Warning: S3 Talk Below!
Eventually, this will turn into another fan fiction piece. As we approach the season finale, I’m more excited than ever about all things Chuck; so I thought another round of recommendations was fitting here. But for starters, we’ve had another round of S3 discussions these last couple days that really got me thinking about what I would have actually wanted to see from that season. I think that means I want to talk more from a positive position than a negative one, although of course, criticism of the actual S3 content will be involved; after the jump!
I know I am one of the worst perpetraitors of continuing S3 criticism. But I don’t mean for this to be another round of piling on. Partly because of discussion here, and partly because of fan fiction, I’ve given a lot of thought to what I actually wish we’d seen. I’m not doing a scene by scene analysis here, but rather a few thoughts about direction and tone.
Comedy is so central to the Chuck experience for me. Yet S3 kicked off with an episode that didn’t have a single chuckle for me. They never quite did that again, but we still saw more dark issues (burning assets, Red Tests) than in the entirety of the rest of the series.
But of course the main issue I wish had been handled differently was the central relationship. I can think of a couple ways that would have played better. The most obvious to me is the so called “secret relationship”. This could have involved Chuck and Sarah deciding it was important that they be together, in spite of rules and security that would make it difficult. I can imagine them resuming the “cover relationship”, but now the cover is real; and they’re play acting when they try to convince Casey, Beckman, and Shaw that nothing is going on. We could have Chuck and Sarah trying to steal time together away from surveillance, perhaps at Sarah’s apartment; and having close calls with getting caught (this might have been an even funnier use of Chuck on the ledge in a towel… and loosing it…) Or imagine the gathering with friends where Chuck and Sarah are trying to convince Ellie that they are still together, but Casey that they are not. Then of course, Shaw tries to get involved with Sarah, because he knows she’s really “available”; while Sarah struggles to come up with excuses to keep him at bay.
The other permutation of this situation is Chuck and Sarah’s cover is “just friends”, while its really far more. So we could have Hannah stalking Chuck, while Sarah fantasizes about filleting her. While Chuck tries to remain professional with both women, while trying to get rid of one and encourage the other. Other characters reactions could be very fun. I always imagine Casey not being fooled at all, maybe Beckman is mostly fooled but has her suspicions, while Shaw is clueless and in hot pursuit. Perhaps Ellie is trying to fix Chuck up with Doctors again; or worse, trying to get Chuck and Sarah back together. So she orchestrates elaborate romantic scenarios that Chuck and Sarah are trapped in; that they want so much to just enjoy (and maybe sometimes do!), but they constantly have to protest are “really bad ideas.”
So much of the warm and sweet tone of Chuck that was temporarily lost for much of S3 could have been restored by Sarah as the advisor and comforter as Chuck gets deeper into the scary spy world.
I’m not looking to start another round of frustrating S3 debates here. And I’m sure not looking to get into more of “what went wrong” or “why atcDave’s an idiot for not loving every second of the show”; I was just thinking about what I would have liked to see. If anyone has any other fun alternatives I’d love to hear them; or if anyone has any favorite fan fictions that deal with the subject I’d love to hear about them! Some of this has been touched on in various fan fictions, many of which I’ve recommended here before.
Which is the perfect segue to a bit of fan fiction news. I’ve recommended “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves” by NinjaVanish almost every time I’ve done a fan fiction piece. Its been on going for my entire adult life, which is course older than both the actual show and the author himself (okay, the previous statement may not strictly speaking be “true”).
But the huge news here is that the story is finally done! After over a year (really this time!), 39 chapters and 220000 + words; this story ties back into “Chuck and Sarah vs The Bunker”, the sequel that was published first.
“Themselves” is an epic S3 AU. It starts in the immediate aftermath of Chuck downloading the Intersect 2.0 and retells S3, including Shaw, Hannah, a secret relationship, and huge amounts of gunplay and knife-fights. The author is particularly good with his action sequences and writes several of the best I’ve ever seen in fan fiction. He’s really no slouch in any other department either; including several very funny scenes involving Chuck and the fountain, Jeff’s new girlfriend, and a Comic Con wedding. Given that “The Bunker” was written first, I’m not giving anything away by saying it ends with Chuck and Sarah married, pregnant, and living off the grid.
This is a well written and conceived story. The only warning would be that it is “R” rated; both for explicit action violence and the actions of a married couple. It might not quite be safe for network TV, but if you’re an adult and like action adventure nothing here should be too shocking to you.
Next up I want to mention a story I only recently found myself. This is “Chuck vs Family Matters” by Lucky47. Honestly, the synopsis had kind of put me off for a while, and I just assumed this was not “my kind of story.” But its come up a couple times here in discussion so I finally decided to check it out.
And what a great find! This pointedly is NOT an action adventure story, in fact it starts with TeamB being placed in a sort of operational reserve. It is a S2 AU that breaks from canon at Broken Heart (some events from that episode are referred to in the past tense, some occur during the tale. Everything else prior has happened). Casey’s niece is dying of cancer and is coming to town for a last ditch experimental treatment, so Casey is given family medical leave while Chuck and Sarah are ordered to move in together so Sarah can provide 24/7 protection.
This is a relationship story plain and simple. But not just a Charah story. In fact, this piece is quite long (so far, and it isn’t even done yet!) and explores nearly ever permutation of every relationship in quite a bit of detail. Charah is indeed beautifully written here; but so is Chuck and Beckman, Sarah and Ellie, and… well you get the point. If you’re at all interested in the various characters and how they might relate to each other in different circumstances you WILL love this story. There are several OCs involved, but they never detract or dominate in inappropriate ways. They are important when they ought to be, and are written to compliment and strengthen characters we already know and love.
I guess this story would be rated PG-13, mainly because of when Chuck and Sarah do finally get affectionate. There’s also some fairly unpleasant medical/sickness situations. It is long. 32 chapters and over 240000 words; I spent four days on it and I’m a fast reader.
My one-shot recommendation this time around will be a bit of a cheat. Its really a two-shot. “Ellie Versus the Bridesmaids” by hollywooddramaqueen is a short story about Ellie’s shocking introduction to Sarah’s other bridesmaids. This is written all in fun, and has many laugh out loud moments. Carina and Zondra may not be the best vehicle for getting Ellie up to speed on her soon to be sister-in-law’s professional life! But that’s pure benefit for us readers.
This story would be rated PG for some explicit language and can be read in 15 minutes.
Don’t forget the on going stories I’ve been recommending. Billatwork’s “Long Road Back” is still updating twice a week. And the controversy about it we brought up here was clearly reflected in the reviews Bill got too! The action looks to be heating up in other ways though, and I would guess a jail break is coming soon.
“The Revenge of the Bartowski” by Nervert is now 11 chapters in and remains an outstanding story!
As always, my recommendations can be found by following the atcDave/favorites link under the fan fiction header at right.