Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Who Are These People Arc

When we last met, we got to know Sarah a bit deeper. Joe’s Reader’s Digest Review of Cougars and Delorean was superb, not just in reflection of two favorites, but also in setting up these next three: Santa Claus, 3D and Best Friend. Let me take a moment and fangirl: SANTA CLAUS! 3D! AND BEST FRIEND! Gah. Okay I’m done. Though 3D likely falls short of top 15 lists, the other two are sure favorites. They’re definitely mine. I often rewatch Best Friend when I’m in need of uplifting and the other two aren’t bad either. So prepare to be heartwarmed, after the jump.

Ernie called this arc “The Who Are These People Arc” (though personally I’m partial to “The Bracelet Arc”). On the surface you might be wondering, huh? “Who Are These People?” It is aptly labeled. These three, illustrates a crisis of identity. Actually I wouldn’t call it a crisis, more like an epiphany. Previously, we learned a lot more about Agent Walker through the “Getting To Know Her Arc (GTKHA),” we got to know more about Chuck’s romantic history with Jill, we even got a taste of Casey’s calm center (anger). We’ve seen how they’ve become the people they are, and we see the incremental growth that comes with falling in love. Now we meet at the precipice.

In both Cougar and Delorean, Chuck showed Sarah something she’s unaccustomed to: a friend. Someone who is there for her, without strings, without lies, and without a cover. In doing so, he made a difference in her life; changed her for the better, much in the same way she has done for him. The Sarah Walker that committed Mauser did so because of her feelings for Chuck, because of how much he has come to mean to her.

Think back to the extraction attempt in the locker room:

Sarah: “There are rules Chuck and we have to follow them.”
Chuck: “I understand that there are rules but when it comes to family and friends, it’s the time to break them.”

Agent Walker is the best the CIA had to offer. Why? Because she can follow rules, she never lets her emotions get in the way, and she always gets the job done, until Chuck. See Chuck taught her more than just what it means to care for someone, by being there for her, by being her friend, he taught her about life and what really matters. In Mauser, she broke the rules, and she did so because Chuck matters, because just moments ago in giving her the bracelet he showed her what she means to him, because she would do anything for him. She would do nothing less than what her heart has told her to do.

This is something real.

There are a handful of scenes that stick with me long past Chuck, obviously the bracelet scene is easily one of the sweetest and most poignant scenes in the entire series, but more than that, what stands out most to me from Santa Claus is the moment when Sarah had to gather herself and fake a smile before hugging him at the end. That scene is powerful. It shows without lines and fanfare what it took for her to commit Mauser and it showed just how much Chuck has come to matter. In some ways it shows the division of the worlds they lived in, but more on that later.

Bryce said it best in Break Up, she’s compromised. We’ve seen her protective instincts, we’ve even seen her show in a myriad of ways just how much she cares about him but it wasn’t until then, it wasn’t until this arc that we come to see just how far she would go to keep him safe. This is of course, just a step; the landslide comes in the next arc when she commits treason to run away with him. Before this we saw her almost execute Longshore to keep Chuck, but that was just an attempt, this is an act. This is the moment when Sarah Walker dropped kicked Agent Walker (metaphorically). This is the moment when the “real girl” began to emerge from her cocoon.

Santa Claus | Sarah: “Trust me Chuck, I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”

A bit on the nose for foreshadowing but it works, and it’s significant.

3D | Chuck: I saw you kill that Fulcrum agent. And when I asked you about it…
Sarah: I lied. Chuck I have to protect you.

What Chuck didn’t realize was Sarah wasn’t just doing her job; she was acting out of love. On first watch I was angrier at Chuck than I was amazed at her growth, well no longer. I’ve come to see things from his perspective but more than that I’m floored at how unapologetic she was, and how in her world of black and white (friend and foes), emerges grays. Chuck taught her that.

Chuck was going through his own existential crisis. Just when he thought he finally understood who Sarah Walker really is (remember what came before: GTKHA), he gets blindsided. Unlike the viewers, Chuck couldn’t see what we see, he couldn’t appreciate the precipice that we saw, he couldn’t glimpse that crisis in identity  in Sarah, he can only react and feel.

Honestly it’s quite a shock to see someone he’s come to care about take a life. Though it’s mostly angst for angst sake, it was still an important event, an illustration of the lines that cannot be crossed and what Chuck himself will have to face much, much later. It also ties into what takes place in Best Friend and the great divide.

Chuck and Sarah still (at this point) live in two different worlds. Hers is more pragmatic, more rational, his…not so much. She inhabits a world of black and white and his is far more colorful. Together they come to embrace the grays.

