Reader’s Digest Rewatch: Cougars & DeLorean

Getting To Know Sarah

I Live For Your Smile.

Before I begin my reader’s digest version of Cougars and DeLorean, please let me start by saying it’s been a revelation. Like many have written in comments, I too was a little – what’s the word? hesitant? unwilling? AFRAID??? to actually begin a Chuck marathon re-watch in earnest. I completely understand everyone who wrote that the finale left them not wanting to begin that journey again.

But that was wrong, and I did. So let me now recap, as quickly as I can, Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2 so that I can tell you what I learned and learned again about Agent Sarah Walker by the the time I got to Cougars.

In The Beginning…

Chuck loves Sarah, and Sarah loves Chuck. There. Quick enough for ya? 😉 Oh, of course there’s more to it, but since I had convinced myself years ago that Sarah was really hesitant about relationships and needed major convincing that Chuck was the man for her, discovering that Sarah was all-in from the beginning (and believing it this time) was a revelation.

Still, Sarah always has been a mystery. Here’s what we know.

In the course of Season 1, Chuck discovers that Sarah has secrets, most of which she must keep for his safety. He also discovers that he’s a little bit of a hero, at least in Sarah’s eyes.

Let my rephrase that. It’s Sarah who discovers that Chuck is a little bit of a hero. That’s nothing that isn’t known already to Ellie and Morgan. In fact, the entire staff of the Buy More, with the possible exception of Harry Tiberius Tang, seems to recognize that Chuck is the go-to man for anything and everything that goes on there. I absolutely loved the idea that, early on, the accomplished, cynical and glamorous spy comes to the same conclusion. Sarah realizes that Chuck has it in him to be the “go-to-man” for just about anything.

On re-watch, I learned that there was never a question Sarah fell in love with Chuck every bit as soon and every bit as hard as he fell in love with her. Despite the seeming set-backs (particularly in Truth and in the aftermath of The Kiss that we saw in Crown Vic), and despite the fact that Chuck brought an end to their (fake) relationship when he chose Lou, the two were on an unbroken upward path from the beginning. By the end of Season 1, Sarah was calling Chuck “her guy” and everybody (well, everybody but Chuck) realized their relationship, cover or no, was real. Chuck was actually dreaming about a real life – a normal life – vacationing in Europe with Sarah when he thought he might get the Intersect out of his head.

But then came the bad news. He was still and always the Intersect. Bryce made it clear to Chuck that any feelings Sarah may have for him were dangerous, dangerous enough to get her killed. For her part, Sarah didn’t care about that. What she cared about was that any feelings she might have for Chuck might get him killed. They both feared for Ellie and Morgan and Awesome. Chuck’s solution was to tear it all down in The Breakup and tell Sarah that he understood a relationship between them was impossible.

So by mutual agreement, the romance is put on hold, and that’s where we are when we get to Cougars. It’s perhaps only the second episode (the first being Undercover Lover) that isn’t centered on either Chuck or the romance, and let me assure you, the timing of this break was perfect. It was an opportunity to finally discover more about our favorite agent.

Before this, we could list on the fingers of one hand everything important we, and Chuck, knew about Sarah Walker: she was a deadly spy, she had a reputation for becoming “involved” (scare quotes intended) with her partners, she liked and participated extensively in the fast life, was intensely secretive about anything personal, and had a past. She definitely had a past.

There was some trivial stuff – She hated olives on her pizza, loved extra pickles with her hamburger and maybe, just maybe, her middle name was Lisa. Chuck didn’t distinguish between the important and the trivial, though. To him, it was all important.

Oh, there was one more important thing. When Sarah Walker had a chance to see or experience anything resembling a normal life, the agent melted into a real girl. Slowly we saw revealed that she lacked and wanted a family, but she tried to keep that a close secret. Almost despite herself, Sarah would change every time she interacted with Chuck in front of Ellie and Devon. Was that an act too? Chuck saw her do that and decided, along with us, that it was either the greatest job of acting in the world or the worst. Ellie, Devon and Morgan voted “real!” Chuck voted “acting!” So did I.


Now in Cougars, Chuck gets a chance to fill in some of the blanks when we’re introduced to a dangerous character in stereotypical Chuck fashion, complete with dangerous character theme music. There she is, a beautiful and deadly woman skulking around the Buy More, obviously checking out Agent Walker carefully.

