Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Defeat of The Ring

Chuck Fans vs. Season 3

I thought I’d start the Readers’ Digest Review this week a little differently. You see, for almost three years now we’ve been shying away from (and almost discouraging) discussion about Season 3, and that’s where I’d like to begin. There was a good reason for shying away: we didn’t like it. We didn’t like The Ring (not as much fun as Fulcrum), Daniel Shaw (nowhere near as charming as Bryce Larkin), we didn’t exactly like the Intersect 2.0 (the writers made it too easy for Chuck to do anything he needed to do) and it was dark – very dark, starting with the assassination of Emmett Milbarge. There were all sorts of technical reasons too, ranging from the pacing to the choice of separating the leads, the use of Jeffster, stuff we could (and did) argue about endlessly. And when you get right down to it, we weren’t exactly sure about Chuck and Sarah any more either.

Huh? What’s that you say? We did not like Chuck and Sarah???

You must think I’ve gone insane (and that would be a good reason for me to shy away from the topic).

I mentioned (and in my last post kept at it until your eyes bled) that everything changed at the end of Season 2. But nothing changed so much as Chuck and Sarah. He went from being a simple nerd wanting a simple, normal life to being a novice James Bond, wanting to do “something really important” with his life. Those aren’t scare quotes: that’s what he said. Then we watched Chuck go from Spy In Training to a bum, and we watched him burn an asset that was exactly like himself, sending a (relatively) nice guy to exactly the fate from which he had begged to be saved. After that, we watched him lie. And lie again. Then he lied some more, to Ellie and Devon, to Morgan, to Hannah and even to himself.

And who’s fault was this? Why, it was Sarah Walker’s, of all people; that’s why I left her off that list. Sarah was no innocent in Chuck’s transformation, and was quite aware of that fact. We saw her encourage Chuck to do this, and discourage him from doing that, and we noticed that each step she took was deliberate. So did she.

But was she sure of herself?

We were in love with the character, but Sarah went from Agent Walker to Sam. We weren’t sure what was going on in her head, because Stephen, and fate itself, interrupted her exactly as she was about to tell us what she wanted. And then she clammed up. All we saw was that Sarah kept asking her friends (especially Casey and Carina, but even Ellie), if they ever thought about living a normal life and we never saw her move in that direction. To the contrary, throughout the first half of Season 3, we watched her lead Chuck away from being normal.

As early as The Ring (Pt. 1) We saw Sarah making a decision to run with Chuck, away from the CIA and away from danger, only to see her second guessing herself later. We saw her struggle with Chuck’s decisions throughout Season 3 and then come to a decision herself about “her type” (again, not scare quotes), which also seemed tentative, confused and the result of second-guesses.

The decisive, determined and intelligent Agent Walker became indecisive, wishy-washy and confused. We watched Sarah confess to the wrong person that she was forgetting who she was, and could only say to ourselves “What is she thinking???

I’m watching Chuck disappear and the further he gets from who he is, the…
…well, the more I want to remember who I am, who I was before all of this.

Yeah, she didn’t know either. Those were good reason to not like either character much, and there was even worse news. The only person who was helping them in those struggles was – (appropriate evil sound effect here) – Daniel Shaw. Intolerable. Forget the Ring. He was the big, evil bad-guy this time around (like we knew that from the first flip of his cigarette lighter), and he was the only one helping Chuck. He was helping Chuck become a spy. He was helping Sarah forget Chuck. Since Chuck was turning into an emotionless killing machine right before Sarah’s eyes (especially when he was on Laudinol), it’s not clear to me that this was a bad thing.

But here’s the punch line. After re-watching Season 3, I have to confess – S3 is on the verge of becoming my favorite.

“I Hope That Your Lies Keep You Warm At Night”

Oh, you betchya. No, I did not enjoy watching Hannah tear Chuck down. I did not enjoy watching Shaw do the same to Sarah. But there is a certain satisfaction in seeing both of them face certain truths about themselves. “Chuck, you are not a nice guy,” Hannah told him, and she was right. “You never seemed like a Sarah.” Shaw said. And if the woman before him was the near-helpless near-waif we saw in Fake Name, he was right too.

But that’s not Chuck, and that’s not Sarah. As I watched, I realized that I was really entertained by Chuck trying to become a spy without losing himself, failing, and discovering that his emotions were the key – that Sarah was his key. Chuck would never be a “skin-covered robot,” not if she was around. I enjoyed watching Sarah struggling to understand that, yes, her emotions for Chuck were dangerous for both of them, but it didn’t have to make her less effective. It only made her more human, just like Chuck. If Graham and the CIA had turned her into a robot, she could be that no longer. Not when Chuck was around.

But wow, that was close. If Sarah’s beating heart made things even more complicated than with Bryce, then it was amazing to know she had a heart that beat for Chuck still, even after seeing him burn an asset and seeing the cold steel in his eyes as he held a man murderously by the throat. After all that, he was still her Chuck, and we got to see them rediscover each other in S3.

I enjoyed even more watching Chuck discover that he had to talk to someone – Morgan, Ellie, Sarah – to be whole. I enjoyed watching Chuck gain skills and be an effective partner for Sarah. I enjoyed Morgan growing up as much as Chuck and I enjoyed Casey starting to reclaim his past. I even liked Jeff and Lester proving their stalking skill were useful! Go figure.

Most of all, I enjoyed Chuck and Sarah discovering life together on a train in France and finding that it was no less complicated than in Burbank.

One Mission At A Time

By the 14th episode of S3, I was a happy fan. And why not? Chuck and Sarah are happy as honeymooners, getting comfortable living together, getting some tutoring on being a spy couple from the best in the business, The Turners, and life is good. Especially for the fans, life is good as we enter into the home stretch of Season 3. There’s only a couple of things…

Chuck’s brain is frying because of the Intersect and Daniel Shaw is about to rise up like a vampire. Cool, huh? Now I finally come to the the final arc of S3, the Defeat of the Ring. And we’ll start with another sore point with the fans.

In Night of the Living Dead, Chuck has neglected to tell Sarah that the good Dr. Dreyfus (Christopher Lloyd) has not exactly declared him hale and hearty. Given Sarah’s reaction to his coming home, I’m not 100% sure I would have said anything at that point either. But the good news is that both Casey and Sarah trust him and his dreams now, enough to know that something’s up, and that something concerns Shaw. But what to do? They have no intel. Who knows Shaw more intimately than The Intersect?

Well, um… Sarah (blush). Oooohhhh – we didn’t really want to know that. Casey’s interrogation of Sarah about the events of Mar 22, when she went off-grid with said Nemesis, was a little uncomfortable for her, not to mention, for Chuck. And the fans. Did we need to go there???

I think now the answer is yes. Yes, we did. You see, we’re near the culmination of the season where Chuck becomes a spy. Look at Chuck in S1 and you’ll notice right away that his biggest obstacle, the thing most standing in his way, isn’t a lack of bravery or skills or even knowledge. It’s naiveté. Now that Sarah knows he’s no longer an innocent about what they do, how do you think she feels about Chuck’s perception of her?

No, Sarah would not want Chuck to be naive about her. And TPTB didn’t want us to be, either. Didn’t they want us to love the character, flaws and all? It’s hard to love an icon set high on a pedestal.

And You Thought Sarah Was Perfect!

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. You see, there’s another character here, who loves Chuck (and Ellie) just as much as Sarah. That’s Stephen. And he’s been summoned because Ellie is concerned and confused about all the weird stuff happening around her (and for “weird stuff”, read, “John Casey”). Ellie’s right to be concerned, and it doesn’t take Stephen, wizard that he is, long to figure out that Chuck is back with the CIA. Oh, he’s the Intersect (again) too. It takes him a little longer to understand that Sarah’s actually in love with Chuck for who he is, but that’s okay. At this point in our story, Chuck can barely believe it himself.

Chuck is still just a little insecure – just a little, and Casey’s interrogation didn’t help. It’s enough so that, as they’re rummaging through Shaw’s apartment looking for clues, Chuck can’t help but chide his girlfriend a bit about a “secret” password to the safe.

And that’s what we have before the Season 3 finale. Like Sarah, Chuck’s not perfect either. He’s still a little insecure, and he’s not quite over telling lies to his father and Ellie about what he does, and to Sarah about his mental health.

Not that his lies get him anywhere. Stephen sees through the lies pretty quickly, and despite the fact that he’s upset about Chuck still working for the CIA (It’s bad business!), Stephen makes a version of “The Governor” for his son – a pacemaker for the brain. That’s a nifty little toy and The Ring wants it. How does The Ring even know where Stephen is when Chuck doesn’t?

[An update to my original: I meant to say too that the CIA didn’t know where Stephen was and Chuck certainly didn’t. So it seems to be beyond the capabilities of ordinary spies to find him. But the Ring is not “ordinary”.]

No, it’s no plot hole. In fact, that’s a little key. That agent, who had been so tentative and wishy-washy, is more than pretty good at her spy-craft. She’s Sarah, and she can do anything, including locating Stephen’s cabin. How does she do that? There’s a major battle with The Intersect vs. about half a dozen Ring Agents. The Intersect wins, of course, but not without Agent Walker’s ax-throwing help. How does she do that? Stephen has to wonder and puts our question into his vernacular.

Does she have an Intersect too?

No, Dad. That’s all her. Hi, sweetie!

Welcome back, Sarah.

And What About Her Better Half?

With Stephen’s governor, Chuck will be fine. No need to trouble Sarah about it, right? Not exactly. Chuck, the living Intersect, almost died in that cabin. It was Sarah who saved him and this time he understood what it meant to be a spy.

[A]ny mission they go on could be their last. For every spy, there’s someone who cares about him. – someone who has to open that box, read that message and mourn their loss.

This is just a little bit of maturation for Chuck that got lost in the excitement of the renewal.

The Subway begins with an “All’s Right With The World” feeling that gives us our favorite Normal Couple doing normal things, like enjoying fresh strawberries at a farmer’s market. Then the Vampire walk back onto the stage, and the flash his voice induces makes Chuck’s head hurt. Mine too.

No, all is not right with the world, but there is some good news in the darkness. Stephen’s finished the governor and Orion (master spy that he is) quickly determines that Chuck is not crazy and that Shaw is alive and kicking. mocking.

I take it back. It’s all bad news. Shaw is mocking Chuck, soon he’ll be mocking Sarah, and before long, Shaw will have convinced everyone in the CIA that he’s infiltrated The Ring, that Chuck’s mind is Swiss cheese and that Sarah has become ineffective as a spy (and as a girlfriend too, I might add). He’ll do that and remind Sarah that Chuck’s been keeping secrets from her, too. General Beckman, who’s under review by the very committee that Shaw holds in the palm of his hand, is a sitting Duck! (Sorry, Ernie. Couldn’t resist!)

It’s satisfying, but Sarah’s sucker-punch to the back of Shaw’s head is an act of supreme frustration.

You Picked A Good One This Time, Walker

Stephen leads Chuck out of his cell, and he reaches a decision point. Chuck can stay and fight (like Sarah wants to) or he can run to keep everyone safe. That’s a decision Stephen’s familiar with, but running, as Obiwan Grimes reminds Chuck, is not the right one for him.

Chuck decides to fight, and with a little help from Ellie (who’s about to discover everything, btw), they find Shaw’s secret base. One of my favorite moments in the entire show is the moment that Shaw, Casey and Sarah discover that Chuck’s made this discovery. Shaw’s reaction? “Damn it!”. Casey’s? “Don’t know when it happened but our boy became a man. Bartowski’s a spy. Picked a good one, Walker. Finally.” Sarah is wordless, and her smile says it all, just the way her fans have come to love.

Chuck makes his move and it costs Stephen his life. It was good that Subway was immediately followed by The Ring Pt. 2, because I couldn’t have waited. Chuck is more than desperate – he’s despondent. Stephen is dead, Sarah, Casey and even the General are captured, and according to Shaw, about to be executed. No one is left to help.

Funny thing. Chuck said those words – “There’s no one left to help.” at the end of Subway, and I think every fan watching said something close to “…except everybody else.” Sure enough, Morgan, Devon and Ellie upset Shaw’s apple cart just enough to start the final ball rolling.

It’s not too much to say that The Ring Pt. 2, watching Chuck’s Perchik character and seeing “the plan” unfold, is just amazing fun – again. Chuck gets his chance to mock Shaw (Mua-ha!) in his own office, reminding the Vampire that his friendly neighborhood nerd-herder is ready to help him with his teleconferencing needs. The fans learned one more thing about Chuck and Stephen – that Chuck had long ago been exposed to an alpha version of the Intersect, and Stephen knew a lot about his son’s abilities.

Chuck was in a difficult position at the end of S3, we know. It wasn’t clear at all that the show was going to be renewed, and more than anything, we the fans needed a happy ending to justify the misery we saw earlier. We got that ending. The unmotivated, game-playing $12 an hour nerd-herder from S1 (who was afraid to meet the girls at his own birthday party) faces down his nemesis and is now a hero in the eyes of the woman he loves. Even more, he recognized the change in him. “I’ve never been so calm in my life.” Chuck said. The spy-game Chuck played in the stacks of Stanford’s library with Bryce was played for real in the Buy More against Shaw, and this time, Chuck won. Sarah, the ruthless spy trained by Graham to be an assassin, was, at same time, someone who cared. Chuck and Sarah lost nothing. They gained everything and had come full circle.

We called this arc “The Defeat of The Ring”, and so it was. But that’s only a small part of the story, because the defeat of Shaw was bigger. Chuck and Sarah’s mastery over their own lives – over themselves – was the biggest victory of all.

There was a little matter of the conflagration. Shaw had planted a few bombs in the Buy More and Stephen had planted a few himself, in the basement of Chuck’s ancestral home. We leave S3 with the Buy More burned to the ground, Jeffster taking the blame (and on the run), and Chuck’s story just beginning.

– joe

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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, Epilogues, Fan Base, Observations, Re-watch, Season 3. Bookmark the permalink.

284 Responses to Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Defeat of The Ring

  1. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    I read 4 lines of your post and came across “Dennis Shaw” at which I laughed so hard it hurt. :DDD

    I know it was likely a freudian slip, but “Dennis Shaw” explain S3 so well.

    • joe says:

      Ooops! Sorry ’bout that, Chief! Updates coming. 😉

      Hey, Shep! I’ll give you extra credit if you can tell me why I unconsciously typed “Dennis” before the name “Shaw”. There actually is a reason (besides senility, that is).

      • atcDave says:

        You made me google it but I KNOW! I KNOW!

      • I remember talking to you about this sometime, Joe, but I can’t remember when. Quinn must have gotten to me.

      • garnet says:

        OK I give up. Are you willing to tell us???

      • joe says:

        Oh, sure, Garnet. But you have to know first that my hometown is Buffalo, NY and I’m still a Bills fan.
        Dennis Shaw was their starting quarterback in 1970 (I think that’s the year), and IIRC, was rookie of the year too. He’s almost forgotten now because of two things: he was followed by Joe Ferguson, who led the Bills for over a decade and because he had an amazing loss of confidence for someone who was very nearly an NFL star. It cost him his career.

        I’ve typed Dennis for Daniel more times than I can tell you, but one got through this afternoon. I can tell that Dave figured it out. 😉

  2. A wonderful recap of the whole story, a necessary journey all too often lost among the bad writing and plot devices. Yes, Hannah and Manoosh were both necessary, flip sides of the same betrayal, except that Hannah was an innocent and we liked her better (at least I did). I don’t think Chuck could have burned her if he hadn’t already burned Manoosh, who at least deserved it.
    One aspect of the discussion that often gets lost is that Shaw starts out a good man, progressively falling from Grace as his obsession mounts (I think I’ve read one fanfic that gives him even that partial credit). By coming back from the dead, Shaw even saves Chuck, since now he’s never killed anyone. Chuck doesn’t want to kill, and Shaw doesn’t want to live.
    This is a season that rewards reviewing.

    • joe says:

      Very true (about Shaw), Marc. And “Hi!”

      The very first time we see Shaw, we only see his hands flipping that cigarette lighter. It always strikes me as a strong indication that he’s not completely balanced in the head from the start.

      TPTB went a long way to make us forget that image, and replace it with the idea that Shaw was a super-spy, trying to do a delicate mission for the team – turn Chuck into a spy without breaking the Intersect. Fans can debate the effectiveness of the set-up (and I, for one, thought it was pretty transparent), but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the misdirections were deliberate. Shaw starts out a good man, even a hero. But he’s got built-in flaws.

      • atcDave says:

        Could have been a very good story. But it couldn’t survive the baggage of the love triangle. They shot themselves in the foot when they took it that direction and for me there’s just no redeeming the story or afflicted episodes from that injury.

      • joe says:

        But can you see that part of it, Dave, if you replace Shaw with Bryce? I don’t think Bryce would have been the physical danger to Chuck that Shaw was, but he would have been a very realistic relationship threat to C&S.

      • I always thought Shaw was a little bit psycho. I wondered why the CIA kept him on active duty, it was so obvious.

      • atcDave says:

        Bryce could have gone all psycho too. But I’m glad he didn’t, I liked that he got the heroic end. But Joe I think Shaw would have actually been more effective and painful as a traitor if the triangle hadn’t been there. They could have built a meaningful friendship, or mentor/student relationship between Chuck and Shaw; and then the betrayal would have actually mattered and hurt. But as soon as they went the triangle route, I think most of us were just rooting for him to be done and gone. I was glad when he turned traitor and Chuck shot him. What a waste, it wouldn’t have been that hard to create a character we liked and cared about. But instead they created a creep who we cheered when he fell.

      • joe says:

        Ooohh – that’s good, Dave. I hadn’t thought of that, but I’m thinking now that Bryce been in S3, it would be exactly his friendship with Chuck that would have been the source of the conflict and pain, and the triangle would have had nothing to do with it. That was a friendship that Shaw just didn’t have and would never have.

        I agree about Bryce not being able to carry off a professional betrayal the way Shaw did with the psycho bit. Clearly, the flavor would have been different.

      • Gord says:

        The thing with Shaw that got me is he never seemed like a superspy to me.

        In his very first episode he leaves one of his teammates (Chuck) in danger – even prevents Casey and Sarah from providing back up.

        Then in First Class, he gives the team false information in the briefing. That might be fine for a training simulation, but for a live mission it can get people killed.

        In Mask, he gets himself into trouble when attempting to steal the mask because he failed to ensure his equipment could handle his weight.

        In Fake Name, when Chuck tells him the bad guys are watching and they have to make it look good he seems more interested in thumping the daylights out of Chuck.

        He was not a super spy, just a psychotic one.

      • authorguy says:

        Very true. He got the rep because they misread his obsession, but it was clear he was basically trying to kill himself, with no thought to others around him.

    • CaptMediocre says:

      I’m afraid that I’m in the camp that by reanimating Shaw (assuming it’s even possible to reanimate an inanimate object) they took away some critical growth for Chuck. What should have been a climatic moment for Chuck was erased.

      Joe, I can see what you are trying to say about Sarah’s S3 story.  Unfortunately I think if you asked 10 different people you would get 10 different answers as to what that story was. Such is life as a plot device.  I know for me, they made me shake my head at my favorite character, maybe not so much by her actions, but by her total lack of any type of action (I’m looking at you Beard). I think Mo Ryan said it best, “Sarah was ill served by S3.”

      Some say the characters became more human in S3 and showed significant growth. Maybe so, but I didn’t see it. But was it necessary to change the characters into the unlikeable high school version of themselves in order to show that growth – apparently so. 

      • joe says:

        We’re a bit more clever than that here, Capt. You only have to ask 5 of us here to get ten different views of the story! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think I’ll agree with every bit of the Captain’s comments. How poorly Sarah was served by S3, and Beard is an excellent example of that, is one of the major failings of that season for me.

    • phaseou812 says:

      “Well I think I’ll agree with every bit of the Captain’s comments. How poorly Sarah was served by S3, and Beard is an excellent example of that, is one of the major failings of that season for me.”

      Dave can you explain to me your train of thought regarding your perception of how poorly Sarah’s character was served based on the “Beard” episode. I have read most all of your comments and I think I understand your major reasoning for not caring much about S3 was some of the moral ambiguities that the writers painted into their story telling. However, I do not remember the “Beard” really having much to do with that, with the exception at the beginning of the show, where Sarah tells Chuck that he can talk to them, in which he flatly denies that as a possible option based off of the current relational dynamics of Sarah/Shaw. But other than that, it seemed like a enjoyable show in which it is about Chuck trying to protect others at all cost, while also getting to get the spy life lie off of his shoulders by being able to tell the truth to his best friend. For me that was a lot of the original good Chuck storytelling . . . the combining of the totally opposite worlds . . . of the spy life . . . with his normal life.

      Regarding Sarah, the only thing I could think of is that it was basically a Chuck/Morgan storyline with all the other characters in this episode having subplots. But for me, Morgan exiting the Castle at the end was always one of those priceless moments in the show . . . as well as Chuck in the end being able to stand up for himself by telling Shaw/CIA that they needed him so he was not simply going to be told what to do.

      • Mel says:

        In ‘Beard’ we have this fake Sarah who only weakly protests when Shaw is about to blow the Castle and Chuck inside it into the air.

        The real Sarah would have pulled a gun on Shaw, and told him there’s no way she’s going to allow that to happen.

      • atcDave says:

        Its the scene with Sarah and Shaw at the Orange Orange when Shaw wants to blow up Castle with Chuck inside. I find Sarah’s reaction to be outrageously and ridiculously understated. Seriously she should have Shaw smacked to the ground with a gun at his head before he makes his phone call. And then to make things worse, she only gets more involved with him after that!!! I’d actually call it a soul destroying episode for Sarah. She was like a broken shadow of herself. So sad I can’t stand to re-watch it. Of course Final Exam is where it gets the most grotesque (still involved with the man who’s manipulating her into destroying Chuck…)

        I’m just so glad S3 isn’t actually canon…

      • atcDave says:

        Ha! you beat me to it Mel. Great minds think alike!

      • jam says:

        “I’m just so glad S3 isn’t actually canon…”

        Hah! No kidding, I think it’s absolutely necessary to ignore a lot of it if you still want to respect the characters and continue watching.

