Season Five, So Far

You May Ask Yourself

We’re more than halfway through season five of Chuck now, so I decided to take stock over the holidays, and re-watch the first seven episodes in a mini-marathon. Maybe a mini-micro-marathon.

Some may not understand this, but the only way I can describe these first seven episodes is – wonderful. You may say “huh?” to obnoxious, “7th grade” Morgan, and you may scratch your head at the alleged super-spy all smiling and moon-eyed as she regards her husband. You may even wonder about the reasons Chuck himself would consider himself a spy at all without his “superpowers”. Really, what is this show without The Intersect?

What’s up with that, hum?

Same As It Ever Was

Jeff - Before

Oh yeah, there have been a lot of changes.

Jeff Barnes used to be a fool. All of a sudden he’s responsible, hard working and reliable. Devon, the awesome, mountain climbing, life saving doctor, is a baby sitter! Ellie, the wise and motherly big sister is now an Intersect expert and maybe even a spy wannabe.

Jeff - After

Devon and Ellie have been struggling with the changes in their lives, changes that have a name – Clara. Ellie loves being a neurosurgeon. She loves being a mom more. Devon loves being a stay at home dad, but when he saved Jeff from carbon monoxide poisoning, he was in his element. Both of them rather enjoy the exciting and romantic spy-life and being like Chuck and Sarah – for a day! After that, Six-Pack and Hot Mama are happy with a little alone time.

Casey has one foot in two worlds also. Somehow or other, Alex is the most important thing to him now, so important that his job and partners come second. (Intersect or no, Morgan is toast the moment he insults Alex.) But then there’s Gertrude Verbanski, dragging Casey back to the spy life the way Clara brings Ellie back to the apartment and the way Jeff drags Devon back to being a doctor. Casey’s not about to leave the spy life just yet, and Gertrude reminds him exactly why. Both parts of his life are tied for first place.

Devon, Ellie, Morgan and even Jeff – these characters are working hard to devote 100% of themselves to two separate lives. That’s a tall order.

And that’s the problem too, isn’t it? They are conflicted. Each of them has had to compromise, at least a little, so that they can continue doing what they’re doing and be who they are, especially Chuck and Sarah. To give up one part of their lives now would be like chopping off an arm or a leg.

Sarah - Before

Chuck still wants a normal life, just like he always has, yet he misses the Intersect in his head. The Morgansect arc reminded him of that and left me no doubt that “superhero” is part of his character. Sarah wants to be a spy. She’s good at it and a part of her remembers Cabo, Omaha and St. Martin with Carina (not to mention her Porsche).

Sarah - After

Sarah also wants the simple house in the suburbs with the red door and the white picket fence. They fear it has to be one or the other, and so do we.

Chuck and Sarah - Before

So why did I enjoy watching this wretched conflict so much? There actually is a reason. Chuck and Sarah have steadfastly made a decision to do both. Chuck was a loser who feared (that’s the right word!) being a spy. Oh, it was worse than that. He feared winning Sarah. You remember the blankets huddled up to his chin as he first lay next to her, right?

The Couple - After

And Sarah feared giving up being a spy for a normal life. Her palms were sweaty when she thought she might be engaged, and when she thought she might have to change a diaper. Well, that was her little joke, anyway. But a normal life is so alien to her, that it might as well be a dark tunnel. It’s more fearsome to her than the spy-life she’s familiar with!

Now we see them just starting to live both sides of their lives well. It hasn’t been easy for them to do either. But you can see with every step that they are starting to succeed. Even Carmichael Industries is starting to succeed.

Chuck has been put through constant change. This time, just when his friends, his family and now his wife need him the most, he has to live without the Intersect to give him an edge when he needs it.

You’re on your own, buddy. You win now, and you know it’s all yours, and it had nothing to do with The Intersect.

As I watched these first seven episodes, I smiled so often through jokes and lines and expressions I had heard the first time because I discovered another connection or a subtly within the gag or a call-back that I had missed. Chuck did explain how the arcade game in Castle was part of their process, you remember. But when I saw Missile Command standing there, could not help but recall the arcade games in Best Friends and Sandworm.

Indeed, there were many instances where the exciting high point of a episode got my pulse going just the same way it did when I first came to love the show. Chuck jumping through the window to the van below in Zoom brought back the feel of Sarah and Casey running up Castle’s stair case to save Chuck from Jill Roberts, Fulcrum Agent, as Keep Yourself Warm plays over silence.

