The 12 Days of Chuckmus — Chuck Versus the Santa Suit


In the spirit of the season, I’ll sing you a post. Well, I’ll provide the lyrics … you have to supply the melody. Believe me it’s better that way. But the tune is familiar, so no worries.

[I’ve taken a few liberties and parsed things to get the numbers to come out right. (Hey, I had to come up with 78 things from a 42 minute show. Do the math.)]

It goes like this: On the first day of Chuckmus, Chris Fedak gave to us …

Hmm. I’ll skip to the last verse to save time.

On the 12th day of Chuckmus, Chris Fedak gave to us:
12 Golden Oldies
11 Faithful Friends
10 Things to love
9 Ways to be heartwarmed
8 Jeffster Antics
7 Funny lines
6 Beckman classics
5 Bartowski-Woodcomb’s
4 Spies-a-Spying
3 Hacking Nerds
2 Naughty kisses
… and A Great Big Lump of Coal.

12 Golden Oldies (call backs)

Ellie panicking before a holiday.

Elves blowing fake snow and the planting of the North Pole sign … Christmas Eve at the Buymore

A disaster ruining Christmas Eve sales at the Buymore.

The Assistant Manager (Big Mike this time, Emmet last time) using the news media to incentivize sales.

Someone “giving away his plan” (Shaw this time, Chuck last time).

Evacuating the Buymore because of Shaw.

Chuck/Shaw showdown in the Buymore.

Chuck and Ellie conversation before the takedown … only this time Ellie understands her brother’s life and supports him in it. Nice.

Ellie still taking care of her little brother (since Sarah can’t at the moment), still fulfilling her promise to her dad, honoring his memory … making sure his death was not in vain.

One of Chuck’s girls whacking Shaw over the head to finish the fight.

The hug after the showdown, with the camera zooming up and out.

A news report at the end of the debacle.

The bracelet.

11 Faithful Friends

I always love these episodes when everybody is involved. For Santa Suit, the gang’s all here: Chuck and Sarah, Ellie and Awesome and Clara, Casey, Morgan, Alex, Jeff and Lester, and Big Mike.

10 Things To Love

I love Casey and Morgan ready to step in and take down Shaw when they think Chuck has shut down. The unlikely three-some have become loyal friends.

I love that Chuck’s “shut down” wasn’t a shut down at all, but a pause to come up with a plan. Even without the Intersect, Chuck’s brain is still a computer.

I love the plan: “Use the nerds. If they’re focused, they’re better than any computer expert in the CIA.”

Morgan’s rescue (attempt). Santa Suit was a great episode for Morgan.

“I’m Elinor Woodcomb. Since when do I do what I’m told?” (Must be the Bartowski DNA.) Third time’s the charm. This time when she says her name, there’s that steely calm of Elinor Faye Bartowski Woodcomb. Ellie may be a wreck over holiday preps, and pictures with Santa, but she is a rock when it comes to protecting her baby brother … and her sister-in-law.

Chuck (smacking Shaw with the computer): “That was for my dad.” I loved Fighting-Chuck and the reveal that Chuck’s been working out and has a few moves of his own.

Ellie (smacking Shaw with the computer): “And that was for me.”

“That man took our father away from us, Chuck. I wasn’t going to let him take anyone else.” I love Protector-Ellie.

“Authorities have confirmed that the Omen virus was planted by a terrorist named Daniel Shaw.” 😀

I love the thank you to Carmichael Industries. Even though it’s anonymous, the right people know and are thanked.

9 Ways To Be Heartwarmed

Sarah the Christmas elf. How can such a small thing be such a win! In Santa Claus, Sarah was wistful and sad and a little lost at Christmas time. She didn’t do Christmas. In Santa Suit, Sarah is a part of a happy family, gladly helping Ellie with operation Christmas. Not a trace of the old sadness remains. She now does Christmas as naturally as Santa himself.

Casey’s gift to Alex. Casey is such a teddy bear (but don’t tell him that).

Morgan’s speech to close the Buymore. “… Cheer — spreading lots of cheer.”

Sarah inviting Beckman for Christmas. She is officially part of the Bartowski team/family now.

The Bartowski family Christmas party. Bartowski holidays and courtyard events always warm my heart.

Chuck surprising Ellie with the Christmas tree.

Casey finally telling Alex, “I love you.”

Casey putting in a good word for Morgan.

Chuck and Sarah’s moment in the courtyard: her thank you and his recovering the bracelet for her. Intimate, sweet … perfect.

8 Jeffster Antics

“Honestly it’s overpriced. You can get all this stuff on the internet.”

Jeff and Lester — friends again, only this time Jeff is sane and not stoned on carbon monoxide fumes. They’re working through their differences.

Lester asking for a 6″ (not even a foot long) Subway sandwich. The look on Jeff’s face is priceless (now that he is a sentient being). The new Jeff wants a trip to the Bahamas. The old Jeff would have wanted … well, I don’t know … something too creepy to think about.

Lester’s insightful grasp on the magnitude of the Omen crisis: “Can you imagine a world without the internet?”

“What if it’s up to us, two Buymore employees, to save the world?” If he only knew how much world-saving has gone on from the Buymore during the last 5 years.

“Come on. The government has their best people working on this. Right?” … Rigghhht. Pan to the government’s best people getting sloppy, embarrassing drunk at a Christmas party. Too funny

“Jeffery, let’s go for a run.” Never thought I’d hear that one.

Jeff in a coat and tie enjoying his first Christmas Eve … or the first one he remembers.

7 Funny Lines

“I am Elinor Woodcomb … Yeah, that didn’t work.”

“My lips are sealed. Christmas presents are sacred in the Grimes family.” … When are his lips ever sealed?

“What kind of monster steals a Santa suit on Christmas Eve?” … (Love the eye-brows.)

“My wife has been kidnapped, and I am officially ruining Christmas for the children of Burbank.”

“Water will only dilute this feeling.” … “Plus, fish have sex in it.” … Thanks, for that.

“Well, it’s a good thing Mrs. Claus is a no show.” She has NO idea. She does not want to meet Mrs. Bartowski-Claus (Claws?) under these circumstances!

Shaw: “You know what the ultimate revenge is?” … Sarah: “Spending Christmas Eve with you.” And Sarah said she wasn’t funny.

6 Beckman Classics

Beckman locking and loading Chuck’s tranque gun. (I missed it on first watch.) That’s why Chuck has so much trouble with his pants — real pants this time — trying to get the tranque gun in there and keep them up. (I wonder if that was directed or if Zac was really losing the pants.)

“Let’s go save our girl.”

“You’re drawing breath, and you’re in a Santa suit.”

“Pucker up Bartowski. You’re about to become a man.”