      • 10 seconds later, Sarah would have pulled the gun and Casey would have backed her up. Morgan opened the freezer door first. Not all bombs are stopped at 0:01.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Well okay but for either response . . . that was really not my point. I recognize the differences in Sarah/Casey . . . but simply this . . . the last scene at the end was to present a point of danger in being blown up . . . to a climatic exit out of Castle. So if Sarah would have knocked out Shaw . . . there would not be much of a need for a dramatic exit with guns drawn . . . same story telling with Casey putting the cross hairs on Chuck only to have Sarah knock on the door to change the outcome for climatic purposes. So that is where I disagree that Sarah was being weak . . . she showed her emotions in caring for Chuck immensely in pleading for more time . . . so I think that is reaching to tie that response to Sarah’s overall character deficiencies in the season.

        For me personally in the Casey order to kill, it disturbed me when it first occurred as we were already seeing a change in Casey in which you would have like to thought that he would have never considered based on the feelings he had developed for Chuck’s plight with the Intersect and that he was citizen not an agent or enemy of the state. So for me the best scene would have been for Casey to have the cross-hairs on Chuck . . . only to lower his gun down to his side as he could not complete an unlawful order . . . and then letting Sarah’s knock on the door occur to save him from his dilemma of not completing his assigned task. But again . . . they went with the dramatics of Chuck getting ready to pull the trigger only to have Sarah’s knock to change the outcome.

        Again, Dave, I think I understand some of your previous statements and POV’s regarding the dislike for them to create the different love interests. Cannot arguing with any of that, but it was useful for me to look at that season in its totality as there were a lot of positive outcomes that led us to Honeymooners . . . and thereafter in my book.
        For me to focus on Sarah/Shaw when watching Beard takes away from some of the great moral victories that were accomplished in that episode. As much as you indicated that the show was going down to much of a path of the lead characters making immoral decisions, what about viewing this episode for what it accomplished. You get Chuck, who for the most part, is an honest guy to a fault . . . but is having to live a lie in the spy world and lie to the ones he loves the most. So we get to watch Morgan have the epiphany that he is going to save the day, to Chuck intervening to really save Morgan and the rest of the gang, to an opportunity for Chuck to come clean with his best friend and ask forgiveness for all of the lies told . . . And what does his best friend do . . . he forgives him instantly, as he understands the predicament of his buddy and he praises him for being a hero . . . as Morgan sees the big picture. For me, not only is that a great entertainment moment, it is a teachable one as well . . . in what true friends will do for one another.

        To go completely off subject with this response, I think one of the greatest disservices to the Sarah story is that she had no one over the series to really be able to talk to. Chuck always had points throughout the show where he was able to talk about his feelings, although not always in their entirety or completely truthful, but the viewer could always read and view his train of thought. With Sarah’s character no such person existed. Even in this point of S3 we sort of understand why Chuck has behaved the way he has . . . but unfortunately Sarah’s soundboard moments are with Shaw . . . which is wacky to begin with . . . and just never was affective in their story telling. For the most part, we have to assume, and utilize the great acting abilities of Yvonne’s facial expressions for her side of the emotions. That led to some really dumb conversations with Shaw . . . that left the viewer scratching their head as well as making her look dependent on anyone that would listen. If the writers would have had the brain thought to begin the video logging as a way for her to sound out emotions and what she was thinking would have been an excellent way to achieve this. Not necessarily the S5 stuff . . . but just a format that would allow herself to express why she need to push away from Chuck . . . or why Shaw was safer than ever opening herself up again to be completely vulnerable as she was with her emotions to Chuck.
        Oh well S3 was much better on the second go around as I did not have to wait long to get past the points I did not like, so I actually was able to enjoy much of it . . . and was able to accept some of the weaker points as unwanted necessities to get to the good stuff. So for me eventually it was watching a couple at the opposite spectrums of life trying to meet in the middle with the first part of S3 showing them over compensating for one another in what they thought was important to the other . . . to getting in right in the middle of S3 . . . well sort of . . . all they came together in Honeymooner’s finally but they were still uncertain what the other one truly wanted to make it work.

        Sorry for the rambling but enjoy the conversation regarding the show.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave et al. Though at the time Beard made me feel better because of Chuck’s epiphany but thinking back on it I really dislike that episode. First of all how can you have an epiphany that you “Love Sarah” when you have already said it twice, Ring 1 and Three Words. Maybe Quinn was in Castle that day and took Chuck’s memories too.

        Second that scene where the hotel worker tells Sarah and Shaw what a beautiful couple they make was so obviously bad lazy writing. I mean talk about trying to force us to believe what they were telling us instead of showing us. They were trying to tell us they were a “beautiful couple” but what they showed us was no chemistry, no connection, and no couple. But they had an extra try to tell us what we should be seeing. Talk about god awful forced and contrived writing.

        I think I disliked Sarah more in Beard than any other episode. Her blatant “you can talk to us” when she knows full well what the problem is with Chuck and why he would never talk to her as long as the log is around. Hell they would never allow the log to not be around prior to that scene because god forbid they might actually talk to each other. It was just so pathetic and showed her to not be the bright amazing woman she had always been. Does anyone really think Sarah would ever have told Chuck he could talk to her and Bryce?

        Plus now we get to that horrible scene at the end where she asks Shaw not to kill Chuck and destroy the governments most important asset to save some stupid disks we never hear anything about afterwards “for me”. First Sarah Walker would never ask anyone to do anything “for me”. She is a leader and take charge person. I agree she pulls her gun and drops Shaw in a heartbeat. By being subservient to Shaw she is reducing her role as the CIA’s best Agent and failing in her primary mission to protect the Intersect at all cost. S1 or S2 would kill Shaw, Casey and herself to protect Chuck but here she asks her boyfriend to give him five more minutes of life before he dies “for me”. Where is the Sarah Walker I knew and what have they done with her? Hell Ellie would have done more to save Chuck than Sarah did then. It just added to the destruction of the Sarah character that the stupid LI trapezoid forced on her. Between Fake Name and that moment I hated what they had done to the character I watched the show for.

        Why they were so dead set on making us hate the central characters in season 3 is beyond me. I’ve always wondered what Schwartz meant at Comicon when he said they had learned the lessons of season 3. I’d love to know what he thinks those lessons were. It wasn’t just that Chuck and Sarah should be together because I didn’t think they had to even though I wanted it but they needed to still be the same characters I knew for 2 seasons who had grown so much and had so many great possibilities following “Guys, I know Kung Fu.” What they gave us instead was contrived, forced TV troupe filled storylines of WTWT and relationship geometry and that is not why I invested in the show. I invested because it was different with great characters played by great actors with a unique story I could relate to. What I got instead was like every other mediocre show and the greatness I was expecting simply never happened and the show never fully recovered going forward.

      • jam says:

        “Well okay but for either response . . . that was really not my point. I recognize the differences in Sarah/Casey . . . but simply this . . . the last scene at the end was to present a point of danger in being blown up . . . to a climatic exit out of Castle. So if Sarah would have knocked out Shaw . . . there would not be much of a need for a dramatic exit with guns drawn”

        Um, so are you saying it was OK to humiliate Sarah just so that we could get that scene where Morgan and Chuck exit the Castle?

        Good writers don’t make characters do stupid things just to get a dramatic scene. Drama could have been achieved without making Sarah look pathetic.

      • phaseou812 says:

        “Um, so are you saying it was OK to humiliate Sarah just so that we could get that scene where Morgan and Chuck exit the Castle?”

        Um, no . . . I am not saying she was humiliated to begin with or she did something stupid or pathetic in the scene period. That is obviously your opinion of her actions . . . I did not need her to pull out a gun to shoot Shaw to make her stronger as a character.

      • “I did not need her to pull out a gun to shoot Shaw to make her stronger as a character.”

        Thanks, Phase.

        I don’t think a character has to always be strong to be a strong character. I think a character doesn’t have to always do what everyone in the audience wants to be a good character. I think when confronted with confusing emotions the character is not used to, it’s ok to pause. I think it’s ok if the audience’s favorite character has flaws, makes mistakes, and is not perfect.

        But that’s just what I think. I’m in the S3.0-could-have-been-better-but-still-really-like-it-and-it-was-better-than-anything-else-I-saw camp, so what do I know?

      • atcDave says:

        Phaseou you do bring up some good points and make some good comparisons. I would agree Beard is an awesome episode for Morgan, and the Chuck/Morgan relationship. I actually even enjoy it from that perspective. But this sort of started with you asking why I thought it was a bad episode for Sarah. Sarah is the most important character on the show to me, so even though I see other aspects and issues, they don’t carry the same emotional weight. I’m never going to get so excited over Casey’s moral choices as I do Sarah’s, or Chuck’s. But I do agree Casey should have rejected his illegal order in First Date. I would of thought for more highly of him if he had. In fact, I’d say it wasn’t until late S2 that I came to like Casey at all. I saw him purely as an amoral thug for a long time, possibly until Colonel, which was the first time we saw him take initiative for what was right when it conflicted with orders. I’ve also made the comment a few times that S3 was very good for Casey; I think that character grew more than either Chuck or Sarah and was more likable than either of them for a big part of the season. But I say that as an expression of disappointment more than anything; I wasn’t actually watching the show for Casey, I wanted to see something better from Chuck and Sarah.
        Now you know I’m mostly kidding about wanting to see Sarah blow Shaw away in Beard (and I never said anything about her shooting him, only drawing on him like in Operation Awesome). But I absolutely wanted to see a stronger response from her than what we saw in that episode. In the middle of S3, the great Sarah Walker was reduced to a fragile little girl. I DID NOT LIKE seeing that at all. Her heroics and fearlessness were my favorite part of the show; but its like those earrings from Shaw were made of Kryptonite or something. She was uninspiring for too long that season.

        I do have to repeat here that I accept there was going to be some real drama as Chuck became a spy and Sarah tried to fit into a normal a life. At least I thought there would be. Instead they punted with a standard TV love triangle that drew all attention away from whatever real story there might have been to tell. And for the record; two love triangles does make a story unique or interesting, it makes things geometrically worse.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Thanks Dave your explanation gives me a better understanding of what drives your perspective.

      • uplink2 says:

        Jeff, here is where I have issue with that statement. What was the confusing emotion Sarah was faced with here? Chuck, the Intersect’s life was being threatened. He was about to be killed and she had faced that situation countless times. Yet here she did nothing to save him but plead like a little girl asking for her daddy not to send her dog off to doggie heaven. She was failing her “prime directive” of protecting The Intersect. Just because she sees him as changing doesn’t mean her primary role for the past 3 years had changed. Strong characters don’t have to always be strong to be great characters but they shouldn’t be pathetic just to create a dramatic entrance. How does pulling her gun on Shaw make that less dramatic? It heightens the drama for me and shows why they are such a great team. Sarah protecting Chuck and Chuck finding the unique solution to the problem. But here Casey is trying to save Chuck, Shaw wants to kill him and Sarah basically does nothing but whine like a little girl. It was further character assassination to create false contrived drama and that was the mantra of season 3. Who cares what you do to the characters as long as we extend WTWT until episode 13 because the fans will just forgive it all once we put them together. Too bad the fans of the show were a lot smarter than that. It was never about the destination for me, the journey getting there sucked big time and the greatness this show was once capable of never recovered because of it.

      • One other thought… While it would have been very satisfying as a viewer for Sarah to pull a gun on Shaw (or anyone to pull a gun on him at any time), the more I think about it, it really wouldn’t have been in character. Shaw and Sarah were starting some kind of relationship. Shaw probably would have called anyway figuring it was a bluff. He knew Sarah followed orders and after the Sam reveal was vulnerable enough to not pull the trigger. Sarah’s best bet actually might have been the impassioned plea. Sarah was good at manipulating people.

        Casey is the one who should have pulled a gun. Shaw would have been scared of a Marine Colonel who openly did not like him and who could say he was trying to protect civilians in the Buy More. Sarah was using her best strategy. Casey should have used his and then gone to get a sandwich.

        The truth is the only way anyone would have pulled a gun is if the initial episode order was nine.

        A bigger deal for me in that episode was the fact that no one acknowledged why Chuck didn’t flash on the mission at the beginning of the episode. Why would the Intersect have data about a recent Ring diversion plot? Of course he wouldn’t flash on bad intel.

      • “What was the confusing emotion Sarah was faced with here?”
        Pulling a gun on her boss and boyfriend.
        “doesn’t mean her primary role for the past 3 years had changed.”
        No, that changed when Chuck download the Intersect 2.0 and was sent to Prague without her as a bodyguard. She was on unrelated missions for several months. Her role was clearly changed again in the first two episodes of season 3. She was supposed to train him, not protect him. She had trouble keeping herself from protecting him, which was another part of her confusion.

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah’s continuing involvement with Shaw after the incident is an even bigger deal than her pleading. And she escalated involvement again after the red test. Ugh, what a moron.

      • jam says:

        “Um, no . . . I am not saying she was humiliated to begin with or she did something stupid or pathetic in the scene period. That is obviously your opinion of her actions . . . I did not need her to pull out a gun to shoot Shaw to make her stronger as a character.”

        She didn’t necessarily have to pull out a gun, but a stronger reaction was needed.

        Anyway, your previous post kinda implied that Sarah’s non-reaction was OK because it lead to a dramatic scene where Morgan and Chuck escape the Castle at the last moment.

        To me, that’s just bad writing. Good writers think how the characters would act, and then whatever happens is a result of that. Bad writers bend the characters to do things they shouldn’t do to get to the result they want.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Understand Jam . . . I guess it just never jumped out to me in that scene that it was a weak response on her behalf to begin with . . . So that was my perspective regarding. I understand what others have said regarding chachter issues . . . I did see a lot of those out of chachter issues in other parts of the season . . . I guess just not there. So I guess from my perspective I was enjoying the Beard overall so I did not give much thought into that verbals exchange . . . Really only what resulted thereafter with Morgan’s triumphed exit of Castle to the other team members bewilderment.

      • Quite right. The story and the plot should always flow from the character’s own internal logic. Sarah was ready to pull a gun on Longshore, so that response would have been appropriate here as well. Longshore was just going to take Chuck away, not blow him up. And the idea of blowing up a base that apparently extended for a great distance under a shopping center filled with people also makes no sense to me. Why not have canisters of knockout or poison gas?

      • uplink2 says:

        So because of that it’s ok to let him be blown up for some stupid disks that never appear again? Really? The Intersect was more important than those disks, Castle, Sarah, Shaw and Casey combined and yet she was willing to let him die because she couldn’t pull her gun on her boss/boyfriend. That boss/boyfriend who was about to commit treason by destroying the countries greatest weapon against the Ring. Sorry not buying it. It was character assassination to create the dramatic entrance. The agent who would let that happen should have been reprimanded and removed from the team if they thought Shaw’s orders superseded the need to protect the countries greatest asset. It was a pathetic response from her and when I hated the character I watch the show for most.

      • No surprise that S3.0 arguments inevitable become slam-the-writers fests. However the degree of the reaction is the director’s (ZL in this episode) and actor’s responsibilities. So who’s more at fault?

        Dave, thank goodness they didn’t show the Sarah/Shaw make-up scene. I’d rather that be left off screen. Maybe that’s why their relationship was different. She started conning him into pampering her because she was mad about Shaw’s plan. I don’t care if that’s what happened. I’m just glad I didn’t have to see it.

      • uplink2 says:

        But the Director can’t change the script to have her pull her gun instead of whine like a little girl. That was entirely the fault of the writers. The Director’s job was to do the best he could with the crap as written.

      • The director can’t make her pull a gun in a viewer satisfying but out of character way. He also couldn’t make Casey pull a gun in a completely in character way. Sarah’s dilalogue was in the script, but I doubt “whine like a little girl” was there. That was Zac and Yvonne. Although, Sarah as a little girl was very adept at manipulation and getting what she wanted.

      • jam says:

        To quote ZL: “I’d love to direct more, but I don’t know that I’d want to go and direct television, so much. Television directing is a very interesting job. It’s a writer’s medium, so you end up being a traffic cop, of sorts. You’re taking what they want, and then you go and apply that to the actors, and then the actors say, “Well, I don’t know how I feel about that,” so then you have to take that back to the writers. ”

        I never had major complaints about the actors (apart from Routh having the charisma of a block of wood) or the directors (the dinner scene in “Leftovers” directed by ZL always cracks me up) so the blame falls on the writers. 🙂

      • JC says:

        That scene in Beard isn’t the problem its the episodes that follow. The very next episode is Tic Tac which has Sarah going off the reservation to save Casey and then Am Hero where she’s willing to go on a suicide mission to save Shaw. Comparing those actions to asking for five more minutes makes her character look bad.

      • Thanks, jam, for getting the point I was trying to make while intentionally not say it. The blame falls to the writers, but the show was a collaboration between actors, directors, editors, writers, directors of photography, and many others. The scene would feel very different if Tim Jones wrote a different score. That score might have made the scene work better. Or the music director could have stepped in an picked a song with just the right lyrics and tone.

        That scene didn’t work as well as it should have for a lot of different reasons. One was because the audience hated Shaw more than was intended. (Blame this on Beard being filmed before a single Shaw episode aired, meaning everyone inside the production bubble had bad judgement: casting directors, producers, writers, actors… everyone). Another was because Sarah and Casey were handcuffed from taking actions that would undermine what they were going to do in the arc. (Blame this one on the entire writing staff.) One reason may have been poor execution in intonation that made Sarah look and sound whiny. (That’s the actors, director, and ADR supervisor).

        Me… I’ll blame everyone for some great Buy Moran scenes, funny scenes of the Captain reclaiming his awesomeness, Chuck getting his mojo back, Casey siding with the 99% before he knew they were against everything he stands for, Jeff saving the spy world again, Morgan discovering the secret, a great Ring phone tease for the next episode, a good fight sequence, Morgan doing the Ewok stick-poking move, Morgan getting Chuck to be honest, having Morgan react is exactly the correct fashion, and probably a few other good moments I’m missing.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff it is true there are a lot of little things that go into setting the mood of a scene, and its possible some fairly small changes could have removed much of the distaste I feel for it. The biggest problem is that so many of these little things add up. The total screen time of things that stick in my craw about S3 is actually not that much, probably less than two or three minutes average per episode in the front arc. But that little screen time was overwhelming to me. Even though I know all the moments that went well, and the things you mention that were good about Beard can still bring a smile to my face; but the things that went wrong just depress or anger me. Its the whole course of S3 that I just can’t stomach. Its not that there wasn’t anything good about it, its just that the bad was specifically hurtful to my favorite part of the show.
        It would be like substituting ketchup for pizza sauce on a Giordano’s pizza. Sure it might be a small percentage, by weight, of the total product. But it will completely ruin the pizza. That’s season three on a pizza crust for me.

      • That’s your problem, Dave. Gino’s East is better than Giordano’s overall, and Nancy’s Pizza has better sauce. The right pizza makes S3.0 just enough better.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Barone’s is my favorite. But I figured Giordano’s had better name recognition.

      • Bombing Castle would be crazy. So is bombing a random Ring target in LA without checking for possible collateral losses. So would having the ability to freeze Castle. So is the capability of taking over a commercial airplane like a drone. I wouldn’t trust the security of either the freezing or the airplane take-over. Some Die Hard-reject computer hacker could beat the system. This is a “Rule of Cool” thing because having a base self destruct sounds cooler than having to call in an air strike. It’s also less likely to injure people in the shopping center and more likely to be brushed off as an earthquake. I agree poison might be more practical, but it doesn’t sound as cool as a base self destruct. It was typical over-the-top spy nonsense.

        Longshore is not a good analogy. He was a random agent that would only know Sarah by reputation, so pulling a gun might work as a bluff. Shaw would know better. On the rooftop, she never actually pulled a gun on Longshore. From a practical standpoint, it was dark and she was far enough away that she could make the move for a gun without necessarily tipping him off. In the OO, Shaw would see her move and could stop her. He was close enough to disarm her if she tried it. On the roof she asked for only one more minute when the helicopter wasn’t even there, there was no known immediate threat, and their superiors could have been called (which they never did). As a partial consequence for her actions, Longshore was killed. In the OO, she asked for five more minutes while the Ring was presumable in the process of stealing national secrets, and Chuck was unreachable and presumable dead. On the roof, she had resigned herself to letting Longshore take Chuck. In the OO, Shaw hadn’t actually called in the self destruct yet. There was still time. On the roof, she had no backup. In the OO, why wasn’t Casey pulling a gun? He was in better position. S1 Sarah was more likely to pull a gun to solve problems. She was Graham’s favorite so he’d clean up her messes. S3 Sarah was learning from Chuck to talk through problems and wasn’t sure she wanted to be a spy any more. S1 Sarah probably thought if she did shoot Longshore, Chuck would run with her. S3 Sarah was convinced Chuck would not and so close to Hannah wasn’t sure if he loved her anymore.

        Sarah’s actions make complete sense based on the circumstances and her character development. Having her pull a gun would have been more satisfy, but having people pull guns on Shaw in broad daylight for no apparent reason would also be satisfying. Having Shaw point a gun at himself would be satisfying. But look at what happened when Chuck threw a convenient letter opener at Shaw in Subway. It wouldn’t have ended well for Sarah. They already had to break Casey out of lock-up in the next episode, so it’s just as well.

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’re getting way too distracted by the specific pulling a gun thing, sorry I brought it up. The point is, Sarah’s response seemed weak and inadequate. She could have kicked him in the head or thrown him in a wood chipper for all I care. And of course as it worked out, the five minutes she bought was enough. But the problem is it seemed pathetically weak from our woman of action. And it seems a safe bet that whatever she did, Casey would have backed her up just like he did in Operation Awesome.
        And I’ll say again, Sarah’s weak response is just the tip of the iceberg. She seems weak, broken and defeated; she not only is reduced to pleading with Shaw, BUT SHE CONTINUES TO BE INVOLVED WITH HIM. Final Exam is where this idiocy reaches its climax, Shaw clearly manipulates Sarah into manipulating Chuck, and she still remains with Shaw. This is the height of character assassination. At that point, Sarah truly becomes a horrible person. It is rock bottom for her.
        Of course that was likely the point. But it was a point pushed WAY too far. The situation became grotesque. I can’t stand watching shows or characterizations like that. It scores absolute zero on the entertainment meter for me.

      • thinkling says:

        Wood chipper, Dave? Too funny. I guess it’s a fitting end for a 2×4. All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men couldn’t put woody together again.