Best Friend | Chuck: “You don’t get who he is to me.”
Sarah: “No, I get it, he’s your best friend.”
Chuck: “You say that but I don’t think you have a clue what it means.”

And she doesn’t, not yet.

Chuck: “Look Sarah, I don’t have parents. I mean not really. (P.S. Watch Sarah play with the charm bracelet SQUEE!) I don’t talk about it because that’s just the way things are now but it wasn’t always this way. Morgan was there the first day my mom took off. He didn’t say much because honestly what is a fifth grader supposed to say but we sat there and split a cherry cheesecake and played Legend of Zelda all night long. And my dad, well that’s a whole other story but Morgan was there for that too. Morgan is more than just my best friend, he’s my family. Before you got here and long after you’ve gone (if you only knew Chuck! heh), Morgan is my family.”
Sarah: “Last night we failed to learn the contents of the Triad’s container and now we don’t know what kind of drugs or weapons are floating around in the city and while I appreciate your friendship with Morgan, losing sight of that container endangers many people’s best friends. Not just yours, Chuck.”

Though she’s come to learn the things that matter in life, she still struggles through the decisions she has to make/he has to make selfishly. When it’s a question between life and love, which do you choose? It’s clearer when it’s Chuck, less so when it’s everything and everyone else. In this, Sarah Walker would need more than Chuck, she needs his family. We don’t actually see Sarah appreciate Morgan and Ellie until much, much later but again, it builds here. She comes to see the world through his eyes, and want that world for herself.

Best Friend | Sarah: I wanted to apologize, I could have been more sensitive before about your friendship with Morgan. It’s just-it’s difficult, I don’t really have anyone in my life like that who-who cares about me.
Chuck: Yeah, you do.

Don’t underestimate what that moment meant for Sarah and for her growth, her identity, theirs (collectively as a couple). Getting back to those handfuls of moments, here’s another one. Holding hands, almost involuntarily, they both look down and up. Things have definitely changed and they acknowledge it in that moment (which is why it was so awkward for them in Suburbs–continuity!). It’s quite powerful, a powerful moment for Chuck to verbalize caring and for Sarah to hear it and embrace it. She begins to believe, she begins to dream. And she’s not alone.

This is as good as it gets.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how often Chuck would state and repeat what he is not–he is not a spy, he is not in love with Sarah, he is not a hero, he is not this or that–it took her for him to see what he is. “You’re a good guy and you want to help people.” He is not normal; he is and always has been a hero. He was a hero with Ned (side note: as a Pushing Daisies fan, I was tickled pink at having a Ned and Chuck), against Fulcrum, and even at the end of 3D when he found himself joining the team in a mission. Because that is who he is, and he needed her to shine a light on the part of himself he didn’t and couldn’t see. In much the same way, they needed this arc to see what they have come to mean to one another and just how far they were willing to go.

“Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you.”

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About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
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44 Responses to Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Who Are These People Arc

  1. Nice write-up, Faith. As hard has picking a top 10 episode list is (mine has 12), picking the top Charah moments is even harder. The bracelet scene and the Africa scene have to be on any list. I think the Best Friend scene is one of the most important Sarah moments of the entire series. Even though Bryce wasn’t like Chuck, Sarah had had a boyfriend before. But she’d never had a best friend. That moment set up the 49B, the CIA database search, and running to Barstow just as much as the romantic feelings she was developing.

    I love it when shows set up the love interests as best friends before they get involved romantically.

    • Faith says:

      What is significant to me (in hindsight) is that Best Friend doesn’t actually show us much of Chuck being her friend, he showed that a lot previously but what it was really all about was the acknowledgement. You’re right, she’s had relationships but she’s never had a best friend. Cannon tells us she’s had CAT Squad and Carina but they were never there for her for the important things. She certainly couldn’t trust them, anyone. There’s been no one to help her pick up the pieces after her Dad toys with her emotions, no one to celebrate with except the next mission. Until Chuck.

      Definitely set up Suburbs, Broken Heart, et al. Love it.

  2. joe says:

    Beautiful, Faith.

    That final scene – I call it Africa – in Best Friend is one I’m not going to forget soon. But you know what does it for me? It’s exactly the moment you point out, when both of them look down and look up. People wondered about the look on Sarah’s face – a lot – on the boards back then.

    I always thought that Sarah’s non-smile said much about her inner thoughts right then. It was like she was thinking “I love him. What am I going to do now???” But what strikes me now is connected very much to what happens later in S2, after Suburbs and even after Cole Barker. Maybe even as late as Sarah putting her hand on the back of Chuck’s neck to carress him when it looks like Stephen is not where they thought.

    What strikes me is that Sarah is so different from the way she looked earlier, especially through Carina’s eyes. She’s far different from “Mrs. Anderson”, and she’s not Bryce’s partner anymore.

