Circles and Rubik’s Cubes — Agent X Rewatch

Circles. Lots of circles. From the ridiculous Buymoron (Las Vecas/Renéaux) circle to smaller S4 circles to big mythology circles, Agent X went round and round. As things come full circle, puzzle pieces begin to click into place. As some questions are answered, new ones arise … kind of like solving a Rubik’s Cube. One thing’s for sure, though, Agent X did its share to complete a few sides of the Bartowski Rubik’s Cube. Then there’s the fun. For all the work it does, Agent X keeps circling back to fun.

Dave Talks Fun.

The first part of this episode is just mostly silly fun.  The Bachelor/Bachelorette parties are largely about showing some downtime for our favorite spy team.  The Las Vegas/Las Vecas story-line is typical ridiculous Chuck.  The improbable misunderstanding (okay, actually that’s “impossible misunderstanding” as no such park exists) is a great example of the sort of character humor Chuck does so well.   Awesome is all energy and enthusiasm, and a little bit clueless.  Chuck and Morgan are clearly disappointed; but perhaps we see a common trait of their friendship here, as they quickly determine to make the best of it and play along.  Casey only cared about shooting ranges to begin with, so he can adapt with no problem.  Lester and Big Mike are the most put out, a weekend in the woods is not on their agenda (Big Mike does NOT forage!).  Jeff, oddly, is the least confused by the turn of events and is easily the comic highlight of this escapade. Magic Mushrooms and chasing marmot tail seem to be a pretty special weekend for him.

Ellie and Sarah’s weekend is unusual in its own way.  Sarah is a good sport about whatever Ellie has planned, but I don’t think these two are on the same wavelength about fun.  I’m not even sure what wavelength Ellie is on; after going ballistic over Devon’s bachelor party she apparently thinks nothing of lining up strippers for Sarah.  And does Ellie know how close the strippers came to be being shot?  Perhaps she should have tried a weekend of board games…

But of course spy life intrudes on both gatherings.  Sarah simply needs to tell Ellie the news that someone may be looking for the Orion computer.  Simple enough in it own right, but we are clearly being pushed one step closer to Ellie being fully aware of the spy world.  True chaos breaks out in Vecas.  When a team of mercenaries ambush the campsite, Casey only needs to distract Devon and Morgan so he can dispatch the baddies; oh and send Chuck to rescue Jeff from his sweet torture.  While Devon and Morgan were quite funny here, Jeff continues to steal the scene; he must be a torturers worst nightmare!


Thinkling Talks in Circles.

Somerset Circle. Ellie ran a cyclomatic complexity (really?) on all her dad’s research, and an old house is the end of the loop … an old house in Somerset England.

All paths (more paths than we imagined) lead to that house, a house that closes a circle from Masquerade. It’s Vivian’s circle. If she wanted to know the truth about her father, or even find the elusive Agent X, she had only to walk a little ways from her MacArthur Manor to the Winterbottom family home in Somerset, England. Though Hartley seemed to have forgotten who he was, who he was worked its way back into his life in various ways: his grandmother’s necklace, horses, and the small spot on the planet where he grew up. Sad that Vivian’s grandmother lived a few foot paths away, and neither of them ever knew it.

Chuck and Vivian’s stories aren’t just similar, as we first observed. They circle back to the same ground zero. Were it not for the tragic malfunction of the Intersect, they might have grown up as friends, cousins in the way that children of best friends are. As it turned out, friends from two generations became nemeses.

Secret Circles. This is one circle that I’m glad to see closed. The small circle of Ellie’s secret finally gets absorbed in the big circle of Chuck’s secret, and the statute of limitations on secrets runs out. Hurray!

I loved the Ellie reveal. That Ellie figured it doesn’t surprise me, except that she should have figured it out sooner. That she accepted it so easily doesn’t bother me either. They paved the way for her acceptance (whenever it came) in Coup d’Etat and Seduction Impossible. She’s also walked in both of Chuck’s shoes by now, the thrill of their dad’s work and the desire to protect the other from all things spy. The scene in Castle was great, mostly for the family feel … all of TeamB enjoying the moment of Ellie’s learning how special her brother is. There’s pride and acceptance on Sarah’s face. This isn’t just a S4 circle, though. It goes all the way back to the Pilot when Chuck uploaded the 1.0 and suddenly had to keep his life a secret from his sister. Now she can know everything. I just wish we could be a fly on the wall as Ellie hears some of Chuck’s stories.

The 30 Year Bartowski Circle. As we come full circle, we see the gravity of the moment on the faces of the five people whose lives have been drawn into this Bartowski circle. The circle on the table in front of them holds the answers about Stephen’s obsession, Mary’s mission, and the whole reason that their family fell apart.

I guess it all begins with a scientist, whose code name was Orion, but his real name was Stephen Bartowski … That’s all we heard of Mary’s conversation with Ellie, back in First Fight. However, earlier in the same conversation, Mary talked about a burgundy Mustang with special-order blue leather seats … the Mustang that Stephen made sure Ellie found … the Mustang that had Orion’s laptop under the drivers seat … the laptop that had all the Agent X files encoded just for Ellie … the files that led them to Hartley and a house in Somerset … the house that held Hartley’s spy will … the spy will that led them to Volkoff … or rather Hartley Winterbottom who became Alexei Volkoff because of the Intersect implant created by his best friend … a scientist whose code name was Orion, but his real name was Stephen Bartowski.


Dave Reveals All.

The Hartley/Volkoff reveal would prove to be one of the more controversial twists of this season.  A new dimension was added to Mary and Stephen’s mission that destroyed their family.  No amount of exposition can make the way they abandoned their kids acceptable.  But I can feel a little more empathy than I had before.  Hartley downloaded the Volkoff Intersect in 1980, about a year before Chuck was born.  Apparently the initial consequence was not catastrophic and Stephen and Mary continued their work and raising their family for the next decade.  We know little about what happened in this time; we can imagine Stephen was trying to find a way to “uninstall” the Intersect program, and perhaps Mary was taking missions to contain or extract Volkoff whenever she could.  Of course that is speculation, we don’t really know.  But somehow, around 1990 Mary became trapped in the Volkoff mission.  Perhaps Alexei’s strange obsession with her played into this; this might even carry over from  Hartley, it’s not hard to imagine he might have been a bit smitten with his best friends super spy wife.  But whenever it started Mary was truly trapped.  She could no more escape the mission and lead Volkoff back to her children in 1990 than she could in 2010.  Now I’d be the first to admit this makes Frost look a little stupid.  She apparently embraced “distance” as a coping mechanism and lost sight of returning home as the goal.  So the pure length of this mission remains a problem for me; but I can appreciate the conflict of having to stay away from one’s family to protect them, and not being willing to accept killing an old friend as an expedient solution.

The term retcon has been thrown around for this twist.  For the record, this does not satisfy the most basic definition of a retroactive continuity per Wikipedia.  That would be, a new piece of information that renders incorrect previously established facts. The Agent X reveal does not contradict anything we previously knew; it fills a gap, nothing more.  Any viewer is naturally allowed not to like this twist, but let’s be fair, it does not qualify as a retcon under this definition.

