Chuck vs The Truth (1.08)

I usually consider Chuck vs the Truth to kick off the first real multi-episode arc of the first season of Chuck, and I think of it as running through Crown Victoria (1.11).  These episodes  interconnect closely on an emotional level.  Thematically, I suppose you could start and end that arc an episode earlier; as Alma Mater starts Bryce’s back story, and Nemesis ties up the Bryce/Fulcrum story line for season one.  But I always consider the emotional continuity stronger here; and the earthquakes that begin in Truth with have continuing aftershocks until we reach a resolution in Crown Victoria.  So what can we say about the beginning of the first season’s emotional ride? We will discuss it after the jump.

Truth is an episode that typically polls very well.  Many seem to consider it the second or third best of S1.  So I know I’m out of step when I classify it as a weaker episode.  As I’ve said when calling episodes “average” these last few weeks, I still enjoy Truth quite a lot.  There are no S1 episodes that I dislike.  And I would add, Truth is very funny, possibly the single funniest episode of S1.

Looks like trouble

I also really like the later part of the episode, from about the point where Chuck and Sarah start talking in bed until the end, I think Truth is wonderful. I love that they try to discuss their issues (gee, Sarah starts the discussion), I love all the scenes in the hospital, I love chasing down Reardon Paine, while the whole team is loaded up on Pentathol, very funny stuff.  I even, sort of, like Chuck dumping Sarah because he needs something real.  This strikes as legitimate drama and an exploration of Sarah’s fundamental conflict of interest.  Maybe I should say I respect and appreciate the ending even more than “like” it.

So why do I consider Truth a weaker episode? Two reasons, that apparently few viewers agree with.  First is the easy one, way too much dumb sex humor.  Yeah I know, I’m far more conservative on such things than most viewers.  This is a purely subjective issue, but it absolutely affects my enjoyment of the episode.

Chuck’s worlds collide

The second issue is bigger and harder to explain, but it partly involves too much “stupid stick” for Chuck.  It is also related to me seeing no appeal or attraction in the whole Chuck/Lou thing.  At this point in the series I identified strongly with Chuck, well I find Lou’s foul language very unappealing.  And although she says the right thing about slime balls who would cheat on their girlfriends; she then negates whatever wisdom she may have shown by indicating she would be interested in Chuck if he got rid of the girlfriend!   Doesn’t it occur to her if he’s so faithless to Sarah he would likely be faithless to her too?  And she practically encourages him to do so!  Although I do see Chuck’s perspective that Sarah is not a real relationship, and even if she might be his first choice, if she’s not really available he wants someone who is.  But Lou just presents herself as a very trashy alternative from my perspective. So although I understand Chuck’s frustration, I don’t see the appeal of Lou.  This part of the episode leaves me with a foul aftertaste.  Even when it ends on a strong note, I can’t ever be very enthused about the set-up.

The Buy More sub plot is particularly underwhelming.  But again, I don’t generally find humor in the cheating/adultery themes.  Rarely, such mis-communications can be funny, and the rage of Harry Tang almost makes it work.  But I think Big Mike’s final statement on the matter sours me on the whole sub-plot enough I’m not really amused.

As far as the big picture goes, I think episodes both before and after this one are more important.  Truth could have had a more important legacy if Chuck didn’t repeat the whole Lou experience with Hannah (another civilian he tried to build a relationship with based on lies).  And given that Chuck’s lying problem will peak in S3, that issue has no lasting impact here.

A rather loopy version of TeamB

I think if that issue had been dealt with earlier, and Hannah hadn’t happened, I would view this episode in a far better light, possibly even considering it one of the great ones.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  There’s a lot of really good stuff in “Chuck vs the Truth”, especially towards the end.  But overall, I think it falls short of well, all seven episodes that came before it.  I know you all will disagree with me strongly and that’s fine.  One thing I’ve learned in four years actively commenting about Chuck is that we all have different tastes.  Sometimes we’ll find more to agree about on the good and bad of things, but this time I know I’m in a small minority.

~ Dave

Joe vs. The Petite Brunettes

Heh! Dave I couldn’t disagree with you more, and yet, I agree with just about everything you said! How’s that for standing with neither foot firmly on the fence?!

Well, please let me explain. Oh yeah, this is a great episode [Joe does a fist pump!] and few of Chuck’s victories seem as completely satisfying as Chuck’s here in Truth. What victory am I talking about? How about, Chuck’s smart idea about how to get Reardon Payne – a real spy-coup!

Chuck: [Into the bug] Found the codes! Can’t believe where Mason Whitney hid them. I’m gonna keep them on the lady doctor ’till we can move them safely.
Casey: [Angrily] Now the bad guy’s gonna come to us! … not bad, Bartowski. Do that ever again and I’ll kill ya.

Chuck’s spy-craft is getting good! He explicitly defies Casey, gets away with it and traps Reardon Paine (Kevin Weisman), the ex-gymnast bad-guy-for-hire. Not only that, Chuck gets the girl. Face it, Chuck gets both of them.

Yeah, well, about that…

Girl On Top

Naw. I’ll get back to that little problem in a minute. But first, I want to extol some of the other virtues of this episode. It starts with Scooter (Chris Dotson), of course! Truly an underused comedic character.

Scooter: [Hears knock while counting register receipts] Uh-uh. You know the rules, Walker. Not while the green’s out of the machine!
Sarah: [Exasperated] Your parents did a real number on you, didn’t they?
Scooter: Yes. They. Did.

Ah, we miss you, Scooter!

Again!

And of course, Harry Tang (C.S. Lee). You’re absolutely right about Chuck playing a bit fast and loose with the characters’ morals occasionally, Dave. I can’t argue with that at all. But the over-the-top silly intensity of Harry and Poppy Tang with a dash of Big Mike included renders it harmless, in my estimation. This is Harry’s swan song – off to Hawaii he goes, never to be seen again except in fan-fiction. Pity. I miss him too. The way I want to remember him, though, is exactly the way we leave him here in Truth; red-face angry and completely aware of everything going on around him, even as he remains absolutely clueless!

The Opposite of a Truth

Dave, there are actually two 800 lb. gorillas stomping and raging through this episode, and I’m having trouble writing about one without writing about the other, they’re so intertwined. So I won’t try to separate them.

The first is the concept of “the truth”, which we’ve discussed endlessly here in Chuck This!, and the other is the idea of the potential love interest, the secondary character that comes along to distract Chuck and/or Sarah. In Truth, we have both, placed front and center in the story.

About “the truth” – scare quotes intended – we all came to hate it when Chuck or Sarah withheld the truth from anybody, or worse, lied outright. Gee – it caused some fans to give up on the show entirely. Don’t they (TPTB, writers, actors) know that it’s the most important thing in a relationship? Don’t they know that lying is poison?

Don’t hate me now, but I think that we were all a little hard on Sarah (for the Mauser incident), on Chuck (for not telling Sarah what Dr. Dreyfus told him about his condition in S3) and on the writers in general for their handling of “the truth.” It’s not so easy a concept, and it’s certainly not so straight forward. [Joe sees the rotten tomatoes being prepared!]. Here’s what I mean.

Ellie’s telling the truth when she tells Devon to knock it off with the porno-shorts and to stop thinking everything is awesome. She also tells everyone the truth when she says that words taste like peaches and when she relates that she knows Chuck is a big boy now because he’s dating a big, big girl.

She has to be speaking the truth because of the pentathol. But the latter is a meaningless truth, the former is the truth used as a weapon. Neither has to be spoken and both may easily do more harm than good. The truth is supremely important, yes. But that does not mean that it can be spoken thoughtlessly, and it doesn’t mean telling the truth won’t have bad consequences.

By now, Chuck realizes that Sarah’s world is full of lies and deceit. She cannot often speak the truth freely, and often doesn’t know what the truth is. What answer should she give now if Beckman or Graham asks “Do you love Chuck?” I have a lot more sympathy now for Sarah’s patented answer – “It’s complicated.”

The only question Chuck asks himself is if he wants to be a part of that. And that brings Lou, the sandwich girl, into the picture.

Mind Cheater!

Dave, I really, really like Lou! (Yeah, yeah. Me and my petite brunettes. I know, I know!). Where a relationship with Sarah is complicated, Chuck sees that a relationship with Lou is simple. When Chuck is in over his head with Sarah, always depending on her to rescue him from danger and from his own screw-ups, Chuck is in his element with Lou, able to fix her phone and help her calm those voices in her head. Perhaps most importantly, where we see a certain coarseness in Lou, Dave, Chuck sees honesty. He sees truth, not necessary deceptions.

It’s not unimportant that when Sarah finally makes it to Chuck’s bed, he ends up angry. I would be angry too, because he sees nothing real about what they’re doing and Sarah says so. What’s surprising is that Sarah is just as angry and testy.

Why should that be? They’re doing it “for the cover.” I think I know. For the first time, Sarah’s frustrated and angry because their cover is a fake cover too.

Didya get that? The first time I saw the episode, I didn’t understand. I was still trying to figure out if Sarah really cared or not, and I decided that she simply didn’t know if she did. This time, I slapped my forehead and said “Of course she knows!” There was no “real” relationship; there could not be one. But for Sarah the cover relationship isn’t a real cover either. It’s a pretend-cover to hide her true feelings, not a real cover to protect the asset. That is the truth.

“The longer we go, the longer we keep trying to fool people into believing that we’re a real couple, the person I keep fooling the most is me.”

Maybe I was distracted for some reason, the first time I saw The Truth.” Maybe I got called away or just wasn’t paying attention or just plain missed it. For the longest time, I simply did not know that Sarah had been trained to be resistant to the effects of the truth serum. For months I was laboring under the impression that Sarah was forced to speak truthfully when she said “no”, that they had no future together. I thought Sarah was playing cover-girlfriend all along and was not going to change her mind for a long time, if ever. What I should have known was that there was a bigger truth involved.

That mistake made the character almost inexplicable. Sarah Walker was a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma, which was perfectly in keeping with what TPTB wanted us to think about her anyway. But the happy side effect was that I understood Chuck a whole lot better. My limited knowledge was exactly what he had. Chuck’s attraction to Lou (and later, his return to Jill) becomes a very understandable reaction to the world Sarah lived in. It scares him.

But it’s not a reaction to Sarah. Dave, this may very well be the first time C&S use the supply closet and a sleepover for cover. But really, it’s really the first time we see them use the cover for cover.

This episode still polls very high as a fan favorite and I think I know why. It’s because the opposite of a truth is not always a lie. It’s often a bigger truth. If we watch carefully, we get to see, not the truth about Chuck and Sarah, but the bigger truth for the first time.

– joe

Dave Again

Joe I agree with much of that, and I appreciate you summing up the “truth” of the matter between Chuck and Sarah.  As I indicated above, parts of this episode are great.  I think where it fails for me, and what will always keep it from being a favorite, is two things.  First is my total dislike of love triangles.  This is a hard wired bias with me; I can’t help but roll my eyes and want to go screaming from the room whenever this tired cliche is re-used.  The fact I see some legitimate issues to explore here is probably why I don’t more aggressively dislike this episode for it.  And the second issue ties in closely to the first, that is my visceral dislike of Lou.  Perhaps if I had found Lou more likable it would have been enough to overcome my feelings on the triangular cliche.

Reading your comments, I think our very different reactions to Lou may sum up our different reactions to this episode.  In fact, I would guess if we had Hannah in this episode instead of Lou I might have liked it quite a lot.  Unfortunately, when Hannah did actually appear, they were completely recycling ideas and issues from this arc, so I felt two story lines were damaged instead of possibly only one.

And yeah, I expect every single comment to follow will side with you and against me on this!

Chuck Firsts in Chuck Versus The Truth

First inappropriate use of a supply closet … “for cover”

First sleepover … “for cover”

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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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244 Responses to Chuck vs The Truth (1.08)

  1. authorguy says:

    I’m not a huge fan of this episode. I didn’t like Lou much, and the only good thing about the Buy More sequence was Harry Tang leaving. His character was just too abrasive. Hannah’s arc was a much better version of this story, with all three players in totally different places. In many respects, this episode marks a serious failure of Sarah as a handler, since she’s supposed to be maintaining Chuck’s interest in her as a control technique if nothing else. He should never have looked twice at Lou. Letting him actually go to her, for his happiness, should never happen, and is a clear sign that she’s compromised.
    One aspect of the show you didn’t really mention was the humor caused by the uncontrolled truthfulness. I love watching Sarah’s face as Chuck says ‘You’re so pretty’ followed by his comment about Casey’s jaw. If only Chuck had asked his question in the heat of the moment he might have gotten a very different answer.

    • atcDave says:

      Some really interesting comments there Marc. I did like Hannah better as character, but I think that story came far too late in the series to work for me. But I agree entirely that we can see how Sarah is compromised; in fact, that may be my favorite part of this episode, I’m sorry I didn’t put it that way because you are exactly right. I think it will be an even bigger part of how the next episode plays out, but Sarah being compromised is exactly why things go as far as they do; she treats Chuck with more courtesy and respect than her bosses would prefer. She likely could have kept him “under control” with a little more honesty, but she was more worried about getting reassigned than she was about controlling Chuck.
      I did mention the pursuit of Paine while the team is loaded on Pentathol as a favorite moment. That is one of the funniest moments of the season. And I like how satisfied Sarah is with Chucks compliments.

      • authorguy says:

        If she’d said ‘yes’ to Chuck’s question that would have done wonders to keep him under control.

        Both the Hannah and Lou versions of the ‘doomed love’ scenario were needed, but since Chuck is a mere pawn in S1 and an active agent in S3 I think the S3 version is more important to the story as a whole. All he can learn here is that he’s helpless, but as an asset he already knows that. In S3 he learns that even as an agent he’s helpless. Perhaps both Lou and Hannah are necessary to bookend that fact, Lou setting up a boom that won’t get lowered for two seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah she could have controlled him better, but Sarah knew the professional risks if her true feelings ever got back to Washington. Now I do think it could have made a very interesting story with Sarah being honest with Chuck while trying to convince Graham she was playing Chuck to keep him under control. Actually, I think I would have liked that even better than what we got. But I am fine with the idea Sarah was no where near ready to admit to anyone, even herself, that Chuck had already become more important to her than her job.

        And we completely disagree about the necessity of Hannah. I will never see that as anything other than the worst sort of formula story telling. I saw pure wt/wt 101. Not even a hint of honest or creative story telling, just pure manipulation of the formula.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I have to agree with Marc that there was a purpose to Hannah, though I understand why a lot of people see it as a retread of Lou. At the risk of invoking Chuckwin’s Law, a lot of season 3, or at least the angsty part, was seeing Chuck and Sarah apart each walking in the others shoes and gaining an understanding of why the other wasn’t previously able to be what they needed (based on the story as-told by TPTB, they weren’t ready for each other yet). So Sarah is trapped in a life she desperately wants to move on from, forced to see the love of her life act as if she isn’t enough for him, that he needs more than she can give and will be gone as soon as the assignment is over. And Chuck starts to see the cost of the life he chooses, that you can never really let anyone know you, that relationships suffer and die from the lies and the double life, and that you hurt people and destroy lives for a nebulous “greater good”. While Hannah is more collateral damage than a victim, through her Chuck sees why Sarah might have thought Chuck deserved better than what she could give, and why she might have thought the right thing to do was move on after the assignment. It was Chuck’s realization that Hannah was serious and saw a real future for them when he had no intention of sticking around, when he knew there was no future for them, that he realized what he was doing to her, and that she deserved better. For both Chuck and Sarah the early season was a walk in each others shoes, trying to do the right thing, sometimes failing, and finding even when you did, people still got hurt.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie that is all just the story they were trying to tell, it in no way makes it “necessary”. It’s fiction, it can be told a million different ways, very few of those ways are ever necessary. Bottom line is, it was a creative choice because the writers weren’t ready to show them together yet. That’s the bottom line on virtually every story telling decision. So I’m not inclined to give any decision any more merit than how it fares as entertainment. Because I know perfectly well they could have made a version of that story work that I would have enjoyed far more than the one they came up with. Obviously how true the stories seem to the characters and their setting all plays into what will read as a good story, and if challenges are too easily overcome the story isn’t going to be very interesting. But I don’t buy any particular challenge or choice as “necessary”.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, as I said, I’m basing this on the story they told, not the one they could have told, and in that context Hannah has a purpose. I understand a lot of people part ways on this, but if we do not accept the direction TPTB took and at least try to see their reasons I don’t think it’s fair to criticize the storytelling as poor or to say that there was no purpose to it. Not entertaining, fine, not necessary given what they were trying to show us about Chuck and Sarah, I’m not so sure we can say that. If you can see no purpose for anything between Ring and Honeymooners then of course Hannah falls into that category. I’m trying to be somewhat objective in looking at what they were trying to do given their decision to make Chuck a not-so-reluctant-spy and Sarah a more emotional, and yes, needy woman with some serious baggage.

        Yes, there were other ways to tell the story, but they didn’t choose any of them, so we’re stuck with the one they chose. I know that a lot of people see pushing the romance’s resolution to the very end of the show as a contrivance, but most stories do end with the happily-ever-after exactly because that is the end of the story of how they got there. In some ways Chuck has benefited from being on the bubble, they took risks and left nothing they wanted to do on the table, in others it suffered. I very much doubt they would have moved as fast with Chuck and Sarah, or needed the reset if they were confident they had three more seasons. In trying to give the fans the ending they wanted, a sense that Chuck and Sarah finally would get together they trapped themselves. They probably felt they needed to reset merely to keep the fans invested in the big draw of the show, the romance. I understand seeing it as lacking entertainment value, and that’s a legitimate criticism even if highly subjective. I get that you see no purpose they couldn’t have jumped from Ring to Honeymooners, but I find a lot of what happened in between to be extremely important for the growth we see, in Sarah especially, in season 4 and 5, and one of the things that makes that new Sarah such a joy to see. Sarah in season 3, broken hearted, drifting through life and acting out wasn’t always easy to watch, granted, but a lot of people needed to see that side of Sarah to understand why the supremely accomplished and confident woman Sarah liked to portray herself as fell for a genuine nerdy guy who’d never left California rather than those who seemed more suited to a worldly super-sexy-super-spy.

        In some ways I get that people get frustrated with the entertainment industry “common knowledge” like the Moonlighting curse, but in the end I don’t blame them for being a little timid in their miracle-they-got-it third and final season so much as I give them credit for finally breaking through the “common knowledge” and taking those risks while on the verge of cancellation.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie you are completely right when you observe that when Chuck fails me it’s typically on a very subjective level. I’m not one to worry about the occasional plot hole or logical leap; those things I’m perfectly willing to give the writers, as long as they continue to entertain me. So not surprisingly I remain unsympathetic about the S3 failings in particular. but I think I’ll save more of those comments for the appropriate time. I’m not nearly so unhappy or disgruntled about anything in this episode. In spite of not liking the use of triangles, I can see some legitimate issues to explore here. I will never love Truth the way most viewers seem to, but I don’t dislike it either. I tried to make a point above of mentioning the many things I like about this episode. But of course, it’s the couple of things I’m less enthused about that draw all of the attention.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I have to keep reminding myself that we will revisit these issues again when we get to those episodes. Season 3 will be late March of next year with the resolution of the Hannah thing in late May based on our current schedule.

        If we’d started a week earlier and kept to a weekly re-watch the Santa Claus re-watch would have fallen on December 23rd this year, it should be the 30th.

        Also, Fear of Death re-watch at present falls on my 50th birthday, so for at least one day everyone has to pretend to like that episode as much as I do.

      • authorguy says:

        “And we completely disagree about the necessity of Hannah. I will never see that as anything other than the worst sort of formula story telling. I saw pure wt/wt 101. Not even a hint of honest or creative story telling, just pure manipulation of the formula.”
        Since I’m currently writing the nine2five version of First Class, I going to have to disagree. I believe Hannah served a purpose, but I also believe that the purpose was not served very well by the writers. Whether I do a better job remains to be seen, but at least I will not be clouding the issue with unnecessary triangles and wt/wt contrivances. I’m not sure Lou will be such a parallel but it’s something new for me to think about as I go, so I’m glad we’re having this discussion now.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie you know I mostly like Fear of Death, so it should be easy for me to play nice.

        Marc I will be interested to see how you write it. When we talk a purpose (or not) to Hannah, the only thing I’m seeing on screen in a lame device for drawing out wt/wt, if you can show a purpose that doesn’t do that, I will be very interested.

