spy world to suit the plot and its biting them in the a** now.

      • I agree about the Red Test. The mole having a gun ruined everything.

        I disagree about Chuck killing Shaw though. I see it that way: the point was that Chuck, like us, thought Sarah would think his not HER Chuck because he’s killed a men. Her “you saved me” was supposed to brush away that. Chuck didn’t have to explain himself. She understands, and knows he’s still her Chuck.

        Even though, I also agree this thing about killing was created in S3, Chuck always had a problem with this. The question wether or not he could shoot at people when he has other choices is relevant IMO, and Sarah worrying about this as well. Like everything in S3.0, they didn’t address it well however.

        If someone asked Chuck why he doesn’t carry a gun or is hesitant to use violence, I personally think that his first thought wouldn’t be about Sarah not wanting him to do so. Chuck just don’t like violence and the idea of shooting people.

      • Argh, sorry about all the typos…

      • JC says:

        @ Crumby

        I see what you’re saying but for Chuck to even think she wouldn’t look at him the same after killing someone to save her life shows how screwed up the writing was. And it damaged her character in the process.

        It comes down to the idea that Chuck really doesn’t know how Sarah feels about him being a spy. How far can he go on a mission? Is he allowed to shoot someone to save Big Mike or a random person? Why is his lying OK now but it wasn’t before? Like I said it comes off conditional she’s created this line and if Chuck crosses it then he’s tainted. We know he’s accepted all the things she’s done as a spy but could she do the same for Chuck? For me this is the major cloud hanging over the relationship. That could be a legitimate emotional rock instead of the one they created.

      • @JC

        I do think it a line she’s created in S3.0 but this line was supposed to be erased by Other Guy. From that point, the fact that she has accepted him as a spy basically says that she trust his judgment on the issue and therefore he draws this line himself.

        Obviously, they haven’t make that clear and I can understand why it bothers you. It bothered me too, but I guess I chose to interpret it that way.

        We could have used an apology from Sarah to Chuck about this, because her fears obscured her judgment and her faith in him.

        The same way I could have use an apology from Chuck telling her “I’m sorry I put you through this” after Phase Three. It was implied that Sarah was right with her “No you’re not (a spy)). Not right now.” but making it the reason for Phase Three and have nobody acknowledge that Chuck was taking needless risk make it sound like what happened was Sarah’s fault.

      • Faith says:

        JC I think it’s important to remember that we’re seeing the show through Chuck’s eyes. So Sarah’s intentions, and POV may not always be clear. I don’t agree that her love was or is conditional but I think you have a point about her wanting to keep him the Chuck he is…but I understand that because it’s the part that Chuck wants to keep for himself as well. I think they’ve written enough in the past to make me buy that, and they’ve written enough to make me believe every relationship she’s ever had apart from Chuck stemmed from convenience and ease, and less genuine emotions and love. Case and point: the only time a future has come into her mentality is when she’s with Chuck, for everyone else the future doesn’t matter, it’s about the present–the next mission, etc.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the issue with Chuck’s Red Test just comes down to Sarah not knowing the mole was armed. It’s a stupid convention and requires us to believe Sarah never knew much about what happened.

        There is a legal standard used for deadly force that considers it justified to protect one’s life or the life of another. I would assume Sarah is fine with that standard. Her objection seemed to be based on the idea Chuck would kill on command; and she clearly struggles with her own conscience on the occasion(s) she has done so.
        I would have preferred to see Sarah help Chuck with the moral issues of his own Red Test instead of manipulating him as she did. Just one more reason why S3 was a total disaster. I prefer to mostly ignore it, it simply doesn’t track well with the characters we’ve seen before and since.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I’m going to annoy a lot of people with this comment but Other Guy is one the few episodes of Chuck that gets worst the more I watch it. As a standalone episode it fine, maybe even great. As an “arc resolution” episodes, it blows.

        You’re trying to make sense out of 3.13 and you can’t because it’s not there. The only thing Other Guy does is put Chuck and Sarah together, nothing else. It doesn’t answer ANY of the questions about the foolishness that preceded it.

        The questions and comments above all comes back to the fact that there wasn’t enough set-up in the prior episodes for the DYLM scene (which I’ll grant is a sweet scene) to make sense or be the meaningful TV scene it’s supposed to be. Like most of the first 13 we are left to assume that it’s all been taken care of and all is good.

        I might even go as far as to say that he really “is NOT her Chuck”. He’s the Chuck who abandoned her on a train platform which should put him in the same category as all the other men in her life.

        You can’t resolve the first 13 into anything that makes sense to be used from Honeymooners onwards. You’ll give yourselves a headache.

        There seems to great pains being taken this season to make sure we understand the characters motivations. Whether we agree with them or not, well that’s another issue. In general I would say that the audience is perceiving the story the same way and not having to interpret or infer as much as was required last season. To this end TPTB should be commended.

      • joe says:

        Joseph: You’re trying to make sense out of 3.13 and you can’t because it’s not there. The only thing Other Guy does is put Chuck and Sarah together, nothing else. It doesn’t answer ANY of the questions about the foolishness that preceded it.

        That’s actually a reasonable stance, Joseph. The Other Guy feels good because it finally DOES put C&S together after so many years (and after so many false steps). Makes it easy to forgive it’s faults.

        And you’re right that it answers, well, few of the outstanding S3 questions. Personally, I can stretch just enough wiggle room out of it to answer a few (like Sarah’s apparent turn-around on “her Chuck”), so I won’t quite agree to saying that it answers no questions. But I understand the criticism.

        Still, the thing about Prague was to realize that was precisely “her Chuck” who turned her down. Chuck has been tempted to run with her too, but “her Chuck” isn’t trying to find the easy way out. “Her Chuck” wants to be with Sarah, but also always wants to do the right thing, even when there’s nothing in it for him. That’s the Chuck she fell in love with. He’s not at all like the other guys who would run away with her in a minute (and all three suggested that, IIRC).

        The running away stuff never works for them anyway; not in Prague, it didn’t when Chuck tried to do it again in Union Station and it didn’t work for them when they tried again in Paris.

        You’re right that we have to make a lot of assumptions about the issues that were brought up. It’s almost impossible to know what’s been taken care of, what remains to be dealt with and what they’re going to sweep under the rug. Frustrating.

        We react every time one of those issues comes back to bite them, too, like Sarah’s little outburst in FOD about Chuck’s not being a spy. That’s an issue that goes back to season 2!

        I don’t know if we’ll ever see all the answers. I doubt it, frankly. Certainly, there’s too many to be dealt with in one grand finale now. But I’m okay with the way a lot of the relationship issues between C&S have been working themselves out so far.

        I’m okay with the pace, anyway.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Wow!! Great discussions going on – both above and much further below. I picked a bad time to come down with fever and missed so much. 😦 Just caught up with a sum total of 120 comments/posts. It was an exhaustive but entertaining read. Thank you all. 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        2 things about the Red test have always bothered me. First of all Sarah put Chuck into a no win situation. If he does not kill the mole she tells him that he won’t be a spy and they can’t be together because of it. But if he does kill the mole then he will have changed so much that she no longer is in love with him and will run to the arms of the supposed perfect example of that person she could not love. There are no real options for Chuck. The other thing that bothered me a great deal was the fact that when he said he needed her to trust him that it wasn’t how it seemed to her, she said she didn’t. How after all that time could she not trust that Chuck was telling the truth? Because it didn’t fit into the plan for the episode that’s why. Plot holes galore.

        In Other Guy why didn’t she tell Chuck she was planning on going to meet him at the train station?

        Maybe I need to go back and read much of the commentary here from back then. You folks bring up some interesting points. I read some of the discussion of Fake Name and found it different than I expected. It is the only episode I truly hate. Mask never bothered me as much as Fake Name did.

      • atcDave says:

        Joseph it doesn’t offend me at all that you find Other Guy a mess. I think S3 is a fubar from Pink Slip on. Chuck doesn’t return to the show I love until Honeymooners. And since that starts with Chuck and Sarah trying their ill-conceived escape that they discussed in Pink Slip; we can almost ignore everything that happens between Ring and Honeymooners (okay not really, but the continuity is hardly worse than what we got anyway!).

        Uplink its safe to say Fake Name was not a loved episode, you’re in good company in not liking it. At this point I have no plans to ever re-watch most of S3. We all seem to have slightly different least favorites from that season; you’ll find very few people who will defend it very strongly.

      • thinkling says:

        Feel better Aladins 🙂 I guess brain bleach won’t help a fever.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, thanks I agree. I have said that the first 2 DVD’s from Season 3 will probably never see the inside of my DVD player again. DVD 2 definitely will not. Some day I’ll have to read this sites views on how the ending of Three Words was completely ignored thereafter. It is the only episode from that part of the season I like.

        But that being said Season 4 will probably get a lot of play. There really isn’t anything that really bothers me. Things could have been better certainly but generally I love it and it is now my favorite season and we have 14 more to go.

      • joe says:

        Genie, get some rest and feel better! The comments will be here when you get back!

        First of all Sarah put Chuck into a no win situation… There are no real options for Chuck. That’s absolutely right, Uplink. It was set up to show us that Chuck had lost Sarah to Shaw. We were supposed to be as despondent and confused as Chuck was.

        But Sarah’s words are often subject to, well, re-interpretation (remember her confession to Chuck under “truth serum”, no less, that they had no future together). Her actions are always a much more transparent.
        – she was about to shoot Longshore to stop him from taking Chuck to the bunker
        – she used the government mainframe to help Chuck find his dad
        – she disobeyed orders when Beckman ordered her to bring Chuck back to Castle for Casey to arrest)
        – she ran with him to find Chuck’s father in Barstow
        – she urges Chuck (even begs him) to not change to be a spy, then helps him all she can so that he can “help people” by being one.
        – she tries to get out of his way when she realizes that she is the one thing that preventing him from being that autonomous superspy he says he wants to be.

        Sarah does a lot of giving up is S3. I’m still haunted by the scene in Fake Name where we think Rafe has executed her. To my eyes, it looks like the moment when she’s not only given up on Chuck, but on everything, including herself.

        I think there’s a lot of truth in saying that S3 could have been better executed. At best there’s much that’s unresolved and unsettling, and there’s stuff that’s even inconsistent. A few of our regulars have insisted that we shouldn’t have to work so hard to make sense of what went on and they have a point.

        But at the same time, what we did see was wonderfully dramatic, led to some great things in the last part of the season and were more than a bit better than the fare we normally get on TV, on any other show. Well, in my opinion anyway, Uplink!

        We’re always in a mood to hear your opinion too, btw.

      • JC says:

        @Faith

        I don’t think the show intended for Sarah’s love to come off conditional but that’s how it does to me sometimes. I admit a lot of it is unresolved issues from S3 but I still see it in this season.

        And I have no problem with Sarah wanting to keep Chuck’s basic nature the same. But it doesn’t play out like that not since S2 at least. Being a spy unfortunately means getting a little dirty and I haven’t seen Sarah accepting of that yet. We know Chuck has seen her do some necessarily evil things over the years but he saw past it. We need to see something definite from Sarah on that front. That’s where I get the conditional vibe from.

        @Crumby

        I’ve talked about it before that TPTB want Chuck pure and innocent, the savior for the dirty spies. So they use other characters especially Sarah to keep him this way. This leads to the occasional bouts of condescending protectiveness of Sarah and Ellie. Or the the unintentional double standard/ conditional love that I see from Sarah. So its not so much Sarah created as it is the TPTB did and she has to enforce it.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually liked Three Words when it ran, but I later came to dislike it because the “maybe we can fix it” line seems to be a lie. I really only liked Angel of Death and Operation Awesome; which of course are mostly a separate arc and don’t really deal with Chuck/Sarah issues at all. Beard and Tic Tac were also better than the rest, and did no additional damage to my favorite characters; but they didn’t fix anything either, so my enthusiasm is only tepid for them. Other Guy is okay simply for ending it all, and finally getting things to where they should have started.

        If you read much at all you’ll see my S3 mantra, they ended where they should have started it. We usually separate S3.5 out from the rest, just because the back order episodes were really pretty good and felt more like the show most of us wanted to see.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks Joe and Dave great stuff. I agree that there are 2 different seasons. Up till Phase Three Honeymooners is my favorite all time episode. As perfect an episode as Chuck has ever made.

        Dave you brought up Beard, to me it is where the season changed and was saved for me. Chuck’s aha moment. Clear and definite. That is why I like it so much. We never really saw one for Sarah in season 3, it was murky and nothing that we can point to. Season 4 has shown us a huge one for her. “You’re right, I’m different without Chuck and I don’t like it”. More than in Honeymooners she can’t go back to the way things were “before this and before you” after that moment. I really like those moments for characters. We have seen them for Casey as well. I just wish they hadn’t waited till season 4 to give us Sarah’s.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        @Joe – “Still, the thing about Prague was to realize that was precisely “her Chuck” who turned her down.”

        I’ll be honest I never got that out of the first 2 episodes of last season. The subtleties of most of last season were lost on me. Perhaps they should have used a much larger club to hit me over the head. Which is also why I appreciate the “clearer” picture that is S4.

        Also, I think you’re correct in saying that we will likely never get answers to a lot of this stuff. I also feel that the “NO CHUCK, YOUR NOT” (which is a great moment of TV whether you agree with Sarah or not) will never come up again., which is a shame because the idea behind this outburst should be expanded upon.

        Also Joe, why did you start off the last podcast with “I’m high” ? 😀

      • JC says:

        I have to agree with Joesph. The fact that Chuck had to apologize for everything that happened in S3 and his comment in Honeymooners about he should have ran In Prague doesn’t fit.

        @Joe

        The thing is though both Chuck and Sarah’s motivations have been a mess since Ring PT1. Why did Chuck ever believe he couldn’t be a spy with Sarah? If Sarah didn’t want him to be a spy why not keep running in Honeymooners or quit after Ring Pt2. I want to see a deeper meaning in Sarah but all I see up until this season is a plot device.

      • joe says:

        Well, Joseph, if you start with “I’m JM (underscore) Buckley on Twitter…” and crash it together that with “Hi, Lou!”, you can really incriminate yourself! 😉

      • joe says:

        I have to agree with Joesph. The fact that Chuck had to apologize for everything that happened in S3 and his comment in Honeymooners about he should have ran In Prague doesn’t fit.

        True. But the fact that he apologized for Prague doesn’t mean he wasn’t right, JC! 😉

        Actually, I think that’s the point. It hasn’t been fruitful to look for who’s right and who’s wrong in S3 (or throughout the series, actually). C&S are both right and they’re both wrong and it’s always about how they find a path to be together.

        I’ll even go so far to say that the “every problem is solved in 60 minutes” routine of most every other show I can think of now seems simple-minded to me because of Chuck. Of course, you’re always entitled to say “Enough! This is too much and I am no longer entertained!” – it’s a very individual kind of thing.

        I’m a little surprised at myself, actually. I remember getting annoyed at Star Trek: DSN because it took a turn away from battling the alien of the week like the two previous series had, and went much deeper into a complex serialized story about the Cardassians and about the creatures on the other side of the worm-hole and a larger war that threatened the Earth.

        Most shows now have actually tried to combine both, with an overarching arc and a villain of the week story like Burn Notice and White Collar. It comes down to how well they carry off both aspects, and usually one of them suffers for the other.

        We’re particularly demanding about both, the Chuck fans are, I think.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree Joe. I think they do a good job (apart from S3!) of presenting a lot of issues where Chuck and Sarah both have a legitimate position (First Fight is a good example, easy to see both viewpoints). Ideally, in those situations, both parties should try to understand the other; and I think we have seen a pretty healthy relationship in that regard.
        I generally like the way Chuck combines episodic and serialized story-telling. I do prefer when the personal disputes are resolved more quickly. I remember well when DS9 added a more serialized overarching story, at the time I really felt it was due to pressure from Babylon 5 that was doing the same thing in a brilliant manner. Done correctly it adds a lot of interest to a weekly TV show. But it can get tiring if we feel like nothing ever gets completed. I would like to see some better continuity and follow through with the main arc stories on Chuck; but mostly I like how things have been handled.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I agree with you Joe, it is difficult to watch show in which “every problem is solved in 60 minutes”. I don’t mind Castle, Bones, NCIS, but these aren’t as engaging as Chuck.

        For some reason, probably since Lost, you see more and more newer shows trying the serial / episodic approach. Even Hawaii 5-0 has even gone to a more serial approach in the last few episodes and for me the show has gotten more interesting.

        I really need to catch up on Fringe from the start.

      • JC says:

        @Joe

        I see what you’re saying but that’s not how the show presented it. Chuck was the one to apologize for everything at the end of Am Hero because it was all his fault. Not once did you have Sarah take any blame for what happened or admit running away wasn’t the right choice.

      • We definitely could have used an apology from Sarah. I think her “I don’t want you to choose me over something that you want for yourself” is as close as we’ll ever get.

        They could have used an Ellie/Sarah discussion about fear of Chuck being a spy. Sarah saying that she didn’t want him to be a spy at first either, but in the end that’s just who he is and what he likes to do.

      • uplink2 says:

        But as with so much in this arc it was used as a plot device to delay all hint of redemption till 3.13. I do really wish they had included the deleted scene from that episode just before Sarah is shown in the cab in DC. It was probably one of the most powerful from that period. The choice that faced Chuck and his longing that Sarah would have walked through the archway instead of leaving. It was a touching, heartbreaking moment coupled with the real caring of a best friend. Those were honest emotions and lord knows there were too few of those in all of 3.1-3.13

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joe

        Thanks for the heads up. Looks like it will indeed be a busy week. 🙂

        I hope that gets us to Monday 17-Jan and Sarah’s “Hello, boys.” in fine style.

        Ahem! Not to disappoint you, but I am pretty sure we have to wait until 24-Jan for “Hello Boys”

    • herder says:

      Ernie, I was re-reading the JS/CF interview that they gave after Mask, one of the things that CF said struck me. He was talking about why Sarah would be with Shaw and he said at the end something to the effect that the fact that Shaw had just saved her life was important. It made me think of the end of Other Guy and the “you saved me” line, it’s almost as if the grand gesture allows Sarah to break through her emotional blockage. Personally I think it’s a poor personal quality.

      I think the was that Sarah is being written this year is much better. “I haven’t seen Chuck in forever”, “you’re my home”, “until recently I used to be just like her”, “no matter what the changes, the love is still there”, “it’s exhausting fighting with you, I hate it”. In this episode there is “you’re not doing this for me, for us are you?”.

      Rather than acting in response to what someone else does or wants, she is action on her own wants and needs. More importantly she is starting to think of her own needs as a relevant factor and something that is important to others (Chuck). I find this much more satisfying, not only for the result but for the process, this is a journey that I am enjoying unlike last year’s.

      • I was reading this interview a few days ago as well!

        A lot of things in there made me cringe even though it’s behind us now.

        Sarah’s journey is definitely more satisfying this season. I’d say it’s this way pretty much since Honeymooners. Her “I can’t fake this, not with you” or “I don’t want you to chose me over something that you want for yourself” were also very good.

