Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Future Dream Arc — a.k.a. Thinkling’s Normal Arc

One of the consistent themes of Chuck has been the hostility between the spy world and the real world — the threat of the spy world to Chuck’s real/normal world. The Intersect opened a portal between the two worlds in the pilot. Then on the beach, a feasibility experiment began in which the two incompatible worlds would be made to coexist. “You go back to your own life. We’ll protect you, and you’ll work with us. Tell your friends and family nothing to keep them safe.”

In the finale, the feasibility experiment ends where it began, on the beach. The portal is finally closed, and Chuck and Sarah emerge victorious, though not unscathed, into the singular existence of a normal life.

That experiment between the beaches produced my favorite TV show of all time. In the balance of the two worlds, Chuck gave us two journeys and a love story that surpasses any other. (Maybe that’s just me gushing about my favorite show … but you’re still here, too ;)) As the spy journeyed toward normalcy and the regular guy toward heroism, they fell in love and built their own world, a delicate balance of the spy world and the normal world.

The more the series and their love story progressed, the higher the stakes and, therefore, the greater the threats to Chuck and Sarah’s world. In Marlin the CIA threatened to separate Chuck from his family and friends (and from Sarah). In Ring, Chuck’s spy life wrecked Ellie’s wedding, and the portal between the two worlds seemed to be closing, threatening to separate Chuck and Sarah by sending them back to their respective worlds. In S3, the spy world threatened to separate Chuck from himself, and therefore, Sarah from the man she loved. In S4, for a time, the balance held, until the spy world threatened to separate Sarah from Chuck, as it had his parents, through a mission to bring down Alexei Volkoff. After another period of relative peace and pre-wedding bliss, the spy life threatened to separate Chuck and Sarah through death on the eve of their wedding.

Season 5 gives us another golden period and sets the stage for the final threat — and the cruelest separation of all — to Chuck and Sarah and the life they are trying to build.

During this golden period, as newly weds, Chuck and Sarah begin to dream about their future. Four episodes in particular entice them away from the spy life, toward a normal life: Business Trip, Baby, Kept Man, and Bo. Join Faith and me as we look at this Dream/Normal Arc.



Golden Period, indeed. Bookended by both beach scenes, we experienced a love story, a journey and an awakening. Sure, for a time the spy world and the real world could co-exist but it, like Chuck and Sarah’s “fake” relationship, was like their first kiss, a ticking time bomb. It was always going to come to a head, and in the end all we could hope for is that our two heroes would find their way, together. And they did, but before time started counting down, we got to experience a little “Happily happy ever after.” I’ve said it once, said it a thousand times, there’s an intimacy, a trust and a chemistry between Chuck and Sarah in this “Future Dream Arc” that is unrivaled and quite frankly addictive (and I don’t just mean #SexyTimes!). It’s more than just the tease that was their sizzling chemistry in season 2, or the pure joy of Honeymooners and season 4, but beyond what we have experienced before and yet secretly wished for. There’s a sense of realism, a speckle of truth, and for Sarah, an uncharted but welcome destination.

We begin with Business Trip. If I were to recommend a single episode from season 5, Business Trip would be it. Not just because of the scorching bomb-defusing scene (these guys sure do know a myriad of ways to defuse a bomb!) but because it illustrates best how far Chuck and Sarah have come as a couple. There’s no anxiety, no tension and no uncertainty between them. Instead we get Chuck and Sarah wading in the pool, in that playful way couples do; we get #SexyTimes, albeit interrupted by Beckman! (Duck!); we get Chuck and Sarah contemplating a safer future for their future family; we get Sarah wanting a non-spy friend; and we get Chuck without the hand wringing doing what needs to be done.

A far cry from, “I don’t really have anyone in my life who…cares about me” (Best Friend). Now we have Sarah more open and more vulnerable with, “Chuck and I have been a little sad that we aren’t normal people. I’ve been having a hard time with the fact that I have no real friends. But I look around here, and all of you today and I realize that because of Chuck, I do. Nobody in the world is closer than we all are so thank you.”



Yes! You can’t help falling in love with this couple. Of course we already were, but … wow. The growth is stunning. And I would agree, that as a single episode, Business Trip showcases it best. The other episodes in this arc just keep adding to it. I love the Chuck and Sarah vibe of S5, the intimacy, trust, and chemistry, as Faith so aptly described it. And of course love. S5 contains my favorite CS moments amongst many such moments to choose from throughout the series.

Normal is kind of the theme that runs through this whole episode, with Morgan back to normal, Jeff(!) back to normal, the (sort of) normal Buymorons, and Ellie and Devon the normal couple they’ve always been. Amidst all that normal, Business Trip sets up the Bartowskis’ first serious longing for a normal life: Sarah’s enchantment with the Mommy and Me class; her voicing the twenty thousand dollar question, “Do you want to not be spying;” and their general enamoredness with normal at the Buymore convention.

The montage at the end is one of the most powerful scenes of the series. It contrasts the warmth and color of normal life with the cold and gray of the spy life. Within the walls of casa Bartowski, our favorite extended family gather to share a meal, with laughter and open conversation about their day. On the other side of town assassins gather to plot their demise, and Casey does what he has to do to protect the family.

The montage hands down the final judgment on the feasibility of the golden experiment between the beaches. These two worlds can’t really co-exist. Eventually you either shut out the spy world, or you get shut out in it, and it destroys you. Until Chuck and Sarah close the portal for good, the spy life will always threaten their real life, like the mournful strains that haunt the joyful gathering at the end of Business Trip.

Well, that sounds sort of depressing, but the tension between their worlds has been there all along. It’s just that now they have more to lose. However, the episodes in this Dream Arc are joyful, fun episodes. Until the final showdown, we get to watch Chuck and Sarah romancing normal (and each other) and planning their dream. Which, as you all know, I firmly believe they ultimately live to the fullest!



Speaking of, within the family dinner (love!), there’s an interesting juxtaposition between her words, her sentiment and the underlying menace that is the spy life and what Casey (and by extension Sarah) just did to protect it. The look between Baldwin and Strahovski says it all. Even in this, the future dream arc, there are sinister clouds threatening.

Off to Baby. Baby is a bit more of a minefield compared to the rest of the episodes within this arc. While I’m not going to rehash all the inconsistencies, or perceived inconsistencies, I do acknowledge them. Still, I’ll focus on the intent behind the episode: namely what the past has to do with the future.

Sarah’s mom has been one of those holes in the story that we have always wanted filled. Apart from the brilliance in casting in this one, it’s just a kick to see Sarah with a baby. I’ve long since wanted Chuck and Sarah to have to babysit a baby and see their familial interaction with it. Well, wish granted. We get a glimpse of what Sarah would be as a mother: protective, fierce and loving. It’s an extension to what she showed us with Chuck in the early years but far more fierce. And as a bonus, we get a glimpse of their future “home,” with them in it.

Chuck: “What would my life be like in this amazing home, with the most dashing man I’ve ever met?” Indescribable.

It’s amazing to think that it wasn’t that long ago that Chuck solemnly exclaimed in Suburbs: “It was so close to being perfect, the way I had always pictured it would be that I realized what was wrong with that picture and it was us. Sarah and I are never going to be anything more than what we are right now.” Now he’s living the dream and Sarah, well…

Sarah’s right there with him: “I want this house, I want the life that you had envisioned for us, I want every single part of it.” TBD. “I really want the life you imagined for us [Chuck]. But if we go back to the CIA it’ll be secrets and missions that we have no control. I gave my life to the CIA for a really long time, and I chose it over my family and my friends and that was the right thing for me to do at the time but I’m different now. Things have changed. You’ve changed me. I don’t want to go back.”



Baby is probably my favorite of S5 and one of my favorites of the series. So rich, so many things to love. There’s no way to cover them all, but like Faith, I absolutely love the glimpses of maternal Sarah (love it when she reassures the baby, it’ll be okay, just before she descends the steps spraying the air with machine gun fire) and the Bartowskis in their home together.

The episode, even though it wasn’t even a little gray cell in the Schwedak brain when the pilot was written, sheds some light on Sarah’s mindset in her early Burbank days.

In Budapest, Sarah walked from a dining room full of dead people into a nursery with stuffed animals and a crying baby … another portal between the spy world — darkness, danger, deceit — and the real world — innocence. I love the look on her face. Confusion. Wait a minute. Babies don’t belong in the spy world.

Quite unexpectedly, that mission brought her face to face with normal life, the life that every little girl deserves. The life she insured for the baby. The life she had unwittingly forfeited, when she chose to go with her dad. The life she came to value but felt that she would never have.

… And the life she fell into, when she walked into the Burbank Buymore to deal with a very bad man in possession of government secrets, only to encounter a regular guy, who took the time to rescue a desperate father and his ballerina daughter. There she encountered another innocent who got sucked into the spy world, when someone else opened the portal. Her brush with normal in the baby mission strengthened her resolve to preserve Chuck Bartowski’s normal life, never imagining that she would one day be a part of it.

Her present day revisiting of the Baby Mission, and finishing it for good, strengthens her resolve to leave that world behind and live the life she deserves … a normal one. It’s time. She and Chuck need to get out of the spy life. So they carve their initials and lay claim to their house, their dream, and their future.



I’m not as convinced as Thinkling in the congruence of the plots but I do recognize the message. We’ve long since delved into Sarah Walker’s character: she’s complex. She is, as we saw in Business Trip, the best; a chameleon, albeit at times cold-blooded at that. She is a world-class spy to the very definition and in Baby, kick ass to boot. But she’s also got the same qualities we see in Chuck: heart. The same Sarah Walker that saved a baby, the same Sarah Walker that overlooked a by-the-book-mission and dared to see inside Chuck, is the same Sarah Walker that we see as Mrs. Bartowski today. It’s among my biggest problems with “piece of Cake,” in Nacho Sampler. Yes she is good at following orders, it’s among the things that illustrated her growing attraction to Chuck (catapulting into committing treason for him) but she was never above questioning those orders. Difference being, before she was alone, an island. If and when she would disobey orders, it becomes an all or nothing proposition. No longer. In fact that was one of the thematic elements they tried to stress within Baby and beyond. And that aspect, that connection–the fact that she’s no longer alone, makes a difference in her life and in her [immediate] future. Which of course culminated in the finale.

So it’s interesting to me that their decision to leave the spy life altogether becomes its own all or nothing proposition. She’s right though, they can only coast in having it all for so long. Sooner or later danger (and that aforementioned ticking time bomb) comes calling. Still it’s nice that for a time we got to imagine them in that house, with that life. Picnics, candles, romance. A fantastic and totally underrated glimpse into the future.


I’ll pop back into Chuck Versus the Baby one last time for a couple of random comparisons with the Chuck and Sarah of old, like Sarah’s honesty when Chuck asked what she was going to do once she found Ryker, “I’m going to kill him, Chuck.” I shouldn’t have loved that as much as I did, but it was just so honest, and so right … for something so wrong. Chuck worried, but he didn’t freak out or have nightmares over it. I couldn’t help thinking how far they’ve come from Mauser. I’d say that’s a real indication of trust … not for most couples, but for Chuck and Sarah …

There were also a couple of moments I especially loved about the dinner (besides all of it). I love the scene of Chuck and Sarah at the head of their table with their family gathered round. I think of all the dinners in that apartment when Ellie and Devon were the grown ups, so to speak. Now it’s Chuck and Sarah’s place. They are all grown up and hosting their own party. I love imagining all of the future Bartowski family dinners that Chuck and Sarah will host in their home for years to come.

The other glimpse is of Sarah Bartowski, not with a baby, but with Molly. She looks so pleased to go sit with Molly. She is relaxed and very much herself. She doesn’t have to rely on her handler skills to relate to people anymore. It’s just Sarah with a little girl, talking about a stuffed dog and laughing over a card trick. These are priceless moments that give us a glimpse of what the future holds for Chuck and Sarah.

Now, thoughts of children and babies actually bring us to another aspect of married life, which is babies and children. Kept Man gives us another wish fulfillment: Sarah pregnant, or thinking she might be.

I’ll just say right off the bat that I wasn’t fond of Chuck’s exaggerated Care Guru persona. I found it unappealing and a little off for his character. Something more subtle would have worked better for me. Other than that one caveat, I really liked the whole faux pregnancy with Sarah’s rather obvious signals and Chuck’s cluelessness. I thought it was realistic, humorous (minus the aforementioned care hyperbole), and sweet. There’s something very intimate about a couple sitting in the bathroom together watching their first EPT. And trying to figure out the instructions was so Chuck and Sarah. And then, it’s just really hard to beat Sarah sitting at a computer, picking out baby names, and confessing that part of her was hoping she was pregnant. This from a woman who, little more than a year ago, pummeled Casey to the mat over the mere thought of children. Either way, Sarah knows that babies and the spy life don’t go together.



Since this is the future dream arc, with a glimpse into that future allow me this simple digression: what would Sarah Walker-Bartowski be like as a mom?

I think we saw a bit of it, Mama Bear. But more than that I think she’s going to be a neurotic mom. She’s going to need Chuck every step of the way because so much of it is uncharted territory for her. Chuck at least imagined someday having a normal life and his own family but Sarah? Never. I can see her going postal when preschool playmate Danny messes with her little Lindsay in the playground sandbox. I’d be concerned about her going all stealth and spy-ish but it’s ingrained in her DNA. Needless to say, Mommy Sarah would have been a hoot. “Someday.” (Side note: we should have known that the future wasn’t going to be as smooth sailing, or would come as quick as we’d have hoped. There’s foreshadowing in that line, and in that “Someday”/carving scene).

I do agree with Thinkling though that the fake pregnancy was lovely. Yet another one of my wish lists item granted. To be honest the thing that stands out to me most in Kept Man wasn’t the pregnancy bit, but Gertrude. I’m an unabashed Gertrude Verbanski fan and in this one she shined. None more so than in a banana hammock request that was so wrong that it was so right. But as this is the future dream arc, I’ll try to stick to the topic at hand.

It wasn’t that long ago that both Chuck and Sarah, while looking at Clara with the family in Seduction Impossible freaked out at every little change [related to their wedding]. Now we have them freaking out about something else altogether: a baby of their own. I loved the “I wore my seatbelt line.” It is so Sarah to be protective and yet so fierce. She deserves to be a mom and a bit of all of these future tidbits is pure wish fulfillment (our wish for her). She wants it so much, and we can’t help but want it just as much for her. For that alone, Kept Man was worth seeing.

Still in the end, I was happy that she wasn’t really pregnant (yet). They weren’t ready and that ever-present spy world looms ahead. That said it was great to see an advanced preview of how they’d react when the time was right.



Oh, yeah. I loved the innocent seatbelt line, together with the horrified looks from the rest of TeamB. And I’ve always had fun imagining Sarah the mom. How I would love to see that! Meanwhile, though, we get Sarah tromping through the woods toward impending spy danger and worrying about their kids … yeah, the ones they don’t have yet … and the almost inevitable possibility that one day their kids’ parents won’t come home.

Just getting out of the CIA isn’t good enough.

She wants to quit spying.

In fact, it’s keeping her up nights. And it makes her go to the door fully armed to get the paper. As it turns out such precautions were unnecessary … this time. Chuck isn’t so lucky when he collects the paper a few days later.

I loved everything about the opening scene when Sarah blurts out what’s bothering her (no need to workshop it with the punching bag first), then just spills her plan. Our girl knows what she wants, and she’s going after it. This is another part of the stunning Bartowski package. Chuck gives Sarah the freedom to dream and desire. She is a full partner in building their dream, and she has really blossomed in this newfound freedom.



I would categorize it more than freedom (which it is), but confidence. With Chuck there is a safety net for all her hopes and dreams so in atypical Walker, she acts and plans and lives [a full life]. We get a bit of advanced preview of Sarah being proactive (seen fully in the finale) in Bo and it is enticing.

So quit the spy life, security Internet firm, changes. While I’m sure bad guys everywhere will miss the skimpy outfits, the future bun in the oven will be secret-service safe and that’s all that matters. I have to admit, I found all the changes and the ease at which it is decided unsettling. I guess I expected and desired a more Tooth-esque hand wringing with every step of this marriage but this isn’t the Chuck and Sarah of old. After the wedding, everything was just clearer, easier, more loving. They have grown out of their single insecurities and have become secure both as an individual and as part of a couple. That will serve them well in the rough times ahead. Especially Chuck.

The only caveat is Casey. It becomes obvious as the episodes progress that John Casey has a different, separate future from our favorite couple but no less loving. I can no more imagine him being chief google-r than he can see himself as the third wheel in the security firm. But thankfully Gertrude is waiting in the wings, or so we discover.

As an aside, not having been a teenage boy in the 70s, I didn’t really understand the appeal of Bo Derek as stunt casting here, though I did enjoy a laugh at Sarah teasing Chuck. Plus a reminder of Morgansect wasn’t welcome to begin with so as a whole this episode ranked lowest of the four in my estimation. Still it was interesting to contrast guinea pig Morgan and his transformation and reformation to what will be the biggest damage the intersect will have wrought in the series. And a good reminder that alls well that ends well (if you have faith).



Sigh (in a good way). It is the non-Tooth-esque-ness of S5 that I have loved the most. It makes sense to me. The closer Chuck and Sarah got to marriage, the more secure they became, and that’s as it should be. I love the married couple they became, and I certainly agree with Faith that it will be an anchor for them in the coming storm.

With Chuck there is a safety net for all her hopes and dreams so in atypical Walker fashion, she acts and plans and lives [a full life]. We get a bit of advanced preview of Sarah being proactive (as seen fully in the finale) in Bo and it is enticing.

I really like that, so I’ll run with it a bit, because this atypical Sarah Walker has become the typical Sarah Bartowski. Beginning at the beginning of this arc (or even in Zoom or the end of Cliffhanger!) Sarah has embraced and pursued her normal, married life with Chuck. Her growth in S4 was breathtaking, and it was only the beginning … the foundation or the launch pad for beautiful things to come. From there Sarah progressed from being comfortable to being proactive in normal life. She was a great spy and very proactive in her field. But she has wanted more than the spy life for a long time: since she was a little girl (as per the dream house reveal from Zoom and the tears of regret in Baby); since she asked Casey if he ever wanted a family and children (Crown Vic); since she asked Carina if she ever thought about a different life (Three Words). And now she has found that life and become quite comfortable loving and being loved, thinking about the whole package with Chuck: the dream house with the family doorframe, a safer life … and maybe babies. It’s not too surprising that she would be proactive in normal life, too. And it’s just been a real kick to watch.