    Remember her? That girl was all “I can *fix* this., and about jet-setting in Cabo with other hotties. That’s not who we see now.

    I have to mention 3-D. That was the one episode that was really beaten up by circumstances – mostly the writer’s strike, but also the Superbowl. It’s weird how they thought they had to spent time and $s on a relatively ineffectual special effect.

    I’m guessing that, in concept at least, the resolution to the Mauser incident was supposed to be the big thing in the episode. On re-watch, it really was more important than I ever thought at the time, but that’s understandable given how late it came and how clipped the whole episode seems.

    What I lost was how devastated Sarah was too. She knew Chuck would react as he did – she knew she was saving his family and friends (and even him, from being bunkered) but at the cost of building a wall between them. And she knew this was happening just when they were both accepting their real relationship. The bracelet was real.

    That idea made 3-D a whole lot more meaningful to me this time around.

    • garnet says:

      I never saw the 3D episode live, but I have to assume that it was the technological version of “stunt casting”.-something to increase interest in the show. If I recall correctly it was the first use of 3D in a regular broadcast, and gave Chuck a bit of publicity.

      • It was supposed to increase interest, but I’m not sure if it did. The total viewers was the 2nd highest behind the premier, primarily due to the SuperBowl carryover effect from the day before. The next episode was two weeks later and out of order because of the Obama speech. It’s ratings were worse than the previous four. The previous episode was weeks ahead so it didn’t promote the 3D, so some viewers might have been turned off by the blurriness. I’m not sure if the Superbowl promoted Chuck directly. They had 3D during the halftime show and I think one lame advertisement. I didn’t even know Chuck was going to do 3D until two days in advance, so I had to rush out and find glasses. 3rd D also did Subway promotion for the first time and had future football hall-of-famer Jerome Bettis as a guest star.

        I think another problem was 3rd D’s plot was not one that could hook new viewers. The Sarah/Mauser fall-out was too dark as an introduction. The underlying tension was so tied to Santa Claus, it would be like starting on the second half of a two parter.

      • joe says:

        I don’t think it was the 1st use of 3D in a regular broadcast, but it was a stunt. Like Jeff said, there was some (one?) promotional stuff done during the Superbowl for Chuck, but IIRC, we were all complaining about NBCs seeming lack of real support.

        The out-of-order stuff with Suburbs and Best Friend was because the Presidential prime-time speech that year put a week’s delay in the airing of Best Friend, which had a Valentine’s Day tie-in at the beginning. They switched the order so that it would still appear near the right day, but then Suburbs got pushed back. It made it look like Chuck’s reticence to have a Valentine’s Day with Sarah came out of angst about Mercer. Worse, it made it look like the relationship was in fine shape when Cole shows up, and it’s not.

        In Suburbs Sarah began to realize that she really liked the idea of a normal life with Chuck, and he knew it. But Sylvia and Brad told him in no uncertain terms that this was a lie all spies were trained to tell. He didn’t exactly buy that, but Sarah realized that the more she bought into that normal life, the less she was able to protect him. She took back the ring because living that life was dangerous and Fulcrum came very, very close to killing Chuck. They were going to get closer.

        And Chuck knew it too. That’s why he tells Ellie that they’re not going to be anything more than what they already are. That’s why, at the beginning of Beefcake he breaks up with Sarah (giving the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech to a knife wielding assassin, you recall).

  3. garnet says:

    3D never gets much love, but as an episode by itself, it has a lot of fun as well as the (partial) resolution of the Mauser incident. My teenagers are still likely to shout ” ‘Ello Cleveland” at odd times, and can do a relatively good “Tyler Martin” . It is not a top 20 favourite of mine, but we do see both truth and consequences. Although I should note that Casey/Sarah continue to protect Chuck from the dark things around him –in 3.1,as far as Chuck is concerned, Millbarge is working for Largemart in Alaska (?). It makes me wonder if Fleming survived and if Tang really is in Hawaii.

    • joe says:

      “Ello, Cleveland!” Heh! You made me laugh, Garnet. The line that still makes me chuckle is Tyler saying “Good show!” to Casey’s tranqs. And who can forget that most realistic looking sky in the men’s room? Not me! 😉

    • Faith says:

      I liked 3D just fine. As stated I think it was an important episode as part of the set to show growth. Plus she wore the bracelet during the lingerie clad nightmare, what’s not to love lol.

      And yeah not telling him about Emmett and lying to him about this, it’s because they live in different worlds. At this stage Chuck’s world is far, far more naive. He said it himself there are parts he doesn’t think he could ever live with (though that was a pointed jab in hindsight).