      • authorguy says:

        Well, in nine2five Chuck isn’t an agent, so he’s not the one who’ll be meeting Hannah on that plane! I think Hannah will be a much better lens for Sarah to view Chuck than for Chuck to view Sarah.

      • atcDave says:

        That is absolutely an intriguing take on it Marc.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I should probably wait till the appropriate time as well but I have to say in this case I agree with Dave completely. As I said in an earlier discussion the LI elements in S3 complete make the necessary and important parts of Season 3 unwatchable for me.

        Ernie I think you are giving way too much credit to the writers for the necessity of Hannah. I challenge that based on the story we saw and not necessarily the one you seem to say they were trying to tell us. I have to base my opinion on what we actually saw not what they may have wanted us to see. That is where much of the story fails so miserably. In the Lou arc it is all quite clear what they are trying to tell us. It is well written and well acted. I don’t think I have to think at all about what it is they wanted me to take away from this and the next episode. It is important to the story and reveals much of the characters strengths and weaknesses. All I see from the Hannah arc is simply forced delayed contrivance. All I have ever gotten for reasons for Hannah were, eye candy, stunt casting and an attempt to justify Sham. I see nothing revealed from Chuck that is at all important to his character in his time with her. It was all about dragging things out and going nowhere. We see a lot from his shorter time with Lou. I beg anyone to tell me anything Chuck learned from his time with Hannah. You can say maybe what they were trying to say but I never saw it and I think you give them too much credit if you think there was any deep kind of discussion like this in that writers room when this story was being developed. It was all about putting everything off till 3.13 with one more trip to the empty PLI well. I really don’t think they discussed the nuances of how Hannah grew Chuck. If they did she wouldn’t have been such a pointless one dimensional character. Lou was real, Hannah a flawless Mary Sue.

      • anthropocene says:

        I should wait until this endeavor reaches S3 before commenting much on Hannah. But I always thought that Lou (to some extent) and Hannah (more so) both had important meaning as characters—because they signified the kind of woman Chuck would probably have married had he never been sent the Intersect nor met Sarah. Maybe this is heresy, but I’ve always thought that some future happiness for a Chuck without Sarah (if things had really gone south at the end of the series—fortunately they didn’t) was more likely than future happiness for a Sarah without Chuck. Just sayin’.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think you’re right about that Anthro. But then Chuck was already comfortable investing in people, so its reasonable to think he could have been happy with a number of candidates. Of course he also may have worked most his life at a Buy More.
        Sarah was the complete opposite; without Chuck she was just a spy. And it seems possible that’s all she ever would have been. On a very human level Sarah needed Chuck more than Chuck needed her. But in terms of a productive life, their roles completely reverse.

        But I still hesitate to consider Hannah “important”. My own word for her is “redundant”. Everything I just said about Chuck and Sarah we mostly understood by the end of S2. Sarah still had a bigger cloud of mystery about her, but I remain convinced both characters could have been developed to the same maturity we saw late in S4 without ever getting into anything like the misery arc. And I for one would have both enjoyed the ride more, and liked and respected both main characters more, if they had found a less damaging way to tell that story.

      • joe says:

        Anthro, Dave, I think you’re onto something I hadn’t noticed before. I agree – Chuck could have found happiness without Sarah; it’s not clear to me at all that Sarah could have without Chuck.

        I only demure on that a little, because of Bryce (and yes, because of Shaw. She *does* have a type, as clearly as Chuck does with his petite brunettes). Somehow, I can’t quite see Sarah going the distance with him, though.

        Chuck could clearly go the distance with Lou, Hannah or even Jill, once she was out of Fulcrum. But then, Chuck would have been stunted. Even if he was happy, Chuck’s life would have been middle-management at the Buy More.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, I’d just say that the story “we” saw may be very different in reality. I gave one part of why I thought Hannah important and distinct from Lou. You don’t need to accept it as meaning you should enjoy the arc, but I saw a reason for it. You may not have. As I mentioned to Dave, a subjective reaction (this was all useless) can impact your ability to see the writers intent. People didn’t like the fact that both Chuck and Sarah suffered a lot in season 3 and some tend to see that as unnecessary and contrived, I understand that, that doesn’t mean the writers saw no purpose or had no plan for Hannah other than a delaying mechanism or an excuse for Sham. Chuck was in a very different situation with Hannah than Lou, and the outcomes played very differently for all involved.

        The dinner with Hannah, Awesome and Ellie was a turning point for Chuck. Her speech about the right place and time with the right person woke him up. He wasn’t being true to himself, and he wasn’t being fair to Hannah. It was more about who Chuck was than about his circumstances. With Hannah Chuck was free to date whoever he chose as opposed to an external constraint ruining his ability to date with Lou. With Lou he found it impossible to date a civilian because of his situation, with Hannah he could do so because his situation was different, but with Hannah he realized it wasn’t the right thing to do. Chuck’s low points in Fake Name have mostly to do with realizing he isn’t the guy he thought he was anymore, and Hannah has a lot to do with that realization. Hannah also had an impact on Sarah, seeing Chuck move on left her very vulnerable and seeing him seemingly lead on a woman who was clearly in love with him made her question her influence on Chuck.

        To Chuck’s credit he just sort of fell into it. He never seems to have given it a thought till Fake Name when the realization dawned on him that his new situation, his choice, impacted his personal life, not just his profession. The realization that his new profession had changed him and demanded he consider the consequences to others and the impact on his personal life leads to his decision in Beard and Tic Tac to refuse to allow “spy” to define him and to continue to try to be the guy who makes a difference and protect those he loves.

      • authorguy says:

        Hear, hear, well spoken, Bruce!

      • anthropocene says:

        Dave and Joe, I agree with you on the point about Chuck’s likely level of success without Sarah, assuming everything before the Pilot played out the same way. Either Chou or Channah could have been the power couple of the mall or the Buy More—but hardly of the CIA or (now) the cybersecurity biz. (Assuming Chuck learned to tune out the steady buzz of Ellie’s disappointment.)

        But if no Intersect upload and no Sarah, maybe no Omaha Project either? So Chuck graduates from Stanford on time with honors, makes it big in technology, maybe finds and teams up with his Dad to bring down Ted Roark in the business arena. Maybe somebody wrote a fic about that already?

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, thank you for that. I wish I could have seen that but frankly I didn’t or maybe I should say I couldn’t. It all seemed like I and these characters were being manipulated so they could drag out the inevitable long past what was real and necessary. I just don’t feel they thought that deeply about it quite frankly. The story was driven by the ending. Delay Chuck and Sarah till 3.13. That was what motivated every decision. It was never about real character growth and development like season 1 and 2 were. I simply couldn’t “ignore the man behind the curtain.” It never felt real to me. It all just felt like I was being forced to swallow something that had no real purpose other than to drag things out ad nauseum.

        I did feel in this episode that Lou was a real character and that the writers were trying to tell me something I needed to know about Lou, Chuck and Sarah. I never felt any of that from Hannah. I think most of us would agree that a lot of how we react to this show is the emotional connection we feel with it. If you purely look at it from an academic POV you will see clearly many faults and problems with it on a technical (writing not electronics) viewpoint. There are many plot holes and many cases where things are retconned throwing away much of the show’s mythology. But what makes it so special for us all is how we connected to it emotionally. How we felt about these characters and how much we enjoyed our time with them. In the episode we are discussing I enjoyed all of it and felt that emotional connection grow. With S3 and Hannah I felt manipulated and my emotional connection was being torn apart and thrown away for no good reason than to get us to 3.13. Watching Chuck hurt in season 3 and I simply didn’t watch this show to be hurt. Emotional sadness and pain yes, but being hurt that something and the characters I loved so much were being destroyed for no definable reason other than delaying that reconnection just seems like I was being abused just as much as the characters were.

        I got a lot from Lou. I got hatred from Shaw but I got nothing from Hannah. She was just there to push Sarah to Shaw. Lou had something important and revealing to show us about Chuck and Sarah both, Hannah was there to manipulate Chuck, Sarah and worst of all, us.

      • joe says:

        Well, possibly, Anthro. But I’m inclined to think that any stumbling block in Chuck’s path, large or small, would have derailed him substantially. Chuck may have had any one of those successes that he didn’t have, but at his inevitable first failure – they really are inevitable, aren’t they? – Chuck would have reverted to cheese balls and an unkempt beard.

        Until Sarah. Chuck showed Sarah that she could be happy, even (and especially) in a normal life. Sarah showed Chuck that he was a hero, and setbacks don’t have to change that.

        At the end, even the possibility of losing Sarah didn’t change that.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie it certainly may be that my emotional dislike of S3 is blinding me, but I honestly saw nothing like you described. That is a reasonably sophisticated story, and I’m impressed if they really thought all that through. But my perception, and this starts with Schwartz/Fedak interviews that ran in the aftermath of S2, is that it was really just all about the delaying game. They knew they wanted to derail things for most of S3 long before they knew how they were going to do it. And I guess that perception of mine never changed, it only intensified after Comic Con; and it always felt like a waste of time purely for the sake of wasting time. Even if there’s more to read into it than that, as entertainment it still feels like a waste of time to me.

      • authorguy says:

        I saw what Ernie saw. Just because they only intended to play a delaying game doesn’t mean they can’t accidentally write something with value or use. I’ve often seen unexpected meanings and alternatives in my own work that I know I never intended. And no, this is not to say that they wrote anything good, just that it could have structures they didn’t know they were using.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I agree completely. Now I did not have any preconceptions going into season 3 as I have said many times. I was just extremely excited to get the show I loved back but I never did till 3.13. I was not involved at all with the on-line Chuck community until Zach and Kat released Terrified in May of 2010 when I was asked to bridge the fan communities. So what I saw, or actually didn’t see, was purely based on watching week to week. I was stunned when I did go online that I had come to the exact same conclusions that it seemed many many Chuck fans did. That tells me clearly that in many respects what Ernie is saying simply wasn’t there or was so poorly executed that I and I guess you couldn’t see it. Yet all of what I saw in the earlier season episodes is clearly visible.

        I am thankful for what Ernie has written but it seems to me just spin for a poorly executed arc. That the writers and showrunners could be sitting somewhere saying, “oh yea that’s what we were trying to say all along, thanks Ernie”. When in reality it is exactly how you describe it, delay till 3.13 no matter how poorly you do it just make sure the get together scene is well done and special like we are capable of. Then all will be forgiven. To me it never felt real because it wasn’t. Yet in Truth what we see are real truths on multiple levels and the false truths are just to show us deeper honest one beneath them. The truth lying beneath season 3 is just a pointless trip to the empty LI well so we can be delayed till 3.13. When we get there I am curious about how these discussions will go as I know how difficult it will be for me to discuss the necessary story under the shroud of the god awful unnecessary one.

      • atcDave says:

        I do believe Ernie and Marc are likely correct on the intent, but I also believe that intent was a retrofit. They decided the end (3.13) then filled episodes to get there. I guess that’s not a completely uncommon way of writing, and good results can be achieved by doing that. But when it feels like that’s what’s going on it renders everything in between meaningless, or at least, its easy to take a very cynical view of it. Now I freely admit that “feeling” is a pretty subjective impression, but we know from many viewer comments its not an uncommon feeling either.

        And to be clear, I am not accusing Truth of feeling like that at all. Even if my enthusiasm for the episode remains tepid, I do acknowledge some more clever story and development going on. I will not, I can not tear it apart like I may with S3, I can only say I didn’t enjoy it as much as say, 11 other first season episodes (I think that’s right; I’ll tentatively rank Wookie and Imported Hard Salami below Truth. But that’s it). I actually do still laugh at Truth, and I even enjoy it more now than when it first ran. It only fails by comparison to 11 other S1 Chuck episodes.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, Dave, I know they decided to delay the resolution to the end, that makes sense from the perspective of preserving their formula and going out with a bang in their epic final episode. That’s a reasonable decision. We can disagree on execution. Wanting to explore the characters at a deeper level before resolving the reasons they couldn’t be together was, based on past seasons, a reasonable way to go. They clearly wanted to be together from the beginning of season 2, but saw their situation as standing in the way. With the removal of the intersect, they were out of excuses, and time, and we saw that Sarah still couldn’t make the leap, she was ready to leave, at least initially. Why? They clearly had something in mind, some reason other than her position as Chuck’s handler, or being transferred the next day. She’d been ready to go on the run with him, yet couldn’t bring herself to ask for a vacation or have an honest conversation. By Comicon they already knew there would be trouble in these two getting together. They spent most of season 2 thinking they each needed to become a different person before they could be together. Chuck thought he had to be Bryce and Sarah thought she had to be Lou, and neither thought themselves capable of that leap. Again, in a panic when they each think their chance is slipping away, they make a rash decision that seems to take them on different paths. I don’t buy it as a complete retrofit, there’s too much setup in Ring that points to personal as opposed to professional barriers.

        As for the story I saw, I frankly felt hit over the head with it. Hannah’s speech:

        Hannah: Actually, I, um… I’d like to make a toast. Um, you know how, in life, there’s always something that just doesn’t line up? Like, um, either you’re working at the wrong job or dating the wrong guy, or you’re eating some really bad meal? Uh, but right at this second, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I want to thank all of you for making me feel that way.

        The change in Chuck’s demeanor clearly indicates this hits home. He isn’t where he’s supposed to be, and Hannah is going to be disappointed eventually. He’s being selfish. It actually starts even earlier, his awakening to how much he’s changed:

        Awesome: Stop. Stop. If you keep talking, I’m going to have to lie to your sister, and I can’t do that anymore. I’m not cut out for this, Chuck. I’m not like you.

        Then the talk with Ellie:

        Ellie: Hi.

        Chuck: Hi. Um… you said that I could come to you if I ever needed to talk.

        Ellie: Yeah. I’m so glad. Please, start at the beginning.

        Chuck: I feel like I’m living a lie, Ellie. I used to be able to compartmentalize these things, but it’s, like, it’s all the time now. It never stops. I feel like I’m not me anymore.

        Ellie: I think I know what this is about.

        Chuck: You do?

        Ellie: Maybe things are moving too fast with Hannah, and even though you really like her, it feels dishonest because the truth is that you still have feelings for Sarah. Does that sound about right?

        Chuck: See, this is… this is why I don’t come talk to you, Ellie, because you’re half a spy.

        Ellie: I’m sorry, Chuck, maybe that’s not it.

        Chuck: No. No, no, no. What I mean by that is that you’re an excellent half a spy. Thanks.

        Ellie: Any time.

        If that doesn’t establish Chuck as feeling as if he’s being untrue to himself and unfair to Hannah, the breakup scene should remove all doubt:

        Chuck: Hannah, there are things in my life that you can’t understand, and I can’t explain them to you. I’ve been dishonest, and it’s not fair to you. So I have to end this… because you deserve to be with someone who you can know completely and…

        Hannah: I, um, I thought you were a nice guy.

        Chuck: No, I am a nice guy.

        Hannah: No, you’re not a nice guy. We slept together last night and now you are dumping me.

        Chuck: No, it’s not like that.

        Hannah: Then how is it? Explain it to me! Look, I have dated a lot of liars before, so I usually know how to spot them, but you… you’re, like, the best I’ve ever seen. I hope that your lies keep you warm at night.

        All with “I’m a helluva guy, living a helluva lie” playing in the background.

        Chuck is risking losing himself to the spy world in the same way Sarah once did, and she sees it, but can’t do anything about it. And the thought that she may be responsible is, at this point, to terrible to consider. She wants to be someone else, not Sarah Walker, who Chuck became a spy for. Sarah’s epiphany comes later, but for Chuck, Hannah and her assessment of the state of his character is critical.

        I’m not saying you have to like or accept it, but if that doesn’t make the objective case for the writers having a purpose for Hannah other than a delaying mechanism I don’t know what could

      • joe says:

        Oh boy. Another monster thread!
        Ernie, you put your finger exactly on the critical moments, the lowest points of, perhaps, the entire series. They’re all supremely important, and as painful as they are, they are critical to Chuck the character and Chuck the show. They’re all in Fake Name.

        We were all exasperated at that point, hating what we saw in the previous episode (The Mask) and hoping for a quick turnabout that didn’t come until much later (later than intended, I think, thanks to the Olympics). As much as I respect Dave’s attitude about it (hell, this was less than “no fun”. This was agonizing!) I still can’t do without the fall. It’s the only way I get the uplift.

        Forgive me these words, because it may come across as a slur to the fans who think otherwise, and I don’t intend that. But I think anything else really would have been the easy way out. I’m glad they didn’t take it.

      • atcDave says:

        The problem Joe is I don’t just disagree, I disagree 180 degrees. I not only see no value in reducing the main character to a contemptible toad it infuriates me that they did so. This is the opposite of entertainment, it is a miserable experience I would never choose to sit through again. Seriously I’d rather have another cancer removed than sit through that again. Honestly, if I were head of WB I would have fired Schwartz and Fedak when I saw that script. It makes me so angry that they did that. And my affection for the show never completely recovered. I was happy at the end of S2 in a way I never was again.

        And Ernie I remember well all those scenes you bring up. And I remember well thinking not only that Hannah was right in her fury; but that I felt the same fury and directed it right back at Schwedak. And I felt the decision to delay the pay-off until the end of S3 was a terrible one; now more so than ever since we saw how beautifully Zach and Yvonne were able to play off each other for 2 and 1/3 seasons. I put this exactly in the same category as bringing back a villain from the dead one too many times, or recycling any other plot device too many times. Except its worse because it assassinates the character of the lead characters. Its about not knowing when its time to move the story forward and quit wasting time. And considering, that by all rights, 3.13 should have been the end of the show for good, they were wasting borrowed time. That really makes me angry.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ALCON, great thoughts. now i have a question for Joe. you said, ” I still can’t do without the fall. It’s the only way I get the uplift.” now the question is, how low does a person have to go for you to get the uplift? just look at Chuck, no mom and dad to speak of, tossed out of school for cheating, the girl he wanted to be with screwed him over, lives with his sister and boy friend, his best bud is a toad, had a dead end job, got sucked into the world he did not want to be in and his life was in constant danger. and you needed to see him fall further? i don’t get it, sorry. if ya ask me he deserved happiness from the start after all that crap. all the other stuff they put him through was like pouring gas on a burning man.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well Dave I’m right there with ya. Ernie, I understand what you are saying and I see those moments but here is my problem. To quote one Sarah Walker, “But I don’t feel it.” None of what you are saying or elements you are pointing to stand up for me as real because I simply didn’t feel anything but anger, disappointment and disgust at the entire arc and absolute fury at that episode in particular. All of it felt phoney, and the show was no longer the show I loved in the least. It was so bad I seriously thought about leaving like so many others actually did. I hated it then and I will always hate it. But it’s not just that I didn’t like the story they were telling, though I certainly didn’t, it was that huge feeling of being manipulated like I spoke of before. They were taking away everything I loved about the show and giving me nothing of interest in return. I hated them for that.

        I felt no empathy for Hannah when Chuck was such a bastard to her because I felt nothing for her. She was a meaningless distraction for me and I just wanted her gone. None of those lessons you spoke of were anything different than what he had been learning all along. The spy life can destroy your personal life and every relationship he had since Bryce sent him that email had been based in large part on lies. None of what you speak of was new. It was just repetition of what we and Chuck already knew. In this and the next episode Lou taught him that. Maybe his circumstances were different but being a spy whether voluntary or involuntary meant his social life would never be fully his own nor never fully honest. Hannah taught him nothing new. The only difference was that Casey gave him the lie as a way to save face with Lou and at this point with Hannah he had to face the truth without that way out. The bitter truth was his only course. He was just being a selfish asshole. But there was no great epiphany, just disgust at himself. And disgust from me the viewer for being subjected to it.

        And Joe, to your point about needing the bottom to get the uplift, I go back to our earlier discussion about Other Guy. To me they didn’t earn the uplift because too many issues this god awful storyline brought up were simply discarded and ignored because we were at 3.13. No Chuck being a bastard to Hannah, no real resolution of the way he treated Sarah in Prague. No apology for waving the fact that he screwed Hannah in Sarah’s face. No resolution to the name reveal, no resolution to Sarah’s manipulation at the hands of Shaw with the red test, no resolution to Sarah not trusting Chuck for the first time ever at the beginning of Hero. No explanation of her walking arm in arm with Shaw in Paris after she told Chuck she loved him. It was simply 3.13 is here and Chuck and Sarah get to consummate their relationship finally. So the uplift you think requires the depths they sank to still never resolves much of the agony we were subjected to to get there.

