Summertime Top Ten: Chuck vs. Subway/Ring Pt. 2

We’ve almost become accustomed to Chuck finales: the shock, the awe, the music, the laughter, the tears and all of these within 43 minutes. Chuck versus the Subway and Ring Pt. 2 was all that and more, except it’s a 2 parter. 85 minutes and 14 seconds of utter devastation, helpless laughter and exhilaration. Oh and there was a mustache! Join Joe and me (Faith) for a look back and maybe on the way, you’ll shed some tears with us. If not, at least experience Jeff’s creepiness like you’ve never before. Muhaha.

Chuck vs. the Subway | I’ll get this out of the way right off, I’m not a fan of bringing back Shaw, in any capacity, much less from the dead. I think if there ever was a person that needed to stay dead he was it, but (and this is a pretty big but), if it had to happen I’m glad it happened the way it did. There really isn’t a more loved recurring figure on Chuck than PapaB and just having him back elevated everything about this storyline–from the call to family to the strength of emotion, to the stakes, PapaB’s return had it all. A fitting farewell from three of Chuck’s beloved writers: Ali Adler, Matt Miller and Phil Klemmer. Although Klemmer would eventually return, this still served as a strong showing for him, and a well told farewell when it needed to be.

The credits lists it as “Story by: Matt Miller, Teleplay by Ali Adler and Phil Klemmer,” and as you’d expect from a collaborative effort you see the strengths (more strengths than weaknesses though that too is present) of each individual writer within the whole. And as we’ve come to expect from Matt Miller, it was a melting pot of thematic elements that all built to an grand finish. Colonel was such an episode, one that gave us suspense, drama, romance and comedy and this was (though not as good), as well executed. Though Miller didn’t have a hand in the dialogue (that’s where teleplay comes in), we can assume that the plot and maybe the pace was his construction. From Ali Adler, we got some romantic dialogue, some humor and just a little Jeff-centered creepy. Jeff’s “Ellie is like Chuck but with lady parts,” says it all. Phil Klemmer’s strength lies in the mythology, and this didn’t disappoint. PapaB’s return to Orion, complete with hacked system and flickering lights, brilliant. All of these and a Star Wars homage to boot: [General Beckman:] “You are our only hope.”

Perhaps the only negative I could think of was the idea of burn notice. It was foreshadowed in earlier episodes, and in fact one of the reasons why it was always such a big deal when Sarah attempts it (First Kill), or almost attempts it for Chuck (Marlin) and even in this one it was well established but it didn’t quite hit the right note.

Casey: “We got to get out of here, we walked into a trap.”
Sarah: “What about Chuck?”
Casey: “There’s nothing we can do for him, not after that stunt.”
Sarah: “No, we have to call Washington tell them what’s really going on.”
Casey: “Most of Washington is in that room. Shaw and the Ring have taken over the CIA, he’s got the whole chain of command eating out of his hand. God only knows how many agents are on the inside. It’s only a matter of a time before they burn us too.”
Sarah: “So what, you’re just going to run?”
Casey: “It’s not just us they’ll come after. They’ll come after the people we care about. You coming?”
Sarah: “No, everything I care about is inside this building.”

Sarah: “If you run, they won’t ever stop looking for you.”
Stephen: “If you stay, everyone you love will be in danger. You have to choose, who do you want to protect, you or her? You have to run Charles, you have to run to protect her.”
Chuck: “I’m sorry Sarah. But if I have to choose, I will always choose to protect you.”

So they run, PapaB said it best, sometimes to protect the ones you love you have to leave them behind. It’s actually one of the answers that Ellie never got but was promised (more on this later). So Chuck’s been “burned,” Casey’s taking off to protect his family, what about Sarah? Why is she staying? Why didn’t she just run with Chuck? Wouldn’t that have made the most sense? By staying she’s no more protected than he would be had he stayed (as we saw later on when Shaw got her arrested). Though that sucker punch was a thing of beauty, and not to be missed (replayed, even), especially after Shaw uttered the words, “Sam.” In any case, as a dramatic and romantic element, it worked. Chuck’s doing what his father did before him, protect the ones he loves. He’s a “Bartowski” after all. “Don’t know when it happened but our boy became a man.”

Speaking of, there were two lines in this episode, related to family, that sticks. As Stephen and Chuck drive back to save loved ones, Stephen remarked, “if we do this, we got to be smart. Not think emotional. We can do this, we’re Bartowskis.” A familiar sentiment that was said not that long ago, by Ellie: “if you love her, if she’s the one then you don’t stop. You don’t quit, you never go too far. You’re a Bartowski, start acting like one.” In an episode where the strongest emotion was between Stephen and Ellie, this was a great call. “Bartowskis” indeed. The second line was “there’s always a choice!” This was uttered by Chuck to his mom in season 4. A nice full circle from one Bartowski to another.

Still perhaps the crowning glory of this episode was PapaB’s demise. It’s not so much that he died (though I’m sure there are those that believe it didn’t need to happen), it’s the devastation, the loss and the risk that came with it. Ellie and Chuck were left by their father once before but it’s different this time. He’s gone for good. And this time, Ellie was about to get answers. “Devon, an actual legitimate answer exists as to why my father has been missing for my entire life and you didn’t think to ask that question?” A bit of foreshadowing before the fact, but the moment? Devastatingly brilliant. Perhaps one of the best dramatic moments in all of Chuck.

Ellie: “I need to hear you say it. I need to know that there was a reason why you left us.”
Stephen: “It’s a long story. I want to tell you everything but I got to take care of this first okay? This is the last time I’m going to walk away from you.”
It turns out it was the last time Stephen walked away from Ellie. Just like it was the last time Chuck heard the words, “Aces, Charles” from his dad. (Side note: if you’re not tearing up just reading about this, and hearing the song, you’re a better person than me!)
Stephen: “I love you, baby.”

The scene was well shot, well constructed and above all, well acted. It’s very rare for us to see Sarah Lancaster show off her talent, much less dramatic talent but this is definitely one of them. Her face, when she turns around, just a picture of anguish, grief, devastation. Even better in contrast to the smile she had when talking to her Dad not that long ago. Zachary Levi face was also an illustration of debilitating loss, but Sarah Lancaster takes the Emmy in this one. In portrayal and in stories like these, despair can be delicious.

So PapaB is gone, it’s all Chuck’s fault and all hope is lost. Enter Menew’s “Don’t Give Up on Us Now.” Apart from PapaB’s soundtrack “One October Song” (brings a tear to my eye whenever they bring it back to remind us of PapaB), and Neighbor (song plays when Chuck and Stephen run away), Menew’s composition is one of the best things about this episode. All the more so because of the message within the song. (A bit of a background on the song, back during the filming of this episode, Chuck’s fate was still undecided. So the “don’t give up on us now” was a good message to the fans of the show).

“When the feeling is gone
At the breaking of dawn
I will never look back
With the wind at my back
Dont give up on us now
Dont give up on us now”

Chuck’s lost all hope and for a change, Sarah’s the one that’s trying to give him hope, trying to uplift his spirits but Chuck, he can’t see past losing PapaB and “feeling is gone.” He’s numb from the grief, hopeless. “It’s over. There’s no one left to save us.” Enter Ellie on the phone with Devon. Just like once before when PapaB left, and Ellie and Chuck only had each other to rely on, Ellie’s here for Chuck. And she’s not alone.

Joe Says:

Chuck vs. the Ring Pt. 2 | We’ve reached the end of our list. Chuck vs. The Subway and Chuck vs. The Ring Pt. 2 together are our reader’s top pick for best episode(s) to date for a reason. Several, actually. For me, it wasn’t about technique or crisp writing (this, even though the episode was technically excellent and showed some extraordinarily tight story-telling). It wasn’t even about love for the characters. That was established long ago.

For me it was all about being caught-up in the moment and in the story. It was about being emotionally involved, once again, in the character’s inner lives. They had me at “I’m sorry.”

Chuck: I’m sorry guys. Shaw has won.
Sarah: Oh my God. I’m so sorry.
Casey: Don’t worry, buddy. We’ll get Shaw.
Chuck: No, we won’t.

That’s despair. We expect a lot from our heroes, but one thing is expected most of all. We expect them to not give up. Despair is one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ for a reason, and we’re left at the end of Subway on the verge.

It’s worse than that. Chuck’s been shown that his father’s dictum – “You always have a choice!” – is just plain wrong. Stephen is dead, defeated, and there’s no one left now to get Chuck out of the hole he’s in. Faith, you’re absolutely right when you point out that Menew’s lyrics, “Don’t give up on us now,” are directed at us, the fans. Although I know the words could be seen several ways, from the writers as a general plea for a bit more patience with Chuck & Sarah for instance, they’re also seen from Chuck’s POV and ours to be about the immediate predicament and despair. We are deep in a hole now along with Chuck.

No good story would leave us there too long, and Ring Pt. II starts to lead us out immediately with a flash-back scene of Chuck and Ellie in Encino, 1991. Chuck’s broken his mother’s necklace and young Ellie is upset. There’s only Stephen’s words and guidance. There’s nothing broken in this whole world, that the two of you can’t fix if you work together. Chuck’s mission is to find glue. Ellie’s is to be there when Chuck needs her. He needs her now.

In fact, when Chuck says the words “There’s no one left to save us,” you know immediately that he’s wrong. Everyone’s helping.

Devon: What are we gonna do? We don’t have a plan!
Morgan: No plan? That never stopped me before.

Of course not. Thank you, little bearded man! If you didn’t feel better about Chuck’s situation at this point, just three minutes into “Ring II,” then you seriously lack a fantasy life, my friend.

I take that back. It’s faith that’s being sparked here. Just a kernel, and it’s wonderful.

Morgan and Devon find Casey’s car-borne rockets (I believe they come standard on most spies’ cars) and put a dent in Shaw’s fender. Uh, plans. The CIA? The NSA? Who needs them? It’s striking that when trained agents of the federal government want to give up it’s Ellie who insists otherwise. It’s not that she has a plan or any special talents to offer TeamB. Being “special” isn’t really what Chuck has ever been about. It’s about looking into the ordinary and finding the extraordinary.

What Ellie gives to Chuck is a direction. Thanks to her, he has a path to follow, and it’s marked by his father’s footsteps. In a fashion familiar to everyone who’s ever seen Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, Stephen, the man who’s had to fake his death many times, seems larger than ever now that he’s struck down. He makes his son seem larger than life.

It’s like seeing the sunrise after a night lost in the woods, isn’t it? Visualize Chuck in the pilot episode, man-boy, playing D&D games at his own birthday party and avoiding the women Ellie has invited. Visualize Chuck in The Marlin, cringing and even whining at the idea of being embunkered. Compare that to the Chuck who strikes down Justin (Ellie’s turn-coat CIA handler) or the Chuck who calmly sits in Shaw’s office, waiting to tell him how the Nerd Herd can help him with his on-line presentations (Muhaha). The Chuck we always knew he could be has emerged, and wow, does it feel good. I experienced a kind of pride when Chuck faced Shaw in his office.

Chuck: I’m sorry. Are you asking me to make the classic villain mistake of explaining my dastardly plot to you? Know what? I’d love to!

But wait! There’s more! Or so say the low budget commercials on high-numbered cable TV stations. There’s more, and it has nothing to do with Chuck. It’s about Sarah, and it has everything to do with her love for him.

