Readers Digest Rewatch: The Defeat of Fulcrum – Pt. I

The Monsoon

you take the road I’ll take the river,
you bring the fire I’ll bring the jewels,
and in the evening underneath the roaring sky,
we will meet and wait and pray for the monsoon

Luisa’s Bones by Crooked Fingers

Scott Bakula as Stephen

Chuck vs. The First Kill begins, like usual for Chuck, at the end of the previous episode (Dream Job). Chuck is watching his father being taken away by Vincent Smith, and Stephen is going willingly. He’s made a bargain with Roark and therefore with Fulcrum – Chuck lives if he “fixes” the Intersect. Orion takes that deal and in one of the most dramatic and memorable scenes ever, Chuck is held back from saving him by – Casey and Sarah, the very people he counted on to help him.

It’s like we need the whole world to be washed away.

Everything’s Different Now

Sarah heard Orion say the words “Maybe I was wrong,” and I’ve wondered since if she understood what he was talking about. What she didn’t hear was the rest of Stephen’s admission and advice to his son, to trust his handlers. We have to ask – Does he?

Chuck’s been different ever since their adventure in the suburbs. He seemed to make a definite decision, one that felt like a punch to the gut; Chuck wasn’t going to move in with Sarah. Instead, he put his relationship with her on hold and threw himself whole-heartedly into something else, something even more important than their problematical future together. He was going to search for Orion and search for his father, and nothing, certainly not the CIA, was going to stop him.

Surprisingly, we saw Chuck hide important information from Sarah, the schematics Orion had given him, hiding them behind his back. You recall that when Sarah discovered his rogue internet search, she was a little upset.

Did I say “a little?” Sarah went ballistic for one very special reason. She wanted his trust. Not like before, when she wanted to protect him. This time she needed him to trust her. In Dream Job and in Predator we saw Sarah trying to prove she was worthy of that trust by helping Chuck find his father, even illegally. Now Fulcrum and Roark had taken him away again, and Chuck’s mission to find Orion, Sarah’s mission to find Chuck’s father and the CIA mission to destroy Fulcrum became one. Big. Monsoon.

But Does He Trust Her?

Obama Guava

Sarah: Fro-yo? It’s time to try our latest flavor, Obama Guava. I didn’t make up the name.

Chuck: Uh… no thanks. Not that I’m not thrilled that the CIA has found a new yogurt recipe. I was just, I don’t know, kind of hoping the CIA would find my father first.

Sarah: The government is doing everything they can to find him.

Chuck: How do I know I can trust them? The government wants to keep the Intersect in my head. My father is the only person who can get it out. It’s not rocket science.

Sarah: Okay, I know that you don’t trust them, but do you trust me?

Chuck answers ‘yeah’ – he trusts her. It’s the CIA he doesn’t trust. [Little voice in the back of my head says – “Hey! Isn’t Sarah CIA?” Shut up, little voice.] Maybe it’s just that Sarah can’t help him right now.

Hello, Chuck.

There is someone who can help Chuck find his father, someone who knows Fulcrum and their facilities. That would be dreaded Jill Roberts, currently in CIA custody. No, Chuck doesn’t dread her. Sarah does, you know. She’s Chuck’s first love, she once tried to hurt him and kill Sarah and all that comes flooding back instantly.

Uncle Bernie

The adventure is hilariously awesome, with Jill and Chuck pretending to be married in order to get the information they need from a family friend, “Uncle Bernie” (Ken Davitian) (aka “The Carnivore”) who had recruited Jill into Fulcrum. They make quite a team until Chuck’s lethal move (“The Morgan”) kills Bernie before they can find out where Orion has been taken. Jill is still useful, though. And despite Sarah’s strenuous objections (“Chuck, you have to realize that there are some people you just cannot trust.”) they go to Fulcrum’s testing facility to rescue Stephen.

The Morgan

That too is a hilarious bust as “The Morgan” claims the life of yet another Fulcrum agent. But one scene stands out from all the great scenes; at the testing facility, after discovering that Stephen has been moved to Blackrock, Chuck sets Jill free. He gives her the expensive, CIA supplied engagement ring so she has some means to escape, and he lets he go.

With that, he lets go of Jill and his past life and has learned to trust his own instincts, even over Sarah’s. Chuck has traveled a little further down the path he started in Predator, when he hid those schematics from Sarah. This time the act costs him everything.

Casey: Permission to drop the twerp into a deep dark hole, General.

Beckman: Granted.

Casey: Huh?

The General orders Casey to detain Chuck and prepare him to be sent to the bunker. She orders Sarah to use Chuck’s trust to bring him back to Castle. In a time-split screen, we hear the orders being given, Sarah arguing with Casey, Morgan saying he trusted the wrong person and Sarah walking into the Buy More to execute the plan. Then we watch her lie.

Did I ever imply that there was a more heart-stopping moment in this show? Maybe I was wrong.

Sarah: [smiling] We have good news.

Chuck: Can it wait? Computer emergency.

Sarah: It’s about your father. We found him.

Chuck: What? How? Where is he?

Sarah: One of our recon teams intercepted his transport as Fulcrum was moving him. He’s back at the Castle. He’s safe, Chuck. It’s all over.

OMG, it’s over! Chuck visibly relaxes, and confesses to Sarah that he had started to think he couldn’t trust her anymore. The CIA was never going to let him go. He apologizes so sincerely for his moment of doubt and thanks her for being the one who was always on his side – it’s heart wrenching. And Sarah’s heart breaks wide open. Then comes my favorite line, first among many.

Sarah: [looks back to the CIA camera watching them, hugs Chuck and whispers] Take off your watch.

Chuck: Why?

Sarah: [Whispers] Because it’s all a lie. Your dad is still out there. Beckman sent me to get you to bring you back to Castle. They’re gonna take you underground. We have to run.