“We never speak of this again.” … “Never” … Ernie. 😉

“We all have to make sacrifices for the job.”

5 Bartowski-Woodcomb’s

This is definitely part of the love letter. Look how far they’ve come from S1. There’s been a lot of growth and healing for Ellie and Chuck and Sarah. (As far as we know Devon was always Captain Awesome.) For all their dysfunctional pasts, they have built normal, loving families. They finally have the happiness we’ve wanted for them all along.

4 Spies-a-Spying

Chuck has a plan and 3 fellow spies (ok, two and a half) to carry it out. Golden. Morgan manages the nerds and averts disaster at the Buymore. Casey crawls into Castle through the ducts … again. But as Chuck once said, things don’t usually go well for the duct crawlers.

That would normally leave Chuck and Sarah to do the rest. Beckman filling in as TeamB’s fourth was funny and touching and nice. From the time she joined the mission (“This is my team, and nobody, especially Shaw, is going to take us down.”) until she let her hair down (well, sort of … for her) at the Bartowski Christmas party, Beckman was perfect. Kudos to Bonita Friedericy.

3 Hacking Nerds

Come on, it’s worth the price of admission to see Jeff and Lester, in matching elf attire, outwitting the CIA’s finest. Everything about the hacking duo was a total win. Did I mention that this is the first season I have actually liked the Buymorons.

And don’t forget the hacker extraordinaire, a.k.a. The Piranha, and he did it all without the Intersect … or a bottle of Chardonnay. Yes! The brilliance and justice of Chuck’s plan is one of Chuck’s most cheer-worthy moments. With info from Jeff and Lester and Beckman, Chuck figured out Shaw’s plan and used it against him. Chuck’s sabotaging the device is a nice bookend to the sabotaged Intersect that Decker (via Shaw?) sent Chuck. What goes around comes around, and I took great pleasure in Shaw’s last flash.

2 Naughty Kisses

One was a tad naughty and thoroughly hilarious … not to mention a sacrifice for the job. The other was evil and thoroughly repulsive. Bleghch … nuff said.

And A Great Big Lump of Coal

Aw shucks, you guessed it. Shaw is the lump of coal. I wasn’t excited (more like ambivalent) about Shaw coming back, mostly because of all the emotional baggage associated with him. I would have been content to imagine him bouncing around in a padded cell — the product of the Intersect without a governor. But alas, he was plotting more revenge against the Bartowski’s.

Despite the emotional baggage, I liked Santa Suit. Some parts were very enjoyable. Other parts, while not enjoyable per se, were valuable. I don’t want to go down paths this dark very often. Chuck isn’t a dark spy show. But every once in a while we need to be reminded of the stakes. Evil is out there, and danger is real. What Chuck and Sarah have and the future they want are worth fighting for … against any foe.

Shaw. You can’t ask for a more villainous villain. Even with zero knowledge of S3, he is convincingly evil and thoroughly detestable from the get-go, “Merry Christmas, Sarah. Miss me?” Shiver. Shaw does his job as a despicable villain and provides plenty of drama and danger and tension. The history just makes the situation intensely personal and makes us hate him all the more.

Black Box. Black Box. As much as possible, what happened in the black box stays in the black box. Just like in my Journeys post, I’m leaving most of S3 and its emotional baggage in the black box (save one item) and taking the current story on its own merits without all the past baggage.

Diamonds With The Coal

Santa Suit is the conclusion of Shaw’s story,  which stands in stark contrast to the Walker/Bartowski story. (If you don’t clear away the emotional baggage, I’m afraid you’ll miss it.)  Shaw is the coal, and the Bartowski’s (all of them) are the diamonds.

I don’t want to carry the metaphor too far, but on an elemental level, I find it an interesting lens to view the episode. Diamonds and coal share the same base element of carbon. (Diamonds don’t come from coal, btw.) That’s it; that’s all they have in common. In every other way, they are as different as they look.

And so it is with Shaw and the Bartowski’s. They share a common element or two. They are spies, and they share the common element of pain and loss. Other than that they are as different as coal and diamonds. Shaw showcases the character of the Bartowski’s — like diamonds set against black coal. When I watch Santa Suit through this lens, the diamonds catch the light and grab my attention. The coal is insignificant … except as a backdrop to show off the diamonds.

These diamonds …

Sarah is nobody’s damsel in distress. Sarah is outmatched in just about every way, except for determination of will and strength of heart. In some ways this parallels Chuck’s “fighting” in Phase 3. Neither of them gives up. They fight by whatever means they can. Sarah finds out about Shaw’s plan, escapes (cool move btw), and fights with all she has, even if it’s only resistance of will. She never quits and never gives up, even when she’s tied up.

Sarah’s confidence in Chuck never wavers, not for a second. Shaw’s arrogance, besides being an insufferable trait, is his downfall. He thinks Chuck is the inferior agent, worthless without the Intersect and Sarah. Sarah knows better. She know’s her husband and knows that he is in no way inferior … to anyone. Her courage and confidence in him shine throughout the whole ordeal.

I don’t know what your plan is, but it’s not going to work. … You think you can beat Chuck? You’re not half the man that he is. … Chuck is coming up with a way to stop you as we speak. … Chuck has a plan.

Sarah knows that Chuck won’t come to the party empty handed. By the time he faces Shaw, Chuck will have a Chuck-smart plan.

Sarah sets the record straight: I had no idea she was your wife, Shaw. I had no idea who you were. I was just on an assignment. I was just a young agent. I was just doing my job, okay? You of all people need to understand that.

Shaw: “What about the pit you dug out of my chest? Is that supposed to fill it in?”

Sarah: Is this going to? You’re a good man, Shaw. You can be that man again. Just stop what you’re doing, please. You can let this all go. (This sounds so … Chuck, but it’s all Sarah. )

I hate digging this out of the black box, but here it is … the red test. I’m glad to hear Sarah defending herself to Shaw. It tells me she has dealt with it and moved on. Everything she says is true.

Shaw’s pain is understandable, but his vendetta is without a shred of justification. He is the coal to the Bartowski diamonds.

A contrast of character. From the beginning, Sarah stands out in the spy world as someone with a steady moral compass, not someone who would knowingly kill an innocent person. She has always striven to be a good spy, top in her field, a good soldier … but one who would disobey orders to do the right thing. Everything we see in her and learn about her from the Pilot to Helicopter to Wookie sets her apart from cold school killers, like Casey, and self-serving spies, like Carina. (I suspect that the next episode will confirm this trait in a big way.)

Sarah despised her red test as the worst day of her life. (In fact, she wouldn’t have gone through with it had she not thought Eve was drawing a gun.) Shaw, on the other hand, defended the concept in general. Specifically, he had no trouble ordering Chuck’s red test (and using Sarah, knowing what it would do to her). The difference between Shaw and Sarah was present long before they met (probably even before Eve’s death). Sarah had a problem with the red test morally, as a matter of principle. Shaw’s problem with it was purely personal … only because of his wife’s death.

