Chuck Bartowski: Hero, Spy, or Regular Guy?

An Epic Response to Faith and Ernie’s excellent and epic post

Fear of Death raises the question, and ever since it first aired, this title has been sitting atop an empty page, save a few bare-bone thoughts. Faith and Ernie’s post and the great discussions that followed began putting sinew to bone and bringing my thoughts to life.

Just as circumstances in Cubic Z forced Sarah to answer Graham’s question “Who are you,” Fear of Death finds Chuck caught up in a situation that will wrest an answer from everyone as to what he is without the Intersect: hero, spy, or regular guy. Of course the answers that matter most are Chuck’s and Sarah’s.

I can’t figure out why Bryce did this, why he chose me … You’re good at your job, too, you know the one where you risk your life to save others, the one you didn’t ask for but were supposed to have … I’m just a Putz who gets paid to wear a pocket protector … I’ve seen you in action; you can do anything … I’m just Chuck Bartowski, not a hero … How many times do you have to be a hero to realize you are that guy … I have to tell her the truth, that I am a spy … Are you a spy or a guy with a spy girlfriend … I’ve never been a spy without the Intersect, and I quite like being a spy, doing great things, doing them with you … You don’t need the Intersect to do great things; you’re great on your own … But am I a spy?

Before his 26th birthday, the answer was so obvious that the question didn’t need to be asked. Chuck Bartowski, by all appearances, was a regular guy. What else could he be? His sister thought he was a really great guy, though not living up to his potential, but hero wouldn’t have entered her description of her brother, not even of the guy she thought he could be. No job he might have aspired to, like the ones he first describes for Charles Carmichael, will bring out the hero in him. He’s just a regular guy, with sub par ambitions and not an ounce of mojo.

Two forces change all of that. Indeed, without them the question would never have been asked. Which forces are those, you ask? The Intersect and Sarah Walker. These two forces blasted Chuck from the anesthetic comfort of mediocrity into a life of fear, danger, and anxiety … a life to test his metal and show what he is made of. It is the Intersect that makes the question viable to begin with and the loss of the Intersect at the end of First Fight that brings the question full circle. The Intersect catalyzed such a profound change that the one question that would never have been asked before the Intersect, is the question that consumes Chuck in the wake of its disappearance. What is he without the Intersect? Hero, Spy, or Regular Guy?

Now, to interject a bit about Sarah. FOD uncaps the question about Sarah’s perception of Chuck. How would she answer the question? Which Chuck did she fall for versus which Chuck did she choose? For Chuck & Sarah to move forward, must Sarah actively choose Chuck the regular guy? Sarah has a type. OK, what is her type … exactly? The last one is really the pivotal question and why “Chuck” is about Chuck and Sarah, not just Chuck.
Recall our discussions in Cubic Z Rewatch about Sarah’s underdeveloped sense of her own identity. In Sarah, there’s a Girl on the Inside that needs to be rescued and given a chance and a context to be, or rather to become. The Girl Inside needs a hero, and Sarah keeps looking for him. Hero is her type. In her profession there are lots of heroes to call on. They all happen to be spies. They respond with enthusiasm to Sarah, but they never see the Girl Inside. The problem with spy heroes is that it’s not her spy side that needs developing or rescuing. Spies don’t have what she needs or what it would take to rescue the Girl Inside.

When Sarah enters the Buymore, Chuck is her mark, a typical assignment, an easy one at that … piece of cake … or not. Turns out her mark is not so typical. Sarah is enthralled as Chuck passes on her flirtations to rescue a little girl. As Agent Walker momentarily disappears, the Girl Inside finds her Hero, and Sarah is captivated. One act of kindness. Two rescues … one done and one begun. As the encounter progresses, Sarah sees the hero in Chuck that no one else can see, especially Chuck. “Some people want to be heroes, and others have to be asked. So, Chuck are you ready?”

Fast Forward through the captivating story we love, the misery arc we love to hate, and the brilliant continuation of the story we love, to Fear of Death and the questions at hand. Chuck and Chuck-and-Sarah are without the Intersect, a defining aspect of their lives since they met. What will that mean for them? For the record, to me this is not at all like the Intersect malfunction of s3. It’s entirely different. The Intersect catalyzed a lot of changes in their lives. If you take away the Intersect, what’s left? For Chuck to have any solid sense of who he is and what he has to offer, he must know who he is without the intersect. It’s critical for Chuck & Sarah to define their relationship without the Intersect so that going forward they can be all that they can be, with it or without it. That means Sarah choosing Chuck the regular guy and Chuck choosing Sarah over the Intersect and being a spy. Just like Ernie said. Great stuff IMO.

I agree that for Chuck & Sarah to move forward Sarah must actively choose Chuck the regular guy, but for different reasons from Ernie’s. Ernie says Sarah chose Chuck the spy not Chuck the regular guy. I see the whole scenario slightly differently.

We all know she fell for Chuck the regular guy. She says so in her Other Guy confessions and again in Ring II, “I fell in love with a regular guy.” Can’t get much more unequivocal than that. But which guy did she actively choose? Aha. A more interesting question.

I posit that she chose Chuck the regular guy … twice, but for Chuck’s sake she must do so again. The first time, he never knew it, and the second time he didn’t choose her back. Sarah reversed her decision to go with Bryce and chose to stay with Chuck. “Chuck, I don’t want to save the world. I want” … a cheese burger with extra pickles. Bzzzt, wrong answer. The reveal, that Chuck never heard, was that Sarah wanted Chuck. The de-intersected one she was dancing with … the regular guy who wanted a real life. The second time, whether it was a finesse or a plot device, whether they sold it or not, was a real choice. She offered her bank account and herself, albeit with a lifestyle that fit her dysfunctional past. She bought the tickets, got fake ID’s and forged papers, showed up on the platform with her suitcase … right on time. She met him with glowing hope and a passionate kiss. Looked like a choice to me and with an investment of a lot more than a few boxes of take-out.

I agree with Ernie that by the time it was possible to choose, Chuck never actually chose Sarah over being a spy. When confronted with that choice, what did he choose? He chose not to turn his back on a trust. That’s what the Intersect was to him … a trust of something bigger than himself — the responsibility to help a lot of people, for the sake of his friends and his family and ultimately for the sake of his love for Sarah. He knew full well that his choice meant giving up his own dream … a life with Sarah. He verbalizes this to us twice: to Beckman in Pink Slip, to Shaw and Sarah in Beard. So Joe was right, it was her Chuck, the Hero that always does the right thing, that abandoned her on the Nadrazi station platform.

How did Sarah’s choice take shape? Sarah clearly did not want Chuck to become a spy and struggled with it all through his journey from regular guy to spy. But, but, what about her type … and Ernie’s point that by the time Sarah actually chose Chuck, he had proven himself a better spy than Bryce, Cole, and Shaw? Her type is hero, not necessarily spy. By the time Sarah chose Chuck, he had proven himself to be the same untarnished Hero that she recognized inside the regular guy she fell for. The one that captivated her — the hero-half of the package she fell in love with. That’s who she chose. Not until he had out-heroed everyone by saving Shaw, the one man standing between them (and not just because it was right, but for her, because she cared about him) … only then did she realize that even though he was a spy, he was still her Chuck. He still wouldn’t turn his back on what was right, even if it meant losing her … again. And why did it take his ultimatum and sweeping declaration of love for her to choose him? Because the last time she put all of herself into choosing him, he didn’t choose her back.

Parenthetical analysis at no extra charge: I almost don’t want to go here, but since it’s been so widely discussed, here’s my very short version of Sarah’s choice of Shaw. Was it a calculated choice? Yes. Based on Romance? I think she was trying to convince herself that it could be. Mostly I see it as pure rebound born of hurt after witnessing the Bartowski family dinner with Hannah in her place. It was a return to her default setting, caused by a sense of extreme loss. Why ultimately could she be with Shaw and not Chuck? Again, short answer only because it would seem negligent not to mention it. She believed that her Chuck — all the things that made him great, the best part of him that she had fallen in love with, and all that he once represented to her — was lost. Her Chuck had become nothing but a spy, the thing that she was before Chuck. But if she was going to settle for just a spy, why not settle for Chuck instead of Shaw? Because she thought Chuck’s descent and loss of innocence was all her fault … something she couldn’t live with. Just my take.

For my Costa Gravan Pesos Sarah already chose Chuck the regular guy, but I see why Chuck keeps betting against himself. He’s missing some key information. So, yeah, she needs to choose Chuck the regular guy, the one with no Intersect and no spy credentials. Obviously, she does that to everyone’s satisfaction in Phase 3.

Chuck chooses Sarah over the Intersect and being a spy, while dangling 200 feet above a rocky death. “But I do need her! I love her, and I’d rather love Sarah than have the intersect.” It was a good reminder for him that Sarah is the most important thing. Something even Jeff knew.

Without the Intersect of course Chuck is still a regular guy. But is he a hero? Oh yeah. He’s looking out for the interest of his team. He is still protecting Sarah as best he can. He warns her about the ninja in the bedroom. (Something my husband has never failed to do.) He warns her in Leftovers that he can’t handle the baddies. He wants her safely out of harm’s way when he can’t protect her. His blind spot, though, is her heart. He’s not protecting her heart, which of course is his own life. Yes, he’s a hero. Sarah knows he is and always will be a hero. Her asking him not to be one is proof of that. Just this once, she wants him not to be that guy, because it could get him killed.

But Am I a spy? That’s the question that’s most important to him.

Why is it not enough for Chuck to be just the regular guy that Sarah loves? First, he wants to be all that Sarah deserves, and in his mind he doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Bryce and Cole, whom he sees as the type she was attracted to in the past and the type she still deserves. Second, he is a hero — a good guy who wants to help people. The hero in him needs someplace to hang his hero hat. To him that means being a spy.

So, does Sarah see Chuck as a spy without the Intersect? Why does she hesitate when he asks, “But am I a spy?” She thinks Chuck Bartowski is great — first, last, and always. He is a hero whether he is a spy or not. She knows that he possesses aptitude and many spy-worthy qualities. That’s not her hesitation. She won’t stop him from going on missions or being a spy as long as he has proper backup. That’s not her hesitation. Her view of the spy life is more complex than his. Where Chuck knows almost exclusively the cool, heroic aspect of being a spy, Sarah’s definition and experience of the spy world include the dark underside of deceit and danger and killing. Being a spy doesn’t add anything to Chuck’s stature in her eyes. Until he became the exception to all she had known, becoming a spy only stood to diminish him.

But he did become the exception to … everything. He has kept the innocence that most spies lose at this level. As we see in Phase 3, who Sarah is and what she wants in life are tied to Chuck. She needs him to be OK. She needs him to be Chuck. On some visceral level she needs him to not be a spy, and she will probably always try to protect him from the darkness and deceit as well as the dangers of that world.

She accepts him as a spy and knows he’s a good one, but she’ll never see him as a spy the way she sees Casey and Bryce and Cole as spies. In her mind that’s a good thing. He is her Chuck and that says more than hero, more than spy, and more than any other label out there.

Did the Intersect-less arc advance our heroes? Was there a point to it all? Yes. Ultimately Chuck and Sarah had to answer these questions:

What would I be without the Intersect?
Where would we be without the Intersect?
If I had it to do over again, would I choose to be the Intersect?

Chuck & Sarah had both come as far as they could without addressing these Intersect-less questions. Now, Chuck knows that Sarah’s gonna marry him with or without it. He’s a spy with or without it. Ergo, he doesn’t need it. That means he’s ready for it in ways he wasn’t before. He can be the spy it lets him be with confidence. Chuck & Sarah know that no matter what happens with the Intersect or the spy life, they want to spend their lives together. It’s a good place to be. Savor the moment …

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About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
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242 Responses to Chuck Bartowski: Hero, Spy, or Regular Guy?

  1. iNewbie says:

    Wow, really digging this post. Thanks for such an amazing outlook on the Chuck/Sarah/Intersect triangle!

    Just one complaint – how can you use the word “epic” in the subtitle? Haven’t you heard of the Joseph Rule? xD

    • thinkling says:

      You’re welcome. Glad you liked it.

      Um, no. But I do want to play by the rules, so please enlighten me about the Joseph Rule. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        The word epic is no longer to be used. I’m still working on a substitute myself; really awesome and big just takes too much space to type every time…

      • thinkling says:

        Epic is a four letter word, now, huh. Note to self … don’t use the word epic again.

    • joe says:

      Heh! Joseph wants to retire the word – but it’s such a good one, and so apt here!

      We might as well try to not use the word Awesome in these comments. Can’t be done. 😉

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Joe, you “seconded” the motion did you not? 🙂

        We could always use “Duck” in its place. 😀

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      The next words I want to retire are “game changer”. 🙂

      • jason says:

        joseph – I just switched over to game changer, that’s not fair, oh well, if TPTB agree to keep writing great episodes, I won’t have to use those words to poke fun at their implied greatness turned to ineptness.

    • kg says:

      would any of these synonyms suffice? such as magnanimous, venerable, sensational, redoubtable, majestic, magnificent and even pithy?

      • kg says:

        Scintillating just jumped into my head, from the perspective of witty and brilliantly clever. Actually, scintillating might provide a substitute for “genius” here and there.

  2. kg says:

    Excellent Thinkling. A-plus. I agree. Therefore, my answer to your headline question is — All of the above: He is hero, spy and regular guy all at once. It’s what makes him uniquely special.

    And Sarah figured this out sometime after Chuck fixed her phone (or saved a little girl) and started diffusing bombs with computer viruses.

    But as some have said, Sarah is a woman of actions and little words. And now she sees the need and inportance for both.

    • thinkling says:

      I agree KG. The only thing that varies is his level of function as a spy.

      What’s coming up looks awesome. I kind of hope the intersect is back to stay.

      • sd says:

        I agree, and to take it further, I think the whole intersect or no intersect has frankly been played out—almost as much as the dreaded PLI story line.

        My complaint— it seemed as if the show-runners and writers couldn’t pick a lane of traffic when it came to Chuck w/ intersect and Chuck w/out. Pick a lane and commit.

        My hope is that the Ellie “fix”–which, of course, is ironic since she did the very thing she didn’t want to do–imbeds the intersect making it an intuitive device..sort of how she described it when she told Awesome her dad approached the computer program from a mechanical as opposed to a neurological standpoint.

        My hope moving forward is that we have seen the last of the intersect-less Chuck story-line.

      • thinkling says:

        I see no need to lose the intersect again, either, though I still defend this arc and think it accomplished some necessary things for Chuck and Chuck & Sarah.

        I hope you’re right about the Ellie fix being intuitive … cool.

  3. atcDave says:

    Thanks for a “really awesome and big” post Thinkling. I love your analysis. I don’t quite agree with “love to hate” the misery arc, I feel no such duality; but otherwise wonderful comments.
    I especially liked your take on the importance of that first encounter; my own, much simpler view, has just been that Chuck is likely the first completely decent and unselfish person Sarah has ever met. But you managed to flesh that out in considerably more detail.
    I still hope at some point the show will become more about the mature couple and partners, doing great things together. But as others have observed, one of the (few) disappointments of this season is the realization that they likely never intend to deliver such a story. At this point, too much introspection starts to reflect poorly on our main characters; I hope they are able to turn the focus more outward.

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry. It’s just that we hate it so often and with such alacrity that it just seems like something we love to do.

      Totally agree with your last paragraph. That’s what i want to see, too.

  4. jason says:

    I am quite pleased to say the word ‘epic’ was my own sarcastic code word to use describing anything great Fedak said about season 3’s misery arc. I will stop using epic in that sense, henceforth, epic=sarah walker in 4×9 only.

    I wrote my own post once about a very unpopular viewpoint of mine, that sarah had a type, and it was not chuck at all, indeed sarah’s type was the alpha male that Bryce, Cole and yep, that old ‘gamechanger’ himself, shaw were – and chuck himself was by the time season 3’s misery was winding down when he couldn’t get sarah to pick him either (sarah treated chuck in 3×11 much like she treated beefcake).

    Problem was, much as the alpha male dog was her fantasy type, she never, ever picked that type, when given a chance to pick between ‘her’ chuck and that alpha male type. Matter of fact, she could not even pick alpha chuck over the by then hopeless, hapless, ‘gamechanger’ Shaw, although that may indeed been more her anger that her chuck was not available.

    But the moment ‘her’ boy burst onto the scene, late in ep 3×12, it was over, game, set, match.

    These days, the intersect affords sarah a little quality fantasy time with her ‘crush’ type when he is a flashin, while day to day, she gets bombarded with the only thing she needs, lots of heroic, nerdish eye brow dancin.

    The only thing we have not seen from TPTB in S4, is Sarah getting confronted with an overly flirtatious alpha male. How will she react? How will Chuck react? Well, I guess we saw a little bit, the alpha male who tried to be her boyfriend in thailand did not fare too well – Mr Fedak, now that was indeed EPIC?

    • joe says:

      So glad you wrote all that, Jason. I’ve been trying NOT to for a long, long time!

      I should be waaayyyy beyond fretting over Sarah going off with her fantasy-type alpha-male. But oh yeah, it gets to my hind-brain every time. I think I just admitted that Schwartz & Fedak do indeed have my number.

