Season 4.0 Recap: The Best Is Yet To Be

Chuck cuts the puppet strings

Chuck cuts the puppet strings

Was Season 4 of Chuck your favorite? We’ve been having that conversation with more than a few people these past few weeks, and come to the conclusion that the answer is (and I say this with all intended irony): It’s complicated!

Complicated, yes, but it’s not hard to tell you what we feel and what we think.


Thinkling: My Favorite Things

I could talk at length about the episodes and arcs and layers, the character growth and guest stars and why this is my favorite season. But I’ve already done that. So I’ll just tell you my favorite moments and lines from Season 4 … the memorable things that touch me or make me laugh or smile. My challenge — no more than 2 scenes and 2 lines per episode. Some episodes are so good it’s hard for me to pick highlights. I’ll mark them with a “*” and do my best to pick two highlights. These are a few of my favorite things:

Anniversary: General Beckman and Chuck in the Buymore … Sexting … They are ghosts who expertly use public transportation to avoid being tracked.

Suitcase:* The first scene and Morgan outing Sarah … The break-in … You’re my home, Chuck. You always have been.

Cubic Z: Sarah’s first awkward attempt at the chat … Do not let her get under your skin … Sorry, foot slipped. … The real chat.

Coup d’Etat:* The van scene … That love that you had in the cave; that doesn’t have to change. … The mediation scene … If you ask me for real, then my answer would be yes.

Couch Lock: You could have told me that before I crawled under those lasers … Morgan Grimes, expertise: None … The fountain scene.

Aisle of Terror: I’m going to eat your dessert and blame it on Morgan … The first meet … And I will [shoot] you again, if you don’t get in this car right now. … C/S teamwork and affection.

First Fight: Sarah and Morgan — stiletto … Sarah/Ellie/Mary scene … The bank fight scene … Protect him.

Fear of Death: Sarah’s slo-mo into the Buymore … It looks like he’s hitting you … But then there’s no safety net … The last scene.

Phase 3:* Morgan’s talk with Sarah … The pit fight … Sarah’s rescue confessions to Chuck. Yvonne’s superb(!) performance, absolutely unforgettable!

Leftovers:* Kids love me … The dinner and charades … Scene with MamaB saving Sarah.

Balcony:* Romantic Sarah … Sarah taking over the sub-mission … The last proposal.

Gobbler: Sarah’s first scene with Volkoff … I love a good suicide mission (and one knows this how?) … Castle reunion … I have a hard time with disappointment.

Push Mix:* Sarah/Mary interaction … Chuck taking down Volkoff … Sarah’s rescue of MamaB … The family reunion/birth … The proposal … (I know, that’s pretty much all of it.)

OK. Some episodes I exceeded my self-imposed quota of favorite things. I just couldn’t help it. This is my favorite season. First, I have little patience with wt/wt, so I have loved Chuck and Sarah together and the progression of their relationship. Sarah’s growth has been stunning. Volkoff is certifiably the best ever Chuck villain. I liked the mom story, the family feel of it all, and Sarah’s full investment in it. I love the Mary/Sarah dynamic. LH and TD have been absolutely amazing — individually, together, and with the main cast. I’m so glad they’ll be around for the back 11. Zach and Yvonne are fantastic together and individually. A special Emmy-deserving shout out to Yvonne for her amazing range and depth of performance this season. No one packs so much into 40 minutes of television, absolutely no one.

My verdict … season 4 is genius.

Thinkling’s thoughts

Dave’s a Happy Boy

Season Four is certainly my favorite Chuck yet.  I can appreciate that Season Two might have been better in certain objective ways.  But this season is the most fun I’ve ever had with a show.

Volkoff is the best villain this show is ever had.  Timothy Dalton can play funny and terrifying at the same time — I mean how many actors have you seen who can be intimidating while eating an ice cream cone;  WOW I loved that scene.  Now I’d say almost the same thing about Chevy Chase, I did think he was awesome too.  But Dalton cranks it up to eleven.  I’ve laughed while sitting on the edge of my seat,  what an experience.

Linda Hamilton has been wonderful as Mary Bartowski.  It is truly a shame we never got see the Bartowski parents on screen together because the casting of both was inspired.  I look forward to seeing how she develops in the back episodes.

Of course the main event to me was watching Chuck and Sarah grow into a more mature couple.  We’ve had so many wonderful moments between them this season (Thinkling already did an awesome job finding most of them) there’s been something to be happy about in absolutely every episode.

We’ve all agonized over some of the emotional cliffhangers this season.  I’ve made no secret about not being a huge fan of the technique.  But on balance, I can honestly say I haven’t really disliked A SINGLE episode this season.  I think Anniversary remains my least favorite,  I’d still give it about a 6.5 out of 10; so seriously, not bad!

Heading into the back order, I have no particular anxieties.  Except maybe if we can get a Season Five.

– Dave

View From Joe’s Seat

There’s no law that says Season 4 of Chuck has to be your favorite. Likes and dislikes are ultimately personal, and my wife’s love of Brussels Sprouts no way reflects on me. 😉 There are also certain analytical and objective standards that can be applied to the performing arts that can be – and are – used to dissect and rate each episode or season or series.

If you push the logical analysis enough in order to formally (and politely) convince others, the results of your logical approach are almost always guaranteed! You’ll get a big “Who cares?! I liked [or disliked] it anyway. So there! TTTHHHHPPPPP!!!”

The preceding sound effect is created with thumb firmly affixed to nose.

For me, it comes down to what I feel, emphasis on the “I”. Now, that may seem like a trivial statement (I hear the “Duh!”s coming in my general direction!) But there’s really a bit more to it than that. You can see it when you meet with someone who’s come down the same path as you and reached that same end-point. You know something is good when many recognize a thousand little points that sparkle, even if they’re microscopically small. You find a shared understanding that’s hard to put in words.

Those tiny details all seem to bring out smiles (or sometimes tears, I suppose) when they do come out, like a snippet of a song, or lyric. A favorite scene or a favorite scene that contains a favorite line, or smile, or glance, or touch. The fans of Chuck get a lot of those shared moments.

Gee. In an attempt to quickly compare, say, S2 to S4.0, I started mentally counting off some of my “moments” this season. Ran out of fingers and toes in Anniversary! Sarah grinning as she sashayed up to Marko before decking him… Casey saying “Thank you!” before jumping (mimicking Sarah in the process) – you get the idea. It gets even harder for me when I start to consider the music and the lyrics. I’m not afraid to say | We’re here to save the day | Hey hey-hey hey-hey HEY!” Of course, by the time we get to Sarah throwing her arms around Chuck, wearing a huge smile that we cannot see but can most definitely feel and giving him the kiss of his life – again – I’m deep into the emotional places intended for me by TPTB.

They’d consider that a success, I’m sure. And so do I. But then, there are the BIG moments of GENIUS that smack us over the head and makes us shout GIVE YVONNE AN EMMY!!! Dave and Thinkling (and really, all of us in comments) have talked about those. I also see great television in the larger themes this season.

The MamaB Arc

In a word, it was exciting. That was almost incidental, because it didn’t have to be that way. I mean, the Orion arc from S2 was exciting mostly because that one came off as a complete surprise to most of us. We had very few clues prior to Perseus telling us who had been the brains behind the Intersect in Lethal Weapon. It built rapidly like a runaway locomotive. This time the excitement was built up more gradually, and never really drew it’s strength from a rapid build up. It’s source of strength was elsewhere; in the depth of the bonds between all the characters, starting with the bonds between Chuck and Ellie and Mary Elizabeth Bartowski.

Mary: And who might you be?

Sarah: Wow. I didn’t even hear a twig snap.

She need not have been an accomplished, even fearsome spy. Being a mother would have sufficed. But from the first moment we saw her facing off with Sarah, we knew she was a great one. Sarah knew this even before Chuck did.

I detect a difference in colors between S2 (at least, the last six or seven episodes) and the first half of S4. It seems very much related to the differences in the relationship between father and son and between mother and son. A father is respected; a mother is loved. That’s a stereotype and no where near universally true, of course. But it’s a truism that carries with it some meaning. I feel that here, and I enjoy the differences.

Family

Unlike the Orion arc, S4 has been about coming together. We all knew that Chuck & Sarah were going to be part of that (OR ELSE!), right? But Casey and Morgan? Alex and Morgan? All that was icing on the cake. To me, the wonder of it all was in how long I was able to be uncertain that Mary Elizabeth Bartowski would join the clan. Given this was TV, given that this was Chuck, and given that we knew from the beginning that it could end up no other way, having mother reunite with son, daughter, their families and even the revelation that even after 20 years apart she still loved Stephen above all others was – heartwarming.

That’s code. In English, it means I wanted to burst. Add the sweet reunion between Mary and Morgan over Rice Krispie Treats and it becomes sublime. There’s very little in this world that’s more important and meaningful than the birth of a child, and we had that too. Welcome to the group, Clara. You’ve changed things already.

So Was It Good For You?

There’s been one story here that’s spanned four years for most of us, and that’s Chuck&Sarah (with no space between them any more). Was that in “real time” or in Slo-Mo? I can’t tell any more, because it was all that and very quick too (as I’ve said repeatedly), for television. What ever it was, the story was so sweet we were tempted to want it to be exactly the same, forever and ever, television-romancing with out end, amen.

It had to change, though. Stagnation and sameness would have been deadly, or at least, likely not holding my interest. Instead, we have a sequence that grows and swells with a recognizable rhythm. At least, it’s recognizable if you have an ounce of romance in your soul and have spent some serious time adjusting to life with someone you care about. The experiences build on what we had and often make the past seem even better than we remembered. Sarah’s question “What about me?” in First Date becomes “What about tonight?” in Balcony.

We lie beneath the stars at night
Our hands gripping each other tight
You keep my secrets hope to die
Promises, swear them to the sky

You can be sure this felt very much like a series ending to me. There were questions raised this season (like what’s up with the PSP?) for which we never got answers. I have to admit, some of those questions seem a little secondary now.

We should also not forget that we *did* get answers to some questions – What is *her* name, after all? “Sarah Walker. And don’t you forget it.” It hardly matters – Sarah has consented to change her name once more.

Others, like “Why again did MamaB spend 20 years away from her family?” are more troublesome, because it takes a lot to swallow the answer that was given. We have to accept that this is her character. If it’s important, it reflects the fact that a secondary character has become important enough that we care.

A conclusion has been reached, but the story is not over. There’s time still for more answers, if we want them. As happy as I am now with the results, I’m not so sure I need them. I’ll be very happy to start brand new adventures and to see where Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Morgan and all the rest go next.

– joe

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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155 Responses to Season 4.0 Recap: The Best Is Yet To Be

  1. alladinsgenie4u says:

    My very short personal recap – I am enjoying this season a lot, lot better than Season 3.0 and although the Intesect-less arc, Mama B’s 20 yr mission full with loopholes and Morgan overdose left me irritated, there have been a lot of awesome episodes, beautiful and emotional scenes and the continued and solid growth of C/S as a committed couple that have left me equally heart warmed.

    • joe says:

      Respect the beard, my friend! 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Support for the Beard considering the fact that I sport one myself? Let me think. Hmmm. Still Nah! 🙂

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        I’m still hoping Alex ask Morgan to shave it off. Now that would be a game-changing epic jaw dropping moment.

        Can you imagine a beardless Morgan? It boggles the mind.

      • joe says:

        NOOOOOOooooooo!

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joe – Joke follows, please don’t mind. 🙂

        NOOOOOOooooooo!

        [joke] Joseph, how could you even suggest that. Look, even Shaw is shouting out in horror from his cell. Oh wait! Or is it Joe? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference 😉 [/joke]

      • atcDave says:

        Now Joseph, that is cheap angst, for angst’s sake. Cut that out, TPTB need no encouragement.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Cut that out,

        Hey, you are inadvertently endorsing Joseph’s idea . 😀

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        Joe’s was better, and had more feeling.

