Plans, Trains, and Chasing the Dream

What is it with the Charleses-es or the Bartowski’s and trains? As I watched Bullet Train, I couldn’t help thinking of a different time … a different train.


Not so long ago Chuck and Sarah boarded a train with nothing but a ticket and the determination to be together. It was the start of their journey, the genesis of dreams they had yet to imagine.


Two outstanding episodes, Honeymooners and Bullet Train, bookend the greatest journey ever. I’ve found no other characters so compelling, no other journey so gratifying, no other love story so heartwarming.

Ride the rails with me and enjoy the journey from the slow train to the Bullet Train … the final ride. 

Their Journey Begins

That first train was verrry different from the last one. For starters it was a lot slower … the slowest train ride in history if meal trays are any indication. I prefer to think of it as a moment out of time when Chuck and Sarah are lost in each other and oblivious as time and the rest of the world pass by.

Ultimately, they have to come up with a plan, because the world is knocking — or calling — and they must answer. Or not. The priority of being together is absolute. So they throw caution and iphones to the wind and decide to run away together.

One last mission (I knew that sounded familiar) draws them back into the spy game and changes their course. At the end of the day, after thinking and rethinking their decision, they return to Burbank to carve out a space between two worlds and pursue the ultimate dream … being spies together.

Amidst the all the revision of plans and second guessing, one constant was established:

Whatever else they want in life, they want each other more; and nothing else matters as long as they are together.

That constant is the north star that guides their journey.

Journey for Two

From the very beginning, one of the laws of the Chuckverse is that the spy world invariably intrudes on Chuck’s real world. Its corollary is that operating in both worlds, while trying to keep them separate, is a constant source of tension and often a source of danger.

So why not leave spying behind and pursue that normal life? Besides the obvious, that there would be no more Chuck, Chuck and Sarah want both. This is their dream. Not only do they want both, but for now they need both. It’s in the balance of their worlds that they help each other grow. Chuck and Sarah come from polar worlds. Each needs the home world to help stabilize the transition and the other world to catalyze growth.

That’s the journey from Honeymooners through Cliffhanger … Chuck and Sarah living their dream and rounding out their personal growth as they grow together toward marriage. Though Sarah’s journey to an emotionally transparent woman-in-love is nothing less than stunning, Chuck’s growth in confidence as a man and a hero is cheer-worthy.

Journey As One

I have loved Chuck’s and Sarah’s journeys. More than that, I have loved their journey, but perhaps most of all I have loved this leg of their journey. It’s the same people on the same journey, but since they’re married, it’s different somehow. Different/good. Different/great. Different … fantastic. It’s what I’ve wanted for them all along, and I am so grateful we got a S5 to see it.

They are still living the dream, albeit a slightly different version. The CIA kicked them to the curb, but Hartley tossed them a fortune, so they started their own spies-for-hire biz … and they own the Buymore.

Almost immediately we notice a new dynamic in their relationship. The role reversal is beginning to shift or rather Chuck and Sarah are beginning to mesh in new and wonderful ways. Chuck has taken the reigns of the professional, spy side of things. He is the leader that makes Carmichael Industries work. Sarah is his first mate and partner in every way. They are the consummate power spy-couple.

Sarah, who only last year was more comfortable in the spy world and applied her spy brain and spy talents to solve every-day, real-world problems, is now very comfortable in the normal/relationship/communication area. These were always Chuck’s forte, where he did all the heavy lifting. Now Sarah carries her own weight and gradually takes the lead more and more.

They have rubbed off one each other, and it’s stunning. We see it in Chuck tagging the Viper and thinking like a spy in Business Trip and in Sarah giving Casey, then Verbanski relationship advice. In Frosted Tips, Sarah is sensitive to Chuck’s friendship with Morgan, while Chuck worries more about CI’s bottom line. This new dynamic adds fun and balance and beauty to their marriage.

As clients and missions come and go, their dream begins to change. They find a dream house and begin to think about having real friends, more taco nights and fewer evil cabals.

As their dream changes, though, one thing doesn’t change — the threat of the spy world hanging over their normal world. How much longer can they defeat the dangers and avert disaster?

Chuck views the invitation to rejoin the CIA through his new business-colored glasses. Sarah knows that going back means never having control over their own lives. So they kick the CIA to the curb and take charge of their future.

A possible pregnancy turns their thoughts toward babies, and their dream expands. The expanded dream brings the certain conviction that parenting and spying don’t go together.

Wonderful moments.

This journey is about to end. Two years ago they chose to be spies together rather than run away together. It was the right choice. Now, though, is the right time to quit the spy-life and pursue a new dream. And that’s exactly what they are about to do, but the same thing that kept them from running away before, delays their pursuit of new dreams.

One last mission.

The one last mission turns into the mission that just won’t end, and its latest chapter lands them on a bullet train in Japan.