Eve’s death was the turning point for Shaw. He gave in to his lust for revenge. From that day forward he sought vengeance, not justice. By Santa Suit, Daniel Shaw was a shell. He calls Chuck pathetic, but Shaw is the pathetic one, driven and blinded by his insatiable thirst for revenge.

Shaw is the dark backdrop against which our heroes shine. Chuck and Sarah and Ellie have learned how to forgive and let go. They have all experience pain and loss. They have sought justice time and again, but they’ve never picked up the two-edged sword of vengeance.

Sarah didn’t kill Shaw when she could have. Chuck gave him every chance to be a better man and only “killed” him in self-dense. The second time Chuck refused to kill Shaw (something Shaw considered a weakness). Chuck didn’t kill Volkoff, and he offered Vivian mercy and a fresh start.

Ellie and Chuck watched Shaw gun down their father, in cold blood, against the law, unsanctioned in any way. They helped bring him down and then let justice do its job. In Santa Suit, their fight with Shaw was to free Sarah, stay alive, and hand Shaw back to the authorities.

Sarah was right. Revenge won’t fill the hole in Shaw’s heart. Only letting go of the hate will allow the hole to heal. Shaw is bound to his pain by his own refusal to let go of it. The rage he continues to nurture has consumed the man he could have been and the life he could have had. His world, like Castle, is dark and cold because of it.

Shaw’s revenge landed him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. The Bartowski/Walker pattern of letting go has allowed them to live full, free lives, filled with love and warmth and family.

CF has been giving us Walker/Bartowski diamonds all these years. I can take this shlump of coal because it showcases the beauty of the diamonds.

Happy New Year, everyone.
~ Thinkling

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About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
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79 Responses to The 12 Days of Chuckmus — Chuck Versus the Santa Suit

  1. I hate that song, but I loved your review. You always take was is given in the show, find all the hidden gems (and coal), and present it in a fun way.

  2. atcDave says:

    Excellent, excellent write-up Thinkling. I think I agree completely with all of this, including (especially!) the lump of coal. Ideally, I wish they hadn’t brought this character back; but what we got was a solid episode. And thank you for emphasizing the differences between Shaw and Sarah. I love the growth she has gone through since the beginning of the series, but sometimes in discussing it, we loose sight of the fact Sarah was a good and heroic individual from the start. Her journey has always been more about growth than redemption. Casey has had a more complete redemption story, and that’s also been fun to watch and was on full display in this episode.

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    Well said Thinkling. As usual I have a few minor quibbles that are my personal take, but in no way take anything from your marvelous observations.

    I see Sarah as a bit more conflicted and in need of redemption, though already part way into that journey when we meet her. Clues to her past with the Cat Squad and via Carina point to a Sarah Walker whose moral compass was perhaps missing, or maybe stowed in her spy rucksack for a while, leaving her a bit directionless.

    Like you I think we’ll see the beginning of that journey 5 years ago this next episode. After the Cat Squad was disbanded, around the time of both Sarah’s red test and the start of her partnership with Bryce, something changed for Sarah. My guess is that we’ll see her (suppressed) maternal side (also personified by her mother in a way that we see her adventurous wanderlust personified by her father). On steroids. We’ll see why she suppressed it, and what started her journey, and maybe even when that moral compass came back out, even if she was still having trouble with true north versus magnetic north for a while.

    Meeting Chuck and falling in with a real family was perhaps the next milepost in her journey. We certainly know Chuck awakened a certain protective and somewhat maternal side of Sarah, even as it confused and frightened her and grew into something else (it does still linger and surface on occasion). I think it’ll be amazing. I think it was Chuck that helped her find “true north” if you will, even if there was a bit of regression and a learning curve in season 3.

    I suppose our biggest difference is I don’t fear (or loath) the black box. Just the reaction when I open it in public and look at and point out all the gears and levers. 😉 I think there was a good reason to bring back Shaw, even aside from contrasts and a really menacing villain. But that’s in a post I’m working on for later.

    • thinkling says:

      Good insights, Ernie. I don’t see Sarah as perfect, but I don’t think she was ever remorseless or a cold-school killer (like Casey was). For instance, she wouldn’t abandon Carina wherever it was that she told Chuck about in Wookie. She had a wild side, no doubt. Perhaps magnetic vs true north is a good analogy. I think you could be right about Bryce being a part of her growth, but even before that I don’t see her as cold and heartless. The spy life was thrust on her just like the con life. She was good at it. It was her survival, but maybe not the hand-in-glove fit everyone assumes. Maybe that ties into what you speculate we may learn in the next episode. Really nice catch about how Sarah takes after both mom and dad. I think this next episode is going to be one of the best.

      As for the black box, you and I have had some good discussions BTS. I don’t loathe everything in there, and I think I understand even the things I think were burdensome on the story. We differ on some of that. The reason for the black box is more avoidance. As soon as I open it up, it takes way too many words to parse it. It gets complicated to me to separate the devices from the story, explain why I see some things more as heavy handed devices than part of the story. I don’t mind thinking/talking about it, but to take it all out in a post like this, it gets messy and emotional quickly. In order to focus on the present story, I like to leave the messier things in the black box.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Agreed that Sarah was never Casey, but might have been closer to Carina (who was the mellow one?) than a lot of us would like to believe. In all seriousness I see Sarah as having a moral compass that either gets misplaced or goes haywire on occasion. I see her as seeking some sort of redemption for her life with dad by joining the CIA, and getting lost for a time in the “Cat Squad” lifestyle, even while never totally losing sight of a larger purpose and a core morality.

      Agreed, cracking open the black box wasn’t really appropriate for a single episode review when there was so much else to concentrate on. As you say our BTS conversations tend to be evident in some of the things we both post, thematically if not in detail. I’ll just say this, season 3 in the larger context represented a test for both our heroes, where they had to face their own demons and overcome personal failings. In one sense Shaw represents Sarah’s initial failure to become a more honest and open person, or to even move toward that “real person” she thought she could re-connect with and he serves as a reminder of her past. I think it makes some sense to bring him back to show that while he is still a threat it is purely an external threat, he has no power over either of them any more through playing on their previous weaknesses. Season 3 was about overcoming personal failings and Shaw was a part of that. Season 5 (while there will be personal failings as a part of the season long arc) is about the external threats to the both of them and defeating them together. Shaw served to highlight that change very well IMO.

      • thinkling says:

        I won’t argue with any of that, Ernie.