      Okay, okay. I’ll admit it outright. “The Nerd Gets The Girl” is still tremendously satisfying, even to a grandfather!

      • atcDave says:

        Just think how satisfying it will be when Sarah shoots down the alpha male for our favorite nerd.

      • thinkling says:

        Shoots down, as in literally or figuratively 😉

        I keep thinking of the poor Russian that ended up with two broken thumbs and a kicked-in face, except that he was far from an alpha male.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, perhaps both!

  5. thinkling says:

    Really interesting Jason. Those alpha guys had part of what she needed, but not everything. Before Chuck I’m not sure Sarah knew what they lacked. But the Girl Inside knew it immediately as she watched Chuck and the ballerina.

    After Chuck, the alpha gang just didn’t measure up. It’s interesting that until Chuck dumped her and left her for Hannah and then flaunted their relationship, Sarah never cheated on Chuck, her cover boyfriend.

    How would she react to an alpha male. Probably the same way she reacted to Shaw at first. It was not positive. Pity the guy that tries now. Chuck is everything to her.

    • jason says:

      @hey think – nice work on this – what I tried to convey, was there is a ‘type’ you think you want, then there is a ‘type’ you really want, usually, around the time most of us got around to marrying or sooner, if we were lucky, those two types sort of merged.

      I think the former was sarah’s bryce-cole-shaw, the latter was chuck …. the genius of S4 (maybe even the Honeymooners), is Sarah ‘felt’ the two types come together –

      with Chuck, sarah was always his crush but it is also debatable about if he always thought sarah was best for him either – hence, we kept getting brunette, petite, happy normal girls to compete with his giant blond ninja warrior princess.

      Not only are alpha males in trouble around Sarah, I would not want to be the next ‘normal’ petite little brunette to bat an eye at ‘Sarah’s’ Chuck

      • iNewbie says:

        @jason “Not only are alpha males in trouble around Sarah, I would not want to be the next ‘normal’ petite little brunette to bat an eye at ‘Sarah’s’ Chuck”

        I always thought Chuck’s girlfriends end up being treated way worst than Sarah’s LIs. And I still have trouble digesting what happened with Hannah…

      • joe says:

        I was taken aback by this at first, iNewbie. But then I realized…
        being dumped with not even an attempt at a plausible explanation *is* worse than a lead pipe upside the head after a beat down 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Jason, I think in a round about way, we’re saying the same thing. Although Chuck wasn’t alpha in the James Bond sense, it’s hard to beat his death defying swing off the Buymore roof. He’s sort of a Hero with a nerd exterior and an alpha heart.

        There’s the love side, too, which I didn’t talk about. Chuck loved all of her, especially the Girl Inside. After feeling Chuck’s love, the substitutes she had sought in the past no longer felt like love. So with the return of Bryce and the appearance of Cole, it was tempting, but in the end, no thanks.

      • thinkling says:

        @Joe: Clue … I love that game.

        So, your guess is that Agent Walker did it in the Buymore with the lead pipe.

  6. treecrab says:

    Am I the only one who thinks one of the reasons why Chuck wants to be a spy so bad is because he wants to be with Sarah? You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, DUH, isn’t that what Thinkling just said?” And yes, but I don’t mean be with in a general, abstract sense, I mean literally be with her.

    Already this season there have been two times where Chuck wasn’t a spy and what happened? Sarah was sent away from him for significant lengths of time both instances. For Anniversary, it was for months, and during FOD, she was gone for a month while he was being tested. I think there is even dialogue in FOD where Sarah is asking him why he wants the Intersect back so bad and he says something about how he wants to keep the team together and wants to be her partner on missions.

    It just seems like to me, they’ve already established this season that if Chuck isn’t going into the field with Sarah, they may be together as a couple, but they won’t be spending time around each other. And I’ve always seen part of Chuck’s desperation to get the Intersect back as because he wants to spend as much time as possible with Sarah and I’m sure there is a voice in the back of his head that is telling him if he’s not her partner and she’s always away on missions, she may forget about him or fall for somebody else or end up like his mother.

    • thinkling says:

      Good points, treecrab. “Doing great things, doing them with you.” Yeah, I don’t see how they could maintain for long with only one of them in the agency. In together or out together. That’s how I see it over the long haul.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m okay ending the show with “out together”; but until then, the other way is far batter!

      • thinkling says:

        Absolutely Dave. Out together and one out/one in are not appealing. It’s all in together, doing great things together. That’s the ticket.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        It’s all in together, doing great things together. That’s the ticket.

        Of course it’s THE ticket. But are TPTB willing to cash in on it or just raise false hope from time to time. Personally, I would very much have loved to see Chuck and Sarah together take down Volkoff standing side buy side throughout. But the synopsis of 4×12 and 4×13 puts a dampener on my hope. I am not saying that the story that is going to be told will not be enjoyable since C/S will probably be apart professionally, just that more C/S together as a spy team gives me more entertainment.

      • atcDave says:

        Agree entirely Genie. That is my only real concern right now, if they’ll ever deliver on the promise of an awesome team. Of course 4.13 isn’t the end of it, even if Volkoff is taken down with the team working different directions, it isn’t the end of the show yet. The later S4, and maybe even S5 episodes are another opportunity. Hopefully TPTB are still paying attention to what their audience wants, there seems to be a lot of unity on this issue.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        standing side buy side

        THE HORROR!! Ant believe the mistakes people make. What’s their hurry? Is the thread running away? 🙂

        Dave

        Hopefully TPTB are still paying attention to what their audience wants, there seems to be a lot of unity on this issue.

        It’s not just what the audience wants. It’s also because they themselves set up such a possible premise starting from 3×14. We even had the Turners endorsing them as a spy team. We also got glimpses of them working together throughout in 4×02, 4×04 and 4×05. I am not saying that each and every mission/story have them working together (although it’s desirable) – but not to have them working together in a high stakes situation (4×12 and 4×13) somewhat dampens the enjoyment (for me). Although it will still be great to see them saving the day even when professionally apart.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Ant believe the mistakes people make. What’s their hurry? Is the thread running away?

        OOh! This is priceless. Look at this -pot calling the kettle. 🙂 People are so full of themselves.

      • atcDave says:

        The official 4.12 synopsis does say Sarah recruits Chuck, Casey and Morgan to complete her mission. I’m cautiously optimistic, I think they get it.

      • thinkling says:

        Go easy on the brain bleach Genie. That stuff can cause typo’s.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Typo’s are a small price to pay. Rather have typos than revisit Misery. 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        Great thread everyone. Lots to think about.

        [i]I’m okay ending the show with “out together”; but until then, the other way is far batter![/i]

        Here is my dream finale for the show and judging by what Josh did with the OC its plausible. I see the end of the final episode 10 years in the future where we open in the exact kitchen from Suburbs. Sarah is cooking breakfast pregnant with a 2 year old girl in the high chair. The camera pans over to a small boy about 6 or 7 who walks over to a door that is just ajar with locks on it. The boy pushes the door open and we see Chuck working at a desk with 3D projection graphics. He kindly scolds the young Stephen about coming into his office and as he gets up to get him to leave the camera pans to the computer screen and we see detailed plans with the headline Intersect 5.0 fade to black.

        Corny as hell I know but still I’d like to see it.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink that would be a very acceptable end. I think there are a lot of good options, I just hope it’s a long time yet before we see one.

    • atcDave says:

      I think you’re exactly right treecrab. Anniversary really bothered me for that reason, I found it very depressing. FoD didn’t bother me quite so much; Chuck’s line “wherever you were this time” (or something like that; from their greeting in the Buy More) suggested to me she had been back multiple times during the month.

      But even if the second situation wasn’t quite so bleak as the first; its still sad to think of so much time apart. I wouldn’t wish that on any relationship, and I don’t believe its healthy.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I am wondering if we get a time jump again in 4×12 – Sarah leaves to help Mama B, Chuck does what? twiddle his thumbs at the Nerd Herd desk and before you know it, a month or two have already passed.And when Sarah returns she isn’t Sarah but a Miranda Lawson lookalike.

      • atcDave says:

        There could be another jump. It looked like a pretty relaxed and happy re-union so don’t think it will be too traumatic a break. (working apart for a couple days here and there doesn’t sound like a big deal. But more than a couple days a week does start sounding like a big deal to me).

      • thinkling says:

        There’s no thumb-twiddling here. 😉

        I could see a jump, since without one Ellie will deliver at a lot less than 9 months. But who knows.

        I prefer them together as much as possible. They have reached their quota of apart time for this season, IMO. Although, the apart time of S4 has not been as bad as a lot of the together time of S3.0.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @thinkling – I believe the major time jumps happening this season were solely to accommodate the birth of Baby Awesome in 4x13Any guess as to how far along Ellie is? 7 or 8 months? If so, another 1or 2 month time jump is entirely plausible.

      • thinkling says:

        She was 13 weeks in Suitcase. That puts it at about 7 months. But TPTB are not the best time keepers

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      I’m sure there is a voice in the back of his head that is telling him if he’s not her partner and she’s always away on missions, she may forget about him or fall for somebody else or end up like his mother.

      Good point. Hurrah!! for Chuck and his abandonment issues.

      @Thinkling

      Just read your thoughts. Nice summation, although when I saw the Hack and Sham phase being mentioned and likely to be discussed again, I found myself scouring my supply closet for brain bleach. 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks Aladins. I tried to tread lightly and not get bogged down, but it’s hard to talk about this topic without going there some. Hope you didn’t have to exhaust your supply.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I have rationed my supply – to get me through the comments. 😉 🙂

    • treecrab says:

      The problem is, I don’t think the show sees it the same way, Thinkling. It doesn’t seem to have any problem with separating them. Mainly because I’m not sure the show really gets what being separated like they were in Anniversary would actually do for the relationship. It would slowly make the relationship wither away if they are separated like that.

      I’m with you in that they either need to be both in together or both out, the either or is unsustainable.

      And I think with the synopses out for 4.12 and 4.13, it looks like we’re going to have Chuck and Sarah separated even more. I just hope they bring them together for the end or find some way to make it compelling or I’m going to be disappointed.

      • I didn’t get the feeling that they were continuously apart in Anniversary. I think it lasted months but Sarah was back multiples times in between missions during that period, exactly like in FOD.

      • atcDave says:

        Could be Crumby, we don’t really know. The situation in Anniversary felt more desolate to me.

      • I guess it just doesn’t make any sense to me that Sarah and Casey wouldn’t come back regularly to Castle considering they weren’t undercover.

        The “more desolate” feeling came from (for me) the fact that the situation lasted longer in Anniversary, and Chuck was completely out. No talk about mission or possibility to be with Sarah while she was working in Burbank, stuff like that.

      • treecrab says:

        I don’t see that, Crumby. I thought there were multiple dialogue cues that indicated that Sarah hadn’t seen Chuck in a very long time. That was why they were doing the sexting or why they hadn’t celebrated their anniversary in the first place, because Sarah wasn’t around. Plus, even if she had come back in between missions, just look at what happened in the actual episode. She arrives in Burbank but is then gone again in a matter of hours. So even if she was back in between missions, she wasn’t staying for very long.

      • treecrab says:

        Pressed enter too soon. Plus, if Sarah was coming back between missions, that would make Chuck’s own mission very difficult. How would he be able to always plan his trips around when Sarah would return? I doubt she kept a very strict schedule, or that he always knew ahead of time, so unless she was gone for long periods of time, there is probably no way Chuck could have done his own trip around the world without being gone while Sarah was back in Burbank.

      • I agree they didn’t see each other much. I just don’t think Sarah was away without interruption.

        As for Chuck and Morgan’s trips, it doesn’t make any sense either way. How would Ellie not figure out that they were away for so long? Especially if they didn’t get back regularly.

        But you’re right I probably underestimated this separation time a little.

        It wasn’t that bad in FOD though.

      • patty says:

        I think Beckman was keeping Sarah busy in Anniversary in order to “encourage” Chuck to return.

      • Or she was just jealous! 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Ah! The Ducks raise their head again. 😉

    • Yep. He said in American Hero: “What’s the point of being a spy without her?”

      • Big Kev says:

        You know, I’ve never been completely convinced that Chuck really wants to be a spy since Honeymooners. He looked perfectly happy to be out at the end of Ring II, and only got back in to find MamaB. Even his insistence on wanting to be a spy during the Intersect-less arc and Fear of Death only comes about, to me, because of his insecurities about his worth to Sarah without the intersect. He does make an impassioned defence of his choice to Stephen in (I think) Living Dead, but I do honestly think the answer to the question “does Chuck really want to be a spy?” is ambiguous at best.
        Destiny is all well and good, but if Sarah sat him down and said, unequivocally, “Chuck, I’m done with being a spy. I want out”, does anyone doubt that Chuck would follow suit, greater good be damned?

        Yes, he needs somewhere to hang his hero hat, but he’s only going to be a spy for as long as Sarah is.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you’re 100% right about that Kev.

      • joe says:

        I’m not sure I know either. Sarah’s shown a bit of that too – for almost all of three seasons she was all spy, but then there was that scene in a suburban kitchen, and later, a vow to give up the spy life.

        In some way, I guess it’s rather realistic. We don’t have to be completely defined by the thing we do most, or even by the thing we do best. Seeing other aspects of Chuck’s character, and even seeing contradictions – that goes a long way to making him more human somehow.

      • Big Kev says:

        You’re right Joe. The contradictions add richness and humanity to the characters, as long as they’re not overdone.
        I’d summarize Chuck and Sarah’s respective attitudes to the spy life like this. Sarah wouldn’t leave the spy life for anyone but Chuck. Chuck won’t continue to be a spy for anyone but Sarah.

  7. I tend to agree with you Thinkling. Great post.

    I have one quibble though. They didn’t make that part about Chuck the spy that obvious to me. First with this asset comment Beckman had (I know she didn’t mean asset as in handler-asset, but still she didn’t say agent) and they didn’t take the opportunity to have Chuck being awesome in a mission without the Intersect. It would have definitely given a rest to any Intersect-less storyline.

    I think they made the regular guy and hero obvious, the hero with “I’ve seen you in action, you can do anything” or “How many times do you have to be a hero to realize you are that guy,” and the regular guy with “Chuck I fell for you […] after you fixed my phone and before you started diffusing bombs with computer viruses” and “I fell in love with a regular guy.” They didn’t with the spy.

    Maybe because the spy is in reality the merger of the regular guy, the hero and the Intersect. Just a thought.

    But anyway, either they didn’t make it obvious because it will come back in play again, or they simply failed to convinced me. Time will tell.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      they didn’t take the opportunity to have Chuck being awesome in a mission without the Intersect. It would have definitely given a rest to any Intersect-less storyline.

      Totally agree.

    • thinkling says:

      His spy functions are definitely more limited without the Intersect. In s3, no such exception would have been made, because the Intersect project called for a “weapon” … like Chuck on laudanol. He was never quite what the project envisioned. But after bringing down the Ring, that part no longer mattered. Now, in S4 GB is impressed with all of Chuck’s other progress, as she told him twice. Apparently his value to TeamB is officially noted. Whatever his new role might have been, Chuck said, “I’m still a spy.” Sarah’s just glad he’s home. She would call him 007 or Mr. President or Generalissimo if he would just stay alive.

      Great way to put it that spy = regular guy + hero + Intersect. I think that’s true. Without the Intersect he can still be a spy, but it’s definitely a different version than the one with the Intersect.

      He looks to be in full spy form in the promo’s though.

      • The promo is promising. Can’t wait to see those improvements (if not new features) Ellie made.

      • thinkling says:

        Me, too. Hope they don’t drop the ball on that one.

      • joe says:

        The promo does look great. I’m really surprised how good it comes out every time the team gets out of Burbank. Even Casey looks good in that estate.

        So there’s something for everyone. Sarah’s smile for me, Chuck looking suave for Thinkling, Gen. Diane Beckman for Ernie…

      • thinkling says:

        I like the accent.

        And calling Casey John John. Oh, he is so gonna pay for that. The Intersect must be working really really well.

        For the record, I agree with Dave that black hair doesn’t work on Sarah.

      • patty says:

        Going back to the question of Beckman and when she started to value Chuck. I rewatched First Date and Seduction last night. At the start of First Date Chuck obviously gets the Cipher but at the debrief Graham and Beckman are telling Casey and Sarah how great they did. Then tell Casey to kill Chuck. At the end of teh next episode Casey makes sure to single Chuck out for his heroic actions.

        I think in S1 Casey minimized Chucks role because Chuck was supposed to be in the car; not running into danger constantly. (Remember “He flew a HELCOPTER!?) Beckman was threatening to bunker Chuck that time.

        In S2 Casey decided that Beckman needed to value Chuck’s contribution so that she would not have him killed as soon as a new intersect was up. He then started to make sure his reports reflected Chuck’s actual contributions. He also started to mentor him (you see this in Suburbs where Chuck flunks a think like-a-spy-not-a-nerd pop quiz)

        By Predator Beckman is stateing that she “can’t lose” Chuck. So it worked. Casey saved Chuck but he has to stay a spy sincehe is now so valuable.

      • atcDave says:

        Patty, great comments on Casey’s motives. It was certainly clear as S2 unfolded that Casey was on Chuck’s side in many ways. Interesting to think he played a role in raising Chuck’s status in Beckman’s eyes too.

