Summer Rewatch: 4:24 – Hanging From The Cliff

Perfect

There is so much happening in Chuck vs. The Cliffhanger that I could spend about five thousand words just recapping the story-line. That’s a bit dumb, because you know it so well. The short version is that Sarah is dying, and Chuck has to save her without any help, without the Intersect and without hope.

I have a question for you, though. Was anyone surprised at how it turned out?

Joe Reminisces About All The Changes

Oh No! Not Sarah!!

Before the last commercial break, Sarah looks like she’s beyond recovery, Chuck is begging It’s not too late. It’s not too late. Please – please. and Ellie bows her head as if in prayer. The camera comes back to the sign at the First Church of Saints, and it reads: Funeral and Viewing – 3PM. Were you surprised at all to see it pan down to reveal “Bartowski Wedding – 4PM”? Not me. There was not a moment that I thought this episode would end without Chuck and Sarah getting married.

There hasn’t been that doubt in my mind since season 4 began, and if you press the issue, I’d probably say that I knew it was inevitable after Barstow.

I don’t consider this predictability to be a fault. Instead, the wedding was a release, just like General Beckman was relieved to pointedly tell the couple “Off the record, I’d say it’s about time!” way back in The Honeymooners (3.14).

There’s a brief segment in Cliffhanger that reminds me why I’ve enjoyed this so much. It’s in how we got here. The segment shows us brief flashbacks from as far back as the Pilot. Trust me, Chuck. That’s what Sarah asks. We see Ellie’s beach-wedding, kisses before the bomb explodes and golden morning light in a dirty motel room. We see a desperate invitation to run away from everything, this time from Union Station and recall the times when Sarah could not say yes, the times when Chuck could not say yes and even the times when neither could, though they wanted to. It’s all different now. We see the flashback to Sarah saying “And if you ask me for real, then my answer would be ‘yes.'”

In the beginning Sarah was very different, and very much in charge. Chuck was following along, much like a puppy. Is that girl gone? Not exactly; Sarah never was one to express her feelings, you recall, and she’s still like that.

Chuck: Are we freaking out? We’re freaking out! That’s normal, though. It’s normal to freak out a little bit the week before a wedding.
Sarah: …unless…
Chuck: …it’s cold feet? [pause] No. NO! No, because I WANT to marry you.
Sarah: And I really want to marry you too. It’s just, the church and exchanging intimate feelings in front of a crowd…

For just a moment, Sarah seems so stilted, like she’s cringing at the idea of saying her vows publicly. Sarah doesn’t sweat when there’s shooting involved, but some things, we know, make her nervous.

Sarah vs. The Doily

We get to see Chuck and Sarah practicing their vows as they try to calm themselves. Between you and me, I’ve seen Yvonne play a lot of emotions for us now. I’ve seen tough, sweet, tender, hard-as-nails, despondent and even regal. I’ve seen her do desperate in love too, and all of those things convincingly. But seeing Sarah Walker with a doily on her head (to mimic a veil) and giggling – that was new and special. That was, for a moment, a more girlish and softer thing then we’ve seen before, except maybe when Agent Walker was deep into her cover. And when Agent Walker was that deep under cover, it was a lie. Not so now. Not nearly.

Chuck: That’s all ya got there? I mean, these are our wedding vows, after all. So…
Sarah: I think I covered the bases…
Chuck: Okay. Cool. Yeah. Good-good. You go, then I’ll go and we’ll have a little note session afterwards.
Sarah: Okay. I’m just gonna go and…
Chuck: Yeah, you go and – um-hum..
Sarah: Ahem. [Reading from a single page] “Chuck, you’re a gift. You’re a gift I never dreamed I could want or need and every day I will show you that you’re a gift that I deserve. You make me the best person I could ever hope to be and I want to spend, and learn, and love the rest of my life with you.” Talky?

No, it’s perfect. The girlish giggle dissolved to femininity and openness that Bryce Larkin, Cole Barker and anyone else could only hope to see. It wasn’t for them – it was for Chuck. This is the real girl, not Langston Graham’s Pinocchio.

Chuck is even more changed by all that’s happened. Picture him hanging by his heels as Luther Colt threatens to drop him from the roof. You may remember that Chuck tried to explain who he was to that guy, and even tried to reason with him. In this episode, Chuck tries to reason with Decker too, but it comes out slightly differently this time.

Chuck: Let me explain. [Throws a chair through the monitor, setting off alarms.] That guy might think he’s a hard-ass, but I’m the Intersect.

Oh, I love this. Chuck, the whiny, simpering nerd-of-a-dweeb is still there, somewhere, and beloved of Sarah, actually. She didn’t fall in love with James Bond, after all.