There is a far looser definition of the term that refers to later information that causes us to have a new understanding of previously known information.  But this is a very broad definition and cannot fairly be called a flaw or problem in story telling. Virtually any mystery or story with a twist at all could be put in this category.  The entire series Star Trek: Enterprise becomes a retcon; the movie “The Sixth Sense” retconned itself by this definition; as does almost every episode of Castle.  If this is truly how we want to define “retcon” the term has become useless.


Thinkling Puzzles Things Out.

You’re right, Dave. It’s not a retcon at all. In fact it’s how life works … finding out things you didn’t know that suddenly explain a bunch of stuff you did know. This is where some of the Rubik’s Cube begins to fall into place.

This bit of information certainly explains a lot. I love the twist. Like Dave I think it adds a layer of sympathy that I didn’t have before (kind of like Sarah’s aha moment of understanding Mary’s situation in Leftovers).

Hartley/Tuttle/Mary/Volkoff. Me too. I think this explains Volkoff’s unhinged affection for Mary … whether it was just a very close friendship among the three of them that took a different turn when Hartley became Volkoff or Hartley had a crush on Mary all along. (Had he been her MI6 handler at one point. Had they been an item, before she married Stephen?). Hartley wouldn’t be jealous of his best friend, but Volkoff would be seething with jealousy of Orion. A prior affection would also explain why ultimately Mary was the ideal person to gain his confidence and bring him down. She was the stabilizing element that kept the planet safe from the world’s most dangerous psychopath. Ah, and knowing about Hartley explains why Volkoff was such a believable Tuttle.

Ca-razy. The cover identity explains Volkoff’s criminal side. The properties of the Intersect that we already know about likely explain Alexei’s crazy side, while Hartley explains his affectionate side; and TD makes it work all the way through. Once Volkoff knew Chuck was Mary’s son, his attitude changed. A bizarre affection for Charles (and Sarah) coexisted with a psychotic willingness to kill them … with glee.

This explains why Mom and Dad didn’t want Chuck to be involved with the Intersect project … big time. Did you catch the look on Chuck’s face when Ellie said that the cover identity took over and Agent X became his cover identity? Yikes. It was an appropriately somber moment for Sarah and Casey as well.

Explanations and Speculations. Hartley went under cover in 1980, probably as part of the increased efforts to end the Cold War. Like Dave said, we don’t know what happened. He may have even disappeared. By the end of the cold war we know that he had become an out-of-control, well connected oligarch with a ton of weapons to sell (gee, wonder where he got those?). That’s when Mary went undercover to take him down.

But I have to wonder a few things. Casey said, “The CIA created one of the most murderous men in the history of the world. Some powerful people spent an enormous amount of energy covering that up. You know what happens if they find out we know?

Was it an accident, or did someone sabotage the project to intentionally create Volkoff? Or did someone consider it a happy accident and like the idea of using Volkoff to control the flow of arms after the Cold War? Someone who couldn’t afford for anyone else to know about any of it. That would explain why Stephen was so paranoid, and why Mary said she couldn’t afford to let the CIA know she knew about Agent X. I think it’s possible that there were multiple factions in the CIA: one that wanted to take down Volkoff the weapons dealer, ignorant of his origin; another that wanted to kill him to cover up the embarrassment; and perhaps even a third that enjoyed using him. Stephen and Mary were caught up in the middle of it all, wanting to protect their family, keep Hartley from getting killed, while containing Volkoff, in the hopes of fixing their friend (something Chuck finished for his dad in Cliffhanger … saving Hartley).

If any of that is true, then Stephen and Mary and family were all in danger, not only from Volkoff, but also the CIA. Mary may have had to cut ties with the CIA to avoid being killed herself. Talk about being between the Devil and the Devil and the deep blue sea.

Another question, while I’m on a roll … how did Riley know about all of this? Was it a plot hole? Or … was he a plant to control Volkoff and the flow of arms? Or feather a powerful nest?

Well, some sides of the Rubik’s Cube slid into place. Other sides, that I thought were aligned, just got all messed up. I can’t wait to see what they do with the rest of the puzzle in S5.


Dave Again

Well for starters, I’m just thrilled Thinkling didn’t take my Hartley/Mary theory as proof that I’m bonkers.  I think it adds a sad and tragic element to Hartley; like he stood aside to support his friends’ love, even if it kind of tore him up.  But while Hartley was noble and self sacrificing, Volkoff was psychotic.  He would take what he wanted and destroy all obstacles.  I don’t think he “remembered” any of this, he seemed clueless about the whole Bartowski/Orion connection until it was revealed to him in Leftovers (4.10).  But that was the exact connection Frost had tried to keep from him.

I also can’t help but think Frost was suffering from a bit of “Stockholm Syndrome” by the time we meet her.  Although the safety of her family was non-negotiable; her own “rescue” that she set-up via Tuttle seems ill-advised.  Surly an opportunity could have been created to capture Volkoff at this juncture instead of running off with him.  So perhaps by this measure, Sarah’s mission to “join” Volkoff provided the reality check Mary needed to become an effective agent again.  I will always agree with those who say Sarah’s character (intelligence and discernment in this case) was sacrificed to give Mary a big hero moment in Push Mix (4.13).  Mary’s statement that Sarah was going home should have been a Sarah line.  That was the crisis point Sarah was sent undercover to create, it still seems implausible to me that she didn’t recognize it.  But I’ll break with many critics and say I believe that was the only misstep in the story telling in S4. It was the only moment all season long I felt one of the characters I love had been sacrificed to advance the plot.  At least, it was the only such moment that bothered me past the end of the episode!  That alone is a huge improvement over the previous season.

Riley is a little harder to explain.  He seems to know a lot that Volkoff himself did not.  Will we ever find out how he came by this knowledge?  Was he perhaps a CIA agent gone rogue?  Will his name ever even be mentioned again?  My Costa Graven Pesos say we’ll never know.  I’m not by nature a cynical viewer.  But I believe the interest of the Chuck creative team is on creating new adventures and villains.  I’m completely fine with that.  If we get a throw away line about Riley selling information to both sides, or betraying The Company, or some such thing I will be tickled pink.  But I don’t expect it.

There are many puzzles that may, or may not be solved in S5.  It sounds like we may learn a little more about Orion and Frost.  But Chuck being what it is I expect the focus to be on Decker, and whoever might be pulling his strings.  Glimpses into the past are special but can’t be counted on.  Like many viewers, I’m more interested in back-story  for Sarah (Mom!) than I am for Chuck at this point.  And that may be even more of a long-shot.


Thinkling Out

Agent X was one of those heavy-lifting episodes. It had work to do, but in typical Chuck fashion, it had fun doing it. I can’t sign out without highlighting my favorite fun of the episode.

The Somerset Surprise. TeamB is off to find Agent X, having no idea what awaits them. It could have been a fairly dry mission, but Chuck made it nine kinds of fun. Sarah gets to do another accent. Chuck gets to poke fun at Casey (the hitch-hiker) whom MamaW instantly takes a liking to. To everyone’s surprise, MamaW, the innocent old spinster, packs heat … a shot gun and a machine gun. And Casey is in love … with the mother he never had *sigh.* This time, Casey’s is the face to watch. We’ll have to scuttle the house … too funny! MamaW preparing to scuttle the house gives me one of my favorite visuals, so Chuck-like in its composition … danger juxtaposed to innocence, the spy world ready to go off and destroy the real world, and people who aren’t what they seem.