They have to run, this time from the CIA and the only world Sarah has known. Fulcrum? Who are they? In the face of the storm swirling around Chuck and Sarah, Fulcrum is nothing. This is them against the world.

The Squeee Heard ‘Round The World

The Colonel begins where Chuck vs. The First Kill left us, in that most romantic of situations; lovers on the run.

Chuck:You’re committing treason, Sarah. You could go to jail.

Sarah: I know.

With those words we’ve reached an absolutely amazing point in our story. I know you’re all familiar, so I’ll resist retelling every second of it here. But I can’t help but point out one thing.

Everything is different. Chuck’s trust changed Sarah’s mind and changed her life. Now the priorities are different.

But what comes first? Finding Chuck’s father? Keeping Chuck out of the bunker? Fulcrum? Dodging that “cold school killer”, Colonel John Casey? Chuck is more than a little confused about – well, everything. It hardly matters. While Sarah’s brain is methodically and rationally judging their odds of survival, Chuck is wondering about all that and one thing more. Why is Sarah doing this?

“This?” Why has she decided to run away with him, turning against the CIA and her life? Why has she decided that Chuck’s father – Chuck’s mission – is so important? We can wonder all day about what “this” means (and Chuck certainly does) or we can shout out It’s because she loves you, stupid! (and we did).

But “Why are you doing this?” an open ended question. When Chuck finally asks her directly in a dirty motel room east of Barstow, Sarah has an open ended answer, one that satisfies, but only temporarily. “One mission at a time, Chuck.” That’s not going to be the way it goes.

Morning in Barstow

Lots of unasked questions, very few answers. The only truth is that Chuck and Sarah are on the run from the CIA, from Casey, Chuck’s father is in danger and they are tired. It’s time to turn the brains off, because thinking will not help. Not now.

Hand Dancing

For the moment Chuck and Sarah have decided to not think at all, but to simply be. By the morning Sarah is nestled comfortably into Chuck’s embrace. Where in the list of priorities does this fit? We don’t care. Half asleep and half dreaming, Sarah caresses Chuck’s hand and he wakes to caress hers. Let me tell you about holding hands. It’s often the most sincere, truthful and passionate expression of love. It’s almost always the first and the most innocent.

Chuck and Sarah have that moment, their fingers dancing in morning light as Bon Iver plays Creature Fear.

Even if some events in their lives later come close, I’m convinced nothing is more important or more meaningful or has to be. It’s not Sarah who kisses Chuck next, like she did when she thought they were going to die, and it’s not Chuck who initiates like Roan Montgomery demanded. This time, for the first time, they kiss each other with nothing separating them except the entire world, a world that just doesn’t matter.

Neither of them needs or expects tomorrow to come. In one wordless scene, Chuck and Sarah change from innocent children holding hands to desperate lovers, about to see the monsoon sweep everything away. There’s no looking back. The fans would not permit it, and we are very close to the end.

Meanwhile, Back In Burbank

But it’s all about the priorities, and like I said, they’re all different now. Emmett has ruthlessly taken over the Buy More and Morgan was used like a puppet to make that happen. It comes down to submitting to Emmett in order to save everyone’s job. Is Morgan the only one who cares?

Anna asks him one question, though. Why should he care? It’s only the Buy More. Doesn’t he have any larger dreams? Emmett asks him the same question:

Emmett: Do you want to be a loser for the rest of your life?

Morgan: It’s a fine question, Emmett. If you had asked me that this morning, I would probably have said yes. Now, I’m not so sure.

It’s actually a pretty important question, one that Chuck has been facing for a long time now (and we’ll shortly see him decide to be a spy “in order to make a difference”). As she sits in a cell in Castle, Sarah doesn’t know it yet. But it’s she will soon be facing that question, just like Morgan. But not now. We can only say that the ground has shifted under her feet.

In his Readers Digest Review of The Orion Arc, Ernie wrote this: “Sarah is selfless, and not all in a good way. She follows orders, but more than that, she has little sense of self, who she is and what she wants out of life.” So far, that’s been absolutely true, and I can’t agree more. In fact, since before Barstow, Sarah has been in full spy mode, knocking Casey silly with a piece of lumber, battling Fulcrum agents and arguing with Beckman about saving Stephen. She lost the argument, btw.

But look what happens next. Locked in a cell with her, Chuck displays a bit of dark humor, chuckling that this isn’t so bad.

Chuck: Look, for whatever it’s worth, if I have to spend the rest of my days in a dark, windowless room, I can’t think of a better person to spend it with.

Sarah: It’s not really how this works.

Chuck: What? We can’t request a cozy, little, two-bed, two-bath cell?

Sarah: [smiling] Two-bed?

Touché, Chuck. Maybe Sarah isn’t “just a spy” 24/7 after all. Maybe we’ve just seen Sarah find a little bit of that “sense of self” that Ernie wrote about. See? I told you everything was different!

Regardless, that little bit of jail-house humor shows us that the situation is indeed critical, but not serious. In short order Jeff and Lester save Chuck and Sarah, Sarah wallops Casey for the second time, Chuck spills the beans to Devon and Casey tells the rest of Team B about the three mistakes they made. It is, in a word, awesome.

But not so awesome as the guest stars. Both Chevy Chase as Ted Roark (“Can you dig it?!”) and Scott Bakula as Stephen/Orion (“No, you had it right the first time. I’m going to KILL you!”) loom larger than life, especially in the scenes where they interact. Add in Arnold Vosloo as the spy who would not die (“Feel free to use whatever despicable means are in your nature. Eat them if you want.”), Vincent Smith, and Colonel becomes an episode that only the dead can’t appreciate.

Oh! We need one or two more ingredients. Chuck and Sarah are in a very deep hole, after all. It’ll take more than even the super-spies John Casey and Orion to get them out – it’ll take an air strike by the US military. It’ll take Orion finally saving Chuck from the Intersect. In this story all that explosive firepower and all that wizardry is not overkill, because it’ll take that much to bring down Fulcrum.

