Pilot (1.01)

Well it looks like its time to kick off the Chuck This, complete series re-watch.  The plan is, to have a new post up every Sunday night for the next 91 weeks.  My guess is, we may miss a few, and the schedule will slip some, but for now this is a 91 week plan. This will be a more casual project, in some ways, than our previous re-watch themes.  The major topics have all been discussed many times, and I don’t know that anything new will actually be brought to light.  But we will, each week, talk about favorite moments, memories, and perhaps some “big picture” thoughts now that we have the complete context for the entire series.  This may mean some episodes will not get more than a few hundred words, while some may get quite lengthy.  We will see.

So gather your family, friends, and housebroken pets and join with us in a full series re-watch, after the jump we start our first discussion on the Chuck Pilot.

I remember summer of 2007 as a pretty slow time for me and television.  Just the year before, five shows I’d been watching all ended at about the same time.  It was one of those rare times when I was actively looking for new shows.

An unlikely hero!

I was very excited when Burn Notice started that July.  It was probably the most excited I’d been for a new show in a long time.  When football season started in September I was quite intrigued by previews for a new NBC show.  Chuck looked like a good combination of action and humor that always catches my eye.  I still remember some of the catch phrases from those previews like “Whoh, computer emergency” and of course “Vicky Vale…”.  So often with previews, I see good and bad and am unsure how enthused to be.  But I had no such doubt with all the different spots I saw for Chuck, it looked like a Dave show.

It’s Vicky Vale…

The moment the show started I was getting even more excited.  I kid you not, I’ve done the escaping from my own party thing (yes, I’m an introvert nerd!).  I was giggling at the dialogue (“there’s Captain Awesome”/”please don’t call him that””I’m working on a five year plan, just need to choose a font””I think he’s an accountant”[Bryce Larkin: not an accountant]).

So Burn Notice was my favorite show for about eight weeks before it was usurped.  The Chuck Pilot was absolutely the most fun I ever remember having with a new show.  Apart from the mix of action and humor that initially drew me in, I loved the characters.  Especially Chuck and Sarah.  Chuck was the sort of nerd I could relate to, or at least the sort of nerd I could hope to be.  He was awkward and shy; but he was also intelligent, loyal, modest and moral.  We also learned, to Chuck’s own surprise, he was quite brave and thought clearly under pressure.  Again, he was the nerd I could want to be.  And of course Sarah was a wonderful heroine.  Obviously she wasn’t an open book in the way Chuck was; but she was fearless and deadly, and was willing and able to be Chuck’s guide and protector in his scary new world.  Chuck and Sarah madethe show and I was very excited about the potential with these two leads.  I wasn’t so sure what I thought of Casey or Morgan, but the other characters seemed to be a good mix of absurd, bizarre and/or likable.

Whoa! Computer Emergency…

A few thoughts having just re-watched.  First, this is easily the episode I’ve watched more than any other.  I always like beginnings, especially once we get a ways in, and as such I’ve watched the Pilot many, many times.  But it has been a little while.  So first thought, gee they all looked so young!  I also found the changes in sets interesting.  I understand the Pilot was mostly shot on location, and the original Buy More was actually an empty Mervyn’s.  Actual sets for the apartment and store were built once the show was picked up.  There was also the single casting change with Wendy Makkena playing the General (never named, so maybe not Beckman, but she was wearing the same hair!).  So the Pilot looks quite different in a lot of little details.

One of the great pleasures in watching again was feeling like it has held up well over the course of the series.  Back story was revisited enough times that the events of the Pilot later felt far more involved than we initially knew, but I still don’t feel they ever broke continuity too badly.  One interesting item; even though Casey was the one at the Intersect building who shot Bryce, Sarah actually seemed to know far more about the Intersect than Casey did.  I still like the theory Bryce’s “Omaha” line (Chuck vs the Nemesis) indicates she had at least some passing association with the project earlier in her career.  The “handler” discussion from the end of Chuck vs the Baby would seem to indicate this was her first mission as agent-in-charge; we also know of her reputation as Graham’s enforcer which may indicate a bit of experience with troubleshooting, and fixing busted missions.  So we can perhaps conclude she was a promising and favored young agent, and this was to be her first big opportunity.  Some of her discussions with Graham feel like he was an insufferable micro-manager.

But more than anything, this episode is just so much fun.  Easily one of the very best Pilots I’ve ever seen.  I really can’t think of another show I liked so much, so fast.  My feelings and opinions would become deeper and stronger on certain things as the show ran, but this was truly a great start.

~ Dave

Ernie Waxes Nostalgic

So here we are, about to embark on a two-year project, a leisurely once a week re-watch of, as Chris Fedak says, The Chuck Show.  It is, to me, an interesting bit of serendipity.  About the time this comes out it’ll be just a week short of three years since I discovered Chuck, and my introduction to that show was anything but leisurely.

I believe I was aware that there was a show called Chuck.  I was into Heroes and recorded it regularly, but I hadn’t bothered to check out Chuck.  I do recall scanning past it and wondering what the hot blonde girl was doing wearing a dirndl in an electronics home theater room, but sad to say that wasn’t enough to lure me in, and since Heroes was starting to lose me in season 3 my discovery of Chuck had to wait yet another season.

I discovered Chuck after season 2, after the Subway campaign, after the decision to bring it back as a post Olympics replacement show, and after Comicon where fans exploded after Josh Schwartz hinted that Chuck and Sarah’s road to coupledom wasn’t going to be as simple as a post Barstow hookup.

I rented Chuck simply because it came up in my Netflix suggestions.  I put in the first disk intending to check out the pilot then get to bed early, and ended up watching the entire disk.  I was hopelessly hooked by Chuck Versus The Tango, but never did rent that second disk.  I stopped off at a Buy More Best Buy and bought the first season the next day, went through the first season over a weekend, then bought an iTunes season pass for season 2 since it wasn’t yet out on DVD.  Season 2 took me about a week.  Then something curious happened.  I put that first disk back in, and started over.  Immediately.  I’d never done that with a TV show.  I’d re-watched, but usually only after some time had passed.  Even Firefly didn’t get an immediate full re-watch, just a few selected episodes in random order.  I just wanted these people on my TV (or computer) constantly.  I haven’t gone more than a few days without watching Chuck since.

Something started to happen as I re-watched.  I started to see subtle themes, or deeper stories than were just on the surface, and there were marvelous visual and musical cues I’d missed at first.  It dawned on me that perhaps some of what kept drawing me back was that there was a lot more to this show than just a fun comedy with a great love story unfolding.  It was visually rich the music was great, it was more like I experienced the show than watched it.  That lead to either one of the best or worst decision of my life.  I went online looking for other fans of the show to see if they saw what I saw.  Thus started what became a three-year journey in the Chuck fandom.

Like many here I started on the NBC boards and quickly struck up a rapport with the denizens of those boards.  A few seemed to share a lot of my views, and all shared my enthusiasm.  Discussions became epic, in  length and depth and detail, and eventually I followed the link in Amy’s tagline over here and started to comment here too.

It was just Joe, Dave and Amy back then, and for some reason I’ll never understand (and that probably still confuses Dave) they asked me to join their merry band just before season 3 started.  And that is the story of how I found my Chuck family, and my hobby (some would say obsession) for the next 3, now going on 5 years.

Oh yeah, the pilot…  Can’t put it much better than Dave.  The first thing that grabbed me was how much fun the show was and how they could be deadly serious at times, but still not take themselves too seriously.  It was all there in the first few minutes of the pilot, from Chuck and Morgan’s antics to Bryce’s heroics and brutal death.  These weren’t caricatures, from the beginning they had depth, and while they played on stereotypes, these characters were so much more than that.  They had rich inner lives only hinted at initially, but hinted at right off the bat.

There was Chuck’s lost love, Sarah’s need to fix Bryce’s betrayal, the shock on her face as Sarah looks at a smiling Chuck at her doorstep, just after being ordered to be ready to kill him.  Oh, and Sarah’s interesting past in that security camera flash.  Don’t freak out Chuck.  Eventually you’ll realize it was the best birthday ever.

I guess that is a good way to look at the pilot, both as a fan and for the show.  Best Birthday Ever.

Upon re-watch a few things struck me.  I kept wanting to insert a day, or know if the day had changed.  The influence of Baby’s problematic timeline/retcon.  I also kept thinking about “piece of cake” and if she was still thinking that the second time she approached Chuck (with, by the way, a pickup line so cheesy it would have been a deal breaker for anyone other than Sarah Walker).

So I thought of something we could highlight in this re-watch.  The multi-season mini-arc.  Mine for this episode, Pilot, Nacho Sampler, Baby.  Think of those scenes that don’t quite fit not so much in terms of the plot or canon timelines, but as a window into the character’s thoughts and emotional state.  The Sarah that stood before Graham, ready to start her next assignment in Baby had just had to turn her back on the closest thing she ever had to a home, and the closest she’d ever get to a “normal life” because of the corruption and deceit and greed that filled her world.  She was no longer willing to be “handled”, or run by another agent.  She didn’t trust her superiors, their motives, or their goals.  From now on, Sarah was going to be her own kind of spy.  But a spy was still very much who she was, and it placed her in the position of having to struggle with her choices and to actually think about right or wrong or the cost to innocents caught up through no fault of their own.  We saw at the beginning of Baby she was clearly already having doubts about the spy world, and by the end she probably thought there was no other life available to her.  In a way, watching Baby gives the pilot a whole new story under the story and a subtext that we didn’t really get for quite a while as the series ran.  I found it only added to my enjoyment, even though that Sarah and that subtext was nowhere to be seen when the pilot was there, they managed to place it there retroactively.

I’ll just say it.  GENIUS!

Dave Again

Believe it or not, I was all on board with bringing Ernie into the fold!  I couldn’t have known how often we would disagree, but I have enjoyed the debate, and being forced to defend (and really think about!) my own opinions and attitudes.  Although I’m not sure if Ernie has actually changed my mind on anything I liked or disliked, I know he has helped me to seriously examine the how and why of many of my reactions.  And actually, many posters and commenters here at this site have helped enormously with that.  I certainly know more clearly what works and doesn’t work for me than I ever have before!

Whoa! Computer emergency!

Ah, my turn! First, I realize that we have a large number of new readers, so I’ll leave the nostalgia to Ernie and Dave and concentrate on the why Chuck vs. The Intersect (which is the official title of the pilot episode) still seems so fresh and new to me.

But man, that’s hard. For many us, it’s like seeing an old friend, or, more to the point, an old sweetheart. No matter how long it’s been, the memories are fresh and return like a flood; certainly it’s been that way for me.

The rare and unusual thing (I personally think it’s the great thing) about this show and about this episode in particular is that there are still things to be discovered. Why not? Chuck was built that way. The pilot comes across as more deep, rich and perhaps even more honest after seeing Chuck vs. The Goodbye than it did before. I mean, A geek (uh, make that, a nerd) with a computer in his head and a loathsome bearded troll for a best friend? A super-hot super-spy and a stone-cold NSA assassin who are hot on his tail, and a former roommate-not-an-accountant who (we know now) drives the next three years of Chuck and Sarah’s story/lives, even though he “dies” before the first scene is over?


And it could have ridiculous. But before the episode is over, sometime after Chuck fixes Sarah’s phone and sometime before they talk on the beach, it becomes wonderful. Something about Chuck and Morgan sighing “Yeah…” together over Irene Demova, Chuck saying he had hoped Sarah Walker was a cannibal (because he’d never seen one before) and Sarah telling Chuck I may have to point my gun at you – don’t freak out!” is different from anything I had seen before. There’s danger and gentleness together. Somehow, there’s laughter and threats in the same scene. For the viewers, there’s fun, adventure, excitement, a little romance, a lot of cuteness and … did I say fun? You bet.

There are a lot of technical reasons why the pilot is so great a beginning, and like Dave said, we’ve discussed them. There are the fabulous comedic talents of Zac and Josh, the outstanding choice of music (and musical underpinning of Tim Jones), the excellent casting (shout out to Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, Scott Krinski & Vik Sahay, Julia Ling, Mark Christopher Lawrence and even C.S. Lee!) a unique story concept and of course, the amazing chemistry between Zac and Yvonne. But talking about the technical aspects misses the point.

Chuck grabs the heart. As funny and as exciting as it is, it’s about friendship, family (group hug!), about what life can throw at you, and love. Boy, is it about love. Adventure shows and heroes are a dime a dozen on TV. So are “buddy shows” and comedies. But this show is all that and about an underachieving everyman finding the courage for just once in his life to grab at the brass ring. It’s about the shot we all want Chuck to take, because, whether we are 8 or 68, there’s something of ourselves in that story.

Maybe it was about the time we took a chance and failed, or about the time we took a chance and won. Or it’s about us today and tomorrow. Chuck (the character) asks us to take a risk like he did and to grab at the the next ring when the chance comes along. It’s never too late to try, after all, and it’s never too late to do the right thing even when the cost is terribly high.

Did I say Chuck is deep and rich? Certainly.

I always want to remember that the episode ended on the beach, with Sarah telling Chuck to do one last thing for her – “Trust me.” That’s not right. There’s a final scene, in the Buy More, where Big Mike tells Chuck to train the new employee – it’s John Casey, who just spent a day trying to kill him. There’s a new customer also, who’ll soon be working nearby, and Chuck flashes on her ring. She’s a stone-cold assassin herself, who’ll pretty much stop at nothing to complete her mission. Everything in Chuck’s life is changed now, and compared to them, Chuck is the weak sister. In a battle of wills (or any other kind of battle, for that matter), he doesn’t stand a chance.

Yet, of all the characters, Chuck is the one who’s unchanged at the 91st episode. Yes, he’s grown, but Chuck is still the same guy who told a sad child that “Real ballerina’s are tall.”. The same guy who whimpered in the Large Mart at a menacing figure pointed his finger at two super-spies and said “You – you need me.” Because they do. Chuck changes them. He has that effect on Morgan, Casey and especially on Sarah. And truth be told, he changed me, too.

Oops. I guess I got nostalgic anyway!

– joe

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

That’s what Bryce said as he hit the Intersect transfer button. It was a theme of sorts for the series, and it’s certainly true of us here at ChuckThis. It’s hard to say goodbye, so we won’t for a while.