Sarah’s giggle is only a small part of her, and that nerd-herder in Chuck isn’t gone, like I once thought. He is only a trivial part of the man, and he always was. We get to see the hero part a lot more often now, and I wonder why I ever questioned that Sarah would see him completely. Sarah recognized the complete man before I did.

Would so we could see ourselves so completely.

Twisty

There’s something else, though, besides the heroism and romance that makes this episode, and this show, great. It’s in the gentle humor. It’s in Chuck being mildly annoyed that his mother doesn’t want him driving a motorcycle at 250 mph (and Mary being mildly annoyed to think he’s been on a motorcycle before – isn’t that just like your mother???). It’s in Morgan having powers vested in him by the United Federation of Planets, and in Casey welcoming “So many Russians!” as they come to their aid. It makes you want to blink away the same tear Sarah does when Chuck throws away his vows and speaks of their children being little superheros with little capes. It’s in twisty rings.

I started by asking if you ever had a doubt. I tell you now that as ridiculous as some of the situations have been, I always believed every absurd, fantastic minute.

Thinkling Ponders Bookends

Wow, Joe you hit all those things I love about Chuck. I love the growth and the journey we’ve gotten these past 4 years. And Chuck actually went somewhere. Some shows only go in circles, but not Chuck. There were so many things I loved in Cliffhanger: the wedding (duh!), the practice vows, Morgan keeping watch over Sarah and telling her Chuck stories, the motorcycle sequence, Hartley (nobody-names-a-person-that) Volkoff, Chuck’s hero moments, and of course (one more time, because it feels really nice to say) the wedding.

Cliffhanger makes a nice bookend to several things Chuck. The first bookend is rather trivial. Did anyone notice the bookend with Anniversary? Anniversary begins with Morgan enthusing over his and Chuck’s rogue spy team: outside of the government, secret to the spy world, team of two, army of one, highway to the danger zone, live free or die hard. In a scene that mirrors the one in Orion’s base, Cliffhanger ends in Castle, now Carmichael’s base (I was rooting for the name Orion (or O’Ryan) Industries, but Carmichael is fine, too), with Morgan waxing exuberant about free-lance spies: men … and women of action and adventure, under the radar, above the law. Oh man, this is going to be so much fun.

The second bookend is obvious. A wedding, of course, is a natural bookend for a proposal. Chuck proposed to Sarah in a hospital corredor, right after a happy occasion that followed a somewhat dark time … a time when Sarah risked everything to buy back their future from the clutches of Alexei Volkoff. And the wedding? It’s another dark time that we hope yields to another joyous occasion. In this hospital, Chuck makes his vow … then lives it out to undo the evil that has Sarah in its grip (also at the hands of a Volkoff) and to do whatever it takes to secure their happy ever after.

Cliffhanger bookends (or mirrors )Phase 3 on a couple of levels. They are Lone Ranger episodes for our heroes. In Phase 3 we see how far Sarah is willing to go to save Chuck, and in Cliffhanger we see how far Chuck will go to save Sarah. In Phase 3 Chuck is in a coma on a steady course toward vegetable-life, and Sarah fights half of Thailand to find him, before it’s too late. In Cliffhanger, of course, it’s the other way around. While Sarah’s life drains away Chuck fights his way to Russia and back to bring her the antedote, before it’s too late. On a different level, in Phase 3, Sarah finds the courage (albeit in utter desperation, in a life and death situation) to express her feelings to Chuck … feelings beyond the ILY … without you I’m nothing but a spy. In Cliffhanger, Sarah happily expresses those intimate feelings in front of a crowd … you make me the best person I could ever hope to be.

Then of course, Cliffhanger bookends Ellie’s wedding and the entire series, as it brings Chuck and Sarah’s journeys to their destination station. There’s a new journey ahead that I can’t wait(!) to see, but Chuck and Sarah have come a long way since we first met them … since the Intersect first brought them together. The Intersect jolted Chuck from his malaise of mediocrity and called him to new heights. This was our hero’s final test. The Putz who got paid to wear a pocket protector is now Lover/Leader/Protector … and without the Intersect. That’s as it should be. Chuck is Orion is Carmichael … the man he was always supposed to be.

Sarah (nothing-but-a-spy) Walker is now Sarah (real-girl) Bartowski. She is no longer on the outside looking in. She has a family that loves her and fights for her. Though I love to see the Sarah Walker of Phase 3, I love the significance of her “rest” in Cliffhanger. Her journey is complete. The rehearsal dinner showed that. So for one episode, the woman who was nothing but a spy is nothing but a real girl.