The end is in sight. In an hour and a half, at the next station, they can turn the bad guy over to the authorities (where have I heard that before), get the Intersect out of Sarah’s head, and get on with their new dream.

The Journey Ends

Chuck and Sarah’s journey draws to a close in the same way it began … on a train. The last train is a LOT different from the first. Just the visual of the bullet train snaking around the curves and eating up track at 200 mph is a shocking contrast from that of the first train rocking through the French countryside. How about that modern sleeper compartment (how cool was that) compared to its Victorian counterpart on the first train. Finally, the dining car is not nearly as friendly a place on the bullet train, and the bad guys on this train are very real.

With Chuck and Sarah, like the train, a lot of things are different, but some things are still the same. They are still very much in love and haven’t forgotten how to take advantage of their private compartment, although their time is considerably more rushed. (It is a bullet train, after all.)

As happy as I was to see Chuck and Sarah as a new couple, crazy in love; as much as it made me smile to watch real happiness blossom in Sarah for the first time, I have a deeper contentment and satisfaction as I observe them two years later. Their love is stronger, deeper, more mature. It has been tested and has triumphed again and again. And again. Sarah’s happiness isn’t new and giddy, but normal and comfortable. It has settled into her heart and her features, making her even more beautiful than before.

This time they board their train under very different circumstances from their first train trip. The same constant guides their journey, but now they have well formed dreams and a plan for their future.

Our favorite couple are not only in love, but also in big trouble. If the bad guys onboard weren’t enough, Sarah has the Intersect … and not the good version, but the mind melting one. Chuck doesn’t take the news very well. All he wants is to be rid of the Intersect, and now his wife has it in her head.

Once Sarah explains, all is forgiven. What follows is one of the most romantic sequences of the series. The initial awkwardness from the Intersect situation, gives way to increasingly intimate moments between Chuck and Sarah as friends, as a couple, as lovers.

Their bonding over the Intersect was fun, humorous, and oddly heartwarming. All this time he couldn’t really explain the Intersect to the person he was closest to, because all this time she couldn’t really understand what he went through when he flashed or what it felt like to use the Intersect. Their candor about the Intersect leads them to verify their dream one last time:

C: You ready to say goodbye to all of it — the guns, the bullets, the hard core?
S: I don’t want to live my life in danger any more. I’m ready to retire and start a family. Our future is exciting enough.

All that tender couple talk about starting a family leads to suggestive talk about needing practice, which leads the Bartowski’s to try out some other options of their sleeper compartment (minus the sleep part). Later we find them blissfully huddled together, quietly talking and sketcing their dream. I rate this as one of the most intimate Chuck and Sarah moments of the series.

Savour the moment.

It will have to satisfy them and us for a while, because moments later, Bullet Train goes south and never changes course.

Why did I say Chuck and Sarah’s journey ends on the bullet train? Two reasons.

First of all, the end is so near they can taste it. They want that house and dog and baby. Obviously there will be another journey, but this one is only meters from its destination. Chuck and Sarah no longer need the spy life. They are ready for the normal life they have always wanted and deserved. It’s all over but signing the mortgage and painting the nursery. Oh, and lots of practice.

So close they can taste it. Getting the house and the dog and the baby … that’s how this journey was supposed to end.

The journey does end, just not in the way we wanted.

In a few short minutes my assessment of Nicolas Quinn goes from scuzzy-loser-bad-guy to Chuck’s most evil villain ever. What he does to Sarah (and by extension, to Chuck) is the cruelest, most gut wrenching scene of Chuck … ever. (Wow, kudos to Yvonne.)

Here we bid a crushing farewell to the Bartowski’s.

Chuck is left to journey alone, because Quinn stole his wife by stealing her memories. The Sarah Walker that we have grown to know and love over the past 5 years, the Sarah Bartowski we have delighted in this year is suppressed somewhere in the head of a Sarah Walker we don’t know.

Well, as the saying goes, it ain’t over ’til the Jeffster sings.

I believe we’ll see the Bartowski’s again, but I will really miss them until we get them back (only to say goodbye again *snif*).

What is my hope that we will see them again and that they will finish the journey together?

Love.

The love of family and friends who will do whatever it takes to help Chuck and Sarah. Friends who will fight to stop the bad-guy. A sister-in-law neurologist who will work on the Intersect/memory problem.

The unrelenting love of a husband, who will do anything to save his wife … and the unquenchable love, somewhere inside his wife, that only he can stir.

With Chuck, it’s never just a matter of gray matter. It’s a matter of the heart.

~ 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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59 Responses to Plans, Trains, and Chasing the Dream

  1. atcDave says:

    Powerful write-up of a powerful episode. There was a lot to like in this one. The scene in the sleeper was wonderful, even if it does beg the question; “do bullet trains have sleeper cars?” Of course that’s not really what I’d ever think while watching such a sweet scene!