I stumbled into Chuck sort of like Ernie did, only a year later … right at the end of S3. A friend got me hooked on Castle, and I watched both seasons straight through. It was my new favorite show. Then I read an opinion about Castle that predicted that the leads might get together midway through season three like … wait for it … CHUCK. Chuck?? What’s Chuck? I looked it up, and it sounded interesting, so I found it and started watching with the Pilot. Like Dave, my current favorite show (in my case Castle) wore the crown for only a brief time before Chuck stole it. And I fully expect that Chuck will keep that particular crown.

After catching up with all three seasons, I found the blog, and I’ve been here ever since. Ernie contacted me about joining as an author, and I wasn’t at all sure what I would write or if I’d be able to add much to the site, but they took me in anyway and became my Chuck family. So here I am all moved in and not looking to leave anytime soon. Why? Because it’s hard to say goodbye.

Now, the Pilot. I’ll add only a little because Dave and Ernie and Joe have covered so much so eloquently.

Working on a five year plan. Well, since we just finished S5, I couldn’t help thinking that Chuck’s five year plan probably looked absolutely nothing like his next five years. Two things dropped into his life, things he never saw coming, things that were going to change him forever: the Intersect and Sarah Walker. And if we’re to believe his (almost) last words of the series, Sarah is the one who really changed his life. But no more than he changed hers.

I love all of the things about the show: the balance of genres, the ability to turn on a dime from danger to humor to heartwarming to bombs to family; the intangibles and noble themes that run through the show and are built into the characters, especially Chuck and Sarah. But oh how I love the fact that Schwedak let these characters grow. It makes them so much more real. And it kept me invested in them.

Thanks Ernie for commenting on the Baby factor. I love that backward glance at pre-Chuck Sarah and thinking about how it prepared her for her Burbank assignment. You describe her position perfectly. Add in Bryce’s betrayal, and Sarah is completely vulnerable to Chuck’s charm and very much in need of what he has to offer.

What else about the Pilot?

Sarah the fixer. That won’t change. Sarah is, and always will be, a fixer. Sometimes it’s hilarious (Wedding Planner and A-Team, for example), sometimes it’s heartwarming (Marlin), sometimes it’s dramatic and dangerous and romantic (Colonel and Phase 3). And you can add to the list, because Sarah is always fixing something. It’s part of her charm.

The date prep: the contrast of worlds is fantastic. It was our first CHUCK montage, and it remains a favorite. Ellie advises Chuck about the date, as Graham advises Sarah about the “date.” Sarah dons knives, poison hair sticks, and a kevlar vest … while Chuck chooses a shirt and tames his hair. Sarah packs heat, and he shows up with a bouquet and a goofy grin. When she opens the door, two worlds meet, and Chuck and Sarah come face to face with their future.

Sarah’s difficulty in keeping her professional distance from Chuck. (The real relationship was there from day 1.) She is a spy, a good one, and we see that. But Chuck begins getting behind her walls immediately: with the ballerina, when she meets him at the door, in the restaurant with his comment about his past girl friend. He is unlike anyone she’s ever known, and she is drawn to him. It’s that simple. We see it in her face, and later we hear it from her lips. She fell for him in the first 36 hours.

And that’s the core of what drew me in. It was always about their story. Their lives began to mix on the beach at sunrise. Five years later, on a bleach at sunset, the only story that still matters is Chuck and Sarah’s love story.


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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217 Responses to Pilot (1.01)

  1. AgentInWaiting says:

    Truth be told, save for a single viewing of Honeymooners, I haven’t rewatched a single episode of Chuck since the finale – too painful. And like Ernie, I used to rewatch at least one episode every few days. However all of your thoughts brought back memories of why I loved this show so much. So thanks for that and yes, I’m going to try to do the rewatch with you guys – I need my Chuck fix!

    • atcDave says:

      You know AiW we’ve been big advocates here of watching that finale again too; especially the extended cut. They may have made us work harder at it than is wise, but there is a happy ending there. And this re-watch is so joyful in that full series context. And part of that is; Sarah fell for Chuck in the first 36 hours she knew him. Even if specific memories are slow in returning; we saw her reconnecting with Chuck in an emotional and intimate way. Of course I’ll always wish the finale had continued after the beach just like the Pilot did, and we had seen Chuck AND Sarah returning home from the beach and sharing a “group hug” with Ellie and Devon. Maybe even thrown in an homage to Honeymooners with Ellie asking “are you two back together?” That would have been a perfect end for me.
      I think a big part of the joy of this re-watch is going to be some freedom from the original angst. I’m sure we’ll still find plenty to complain about, but we know now it is a happy story with a happy ending. That might make some of the potholes a little more tolerable!

      And what a great start this series got. This is fun all the way through.

    • joe says:

      What Dave said, AiW. But be forewarned. You’ll get caught up in it – again.

      I know that the first couple of times I watched (and certainly the first time), I paid more attention to the details of the Chuck character than to the others. Well, I paid attention to Sarah too, but not so much her inner workings.

      But please don’t blame me. She’s mysterious (as is Casey) by design. There’s plenty of clues about their characters, though – their inner strengths and weaknesses – even in the pilot. Watching the episodes again and seeing their POV, rather than Chuck’s, is a treat.

  2. anthropocene says:

    I completely agree with this communal group hug of The Pilot—to all the other favorite memories I’ll add mine: how galactically beautiful Sarah looked through the entire program. Not just where you’d expect it, like the scenes at the Nerd Herd desk or dressing for her date…but also right in the middle of dodging death as Casey’s SUV slammed into the post a few inches behind her…and when frantically peppering Chuck with questions on the skyscraper roof, first to deduce that he had become a human Intersect…and especially, when tearing off that ninja mask in frustration and driving off (wow!) after failing to retrieve Chuck’s computer.

    The “problematic” retcon from Baby, Ernie—by that do you mean that in Baby, Graham has already tasked Sarah with being a handler for Chuck before she even meets him, whereas in the Pilot, Sarah first encounters Chuck without knowing whether he’ll prove to be an asset or a target?

    • atcDave says:

      I’d add Sarah looks beautiful in a pretty scary way in most of those moments!

      I can’t speak for Ernie on the retcon, but that situation can be rationalized without too much trouble. As near as I can tell, according to wikipedia, Handler often simply means agent in charge, well specifically, it means in charge of other agents or assets. So it may simply mean Graham expected Sarah to eventually have other agents or assets under her control in the coming operation.
      Yeah I know, its kind of a lame explanation, but its either that or he misspoke and meant to say Agent in Charge. That may be more what Sarah had in mind anyway, like she didn’t want to answer to anyone but Graham anymore.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, I agree with that Dave. I think some of the retcon cry is based on assumptions that grew over time that were only that … assumptions, rather than actual canon facts.

        There are a few things that require more agile rationalization, but I think those are more with Nacho Sampler than the Pilot. Regardless I have no problem accepting Baby as a fantastic view of pre-Burbank Sarah that adds texture and nuance to the beginning. To borrow Ernie’s phrase … Genius.

        My only hitch with the Pilot, and I stumble over it every time — probably always will, is the obviously male ninja assailant that is supposed to be Sarah Walker. What were they thinking? Other than that, the Pilot is perfection.

      • A lot of the retcon questions were discussed and debated in Baby’s post-episode threads: https://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/chuck-vs-the-baby/, and https://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/oh-baby-what-an-episode/.

        My story, Sarah vs the Phantom Retcon addresses most of the retcon questions from Baby and Nacho Sampler. I think some the issues wer because of an unnecessarily compressed time frame between the Baby flashbacks and the pilot that required a very specific explanation to maintain continuity. Also, I agree that many of the issues were because Baby didn’t match preconceptions of Sarah’s backstory that had brewed from 4 1/2 years.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I almost linked your story with my above comment, it’s absolutely a good rationalization based on known data.

        Thinkling the male ninja makes me laugh every time, it’s really poorly disguised. I think it’s a clear effort to force a misconception, and it breaks on re-watch every time. Funny too, I think they did have Yvonne do the various grunts.

      • thinkling, the male ninja normally doesn’t bother me because I’m too bothered with the fact the apartment is different. Somebody tore down and repositioned the Buy More and Large Mart, too. Maybe the ninja is like Ernie suggested with Nacho Sampler. He saw a ninja and assumed it was male, so his perception blocked out the sight of Sarah in a skin tight ninja suit.

        Even amazingly consistent shows written mostly by one person (i.e. Babylon 5) have minor problems. Delenn lost her spots after the pilot and her head bone changed. The actress for John’s “dead” wife changed between the beginning of the second and the end of the third season, although they did re-film her final recording. It was worth it to cast Melissa Gilbert opposite Bruce Boxleitner. A better comparison with Pilot/Nacho Sample/Baby was Babylon 5’s carefully crafted B4 time-loop episodes. Almost everything fit, but some characters did some odd things to fit with the flash forwards filmed two years earlier. The biggest issue was Delenn’s wardrobe changing from red to green, which normally wouldn’t matter, except her odd red sleeve (which looked like it might be nightwear) was speculated about for two years. Chuck did pretty well considering it was not planned as thoroughly.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I always laugh about the ninja too, but put it down to Chuck’s perception’s being skewed by the intersect. 😉 At the time they might not have known if Yvonne could pull off the moves, but I can’t imagine she’d have had too much trouble given some of the choreography they did have her do.

        It has often struck me how many small details Chuck got right when they did flashbacks. Sarah’s wardrobe and hair are perfect in the flashbacks and in the vlog in the finale. (Chuck’s wardrobe… well, that one’s easy since it never changes). Also note that they add little touches, like Sarah wearing the same leather jacket she wore in the pilot (but open) when she returns to the BuyMore at the beginning of Goodbye.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      The cries of retcon mostly have to do with making all 3 versions fit. The Nacho Sampler ending, with Sarah getting instructions over the phone as she enters the Buy More doesn’t fit with getting a file in DC in Baby. The pilot shows us neither, just Sarah’s arrival. There is also some question with the timeline fitting between Baby and the pilot with Graham giving Sarah the assignment with Bryce’s intersect PSP on his desk. So here’s the thing, the pilot timeline isn’t a problem if we consider the destroyed intersect room with Casey and Graham to be a flashback (we’d already seen Chuck wake up the next morning) but a lot of people assume the timeline is sequential rather than we jump back to DC and back in time. In that case Casey is getting his orders shortly after killing Bryce, and Chuck is still downloading the intersect at that point. Graham then takes Bryce’s PSP and calls Sarah in to go to LA and try to get to Chuck first. Having the file there on Graham’s desk doesn’t have to mean that Sarah has time to study it, but it seems like a reasonable thing to send it with her on her westward flight. Getting the info in Nacho Sampler would then seem redundant, but here’s my thought. At the end of Nacho Sampler with Chuck drinking alone, might that scene be Chuck imagining what Sarah thought when she first walked into the Buy More? It is obvious that as he’s tasked with cultivating an asset he’s looking back at his and Sarah’s past and wondering how real it was and how differently it could have gone.

      As for the handler thing I just took it to mean the guy with the mission goals running the show. It makes a certain amount of sense that the handler would send other operatives to do the dirty work (like in Baby) for the simple reason that an agent that only knew her small part of the mission and was given goals as she completed each task couldn’t give up any intel if captured. Recall in Three Words all the team knew was “get this box”. A similar MO on a lot of missions fits with an agent in charge being referred to as a handler. Which leads to this thought, was Chuck Sarah’s first big solo assignment as agent in charge? In that context falling for him and getting dismissed would be a very big black mark for her first big assignment, and would at the very least prevent her from being in charge on future assignments.

      In any case, by definition retcon isn’t a problem in the pilot, but watching Baby, the pilot and Nacho Sampler is a fun little arc.

    • joe says:

      Great comment, Anthropocene. One thing that catches my eye every time I see the first few episodes is Sarah’s anger. They way Yvonne emphasizes the word “fix” in “I can FIX it., and in Helicopter when she tells Chuck off… It’s almost shocking in light of Sarah’s demeanor throughout most of the episodes. It’s a controlled fury of which we don’t see much later.

      • Sarah telling Chuck off sticks out each time (e.g. First Fight, Seduction Impossible, Role Models, 3D, Curse). It was kind of fun to watch because it really stopped working in Crown Vic. After the kiss and her choice to stay, Chuck felt like he could argue back and knew he wouldn’t lose and appendage in the process. Sarah would get frustrated because she knew he wasn’t intimidated.

      • joe says:

        One other time, early on, too, Jeff. Well, it’s more like C&S are both chaffing at the fake-romance situation in Truth. They’re both in Chuck’s bed in a very G rated way. Chuck doesn’t like the fact that he’s being fake-seduced, and although she won’t admit it, Sarah isn’t happy with Chuck’s new love-interest, Lou the sandwich girl, and they’re both angry.

        But you’re right. Sarah getting angry with Chuck really stops working in Crown Vic. Even in the bo fight in Three Words, Chuck refuses to fight back the way he did then.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        My favorite Angry Sarah moments were in Cougars, first in the O-O when Chuck knew Sarah couldn’t do anything in front of Heather culminating in “the pencil incident” (telling that she kept a picture of them in her hotel room…) The restaurant was also funny, trying to deal with Heather’s barbs and keep Chuck from asking too many questions resulting in the “pinot incident”. Most of the fun comes from as Jeff said, Chuck seeing through her act and Sarah’s frustration that he sees through her.

      • joe says:

        Heh! Great moments, Ernie. You make me wanna see those episodes again, right away.

        Hey! Keep this up and we’ll have to compress the schedule to – oh – four or five episodes A DAY!

      • atcDave says:

        Angry Sarah always makes me laugh, well except for Crown Vic, I didn’t like that anger so much. But other times it’s usually a pretty righteous anger. And you know, it’s sort of cute in a way you would never, ever say to her face. And Cougars is the best of those, especially the pencil scene.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        One thing I thought they did well was establish Morgan as someone Sarah could intimidate without coming off unsympathetic. Think “We never talk…” or “I am somebody deadly…” I wish there were more such bonding moments with Sarah and Morgan. I’m sure fanfiction took care of it, but I wanted to see Sarah’s reaction to finding out it was Morgan sexting her in Anniversary.

        Morgan’s lack of limits was a natural area for him to come into conflict with Sarah (and they initially set up Morgan as jealous he was losing Chuck to Sarah) and as unfocused as his role was initially that is one area where he could have provided some comedy. Deleted scenes from Truth and First Date come to mind, just have Sarah get a little more “protective” of her Chuck time, even if its just an act (or if she just tells herself that) and I think Morgan could have been a lot better used early on.