        I think it makes some sense to bring him back to show that while he is still a threat it is purely an external threat, he has no power over either of them any more through playing on their previous weaknesses. Good observation. I agree with that. It was great to see, too. To a great degree, Shaw was in control in S3, manipulating both of them. That is no longer the case. He no longer had control over them … only their circumstances.

        That bit was very satisfying, and confirms your S5 diagnosis, Season 5 (while there will be personal failings as a part of the season long arc) is about the external threats to the both of them and defeating them together. I think that’s one of the things I find so enjoyable about this season, among others.

  4. phaseou812 says:

    Thanks for another great post and a most creative way to put the episode into perspective. I thought that your analysis on the good and evil of Shaw in comparison to the Bartowski Team was dead on. To me this episode was really satisfying on multiple fronts. When I was watching the show “live” on the first go around, I kept looking at the clock as I could not believe how much activity had happened and there was still time for more of the show. For me, it was such an enjoyable emotional “rollercoaster” ride throughout this episode and left us with another big hill to prepare for in the next episode.

    I have read in other post where some were complaining about Sarah choosing to go see Shaw in prison at the end . . . but it made sense to me . . . as Shaw was walking around the castle looking for Sarah he was naming off events regarding Sarah that he could have only known via the intersect . . . so for me it was logical for her to go see what his “endgame” was, especially if she was trying to protect something from the past.

    But similarly, I was not that upset last week when Chuck went on his way to try to save the day by himself and against Sarah’s wishes. A bit of the old mentality of Chuck trying to save the day at all cost, but similarly a little of the old Sarah, “Chuck stay in the car and don’t move, while I go explain why your plan is a good one to Casey and Gen Beckman, because you are not capable of doing so”. So although both actions by our heroes don’t make the most logical sense, as they are made complete because they are a team, it makes for some compelling drama and eventual beneficial outcomes.

    Don’t know why I went there on that random thought . . . but “Thinkling”, I really enjoyed your post as you do such a great job with your time, thought and effort you put into making your posts.
    I have really enjoyed this season and cannot wait for Friday night. Sad to think about what Friday nights are going to be like in February.

    • Sarah going to see Shaw made sense to me as well. They ignored him for a year and a half, and that didn’t work. She needed to see what he was up to.

      As much as I wanted Shaw to die in the episode, I’m not surprised he didn’t, and I’m started to come around to the idea that it might be better this way. The good guys don’t kill their arch foes. Superman didn’t kill Lex Luthor, Batman didn’t kill the Joker. Team B doesn’t kill Shaw. Of course letting the bad guy survive allows the classic parting threat.

      • atcDave says:

        I was completely fine with that too. Apart from wishing Sarah had been the one to take him down (Sarah’s been helpless and Chuck scored the take down all three times they’ve faced off) I didn’t have any real complaints with how the Shaw end of things was handled. And given that Sarah learned Shaw had flashed on all of her secrets, it made perfect sense to me she would need to know what he might be up to. Of course I wish she’d clued Chuck in on what’s up, but I’m pretty confident they’ll work it out!

      • lappers84 says:

        It’s one of those scenarios where there’s plenty of drama for Sarah, Chuck and co turn up and help her. They all save the day, and everything is peachy (well a little more refined than that, but I imagine that’s the basic gist) – There have been photos of Sheryl Ladd in Casa de Bartowski one with Sarah and one with Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        That’s my expectation, too, Lappers.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Phase. Yeah, Fridays in February … not looking forward to that.

      I am really loving the season on so many levels. I’m happy with the balance of genres, and I think the drama has been satisfying and organic.

      I agree with you about Sarah going to see Shaw. He said he knew all her secrets, and this “baby” secret is one she can’t afford to be found out. She had to go see him. I think her secrecy from Chuck will be to protect her new family, not to keep her past from him. And I don’t think it’s a “bad” secret in terms of how it makes her look, only in the danger it poses.

  5. Sandra says:

    Can anyone explain why after each episode this season Thinkling is the only person to do a detailed review. What happened to the other authors on this site. It seems unfair to be leaving all the work to her. Plus it’s good to get some variety.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Speaking personally I’m just lazy lately. I’m outsourcing to Thinkling with a portion of my gruel. Besides, she does such a wonderful job!

      That and my anger issues. 😉

    • atcDave says:

      Thinkling was posting very nice long reviews even before we asked her to join ChuckThis as a principal. In fact, it was those reviews that led to us to ask her to join us. She really is both gifted and enthusiastic about writing them.
      Speaking only for myself, I don’t like writing review/recaps much. That’s something I’ve learned in 2 1/2 years of doing this. I do love discussing and debating particular issues and details; but analyzing a full episode, not so much.
      My own posts are either newsy/technical or fan fiction oriented. We tend to take turns on purely administrative things like putting up first impression or speculation posts. Other writers have particular interests that drive them.
      I think it is also safe to say some of our initiative is winding down as the show does. I mean there’s only six new episodes before the utter end; there just isn’t that much journey left to discuss. Much as I wish the show would endure for many years to come, reality is I’m starting to invest my time in other hobbies again.

    • thinkling says:

      Hmm. Faith did a lovely review of this episode, and Joe did a great review of the Hack Off. They are both more prompt and less wordy than I am. What’s interesting is how different our styles are and how differently we approach the episodes. So, it is always fun to read the different POV’s.

      I can’t really answer for others, but I do know it’s a busy time of year. No one is leaving all the work to me. Everything we do is strictly voluntary. I write the post-episode posts because I enjoy it. I think some of our other authors have some bigger posts in the works, so we can look forward to those in the near future.

    • Faith says:

      I think I have to hang my head on that one…I’ve stopped doing them. I’ve just been taken aback by how great Thinkling is at this stuff and didn’t want to even try to measure up. Sure my perspective is largely different from hers, I usually tend to react more emotionally to the episodes and less rationally but it ends up being a review/recap much like hers and for those reasons I didn’t think people were getting anything out of them.

      Without looking like I’m reaching, please let me know if I’m wrong.

      • thinkling says:

        I always get something out of your posts, Faith. Like you said, our perspectives are different, so it’s great fun for me to see how you approach the episode. I’m always amazed at how fast you are.

        So get those posts out, girl. 🙂

      • herder says:

        No offense to Thinkling, Joe, Dave or Amy whose posts I all enjoy, but I usually find my own opinions closer to yours and Ernie’s so post away. I don’t usually comment simply to say “I agree with that” but don’t take the lack of comment for dissent or indifference.

      • Faith says:

        Thanks for the kind words Herder.

    • joe says:

      Awww – Thinkling’s just been doing them better than I ever could!

      Really, though, I’ve been trying to not just re-hash my same-ol’ views. I almost feel sometimes like I have nothing new to say about any one episode.

      I do like thinking about the arcs and season as a whole, though. I’m about to put up a post about this first half of S5 (but I don’t want to walk over Think’s too soon).