    But it does make the end of Sarah Bartowski devastating. Of course we know its really more of an interuption than an end. Although the next time we see her it will likely only be to say goodbye. That’s the rest of the tragedy of this episode, we will be seeing a very different Sarah for the finale.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Dave. This was an episode of extremes. Sarahsect’s fights were fantastic, Jeff and Lester were absolutely hilarious. I can’t remember when I’ve laughed at Jeff and Lester on rewatch. Until S5 I mostly skipped them. Chuck and Sarah were wonderful, romantic, sweet, sexy. Casey was intense. And then the warehouse scene … dramatic, raw, brutal. And the final scene … totally eerie-creepy. Talk about Chuck on all cylinders.

      I don’t need this much drama all the time, but they have had some dynamite drama in S5, and it’s come from the right places, i.e. not the central relationship. The drama has affected the relationship, but didn’t come from the relationship. That’s very different.

      Obviously it has to end in a good place or my love of the drama nose dives, but I’m not worried about that. Really loving S5.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I agree with all of that. S5 has been a very strong season, in many ways my favorite. A lot hinges on this finale, its possible they could really botch it and in effect ruin the entire series. But right now I’m not really very worried about that. Although I am both excited and sad for the finale; can’t wait to see it, but I don’t want this to end…

      • thinkling says:

        I’m not worried about them ruining the series, or even the season. If they do well, and if it’s as satisfying as some have indicated S5 will be my favorite season, maybe by a lot.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not worried any more either. I was a couple weeks ago, but not now.

      • joe says:

        I haven’t been worried.

        You know what surprises me? It’s the thought that I’ve seen some of the best acting from everyone here in S5. Mekenna’s been stellar, of course. And we expect no less from Zac and Yvonne (wasn’t she great at the end of Bullet Train?). But Josh G. did a tremendous job playing JerkMorgan, Adam has had to play against type both with Mekenna and with Carrie-Ann Moss. Ryan and Sarah L. were marvellous in The Curse. Scott and Vic have never been better than the last two times we’ve seen them.

        I don’t know much about the craft of acting, but I would not at all be surprised to hear professionals saying that, technically, they all just did an amazing job this season.

  2. Non Omnis Moriar says:

    See? This is what I love so much about you guys. The kind of passion that you have for this show. And also being able to convey this passion through your writing. I don’t feel at all what you feel when whatching Sarah and Chuck, but I did once. I remember being this passionate about this show and especially about the endearing lead characters, during the first two seasons. Buying shirts, subway sandwiches by the dozen (constantly telling the annoyed people behind the counter that these are CHUCK sandwiches!!). Walking around with my Buy More card and everytime someone asked what it was I began my story with “Well, I know this great show that you simply have to see……” I even wrote fanfiction. Something I’d never done in my life. Then season three happened and first the love turned to anger, then to sadness and eventually into apathy. But I miss this show. I miss this special feeling that only watching Chuck gave me. But somehow I can’t seem to get it back anymore. Only recently I’ve tried, again, to watch the entire show(minus season three), but I stopped at vs. the Gobbler in season four. It’s a lot like looking at a great show you remember to have loved as a kid, but now you just don’t get why you loved it so much at the time. Reading posts like yours, thinkling, make me smile. If feels good to see how some people are still as passionate about this show as I was in the beginning. I wish you and all other posters here a breathtaking finale that will keep you all talking for months. That way I can read all these posts and still feel a bit like the Chuck fan I was years ago.

    All the best,

    NOM

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks for the heartfelt comments, NOM. We do love the show and have enjoyed the Chuck This community. We love making people smile. Thanks for the wishes for a good finale. Hope you’ll tune in. It sounds like a finale that will bring out the nostalgia in all of us. BTW, have you watched any of S5?

      • Non Omnis Moriar says:

        I haven’t watched anything from this season so far. Morgan with an intersect didn’t exactly inspire bouts of enthousiasm in me and neither does an intersected Sarah to be honest. The spoilers for the finale make it seem like it can either be very good, or very bad. My trust in both Fedak and Schwartz isn’t that great, so I’ve decided to wait till I’ve heard your comments about the finale and then I’ll decide to either watch this season or not. This way I will at least not get as disappointed as during the third season.

      • thinkling says:

        I understand. Come back and chat with us any time.

    • joe says:

      NOM, thanks for saying all that. We appreciate it.

      If I can recommend any one thing that might bring back the feeling you once had, it’s to take walks and just think about Chuck and Sarah. Better, think of them and then think of you and a significant other. You’ll enjoy it all over again. For me, the music helps, so I have my playlists full-up with songs I’ve heard on the show and I listen to them when I walk or go running.

      But more than anything, it’s the privacy and the alone-time with the show that I enjoy. I don’t find it to be a communal thing at all, but a very personal thing. We’ve found stories here about love and friendship and loyalty that are meaningful to everybody, but to each in a different way.

      For me, I simply can’t take my wife out to dinner and not pay attention to her the way Chuck paid attention to Sarah in First Date.