Dave’s Two Cents

Minister of The United Federation of PlanetsThis is one of those episodes that really makes us think about how far we’ve come.  A favorite activity of mine recently has been watching S1 and S4 episodes back-to back.  I love seeing the change in the characters over that time.  Obviously this is the farthest extreme of those points we can get (so far!).  The change in some of the secondary characters is just as dramatic as the leads.  Casey is no longer the cold killer; he will now go against orders to protect his team and friends, and his daughter’s idiot boyfriend.  And speaking of idiot boyfriends, Morgan gets my vote for most growth.  While he still may still be a man-child at heart, he’s become (somewhat) responsible and no longer spends more time avoiding work than actually doing it.

But of course the changes in Chuck and Sarah rightfully get the bulk of our attention. Chuck is now reaching his potential. Chuck has become a leader of something far more significant than the Nerd Herd.  And Sarah has become a real girl quite aware of her feelings and priorities.  What’s even more interesting to me is how much I loved these characters from the start, how proud I am of the ways they’ve grown, and how pleased I am to have been able to see it all (well okay, I wasn’t actually happy to see all of it, but I’m pretty darn happy now!).

Cliffhanger itself was an excellent episode for me, pretty much for the same reasons already spelled out by Joe and Thinkling.  As usual, I could find a few things to nitpick; from why the weapons on the Nighthawk were fired remotely, to no real “party time” for our favorite cast of characters with a huge epic reception.  But the major notes were played just right.  From the very sweet pre-rehearsal, to the heartfelt showdown with Vivian Volkoff, to the post-wedding montage.  And I particularly like Decker as a villain.  I’m pleased he’ll be back in S5; I think he brings enough menace to the conspiracy threat to keep us on the edge of our seats.  Well, the edge of our seats when we’re not laughing or enjoying some quality family time.

While I must honestly admit I have a few concerns leading into S5, they are mostly pretty low key.  More than anything that is the legacy of Cliffhanger (for now).  I have never been more excited, with fewer reservations, leading into a new season of Chuck.  This will be Awesome!

Faith Proves We’re Not Monolithic

I hear this only hurts a lot.

Not to take away from Joe, Thinkling, Dave and Ernie because Cliffhanger was in its way a satisfying episode, but it was also upsetting. It is to me a clear illustration of why it may be that the sun need set for our beloved heroes and heroine. By my count, Cliffhanger is the fifth (if you don’t count Marlin, in which case it would be 6th) curtain call for our beloved show and unfortunately the weakest of the bunch. At a certain point, imagination and execution falters and we’re left with something that works but isn’t as good as that which came before. I should clarify that this isn’t [completely] a biased negative point of view because of my immense dislike of Morgansect, but the things beyond that. To sum, the best thing about Cliffhanger was the vows and the twisty ties, but apart from that? The entire thing didn’t resonate.

Joe touched on this a bit, but though I appreciate his point, I respectfully disagree. I never doubted that Sarah would be ok. I’m sure that others did, and I’m sure that the intent behind it was admirable but to me, it rang false. I guess it’s because though the stakes were supposedly so high, I never really felt them. There was a sense of urgency, but I never really bought into it. No matter how many times Chuck talked fast, and no matter how many times we were told that time was running out, it would cut to a scene that didn’t really flow nearly as well, with an event that doesn’t properly convey the stakes and the risk. Maybe there were too many things going on, but then again we’ve been through that before and it always seems to work out for the best.

So Chuck has to rescue her, he loves her of course he would go and risk everything to save her but the emotions behind his sacrifice and his desperation falls short from that of Sarah’s from Phase Three; it even falls short of Chuck himself in Ring Pt. 1–right before he re-intersected. Perhaps instead of the much loved (and in my opinion the best thing about the episode) flashbacks, we should have seen Sarah fighting for her life–having her life flashed before her eyes. Perhaps instead of fighting against Vivian and the antidote, Chuck instead had to scale mountains and break codes; take down his nemesis with wit, skill and yes a sense of desperation but also heart and soul. What made Push Mix so good wasn’t just that Chuck took down Volkoff but also because he took down Volkoff using the memory of his dad, because he was the Chuck that defused bombs with computer viruses but exponentially better. Because the villain was a worthy opponent. In Superman there’s a saying that a hero is only as good as his villain. This villain, Vivian, wasn’t nearly as good as Decker and Decker had a fairly small role in this arc and in this episode.