Shaw: It’s a shame. I remember when nothing affected you. Now you’re as emotional as your boyfriend.

Sarah was a cold fish for three seasons. Oh, sure she was – just ask Bryce. You’ll recall she told him outright that his dancing was “rusty”. I found Sarah’s coldness hard to accept then, and in fact, I really didn’t want to believe it. All we saw was Sarah struggling (and mostly failing) to let out some emotional truth, a struggle that Chuck only saw dimly. She couldn’t get out her middle name, she couldn’t drop the cover under pentathol, and she couldn’t show that she wanted to keep the white picket fence of the suburbs, not to mention the home, the photo-shopped memories of happy times and the wedding rings.

Sarah was so controlled throughout that we often imagined a raging volcano inside. I never saw that volcano erupt until Sarah sucker-punched Shaw in the back of the head (speaking of feeling good).

There’s so much in this episode that’s about emotions. During the final confrontation Shaw taunts Chuck about being unable to control his. It seems like a mistake on his part, because from the moment he left Ellie in the car, Chuck’s emotions have been fully in control. In fact, they have been for most of the season. What struck me here finally was the certain realization that Chuck wasn’t the one who had problems with emotions. Sarah was.

Shaw: You have to do it. You have to kill me.
Chuck: No thanks. I’ve already done that once before.
Shaw: That’s what makes you weak.
Sarah: [Whack!] No. That’s what makes you great.

Sarah’s difficulties are well on their way to being addressed. The emotionless, pen-flicking, uber-controlled PITA is dispatched. More importantly, Chuck the man and Sarah the “real girl” have been unleashed.

Chuck vs. The Ring Pt. 2 might have been the end of the series. But I suspect that it might have ended slightly differently if that had been the case. There would have been no introduction to “The Orion Cave” I think, and no search for Frost (and indirectly, Alexei Volkoff). I don’t think Chuck and Sarah would have been left contemplating Chuck’s life without the CIA the way we were. I do think that we might have been given a generous hint that their union was about to become more permanent, like it did at the end of Season 4. We very well might have been given an indication that Mary was about to come home.

I have no doubt, though, that had the show had ended here, blowing up the Buy More and sending Jeffster on the run in a Blaze of Glory was still the right way to bring it to a close.


About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
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126 Responses to Summertime Top Ten: Chuck vs. Subway/Ring Pt. 2

  1. atcDave says:

    This was a very fun episode. Not quite one of my all-time favorites, but a very good episode. Some really memorable moments; Devon and Morgan being given a mission by General B, Sarah slugging Shaw in his office, the death of Stephen, Casey’s “blessing” of Charah, the missile launcher in Casey’s car, Chuck embracing his inner Nerd Herder to take down The Ring, and the epic showdown in the Buy More up to its destruction. Very fun episode.

    To me, it is marred by a couple of nagging flaws. I simply can never buy Sarah being left on the sidewalk as Chuck and Dad race off. She clearly would have been better off with them, and they would have been stronger with her. Of course it did set up the awesome scene in Shaw’s office, but that was a clear case of the puppet’s strings showings. And it strikes me was one of the most blatant manipulations of S3.5.
    Chuck’s promise to Ellie was also a clumsy and annoying moment. I will never understand how an ADULT can think its appropriate to have such a conversation with a sibling while excluding a significant other. I’m guessing whoever conceived of this plot device has been divorced at least once (or will be…). And of course, this ties directly into my final complaint with this episode…
    I didn’t care for the very end. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but it left us with well founded fears of another round of “lying Chuck” for the off-season. It just left me with a sour last taste before the break. I like to think we the fans were heard this time though; I’m VERY pleased with how the issue was addressed and dispatched in 4.01. The fact it HAD to be addressed shows it was indeed a valid concern on our part, and I wonder if lies and deception might have remained an issue if we hadn’t been so loud and clear in our dislike of this theme.
    These last two tie together because of how S4 begins. Both are resolved quickly, but both sort of indicate the bad place this finale left us in.

    So I’d sum up by saying fun episode, but some fairly major sticking points.

    • joe says:

      I agree in large part with you, Dave. Sarah staying on the dock stuck out like a sore thumb. It’s taken me too many viewings to understand the logic behind it; I’ll give the writers credit for trying to make it sensical, setting it up as a parallel to Stephen leaving his family to keep them safe.

      But it’s nothing that I can see either Chuck or Sarah doing, especially at that stage of their relationship. The good news is that it only took one phone call from Morgan (and about 30 seconds of screen time) to set that straight, and Sarah’s punch to the back of Shaw’s head is the dividend.

      I’m not so down on the ending, though. I really thought the Orion Cave was cool! If there was one thing I would wish changed in S4, it would be to keep it and use it as the base Castle became.

      I generally haven’t been bothered by the issue everyone else has had about lying. Yeah, I tend to think of it as a lesser offense, withholding, but at the same time, I know your absolutely right about the straight line to divorce! – I speak from experience.

      Let’s say that it’s one of the ways I admit to being like Chuck. 😉 <- nervous, guilty grin!

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree the Orion cave was a cool idea, and I wish they’d used it more. I think as a setting they must have decided it was sort of redundant with Castle. Which is really too bad, maybe if they’d had Chuck and Sarah move to the house, the cave could have been used more. But yeah, the lying or “withholding” bothered me a lot; but I see that as a separate issue from the cave itself.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto on the lying.

        The Orion base would have been cool to use. But if Chuck and Sarah moved there, then you lose the courtyard and the proximity to Ellie and Awesome. If it became their Castle, there goes the last shred of usefulness of the Buymore.

      • joe says:

        Hummmm… As Lester would say, Thinkling, “Tru dat.”

  2. jason says:

    I did not like the pair of eps at all, bottom ten. In no particular order:

    1 – Shaw returned
    2 – Misery returned
    3 – Stephen’s execution made no sense, should have been epic, and controlled by Stephen, but instead, it was much like other key Chuck moments, sort of like it is time to kill Stephen, terrible writing
    4 – Liar, liar pants on fire
    5 – Sarah stayed while Chuck ran
    6 – Very stupid team B captured series of scenes, near painful to watch, only trumped by the silly nature of the rescue
    7 – The ring turned out to be a group of tourists from an old age home
    8 – Chuck’s tricking Shaw into public confession, come on, a Saturday cartoon might do it better
    9 – The final fight scene was un-remarkable in drama, a terrible payoff for the effort to bring Shaw back from the dead
    10 – The end of the entire show could have been Chuck lying to Sarah, no affection what so ever between Chuck and Sarah, nothing special, after all the fans invested, had that been it, yikes, how terrible this ep was as a possible show ender, I cannot begin to express.

    I will say one positive thing, it was epically proportional to how awful Season 3 was, with the exception of Role Models and Honeymooners.

    • ArmySFC says:

      Jason, very good points and agree with most of them to a varying degree. number 8 sticks out to me. he used the same method to bring down volkoff as well didn’t he? he tricked volkoff into saying the phrases he needed to get into his files in push mix.

    • joe says:

      Jason, there’s merit to your list, but one that I have to take issue with is #9, the final fight scene.

      I meant to highlight it, but somehow it got away from me. That fight had a cool re-capitulation of Chuck and Bryce D&D’ing in the Stanford library stacks, featured yet another one of their award winning martial-arts sequences and then culminated in an wicked elbow strike by Chuck, one of those things an ex-martial artist like me can appreciate.

      And besides that, the music was great! 😉

      • jason says:

        joe – I’ll take another look, maybe your appreciation will spark something for me! But, my reasoning and opinions go as follows:

        1 – Sarah was disabled by Shaw in such a weak butt manner, Ellie would have put up more of a fight. He should have snuck up on her and hit her or something, as was, it was yet another OOC Sarah scene around Shaw in season 3, although she got a good one in at the end with the whap to the antagonist’s head.

        2 – Since Fake Name, Chuck and Shaw fist fought 3 times, in each case Sarah watched incapacitated in some way shape or form, while Shaw ‘whaled’ the living tar out of Chuck (Mask, the Paris Cafe, and now this one), of course until somehow or other Chuck mysteriously reboots and wins. It is just no fun watching the hero get beaten up by the better man THREE times.

        3 – A fist fight is a very, very, very dull way write the conclusion to a series, an episode maybe, not a season, and especially not a series.

        4 – Shaw should have died – Mwwaahahaha

      • jason says:

        I’m sorry, I meant Fake Name not Mask, when Sarah watched while Shaw pummelled defenseless Chuck in Shaw’s apartment.

  3. thinkling says:

    In no particular order. What I liked:
    — The overall good plot with surprises and suspense and drama
    — The Ring taking over the government and TeamB having to stop them
    — The scene with Chuck and PapaB as he works on the governor, from the moment Sarah enters and tells Chuck his father doesn’t need him looking over his shoulder
    — Unawesome Awesome
    — Sarah’s calming Chuck down and blueberries.
    — Aw. Casey’s been getting to know his daughter.
    — Sarah slugging Shaw
    — Sarah’s utter revulsion of Shaw after as the episode progressed
    — Our boy’s become a man … picked a good one Walker … finally.
    — Ellie’s finding out about Chuck and Devon’s accidental spilling of the family beans.
    — The tribunal for its revealing of all the government strings behind the Intersect project.
    — Sarah and Casey comforting Chuck after PapaB’s murder.
    — Shaw’s utter detestability
    — I liked the take down, GB depending on TeamB to solve things
    — I was fine with the sting
    — The final battle: Chuck rebooting, winning and not killing, Sarah clobbering Shaw … again, her immediately retrieving the governor … your father wanted you to have this

    What I didn’t like:
    — The scene with Chuck and PapaB as he works on the governor, the bad advice about leaving and the lying to Sarah.
    — The continued duping of Ellie.
    — Ellie continuing to have confidence in her handler rather than Chuck and Casey.
    — The return of Shaw (Daniel)
    — The tribunal for their gullibility and basic stupidity.
    — Shaw’s being unable to avoid flashing on minute and not the next
    — Sarah left standing on the dock … the whole thing on all levels.
    — Shaw’s utter detestability
    — Ellie asking Chuck to promise to quit … and Chuck’s agreement with no consideration of Sarah … horrible on both sides
    — The final battle’s implausibility with incapacitating Sarah
    — Chuck should have taken Sarah with him to Orion’s base. For somebody who is supposed to be better at real relationships, Chuck is sometimes terrible. Likewise, Sarah who admits to not being good at relationships is sometimes much more perceptive and mature about them.

    I give S4 higher marks on their finales than S3, or S2 for that matter, in terms of this viewer’s satisfaction.

    • jason says:

      Think – you took my thunder, I was going to write some positives too, but my list was pretty short – LOL. One thing positive I don’t ‘think’ you mentioned, I liked the start of the mission where Chuck and Sarah dressed up & Morgan / Casey provided backup, till Shaw showed up, which was soooo ridiculous, not funny, not dramatic, not clever, not much of anything really. Then again, I liked the CS missions in some of this season’s worst episodes, the early one in final exam, the early ones in tic tac, the early one in mask, the Manoosh one, Sarah dressed up as a nurse with Chuck and Awesome, with Carina in 3 words, and esp the one in Pink Slip.