      • Non Omnis Moriar. says:

        I completely agree that what makes this show so magical are the moments when Chuck and Sarah are together. The chemistry between Zach Levi and Yvonne Strahovski is off the scales. I have almost every song from the first two seasons on my ipod and my harddrive was filled with youtube movies about this magical duo. But I lost that feeling during the third season. You see, I could always understand the decisions both Chuck and Sarah made during the first two seasons. Even if I didn’t always like them. I didn’t like seeing Jill kissing Chuck and a sad faced Sarah. Vice versa with Sarah kissing Bryce. But I could understand why the characters acted that way. From the Prague train station on in season three till the moment in Paris, I couldn’t connect with these characters at all. I didn’t understand why they acted the way they did. To me they didn’t even look like the Chuck and Sarah from the previous seasons anymore. In the end I felt that the epic lovestory that I thought it was watching, ultimately turned out to be nothing more than an another average soap opera. I did feel slightly better after watching the first episodes of season four. But it was just not the same anymore. I’ll stop now with my third season tirade because I certainly don’t want to offend anyone.

      • atcDave says:

        Well, you know I agree NOM, for whatever reason I’ve just had more luck blocking it out!

      • Non Omnis Moriar. says:

        Can’t you teach me, master atcYoda?

      • atcDave says:

        Consume lots of fan fiction until you can’t remember what is canon?

        I think part of it may be a pretty cynical view about pacing on serialized television to begin with. So when I see a story like the romance fubar I’m more likely to just blame unimaginative writing than I am to attach anything to the base character. Obviously there comes a point where the writer’s vision for the characters is just clearly not mine, and I move on. But I knew before S3 even started airing that I wasn’t likely to enjoy the main arc; I didn’t know HOW MUCH I would dislike it. I didn’t honestly believe going in that they would so totally screw everything up as bad as they did. But then the back order was placed before the season even started and I knew pretty quickly that would be more fun. Although, in hind sight, the central relationship was the only one of my S3 beefs that was actually any better (I disliked liar Chuck almost as much as the love triangles).
        S4 and S5 simply feel more like the same show I fell in love with back in S1 and S2. Sure the production values are lower thanks to a major budget cut; but the balance of action and comedy; the attention to and affection for the main characters; and the overall more optimistic feel are very appealing to me. I really do just try to forget S3 except for Honeymooners.
        Thinkling has described the continuous growth of Chuck and Sarah from the beginning of the series, it really is a beautiful thing. But some of the S3 actions are just put into what she calls “the black box.” Some messy things happened in there. Some of those things are important to how the characters are now. But the processes used for that growth are not pretty; and to me don’t always even make much sense, certainly not for the characters I knew in the other four seasons. So I’m happy to just imagine something else happened in that Black Box to achieve the same result. Again, the advantages of having read lots of fan fiction!

        And funny thing about your watching of S4; Gobbler was my least favorite episode of that season. I will never buy that Sarah would have gone to a ding-bat like Mary for advice on anything other than a good place for Chinese food in Moscow. So if it helps any; in 4.23 (Last Details) she does unload on Mary and say all the things she should have said back in Gobbler! That helps a lot for me!

      • Non Omnis Moriar. says:

        You know, I like that idea about the black box. I like it a lot.
        I have already started with reading fanfiction again and I like the idea of combining things from my favorite Chuck fiction with canon into my own version of the Chuckverse!! Awesome!
        Ha, Shaw will be at the absolute bottom of my black box!
        My wife was watching over my shoulder as I was writing these messages and she came with the idea of watching season four AND season five together. But NO season three, she said. So I answered “What season three?”

        This is great, I feel better already.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Thanks for the great write-up, Thinkling.

        Non Omnis Moriar:

        NOM, you sound so much like my friends that introduced me to Chuck, I wish there was some way to buy you and your wife a drink and tell you it will get better. And I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that Chuck and Sarah in 3.1 to 3.13 aren’t the same characters as in the first two seasons. Now, those friends of mine stopped watching Chuck during S3, but I managed to get some of them back to watching the show during S4. May I make some suggestions as to your viewing of Chuck?

        When you say “No S3”, does that mean that you didn’t watch Honeymooners? If you have not, make a point of doing so, it is a great episode. Watch the next two after that, Role Models and the Tooth, except for the last scene in Tooth. Skip 3.17 and 3.18. If you can, watch 3.19, the Ring part 2; although Shaw is in it, he does take a beating and it is a great example of the characters we love winning victory against overwhelming odds.

        Then watch Honeymooners again. In season 4, I agree, skip Gobbler, but you have to watch Push Mix and Seduction Impossible, they’re just that good. A lot of people don’t like Cat Squad, but I enjoyed it. Then watch the rest of season 4; if it starts to sag, just rewatch Honeymooners or Phase 3 to perk you up. I don’t know what you’ll think of the remaining eps, Muurrder is a bottle episode for example, and they’re not to everyone’s taste. I realize that S4 had problems with the writing, but I enjoyed it and even not-great Chuck is as good or better than anything else on TV.