Chuck laying next to Sarah with blankets huddled up to his chin can’t compare to the two of them now. A handler can’t kiss her asset on their morning jog. Chuck lets his fears get the better of him sometimes still, and he sometimes misjudges the dangers. That’s a good thing, because that makes him just like me.

Then Chuck does one better. He’s still an inspiration when he doesn’t give in to the fear and faces his Daniel Shaw head on.

Fans can say (and have said) that Sarah has been too forgiving of Chuck’s insecurities and his lack of trust at this point. But the Sarah I see forgives him because his heart is always in the right place and because she’s discovered that his judgement, even about he spy stuff, is pretty good. Doubt this? Recall that Sarah wasn’t the only one who agreed with Chuck about giving Robbin Cunnings a fake Omen in The Curse. So did Casey and Beckman. When you look at it from the beginning, they both trust each other much more than they did at first. And they trusted each other a lot back then too.

Morgan, Casey, Chuck & Sarah have changed a lot. That’s of necessity. They’ve been through a lot. Every time I see them, though, I realize that they’re the same as ever, just wiser, stronger and even better than they were when I first met them.

– joe


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 Analysis, Fan Base, No Spoilers, Observations, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Season Five, So Far

  1. beti says:

    I started my own chuck marathon, now I’m in season 2 what a master peace !

    I was so happy with Chuck fighting Shaw in season 5

    Chuck was spy since day one! No because the intersect but his plans !

    I’m gonna miss Chuck so bad 😦

    • joe says:

      Me too, beti. I just love those marathons!

      Please, take the time to do S3 also. You know already it’s darker and harder to accept, but watching Chuck & Sarah come out of the hole they’re in is worth every second. At least, it is to me.

      And when you’ve done that you’ll be surprised at how well so many things fit together too.

      • herder says:

        I did the marathon this summer, including season three, the plan was to do season five over the holidays, there is still this weekend when I hope to rewatch all eight episodes but your post has both beat me to it and given some ideas of what to look for.

  2. thinkling says:

    Great post, Joe. It warms my heart all over again. This season is unique, as is each season of Chuck. You’re all over why I like S5 so much. It’s like the season of fruition. They haven’t quite reached the happy ever-after, yet, but all the pieces are in place and working the way we always knew they could. It’s rewarding and heartwarming to watch. I find myself smiling a lot when I watch.

    • joe says:

      Can’t you just see the pieces falling into place, Thinkling? That’s what it feel like to me too.

      I’m really looking forward to a happy-ever-after. Then I get to think about what a movie would be like! 😉

  3. ArmySFC says:

    Joe et al, i have seen 3 episodes so far this season and i know my tastes are different than most but i haven’t see a good one yet, that’s why i don’t comment on them. i hope the final 2 episodes rock for me and everyone else.

    on a positive note your write up was good.

    • joe says:

      I’m cool with that, Army. But tell me. Have you, in your own mind, come to a reasonable and consistent idea about what makes “a good episode?” That’s not meant to be a facile question, but a soul searching one. Truly, if you have that answer, you have something of value that goes beyond mere television watching.

      Oh, I really doubt that any episode is going to satisfy everybody. It’s the rare ones that satisfy most fans. What I find exceptional about Chuck these days is that it consistently satisfies me!

      But then, I grew to love the characters and that universe years ago.

      • ArmySFC says:

        yeah i have. i like the plot to drive the characters. not the other way. a lot has been said about the last couple of episodes and how chuck acted in each. the most common theme for his actions are he has acted like that in the past. that’s very true he has. chuck does go nuts when ellie is in danger, had he acted the same way in that episode as he did in the last one the episode doesn’t work because the virus never gets out. he acts calm almost uncaring when sarah is held by shaw. again in character. when he has trouble with the relationship with sarah he goes to morgan. it looks like it will happen in the next episode as well. chuck has so many past behaviors they can plug anyone of them in to get the desired result. seems like they are doing it with sarah the next episode with her big secret.

        resolve an arc in a decent way, not just a wave of the hand like the last one or the morgansect. i called that one before it aired.

        i’ll give you 2 examples of what caused me to not really like the last one. casey is hurt so bad he can’t even use a table leg to pull himself up. he gives a heart warming speech to his daughter. i liked it to that point. then what happens? he gets to his knees, pops the lock, then he’s healed enough to help carry sarah out of castle. big let down for the story they tried to tell with him. same with sarah damn near froze to death and a few hours shes at a party. chuck the most thoughtful person in the world didn’t get his wife a present on their first Christmas together? chuck having a love fest with ellie instead of checking on his wife? yeah she’s a spy and that makes it worse, shaw already took both her and casey down and trusting morgan to get her out is nuts. also he saw what shaw had done to her. morgan doesn’t do missions any more because he screwed up so much. change just those few things a bit and i would have loved it.

        but they just waved the magic wand again and all is well problem solved.

        give me eps like FBoE, seduction 2 and i’d be happy.

