Happily Ever After

The end is near, but not here.

Meet the Bartowskis. That nice family down the street.

Chuck and Sarah are both on a journey, more than one actually.  They are both on their own journey, and on a journey together.  It is that journey together that clues us into their individual journeys, and their end.

Chuck needs one more season, but only one more, where they know the number of episodes and have the end firmly in mind to finish the story in a satisfying way.   A full season of 22 episodes would be about right, and coincidently get them to exactly 100 episodes and syndication.  Done right, they can go out on the top of their game with potentially the best season ever.

I want to say upfront that this is a personal view.  I am not claiming inside knowledge or inevitability, but I think I can say I think I understand the story they are telling.  Even if TPTB haven’t always.  The goal may be planned, but with four seasons of not knowing how many seasons or episodes they would have to reach the goal, it’s tough to tell the story you want.  In essence you need to tell the story in a limited way every season, sometimes twice.  With those smaller limited stories we can see the endgame, the happily ever after, even if they sometimes set up the next season that may never be by hinting at the next chapter.  But how is it that you tell so many stories that are the same story, and all link together as the same larger story?  If this all seems confusing, bear with me, or don’t, because I’m delving again into Heroes and their Journeys and the plots that tell the stories without being the story, after the jump.

It’s axiomatic that as the story progresses you learn things about your characters you didn’t know, and it changes your understanding of events and what they mean in a larger context.  It also may inform you that what you thought you knew about a character wasn’t necessarily true, even though there could be some truth to it.  In this way that same story you’ve told before can be re-imagined and re-told with another layer added to the story and the characters, and in this way you can make the story ever more satisfying, even as you are making up parts of it as you go along.  Each element both closes off, and opens up possibilities for the story to come.  In what some consider an annoying lack of focus in the writing and I consider a feature, the serialized elements of Chuck never seem to achieve closure.  We always seem to be left wondering exactly how did Mary’s mission end up lasting 20 years, or what was the deal with the “intersect rock”.  Or exactly what was that thing between Beckman and Roan.  I think you might see where I’m going, but stick with me for a bit first.

Chuck’s journey is to fulfill his destiny and become a hero, and as we’ve learned the purpose of his becoming a hero is to complete his father’s legacy.  Sarah’s journey is to become a real girl, to be redeemed from a future and a life she was cursed with through no fault of her own, but then chose to pursue.  The end for both is happily ever after.  Except for season one, which was sadly interrupted by the writer’s strike, we’ve seen this play out many times.  Given the uncertainty in the seasons and episodes TPTB typically plan to give us an ending in episode 13, which usually gets slightly watered down or re-imagined as a story midpoint.  I’ve talked about the mechanics of this before, in the context of Voegler’s Hero’s Journey structure.  Seeing or knowing about the structure and realizing where you are in the story, either potentially in the case of a 13 episode order extended to 22, or actually in the case of a season finale, which then may have an extra bit of setup for the next part of the story tacked on, the endgame is given away repeatedly.  The endgame is happily ever after.

Look at the 13th episode of each season (in the case of season 2 the originally intended 13th episode, Third Dimension).  Again, season one displays less of this, but elements are still there.  In each case, the potential season-ender had Chuck and Sarah happy together with a life changing event, a sense of completing something having happened.  In Third Dimension Sarah learns to trust Chuck as a partner, and gives him his degree, she gives him his life back, the one he was denied by Bryce.  In turn Chuck makes his wish, and we get a sense that just maybe Chuck and Sarah will find a way to make it work.  Sarah said it herself, wish for what you want, it’ll be yours in the end.

(Editors note.  It was pointed out that I mixed up the plots of two episodes I’d recently watched, Tom Sawyer and Third Dimension.  See the first comment thread here and my response here.)

In season 3 we had a Paris hotel room where the last of the barriers keeping them apart were gone, and Chuck and Sarah finally together and in love.  In this case there is the added twist of them both potentially out of the spy world.  Closing the computer on Beckman was symbolically equivalent to quitting, and again, perhaps watered down since they knew they had a back 6 by the time it was shot.

In Push Mix it was even more definitive.  Chuck had completed the missions  both his parents had dedicated their lives to, Sarah came home, and Chuck proposed to Sarah, making her a part of his restored family.  Happily ever after.

Look at each season finale and you see a similar finality, but with the occasionally annoying cliffhanger hooks for the next season pitch tacked on the end.  Season 2 could have ended at the end of Colonel, or at the reception in the courtyard where Sarah decides to stay and tells Chuck she doesn’t want to save the world anymore.  But the rest of Ring I was the pitch and setup for the next chapter, or leg of the journey.  The same is true in Ring II.  His family safe, Shaw defeated, Chuck out of the CIA, and Sarah left just ambiguous enough to be able to believe she is out too.  Then, again, the setup of his father’s final message and Chuck’s new mission and next season in the final scene.

Chris Fedak has said more than once that he prefers prologue to epilogue, hence the setups at the end of each season.  But that doesn’t preclude happily ever after.  It is its own prologue.  The story doesn’t end, just the strife and the conflict, or the big threatening part of the strife and conflict, and our heroes have achieved, and can enjoy that for which they fought.

Which brings us to the Hero, and his journey.  There are different kinds of heroes, and Chuck has shown us that more than once.  In addition, heroes can evolve.  In the Hero’s Journey, ala Campbell, the hero can have more than one fate.  Not every end is happily ever after.  Sometimes the hero, having mastered his new world, stays in that world.

Late in season one Sarah asked Casey a question.

Do you ever just wanna have a normal life?  Have a family? Children?

She isn’t just asking that, although she is, she’s also asking and thinking about a lot more.  It is our first real glimpse of Sarah Walker, not as Chuck knows her, a kick-ass indestructible hero, but as a real person full of the same doubts and fears Chuck struggles with.  Is there more to our lives than this?  Can we ever be more than what we are now?  Did you ever wonder if you’re cut out for a life without anything else?  That is what Sarah is asking herself, and asking Casey if he thinks about it too.

The choice we made to protect something bigger than ourselves…is the right choice. Hard as that is for you to remember sometimes.

Casey is a different kind of hero from Chuck.  Casey made the decision not to return home.  He lives in, inhabits, the spy world.  This is the hero who “dies for our sins” so to speak.  He gives up his life so we can have ours.  Casey confirms it again in Undercover Lover, though he seems more than a little doubtful.

Casey: “It’s not like I want the wife and kids and the Little League practice and the minivan and the Costco runs.”

Chuck: “Yeah. Really? You don’t? It seems to me that you’d kind of be into the whole American dream.”

Casey: “No. I do what I do so all those other slobs out there can have it.”

Perhaps it isn’t doubt so much as regret.  He knows love doesn’t last in his world, and Ilsa is a painful reminder of that.  Having made his decision he’s left behind a part of himself that occasionally surfaces in rare moments of weakness.  We see this in Sarah more often, the softness and emotion is more a part of her, she just suppresses it.  But we have to wonder if she really is like Casey.  Is his choice the right one for her, and how did she come to make it?

At this point what we see of Chuck, Sarah, and Casey is three different kinds of heroes.  We see Casey, the man who has made his choice to live as a hero for others, and lives with the consequences.  We Sarah who seems to have made the choice, yet yearns for something else, perhaps a return to the home and family.  We don’t yet know enough about her to see if that is something she knows about, but she clearly thinks about it.  Then we see Chuck, the reluctant hero.  He wasn’t given a choice when it comes down to it, but he becomes the hero for his friends and family in addition to it being the right thing to do.

These same themes are revisited throughout the seasons, the choice to be a hero, who had one, who didn’t, and the consequences of making a choice to be a hero, even if it seems to be destined.

We also frequently visit the question of the two worlds and the rules unique to each.  Here I want to say a few words about Chuck and the choices they make in how to present the show.  Chuck is not a serious drama, though it includes dramatic aspects.  Chuck is not an action show, though it includes a lot of action.  At its heart, Chuck is a comedy, even if it strays from that at times.  A comedy can explore serious subjects and can be dark or light, but at a certain point the producers of Chuck chose their overall tone, even if they seemed to stray a bit in season 3.  This doesn’t mean that like a drama Chuck can’t include or visit elements that would make Chuck a darker comedy or a dark drama, they just have to be careful with how far they take it.  One of the best examples of the potential pitfalls is how they treat the topic of seduction and sex.

There is a very famous deleted scene in season one where you can see the choice TPTB made, and perhaps understand why.  In the Crown Vic episode, when Sarah is off to seduce Lon Kirk, Casey is teasing Chuck about what happens, but it goes further than the usual teasing we’ve seen in canon in the deleted scene.  Casey basically lays it out that agents, and Sarah in particular, use sex as a weapon on missions.  Not sexual attraction or the promise of sex, but sex.  Even as an inference about Sarah’s reputation it opens up a very dark path.  It’s a well trod path in a lot of fan fiction, but I think they made the right decision for the show.  It is very tough to keep Sarah sympathetic or to maintain Chuck’s love and admiration if you go too far visiting those aspects of the spy world or take her character in that direction.  Instead they do the right thing, they infer through another character, innuendo, and rumor.  We need to see those possibilities and darker aspects to learn about the character and the rules of the world she inhabits, and the potential costs.  From the beginning Sarah has been a woman who is capable of and wants love, but isn’t sure she can have it or deserves it due to the life she’s chosen, and had to lead.

Chuck does this in a lot of areas, and if you are a fan of the darker aspects of serious drama it may come off as a cheat sometimes, like Chuck’s initial red test, then pulling him back from ever having to kill.  Overall one thing that seems to bother even the fans of season 3 was that they seemed to lose the previous deft touch they had for going just far enough into the darker aspects without going too dark or so deep as to make a payoff seem necessary.  Some are expressing the same about season 4, or that it’s gone too light.  I believe they’ve regained their balance for the most part.

Like an impressionist painting Chuck has managed to convey a feeling or a story minimally, allowing us to fill in the picture or the details from our own experiences, while the show itself manages to stay light and not get bogged down in excessive detail that takes too long to produce.  But like an impressionist painting opinions may vary.  Some want more detail, others may not like some aspects or will read something into it differently.  Also, like any painting the more of the canvas you fill in the less room for interpretation or freedom.  At some point decisions on the direction become permanent, to the joy or disappointment of some part of the audience.

Chuck is not a spy, he’s a hero.  At some level we need to accept that.  Chuck will never display the cool confidence under fire that Sarah does, or the easy ruthlessness that Casey does.  They chose at some point to inhabit the world of spies, and accepted, at least for a time, its rules.  We shouldn’t lose sight that at his decent human core, Chuck is unsuited to being a spy, however he manages to keep pulling it off.  Many have complained about Chuck’s occasional or too frequent regression.  I don’t see it as regression, I see it as re-affirmation that Chuck is a certain kind of hero.  He and Sarah will never be Casey.  They will journey through the spy world, but they will not inhabit it.  They are both past that.

Sarah is different without Chuck, and she doesn’t like it.  In Phase 3 one of the absolutely most ingenious twists, one TPTB must have worried about given the way people feel about Sarah, was that they showed us Sarah as Casey.  The willingness to torture, brutalize and betray to accomplish a mission were all there, but were managed sympathetically because we understood and applauded the goal.  And the motive.  What Sarah did she did for love, the right reason, not for expedience like Casey killing Chuck in First Date would have been.  Spies like Casey and Sarah as Graham’s wildcard enforcer who live in the spy world and play by its rules don’t have the luxury of a conscience, so they tell themselves it’s for the greater good.  That can be a seductive path, the greater good.  It relieves the burden of conscience and allows you to enjoy those aspects of your chosen life left open to you without worrying about the cost or consequences.  For you or others.  Carina can seduce Chuck or Morgan or others and enjoy it because she has a job to do, and a higher calling.  Casey can kill Chuck when he’s no longer of use because Chuck’s sacrifice, even his unwilling one saves lives.  Sarah used to be able to lie to Chuck and manipulate him through his attraction because she was protecting him and the country.

Chuck never was, and never will be a spy.  One of the reasons I loved Fear of Death was because they showed us that.  When Chuck kept risking his life, following orders, trying to inhabit that world without the intersect to level the playing field, he was doomed.  Chuck doesn’t accept, in fact refuses to accept the rules of that world.  He will not resort to deadly violence, he won’t carry a gun.   When Sarah in her frustration and fear blurts out “No Chuck, you’re not!” to Chuck’s assertion he’s a spy it is her reacting to her deepest fears being played out in front of her.  It is also what she truly believes, and she’s right.  Chuck never was, and never would be a spy without losing himself or dying young.  That was the root of Sarah’s fear in season 3.  He’d followed her into the spy life, and he’d either play by their rules, or die.  Either way she’d hold herself responsible for the death of the man she loved.

Chuck being Chuck has found a way, for now, of being an effective agent.  His influence and method has allowed Sarah to largely escape those parts of the spy life that she’d lost her taste for, if she ever truly had one.  For now, as in the initial part of season 3’s back 6 Chuck and Sarah are living under the illusion they can have it all.  It’s a chance to lighten the mood of the show and have some fun, all the while establishing the dilemma they will face in the final arc.  They are living in a world neither is really suited for anymore, and perhaps they risk losing themselves and each other along the way.  The Turners were a cautionary tale whose fate Chuck and Sarah were sure they wouldn’t share.  But the Turners quit when they came to close to losing everything.   Chuck and Sarah have each other’s love and complete trust.  They have friends and family, and a future together.  Those are things we’ve seen and been told make spies vulnerable.  Effective spies shouldn’t have them as we saw with Volfoff.  The more they have, the more they risk.