        I’ve only seen the first episode of S5, but it was good, they handled the Morgansect much better than expected. I like your wife’s idea: once the S5 dvds come out, I’m going to watch S4 and S5 straight through.

        I think that the showrunners broke Chuck in S3, but it is still worth watching.

      • Non Omnis Moriar. says:

        LOL! Thanks for the invite Verkan Vall. I’ve seen Honeymooners once. But, to be honest, at that time I was still seeding over the previous episodes. I think that when I’d look at it now and watch it like it’s the first episode after Colonel, I’d love it.
        Just talking with you guys about Chuck has brought some of my enthousiasm back from the old days. Perhaps I’ll even post my stories again over at FanFiction.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m really glad we were able to help NOM! It’s a show I always love to share, in spite of a few blemishes. We look forward to hearing back fom you.

  3. Non Omnis Moriar says:

    Thank you. I most certainly will.

    • lappers84 says:

      I agree with these comments – season 3 was tough on everyone. But it does improve a hell of a lot (bar a couple of odd episodes) – and this season has been absolutely fantastic – Man am I going to miss it. 😦

  4. joe says:

    Nom is right, Thinkling. This is a wonderful write up (like usual, huh?).

    But I’m gonna tell you right out that you missed my make-me-smile moment of the year. It’s when Sarah reveals to Chuck that she’s got the Intersect. Sarah’s worried that Chuck won’t like that idea at all, and maybe he’s even a little upset that she’s got it and he doesn’t. Okay, that’s only in the deep recesses of her mind and in the mind of the audience. One long breath, then Chuck smiles, is barely able to contain himself and says Coolest thing ever. Right? 😉

    Now that is a moment I’ll remember for a long time.

    • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

      And even better was when Sarah agrees it’s the coolest thing ever. It was like Chuck and Morgan bonding over video games. Sarah’s inner nerd came out.

      Great write-up, Thinkling. You always tell such a great story with you reviews. Since I’ve only been hanging out here this year, someday I’m going to go back and read your reviews from past seasons.

      • joe says:

        Oh yeah. That’s exactly what made the scene stand out for me, Jeff.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks, Jeff, glad you enjoyed it.

        You know with Chuck, unlike any other show I’ve ever watched, there is always so much story behind the story. The story is always much more than the plot, and there’s usually a theme through which to explore and magnify the episode. I just don’t think that’s true of many (if any) other TV shows. … Or maybe it’s just my level of involvement. Whatever the case, it’s been great fun.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Joe, that scene also point to the biggest disappointment in the episode. Without that scene, I would not even know it was a disappointment. I would have loved to see the action sequence that required Sarah to jump “off a bridge, on to a moving truck, and then on to a car going the other direction.” The budget might have been more of a problem than time. Maybe they could have done product placement like Matrix 2 (all of the cars where GM).

        Thinkling, some shows have it, but most sitcoms and procedurals don’t. Even those shows that have it normally don’t have as much going on as Chuck. Two examples I can think of are sci-fi: Battlestar Galatica and Babylon 5. Both had complicated, long story arcs. BSG was very dark, focusing on human flaws, while Babylon 5 had some dark themes (e.g. galactic war, addiction, tragic consequences of the wrong word) but came across more heroic. Neither has the heart that Chuck has (or as much humor).

      • thinkling says:

        Ah. I’m just not into dark. And I’m selective about what sci-fi I enjoy. Chuck seems unique in its multi-genre format, its relationship/character growth, its heart, and its story behind the story, which for me is usually what’s going on with the character more than the mythology or arc plot. I think Chuck is its own phenomenon in many ways, and I would love to see it lead the way in creative alternate venues for movie production. It’s coming sooner or later, and I’d love to see Chuck lead the charge on that hill.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        While I prefer stories that aren’t dark, I can handle it to some extent if I like the story, characters, and themes. Bab5 and Farscape have very dark themes, but I didn’t realize it at the time because they were heroic and funny, and simply good stories. Their presentation wasn’t too dark.

        Ignoring the trapezoids, Chuck S3.0 fell into the same category for me. Even other Chuck seasons had parts that were dark (e.g. Casey about to shoot Chuck, satellite about to fall on LA, bio-weapon released at a conference, suitcase nuke, Lester trying to kill Jeff), but most of the time, the presentation covered it well.