Well that’s it. Good night Dave. And good night, for Chuck This Blog.


About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
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72 Responses to Circles and Rubik’s Cubes — Agent X Rewatch

  1. armysfc says:

    Nice write up. i didn’t really enjoy this as much as some. it seemed like a weak attempt to explain mary’s story. if they actually gave me proof that stephen did the upload it may have gone down easier. it could have been anyone that hartely got the up load from or he did it himself. they all signed up for the mission, so if it went pear shaped why did they take it so personally? of course i may have missed that part. I’m glad you guys liked it. again thanks for write up.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Army. In Cliffhanger, Hartley says he convinced his friend Stephen to let him use the Intersect to go undercover. I can see why Stephen would feel guilty. It worked for some and not for others.

      • armysfc says:

        true, and as i said, if it was, like you said, hartley’s choice i still have a hard time with it. that’s all i will say, don’t want to stir up the hornets nest!

      • armysfc says:

        sorry forgot this part. like you said it came out later, not during the episode. so when watching it live, you don’t know. hence some peoples reactions, mine included. if it would have come out during the actual episode it may have been better accepted. once the damage is done, no matter what you do in the future, it can still leave a bad taste in peoples mouths.

      • atcDave says:

        Except army we clearly did know that the Intersect was Orion’s baby. After all, nearly ten years after the Volkoff mishap, Stephen was still working on the Intersect largely on his own in his home computer lab (where Chuck found it in the flashback scene from Ring II). Even if he had assistants and co-workers, we were told as far back as S2 (first in Lethal Weapon 2.15) that Orion was the only guy who completely understood the program. So at the very least he had partial responsibility; what we learned both in Last Details and Cliffhanger (4.23 & 4.24) was that he really had primary responsibility for the download.

    • atcDave says:

      I know we’ve been around the block a couple times on this army. You are of course, allowed to just not like the situation. But I think there’s two issues that make the dedication to the mission at least partly understandable to me. The first being Stephen’s involvement in creating the monster, which as Thinkling mentioned, we ARE told Stephen was directly involved in both the program and the process. The second issue being Volkoff’s obsession with Mary. Any solution that left Volkoff free and on the loose put the kids at risk. Mary resisted solving the problem with a bullet partly because her official mission apparently involved taking down the network, not just the man. But it was made personal by her knowledge there was an innocent man, and an old friend underneath the monster. And if the expedient solution was out things got a lot more complicated.
      I also have to think, at the end of Push Mix, Mary was likely relieved the mission was over and she was free to return home; but she probably felt a sense of failure too. Volkoff had been taken down, but he was still Volkoff. Of course that problem was later fixed by the CIA. But her mission was finally ended by Chuck who knew nothing of Mom’s reasons for wanting to protect Volkoff.
      I’ll also reiterate, I think it makes Frost look dreadfully stupid for not being able to fix this for 20 years. Not only that, she seems to have abetted Volkoff in ways she never should have. But as I said in the main body, she may have come to sympathize with her captor in time, and lost sight of her true mission (Stockholm Syndrome).

      • thinkling says:

        It also explains that touching scene at the end, when Volkoff tells Mary that he didn’t deserve her love the way Orion did. Even though Volkoff clearly disgusted Mary (and she let him know it in Push Mix), there was a patience and semi-affectionate tolerance. Kind of hard to describe.

      • armysfc says:

        dave i agree. i was not commenting on anything other than the reason they tried to give for her being gone, nothing else. it felt like they needed to explain something, and this is what they came up with. similar to how you feel about the other guy. just not enough substance for me to accept.

  2. joe says:

    Well, Good Morning! What a wonderful read.

    I’m with you on the notion that Hartley had a crush on Mary. Wasn’t the song My Best Friend’s Girl a big hit in the eighties? It happens, and it goes a long way to explaining Alexei. For my money, it starts to explain why Mary would spend 20 years trying to – not destroy Volkoff, but trying to save him. That’s much harder. It was out of respect, empathy and even a little guilt, because it was Stephen who created the monster.

    Like you, I’m afraid Wormtongue – uh, Riley – is going to be forgotten. Maybe it’s for the best. If this was a 1200 page novel I’d hope and expect to see some explanation. But with only 13 episodes left there’s other things I want to see first.

    • atcDave says:

      Joe you summed up my sentiments on Riley exactly. I am curious about how he knew what he knew; but time is short and there’s other things I’d rather see.

    • thinkling says:

      LOL Wormtongue … or Lizardtongue. Yea, he’s such a snake.

      I was just trying to figure out he knew all that stuff that was soo secret. That’s the best theory I could come up with. If they revisit the conspiracy, which they are bound to, it has to deal with Agent X. All they would need would be a simple line that the CIA conspiracy had men on the inside, like Riley.

      A agree about Mary. Her Stockhome Sydrome had a better footing, realizing that Volkoff/Hartley was himself a hostage.

  3. jason says:

    The ep under review was the 22nd episode of the 4th season, #76 overall. I doubt TPTB thought they’d ever have to worry about what to tie up and what to leave dangling this late in the Chuck story. They left Ellie in the dark for 76 episodes, except for a few minutes late in season 3, and seemed perfectly content to leave her in the dark ‘forever’ had the show ended at Push Mix. At some point they had to tell her in s4, for those of us who did not like her in the dark, this was an opportunity to really make a statement. Did they? I guess that depends. The Ellie Chuck scene(s) reminded me quite alot of the Chuck Sarah scene(s) in ‘the other guy’, sweet, nice, satisfying, like a triple chocolate fudge sundae, but resulting in some anxiety a few hours later when the emotion of the moment passes and one thinks about the event logically. That being said, this episode was possibly Ellie’s best episode, since the pilot?????

    But, even bigger, I don’t think TPTB ever, ever thought they would have to explain Mary being gone for 20 years. What strong, self actualized mother would leave her children for that long? A weak, victimized mother yes, but not the Mama B we got to know early season 4. But tie up the loose end TPTB had to, and they did. In this case, the plot was more like eating flax with your morning cereal, my immediate reaction was a ‘Half Sham’ cringeworthy shrug of my shoulders, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, I guess. They had to write something to tie it up. TPTB wrote themselves into a box with Mary once she was revealed as good, and wrote themselves out of the box with the Agent X eXplanation. I didn’t like it, but I can’t think of anything better either, kind of like sprinkling flax on my morning cereal.

    The lady bad guy (girl) in the ep, sorry I do not know her name, really added something IMO. In a yin and yang sort of way, the show has lacked a Sarah Walker sultry, vixen type character on the other side in a recurring type role, there for a reason other than to just annoy Sarah and unnerve Chuck. Vivian honestly did neither, she was not sultry and hot, nor did she annoy Sarah and unnerve Chuck.

    Speaking of sultry, I would not mind if Sarah reminds chuck of ‘what he is missing’ in each and every ep. How could you guys not at least mention the bath tub? That bath tub scene seemed more ‘real girl’ than spy seductress, in a great sort of way! And so did the line ‘You never really have been to Vegas have you?’ Sarah is really starting to master the subtle humor, and much like Morgan, she is getting well written lines. Some of Zac’s genius is that he has sort of become the straight man for everyone, bringing out the best in the rest of the cast, that bath tub scene was an example.