        Sorry. Couldn’t resist. No offense meant to the actual person.

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling I do feel bad about the treatment Routh often gets in this. I was just having fun and I really have nothing against the man. I don’t even place much blame on him for my complaints about Shaw, I just don’t believe the performance was that big an issue in my dislike. I really think 90+% of the blame falls back on the writers. It is the concept and story I dislike far more than the performance.

      • thinkling says:

        Agreed Dave. I have nothing against Routh. That’s why I would’ve loved to see him as a really likable mentor/friend, who perhaps felt, but ignored, his attraction to Sarah … a high-road kind of guy. Then, like we’ve said, he would have made a tragic villain that we could mourn as well as hate. So, yeah, I don’t usually pile on, but it struck me as funny.

      • atcDave says:

        Back when they were using the term “PLI” to describe Routh’s role (summer/fall 2009) I’d had an idea that I still think could have been a lot of fun. If Chuck and Sarah were actually in a relationship and having to keep things discrete since Chuck wasn’t actually an agent yet, I could imagine Shaw being in hot pursuit of Agent Walker. And of course, Sarah having to find new and creative ways of putting him off while keeping her relationship with Chuck secret. I think that could have added some much needed levity into the many serious issues that needed to be explored that season.
        And also, if Shaw was never a serious threat to Chuck and Sarah, it would have left open the possibility of a real friendship or partnership developing between Chuck and Shaw. (leading up to betrayal).

      • authorguy says:

        That’s a great idea, Dave. Do you mind if I ‘homage’ it in my S3 rewrite? It won’t work exactly as you’ve proposed, since C&S are firmly married, but since Chuck will have at least two secret identities I can spin it some other way. I’m collecting a lot of ideas for that set of stories from this thread.
        By the way, I just noticed that my comments are getting logged here under two different names, both as Marc Vun Kannon and as AuthorGuy. Not sure why that’s happening.

      • uplink2 says:

        I have nothing against Routh personally. He may be a very nice guy but he is a weak and very limited actor. A part of my dislike for the Shaw character does in fact stem from his performance or actually lack there of in the role. I don’t think anyone has ever said there was great chemistry between him and Yvonne. Fact is there was absolutely none. I do not really blame that on anyone except maybe the showrunners because maybe they should have tested him instead of just jumping on the stunt casting. It simply isn’t there. But he brought a level of creepyness to the role and simply never displayed any likability or made you believe he was anything but just a plot device. He never showed anything on screen that drew you in to his performance in the least. Now much of that is the writers as he even said he had no idea how to play him but how about you ask someone what the role is and how they want it to be played?

        I know I’m repeating myself but to me at least his performance in his quintessential scene, the cafe scene in Other Guy is simply dreadful. It’s mechanical, no emotion, nothing that displays either the tragic nature of what has happened to him or the evilness of what he had become. The ring Director on the other hand was fantastic. When you put a weak actor like Routh into a scene with very good ones his flaws and limitations show so clearly and they did just that in that scene. To me at least it was his weakest moment in what should have been his best.

        Folks there is a reason he lost the Superman role in the sequel. Simply put he gave a very weak performance with no chemistry there and folks didn’t respond well to it. Now the script was bad too but at no point did I ever feel like he was fitting that role in any other way than his appearance.

        The only time he does a decent job is the subway scene. They gave him a limited and focused role and he was adequate in it but when they gave him a nuanced diverse role in 3.2-3.13 he failed miserably.

      • joe says:

        Wow! What a monster thread!

        I have a question, especially for you, Uplink. If Shaw had been cast with someone that did generate a lot of chemistry with Yvonne (say, Bomer), would that have made it better? Would it make it more or less believable that she would leave the new and improved Shaw for Chuck? Could it have made the whole thing more formulaic (as in, “Of course she left the dream-boat for the titular character. That’s what’s supposed to happen!”)?

        Arg! That sounded like I debating you, Uplink. I’m not. I’m just wondering myself if those things could have happened in an AU.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I’d love to see you (or any other ff writer!) play around with the secret relationship/Shaw’s pursuit themes. That always sounded like a lot of fun to me.
        I’d noticed your dual identities, you’re not the only one that happens to (Jason and Faith). I can think of two possibilities right off; one is just if you’re using different computers that have slightly different cookies saved. Which would probably mean you’re signed in via different accounts. Word Press allows sign in through Word Press, Twitter and Facebook. So whichever you signed into last is the user name that will show up on your post. By now we’ve all figured out you’re the same guy, so it’s not a big deal.

        Uplink I do agree there was no chemistry between Routh and Yvonne, which is partly why I left that 10% margin for dissatisfaction with the performance. But I’m still not convinced that’s all the actor’s fault. He did comment in an interview during that season that he wasn’t given any direction on how to play the relationship with Sarah until they got into the story. I honestly think when they did First Class and Mask that both actors assumed their characters were scamming each other and there would be nothing “real” between them (I partly base this theory on the deleted scene that shows Casey and Sarah deciding she will get close to Shaw to discover his agenda). I kind of think the actors didn’t believe what was going on until Final Exam, by which point it was too late to fix their performances (I would also defend my theory by saying the Sarah/Shaw date scene early in Amercan Hero is the only time I thought they actually looked happy together).

      • atcDave says:

        Joe you just hit on one of the big reasons why I put a majority of my dislike on the writing and story. It doesn’t matter to me who they put in that role or what kind of chemistry they had with Yvonne, there is simply no way I was going to like that story. I don’t even need to think about it hard. For me, wt/wt expired with Colonel and Ring. Prolonging it was garunteed to make me unhappy, the rest is just details.

      • Rob says:

        I actually thought that Routh did a good job acting the part (especially after he went crazy). For his part, I believed that he was once a good guy that the CIA turned bad. But, as you said Dave, it wouldn’t matter who was playing the part, I didn’t want to see anyone romantically involved with Sarah.

        In the end, it is ironic that the CIA did to Shaw, what Sarah feared was happening to Chuck. And, I too find it disconcerting that Sarah bailed on Chuck at the exact time that he needed her most.

      • oldresorter says:

        Longest thread evah, LOL. Joe, I was glad it was Routh. Boomer might have worked, and we might never had Chuck and Sarah really together near as much and given what Fedak did to Sarah’s memory anyhow, anything would have been possible if Boomer was around and S3 had worded, she might have spent another season or two with Boomer.

        Joe, a question for you. I think OD (or BigKev) blogged about Chuck’s s1/s2 ‘Chuckness’ got transferred to Morgan after the Beard, things like noticing small details, being organized, being right all of the time, great at computers, etc. Did that bother you? I know you like Morgan, did you like him more as a Chuck like guy, or more as the hapless, well intentioned guy he was more in season 1/2?

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, well I think I will answer your question this way. Would it have made the season better? Absolutely yes. Would I have liked it more? Probably not at first but eventually yes. I go back to my point earlier about the finale, though I really dislike the story choice the performances and execution was so good that I am finally coming to terms with it. I will never come to terms with Season 3. I hated the story, thought the execution was terrible and Routh was god awful. That can’t be fixed for me. Even though there was a lot of dislike for Beefcake which was in a way a similar story I thought Cake was terrific and the ending of Lethal Weapon was incredible. One of the top 10 moments on the show. So that story I was very happy with even if I didn’t want Sarah and Cole together. In those 2 episodes they showed Cole was in fact a great Agent and they showed him to be an honorable man. In the 10 episodes of the first Shaw arc they never showed him as either. Plus I loved Cake’s performance and he is my favorite of Sarah’s other suitors. I will leave my Bryce Larkin feelings for another thread.

        I never felt they had to put Chuck and Sarah together in season 3 for it to work for me. I wanted it certainly but there were major issues to resolve and a great deal of growth that was needed for them to get to where they ended up. But I wanted to enjoy the journey and believe that those issues drove the story. I wanted to see that happen but instead I see a tired old contrived forced storyline played by a weak actor I just wanted to see die as quickly as possible. I never felt that with Cole or Bryce. Plus when you look at Hannah I thought that Kristin was great, likeable and gave a good performance even though I think she was the most pointless character ever in the series. But Kristin is never part of my dislike for the season.

        I think an analogy with Bryce can be made here. Now true he was a much more flushed character and his greatness as a spy was the first thing we learned about him. Plus Bomer made me love to hate him. Routh just made me hate him and not in a good way. Routh was given a poorly written and flushed out character but he did nothing with it. He brought nothing to the story or the character in any meaningful way. Another actor might have made me see more or believe more about what they were telling us about him whereas Routh gave me nothing and in fact showed me the complete opposite. Name one scene where Routh/Shaw is shown to be a great spy? Fact is there are none. Plus show me one scene where Routh brings something to the role, something unique or engaging? I don’t see any of that.

        I hope this answers your question and hey you should know me by now I love a good debate! So no worries.

        So in passing though I may not have like another trip to the WTWT well but a better actor may have made me be able to come to terms with it finally as I am beginning to with the finale.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I would even go as far as to say that S3 didn’t resolve any of the Chuck and Sarah issues from S1 and S2. It only resolved (and then not really) the issues / obstacles place in front of Chuck and Sarah during the season.

        As far as Larkin over Shaw (assuming a 13 episode misery arc), I think either one could have worked (maybe) over 2 or 3 early episodes. The main issue to me was that by 3.07 people were looking for some recociliation, not more obstacles.

        Also, hanging onto the Red Test (the second stupidest thing done on the show) reveal until so late was a major factor as well.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Captain. How much more interesting the season could have been if we learned about Eve Shaw and the Red Test early on. To me Shaw only works if you make him bad right from the start. Trying to create this sympathetic multi-layered character with an actor as weak as Routh was doomed to failure. It was like they were screaming at us “Like him please because we are telling you he’s great even if we show you the exact opposite and cast an actor who can’t deliver in the role. Just like him because we said to!!”

        Shaw/Routh only worked as a villain but once they made him one it was too late.

    • phaseou812 says:

      Ouch . . . just a question to try to understand where you are coming from. However, I guess we need to be pretty “ticked” at Casey’s character as well . . . because I think he received an order from General Beckman to go put a bullet in Chuck’s head in the series . . . in which he did mildly protest the orders . . . but fortunately for the show, there was a change in plans for dramatic affects that relieved Casey from having to pull the trigger.

      • jam says:

        The BIG difference is that at that point in the series it was not out of character for Casey to reluctantly obey such order.

      • atcDave says:

        Casey started darker than Sarah anyway, and he grew to a point where it would be unthinkable for him to obey such an order, so I’d say all is good there.

        It is particularly tough to accept for Sarah as she was previously a ferocious defender of Chuck, and would be one again. For much of S3 she was a lifeless shell. It was just zero fun for me to sit through and I wouldn’t willingly do so again.

      • phaseou812 says:

        Sorry I typed my response to Jam and Dave in the wrong area above.

  3. Gord says:

    I did find a lot to like in S3, and in concept I didn’t mind the tension between Sarah and Chuck at the beginning of the season. However, I found the execution in early S3 flawed and it dragged on much longer than it should have. I think 3 or 4 episodes would have made a decent arc to tell that story, but 13 was about 10 episodes too many. If spoilers hadn’t come out to give me a heads up on what was coming, I just might have stopped watching after Fake Name. I’m just thankful they followed up Fake Name with Beard. It gave me hope the season wasn’t going to be a complete loss.

    You did mention Chuck burning the assett, and you said that he was more or less like Chuck. However, I never considered him to be like Chuck. He was a greedy little imp who didn’t care who got hurt as long as he got his money.

    • joe says:

      You’re right about the execution dragging, Gord. But my number of excess episodes is down to about one or two, now. 😉

      Manoosh is an interesting case. Casey makes a joke out of confusing his file with Chuck’s, but yes, he does try to exploit the Intersect technology in a petty way. I won’t comment one way or the other on how Manoosh treats Sarah, though, because she did not exactly treat him the way she treated Chuck at the beginning (so it ain’t a fair test).

      Even so, he was close enough that Chuck got a taste of what Sarah went through. Poignant.

      • This is a dangerous conversation to get into, but oh well… I’m also in the 1-2 excess episode camp. I’m willing to grant Chuck and Sarah a “break-up” at the beginning of season three (a lot of people aren’t, but remember at the end of S2, they hadn’t finished that conversation from the dance. It was “real” but they weren’t “together.”). I actually liked the first 3 3/4 episodes. Then either merge First Class with Nacho Sampler, or rewrite First Class completely. The first half of Mask was funny, but change the last 5 minutes to Sarah telling Chuck that Shaw needs a spy she can talk to and Channah never goes beyond a kiss, which Chuck feels horrible about for “betraying” Sarah. Keep the Fake Name reveal (so Sarah hits rock bottom). But instead of a couple Channah scenes and a Sham scene, add an awkward scene where Sarah tries to explain about ‘Sam’, Chuck cuts her off and makes the wrong assumption, but Sarah says she thinks of herself as ‘Sarah’ for years and likes the way Chuck calls her Sarah. That would’ve given a little hope to the audience. I also liked most of Beard->Other Guy, although the Sarah/Shaw stuff was too thick.

        Basically, a few tweaks, one less episode, a couple scenes removed, and I would have liked S3.0 a lot. Hannah and Shaw could have been ok if they were more PLIs instead of OLIs. First Class->Fake Name had typical good Chuck stuff mixed with painful scenes and even more painful broadcast delays.

        It was all saved by the back 6: train rides, saving the CIA from it’s own stupidity, and whacking Shaw on the head with a metal pipe.

      • joe says:

        That’s not far from what I would have liked too, Jeff, especially at the time I first saw the episodes.

        But even that’s mitigated when I re-watch now, because that “little bit of hope” we needed then isn’t needed now. At least, that’s my theory. After the first half of S4, we know it’s gonna be alright for C&S.

        I can’t say that this was a deliberate thing on the part of the writers and Fedak. It may be giving them too much credit for foresight. But the effect for me is to make the show more worth the re-watching, even if it caused more frustrations the first time around.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll cautiously agree with this. I don’t think I would have liked a Chuck/Sarah break in any circumstance, but it was the triangles that turned the whole arc from dislike to loathe. I especially agree if Shaw and Hannah had remained in the potential category. And of course this is essentially what we were all saying back when it ran in real time too. It is perfectly legitimate for Chuck and Sarah to have problems, some very painful. But turning to others was a deal breaker that sucked all the fun out of the show for me.

      • Rob says:

        @Dave — I actually think that the Chuck/Sarah break in S3 was necessary for them to really see that they needed each other. I think that it is the concept of “you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.” I also think that it was a clever plot device in some respects. For the first two seasons, it was Chuck that was doing most of the heavy lifting in the relationship. Then, once Sarah is ready to make the leap (or so we think), Chuck has moved onto other priorities.

        That said, I agree that S3 would have been much better without the prolonged love triangles (in particular the Shaw/Sarah one). For me, the Chuck/Hannah one was short, and served its purpose. Chuck realized that he couldn’t be with anyone else….he realized his true love. For that revelation, I’m willing to put up with only two episodes of that relationship. Unfortunately, it took too long for Sarah to come to that same realization, and we had to endure too many moments of her and Shaw together.

        Maybe TPTB felt like they needed to build some monumental hatred of Shaw to make the plot work at the end of S3 and S5. The best way to generate that hatred was to cut into the relationship that we wanted so bad to work. Maybe we would’ve hated Shaw all the same for double-crossing Chuck & Sarah and for killing Stephen. But, maybe not. At least now, I think that I appreciate what TPTB were trying to do. I may not have liked it 100%, but at least I understand it better (much like the finale).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I don’t really buy most of that Rob. There was no point in a break for Chuck and Sarah, they hadn’t really even been together yet. Chuck’s lessens learned with Hannah are 100% redundant with his lessens learned from Lou. I really think the only “accomplished” in S3 was to make both leads look like immature clueless idiots.

        I think the entire S3 arc comes down to fear. And unfortunately, I don’t see any of it relating to any legitimate fears between the characters, at least not fears that couldn’t be resolved by a single honest moment between them. The fear I see is all about show runners who didn’t know quite what to do without wt/wt. They were afraid of telling a story that broke from television tradition so they made up a whole new level misunderstanding that never felt honest and dishonored the main characters.
        I never like stories that rely on main character’s stupidity to move things forward. Curse (5.06) didn’t work for me because Chuck being an idiot provided the main drama of the story. The misery arc dragged that out for 12 episodes. Of course it would have been better if it had been shorter. I might have only hated two or six episodes instead of most of twelve.
        And the amazing thing is, with time I hate what they did even more, not less. Later episodes, simply show how great Chuck and Sarah are together on screen and how much the emotional heart of the show NEEDS them together to work right. Earlier episodes show exactly the same the thing; which only underscores that TPTB should have known better from the start, and never pursued such an ill advised season long story.

      • Rob says:

        Dave — Those are fair points. I think that my viewpoint comes from accepting the lesser of two evils. The wt/wt aspect of the S3 storyline simply irritates me less than the thought of either Sarah or Chuck romantically involved with someone else. I understand that the wt/wt was probably drawn out too long. But, I wonder if that notion originates more from how TPTB extended it (not the fact that it continued).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah there’s no doubt Rob that the method made it all worse to me. I doubt I would have enjoyed any technique that prolonged the wt/wt into S3, for me it’s time was up. But what they actually did was pretty much the worst thing I could have imagined.

      • authorguy says:

        There was a lot that outlived its usefulness in S3, dave. I wish they’d left the Buy More behind too.

      • atcDave says:

        After S2 I guess I’m just ambivalent towards the Buy More. It no longer served any real purpose, Chuck had certainly outgrown it. But it did, on occasion, provide some good humor. I think in S5 it regained some relevance as part of the new Charah business empire, but they never really took good advantage of it (again, apart from some laughs).

        But you know Marc there are two big pluses to the Buy More. The first is just as a signature element of the show. Whenever you talk to other Chuck fans, especially the casual sort of viewer who would never bother reading a site like this, the Buy More is the first thing they mention. A lot of initial Chuck talk seems to center around that dysfunctional workplace and the Buy Morons.
        The other is just that it did help defray production costs of the show due to flagrant product placement, and it made it possible for WB to keep offering Chuck to NBC for lower cost. It MAY have even been key in getting us a fifth season.
        I’ve heard it said the writers actually DID mean to get rid of the Buy More when they blew it up at the end of S3, but the studio over-ruled them and required its return.

      • authorguy says:

        That makes me feel better, Dave. I’d hate to think a writer would do something so useless, but if crude business objectives intervened I can live with that. (One of the reasons I like writing the way I do, I don’t have to do something for anyone’s reasons except the story’s, the way it should be.)

      • atcDave says:

        There is no doubt fan fiction is a more pure art form. Virtually by definition, once you “go pro” you have to consider the needs and demands of a paying clientele; unless you happen to be one of those very rare artists who can sell exactly the things you most love making (of course even then, volume and quality demands my require compromises). And something as eclectic as Chuck appeals to a broad range of tastes that requires a delicate balancing act (among my major S3 complaints is the shift to a darker, less comic feel for much of the season; basically they tipped that balance in a direction I completely did not like). Reading comments here and at the NBC forums for most of the total history of the show. it seems clear that they established a balance those first two seasons that they would never regain; the diverse fandom was not unified in liking anything after the S2 finale.
        Of course a hobbyist writer has the luxury of deciding not to care. They can write only to please themselves. But for a professional product, the divided fandom translated into steadily eroding ratings and eventual cancellation.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave – Phase 3 and Honeymooners were pretty much 90% plus ‘liked’ post season 2, with a fair amount of passionate fan love, were they not? Interestingly, Phase 3 was a little darker than many eps even. A thing I can come up with that those two eps had in common were the head over heels in love Sarah character. It is interesting how both 4×24 and 5×12/13 seemed to copy elements of phase 3, for some reason neither panned out as well as Phase 3. Come to think of it, Delorean and Colonel also had Sarah acting very, very interested in Chuck, as did the Pilot. Maybe that is my ‘tell’ for liking or disliking episodes.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason you are right that a few stray episodes did achieve pretty widespread appeal. But I don’t believe we ever saw anything else like the last six episodes of S2 where nearly the entire fandom was united and excited. You know for me, I was mostly happy from 3.13 on; and very, very happy on occasion (errr, like almost all of S4 and S5!). But I think Honeymooners and Phase Three, where most viewers seemed to be pleased were exceptions.
        It is funny how even playing around with those formulas never quite recaptured the magic. Some of it, I’m sure, is just the near impossibility of KNOWING what will play well. But certainly some “they should have known betters” happened too.

      • Gord says:

        With respect to the PLI stuff. What really got me about the Sarah/Shaw angle was she told Chuck she couldn’t be with him because he had turned into a spy. Yet TPTB stated that why she connected with Shaw was because they were both spies.

        Later she couldn’t love Chuck because she thought he had killed a man, yet we saw Shaw kill Sydney in Op Awesome and lord knows he has killed plenty more people, but to Sarah he was so dreamy.

        I sitll thnk if they wanted to play the PLI angle for Sarah it would have made sense for her to fall for some other regular guy.

      • authorguy says:

        He wasn’t dreamy, he was just already broken. She didn’t want to watch Chuck breaking, knowing it was her fault.

    • Quite right, Manoosh was the asset version of Chuck, greedy and short-sighted, what Sarah expected Chuck to be. They don’t meet many saints in her line of work.

      • garnet says:

        Manoosh had enough simiarities for Chuck to understand that his treatment of Manoosh was not anywhere near the same as Sarah’s treatment of him, but Manoosh was not a good guy. He was a sortof good bad who wanted to take the money and run. I don’t have much sympathy for what happened to him, But I had never really thought about the fact Manoosh was what Sarah expected Chuck to be.
        Good observation.

      • Gord says:

        That’s a good point Marc. In the pilot there was that very brief scene in her apartment when she is on the phone with Graham and she’s telling him that she has doubts about Chuck being a bad guy.

        Then there was the conversation in Nacho where she is telling Chuck the fact that she found him sweet made it so much harder. He didn’t understand why at that point, and due to circumstances she didn’t get a chance to tell him why, but I think at the end of the episode he understood just how much Sarah did for him.

        After all Casey wanted to drop him in the underground bunker on more than one occassion.

        Nacho is actually one of my favourite episodes of early S3.