        I think we should start a campaign. There’s Emmy4Yvonne. Why couldn’t there be Babyface4Gomez?

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        BTW Dave, I didn’t know there was such a thing as beard angst.

        And since I couldn’t help my self.

        Against it I know some people might be
        And some might think it’s weird
        But think of the smile and feeling of glee
        When you see Morgan without his beard

      • joe says:

        @Genie – 😉

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

    Joe and the gang have recapped
    And like many have already said
    S4 so far has been jam packed
    But the best still lies ahead.

  3. JC says:

    Strongest parts of the season.

    Timothy Dalton as Volkoff, actual real character growth for Sarah, Alex, most of guest stars most notably Armand Assante, Linda Hamilton, she saved Mary from being totally unlikable and the scenes between Chuck & Mary in Aisle and First Fight were some of favorite of the series.

    Weakest

    Using Morgan as the solution to everything, Chuck’s regression as a spy, BuyMore, lack of Casey, Ellie and Awesome being in the dark and stupid, the ending of Gobbler, Greta and plot dumps in the final two episodes it doesn’t work.

    Wasted Opportunity

    The Intersect -less and double agent Sarah.

    Looking Forward to in the Back Eleven

    Carina, Roan, mention of the Laptop, a better spy arc, some balance when giving growth to Chuck or Sarah don’t make the other look an idiot, Sarah forced into interacting with all the non spies on the show, Chuck and Casey on a mission, some regret or apology on Mary’s part towards her kids.

    • alladinsgenie4u says:

      JC

      Intersect-less arc, a wasted opportunity – lack of use of Chuck’s smarts? Right?
      Chuck’s regression as a spy – Episodes 8 and 10 or specifically 10?

      • JC says:

        Yep, the whole Intersect-less made Chuck look like an idiot, he did go to Stanford right unless that was retconned away too. 😉 And that ties into his whole regression as a spy both FOD and Leftovers were bad for him but the hacker scene in Leftovers gives it the edge.

      • joe says:

        Do you think it would have been better to start showing the Intersect as Chuck’s “crutch”? – something he could start to not need so much?

        I think that would work, but I can’t decide if the beginning of S4 is really the right time for it. Now that Chuck’s family is intact (and growing) that could be a major arc in S5, say, if they wanted to go that way.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        I still think that FOD was not that bad for Chuck. Although Rye’s methods were total BS, Chuck was trying his best to get the Intersect back and he wasn’t running away from the situation or sitting around moping/whining that he had lost the Intersect. And even though his flashing ability was compromised he did not act cowardly during the mission. Phase Three was all about Sarah. It’s the missed opportunity in Leftovers that bothers me.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Joe

        In one of their recent interviews CF/JS did say that they have explored a lot about Intersect 2.0 in Season 3 and the first half of Season 4. They now want to highlight Chuck’s smarts and intelligence in the back 11. I hope they come through with this and use the Intersect 2.0 sparingly.

      • armySFC says:

        joe, i may be confused by what you just said. it was the first episode where they showed what chuck can do without to much use of the intersect. that’s how he got on volkoff’s radar as a master spy. by using his smarts he did something the CIA couldn’t do, worry volkoff. that part was made very clear. then in the intersectless arc he suddenly lost the ability to think like that? then in push mix where he again has the intersect, he finally regains the ability to be a master planner and use his smarts. those things right there show me that chuck can no longer think on his own with out the intersect. thus the intersect is his crutch now.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the Intersect is part of Chuck and Chuck. I think it needs to be.

        The Intel part is great. The Chuck Fu parts can still be useful. The great thing about Push Mix was that Chuck didn’t rely on the Intersect; he relied on his legacy and his own smarts. That’s what I want to see … Chuck comfortable with himself as a spy with the Intersect as a tool and backup. I’d still like to see some of the Intersect skills imprint themselves in Chuck’s brain, so he is less dependent on the Intersect even for basic fighting stuff. We know he can shoot without it.

        Bottom line, if we get the Chuck of Push Mix, even with some cool Intersect stuff added in occasionally, it will be a very satisfying back 11. Add to that the confident spy couple we know Chuck and Sarah can be … fantastic.

        If you stop to think, Chuck has really done a lot in S4 without the Intersect. He always begins his fights without it. Almost all of Anniversary (minus the off screen Chuck Fu) was spy work without the Intersect. Repelled down to the hotel suite in Suitcase. Planned and ran the Couch Lock operation. Ran the Wheelright mission. Parachuted out of a plane. Withstood torture and fought the mental fight with the Belgian. Repelled off the balcony, with style. Planned and executed the take down of Volkoff, including snatch-and-grab, scuba work, tranquing armed men, and decking Volkoff. Not bad.

      • JC says:

        @Joe

        The 2.0 is more the writers crutch than Chuck’s. Instead of the creative ways of solving missions we had during the first two seasons he beats someone up and mission over. That’s why I wanted the fixes made by Ellie to include embedded skills, make Kung Fu part of Chuck like his smarts and lets him flash on intel and obscure skills like language, etc.

        @Genie

        FOD wasn’t as bad as Leftovers but they easily could have set up a situation where Chuck tries to take down the Belgian and gets captured without looking stupid. No need for him to get in the gondola without any weapons and a plan. The whole point of the episode was to get him captured and for Sarah to feel like it was her fault. But your right about Leftovers being worse, the hacker scene and at the end when he doesn’t stand up to Volkoff when he’s going to kill Sarah. Of course like the scene in Push Mix when Mary tells Sarah not to end up like her, it was meant to show Mary’s humanity and allegiance.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        If we are discussing Chuck’s lack of action when Volkoff threatened Sarah I would also bring your attention to the scene in the Buy More where Volkoff is ready to pull the trigger on Chuck (Leftovers). What does Sarah do? Nothing. In both the scenes the writers could at least have C/S verbalize their fear/anxiety. Instead such a basic response to seeing your loved one in danger was circumvented to give Mama B her savior of the day moment – not once but twice.

        And agree about the lack of plan in FOD before getting into the gondola – but in Chuck’s defense the whole mission was being run by Rye – in theory he was the junior partner to a stubborn CIA dude who couldn’s see beyond his own false notions.

        Also, do the writers have amnesia because they conveniently ignore Chuck’s smarts one episode and miraculously get them back for another one. But as Joe just said it’s 3 steps forward and 2.5 backwards then the very slow march forward.

      • thinkling says:

        Oops, that anonymous was me.

        @Army: I don’t really see that Chuck lost his ability to think during the Intersect-less arc. He demonstrated a lack of confidence, but not a lack of smarts. He studied up on gemology on the flight to Switzerland, and it was his idea to get a look at the diamond before the auction winner got hold of it.

        In Phase 3, he used his smarts the whole time. He was constantly analyzing the dreams to hang onto reality, all to the complete consternation of the Belgian and his doctor. They were amazed at his brain power.

        Leftovers just doesn’t bother me like it did some people. It was clear even in Cubic Z that Chuck was not yet well versed in the Castle’s new toys. He’s definitely not trained in weapons like Casey and Sarah are. So for Casey and Sarah to do their jobs in the weapons department is no problem for me. Many people say that Chuck is the hacker and should have been at the controls. But hacking isn’t required when it’s a CIA system that Casey knows cold. Like I said, I didn’t perceive it as Chuck not being able to think. He relied on his team at the point of their expertise … which is smart. (If it makes you feel better, you can always chalk it up to his near mind wipe the week before. It’s amazing he wasn’t a vegetable.) After Volkoff took over, he was in control of an extremely tense situation that MamaB and Chuck and Sarah were trying to get through without getting anyone killed. Later on Chuck showed both calm and smarts when he sent Awesome to set off the CIA alert and retrieve Sarah’s gun, under the guise of getting sugar. Smart.

        I don’t think Chuck ever lost his smarts or his ability to think. I think he lost his confidence, mostly because of his mom. His confidence began to flag the moment she walked back into his life and didn’t want to know anything about him, and shot him. Then she blew up his childhood home, his father’s life’s work (the legacy that had been left to him), and disarmed him … robbed him of the one thing that protects him and his team and makes him a spy. Just think about that. She stole his mojo and made Bryce and Jill look like amateurs. She stole everything from him but Sarah. (He finally realized that Sarah was the most important thing … that she was enough; just like Sarah discovered the same about Chuck in Phase 3.)

        At the beginning of Leftovers, he is confident in Sarah’s love and in his worth as a spy with out the Intersect. That was a necessary step for him as a man and a spy. By the end of Leftovers, two other problems were solved. Something happened besides the return of the Intersect … the return of his faith in his mom. He trusted her again, knew that she loved him. That did for him emotionally what the return of the Intersect did for him professionally.

        These are things that were necessary for Chuck’s growth. We readily see Sarah’s growth, but we are less aware of Chuck’s growth. He has had abandonment issues and confidence issues below the surface for forever. These weaknesses needed to be exposed and dealt with in order for him to be the hero we saw in Push Mix. The Intersect-less arc didn’t create insecurities, it exposed long held insecurities so that he could, with Sarah’s help, get rid of them. It was the Intersect-less arc and its lessons that gave him an unshakable faith in Sarah, even as she went undercover to rescue his mom. It was the IL arc that gave him confidence in himself, Chuck Bartowski, so that he could boldly take up the Orion legacy and step into his own destiny, not as James Bond, but as Chuck Bartowski.

        If anything the Intersect was a crutch before, but thanks to the IL arc, it is no longer a crutch. It’s really rather genius.

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        I know Rye was in charge but when has that ever stopped Chuck from doing his own thing. Like I said the whole episode was a setup for Phase Three. And I have no problem with Chuck being captured or in need of rescue but I wish they did it without making him look like an incompetent idiot. And the same goes for Sarah too. One character doesn’t have to regress or look stupid to make the other look heroic or show growth.

        With Mary I see it as them trying to be too clever for their own good. Instead of trying to keep her motives and loyalty in the air it should have been established from the beginning. I doubt anyone thought she would be evil. Then we wouldn’t have gotten those moments that made both Chuck and Sarah look bad.

        Selective amnesia has gotten them through the last two seasons. My biggest gripe with forgetting Chuck’s smarts is they wouldn’t do that with Sarah’s throwing knives or Casey using a gun.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        Thinkling

        Leave aside the “hacker” scene from Leftovers for a moment. To me here was a whole episode that could have utilized Chuck’s smarts to save the day without the presence of the Intersect. Instead what we got was Chuck totally in the background while Mama B was the hero of the moment.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        JC

        The way I am seeing it is that the combination of Chuck not being a hero for three straight episodes – 4×08 through 4×10 and him being too neurotic about planning the perfect proposal in 4×11 as compared to ” know it all Yoda Morgan” has made him unlikeable to some fans. Damn the Intersect-less arc!! 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I can see that side, too, Alladins. I still like it the way it was, though, and I didn’t really see Chuck in a bad light. The madman was in charge and only Chuck’s mom is adept at handling him.

        At that point, MamaB’s moment was more critical than Chuck’s. Her loyalty was put beyond question, and Sarah’s bond with her was forged. Awesome.

        I don’t see how they could have done both. Mary had to go back as a setup for the Balcony arc. Chuck’s confidence in his mom had to be restored. Under an unbelievably tense situation, Chuck had enough presence to send Devon for “sugar” and get his sister out of harms way, knowing it would put himself at greater risk. That seems to me like the Chuck of old. Chuck was using his smarts. But part of the “evil fun” of Volkoff is that he was always one step ahead.

        Most of Chuck’s less than stellar moments in Leftovers, came not b/c of any lack of smarts, but b/c of his mom issues. Mom was the one that exposed everything that had been brewing inside for years.