Fulcrum? We can’t forget about them – they’re at the heart of S2’s last big story arc! But you have to admit, compared to Chuck and Sarah’s awakening, Fulcrum is almost unimportant. Almost.

It's real, Chuck.

The last ingredient is much bigger than Fulcrum. Chuck has the Intersect out of his head, he’s out of the CIA and there’s nothing stopping him from being with Sarah. How does that feel?

It feels great, actually, like everything is finally real.

Say it with me. “It is real, Chuck.” These are words that none of us will forget.

One last, little thing. Roark is still alive. Fulcrum isn’t quite done, yet. Ellie isn’t quite married yet.

To Be Continued! – in Part II, The Defeat of Fulcrum, Rise of The Ring.

– joe


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in Analysis, ChuckMeMondays, No Spoilers, Observations, Re-watch, Season 2. Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Readers Digest Rewatch: The Defeat of Fulcrum – Pt. I

  1. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    I missed Fulcrum after they were gone.

    • joe says:

      Tommy? Brad? Sylvia? What’s not to love? Those guys were great villains.

      • Don’t forget Vincent. Fulcrum was better than the Ring. Even Quinn didn’t like the Ring.

      • joe says:

        I sort of associate Vincent more with The Ring, if only because of the scene where we meet him, in front of that shadowy leadership group.

        I know that Fulcrum is supposed to be a subsidiary of The Ring, so it’s easy for me to see him “assigned” to them. I have a feeling that Roark’s assassination is the point at which The Ring has had enough of Fulcrum’s bungling and takes over the Intersect project (evil division) themselves. And that comes a little after we last see Vincent, of course.

      • I like how you say “when we last see Vincent” not “when he dies”. Because we all know the Mummy can’t really die.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree Shep, somehow Fulcrum seemed vast and frightening, while The Ring never made it past annoying.

      • Gord says:

        I really hoped that we would see Agent Vincent again. Although my absolute favourite villain of the series was Volkoff.

      • Sam Carter says:

        People often forget that it was The Ring who killed Roark, Bryce, Emmett, kidnapped Devon and later Ellie, nearly killed Sarah, blackmailed Casey with his family, killed Orion, built an Intersect of their own, and infiltrated major government agencies. The only kinda lame thing was the way they were defeated, IMO. But then out fav team B. was supposed to be smarter than them by the end, right? Plus this is a comedy at its heart, so you shouldn’t take it too seriously. I think Fulcrum and the Ring were about equal.

      • I think the Ring was definitely more evil, but the individual bad guys in Fulcrum were more fun to root against.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jeff, right from Tommy, Fulcrum was a presence and a fun part of the show. Except for Vincent who may have been playing for both teams, the Ring baddies were boring and forgettable.

  2. ww1posterfan says:

    Mauser gets my vote as the most vile of Fulcrum agents who definitely deserved what he got. Rooker is an excellent bad guy. He was just super creepy in Sea of Love and I’ve never forgotten that.

    • joe says:

      Of course! Mauser. I knew there was at least one Fulcrum agent of note who slipped my mind.

      Sea of Love? I have a notion that I saw that on TV one time (and I see it’s a 1989 movie, which is about the right time frame). About a newlywed couple (and their dog) on a yacht being terrorized by a murderous psychopath? If so, definitely a memorable last scene.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin. Pacino is investigating a serial killer and for awhile it looks like it could be Barkin’s character with whom he has become romantically involved. Rooker ends up being the killer who is an ex of Barkin’s character. It was a pretty good flick. I love Pacino.

    • thinkling says:

      Great job, Joe.

      Yes, Mauser gets my vote for the worst Fulcrum agent. I thought the Ring was pretty lame.

      Volkoff gets my vote for the best villain, or most entertaining. He was sufficiently evil, to be considered a serious bad guy, but sufficiently quirky and fun, not to utterly despise him. TD was great. Quinn gets my vote as the most evil villain of the series. I know it was a different post, ww1, but you said the Sarah mind wipe scene was the most intense ever on Chuck. I totally agree, and for what Quinn did to Sarah, he gets my vote for the most evil.

      • joe says:

        Great villains, Think. I really love all those performances.

        But there was one line uttered by one actor in one episode that I always have to put at the top of my list. It’s Anthony Ruivivar as Tommy, who says in Nemesis (during a brief discussion with Bryce in the elevator) “Awww. Now my feelings are hurt!”

        Cracks me up every time! 😉

  3. I’m looking forward to the Pt. 2, Joe.

    Colonel marks the point where I went from DVD owner and DVR rewatcher to online lurker. I remember the promo:

    It’s the kind of promo that makes everyone forget about the episode that just happened (It was First Kill, wasn’t it?) and talk about the preview instead. I wonder how the fandom would have handled Chuck giving Jill the ring during season 3. But putting in a Barstow scene in the promo had to have tempered the reaction. Maybe some others here remember better. I was new.

    Despite heavy promotion of the hotel room, the episode did not disappoint. I take that as evidence that if a show is good enough, spoilers won’t necessarily ruin it. The show is still rewatchable.

    • joe says:

      I’m not sure what the fan reaction would have been if the order of things (Chuck giving Jill the ring in S3) had been changed, but I know that, as it was, the reaction to those last weeks of S2 was explosive. I’m guessing (in an educated way) that the fan reaction back then saved the show for another season.

      It’s really a topic for an entire post. All those “might have beens” and “should have beens”, and all the machinations that came about because of writer’s strikes and presidential speeches and schedule changes and delayed renewal announcements… it’s almost amazing that it came off at all (much less as incredibly as it did).