Besides being so delightful to watch all season, Faith mentioned this Sarah as a preview of the Sarah we see in the finale. I agree (I think). I’ll say it this way. We often speak of things as gone but not forgotten. Soon, Sarah Bartowski will be forgotten but not gone. That is, even though Sarah will have forgotten who she is, underneath what she thinks she knows, she will still be who she really is … and Chuck will still be her safety net.



As she is his. This enables him to be her husband during the most difficult time of his life. Though he might be tempted, in fact anxious to fight, yell and scream, he recognized that’s not his role, that’s not what she needed. He’s been her husband, her anchor and her safety net long enough to recognize that. This future dream arc ushered the door into that Chuck: the Chuck that would be there for her without strings, without questions, without angst and just be what she needed, what he has been for her in these past few years and most notably in this future dream arc. “You’re my home Chuck, you always have been.” In that same vein, Sarah is empowered to trust, to dream, to wish. To feel devoid of that which she embraced and relished in this future dream arc because Chuck has given her freedom, even if she doesn’t recognize it or him.

With that we go full-circle. The future dream arc isn’t a mirage per say, but it isn’t tangible, not yet. It’s the building blocks to what they will be; who they have become to better live the life they’re destined for. As this is a story, it is lived in stages: first you walk through the sand, then you dip your toe in the ocean, then you put in your whole feet and then you jump right in. For Chuck and Sarah this advanced preview is like that warm but comfortable feeling that you feel with your toes in the sand as you get closer to the water. It is TPTB’s blatantly obvious narrative as to where the story is headed. We can choose to ignore it, or we can embrace it…much like the beach metaphors (heh). But Chuck and Sarah have a pre-set destination, and this future dream arc is just that, a future. Provided of course they survive the next arc (pum pum purum! I kid, we all know that I have no doubt that they do, together).

In the meantime, it’s tantalizing. It’s tantalizing to see the future dream house, the maybe babies and the growth and the intimacy between Chuck and Sarah. It is something to be treasured. Even beyond the promise, on its own it’s utterly charming and entertaining.



Hold those lovely thoughts for just a beat longer.

Our heroes are in the home stretch, with their eye on their dream. I mean the champagne is chilling, and they have an appointment with a realtor. But they let the bad guy get away, and he slipped back through the portal and seriously interrupted their dream.

And I was so into that dream. Cheshire grin and all. I loved the whole package throughout the arc, starting with the family dinner in Business Trip. I reveled in the family times and the love and laughter, but I heard the haunting melody, and I saw the cold, gray world that threatened the dream. Tum da dum tum tum.

The final scene in Bo is the bookend to the final scene of Business Trip, only without the warm fuzzy part. Casey and Sarah go into the breach again to fight for their family. The cold and gray of the warehouse are all too familiar. Enter 20 or so bad guys with machine guns; cue the foreboding music … and all of a sudden it’s feels a lot like the Alamo. (Awesome use of music in both of these scenes.)

Sarah does the only thing she can do to survive. She uploads the buggy Intersect. It is a huge gamble, but everything is on the line. The Intersect, the thing that started everything, is the one thing that has the power to save the dream … or destroy it. Which will it be?

Faith told us (and I dedicated an entire post to it). TPTB spent this entire arc (and season) showing us where the story is headed, painting Chuck and Sarah’s future. They do indeed have a preset destination, and just to make sure we remember that future and hold on to it, they show us again on the Bullet Train. Though the scene in the bullet train compartment is technically part of the final arc, it is actually a recap and a reminder of all that we’ve seen in this future dream arc: a husband and wife enjoying their marriage, its friendship and its passion — a couple pursuing the dream that’s so close they can taste it. This is the most intimate scene of the series, and appropriately so. It is our last glimpse into that future. The drawing is the guardian of the dream and the promise that Chuck and Sarah will reach their final destination.

I know some would have preferred a more unequivocally happy ending (like me, for instance), one that required less … faith. Nonetheless, the future dream arc is the promise of all they hope for and the substance of their future, yet to be seen.

~Thinkling and Faith


About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
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187 Responses to Reader’s Digest Rewatch: The Future Dream Arc — a.k.a. Thinkling’s Normal Arc

  1. joe says:


    Grow old along with me.
    The best is yet to be,
    the last of life,
    for which the first was made.

    – Robert Browning

    All this fantastical stuff, and a relationship that’s just to good to believe in at the start. Yet it all became so real.

    Thanks for that inspiration, Thinkling, Faith.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Joe. I love that quote. The last is much less frequently quoted the last of life, for which the first was made, but I think it’s my favorite part of the quote. 🙂

  2. uplink2 says:

    Great post ladies. I enjoyed so much of the analysis of this arc. As you can probably tell there is a ‘but’ coming. And that in many ways is the essence of this arc and maybe the analysis. It’s beauty, it’s joy and it’s love and the inevitable ‘but’. That is what makes so much of what happens next so painful. It is a glimpse of “I have been to the promised land, but I might not get there with you.” And in stories as in life many times people don’t.

    I have said many times that I believe ultimately their love does get them there but my argument is it was a journey they and we didn’t need to take for the payoff we got. The payoff of that love is most definitely there but for the show it wasn’t. That is for me at least the ultimate shame of the arc that follows this one.

    Like so many times in this series, the payoff we got for our investment in things like this arc simply didn’t measure up. The anguish of the name reveal didn’t enhance or move the story to a better place, It wasn’t necessary, it just hurt and my investment was thrown away for nothing. So was it here though maybe not so poorly done and maybe not to such a worthless extent. The name reveal was the shows biggest failure in a half a season of them IMO and though the finale certainly wasn’t a failure by any means it’s just my investment in this arc wasn’t given a worthy payoff when that final ‘but’ was played out. Four more words, “Let’s go home, Chuck.” and the beauty of this arc and future would be assured for us all to see happily.

    • resaw says:

      “Four more words, ‘Let’s go home, Chuck.’ and the beauty of this arc and future would be assured for us all to see happily.” Can’t agree with you more, uplink2. The final scene left me confused and uncertain.

      But, I do want to say thank you to Faith and Thinkling for your reflections here. I like the image of the portal between spy life and normal life. Upon review of season 5 ( watched Chuck vs the Santa Suit tonight so I have to catch up to the rest of the arc you just reported on) I felt again like I was urging Chuck and Sarah onward to that normal life myself, like so many others were. But, I also feel somewhat held back from watching the upcoming shows because I know how the finale turns out and I can anticipate the disappointment that I will feel once again. What to do?! Fortunately, I have Sarah vs Finding Herself to set things right in the end!

      • thinkling says:

        Heh, thanks, Resaw. The four extra words would have been nice, but I added a few more thousand, for good measure. 😉

    • Johnny Boy says:

      I absolutely agree with you Uplink2. The payoff was way too little. I am not particulary upset with the ending of the finale because the entire series demonstrates that no matter what, that Chuck and Sarah belong together and will find a way to make that happen.

      The scenes with Quinn draging a helpless Sarah with him on the bullet train and then him erasing her memories were very harsh and (at least for me) difficult to watch. The finale was good, but IMO it was not enought to make up for this. I think this is where alot of the negativity arises around the finale. Because so many of us fans of this show, believed in and went on Chuck and Sarah’s journey to a normal real life, and we were right there with them for each step. And so many feel that normal Sarah was taken from Chuck (and all of us as well), and we are never shown that to our (my) satisfaction. I know it was implied, but it was too subtle, and easily overlooked especially on a first viewing, and with the emotions that this show evokes.

  3. atcDave says:

    Really great write-up. You picked Chuck and Sarah’s growing security as a major theme, and I agree entirely. I think that was a wonderful part of season five. It actually surprised me a little that we got such a positive view of marriage from this last season; but it sure did, and I loved it.

    • thinkling says:

      I agree, Dave. S5 was exactly the Chuck and Sarah I always wanted to see. And I would much rather see the story we got (amnesia and all) than a lot of internal angst to generate the drama. I’d rather see an external threat to a great relationship (or life) than an angst torn relationship finally limping across the finish line. In other words, I’d rather see amnesia damage than affairs or relationship turmoil or a lot of the other stuff Hollywood ties to pass off as entertainment. We got a very compelling story with a happy ending that just quit a beat or two too soon for some (a lot) of us. That doesn’t mean that it’s not hard to watch. It is, but it sure beats some of the alternatives.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I certainly wouldn’t have ever wanted more typical night-time “drama” material on Chuck. But I think I would have given up almost anything else to get a more settled ending. Even just the “four words” mentioned above.

      • anthropocene says:

        Thinkling, this is spot-on. I didn’t see the whole amnesia plot in S5 as cliche because, as others have pointed out, the whole premise of the Intersect was writing—and sometimes erasing—memories. It didn’t seem unreasonable that after 5 years of messing with this, it might bite back at some point.

    • joe says:

      I agree too. I suspect that if I looked back to what we wrote after S4 ended about what we wanted to see in S5, much of it came to pass – especially about Chuck&Sarah’s relationship after marriage. Remember how we said a little “Nick&Nora” would be nice? I think we got that, minus Asta. We definitely got some Hart to Hart in there too.

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    Loved this piece, and not just because it makes me look like a paragon of brevity. 😉 That is until my next recap/review comes out. Season 5, since the end of Business Trip has reminded me of the final 6 of season 2, where the pace keeps building and you know things are coming to a head. With season 2 it was Chuck’s search for Orion that triggered the chain of events that ended in the intersect room with the words, “Guys, I know Kung-Fu”. This season it was a race to see if Chuck and Sarah could make it out both alive and together, and it started when Decker crossed the threshold into casa de Bartowski and arrested Casey. It was thrilling to see the Charlseses take on their nenesises (nemesei ?) in an attempt to free themselves from the last holds the spy world had on them, and seeing the future they were working for made it all mean so much more.

  5. ww1posterfan says:

    Great write up, Thinkling and Faith. Love the “Siskel and Ebert” format. Here are a few random additional thoughts. I can’t seem to fit brevity into my vocabulary. 🙂

    Although Zoom is primarily considered the first ep in the “Morgansect” Arc, it is the episode where the first glimpse of the future is introduced vis a vis the house with the red door and white picket fence. It’s our initial view of their married life and it looks pretty, dare I say, Awesome. No more “crap communicators”, far from it. It also ends with one of Sarah’s many great speeches to Chuck throughout the season. “Well, so what? We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t get married because we thought life was easy. We got married so we could be there for each other when things got tough; so we could work through things together, rich or poor.” This episode is rich in foreshadowing as are all the episodes of the “Normal” Arc and really all the episodes leading to the finale.

    “Business Trip”: To add a little more to the whole intimacy concept you touched on, on second watch, the whole bomb defusing scene is gold. Chuck’s expression when Sarah calls Jane buying time for him to defuse the bomb and distract Jane while stalking Morgan is precious and hilarious. It’s a little hard to catch because of the set up with Sarah’s long, elegant leg resting over the steering wheel, but the whole scene just oozes intimacy, familiarity, and trust- besides making me laugh. I don’t know if it was intentional, but Chuck’s expression just adds a whole new dimension to the scene.

    Another one of my favorite scenes that, again, gives us a glimpse into their future “normal” is the Pirahna scene in “Hack Off.” It’s not part of this episode arc, either, but it’s one of my favorites and I have to mention it. Sarah is still learning new things about Chuck and sees his joy in doing his “cyber thing.” If I were a betting woman, I would wager this is where she starts to formulate (probably subconsciously) her new business model for Carmichael Industries.

    “Baby”: This is my favorite episode of the season. I think this is a huge episode, both for Chuck and Sarah as individuals and as a couple. In hindsight, it completes the relationship foundation that needs to be in place for them to weather the destructive storm about to hit them. It resolves the last secret Sarah (according to Sarah) has kept from Chuck. Sarah acknowledges and wholly accepts she does not have to solve problems alone. This is the counterpoise to “Curse” where Sarah lectures Chuck that there is no curse, he is not fated to be alone or like his father, and that if these things happen it’s because of the choices we make and nothing more. Being a huge free will proponent, this resonated with me tremendously. She decides to follow her own advice, finally. And, if you buy into tea leaves and all, the writers tell us that the “Bartowski Curse” ends with Chuck and Sarah. Back to “Baby”, I really like Chuck in this episode. It foreshadows his willingness to trust Sarah and give her her space in solving her problem. He is strong and assertive, but sensitive as well, and approaches his desire to protect her with an out of the box solution with Carmichael Industries supporting Sarah as a client. This is the version of Chuck I adore and root for. I was thrilled to see him confess his opinion that she was wrong to go after Ryker alone. He demonstrates to me that he is ready to shoulder the load. Everyone has mentioned the romantic scene in “their” home and the carving of their initials. Sarah’s words, “Things have changed. You’ve changed me. I don’t want to go back” are actually quite prophetic. This is actually an important concept to Fedak, because he makes mention in one of the interviews that people can leave an indelible mark on you, i.e. change you, regardless of whether you remember why or not…, thus, “Sarah Bartowski will be forgotten, but not gone.” Lastly, this episode has one of the most loving gazes Sarah ever gives Chuck, and I never tire of re-watching that scene with Sarah and her mother.

    There is very little I can add to “Kept Man.” I, too, wish they had toned down Chuck’s “CARE” induced temporary insanity after giving him such a strong showing in “Baby” but , they didn’t. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s outburst to Chuck about quitting the spy life, and of course, picking out baby names. “Bo” had more plot holes and inconsistencies than “Baby” from my perspective, but I fear that’s my general disdain for the whole Quinn/amnesia arc bleeding through. While finding it to be one of the more humorous episodes, I came away with many more questions that will never be answered. If Quinn knew who Morgan was why did he not pursue him in Burbank sooner? Sarah was ready to make the trade of the glasses for Chuck, but Quinn’s goons said the plans had changed. Why set up an ambush when he could have had his Intersect glasses back much more quickly and with less hassle? On the plus side, we see Sarah planning their new future and completely at peace with their decision. Unfortunately, they let the bad guy get away.

    • thinkling says:

      No need to be brief around here. Excellent comments as always, ww1. I didn’t know Fedak had said that about indelible marks, but that is certainly what the finale showed us and what Yvonne played so splendidly. Nice catch on the maturity of Chuck in Baby and how it foreshadows the Chuck on the beach. I also attach huge significance to her words that Chuck changed her. It’s foundational to understanding what we see in the finale … and to what comes after.

      I’ll just stop there and say I agree with everything you’ve said.

      The season really is full of tea leaves, isn’t it. But I was just shocked(!) that a proponent of free will asked me to buy into such a thing 😉 Just kidding. I had to laugh, though, since the two concepts are in adjacent sentences. It’s the writer’s job to cast the tea leaves and make it look like the characters are exercising free will.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Ha!ha! I hadn’t thought about that particular juxtaposition. I guess that’s the difference between fiction and real-life. 🙂 Just to clarify as well, Fedak didn’t use those exact words. He does discuss the concept in some depth and the fact that the Sarah in the finale is not a Pre-Season 1 Sarah ….that her emotional memory is in tact and her coming to grips with it. It comes up at about the 30 min. mark in the ChuckTV Podcast #105 interview with Fedak–just in case anyone was curious.

      • thinkling says:

        That makes me feel really good … since that’s the premise of my story. 😀

    • joe says:

      I’m with Thinking, Posterfan. Brevity is a virtue we do not practice here. 😉

      I really enjoy reading your takes on those S5 episodes. For me, another one occurred early on, in Zoom (5.01), when Morgan and Sarah successfully con that business man, Roger Bale, after playing squash. They do the finger-tickle, fly-away hand thing like old buds. It seemed a little out of character to me the first time I saw it, but now, it seems just the right way to show how their relationship has evolved and especially how Sarah has changed.

      It’s another one of those little things in S5 that show us how Sarah is exactly where she wants to be.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Totally agree. And, they are old buds. I mean Morgan dug a tooth out of her arm for goodness sake. Which is why she initially gave Morgan the time of day in Castle with his montage after releasing her choke hold on him and gave him the courtesy of an explanation as to why his efforts were for naught (or were they?). 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I loved that scene in The Zoom, Joe. I find Morgan and Sarah’s evolving friendship hugely satisfying. He dug a tooth out of her arm, calmed her butterflies, and gave her permission to marry his best friend. She stood in the gap for him, when the Intersect attacked his brain; gave him a place to stay, when Casey kicked him out; and accepted him as a friend, warts and all (Bo).It’s perfectly done, too, because it’s obvious to everybody that there’s absolutely nothing there, but friendship.

    • Faith says:

      Well said.

  6. resaw says:

    I just rewatched “Baby” and for me there is no question that this is my favourite of season 5 episodes. Two brief scenes in particular really hit me: the first was Chuck’s delight over the doorframe, which is a precursor to the end of the same show when Chuck and Sarah write their names on it, and also to when Chuck takes Sarah to the same house in the finale and she sees their names carved into that frame. The second scene was when Sarah and Chuck arrived at their home to see Sarah’s mother and “sister” safe and sound. As we’ve come to expect, Yvonne’s ability to convey Sarah’s emotions is just outstanding and so evocative.

    • joe says:

      Wonderful scenes, those, Resaw.

      It’s a little amazing, isn’t it, that those are such normal things. Carving names in a frame, coming home to family. Everything that Chuck&Sarah went through over the years (which were pretty fantastical and face it, seldom realistic) somehow made us appreciate those little things in a new way. We couldn’t help but life through their eyes, and life was pretty wonderful.

    • Faith says:

      If I were really reaching I would examine the correlation between the carving and how Chuck and Sarah throughout these last 5 years have been indelibly marked by their experiences (and by extension, so are we). In a way her recognition and the act of carving itself is its own metaphor…not to mention a bit of foreshadowing (again reaching).

      Then again as a concept it’s not really new, Mo Ryan said it best in her post-finale review: “And that was the lovely subtext of the finale: The people we love have an effect on our lives, an effect that nothing can ever take away, not even super-complex spy devices.”

      • resaw says:

        I really liked Mo Ryan’s observations, and I want to believe what she and all the other positive interpreters of the finale wrote, but it was not the reaction I personally experienced. There is a hint, a clue, a definite hope that Chuck’s undying love will begin or is beginning to reawaken Sarah’s love for him, but I wanted just a little bit more than I got. Sigh….