        Sorry to go on so. But the more I think about it the more I think it’s genius. I fully expect the mishegaas to be gone from here on out. It’s been flushed out of his system. He has battled the long-present demons and won.

      • thinkling says:

        That said, I totally get the reaction to the insecure Chuck we saw. I’m just now piecing together some of the purpose behind it all. If that helps anyone else feel a wee bit better, that’s good. If not I understand that, too.

        I do predict though that that Chuck is gone.

      • joe says:

        You know, the way you describe it, Thinkling, I see a lot of similarities between the Intersectless Chuck in Leftovers and the Chuck we saw in Colonel saying to Devon Can you be awesome? I need you to be – awesome.

      • JC says:

        @Genie

        You’re right that that it was combination of many things and I admit had it been shorter the hacker scene and Leftovers wouldn’t have bothered me. Another part was both Sarah and Casey treated Morgan more like a spy than they did Chuck throughout the whole arc. And that’s just not acceptable in my eyes.

        But still I have this feeling that the issue of Chuck’s value without the Intersect hasn’t been put to bed just yet. Thanks S3 ! 😉 IMO we never got concrete validation from the one person that matters in this, Sarah.

        @Thinkling

        But did they really need to make Mary’s loyalties questionable? I doubt anyone thought she would end up being evil, so all of that tension over that felt false in a way. Instead it hurt the arc and her character.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        In hindsight I think the writers plotted the Intersectless arc to be the crossroads at which Chuck gets his mojo back. It wasn’t as well executed as we might have hoped (FOD remind one of my least fav epis of this genius season) but the intent was admirable. It’s kind of like Beefcake in a sense. We don’t get lethal weapon and it’s awesomeness without Beefcake. It’s the same with this. We don’t get Chuck owning his destiny, asserting his authority and becoming in the truest sense of the phrase: Orion’s legacy–if he hadn’t suffered and regressed and faltered in the episodes preceding it. Our hero was put through a test and he passed with flying colors.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I have to start by clarifying that the Intersectless arc really never bothered me much, I enjoyed Fear of Death and Leftovers. But I wonder if it would have been better received if there had been more of a gap between when Chuck regained his confidence and the Intersect. That way we could have an episode where Chuck is clearly the big hero before he gets the Intersect back. It might have been more satisfying for those who saw regression in the arc, while restoring the status quo at a slightly later time.

      • thinkling says:

        Did they have to make MamaB’s loyalties questionable? Did any of us think she was going to turn out bad?

        Yes. No.

        We have a semi-omniscient POV, not totally; but we are above the story and can see some things coming. Chuck and Sarah are in the story and can’t see anything but the day as it unfolds. They didn’t hear the “Oh, Chuck.” They didn’t see her kill three of Volkoff’s goons to protect Chuck and Ellie. It would be strange not to question her loyalties. Had they not been questioned, we would be screaming about how dumb it was not to question her, since she was inside Volkoff industries for 20 years. As Sarah said, to stay undercover for so long and remain loyal is very difficult. So to me it’s a perfectly logical story line for Chuck and Sarah to have to go through all that. Even though I wanted Mary to turn out good, and even though I strongly suspected she would, it still made it a better story to go through the verification process.

      • thinkling says:

        One other thought on Mary’s loyalties.

        Any double agent worth her salt would have to have questionable loyalties. By that I mean if her loyalties weren’t questionable she would long since be dead. She had to pass herself off as loyal to Volkoff to survive. It doesn’t mean she was loyal to him, but if her loyalties were obvious, she would be a terrible undercover operative.

        We viewers can be somewhat confident from the start, because of the kind of show Chuck is and because TPTB said it’s all about family, that Mary will turn out good. But Chuck and Sarah can’t have that same certainty. That’s the story. So, to me it’s not useless at all.

    • joe says:

      I’d gauge the Gretas as the biggest missed opportunity this season, JC. I chalk it up to the Olivia Munn deficit in my TV diet. Other than that, it’s hard to argue with your list!

      Good news for me – I hear they’re picking up the Greta thread in the back 11. I’m hoping they go somewhere with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe, go somewhere with it then be done! Sorry, I think its a giant waste of screen time for mostly forgettable cameos. I hope they make good on it, then stop wasting time.

    • joe says:

      Genie, AFAIC that’s good news!

      And to Army too, that’s what I’ve been hoping for. You see, I don’t think it’s that Chuck becomes stupid with the Intersect, or even relies on it too much. It’s that he is and always has been insecure about his abilities. I’m sure Chuck would say that being able to avoid Volkoff’s radar was an accident, not skill.

      Daniel Zott:

      I’m a hell of a guy.
      Livin’ a hell of a lie.

      Okay, I don’t understand how someone can get through Stanford Engineering and be insecure, and I *REALLY* don’t understand how someone can get a Sarah Walker to look at him twice and still be insecure. But he is.

      At least, up to now. When I think of Chuck growing up, that’s what I’m talking about, really. Not his physical capabilities or even his intelligence. It’s confidence in his own abilities he’s been lacking. I can’t convince myself that it has much to do with the Intersect one way or the other.

      When he pointed the gun at Volkoff’s head and again when he looked at Sarah in the hospital hallway I saw no trace of that insecurity. I’d love to see that become permanent.

      • jason says:

        @joe – if TPTB have done anything reasonably well, they have shown a slow growth for Chuck, complete with relapses, often bolstered by some comment / command from Ellie, but growing none the less.

        In her parallel real girl growth story, Sarah too has grown up. In many ways, the show is at a crossroads, I have no real feel for how grown up and secure chuck will be, or how real girl Sarah will be, or how their story will unfold as an engaged couple.

        If done right, the upcoming arc has potential to be my favorite! I really liked chuck in 4×13 as the star, with sarah being his loyal partner, each time I think the show might go there, the rugs gets pulled out, I am still hoping!

      • joe says:

        …chuck in 4×13 as the star, with sarah being his loyal partner…

        Nice! I like it.

        Yeah – they don’t often do things linearly like that. It’s three steps forward, 2.5 back and THEN they get to where we wanted them to be 11 episodes earlier.

        It requires a lot of patience.

      • JC says:

        @Joe

        I think what you’re seeing is that a lot of the regression with Chuck and Sarah feels like its done for plot and nothing more. Some of it I can understand, Mary’s appearance throwing Chuck for a loop and Sarah being uncomfortable doing normal girlfriend things but sometimes it comes out of nowhere to serve the plot not the characters.

        The other issue is I think the writers are afraid of taking the next step with Chuck and Sarah. If Chuck becomes a real hero, he’ll lose his everyman appeal and a source of cheap comedy with making him the butt of jokes. Sarah the on the other hand is an easy way to create drama within the relationship. Look at the end of Gobbler, no point or resolution to it but an easy way to up the drama when the spy story is falling short.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        If Chuck becomes a real hero, he’ll lose his everyman appeal and a source of cheap comedy with making him the butt of jokes.

        Why the heck cant the writers use Morgan for their cheap comedy and butt of jokes.? Why does is have to be Chuck who ends up looking incompetent? WHY? *Takes deep breaths to calm down* 🙂

      • JC says:

        Chuck as the butt of jokes worked during the first two seasons because he was a fish out of water in the spy world. But now he’s supposed to be the hero and spy it just doesn’t fly IMO. And don’t get me started on how they treat his issues and feelings as jokes compared to the other characters.

      • uplink2 says:

        JC I disagree with you about the end of Gobbler. But it took me to really look at Push Mix to get there. I have said I now feel that the end of Gobbler was not about Chuck and Sarah at all but about Mary. She needed to see the impact of it all on Sarah to then come to the conclusion that it had to end now no matter what the consequences. The distance thing was Sarah allowing herself to refocus on the mission and that is why she did all of her future communication with Beckman and not Chuck. It affected her so much that she knew that talking to Chuck would compromise her cover as it was and being the good spy she had to not let that happen.
        Sure it was a drama plot device but it also had another purpose. Mary had warned Sarah about what may happen and the decisions she would have to make but that final scene bonded them and she saw first hand how devoted to her son Sarah was much more than just the hand holding in Leftovers. It was tearing Sarah up inside and Mary had to put an end to it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, well said. I didn’t think even the first time it was a Chuck doubts if Sarah has really turned moment, but it was an important moment. Chuck (and we) see Sarah raising the emotional walls again and doing what they both feared, going back to being closed off spy Sarah. Turning into Mary. It is one of the things that makes Chuck decide he needs to take charge and end the mission to take down Volkoff.

      • JC says:

        @Uplink

        Sorry I just don’t see it. The ending of Gobbler was pointless because no mention of it was ever made by either Chuck and Sarah in Push Mix. When you constantly sweep things under the rug why should I care when things go back to the way they were five minutes into the next episode.

        And I saw no struggle by Sarah she looked fine in continuing being undercover until her mission was completed. It was the return of Sarah the plot device.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well we will have to agree to disagree. There was certainly a mention of it I just think you are choosing not to see it that way. Chuck’s side was resolved because Casey woke up and told him what happened. And the scene on the deck of The Contessa with Mary and Sarah is most definitely alluding to the ending of Gobbler to me. It is why the scene happened, to get us to that point.
        As far as Sarah being ok with continuing her mission, she had to. She made a commitment to Chuck that she would finish it and bring Mary home and that mission had not been accomplished yet. She knew it could take a while longer and as much as told Chuck that in the truck in Gobbler. So to me I have no problem at all with her wanting to continue it for a while longer. They were making progress in her eyes. Mary just having been there before for herself knew it had to end or it would be a downward spiral that she couldn’t extract herself from. Sarah felt she could still finish her mission and was completely dedicated to doing it for Chuck. That is why she didn’t leave the ship when Chuck and Morgan did. She was still not coming home without Mary.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC, no mention of the declined phone call was made because it was there to show the conclusion of a process where Sarah risked going back to her old self. That was pretty much explicitly stated in the end of Balcony and re-stated as something Chuck feared in the beginning of Gobbler. We see it again when Chuck says he feels as if he’s cheating on Sarah (his Sarah) with Sarah (dominatrix spy Sarah) Chuck’s fear that Sarah would regress and shut him out was realized when she declined his call, so he was then, in the next episode motivated to take charge and get her and his mother out. There is also a telling moment we see exactly why Chuck proposes in a hospital hallway. Chuck and the re-blonded Sarah are sitting holding hands in the hallway when he brushes her hair away from her face. At that moment, his touching her hair and a look of tenderness on her face he realizes his Sarah is back.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well put Ernie. I agree completely. Combining that with the fact that as soon Casey woke up and told Chuck that there was a good reason for what happened and not Sarah turning Chuck realized that it had to end before she was forced to do something even worse. He had to act. He had been too passive for too long and it was time for him to fulfill his and his father’s destiny before he lost everything again.

      • JC says:

        @Uplink

        I think you’re seeing things that aren’t there. The ending of Gobbler served two purposes one to create a cliff hanger and other was to give Mary a moment of redemption at the expense of Sarah’s character.

        Not once in the episode did Sarah express regret or worry that the mission wasn’t worth it. She saw first hand that Mary’s mission destroyed Chuck’s family and to blindly follow the same path shows how clueless they write her sometimes.

        @Ernie

        If back to her old self you mean S3 Sarah we can agree on that. Having her follow the lead of a recurring character who’s horrible advice she knows better than to. Sarah faced no repercussions for her actions as usual so its hard for me to care.

      • atcDave says:

        I think I’ll always see the end of Gobbler a cheap angst trick. But given that I was pleased with how quickly they dismissed it at the start of Push Mix. Chuck wasn’t going to get into another self-destructive round of self pity, he took quick action to fix the situation. I do wish Sarah had shown more regret for the situation she wound up in; but overall I’d give the handling of it an 8 out of 10.