      • authorguy says:

        It always bothered me that they treated Chuck like an asset when he clearly was not. Assets are people like Manoosh, who need to be controlled and exploited. Chuck didn’t need that, he was quite willing and even volunteered to help. If they’d stopped treating him like an asset he and Sarah could have been together long before.

      • Gord says:

        All this talk about Manoosh, I wanted to mention that I was at a weapcon today (CANSEC – the Canadian version of weapcon) and I found it relaxing.
        However, as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find the booth with the Japanese laser pens.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m not such a fan of Nacho Sampler, but that laser pen scene has got to be one of the funniest ever, especially Sarah’s facial expression.

    • OldDarth says:

      ‘There was a lot that outlived its usefulness in S3, dave. I wish they’d left the Buy More behind too.’

      Quite true Marc and when the show brought the BuyMore back in the 4 th episode along with the destruction of the Orion Cave, in hindsight, the series for me was over.

      No more growth for Chuck in terms of his purpose in life. No more plausible story mythology. No more sense of danger or surprise.

      All that was left was the Chuck and Sarah relationship and the outcome of that was a given and for me not nearly enough to keep my interest.

      The Chuck and Sarah relationship was the heart of the show but the show lost it’s framework or story engine upon which to hang the relationship to. No more compelling story drivers were left.

      Which is one of the reasons why the 4th season is such a failure and is the season where the show died for me. If not for my engagement from the previous seasons and the wonderful turns by Timothy Dalton, my dissociation would have come sooner.

      The horrible Volkoff Retcon and the Ellie Evisceration – oh, of course you’re still a spy -were the final straws.

      I know that flies in the face of popular consensus here about the merits of Season 4 but as they say different strokes…

      • Sam Carter says:

        Season 4 is simply unwatchable for me. I don’t even own it. And yes, it’s a season loved by most in this forum. It seems to be the only place. Funny, season 3, a hated season by most here, did much better business $$$. 😉 Me thinks that those that don’t like it are just a very vocal minority. Numbers don’t lie.

      • As Joe said, it takes only 5 people to have 10 different views, so I have two. I liked S4 as a whole better than parts of S3, but I though it was a weaker season. It was more fun entertainment, but had fewer ‘wow’ moments than S3. But while Sarah’s S3 actions make sense to me in a tragic way (Chuck’s do except for Hannah), Mary’s character will probably never make sense to me.

        I admire Sam, Ernie, Joe and a few others, for braving the S3 negativity. I think a lot of those extra people who purchased S3 go into hiding when Chuckwin’s Law takes hold. The rest are watching iTunes downloads of S4.

      • joe says:

        Thanks for that compliment, Jeff. But really, it’s not bravery. I really do enjoy S3 every time I re-watch. As much as I loved S2 (and trust me on this – I never thought I’d like anything better) in the final analysis, S3 leaves me more satisfied.

        Likewise as much as I love Christmas TV, Louisa’s Bones and Creature Fear, I have more S3 tunes on my “must play” list than any of the other seasons. I’m not trying to create converts or controversy. I’m just relating what I feel.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think making an argument based on DVD sales is really missing the point and does nothing to mention the change in viewing habits or the changing technology. Look at a music artist like say Carrie Underwood. Her first CD sold over 6 million copies and her newest will barely break 2 mill if it even does. Does that make it better? You can have your own opinion but trying to use sales of DVD’s to say season 3 is better or more well liked is absurd. It misses the point completely.

        Plus sales don’t mean re-watches. I bought the season 3 DVD’s but Disk 2 in particular has never once been in my DVD player and absolutely never will. I bought it because I’m a loyal fan and wanted the complete set. But that doesn’t mean I like it. All future rewatches will start with DVD 4 and 1,2 and 3 will never be watched by me again.

        I personally love season 4. It is my favorite because it is the season of Sarah Walker. Hell even Morgan had a great season 4. The biggest problems I think for those that don’t enjoy season 4 come from those that watch the show for the Chuck character as he was dis-served in it and those that thought the Mary story was god awful. I personally watch for Sarah and loved it and loved Yvonne’s growth of the character. Its one of the reasons I disliked the finale so much as that growth was thrown away for a cliche storyline. But to try and use DVD sales as some justification for approval of a particular season is misguided at best.

  4. thinkling says:

    You only have to ask 5 of us here to get ten different views of the story! Good one, Joe! And thanks for your eyes on such a controversial season.

    S3. I think dispensing with two things, that are actually related, would have greatly helped S3: the love trapezoid and TPTB’s arbitrary obsession to push wt/wt until the last episode of the season. The LIs only purpose was to extend wt/wt. The woefully misguided mandatory wt/wt also necessitated the apocalyptic nature of the CRM and destroyed the pacing of the season, all of which poorly served both our heroes, but especially Sarah. Chuck was more poorly served by the LIs, and Sarah was more poorly served by the pacing.

    The CRM could have been a good dramatic 3 episode arc, after which a friendship/partnership could have been reestablished. The road would have been challenging because of the darkness of the spy world and the uncertainty if Chuck (Sarah’s Chuck) would survive the transistion, but the LIs wouldn’t have muddied the main story.

    Dave, I totally agree that Shaw would have been a better villain (a tragic one) had he been a mentor/friend and not just an LI. That said, either way, I think he should have stayed dead. I think bringing him back made for a pretty uninventive plot. Better to bring Eve back as the Ring leader wanting to avenge her husbands death. Anything but bringing back Shaw.

    I would be in the camp with Gord that burning Manoosh never worked for me, because he was nothing like Chuck. All the parallels they tried to draw failed miserably, to me. He deserved to be burned and tried for treason.

    Sorry, I’m feeling uncharitable toward S3 today. Some days I’m a little more generous. It had some good moments, and touched on some interesting themes to explore, which unfortunately were underexplored because they were overshadowed by the worn out wt/wt trope. When you combine all the factors, S3 was too overburdened for a show like CKUCK to carry.

    • atcDave says:

      Well an uncharitable Thinkling means we’re totally in agreement again. I also agree Shaw should have stayed dead, although substituting Eve is an interesting idea. That might have been a lot of fun.

    • The only ways to make Manoosh more sympathetic would have been a multi-episode arc or to have him do something self-sacrificing at the end. Instead he was a traitor for profit and said please don’t punish me.

      I do like Shaw being the zombie that doesn’t die. The best super-villains are never killed off because the good guys are too noble. Like the Joker said in Dark Knight, “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re too much fun. We’re going to do this forever.” That doesn’t mean I don’t like it when fanfics kill Shaw in creative ways.

      • atcDave says:

        I might have liked it even better if they brought Imhotep… Errr… Vincent back.

      • Tough question for you, Dave: If Vincent was in Chuck vs the Curse instead of (or in addition to) Rebecca Romijn, would you have liked that episode?

      • atcDave says:

        I had nothing against whatshername. My objection to that episode really had to do with Chuck behaving stupidly about his curse. But Vincent might have meant bonus points….

      • Gord says:

        Agent Vincent was 10 times better than Shaw.
        I still believed he escaped the carnage in Colonel. After all, the guy is indestructable – gun shots, poisons, helicopter explosions and getting run over by a car – couldn’t kill Vincent.

  5. uplink2 says:

    Oh, I’m sure I will write a more thorough response to this great post Joe but I have to comment about one thing you mentioned.

    Well, um… Sarah (blush). Oooohhhh – we didn’t really want to know that. Casey’s interrogation of Sarah about the events of Mar 22, when she went off-grid with said Nemesis, was a little uncomfortable for her, not to mention, for Chuck. And the fans. Did we need to go there???

    I think now the answer is yes. Yes, we did.

    Now in part I agree with this but that scene also includes what I think is probably the most offensive moment ever in the series and second only to the name reveal a huge destruction of the Sarah character by plot device. Having Sarah wear earrings that were given to her by the man who betrayed her and tried to murder her was so disgusting and offensive I’m amazed that LeJudkins would ever consider writing it. It creates such a flaky, materialistic view of Sarah that I was horrified when I saw it. It was sexist, offensive and they made it worse by trying to play it for laughs. Most of what else is in the scene I’m ok with but that moment was just so wrong on many levels and just contributed to the destruction of the Sarah character we saw throughout that season.

    • It wasn’t a great moment for Sarah, but the scene was funny for me in that uncomfortable way that the Ellie/Hannah coming out of the shower scene was. I didn’t like either, but they made me laugh against my will.

      I still think Chuck treatment of his stalker after he slept with her was worse. He was supposed to meet the parents and instead he dumped her with no explanation. That was out of character for “nice guy” Chuck. I like to think that Sarah, on the other hand, conned earrings out of Shaw like she would any mark. She used con money from her dad to pay for her wedding to Chuck, just like she wore con earrings to look good for Chuck. Old habits die hard.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree Chuck’s treatment of Hannah was even worse than anything Sarah did, and I also tend to see the earrings in the same light as Jeff suggested. Yet I still find the whole interrogation scene offensive and unnecessary. Not to mention ill-advised, it removes most plausible deniability for the Sham. I see it as the last act in the destruction of Sarah, it just verifies that all those awful thoughts we had about her all season long were accurate. I just really can not/will not give the show runners an inch on the whole misery arc; terrible idea from beginning to end.

      • authorguy says:

        Chuck dumping Hannah like that was the low point of the show to me, far worse than anything Sarah did. She has the excuse of being confused about what she wants, and not quite clear on what living in the light means. Chuck has no such excuse.

      • JC says:

        Question when should have Chuck dumped Hannah? After meeting her parents and leading her on more? Or after he asked Sarah to run away with him?

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think the big knock against Sarah in S3 was just that she pursued a superficial relationship while she was clearly in love with someone else. The execution of that made her look more pathetic than anything (unlike Chuck who actually seemed aggressively wrong in his behavior).
        I would add here that my complaint was never that I found such behavior unrealistic or anything. Actually just the opposite, I know too many people who have made such idiotic decisions. I have ZERO interest, less than zero interest really; I’m completely hostile to the idea of using my entertainment time to watch people mess up their lives in the ways some of my friends have. I still remember well one Sunday afternoon during the run of S3 typing away on this site about Chuck and Sarah’s faithlessness while my wife was upstairs on the phone with an old friend who just found out her husband was leaving her for another woman. It just makes me furious that a show I chose for being fun, exciting, and centering on decent and positive protagonists strayed into such grotesque territory. I really wish I’d had the moral strength to just dump the show right then and there.

        Of course in the end I’m very pleased that they did so much right, so much that I enjoy in the later seasons. And of course finally giving us a stable couple was a rare and beautiful thing to see on television. But it will always make me sad that after getting so much right at the start (and again later at the end), that they totally made a mess of the middle season.

      • atcDave says:

        JC, Chuck never should have flirted with Hannah on the plane, and he never should have spent on second of off duty time with her. Again, my objection in no way relates to “realistic” decisions people make; it 100% relates to what I am willing to sit down to watch. I DO NOT want to see I character I once related to go off for a fling while he’s still in love with someone else. Stupid and inexcusable behavior.

      • JC, ideally it would have been before he slept with her. Sarah and Chuck had that awkward scene in the hallway. If he felt he had to ask permission, he wasn’t ready to move on to someone else. As Dave said about Sarah, “[he] pursued a superficial relationship while [he] was clearly in love with someone else.”

        If that option was in the past, he should have called to change dinner plans to something more private. Dumping on meet-the-parents night is only slightly better than dumping in a text, and Chuck’s Intersect wasn’t as defective as Morgan’s for an excuse.

      • Rob says:

        Dave — I just can’t agree with your assessment of Chuck’s treatment of Hannah. I don’t condone what he did (either in what he did or timing of doing it). In his defense, he was at least looking for an honest relationship. Also, at least he admitted his “mistake” in pursuing another relationship and didn’t drag it on.

        On the other hand, Sarah was not looking for anything real except for an escape from Chuck, and did so in a manner that Chuck had to see every day at work. Think about how you would feel if a girl that you were interested in (and she knows it), started to go out with a fellow co-worker, and you got to watch them flirt (or whatever) all the time.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto all that Dave and Jeff. What you guys said. I hate what TPTB did to the characters with the OLIs. So for me Shaw and Hannah are sentenced to float forever toward the most distant corners of the Chuckverse, in a black box. (I’m not as high tech as Superman.)

      • oldresorter says:

        I am of the opinion, which I often have made sarcastically as a point, that the intention was that Sarah and Shaw were told by TPTB that they both took their relationship very seriously. The problem was ON SCREEN, the scenes between them were epically woeful. Sarah looked ready to vomit several times, and Shaw looked like he either was high on something, or disgusted by Sarah’s presence or both. In what was a difficult thing to watch anyhow, how the whole thing was presented made it worse. As far as 3×17, like many Chuck episodes, that one scene in the castle with the earrings, took a top notch episode, and made it something less. That, and of course ANY ep with Daniel Shaw involved sucked.

      • Thinkling, then why were you so nice to the three brunettes in your story? Casey could have asked Gertrude to send in a team, collect them, and put them in black box shipping containers for locations unknown.

      • atcDave says:

        Rob I don’t see anything remotely honest about getting involved with someone when you’re in love with someone else. In this case its also mostly a repeat of what happened with Lou, where Chuck couldn’t have a relationship with someone who he couldn’t even share important details of his life with.
        Of course that doesn’t excuse Sarah for making her own bad and wrong decisions. It just highlights that both protagonists were unappealing for most of the season. I think Sarah’s wrongs hurt more in many ways because Chuck snapped out of it quicker and first. But I think she was actually far more discrete and “decent” about her personal life than Chuck was; she never did a morning happy dance in front of Chuck and at least had the decency to look bashful about Shaw’s attentions when Chuck was present. But this is really nitpicking, both characters were in the wrong.
        I’d also add that being badly hurt by someone you love DOES NOT JUSTIFY doing hurtful things back. Two wrongs make two idiots instead of only one.

      • authorguy says:

        They never claimed or even implied she slept with Shaw, so I never assumed she had.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the interrogation scene (it was revealed Sarah spent a day at Shaw’s apartment) made it highly likely. I had really hoped they would deny it at some point, and there remains an opportunity to do so (Sarah could say “Shaw tried awfully hard to get into my pants but he never did…”), but I think the most logical conclusion is that they were physically intimate. That we are meant to draw that conclusion will always stick in my craw, but there it is. To be fair, I remain bitterly disappointed in Chuck’s actions with Hannah too; and there is virtually no window of opportunity for disposing of that. Unless NinjaVanish’ “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves” suddenly becomes canon…

      • authorguy says:

        I view scenes like that sort of like logic problems. If it isn’t explicitly stated to be the case I don’t assume it. TV shows don’t do subtle, they point out every damn clue to make sure you don’t miss it. If they had found some of Sarah’s underwear in his penthouse I would have accepted it. But they didn’t, so I don’t.

      • thinkling says:

        Jeff, I see Hannah as a casualty of Chuck’s spy life. (Granted it takes two to sleep together and she was pretty forward, but Chuck was the one who had no business pursuing the relationship in the way that he did, especially considering he still loved Sarah.) I think Hannah’s beef would be much more with Chuck than Sarah. (And people get over exes. Hannah had married in my story.) My feeling was that Hannah would always have hard feelings toward Chuck, but no so much toward Sarah. And even if Sarah remembered Hannah, I don’t think she would be mad or vindictive toward her … no reason. But since Sarah only has a gut emotional reaction, I went with unease and sadness, because that’s what Hannah represented – a sad time in her life. Hannah finding out that they were federal agents explains Chuck’s actions, but it doesn’t excuse them. There is no excusing them.

        Likewise Lou didn’t do anything wrong. She was hurt by Chuck’s spy life, too, though not nearly as badly (or as recently) as Hannah. She was a blip on the radar and wasn’t really all that mad at Chuck 4 yrs ago. So I didn’t see that there would be any hard feelings on Lou’s part, or Sarah’s. Sarah doesn’t even get an emotional read on Lou, just a nagging feeling that she should know her.

        Jill was the only bad ex, but I think they gave her a redemptive moment in First Kill. She helped Sarah save Chuck, even burning her bridges with Fulcrum, and she told him where his dad was. She’s been good for three years, so Sarah warned her and left her alone. It was a very Sarah Bartowski thing to do. That’s my take anyway.

      • jam says:

        I used to read a lot of Marvel comics, With 40 years of continuity, written by hundreds of different writers, there are going to be lots of stories you just have to ignore if you still want to enjoy reading the stories, or care about the characters.

        While the scale here is smaller, I view S3 of Chuck like that too. I just have to think Chuck and Sarah never did some of those things, that was the only way I could continue to S4 and beyond. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

        I was able to do it, but I know for many it killed the characters. The good thing is we got some good fanfiction from them, thanks to Frea, NinjaVanish, Crumby etc.

      • Dave, that scene from Themselves (Chapter 4) is one of the funniest things I’ve read in Chuck fanfiction.

        Thinkling, I understand your reasoning. It’s good to know you are nice to people you put in your black box.

        On the other hand, Lou was a meat smuggler and may have been responsible for bringing Mad Cow Disease to California, destroying the beef ecomony in the state. Hannah was a stalker who was fired from her previous job, maybe because she was involved in corporate espionage. Maybe that company in Paris was the same one building an Intersect chip for the Ring. And Jill thought about killing Sarah. Normally, I’m not one to say a person should be punished for their thoughts. They should only be punished for their actions. But this is fiction and she thought about killing Sarah Walker. Sounds like a capital offense to me. 😉

      • authorguy says:

        Atlee’s Awkward Encounters on a Sunday was the funniest, except for the Shaw-hating stuff.

      • atcDave says:

        Jam on a practical level I do like you; that is, I mostly pretend the S3 triangle stuff never happened. But obviously, when we get to discussions like this, its still there… darn it!

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I do love that scene from “Themselves“. Definitely the most elaborate non-event of Chuck’s life. And Hannah would still be justified carrying a huge grudge!

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, on your point about that episode confirming that Sarah and Shaw did sleep together I think that was confirmed even before the earring scene. At the beginning of the episode Stephen calls Shaw Sarah’s “lover”. To me that confirmed it right there. He did not use boyfriend or any other word that is subject to interpretation. He specifically says lover and to me that makes it a certainty that they were in fact intimate not matter how much that makes me want to vomit. It is clear that both OLI’s were physically involved with Chuck and Sarah. Something I think was absolutely unnecessary from a story pov but just typical WTWT contrived soap opera angst that that entire season was based on.

      • atcDave says:

        Well except Uplink that he said that to Chuck not Sarah. There’s no doubt Chuck believes they were lovers. As I said, I do believe that’s the most reasonable interpretation, and I don’t like any better than you.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I’m with Uplink on this one. SleepIng with someone and then dumping them is unpleasant, but sadly common. Wearing earrings from someone who tried to kill you and your boyfriend? That’s not common in any universe. It’s behaviour from someone who needs serious professional help.

        But hey – she doesn’t remember it, right? So all is well… 🙂

      • Kev, on one hand I completely agree with you about what is normal and what needs professional help. On the other hand, Chuck was the ‘nice guy’ wouldn’t do something like that. Also, keeping earrings that have no sentimental value but look pretty doesn’t seem out of character for a con-woman/assassin who would never be considered normal. She couldn’t give them back, so what’s she to do? Sell them and spend the proceeds? That’s a little twisted too. It’s not like Sarah has the social skills to know appropriate behavior for a normal person. That’s one of the things she was hoping to learn from Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Just a guess, Shaw might not have been the first guy to give Sarah an expensive gift, and then try to kill her, but hey, Tiffany! 😉

      • BigKev67 says:

        Jeff,
        It’s another example of how inconsistently Sarah is written. Is she the Wildcard enforcer, ethe professional assassin, with no feelings and no conscience? If she is, then wearing the earrings isn’t a stretch.
        Or is she a girl from a broken family, who fell into the CIA, kills people when she has to, but still has a heart, and still understands love, loyalty and conscience – even if she hasn’t seen much of any of them until Chuck?
        Personally I think the whole wild card enforcer thing always came from left field and was a step much too far. It’s Casey in a way, and the show always went to great lengths to show that Sarah and Casey were very different.
        But the earring scene comes before any reference to the wild card enforcer , so we don’t even have that context. I know it was meant as a throwaway scene for comic value – but to me it does more damage to Sarah’s character than any other scene I can think of.

      • “Is she the Wildcard enforcer, ethe professional assassin, with no feelings and no conscience? ” “Or is she a girl from a broken family, who fell into the CIA, kills people when she has to, but still has a heart, and still understands love, loyalty and conscience – even if she hasn’t seen much of any of them until Chuck?”

        She’s a combination:
        – an enforcer who is so good at what she does she’s the wildcard. A wild card is a replacement for anything. Chuck said Sarah can do anything. ‘Wild card’ doesn’t mean she was ‘wild’ and reckless. The enforcer part was established in Chuck’s first flash of Sarah in the pilot.
        – a professional assassin who suppresses her feelings, has a conscience but ignores it to accomplish the mission
        – someone who still has a heart but that heart was repeated broken in her childhood
        – someone who shows loyalty by following orders. This is why she would not pull a gun on Shaw, her recent confidant, potential boyfriend and superior until the last possible second when he was a half second from ordering the air strike. (Casey for some reason always gets a pass even though he was more insubordinate, as shown at the end of the episode. And he was more trigger happy too.)
        – someone who wants to love, but doesn’t fully understand it

        Wearing the earrings wasn’t immoral or criminal. They did belong to her. It was insensitive to Chuck, but so was bugging a picture from Comic-con and and hiding guns in the sofa. (It was also tasteless and tacky, but those are unappealing character traits, not character destroying traits.) To be an assassin, I would assume she had to turn off empathy. If Sarah was used to denying those emotions, she wouldn’t understand how Chuck might feel about the earrings. This was early in the relationship, so she was still learning. At least the earrings were paid for, not stolen like the wedding money.

        For the most part, I put the earrings in the same bucket as Chuck’s behavior in Curse and at the beginning of Kept Man. It’s where the show waded a little more into the sitcom genre.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        I’m with Big Kev regarding the earrings; does anyone actually remember what Shaw did in Paris?

        He personally betrayed Sarah by leading her into a death trap.

        He betrayed his country. This wasn’t just breaking a promise to an employer, this was a betrayal of training and trust and of every man and woman who ever served along side him or under his command.
        What did he betray? The Intersect, the thing that Sarah had spent 3 years protecting.
        Who did he betray the Intersect to? The Ring, the people who killed Bryce Larkin.
        Why? (he could have shot Sarah anytime since the hotel room) He did it to bring down the CIA (in which Sarah had spent her adult life serving).