    Second to last, Casey really had a great episode, his use of facial gestures gets second billing to Yvonne’s, but I am not so sure Baldwin isn’t the better of the two. He coyly and effortlessly kept the civilians out of harms way in the woods. He is so good in scenes such as the Winterbottom homestead. And when he called the team into the conference room at the end, I loved it, he is the leader of the group in so many ways, I would not mind at all if he took a job as a general to wrap up the show in 5×13!

    Finally, what we saw from Chuck and Sarah, that what I think we might see in season 5. Two professionals in sync when working together, a young couple in love when alone. At least that is what I am hoping for.

    • thinkling says:

      Great comments, Jason. Obviously I liked the twist better than you, but you make some good points about an anti-Sarah.

      And I did love the bath-tub scene. One of the best. Sorry for the oversight. You’re right fantastic real girl, not at all spy-seductress. Great lines: a bachelor does not wear that and you really never have been to Vegas, have you. Yeah, wonderful scene.

      I agree with what you hope we get next season for Chuck and Sarah.

  4. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    Spy wills **rolls eyes**.

  5. JC says:

    Like Army I’m still not a fan of the Agent X reveal. I understand wanting to tie Volkoff into the whole Intersect mythology but it just didn’t work for and IMO hurt both Stephen and Mary in the process. Other than that and the one too many Jeffster scene the episode was great. Great character moments for the whole cast. Chuck and Ellie talking about how screwed up their family really is finally.

    And my shallow moment of the hour India de Beaufort as Jasmine. Good lord.

  6. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    We need to start a campaign, “More Millicent Martin in S5”. She was a blast in this episode.

  7. Ernie Davis says:

    Excellent writeup guys. I personally loved the Hartley “retcon”. I thought it gave some great context to a number of things. First obviously, as Thinkling mentioned, why Stephen would be as worried about the CIA as Fulcrum or the other baddies using intersect technology. Second, why at the beginning of season 3 Beckman told Sarah Chuck was potentially very dangerous; the CIA’s only other long term intersect having gone mad and become a psychopathic sociopathic arms dealer. Third, Doctor Dreyfus’ contention that they’d known for some time the intersect could overwhelm the brain and lead to madness. So there are a lot of previously established hooks that this twist can latch on to, and hopefully pay off well in the big conspiracy of season 5.

    One quibble Dave. Ellie did trust Devon with the strippers. It was only later when he came home unconscious and after she found out he’d been nearly naked and doing rather inappropriate things with her/them via a hazy memory of missing clothes and some pictures that she freaked out.

  8. OldDarth says:

    Series killer.

    ’nuff said.

  9. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    Agent X is  yet another divisive episode in Chuckdom. 

    For me Agent X is a great episode (any Team B interaction gets a thumbs up from me) until the last five minutes. If Hartley / Volkov is the reason (they’re truly kind of letting us figure out the reason ourselves, yet again) for Papa & Mama B’s absence than their priorities as parents were seriously flawed. 

    I suppose if I was single with no kids this explanation may hold water. But as a parent, it doesn’t fly. 

    I’m actually worried as to how TPTB  will now handle Sarah’s past in S5. Since for the past 2 seasons most trips into the past have done far more harm than good.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m confident they’ll do right by Sarah in S5. And I can’t think of anything they did wrong with her back-story in S4 either. The only thing I didn’t like about the character all season was when she was portrayed as even stupider than Frost in Push Mix and the end of Gobbler. Obviously, that wasn’t related to her back-story.
      Even in S3 the damage done to Sarah wasn’t particularly about her past, it was more about making her into a confused lost child for several weeks.

      • jason says:

        Dave – with no Packers to watch, the Bears – Falcons game will have my attention, you guys going to win?

        The little we have been exposed to in terms of generic stuff, Chuck and Sarah appear to be very Hart to Hart like in season 5, which is what I want to see. The dream would be for the critics to call for more Chuck after 13 eps, with fans like us just beaming with pride for how much the show ‘nailed’ it, in spite of low viewership numbers. I still wonder out loud, how NBC will have anything else for Friday’s that does better and I might be in the minority, but IMO the ‘me too’ sing to ‘copy everything else on tv’ is going to absolutely bomb in the competitive Monday night slot as ratings will be far different vs live Dancing with the Stars rather than reruns.

        Although this Agent X eXplanation has caused a very diverse reaction among fans here who often agree with each other, I don’t sense the widespread passion (some localized yes) that the Mask / Fake name stirred up. Matter of fact, some reviewers (one in particular) were more concerned over the sugary nature of the ellie chuck truth discussion, rather than using that moment to ramp up drama.

        I steadfastly maintain, some very honest, earnest fans of this show watch a different show from one another each week, and although for the short run this may work, in the long run the show had to pick a niche and then occupy it. I am hoping, based on S4, that they have picked a direction. Although I have not ever heard anyone come out and explain what ‘more like season 1’ actually means for s5 (less romance or more romance, less drama or more drama, less comedy or more comedy, etc)?????

      • joe says:

        First of all Jason, if I may respond for ATCDave, GO BILLS! I’m sure he’d agree with me. 😉

        You’re right about fans watching a completely different show, of course. Human beings are like that. But I wonder myself if “like Season 1” isn’t a code for something that means “full of longing for a perfect future”. A large number of fans, I think, were absolutely enamored with the idea of C&S hopelessly longing for each other, reaching, but finding the other just out of reach.

        The problem is, of course, that we got our wish. I don’t think it happened too soon, but it’s just that all thinks must come to an end, eventually. We’re not ever ready to face that.

        But not yet. The best stories have a denouement and epilogue, and I think we’re about to see that in S5. At least, I hope so. And the time to be wistful isn’t now. Next year this time, maybe. But not yet.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m hopeful for the Bears! But they had a mostly lousy pre-season, so expectations aren’t real high. I just hope they were being sneaky about how much of their offense they were showing.

        I agree with most of your comments, and I think the Agent X uproar was a far bigger deal on-line than it was among more casual viewers. I do think this show found a special balance in it’s first two seasons that may be impossible to duplicate; seems like many people liked the show who actually want very different things from television. In S3 and S4 the balance swung between extremes, and alienated one group or another. S4 remains one of my happiest TV experiences ever, I wish more felt the same way.

      • thinkling says:

        Given that they’ve mentioned H2H meets A-Team, think Chuck and Sarah will be the great spy partners and the young couple in love that we love so much. From the pictures we’ve seen, I think that will be the case … that and the “love letter to fans” quote. As for the “more like S1,” I think that mostly means a newbie Intersect working with the best spies in the world. That and the Buymore may be relevant again.

  10. Tamara Burks says:

    I loved Mama W. I wanted to see Hartley get to introduce his daughter to her or at the very least the info that her son is himself again and that she has a granddaughter be passed onto her.

    One of the things I loved about season 4 , is the way some things got flipped from season 3. For example the running away together scenario. Early season 3, Sarah’s wanting to run away was essentially selfish and badly planned. Season 4 it was potenitally necessary and well planned.

    Season 3 – Ellie was in the dark and had one parent back but didn’t know about the forces that kept them away.