      • armySFC says:

        Dave again i agree with you. the trouble with that type of ending is it does not make the person that was scared off last year or made nervous by last year want to tune in to find out how bad it got. granted as you said it was dismissed in the first couple of minutes, but how many chose not to tune in to find out?

      • atcDave says:

        Dang Army that’s like two in a row. It’s okay though; we’re arguing elsewhere on this thread, we wouldn’t anyone to think we were going soft…

      • JC says:

        I want one thing to be clear about my feelings about the end of Gobbler, it had nothing to do with angst or dark. It just was the same old trick that leads to the same resolution. If that ending had led somewhere different in the story, like Chuck hesitating in proposing or Sarah coming terms with her self then I would be OK with it. But it didn’t and that’s where my problem is.

      • armySFC says:

        dave lol. not going soft, i can see other peoples points of view even if i disagree.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thinkling, excellent points about the intersectless arc. I do however want to raise one thing we seem to be ignoring. TPTB have said that some story elements were pushed into the back order basically to give them a reason to keep Volkoff around. We may not yet have the full story on the intersectless arc or the Volkoff/Frost/Orion situation.

      • thinkling says:

        Are you thinking we may get a Volkoff tie in to the Intersect.

        I hope the tie-ins are more plot oriented than character oriented. By that I mean I hope we’re through messing with Chuck’s mojo over the Intersect. The tie-ins should be more like Volkoff has always been after Orion’s best invention: the Intersect.

        We may get a reference to the Belgian in that case.

        Is that what you’re thinking or do you have something else in mind?

      • atcDave says:

        That is something that’s been mainly absent. I’m not sure how much I care, I mean does everything have to be about the Intersect? But of course, Volkoff being an arms dealer and ultimately about money; the Intersect would be of interest to him beyond anything personal, perhaps.

  4. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Joseph:

    BabyFace4Gomez????

    You, Sir, are a bad person.

  5. thinkling says:

    Morgan’s the bearded elf.
    It’s part of his inner self.
    He’s already been tucked.
    Would you have him be plucked?
    Put those clippers right back on the shelf!

    • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

      Not touching the beard may be for the best
      For to remove it would truly be a sin
      Perhaps he should concentrate on his chest
      And then scream, “OOOH KELLY CLARKSON!!”

      What is even more disturbing however
      With the facial hair we’re all romancing
      Is how can we discuss Morgan’s beard
      When Sarah will be belly dancing

  6. jason says:

    I will bring the recap from a slightly diff POV. I am a big shipper, a want 100% happy endings, not a big mythology guy (actually, I am, I simply do not see the show Chuck as a mythology show), and like stand alone chuck lite the most, many of you know that. But I also am pretty much a look forward guy, or try to be.

    For me, 4.0 from my POV was the best arc ever, including any / all of s1 / s2 grouped in any way one would like. The 2 episode arc of 3.14 & 3.15 might be the only time I loved the show more.

    But, looking forward, it seems chuck is in a bind, I think as soon as tonight, we may know chuck’s fate. Here is my real simply prediction grid:

    demo rating:
    1.6M or less – done
    1.7M-1.8M – hope
    1.9M or more – back on track

    My theory is if the show’s rating for 4×13 is indicative of any long term shift in the show viewer’s taste, the show is cooked, over, done, finito.

    Good news, Sarah in her I Dream of Jennie outfit is about as strong a promo as one could hope for, 4×13 should not have lost too many fans & maybe gained us a few, and I think 4×14 is going to be a great episode.

    If not, this week Friday Night Lights is turning off the lights for good, it happens, life goes on, I suggest to everyone to enjoy our time that remains with Chuck as much as possible, be that 11 eps, 2 seasons, or possibly even more.

    Aces to all of you!

    • armySFC says:

      jason, i’m not sure if i agree on this one episode deciding the fate of chuck but its a good lead in. during the last 2, 3 episode arcs the ratings have fallen during the arc each time. the final episode each time had the worst ratings. both times the following episode has done better.

      i am on the other side of the fence. i’m not a big shipper at all. i’m more into the mythology of the show. i can’t over look massive plot holes and poor writing just because the couple grows a bit or hooks up. as i look over the two failed arcs of this season i wonder what was the point of them? the intersect arc made chuck a bumbling fool for three episodes, completely negating what he did in the very first episode. he gets zapped by the psp then gets the intersect back via the laptop. how did that advance the show? it didnt help him in the spy world. then the volkoff arc. why did the CIA want him so bad? all we know for sure was he was an arms dealer. we don’t even know what kind of arms they were. what was volkoff’s ultimate goal? they never said. same with all the holes concerning mary. how they added mogans yogi status to fill a gap. where and when did he do yoga before this episode? he didn’t, they just dumped that in there.

      ill give you an example of what a viewer like me sees. take phase three. to almost everyone on this blog it was a great episode. i have it as one one the worst of the season. shocking i know. sarah is able to do what the CIA and NSA can’t. she finds chuck, but that’s a minor point. take the whole thialand bit. this was terrible writing for me, if i was an english teacher i would have failed my student for plagiarism ( only word i can think of). they took the whole going after a loved one bit from taken or any similar movie. they took the lake scene and the pit fight scene directly from 2 movies, apocalypse now and kick boxer (down to the sand in the eyes). the dream scenes screamed back to the future big time. to me any good FF writer could have been given those scenes and written the episode around it.

      i will say we need to suspend disbelief to some extent but when casey say’s to mogan these people are killers, then shoots the knife out of the kick boxers hand and NONE of the bad guys even raises a weapon or attacks them is to much for me to suspend. it just makes it less believable to me.

      i think the age of instant gratification has hit the arc type plots. people want to see it end here and now, not wait three weeks to see it resolved. the proposal arc is a good example. look at this blog. we all knew it was going to happen just not when. then they pulled the rug out from us in 4.11. people were not overly mad, just frustrated. frustrated people leave. by most accounts 4.13 would not have been as good for most if the engagement never happened ( based on comments made before the episode aired).

      do i have any answers on how to make it better, not really, except for them to look at the ratings for the last couple arcs and see what the ratings say. to me they say it doesn’t work. just a view from the non shipper side of the fence.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I understand you want a pretty different show than I do; I’m closer to Jason in my tastes, that is a ‘shipper who prefers a more episodic format.
        But I don’t think its fair to dismiss the lack of ratings on Chuck’s longer arcs to short attention spans. Heavily serialized story telling has actually never been more popular. People snap up director’s/extended cuts of even the longest movies (I mean seriously, once you’ve watched the extended versions of Lord of the Rings there’s just no going back).
        I think it has more to do with Chuck specifically. I think casual viewers are drawn to the show to laugh and have a good time. What people want/expect from Chuck is different than what they want/expect from Fringe or 24. And expecting one show to be more like another is asking to be disappointed. And you know I say some of that from direct Chuck experience. No matter how much I want the show to be the 21st century’s “Thin Man” it just isn’t. Now I think I’ve been happier than you this season because the show is closer to what I want than it is to what you want.
        I know it’s not really helpful for me to say “change your expectations”. Ernie said that to most of us ‘shippers in S3; and it worked for him, at least he didn’t hate the season as much as I did. But it really never worked for me, and I never did enjoy S3 at all.

      • JC says:

        What are the weakest parts of the show, continuity and consistency. Those are the bedrocks of a serialized show and these writers just can’t tell that sort of story. How many issues from past seasons are still dangling or just swept under the rug. That’s where the fan frustration comes into play, too many questions not enough answers. Or the ones we get don’t make sense.

      • armySFC says:

        dave i disagree. look at the nielsen top 25 rated shows ending on 30 jan. taking out the comedy, specials, and DWTS type shows these are the top dogs. 5) bones 6) house 7) criminal minds 18) castle 19) ncis. these are the 18-49 numbers. all ages numbers 5) ncis criminal minds 7) blue bloods 8) bones 10) house 11) harrys law 13) the mentalist 17) castle 23) CSI: NY. watching those show alot on reruns very few time do they do long arcs or serialized stories. they mostly do one and done episodes. the numbers alone support my theory that serialized shows do not do as well as one and done shows do. for me its hard to compare any TV show to LOTR or any epic move. but the concept is still the same. LOTR, Harry Potter movies do well because of the books and people know them. same with extended movies. thing is the extended movies end the same day you go in.

        the serialized shows may be popular with tptb of said shows but the ratings say otherwise to the viewers.

      • atcDave says:

        Television has always been mostly episodic. Overwhelmingly episodic. The mere existence of serialized television is both niche market and a recent development, at least apart from soap operas it is. The “mini-series” of the 1970s was the direct ancestor of modern serialized stories. Even the most episodic show of today has more ongoing story lines than anything that was on the air from before the 1980s, were the standing joke was the extremes shows would go to and still return to the status quo at the end of the hour. I think there is simply far more demanding television today than ever existed prior to the 1990s.
        Stories have generally gotten longer across all media. “Epic” literature from ancient times (from Gilgamesh to the Aeneid) is far shorter than any modern novel. “La Morte d Arthur” is one of the earliest works that approaches novel length; other renaissance works like “The Decameron” were essentially just short story collections, much like a completely episodic or even anthology series. The modern novel did not become a format until the early 18th century, and the vast majority of books from that era seem very short to modern readers.
        When The Lord of the Rings was first submitted for publication in the 1940s it was considered far too long for a standard novel and was broken into three parts by the publisher. Yet any installment of Harry Potter is longer.

        All I’m getting at is “shorter attention spans” is not a viable argument. People have a pretty large capacity for involved and lengthy stories. The issue is how much sophistication the story actually has. A long standing problem for serial television is the intellectual dishonesty of many long story elements. The audience quickly realizes when stories are being expanded or compressed due to time constraints (renewal or cancellation; actors contracts expiring) and often turn away from such manipulation. It is remarkable in this modern era how successful many longer serialized stories have been. But Chuck HAS NEVER really aspired to that. The show is largely about humor, warm and fuzzy family/friendship/romantic moments, and exciting action sequences. As such, the deep mythology of the show is about fourth in line for writing and planning attention. The fact we find so much to discuss and analyze is a testament to how talented these writers are; but we shouldn’t be too disappointed if they are occasionally found wanting. I don’t believe viewer attention spans play into it at all.

      • JC says:

        Here’s a question Dave, don’t you think the show would be better all around if the mythology and spy stories were better. Look at Fringe it has all those strong characters and interactions but also a well thought mythology that drives the show forward. Why can’t Chuck do that?

      • armySFC says:

        good points dave. but i think you misunderstand me or i’m not clear in what i wrote. be honest dave, most people do have short attention spans. major things happen every week that are forgotten about by the next week. as soon as the next big event happens the previous one is forgotten. ask a few strangers on the street whats happening in egypt right now ill bet you’d be surprised what answers you get.

        i may be older but i see a change from how it used to be. the vcr, internet, DVR prove what i am saying. when i was young and liked 2 shows that were on at the same time i watched one and waited till the summer to watch the reruns. same if a i missed a show i wanted to watch. tell me im wrong in this. when the vcr first came out it was great to be able to record your show you missed and watch it right after. then the dvr and internet allow you to watch the shows live and then again later. it points to my point i made earlier. people don’t want to wait till later when they can find out now. that’s not a short attention span to me. its wanting the instant gratification of seeing what you want.

        while all you points are good, you ignored the facts i put out. the ratings support my theory that shows that do stand alone episodes do better than ones with long arcs. comparing the past with the present is always tough to do. what was popular in the 40’s or 90’s may not work now.

        i fully understand what chuck is, and what it never was. to me that does not matter. from some of your posts i know you are a sports fan. so let me use a sports analogy here. say chuck is a fastball pitcher early in his career. season 3 he gets hurt. he loses something on his pitches and falls from the top so he has to change to a more finesse style and gets back to the top.

        there has been a decline in the ratings of chuck for a while now. that fact can’t be argued. its clear that what ever chuck was or is, is not holding the viewers like it did. the point to all of this is should chuck stay the way it is or was, or should it change in an attempt to hold or gain viewers?

        like it or not ratings decide the fate of the show. for whatever reason there is, the 3 episode arcs don’t work well with the show. the ratings point that out. i like the show, not as much as you but i watch it every week. i want to see it continue on for as long as it can. i just feel that the ratings point out there needs to be a change made. either move it to another slot, or make part of the show stronger. make it so we don’t have big plot holes, things that are left unsaid, quite putting things in that never existed before and episode airs just to fill a need. do away with missions and make it a love fest for all i care, just do something that attracts more viewers and doesn’t cost the show the ones it has.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC, I’ll toss a theory out there, because I think you just highlighted the problem. Why can’t Chuck do it if Fringe can? Because Chuck isn’t Fringe, plain and simple. Chuck has spies in catsuits and videogames with nuclear missile codes. Why can’t Fringe do that?