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I think it was Jason that said (something like) shortly after the finale.

        “In order for us to have a happy ending, based on the information we were given and the information we have (sketchy though it may be), we have to take a leap of faith. Just like Sarah.”

        Unfortunately, it’s a leap I can’t take without Sarah Bartowski.

      • mynameisjeffnimlost says:

        Sarah was a little too busy kissing her husband to take a leap of faith with the viewers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think we had all the information we needed if we were open to seeing it as opposed to being explicitly told in dialog, something I think would cheapen the ending, at least for me. If you watch the final montage where Chuck tells Sarah their story and can’t see that the Sarah we came to know in season 4 and 5 is back, laughing, crying and openly showing emotion in a way that even season 1 Sarah would never have let herself do, I’m sorry, but it is there, and it is very different than how Yvonne has portrayed Sarah throughout the finale to this point. This is the picture of an emotionally open woman, the woman Sarah became with Chuck, experiencing love and joy hearing about the life she made with Chuck (and perhaps remembering some of it as it is retold). This is not a detached spy hearing about the lives of complete strangers, she is connected to and re-connecting to that story and Chuck as we watch. I just don’t see how you can view that scene in any other context. Add in Sarah asking for the magical kiss (whether it works or not) and I don’t see how anyone can assume that Sarah just gets up and walks away or rejoins the CIA or … does anything other than start to rebuild her life with Chuck. We saw as early as the roof with the intersect glasses that she very much wants that life back, she’s just not sure she can have it or do it without her memories of how she changed and was changed by Chuck. That final sigh on the beach where she decides to take that leap of faith and trust that Chuck can help her find herself again is where “Sarah Bartowski” re-emerges. Her reactions upon hearing their story is, at least to me, about as definitive as you can get., no leap of faith required. And while I understand some people wanted more I think, like the proposal in the hallway at the end of Push Mix, words would just have ruined the power of the images and diminished the emotional impact of the moment.

        I understand not everyone will agree, and I’m sorry more people can’t appreciate the end the way I do, so I’m not trying to dismiss anyone’s reaction as illegitimate or “wrong”. It is what it is. I just want to put the other view out there for people to consider. It just gets a little tiring sometimes, constantly hearing how much something I appreciate and love and wouldn’t want to see changed sucks. So no offense intended, but at least consider that to some of us, we got a very satisfying ending to the show we love.

      • joe says:

        I don’t see how anyone can assume that Sarah just gets up and walks away or rejoins the CIA or … does anything other than start to rebuild her life with Chuck.

        You know, Ernie, that’s a great point. I (for one) was so busy looking at the situation from Chuck’s POV, full of question’s and assumptions and suppositions, that I failed to see it from Sarah’s. To make matters worse, I tend to forget that Chuck is most definitely not the insecure dweeb he once was.

        And I don’t mean he was just insecure about Sarah, either. He’s risen to a lot of challenges beyond that.

        The virtue of re-watching is that we’re reminded of those important changes in their character.

      • mynameisjeffnimlost says:

        Ernie, I go back and forth. Originally, I liked the idea of just a few more words. Sometimes I still do. But I also like the imagery in that finale moment so much, I’m not sure I’d want it changed–just like the proposal scene. Sometimes I want the 3-5 more words not for myself, but just to make other people happier with the ending. While that might have helped some, I suspect others would want 5 more words after that. Hey, I would have liked a back 9 episodes, but I’m very happy with what we got.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree with Ernie’s comments. I think all the required proof was in the episode, Sarah Bartowski is back and happy to be with her husband, even if some of the details of the last five years remain fuzzy for her.
        In fact, after several re-watches, I think she’s already had a new “ballerina moment” on the rooftop of the concert hall. Even if she never completely remembers falling in love with her husband the first time, I think Chuck’s selflessness and courage won her over all over again when he decided to save a concert hall full of people; and from that point on, Sarah was fighting to get back to what she lost. The beach completed the process. Even if the memories are not 100%, she is emotionally back to where she was in Bo. She will never return to the agency and is ready to start the life she and Chuck were planning all season long.

        But all that said. I was one of those who didn’t get it at first. It took me about 30 minutes to figure all that out. So I completely understand everyone who wanted more from the ending. I will always remember the massive disappointment I first felt as the scene faded for the final time. I think those four words we’ve mentioned here several times (“take me home Chuck”) would have made such a huge difference for so many viewers. I just have to consider the actual execution we saw to be a failure. I’m content for myself I got the happy ending I wanted. But there are so many fellow Chuck fans who are still struggling with that end and fail to see the “happy” in it; I just don’t believe it can be considered a successfully told story at the end.

      • joe says:

        Jeff, Dave, great points. I’m not one to mess with canon (or second guess TPTB) and my journey has been similar. I wanted more assurance that “they’re gonna be alright.” than I saw at first, and I’ve had to look hard to find it. Thinkling’s FF really helped, too.

        But the imagery of the finale plus the details we were provided earlier (mostly in the Morgansect arc) do just that – they tell us things will be alright in a time frame left up to our imaginations. That’s not too bad.

      • uplink2 says:

        Interesting thoughts Ernie. I’m actually not surprised as you have always seemed to see more of the writers intent than I do. I have never argued that what we need isn’t there, I have posted exactly the opposite a number of times. It is all there. We shouldn’t have to look for it so hard in a series finale though. But my point is would those four words, “Let’s go home, Chuck.” really have diminished that scene or the entire finale journey in the least? I honestly don’t think so. For me it would have allowed me to easily say goodbye to these characters who have meant so much to me. When the finale aired, I didn’t feel that. My first reaction was “That’s it? After all the agony we just went through they’re going to leave us there?”

        On one issue I have to agree with DR, if TPTB were so hot to leave an ambiguous ending saying many times “we had to leave it ambiguous. Let the fans decide etc…” that the ambiguity was exactly what they wanted, then why did they run around in interview after interview telling us exactly the opposite? That Sarah is back to the same place as Chuck, that the memories are still there, that she is falling in love with Chuck again and they go on to a great life. If that is their belief why would it have been so hard to actually show it? In some ways I’d have more respect for them if they kept to the idea it was ambiguous and never told us their vision. But what we got here again is more damage control like we saw in season 3. Many fans did not react well to the finale and they felt the need to clarify what they were trying to show us. But wouldn’t if t have been better to actually show us that vision rather than tell us about it afterwards? If they have to tell us then they failed in showing it with execution. Big Kev said it well back then. He can never get that moment of his initial reaction back. His initial disappointment at not being able to say goodbye. No amount of analysis or extra video can give us that moment of peace and happiness I certainly for one wanted. By adding those four words I could have had that. I could have said goodbye to them as they move on to their new life together. Though I sincerely believe it happens, I wanted to feel it at that moment and I never got that chance. I was denied that moment and special feeling of completeness with their story.

        I’m sincerely glad for you and Faith that you are happy with it but a moment I really wanted to experience didn’t happen for me and I will have to live with that fact. I never got to say goodbye to Chuck and Sarah Bartowski like I wanted to. And ultimately the saddest part is except for the stuff on the season 5 DVD and the extended finale I haven’t rewatched a single episode since the finale. I hope someday I can but the excitement simply isn’t there because their journey ended incomplete for me and that fact will always haunt my rewatches in the back of my mind. Not only did Fedak not let me say goodbye in a fulfilling manner he also took away my desire to enjoy their journey again at least for right now.

      • I thought the ambiguity TPTB wanted was whether or not the kiss worked, not whether or not Chuck and Sarah would have a happy ending. I don’t remember a definite answer about if the kiss worked. The interviews clarified they thought ending was happy. They had to do that because it was more obvious to them than the audience. I blame that on the show production bubble, which we’ve talked about before.

        While I’m much more satisfied with the ending than most here, I’ve “barely” (for me) watched any episodes since watching CvS and Goodbye a bunch of times the first week or two. I rewatched the first half of season 1 and Beard->Living Dead specifically for the Reader’s Digest Rewatch. I’ve also watched Baby and the extended Goodbye a couple times and Bo once. Almost 20 episodes might sound like a lot, but in the first six months of last year, I watched all 78 episodes at least twice and the back half of season 4 a lot more than that. I just haven’t felt inspired to watch Chuck lately, but my reason has nothing to do with the ending. It is because there was an ending. I felt the same way when Bab5 ended. After a year or so, I felt like watching again and watched 200 episodes of a 110 episode show in about two weeks. It’s a grief/dealing with the loss-thing for me. This place gives me a Chuck fix in a different way. In a few months, I’ll probably watch all 91 episodes over a couple weeks.

      • uplink2 says:

        The problem with that Jeff is that whether the ‘magical kiss’ works or not really is a minor element of that scene and the end of their journey. It is more about trust, love, and yes hope. So the entire ambiguity issue that TPTB were so hopped up on was for one small story element? Then why do it? Whether or not all her memories came back because of a kiss based on an idea from Morgan Grimes is simply not worth leaving out the payoff many were hoping for. I really think that is minimizing things and their intent way too much. The ambiguity that I see is where do they go from here? Is hope fulfilled? Do they leave together? Do they get out of the spy life, settle down and have kids? How does Chuck deal with having the new Intersect? How does their love get them through and what future do they have? And that is my point. They took away the “art” and “beauty” of that ambiguous ending by telling us what happens next. If you are going to do that then why not show it? I agree it was clearer to them than to us but that in and of itself shows where the writing was lacking. It should never be clearer to the writer than the viewer. It should all be there for folks to see. Now in many ways it is but to me and many others you are forced to look way too hard for it for a series finale. The fact that they came up with the extended version says that the story to get to the beach was incomplete the way it aired. There was more ambiguity there than even they intended. Again that shows rushed planning and storytelling. But with the simple addition of four words you can relish in the ambiguity because you see them head off on that journey together. I don’t really need to know exactly what their future entails as long as I’m secure in knowing they face it together with a certainty. Going back to Faith’s ever present mantra of “trust the love, trust the show” It allows me to do both. But with what we saw I only end up trusting one thing, the love. It simply reiterated my belief that you can’t trust the show or at least Fedak to deliver a complete and well executed story that leaves me satisfied because I get the payoffs I’ve invested in seeing. The magic of the moment I had hoped for simply never happened here and that will always be a disappointment.

        Personally I would have much preferred that Santa Suit never happened and they extended the final arc out one more episode. To me Shaw being behind the whole “conspiracy” arc was so incredibly lame. The plot holes there are enormous. It was simply a way for Fedak to bring him back. It did not advance the overall story and was just a way for Shaw, the greatest villain in Fedak’s mind, to beat up on Sarah again. Remember Fedak said that he didn’t know whether they would have enough time to tell the story of Sarah’s mom this season and therefore ever. But he never said anything like that about the return of Shaw. So one can gather that bringing Shaw back was more important to him than finishing Sarah’s back story with revealing her mother. And then he didn’t even kill him. That bewilders me. Sarah’s mom was #1 on my list for season 5 from day 1 but the return of Shaw was only worth it if he died a horrible death preferably at Sarah’s hands.

        I’d like to think that one day I’ll want to rewatch again but the emptiness of never getting to say goodbye properly will always haunt that and it didn’t need to. I guess I’ll just ask anyone who wants to respond that liked the ending would the addition of those four words have made it better or worse for you? It’s pretty obvious one where I stand.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        ******Do NOT read this post if you enjoyed the last show of season 5****


        I’m with Uplink here; it wouldn’t have killed them to add that one line to the finale, but that wasn’t what they wanted. I don’t believe the show production bubble had anything to do with how the finale ended, and here is why.

        When I look at the last season from a writer’s point of view, it seems to me that it was originally written as a whole piece. By that I mean that from the moment Morgan gets the Intersect right on down to the last moment of the original finale, that whole stretch was plotted out before the last episode of season 4 was ever broadcast. But if you look at the episodes of S5 as they were shown, for me there is one that sticks out like a sore thumb and obviously does not fit: 5.7 The Santa Suit. The effect on the story line is jarring; Decker as Quinn’s henchman is one thing, as Shaw’s stooge, it just wastes that entire subplot. The only thing Santa Suite does is bring back Shaw so he can torture Sarah and get beaten by Chuck. Any intel going forward could just as easily come from the interrogation of Rebecca Romijn’s character in the Curse.

        Think about this: if Santa Suit was shoehorned into the lineup (and I think it was) after the entire season was plotted, how did they make room for it? I think that originally, the last episode was an epilogue that would have given us all the closure we could ask for, and it was dropped so that we could see the Return of Daniel Shaw. Is there any evidence of this? Well, you might see others, but there are two that leap out at me:

        1. The House (and the family) – this is a recurring theme right from the opening minutes of 5.1 right on down to the scene in the train car “I’d never forget that!”, and then nothing. This is a big part of the emotional backbone of the entire season, and yet it dead ends on that train.

        2. Ellie’s Out of Character Behavior – The showrunners have repeatedly said that where Chuck & Sarah’s relationship is the heart of the show, Eleanor nee Bartowski Woodcomb is the soul. What does she do in the last episode? Is the soul of the show in evidence?
        Not really, she has to move to Chicago.

        I think that Season 5 originally really was meant to be a “love letter to the fans”, with an epilogue that would have given us closure and allowed us to say goodbye to the characters we love. But somewhere along the line, the showrunners decided to bring back Shaw. I believe that lead to most of the epilogue being chopped off, the remnants tucked back into the next to last episode, and then they crammed Santa Suit into the lineup and down our throats.

        I don’t think the showrunners ran out of time in the finale; I think they cut the show short so they could bring us another episode of the Daniel show.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I wonder if we would have reacted the same to the finale if it had been Chuck who lost his memories.

        I could have handled a return to the Chuck who “noticed the little things” of S1 and S2. Besides, his brain was supposed to be “special”.

      • atcDave says:

        Well VV I don’t totally hate the finale so maybe I’m not qualified, but I do believe them when they say they always intended to end the show on the beach.
        Although I do agree Shaw made a complete waste of the conspiracy, for pretty much all the reasons you guys mentioned. Chris Fedak did make a comment about how Shaw was the villain “the fans loved to hate.” I think he was wrong, in that most of us just hated the character with no love aspect to it. But I do understand that is such a hard distinction for a writer to see. Especially if they themselves do “love to hate” the character in question. I used to write a lot of game adventures, and I often liked bringing “favorite” villains back. But it can be so hard to tell if all the groans are because the players are in on the joke or actually disappointed!
        As things actually went, I think Quinn would have made a far more effective conspiracy mastermind than Shaw did. Perhaps, if they’d had more than 13 episodes they could have made Shaw’s role as a major baddie more believable, but again, I really didn’t need to see the character at all so I’m just as good with ending that story quickly.
        Of course I also would have preferred a Christmas episode to be a little more heart warming, so virtually any version of the Omen Virus story that involved less prolonged and intense Sarah abuse would have played better with me. And I didn’t need yet another Chuck/Shaw showdown in the Buy More, with Sarah incapacitated… oh well, you get the point. But for all that I didn’t hate the episode, or any part of the season really. I just wish they’d done things a little differently.

        As far as the ending moments of the show go, I mostly line up with Uplink. Except that I have, after six viewings (three of the extended cut) mostly come to like the scene. I will always agree just a little more would have been better; with “take me home, Chuck” as my favorite suggested addition. Well, favorite short of a much expanded epilogue (epilogue episode?; epilogue nine episode back-order!). But I believe artsy production bubble is the most likely explanation for why it failed so many of us. They simply got too wrapped up in their “full circle” talk and failed to really consider the emotional impact of ending when they did. I think some thing to more completely show Sarah on the road to recovery would have helped a lot; like how about no new dialogue at all, just Sarah pulling back from the kiss for a moment, getting a huge smile on her face, and wrapping her arms around Chuck as she goes in for another as the scene fades… That’s a very small change in terms of length and staging, yet it would have ending things on a different emotional level entirely. As I’ve said many times, I do believe we got a completely happy ending; but it was happy by the very narrowest of margins, and the fact so many viewers still see a question mark (again, I see zero room for a question mark, I see a happy ending) tells me that the happy ending was actually shown with far too much subtlety; and something needed to be added for clarity.

        It’s “ultimate”, not “best”, “most hated”, or “most loved”. Still, I was surprised about how soundly Shaw beat Volkoff. I think Volkoff was too likeable. Villains are supposed to be hated.

        I think it’s like politicians, where favorables and unfavorables are both important. Shaw has high favorables as the villain people love to hate. He also has high unfavorables as the villain other people would rather never see again.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with you, Dave. I think the beach was always the end game, and the only ambiguity in their minds was the magic kiss. From an interview Fedak did, he indicated that he and Schwartz disagreed on its effectiveness. I think they were excited about the full circle thing and assumed that everyone would know that of course Chuck and Sarah would live happily ever after. That’s pretty much what Zac said in an interview: … of course, Chuck and Sarah were going to fall in love again and live happily everafter, because that’s the kind of show Chuck is. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of what he said. I honestly think the reaction blindsided them.

        Shaw was a cop out (in my mind anyway) and a lazy way to hand wave the conspiracy. Never have I felt so baited and switched. I think they have always liked the Shaw character (and the casting). I don’t know if they thought we loved the villain as much as they did or if they were trying one last time to convince us how great he was. There was plenty to like about Santa Suit, but I think bringing Shaw back was the biggest waste and disappointment of the season — maybe the series. I loved the conspiracy idea they put forth, and it turned out to be nothing of the sort. So you had an arc (5-7) that had some good episodes and good moments, enjoyable as separate entities, but as for contributing in any way to the story, it failed 100%. When I realized that all of that had been orchestrated to bring back a character who had already come back one too many times … man I felt gipped. It was Chuck’s bridge to nowhere. I would rather have seen Quinn be a tool, just like Shaw had been, of a larger conspiracy that had been interfering in the Bartowskis’ lives for 30 years. Like I said, the episodes in the arc had some entertainment value, for sure, but they lost all story value when they lead back to Shaw.

        That said, I don’t think the Shaw arc affected the overall story or the end game one iota. I don’t think they ever intended to give us an epilogue with the house or a baby. I think they gave the epilogue in advance (what this post is all about), so that we would know exactly where Chuck and Sarah were headed, once they finally stopped kissing on the beach.