  8. Faith says:

    A rubix cube of introspection eh? I can dig it.

    Often times we agree so much that we’re practically the same person ok not…but Jason thinks so (JK Jason, I know you can tell us apart, I’m the crazy shipper one)…lol.

    Anyways, so back on topic:

    I have so much I disagree with this post that I have to itemize it. Not that your thoughts weren’t well backed or valid, they are, but I just don’t agree completely. This is probably yet another example of a difference in vocabulary…I tend to get into a lot of those. So here goes:

    Chuck is not a hero, at least he wasn’t until Sarah came along.
    Disagree. Chuck was always a hero. You see that with the Ballerina. He didn’t do it to impress the hot girl…in fact he did it without thought to that but simply because that’s the kind of guy he is. I don’t know a lot of men who would blow off a girl to help a despondent little girl and her father. I mean really, most would sit there and flirt until they get a phone number but Chuck he would forsake all that to do the right thing. That’s what makes him a hero. And he was that guy long before Sarah came into the picture.

    So he was always a hero, then what did Sarah do for him? Sarah gave him direction. A purpose: “you’re the one that taught me that being a spy is about something more than yourself…it’s about doing things that really matter.” In other words she harnessed what was already within him and made him a better man. He in turn did the same for her. Similarly the intersect didn’t make him a hero, he always was…he’s just now doing it on a larger scale. The world instead of Burbank.

    Throughout the past 4 years (and beyond, considering Best Friend) what we have learned about Chuck is that he’s someone that people can rely on. He’s there for people, be it Morgan getting beat up by a girl —at which he steps in, heroic act—or Ellie dreaming about her dad walking down the aisle and thinking it’s hopeless, or the Buy Morians in need of leadership, it’s been Chuck’s that stood tall and stepped into the light (to the Smallville fans I apologize for the plagiarism, I’ve been watching way too much SV lately). These qualities made Chuck who he is and it’s also the thing he lost in his misguided attempt to be a spy.

    See in Prague he didn’t choose the world, he certainly didn’t choose Sarah, but he chose a life: specifically a spy life. “Sarah there’s an entire facility here dedicated to help me with intersect 2.0. Think about that me, a spy, living a life of adventure and doing things that really matter.” What he didn’t understand and something I hope he understands now is that he was already doing things that mattered…not just to the world, but to the people in his life who loves him. By being seduced by the spy life he forgot that there are more things in life (Horatio) than are dreamt of in flash and glamour, but the people that cares for him, that are there for him and were there for him even before he became a big shot. When Chuck became Carmichael or his even worse counterpart: Gruber he became something different, someone that will sleep with a girl and dump her the next day. Only when he awoke from this reverie did he realize that there is no point in being a spy without Sarah, no substance in the flash (no pun intended). “What’s the point of” saving the world if there’s no one there to share it with—essentially. He didn’t lose the hero part in him, the one that wants to save the world but his priorities became much clearer (selfish yes, to some, but realistic).

    Sarah’s type is hero
    Sarah’s type is men of action. I don’t know if that’s hero per say…I don’t really consider Bryce or Shaw heroes but you can also make an argument questioning if those were her type or did she just fall into to those relationship like she does most of her life. Remember that Sarah is reactive and often passive…for someone so strong and physical, when it comes to her love life, and certainly most aspects of life outside the job she’s often powerless and easily manipulated. I have no basis of proof for this but to me her relationship with Bryce was about convenience, definitely shallow and certainly one that’s not hard or something she fought for. Chuck is different, with Chuck everything is so hard; every step like pulling teeth, every milestone like giving more of herself than ever before. With these other guys it was easy, it was safe. Chuck is not safe. He makes her dream, he makes her wish things that she told herself long ago she didn’t want.

    she fell for Chuck the regular guy.
    While I agree that Chuck is a “regular” guy I don’t really consider being a hero independent of a regular guy. I think I’ve gone on enough about why I think Chuck was always a hero but the regular guy to me speaks more of how Chuck is with his family. It seems to me that the people Sarah’s been around for far too long are anchorless and islands just like she was (pre-Chuck). They had no friends, Bryce’s only friend was Chuck (interesting note he didn’t even really consider Sarah a friend) and well who gives a fig about Shaw. Sarah’s the same or was. She didn’t have anyone in her life who cared about her, pre-Chuck. So the regular to me took on more of an external connotation. Someone that can interact genuinely with people, someone who actually cared about other people, their families. Interesting note that Casey too belong with the islands she has associated with for most of her life: he didn’t really have friends and his family is one he doesn’t feel comfortable keeping in touch with. That’s changed of course, in a way being exposed to the “regular” guy that’s Chuck changed both of them.

    Which one did Sarah choose?
    I pretty much agree with your point, she chose Chuck. All that is him. Same for him incidentally, he chose her (even the part that doesn’t talk about her feelings or will freeze him out at any moment).

    “Chuck never actually chose Sarah over being a spy.”
    Chuck chose Sarah. Ok sorry to be repetitive I didn’t realize I typed that up there. He chose her as clearly as he could with, “if this is what she wants” in Honeymooners. What Chuck wants is never really clear, but I think what they tried to show in Honeymooners is that for the both of them if there was a choice between each other or the life, they would choose each other. Something that was not the case previously. I didn’t really care for the line, “I’d rather love Sarah than have the intersect” line from Fear of Death. On the one hand it’s poignant and a clear illustration of him basically putting himself on the line for her (keeping in mind that as far as he thinks, she won’t want him without the intersect, so by giving up he is essentially giving her cause to reject him if she chooses, but in the end that’s a risk he takes because to him having her is more important), but on the other it doesn’t really make sense. His mindset is such that to keep Sarah he needs to be a spy, so how would losing the intersect mean he could love her? Didn’t get it.

    – agree with the parenthetical analysis for the most part 🙂

    – Finally: Chuck Bartowski, hero, spy or regular guy?
    The thing about Chuck (the show) is that nothing is ever black and white. He’s all of those and I think they’ve done a good job (this year in particular) showing that he’s all of that and that all of that is what Sarah loves about him. Whether Chuck believes it is another matter.

    • That makes me think of Ellie in Sizzling Shrimp: “I know […] you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere and your job’s not either, you’re not Superman out there saving the day, but you’re a good person, Chuck. You’re a good brother and you’re a good friend. Don’t lose that.”

      She had it all figure it out back then. He was a good person, without purpose. A hero without mission.

    • I have to agree that Chuck always was a hero. He was a “regular life” hero before, and Sarah helped him becoming a “spy world” hero. The Intersect just gave him the opportunity to do it. It didn’t helped him at all to become a hero, but it made him a spy.

      Chuck the spy is just Chuck using his best qualities to make a living? 🙂

      I still think they failed to demonstrate that the Intersect was what gave Chuck the opportunity to become a spy, but that he didn’t need it anymore. I’ll stop now. I sound like a broken record. 😉

    • thinkling says:

      OK, Faith. Wow, Can I just follow your outline. I’ll try to respond and/or explain myself better. Then you can tell me if we’re still as far apart as you first perceived.

      1. You disagree … me too. Chuck is a Hero. Always has been on the inside. My point was how unobvious that was looking on. By all appearances, he was a regular guy, with sub par ambitions and not an ounce of mojo. And that’s the life he was living. At that time, he was content to be that. There was a hero inside Chuck that had also been denied development, like the Girl Inside Sarah. The life of fear, danger and anxiety tested him in new ways and showed … proved what he was already made of … 24k hero. The Intersect and Sarah took him out of his comfort zone and forced him to be who he really was. As for the ballerina part I think we agree. Sarah is enthralled as Chuck passes on her flirtations to rescue a little girl. As Agent Walker momentarily disappears, the Girl Inside finds her Hero, and Sarah is captivated. One act of kindness. Two rescues … one done and one begun.

      The Prague decision is stated one way on the platform and explained another way in the vault. By Fake Name he had fallen far from that point. It was his nadir, and he was living a lie. Ellie pointed that out (and she couldn’t even hear the music), and it was Chuck’s turning point. He had to get back to the truth of who he really is. Morgan helped. He was back on track and had no idea of all that was going on with Sarah. How could he, she asked tongue in cheek. So he stayed on track to become a spy worthy of her love. By then I think he was back to himself and had to make the same choice a second time. And it clicked that Sarah was the most important thing.

      So, I’m not sure on the Prague part how we shake out, but I disagree that we disagree about the first part.

      2) Sarah’s type. The spy guys would have been seen by the world as heroes, and they were by Chuck. They were men of action, for sure. I still like hero for her type. Man of action works, but by itself doesn’t say too much. Is an inactive hero still a hero? Is every man of action a hero. We may be in Semantic Swamp here. The spy guys weren’t the kind of hero her heart needed. Chuck snuck behind her defenses and engaged Sarah Walker, the real one on the inside, and wouldn’t let go. He always found the back door to her soul. He also refused the type of relationship she had in the past … a fake one. I agree with you about the Bryce relationship. Bryce and Roan confirm that she has real, non-spy feelings for Chuck, noting a contrast with the typical spy affair. So I like your description of all that Chuck pulls out of Sarah. Real is not nearly as easy as fake, and Chuck didn’t let her off easy. Real is hard work, but she always rises to the occasion. That’s what’s been so great about s4 … stunning Sarah growth. In FF it’s so obvious where their gifts lie. To Chuck the physical fight is exhausting. To Sarah it’s the emotional fight.

      3) You don’t think hero and regular guy are independent. Neither do I. I didn’t mean to imply that. Perhaps trying to dissect something that is pretty integral was problematic. However, I do think Chuck thinks they’re different. I don’t think he thought of himself as a hero. He kept saying he was just a regular guy, meaning a lot of what you said about wanting a real life, real relationships, etc. He also meant regular as in not special. So, has Chuck grown to the point of seeing himself as a hero without the Intersect? I hope so. Sarah always has seen his hero side. Hopefully the affirmation from Sarah and GB helped him see it too. Nice insights about regular in regard to relationships and that changing both Sarah and Casey. So for the inner Sarah Walker to be rescued and given a real life, she needed a hero who was a regular guy and a regular guy who was a hero.

      4) Chuck never chose Sarah over being a spy. I followed Ernie’s premise that the choice they made in Honeymooners was sort of a wash, because in the end they actually chose both. They did both come to the realization that if they had to choose, they would choose each other. But they didn’t end up having to choose. Now, it’s really about the Intersect and what it gives Chuck. Can they be happy without it? Sarah chooses Chuck without the Intersect, duh. She always has. But she verbalizes it in Phase 3. I agree with what you say about her “I’m gonna marry you line.”

      Chuck’s gondola confession has to be put in context. He is all about recovering the Intersect (yeah partly to deserve Sarah). But Rye tells him, essentially to trade Sarah for the Intersect, “You know the rock is Sarah. Tell yourself you don’t need her and give in to the fear,” … in exchange for flashing and getting the Intersect back. Rye made it a choice between Sarah and the Intersect and, by extension, being a spy. If he has to give up his emotional connection with Sarah to be a spy, forget it. In his mind, with what Rye presented, that was a real choice. He was responsible for his choice, not her potential response. So, if Sarah’s the rock keeping him from flashing (totally absurd thought and we all know it), then forget the Intersect, he chooses Sarah. That’s good. Because really, up until then, he was sort of choosing the Intersect over Sarah … at least over her heart. His choice could have meant dying for the Intersect and leaving her a widow (sort of). That needs to be reversed in his head. That’s step one. Step two was knowing she didn’t care about the Intersect, only him. So, step two is really Phase 3. 🙂

      Agree that Chuck is all three. I hope that came through, but I guess it wasn’t as clear as I thought.

      • He kept saying he was just a regular guy, meaning a lot of what you said about wanting a real life, real relationships, etc. He also meant regular as in not special. So, has Chuck grown to the point of seeing himself as a hero without the Intersect?

        In S3 when Orion came back, Chuck told him: “The CIA wants me to work for them because they think I’m special.” However I do believe he thought he was special because of his Intersect-friendly brain.

        It’s too soon to know for sure since Phase 3 was only one episode ago, but that episode should have definitely make him feel special. The CIA doesn’t think he’s just the Human Intersect, he has abilities on his own, and Sarah wants to marry him. With or without the Intersect. Surely, that means that he must be a pretty special guy. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Speaking of not clear…

        You mention two explanations for Prague; it seems to me there’s actually three. In American Hero he claims by becoming a spy he and Sarah can now be together and that’s what he’s always wanted (I don’t recall the exact words, and I have no intention of rewatching that episode).
        If we allow any truth to that it means Chuck always thought he could have both the girl and the job. This is actually close to what my first thoughts of the situation were right after S2 ended. But it requires an almost unbelievable level of miscommunication from Chuck in both Pink Slip and Three Words (was he being too clever for his own good?).

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Dave

        I don’t blame him. His motivations changed whenever the plot required it.

      • I don’t think he said that Dave. Are you talking about that restaurant scene?

        What he said was: “I know that you think I’m not that same guy that you met the first day at the Buy More. And you know what? You’re right. Okay? You’re right. The guy that I was back then hated himself for not knowing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life or who he wanted to spend it with, but now? Finally, now… I know. I want to be a spy. And I want to be with you.”

        He also said in Final Exam: “Look, I know we couldn’t be together before because I wasn’t a real spy, but if I pass this test, we wouldn’t have to choose between the job and us. If I pass this test, we could be together.”

        But considering what he said in Beard “I do love Sarah. I kept telling myself that I didn’t. That I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, but I do.” I don’t think he came to the realization that he could have both the job and the girl, and that he wanted to, before Beard or even Tic Tac and his talks with both Casey and Ellie.

        But hey S3 was all over the place, so who knows? There’s probably not even an answer to that. Like Genie said: His motivations changed whenever the plot required it.

      • atcDave says:

        The scene I was thinking of was definitely in Castle. I think Shaw interrupted the conversation and Sarah covered for Chuck by saying it was all about Rome.

      • thinkling says:

        It is a little unclear, Dave, about Prague I mean.

        He talks about what he gave up to be a spy, meaning Sarah. He knew he was walking away from her.

        The American Hero line could be a Final Exam reference.

        I think when he uploaded 2.0, he thought he could have both. But after the PS apocalypse, Crumby is probably right that the realization that he could have both came later. The whole thing was very O Henry-esque

        Communication was at its worst in that arc.

      • atcDave says:

        I know the standard interpretation is he knew he was rejecting Sarah in Prague; but I never saw it that way. I mean, he knew he blew it by walking away with Sarah thinking she’d been rejected. But in Three Words he tried to set the record straight and fix what he broke. At least that was how I saw it at the time.

        For the record, I don’t care anymore. I won’t re-watch that season and I see it simply as a screw up from the conception stage. And I don’t think the writer’s themselves were even clear on what they were trying to do beyond yank our chains.

      • Faith says:

        So sorry to post and run (earlier) I totally didn’t mean to do that. Just got super busy and then laker game. Anyways so here goes, my response to your response to my responses lol…

        – Again I don’t really consider regular independent from hero. Like Crumby said he was just a hero without a mission. But I will compromise with you in a way…I think he didn’t see himself as a hero and that’s where she made the most difference. Yes he was always a hero, with his saves and his good intentions on a small and increasingly large scale but he still saw himself as Chuck Bartowski, not a hero. She changed that. She made him see that he was more than he was, gave him confidence in that which he has always been/done.

        I’ve always been of mind that his reasons were never fully clear in Prague and then in Three Words because it was never really clear for Chuck. I do think he had altruistic motives (saving the world, using the intersect for something good) but I think the glitz and glamour blinded him more than anything for a bit. And really he’s only human, who wouldn’t be impressed by everyone telling you you’re important, and that they’re going to do all they can so that you’ll be successful. I liken it to the star athlete coming off high school, all of a sudden an entire world opens up for you and you lose yourself for a little while. In a way that’s why I dislike First Class so much, it was an appeal to his vanity and one that he took to a little too much. The flight, Paris, Hannah, Shaw catering to his ego, he ate it up…for awhile.

        I also don’t think his reasons have to be independent of one another. He had good intentions, albeit blinded by the flash, but made bad decisions. I love how Crumby put it for that reason: the sizzling shrimp comparison. “I know […] you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere and your job’s not either, you’re not Superman out there saving the day, but you’re a good person, Chuck. You’re a good brother and you’re a good friend. Don’t lose that.”. He lost that. He was living a lie, he was lying to his family with ease, he was dumped by Morgan because of his actions and although he hit rock bottom with Fake Name he didn’t really return to the Chuck we love until much, much later…Tic Tac.

        – Agreed. But only because you agreed with me first, just kidding! Seriously though yeah fake is easy, real is hard, always have been. Since you mentioned FF, I have to take note of the fact that for once Sarah wanted to talk…”he always wants to talk about…everything.” And I think the fact that he didn’t, not to her put her in a tizzy and it’s not a place she’s comfortable with. It’s exhausting to fight, because for once she’s fighting FOR a relationship, for a future.