        I’m seeing this more and more, so I’ll explain what I think has happened. You’ve moved on. If Chuck ever was your favorite show I’m guessing Fringe now has that title, and so you compare what you love or loved to the new standard of best you hold in your heart. The things you love about Fringe you now find lacking in Chuck. You have a new love, plain and simple. It’s not Chuck, it’s you. 😉

        So is that a big deal? Not for most people. You can still enjoy Chuck, you can still discuss Chuck and disect Chuck along with the rest of us, but if you run a Chuck fan-blog or podcast I think it’s important to acknowledge that to yourself and your audience. If it colors the way you see Chuck, and I can’t imagine it doesn’t, it is going to make a difference in what you say about your enjoyment to your audience. That is why I keep pounding on this are you judging Chuck as the same Chuck that has always had paper thin plots, schetchy serialization, numerous dropped plotlines and occasional jaw dropping breaks in characterization, or are you judging it as that show that no longer seems quite as good as you remember, ’cause hey, it’s no Fringe?

        I’m not saying this to abuse or be mean to anyone anywhere in the Chuck fandom, I seriously just want to point this out to be helpful to some fans and our readers who may not even realize that this is a possibility. I’m not saying your opinions lose legitimacy or are somehow poisoned, I’m just saying that if you don’t enjoy Chuck the way you did in season 2, maybe it isn’t just about the way Chuck has changed, which it has, but maybe it is also about your changing tastes and seeing something new you want more of.

      • atcDave says:

        JC I do agree it would be well received if continuity and attention to detail were better. I think everyone would enjoy it. I’m only saying I get why its sloppy sometimes (it just isn’t as high a priority to the writers as certain other elements). Didn’t we hear a few weeks ago someone was specifically being tasked now with continuity? I hope so, the show needs it.

        Sorry if I went off on a tangent Army. Yeah I do agree about expecting instant delivery; I notice for myself how dependent I am on a dual event timer and iTunes or pay-per-view to keep up to date even when I miss an air date.
        But I don’t agree about the difficulties of serialized stories. Lost was hugely successful, I think its ratings only started to slip when viewers became more cynical about ever having stories wrap up and got tired of more questions than answers many years in. The fact many Lost imitators failed only proves that most TV shows don’t run very long, and long term success is a rare commodity.
        I think Chuck’s problem with longer story arcs are specific to Chuck and it’s audience. This particular audience is mainly looking to laugh and have a good time, not ponder the mythology. I have many friends who love Chuck, and we often talk about the latest fun or craziness from the latest episode; but we don’t talk at nearly the length we used to about Star Trek or Babylon 5. Our discussions (and I think the show) are more like SG-1. Its a great time and so much fun, but its strength is in characters not story (and mythology).

      • jason says:

        one specific issue with chuck, Chuck does not have many characters to spread the misery (I mean drama) around to. Fringe even created an alternate universe to double the WT/wt possibilities even with the main characters – pretty funny. When Fringe needs drama, the B plot is Massive Dynamics, with Chuck it is Buymore. The main comic relief character in Fringe, pretty much caused the crisis which is going to result in the end of the world, before Mr Spock, Lenord Nimoy, et er Bill Gates, I mean William Bell removed the mean part of Walter’s brain. Two very different shows, one is goofy, quirky, warm and sweet, the other, well, it isn’t, but the other is compelling, riveting, and challenging to keep up with. I like Fringe, I love Chuck and Sarah, the rest of the show Chuck, well, its ok, in a Gilligan’s Island sort of way, and joe, Mary Anne over Ginger!

      • JC says:

        Fair points Ernie and I admit right now Fringe is the more enjoyable show for me.

        But I’m not asking for Chuck to be Fringe, what I’m asking is why can a show like Fringe have great characters and interactions plus a strong mythology and serialization while Chuck can’t. Are the writers not talented enough or is it they don’t care?

        We’re four seasons into the show and they’re making the same mistakes and short cuts as when it premiered. Now you can argue that Chuck is what it is but shouldn’t the TPTB strive for more or the fans want more out of it. Maybe the reason is fans don’t complain enough the writing, serialization and continuity. Accepting the same crap over and over doesn’t make it any better. Is this the best Chuck can be as a show? If you think that than fine but I think it could be so much more.

      • joe says:

        Impressive discussion, all.

        I’d only like to add Chaucer to Dave’s list. Clearly, it too is a collection of short stories.

        I haven’t seen Fringe myself. It seems to be a favorite of a lot of Chuck fans who’ve decided they’re looking for something else, of late.

      • joe says:

        @Jason “…and joe, Mary Anne over Ginger!”

        Well, sure! But in the final round, JEANNIE!

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Surprise, I agree with Ernie here. Chuck shouldn’t and can’t be judge under anyone else’s litmus test but its own. To do so is doing disservice not just to its own strengths but also magnifies its weakness. It’s like saying, why couldn’t Friends be as funny as I Love Lucy? It’s just not fair. And while asking for more from Chuck is admirable it’s also not fair. The premise is different, so are the backgrounds of the writers and the manner at which they approach things. It doesn’t make them less talented or less skilled it just is. You don’t ask Stephen King to be the Kafka because he can’t. My 2 cents.

      • thinkling says:

        Well said, Ernie. Chuck is not Fringe.

        I haven’t seen Fringe, but from the promos, I don’t want to. Maybe someday I will, but there’s no draw there.

        I love Chuck. I find the Fringe promos completely unappealing, so why would I want Chuck to be like Fringe? See, to me that would make Chuck … not Chuck. It’s fine to have both shows coexist and be different from each other. It’s fine for people to like one or the other or both. It’s not fine to wish they were the same.

      • atcDave says:

        ditto all Thinkling.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        I understand that this is why people think we pile on or share one brain (ok the last one was a joke)…we certainly don’t mean to gang up, it’s just that we honest to goodness feel the way we do. Well I do.

        Pushing Daisies remains my #1 absolutely favorite show, I probably always will consider that show the only show on television (if you forced me to), but I know I can’t judge Chuck by its standards (picturesque specifically) and I’m beyond happy that I was able to find Chuck, which I enjoy and that which have wrought a vocal and active and love in me. That’s right, I love Chuck. And I’m not afraid to admit it ;).

      • JC says:

        Again its not about turning Chuck into something its not. I’m happy that its a comic book version of the spy world. All I’m getting at is they could take a cue from Fringe on how to balance compelling characters with a strong serialized mythology and consistency. I don’t see how this would change the show into anything but a better version of what we had.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        We’re four seasons into the show and they’re making the same mistakes and short cuts as when it premiered.

        See to me that means they aren’t bugs, they’re features. 😉 My point being that if these things have been there all along and we all overlooked them it is a bit disingenuous to suddenly find them unacceptable without acknowledging the possibility that on the terms we bought into Chuck as fans, it’s still delivering what it always has.

        Now you can argue that Chuck is what it is but shouldn’t the TPTB strive for more or the fans want more out of it. Maybe the reason is fans don’t complain enough the writing, serialization and continuity.

        Well at what cost? TPTB decided to make season 3 more dramatic and what did it cost them? There is a limited budget and resources and time, and I don’t know that Fringe operates under the same constraints Chuck does. We know Chuck took huge cuts to stay on the air and has had to scramble to keep up the revenue through product placement. So we need 30 second Subway commercials embedded into episodes. So do they get cut for the sake of adding some serial elements? Do you hire a story editor just to watch the continuity, or does some member of the already stretched thin writing staff take that job on in addition to their own, and are they compensated for it? Where does that bit of budget come from?

        I understand your point about the right to complain, and trust me, we complain. And it is clear that TPTB listen and sometimes, if they feel they can, respond. I am perfectly happy to point out stupid stick moments and poorly explained characters or actions, but I draw a line at a certain point, and most people on this blog know where it is. I consider stupid, lazy, sloppy, careless and a few other terms that are tossed around freely to be out of line ad hominems when directed at Chuck cast, creative, crew or production, because those are people doing the writing, the editing, the directing and the acting. When we routinely get tweets from the cast and crew at the end of an 18 hour day of shooting, and LeJudkins have said, if it’s your episode as as writer, you stay close, I don’t think criticizing the production team or any part of it as lazy is likely to get you a sympathetic ear from team Chuck.

        Now as to the piling on from team ChuckThis, maybe we do, but not on purpose. Hear me out. I think we are all proud of this blog and its place in the Chuck-verse. We pride ourselves on having an open and unmoderated forum that still maintains a level of civility I’ve never seen anywhere else on the net. We also try to respect all viewpoints and ensure they all get fair hearing. Speaking for myself, if I think the board is getting too negative and the lurkers are maybe getting a bad vibe or the happy posters are being drowned out, I’ll make their case for them. Negativity tends to feed on itself. So yes, I feel an obligation to sometimes try to keep it in check. This shouldn’t, but does also apply to the wider Chuck-verse for me. This has been my MO from the start. I’ll criticize politely if I feel it is warranted, but if I think the criticism is unwarranted or excessive, I’ll criticize the critics, hopefully politely, but I am human and have a temper. Ask the executive dining staff at ChuckThis headquarters. Poor Serge nearly had a nervous breakdown when my gruel was delivered at 96 as opposed to 101 degrees.

        So I hope that clarifies a few things without undue offense. Me, I gotta go get a footlong sub and get ready for my favorite show.

      • JC says:

        @Ernie

        I’m not saying that those things haven’t been there since the beginning and I’ve always found them annoying. Why not improve on them then? That’s my question. But here’s the thing after four seasons all those inconsistencies start piling up and that’s why you hear more complaints about it.

        And where does having a strong serialization, continuity equate to their attempt at dark and dramatic in S3. If anything S3 was the worst offender in those regards and caused a lot of the train wreck of S3. All I want is them is to tighten up the character histories, characterizations and the mythology of the Intersect. I can deal with the the plot holes and absurd spy stories thats part of the show’s charm. I know the show is strapped for cash but you know what they had enough money to bring back Klemmer. Do they really need another writer?

        I don’t think anyone here is piling up on me. I know the majority of people watch the show differently than I do and are quite happy if an episode ends with C/S in a happy place. That’s fine but I do take issue when people call it nitpicking.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Mostly, yeah, what Dave said. I also want to add another point. They’re making this up as they go along. Literally. TPTB themselves freely admit they are working from a general outline and scripting as they go. As Dave says, the seams eventually wear a bit thin. No show, especially one with Chuck’s budget and perennial bubble status, can be perfect on all fronts, so some things have to be compromised for the sake of others. If there isn’t time or budget to re-shoot a scene like in Suitcase where Chuck opens Sofia’s purse twice in a row because nobody caught it till editing and the set is no longer available, you go with the best shot you have and live with it. If fitting the episodes the fans are craving requires a crowbar to loosen some of the plot constraints you’re working with, you make a decision where you can take the hits. My advice has always been that if you want to know what to take seriously, look at what they do, and that’s the human aspects of the show and the over the top fun. Just about every other aspect of the show will be allowed to suffer to make those things happen.