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling its funny you mention how blindsided they were. I think Chris Fedak and Zach in particular were expecting a much more enthusiastic response to the end. And to be fair, every poll I’ve seen indicates a majority of viewers did like the end. But enough of the fanbase (30%? I don’t know, that’s a guess) was upset, in many cases VERY upset that I guess Chris and Zach were sort shocked by the volume and intensity of negative reaction. As always, its those who are unhappy who make the most noise; and we had a very sizable chunk of us who were very unhappy.

      • Johnny Boy says:

        A large issue for a lot of the fans, seems to be, IMO, the brutal and destructive way that Sarah was abused by Quinn. After almost 5 seasons of watching Agent Walker transform into Sarah Bartowski (the woman she wants to become), for each step of that journey, we became emotionally involved with that transformation as it was central to the Chuck & Sarah relationship that continued to evolve. Then everything was taken away from her in the most horrific way. Watching her flash and losing her memories, was very difficult to watch. I would have liked to see Sarah remember it all, for her sake, it’s the least that she deserves, after all she has gone through. After all, her character growth is the greatest of any on the entire series. Not seeing her get all her memories back feels like a total betrayal to many fans IMO. It makes it very difficult to enjoy the ending, for many.
        I don’t have a real issue with the ending, because I personally have faith in the Charah love that will conquer all, just as I always have from the first season, but it could have been a little less ambiguous.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think we all had major reservations about how the show was going to handle the “conspiracy” when it was introduced in Cliffhanger. Rightly so, we didn’t have a lot of faith in the Fedak’s ability to write an effective major season long arc. It was very much like the disappointment many felt with the execution of the Mary arc, but Shaw being behind the conspiracy or at least Decker was far worse. It was a cop out and simply a lame way to beat us and Sarah over the head with Daniel Shaw one more time. Plus the way it was done, nothing changed in the Shaw story in the least. Nothing new was learned and nothing was gained one bit by bringing him back. It was simply we believe the fans love to hate Shaw so we will bring him back to add some drama to this last season one last time. As I said earlier the only way I wanted to see him come back was if he was actually killed for real in the end but again we got a cop out by Fedak.

        But the idea of them thinking the fans loved to hate him once again shows how out of touch they are with a large number of the fans. Just like they were stunned by the significant negative reaction to the finale and their surprise at the positive reaction to Phase Three it showed how out of touch they were with what large parts of the audience saw and appealed to them in the show. At least for me and I bet quite a few others, we didn’t love to hate Shaw, we simply hated him and there is a huge difference. I loved to hate Bryce but never once felt that with Shaw. He represented every major mistake they made and his inclusion as LI for Sarah almost made me leave the show for good. But they didn’t see how destructive a character he was, how the story they chose for him tore the fanbase apart and pitted segments of the fanbase against each other. He was a destructive character not only to Chuck and Sarah but to the show itself. And yet they in an incredibly lazy bit of writing dedicated basically three of the final 13 to bringing that destructive character back and when it was over nothing new was learned and nothing was at all gained by it storywise. Then they couldn’t even kill him off once and for all. The plot hole about why didn’t they simply use the suppressor on Shaw in jail is mind bogglingly bad. Bringing him back was a massive waste of precious time.

        I also think part of the reason they misjudged much of the fan reaction throughout the series but especially in season 3 forward was the only actual members of the fanbase they talked with it seems were folks that would never ever say anything bad about the show. They were in many ways folks that kissed their asses simply to retain access to them. They were insulated from many elements of the fanbase and that is why their damage control after the comicon slipup and the negative feelings in the fanbase leading up to the premier of season 3 and the outrage of Chuckpocalypse after Mask aired was so pitiful and arrogant. They didn’t see what large portions of the fanbase saw and were shocked when many hated it including their beloved finale. They engaged with the fans but never really saw the diverse nature of the fanbase or got a completely honest appraisal of how many were reacting to what they were doing on screen. I do give Zach a lot of credit for his honest reply when talking about the negativity towards the finale. He made an effort and could see what they were angry about but Fedak was oblivious to it and arrogantly never once really showed any empathy in why so many didn’t share his view of the beauty of his final arc. I just wanted to say goodbye to characters I loved and I didn’t get to do that properly but he simply won’t even acknowledge that possibility.

      • Johnny Boy says:

        Well said uplink2!

      • I always hated the conspiracy idea, that someone was behind everything in the entire show since season 1 and even going back to Hartley. That kind of conspiracy would have been a much, much bigger retcon than anything else the show ever did. If TPTB went that route, I’d expect the haters be screaming even louder about continuity. A much more plausible explanation is Decker lied in Cliffhanger. He was trying to get into Team B’s heads. Watching Stargate SG-1, I’m used to the bad guys always lying, and everyone knows they are lying. (They claim to be gods.) The fact that the conspiracy was Shaw and a few key people he blackmailed made a lot of sense–more sense than the Mary arc.

        As much as I would have liked to see Shaw die I was not surprised he didn’t. He had Joker Immunity.

      • uplink2 says:

        Jeff, you really think that a prisoner locked up in a maximum security prison would be able to manipulate that large a group, remember the meeting in Zoom, to get a virus released that would shut down the power so he can escape to beat up Sarah again actually works? First of all, all Decker had to do was give him suppressor glasses and he is no longer a threat. Remember Intersect intel is forgotten shortly after a flash so what he was blackmailing him with he wouldn’t remember. The entire story is based on some horrible ineptitude by the CIA in not suppressing him immediately after Ring II. Again much of Fedak’s stories require incompetence on the CIA’s and Beckman’s part when it comes to Shaw. Plus we are to believe that a maximum security prison for the nations most dangerous criminals would be susceptible to a computer virus that shuts down the power? Has the CIA never heard of a UPS? or closed systems that are not connected to the Internet? Or locks that default to the locked position in case of a power failure instead of open especially in a jail? That ‘conspiracy’ story had far more holes in it than Mary’s story. My biggest issues with that arc were two fold, one they never explained the twenty year mission and what she was actually doing, plus they never explained her comments about the PSP when Stephen never wanted him to see that which was exactly the opposite of the truth if it suppressed the Intersect that Stephen didn’t want him to have and. Plus why she suppressed him in the first place. Agent X was a god awful idea but it was better than Shaw from his prison cell was controlling a major task force of the CIA so he could simply escape from jail and come after Sarah.

        Again after all of that we gained nothing in terms of story for either Shaw, Sarah or Chuck. They made Chuck look like an idiot for lying to Sarah, again, and releasing the virus, then got Sarah beat up and sexually assaulted and yes a kiss against someone’s will when that person is tied up is a sexual assault, had Chuck look like he didn’t care at all about Sarah dying when he didn’t run to save his wife after beating Shaw and had Morgan find her. Sorry Ellie but Sarah’s his wife and you were never threatened. He should have immediately gone after her and not ‘comforted’ you. And in the end we are exactly at the same place story wise as we started. For Shaw he was in the same position as he was at the end of Ring II. And they chose Ellie’s payback on Shaw over Sarah’s, after he beat her, sexually assaulted her, and tried to kill her one more time. Sure Ellie saw Shaw kill her father but Sarah deserved the payback more. Hey I made no bones about my dislike for Morgansect but in the end it at least had a purpose, The return of Shaw had none other than to simply bring him back. When I saw that promo after my initial negative reaction I thought it at least got the fanbase excited a bit but what they gave us was really disappointing. I’ll take Mary Bartowski over the Shaw conspiracy story any day. With the end of the series known he should have died as there was no reason to keep him as an option for the future.

      • “Jeff, you really think that a prisoner locked up in a maximum security prison would be able to manipulate that large a group, remember the meeting in Zoom, to get a virus released that would shut down the power so he can escape to beat up Sarah again actually works?”
        That question is a little hard to follow. I think it’s because you are trying to insult me while asking it. That means I should probably ignore this response, but oh well.

        The entire show is based on downloading information, skills, languages, and magical code cracking abilities into the brain. Blackmailing some corrupt CIA officers seems a lot more plausible than that.

        “First of all, all Decker had to do was give him suppressor glasses and he is no longer a threat. Remember Intersect intel is forgotten shortly after a flash so what he was blackmailing him with he wouldn’t remember.”
        That was the case for skills and languages, not for data. Sarah remembered plans for the bullet train a while later. Chuck remembered Intersect data a long time after flashes for virtually every briefing with Beckman.

        “The entire story is based on some horrible ineptitude by the CIA in not suppressing him immediately after Ring II.”
        The entire series often showed the ineptitude of the CIA (e.g. the cipher Trojan horse, virtually everything Bryce and Forrest did, the CIA scientists trying to restore Chuck’s Intersect with videos, Dr. Dreyfus thinking Chuck was going insane when it was a heat problem, not locking up Rye with the rest of the crazies in the CIA asylum, the enormous number of corrupt agents, letting Shaw take over in Subway, the Christmas party, Montgomery the drunk being a ‘top agent’, etc.)

        “Plus we are to believe that a maximum security prison for the nations most dangerous criminals would be susceptible to a computer virus that shuts down the power?”
        I agree that was stupid. So is every, single, solitary, computer-related thing I see on every TV show and movie. It’s elven computer magic and pixie dust, and it’s annoying all of the time.

        “her comments about the PSP when Stephen never wanted him to see that which was exactly the opposite of the truth if it suppressed the Intersect that Stephen didn’t want him to have and. ”
        Chuck changed his dad’s mind, which is why Stephen built him a governor. Also, anything that Mary said while Volkoff was listening (he was around the corner) was part of her cover.

        “They made Chuck look like an idiot for lying to Sarah again, and releasing the virus,”
        How dare Chuck ever make a mistake. He and Sarah are both supposed to be perfect. (*sarcasm off*) That was the episode before and would have been a likely occurrence no matter who was behind the conspiracy.

        “then got Sarah beat up and sexually assaulted and yes a kiss against someone’s will when that person is tied up is a sexual assault,”
        I’m not disagreeing that what Shaw did was disgusting and wrong. He did not commit sexual assault according to California Penal Code 243.4. (I just looked it up.) The lips are not listed as an “intimate part.” He is guilty of charges for escaping from prison, cyber terrorism, breaking and entering, attempted murder, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and many other charges. Penal Code 206 (torture) seems most appropriate for what he did to Sarah.

        What I don’t understand is why a lot of people think Sarah Bartowski was suddenly a wuss. I don’t know if they do it in the real world, but as a fictional TV spy, I would expect Sarah to be required to pass torture training inflicted by her own government. I think she often showed her pain threshold was a 10 on the Cole Barker scale. No, I do not like torture scenes, but many other shows I’ve watched had far worse (e.g. Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Alias, and even Castle). All of those shows had people dealing with the emotional aftermath because the torture or life-and-death scenarios were so much worse than anything Chuck had. For Sarah, her worst reactions where when she thought Chuck died. She was trained to deal with the other stuff.

        “had Chuck look like he didn’t care at all about Sarah dying when he didn’t run to save his wife after beating Shaw and had Morgan find her.”
        That was the plan. Chuck would deal with Shaw while Morgan sneaked into Castle and saved Sarah. Chuck trusted Morgan. Oh, yeah, I forgot the level of hatred for Morgan. Also, Sarah had been found and rescued while Chuck was still fighting, before Ellie showed up.

        “And they chose Ellie’s payback on Shaw over Sarah’s,”
        What about Casey? He was shot and left for dead. It was bad enough even Casey thought he was going to die. I liked Ellie getting some payback for a change. Chuck vs Shaw as already redundant for me. I’m glad the ending of the fight was different.

        BTW, Santa Suit is in the bottom half of episodes for me and is one of my least favorite of S5. I didn’t thing the Christmas party was funny (personal taste) and the Chuck/Shaw fight should have been in a different venue so it would appear to have variety–maybe Castle or the cage. If they had more episodes, I think it would have worked better if Shaw returned for 2-3 episodes, having him escape with an episode of chasing him. Right when Team B looses the trail and thinks he hiding in some non-extradition country, he shows up in Castle. They also could have moved the episodes away from Christmas, inserting a Christmas-themed episode. Maybe something like Team B is hired to track down a Grinch that is robbing area toy stores. Casey would get interested when the Marine Toys for Tots plane was hit.

      • Sorry about the unfinished link in my last post.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Jeff, I tried to fix your link and I accidently deleted it. What can I say, it’s late. At least its not funny half blue looking any more!

        Santa Suit is also not a favorite of mine, but it does seem a lot of the complaints are just picking on the sort of things we normally live with or overlook on television all the time. Shaw is one of my least favorite Chuck villains. But he was a villain, he did bad things but nothing permanent, and he lost. I can live with that. My biggest sticking point on the whole episode is just Chuck chatting with Ellie when he doesn’t know if Sarah is alive or dead. But he did already send Morgan for her. I think the scene could have been handled better, but its a long way from a major error. I also don’t like Shaw as the big bad behind “The Conspiracy”, but that’s more of an arc complaint than an episode complaint. Finally I wish the Christmas episode had been a little more joyful (and less torture); but again, the bad guy was bad, the good guys were good, and it all worked out in the end.

        I guess I agree with many of Uplink’s specific complaints, but they don’t seem to upset me too much. In the end, I’d say like Jeff, not a favorite episode, but not a total bust either.

      • I think the end of the fight was a direction and/or prop issue. Casey, Morgan, and Sarah had plenty of time to be in the home theater room by the time the fight was over. Chuck could have seen them and Morgan could have signaled ok. The practical reason that didn’t happen was probably because JS, YS, and AB were given the day off. A simpler fix would be to give Chuck and Morgan comms. Honestly, until I saw the complaints on this blog a few months ago, I thought they were on comms because I hadn’t realized the issue.

        Thanks for the fix, Dave. It’s for the old IBM pixie dust ad:

      • thinkling says:

        That’s about where I am with Santa Suit, too, Dave, Jeff. The season had more extremes, and Santa Suit was part of that. Just as Chuck and Sarah’s life was more fulfilled and joyful … their dreams more real and closer than they had ever been, the violence and threat of the spy life was darker (Decker, Ryker, Shaw, Quinn … all very dark). The Ryker take down and the torture in Castle were part of the dark threat of the spy life. I agree with Jeff, that Sarah is trained to deal with that, and I saw Sarah as a competent spy, not an abused woman. It made me seethe with anger and creeped me out (because it was Shaw). And even though Shaw had made it personal, to Sarah (and to me) it was part of being a spy — shown in her justification of her actions to Shaw and her calm after it was all over. All in a day’s work.

        Jeff, I would have felt immensely better about the Chuck/Ellie after-fight hug/bonding, if I had known that Chuck knew that Sarah was okay. A word from Morgan in Chuck’s ear would have done the job. Good idea. Or Casey saying, “Interesting choice, choosing your sister over your wife. Just remember Bartowski, Sarah’s the one you sleep next to at the end of every day. She’s the one you protect.” Oh, wait. He said that once already. That moment in Santa Suit just felt off to me. It would have been a different matter had Chuck known Sarah was okay.

        My gripe is more with the arc being about Shaw than with anything in Santa Suit specifically(taken at face value, there was plenty to like). I think they could have pulled off a decent conspiracy to tie things up, even if it only went back 5 years. But I still think they could have pulled off a bigger one than that. All the balls were in the air. They only needed to give us a juggler.

      • aerox says:

        I’d like to put in that for all the crap that Brandon Routh gets for his supposed lack of acting, I’ve seen a lot of comments that deal with hatred for the man based on the role that he plays. Seems like he did his job just fine to me 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve never criticized Routh’s acting. I disliked the story concept centered around his character before the part was even cast. Routh actually did a very good job of portraying an arrogant psychopath. But the two reappearances he had as a pure villain came with too much baggage from the initial arc when I just wanted him gone. We have discussed here many ways Shaw could have been managed differently from the start that I would have found more satisfying, and I might have been perfectly happy to see him reappear in that case. But given how his initial story actually went, seeing him reminds me too much of my least favorite period of the show. Don’t get me wrong, I can happily re-watch all the episodes where Shaw is pure villain; my affection for Chuck always has more to do with my love of the good guys than any feeling towards the bad guys one way or the other anyway. But there are a small number of villains I enjoyed a lot (Fulcrum Tommy, Roark, Colt, Volkoff) and Shaw was never one of them.

      • I just had a possible conspiracy twist idea that might have worked. It’s just a simple adjustment, using the evil family member trope. Reveal that Eve Shaw was really a double agent and make Quinn her older brother. It would explain Shaw’s access to Intersect intel before season 3. His brother-in-law was in the program. It would explain Shaw’s control while in prison. He had a loyal ally on the outside who also wanted revenge on Sarah for his sister’s death. Decker’s statement in Cliffhanger would still be hyperbole, but the conspiracy round out the entire season and would have the “not dead yet” feel.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        I think that you and Faith must be very good at making lemonade.

        It is pretty much a standard concept in fiction to abuse your protagonists in order to give them a chance to show what they are made of. This is sometimes referred to as Vonnegut’s rule # 6 “Be a Sadist”. There is an interesting discussion of this over at Castle Inanity around mid March; the thing is, if you are going to abuse characters that your audience has an emotional connection to, you have to provide some kind of payoff to make it worth the time your audience spent wading through the sadism. This payoff doesn’t necessarily have to be a sugary Happily Ever After, but SOME kind of payoff is needed, or the audience is likely to feel cheated.

        The problem with what you refer to as the “Epilogue in Advance”is that many people are likely to see that as bait in a Bait and Switch con. I’m afraid that is what has happened with a significant part of Chuck’s viewers. It has now been about 6 months since the show ended, and about 2 months since the Dvd/Blueray release. I’ve had a chance to talk to pretty much everyone I know who watched Chuck and NO ONE liked the finale. Some people were angry, but most people went “Huh? Is that it? After all they went through?” And that was the end of Chuck for them. They didn’t do any rewatching that I know of.

        Now, friends and family tend to self-aggregate, so this can’t be representative, but what is a bit ominous is that I am the only person I know who bought a copy of Season 5. That was not the case for season 4, so it looks like the finale managed to effectively kill interest in the show for a subset of the audience.

        I think Fedak and Schwarz need to work on their Abuse to Payoff ratio. Right now, that ratio looks to me to be: abuse, Abuse, ABUSE/payof. That doesn’t appear to be a winning combination in today’s TV market.