    Season 4_ Ellie’s clued in completely , she knows her parents didn’t want to leave and even though her father is dead she now has the reassurance of thier love for her and Chuck plus she has her own child instead of having Chuck as the only one to be Mama Bear to.

    Much better deal than season 3.

    Maybe Chuck and Sarah should hire Mama W for thier new spy angency. The bad guys would never see her coming until she blew them away.

    • thinkling says:

      I’d love to see MamaW again, too, Tamara. She was wonderful. I do hope somehow she gets to find out that Hartley is himself again.

      She would make a great new hire for Chuck and Sarah’s spy agency. What a hoot.

      Yeah, S4 is genius!

  11. jason says:

    Fringe premières this Friday, I will be watching. Castle starts next week Monday, I’m looking forward to that one. Other than those 2, of the new shows this week, the only show I have a slight interest in checking out will be Ringer, with ‘Buffy’ taking on a new TV role. Next week a couple of other shows start that I might look into, including Schwartz’s Heart of Dixie, but none has me excited, at all.

    Anyone care to compare Castle season 3 to either Chuck season 2 or Chuck season 3? I’m leaning toward season 2 of Chuck is like season 3 of Castle, which might mean season 4 is going to be awkward for a time for shipper Castle fans?

    • joe says:

      I know what you mean, Jason. I really haven’t seen promos for new shows that have caught my eye. The NCIS season premier is next week Tuesday too, btw.

      Despite all the accolades Castle‘s received (especially from Chuck fans), I haven’t seen a single episode. Yet. There’s an all-day marathon set for next week, and my DVR is already set to record something like 10 episodes. I’m hoping they’re in an order that makes sense to a newbie viewer.

      Anyway, when I’ve seen them, I’ll let you know what I think!

    • atcDave says:

      I also haven’t seen much to get excited over. No chance of me watching “Heart of Dixie”, I’m just not into the soap opera thing. Terra Nova might be fun, although the effects don’t look great. I also dislike the current trend in sci-fi where everything bad ends up being the human’s fault; and if it ends up being one of those (gee, the Jurassic world was Eden until the humans showed up and ruined everything…) I will get tired of it quickly.

      Jason I don’t know that Castle compares so neatly to Chuck; although I do have fears Castle S4 may parallel Chuck S3, at least as far as saying the wt/wt is beginning to feel worn out and it will be difficult to pull off another season of it without feeling trite and manipulative.
      Joe I don’t think it will be hard to jump right in. Castle is mostly episodic. The “A” plot is almost always stand alone. The few elements that are more serialized involve the central relationship and an old murder mystery involving Beckett’s mom; but they do a reasonable job with recaps and I doubt you’ll find it too confusing. If you like traditional murder mysteries and teasing banter you’ll love Castle.

      • joe says:

        Gee! That sounds almost exactly like The Mentalist, Dave. Sounds promising, too.


      • thinkling says:

        Worse, Dave. It looks like they’re going to go to advanced geometry to extend the wt/wt.

        Joe, I do like Castle. If you do Netflix they have all three seasons available to stream. That way you can watch it in order.

      • atcDave says:

        So Thinkling does that mean more complexity than the basic triangle? I mean Castle and Beckett have each had other romantic interests from the start. Last we knew Beckett had a boyfriend and Castle was single. Are they talking specifically about making that situation messier (shudder)? or just continuing it without resolution for now?

        I would add here, I think the writers of Castle have more legitimate concerns about moving the central relationship forward than I think Chuck’s writers ever did. Mainly because Castle does draw so much of its energy from the tension, teasing, taunting and rivalry between Castle and Beckett. So to write them together will cost them some of that dynamic energy. Now you know I believe firmly that there comes a time to move on, and if Castle isn’t there already it very nearly is. But I get that this will be a tricky transition.
        I stand that in marked contrast to Chuck, where Chuck and Sarah’s relationship was mostly warm and supportive all along. They had to give up a small amount of uncertainty and angst in the central relationship; but that was never an aspect most fans seemed to like about the show anyway. Even in an S4 that some fans had problems with; the “Chuck and Sarah are now together” part of it didn’t seem to figure into any complaints.

        But I do know Castle has been the only broadcast network show that my wife and I seem to enjoy together apart from Chuck (my wife actually disliked Chuck S3 as much, or more, than me; and she would have stopped watching ii if she’d been watching alone). I HOPE that continues, and they don’t make too much of a mess of things.

      • thinkling says:

        I just heard that he was going to fall head over heels for someone very early … after having told a dying Becket that he loved her.

        I don’t know how they’ll handle it. With Becket last season, it was OK because we never saw the guy, and the CB relationship didn’t seem to suffer much from it … only a few scenes. I don’t even know it he’ll still be around. I’m thinking he’s sort of out of the picture, but maybe not.

        Overall the wt/wt doesn’t bother me as much because we don’t see the SO’s. But it sounded to me like they’re going to have to reach to pull it off.

        I get the banter thing too. Although banter could stay … just take a slightly different turn. It just depends on how they handle it. If it overwhelms the show, which wouldn’t be too hard, because the rest is pretty thin, then I might lose interest.

        I would add though, that I have really enjoyed Castle, especially the first 2 seasons. I recommend it, Joe.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree with all of that. Even the banter part, that goes back to Thin Man again… It certainly is possible to write fun banter for a happy couple, but I can see where it would be a big change in style on Castle. I’m not at all saying I don’t want to see them try; in fact I think they must try, and soon. I’m only saying I appreciate it will be a tougher task than it was on Chuck.
        If Castle is falling for someone new shortly after professing love to Becket, that would present the same sort of problems I had with Chuck going after Hannah so soon after “Three Words”. On Castle it would be particularly bad (from this viewer’s perspective) since Castle is sort of burdened by a bad boy/sleaze bag image anyway. Chasing after tail, of the non-marmot variety (notice that’s even an “Agent X” tie in!), sort of negates any growth or reform we’ve seen in his character so far.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. Major eye roll.

      • jason says:

        I read a fan site (100% lurker) for castle, I read where Beckett is going to reject Castle’s ILU while admitting somehow or other that he is the only man she has ever loved, and she is rejecting him because doesn’t want to foul what they have as partners up – exactly how that will work – I don’t know – this is based on one sentence somewhere.

        I also read where Castle is not going to be allowed on missions by the new chief, at least in the beginning.

        Finally, I read that Castle will have a torrid affair with a new LI.

        That all can maybe work together, but seems very Chuck s3’ish, hence my ? about the comparison. My advice to the Castle writers would be to sharpen up your pencils, because every dot on the i’s and crosses on the t’s will be examined by your fans if you decide to up the stakes with the wt/wt all season long.

        My theory is Castle will go for the same effect as Chuck did s3.0, end up in each other’s arms (and a bed) for the first time in the last minute of the last ep of the s4.

      • atcDave says:

        You may be right about the end game Jason; but all the rest of your news sounds absolutely horrible to me.

      • joe says:

        You’ve peaked my interest!

        I still keep coming back to The Mentalist, though. Patrick Jane is arrogant, abrasive and blunt to the point where he comes off like a jerk or even a bad-boy. But at the same time, he’s almost Chuck-like in his passivity; he refuses to touch a gun. Like Chuck, the guy is extremely bright.