  6. Jason says:

    Think – the real 12 days of Christmas had no lump of coal to ruin the mood, how could you ruin such a nice song? I am just kidding or trying to keep your ego in check maybe. And I guess in fairness, you didn’t ruin the cheerful melody, it was that nasty Fedak. But somehow you compose cheerful lyrics every week, you always seem to find the best in the episode, have me nodding in agreement with each note & chord you hit.

    Hard to believe in FOUR calender weeks, 29 days, Chuck will be over.

    The only negative I would say about the ep is I wonder how much more I personally would have enjoyed the episode, had Shaw not returned. Anyhow, I am hoping to save a top 5 spot for one of the last 6 eps, maybe even the baby ep, so it probably is good news that Santa was downgraded IMO for the miserable choice made in casting. And although I didn’t like him, seems lots of folks did, which is a good thing for the show’s final season.

  7. Sandra says:

    Thank you for answering my question. I agree that Thinkling does do an excellent job but i also like to read other peoples analysis of the episodes. It is sad that there are only 6 episodes left. But the worst thing is that there is currently no show out there that can replace Chuck. My concern is that it may be years if not ever that i will find a show that i like as much as Chuck again.

    • thinkling says:

      A lot of us feel that way, Sandra. Maybe we can start a support group or a 12 step program or something. 😉

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I feel a group hug, and perhaps a season 5 re-watch coming on! Awesome!

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree nothing is likely to replace Chuck in my affections, at least not for quite some time.
      I do wonder sometimes if a few older shows could have been almost as much fun to me if there had been an Internet community to reinforce and focus the interest I had (ST:TNG, Babylon 5 and Rockford Files all being older shows I was strongly hooked on at one time; but there was no venue where I could discuss the latest with like minded fans everyday.) The change in technology has perhaps made it easier for this to happen again. But while there certainly are other shows I currently enjoy, I don’t know of anything else that can really replace Chuck right now.

      I expect we’ll do some more detailed post-mortems in the weeks ahead.

      • Babylon 5 had rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, but it eventually dwindled as usenet was replaced with web sites. It was a much more ‘civil’ forum than anything around today. (The signal-to-noise ratio on unmoderated forum wasn’t worth the time.) Just imagine if Chuck showrunners interacted with Chuck fans like jms did. Chuck could use a guide like B5’s Lurker’s Guide: http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/. Thinkling’s reviews are almost as comprehensive and more entertaining, but are not as organized to be used as a reference.

      • atcDave says:

        I only got Internet access late in B5’s run! Actually using the Internet for fun didn’t really get going for me until 1999. Dang, now, like Lester, I can’t imagine life without…

      • phaseou812 says:

        So therefore, in February, we begin our campaign efforts to Subway and demand our movie of the “Chucksters”!

  8. Faith says:

    As for the write-up itself, you know how highly I value your writing and perspective Think. It’s a tough episode to swallow, but taken as it is, it was very much 12 days of christmas with coal. I would liken Fedak to the Grinch but I’ve saved that honor for David Stern of the NBA heh.

    You’re absolutely right that it was a far darker and far more raw episode, and that’s the fun. In midst of episodes of such exhilaration like Hack Off, et al, we get Santa Suit. Variety is the spice of life. After this, I honestly couldn’t begin to imagine what is coming next.

    Edit: Funny between the two of us we didn’t really address the cliffhanger/breadcrumbs in the end. It’s a bit of a pandora’s box, admittedly so maybe you’re like me and choosing to wait and see.

    • thinkling says:

      Sometimes I end up leaving things out because they don’t fit the thematic framework of my post. I could have addressed it, but I didn’t. But here’s the gist of what I think will happen/did happen.

      I floated a theory BTS a couple of weeks ago. I stand by it, especially after the spoilers.

      Someone said Sarah and her mom share a secret that has forced them to be apart. I speculated that Sarah, at personal risk and with the help of her mom, saved a baby, against the orders or knowledge of her handler, who is on the side, whether openly or (more likely) secretly, of those who wish the baby harm. It’s looking more and more like that to me. Sarah is staying away from her mom to protect her mom and the child.

      Shaw, as a parting gift, opened said Pandora’s box. Ryker comes back to kill the child, maybe Sarah’s mom, maybe Sarah. But he won’t succeed. Much love will overflow by the end of the episode.

      I think (tentatively of course) that Sarah is going to come off as quite the hero. And, as Ernie said, we’ll get to see her maternal side. … Looks awesome.

  9. joe says:

    Beautiful post, and waayyy clever, too, Thinkling! 😉

  10. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    Wow Think, nice post. There’s certainly some things on there to make me think. The Bartowski’s forgiving nature among them. I get what you mean by that but forgive me when I say that, as altruistic as that is, it’s also used more often than not to quickly resolve the drama of the episode, leaving some (read: me) wanting more.

    On another all together different note, I was thinking today that I don’t think any S5 episode to date cracks my top 10 favorite Chuck episodes. I’ll be honest, I have stratospheric expectations for 5.08 (unwise I know), I hope it delivers.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Shep. I see your point. Some times it’s more frustrating than others. But if they dealt with everything as much as we might like them to, the story would bog down. Granted there are some things I would have liked to see a better resolution. Be that as it may, all the Bartowski’s consistently show an ability to forgive or at least let things go, rather than harboring bitterness. These qualities and themes are part of the show’s appeal to me.

      Chuck is such a unique blend and mix of genres and positive themes. Gonna miss it.

  11. herder says:

    Thinkling one of the minor points you made in the text (among the many other fine points) was about Sarah’s “you’re a good man” comment to Shaw. I know that rubbed many the wrong way but I saw it, as you said sounding like Chuck, she is internalizing some of his qualities. If Chuck had said that most of us would have passed it off as part of his nature to see the good in people, to try and convince them rather than coerce. But Sarah?

    Many comments over the years have spoken about them being two flawed people working towards some sort of middle ground, this line (the whole speach, not the four words) is an example of Chuck’s way of dealing with things and her using it, not as a tactic but rather as part of who she is becoming. Somewhat like Chuck having sufficient confidence in his physical abilities to take on Shaw one on one. Can anyone see season one Chuck or Sarah doing what they did in this episode? Both have changed. Yes season one Sarah usually tried to convince rather than manipulate or coerce Chuck, but not always and anyways Chuck is special.

    • thinkling says:

      Agreed, Herder. Sarah has learned a lot from Chuck. She has always admired his ability to look for and bring out the good in people. It makes sense that she would absorb and even try to develop that trait in herself.

      To be fair at all to the story told in S3, I have to concede that Sarah would have seen some good in Shaw and a glimpse of the man he was before his wife was killed. As corrupted as that good has become (even was at the time, though she was unaware), she knows what he was and, as a good person herself, wishes he could be that good person again and have a better life.