        BSG was too dark, but I got trapped into wanting to know how it ended.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I don’t mind dark if there’s a point. I loved The Wire, because even though you were left with the idea that change wasn’t possible in the worlds they explored there was the angle of individual redemption. The Soprano’s, while some REALLY well done drama left me cold because it seemed pointless in the end, like I’d been watching a guy die for 6 seasons. What was the point? It was 6 seasons of character study? BSG and Heroes both lost me when they lost their core. With Heroes the whole first season was good-guys and bad guys, and the questionable guys in between who could go either way, then everybody switched, then switched back, then ran away and joined the circus… (!?) BSG lost focus I think because suddenly the Cylons weren’t trying to wipe out humanity and “the plan” got muddier and even the Cylons didn’t know who were Cylons or not so it got to the point I didn’t care. I still want to see how it finishes. Some day. But that’s the problem when you hang a show on a contrivance rather than characters we can root for.

        The big thing with Chuck is that we bough into that world. It became real to us because the great cast and crew made it real. As Fedak said TV is about relationships, and we could see the heart they infused that show with, and so formed that relationship because clearly the Chuck family believed in it too.

      • joe says:

        Jeff – oh yeah, Bab 5 was hilarious at times. Stephen Furst as been a major hoot since Animal House.

        But wasn’t it exactly that humor in Season 1 that made their Season 4 so dark and thrilling? The contrast (especially in the character G’Kar) blew me away.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny I know I’m outspoken for not liking dark, but I’m sure many of you have realized that isn’t quite true. I actually enjoy some pretty dark settings and stories (and a very dark villain is often a lot of fun!); as long as I can respect and like the protagonist. There has to be at least one main character who knows right from wrong and tries to do what’s right. I’d even add that character needs to be mostly successful in their goals too. I deleted BSG from my DVR after it’s first season when I decided I didn’t like a single character. Yet I loved all of the Terminator movies. I’m also a huge fan of the classic Universal monster movies of the 1930s. I’m really not put off by dark imagery, it’s dark souls that turn me off.
        And that is a big part of why Chuck S3 turns me off. The Charah malfunction was the single most heart wrenching problem, but so much of that season was spent exploring darker themes. One at a time, with lessons learned for each (developing and betraying an asset; assassinating on command; ever more involved lies to friends and family; killing for the first time…), it might have been interesting. But with all of it piling up and heart ache always in the background. It was just too much for too long for me. S3.5 might have been a more workable pattern for a season long arc (for me); even though some darker themes were still present (Intersect brain melting, lying to a loved one), there was just that extra measure of hope and love underlying the stories to make it all vastly more enjoyable for me. But still with that caution where I wasn’t liking the protagonist as much as I used to. The character of Chuck was permanently damaged by the discovery he was capable of so much less than I previously had thought.
        Then to me the S4 and S5 story lines are the epitome of uplifting. We have a committed loving couple who will face any risk for each other and to do the right thing. The darker themes that have come up have generally served to highlight those character’s strengths, not to diminish them. To me, that is as exciting as any story ever gets. Good people doing the right thing; even against long odds and dark evil. It excites me just thinking about these last two seasons!

        Sorry about the Chuckwin’s Law moment. Chuck has never been as dark as much mainstream entertainment. I will always love this show the things it has done so well.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Joe, Vir was always great. The humor was just more parceled out. The biggest contrast for me was seeing drunk, washed up Londo from Parliment of Dreams (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DziRyepLpQ0) become the person who made the bombing of the Narn homeworld possible.

      • joe says:

        I know what you mean. For me, it was G’Kar going from an annoying bureaucrat in the Pilot to a Christ-like character/hero in S4.

        Oh gee. I have twitter flashing by on my screen. It’s unrelated, but Julia Ling and Ali Adler are thanking the fans right now and it’s amazingly sweet.

        Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare to be heartwarmed.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Being knighted as Sir G’Kar by King Arthur, I mean D’Artagnan, I mean some guy with sword, can really change a person. By the end of S4, G’Kar and Londo was the funniest, most twisted buddy relationship I’ve ever scene on TV. The late Andreas Katsulas would have made a fantastic villain on Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        The darker themes that have come up have generally served to highlight those character’s strengths, not to diminish them. To me, that is as exciting as any story ever gets. Good people doing the right thing; even against long odds and dark evil. It excites me just thinking about these last two seasons!

        Well, said, Dave. That makes all the difference. It was the damage to the main characters and the prolonged and extreme CRM that made S3 seems so dark. Like you said so much heartache in the background.

  5. Margaret says:

    AWESOME review, Thinkling. It captures and expresses my feelings about this show I love do well. “Chuck” is the only TV series I watch, and our whole family delights in each new episode. Thanks for conveying so well what we’re feeling.

    • thinkling says:

      Thank you, Margaret. Feelings are running high and running over right now for Chuck fans. It’s just kind of hard to capture, so if I’ve captured a little bitty bit of it, I am happy. Enjoy the finale tonight 🙂

  6. Faith says:

    This is quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever read. Just kidding! I loved it, so, so very much. I don’t often comment on your recaps Thinkling because I don’t think “GAH” is a good response but I always read them and I’m always better for having done so. Well put and I can’t wait for them to conclude the 2nd, 3rd? Part (I agree with you there) of their journey post Bullet Train.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Faith, that means a lot, because your reviews always strike a chord with me, too. You always put your finger on the emotional pulse of the episode.