        Chuck’s “Charles Carmichael” side is much more “alpha”, but Jane’s has much more presence than the nerd-herder we saw at first.

        Jane’s pseudo-love-interest, Theresa Lisbon, would never admit to falling for Jane. She only admits to being his boss. Then she becomes a protective lioness when he’s in trouble (yeah, every episode), much like Sarah in S1.

        After 4 (I think) seasons, they’ve barely moved their relationship, but the secondary characters (Grace and Rigsby) make up for that a little. They too have had a nice romantic tension going.

        It’s been a clever “whodunit” with a pretty interesting continuing plot-line, but it’s clear that, like Bones, the relationships are secondary to the murder mystery.

      • JC says:

        Fringe is the show I’m most hyped about returning. Sons of Anarchy had a strong premier after a lackluster S3. Of the new shows I’ll watch Ringer and Heart of Dixie because of Gellar and Bilson. There’s a couple others out there like the ones with Jennifer Morrison and Jason Issacs that sound promising but I doubt they stick around a whole season.

        If I was a Castle fan I’d be more worried about the show turning into Bones. It was an enjoyable turn your brain off show that had leads with great chemistry until the WT/WT dominated everything else. If the Castle writers stay away from that model and I think they will since the relationship has been handled great IMO it’ll be fine.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto that, Dave. Horrible indeed.

        JC I agree on Bones. I was fine with the chemistry they had, plus I think they have one of the strongest overall casts. I would have been OK with them together, but the way they got them together … eye roll … twitch … tic … oh brother. Cop out.

      • jason says:

        JC – exactly – at some point the wt/wt takes the show from the writers and creators, the only way to move forward is to wrap the wt/wt up, and then move the relationship (with the corresponding banter) into another reality for another block of episodes. Chuck is way ahead of many shows in this regard, maybe other shows will learn from Chuck and do it better? The reason I brought it up, seems Castle is heading straight to that same decision point, might call it a sw/sw – not Sarah Walker / Sam Walker but rather ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ – couple them up?

      • atcDave says:

        I think you guys are exactly right about that being one of the major problems with on-going wt/wt. It does come to dominate over time.
        Remember that Nathan Fillian interview from a few days ago? While I can’t deny he made a couple good points, I think he also illustrated a huge problem for us as viewers. That is, a FIRMLY entrenched mind set in much of Hollywood that resolving wt/wt is for series’ finales only. That attitude is one of the big reasons why I usually find movies more satisfying than television. It’s bad enough that with serialized television the timing of major plot turning points can be predicted like clockwork (gee, 15 minutes to go in the season finale, something big must happen now…), but even character development and secondary issues are often slaves to the clock/calender. At least with cinema, plots are resolved more quickly; and unless one is very anal about running times (and paying attention to when the movie started after the previews!) there can be some suspense about when the climax is going to come!

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly Dave. In a two hour movie OK. you can resolve the wt/wt in a satisfying fashion. Romantic comedies are boiler plate, but I still enjoy them. But you can’t keep stretching that particular 2 hr boiler plate over multiple seasons.

        One fix is to get the leads together early in the series and season (episode 4, of say season 2 or 3 at the latest) and keep charging ahead into the action with them as a couple. Do something to break the conditioning that the wedding is the end. Continuing to put it as the end or the mid season climax only keeps the fairy-tail mindset going. Make the wedding the beginning of some intense plot or sequence, when things suddenly take off. A couple of movies (now that I think back – way back) sort of did that … leaving more story after the wedding: With Six You Get Egg Role and Yours Mine and Ours. Both of those had family issues to resolve after the I Do’s, and it worked. I didn’t get up and walk out after they threw the rice. I didn’t lose interest. Life kept happening, and I kept watching.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, and the example I always cite in the action/adventure genre is the Mummy movies, which has the added bonus of being pretty recent. The first movie ended with the romantic leads together; the second starts several years later with them (very) happily married; and the third is later again, with them trying to adjust to early retirement but otherwise very happy.
        To me, that is a vastly more satisfying story. Not only is the “pay-off” from the first movie never negated or cheapened; but it let’s each movie be about something other than just the romance. And when the supernatural villain is menacing the hero, we know the heroine has his back because she loves him; and neither the characters nor audience are worrying about looming divorce proceedings or if they recently saw them flirting with someone else.
        Of course the drawback, from the writer’s perspective, is they have to write for a presumably more mature and sophisticated sort of relationship instead of just another “hook-up.” And by the way, I just love equating “sophisticated” with the Branden Frazier Mummy movies!

        My take on Chuck is that the writers sort of lost their nerve in S3, but from S4 on have given us exactly that sort of story. Character and relationship growth of the past is honored and more satisfying to the viewer. Sounds like the Castle show runner is still following the more recent, but less satisfying convention.

      • thinkling says:

        Hmm. Who’d a thunk. I’ve never seen the Mummy movies. May have to give ’em a try.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, while i agree with the idea of a stable relationship being better for a certain part of the audience, it’s not for everyone. look at season 4 if you need proof.

        i can see why show runners stay away from growth. i posted quite i few times why show runners stay away from character growth and changes. the fans do not like it. that is not a guess, it is a fact found out by doing a study of TV viewers who left shows and why. it was conducted by networks to to see why people left. If i’m a show runner or network ex. i want to produce my show in a way that will cost me the fewest numbers of viewers. writing in change is a sure way lose viewers. i know it appeals to you and others but in the grand scheme it costs viewers.

        on the part about leads being together. i agree it needs to be done quick. i was trying to figure out exactly when it became taboo. i remember when most shows had just that, family. i think the change occurred in the late 70’s or early 80’s when shows like Dallas, Knots landing and Dynasty were huge hits. it seems to me that’s when it started to change. i think it’s starting to swing back, but to many people in power still hold onto the glory of those shows. i for one hope it ends soon.

        the leads apart frustrates me because it gets boring, and when they hook up, they change the show to much. that’s just my opinion, but i can see the reasons behind keeping the leads apart.

      • atcDave says:

        Army you know I disagree about a million percent. I never heard anyone cite Chuck and Sarah together as a source of their discontent with S4. Most complaints fell in three categories; either deficiency in the spy story, or Chuck still being too neurotic, or too much Chuck and Sarah time. None of those issues directly relate to together or not. and I will always refute the idea that growth is in any lessened by having them together. Now I do have some fears that network executives will draw some of the same conclusions you just did; which to me means unsatisfying, repetitive, and boring wt/wt stories are likely to dominate for quite some time.

        Thinkling the Mummy movies are funny, I would cautiously say you would like them. When they first one came out, my wife did not to join me at theater (I love classic monster movies from the 30s and 40s and Brandon Frazier, so I couldn’t resist). But I convinced her to try when it came to video and she loved it. It is NOT horror in the modern sense of the word. It is, comic action-adventure with a sweet romance between two likable characters, and very fun in several ways. The sequels are similar in tone, if you like the first you’ll like sequels (the second is better than third).

      • jason says:

        dave – I’ll have to check out the Mummy series since you’ve mentioned them a few times, never saw any of them, they sound good. Even though I have been very critical of the Chuck creative team, in general, I cut such teams a great deal of slack. So far, I have found the Castle show runner (Marlowe I think is his name) to be a delight to be a fan of. He has written his characters very true to themselves and each other, so until he proves me wrong, I am on his side.