      • When making my list, I was trying to avoid Chuckwin’s Law, but how did I forget the pencil in Cougars! I can just imagine the drive to San Diego. Sarah stops at a Walgreens and comes out with a box of pencils and a little school sharpener. She tells Chuck to be quiet, don’t ask and more questions, and sharpen some pencils–for when she needs them at the reunion. He smiles and asks why didn’t she just get mechanical pencils. She floors it in frustration, the acceleration causing Chuck to lose his handhold and pencils to fly everywhere.

      • Ernie, the IOU is covered by Kate McK’s Morgan vs the IOU, Course Jester’s IOU, and Wepdiggy’s Morgan vs The Apology. The sexting is covered by Kate McK’s Anniversaries, sexting and the bearded gnome. All are very funny. Kate’s won awards for best short and best crack!fic, respectively.

        [From Joe: Jeff – I’m sorry that this got caught in the spam filter. Everyone should be aware that the blasted thing is very picky about posts with “too many” links. We don’t mind, but it does! If your posts don’t show up right away, please be certain that we’ll okay it ASAP.]

      • anthropocene says:

        Absolutely right, Joe. That fury was a great counterpoint to Sarah’s softer moments (e.g., the ballerina scene). I enjoyed seeing it emerge again in Phase 3—only this time Sarah was turning it on anyone standing between her and Chuck (including Casey).

      • joe says:

        Anthropocene, you just pointed out something that I wasn’t consciously aware of before (Wow! Five years in the making!) – Sarah’s fury, and how it ebbs and flows (and occasionally explodes) throughout. I’m going to be paying more attention to that as I re-watch, ’cause it’s fun!

      • [ admin side discussion ] Thanks, Joe. Hmm. I could see the post when logged in through wordpress. It just said “waiting for moderation”, which normally happens with more than two links in a post. I’m patient, so I figured one of you would see it eventually. My post with links to retcon discussions must have gone through because two of the three links were back to this blog. When posts go into spam (which was happening a lot for me in December), it would be like the post never happened.

      • atcDave says:

        And a funny thing about Sarah’s anger, we didn’t see so much of it in S5, until the final arc. Marrying Chuck seems to have brought her more peace.

  3. FSL says:

    To me, what stuck about the pilot was that it has crafted it’s own reality that makes people happy. Quickly, you are surrounded by the context of the Buy More so even the most dangerous situations becomes vehicles for humour. I think that is why I love the show so much (of course, in addition to the great cast), that a Nerd can be safe in an electronic store and convince super spies not to shoot him. =)

    • joe says:

      It’s a world that’s easy to like, isn’t it?

      I noticed that myself in S2, when I saw Predator (which was the moment I really became addicted). The image of the Predator drone over Burbank, heading for – not so much the Buy More as the Buy Morons steering it from inside Jeff Barnes makeshift restroom-office… That was funny and terrifying at the same time. I can’t think of any other reality in which that scene makes sense! 😉

  4. I’m looking forward to the next 91-ish weeks. This should be fun. (And right when you think everyone is losing interest in 35 weeks, everyone will come out to complain about the dark times. 😉 )

    Just like finales, pilots are rarely among the best episodes of a show. The actors, writers, and director are still figuring out the characters. Even when the episode is good, some people seem completely out of character from the rest of the series (e.g. Carter in SG-1–that show’s PTB have commented about how bad her dialogue was.) The only three shows with great pilots I can think of are Alias, Sports Night, and Chuck.

    Unfortunately, I missed the pilot when it aired, only catching the show a few weeks later. (Pre-DVR days, so I was channel surfing while waiting for Prison Break to finish recording on my VCR.) All of Chuck’s first season was good enough that a great pilot wasn’t necessary to catch my attention, but it helped when I tried to get family and friends to watch. It was like a great (albeit short) movie, with action, comedy and romance squeezed into a short period of time. It also left the audience wanting more, which means it didn’t need to have a movie budget every week to be great entertainment.

    • atcDave says:

      Agree entirely about Pilots Jeff. It often takes a while for a show to work the kinks out. Chuck really got off to a strong start.

  5. NOM says:

    The pilot episode of Chuck is without a doubt the greatest piece of television I’ve ever watched! That said though I still dislike the final episode with a passion and the only seasons I’ve rewatched so far are seasons ons and two. The other seasons only make me stad. Perhaps wit the exception of a couple of episodes in the fourth season. But I’lltry watching it to the end this time!

    • NOM says:

      Ons =one and stad=sad. Sigh, typing on my tablet is harder than I thought!

      • atcDave says:

        Tablet keyboards do have a learning curve all their own!

        I do understand not liking the finale, I’m not completely satisfied with it myself and wish they’d pursued a completely different story line. But that said, everyone involved has assured is it was a happy ending, and I do (after many viewings) see it for myself now.
        I’m saying this only to make the point, although you never have to like the finale, you can rest assured it did not damage the things that came before.

      • NOM says:

        I think the damage was done the moment that whole memory loss arc started. It’s not that I doubt she’ll remember everything eventually, I just think that this show deserved a far better ending. It wouldn’t have bothered me (as much) if this had happened as a finale for a regular season, but to end the show this way was a huge disappointment to me. To each his/her own of course!

      • atcDave says:

        NOM that’s actually one of the complaints I still agree most with. The whole amnesia thing is so cliche… Of course given that Chuck is all about pseudo brain science and tampering with memories it might not be that unreasonable, but still, an amnesia story line would never be my first choice for a finale arc.
        At any rate, it will be almost two years now before we get back to it, so now is a great time to just celebrate the beginnings of things.

  6. Ernie Davis says:

    I have to add one thing that did strike me about the pilot. It is ,as mentioned, due to the move into production on a soundstage versus location shooting a pilot. It struck me how sparse everything seemed. The Chuck crew constructed an incredibly visually rich and layered world, and it just seemed so barren in the pilot. I had forgotten how much I like Chuck just as something so visually pleasing*.

    * No that’s not just about Sarah and Ellie, Anna is pretty hot too 😉

    • atcDave says:

      The apartment looked particularly bare. Compare the living room to any later episode, it’s really very different.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      The location for Casa de Bartowski-Woodcomb is a pretty famous building, the El Cabrillo, that had apparently just been converted to condos recently. One of the funny cast stories is that Chuck’s bedroom in the pilot actually was on the second floor and Josh Gomez actually was standing on a pretty narrow scaffold to pretend to be on the ground floor.

      I think I like the miniature version better. I wish I had been able to tour the Chuck set, because one thing that has always bugged me was trying to build a floor plan in my head of where everything was.

      • Interesting, Ernie. They probably had to move because they couldn’t tear it apart for filming since it’s listed in the National Registar of Historic Places (i.e. no overhead shots of Chuck and Sarah’s bed.)

        I didn’t really figure out the floor plan until the beginning of season five, during a rewatch. If I remember correctly, Morgan and Devon’s secrets “I know”-off, the Role Models OJ scene, and Sarah’s seduction to discover the T.I.T.S. plan helped, if you can pry your eyes away. ;). That’s when I figured out the where the hallway was with respect to the kitchen and where the kitchen was with respect to the courtyard. They needed a hand-held camera walk through shot in some episode.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m pretty sure the floor plan in the Pilot was slightly different too, and of course the front door was differently located.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Undoubtedly different. Still it became a hobby to try and decipher all the background stuff that eventually filled up that apartment and the complex. As I said visually rich and entertaining. I know Thinkling got a kick out of watching Chuck’s bedroom gradually transform into Chuck and Sarah’s bedroom in seasons 4&5. It was one of the things they did really well. And the Tron poster made it to the very end!

  7. CaptMediocre says:

    The pilot is a top 5 episode. Nothing ever knocked it lower.

  8. olddarth says:

    One of the strongest pilots for a TV series ever.

    I can only think of the Lost pilot being superior – and that was really a made for TV movie.

  9. Thanks for embarking on this marathon re-watch,guys,it is very much appreciated.

    The Pilot is undoubtedly one of the best,if not indeed the best ever,and never disappoints.Much has been written on the undeniable chemistry between Zac and Yvonne,but what I always find amazing is that this was evidenced in what I understand was the very first scene they ever shot together-in the Mexican restaurant.

    Whilst I loved the callback in Goodbye,I always found it slightly frustrating that Fedak said subsequently thart he recognised this immediately,yet he failed to take full advantage until Honeymooners!!!

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, they acted surprised when Honeymooners worked as well as it did!! OI! I was completely fine with the pacing in the first two seasons, its really only those first 12 of S3 that strike me as a total waste; and hey, that’s a whole lot better than most shows and the wt/wt game!

  10. I just had an odd thought. A lot of TV shows have unaired pilots, change the pilot and reincorporate it (like Star Trek), or like Firefly air the pilot out of order. Could Chuck have worked any of those ways? Is the pilot an important part of what made the show work?

    • atcDave says:

      In most those cases, don’t they do a “new” pilot? I know Star Trek actually made major changes to cast and sets before shooting the new pilot (“Where No Man has Gone Before”). I don’t know about Firefly, and I didn’t watch it in real time; but it seems to me they will generally need a new introductory episode if it isn’t going to be the original pilot.

      Which is all a round about way of saying I think they would have needed to shoot a new Pilot before just diving in with something else. Which of course would have been a darn shame since the actual pilot is so good.
      Just making a jumble of those opening episodes would have been a disaster. Some of the more episodic stories from the middle of some seasons could possibly have been re-arranged, but even that carries some risk. Look how Best Friend was pushed back to run after Suburbs, and it totally trashed continuity. Suburbs is very clearly the start of the Beefcake/Lethal Weapon arc but ran a week too soon. It felt like whiplash with Suburbs ending on a down note for Chuck and Sarah, Best Friend ending pretty well, and then blamo! Beefcake starts with a mess. (we will sort this out and discuss episodes in their proper order for this re-watch!)

      • joe says:

        Dave says, parenthetically: [W]e will sort this out and discuss episodes in their proper order for this re-watch!

        So glad to hear you say this, Dave! I wouldn’t want to have to beat all five of you into submission with my fists of continuity-fury to do our review in the right order! 😉

      • Firefly’s 2-hr pilot, also called Serenity, was reworked and aired at the end of the series.

        Some shows have “introductory” shows which are not origin shows like Chuck downloading the Intersect. The backstory is filled in later. It makes the story have more of an “epic” feel. I’m having trouble thinking of one now, though. Having scene the Hobbit trailer last weekend, I’m stuck on that idea because even though the books were in order, the movies are not. While they weren’t pilots, West Wing, Bones, and Friends all did backstory origin episodes that felt almost like Menagerie-style reworks of pilots, even though they weren’t.

        I don’t think something like that would work for Chuck. The birthday party, ballerina, first first date, roof scene, bomb defusal, and beach are part of what make the show work so well out of the gate. However, I fell in love with the show even though I didn’t see the pilot until reruns. They were really firing on all cylinders in all of the early episodes.

      • atcDave says:

        I hadn’t realized the Firefly pilot ran last! Geez, Fox set that show up for failure every way imaginable.

        I know our own Suburbs/Best Friend SNAFU was because after a delay for a presidential speech the network felt Suburbs HAD to run on Valentines day because of the first 5 minutes (oh brother!). Best Friend really broke up the feel between Suburbs and Beefcake.

    • joe says:

      IIRC, that ST:TOS pilot, redone as the two-parter with Capt. Christopher Pike at the helm, was the only one to win the Hugo award. The Menagerie.

      Okay! Stop shouting GEEEEEK at me!

      • atcDave says:

        You act like that’s a bad thing Joe?! Menagerie is an excellent example of a VERY different pilot. I think Capt Pike would have never been the same sort of hero Kirk became.

      • joe says:

        … a bad thing that people are shouting GEEEEKKKK!!! at me? Of course! It hurts my ears!

        Oh, you mean that only Menagerie got a Hugo. Naw. I used the word “only” badly. Menagerie was a great 2-pt. episode. One of the best in the series. And I say that as an original Treker.*

        * Note the proper used of “Treker”, and not the obsequious “Trekie”. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah sorry Joe, I’m a Trekkie. The other always sounded like it was trying too hard…

      • FSL says:

        If they actually went with Capt Pike, we might need Ten Forward on the original Ent. =)

  11. garnet says:

    I will try to keep up with the rewatch. I hope it will keep us going until the movie/webisode/whatever that I will continue to hope for. 🙂
    It seems to me that there are more issues with the apartment than changes from the pilot to the series. I honestly think that there were changes to the layout during the series as well.

    As well, so far no one has mentioned the Ninja jumping down from the “main floor” before taking off in the car. Something that has always bothered me.

    I hope that the rewatch will not preclude the occasional review of new fan fiction as I have really enjoyed many of the suggestions made so far.

    • atcDave says:

      We, already covered the ninja (funny though, it didn’t get mentioned in the body of the post!) I think we were all a little bugged by it.

      I will continue the fan fiction posts. I’m working on one now to publish in the next couple days.

  12. ww1posterfan says:

    Well, I actually watched the Pilot the night it aired. I enjoyed it immensely. I guess you could say I believed it, I just didn’t feel it that night. I made a couple of wrong assumptions and didn’t come back to it until after S4 had completed. My assumptions were that it was going to be more of a procedural and they would drag out the romance b/w C & S which was clearly in the stars from the beginning. I really only watch TV one night a week, and I decided to jump back into Smallville instead. Thank goodness someone on one of the Smallville blogs basically said Sarah Walker could kick Lois Lane’s behind any day of the week. I had to find out who this Sarah Walker was and got hooked watching Youtube clips for about 2 hours. I rodered my disks the very next day and here I am.

    A couple of things I noted this time around (this was only my 3rd rewatch). Chuck’s self-proclaimed prophecy of “Fine, I’ll get over Jill tomorrow,” when Ellie is lecturing him after the party. If only he knew Sarah Walker was going to walk into his life the very next day and turn him into seer. In terms of the sparseness of the sets, I noticed the Post-It at the bottom of Chuck’s monitor that had “I’m a Professional Nerd” on it and thought who takes the time to think of such things when it comes to sets. It definitely made me chuckle because it seemed like something Chuck would do having read it in some self-esteem improvement book. They did alot with very little in the Pilot.