      • atcDave says:

        Not to mention Chuck had previously saved Sarah’s life on several occasions. That was really lame reasoning from the start.
        I think its been observed here before; they entered S3 with a terrible concept, and then executed it poorly too. Sort of a perfect symmetry.

      • At least they didn’t have Sarah going to Casey after Fake Name! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        At least Casey would have been better judgement on her part… (and he probably wouldn’t have taken such advantage of her brokenness)

      • Yep, he did actually early on.

        “You fall for the men you work with.”
        “For the record, not interested sister.”

      • Faith says:

        Awhile back I wrote about Sarah, Chuck and MamaB and I talked about how Sarah has always been reactive as opposed to Chuck who is proactive. I agree with you wholeheartedly that part of Sarah has changed, and for the better. She’s literally going after her man, her life, her future.

    • Faith says:

      Ernie I want to object on so many things you’ve posted but I’ll stick with a quote from Sarah, “it’s different…than with you.” Agh! Ernie, you made me go back to season 3.0! Haha.

      I can buy the theory that what you can’t understand you fear/automatically blame. Seems like the CIA thing to do with their “relationship” but we’ve done this before. Hence my, “have they not been watching the same show we have for 4 years now?!” At some point you realize that that is not it and go from there. Sarah is not the rock and that logic never had any ground to stand on. In this episode in particular.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Faith, I agree with that take, and clearly it plays out that way in later episodes. My problem is that the way they executed Sham on the screen, the way it played out, Sarah pursued what was shown as a genuine romantic attraction and committed to and opened up to Shaw in a way she never did with Chuck. That was what they showed us, and as late as Subway, when Sarah’s breath catches and she says Daniel as she sees him alive, they are still showing Shaw as having been an important relationship to Sarah. That is a BIG execution and story problem with her character.

      • Joeeph (can't be Joe) says:

        I think the idea behind Shaw was to show something “comfortable and familiar”. What was presented on screen was a creepy, sexual predator who takes advantage of vulnerable women. NICE story.

        When Sham didn’t work the rest of the story fell apart. Think about it. The big reveal of Sarah having killed Eve, on which most of the plot depends, means very little (besides being VERY soap operaish) by the time we get to it. It was supposed to be this BIG story point, but hardly ever gets mentionned or discussed anywhere

      • jason says:

        faith / ernie – God forgive me, I am going to enter this foray.

        I think sarah walker had a type – that type – daniel shaw. The type was not born out of love, or lust, but out of mutual understanding of the sins of the past.

        With Chuck, Sarah did not WANT to be herself, to fess up to all the murders she committed, all the sucker punches she threw, all the manooshes she seduced, with Shaw, none of that mattered.

        The S3 show went out of its way to show all the bad parts of shaw & sarah that way, a 6 month seduction mission in Pink Slip, manoosh, shaw executing angie harmon, sarah not flinching at the rafe punch, shaw being ready to kill chuck, casey executing his old boss, and casey killing for chuck.

        Sarah gave up on striving to be good enough for Chuck, and was content to be herself, as sinful and flawed as she may be, with an equally flawed Shaw. Really, not that far out of reality, even for this universe – was it?

        But, our hero, chuck saved her from that life by the end of the arc, somewhat by his rescue, but more by his not giving up on her starting in 3×9. He saved her, and moved her back on path to being a real girl, something that was robbed from her at a very young age.

        For old farts like me, that is the hook of the Chuck Sarah story, not lust for the hot blond, but rooting for the cute little girl behind the hot spy chick, and hoping she makes it, that she gets saved forever by her unlikely hero, ‘her’ chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, I pretty much agree withy that angle, but the problem is, and the way it was shown, meant that Sarah Walker really WAS a bad person. She really was damaged goods. In the end Sarah Walker was ready to toss away the one good thing in her life and give up and be a spy. She was an emotional basket case, she really did end up sleeping with all her co-workers, and she wasn’t strong enough to do anything about it. In other words she was a totally helpless damsel in distress waiting for Chuck to save her. Now I think TPTB thought that would be great drama, show another side of Sarah and make her more sympathetic, but it wasn’t the character we thought we knew and loved. The unintentional damage is how does that make Chuck any different than Shaw or Bryce or Cole? (OK, I’ll give you Shaw). Chuck in season 2 can now be seen as just another in a long line of cute charming guys she fell for, except he was an asset instead of a spy. How is her getting together with Chuck once he becomes a spy any special thing after what we saw about her?

        Now to their credit the actors and writers lessened and avoided some of that, but to their even greater credit the new writers are taking what were the maddening overused plot devices and the Sarah damage and making them hooks for character growth.

        Sarah is an emotional basket case,always ready to run at the first sign of trouble rather than face her fears? That gives us Suitcase and Cubic Z where Sarah finally overcomes some of that. Chuck and Sarah never talk? That gives us Cubic Z and Coup d’Etat where they learn how to. Sarah was a bad person who had a lot of superficial relationships? That gave us Cubic Z and Coup d’Etat where Sarah realizes she’s grown, and is not that person anymore. This is part of the GENIUS this season. While growing the characters naturally they are also facing up to the “damage”, intended or not, that they did to the characters and story in season 3 for the sake of keeping the romantic leads apart for one more round of PLIs.

      • herder says:

        Jason, I think that you have got what they were going for, the failure is in the execution. I think that part of it goes back to TPTB misreading the reaction to Beefcake/Leathal Weapon. Generally Beefcake was not well received, Lethal Weapon was, both had Cole persuing Sarah.

        I suspect the lesson that TPTB drew from that was that people would be upset if the PLI made Chuck look bad (Beefcake) but that people would be ok if the PLI was helping Chuck (Lethal Weapon). So they thought that if Shaw was helping Chuck as a mentor then the pursuit of Sarah would be ok. This resulted in Chuck’s mentor being an incompetent spy needing Chuck to rescue him and almost killing him. If Shaw is an incometent spy though, why would Sarah be intersested in him as “her type”, a disconnect. Say what you want about them both Bryce and Cole Barker were much more competent than Shaw.

        The other misread was Sarah’s reaction, she seemed much more interested in Cole in Beefcake (poorly received) than in Lethal Weapon (well received). Sarah’s interest in Shaw continuing from 3.07 to 3.12 or 3.13 was much too long to drag the issue out over, with Cole it ended in the second episode of the arc.

        Finally there was the miscalculation of the fatigue with the whole PLI thing. There was some tolerance for them for an episode or two, but when there seemed to be no end in sight by the Beard, people started tuning out in droves.

        In a weird sort of way I do have some sympathy for TPTB in the sense that they must have had some concern going in that it would not be well received but they convinced themselves that the story was such that people would like it. With the reaction after Mask they must have had a terrible sinking feeling that things were going wrong and there was no way to right it at that point. I’d have more sympathy if they hadn’t been given ample signals that this was not the route to go but they decided that they knew better.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Nice try Ernie, but you’re not gonna get me to step back in that cluster…em quicksand ;-).

        Let’s just say that Sham is in the past, Mrs. Chuck Bartowski is the future. Woot.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, we probably posted about the same time, but you added a few things I meant to get to. I think you are right, TPTB DID realize they had a problem. I think right off the bat. My feeling was that the three episode premier was damage control. Can you imagine having to wait a week between Pink Slip and Three Words, and then another between Three Words and Angel of Death? You would have had the Mask/Fake name debacle right out of the gates. The problem was that the production lead time was HUGE and the budget meant no time or money to change it. It wasn’t even the end of January when a famously spoiler-phobic set and crew started leaking details about Honeymooners like a firehose, with actual shooting schedules and scene synopsis’s showing up on websites, and remarkably detailed casting notices giving away key details. As you said, they were warned, but as we learned more about their production schedule I think it is possible to believe they were in a production bubble most of the fall, and when they came up for air in December and saw what was going on, well I can imagine their first reaction involved an expletive.

        To their credit they basically went to the fans and asked for their patience, even if clumsily at times, and gave us what we told them we wanted in the end. I consider that sufficient apology, even before the season of GENIUS.

      • jason says:

        ernie – without going real philosophical on you (for an engineer & MBA, I studied philosophy back when Abe Lincoln was still president), all people are damaged – Sarah Walker IS damaged goods – recall the baggage handler line?

        What is special about Chuck and Sarah, is that Chuck (the hero) did not give up on her, even after she gave up on herself.

        cole, or bryce, or shaw, all 3 were really the same (shaw simply was worse as result of the length of time the audience had to endure, plus I don’t think the writers were into the story (the desert line ‘frosts’ me), plus I am not sure any of the actors liked the story other than maybe Zach.

        Why chuck is different? Because with Chuck, Sarah does not want to be an assassin, or a seductress, or possibly even a spy – she wants to be a girl – which leads to other inevitable possibilities, girl friend, fiancee, wife, and yep – mother.

        With Bryce, or Cole, or Shaw, she was more than content to be a spy – with all of the sins of the profession.

        Is it any wonder she was so freaked out with where chuck was heading in Season 3?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, I agree with all of what you say, but until it is past a certain point Sarah Walker, as a character, is damaged. When you draw that arc out, as they did, and backload any exposition on exactly who she is and what it is she’s going through, as they did, the damage can set in and become more permanent. IMO they were in such a rush to put Chuck and Sarah together that they forgot to give a lot of the exposition and show the damage repaired before simply making Shaw no longer an option for Sarah and having her back with Chuck. One of the things I liked best about Final Test was that they finally gave the context we needed to understand that story. What Sarah went through, and how Chuck couldn’t understand till now what she felt and why she was hurt and pushing him away. At the end of Final Exam we were ready to move on with that understanding. Then they proceeded to flog the dead horse one more time in American Hero where we are told once again that Shaw really is the hero, Sarah really does care deeply for him, and Chuck is the fallback when Shaw ostentatiously “gives” Sarah back as he leaves on a suicide mission.

        I’m good with the overall story, Chuck saving Sarah, her redemption, why he is special. But with the way it was presented and the amount of digging we have to do to wrest that story from the plot, not so good. Since I like to dig into the nuts and bolts what didn’t work or doesn’t is often as interesting to me as what does. So yeah, sometime I start a bit of an angstfest. Sorry Faith! 😀

      • uplink2 says:

        Wow you can’t go to sleep and keep up here. I don’t agree that Bryce, Cole and Shaw are the same. There is one key difference that shows alot about why Shaw is hated so deeply by many. What makes Bryce and Cole work in the end is that they were honorable men. In the end they saw the writing on the wall that Sarah was in love with Chuck and bowed out gracefully. Bryce in Ring 1, Cole in Lethal Weapon. Shaw didn’t. In fact he tried to use her love for Chuck against her and tried to discredit Chuck in her eyes with the taunting You blew it line in Fake Name. He proved to be nothing more that a sexual predator and scumbag.

        Also as far as Sarah’s “type” there is a huge difference in Chuck and the other “heroes” in her life. As we saw in the pilot Chuck is a hero because he does what he does because it it the right and kind thing to do. The others did it because it was their job. And Shaw even worse because his attempt at heroism we were beaten up side the head with was based on vengeance and not heroism. That is why Sarah asks Chuck why he was helping Shaw. She had never know someone to do the heroic thing not for themselves or their job but simply because it was the right thing to do FOR HER. Even if it meant he lost Sarah to Shaw or lost his life trying he was truly the hero of American Hero. That is what she fell in love with in the Pilot and what she re-affirmed in Hero. That is also why the Type comment in Mask doesn’t work. Those kinds of heroes are nothing alike.

      • First Timer says:

        @ernie:
        You know, now matter how many times you write “Chuck is the fallback when Shaw ostentatiously ‘gives’ Sarah back as he leaves on a suicide mission,” you can’t make that claim true.

        That was DEFINITIVELY NOT what was written for the characters. What actually happened was this:
        1) Chuck saves Shaw from his suicide mission.
        2) Sarah is still going to Washington because she “made a commitment, and not just to Shaw.”
        3) She is packing for Washington when Casey arrives and tells her that Chuck did not kill the mole.
        4) She then proactively chooses Chuck over Shaw. Shaw at this point is neither dead nor known to be a traitor. She chooses Chuck at that point over Shaw.
        5) After the phony cliffhanger, she chooses Chuck again when she goes to his apartment and does the “You’re still my Chuck” bit.
        6) She reassures Chuck of her choice AGAIN as she is about to go off on the Paris mission.

        You can like or dislike the Shaw arc and how the last few episodes especially were written. (I certainly dislike them.) But there is NOTHING to justify your claim that Chuck won Sarah by default. That is simply NOT how it is written.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, first welcome to the blog, as this is the first time I’m replying directly to one of your posts. Second, you raise some excellent points about why we didn’t see Shaw as a good guy from about First Class onward. Shaw knew very well that Sarah was in love with Chuck, still. He even remarks about it after the red test, yet every step of the way he puts making Chuck a spy ahead of her, her discomfort, or the possible emotional consequences to her, rationalizing it as the job. All the while he is trying to convince her to become romantically involved with him. He shows virtually no concern for her feelings by asking her to continually lie to and manipulate a man she is still in love with and whom she desperately wants to preserve as a decent and honorable man.

        The fact that Sarah lets him do so, does become involved with him anyway, and is ready to choose him over a “tainted” Chuck rather than offer so much as an apology to Chuck or show any anger toward Shaw makes Sarah truly pathetic.

        There is little chance of seeing Shaw in anything approaching a sympathetic manner, and they almost ruined Sarah Walker to the point where nobody would care about the romance before they allowed it.

        If you are interested in what some of our reactions were at the time I wrote three articles on Sham and the risks before it started; Geometry 101, Going In Circles Gets You Nowhere and Why Our Stories Matter.

        In fact if the topic interests you go to the right sidebar and scroll down to the Archives. From about February 2010 through April 2010 you can catch some pretty …(ahem)… lively discussion and a lot of great opinion pieces from everyone.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        FT, I wasn’t trying to claim it was the intent, just that the way things were presented there was real danger it could be seen that way, as with a lot of the problems we’ve seen with the execution. True, we sometimes forget that only certain characters have certain knowledge when we see everything. But there is another side to that. The execution of the way things are shown does matter. From the creative POV having Sarah choose Chuck proactively, after he basically gave her an ultimatum, was fine. Doing so only after the viewer KNOWS there is no possible future for her with Shaw is problematic.

      • uplink2 says:

        I will quibble with you on one point. Sarah was NOT packing to leave with Shaw when Casey showed up. She was going with Chuck and Casey just confirmed that her decision was the right one. There are 2 things that prove this to me.

        1. The picture on the night stand and the fact that it was clearly shown to be there when it wasn’t in the previous episode. Sarah put it there because it “makes her feel comfortable, safe” and always has. The directors of the show would not have focused on it being there unless it meant something. Very similar to Mama B’s hand on Chuck’s shoulder just before she shoots him checking for a vest and the shot of her seeing Chuck and Sarah holding hands in the elevator just before she ultimately saves Sarah for Chuck.

        2. I remember reading somewhere an interview with one of the writers and they said Sarah had made her decision to go with Chuck in castle. The lyrics to the song Down River prove that point as well.

        “Finally
        We have seen some things
        Some awfully nice
        Some dreadfully bad

        But we will sing
        Wash the blood, off our knees
        Cause our love breaks
        Through ruff seas, our ship will sail it

        I, don’t, understand
        How this world will work
        Cause time will tell us nothing
        I’ll take a chance on something”

      • uplink2 says:

        Thank you Ernie. I will. I read some of your comments that Joseph, the other one, posted on ChuckTV and I’d love to read your take and the other bloggers here on that time.

      • atcDave says:

        Man this has turned into another lengthy and complex thread.

        I want to comment on Herder and Ernie’s analysis of what went wrong with S3 and the attempted damage control. Mainly just to say I agree with and appreciate all your comments; I do think before the actual season premier they knew they had a problem and getting the first three aired quickly was deliberate (and not entirely successful given the number of viewers I know who quit with Pink Slip). Breaking at Mask had to be seen as bad fortune in spite of their brave words leading up to it. Remember the damage control we saw during the Olympics? Extended, and misleading previews that lead us to believe the Chuck/Sarah dynamic would be mended before the finale.

        I don’t agree in a couple areas (I know, you guys are shocked, right?). For starters I have no sympathy for them getting into this mess. Fan reaction was so clear and overwhelming from Colonel through Comic-Con, a different direction could have been chosen at any point in there. This is where I usually throw out the word hubris; I am convinced doomed and unfounded professional pride is the start of everything that went wrong with S3. Apparently JS ran into exactly the same problem on his other production, Gossip Girl, and fans of that show were equally unamused with his over use of the wt/wt game (triangles in particular). He is obviously far more enamored of that story telling technique than a majority of viewers.
        I also part with Ernie some in acceptance of what “they were trying to do.” I think too much of the S3 arc was going to depend on re-defining the characters we had come to know, like, and respect for two seasons. Especially Sarah Walker, she becomes a far more damaged character in the course of making the whole spy world darker. It simply doesn’t go with the heroic character that was popular with so many fans. Its one thing to show Chuck helping her come to grips with a normal life and relationship; another entirely to turn her into a pretty bad person who needs to be redeemed from a sordid past. I just don’t think many viewers who enjoyed the first two years of the show would ever enjoy that story.

        And Uplink, you hit the nail on the head; it is a dangerous thing around here to go to bed. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve spent a couple hours just catching up in the morning (or early afternoon; I’m really not a morning person!)

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, an epic post deserves some epic discussion, doesn’t it? After all, how many posts have not only their own soundtrack but a haiku synopsis from the arguably most verbose writer on the blog. 😀

        I want to add one more thing. You are probably right. I think it’s pretty well established you said there was virtually no way to pull off the PLI thing again. I hedged and said it was risky, but since it seemed TPTB were determined to go that way I’d defer to their story. Based on the damage to Sarah mostly, I’m not sure there was a way to keep her sympathetic while having her choose someone else over Chuck. In any case I’ve made my peace with the story if not, as I’ve said, particular episodes.

        As far as hubris, you’re probably right there too, but then they have spent sufficient time chewing their humble pie, so I choose to forgive that too.

      • atcDave says:

        Believe it or not Ernie I’ve largely made my peace with S3 too. I’m completely at peace saying I don’t like it; but I love the show again since Honeymooners.

      • joe says:

        For old farts like me, that is the hook of the Chuck Sarah story, not lust for the hot blond, but rooting for the cute little girl behind the hot spy chick, and hoping she makes it, that she gets saved forever by her unlikely hero, ‘her’ chuck.

        Well said, Jason. I share a lot of those sentiments, and agree with a lot of what you said above about S3.

      • atcDave says:

        By the way Ernie, I agree about the show runners eating humble pie. And I actually do appreciate the efforts they have made. I’m of the forgive but don’t forget philosophy on this. I am happy that they have made good and delivered the show I always hoped for, and I do give them credit for making the changes I most wanted them to. But I also can only hope they have really learned their lessens, and don’t get some screwy idea about returning to their old ways after playing nice for a while.

      • JC says:

        I do think another round of LI could have worked with some changes. Had Bomer been available using might Bryce might have angered people but it would have been believable. The other thing that was needed was real viable option for Chuck, not another civilian.

        Since they couldn’t use Bomer they should have made Shaw female and a legitimate alternative to Sarah. Then give Sarah another normal guy or asset as a LI. Show that Chuck and Sarah actually love each other not what they represent.