Heather Chandler, Queen Bee

“I know who you are,” she says. “Boo!” Oh wait, that was me. Heather Chandler, played wonderfully (and surprisingly) by Nicole Ritchie, is worse than a deadly spy. She’s Sarah’s worst nightmare from high school, the Queen Bee, complete with cheerleader outfit and royal entourage. Ten years later she’s Heather Ratner, married to a nerdy schlub who’s inadvertently involved with the Russian Mafia and way out of his depth in more ways than one. The two are on their way to a class reunion and Sarah does NOT want to go. Chuck is, of course, intrigued.

The Angry Teen

That’s almost understandable. Thanks to the magic of an amazing make-up and wardrobe department at Warner Brothers (not to mention some stellar acting), the lovely Yvonne Strahovski is transformed to an awkward, gawky teen, slump-shouldered and poorly dressed, complete with stringy hair and braces. Worse, she’s ridiculed and embarrassed in school by the fact that her father has just been imprisoned by one Agent Langston Graham. The ridicule is led by Heather and by Dick Duffy (Michael Weaver) who is one of the first to attempt to impose herself on the then timid and perhaps angry teen.

Jenny, Katie, Rebecca… What’s In A Name Anyway?

You remember (because it was unforgettable) how, thanks to Casey, Chuck plays the cool, imposing spy “Mad-dog” for Mark and leads the professional spies to the Russians who were black-mailing him. You also remember Chuck telling him, unforgettably, that “sometimes the nerd gets the girl.” And of course, the most unforgettable scene of all is Sarah fighting Heather in the shower.

Sarah: Your name has been at the top of my list of people who need a good ass-kicking!
Heather: You should’ve been suspicious of me right off. I mean, why would a girl like me ever fall in love with a dorky nerd like him?
Sarah: Uh, you’d be surprised!

Chuck and Sarah put their relationship on hold after The Break-Up, but you can be sure that the romance is not over. What we learned about Sarah Walker is that future CIA director Graham saved her father from the dangerous people he conned and recruited Sarah into the CIA himself. We learned for the first time that Sarah had used many names, Jenny Burton in San Diego, Katie O’Connell in Wisconsin, Rebecca Franko in Cleveland. These were fakes provided by her father as they traveled doing their various cons.

But her real name? Her mother? How she went from gawky teen to gorgeous spy? We don’t learn a thing. All we know is that Sarah’s skills at keeping her true thoughts to herself were honed at her father’s knee, and her strong sense of justice was her own. Besides that, not much. Chuck, however, is satisfied.

So I guess the big secret about you is that you used to be just a typical high-school student.

I don’t need to know more, not about who you were. Because as much as you don’t think so, I know who you are. A girl I’d like to share a cheeseburger with.

And At The Buy More…

I tend to forget that the Buy More humor is one of the ingredients that makes Chuck rise above the ordinary fare shown on television. When it’s right, it provides the necessary relief from the struggles of the romance and from any predictability of the weekly adventure. In this case, the “B” plot to Cougars is one of the best; Lester (the short-reigned Ass-Man) is in charge when Big Mike takes a day to go fishing, and his new sales policy is to move tons of merchandise by essentially giving it away. Yup, it’s the old joke come to life!

Salesman: “Our prices are so low that we lose money on every sale!”
Customer: “Then how do you make a profit?”
Salesman: “Volume!”

No good can come of this. I, however will never forget the performance of Hope Shapiro, who lives for our smile as Bunny the Green-shirt. Bunny is one of the tiny, background parts that have always made Chuck just a little more special than we expected (even when we expected a lot).

If You’re Gonna Get Made, Don’t Be Afraid Of What You Learn

The second episode in which we learn more about Sarah’s early life is DeLorean, which starts in Butte, Montana in 1990. Sarah (as played by Stefanie Scott), is cute, bright, strong and confident. She’d rather go for ice cream (Rocky Road, of course) than go to the hospital for her sprained wrist.

I’m sure you remember the episode’s details (or you can see them again here).

All True. But I'm also one hell of a dancer.

We always think of DeLorean as one of the Sarah-centered episodes. But that’s a bit of a misconception. We do learn more about Sarah’s childhood, running cons and grifting with her father, but the truth is we learn more about Jack. He’s a master thief, a lousy father and a thoroughly charming rogue.

Don’t underestimate him, though. He’s not a complete loser – he’s got some talent. Not only does Jack have Chuck pegged right (he’s a schnook with $2200 to his name) but his daughter is in love with the guy. That’s really worrisome.

What does Sarah think about Jack, the man who taught her everything she knows about the ways of the world, the man who embarrassed her by his actions and the man who wasn’t there when she needed a father? At first, it seems that the answer is – not much.

Sarah: Chuck, you’re interpreting good intentions to him because you’re a good person.
Chuck: Well, he must have done something right. You turned out pretty good.