    Timeline. On the rooftop scene before Casey shows up, Chuck answer’s Sarah’s question about when had he last heard from Bryce. Chuck mentions his computer crashing a week ago. Not sure if this helps continuity or further complicates it. That means Sarah (CIA) located Chuck well before the NSA (Casey is shown when Sarah leaves the BuyMore after her second visit) and also would indicate that there was almost a week between her initial contact with Chuck and their date.

    The last thing I’ll mention is the message of the song “A Comet Appears” by the Shins. I’m not sure what criteria Tim Jones used for his song selection. I’m sure it varied with the scene. This song in particular really seems to provide additional exposition on Chuck’s thoughts/mood at the beach. Disclaimer: I stink at interpreting lyrics and/or poetry. None of what I am about to write is original thought wrt to the song interpretation. I just did some research. The song at its root is about nihilism/anomie–“the general mood of despair at a perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realizing there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.” IF this is where Chuck’s head is at while at the beach ( a very likely scenario where his whole reality has just gone up in flames), not only is it a GENIUS selection for the scene, but is a complete 180 from the ending of hope and promise provided 5 years later. It also highlights what a lifeline Sarah provided just by taking those few moments with him. This is all pretty heady stuff for a show that was supposed to be about an underachieving nerd’s quarter life crisis. How much was by design or accident, I don’t think we will ever truly know, but it was MAGIC.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      One small correction, it was Chuck’s external backup drive that crashed a week ago, conveniently threading the needle of a nerd not having a proper backup and the intersect being irrevocably lost.

    • Tim Jones did the original music compositions and arrangement of Jeffster songs. The music supervisor was Alexandra Patsavas for at least 60 episodes, including the pilot. Brittany Whyte took over in season 5. Patsavas is interviewed here.

    • thinkling says:

      Great comments, ww1. I think it’s all the subtext and the deceptively heady stuff and deep stuff that reels us in. There is so much more to Chuck than meets the eye. Nice catch with the music and Sarah being Chuck’s lifeline. I always liked the lines that went with Sarah “There’s a numbness in your heart and it’s growing.” So she was his lifeline and he was hers … he massaged feeling back into her heart.

  13. resaw says:

    Wow! In a previous entry I declared myself a Chuckaholic. I clearly don’t know the heights to which Chuckaholism can rise (in my view, clearly, an addiction to “The Chuck Show” is a good thing). I say this because I had no idea people spent time trying to orient themselves in the apartment, or trying to come up with plausible explanations for why Sarah Walker dressed up in a ninja suit suddenly turned into a broad-shouldered man. Not that these aren’t worthy pastimes (well, I don’t know if they really are, but I won’t begrudge people for seeking logical explanations for what they are viewing), but I have generally been content to let those details slide as a derivative of the curious penchant for allowing “plotholes of the week,” as Alan Sepinwall was fond of describing them.
    For me, now having watched the Pilot a good half-dozen times or more, it feels now that the comedy was less important to me than it was when the promos first got me to watch. I appreciate the conflict and tension that drove the story forward over the next five years. Of course, a lot of that conflict and tension was humorous. The opening scene, where Chuck and Morgan are, at best, “conflicted” about the merits of the birthday party that Ellie has put on for Chuck, is a great example. The somewhat less humorous, but definitely more amazing “conflict” scene than Morgan hanging out of Chuck’s first-floor bedroom window, was Bryce’s Parkour-inspired escape, only to be shot by Casey.
    Dave, I’m glad you brought up Casey shooting Bryce. When I re-watch Casey’s part in the Pilot, he seems more talkative, less inclined to grunt, and he also tends to speak in a slightly higher register than in later episodes. Perhaps his relative wordiness provides us with a bit of necessary context to this story.
    Ernie, you got it right when you said that these weren’t caricatures. As unrealistic as some aspects of the show were, I found I could identify with the characters; I cared about them. I think that has to be the secret to every successful show, so that, even when it deviates from an acceptable story line (hello season 3… for some), we hang in there, watching week in and week out, because these are characters for whom we wish the best.
    Joe, I thank you for adding The Shins’ “A Comet Appears” to your post, among the other things you write. I soon became a fan of the music on the show, but somehow the poetry and beauty of this particular song escaped me on my first few watches. Now it’s among my favorites, and of course, we know that the scene at the beach is an iconic image.
    Probably the song that most captured my attention, though, was Foreign Born’s “Into Your Dream.” There was so much energy in that song and it fit perfectly with the imminent collision of Chuck’s civilian life with Sarah’s spy life. The dazzling display of Sarah’s sexy dancing and knifework over the course of that song probably makes that my most memorable scene of the first show. All while Chuck was standing on the dance floor completely overwhelmed by Sarah and completely oblivious to the protection she was providing him.
    Thinkling, yes, these characters grew. Can I say that the actors grew as well? Over the years, I appreciated the quality of Yvonne’s acting in particular, but watching the Pilot again, in my view, her talent really manifested itself as the show developed and she was able to add more nuance to her character. She strikes me as more action and “eye-candy” at the beginning. There is definitely some subtlety in her conversation with Chuck on the beach, but to me the tough but beautiful spy chick emphasis is dominant. I’m not as enamored with some of the delivery of her lines either. In truth, I liked what Ernie described as her cheesy pickup line, but some of the others felt a bit like clunkers to me. Joe comments later about Sarah’s anger when says she can fix it – to me that across as less than well-delivered. Could I do better? Absolutely not, but in light of how good Yvonne became, how well she did in other, later shows, some of her lines here feel, relatively speaking, weaker. Should I attribute that to what felt like somewhat clunky dialogue crafted by the writers? I dunno. “I like you, Chuck,” delivered at the Mexican restaurant, just seems unlikely to me.
    I don’t want to finish on a negative, however. Chuck was a fantastic series, and I am very appreciative of this group that gives me an opportunity to read what others think about the show. Your different perspectives help me to learn more about the show, and invite me to view it again with new eyes. I like the idea that by the time we’re done with this 91-week re-watch, we’ll be just in time to watch the much-anticipated Chuck movie (with a writing credit by a certain individual a.k.a. Thinkling).

    • joe says:

      Great comment, Resaw.

      Yeah, the fans have been real sticklers for continuity, and very observant. It’s been to their credit, though, that most of them are showing that they’re paying attention to the details and like you, not using the details as a reason to pick the show apart. I won’t say that we love the show in spite of it’s flaws so much as the flaws (with rare exceptions) have been minor and even amusing.

      And you’re right about Casey’s voice. I hear him saying (in the Pilot) I’m feeling a little pasty. in a completely different tone than we hear later. Casey gives some great speeches (like during the Buy More Rebellion where he declares his hatred for both dirty hippies and the corporate fat-cats they become) in a voice that’s far different from the whispering growl Adam uses later. It’s quite a change.

      Ryan McPartlin really grew his role too. There were a lot of sides to Devon over the 91 episodes, from frat boy to Capt. Awesome to befuddled insider to husband and father. Of all the major characters, Ellie is the fixed beacon, the unchanging star in the sky.

      I hope Thinkling tells us how her movie deal is coming! 😉

    • thinkling says:

      I agree that Yvonne’s talent certainly grew, and she added layers and nuance to her character. I think she and her character exceeded expectations on many levels.

      As for the “I like you” line, I take into account that it was Sarah playing her mark. It was just a line, but at the same time we could see that she really did like him. Sarah “played” Chuck really well, for the type of guy he was. It almost backfired, though. Instead of Sarah playing Chuck, Sarah got played … not in a deceptive way of course, but she succumbed to Chuck’s unwitting charm and fell for him.

      After Chuck found out what was going on, all of that disappeared. She transitions to handler, and from then on we see the two layers: Sarah the handler and Sarah the real girl relating to Chuck in real ways, in spite of her efforts to the contrary.

      • resaw says:

        …succumbed to Chuck’s unwitting charm…
        And didn’t we all…. Chuck, what an incredible show!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Good comments resaw. To me one of the fun parts of this re-watch is going to be watching them build this world again. In addition to shaping marvelous three dimensional characters that get us invested in their story, they build a world we can enter and share with those characters. With Chuck the world mostly resembles ours, with a few liberties for both dramatic and comedy sake. In addition the best shows teach you how to watch them. The montage for instance is often illustrative (as in the pilot) of the main themes, like the two worlds Chuck and Sarah inhabit as they each prepare for their date, and how those worlds are about to collide. Those montages aren’t just filler! They help us feel a part of that world they’ve created and help form our impressions of the characters and their world. It’s only natural then that we want to know their world and walk through it, even if just in our mind. Worthwhile pass-times? I dunno… But they are fun.

      • thinkling says:

        I can’t think of another show that has used the montage as effectively: i.e. thematically and emotionally as Chuck. The montage is the instrument that casues the moment, with all its import and emotions to resonate with us on a visceral level. It also conveys SO much in a brief period of time. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then the montage is worth double its effectiveness and impact in half the time.

      • thinkling says:

        Ah, one other thought, Ernie. I am now curious, having looked at the themes of the montages in Business Trip, Bo, and the Pilot … and even thinking about some of the others … if the same theme doesn’t recur a lot in the montages: the two worlds. I’m going to be paying more attention this time through.

      • In a lot of shows, I don’t care for montages. They seems like quick and sloppy story telling, usually due to lack of time. However, I loved all of Chuck’s montages. Maybe it’s because I liked the show better to start with. Part of it may be because they were used regularly enough they did not seem out of place. Part of it was definitely was the great music selection that accompanied them. Also, so much was going on in every Chuck episode, montages in that show sometimes seemed to slow the pace rather that speed it up like in other shows.

        I think we need a top montage poll. It’s hard to remember them all, but if we make a list during the re-watch. Hmmm, maybe we should make a lot of lists for polls during the re-watch. Yeah, I know, I know. I like lists too much.

      • atcDave says:

        I remember a lot of shows using the montage technique back in the ’80s (Miami Vice, A-Team, Hunter); its sort of another pop culture reference in a way. I think it is as Jeff said, a compressed (“efficient”) story telling method, especially good for building tension or emotion. But of course, for Chuck everything is more fun.

      • thinkling says:

        I think with Chuck it’s more than just a way to compress twice the story in the same amount of time. Music is definitely part of that, Jeff. It’s also what they choose to show in the montage. It’s usually thematic, and it doesn’t just inform me. It often makes me feel something. I don’t know. With a lot of shows, it seems too much like the device it is. With Chuck it always seems … seamless with the show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I started a montage poll and post at one point, but put it aside due to time constraints. I suppose two years is enough time to finish it, especially if I make polls for each season as we go.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow, I looked at my montage poll and I only have 4 from season 1.

        Getting Ready for the First Date in the Pilot

        Getting ready for the first mission in Tango

        The Tango in Tango

        Chuck breaks up with Sarah and takes up with Lou in Truth

        We obviously need to get to work on a list. Suggestions for montages to include in a poll are now being accepted!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, I’ll give you one of my favorite examples, the second first date preparations. We see Casey, Sarah and Chuck all getting ready. It echoes back to both Tango and the pilot. Chuck is obviously preparing for a date and Casey for a mission, but Sarah, we’ve seen her only prepare for missions, and she seems to be doing things differently this time. We see her putting on makeup and wearing the good matching underwear as opposed to the lipstick concealing a knife or strapping on a bulletproof vest, and the final scene of that montage, Sarah emerging ready to go, and confronted with a choice, presented perfectly with just the visual of the gun waiting for her.

        Loved that one.

      • thinkling says:

        That is a great one. Again with the theme of the two worlds. Chuck uses the montage for much more than expediency.

      • anthropocene says:

        Best montage IMHO, in four words: “Take off your watch.”

      • joe says:

        Oh man, Anthro. If there’s one scene that, for me, is best montage, best drama, most intense, most chilling, most exciting, most… everything, that’s it!

        Emblazoned on the mind, it is.

      • atcDave says:

        Definitely one of my favorite television moments ever, of course Chuck had a few of those!

      • Ah, A-Team montages–the most redundant ever. It’s another reenforce and armor the Van montage. They filled noisy construction time. Chuck’s montages had a wide variety of purposes and they benefit story and character development, as opposed to just showing people using a welder to build up to the weekly showdown.

      • Possible montages for the survey:
        – Chuck getting ready to break into Roark.
        – Forrest and Casey cleaning their guns
        – Biz Trip dinner
        – Baby dinner
        – Best Friend – Morgan stalking Anna with Chuck Jeff & Lester’s van while Sarah and Casey follow
        – Woodcombs in Africa
        – Sarah getting her memory erased as Chuck and Casey try to rescue her (worst one?)

        My idea of the best montage:
        – Honeymooners dining carts

      • Ernie Davis says:

        My favorites include the Jill is Fulcrum reveal at the end of Fat Lady, family dinner at the end of Business Trip and the Missile Command sequence in Tom Sawyer. Too many to name really. Still, need to collect season 1 first. There must be more than 4!

      • thinkling says:

        Ooo Ernie, those are some of my favorites, too. I loved the one in Tom Sawyer, and next to Business Trip, the Jill reveal was one of the most dramatic.

        Thinking of others for S1: Nemesis, when Sarah and Casey are opening up the capsule; Sizzling Shrimp, when Sarah and Casey are in the club and Chuck is helping the bad guy get away; Sandworm, Chuck pedaling to stop Lazlo, while Morgan does his interview for him; Alma Matter, Casey and Sarah fight the bad guys, while Chuck calls in reinforcements. And there are probably some others, too.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I forgot Bryce’s funeral in Helicopter. That was a good one. Thanks for all the others.

      • The beach scene is sort of a montage, with flashes to Sarah looking at Cabo pictures and Chuck getting the group hug.

        I depends on the definition of a montage. There are no-dialogue montages (various getting dressed sequences and dinners), parallel scenes (Morgan interview for Chuck), and mixed action sequences (Alma Mater sequence).

      • thinkling says:

        That reminds me, Ernie … has anyone else wondered why Bryce from CT, supposedly a Washington Banker, was buried in Burbank. (And let’s not say it was Chuck imagining it was Burbank ;))

      • atcDave says:

        I was just watching Helicopter and was wondering the same thing. I guess we can just say he had some connection to the area. Of course, it might have purely been a CIA sham funeral for Sarah and Chuck’s benefit, since they obviously knew they didn’t have the body.