      • armysfc says:

        Joe, sorry i got distracted during the last post. i don’t know if what i say will make sense. i know most episodes will have small issues i can put aside, that’s why i have never give an episode more than a nine.

        if there is a big bad in the ep that has threatened chucks family, take them down hard and never give them a chance to do it again. i thought shaw as the bad guy was awesome this week. the drama was high, he was a twisted psycho and BR played it very well. but other than him telling sarah he knew about the baby to launch the next ep where was the resolution for the past? chuck couldn’t even finish him, his sister did. he ended up in the same place as before, meaning still a threat, look what he did before.

        make the endings good and fit the danger or plot of the entire ep or arc when a threat is built up like the virus. it is supposed to shut everything down like the internet. in one ep all the screens in castle go down (flash back in the opening) then the first thing we see is chuck on a video chat in the opening and talking to beckman in one as well, how? where there any affects from the virus other than it’s over? big threat, little payoff.

        i’ll be honest most if not all of the episodes i liked are the stand alone ones. there have been quite a few of i liked a lot.

        one big plus for me is the c/s relationship. it’s not so in my face anymore. i know they are together. that’s enough for me. i don’t need to see them acting like 17yo’s on a date or them in bed to know they love each other. another big plus was they showed chuck actually running early so when he tells shaw he has been training it made sense. that was well done.

        entertain me for an hour, no face palms, no that doesn’t make sense or huh’s. the ep doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to not aggravate me to much.

      • joe says:

        I sorta like how you put it, Army. But I’ll tell you what I’m seeing.

        There’s a world there of which we’ve seen glimpses for one hour a week for part of the year. Worse, our window is only 42″ (or so) wide. The things we don’t have a chance to see are left to our imagination.

        Well, you understand where I’m going. What we’ve seen has often been hypnotizing, but it’s always a matter of how well it fits with the larger world we’ve been imagining.

  4. atcDave says:

    Good write up Joe. It is so satisfying to see how far we’ve come! Count me as one who loves Sarah’s forgiving nature. It’s one of those things that shows her potential from the start, and is part of why she and Chuck are great together.

    • joe says:

      Me too, but I really enjoyed that she simultaneously gave Chuck a hard time about running out in Santa Suit. Sarah did it just right, too. She didn’t say “It’s over!” or even “It’s over if you do that again!” She said “This (the discussion) is not over!”

      That’s quite different. If you’re going to have a fight with your spouse, that seems the right way to do it! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah. She was righteously peeved, but she still wasn’t about to give up on Chuck. Perfect balance. As I said at the time, Curse was a dynamite Sarah episode.

  5. Aerox says:

    I did the same thing as you. Zoom improved (which was a pleasant surprise for me), Bearded Bandit was still awesome, Frosted Tips stayed the same, Business Trip was still the same (but I loved that, so that’s still a plus), Hack Off stayed the same (Was a fun episode, so that’s good as well.) AND THEN. Curse hits and I turned it off 16 minutes in. I couldn’t handle emotionally stunted Chuck anymore. It was so ridiculous. Severely disappointed with hit. Maybe I’ll try again but it left such a bad taste that I think I might just move the ep to my graveyard folder and be done with it.

    • atcDave says:

      Hmmmm, I don’t hate Curse that much. But I would say these last two episodes have a common fault in that Chuck seems more involved with his sister than his wife. Kind of a creepy vibe. That’s probably too strong, but it is a common element that turns me off a little to both episodes.

      • Jason says:

        Seems like Sarah and Chuck passion is off the table for the show, cuteness yes, they really are written like Ward and June Cleaver, with Morgan as the Beaver. I don’t know why with the success of the Honeymooners episode, that Fedak has not gone back to more passion again, he returns to every other theme, over and over and over again.

      • thinkling says:

        I had the same feeling, Dave, but more in Santa Suit than Curse. I really thought Chuck should have been running to check on Sarah rather than holding his sister, and the Chuck and Sarah time at the end, while nice, was too short, considering they were apart for the whole episode and she had been tortured and near death. It didn’t ruin the episode, but it detracted.