        As for the hero aspect, I’m not really sure. I mean I think in some ways an inactive hero is still a hero; while a man of action can be unheroic. I guess when it comes to Bryce, Shaw etc (pretty much everyone but Chuck), I look for motivation instead of action. To me although the outside world may consider Shaw a hero, he wasn’t really…not to me. His actions were brought on by a need for revenge and an almost selfish need to redeem his wife’s death. Chuck’s actions are never that selfish. He does the right thing because it’s the right thing. In fact that’s exactly what Bryce said when he mentioned why he sent him the intersect. Bryce knew that Chuck wouldn’t use the intersect for selfish reasons, or glory reasons but because he’s the guy he is he would use it for the right reasons, moral reasons. We didn’t really get much into Bryce’s motivation but for him I can see being a spy as less saving the world as it is the glamour. He’s not Carina but I can see shades of that in him. In any case, semantic swamp it is. But just to get ahead of myself for a bit so Chuck’s reasons in S4 to be a spy, has it become about glamour or revenge? He is afterall selfishly searching for his mom and “saving her.” But I think it remains doing the right thing, more than that it’s fulfilling a destiny because he’s got a gift (not the intersect specifically, but him, he’s special).

        Does Chuck see himself finally as a hero? I think yes. I think they’ve progress to the point where he has finally heard what Sarah has been telling him all along, what he had and shown all along. But is he a spy? Pum pum purum lol. I think he doesn’t consider himself one without the intersect pre-FOD/Phase 3 and that’s more important. Perception again for Chuck is reality. With Beckman’s approval he now has to think differently, because he’s got proof. Just like he has proof that Sarah loves him for who he is with or without the intersect. The doubts don’t have a ground to stand on anymore, they’ve been debunked.

        – Ok.
        Not to add fuel to the fire but there also seems to be a distinction between regular and normal. But we’ll get to that next month to fulfill our gruel quota haha.

        – Choice is a tricky thing. If you make a choice and you ended up having not to need to does it still count as such? To me it’s not something that’s unshakeable…the choice I mean. The intention was there so as far as I’m concerned it’s a choice. In this I have to go back to something Joe said in the Phase 3 piece, we lose a bit of ourselves when we make our choices and that’s why all our choices matter, why it’s a big deal. Yes even though the decision may not lead anywhere. The story, stories aren’t stagnant they evolve and they change. What was decided (and it’s a decision) in the beginning of Honeymooners was different from what was decided at the end. It took a light bulb moment in between to make that happen. So I don’t really subscribe to Ernie’s premise that it’s a wash. I think his clarification was more fitting. They have both made choices along the way and that has always followed the path to each other (with a fork in the middle but we won’t get into that lol).

        – I want to thank you for trying to make sense of FOD for me, but like I said on the piece…understanding that of which has no logical foundation is not just frustrating, it’s ridiculous lol. My POV I guess.

        Dave, re: 3 explanations. I kind of have to go back to the story isn’t stagnant thing, it evolves. In Pink Slip he believed that Sarah no longer wanted the spy life so his decision to be a spy was in a sense a decision not to be with her. In American Hero he believes that she wants to be a spy, and he knows he wants to be a spy AND be with her (there’s no point in being a spy without Sarah, but at the same time he knows he can do great things as a spy). More importantly he’s been told since S2 (more specifically in Seduction) that as a non-spy/asset they can’t date. The only reason they could have been together (in theory) at the time in between Ring and Pink Slip was because Sarah was giving up the spy life. Ergo, to be with her (as long as she remains a spy) is to be a spy.

        P.S. in case it wasn’t clear I responded in chronological order as well :).

      • Oh yeah Dave you were talking about that: “Wasn’t this the plan? There’s nothing stopping us from being together now. I passed my spy test.”

        I think he was referring to Final Exam when he mentioned “the plan”.

        About Three Words, and I’ll close that S3 conversation on this, because it doesn’t matter anymore, but I did feel that he was trying to make things right, but only because he realized when the spy thing didn’t work in Prague “what he said no to.” It wasn’t his original plan.

        And then he didn’t do anything after Three Words to win Sarah back. In fact he did the exact opposite, he went after Hannah, or let Hannah go after him…

        So Three Words was basically just an attempt to make Sarah feel better about the all situation, but he didn’t want the girl and the job at the time. That’s how I saw it.

      • thinkling says:

        @Faith: Agree about Prague, mixed motives and all. The appeal to his vanity ended up being his downfall, led to his living a lie. He bottomed out in Fake Name, turned around at the end of FN, and was pretty much back to himself in Tic Tac. I agree. He finally was pulled back to the motivation he described in Three Words. I can leave it at that for now.

        Regular guy and hero are not independent from each other. I don’t think I ever implied that they were. If I did, it was unintentional, because that’s not my view. But just in case, let me clearly state, for the record (and my share of gruel), that Chuck was always a hero. He was also a regular guy. He is still both.

        But I think it remains doing the right thing, more than that it’s fulfilling a destiny because he’s got a gift (not the intersect specifically, but him, he’s special). I totally agree.

        We can discuss regular and normal later, but I don’t think the writers are nearly as careful about the words as we’re being. We really should send them the Faith/Thinkling glossary so they don’t bog us down in Semantic Swamp.

        Thanks for all your great feed back and thoughts. I see them as more complementary than contradictory. It’s hard to take in all sides to an issue. That’s why we discuss, right? I don’t think we’re all that far apart, but maybe I’m not seeing something. 😉

  9. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely agree with the people saying we need them working together in 4×12 and 4×13. The amount of time apart this season has already been ridiculous. Even when you’re a great couple like Charah, such time apart leaves a mark on your relationship.

  10. Ernie Davis says:

    Much as I’d love to weigh in at length some vile microbes have decided to hold their version of a Cancun spring break in my body, so I’m busy sleeping lately…with other activities that will not be mentioned. But since I’m here now I’ll toss out my latest feverish theory.

    Sarah chose Chuck the regular guy, then he became a spy, but she chose him again because he was a hero and did the right thing. Always. Then she was confronted with what she thought was the spy, the guy that needed to prove himself, who took risks he shouldn’t. But it wasn’t because he was a normal spy, an adrenaline junky, it was because he was “that guy”, the guy on the spot who had to choose, even if, like the hero, it meant losing everything. And Sarah chose him too. Not the spy, not the hero, not the regular guy, but the guy who doesn’t seek heroism or adventure for their own sake, but accepts that some heroes need to be asked.

    So is it unusual that Sarah chooses Chuck more than once? No, each choice is a new and emerging side of Chuck. You get the feeling that any of the three would have been enough for her, depending on the life they chose to lead, but Sarah has got the whole package.

  11. Ernie Davis says:

    Ernie says Sarah chose Chuck the spy not Chuck the regular guy. I see the whole scenario slightly differently.

    I guess I should have been more clear, but that was in the context of how problematically a lot of season 3 played and how it needed to be addressed going forward. It’s part of the GENIUS that a season 3 problem can be a season 4 hook for both characters to grow.

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry I was dense on your meaning.

      I agree about the genius of s4 treating some s3 issues, as you said, sympathetically (I think that’s what you said). But I missed the specific connection. Thanks for helping me connect the dots.

  12. JC says:

    I guess I’ll go against the grain as usual. Chuck was never a regular guy. Both parents were spies and one created the Intersect. He most likely was the first human Intersect as a child. Was being recruited into CIA at college. The only thing was he didn’t know of any of this and that made him believe was normal and regular when that was the farthest thing from the truth.

    I think the writing and characterization of Chuck since the 2.0 has caused a lot of problems. They feel like he can’t be a hero and a person people can relate to. They’re unwilling to let him go all out as a spy and we get whiny Chuck or character regression as an attempt to balance it out. What this led to is Chuck being in limbo of sorts. They want him to be the hero but won’t him take that next step.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      It seems to me that TPTB want to keep a balance between nerdy Chuck and spy Chuck. Too bad that in their dictionary, nerdy means being wimpy, childish and sometimes immature.

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      I’d like him to use his brain / smarts more and less kung fu, but alas there not asking me.

    • I think the regular guy in Chuck is the guy that puts down roots, thinks Swiss air is really fresh, likes Sizzling Shrimp or stake-out mixes… As opposed as textbook spy.

      Because if he was only a hero and a spy, then he’s what? Bryce?

      They do have a problem balancing every traits of Chuck. I kinda goes worse with every episode too. I was confident and efficient in Anniversary. But then…

      Maybe it was because his mom has woken up his insecurities and abandonment issues. And with Sarah not being “all in” yet that didn’t help.

      If that’s why they wrote him that way, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore. He’s never been more confident about Sarah’s feelings and he trusts his mom. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      • thinkling says:

        My theory is that it was the mom factor that “regressed” him. The loss of the Intersect heightened it, and the fact that he lost the intersect because of his mom exponentialized it. (Not a word, I know, heightened it exponentially is what I mean by it. I guess compounded would work.)

        I do agree we should see a happier, more confident Chuck going forward. (Please, please, please, please, please.)

        I like your regular guy citations. Chuck’s gushing about Switzerland and wishing Sarah was there was so regular-guy and so not super-spy. He cannot lose that. The other connotation of regular guy is average, not-special. JC is right. In that sense of the term, Chuck was never a regular guy. So after this discussion I would say that Chuck was an extraordinary guy (a hero in fact) living a regular (average) life. He appeared to be “just a regular guy.” How’s that, JC?

        The other connotation of regular guy, the one that loves the Swiss air and chocolate and wants to share it with Sarah, is the guy who values friends and family and real life. Like Sarah said, “Sometimes it helps to know you’ve got something to lose.” The regular guy is the one who knows what he has to lose, the one who fights for who’s and not just what’s. The spy whose cause has lost its human face, or the spy who has nothing to lose is dangerous. So, hero + regular guy = a great combination. Hero – regular guy = empty.

      • joe says:

        I would say that Chuck was an extraordinary guy (a hero in fact) living a regular (average) life. He appeared to be “just a regular guy.”

        As do we all! Isn’t that part of the magic of the show? We’re given a chance to relate in just that way, to imagine ourselves a hero who just appears average. Then we discover that it doesn’t take an awful lot of imagination, because that hero can actually exist, if we let ’em.

      • JC says:

        I look at this way, the guy who wants to marry Sarah, loves Tron is the same guy who jumps off buildings and saves the government from being taken over by evil organizations. You can’t separate these traits because its who he is. Sometimes I think the TPTB want to show distinctions between these traits when there’s not.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Thinkling , not only was it the loss of the Intersect but it was the fact that it was his mother who caused him to lose it, compounded by the fact that she manipulated him and destroyed everything his father worked for for years (including the Intersect). The music they used after the Orion lair blew up highlighted that it was like losing his father all over again. Having the lair probably helped lessen some of his grief over his father not to mention any guilt he might have felt if he felt at all responsible for his death (for intance if he feels like if he had given up on Sarah completely than his fahter would still be alive since it was Sarah’s red test that caused Shaw to to turn traitor, though Graham was the one who gave the order) .

      • thinkling says:

        @Tamara
        No doubt about it, losing his dad’s legacy was like losing him all over again … and losing a piece of himself as well.

        I differ on the whole guilt idea. I think his guilt was taken care of by his father’s final message to him. Being spies is in their blood. His father was involved in the spy world long, long before Chuck downloaded the 2.0. Chuck’s only guilt over his father’s death, as specifically expressed by him, was because he insisted on being a spy, when his father didn’t want him to be. “I’m the one who downloaded the Intersect 2.0. I’m the one who chose to be a spy, and it’s him who paid the price.” His father’s last message let him know that his father and mother were always spies. He didn’t put his father in danger. Being a spy comes with risk. His father knew the risks. It’s Chuck who is just now figuring them out.

        What turned Shaw into a traitor was Sarah’s red test … NOT. Neither was it his wife’s death. It was something inside Shaw himself. Since his wife’s death, he was motivated solely by revenge, not justice. His wife’s death didn’t make him vengeful. It triggered what was already there. You can’t make Sarah the bad guy here. Shaw was the bad guy all by himself.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Thinkling

        Ah! Feels like Season 3 again. What good times they were. 😉

        *applies brain bleach (liberal doses of it) and patiently waits for some Season 4 discussion* 🙂

        Almost halfway into Season 4 doesn’t anyone think that Chuck is long overdue some huge heroic moments (there have been plenty, but I am talking about something really big). I feel like TPTB bottle up everything for the final episode of an arc – which personally leaves me feeling underwhelmed.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        The part that I feel risk being underwhelming (if even discussed) is why was Mama B gone for 20 years.

        The “very valuable intelligence asset” part of it doesn’t explain 20 years.

      • Especially if Team B managed to take down Volkoff in what, 6 months?

        And Frost isn’t the only who’s been at it for 20 years. The Great Orion has been looking for her all that time.

        I’m kinda hoping Orion and Frost were up to something we don’t know about yet.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joseph

        It will be swept under the rug the moment Mama B arrives seeking help from Sarah to take Volkoff down.

      • thinkling says:

        The 20 yr thing is a bit hard to swallow. That’s just something I shrug off to enjoy what we have. A plausible explanation would be bonus, but the story is fun, so, meh.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        But then, where is the “raison d’etre” or the “point” of the story?

      • uplink2 says:

        Think, I agree completely about your take on what made Shaw change. One of the great problems with his story was that his entire raison d’etre was based solely on vengeance to the viewer. An understandable but unappealing emotion. His (terribly delivered by Routh) verbal stumble about what I, I mean we have been waiting for, proved that to the viewer and no one cared about his loss of his wife. All water under the bridge. There was no honor or duty in any of it.

        But on to season 4 the 20 year thing has bothered me to. The nagging questions about who was her contact with the outside world, how did she know about the PSP, how did she know that Stephen didn’t want him to see it? All this will probably be resolved in the next 2 episodes hopefully.

        As far as Chuck being heroic in this early part of the season one could argue that it was heroic for Chuck to fight for his sanity and not give in to the Belgian in Phase Three. He realized at the end of FOD that he had made crucial mistakes that he wasn’t going to let happen again, at least sub-consciously. He fought for himself and he fought for Sarah.

      • thinkling says:

        I guess I would just conclude that what they say took 20 years needn’t have taken so long, but it was still a good story, even if stretched to unrealistic lengths.

        Her explanation is that she was to take down the network and not the man … presumably a tall order for one person who has been cut off from the CIA and has to worry first and foremost about her family. With TeamB’s help she won’t be doing it alone. We don’t know how much was known about the network at the time or how carefully she had to proceed, given her precarious position.

        Since his mother’s disappearance so defined Chuck and Ellie’s life, there does need to be a reason for that. I just don’t know if we’ll get a fleshed out reason (where they actually explain it) or a black-box reason (trust us it’s in there).

        From the time standpoint, though, it would make sense to carry it into the back 11, so that it doesn’t look like it was really a piece of cake to bring him down.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joseph, the story is about Chuck, and Sarah. Much as it pains me to say so Mary’s story, and Orion’s will be subordinate to that. In general terms Chuck’s journey is about destiny, or if you prefer his legacy. One of the more common Hero’s Journeys is the son taking up his father’s legacy and succeeding where his father failed. I’m hoping we get a good explanation for it. As for Mary at this point she is mostly serving a similar role to Ellie and Awesome, to show possibilities to Sarah (and Chuck). Sarah’s story is about redemption and in a lot of ways they are playing Frost as a possible future for Sarah should Chuck fail. I think this will get particularly evident in the next few episodes as history seems to repeat from everything we see.

        As for explaining the 20 years, well think of Volkoff as an evil Chuck. He came into some sort of power or control of something people wanted/needed. Rather than be a Chuck and try to help as he could he used it to manipulate and control people, Frost being among them. As frost said she became a very valuable intelligence asset because she could exert some control over Volkoff and perhaps provide some intel. I hope we get some decent denoument on that. As Sarah said she got lucky and got assigned to Chuck.

        But as sarah’s story is about redemption, I think there are two parts to that. For lack of better ways to explain it both her pre-spy life and her spy life need to be redeemed. In her pre-spy life, we suspect, Sarah was largely a victim. Manipulated by her father, we suspect, to do the cons he wanted, traveling from town to town, essentially a career criminal as a teen. Most of that redemption had to do with her emotional issues and is largely done as far as I can tell. We saw that her entry into the spy world was likely little different at the hands of Langston Graham, she didn’t seem enthusiastic, she was waiting for the cuffs she no doubt felt she deserved. But spy life for a while may have offered Sarah something she saw as redemption. A chance to do good with her skills previously used for ill gotten gain. But it’s never that simple, you are never sure who you are working for or whether the person you’ve been sent to kill is an innocent pawn in someone elses game. Until she met Chuck and he showed her another way to do it and make it matter.

        I think it is likely that as part of Sarah’s journey and backstory we’ll see some of the things Sarah did when she perhaps gave into the thrills of the spy life, like Carina, and that she’ll have to face her spy past and deal with it. Accepting it and acknowledging it to Chuck as well as herself. I’m betting on Carina being the main vehicle for that. And no, I don’t see it as a re-hash of Cubic Z.

        In any case I think the Volkoff story is about to get interesting. Volkoff now knows about Mary’s family and a way to control her so she’ll have to “betray” them again to convince Volkoff that she is on his side. My guess is that she convinces Volkoff that Chuck, or Sarah, or both can be turned and made a part of the Family business, and Chuck, or Sarah, or both will need to make some very Orion and Frost-like decisions.