Onto the wedding. I suppose I should be thankful we got as much as we did. There were rumblings that they almost cut away the entire thing because they were running so far over the 43 minute limit but it’s hard to take in these small pleasures. I posit this question to you, as I did to friends on twitter: why exactly will their kids have little capes? Seems a non-sequitur for two people surrounded by families and strangers. I admit it’s nitpicking but as Chuck’s vows conclude and they cut away to the flashes from the past I couldn’t help but compare. “I feel like I should be James Bond right now, you know the guy…”
“I didn’t fall in love with James Bond, I fell in love with you.”
“I love you, one more time because it feels really nice to say…you and I we’re perfect for each other and I want to spend the rest of my life with you away from everyone else and away from the spy life.”
Doesn’t your heart just want to melt? Doesn’t it remind you of all the years that have led to this, the most important moment (to date) in their lives? Doesn’t the music in the background in those scenes just make you feel the love, the moment, the magnitude? Don’t you just hear those words over and over again in your head days removed from hearing and seeing them? Now I ask you, do you feel that way with the wedding and Chuck’s vows? If you do, I’m glad but for myself, not so much. But on a positive note (regarding Chuck’s vows), Chuck was speechless how often does that happen?

In the end Cliffhanger did what it needed to do. It concluded a journey like Ernie will point out and our heroes are free to explore life after happily ever after, albeit a happily ever after with Morgan being the intersect *groan*. Now if only I were privy to Honeymoon 2 lol.

Ernie’s Last Word

I don’t have a lot to add to what has already been said, so that means 1,000 words or less, right?  Well we can dream.

I’ve said that the Chuck crew does endings well, and each season they seem to have to do two more.  Chuck Versus The Other Guy, Chuck Versus The Ring II, and Chuck Versus the Push Mix, each takes the journey to a final destination, and then sets up the next layer, the next step, and the next destination.

I’m already on record with what I think the destination will/should be next season, so for now I’ll concentrate on the journey that ended this season.  Chuck has always been about family, and it was appropriate that the wedding included the entire Chuck family, together and happy in what could have been their final moments on the air.  And then there was the prologue… But before that I want to cover some of the journey that I saw this season.

It is to Chuck’s eternal credit that when they finally committed to taking the characters somewhere other than the end of the WT/WT that Hollywood conventional wisdom says has to run up to the last episode (because stable couples are apparently boring) they really let them grow.  And regress.  That’s important too.  It was Chuck and Sarah seeing each other minus the romantic blinders they both still wore well into season 3, and allowing the other person see the real person that really started this season’s journey.

In a theme that goes back to the premier Chuck and Sarah’s problems have always come from the two worlds they try to inhabit.  At first Chuck wants his old life back, or so he thinks, and Sarah is afraid she doesn’t fit into that world, while Chuck wants to be with Sarah, yet doesn’t believe he can be a part of hers and be with her.  At this point, the awkward teen years let’s call it, they are both trying to be something or become something so that (they think) the other will love them.  They are trying to present themselves as the end product, the destination.  Sarah cares deeply for Chuck, and he knows it, but while he is her charge they can’t be together, So Chuck seeks to return to his world, hoping she will follow.  Sarah yearns for a family and a home, and sees Chuck as a way to have that, not thinking that he may be meant for greater things, not trusting that she may be meant for greater things too.  At this point Sarah is just a spy, and Chuck just a regular guy, not a hero, and so that first false hope of making themselves into the destination, the partner, or the life they think the other wants goes disastrously wrong.

When their paths re-join they have learned one thing.  Waiting for that destination, that end product, waiting until you or the other changes into what you each think you need to be doesn’t work.  If you ever want to be together, you need to decide to be together.  The rest is details to be worked out along the way.  Being together is the journey, not the final destination, and so the end of the honeymoon serves as a good start rather than the end of the story.  But with the honeymoon over they still aren’t ready to let the other see the real person, out of fear that person isn’t enough, and so even on and after the honeymoon, Sarah can’t put herself out there and say the three words she meant when she answered yes, and Chuck can’t confide that their future might be a tough one for fear that Sarah will do what seems her go to solution and run.  But they are working on it.

Season 4 was where that all changed.  Sarah learned she could tell Chuck what bothered her, and with her reassurance that she loved him he could actually help.  Chuck learned he could push Sarah a bit, as long as he was there to catch her when she stumbled.  And so we started to see parts of Chuck and Sarah long hidden from each other.