      It’s no use looking for tightly written deeply mythology laden spy plots when you have smoke machine entrances and spies in leather catsuits. They are telling you off the bat this is a fantasy version of that world. If you simply want to say they could or should do better, well look at season 3. They tried to make the spy world a bit darker and have us take it more seriously, and the warmth, the humanity, the fun and the characters all suffered for it. Some like OD thought it the best season of Chuck ever. More just tuned out. TPTB made a decision based on that. Take the show back to what it was and does best.

      • weaselone says:

        I personally consider the show to be in large part a fun bit of escapism packed with action, fun, humor, and shared moments between characters that a viewer can actually care about without feeling bad for doing so. The main problem with season 4 to date has been the simple fact that there wasn’t much of a reason to care about Mary.

        I’m fairly quick to forgive the writers for thin plots and rather shallow mythology if it aides in the development of likable characters and the bolstering of the show’s other strengths. I do have problems when they mess with the characters simply to push the plot forward as they did in season 3. Fortunately, the mistakes made this season are far less than those seen last season. I can overlook Morgan’s exceptional utility, Awesome’s bouts of not being awesome and Chuck’s passiveness much of the season given how enjoyable many of the episodes were to watch.

      • atcDave says:

        Good comments Weaselone. I agree with all, but I would add they made Mary a little more likable by the end of Push Mix. And I look forward to seeing how she develops in the next eleven.

      • jason says:

        dave & weaselone – is it possible one of the main reasons sarah went undercover to volkov was to make us sympathetic toward mary, having mary telling sarah we need to get you out, having mary hold her hand in the jet & give her motherly advice, showing how easily sarah could have crossed that line by accidentally killing casey, etc, etc, if so, yet another example, how taking either chuck or sarah dark as a means to an end, just does not seem to fly in this show

      • atcDave says:

        I do think the sacrificed some of Sarah’s growth to develop Mary. But Sarah had been fully restored (to me) so it was a minor issue.

        I don’t really like when they do that to either Chuck or Sarah (I think Sarah suffers for it more than Chuck ever has); but the approach has been used sparingly this season, and for now I’m not worried about it.

  7. Gringo Chuck Fan says:

    Well – based on some of the recent discussion regarding timing and plot arcs within the story telling – I thought more folks would be picking up rocks again – [with TPTB as the target]… so I’m happy to see that most of us are indeed really happy with what’s transpired in S4 : )

    I’d like to jump back to a previous post… that the first 13 eps. were essentially just to move the pieces into place… and now we we can get on with the rest of the story!
    Sarah has accepted a ring from Chuck – Mama B is back – Ellie and Awesome are parents – Morgan has a deepening relationship with Casey – and Alex too….
    [And for some reason – the whole Buy More thing has not really gone anywhere yet.]
    All great things…. Its been amazing to see how far the story has gone in S4 so far…. and I’m excited to see how we move forward from here!
    Moving forward: How long can you keep a guy like Volkoff locked up?
    How much do we really know about Mary Bartowski?
    [I have a feeling, that even though Mary is back and Volkoff is in prison – they are going to keep us on the fence… is she good or bad. If you read through the Project Isis files – seems that her past is more suspicious – … err complicated…]
    What do Chuck and Sarah need for a wedding?
    Does Sarah need any ‘family’ for a wedding? Her Dad? her mom? her sister? – any old friends? I think that Chuck might think these things are important …. and Sarah probably NOT.
    Alex + Morgan + Casey…. sooner or later Alex’s Mom needs to enter the Mix.
    Love the ongoing themes of Family!
    Apparently Volkoff may have a daughter too…. Love it!

    • iNewbie says:

      Yes, bring back Sarah’s father! xD And I wouldn’t mind finding out something more about her mum… I’m not asking for an arc as long as the MEB one has been, but some Cougar/Delorian-ish ep would be great.

  8. iNewbie says:

    Great overlook guys (and girl. I need to come up with something non gender-specific… ;D )! Didn’t think anyone could make me get any more impatient to see the next 11 eps, but you made it. Season 2 is still my favorite, but I have to agree, season 4 is genius!

    @Dave Like how you compared TD e Chevy Chase’s characters, I never realized how similar they are… Volkoff’s a much better villain, though, because he can be REALLY scary. Chevy Chase cracked me up, but he wasn’t intimidating at all.

    • thinkling says:

      That’s why southerners say “y’all.” But, I know, it’s a bit too … southern

    • joe says:

      How about “CT’ers”? 😉

      I’ve been looking for an excuse to bring up Roark. He was as exceptional villain, especially when paired with the indestructible Vincent. When I compare Volkoff to him, I can’t decide which I like better.

      But Roark is gone. I like the way his demise came about – a victim of the forces he himself unleashed. I like it that he was Stephen’s evil doppelganger, like The Goblin to Spiderman. Chuck has one of those, and it ain’t Volkoff.

      Volkoff is insane evil, and I have a harder time thinking that Stephen had a personal grudge against him (even though he should have). I know that Stephen’s mistake was in trying to bring Volkoff down alone, but I still believe that both he and Mary were communicating as they could to do it together. It seems much less personal, somehow.

      Of course, that totally disregards Mary’s POV. For her, it WAS personal, and a personal sacrifice.

      • thinkling says:

        After all we’ve seen by now, Joe, I’ve come to think they were not communicating. Mary seemed genuinely floored and stumped that Volkoff thought she had been communicating with her husband.

      • joe says:

        Yeah. I caught that too. But Volkoff said “…all these years.” So I was hoping (thinking wishfully?) that Mary’s reaction was because it’s been a long time now since Stephen died. A year, maybe (Paging botched time-line discussion! Paging botched time-line discussion in Chat Room #3!!!)

        I can buy that and still think that they had been in communication earlier. I also want to think that Chuck planted some later messages with a time stamp meant to provoke Volkoff’s reaction.

        Heh! That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! 😉

      • Gringo Chuck Fan says:

        I was also thinking more about Mary Bartowski….
        and a reason why they blew up la casa de familia….
        In destroying Orion’s intel – might it also have been a way to cover her tracks? [ sorry, can’t get over the Isis Project info]
        “Your father never wanted you to see this”…. maybe translated – there’s stuff here that your father never wanted you to know [?] uncover, find out… [rude awakening…]
        – Right now we are hung up on only what we know…
        that it was a moment for MEB to unflash Chuck…
        But might that whole event have been something more?
        [ Yep, sadly I’m tilting at windmills here aren’t I?]

      • joe says:

        You’re only thinking as wishfully as I am, Gringo.

        Is that a new verb? “Thinking wishfully.”

      • armySFC says:

        joe, here’s a thought relating to volkoff and orion. volkoff new mary was married, but he didn’t know she had kids. he knew of orion. he says “all these years and its been ages to chuck.” his goon says orion was killed by the ring. maybe he didnt know orion was stephen till the screen flashed “i want my wife back.” thats when he put it together? just a guess since they will never explain it.

      • joe says:

        Hey, that’s not bad, Army.

        I’d have to check back to see how Volkoff put the clues together. He saw Chuck face and name on the “Employee of the month” poster, but it was Frost who told him Chuck was her son in Leftovers. In Aisle he tells us that Orion was pursuing Frost (am I right in that?), so I assume he thought they were lovers at one point.

        You may be absolutely right that he didn’t connect Orion and Stephen until very late.

      • iNewbie says:

        @Army – I’m not sure, but didn’t Volkoff mention Orion being Mary’s husband at the end of First Fight?

      • patty says:

        I think he found out Stephen’s name when he found out Chuck’s. He always refered to him as Orion before that. He did know Orion was Mary’s husband, they said so in First Fight.

    • atcDave says:

      How about “Joe’s stable of.. ” oh never mind.

      I did find Chevy Chase scary, his casual/off-handed manner of evil was perfect for Chuck; but Dalton is brilliant.

  9. weaselone says:

    There once was a show on NBC
    on which only one thing fans could agree.
    Whether beyond epic
    or doomed to the septic,
    at least it’s not season three!

    I’ve noticed there is a lot of overlap in the fandom regarding the popularity of various episodes. So what makes an outstanding episode of Chuck and what would Seduction Impossible need in order to join the ranks of the awesome elite episodes?

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      Nice!!!

      I’d say it has to have the fun and the romanticism of Seduction. Another “Thailand” wouldn’t hurt.

      For Carina less poking fun and more needling reveals.

    • jason says:

      -a top 5 CS hotness scene
      -no cringeworthy C or S seduction scene with a non – Cs mark
      -happy ending
      -the engagment reveal done in a very heartwarming manner, esp to ellie
      -at least two great Roan lines, memorable ones, like charles, have you ever had intercourse, or Bravo, I think you two have done that before
      -at least once where Roan is exasperated at the bickering, which he sees right thru
      -a Roan / Diane moment, which probably will break some Duck hearts

      probably more, that that would get me off on the right foot

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Instant classic Weaselone.

      As far as what Seduction II needs, well we know it has what appears to be a Sarah seduction (her reverse Montgomery is my guess), so I’d just say if that goes well, i.e. no interuption from Morgan or others and the kids get to have some fun with it, it’s more than halfway there. In short, Bryce shouldn’t answer the door.

    • weaselone says:

      I would have to agree with must of the things listed.

      1. I’d like to see some heartwarming family scenes around the engagement and baby Awesome.
      2. See Awesome regain his awesomeness by dialing a bit back on the over the top anxiety.
      3. Some fun in the spy plot. Maybe a bit of Sarah staking claim to her territory.
      4. Good lines out of Roan.
      5. Morgan being Morgan as opposed to the man with the plan.
      6. A hot CS moment.
      7. An amusing B story whether it be Buymore, or the home front.
      8. A nice action scene.
      9. Funny moments as Casey shares bartender duty with Morgan.
      10. Some back-story on what Roan has been up to.

    • weaselone says:

      oops. you’re correct. scratch the Morgan and Casey behind the bar and replace it with humorous team B moments and Casey quips.

      Morgan should still be Morgan if he’s in the episode at any point.

  10. ChuckNewbie8 says:

    This is a tough one for me personally. I’ve recently rewatched Colonel for the immeasurable time and I have to say I may be shortchanging greatness :D.

    I’ve pretty much settled on this mentality: individually season 2 trumps season 4.

    First date > anniversary
    Seduction < suitcase
    Break Up > cubic z
    Cougars > coup d’état
    Tom Sawyer < couch lock
    Ex > aisle of terror
    Fat Lady = first fight
    Gravitron > fear of death
    Sensei < phase three
    Delorean > leftovers
    Santa Claus = Balcony
    3D > Gobbler
    Suburbs < Push Mix

    That's 7×4 and 2 ties. Edge to season 2.

    If you consider:
    First Kill < Balcony
    Colonel > Gobbler
    Ring < Push Mix

    That's 6×5. One tie. Edge still on season 2 but barely.

    And yet the continuity, the pace, the mythology of these 13, season 4
    episodes rival only the last 6 of season 2. What is (has been?)
    collectively the best Chuck there ever was. With Colonel as the
    figurehead of ep*c-ness.

    BTW to me Colonel > Phase Three :D.

    • joe says:

      Ooohhhh! It’s been so long since I’ve seen ChuckNewbie8 I have to do a name-reveal, Faith!

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        “I am if it says I am.”

        I love that line. LOL. But yeah it’s me. Also me for those that follow me on twitter, it’s still me. Just my Sarah Walker-esque many aliases. Total coincidence ;).

      • thinkling says:

        I love that line, too. 😀

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting comparisons. I strongly disagree on a couple; I’d rank Tom Sawyer far better than Couch Lock, Aisle of Terror much better than The Ex (as in, one of my favorite episodes versus one of my least favorite), and First Fight as better than Gravitron.