        Jason, I wouldn’t say they are the Cleavers, but I do think a little something more from time to time would be more realistic. Business Trip added a hint of passion and did it very well.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree Thinkling. It’s not a constant problem; they often get it just right, and I like “cute” quite a lot too. But I do believe, once you marry someone they should have first claim on your attention. I guess Chuck has always been a little ADD, but that scene after Ellie knocks out Shaw really rubs me wrong.

      • armysfc says:

        Dave, i thought i was the only one that got the creepy vibe from chuck and his sister over the last two eps. i am relieved i am not alone. i’m with you on the last scene as well. his wife should be his first order of business and ellie should be concerned about her sister in law as well. she knew what was going on. it left me flat.

      • atcDave says:

        You’re definitely not the only one army. In spite of all the various issues we’ve discussed, after several re-watches its the brother/sister thing that keeps both Curse and Santa Suit off my favorites list. Again, it doesn’t quite ruin either episode for me, but its something I do wish they’d handled a little differently, espicially in Santa Claus. At least in Curse Ellie ran to the right man after the rescue…

      • Leigh says:

        I think the scene with Ellie and Chuck wasn’t really about Ellie and Chuck. They were trying to call more attention to the fact that Shaw killed Stephen. I don’t agree with it at all.

        I think Chuck’s reaction shoulda been “THANKS SIS GOTTA GO WIFE NEEDS ME SEE YA!” but *sigh* That didn’t happen…

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, ding ding ding! if they can get it right with ellie, why can’t they get it right with chuck? maybe i’m bad at the subtext because i have no clue on that scene.

      • atcDave says:

        Leigh you are exactly right!

  6. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    I have to agree that in general S5 had been good, notwithstanding a couple of recent hiccups (5.06 & 5.07, I’m looking at you). The balance seems to there. The Buy-More is the best in years.

    I do however wonder (after reading my timeline yesterday) if bringing such a divisive character back was a good idea. I’m not talking storywise. I’m talking about splitting the fandom this near the end of the run. Say what you want about 5.07, good or bad, there is no doubt the old arguments are back, and in some cases with a vengeance.

    As stated next door, I’m still waiting for an episode that would crack my top 10 favorites. There hasn’t been one yet. I have stratospheric expectations (unwise I know) for tonight’s episode. I hope it’s that good.

    • atcDave says:

      I’d actually agree with all of that Shepperd. I’m very enthusiastic about those first five episodes of this season, 5.04 and 5.05 might be getting close to that top ten level. But all five belong in my top half, and given how much I’ve loved this show through the years being in the top half is high praise by itself. Really, even top 2/3s is my favorite television ever. I’d say there have only been 10 Chuck episodes ever that I DID NOT like (2 in S2, 8 in S3) and nothing this season has sunk even close to those levels.
      My expectations are also high for tonight, which does carry some extra risk of disappointment. But so far, all four Sarah centered episodes are in my top 10. I really like what we’ve seen and what we think we know, so I remain very optimistic for tonight.

  7. andyt says:

    I feel much the same as you about this season. It has shown how much the characters have grown over the four + seasons while remaining true to their core personalities. The only show that I would put higher than Chuck is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both do what I love best, they combine multiple tones and genres into a singular whole. The only reason that I put Buffy higher on my favorites list is that it included horror in the mix which Chuck can not do, but Chuck has used tension very well in past. Also, Buffy took a few more creative chances than Chuck with the almost entirely silent episode, the musical, and the mother’s death episode. Chuck is the only other show that I have had this much passion for and it is truly appointment television. I almost did not handle stats for the high school football team this fall because I might miss Chuck on live that is how hooked I am. Looking forward to the final six episodes and a good close-out for Chuck.

    • joe says:

      I never got into Buffy, but mostly that was because I had other concerns that time of my life.

      What I saw was enjoyable, but I was mystified by all the changes in the characters, so I didn’t make the effort to work through all that. I absolutely agree that it took chances, though, and when I heard about the musical episode my first thought was that the idea was brilliant!

      TV is more of a wasteland than ever. But every so often, maybe once or twice a decade, some quality stuff comes through.

  8. Leigh says:

    I’m glad you touched on the fact that these characters – all of them – have evolved over the course of the show.

    A lot of people actually don’t like it that they’ve changed and grown, which confuses the hell out of me, to be honest. Isn’t that what we want from a story? Characters capable of growing and learning from their experiences?