      • thinkling says:

        Uplink: agree about Chuck’s heroism in FOD, psychologically. It’s that special brain of his, along with his hero spirit, and hanging on for Sarah. He has still been a hero, but has regressed in terms of a loss of confidence

        I’m anxious to see if they fill in those blanks, too.

      • uplink2 says:

        Until it is proved otherwise I am still of the belief that she and Stephen were in contact over those 20 years. Hey Stephen had to learn about communicating with Ellie via the classified ads from somewhere. It is the most plausible thing to me that they used that method or a similar one to, “do things that governments were afraid to do”. How would Stephen have learned what needed to be done without someone on the inside? It all just ties things up neatly for me if they were in contact. Now that being said it is probably the exact opposite that happens but we will have to wait and see I guess.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Agreed Uplink. How they choose to tie up the story will make a huge difference to me, but to me at this point all of Mary’s actions and hints point to a cooperative relationship with Orion as Frost’s only backup and him leaving that role for Chuck only in the event of his death before Mary could extract herself.

      • JC says:

        I still say there needs to be more to the story than Volkoff keeping Mary from her family. He’s a sinister villain but we haven’t seen that reach beyond Chuck’s family. That’s why I hoping we get some back story on why Mary needed to go undercover and what makes Volkoff such a threat to the world.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Ernie, we so very rarely agree but that lengthy post, 100% agreement.

        Glad to see you’re feeling better, if your return to verbosity is any indication ;-).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yes, feeling better thanks Faith, and everyone. I actually had coffee and semisolid food today (yes, chicken soup of course) as opposed to wondering if decaf Earl Grey was too much to handle.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I still say there needs to be more to the story than Volkoff keeping Mary from her family. He’s a sinister villain but we haven’t seen that reach beyond Chuck’s family.

        Uhhmmmm… He sold Nukes to Costa Gravas meet the threshold ?

      • JC says:

        In the present Ernie, they haven’t established him as a threat beyond the Bartowski extended family. Does he have some grand plan or is it all about Mary? With Roarke we got the mass production of Intersect agents and the Ring tried to takeover the government. I’m hoping there’s more to the story.

        I’d love to find out that Orion and Volkoff were partners working on the concept of Intersect. They had a falling out over it’s use. The CIA found out and sent in Mary who fell in love with the Stephen.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        In some ways in their attempt to make The Ring a formidable villain they overshot their mark. I like what they’re doing with Volkoff. Sure he’s essentially just a weapons arms dealer but he is scary. Contained but formidable. I’m still trying to figure out what the big deal about the ring was.

        I also think they’ve done a good job (in revisiting the details) of showing his long reach. Making Heather’s bomber deal related to Volkoff is a stroke of genius.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Plus we now know he’s kind of mentally unstable. Even Shaw was a good villain when he was mentally unstable. 😉

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Ernie, oh man the “put Frost on the phone” still makes me shiver. In a scary way.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Oh, and just for the record JC, I’m kind of on the selling nuclear weapons on the open market makes you evil and dangerous bandwagon. In perpetuity.

      • Crumby says:

        Making Heather’s bomber deal related to Volkoff is a stroke of genius.

        I thought that was really well done too.

        But yeah he’s basically just an international arms dealer (or is he?). 🙂

        I’m still wondering what Orion’s message was about? (Despite give Chuck the mission to find his mom).

        – “I’ve been a spy for the last 20 years, working for myself, doing things governments are afraid to do.” What exactly happened with the CIA and the government?

        – “It’s time you know the truth about my work and about the people who tried to destroy me because if I’m gone, then you’re not safe from them anymore, and neither is Ellie.” Is he talking about Volkoff? Because he never went after Chuck and/or Ellie, and never would have if Chuck hadn’t gone after his mom.

        – “These people- they are… They are ruthless and cunning and…” Ok…

        – “Chuck, it’s-it’s time you learned about your family. Because… I did it all for her.” I’m still not sure of what he did exactly.

        I’m not even sure of what we know. Basically, Mary went undercover to take down Volkoff’s network. Her mission didn’t go as planned. She couldn’t go back and had to make it look like she went rogue. Somehow the records of her mission got expunged. The CIA thought she got captured or covered it up. (?) Volkoff knew she was married, and that Orion was looking for her, but didn’t know she had children. Am I missing something?

        My main questions are:
        – Is the Intersect related to this? Volkoff is an arms dealer, so could be.
        – What was the role of the government in all this? Orion didn’t like the CIA vey much and Mary doesn’t seem like a huge fan either.
        – What did Orion and Mary did all those years exactly, and did they do it separately or were they in touch?
        – And is it only about Volkoff? Are there other people involved? I’m sure the network had other scary people. Is Volkoff Industries the main part of the network or is there even “eviler” people, higher than Volkoff in the hierarchy?

      • JC says:

        @Ernie

        I agree about the selling of nuclear weapons. It’s just I hope there’s more than rescuing Mary to all of this. Earlier in the season I didn’t want it to be Intersect related because they had done that to death. But the way the story has unfolded it almost has to be.

        @Faith

        The Ring takeover story really didn’t work because of how they were portrayed earlier in the season. They weren’t threatening at all. With Volkoff it almost seems the opposite.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC, for the record I know what you mean. I just don’t think we’re to that part of the story yet. I think they’ve sufficiently established Volkoff as enough of a baddie to have been on the CIA’s radar for some time and to have recently made it back to their #1 target. I’m pretty confident that since Mary/Frost is so tied to the intersect and Bartowski mythology the threat Volkoff posed directly to her family will be the justification for the 20 years.

    • Faith says:

      “You can’t separate these traits because its who he is. Sometimes I think the TPTB want to show distinctions between these traits when there’s not.”

      Agreed.

      It goes back to the everyman thing…I sometimes wish they would pick one and stick to it. Same for the kung fu. The reason they don’t train him for that is because TPTB are afraid that people will get turned off by a story that is no longer about a regular guy, but using your logic he never really was.

      But then again I go back to perception, he thought he was/is and that’s more important. Having said that I also stick by my definition of what is “regular” for Chuck—it has more to do with other people than who he is. How he treats other people, his friends, family; having friends, family.

      • JC says:

        I agree Faith.

        It seems to me in the last two seasons they’ve tried to make it out that you can’t be good/decent and a spy. So they feel like they can’t take Chuck too far down the path of being a spy. Where I see the problem is the most spies on the show have been shown to be good people. And if you go by their logic Chuck fell in love with Sarah who wasn’t a good person until recently.

        I think you’re on to something with the idea of perception. Chuck thought he was normal and Sarah showed him he wasn’t. Now they need to do the same with Sarah. I can buy into the idea that she thinks she wasn’t a good person and Chuck is showing her the opposite.

    • “You can’t separate these traits because its who he is. Sometimes I think the TPTB want to show distinctions between these traits when there’s not.”

      I think the separation is made to show the differences between Chuck and other people that could have one of those traits. Chuck is all that, and it is the combination of everything that make him special.

      For example, Bryce was a hero but he was never capable of love like Chuck does. He was only capable of “spy” love. The mission would always come first to him.

      Awesome is the ultimate good guy, but he isn’t capable of sacrifices like Chuck and Sarah are. “If having a double life means having to give up half of your real life, that’s just not how I want to live, bro.”

      Ultimately, Chuck doesn’t want to live like this either, and the regular guy in him make him try not to, but when it comes to it, he does what needs to be done for the greater good.

      I think the struggle the writers have with this can be viewed as Chuck having a struggle with it himself. For example, he wants to protect Ellie so badly, that he lies to her. This is basically the spy thing to do. Need to know basis. But he feels guilty about it because he doesn’t like to lie to her like that. This isn’t the way he wants to live. So he’s caught up in this situation and has to balance everything.

      Chuck was never a regular guy. Both parents were spies and one created the Intersect. He most likely was the first human Intersect as a child. Was being recruited into CIA at college. The only thing was he didn’t know of any of this and that made him believe was normal and regular when that was the farthest thing from the truth.

      I see what you mean, but I kind of disagree. Family history and special brain doesn’t really make you special. Not like we mean it for Chuck. It’s what you make of those things that is special.

      Let’s say Lester parents were spies and he got the Intersect downloaded accidentally into his brain, do you think he’d be a hero?

      • atcDave says:

        i agree Crumby. I think Chuck still counts as a regular guy because of his values, interests, and priorities at the start. The fact he had lots of hidden potential and solid values doesn’t negate that. He may have been a bit of an idealized normal guy at the start; or the term I like is “alpha nerd”, that is, he was the sort of ordinary nerd that other nerds look up to and admire. But he was still easy to relate to as a normal guy in the Pilot. His growth since then has been satisfying because he has become the hero we all hope we would, or wish we would in similar circumstance. I think that also explains why we are often so sensitive to his more annoying traits or regression; if we relate and identify with the character, his good traits are satisfying, while his bad are embarrassing or disappointing.

      • thinkling says:

        I think the spy v. real goes to roots. The relationship Sarah had with Bryce was rooted in something artificial, false, fake. The context was the spy world where everything is run by deceit (that’s what Sarah said in AOT). Anything born in that context is governed by it, linked to it, and to some degree trapped in it. That’s more black and white than it would be IRL, but I think they’ve drawn that contrast in the Chuckverse.

        Sarah had some real emotions invested. You can see that at Bryce’s funeral. But the relationship was constrained by the spy life. Like she said, it was complicated.

        That’s why it was so important that Chuck would never take fake for an answer. (It was probably frustrating for Sarah, maybe felt restrictive, but ultimately it’s what freed her.) He’s a regular guy. He wants real and won’t settle for fake. Sarah had settled for whatever was available to her in the spy world, and it would always have been less than real. I don’t think Bryce ever mused about kids as they cuddled up to go to sleep. That wasn’t the kind of relationship they had.

        When Bryce came back in Breakup, he thought Mr & Mrs Anderson could pick up where they left off. Sarah didn’t want fake any more. By then she had tasted real, and that’s what her heart wanted. She loved Chuck differently than she had ever loved Bryce, even though C/S hadn’t been together. Great story. Things get messed up in s3, but other than that Chuck & Sarah’s story is really wonderful.

      • patty says:

        I also think that in Chuckverse the disconnect with the “normal” world makes it possible for spys to do things normal people would instantly see as “wrong”. Like kill Chuck to protect the secrets or kill Eve with no reason given.

        Chuck is still a morally upright guy and Casey and Sarah have reconnected to the “normal” world through Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        Interesting dichotomy, Patty. It’s the only way we could enjoy the story.

      • JC says:

        @Crumby

        I see what you’re saying but the way they handle it makes Chuck look bad a lot. For some reason they equate normal as whiny and weak. There’s no need for that. That’s why I loved Coup, one minute Chuck is talking about his cuddling needs and the next he’s fighting off rebels. Perfectly balanced without making him look like an idiot.

        And I disagree about Bryce. He put Chuck and his family ahead of the greater good on multiple occasions. When it comes to Sarah, my feeling is he cared about her but knew how she was and love was never an option. That’s why he was surprised that she was in love with Chuck. Not because it was Chuck but because he broke through her walls.

        You’re right that what you do what your gifts makes you a hero or villain but his history and brain does make him special.

      • Crumby says:

        Yeah. I’d say his family history and his super-brain make him special, and what he does with it makes him extraordinary. How’s that?

        I still don’t know about Bryce. Chuck’s the only one that really got to him I think. His only friend. That’s why he got him expelled of Stanford. But Seduction showed us that Bryce chose the mission and Sarah chose Chuck.

        I think it was in Nemesis (?) in the same episode he said Sarah was in love with him, and minutes later that he didn’t know who to trust about Sand Wall. I don’t think he really knew what love was. He never experienced it.

        But I do like your view: When it comes to Sarah, my feeling is he cared about her but knew how she was and love was never an option. That’s why he was surprised that she was in love with Chuck. Not because it was Chuck but because he broke through her walls.

        I never thought of it that way.

        As to whiny neurotic weak Chuck, I found Chuck annoying too many times this season to disagree with you. Just thought that might be an explanation.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        This is why I’m uncomfortable with labels and tend to get into these semantics/vocabulary tête à têtes lol.

        So let’s say someone has a father whose a genius and a mother that’s a gifted pianist. The child will most likely turn out as something along those lines…certainly higher chance according to genetics of excellence/pot. Does that make him normal? Or a brain?

        I say it’s not what he can do but how he treats other people. If he’s a genius, that’s not normal obviously but if he’s down to earth that aspect is. Chuck’s pedigree is not normal. He was born from a family of spies. His sister is a doctor, father a scientist/engineer and his mom is a badass. But he’s normal in other ways. Those ways makes him a regular guy. Like someone who has friends, would have beer with said friends, someone down to earth. What is not “regular” is what he does like give his entire CIA paycheck to give his sister the wedding of her dreams.

        Ugh I just changed courses halfway through with action vs capability. Mind bender.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Faith, as someone who just finished a statistics course, are you familiar with the phrase regression to the mean?

        Here’s the funny thing about it (my take). It’s supposed to be about how extraordinary trends or deviations from the mean get tamped down. It’s almost always associated with sociology. Some people think demography is destiny. I say it isn’t remotely predictive.

        Then there’s the genetics crowd. I have one simple argument. Say you have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure but are raised as a vegan outdoors enthusiast. Is genetics likely to be your destiny?

        So, genetics? Environment? I say yes. Clearly the mythology is that Chuck is naturally gifted, but due to the environment he was raised in and some setbacks he was pushed into a limited life. Even in that life he was a go-to-guy, but when his environment changed, his natural gifts showed. He’s a regular guy because he was raised that way. He’s a hero at heart. He’s a genius and “that guy” because he needs to be.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Statistics. Gross. Lol.

        I am familiar with it though I’ve always understood it to be returning from deviation into form/usual.

        You saw Legend of the Seeker right? I love the whole concept of choice versus destiny. Even he sort of had the Chuck thing with mythology essentially dictating his destiny. He had just as much of an exceptional pedigree as Chuck but he was raised normal. Is he a regular guy? Well that’s the question.

        Often times Chuck (the show) deviates from their own set of standard of what is normal and regular. Chuck does extraordinary things, he comes from an extraordinary family but there are aspects of him that are normal, that coincide with “regular” people. Yet at the same time we’re told he’s special.

        What I take away from this is back to the beginning: on Chuck no one and nothing is ever black and white. Chuck’s qualities included.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well Faith I was going on the sociological aspects, but yes, the theory was that extraordinary pairings were rare, therefore an abnormally tall man married a normal woman, etc. So, yes. But to the point, we were talking in the mythological sense, and in that sense I think LOTS is a perfect example of what I am talking about to illustrate Chuck. Through birth and destiny you have a man who was raised as a common man. No matter how extraordinary he becomes, because of the environment he was raised in, he will always remain a common man, just an extraordinary one. Usually. Statistically. 😉

    • I do think those distinctions are needed especially with that parallel with Orion and Frost that we got this season.

      Orion and Frost were both heroes (if Mary is one of the good guys) and spies. At that point we can conjecture that they knew about love. They got married, they got children…

      Yet they weren’t good parents. Chuck knows that. He considers his father a hero, and knows that he loved him, but I don’t think he thinks Orion was a good father. “Our dad was a hero. He was a great man who did amazing things. He was not perfect- not as a dad, no- but he was great.”

      So what will make CS different?

  13. Robert H says:

    I liked the article and it makes sense to a point. He will never be a “real” spy and Sarah knows it and
    so does Casey. The intersect enables him to play at
    it and pretend he is the real deal. He never will be. He isn’t ruthless enough but of course this is why Sarah loves him and will always protect him and
    his illusions, even to to the point of getting herself killed or seriously injured one day or if not herself then maybe someone in his family, all because he wants to stay in a world he isn’t cut out for
    by nature,instinct, or real training. Of course it’s
    TV not the real world so these things will not occur. We all saw how he “handled” himself without the intersect-poorly. Sarah had to “kick but” and “rescue” him again and the poor fool still thinks he’s a “real” spy. It’s pathetic really. He was, even with the girlish screams, a much stronger
    character in seasons 1 and 2, until the motivation of the character was changed in season 3. He went
    from a regular guy trying to get out of it to a guy
    who thinks he can be a professional spy and do it on his own terms when in reality he can’t or won’t,
    with or without the intersect.

    It’s why I developed a slow but gradual dislike for
    the character from season 3 on that seems to get stronger the more I see him, and then the smirking at the end of the last episode when he got the “new”
    intersect back. At this point I really don’t give a damn about the character anymore. I watch the show
    because on the whole it’s entertaining, much better than season 3 but the “Chuck” character I could really care less about anymore, a character to be tolerated but that’s all.

    I know, I know, I’m way, way, in the minority of opinon and no one will agree with me but I really
    don’t care anymore. I have a feeling this is going to be the last season and maybe it should be unless
    there would be a ratings miracle which I don’t see
    happening.

    As for Chuck the character as far as I’m concerned
    I have no sympathy for, no reason to root for him,
    and at best minimal tolerance. I know I’ll catch hell for this heresy but that’s how I feel about it, thanks.