      You also reminded me of how poorly Ellie was written in the last two eps, the ‘please Chuck promise me …’ stuff, wow. The writers are lucky that Lancaster or Strahovski (or Routh for that matter) aren’t diva-ish, because a real ‘star’ might slap (or punch) the writers in the face for some of this stuff. If I were a writer on the show, Dalton and Mary would have lunch in season 5 & Dalton would articulate the very eloquent, ‘my desert is contained in your …..’, I would think the entire cast & crew would be in ‘stitches’ at the shear stupidity of their own creation – it would indeed be epic!

      • thinkling says:

        I was fine with the mission in Ring2, Jason. It didn’t bother me like it did you. Agreed on Ellie. She was really great again in 4.5. You’re right about the missions in S3. It was the CS dynamic (or lack thereof) that put a pall over the season.

        Dalton and Hamilton do dessert:
        Alexei would say, “My dessert will eat your dessert.”
        Hartley would say,”Mary, I don’t remember, do I like dessert?”
        Tuttle would say, “I’m just a handler, but I read the manual on dessert.”

      • atcDave says:

        And Dalton would make us love every moment of it!

      • joe says:

        Now you come right here and clean the Pepsie off my monitor! 😉

        That called for a response-joke from Yvonne.

    • atcDave says:

      As always, we’re mostly in agreement. I think Chuck’s missteps in the relationship issues are the most bothersome of the failings in this episode. It is amazing how much more satisfying 4.13 and 4.24 were!

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah. And I had forgotten how much worse it got because of the talk about leaving and the lie about a vacation. Then, of course, the health lie really came back to bite him.That was even worse than the interrogation scene IMO, because it was so public and with Shaw rubbing it in.

        That’s why this final arc was so mixed. It had some really great things and some really horrid things. Neither Balcony/Push Mix nor Agent X/Cliffhanger had these really big negatives … at least not to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know Sarah getting trapped in Mary’s mission and all was pretty nearly as bad as some of the stuff here for me. But at least in S4 nothing really messy was left undone with the “cliffhanger”.

  4. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    I was just never a fan of bringing Sh** back from the dead. It didn’t work for me and IMO diluted Chuck’s dramatic heroic moment in Other Guy.

    The Orion Cave – Look back at the blog prior to S4 and see how many of us were hoping Chuck would assume the mantle of Orion. But no. (I think the S4 finale conspiracy will go the same way)

    These episodes are in my top 6 of S3 (yes, read between the lines).

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of this. Although I was fine with Shaw as a villain, bringing him back from the dead was a terrible decision. Obviously made before the intense dislike of all things Shaw was known to the creative team.

      I do think the conspiracy will get at least some attention in S5, but you’re right that it may underwhelm our expectations.

      I’d also agree it’s a “top six” of S3, but that is setting the bar very low! Honeymooners is the only S3 episode I completely like. A number of others are “mostly” good (Angel of Death, Operation Awesome, Tic Tac, Role Models, Subway/Ring II) but that’s about it! It amazes me how completely they won me back in S4; there is not one single S4 episode I would rank as poorly as I rank most of S3!

  5. jason says:

    Me too entry “Sing to copy American Idol” got a resounding 1.9M in Chuck’s spot. Playboy Club’s début was at 1.6M. All of a sudden The Event, Harry’s Law, The Cape, and Chuck don’t seem that bad eh? Castle was 3.2M if memory serves me.

    • atcDave says:

      Maybe the door hasn’t been completely shut on a Chuck back-order. Nothing like having the new line-up tank out of the gate.

    • joe says:

      I haven’t wanted to say anything, because it’s just way too much speculation at this point. But so far, there have been three things I’ve wanted to happen this season, and they’ve all been shot down.

      The first was for Scott Bakula to return. Doesn’t look like it.

      The second was for C&S to give us news of a little spy baby or two. That was shot down by ComicCon.

      The last was to have more than 13 episodes left to see.

      Isn’t it strange that the door has been absolutely closed on none of those? Am I indulging in wishful thinking? Certainly I am. I’m not getting my hopes up.

      I am, however, still confident that Mr. & Mrs. Bartowski will get a dog. A Labrador. Brown.

    • jason says:

      Last night, TVBTN reported: “Harry’s Law got off to a (s)low start and was pounded into dust by the 9pm competition with a 1.2 adults 18-49 rating.”

      In the true spirit of schadenfreude, Chuck seems like the guy who takes a 4 week vacation, only to return to work to find out his boss and his boss’s boss were both fired, and he now has an opportunity to run the show, if he is up to it. On the bad side of the equation, maybe NBC is just that broken, and Chuck is doomed to .7 or .8 type numbers on Fridays?

      • atcDave says:

        Man they sure are leaving the door wide open! Let’s hope for a strong showing next month.

        Do I even need to mention how much I would love to see Chuck get a back order? (we’ll worry about S6 when we get there.)

      • thinkling says:

        Let’s say we get 1.8 (or whatever it would take to be impressive at 8:00 on Friday nights). Do you really think we have a shot at a back order. They seem awfully firm.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think it would take a lot of NBC shows tanking very quickly (Playboy Club anyone?) for NBC to consider a backorder.

        Since the shows are just now premiering that means likely 3-5 weeks before they’d even know, which puts Chuck into producing episode 10 or 11 when the decision would come. Pretty problematic when you are writing for the end of the series within an episode or two, and been told this time we mean it. But the old NBC team thought nothing of it.

        I propose they start now to think in terms of three three episode epilogue arcs. They are best at the three episode arcs, and it gives them the option of 3, 6, or 9 more episodes. Make each one self contained with an additional happy ending in the wake of a life changing event coincidfing with their spy past coming back to disrupt things.

        Make them say 1, 3, and 5 years after the “series end”.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I know NBC has been firm, which still makes this a bit of a longshot; but in the last couple weeks I’ve heard both Chris Fedak and Yvonne Strahovski make comments to the effect of “never say never.” That makes me wonder if someone is leaving a door open for them, or if they’re just expressing the same sort optimism some of us have. I suppose its even remotely possible the studio is telling them more production is possible even if NBC is serious about ending it. That leads to the possibility that continuing stories have been discussed.
        I do realize this is a longshot, but stranger things have happened. If Chuck can perform well when its turn comes this really might not be over.

      • thinkling says:

        I really like that idea, Ernie. We could get a little Bartowski (twins, please), and if the last arc is say 7 years later, we get Sarah the soccer mom. 😀

        That’s a great idea really.

        I know I’m dreaming, but I’d love to see Chuck and Sarah become sort of like Columbo or Mystery Woman or Jane Doe, where you have a couple of made-for-TV movies per year (or more).

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, I knew Fedak had said never say never way back whenever. But Yvonne, too? That gives me more hope. I’ve wondered how the leads feel, especially Yvonne. I’ve wondered if they would like another year or if they’re ready to move on to something different.

      • atcDave says:

        I know Thinkling; I think Yvonne is the most clearly poised for a career move, so I was pleased when I read that. It may just be something they’re coaching the cast to say now, and I think we still need to consider a back order a long shot. But at least its not an impossibility.

        I’d like the TV movie possibility. I can think of a few movie series that continued with a couple a year for several years. Didn’t “Mystery Woman” manage more like one a quarter? I know they did a bunch; and my wife made me watch every one of them….
        John Larroquette did a series too, I don’t recall the name now. And of course the Jesse Stone movies on CBS.
        I can see where Chuck could be well suited to that model.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, neat idea, but given the scope of the Chuck sets and cast I think WB would be hard pressed to maintain the sets and to be able to schedule shooting around all the cast schedules. The obvious answer is of course reduced cast and sets, but still, I get the feeling most of the cast and crew, sad as they are to see it end, are ready to move on. In addition selling something like that to a network based on the present ratings history would likely be tough.

        That’s why I say keep the definitive happy ending in 5.13, plan for 3 self-contained 3 episode epilogues, and even if NBC doesn’t buy them go the Firefly route and make your money on the DVD sales by releasing them with the collectors edition 5-season box set. Then there’s iTunes. My guess is that the extra cost of 9 episodes would be more than offset by people like me buying the $100 box set in addition to the four seasons I’ve already bought.

        So, now all we need is to convince WB and Schwedak et al to make 100 episodes whether NBC wants to air them or not.

      • joe says:

        You guys are trying to get my hopes up for a continuing saga. Aren’t you!?

        After buying the Chuck-covered TV guide (and who buys TV Guide anymore!!!) and the Maxim with Yvonne on the cover, I noticed that the stories never fail to mention Chuck in a big way. It even seems a little above and beyond, like this was a direction taken intentionally on someone’s part.

        Dave, I agree with you that Yvonne is well poised for a future in feature films (and I think Zac is also well positioned for TV, directing and possibly movies too). So I would have expected her (and him) to avoid being typecast. Instead, it seems they’re trying to capitalize on fan loyalty, which is cool. And maybe it tells us that there is something more than 13 episodes in the future.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave, I think I’ve seen all those except John Larroquette’s McBride. To answer Ernie about sets, I wouldn’t envision the Buymore as being a part of the TV movies. I’d see a scaling down and a change for Chuck and Sarah. Keep some of the cast around but in different digs … new situation.

        I like Ernie’s idea of a trilogy of trilogies. Super! Ernie, do you see that as maintaining status quo … Buymore, etc? I’d see one trilogy with the Buymore and the rest maybe not, moving toward some changes (that could bridge to my movies ;))

        Exactly, Dave, it looks like Yvonne’s career could be about to take off. She has always seemed a little less attached than the others, but I could be really wrong about that. Maybe it’s just because the Zac and Josh boy’s club is so tight. So it heartens me that she said that on several levels. And are they technically still under contract (6 yrs) until the fattest fat-lady sings?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well Thinkling, thinking practically keeping the Buymore for at least some of them would help them offset some costs with the product placement. Big Mike might even have to open that Subway franchise he’s dreamed of. But I could see the merits of your idea of scaling down both cast and sets as time passes. For starters I say Jeff and Lester pull an honest to god Thelma and Louise this season, leaving them, but not necessarily the BuyMore out of the epilogues. I’ll make Joe love the idea, Skip Johnson takes over the Nerd Herd in the first trilogy.

        You know, this might have to become a full blown post…

      • jason says:

        All great thoughts. Here is a slightly different one, strictly opinion. If I were Schwartz (and he is far, far smarter and cockier than I am), I would be looking at this nearly 180 degrees from the conventional wisdom. Here is a little imaginary interchange between JS (Jason Smith – LOL) and NBC.

        NBC – Hey, JS, we changed our minds about cancellation, how about whipping us up 6 more eps for season 5.

        JS – How did your Amercian Idol copycat do last week in our slot?

        NBC – OK, not bad, it is a tough night.

        JS – How did they lead in for your new, highly promoted hit in the 10pm slot?

        NBC – Well, it could have been better, Castle and 5-O are tough competitors.

        JS – How did The Event or Harry’s Law do with a Chuck lead in vs those shows premiers last season?

        NBC – not sure, I ‘ll have to check, last season did alot better, Ashton Kucher had a big effect on this week. Plus it rained in Philadelphia.

        JS – How did Harry’s Law do on Wednesday this week, vs last season?