    This journey wouldn’t ring true if Chuck was still the Chuck from season 1 and 2. It wouldn’t ring true if Sarah wasn’t as warm as she is now. If Casey still thought killing Chuck was a viable option. If Morgan still did things like sniff the card Sarah had left for Chuck.

    This show wouldn’t be what it is without the growth of the characters. So yay!

    • thinkling says:

      Totally agree, Leigh.

    • ArmySFC says:

      Leigh it may confuse you, me and others but sorry to say it’s a fact. i posted an article a while ago that went into detail on this very subject. major networks did a study to see why viewers stopped watching tv shows. the main reasons were the characters changed. they found out that the characters filled a certain emotional/psychological need in their life. they could identify with them on some level. one example they gave was a single guy that has problems with his love life. he can identify with the male character that is single. once the character gets into a relationship and the viewer remains single the connection is gone. the same thing happened if the viewer started dating and the character did not. as the characters changed they no longer could fill that need because they could not identify with them any more. it’s one reason a procedural does much better in the long run than serials. even if the characters do change it takes much longer and in most cases people won’t notice if they watch on a regular basis.

      • Leigh says:

        Ugh. Ratings worries ruin storytelling. I’ve long held that belief and this is just more proof that that’s true. Although I wonder if what you’re saying is more true for Sitcoms, Army. I think hour-longs tend to have a much smarter audience.

        Although I think that’s where always being on the bubble has aided Chuck as a show. Their characters evolved because they never knew when a season was going to be their last, so the basic mindset of the writers (seemingly) is “fuck it! Let’s evolve the hell out of these characters and tell this story the way we want to tell it. We might be canceled anyways we might as well go out telling the story our way.”

        Which is my theory on the naked thing from “Hack-Off.” “This is the last season! Everybody get naked!” *shrugs*

      • ArmySFC says:

        Leigh…it’s not me saying it it was network executives. they really didn’t say what it applied to. as for hour long shows i’m not that sure about the audience being smarter. comedies by nature are designed to make you laugh and not focus on the relationships or the characters personal lives to much. they lose appeal when the jokes become stale, just my opinion. hour long shows tend to fit into the drama category. just a guess by me but if you look at the hour long dramas that focus on relationships they tend to have a much shorter life span than those that have a more plot driven show, even if they use the same formula in each episode. Greys seems to be the exception to the rule. if you compare the characters in both type shows i think you will find more growth and changes in the relationship based ones than the plot driven ones, just my opinion and guess.

    • atcDave says:

      Part of the problem is that new viewers rarely join a show in progress. So you start with a body of viewers who like the new show. Every time you change something you will disappoint SOMEONE. And over time, you will loose viewers. In serielized story-telling that is unavoidable.
      With more episodic shows (I prefer that term to “procedural”, which to me means mainly mystery and medical type shows) it is much easier for new viewers to pick up the show or even just watch occasionally. Most shows that last for a long time are very episodic. I don’t see this as bad, its just a different sort of show.
      Chuck was sort of a hybrid show; I think the first two seasons were more episodic, probably on purpose to help build an audience. But no doubt the annual cancellation worries forced the issue too; each possible finale demanded some sort of resolution. Which meant something had to change. In my opinion this served the show well; and the only major mistep we saw was the main S3 arc which tried to reset the central relationship. In essence, they “undid” the progress that felt so honest and organic in S2 with something that alienated large numbers of viewers and permanently divided the fan base.
      For my taste, if the show were to continue from here I would prefer a more episodic style. While some growth and change could continue, the major players have mostly arrived at good places and I would hate to see that “messed with.” But I do believe that means a different show runner with a different philosophy on story-telling would be required. Obviously as it stands now ther issue is moot.

      • SarahSam says:

        Good article joe. Thanks. When one has time to do the complete re-watch, it can make S3 a little more tolerable, though that may be because we know what happens and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it ( despite my shouts of No!!! to Chuck at the Prague train station). I think Dave hit on my minor gripe when he talks about undoing the progress. I have no problem whatsoever with change or growth in characters, joe laid out some excellent examples throughout the series. My only problem is when the growth lacks stability and bounces characters (Chuck and Sarah) for plot purposes and story contrivances. Army laid some of those out in his responses and yeah, Jason, while the passion of the newlyweds is apparently lukewarm on camera , we can be sure the heat is supernova off camera . We often talk about the divided fan base, but I don’t think that’s so bad. You learn much from differing viewpoints. What we all share is our love of the show Chuck and I have no problem with the different ways many of us see it.