      I guess that means I give the edge to S4.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        I wasn’t really a fan of Tom Sawyer Dave. In fact I considered it one of the weakest of S2 (don’t hurt me lol). But I do love me some jealous Sarah Walker (FTW) lol. Either way it’s tough.

        I keep on going back and forth on Suburbs vs. Push Mix. It’s ironic really because in one they lived a future only to find themselves dissatisfied that it’s fake and probably always will be, in another it’s a step towards a real future complete with promise. How can you not love a show with a contrast and growth like that? 😀

      • atcDave says:

        I know you weren’t a Tom Sawyer fan; differences are funny sometimes, we’ve got folks here claiming to not even care for Phase 3, which frankly blows my mind.

        I do agree the growth and contrast is often amazing and fun. But I will always rank upbeat ending over downbeat ones. So I will always consider Suburbs a down episode with a few good moments; Push Mix rates as an awesome episode with just a couple fumbles.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Agreed, fun endings definitely trump sad endings.

        Ok then…if it was a question of Best Friend (which technically was supposed to air before Suburbs so I should really have used it instead of Suburbs as a comparison) vs. Push Mix which wins?

        Africa vs. Push it
        Hand hold vs. proposal
        Braun vs. Brain
        Friendship vs. Family.

        Wow tough one!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Faith now its getting tough. Best Friend is one of my all time favorites. Its also a stand alone as opposed to the end of an arc. For now I’ll say splunge.

      • joe says:

        Faith: “But I do love me some jealous Sarah Walker (FTW) lol. Either way it’s tough.”

        Jealous Sarah has been great. But you know, I’d be more happy to see her put away. I mean, Sarah has no *reason* to be jealous now, right?

        Well, okay, I could see the potential in her finding Chuck in a “compromised” position, and of course, “appearances are deceiving.” We could be led to think for about 1.5 seconds that the same girl who complained about Chuck having someone else’s perfume slathered all over him (Mask) was about to make an entrance.

        But Sarah’s grown too. Right? I hope! She wouldn’t jump to conclusions.

        Would she???

  11. Merve says:

    This has been by far my least favourite season. I honestly can’t think of a single thing that I like better about this season as compared to previous ones. It’s not as if the show has been offensively bad or unwatchable (“Balcony” aside, of course). It just hasn’t been very good.

    For me, the problems start at how they chose to tell this story. A story about Mama B should have been Chuck and Ellie’s story. Instead, it was told through the lens of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. So, Ellie remained in the dark (and is STILL in the dark), and her pregnancy and motherhood issues were largely ignored for a lot of the season. Sarah doesn’t naturally fit into the Mama B story, so to make her relevant, Chuck was given some vaguely Oedipal issues, and the show often concentrated on relationship troubles while leaving the Mama B arc in the background. Hence the cheesy, How-I-Met-Your-Mother-esque rom-com that Chuck turned into from “Suitcase” to “Coup d’Etat.” And it also gave us Sarah running off to take down Volkoff Industries from inside, which yet again, made Chuck irrelevant on his own show.

    Which brings me to the second major problem with S4. The show is called Chuck, not Sarah & Mary (featuring the comedy stylings of John, Morgan, and Alexei). Unfortunately, Chuck spent most of this season getting tossed around by the plot instead of driving it, while Sarah, Mary, and Volkoff moved the pieces around the board. For instance, the search for Mary, which was introduced in “Anniversary” as the thrust of this arc, ended with Mary finding Chuck. To look at this another way, let’s see who “saved the day” in each episode, so to speak:
    Anniversary – Chuck
    Suitcase – Sarah
    Cubic Z – Big Mike (LOL!)
    Coup d’Etat – Chuck and Sarah, but mainly Sarah. Also, it was the world’s silliest negotiation, so it doesn’t count.
    Couch Lock – Morgan
    Aisle of Terror – Sarah
    First Fight – no one really, but technically Mary, I guess
    Fear of Death – no one
    Phase Three – Sarah
    Leftovers – Mary
    Balcony – Chuck and Sarah, but the mission was so much of an afterthought that I’m not sure it counts.
    Gobbler – no one
    Push Mix – Chuck
    I think the pattern (or lack thereof) is pretty clear. Moreover, Chuck has been portrayed as excessively whiny, neurotic, and needy this season. It was really annoying, and it made him a very unlikable character. But of course, TPTB haven’t entirely forgotten that the show is called Chuck, so he got most of the screen time. However, that meant that most of the screen time was devoted to Chuck floundering about and being useless. It wasn’t fun to watch.

    My third major problem is where I differ greatly from the popular opinion. I don’t think that Volkoff Industries made a good foe, and moreover, I don’t think that Alexei Volkoff made a good villain. Volkoff Industries never seemed like a threat. I have no clue what their agenda was, other than dealing in weapons of dubious legality. As for the man himself, he was supposed to be the “face” of the organization, and when a villain is more important than the organization itself, I have to understand the villain’s personal motivations. Volkoff was driven by his infatuation with Frost, no doubt, but why does that make him want to continue running his evil empire? I also don’t like the way that Timothy Dalton portrayed the character. He overacted, and he mumbled a number of lines unintelligibly. (I lost track of the number of times I had to pause and rewind during his scenes so I could make out what the hell he was saying.) He turned Volkoff into a cartoon, which is a poor fit for a show where the characters seem more like real people (Jeff and Lester aside, of course). (For those of you who watch Parks and Recreation, he reminded me a lot of Rob Lowe’s character, and he suffered from the same problems.) In the end, Volkoff ended up annoying me more than entertaining me.

    Overall, this season has been disappointing. I very much enjoyed “Couch Lock”, “Aisle of Terror”, “Phase Three”, and “Gobbler”. The rest of the season I could take or leave. (And if someone could burn the script for the cloying pile of tripe that was “Balcony,” that would be lovely.)

    Don’t mind me. I’m just getting some cranky ranting off my chest, that’s all. I didn’t hate this season (“Balcony” aside, of course). I just found it underwhelming. During the front 13, I got the sense that the show wanted to be less serialized than it was being forced to be, which is why the season proceeded by stops and starts. Now, with the Volkoff arc out of the way, there’s a lot more breathing room, so the show can do some fun standalones, or see small story arcs (similar to the Intersect suppression arc) through to their logical conclusions.

    • JC says:

      They really did need to establish Volkoff’s threat beyond the Bartowski family, its something the show has been lacking since Fulcrum. And like you said what was his goal? I had hoped it would have tied into the mythology with Orion, Mary and the Intersect but I think Push Mix put that idea to rest.

    • Kisku says:

      Rant more, i loved Balcony…and i would love to see more episodes like that…and i hope every one of those will piss you off.

      • atcDave says:

        C’mon, let’s be nice. Merve is allowed to not be happy with the show. We may disagree on almost every major point (I even wish the show was called “Chuck and Sarah”) but everyone is welcome to post a well reasoned opinion here. He is in a very small minority on this site and yet he still comments; bonus points for courage!

      • armySFC says:

        dave i agree! i am also in the minority here but still post reasonable things and they are accepted so thanks.

        kisku, be careful what you wish for. after reading many critical reviews (online papers and web sites) as well as forums and blogs balcony was badly received by most. in fact it got a good deal of criticism on this blog as well. thats not i trend i want to see continue for the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I’d noticed you’re a little unhappy! That’s okay, it forces the rest of us to think through what we like (or don’t).

    • joe says:

      I respect the opinion, Merve. But I must say that I didn’t have the same specific reactions (Duh!) to the points on your list.

      Oedipus complex? Gee! I thought they avoided that pretty well.

      I’ve tended to think that Chuck *can’t* save the day in most episodes. Certainly, if the Intersect becomes the solution to all problems, we have a massive failure on our hands story-wise. That wasn’t going to happen, of course.

      But the fun often comes from seeing who comes through for the team this week. When Ellie saves the say (like in SubwayRing pt. 2) it’s special. When Jeff & Lester do it (Couch Lock) it’s more than unexpected. When General “Helloooooo, Diane!” Beckman comes in like the calvary, I pump my fist.

      Chuck *is* by nature whiney, neurotic, and needy – just like me! It’s sort of why I identify, you know? Actually, what I’m saying is that the idea of him/me growing into the active, responsible agent-of-his-own-destiny (while *still* getting the girl) is an attractive one. He could be portrayed as James Bond more, but then, I won’t identify as much.

      It works for me just so long as I see growth and improvement.

      Hum! I have the same problem understanding Morgan lately as you mentioned you’ve had with Volkoff. He MUMBLES! A lot. Yeah, Volkoff is a unique character – a villain that children love! I’ll agree that he’s got weak motivation (for sure!), but Dalton made him come alive anyway, easily enough that most of us had the appropriate reaction to him every time he came onscreen. I’ll call it a tribute to his acting abilities.

      • atcDave says:

        Great comments Joe, I agree with all of it. I like somewhat neurotic nerdy Chuck; I relate to him. I’m really pleased with the growth he has shown (yeah sometimes I wish we saw more), but if he becomes too much “the man” I won’t relate anymore.

    • patty says:

      Volcoff is a criminal. His goal is to make money. He sold nukes to Costa Gravas for crying out loud!!! He also had enough orders for the EMP’s to warrent a factory. He is also an amoral psychopath, just to make things more fun.

      Since everyone will go bonkers if they bring you-know-who back it is good they made another baddie who can understand Chuck well enough to be a serious threat to him.

      • patty says:

        oops. that was supposed to go up higher, under the why is volcoff bad post!!

      • thinkling says:

        International Arms Dealer automatically lends a truck load of villain cred to his character. Selling nukes to anyone who wants and can pay is certainly enough of a threat to world stability to demand our attention.

        So, yeah, I agree, Patty. And don’t forget that the EMP’s made Beckman have kittens. Add to that his unhinged madman persona, his hatred of Orion, and history with Chuck’s mom, well I think he is a brilliantly evil bad guy.

      • armySFC says:

        agree patty. but they never said he sold nukes, just that they were there from before. maybe the russian’s were there in the past and put them there. they were aimed at the states. remember he did have company not just arms dealer or emp devices. which also begs the question, why did they wait so long? if the emps were that scary, you would think they take action sooner than later.

      • patty says:

        Chuck asked the Generalissimo if he purchased the system from Volkoff and he said yeah it was part of Project Beacon. Honestly, I just checked,

        Up until Marco set off the EMP Casey, at least, thought it was a fake. It also took Chuck’s flash to id where they were being made. This was apparently one of the reasons Beckman was so keen to draft Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        I went back to double check, and the Generalissimo does say, specifically, that he purchased the nukes from Volkoff as part of his underground weapons pipeline, Project Beacon.

      • armySFC says:

        thanks for clearing that up! again that leads to the question i asked earlier, why did they need to wait months to go after him (story time). another missed opportunity by the writers.

      • thinkling says:

        I may not be getting the timeline you have in mind, Army, but it seems to me TeamB was invested in going after Volkoff from Anniversary on. In Suitcase, they captured one of his distributors. Cubic Z was sort of contained, but they got one of his men and some info. They went after Volkoff by continuing to search for MamaB. If they could find her, they would find him.

        Ok, so after Coup, they went after Casey’s old team, some of Volkoff’s men. They had the Generalissimo’s file’s, so they were going through those. Then MamaB came to them, with Volkoff. They blew up Orion’s base and disappeared. Sarah went looking for them for a month and came up empty. Then came the order to kill Charles Carmichael. Mary and Volkoff returned. This time when they left there was a détente of sorts, making continued efforts to search for him impossible. Any attempt at that point put Chuck’s entire family at risk.

        Finally Sarah realized that something had to be done. The truce wouldn’t last forever, and the Bartowski family would never be safe until Volkoff was defeated.