    P.S. I haven’t read any summaries of 4.12 or 4.13 but judging by the comments I have see here it looks
    like the “couple” is going to be “separated” again,
    at least indirectly. If true, maybe the producers are trying to kill the show early before official
    cancellation takes place. So much for the “lessons
    learned” if true. Guess we’ll wait again and see, right?

    • We all saw how he “handled” himself without the intersect-poorly. Sarah had to “kick but” and “rescue” him again and the poor fool still thinks he’s a “real” spy.

      That’s why I think this de-Intersected arc partly failed. They told us something that we didn’t see on screen. Sounds familiar?

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess it depends on your definition of “real” spy. Imo, the only thing Chuck lacks in comparison with Sarah and Casey is fight skills. The Intersect 2.0 is meant to be a shortcut in that regard, and this is why the CIA has (unfortunately) neglected to give him any real training. It’s not a character flaw, it’s a storytelling crutch. Intersect or not, Chuck is the guy who charged into a Ring facility to save Shaw in “American Hero”. He’s also the guy who, without flashing, shot Shaw in Paris to save Sarah’s life. This isn’t a guy who doesn’t have what it to takes to be a spy, but a guy who’s beginning to realize he doesn’t know how to be anything else.

    • Big Kev says:

      @Anonymous/RobertH
      I’m going to disagree with one of you, and agree with the other!
      Chuck lacks many of the things that the show has set up as being prerequisites to be a “real spy”. He lacks the discipline to take orders, he lacks the ability to keep his emotions out of his decision making, he lacks the ruthlessness to prosecute the course of action that would benefit the majority over his own wishes. Even given the changes that have occurred in their characters, Sarah and Casey still believe in those prerequisites enough to challenge Chuck on a regular basis. In terms of the definition of “real spy” that the show has consistently emphasised and developed in its world, Chuck clearly does not have those skills. And we are told explicitly that he failed spy school because he doesn’t have those skills. I don’t think that much has changed, to be honest.
      My opinion of Chuck the character, though diminished this season, isn’t as negative as yours Robert, but I can’t disagree with the central crux of your argument – “he wants to stay in a world that he isn’t cut out for, by nature, instinct or real training. Sarah knows this, which is why her real feelings came out under pressure (“You’re not (a real spy) – Not yet”), and overrode her natural tendency to protect Chuck from the consequences of some of what he does. I think Chuck knows it too, which is why, since Honeymooners, his motivations to be a spy seem to be completely personal (being with Sarah, finding and rescuing his Mother) rather a realisation that spying is a vocation, something for which he is naturally suited. It’s why I said in an earlier post that Chuck won’t remain a spy a minute longer than Sarah does, or his family is made safe.
      What Chuck is a brilliant, original, lateral thinker and solver of problems, qualities that everyone (even Beckman) realises are incredibly valuable, but he’s not (within the definition of the job that the show has established) a “real spy”, even with the intersect. Without it, as we’ve seen, he could be a liability.
      The interesting thing to me in this is what it means for Sarah and Casey. Both of them are being explicitly shown to also be losing the qualities required to be “a real spy” – they’re losing their discipline, they’re losing their ruthlessness and focus. They both have too much at stake now to accept “the greater good” at the expense of what they both want for themselves. Does this mean that the endgame of the show is them both leaving the CIA? Or does it mean that they both stay in the intelligence community (maybe with Chuck) fulfilling a more analytical, less field-based role? My money’s on the first, for what it’s worth, but either way, the way the characters are changing, I don’t think it’s sustainable that they would both be field agents 12 months from now.

      • Anonymous says:

        Chuck and Sarah suck at quitting the spy life. They’ve never been able to do it permanently, and I doubt they ever will until they’re ready to retire. Chuck, especially, seems to be just getting started. Each season he goes a little bit further and does something I thought the writers would never have him do, such as shooting Shaw last season. This is why I believe that by the end of this season, there’ll be no doubt Chuck is in it for the long haul.

    • JC says:

      I think Chuck can do all the things “real” spies do but the show doesn’t want him to and they use Sarah to enforce it. If one concrete thing came out of last season, it was that.

  14. Tamara Burks says:

    I’ve never seen Sarah’s type as Hero, I’ve seen it as manipulative , egocentric scumbag. She may have thought they were heroes but they weren’t She had a rootless lifestyle as a child with her father as her only source of stability and quite frankly he was a manipulative egocentric scumbag who used her for his cons. She ended up equated being used with being loved.

    When she went into a similarly rootless lifestyle with the CIA she was drawn to the same type of men (and Graham was the same type when he offered her the job, I wouldn’t have put it past him to have interfered with Social services to keep her from being put with a family after her father was arrested so that by the time he official recruited her she would so grateful for a place to go she would do anything he asked no question) .

    From what Casey said (in Marlin I think) we can extrapolate that there was enough of this type in a relatively short period before Bryce to give her a reputation for sleeping with her coworkers. They probably slept with her while working with her and moved on with no regrets because they had no real feeling for her. Bryce was probably the longest lasting and we saw that he didn’t trust Sarah or consider her a friend .

    Sarah isn’t drawn to heroes . She’s drawn to scumbags . She may think they’re heroes but they’re not.

    But then Sarah isn’t his type either .

    • Faith says:

      “manipulative , egocentric scumbag,” don’t hold back, Tamara lol.

      To your point I think the guys she was with did use her. Certainly Shaw did. But at the same time I think she used them as well…that’s who she was and who she was returning to until Chuck pulled her from the brink. My 2 cents :).

    • First Timer says:

      @tamaraburks:
      No, that is simply wrong. There is zero evidence in canon that Bryce was anything but a genuine good guy. Cole was shown as horny, but honest and quite gallant when he saw the true lay of the land.

      Shaw? Well, no one liked him, but I am sufficiently convinced by lizjames’ analysis (http://bit.ly/gK8ayx) that the INTENT of the show runners was not to show a “manipulative, egocentric scumbag.” I accept that there can be differences here, however. But I prefer to adopt the “spy love” analysis.

      But the bigger picture on the Sarah character is that there is NOT a bigger picture. It is very clear that the show runners have never written a complete backstory for the Sarah character. They are not working from a story they haven’t revealed to us. They are making it up as needed on an episode by episode basis. So trying to extrapolate from a stray comment they once gave Casey and the one line they gave Sarah in Fake Name is a fool’s errand.

      They might later choose to write Sarah’s backstory as her having lived in a nunery while training and during most of her pre-Chuck career.

      It’s as plausible any anything else they might write.

      • I agree. There were nothing that indicates that Bryce and Cole were “scumbags” and Shaw wasn’t supposed to be viewed as one (epic fail 🙂 ).

        Bryce did care for Sarah, only he cared as much as a “typical” spy can.

      • thinkling says:

        Well said, FT. Bryce was painted as a traitor and Chuck’s most hated person, but it all turned out to be just the opposite. He was by no means perfect, but he wasn’t a scum bag. Neither was Cole.

        The contrast to me isn’t scum-bag vs. hero. It’s spy-hero with spy-life and spy-love versus a hero who’s a regular guy and offers real love and a real life. Finally Sarah realized she could have both and that Chuck could become a spy without losing the things that make him great … still the hero, still a regular guy, even though a spy.

        Agree completely on Sarah’s non backstory. I think before the pilot they had at least a pretty good skeleton of Chuck’s backstory and pretty much none of Sarah’s: not Jack-the-con-man Burton, not Jenny, not Heather, and certainly not the red test. They painted who she was fairly well, and Yvonne made her great. All the rest was need to know. That can be very problematic in story telling … duh.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree entirely First Timer. Both Bryce and Cole proved to be decent heroic characters. Shaw did fail utterly, but I can accept their intent was far different than what we saw.
        I also agree they put little effort into developing Sarah’s backstory. I’m tempted to take it a step further and say I think they re-imagined (is that a nice way of putting it?) what little they did have prior to S2. I don’t believe the original concept allowed the con-man’s daughter bit at all. But of course the problems didn’t really start until the Red Test idea. Its still hard to reconcile such an atrocity with the Sarah wants to be a “good spy”. I have mixed feelings on if I want them to try to fix anything or not. It really might be best to just leave her past alone rather than add more details that don’t fit very well.

        To varying degrees the lack of background is evident in all the characters, possibly including Chuck. Casey’s fiancé and daughter is certainly a product of S3 that was not thought of previously. Even for Chuck, the original publicity material for the show claimed Chuck’s parents were killed in a traffic accident when he was young. To be fair, that might have been someone at NBC taking liberties, the “mom abandoned the family” bit was in place as early as Sizzling Shrimp; my guess would be Chuck’s story was more fully developed at some point after the Pilot was purchased.

      • uplink2 says:

        My problem with Bryce is not that he was a scumbag but that if he actually cared about Sarah then why did he not tell her what was going on? Why did he let her get hurt deeply as she must have when she thought he was dead? He kept an enormous secret from her yet he claimed to care about her. He manipulated her without sharing the reason just as he manipulated Chuck. Strangely enough the only one he may have told about what was going on was Jill as why would she pretend to have had an affair with him when she hadn’t? There is a strong possibility that she was in on it from the beginning.

        To Bryce Sarah was spy partner first then lover. But never friend or real partner. And he thought those were her feelings as well because he never took the time or even had the necessary skills to know the real Sarah, the little girl inside we talk of often, till he saw it exposed for Chuck. He finally got what she was about and the good side of him accepted his fate and moved on, unlike the true scumbag Shaw.

        As far as the Liz James analysis goes I can kind of see the point she was trying to make but the problem with the concept from the beginning is that after Colonel in particular the fans didn’t want it. Sarah wanted true love and not spy love. She had rejected it too many times already. Trying to make it matter again was doomed from the start even with better writing and a better actor playing the part. I just don’t think that when the writers sat down to create this concept either they didn’t fully understand what the audience saw in the show and the characters or they cared or didn’t have the guts to stand up for them if the network forced this arc on them. They and the Network needed to be smacked up side the head by the fans reaction and ratings slide to fully comprehend what a turd they had created and it almost cost them their jobs.

        Maybe Shaw should have mattered but when it was done it was too late in the story and in the image of these characters that Yvonne in particular had placed so deftly in the viewers mind for it ever to have worked.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I think you hit the nail on the head where Bryce is concerned. He was completely a “greater good” sort of guy; that is, a spy first. I’m okay with saying that makes him a good heroic character; but in the long run he could never satisfy Sarah as a soul mate, because like most humans she needed someone who would value her more highly than the job. Of course Sarah figuring that part out took quite a while since the “greater good” does appeal to her, just not in an all consuming manner.

        I also agree entirely with your take on Shaw. No matter what the concept may have been, it didn’t ring true with what we’d seen on screen for two seasons, and it utterly failed the entertainment test.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Shaw could have been a jerk, or a millionaire, or the cute lawyer from across the parking lot, or a spy. Once they started twisting Sarah into a “teenaged” version of herself in order to make it fit the story, it was doomed.

        The story of Shaw will forever suck, like Dave, my mind is made up on that.

        The true tragedy of S3 is the story (Read: story telling CLARITY), or lack thereof, of Sarah Walker.

        I think it’s safe to say that we all get the same idea of what Sarah is up to this season. For this reason only the season was going to be great.

      • JC says:

        We can all agree that whatever they intended with Shaw didn’t come across on screen. Another problem, he was originally intended to be a double agent from the beginning. When that story was changed who knows my guess around the time of Mask. So you get this massive disconnect of what we were told and what was shown.

        And I agree about most of the character’s back stories weren’t planned out. I would even guess that some of Casey’s darkness from the pilot was transferred to Sarah at some point. To me that’s the biggest failure of the show. If you have any type of serialization you need at least some kind of plan for your major characters. Those inconsistencies start piling up as were seeing now.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        I think that they will either show or we were suppossed to infer that Bryce got onto Project Omaha and met Sarah because because Chuck was kicked off and his scores would have been higher than Bryce. Bryce told Chuck to pass on we’ll always have Omaha tells us that’s where they met. Maybe Bryce’s motives were pure but if he knew that he was potentially in line for Omaha (and the fact that he knew about it in the first place suggests he might have been, At least he knew enough to know what kind of project it was) than there is doubt about his motives. it’s also possible that he knew framing Chuck would advance his career and keep Chuck out of the CIA and therefore “protect” him and that possible advancement quieted any little voices in his head about whether or not he had the right. His inabiltyt to get the damage that he did to both Sarah and Chuck was what makes him scumbaggy though. He acted like he was marking his territory in Breakup and later when he assumed that Sarah would want to partner again with him even though he stated that he didn’t trust her and then there was the fact that not seeing that Bryce was going to go rogue would put a black mark on his record. Bryce only became likable to me once he realized that Sarah wasn’t going at Ellie’s second wedding and acccepted it. It’s a shame that he died soon after growing up.

        Cole struck me as the kind of guy who became a spy because he saw that James Bond got laid a lot. He gets the scumbag title because he went into the front of a house full of bad guys and actually endangered Sarah’s life in order to “save ” it in order to score points. He also essentially wanted Sarah to throw away her career in order to have afling adn what was the business with the unhackable chip? He didnt have time to get it tested by anyone enough to declare it unhackable.Was it because he couldn’t hack it and his ego wouldn’t let him say otherwise?

        Since Shaw said he was a double agent in the finale, I think he was the one who got the Ring to think Awesome was a spy in order to distance Chuck from his family and make him into his perfect weapon against the Ring. He endangered his asset deliverately, was hypocritical, blatantly manipulative and idiotic (that suicide plan made no sense not to mention how he gassed himself and Sarah) .

        Plus one has to wonder why did he accept the info the Ring showed him so easily. His anger towards Sarah I can actually understand because she actually did the killing even though she was followig orders from someone he trusted but why did he turn against the CIA so easily without finding out if his wife was set up to die by the Ring by being framed as a turncoat?

        Bryce was the only one that could have been a better person and in the Ring he showed the first signs of true maturity, Cole was just too smarmy , he gave off a lounge lizard feel (the kind of guy who doesn’t make eye contact because he’s staring at your chest), and Shaw was just so bizarre as an agent you had to wonder if he only got to his position thro8gh family infuence or blackmail.

    • joe says:

      I hope you don’t feel like everyone’s piling on here, Tamara. You’ve raised an interesting point (or several, actually).

      The idea that Sarah is drawn to scumbags is shocking, but really it’s not too far from the idea that she’s drawn to heros. Heroic is about action, you see. It’s not about reckless and macho disregard for one’s safety, and it’s certainly not about posturing. In that vein, Bryce was often heroic, even he did like the fast life. Cole was heroic even if he liked to collect awards and honors. Shaw was heroic at first, even if he was solely out for revenge. There was a popular song in the ’60s by Jimmy Dean, Big Bad John about an ant-social character whose last act was one of great heroism. Reminds me of that.

      Sarah is drawn to heros, and she knows Chuck is a hero too. But it’s his moral compass that sets him apart.

      Sarah knows that Chuck would give her up to do the right thing, and has, in fact. For my money, Sarah deserves his love because instead of being insulted by that idea, she admires it.

      • First Timer says:

        I think the problem with ALL of this talk, plus, minus, in between, is that we are rehashing what the showrunners have been rehashing since Hard Salami in Season 1.

        In that last moment, when each thought they were going to die, the writers established why each character loved the other. Sarah would do anything (including pointing a gun at him to make him run from the “bomb”) to protect Chuck. And Chuck put being with Sarah in that moment above any other impulse.

        The characters were defined, completely, in that moment. Everything else since has been filler and rehash or, worse, the Season 3 constructs of Chuck abandoning Sarah and Sarah’s subsequently losing faith in Chuck.

        After a while, writers run out of ways to write about the relationship and commenters run out of ways to write about the writing of the relationship.

      • armySFC says:

        joe you posted this…”Heroic is about action, you see. It’s not about reckless and macho disregard for one’s safety.”

        tell that line to all the men that have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star or the Soldiers Medal. they got that award because they were reckless and acted with disregard for their own safety. tell that to families of the first responders that died on 9-11 that acted with out regard for their own safety. as veteran of several combat deployments maybe i just have a different take on what a hero is.

      • joe says:

        Army, I think you misunderstand me, because those are exactly the actions and exactly the heros I am speaking about. I would never label the actions of Medal of Honor winners reckless – in fact, that would be a cause of mission failure. They acted with complete disregard for their own safety, but not recklessly and certainly not stupidly (which is the way I tend to see Cole). They also sacrificed everything for what was right, Chuck’s defining trait.

        Better?

      • armySFC says:

        TBH no. it just sounds like a back pedal to me. lets drop this before it gets out of hand. you have your ideas and i have mine. they differ lets leave it at that.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        armySFC, I think there is a distinction between heroic disregard for one’s safety and reckless disregard. Reckless disregard puts others at risk or greater risk is the way I see it.

        Shaw’s behavior certainly passes that test from the introduction. At the very first he was willing to involve a civilian (Devon) in his plan to infiltrate the ring even though you could see his attempt to “kill” himself to preserve his knowledge as heroic without that little detail. Yes, he is willing to risk his life to accomplish his mission, but he drags in people who never signed on and uses them to accomplish his goals. Hannah was another example, and Chuck’s willingness to go along with it after resisting with Devon was the start of his decline to a less heroic version of Chuck.