Let’s reserve judgment. It’s also true that, for Sarah, “No kid had as much fun as you did.”

DeLorean is not carried by it’s “B” plot, which is all about Morgan spending borrowed money for a car that will not go over 22 mph, money that Anna wants him to spend on an apartment. That’s okay. Morgan’s not ready. The car is the device by which the Sheikh Rajiv Amad (Anthony Azizi) fails to make his escape. The “B” plot is not why I love this episode.

The things that make this episode one of my all time favorites are how the stars play their roles and how they use some of the tools of their trade. Just watch how Sarah plays Ms. Applebaum, Mr. Lichtenstein’s personal secretary. It’s the hand movements and head tilts that convince you it’s no longer Agent Sarah Walker, but Agent Walker playing a perfect con. Amazing.

More impressive still is the performance of Gary Cole as Jack Burton. The veteran actor is absolutely convincing as Sarah’s dad and as a con man. It’s the twinkle Gary Cole places in Jack’s eye that makes him charming enough to con us. Better, he shows us that he approves of Chuck because Chuck has convinced him he loves his daughter and would never betray her.

Sarah still seems ambivalent about Jack’s intentions.

Sarah: If there’s anything I learned from my father, it’s be ready for disappointment. And if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”
Chuck: No, it’s not… you need to know that your father’s sins are his, and not yours.

But is he really so bad? As Chuck places his jacket over Sarah’s shoulders, he looks back at Jack. In that glance we know that Chuck has learned something about the man, about Sarah and about their loyalty each other. We love the Jack because, in the end, Sarah does; she lets him escape the CIA. And so too, I think, does Chuck, even if he knows the pain Jack has caused.

The final song, Furr by Blitzen Trapper, is one of the best in the entire series. The song has always spoken to me of Jack’s origins, his spirit and, most importantly, of the lessons he wanted to impart to Sarah.

You can wear your fur
Like the river on fire.
But you better be sure
If you’re makin’ God a liar.
I’m a rattlesnake, babe,
I’m like fuel on fire.
So if you’re gonna’ get made,
Don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned.

Furr – Blitzen-Trapper

After Cougars and DeLorean it seems to me that Sarah is afraid of her growing love for Chuck. It’s dangerous and it’s already changed her. She’s going to be revealed, she’s going to get made. We know that, at the very least she is going to reveal herself to Chuck (and to us) soon and at this point in the story we could hardly wait for it to happen.

Despite myself and my hesitance to start a re-watch, I have to admit… it is still an amazing story. It still makes me happy.

– joe


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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57 Responses to Reader’s Digest Rewatch: Cougars & DeLorean

  1. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    Two of the better episodes of the entire series, as most Sarah-centric episodes were.

    • joe says:

      She’s our fav., no doubt, Shep.

      I don’t think the fandom could ever get enough of Sarah, either stories about her origins or stories (Like Phase 3) about her exploits. But as they say in show-biz, always leave ’em wanting more, right? 😉

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        “But as they say in show-biz, always leave ‘em wanting more, right?”

        Bit of a minefield there based on the ending.

        Unlike you I haven’t rediscovered the show. 😦

  2. thinkling says:

    Bravo, Joe. Excellent write up of two of my favorites. I think Cougars wins over DeLorean, but both are top episodes.

    I was taken this time watching Cougars at comparing Chuck and Sarah and Heather and Mark. Heather and Mark were a real couple, but the love was fake … at least for Heather. Mark was clueless. Chuck and Sarah were a fake couple, but the love was real. Cougars is one that I can watch an unlimited number of times (well, you know) and not get tired of it. The last scene is pivotal in their story, and one of a long list of wonderful, sweet CS scenes.

    DeLorean is great, especially when you think about what’s coming in Wedding Planner. Jack gives both of them his blessing: Sarah when he tells her that Chuck would never betray her and that he loves her 10 mil worth; and Chuck when he says he glad she met the right Schnook and to take care of her. Then in Wedding Planner he pays for it, like any FOB. (Of course he’s not there, but he lets her know that even though he’s a lousy father he loves her.) Love the last scene. “My daughter is some kind of a cop, isn’t she? And Chuck putting his jacket over Sarah’s shoulders, already taking care of her.

    • joe says:

      Long list of wonderful scenes, indeed! I always chuckle at Sarah panicing and complaining to Beckman about going her reunion (“But… it’s not a cover. It’s ME!”). And of course, there’s always Sarah telling Chuck rather forcefully that Jenny does not like answering questions about her past (emphasizing the point memorably)!