        Part of me believes they thought that people would sympathize with Sarah throughout the arc and that would carry her through until the Red Test reveal. What killed that idea was the whole arc relied on being told things not shown them. Everyone said Chuck was changing but we really never saw it, the same with Shaw being a great spy. If I’m not seeing the same things as the characters I can’t buy into what they’re going through.

        The biggest flaw was they made me question why they would want to be with each other. Lets be honest after Fake Name that would have been the end of any romantic relationship except in a soap opera. Then you had the ending of Final Exam and beginning of Am Hero. IMO that killed Sarah’s character and made any reconciliation unbelievable. By making it out that she wouldn’t be with a tainted Chuck made Sarah’s love come off conditional to me. And that still hangs over the relationship even in this season.

      • atcDave says:

        JC I don’t believe another round of LIs could have worked after Colonel, period. I do however, agree that Bryce would have been less offensive than Shaw. We already believed he was a good spy, good friend, good partner, and had a history with Sarah. I wouldn’t have liked it, and I think most fans wouldn’t have liked it; but i don’t think it would have left the foul taste and damaged Sarah’s character in quite the same way Shaw did.

        I also disagree about Sarah as a viable romantic interest. I think the first two years of show history were more than enough to justify Chuck’s continuing interest in her. I’m also a big fan of forgiveness and redemption based story lines, so I actually really like the “love conquers all” story line and Chuck and Sarah finally getting together. But I do really wish we’d had Sarah apologize at some point for her foolishness, her lack of faith in Chuck, and the hurt she caused him (for the record, Chuck owes Sarah a similar apology for Prague and Hannah). But the way things stand now, I’m content to say Chuck and Sarah have dealt with those things off-screen and let’s never speak of them again.

      • I do think that another round of LIs could have worked. But…

        For that we needed a more convincing thing to separate Chuck and Sarah than the Prague incident. At the time, it felt just OOC to me, foolish, and really plot device-y.

        Then they shouldn’t have let us believe they were going to fix things, in Three Words, Angel de la Muerte and Op Awesome, just to through at us First Class, Mask, and argh, Fake Name.

        This LI thing was really badly written in every possible aspects.

        If they had come up with something more believable as the reason for Chuck and Sarah to not be together, I don’t know maybe do something crazy like actually explain to us on screen what was going on.

        Then really stated that they both wanted to be just friend, that they were moving on, and kept them as partners on screen.

        And then gave them legitimate LIs. Maybe that would have worked.

        There were so many things that didn’t work it’s a combination of everything, but I don’t blame the LIs thing or the darker tone. Those could have worked if properly done. It was just badly written and executed.

        Take this year for example. I whish they’d do something better with Ellie and Awesome, with the Buy More, with Greta, with Beckman. I also think they re-hash a little bit too much of the same things about CS. The resolutions to the angst they’ve done from AOT to Phase Three didn’t really satisfy me. But as a whole, it works. Because it’s pretty well done, and so it’s fun and entertaining.

        There were a lot of fun aspects to S3, but the general feeling wasn’t good, because it was badly handled.

      • JC says:

        @Dave

        I agree with you that Colonel should have been the end of LIs. They could have told the story of S3 and used the spy world to keep them separated romantically.

        What I was getting at is if they were going to use LI again they needed to change it up, instead of spy and petite brunette for three straight seasons. The show has never given Chuck a real choice other than Sarah and not to explore that last season was a big mistake. It still might not have been well received but I think it would have played better then another rehash.

        I do disagree with Sarah as a viable interest. Like I said Fake Name and Final Exam/Am Hero killed her character and any believability in a romance between her and Chuck. I know I’m in the minority with that but they went too far in my eyes. And after those episodes I really stopped caring about them as a couple.

        As for the apologizing Chuck did at the end of Am Hero but nothing from Sarah.

      • thinkling says:

        @JC

        From a realistic standpoint, not that that ever applies, there’s no point in even talking about American Hero or Final Exam. There was no way back to a relationship from Prague on, after Chuck dumped Sarah. That would have been the end.

        I’m probably in the minority, but when assigning blame, I put the healthier portion at Chuck’s feet. He dumped Sarah in Prague, rebuffed her offer of friendship by bedding Hannah in record time … then flaunted it.

        That said, I agree with Dave that love and redemption are strong, appealing themes. They are also the ONLY road back from utter brokenness, which is where Chuck and Sarah were by the end of the misery arc.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        You got to love circles and that too endless ones. 😉 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Crumby I really strongly disagree. Virtually every single one of the more casual viewers I know were very happy with Colonel; and even professional media critics were saying the time for wt/wt had passed summer of 2009 (Mo Ryan specifically). I think advancing Chuck and Sarah as a committed couple was the ONLY way to keep most viewers happy from the start of S3. Other things they could have done would have been less damaging than what they did, but only putting Chuck and Sarah together was going to work for most viewers (I’m really pretty sure about that).

      • atcDave says:

        Well JC, I agree with the first part of your comment.

        To me, Sarah is such a strong and appealing character from the first two seasons I could see forgiving even more than what all happened. Even if I think it never should have gone as far as it did.

        I’ll shock everyone by agreeing with Thinkling on this, and saying I see Chuck as to blame for starting the season long downward spiral for both characters. Chuck’s “apology” at the end of American Hero was far to vague for my preference; Prague and Hannah required a specific and more profound apology than what we saw; but I will grant it was better than Sarah apologizing for nothing. But as I said, I’m content to just drop it now and move forward; I can assume the characters had the appropriate conversation off-screen.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        BLAME GAME FTW!!

        For the record, I blame TPTB. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Gene, ultimately I do blame TPTB for delivering a story that painted both lead characters in an ugly light. First and foremost it’s bad story-telling and poor entertainment.

      • I don’t think it’d had been satisfying, but if done properly, it wouldn’t have ruined all the fun like it did. But I get your point about Colonel.

        But, even if they hadn’t gone for the LIs again, I disagree that after Colonel they could only have put them together.

        Having them separated, without LIs could have worked for me. Like JC said: they could have told the story of S3 and used the spy world to keep them separated romantically. I think there were things to do between them as Chuck became a spy and before getting them together for good.

        My point was that I just don’t think the season was that bad because CS weren’t together, and it annoys me that a lot of people (not you Dave, or anybody here really) just simplify this to Chuck and Sarah, or the LIs, or the darker tone.

        It wasn’t the problem IMO. The problem was the season was poorly written and executed from the start, they used plot devices after plot devices, damaging most of the characters to a point were we just didn’t like them anymore (it wasn’t just Sarah, I was annoyed with Chuck pretty much until Beard) and ruined all the entertainment with it.

        If they wanted to go with the WT/WT thing again, then so be it. 2 seasons and a half isn’t that much for WT/WT thing. But they needed to do it better.

        But I get your POV Dave, I don’t think we’ll agree on this 😉 .

      • uplink2 says:

        My take on the whole apology thing is that we never saw it and never will because it would come off as TPTB apologizing for taking us down that road so poorly. It was the wrong idea done poorly which made it much worse.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Crumpy

        I can agree with your assessment as one of the things that I really hated about Fake Name was Chuck flaunting that he got laid in front of Sarah and then turned into a complete schmuck to Hannah by breaking up with her the very same day in front of her parents. He was made to look like a total A-hole. I had no sympathy for him either because he had become just another scumbag.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        one of the things that I really hated about Fake Name was Chuck flaunting that he got laid in front of Sarah

        Ahem! The presence or absence of a comma indeed makes a huge difference. 😉 🙂

        Uplink, please don’t take this personally – but I saw an opportunity for a joke and I couldn’t resist. 😀

      • @uplink2

        He also kicked Sarah in that episode!

        Nothing was right in Fake Name, really.

      • atcDave says:

        Hah! Proof things could have been even worse than they were!

      • uplink2 says:

        Gene, to paraphrase Morgan, “I love a little back and forth, pure Ross and Rachael.” 🙂

        As far as this season they are making some of the same mistakes but because the highs are so great the lows seem more acceptable. I agree that they still need to work on it but when they create almost perfect episodes like First Fight and Phase Three the plot device issues like in FOD or AOT don’t seem so bad.

      • I loved that Friends reference! 😉

        There is definitely no comparison between S4 and S3. And even if I complain about plot devices, I do recognize that I’ve been enjoying this season A LOT. Most of it is pure fun.

        I just don’t want them to do the same mistakes.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I had always hoped that Chuck WOULD have gone to dark side (at least dark for Chuck), especially after Fake Name and that Sarah would have had to be the one to “bring him back”.

        I still think the name reveal would have sucked but it would have been the start of the dark spiral for Chuck but also the kick in the pants Sarah needed, ater seeing how much she hurt Chuck.

        Thus having Sarah being the “human” one saving Chuck the “spy”, allowing both characters to find redemption and meet in the middle.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Oops, hit Enter too quick.

        This would have allowed both characters to rediscover themselves and the other and make DYLM meaningful.

        It like Ernie said, Chuck had plently of time to rediscover his love for Sarah. Sarah also needed more time to fall for “her Chuck”.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not a fan of dark stories, but I would agree Joseph, that your version would likely have been more palatable than what we saw.

      • uplink2 says:

        Actually Joseph they did send Chuck to the dark side after Fake Name and have Sarah bring him back in TicTac. It was very brief but it was Sarah coming in that stopped him from killing the the baddie in Casey’s fiance’s home while on the Loudonol (sp?)

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        This is true, but instead of using this to have Sarah start and “solve” Chuck (there’s some parts missing, I know), thus redeeming herself, it was used to push Sarah further over the edge for another 3 episodes.

      • uplink2 says:

        But as with so much in this arc it was used as a plot device to delay all hint of redemption till 3.13. I do really wish they had included the deleted scene from that episode just before Sarah is shown in the cab in DC. It was probably one of the most powerful from that period. The choice that faced Chuck and his longing that Sarah would have walked through the archway instead of leaving. It was a touching, heartbreaking moment coupled with the real caring of a best friend. Those were honest emotions and lord knows there were too few of those in all of 3.1-3.13

        Sorry posted this in the wrong area. Finding the replay button for each thread is hard when its a long one

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah no doubt. And we’ve been setting some records recently for lengthy threads!

      • JC says:

        In Tic Tac like every example of the show trying to tell us Chuck was losing himself it didn’t play out on screen that way. Yes Chuck almost killed someone in that episode while outnumbered and in the process of protecting Casey’s family. The only way the story worked was to give Sarah selective amnesia.

        Those same reasons are why Fake Name failed. Watching Sarah whine about Chuck changing while not seeing it and than having her move on with someone who was a psychopath made her look like a hypocrite.

        I wanted to see a dark Chuck but instead we got Chuck being a hero while Sarah blew his actions out of proportion.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        Let me say this to you in good humor- It’s a quagmire, and a nasty one at that. 🙂 I have been waiting for some Season 4 discussion (that was my lame attempt at steering the discussion back to S4) 🙂
        Which reminds me – I hope we get a speculation thread for 4×11 soon – I know it’s a bit early but still 🙂 (looking at Joe et al)

      • JC says:

        No worries Genie, I’d much prefer to talk about S4 but it seems like the all of the conversation has been about S3 of late. Its not surprising since FOD felt like a S3 episode in some ways.

      • joe says:

        A spec post on 4.11! Sure thing, Genie.

        We have a full card coming up this week. Faith and I will put up our review of Phase Three tomorrow, but I’m really hoping people will take the time to re-watch when it’s broadcast tomorrow evening before tearing into what we have to say 😉

        And then later this week Thinkling and I are reviewing Leftovers. That leaves Faith’s Friday Fanvid and our group review (minus Amy, sadly, as she’s away serving our country) of the first part of S4 for the weekend.

        Perhaps that’s a great time also to do some speculations on where we’re going, and on Balcony (4.11) in particular.

        I hope that gets us to Monday 17-Jan and Sarah’s “Hello, boys.” in fine style. Of course, this group is quite capable of generating 350 comments on any given post. (Really. Such energy!)

      • uplink2 says:

        I’ve been wondering if Balcony was the episode that was supposed to have the engagement prior to the back order. Seems like its sort of a TicTac sort of episode without the actors from the main arc. The story seems to be interesting with Chuck’s attempts to create the right location, France, possibly a train etc. Something from their past together. Of course there will be some issue with the mission getting in the way but it will be fun.

        And sorry about steering a lot of the conversation to Season 3 and the dark time. I’m new to this group and am interested in your views of it. I also like the challenge of how bright and thought provoking many of the discussion are. I realize I have to be on my toes in what I write and its great.

        Is there someplace on the site where I can read or post some random questions? I’d like to hear you folks take on a lot of little things about the show. Stuff like whether having Lisa on the Tron poster was a mistake by the writers/graphics department. The focus on the picture in Hero etc. Sarah’s sister etc

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Re-posting since I got it in the wrong place the first time. 😦

        Joe

        Thanks for the heads up. Looks like it will indeed be a busy week. 🙂

        I hope that gets us to Monday 17-Jan and Sarah’s “Hello, boys.” in fine style.

        Ahem! Not to disappoint you, but I am pretty sure we have to wait until 24-Jan for “Hello Boys”

  14. joe says:

    Wow – am I behind. I have to apologize to everyone for being so quiet these past few days (and thank you, Amy, Dave, Ernie, Faith & Thinkling for taking up the slack). Some of you know that one of my pet cats was in crisis this week – she died overnight. Not to make too much of it, but reviews have not been on my mind of late. You know – it’s never easy.

    What a great analysis. I’ll admit, it hasn’t been easy to see through the emotional maze, and with FOD we’re deep in the heart of it. But until I get my thoughts more organized, I want to say what you’ve brought to mind.

    First of all, since Cubic-Z I’ve been asking myself the question: “Are Chuck & Sarah ready for the next step?” If that’s marriage, the answer, at the beginning of the season, anyway, would probably have to be no. Chuck was right; he’s “barely on solid food” emotionally speaking, and his insecurities are a big part of that. Sarah’s reluctance, unwillingness or inability to actually say the words she thinks Chuck has heard (as in, “I love you.”) is a measure of her reservations. “But you’re NOT a spy!” is like a long suppressed emotion spewing up from the depths. I think it surprised her, too.

    Don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I believe this is the the last time we’ll be answering “no” to my question. They’re both growing rapidly as a couple, and the last step is a large one.

    Heh. Stupid stick. I love it. Rye grabs it early and often, though, much more than Chuck. (In passing, I want to note that even without the Intersect, Chuck is much braver routinely than he was just two seasons ago. He rose to the occasion after reflexively cowering back then. Now he reacts to guns in his back with calm disdain. He’s seen it all before!) One of the genius aspects of S4 is that Rye makes you laugh, then he annoys, then he takes a dive out the gondola. Rye was around just long enough to make me smile at his memory and not a minute more. Well done!

    Oh, I had a thought on that psychological rock. Rye thinks it’s Sarah and he convinces Chuck too (the idiot!) I believe this is a complete red-herring. We don’t know it after this episode, but we do after Phase 3 that even with Chuck fully, consciously and subconsciously confident in Sarah, the Intersect does not come back. Something else is supressing it.

    Faith, I love the line “Dysfunctional is good.” Very Gordon Gecko! It’s true, too – witness the dysfunctional NCIS family.

    But unlike Tony, Ziva, kid brother Tim and father Leroy-Jethro, the fans want to see Chuck & Sarah and the rest become fully functional – at least, I do. We’re impatient for that, even, which is why it’s so easy to label Chuck’s insecurities, Sarah’s nearly autistic reticence and Rye’s professional arrogance as stupid.

    Hope that’s not too rambling!

    • That’s a good point about that psychological rock: We don’t know it after this episode, but we do after Phase 3 that even with Chuck fully, consciously and subconsciously confident in Sarah, the Intersect does not come back. Something else is suppressing it.

      And Chuck “kinda” flashed in the gondola, but something was keeping the flash from coming or something.

      • herder says:

        Interesting in the two approaches, Riggle tried to get Chuck to flash by appealing to his own self-interest ie pain avoidance, fear of death. The Belgian tried to get him to flash by having the people he cared about to push him (subconciously) to flash, appealing to Chuck’s nature to please others, especially Sarah.

        Also interesting that neither worked, maybe Sarah in danger would have worked, maybe not.

      • Sarah in danger probably would have worked by it was Sarah’s turn to do the saving! 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Actually I think nothing but the laptop would have worked.

        We all sort of knew that, but of course, we went along for the entertainment of watching the CIA try to figure out Bartowski genius.

        They’ve never understood the Intersect. Why should they start now? Chuck was desperate enough to try anything to get his life back (that sounds familiar). Sarah loves Chuck either way (which is why she wants to make sure he’s not doing this for her/them), but she wants him to be happy so she goes along, to a point. She draws the line at death therapy, which is what it would have been were it not for the enemy.

    • atcDave says:

      Sorry to hear about your cat Joe.

      You know I’m of the opinion Chuck and Sarah have been ready for marriage since Paris. I think its about the commitment, not solving any particular problems first. There will always be more problems; its the commitment to solving them together that makes a good marriage, not any particular level of accomplishment. But regardless of where we think they were at the start of the season; we not only are seeing that high level of commitment now, but they both see it in each other too.

      • The thing is they had some stuff to work out about commitment specifically.

        Would you have seen Sarah say “Yes I want to marry you, but don’t bother giving me a drawer I keep my hotel room and my suitcase.”

      • atcDave says:

        Crumby the problem I have with some of the issues that have come up in Role Models and Suitcase (and elsewhere) is that in Honeymooners they were ready to run away together. To me, that is a marriage. They were ready to commit to being together whatever else the world might throw at them. It just makes all the subsequent issues secondary and silly.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the show ever since. But I will always see Honeymooners as the true point of no return; they’ve been ready for marriage since they took their first faux vows on the train together.

      • I agree they’ve been committed to each other since then. But they also were in their “Honeymoon” period, so not to rush was wise IMO.

        And they were ready to run away because they thought they had no choice. So basically, it was being together or not being to together. I think it’s a different decision when there’s no pressure and you’re just living you’re everyday life. I like the idea of Sarah wanting to get married to Chuck for no other reason than she wants to. And there’s always the Morgan’s custody of to take into account… 🙂

      • herder says:

        How does that work, between the Awesomes and the Charleses the loser gets custody of Morgan, or does Casey take over. On a more serious note, Chuck and Sarah knew from Honeymoon that this was a serious relationship (I always disliked the “dating exclusively” tag) and probably could have got engaged then (shades of Jim and Tammy-Fae Baker, proposing on the first date, look how that turned out) but they weren’t ready for marriage.

        Truth is I don’t mind the delay, it’s not annoying to me in the way that wt/wt was, I’m enjoying the various aspects of the relationship although it does get a bit much at times. Suprisingly enough I don’t even mind if the proposal is delayed a few episodes beyond 4.13.

      • atcDave says:

        Traditionally the honeymoon period comes AFTER the wedding.

        Oh well, not that big a deal. It has been a fun ride ever since. And custody of the Morgan is clearly an important and complicated issue…

      • First Timer says:

        @atcdave:
        One of the few things I’ve actually liked about Season 3.5 and Season 4 is that they drew a pretty clear distinction between the “Chuck, we’re running away together” Sarah in Honeymooners and her stuttering adjustment to life as a real girl.