      • atcDave says:

        VV you know we’ve discussed the satisfaction with the finale many, many times. We know a number of posters and regular commenters here found the structure chosen by TPTB to be unsatisfying. From people I’ve spoken to, and comments here, I’d say it’s at best 50/50 on those who were satisfied. Polls at other sites like ChuckTV might suggest something like 70% of viewers were satisfied with the ending. Of course that’s not great, but it’s not quite a disaster either. Hopefully, the writers are learning lessons and won’t repeat such a mistake on later projects. Although I think there’s enough satisfaction among artsy types that we are likely to see many more such experimental endings.
        I’ll always be thankful for the wonderful show we got. I still enjoy my re-watches, and am pleased that no future episodes now can undo the ending we did get. Because although I think the ending could have been better, it also could have been a whole lot worse!

      • uplink2 says:

        Jeff, first of all I was not trying to insult you with my question. That simply isn’t something I do or have ever done here to any poster. I learned my lesson long ago about snark on the Internet. My word choice may have been cumbersome but if I was trying to insult anything it was the story idea.

        On the suppressor idea, I would counter with Volkoff. When he was suppressed he didn’t remember his time as Volkoff. That Intersect data was lost.

        So lips are not considered an intimate part? I’m not going to say what I’m thinking but the lips are most definitely an intimate part of a sexual assault. Besides any unwanted physical contact can be considered assault. Grabbing someone’s arm is considered assault and forcibly kissing someone who is tied up is most definitely sexual in nature. Shaw sexually assaulted her.

        My point about Chuck comforting Ellie was not based on hatred for Morgan, quite the contrary in fact I grew to like Morgan in season 4, I just hated Morgansect though that at least had a story point to make where the return of Shaw didn’t. It was the fact Chuck didn’t seem to care if she was all right or not. He had no idea if Morgan succeeded or not and she, not Ellie, should have been his first priority. But in this episode she wasn’t at that point.

        As far as Chuck releasing the virus it wasn’t Chuck making a mistake that bothered me, it was the return to lying Chuck. I thought they made a solemn pact, no secrets, no lies and he broke both in that episode just so ultimately we could get Shaw released.

        @Aerox I am one who does have severe reservations about Routh but you point out something that actually supports my position. I have always said he did ok as a limited one dimensional character, a villain and in this case a psychopathic villain. My issues with him has always been he is a very limited actor who can’t deliver the multi layered performance that the role in the first 13 of S3 demanded. Give him one specific thing to do, being a baddie, and he can do an acceptable job, but what was demanded of him early on in his role, his performance was weak and disastrous. Routh was an acceptable villain but once they finally figured that out, the character was so aggressively despised by so many fans that we didn’t care and he just needed to go away.

        Santa Suit is in my bottom 2 for season 5 along with Bearded Bandit. Much of it because there was no point to bringing Shaw back other than just to bring him back. It did not advance the story one bit, was a pathetic resolution to the conspiracy and then they couldn’t even kill him off when the show was not going to be renewed. Bringing back such a divisive and destructive character was a big risk and what we got from it wasn’t worth that risk in the least.

      • No offense taken then. Everything sounds snarky late at night.

        Volkoff had a different Intersect that was based on 27 year old technology. The effects would be different. I don’t know if he flashed with his Intersect. It was an undercover personality implant that took over.

        I agree lips are intimate, but based on the legal definition, they are not. Google the CA penal code 243.4 for a list. It’s in section g-1. The torture code has much higher penalties (life imprisonment), plus the terrorism, espionage, and treason charges likely have federal death penalties associated with them.

        I apologize for my Morgan assumption. So many people seem to hate him I forget who does and who doesn’t. The ambiguity of whether or not Chuck knows Sarah is alive (I assumed he did on first watch, but on rewatch I saw there wasn’t any evidence), I think is the fault of the director or whomever was in charge of continuity. They filmed the scene in the home theater room and forgot the how-did-they-get-there part. Now that I think about it more, Shaw (who might have been lying) said Sarah was watching the fight. Shaw would have wanted her conscious throughout the fight, but like usual, he screwed that up. If Chuck didn’t have comms, he would have no idea she was freezing to death. He would assume she was only tied up. With Morgan there to help her, there was no need to rush to her. Her condition was worse than he imagined, and it still was only the fourth of fifth closest she came to dying (Fake Name, Other Guy and Cliffhanger for certain, maybe Break-up because she was hospitalized).

        Chuck didn’t lie in Curse. He didn’t keep a level head, was impulsive and foolish, and ran off without back-up. Bad plan, and not the kind of effort expected from a good spy. Sarah’s and Casey’s mistakes were not sticking up for Chuck and going after Ellie and Devon sooner. Not the actions of good teammates. Chuck never should have been put in a position to run off by himself. Beckman was the person who really messed up. A fake Omen virus component created in minutes? Sounds like a sure fire way to get everyone killed. Maybe the virus component could have been created in the middle of nowhere using magic beans:

      • uplink2 says:

        @Dave as far as poll results go I’d take any fansite results with many grains of salt. Though I like a lot of the folks at ChuckTV it is by far the most positive and supportive of Schwedak of any of the sites out there and I would expect the results to be be skewed toward liking what they did. But I expect if you did a poll at DR’s site it would be much different. So I tend to ignore those results as being a true representation of the actual response.

        All I can say for certain is how I felt and I’m sure you all are quite aware of what that reaction was by now lol. I “trust the love” but I will never again “trust the show” (meaning Schwedak). I’ve been disappointed too many times. I shouldn’t have to work so hard to enjoy saying goodbye to characters I love deeply.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I brought up the cross section of comments from both serious (here at the blog) and more casual viewers (friends I know who regularly watch, but don’t bother to go on-line) first because I believe such things are more meaningful than the poll. But my point is that enough viewers liked the finale that it’s possible the creators will never see it as any kind of failure. I hope differently, I hope lessons will be learned (no more backwards pay-offs, please!) but for the reasons previously mentioned I am not optimistic.

      • jam says:

        I really wouldn’t trust most internet polls too much. I don’t recall ChuckTV’s Mel ever being critical of the show, and that attitude reflects everywhere on the site.

        I pretty much agree 100% with everything uplink2 has written in this thread.

      • Actually, the finale didn’t score as well at ChuckTV (62.3% liked) as here (69% 4-5/5), and neither as well as the non-chuck sites SpoilerTV (82% 4-5/5), (8.8/10 average), IMDB (88% 9-10/10).

        The general trend appears to be the more casual fans who vote on the Internet liked it a lot. Over half of the more Chuck-focused fans liked it, but that is a significantly smaller percentage than the casual Internet-voting fans. That’s not surprising. More obsessive fans over analyze and try to figure out what exactly happened. Some go away happy and others don’t. Casual fans saw Charah kissing, take it at face value, and happily move on to other shows.

        ChuckTV is here:

        Previous poll discussion is here so we don’t have to recap:

      • aerox says:

        Uh, what do you think his ‘multi-layered’ role was? I mean, he was there to

        A: Be a mentor to Chuck. He did this fine. Actually, he was the only one out of the spies present at Castle who made sure he didn’t get too big for his britches and made him focus on becoming a better Intersect. He played this role fine.

        B: Become a PLI to Sarah. Okay, so this was a bit wonky, but that had more to do with the fact that the chemistry didn’t really happen. Or at least, less than it did with Zachary who has chemistry with everybody he works with.

        That’s it. That was his role which gradually morphed into the role of avenger of his wife’s death. There is no multi-layered role, because that was just not his character. He acted fine in those episodes. He did psychopath more than fine, and there wasn’t any emotional range for the guy to do because that was simply not the character that was written for him.

        It’s easy to strike the character down, but if you’re going to criticize someone’s acting ability, you have to take into consideration the role that he is playing. To me it seems like people who are saying that he didn’t act well, are simply looking for things that he wasn’t supposed to play in the first part.

      • aerox says:

        At Jeff:

        Polls are very dodgy. I’ve spoken to five casual viewers I knew who watched it and all complained about the finale. They all felt it was rushed and it left them with a sour taste afterwards.

      • All polls are dodgy. Some people never answer phone surveys. Other people don’t respond to exit pollers. Only certain people fill out Internet polls. We’ve made the same argument about Nielsen viewers. Only certain types of people are willing to use Nielsen boxes.

        Talking to friends is the most misleading type of poll because many friends are friends because they tend to agree. My informal survey of 4 casual viewers (who haven’t rewatched) is they all liked it. That doesn’t mean much to me other than I was surprised their initial reactions were more positive than mine. Mine is probably more positive than theirs now because they haven’t thought about it much since.

        Some Internet polls represent a single point of time for the voter, so they don’t show trends of how people’s opinion of the finale changed over time. Some polls like IMDB don’t close, so they are not even a consistent view of all voters.

        Polls can also be interesting when put in a proper context. 90% approval on IMDB doesn’t mean 90% of all viewers liked it. It doesn’t definitively mean 75% of all viewers liked it. But it strong evidence that “everyone hated it” and “most people didn’t like it” are not true statements are looking more and more like trolling and flame-bait. However they still aren’t definitive evidence just like Obama’s approval rating in Chicago is not indicative of his national approval rating. (Earlier this year it was 30 points higher than the national rating.) The fact that ChuckTV and Chuck This! are within 7% of each other is interesting. The fact that SpoilerTV, and IMDB are within 7% of each other is interesting. The fact that the two sets of polls are 20% away from each other is very interesting to me.

      • aerox says:

        I never said they were friends though. They visit another forum I tend to regularly and shared their views there, which had an almost unanimous dislike for the final.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Aerox, the multi-layered role was that of the tragic hero whose wife was killed and he dedicated himself to the cause of justice. Someone who suffered great loss because of the spy life and someone who proved why spies had rule #1. He was someone we should have empathized with. The good man who suffers great loss yet goes on to do good work for “truth, justice and the American way.” Someone who was supposed to show Chuck how to be a great spy and make him reach his full potential. Routh simply couldn’t deliver that role for me. Nothing he did in his performance, and this was long before the PLI role became evident made me care one bit about his tragedy. He just got in the way. Never once did Routh give me anything to latch on to and and engage with his story. It was flat, emotionless and really unappealing. When he was on screen I just wanted that scene to be over with. Simply put he was incredibly unlikable in that role for me. I may have hated Bryce but Bomer was never unlikable in that role. I loved to hate Bryce, Shaw and much of it because of Routh’s weak performance, I just hated.

        As far as mentor, he shot a woman in the back, he gave Chuck a mission he wasn’t ready for and lied to him about what that mission was really about. He showed what a horrible spy he was when he almost got Sarah and himself killed, He was willing to kill the most important piece of intelligence and asset to protect some stupid disks we never heard from again. He was incredibly creepy in his pursuit of Sarah and because he was her boss he was in fact sexually harassing her. He then took advantage of a broken and vulnerable woman who was obviously in love with someone else for his own needs. He never came off as an honorable man. And though they were telling us a different story than they were showing us at no point did Routh get me to buy in to what they wanted us to take from him. I didn’t see him as a great spy because he never made me feel like he was one in spite of the failings of the writing. I take great solace in Fedak’s stumbling over Mo Ryan’s great question about whether they intended to make him unlikable. They didn’t but they and Routh both failed at that.

        The relationship with Sarah never worked on any level. It always felt forced, contrived , uncomfortable and impossible to figure out what she saw in him. He was just creepy and at no point did I engage with his performance in the least. The lack of chemistry between them was frightening and I harken back to his lack of chemistry with Kate Bosworth as well. Besides all the god awful plot holes about the cafe scene he was as flat as his nickname. It was to be his shining moment prior to the back 6 and IMO he was dreadful in that scene of the conflicted, broken now traitor bent on vengeance on the wrong person. Performing next to Mark Sheppard really showed his weaknesses to me. I don’t think that was one of Yvonne’s great moments either but the best performance in that scene was Sheppard’s.

        Hey buddy, I know different people will see things differently but I got all of that simply from watching week to week and had no idea of the controversy going on in the Chuckverse. I felt nothing for Shaw other than hatred and for the first 5/6 of Routh’s time on the show I was supposed to feel something different for the character than what I was feeling. That I lay equally with the writer and the actor.

        I will say he was better after Other Guy but that was because it was a clearly defined role with just one motivation and one layer. That he could handle. But a tragic, multi-layered diverse character we should care about and empathize with that was yes, poorly written at times was beyond him for me.

      • You say “I’ve spoken to”, so I incorrectly implied it was real life, not on a forum. I didn’t know forums had casual viewers. Forums collect like minded people, sometimes even more so than friends. Some forums are like my Chicago example. From what I’ve heard, DR’s forum collect people who thrive on negativity. ChuckTV moderators are over-the-top positive (in a way I like, even when I don’t agree), but their polled respondents liked the finale less than the polled here. This forum respects debate more of the time. I’ve noticed that many forums (not just talking about Chuck) shout away people who disagree. and the Huffington Post gather like-minded people with sensational headlines as reflected in the comments (today’s has some related comments). If you respect patent and copyright laws, don’t say so at slashdot. Being a Microsoft fan or an Apple hater only recently became safe. You better still like Linux, though. It’s sort of like a post about S3.0, Shaw, or the finale. Hot button comments drive up the responses from more vocal people, which sometimes skews perception. Remember when this post was about the Future Dream Arc? The number of comments were significantly lower, but more people were happy. 😀

      • atcDave says:

        Funny analysis Uplink, I think you summed up Shaw pretty nicely there. Although as far as judging his performance; part of the reason I simply can’t go there is because apart from his obvious lack of chemistry with Yvonne, is because I had completely pre-judged it. And I say that without any remorse at all, I knew from the moment they started discussing story lines at Comic Con 2009 that I wasn’t going to like it. That was well before the part was even cast. Fatally flawed at conception, there’s no way I would have enjoyed the story they pursued no matter who they cast. And I see no reason to apologize for that at all. Just as I know I’m not interested in stories about Smurfs or demonic possession; I know I’m not interested in stories about love triangles either. I have a life time of experience that tells me its never going to appeal to me, so I’m not even interested.

      • uplink2 says:

        I found this an interesting parallel with this discussion. It’s from a review of Routh’s new show for CBS.

        I don’t know whether I hate it more for its hacky, broad sitcom writing, for the way it aggressively traffics in stereotypes about gay men, or for Brandon Routh’s wooden, anti-funny performance. I just know all of it makes me stabby.

        Seems his nickname will live on.

      • jam says:

        “Brandon Routh’s wooden, anti-funny performance”

        That doesn’t surprise me at all. He was pretty wooden in Superman returns too, but there it didn’t bother me too much since I’ve always found Clark Kent / Superman a pretty stiff character. Plus that movie had bigger problems than BR’s weak performance, imo.

        (replying to these super-long threads is pretty annoying, you have to hope you hit the right one :p )

      • aerox says:

        Jeff, you’re right. But the forum deals with Call of Duty – Modern Warfare, with several subsections to discuss other stuff. One of those sub-forums is TV shows 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jam we know the threads get pretty cumbersome, we don’t have a true forum for this site, and we do all get chatty!

        I actually really enjoyed Superman Returns. Although a fairly stoic performance seems fitting for Superman.

      • I agree, Dave, that many people pre-judged Shaw. I feel like I should duck as I write this, but I think part of the chemistry problem is YS didn’t buy into the triangle, so she didn’t try to have chemistry with Shaw. The Mask drugged, the Fake Name cafe, and American Hero don’t-go scenes were not her best work. It’s possible to blame BR, the writing, the premise, or viewer prejudgement about the scenes, but YS wasn’t completely fault-free. Overall, I think YS is a better actress than Stana Katic from Castle (I really need to duck if certain die-hard Castle fans read this), but I think SK has shown more chemistry with OLIs than YS because she bought into them more.

        I didn’t like BR as Shaw in 3×04->3×12. But that was my problem with the character, for many of the bad mentor/incompetent spy reasons Uplink listed, but not because of BR’s acting ability. He wasn’t given much to work with, playing a superspy who constantly made unacknowledged mistakes. Maybe a truly fantastic actor would have done better, but then I would have hated when he turned to the dark side. I’m glad BR and YS had little on screen chemistry. It goes back to the debate about Sarah/Bryce being more painful as a viewer in S3.0. Once Shaw became openly evil, I liked BR’s portrayal of the cold, cocky bad guy. He was supposed to be hated, and he accomplished that.

        I do think the 2×4-related nicknames are funny, even if they aren’t always fair.

      • aerox says:

        @Uplink Shaw was introduced in Operation Awesome and after that immediately took up the position as Chuck’s mentor in First Class. After that, Mask happened.

        I say that he was a mentor, because the rest didn’t do anything. Casey didn’t do anything and Sarah did even less. Also, she had been enabling him throughout the entire first two seasons, consistently, up to a point where he was getting confident. That’s all well and good, but the fact remained that they had built the Intersect 2.0 for Bryce, or at least someone who could use it as a solo operative. Chuck wasn’t that, but it’s what the govt. paid for, and that was what they wanted. Ergo, he had to be put into the field to see how he would fare. That’s where Shaw comes in.

        Also, while I agree that the logical fallacy behind the Beard were idiotic, you can also see it as someone who will do whatever it takes to avenge his wife’s death, and if he sees those disks as crucial to getting his revenge, his emotions overrule rational thought. But that’s just me playing devil’s advocate.

        Also, it wasn’t sexual harassment in the slightest. She clearly responded to his advances. He tried to play the swizzle sticks and such off as just friendliness when she said she wasn’t interested, but she herself admitted she overreacted and enjoyed it before he took it further. I don’t see the harassment in there. Did the pairing make sense? Meh, maybe not. Definitely not from a point of chemistry. But it did fit with what we knew about Sarah. She’d rather go for the safe choice, which he offered her at the time. Barely-strings attached sex with a good looking guy who understood what she did as opposed to becoming vulnerable, especially after it bit her in the ass.

        Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but the PLI came before we even knew about Eve.

      • aerox says:

        I’d say that has been more people their problem, Jeff, but it could be that they’re too vain to admit that they didn’t like the performance because it clashed with the on-screen romance they were (rightfully) hoping for at that point in time. It seems to me a bit excessive to burn Routh to the ground, based on a performance with incredibly shoddy material to work with from the get go.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I agree with pretty much all of that. Although Shaw always played creepy enough that I can’t even imagine what it would have taken to actually play off of him. It does make me laugh in way that Yvonne and Routh had so little chemistry; but yeah I’d completely pre-judged the story and I still do. I’m completely not a fan of soap operas, love triangles in particular. I was never going to like that story, and I knew it months before they even started filming or casting parts. I also laugh at the 2 x 4 cracks, but again, I’m not really that down on the performance itself.