We always knew Sarah had a temper, but cool icy season 1 Sarah Walker rarely let anyone get to her, and she most definitely didn’t let Chuck see that temper unless he was the focus of it.  But suddenly, Sarah can be emotional, and can let loose on Heather Chandler, or Josie for poking at that insecure part of her, because Chuck is there, and he has her back.  Suddenly Chuck can take on the role of team leader, the man who can confidently plan an operation such as Casey’s funeral or Carmichael’s weapons buy, because Sarah has his back.  Yes, there’s the regression of the intersectless arc where Sarah puts back on her handler hat to try to protect Chuck, and where Chuck is worried about losing Sarah having lost his mojo and his confidence again, but this time neither is hiding that from the other, and they see each other fully, through wide open eyes, allowing themselves to be seen as the real Chuck and Sarah.  And it is Chuck, who is a hero, and Sarah, who does need help, the last two people on earth you would have expected to see in season 1 who decide to tie the knot.

And so we are brought full circle to the wedding, where Sarah is an emotional articulate schnook, and Chuck is at a loss for words, and has to be an I’ll show you kind of guy.  The parts of each other they always touched are now fully in the open.

Home.

We come to the end of one journey, where we’ve arrived back home, and now we see what the next chapter holds for our heroes.  The epilogue has to be one of my favorites, for one simple reason.  As he re-enters the BuyMore, looking around with both nostalgia and love Chuck seems to realize he’s home.  His life is changed so much, but it wasn’t that he needed to leave home, Burbank, the Buy More, or his family to live the life he was meant to live.  He just had to be the Chuck he was meant to be.   As Chuck re-enters the Buy More and talks to Jeff and Lester, it seems he realizes, finally, and perhaps for the first time, that he is right where is supposed to be, doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.  He just needed to give it time.

The rest is details.

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in ChuckMeMondays, Ernie's Lame Hero's Journey Meme, Observations, Reactions, Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Summer Rewatch: 4:24 – Hanging From The Cliff

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    Actually Joe, just for the record I am monolithic. My dimensions are 1x4x9 ( in three dimensional space) I am a virtually impenetrable mystery to modern science and I cause distress in primates whenever I appear.

  2. Amron says:

    First time I read the four of you in a same article…
    I loved this chapter… until the last five seconds. Oh, I remember I spent an hour in ChuckTv chat moping about Morgansect. I have to say, I thought that was the jump in the shark, the last thing I needed to stop watching the show, since I believe S4 mythology was badly injured. But… I’m not going used to give up something I cared so easy. I promised myself to wait for the next chapter, to see how they going to play it, before made my mind. After all, if the Chuck show us something is that appearances can be deceiving, right? Then, I watched the Comic-Con preview (you know, the one with Fedak and Joshua talking.) and it made me laugh. It was good! There’s could be hope! And of course, the Season Preview came and I started to raise my expectations: with the romance journey finally closed (well, as closed as the fairy tales show us), the predictable can be left aside (come on, everybody knew, since the pilot, those two would end married… basic telenovela plot, I said), the writers have a chance to give us something refreshing, as the show used to be. A good, well-telled story: we already have a looking-good villain (Decker, the same CIA), and a good plot (the conspiracy) that, if they could thought and write it well, could be fill the holes of past seasons and wrap perfectly the story. A good finale. The last finale.
    I can’t wait!

    • thinkling says:

      I have high hopes fot the conspiracy plot, too, Amron. At first I was apprehensive about the Morgansect, but I really think it will be fine. Won’t be long until we know. 🙂

    • joe says:

      I have high hopes too, Amron, but in some odd way, I’m not setting my expectations.

      I don’t expect that Morgan will in any way replace Chuck and Sarah as the main focus, Intersect, marriage or no. I don’t expect that after everything we’ve seen so far, there’s ever going to be anything more than momentary discord in the Bartowski household, just like we’ve seen none of consequence in the Woodcomb’s.

      I don’t expect the Buy More and the Buy Morons to change their natures.

      Other than that, based on past experience, I expect to enjoy pretty much any story they have left to tell me. Guess I’m getting easy in my old age!

  3. jason says:

    First of all, thank you to each of you for writing, some of your group’s best work.

    Second, Faith, although this was my 2nd favorite to Honeymooners ever, I hear you. And yes, the word ‘satisfying’ probably is more accurate than bigger, better words one might want to describe this ep with. Yet, in this case, satisfying indeed may have been the most appropriate way to end the series.

    IN order, from the get go, the Sarah – Chuck flashback scenes stole the episode. So much so, I would love to ask someone in charge, why in the heck don’t you do more scenes letting those two loose that way. None of them was near long enough, and left me just hoping another one was coming.

    Speaking of why in the heck, one swear word in the first couple minutes is very effective, on about the third one, it loses it’s effectiveness, especially coming from Chuck. Also, Chuck calling Sarah ‘baby’, somehow, it just doesn’t cut it. One ‘baby’ would have been odd, twice was, well odder. The word odder looks ‘odd’, is that correct usage? You guys got me paranoid about the proper use of the english language. Chuck and Sarah don’t have the kind of relationship were baby seems right, and even if so, it probably is about as inappropriate word I can think of to say to your dying loved one. But anyhow ….