      I agree with you about the spoilers. I sorta-kinda tried to avoid them for Chuck, but that was nearly impossible. Usually I discovered that the spoiler was, let’s call it, misleading. Even if there was some truth, it was misleading.

      But sometimes I was disappointed. There was one scene put out for a promo for The Honeymooners, the one that showed Chuck putting a simple band on Sarah’s finger. Of course, at that point in S4, we all wanted them to be eloping, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. What we got was great, but I recall being let down by the idea they weren’t married in 3.15.

      And speaking of which, did anyone catch last nights Castle? The promos and teasers for next week’s finale are doing the same thing to me that the promos for The Honeymooners did.

      • Castle is part of what had me thinking about the impact of the promo for the next episode. No one is talking about zombies. Everyone is talking about a couple quick flashes in the promo. It’s like last night’s episode didn’t happen.

      • joe says:

        Heh. Yeah, Jeff. The zombies were cool and fun (as was the episode), but it was lighthearted, starting with the interactions between Castle and his daughter. It was fun.

        But the impact was in the very brief conversation about Beckett not being ready to process what she remembered. And then, the promo. That was memorable.

        Honestly, it was about 75% of the impact I experienced with Chuck, but it was certainly in that ballpark.

      • atcDave says:

        That is exactly the situation with Colonel previews. I remember it well! We talked for a whole week about “take off your watch” from the episode and “and this…” from the preview; it’s like nothing else even existed.

      • The only two things in Castle this season that have had a Chuck-level impact for me are the Beckettt/Esposito PTSD scene and the entire bank robbery episode. The rest has sometimes felt like 20 episodes of filler between Chuck’s Down River confession and Chuck asking Sarah if she loved him. (The Adam Baldwin episode was fun, but still not near a Chuck-level of fun.) In last night’s episode I found it hard to believe Castle didn’t know Beckett was going to therapy because of her PTSD episodes. A close friend would know that. As much as we like to complain how Charah development was shaped around when they thought finale would be, Castle is worse. If the season had 10 more episodes we would have had to wait 10 more episodes for Beckett to remind Castle she has a wall. Chuck just knew it.

        Castle’s my favorite show still on the air, but it regularly reminds me how much better Chuck was. Chuck’s 11.9 episodes of season 3.0 torture is so much better than Castle’s almost 47. I’m hoping Castle S5 has the lighthearted fun of Chuck’s later seasons, but I’m worried.

      • joe says:

        Ah yes, the “And this!” moment in the promo. Certainly got *my* attention, Dave. 😉

        Jeff, I understand your reaction to Castle this season exactly. I keep watching to see how the relationship progresses, and if it does at all, it’s only by a tiny amount.

        But when they bring in a scene that reveals something (and this season it’s been mostly with Beckett talking to Lt. Warf – uh, her therapist), it always seems major. I’m guessing it’s considered a “tried and true” pace for television dramas, and it reminds me for all the world like the pacing on Bones and even House (in past seasons).

        I don’t watch either (much) anymore, because I just found that pacing too frustrating. Well, almost. I must confess that I’m watching both again for the season and series finales.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I agree with all of that, including Castle being my favorite show still on the air. I do hope Castle S5 doesn’t mirror Chuck S3, Castle’s expiration date on wt/wt has already passed. Agree entirely that its time for more light hearted fun like Chuck S4 & S5.

        One thing struck me as ironic about Adam Baldwin’s guest appearance. It really was great, and Adam was perfect as an anti-Casey. But I think it broke the Castle formula in ways that would be very dangerous to ever repeat; that is, Castle and Beckett were barely together in the whole episode. It very much became a buddy and nostalgia show. I’m guessing there are enough Firefly and Chuck fans watching to really enjoy them doing it once, but I hope they weren’t setting any precedent; I don’t think it would go over well again.

      • Dave, I wonder how many Castle noticed the formula being broken. Limey was the same way, with Castle and Beckett barely together. Heartbreak Hotel (the Atlantic City episode) didn’t work for me for similar reasons.

        The last few episodes have seemed like a very manipulative formula to me. 47 seconds was about Castle getting mad at Beckett for her secret. Limey was told from Beckett’s POV so we would sympathize with her. Headhunters was about “punishing” Castle for misbehaving and was about make Castle sympathetic again. Undead Again was about getting them back together “one last time.”

        A lot of Castle episodes can be shuffled without messing up continuity. I think Cuffed would have been a good episode in place of or after Undead Again. I also think Castle has been in its “season 3.0” for two seasons now. It just distracts the audience with the cases and puts relationships off screen so it’s all easier to stomach.

        Joe, the Worf scenes are effective because they provide a safe confidant for Beckett. Laney is two much of a shipper to be effective. Castle has his family. Chuck had Ellie and Morgan. It was something Sarah didn’t have, which always made her motivations more difficult to understand.

        What I don’t understand is why Worf didn’t pull out the Klingon pain sticks and make Beckett confront her fears sooner. Klingons are really known for their patience.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Everyone talked about WT/WT being a standard writing “formula” in S3 and I didn’t understand the extent of that because I don’t actually watch a huge amount of TV and I didn’t have the context. But Castle? Now I understand what you mean 🙂
        Love the characters and actors on that show and it’s a lot of fun – but man, the formulaic nature of the “misunderstanding/secrets/PLI/get them together sort of in the season finale” cycle is kinda depressing. I don’t much care whether Castle and Beckett get together or not but the writing by numbers thing is close to making me check out.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey Kev welcome aboard! I think the reason why S3 particularly broke my heart was from early S1 I had come to consider the show different and innovative. And then they fell right into the same tired tropes that I’ve despised for 30+ years…

      • joe says:

        Well put, Kev. It’s not the acting or production or even the story that depressing. It’s “by the numbers” aspect that rankles.