        NBC – I think LA might have an earthquake soon, really hurts Wednesday viewing, plus there was a killer women’s volleyball game on ESPN2 we had to compete with.

        JS – Tell you what, we’ll consider coming back on Mondays, our old slot. I need double the budget, new 3 year contracts for YS, AB, JG, SL,RM, and we need to make ZL an executive producer, that won’t be cheap. I want 4 spots on every Sunday night football game, one each quarter. I need to retool my writing staff, I know exactly who I need, that nonsense in season 3 would have made Mother Teresa leave the convent for goodness sakes. Hey, I gotta take this call, its important. CBS is on the line negotiating retooling one of my old WB projects. I’ll give you a call back in a few days. Don’t be a stranger.

      • herder says:

        Bad as the numbers are for NBC, the scary thing is that they generally go down from the premiere numbers, Playboy Club and Harry’s Law at 1.6 and 1.2 respectively (and L&O at 2.3) are shockingly bad, The Sing Off opened at lower than Chuck did last year. Remember we got the supersized season last year because Chuck bucked the trend and didn’t go down (at least not until after the extra order). I still think that a lot would have to go wrong for NBC for Chuck to see any more episodes, and if we did get anything extra it would be to act as cannon fodder (against American Idol perhaps). That said I do have more hope today than I did Monday.

      • thinkling says:

        OK, sorry I somehow deleted my comment. I will reconstruct.

        I found an Yvonne interview where she comments on the possibility of more episodes. I don’t know if it’s the same on Dave saw. Nor do I know if the link has been posted, so here it is.

        The interview is fantastic, well worth the read, as all Yvonne interviews are. She talks about the emotion of comic con and the last season and says it’s the most fun year for the cast, ever. She talks about her films and Morgansect.

        Here are the salient points about more episodes and Morgansect.

        I have to ask you about the final season of Chuck. You guys are signed on for 13 episodes, but is there a chance that if the ratings are good on Firdays that you guys can do more?

        Strahovski: There is always a chance.

        For me, it is very weird. You guys are aiming for 13, but it might go to 19.

        Strahovski: That is the thing. I don’t know. I mean, it is so hard. We have to stick with the notion that this is it- that the 13 will be it. So I think that is what we are working with. If for some random reason they throw us back into the works and say, “You know what? We need 9 more.” We will do what we have always done every season and just pick it up where we left off.

        What can fans look forward to in these first few episodes? What have you guys been doing and what can you tease besides the amazing guest stars?

        Stahovski: Well, Morgan has the intersect now. So the dynamic has changed a little bit. We sort of have to protect Morgan now whereas initially we started the whole show where I was protecting Chuck. It is kind of like we have a kid now. We are married and Morgan is our man child that we have to protect.

      • atcDave says:

        You guys are too funny! I love Jeff and Lester doing a Thelma and Louise, very fitting!

        Jason your conversation is perfect.

        I do think we all need to take some deep breaths here…..

        Okay, I’m excited too. But everything else tanking is only part one. Chuck still needs some good numbers in October or nothing will happen. I am more hopeful than I was, and we’re getting some good buzz. But we HAVE to see good numbers for Chuck!

      • Faith says:

        Believe it or not, I’m really quite ready to say goodbye. I know the numbers might bump for Chuck and it might open the door for more but I’d rather not walk into it. Let the show go out its way, with a proper goodbye. I don’t really see the show saving NBC, or for that matter NBC giving it another opportunity like it did this time around, much less getting numbers on a Friday that rivals that of other shows. Do I love Chuck and want it to continue? In a perfect world yes, a 22 order from the go, that would have been good. But I also would have wished for Chuck’s journey at NBC to not have been this treacherous.

      • atcDave says:

        Geez Thinkling you’re some sort of Google Guru or something! I knew I’d read that but couldn’t remember where. (I was stupidly chasing links from sites I visit and couldn’t find it again!)

      • atcDave says:

        Faith I’ll just never understand that. As long as the key players want to continue I’m completely confident they can keep coming up with fun stories to tell. I would only agree with throwing in the towel if one or more key players (and mostly that means Zach or Yvonne) doesn’t want to continue.
        If the show were highly serialized I might feel differently, but I have never seen any reason endemic to the show for it needing to end. I’m no where near tired of it, I’d be happy if they all signed new 10 year contracts…

      • thinkling says:

        here’s another
        and another
        Yvonne interview (both on youtube)

        Dave, I’m with you … as long as they make ’em, I’ll be watching ’em. Granted the current mythology line needs to tie up, and I can see doing some change-up for Chuck and Sarah to move on to a new stage in life … with the Bartowski’s and TeamB of course. But I would leave the Buymore behind and find a new situation for comedy and some new spy angles.

        Hey I’ve told my son I want a nursing home with Chuck. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I’d join you for that Thinkling!

      • Faith says:

        Look you guys don’t have to agree with me. I understand that my view is in the minority. But apart from wanting a tight knit, well constructed final season (and since 13 is what was planned then 13 it shall be), I honestly don’t think the show wants to go through this again, and again, and again. And neither do I. It gets draining. I’m drained. Last season they thought they were done so they said their goodbyes, I was there, I saw just how much these guys take this thing seriously and how draining it can be. 18 hour days of 7 day shoots with a budget that’s cut to bits and a finale that was…well. This season the cast and crew are doing it again, like they have for the past few years. It’s seriously draining. And honestly I really don’t know where else the show can go. Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe the story is just beginning after marriage but in this instance I really don’t know how they can tell that. They’ve done so much, shown so much that I really don’t know where they’ll go from here. And so what if they get a back 9. A quickly-plotted, somewhat band-aid after the season season, is that really how I want it to go down into the night? No, not really. Let them say goodbye at 13 and let that be that.

      • thinkling says:

        OK last one. Google is especially forthcoming today.
        One more Yvonne interview

      • jason says:

        Faith -I mostly have been posting the TVBTN NBC ‘Futility Index’ trying to poke fun at NBC, as they seem to be rudderless in steering their own ‘ship’. I am with you on Chuck’s time, I can’t quite put my finger on it but some combination of the cast (we all have a guess or two) seem ready to leave, even if they love their fans, their co-workers, and the show itself.

        Father Rick would have to pipe in with the exact quote, but I think somewhere in the bible we get the line something to the effect: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. At least for what Chuck had set out to do, the time feels about right to roll the final credits and say goodbye in ep 5×13.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I more or less agree with Faith. I think the natural organic progression of the story is to the point that it needs to wrap up soon, lest it drag out. That is why I say do the full on end of series, never ever coming back end (that doesn’t include major character deaths), and when NBC inevitably asks for more episodes to fill their crumbling schedule, have some epilog episodes with no major arc that in any way ties back to the previous portion of the season that take the same characters and look in on their happily ever after every so often.

      • joe says:

        I’ll make Joe love the idea, Skip Johnson takes over the Nerd Herd in the first trilogy.

        Genius. Ernie is Genius!

      • joe says:

        Yeah, Faith. I tend to agree too.

        I watched M*A*S*H overstay it’s time. Not that it was ever bad – it wasn’t. But it became less than must-see-TV for me and stayed that way for quite a while. There’s a part of me that wants this go on longer. But there’s a bigger part that want to see them end it properly, like a fine novel.

        Two other things: I really don’t want typecasting to ever interfere with any of the cast’s careers. They’ve been grand people all and just great to the fans. May they live long and prosper, or whatever the acting equivalent is.

        Last, I’d still love to see something new happen with the characters, something that might be done in a full length feature. Seems the perfect compromise to me. End the show before it grows old and give us more down the road.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think Chuck is anywhere near spent. But as I said elsewhere, the defining issue to me will always be if the key players want to continue. In particular, when Zach or Yvonne want out its time to quit. But we can’t know that for them. When they give interviews they will give answers that keep them working in the industry. They will always say “we’re just grateful for this opportunity” and “we’re so happy to have a real end” or whatever. And they probably mostly mean it. Just like any of us, its better to be told your job will end in a month when you finish a project than it is to have security come to your desk and escort you out the door. And if you want to work again and not burn bridges you talk graciously and hope for a good referral.
        We can’t know if they really want out or not until they’re offered an extension and they turn it down. THAT is ending on your own terms.

        Also remember most of the crew works for the studio and simply bounces from production to production every year anyway. For minor players, well think about all the shows you’ve watched in your life, and how much of the supporting cast EVER worked on a weekly TV show again. For most of them, one or two regular jobs is all they’ll likely ever have. It is truly no favor to let them “move on”; that is simply a euphemism for fired.

        If WE’RE tired of the uncertainty every year that is fine and understandable. But let’s not kid ourselves and suggest we’re being generous in letting the show end quietly. Only a few of the cast and creative staff are likely really looking forward to “moving on”.

      • atcDave says:

        And I am sorry if my tone was a little harsh above. But I really dislike the “moving on” mentality. And I really think only the stars and Schwedak likely really see moving on as a good thing (and I bet half of those who like the sound of it now change their mind within a year of when the end does come!)

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto all Dave. We on the outside looking in see things differently. The industry is what it is, and you’re right; if they refuse an extension, we’ll know they want to move on. At that point I wouldn’t stop them, but I will gladly watch every episode they want to give me.

      • jason says:

        Dave – don’t want to make you mad, this seems to be emotional for you. But, it is kind of like season 3, fans did not go into the season wanting to be miserable, the product on tv made them so. Matter of fact, I was excited for season 3 b4 it started. In this off season, to my eyes (and apparently other’s eyes too), the lead cast members and staff appeared near giddy over the prospect of being done. That made me much better with it being over. Again, I didn’t start the off season being ok with it being over (I felt bad for them actually), but what I saw made me so.

        One thing I haven’t mentioned or recall reading here, if they wrap it up nicely in 5×13, I want it to be over – most of these redo’s in Chuck have not turned out well. But, I do love Ernie’s suggestion that if they get more eps, to jump forward 1/3/5/ or even 10 years (I watched Mummy 1 and Mummy 2, Mummy 2 was superb, a mini arc like that would rock), except I just don’t think that is what we would get, unless Ernie has some pull with the Chuck creative team that I don’t know about.

        Anyhow, hope that helps explain my POV about the series ending now.

      • ArmySFC says:

        for those of you hoping that killer elite will help send YS on her way i have some bad news. most of the reviews that have come out ask the same question, why was the girl even in it? most said the relationship was tacked on, and no mention was made of YS performance. my son is dying to see the movie and he read some of the same reviews. great movie but no mention of YS other than Hot Australian Girlfriend. i hope she gets better pub for the next one.

        here are some parts of reviews..

        A pretty, concerned, and one-dimensional girlfriend!

        Unfortunately, that interesting premise is drowned by paper-thin characters, idiotic writing, action movie clichés, and dull set pieces. Even as a generic action movie, it falls
        far short of its low bar.

        Most of the reviews give it 1-2 stars and grade it a D or low C. these are not the type of reviews that get you noticed if you were in a major role let alone a small one. i don’t think this role will garner her much attention.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason if they really are tired of it all then I hope this is the end. I don’t want to see a product that they didn’t want to make. But that isn’t the feeling I’ve gotten from interviews; and as Thinkling mentioned earlier, Yvonne has often seemed the most ready of the stars to move on, but her recent interviews would seem to indicate otherwise to me. The only way we can know is if they’re given the opportunity and they turn it down. At any rate, 5.13 will still probably be the end so this discussion is likely irrelevant.