        I can’t tell if the writers thought this out, but consider:
        –Sarah would KNOW about running away and living on the run. That would come naturally to her character since they’ve portrayed her as living a rootless life as a spy. To her, running away with Chuck would have been just an extension of the life she’s already lived.
        –Sarah would NOT KNOW about the traditional boyfriend-girlfriend stuff, the little steps like “going steady,” moving in together, sharing a common, rooted place that is “home.” (admittedly, the suitcase thing was over-the-top…)

        So when the flip, matter-of-fact, Sarah who could calmly say, “Chuck, we’re running away together,” turns into the baby-steps Sarah of a “traditional” relationship, I see some clever writing and real thought on the part of the showrunners…

        That’s my take, anyway.

      • I’m not sure that the writers really thought this through (thank you S3), but I definitely like your take First Timer!

      • joe says:

        Great insight, FT. It’s interesting that Chuck, too, had a habit of running away – it’s not foreign to him either. That’s what his stagnation in the Buy More after the setback in Stanford was all about; running away from adult responsibilities.

        It’s a romantic notion, and Chuck has his romantic side. But even though it’s been tempting for them, running away was never in the cards. It wasn’t in Prague, it wasn’t in Union Station and it wasn’t in Paris.

      • atcDave says:

        I do get that, and I even acknowledge it’s been pretty well done. But I am very traditional, and I will always prefer to see marriage before certain other things. I can have a good time with the story regardless, but I do miss older conventions.

      • thinkling says:

        I’ve thrown my hat in with Dave on marriage many times and will again. I believe commitment should lead intimacy, not the other way around. So, I would have been fine (and so would Chuck & Sarah) if they had stopped at a chapel on the way to the train station. I also recognize that’s not a story that’s likely to be told on television any more, so I have enjoyed what they have given us.

        In light of what we’ve seen on the screen, I agree with First Timer. That was pretty much my analysis of Sarah and her suitcases, in our Suitcase rewatch. I’ve really enjoyed Sarah’s real-girl growth, the poignancy and the humor of it. Considering Sarah’s life, it’s no surprise that she would find packing and running easy and moving in and staying daunting.

    • mxpw says:

      For me, I can’t accept that Chuck and Sarah are ready to marry until they’ve settled the family issue. And by that, I mean, do they want one or not? I personally believe no couple should ever get married until they’ve firmly decided, together, how they feel about children. And right now, what we’ve seen on screen indicates that Chuck and Sarah are in different places when it comes to that issue.

      Not only that, but do they realize that having kids almost certainly means leaving the spy life? More importantly, does Sarah realize what having children will mean to her apparent love of being a spy?

      I personally find it bizarre that in a season all about family, and specifically about a mother that abandoned her children for the sake of a mission, that having their own family if they get married has barely come up. You’d think that’d be something that would be pressing heavily on both their minds, especially Chuck’s.

      Until they settle this issue, I’m not sure it will bother me that much if the engagement is pushed back indefinitely.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t know, my wife and I agreed it wasn’t important; whatever happens, happens. Fourteen years later and we have no regrets.

      • jason says:

        I think you are on the right track mxpw, I am guessing (along with many others) the next ep or two sarah is going to be more spy like again, and probably hurt chuck’s feelings in the process, I think the comparison to mary will get sarah back on track, and the birth of awesomette. I also suspect, sarah will have the tables turned a bit in terms of watching chuck in a successful seduction mission in 3×14, which may bring sarah to near tears – might even have to amend NSNL to NSNLNSM – ie no secrets, no lies, no seduction missions

        I am not in love with s4’s genius, I would much have preferred a nicer, happier path taken since the honeymoon episode, but right now TPTB are in the process of wiping out objection by objection, 1 or 2 episodes per objection, I think they could go on forever if they chose, TPTB really seem to like playing the relational shell game with the fans, a warning, at some point, the huckster becomes boring, and the carnival audience moves on

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree with part of that Jason, I would prefer they had just taken a more fun ride and worried less about relationship “issues”. I think it diminishes the entertainment value somewhat to take such things too seriously. I certainly don’t need to watch Chuck and Sarah hash over everything that real couples deal with, and I hope they skip the pre-marital counseling episodes as well.

      • atcDave says:

        And we all know a real couple must talk about how many meals a week they eat in vs. out; and what their respective spending allowances will be; and how many nights Chuck can spend gaming with Morgan; and who vacuums and does the laundry…

        Heaven forbid if we miss those discussions.

      • mxpw says:

        @atcDave – Presumably, your wife and yourself are a “normal” couple, and not one where your parents abandoned you because of their chosen profession or were so involved in the spy life that they couldn’t leave it.

        And also, you and your wife presumably don’t work jobs that require you to be away from your home for months at a time or risk your life on a daily basis. I would hope they’d consider what being a spy might mean to any potential kids they might have.

        It kinda perplexes me that you think Chuck and Sarah, with their familial histories, shouldn’t talk about if they want a family or not. Especially since they are NOT on the same page. At least you and your wife discussed it, Chuck and Sarah haven’t even done that, which was my point.

      • atcDave says:

        Well that’s not really my point, sorry if I confused the matter with irrelevant data.

        Mainly I see the show as entertainment and I have no expectation of (or desire to) know all their discussions and issues. I’m content to assume they’ve had the appropriate discussions, and really would prefer to assume that. The minutia of the relationship are better served by fan fiction, keep the show itself fast and fun.
        Now I’m okay with it if we get a brief conversation at some point, especially with a baby awesome on the way it might be fitting. But I have no pre-condition or expectation on the subject.

      • mxpw says:

        @atcDave – I guess I just don’t see how in a season that is supposedly all about family, you think Chuck and Sarah talking about family is unimportant and minutia. That seems completely contradictory toward the main theme of this season.

        Honestly, by that criteria, I’d consider all of the relationship stuff that ever comes up between them is mostly minutia and should never be mentioned. Which would make for a pretty boring and uninteresting couple, in my mind.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I think I’ve said here many times before I do find most of it uninteresting. I would prefer the show spent far less time on such things and focused on the spy plots and character based humor. I would like to simply see Chuck and Sarah as partners and a team without the weekly relationship issue at all. I loved seeing the way they worked together in Suitcase (apart from the suitcase itself!) or Couch Lock. The major trust issue broached by the end of Aisle of Terror and played out through Phase 3 was appropriate and what I do want to see (on occasion, not every week!). But the issue du jour like unpacking suitcases and round 4 of Sarah’s commitment issues is old and boring to me. I would rather have a good laugh and watch my favorite team take out another set of ridiculous villains.

      • thinkling says:

        @mxpw: I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, in part, I agree with you. But I would remind anyone who may have forgotten that it isn’t marriage, per se, that produces children. 😉

        By your reasoning, and this is sound advice, they should also steer clear of the supply closet until they decide this issue.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny and true Thinkling.

        As I said a ways back; I think they’ve shown the required level of commitment since Honeymooners. I’m okay with the details being worked out off screen, or one issue at a time. I’m sure you’ve all realized my default setting is; if you’re sleeping with someone you ought be married to them. I know, dreadfully counter-cultural. But I would point out most studies indicate that those with a similar viewpoint enjoy longer and happier marriages. I am enjoying the show this season very much, but the old curmudgeon in me will always fall back on saying they ought to be married by now…

      • mxpw says:

        @Thinkling – Heh, I’m not saying they should stop having sex or anything like that. Accidents or unplanned pregnancies happen all the time. That’s fine (and if it did happen, they would still have to discuss what they plan to do). But as long as that hasn’t happened yet, and they still plan to get married, they should at least discuss the issue. Especially since the last time it was brought up, Sarah seemed fairly uncomfortable and wary of the idea.

        With their family issues and the jobs they do, it just seems a bit weird to me neither one of them has really thought about it. I mean, they’ve been leaning on the similarities between Sarah and Mary pretty hard this season, how has it not occurred to Chuck at least once to wonder, how has the issue of family and what having one would mean while they are in the business they are in, not popped up?

        That’s what I’d like to see. That seems far more important to their relationship than another trip on the seduction train.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        If I were a betting man I’d give odds that some time after the birth of baby awesome the issue will come up along with some rather comic scenes of Sarah holding a baby, probably for the first time in her life.

      • herder says:

        mxpw, if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that that issue will come up probably in 4.12 and/or 4.13. It looks like Sarah is spending time with Mama B in 4.12 and the issue of how Mary could leave her kids. Also there is supposed to be a bit with everyone suggesting names for the Awesome child, if Chcuk and Sarah participate then that should get them thinking. Finally the birth of the Awesome child, again a hint with the subtlety of a sledge hammer that if they are thinking marriage this sort of thing is likely to follow.

      • joe says:

        @Dave: I know, dreadfully counter-cultural.

        Oh my. My urban dictionary is way out of date, it seems.

        I’m with you and Thinkling 100%. And this is coming from a hippy-wannabe from the ’60s! 😉

      • mxpw says:

        @herder – Yeah, I’m hoping that the birth of baby Awesome is what inspires a conversation between Chuck and Sarah about family. It’s one of the reasons why I think the engagement has been pushed into the back span of episodes. I guess we’ll see. I just hope they don’t ignore this issue entirely.

        Also, “subtlety of a sledgehammer?” Nice! I may just steal that for my own use, heh.

      • thinkling says:

        I know we’ve explored these woods before, Dave, and blazed the same trail and tripped over the same roots. 🙂

        Actually, mxpw, that was my tongue in cheek way of saying just that. I’m with Dave … marriage before supply closets. I don’t let it stop my enjoyment of the show, though. This is TV, and I accept the romance they are telling, supply closet and all.

        I really have no worries, that they will talk about these things. That’s one thing that I want us to see. Whether it’s a look on Sarah’s face when she holds baby Awesome, or a look she and Chuck share … or even a look on her face when she sees Chuck hold baby Awesome. Just something to let us know that her fears are eased, as they were in Coup. I’d like that, but just the fact that she’s so sure of marriage, makes me think that she’s ready to become ready for kids, because she knows that Chuck wants them some day. From Cubic and Coup, I’d say she’s on board for the whole package, marriage now, kids later.

        Ernie and Herder, I won’t bet against either of you. Family episodes are coming for sure.

      • JC says:

        I’m just worried that Chuck’s abandonment issues will be brushed aside as we near 4.13. Or they’ll go for a gigantic angst fest in 4.12 where it plays out that Sarah follows in Mary’s footsteps.

      • thinkling says:

        Some Ellie/Sarah conversation would be a plus on these issues.

      • herder says:

        I think the discussion about baby Awesome’s name could be a push to enter into that discussion, think about it: Chuck suggests Stephanie to Awesome and Ellie and Sarah looks confused and then says “I like it a lot but I was kind of thinking that I’d like that name for our…”.

      • I also think that the baby issues is coming in 4.12/4.13.

        I didn’t have the felling that Sarah didn’t want children though. My understanding was that it was too soon for her, but they both did want children.

        In Crown Vic when Sarah asked Casey “Do you ever just want to have a normal life? Have a family? Children?”, it made me think that she was open to the idea.

        Chuck in his nature is more ready for it, but I really don’t see them as not being at the same point on the subject.

        And I think they’re thinking about the after spy life as well. Sarah said it, “all she can think about is her future with Chuck” and “she’d like to have
        something to fall back on when their spy life is over.”

      • @Thinkling Sarah/Ellie talk FTW! Especially after that scene between the Bartowski women in First Fight.

      • Faith says:

        mxpw, Joe…because this sort of goes together…I didn’t think she was ready for marriage. In fact post FOD I still don’t.

        Namely because there’s still some fundamental issues that were brought up pre-first fight that has yet to be resolved and that is she still stands in front of him rather than with him. They aren’t equals and they weren’t…until maybe Phase 3.

        I also think if you bring up children to Sarah she will freak out. The woman has barely unpacked, bringing children to the conversation is tantamount to jumping the shark. I don’t know maybe I’m projecting 😉 lol, but seriously, she hasn’t yet been able to handle it. She will though, in the future, give her time. Baby steps.

        Chuck is more foolhardy, he’s also not ready but he would have willingly jumped into that commitment and that conversation because he’s Chuck. But in both their situations I like that they’re taking things slow…taking their time with their milestones and conversations. It’s organic to the characters they have been portrayed and the situation they find themselves in. They are not normal.

      • thinkling says:

        Herder, love the idea of Sarah thinking of names for their-own someday daughter .

        Crumby, I agree with your assessment … good call-backs.

      • uplink2 says:

        I take the fact that in Coup d’Etat Sarah only says that having kids scared her and never mentions marriage along with what follows from that point on says that she is ok with the idea of being married but having kids is something different. And that’s ok. She knows how Chuck feels and knows that marrying him will ultimately lead her there and she is ok with that. Maybe just not now. Post baby Awesome it is going to be interesting. I had really hoped she would end up having to be the one that threw the baby shower but seeing the spoilers for the next few episodes I don’t think that will happen. But Sarah would be clueless how to do it and it would be hysterical.

      • thinkling says:

        Hey, Uplink, Sarah and the baby shower would be a treat, but I’m holding out for Chuck & Sarah babysitting. Comedy gold.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh that would be fun; you know Sarah will be a mess at first, but in the end she will melt completely!

      • Faith says:

        Uptick, part of what I consider genius this season is this apparent progression of the characters. To get back to the post up there, they’ve done a great job showing us the growth rather than telling us they’ve grown.

        From Anniversary we have the undeniable connection, from Suitcase we have commitment, from Coup we have Sarah expressing an openness to marriage but a fear of children (but still to an unconscious Chuck), from First Fight we have an illustration of the ties that bind the past and the future in families (Sallie scene FTW) and in Phase 3 we have Sarah openly expressing to a conscious Chuck that she wants to marry him. Someday soon we’ll have Sarah get to the point where talking about children won’t freak her out and they’ll actually be engaged. Progress and growth in display and it’s wonderful.

        They’re doing a similar job to Chuck being Sarah’s equal but it’s less obvious because it’s far more complicated. Just like they’re progressing Casey into a human from a weapon.

      • atcDave says:

        Didn’t you used to be in color Faith?

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree. This season the audience is being shown, not perfectly certainly, but they are being shown the motivations behind the character development. We know why certain things are happening. If TPTB really did learn from their mistakes last season this is the best lesson they learned.

        Some folks like to over simplify the dislike by many of season 3 by saying it was simply that fans wanted Chuck and Sarah together and hated Shaw. But it was so much more than that. It was poorly written, poorly cast and poorly executed. None of that is happening this season. While not perfect as I said the casting has been the best ever, the stories make sense with real setup and the execution has been great. This is Yvonne’s breakout season and why I got involved with the Emmy4Yvonne stuff. They are just reall running on all cylinders this season.

      • Faith says:

        Dave, yup.

        Me and my delorean, complete with flux capacitor and plutonium have travelled to the past :D. JK. I thought it looked better this way.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Uplink and Thinkling

        With regard to Baby Awesome and Sarah – I am still holding out hope that the baby’s birth is an unconventional one – by that, I mean an adhoc scenario where Ellie goes into labor and Sarah has to act as the mid wife and help deliver the child and be the first one to hold the baby. What say?

      • uplink2 says:

        Hadn’t thought of that one. Interesting though the IMDB page for Push Mix says there are Doctors and nurses cast so I’m not sure how that would work.

      • atcDave says:

        Kind of like when Worf helped deliver in TNG? (yes I just compared Sarah to Worf!)

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Uplink

        Dang!! So there are doctors ad nurses. There goes my dream scenario. Okay – what about this – Ellie goes into labor and it’s Sarah’s job to get her to the hospital. Devon is busy with a life and death surgery and Ellie doesn’t let go of Sarah until the baby is delivered.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink, I do want to add to your comment above before it gets too far buried. As a hard core ‘shipper I do believe the S3 problems start with the destruction of the central relationship, and not fixing it until the original finale.
        But of course it is more involved than that. Even before we get into specific shortcomings, there was also a deliberate decision to adopt a darker tone for most of the season. Most the people I know who quit, started by complaining about the “break-up”, but they quickly get to the show just being “no fun anymore.” Now we all know some viewers like darker stories (probably not a big chunk of the established Chuck audience, but certainly some), but the sloppy execution quickly alienated many of those viewers too.

        So by mid-season, a majority of viewers (my guess, I have no way of proving that) seemed to just be riding it out. It actually still gets me steaming mad when I think about what they did to the show in 3.01-3.13. But I do agree, Honeymooners is as good as it gets. Its possibly my favorite TV episode ever, only a few rivals even exist (and at least two of them are also Chuck!). Speaking as one of the many posters here who seems to be fighting a seasonal ailment right now; Honeymooners was like the breaking of a fever, life just seemed so much better after that ran.

      • JC says:

        There’s always the chance the doctors and nurses are working for Volkoff or the CIA.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        Unofficial synopsis for 4×13

        Chuck is put in an awkward position when Volkoff insists on helping out Ellie – by putting at her disposal his trusted doctors.Elsewhere Sarah is also getting a CIA team of doctors and nurses ready to provide Ellie help and protection.

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        While going into labor Volkoff convinces Ellie that Sarah is an enemy agent. Chuck, Casey and Mary plan a rescue. Meanwhile Morgan and Devon get a serious case of Deja Vu.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave what got to me last season many times was I wondered if TPTB actually watched the show they had put on the air the prior 2 seasons or even the episode before. The characters they had worked so hard to create were diminished by an attempt to follow a traditional boy meets girl story line that they had already moved way beyond. Much of the credit as to why the Chuck/Sarah relationship is so different than most on TV goes to the great actors but I felt on many occasions like yelling at the screen “Did you guys even watch Colonel or the phenomenal ending of Lethal Weapon?” I became even more bothered when I finally watched Season 1 on DVD as I didn’t start watching the show till early season 2 and saw Wookie. How they could have allowed one of the singular best scenes of the show be diminished by Fake Name is beyond me.

        Someone posted on here somewhere that the new writers learned these characters the same way we did and it shows. They respect what the viewer has seen and build upon it. If there is one thing I could ask someone with the show it would be how could a great writer like Ali Adler write both Wookie and Fake Name? I would love to know how much freedom they are given and what her reasoning was for the ultimate low point IMO of season 3 the name reveal.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I agree entirely with your post. Colonel was exactly the moment that guaranteed the audience would never buy the S3 arc (and I’m sure TPTB had no clue how most their audience received that episode). They completely destroyed the characters we had known for two seasons.

        I suspect Ali Adler was told specifically what major plot points she had to cover, but the exact dialog was her own doing. I do wonder if her departure after the season is related to having to write a story she didn’t believe in (I’m sure we’ll never know, but I’ll always wonder). The exact snafu of the name reveal is likely all her fault, but the episode was destined to undermine Sarah’s character however it was written.

      • thinkling says:

        OK. I have officially sprained my scrolling finger.

        Aladins, great minds think alike. Must be the brain bleach. I’ve thought for a long time that it would be great for Sarah and Chuck to deliver the baby.