Each season the risks Chuck and Sarah take and the enemies they face have grown and hit closer to home.  Eventually they’ll decide they’ve achieved their goal and will leave the spy life for good and embrace the pleasures of domestic tranquility and family.  Does it have to be at the end of this season?  I say no.  It would actually be premature.  The risks they face are real, but the consequences of continuing to face them haven’t hit close enough to home yet.  They came close last season with the death of Stephen Bartowski.  They may try to get close at the end of this season, but in the end they need one more season to bring the story to a close.

Chuck’s journey is to fulfill his father’s legacy, Sarah’s is to be redeemed from her past.  To bring things to a close they need to finally fill in the blank spots on the canvas.  But it means no season 6.  I’d be good with that.

Sarah’s journey is to be redeemed from her past, and this season they have finally started to set up that past and how it made her into Sarah Walker, spy.  We now know that in addition to a childhood of crime on the road with her father, Sarah does have a mother who is apparently alive and known to her.  We’ve also seen that Sarah’s parents union, if it ever was to the point of marriage, didn’t last.  In fact it’s almost as if it were cursed, and the result of that union was likewise cursed.  It is time we learned the nature and origin of the curse and how it drove Sarah to try to escape it.  Given that, Sarah Walker’s journey will be complete when she breaks the curse by delivering a daughter into a loving and stable family.

Chuck’s journey is to fulfill his father’s legacy.  That legacy is the intersect.  Stephen Bartowski designed the intersect to help people.  At some point the intersect drew him, then his family, into the world of spies.  Then it became a weapon.  This was not the legacy Orion intended, and it cost him his gift, his family, and his life.  To complete their family legacy, because the intersect mythology is now so closely tied to the Bartowski family it must include Ellie, the two of them must deliver the intersect to the world, as a gift and a boon to mankind as Stephen intended, not as a weapon.  With that done the spy world will have no hold on Chuck, or the Bartowskis.  Any of them.  The final symbol of this broken hold will be when Chuck and Sarah can have what the Turners never could.  Children.  A family of their own.

The fifth and final season has room for everything, including bringing back Stephen/Orion and Mary (and even Volkoff) in flashbacks and a fully fleshed out mythology.  There should be risk and drama, and though some might call it angst, there should be the danger that Chuck or Sarah could die, or they could, like Stephen and Mary, or even the Turners, lose each other and what they have together.  The union has now been established (and a wedding will finalize it) to the point that we know their future is together, so we can see the stress, and the risks fully explored and appreciate the drama rather than bemoan the angst.

Some have said that the Mary/Volkoff story never paid off.  I say it hasn’t fully paid off, yet.  The hooks and enough of the story is there ready and waiting, whether they do it this season or next.  Some say the intersectless arc was without purpose, because they never paid off on the mythology of the Bartowskis, Mary and Stephen, and the intersect.  Again, I say yet.  They may plan to give us more this season, a limited payoff, but I hope they keep enough in their pocket for another season and a final payoff.

Like an impressionist painting there appear to be gaps where some detail should be, but if you stand back and allow your mind to fill in the rest, it can make you feel and experience something in a way a masterfully crafted and wonderfully detailed painting can’t.  But like any canvas, there is still room left to fill in.  We aren’t out of canvas yet.

In season one we saw Sarah apparently wide-eyed and overjoyed at suddenly seeming to be part of a family and to have someone who cared about her.  In season 2 we saw her finally experience love and friendship, and we saw why it mattered to her so much.  In season 2 we saw Chuck start to look for answers about his situation and the intersect, and his father, and we saw him uncover his family history and legacy for the next two seasons.

We saw the barriers that had kept Chuck and Sarah apart in season two and three weren’t so much professional as personal failings in both of them in Suitcase, and Cubic Z, and Coup d’Etat.  At the end of season 3 part 1 we saw Chuck and Sarah seem to just happen, without much explanation, kind of like Sarah and Shaw, and it hurt.  It seemed neither we nor they fully understood why it was suddenly so easy to be together.   In season 4, we saw the hurt play out in Fear of Death and Phase Three, where Sarah feels the full consequences of her reticence to talk and open up hit home with Chuck’s doubts driving him to risk it all, including risking his life to keep her.

In season 5 we’ll see Chuck and Sarah realize they were fooling themselves in Bakersfield, again in Prague, again on the train, and ever since.  The two of them together living a life of adventure either on the run or as spies would never be enough for either.  One mission at a time isn’t enough for Sarah anymore, or Chuck, and a future without the promise of all they could have together never will be either.  They will fight to overcome the last of the holds the spy world has on either of them and they will quit, Sarah having been redeemed and removed the family curse and Chuck having delivered his father’s legacy as a boon to mankind.  They will start a family.   And they’ll live happily ever after.

That’s a story I want to see.

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About Ernie Davis

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

136 Responses to Happily Ever After

  1. mxpw says:

    First, Ernie, your comments about Third Dimension were really about Tom Sawyer. I’m not sure how you got those mixed up, especially since they’re not even close together in tone, message, or season placement, but I just thought you should know.

    Second, I have to ask about your last paragraph. How do you rectify a statement like this:

    The two of them together living a life of adventure either on the run or as spies would never be enough for either. One mission at a time isn’t enough for Sarah anymore, or Chuck, and a future without the promise of all they could have together never will be either.

    With the fact that in A-Team, the very last thing Sarah seemed interested in was leaving the spy life? She was so desperate to go on missions and go on adventures that she was going stir-crazy and acting irrational. So I am confused, I guess you could say. How does the Sarah as depicted in that episode equate to the one you wrote about? Because I don’t see them as the same.

    • Tamara Burks says:

      In A Team it seemd to be more of a matter of her being snubbed professionally and her value as a person lessened. A non spy, non con artist life is still an alien thing to Sarah.

      Plus there’s the aspect of control , she’s not the one making the choice to not take the missions.

      Then there’s pride, Sarah takes pride in her job as a spy because it’s all she’s had for so long. Before that she was a con artist essentially doing a less lethal version of the same thing. And she’s proud of Chuck , By sidelining both her and Chuck they are insulting both of them and Sarah is angry for both of them.

    • atcDave says:

      I took the “A-Team” situation purely as Sarah going stir crazy at work with nothing to do. If she had a different job or mission in life she would likely throw herself at it with enthusiasm; and its even possible she can take advantage of actual off duty time as well. I have a very seasonal job and I see people who just can’t handle being trapped at work with nothing to do (usually these are non-readers!); but that doesn’t mean they don’t have and enjoy a variety of hobbies and interests when they can properly escape the work environment.

      I could easily imagine a situation where Sarah could find contentment as a trainer or planner, while her purpose in life had more to do with family. But I think the biggest issue is as Ernie said, the show is a comedy first. It was amusing to see bored Sarah in “A-Team”, I would be hesitant to draw too many conclusions from it.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      First, Ernie, your comments about Third Dimension were really about Tom Sawyer. I’m not sure how you got those mixed up, especially since they’re not even close together in tone, message, or season placement, but I just thought you should know.

      Good catch, brain lock on my part. I’ve watched both recently and was thinking about how similar their endings were. After Chuck comes through as a part of the team (natch) Sarah (apparently) intervenes with the CIA to give Chuck something of his old life back. In Tom Sawyer it was Stanford, in Third Dimension it was an indefinite break from spying and missions. Tom Sawyer does have a sort of end of season vibe, especially with the To Be Continued flying out of the screen at the end as Chuck chooses to be a spy. It has less of the happily ever after as we were still early in the show and they knew they had a full season, and potentially more seasons to get to it. I still contend that from the end of season 2 on they’ve been more and more clear that the show ends with Chuck and Sarah (at least potentially in the case of season 2) leaving the spy life together for happily ever after.

      With the fact that in A-Team, the very last thing Sarah seemed interested in was leaving the spy life? She was so desperate to go on missions and go on adventures that she was going stir-crazy and acting irrational.

      I don’t think it contradicts my point at all. She’s not doing one mission at a time, and hasn’t been since about The Tooth where she told Chuck she wanted a future with him. My point is that at this point both are happy being spies together and planning that future. I would expect later this season (and next season if we get it) that they’ll again be confronted with the spy life taking their future from them, and the end will be a wedding or close to a wedding with both Chuck and Sarah at least implied as possibly being done, depending on how confident TPTB feel about getting a next season. If we get a next season make it the final one and make it stick.

      I’d also contend Sarah was a little stir-crazy, more like as Dave says, cabin fever at work. I don’t think she was irrational, aside from a brief comedic moment where she blurted out the first thing a spy would think, cut off Casey’s hand. I thought both played that scene perfectly by the way. The momentary beat where both their expressions say “Did I/she just say that out loud?”, then Chuck breaks the awkward moment with a joke, as always. Although Casey’s hand does seem to be a pretty hot commodity in the spy world this year…

      The things that bother a lot of fans, leaving so many serial elements open and fear of going into dark and character damaging areas (again) could be handled a lot better when they know they don’t have to leave or open a dozen or so possible story-lines for the next season.

      If WB or NBC comes back for more Chuck, start with a new premise outside the BuyMore. Have Morgan a less than effective CIA officer constantly calling on his spy friends to bail him out for instance. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I’d thought about Casey’s hand; not only has it’s removal been discussed twice by rivals, but he considered removing it himself in Seduction Impossible!

      • mxpw says:

        Uh, Ernie, you are getting Tom Sawyer and Third Dimension mixed up again. There was no “To be continued” and Chuck deciding to be a spy at the end of Tom Sawyer. That was (I’m pretty sure) Third Dimension.

        Anyway, I will agree with you that TS and TD are perhaps loosely structurally similar, but are vastly different in tone and content. TS was about hope. It was about Chuck regaining some measure of his old life back, regaining some of that normalcy he had been searching for ever since the Intersect came into his life, and hope for the future. Hope for a future free of the Intersect and with Sarah (hence the whole purpose of the wish scene).

        TD was the exact opposite of the end of TS in many respects. It was about Chuck worrying about his place on the team and his place in the spy life. It was about him wanting to be part of that world so bad he gave up a “normal” night so he could go spy. He didn’t want to be left behind and he wanted to be a spy. It was foreshadowing for the end of Ring 1, but it was completely jarring and tonally different from the rest of the season. Especially since the Orion arc would start soon after TD. I don’t really think Tom Sawyer and Third Dimension are alike at all (especially since TS was actually a good episode).

        As for the A-Team comments, I’ll just say this: I might be able to buy what you and Dave were saying if they had shown me any indication before A-Team that Sarah actually HAS any hobbies or outside interests beside being a spy. But they haven’t. So I can’t say I’m all that convinced of the argument that she was simply going stir crazy because they’ve yet to show me that if given the opportunity, she would actually do something other than just sit around waiting for the next mission to come around.

      • atcDave says:

        You are right mxpw that we haven’t seen anything about how Sarah might deal with off time. But we know she has expressed an interest in the idea several times; from her willingness to leave the life entirely in Honeymooners; to saying she now has more than the next mission to look forward to in Tooth; to Chuck discussing how they unwind together in Gobbler. Granted, none of that adds up to a very involved personal life; but it does show some interest in the topic. All we really know from A-Team is that two weeks of playing board games in Castle was getting on her nerves. And bored Sarah was a very funny theme for the week.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        LOL, did it again… I also constantly confuse Motzart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik with Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. I know the difference, I just pick the wrong title. You get my point.

        Hello Cleveland! I’m dyslexic (From 3rd Dimension. Right?)

        I didn’t really consider whether TS and TD were similar structurally, I was just noticing the end, sort of moments where Sarah gives Chuck something he’s lost, and I managed to mix the plots and/or titles up, twice now.

        As for Sarah’s outside interests, they’ve mentioned board games with Chuck after missions (two solid weeks worth being her limit apparently) and we’ve seen she enjoys the occasional talk with Ellie or round of shopping and wedding planning outside the numerous Bartowski family functions and parties. Then there’s a night on the town with Carina in Three words or another with the CATS in CAT Squad, or TV night in with Chuck in The Tooth, or a dinner out at the beginning of Balcony. They’ve shown Chuck and Sarah, Sarah, and Sarah and Ellie in plenty of non-spy down time doing normal things. I guess what I don’t understand is why you think two weeks of no missions wouldn’t be something she’d notice, be concerned about, or care about as long as she had a hobby, and being fed up after two weeks of trying to fill downtime on the job is somehow a sign that she has no life outside the spy world. Would it be better if they showed her stir crazy and fed up after having knit Every member of the Bartowski clan three sweaters and a scarf and mitten set as opposed to fed up and stir crazy after two weeks of innumerable board games?

        Actually that would have been pretty funny now that I think of it.

        The point is that two weeks without missions was shown to be a LOT more free time than either was used to as the A-Team, leading Sarah to become suspicious. Chuck, having spent his time in the BuyMoria trenches was more equipped to deal with it.

      • JC says:

        Maybe whats bothering people about that scene is that would’ve been a perfect chance to show Sarah developing some personal interests of her own. Not something tied to directly to Chuck. As much as this season has been about her more than ever, she’s still basically defined by being a spy and Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        OK, I’ll turn this on it’s head. We know Chuck is a gamer, video gamer. That is well established. When was the first time we heard of a penchant for classic boardgames? When he said it was something he and Sarah did together. Yet we all assume it is because of Chuck. How exactly do we know classic board games aren’t something Sarah loves, but never really got much of a chance to do before having real friends and a real relationship? Exactly who is defining Sarah through Chuck and the spy world here?