        Back on the point of this thread, we get all of that in this mini arc with Lou. We get drama, angst and justified resolution to many of the key character elements revealed. It all plays well because I as a viewer felt it. To me what I saw was honest and real. It revealed much and the resolution was clearly worth what we went through to get to the kiss at the docks.

      • joe says:

        @Army

        i have a question for Joe. you said, ” I still can’t do without the fall. It’s the only way I get the uplift.” now the question is, how low does a person have to go for you to get the uplift?

        That’s an easy one, Army. And I think you know the answer too.

        A character (not a person, please), only has to be in a place where I care about him/her.

        When I was a kid, I cared about Superman (um… George Reeves?) every time Lex Luthor or Brainiac or a chunk of red/green kryptonite appeared. Batman? Every time the Joker was around. Spiderman?

        Now that’s a different story, because Spiderman was never for 7 year old boys. He was for conflicted teenagers. I could care for that character only when Mary Jane and he were on the outs. – Oh, and when she died (which will come as a shock to the kids who don’t know that she died and was replaced by MJ’s clone… 😉 ).

        The point is the same. It’s not how low they go. It’s if they can make me care at all. With Chuck and Sarah, I cared.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Joe, thanks. i see the difference. i don’t care a lick about characters on TV, same as a car. it’s a construct, its not real. they won’t talk to me, interact with me so i can’t feel for them. when the show ends the characters go with it. i see a show ( like castle, bones, chuck and jag) and say they are dragging this crap out and it takes away from the other parts of the show i do want to see.

      • It’s funny, as much as I agree with Ernie, I have to admit I’ve never actually seen the scene he’s talking about. It’s so obvious what’s going to happen as she’s with her parents, that I’ve always just skipped right past it. It really is one of the unbearable moments of the show. I actually stopped watching it from the beginning of Season 3, until I read a summary of Other Guy. The reboot of their relationship wasn’t something I could bare until the end was in sight. So trust me, I understand the criticisms.

        But I think people take for granted all the great things that happened around the love square. For example, outside of the 10 minutes of Hannah (and even the Ellie scene was pretty good), Fake Name is brilliant. The old-school mobsters are completely absurd, and Chuck’s torturing of Casey was a great look of him starting to go over the edge- which brings me to another point.

        I really enjoyed the moral dilemma of Chuck trying to find his place as a hero in Season 3. It gave us a chance to see what that process is like, and how it can trap you. His growth as a spy (contrasted with Devon) was synchronized really well with his devolving as a moral person. As much as I hated the premise, Hannah (and red test) was necessary, more than anything, to show us and Chuck that he was breaking his own morals.

        Before season 3, Chuck had been Sarah’s moral compass, but after Hannah and the Red Test, we and Chuck realize that it’s not a one-way relationship – just like Sarah needed Chuck to pull her out of the typical spy mentality, now he needs her in his new world. This is when Chuck realizes that he doesn’t just love Sarah, he needs her, in a very real and practical sense. We always knew Sarah was his spy mentor, but the circular nature of their moral strength is something that season 3 introduces, and the show is better for the deepening of that relationship.

      • atcDave says:

        We saw all the same scenes Arthur, but I don’t see anything there that can ever make them worth watching again. There were plenty of scenes and characters in S3 that could have been entertaining, but to me the greater context of what was going on in the world at the time robs them of any value.
        And I did not see what you are talking about, I would have liked to, but apart from Chuck suddenly realizing he wants Sarah, I think S3 failed to show us any way in which he needed her. Just like Jill, she abandoned him when he needed her. And she didn’t return to him until she was convinced he hadn’t changed, no thanks to her.
        I think S2 and S4 (and even S3.5) do a vastly better job of showing us how Chuck and Sarah are better together. I would feel much better about S3 if I ever saw what you were describing.

  2. resaw says:

    You know, Dave, the confession of faith my church proclaims includes the observation that we are sexual beings and that sexual intimacy finds its proper place within a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. These days, that kind of statement feels more countercultural than ever. Of course, I’m a Mennonite so I also hold to the conviction that believers do not participate in the military, do not kill others, do not do violence to others, no matter how justified by the circumstances. That said, the Bible is full of flawed characters who commit adultery, murder, and lead armies into war (King David, for one). Maybe Chuck is a crazy, sci-fi-ish fantasy, but it is also a reflection of popular culture. It also shows our beloved characters doing stupid things, but we wouldn’t have the word stupid in our vocabulary if it wasn’t employed so often in real life, too! I once read a novel by the Catholic priest Andrew Greeley, and that novel was filled with characters who were most definitely not “good Catholics.” In an interview, Greeley, a PhD in Sociology, was asked about that, and he indicated that he wrote about people and society as they are, not necessarily as they are called to be. Yet he manages to weave in a story of hope and redemption that shines through the darkness in people’s lives.

    Chuck is hardly at that level of sophistication, but it is great entertainment and we just finished talking about a show in which redemption (or rehabilitation) was one of the major discussion points. I am by no means telling you how to interpret and feel what you’ve seen in this episode, but for me, at least, I try to take this story as is, recognizing that the Chuckverse is not going to reflect my view of the world all the time, but will, in its own way find touchstones that I can relate to.

    In short, I liked this show and how it further unfolded the dilemma that Chuck (and increasingly) Sarah(!) are facing. Lou is an interesting contrast to Sarah. Simple, uncomplicated, short and brunette vs. tall and blonde and ever so complicated, she is everything that Sarah is not. Interesting that Chuck’s introduction to both women is via a broken phone. Nothing deliberate there, eh?

    So, here we have the situation where Chuck is overwhelmed with the attractiveness presented by Sarah, down to noticing the details of the clothes she wears, and is back at the Buy More, still stunned by the “cover” kiss Sarah planted on him to cover up their true purpose in the Wienerlicious closet. Then, while he is contemplating that delightful encounter, no doubt hoping it can become “real” someday, Lou walks in, a woman who has the genuine potential to be his real girlfriend, and not just a cover girlfriend. In Morgan’s view, Chuck is a mind-cheater, but in Chuck’s view, he is diverting the sexual tension he feels with Sarah to someone from his normal world, someone who could possibly be a real date, a real mate, even. Those few minutes do a great job of pointing out once again the dilemma he is faced with in the conflict between Sarah/Intersect/spy world and Lou/Buymore/civilian world.

    I will ask this question with Dave: Why the pressure from Devon for Chuck and Sarah to have sex? But there was this great over-the-shoulder look from Sarah in the kitchen while Devon gives his pep-talk to Chuck.

    Another great scene in the Buy More after Lou presents the Chuck sandwich to Chuck and Sarah shows up. Chuck: “Sarah…is…mm…what’s the best way to describe…Sarah is my…. (Sarah) girlfriend.” I noticed that Sarah comes up to the two of them with a big smile, like a self-confident girlfriend would, and then when she hears the dismissive line from Lou upon realizing that Chuck is in a relationship, Sarah’s smile drops. I think we have a first hint of true attachment to Chuck from Sarah; then her professional mask returns and they begin to deal with the mission.

    In the cover sleeping together scene, I asked myself, why did Sarah wear what she wore? Was it for “cover” purposes or was it to keep Chuck under her sphere of influence through her sexuality, as a good female spy might (in the Chuckverse), or was it to win back this man to whom she is attracted (without admitting it to herself), who she sees is attracted to Lou? Frankly, Chuck’s grooving to the music as Sarah walked in seemed a lot more innocent than Sarah’s outfit!

    And then we come to this important dialogue:
    Chuck: “We’re starting to sound like them, aren’t we?”
    Sarah: “A little. Are you okay? Is there anything you want to talk about?”
    Chuck: “What exactly are the rules with our thing?”
    Sarah: “What do you mean?”
    Chuck: “What do I mean? Hypothetically speaking, are we allowed to see other people?”
    Sarah: Well, our cover is boyfriend-girlfriend so tactically that would be challenging plus any prospective date would have to endure a rigorous vetting process to determine her motivation.” (Interesting that she looks away from Chuck while she says that.)
    Chuck: “Wouldn’t her motivation be love?”
    Sarah: “Ideally, but you’re a very important piece of intelligence and you have to be handled with extreme care.”
    Chuck: “Well that sounds very nice.”
    Sarah: “Chuck, I don’t have to be a spy to piece together the clues here. You’re interested in that Lou girl, aren’t you?”
    Chuck: “Well, I….”
    (Casey hears interference and conversation from Awesome.)
    Chuck: “You know what, I think I’m just going to sleep on the floor.”
    Sarah: “Chuck, we can’t compromise our cover!”
    Chuck: “Well, you know what, I feel compromised already.”

    I think Sarah was speaking the official line but feeling something altogether different. Joe, I think your observation of why Sarah was angry is spot on, and thank you for stating it the way you did. That makes perfect sense to me.

    I loved the pentathol-influenced observations of Chuck while waiting for the elevator. In particular, Sarah’s loopy smile following Chuck’s comment that she is “so pretty” is just a nice little detail.

    The other great Chuck-Sarah scene, though is the break-up in the Wienerlicious. By this time, TPTB must have realized what a fantastic actor they have in Yvonne. They focus on her face while Chuck says to her, “We need to break up.” Sarah is absorbing it all. The expression on her face, the disappointment (I think) followed by understanding and compassion, is just done so well. All kinds of emotions play on Sarah’s face, but at the end of it, she keeps a straight face. As Chuck leaves, I don’t know what to make of her face, but then, there’s the call from Casey.
    Casey: “I meant to ask you. When you were affected, did you say anything to compromise yourself?”
    Sarah: “Uh, no. If I hadn’t been trained to withstand pentathol, I might have.”
    We clearly have an indication that she does have affection for Chuck. That’s the biggest truth in this show, but unfortunately, Chuck doesn’t know it, yet. Why would Casey have asked her that in the first place? I think it is because he heard things that concerned him when he was listening in on their conversation in their cover “sleep-over.”

    The final scene: Sarah’s broken heart visible in her eyes as she watches Chuck sit with Lou. Once again, she has put her professional commitments ahead of her normal human desire for a relationship. A great story! (Excuse the scroll.)

    • thinkling says:

      And a fantastic scroll it was, Resaw. I especially relate to your eloquent first two paragraphs about faith and culture, the high standard for humanity v. human weakness. Good reminder.

      With these great reviews and comments, and the benefit of knowing where the story ultimately goes, I am seeing this episode in a better, more intriguing light than I did the first time around.

    • atcDave says:

      I actually agree with almost all of that Resaw. And I absolutely love a good redemption story, that is something we have brought up here many times. But I think the main place we differ, is I just do not enjoy watching the down and out phase of a redemption story. Watching someone make terrible mistakes is never to my liking. I will tolerate it better when the mistakes or brokenness are compressed more into a single story, but here we have mostly the downbeat. And even at that, I was mostly okay with the actual meat of the story in the last 20 minutes, it’s the sort of wallowing descent at the start that I just don’t enjoy sitting through. And yeah, Chuck, Sarah, AND Devon’s views on sex are a huge part of the problem for me.

      As a long time Chicago resident I am well familiar with Andrew Greeley and the controversy surrounding his work. Suffice to say, I don’t believe I would enjoy his style of writing either. I don’t go for the wallowing in the mud part of the story, I get excited about the a actual redemption. Although a story like Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (true story, not fiction) works for me. So perhaps what I have least patience with is romantic malfunction. In the end, I find it boring. And Chuck in particular always works best for me when Chuck and Sarah are working as a good team. Some of their arguments have been entertaining but only when they are resolved in short order. I never get any enjoyment out of watching Chuck and Sarah hurt each other. Perhaps that’s partly a consequence of liking both characters so much from the start, but it will be true for me to the very end of the show.

      • But how can you have redemption without the wallowing in the mud part?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think Dave’s issue is more how long the wallowing lasts and how much he needs to see. Obviously tastes vary. A lot of people love the angst and it gives Yvonne and Zach a chance to play some of their best scenes, but for some it hits too close to home and is less than entertaining. I’m usually OK with it unless it starts to feel contrived, angst for the sake of angst rather than to show us something about our heroes and set their path forward.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s exactly right Ernie. I’m always happy to see a redeemed or salvaged life. But I never want to dwell on the ugly details. Especially not when the redemption is in a seperate episode, it leaves the downfall part unwatchable to me.

    • Resaw hints at a great point. I always think of this episode as being the moment when she realizes she has real feelings for Chuck – when she has to admit she lied explicitly. The kiss was more obvious, but I think this is the real turning point in that relationship.

      It’s true for Casey as well, and his “you’re a good person, and I respect that” comment.

      The Truth is a fast-forward to later in the show, when their moments of honesty are earned through their trials with each other. Casey and Sarah live in worlds of lies, and it’s a long time before they trust each other enough to let their guard down of their own power. What I love about the Truth is that it sows the seeds for that development, and it gives us a reason to look forward to the future.

      • atcDave says:

        I do love the pentathol scenes for exactly that reason Arthur. They are not only funny, but really deeply telling about all three main characters.

      • joe says:

        Isn’t that something, Arthur? Just when Sarah is telling Chuck that they have no future, the show gives us a reason to look forward to the future. Technically, that was an amazing balancing act accomplished by the writers and the actors in front of the camera.

        I think it’s true that this is a turning point, like you said. But for me, it begins slowly, at the very end of the previous episode with Sarah near tears in Chuck’s apartment at the revelation that Bryce was trying to save Chuck all along. Like usual, each episode seems to begin at the conclusion of the previous episode.

    • joe says:

      Great comments, Resaw.

      Joe, I think your observation of why Sarah was angry is spot on, and thank you for stating it the way you did. That makes perfect sense to me.

      Thanks. I had to work hard on that one. Rewrote it a number of times, and boy, was I worried that I wasn’t getting my point across!

    • Bill says:

      Thank you, resaw. That was a wonderful post. Wow.

      Truth has always been in my top 5 episodes of the series. I liked Lou better than any of Chuck’s other PLIs, loved (almost all of) the dialogue Ali Adler wrote, and loved Yvonne’s performance here. The bedroom scene, in particular, was both funny (Chuck’s dancing to Al Green and then his angry turn toward the nightstand) and poignant (two people in love and one very much in lust who want to get together, but can’t for reasons that one can’t control and the other can’t fully understand). Love it love it love it.

      One comment about the dialogue: Sarah’s lines about Chuck’s “existential spy crisis” and the need to vet possible girlfriends “to determine their motivation” always sounded more like the writer (Adler) than the character (Sarah) to me.

      Lastly, @ Dave. If average means outstanding, does awesome mean mediocre? 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Hah! no, average means average for Chuck, which is still better than anything else. Awesome means the best of Chuck! Which sorry, can’t agree about Truth.

  3. Indisputably my favorite episode of the season . Even more than the Pilot, this is a real showcase of the cast’s talent – and one of the only chances that Sarah Lancaster gets to do humor over the first four seasons. Ellie, in a lot of ways, is wasted talent a lot of times, but her scene here is brilliant, and it proves she could have been a much bigger part of the show.

    But it’s not just Lancaster. This is the episode where they really start figuring out how to use Adam Baldwin. The first few episodes, they’re kind of struggling to make him any more than a generic tough guy. In the Truth, we get to see a little of his soft side for the first time (look how touched he is by Sarah calling him her partner). Plus, he has his usual great lines (“appears rigor mortis has set in”). We see him showing some of the respect he’s gained for both members of the team. The truth serum has its best effect on Casey, who threatens to kill Chuck one moment, and then tells Chuck that he respects him and admits he wouldn’t actually shoot Chuck the moment he’s on truth serum.

    And Zach Levi is just great with any female he works with. Sarah, Lou, Jill, Hannah… Chuck just has a natural chemistry with all of them, in spite of how hard it can be to stomach the relationship wheel sometimes. I really feel like Levi could be a cool star in a non-traditional romcom. In this episode, it’s so easy to see Chuck as a charismatic, if nerdy, guy, and one who’s worthy of a girl of Sarah or Lou’s caliber. And given the context, its really easy to see why he’d be so desparate for the first “real” woman he has any chemistry with. Especially when that woman happen’s to be gorgeous. Chuck might not get many girls, but his taste in women is enviable.

    Chuck wears a lot of hats in this episode: he flirts with Lou, he plays the friend and the crush with Sarah, the worried brother, his sister’s rescuer, a guy about to die, and finishes it all off by finding the villain and showing off his growing spy skills. And Levi handles it all effortlessly. We talk about Strahovski’s talent a lot, but Levi’s handling of Chuck in this episode is star stuff.

    Although I think Dave’s standards for women are a bit unreasonable, I completely agree that this is the funniest episode of the season. Ellie’s scene is one of my favorites in the show, and it’s a launch pad for the rest of the episode.

    Words taste like peaches.

    • atcDave says:

      Unreasonable? I’m a very happily married man.

      I’m glad you liked the episode Arthur. Obviously I agree it was funny, and Casey was very funny.
      But I thought Casey was funny from the start, I saw nothing new in this episode. Except being impressed with Yvonne’s performance, but I guess that doesn’t qualify as new either.

      • Perhaps unreasonable is the wrong word, I didn’t mean it as an insult. You just seem to have a very specific set of morals that you judge the characters by when it comes to relationships. Maybe we all do.

        I thought Casey presented us with a new appreciation of his partners in this episode. It’s part of one of the better transitions this show makes – Casey starts off with the impression of Chuck as a total loser, and by the end, Chuck is Casey’s boss, and Casey follows him almost unquestioningly. That process is really well-paced – highlighted by Casey telling Chuck he’s “the second best spy I’ve ever worked with” and that “our boy became a man.” I feel like that transition begins in this episode with “You’re a good person, and I respect that.”

        His relationship with Sarah also improves noticeably with this episode. They start out at each others’ throats, and here we finally see how they’ve grown to respect each other. They’re relationship is always understated, but I feel like this scene ties right into Sensei and American Hero.

        Alma Matter might have been more important from a mythology perspective, but Truth is as important as anything in terms of character growth.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess in terms of women and Chuck; I liked Chuck and Sarah right from the Pilot, so yeah, I kind of think any woman other than Sarah will always look inferior to me. As we said further upthread, I can imagine a Chuck who never met Sarah finding happiness with another person. But once Sarah is in the picture, I will typically see anything else as a waste of time. But nonetheless, I thought Lou and Jill both came with interesting and legitimate stories, I just didn’t like either character which made my usual anti-triangle bias that much more pronounced. As I said, I think Hannah was a basically likable character, but I was WAY out of patience with the device by that point.

        I do agree there was good growth for the relationships among the primary characters in this episode. But I see it as more evolutionary than revolutionary. That is, we see them continuing to grow closer together. Truth provides some particularly nice moments while under the influence. But other episodes are at least as important in that regard, both before and after. And a nice Casey growth moment will have little impact on how I view an episode as a whole; Casey is a fun character, but clearly not who I’m watching the show for.

      • Ooooh. There, I could not disagree with you more. I don’t see this as the Chuck and Sarah show. To me, Casey is easily an equal member of the team. And the rest of the cast isn’t far behind, especially Morgan. Casey’s relationships with the cast is just as important as Chuck and Sarah, and has far fewer negative moments.

      • atcDave says:

        I think it has fewer comments because most viewers are not nearly as invested in Casey, or Morgan. I think most viewers would say Chuck is clearly the most important character, and Sarah is clearly number two. Some may then argue between Casey, Morgan, maybe even Ellie as to who is next most important; but they are all supporting cast after Chuck and Sarah. And I don’t think the absence of negative comments is ever a good measure of affection; you know the old saying, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. I think there is a huge (HUGE!) drop off in importance after Chuck and Sarah.

      • jam says:

        Even Schwedak, as clueless as they often were, admitted the heart of the show was Chuck & Sarah.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jam, And Fedak clearly described S5 in particular as Chuck and Sarah’s story.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Dave. You know certainly that Sarah is by far #1 for me. I would have enjoyed the show for Chuck certainly but ut was always Sarah that took my love of the show to a different level, one I had never experienced with a TV show before. Chuck is second and the most important dynamic will always be Chuck and Sarah.

        Casey for me is third and I can say I really don’t think there was ever a Casey specific episode I didn’t enjoy, except hating the last 30 seconds of Tic Tac lol. Ellie has always been fourth for me and I think even Schwedak would agree she was the most under utilized character on the series. Then season 4 Morgan. Other earlier seasons I’d put him below Devon, Beckman and even sometimes Big Mike. The others remained constant but my perception of Morgan changed significantly over the years.