      That does NOT mean that she has feelings for him in any way … at all … period. She chose Chuck even when she thought Shaw was a good guy and a great spy, before he went over the edge. Sham is dead, and Santa Suit only confirms it.

      What her speech does show is how much better a person she is than Shaw. Shaw only wants revenge. Yet, in spite of all that Shaw has done, Sarah would rather see him redeemed than destroyed … not because she has feelings for him, but because she is a good person … like her husband. Chuck makes her the best person she could ever hope to be. I think this is one of Sarah’s finest moments … and not just the speech, but this whole encounter. It didn’t look like she was doing much, but she was showing her inner strength, her love for Chuck, and her good heart.

      For these reasons, I am glad Shaw ended up in jail, with no way out. It’s just. And it leaves Chuck and Sarah and Ellie as the good people they are … not vengeful but redemptive. I have to love that.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree about Sarah’s fine moment Thinkling. I think there may have been a bit of wishful thinking on her part too, but I loved that she tried to talk him down, much as Chuck did in Other Guy.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, yeah! I’m sure it was laced with wishful thinking, but I don’t think it was just a ploy.

  12. Verkan_Vall says:

    Thanks for the writeup, Thinkling. Lump of coal indeed.

    This episode cost me dinner for 4 at a local restaurant; I had bet an old friend that Shaw would never return. He bet me Shaw would, because he thinks that Schwartz and Fedak identify more with Shaw than then they do with Chuck. At dinner tonight, I told them what I had heard about the episode (which I have not seen myself), with the last scene between Sarah and Shaw back in prison again; when he heard what I had to say, he offered me another bet.

    This friend and his wife were huge fans of the show since the very beginning, but were driven away during S3. His wife left at the end of the name reveal scene in Fake Name, but he held out until Final Exam. Nothing I have been able to say or do has convinced them to ever watch the show again, not even the S1 & 2 episodes. His memory of the show and TPTB prompted him to say this:

    “If Shaw is still alive at that point, then jail or not, intersect or not, he’s coming back before the show ends.”

    He’s willing to bet that Shaw will be back before the end of 5.13.

    I didn’t take the bet.

    • BigKev67 says:

      Gotta say I agree with your friend, VV. I didn’t think they’d bring him back, and when they did I was certain he’d die to deliver some kind of closure – although I thought the Ellie frying pan clout was fantastic!
      So now I’m going for a trifecta of misguided predictions – Shaw will be back!

      • atcDave says:

        I wouldn’t bet either way. Of course I would prefer they do something else, but I don’t particular object to him as a pure villain. As was pointed out elsewhere, he is only an external threat now, he won’t do any damage to the things that matter.

        And VV, your friend is completely wrong about one thing; there’s no way Fedak “relates” to Shaw, what we saw in Santa Suit was a pathetic broken man who doesn’t have a trace of humanity (if he ever did).

      • Jason says:

        VV / Dave – from my POV, ever since Shaw walked onto the scene, Fedak seems fixated that he has ‘superman’ on the set, and has struggled to write him the way he writes his other characters. He seems to see Shaw different than a good portion of the fan base does, always has, remember some of his s3 comments.

        One of my favorite things about 5×7, is Fedak’s comment that ‘nobody plays an icey killer like …’. I agree wholeheartedly. Every other actor in the world would do it much better. This actor plays the killer bent on revenge, just like he played the mentor, the lover, the evil head of the ring, the intersect, same voice tone, same facial expressions, same everything. I kept waiting for him to tell Sarah his fist was contained within her face while he was beating the crap out of her.

        Shaw sure could come back, but I wonder how he would fit, seems this scraggly looking multi ep guy is going to be in all the end eps. Plus, I still think someone will emerge who has been bad from the start and pulling all the strings, so I wonder what role Shaw could play?

      • thinkling says:

        I’ll bet some serious CGP that Shaw does not return. It would be totally beyond the pale. I can justify his return in Santa Suit, for some bit of closure. As Ernie said, to show that he no longer holds any sway over Chuck or Sarah. At best he is an external threat.

        A fourth showdown with one of the fandom’s least favorite characters would have absolutely zero story value and sub-zero appeal. The thirst showdown was repetitious enough. A fourth … no way.

        I hope there still is a big bad. Decker’s words in Cliffhanger and his clandestine meeting at the end of The Zoom surely pointed that way. I still think Shaw’s part in the big conspiracy was that of a pawn. The whole Omen Virus arc seems to have been an isolated plot of Shaw’s to get his revenge.

        I certainly see Shaw’s story as done. Like he said, he’ll be in solitary confinement the rest of his life, and he can’t flash. That’s it. He’s done.

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling there are two reasons why I think Shaw could return again. The first is to witness/acknowledge his defeat. At the end of Santa Suit he still thought he could ruin Sarah’s life; to recognize Sarah is loved and has made a good “normal” life would mean Shaw knows he has lost. The other possibility is some redemption for the character. Sarah tried reaching whatever principles or shreds of humanity he still might possess in her “good man” speech but she failed. Perhaps he could have a Darth Vador sort of end, doing one last “good” thing for the cause/team/nation he used to serve. I can imagine making a good moment of it.

        But I hope they don’t go there. Just as I didn’t want his return for Santa Suit, I’m beyond tired of this character and would prefer to never see him again. I’m not convinced TPTB understand how much of the fandom feels that way. They think they’ve created a villain we “love to hate”, but I don’t believe most of us actually feel that much affection for him!

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Then why put him back in prison?

        If the Sh** story is so unresolved (and it is), why not have him escape and leave us not knowing when he’d return. Having him bust out of prison – AGAIN totally blows as a story. Chuck has defeated him 3 times, bringing him back to do it the way it should have been done in 3.13 is not a story I care to see.

        That being said, there is no title for episode 5.12 yet is there? Curious.

      • thinkling says:

        I really hope not, Dave. If they had brought him back in the context of S5 and the bigger conspiracy (that they’ve led us to believe exists), then maybe. But they brought him back only in the context of S3, which means that the sole purpose of 2 episodes was a build up to revisit S3. I enjoyed Hack Off and Curse, but finding out that they were all about Shaw, rather than the new story line, was a bit of a disappointment. I’m perfectly willing to go with the flow, and I’ve enjoyed the episodes very much, but let’s move on to new territory.

        The only good (love letter) reason to bring back Shaw is to give S3 some closure. They did that. Shaw means less than nothing to Chuck and Sarah and no longer threatens them (except externally) — Sham is dead. Sarah defended herself — the red test is dealt with. Chuck removed the Intersect from Shaw, disarming him completely, and then beat him in a fair fight.