        Love all the synopses for the delivery with various Volkoff people involved. Can you see Awesome totally losing his Awesomeness?

        Barely more than a week to go. Happy Saturday.

  15. Verkan_Vall says:

    “Custody of the Morgan”, heh.

    Is that a property dispute?

    Or cruel and unusual punishment?

    Nice work on the review and the input in the comments. I have to rewatch this ep, I seem to have missed a lot.

  16. uplink2 says:

    Well this is my first comment and venture into this part of the online Chuck community and I must say that I am blown away by the intelligence, thoughtfulness and articulate writing on this blog. I have read back some of the earlier material from Season 4 and will try to read more but so much of what I have read are in line with my thoughts about the show but so much better vocalized than I can write. You folks are amazing.

    Can’t wait to read your comments as we finally get back to new episodes.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Uplink. We’re sorta blown away by the community too, on a regular basis, in fact.

      Glad to have you join the discussion!

    • Faith says:

      Welcome to the blog! Glad you like it 😀

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks everyone. Can I ask a simple question? How do I follow the timing of postings here. Its very difficult to find the latest as they are all through the comments listing with multiple subjects being discussed.

      • Faith says:

        It does get tough doesn’t it? These guys are good.

        I’d say just follow the recent comments on the sidebar. If you click on the person’s name it goes to that comment.

        When I’ve been gone all day and the recent comment list has refreshed several times that following it would mean I’d miss people’s thoughts/opinions…I usually just go down the entire thread and skim through what I’ve already read. It’s fairly easy to find new ones then.

      • herder says:

        uplink2 the 15 most recent posts are listed on the right hand side near the top, earlier than that it’s hunt and miss. When postings are relatively quick, then by the time that you have got through the oldest few a few new ones are likely to appear. With my computer, it requires a refresh to add the new ones, it takes a bit of getting used to but works pretty well. By the way welcome.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink welcome to the blog. We have a great time here kicking stuff around, feel free to jump in any time. We enjoy as much input as we can get, the more the merrier.

        The home page shows recent posts in chronological order. That and each of the six host authors have our five most recent posts listed under our name on the right side of the page. Navigation is a little more cumbersome than at large discussion forums, but you will get used to it, it’s not that bad.

    • thinkling says:

      Welcome to the blog, Uplink. Glad you felt free to jump in. Hang around the community and join in the conversation as often as you can.

  17. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Uplink2:

    I couldn’t agree more.

    @Crumby Depain:

    “At least they didn’t have Sarah going to Casey after Fake Name!”

    Wow, how did I miss this one on the first run through.

    Casey or Morgan or BECKMAN! would have been a better choice than Shaw. But they shouldn’t have used love interests at all, that was pointless and destructive, as has been said before.

    But…but, Sarah and that Titian-haired Temptress Dianne…

    Demn it, this is Ernie’s fault!

    I have to go now.

    • joe says:

      Oh no! Ernie’s tempted yet another fan to the Duck side! It’s a Duck apocalypse, I tell ya! 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Duckpocalypse?
        Age of the Ducks?
        Duckolution?
        New Country – Ducktaria? and citizens – Ducktrians?

        🙂

    • Tamara Burks says:

      Casey definitely would have been a better person for her to tell her name to. And he wouldn’t have wanted to date her because he already said he wasn’t interseted a long time ago because he’d heard about her rep for dating co workers. At least he was her partner instead of some interloper whose primary purpose seemed to be to bust up the team.

      I’m feeling very optimistic that they will bring up the things that need to get worked out and work them out . Maybe with a second fight .

      The reason for my optimism, my car trouble was much less serious than actually thought. I was able to get my car to my cousins (well barely it broke down completely within sight of his driveway) and the problem was a broken alternator belt instead of a broken alternator. He was able to fix it and recharge the battery. I’ll pay him back as soon as I can.

  18. Tamara Burks says:

    One thing I always wondered about is why Sarah’s PLi’s were more of the what were you thinking as oppossed to Chuck’s PLI’s which were I can see why he’s interested.

    With Bryce and Jill there was history with both but Jill’s history had had enough time to soften things plus she did no damage to Sarah while Bryce did damage to Chuck and Sarah . When Jill came back again after the first instance she actually ended up helping, Bryce OTOH hand caused more damage except at Ellie’s first wedding and it would have made more snese for him to call back up or at least carry more ammo.

    Lou was a nice girl with a sandwich shop except for the salami smuggling and her ex she was perfect for Chuck. Cole , appeared to be a grandstanding (he actually endangered Sarah before he “saved: her by going in the front door and causing her to get shot at ) braggart (said the chip was unhackable but gave no indication anyone other than him tested it) who wanted Sarah to essentially damage her career for a fling (wanted her to go to Fiji for 2 weeks in the middle of an assignment as oppossed to Chuck’s original vacation plans once the assignment was over and his wanting to run away with her for a LTR in season 3 ) . Then there was Shaw and Hannah. Hannah was a little atalkery but she was smart, had common interests and was willing to pursue Chuck . Shaw was a hypocrite,arrogant, incompetant, idiotic, interfering , and endangered Sarah long before he tried to kill her. He then tried to kill her and suceeded in killing Papa B.Her behavior around both Shaw and Cole made you wonder where she’d left her brain (she actually got captured because she was fawning over Cole and ignore Casey’s common sense)

    If you are going to have a PLI they should be a credible threat , one that you could understand why the person would be with them. With Chuck we got that, with Sarah we didn’t . Chuck showed regret at least part of the time, Sarah didn’t .

    Sarah’s PLi’s caused more damage than Chuck’s too.

    And here’s the biggest kicker, Chuck actually clearly broke up with them. Sarah only made things clear to Cole. Bryce certainly acted like he thought things would pick up where they left off before Ellie’s second wedding and she never broke up with Shaw.

    I wonder if somewhere they wrote down that they had to follow these guidelines for any PLI’s that Chuck and Sarah had.

    • Faith says:

      I actually used to believe there’s a double standard in the PLIs, or at least how they’re portrayed but these guys made me realize there really isn’t one. I don’t know how they did that but I was convinced lol.

      • James Bond says:

        One thing I am thankful for is Mo Ryan and Alan Sepinwall and to a point Jace Lacob….after their reviews and interviews during and after the first 13 of season 3 we will never see PLI’s again! I mean during the post mask interview Swartz and Fedak deluded themselves into thinking that what they did was acceptable and put down fan and media reaction down to crazy shipper/fans who did not understand their vision…but after American Hero and Other Guy Jace Lacob said shaw became irksome and annoying (I think he said those words you may have to look that up) and Sepinwall said that shaw was a huge misfire and they had miscalculations and the NADIR I say NADIR was the Mo Ryan interview with Fedak, she laid into him unlike any journalist I have seen lay into a show runner (no Woodward and Burnstein but still!) and she said that Routh’s Shaw was rubbish that it did a disservice to Yvonne’s character and her acting skills, that he was a bad actor, that the should have changed course midway through the season and so on and so forth. It is one thing to blame fans for what is percieved to have gone wrong but when everyone from bloggers, podcaster, professional critics, etc come at you from all angles and say what you did was rubbish then that is something you have to sit up and take notice of and thankfully Schwedak have not done that and stayed away from anything remotely contentious with chuck and sarah and so hence no PLI’s anymore! whoa!

      • JC says:

        My main gripe with the PLIs on the show has always been Chuck’s. Lou and Jill served their purposes on the show. He’s had never a real alternative or choice other than Sarah. They should have given him a female spy in S3 someone that he could have gone off on missions and had a relationship with.

      • James Bond says:

        Yeah but has sarah being given anyone other tnen a spy? no not really! but that is the point of them choosing each other, they are both unique from different worlds, where sarah is from the spy world and chuck from the normal world (although he is now a spy). Now the question has always been..now that chuck and sarah have met each other do other PLI’s from their old lives represent a better alternative from what they have with each other….now because me started the series off with not seeing them with other people from their old lives but together in the “fake relationship” we needed to see that a few times….It has been clearly established that they both represent ideals that each other want. Sarah always believes in chuck where jill at standford did not and chuck has an innocence and sweetness that bryce never did or only had with chuck because he was a classic spy killer…..so their relationship works because they have something each other desires…..and so on and so forth…..

  19. JC says:

    We’ve talked about how some of last season’s problems were the result of what the TPTB intended didn’t come across on screen. Or caused some unintentional problems from the way they handled the story.

    Now I would say all the way up to First Fight that hasn’t been a problem this season. My question is it happening again? We’ve seen a pretty clear divide in opinions about the arrest of Mary, Sarah’s comment in FOD and Intersect less Chuck. The show is usually in your face about these things so when its left murky it causes a lot of problems.

    The only similarities I can see is they both deal with more dramatic stories. Part of me thinks its the writing style of the show. Chuck moves at a blistering pace with its arcs and that usually works with action and comedy not so much with drama.

    • James Bond says:

      JC I do not think that they are throwing in angst in for the sake of angst or false angst lets say…I think they have established this season that sarah does have a kindrid spirit with mama b and as she said to chuck in leftovers she is fully aware that she was lucky that she was assigned to chuck and that mama b was very unlucky to be assigned to volkoff…..so if sarah wanting to help mama b causes friction between chuck and sarah (where chuck would always like in anniversary chose sarah over mama b) where chuck does not want to risk sarah and sarah understands mama b’s prediciment and wants to help her and put herself in danger because mama b is part of sarah’s family now…. I am ok with that kind of angst because unlike season 3 this is genuine angst and angst that does not disservice sarah or chuck….With regards to fear of death, like I just said about chuck not wanting to risk sarah for anything, I think what she said when she snapped at chuck is out of desperation in not wanting to lose her family, home, soul mate, love of life, etc..that statement was built up throught the episode and even series (seduction, fear of death, etc) where it does not disservice her character because it is estabilished that she is unwilling to let chuck put himself in danger. I do think that last season sarah was sidelined and they are now giving her a chance to have her time to shine this season and so chuck does come off like her last season as slightly underused, like casey (maybe his turn is next season, lol) and so we live with what we got, but in truth I am enjoying this arc….

      • thinkling says:

        Good assessment James. The angst this season I would classify more as drama, because it’s been resolved quickly. As you say it doesn’t disservice the characters and seems like reasonable issues to address. As Dave would say it’s organic.

        Seems like maybe it will be Chuck’s turn to worry about Sarah on a mission. Maybe it will help him understand how she felt in FOD.

        If the drama stays honest and doesn’t get worse that what we’ve had so far, I’m OK with it. However, I would like an abundance of episodes where relationship drama isn’t the focus, but just some great spy episodes with action, humor, romance, etc. Couch Lock was good for that, and the Chuck & Sarah growth just came as epiphanies from the mission, not some relationship issue.

        Oh well, I agree with what you’ve said here. Good comments.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        so if sarah wanting to help mama b causes friction between chuck and sarah (where chuck would always like in anniversary chose sarah over mama b) where chuck does not want to risk sarah and sarah understands mama b’s prediciment and wants to help her and put herself in danger because mama b is part of sarah’s family now….

        My guess is that Sarah wanting to help Mama B will not be the main cause of friction between Chuck and Sarah. Rather the way in which Sarah will go about it will cause tensions/angst.
        Consider the wording of the 4×12 synopsis
        “Chuck’s worries about Sarah getting in too deep”

        If TPTB are committed to a Sarah/Mama B parallel then IMHO, the source of angst could be like this:

        I am guessing that the mission Sarah goes on in 4×12 will not have a definite ending date – similar to what happened to Mama B all those years back. So, for Chuck to be worried that Sarah may be getting in too deep is a very valid concern. After all , his mom while going after Volkoff went in too deep and didn’t resurface until two decades had passed. Chuck would be perfectly right if he thought that history was repeating- except this time it’s his girlfriend leaving him.I am sure he is going to protest. Should be interesting to see Sarah’s reaction to Chuck’s reservations.

    • Faith says:

      Are there problems with how they convey the core stories and is it creating more problems? I don’t think so.

      Namely because unlike seasons past they’ve done a much better job selling the conflict. They’ve put in enough of what we know, and what we understand to make the typical up and down within acts identifiable and entertaining. I don’t think the same could have been said last year. Even better they’re actually doing a great job progressing the characters and the situation—something that to me exceeds even S2’s brilliance. There is more continuity this year, a lot more attention to detail and plot.

    • Joeeph (can't be Joe) says:

      @JC – What I fear is happening again is the reworking of episodes due to additional episodes. While not as apparent in FOD, it showed very clearly in Leftover with the clunky ending.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joseph

        I believe they get the back order after 4×10 and 4×11 were finalized. I remember reading somewhere that they were going back to the drawing board for 4×12 and 4×13.

    • My question is it happening again?

      I’m wandering the same thing. Even though they have sold the conflict better, there are been some things missing in the resolution IMO.

      They didn’t address the fact that Sarah went behind Chuck’s back in AOT. This “Believe in me even if you think I’m wrong” didn’t work for me in First Fight. They didn’t address Sarah’s “No you’re not” in FOD. And this Awesome and Ellie storyline is getting really tiring after 10 episodes.

      It worked so far because the episodes are really fun, and a lot of the episodes works (Summer Glau fro example, Casey and Morgan are great, LH & TD are awesome, we enjoy seeing Chuck & Sarah working on their relationship, etc.). But it is still a shame that they don’t address some issues they bring up. It’s the end of Santa Claus of over again!

      • Kisku says:

        As you said the one or two line of dialog. And that is what happens. When they argue Chuck asks why she wnt behind his back and Sarah said that she didn’t want Chuck to commit treason, trying to save his mother, despite heavy evidence against her. Chuck does not respond to this, which means he accepts that Sarah was right.

      • That’s not really true because in the end, he’s still asking her not to follow orders and trust his mother on faith only.

      • What I mean is that, like JC said, it’s left open to interpretation.

        Some could consider he didn’t deny, so he agrees. Some could think he just didn’t had time to respond. Etc. It is not a definite resolution.

    • JC says:

      My comment had nothing to do with angst or even the quality of the story they’re telling. What I’m talking about is that a lot of this issues haven’t had a definite resolution. And they’ve been left open to interpretation.

      This isn’t something new like Crumby mentions with the non resolution to Santa Claus. It just seems like they still haven’t learned how to pace the drama on the show. The first two seasons it flew by with basically no resolution, last season they dragged it out to the breaking point. They’ve done much better this season but I still think they’re blowing through lots of issues too fast.

      • What I’m talking about is that a lot of this issues haven’t had a definite resolution. And they’ve been left open to interpretation.

        I agree completely. I’m not sure this is because they’re going too fast though. A lot of issues like this could have been dealt with a line or two. Whatever it is, it is annoys me, and “ruins” a little awesome episodes like First Fight and Phase Three.

  20. herder says:

    Getting back to Fear of Death, while I agree with Ernie that there are many important bits in this episode, I lean towards Faith’s view that it just didn’t work. I’ve been trying to explain why, I think the stupid stick is part of it as is the retread plots, Rob Riggle wasn’t bad, but I wonder if the writing and casting was right for the part.

    No disrespect to Rob Riggle, but Agent Rye was written as an enthusiastic dofus, a big puppy dog, someone with the self assurance of the truely stupid. This coming two episodes after Tuttle, an enthusiastic novice to the spy business who turned out to be the big bad himself. I can’t help think that Agent Rye suffered in comparison to Dalton’s magnificent Tuttle.

    Both were over the top excited about the spy business, both said funny yet inappropriate things “cool, a tiny weapons standoff” “you smell delightfully like grapefruit”. Both were incompetent in the spy world (Tuttle, not Volkov), and both ultimately led Chuck into danger. Having a been there done that character in a been there done that plot (diamond heist, Sarah is the intersect problem, encoded info on microchip) was a bit much, especially when the real thing was there only two weeks ago.

    As I said this episode was somehow flat for me but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      “can’t put my finger on why” seems to be my modus operandi with Nicholas Wootten. I hoped I’ve at least given some of they why with that 5000 word write up up there but if not, it’s cool lol.

      • herder says:

        Faith, didn’t mean to dismiss your “why”, in fact I agree with all of it. In this show there are always disconnects, when it works they don’t matter when it doesn’t they become problems. I’m still trying to figure out why they matter here when they don’t elsewhere.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        My theory is we’re so sensitized to anything that paints Sarah in such an awful light that this one more than most grates. Though I may be projecting there.

        Equally, when it’s a Sarah centric episode that kicks butt, it’s usually a fan fav. Delorean, Cougars, Phase 3 comes to mind.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @CN8 – Sound theory. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Faith, I think showing Sarah in a positive light is pretty important; especially after she was so poorly served by S3. I’ve though for a long time (since early S2 at least) Sarah is actually more important to the success of the show than Chuck. When TPTB remember that the show is great, when they forget it we get annoyed pretty quickly.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, I’d say that from the beginning, about Tango on, Sarah has been equally as important as Chuck to the success of Chuck. More, well there is no Sarah let alone Chuck and Sarah without Chuck, so I’ll quibble slightly there.

        Now, could Yvonne pull off the lead on a spy-action thriller? No doubt. Could she be the lead in a comedy? Yep. Could she cary just about any type of show if asked? Yep, but they wouldn’t be Chuck, and my guess is that we’ll always look at Chuck as her and Zach’s best work.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Faith I think the why is something we discussed. Wooten writes second acts. Transitions if you will. Lefrank and Judkins write the opening, Suitcase or First Fight, and Newman writes the climax and conclusion, Coup d’Etat and Phase Three. Wooten gets to do the character exploration and conflict in the middle. I think given the boundaries he works within he does a good job.

      • jason says:

        posting here, I made an observation the other day, some here try to find meaning of the stuff that troubles us thru the on screen, some try to see everything in the best possible light, some interpret the on screen to fit theory, some thru the character implied motives (i.e. sarah wouldn’t do THAT), but I tend to look at the motivation of TPTB (i.e. WHAT were they POSSIBLY thinking)

        one of my 1000 or so rationalizations for season 3 was the story was an attempt to retake the show for the Zach character by knocking down the Sarah character’s hero status, from Pink Slip on, as nearly every episode seemed to accomplish that goal, straight thru to her leaving with shaw at the end of ‘hero’ and / or insisting on leaving with shaw to paris in ‘other guy’ – clueless, lost soul, with few redeeming qualities most of the season really … that has to be intentional – doesn’t it???

        obviously, it failed, as S4 arguably could be called ‘Sarah’ instead of ‘Chuck’

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        And I’ll say what I said then…that is no excuse. Seduction was one of the best episodes of S2 and it’s sandwiched between First Date and Break Up. Similarly First Kill maintained the epicness of the last 6 heading into Colonel. What’s different between those two transition scripts and this one? The strength of writing. Or perhaps experience.

      • The problem was that it smelled plot device all over it, and that is annoying.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Actually a better comparison to Cubic Z would have been Break Up. But even that is not even close.

        Jason I’d be interested to know where you would classify me. I think I’m too wishy washy to ever be one thing :D.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Perhaps Crumby has a point. Sarah the emotional rock slid right off me, and it bothered a lot of people a lot more. That could be a part of it.

        Actually Faith I thought First Kill one of the weaker episodes of that arc till the last few minutes.