        If they do continue on I do have some creative concerns as well. But that’s a different conversation…

      • ArmySFC says:

        this line…great movie but no mention of YS other than Hot Australian Girlfriend. should read not a great movie…there is something wrong with my pc on this site, lol. it only scrolls so far before the text goes away up or down and i miss things during the review of it, sorry.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah army I think Killer Elite is unlikely to do much for Yvonne’s career. Right from the start you have to know the “girlfriend” part in a Jason Statham movie is not going to be much for the resume. And the moment the studio announced a September release was practically a “no confidence” vote. September is the traditional dumping ground of movies that aren’t good enough for summer.
        But she’s been getting lot’s of press and interviews regardless. And it’s telling that even most of her Killer Elite interviews seem to devote just as much attention to Chuck. So while I believe Yvonne is the most likely of the Chuck cast to have a significant movie career, it certainly hasn’t begun yet.

      • ArmySFC says:

        one thing working against YS is her age. not many females get their big break this late in their career.

      • atcDave says:

        And that ties right back to why I thought she might be the first of the cast to want out.

      • Dale says:

        I would be surprised if she would want to leave chuck, based on her interviews she seems a lot more bummed about it then zach. I mean I cannot blame him because of so many reasons…but all good things come to an end….I am greatful for what we got.

      • Faith says:

        I’ve said what I needed to say. Some may disagree, others agree. To each his or her own.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave i agree with you on that. what we don’t see is how many roles she tried out for and didn’t get. i doubt that she is just trying for the small roles in movies. she has not yet landed a role that will launch her forward in her career.

        Jason, i believe that NBC is indeed broke. the failures of it’s shows over the last few years has got to be driving fans away even before they air. as for chuck on fridays this will be a test for all those that say chuck has a large and loyal fan base. if the numbers stay close i will change my mind from what i have said in the past. if they drop it will confirm what i have said before. that chuck has a small yet very vocal fan base. i see the season premier coming in at around .5-.7. i believe that the morgansect will have a larger negative effect than they could ever predict.

      • atcDave says:

        Army we do know that a weekly TV show commitment blocks major movie work. Zach had to withdraw from Thor because Chuck got picked up for S3; its a common choice we hear of actors often having to make. We just don’t know what opportunities any of the cast may have missed because of their Chuck work. By that measure, Zach may be itching to get free of the show, but then he’s also been very openly emotional about it coming to an end. Adam is a career second fiddle, and my most counts he’s content in that, so I don’t think its hurting him. I just can’t see any of the rest of the cast being pursued for any roles (not to say none of them will find work, but none of them will be headliners either). Yvonne is starting to make headlines and get attention. She clearly isn’t a big star yet, but she is the one member of the cast I think might make a name for herself. But as you pointed out, timing is critical, she likely only has 4-5 years left to make it very big; because women do have a shorter window of opportunity in this business. (Cate Blanchett strikes me as a close parallel; her first major role came as Elizabeth I in 1998 when she was 29, and she became a major star over the next 4 or 5 years)
        Which again, is just a big part of why I thought she might want to get out. But recent interviews have me thinking maybe not…. (steady work does have value after all!)

        I really have no idea what to expect with a Friday slot. There have been stories these last couple days showing Chuck has the most internet buzz of any television series period. That MAY give us some resilience in spite of the schedule change. But then it may just mean a very small number of us are very vocal (please don’t count the number of my posts!). I’m cautiously optimistic, but I really don’t know what to expect.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Like quite a few here, I’m good with 13 for S5.

        However I would like to see Morgan clean shaven before the end. 😀

      • BigKev67 says:

        Yeah, I’m happy with 13 and done for S5. I agree with Ernie that the storytelling possibilities are almost exhausted – and I think Morgansect is conclusive proof of that.
        But it’s more than that. For everything that this show has meant to it’s fans, it deserves better than to be revived yet again, limping along on a basket case of a network, pulling in ratings of 1.1 or below, which is more than possible if we get a back order. If NBC is ever going to fix itself, it’s going to do it with new shows attracting new viewers – and clearly Chuck isn’t going to do that.
        Judging when anything in life has reached it’s end is a skill, and I’d hate to see Chuck outstay it’s welcome. They have a rare chance to write their own ending on their own terms, and make it memorable for cast and fans alike. I’d hate to see the rug pulled from under that. I’m going to enjoy these final 13, and then move on – while being excited about whatever Zac, Yvonne, Chris Fedak et al come up with next.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Just to clarify, yes, as Kev says I think most of the story is told for this journey and it needs to wrap up soon to make for a well paced satrisfying story. I want to see that happen this season. Are there other stories to be told and other possible journeys for these characters? Certainly. But for me, at this point, there is an emotional investment in happily ever after that works better if we close the book. I want to see that Paris hotel room or that hospital hallway moment as the final seconds of Chuck.

        Now given that, would I be OK with a backorder? Sure. My guess is that it’s NBC’s option from the way the cast and crew have talked about it. I think there is a way that they can preserve that happily ever after by doing what they’ve done before, but slightly different.

        The emotional happily ever after they’ve already mastered. They just move to the next step. From that Paris hotel room to the Honeymoon and the life together that follows, from the relationship to making it permanent with an engagement, and then a wedding, and now the next obvious step, building that partnership and marriage into a life together. The endpoint of that is obviously starting a family, to me at least. So with that in mind they can easily add a few more episodes that show us them starting that family that is established as the next step in 5.13. Where they have problems is usually the big bad or the spy arcs.

        In both season 3 and season 4 their solution was to resurrect a defeated enemy and re-defeat him essentially. I think it worked pretty well in both seasons, better in 4 than 3, but I understand opinions vary (and no need to go into that argument).

        My point is that if the backorder comes, don’t do that again. Let Decker and the conspiracy stay defeated and Chuck and Sarah stay retired (if they go that way), just concentrate on the strengths of the show, a three episode arc that takes the established characters through a life changing or important event. No big bad, just a run of the mill villain. No larger mythology, just a bit of the past intruding on the happily ever after, which is quickly re-established at the end of the third episode. And it’s a chance for returning guest stars. What happens when The Cat Squad returns to find Sarah happily pregnant (and Chris Fedak faces his nightmare writing scenario 😉 ). Or what about Casey being tempted with an offer to be the head of Costa Gravas’ military as Goya heads for re-election as presedente. Maybe Jill pops back up looking for a “friendly” face to reach out to the CIA and cut a deal. Or maybe Jack Burton cons the wrong guy, and he needs to put a team together to help him take him down.

        Three episode arcs are this teams sweet spot, and by planning on three of them, they can give NBC 3, 6 or 9 extra episodes without diminishing the finale they are now working for. These guys do endings really well, as we’ve seen with the ones they let stand, and I have no doubt they could manage three more of them if they had to. But just let it end this season, no hooks for a new big bad and more mythology. That journey, an their life as a happy couple is about done. If there is to be a season 6, an episodic back order has established a new format. If Chuck is enough of a hit Friday to bring back, it’s strong enough to re-invent itself, and it isn’t the intersect or the WT/WT people will be tuning in to see. It’ll be Hart to Hart meets The Thin Man meets The A-Team.

        In an ideal world we’d have a 22 episode order up front, but this is NBC we’re talking about. And while the new team seems to have a better handle on things, like not delaying renewal till the writers have to take new jobs and not doing a backhanded cancellation by slashing the budget and moving it to mid-season, they’re still dealing with decisions made by the old NBC team. Like this years new shows. It’s not ideal, and perhaps that well known end date is a blessing, despite my compulsive need to see them get to 100 episodes, but I think, based on last season’s performance, that Chris Fedak and the Chuck team can wrap things up at the top of their game, no matter what gets thrown at them.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie you know I like all of those ideas a lot. I expect great things from a 13 episode main arc for S5, and I like your ideas and structure for a possible back-order. I think I’m not as wedded to the idea of a particular journey as you, so I’m happy to say I want to watch the characters I love, and I’m confident an appropriate story or journey will follow.
        But 5.13 is most likely to be the end, and I’m fine with that too, or will be…. eventually… sigh…

  6. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Jason, Shepperd: ditto.
    I can actually watch 3.19 over again, but 3.18, nope. For me, this is one of Chuck’s worst, possibly tied for THE worst. The only positive thing I can say about 3.18 is that it didn’t do nearly as much damage to the fanbase as it could have, simply because just about all of the people it would have alienated had already left because of the disastrous 3.17. If I remember right, the show’s ratings went from 1.9 to 1.7, tied for the season low, from Living Dead to the Subway.

    There were a lot of things I couldn’t stand about this episode, Schiziophrenic Sarah being one of them. How does she react the first time she sees Shaw after Paris? Remember Paris? Where Shaw drugged her, tormented her by telling her how he was going to use her death to destroy everything she had worked for in her adult life, betrayed his country and then gives the secrets of the Intersect, the priceless secret she had been guarding with her life for 3 years to THE RING, the people who killed Bryce Larkin (remember him?). Then, when Shaw drags her onto the bridge so he can throw her into the the Seine so he can watch while she dies a slow, helpless death, what is Shaw’s last act after being shot in the chest multiple times? He clamps his hand on her wrist in a vise-like grip so he can drag her into the river with him. So how does Sarah react the next time she sees Mr. Personality?

    Does she go: “BANG. BANG. Ooops. Sorry, didn’t realize the safety was off”? No.
    Does she say: “There’s that traitor Shaw! We’ve got to stop him!” No.
    Does she say: “There’s the raving maniac who’s sworn to kill us! We’ve got to get him!” No.

    She says: “Oh my God! Daniel!”

    I’m sorry, but that is not a sane reaction.

    Don’t get me started on the way they wrote Ellie in those last episodes.

    And not only do they bring Daniel Shaw back from the dead, they have him murder Stephen Bartowski in cold blood in front of his children.

    My advice: if you are trying to get fans who left the show in S3 back, DO NOT show them episodes 3.17 and 3.18. They tend to get emotional, and not in a good way.

    In hindsight, this is where I gave up on the writers and the showrunners. This kind of plotting/writing proves either that they don’t watch their own show, or that they are operating in a different reality than their audience. Bringing back Shaw undercut the impact of Chuck’s actions in 3.13, and if you bring TWO people back from the dead, you’ve pretty much stated that the only rules that apply are your own. From this point on, all I wanted was to enjoy the talents of a great cast, while hoping that TPTB wouldn’t screw things up too badly. I think that is why I was able to enjoy S4 so much, even though there were issues that normally would have irked me.

    I’m glad you’ve found things that you like in these two episodes, but for me, 3.18 is one of the episodes that you couldn’t PAY me to watch again.

    • atcDave says:

      I sure didn’t take Sarah’s reaction to seeing Shaw as a good one! She seemed shocked and unhappy to me, the fact she didn’t shoot him was merely an issue of professional discipline. First opportunity she drew a gun on him, then punched him. Later she hit him with a pipe. And was clear every time she was happy with Chuck. Overall I was quite pleased with how Sarah reacted to Shaw.