        But I absolutely agree that Casey, though part of the big three certainly was always a teir or two down from Sarah and Chuck.

      • I said moments, not comments. And I don’t know about Ellie as 4, specifically because she was so underutilized. Her role in the first half season 4 was the worst aspect of the season. Mega Casey-is-underappreciated post when I have time.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I think we all really love Casey. He was an awesome secondary character. That’s all this is about. Casey was fun and added a lot to the entertainment value of the show. But he was not the hook for many viewers. I am positive the vast majority of viewers were watching for Chuck, Sarah and/or Charah. Like Uplink said, I liked the Casey centered episodes (well, except Sensei). But there is little emotional resonance there. And Fedak himself described the show as Chuck and Sarah’s story.

        Now I do agree Ellie’s story at the start of S4 was kind of dumb. Really, that was the only part of S4 I was unenthusiastic about. It kind of made Chuck and Ellie both look stupid. It’s especially too bad since I don’t believe they gained anything, story wise, from having her in the dark like they did. But again, Ellie complaints are pretty far down my list, and I was so pleased with nearly every other aspect of S4, it doesn’t really merit a rant from me.

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    This is one of my favorite season 1 episodes. It ranks just a little below Chuck Versus The Tango, about on par with Chuck Versus The Imported Hard Salami, and perhaps a shade above Chuck Versus The Marlin. It is one of the funniest episodes of this season, with the truth serum McGuffin providing a lot of the comic potential, first with Ellie, then with our team unable to keep from speaking their mind. But I like it for another reason, and that is that this is our first look at some of the truths this series will explore about our favorite heroes. While Chuck is predominantly a comedy it was the depth and conflict within the characters that really drew me in. I can live with the plot holes and the cliches and the sparse mythology that occasionally seems confused because the conflict and the trials our heroes face is so well written and portrayed. It’s the investment in their journey that keeps me coming back, and to me, with as Dave says, the real start of the multi-episode arcs, is where I see the real story starting.

    Starting with Chuck, we finally see the inertia that has limited him for years start to lift. A near-death experience will do that for you. Not that this is his first near-death experience, he’s had one in just about every episode except perhaps Chuck Versus The Wookiee. No come to think of it he had one on the beach in Chuck Versus The Wookiee too. But this is the first time we see him contemplate death as opposed to face it in an adrenaline filled near-miss, and it changes him. From this point on Chuck is pushing against the limitations he let himself settle into, now made real limitations by his situation and official government policy. Chuck has had it in him to change and to move on, but he hasn’t believed in himself enough to feel he deserves better than his current lot. It’s the confidence that Sarah and his new job give him combined with the very real prospect that life is shorter than you think that make him face the limitations imposed on him and decide he’ll take charge of his life in whatever way he can. He won’t be trapped in somebody else’s lies and will live his life on his terms, in whatever small ways are available to him. This leads us to the truth about Sarah, or a truth at least.

    Sarah likes to present herself as the cool calm professional, always in control. Sarah, as we’ll come to find, is rarely in control as she seems to like to tell herself. Sarah is never more fun, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking as when she sees that control slipping. It leads to some questionable decisions on occasion, some overcompensation in others, and really hits home when she thinks she’ll lose Chuck. Chuck gives her a sense of control, he lets her take the lead in their burgeoning relationship, and makes her feel safe as she visits “normal”. She finds she quite likes “normal”. We see her taking great pleasure that Chuck remembers what she wears, slipping into the things a normal girlfriend would enjoy in a new relationship. But we also see trouble brewing. Sarah, the ever-observant spy, has a model for “real couple”. Devon and Ellie. And she and Devon both see she and Chuck aren’t measuring up. Even worse Chuck seems to be losing interest. She has to initiate the PDA that comes so naturally to Devon and Ellie, and worse, Chuck is attracting attention from other women, and he seems to be enjoying it! It is doubtful that Sarah has faced the truth about her situation before. She didn’t have to. It is only when that sense of control starts to slip that Sarah manages to act. This is where she realizes she’s losing control. The acting out and it’s amusing, and heartwarming and heartbreaking consequences mostly come later, but they were perfectly set up in one final scene as Sarah’s world comes crashing down and she faces the truth of how four words, “we have to break up” make her feel. Those clearly weren’t the words she was expecting, and Sarah’s life just got a lot more complicated.

    I’m a lot bigger fan of the multi-episode arcs than Dave, and I suppose I’m more tolerant of the rather crass state of a lot of aspects of our culture and sense of humor, so I’m not surprised this one ranks lower for him. But it is an interesting aspect of the way broadcast television is made that shows tend to create themselves as they go along, some starting strong right out of the gate, others needing time to find and tweak that formula. To me, this is where the unique Chuck formula was found, to be tweaked to near perfection in season 2, even though I consider Chuck one of the best out-of-the-gate shows I’ve ever seen.

    • atcDave says:

      One thing we completely agree on Ernie, Sarah’s story in this episode is dynamite. That is a big part of why I don’t actually dislike this episode. For all my complaints with Chuck’s story (and a lot of those are just hazards of having identified with him strongly at the start, it will quickly frustrate me when he behaves in ways I don’t want to see); Sarah’s story is fascinating, beautiful and tragic. Not to mention a wonderful performance.

    • joe says:

      Brilliant analysis, Ernie. And you helped me solidify an idea that’s been rattlin’ around my head all morning.

      It’s this. As often as we’ve mentioned that the ending we saw changed (or, at least, colored) out perception of these early episodes, this one has changed the way I see vs. The Goodbye.

      This episode is so early in the series. Yet now, Sarah’s growing love for Chuck already stands out. I said I didn’t recognize it at the time, but there’s nothing ambiguous about it now.

      When Sarah loses her memory of the previous five years, how far can she be from re-discovering that love? If this episode is any indication, not far. Truth just left me even more optimistic about the ending, and more comfortable with the intent.

    • Wow, Ernie. I think you nailed this episode down perfectly. I assume season 2 is your favorite?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Favorite is tough to say. I think I said in another thread that I consider season 2 the best, season 3 the most important, season 4 the most enjoyable (in terms of pure payoff) and season 5 perhaps a close second in terms of quality. Season 2 was clearly when they hit their stride with the formula they developed starting with this episode (or the last). It’s hard to pick a favorite simply because Chuck was a very different show in seasons 4 and 5 than in season 2. Luckily they found a way to re-invent themselves in season 3/4 in a way that while true to the original formula was a very different world and show that the one we know from season 2, so it’s tough for me to compare.

    • Bill says:

      Holy cow! Fantastic post. Extremely insightful. Thanks.

      I particularly like your analysis of Chuck’s and Sarah’s development as characters to this point and from this point forward. I also agree that, to me, this episode marks the beginning of the formula that characterized the show through Season 2 (which is my favorite season of the series).

  5. uplink2 says:

    Great read guys.Interesting that this is one of those less than frequent moments when I don’t agree with much of what Dave said. I loved Lou. I was a big fan of The OC and loved Rachel Bilson in it. Plus I have to admit, Lou is my kind of girl. She’s loud, rather foul mouthed, brutally honest and just a bit of a firecracker. The parts with Devon and the sexual nature never bothered me at all. He is who he is, a fun good looking guy who would have women crawling into bed with him if it weren’t for Ellie. His love of his own body in the way he treats it as a sort of temple are part and parcel of his love of the sexual nature of life. Sex to him is the best form of exercise with much greater rewards. It’s as natural to him as his diet and his workouts. Plus he certainly sees how hot Sarah is and to be crass wants Chuck to be gettin some. He sees that as only natural and a true statement of Chuck climbing out of the hole he had been in for far too long.

    I’d say this is my third favorite of season 1 behind the Pilot and Wookie. Part of that is as mentioned above it is another example of how great Yvonne is as an actress. She shines throughout the episode but her best moments are certainly the breakup scene. Seeing her look at Chuck laughing with Lou through the window at the end is heartbreaking. She shows us very briefly what is really going on inside her and then the mask falls back into place. Brilliant stuff.

    I don’t agree at all with the posters above that Hannah was a better character than Lou. Hannah was a pointless MarySue. We saw nothing real about her like we did Lou. Hannah’s story of being laid off, meeting Chuck on a plane to Paris and chasing him down and accepting an $11 an hour job at the Buy More to be near him is so contrived and ridiculous. Plus it screamed of stunt casting. Lou however was different. Lou was a real girl with flaws, lovable quirks and an honest fascination with Chuck. Lou, like Bryce in the previous episode discussion, was a real threat to the Chuck Sarah relationship. Hannah like Shaw, was irrelevant and just Lou 2.0 with a much less believable story. What we saw from Sarah when she saw Lou was hurt and real honest emotional turmoil. What we saw from Sarah when she saw Hannah was more contrived jealousy and pointless surrender. Sarah’s reaction to Lou grew her character, her reaction to Hannah diminished it.

    There are so many great moments in this episode that were illuminated above but it took me a few viewings to realize that when Chuck asked her about the “under the cover thing” she really didn’t lie. Sure she was hiding her feelings but Chuck asked her if they had a future and in her world and her mind no matter what her feelings were, they didn’t. So her answer is actually the truth and one of the many moments where the real truth underneath the ‘cover’ truth was so much more powerful.

    I’d have to say that this is probably Ali Adler’s best episode as a writer. Now I did like Wookie more but from a pure storytelling perspective, I think this was her best work on the show. Unfortunately she was to really bottom out 2 season later.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, I would actually say Ali Adler only found her stride in S2. And it was a passing thing, I tend to dislike her S1 and S3 work.

  6. This.
    “But for Sarah the cover relationship isn’t a real cover either. It’s a pretend-cover to hide her true feelings, not a real cover to protect the asset. That is the truth.”
    This is gold, Joe. I think you nailed it.

    • joe says:

      Thank you so much, Angus.

      I’ve said so a hundred times, but I’m still amazed to find something new every time I re-watch an episode. If any of you haven’t found the opportunity to follow along with your DVDs and BlueRays, I really recommend that you make the time.

      It’s a whole new experience.

      • authorguy says:

        I’m going to watch these again after these threads, you guys always come up with more for me to think about.

      • joe says:

        After we’re done with all 91 episodes, Author???

        That’s a long way away! 😉

      • Well, we’re kind of ahead of you here in our household. We started over again here when I got back from work a few of weeks ago. We just finished season two…all in the name of research, you know. 🙂 Not looking forward too much to the next few episodes, but surprisingly even those episodes grow on me more every time I give them a critical eye.

      • joe says:

        Study hard, Angus. There will be a quiz! 😉

      • authorguy says:

        I watched all the way up the end of S3 and stopped. I have the S5 DVDs and haven’t watched them yet. Joe, I meant watch each episode after the related thread, not the series after all the threads! (But I think you knew that already.) I do that with movies too, see it, read the book, see it again.

      • Indeed, Joe. I wasn’t a part of any of the online communities when Chuck was on-air. It’s nice to have the chance now, especially now that we have the whole picture. I think I enjoy it more now; knowing how well everything ends takes the stress off the whole wt/wt thing.

  7. joe says:

    Hey! I just thought of another “first” for the episode!

    This is the first time we see Sarah Walker in a black wig. 😉

    • Ooh, there were a lot. First time we see Chuck, Casey, or Ellie inebriated. First kneecap, first time Chuck dumps Sarah. First time in the hospital.

      • joe says:

        I like the list, Arthur! Definitely the first time Sarah is in a hospital bed, with the second being in The Break Up, after she saves Chuck from the bomb thrown under the car. Oh yeah, this is clearly the first time Chuck dumps Sarah, even though he calls it a “fake break-up of their fake relationship.”

        But I think this is the only kneecapping, right?

        Is inebriated the right word? How about, under the influence? Ellie sure seems incapacitated, in any event. Casey gets really drunk in Undercover Lover. I’m not sure we ever see Sarah drunk – am I forgetting?

        I know we see the after-effects of her night with the CAT Squad and dancing with Mikhail Gorbachev, and we see her act tipsy (in Honeymooners), but I don’t recall her actually drunk, like Chuck was in Nachos and in The Other Guy.

      • Under the influence would be better, I suppose. Ellie also gets drunk after her washing machine fight with Devin, I think. Sarah fakes drunk, but I don’t think it every really happens. Chuck seems to be under some kind of influence quite often, now that I think about it. It happens three times in Season 3, off the top of my head.

      • joe says:

        Oh, yeah – that’s when Ellie corners Sarah to talk about having only three feet in (or something like that!) Then Morgan gets involved. Very funny bit – I had forgotten about that one.

  8. Gord says:

    Well Dave, I wont disappoint your expectations. I loved this episode – actually the whole arc, which for me runs from Alma Matter to Crown Vic.
    However, I found your perspective on this episode interesting. I’m also not usually a fan of love traingles, but for some reason in this story arc it made sense.

    I thought the Jill story line made sense too although I thought it was a little out of place. Maybe if it had been between break up and cougars it would have fit a little better, because to me Cougars and Tom Sawyer showed the Sarah / Chuck relationship starting to strengthen again.

    Here’s a thought – what if instead of Lou we had a return of Jill in S1 and no PLI in S2?

    In many ways I thought of a Jill return fitting S1 better than S2. Maybe if there had been no writers strike we would have seen that.

    • atcDave says:

      Well for starters, I do think there were issues that this love triangle brings out, that were worth addressing (Chuck’s dual life and the need to lie to any outsider). So I can grudgingly accept some value to this story. But of course “grudgingly accept” is not a great starting point for really loving an episode. And at least in my case I never made it much past that. As I said, my dislike of Lou likely had something to do with it too.

      You bring up a very interesting point about Jill. I do absolutely agree that I am more accepting of the Bryce and Jill stories than I am of any other triangles. I see both characters as having legitimate histories with Chuck and Sarah, and I find what they bring to the show to be mostly worthwhile.
      So what if Jill had returned in S1 and there was no Lou? Wow. I certainly wouldn’t have begrudged Chuck wanting something “real” when it looked like Sarah was going nowhere. But then I don’t actually like Jill any better than I liked Lou. But of course a big thing is just if they could have reduced the number of triangles. Among my issues was I always found it ridiculous that Chuck, who hadn’t “had a second date in years” ends up in three different relationships in the period he knows Sarah. And to me, three triangles is 2.9 too many anyway. In the end, I enjoyed the Jill story more than Lou’s. So perhaps that would have worked out better for me.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Don’t forget Dave, at Chuck’s birthday party in the pilot he promised Ellie to get over Jill tomorrow, then met Sarah and did. It was only when things with Sarah seemed to stall that he was open to Lou and Jill’s advances (and yes, both pursued him, not vise versa). Also by the time Jill came around in season 2 I thought the far more confident Chuck than the season 1 Chuck was more apt to believe things could be different this time, especially after she learned he was a spy, not just a nerd. Season 1 would have been to close to wallowing. By season 2 he’d had a fling with Lou, a few kisses and a second first date with Sarah, and a lot more confidence in himself.

      Gord, good to see you stopping back around.

      • atcDave says:

        But then a less confident Chuck would have convincingly fallen under Jill’s spell pretty quickly again too.
        I do see some story value in both the Lou and Jill arcs. As always, that doesn’t really help me see entertainment value though. I guess the best way to put it is, I always see love triangles as something akin to a replay review. That is, they are a boring and frustrating waste of time that only occasionally lead to anything of value. (notice, I did not say they NEVER lead to anything of value!) But that does mean the BEST I’m likely to say about a love triangle story-line is that at least something good came of it. So perhaps, among the reasons I tolerate Jill’s story better than Lou’s is I was more satisfied with the outcome of Jill’s arc (“we make a good team” as opposed to “a mistake I won’t make again!”). While Hannah’s arc lead to Sham, and took Chuck until Beard to admit he loved Sarah. So I see Jill as leading to a strengthening of Charah, Lou lead to one and half episodes of tension and frustration, and Hannah led to catastrophe.
        So the idea of bringing back Jill in S1 leads me to a couple thoughts; first, it depends on the story (!). It could have better, or not. Second, if it means reducing the number of triangles I’m all for it. Where triangles are concerned, less is ALWAYS more. Seriously, that cliche bothers me more than amnesia!
        I so much wish one of the three had been played all for laughs. Chuck having a stalker he had no interest in would have been so much more satisfying than the stuff we got. Oh well. I really have seen worse. I’ll just always be glad they gave us over two full seasons free of that nonsense!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’d see Chuck’s season 1 reaction to Jill as close to his Alma Mater to his initial reaction to his professor. No way.

        As for the love triangles, they serve a purpose, especially with a show like Chuck. While the resolution of the main romance is on hold we see how exactly would Chuck act in a romance. With Lou we see a passionate, caring man, willing to cary the burden for mistakes and go the distance to make things right. With Jill we see the easy calm and confidence of a man secure and comfortable (at first). With Hannah we see a man who has fallen into a relationship out of convenience, mirroring Sarah’s past relationships, and current one. How he deals with those situations informs where he is in life.

      • atcDave says:

        I really am sorry Ernie, I truly mean no personal offense, but oh brother. Gee, maybe they could just move the romance along instead…
        Your example of what the triangles provide makes them worse not better. It sort of proves the point of what a waste of time they are. I think they are 100% a delaying mechanism for story tellers who fear resolving a major story point. You mentioned the other day how such things are traditionally not resolved until the climax; but the thing is, traditional stories are more like novels (or shorter “epics” or “sagas”) or even 2 hour long movies. A serialized romance, exactly like any other serialized point, that plays out over too long a time grows stale. Television writers have a long history of drawing such stories out too long. But more than most other story-lines,a romance dragged out past its due date tends to reflect badly on the characters involved. Its not that anyone is fooled that the star is going to run away with the guest star. Its a worn out device that is painfully transparent. Right up there with evil twins and amnesia. I think the love triangle in particular is akin to the “clips” episode. The fact some of these occasionally generate decent entertainment doesn’t make any of them “good” techniques.
        I so much want to see television writers learn when its time to move on to the next story, and use fewer cliches. Yeah I know, its a pipe dream. But the very least I can do is whine about it when any story plot is dragged along through painfully worn out mechanisms.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, it’s obvious we find different things entertaining, and I agree that some serialized stories can be dragged out too long, one of the dangers of network television and the way it’s presently made. I think Chuck’s central romance seemed dragged out too long before a resolution, but in retrospect, with the entire series done for some additional perspective, I think the timing was about right. The execution suffered from the fact that they put the romance into a holding pattern, which rather than push it to the background (the likely intent while they dealt with the characters as individuals) made it apparent it was not going anywhere, making it seem dragged out and the delay contrived. What it needed was conflict between Chuck and Sarah, actual face to face conflict, so the delay felt part of the story rather than contrived. The conflict was played through surrogates unfortunately, so it made that conflict seem as if it were something that they needed to confront each other with and resolve rather than the reason for them hesitating to try getting back together. If Sarah had confronted Chuck on not being the man he used to be (the reason for her hesitance, plus a broken heart) and Chuck had countered that he didn’t want to be that loser anymore and didn’t need a handler running his life anymore or some such thing a bit of distance or reluctance between them would have worked better for the period from Mask through American Hero. Just my opinion.

        I personally enjoyed all three of Chuck’s external romances, and each added something to both Chuck and Sarah’s characters. Sarah’s were less well done, especially the last, and added less than we got from any of Chuck’s. My favorite however was Casey and Gertrude. 😉

        As for why writers don’t move things at a more brisk pace, well as I said above, drama requires conflict. Without it things get boring. We’ll look at Sarah since she’s most peoples favorite here. Jealous Sarah is fun, funny, and often heartbreaking. Angry Sarah, same. Angsty Sarah is popular too. Resolve the conflict and those things become tougher to set up and write. Luckily Chris Fedak had the guts and the ideas to break that mold and just continue the conflict within the confines of a generally stable relationship (though I still think he could have tossed in a bit more conflict. Chuck being banished to the couch at least once would be realistic and probably funny). So we had relationship teething pains in Role Models, secrets and lies in Living Dead through Ring II, back to relationship growing pains at the start of season 4, etc. Even with that I heard more than once that Chuck and Sarah had gotten boring. Complaints about how they never kissed like in season 1 and 2 anymore were common. Well there’s a reason, those were very different kisses. Those were the dam bursting letting everything we’ve been holding back for months out in an instant kisses because we may never get this chance again. Those aren’t a feature of a happy ongoing relationship. So yeah, I can see why TPTB considered it risky to fundamentally change the most popular relationship on the show. In the end I’m glad they did. Some say it suffered from the delay, others that it suffered from them becoming boring as a couple, and TPTB can’t please everyone.