        We’ve pretty much been told that the virus was nothing more than a Shaw sub-plot, and it’s over. Shaw has no Intersect advantage. His personal stooge is dead. Bringing Shaw back again would open old wounds that they just closed, take away the satisfaction of the Omen arc, and diminish this season’s story. I mean how many times can they defeat Shaw and bring him back. The well is dry.

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling I agree with most that, I was mainly trying to think if TPTB might feel there’s still a story there they want to tell. I hope not. But I’d hoped they wouldn’t bring him back in 5.07 either. And that’s where I sort of disagree with you, I don’t believe there was ANY point or closure from Santa Suit. Shaw’s story was over in 3.13. He’s been nothing but a mustache twirler ever since; sometimes a pretty good baddie, but on balance not worth the baggage he brings (for me). In both of his later returns I would have preferred a different (either new or a better oldie, like Vincent) villain.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Shaw was over for me in 3.13. I didn’t need him back after that, ever, but there has been a lot of rumbling about lack of resolution. Perhaps, they were trying to nail the lid shut on that … or maybe they just love Shaw, which is probably true, too.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, I suspect both!

    • joe says:

      I’m not sure I would have taken the bet, VV. I would have agreed with your friends – but for much different reasons.

      My theory is that Shaw is back only because this is the last season. If WB or NBC-U had left the possibility open that the show might continue, Shaw would not have appeared in S5, or ever, until the end was clear. It’s Schwedak’s way of tying up loose ends. He was always going to come back to serve that purpose. Look in the dictionary under “loose end” and you see a picture of Daniel Shaw. 😉

      Gee! Shaw was dead, dead, dead until they got the back-11 for S4, right? He comes back every time they found out the show was going to continue a bit longer.

      Hey! This is a testable hypothesis. Now that they know there will be no more episodes, DS is really, most sincerely dead gone. We won’t see him again.

      Until the movie.

      [Stop! Don’t HIT! Ooofff! OUCH! Ack!]

      • Jason says:

        Joe -so many have blogged here about a movie, or Chuck never will end, etc. I have blogged b4 that I am glad it is ending simply because I don’t think the writers have a story in them that does not involve some splitting up of CS in some way, shape, or form. I would be happy with a lite rom com redo of Hart to Hart, but I don’t think the writers want that, nor do I think about 50% of the fans want that either.

        My best plot for the movie would involve Orion. Beckman asks Chuck and Sarah (Casey and Verbanski died and are not involved) to come out of retirement to investigate Orion’s re-appearance. For the first 60 minutes, Orion contacts CS but leads them off the trail, other than he saves their lives once or twice.

        The last 60 minutes, the bad guys have Orion, and Chuck and Sarah go rescue him. We don’t get the reveal of who Orion is till the end, thinking that Orion might be Stephen until we see Casey’s face tied up in the chair (Verbanski died, Casey assumed Verbanski’s fortune and the Orion name and used it to be a phantom force for doing good)?

        But I am afraid the movie would involve divorice, amnesia, PLI’s and LI’s, blackmail, leaving each other to protect each other, or some variation of one or more of those elements to create drama ….. I’d like to see the drama come another way.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I agree entirely about the potential risks of a later movie. We’ve seen this happen so many times with movie sequels and TV show based movies. Everything from National Treasure 2 to Jewel of the Nile to Legend of Zorro felt they had to break up the lead couple because bringing them back together was apparently the only sort of romance they knew how to tell. I categorically reject this sort of story-telling; it ruins the original memory, and the second time around is never as good anyway!
        But I do suspect TPTB for Chuck know most of us would pretty bitterly reject such a story. Of course the big risk is always a studio project with all new writers who don’t know and respect the characters. I’ll even take a step further and say I’ve seen fan’s ideas and fan fiction by folks I hope NEVER have any say in the lives of our favorite fictional characters. We are at the mercy of many factors; we can only hope that if a later Chuck project ever happens it will be done by folks who love the show and characters as we do.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave we agree 2 times today, must be a record. that story telling bothers me as well. i think it goes back to discussions we have had in the past. most writers don’t know how to write couples together. so they break them up to make the story work. it’s a shame really.

        this may sound harsh but i’m not attempting to ruffle anyone’s feathers. i don’t think a movie based on the show would sell in it’s current state. a movie needs to appeal to a larger audience and one that’s not familiar with the characters. if they go action in the line of MI4 it could work with chuck being the computer guy, question is how to you explain the title character sitting in the rear while his wife does all the heavy lifting?

        my gut tells me if they do decided on doing a movie it will not resemble the show that much. for some it will be a shame, but for those that never saw the show it may be a great.

      • atcDave says:

        Army there are other examples and possibilities. If something gets made in the next few years there’s a good chance of re-uniting the original cast and doing something very close to the original show. Firefly (Serenity), SG-1 (Ark of Truth and Continuum), even Get Smart all had original cast movies made shortly after the run of the series.

        But of course the more years pass the more likely we would see a complete re-imagining like Mission Impossible or the more recent Get Smart movie. For now that second idea holds little appeal for me; the original cast is such a huge part of the Chuck experience for me. But who knows; maybe in 20 years I wouldn’t mind the idea of Chuck:The Movie (with special cameo by Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker’s mom…)

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave sorry i confused you. i meant keep the cast but the construction of the show would be different.

      • atcDave says:

        I think usually, if they reunite the original cast they will keep it fairly close to the original. The Star Trek movies are probably the biggest change I can think of with original cast, but apart from the obvious Klingon changes (which we don’t like to talk about…) and some cosmetic changes in sets and models they continued the original series, setting, and stories pretty faithfully.

      • joe says:

        (which we don’t like to talk about)

        LOL! I remember that quote.

        The first (Oh gee – I just typed “frist!” – bah!) ST movie both succeeded and failed, I think, because it was a bit of a love letter to the fans. Now where have we heard *that* before???

        It was a nice re-introduction to the characters after a 10 year absence (it seems much shorter due to the magic of syndication). For the time, it was an SFX wonder when those kinds of thinks were still new and still basking in the glow of Star Wars. Very nice for the fans.

        But the story was (shall we say) so-so. Fortunately they didn’t stop there and came out with some pretty strong stories later.

      • The SG-1 movies had the benefit of continuing production of SG Atlantis. The SGA movie, Extinction, and the 3rd SG-1 movie, Revolution, did not happen. Despite commitments from actors, producers, and directors, they were repeatedly delayed until MGM finally filed bankruptcy. My point is a franchise with 350 episodes and an active production staff only went 2 for 4 with TV movies. Stargate had press releases about the possibility and plans for movies, even leaking plot ideas. I think the only Chuck movie comments have been unofficial or even slightly sarcastic (please correct me if I’m wrong). So I wouldn’t put the odds very high.