      • Frea O says:

        In one of my favorite book series, the main character is an NCO who somehow ends up on the bottom of the pile for desirable assignments; instead, her job is usually to keep the people fighting the fight alive while some of the officers play politics, a dangerous game for soldiers. There’s one officer, a Captain Travik, who’s put in charge of a major recon mission. He’s lauded by the press as a major hero for all of these missions he’s run, but the Marines that look at those missions see the body count and the unnecessary grandstanding and hotdogging that allowed Travik to survive, which were direct causes of said body count being so high. And that’s how I view Shaw. The men who died were heroes, Travik was not. And Shaw’s recklessness and willingness to put others in danger, as others have pointed out before me, definitely disqualify him as being *any* type of hero whatsoever.

        As far as Bryce goes, I also don’t view him as a hero. I know I’m supposed to, that both he and Shaw are supposed to be these great guys, perfect spies both, but there are just so many things wrong with that. Bryce is a jackhole. For the record, I hate this rule the show seems to practice, that in order to keep somebody “safe,” you must lie to their faces, and Bryce is one of the earliest perpetuators of this. I never saw anything heroic or sacrificial in his getting Chuck expelled from Stanford. I mean, yeah, clearly from his reaction in Nemesis, he didn’t expect it to lead to the downward spiral it did so maybe that’s forgivable, but did it ever occur to anybody that Chuck could…just say no? He’s an adult, he deserves the chance to make his own choices.

        And then you get to the destruction of the Intersect room/sending it to Chuck. First of all, Bryce caused severe danger to group of government employees that were doing nothing but their jobs, both by attacking them and by subsequently blowing up government property with them inside the building. As the daughter of two government workers who work in buildings like the one where the Intersect was stored, I find that a lot less than cool. Then there’s the Intersect itself. Even with Fleming’s findings on Chuck, who knows if his brain is going to be able to handle it? I mean, how long were the tests going on in Suburbs? How many of those test subjects’ brains were fried?

        And then, you get to Chuck himself. I mentioned Bryce’s surprise that Chuck’s life was in so much disrepair in Nemesis, which tells me he wasn’t keeping tabs on his friend. So Bryce’s plan is to send government secrets–that might kill–to a man who might have a full life and a job and wasn’t involved in any of this? I mean, what if Chuck had a wife? A son? A daughter? A more lucrative job than the Buy More? It’s bad enough that Bryce is endangering a civilian, but he’s also endangering that civilian’s family and friends.

        I suppose Bryce’s big heroic act could be giving himself up to save Ellie’s wedding. To me, it showed more a lack of foresight and an inability to get himself out of a hairy situation…which we also saw in Break-Up.

        So, of Sarah’s non-Chuck love interests on the show, the only one I saw as being remotely heroic was Cole. Dude may have been a grandstanding cowboy like the others, but he took an actual bullet for her. I’m so glad her taste in men has improved, even though I wish Chuck would stop lying and go back to being the awesome nerd I love.

        This was an excellent and thought-provoking post, Thinkling. However, being the irreverent person I am, it just made me think of this:

        Chuck’s aggravation deepened to a scowl. “Are you freaking out on me because your boyfriend didn’t call in, or because Agent Walker lost the Intersect?”

        “Where the hell does it say I can’t do both?” Sarah glared right back. “Also, why does it matter which version of me is worried? I was worried. You vanished. You, Chuck, the Intersect, Agent Bartowski, whatever the hell hat you want to wear right now, you were gone, okay? And God, this makes us both sound like we have multiple personality disorder.”

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Frea, You think too much. But then we know details matter to you.

        In all seriousness you make the point I was going for. Would an officer like the one you mention, even if he were selflessly brave and heroic, deserve a medal for risking his life if that risk put others in more danger? What if instead of a dangerous situation his men suddenly had to deal with that same situation, plus a wounded comander, without their commander?

        As for Bryce, you make good points, and I kind of liked the character more when he was a bit of a jerk. You could tell he was a bit threatened by Chuck (as you delightfully fleshed out in either FFF or Tides) and it added something to both Chuck and Bryce as characters. However early on they did make Bryce a bit more sympathetic. I saw him more analagous to Mary, caught in a no-win situation. Like you said, it’s one of a few tired devices this show has over-used on occasion, but to me it is better than when they started using the more tired TV tropes in the misery arc. But the thing that bothers me most about Bryce is that they decided to re-habilitate both Jill and Bryce, so them sleeping together was just a big misunderstanding. It kind of made sense, they needed to remove that betrayal if you wanted Bryce to be a true friend, but we’re getting to the point where nobody in Chuck’s life has ever done anything mean to him for any reason other than keeping him safe. The way its going Volkoff will end up his father in law because he was just a misunderstood love-sick crazy guy… OK, maybe not.

        Oh, and as a guy that works in one of those government facilities, I agree, no killing the innocent bystanders.

      • JC says:

        To be fair Bryce was just following the orders of Orion, so all his actions feel like something a Bartowski would do. Lie and treat the person you’re protecting like a child. And yes I know Bryce working for Stephen was a retcon.

        What I find funny is this fandom in general dislikes Bryce but they’ve basically turned Chuck into diet Bryce. Chuck has lost all his smarts and out of the box thinking from the first two seasons. Instead he’s a gimped version of Bryce who they’re unwilling to let loose as a spy.

      • Crumby says:

        Ah, Grand Canyon scene… Good times! 🙂

        First just a detail about Standford:
        But did it ever occur to anybody that Chuck could…just say no? He’s an adult, he deserves the chance to make his own choices.

        The show actually answered that one in Alma Mater:
        “Fleming: The Agency is not gonna let go of a recruit this promising. The amount of information he can retain…?
        Bryce: They’re not gonna give him a choice?
        Fleming: He’s in no matter what.”

        Doesn’t mean Bryce shouldn’t have told Chuck and let him chose. But he was already in full protocol spy mode. It’s the spy world that has those rules: lie to keep safe, etc.

        Anyway this talk about Bryce made me think of Best Friend: “Last night, we failed to learn the contents of the Triad’s container, and now we don’t know what kind of drugs or weapons are floating around in the city. And while I appreciate your friendship with Morgan, losing sight of that container endangers many people’s best friends. Not just yours, Chuck.”

        If Bryce hadn’t steal the Intersect, Fulcrum would have got it, and then who knows what would have happened. I’m not defending putting the lives of innocent people in danger, of course, but he wasn’t doing it because he was reckless, he was doing it because he believed if he didn’t, worst things would happen.

        But I guess the problem is with the spy world. Can you be a “real” spy and a “real” hero? Casey and Sarah aren’t textbook spy anymore and that’s the point. A textbook spy like Forrest, doesn’t really care about doing the right thing, she only cares about protocol and rules that aren’t always fair or right or necessary.

      • joe says:

        <voice type=Volkoff> Frea, my love! So wonderful to see you here! </voice>

        You know, you’re right. Sarah has a type – hero. But really, Bryce, Cole and Shaw (pre-insanity) meet every definition of hero, and Sarah is shown to be true to her type.

        But then, why Chuck? What has he got that the others don’t have? Is there anything that the everyday nerd can find within himself that might give him hope to win his Sarah when he’s surrounded by Bryces and Coles and Shaws?

        Well, like you pointed out, he’s not obnoxious, for one. At least, not mostly. Bryce said it best early, He has too much heart for this. To one extent or another, the three pretenders are machines. Skilled, flashy and not quite three-dimensional.

        How’s that?

        PS – I’m a little surprised that you let Cole off the hook a bit more than Bryce. He did try to butter Sarah’s muffin, after all. 😉

      • herder says:

        I’m late to join this conversation, several hundred posts late and no way of responding to them, but there is one thing that I would like to comment on: Sarah’s type. I had always seen a big part of her “type” to be charismatic individuals, Bryce (Bryce always got the great girls) had charisma, Cole with his awards and citations had charisma, Chuck in his own way always had charisma, Shaw didn’t have a whit of it.

        Another thing that has always been at the back of my mind is that part of Sarah’s attraction to Bryce is the bit of his personality that he got by his association with Chuck. Throughout the first two seasons, virtually everybody that came into contact with him were changed in some way. I figured that the years together in Stanford changed Bryce for the better and it was that changed Bryce that Sarah was attracted to. A bit of placeing her on a pedastal true but this has been in the back of my mind for some time now.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, I’ve always thought the same about Bryce and Sarah. I saw Bryce as an alpha Chuck and have speculated more than once that it was Sarah’s relationship with Bryce that started the transformation that was kicked into high gear when she met the real deal, Chuck.

        I also agree that Shaw fell flat on the Sarah’s type front largely because of the character’s lack of charm in addition to the zero chemistry between Routh and Yvonne.

      • thinkling says:

        Frea, thanks for reading and commenting. Actually, we loved your quote about MPD. As far as Sarah is concerned, the labels attached to Chuck are wholly unimportant. He’s Chuck Bartowski. He’s great on his own. She needs him and wants him … dead or ALIVE.

        Nice analysis of Bryce, too. Come to think of it the show runners make a lot of characters sound like they have MPD. Talk of heroes is always thought provoking, but I had no idea to what extent. I’ve made a lot about the appearance of people and what’s on the inside. Like Sarah the hot super-spy with a lost little girl somewhere inside, in need of a rescue. Then there’s Chuck who looks like an underachieving regular guy, but is a hero at his core. Turns out he is half a spy, as well. I chose the photo at the top for a reason. Looks are deceptive. The Nerd and the Tron poster … neither is what it appears.

        So, heroes. We have certain people-categories that we assume are generously populated with heroes: fire fighters, law enforcement officers, doctors, astronauts, etc. Our default view of them is “hero.” Up close, some of them are tarnished around the edges. Get to know them, and some are selfish, wrongly motivated, or in various stages of moral decay on the inside.

        When I say Sarah’s type is hero, I use the word in its generic form. Externally these guys fit the general descriptor. In reality, they didn’t move the needle very far on the hero-meter. Even the ones that did wouldn’t have been the hero she needed, because she needed a whole other type of hero. She found him in Chuck Bartowski, who appeared to be the unlikeliest of prospects.

      • atcDave says:

        I think it’s safe to say we were always supposed to have mixed feelings about Bryce. I don’t think it’s unheard of for a heroic character to also be a self absorbed prima dona; which does not mean they all are, but it does happen. Ever read The Iliad? Achilles is not someone most of us could be friends with, yet prior to the modern era of massive sensitivity on everything he was generally viewed as a flawed HERO. Even in that same story we see more likable heroes (Odysseus and Diomedes come to mind), but the total jerk who does great things is a well established archetype.
        If you’ve read much about Medal of Honor winners you’ll also see a mix of personalties, they aren’t all nice guys. Sometimes it’s that very pig-headed swagger that makes someone capable of incredible sacrifice.
        So I really have no problem with a bit of duality about the alpha males on Chuck. I’d rank Shaw as no hero at all, from the first moment we meet him he’s manipulative and ego-centric with delissions in place of actual concern for his team. But I see both Bryce and Cole in a more favorable light. Bryce would be hard to be friends with (oh, and I was under the impression Orion “heard about” what Bryce did at Stanford, he didn’t order it; but he obviously approved), but he did try to do right; even if he was reckless and had a limited view of right and wrong. Ironically i think Frea captures that duality quite nicely in “Fates” and especially “Wind and Tide.” Cole was a more complete hero in my book, but of course, I didn’t always like him either.

      • Crumby says:

        About Orion and Bryce, my impression was that Bryce did the Standford thing on his own. Then when Bryce got involved with the Intersect, Orion contacted him because he had learned about Stanford and was “the only spy he could trust.”

      • Faith says:

        Crap, I’m going to have to get into fan fiction don’t I? Fighting the good fight, is a losing battle sometimes ;).

        If Bryce is like Chuck, but the less genuine article does that make him Bizarro Chuck?

        And if Chuck has now turned into Bryce why the heck is Sarah still so in love with him? Shouldn’t she have moved on to Morgan by now*?

        So many questions, so little answers. I’ll say this, it’s certainly not the first time they’ve re-imagined a preset background/personality. Learning that Bryce was “looking out for” Chuck and that he was the only guy that Orion trusted within the CIA and around Chuck’s life was enough of a jaw dropper as it was and I’m still not convinced I bought that.

        *I’m actually joking, well half-joking. While I don’t disagree that Chuck has become more Bryce and less Chuck of late I go back to the destiny aspect…Chuck was meant to be the full package that Bryce was not. What Bryce has become and what Casey and Sarah have become after being around Chuck, Chuck has within. He does something they can’t do, he inspires people to be different, better and he does it in a way without muscle, strength or even intelligence half the time but rather heart. The problem is those that write the script hasn’t always done a good job conveying or emphasizing that.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Chuck is still a lot different than Bryce. The character we keep leaving out of the equation is Sarah. I’d say Sarah is the most idealized traditional heroic character. She’s somewhere between Chuck and Bryce in that she shows humility and decency in her personal life (that Bryce lacked) while having fearlessness and quick decisiveness in her professional life (which Chuck still lacks).

        Chuck is a different sort of hero, what I would call a moral hero. That is, his primary heroic measure is his determination to do the right thing. He has some traditional heroic characteristics (especially since downloading 2.0) but is mainly notable for making the other heroes around him better people (especially Sarah).

      • JC says:

        I do think Bryce and Chuck shared a lot of similar traits, the main difference was Bryce never had so many major setbacks in his life compared to Chuck. The loss of both parents, betrayed twice at Stanford. It was like those things humbled Chuck in a way, something that Bryce never experienced.

        What I hate is that Chuck of the last two seasons has been written like any other spy. He’s lost his smarts that let him come up with creative ways of solving problems. All he does is flash on Kung Fu, beats someone up and mission over. And even then they won’t let him go too far with that. Basically he comes off like a less effective Bryce or Cole.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah JC, and Chuck beating up bad guys is actually the least interesting aspect of the show to me. I’ve never been that big a fan of the 2.0 anyway. I’d rather Chuck used his brains, even becoming a mastermind and problem solver; while Sarah and Casey did the heavy lifting. Oh well.

      • JC says:

        I have no problem with the 2.0 but all they seem to use it for is Kung Fu. If they showed him using his brains along with his fists I’d be ecstatic. That’s why I always bring up the Batman comparison, with the 2.0 that’s how Chuck should be written.

        If they don’t want Chuck to be ruthless or brutal as a spy that’s fine but they need something to fill in that gap. That’s where his smarts should come into play and it should be showcased more.

  15. jason says:

    @joe / faith / ernie / dave / think – how about a 4×11 or 4×11 thru 4×13 speculation post?

    Joe – caught your latest 2 part podcast on chucktv – thought it really was great – I listened to the first couple, thought the discussion was forced toward one person’s POV – but the latest listen was really nice, balanced, moved in and out of issues much better, regardless of the level of agreement or disagreement the panel had – liked it anyhow.

    • joe says:

      I’m not sure we’ll need a completely separate speculation post this time, Jason. We’ll be putting up a group post to summarize our feelings about S4 to date this weekend. But since we’ve already gone a long way to describe these episodes, I have a feeling that much of it will be about things to come. I’ll make sure my part invites people to spec. at will!

      About the podcast, thanks! Honestly, I never feel like I haven’t had a chance to get my POV across. Fact is, I’ve often come away thinking I said too much. Really, none of us are afraid to interrupt or disagree! If I seem quiet at times it’s really because I find the others have interesting things to say and I’m happy listening to them!

      • jason says:

        Not so sure about the early podcasts, but the most recent 2 parter was excellent back and forth, give and take, honest, thorough, but not overdone – then moved on to the next topic

        speaking of moving on, my request for a SEASON 4 TOPIC, was a cry for help, enough of S3 already, it was a lousy story, told poorly, mis-cast with a faulty recurring guest star – I am sad that this group is being led into this fools mission of yet again debating shaw, sarah, chuck’s love triangle … I would love to hear what everyone has to say about 4.11 thru 4.13, it is coming up in 5 days, this weekend is way too late to start!

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Hehe, I often feel the same way Jason. In fact that’s why my first reaction on rehashing is this. But just as I think I’m out they draw me back in! Grr.

      • atcDave says:

        I think S3 will always be relevant for discussion. You all know I’m a military history fanatic; well its often true that more is learned from studying a loss than a win. Classic example being the period between the world wars. England and France prepared to refight WWI, improving on weapons and tactics that had been successful in that war. While Germany developed a revolution in armored warfare called Blitzkreig.
        I could list numerous examples from history, the illustration even carries over into the sports world when a loosing team often learns far more about how to get better than a winning team does.
        I think S3 will always be the Chuckiverse equivalent. So much was done wrong and fans were vocal about what they didn’t like. We still have various nitpicks about S4, but I don’t believe there is nearly the passion from a large portion of the fan base like we saw last season. I know I’m commenting less than I was 10 months ago, and the overall traffic at this blog is down by about 25%. Now I think that’s mainly a good thing that we aren’t all steaming mad anymore. I don’t think its surprising, or in any way “bad”, that S3 continues to generate more excitement in some ways than S4 does.

        Of course I agree S4 is more fun, I’m far happier than I was during S3. But I think its a permanent situation that S3 will always generate comments.