      • atcDave says:

        Great point Ernie, I love it! Although in my experience most gamers enjoy a variety of platforms including board games, puzzles, and electronic formats (I know I do!)

        But I think its valid to say we just really don’t know what Sarah’s interests are; except that she was frustrated and bored with two weeks of board games in Castle (I know I would be, and I love Monopoly and Settlers of Catan).

      • joe says:

        @Ernie: How exactly do we know classic board games aren’t something Sarah loves…

        Really! Exactly who is defining Sarah? That’s a great point.

        I’ve been beating myself up for years because I never feel that I know this character from the inside like I know Chuck and Stephen. They are a bit foreign to me, but I even know Casey and Morgan. But Sarah? I still am surprised but something nearly every week.

        So maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Part of Sarah’s charm (part of any woman’s charm, the poets say) is mystery. You can’t fiddle with that too much.

      • thinkling says:

        I love the idea of Sarah being the one who likes to play board games. I thought the stack they had in A-Team was interesting: Clue, Twister, and Operation. Come to think of it, Chuck did mention Operation in Angel of Death. So, maybe he likes them, too.

  2. Tamara Burks says:

    What an incredibly articulate argument for why we NEED a season 5 to round out the storyline.

  3. atcDave says:

    Excellent write up as always Ernie. I agree with many of your statements, but not quite all! I would think how serious or dark a potential S5 gets would primarily be a business/entertainment decision made when work actually starts on it.
    For myself, I will likely always want one more season, however many we actually get. But if we ever get an actual finale, I think you are exactly right about the ultimate end game; Chuck has control of his father’s legacy, and Sarah gives birth to their first child. I think that’s likely to mean both are out of the spy life, and ready to embark on something more “normal.”

    I wish very much, they would take less of a heroes’ journey view of things, and be content to produce a more episodic type of story that emphasized fun and funny. But I strongly suspect you are right that TPTB see it differently and will actually want to wrap things up in another season (or two at most) when they have told some version of the story they set out to tell. But I would happily watch stand alone episodes of Chuck for another ten years.

    • Big Kev says:

      Dave, I wonder how much money (if any) they spend on test screenings? I reckon we could save them all that. Hire you and I as unpaid consultants (with set access, of course) and if we’re both happy with an episode, I reckon 99.9% of everyone else would be too! 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        You know Kev that’s an excellent point. We’re ready to help with the next round of cuts!

      • uplink2 says:

        I’d like to see that! I think I certainly would be. If that had been the case in season 3 how many of the 19 episodes would have actually aired as originally conceived I wonder lol.

    • thinkling says:

      I’ll shock the blog by agreeing with you, Dave. I could watch Chuck indefinitely. At some point they could, IMO, bridge from the hero’s journey into some form of the happy ever after, which could initially include the spy world. It could have challenge and villains, excitement and action, romance and drama. All of that can exist in a sort of half-way house between the rigors of the hero’s journey and the bliss of kids, mini-vans, vacations, and soccer camps. I would even be pleased to watch the latter in an Undercover Blues sort of format, with mostly stand-alone episodes, where the family is not really threatened all that much.

      In the mean time, I would like to see the Intersect and Sarah stories rounded out. Sarah’s will be mostly done with a wedding, though I agree children will be the final touch. More stand alone episodes with the Intersect plot always looming and Chuck and Sarah discussing the possibility of life after spy-life would be very S2 like, only with them together. Together they would weigh what kind of future they want, while fighting to get final control over the Intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        I know I’m shocked that Thinkling would agree with me!

        I like the way you brought up the convergence of the normal and spy worlds. From the Pilot, we had the story of an ordinary guy sucked into a dangerous and exciting world. Sarah’s story was always the mirror of that. Of course as their paths are drawn together we end up with a shared story of two people living both ordinary and extra-ordinary lives at the same time. I think there is unlimited potential in telling that story for both drama and laughs, in fact I think that’s something they’ve done an excellent job of all season long (Chuck/Sarah dialog during the bank fights of First Fight and Bank of Evil being the perfect illustrations). We aren’t so far away from a huge smackdown fight with our featured heroes discussing soccer practice or the cost of braces as they throw punches and kicks. I find that very funny, and I dislike that we will likely say goodbye long before I am ready to.

        I think my hope for Chuck will always be one more season.

      • thinkling says:

        There’s no end to the fun to be had. I, too, will always want one more season. I keep thinking of the rich material with Sarah as the lioness soccer mom and Chuck as the voice of reason that keeps her from going all “kill bill” on the various coaches and principals in her kids’ world.

        I see them dictating the terms of their missions and going on indefinitely. Of course, I know that’s a departure from the type of story thus far, but I see no reason that it couldn’t be a reset once the hero’s journey has accomplished its objective.

  4. Verkan_Vall says:

    Very interesting, especially your take on the Heroes’ Journeys. Much more interesting than Campbell’s work; I hate to say it, but he bores me to tears.

  5. Jason says:

    Wow. That was a fantastic article. It may have been the best I have seen on this site, and that is a big compliment in my opinion.

    They should hire you as a writer, I hope that they do follow the formula that you have laid out for the continuation of the series.

  6. beti says:

    what about ellie.. now she is part of the bartowsky legacy!! to much to tell in 5 episodes!! I think the A-team is no a spy group but a family¡ even Casey have become a family man.. who gives chuck advice about his proposal, who gives awsome advice about being in clara´s birth, the only way to integrate ellie into chuck´s new family is using her knowledge into her father´s intersec..

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I agree, a season 5 about the intersect would rely heavily on Ellie perfecting it for civilian use (for stroke victims or to overcome Alzheimer or some such use) thus taking on her father’s legacy for Chuck while Chuck plays the role of his mother and protects the family.

    • joe says:

      Beti, I like the way you think!

      Oh yeah. There’s tons (and in English, tonnes 😉 ) of story left to tell. But if there’s one thing that S2 taught me, it’s that they are capable of doing just that. One of the most amazing things about Chuck fans is their absolute hunger for MORE STORY!

  7. kg says:

    In reference to your graphs about the unseemly things Sarah sometimes had to do using sex, longing for redemption and Phase Three, it allowed me to recall Sarah’s second interrogation of Chenerad after her talk with Morgan.

    I remember thinking her dialogue was specifc and there’s a reason why. “This man I’m looking for is very special,” she tells him. “He loves me. He wants to marry me.” Nothing about her feelings for Chuck. Nothing about wanting to marry him. Nothing about her desires.

    Because she’s telling her prisoner, the man who knows where her Chuck is, exactly one of the reasons why he’s so special. Why he’s so special to HER. No matter what she does; the reticence, the lying, manipulating, killing etc, Chuck Bartowski sees the good in her, acknowledges her worthiness of love and often puts her up on a pedastal. He accepts her and loves her anyway.

    Chuck is her life, love, home, family and personal redemption man. This is precisely why she’ll risk her career with a rogue and death-threatening interrogation and then romp through half of Thailand like a Big Blond Shemale Sherman Tank to rescue him.

    The words were specific, appreciative and adoring. He loves me. He wants to marry ME.

    And the funny irony is Chuck still has trouble believing he’s worthy of Sarah’s love and affection. He still views her as the “Big Fish.”

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Just as a minor quibble, and before Faith, Amy or the SWFG get here, I never said, and show canon never said Sarah had to actually resort to sex. Even with Carina and Karl Stromburg they only implied there was sex involved, and you can do that with Carina because of the character she is. My point was that to remain lighter with the right comedic tone more than once TPTB have had to decide how far into the dramatic and dark parts they’re willing to go. You could make a compelling drama about a spy who had to prostitute herself out for her CIA pimp, but I doubt it would be an overall fun and happy story. TPTB at Chuck choose instead to put it out as rumor and innuendo among other spies, like Sarah’s reputation for dating co-workers, and let us draw conclusions about the pressures Sarah has to resist or the damage that reputation does.

      Aside from that quibble, your point is an excellent one. Chuck has been offering Sarah a clean slate with him since Cougars.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree. There is only one instance in the show where they confirm that Sarah had sex with anyone other than Chuck and that is when Stephen of all people calls Shaw her lover. It is certainly implied but you are right they give just enough leeway where it never really goes that dark and gives the audience the freedom to decide for themselves how they want to view it. That is one of the reasons that some feel the choice in Fake Name was made as the possibility of sex with Shaw was so distasteful to many. Unfortunately the choice they did make in that case was even more distasteful for many as well.

        But the point being made here is true. From really day 1 Chuck looked beyond the surface to the person inside. Chuck has never really been in love with Sarah Walker the spy, the big fish, infatuated yes, but he has always been in love with the woman inside or the little girl if you prefer. He just sometimes believed he wasn’t worthy of her love because of who she was externally. That is the point she was trying to make in Phase Three. She finally realized that she was different than the image she had always had of herself and that the man she adored, loved that person unconditionally. She also realized that she needed to change even more because her reticence to tell him how she really felt had caused him to risk his life to show her he was worthy of her love and she could lose him forever because of it.

  8. herder says:

    Two excellent articles Ernie, I really don’t have a lot to add except to say that they end game has always been them out of the business. Marlin Sarah was willing to shoot Longshore which would have meant them running. Ring was about them both wanting out, but at different times. Ring II was Chuck being coerced out by his sister (right idea, wrong reason). I’m half wondering if the relationship curveball that Sarah is supposed to toss is her expressing a longing for the domestic life: a house, pickett fence, golden retriever and 2.5 children. Yes Chuck wants those too, but in the spy context and he has yet to realize that the two are mutually exclusive. He can be his parents or he can be what he and Sarah dream of, but not both.

  9. JC says:

    As always Ernie you make a compelling argument. I just don’t think the TPTB are telling that story or at least one as refined as you suggest. This isn’t a knock against them it’s just the style of show they’ve chosen to create. And in their defense not knowing whether the show will be canceled every year and the late extra episode pickups have contributed to this.

    Far too often the characters feel dragged along because of the plot of an episode with no explanation or ones that are ambiguous at best. The same with the mythology of the show, its more about the moment for the writers whether it contradicts previous episodes or not. Mary’s explanation about the PSP or Sarah being a Cat Squad member years before her Red Test stand out this season. And for me these take away from the payoffs near the end of the season. The story I’m being told feels false when I can’t believe what I’ve seen or I get whiplash the next episode. I know its all personal preference with this, so I’m probably coming off harsh but my frustration comes from the fact I’ve seen them do it before with S2. It was far from perfect and there were plots holes and other moments of character stupidity but those first two seasons felt like they were building towards something great. And we got that in what I think is one of the best three episode arcs on TV ever First Kill/Colonel and Ring Pt1. That alongside honest storytelling and staying true to the characters is what I want more than anything moving forward.

    Here’s the thing I hope Fedak proves me wrong and these upcoming episodes blow me away. I’d happily eat my words.

    • Tamara Burks says:

      Actually the Red Test timing stands if you think of a Red Test not as whether or not you were willing to kill but if you are willing to kill on command .

      Technically Chuck had killed before in the Suburbs. He knew what could happen when he motioned Casey to set off the Intersect in that room with all the Fulcrum scientists, himself and Sarah. While he protected Sarah he knew that the scientists would either go insane or die.

      Even if you think that it’s still one heck of a flawed concept.It comes off more as you making your bones in a gang than any protection of national security.

      The whole red test thing was a bad idea. If they wanted to have Sarah be the one to kill her they could have had it happen on a mission and Eve could have been undercover and Sarah didn’t know it and shot her as a reaction to a lethal threat. If both Eve and Sarah thought the other was the bad guy then it would make sense to shoot to kill to ptotect themselves. Then they could have had that be her first kill and that be why she remembered it so clearly (especially if she later found out that Eve was an undercover agent) .

      Instead we got Sarah sharing yet another thing with the block of wood. An experience she described as the worst night of her life and when she thought Chuck was going through something similar she ignored his calls in favor of being with the guy who blatantly used her to manipulate Chuck (he told her to give Chuck the Red Test because he knew Chuck would do it for her).

      The differences between thier Red Tests even if she thought Chuck had successfully killed him just highlighted how strange her behavior was and how hypocritical she appeared to be.

      Sarah killed Eve knowing nothing about her except her looks and where she would be .

      Chuck OTOH, knew the guy was a killer (he saw him kill) and so did Sarah yet he still tried to arrest him (Sarah saw all that) and it wouldn’t take much for Sarah to find out he had a gun . Yet even knowing all that she still was leaving for Washington with the blatant manipulator instead of trying to talk to the guy who obviously tried to arrest the man he knew was a killer even though he was disobeying orders by doing so.

      • patty says:

        I agree Tamara. I think the red tests are limited to spies they want to train as assassins and not given to all spies. I remember Casey specifying that Bryce was a CIA trained assassin in season 1. With the Intersect Chuck would make a formidable assassin and they probably hoped to use him that way on occasion. I think what Bently said about Chuck’s “flaws” show that Beckman, at least, has realized that Chuck will never be of any use as an assassin.

        I also think the purpose with the sharing with Shaw was in part to demonstrate that Shaw had no problem with killing on command until it affected him personally. He said “We have all done it” (or words to that effect) and clearly accepted it as a part of being an elite spy. Shaw had to have realized that there was clearly a chance that someone innocent would get killed eventually.

        Chuck, on the other hand, has constantly expressed concerns about killing and eventually comes to the conclusion that it is an action of last resort (eg. defense of others). He is not the hypocrite that Shaw is and is clearly the better man in the long run.