        I accept that getting away from The Formula ™ is what separates the great from the good, but along with that is the idea that not every show is going to be great. This is TV, after all. Not Nirvana.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I’m coming to see “ships” on shows as at least as much of a curse as a blessing. The great thing is that a good ship gives you a hook into a show and can be wonderful to watch when written well. Against that is the certain knowledge that the ship comes to consume everything else and organic storytelling pretty much goes out the window. It doesn’t help when you have 22 episode seasons and you know “the issue” will be dragged out precisely that long. I was having a twitter conversation yesterday in which I suggested that US seasons are much too long and have too much padding. The UK model of 10-12 episode seasons presents much tighter stories IMO. My antagonist replied that you miss a lot of great character moments in that case, and he had a point too. Interesting discussion!

      • As much as people dislike/hate season 3.0, we were lucky it wasn’t a full season of misery. That’s one of the “great” things about Chuck. The formula was shorter than Castle, Bones, X-Files, JAG, and most other shows.

      • atcDave says:

        Kev I’m often very cynical about the timing of big character moments on most shows. I like the longer US seasons, but I do wish writers would let the characters, stories and relationship develop more organically with less worry about timing all the big moments for finales and sweeps. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a big story wrap up in November and then have a couple of sweet, fun episodes for the holidays?! or the occasional big happy surprise in March? Especially now that the old commercial television model is essentially broken, there’s less need than ever to follow age old formulas that audiences have been “on to” for 50 years.
        Again, shame on me for concluding too early (S1) that Chuck was a show that could break those old conventions. I guess to some extent it did, with the central couple actually getting together and staying together almost from the half-way point of the show. But then the wt/wt game played to formulaic extremus (hey, you can’t misspell a word when you’re making it up…) in other ways.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        The thing with Castle this season is, if you’ve seen the first episode, the bank episode (really the only decent one) and the upcoming final episode, you’d be all caught up on character growth.

        The Chuck misery arc elements are also all there over the entire season (if handled somewhat better). The biggest difference being they didn’t turn the characters into teenagers for the whole season (Limey being the exception) or throw one under the bus for the sake of the other.

        I have my doubts as to whether or not Caskett will be “together” in S5. The story has a certain Ring / Pink Slip feel about it.

      • ****Speculation Warning**** There’s also a theory floating around that Kate resigns and then does something that gets her arrested… or put into a coma. Those fall in with the Balcony and Last Details storylines.

  4. Rob says:

    Okay, I have to ask the “we’ll never really know” question. In the moment before C&S ran, what would have happened if Chuck hadn’t told Sarah that for a moment he thought that he couldn’t trust her anymore? As you guys have correctly noted, these episodes are all about trust. Does that comment by Chuck prompt Sarah to action, or would she have run away with him either way?

    • garnet says:

      That is really the big question. I have to admit that the pattern of behaviour that Sarah exhibited towards Chuck often left me baffled. This was one of those occasions. Did she really need Chuck’s cue to decide that they had to run? If so, Chuck was right to be worried about trusting her.
      Look at other scenes. She, shortly after the Barstow Motel, tells Chuck that she is leaving with Bryce after the wedding, a moment that seems calculated to provide the maximum hurt (by TPTB at least), and then we find out (indirectly) that she had changed her mind and was not going to leave. If she was so emotionally conflicted about her choices at that point, it makes her appear fickle and although Chuck;s behaviour is not always what we would hope (Lou, Jill, Hannah) at least we see a reasonably rational reason behind it–if he can’t have Sarah, he wants to have a life, and she keeps telling him that she is not for him.
      As an aside, on of the most poigniant lines, in retrospect, is Sarah telling Chuck: “You know one day…you will forget all about me” and in the end it is Sarah that has forgotten about Chuck.

      There are other instances when she is “handling” Chuck, telling him that if he does something, he can have whatever he wants. She knows what he wants, and she knows (at that point) she is not offering it. It seems to be almost deliberately cruel.

      I know that the situation is complicated. She has her job, her orders, and her love, and she is trying to come to terms with them all. Perhaps it is normal for her to question her priorities and change her mind on an apparent whim, but if I have any complaint about the angst, it is that Sarah, who in most respects seems like a no nonsense, together woman, can change her mind on a whim so that the whole show hinges on Chuck telling her he trusts her at exactly the right moment.

    • joe says:

      Great question. If it means anything, Rob & Garnet, I intend to address it in part 2 of this recap (coming soon – promise).

      For now, let me just say that Sarah’s behavior towards Chuck in Colonel and in The Ring (even though it seems so different) seemed to be completely consistent with the Sarah we had in S1 and S2. That girl always waffled. She was clearly in love with Chuck and always pulling back away from that.

      The real problem was that we, the fans, were rooting for them to get together like no one had ever seen before, the show runners were aware of that and the show’s future was uncertain. It looks to me now like they knew Chuck and Sarah had to end up together before the show ended, but there was no way to know when that would be.

    • atcDave says:

      I think there’s simply no way Sarah escorts Chuck all the way back to Castle. She loves him too much, and is too aware of the depth of the betrayal it would be to turn him in. She was outraged when she got the order, and was conflicted during her entire talk with Chuck. If Chuck hadn’t said those magic words in the Buy More, something would have triggered Sarah’s flight response before they made it back to Castle anyway. I think there’s just no way she delivers him into custody.

      • joe says:

        I agree, Dave. It was the right time for that.

        – which is interesting because not too much earlier, near the end of Brokenheart, she chooses to not fight for their future together, but run back to the CIA. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t fight the 49B until she found that Chuck was missing and probably in danger. The time wasn’t right.

        So what happened in between the end of Brokenheart and First Kill? Well, it was mostly Chuck’s determination to save his father (even fighting Sarah to do it) and – his magic words.

        Oh, that I could have been so articulate in my youth! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Joe the other big difference with the 49b is that Sarah wasn’t actively betraying Chuck, she was only leaving him. But I believe even then, she never would have followed through. There is no way she was able to trust his well being to another agent for long, something was sure to come up that would have her racing back to Burbank.