      But for me, those scenes in DeLorean with Chuck and Sarah are special. They’ve put their relationship on hold, but they are so comfortable with each other that it’s hard to see them as anything by boyfriend/girlfriend (especially when Chuck puts his coat over Sarah’s shoulders).

      You’re right that Jack doesn’t give his blessing until The Wedding Planner, but what we saw in DeLorean was close enough. Jack was ready to give away his daughter to Chuck even then.

      • Rob says:

        I couldn’t agree more, which leads me to something I mentioned in another entry. We know from Sarah’s vlogs in S5 that she was willing to admit that she was in love with Chuck right around the time when things were “quiet.” At the beginning of DeLorean, Chuck walks into the Orange Orange and Sarah says that it was a boring day. On the flip side, at the beginning of Santa Claus, Chuck mentions that the bad guys must be taking a holiday (interrupting Sarah’s fixation on a family poster).

        That leads me to my point …. her dad said: “I made a ten million dollar bet that he loved you….turns out I was right.” To me, this is one of the most pivital lines of the entire series. Her dad’s approval is possibly all that Sarah needed to put her over the edge. Even with her dad’s failings, Sarah has always looked for his approval … in this case, of her feelings for Chuck.

      • joe says:

        Great catch about the vlog, Rob. I think you’ve got it exactly right.

        Jack’s line “I made a ten million dollar bet that he loved you…” is a classic amoung the many classic lines in the show. Chuck unknowingly answers him later – “You gave me ten million reasons to leave and one really good one to stay.” I think you’re right – Sarah was looking for dad’s approval (if only a bit). But Chuck grew up in everyone’s eyes with that answer.

  3. ww1posterfan says:

    Another terrific write up. Sarah Walker is my absolute favorite character on Chuck. Thus, I adore these two episodes for many of the reasons already eloquently stated. So I’ll just mention a few things that resonated with me. For some reason, two of my favorite Sarah lines from Cougars are when she spits out “Go Cougars” after finishing off Heather Chandler and when she tells Casey she is working out some unresolved childhood issues after laying out Dick Duffy. Both of those make me laugh out loud, especially the “Go Cougars.” Yvonne delivers the line pitch perfect. I also found it to be poetic justice for the “ugly duckling” to win the reunion queen title. Sarah still looked beautiful even as beaten and bedraggled as her character was after throwing down with her arch nemesis. Yvonne also manages to pull off the “little girl” look of “who me?” when she realizes she has the crown put on her head and manages a little smile with her busted lip, ruined dress, smeared mascara, and bare feet.

    As for Delorean, the term schnook refers to someone easily duped. Chuck still had alot of naivete’ about him, but he was not a simpleton by any stretch of the imagination, and I still wonder if Jack didn’t give him that nickname tongue-in-cheek. I was also struck by Sarah’s seeming surprise when her father admitted putting his trust in Chuck. Sarah had already emphatically stated in Tom Sawyer that “I trust Chuck.” She seemed genuinely surprised that her father came to the same conclusion in such a short amount of time. Lastly, some others have made mention of Sarah’s expression when Jack tells her Chuck loves her. I took her expression to be a wistful one- where she is thinking “if only he really felt that way for me-and if he did, what good would it do me.” That expression indicated to me she was already well down the path of coming to grips with her feelings and the unsurprising “I don’t know what to do about it.”

    Lastly, I, too, was disappointed in the ending, but eventually made my peace with it. The re-watch has been great for me personally. Seeing the love story unfold again with the knowledge of what’s to come has only helped me further solidify in my mind how these two characters were destined to be together.

    • joe says:

      I rather enjoyed the demonstrations of Sarah’s frustrations myself, W. The pencil through the picture, her exasperation with Beckman and even with Chuck when he kept pressing for information in the O-O and in the restuarant.

      Oh – I don’t know who created the names “Schnook” and “Cop-face” for Chuck and Casey, but putting them in Jack’s mouth was inspired!

      • thinkling says:

        I love those parts of Cougars, too. And of course, this is where Sarah first accepts Chuck’s help, without even knowing it. He makes everything “all better” for her, beginning with the dress. Same in DeLorean. Sarah finds a friend who can lessen her burden.

        I love the two couples in the OO. Sooo funny. Yup Sarah’s frustration all the way through is spot on, and Yvonne just nails it in Cougars (and DeLorean … and and and :))

        I also really love Beckman’s way of dealing with Sarah. “I hope you like Italian food.”

        Such a classic.