      • thinkling says:

        I didn’t catch it on first watch, but at some point I had that aha/huh moment. Wati a minute. Bryce is from Conecticut. Obviously it was a sham, but Chuck and Sarah didn’t wonder why Bryce from CT was being buried in Burbank? I’ve never heard anyone question or address it. Weird.

      • Also, why was Bryce’s shooting in the LA paper? If it was killed in DC, he was one of, on average, over 30 that day. It wouldn’t be newsworthy across the country. If his cover was as an LA accountant, he maybe would be buried in LA. Bigger question… Who were the other people at Bryce’s funeral? Were they suspects as co-conspirators like Chuck was? Just think if Fulcrum was there. Great way to blow Chuck’s cover before the team really got going.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        We’re definitely getting into the hand-wavy nature of a lot of Chuck plots, something I contend was a “feature” from the beginning, and will have more to say about next week,

      • atcDave says:

        I think some part of his cover involved extensive LA ties. Perhaps he even has real family there. Why would a Connecticut guy end up at Stanford anyway? Maybe his family moved to LA while he was in high school; so he was always known as Connecticut Bryce, but he actually had his folks nearby?

  14. resaw says:

    Bryce of Connecticut studying at Stanford is no big deal. What academically talented young person from the east coast wouldn’t want to go to a top-ranked school on the west coast? As for the funeral in Burbank, as we all know, Burbank is the center of the Chuck-verse…. It is the only plausible explanation. It is another variation on a “plothole” that we simply have to accept so that we can view the scene that we did.

    • thinkling says:

      Spot on, Resaw. The funeral is an important scene, as is Bryce’s obit (for Ellie’s sake), so the neatest way to do it is, as you say, in the center of the Chuckverse. It’s a small plothole that’s easy to ignore for the sake of the story.

      I brought it up more as a curiosity, not really a complaint.

      • PIlots are shot so far in advance, when they don’t know if the show will be picked up, that I find the little backstory changes, simplifications, casting changes and set changes kind of humorous and interesting. Almost shows go through it. Despite all of its flaws and wrinkles, the pilot will always be a top five episode for me. If I didn’t think of Colonel/Ring as a two-parter, the pilot would probably be #2.

      • thinkling says:

        Chuck has so many great episodes that I tend to think of them in tiers. The Pilot is definitely in the top tier, and always floating near the top. A definitive top 5 is hard for me to pick.

      • I also have tiers. I forced myself to make an attempt at a list a few months ago. It’s hard with so many good choices. I was able to manage a top 5. However 4 are tied for 6th. My top 10 has 13, and my top 20 has 21.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        According to his flash on himself in Alma Mater Chuck was originally from Connecticut.

      • That was on the often wrong NBC website too. Two big, unrationalizable mistakes are Casey’s military career (Air Force to Marines–someone decided Marines are cooler than fighter pilots), and Chuck going from CT native to never having left CA. But it sometimes worked to character’s advantages. Casey somehow managed to skip Lt. Colonel when getting a promotion. Sarah lost two years of age, which is sometime I hear women approaching 30 don’t mind.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well you can rationalize Casey’s branch switch away by either assuming Casey was lying to Chuck about the stealth fighter, or assuming that as an international super-spy he somehow found himself at the controls on a mission. Skipping ranks… Well it was a bribe of sorts, so who knows.

        With the two years for Sarah I just assume that with all the identity switching she sometimes switched ages and since she was super smart, she just skipped a few grades along the way and graduated at 16.

        It is fun to find some of those more amusing ones if you have the obsessive attention to detail some of us Chuck fans do. Interestingly, TPTB played of that obsessive attention at times to show us a few things like the famous suitcase picture on Sarah’s nightstand in episodes like American Hero or the same picture causing Jill to have a jealous fit in Fat Lady.

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree with calling the Pilot one of the very best episodes; but I also cannot honestly limit my top tier to five, there are maybe 10-15 episodes that I completely and totally love and it is brutally hard to choose favorites among them.

  15. Jerry Kane says:

    Since we’re talking about the pilot again, let me mention (although I’m sure some of you guys know this already) that you can see the draft script for the pilot here. I’ve found it interesting to contrast the stuff written in this draft that didn’t show in the episode that we actually saw (e.g. Kayla Hart).

  16. Arthur says:

    I just want to say thank you for continuing this blog. I’m glad I’m not the only person who can’t let Chuck go.

  17. atcDave says:

    Yeah Arthur, none of us are ready to let it go yet.

  18. 6 months, 20 minutes ago, Chuck ended. I’d rather be watching Chuck season 6 than this Olympics opening ceremony.

    • atcDave says:

      I’d agree, but then I’d rather go to the dentist than watch THIS Olympic Opening ceremony. Kidding, sort of. I hate to say it, but I thought Beijing was much better. Oh well, is not like anything would have been better than watching Chuck anyway. The real bummer is, we won’t even have any previews (or uh, damage control spoilers!) to look forward to this Olympics!

      • The industrial part was cool, but too long. The Queen’s Bond entrance was funny. There was just a Skyfall preview I hadn’t seen before. I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. The MGM bankruptcy killed off Stargate, and it delayed the next 007 move for too long.

        I thought it was “interesting” how the ceremony went from agrarian to industrial, skipping over colonial which a lot of countries may not have liked. The digital age stuff was weird and a waste of time.

        I didn’t watch Beijing’s ceremony. The forced relocation stories turned me off to it.

      • atcDave says:

        I enjoyed Rowan Atkinson and the Chariots of Fire bit too; but yeah digital age and Mary Poppins didn’t work for me.

        The Skyfall preview was exciting, I saw a different one in the theater a few weeks back. I think it’s the next movie I’m actually looking forward to.

        The China situation is why I said I hated to admit it. The show was spectacular, some of the background situation was very troubling.

      • atcDave says:

        Holy smokes! Very cool moment. I know the flag bearer for New Zealand. Nick Willis goes to my church! I know, I know, he runs for New Zealand; but he lives in Ann Arbor. Very cool.

      • atcDave says:

        Just so I don’t stay on record as a total grump, I would have to say the torch lighting and fireworks were awesome.

      • joe says:

        Yeah. Sir Paul wasn’t bad. And the Queen as a Bond-Girl is always a winner in my book. 😉

        But now, it’s on. Already this morning I’ve seen a pretty decent bike race (Kazakhstan won), and some early rounds of boxing, plus Canada scoring a goal in women’s soccer. Not bad. Next, some swimming.

        Don’t bug me – I’m busy! ;D

      • jam says:

        I liked the opening ceremony myself, great work by Danny Boyle.

        The ceremony ending with “Hey Jude” was predictable as heck, I could have guessed that as soon as London got the Games.

      • joe says:

        True enuf, Jam. That sing-along was predicable. The flying bicycle was pretty cool, though. I didn’t expect that one.

        Here’s a Chuck-connection for everyone who’s worried that this is off-topic. I haven’t watched NBC so much since January, when the show ended! I’m diggin’ the archery right now. The US team is shooting for the gold metal.

  19. There was a problem with the torch lighting.

    I can image the conversation between Chuck and Morgan after last night’s opening ceremony. Chuck would try to calm Morgan down, but Morgan would be completely flip out. Sarah would wander in, wondering what’s going on. She’d leave after hearing Morgan’s claims of a paradox at a fixed point in the space-time continuum ripping the universe apart resulting in another big bang. Chuck would calmly explain that it must be in another universe, so we are all safe. Plus the 11th Doctor’s appeared in the middle of the torch lighting relay, meaning the 10th Doctor was never there. The 10th Doctor probably changed his own history so he wouldn’t be on world-wide TV where Donna might see him and get her memories back. Then Morgan would ask if that’s what really happened to Sarah–that she is really Doctor-Sarah, and the 10th Doctor erased her memories of being part Time Lord so her brain would not burn up. Chuck would give up and leave the room to join Sarah.

    So what are they talking about? The Olympic Torch was supposed to be lit by the Tenth Doctor:

    But then the 11th Doctor made an appearance instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkP8W4D2k68

    • joe says:

      That’s quite a story, Jeff. But you know as well as I that Morgan simply could not have stayed awake for the entire flight, so the plane had no one rooting for it to stay in the air. They crashed, but used the tardis anyway. Time Lords to the rescue?

      Huh? 😉

  20. Jerry Kane says:

    I know even alluding to the third season is a bit of a sore point on this site, but while rewatching the pilot for the umpteenth time, I caught this particular line by Sarah during the first date with Chuck:

    “After I realized that all of my friends were his friends and that everything about Washington reminded me of… Bruce, I needed change. A big one.”

    I suddenly remembered how Sarah seemed to want to move away from Burbank for a good part of the third season. Granted, it may have been just a story she told for cover, but, it did sound like something she could have said if you had asked her at the time why she wanted to be reassigned.

    (Of course, we’re all glad she stuck around anyway. Chuck’s her home, after all.)

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Sarah seems to have a pretty strong flight instinct. But apart from the rough few months you mention Chuck becomes theonething she will not choose to run from.

  21. Charaforever says:

    I am so Grateful that you are doing this rewatch. Chuck is the only program that I have ever watched that I would dl in the morning (living in The UK) but would then cheerfully watch it three times before going to work in the evening. I would find/notice extra things when rewatching but still when reading reviews or listening to podcasts. It is great that we can now watch and think about things that occur in the episode in relation to the five years we have had..
    For instance you reference Sarahs flight instinct and I think about S3 when she could have gone with Carina and then later when she goes to DC and her expression in the back of the Cab. In many ways it makes Chuck rejection of her in Pink Slip worse as she lost not only him but the friends she had made in Burbank. Although she would have lost them aswell if they had run away. With reference to the ‘All my friends were his friends’ line it seems so true as she had the Cat squad but lost Zondra as a friend,a, nd to me it seems unlikely that Amy was a friend so the only person we know as her friend from before Chuck is Carina. It does make me think more about Sarahs desire to have a friend in ‘Business Trip’ and her speech to her family at the end

    • ref51907 says:

      I hadn’t thought to make the connection with the Pilot and Business Trip friends theme. Makes sense, though I was always thinking that she wanted someone away from the spy life. You have given me some food for thought.


  22. Jerry Kane says:

    I thought it was sort of appropriate to leave this here, so…

    This article has a nice bit:

    Pitching the pilot story of [NBC’s] Chuck to a network executive who just looked at me when I finished and said, “Why would you want to write that?”
    – Josh Schwartz on the most absurd note he’s ever gotten.

  23. Chris Byrnes says:

    Usually, when it comes to pilots of a show I tend to go in with an open mind. No matter the show. I also go in with caution because sometimes the first episode could be just a draw, and I am not interested anymore after the first half hour. After watching Chuck for the first time, I wanted to watch it again and for the last four to five months all I have been watching is Chuck. Obsessed maybe, addicted absolutely.
    Never before has a show hooked me so much that I want to watch the characters over and over. I never get tired of it. Whether it is Charah, Morgan, Elle, Awesome, Lester and Jeff, Even some of the special guest stars are not getting old. Now enough of my reason to love the show and my re-watching habit.
    On with my view on the pilot of Chuck, I love the fact the action jumps right in. Bryce saying goodbye to the intersect and Casey saying “Don’t Move” The introduction of the characters is well done, and not thrown at you like some sales job. Vicky Vale is a classic and I am always watching it on YouTube. Morgan comes off to be a bit clingy, and out of all the characters Elle annoys me. I find myself not liking Elle as the series goes on. Here is why
    While I understand Elle raised chuck and in the pilot you can see she acts very motherly, but she pushed for him to find a girlfriend, and to get over Stanford, but if your heart was ripped out by both subjects it is hard to move on when the subject is constantly coming up. She complains about is lack of wanting to move on from Buymore, which he does by becoming a spy, she does not like that job it was almost like damn if you do and damn if you don’t.
    Now on to my problem with what Sarah said in The Other Guy and people overall general consensus that she fell in love with Chuck between the time he “fixed her phone and before he started disabling bombs”
    I don’t think it is possible and here is my theory on it. The evidence I have comes from the pilot and nemesis. And to be honest I feel her feelings started to become real once Lou came into the picture because for the first time Sarah was threaten by another woman. A woman who was regular and as Chuck says real/
    See Chuck is a normal guy and she wants that except she was with Bryce before that and when she met Chuck in the pilot it was presumed that Bryce was dead and in her own testament said that they were together for a long time. If this is the case they how can Sarah fall for someone after her partner was killed the day before. Especially at the end when she is going through the pictures on her phone/ she just found out the connection between Chuck and Bryce, and the wondering why her partner would do such a thin wade heavily on her mind
    I am not saying she didn’t like Chuck or cared right away, but fell that’s a stretch especially when she almost went with Bryce in Nemesis> She also allowed Bryce to kiss her in Chuck’s room and didn’t stop him from doing it.
    And as I am writing this I keep thinking about Elle’s Wedding, and for me that was were Sarah fell head over heels, because she couldn’t take her eyes of Chuck and actually told Bryce that she was not coming with him. She finally succumbed to her desires and attempted to start something with Chuck.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think the answer lies in both Other Guy and the finale. She obviously felt something almost immediately, she went off-mission to protect him and keep him out of the bunker from basically day one, but in the finale we see she couldn’t even admit it to herself till “day 564”. There really isn’t any conflict from that retroactive realization happening in late season 2, and Sarah’s realization in late season 3 that she was a goner from the get-go. She was compromised from the start, took over a year to realize she was compromised, and took close to another year to realize that it started right away, from that first day.

      • atcDave says:

        Every now and then Ernie and I agree completely! Yeah I don’t think the fact it took Sarah a while to decide or realize what Chuck meant to her diminishes his immediate impact. But as a new and life changing event for Sarah it took her a while to come to grips with it.

        Very interesting view in Ellie. I liked her from the start, but I would agree entirely with saying her “involvement” occasionally went too far. But parents can be like that, and practically speaking, that’s exactly what Ellie is.

        BTW Chris, I’m really glad to see another Chuck fan with such an extreme level of enthusiasm! That’s exactly why this site got started, and why we’re all still writing about the show two years after it ended. It IS hard to say goodbye…

      • Chris Byrnes says:


        I agree with you on your point here. day 564 is important and it is a shame the TPTB didn’t put that on screen. It would of been nice to see what event lead to it. There is a lot of information that has yet to be explained and it is a shame that NBC cancels shows that have a following and keep shows that deserve to be chopped.