  5. Gord says:

    I always enjoy the recaps in this blog and this one is no exception. Well done Joe.

    The last 6 episodes of S2 were amazing. You mentioned when Sarah asked him if he trusted her during the fro yo seen he responded yeah, but I always sensed a little hesitation in his response and sensed that he was giving her the response she wanted to hear rather than the truth.

    • joe says:

      Thank you so much, Gord. When I write them I always feel like I’m getting carried away, and that I’m just re-hashing things people already know.

      Well, maybe I am, but it’s always been a nice experience to have my words so well received.

      About that “Fro-Yo” scene, I agree. Perhaps, his hesitation also expresses the idea that he has to think about it. Trusting Sarah is a close call for him at that moment.

      Is that message totally re-written for you after Chuck’s speech near the end, when Sarah is actually lying to him? – about to betray him? It’s like a great weight is gone from his shoulders, and he has no trouble trusting her then.

      It’s so ironic that he’s wrong both times, and ultimately, so right.

    • garnet says:

      Makes sense given his speech about trust that caused Sarah to run with him. And can you fault him for wavering in his trust. Sarah is clearly conflicted, and Chuck has fairly good communication/empathic skills in season 2 (at least where Sarah is concerned, and unless the plot calls for poor skills :))

    • atcDave says:

      I always imagine that Chuck is constructing qualifications before he answers Sarah’s trust question. He had just recently seen Sarah’s fundamental conflict of interest back in Predator; so I imagine he’s thinking to himself “with my life, completely. When my interests clash with the agency I’m not so sure…”

      • Rob says:

        I honestly don’t think that Sarah has much conflict when it comes to Chuck. I’d like to think that when pushed, she will do anything in her power with respect to what’s best for him. As Dave said above, I suspect that Sarah would never have taken Chuck back to Castle. I just find it interesting that she didn’t necessarily come to that conclusion on her own, and that she needed a reminder from Chuck.

        I’m inclined to think that Sarah’s conflict is more regarding her own life … in other words, does she accept her feelings and seek a real life with Chuck or stay with the CIA. As we see in Honeymooners, C&S seemed to be under the impression that it had to be only one or the other. One of the real turning points was discovering that they could have both.

      • atcDave says:

        Rob I do agree Sarah was less conflicted than it possibly seemed for a bit in S2; in particular, from late in Predator until the end of First Kill, I think Chuck was more worried about her conflict of interest than he needed to be. But as you suggest, Sarah herself wasn’t sure just how far she would go for Chuck; possibly she wasn’t really sure until Phase Three!

  6. Great write-up,as ever,Joe.On an entirely different tack and with specific reference to Colonel,can we have a round of applause for Ryan McPartlin.Within three quick scenes we have-
    1.Devon’s frat-boy punch on Casey
    2.His complete bewilderment and then excitement at his discovery that Chuck is a spy.
    3.His total inability to handle his mission when confronted with simple questions from Ellie!
    Awesome Ryan!!!

    • joe says:

      Oh yeah! I don’t think I’ve ever given Ryan the praise he deserves.

      On of my favorite Cptn. Awesome scenes is when Chuck tells him (despite Sarah’s admonition Chuck! NO!) that he’s CIA. Ryan goes from confused to “You’re kidding, right?” to “That’s so AWESOME!” in three seconds flat. Great scene.

    • atcDave says:

      Definitely a big part of what makes Colonel an awesome (!!) episode. We often overlook because he gets overshadowed by all the other awesomeness.

  7. Sam Carter says:

    “Yeah Jeff, right from Tommy, Fulcrum was a presence and a fun part of the show. Except for Vincent who may have been playing for both teams, the Ring baddies were boring and forgettable.”

    Well I can hardly remember Tommy or any other baddy from S1. Honestly. I have only seen season 1 once. I like it but I prefer to rewatch season 3 over all the others, it’s a more entertaining for me. I find the Generalissimo, Manoosh, Hugo Panzer, Sidney Price, Colonel Keller, the Ring Director AND especially SHAW a lot of fun to watch. From season 2 I only remember clearly Vincent, Heather and Roark. All the others were just ok.

    • atcDave says:

      Hey you’re allowed to like whatever you want Sam. Goya was the only one of those characters I found particularly interesting, and he was not Ring or even a villain! Shaw was passable as a pure villain late in S3, otherwise I didn’t really enjoy the baddies again until S4.

    • I like the lists, and memory is a funny thing, so here’s a list of villains. I think the S1 independents might be my favorite group, but I didn’t realize that until I listed them. I think the S1 indies and Fulcrum are the most fun, Alexei Volkoff not withstanding. The Ring group is probably the most evil, but the S5 indies are close and the PLIs might exceed them.

      S1 independents: Dr. Zarnow, La Ciudad, Peyman Alahi the Wookie, Ben Lo Pan of Triad, Laszlo Mahnovski, the Icelandic spy, Reardon Paine the gymnast, Lon Kirk, Victor Federov

      S2 independents: Farrokh Bulsara, Sheik Amad, Gavin and his 3D vixens, Smooth Lau and Jason Wang, Dr. Zamir,

      Fulcrum: Lizzie the Pita Girl, Stavros and Yari Demitrios (contracted), Tommy, Colt the imposing guy, Sasha Banacheck, Von Hayes (contracted), Guy Lafleur, Jill Roberts, Leader, Mark Pellegrino’s character, Ned, Mauser, the suburb crew (Silvia, Cliff, Brad), Alexis the torturer, Duncan, Vincint, Ted Roark, Uncle Bernie,