        In the course of this, Shaw has Sarah drugged so she is helpless. No biggie, happens every day. Then he sits her down and TELLS her all of this and how he is going to kill her, rubbing it in that she cannot do anything to avoid it, including how he’s going to throw her into the river so he can watch her drown.

        Just as he’s about to throw her off the bridge and enjoy her pitiful death throes, he gets shot multiple times in the chest and starts to fall off the bridge himself. As he goes over, he grabs onto Sarah and his last conscious action is to clamp a vise-like grip on her wrist so he can drag her into the river with him.

        Folks, all of these things together constitute what is called a “Deal Breaker” with 100% of the sane women (and 90% of the crazy women) on my planet. You know, Earth. On Planet Hollywood, apparently it’s another matter.

        Shaw isn’t just Sarah’s ex-boyfriend; he’s a psycho traitor superspy who did his damndest to kill her. He’s probably going to be haunting her nightmares for the rest of her life; if anything, those earrings have negative sentimental value. Just about every woman I’ve talked to about this (including my 4 sisters) have said that they would sell the diamonds and either donate the money to charity or use it to buy something nice for family or friends (children came up alot). Nobody said they would wear the diamonds in front of the one they loved, or wear them into work where Eagle-Eye Casey would see them and start asking questions.

        Jeff, just because Sarah had an upbringing as a con-artist doesn’t mean that she is a human magpie who collects things just because they sparkle. I think it much more likely she would see the diamonds as concentrated wealth that wasn’t very liquid, and either convert them to cash at the first opportunity or put them in her “Run for It” cache for pawning or bartering in case of an emergency.

        And don’t get me started on the whole “Oh my God…Daniel” nonsense in the next episode.

      • Rob says:

        Yep. There were only a few of Yvonne’s lines that were either poorly written or poorly delivered in the entire series, and that was one for sure.

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Uplink. And don’t worry. I both understand and respect your position. I even agree, in part.

      But I’ll never shake the feeling I get after each re-watch, and really, every time my S3 playlist comes up on my mp3 player – I like it a lot.

      I don’t have the same reaction to Sarah wearing those earrings as you, but it’s easy enough for me to imagine something that would bother me as much. I was just lucky that LeJudkins didn’t press my particular button in that way. They only got a medium reaction out of me, which I’m guessing was closer to their intention.

      • Funny you mention the playlist, Joe. Other seasons had better individual songs, but I think S3 had the highest percentage of consistently good songs. Throw the very end of season 2, and that’s my favorite run of songs. That’s something that disappointed me about S4. I think the song selection wasn’t as good.

    • Gord says:

      OK I’ll play the devil’s advocate on the Hannah thing. Did Chuck know he was still in love with Sarah at that point?

      In Beard the conversation between Chuck and Morgan as they are tied up in Castle suggests that Chuck had been trying to deny that love still existed and that was a big part of why the intersect wasn’t working.

      Also regarding the break up with Hannah. I saw that as Chuck hitting his rock bottom, just as I saw the end of Final Exam as Sarah hitting rock bottom. The point at which they would start to recover.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said before that I think they dragged out this arc far too long, and I’m not happy with the execution, but that is how I saw those particular events.

      • Gord, I think you pointed out a key pacing problem with season 3. The name reveal was when Sarah took a turn for rock bottom. Final Exam was her rock bottom. Those were too far apart. Chuck’s journey was shorter, so it’s often perceived as less painful. I don’t know how to reorder the episodes to fix that, though.

      • atcDave says:

        Gord I think Chuck’s actions with Sarah in Mask clearly show he was still in love with her. And even if he thought he wasn’t, its only a couple of weeks since he told her he was, and that’s just way to quick to be decent in my book.

  6. Sam Carter says:

    @ATCDave:”Well I think the big knock against Sarah in S3 was just that she pursued a superficial relationship while she was clearly in love with someone else. The execution of that made her look more pathetic than anything (unlike Chuck who actually seemed aggressively wrong in his behavior).”

    I didn’t have a problem with Sarah persuing a relationship with Shaw. It was in character.She was afterall the daughter of a con man, a lonely girl with father issues that just wanted to be loved. And when she felt Chuck could no longer be that guy, she went for the guy that paid attention to her and her feelings. Yes, Daniel Shaw was one of the good guys before he turned into a psycho, lol. Eh, I don’t think bad of her AT ALL just because she had sex with another guy. In my mind she was trying to connect to someone else. Also, Shaw was a very attractive man.. yes he is.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t think any of that justifies the behavior Sam. And how attractive you find Shaw is irrelevant to the issue. For many of us lying or cheating is “in character”, but its also wrong. As I said elsewhere, my complaints have nothing to do with what’s believable. Real people are idiots all the time. It has to do with what I’m willing to watch on TV. And most of S3 crossed the line into things I honestly wish I’d never seen. The fact of their love was affirmed many times during the course of the series. That makes all such straying a waste of time to me as a viewer.

      • Sam Carter says:

        Sarah is not me. I see things from her point of view not mine. I don’t place my values on others. Her character was of a flawed girl with a good heart. She was clearly far from perfect. Maybe fans wanted her to be totally pure and virtuous, but that not who she was.

  7. Sam Carter says:

    @oldresorter:”I am of the opinion, which I often have made sarcastically as a point, that the intention was that Sarah and Shaw were told by TPTB that they both took their relationship very seriously. The problem was ON SCREEN, the scenes between them were epically woeful. Sarah looked ready to vomit several times, and Shaw looked like he either was high on something, or disgusted by Sarah’s presence or both.”

    I didn’t see what you saw. I also don’t think both Shaw and Sarah were taking their relationship ‘very seriously.’ I think there was a physical attraction from both parts, both were young, beautiful and lonely. I think they were just giving romance a chance. They were trying to move on, but couldln’t.

    And please tell me when was Sarah ready to vomit? I really don’t remember a single time. Looks like we were watching a different show.

    • authorguy says:

      I really didn’t see any attraction at all between them. They looked like they were trying to be attracted, like they felt they ought to be attracted, but really weren’t, and that seemed to me to be totally in charcater. Each was obsessively devoted to someone else, and each was trying to move beyond that, and each was failing miserably.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s pretty much how I saw it Marc; well except for Mask, I thought Sarah looked profoundly uncomfortable with Shaw in every scene in that episode.

        Now the chemistry was great when they were yelling at each other in Operation Awesome and First Class. It only broke down when they tried to make nice.

      • Sam Carter says:

        I saw some attraction. For instance, Sarah seemed to like looking at his half naked body in Fake Name. She really seemed to appreciate his male beauty. She also seemed to enjoy the kissing in the same epi. And she was clerarly sexually aroused when he kissed her neck in Mask (I think some people think otherwise, that she hated it, but I don’t think so. She hated herself for actually enjoying it). But I understand what you mean, just don’t see it exactly like that. Like you said, they were trying, but they were still pretty much carrying someone else’s torch.

        To me Shaw was pretty much like Bryce in their romances with Sarah. It was something more physical than emotional. People say Bryce/Bomer had great chemistry with Sarah/Yvonne, but I never saw it. He always looked much more into her than her in him. In Shaw’s case, neither was really that into the other.

        I just think some fans, mostly big shippers, don’t want to see it because they never wanted it in the first place. I enjoyed it, and even wanted more (Shaw/Sarah), but what there was there was not much really. Their romantic scenes were very few. Their scenes were more spy related. I think it was on purpose because TPTB probably didn’t want to overwhelm the shippers heart..s? That’s the way I take it.

      • authorguy says:

        I saw it as two people in great pain, trying to find something beyond what was hurting them that they nonetheless couldn’t let go of.

      • In Fake Name, she left the room with Jeff after he came out of the bathroom. She obviously preferred him over Shaw. Wait… that was a blooper.

        Seriously, though, I thought she was annoyed with Shaw on the mission (which is how she normally was with Chuck until after Other Guy.) I thought what she told Shaw in Castle when they were poisoned was one of the worst delivered lines of YS for the entire series. That’s why I thought she was playing him as a mark. I would admit she was doing a better job of conveying some awkward attraction in Fake Name and maybe some attraction at the dinner in American Hero. A lot of other scenes were intentionally awkward because Chuck was around, so there was not much opportunity.

      • thinkling says:

        Some good insights authorguy.

      • authorguy says:

        Thanks.
        I really loved the bank robbery in your story, and the closure for the three exes (I only did Hannah, she was the only one that needed it). Can something dire happen to Captain Cretin please?

      • uplink2 says:

        I think that the scene in FN where Sarah is obviously affected by shirtless Shaw was one of the most ridiculous scenes in that god awful episode. Does anyone really think that super spy Sarah Walker who could have any man on the planet would act like a horny high school girl at the sight of a man who obviously removed all his body hair? How pathetic is that? Did she ever do it around Devon? It was part of the contrived, forced, nature of that story line. It’s “Hey look at him he’s hot so of course little old confused me wants to jump him because Chuck is hitting that little brunette”. Sorry but that is just bad lazy writing.

  8. Verkan_Vall says:

    Interesting post, Joe.

    I pretty much agree with everything Thinkling, atcDave and Uplink have written above, but I thought that it would be a bit boring to just post “ditto” after each of their posts.

    Let me do it here: I agree, Lady and Gentlemen.

    On the other hand, I disagree with a great deal of what you have said. That is mainly a function of what each of us is looking for in the show and what we need from it. There are a number of things that you needed to see or hear in S3, but I did not. I wanted to be entertained, first and foremost; you and Faith have other priorities, and we all come from different backgrounds and experience. So what you see as “maturation” and what Faith has said in another thread was “humanizing” in regards to the characters of Chuck and Sarah in S3, I see as the senseless and unnecessary destruction of those characters, and an immense amount of damage to the show itself. I have a couple of theories as to why the showrunners did that and I’ll go into that in another post, but right now, I have a question for you:

    In the past, you have said that you wouldn’t be surprised to find that the showrunners were dragged kicking and screaming by the studio and the network into doing what was done in the show in the first half of season 3 (or words to that effect, it’s been a while). After having seen the show’s finale, do you still think that?

    • joe says:

      Let me begin with an apology for being so quiet today. I have an excuse – a doctor’s appointment this morning and my ‘puter this afternoon and evening. You see, a new version of Fedora came out today and I just had to install it and…

      Well you get it. The install went great, but on a clear disk you can fiddle forever, as they say.

      Regardless, I want to thank you and Uplink especially, and everyone in general for the incredible level of discourse. I’m still catching up, but the comments and points being made have been just amazing.

      Now, to your specific question, I’m not sure I remember what I said about the show runners being dragged kicking and screaming in the directions they took in S3 (actually, it sounds more like something ATCDave might have said!), but I do think that certain aspects of the show (timing, in particular) were very much proscribed by outside events (and by outside events, I mean the network execs and bigwigs who were trying to sell NBC-U to Comcast while S3 was being created).

      It’s not hard for me to believe that some nameless hack of a bean-counter told someone in power to tell Schwartz (who told Fedak who told LeJudkins who told Zac) that they had to keep C&S apart as long as they could, they had to use Brandon Routh for X episodes (and more if the hoped-for extension came through) and don’t even think about breaking up Jeffster. Things like that.

      Want to know what’s weird? I think there was a bit of rebellious subterfuge going on. Every time one of the characters read back to us lines that we, the fans, had written in the boards and on the various blogs (like about WT/WT and “9 times out of 10, you get all worked up over nothing – well, maybe 7.” and a hundred other things), it was the talent in front of the camera, the writers and yes, even Fedak saying that they heard us.

      Good writing wouldn’t have done to Sarah what was done in Beard, I agree. But this is television. That it even comes close to being entertaining is sometimes amazing. That it could make me think about characters and life the way Chuck did for five years is a miracle.

      • atcDave says:

        One very good point there Joe, even excellent shows and great writers lay the occasional stinker. Much as I loved S4, shoot much as I loved Phase Three as an episode, I can still find things to nitpick if I’m so inclined. So something like being turned off by Sarah being portrayed as weak in a particular scene doesn’t have to be a huge deal. The occasional moment may ring false, that’s television (and I’m sure we’ve seen it in movies we love too!). But I think S3 gets so much spite because these sort of unappealing moments and characterizations seem to keep piling up. I admit freely the Charah malfunction was the start of my discontent. But things quickly pile up from there, and in the end I just can’t enjoy much about S3.

        And actually I’m not one to blame the network execs for the major part of the problem. I do blame the writers. I think it was primarily a show runner’s decision to take such an unpopular path. I may change my mind if we ever hear from a credible source that NBC applied pressure, but I would also be very surprised. That same year saw the big “Office” wedding that drew tons of free publicity and favorable attention to the network. I just don’t buy that the network was terribly worried about the direction for Chuck. S2 was critically popular and led to the fan campaign that saved the show. My bet is that the network made very few creative demands (although we know they made a lot of monetary demands!).

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Joe:

        Hope the doctor’s appointment went well, but you’re on your own with Fedora.

        The reason why I ask this question is because I just got my copy of the S5 Blueray last week and I’ve been working my way through the contents since. I (once again) agree with Dave’s reply above: the showrunners and the writers gave us S3, not the studio or the network. I think the same can be said for the show’s finale. Those episodes are what they wanted us to see.

        I also think Dave (and others) have touched on something that runs through all 5 seasons fo the show: TPTB are either addicted to WT/WT or simple don’t know how to do anything else with a romantic relationship. There is a place in the extras where R.D. McNeil is shown saying (enthusiastically) that they were going to try to extend Will They/Won’t They into the last moments of the show’s finale.

        I’ll put my other comments on S5 in the appropriate page.

  9. Sam Carter says:

    @authorguy:”They never claimed or even implied she slept with Shaw, so I never assumed she had.”

    Seriously? We never saw them in bed but it was implied several times; for instance, at the end of Fake Name, Living Dead, also in Santa Suit when Shaw tells her that this will be their last night together, etc. The showrunners just trying to be somewhat subtle.

    • They intentionally made it plausible either way. Chuck even said he doesn’t want to know. Writers do that when they want to keep a large part of the audience happy. In Castle’s “The Limey”, the writers did the same thing with Castle and the flight attendant. Every audience member can make up their own mind as to what happened.

      With Chuck and Hannah, they had to be more explicit because they wanted him to hit rock bottom. Dumping Hannah in a rude way after effectively a one night stand was Chuck’s rock bottom. Sarah’s rock bottom was the name reveal, so whether or not she slept with Shaw didn’t matter.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        That is an interesting take, Jeff. They may have TRIED to make it plausible, but they failed for a great many viewers. They forgot what anyone who has worked in a courtroom knows: Present circumstantial evidence often enough and over a long enough period of time, and you can convince any jury. They presented a great deal of evidence that Shaw and Sarah were lovers episode after episode (they even had Stephen, the first Intersect, tell his son that they were lovers) but forgot to present much of anything that said that they weren’t.

        Whether or not Sarah slept with Shaw obviously doesn’t matter to you, but that sort of things does matter to society as a whole. Daniel Shaw murdered Stephen Bartowski in cold blood in front of his children, and he died in his son’s arms. If Sarah and Shaw had ever been lovers, that makes S4 and 5 impossible.

        No one marries anyone who slept with their parent’s murderer.

        I do applaude your courage in revealing one of the writing profession’s dirty little secrets, except the writers here weren’t trying to keep a large part of the audience happy, they’re were just trying to CYA. They knew the audience wouldn’t like this, they just had no idea how intense the revulsion would be, and lot of people stopped watching.

        When I call ambiguity a dirty little trick, I mean exactly that. Nine times out of ten, ambiguity is a cheat and a dodge: dishonest writing used to allow the writer (and the showrunners) to have their cake and eat it too.

  10. Sam Carter says:

    @authorguy: ‘I saw it as two people in great pain, trying to find something beyond what was hurting them that they nonetheless couldn’t let go of.”

    Yeah pretty much. Very human. Many do that, and it doesn’t really work.

    • authorguy says:

      So I don’t mind whatever Sarah may or may not have done. Chuck explicitly did it, and explicitly dumped the girl, and absolutely knew better, and that’s why I only hate the one episode. (And did what I could to fix the Hannah arc, story-wise.)

  11. Sam Carter says:

    @authorguy:”I view scenes like that sort of like logic problems. If it isn’t explicitly stated to be the case I don’t assume it. TV shows don’t do subtle, they point out every damn clue to make sure you don’t miss it. If they had found some of Sarah’s underwear in his penthouse I would have accepted it. But they didn’t, so I don’t.”

    Your choice. Shaw was also in her room at the end of Final Exam.

  12. Sam Carter says:

    @jam: “jam says:

    May 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    “Shaw was Sarah boyfriend, unlike Bryce.”

    Was he? I never got that impression, and that’s one of the reasons why the scenes in 3×17 were so bad.”

    Yes he was. Even Chuck, Casey, Jeffster knew it. We all knew it, lol. She was moving to DC with Shaw (Amer Hero, Final Exam).

    Finally, I’m a big S3 fan, you all know that. Shaw/Sarah romance was ok by me. Loved Chuck’s development into spy, loved Shaw’s turning into a villain, loved Casey and Morgan’s development. Even Awesome had his chance to shine. Ellie not so much but she was great in the finale. Oh and Jeffster!

  13. atcDave says:

    I do just have to say how amazed I am at how much heat this topic still generates. Those who disliked the season seem to outnumber those who liked it; but as always, those with complaints are often far more vocal than those who are pleased. Going back to the immediate aftermath of the S3 front arc our poll here indicated some 78% of respondents did not enjoy that arc, but again we know results at other sites were very different. But what is clear is how much passion we still see.
    For me, it is worse than the finale, because I have come to believe the finale was a positive story, it just wasn’t portrayed/concluded as well as I would have preferred. I imagine many writers here who have complaints but get annoyed with all the attitude towards S3 (I’m thinking of Ernie and Jeff, correct me if I’m wrong!) feel about like I do towards the finale. That is, they believe it was a good story that could have been told better.
    At this point, its pretty clear I’ll never think well of the S3 main arc. And it looks like I’ll always have plenty of company.

    • I do have complaints about S3 and think it could have been much better without much effort. Maybe the only way to make the greatest number of people happy would have been to skip straight to Honeymooners, but from a character development standpoint, something needed to happen so Sarah and Chuck did not have each other on too high of pedestals. It didn’t have to be what we got, but serious stumbles were needed to make way for a stronger foundation.

      However, I think a lot of really good stuff in S3 (even in S3.0) gets overlooked. Also even with what we got, the WT/WT was better executed than Ross/Rachel in Friends (Ross’ marriages), Niles/Daphne in Frasier (Niles’ marriage and Daphne’s almost marriage), Lois and Clark in Smallville (Lana) and Lois & Clark (Lois almost marrying Lex, clones, frogs, and amnesia), Bones and Booth (which I think only happened because the actress was pregnant), Harm and Mac in JAG (Mac’s engagement and 9 years), Sydney and Vaughn in Alias (Vaughn’s marriage), any relationship in ST:TNG or ST:DS9, and maybe even Crichton and Aeryn in Farscape (two Crichtons and well, the rest is complicated). Castle and Beckett was a little better but too slow, until 47 seconds, The Limey, and Headhunters. Those episodes weren’t faster than Chuck’s misery arc. But considering those episodes line up with Chuck’s Last Details, Cliffhanger and Zoom, I was wondering where was the Caskett wedding and why was Castle dating his 7th PLI. Chuck needed four more PLIs and Sarah needed two more to catch up to Castle and Beckett.

      So it always could have been worse.

      • jam says:

        Jeff, I can’t agree with all of those. Many of the examples you listed were frustrating to watch for sure, and definitely poor writing… but what happened in Chuck was character destroying, and I find that unforgivable.

      • atcDave says:

        Some interesting comparisons to other shows Jeff. Although I do always counter with saying each show has its own pace, and its own dynamic. Naturally Castle would have more PLIs than Chuck, he’s kind of a recovering cad. While Chuck claimed in Helicopter (1.02) that Sarah was his first second date in five years. He is no Rick Castle! (which was part of his charm for me, at least early on I found him pretty relate-able).

        But no doubt we were very fortunate with the way the wt/wt WAS ended. It is television tradition to drag these things out WAY too long. But I think it generated so much anxiety for me, at least in part, because for whatever reason, I had expected from pretty early on that this was a show that would break from those precedents. It did, and I’m glad for that; but not as quickly as I initially expected.

      • atcDave says:

        Jam a lot Jeff’s examples were pretty character destroying. I’m not so much into the sit-coms; but no doubt Smallville, JAG, and Lois & Clark all made their leads look like idiots before the end. And really, if some of the bone head things those characters did had actually happened, there would have truly been no hope for the central relationships.

      • oldresorter says:

        The problem is most these shows don’t have a regular cast full of jeff’s, lester’s, morgan’s, big mike’s, captain awesome’s, Charles Bartowski’s, and the big grunter. Chuck stepped over the line twice by taking itself too serious, and getting too dramatic. In season 3 this was compounded by taking itself serious all season long, with a couple of exceptions.

        Jeff, for some reason, Alias’s season three did not bother me at all, it was really sad and tragic, but so was the show, I watched Alias because it kicked my butt emotionally, not in spite of it. Of course, maybe it was just how hot Vaughn’s new wife was, yikes.