        In any case it is always going to depend how well TPTB execute the story. If they do it right, there are ways they can delay the UST and CRM to the very end of a long series and make it seem natural and organic. If they botch it (like Moonlighting) it becomes an object lesson to all the other writers that putting that couple together killed the show, rather than botching how they put the couple together killed it. It takes a few successes like Chuck to convince TPTB otherwise.

        I’m going to be very interested in how Castle does. Different TV relationships require different handling. Castle and Beckett were established more along the Moonlighting model. The bad-boy and the strong woman who is drawn to him, but refuses to be just another conquest is the initial relationship, but an element of that love/hate-power-play remains and drives a lot of their fun banter. I’ll be very interested to see if the chemistry suffers, which I consider a very real possibility for them.

        I always like to use Firefly’s two UST romances to highlight the difference. Mal and Inara are the power-play couple. Each unwilling to bend or admit to the other how they feel or need each other. In addition there is a very real issue of power. Inara can’t continue her profession in the confines of a real relationship. She’d become dependant on Mal, and Mal can’t ask her to give up her independence for him without offering something basically permanent, and their is a hesitance on both parts that they could make it work in any case. They’re both headstrong people. Now look at Kaylee and Simon. There really shouldn’t be any reason they can’t be together. She’s a little intimidated by his class, intelligence and upbringing, and he’s a bit of a stick in the mud, not one for taking risks (despite his rescue of River) and probably not too experienced in the love department, making Kaylee’s very frank seen-it-all farmgirl slightly intimidating to him. But they should be together because they’re just too cute a couple! So if Firefly had run for 5 seasons I think Kaylee and Simon would have needed to be paired up sooner rather than later, season 3 at the latest. Mal and Inara would be the closing credits of the final episode. I don’t see it working any other way.

        Chuck and Sarah were more Kaylee and Simon, but with a bit of a professional barrier (ala Mal and Inara) tossed in the mix. The Chuck and Sarah question was never WT/WT, but when will these two get over themselves and just take the plunge. Overall, my previous reservations about the execution aside, I think they timed it just about right, end of season 3. I do however understand that before we had a backorder people were a lot more upset that the payoff would be them together rather than a chance to see them together and what that was like.

        It is an unfortunate aspect of TV that you create shows as you go, and when something plays different than you intend, adjustments must be made. With such a long production time lead Chuck’s creators didn’t get the chance to do that till a lot later. Add in the cuts in budget and writing staff, and a very uncertain future, breaking the mold and taking big risks right off the bat in season 3 might have seemed imprudent. Remember, there was no guarantee any of season 3 would even make it to air when they started production. They were scheduled for a bit of late season filler, if needed. They started production so early specifically so they could make a third season before NBC changed their mind and so they had something to give the fans, even if it was just a DVD final season.

        It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t up to season 2 standards (a pretty high bar a lot of us set) but upon re-watch after a month off the boards last August I liked season 3 a lot better and saw a lot more value to it, so I’ll generally forgive the lapses and believe they were doing their best to adjust to the changes and still give us a show and a story that they, and we, could be deeply invested in.

      • atcDave says:

        Some very interesting comments Ernie, and I agree with far more of that than I did the first batch (!). If we frame Chuck’s relationships in terms of how Sarah responds to them, well that is completely the saving feature of Lou and Jill in my opinion. Sarah wrestling with her feelings and priorities while watching someone else get the attention she wants was extremely well done. Especially in the Jill arc, I think Yvonne owned those episodes. And I agree 100% that S3 would have played better if Chuck and Sarah had actually argued about their split instead of the just friends talk. But even then, I think the break needed to be MUCH shorter (maybe three episodes) and NO triangles. I still think that device was completely played out for this show, really before Cole (although I ultimately liked that character).
        You are completely right about the different tone of different relationships. It will be very interesting to see how Castle plays out this season. The difference in Caskett to Charah makes a huge difference in the timing of things. Of course the shows are different too, and think with Castle they’ve shown good sense in keeping the show about Rick and Kate, even when they were involved in other relationships. Although I’m not sure if that would have worked for Chuck anyway, since their final hurdle seems to have been all about communication. But I can imagine if S3 had started with more actual arguing, it might have made their issues more clear and pronounced; but again, I think a quicker resolution was required.
        And you know I just think the reset decision (and darker tone) was a horrible decision for S3 precisely because of the timing and scheduling issues you gave. I have always read that season as trying to make the show feel more like everything else on television in an attempt to boost ratings. While for a significant number of us, the result was to ruin nearly everything that was special about Chuck in the first place. As I’ve said before, they created a show I would never have bothered to fight for, and that’s a huge part of what makes me so cranky about it. If S3 (3.13) had in fact been the end of Chuck as we assumed it would be for a long time, I would categorically say I would have regretted my efforts in fighting for the show. At least 2.22 would have let me imagine a more appealing future, while 3.13 left me thinking less of both Chuck and Sarah (especially Chuck) than I had previously. Now of course, in hindsight, I’m especially glad we got to S4 and S5. But for many months I was not particularly pleased to have fought for more.
        As far as Chuck and Sarah being boring together, I think that’s mostly the hopeless impasse of taste. I think many viewers who liked S3 would simply never have liked the more upbeat show we got in later seasons. And of course, I would have never liked continuing the darkness and angst of S3. There is simply no way both groups of fans were going to be happy. I am thankful I got the show I wanted, and I’ll be just selfish enough to say most of the rest of television is for those who like dark, but I’m glad Chuck was for me in the end. Perhaps a few viewers would have been happy with a little more overt passion between Chuck and Sarah in those last two seasons. I don’t know. I think they could have done a little better in that regard, but probably not much. I certainly don’t need voyeuristic television, and we did see plenty of evidence Chuck and Sarah were happy and active together. And I loved Gertrude’s claim they were the Cleavers of the spy world. THAT never got old for me.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave,I didn’t get to post this yesterday but wanted to comment about something you mention above. This statement in particular.

        While Hannah’s arc lead to Sham, and took Chuck until Beard to admit he loved Sarah.

        First off I agree with the first half as I think that was Hannah’s singular role. Have Chuck have sex with Hannah so Sarah could have sex with Shaw to help their pointless trip back to the empty LI well and make the big secret of Shaw sleeping with his wife’s killer. An idea that was meaningless to me because I simply didn’t care one bit about Shaw as a character. I never felt anything for him but hatred. All of Ernie’s great comments to me are just trying to find deeper meaning in something that never was intended to have anything more than what I mention above.

        But secondly the last half of that statement is one of the main reasons the Hannah arc fails so miserably for me. Chuck’s supposed epiphany in Beard was treated as a monumental moment. But the problem with it is, it wasn’t an epiphany the more I think about it. Chuck had admitted he loved Sarah verbally twice before. Once to his father and once or so he thought to Sarah herself. He said he loved Sarah to his dad and over six months later said it again to her, or so he thought. So how could he then fall pray to Hannah’s pursuit just three weeks later is beyond me. It really makes Chuck look like a complete douche. But maybe that was their point, they seemed to want us to hate him then. So that moment in Beard, that I loved by the way, gave me hope that giving the show that one more chance before I left it for good after FN would be worth it. But when we look at it more objectively and not in the cloud of disgust and anger I was in at the time, it really is redundant and an example of them delaying things and stretching things out with no other purpose than waiting till 3.13.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, you did mention one other thing I meant to comment on, the reset. I also think that even though it was the main point of the first two episodes the actual conflict and break needed more than two 30 second scenes as setup. I always assumed that their first attempt to be together was doomed. If I’m honest with myself I didn’t really see them as ready to start a real relationship after Colonel. There was too much history and baggage between them that required either time or facing losing each other to get past. But part of the reset just seemed so perfunctory, as if they were annoyed to have to actually set it up, so they did as little as possible using the “they never have time to talk” trope that was getting a bit old. It seemed off the pace of both the first part of Ring and Pink Slip, when it seemed there was time for some resolution between them, or at least a few honest statements. Chuck’s idea, take some time on a vacation to try to get to know each other without the professional barriers or pressure of the spy-world was about the best they could hope for at that point, and until we knew about Sarah’s issues with who she was, putting down roots or opening up emotionally her initial impulse to run away, first from him, then with him, seems a bit off. Again, it plays a lot better on re-watch without being bathed in a sea of dissatisfied fans comments, but I still wish it had been done a bit better and given us some context that was lacking till very late in the season.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Uplink. Apparently, by the time Chuck met Hannah he was trying to “move on”; but Sarah hadn’t gotten the memo, in First Class she was back to being his full blown lioness protector. It was like Sarah was still thinking about Three Words and their talk about cleaning up messes, while Chuck focused on the friends talk from Angel of Death. And to me, it makes Chuck look like the absolute cad. Then when Ellie calls Chuck on still being in love with Sarah in Fake Name, he offers a vague affirmation that is apparently actually a lie, since he seems surprised by the epiphany in Beard. I agree about liking the scene, but it’s all far too drawn out. It comes after too much time has elapsed getting there, and too much time will pass again before things actually improve. I just really dislike almost everything about S3.

      • uplink2 says:

        Great discussion immediately above. Ernie I would agree with you about the timing being just about right for getting Chuck and Sarah together. I have never been one who said they had to put them together at the start of season 3 even if I would have enjoyed it immensely. My problem is and always has been how they chose to keep them apart. A misguided trip back to the empty LI well. I loved your discussion about possible conflict early on setting the stage for some real drama and tension. That’s what I wanted. But simply having them not talk to each other instead was a huge mistake. But from the perspective of intending a wasted LI journey if they did actually talk, argue and communicate none of that LI story ever happens. So they kept them from talking to keep them apart and turned them into people I didn’t know or want to know.

        That is so much of my disappointment with season 3. There was a great story to be told after the Ring 1 and you have pointed out a lot of it in season 3 that you see. But the problem is for me it is so hidden behind the Mask, pun intended, of a pointless, uninteresting and hated LI story that I simply can’t get myself to see it without wanting to throw things through the TV. I don’t think I will ever want to revisit those episodes to find what you see because so much of what is also there I find so unappealing I can’t escape my hatred and disappointment at the choices made. Dave was profoundly correct in his assertion that they chose a direction to make the show more interesting to a larger audience, or so they thought, but to do that they took away almost everything special about what I saw in the show. It was a calculated risk based on a misjudgement of what the fans that fought for this show saw in it and they discarded them to try and win more viewers. They seemed to actually believe we would stay with them no matter what they did to bring in new viewers. “You don’t put a book down after the seventh chapter” is a clear and perfect example of their misguided belief the fans would accept what they were trying to tell us no matter how bad it was. They miscalculated and the show never fully recovered. If it hadn’t been for the disaster of Jay Leno and the inept management of NBC we would have been left with a very unfulfilling payoff to a disastrous storyline many in the most passionate segments of the fanbase hated.

        What made the show so special and so great for me WAS that it was different. It didn’t follow the TV troupes and when they tried to grow the show by making it more traditional TV, they shrunk it instead. If it wasn’t for my almost unhealthy desire to see Yvonne on my screen every week and hope I’d get to see some of those special moments that the unique and precious central relationship could bring, I’m not sure I would have stayed watching after Pink Slip. I saw the contrivance and manipulation a mile away and hated what I was sure was coming because I had seen it so many times on other shows I had no passion for.

        I just wanted a great spy story that caused drama and tension for our favorite couple so I could watch them fight to help each other make it through the incredible changes Chuck’s decision to download the 2.0 would bring. Unfortunately I never got that. Or at least if it is there, it is shrouded in a storyline I almost find offensive and completely unsatisfying. I wanted to see them earn 3.13 together. Get through all of the drama of the changes coming in their lives like they always did, By fighting to protect and help each other at all cost and not be distracted by meaningless repetitive love trapezoids that took away what made the show special for me and made me want to leave the show forever. There was a great dramatic story to be told in season 3, too bad I never saw it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Guys, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think your extreme dislike of that part of the season makes you unwilling or unable to see or admit that it was anything other than wasted time to delay the inevitable and overdue resolution you wanted. I think I pretty clearly showed that they used Hannah to give us a glimpse at Chuck and how he felt he was losing himself. The response I got was basically, I don’t accept that as real. Fine, but it was there, and it was planned, and I’m not making things up out of whole cloth. At some level if you aren’t willing to even try to understand, let alone accept the writers intent and what they present as real it is unfair to criticize them for telling a confusing story. It is the FOD problem writ large. People refuse to accept that Sarah could be the reason Chuck isn’t flashing, let alone that Chuck could believe it even momentarily, even though those premises are established explicitly and have precedent in other episodes, and then they proceed to say that it makes no sense for Chuck to act as if he might believe anything Rye says when they just spent the previous half of the episode establishing why he might. At some point you need to realize that if you aren’t willing to accept what you see as part of the story you won’t see anything other than a confusing story. Again, I’m talking here about the method of storytelling, so don’t confuse this with me saying you should like it, or it’s a good story, just that the writers did have a plan and something in mind other than delay.

        If you’d like, I can give you my take on those confusing scenes, and what else was happening in First Class, but at this point I get the feeling I often reply to questions that you guys, Uplink and Dave, consider rhetorical. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie you are completely correct I don’t “get” S3 by choice. I think I’ve actually said that about a hundred times. The logic or intent of the story is irrelevant to me, it fails on an entertainment level. I reject for the exact reasons I don’t watch many shows, it has nothing to do with “understanding.” when I talk about things that could have been differently, I’m far more interested in fixing the entertainment value of the season than I am in anything else. So when you say they did “x” to show “y”; my response will never be “oh I get it now, that’s brilliant”. But rather, my response will always be “they needed a better way to show ‘y’.”
        I know you love to analyze and explain, but those things will never work for me. It’s like you’re telling me which nuts taste best, and I’m trying to say I’m allergic to nuts. It doesn’t matter what they taste like or what they go with, I’m allergic.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, much of what you are saying may very well be correct but the problem for me at least is that I can’t intellectualize an emotional response and change that response because of analytical factors. As Joe said in an earlier discussion Chuck is all about the heart. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t analyze the writer’s intent on an intellectual leve and change my reaction to it when my heart is telling me something completely different. Chuck is not a formula procedural show. It is a show you engage in emotionally not intellectually or at least I do. So seeing your POV on the intent of Hannah, no matter if I even agree with it or not upon reflection will never change how I reacted or will react to it in the future. Again as Sarah said, I just don’t feel it and I never will.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Guys, I really understand your point, but what I am replying to, and not just for the benefit of you guys but also for others who may read but not post, is that you guys will often post something about the writer’s intent or that the LI served no purpose, and it isn’t always clear that it is not meant as an objective as opposed to a subjective statement. I also consider it unfair to me to imply that I’m making stuff up that isn’t there when I try to be analytical and look at the writers intent or explain it. I don’t mind disagreement, but when you seem to ask for an explanation or dismiss one that I give it engages me in a debate that I feel compelled to enter, because I am not making things up and I want to defend myself and my POV, but it’s one I can’t win or extricate myself from. Going back to the start…

        I beg anyone to tell me anything Chuck learned from his time with Hannah. You can say maybe what they were trying to say but I never saw it and I think you give them too much credit if you think there was any deep kind of discussion like this in that writers room when this story was being developed. It was all about putting everything off till 3.13 with one more trip to the empty PLI well.

        I think I get now that this really isn’t meant to be answered, but to me it sounds like it is dismissing what I try to do as illegitimate or misguided. That you didn’t see any point from the perspective of your tastes and enjoyment is fine, but the way it is phrased implies, at least to me, there can be no disagreement on your point. You seem to be asking to enter an objective debate, and closing off debate simultaneously. I get it now that this is largely a rhetorical statement about your dissatisfaction, but it reads like an objective criticism of the writers. I don’t see the need to imply they lack talent or commitment because they took the story in a direction you didn’t like. These same writers have all written episodes we all love and praise in addition to the front 13 of season 3. Phil Klemmer may have written Mask, but he also wrote Suburbs, Sandworm and A-Team. Ali Adler wrote Fake name, and also Best Friend and Honeymooners. The same three writers that gave you Colonel and Ring I gave you Pink Slip and Three Words.

        People who come to this series should have the opportunity to consider all of the show on its merits and its terms rather than be scared away. To pick up on Dave’s analogy it’d be as if he went around telling people peanuts are terrible, not mentioning that it was because they put him into anaphylactic shock as opposed to just objectively tasting bad.

        For now I’ll defer till we actually get to season 3, but we’ll undoubtedly have to deal with this again. I think people on both sides will just have to allow some statements they disagree with to go unchallenged occasionally if this is to work.

      • atcDave says:

        Fair enough Ernie. I do try to be clear that most of my commentary is based on my opinion, but I may have said something that was unclear.

        I do agree there are times to let the arguments go. That can be very difficult when you feel your position is being misrepresented or misunderstood. But I do understand the need to let some things go (and yes, I know I’m the worst offender).

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok Ernie, point taken and maybe I am trying to be a little snarky in my discussion of intent vs reaction. But what I think you are also saying here is that I need to look at intent and gauge reaction accordingly. I simply don’t agree with that. I did kind of acknowledge your points about intent possibly being there but if I as a viewer don’t feel it then the intent failed. If the intent was that important or central to what they were trying to show us, it should have been done much better. Not to be snarkly again but if it comes across as half-assed and feels so phoney as much of this did to me, I have problems with the seriousness of the intent. If the purpose of Hannah was so important then why didn’t they do a better job of showing that to me? Help me feel what they are saying and not simply hating the fact it was done so poorly that I don’t see any serious intent other than what I stated was my reaction.

        You make a very good presentation of what you believe they were trying to do but if the viewer doesn’t get it or feel it, you as a writer have failed. You made a point in an earlier blog about fans negative reaction to the finale being somehow their own fault for not seeing what you so clearly saw. I’m sorry but I disagree with that and found it a bit demeaning. It isn’t the reader’s or the viewer’s fault if they don’t get what the writers are trying to say. The writers simply didn’t do it well enough. Now I agree that you will never make everyone happy and you shouldn’t even try but if a huge portion of your established fanbase has the same almost exact negative reaction to something you are ‘intending’ then to me you simply didn’t do it well enough and you failed at telling your story and why it is better than what the viewer wanted. I shouldn’t have to work so hard to see it on a show like Chuck. This isn’t The Wire where I rewatched virtually every episode to make sure I got all of the urban dialog in particular so I would fully understand what the great writers were trying to say. If you feel that you enjoy doing that with Chuck then I’m happy for you. TBH I don’t and it is why we disagree on much of these two areas. Season 3 and the finale. But I do absolutely disagree that it’s my fault I don’t see or feel it.

        You mention the writers, specifically Klemmer and Adler but my reaction to those two episodes is very different. I think if you took an objective poll of what was the most poorly written episode of the entire series, Mask would win hands down. That episode never bothered me as much as many others because it is so poorly written that it is almost laughable to me. Almost to the point I can’t take it seriously. But my reaction to Fake Name was quite the opposite. It is a well written episode technically but I found the story I was being told so offensive and manipulative that it is the only episode of the series I absolutely hate and despise. If that was Ali’s intent she succeeded with me. But I would also contend from my limited venturing into the world of writing FF that there are times where readers tell me something they see I never intended but upon looking at it I can see their point sometimes. My point with that statement is that just because you see a certain intent doesn’t necessarily mean that the writer put it there on purpose. It may be happenstance or it may be a fortunate or unfortunate consequence of completely different intent. A good case in point there was Sarah’s reaction at the Grand Canyon in Fates. I saw such deep meaning in what happened there and when I discussed it with Frea, she said her intent was simply that Sarah was exhausted and nothing really deeper than that. I believe that can be said here with the Hannah story you say you see. Unless we heard from Ali and the other writers themselves we don’t really know for certain if any of the intent you see was actually there. In the case of the name reveal, many season 3 supporters see all kinds of justification and deep reasons for it but from what I understand Schwedak simply wanted Sarah to hurt Chuck somehow and the name reveal is how they did it.