    • JC says:

      @Tamara

      My mention of the Red Test has nothing to do with any of that. My contention is that Cat Squad showed that you could still be a spy without having passed one. So that basically destroys any impact that event had in both Chuck and Sarah’s growth. Its the same problem I had with the PSP. If Orion had that all along what was the point of his arc in S2? Its the inconsistency with story elements that directly impact the characters or their history that hurt the show IMO. Its hard to become invested when the majority of story will be ignored, hand waved away or resurrected down the road. I’m not saying this is something new but I do think after four seasons its starting to pile up and weighing the show down. Of course once again it’s all personal preference and for some fans it might not at all.

      Now I agree with you about the whole killing issue, the way the show handles it is a little odd. Like you said Chuck has indirectly killed multiple people already. But I think that’s a topic for another day.

  10. Gringo Chuck Fan says:

    Hola Hermano – thanks for your ” Chronicles of Chuck and Sarah”:)
    I did the big season 4.5 rewatch last night…. gaaaa I hate this long wait between episodes!
    I find that it’s always really interesting to rewatch the little intro montage…:
    ” Hi this is Chuck… ~in case you just forgot ” sequences ~ they reinforce the main direction of the show and characters.
    Loved your analysis of Chuck and Sarah, and their ultimate destination:
    Notice when Sarah first meets Volkoff [ when she’s gone rogue] – and she gives her reasons for leaving the CIA – it was basically to run away with Chuck!!! ~ so there is your ultimate confession right from Sarah.
    Chuck seems to be a little less direct though; The illusion of being a ‘hero’ has been replaced, [in his interview/debrief with Vivian], he explains the way his life has changed – how he has embraced this ‘opportunity’, and how happy he is, now that his life has purpose- direction- and LOVE! … The way he gets to make a difference, and help people. We see that as being a hero [ so does Sarah] – Chuck sees this not so much for himself [his destiny]… more of what they do as a TEAM.
    I think that Chuck is probably the first one to make the distinction – that he is not the intersect – but has or hosts the intersect… as if its a separate entity.
    I like them as the reverse elements from the Wizard of Oz.
    Chuck has the Brains, Casey has the Courage, Sarah has the Heart… and they are all trying to find their way home.

  11. joe says:

    Amazing post, Ernie. After years of watching and thinking about all this, it’s still an education.

    @KG: Sarah’s words “He loves me. He wants to marry me.” – Those words are quite amazing, aren’t they? It seems like their meaning is soooo very dependent on who’s saying them and how they’re being said. You’re right that the words are not at all about Sarah’s feelings (they speak of Chuck’s). But yet, they are.

    The words show something like amazement that such a thing is possible or that it’s true. It’s hard for me to imagine why Sarah Walker can’t believe it (until now) but it seems that’s the case. Was Sarah’s world so sterile that she had given up on the possibility that she could be loved – for real?

    I think so.

    • Faith says:

      We return to them basically being the same person Joe. Years of abandonment and life dealing hard knocks wears on one’s confidence until that one person comes along and makes you feel worthy. You can’t, won’t lose that. And you find yourself on almost daily basis cherishing the lucky star in the sky that brought that “something” into your life.

      • kg says:

        Right Faith. I think it was Leftovers when Sarah brought that up directly to Chuck comparing her situation to Chuck’s mom’s.

        What was originally described as another piece of cake manipulation of a nerd eventually turned into the best thing that ever happened to Sarah.

    • kg says:

      Me too Joe. Sarah knows she’s hot. And she’s used her looks to manipulate men. But you get the sense it was something she loathed. Until she met Chuck, the men she knew left her, were spy types who were attractive, but not always trustwothy, or scammer and pigs; guys obviously interested because of her stunning exterior beauty.

      As we’ve said in the past, Chuck delved deeper and touched her. He found the girl in her. Touched her, I once said, without touching her physically.

      He had been telling her for a year and half how strongly he felt for her, but Ernie nailed it. He gave her a clean slate in Cougars and impressed her with his respect for her privacy about her past. And then acknowledgement that she was a special person in her own right. That she was more than a spy.

      And then when Chuck was close to losing himself in Phase Three, it was Sarah guilt ridden and frightened reminding him that “I’m nothing without you. I’m nothing but a spy.” And of course she pulls him out and back to consciousness.

  12. uplink2 says:

    Great read as always Ernie. I agree with a great deal of what you said, however I have to also agree somewhat with those that don’t necessarily see it coming. I do believe that the best season could come in season 5 and though I would love for the show to continue even further past season 5, I’m not sure the stories are there for it. I’d love to see a conclusion to the journey that is known before it starts and have it written in a very similar way to how you describe it.

    I would love to see the final journey that is Sarah Walker displayed with her having the joy of a family of her own. I would also love for Ellie’s, Chuck’s and Orion’s stories to finish with a non-weapon use for the Intersect that is a benefit to mankind. I believe that is the only way that Ellie would chose to become fully involved. She would do it to help and protect Chuck certainly but it would need to have further implications for her to continue. But I do believe that is the road we are about to head down as well. It is being teased that the laptop drives the story all the way to the season finale and I think that is a real plus for these remaining 5. It is also being teased that the chances for renewal have gotten a little better as well. All this points to a possible fantastic season 5 which I hope we get. However I think that I am still a bit gunshy because I thought the same thing about a fantastic season 3 after the developments of the Orion and Chuck/Sarah relationship arcs at the end of season 2. To say that I was disappointed with what we got is pretty obvious in my time here.

    However I do believe that if they follow the path you have outlined here the remaining disappointment I feel could easily be washed away and end the show with a level of greatness I once felt it was destined for and should have achieved only to see it settle for less. I guess I’m hopeful but I’m still feeling a certain level of caution that I hope to be proven wrong about in the end.

  13. Ernie Davis says:

    I almost forgot I had the best reason to keep the Buy More around till the very end. In the penultimate episode Ellie, who has moved into Castle to continue her research in safety, gets distracted when Clara wanders off and inadvertantly leaves the entrance to Castle open. Jeff wanders in and get’s intersected with Ellie’s more limited benign version, whereupon they realize the intersect has the potential to cure brain damage based on Jeff’s subsequent behavior. Jeff of course remembers nothing of castle or even being intersected since the intersect doesn’t cure innebriation.

    Alternative version, both Jeff and Lester are intersected and their newfound musical abilities turn Jeffster into the number one rock band in the world.

    • Tamara Burks says:

      Interesting idea. That would make a great fic.

      I think they should have the BuyMorians discover Castle and spy world and not only realize what’s going on but remember it. I thought we were going to get close to it in Muuurder when Lester asked Jeff about the movement from the explosion.

  14. patty says:

    I think that a theme this season has been leadership. Bently’s, Beckmans and now Chuck’s. I see this as a potential theme. Boy becomes man…man becomes spy… spy becomes leader. I see next season at least in part having Chuck take on more and more of a leadership role in reguards to the Intersect Project and the spy world as a whole. Throughout the series it has been shown that Chuck is a natural leader who lacks confidence and experience. He has been gaining both and now is ready to move toward a leadership position in the spy world. (of course the road will be rocky 🙂 )

    • patty says:

      I should have said the spy world in general not as a whole!!

    • Faith says:

      Interesting point Patty. I said a couple of weeks ago that the premise of “leadership” has been done and revisiting it shouldn’t have worked but you’re right. I didn’t see it as you conveyed but you’re totally right, Chuck’s strength as a leader both as one that goes on his own, risks it all for his mom or takes down Volkoff on the strength of his brain has been a theme this season. We see a bit of it here and there (which is largely why I was WTF when people say Chuck’s been overshadowed this season) but it’s more than I presumed.

  15. thinkling says:

    Great post Ernie. Excellent recap of the journey so far and prediction of the rest to come. I find myself agreeing with you most of the way through, except for minor caveats where I echoed Dave under his comments.

    Your paragraph about Chuck’s not being a spy … I totally agree and the whole FOD bit. Sarah accepts him as an agent, his own style of agent, but at the deepest level she needs him not to be a spy. The part of him that will never be a spy is the part that keeps her from being nothing but a spy.

    Here’s hoping we get season 5, the Orion legacy and the family. Then I’d like a few seasons of epilogues, thank you. 😉 🙂

    • atcDave says:

      Epilogues are good. Ever notice in the book “Return of the King” the epilogue is almost as long as the main body? So I conclude a long epilogue is genius!

      • thinkling says:

        I think a season (or more) of epilogue would indeed be genius. It could essentially resets things enough to open a wealth of new story direction while leaving enough things in place so that it’s still Chuck.

        Then we can have Chuck for 5 more years.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      You know, you might be on to something. Pretty much all of HIMYM is telling about the past… In other words the show only exists from the epilogue. If Chuck got a season 6 it could be Chuck, Sarah, Ellie, Awesome, Morgan and even Casey telling very episodic stories from the old days. We could revisit missing episodes as far back as season 1, or some that we’ve always wanted to see, but never got the situation, like the night Ellie and Sarah got drunk and Sarah spilled everything. Or how about the famous bathtub scene worked into an episode. There are possibilities here, even if they do wind up the Happily Ever After.

      • ArmySFC says:

        i don’t know if i agree with you or not. HIMYM is told in much the same manner as a person reading you a book. each episode falls in an orderly fashion same as a book. just each chapter is stand alone. granted they do a lot of flashing back during some episodes. as for the epilogue can you have one when the story is not finished? HIMYM is a man telling his kid/kids how he met their mother. the mother is not known yet.

  16. Faith says:

    Great read. I’m not sure I agree with the bulk of it, but certainly an interesting read and point of view.

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

    A couple of things stood out when reading your post. One was your discussion about the 13th episodes of each season. The other was the statement that “Chuck & Sarah just happened”.

    Of the four 13th episodes, really Marlin was the best. I wasn’t meant as a finale, but it actually worked quite well as one.

    Third Dimension? Well…

    Other Guy & Push Mix. We will never know just how much, if any these episodes were altered because of more episodes added late in the season. But one thing is certain, these are two of the most bi-polar episodes in the entire series.

    On the one hand, these episodes give us all the scenes we’ve waited all season to see. On the other hand, all these episodes do is give us all the scenes we’ve waited all season to see. They do absolutely nothing to resolves the hundreds (yes, hyperbole) of dangling story threads that came before. As stated in your post, “Chuck and Sarah just happened”, and quite frankly, that sucked. DYLM is an “outstanding” scene, but needed setup from 3 or 4 episodes previous in order to make the season arc ”OK” (the S3 arc never had a chance at being much more than “OK”, and it never got there). The saving Mama B arc certainly happened in Push Mix, but the Hydra angle that seemed to be the main reason for a 20 year mission (blech) was weak and was too little too late to resolve the overarching story.

    I will however give kudos on the proposal. It WAS setup nicely in previous episodes and didn’t come out of thin air to resolve a story point.

    That being said, I can’t disagree with your views on a (hopeful) S5. As you say, “One mission at a time won’t be enough”. However, I do hope that TPTB adopt a one (or two, or three) episode at a time motto and completely shy away from the season long arc.

    • atcDave says:

      Agree about the arcs Joseph, shorter is better!

    • Tamara Burks says:

      I loved Push Mix but you’re right , we really need a better explanantion for why it took her 20 years. Heck we need one for why she took the assignment in the first place since taking down a organization from the inside is a long term assignment at best. Chuck was able to take him down quickly but that was with prior knowledge , Mama B and Sarah on the inside and his use of tech that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Not to mention he had a plan, we don’t know what the heck mama B’s original plan was but it obviously didn’t work.

      And Other Guy ‘s biggest problem to me was Sarah going off to Paris with Shaw , arm in arm no less. One thing we learned from American hero is that Sarah as a girlfriend meant less to him than his half baked revenge plan which even if it had worked would have done very little damage to the Ring ( We saw later that taking out that Director didn’t take out the Ring . ).

      We also saw Shaw pretty much act like he was tossing the keys to a rent a wreck to Chuck because he was done with it (Sarah) . Sarah saw that she meant that little to him as well yet she still went with him to Paris (where she killed his wife) . Things like that is why a lot of people would like Sarah to admit her behavior with Shaw made no sense whatsoever.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Tamara

        I don’t think we’ll ever get such an admission from Sarah because there isn’t any sane or coherent explanation for her behavior for the entire season, right up to 3.18 when she sees Shaw for the first time since Paris and blurts out “Oh my God…Daniel!!!”. Considering Shaw’s actions in Paris, that simply isn’t a sane reaction.

        By my count, there are at least 3 different Sarah Walkers in S3. So, either the character of Sarah was being used as a plot device to meet the requirements of the current arc or episode, OR Sarah is nuts.

        If Sarah Walker is a schizophrenic, with multiple personalities, that would explain a great deal of S3. But I think that the first possibility is the most likely one; Sarah exists only to support the characters of Chuck and Shaw (who the TPTB seem to identify with as much or more than Chuck himself). She doesn’t seem to have an independent existence in S3, and her actions just don’t make any sense.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        In that OMG scene you could see Chuck, Papa B and Casey turn and look at her when she said that with a look like what did she say.

        WTF, Shaw would have been a much better response to come out of her mouth .

        She shouldn’t have been wearing those earings in ep 17 either. I can see her keeping them because they are expensive and she could sell them in hard times but not wearing them considering who gave them to her.