      • joe says:

        Heh. You got me thinking, Think! You know how Chuck always had those girlish screams? He would always jump when someone startled him at the fountain (particularly Bryce, Devon and Casey). For my money he was most fearless in approaching an irrate Sarah in her room. That woman could be dangerous! 😉

  4. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    BTW, the hamburger scene at the end of Cougars has always been a top 5 scene for me.

  5. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    BTW, the hamburger scene at the end of Cougars was always a top 5 scene for me.

  6. garnet says:

    I wondered when Awesome’s Bear would show up!

  7. joe says:

    Heh! I just had a new laugh/chuckle.

    Between Cougars and DeLorean is The Jill Arc. I was just watching Graviton, and you may remember that at the end, Ellie is about to have her Thankgiving dinner. But she’s been worried about Jill and Chuck and all that old stuff from Stanford.

    Well, Morgan offers that all they need is a “Thanksgiving miracle”, and wishes for Sarah to come through the door with Chuck and everything will be alright. Of course, that’s exactly what happens.

    But then Morgan realizes he wasted a “Thanksgiving miracle” and also wishes for The Sweedish Bikini Team to come through the door. His last wish is for a DeLorean. Timely! 😉

    That, and Jill’s story about “The Leadership Conference” where she was recruited tells me again how far ahead they were planning.

  8. garnet says:

    If you recall that Mini Anden is Swedish, it would also foreshadow her liason with Morgan as part of the Thanksgiving miracle.

    • joe says:

      Tru Dat!

      Honestly, the number of tie-ins to later episodes is stunning. It’s easy to think, sometimes, that there were major continuity problems and missed follow-ons, but I’m willing to bet that there were reasons. From what I can tell, someone(s) was very good at those kinds of details.

  9. ww1posterfan says:

    I’ve got a question for you guys. We learn that Langston Graham recuits Sarah while still in high school in Cougars. Do you think it is a) a benevolent act or b) a manipulative act or c) something else entirely? I was never a fan of the Graham character (short-lived as it was), so my interpretation was that he took advantage of an extremely vulnerable young girl to the government’s advantage. The imagery of that scene still disturbs me a bit with Sarah extending her arms to be cuffed and Graham saying “No” that he wants her for the CIA. It’s like she is selling her soul to the devil or something. She never got to be anything other than an accomplice to con jobs and then a spy which still involved marks and cons. I think it really just sunk in on the re-watch for me how trapped, hopeless, and isolated (having just cut off ties with her mother) she must have felt before arriving in Burbank. It also puts her comments in Castle in Goodbye in even more perspective given she probably had no hope of recovering any memories at that time.

    • I think it is possible to be benevolent and manipulative at the same time, so it was both a) and b). Sarah reconnected with her mom between the Cougars recruitment and the Molly mission. We know this because Emma was calling Sarah’s cell phone. Graham’s offer might have kept “Jenny” alive and out of prison, but reconnecting with Emma might have done the same thing. So Graham was helping her but also manipulating her into only seeing the choices he wanted.

    • atcDave says:

      I would answer somewhat like Jeff. Graham’s solution was helpful to Sarah but also self serving; or he helped her in a way that also helped himself (brought in good young talent to the agency). We know from a variety of sources that Graham wasn’t a particularly “nice” man, yet he did seem to have at least some concern for Sarah’s well being. Again, it was likely a self serving sort of interest, but it was there nonetheless.

    • joe says:

      I agree with both Jeff and Dave. I’ve always thought that there was more to Graham’s story and maybe even more to Sarah’s origins that directly concerned him. Maybe sometime in season 7 we would have seen more about that.

      I guess we’ll have to wait until the 3rd movie now. 😉

      My suspicion is that Graham was purposefully left morally vague, with potential for being both good and bad. He was perfectly suited to go either way.

    • oldresorter says:

      I think the Graham Sarah backstory is one of those things in the story that not a great deal of time was spent ‘plotting’. At face value, my opinion is Graham was being benevolent, not malevolent, in regards to recruiting Sarah, in a give her a chance sort of way. Also, I think the scene was meant to re-inforce just how natural Sarah was at the whole spy thing.

      One observation about Chuck, with a certain portion of the fan base, nearly every male that interacts with Sarah ‘too’ much is viewed as evil or perverted or a bad character or worse. In that regard, Cole came off remarkably well, and Bryce even OK, but Graham, Shaw, Volkov seemed creepy in his dealings with her, Quinn, and even intersect Morgan in the first ep of season five, Sarah and designated male other than Chuck seemed to get the worst possible reception.