        I hope you realize that I really enjoy your viewpoint and your analysis is well written and thought out and it has grown my understanding of the show and how you see it. But just because you see intent where I don’t doesn’t mean either of us is right or wrong. I asked anyone for an explanation as to what Chuck learned from Hannah and you made your points clearly and well spoken, but I still say none of that was new. None of it grew him as a character and from my POV he was no better off than when all of this started. In fact he was worse. It didn’t make him a better person or grow his understanding of himself on anything that really mattered. It just made him a douche. So all of that journey for me to the dark side was unnecessary angst for angst sake. All intended to take a detour to delay getting to the destination later in the story. The lessons you say they intended didn’t help him get there in any better shape than if he hadn’t taken that journey. And for me the necessary journey gets lost in the mud of the unnecessary one. Intended or not, to me it was a failure and it almost drove me away from something I loved very much because of it.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I do want to address Honeymooners authorship too. I believe it is a LeJudkins episode. The credits say “story by” Alison Adler, “screenplay by” LeFranc and Judkins. I believe it is the only time this distinction is made on Chuck. But the story is just the idea and outline. Screenplay is all the dialogue and action, basically the stuff that breaths life to the characters and setting. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the screenplay that makes me like or dislike and episode far more than story (not to say a screenplay can completely fix a bad story, but I do consider it ultimately more important, at least for the parts I enjoy, than the story itself).

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, also in thinking about it I believe that famous Ali video of her trying to tell fans to hang in there that she wanted to get to a Charah marriage too but didn’t know if it ever would happen was probably done right about the time Fake Name was being written. I think she understood what the reaction was going to be and was trying to do damage control before the fact. I agree she is not the major factor with Honeymooners, that was LeJudkins. She did go out with a bang as Subway was the second best episode of season 3 for me and the only time Routh actually was good in the role to me at least.

      • I just don’t think you guys are arguing the same issue here. It seems like Ernie’s arguing that the premise is relevant to the greater story, and Dave and Uplink counter with how utterly unenjoyable the story was. I don’t think these opinions are directly opposed to each other, or that either party necessarily disagrees. It’s really just a matter of whether you can or can’t get over the flaws to appreciate the strengths – which isn’t something that can be argued.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink, Ali Adler’s “romance writer” video actually came out before the season ever started to air. There was pretty massive backlash from Comic Con on (6 months prior to a single episode airing) and that video was sort of the first wave of damage control. Which is all part of why I always say they have zero excuse for not anticipating how unpopular the story would prove to be. Which for the record, that means to me the planned story should have been CHANGED, not SPUN.
        I’m also less enthusiastic about Subway. It was okay, with a few very good moments. But a few staggeringly dumb moments too, like Chuck trying to run off with his Dad while leaving Sarah on the sidewalk. Inexcusable, stupid. I only barely like S3.5. And I think Honeymooners was the only very good episode of that entire season. Actually, when we get to the re-watch, I will be mostly positive about Subway, but that one moment really sticks on my craw…

        Arthur you are completely correct we are arguing different things. Ernie is writing about the intent of the story, Uplink and I are rating it on an emotional/entertainment level. I think that is always much of the S3 dispute. Bottom line is, I watch television to have fun. If I don’t see the fun, I’m likely not much interested in the rest. The funny thing is, I’m happy to dissect and explore the details of something I find fun and entertaining. But if it annoys me or bores me, I don’t really care about it.

      • joe says:

        Ack! I didn’t want to add to this monster thread until we got to S3, but you pulled me back in! [Joe imitates Steve Van Zandt in The Sopranos imitating Pachino in The Godfather]

        Chuck had to leave Sarah in Subway. That’s what he does, that’s what his father did and that’s what his mother did – run to save the one’s they love (or, more to the point, fight from the outside, not the inside). Anything else would have OOC.

        Awkward, and maybe even strained? Yeah, I think so. They didn’t get the point across at all. But I think it wasn’t really stupid, and it was consistent at that point.

      • uplink2 says:

        Arthur, I actually agree with that for the most part. I think what Dave and I are saying is we can’t get over the flaws to see the strengths, but Ernie can. That’s fine and it is very subjective. But my point is also two fold. First, until we get Ali Adler or Chris Fedak to post here or address intent, neither of us is right and neither of us is wrong. Ernie says he sees it clearly, I don’t and even if I agree he might be right it failed miserably for me. But second that fact isn’t my, the viewer’s, fault. It’s the writers for not telling their story well enough for me to see it, feel in and believe it. What I did see and feel was phoney and manipulative. But I do appreciate his POV and how well he expresses it, I really do. It helps me focus my feelings even more. But it’s like trying to explain why I love my wife. I just do and no intellectual analysis even when I enjoy thinking about it is going to change that emotional response. It’s the same with this part of their story that is in such high contrast to the episode we should be discussing. Truth works for me a great deal. I feel it, I see what they were trying to tell me and I believe it. Regardless of intent being there or not they failed for me in season 3 and to some smaller degree the finale though I do see what they were trying to say there, I just don’t think they said enough. That is the more overlying issue. In TV and in much of life perception is reality. No matter what the intent was, if the viewer didn’t get it then they failed. Where in our episode of this week, they succeeded superbly.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes Joe, in character and he did it again in Curse. In character, AND, stupid, ignorant, idiotic… Inexcusable.

      • Dave, I think you’re being unfair to Chuck. (Yes, I am standing up for a pretend person!) It was irrational, as people are apt to be in moments of extreme danger to themselves and their families. And Chuck is often irrational in his first reaction to extreme emotions. Then he learns and regroups. And if he hadn’t left Sarah in the Subway, he just would’ve been arrested. He convinced his dad to work with him and recruited Ellie to tap into the Ring base. And in the Curse, he forced Beckman and Casey to back Sarah up by going in there with the virus. The latter was actually a very clever (and manipulative) tactic, if it was intentional

        Point being, Chuck follows his instincts, and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, his team is able to compensate; most times, they add an element to the team that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

        It’s what Chuck meant when he said, “The intersect’s not just me, or the man. It’s all of us, working together.” They each have flaws like these (remember Sarah in the Baby? Or Casey in the Sensei?), but that element of mutual respect and C.A.R.E. keeps them working.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I’m mostly a big fan of Chuck. He has many great qualities. But it always gets under my skin when he is touched by the stupid stick. Whether the moment is in character or out of character (and really, I always hesitate to level the OOC charge against a fictional character, they will do exactly as they are written to do) I do not enjoy watching Chuck be an idiot. It doesn’t always ruin an episode (it didn’t ruin Subway for me, it is merely the biggest strike against an otherwise good episode) but it does always disappoint me. And the whole abandonment thing in particular irks me, especially since it recurred in Curse. I’m not sure that he ever learned his lesson, his tenacity in Goodbye was very good to see, and I like to think it would never come up again. But it will always be troubling to think about.

      • Not to get all Freudian, but I do think your parents’ example has a powerful influence on the way you behave, in a way that is profoundly irrational. Chuck is generally a light show, so we forget that Chuck was abandoned by his parents at a fairly young age. That type of thing sticks to a person, especially as Chuck has to actively justify that behavior over the course of the show. Consciously, he tries to take the opposite route by being fiercely loyal to his friends. But I find his mistakes, and his conscious battle to overcome them, one of the more endearing aspects of the character. Same for Casey and Sarah.

        Plus, we got to see Sarah threaten to assassinate him if he did it again! Even Chuck ain’t that stupid.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt I loved Sarah’s response to it. She is definitely one woman you would never want to tick off! I would also say Sarah often shines when Chuck is an idiot (except, ahem, oh never mind, you know what I’m thinking…). But in spite those who accuse me of just fawning over Sarah, I really don’t like when Chuck plays the fool either. I would always rather see Chuck overcome his base nature. Now of course you can rightly counter that we would never know his baser nature if he didn’t occasionally give in to it. But nonetheless, I will always regard Chuck being an idiot as a knock against any episode, even if it “had” to happen on occasion.

  9. Mel says:

    I kinda wish there was a separate blog entry for all the S3 garbage. Re-visiting the lovely episodes of S1 and S2 is no fun if the talk always turns into Fedak’s biggest show destroying failures.

    • atcDave says:

      We avoided it for a while. And I think it will die down again once we get past Crown Vic. But whenever we talk triangles the comparisons will start up again.

    • uplink2 says:

      Personally I think that this rewatch works well when you analyze things based on the perspective of the entire series. To discuss Lou I think necessitates talking about Jill and Hannah especially. If a poster wants to only discuss things based on what we knew at the time I’m sorry but it limits a deeper understanding the series for me at least. Each episode is not in a vacuum. To better understand Lou, I need to see her in the context of the other relationships Chuck had. I can better explain my reaction to the Lou story if I say why it is so different from my reaction to Hannah. But I will refrain from invoking Chuckwin’s law so often if that is what people want.

      • resaw says:

        I was tempted to not reply to your comment, Uplink, because I’d rather have this forum be a discussion about the show than a discussion about the discussion. Having said that, I certainly understand a desire to understand this episode within the larger context of the entire series, but what seems to be happening is that Season 3 takes over centre stage and the conversation about the episode for the week gets pushed to the edges. Instead, I would love to see season 3 brought into the discussion, not as a hostile takeover, but to, as you suggest, deepen our understanding of the show we are ostensibly discussing at the moment. Personally, as I believe I’ve written, I’m choosing to not bring later shows into the discussion. I want to attempt to watch Chuck and Sarah with fresh eyes as each episode unfolds. And while I’m commenting about the discussion rather than about the show, I must say that I am impressed by the respect that is shown to each other despite the passionately held opinions.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks Resaw and I appreciate the nice comments. But I think this is something we will find very often over these weeks to come. As of this writing

        Chuck vs The Sizzling Shrimp 63 comments (no real S3 discussion)
        Chuck vs The Truth 131 comments in three days. (lots of S3 discussion)

        The passion will always come out when that season is brought up no matter who does it. Chuckwin’s law is a universal truth. But I do believe that most if not all of us respect each other enough and we have posted here long enough that even when we disagree on things and that happens many times we always try to respect each other’s opinion and not make it personal. Sure it can get snarky at times but our love for the show trumps all. Even if we see very different shows.

        I think Sandra below is actually right, Ernie is the best writer here many times. I love reading his analysis even if I have a totally opposite viewpoint. I’d love to see him try his hand at FF and I’m sure I would love to read it. Thinkling is another and her story is fantastic, one of the best post finale pics out there. But I gather Ernie thinks about the show where Dave and I tend to feel it. Those differing viewpoints will many times be diametrically opposed. But I have gotten a much better understanding of things from reading his posts. (S3 warning). One such posting a while back was a discussion of Sarah at the end of Three Words. Ernie saw that moment very differently and once I read it I could see where he might take that differing view than I did. Now my emotional response will always win out but I can and do see how he saw a very different scene and at least his version of that moment I can easily see as feeling very real to me. I still say how I saw the intent was more accurate for me but his view does not feel at all like it couldn’t have been the correct version or at least part of her reaction. Without that discussion I would have always missed that as I’m not sure I will ever rewatch that episode.

        Believe me I know how draining S3 discussions can be. I’ve been involved in a lot of them. But I got the impression that this rewatch was about seeing the show week to week from the perspective of the show as a whole. You can easily see when the show works and when it doesn’t. No need to go there again in this post.

      • atcDave says:

        I would also add that total traffic at the site goes up significantly when we stray into S3 discussions. These last three days have been the busiest of the month, actually the busiest in a couple months with over 700 hits on Monday and over 600 today. Still well short of our peak traffic, when we had over 5000 hits a day… during season three.

        I think we’ve hit on a clear difference in viewing styles that shows up between how viewers like Uplink and I watch things vs those like Ernie; I think its a fundamental difference for those of us who analyze with our hearts first vs those who go head first. I will go into great depth on things I love and am excited about, but I have no interest in the details if I’m not happy with something.
        Funny, I was like that in school too; if a class interested me I was sure to get an A, if it didn’t, I was sure to get a C. Good thing air traffic interests me!
        But it does translate into very strong opinions about many things, and I tend not to see much grey. Fortunately, although current episodes may not reflect it, I am very enthused about the large majority of Chuck. Once we get past Crown Vic, I love the next seven episodes. And in all of S2 there’s only three episodes I’m not really excited about.

    • Yeah, everything does turn into a season 3 discussion eventually. Don’t mind it in all cases, but you’d think Hannah appeared on half the show.

    • Bill says:

      I agree with Mel. I wish we could relish the greatness of the season we’re in now, without reference or comparison to what happens later.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill the whole point of this re-watch is discuss the entire series in retrospect. While I admit the S3 passions still heat up in a hurry and can diminish other discussion, it does absolutely have a place in this discussion.

        The best advice I can offer is skip the comments you don’t want to read. You are also always welcome to post your own relevant comments at any time. It’s always good to stear a conversation back where you want it!

      • Bill says:

        Understood, Dave. I just wish we didn’t have to dwell on the S3 negativity just yet.

  10. Sandra says:

    @uplink2
    Ernie Davis is the most intelligent commentator on this blog and understands the intent of TPTB and how Chuck works as a show a lot better than you do. Also i find your obsession with Yvonne Strahovski creepy to say the least.

    • Hi Sandra. I understand it’s easy to get frustrated – I disagree with uplink all the time! We’re all very passionate about the show, obviously. But he’s not attacking anybody, and he doesn’t deserve to be attacked. Maybe you could join us in the discussion, and let us know what you think about the issue at hand.

      And besides, I’m sure we’ve all had celebrities we’re enamored with. Yvonne Strahovski is a brilliantly talented actress. Who wouldn’t want to watch her act as much as possible?

      • aerox says:

        Never mind her, Arthur. She comes on here from time to time to vent her frustrations about how “EVERYONE ON HERE IS MISOGYNISTIC ZOMFG! OBJECTIFYING WOMEN! YVONNE STRAHOVSKI IS NOT DESERVING OF ALL YOU PERVERTED ATTENTION” and then proceeds to fawn over Zachary Levi. It’s better if you ignore it.

      • atcDave says:

        But Ernie really is the most intelligent. I’m more of a Neanderthal. Even Uplink is at least a Cro-Magnon…

      • joe says:

        And I’m the #1 idiot of the group! Proud of it, too. 😉

      • uplink2 says:

        I actually always liked Cro-Magnon. He was always kind of the ugly fat kid of human evolution. But I bet he didn’t like Geico Insurance either.

      • atcDave says:

        No way Joe, I’m way more stupider…

      • uplink2 says:

        BTW Thank you for that Arthur. Yes we are passionate and I won’t ever apologize for my obsession with one of the best actresses I’ve seen in a long long time. Afterall the root of the word fan is fanatic.

        I like to engage in lively discussions. I’ve learned a lot from Ernie and all of the posters here over the years. But I do agree with Aerox, it’s better to walk away from this one.

    • jam says:

      If you’re gonna obsess over a Chuck actor, then YS is the best choice by far. 😉 Easily the most talented member of the regular cast.

      Don’t know if she will ever be an a-list actress (in terms of recognition, not talent), but she certainly has all the tools for it. I think she’s in similar position as Gillian Anderson was after the X-Files, who never quite reached the fame I thought she would based on her abilities, but Hollywood is unfair like that. (Not that I think GA failed in any way)

      • While I don’t completely disagree, I think it’s closer than you’re making it out to be. Zach Levi might have been playing the role he was born to play, but I really think he was brilliant as Chuck. First of all, the guy is nearly as big as Ryan McPartlin; for him to play a nerd who can’t get a job or a girl should have been unbelievable from the start.

        And second, he was nearly as versatile in his portrayal of Chuck as Yvonne was as Sarah. There aren’t many people I can think of who could have navigated Chuck’s growth from helpless dork to grown spy, man and husband as smoothly as he did. He didn’t. I would put Zach’s performance in Chuck vs. Sarah right with Yvonne’s in phase 3 as the best of the show, and he had a lot of really tough moments to sell. Yvonne is more of a standout, especially because she’s just gorgeous, but Zach has what I call the “Don Cheadle ability” – he just sinks into the role so thoroughly that you don’t even notice he’s acting.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the whole cast was very good, and apart from a couple guest stars they were all perfectly cast for their roles. But I do also think Yvonne was the true breakout and the greatest talent. Whether she “makes it big” or not is hard to guess. She seems to be poised for a breakout, and much as I dislike her current choice in roles I suspect it will actually be good for her career. But there is so much unpredictable about Hollywood. A single role can make or break a young career. 20 years from now, Ryan McPartlin may be a huge name and Zach Levi and Yvonne Strahovski just infrequently employed character actors. That seems unlikely to us when watching Chuck, but stranger things have happened.

      • jam says:

        Sure, I like ZL (and the rest) a lot too, Yvonne is just in her own class, imo.

        “…for him to play a nerd who can’t get a job or a girl should have been unbelievable from the start…” That’s true, Zac deserves credit for that, but it also helps that YS is so stunningly beautiful, she makes Rachel Bilson and Kristen Kreuk look merely pretty in comparison. YMMV. :p

      • aerox says:

        I enjoyed/liked/loved Zac’s performance until he started conveying emotions using his face. Like England’s weather, he only has two states of being: neutral or constipated.

      • I know you’re using hyperbole to make a point, but that’s ridiculous.

      • Mel says:

        I’d agree that Yvonne is the most talented actor of the bunch, but it’s hard to guess whether that will ever make her a “big star”, so much depends on the luck.

        Zac Levi will most likely remain the biggest name, in addition to acting, he’s also interested in directing, singing, dancing and whatnot. He always seems to have loads of energy and a bunch of ideas and projects going on, such as Nerd HQ at SDCC and the Nerd Machine.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Mel I agree exactly. Zach is sort of a deep threat, he is interested in many facets of entertainment and could find success through a variety of avenues. Yvonne seems more focused on just acting.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think for Yvonne the Dexter casting was hugely important for her. Maybe even more so than the film roles. The timing of it is perfect as it will be either on when Guilt Trip comes out or just completed when iFrankenstein cones out. She is in a role that has led to Emmy nods and even a winner. If and it is a big if, she does as well as she is capable of and gets a nod at least that could be huge for her. I really don’t think there could have been a better role for her at this point.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think the last two episodes of Chuck alone show that they can both knock it out of the park, but if I had to choose and have to be honest I’d probably have to give the slight edge to Yvonne. Remember Yvonne actually studied acting at the college level. The British acting schools tend to concentrate on technique, voice, movement and a host of technical aspects, so their actors tend to come out pretty well prepared. In Zach’s case he was heavily involved in drama in high-school, but seems to have just gone straight to Hollywood to find work after graduating. This isn’t to take away anything from either of them or the rest of the cast, and some of them may not have had enough material to really judge fairly, but I’m going with Yvonne over Zach by a nose. It might be just because she got a lot more of the dramatic and heavily emotional material while Zach was more comedy. Comedy always loses to emotional drama in Hollywood.

        Now as for the best actor among the guest stars, Timothy Dalton, hands down.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree Timothy Dalton had the best performance of any guest star across all five seasons. There were certainly a few other very strong entries, but Volkoff was just awesome.

      • jam says:

        Agreed about Timothy Dalton, he was the sole reason why the Volkoff plot of S4 was watchable, often even enjoyable, despite the weak writing.

      • uplink2 says:

        Right there with ya on that one. Now do you want to vote for worst actor amongst the recurring guest stars? 😉

      • atcDave says:

        No gonna go there!

      • aerox says:

        Angus McFadden was pretty weak, but at that point in time, writers looked like they were clutching at straws as to who they would bring in to be a baddie. Vivian Volkoff didn’t work AT ALL. Thought they did WAAAAY too little with Bryce. Bomer is capable of so much more. For the rest, the guest stars were pretty decent.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m a chicken!

        There were also so many guest stars over the course of five seasons, and it would be a lot of work to sort through them.

      • joe says:

        Aerox, I really don’t want to go there now.

        But when we get to the end of S5, I really, really want you to remind me of what you just said here about Angus McFadden. ‘k?

        We’re gonna have a blast, you and I.

      • aerox says:

        In a good way?

        Also, as a last remark, before I will shut up about future seasons, I really disliked Linda Hamilton (again, more the role than the actor itself)

      • jam says:

        I like Linda Hamilton, I liked the idea of introducing Chuck’s mom (always though it was inevitable if the show only survived long enough), I even liked the explanation for her absence, but the execution of it all was seriously flawed.

        It’s really a running theme with Fedak, decent ideas that fall apart due to lazy and/or poor writing.

      • atcDave says:

        Jam just hit on a big reason why I hesitate to weigh in; I more often object to the handling of certain characters or their story than I do to the performance. Ironically, the couple of performances I thought were weakest were in perfectly well written parts; but they were smaller parts so no biggie.