      • atcDave says:

        SarahSam I think the main reason the divided fan base comes up so often is we reached a point where we saw many viewers wanted very different things from the show. There are viewers who loved S3 and despised S4. There are others (like me) who feel exactly the opposite. This means we like and want completely different things. If S3 had really become the new normal I would have quit watching. And obviously, many who prefered S3 did quit watching the lighter, funnier show we got in S4.

        Chuck is now one for the history books. It is what it is. I love the final product except for most of one season. But while I see a wonderful show that stumbled for one season, others see a show that failed them completely after 2.22, or 3.13, or 3.19 etc. etc.

      • Leigh says:

        You know it’s funny. There are many shows that have stumbled for a season, but in no other fandom have I seen more contempt for the ideas that didn’t fly than with Chuck.

        Buffy fandom doesn’t give nearly as much shit for season 6 (and seven depending who you ask), and Torchwood fandom gives a blanket pass for seasons 1 and 2.

        But with Chuck fans, you can’t go forty seconds without hearing how much someone hates season 3. It’s amazing to me.

      • andyt says:

        Leigh, I don’t know about that comparison to Buffy. I remember some people who were extremely upset during S6, particularly with the B/S relationship on the boards. You are right about S7 though, nearly everybody was into that one. Also, Buffy’s ratings stayed consistent through every season. The show never really lost viewers over the seven years. So you are correct that the anger during S6 didn’t hurt the show.

        Dave, I am the truly weird one in that I like Seasons 1-5 pretty equally. I didn’t see S3 as particularly different from 2 or 4. I know weird, but it is true for me.

      • joe says:

        I know this was addressed to Dave, Andy, but I’m like that too.

        When I re-watched everything from front to back this summer, the one that took the longest for me to finish was (drum roll, please) S4. Well, okay. It was the longest season, and when all was said and done, it felt that way to me too.

        But then, the rewards there were greatest. I put the engagement AND the wedding right up there with the motel scene in Colonel.

        All in all, please don’t ask me to pick my favorite season now. The answer will be “Yes!”

      • Chuckwin’s Law.

        Sorry, I had to check:
        It looks like S7 had a drop off in viewers. S6 might be an abnormality because of promotion from being on a new network.

        The interesting thing is Chuck S4 had more viewers than Buffy ever did, but the standards were different for The WB and UPN. Another difference is Chuck fans helped “save the show.” I think that makes some of them to feel more entitled for the show to go the way they want or at least gripe about it more when it doesn’t.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Jeff very true. even today shows that are on the WB have way lower viewer totals than the major networks during prime time (excluding friday). after the first season the lowest network rank was 4th.

      • andyt says:

        Joe, that is my sentiment to a “T”. If asked to name a favorite season I would say all. There is only one episode out of the total that I avoid re-watching(v. Truth S1); otherwise, I am really into all of them.

        Jeff, thank you for the numbers. I thought that some people were so angry with S6 that they dropped away; also, it was the final season and some drop away naturally at the end when much of the suspense goes away. I also agree that Buffy never needed a fan campaign as it was a solid renewal each year, so some Chuck fans feel more “ownership” for the show than other shows. This accounts for some of the strong reactions to S3. I will point out that I have friends who I got to watch Chuck that their viewing habits changed. The daughter still is a very faithfull viewer, but her father my best friend has not watched. Not because his dislikes the show, but because his schedule doesn’t allow him to fit it in. This also happens to people who drop away from shows.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m sure the save the show campaign had a major bearing on it. I hate the word entitlement, I don’t think it really applies with a commercial product (when the iPhone 4 turned out not to be very good at making phone calls users were within their very reasonable rights to complain!). But we got a big chunk of the fan base mobilized and fired up, and then got a season that a large percentage of us did not like. A season we all figured would likely be the last. So yeah we got loud. Once again I’ll mention my own “The Right to Complain” from February of 2010. I think it was a perfect storm for creating the anger we saw.
        For a variety of reasons things got much better for most of us who were unhappy at the time (although the most bitter left). I’m glad there are those who were happy throughout. It was their optimism and patience that helped some of the rest of us to hang in there. Of course the irony remains, my all-time favorite episode is Honeymooners. Even if it’s the only S3 episode I would rank as completely acceptable (there are others I enjoyed, but only 3.14 ranks as great to me).

      • Leigh says:

        All well and good about the ratings, but I’m talking more about bitching after the fact. Which it seems is nearly constant in Chuck fandom about season 3.