  18. Robert H says:

    Well Ernie nice to see at least one person agrees with me that Chuck Bartowski was never meant to be a spy. He was not fit for the job either by ability,training, personality, or his own nature nor did he posess the necessary ruthlessness to survive
    on his own in that kind of environment. The intersect allowed him to play at it, that’s all and everyone knew that-except for him. Bentley’s brutal but true evaluation of him not to mention her scorn in the last two episodes was right on and our hero still is operating under his delusion.

    Which is where the series went wrong. As long as he wasn’t a spy and trying to get out
    of a situation he neither asked for or wanted, one had sympathy for his predicament and rooted for the character. Once this was changed in Season 3 the long downward slide started which continues to this day. Once the character lost his credibility the show over a period of time lost its audience. Obviously other factors played a role as well but I think this was a major one that made a huge difference.

    Over the last week or so I’ve watched Seasons 1 and 2 and compared the episodes to
    Seasons 3 and 4. The character is just not the same and cannot function effectively in
    the spy environment on his own. Portraying the character as something he just isn’t
    hurt the show and its credibility which is one reason the bleeding off of viewers continues. I know others will disagree and that’s fine but that is the way I see it.

    If there is a Season 5, assuming they get 22 episodes, maybe all of this will be resolved.
    Given what’s happened in the last 2 years I would doubt it but one can always hope.

    I do agree with you that ultimately they both need to get out of it permanently at some point if they are to have a real future together and they both expressed that wish
    ironically enough in seasons 1and 2 the best of the 4 seasons of the show. If a season 5
    does become a reality, maybe they will get that chance.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Robert, while it’s nice you agree I think you miss my point. In fact you probably inspired another excessive discourse on heroes. Chuck is a hero, not a spy. He’s better than a spy. He can live and in fact dominate the world of spies not through their methods, but through his. Spies value emotionless detachment, discarding people as necessary, casual brutality and total disregard for the lives of others, innocents included. Here’s a hint, Sarah hasn’t been much of a spy since we met her, and that’s what the intersectless arc was about.

      Mary and Volkoff, they were spies, and both Chuck and Sarah’s trust in Mary and each others judgement eventually risked the entire family.

      In Fear of Death Rye was sort of a personification of a kind of Chuck as a normal spy. Ebulient, but also careless with the lives of others and cruel. Chuck is a hero. He doubted Rye, but he was willing to do what he thought would help him regain the intersect, because he understands that it allows him and his team to be different from every other spy and team out there. We see that Chuck does have a lot to offer other than the intersect. He’s smart, intuitive, resourceful and brave. He’s just not a brutal killer. Chuck is not in denial about that. He is put in a situation however, where because of the pace of events and his lame partner he has to decide to either allow the mission to fail, or to risk everything, including his life. As a hero he’s willing to risk his life, Sarah isn’t, and says so explicitly (not much of a spy is she). What Chuck isn’t willing to do is what Rye tells him he must, discard people you love and your values to be a spy like every other.

      So we see Chuck will never be a spy not because he needs the intersect to be one, but because he will not discard those things that, as Sarah says, make him great. By choosing his values over being a “spy” it makes him uniquely qualified, morally, to weild the ultimate weapon and his father’s creation, the intersect. We saw what happens when you give the intersect to “real spies”.

      Now, this is all great setup for Phase 3, because this is where Sarah faces a similar test. We’ve seen what Chuck’s life as a spy would be like without Sarah and the intersect. Short. But this is a wonderful callback to season 2 themes where Chuck couldn’t protect himself and Sarah had to be more of a spy. Sarah the Giant Blonde Shemale and Wildcard Enforcer is more of a season 1 and season 2 Sarah, only moreso than we’d ever seen. She’s willing to discard her partners, brutalize and torture and rampage through Thailand to protect Chuck (theoretically the intersect, but even in season 2 we knew it was more about Chuck), and caring about nothing but the mission was effective up to a point. The point where Chuck was physically saved and the intersect safe from being sold. The CIA would say mission accomplished, too bad about the loss of the agent. Sarah at that point had to rely on emotion and opening herself up to save both herself and Chuck. Dare I say it? Genius.

      I guess I don’t see it the same as some. I don’t expect Chuck or Sarah to be perfect, yet each imperfect moment they have is often called character regression or mischaracterization. I think it’d be a boring show if you never had any weakness or mistakes by our heroes. I want them human, spies are boring.

      • JC says:

        @Ernie

        Two points

        Your description of spies on the show goes against how most of the good ones have been portrayed. You probably hit on what they were intended but it didn’t come off one screen that way. This has probably hurt the show story wise more than anything, one minute the CIA is goofy and the next its a gang.

        I’m wondering if you agree with the notion that some of Chuck’s regression as a spy is a way for the show to keep him an everyman and connected to the audience.

      • thinkling says:

        Bravo, Ernie. Well said. I agree 100%.

        The biggest tell is Sarah’s words to Chuck before he goes off with Rye, Chuck, don’t … don’t be a hero. Just come home safe to me. Chuck’s unique moral qualifications to wield the Intersect make it imperative that he have the Intersect (and/or Sarah) to survive. Sarah knows what will happen if Chuck is … himself on this mission. She’s asking him not to be himself, which she knows is pretty useless. She can only hope that somehow he survives, and with Rye for protection … well, he might as well go with Morgan.

        Spies value emotionless detachment, discarding people as necessary, casual brutality and total disregard for the lives of others, innocents included. Here’s a hint, Sarah hasn’t been much of a spy since we met her. The spy world is typically full of spies, who do some heroic things (but they also do some pretty unheroic things). Chuck is a hero who inhabits the spy world, but as you say, plays by his own rules. Sarah is in between. I believe she is more of a hero who lost her way in the spy world, and since Chuck, she’s been more the hero and less the spy. He draws out who she really is, both the hero and the real girl.

        Whatever, I agree that the Intersect-less arc was genius … on multiple levels.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC

        one minute the CIA is goofy and the next its a gang

        I’m not sure I’d agree with that.

        As for going against how the good spies are portrayed, pretty much every spy other than Team B has been shown as inferior, so I’m not sure who you are talking about. Even Bryce laid out the same thing to Chuck in Breakup. It is the portrayal of the spy world rules we’ve been shown from the start. Sarah and Casey shouldn’t get attached to Chuck, because he’ll eventually be a liability to be disposed of. Sarah can’t and shouldn’t open up to Chuck because it interferes with her ability to do her job. Sarah should think of nothing more than the next mission. The fact that we are often shown these rules by the consequences of breaking them, even though the consequences aren’t necessarily fatal, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie id like to address this comment. “As for going against how the good spies are portrayed, pretty much every spy other than Team B has been shown as inferior, so I’m not sure who you are talking about.”

        of course they have. how would you as a fan feel if every team or spy they encountered was better than team B? the writers make them inferior on purpose. it’s a script written to make team b look their best, often defying the laws of physics, math and any know science.

        as for how they are portrayed as cold and heartless, i think that in itself causes some fans problems. the reason being there are just as many movies and TV shows that show the complete opposite of that. that spies can have families and a good life outside the spy life.

        you mentioned the painting of a canvas and how we fill in the blanks. you fill in your blanks one way, i another and others in their own way. are any of us really wrong? not really. interpretation leaves a lot up to the viewer much like an abstract artist. what he sees when he paints may not match up with the people who view the paintings.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, Impressionism isn’t everyone’s bag, but my point about filling in has limits. Some elements of the story help provide some context, and when those are ignored or missed people tend to draw conclusions. I am trying to give my POV to establish that there is another way to see that scene outside what someone else may have concluded because they missed the necessary hints. When dealing with a (sorry folks) Hero’s Journey there is an underlying context, like there is for a slasher film or romantic commedy. I think I can provide some of that on occasion, so I try to.

      • atcDave says:

        Excellent comments Ernie on Hero vs. Spy. Agree entirely on all, even the value of the Intersectless arc. Thank you for being articulate!

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie i agree with that. that maybe the trouble with chuck as a show. i’m a viewer. i shouldn’t have to watch an episode countless times to see the finer points the show runners want you to see. you yourself said the last episode was ehh until you did re-watches. does the normal fan do that? no and the numbers prove that. i don’t think the normal fans ignore the bad points in an episode either. they see what is presented on the surface and what sticks out to them on the first viewing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, I’ve enjoyed every episode on the first viewing this season. Some I’ve enjoyed more on a second or third. A few times I missed the context of something on the initial viewing, so I’ve needed to watch again before writing about it. I find that the more I put into watching the show the more I get out of it. On the surface it’s a light funny and occasionally thrilling and dramatic show. If you want to dig deeper there is a lot more there. I want to dig deeper. I don’t want to be spoon-fed and told what to feel or told why I should care. I want to feel and care.

        You seem to be in a unique position. You want to watch once and then comment on the deeper subtler aspects of the show or tell us all about the failings of the show or the characters on multiple levels. I can’t help you or anyone else with that.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie nice talking with you. i don’t agree with much you say because we look at the show a different way, our tastes in humor vary as well. i know we will never agree so i will refrain from commenting on your posts from now on.

        keep this in mind though, for a show that is a good as you claim viewership has dropped over 25%. maybe i’m not alone in my thoughts.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, your solution sounds fine with me.

      • kg says:

        I loved when she barked at Beckman with fierce incredulity at the beginning of Phase Three, “Forget the secrets, this is about Chuck.”

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, KG. I liked that, too. I also loved it when she told Casey not to give her advice, ” … Don’t … I know.”

  19. Robert H says:

    P.S. read NBC was down 20% overall and down 40% in the demo Monday night with
    the President’s special, The Event 1.2 (looks like it’s a goner) Harry’s Law 1.6. the interesting thing in the article was that it said NBC was 20% lower than it would have been if Chuck had been on the air. The article was on examiner.com on the bottom of this page for Monday night ratings. The gist of the article was that this could
    help Chuck in that NBC tried something else that did much worse than Chuck in that time slot so maybe there might be some hope here on the renewal question.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Tamara B, you are definitely my doppelganger. Robert H, right on. The two main characters that drive the show, “Charah” if you will, have certainly been damaged in credibility.The efforts at redemption by TPTB and bloggers in general have been admirable, but how can one explain the missteps of S3 that have created the necessity of explanations of S4 and the subsequent ratings decline? IMO, it’s easy . In S3, they cast “Superman” and destroyed the show by attempting to portray something for which they laid no foundation because of casting Routh. Not only the Sham pairing , but the eventual reconciliation of Charah , lacked clarity in why our heroes did what they did. A shame really, for a show that was destined for greatness, now…..it’s just mediocre entertainment. Words cannot express my remorse at the opportunity lost. That said, I still hope we can get a season 5. There’s always hope that the mess they made can be rectified, but my true fear is for them it’s a job. It’s just a gig. They have never ” felt it” the way the fans do.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      Agreed. And I’m afraid that you’re correct.

    • Big Kev says:

      You know, Anon, I thnk that’s a pretty harsh call. You’ll know if you’re a regular here that I don’t think the show has quite been the same since Season 2, but I don’t think for a minute that the people working 15 hour plus days on this show, living and breathing it every day, don’t “feel it”. In fact, I’m pretty convinced that no matter how much I love the show and the fandom, it still means more to them than it does to me. I’m just not sure you could survive in a creative, high-pressure industry, working those hours, putting a part of yourself out there for our approval every week if you didn’t “feel it”. I can switch off at work if I’m not “feeling it” – pretty hard to do that in front of a camera, or if the script that you’re writing is going to be judged by 5 million reviewers every week. I commented the other week after seeing Chris Fedak at C2E2, that it was great to see the passion that he still has for the show, and I absolutely stand by that.
      Whatever has happened over the course of 4 years, whatever has worked or not worked, I choose to believe that every decision has been made in good faith, by people trying their best to put a quality product to air every week. Yes, some of the reasons for those decisions may be hard-nosed and “commercial” rather than creative – but still, they’ve done what they’ve done with the best of intentions. Some stuff didn’t work at all, and other stuff works for others but not for me. It happens. I’m never going to question the motivations of people who work so hard to entertain me.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Kev…i agree with anon to a point. we are fans highly vested in one show less in others. for the actors its not their only gig. zac and yvonne have both done other work while doing chuck. the actors have also done other work prior to chuck. look at adam, how many movies has he been in? they may like the character they are portraying but do you really think they feel the same as the fans do for each role they play? the new writers have just one year with the crew. CS has 2 shows going now. he’s right to them it is a job.

        my best argument is season three. if they felt the same as the fans here, would they have shown it the way it was or would they have changed it? if they felt like the fans, would they even hint about the season ending with issues not resolved.

        many actors have opted out of contracts to seek better work. i believe they give it all, but to them it is still a job.

      • Big Kev says:

        Army,
        It’s not so much the inference that it might be “just a job” that I object to (although I think there are better ways to express that sentiment) – it’s the implication that somehow, because I’m a committed fan, the show means more to me than the people who actually work on it. I just think that’s an assumption too far.
        Ultimately, I get to turn the show off if it frustrates me too much, or I don’t like where it’s going. End of engagement, if I choose it to be.
        But Chris, Josh, Zac, Yvonne, and the rest of the cast have an emotional and practical engagement in this show beyond anything I have as a fan. They’re the ones working the hours, slaving over every word in a script, and putting their professional reputations (and possibly their careers) on the line every week. They are, in every sense, the ones with their metaphorical “stones” on the line. In an all-consuming industry like Hollywood, for as long as they work on the show, it’s bound to consume their life way more than it consumes mine.
        If that level of engagement is ever reversed, then I’m probably taking a TV show too seriously, and they probably won’t be employed for too long!