        A problem with S3 and Chuck, was they teased CS’s relationship like it would be bad, then wrote it far worse than anyone imagined. Far better to toss some teasers out there to imply bad, then deliver good or even great.

        I read an interview with the Castle show runner prior to last season, he said that he realizes fans love his couple, and doesn’t plan to ever disrespect that feeling. So far, he has kept his word thru a season where both his leads had LI’s. I think s4 is going to be OK, once they get thru what will probably be a fairly cringe worthy start.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve also been pleased with Castle so far, and you may be right Jason that the end product may be completely satisfying. I hope so. I’m certainly not going to refuse to watch or any such nonsense based on rumors. But I am concerned by things I’ve heard, and I do believe there is an institutional problem in Hollywood with the way relationships are written. Chuck, with one fairly major misstep, has managed to defy convention and do things very well. My feeling is that Castle will not be nearly as bold. In some ways, it doesn’t matter as much; Castle is different and I’m not as invested in the characters. Even if I were, the characters are different in a way that I don’t root for them quite the same way. So my expecting less may be good news; the show could certainly exceed my expectations quite easily!

      • Big Kev says:

        I don’t know where I sit on this one. I’ll be upfront – I thought the Chuck and Sarah story was pretty pedestrian throughout most of S4. Now, to be clear, I don’t think that was BECAUSE Chuck and Sarah were together – but there’s no doubt that I was far less interested in what Chuck and Sarah were doing in S4 than in any other season – and given that Chuck and Sarah are 90% of the show – that’s a problem.
        As you say, some of that can be boiled down to specific issues – the main one for me being the almost complete marginalisation of Chuck himself through the season (except for the finales) – but there was just something missing about Chuck and Sarah this season. Yeah, it was cute – but the progress of their story was entirely predictable, and just missing…..something. Spark? Drama? Some tension? Bittersweet moments? I don’t know.
        So I’m with you in terms of not wanting to see interminable wt/wt, and hoping that writers can find ways of telling compelling, interesting stories of couples together – but for me, S4 of Chuck just wasn’t it.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave a few things, first i loved the Mummy series in fact have them all on dvd. second the point about season 4 was the relationship didn’t help. just because you didn’t hear any complaints i have, more than once. in fact several times on this blog the complaint was made it was to family heavy. i include c/s in that.
        third, not sure what conclusions your talking about. if it was my guess about when they changed to wt/wt its cool. if its about the change in character or growth. you can disagree if you want. those conclusions were not mine. they were gotten by paid professionals whose job it was to figure out why people leave tv shows. they were paid for by a group of network excs. from different networks. change in the characters was the number one reason people left. it may not be what you want to hear or believe but its there.

      • atcDave says:

        Army it’s the study I’m disputing. It sounds to me like badly flawed methodology. There’s lots of room for loaded questions in the area of growth vs change. I just don’t trust a survey that says people reject growth because it’s change any more than I would trust a study that says people don’t like vegetables because they’re good for them (bypassing the issue of taste!). The logic has sort of a “1 + 1 = blue” feel to it; the study is simply missing something.

        Kev I think we’re mostly in agreement. At least, the need to end wt/wt was my main point here. I know the story we got worked better for me than for some, but I don’t recall anyone saying here, or elsewhere, that the wt/wt should have continued. It was already carried out to the point it distracted from a potentially interesting story (that’s my attempt at spinning S3!). I believe many Hollywood writers find it too far outside their comfort zone to write a healthy couple; I am pleased with the attempt we got on Chuck (again, it worked for me, I know others disagree), but I fear the attempt will not often be repeated (writers will continue taking the easy way out) not because it’s what viewers want, but because it’s easier and what they’ve been taught, to write.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I should add to that, I think there are major pitfalls with making the romance the major plot in a serialized story. In most cases, when a couple first comes together, or commits together is going to be the climax of a romantic story. These are things that really can only be done once. If the couple is broken apart, not only does it diminish the previous climax, but the reunion cannot be nearly as satisfying. It’s a sort of story-telling diminishing returns. In the same way, wt/wt can be fun or entertaining for a period of time, but as we’ve often discussed here, I think it always has an expiration date after which it will generate more anger or frustration in the audience than satisfaction. Most of what I watch is action/adventure themed. As such, I neither expect nor want the romance of the story to be the main focus all the time. I personally find an established couple; like Chuck and Sarah in S4; or Nick and Nora in the Thin Man movies; or Rick and Evie in the Mummy movies to be a lot of fun to watch. But the romance or relationship isn’t going to be the climactic part of the story. Rather, it’s a fulfilled part of the story; and seeing the couple together is a constant reminder that sometimes plots and story-lines can be completed and still matter. Just like other story elements may be fulfilled; they become a part of the history or legacy of the story, but are no longer a source of drama or tension. Similar to a particular villain who is defeated. We often groan and are not pleased if they make too many returns. That history and character may remain important to the story; but at some point the hero’s victory needs to feel meaningful, so the old villain needs to go away (I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Dead Larry finally killed off on Burn Notice!).

        Bottom line is, I would actually be quite disappointed if Chuck and Sarah continued to be a source of drama on Chuck. The time for that is past. I suppose it must be considered a minor failure that some fans were dissatisfied with the sources of tension that replaced it. I do think there is plenty of room for drama in the Chuck/Sarah relationship, but not of the wt/wt variety that we normally associate with TV romance. I think it would be massively frustrating to try to return to romantic drama for an extended arc on Chuck, it’s time is past.

      • jason says:

        Dave / Kev – I’m predicting chuck season 5 will lean toward the action and comedy, and move away from both drama and ‘THE’ romance (CS the couple will be comic more than dramatic or romantic). EricIGN and others are on set today according to twitter, something about Chuck and Sarah undercover at a nudist colony – of course I’m only guessing, but sure sounds terrific. They are shooting 5×5, the ep that Zac is directing.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jason, I think, hope, and expect that Chuck and Sarah will mostly be used for comedy and family moments from here on out. The main way drama should occur in the relationship is in life and death situations.

      • thinkling says:

        LONG thread.

        @Dave: Somewhere in an interview Yvonne said since Chuck and Sarah are married there’s a different dynamic between them. I’m guessing that there won’t be romantic drama again of the type we had in S4. Hopefully it really will be awesome-spy-team/couple-in-love. We had a taste of that in Couch Lock, FBoE, A-Team, and Agent X. I think it’s going to be a great season. What we’re learning is making me feel pretty good about it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, that’s the feeling I get too.

      • jason says:

        dave – you might not exactly like what seems coming down the pike in Castle. But how would you like it if the new lady Captain, used her position to isolate Beckett on solo cases, while the new Captain and Castle solve each case by themselves and never leave each other’s side? Finally they become lovers after a few eps. This continues to escalate as the Captain and Castle get closer until the Captain gives Castle back to Beckett 5 or 6 eps later. Now that would be some real ‘epic’, ‘game changing’ tv, huh?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jason, I’m pretty sure I don’t like what I’m hearing about Castle S4. Of course I’ll give it a chance, after all I’ve liked the show so far; but anything involving love triangles is kind of an immediate turn off to me.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Interesting discussion on Castle. I’ve just finished the S1 DVD’s because of so many recommendations from twitter friends.
        Castle and Beckett are fantastic together and a pleasure to watch but the rest tends to be a little rinse and repeat. Looking at S4, if Castle and Beckett still aren’t together and the rest of the characters remain largely peripheral, I kind of wonder what happens story-wise between S1 and S4 to justify 44 episodes of TV….