      • jam, I understand everyone’s rankings for how bad my examples were would be different, and completely understand thinking S3.0 was worse. It just wasn’t for me. As Dave said, a lot of the examples I listed were character destroying moments:
        – Friends: I stopped liking Ross after saying the wrong name at the alter. That was character destroying for me. The Joey/Rachel thing never made sense to me. Fortunately, I liked Chandler/Monica.
        – Niles’ elopement was nearly character destroying, but they made his 2nd wife so despicable, it saved Niles. As I’ve said before, more is forgiven in sitcoms.
        – So much time was spent on Lana/Clark in Smallville that the Clois relationship never seemed serious to me. They ruined the potential for that relationship.
        – Lois and Clark – the Lex marriage was so early, it didn’t do much harm. The writing to delay the marriage is completely ridiculous, though. If those writers worked on Chuck, Chuck and Sarah would have three aborted weddings and would still not be married.
        – I liked the Bones/Booth banter before they were a couple, but not Booth just seems like a sap and Bones shows him no respect. I’ve almost quit watching the show because I don’t like theit characters any more.
        – Harm and Mac the biggest problem with the number of years. Mac/Webb didn’t make sense either. It would be like if Sarah/Shaw started after American Hero and were a serious relationship for about a year with Shaw constantly lying to her. Mac should have dumped him sooner. This one might not have been as bad compared to the extreme delay of the WT/WT.
        – The Alias situation is what prevents that show from being up with my favorite three. When I recommend that show, I have to say, watch the first two seasons, but you might want to stop before the last 5 minutes of season two. Maybe that’s the same to some people’s reaction to Prague, but imaging the Intersect 2.0 causing Chuck to loose his memories only to find out Sarah is married to Shaw. (I was so happy when Lauren turned out to be evil. TPTB had misled viewers to think she wouldn’t be.)
        – The recent arc in Castle destroy 4 years of character growth and reverted him to the pre-show playboy. He didn’t have Intersect-induced amnesia as an excuse. In a more focused way, it made 18 episodes of waiting this season completely meaningless. I’ll forgive this if Castle S5 is like Chuck S3.5 and S4.0.

        Another example is Sam/Jack in Stargate SG-1 (a different Sam Carter). At the time, the actress that played Sam was just happy she was getting a boyfriend that they weren’t killing off at the end of an episode. A lot of fanfics turn Pete, Sam’s S8 happy-go-luck police detective fiance, into an abusive boyfriend. A lot of fics find an excuse to kill him or at least have Jack hit him. Personally, I think Sam/Pete wasn’t as bad as Sarah/Shaw, but as a whole, Pete is probably more (unjustifiably) hated in the Stargate fandom than Shaw is in Chuck fandom. I didn’t like him, but while I don’t think his presence destroyed Sam’s character, many people do.

        I guess my point (I have one?!?) is I like all of these shows despite the poor character management during the middle or final stages of WT/WT. And I like Chuck more, so it must not have been that bad in the grand scheme of things. It just sticks out more because Chuck was unique is some many other ways. Your mileage may very.

      • And if your car is more fuel efficient, it will vary more than very.

      • atcDave says:

        Too funny…

      • ArmySFC says:

        Jeff for me watching a show is never about the couple, its about the overall show. for me some of those shows, the ones i did watch, were much better than chuck, which made the wt/wt tolerable. there are many shows that i watch that i could care less if the leads got together because the whole (majority) of the show kept me entertained. with all the faults that you and others like ernie have listed in the past and ignored to enjoy the show (it part of it so i accept it), i could not do that, so chuck was always just ordinary to good but never great, the wt/wt took away from what they did offer me. it annoys me on any show when the writers go beyond the call to keep the leads apart for drama or growth. people grow all the time and are not in committed relationships, so i never did buy that part of the wt/wt. it all comes back to why you watch a show, if it’s for the romance and that tanks well you enjoy it less, if its for the action and that tanks you enjoy it less.

      • jam says:

        “And I like Chuck more, so it must not have been that bad in the grand scheme of things.”

        It *could* be that since I liked Chuck more than any other tv-show, I’m less forgiving towards it. It’s hard to be objective about it, I guess.

        Fedak’s still a hack, though. 🙂 Chuck just got incredibly lucky to get the amazing cast it had.

    • uplink2 says:

      Dave, I agree that season 3 is far worse than the finale. The big reason for me is that even though I hated the story choice for the finale it was done extremely well with incredible performances by the actors, especially Yvonne. The problem with season 3 is it was a story I hated and it was poorly executed, poorly cast, and incredible example of lazy bad writing. I think it would be near unanimous that Mask was the worst written episode of the entire series. I have always agreed with Mo Ryan’s feelings about Routh being miscast and making a bad story line even worse with his weak and limited acting.

      I have tried for over 2 years to come to some sort of comfort with season 3 but with no luck. I will always hate it with a passion. It ended my trust with TPTB and almost made me leave the fan base which would have been so sad as I never would have met all of you great people. I also never would have ventured into FF if I had left but interestingly enough that is one good thing about S3 as my hatred for season 3 and Fake Name in particular that got me to read my first ever FF story, Parting Gifts from your favorites list because it dealt with FN.

      I am slowly coming to terms with the finale, the extended version has helped, and am almost to where I can rewatch again. But that being said I am just as firm now as I have ever been that I will never watch 3.1 – 3.13 ever again.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah we’re mostly in the same place Uplink. I’m soooo glad we got you into writing fan fiction!

      • atcDave says:

        You just led to re-read the story “Parting Gifts” again Uplink. Seriously for any readers here who still have problems with S3 up until Fake Name, check it out! It may be the best one-shot fix for that mess imaginable. (I’d also recommend Kate McK’s “Chuck vs The Fight“. She “fixes” each episode of S3, sometimes very quickly!).

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m glad I did too. Now if I could just work out my problems with the next chapter of Permutations I’d be fine.

        Hey I reread Parting Gifts still on occasion. It’s probably my third most reread story behind Sarah VS the Collapse by sdchuckfan and chapter 4, the Funeral chapter from Brickroad’s amazing Seven Times. That chapter is probably my all time favorite chapter in all of Chuck FF.

      • Never read any of those.

      • atcDave says:

        Well that makes you lucky Marc! So much good stuff to read….

      • They’re good stories, I guess, just not especially Chuck-ish.There are so few stories here that really read like a Chuck episode feels.

      • atcDave says:

        Every story has a little different feel as is fitting of all the different authors. The feel of Chuck shifted greatly from episode to episode as well based all those different writers, and even the specific material they were covering (Baby was mostly serious with little comedy. Bo was mostly zany except for a more dramatic end….)
        Usually this crowd, that is the more serious fans of the show as opposed to casual viewers, treat the characters and over-arcs far more seriously than they perhaps merit. But just as comic universes find room for light hearted and juvenile or dark and brooding in different series aimed at different audiences; I think it’s fitting that there are different themes and moods in Chuck’s fan stories as befits the huge range of Chuck fans. And as one who always cared a great deal about the Charah relationship it pleases me a lot that so many writers make that a focus or priority in their stories

  14. ww1posterfan says:

    Ahhhh, S3- a “hot mess” for sure. Not sure I can add much depth to the very insightful comments above, but I’ll add a few observations not in any particular order. Again, these are just what I took from some of the episodes. I think the entire premise for Pink Slip/S3 beginning was ludicrous and set the whole thing heading downhill from there. Only 1 year before they were ready to terminate the asset and now a year later they are just going to let him lay around on the couch because he’s having trouble managing the I2.0. Really? Suddenly all those secrets and capabilities are safe to just wallow in cheese ball heaven in Echo Park? Makes absolutely no sense to me and the suspension of disbelief only escalates from there wrt to how they handled Chuck’s “training.” Chuck is even worse off than in the Pilot because he doesn’t even have the werewithal to maintain personal hygiene or get off the couch and at least go back to work. Lastly, from a plot point perspective, I never understood why it was Sarah to go with Shaw for the Ring Task Force. Chuck is the Interesect for heaven’s sake. Wouldn’t he be the best resource to help hunt and track them down?? This little twist I believe was also to add to the relationship angst when it clearly was counterintuitive.

    Sarah-hhmmmmm. Her actions make a little more sense to me. Sarah got dumped for a new mistress and didn’t take it too well and felt responsible for introducing Chuck to this mysterious new “love”, i.e. the spy world and spy craft. I can see how Prague would shatter her confidence and esteem–the great seductress fails to close the deal with Chuck. Let’s not forget, I believe almost 7 months passed before Chuck and Sarah even see each other again after Prague. Women with low esteem tend to seek out poor choices for replacement companions to include 2×4’s apparently. I guess the TPTB were pleased as it was easier to beat us over the head with that character. Sarah was clearly on a rebound with no real experience to guide her and no one to talk to. As for the earrings, my significant other was going to keep a ring from their ex, until I put the nix on that. So, some people look at “gifts” differently. I take a slightly more sinister view of Shaw’s pursuit of Sarah. Shaw knew Sarah and Chuck were involved and he knew in order to break Chuck and build him in his mold, he would have to break that bond.

    For some reason, the writers just had Chuck give up after Three Words, so he too, goes out on a rebound. One of the reasons Chuck was never my favorite character was they sometimes wrote him as way too weak and/or passive or fickle. His dalliance with Hannah doesn’t necessarily bother me except that he knew better and he had just simply given up on the woman to whom he had confessed his love a mere 2-3 weeks before. What message does that send Sarah? I know what message I took from it and it was Chuck’s love was shallow and fleeting. It’s funny, as I am writing this I just recognized a parallel with Goodbye. Given that Great American Hero and Other Guy were possibly going to end the series, they had Chuck perform the “selfless” act of rescuing Shaw for Sarah, knowing he might not get the girl. He asks her to trust him regarding the Red Test and to choose him over Shaw and run away. In Goodbye, Chuck again performs a selfless act by unconditionally loving Sarah and making no demands on her other than to trust him. Both of these epiphanies were supposed to highlight his maturation and growth in terms of his love for Sarah and heir relationship. Not sure if it was intentional, but I don’t think I am imagining things.
    Suffice it to say, I’m not a fan of the front half of S3 as many have stated primarily in how the the character growth themes were executed. I’ve just tried to follow my mother’s advice. The opposite love isn’t hate…..it’s indifference. I’ve done my best to feel indifferent about 3.1-12.

    • atcDave says:

      Good comments WW1, thank you. I’m still a little more passionate than indifference so I guess that makes me more accepting of it than you are…

  15. oldresorter says:

    I am taken aback by the intensity that the passion boils for season 3. Season 5 made me like season 3 more, since I disliked the amnesia, then found the resolution lacking. In season 3, I disliked the Shaw arc, then found the resolution outstanding, although still not worth the price paid. I still dislike with intensity the last three episodes too, which seemed to retell what was already told, Shaw was dead, bringing him back automatically angered too many to be worth the spin that made some like his return.

    Good TV is not won by a simple majority ‘liking’ something while a strong minority passionately dislike. Good TV is won by a landslide passionately ‘loving’ something, with a weak minority quibbling over minor details. Season three failed by this measure, so did the end of season 5. No amount of blogging can change that.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with this completely. Using your analogy season 1,2 and 4 would qualify as good TV with probably season 4 the least of the three even though it is my favorite. I think TPTB knew they had a problem coming from the reaction to Josh’s unwise comments at Comicon. Hell then sending the beloved writer Ali Adler out to try and calm the masses in September was pure damage control. What they did not anticipate was the incredible passion of the season 3 haters. Somehow they were blind to how it was playing out on screen and could not see what so many clearly saw. I’ve said this a number of times but I had absolutely no idea of Chuckpocalypse going on as I was not involved in the online Chuck community in the least. I did not read any sites, spoilers, tweets or anything related to Chuck. I simply watched week to week and was stunned when I did come on line in May and found so many hated the season for exactly the same reasons I did. It was all clearly on the screen what was wrong with what they were doing. But the bubble they lived in wouldn’t let them see what was so obvious before it was too late to fix anything.

      Their PR campaign after Mask aired was a total disaster because they came off as arrogant and clueless. This was exactly the same way I had a great deal of trouble with how they reacted to the dislike of the final arc. They simply arrogantly ignored it. Josh’s “we are simply farther along in the story” or Fedak’s “you don’t put a book down after the seventh chapter” are absurd comments when you are courting a fanbase and trying to keep them invested in your product. And that is what Chuck is, it is a product and the analogy above works great with that. A good product is loved by many and has few detractors it is not one that is a fifty-fifty split. The passion of hatred for season 3 is in many ways as strong or stronger now than it ever was and no amount of spin, or rationalization or explanation of what they intended to do will ever diminish that because none of it is actually on screen. That was their biggest failing. If their intent was as many here and other places have stated then they failed even worse because it simply wasn’t translated on screen and what was there was despised by a huge number of very vocal fans. Plus as some season 3 apologists and Schwedak asskissing bloggers on other sites in particular say that the mob mentality of Chuckpocalypse created much of the hatred simply doesn’t wash and I am a perfect example of that. With no knowledge it was going on I passionately hated that season all on my own and almost left the Chuckverse for good after Fake Name aired. So to me at least all of the failings were simply up on screen for the world to see. And boy did they see them. But TPTB never really saw it at the time and that disturbs me a great deal. Didn’t anyone involved with the show objectively look at what they were writing and shooting and realize just how poorly it would be received?

      But that is the problem when you write a show from the ending backwards. The entire plan was to delay them getting together with one more round of WTWT and relationship geometry till what they thought was the series finale and they forgot about telling a compelling story, driven by the characters and getting us to a point of resolution that makes sense and is deserved.

      They ended up taking a united, creatively and uniquely dedicated fanbase and tearing it apart by doing the exact opposite of what drew people to the show. They turned it into just another contrived WTWT relationship driven series and virtually every element and character suffered because of it. They took a show that was different and appealed to its fans because it was different and threw it all away and yet had no clue why it wasn’t loved anymore. And when the outcry grew so loud they decided to react, everything they seemed to do only made it worse until they intentionally leaked Honeymooners scripts and info to calm the torch bearing masses.

      Someday maybe Chuck will be studied by folks in college as to what to do and what not to do to be successful. I’d love to be in on that class. But one thing that I have learned from all this is I will never ever trust or invest in a Fedak or Schwartz show again. They may come up with great characters but as showrunners Fedak in particular is a total failure for anything other than tearing apart a fanbase bit by bit. I will never forgive his arrogance after the finale for not even really acknowledging the dislike many had with his concept. Couple that with his clueless statements after Mask aired and in the Mo Ryan interviews in season 3 and I am done with him and his work.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Uplink:

        Agreed. I’ve never understood why the showrunners did what they did to Chuck in the 3rd season, but a recent conversation with a friend who used to live and work in L.A. may suggest part of the answer. He worked with different companies in the entertainment industry there in computer tech support, system/app installation and network admin. from 1998 to the end of 2010 (he now lives in Texas) and he said this about Hollywood:

        “Pretty much every writer, producer and director I met, would be or otherwise, KNEW that they were the smartest people in the room. Most of them think we are stupid.”

        That “we” means us, (the audience) and that could explain a great deal.

        If you think someone is stupid, then you might think that :

        Stupid people don’t pickup on the subtle things, you’ll have to beat them with a clue stick over and over again.

        Stupid people aren’t going to notice inconsistencies or remember enough to see contradictions.

        Stupid people will be easy to please, and will be satisfied with a bare minimum of reward.

        Stupid people are easily distracted by explosions, gunfire, nifty toys like motorcycles.

        Stupid people won’t remember bad things as long as you keep them distracted and move onto the next episode.

        Stupid people can’t see the big picture and don’t appreciate art or genius.

        This would explain a great deal, especially the way that Schwartz and Fedak dealt with fan reactions to S3 and the show’s finale.

        I believe the writers and the showrunners (Schwartz and Fedak) think we’re stupid.

      • joe says:

        Awww – now I have to be a Fedak apologist, VV. Ya made me do it! 😉

        Okay – seriously. I could easily imagine Fedak and even (maybe especially) Schwartz starting out that way. But I suspect that early on in the Chuck era they got an earful – not from the fans, but from a few of the stars, one named Levi in particular, about what the fans were doing and saying. I could imagine that others in the cast caught on (probably at Zac’s urging at first, and then on their own) and took a look at what was happening on the boards and in twitter and maybe even heard a little about what was happening at Subway Sandwich Shops on Mondays. They said something to the Fedaks in the room and the Fedaks said something to their bosses.

        Then even the “I’m the smartest guy in the room!” types sat up and took notice, especially when Fedak and Schwartz went to ComicCon and saw a bit of the energy first hand. Honestly, if Zac told me to pay attention to something, I would too. But these guys were being told by stars, show runners and Subway’s accountants that the fans actually were showing up, both at the shops and on the bottom line. Fans were showing up enough so that they expressly told NBC about it. We know that – it’s on the record.

        So yeah, I know that there’s a tremendous amount of cynicism floating around a lot of heads of the people in that area in that business. Their cynical attitude tells them that everyone else is a rube. I don’t think Zac or Adam or Josh think that, and I do believe they told Fedak and Schwartz to not believe it either. Eventually someone got the idea that believing the fans are rubes is actually bad for business when the fans are actively helping the advertisers with their dollars.

        Cool how that worked out, huh.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Joe I don’t believe Zach is any more in touch with what viewers want than CF is. Yvonne and Ryan are the only ones in the cast who seemed to get what I was interested in the last couple seasons. I mean, Zach was bragging about the return of wt/wt the eve of the finale; argh!

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Joe:

        I don’t think that Schwarz and Fedak believe that stupid and useful are mutually exclusive. One of the reasons I feel there is truth in this theory of mine is because of the behavior of the showrunners when the fan reaction to early S3 went south. Arrogant and condescending is a generous description of the way they acted, at a time when the sandwich campaign should have been relatively fresh in their memories.

      • BigKev67 says:

        VV,
        Loathe as I am to defend Fedak after his ill-considered finale, I don’t think he thinks we’re stupid, I honestly don’t. I just think that he likes what he likes, and he writes what he likes. And so does Schwartz. So for Schwartz that means relateable characters and great music – with a bucket of teen angst and geometry thrown in. And for Fedak that means kickass fights and lots of stuff being blown up, big set piece scenes and “wow, that’s cool” – comic books set to TV in some ways. Consistent characters, coherent storylines and tone seem to take a backseat to “wow, that would be cool”.
        So for me as a character/story guy, I reckon 2 seasons of Fedak’s next project will be enough. I’ll love the characters and the originality of the premise, but after that the cool stuff will wear off and the cracks in the storyline will get to be too much. And I’ll be gone long before he writes the ending! 🙂

      • garnet says:

        Here is a question. How much was Josh involved in Chuck compaired to Chris? I guess that in my mind I had always thought that Chris was likely doing most of the plotting and work while Josh had other things on his plate (GG etc). So when I hear about how Chris approached Josh with his idea I read (perhaps incorrectly) that the main concept came from him, but it needed a “name” to hang on it to make it appealing to the network. Also, When I see TPTB talk about Chuck it is almost always Chris that does the “heavy lifting”.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Josh was completely in charge for the first three seasons, with Chris gradually taking on more responsibilities. Starting in S4 in was all Chris. When you see older interviews (look at the extra features on the S1 – S3 sets) Chris often differed to Josh on all the big questions. But at Comic Con 2010 it was completely different, and Chris was clearly fielding all questions.
        Remember going back to the beginning, Josh was the experienced show runner. While the idea for Chuck seems to have started with Chris, and then some Josh and Chris discussions to make it a workable project. But Josh has always had other projects going, so as Chris became more capable he assumed a bigger role.
        Obviously it mostly worked out quite well. But Josh is the one who loves love triangles. And I think the extreme overuse of that device is largely his doing. So maybe I just wish Chris had taken over a season earlier(?).

      • thinkling says:

        That makes sense, Dave. I hadn’t watched anything else of Schwartz until Hart of Dixie, and it is ridiculously laden with geometry. I shudder to think how Chuck might have been ruined if it had started with a triangle for all of S1. We’re lucky the geometry was achieved through guest stars. It’s funny that the last name of the other girl was supposed to be Hart, and that one of the guest LIs, Lou, is the headliner of Hart of Dixie.

        Whatever happened I consider us luck to get what we got.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh seems to have his stable of favorites, I’m pretty sure that’s how a lot of casting decisions are made in Hollywood. But that isn’t really much different from any business, networking is always the best way to get a job!

      • Gord says:

        Time for my two cents worth on the show runners.

        Based on Josh’s comments at comiccon just prior to S3, I honestly believe they were very proud of the direction they were taking things in S3. They seemed to be focusing on the payoff in episode 13 thinking that it would make us love the season. It did make most of us love episode 13, but for most fans not much more of the early part of S3.

        I think they were also very pleased with Brandon Routhe’s performance (why – not sure- maybe he was very cheap to get) because they upped the total number of episodes he was in considerably.

        If I’m not mistaken he was originally slated to do 4 episodes but then they decided to stretch things out. (If I’m wrong I’m sure someone will correct me).

        Of course by the time they got fan response it was too late to change things because most of the first 13 episodes were already in the can and they didn’t have the budget to go back and reshoot.

        At this point no show runner is going to do an interview talking about how terrible their episodes are because they don’t want everyone tuning out. They are going to focus on what few positives they have to offer.

        As for Zac and Yvonne I think as far as performances go they did exceptionally well with the material they were given. It was the material that they were given that was the problem.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Gord. I don’t remember the numbers, but I do believe they increased Routh’s role twice. The best I can say is he was adaquite as a villain. As I usually say here though, my beef is far more with the writing than the performance. I do think it would be interesting to see a behind the scenes story sometime, especially an honest assessment by the writers and show runners. Mainly because, they always claimed to have learned their lessons from the season. I would say the results would MOSTLY bear that out, but I would love to know what lessons they think they learned (again, since the results don’t COMPLETELY bear that out!)

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with all of that, Gord. I don’t think show runners sit around dreaming up stories they think fans will hate, and the way they always talked I think they thought they’d come up with a winner in the story, the triangles, and Shaw. They said that in some universe Shaw would be perfect for Sarah. Maybe, just not in the one they had set up. I’m sure in some universe, S3 would’ve been a big hit … just not the populous universe I live in. Okay, that was a cheap shot.

        I think part of their love of the Routh/Shaw character was the whole Superman two-for-one they got with Krouk and Routh. I guess, accepting that they think their story is way cool, and that they are big on stunt casting, I can see the wow. But I never felt the wow, only the woe. But I get it, so far. Superman-stud, Lana Lane, wow. And maybe they just genuinely like the man. Got it. What I don’t get is why they kept pushing him, after it was so clear how unpopular he was with so many fans. Reanimating him once was bad enough, but at least he was the villain, and we could hate him and cheer when Chuck beat him and Sarah planked him. But bringing him back two seasons later, that I’ll never understand. It was a waste of a tantalizing story idea and mind-boggling to build a three-episode story arc (in your last 13 episodes) around one of the most unpopular chatacters of the series.

        I also agree that Zac and Yvonne did the most with what they were given.

    • Rob says:

      Totally agree oldresorter. I think that I’m more accepting of S3 because it was resolved in a manner that I loved. In the same way, if there is ever a Chuck movie, I’m guessing that my opinion of the finale will probably change from “like” to “love.”