      I think some of this was Chuck / Sarah love, but also I think Yvonne played the role about as vulnerably as an actress could, given her role was often written as a cold blooded assassin, who used seduction as her number one asset. As Chuck said and the writers never really refuted, Sarah’s job boardered on the ‘world’s oldest profession.’ At few points in the series was this vulnerability more evident than when Graham recruited the young teen holding a knife to defend herself. It is one of the many things we can only guess at, be an interesting ? for Fedak. Based on his last podcast interview, I wonder if he even would know the answer, or say something like I’d have to look at my notes from Season 2?

      • joe says:

        Great points, OldResorter. I could easily see that they (Fedak) left a lot undefined and vague just for the sake of convenience. Perhaps at one time they were considering a story where Graham actually saved Chuck and/or Sarah. Even though he ordered Chuck’s termination in season 1 the character was still in a position to change all that, right up until the moment Fulcrum turned him inside out.

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe – oldresorter = jason, the manner in which I can log on seemed to change, for the little I comment these days, I might just leave it alone, otherwise every time I log on, I have to switch it to jason (I use word press for something else as oldresorter). Sorry for the confusion

      • joe says:

        Ack! Sorry! I knew that at one time, Jason.

        Blame it on that dreaded disease, A.G.E. I gave up on having multiple IDs long ago. I couldn’t remember any of ’em! So now I go out into cyberspace every day, uncloaked and unprotected by aliases.

        I would NOT make a good agent. 😉

    • thinkling says:

      I think it was a mix, too. I’ve never liked Graham, though. I fully expected him to have had a hand in the big conspiracy that wasn’t. Whatever his motives, his actions defined Sarah, in that he denied her the opportunity to figure out who she was and to be that person. His question for her, “The question is, who are you?” has been a springboard for much of my Sarah analysis and writing. Graham was the second man who, even if he thought he was helping her, used her for his own purposes and hindered her identity development. Like her father, he handed her a name and told her who to be, who to con.

      The name tag scene in Cougars is one I find very poignant. The registration person asks Sarah if she’s Jenny Burton. She smoothes on the name tag and says, “I am if it says I am.” That’s the way she’s lived her whole life. She had to be whoever her name tag said she was … until Chuck. First he redeemed the name Sarah and made it more than a name tag. Then he gave her a real family name. She is Sarah Bartowski, known and loved for who she is. She is part of a real family, and children and grandchildren will continue to tell her story. I love that. What a story of love and redemption. That’s why the loss of those particular 5 years is so utterly tragic. It still hurts me to the core.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Thanks for all the replies from everyone. In response to your comments Thinkling. I think I had a similar impression. As a woman, I think I found the imagery in that scene even more dark and sinister. While Graham didn’t put cuffs on her physically, he did so metaphorically. Sarah’s father has been hauled away, she is pursued in the woods no less by the man who had her father imprisoned while she is all alone, this same man knows quite a bit about her past, and he basically implies she is in danger and he can “save” her. He is completely in the power position. While Sarah is pretty tough already, she is still basically a 17 year old girl without any adult to advocate on her behalf. I’d go as far to say he came across as a CIA pimp. And while I don’t want to give my story’s plot away, Graham is a significant factor in the conspiracy story that never really materialized in S5. I saw nothing benevolent in his actions whatsoever. The only redeeming factor is that recruiting Sarah led her to Chuck. This was an unintended consequence, however. It makes the presence of Sarah’s spy moral/ethical compass even more remarkable and special. Having said all that, I do understand how his character was written with ambiguity so that his story could be turned whatever direction suited TPTB and can understand how his actions could be interpreted as helpful, but self-serving.

      • atcDave says:

        WW1 I do agree with everything you are saying, but I would add that Graham likely really did save her from a life alone and adrift as a 17 year old. Now I know Sarah does actually have a strong moral compass, and a mom to return to if she were so inclined; but there remains a strong likelihood she would have drifted into the street life of a petty criminal. Graham DID give her a purpose, a home of sorts, and a profession. And for whatever it’s more unsavory aspects were, in the end Sarah was a hero through and through; and as she challenged Chuck in Helicopter she saw what she was doing as heroic too. Although her career caused its own burdens she’ll have to carry, at least a life of crime and criminal record wasn’t among them.

      • ww1, the more I think about this, I’m starting to lean towards selfish, but neither helpful nor sinister. Assuming he was a patriotic CIA director without much conscience (but not involved in a conspiracy), he would always look at people as how he could use them to benefit the country. He wouldn’t care about Sarah. He’d see her as a potential weapon he could use as his enforcer. Somebody in Graham’s (or Beckman’s) position would have no problem using people for the greater good. The fact that he gave Sarah a purpose in serving her country probably made Graham feel good about using someone for a change, even it wasn’t her “best” option.