      But I do agree it was a pretty stupid decision on the writers’ part to bring Shaw back at all. I’m pretty sure if they’d realized how despised the character would be when they started work on the back episodes that they would have created a new villain. Along with the ill-advised interrogation scene in “Living Dead”, this is kind of the last act of the S3 fubar.
      I do enjoy the two part finale, and I’ve actually had some good success bringing disgruntled fans back to the series with it; but that was during the S3/S4 hiatus. Now, thanks to S4, we much better material to work with and I will likely not use these episodes for that purpose again. Honeymooners may be the only S3 episode I love without reservation. I know from past discussions you’ve encountered some viewers with extreme reactions to Shaw. I still think there could have been a good story and character there if they’d only dumped the romantic angle. Recycling him was a bad decision, it not only brought back the least popular character ever, it even undid Chuck’s heroic act from the end of Other Guy. So while I don’t see the issue as a disaster, I don’t believe it was a good choice either.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Without going into all the other arguments about what was and wasn’t a stupid decision or a believable premise in the front 13, Chuck’s heroic act in Other Guy was saving Sarah, not killing Shaw.

        Though given some fans attitudes I understand the confusion.

      • atcDave says:

        Well of course you’re right Ernie. But a death on his conscience was a big part of the price he paid for that heroic act. So by “undoing” the death, the risk and sacrifice on Chuck’s part is diminished. Again, not in terms of the physical act itself, but the long term matters of conscience.
        I don’t mean to make a big issue of it, I think this is least among the problems with bringing Shaw back. The marketing related issues remain the biggest reason against recycling this particular villain. I think for too many of us he crossed that line from “love to hate” to just “hate”.

      • atcDave says:

        And for the record, I do understand some of the reasons why this decision was made. With a shorter arc it can be difficult to generate much antipathy towards an all new baddie; and TPTB likely felt Shaw would still be that highly desirable “love to hate” category at this point. In fact, I’ll guess for many of us he was. But I think he was a character with too much baggage to make his return a great idea. The fact his name was only mentioned once (or twice?) in all of S4 indicates TPTB did ultimately get the message.

      • thinkling says:

        I see both sides of the argument. Of course the hero moment was saving Sarah. But Chuck had saved Sarah before. The big deal about this particular save was that he had to kill someone to do it. One of the big story lines all season was the fact that Chuck couldn’t kill. TPTB even commented on it directly. And it was a big deal on two levels. For the CIA it was mandatory that he be able to kill, and for Sarah it was mandatory that he remain unable to kill. How in the world can they resolve that?

        Well, they set up this scenario in which Chuck was able to kill, and Sarah was OK with it … namely that he killed to save her life. This makes the bridge scene a climax on several levels: Chuck saves Sarah, Chuck gets rid of the bad guy, Chuck pulls the trigger. On the latter we agree on some level that for Chuck to be a spy, there are times he should be able to kill someone. This was such a time. On the other hand we agree with Sarah that to remain Chuck he shouldn’t kill people (except when absolutely necessary – something she realized only by this experience). So it was all very neat and tidy.

        Then Shaw comes back from the dead … three bullets to the chest dead. Well, Chuck was still a hero. He had still saved Sarah. He had still pulled the trigger when necessary. None of that changed. But honestly how many resurrection cards does the Chuck deck have? And considering what a big deal the story itself made of this particular watershed event, his return from the dead was a huge oh brother, eye-rolling, huh? moment. (I hear some people even developed a permanent Shaw tic.) That’s leaving any other, cough, factors in the black box.

      • jason says:

        Chuck’s heroic act in Other Guy was killing Shaw, not saving Sarah.

        Though given some fans confusion I understand the ‘attitude’. QED!

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        The heroic act was killing Sh** TO save Sarah. The dichotomy of both is important IMO.

        By undoing the killing part, they removed a big chunk of growth, and threw a nice piece of juicy drama away.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Really when you think about it, Chuck’s climatic moment was truly robbed from him by Sh**. Were more of us thrilled that 1) Chuck saved Sarah, or 2) (supposedly) Sh** was gone forever.

      • joe says:

        I can see your point, Shep, but ultimately I disagree. There are certain things that, once you attain them, can’t be taken away. Chuck’s growth into manhood is one of them.

        Shaw’s re-appearance can’t take that away from him any more than than Eric Clapton’s re-emergence in the early ’90s with a Blues Album took away from my band’s appearance! (Or something like that! 😉 )

        As a dramatic theme, what you say holds water, but the second confrontation in the Buy More was still a great one! It was a much better confrontation than the one at the bridge, IMO.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Sorry Joe the bridge was better IMO. 🙂

        I won’t dispute the Chuck growth aspect of what you say because I generally agree.

        But from my seat, bringing, Sh** back from the dead, for whatever reason (budget, story, etc.) “dilutes” the value of both confrontations. Either one, bridge or Buy-More is excellent by themselves, but resolving the story twice robbed from both, if that even makes any sense. In this case 1 – 3.13 ending + 1 – 3.19 ending = 1.25 – S3 endin.g

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        But then, I also consider all S3 AU for it to make any sense whatsoever. 😉

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        “I sure didn’t take Sarah’s reaction to seeing Shaw as a good one! She seemed shocked and unhappy to me, the fact she didn’t shoot him was merely an issue of professional discipline. First opportunity she drew a gun on him, then punched him. Later she hit him with a pipe. And was clear every time she was happy with Chuck. Overall I was quite pleased with how Sarah reacted to Shaw.”

        Nope. I can’t back you on this one, Dave. Shaw was a great, even super agent, right? After everything he does in 3.13, when someone like that shows up not just alive, but literally within yards of you, you know he wants to kill you, you know HE knows where everyone you care for lives (parents, Chuck, Ellie, everyone), you know that he’s actually been inside your home, knows the security setup the CIA uses and probably still has keys to your house, you are not going to react to his return by saying “Oh my God, (insert agent’s first name here). He’s an existential threat, not just to you, but to everyone and everything you care about. For that matter, how many times does anyone call Shaw by his first name in the whole season?

        You must be a better salesman than me, Dave. Whenever someone I know who left during S3 saw this episode, they flipped. Using Sarah’s old lover to kill Orion in cold blood in front of his children puts a bullet through the heart of the show for them. For many of those fans, this basically makes S4 and 5 impossible, because nobody marries anyone who slept with their father’s murderer. This is why I ignore S3, except for 5 episodes: so much of what goes on in that black box is amoral garbage, and I’m never going to watch it again.

        On the other hand, I can use just about any S4 episode to woo an old Chuck fan back. The difference in tone is striking; Cat Squad is a pleasure to watch compared to most of S3.

        In regards to 3.17: it really doesn’t matter what the writers and showrunners MEANT to do, what matters is what the viewers see and hear; the audience can’t read minds. That interview was a huge mistake and they should have known better. After all, it’s their business to entertain. This whole season was just one mistake after another and it just stuns me. At least one person assoicated with the show is on record as saying that they knew the fans wouldn’t like splitting up Chuck and Sarah. Well, when you know your customers aren’t going to like something you’re going to do, there are a number of things you can do to minimize the damage. First, keep the window of damage as small as possible; second, explain WHY it is happening, why it is necessary.

        Instead, they not only dragged it out over the first 13 episodes, they returned to the problem of Shaw in 3.17 & 3.18 like a dog to its vomit. And as far as explaining anything, the only real exposition of S3’s events that I have seen has been from the postings on this site.

        Gah. I need more Chuck. Please, Lord, don’t let them screw up Season 5.

      • ArmySFC says:

        VV i agree with you on this one. lets not forget he worked for the same people that duped his sister. add the what you said and well i can’t figure it out. a seasoned agent like Sarah should have done just like she did to mauser, bullet in the head no questions asked. trying to figure out why the writers do things will drive you nuts and back again.

      • BigKev67 says:

        C’mon VV – get off that fence. Tell us what you really think 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Well VV you know I agree they never should have split up Chuck and Sarah for S3. WT/WT should have ended at Colonel, I don’t believe the major part of the audience would have accepted any separation for S3, and what they actually gave us was pretty much the worst scenario possible.
        I mostly agree about the interrogation scene too. I just can see where someone thought it was funny. But again they should have known better.
        I think we only really disagree on Subway/Ring II. Apart from not really wanting to see Shaw again I had no problems with his role as the baddie.

      • thinkling says:

        @VV: You said:

        When someone like that shows up not just alive, but literally within yards of you, … you are not going to react to his return by saying “Oh my God, (insert agent’s first name here).

        I invented the black box for a reason. It just gets too messy once you start going through it, starting with the geometry, which generated most of the other mess. So, I’ll just weigh in on Subway.

        I agree that the use of Shaw’s first name, instead of his last name, or better yet an expletive, was a huge writing blunder. Other than that, though, your premise if off. When Sarah said, “omg, Daniel,” Shaw was not within yards of her. He was miles away, or who knows where, because she saw him on a monitor … a subway security feed from hours earlier. For the entire rest of the episode, she showed only contempt and revulsion toward him Shaw and complete support of Chuck.

        The first time she saw him face to face was in front of a tribunal of all the top Washington brass … hardly the time to shoot him, besides the fact that she didn’t have her weapon at the time. She did, however, stand up to him, confront him, accuse him of treason and murder, and defend Chuck … in front of the tribunal … until Chuck’s secret was revealed by Shaw. Then she drew his own weapon on him … and cold clonked him, after he ordered her arrest. TeamB’s first course of action was to reveal his betrayal and seek justice. Had they just “taken care of him,” in his current situation, with all the top brass eating out of his hand, they would have been fugitives for the rest of their lives (if they managed to escape). After Shaw shot Stephen, that changed. Casey and Sarah were ready to get Shaw, regardless of legal implications. Fortunately they succeeded in exposing him for the treasonous, murderous scum-bag he was. After he eluded capture at the conference, Sarah was ready to track him down and do whatever it took to retrieve the governor from Shaw. I get the feeling leaving Shaw with a pulse was optional. And I love that she got to finish him off in the final show-down. That was fitting.

        All that to say that I don’t have a problem with Sarah’s behavior in Subway, only the writer’s blunder of the use of Shaw’s first name. As for the rest of the points you raise … black box.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        “Other than that, though, your premise if off. When Sarah said, “omg, Daniel,” Shaw was not within yards of her. He was miles away, or who knows where, because she saw him on a monitor … a subway security feed from hours earlier.”

        Um, Sarah and Chuck were in the open-air market (Sarah had just gone to get some cream) when Chuck first heard Shaw’s voice, which lead him to the subway platform. That means that Shaw, who was supposed to be dead, was literally within yards of both of them at that point. Sarah would have realized this the instant she saw that tape, based on what Chuck had told her. So I don’t think my premise is off at all.

        I think that the deliberate use of Shaw’s first name in those circumstances makes no sense, unless the writers were trying to make it look like Sarah still had feelings for Shaw, which would be insane. If she had said something else, then her behavior through the rest of the episode would match up with what you and Dave have said. The use of “Daniel” clouds the issue, because it comes at such a critical point: this is the instant that Sarah realizes that the man who committed treason just so he could watch her die is not only still alive, but was within range of her and Chuck earlier that day. Remember also that it was Shaw who deliberately revealed himself. Chuck wouldn’t have spotted Shaw in the train if he had not tapped on the window to get his attention. All of this would have her instincts screaming DANGER!!!