        Aerox I don’t buy that about Sarah and Casey as mentors, partly because that was not their job until S3 anyway. Sarah was pointedly protecting a civilian from the ugly side of the spy world, in part because that civilian always intended to return to his civilian life as soon as he could. When Chuck’s role changed, Casey did become a capable mentor. But Sarah was of course emotionally compromised and she was not the best candidate for a trainer; but she was always capable as a partner and protector. Shaw on the other hand was manipulative and dishonest in a way that came across as arrogant and creepy. He consistently manipulated Chuck and the rest of the team into doing things and withheld key information. He made stupid mistakes and never seemed to be very competent. I tend to blame the writing more than the performance, but both surely played some role in those perceptions.
        And we did know at least a little about Eve in First Class, before the Sham actually started.

      • I liked Superman Returns because on the airplane rescue in the baseball field scene. The timing of the special effects with the music gives me uncontrollable chills. The cameos were cool, Spacey is great as Luthor (no surprise), and the piano scene was hilarious. However, the back-story of the movie had the same problem as National Treasure 2 and Zorro 2, of screen break up and an out-of-nowhere, unnecessary love triangle.

        @aerox, we learned about Shaw’s wife in First Class. He started hitting on Sarah in Mask.

        Shaw’s actions were not at the level of criminal harassment according to state laws because of consent. However, in some corporate policies, any supervisor hitting on a subordinate is automatically defined as sexual harassment for administrative purposes that could lead to termination. It depends on the corporation. Frat regs in the military would prevent anything between people in a chain of command. Shaw was assigned as Sarah’s boss and was writing reviews of her performance. If the CIA is like the military, Shaw pursuing a relationship with Sarah, even with her consent, could be considered criminal.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff it is against rules in federal service to get involved with people you have authority over. But it happens fairly often anyway (I’ve known of at least three instances) and its never an issue unless things get ugly and one party starts making charges against the other. And then it becomes an employment issue, not normally a criminal one (although an extreme case of a supervisor taking advantage of employees could become criminal, but I’ve never heard of that happening).

        What Shaw did was technically against rules, but unless Sarah made an issue of it he would likely never get in any trouble for it. Especially if he was only a senior agent who had operational command and wasn’t actually of a higher rank.

      • Thanks for the clarification, Dave. That doesn’t surprise me about what happens in practice. I would assume it is considered more serious in a military field ops positions where one person could make operational life-and-death calls, choosing between subordinates. I know military frat reg violations can escalate to court martial, but I believe that is only when all other disciplinary and administrative options fail. I’d expect the chain of command to take care of it other ways, like transferring people to office positions in DC.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Aerox, a couple of corrections. Shaw was actually kind of introduced in Three Words in a really bizarre scene. They immediately established him as creepy with the whole lighter thing. Plus he seemed to be Beckman’s superior or at least equal. So the first we know of a new character he is a creepy guy that does not have to follow Beckman’s orders. As Jeff pointed out Eve was introduced at the end of First Class when Sarah walks in on him with the wedding rings from the lock box.

        Jeff is also correct that in my company Shaw should have immediately been brought before management and possibly terminated for harassing Sarah. Plus in the beginning of Mask his touching was unwanted and he was taking advantage of the work situation to hide behind and touch her against her will. It is only after the idiot Chuck walks away again that she says to herself at least its better than nothing and half heartedly agrees to his advances. To me that was clearly sexual harassment in my company and legally a lawsuit could have easily been filed by Sarah up to Chuck’s walking away when she begrudgingly allowed it to continue. Any unwanted touching is grounds for sexual harassment and his touching at the museum was unwanted.

        @Jeff I do have to comment about your mention of Yvonne in regards to the lack chemistry with Routh. Surprise, surprise I’m not buying it. First off from what she said publicly and from what has been reported by DR, and in these cases I do tend to think his sources are real, Yvonne was not at all happy with the finale direction. I mean who could blame her. She I think loved Sarah more than anyone and saw 5 years of growing that character into something truly special all thrown away for a trip down memory lane. She also seems to have a much better handle on shall we say my side of the fanbase. She knew I would have issues with it if you will. But that being said she probably, except for Phase Three, gave her best performance of the series. So even if she didn’t like the pairing with Shaw and knew the fans would hate it she is a true professional and gave it her all. But you can’t fake chemistry. It is either there or its not. She had great chemistry with Bomer and even though it was only 2 episodes I think she had very good chemistry with Cake. Couple that with the fact that Routh had none with Kate Boswirth either and I think its fair to say where the fault, if you can call it that, lies.

      • aerox says:

        It’s too easy to blame Routh for that. Look at Bomer on White Collar, he has insane chemistry with McKay and just about everyone. It’s just his personality. I’ve been musing aloud with Natalie that for example Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) would have the same. If he would play Shaw, he’d probably have ridiculous chemistry with Yvonne. He would still be hated though, simply because it was at a point in time where the showrunners could do no good because of that bizarre break up.

      • I thought Yvonne’s portrayal of being hurt after Prague, wanting to be more normal, and trying to figure out who she could be was fantastic in S3.0, and it helped me understand what TPTB were trying to do with her character. (Now I have to duck from a different group of people. I’m not saying I liked it. I’m just saying I understood it and appreciated the character development.) Someone going through that would not have a lot of chemistry in any new relationship, so maybe that’s what YS was going for. In general, I think chemistry is the responsibility of both actors, and I’ve seen where one person can pull it off without any help from the other. If YS protrayed that through Sarah, though, it would have seemed OOC. That’s why I’m happy they didn’t have chemistry on screen.

        I did see chemistry between YS and Bomer. Both of them get credit for that. I didn’t see a lot with Cake, but I really didn’t like his character. Cole seemed disingenuous with everyone and a little creepy, so any chemistry seemed fake. His actions were on par with Shaw’s early actions, but he doesn’t get criticized as much for exposing himself as Shaw does for a cover kiss, maybe because he was supposed to be James Bond. Cake did an excellent job playing the character, though. When I saw him in another show, he seemed to be a completely different character.

      • uplink2 says:

        For me at least with Cake I think part of why he doesn’t get much grief was first he was only in 2 episodes and then gone. God I wish I could have said the same thing about Routh. Now Beefcake took some grief as an episode and in many cases rightfully so but Lethal Weapon is one of the best from season 3. But I think part of why I liked Cole and Cake in the role was that ultimately he turned out to be an honorable man. Something Shaw never showed me in fact he was quite the opposite. Once Cold saw the writing on the wall with Sarah’s feelings for Chuck, even though they were never acted on, he backed off gracefully and honorably. Shaw never did. But in the case of chemistry you see it with Yvonne and Zack, Matt and Jonathan from the first time you see them together on screen. Never once did it show with Routh.

      • uplink2 says:

        Sorry for the typos in that last one. Obviously its season 2 and Cole not Cold. Cold is reserved for plywood lol.

      • thinkling says:

        Jeff, I was always glad that Sarah and Shaw had no chemistry, and I have often wondered if it wasn’t intentional that they didn’t. I agree that in Sarah’s position, she wouldn’t have — couldn’t have — chemistry with anyone else. She was still in love with Chuck. Whether or not her dating Shaw was a new attempt at normal or a retreat to the familiar spy relationship … well, I think it was settling for what she’d always had — a shrinking back. But I know some people see it as a new attempt to have something pseudo-normal, which she could never have had with Shaw, for multiple reasons. Not that I really want to go down those trails right now.

        What I saw with Cole, whom I don’t dislike as much as you do, was pretty brilliant on YS part (I think). To me Sarah seemed really conflicted: a woman who wanted to be appreciated, loved … but not by Cole. Chuck had ruined her for any kind of spy relationship, like she had had with Bryce. But she didn’t think she could ever really have that normal life with Chuck, so she really was left with a lonely life. That’s what made Chuck’s fountain speech so great. It gave her the tiniest bit of hope.

        Then those hopes were dashed in S3, and she retreated back, about to settle for something she didn’t really want, but figured was all she could have.

        Anyway, I agree with your take on the chemistry that Sarah and Shaw didn’t have.

      • Thinkling, I liked what the Cole arc revealed in Sarah’s character and completely agree with your description of it. I actually used to like Cole. He was a good guest character, bringing energy to the show, and he was a harmless PLI. For some reason, after the 5th or 6th viewing, I saw through Cole’s schtick, and now everything he says to Chuck seems manipulative and every he says to Sarah seems creepy. It’s not really fair, because that many viewings is like Cole was in 10-12 episodes. While Shaw seems like a person how should be locked in a small dark room until he rots, Cole seems like someone who should have to wait for two lines where the women slap him and the guys punch him in the gut. Sarah could do both. Cole’s still a hero, so his sentence could be commuted by the Queen, after she slaps him for being a sexist British spy stereotype.

  7. mynameisjeffnimlost says:

    Thinkling and Faith, fantastic write up! With all of the negativity that seemed to come after every episode, it’s a great reminding of how much fun these episodes were.

    Also, if you want to get Dave off your back for commetting, just look at this as a short post with 12 long, insightful comments.

  8. resaw says:

    mynameisjeffnimlost wrote: “Sarah was a little too busy kissing her husband to take a leap of faith with the viewers.” I like this. I hereby commit to ceasing all sighing with respect to the finale.

  9. Johnny Boy says:

    Thinkling and Faith!
    Thanks for the great job! i really can’t express in words how much your posts, and FF and all the positive comments on this site mean, it’s really great. thanks again.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Johnny Boy. I’m really glad for that. For me this community is a real added bonus to the whole Chuck experience. It’s great to know that it is for others as well. 🙂

  10. resaw says:

    The review and the comments that followed above have mostly to do with Chuck and Sarah, and I very much appreciated the introduction to the story line in Kept Man of the possibility of pregnancy, but I want to add my appreciation for the Jeffster bit. Lester in drag was hilarious, and Jeff’s return to sound mind was very well utilized, I thought. The discovery of Castle behind the fake wall sure had me anxiously awaiting the next episode.

    By the way, Thinkling, the choice in your story to name the Bartowski boy Liam wouldn’t have had anything to do with the list of baby names that Sarah was perusing, would it?

    • thinkling says:

      I have to agree, Resaw. I confess that I mostly tolerated Jeff and Lester. And after Chuck became an agent the Buymore lost its relevance. S5 was a real turn around on both counts. With CS owning the Buymore, it regained some of its relevance, and I absolutely loved Jeff’s return to normal. And I never thought I would use the word love in the same sentence with Jeff and Lester. I really think S5 was a brilliant season (except for the return of Shaw … what a misstep!).

      Yes, Liam came from Sarah’s list. It was a girl name that was hard, because they didn’t let us see Sarah’s list for girl names. It’s funny, I almost went with Faith’s choice above (Lindsey).

      • atcDave says:

        Just to nitpick a little, I would have liked to see Chuck and Sarah take a little more “ownership” of the store at times. Case in point, from Business Trip, I would have liked to see Sarah actually take some action when she saw Lester starting to fiddle with the exhaust. I mean, she knows that’s deadly dangerous,and it’s HER store. I think that actually would have been a fun confrontation.
        Oh well, that does bother me just a little; but it’s not like I’d really want to see anything that actually was in the episode cut! But you know, everything should have been longer.

      • Not that Sarah would get the reference, but I thought Sarah had classified Jeff and Lester as “Mostly Harmless,” even though they routinely (unintentionally) saved the day in the spy world. I would have liked to have seen a scene with Casey, Morgan, and Chuck sitting on the apartment couch in which Sarah is lecturing them they she wants nothing to do with the Buy Morons. Casey would grunt while Morgan and Chuck dutifully nodded.

        I really liked how Jeff and Lester suddenly started noticing thing. As important as the cover was early on, Chuck seemed to do very little work at the Buy More for the last 3 1/2 years. When the Orange Orange closed, they didn’t even bother to explain why Sarah was parking behind the Buy More. Visiting Chuck is one thing, but that doesn’t explain the hours her noticeable car would be in the lot while she was in Castle. Jeff and Lester’s stalking crew would know if she hadn’t entered any store in the plaza. I kept hoping they’d give her a cover as the store’s accountant or inventory manager. The could have made her an “efficiency expert,” which would cause everyone to avoid her.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Theoretically at least Chuck and Sarah kept their ownership of the BuyMore a secret, so while Sarah and Chuck running the BuyMore could have been a lot of fun, it might have required more hand-wavey plotting than even Chuck could pull off. In season 4 I liked how they brought it back and was really looking forward to seeing the BuyMore run by the CIA, sadly that went by pretty quickly. I also missed Sarah having a “normal job” as cover, but they abandoned that almost immediately in favor of the O-O and Castle. Remember however that in season 1 her boss Skip disappeared shortly after interrupting Sarah and Chuck in the Weinerliscious closet, so I guess it’s probably good for Big Mike, Jeff and Lester that she never worked at the Buy More.

        In general I find it odd that Sarah never had more interaction with the BuyMorons based on how much time she spent there. Lester is a particularly odd case given how their limited interactions seem to be all over the map. Jeff at least is a consistent shipper.

      • aerox says:

        Ernie, I vaguely recall they got away with explaining Jeff’s absentee brain-function as carbon-monoxide poisoning. Which apparently has been the cause of his issues all along. So… 5 years of carbon monoxide poisoning… riiiiiiiight.

      • Lester asked Sarah out in Hard Salami. Jeff hit on Sarah in Tom Sawyer. Did Sarah ever interact with Big Mike?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well initially at least Jeff was just an alcoholic, but as Jeffster got weirder and weirder even that didn’t explain the insanity. Lester on the other hand often functioned nearly normally, acting as a check on Jeff, aside from an overblown ego and the stalker thing.

      • joe says:

        @Jeff – “Mostly harmless”. Heh! That’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference! Perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the show. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I get that Chuck and Sarah were “secret” owners, but I would have liked to see her care that Lester could possibly kill someone in HER store. I think after the end of the OO it left Sarah sort of detached, or above the “normal” world. And I think that’s too bad, I would have loved to see her interact more with the retail stories. As Jeff suggested, some sort of quasi-management stooge position would have been perfect. People might be scared of her (humorous… If they only knew!) or just want to avoid her, but at least her presence and interactions would have been explained.

        I think the bottom line is, every Chuck episode should have been 90 minutes long… or longer…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The only scene I can remember anything close to interaction between Sarah and Big Mike is in Santa Claus when she and Ellie are telling the men not to try to be heroes and overpower Ned.

        As far as Jeff hitting on Sarah, I don’t think he knew it was Sarah, since he told Chuck to take his shot with Ellie. So I’m not sure that counts. I did however like Sarah’s interaction with him the next day, played perfectly for cover.

        Lester went from hitting on Sarah to running away in Hard Salami to inappropriately long hugs in Gravitron to referring to her as “that whorey blonde” to affectionately greeting her in prison (much to Sarah’s apparent disgust) in Hack Off.

      • thinkling says:

        I do agree with that Dave … the whole ignoring Lester and the hose to the exhaust pipe. It did bother me a little.

        I would have liked to see the added Sarah involvement in the Buymore. It would have added to the humor and Sarah’s integration into the real world. It would also have backed up her acknowledgement in Zoom as to the strategic importance of the Buymore after their funds were frozen. The season was pretty tight, though, so I guess that’s something they couldn’t fit in?

        Ernie, I loved Sarah’s reaction to Lester in the few brushes she had with him: scaring him off in Salami, trying tactfully to pull away at the family Thanksgiving dinner, and swatting him away in Hack Off. And I liked her reaction to their constant intrusions in Bo.

        As much as I didn’t really like them, I always liked Jeff’s romantic heart … underneath all his stalker-y creepiness. He was definitely the right choice to “normalize.”

      • This entire thread is making me uncomfortable, talking about my alcoholism and battles with insanity. At least some people think I have a romantic heart. Oh wait… the other Jeff… 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree that Sarah interacting with the BuyMorons as their boss, or a boss would have been fun, but as you correctly point out Dave Chuck is a show cursed with far more potential stories and setups than screen time. My point was that having the secret ownership gag as part of the “normalize” Jeff storyline it was kind of an either/or situation. If Sarah and Chuck are the owners or bosses then nobody would question their presence in their off hours or see anything suspicious about them. Watching Jeffster discover the secret, three times no less, was kind of fun.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wait, you mean you’re not the real Jeffrey Barnes?!?!

      • Now I know what you really think of all of the comments I’ve posted here, Ernie.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well he did turn out to be a genius and saved Dianne in the end…

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie, I hadn’t thought of the mutual exclusivity of Sarah in the Buymore as routine and Jeffster uncovering the spy stuff. So I agree they made the right choice. It was just loads of fun watching Jeffster on the case. J’accuse! Too funny!

      • It was easier the way they did it, but the ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Jeff and Lester could’ve seen Sarah as a corporate stooge and not know Chuck and Sarah were owners, leaving a cover intact. They could have realized that Sarah didn’t have an office and disappeared a lot like Summer Greta. Maybe they’d see a gun in Sarah or Casey’s waistband. One of them could have seen Beckman (aka the former store manager) in a General uniform in the home theater room and then later at the Bartowski Christmas party. Verbanski’s entrance into Castle might not have been very covert because she didn’t know to hide from the Buy Morons. If we had 90 minute episodes, I think we could have gotten the best of officeSpace!Sarah and Jeffster’s discovery.

      • thinkling says:

        Sigh … 90 minute episodes … if only!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling I don’t think it would have been impossible to pull off both, the Buy More is after all the worst kept secret in the spy-world, but I think it would have complicated the Jeffster storyline. It’s like Dave and Jeff said, Chuck should have 5 times the budget and every episode should last 90 minutes in a just world.

      • joe says:

        90 minute episodes, indeed. When you think about it, we’ve had the equivalent of something like 35 or so full length motion pictures in the course of 5 years. AND STILL WE WANT MORE! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Want more Joe? I’d like five times the budget, 90 minute episodes, and 20 seasons. Nothing too greedy or unreasonable.

        It is funny for everyone who’s seen some of the bonus material. Schwedak were discussing how the original idea involved a mash up of Alias and Office. And here we’re finally warming up to the idea of how more Buy More time was needed. But oh I would have loved more of Sarah with the Buy Morons, and some really excellent ideas were brought up here.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Hmmm… I dunno about 20 seasons. I could have gone for about 9 more episodes, but at a certain point I want Zach, Yvonne and Adam to be able to move on and capitalize on their well earned reputations. I would have loved more Firefly too, but not at the expense of Chuck, so while 90 minute directors cut episodes, and say 100 of them would be nice, I think they brought the story to a close just about right and in its due time. That said I wouldn’t say no to a TV, online or theatrical sequel, but I’m now interested to see what all the cast and crew moves on to next, and unfortunately, much as I’d like to see them together again, its probably more likely they’ll each move on to higher profile projects of their own.