      • ArmySFC says:

        kev, good points. i think dedication is more like it. what you are saying is almost impossible. that each show or movie they fell the same as the fans. what you need to remember is you feel one way about the show. i’ll use what you said…what if a fan that thinks the show is just ok? in his/her mind she would believe the actors only care as much as they do. fans that gave up would think they hate it as well.

        these people are professionals at what they do. do you think that anthony hopkins liked the character he portrayed in silence of the lambs? i’m sure you have had crap days at work and pushed through it, maybe you got stuck on a project you didn’t like but pushed through it. that’s what they do if they don’t like whats going on.

        the closest thing i can equate to what your saying is a doctor. can they afford to get close to every dying patient? it’s the same as an actor or writer or show runner. i think we see things different than they do.

      • herder says:

        I tend to agree with Big Kev, TPTB have to love the show as much if not more than we do. One of the things that they did in the first two seasons was have jaw dropping moments; Bryce coming back in Hard Salami, Sarah’s indecision in Nemisis, Bryce’s return in Seduction, Ned’s turn in Santa Claus, Chuck’s chart in Lethal Weapon and “Guys, I know kung fu”.

        I think that they planned to have that type of thing for season 3, multiple jaw droppers leading to Chuck and Sarah being together at the end. I also think they really beleived this would be a great story for their fans. It didn’t play out in execution and it wasn’t well received, but I beleive their intentions were good.

        I think that as a result this year has been more cautious than previous years. I also think that Ernie’s idea of one last 22 episode season to wrap things up would be great as it would allow TPTB to tell their story as they see fit, to take risks that they feel they can’t because of renewal concerns. One last year to let it all hang out, go out with a bang.

        Personally I’m over the anger with season 3, we’ve had 73 episodes, 25 since Chuck and Sarah got together, one third of the whole series. At some point it’s time to let go of season 3 and enjoy what is on the screen from week to week, and by my tastes what I see from week to week is pretty awesome so I’m happy.

      • atcDave says:

        Believe it or not I mostly agree with Big Kev on this. I think most people associated with the show are committed and enthusiastic. Where Kev and I have disagreed before is mainly how that relates to entertaining their audience. Specifically, I think there’s a tendency at the top to get too focused on a story or end point; and loose perspective on how it’s going to play with the audience. But in no way is that a lack of enthusiasm or zeal; if anything it’s the opposite. I have complete confidence TPTB love what they’re doing; and that is part of what has Chuck a great show.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      First off, I would like to make clear that I have no complaints about the cast or the production crew of Chuck, and I never have. If anything, a complaint I have about the writers is that they sometimes forget that a great cast can magnify the impact of a script. I don’t even have much to complain about regarding the writers; they do as they’re told, and I’ve never heard that the writers have script approval (other than Mr. Fedak, of course). My concerns are with Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, the people who determine the show’s direction.

      I can’t speak for Anonymous, but I don’t think the fans care more for the show than TPTB. This is CF’s first show and the interview from C2E2 gives you a good idea of his investment in Chuck. Even JS comes across as involved, and he is working on a number of current and possible shows. What worries me is not their enthusiasm, but their viewpoint, how they see the show. We see Chuck as entertainment, they see Chuck as a product, something that they have made. For the first two seasons, this wasn’t a problem. But something happened in the 3rd season; they decided to modify the product and maybe getting a “real” movie star to portray Shaw went to their heads and disoriented them completely. It’s as good an explanation as any.

      Now, I realize that many people have complaints about S4; I see the points that people have made and I understand your positions. But for me, S4 has been just the escape that I need; I’m enjoying it immensely and I can watch almost any episode (Leftovers is the only exception) over again at any time. Does this mean that TPTB “get” it? I don’t know, I just take every episode as it comes along and I hope they don’t screw up. But if they’re trying to fix the damage done by S3, they haven’t done enough. The season 3 finale saw a loss of 2.64 million from the S3 premiere, and we seem to have lost even more viewers this season.

      I want more Chuck please, but barring a miracle during the wedding and/or significant support from the network, it looks like the current viewers are probably all they’re going to get in the future.

      It could have been so much more.

      • uplink2 says:

        @VV You and I have a very similar view of the show. I agree with the great majority of your postings and this is no exception. I would contrast with you on one point here:

        But if they’re trying to fix the damage done by S3, they haven’t done enough.

        For me, though I believe they have tried to correct for that damage, they should probably abandon that simply because it can’t ever be done completely without a time machine. Fedak stated in his C2E2 interview they still believe that Shaw was a great villain. Now I would agree that he was much better in that role but to me at least Volkoff has been far superior. But be that as it may one thing I find very interesting is that in no interview that I have seen or read since the Mo Ryan interview last season do they ever talk about Shaw and the misery arc. Whenever they bring him up it is always about season 3.5 and his role as a villain. That fact alone speaks volumes to me. In their position it would be extremely unlikely for them to ever come out and say they screwed up with the trapazoid but the “we’ve learned our lesson” comment is about as close as they can come to admitting it. And much of season 4 says that as well.

        That being said for me at least I have started to come to terms with the fact that the heights that this show can reach as a whole will never be as high as they could have been if they went a different direction last season. I absolutely love season 4 and it is my favorite so far but I’ve started to come to terms with the idea that my view of the show is different than theirs. I just have to accept that and enjoy it for what it is in reality not what I think it could have been.

        Shrinking ratings are a natural occurrence for a show like this over time and that is probably the main reason for the slide but I do believe that part of it started with the fans disinterest and rejection of the direction and execution of last season. And to some smaller degree this season. Not everyone is going to love season 4 as much as I do and I get that but I think they are still putting out a great product that is a joy to watch. These last 5 of the season I hope will bring many of the spy story first folks back into the fold like the back 6 did for the shippers last season.

        All in all I guess my point is that we can’t change the past and I just have to live with the disappointment of what could have been. I still love the show and am as enthusiastic about these next 5 as I have been about any episodes in the past but I think I’m finally turning the corner and just accepting that their vision was different than mine and I will never like that part of it. But what I do like has been some of the best television I have ever seen.

      • atcDave says:

        You guys know I agree almost entirely. I do think S4 has been the best season ever. S3 left a bitter, sick feeling with me; and I’m sure a lot of the viewers we lost felt the same way, and won’t be coming back. But TPTB have made amends as completely as possible, and I’m content to just move forward, as long as the show can last.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, just wanted to tell you how thankful I am that you have turned me on to so much great FF. It has become a nightly staple for me right now with so much great material. I have read many great stories where the authors have a very similar view to how the direction of the show could have gone and to a great extent it is what is allowing me to put much of my disappointment about last season behind me.

      • ArmySFC says:

        uplink this goes with what you are saying. its taken from a piece done on the benefits and draw backs of serialized shows. these are NOT my thoughts.

        Landgraf spoke candidly about the difficulty of making serialized dramas work on basic cable. He noted that viewers seem to watch only reality series and sports live and prefer to view serialized shows in blocks of several episodes at a time on their DVRs. That hurts ratings tremendously and puts a lot of pressure on scripted programming, which doesn’t come cheap –

        Serial drama requires the trust of the audience. Trust that things will be brought to a satisfying conclusion and that loose ends will be tied up or at least addressed.

        There are a few difficulties with this. One is that if a show is popular, why bring it to a conclusion? Once you’ve decided to run forever it is harder to tell certain stories.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Uplink2 – sorry it took me so long to reply. I pretty much agree with everything you and Dave post, although I think that the two of you are more temperate than I am.

        After reading your post, I had to find that C2E2 interview and watch it again. That is where Fedak says “There is no time machine”, and I think that is an indication of how both TPTB think in regard to S3: “we’ll just keep going and eventually, the audience will let go of their objections to the Shaw arc”. I think they’re wrong.

        When you and Herder write of coming to terms with S3, I think that is a sign of healthy, mature personalities. When someone tells me that I have to grow up because I’m an immature, pretentious loudmouth with literary delusions, well…Touche’.

        But if anyone expects the audience to grow up, let go, move on or get past something they don’t like, they’re kidding themselves. The audience doesn’t have to do ANYTHING; no one pays them. They either watch or they don’t watch. When they do watch, and I believe Dave has posted this before, their viewing of the show is a gift of time and attention that should be appreciated. When S3 was made, it wasn’t. The audience went elsewhere, by the millions.

        I’ve been working in sales, marketing and customer service for a very long time. Since summer of 2010, I’ve been trying to sell Chuck; I’ve gotten 10 households to watch the show (among my extended family, I’m known as the Crazy Uncle Who likes Chuck). But I can’t sell season 3. I can’t think of how to pitch S3 to the 7 households of new viewers, so I just suggest that they skip to 3.14-16 and go back to the others when they finished S4.

        With the people who left the show; Dave is right, if you can get them to watch S4, they’ll come back. But getting 4 of those 5 people to just watch one S4 episode required multiple sessions of what felt like primal scream therapy, and a promise that Chuck was nothing like S3 anymore. I’d rather not talk about my three failures.

        Season 3 did damage; the only ways I can see now to fix that damage are retcons: bring back Stephen Bartowski and/or have Sarah tell Chuck she and Shaw were never lovers. I can’t see either one happening. But if they don’t fix that damage, then bringing Shaw back or breaking Chuck & Sarah up in S5 will do MORE damage.

        I’ll keep watching no matter what, but I’m not optimistic.

      • uplink2 says:

        @VV do you have a link to that C2E2 interview? I don’t remember him saying that in the version I saw so I’d like to see it for myself before commenting further.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Uplink2 I believe it is in this interview:

        I got the quote wrong, he actually says “It’s not like a time travel show where you can go back in time…”

        It is after the 7:30 mark of the interview.

        The audio has a lot of background noise because it was done in common room of some kind. By the way, you’re absolutely right, they do a pretty good job of skating around Shaw where ever they can. When the interviewer brings up Shaw and Jill at the end, Fedak starts stuttering a bit, and seems somewhat taken aback.

      • uplink2 says:

        @VV

        I was actually wondering about this quote:
        “we’ll just keep going and eventually, the audience will let go of their objections to the Shaw arc” or is that just a characterization on your part of what they are thinking?

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Uplink2

        I should have used something other than quotes to break out that line. It is not a quote from anything that I have heard Schwartz or Fedak say, it is, as you say, a characterization of what I believe they are thinking.

        Their refusal to discuss Shaw except as a Great Villain, even to the point where they won’t even mention his name in the show when Orion’s death is referred to, suggests that they are trying a OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND strategy. A problem with that is that it was the pre-villain Shaw that did all of the damage.

        My apologies for not being more clear.

      • atcDave says:

        Isn’t that an interesting truth, that it was pre-villain Shaw that did all the damage to the show and characters.

      • ArmySFC says:

        what astounds me about season 3 is a statement CF made. it may be in the c2e2 video i’m not sure. he said it was always their intention to get chuck and sarah together in season 3. they had a screwed up way of doing it.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        It didn’t help that they cast someone who sucks at drama and 99 percent of what he did on the show was drama (except for Chuck’s dream) .

        Routh can be funny but in drama you start to fall asleep as soon as he appears on screen. I hope that he’s permanantly embraced the route that Leslie Neilsen took late in life and won’t try to do drama again. The fact that the movie he has coming out seems to be a comedy is a good sign of that.

        Neilsen was cast in the handsome leading man roles early in his career and he was stiff and wooden in them, later he was cast in Airplane and the absurd lines combined with the wooden delivery (and his willingness to do anything) made comedy history. He’s riding that niche all the way to the bank.

        But they do seem to try to pretend that Shaw didn’t exist, the closest we’ve gotten to mentions are Volkoff saying that Papa B was killed by the Ring and the line in First Fight about Sarah only trusting people Beckman ordered her to trust.

      • uplink2 says:

        Here is a post I made at ChuckTV that kind of fits this discussion I believe.

        This shows where the idea of building your show from the destination backwards leads to problems. A show should IMO be built like a logical and natural progression of character growth and not an attempt to fit a story to a destination. This is one of the reasons that seasons 1 and 2 are looked at differently than seasons 3 and 4. Seasons 1 and 2 built the story week to week for the most part. Character growth happened and though not always, each week was a natural growth from the previous weeks. However in season 3.0 and 4.0 both it seems like many episodes were forced in order to get to the planned destination. They really weren’t a natural growth and we got way too much tell them, don’t show them. Now it depends on what story you like as to how you deal with that. 3.0 I hated and 4.0 I love but for others it is the opposite whereas because of the natural progression 1 and 2 are generally perceived very positively. Now 3.5 and 4.5 have fit more into the model of progression and are or will probably be much better received by the audience. These last 5 episodes look like the best build to a season finale yet to me at least. I just hope enough people stay and we get a few more folks to give us one more shot at the best season yet with a great series finale.

      • JC says:

        @Uplink

        Someone here coined the term Mauser mop, when it comes to the show ignoring or sweeping away something they don’t want to get into. This for me had been the hallmark of the last two seasons and why I’ve had problems with the story. We’ve come to expect it with the spy stuff and mythology but its happening during character moments more frequently mainly between Chuck and Sarah. No resolution or repercussions to their actions.

      • herder says:

        Tamara, there may have been one other oblique reference to Shaw in A Team, when the Greta’s scolded Sarah for being romantically involved with her partner, “..you should know”. I thought that could refer to Bryce who to the business was first a traitor then dead, or Shaw who tried to kill her. Think about it, why should it be obvious that it was bad to be involved with Chuck if not for the previous disasters.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with Dave about S4 being the best ever and TPTB making amends as best they can.