        Not “Oh my God, Daniel!” (you look pretty good for a guy who took multiple bullets to the chest and then fell into an open sewer…”)

        I agree, they never should have split Chuck and Sarah. Although keeping Shaw as a mentor would have greatly reduced the damage, they were still losing viewers right from 3.1, before the credits rolled.


        I’ve always had a problem expressing myself.

      • jason says:

        VV – you only have to look as far as this blog, to see that season 3 affected sincere Chuck fans in very different manners. I think the writers room just did not see or feel how what they wrote could be interpreted as negatively as I and many others (evidently you too) did. One bit of proof to that, is Chuck was almost never affected by what Sarah said or did, I think he would be reflective of the mood or view of the writers room.

        Sometimes a very persuasive voice can move a room in a direction, some of that had to be going on. It almost seemed like the 3 or 4 bones they tossed at Shaw and Sarah late in season 3 were meant to verify the depth of the relationship, something that was not told very convincingly while the relationship was ongoing. Maybe confirming the nature of that relationship was important to someone in the room as the final eps were constructed, like Schwartz or Fedak?

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        But why did Sarah have to be portrayed as (or written as) unintelligent everytime Sh** was within smelling distance? It was bad enough in the 1st 13, but to some degree in the final 3 was unnecessary.

        Sh** should never have been so important to the story that Sarah had to behave like a “valley girl” so he could exist. It didn’t matter what TPTB intention was, THAT is what caused people to stop watching.

      • thinkling says:

        VV, Sarah didn’t see Shaw or realize he was still alive until she saw him on the monitor in Castle. Your statement concerned her reaction at the time she saw him. And at that time he was nowhere near. You can’t expect the same reaction she would have given if he had been within actual sight of him. You’re basing your expectations and your criticism on a different scenario than the one presented. Apples and bananas. It’s an inaccurate and unfair comparison.

        The use of his first name was a bad call. As a reaction on Sarah’s part, it wasn’t inconceivable, but as a writing choice it was poorly conceived, because it reminds us she had once been on a first name basis with him, something that was too raw at the time. They should have known better.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        “VV, Sarah didn’t see Shaw or realize he was still alive until she saw him on the monitor in Castle. Your statement concerned her reaction at the time she saw him. And at that time he was nowhere near. You can’t expect the same reaction she would have given if he had been within actual sight of him. You’re basing your expectations and your criticism on a different scenario than the one presented. Apples and bananas. It’s an inaccurate and unfair comparison.”

        It all depends on whether or not Sarah and Shaw (and Casey) are the capable agents we’ve been told they are. If they’re not, if this episode is just a look at an extraordinary ordinary guy, his girl and her ex, then you’re right, it IS apples and oranges. But we were told for years that Chuck includes the spy world, and if that is the case, then the time between Chuck seeing Shaw in the subway and Sarah’s seeing Shaw on the video does not diminish the danger, it multiplies it. Because that is that much more time that Shaw had to put his plans into effect, undetected and unopposed.

        That is why that scene is one of the two pivot points in the episode (the other is Stephen’s death): it changes EVERYTHING in the blink of an eye. Before they catch a glimpse of Shaw on that recording, everyone thinks that Chuck is hallucinating, and even Chuck doubts himself. After seeing Shaw, they realize that they’re in a war and they didn’t even know it. And it’s a war with everything at stake: Shaw has read all of their files, he knows where their families are. The instant that Sarah sees Shaw on the subway landing, she knows that Shaw may have already struck at her family, or Chuck’s or Casey’s.

        It gets worse. Have you ever heard of OODA theory? It was developed by a US air force colonel named Boyd, it stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action. It describes the loop of steps in making strategic decisions; if you can get inside an enemy’s OODA loop, you can react faster than he can, and you can force him into a corner or over a cliff and he won’t see it coming. When Shaw shows himself to Chuck in the subway, it tells Sarah and Casey that he is inside their decision loop, that he is setting the pace; if they can’t change that, they’re all doomed.

        If Sarah and Casey were the agents that we’ve been told and shown they were for 3 years, then they would see this instantly. Casey would because he’s military and the US military excels at implementing OODA, it is part of what makes them so dangerous. Sarah would because of her time working with the Secret Service, who live and breathe capability assessment and contigency planning. If Shaw, Casey and Sarah are capable agents, then they are not only going to ACT like capable agents, they’re going to treat each other like they were real threats.

        I realize that I’m asking for the show to be internally consistent (Chuck? Consistent? What kind of drugs am I on?), but this is why I say that “oh my God, Daniel!” is just insane. Under the circumstances, it is not conceivable, because it makes no sense.

        I’m not being unfair or inaccurate, Thinkling. I just see the show from a different viewpoint than you do.

      • thinkling says:

        OK VV, I see where you’re coming from. From that perspective, Shaw was several steps ahead until the conference. He was totally cocky about it, and underestimated TeamB, who caught up much faster than he thought they would … and eventually won.

    • joe says:

      Great analysis, all.

      Of course, I have my own $0.02 to add. Think, you’re right that the scenario was that Chuck had to kill, and Sarah had to be okay with it. But there’s a third side to this coin (??). Chuck himself, had to be okay with it. He’s the one philosophically opposed. He’s the one who faces loss of – check out this list – his principles, identity and Sarah’s affection if he shoots or his job, self-worth, and Sarah’s life if he doesn’t.

      Shaw’s taunts guarantee that he’ll brand himself a coward forever if he doesn’t shoot, btw. He gives up everything either way, including the girl. But it wasn’t a contest. He gave away everything but her life.

      Good thing she noticed. Sarah didn’t call him on becoming a killer and “changing”. That was her gift to him.

      • thinkling says:

        Ooo, great 2c Joe. You’re right. Talk about your catch 22.

        3 sided coin, hein? Is that anything like a triangular computer disk?

      • atcDave says:

        It’s that “third side ” Joe that is sort of undone by Shaw’s return. Not that it undoes the decision made at the time, but there is now no lasting issue on Chuck’s conscience. It gives him a pass on a couple levels; he now knows that he can kill to save the life of a loved one, but he doesn’t actually have a kill on his conscience.

        Again, I don’t want to make too big a thing of this, its a fairly trivial point for most of us and not of any real consequence on the show. Its just on my mind as one of the complications from Shaw’s return to life.

      • joe says:

        Precisely right, Thinkling. It’s exactly like the computer disk, only different. 😉

        Dave, that’s a good point. Shaw’s return does go a step (a step too far, perhaps) in undoing the gravity of Chuck’s decision. I sort of like it the way it stands though, for one reason.

        Chuck telling Shaw that he doesn’t have to shoot him again “I’ve already done that once.” was a bit of a “grown-up” moment. It was one of those instances that confirmed to me that the uncertain, unmotivated boy we got introduced to had been replaced by a self-assured man.

        It goes hand in hand with Chuck telling Sarah that she was right – he has changed. He hated the guy who didn’t know what he wanted or who he wanted to spend his life with. You say it right. He knows that he’s capable of killing, but doesn’t have a kill on his conscience.

        I suspect in this case, there’s not much of a difference to him.

      • thinkling says:

        I almost mentioned that, Joe. The only upside to the return, with regards to Chuck’s killing moment, was that it showed that he didn’t need to kill Shaw again … even when he had new motivation to kill him. As far as Chuck was concerned, he didn’t kill Shaw on the bridge; he saved Sarah. It showed the lines Chuck has drawn for himself. He was able to kill to save Sarah, as well he should have. But even so he didn’t do it without first trying to talk Shaw down. The next time, he could have given in to revenge (Shaw had killed his father right in front of him), but he didn’t. By contrast, revenge drove Shaw. The difference between the two was made crystal clear.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt Joe the confrontation at the Buy More was a well done and exciting scene. That may be why none of my complaints are really that serious. I wish they hadn’t brought Shaw back, but the adventure was a lot of fun so I’m not really upset about it.

      • atcDave says:

        Great point Thinkling about the revenge issue. Shaw was destroyed and consumed by the drive for revenge. Chuck was able to let it go.

      • joe says:

        That *is* a good point, Thinkling. Revenge is not ever Chuck’s motivation. It sure ’nuff seems to be Shaw’s though.

        I’m still chewing on the idea that symbolically killing Shaw is not on Chuck’s conscious. It’s sorta is, though. Right? He knows that he pulled the trigger, and isn’t regretting that decision, but knows that he couldn’t live up to his completely pacific ideal. That’s gone, and I sense a little sadness borne of wisdom there.

        The incident may on his conscious a bit, but it’s nothing he would change.

  7. Dale says:

    So it had to happen again…back to all the season 3 hate…lol. Thinking back to the 3.17 I do not think the writers were trying to insult the shippers with the interrogation scene. I think they needed to reference shaw and they had to add stakes to that return and they could not do it through Eve Shaw (because that story was a farce) so they had to use Sarah to get Chuck and the audience primed for his return and so the only way they could bring these emotions up without totally annoying everyone is to make a joke of the whole thing…lol. This episode was the culmination of a season of mistakes…mistake after mistake. They really screwed themselves by taking the route they chose in episode 1 and never fully commiting to it, you introduce elements and never fully explore them it leaves people feeling dissatisfied.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, you know Dale I disagree on several levels. For starters, they didn’t “have” to do anything. As a work of fiction they’re pretty free to tell the story any number of ways. I do agree the interrogation scene from 3.17 was not meant to be insulting to anyone, it was played for humor. It just happened to be subject matter that was too raw for much of the audience and not at all appreciated. To be fair, the scene was likely conceived and written before TPTB had any clue how poorly the whole Sham story would be received. I don’t think they had any idea they would be kicking a hornets’ nest. Now that said, I don’t think the reaction was that terribly hateful even from most ‘shippers. Sure they rubbed some more information in our faces that we wanted nothing to do with, but it was all past tense. I am pretty sure if they had known the strength of animosity so many of us felt towards the whole Sham they never would have revisited it; certainly not with the fairly pointless interrogation scene.
      But the main thing is, while I agree they “screwed themselves” right from 3.01 with a dark and unpleasant season premier; I don’t agree that “fully exploring” anything would have helped matters at all. That would be called “throwing good money after bad.” I firmly believe the concept for S3 was flawed in such a way that no simple changes in execution or exposition could have saved it. Key issues needed to be reconsidered from the very start or it absolutely was not going to work. You know I mean primarily Charah issues. The various OLIs would simply never have been accepted by many of us. The other thing that I believe was just as big is we needed far more Chuck and Sarah together time. Even if there had been tension and major issues between them, keeping them separated for so much of the season was exactly the opposite of what many of us tune in for.

      • Dale says:

        You do not really have much stomach for the dirty aspects of serialised storytelling do you? you are not alone, lol. I think during the post mask interview with Sepinwall Fedak and Schwartz mentioned they were in the process of writing the finale (not shooting but writing) and so they were probably just about to shoot 3.16/3/17 they could have changed it, they knew everyone hated Shaw during that interview. Mo Ryan explained after 3.13 how much the audience hated him and they could have gone back and reshot some of it but they did not…so I think they were trying to sugar coat this as much as I think they could and I agree with people that they screwed up Chuck’s whole character growth by doing that.