        We can all assume day 564 was between The Predator and Broken Heart because Sarah was acting more like a girlfriend then handler, but as she said didn’t know what to do about it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Oh my Chris, you are opening a can of worms with the “when is day 564” question. A similar vein is happening on the IMDB boards, so I’ll just point you to some differing opinions here and here.

    • joe says:

      I too am glad to see a new Chuck fan. We’ve have a surprising amount join us these past few weeks.
      Like Dave said, he shares your level of enthusiasm. What he didn’t say is that there’s more than a few of us just like that.
      A small story, that I’ve told before: Back towards the end of S2, I was so engrossed in the show that I had a hard time not talking about it constantly at work. Mostly, I succeeded in appearing rational and normal to the outside world, but one day I got into a conversation with a new acquaintance, who happened to say something like “Mondays. Ugh. I hate Mondays.”
      I sort of smiled and said, IIRC, “I love Mondays now. My favorite show is on tonight.” She looked at me oddly and came back with “Really? What show?” When I said “Chuck”, we both grinned, like we had exchanged some sort of secret spy message. She was quickly becoming a rabid fan herself.
      I met a number of people, actually, who considered the show a bit of a secret pleasure back then. Very cool. 😉

      I’m gonna tell you right off the bat that I really love the Ellie character, but I’ve admitted several times that I have a ‘thing’ for long-haired brunettes – We call it The Winnie Cooper syndrome.

      As for Sarah, I’ve come to think that, just like she jump-started Chuck’s desire to be someone (someone more than a nerd-herder), he jump-started her desire to be a normal, loving person, someone who had friends and family. Neither wanted to totally cut away the person they had been – Chuck will always be a nerd and Sarah will always be a spy. But they came to realize that they were much bigger and better than they had ever thought they could be. Their chance to grow started in the Pilot.

      Hey! I encourage you to join us in the current conversations, especially the one happening here which is linked from the drop down menu labeled “Chuck News” at the top of the page.

    • thinkling says:

      Yep, welcome to ChuckThis! I think Ernie and Dave and Joe covered Sarah, so I’ll skip the novela I usually write on her. 😉 I’ll just say that for the most part I always liked Ellie. She was a bit protective, but given their back story, I cut her some slack. The only time she annoyed me to the point of not liking her very much was when she asked Chuck to quit the CIA. But honestly, I disliked Chuck much more for acquiescing.

      Again, welcome and stick around and stay in the conversations.

      • Chris Byrnes says:

        Thank you for your kind words, and I have been reading the blog for a few weeks now and while I agree with some I disagree with others. For example, My take on the Shaw character was one of my favorites and I will explain later.

        What I liked about Shaw was the same way I liked Rye- He pushed Chuck, he made Chuck into the spy that we later see him become where he uses both the intersect and his intelligence to apprehend Shaw and Volkoff- I don’t want to waste all my thoughts on the pilot because the series offers so much to talk about so I will safe some bullets for later

  24. Chris Byrnes says:

    I am not saying that Sarah didn’t feel anything, for her to risk her life already for Chuck without being named his handler yet, speaks volumes on her part, and also covering for herself by pointing her gun at Chuck to make it look official is telling and the start of something, However, Chuck’s life of normalcy at this point was the attractive point-not the man.

    What I mean is Chuck has a moral code to him. he also will put his friends and family first before him. Much like Sarah he is a fixer and to his own detriment loyal to the core. He never asks for anything in return, and won’t seek more if he sees that would be the best case. Hence Morgan asking “why won’t you call this girl?” Here is a what if for everyone- what if he said he was not free to Sarah- What would of her been her next tactic

    His interaction with the young girl to handling himself at the hotel showed the maturity and ability Chuck had to offer-A nerd who can think quickly under pressure. He was not afraid to act when it was important. Sarah seeing this showed her that it is possible to turn on and off the agent switch.

    but at this stage it was mostly on. Bryce kept the motor running and Chuck gave her the out she has been seeking remember she said that after taking her Red Test and the baby incident made her start to wonder about her chosen career. Not to mention being Graham’s personal enforcer. Burbank offered a lot for Sarah, which is why she said she was “good here” to Carina, which also why she was reluctant to leave with Cole and Shaw.

    She doesn’t become flirtatious with Chuck until Tango- When says she could suffer through a kiss with chuck and was hoping he would do it- looking for excuse to be able to touch him whether it was fixing his hair in Sizzling Shrimp to fixing his ties. She kept her cool until the fear of losing him to death or the bunker- but I stand by my theory that what pushed her more was Lou as much as Dave hates love triangles-this was not a triangle per say. it was more of a normalcy vs duty

    with Lou, Chuck could be with someone without a cover or lies. Lou saw chuck as a man first and this is what attracted Chuck to Lou. and Sarah kept reminding Chuck this was just a cover so it only makes sense for Chuck to act on the attraction with Lou- When Sarah meets Lou she immediately becomes jealous and claims Chuck as her Boyfriend-She never says this to the other characters openly like this until now. until Lou. I still love the look Sarah gives Lou at the club when Sarah asks Chuck if he was “ok”

    She claimed Chuck and his family as the family she never had by the end of Season one. The First Date was were you start to see her attracted to Chuck the man-wanting to kiss him and be his personal coach on a professional level unlike Elle was more of a positive on his make up.

    In First date, she gives Chuck a clue when she says “you can have everything you want” However, the nerd in Chuck didn’t catch on with that. Chuck was just happy to be free from working with the government.

  25. FirstImpression says:

    In January 2006 I stopped watching TV. I had a newborn, a 5 year old and a full-time job. With awful reality shows, unfunny sitcoms and gruesome dramas, there wasn’t much reason for me to keep watching. Fast forward to 2010 when ‘a single drop of sun fell’ in a movie entitled “Tangled”. The movie was for my little girl, but I continued to watch more often than she did. One of the things I loved most was a certain voice, namely that of Zachary Levi.

    I found myself in January 2014 with some rare down time, so I decided to see what else this guy had done. I discovered lots of YouTube videos of Chuck and Sarah. I was mesmerized. What was this? What had I missed in my self-imposed avoidance of all things TV? Apparently the best show of the decade! I became a fan before I ever watched the first episode. I hopped on Amazon and ordered the first two seasons. Eagerly awaiting their arrival, I continued to search and found this blog. I realize that I am woefully behind – 2 years after the series ended and a year and a half after your re-watch began, but how cool that this blog is still active!

    So now I have watched the Chuck Pilot. Actually I watched it twice, read your re-watch posts and watched it again. My ‘First Impression’? Wow! Quick, smart, funny, entertaining and exciting! Chuck – charming, nerdy, lovable, overwhelmed but smart; Sarah – professional, trying to protect Chuck so she can exonerate Bryce (I don’t see anything other than ‘like’ for Chuck yet); Casey – tough, slightly maniacal, living for the kill, (personally, he had me at ‘pasty’); Morgan – like a child that never stops talking.

    I caught a few things on the third time through that helped tie things together for me. At Chuck’s birthday party, the woman who knew Bryce at Stanford mentioned that he was a gymnast. That fits with Bryce’s moves in the fabulous action scenes after he destroyed the Intersect. Also, the song playing while Chuck and Sarah got ready for their date had a line about ‘the Queen and the King’. Just as ‘the King’ is sung, Chuck is doing his Elvis impersonation. Priceless!

    I know you all are seeing it in the rear view so my comments may seem naive and uninformed, but I though it might be fun to contribute. I promise, I will eventually catch up and I can hardly wait!

    • Chris Byrnes says:

      First Impression like you I started watching Chuck for three months now, and honestly thats all I been watching. Each time I finish the series I want to go back to watch the pilot. I have said in the past that there is no show that I have every watched that wants me to keep the characters on my television.

      What really hooked me was the chemistry of the entire cast working with each other. and as the story unfolded I been hooked since. Shows come and go we all know this, but not too many shows if ever makes you want more. 2 years later and even though I am extremely late to the show. I feel like after 7 re-watches already. I am excited each time I watch. I have maybe gone 7 hrs without watching Chuck.

      Than their is the love story. We have witnessed television’s greatest romance in history of television and maybe even the movies. You have your special ones, but this love story has even made the toughest of men weep during scene that were emotional intense. I get very emotional during the scene in Phase Three when Sarah tells Chuck I want to spend the rest of my life with you…I don’t care if you have the intersect or not. The way Yvonne eyes just flow with tears and expression just gets me..

      Welcome to the site, and I look forward to reading your posts. The articles on this site I highly recommend is Truth Spoken Here. This was the first article I read and what has kept me reading this site and given me interest in commenting.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow FirstImpression, that’s a great story, thanks for your first impressions! I think you’re right on in almost every way. Sarah will later have some things to say about what she first thought of Chuck (long about 3.13), so remember what you said!

      Obviously one problem with this being a big picture re-watch for us, is we will give away major spoilers in our posts. I hope we don’t ruin too much for you. We’ll look forward to hearing more from you.

    • mr2686 says:

      FirstImpression, welcome! Much like the song and Elvis impersonation, most Chuck episodes have several little gems that are sometimes not caught until a few re-watches later. Also watch for many of the pop culture references and the weekly tie-ins between the spy life and the Buy More life. Enjoy.

  26. Gentillalli 304s Brother says:

    just glad to see I’m not alone! I watch Chuck on netflix every week! Just discovered it after Hannah McKay “Dexter” started growing on me. I googled Yvonne Strahovski , and noticed she also was in “CHUCK”! Now can’t stop watching! Since 2014 only. So glad I was able to watch at my pace and not waiting for each season. Anyone who is like me finding this gem is truly blessed. (Bro N.S.A. , C.I.A) where ever you are it’s been 11 years I miss you so much. You flew with N.A.T.O General Jones. p/s
    , “Nuthin’ But The Cavi Hit” (That’s Our Theme) 1997?

  27. bubbasuess says:

    I am sure this subject has been beaten to death somewhere, but I am asking this as a matter of clarification. According to Sarah’s oft-quoted line that she fell for Chuck between fixing her phone and disarming bombs with viruses, can we then safely assume that she fell for him at El Compadre? Based on what we see on screen, this is the only real time they have together where they are interacting in an emotional way. The rest of the events leading up to Irene Demova are all high-stress action oriented events. At dinner she seems to be disarmed by him and her conversation and interest in him seem authentic. This is the second scene in the montage at the end of Goodbye. As far as what we see onscreen, this seems like the only time she could have developed any sort of feeling for him. Am I off base?

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t know that it’s really been narrowed down from what she said. Dinner seems reasonable. Although I know many are convinced she’s just trying to preserve her dignity, he had her at the ballerina…

      • thinkling says:

        Definitely the ballerina. The ballerina hooked her and dinner reeled her in.

      • atcDave says:

        Well put!

      • bubbasuess says:

        This is frustrating. There have been a few times I have wanted to respond to comments but no reply link appears below. Any idea why this is the case? In this case, I wanted to ask Thinkling why she thought that. Not in disagreement here, just curious.

      • joe says:

        Sorry, Bubbasuess. That was my doing, but it was also a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

        You see, we were, for a time, getting tons of auto-generated spam appearing in old posts. At the same time there were, routinely, only a couple or three active posts; commenters rarely if ever visited posts more than a couple of weeks old.

        So I closed comments for a bunch of posts that I considered “expired.” Little did I realize that a whole new batch of readers would go through the archives and reanimate the discussions the way Dr. Frankenstein reanimated parts of… oops. Bad analogy!

        But you get it.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I think that was just a nesting issue. We have long used this site more like a forum than WordPress intends us to.
        We can only go two levels in on replies. So that’s the initial comment, gets a reply option, and the first reply gets one, then it won’t allow another “layer”. But can always go back and reply to the original comment, or that first layer reply.

        All that means is, if you don’t see a reply option, scroll up to the original comment in that thread, and your reply will show up at the end of the thread.
        Some of our threads get heroically long!

      • oldresorter says:

        I think that ballerina scene might have been the first of many ‘Yvonne’s’, which is slang for “a subtle face gesture with the power to move mountains.” I found the clip on youtube, notice how wrong I was, there actually were several ‘Yvonne’s’ before she fell in love, I would spec that one happenned at the 1:55 mark, while by the 2:15 mark, she was already along for the ride, enjoying herself as one of the gang. Enjoy.

        Scenes like this one are why I liked Chuck so much, and maybe single handedly demonstrate the type of call back missing from the joyless final arc.

      • bubbasuess says:

        That makes sense. Thanks guys. I hope y’all don’t mind the resurrection of all these old threads!

      • atcDave says:

        Bubbasuess we love the resurrection of old threads! With the main re-watch complete, we would to think the whole archive of this site is fair game. Never hesitate to comment on an old post. It will be seen. One of the first executive changes on this site was to max out the “recent comments” tab so we could see conversations across a range of topics.

        Jason really well put about the “Yvonnes”. Those reactions are so appealing, and so much of why we believe super spy Sarah Walker is dazzled by an ordinary/extraordinary shlub. Great stuff!

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree. The ballerina scene caught her interest because it showed he was unlike any man she had ever met. He put helping a little girl and her clueless, distraught father over talking to the incredibly hot blonde who was obviously flirting with him. It showed her he was a kind and sincere man. The dinner showed her he was a genuinely nice guy who made her honestly laugh. Again unlike any man she had ever met. Plus the whole baggage handler line certainly sparked her interest lol.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oldresorter, sorry my other posting got started before you posted and so I didn’t see it before posting. You make a very valid point about what was missing in the callbacks in the finale. Moments like this one where you can clearly see her attraction beginning, or any moment that was about them, Chuck and Sarah, was intentionally left out of the callbacks to push all of the reconnection onto the beach. The callbacks shown were meaningless things with no context and no real connection to Chuck or how she/they felt about each other. Even with that, why not have Sarah say to Chuck after he says he met a spy named Sarah have her say “and you helped a ballerina and her dad”. Or at the German El Compadre have him mention the baggage handler and have Yvonne give one of her amazing facial reactions of recognizance when he does. A subtle opportunity missed because they were adamant the angst had to continue all the way to the unfinished beach scene. Examples of small subtle changes that could have made huge differences.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’ll be the wet blanket here and point out that Sarah’s declaration that she fell for Chuck somewhere between fixing her phone and diffusing bombs is her own retroactive assessment of feelings that she had little to no understanding of at the time. All she knew was that she couldn’t get a read on him like she could most men (“I don’t know about this guy Graham”). By Sarah’s own words she didn’t even realize, or at least couldn’t admit that she’d fallen in love with him till “day 564”, so I think it doesn’t help us see the story and the growth the character goes through if we ascribe feelings to her that she herself does not recognize for quite some time.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie wet blanket indeed! I have no problem with saying he had her at the ballerina. That the whole experience was so alien to Sarah it would take two years to come to terms with it is whole different issue.