  4. Well done indeed,Faith!The scenes you highlight were indeed pivotal in the depiction and development of the Charah relationship which came to mean so much to Chuck fans.
    I know not everyone felt comfortable with the cold-blooded killing of Mauser,but its portrayal,to the strains of “Silent Night”,with Yvonne’s conflicting yet resolute facial expressions was something of a “haunting” classic.

  5. Rob says:

    Just a couple of additional thoughts…..I’ve always thought that the placement of music in the series is really powerful. While the actual meaning of Toto’s Africa can be debated, the lyrics fit the plot almost perfectly.
    “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you, It’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do. I bless the rains down in Africa. It’s gonna take some time to do the things we never had.”

    2nd, I agree with you Faith that Sarah is finding it much more difficult to hide her feelings. The scene where she thinks Chuck has blown himself up to save Morgan is extremely telling. Sarah’s reaction is heartbreaking. At that brief moment, she probably now realizes what it would be like to lose someone who she cares about, and now understands how she minimized Chuck’s relationship with Morgan. All part of the growing process.

    • Gord says:

      I agree with you – they did an amazing job with the music. I found the fight/assasination of Mauser with Silent Night extremely haunting and powerful.

      I noticed they used that same version of Silent Night in Santa Suit for the big fight with Shaw. Kind of an interesting juxtaposition in Santa Clause, Chuck is a hostage and Sarah has to save him and in Santa Suit, Sarah is the hostage and Chuck has to save her.

    • Faith says:

      That explosion scene is definitely one of my favorites. Sarah Walker unplugged. She completely broke down, I mean completely. Loved it. We see behind the wall so rarely so in these moments (explosion, bomb in Salami, goodbye in Marlin) it’s exponentially powerful.

  6. Gord says:

    Nicely done Faith,
    I guess I’m among a minority who liked the 3D episode. Not one of my 50 favourites, but still a very enjoyable episode.

    As for Santa Clause, maybe it was just me, but I got the sense in the scene where she shoots Mauser, that she was very conflicted. I always had the sense that even though she was a trained assassin it was not a part of the job that she enjoyed, and perhaps accepted with some reluctance.

    That being said, if you mess with someone that Sarah Walker cares about, nothing is going to save you.

    BTW, I have to ask what is GTKHA?

    • Faith says:

      GTKHA = Getting To Know Her Arc aka the previous rewatch of Cougars and Delorean. It was getting to be a moutful so I had to shorten it.

      Yeah I agree she was conflicted. She was conflicted right before and a whole lot after. But she internalized Chuck’s earlier statement, when it comes to friends and family you break the rules.

      • Gord says:

        Thanks, I was going nuts over that acronym. I was thinking to myself that I knew all the Chuck acronyms there were until you came along with GTKHA. LOL

        As for breaking the rules for family and friends, that really became crystal clear in Colonel, Phase 3 and Vs The Baby. Casey for all his grunts and disparaging remarks was exactly the same way.

  7. garnet says:

    I had written long explanations of my thoughts on the Chuck and Sarah relationship elsewhere, and I agree with most of what you have said. I would like to add that what we are seeing is both a growing relationship and the maturing of Chuck.

    Chuck lives on planet earth, and as much as he would like to pursue a relationship with this woman he idolizes; he knows that it is not to be. A big part of the “early phase” Chuck is his worshiping Sarah (your’re Sarah, you can do anything). This is possibly flattering to Sarah, but it is not the basis of a real, long-term relationship.He needs to see Sarah as a “real”person” as well, at the time, as a “real agent”. 3D offers him a glimpse of what “real agent” means. Best friend gives Sarah a glimpse of what Chuck really has to offer. They complement each other nicely.

    We will see the growth of both characters over the next seasons to a point where they have both gotten to a point where they can see each other flaws and all, and love each other all the more for those faults and flaws.

    • joe says:

      Garnet, can you give us a link to your thoughts? We’d love to see what you wrote.

      You’re absolutely right that Chuck lives on planet earth, but you know, as I re-watch (for the umteenth time), I’m having new thoughts about where Sarah lives.

      I think it might be on earth too.

      Sheesh – I was never so cynical and cold-hearted about this place before, and Sarah certainly lives in a brutal, cold place that has no room for emotions and very little for relationships (relationships other than temporary partner, anyway). It contains a lot of evil and dire threats.

      Chuck was very naive about this place – Sarah’s world – as about as naive as I’ve been about the “real world.” The story looks much more to me now to be about Sarah disabusing him of his simplistic notions as much as it was about Chuck showing her that the world of family and friends – and even love – is every bit as real.

      Pretty subtle stuff.