      • jason says:

        within 19 days, 4×13 will air, between now and then, Cs will have some romantic moments, chuck will likely be thwarted multiple times in proposal attempts, sarah will leave chuck in what will appear forever, sarah is going to probably do something that is cringeworthy?, volkov’s (and mary’s) plans will unfold, chuck will be a hero, we will find out about the interesect, morgan and casey are going to be involved every step along the way, ellie probably is going to find out about chuck the spy again, and am I missing something, oh wait, won’t everyone have to return to witness the birth of awesomette?

        Dave, Faith, we all have the rest of our lives to discuss S3 – lets move into the present for now, 20 days from now will be too late, this may be the most exciting arc chuck will ever do – come on, posting for the 1000th time how sarah could not possibly have loved Shaw at some point is not that exciting, is it?

  16. sd says:

    Agreed, Jason.

    So—I want to ask around about the whole…Sarah leaving on a dangerous/deadly mission to bring Frost in out of the cold (pun most certainly intended)

    I think the reason is she wants Frost to be around for her granddaughter…Sarah knows how important family is…b/c she plans to be part of this particular family.

    She wants to do what Chuck has tried but has failed to do…her gift to him.

    Any thoughts?

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      Ah! Some Season 4 discussion. 🙂

      I find it a bit interesting that the season started with Chuck in the forefront for his mom’s search – making plans, taking risks etc. But as the arc winds towards a conclusion, we now have Sarah taking extreme risks and putting her life in danger to rescue Mama B. What happens? Why is Chuck not able to be in the forefront now? Does Mama B’s predicament strike a chord with Sarah? Does Mama B specifically ask for Sarah’s help?

    • uplink2 says:

      Well part of it is I think Sarah knows that now Chuck isn’t safe as long as Volkoff is a viable threat. She even said that Mary is the only one keeping them safe at the end of Leftovers. Sarah does not like having her safety and the safety of the most important thing in her life be in the hands of anyone else but herself. So to her she has no choice but to try and take down Volkoff and therefore free Mary. Going back to my other point about Mary and Stephen being in contact I think it is quite possible that Sarah will contact Mary in some clandestine fashion like the want ads method to set up her becoming part of the Volkoff team. That is what he and Mary are discussing I think. But what will happen is that there will be one big difference. Sarah won’t do it alone like Mary tried to do. She will accept the most dangerous part of the job because that is just her but she knows that she needs Team B’s help to get it done. After all they are the best spy team in the world.
      But it will go astray and Sarah will have to prove her worth by taking out, or looking like she is, another member of Team B. a “teaser” we have heard.

      In the end it will be the new and enhanced Chuck that will find a way to be the hero but that hero will be the regular guy like it always has been. The Intersect will get him to a point but it will be Chuck Bartowski that saves the day. Finding and shooting Shaw, putting the camera in the room for Shaw to confess in front of. all heroic things and none of them involved the Intersect. I’m hoping this is the case again.

    • thinkling says:

      This is fun! I love the previews. So, random thoughts:

      Yes, I think baby Awesome has something to do with it. Sarah has always cared about Chuck and his family. She found Stephen, after all. So getting grandma to the hospital on time might be a worthy mission.

      I also think that everyone knows that things have just gotten way too dangerous, and no Bartowski will be safe for long, thanks to the proud new step daddy wanna-be, who should never, ever be Awesomette’s grandfather … even if kids do love him.

      Yes, I think MamaB’s predicament struck a chord with Sarah. MamaB did save Sarah’s life. I think Sarah will want to bring her back for Chuck and Ellie and baby (makes 3).

      I think maybe Sarah and MamaB think Volkoff would play MamaB and Chuck off of each other and it would be deadly. Better for Sarah to go. Plus Volkoff already has Chuck’s number. Chuck would never be able to play him.

      Or maybe MamaB’s makes Volkoff think she’s going to use Sarah or lure her for some evil deed, only it’s a plan for them to end him.

      I don’t know, but it looks great. I hope they retain Volkoff for some of 4.5. Obviously I want MamaB to stick around a long time. I just don’t know how they are going to pull it off.

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      Alladins, hey! We got into S4 a bit here lol ;-).

      SD I think you’ve got a point. I also think that she feels a kinship with Mary and that in itself is enough reason to help her. Remember her line, “Chuck, I got lucky, I was assigned to you…” Mary wasn’t so lucky and part of Sarah’s redemption is to be more like Chuck and want to help people she cares about.

      Then again it could be as simple as keeping Chuck safe. He is her very own blindspot.

      • thinkling says:

        I think it can be both 😉

      • Crumby says:

        And she heard the story Mary told Ellie. The Orion/Frost love story must have hit home a little.

        A spy with a family? Kindship indeed.

      • patty says:

        I thought Sarah looked absolutely repulsed when she said that Mary “got Volkof”. So yeah I think she wants to help MamaB escape her situation, and not just because of Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        Definitely Patty. It was great to watch Sarah watch Mary explain her situation.

        And good point Crumby. I almost forgot that detail.

    • treecrab says:

      I just hope it’s something that she talks over with Chuck first and doesn’t just make a unilateral decision. To me, that would lessen the impact of what she’s doing and frankly, I find the idea of two people who are supposed to be in a committed, loving relationship, constantly making independent decisions with no input from their partner to be very annoying and cheapens the relationship.

      She made Chuck promise no more secrets and no more lies, and so far, I think he’s done a pretty good job of sticking to his promise. I just hope she holds to that herself.

      If they can hold to that, I think this Sarah helps Mary storyline could be pretty interesting.

      • atcDave says:

        In one preview we’ve already seen a tearful Sarah talking to Chuck about going after mom, so I’m pretty sure they’ll talk. Chuck will worry anyway, but Sarah will succeed with her teams help and all will be well. I am excited, I think the execution will be a blast.

    • jason says:

      Glad to see all the comments. One spec on my part, I think mary will contact sarah. One of the posters I read this am said chuck has remarkable tools, he is special, he just does not have the instincts to be alone in dangerous situations.

      he won’t kill, he is not violent, he is not physically tough, he is not trained, mary knows sarah is all of this, sarah is mary’s best hope, hence I think mary will ask sarah to help her.

      Note the preview, sarah did not say I won’t come back till volkov is taken down (i.e. to protect them all) she said I won’t come back without your mom.

  17. Robert H says:

    Big Kev, really liked your analysis of how Sarah and
    Casey have changed, lost focus, and why this is happening in terms of their personal interests and overall goals. Although I noticed a subtle change in their motivations I didn’t pick up on it like you
    did and I think you’re right on target here, thanks.

  18. jason says:

    Since there is no spec thread, a ? for anyone, if 4×13’s climax is a Mauser moment, pits volkov on the ground, chuck with a gun, Say’s, volkov, you are under arrest, Volkov replies “I’ll be out in 20 minutes, and when I am out, none of your family is safe, I’ll start with that pretty little sister of yours, then her baby, I’ll make them both suffer b4 I kill them, then I’ll take your 2 sluts first for myself, then for every man I can find and have our way with them, over and over, and I’ll make you watch the whole thing live and on tape, every day, from your prison cell” or something to that affect, kabam, “No you won’t”. Chuck Mauser’s him.

    • Crumby says:

      Shaw could come back to kill everybody as well, and he didn’t kill him. I don’t think they would go there.

      • jason says:

        yea, I do agree – but IF they want chuck to be sarah’s equal, well?

        Plus, you never know, we might get a backstory where colonel casey paid a little visit to Mr Shaw in the insane asylum, which lead to Shaw’s unfortunate suicide, seems somehow Shaw got hold of a gun, and shot himself in the head – LOL

        The real problem with Chuck, it moves at a snail’s pace with just one story having any emotional investment, I had so much hope, CS would get engaged, be a couple, and the drama would shift to mary’s, beckman’s, morgan’s, ellie’s, and casey’s stories – instead – we are going to get faux engagement wt/wt for 24 episodes.

        So far, I know about as much about Alex as I know about Greta or about the CIA station in burbank, even less about Kathleen, not much about mary’s 20 years? I’ve seen even less of Beckman than ever. But we have seen all kinds of faux engagment stuff.

        plus, going to be hard to tell a story about 20 years mary spent in siberia in these last 3 eps, a little backstory there would have been pretty good, I would volunteer having her seduce a fat ninja who was so stupid, he knocked himself cold b4 he got any seduction, leaving Volkov and Frost laughing the night away sipping vodka using Rockhead’s fat belly as a table, maybe ten years and just skip the 4×8 story

      • Crumby says:

        Maybe making them equals would be to have Volkoff telling that to Sarah and she doesn’t kill him. She’d be Chuck equal. I can understand Sarah killing Mauser but I never were really comfortable with it. I don’t really want Chuck to go there honestly. And the show doesn’t know how to deal with those things properly, so they better live them alone IMO.

        But I agree that they should move on in the story. I’m fine with CS not getting engaged any time soon, if it isn’t the centre of every episode. I want more Ellie and Casey, and more details on Frost/Orion, Frost/Volkoff and Orion/Frost/Volkoff.

      • JC says:

        Part of me would like to see that but I shudder at how they would handle it. And at this point I don’t know if Chuck will ever kill anyone on the show. They couldn’t even let him kill Shaw and ruined what could have been one of the best scenes from the show.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t see them going that dark this season.

    • Faith says:

      Jason, awhile back Ernie and I were discussing what they have really lost from a storytelling standpoint with the whole S3 biz…won’t get into that but in a lot of ways the potential for scenarios like you have just put up is exactly the kind of thing that would have been a jaw-dropper, an entertaining one, but not one in the cards. Not any longer. In my opinion anyway.

      It’s also for the most part outside the realm of Chuck. Chuck isn’t a dark show, it just doesn’t have that kind of reach…not that I want it to be dark, I’m the kind of person that watches TV to be taken away from dark and vulgar but I’m not entirely opposed to it. In any case a reverse Mauser, if possible still wouldn’t be that dark…even Sarah’s Mauser incident was a picnic compared to that. And if they did go there, I think it’s something that will certainly change the tone of the show.

      • jason says:

        faith – I don’t want what I described to happen at all, I like warm, family, funny chuck the show and the character … more posted a dark mauser spec to get some season 4 chatter going – I sort of think Chuck’s brain is going to be the hero of S4x13, hope there is just a smidgeon of CS trust and teamwork that comes into play too, of that I am a little less trusting, but after 4 seasons, would sure be appreciated – you know?

      • thinkling says:

        I’m a lot like you, Faith, in that I watch to escape, but I’m not opposed to the ocasional heavy/dark scene, movie, whatever. But I almost always prefer not-dark.

        A reverse Mauser is pretty dark and pushes the Chuck envelope pretty hard. I could live with it, but I’d prefer “Chuck” not go that dark. After S3, though, they just can’t go there.

      • Faith says:

        Having already conveyed what I foresee will be the coming climax, I won’t repeat it. But I do have high hopes that that trust and teamwork you’re talking about will actually play a role this season. The way it did at the climax of S2. In a lot of ways this season is shades of S2 and I don’t just mean in terms of mythology. There are some dissonance but when the chips are down the teams as established are teams.

        But you do bring up a great point. If the end result is to be equal how far into equality and how will they reach said equality? I am a firm believer that they need to be equal. It’s just not conducive to a partnership if they’re not. But I don’t think it requires Chuck to go dark to accomplish that, I think it requires Sarah to get light. If that makes sense. I also think their equality will come in the upcoming story lines. When Sarah is doing her Volkoff thing, Chuck will have to more than hold his own as an individual and as a spy. No more staying in the car and whining, he’s got to man up and be a partner; more be a leader. I was tempted to say “rescue the girl” but that’s not equal either, and although in some ways they could go that route (they’ve set the standard), the parallel is such that it makes me think it’s going to take a couple/a solid couple and team to get through this bump on the road–the way S/M as a couple and team could not. In doing so, they might just arrive at a place where Sarah doesn’t stand in front of him, but rather with him.

        My theories are shades of what Sarge calls sunshine pusher but hey, such as it is lol.

      • uplink2 says:

        One thing that intrigues me is will the scene with Mama B and Ellie together with Sarah watching so closely have any role in Sarah’s decision? They focused a lot of screen time on Sarah in that scene and that usually means something down the road whether in that episode or later on. Is this going to be Sarah’s American Hero reversal? Where she is heroic at her own peril because it is important FOR someone else and not for a mission? The scene where she asks Chuck “why are you helpping him?” was a pivotal point for her and the decisions she would come to make later on. It was something she had never seen before in the spy world. Now she had done it before for Chuck but no one had ever done it for her. Will she now extend that heroic nature to Ellie and Chuck as well? Ellie is about to become her sister in law and she saw the bond she and Mary had. Will that play a role beyond what we have seen so far? In the Hero scene Chuck had finally gone far enough and started acting like a Bartowski. Is this Sarah Walker becoming Sarah Bartowski?

      • JC says:

        If one thing comes out of this arc I hope it’s the realization by both Sarah and Ellie that being a spy is part of Chuck. They can’t keep holding him back by trying to protect him from everything. The spy world has basically shaped his whole life and its what he was born to do.

  19. rac2873 says:

    I think Volkof suprising Chuck at gun point in the promo is all the catalyst Sarah needs to want to save Marry and take out Volkof.

    Chuck or his family will never be safe with Volkof running around.

    Now the cringeworthyness is if Sarah has to do some pretty serious seductions while being Evil Sarah. That might make me regret this premise.

    Interesting to see where they take this.

  20. Joe,Ernie,thinkling,atcdave,faith,liz,Rick Holy and the rest of the Chuck fans everywhere!Disregard my previous blog email adress. part 1 and 2 of my article Chuck season 3 What it was really all about? is on my blog email adress http://www.bernardthisblog.blogspot.com

    Part 1 of the article is up now and part 2 of the article is also is up on the jan.2011 Blog Archive
    which is on your right. Post your comments on the bottom my blog or on chuckthis. you can also watch part 1 and part 2 through RSS FEED on your IE. part 1 is on the bottom of the web page and part 2 is on the top of the web page. Enjoy!

  21. Rick Holy says:

    Hi ya’ll. Haven’t been chuckin’ you out lately – 5 funerals over a 7-day period keeps one occupied. But I’ll add one little response to the original question posed by this thread – and having scanned through the responses, I know I’m repeating what has already been stated. But anyway – HE’S ALL THREE: HERO, SPY, REGULAR GUY!! That’s what makes “Chuck” CHUCK!!

    Now, let’s get onto Monday and some new episodes. Not that I’m in too much of a hurry to see a black haired, black leathered Yvonne! 😉 (After all, BLACK is my color – with a little bit o’ white!).

    P.S. GO BEARS!!!!

    • atcDave says:

      Oh yeah Go Bears! I’ve got to root for the Packers this week too; the thought of a Bears/Packers title game just sets my heart a flutter (that and revenge for the way the regular season ended!)

  22. Charles says:

    So the question now Mr Bartowski is are you ready to take a leap of faith? (proposal) or will you die alone a man filled with regret! do we need to implant the idea via inception for you to propose as soon as possible or will you wait for the perfect moment that will never come because you live in an imperfect world (spy world) that is filled with imperfect people who will make you wait for what you want most? The challenge has been set, you are in love just go for it my brother, now is your time, if you want to grow old with agent walker now is the time to take the plunge! Have no fear as nirvana awaits you on the other side, nirvana is a blonde giant shemale who will go to hell and back for you against all odds and reason just to spend a moment, an instant, a life time with you! You just do not get it do you my friend, you have never been so lucky….How is that Magnus for Hyperbole? lol…..Good luck Special Agent Bartowski…..if only you know how special that moment will be when she says yes, then and only then will you have the best 5/10/15/20…. year plan that you never thought would have existed 4 years ago when a girl walked upto your nerd herd desk and asked you to take a leap of faith….

    • uplink2 says:

      From the quote from Zach at the TCA’s I get the impression that the proposal has already been shot. I find it highly unlikely that he would have commented at all if he didn’t know when it is coming. My personal feeling is that after all the starts and stops we will see on monday the birth of Baby Awesome will trigger a moment that Chuck will realize is the perfect moment naturally instead of trying to create on like in Balcony. That will be the magic he has coming her way and it will be more subdued but more real.

  23. JC says:

    Casting Spoilers

    http://m.tvline.com/2011/01/chuck-recruits-lauren-cohan-and-robin-givens/

    Vivian has been cast and the former Mrs Mike Tyson.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      Thanks for the link. Lauren Cohan is very pretty. She was in some episodes of Supernatural way back and was quite good.

      Wonder how Vivian’s presence will affect Team B. Maybe they have to get close to her in order to go after her criminal father. I hope C/S are engaged by then and it would be great if she made pass for Chuck – she may do so because she is a socialite and aren’t they spoiled rotten ? 😉 – only to face the wrath of the Adorable Psycho.

      • JC says:

        She’s stunning and was great as Bella on Supernatural. Maybe she’ll end up being a bizarro Chuck in a way. Thinks she’s just a normal woman until she finds out her father is evil and embraces her legacy as a villain.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        She could be the upstart who constantly keeps Team B on their toes. The Bella character from Supernatural was great – she used to give the boys some tough competition and was ruthless to boot. Would be great if Vivian turned out bad as you say.

  24. Faith says:

    Go to the spoiler page (comment area) to see some of deets from Sepinwall’s podcast. I transcribed what I thought was most notable.

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