        Uplink it was a very deliberate decision keep those earlier moments in the finale low key. I would agree with calling it unsatisfying, or a mistake. But it was no “oopsie” mistake. It was a General Short “Let’s bunch all the planes together in the middle of the airfield” mistake. It was very deliberate to put the entire resolution off to a single instant at the very end of the episode. And that so many of us found that instant to be unsatisfying kind of puts the exclamation point on why it was a mistake. It not only put all their eggs in basket; it was the last egg in the last basket…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m just sayin’ that even when she admits her feelings to Chuck she says she “fell for him a long time ago”, she does not use the L word (though we soon see her issues with that word). Falling for someone and taking the next step can be very different things. I just think there is a danger of distorting the story and her actions by forcing the story to conform, in a way that even the characters don’t recognize, our preferred narrative. If you are starting from the beginning and watching with the idea that Sarah fell in love with Chuck in the first moments she met him, and expect her to act accordingly, you are going to get a very disappointing story.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I think you’re working too hard at this! Things take time to sort out. That’s not in dispute. But I think its fair to claim Sarah had strong feelings for Chuck almost from the very start. I even think those feelings impacted her actions from the very start; when she pushes to fix Bryce’s fubar and questions the situation with Graham, it’s already about Chuck making an impression. I’m fine with calling that love, even if it’s just a kernel of what it will grow in to.

      • thinkling says:

        Watching the pilot for the first time, it was obvious, to me anyway, that Sarah was captivated by Chuck (beginning with the ballerina), that she genuinely liked him. The agent melted a bit, and the fixer was set back on her heels more than once by the guilelessly charming nerd. We could see that. (I wouldn’t have used the ‘L’ word then, of course.) I could guess, however, because it’s TV, that they were destined to become an item.

        Over time we saw that seed grow, in spite of Sarah’s trying to stifle it. Early on, even before she was aware (Ellie: I’ve seen the way that girl looks at you, and trust me: she is into you), or willing to admit it (Truth), we saw her inexorably falling in love with him. We knew (along with Ellie and Co) before Sarah did that she loved him. We were supposed to. That was part of her journey and our enjoyment of her growth.

        It really doesn’t matter that she didn’t realize it. We could still observe what was going on with her.

        Now, however, we are looking back and have the same enlightened hindsight that caused Sarah to declare that she fell for him between fixing the phone and defusing the bomb.

        On first watch, I wouldn’t have used the ‘L’ word. But looking back I can do it. Sarah gave me permission in the DYLM scene. Whereas, she didn’t use the ‘L’ word, it was implied by it’s use in the question (Sarah, do you LOVE me?) and her answer in the affirmative (four times, no less).

        If this were a first reactions post, the ‘L’ word would be off base, but we’re all looking back, so I think it’s fair game.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And that’s all I’m saying. We’ve all seen and thoroughly digested the series many times over, but it might be nice if we can occasionally temper our enthusiasm for certain aspects of the story and allow those joining us and the series for the first time discover the story and watch it unfold at their own pace.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie we’ve never made any effort to be a spoiler free zone. And at this late date I see no point in trying. This rewatch was a big picture event from the start. Newcomers have to get that, and adjust their expectations accordingly.
        When events of the Pilot tie in to events of Other Guy or Baby or anything else, I think it’s all fair game.

    • thinkling says:

      Well, like Dave said, I’m not sure how practical a pretend-we-haven’t-really-seen-it approach would be at this point. However, in this case, the point is moot, b/c the original question was asked in the context of Sarah’s confession that she fell for him between fixing her phone and defusing the bomb. We’re really just discussing the question in the context it was asked. Since the question referenced both the DYLM scene and the final montage of Goodbye, we really weren’t ‘spoiling’ anything.

      • Christopher says:

        I agree with Dave on this one,

        I would never discourage people from watching at the pace they choose, but when you watch all 91 episodes its hard to not include the information we learn throughout the series baby and nacho sampler are prequels if you will. After watching baby my perspective of the pilot changed. Especially at the beginning, when Sarah comes to the store. All that had happened to her with Bryce and the Baby she needed to get away from washington and once she saw how her new assignment was she never wanted to leave Burbank.

        Burbank offered a changed of pace with family like atmosphere She never had that in her life. Do I want to spoil it for everyone no but its really unrealistic to think so.

    • Christopher says:


      I often watch the pilot because my 10 month old daughter loves the episode so much she stays quite for a long time. It is well know on this site that my feelings of Sarah falling at the nerd herd desk seems to be a stretch. now I am not saying she didn’t develope feelings with the ballerina. but fell I don’t think so. The question I have begun to think about recently is did Sarah really have feelings for Bryce?

      If the day before was when Bryce was killed, but you fall for a new guy the next day/ it is hard to fathom. Also I feel that Sarah was still in full agent mode up until about when Chuck used his famous “I can be your very own Baggage handler” what was an assignment became a real date for Sarah, She admitted so ” I Like you Chuck.:

      To me Sarah doesn’t begin to act on those feelings until Hard Salami, when she openly cries in front of Chuck and later kisses him only the return of Bryce ruined that. Fast forward to season 2 and we get the committed Sarah at the end aft Day 564 Agent Walker started to fade after admitting to Cole I don’t cheat on my cover boyfriend. and it was sealed at the beach wedding.

      She told Bryce I am not coming with you. if you watch Chuck vs the Ring carefully you will notice from the start when Chuck said he didn’t want to join the CIA Sarah was distrust she felt her life was caving I have study the development of Sarah and realized in season one we learn that she claimed The apartment, Chuck’s family and Chuck’s bed as hers hence the willingness to sleep over two times. Chuck’s apartment was he home and she already subconsciously knew it. So by the time The ring episode comes around Sarah is committed to Chuck the man. She doesn’t want to leave with Bryce or work with the CIA and like all the others times just before Sarah can say how she feels the job cuts her off this time Orion.

      Sarah is this close to normalcy watch how she looks at Chuck on the beach. her eyes body all wanting Chuck . ITs beautifully well done. So, did Sarah fall in the pilot sure but she still was in full agent mode. until Lou comes into the picture. See Sarah had nothing to fear in her life when it came to men. Yet Chuck even though he was in to Sarah wanted something real. but Sarah wasn’t going to let that happen.

      So between Hard salami and Lethal Weapon. Sarah danced with her feelings, but after lethal weapon Sarah the girlfriend was ready to take over.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Admittedly then I must have missed the original context. My peeve is that every episode discussion seems to turn in to a discussion of the entire series, which might have been appropriate in the re-watch, but now, to me, it detracts from just being able to enjoy an episode on it’s own merits without some grand purpose or great portent having to be derived from each scene.

      As to the original question I take my cue from Sarah. She isn’t exactly sure when it happened. Some time between Chuck fixing her phone and defusing a bomb, a period of two days, her first two days in Burbank, something in her and the way she saw Chuck changed. Several years later she understands what it was, but still can’t place exactly when it happened.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, I see your point but though it may have been 2 days between those events, it was only 20 minutes of screen time to us the viewers. What the writers were trying to do was simply say that Sarah fell for Chuck, which is different than loving him, right at the beginning in episode 1 and I think that is clear even without the context of the entire series. We just like to point to the ballerina because it is such a romantic element to the story.

        But one thing that is clear to me both looking at just the episode and in the context of the entire series that if once they left that beach Graham had given Sarah a termination order on Chuck, I don’t think she could have done it. Casey certainly could have and would have but I don’t think she would have.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree that it is clear that Sarah felt something for Chuck early on, but the reveal in Other Guy does not change the context or the conflict arising from those conflicting and confusing emotions going forward from the pilot, which to me seems to be something people are in danger of trying to do. No, she would not have killed him in all likely-hood, but in the very next episode she was threatening to walk away and leave him to the bunker.

        The importance of the “fell for you a long time ago” is not what it says about Sarah in the pilot, but what it says about her going forward, that she is coming to terms with her feelings, starting to understand her conflicted and often troubled past with Chuck and making peace with the fact that as much as she fears how she has changed Chuck, he has also changed her, and there is no going back for either of them.

      • Christopher says:

        If this episode was not a a stand alone and apart kf an arc for example you cant talk about phase three without talking about fear of death but because the pilot is spaced seasons apart with its arc
        Thr way u suggest on leaving a epidsod to its merit only works with sizzling shrimp or sandworm

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Ernie, though I would point out that the tone of Helicopter was intentionally changed away from that darker, more confrontational style because as TPTB said, “that wasn’t the show viewers wanted to see”. She was making a point to Chuck about trusting her and that by the end of Wookie even a bunker would have been a difficult pill to swallow for her. Sarah’s reaction to Chuck’s line about “I thought you were supposed to be good at lying” was priceless and an example of how his opinion of her mattered to her and we all know that after Marlin, the bunker was even off the table.

      • Angus MacNab says:

        If it wasn’t for Lizzy Shafai shooting Longshore, Sarah would have watched Chuck get on that helicopter and go to a bunker.

      • anthropocene says:

        It was looking that way, but maybe she’d have saved him sooner.

      • atcDave says:

        She would have figured something out.

      • thinkling says:

        We can’t know that she would have let him get on the helicopter. The important thing is that for at least a moment, she considered stopping his extraction at gunpoint — the epitome of being compromised. Lizzy saved her from having to make that decision, but it gave us a window into Sarah’s frame of mind and the extent of her compromised position with regards to her (not just an) asset. I think we can safely interpret that, from that moment on, there was no going back for her.

      • oldresorter says:

        Interesting however, yet another time that we really don’t know, do we?

      • Angus MacNab says:

        Maybe, Anthro, more likely she’d probably have tried to do what she said, “Save you later?”

        Yes, she was compromised. She was also one who took her duty very seriously, almost to the extreme. It made her somewhat unpredictable, the Wildcard, and at that point one who could have easily gone either way, despite her feelings for Chuck.

      • joe says:

        That “not knowing” is one of the great things about those first two seasons, I think. Every time I thought I knew what Sarah was thinking, she would do something like tell Chuck she saw no future for them as a couple, or start to pull a gun on a fellow CIA agent, or tell someone like Roan that Chuck was “just an asset”, followed by telling Chuck that she’s never seen “anyone quite like you.”

        There’s a hundred examples of Sarah being perfectly ambiguous and perfectly consistent in her actions while being simultaneously betrayed by her own, subtle reactions. And who but Yvonne could have pulled that off?

        I don’t think we were supposed to know anything for sure about what Sarah was thinking, at first, even if were were supposed to go back later, slap our foreheads and say “Of course she loved Chuck right from the start.” Pardon me while I gush, but I’ve always thought the execution of that plan was brilliant!

      • atcDave says:

        That uncertainty was a very exciting element of the first two seasons. But I think I suspected from the start, and knew from Marlin on, that when push came to shove, Sarah would choose Chuck over duty. It was wondering what that shove would be that was so exciting, and in First Kill it was perfect.

      • joe says:

        I absolutely agree with that, Dave. Not that I can point to the exact reasons my reactions were so viceral, but to this day, I consider that whole sequence leading up to Colonel and Barstow the most amazing TV I’ve ever seen. And it starts with the Pilot.

        I hope I live long enough to have another show affect me as much!

      • anthropocene says:

        I’m with Dave and Thinkling. Sarah was saved from having to make the choice, but I can’t envision her standing idly by. (The play on words was intentional, Angus.)

  28. oldresorter says:

    I don’t have the link, but I recall watching a Covert Affairs interview with the actors who play annie and augie b4 they became LI’s. They admitted they did not know if they were meant to pair up, and didn’t want to know. The reason was that way, each scene could be played in the moment, or something like that. I wonder if Yvonne was given any direction in the pilot as to how to act the part, i.e. were any of these early moments meant to be a ‘love at first sight’ romcom-like moment, or just nice moments that the actress conveyed on her own, or as part of her interpretation of the scene at the time? I don’t know.

    Much like other scenes and episodes were either liked or disliked based on one’s interpretation, I will stick with my ballerina and my love at first sight interpretation, while realizing others will write contrary opinions. By now, if I as fan and blogger have learned anything about others here, several of our POV’s are fairly entrenched (mine maybe being the most entrenched). I used to not like that at all, but I’ve come to accept the differences, and I’ve gotten to the point I read other opinions and try to learn. In that spirit, I must admit, given what I know about the showrunners, it’s possible that the first moment was not meant or planned to be a love at first sight moment. But then again, maybe it was? Or maybe one of the showrunners meant it to be so, and the other didn’t? Holy full circle Batman! This is way tooooo much fun!

    • atcDave says:

      I’m pretty sure there was always meant to be a romantic angle. But I think how intensely it struck with fans took them off guard. I’ll just always be glad Kayla was written out!

    • uplink2 says:

      Well at the time of shooting the pilot I don’t think the Showrunners even knew for sure. I mean they went so far as to shoot the Kayla scenes, put her in the cast group photo, and when they got to the editing room and saw the incredible chemistry between Zach and Yvonne, Kayla was sent packing and completely written out of the story line. As I mentioned elsewhere the made a conscious decision to turn away from the tone set in Helicopter because it wasn’t “the show pweople wanted to see”. So I don’t get the impression they really knew where the story was going to give Yvonne that kind of direction in the pilot. It was simply what happened on screen and I give them a lot of credit for seeing what was working and what wasn’t and adapting. Too bad they didn’t do that 2 seasons later until it was too late to scrap a failed storyline.

      • atcDave says:

        Well yeah I definitely agree about being prescient with the Pilot, and not so much with S3. But I think Kayla was cut long before editing, I think she was only on set for a couple days of filming. The way I’d heard it was they felt like there was too much going on in the first script. So they apparently decided Kayla was surplus to their needs. I would guess that means they liked what they were seeing from Zac and Yvonne, and I forget the actress’ name (Kayla) couldn’t compare.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Pardon my ignorance here, but who was Kayla?