      • James Bond says:

        Jason the series is named “chuck” they should not apologise for taking the zach character back. Which is actually not what they did the just speeded up the hero story because that is what “chuck” was always meant to be first and foremost a heroes journey not a chuck and Sarah story….

      • James Bond says:

        Also Sarah was supposed to be a secondary character like casey the only reason Sarah is more is because of critics, fans, blogger, etc negative reaction

      • atcDave says:

        To me the only real flaw with Fear of Death is that the “emotional rock” is not adequately debunked. Its actually kind of funny, unless you think Chuck is actually falling for it. We really needed Chuck to call out Rye as a fraud and fool; its not enough for us to recognize it, the episode would have reflected better on Chuck if he’d seen it too.

        And James Bond I mostly disagree about your Chuck comment. I think the great error of S3 is that TPTB saw the show as being all about Chuck; but I don’t believe most of the audience ever saw it that way. All the way back to the original promotional material it was always Chuck and Sarah. As was mentioned earlier, the Sarah heavy episodes have always been among the most popular. TPTB erred in treating Sarah as a plot device in S3, the audience had long ago decided the show was as much about her as it was Chuck. So poorly serving her character alienated and POed much of the audience. The show really could be called “Chuck and Sarah”, that’s how a major portion of the viewership sees it anyway.

      • jason says:

        @Bond – I agree & thought Chuck being stronger was a highlight of S3 and has disappointed me about S4. I simply wish chuck’s strength was not at Sarah’s expense in S3, as much as Sarah’s strength at Chuck’s expense in S4 – why can’t TPTB just let them be?

        another of my 1000 rationalizations, NBC told TPTB to bring in Routh as a major star, give him the girl, using routh’s star status to raise Zach’s status, since in the end Zach wins the girl – one of those things that really works on paper – I have been there done that myself

        Faith – You asked for it – so don’t be offended – OK? – I have never met you, but from what I have learned about you on these blogs, I would suggest to those who do know you, not to lie to you, as far as your default analysis style, I will spitball this one, you use your own experiences to make sense of what can’t be explained, a little like actdave in that regard

        the easiest is Joe – he would try to find good to say about jack the ripper

        earnie is pretty easy too, but ….. I had to use google to find the right word … verbose-ishy I think was the word … just kidding earnie

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Jason, what’s to be offended? I’m flattered. Thanks!

        You will be getting your costa gravan check in the mail ;-).

      • atcDave says:

        Hmmmm, so Jason softsells, backpedals, and apologizes for saying Faith is a lot like me. Hmmm…

      • jason says:

        faith, I think that Costa Gravis currency will destabilize the dollar some day, make us all millionaires!

        yikes dave – I did all that – you should feel lucky! I did make that new years resolution to be nice afterall.

        Believe it or not, in between messing around here, I did get all my computer work done today, gotta run.

        I suppose there will be about 1000 new messages when I return in the morning, what a site!

      • herder says:

        I’m a little curious, if this was a transitional episode and it clearly was, to get to Phase Three the only three things that need to be established are that Sarah thinks Chuck went on the mission to prove himself to her and that she feels guilty about her role in that. Three scenes take care of that, the talk during the massage…sorry faded out there for a moment, “no you’re not” and his being kidnapped.

        Considering how easily the intersect was reinstalled at the end of Phase Three “here’s the laptop…are you sure that you want to do this?..yes” no real set up is needed. Does anything else in this episode play out going forward? Information that Chuck is the intersect? There is nothing about Mama B or Volkov I’m at a loss to think of anything else.

        Maybe the frustration about the episode that I feel is that ultimately it is about so little. The stand alone bits are not all that strong and that may be why the B plot seems stronger than the A plot.

      • atcDave says:

        It wasn’t a strong episode. And I’d even say getting Chuck kidnapped is the only function that really matters. Sarah still feels its her duty to protect him (her “safety net” speech), and she loves him anyway; Sarah needed NO additional motivation to go charging off to his rescue. Beckman couldn’t have stopped her in any circumstance.

        To me, the function any episode serves is entertainment. So whatever else an episode may or may not accomplish, I consider its entertainment value as the first consideration. As such, Fear of Death is a mediocre episode; a few good lines and moments, a largely forgettable plot. I’ll happily re-watch the episode any time I’m doing a complete re-watch and it comes up in rotation. But it will never come up when I’m just looking for a favorite to sit down and enjoy.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, I think you are on to something. I think it gets personal with Volkoff. Frost knows Carmichael is the intersect and a Bartowski. The information that Chuck is the intersect is perhaps out there (as we learn from the diamond). If it is established that you need the proper Bartowski brain to house an intersect, weeellll there is a new descendant of one Stephen Bartowski aabout to come into the world. Now could anyone think of a reason that both the CIA and Volkoff are both interested in providing Ellie with a team of doctors?

        Just spitballing. Also I think the emotional rock gets thoroughly debunked with some new intersect 3.0 information to come.

      • James Bond says:

        Well atcdave:

        Fans do see it as a chuck and sarah show for sure….but TPTB intended when they created it and at the time of season 3 for it to be about chuck and his journey only….To be honest they have given sarah 2 flashback episodes (cougars/delorean) and casey 4 (undercover lover/sensei/tic tac and couch locke) to date. Now why did fans get upset when casey has or still had the same amount of flashbacks at the time as sarah 2-2 that when sarah got sidelined it was a problem, you can see where they were coming from…I think the fact that zach and yvonne have this phenomenal on screen chemistry has really set them back and fans got upset when they were simply trying to tell the story. Now I do not excuse them for shaw or the name reveal or some of the other contrivances that they threw up and I think they should have paced the story better, but I was a little suprised at some of the vitrial thrown at them after mask….they never lied and said this is a chuck and sarah show…..so when fans take offence saying that this is a chuck and sarah show and they should service those characters that is simply not true and it was never before season 3 portrayed as anything like that. If fans understand that they can then understand why the bracelet it never brought up that much or why the mouser incident was dwelled on, it happened and they moved on with the journey….I think what we are seeing now is that TPTB have sort of given up fighting trying to tell the story they wanted to tell and have gone a route of telling a fan story and comic con showed that where schwartz and fedak looked resigned and a little frustrated at the fact that they have hit this wall with fans who will not allow them to deviate from chuck and sarah……for me being objective it is slightly a shame that this show is their dream and they cannot tell it how they want as much as I love chuck and sarah.

      • herder says:

        Ernie, now there is something that I hadn’t thought of (a huge subset of all thoughts). Perhaps the Awesome Child’s Christening gift from Uncle Chuck will be one of the three governor watches that Chuck has in his bedroom in Aniversary.

        Also, what kind of a Doctor would work for Volkov, I have images of the Doctor from The Marathon Man (if that’s the right title, Dustin Hoffman ’70’s movie) drilling into Hoffman’s teeth.

      • atcDave says:

        James Bond, I guess our difference is I don’t call that a shame. Every show is ultimately about reaching its audience. If the story-tellers fail to engage the audience they loose and the show is cancelled. Long lasting shows please their audience. If what the story-teller wants to tell, and what the audience wants to hear are one in the same, its pure bonus for everyone. But if there’s a conflict, the story-teller will loose every time. The story-teller must keep their audience happy (I think that’s story-telling 101).

        A professional story-teller (show runner in this case) is paid by the network to keep an audience watching. If they choose to pursue a path the audience doesn’t like or isn’t interested in they will loose their job.
        In this case, TPTB needed to recognize that the audience was at least as interested in Sarah as they were in Chuck. Mistreating her character will cost them viewers, every time. As professionals they MUST understand how this works.
        Their job is NOT any sort of faithfulness to their vision or artistic purity. Those sorts of story-tellers will always be HOBBYISTS.

      • The idea that the Little Awesomette was the Bartowski next-gen and that it could come into play in the spy plot was one of my speculation (and hope) for the season.

        I really don’t know if they’ll go there because Volkoff doesn’t know that Chuck’s the Intersect. Unless, he’s been playing Mary?

        Anyway, that could be a great way to bring Awesome and Ellie into the spy story.

      • thinkling says:

        @Dave: Sarah is actually more important to the success of the show than Chuck.

        I agree with this. (shock) Ernie makes a point too. Obviously “Chuck” wouldn’t be “Chuck” without Chuck. But Chuck wouldn’t be Chuck without Sarah. Ergo, what you said.

        I think part of the problem — my theory — is that TPTB didn’t really count on Sarah becoming larger than life. And I DO NOT think it’s all viewer driven … or Yvonne driven, but she’s a big factor. It’s in the story. This is my view of that interdependent story.

        The “Chuck” story begins, as Chuck’s story and Sarah’s story converge and begin to entertwine. (These are the stories I see. Others may disagree.) The story is about two people whose past has robbed them of their future. One is the story of a guy who was meant to be a hero but is living a mediocre life in a dead-end job. The other is the story of a beautiful, smart, acomplished woman whose life is filled with excitement and adventure but lacks the roots and love and warmth she secretly desires. They become embroiled in the same plot. As they respond to their shared circumstances and to each other, it becomes clear that each is vital to the other’s story.

        Sarah’s importance was sealed in the story from the start. Sarah’s character is more complex, and Yvonne made her kick-a* but feminine, sexy but not slutty, damaged yet appealing. Yvonne sold it week after week after week, and viewers became addicted. Sarah became more popular than Chuck. Zach is great, no question. Chuck is the main character, and we like him and all, but Sarah is the key to Chuck and “Chuck.” You simply can’t damage a character like that to the degree they did and get away with it.

        When a character takes on a life of her own, the writers can’t undo that or change it. They should capitalize on it. Add to that the ZL/YS chemistry, and S3 was a doomed plan. They have found what works in S4, hopefully they will stick to it.

        @Ernie, Faith: wonder post!! I can barely keep up with the comments. I’m working on a robust response. Gotta earn my gruel. Actually the post and discussion has stirred some dormant thoughts. I really like FOD and the character analysis it evokes.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        James Bond

        so when fans take offense saying that this is a chuck and sarah show and they should service those characters that is simply not true and it was never before season 3 portrayed as anything like that.

        With all due respect, even though the show is titled Chuck and it’s seemingly all about Chuck – IMHO it’s a great disservice to the secondary characters to use them only as plot devices to further the hero’s cause. By doing that, the secondary characters just become mere caricatures of clay that are molded and amended whenever it suits the plot. When watching a show/ reading a book you are invested in all the characters – not just the titular one. Every reader/viewer develops a fondness/identifies with some character or the other and that particular character becomes his/her favorite. In the case of Chuck, that character is almost unanimously Sarah. And I believe Dave and many others have pointed out many times (whatever TPTB’s intentions may have been) what was shown on the screen was the story of two people from disparate backgrounds thrown together by circumstances and their love that grows along with time. It has always been a love story of two individuals – the spy stuff just spices things up.

        or me being objective it is slightly a shame that this show is their dream and they cannot tell it how they want as much as I love chuck and sarah.

        Again with all due respect, do you have concrete proof that TPTB’s hand has been forced by the fans and they have abandoned their “dreams” to tell a story that fans like?

        There are more articulate and verbwosy posters here who will come up with a much, much better response – but the point I am trying to convey is that you simply cannot degrade the importance of secondary characters just by defending the show as being only about one person. IMHO, to relegate the story of Sarah to the back ground or make it unimportant is a cardinal sin. She is as much an important character as Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        @Ernie: I agree about the writers. They are all good at what they do. And I like the Wooten episodes just fine, but I’m analytical. Of course of love the episodes by the others, too and understand how they are more appealing.

        I love the specs about the Bartowski brain. This could get complicated. We obviously don’t want Volkoff involved in this, but I don’t want the CIA trolling for their interests either. And lets not forget that Volkoff has people in the CIA. MamaB has so much more to protect and who better to help her than Lioness Sarah. Could be Genius!

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Ernie

        Now could anyone think of a reason that both the CIA and Volkoff are both interested in providing Ellie with a team of doctors?

        Ahem, is this mere speculation or is there some truth to this? Because yesterday me and JC or is it JC and I? were kind of coming up with some whacky speculations regarding Ellie’s delivery.

      • Even if you think Chuck should be the center of the story and main character, damaging second characters is not the way to go.

        Damaging Sarah has damaged Chuck at some point. I remember some people saying during S3.0, “wait, why is Chuck in love with her again?”

        Chuck’s a hero and the people around him are too. They all bring the best in each other, and it isn’t just about Sarah.

        Take Ellie for example. She’s a bad ass. She was abandoned by both her parent, she basically raised Chuck, she got into med school and succeeded, etc. Now in S4 for the sake of the plot (or simple dumbness, I don’t know) they’re damaging her character, and that doesn’t reflect good on either Chuck the character or Chuck the show.

      • herder says:

        From my part it was a response to your speculations about teams of doctors. If no teams of doctor, then the point is, well, pointless.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        @Genie, I thought somebody had posted one of the short synopsis that come out on MSN about a month before the show establishing the team of doctors thing. The rest is speculation.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, a lot of excellent comments here; Thinkling, Genie, Crumby…

        I would agree all the characters matter. But Chuck and Sarah are at least equally key. Chuck is a character we relate to, like and respect in all the appropriate ways. While Sarah, from the beginning, was a character we respect, like, and admire.
        Both characters were well written in the first two seasons. Zach may have captured the everyman nerd character in way that works; but I do think Yvonne’s performance makes Sarah even more important than the show-runners ever expected.

      • James Bond says:

        @alladinsgenie4u

        you would like concrete proof..how about at every comic cons chris fedak says this show is about a heroes journey… how that hero chuck becomes more competent and better at it and then he says how that ultimately will affect his relationship with sarah and his family and buymore….

        Look guys I am not trying to start a chupocolypse here….I know they butchered season 3.0. I know shaw sucked! I know that keeping chuck and sarah apart in the first 13 of season 3 especially when they knew they had only 13 was a betrayal of the fans loyalty and good will from all the campaigns, I know that…. I just look at Zach levi in the pilot and he is like an Amalgamation of chris fedak and josh schwartz…he looks a little bit like both and I think their dream girl is sarah/yvonne but I think they wanted chuck to do things they wish they could do and that is take center stage and be the hero, basically what every nerd like them and us would want, so yeah I want chuck and sarah happy, I want the engagment, wedding, family and the rest and I will have a big smile, but sometimes I just got to give them a little slack when they do not measure up, that is all……

      • atcDave says:

        Hey James, no worries; we do enjoy energetic debate around here!

        I don’t think there’s any doubt that the show was originally intended to just be Chuck’s story. But I don’t feel sorry for them. Their show has found niche success. Now, like any professional writers, they need to keep their audience happy. And like many other shows, they have to recognize that what is working is a little different than their original concept. Not a lot different, in fact, I would even say that what most of us objected to was a change that wasn’t a part of their original concept anyway. We just happen to care more for one of their characters than they likely expected. It shouldn’t be that much of a burden for them; they just have to show the character more respect than they did in S3. And so far so good; S4 has been very good for Sarah Walker.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        See the thing is Chuck made us fall in love with Sarah, just like Sarah made us fall in love with Chuck.

        To do disservice to either of them is really painful because of that. All the more so with Sarah in my opinion because it’s a show that shows Chuck’s POV.

        Like Crumby said, there are times you had to wonder why he loved her at all? And that’s a crime against humanity…ok not humanity but certainly the spirit at which they were always portrayed.

      • joe says:

        Jason: the easiest is Joe – he would try to find good to say about jack the ripper

        Heh! Guilty. The only question is, do I succeed? 😉

        More seriously, Jason, even with the consternation over S3, it hasn’t been all *that* hard… As they say, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

      • JC says:

        The only way shows like Chuck work is to have fully developed characters and relationships. Whatever outrageous plot they’re involved in doesn’t matter as long as the human reaction is believable. This is the crux of all Sci Fi and fantasy shows. When you reduce characters to plot devices everything falls apart.

        Look at this way why is Joss Whedon praised for the writing on his shows? A former cheerleader who hunts vampires, space cowboys, a vampire with a soul they all sound insane in concept. But what he did was create fully fleshed out characters who acted like you and I would in those situations. Compare that to Chuck where they blatantly use characters to service the growth of the lead. That’s why you never see the show mentioned with likes of Buffy, BSG, or Firefly. Or why Schwartz and Fedak will never be the same league with Whdeon, Ronald Moore, etc.

      • I was watching a Buffy Reunion on Youtube not too long ago, and they were talking about S6 and how Buffy wasn’t herself at that time.

        Joss said something like: “There was a time when I said to Marti (Noxon) “You know what I think Buffy’s been gone for too long. We’ve lost her. And it’s time now to bring her back.””
        And SMG had the same reaction feeling like “I’ve kind of lost the hero.”

        And what they’ve done was coherent with the story. They had a good excuse for the change in Buffy. And still at some point that knew they couldn’t go too far with it.

        With S3 Sarah, not only it wasn’t coherent with the first two seasons (we’ve never seen Sarah that way before) but they went very far with it, and I’m not sure they did realize it.

    • Big Kev says:

      Spot on JC. The premise of the show can be ridiculous (and it is), the situations arising from the spy plots can be unbelievable, and the villains and secondary characters can be parodies and/or caricatures – but the main characters cannot be. It’s those characters, their lives and loves, triumphs and tragedies, their journeys and setbacks, that we love and that hook us into the show. Diminish those characters, or by implication their stories, then Chuck is just a sloppier version of Get Smart.
      For me, it’s the same for most TV shows – it’s all about the characters and the stories that are told through them. All else is secondary.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto that, Big Kev

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve seen plenty of TV shows that I was primarily interested in from a story perspective, but Chuck will never be one of them. Even when I say I wish they spent more time on the spy story, it’s largely because I want to see the characters I already love involved in more exciting stories; my love for the show will never be driven by the stories.

  21. jason says:

    It is interesting how a little misery in 4×8 moves the blog discussion so strongly toward season 3’s inexplicable misery inflicted on the audience.

    I wonder what possible stronger misery in the upcoming episodes might do to fans?

    Sure seems like S3 placed the relationship between the show runners and the fans on thin ice. I hope another 800 lb gorilla isn’t introduced – just doesn’t work well on thin ice – LOL

    • Ernie Davis says:

      And all this because I wanted to remark on how much better the angst was being handled this season. So much better it even makes Season 3’s story easier for me to like, if not particular episodes. But then I don’t think I hated season 3 as much as some here did. Outside Pink Slip I pretty much liked everything up to and including The Mask, even though I thought much of The Mask was poorly done. Wasn’t crazy about Fake Name, though it had its moments, liked Beard through Final Exam, though by that time I’d given up caring about the relationship till I saw some potential resolution on the horizon at the end of Final Exam. Liked about the first 10 minutes of American Hero. Hated the rest. I liked Other Guy, but I just wanted it over with by that point.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I meant to add that one of the reason’s I keep calling Genius is that this season they’ve hit all the right notes where things had the potential to cause a backlash. They’ve restored my faith in them and the direction they want to go. I was pretty iffy on the whole Mom thing until Aisle of Terror, but now I’m comfortable they’ll handle it well.

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      the irony is he liked this episode and I didn’t.