    If they were so strapped for time, why the endless motorcycle scene? That could have easily been cut into half or even a quarter of the time. And the shooting of the missile into the door, a couple of us might do better in our garages in terms of special effects.

    Next ten minutes or so, Chuck at its best, at times, Chuck’s writing and acting was ‘Reagan-smart’. Levi and Dalton (along with Baldwin and Hamilton) really nailed the middle scenes dramatically. I sometimes make fun of Levi’s dramatic acting ability, he was no joke during this time. Aces Zac!

    Great ep for Morgan, none of my traditional FF’ing for Morgan, Morgan has ALWAYS been at his best with Ellie or Sarah or Awesome, always.

    Now the bad, the VIvian scene at Volkov industries, all 7 or 8 minutes. Geez, really? Sorry for the poorly constructed sentence Chuck word-smiths, but that was a long, poorly thought out scene, that was shot even worse, in a time strapped episode. That scene left me wordless?!?!

    The Cat Squad, I wish they would have saved the day instead of the Russian army, but from that point on the episode was very satisfying.

    One thing about Chuck’s vows, he was very much Bartkowski, they weren’t Walker great or Carmichael epic, but Sarah and Ellie both loved what Chuck said, they both love that Bartowski guy who talks about having little superheroes with capes instead of his epic love. Again, look at Sarah’s and Ellie’s reactions, he played to the crowd with his wedding vows, namely his girls (well Awesome and Casey too)!

    Anybody else think that swoop after the kiss was not in the script? And it seemed he kissed her neck then, is that some sort of tradition I don’t know about at weddings? Loved how Sarah smiled when Morgan showed up as the driver, how many hot new brides are that understanding of the grooms friends? I will tell you, none I ever married (or none that my friends ever married either for that matter).

    The inheritance, the Bakula call back of ‘Oh, boy!’, Chuck’s walk into the Buy More, the Buy More purchase, and the independent spy business ‘if you guys want to still take out bad guys’, all solid ways to end the series for ever. Then …. much like all of Chuck since the start, for one last time, Morgan was there to ruin everything. What could be more appropriate than that?

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree there were some less than perfect moments. I agree the flashback scenes were the greatest strength of the first part of the episode. The motorcycle, especially the weapons, was quite silly.

      • Amron says:

        For the articles I had read, the motorcycle thing seems to be a whim from Fedak. But I’m just guessing…

      • Faith says:

        I expected the motorcycle thing to appeal more to men. I think they were going for “Kit”-esque from Knight Rider but it’s debatable whether they accomplished what they intended.

      • atcDave says:

        To me it was just silly. I mean I’m okay with the two hundred mile an hour motorbike, the weapons not so much. I mean, I get that it was very Bond-esque; but between the fact most such weapons are FAR to big to be hidden on a bike, and the remote control targeting thing it was just silly. Now that’s okay, I mean its Chuck, we do silly, right? It just registered as silly, definitely NOT cool to me. (that means I laughed, but didn’t go WOW!)

    • Faith says:

      Thanks Jason. To me, the scenes you itemized shows how it could have been possible to have had more time for the wedding. There are those (*cough*Me*cough*) who secretly wish the wedding was a dream just so we can relive it/experience it the way it was meant to be experienced: in true Chuck fashion.

      BTW a bit of a gaffe for the film nerds, when Chuck was kissing Sarah after “you may now kiss the bride,” you can clearly see the twisty ties, but in the next shot (same scene) he’s not wearing the twisty ties.

    • joe says:

      You guys got me paranoid about the proper use of the english language.

      Well, our job here is done, then! 😉

      Chuck This! Saving proper English grammar from on-line Americans for on-line Americans, one misused idiom at a time!

      And thank you so much for the complements, Jason.

  4. thinkling says:

    Great comments, Jason. I don’t really have a strong opinion either way on the Baby nickname, but he did call her that in Wedding Planner. I don’t know before that. Good research project … I may have to rewatch S4, just to be thorough. 😉

    You’re right the motorcycle scene could have been shortened a bit. The only thing for me that really didn’t fit in the episode was the church sign. Those two changes could have showed us the look on Chuck’s face when Sarah waked up. Oh well, it’s still one of my favorite episodes.

    • joe says:

      You know, throughout the show I’ve been surprised to find how much Chuck and Sarah address each other by their first names. When you try to capture the dialog in writing, it’s pretty obvious.