      Ring: Lt. Miles, Javier Cruz, Karl Stromberg, Head of Security Eduardo Garcia, Sydney Price, Hugo Panzer, Henri Lubatti (the guy Shaw burned), Manoosh, Scotty and Matty (contracted), Rafe Gruber (contracted), Neil and Del (from Beard), Colonel Keller, Ring Director, Daniel and Eve Shaw, Casey’s Sensei Ty Bennet, Justin, Dr. Kwambe

      S3 & S4 independents: Elia the “Canadian”, the Turners, Otto Vogel and his tiger, the Belgian, the Thai diplomat, Pierre Melville, Amy, Farima Tazi’s female army, Pichushkin with the suitcase bomb, Daphne the wedding planner, Klug brothers,

      Volkoff: Marco the Russian boxer, Sofia the model, Casey’s old team, Dr. Wheelwright (contracted), Dasha with the mole, Alexei, Vivian, Frost, Heather (contracted), The Gobbler, Generalissimo Goya (customer), Damian the Castle bomber, Riley the lawyer, Jasmine

      S5 independents: Quinn, Decker, Jane the assassin, Mats Zorn, Karl Sneijder the brother, Jean-Claude the Jedi, Roger Bale , the cult leader, Robin Cunnings, the hack-off leader, Kieran Ryker, St. Germaine, Bo Derek

      Other PLI: Lou, Cole, Bryce, Hannah (throw in Shaw and Jill and this is the most evil group

      • atcDave says:

        Fun list! I think I’d actually rate Volkoff and his gang as the most fun, but otherwise agree with your assessment. What a great show, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another that was so colorful, fun and funny so often!

      • joe says:

        Man, that *is* a great list! Jeff, nice job.
        There are names here I don’t remember off-hand. Neil and Del, Scotty and Matty? Gee! I sort of forgot about the 3-D vixens, but it’s cool you listed them.

        I think I’m going to update my xml to include a “type=” attribute on the guest star list. I’ll make it type=friend|villain and a second attribute, affiliation, to essentially outline what you have here.

        Hum… I’d say we *both* should get-a-life, Jeff. 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Good list, but I thought Karl Stromberg was just an independent arms dealer selling to the Ring, otherwise Ring already had the priceless Eve Shaw intel and didn’t need to sell it. (I know, basing this on a logical plot can be a stretch but this one seems pretty cut and dried). Also I think you meant Jack Artman (the Ring poisoner character name in Angel de la Muerte) rather than “Head of Security” (Eduardo Garcia is the actor’s name I believe). The head of security never showed any disloyalty to Goya, so I took him at face value. Also I think Guy Lafleu was an unwitting accomplice and was murdered when he threatened to expose Fulcrum for their plot and for his list of “CIA” contacts, so I’d put him as contracted with an * for unwitting, or omit him from Fulcrum.

        After all, we don’t want to corrupt Joe’s XML database. 😉

      • You’re right it should be Jack Artman. I figured Karl was Ring because he went after Eve’s spy will. But you’re right he could have been an independent contractor, like you said, who killed a Ring agent who had the spy will. So it could be tagged with (supplier).

        We never found out for certain if Eve was evil. (I say she was.) So we don’t know the lineage of the will and its key.

        I figured Guy Lafleu was Fulcrum because that’s the only way he would get the list. He was probably blackmailed into it like Jill. (e.g. They funded him before he knew what they really were. He later found out and created the box with the encrypted list.)

        Unfortunately, I can’t edit to fix these things. 😦

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think they explained Guy’s list as one of “CIA” contacts he was personally keeping. Since as Beckman noted there was no official record of contact by the CIA, those agents must be doubles, or Fulcrum.

        In Karl’s case I thought they mentioned that he planned to sell the “weapon” for 10 million in the briefing, leading me to conclude he was independent. The guy he shot to get it, for some reason, I assumed was another CIA agent trying to recover it based on Carina’s intel, but who (obviously) failed, necessitating Carina pulling Team B into the action. Not sure what lead me to that view.

        That and I think they pretty much identified every Ring agent by their having a Ring phone if I recall.

        Oh, and under S4 independents, don’t forget (the rather forgettable) Augusto Gaez to go along with Amy

        As for editing, membership has it’s privileges. 😉

      • Gord says:

        As for Ring bad guys – we didn’t really get all that many. We had the Director, which I did like, Justin (or was it Jason) the rogue CIA agent that messed with Ellie and Mr. Plywood himself – Shaw.
        Where as with Fulcrum we had a whole slew of baddies for two seasons. I thought the most enjoyable of the bunch were Vincent, Roarke and the naughty neighbour from suburbs (Jenny McCarthy).

  8. Sam Carter says:

    I forgot Jill and Mr Colt, what a funny guy! You forgot Serena (First Class) from your list. She was funny. I didn’t like the villains in season 4 because there weren’t really menacing. The stakes were at the lowest that season. Dalton was fun but too goofy to be taken seriously, IMO. And Quinn was a joke. The actor was not believable in the role at all and his motivations were weak.

    • garnet says:

      I don’t know Sam, I think that in terms of his effect on Chuck and Sarah, Quinn takes the cake for vileness. He told Chuck what he was going to do (take Sarah away from him). and proceeded to do just that; along with having her programmed to kill him. So in one way I think he is the villian of villians! His motivations are perhaps a bit suspect, but a borderline personality who thinks he is going to be the intersect and is thwarted might feel the need to “get back at” those responsible for his “loss”, So I don’t think they did a bad job on this.

      As to whether or not he was believable, I think he was a reasonable choice. He did try to bring a bit of the “looney” that we saw with Ted Roarke, and Volkoff, and it may not have worked quite as well, but I still think he gets full marks for menace.