      • atcDave says:

        In the original script she was the “normal” girl who lived in Chuck’s apartment complex that he had a crush on. Her name was Kayla Hart, there’s even cast photos floating around the Internet with her and the whole cast. I just googled her, Natalie Martinez was the actress.
        My guess is that “Lou” represented an abbreviated version of Kayla. As far as I know it has never been discussed what her long term prospects were. But since she was cut early in production of the Pilot she remains a footnote.

      • joe says:

        The only other thing I ever read about their intent was that Kayla was supposed to be the “anti-Sarah.” That is, they were suppose to represent opposites in Chuck’s mind. Kayla -> safe, Sarah -> excitement.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually Kayla Hart was a hot mess of a girl, heavily involved in the indie-Music scene, meant to show that Chuck had a thing for messed-up dangerous women and longed for some excitement in his life. Sarah started out as the ostensibly “normal” girlfriend who everyone else would see as right for him as opposed to the dangerous wild-girl he had a crush on.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Whatever role she was supposed to fill, I am glad they cut her. Something very different could have come out from those ingredients and I have a hard time seeing how any of it would have been better.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree entirely bubbasuess!

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, I don’t think there were any Love-at-first-sight directions given. Perhaps there was some direction. I don’t know where those moments came from, whether they were from Yvonne’s instinct or some directions about a potential romantic angle with CS … or a combination of both. What we ended up seeing may not have been exactly what the show runners envisioned, but they evidently liked what they saw, or it would have been changed.

      • atcDave says:

        I know the romance angle was mentioned even in pre-release promotional material. So whether it was intended from the Pilot or not, they did recognize what was on screen immediately.
        But I know they’ve said they were taken a little off guard by the intensity of fan reaction to it.

  29. bubbasuess says:

    I think you are right Uplink. At the end of the beach scene, when she bumps him with her shoulder, that does not feel like a spy trying to manipulate someone or anything like that. It seemed like a genuine connection.

    • atcDave says:

      It always looked genuine to me too. Along with “I like you Chuck”, and it’s almost like she surprises herself with it. That connection was so strong right from the start, I just can’t interpret it any other way.

      • bubbasuess says:

        I totally agree. Honestly, the “I like you Chuck” was why I posted the question above regarding where between the fixing phones and defusing bombs her falling for him could have taken place. From what we see on screen, that seemed like the moment to me. Sarah comes across as a bit surprised that she actually like him and from that point on, it was all over for her.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah and I love that look, sort of embarrassed for having said it. Great moment.

        I guess though I interpret the ballerina scene as Sarah thinking, not only that its cute, but that Chuck may be one of the few decent guys she’s ever met. I loved the way Thinkling put it up above.

  30. bubbasuess says:

    One thing I really liked about the pilot was who Casey was sort of set up as the villain until the very end. Throughout Chuck and Sarah’s date he was a pretty brooding menace and when I first watched it, I remember thinking they were setting him up to be the show’s main bad guy. It wasn’t until he prioritizes saving everyone from the bomb over acquiring Chuck for the NSA that one got the first sense that he was going to turn out to be more than he first appeared. Still, it did seem a bit more threatening to Chuck at the end with Casey in the green shirt at Buy More. This does not have a lot of bearing on the rest of the show, except to establish Casey as a not entirely on Chuck’s side for a while and it gave him more complexity as a character as the first two seasons progressed. In terms of the single episode it was a great plot device.

  31. bubbasuess says:

    Does anyone know if the Irene Demova scene at the end of the pilot was the first one that they filmed? I feel like I can hear an Australian accent coming through Sarah’s two lines of dialogue. Am I imagining this?

    • atcDave says:

      I’m not exactly sure what the order was. There are a few of times in the first couple seasons I thought I heard some Aussie leaking through.
      But I do believe the whole “date night” part of the episode was done first. I know parts of it were used for the auditions, so it was clearly written early. There’s also a rumor that Kayla Hart is visible in the background of the nightclub sequence, but I’ve never noticed. And there was some talk about needing a stunt driver, in part, because Yvonne didn’t have a US driver’s license yet. Although I believe Yvonne dismissed this saying she never would have done THAT driving regardless.
      So if that helps make it as clear as mud…

  32. oldresorter says:

    Chuck vs The Pilot Review – Top Ten Moments

    Here are my top ten moments from Chuck vs the Pilot. The dialogue quotes were written down by me, I might have gotten a few words wrong, I hope you take them for the positive spirit the writing is intended to portray. This got a little long. Oh well?

    #10 – “Aces Charles.” Little did Ellie realize just how much Chuck needed to channel his inner Stephen for this date, a glimpse into his future no doubt.

    #9 – “Why wouldn’t you call this girl?” Morgan asked. Chuck responded, “Did you see her?” Morgan responded, “I know, and I repeat…” Chuck responded, “Because I live on planet earth Morgan.” This neat little exchange laid out the premise of the first couple of seasons, the cat and mouse game played between Chuck and Sarah.

    #8 – “Dammit!” Sarah unmasks as she drives away in the Porsche after she failed to steal Chuck’s computer, and says a line which happens to be Jack Bauer’s favorite line, foreshadowing the real life actresses future role. I recall being thrown off guard by the scene first time, might be the ’24’ line that netted the scene a spot in the top 10.

    #7 – ‘Bryce Larkin, not an accountant’ the screen displayed as we meet Bryce for the first time. The 1st Bryce scene so upped the stakes of the show, moving from a ridiculous comedy to a high stakes, serious spy show in the bat of an eye.

    #6 – Ellie, Chuck and Morgan hamming it up in the first scene of the show, ‘Chuck I invited real live woman for you, so please, let’s go. Morgan, you stay here.’ I liked Ellie and Morgan not getting along in the pilot. Creepy Morgan was fun!

    #5 – While on their first fake date, Levi’s personality took over, and he did ace the date, even while Sarah was on a mission. “I like you Chuck.” The agent seemed surprised by her own words. Then they danced, and Chuck’s life never was quite the same again as he quickly realized how far over his head he was as Agent Walker bumped and grinded about him while disabling those out to do her and her asset harm. I include in this scene the words “Get in the car” as they ran from the club, and she picked the lock when he hesitated, followed by what always works in a great TV ep, a chase scene.

    #4 – If the Bryce scene showed the spy life stakes in the show and the Morgan, Chuck and Ellie scenes showed the fun side, then less than eight minutes into the show, the tie between the fun and the spy life was clearly made when the intersect arrived via email. Whether it’s the first time or last time I watch this scene or watch Chuck download the intersect, it’s always epic.

    #3 – The beach scene. Chuck asks how long Sarah had been there. Sarah asks Chuck to trust her. Sarah affectionately bumps Chuck’s shoulder. Maybe I’ve seen this scene too much to rate it higher. Or maybe that’s just how great the Pilot was.

    #2 – Much as I’m a fan of the couple, I really, really like Casey, Sarah and Chuck going on missions together, especially one that is directly result of flashing. Beginning with the showdown on the roof, and ending with the first bomb disarming scene, the Pilot gave me a glimpse of the real magic of the show. A few lines, first from Sarah, “Chuck don’t freak out when I point my gun at you.” A few moments later, Chuck responds, “Sarah, I’m freaking out”. Casey then adds in a few moments later, while Chuck and Sarah are squabbling: “Pretty please, can we go disarm the bomb?” Even when he was possibly the bad guy, he was a great straight man! And what great writing to tie in to the the nerd herd scene and Dirty Uncle Morgan to the scene when the virus is used to disarm the bomb.

    And without further ado, the top scene from the Pilot:

    #1 – Stop the presses! Vicky Vale. Vicky, Vicky Vale. I hope I’m not interrupting! The first meeting between Morgan, Chuck and Sarah at the Buymore was an epic moment in television. This may not be the best scene in all ninety one episodes, but it was the first best scene. Who would have ever thought the cute blond stereotypical role was going to become an iconic TV character named Sarah Walker? I think the answer is anyone who saw that scene!

    Grade 10 out of 10. I have a mathematical method to giving out grades which I won’t reveal, we’ll see if it will work or not.

    OK. How did I do? Did I miss scenes you liked more? Did I have the order all screwed up?

    • atcDave says:

      So much great stuff. Some other great moments; “I didn’t know we had our own currency”, “my phone is still not working, I never got your call”, “the CIA skirt you can kill”, “I can be your baggage handler”.

      Best pilot I’ve ever seen.

      • aalleess says:

        Chuck: “I’m still working on my five year plan. Just have to choose a font.”

        Chuck: “Lonely dude call volume will be high.”

        Morgan, after hitting Chuck with a vase: “Come on Chuck, do something.”

        Probably my favorite Jeff quote of the entire show: “What if you were the target of a ninja vendetta and he is going to return tonight to strangle you with his nunchauks?”

        Casey: “Don’t puke on the C4.”

      • atcDave says:

        Great times!

      • thinkling says:

        Such wonderful moments, well paced, and really did a great job of setting up the show and establishing the characters. That’s hard to do in 43 minutes, but then one of Chuck’s hallmark traits was packing A LOT into an (almost) hour of TV.

      • atcDave says:

        There were certainly times when I wished they’d slow down tell the story in more depth. But most of the time it was a strength, and an (almost) hour never dragged!

      • thinkling says:

        True enough, Dave. There were aspects of the show that I wished had been bumped down the list in screen time (Buymore, Jeffster, the bromance, sometimes Morgan) in favor of other aspects I found more central, more important, more heartwarming, etc (the romance, Sarah, Ellie). Sometimes they missed some potentially wonderful “Chuck moments” (like Sarah waking up in Cliffhanger) for throwaway stupid stuff (the funeral sign on the church). But overall, the show did well juggling its genres. Sometimes it was utterly amazing how they could turn on a dime and traverse all possible moods in a single episode (First Fight always comes to mind, as an example).

      • thinkling says:

        And let’s not forget their untouchable skills at the montage. I’ve never known any other show to use it so effectively.

      • thinkling says:

        OK. I’m ready for the next rewatch now.

    • aalleess says:

      This episode is full of great moments. My top five:
      #1-the beach scene: great dialogue, great music, group hug, Sarah watching pictures of her and Bryce, “Trust me, Chuck”, shoulder bump…
      #2-Bryce Larkin scene: probably my favourite action scene of the entire show
      #3-drinking cocktails part of the date: the whole dialogue and especially Sarah’s facial expressions
      #4-Chuck and Morgan trying to escape from the party: “Morgan, this is a bad idea”, “We’ve been compromised”, “I have invited real, live women, for you”, “Morgan, you stay here”…
      #5-Chuck and Morgan on the courtyard before they encounter the ninja: “Did you see her?”, Morgan walking on the fountain, “So beautiful, but so deadly”, “Yeah”…

  33. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Intersect (1.01) | Chuck This

  34. JD says:

    I never got to watch the show when it was on. I actually stumbled across it on Netflix a few weeks ago. I was hooked from the first episode. This show just flowed. It was like there people were ment to be together; referring to the entire cast. They all interact unlike anything I have ever watched on television before. It all seems unforced and natural.

    And then there is Chuck and Sarah. There was honest to god chemestry between Zachary and Yvonne thus the chemestry we all witnessed on screen. It was sensational; and that doesn’t do it justice. Yvonne’s facial expressions, body language, and tone is what pulled me in. Her performance is flawless. I have never seen anyone throw theirself at their work like she did.

    I am about finished with season 4. No, I have not watched the entire series yet. I have had to force myself to a single episode a day otherwise I would get nothing done. Having never heard of Chuck, or Zachary Levi, or Yvonne Strahovski before peaked my couriousity. I wondered why a show this good, with this great cast, was no longer on the air. What had happened to it? I made the mistake of looking into the issue a little deeper. I know what is going to happen and do not think I am going to like it. This show has changed me in some way. I really can’t put my finger on it. It can’t stop thinking about it. I have been about half depressed since learning how the finale unfolds.

    Sorry for the rant. I know this is about the pilot but I felt it important to clear the air if you will so I can try and participate objectively for the othe 90 weeks. I do agree that this episode of full of things that would set the tone for the series. There was just enough information to pull you in and make you want more. This was definitely a building block and a firm foundation to start telling a story that will have many twist and turns; not to mention the on again and off again boy meets girl kind of thing going on.

    • thinkling says:

      Welcome aboard, JD. Glad to have you join the conversation. Don’t worry about S5 … or the finale. S5 has some really wonderful, fantastic stuff. And the finale … we provide excellent therapy. Actually, you may like it better than you think, and if not we’ll talk you through it. I mean it’s been almost 2.5 years, and we’re still talking.

    • joe says:

      Hi, JD. Glad to see you here.
      Thinkling is right – S5 is wonderful, but – I’m sure you’re foreward – the finale comes across as bitter-sweet the first time through (and maybe the second). Never fear. There are gems all through the final season, and we’ve uncovered some in the most amazing places.

      Can I address your questions, though?

      I wondered why a show this good, with this great cast, was no longer on the air. What had happened to it?

      When all is said and done, I’d much rather see a show this good go out in it’s prime than hang on for too long. That’s just my opinion, of course, but in Hollywood these days, five years is a long time. That it seemed too short for Chuck just tells you how good the show was.

      • JD says:

        Glad I found the site and glad to be here. I guess one of the things I took issue with was the writer’s strike shortened S1 and NBC pulling the plug with a half S5. 9 episodes short of syndication. That’s not right. I don’t want to paint myself as being mental or anything like that. I’ve seen many TV shows come and go. Chuck just hit me differently.

        Interestingly enough, I felt so strongly about the show I wrote the cast members and thanked them for their outstanding work. Much to my surprise I got in the mail on July 2nd, not one, not two, but three personalized autographed photos from Yvonne! What a down to earth and exceptional person she is. Made my day is an understatement.

        I look forward to chatting with everyone and hearing what everyone has to say. Thanks to all involved in this great site. Let the 91 week therapy session begin.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey we’re all a little mental here!

        This cast has always had a good relationship with its fans, cool that you heard back from Yvonne.

    • atcDave says:

      We’ve all gone through a lot of theories about why Chuck didn’t endure longer. There were certainly some epic ups and downs; both for the show and its fandom. But in the end, we have something pretty unique and special.

      And I’ll echo my colleges on the end. There was some terrific stuff up to the end, many viewers loved it just purely as it ran. But if you do have issues, well, we’ve talked through things many times over. We’re happy to get into it again. And the best part of the end, we’re left with some terrific fan fiction.
      So in a way, the story will never end.

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