      • garnet says:

        Sorry joe,I tried to find the comments I remember making over at ChuckTV, but I couldn’t find them.
        They were basically on the theme that Chuck and Sarah were not in a position at Barstow to enter a committed relationship. They might have thought they were, but there was a lot of “baggage” that was in the way. Chuck’s adoration of the “ideal” Sarah, and to an extent Sarah’s love for the “ideal” Chuck need to be tempered by reality. This was before Season 3 , but as an exampIe, what if they had decided they were a couple after Barstow? Imagine the reaction when either of them “failed the other”. For Sarah the shooting of the mole would have still been a big, and likely relationship ending issue. For Chuck he would have still been more like a puppy dog in his love for Sarah ( and Sarah’s thoughts about the sweet innocent Chuck might have been a bit similar ie a more owner/dog relationship rather than 2 mature adults). However much I dislike much of the angst of season 3, I can see that there was a narrative purpose behind it. BOTH had to grow to be able to have a chance of making it worklong-term.

      • joe says:

        Spot on, Garnet. And I agree.

        It’s an odd coincidence that I’ve been lurking in too many blogs that are ostensibly about 20-somethings and their struggles finding love/each other/sex/commitment (you know – the usual stuff). They all say the same thing: it’s a mistake for young men to put young women on a pedestal (and they all do it). It’s a mistake for young women to think they can change or train a young man “for the better” (and they all do it). It’s all generalization, of course. But you’re right – that’s exactly where S1 and even S2 were leading C&S.

        S3 was billed as Chuck becoming a real spy, a comic-book hero. But the truth is that he was learning about the down-side and becoming an adult. We all talked back then about how Sarah was becoming “a real girl”, but the truth was she was learning all her actions actually had consequences in the real world, the one where adults live. Guilt and innocence became very difficult concepts for both of them.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you guys know I totally disagree. Going forward from Barstow the characters and relationship could have been written any number of ways, there was nothing set or required for their growth. Chuck was supposed to be good with people and communications, so just WRITE HIM THAT WAY! And Sarah had consistently been patient, encouraging and loyal; so again, WRITE HER THAT WAY in S3 and it’s not that hard to imagine them dealing with the challenges of Chuck entering the spy life together. I think the decisions made were entertainment decisions, and bad ones at that; there was no manditory process that had to unfold.

      • jam says:

        I’m with Dave on this one. They were both ready based on how they’d been written in the first two seasons.

        What happened during the third season was highly unnecessary. It was based on the writers need to drag the wt/wt on longer, no matter how little that would make sense.

        Heck they didn’t even have to put Chuck and Sarah together quite yet, see fics like “Rogue Spy” or “Chuck & Sarah vs Themselves” for far better scenarios that still had the angst, but did not horribly butcher the characters in the process.

      • garnet says:

        I guess, I’d disagree as I think the point they were at in Barstow was more lust than true love, and they had little that was real to base their relationship on. Sarah was basically acting the part of a girlfriend, and acting can only take you so far. Chuck doesn’t really have a clue about what being a spy entails. So he doesn’t really know Sarah (even if he would like to think he does). And although Sarah wants to be in love, I still think she is at the “I dont’ know what to do about it” phase. As for her being loyal, the writers and producers managed to make her loyalty suspect (at least at the time). How many times/ways did she just about leave? And how did she do it…telling Chuck she is leaving at Ellie’s wedding for example.I get that they were playing with us and prefer that angst to the season 3 angst, But the fact that she was so conflicted that she needed to tell Chuck that she was leaving is telling.The fact she decided to stay hardly redeems that.

        Yes they could have written it differently, but to get from where they were at the end of season 2 to where they ended up in season 5 required a great deal of growth on both sides.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I don’t deny character growth was needed, but the torturous path chosen was not. I think it could have been accomplished in far better ways, what we got had more to do with character assassination than growth. And I disagree completely that Sarah’s loyalty was suspect, she had already chosen Chuck over career on several occasions; the details of what that meant for a relationship still need defining, but bringing that loyalty into question only made her look like an idiot for most of S3. Now of course Chuck still had a naive view of spy life, Chuck’s growth in that area was absolutely a compelling story that needed to be told in S3. But I think the story would have worked far better for a huge number of us (possibly most of us, but that is purely my speculation) if Sarah had worked WITH Chuck all season long as his mentor and guide through that that process. That is basically what she was in the first two season anyway, I think it would have been more true to the character and vastly more satisfying to me if that role had expanded and grown as Chuck got more and more involved with the spy world. It would have been awesome to have Chuck navigate the lies, secrets, and violence of it all with Sarah providing council and being the one thing he knew he could count on in that twisted new world. Even better if Sarah gets her eyes opened at the same time thanks to Chuck’s morally centered world view and out-of-the-box approach to problems. Again, we’d already seen in past seasons that Sarah was often willing to go along with Chuck’s unconventional solutions to problems.