      • jason says:

        Kev – not sure Castle is for you – it continues to be rinse and repeat, which is how I wished Chuck and Sarah had been. For me, when I watch week after week of the cute, romatic, warm, and friendly couple banter back and forth, I don’t want to watch the ‘kill the puppy’ scene between them, ever. But I will watch a few mean spirited SCENES between the couple, as long as they don’t persist. Chuck s3 right from pink slip was pushing up against the limit of the number of times TPTB went to the misery well for me, plus the misery was THIRTEEN plus episodes long, rather than a scene or two. Castle tends to have 2 or 3 minutes here or there, then get back to the case at hand, honestly near as if nothing ever happened at all (one of the reasons Castle and Beckett don’t need to be together, they already are, they have been since pretty early in the series, they just don’t go home together). Conversely, Chuck and Sarah’s misery hung over all 13 episodes (really the last 4 eps of s3 were pretty dark too) like the plague, no fun. Castle oozes fun, much like Chuck other than the 17 dark s3 eps (role models and honeymooners were written in this universe, the other 17 were written by Alt-Chris Fedak)

      • BigKev67 says:

        Yeah – this is absolutely one of those taste things, I guess. The whole rinse and repeat mentality just kills episodic TV for me. If the story and the characters don’t move, and I know what’s coming every week I tend to get bored really quick – even if I quite like the basic template. I can stomach it more in a UK season (which is usually only 8 eps or so) – but over 22 episodes I need something other than “more of the same” every week. I’ll give Castle a fair crack into S2 just to see what happens though…

      • atcDave says:

        Castle is definitely episodic TV. If you can’t enjoy the murder of the week and teasing banter there isn’t much else to it. I find that a lot of fun, but it does make for lighter entertainment since you typically know there isn’t really much on the line.
        I’d agree with Jason as far as saying the one thing Castle has always been smarter about than Chuck was (in S3) is that you don’t really see much of the OLIs. The show is clearly ABOUT Castle and Beckett’s “friendship” and interplay. So even if they never get together it may not have a huge impact on how they work together; at least in theory.
        But that said I see some truth in what Kev is saying too. They’ve played the wt/wt game enough that I think some viewer frustration is going to start to boil up if they continue.
        I know, I’m kind of trying have it both ways. I guess I’m saying, the show probably could have worked indefinitely as a mismatched “buddy” show and been a lot of fun. But TPTB have chosen to tease the romance; and that demands resolution. I’m not sure how S4 will play out, but I’m not liking what I’m hearing; I fear they may be crossing that line into insulting their audience (or at least those who care about romance). They have been smart in the first three seasons though, especially the first two took things very slow and generated no real angst; it was just easy to laugh and watch the banter. But S3 started to turn up the pressure a little, so we’ll see what happens…

    • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

      I’m on on the fence about Castle S4. We’ll see. (I do see the WT/WT extension possibly coming back and biting TPTB, especially since TPTB said the fans weren’t ready for it to end yet.

      Considering that the characters on Castle behave like adults and actually have conversations, my God, with each other, it is very difficult to compare it S2 or S3 of

      • Tamara Burks says:

        It makes a lot more sense on Castle for Beckett to either not remember his confession (or not have heard it because she was out cold) or for her to pretend not to remember because she has no idea how to deal with a real relationship instead of the kind of relationships she’s had before (that he yelled at her about) and she’s running scared.

        And if he thinks she doesn’t remember then he might not work up the courage to tell her again in a non life or death situation.

        One of the things I like about Castle is that you barely ever see the OLI’s in thier lives.

        I am one of the people that had no problem with the season finale where he took up with his ex wife again because it made sense. He thought Beckett was seriously involved with another man , his daughter had just gone off to college and the combination of missing his daughter and nostalgia led him to call the ex wife who knew his daughter best . The possibility of getting Beckett’s boyfriend on the phone would keep him from calling her .

        And for those watching the Mentalist , there was a very real reason for things to be unvoiced between them and that’s because he lost his wife and child to a seriel killer cult leader, he had no closure whatsoever. Maybe now that he’s killed Red John things might move forward with the two of them.

        And with out other Mentalist couple, I heard he might get a girlfriend which I don’t see as strange since it would be extremely odd for him and her to get together quickly considering she broke up with him (and he tried to show that she hadn’t completely broken him by bragging on the women he was dating) and then she got engaged to a man who was a cult member of a seriel killer’s cult and she had to kill him.

        At the very least she’ll be very freaked out and start wondering why didn’t she see it and feeling like a fool.

      • joe says:

        You’re right about The Mentalist‘s motivation, Tamara. Also, Lisbon had an alcoholic (and abusive?) father. It’s a bit “standard issue” to keep her closed off, at least a bit. Given all that, the fact that they’ve kept each other at arms-distance seems natural.

        Grace & Rigsby is a whole ‘nother story! They’ve been teasing us with that, but it works because they’re secondary characters, sort of like Morgan and Alex. And seriously, the funniest character is the totally deadpan Kim Cho. Now *he’s* cool! It’s a good ensemble.

        Anyway, the season premier is coming up, and I’m really curious what their going to do now that Red John is dead. That’s their version of Chuck & Sarah being married, combined with Neil Caffrey’s Kate being blown up.

        Lots of shows seem to end their main story arc now before the series is over. Michael Weston getting un-burned, for instance. They have to find interesting ways to keep the same audience engaged, and you just know that can’t be easy. I haven’t been quite so excited about Burn Notice this season, mostly because I have a harder time following the twists and turns with that overall arc (Dave, I didn’t even remember Larry before he came back to life!). But I have to admit, at the end they kept it pretty exciting and found a way to keep the story alive. I rather enjoyed the last 3 or 4 episodes this half-season.

      • atcDave says:

        Burn Notice, like a lot of the USA shows, I think works better with the weekly story-line than it does with the over-arc. I particularly thought the S4 main arc was weak, and I really feared for a while Jesse would prove to be that show’s “Shaw.” But fears proved to be ill-founded; while he remains my least favorite member of the regular cast, they have managed to integrate him into the team in a secondary role that doesn’t detract from the original trio (the appeal of the three main characters being the main strength of the show to me). So far, I’m liking S5 much more than S4. I hope the back order holds up as well!

        I think the “burned” part of the show was resolved for two main reasons. First, the show runner (Matt Nix) realized that story was spent and he simply had to find a way to move on (so Michael is “unburned” but still not fully trusted by the agency and is only getting contract work). And second because the whole “burned” aspect was never the main appeal of the show anyway. It was always more about Michael helping the “little guy” who for one reason or another couldn’t get help from the proper authorities; and just the eccentric heroes of the core cast. I think the show could continue indefinitely as a sort of a more modern and energetic take on “The Equalizer.”

  12. Wilf says:

    TOT, but the article “Protect The Ones You Love — Everything Else Is Just Details” appeared for a while and is now not found. What happened to it? URL was


  13. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Agent X (4.22) | Chuck This

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