      • atcDave says:

        You’re exactly right Jeff, the chances of a Chuck movie are a longshot. But then look at how much B5 extra stuff got made…

        Its a strange business with A LOT of variables. Studio interest, writer interest, cast availability. For every sad story of a great show that never got made we can find something of seemingly limited potential that did.

        There’s an old story (possibly apocryphal?) about a young James Cameron pitching the idea of a sequel to Alien to the studio. He was politely told that movie was only barely a success and the studio was not interested in risking money on any such thing. So he pursued other interests; made Terminator and wrote the script for Rambo II. Then returned to the studio and said he’d really like to do a sequel to Alien. They offered him whatever he needed…

        May favorite scernario right now would be a couple of movies made over the next few years. But that is excedingly unlikely for a recently cancelled show. A more likely scenario is Fedak (or one of the other writers) getting an idea for a story they want to tell several years from now and finding a baacker to get it made. The more persistant, and more marketable the idea seems, the more likely thhey are to get it made. But even then, availability of cast and money would be huge issues.

        Bottom line is expect nothing. Many strange things have happened (6 new episodes of Hunter, with the original cast, made 15 years after the show was cancelled) so there is always cause for hope. But expect nothing.

      • You’re right about the pitch, Dave. Chuck’s PTB were able to get five extensions and renewals when conventional wisdom said the show had no chance.

        However, I don’t want a Chuck: The Lost Tales. The production quality of B5’s Lost Tales was so low, it was hard to stomach. The stories were stand-alone, which was unfortunate because B5 did multiple big story arcs better than any other show, but most of its stand-alone episodes were not as good. The best thing about that DVD was the tribute to the late Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas.

        Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars actually had higher production quality in the movie than the show, so it depends on how strong the financial backing would be. Farscape’s story was also a condensed version of the planned S5, so coming up with a good story was not an issue.

        A lot of us want the red door/picket fence happy ending, and some people have wanted the Buy More gone for years. However now that the stages and sets are gone, I’m willing to bet a Chuck without the fountain and the familiar green and yellow store would feel off, even if most of the cast returned.

  13. herder says:

    One thing that I have been trying to figure out ( and it might tie into the Shaw return discussion above ). How do Shaw’s actions tie into the greater consipiracy and Robin Cunning’s “not my General” comment. At the end of Cliffhanger Decker spoke of a greater conspiracy surrounding Chuck, part of that conspiracy was Shaw. When Decker was killed, Cunnings stepped in to release the virus, presumably she had orders from above.

    But in this episode we are told that Shaw was acting on his own, blackmailing Decker to get the virus, get rid of Chuck and Sarah, make himself the intersect 3.0, destroy all the CIA’s data so they would have to turn to him. If Shaw was acting alone, de-intersected and is in jail again isn’t the conspiracy over?

    Or is there more explanation to come to show or tell what Shaw’s role was, be it willing or unwitting (the last seems more appropriate). My problem is that I don’t see him as some sort of criminal mastermind, I would have placed him at the same level or below Decker in some sort of conspiracy. I can accept that he may have had a hold on Decker via blackmail but I don’t see him as some sort of mastermind moving people about like chess pieces, in short he is no Volkov. Remember this is the guy who left non-flashing Chuck alone in Castle and then his big plan to save the situation was to blow up Chuck, in his own words, more Jerry Lewis than James Bond.

    So if there is some sort of grand conspiracy then was the Omen Virus, Decker and the Viper all a side-show not connected to the greater story?

    • I suspect we don’t know the full picture, yet. Decker was big on bravado and he lied on a regular basis, so there might not be a full picture. The last arc could be an offshoot of the baby mission, some final problem that Shaw put into motion while he was blackmailing people with the Intersect, or it could be something else like a mission that Carmichael Industries can’t say no to.

      As for “not my General”, I took that as Robin being CIA and Beckman being NSA. Beckman is high up in the NSA, but as Subway showed, she is not in charge. Different people have different power bases (like Bentley in S4). Beckman’s was larger than Decker’s and she was higher up the command structure, but he didn’t report to her because he was CIA. Robin was also CIA so would not report to Beckman under normal circumstances. Considering she was part of the conspiracy, she would not follow Beckman’s orders anyway.

      Even though Sarah and Chuck were CIA, they were exceptions because Beckman was in charge of the Intersect project.

      Then again, the show has always been muddy with command structures and ranks of agency and military groups.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree Jeff that we’re still missing something. Decker answered to someone who is not Shaw. Shaw may have manipulated parts of the conspiracy gang for his own agenda, and he was apparently quite good at that. I’m not sure if the virus was meant to serve another purpose or not, but Shaw seems to have completely co-opted it for his plans. I believe there is something else going on we still know little about.

    • thinkling says:

      All really good questions, Herder. I’ve asked myself the same thing, hence my disappointment with this arc, because it appears to be isolated to Shaw.

      Yet, as you say, Decker spoke of bigger things in Cliffhanger, encompassing all of Chuck: the Intersect, Fulcrum, the Ring, Shaw, and Agent X. (That still makes me think the conspiracy pre-dates Chuck and goes back to Stephen, but maybe not.) Decker’s meeting at the end of The Zoom included multiple conspirators, when Decker said, “Our superiors’ interference in Chuck Bartowski’s life has only just begun. Now you understand how important he is. And why he must fail.” So, there still has to be that big conspiracy out there. Shaw was not behind all of that.

      The only thing that makes sense of everything is that Decker was involved in the bigger conspiracy, in which Shaw, along with others, was a pawn used to push Chuck around some conspiracy board. During an interrogation, Shaw flashed and got his hooks into Decker. That left Decker juggling two conspiracies … maybe trying to work them together. And I’m just spitballing, because it’s still confusing.

      All that would be left on the board now is the bigger conspiracy. Back to square one.

      There could be two conspiracies, of sorts, involving Chuck: a good faction of the CIA who still think he is important to the country and a bad faction that wants him to fail, knowing that Chuck in his specialness would bring them down. In that case Beckman could be one of the good guys, but still trying to keep Chuck in the CIA, but not to do him any harm. I think she’ll always have their backs.

      Basically it’s clear as mud. We don’t really know any more than we did, which saves the bigger conspiracy and the most danger for the last five episodes. Muah.

    • joe says:

      I sorta, kinda understand the desire TPTB had to bring Shaw back – with him it’s personal. But for my money they wasted Decker and actor Richard Burgi by offing him that way.

      He had the potential to be in the top five baddies list, but as it worked out, he’s just a tool!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe I agree! Decker’s exit was actually quite funny (he blowed up good!), but there is no identifiable threat. That means in the back episodes they have to establish who the baddie is, uncover the plot, and get some resolution. And I don’t believe any of that will happen tonight. That’s a tall order.

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07) | Chuck This

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