      • Sam Carter says:

        Full marks for menace? Really? Most of the time he just ran away instead of fighting. This actor also doesn’t fit my idea of a super spy.’ He was too fat, old and had an annoying voice. He was way cartoony and didn’t have the presence. I didn’t like Volkoff, but that man had lots of presence. This charcter/retckon really just came out of nowhere without the proper build up, IMO. To me he’s just annoying and forgettable.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Garnet I found Quinn pretty effective as a baddy too. There were so many great ones on Chuck, from Zarnow to Quinn it was colorful assortment of characters. And certainly what Quinn DID to Chuck and Sarah makes him as vile as any of them, the scene from the end of Bullet Train when Sarah’s memories are stripped away was one of the more intense and painful moments I’ve ever seen on television too. It’s always hard for me to rank order villains, really my favorites are those like Von Hayes or Volkoff who make me laugh while I root against them, you know the real certifiable nut-jobs. But those like Quinn and Decker who are purely evil can be favorites in a different way.

      • What Quinn did to Sarah was evil on a personal level. But he didn’t kill Chuck’s father just for spite or try to take over the government like Shaw did. Other people tried to destroy LA with suitcase nukes and falling satellites, which is far more evil. Quinn’s problem was after Shaw or Volkoff (depending on your personal preference), most of the bad guys had trouble living up to the new standard. Ben Browder was underutilized in Bullet Train, but I wonder if he would have been better as Quinn. He did a great job showing a guy gradually going crazy in the second season of Farscape.

        Speaking of intense scenes on TV, nothing tops the Babylon 5 scene in which G’Kar is whipped 49 times with an electro-whip just so the crazy Emperor Cartagia could hear him scream once. That guy was nuttier than Volkoff. Somebody like that would have been good as Quinn too.

      • garnet says:

        My way of looking at it is that as far as Chuck is concerned Quinn (who is certifiable in his own wimpy way) was the villian who threatened to take the most from Chuck in the nastiest way possible. He turned his WIFE and erased all her memories of him in what I have seen described as a “mind rape”. Now, he appears to be a petulant little boy, but his actions threaten to take away all that Chuck holds dear, leaving him with the knowledge that his wife has no memory of their life together. Even Vivian when she used the Norseman was not as evil as Quinn. He not only figuratively knifed Chuck, he twisted and twisted.

      • joe says:

        Sam, I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t help but think that the running away Quinn did was making him *more* despicable. Ever see the WWE? It’s the one’s who run away who are booed the most. They’re always the bad guys.

        For all that evil, though, Quinn had no personality. Volkoff, Zarnow, La Ciudad, Smooth Lau, Goya, *they* had personality!

  9. Sam Carter says:

    “Sam, I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t help but think that the running away Quinn did was making him *more* despicable.”

    That just makes them crappy and weak to me. To each their own. To me Quinn is easily the weakest big bad in the series.

  10. Sam Carter says:

    I meant, him (not ‘them’) sorry.

  11. Gord says:

    All the talk of Ring Vs Fulrcum for baddies, was nicely handled in the finale when the ex Fulcrum agent talks about the Ring as amateurs.

    I personally thought the Ring Director was an entertaining bad guy, and Shaw was reasonably good as a bad guy, but not as a PLI/Mentor/Ring Expert in the early part of S3.

    For me, Volkoff was the best badguy of the series because he was delightfully evil.

    I was not really impressed with the S5 bad guys. Decker was OK although I think they messed up the whole conspiracy story, and Sarah’s ex-handler (the name escapes me right now) was also a decent bad guy, but everyone else in the bad guy department was sub-par. Especially in the first few episodes, and Quinn in the last 3.

    I don’t know if it was because of the actors playing the parts or the writing of those bad guys, but everyone of them felt just a little off to me.

    • atcDave says:

      Riker was Sarah’s former handler. I agree entire Gord that the whole “vast conspiracy” thing was sort of pooched. Shaw was a pretty anti-climactic reveal, I’m certain at the end of S4 they had something better in mind, but decided (maybe because they only got the 13 episode order to the end) to sell it short. Too bad, I thought Decker was actually better until we learned his strings were being pulled by an inmate. oh brother. To me that was the biggest fail of S5, which for the record I mostly liked.

      I do agree Volkoff was one of the very best. I only hesitate to call him the very best because we had so many wonderful lunatic villains over the course of 5 seasons.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with all of that, Dave. I had such high hopes for the conspiracy. What a great idea to tie all the Intersect story together under a grand conspiracy. And then they flushed it down the Shaw drain … terrible waste of a good idea, not to mention a very disappointing bait and switch. I could go on, but I won’t.

        End of Bullet Train = most intense scene of Chuck, no competition, IMO. Mind rape is a good term … or life rape. And actually he raped both Chuck and Sarah. While I agree that, at least statistically, it seems more evil to plot the destruction of multiple millions with a nuke, what Quinn did is far more malevolent on a personal level.

        To me it would have been so easy to tie Quinn in with a conspiracy. Chuck said the virus thing felt personal, and Quinn was certainly personal in his evil against them. He would have made a very willing puppet for a great Puppet Master.

  12. Gord says:

    A few things I’ve seen in the news lately makes me hopeful that we might see new Chuck episodes some day.

    I was reading that is going to be producing their own movies and TV shows for video streaming. I also read that Netflix is considering bringing back Jericho for their streaming service. They have already signed a deal to revive Arrested Development.

    Who knows in a few years we might get new Chuck episodes or a spinoff on netfilx or

    This might be the future – web streaming services becoming the new TV networks.

    • atcDave says:

      I hope you’re right Gord. I would rather see that than just one or two reunion movies. But I’m not getting my hopes up…

    • Rob says:

      The more we see of that medium the better. In the latest interview with Zac, the biggest stumbling block for a Chuck movie (or something similar) seemed to be the lack of familiarity (on the part of TPTB) with streaming new shows.

      • garnet says:

        I think he was pitching more of a form of “prepaid” episodes. That is, the fans pay up, and they produce an episode. I would take either, but a 6 episode netflix season would be great!

    • thinkling says:

      That gives me reason to hope, not only for Chuck, but for the industry in general.

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