      • aerox says:

        Yeah, but that’s why I said that it’s more often the actual roles that are weak, rather than performances. I never had any ‘serious’ flaws with an actor not performing up to scratch. It was more like the lines they were saying were just flat out ridiculous. Sadly, this continued on, and got introduced to the main actors in the fifth season as well. Sometimes it works (by this, I mean Casey, because he’s bad ass enough to be able to pull off stupid lines and still make it awesome), other times it fails miserably (by which I mean that god awful line uttered by Yvonne that still haunts me to this day in vs Bo. I seriously need to go into therapy for that line)

        And of course, some back stories were flat out insanity.

      • atcDave says:

        I would say I had no major problems with S5, well except Zach in Curse, but that was a combination of writing and the over the top performance. I typically had no problems with Zach however. I would say I think Adam botched more lines than Yvonne did, but it was never a common problem for either of them.

      • anthropocene says:

        I loved Mary Bartowski and thought Linda Hamilton portrayed her well enough. My only regret was that they were not able to put her together with Steve Bartowski in any episodes, so we could have had Chuck and Sarah beta.

      • What line in Bo? I thought that was by far the funniest episode of the series.

      • jam says:

        Heh, never in a million years I’d call Bo a funny episode. If anything, it was easily forgettable.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly liked Bo. It’s one I would classify as “average”. It made me laugh hard in a few places, I may have cringed once or twice, but nothing related to the performances. Bo Derek was kind of a stiff performance, but it’s hard to criticize someone playing themselves (!).

      • aerox says:

        “So, have you gotten a sneek peak at your childhood crush’s boobies yet?”

        ^That line makes me shudder every damn time.

      • atcDave says:

        I didn’t care for the line, but it had nothing to do with performance. No one could have made that line work.

      • You guys are crazy. Sarah needling him about Bo Derek was on point. It was supposed to be goofy. And Bo Derek as herself, as a spy, is one of the better gags they’ve ever done.

      • aerox says:

        My initial post criticizes the writing. I’ve never said anything about performances, Dave. If anything, I’ve always maintained that I never thought any performance seriously lacked.

        And Arthur, I get that she’s needling him, all fair and good. But that line. That line kills my soul.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Aerox, I missed your point.

      • thinkling says:

        Agree Aerox …. that line is a major fail … makes me cringe every time, too. There are things I really like about Bo, and things that are just awful. I think the entire bell curve is contained in that one episode.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s exactly how I saw it Thinkling. I think overall I consider it a pretty good episode, but a couple of those off moments really annoy me.

      • aerox says:

        Also, for shame on me, but it’s supposed to be sneak peek, rather than sneek peak. My apologies to the grammar police. My only excuse is that I was extremely tired while typing it!

  11. Ernie Davis says:

    I’m going to refrain from further commentary in a vain effort to return you to your regularly scheduled season 1 discussion.

  12. ref51907 says:

    Wow. A lot to wade through. I’ll try to quickly give my take.
    -Chuck’s actions here, completely within character to do so. He is still learning about the spy world and it puts him at odds with his desires.

    -Sarah on the other hand, to use her owns words. It’s complicated. Well to me more precise, he has made it complicated. In retrospect she is already comprised, as far as her emotions go. I can imagine every day she spends with him is tough b/c of who she is. I think the few episodes we get with her dad, and vs. the Cougars are very important to remember. When I saw those, something hit me. Graham’s words to her, “You’re dad trained you well, the CIA can do better.” are very telling. Combined with the flashback of her in high school you see a very awkward girl who was trained to keep everything inside, something she obviously did not want to do. Factor in the CAT SQUAD betrayal, Bryce’s betrayal, and the Ryker incident, and you have someone that had a run of very bad luck that just wants to talk to someone, but can’t. Then she meets Chuck. I can envision Sarah thinking that Chuck would be her, had she made a different choice when she was younger. Her dad trained her to go against who she was. At her very core, she seems to be very much like Chuck. If she had freedom to choose, she wouldn’t hide her feelings, she would be forthcoming and honest, but her dad and the CIA trained that out of her.
    Now Chuck seems to have rekindled that inside her, the desire to be normal, to be an average girl, only now she isn’t and probably never will be.
    Season 3 to me was about pain for Sarah, and how to deal with Chuck’s apparent rejection of her. He opened the door of possibility with her and then seemed to have slammed it shut right in her face. She chose to try and fill the void inside her when Chuck let her in Prague with the first person to show her affection and not back down. Chuck backed off when she didn’t reciprocate the feelings when all she needed was time, and like Roan said, the illusion of being pursued.
    Shaw wouldn’t take no for an answer and Chuck let her have her space.

    -I also think that Chuck, at the end of First Class was just being Chuck, extending an invitation to someone he didn’t actually think would come. And I think we was genuinely surprised she showed up. I think he thought that he would never see her again.

    Just my thoughts

    Erik

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree Sarah was compromised already. She later admitted to falling for Chuck almost immediately, so arguably she was always somewhat compromised. I’m not sure exactly what standard the Chuckverse CIA would use for what’s acceptable for an agent; but I would think realistically it wouldn’t be uncommon for agents to be at least a little compromised with long term assets (that is, if you work with someone for a while, you will likely feel some friendship/fondness/loyalty towards them). So of course the real question is, at what point can an agent no longer be counted on to put the Agency’s best interests first? This topic will come up again in a couple weeks when we get to Marlin, that is the first time in the show when we KNOW Sarah has put Chuck ahead of the CIA. But I think from quite early on she would have rebelled if a kill order were issued (maybe even from the end of the Pilot on!), and by Truth she is even more compromised than that!

    • joe says:

      @Erik

      …you see a very awkward girl who was trained to keep everything inside, something she obviously did not want to do.

      That’s an excellent observation, Erik! I think you got it – much of Sarah Walker’s character comes right from there.

      There seems to be an odd gap in her history that happened before the flashbacks we see in Cougars, where Sarah is about 17 and already driving, and after the flashback we see in DeLorean, where she’s about 10 and riding a bike. Somewhere in there, Sarah went from being a bright-eyed, energetic little girl to being a sullen, slump-shouldered teen. Big change, and I think it has everything to do with Sarah deciding to keep everything inside, just like you said.

      • Robert says:

        I agree with you.

        And I also agree very much with Sarah being a lot like Chuck inside. But she has been drilled so much to keep everything for herself, that her “emotional” capability was dimmed to the point of being almost unexistent.

        But Chuck gets to that part of her, who she really is inside, and slowly, beginning quite early during Season 1, you can clearly see her emotions vibrating again inside her again, although it clearly feels rusty, and although her spy reflexes are still strong, she kind of likes it. And her emotions are clearly vibrating for that nerd who sees through her spy façade, to who she really is. Like someone else said, they see who they really are in each others’s eyes, and how good they really are, and the love started. It’s like the meeting of two very similars souls that recognized each other.

        So that is one of the things I loved to watch in 1.08, Sarah’s feelings about Chuck, love and jealousy over Lou kind of “taking her place”. Even if at that point, Sarah felt she had no right to Chuck, she clearly wanted to be in Lou’s place for real.

  13. resaw says:

    Ernie wrote: “The British acting schools….” Surely you are not suggesting that the University of Western Sydney is somehow located in Great Britain.

    I would describe Yvonne’s training as “professional,” whereas Zach learned by the “apprenticeship” route.

  14. Christopher says:

    I have mentioned on this blog before how I don’t believe that Sarah Walker fell in love with Chuck in the pilot because with what happened the day before, it just does not make sense for me to believe for a woman to just forget someone that she was with for a long time, what kind of woman would that be. However, there was an infatuation with Chuck especially how he handled the little girl’s problem. This was something new for Sarah. She was use to cold blooded killers, manipulators and any other types of people that are in her line of work. She grew interested as they went on a date and later to the dance hall.
    For me when Sarah Walker began to have strong feelings was the Truth. This is the episode that got the ball rolling. Sarah Walker didn’t have any reasons to fear that Chuck would think about wondering. Why would he, they spent a lot of time together on missions and in between going on a few cover dates. They were building real chemistry. The opening scene in the closet was an indication that Sarah’s feelings were developing at this point. When Chuck tells her what sweater he liked she got very excited. For Sarah, each time she was with Chuck she felt a live. Outside the sushi bar she initiated contact not Chuck. Chuck has been a reluctant partner so far with this cover dating. Remember in Tango he didn’t even want to give her a kiss on the lips.
    Enter Lou, What Sarah does not realize is the very charms that works on her and she is attracted to, also works on other women. For Chuck, when talking with Lou he can be himself until Sarah comes. The cover again makes Chuck feel compromised. It does not hit Sarah until they are outside the Weinerlicious, when Chuck goes after Lou in the parking lot. What we seen than is concern on Sarah’s face not as Agent Walker, but Sarah the “real girlfriend” surfaces for the first time..
    The one constant however was Chuck constantly being reminded by her that it was just a “cover” and I don’t even take the question on truth serum as the deciding factor for Chuck. The scene in the bedroom was what told Chuck what he already knew. The serum just confirmed it. However, the cover was not really a good cover from Sarah’s part. Especially seeing what she saw in the parking lot. She had a challenger/threat now for the first time.
    She comes to his bedroom dressed in very interesting attire, but Chuck acts on the mission by playing music and lighting candles Sarah’s response is in very Agent Walker style, but with Sarah the woman hiding underneath the jacket.. A woman who is beginning to see what he means to her. After dealing with this Chuck in his mind was done with trying to make anything of this for now. The problem is Sarah is not. Sarah the girlfriend’s fear of losing him was starting to sink in more and more as they are in bed. When talking about the rules of their arrangement Sarah acting like Agent Walker uses CIA protocol as protection in trying to talk Chuck out of moving on. It’s too late that this point though
    We fast forward to the end, after the rescue of Elle and getting the antidote. Chuck sees his sister and Devon in a true relationship, and knows what he has to do. The one thing that stands out about Chuck, which is different from other nerdy heroes is he has not filters. He won’t hold back punches if it means it’s the right thing to do.
    When Chuck gets to Weinerlicious, he says
    Chuck: We need to break up.
    Sarah: What?

    At this point it looks like Sarah was hoping for him to hiss her especially when he comes closer to her, but she was not ready for the Truth.

    Chuck: I just can’t do this anymore, the more we try to fool people into believing that we are areal couple. The one I am fooling the most is me.

    During this whole time as I am watching, I am studying the facial expressions (brilliant work by Yvonne I might add) of Sarah. She is really holding back the tears and the pain because for the first time she is feeling love because her heart is reeling. Sarah Walker the “Real Girlfriend” is winning this battle.

    Sarah Walker the girlfriend closes this episode out by watching the man she has feelings for but can’t do anything about right now is with another woman, and in her mind it’s the Truth she can’t handle

    She has no one to talk to about it, except to a video

    Sarah Walker: Day 49…Chuck broke up with me today, well fake broke up with me technically
    What we see in the video is a woman who covers the truth in the mission log because she knows that someone in the agency may see this video at any time. Sarah Walker for the first time in months is home alone and she doesn’t know how to handle it.

    • revdr says:

      Joey to Pacey: “this morning, when you touched me in bed…I felt it” It made me feel alive” Chris, I think you hit it on the head with the way Sarah was beginning to feel about Chuck. You see, I don’t think that Sarah ever really loved Bryce. For her, I think that Bryce was more like sanctuary, a kind of shelter from the storm. She trusted him, but only to a point. She had conditioned herself never to allow herself to be vulnerable (spys don’t fall in love). Sarah had trust issues from a very young age and so love, or what she thought was love was a foreign feeling for her, and it was something that she fought, and rebelled against. She didn’t think that deserved it, or would ever have ( see vows). That’s why she denied those feelings, and you can see her fighting them in Truth and throughout the rest of season one. By First Date, she couldn’t deny them anymore, so she just decided to bury them, especially since she knew that acting on them would not only compromise her assignment, but more importantly, Chuck’s freedom. Expressing those feelings would change everything, and she couldn’t afford to do anything that would hurt Chuck in any way. It’s why she didn’t push with Lou, even though the green eyed monster rose up in Hard Salami, and why she was so conflicted in Nemesis, because running away with Bryce would have easier for her, rather that confronting something that she didn’t really know, and couldn’t explain (I’m in love with Chuck Bartowski, and I don’t know what to do about it). Love is the best, and worse feeling in the world, especially when you’ve never really experienced it before.

  15. Chris Byrnes says:

    Rev,
    Once again I am on board with you. However, like on many issues we disagree on Bryce. Its not so much she was in love with Bryce. It was more about the first person in her life that she develop chemistry with. When it comes to Chuck its in love but that is not until later when it happens. I have the same feeling when it comes to the whole Shaw relationship. She liked Shaw because what was she going to do. for the third time Chuck was with someone and unlike the two other times there was someone interest in her. Its like Pacey said to Dawson, You better wake up Dawson because some day someone is going to walk through that door and see Potter for who she is, and than its too late. at the time, and certainly before her red test turned out to be Eve Shaw. they were interested in each other. However, as much as Sarah liked Shaw, they both knew her heart belonged to Chuck.

    but I am digressing right now. See it was this episode that also told me that there was never going to be a chance for Chuck to be with someone else. After the pilot, Sarah claimed Chuck as hers and it was confirmed for her until now. This is why she confronts Lou and Jill and is depressed while watching Hannah at the very table and with the family that is rightfully Sarahs’ Speaking of Hannah out of three women Chuck was with, Hannah was the one that struck a cord into Sarah the most for reasons I just mentioned. Sure Chuck slept with Jill, but that was an old flame and Lou never progressed enough to even make it passed the threshold of the apartment. Hannah however slept with Chuck and eat dinner at the apartment. She also had dinner with Devon and Elle This is why you get this expression you get from Sarah, while she is watching the surveillance camera. The truth also shows Sarah while in bed with Chuck an expression that was shown for the first time While Chuck turns away from her, she is really conflicted by this and her cover is breaking apart There were a couple of scenes in Wookie where Carina flirted with Chuck that Sarah also was jealous with another indication that Sarah was not happy that another woman was flirting with her Chuck. We all know that Carina was just being Carina (look at Casey) but its still a pattern I have done research on that showed me that Sarah was going to end up being the only woman in life soon enough. I am actually writing a piece on this issue.

  16. revdr says:

    Chris; I agree. But was it chemistry or was it mutual interest? True enough, Bryce was in her life first, but I see their relationship more as more of a release (he was there) than chemistry. Same with Shaw. The difference with Bryce was proximity, he was he partner, but she was never in a position of being swayed by anything more than the moment. She was never going to make a major commitment to Bryce, but she was attracted to his heroism and sense of duty. Shaw on the other hand was sort of a rebound, but those same attributes were there in him. She didn’t have to be anything more than she needed to be with him. With both of them she could continue to be what she knew herself to be….just a spy (with needs). Chuck was completely different because she was thinking with her heart, not her head. He presented to her possibility. And her fallback so as to not get hurt was duty. In American Hero she said that she had made a commitment but not just to Shaw. Duty was always her excuse. One of her first turning points was in Nemesis when she had to decide whether to run away with Bryce, or stay in Burbank. Of course she chose to stay, but she was also angry with herself for doing so. So she dived head first into the mission, attempting to ignore what she was really feeling. I don’t doubt the attraction to either guy; I mean, what’s not to like? Both were strong, heroic men with total focus on the mission and the task at hand. But she knew that it would never go beyond the physical, because emotionally she could always keep her distance. With Chuck she knew that she could be that real girl, not a cover, and she could allow herself to just be.

  17. Christopher says:

    Maybe Shaw was just being there, but not Bryce. If Chuck didn’t call her she would of left with Bryce For a woman that was interested in Chuck, She didn’t pull back from Bryce in nemesis from Kissing her in Chuck’s bedroom no less. She enjoyed it why not its her first partner and former boyfriend, which is why I don’t understand her reaction towards Chuck wanting to rekindle with Jill, but that is just me. As I said before we both know that Sarah was never going to let a woman get between her and Chuck and the life that she wanted. She would play nice for a while, but she showed up on Chuck’s date or listen in on the phone conversation between Jill and Chuck something to that point only Casey did. As I think about it she didn’t even like how the Black Widow had her lips on him. I find it all ties in to Sarah’s feelings and need of Chuck for herself. Nothing wrong with it either. Chuck did the same thing. Its what made the show so good.

    • revdr says:

      If you really think about it, Bryce was Sarah’s escape route. Yeah, she enjoyed the kiss; she didn’t pull back, and even considered running off with him, but she didn’t. For Sarah, Bryce was her excuse from not accepting what she was really feeling. Go forward, she really didn’t pull back from Cole either, but when it came right down to it, she couldn’t leave. By then, she was in way too deep. As to her jealousy over Lou and especially Jill, it wasn’t so much about her wanting Chuck, but wanting him and not being able to really have him, at least not without compromising everything. And because at that point she knew that she loved him, she didn’t want to see him hurt. Do you really think that she would have stood in the way of Chuck having a normal life with Jill if she had been just a normal girl and not a Fulcrum agent? I don’t think so. She loved him too much. She even said to Casey that Chuck deserved to have that normal life, something that she knew, in her mind at least, that she couldn’t give him. Yes, she was protective of him, especially knowing that Jill had hurt him deeply once, but she could easily use the shield of duty. As things progressed, that shield became that much harder for her to hide behind. Sarah’s journey was all about acceptance; allowing herself to hope, and dream, and feel….and allowing herself to love and be loved. Bryce was never going to give her that.

      • thinkling says:

        Well said, Revdr. The distinction was plainly stated early in S2 by Roan Montgomery to Sarah. “You have feelings for him … real, non-spy feelings.” Next episode, Bryce told Chuck the same thing.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah rev that is very well put. And I think part of what is so appealing about Sarah’s character is exactly that she is willing to sacrifice so much. Professionally she always has that willingness (“you’re more important than me” she told Chuck in Santa Claus) and she applies it personally too.
        Although I find it amusing how she struggles with it in Imported Hard Salami. She will defend Chuck’s right to find a real girlfriend to the bosses, and even help him find flowers when he screws up. But she sure is eager to bust up the date at first excuse! I love that!
        But no doubt when Jill comes along she forces herself to take a step back. I love how we see her struggle with it again in Fat Lady. But at that time she’s concluded she can’t have Chuck, so she is willing to let him go.

      • thinkling says:

        That progression is telling on multiple layers, too. Not only is it breathtaking to see the emotional awakening, but it’s also a growing awareness on her part of the difference between a spy relationship and a real/normal one. I think in the beginning, she wasn’t aware of the gulf between the two. She had had the spy kind for so long, she thought that was enough. She would have been content with the cover/spy-type relationship. I mean, what’s wrong with what they had, right? Plenty, but she didn’t know it. Watching Chuck with Lou through the window, she began to see the difference, and feel the longing (but she still didn’t want to let him — or their fake relationship — go). After Lou, normal was on her radar … so much so that she voiced it to Casey in Crown Vic (do you ever want a normal life — family — children?) Her statement later on that Chuck deserved a real girl-friend was stunning. Her love for him was completely real at that point — real enough to know the difference between their cover relationship and a real one, honest enough to know that Chuck deserved a real one, and deep enough to let him go.

        Sarah’s growth is my favorite thing of the show, and Yvonne brought it to life so well.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I always think Sarah’s love for Chuck was real from quite early on. But she had no reference, no experience and no maturity in what all that meant. So although she was willing to kill or die for him almost immediately (and yeah, a lot of that was just duty; but I think how happily she would kill or die for him was an immature expression of love) the more sophisticated and deep down aspects developed more painfully and slowly.

        I do always dislike the love triangle as a plot device. And I still believe it was overused on Chuck, by at least two times for both main characters. But I can see how especially Sarah’s response to Chuck looking for something real pushes and educates Sarah. Although Hannah remains pretty meaningless to my mind. I think it would have been very interesting if JS had come up with a more creative, less odious device for pushing that growth. Possibly something drawn more from Chuck’s existing relationships with Morgan, Ellie and Devon. Something to model love in a more profound way that helped Sarah learn about more than just sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with how that was pulled off on the later seasons; and at this point I’m pretty happy with the Jill arc. But the Lou story still annoys me some, Aaaand I won’t even go into Hannah…

      • thinkling says:

        You’re right. Her love was real for him from the start. Poor choice of words on my part. Maybe it would be better to say that her real love didn’t have the proper context to grow. She didn’t know what to do with real love, or what a real relationship should look like. So by the time Jill rolls into town, she had a handle on that context, realized that he deserved it and she couldn’t give it to him; so she let him go … which was a greater sacrifice than killing or dying for him. Chuck had made the same sacrifice in Break Up.