      That said, I don’t think that I’ll ever re-watch some of the S3 episodes, because I really hate what TPTB did with Chuck and Sarah.

  16. Angus MacNab says:

    My wife and I re-watched season three a couple of weeks ago before I left for work for the summer. We paused the playback so many times to debate what was being inflicted on our two favorite characters by the writers that we finally just kept the remote in our laps and grabbed it out of each others lap as the need arose. It seemed to both of us that so many compromises were made to Chuck and Sarah’s characters to drive the angst and the wt/wt story line to the detriment of what we learned about them over the first two seasons. Formula writing is one of the reasons I watch very little TV to begin with. There were moments where both my wife and I disliked both Chuck and Sarah intensely because of the writers apparent overriding motivation to follow the formula. So many things those two blinded themselves to in each other for reasons that simply made no sense just to drive the angst story forward. But the biggest one of all (for us) being the one where Sarah abandoned Chuck because of his choices motivated by his desire to be with her without having to go on the run to do it and possibly ruin both their lives as a result. Especially when she abandons him in his greatest moment of need when she was so keenly aware of what her own red test had done to her. To say that he’s become someone she can’t love anymore because of it? When Chuck loves her for who she is knowing what she herself has done in the past and still accepts her for what she is, baggage and all? And to run to a manipulator like Shaw in the process? Sorry, that will never wash clean.

    Both my wife and I have a personal frame of reference in a broader sense for this scenario (the decision to take a life or say goodbye to the world, and its effect on the soul). What Sarah did to Chuck over his red test was reprehensible to us, even if she felt responsible for putting Chuck into the position to make that decision, and shame on the writers for what they did to her because of it.

    You can make the argument that Chuck abandoned Sarah on the train platform in Prague, and Chuck could have definitely handled that better. But the overriding choice Chuck always made was about having a ‘normal’ life with her and both their families. Running away would have never worked and the Sarah we’ve grown to know up to this point in the story should have seen that.

    Though I’m relatively sure it’s been discussed here before, the whole dynamic of season three would have been changed rather dramatically if even only a few of the declassified scenes had been put into the episodes they were removed from. I became so curious about it after watching them, that I edited them back in where I thought they belonged (we watch Chuck on a HTPC), and not too surprisingly it created a whole different story that’s actually fun to watch because of the additional character insights the declassified scenes provided (although there were a few declassified scenes that just made me scratch my head and say, “Huh?”).

    Sorry, if this post seems disjointed, and I wish I could participate in this discussion more, but I’m just slammed with work right now…

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      Angus:

      I agree with just about everything you wrote here, and especially with your point about having a frame of reference for Sarah’s decisions. It seems to me that the writers/showrunners aim this show at an audience that has the emotional frame of reference of people in their mid to late teens.

      There seems often to be no thought for consequences or implications, and everything gets “hand-waved” away shortly afterwards. (not an original thought; I’ve seen this written elsewhere on the Web, but can’t remember where)

  17. oldresorter says:

    Pointing to DVD sales as a justification vs the thousands of tangible issues regarding season 3’s failures would be akin to the Captain of the Titanic holding onto a wooden board from his deck and claiming his ship is sound.

    • Sam Carter says:

      More people were willing to spend more $ on the S3 DVDs. In these times that means a lot. Plus the season is very well reviewed in most places like IMDB, AVClub and TV.com. LIke I said, the internet is a big place..

      • atcDave says:

        The main thing that jumps out to me in larger sample sets like IMDb’s ratings is that the range is actually quite small; it just varies from about 7.5 to 9.0 for all episodes. I’d also point out the number of survey respondents is not that many more than what we get on our own surveys (400+ in most cases, we often had over 200 ourselves. So as statistical significance goes its not much different). And given that IMDb is a more general site, and not Chuck specific, I would expect more casual viewers to be responding. Not to say that’s bad or anything, only that ratings are more likely to reflect general satisfaction with the show and less likely to reflect specific thought regarding specific episodes, regardless of the actual breakdown shown at the site.
        I might be more convinced of a meaningful trend if you could show me a survey of 10000+ respondents or something. But Sam most of your S3 apology is based on the same sort of anecdotal evidence as I can find for myself that goes against that season. I can tell you I literally don’t know a single casual viewer, not one, who actually liked S3. Some weathered the storm and liked what came later just fine. Some gave up on the show and only came back when I convinced them it was safe to do so. Some continued watching but never liked the show as much again. And some quit and never came back no matter how many times I tried to convince them to. In the end, the only thing that proves is that most of the people I know have similar taste to me. Such limited examples can never prove anything about broader popularity or quality. Nor do DVD sales, just ask anyone from Best Buy about DVD sales trends over the last five years, it ain’t pretty!

        I would also point out that we became a bit of a ‘shippers refuge during S3 after many were bullied off of other sites. I think right from the start we had more range of reactions here than many sites do; and as S3 unfolded, and ‘shippers were made to feel unwelcome at other sites, it naturally made those opinions harder to find at other sites. The NBC forums also had a strong contingent of ‘shippers to the very end.

        And of course Honeymooners is fluff! That’s precisely why I love it!

  18. Sam Carter says:

    “I admire Sam, Ernie, Joe and a few others, for braving the S3 negativity. I think a lot of those extra people who purchased S3 go into hiding when Chuckwin’s Law takes hold. The rest are watching iTunes downloads of S4.”

    Seriously, you need to get out more.. a lot of people out there, in other forums, think very low of S4. Not all Chuck fans are shippers. In fact, some of us find the Chuck and Sarah ship a bit annoying and quite cheesy. I do. My neice and my son do. Not everybody loves Honeymooners. Some of us think it’s pretty much fluff.

    • Putting aside the rather personal comment about needing to get out more (which I do. The blue sky looks really inviting 🙂 ), I’m on the side that didn’t think S3.0 was the next apocalypse. I made similar arguments about most people liking Goodbye by pointing to the ratings on sites that are not Chuck exclusive. You jumped in about the ratings of S3 episodes on those sites, which I agreed with.

      Statistics can be easily manipulated to lie, but they can also provide interesting perspectives not seen in bubbles of like-minded fans and haters. The iTunes comment was just a poor attempt at humor because the causes of ratings and sales numbers are extremely complicated.

      The ironic thing is the Reader’s Digest voters didn’t want to rewatch any of 3.01->3.10, yet when Joe talked about it to set up the defeat of the Ring, it became the biggest discussion thread of the RD. I’d be surprised if S4 arcs get this much discussion.

  19. joe says:

    @ATCDave:

    Joe you just hit on one of the big reasons why I put a majority of my dislike on the writing and story.

    I put this here at the end because that thread was getting ridiculously long. I couldn’t find the top!

    Yeah, Dave, I understand that. From that POV, it was a no-win situation starting with the train platform in Prague. I’m easier. For me, the trap was my intense and visceral reaction to the several “Let’s be friends” situations we saw.

    My bitterness over that was only assuaged (don’t you love how I worked my vocabulary into this? 😉 ) by going through S3.0 at a fast pace with the knowledge that, yes, they work it out well at the end.

    Actually, what really helps me is the knowledge that C&S are exactly the way I want them to be for the rest of the show – almost exactly half the entire series, excepting only Chuck vs. Sarah (but not the oddly misnamed First Fight). Then I can appreciate the climb out of the depths of S3.

    • joe says:

      @Oldresorter:

      Joe, a question for you. I know you like Morgan, did you like him more as a Chuck like guy, or more as the hapless, well intentioned guy he was more in season 1/2?

      Oh yeah – I *still* can’t find the top!

      Yeah, I like Morgan, but I don’t think it was because he became more “Chuck-like”, exactly. What was likable was that he grew up.

      Of course, that’s exactly what Chuck did nearly as soon as he was Intersected (how do you conjugate that verb, btw?). But then again, the show was about the characters coming into their own, wasn’t it? All of them grew up, except for Lester and Emmett (and Emmett had an excuse).

      So to answer your question directly, both. Much like seeing a childhood friend come into his own, I liked Morgan as a game-playing, Lothed-by-Ellie, immature, overgrown adolescent every bit as much as I liked him as the Buy More Manager, “You’re our only hope”, “Let’s save Chuck so he can propose to Sarah!” Morgan.

      Growth is good!

      • olddarth says:

        Sadly by your criteria for Morgan, Joe, Chuck regressed.

      • joe says:

        OD, I’m running out the door as I type, so I can only wish to respond to this in full.

        But right now, all I can think to say is — huh? Chuck matured greatly. I didn’t think that was in dispute! Morgan becoming someone who cares for others (his friends, most obviously, then for Alex) is what I’m trying to compare to Chuck’s growth. We saw Chuck, in S1, trying to become Ass. Man. at the Buy More. He failed, and Harry Tang took that position by default. Morgan took on the same challenge, then went one better by becoming manager – and a good one – of the Buy More.

        Those were the things I was thinking about. So I have to ask – how did Chuck regress by that criteria?

        Running!

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt how well things worked out could lessen the blow of S3 for me too. I might even tolerate it okay on re-watch. But I feel no need to find out when we have over four seasons of show I love already.
      And you know I put the no-win before Prague. I put it at conception. The chosen story for S3 was a no go for me from the very start.

    • olddarth says:

      He lost all those little things – that were actually big things – that made him a likeable character – sensitivity, empathy, common sense, etc

      The very things that Morgan picked up.

      And the very things that Sarah, and myself, valued above everything else Chuck had to begin with. Symptomatic of the Robin Hood writing that show used to build up one character at the expense of another.

      And Dude – you must have heard the saying – WALK! Don’t run!

      • garnet says:

        I may have had an epiphany, but isn’t the “loss of empathy, sensitivity, comon sense etc.” that we see, and in my case HATE, in Chuck exactly what Sarah is fearing and bemoaning (as she is the “cause”). In a way, we are seeing a character we love heading toward the dark side, and it hurts us to watch it almost as much as it hurts Sarah to be a part of it. The fact we feel so strongly about it suggests that we are heavily invested in Chuck as a character. It does make the comeback/payoff much more powerful even if we don’t like going into the “black box”.

      • joe says:

        You said it better than I’ve been, Garnet.

        OD, It’s a great tune!

      • olddarth says:

        Exactly Garnet. And Chuck never gets those qualities back.

        It started out as joke I made but became all too true that by all rights Sarah should have started falling in love with Morgan and married him instead of Chuck.

      • jam says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily say Chuck lost those qualities. In the beginning Chuck was a regular guy who wanted to get rid of the intersect, struggled to keep his spy life separate from his normal life, hated hiding things from his sister etc.

        By the time we reach S4, Chuck’s two lives had merged, and the episodes focused less on the normal side of life, which was perhaps a bit unfortunate. The stories we got gave Chuck (due to how they were written) less chances to demonstrate empathy, sensitivity and so on, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he lost those things.

      • atcDave says:

        Jam I agree, frankly I think the previous statements are ridiculous. The circumstances of the story changed and Chuck showed somewhat different traits as the series unfolded. But he was decent, moral and brave from beginning to end. I would agree they occasionally sacrificed some of his better traits for the sake of comedy (Curse and Kept Man) which I think was a mistake. But I never took those as anything more than an aberration, Chuck’s base character was well established and I see no reason to think he had changed for the worse.

      • olddarth says:

        We will have to agree to disagree.

        Especially on the ridiculous part.

        Obvious is the better word choice from my perspective.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry about the ridiculous. But yeah, I don’t think we’ll agree on much there.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thanks OD, for your permission to disagree. I was worried about that.

  20. Sam Carter says:

    @Rob:”I actually thought that Routh did a good job acting the part (especially after he went crazy). For his part, I believed that he was once a good guy that the CIA turned bad.”

    Agreed! I’m a big fans since Superman.

    “But, as you said Dave, it wouldn’t matter who was playing the part, I didn’t want to see anyone romantically involved with Sarah.”

    I was totally ok with it. In fact, when my 21-year-old niece watched Mask for the first time with me, she really enjoyed the Shaw/Sarah pairing. She thought it made the season more interesting. When I told her how some fans online totally hated that part of the season, she just laugh and said that the fanbase was probably mostly older guys, nerdy/geeky ones, who were just jealous that Brandon was so cool and handsome. My sister said something similar as well. Oh and she really liked Fake Name.

    • atcDave says:

      Yup, absolutely an older nerdy guy who is completely tired of the Hollywood studs always getting the girl. A huge part of the S1 appeal for me was seeing an ordinary guy I could relate to getting to be the hero and getting the girl. And among the things I hate about S3 is the idea the Chuck being a good, nice guy wasn’t enough to get Sarah. He had to become a more traditional type hero and start looking the part more to actually close the deal. That completely destroyed a huge part of what had been special about the first two seasons. Now to be fair, it didn’t end like that and I was well satisfied when they finally made things right in Other Guy. At least I was satisfied that the worst was over.

      But for the record, I know just as many women who loathed S3 as men. In fact, my wife likely hates it more than I do. She was ready to quit the series for good at 3.01. And she was using very un-Jodie like language about Mask.

    • atcDave says:

      I suppose I should add that Amy, Thinkling, and Faith were all pretty consistent in their dislike of S3. The only occasional S3 defender we have among us principals is Ernie; who is also an older nerdy guy (errr, no offense Ernie!)

    • oldresorter says:

      Sam – you did hit on the heart of the matter, even if you maybe were trying to cut down a segment of the fans for being jealous of Routh. Funny, I commented yesterday to Jeff that I was not bothered at all by Alias season 3, when the male spy married his LI, because Laureen Reed was very attractive, I was sort of joking but I did say it or write it at least. But, I do understand that she ruined the season for many fans. The difference is Alias was about ruining the season for fans, each season, that was the goal, then to pull it out at the end. To me, Chuck was about a guy who in no universe had any shot with the girl yet the girl adored him, and other than that, the show was pretty lame – IMO. After Shaw showed up, all that was left, was the show was pretty lame. In many ways, although I liked / loved season 4 and parts of season 5, I don’t think the show EVER really found its way back from season 3 departure from what it was all about in s1/s2, although it tried, mostly because the show struggled to find a definition for the Chuck character post Daniel Shaw, he moved around the emotional grid like a ping pong ball the last two and a half seasons. But sure, I understand you have a crush on Routh, it is very, very cute.

      • Mel says:

        Well played, Sir. Well played.

      • “Alias was about ruining the season for fans, each season, that was the goal, then to pull it out at the end”
        I’m not sure if I agree with that, because I’ve never thought about it that way before. And I can’t think about it that way now because I’m laughing too hard. That’s funny. The last season they killed almost everyone, but had a nice flash forward epilogue to “pull it out at the end.”

        *deep breath* One unique thing about Alias first season was the weekly cliffhanger. With Chuck, in S4 especially, the mission first half and the twist in the back half were fairly regular to where it sometimes looked like they were filming two half-hour sitcoms. (I’m not complaining or complimenting, just commenting.) Alias often had half one hour stories that split in the middle of an episode, forcing the action into the end of the episode with a cliffhanger. Later, it stopped the weekly cliffhangers, but instead used preview action scenes followed by 36 hours earlier (like Final Exam and Gobbler). Either way, Alias was about the suspense.

      • oldresorter says:

        Jeff – I think I liked Alias much more than you did, I liked S3/4/5 as much or more than s1/s2. My point was innocents routinely got killed in Alias. Sydney’s fiancee was killed by her boss in the first ep or two, her best friend was killed and replaced by a bad guy, her best male friend as well as just about every innocent character got tortured by the ‘dentist’, plus Jack ‘Mausered’ enough people to fill the average midwestern city. Then the one or two year amnesia, leading to Sydney’s man getting married to Laureen Reed, oh boy! I always thought Sydney and Vaughn were written and acted very in character during that season, it was just sad and depressing to watch. The show wasn’t nice. But the bad guys were really layered, interesting and exciting, and the action was top notch. Much as I shipped Chuck and Sarah, I was just kind of so so with Sydney and Vaughn, the show really had very little to do with their love. Plus, the Rambaldi device was so much more interesting than the intersect, albeit equally as convoluted by the end of the series.

      • thinkling says:

        Good one, Jason. Chuck was about a guy who in no universe had any shot with the girl yet the girl adored him. I like that. For me, though, as a woman, I can’t imagine any girl picking Shaw over Chuck. (It’s like Ellie said about Jill that she couldn’t imagine any girl picking Bryce over Chuck. Fantastic line, given that Bryce was Sarah’s ex.) As much as Shaw was the kind of guy Sarah had been around a lot, the only type of guy the spy world had to offer (maybe even more decent than some), he wasn’t her type. Inside Sarah was a girl wanting more, and she saw it in the Nerd who saved the ballerina and in game night in casa Bartowski and in a hundred other things that Chuck could offer that no other guy could. Not only that, she wanted to be more, more than just a spy, and Chuck helped her find and be that person. Shaw could never do that, because he was nothing but a spy himself. He had once been a husband, but by the time Sarah met him, he was driven by revenge. Chuck saw the girl inside Sarah. Shaw saw a spy, someone useful to him … a partner with benefits. Sarah would have been miserable with Shaw, just like Chuck being a spy without Sarah would have been miserable.

      • atcDave says:

        Ellie’s line about Bryce is very funny. And of course Sarah did choose Chuck over Bryce, like three times!
        And in the end, the way Sarah finaly chose Chuck over Shaw (that is, dumping Shaw like a hot potato once she realized Chuck was still the same guy) was what made it possible for me to just forget the S3 story and enjoy the show going forward. I think I’ll never like the misery arc, but I count it a small victory for the writers that in the end they let me decide it didn’t matter. Not that dismissing past episodes as irrelevant was likely their real plan…

      • Alias is actually a top-ten show for me. I loved the first two season, almost as much as Chuck (for different reasons). When I rewatch season 3, I find myself liking it against my will. I don’t own seasons 4 or 5. While the show was more about the action than the ship, the last two seasons got a little weird for me because of two things. The leads’ offscreen issues translated to awkwardness on screen, and more because Sloane was temporarily a legitimate good guy. (Just think if Shaw was left in charge of Team B after blowing up the Buy More.) I’ll probably still buy S4 and S5 someday.

    • uplink2 says:

      I have a question Sam. Are you who I think you are from other sites? Much of what you write I feel like I have read before. If so that explains a lot.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      I’m going to have to take your word on how attractive Brandon Routh is, some women I know like him, some don’t, but none of the women that I know who are fans like the Character of Daniel Shaw. The two women who got me into Chuck, both die hard fans from the beginning of S1, walked away from the show after watching Fake Name, and have not watched a episode since.

      You are absolutely right when you call them Big Shippers; S3 drove them away from the show, and they are the type of loyal fan that Chuck needed so desperately when the ratings started that final slide in S4.

  21. Wilf says:

    I must say how amazing I find it that there is so much heartfelt discussion and argument going on about a series that ended 4 months ago, and about an earlier season (3) to boot. And it’s so interesting to me. Now, I’ve never before got involved or interested in online discussions about a television series because I’ve never before been so caught up in, or regarded so highly, any other series before, so maybe this is normal, but I’m actually thinking that this maybe is an indicator of just how unusually fantastic a series Chuck actually was?

    Also, I never before read any fan fiction at all, or felt motivated to do so, but I have been reading quite a lot of Chuck fan fiction over the past couple of months and, again, I’m amazed that there is so much new stuff coming online for Chuck – not to mention the range of existing Chuck FF. Again, is it usual for a series which has ended to “continue” in this way, with new stories appearing almost daily? I’ve a feeling that, again, this is a tribute to just how darn good this series was.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t know about what’s “usual” Wilf but it does happen. Some shows generate huge amounts of fan fiction, some do not. I think the biggest determining issue has to do with emotional hooks. But other things, like intriguing settings or mythologies matter too. It’s not hard to find shows that have generated more fiction than Chuck, just go to the fan fiction.net home page and select television shows. It’s fascinating to me to see some of the shows that generate a lot, and some of the shows that don’t. Chuck is not one of the very most popular shows, but given its fairly short run and weak ratings I think it does quite well. And no doubt, there’s some really outstanding stories and writers in this fandom.

  22. Sam Carter says:

    @oldresorter:”To me, Chuck was about a guy who in no universe had any shot with the girl yet the girl adored him, and other than that, the show was pretty lame – IMO. After Shaw showed up, all that was left, was the show was pretty lame. In many ways, although I liked / loved season 4 and parts of season 5, I don’t think the show EVER really found its way back from season 3 departure from what it was all about in s1/s2, although it tried, mostly because the show struggled to find a definition for the Chuck character post Daniel Shaw, he moved around the emotional grid like a ping pong ball the last two and a half seasons. But sure, I understand you have a crush on Routh, it is very, very cute.”

    Thank you, yes I have a crush on Routh (many women and some men do), and you also have a crush on Yvonne, right? Cute.;)

    Funny, to me the most interesting part of this show was Chuck’s story, the intersect mythology, the action, the music, the comedy, the actors.. the nerd getting the girl was never the reason why I watched. I like Zac and Yvonne, but Chuck and Sarah were too corny for my tastes. And I can’t comment on Alias because I never watched a single ep.

    • thinkling says:

      That explains a lot Sam, like why you seem so out of step here. To whatever degree we like or dislike S3 or any other season, or whether we like Shaw or not, we do get that CHUCK is not just about Chuck, but about Chuck and Sarah, something Fedak said himself many times. He said that it soon became apparent [in S1] that the show was about not only Chuck’s journey but also Chuck and Sarah’s love story. Many times he said that Chuck and Sarah are the heart of the show. We get that, and it’s a central theme of our blog. Now, as evidenced by most posts we write, like you, we also like the mythology, the action, the music, the comedy, and the actors. Yet rather than engage in positive discussions about those things that we all like, you continually lob insults at us, on our blog, because we like the aspect of the show that its creators have declared to be its heart. Maybe some other readers also like those other aspects better than the central relationship, but they give us the unchallenged freedom (on our blog) to acknowledge and love the CS relationship, and we all have genial discussions about all aspects of the show. I like that.

      What you do strikes me a little like coming into my home and commenting on my deplorable taste in decorating and criticizing my children. You can say those things of course, but they are not generally well received.

      • atcDave says:

        Thank you Thinkling.