        I don’t know if that answers your question or covers the time gap you’re thinking of.

      • armySFC says:

        thinkling thanks. but i was thinking of doing it with more force not the trickle affect you mention.

  12. bundy says:

    I really enjoy coming to Chuckthis.I like reading all the posts and comments that follow.There is always much fun in these little discussions on here.Sometimes though,I ask myself why do some of you watch this show.Every post,no matter what the topic is there are always the same people who complain.They didn’t do this,they didn’t do that.It’s not fun anymore.The writers dont know what their doing.I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respect that.But if you are not happy with the show then dont watch it.Problem solved!!!Chuck survived before you and will without you.Sorry if I sound @**,it just gets kinda annoying seeing these same people week after week after week put down a show they claim to like.They weren’t happy in s3,Chuck&Sarah weren’t together,Shaw sucked,it was to dark.This season Chuck&Sarah are togehter,Shaw is gone,and it’s been anything but dark.Yet they still find something else to b***ch about.Is Chuck perfect?no.Will it ever be?no.Is it fun to watch?98% of the time YES.Again,I’m sorry if I sound like a a**,but I just had to say it is getting kind of old.

    • joe says:

      I understand the frustration, Bundy. But really, most everyone who takes the time to comment really *does* like the show, or at least some elements. Many times they saw something in the past that was special to them and they they want that (and those feelings) to return.

      My goal in encouraging (or at least, not discouraging) the expression is to get across two things – that the show is *still* capable of engendering those feelings if you let it and that there may be new, better experiences to be had too.

      My own personal opinion is that they have a far better chance of finding those things on Chuck than on any other show on television.

      Of course, that’s not guaranteed either. If people become more self-aware about why they feel what they feel by talking it out, that’s all to the good.

      • bundy says:

        @Joe I have to disagree about everybody who post here likes the show.Seeing some of the comments,even from this post makes wonder.Thats why I wrote my comment.As for you,you’re just a big optimist and romantic and I like that about you.You always find the good in the bad and I wish others were like you.

    • atcDave says:

      A lot of what we do here is about criticism; in the analysis sense of the word, not the complaining sense.

      But sometimes that means we devote more attention to the negatives than they actually deserve. There’s simply more to talk about with something that we think needs fixing (why didn’t we like it, how it could have been fixed, what the fallout would have been had things been done differently) than something we loved (gee, that was COOL!).
      I suppose it is true that some of us who fell in love with the show have come not to like it much later. I know I was profoundly unhappy with S3, but I stuck it out because I BELIEVED it would get better. I imagine most with serious complaints are in the same boat. They believe it can or will change so they stick it out.
      Other times you may be misreading their intent, and even though they no longer love the show they still like it enough to watch.
      People may also continue posting here because they’ve come to be a part of the community.

      • bundy says:

        I understand what you are saying.I too sat through s3 and new it had to get better.I also understand that people talk about whay they dont like and what could have been done differently.Thats what I like about coming here.What I dont understand is how can someone say they like a show and then sit there a rip it apart.They say they love Chuck,but they rip every episode to peices.When they finish the only thing they actually like is the opening credits.Season 3 turned alot of people off,I understand that.This season is the complete opposite of s3 and there still not happy.I get that they may have complaints,we all do.Some have different tastes than others.I just dont get why no matter what the discussion is about,they put it down.I dont know maybe it’s just me.I’ve been a fan since day one(thanks to YS).I’ve enjoyed the show every season,except the first 12 1/2 eps. of s3.I guess some people are never happy and thats too bad.S4 has been a fun ride so far and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

      • atcDave says:

        I like your “every episode except….” Bundy. I agree, but its funny to put it that way.

    • armySFC says:

      bundy i understand where you are coming from. it goes both ways doesn’t it? fans that accept blindly what the show gives them without any bad points or any bad episodes? no matter how good a show is or how long it’s been on there is bound to be one bad episode. there are some of those as well. i am one of those that will disagree with people on this blog. i also agree with a lot they have to say. i do like the show, but to me its not even close to the best show on TV. there is nothing wrong with watching chuck either way, look for the parts you enjoy and ignore the rest.

      the reason i bring up what i consider bad points is because i do care about the show even if it’s not my favorite. this a very show friendly blog, where the main focus is the character development and the relationships on the show. i have been told even today the the spy mythology is 4th on the list. the main core of people on this blog are extremely happy with the show now because they have gotten most of what they were looking for. while that may be true here i would bet there are places that the situations are reversed. there are probably as many or if not more folks that aren’t as happy with the show. but instead of posting here or somewhere else they just don’t tune back in.

      the one thing we can all agree on is that the ratings are in flux and not in a good way. making suggestions on what may help the show is just good conversation. in order to do this you need to point out what you believe the bad points are.

      • jason says:

        army – I am positive one can make up near any theory about ratings vs show quality, mine ‘made up’ theory is the show loses fans each time it ends with a sad ending, 4×8’s sadness led to 4×9’s failure, but 4×10 recovered. 4×12’s sadness led to 4×13’s failure, so by my theory 4×14 will recover. What does your theory predict for tonight?

        For all my apparent bravado about my ‘theory’, my fingers and toes are crossed hoping for that theoretical recovery over the next 2-3 weeks, if not, I don’t think much will matter, the show’s fate will be sealed.

      • armySFC says:

        jason, well not based on theory but on past trends. episode 4.09 got a 1.7 and 4.10 went up to 2.0. i look for that trend to continue. so i would say between 1.8-2.0 initial.

      • bundy says:

        @army I get that Chuck might not be the best show out there and there will be a bad episode(s).I also get that people disagree about certain things.Thats the fun of coming on here.But when you find fault with every episode, no matter if it’s good epi. or bad then why watch it.People watch for different reasons,some for the romance,some for adventure,and some the mytholigy.I watch it because it’s good escape for an hour.But if you’re only gonna watch it to pick out the bad things,why even bother.(and by you’re Im not referring to you)

      • jason says:

        Bundy – I have now liked 20 straight eps, ever since 3.12, some more than others, a few that I have not rewatched, but by and large, first class entertainment. My expectation is that I will like all 11 of the next eps too, what specifically do you want to discuss other than your disappointment that some fans complain too much, that seems like a pretty one sided discussion, what have you liked this season? Have you disliked anything? My point is, it seems this blog does a great job in drawing all that out. Sometimes it goes in directions I don’t like, once in early season 4 I did not blog for 2 weeks, when I felt the discussion got way too negative about episodes I really was enjoying, and that is any of our rights. But when here, kick back and give your 2 cents worth, you will probably find someone to agree and someone who will rip you to shreds, isn’t that what this is all about?

      • armySFC says:

        bundy i agree that i and some others find fault in every episode. the points i bring up are the same ones done differently each time. how many times can they have sarah not answer a call from chuck? how many times will chuck have intersect issues? how many plot points will be left hanging, the bracelet, the laptop, the psp device, the mustang? chuck leaving ellie in the dark about spying? these are used repeatedly. the mostly unexplained mama b arc? these all would still be unknown and may remain that way even with the added episodes.

        this season should have been over with the last episode. for me these issues should have been taken care of during that portion of the season. heck i didn’t even complain about how in 48 hours sarah made like santa. in 48 hours she made 3 13 hour flights from moscow, saw volkoff, got a guy out of jail and tossed casey out of a window. that doesn’t even include ground travel. would it be to much to ask to make the time fit a little bit. heck for most of the season we could barely figure out how far along ellie was then they have devon say she was early. they script out the episodes before they write them. they jumped weeks to get sarah in with volkoff, so make it 5 days prior not 2. so i ask again is that to much to ask?

  13. bundy says:

    @Jason I will answer that after Chuck.Now I’ve got to go to Subway.Enjoy tonights episode.

  14. bundy says:

    @Jason I have also enjoyed pretty much everything from 3/13 on.Sure some things get to me.Sarahs interagation scene in the living dead.That scene I think did more damage to her character than the entire season.Keeping Ellie in the dark still gets to me.This season,like armySFC says the laptop,the mustang, and the psp are all swept under the rug.Are they all plot holes,yes.Are they important,I think that for that part of the story at that time,yes.Is it something that I thinks ruins the story,no.They move the story along to next chapter.As for this blog,I look forward to reading all the post and most of the responces.They do a great job here and its alot better than some other places.My complaint is that a few people on here no matter what are always putting down everything.Like I said before they just seem to watch to find the bad things and thats it.Why bother watching if thats all there interested in.And the reason I dont post much is as you can see,I’m not very good at writing down what I want to say.Never have been.Sorry if I come off as an a**h*l*.It’s not my intention.Hope you liked tonights show.I had a fun hour.

    • Neve says:

      What this blog has excelled in through the years has been one thing: encouraging people to discuss the show openly. Other fan sites force a smile and a you must love everything about Chuck attitude on readers/members. What makes this blog here special,for me at least, is the fact I could whine about the disaster that was season 3 and the whole Shaw arc without being censored or forced to tow the party line that Chuck is emazing and every episode is the best ever. And don’t get it wrong, people here love the show more than those always positive (cause their income depends on the show) people you will find elsewhere.
      Please don’t try to change that. Pointing flaws out is one of the best ways to fix those flaws.

  15. Neve says:

    I am sorry but Season 4 has been a complete miss for me. Storylines are stale, plotholes aplenty … the show just lacks the freshness season 1 and 2 had. I mean I watch season 2 and it’s a sweet show. I watch season 4 and it’s a corny/campy show.

  16. Big Kev says:

    I’m late to this post (as usual!) – but here’s my 2c on Season 4.
    There have absolutely been loads of Genius MOMENTS in Season 4. The highlights for me (in no particular order)

    • The MamaB/Ellie reunion scene in First Fight
    • Chuck’s standoff with Volkoff in the cabin
    • The Sarah/MamaB standoff – “and who might you be?”
    • Just about everything that Timothy Dalton has done, from his first line (decapitate you with a spoon) to his last (it’s been fun) – an example of how substantial actors, well cast, can elevate a character and a story. Linda H has done a stellar job too, although with slightly lesser material.
    • Jeff “knowing” Casey’s dumpster
    • Yvonne. It’s old hat now, but the lady is just outstanding in every scene. Physicality, comedy, emotion, occasional bewilderment…..and now belly dancing. You name it, she does it. Good writing or bad writing, she’s never anything less than compelling to watch, and Sarah’s journey to “real girl” status has been one of the highlights of the season.
    • And others that I don’t have time to list…..

    As a whole though, the season just hasn’t quite hung together for me. Many of the reasons have been discussed, and I don’t intend to rehash them here, but Dr Kev’s quick and easy diagnosis is as follows:-

    • Too much plot-free, awfully contrived Chuck and Sarah fluff and not enough story (Suitcase, Cubic Z and Balcony) Too much whiny Chuck in 2 of those episodes too, which compounds the error. Give us the heartwarming stuff at the end, but tell some story with the rest.
    • The Intersectless Arc. Fairly pointless to me at the time and still so now, despite Thinkling’s eloquent defence of it. I can see her points, but I just don’t think they justify such a pedestrian arc.
    • Subsequently the pacing of the season is off, because the meat of the story ends up stuffed into 3 or 4 episodes, when it could have been expanded into 6 or 7, with still plenty of room for backstories and standalones.
    • Cut out the flab from those episodes (and the Buy More) and you have time for a far better MamaB backstory, loads more Ellie, Awesome and Casey, and time to pick up some of the dropped plot threads that drive some of us nuts. And you can still put the Chuck/Sarah heartwarming stuff in there that we all love. Win/Win!!

    Overall, still a decent season. I’d give it 7/10, in the hope that the new writers will tighten some things up in the back half, and make every episode count. If it is going to be the last 10, all the more reason to leave some of the filler on the cutting room floor.

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