        I guess for me the bottom line is, the story chosen for S3 actually turned Chuck and Sarah both into characters I didn’t recognize and didn’t like for most of that season. I think more linear growth, that is having them continue to act like the people we’d already known for two years while learning and growing through events and their love for each other would have been a far better story for me.
        As Jam mentioned above, several fan fiction writers have done exactly that and come up with stories that would have worked far better for this viewer than what was actually produced.

      • Rob says:

        Dave — I’m inclined to think that both you are Garnet are right. I think that it is logical to conclude that neither Chuck nor Sarah was ready to explore a serious relationship with each other. Both characters had other aspects of their life to explore.

        The problem I have with S3 is that they used Hannah and Shaw as serious relationship partners as part of the growth process. I would have been okay with C&S exploring their relationships with H&S, but not taking it to the level that they did. At that point in the C&S relationship, I think that they needed to know what they would be missing by not being together. But, for TPTB to suggest that either one of those relationships was developing into something serious is absurd to me.

        Unlike others here, I actually don’t have a problem with the Shaw character, or the actor himself. I think that Routh was actually a decent choice for the part. My problem is with the plot line and where they took the characters. It was unnecessary for C&S to take a HUGE step back in their relationship before they could step forward with a real one. The first two seasons had plenty of minor diversions to the relationship, and I would have been okay with a similar path for S3. The writers just took it a step too far.

      • garnet says:

        Please don’t get me wrong, I am not at all a fan of SHAM of HANUCK (in fact Chuck’s behaviour at that point was enough to test my love of the show). Sarah’s response was a little bit easier to understand, but I still hated it. I believe that the deleted scenes make it appear that they were working on an idea that Sarah was leading Shaw on to determine what he was up to….I could have loved that, but what they gave us was a good part of a season that could have been great and damaged the characters almost irreparably. Some have mentioned that a problem with the beach scene is that it doen’t provide enough of a payoff for the anguish that lead up to it. The same could be said for season 3. but al least then we got a great payoff!!

      • atcDave says:

        Rob I also have no problem with Routh, or with many parts of the Shaw character. I think he would have worked fine as a mentor/partner who went bad, that might have even been a very good story.
        But there is no room for any permutation of love triangle in S3 for me. They’d already played that game FOUR times on this show, and going there again had negative entertainment value to me. I would cautiously agree that drawing out the wt/wt for part of S3 could have worked, but categorically not the way they did it. But I say cautiously because I’m really not convinced it could have been made to work at all. Every story has an expiration date by which resolution is required or the manipulation starts to feel forced. This is a problem many shows have to deal with when ratings remain strong but the basic story or conflict is wearing thin (think “Lost”). I really think that for most of us the end of S2 needed to be the end of the wt/wt part of Chuck’s story. Not to say things needed to be easy or perfect, I completely accept that downloading the 2.0 and becoming a professional spy would naturally lead to a whole host of new challenges. But the way this was handled (drawing out wt/wt in general, triangles in particular) was guaranteed to be unacceptable to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I do agree with all of that!

      • JC says:

        How the writers went about telling the story isn’t what we should be talking about but did that story actually grow the characters and move them forward? Whether I agreed with how they got there or the quality of the story, If you asked me at the end of S3 i would have said yes everyone on the show had grown or was going to take the next step. Then we got S4 and S5. Chuck never regained his spine or became the spy we saw in Ring Pt2 again. Sarah fared much better than Chuck during these last two seasons but the character really never opened. We got glimpses of them during those seasons but far too often they were dragged down by the plot and reverted to their S1 and 2 personalities, That’s why I loathe S3 not because of Shaw, Hannah or Red Tests Its because nothing that happened or they went through mattered or stuck, I have no problem watching characters I care about suffer or get dragged through the mud, its when stories mean or change nothing I feel cheated as a fan.

      • Rob says:

        Thanks garnet….I’ll have to go back and look at the deleted scenes.

        Unfortunately, most of the scenes that were kept — (1) Chuck saying he was okay with Sarah dating Shaw; and (2) Sarah being uncomforable rehashing her time in DC with Shaw — lead to the opposite conclusion.

        But, it would be nice to have some other explanation for why the Sarah/Shaw relationship was drawn out so long. At least Chuck/Hannah ended rather quickly.