        On another topic of this Nile long thread, I’m going out on a limb here and say I didn’t really thing Shaw made a good bad guy. If you mean somebody we could easily hate, that’s no big deal because we already hated him when he was supposed to be a good guy. The only reason I thought he was a good bad guy was because he could finally get what we wanted him to get all along. In other words, I could finally feel good about hating him. His being a bad guy just unburdened my conscience a bit.

        The reason he was supposed to be a good bad guy was because he was a turn-coat. For that to be effective, he needed to be a friend and insider of TeamB … which he never was. He was motivated by revenge all along, but the fact that he was never really part of the team made him meh all the way around. He never really sold himself as anything one way or the other.

        The Shaw character could have worked, but not the way he was written or acted. Just my take.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        herder, Probably the reason I didn’t see the Greta remark as a reference to Shaw is because I can’t see him as being romantic at all.

        Thinkling your right about Shaw would have made a much better bad guy if he’d been better at being a good guy.

        If he’d been what we were told then we would have gotten that he was supposed to be a tragic villian. He was supposed to mentor Chuck but he seemed to sabotage Chuck at every turn, he was supposed to be a super agent but he was incompetant (both as a good guy and a bad guy), He never sold the grieving widower and his showing the rings to Sarah just came off as creepy .

        The only thing he suceeded at was making Sarah seem strange and plastic . The same woman who swore she’d protect Chuck became callous over his safety , the one who wouldn’t reveal anything to anyone told her name and about her red test to a relative stranger.Every time he was around her he sucked the vitality and compassion from her and apparantly weaker physically since we saw her lose fights she never had before from his first appearance to his last.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Armysfc: exactly, and they spent so much time and effort doing damage that the DYLM and Paris scenes come across almost as afterthoughts.

        @Thinkling: I agree, Shaw doesn’t really impress me as a villain either.

        @Tamara: agreed, and I think your points regarding Shaw’s effect on Sarah are a good illustration of how the writers and TPTB marginalized Sarah in order to build up Shaw.

  21. Robert H says:

    Appreciate your comments Ernie and I respect your point of view but I’ll stand on what I wrote and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree which is OK by me.

    There has to be a reason or reasons for the heavy viewer bleed off in the last 2 years, and regardless however one feels about TPTB committment to the show, it is quite
    clear by now what was offered in Season 3 has been widely rejected by the viewers and to a lesser extent Season 4 as well. It’s simply reflected in the ratings, period. Going from a 3.2 or whatever it was to a 1.5 in 2 years tells the story. I happen to feel
    the change in the main character plus the budget cuts and directional story changes did
    most of the damage. I fully realize others may feel differently but that’s how I see it.

    Fr Rick, a show loyalist if there ever was one, stated in an earlier comment he fell asleep during the last episode and apparently was in no rush to catch the rest of it on a rewatch. That more than anything else tells me just how far the show has fallen from what it was 2 years ago. At this point I don’t think the damage from Season 3 will ever
    be repairable and it is what it is. Nothing to do now except wait and see if a 5th season will happen or not. If it doesn’t I wonder if TPTB will admit their colossal errors with
    Season 3 in a post mortem. Human nature being what it is I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it. They had a nice little show people really liked but made a classic mistake. It wasn’t broken so they (and to a lesser extent NBC which allowed it to go forward), decided to fix it. The result was a catastrophic blunder which damaged the show severely and so here we are today. The sad thing about it all is that it could have been and should have been avoided. Stupidity,arrogance, and hubris in part did them in along with ignorance or even worse an absolute disregard for the wishes of the viewers, who after all, saved the show after Season 2. The viewers retaliated by no longer watching the show, hence
    the dramatic ratings drop over the last 2 years. All of the excuses in the world won’t change the facts so let’s stop glossing over their errors. They have nobody to blame but themselves. If a 5th season comes about, fine, maybe they can wrap it up decently
    without making it any worse than it is now. If not, then it’s time to move on.

  22. Pingback: Thinking The Unthinkable | Chuck This

  23. Anonymous says:

    BigKev, I respect your opinion and your love for the show, but their is a difference in being dedicated to your craft and being dedicated to a project or a vision. I understand it. It’s a profession and how they make their living. It’s why some of the creative talent move on to employment with other shows while Chuck is on the bubble. It’s their job. That’s my point. I never said they set out to do sloppy work. It’s just the nature of the business and why you really have few great shows on network television. I will forever be grateful to Chuck. I’ve never felt such passion and dedication to network show. I know we criticize individual episodes but when we view the unfolding season in totality, it really is a special show.

  24. louzeyre says:

    I love so much of your post, but hate the conclusion. I agree that Chuck isn’t the type of spy that Casey is, or that Sarah was, but I don’t think that mean that he can’t exist within the spy world. I think that Chuck can find a way to be a hero and an agent. I also don’t think that Chuck’s destiny is simply to fulfill his father’s legacy. That, to me, would be too small. Chuck deserves a Hero’s Journal of his own, outside of his family’s shadow. If the end of Chuck end with Sarah and Chuck retired it would be a great disappointment for me. Part of Chuck’s journey isn’t just that he changes, but that he changes those around him, and that goes beyond Sarah. For me, part of Chuck journey, and part of what makes him special is that he finds a way is not to simply have a happily ever after but to demonstrate you can have both. You can be an agent without giving up your moral center, have friends and family and still save the world.
    We’ve seen over the course of the series not just Sarah but almost every spy Chuck has come into contact with learning from him that you can have more, even if you’ve given up that part of your life a long time ago.
    Starting at the beginning, if we look at Wookie, Chuck is told by Carina that spies are all in this for themselves. Chuck turns around and reminds her that Sarah was able to do her job and still save Carina’s life and their friendship on a previous mission. This pattern of demonstrating that emotions, loyalty, family and friends can exist alongside a career as an agent continues throughout the series.
    In the beginning Season two’s second episode we find Chuck not only showing Roan that loving someone can motivate rather than hinder someone as a spy, but actually motivating Roan to reconnect with General Beckman at the end of the episode. Later in the season he brings his father back into the fold, to an extent, and his interactions with him eventually lead Stephen to at least attempt a relationship with both his children, despite the dangers he feels he puts them both in. Stephen may leave, but he also leaves a way for Ellie to contact him, something that he never would have done before, and, even more importantly, he actually comes when she calls.
    Even Casey, who you hold up as the epitome of someone within the spy world has now found a way to have a piece of the life he left behind and remain a spy because of Chuck’s influence. He may not have a mini-van but he is now a father without sacrificing his ability to be an agent.
    I also think that it should at least be noted that in the comic book Chuck and Sarah are given an epilogue. The back story in issue 2 is a flash forward showing Chuck, Sarah, Casey and General Beckman on New Years Eve 2020. In it Chuck and Sarah are married with two kids, and seemingly the happily ever after, but Chuck also still works as an agent, partnered with Casey and working for General Beckman.

  25. joe says:

    louzeyre, I don’t recall seeing your handle before. Welcome to the discussion! Great comment.

    The idea of “Okay – what comes next?” for C&S (and that comic book epilogue) is haunting. It’s been in my brain for a long time now. I know that I want to see them Happily After Aftering, and I assume most of the fandom does. But it’s oddly unsatisfying. Isn’t it?

    Oh, no. The idea of C&S having their life together and a family – that’s not unsatisfying. It’s the idea that *this* chapter is completely closed; their spy life. I too don’t exactly want them to just quit. That doesn’t seem right.

    But, like Ernie, I DO want to see them both take charge of their lives. And that’s something the CIA prevents. The CIA (not so much Beckman, anymore) represents a sort of puppet master for Chuck. Since college they’ve been pulling his strings this way and that, almost invisibly.

    And Sarah has been, up to now, completely blind to the idea that she’s merely a more willing puppet. More like a tool (in both senses of the word), actually. I found her words about not being able to see beyond the next mission to be telling.

    I want them both to quit. But I also want them both to be able to make a difference just the way they have been – to be out there “saving the world – and that’s great for the world.” I can imagine them being something like Orion, doing what governments are afraid to do, only less adversarial. I can’t imagine them being co-opted by the system.

    Did I just divulge my hippy roots???

    I want them to hold their own strings.

    • thinkling says:

      Here’s a possibility, Joe. At the end of S5 they do something spectacular … again … like defeat Fulcrum or save the intelligence community or bring down Volkoff. Then we have multiple seasons of happy-ever-after epilogues to the hero’s journey. They have enough clout to cash out and run away together, metaphorically. (Sarah’s speech to Volkoff was in some ways right on the money.) But they are the Charleses-ez, after all, and can’t quite walk away. They still have Orion’s files and would be the only people who could do what governments are afraid to do. So when the President and GB insist on their return, they negotiate terms. They become consultants … real ghosts (public transportation optional) who work on their own terms, on a case by case basis. GB becomes more of a handler than a boss … the liaison between the President and Orion’s ghost.

      That could go on indefinitely. The normal suburban family: soccer mom and PTA dad … getting inconvenient calls from the President, consulting for the government, confounding their neighbors and kids’ teachers and parents of their kids’ friends. And of course, they would have a secret Orion base that runs under their houses (Bartowski, Woodcomb, Grimes, Casey).

      I could watch that forever. And if I didn’t get to watch it, I would be happy knowing that that’s what they are doing somewhere.

      • joe says:

        That’s not too far from what I’ve been thinking, Thinkling. I could see an ending where they defeat a resurrected Fulcrum or Volcoff or some first-string baddy to be named later, and begin their post-mission celebration. They start talking about some well-deserved R&R and humorously let us in on the fun plans

        Then the phone rings. The ring-tone is “Hail to the Chief” and the Pres. himself needs their services. “Oh well.” they sigh (with a wry hint of happiness because they feel needed) – and off they go. Fade, end scene.

      • thinkling says:

        And that would be a prologue to the happy-ever-after epilogue. 🙂 😉

      • First Timer says:

        @joe, @thinkling:
        The showrunners have actually missed an opportunity here, I think. Given Chuck’s shaky ratings, they should have had a backup plan: A half-hour workplace sitcom called Buy More.

        The sit for the pilot: Chuck and Sarah get out of the spy game after negotiating their release from Beckman. The price of the retirement: Beckman demands Chuck and Sarah run the Buy More to protect Castle and the CIA base underneath.

        Practical advantages: Warner gets to reuse exist sets. The showrunners get to create a new show with existing characters, a built-in fanbase, and existing contracts of the players. Moreover, they can dump the spy stuff after the pilot and have a show about two ex-spies (one a Nerd turned superhero, one a spy turned regular girl) trying to adjust to civilian life. That would allow the new show, Buy More, to find a new audience, too. The show’s built around outsiders (Chuck and Sarah) in the weird world of big-box retailing.

        And, once a year or so, they could draw Chuck and Sarah back into the spy world for an adventure or two. And suddenly Chuck and Sarah are outsiders again in the spy world, too.

        It seems to me that if you approach NBC with this idea you could get some traction: A NEW show, a 30-minute sitcom about a workplace people understand (a big box electronic store), that already comes with maybe 4 million viewers who were once loyal to the old show called Chuck.

        Seems to me this could be win all around: for NBC, for Warner, for the showrunners, for many of the actors and, of course, for us, who could still get to see Chuck and Sarah.

        I mean, don’t you want to see Strahovski play the exasperated, but still potentially kissass, store manager/accountant/HR manager? Do you want to see more Levi, who’s really best at comedy, trying to surf the waves of day-to-day realities of store management with a crew that would include Jeff, Lester, Morgan…and, who knows…maybe even Casey, who could also retire to become, oh, say, head of mall security…

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @FT:

        John Casey as head of Mall Security…the mind boggles.

      • joe says:

        Heh! Not bad, FT.

        But you know what that’s missing? You’re gonna hate this, but you haven’t mentioned the romance! I realize that’s implied; married spies and all that. But it sounds so light. It sounds dead center between Hart to Hart and Get Smart.

        It’s probably a winner with the network brass if they’re at all like they’ve been these past 4 decades. But honestly, I’d miss the romantic angst (did I just say that???) that’s given Chuck such emotional heft. After all, that little bit of tension is the only reason I keep tuning into TBBT these days. That and the one-liners.

        Maybe that heft (or change the word to depth, perhaps) can be found elsewhere in The Buy More.

        I’m jumping ahead to wondering where it would come from even if Chuck continues more or less as it is. I think I know, too.

        There’s been a minor side-story going on, barely mentioned, that seems very rich. That’s Stephen and Mary, and their life together. Once Mary told us that they were partners, a whole world opened up that didn’t exist before in my mind, one that C&S might inherit.

        In a more perfect world I would love to see a new show that showed a young Mary and Stephen having their adventures interwoven with Chuck & Sarah in the “present”.

      • atcDave says:

        I find Thinkling’s vision most exciting. I think for a “happily ever after” getting Chuck (and Sarah) out of the clutches of the CIA is important. But making them too ordinary would be disappointing and beneath them. So the scenario where they become heroes-at-large is sort of the best of both worlds. They would no longer have to inhabit the murky and morally questionable world of the CIA, but still have one foot in, so they can save the world as needed.