        I still like my idea for a Thin Man remake.

      • joe says:

        20 seasons? I was thinking in terms of Thinkling’s twins, but not seeing them through college! I like it! 😉

        Next, Malex – the next generation! John Casey, grandparent for hire at large! Jeffster, the reunion tour.

      • atcDave says:

        Honestly Ernie I wish them all well in their careers, but I don’t expect to ever invest in their future projects like I did Chuck. And I would have been perfectly happy if Chuck had been their entire careers. I understand that actors typically crave variety and want to do different things; but I don’t. I’ve been happy in one career (and only two permanent duty stations) for 25 years; and apart from understanding that it’s true, I don’t really get the need to move on.

        I’d be like Joe on this; let’s get those Bartowski kids through college… and into careers… and married… and raising their own kids….

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Interesting Dave. I understand your point, but at some level I don’t like things to drag on. I lost interest in a lot of series I loved at one time around season 6 or 7 (ER, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Friends, etc) since that seems to be about the time the characters become charicatures and most of the original premises have played out, so the show inevitably becomes a soap opera about who is sleeping with whom.

        So far I’ve found a lot of great television I like by following actors or writers/producers from one project to the next. Adam Baldwin has been in both my top 2 television series. Will I ever get another Chuck or Firefly? Something that I invest in so completely? I dunno, but I could settle for another Veronica Mars or Wonderfalls, just fun quality TV that gives me something original.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I do love finding new shows, and I have found several of them by following actors or writers I previously liked; but I also value stable and familiar. I have just, in the last two seasons or so, started to tire of the Simpsons. And that’s a show where I don’t really even like any of the characters (liking characters is considerably less important to me in shows that are purely comedy, like Simpsons or Monty Python). Otherwise, Smallville kind of stands out as one of the few shows I ever got tired of. NCIS:LA may go that same route. One thing both of those shows have in common is that they were never very favorites of mine; whereas Chuck truly was. I think Chuck is more like SG-1, Star Trek, or even original NCIS; it’s a show I think I never would have tired of. Obviously something like making the show trashier or very depressing could change that impression fairly quickly, but as long as they kept Chuck and Sarah happily together, and kept up the blend of action and comedy (basically, continued to follow the S4/S5 formula) I think I would have been happy indefinitely.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think where we differ Dave is that I’m REALLY not a fan of procedurals. I can take a certain amount of that if I like the characters and can see some change and growth in them, but that is often handled so poorly or slowly that I lose respect or affection for the characters. Chuck, with a little digression in season 3 (Chuckwin’s Law Disclaimer) moved all the characters at a pretty brisk pace. In the spy-life there really wasn’t anywhere left for them to go, so I was fine seeing that chapter end with them becoming “normal” and quitting. A show like Castle, where you have some slow movement in who the characters are (even outside the central relationship) can allow me to enjoy it even though it is pretty much a procedural as far as the weekly plot goes. It’s the elements outside the weekly plots that interest me most, and I know on a lot of shows I’m just plain not going to get much of that, especially after a few seasons.

        I was tired of the Simpsons about a dozen years ago. I can see every joke coming anymore, so I rarely watch it unless I happen to land on it while doing something where I have the TV on in the background. The novelty is gone, and I’m fickle that way. Although there was a period where they started having non-combustible things randomly burst into flames that I got a kick out of.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ernie, no doubt I typically prefer more episodic shows. I am both cynical about the pacing of serialized television (gee, it’s October, nothing big can happen in October… or they can’t catch the one-armed man yet, the show’s ratings are still too high…) and crave a familiar happy status quo. Chuck mostly worked out well for me, partly because there was only one season where I disliked the status quo. But as I mentioned before S5 ever even started, I think Chuck needed a different creative team if it was going to go on much longer. I would have wanted a show runner who wanted to celebrate what was already good instead of feeling the need to upset the apple cart every season. And I don’t mean that to trash on much of the excellent work Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak did, but I certainly would have prefered a stable central relationship as a requirement for a longer running show. And I don’t believe it would have been in their style to provide the sort of show I would have liked for a longer period.
        So perhaps I agree with you Ernie in one big way at the end, I’m happy to have the show end instead of constant upheaval for my favorite characters.

      • joe says:

        I agree with that, Dave, Ernie. There’s no way Chuck could continue without being, essentially, Chuck:TNG, even with the same characters. In many respects, that’s what happened for S5, or perhaps even after Honeymooners IMHO.

        The first part of Chuck&Sarah’s lives together, when they met in S1, hit us all where we live. But meetings last only so long, and we were fortunate that so much of the rest was every bit as good, including what we saw of life after their marriage.

        M*A*S*H showed the same kind of character growth, especially the character of Hot Lips. Replacing Frank Burns with Charles Emerson Winchester III was a character evolution of sorts, giving Hawkeye a much more suitable foil (and the same goes for replacing Col. Blake with Col. Potter and Trapper John with BJ Honeycutt). Most people regarded all that as improvements, and I rather enjoyed both versions of the show.

        But I honestly prefer the silly, comedic, less preachy early episodes. In general, when a show undergoes such changes as Chuck would have needed to in order to continue, it’s a crap-shoot.

      • Faith says:

        In a bit of diversion from the majority, I’m happy with what we got. What makes Best Friend, Colonel, et al special is that there are only just one of those, just like there’s a clear delineation in their growth and relationships as time progressed. With more we would have inevitably ended up with recycled plots, repeats and regressions. In some ways, I’m not (personally) in favor of even more (not even minutes after the finale) but I chalk that up to you can’t make everyone happy.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe I agree with that too. I prefered the earlier less self-important version of MASH. That certainly is a show that went through radical changes during its run, and found significant success in several guises. Although I think Chuck started as a more serialized product, and add to that, several possible series finales kept pushing one big change after another.
        But unlike many other shows, Chuck managed to give us a couple of stepping off platforms that could have made for wonderful different sorts of shows. And I love the idea of a post-S5 version of the show that might have been more like Hart to Hart with a better sense of humor. I do like procedurals, and I do like the new status quo established with the finale. I could have enjoyed Chuck and Sarah, with their moron sidekicks Morgan and Alex, taking on a variety of security jobs that keep getting messy and fun every week. That could have amused me for years!

      • atcDave says:

        Faith I have seen plenty of shows that I found boring long before 60 minutes was up, and I’m not really in favor of just repeating story lines in any show. But generally, if I really like a show I’ll always find more, better. Even something like SG-1 that ran 10 seasons, or Star Trek in all its various guises (5 series, 701 episodes, and 11 movies) never bored me. If I love a show I’ll likely love it forever. And more is better (I LOVE director’s cuts too!).
        Now admittedly with Chuck, I was more enamored of the main characters than any particular detail of the concept or setting. So my passion for the show likely would have faded pretty quickly if Zach or Yvonne ever left (possibly even extended to Adam, Ryan, SarahL, I’m not sure). But as long as the cast stayed together I would have happily watched.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        “But as long as the cast stayed together I would have happily watched.”

        Ditto. That magnificent cast was what did it for me.

  11. anthropocene says:

    I like to think that because the series ended as it did, Sarah and Chuck can be reunited in thousands of different ways in fan fiction. (I choose not to acknowledge any alternatives.)

    • anthropocene says:

      “No alternatives” because I agree with all the correspondents above who think that the final episode gave us more than enough evidence that Chuck and Sarah would be together, fine, and happy—especially given the context of the entire series: that their love always overcame every obstacle put in its way.

  12. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Faith & Thinkling:

    Thanks for the write-up.

    Business Trip, Kept Man and Baby are my favorites for the 5th season, with Baby at the top of the list, and one of the series finest, in my opinion. These episodes (and the Hack Off) are just a pleasure to watch, and you both put fingers on important reasons why. Episode 5.10 (Bo) is another matter entirely.

    I was one of the people who felt that the Morgansect was going to be a huge waste of time. When 5.1 was broadcast, it came as a pleasant surprise; I thought it was well done. When the show was released on dvd/bluray, I finally had a chance to watch the rest of the season, and at first, I thought the Morgansect was amusing; not my first choice for a big chunk of the last season, but not bad. That changed when I saw episodes 5.11-5.13, and I realized how the Morgansect was used as a precursor, template and excuse for the abuse heaped on the viewers during the Sarahsect. I now have no desire to rewatch any of the Morgansect episodes.

    I don’t care for much of Bo; it isn’t just the return of the Morgansect and that inane Dale and his rainbows, it is the fact that this episode is, in effect, the last show of the series Chuck. The last 10 minutes or so, and episodes 5.11 – 5.13 feel like the first Chuck telemovie, not part of the series proper. As a number of people have said, the last 3 episodes feel different, “bolted on” is the term I think Big Kev used.

    I’ve heard someone say that a film is a conversation; I think the reason why the last 3 episodes feel different is that the showrunners are no longer talking to us, the fans.

    • thinkling says:

      Hey, VV. Glad you got your DVDs. If a film is a conversation, I think a TV show has the potential of becoming a (pseudo) relationship. And that’s what Chuck became to many of us … with the show, its awesome characters, superb cast, and of course our little community right here.

  13. Chris Dunlap says:

    Thinkling, Faith, great treatise on the battle between the spy and normal life. I’ve been somewhat reluctant to comment as you two are much more eloquent. I think you have really nailed the conflict that Chuck and Sarah faced throughout the series and their remarkable growth. I, like many others felt somewhat unsatisfied with the finale. I attribute some of that to the pacing from the end of Bullet train. The TPTB kept us on our seats right up until the final 5 minutes. I was so amped up that I really couldn’t see the beauty in it. Based on that discomfort, I did many web searches to see if others felt the same as I. That is how I came across “Chuck This”. Fortunately due to the entire “Chuck This” team and the Fan Fiction stories “Sarah Finding Herself” I was finally able to see the objective more clearly and in a much more positive light.

    • atcDave says:

      Awesome to hear your comments Chris! Eloquent or no you made my day!

    • thinkling says:

      Chris, glad to have you join the conversation. We have fun talking about Chuck and the more the merrier.

      I think you really hit on something that kept people from seeing the beauty in the finale. “the pacing from the end of Bullet train. The TPTB kept us on our seats right up until the final 5 minutes. I was so amped up that I really couldn’t see the beauty in it.” I think it took, for a lot of us, some extra processing time. Faith and Ernie saw it right away. I had to take another look and shift my viewing perspective a little and analyze it. Now I’m quite happy, but it took be a while to catch up with some of my co-bloggers.

      I’m really glad the blog and the story helped shine a positive light on it. Nothing makes us happier. Now, stick around, pull up a keyboard and chat a while. 🙂

  14. Sam Carter says:

    “..That final sigh on the beach where she decides to take that leap of faith and trust that Chuck can help her find herself again is where “Sarah Bartowski” re-emerges. Her reactions upon hearing their story is, at least to me, about as definitive as you can get., no leap of faith required. And while I understand some people wanted more I think, like the proposal in the hallway at the end of Push Mix, words would just have ruined the power of the images and diminished the emotional impact of the moment.

    I understand not everyone will agree, and I’m sorry more people can’t appreciate the end the way I do, so I’m not trying to dismiss anyone’s reaction as illegitimate or “wrong”. It is what it is. I just want to put the other view out there for people to consider. It just gets a little tiring sometimes, constantly hearing how much something I appreciate and love and wouldn’t want to see changed sucks. So no offense intended, but at least consider that to some of us, we got a very satisfying ending to the show we love.”

    I understand what you are saying, but like Sarah I just don’t feel it. I didn’t feel the ending, but there is nothing I can do to change it. It is what it is. Glad others like it. Hope most casual fans feel the same way. Despite that I still love the show and can enjoy a lot of it. I guess I’m not as invested in these characters as some other fans. I’m disappointed with the way things ended for Chuck and Sarah, but oh well it’s just a tv show not real life. I have my priorities.

  15. Faith says:

    Seeing a lot of new faces on board in this post. First: welcome. Secondly, thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words.

  16. Chris Dunlap says:

    Dave, Thinkling, thanks for the kind words. Just started reviewing S1 and I find it amazing the amount of subtle clues as the growing relationship between Chuck and Sarah in these early episodes and how they ultimately played out. I’m looking at these episodes with a much more critical eye and am catching many details I missed in the past.

  17. Sam Carter says:

    “My gripe is more with the arc being about Shaw than with anything in Santa Suit specifically(taken at face value, there was plenty to like).”

    Shaw is what made it all a truly outstanding episode to me because of his history with team B.

    ” I think they could have pulled off a decent conspiracy to tie things up, even if it only went back 5 years. But I still think they could have pulled off a bigger one than that. All the balls were in the air. They only needed to give us a juggler.”

    After season 4, I don’t think they could, honestly. I’m with Jeff on this one. Shaw as the one behind the conspiracy ended up being a very decent choice, IMO, because I believed in his hate and need for revenge against team B. and the CIA. Volkoff was a charismatic villain, but he was just too goofy for my tastes to be taken seriously. Shaw is the villain of the story.

    • aerox says:

      It’s bullshit though. The entire conspiracy arc. Because Decker was all like: “Oh yeah, it’s ALL a conspiracy. The intersect, Hartley, Sarah and Casey being sent to you, etc etc etc”. That’s impossible. Unless Shaw was handling these things from inside his crib (when Stephen was building the Intersect), there is no way that there was a ‘conspiracy’. Standard bullshit writing with a poor resolution. The writers understood that it was poor as shit so they just ignored it as hard as they could, by going “Shaw did it, okay, thx, bye,” and never speak of it again.

      • atcDave says:

        Basic rule of thumb; bad guys lie. But I agree entirely with calling it a massive let down. How it ended in Santa Suit seems like a completely different story than they started in Cliffhanger and Zoom. If I had to guess, I’d say someone came up with the “inspiration” for making it Shaw pretty late in the process. In fact, I’d almost bet money Quinn was originally going to be the puppet master; and it was a last minute change to make Shaw’s reappearance seem more important or menacing. Perhaps after casting Quinn they decided Shaw was a better big bad so they quickly re-wrote the story to try to make sense of it. (can that work? I’m not exactly sure how far out they cast vs shoot).

        It would be interesting to get some of the inside scoop on this. But as I said elsewhere, I don’t believe its catastrophic either way. The various baddies and conspiracies on Chuck often felt underdeveloped to me anyway. I was watching for the good guys, not the bad guys. I think better story here would have been… well, better. But I enjoyed a lot of the episode, even if it doesn’t quite rise to favorite status, it was mostly harmless.

      • joe says:

        I had that same feeling, Dave. – that Quinn was intended as the original “conspirator” and Shaw was a last minute substitution. My gut also says that Decker was not going to be offed so easily and early in the story line, originally.

        I’d love to have a chat with Fedak about that.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Fedak actually goes into some detail about this topic in the #105 Podcast at ChuckTV. Even though I just listened to it a couple of days ago, I can’t recall the exact time hack, but I think it is somewhere around the 35 minute mark. I only listened to the first 42 minutes–the moderators just got on my nerves and I was most interested in his comments re: the finale and Chuck and Sarah as characters. He says alot of the same things as he did in the Sepinwall interview, but says it slightly differently, with a little more detail about certain subjects, this being one. His comments were that they knew the conspiracy would always have a Shaw component to it and they always knew they were going to bring in a new bad guy at the the end. There is more I am waiting to address with the last episode arc review wrt Quinn, etc.

        Also pertinent to this review were his comments about the role of the “prologue”/”Normal Arc” episodes. Fedak indicates they were really a setup for the heart wrenching scene in vs. Sarah where Chuck is trying to get Sarah to remember him. The idea or concept is that Chuck knows all of these secret, intimate things about Sarah in order to prove to her that there is no way he was just an assignment/asset and ultimately her recognition that he is the key. Now, the other writers may have structured the season to provide glimpses of what will be, but according to Fedak that was not the primary purpose.

      • atcDave says:

        Decker’s exit it did seem pretty abrupt! But that turned out to be an awesome moment; almost “Indy shoots the swordsman” sort of moment. It would be great if that were a last minute change just like the old Raiders scene!

      • BigKev67 says:

        I suspect you’re right – which leads me to believe that Brandon Routh must have some seriously incriminating photos of Fedak somewhere. Fedak extended his arc in S3 when most of us wanted him gone, then brought him back in the back half when the original intent was very clearly to kill him off. And now he’s parachuted into S5 for virtually no good storytelling reason…. Yep – some photo of Fedak in a dress is the only explanation 🙂
        FWIW I really liked Santa Suit on first watch – but it’s one of those episodes (like Baby) that really doesn’t stand up to much detailed scrutiny. You have to completely ignore all the obvious questions, or the episode collapses in a heap.

      • Sam Carter says:

        @aerox:”It’s bullshit though. The entire conspiracy arc. Because Decker was all like: “Oh yeah, it’s ALL a conspiracy. The intersect, Hartley, Sarah and Casey being sent to you, etc etc etc”. That’s impossible. Unless Shaw was handling these things from inside his crib (when Stephen was building the Intersect), there is no way that there was a ‘conspiracy’. Standard bullshit writing with a poor resolution. The writers understood that it was poor as shit so they just ignored it as hard as they could, by going “Shaw did it, okay, thx, bye,” and never speak of it again.”

        Agreed. That ending in VS Cliffhanger felt like.. well like a last min cliffhanger!! They obviously realized that it was a big mess so they brought back the best villain to try to fix it a bit (and I loved Santa Suit). I’m glad they did it because the ‘huge conspiracy’ they were apparently trying to do really scared me. I was just almost praying that they didn’t bring Orion back from the dead, which would have been horrible and super lame, IMO. I was fine with the mythology in the first 3 seasons overall, but after that not so much. The Intersect became almost a joke… it’s still a fun show, though. Better than many things out there.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny though Kev, the episodes you slam give me exactly opposite reactions. I find Santa Suit mostly boring and I only have re-watched it on my three full season re-watches; But Baby I’ve probably watched 20 times. My absolute S5 favorite.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        My biggest issue with Shaw has always been that in order for him to exist everyone else has to behave like they’ve lost half there IQ.
        Chuck is ……. someone else in Curse.
        Decker role is reduced to nothing.
        Sarah is again given questionable judgement in order to go see Shaw in prison so TPTB can deliver the baby line.