      I am looking forward to seeing how they tell their story tonight, excited to see them finish the journey together, and already kind of emotional to think the rest of their journey will be in our imaginations.

      Man, I’m gonna miss all this.

  7. Jason says:

    Thinkling – thanks. Your reviews have contributed richly to the legacy of all things ‘Chuck’.

    I thought one of your comments on another thread here was interesting when taken together with this writing, something about when a wt/wt comes together in a show that built itself around the wt/wt, what is next? In Chuck, I think they did a great job plowing new ground in this area when many of the so-called experts warned us all it was impossible. Chuck writers did this not in specific dialogue that was forgotten, but in raising the question and exploring the answer on screen in a number of different ways for the past 2 1/2 seasons.

    In many ways, the entire ‘normal’ issue, and / or quitting the spy life, became the new wt/wt for Chuck, starting almost immediately on the first train ride in the Honeymooners, and as you so eloquently pointed out, came full circle on the bullet train episode, and got sprinkled into many of the episodes in between. Will they or won’t they get back together is the most obvious dramatic tease for tonight. But I am pretty sure they do get back together in some way, shape or form. Then, the thing I am most interested in, is will they or won’t they quit the spy life and become normal, in a manner that my imagination can fill in 91 more episodes of a Chuck and Sarah future? I hope tonight answers that clearly as the credits roll. We’ll know soon enough.

    • esardi says:

      Jason as you stated this show has a tendency of running in full circles. Another wt/wt question will be if Chuck gets the intersect again. I have a feeling they will never be normal, he will have the intersect again, although they may quit the spy life.

      With all the talk about a possible internet movie. I know that is mostly Zach talking, I just think they will leave the door open enough for that kind off possibility. This will be especially true if there are loose ends.

      • lappers84 says:

        I don’t think was the only one talking about a movie – If you watch the interview with Shwedak it was sneakily mentioned when they were asked about comics and alternate forms of trying to continue the series. So it’s possible they also have the same thing in mind.

      • atcDave says:

        Yvonne has mentioned it too. So I’m sure they’ve kicked the idea around. But at this point it has to be considered a long shot; as in someone would have to generate a story idea, funding (the biggie!), and then make their schedules work (might be a big deal if any of them make it really big or get another show).

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Jason, I’m gonna miss all things Chuck.

      Part of my point about the wt/wt is that the longer it drags out, the more they end up building the show around it, like with any plot point. Take Beckett’s mother’s killer, the longer that has gone unsolved and the more complicated they have made it, the more it seems like the main plot that needs to resolve itself for the show to end. Same with solving Monk’s wife’s murder. If you don’t want one plot to become the main plot that will make people feel like the show is over once it’s resolved, then solve it sooner rather than later. For wt/wt, to me, that means, get the leads together in a timely fashion and then throw them into a major story line, case, drama, whatever. Don’t let it become that one thing. Let it be a great thing, solve it, and move on with some other source of mystery or tension. In Chuck they did that with the mom hunt, transferring the main story to something other than Chuck and Sarah wt/wt. I think they waited a half season (maybe more) too long and damaged the principle character too much in the process, but they managed to substitute a compelling story for the wt/wt. Sadly, they confessed that they thought OG would be the end, so they still didn’t get the idea of making wt/wt “a” great storyline, instead of “the” storyline. Oh well, there is a balance to get all you can out of it and then transition to the next thing, which ideally will be there in the background waiting to take center stage, like the mom hunt.

      S5 wt/wt has been getting out of the spy life. Though I can see or accept various ends for the journey, with regard to the spy life and Intersect, I really thing the logical end of the journey is for them to be free of the spy life (Sarah’s counter cyber-terrorism angle is a great idea, but probably a head-fake) and the Intersect. It’s not a must for me either way, but that’s the direction I think the story points.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        When comparing with Monk and Castle, Chuck did a better job of transferring story lines and developing side stories that people care about. The Ring, Ring II, and Cliffhanger endings always seemed tacked on, but they all gave good springboards for story lines outside of Charah.

        Everyone knew Monk would end with him finding his wife’s killer. The only other question was would he get is badge back.

        Castle might be almost worse because Beckett has said she’s not ready for a relationship until after her mother’s murder is solved. If they wrap up the conspiracy soon, then might be able to make the new relationship the new storyline. But if they drag out the conspiracy long past this season, the relationship will look ridiculous–unless Beckett changes her mind about her wall.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Jeff, Castle has done something far worse, they’ve tied THE two big stories together, which makes it really hard to transfer the story, especially if they wait much longer.

        You’re right, Chuck has done a good job. The most organic, and least tacked on, was the mom hunt, because their missing mom was important from the start. R2 made some sense, even if it was a bit jarring. Morgansect was the most tacked on. It was like, whoa, where did that come from? Followed immediately by what were they thinking?