  22. atcDave says:

    By the way, just a generally frustrating observation here; the first NFL Wild Card game on NBC is nearly over, and not a single Chuck spot. They’ve advertised the heck out of the rest of their line-up, but no Chuck!

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, I already need to take it back. They showed the first promo I’ve seen for Chuck including actual back half footage. (Sarah doesn’t really work as brunette)

      • James Bond says:

        what happens dave? please be specific….play by play

      • atcDave says:

        Well, I didn’t see anything too exciting, and it’s far enough past now I don’t recall the play-by-play. I do remember Chuck and Sarah sitting together at what looked like a nice restaurant, my guess is it’s at the winery in 4.11. And there was a shot of Sarah wearing all black leather with a long black wig; presumably from 4.12 (we’ve seen the stills of this get up before).

        I promise if they run the spot again I’ll pay more attention to all the details!

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, they just ran the spot again. It’s only 15 seconds so there isn’t a lot to say. It starts with Chuck alone being confronted be Volkoff and some armed goons. He says “Chuck, just in time” or something to that effect. There was a fight, looked like an ultimate fighting match between Chuck and some huge guy I don’t recognize. Then Chuck and Sarah at the restaurant. Then Sarah in the black leather; Chuck seems to like what he sees, but my wife says her make-up wasn’t very good.

      • Faith says:

        Chuck’s caught by Volkoff and goons, “Chuck, you’re just in time.”

        Sarah toasting wine with someone (I assume it Chuck).

        A bearded guy that looks like Cole gets beat up.

        Chuck, Morgan and Casey alert to Castle invasion and it’s…Sarah. Long, brunette, straight hair—“Hello boys.” Smiles. Narrator: “I think he (Chuck) likes it.”

        That’s pretty much what I was able to get in the super quick flash during a commercial.

        Edit: heh, me and Dave saw the same thing but differently I guess. That was not Cole, but a bad guy that Chuck was beating up…maybe.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I thought that was Cole as well. It kinda looked liked Morgan throwing the punch.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll concede I’m not very good at watching previews, I think Faith caught far more detail than I did (castle invasion, huh?).

      • James Bond says:

        Thanks guys I need to get to see this promo soon because it sounds awesome!

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I believe the guy Chuck was fighting with could be the “Gobbler” from 4×12. Prison fight? I believe the actor playing Yuri the Gobbler is huge.

        And was it Chuck himself in the restaurant scene? It wasn’t so clear for me.

      • atcDave says:

        Perhaps it was a mark Genie, the clip was fast. But the setting looked very romantic so I hope it was Chuck!

      • armysfc says:

        opps, thats a link for the preview. its chuck and sarah eating.

      • JC says:

        Its definitely a prison fight, the guys in the background are wearing orange jumpsuits.

        So my guess 4.11 ends with Sarah leaving to go under cover like Mary. And that clip of her infiltrating Castle is near the beginning of 4.12.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        And Chuck is hitting the big guy with one of the weights from the gym/exercise area. Should be an awesome fight.

        But my guess about Sarah is that she will go undercover to help Mama B in 4×12 and not at the end of 4×11,adopt that black leather persona and then show up at Castle because she needs the help of Team B to complete the mission. (although, I am not guessing on a hook/cliffhanger at the ending of 4×11 – say for example, a Mama B phone call to Sarah).

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        Didn’t see the weights, that’s awesome. Reminds me of the Panzer fight when he uses the hammer on him.

        Your guess is good as mine, I just expect a somewhat angst ending with Sarah leaving in 4.11. It could be a phone call but I doubt they’d resist a scene that parallels the one with Mary at the beginning of the season. But I agree she probably does infiltrate Castle for help.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        Question: Why is Sarah sneaking into Castle via the vents? Is she avoiding the CIA employees at the Buy More? Or is her undercover job something shady – like working for Volkoff?

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        Could be both since Mary claims Volkoff has moles in the CIA.

        She might be working for Volkoff indirectly through Mary. Although they could always use something from her past to make Volkoff think she’s bad.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC – it’s jabbing time 🙂

        Although they could always use something from her past to make Volkoff think she’s bad.

        Mama B: “I think Sarah will be an asset to our organization”
        Volkoff: “How so?”
        Mama B: “She murdered a female CIA agent in cold blood so that she could date the agent’s husband.”

        Two birds with one stone: She comes off as bad because she killed on of her own and the Red Test rears it’s head again.;)

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        Ha, then you have Volkoff claim he set the whole thing up years ago. Its becomes a Xanatos Gambit.

        Seriously though I’m curious how they’ll play Sarah and Mary working together. I’d say it’s a safe bet that Sarah does leave and I’m wondering how it’ll come off. Will it be genuine drama or will they play the angst card instead. And no matter they play it will Sarah’s comment about why Chuck keeps trusting his mother come back to haunt her about her own choice.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        Although I am very excited about a Mama B/Sarah tie up, I am also just as curious to see how it pans out. When/if Sarah leaves on the undercover mission – is it a mission that resolves quickly as the episode progresses or will there again be a time jump of say 1or 2 months? (like they did in FoD – Sarah leaves on a mission and Chuck is tested by the ‘scientists’) That would certainly amp up the angst meter – what with Chuck worrying about her going too deep and Sarah being perfectly okay with it.

      • herder says:

        allladinsgenie my guess is that the mission does cover an extended period of time and Sarah, much to her suprise, is unwilling to accept that anymore. I think that is one of the progressions that this season has set up. In Anniversary she was gone for three months, in FOD for a month but those were both pre-Phase Three. My guess is that at the end she tells Beckman that she is unwilling to be seperated from Chuck anymore and if that can’t be accomodated then she is done.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Herder

        My guess is that Sarah will accept that undercover mission willingly despite Chuck’s misgivings. Something will happen that will make her realize that missions are not everything – and I believe that epiphany will come from either Chuck or Mama B’s actions. And I hope they don’t do a major time jump in the episode – it’s gotten to a point that it’s starting to look ridiculous.

      • Sarah wasn’t really gone for three months in Anniversary and one month in FOD.

        She went on missions without Chuck during those period but was back in between missions.

      • JC says:

        No matter how long Sarah is gone, will they address Chuck’s abandonment issues or ignore them? The last time a woman in his life took a mission concerning Volkoff he didn’t see her for twenty years.

        And they need to be careful that it doesn’t lead to people questioning Sarah’s commitment to Chuck.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        What about a reverse of First Class in 4×12. Chuck trying to convince Sarah not to go and Sarah not agreeing with it.

        Chuck “Please don’t go undercover,it’s too dangerous”
        Sarah ” I have to. It’s the only way to help your mom”
        Chuck “Last time someone I loved, left to go after Volkoff, she was gone for 20 yrs”
        Sarah ” I am not like your mother and besides I am a spy and this what I do and you have to accept that”

        And I agree with you – if they are going to depict parallels it would be a waste not to address Chuck’s abandonment concerns – which are quite valid.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        And they need to be careful that it doesn’t lead to people questioning Sarah’s commitment to Chuck.

        Agree. They have to walk a thin line. Anything over the top would totally negate Sarah’s Phase 3 confessions.

      • jason says:

        I suppose we don’t even know for sure that sarah is back to chuck in 4×13 or 4×14, I am pretty sure she is when the cat squad shows in in 4×15, otherwise, why bother having them guest star at all?

        I expect her to return in either 4×12 or 4×13 – so even with a time jump, it would have to be inside of the time of ellie’s pregnancy, which is not very long. Somehow sarah leaving to help her boyfriend’s in trouble long lost mother, does not seem exactly like abandonment of chuck, quite the opposite – an act of selfless love actually, but I suppose somehow the episode will be written to hurt sarah, hurt chuck, hurt the fans, so the 13th ep can be epic, that is what this show does, doesn’t it?

      • I really hope they don’t have Sarah play the “I’m a spy, that’s what I do” card. That would be a step back again.

        A “I know it’s dangerous but your mom really needs this and I’ll be careful.” would be enough IMO.

        Chuck would still be worried. Sarah could still tell Chuck at the end of the episode that she hates being away like this, and that she’d never do what his mom did. They can even have a moment where she has to choose between going in even deeper (like Mary did) or coming back.

        I don’t need them to be over-dramatic with this. The situation is dramatic enough without angst. It diminishes the character IMO.

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        That could work but I’d much prefer if it was a plan Chuck and Sarah came up with together but I doubt that will happen .

        And I can’t believe they won’t go the parallel route, its been pretty blatant up to this point. Do you really think they’ll pass up the most dramatic one, a choice between the mission or family.

        You’re right about the abandonment issues being completely valid. If they ignore them, it looks convenient for this arc and if they don’t Sarah’s reaction to them will be the key. If they have her dismiss him and use the “I’m a spy” line you run the risk of people once again questioning her love for Chuck.

  23. Ernie Davis says:

    Did you just flash?

    RE-watching Cubic Z, and I now put that line in the same category as “all those secrets” and “real spy”.

    Sarah knows when Chuck flashes, she knows him well enough that she should never again utter that line.

    • Faith says:

      Speaking of Cubic Z, ever since you’ve brought up that Sarah has moved in, I’ve been preoccupied with their room. I find myself watching the background and comparing it to pre-Suitcase instead of the acts lol. And you’re right, she has totally moved in.

      Where the poster used to be now has prints of many different places and on the corner is this new shelf full of stuff. I’d love to get a 360 view of the entire place at NBC.com like his nerd herd desk but as is it’s pretty cool. Good catch.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think I mentioned this to you and Thinkling in an e-mail, but you get pretty close to a full view here. Of the room that is. But then there is a shirtless Chuck rolling around on the bed in his underwear so I don’t know if you actually saw the room. 😉

      • There’s a little Eiffel Tower at the top of their bed that we can see in FOD during the massage scene.

  24. Faith says:

    Somewhat off topic but equally awesome:

    The Chuck NBC boards (well me) are doing our very own Chuck awards. So vote for your favs!

    Although I think it’s fairly certain that Yvonne takes the trophy for Phase 3 :-D.

  25. Ernie Davis says:

    Comment number 305. Epic. Imagine if people actually liked this episode!

    I just caught up with the comments. I’ve pretty much had my say, so I’m not weighing in, again, probably, but I just have to say the discussion is amazing. You guys are the best.

    • It’s probably because everybody didn’t like it that we’re discussing it so much.

      I haven’t had time to be around much lately but I really wanted to participate to the AOT to Leftovers re-watch posts. Because Phase Three and First Fight were probably my favorites this season, and because I wanted to discuss the “faith, believe, trust” issues that were going on there and the de-intersected arc. It’s probably the things that were the most problematic to me this season, and I knew you guys would make some sense at of it! 😉

    • atcDave says:

      I think we’re all getting excited about the return of new episodes soon too; our enthusiasm is ramping up!

  26. uplink2 says:

    So yesterday I started reading some of the past topics that Ernie pointed out to me. Very very interesting read. One thing stuck out to me from the discussions before the season started that I wanted to comment on. First a little bit about me that I think is important to my point. I started watching Chuck at about the time of Jill’s first appearance Chuck VS The Ex. A friend had mentioned he loved the show and Yvonne and he thought I would like it as well. I quickly became a fan and it became appointment TV for me.That continued through season 3. Very early on I became a shipper as the relationship was my favorite part with the nerdy spy stuff a close second. But I never got involved in the online community till this past summer. I never read a spoiler, never read an interview with Schwedak, just watched the show as it aired. So I guess I was an example of most viewers.

    What I noticed in those early blogs and comments was that there was a lot of attention to Josh’s comment about some big traumatic event that was coming during the season. Some game changing thing that much of the season hinged on. What would it be, how would it impact things. etc. Obviously that was the Sarah killing of Eve Shaw that was supposed to make all of this storyline work with great drama. On paper this must have sounded good, have one of your stars kill the wife of her new LI that has been on a 5 year quest to take down those that murdered his wife etc. Sounds like a great dramatic storyline and I’m sure they thought it was. However because of how poorly Shaw was cast, how poorly his story was written and how most of us knew that Colonel changed everything between Chuck and Sarah and they were beyond the LI story working, viewers like me that saw it develop on screen simply didn’t care anymore. I had absolutely no sympathy for Daniel Shaw losing his wife to the agency he worked for. In fact I said to myself I wish Sarah had shot him too so we wouldn’t have to have gone through what we had been through for the first half of that season. I had no empathy for him, hated him and just wanted the story to end. So that even the other flaws of Other Guy I didn’t care about because it was finally over.

    I believe I am not alone in this at all. The arc was so poorly executed and IMO Brandon Routh is such a limited actor that we didn’t care about him in the least and it diminished how many viewed Sarah as well. Season 1/2 Sarah would never have revealed her real name to Shaw, she would have pulled her gun on him BEFORE she let him call Langley to destroy Castle with Chuck still in there instead of begging for 5 more minutes “for me”. She would have trusted Chuck when he said that what she saw at the train tracks was not what she thought. The big game changing event that the entire seasons drama was supposed to hinge on and explain everything about why Shaw even existed fell completely flat on me, the viewer. That is one of the biggest tragedies of season 3.0. Rather than relish in how our heroes would finally get together with a big dramatic event or final aha moment, we just wanted it over no matter how they did it. It diminished the 2 most important characters on the show and diminished our expectations of how this event would finally happen. All of the great C/S moments that were leading up to this point from the Lisa reveal to It Is Real were no longer as special as they had worked so diligently to create them.

    Now that being said starting with the great Honeymooners episode and through season 4 has been a serious attempt to restore the greatness that was these characters but it is going to take a while and may never be fully be restored. But I do love reading back to all of this with a view of how it all turned out and a part of me is very glad I wasn’t around back then and just let it play out in front of me. Sometimes I think I should do that again lol.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      Hi Uplink,

      I’ll disagree with this statement.

      * On paper this must have sounded good, have one of your stars kill the wife of her new LI that has been on a 5 year quest to take down those that murdered his wife etc. Sounds like a great dramatic storyline and I’m sure they thought it was. *

      This actually sounds like, and is, a soap opera.

      Other than that what you say is true. The bulk of the arc hinged on a character nobody cared for so the big arc climax had no relevance.

      • JC says:

        Completely agree, they ran the story through a character nobody sympathized with or cared about. And by attaching Sarah to him people starting feeling the same way about her.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      Oops I forgot.

      I also agree there have been serious attempts by the showrunners to find what they lost (read: threw away) in the infamous first 13. As you say from Honeymooners onwards, the fun has returned to the show.

    • atcDave says:

      Really excellent comment Uplink. I mostly agree with your take on things, although I’ll try to have it both ways and agree with Joseph too; the idea was too soap opera from the start, it was never a good story for Chuck.

    • uplink2 says:

      I also think that part of the issues some folks had was the rather lame explanation from Schwedak that was done after Mask aired. I didn’t read it at the time but the whole “trust us we know what’s coming down the road” They never acknowledged that it wasn’t just the separation and LI story with Chuck and Sarah people didn’t like, it was how badly it was being done. They still never have except for saying they learned their lesson about keeping them apart. They should have also learned the lesson that if you are going to take risks with a show’s main characters which you should, you better do it well. Especially the most important character on the show, in this case Sarah Walker. There is no show without either Chuck or Sarah but to me she is the more important, the most intriguing and TBH played by the best actor.

      • They never acknowledged that it wasn’t just the separation and LI story with Chuck and Sarah people didn’t like, it was how badly it was being done. They still never have except for saying they learned their lesson about keeping them apart.

        That’s my main problem about S3, and not just about TPTB. Everything that was said as reasons as for S3 to have not please the fans by cast & crew were either Chuck & Sarah being not being together or the darker tone.

        That wasn’t what made the season that bad to me. It was just poorly done. And it makes me wonder if they got it and just won’t do it again. They’re using plot devices again, old material and are letting some issues unresolved. This stuff just won’t work forever, even if CS are happy, and Yvonne or Timothy Dalton are on top of their game.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, I think the whole “trust us, we know what we’re doing” just sealed the hubris judgement on my part. It’s like the old joss whedon quote “give audiences what they need, not what they want.”. It just proves a disconnect between some writers and their responsibility to their audience. Writers can certainly earn some goodwill for taking chances on a story (as Schwedak did in S1 and S2), but with S3 they spent far more than they ever earned. The fact that this story still has emotional weight suggests to me that they still haven’t earned back everything they lost.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave they probably never will. But I give them credit for trying this season. As I mentioned before I sometimes think they don’t watch the show to see what the audience sees. I think that C/S was planned to be just a good TV WTWT romance from the beginning but that the chemistry between Yvonne and Zach was just so strong it took it to another level. Plus I don’t think they really knew just how great Yvonne in particular was as an actress. They may claim they had a 5 year plan but they should have been reading the audiences response to guide them to how to evolve the characters and give the audience what they need to enhance what they were responding to. The folks that run TBBT certainly did. Sheldon was planned as a minor supporting character and Leonard and Penny were to be the focus but once they recognized how great Jim Parsons was in the role Sheldon became the focus or at least on an equal footing. Once it became evident after Wookie that Yvonne was something really special and just how “epic”, hate that term, the romance was becoming so early on that 5 year plan needed to change.

      • Especially since they had to revised that plan because of the strike after S1, the show being on the bubble, then the 13-episodes order and budget cuts in S3, the back 6 order, and so on.

        This five year plan probably didn’t look like anything we’ve got from very early on.

        Maybe that was the problem. They tried to get back to it. To their original idea of what the show were going to be when it was already something else.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, ditto all that Uplink. We’re pretty much on the same page; except I do think they eventually intended to put Chuck and Sarah together, but the on screen reality should have led to an acceleration of the plan. Seeing Chuck and Sarah together has been a huge part of the draw for me since Tango, approximately as early as you indicated, so I think they really needed to re-evaluate. The way the Internet exploded with happy excitement after Colonel should have been a pretty big indicator to them it was time to deliver.

      • atcDave says:

        Crumby I really do suspect something like that; they tried to force things into their original outline long after it should have been scrapped.