      • atcDave says:

        As always seems to be the case JC I disagree with pretty much every part of that. No shock we so often had completely opposite reactions to things! I felt the characters and story were mostly diminished by the S3 story and the only good thing I could say for it was they at least ended up where I wanted them to. But it was nearly the complete opposite of growth, I saw mostly character degradation that ended with a narrow escape from both main main characters completely ruining their lives. S4 and S5 were much more satisfying to me. I would agree Sarah’s growth was ultimately more significant and satisfying than Chuck’s, but some of that is because they continued to play Chuck as the comic buffoon at odd intervals throughout the run of the series. I never liked those episodes, but I did prefer them to Chuck the jerk we occasionally saw in S3.

      • Faith says:

        Oh Season 3, you unleash more than what Pandora’s Box is capable of. Heh.

        I’ve hashed, rehashed and in some ways even ranted about my thoughts about season 3. The extent especially? Hardly necessary. I HATE Shaw. There is no ifs or buts about it. BUT one thing keeps on sticking to me.

        There’s a gap between…
        “What happens when it’s not your job?” “One mission at a time, Chuck.”
        “Everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do with my future and the truth is, I don’t have a clue. All I do know is that I want you to be in it.”
        “Listen, I know that you think I’m not that same guy that you met the first day at the Buy More, and you know what, you’re right, okay, you’re right. The guy that I was back then hated himself for not knowing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life or who he wanted to to spend with, but now, finally now I know. I want to be a spy, and I want to be with you.”

        And that to me is why it had to be.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well, much as I hesitate to weigh in, and much as I should be working on the next re-watch post, I’ll say this. Based on the characters they were writing and the genre they were writing in, it was inevitable that Chuck and Sarah’s first attempt at coupledom fail, and that they learn from that. My objection was that we didn’t get to see the reasons for the failure play out, only few short scenes, pretty much a reset button, and then a bit of exposition at the end of the first 13, and we didn’t get crucial information on why the OLI’s seemed an attractive alternative, or, and this is a big one since Shaw’s place in the season became so central, with virtually everything depending on Shaw, why the other OLI’s thought it a good idea to get involved with our heroes.

    • Faith says:

      Back in season 2, Schwedak was quoted in saying that Chuck and Sarah couldn’t be together so long as she’s his handler. Now when I heard that I of course objected, quite loudly but in some ways they were correct. The relationship as it stood couldn’t maintain a lasting relationship. Chuck needed to grow and Sarah needed to be open. Though she’s been open emotionally/vulnerable since the beginning, she has yet to garner the strength to tell him and claim him. As much as I grumble about it, one of the strengths of season 3 was that humanizing aspect of both Chuck and Sarah (we can argue all we want about the extent, but that’s not my point here) allowing them to finally be together. Anyway, I guess my point is, though slit my wrist painful, things had to happen the way they did and we got 2 seasons after the darkness to embrace the sun.

      I also mentioned those two worlds earlier, and that’s exactly what I meant. Chuck needed to shed some naiveté and they needed to find a way to coalesce both worlds into one.

      That said I do think there will always be a sense of idealism between Chuck and Sarah. Chuck will always think that she’s way too good for him, same for Sarah. The difference being that when once that would hold him back (them back), this time they fight to stay together. I think most successful relationships, though realistic still has that sense of idealism in there where you feel like you’re the luckiest guy/gal in the world even though the other feels just like you do.

      • joe says:

        That’s a very astute observation, Faith, that C&S had to be “humanized” after S2. I think you just captured in words something I was feeling, but couldn’t quite articulate.

        I’m not sure I understand the “when” in your last idea – “this time they fight to stay together.” But if you mean post-finale, that’s an idea that’s growing on me, too. C&S gave up so quickly after Prague. Gee – all of S3.0 was about them getting back to where they were in Colonel after giving up in Prague! And when you think about it, after their second first date and after Bryce reappeared too. I can’t help but think that for both of them, giving up is not in the cards.

      • Faith says:

        Joe, in terms of time period, I would categorize “fight to stay together” to be during/post Phase Three. Though they have shown in seasons past that fight (Marlin comes to mind, Colonel, Honeymooners) they never really had to raze Thailand (or any such mountain) to do so. For Chuck, his phase three moment came during the finale; though he didn’t have to fight for her with his muscles, the way she did in Phase Three, he fought for “them” with his heart.

        Edit: Though I suppose you can argue that they’ve been fighting for each other, against one another since the beginning 😀

      • oldresorter says:

        Faith, Interesting what you posted about the end of season 2. I commented back then, that there was an element for me of cringe-worthiness to Barstow from my POV, like watching a student and his teacher in that bed. At the time I made the comment, I had no agenda, it simply was how the scene made me feel. Many objected to my comment two years ago, but what you posted here captures what I was trying to say better than I said it. And as you pointed out, the mismatch feeling of Chuck and Sarah did go away as the story progressed into s3 and beyond. Still, for me, Chuck and Sarah will always be more about the missed opportunity to tell a great story, rather than about the story that was told. But all and all, the five season project was a good one, and one I miss.