        Literally a day does not go by that I don’t see someone talk about season 3 and how much they dislike it. I do get that since fans helped save the show, they feel more connected to it, but despite how great seasons 1, 2, the latter half of 3, 4, and 5 so far are, half of what I see is more stuff about how people hate season 3, Shaw, Hannah, and life in general because season three didn’t do it for them.

        Maybe I don’t get it because I watched it all in one go instead of week to week, but…I’ve never seen a fandom focus so hard on something they hate so much.

      • The difference between the iPhone 4 and Chuck is the iPhone costs the consumer a lot more money including a recurring cell phone plan.

        ‘Entitled’ might have been too strong of word, so pick a weaker synonym without the political meaning. I wasn’t saying that people shouldn’t feel free to complain. (I wasn’t aware of you previous post, but I’m sure that has been sufficiently hashed out there). I was just addressing Leigh’s comment as to part of the reason why I think it happens.

      • atcDave says:

        I continue to express my opinion about S3 whenever it seems fitting because I continue to care about the sort of television I see. I have been pretty relentlessly upbeat about S4 and S5 too, to the point some have accused me of being brainless about it; but it is important to me to be clear about my taste and discernment. When the writer’s do well I’ll tell them; when they screw up I’ll tell them too. I realize not everyone shares my opinion, but there is so much dark and depressing on television and in the movies I feel like I’m waging a war to keep upbeat and edifying stories from disappearing.

        And Jeff I wasn’t really offended by your word choice, just trying to be clear about terms. You are right Chuck cost me less money than my wife’s iPhone, but it costs me a lot more time!

      • andyt says:

        Not sucking up, but your criticisms of S3 have generally been measured and reasonable. Also, you have moments and episodes in S3 that you like which you make clear. As stated earlier, I have no problems with S3 because I don’t see it as a major break between what came before or after. Chuck has always mixed silliness, humor, spy tension, drama, romance, bro-mance and everything into the pot.

        I think what Leigh is commenting on is what I see as “Shaw derangement” when anything to do with the character makes certain people go crazy and lose all sense of perspective. It shows up in people bashing”vs. Santa Suit” as if all of the fandom hated it and saw it as horrible when that is clearly not the case. In fact many of the most ardent professional reviewers such as Sepinwall, Mo Ryan and others praise it as among to best of the show. Their “Shaw derangement” can’t make them see how out of touch they are. There is a difference between the engaged discussion that you have and the bile that others spew out.

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks Andy, I really appreciate the not sucking up!

        Mo Ryan is a critic I’m often in agreement with. And I would agree with calling Santa Suit a good episode. As often happens, I’ve gotten caught up in some of my complaints about the episode the last few days. (Its always easier to complain than uplift, no doubt about it!) But I did enjoy it, just as I’ve enjoyed all of S5 so far.

        Did I mention I’m really excited about tonight???

      • andyt says:

        Yes Dave, and it is only about 2 more hours in the eastern time zone till the episode.

        I should have been more clear. I think one can dislike parts of Santa Suit or the whole episode, but what set me off this week was the implication by some with “Shaw derangement” that those who loved or liked it were somehow degenerates and monsters. After re-watching the episode, I would point out that there is actually very little to no onscreen torture of Sarah by Shaw. All of the physical violence, but one hit, occurs in the two fights that they have. And the hit is both torture and to wake her up. Most of Shaw’s real evil is psychological, particularly his plan to kill Chuck in front of Sarah to make her suffer.

        Again only two hours till Baby lauch.

      • Leigh says:

        Exactly, Andy. People get blinded when they hear about Shaw, which seems to be people’s major problem with season3 . When I first saw Shaw was coming back I was like “oooh. This is gonna be good. They’re gonna use him in clever ways and then kick his ass! Fun!”

        But I saw so many people who just lost their minds. And are still losing their minds (because they think whatever “baby” we’ll see tonight is Shaw’s. Which is nuts in a funny way). It’s amazing!

      • ArmySFC says:

        Andy, i agree lots of people disliked the episode purely because of shaw. there are also many that disliked it for what it was, like me. i missed s3 except for 3.12 and onward. for me shaw is a non factor because i have no real knowledge of him or his previous role. a regular poster here posted somewhere else that this episode divided the fandom more than any other and there was no middle ground. people either liked it or hated it.

        i may sound cynical but one thing i caution with the professional reviewers is this. would you kill an episode or a show that gives you free samples? they all raved about the first 3 and ep 1 was mostly bashed on blogs, yet they liked it. it’s true they get paid to be impartial but can you really be that way and risk losing perks?