        I think what really sucks about the show at times is that they just do not know how to keep on giving the audience what they want. I mean you take Mad Men or Breaking Bad…forget their concept for just a moment, there is a video that was uploaded here a little while ago where betty drapper is walking down the stairs in a hotel and don is looking at her, that scene until she says happy valintines day is about 1 and a half minutes of no dialogue…they let you just soak up the atmosphere for over a minute and that is something so beautiful. Why cannot Chuck do the same? I mean we have two very attractive and loveley characters in Chuck and Sarah…why not just spend time in a scene of letting the looks that say everything and no dialogue is required? instead we waste time on BS like the buymore and Shaw and crap like that and never ever completely get a sense that there is something special going on. I agree with Old Darth…this show has a great cast that has been really let down by the creative team…Fedak and Schwartz have just no idea how to construct a work of art…sadly.

      • joe says:

        I think what really sucks about the show at times is that they just do not know how to keep on giving the audience what they want.

        Huh? Dale, you write well, but sometimes I just don’t know what you are talking about.

        Let me address this, but only to show that there can be differing opinions. We’re about to review Chuck vs. The Cliffhanger, which may come down to being the penultimate episode of the series. In it, there’s about a minute of flash back scenes, starting with one from the Pilot, where Sarah asks Chuck to do “one more thing” for her – trust her. It goes on to show several scenes that are guaranteed to make any viewer with half a heart (and any fan with half a memory) to want to go back, pull out their DVDs and re-watch. The very next reaction is to wonder why they didn’t show this scene, or that scene, or about 50 minutes worth of our favorite memories from the past four seasons. The easy answer is there was no time to capture but a fraction of all the fans favorite moments.

        There couldn’t be. They’ve given us that much of what we want. For that reason, I can’t agree with anything close to the universal and definitive statements you led with. Sorry.

        And now I’m going to rub in some salt. That clip of Mad Men: I haven’t seen the show. I saw the clip and my reaction was slightly this side of “meh”. I can’t say that I know what everyone was raving about, but I can imagine that if I knew more about the characters and the context I might have “gotten it.” As it was, no, I didn’t and much like the way you think of the interrogation scene in 3.17, I think the Valentines scene wasn’t all that.

      • atcDave says:

        Dale I said the scene had been “conceived and written” which I believe is exactly true. In this day and age, changes CAN be made right up until a few days before air time; but the further they go past the writing process the bigger a deal it is to make those changes. Obviously, TPTB did not believe the already written interrogation scene would be a problem and let it stand. I’d also say I don’t think they quite understood exactly what many of us disliked so much about the character; talk of wooden performances and professional incompetence are actually secondary issues. What really set many of us on edge was the idea that Sarah ever would have fallen for him. I’m sure things were not reshot after 3.13 because of time and budget concerns; that much I do regard as a mistake. They seriously should have “fixed” the interrogation scene. But I think they decided it wasn’t such a big deal and wasn’t worth the trouble to do anything about it.

        I’d also say I’m fine with quite a few “dirty” aspects of serialized story telling. It is true I prefer more episodic styles; but ongoing elements work quite well for hatching a villainous plot or even dealing with deep seated character growth issues. What I don’t like is showing a character(s) I previously really liked in a negative light for a prolonged period of time. What keeps me watching any show is finding a character (or two…) I can like and respect. I absolutely require that. I drop shows quickly if I don’t find anyone I like and relate to, no matter how clever the plot is. So for me, making Chuck or Sarah unappealing for an extended arc (and they REALLY trashed both characters very badly in my eyes) is the absolute worst move they can make.

        As far as long mood or atmosphere shots go, I just don’t believe that will ever be the style of Chuck. Both the shows you mention are significantly different from Chuck. Chuck has long and successfully used fast pacing, comic intercuts, and musical montage. Chuck has also been, for three of its four seasons, the best thing I’ve ever seen on television, so I’m really not eager for them to “learn” any lessons from shows I’m not even a little interested in.

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t think the interrogation scene was meant to inflame. Like you said, Dave, if people weren’t so raw from the topic, it might have been humorous. I think the main thorn was the earrings. It would have been easy for Casey just to hold up the receipt of said earrings and for Sarah to say that she gave them to charity. Having Sarah wear the earrings was over the top and really stupid. Plus it made her look stupid. They don’t know when to stop teasing and poking and rubbing it in … sort of like Fedak’s interviews (shudder).

  8. Dale says:

    I should clarify, I meant with chuck and Sarah they should draw the scenes out. Like the wedding and other scenes….they can do that by removing dud episodes like cat squad. I mean I could have watched chuck and sarah’s practice vows for half an episode and wedding the other half….I mean who cares about mama b or vivian or volkoff? Chuck is living a dream everyday with Sarah ……show that!

    • atcDave says:

      But I really enjoyed CAT Squad….

      I would certainly agree more Chuck/Sarah time is always a good thing!

    • thinkling says:

      I loved Cat Squad. Without the “dud” episodes, as you so colorfully refer to them, you’d miss a lot of character growth and journey.

      • Dale says:

        Character growth ? What did Sarah really learn in that episode? It was a regression in many ways…the way she let her former team treat chuck was awful, the way she treated chick was awfu….and in the end she told chuck something we always knew that she knew… That chuck’s ability to love and care for her in his own special way is what she loved about him. Poor episode.

      • thinkling says:

        Not at all! In the end it wasn’t about Chuck’s love and care. It was about receiving help. Sarah, the fixer, the girl who always took care of herself, who never needed help, for the first time allowed herself receive help … from Ellie and then from Chuck. What Sarah said to Chuck was not about his ability to love and care for her. She said, “Please, don’t ever stop helping me. There are a thousand ways I need your help every single day.” And it wasn’t something she knew all along. This was new territory for her to be able to receive help. Better yet, it stuck. From that moment on, there was a marked difference in their relationship in just this aspect.

      • Dale says:

        Did he not help her in cougars? Or delorean? Or a hundred other times? The first time she met him he was helping a father and her daughter…come on, lol. In fact at least in cougars she had the decency to tell him off in her hotel room and restrained herself infront of casey and the chandlers…in cat squad she totally sold him out all episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Dale you accused me of not liking certain “dirty” aspects of story telling? I’m okay with a 5 minute spat that resulted in a good moment of realization for Sarah (and really a beautiful ending). And what was Sarah supposed to do with an obnoxious friend? Sarah’s not really the talkative sort, so maybe throw a punch… or a knife? We saw an uncomfortable situation, that’s all. It really didn’t strike me as a big deal.

      • thinkling says:

        Not the same Dale. Before you had a tiny glimpse of something like that. But not near the same level. In Cat Squad, she actually made a conscious decision that she needed Chuck’s help “in a thousand ways every single day,” not just accidentally every once in a blue moon.

        Anyway, it wasn’t an unpopular episode, and we all see different things, but Sarah’s growth was remarked about a lot on the blog in that and subsequent episodes. Normally I probably wouldn’t have responded at all to a difference of opinion. But you trashed an episode many of us liked, so calling it a dud is a bit unfair.

      • Dale says:

        Consider the warning she gave to Jill? She told her in so many words that shape will not accept chuck being hurt in any way or form. When roan tore into chuck Sarah lept to his defence as being sweet and caring. When her dad called him a schnook she did not take that and told her dad so. Sarah may not be talkative but a lot of the times she never let’s chuck be treated badly. She has verbally stood up to him to general beckman, casey, Jill, her dad, etc. The fact that she was cold to him all episode and almost had him cut by glass when she cut him down made no sense. I put it down to nick woo ten not understanding the tone of the show, having a nice moment at the end of the episode is nice but when it is based on a Sarah walker that came out of nowhere just surprises me a lot. I mean when Sarah did the above things in season 2 she as just a handler and now chuck is her fiancee…whatever…

      • Dale says:

        I think I just answers my own question with my complaint….to have moments that are well earned a journey is needed….most shippers did not want that, they wanted light and fluffy….ce la vie

      • atcDave says:

        Dale you know that is an absurd assertion. We’ve been talking journey since the inception of this board. We’ve consistently talked growth for both the characters and their relationship. This seems to come down to one situation that rubbed you wrong that didn’t bother some of the rest of us. I think the main thing that sets ‘shippers apart on most story issues is we want the various growth moments to mean something, and may have less patience with back-sliding (the “won’t they” part of wt/wt). Which makes this particular situation a bit ironic. But I think many of us are fine with the occasional difference or spat as long as it’s organic to the situation and characters, and something worthwhile comes from it. The ways in which Sarah failed Chuck in S3 were major issues and damaging to her character; that she failed to speak up when a situation with her old friends got awkward doesn’t strike me as such a big thing. Especially since it never rose to the level of actually threatening the relationship and became a launch point for growth in the end.

  9. Dale says:

    Darn I hit the post button too early. I understand that line of thinking. So I understand why fans are not worried.

  10. Good evening guys! I want to comment about the the “SUBWAY AND THE RING 2”. When I saw the return of Shaw from the dead, I knew he’ll come back with death in his heart and motivated for revenge against the CIA Chuck ,Casey and especially Sarah for killing his wife 5 yesrs ago and he doesn’t care who gets in the way of his vengance and unfortunately that vengance was aim at Chuck’s freinds and family and it wasn’t going to end well.

    It was Stephen Bartowski who gave up his life to protect Chuck and Elllie on Shaw’s revenge tour and yes Shaw did kill him. Chuck,Casey, and Sarah was in Shock over Papa B’s death! The queastion I have is what does Sarah think all of this? Does she feels responsible or guilty over Stephen Bartowski’s death due to the fact that she killed Daniel’s wife Evelyn Shaw 5 years ago in paris,France and it would be easy for her or anybody to feel that way! I knew I would.

  11. Sam Carter says:

    Easily the best season finale. Really exciting and fun episodes!

    • thinkling says:

      I liked it a lot, but it comes in third in my finales list. One and two being Cliffhanger and Push Mix; four and five being Ring and Other Guy. But I agree that it was very exciting! I loved the Buymore explosion.

    • atcDave says:

      hmmm, interesting exercise. I think I’d rank Cliffhanger, Push Mix, Marlin, Ring, Subway/Ring II, Other Guy. But the interesting thing is, I actually like every single one of those episodes.

      • thinkling says:

        I might put Marlin 3rd, too, but I didn’t really count it as a finale, because it became the finale only because of the writers strike, right? I would say that the 1st, 2nd, and last are very fixed. The middle ones might fluctuate with my mood 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Well, you were listing mid-season break episodes with finales, which Marlin always was meant to be. Admittedly it has less of a cliffhanger or game-changer aspect than most of the others, but I think it counts as a finale!
        I think my ratings are pretty rigid, except maybe Ring and Ring II, those could certainly fluctuate with the day of the week…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Oddly, taken on it’s own merits and having enjoyed my recent season 3 re-watch I put Other Guy at the top of my favorites. I’d say Push Mix is second, much as I love Ring I. I tend to dislike the little prologue pitches for another season tacked on the end of Ring I&II and but I think I still put them above Cliffhanger for action and suspense. Still, all in all, the Chuck crew does endings pretty well, especially when they aren’t pitching another season.

  12. Sam Carter says:

    Subway/Ring2 is my favorite season finale, but Other Guy would have been a great series finale for me.

    Cliffhanger is by far the weakest finale, imo. It was very predictable and underwhelming.

  13. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Ring II (3.19) | Chuck This

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