      • Big Kev says:

        Dave,
        With respect, the only thing that the internet explosion after Colonel would have proved was that the a majority of the very small percentage of us that are hardcore fans wanted Chuck and Sarah together. As great as this blog is, we can’t be said to be representative of “the average fan”. My experience of other Chuck sites and other fandoms leads me to think that, if I was a show runner, the internet is the last place I’d be going for hints about where I should be taking my show.
        No doubt it’s an essential part of a showrunners’ job to figure out what their audience is, and what they want. The question is – how do you do that? The recurring theme of much of the criticism of S3 is that it should have been “obvious” what Schwartz/Fedak needed to do. I submit that it was far from obvious for people who have to write for the fanbase as a whole, and not just the small minority of us who post on blogs or attend conventions.
        A straightforward, more “conventional” wt/wt with a hero gets the girl climax was a completely justifiable “mainstream” decision. It’s the convention dictated by 30 years of established Hollywood relationship writing. As Liz James suggested at the time, it may even have been agreed with or insisted on by the network as part of the renewal pitch – we’ll probably never know. But to put the leads together for a whole season would have been a radical decision for any show, particularly a bubble show. Ernie has argued that it was a disappointing decision from a creative standpoint, and he’s dead right, but I don’t think you can blame Schwartz and Fedak for playing it safe. And I certainly don’t think you can argue that the opinions of a few internet fans and Comic Con fans, no matter how eloquently expressed, was a sufficient sample to be representative of the fanbase as a whole. If showrunning or writing was as “obvious” as that, we’d all be doing it.
        The execution of the Season however, is a lot less justifiable. Even if you’ve decided to write a conventional wt/wt and a happy ending, you’ve got to make the obstacles believable, and the love interests have to be sympathetic and viable, particularly when you’re dealing with well-loved characters who have been painstakingly put constructed over a couple of years. You’ll get no argument from me that the writers failed almost completely on both those counts – the premise of Prague was confused and badly explained, and the resolution was barely in character, and Shaw was….well, Shaw. They failed, and they lost their audience, and nearly their jobs, which is as it should be.
        There is never only one, “obvious” way to tell a story, particularly on network TV where there are commercial pressures and discussions going on that we never get to see.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Kev Great post. I will agree with most of what you said as we are in a bit of a closed bubble sometimes in how we view things. But as I said in my long earlier post I was that normal viewer. I never posted on any forum sites for the show never went to the Internet to talk about Chuck, just watched it each week as it aired. From that viewpoint I still came to the same conclusion at the end of season 2. The 2.0 was going to be a game changer but what I saw in Colonel was the strength of a relationship that was going to have to deal with this change but it wouldn’t be about darkness and new LI’s. Especially a very bad one. I never expected or wanted them to go there. Even after the final scene of Three Words. I loved the touching nature of it and fully expected it to come into play at some point but it never did except for a minute mention in TicTac. Keeping them apart for a while after that could have worked if they had acknowledged what we saw on the screen. Chuck did what he did because he was Chuck after all. He chose the caring, selfless, helpful hero’s path because he loved Sarah and his family. That should have mattered to Sarah and to the show to at least mention it and have her help him on that path while keeping him wary of the changes that she had experienced in her road to being a spy. But instead they pulled them apart and gave them new LI’s for no good reason other than melodrama and being standard TV fare. He may have wanted to now become a spy and it was her task to help him do that but she knew he still loved her. If we could see so easily that she still loved him why couldn’t he? Why didn’t he try to talk to her again after she said they might be able to clean it up? Instead they decided to just ignore it because it didn’t fit the chosen safe path of a traditional TV WTWT.

        It was really disappointing to me and to many I’m sure who just watched the show to be entertained. The show no longer was fun. Even with funny episodes we were left with such a depressed feeling at the end of each week’s episodes until Beard. I watch Chuck first and foremost because its a fun and entertaining show about a regular nerd like me who meets and falls for a beautiful spy. It has great characters and great geeky stuff I think is cool. At the end of each episode I want to feel like I’ve been entertained and excited for next week. I don’t want to feel depressed and saddened by a dark and weary route that makes me dislike these characters I have come to love.

        Now maybe the show runners should not go to the web to decide where to take their show but a fanbase like this one is bright, devoted and cares about making the show great. At the very least they need to be aware of some of these discussions even if they chose to ignore them. You need to know your audience and even the non-internet audience like I was last season had the exact same feelings as many who were active on the web. We all saw what we saw and it was so clear that it wasn’t working and that they were diminishing these great characters and actors we had come to love.

      • atcDave says:

        I have never claimed that there is only one obvious way to tell a story. But I stand by my assertion that they needed to put Chuck and Sarah together at the start of S3 and they should have known. It was more than a few Internet fans who felt that way. It was fans on the Internet and at Comic-Con and professional media critics. Not only that, I have always spoken with a number of more casual viewers I know who would never “waste their time” posting on line about the show; if anything, they tended to be even more sure of what the show needed than those who did write on-line. And those are the viewers who left during the season.
        I also don’t believe putting the central couple together is that radical an idea. It is currently a bit out of style, but until the 1970s it was quite common to handle serial television in that way. I doubt NBC cared about the issue, their own most successful show (“the Office”) had just scored good ratings with a high profile prime-time wedding; which is also proof TV couples do still get together on occasion.

        I have also never claimed breaking up Chuck and Sarah was the only thing done wrong in S3. We’ve just spent the last couple days going over the wide variety of things that were done wrong in S3, there were plenty. I do believe separating Chuck and Sarah was the first and biggest mistake, but I get that others feel differently. I’m not sure why you take such offense to my attempt to sort things out. We’ve all been offering opinions the last few days, my own has developed in detail, but not really changed in substance over the last year. Most others can say exactly the same. I like to think we’ve all sharpened each other over the months.
        And finally I’d add my own hope for all of this is to help change screen writing conventions for the next generation. I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life watching boring wt/wt based stories.

      • Big Kev says:

        Dave,
        I certainly didn’t mean to give the impression that I’m offended by anything you’ve written. I’m absolutely not. My intent was merely to post a counter argument to the idea that TPTB should have known that their story wasn’t going to work by reference to the internet, or even by reference to prevailing writing norms – that it was somehow “obvious”. We’re going to agree to disagree on that, but no worries there.
        I do think there is a section of the fanbase for whom any story other than Chuck and Sarah being together for S3 was always going to be unacceptable, and my comments about being wary of anyone who says there is only one way to tell a story were directed there. I’ll admit that I put you in that camp based on previous posts, so sincere apologies if I’ve misrepresented your views.
        Your reference to the way writing relationships changed in the 70’s does rather back up my point that the standard wt/wt relationship template is “a convention dictated by 30 years of established Hollywood relationship writing (ie from the 70’s onwards) – but I’m in complete agreement with you that anyone who can get away from that and write a mature, funny, adult relationship should be devoutly encouraged.
        That said, I’m not convinced that Chuck (the show) has quite managed to do that this season. Chuck (the character) has been poorly served in my view this season, and that has made the relationship much less compelling for me, but I’m happy to admit being in a majority on this blog in that view. I’m also happy to report that I’m thoroughly enjoying the season in spite of that, because other stories and characters are picking up the slack.

        Uplink,
        Completely agree with your impressions on what was wrong with the season and why. The irony is that picking a “conventional” story meant that they had to pay more attention to the writing, not less. I think they could have just about pulled off another round of PLI’s with some top notch writing, and with Bryce instead of Shaw (as I believe was originally intended) – but obviously that’s an opinion that I can’t prove. And to be clear, it’s absolutely not the road I would have chosen.

      • atcDave says:

        Kev I am of the camp there was no way to break up Chuck and Sarah and keep most viewers happy. But that never means there was only one way to tell the story, only that there was one thing they absolutely shouldn’t have done, and they did it. I can soften that some; it might have worked if they had introduced a round of purely professional or situational barriers that the couple was constantly trying to overcome. But re-using LIs (in a show that had already gone to that well too many times) was a bad idea and doomed at the start. That is the part I will not back away from.
        I do believe they should have known better; but that’s partly because I think 30 years is too short a view of history. That, and I’m deliberately agitating in hopes of forcing a change in the thought process. Much of my disappointment comes from thinking too highly of the first two seasons; I really thought Chuck was a show that would break with recent trends and deliver a more satisfying story. I held TPTB to a high standard and was disappointed. I still don’t consider it an unreasonable demand; other shows have, on occasion, broken free of the wt/wt model (mainly sit-coms) and in fact, Chuck is now delivering. To some extent I think they always intended this, but I believe the fan pressure that can be exerted in this information age has played a role too.

        Now I do agree they haven’t completely succeeded yet in delivering an adult relationship. They still seem trapped by the idea there must be some relationship turmoil on a regular basis; I would prefer to see it happen much less often. I would also prefer if more of their issues came from external forces instead of internal issues. But we’ve seen some very encouraging signs; Sarah’s arrest of mom was perfect, and the likely coming issue of Sarah/Frost parallels seems promising.
        But to me the bottom line is how completely fun this season has been. I think its awesome to see a modern show doing a reasonable job of having the central relationship grow to the point it has. I hope they’ll get better at writing for both the relationship and the characters in general as we go. I will always hate what they did with S3, but I am excited Chuck is back to being a show that’s willing break the mold.

      • uplink2 says:

        Kev, interesting points. I will disagree with you about Bryce. Sarah had already chosen Chuck over Bryce 3 times. Why would a fourth be any different? How would it have been done? Would he have gotten the 2.0 as was the supposed plan in Ring 1? Then there is no show as Chuck was de-Intersected. Did he need to come back from the dead again? Come on that would be really be a bad stretch. It simply would not have worked with him. His only big plus was he had a much better actor playing the part.

        The main point a lot of us I think feel is that Colonel changed the couple dynamic beyond where any LI’s would have worked. That is what TPTB needed to realize and yet they chose to ignore it. A far too common practice on this show sometimes.

      • JC says:

        What I think BigKev is getting at is the general story of S3 was originally meant for Bryce. The ending of Ring PT1 could have easily played the same with him surviving the gunshot.

        The character of Shaw needed to be a great spy, charming, mentor, etc. The only way you can establish that is show it on screen, which they didn’t. Or use a character that’s already been established. Replace Shaw with Bryce and in general the story works. No whiplash or setup needed because of Bryce’s history with both Chuck and Sarah. All those moments the TPTB had to explain wouldn’t have been needed with Bryce.

        And lets be honest Chuck killing Bryce to save Sarah truly would have been epic.

      • Big Kev says:

        JC/Uplink/Dave,
        Absolutely, JC. I am sure that was the original intention. I don’t know what the timeline is around when the stories were broken, compared to when Matt Bomer got the White Collar gig, but I’m sure I’ve seen an interview somewhere where it’s confirmed that Bryce was originally meant to return – and if that’s the case, I’m pretty sure it would be next to impossible to rewrite an entire season at that late stage.
        My point in all this is not to say that they made the right call – just to say that I can understand why they made the call they made.
        I think in a few years time, we may well look back on Seasons 3 and 4 of Chuck as being unique for a lot of reasons, both good and bad.
        The first show to be “rescued” thanks to an active fan campaign, then as Dave says, the first show where online reaction could be said to have influenced the direction of the show. It’s also possibly the first show to lose 30% of its audience and still be renewed – and to therefore have a chance to fix its own mistakes. To Chris Fedak’s credit, I think he’s mostly done that, and he’ll be a better storyteller and showrunner down the line for the mistakes and lessons learned from S3.
        I think you’re absolutely right Dave. The show we have now is back to being fun, entertaining and groundbreaking – exactly why I fell in love with the show in the first place.

      • jason says:

        @kev – I read something you posted earlier about NBC possibly having a hand in the direction of S3, I have thought so too, unless told by someone, we will never know, BUT NBC being complicit in the Shaw misery arc would explain how as show ‘loses 30% of its fans’, yet get renewed.

        I suppose the cast for Bryce thing could be what went on, I do not like his character much, so I have trouble picturing Bryce as working all that much better – matter of fact, I think it would have been worse, as Sarah turning to someone she rejected several times for chuck would have been even flakier – I have always understood the why with shaw (he was hot, he was her boss, she could be herself as flawed as she was with shaw), I just maintain it was one of the most painful (esp for a warm comedy)runs of 4th thru 19th episodes of a tv show I have been a fan of, other than a great 14th and 15th ep.

        In many ways, I love the fact the misery arc bombed, as in my opinion, that has led to an accelerated romance schedule in S4.

        My fan fic take on S4, TPTB are now trying to be epic in the coupling up of a wt/wt, breaking new ground if you ‘will or won’t’?

      • Big Kev says:

        Jason,
        Back around the time of Pink Slip or just before, Liz James posted that she thought the intention of S3 was to make Chuck a more conventional “spy type” hero, because the reversal of roles implicit in the first 2 seasons (ie Sarah as the strong, silent one) had been a ratings failure. Her spec was that this change in tone and direction was probably a condition of renewal. It was an idea that made a lot of sense to me at the time, and could certainly explain the darker tone and the regression of Sarah into a more conventional “damsel in distress” figure, who needs rescuing by the hero. It’s all speculation of course, but I think it’s likely that network management have some input into the direction of a season especially on bubble shows.
        You’re so right – the changes in 3.5 and 4.0 are a direct result of what went wrong with 3.0. It started with Honeymooners, which is a 42 minute apology (and a wonderful one) to every shipper in the fanbase, and it’s largely gone on from there.

      • JC says:

        Whats sad is that I think it was the unconventional nature of Chuck that drew in its core audience. By changing the story into a typical wt/wt, making Chuck a super spy but unwilling to cross certain boundaries, making like BigKev said Sarah a damsel in distress they alienated that core audience while failing to bring in new viewers.

        While I agree that S4 is an attempt to correct what went wrong and in general its been good. The show did lose some of it’s specialness along the way and I don’t know if they can ever recapture it.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree JC. Another case of miss-reading their audience. They also failed to realize that many fans like me watch the show not really because of Chuck but because of Sarah Walker. She is the most intriguing character and the one we care about most. Mainly because of how amazing Yvonne is but also because she is just such a layered character. Any damage done to that character is met with a great deal more outrage than any other would be. That is why season 4 has been such a joy for many. It really is the breakout season for Yvonne and for Sarah Walker. If that is the outcome of season 3 debacle then I guess it is a pretty great silver lining.

        I wonder sometimes who does their audience research because so many times they have been just outright wrong in how they see the show.

      • atcDave says:

        I totally agree with the later tone of this thread.
        I even agree the “misery arc” would have worked far better if Bomer had been available. I still don’t believe I would have liked it, but it would have been less damaging to the character of Sarah Walker and the show in general if we’d had Bryce instead of Shaw. I have also seen the interview comments where Schwedak (don’t recall which one!) indicated that was the original intent.
        I do think its likely NBC pushed for some of the changes to make Chuck a more “conventional” spy story for S3, exactly for the reasons Big Kev (and Liz before him) mentioned. And I do believe that was among their serious mistakes. But I still doubt NBC was pushing for the continued wt/wt; as I said before, “Office” had just seen a ratings bump and much free publicity from a well promoted wedding. I think if Schwedak had presented a more conventional spy story where the relationship was more like this season leading to a wedding finale episode NBC would have been enthusiastically on board. But that is one of those things we will likely never know.

        I am sorry for the negative tone of much of this thread. As I said before, I am currently very happy with the show. Onward!

  27. joe says:

    This is a little late, but thanks to ChuckTV.net, I’ve placed the full synopsis of 4.12, Chuck vs. the Gobbler in the Season 4.0 Spoiler Page.

    Well, it really couldn’t be Sarah’s last mission. Could it?

    Wasn’t it just this past summer we speculated that either Chuck or Sarah might wind up near death? (Actually, I remember the word “hospitalized”, but that’s close enough.)

    Sounds as exciting as I would hope for a (near) season-ending episode, like this might have been.

  28. alladinsgenie4u says:

    Trying to start a Season 4 related discussion:

    FoD also addressed (in small doses) Casey’s psyche. He is truly like an oiled machine that is afraid of going rusty. Although “the itchy trigger finger” was played for laughs, it serves also to portray a sad facet of Casey’s life. Loved the baby steps taken by Casey to open up more to Alex. We need to see some more father/daughter bonding scenes without the presence of Morgan as the third wheel. For Casey, it would serve as an interesting journey towards being more humane/connected. Given how the C/S relationship and their balancing of normality with spy life has progressed and is progressing more with each coming day – small glimpses of Casey trying to balance spy life with a semblance of normality through Alex and hopefully even Kathleen would be nice. Thoughts?

    • uplink2 says:

      I don’t see how they can ignore Kathleen entirely. How can Casey have a relationship with his daughter and not ever mention her mom, his ex-fiance. I’d like to see it at some point but if they do it will probably be at the end of the season. Casey needs more than 1 episode per season.

    • atcDave says:

      I’d also like to see Kathleen reappear at some point. Casey’s growth has been pretty steady throughout the series, he’s almost a normal guy now!

      • I don’t really need to see her again. For all we know, she’s moved on and Casey has too. But they should have her mentioned. It’s just weird not to know what the situation is.

        My guess is Alex is bound to secrecy. Nobody can know “Alex Coburn” isn’t dead. So her mom doesn’t know.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        I would love to see Forrest again though. She and Casey had a freaky sort of chemistry.

    • JC says:

      Since S3(sorry) and the rise of Morgan, Casey has really taken a back seat on the show. Its a shame since some of the best scenes the last two seasons has been his interactions with both C/S. The funny thing about Casey is even though he and other people act like he’s a machine IMO he’s more adjusted than either Chuck or Sarah.

      What I’m surprised is they haven’t had a scene with Chuck, Casey and Alex. If there’s one person who would understand the dynamic between Casey and Alex its Chuck.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I know a lot of fans love the growth of Morgan, but IMHO it has come at the expense of the other three core members of Team B.

        Theory of Character Growth/Regression by alladinsgenie

        Rise of Morgan is inversely proportional to decline/regression of Team B.

      • As hilarious as he can be, Morgan is taking too much screen time. It’s almost like the three main characters are Chuck, Sarah & Mrogan and Casey, Ellie and Awesome are supporting…

      • atcDave says:

        I agree entirely Crumby and I think most of us here agree. Morgan is occasionally very funny, but enough already. I want Chuck, Sarah, and Casey!

    • uplink2 says:

      Well there is supposed to be some monumental Casey Sarah scene coming. I really enjoy their “girl” talks. One of the best parts of Cubic Z. They have a bond that has become very special and always brings a certain humanity to both characters.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        ‘Teasers’ are always overrated and exaggerated to boot 😉

        That being said,I love any and all scenes involving Casey and Sarah. 🙂

      • Big Kev says:

        Oh man, I loved that sparring scene in Cubic Z. There’s limitless potential for comedy gold in the idea that Sarah and Casey – to differing extents both emotionally dysfunctional – discuss their lady feelings with each other. Fantastic.

        As for what’s coming, I’m really looking forward to seeing Sarah and MamaB work together, with all the parallels that involves. I know some would rather see Sarah and Chuck working together, and I get that, but Sarah forging a relationship and a bond with Mary is something that none of us have seen, and a new situation or dynamic is always going to be interesting to me.

      • “Oh. OH.” “Subtle Walker!” 🙂

        Loved that scene too. And the Sarah-Casey relationship is great. It’s a shame he’s spending more time with Morgan and the Buy Morons than CS now.

    • I really enjoyed what they’ve done with the Casey-Alex relationship.

      It doesn’t take too much place, but it’s still really there.

      Mekenna Melvin has played it really well I think. And Adam Baldwin has given an all new layer to Casey with this.

      I don’t really know where I want them to get the relationship though. I was hoping for Alex to become involved with the FBI or something.

  29. atcDave says:

    Okay, I just rewatched this last night; and I have to comment on something that likely only bothered me. Sarah says she can be in Switzerland in just a couple hours via supersonic jet. So what do they show landing? A BAe 146; that’s a smallish commercial jet that isn’t even particularly fast as aluminum tubes go. Would have been really cool to show an F-22 touching down; I mean, we know Sarah can fly…

    • thinkling says:

      An F-22 touching down … the pilot taking off the helmet … and Sarah’s hair shaking loose. Mm-hmm

      • atcDave says:

        That might require more than just file footage. But yeah, if the Air Force would co-operate that would be even better.

  30. Pingback: His and Hers Stupid Stick « Chuck This

  31. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Fear of Death (4.08) | Chuck This

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