      • authorguy says:

        Yes, the love story is what I watch. I can’t imagine watching any show on TV that didn’t have a pairing as strong as C&S, or Jaye and Eric from Wonderfalls.

      • jam says:

        I didn’t start to watch Chuck for the romance, but after S2 it was pretty much the only reason the stay.

        I did like most of the Volkoff/Frost storyline in S4, but that’s mostly because Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton are awesome.

      • atcDave says:

        I liked pretty much every aspect of Chuck from the start. However I wouldn’t ever choose a show based on a romance. I originally saw Chuck promoted as a spy themed action comedy, which is exactly up my ally. But I think I fell in love with the characters, particularly Chuck and Sarah, almost immediately. For whatever reason, I think I decided as early as Tango (1.03) that Chuck was a show that would “fix” the broken television romance model. If I had known then what I know now about show runner Josh Schwartz I probably never would have been so optimistic. And I don’t really mean that as a slam, it’s just I eventually learned of his background with teen soaps and fondness for triangles. Two things that really don’t figure into my life. I particularly don’t care for the overused love triangle trope; I never get how anyone can see involvement with a guest star as anything other than a waste of time. So I probably would have been much more cautious in my enthusiasm had I known. But there was no sign of such trouble in the first seven episodes; and I was hopelessly hooked on the show, and was starting to ‘ship Charah even though I had no clue about such terms yet.

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t always ship people. And romance doesn’t have to be a part. I watch Burn Notice, and don’t particularly care about the romance. I wasn’t such a strong Bones shipper. It was fine either way. I probably shipped Hodgins and Angela more. With Castle I hope it sticks. It’s time, but the delays didn’t bother like with S3 of Chuck. I like a variety of shows. Romance is nice, but not required for me to watch a show. In fact sometimes if it looks like it’s going to be teen soap and triangles or long drawn out drama, I pass.

        But with Chuck and Sarah it was obvious very early on, in stronger ways than even the writing implied (and it did) because of the chemistry. I think Chuck and Sarah were meant to be shipped. Doesn’t mean that floats everybody’s boat, but I think it was intended all along.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with all of that Thinkling. There may even be a few shows where I was a moderate ‘shipper at one point; but burned out on it when the wt/wt was drawn out to ridiculous extremes, yet there was enough I liked about the show to continue watching (JAG comes to mind). SG-1 had a couple relationships I would have liked to see pay off, but it wasn’t a big thing in my enjoyment of the show. And on Psych I love laughing at what on odd couple Sean and Juliette make, but that completely is not what the show is about.
        Obviously Chuck never could have been that, I was too invested too early to just let it go. It had to either pay off or it would break the show. And I think in anything prior to this Internet era it would have been a broken show; that is, without some reason for assurance over that Olympic break I don’t think I would have made it.

      • joe says:

        Good point, Thinkling. I can’t remember the last couple I ‘shipped for, besides C&S. Maybe Ross and Rachel, but even that stopped long before Friends did. I did ‘ship for Eric and Donna (That ’70s Show) for a bit, but not for too long.

        I never did get House and Cuddy. Never made sense to me; they were far too antagonistic. Of course, House was antagonistic with everybody, so maybe that’s not a good reason.

        The Mentalist has let me down a bit, too. Both the Jane/Lisbon and the Van Pelt/Rigsby ‘ships are history and even the Cho/Summer romance (which I thought had a chance) is over. Well, maybe Jane will get with Lisbon, but if it happens it’ll be on the series finale – I can tell. The show is on a very (almost painful) traditionalist path that way.

        And even the Tony and Ziva ship on NCIS went nowhere this season. Maybe even backwards.

        Gee! What’s up with the writers? It can’t be that hard to write an interesting couple.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, Joe, there’s always Ozzie and Harriet, Pete and Gladys, you know. Okay just kidding. Dave and I have frequently mentioned Thin Man and Undercover Blues. On the writing a good couple part, I think CHUCK did a great job. I loved S4, and the more it progressed the better I liked it. And S5 … I really loved CS married and consider it a gift that we got to see it.

      • thinkling says:

        Authorguy, I never saw Wonderfalls, but it sounds interesting. I’ll have to buy the DVDs.

      • I would recommend Wonderfalls to anyone who loves strong chemistry and a good solid romantic pair going through a certain amount of angst for their relationship. Like all the really good shows it was cancelled early, while they were still shooting the second half of the season, so they rewrote the scripts to resolve the romantic tension and tie off a lot of plot threads in a 4-episode arc. The guy who created Wonderfalls also created Pushing Daisies, but the romantic tension there can’t be resolved. If the hero touches the heroine at all she dies instantly. That show was also cancelled early, and also had many plot threads resolved, but they couldn’t figure a way to allow them to touch even then. (I did, of course, but they never ask me for advice, these Hollywood types. Always a mistake.) I’ve occasionally considered a Chuck/Wonderfalls crossover story, but the level of writing would have to be so high I’m not sure I can do it.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I think the CBS formula does require slow or no movement on romance. I’m not sure why, but it seems like their whole slate of crime procedural types are markedly non-romantic.
        Tony/Ziva is the only one I would come close to caring about, but it seems clear that will just never happen.
        Some of the USA shows have more potential. But even they usually move at a glacial pace, I often get bored long before anything develops.
        We really did get a rare treat with Chuck. I hope we see more such things happen in the future. Although I said earlier I don’t seek out any shows for their couplings, it turns out I’m really quite the softy, and I’m easily moved by something sweet mixed in with my action and humor.

      • Rob says:

        It’s funny. I’m a big fan of NCIS and Psych. I actually enjoy watching the tension between Tony/Ziva and Sean/Juliette, and prefer when there is that tension. I also agree that the Chuck/Sarah relationship had a chemistry that was hard to deny. Unlike the first two, I’ve been cheering for the C&S relationship since the beginning. Honestly, I’m surprised to hear anyone say that Chuck wasn’t about the C&S relationship. Even if TPTB intended something different, the pilot made it clear that the chemistry was going to lead them together.

      • Mel says:

        If I remember correctly, the pilot originally had an additional female character intended to be a PLI for Chuck, but her part was cut off after TPTB saw the CS chemistry (or Zac/Yvonne chemistry).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Mel, I believe Kayla Hart was her name. The part was cast (Natalie Martinez), and some original publicity photos were done with her in them. But they decided so quickly that the chemistry between Zach and Yvonne was special that they re-wrote the Pilot to eliminate her character. I guess the night club scene was shot while she was still on set, and some viewers have suggested she is visible in the background of a couple shots. I’m not that sharp eyed, and I’m not about to do frame by frame analysis; but I have seen some of the photos featuring Zach, Yvonne and Natalie.

        At this point, it just boggles the mind to imagine what a different show it would have been with that character. Supposedly the idea was Sarah and Kayla would represent Chuck’s conflicted interests between a normal, safe life; and the life of danger and adventure. His interests would switch between the two woman as he found normal or heroic more appealing.
        I can only hope Kayla would have disappeared after a season or two anyway; but I am so, so, so, thankful that Schwedak saw the error of their ways and did away with her before we even saw that show!

      • olddarth says:

        I’ll add these to two pairings as worthy ones to watch.

        John & Aeryn from FarScape. Had chemistry that matches Chuck & Sarah’s. Plus the characters and their journeys were handled very well. Not perfectly but oh so close.

        Peter & Olivia from Fringe. Initially they had little chemistry together but as they went through their expertly crafted story journeys their eventual coming together felt real and was handled in a nicely understated way. Plus they actually talked to each other like real adults!

        And most importantly both pairings took place against the background of well thought series mythologies that provided the requisite dramatic impetus.

    • The big question, Sam, is do you ship Sam Carter and Jack O’Neill?

      • Sam Carter says:

        I don’t ship anyone. But I liked the idea of Sam Carter and Jack O’Neill getting together at the end. But I was never obsessed about it.

  23. Gord says:

    For me S3 was a season of extremes – it had both some of the worst episodes of Chuck ever made (Mask, Fakename) but it also had some of the best episodes (Other Guy, Honeymooners, Role models and the Subway/Ring2 finale).

    There were also (again in my humble opinion) some very good episodes such as the Angel/op Awesome arc, Nacho platter, the much maligned in this thread episode of Beard, Tic Tac and American Hero.

    I know not everyone will agree with my list and perhaps for some of you the list of good episodes is much shorter or even non-existent. However, for me S3 with the exception of the 2 absolutely horrible episodes I have named above is rewatchable for me.

    • Gord, I agree and think several S3.0 episodes get a bad wrap, especially Angel of Death, Nacho Sampler, and Beard. I liked Pink Slip and Three Words, since they are pre-OLI, but their bad wraps are understandable. If Beard was in S2, with Casey about to call for Castle to be destroyed, I wonder if people would complain as much. If AoD was in S2, I think people would have been wowed by the dancing and Nurse Walker so much it might have been a favorite. If Nacho was in S2 or S4, it would have been funny and even considered a little above average, instead of part of what many classify as an unwatchable arc. For me, when judging an episode, I try to ignore a couple of moments that are ‘victims’ or ‘benefactors’ of the arc. Those moments matter when judging the arc as a whole. Sounds good, but it doesn’t always work, of course.

      A lot of those S3 episodes I enjoy on rewatch if I’m in the right mood. Episodes like Honeymooners and Other Guy are always good for me.

      • thinkling says:

        I have to brace myself to rewatch a lot of it, but I do find something to like in every episode. Sadly it’s the backdrop of distance and misery between CS that keeps me from appreciating those things as I normally would. For instance, I really really don’t like PS, but I can’t not laugh at Chuck trying not to flatten Emmett. Some episodes would be good if I could omit just a scene or two. It’s the overall tone of the season, especially in the CR that sucks all the fun out of it.

        I even appreciate some of the story they’re trying to tell, which is why I created the black box.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree there are some good moments, even whole good episodes in S3. Angel of Death and Operation Awesome are particularly strong. Pink Slip though is dark enough I would never like it in any season. Nacho Sampler could have been great, there was certainly a good story there; but Jeff you mention “those moments”, and I just can’t stand that image of Chuck drinking alone at the end. And of course that’s all a function of context. Had Sarah actually been right there miserable but beside Chuck I might have felt completely different about the episode. I get that Chuck’s isolation was meant to be part of the story. But in the context of the greater story, it had already become too much for me. The show was just not fun for me at that point in the story, and Nacho Sampler just stands out as yet another downer ending in a long line of downer endings.

      • uplink2 says:

        My issue with that is that you can’t watch those good episodes out of context. Interestingly enough that of those episodes you mentioned only 1 really has much of Shaw in it, Beard and just a hint of him in Three Words a scene that started him off on the creepiness scale before we even saw him. Every episode without Shaw is better than every one with him in the first 13.

        Tic Tac is a great episode except to me it is ruined by the last scene in the cab. Now many say that was Sarah going to hear Beckman’s plans for her but that was reversed by 3.17 and the interrogation scene.

        Pink Slip is where the contrivances and the OOC behavior began and the great scene at the end of Three Words that actually gave me hope was ignored and meant nothing.

        To me the stench of the rest of the season in particular Mask and Fake Name is so strong that it makes the arc unwatchable for me. To me there are only 2 episodes in S3 that make my top 35. Honeymooners at #1 and Subway/Ring. But many make my bottom 10 with the two worst being mentioned above. That is why I simply skip it during rewatches and follow Ring 1 with Honeymooners.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny I haven’t watched even Angel of Death since the actual end of S3. It is easily my favorite from the front arc (excluding Other Guy which I see as a special case); but the baggage that comes with the greater context it is set in just makes it not so appealing to revisit. I’m far more likely to load of Masqurade or something, even if it’s a weaker episode, because the mood and atmosphere is just so much more fun.

  24. Sam Carter says:

    @uplink: “Stargazer”

    Yup.. and? How is that relevant to this discussion?

  25. herder says:

    My original plan was to start commenting again at the start of season four, sorry for being absent for so long but sometimes life intervenes. I have read all 270 comments and wow, amazing how much emotion is still present over something that took place some two and a half years ago.

    I am brought to mind of Hunter Thompson’s obituary for Richard Nixon (Joe is the one most likely to get this) in Rolling Stone where he said that he hated Nixon, his wife hated Nixon, his children hated Nixon and that brought their family together. Leaving aside the poltitcal implications, and I make none, as a non-American it would be both impolite and inappropriate to make any but I did enjoy HST, it would seem that this site was the most anti season three around and it did bring us together. Not to say that other points of view were shy in making their views felt, but I think it is fair to say that season three, at least the first part of it was not well received.

    I tend to view the show as almost four seperate shows: seasons one and two- an ordinary guy thrust into an extrordinary situation beset with challenges both at work where he was very competent but uneracheiving and in his new life where he was suprisingly able. Season three seemed to be a big change, he was embracing the new life, in the first two seasons he was the damsel in distress and Sarah was the rescuer, in season three they tried to change it around to he was the becomeing the moving hero and by necessity Sarah was diminished. I think this was a failure. Season four they changed again and it became a spy and his love story with very little real life interactions, the Buy More became pretty much irrelevant although family tried to take it’s place. Then it changed again, althought the template in season five was the same as in season four, my view is that they imported some of the weaknesses from season three, writing the season to arrive at a given point, in this case the beach.

    Lets say that for me season three was a big disapointment, the reasons have been amply set out above but my own view is that they really set the tone in Pink Slip which was an episode that I didn’t laugh at at all, Three Words was a bit better but not much. The next five were pretty good, even Natcho Sampler and contained one of the funniest bits of the whole series, the “I decapitated a bear” bit. However the decision to end so many of the episodes on a down note was brutal. That and the Shaw romance going on so long were killers, that spoiled for me the episodes up until the very end. Other Guy, when it came was too little too late, an example of over promising and under delivering.

    To use another example, the movie Princess Bride which was one that the referenced from time to time, Wesley and Buttercup wanted to be together but they couldn’t for whatever reason but you knew the wanted to be together, where in season three was that underlying story. The audience wanted Chuck and Sarah to be together and the showrunners relied on that but where did they show that both Chuck and Sarah wanted to be together? Chuck wanted Sarah from the end of Beard, but Sarah, except for asking him to run in Pink Slip, a whistful look in AoD and a bit of jealoulsy in Mask didn’t until the end. It was a failure of storytelling, surrounded by an unconvincing OLI.

    I understand that some have been able to mine a story that satisfies them with this season and truth is there were some good and very good parts to the story, but for me the overall story didn’t make the grade.

  26. SarahSam says:

    Someone decided to have a “Season that doomed Chuck” discussion and didn’t invite me? Blasphemy I say !! Lol. The plot contrivances, stunt casting, formulaic storytelling have all been eloquently relayed here by many of my favorite Chucksters. I enjoyed many of the episodes and parts of others, but that’s normal right? Yvonne made me love Sarah Walker. Season 3 made me despise her . It wasn’t just the Shaw relationship. It was how Shaw diminished her. Her actions and reactions to Chuck after she began her relationship with Shaw…as though she had no mind or fortitude of her own. Sarah admitted Bryce was a “mistake” and yet here she goes again. I understand what joe is saying. Sarah is messed up. These two are really messed up. They probably shouldn’t be together . They really hurt each other because they both feel unworthy of the other. Chuck and Sarah coming together made me happy , only because of the misery it emerged from. After the giddiness and squees subsided, one wondered how would they resolve the new obstacles of shattered trust that emanated from both moving on? Apparently, they resolved them off-screen, except they didn’t. Can anyone imagine your soul mate being someone you struggle to communicate with? One whose real name you don’t even know? One that you are afraid to broach with personal topics? It’s messed up. No matter how close they get to ” normal” they never seem to quite get there. In her wedding vows, Sarah recited that Chuck was ” a gift, a gift she deserves” and I found those words ironic. I didn’t feel the same way, but I don’t matter. The final arc of their story ended in an ambiguous tone in which many see hope, joy and a happy future. I saw it differently. If Fedak has shown me nothing else with S3 he has certainly shown me that in his mind,Charah love is sisyphean. Sarah Walker now has no memories of her time with Chuck and Chuck has the Intersect once again, but as long as they’re together right? It is one of the all time television love stories right? It’s messed up.

    • atcDave says:

      You know I agree that S3 was very damaging to both main characters, they looked like complete idiots and showed no faith in each other. but don’t make it worse than it was! Sarah never said she deserved the “gift” of Chuck, she said she would work to deserve him every day; I’d call that a pretty nice thought!

    • joe says:

      Now this is a discussion I can’t resist! Hi, SS.

      Sarah said Bryce was a mistake? I don’t recall. She certainly said that kissing Chuck (when they were about to die at the end of Imported Hard Salami) was a mistake. They said a lot of things in the course of 5 seasons. Not all of them were the truth.

      Can anyone imagine your soul mate being someone you struggle to communicate with? One whose real name you don’t even know? One that you are afraid to broach with personal topics? It’s messed up.

      Struggle? Yes. Every day. That’s called marriage and I speak from experience. Communication is one thing you just can’t take for granted! 😉

      And it’s funny you mention about not knowing someone’s real name. Coincidentally, that happened to me too! It seems odd at first, but there’s a number of people who like to maintain some on-line privacy, and they’re real-life name is sometimes part of that, even when it gets personal. When trust is earned, the secrets become very few and far between quickly enough.

      And besides, instead of making Chuck think of her by some other name, Sarah made Sarah Walker her real name.

      And lastly, I don’t think the fear of broaching personal topics ever goes away for some of us. That’s being human. The question for a couple is, do you talk anyway?

      I know I’m sounding a bit flippant, SS. Sorry! But I mean to say that the way people – lovers – interact is very broad and extremely varied. Ever see Fiddler On The Roof? The relationship between Tevya and his wife Golde seems more than – well – strained, until you realize that they really do love each other. Chuck and Sarah may not be your ideal. They made plenty of mistakes. I sorta like the way they stumbled and sometimes fought through it all anyway.

      • Sarah said it to Casey in Imported Hard Salami
        Casey: Same bit with you, huh?
        Sarah: What’s that supposed to mean?
        Casey: You need me to spell it out? Fine, you fall for guys you work with. First Bryce, now our boy Chuck.
        Sarah: Bryce was a mistake, and I haven’t fallen for Chuck.
        Casey: Yeah, whatever you say. And just so we’re clear, sister, Not Interested.
        So it was in a conversation in which she was lying to herself and Casey, for what it’s worth.

        Sarah Walker was not her birth name, but it was her legal name, as shown with the pre-nup.

        A couple things are true in almost all TV shows and movies:
        – Diseases and injuries are never like the real world. Everyone heals too fast, and unusual conditions, like amnesia, do whatever the plot requires.
        – No one communicates well. IF they did, every WT/WT would be resolved in a dozen episodes instead of 4-10 seasons.

  27. garnet says:

    And also for completeness, cuts heal without scaring.

    I think that Horn-Dog Chuck was perhaps the worst thing for me to watchas his behaviour was beyond not nice, and I think of Chuck as a good guy, but this was painful. Sarah apparently moving on with Shaw was just about as bad. I also wish that they had taken the high ground and not violated the “Sarah Rule” with the fairly pointed mentioning of the time in Shaw’s appartment/couple’s massage etc.. We know that Sarah must have done some dark things in her career, but I had thought that her behaviour through seasons 1-2 indicated that she was attempting to be “worthy” of Chuck and this blows this all to …. Unless it can be seen as a sign of just how hopeless she was regarding the situation. Still, I don’t like it.

    • atcDave says:

      I didn’t like any of that either Garnet. I remember being absolutely furious at Chuck’s behavior in First Class, and it just got worse through Fake Name. It was not a fun time for me to be watching the show.

      • What was wrong with First Class or Nacho Sampler, vis a vis the Charah relationship? It’s not like Chuck went out of his way to romance Hannah. Even the end of the Mask has her throwing herself at him first. I only truly despise Fake Name for the dumping scene at the end.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I saw exactly what you say you don’t. Chuck was wayyyyy to friendly with Hannah, and happy to see her in the end. Just a few weeks after he had told Sarah he loved her and they talked about cleaning up messes. And all the while Sarah is still showing her love the way she does, as the protective lioness. So Chuck goes and flirts with the new girl…

        Sorry, it completely turns my stomach. Between First Class and Fake Name Chuck was permanently diminished in my eyes. By season’s end I was able accept him as a mostly decent guy again; but he was never again my favorite character on the show. He became a horny lying slime-ball for four episodes. Blecccch.

      • atcDave says:

        So short answer would be, I had a visceral and strong negative reaction to First Class. I hate that episode.

      • BigKev67 says:

        The whole Hannah thing was just bizarre. From international corporate jet-setter to working in a Buy More? And in the same town as some guy you randomly met on a plane? And then to follow that up with the even more preposterous Sarah/Shaw hook up? It didn’t bother me that they were both trying to move on per se – but I did wonder why I was bothering with a show that was suddenly writing scripts that my A Level English teacher would have failed me for….

      • I imagine she had a lot of money saved up and could take a step down in one area to step up in another. After all, Sarah did the same thing, for the same reason. I would have trouble imagining her leaving her job for Chuck, but since she was already fired I can easily see her following him.
        I never once saw any interest in her on his part. Charles Carmichael flirted, but I think Charles Bartowski was pretty horrified at the success of that flirtation. Not every downside of being a spy has to be a Red Test or a burned asset.

      • atcDave says:

        Horrified with the result? He was smiling and happy to see her at the end! Marc if he had been horrified I might have felt completely different about the whole Hannah situation. A crazy stalker complicating his life while he was trying to figure out how to fix his mess with Sarah might have worked for me.

        But that isn’t how I read it at all. Chuck was trying to move on. And I completely hold that against him. I would say at the very least it was too fast for decency. And it was dishonest at its core; not only were he and Sarah truly not over each other, but even worse he was in no position to offer any kind of honesty or stability to Hannah.

        For me it was all magnified by the fact I had previously related to his character to one degree or another. But from First Class through Fake Name I thought he was a slime ball.

    • OldDarth says:

      Word Kev.

      And I was far more disappointed with the Chuck/Hannah PLI than the Sarah/Shaw one.

      It made no sense for Chuck to enter into a relationship, especially with a civilian – if anyone knows how the spy world detrimentally infects normal life, its Chuck – he has his hands full trying to become a spy.

      Does not compute on any level.

      Though at least Chuck and Hannah had chemistry. Props to Zac and Kristen for carrying it off from that aspect.

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