      I noticed that I had gotten out of the habit of using my wife’s name, and just calling her “honey”. It’s something my dad did/does constantly to my mother, too.

      But I read somewhere that it’s not really respectful to use pet names so much. It’s much nicer and even more affectionate to actually use somebody’s name. So I’ve been trying to use my wife’s name more to create that habit now – as in, when I walk in the door it’s “Sally, I’m home.”, as opposed to “Honey, I’m home!”

      It makes a difference, especially in the long run.

      Oh boy. Marriage tips from Chuck. The mind boggles.

    • Faith says:

      It feels weird to me coming from Chuck but natural coming from Sarah…which is weird because ever since they became a real couple she’s stopped calling him sweetie 😦

      • jason says:

        Maybe Mike Myers wore that word ‘baby’ out for me? But yes, Sarah seems much more natural with the pet names than Chuck.

  5. Dale says:

    Even when a show tries to give fans everything fans still complain…come on! go and watch all the procedural rubbish that is just rinse and repeat and tell me that is better? at least they try to insert growth all round. Chuck calling Sarah baby was endearing and sweet. The motorcycle part was fantastic and it allowed Fedak to get something from the episode himself considering he is not a shipper and he loves action more…can you really deny him that one scene? nitpicking for nitpicking sake is really confusing to me. I suppose there will always be some fans who are never happy with what they get…I am glad some show runners like Vince Gilligan never reads internet comments or blogs, his show is much better for it…same with Matt Wiener.

    • thinkling says:

      OK. Straighten out your knickers, and I’ll explain it to you.

      Most of the people you just lambasted really love Chuck (in a sandwich buying, voting, clicking, tweeting, emailing, and petitioning kind of way). One of the things we really love and site regularly (in fact this post is punctuated with it throughout) is the amazing and unusual character growth on Chuck.

      Most of us love Cliffhanger. In our poll it finished in the top 10 for all time favorite episodes. Jason, for example, said it was his 2nd favorite episode of all time, right after Honeymooners. That’s high praise. So, there’s lots of love for Cliffhanger. (The episode didn’t work well for Faith, and she said so. And that’s fine. We all think it’s interesting to know what she thinks and why.)

      As to the nitpicking, it’s what we do. We talk about the positives and negatives of each episode, twice at least. In a well loved episode (like say Cliffhanger), the negatives amount to nitpicking, because there aren’t any big things that we didn’t like. It varies from one person to the next, but that’s part of what’s interesting to us … finding out what other people think about the episode. So we talk about what we loved, what worked, and what didn’t. We point out the little things we might have done differently or things we would have liked to see. This is what fans do … sports fans, movie fans, book fans, and Chuck fans.

      Interestingly enough, your comments tell me almost nothing of what you think of Cliffhanger and a lot about what you think about us. That makes it hard to have a conversation.

    • atcDave says:

      Dale you really do have to allow for some nitpicking in good fun. In the main post we had five authors; four of us loved the episode. That doesn’t mean we’re blind to all shortcomings, just that we enjoyed the episode anyway. But that is the sort of discussion and analysis we do, we dig into things. Whether its about the greater themes or silly gags we will likely spend some time talking about what worked and what didn’t for us. That’s just being an engaged audience.
      As far as what show runners pay attention to, they will each have their own way of doing things. But I have to believe a show runner who isn’t paying attention to audience feedback is eliminating an excellent tool for growth. If they truly ignore it they are likely dooming themselves to eventual irrelevance. I really can’t imagine any serious professional would completely dismiss free feedback, no matter what they say in public forums. Being truly unresponsive to an audience almost guarantees “one hit wonder” status.

    • ArmySFC says:

      i for one have never seen a perfect episode of any show, ever. that appears to be what you are asking for. every episode i have seen on any show has something that strikes me as out of place. it may be small but its there. that doesn’t mean i dislike the show because i see the faults it has. by talking about the faults and hoping TPTB notice can only serve to make the show in question better. one can hope anyway.

      as for the procedural shows being rubbish and not having character growth, i disagree on both counts. they may have the same plot style every episode but there is growth. it just doesn’t come as fast as on a serialized show. the main reason i think is they have a longer shelf life once they get past the first couple seasons so the show runners have the time to bring it on slowly. they also tend to have a higher viewership. the three procedural shows that i know of on tuesday nights drew over 9 million viewers each (live + sd). i may be nuts for saying this but it seems that if they were rubbish as you claim that many people would not tune in to them and they would be off the air.