      • joe says:

        Where would you put White Collar, then? Bryce – uh, Neil! – starts off trying to find Kate, the love of his life. That was a great story line until they killed her. From what I can tell, there’s no hope of resurrecting her and he’s had at least one major relationship since.

        But the main relationship story is with Peter and almost as much with Moz. The new line they introduced this season – Moz stealing a billion dollar Nazi treasure and almost getting away with Neil’s help – was pretty good, but the old arc was totally ignored in the process.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        I wasn’t as surprised about the Morgansect, and I’m not just saying that because of my fanfic. In Lord of the Rings, we got glimpses of how Frodo, Bilbo, Gollum, Sam, Isildur, Aragorn, Galadrial, and Boromir all would react around the ring. Chuck calling Morgan ‘Gollum’ in Frosted Tips directly pointed to the parallels between the Ring of Power and the Intersect. Lois & Clark had a story where Superman’s powers were transferred to Lois, turning her into Ultrawoman. It was a fun episode. I think I’ve seen it in other shows too. It just normally isn’t a cliffhanger.

      • thinkling says:

        I think the wt/wt of white collar is always will Neil leave and go back to life on the run, or will he stay, grow up, and live a responsible “real” life with the FBI. The girls are incidental, except as they entice him to stay or go. Kate enticed him to go, but Peter made him stay (and saved him from getting blown up). The other woman (Sara) makes him want to stay. Peter and Elizabeth are Neil’s Ellie and Devon, the ideal of normal.

      • ArmySFC says:

        i’m not sure what you mean, but the treasure arc is finished. the on going arc with peter is just that on going. peter has never really trusted neil. he knew neil had the treasure. it’s kind of like a wt/wt m/f thing. neil keeping it from peter was a step back in that relationship. other than that there is really not any open arc.

      • thinkling says:

        The dark in Chuck adds some depth and contrast and meaning to the painting and enhances the color and light, but it doesn’t dominate. When you step back and look at the whole painting, it isn’t dark. It’s got a lot of light and color.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Joe, White Collar and Burn Notice are interesting cases. For both, I like the case of the week better than the background arc. White Collar has done a decent job of shifting from the girlfriend to the treasure, and now to getting the anklet cut off. I think Burn Notice has dragged out the people-who-burned-him theme way too long, like what Monk did with his wife’s murder. The client-of-the-week and how-to-be-a-spy stuff is still good.

      • thinkling says:

        Heh, Jeff, you just outlined my point. Each season there is enticement for Neil to leave: first Kate, then the treasure, now the free choice with no legal consequences. Will he/won’t he?

      • ArmySFC says:

        Jeff i agree with that. thinkling also said something along those lines. i like the way WC does it’s case of the week with the background arc. they keep it in the back ground and don’t drag it out to long. kate is a good example. one season and done. then the possession of the treasure half a season + or -. the main concern is will he stay or go?

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Great imagery, Thinkling. I sometimes wonder if the stories have anything to do with why I like a TV show. Many writers are telling similar stories about people overcoming adversities. But it’s the lighting, sets, and background score that set the tone. It’s the little details, quirks, and jokes that the writers slip in that help make the show unique. It’s the actors’ portrayals of the characters that make us like and care about them. All of these things are brought together to give us the full painting.

      • joe says:

        Hum… Good points on White Collar, all. I’m not so sure that the “treasure arc” is exactly dead, because the whole thing was really about the trust between Peter and Neil, not about the treasure. That issue is not exactly over. I’ll admit, though, it seems to be evolving into something else. We’ll see, when Neil gets the ankle bracelet off.

        Monk was a bit different, I think. That was more like Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes, the one man he doesn’t get until the very end. I’m sure there was never a thought about Monk solving his wife’s murder until they knew the series was coming to an end.

        You may be exactly right, Thinkling, about the wt/wt being about Neil’s becoming FBI. Right now, it’s the pen-ultimate “buddy” show, more or less like the Lethal Weapons vehicles for Gibson & Glover.

      • atcDave says:

        I think White Collar is an excellent example of a different, buddy sort of wt/wt. Alternately Kate and the stolen treasure have been plot devises, but the story is always about if Neil can turn over a new leaf. My wife and I were just discussing that issue last week how we basically disliked the entire treasure arc until the pay-off. It worked better for us than Chuck S3 ever did because it didn’t generate quite the intense dislike for us, yet we still felt dislike/discomfort with Neil’s actions all season long; right until that beautiful pay-off with Elizabeth’s kidnapping. We saw the conflicted character make the right choice. Even though we had previously been a little disappointed in him, it never rose to the level of hating the main character.
        Of course White Collar doesn’t ever quite generate the same level of passion for me that Chuck can; but I would still say that main arc has been very well played.

  8. Pingback: A Grief Observed^ — A Hope Retained (Chuck vs the Goodbye) | Chuck This

  9. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Bullet Train (5.11) | Chuck This

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