        As far as Shaw running the conspiracy – just like Sham, I didn’t buy what TPTB were selling.

      • thinkling says:

        CaptMediocre, I agree with some of that. Having Decker as Shaw’s stooge made him look pathetic, and having Chuck release the virus was beneath his ability to come up with a plan. However, I do think Sarah had every reason to go see Shaw, because he told her in Castle that he knew everything. Then he gave a litany of details to prove it. That gave her cause to fear that he might know the one thing she didn’t want anyone to know. Of course, I think it’s very unlikely to have been in the Intersect, but that’s another matter.

        You may have hit on the only justification for the return of Shaw: it made the baby reveal more dramatic. I suppose Ryker could have found out some other way, but Shaw being that instrument added a layer of creepy and cruel that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I don’t know any other CS enemy or Chuck villain who would have gone that far in their revenge … endanger a little girl to spite Sarah. The only other motive would have been splitting the money with Ryker, but at that point the whole thing would have lost that creepy edge.

        WW1, I thought the only thing that Fedak specifically mentioned as a set up for Sarah to realize Chuck knew stuff was the house, not so much the other things … but the house with the red door that she had never shared with anyone, that’s why he took her there. (but it’s been a while since I listened to the interview) I think the rest really is their dream: having a normal life, the new company, and kids. And Fedak includes it in his vision for their future.

      • ww1posterfan says:


        I’m pretty sure I heard it and interpreted his comments correctly. I even jotted down notes because it struck me. I’ll check it out again later tonight just to make sure I have it right in my own mind. He also was pretty adamant about the ending, “we had to do something special and it had to feel different from what we had done in the past, but we also knew it had to be emotional ……fold down to what was the core of the show-the C&S relationship–what if he didn’t get the girl?….the stakes of the show were the relationship.” These comments to me indicate that this ending was intended to be different from all the other potential finales (the terms he used were “heavy and evocative”) and that’s why it felt different. —Sorry for getting ahead of the review.

  18. Sam Carter says:

    @aerox:”I’d like to put in that for all the crap that Brandon Routh gets for his supposed lack of acting, I’ve seen a lot of comments that deal with hatred for the man based on the role that he plays. Seems like he did his job just fine to me”


  19. Sam Carter says:

    @uplink:”Santa Suit is in my bottom 2 for season 5 along with Bearded Bandit. Much of it because there was no point to bringing Shaw back other than just to bring him back. It did not advance the story one bit,”

    I”m not aerox.. but, IMO, Santa Suit is the best episode of S5, and many critics seem to agree that it was an outstanding episode. And it DID advance the story in a way, it showed how far Chuck (and Casey and Sarah) had gone as a spy and a man. It’s an episode that highlighted all the good things about this show, because the epi had it all: great suspense, action, comedy and romance and heart. It did have some plot holes, but the it was all character-based so it was worth it. Many here like Baby, but to me that’s one of the worst eps in the whole series. Just so many plot holes and silly retcons. Also, I happen to think that Brandon is a good actor, and he played an amazing villain. But to each their own, I dont really think it’s worth arguing with you. You HATE Shaw/Routh and adore Yvonne/Sarah and she’s the best actress ever and deserves an Emmy, heck and Oscar already! 😉

    • uplink2 says:

      Sam/Stargazer, I’m not surprised by your reaction. In fact I could have predicted it.

      As far as your hate/love comparison goes, yes I do hate Shaw but I don’t hate Routh. I’ve heard he is a good guy. I just think he is a weak and limited actor who was miscast in a role that was poorly constructed and he brought nothing to the table till he was given a one dimensional character. When he was given that he was ok but failed miserably as a multi-dimentional conflicted character he was first shown as. By the time he showed something it was too late and many of us just wanted him gone.

      But I am unapologetic in my love for Sarah but mainly Yvonne’s performance in that role. I also think that if you gave an objective view of the actors on the show that Yvonne would rank #1. She has played one of the most multi-layered and diverse characters ever in television and performed above and beyond expectations. Zach, Adam and Sarah are all very good actors but Yvonne is in a class by herself. That’s why I’m really excited for her role in Dexter, a show that is full of great acting and yes Emmy winning talent. The description of her role intrigues me and I will be very happy to get re-involved with my friends at #Emmy4Yvonne.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s no secret we tend to be pretty big Sarah/Yvonne fans here. I would agree her performance was the most sophisticated and nuanced on the series. Although I think casting was GENERALLY one of the major strengths of the show (there were a couple of failures, but most casting choices were inspired).

    • atcDave says:

      Sam Santa Suit did score in the upper half of our season long ratings poll (actually 4th most liked overall), so I would say it is generally well regarded. Although Baby ranked number two among respondents in that same poll.
      For myself; I’d rank Baby number one, and Santa Suit number eleven. So neither of us is exactly typical.

    • aerox says:

      I didn’t enjoy Santa Suit. Comedy fell flat for me and it seemed more like they simply wanted to tie up Yvonne to a chair and have Brandon fake-beat the shit out of her rather than tell a compelling story to continue the arc. The only thing that was good were the fight scenes, but it felt reminiscent of Ring 2 (although I suppose some people will wax on about the coming of full circle, rather than being beaten and saved by Sarah in Ring 2, he beats Shaw and saves Sarah).

      Also, for what it’s worth, I would not be opposed to becoming friends with Brandon Routh. He seems like an awesome guy and I’m not surprised that Zachary and him gravitated towards another.

  20. Sam Carter says:

    @uplink: “As far as your hate/love comparison goes, yes I do hate Shaw but I don’t hate Routh. I’ve heard he is a good guy. I just think he is a weak and limited actor who was miscast in a role that was poorly constructed and he brought nothing to the table till he was given a one dimensional character. When he was given that he was ok but failed miserably as a multi-dimentional conflicted character he was first shown as. By the time he showed something it was too late and many of us just wanted him gone”

    OK.. To YOU and others he failed.. but Not to me and others. I just think that (again) many Chuck/Sarah shippers didn’t even give him a chance to begin with. But there are others who are more objective and can appreciate that he did in fact a solid job in the role overall, and to most Shaw is the best villain and the most effective. He won in that Poll and IGN also recognized him as a the best villaiin of the year. IMO, only someone who is a good enough actor can win against worthy opponents. I think Brandon showed some depth as both a good and bad guy, but you just can’t see it because maybe you’re blinded. For instance, you think he sucked in Other Guy, but I think he was really good, especially in the cafe scene; I saw in his face and eyes lots of reluctance and sadness and also hate, and all at the same time. That’s good acting to me and leyered. He showed emotion. Same deal in American Hero when he saw the video of Sarah killing his wife. But you guys think it was cheesy.. But when Yvonne, Chuck or even Adam do it is great acting… I also think his performance in Santa Suit was great, and I could see and feel his anger. A one note actor can’t do that. Richard Burgi, for instance, is a one note actor. He really brought so little to the role, even though he has the look for a spy. BTW, I like them as actors and I think Brandon held his own too. I also loved his work as both Superman and Clark. His work in that film was very nuanced, he showed lots of emotion with his face. I could feel his sadness and his happiness when he realized that Lois was upset with Superman and when he talked to his sleeping son. Yes he is very handsome, but I also think I’m objective enough to realize that he is a good actor just like you feel about Yvonne.

    • Sam Carter says:

      @uplink: He can also do comedy very well. His Clark was very funny, and his character in Scott Pilgrim was hilarious. Very limited actor? Nah.

  21. Sam Carter says:

    @uplink:”I found this an interesting parallel with this discussion. It’s from a review of Routh’s new show for CBS.”

    And I”ve read some other positive reviews on the pilot and his work in it, like this one:

    Maureen Ryan never liked Shaw or Brandon (she’s a shipper!), so no surprise. You seem to dismiss every postive thing said about him (like the poll), but embrace the negative. biased much?

  22. Sam Carter says:

    @atcDave:”I actually really enjoyed Superman Returns. Although a fairly stoic performance seems fitting for Superman.”

    Really? Aww that’s awesome. It’s a solid supehero movie, I love it. too much drama and not enough action, according to the detractors. Oh well, I thought it was epic and very heartfelt. Kate Boshworth was miscast, though. I still like her a bit, and I liked Lois’ story in the film, but she just didn’t have enough spunk. Loved Brandon and Spacey.

  23. Sam Carter says:

    Here is another poll for fav season:

    season 1 gets so little love. not fair.

  24. Verkan_Vall says:

    Sorry, couldn’t find the right spot in the appropriate thread, so I’m putting it here.

    @atcDave: inre prejudging the LIs before the 3rd season was cast

    Roger that. I’ve seen so much pain and wreckage from love triangles in real life that they have no interest for me as entertainment, and (as I’ve said before) splitting up Chuck & Sarah in S3 made no sense from a business point of view. That was the root cause of S3’s crash, and imo, NO actor could have salvaged the role of Daniel Shaw, Matt Bomer included.

    I’m starting to think that this whole “eternal WT/WT” nonsense is a blight on the entire industry.

    • Johnny Boy says:

      “I’m starting to think that this whole “eternal WT/WT” nonsense is a blight on the entire industry.”

      TPTB just kept pushing it and trying to tell us that it is what we (the fans) wanted. I mean on the additional features on the season 3 dvd, Yvonne is asked about the love trapezoid, and she mentions that is turns up the angst, which is what the fans like to see (I’m paraphrasing her quote). It’s quite obvious TPTB were happy to keep the WT/WT going on as long as possible. In the end it just hurt the show even more.

      • I don’t understand if very well, but a lot of people do like angst. I assume part of it might be because they want to see people on TV who are less happy then they are. Some of these people are probably those that think Romeo and Juliet is romantic.

        In the Castle fandom right now, in a time when WT/WT was (probably) resolved in the show (33 episodes after Charah), a group of fanfiction writers are celebrating “The Great Castle Angst Fest of 2012,” writing coma, divorce, and character death fics. I don’t get it, but the stories are getting a lot of reviews (7 chapters, 7.4K words, 645 reviews for one miniseries). I’m not mentioning the series because I don’t want to promote the angst.

        I’m a fluff, humor, and action guy, so I happy Chuck resolved the WT/WT faster than I was expecting (I was skeptical after S2 because of Hollywood’s tendencies) and faster than almost every other show I’ve seen.

      • olddarth says:

        That and the collapsing series mythos. Without a well defined story driver, the import of anything that happened between characters was diminished because next episode it could all be stood on its head or swept under the carpet,

      • atcDave says:

        There clearly is a segment of the population that loves an angst drenched story. Everything from Greek tragedy to soap operas take advantage of that. Of course there’s also the antithesis to that, Hallmark and “family” movies. Most of us, I think, are really somewhere in between. I mean, I consider myself a fan of more warm and fuzzy stuff, and yet a lot of the built in angst of the first two seasons (all the lies and secrets, a cover relationship between two people who actually love each other but can’t be together without one of them being reassigned) really sold the whole story and drew a lot of us very deeply.

        I think the real trick for any story teller is knowing when a particular theme is spent and it’s time to move on. Those who have read many stories off my fan fiction favorites list will notice a lot of the early stories I love have a lot of angst. I’m completely fine with the idea hard obstacles had to be overcome. But once overcome, they have to STAY overcome. Returning to a theme or story they already wore out will never work. Just like bringing characters back from the dead gets more groans and eye rolls than actual excitement; trying to return to uncertainty or bring back “defeated” former love interests rarely plays well once the story has moved on.
        The writers of Chuck deserve a lot of praise for moving on from the early period, that Hollywood seems so capable of dealing with; to a more mature relationship that Hollywood only rarely gets right. They do deserve some criticism too for concocting a character damaging angst fest that dragged on for most of a season AFTER most viewers were already tired of such things. But I’m not looking to get into that again…

      • uplink2 says:

        Great comments Dave. I agree completely and that is the essence of for many why season 3 failed. Chuck and Sarah still had many many issues to resolve after Ring 1 but the need for OLI’s wasn’t one of them. That shipped sailed and in neither case that the show forced on us did they really learn anything new. Chuck learned nothing from Hannah that he hadn’t already learned from Lou and Jill and Sarah learned nothing that she hadn’t already learned from Chuck, Bryce and Cole. Their characters needed to grow, change and evolve to get to the place they both needed/wanted to be but the outside relationship part gained them nothing. It just came off for exactly what it was, forced, contrived and unfulfilling.

        I have never felt they needed to be together at the start of season 3 but what they didn’t need were outside LI’s that just were there to delay them getting together till 3.13. Both needed to grow but IMO none of that growth came from Shaw or Hannah as LI’s.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        As far as angst goes (from a little lower in the discussion), I’m usually OK with it. But it has to be real. After S2, any angst had the showrunners fingerprints all over it and it was plainly visible. In a way, pushing the angst (all / most shows do it) devalues the payoff. It certainly in Chuck’s case.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Capt Mediocre I think that devaluing occurs when the protagonists start looking stupid or faithless. That was part of my S3 gripe; just as Castle kind of toed that line in their S4. It is clearly an institutional problem with screen writing philosophy and/or education. Pretty much every show pushes things too far before they get it right.

      • Mel says:

        “Without a well defined story driver, the import of anything that happened between characters was diminished because next episode it could all be stood on its head or swept under the carpet,”

        I don’t fully agree with that, I think the writers did okay work with the characters developing realistically (early season 3 excluded), but failed miserably with the Intersect mythology.

        I often thought Chuck was the opposite of Fringe in this, Fringe had a strong mythology and for the most part they followed the plot lines they set up. On the other hand, Fringe’s characters often felt a bit off to me. Of course, then came Fringe season 4 which basically erased the first 3 seasons out of existence. As a viewer I didn’t particularly appreciate getting told most things I had seen either didn’t happen, or happened very differently… and everyone forgetting Peter (the other main character) makes Sarah’s amnesia look pretty pale in comparison.

      • olddarth says:

        The big difference between the Chuck and Fringe amnesia storyline is that Fringe started the season with it and then addressed it over the course of the season. And the characters ended up in a better place at the end of Season4.

        Chuck ended the season with the amnesia storyline and left the characters in a poorer place.

      • uplink2 says:

        OD, not being a Fringe fan I really can’t comment but your analysis of Chuck is spot on. Chuck and Sarah ended season 5 in a worse place than they began and that is to me at least not how this show should have ended. They took us to the mountain top and showed us the beautiful valley below in this arc but then turned around and shoved us and them back down the hill and left us there.

      • Johnny Boy says:

        Chuck and Sarah ended very badly. But to make what they did worse there’s an interview on the sarah walkers fangirls website with Yvonne and Adam. They are asked if the finale ends in a happy way, and Adam answers “come on it’s a comedy”

      • atcDave says:

        I think you guys are being WAY too negative about it. The ending was a bit of a disappointment, but I think we saw the postlude all season long. I wish they’d done a better job showing it, but I’m 100% certain Chuck and Sarah are in a beautiful spot at series’ end. In fact really, the best spot of the entire series; they escaped the spy life and are now able to start a “normal” life together that they’d been dreaming of almost since the start. I would have preferred knowing more about Sarah’s recovery, but we do know they are together.

      • atcDave says:

        Johnny Boy that interview is from before shooting even wrapped, they were trying VERY hard not to give anything away. We have heard subsequent comments from Chris, Zach and Yvonne that the ending was good for Chuck and Sarah. It will always be a failure that so many viewers are uncertain in the end; but paying attention to the story and details does make the happy ending pretty clear.
        As always, anyone is allowed to like or not like any part of the show. I myself tend to tolerate the ending more than actually like it. But when someone says they ended in a bad way or bad place; that is factually wrong. All evidence, internal and external, indicates a very good ending for Chuck and Sarah.

      • Johnny Boy says:

        I do agree with what your opinion, and i can tolerate the ending itself , now much more that upon first viewing, partly because of this and other sites with opinions and views of the finale that were much more positive that my original reaction. Its just that to me the memory erasing flash scenes toward the end of the bullet train, and the Sarah at the start of Vs. Sarah, are still quite fresh and very so much darker than the overall tone of the series. I don’t feel we were shown enough of the recovery part of Sarah’s memories. I know we see alot of small things, but it left some of us wanting to see. But in the end Chuck and Sarah are together on the beach.

      • atcDave says:

        Johnny Boy I agree with that entirely. The scene at the end of Bullet Train was brutal, and really one my very least favorite moments of the entire series. I even agree with saying the beach scene at the end was woefully inadequate payoff for having to sit through it. But I think it was a good, possibly even great ending in the sense of the promise it holds for the characters’ future together. Chuck and Sarah weathered the storm; a little damaged (especially Sarah), but together with a long and happy future ahead…

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, maybe it is a bit of an exaggeration but to me at least though she is on the mend Sarah is not fully back to the amazing Sarah Bartowski we saw in Zoom, Business Trip or Bullet Train in the sleeper car when we say goodbye, or try to at least, in the finale. OD is right, she is worse off at the end of the season than she was at the beginning. Chuck is worse off for two reasons, the pain of having to see what has happened to his wife and yes I think he is worse off having the Intersect back at the end of his journey. He can never fully escape the spy life as long as he has it and that is a minus in my book. Chuck did not come full circle like I thought they had intended. Chuck and Sarah Bartowski ended season 5 in a worse place than they began it. Maybe they will become stronger for it, maybe they have come to realize things about how they want to live their life but overall I agree with OD here.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the “best” place Chuck and Sarah were in all year was from the end of Baby until the start of Bullet Train. But they were still in a good place at the end so I’m not much worried about the better/worse of it. And I’m content with the Intersect as their secret… actually more than content, I like to think there’s still some potential for adventure in their future.

  25. anthropocene says:

    I agree that Chuck and Sarah had a good ending and that they are together and happy, but I’m not so sure that they can totally escape their past life as long as Chuck carries the Intersect. The door is open at least a crack for future intrigue.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah that I have no problem with that Anthro. I think they will always have a little more adventure in their lives than the rest of us! Its the suggestion that the characters or relationship were in some way broken or undone by that finale I think is simply wrong.

  26. Rachel Smith Cobleigh says:

    This was fun and lovely. Great analysis! And I liked the Biblically-inspired quote for the final line. You guys made me smile: nice job with the hand-offs!

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