      you may not like that style show and that’s fine by me, but to seemingly insult those that do strikes me as funny. as with any show it’s a matter of taste and what the viewer wants to see. what you need to think about is this, the two shows you eluded to, Breaking Bad and Mad Men, how would they do on a major network? were they pitched at one time to the big 4 and get rejected? did TPTB know they would do poorly on the big 4 and only pitch them to the minor networks? as funny as this sounds this saying seems to apply here. one mans trash is another mans treasure.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I agree almost entirely with all of that! I would only take some issue with the idea of measuring quality by viewership. But clearly procedurals are a genre as old as television; but they are usually about mystery, NOT character development. To criticize a procedural for lacking character growth is a little like criticizing a car because it can’t fly. And the fact is, as you alluded to, most modern procedurals employ some serialized elements. So while a show like NCIS will never be ABOUT Gibbs or Ziva, over time, we will see some gradual growth and development of the major characters. These shows are much easier to follow as a casual viewer. If you miss a couple episodes, you can probably come back and still know what’s going on. Although I tend to never miss an episode of the shows I watch, I am not considered normal! (and I admit it!). With a more serialized show if a viewer misses a couple episodes they’re more likely to just give up, and statistics do suggest that correlation; more serialized shows DO do tend to loose viewers more rapidly than more episodic programs do.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, i can see the point about quality vs viewership. on more times than i can count i have heard people here say that season 3 was not that good and the topics it contained lead to viewer loss. you yourself has said as much in the past. to me at least that’s a comparison between quality and viewership. how many times has it been said here that s3 had no redeeming qualities or had major failings? that’s a judgement on the quality is it not?

        i understand that some poor shows get good ratings and those that are on minor networks get less viewers. i just think that for the most part low quality shows don’t make it or last to long.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I didn’t mean to say there’s no connection between quality and viewers. But I was thinking of things like reality shows that have no measurable quality yet are quite popular anyway.
        I do believe there is some correlation, certainly as far as saying fans of a particular show or type of show will reward or punish perceived quality. So a really substandard procedural will likely be rejected by fans of procedurals (to some extent, although other issues may be at play too). My usual position on Chuck S3 was that it was not primarily a qualitative malfunction, but rather an emotional/story-telling issue, and don’t get me started on that…

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, ok i get it now! on the reality front i think several things come into play. one its mindless, two people can see themselves in that position easier. for shows like DWTS, Idol people get to interact by casting votes. to a certain extent people control what happens on the show. that’s huge to some people, think of the polls chuck has won.

        i don’t watch any of them myself but i know lots of people who do. they just tell me its fun so who am i to argue?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I know a lot of people who watch reality shows too, I was kind of being deliberately snobbish! I think some of them almost have the same sort of appeal as sports, but I still sort of resent their intrusion on the airwaves. They’re cheap and are displacing the types of shows I actually like!

  6. Dale says:

    I meant not better…

    • joe says:

      It’s interesting that some show runners deliberately avoid knowing the fan’s reactions, Dale. Regardless of my – shall we say exuberance? – for the show, I know I can’t avoid some negative comments, and neither can they if they read anything at all about it.

      That’s more a function of the fans being noisy, I think. Or, as the ad-execs at Subway put it, we’re engaged. More than any other show I’m familiar with the fans are engaged, involved and vocal. I think that includes the fans of the original 69 episode run of Star Trek. Can’t say I think it’s a bad thing, either.

      What’s most amazing to me is the number of times I think the Fedaks, Schwartzes and even the Adlers of the world have responded to us, both in the show (and it’s direction) and in interviews. We’re not responsible for it’s success – they are, after all. But I rather enjoy the idea that they actually read our words and pretty much know what we’re thinking. Maybe they even read my words. Maybe yours. It’s rather cool.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Joe, interesting point about STOS. i read some time ago that it was a huge financial mistake to cancel the show. i hope i remember this right. when the final numbers came out after it was canned, NBC realized it could have actually charged more money for the episodes than it was and was making more money than they believed. it was to late by then to change anything so they left it alone as done.

      • OldDarth says:

        79 episodes Joe. 😉

      • joe says:

        Heh! I stand corrected.

        Of course, that 3rd season was so bad, maybe it just felt like it went on 10 more episodes…

        Nah!

      • OldDarth says:

        Those pesky third seasons!

        Ah well, a nice contrast is that Fringe’s third season is considered by many the best of the series’s to date.

      • armysfc says:

        OD…that may be, but right now TVBTN is trying to figure out if fringe will go the way of doll house or ’till death. either way is not good for the show.

      • OldDarth says:

        With Fringe hitting 88 episodes at the end of this season, more seasons will be surprising.

        For myself, not going to get fussed about the ratings. Just going to enjoy the ride and hope the show runners are given enough advance warning to effectively end the story by season’s end.

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