  8. ww1posterfan says:

    Faith, thanks for the write up. And, thanks to all the “Chuck This” bloggers who take the time (a precious commodity) to revisit and share their insights and thoughts on this wonderful tale. Sorry, I’ve been away for a few days. Just wanted to put up a few random thoughts centered on Best Friend. Scenes/expressions that caught my eye this time around:

    Anna’s conversation with Sarah-Anna keeps comparing the new guy to Morgan. Sarah emphatically tells her while the new guy looks good on paper, she keeps coming back to Morgan. It sounded like Sarah had some experience with doing just the same thing.

    Chuck and Morgan hiding in the back room. For some reason, Chuck’s line about it being just two friends hiding from a particularly bad beating just made me laugh out loud this time. I also thought the B story in this episode worked really well.

    Sarah’s expression after the explosion has been mentioned previously. I thought Casey looked very emotional as well. Casey even acknowledged Chuck’s persistent selfless, courgeous acts by referring to him as the heroic imbecile. As Faith mentioned, Casey is at a precipice, too, of sorts. His emotional make-up is evolving. Being a former active duty Marine, I loved all the references to “Semper Fi”, as well.

    This epsiode even shows General Beckman letting her “hair” down again, acknowledging even she has friends and a social life.

    “Partnership is trust.” I think Sarah’s expression at the end is also her beginning to acknowledge that someone out there can actually care about Sarah-the woman, not just the spy. She’s beginning to trust Chuck more and more emotionally. A trust that we see some full circle in S5.

    • Faith says:

      Yeah, I admit it’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. It’s nice to revisit old memories and make new friends (so to speak).

      RE: Sarah, yeah I imagine she did. Though the whole “that’s bad, because Morgan is the guy you keep on comparing him to”—I’ve always imagined it as Sarah keeps on comparing Chuck to Bryce. Like in Break Up when she wouldn’t pick up things with him because she couldn’t help but compare Bryce to Chuck (and Bryce of course falls short), and of course Nemesis/Crown Vic.

      And you’re right again, Best Friend is probably one of the few in the early seasons where the Buy Morians worked for me. Jeff’s 50 cent line, laugh out loud funny. All in all, Best Friend was definitely a superb episode all around.

  9. harlock328 says:

    @Faith
    your comment ” For Chuck, his phase three moment came during the finale; though he didn’t have to fight for her with his muscles, the way she did in Phase Three, he fought for “them” with his heart.”

    I really never saw Chuck fight for Sarah like she did. He didn’t nothing for 2 weeks (beginning of 5.13) and had to be push by family to look for her. When he did find her, Morgan had to push him to go on the mission with her. He let’s her leave again just like end of 5.12 and only after Morgan pushes him yet again does he go to her on the beach.

    To me that’s NOT fighting for the one you love but then again, why should I be suprised by Fedak’s writting, since he cares more about dramatic impact than actually making the story make sense.

    • Chuck knew “spy Sarah” well enough that she could be pressured. Being patient and fighting against his instincts was fighting for Sarah. He just lost hope for a little bit after a couple of weeks. Even Sarah needed encouragement from Morgan in Phase 3. Morgan, Devon, and Ellie were doing the same for Chuck at the beginning of Goodbye.

      • harlock328 says:

        fighting for her is not the same is being pressured. Also Morgan never had to push Sarah to look for Chuck.

      • Morgan wasn’t pushing her. But he gave her the pep talk in to tell him how she felt after she found him, like he gave Chuck the pep talk at the fountain in Goodbye. Morgan also accidentally told her about the proposal plan, which is what transformed Sarah from puddle of mess on the bed into Giant Blonde She-male, like Chuck’s family helped motivate him at the beginning of Goodbye.

        It wasn’t exactly the same, because the Morgan/Sarah dynamic is different than the Morgan+Family/Chuck dynamic. The ways the plot turned and the character decision points are similar. It could never be exactly the same because Sarah was skydiving while Chuck was strapped to a chair. Another parallel is how Chuck fought for Sarah his own way in Cliffhanger. Sarah tears up jungles of mercenaries. Chuck walks into a arms dealer headquarters and convinces Sarah’s assassin to change her mind. They have different styles. That’s why the complement each other as spies.

        A little more off topic… Tying in with the “magic” kiss theme, I always liked how the scene at the beginning of Chuck was edited. Chuck decided to stop being patient for Sarah seemed to “magically” wake her up was she was unconscious, falling out of the airplane.

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