        I much prefer the romantic comedy angle of things to Joe’s mention of romantic angst, and hope S5 (and beyond!) continue in the lighter, just for fun vein.
        I could imagine First Timer’s sit-com suggestion working, but I hope it never comes to that; unless its purely as a spin-off after Chuck and Sarah have moved away from the Buy More cover entirely. If Chuck were more successful, I’d love to see it turn into two completely different shows; the Buy More sit-com, and the hour-long action/comedy/romance with the spies and the Woodcombs. Maybe Morgan could pull double duty on both shows. But with Chuck’s marginal popularity, anything other than what we currently have seems highly unlikely.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I say they transport the entire cast into an alternate show, The Thin Man. Chuck is Nick Charles, a detective, Sarah is Nora, the socialite. Instead of being retired Nick still works, setting up the cop show spoof. John Casey is Nick’s partner, horrified to see his former hard-bitten partner smitten and giving into lady-feelings. Their captain, Big Mike Tucker, tries to hold together a precinct where there always seems to be a murder to solve, and Nick’s new girlfriend is always somehow sticking her nose in. Devon is of course a straight-by-the-book awesome detective married to Nick’s sister Ellie. Anna Wu returns in season 3 as John Casey’s mail order bride.

        At Norah’s stately manor things are equally dysfunctional. You have Dianne, Nora’s personal assistant and secretary trying to rule over a group of ne’er do well charity cases Nora has collected, like Lester the “chef” and Jeff the gardner (who seems to have been exposed to a few too many pestacides). Rounding them out is the chauffeur Morgan, who often has to let Nora drive when he forgets his booster seat.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I’d watch that show Ernie! Very funny.

      • thinkling says:

        Hey, Ernie, your Thin Man story would make a fantastic episode or two part episode … a sort of dream sequence. Chuck Versus Toto.

        Chuck Versus the Nightmares: you could have Chuck and Sarah caught in a variety of old shows/sitcoms. Both of them could have the nightmares, each nightmare starring the two of them in one of the old shows.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        …John Casey’s mail order bride?

        OK, who hid the Keyboard Kleaner?

    • First Timer says:

      @atcdave:
      Back in the day, when the ratings were better, I always thought there WERE three shows that Warner could do for NBC. Chuck at 8pm, Westside Medical (a straightahead medical series with Devon and Ellie) at 9pm and the Buy More sitcom for a Thursday night. In the original thought I had for Buy More, it was workplace comedy with Morgan and Big Mike and Anna, etc…

      They would have shared sets and costs, etc., and do crossover episodes and such. Warner USED to do this in the 1960s when they had a string of “city” shows: Hawaiian Eye (honolulu), Surfside Six (Miami), Basin Street Beat (New Orleans), and, of course, 77 Sunset Strip (LA). They all were shot on the Warner back lots and did crossovers all the time…

      My point about a Buy More sitcom now staring the Chuck and Sarah characters is that I would have hoped the showrunners were smart enough to know they had a cult audience, but needed to ditch the existing show mythology because it’s nearly impossible to find new viewers for it. It was my fallback hope. You keep the characters (and the existing audience) and build a new mythology around two ex spies trying to adjust to civilian life. But if the show is cancelled this year, that would be gone. The sets would be struck, the actors released from the contracts, the writers gone, etc…

      Now my fallback is that someone at Warner (are you still there, McG) thinks there’s a movie in the Chuck concept. Hell, it’s already been knocked off twice (badly): That Killers thing with Kutcher and Heigl and Knight + Day with Cruise and Diaz. Might as well give Levi and Strahovski a shot to tell the story of the pilot through Colonel on the big screen…

      • atcDave says:

        I remember the multiple cross-overs shows, it can be a lot of fun. But I just think Chuck’s popularity is too marginal now.

        I do like the movie idea whenever the show is cancelled, especially if it means a bigger budget for two hours of show.

  26. First Timer says:

    @joe:
    Well, the way you’d sell (in this fantasy thing) the sitcom is as a workplace comedy. Chuck and Sarah’s homelife would, of course, be a BIG part of that. But the sitcom would be positioned as a workplace thing.

    As for where they are going in Season 5, should there be one, I think I know and that’s why I’m okay if the show ends with this season’s last episode. Everyone on the planet knows a Season 5 will be the last (no financial incentive for Warner to continue past a season 5 given the license fee it gets from NBC), the showrunners will be free to tell the story they want. And the story they’d tell is a break-up of Chuck and Sarah. That would dominate the front 13 and there’d be a reunion in the last scene of E13. If a back 9 were coming, they’d then play the baby card over the last episodes.

    Frankly, I can live without a break-up series of episodes. I know WHY the writers would do it (conflict is an easier story to tell than bliss), I just don’t want to see it.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      @First Timer:

      Roger that. Whenever I hear that TPTB might get a chance to tell the story that they want, I get a little nauseous. That’s what they did in Season 3 and it was an unholy mess.

      Part of the problem is that Fedak and Schwartz get bored quick with light entertainment; they would rather do damage. And you know what? They’re really good at damage: they take their time, they do it in living color and in loving detail and they get it right. Then they wave the magic script wand over the wreckage a couple of times, and expect everything to be fine.

      That doesn’t even get into the marketing mistakes that helped crater S3. Taking the best escapist entertainment on TV and turning it into a marathon of heartache, loneliness and rejection in the middle of a recession with 10% unemployment was just one of those mistakes.

      I want more Chuck, but please don’t screw it up (more).

      Please?

    • armysfc says:

      FT VV. i agree with both of you. turning TPTB loose to write what they want as a final season could be one huge mess. i think how this season ends will give us a good idea of what to expect next year if we get one. from what i have read around the net so far i expect this blog to light up like it hasn’t in a long time after it airs.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Armysfc:

        Uh oh. You mean lit up in a good way or a bad way?

        My nerves are shot, I need a Chuck fix. Lucky for me, my niece returned my S1 Dvds today.

    • atcDave says:

      Agree entirely, another break-up story-line would be a disaster. I doubt they’d be that clueless for S5. I honestly hope if the show goes any longer that there would be a change in the creative leadership. I still don’t trust Schwedak to handle the Charah aspect of the show long term.

      • thinkling says:

        Agree with all, Dave … shocker, I know. I also don’t trust Schwedak, but I don’t think they are, as you say, clueless.

        I honestly don’t think they would split Chuck and Sarah. If they thought the reaction was bad after the Colonel near-miss, it would be nuclear after all that’s transpired post Honeymooners and proposal arc and Phase 3 and Push Mix and wedding. It would be stupid on various levels:

        1) They know beyond any doubt that their core fans, the only ones they have left, would hate it.
        2) Creating that much ire among fans is not a good career move, with the networks or potential future viewers.
        3) It would be abysmal story telling. How many times can you damage the main characters and shatter the core relationship and have them believably rise from the ashes? Hint: one fewer than they already have.
        4) Abysmal story telling, part 2. Been there. Done that. Burned the t-shirt. It would be totally uncreative and quite frankly unwatchable.
        5) Abysmal story telling, part 3. The story needs to move forward, not backward (angsty wtwt is backward). If the central relationship must be challenged to satisfy some demented corner of their creative brain, then it needs to be something external, not internal. As TPTB have said, the internal angst is played out.

        I prefer we never go dark again in the central relationship. Let things go wrong around them; let them face challenges, but let them face all of those things in the strength and integrity of their love and commitment. And don’t make a steady diet of it. Season 4 tone is just about right.

      • atcDave says:

        “One fewer than they already have”…

        Perfect. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

      • Big Kev says:

        They won’t break them up. Where did all this suddenly come from? I know Magnus professes himself unimpressed with the cliffhanger. That worries me a bit, because once you get past his cult of personality (if you can) then his views on the show are usually pretty close to mine – but whatever it is, they won’t be breaking up. They can barely have an argument without the fanbase getting twitchy, so break up – not gonna happen 🙂

      • ZuneT says:

        DR just thinks angst generates ratings so he’s trying to spin angst beyond what’s there, he did it all the time last year. Don’t pay that much attention to him

      • First Timer says:

        @BigKev:
        I could care less about what Magnus thinks or says. Nor am I referring to the cliffhanger. What I SAID was that a fifth season, if the showrunners got it, would be the last. So they’d want to try to tell as many of the stories remaining as they can. One story they’d want to explore would be a breakup. Another would be a pregnancy.

        Since they knew there’s only be 13 plus a back nine option, the logic of storytelling would be this: You break up your couple in the beginning of Season 5 and reunite them at the end of 5.13. If that’s the end of the show, happy ending. If they got the back 9 option, then they plot the pregnancy storyline. Series ends with Chuck and Sarah leaving spying (or going freelance) while they prepare for the baby.

        It’s the logic of showrunning. It’s got nothing to do what Magnus says or his opinion of what any cliffhanger might be.

        Are there other ways to us a fifth and final season? Sure. They could make Chuck and Sarah astronauts. Or politicians. Turn them into Orion and Frost for the next generation. There are a million stories to tell. But the logical approach, when you’re doing the kind of show they are doing now (a rom com with a spy mileu), is to explore the obvious couple-type stories: breakup and parenthood. With just 13+9 remaining in your series, it’s hard to ignore the obvious storytelling opportunities.

        I actually think it’s irrelevant, though, since I doubt a fifth season is coming.

      • Big Kev says:

        FT,
        Apologies. I didn’t mean to lump your opinion in with anything Magnus wrote. I mentioned him only because the break-up possibility had also been mentioned there and I thought that may have been where it came from. I didn’t read far enough back to your original contribution.
        Reading that now, I can certainly see some logic in what you say – but I can’t see them doing it. And, as much as I think this season could have done with some drama to make it a bit less predictable, I hope they don’t do it. More soap opera is just not something I want to see.
        I think Chris Fedak was sufficiently burned by the reaction to S3 that he won’t go down that road again. It’s partly why S4 has been so safe, and my bet is that S5 would be more of the same. Family-based storylines (maybe with Ellie more involved), Chuck and Sarah happy with the occasional conflict, and all walking happily into the sunset with Sarah either expecting or a Mother come the end of the season. Keep the fanbase intact, so the show doesn’t get pulled mid-season, and Chris takes the lessons from Chuck onto his next project.
        I do think they will try and pack as much story in as possible, because they always do – but I just don’t think the type of stories and the tone of the show will change that much. I don’t think TPTB have the stomach for another fight – either within the fanbase or the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Apart from being a little happier about the current state of affairs I see it the same as Big Kev. Any break up, much less a season long one, would be met with even more hostility than S3. I think TPTB know that, and won’t touch it.

      • ArmySFC says:

        dave big kev…with a season 5 we can almost bet it would be the last. TPTB know this as well. like they did in season 3 they could tell any story they want. they said prior to that season they wanted to tell their story. look how that turned out. this year they HAD to give the fans what they wanted if they wanted a season 5. there would be nothing to hold them back next year. while i do agree with CF taking his mistakes and learning from them in the future JS has not. his shows always have relationship angst. he’s the one who scares me not CF.

        i think how they end season 4 will be a good indication of how season 5 goes if we get one. if they end with some crazy cliffhanger like amnesia or one of the main characters near death it would show me they didn’t learn. this is just my opinion but why chance an ending like that knowing there is the possibility you may not get to show the fans what happens?

        if they end with an all is well type ending, with a new bad guy or a potential new position for the team it would show me they did get it. it would be a much better way to end the show than the one above.

        as i said the ending to 4.24 may shed some light on how season 5 goes or where they want it to go. of course if they get a big negative reaction after it airs and they get a season 5 they may change the idea quickly in 5.1. lets hope they don’t take that chance.

      • atcDave says:

        Except army, as Big Kev mentioned, Fedak seems to be the one calling the shots now; JS even mentioned recently that CF hasn’t done certain things the way Schwartz had wanted to. I don’t think its any kind of falling out, its just that JS has his hand in many projects; while CF is the Chuck guy. As long as Fedak continues to be the primary show runner, I don’t think he has any interest in rocking the ‘ship.

      • ArmySFC says:

        dave i agree with most of that. my main thing is i try to look at all possibilities that could happen, not just what i want to happen. JS may have had a change of heart as well. he had a show that was going to be picked up by NBC before the comcast merger. after the merger comcast tanked his show. from what i remember it was another relationship type show. since he has struck me as arrogant this had to come as a blow to his ego.

        like you i will wait to see how it goes and how 4.24 ends.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      @Thinkling, Dave:

      Yes!

      And how I wish you had plotted season 3, Thinkling.

  27. Tamara Burks says:

    I had a thought about the way Chuck acted with Hannah and it relates to the mentalist. On it it had 2 of the team members were in a romance and when told they would have to break it off or one of them transfer , he chose to be the one to transfer and she broke it off. He later came into work and it was made obvious that he had had sex with a woman and he seemed to want to make sure that the woman who had broke his heart knew it. Kind of a you hurt me but you haven’t broken me kind of attitude.

    When Chuck started up with Hannah it was after Prague where she disappeared and cut off all attempts at his contacting her to the point of destroying her phone, he tried to help her and she ignored him , he told her he loved her and explained himself and he overheard her respose to the video of that was to ask for a transfer. When he met Hannah he was ripe and ready for a woman who was willing to be with him and didn’t appear to only want him as a default.

    Remember no matter how many times Sarah rejected Chuck he kept up contact , she’s the one who froze him out. Hannah ending up being the one who got hurt though. When you add in the fact that Sarah knew he spent 5 years mooning over Jill then maybe his ego perked up a little bit and tried to defend itself and made him act braggy about having sex with Hannah. That’s why I can understand Chuck’s rebound behavior. It was wrong to use Hannah that way but it’s obvious he didn’t set out to do that . Chuck’s only human not a saint .

  28. Pingback: Don’t Freak Out! | Chuck This

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