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I liked Zoom… now where’s my promotional copy…

        Funny about the middle ground. It obviously exists, I’m in it! I liked Santa Suit. In spite of saying I would have preferred no Shaw. But most of my issues with it are not Shaw related. I rank it as a middling episode (but a middling episode of Chuck is still a wonderful thing)

      • ArmySFC says:

        Sorry Dave but you gave the ep a 4 out of 5, that’s above middling to me! seriously you know what i mean. the writers that have been kindest to chuck have received the rewards.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh Leigh I think I would say it isn’t so much that Shaw was the main thing wrong with S3; its just that he sort of symbolizes what was wrong. To me, the season actually went off the rails right at Pink Slip. Things seemed to get better with the Awesome (mini-)arc. But then it all kind of went south for me. I was just as mad about the Hannah thing as I was about Shaw (I thought it made Chuck look like an immoral idiot). But Shaw went on longer and ended after (in addition to fans having issues with a variety of story and performance issues), so he gets the brunt of the ill-will.

        I do not dislike Brandon Routh and I bear him no ill-will personally. I also thought his acting was fine (not great, but mostly okay), the writers are who get most of my wrath even if Shaw sort of remains the symbol of the malfunction.

      • andyt says:

        Army I would say that critics are paid to have opinions both positive and negative. In fact Mo Ryan was extremely critical of Chuck last season, that maybe why Dave does not agree with her criticisms. Also, Sepinwall has been a long time supporter of the show. Also, rewards don’t exactly matter anymore given that the show is finished there are no perks like set visits, etc left so they can be brutally honest although I believe that they have been already.

        Also, I think Dave it hit on the head. The majority of fans that I have seen on the blogs, and commenting on the reviews have been either very positive or in the middle like Dave. Only a very few have been completely negative, but they have been very hostile and negative about it. This happens with extreme minorities.

      • I liked the entire Morgansect arc. (Although I’ve been accused that is only because of a fanfic I wrote. I think the show did a better job with it than my story.) I’m with Dave–Where is my promotional copy?

      • atcDave says:

        Army if I had to do it again I’d probably say 3.5 out of 5. But at any rate any Chuck episode I can’t give a 5 to counts as middling to me! Okay, exaggerating a little. But I don’t use a fair scale. I am so often completely pleased by Chuck I give out a lot of high scores. I really want to say 5.04 and 5.05 already have done it this season. But I must admit those two fall slightly short of my very favorite level. So maybe they get like 4.8s. While 5.01-5.03 all get 4.5s. Leaving Curse and Santa Suit with 3.5s.
        Ask again tomorrow, I may rethink my ratings…

      • ArmySFC says:

        Andy very true but chuck isn’t their only venue nor will it be the last. benefits could be ones yet to come from further endeavors to come. one popular blogger said they will never run a blog like they did because they felt restricted in what they said because of the relationship they had with TPTB.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Leigh. But there was one character that never made it out of my rough draft of this post – General Beckman!

      Diane has changed considerably too, from when we first met her, especially if you consider the episode where she put out the kill order on Chuck. Flash forward to her uncontrolled passion for his red-suited form in the last episode! (Hey Ernie, that was for your benefit!)

      Jeff and Lester have been comic relief throughout five seasons, but they are easily over done. G’Becks has been comic relief, serious drama, mentor, villain and hero, all rolled into one great character. My one great complaint about Chuck, if I was to voice one, would be that they haven’t found a way to use Bonita Friedericy more. I am glad that they’ve brought her out from behind that desk!

  9. Good evening Chuck fans! I ‘ve hope you all had a wonderful CHRISTMAS!
    Tonight’s episode Chuck vs “THE BABY”. Ellie and Devon is expecting their first child, but Sarah is on a solo mission to confront a secret that is haunting her from her past so she went to find her old handler “Tim Dekay” or Mr. Suit as Mauser calls him who knows about is secret! The problem with this secret is like many secrets, they can hurt the people Sarah loves and that includes her mother.

    Sarah is a spy and she has her secrets, we all do! But what kind of big secret is this that can hurt the people Sarah loves like Chuck, Casey, Ellie, Devon, Morgan, Jeff, Lester and her family which includes her mother? This has the potential of not ending well for everyone involved! Pure speculation!

    To Joe, Ernie, Liz, Faith, Thinking, Rick Holy and Chuck fans all over world! I wish you a Bless and Prosperous “NEW YEAR!” Talk to you all next year.

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