        Keep in mind that Sarah was not necessarily an innocent. She was often involved in her dad’s schemes. She might have been complicit in the crime her dad was arrested for. If she was 17, not 18, she maybe couldn’t be tried as an adult. But going back to her mom might not have been an option either. It might have been a choice between juvie or the CIA. The deal was made without a lawyer, but it still might have been her best option. At worst, she might have been tried as an adult and have been sent to prison like her dad. All of this is theoretical, because we don’t know the details of what Sarah did other than Salvation Army con jobs and fraudulant cookie sales.

  10. I just realized that Buy More salesperson Bunny has the same name as Sarah’s stuffed dog. Wouldn’t it be so much better if that dog was named “Sam”? I try not to read too much into missed opportunities or unintentional foreshadowing (i.e. it’s a callback, not foreshadowing), but that missed opportunity… *sigh*

    • thinkling says:

      In one of Fedak’s post finale interviews (audio), he said that he considered that possibility (maybe that’s what you’re referring to), even to the point of filming one cut with Sam as the dog’s name. I’m trying to decide whether to incorporate that item into my story. 😉

      • jam says:

        That’s forever canon in my head. :p

      • Yes, I was perfectly happy with Bunny until I heard that interview. Now, I’ve realized Bunny wasn’t even original for the dog. Sounds like a last minute replacement to me.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, Bunny was a cute moment between Molly and Sarah, although Sam would have been a nice gift to a lot of fans. It is a small acknowledgment on his part that he knows about the name furor in the fandom and considered (?) Rectifying it. It’s a bone, of sorts, to the fans.

      • atcDave says:

        Also interesting that he decided NOT to rectify it.

  11. Really enjoyed the article,Joe.Sarah Walker is also my favourite character and it is a tribute to Yvonne Strahovski that the more you watch virtually any episode of Chuck the more you appreciate what a fine actress she has become.

    Both you and those commenting have left little more to say,but on a purely action note I have always loved Yvonne’s professional treatment of the punchbag in both episodes-particularly when kick-boxing!!

    I would also mention that when my wife first watched Wedding Planner I replayed her DeLorean first and she found it greatly enhanced her enjoyment.

    Thinkling-just to mention how much I am also enjoying your first fan fiction story.Please make it 88 chapters instead of the proposed 8!!

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Yoza.

      You’re absolutely right about Yvonne. I’m not sure we can rightly say that her action sequences and the fight sequences are underappreciated by the fans – we love ’em! But it’s easy to let other aspects overshadow that. I mean, I’m still blown away by her e
      xpressiveness and the acting she does without dialog!

      Sheesh. Five years and I’m still gushing!

      I was really tempted to add Wedding Planner and even Baby to this review – we originally called it “Getting To Know Her.” But we’re going to save that for when we (finally) review S5, shortly after the DVDs come out.

    • thinkling says:

      88, Graham? You’re killing me … but in a good way. Thanks. I appreciate it.

      • oldresorter says:

        Thinkling, are you going to quit at 8? I have not published anything yet, but have about 4 written, I have plans for 12-15, or at least I know when and where and how I want to quit, my guess is we might be thinking the same thing if you are looking to do 8????? I did not read your 4th one, as too many of your ideas and mine at least are the same tone, although I think my approach is slightly different, and lord my writing coherence is not up to your stds. I might release my first chapter soon. I’d make several comments about writing if I thought anybody cared, but one for sure I’d make is I have new respect for Fedak when trying to write / story tell, it ain’t that easy, LOL!

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’d all like it if Thinkling continued to write Chuck stories; but I think we can all appreciate the advantages of having a clear story and ending too.

      • thinkling says:

        I’ll have to see how it goes, Jason. I think I can accomplish what I set out to accomplish in the 8 chapters. If major inspiration strikes, who knows. Could always just do a sequel, but I don’t know. It’s really time consuming.

      • BigKev67 says:

        *bites tongue in half swallowing comment about virtues of clear story and ending*

        Oh, and Thinkling….
        Wonderful work on “Finding Herself”. Your episode reviews always have a really strong sense of narratives and themes and ‘getting inside the head’ of the characters, picking up subtleties and context. I’m not at all surprised that your fiction is equally good. You’ve done a fantastic job so far – enjoying it thoroughly!

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks BigKev. It’s nice to see you commenting again. Are you rewatching, too? Feeling better?

        Maybe I’m just not artistic enough, but I do promise a clear story and ending. (One that, in my mind anyway, flows from what we saw on screen.) No doubts or what if’s or maybe’s.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Thanks Thinkling. I’m not rewatching yet – just not in a sufficiently generous or forgiving headspace atm – but I stop by to read what you guys are writing and I’m glad you’re enjoying reliving the journey. And I always enjoy a well written and engaging piece of fanfic!

  12. SarahSam says:

    Thanks for your musings joe. It’s a beautiful beginning to true love and always will be. No effed up conclusion can change it. It’s all interchangeable. Their initial fears were correct. Sarah isn’t good enough for Chuck in the “real” world but in the spy world she’s too good for him. Chuck isn’t good enough for Sarah in the spy world , but in the real world he’s too good. That never changed because each was compromised in a foriegn world from which their life was derailed for reasons known to all of us. So they complete each other in the world in which they are lacking and at the end of the day ,isn’t that what true love is about? Completing each other? It’s a beautiful love story. They certainly couldn’t screw that part up as much as they tried.

    • joe says:

      Hi, SarahSam. Thanks.
      But I’m not exactly sure what you mean – “It’s all interchangeable.” The beginning and end?

      That’s an interesting POV – Sarah isn’t good enough for Chuck in the “real” world and he’s not good enough for her in the spy world. I sorta like the symmetry. It’s hard for me to think of Sarah as “not good enough” in any universe, though. Even in 11 dimensional Hilbert Space. 😉

      It’s funny how the theme run through the show. True; Chuck certainly doesn’t think of himself as “good enough” (Morgan: “Why *wouldn’t* you call this girl?” Chuck: “Because I live on planet Earth, Morgan!”). For her part, Sarah seems to live above planet earth, though. She’s barely a part of it, and knows that all too well (Sarah: “I’m not good at relationships.”).

      Perhaps we’re supposed to get that Chuck helps Sarah find her humanity, which was taken from her by the spy life. Oddly, it looks like can use that same statement for what Sarah does for Chuck, too.

  13. Faith says:


    P.S. ❤ Furr too.

  14. Gord says:

    Joe, well done on your recap.
    Two of my all-time favourite Chuck episodes. I am very discerning in what I consider an all-time favourtie too. I only have about 50 episodes on that list.

    I’ve been going through quite a marathon, and within the past week I managed to get from Wedding planner to Baby (minus the Morgansect episodes). Sarah Walker is the most interesting character that has ever been on TV. A woman that can go from supersweet to vulnerable to badass in about the same time as it takes her Porsche/Lotus to go from 0 to 60.

    I thought it was extremely interesting that after Chuck thought her real name was Jenny, he still called her Sarah at the end of the episode. It fit very well with his line – “I don’t care who you were, because I know who you are”

    When I get through S5 again, which will be within a week, I think I will have a few selected rewatches – put Cougars, Delorean, Wedding Planner and Baby together in one rewatch session.
    I know one thing I really want to do as well is the bookend episodes – Pilot, Helicopter and Tango together with Bullet Train, Vs Sarah and Vs the Goodbye. The big question is will I find a timeslot to watch all of them uninterupted.

    • joe says:

      Oh my, Gord. 50 all time favorites? You are selective!

      Case is point, I’m nearing the high point of S2 (you know what that is, right? 😉 ) and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed – get this – Beefcake.

      Yikes! That was on everyone’s list of most forgettable Chuck episodes ever, and I’m blown away by so much in it, especially the way Cole Barker fails to “get the girl” this time. And Sarah? Wow. Chuck may have misunderstood and let his insecurities get the best of him, briefly, but look out. He’s going nowhere but up. He’s at his lowest and Sarah still chooses him over a bona-fied hero.

      I’m gushing because the story still seems so alive to me after all this time.

      • Gord says:

        I happened to like the Beefcake/Lethal Weapon arc. I think I consider myself a shipper, but I didn’t find either the Jill arc or the Beefcake arc to be out of sync with what was happening with the characters at the time.

        As for being selective, I know someone less discerning might have more than 50 favourites, but what can I say, I’m picky. lol

  15. Faith says:

    Putting this here coz its somewhat relevant lol. Just a heads up: tonight’s Arc (Who Are These People) comprising of Santa Claus, 3D and Best Friend will be delayed until the morning. Sorry for the inconvenience. I take the full blame. We appreciate your patience heh.

    • JC says:

      Faith do you still talk to Alladingenie? If you do could you pass on a message from me? Tell him I get why he wanted Bridget Regan and Tabrett Bethell on Chuck.

  16. Pingback: Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Who Are These People Arc | Chuck This

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