        Agree about the geometry. The last round was completely unnecessary and obscured what could have been a good story arc. I grudgingly admit that the first two rounds did help Sarah grow in her understanding of a real relationship and what it was that Chuck wanted. It painted the choices for her. That’s pretty much hind sight, though. At the time I hated it. Even now it chafes.

      • authorguy says:

        I suppose pointing out that Hannah was by far the most important of Chuck’s three ALIs will do no more good now than the last few million times I pointed it out. Not bringing it up to get into any kind of debate here, either, but ‘The last round was completely unnecessary’ might actually be taken as a fact by somebody, rather than the opinion it happens to be.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly.

      • thinkling says:

        True enough, Authorguy. We’re all putting our opinions out there. Your opinion just happens to differ from mine on this particular point.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc is out of step with a pretty sizable chunk of the fandom on that one!

      • authorguy says:

        I think a lot of good material in S3 is tarred with the same brush as the bad stuff.
        Chuck is a very different person in S3. He made a choice, to be a spy, and Hannah was a test of that choice, his perfect normal woman. The fact that her character was severely underutilized (We saw how good she was in Mask) doesn’t change that. In S3 he was neither powerless nor an asset. It is a profound ethical difference between the two versions of the same character. Everybody seems to want Chuck to grow as long as he grows the way they want. This is a dramatic portrayal of his growth and it got dismissed because the viewers didn’t like the way it was portrayed. I’m looking at the logic, not the pretty girl. Only Hannah could have even momentarily tested his choice, provided him with the second horn of the dilemma he impaled himself on.
        Lou was so different from Chuck that I don’t see him being interested in her in any way, except that he was looking to test his limits as a powerless S1 asset and she was there, with her sandwiches.

      • oldresorter says:

        Fedak is a comic book and old movie guy. Often Bond is referenced. S3 was even labeled no more Mr Nice Spy. IMO Hannah was brought in for Chuck to be like Bond (or Bryce or even Sarah pre-Chuck), seduce and bed the beautiful woman, with no attachment what so ever. It was part of the Fedak vision of s3. Chuck tried out being Bond in many ways, for the first 8 episodes.

        Sarah and Shaw (Bryce was supposed to be the guy) already lived that life, and were portrayed as a spy couple ready to move on, and were past the allure of the spy life that Chuck (and Fedak) thought was so cool.

        Hannah was the turning point. Chuck found out he didn’t like being that guy. But Sarah already moved on, and from her POV, Chuck was still being Bond like all the way through to shen he asked her to run away with him in Hero. Not until Casey confirmed did she really believe. And that is why near the first thing she said was ‘your still my Chuck.’

        The concept needed a fair amount of communication (on screen) to sell it to the fan base and probably needed Sarah to be written slightly different, but it could have worked well for a large portion of us if done right. Especially if done in a more compressed fashion rather than dragged out for 13 episodes.

        One comment about viewership, regardless of how s3 did vs other seasons, I honestly feel what was lost in Pink Slip was an opportunity cost to grow the fan base, substantially, like fifty to hundred per cent more. But that is opinion, and other opinions are just as well thought out and valid, no body will ever know.

        I try to not get pulled into the s3 fray, sorry, it is so darned irresistable!

      • joe says:

        Wow! Great comment, Marc. And I agree with everything you wrote.
        Yet I’m going to disagree in a very weird way, and as I think about it, my disagreement is way out in left field. (For you astrophysicists out there, it’s going to be ortho-normal.)

        Yeah, Chuck S3 is not Chuck S1 and a bit of the fandom (that also means, a bit of all the fans, including me) have a hard time with that. Understandable. We like the guy. He’s different now and the trap implied by Hannah, his test in S3, is a vicious one. Some of the fans (which means, a bit of all of the fans, including me) didn’t like the viciousness implied by TPTB. It rubs wrong and that makes it easy to feel that Chuck is less likable in S3.

        I really like the drama and his growth too (for me it’s closer to art than it is to entertainment). I can see why a good number didn’t, and Dave has been right in saying they weren’t entertained and yes, TPTB didn’t make it seem like entertainment was job #1. Philosophers are still debating whether or not it should be.

        Personally, for me, I think there was a second, minor and contributing mistake, and that was the choice they made by using Kristin Kreuk as Hannah. I like her and I thought she was great in the role, but there’s too much physical resemblance between Hannah and Lou. Worse, she fills a gap that makes Jill join a trio of “petite brunettes.” I’m not convinced (even despite one of the nerd-herd’s claims), that it had to be that way, but it made Hannah seem redundant.

        I agree with you that she wasn’t at all redundant. But once again, I can see why so many thought that way.

        Hum! Have I straddled that bridge enough? Maybe I should waffle a bit more! 😉

      • authorguy says:

        One of the first things I did when writing nine2five was have Sarah act friendly toward a brunette who was schmoozing with Chuck. The Jealous Sarah, brunette skank trope just never sat well with me. Maybe a Sarah look-alike as Hannah would have worked better, made the choice more obvious.
        But really, S3 was basically taking the Pirates of Penzance and trying to turn it into King Lear for a season, and that just wasn’t going to sit well with too many people.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc you’re making way too fine a distinction. Three different times they gave Chuck a choice between “normal” and Sarah. That one of those choices turned out to be not normal, and that the choices fell in different periods of his growth is a pretty meaningless distinction. Three tries at the same dilemma serves mainly to make Chuck look like a fickle sleaze. No matter what growth they were trying to show, it was done at the expense of his decency and likability.
        You’re talking about painting with a broad brush, but the thing is, I’m talking about the emotional response to the story. No matter what other technical merits it may have, the love triangles alone pretty much destroy its ability to work on any other level. To actually have a meaningful story of Chuck or Sarah’s growth they would need to eliminate the massive baggage they created and tell a simpler story.
        And yeah I’m sorry, but how we want him to be is pretty core to keeping a commercial product on the air! Broadcast televisions exists to find an audience, not scare one away. I’ve linked our poll many times here that shows the broad unpopularity of that arc. With 41% rejecting that story, and only 18% being completely pleased it has to be considered a dismal failure. Especially what I consider my experience with more casual viewers, I think the problem was much worse than this site, or the Internet in general really indicated. And the writers’ later comments would seem to indicate they understood that too.

      • authorguy says:

        “Three different times they gave Chuck a choice between “normal” and Sarah.” Three different Chucks, is my point.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason you’re obviously giving more ground on this than I would ever choose to, but you may be right about a lot of that. If they’d chosen to have Chuck really get caught up in the Bond part briefly, they might have made it work with a few qualifications. The first is just it ran way too long. It needed to be resolved in two or three weeks tops. Second is, Sarah needed to play a key role in snapping him out of it; specifically he needed to see his choices hurting HER specifically, not some generic “this isn’t who I want to be”. Bonus points if Sarah spells out to him what she’s learned about the difference between shallow, faithless “spy-like” relationships versus substantive, intimate involvement in another’s life.
        And finally, no sleeping with the brief fling! Geez. Never before have I gone from affection to contempt so fast for a main character. Its one thing for Chuck to get carried idea with the idea of having fun and flirting around; but what the did was grotesque. It went way too far for a character we were supposed to like and care about.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc again, way too fine a point. You can’t honestly expect an audience to see a main character in such a different light over the course of three seasons. And the character itself needs to be “real” not just a “character”. Three mistaken relationships in three years is bordering on unreal, especially for the nerd audience this show initially attracted, and especially when the one right choice is standing right in front of him the entire time.

        As I’ve said before, turning your main character into such abstract terms (three different Chucks) is a terrible story telling choice. It’s a sure way to detach the audience from the character, and that leads to detachment from the story and the show, usually quite quickly. Unless you’re writing something purely allegorical like “Pilgrim’s Progress” and naming your characters things like “Pride” or “Christian” it’s a big mistake to reduce them to such an abstraction.

      • Christopher says:

        Rev, For me this show mastered what the mouth would say didn’t match with the body language, the part where you said that Sarah said to Casey that Chuck deserves a normal one., true on the surface she would say that and what choice did she have, but her eyes and body language what she said does not match with what she said. Her eyes also were not thrilled with the situation. I agree with you about Bryce and Shaw were never going to satisfy that burning desire in Sarah that she gets from Chuck.

        regarding the kissing Cole and Bryce, your right they both initiated the kiss, but during the series there two times Sarah actually initiated a kiss once with Shaw and Chuck. At the end of The Fake Name she was the one who kissed Shaw.

        The best part of Yvonne’s acting is the ability to jump from the Agent Walker ego to Sarah the girlfriend. When it came to the three women. Sarah often used Agent Walker as a cover for Sarah the girlfriend. Brilliant acting!!!!

      • revdr says:

        Yes Chris; you’re right. But, you have to take into account Sarah state of mind when it comes to Shaw. Sarah had been rejected by the one man that she had ever loved. A man that she was prepared to change her entire life for. She’s hurt, and angry, and vulnerable more that any other time in her life. Pretty much going through the stages of grief. Then, after everything, here comes Hannah, who is everything she isn’t, and she’s seemingly perfect for Chuck. So what does Sarah do? She dives head first into whatever it is she can have with Shaw. He open the door, so she stepped in. But he is no more than another outlet, and even he knows that she’s in love with Chuck. Yes, she let him go, but when you’re in love with someone, even though you let go, it doesn’t mean that those feelings just disappear. So she could easily be happy for Chuck with Lou, or Jill, or Hannah, but saying it and showing it are two different things. Again, listen to her in Mask, and look at her face and listen to that sigh….it will break your heart.

      • thinkling says:

        In the whole Shaw/Hannah issue, here’s my 2c: They were both nothing more than consolation prizes. Hannah wasn’t the perfect girl for Chuck any more than Shaw was the perfect man for Sarah. They were both the “types” that each had been with before: the types that, on the surface, ‘seemed’ like the types they ‘should’ be with; the types that a dating service might have chosen for them. But that was before they found each other. Even as they settled (in Mask), Chuck for Hannah and Sarah for Shaw, they still really only wanted each other.

        Chuck wanted Sarah, from the beginning. She was his choice. He never said he wanted a normal girl, only a normal life. Sarah, likewise, wanted Chuck. She chose him over her previous type four times (Bryce thrice and Cole once).

        When the Intersect was out, they were at a crisis point. The thing that had kept them in each others orbit was gone, and it became clear to them that they couldn’t have both the lives they wanted with the person they loved (Chuck turned down Beckman’s job offer and Sarah said she was going to ship out the next day); so each gave up the “life” they thought they had wanted in order to be with the person they loved. Sarah chose Chuck over the spy life, on the beach, and Chuck chose Sarah over a normal life, in the Intersect room. Granted, there was more to Chuck’s choice than just Sarah, but she was a big part of it.

        When things went horribly sideways, and they were each convinced that they couldn’t have — or didn’t deserve — each other; they both settled — reverted to previous types — to dull the pain … not that I think that detour was necessary, not at all.

      • authorguy says:

        Very true. The importance Shaw and Hannah was never in their roles as LIs, but as catalysts in the growth and development of Chuck and Sarah. They needed to grow, but that growth could have happened before or after they got married. My vote is for after.

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling that’s exactly how I understood it. I’ll always say it made for lousy entertainment and a miserable season, but at least as an overview sense can be made of it.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, here’s where I see it quite differently. S3, in the central relationship, gave us remedial growth at best. They shoved CS backward and ripped them apart in order to create the illusion of growth later on.

        I concede that Chuck’s decision to download 2.0 would have created a new challenge for the relationship. That was organic. But the Prague Apocalypse wasn’t.

        The OLIs (and wt/wt) were the pet story devices that drove the season (and the primary objectives of the show runners), but neither was necessary to the story, in any intuitive or organic way. The Prague Apocalypse was contrived, through much contortion, to destroy the central relationship and make way for the OLIs and what TPTB considered to be incredibly clever stunt casting. It was a dismal failure with a significant part of the (ex)fan base.

        The LIs were not necessary for relationship growth but, rather, delayed it. Getting beyond the LIs was remedial — faux — growth. In S3 as told, true growth in the CS relationship didn’t occur, until after OG. All they did until then was to destroy the relationship and then pull the damaged main characters limping back to zero. CS only began to grow through their new challenges, after they were together.

        That sounds harsh, I guess, but in my opinion, the tired decision to pursue LIs prevented more growth than it catalyzed and overwhelmed what could have been a beautiful story of well-rounded, growth for both characters.

      • atcDave says:

        And it embittered a previously very enthusiastic fan base.

  18. revdr says:

    Mine too, Thinkling; Sarah’s journey was a long hard road for her, and it was fun to watch the layers being peeled away. Every episode brought something new for her; and every action (and reaction) was great to behold. I often say that the first 4 episodes of S2 were a good barometer of Sarah’s growth, but every episode brought something new to light, all the way to Goodbye (I must admit). Everything that she did; everything that she experienced was a milestone for her. From “throw away your watch” to the first “I love you”, everything was a first. Admitting her hopes and dreams a outright saying that she wanted to end the spy life,,,wow.

    • atcDave says:

      That’s a huge part of why Baby is a favorite of mine. For Sarah Walker to get to that point of saying no thank you to the CIA. Sarah who claims being a spy is all she’s good at in Crown Vic, or all she is without Chuck in Phase Three…. Just amazing.

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly so. And even though Bo is not nearly as satisfying an episode as Baby is, Sarah is again adorable and amazing with her planning of their new business and taking charge of her normal life … the one she asked for in Baby.

    • thinkling says:

      I think that’s why I like S5 the best. She has pretty much completed the journey, or she’s in the home stretch, and she applies the same confidence and command (with only a hint of timidity) to her normal life as she did in earlier seasons to her spy like.

      • atcDave says:

        Look at Sarah in Hack Off! Yeah that’s amazing growth, anytime she starts giving relationship advice I love it.

  19. revdr says:

    I can accept Hannah’s importance in Chuck’s growth, because, when all is said and done it is Hannah that helps Chuck to finally realize what was really important to him…Sarah. Unfortunately, it took him being an absolute jerk to realize this. And, it also showed him that at least, on some level, what Sarah told him in Pink Slip was coming true: he was losing a part of himself. There is a conversation that Chuck and Sarah have in castle (in Mask no less) that have the two of them talking about letting go…and moving on. Sarah realizing to she needed to let Chuck go in order for him to grow, and Chuck admitting that seeing her with Shaw was killing him, yet they both continue to deny the truth: that they belong together. Sarah’s sigh was heartbreaking. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, or, in this case, trapezoids, either, but in fact, the end did justify the means. It wasn’t done well, but I’ll take the end results.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m sorry rev but I’m not buying any of that. There was absolutely no need to go there after S2. I’ve seen a hundred ways of telling that story with no triangles. And ultimately, that’s the thing with fiction. The writer choses a device to accomplish an end. If the result is unappealing to the audience, the device was a mistake. In pretty much every case imaginable a different device could have been chosen to accomplish the same end. The fact we all liked the end point of the S3 front arc in no way validates the path chosen to get there, those are two completely separate issues. Even Marc who advocates the necessity of Hannah went and wrote an alternate S3 in which Hannah is not a love interest, and in fact, there are no OLIs at all. I can think of few things that demonstrate the point more clearly than that. It was a mistake plain and simple. They made both main characters unrecognizable and unlikable for too long in the main arc. It was lousy story-telling and lousy entertainment. That is of course my opinion, and the more time passes the more comfortable I am with it.

      • revdr says:

        Oh, you’ll get no argument from me Dave. I’m with you on every point. My hope always was that they would start season 3 as a couple, with each of them guiding each other through all of that unchartered territory that they both would be traveling. Alas, that wasn’t the case and pretty much 12 of the first 13 episodes were misspent. But there were moments, due mostly to great acting by the principles that still stand out. The love triangle thing though, played out after Jill. There was no need to revisit that. I was just pointing out the revelations that both Chuck and Sarah experienced given what we were left with.

      • authorguy says:

        Read nine2five. That’s the essence of the story right there.

      • authorguy says:

        You can’t really compare nine2five with S3 in that respect, Dave, since one of the starting points of my story was that Chuck didn’t want to be a spy. The choice he had to make in canon wasn’t an issue in my story. I kept the parts of Hannah that mattered and I aimed them in the right directions (at Sarah).
        I don’t see the LI aspect of Hannah as being necessary to her symbolic role as the second horn of his dilemma, though, and I wish they hadn’t done it. I’m not sure how easy it would have been to differentiate the two, though, given time pressure. It could have been done easily if they’d had ten episodes to develop a relationship based on respect for each others’ abilities, but they didn’t, and the LI trope was the fastest tool they had for that. I unpack that trope and see the meanings within, but most viewers would not.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay rev, we’re on the same page then!

        Marc I can agree with some of that, but I think the breaking point for me and many viewers, is that trope you’re willing to blandly accept. THAT is the very thing that destroys or undermines the entire story, because it carries so much emotional weight with it. It becomes THE story, not whatever other point a writer is trying to make.
        It’s like trying to discuss the fine points of the tomato in a habanero salsa. No matter how important the cook might think his tomato choice was, the habanero is going to define the experience for most tasters. If the cook really wants the salsa to be about the tomato, he will probably need to choose a different pepper! And I can’t believe that metaphor worked as long as it did…

      • authorguy says:

        I didn’t ‘blandly accept it’, that’s what you did. I took it apart, unpacked it, and found the meaning that made the story work.

      • thinkling says:

        I’ve unpacked it plenty, and I understand what’s in there. Just b/c I don’t like it doesn’t mean I don’t understand it or haven’t analyzed it or come across that aha piece of the puzzle. Understanding it does help me a little, in that it can change how I think about the season. However, nothing has been able to change the way it makes me feel.

        And here’s the other thing. There are several components at work: the main story component, Chuck needing to become a spy with this new and dangerous Intersect (or the story gets stuck in an eddy); and the romance component, Chuck and Sarah need to become a couple (or the relationship — the heart of the show — stagnates). There are various ways that these elements can interact and play out. As I unpack all of this, it looks to me like the driving force behind what was crafted was the absolute necessity (on the part of the show runners, but not the story itself — and certainly not for a lot of fans) to (A) bring in another round of OLIs and (B) keep CS apart until episode 13. OK, so they crafted a story that made Chuck a spy (sort of) and (finally) got CS together (after the requisite affairs and subsequent character damage). One can connect the dots in a way that makes pseudo sense of it all (albeit with some pretty strenuous gymnastics). It is a (barely, imo) valid way to proceed from the end of S2. However, I don’t personally think what was crafted (in order to accommodate tired TV trope and sustain wt/wt until the magic episode) was the best or most satisfying route to the desired ends. I can think of other routes that (for me) would have achieved the same ends in a more compelling and satisfying way.

      • authorguy says:

        Actually, one can connect the dots in a way that makes perfect sense of it all, but unfortunately that requires a lot more skill and time than they likely had. As I said before, nine2five is not what canon S3 really had in there, but I’m not Shakespeare, and I don’t have the talent or the desire to make the trek into Hamlet-like levels of drama that a proper telling of canon S3 would require. I like my stories lighter in tone, and nine2five is the best I could do to capture that essence in a light and fun and Chuck-like way. Could they have done what I did? Sure, but they would have had to do what I did, and give up the Buy More, not make Chuck a spy, and marry the leads. Their penchant for separating the leads forced them into a much darker story that they had neither the skill nor the time to tell, or the audience to watch. But the story was there and those dots did connect.
        And I don’t want to reopen any more of the S3 discussion than I already have. It’s bad enough we did this much.

      • atcDave says:

        Too late to protest opening the can of worms! Marc we all can connect the dots. We’ve all watched years worth of television and know how these things work. We all get it. But getting it is not liking it. You keep trying to explain something that requires no explanation. For most of us, it has our well earned, and fully comprehended contempt. It was a terrible choice that failed in more ways than it succeeded.
        It stands out largely because it was the only major misstep in five years. Not to say everything else was perfect or loved by all. But this is one element that is most likely to always be rejected by a large portion of the audience. Including those who understand it completely.

      • authorguy says:

        Your contempt is not the issue. You say you can connect the dots and then you say that Hannah is not important or necessary to the story. Those two statements do not work together.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh brother Marc.

      • thinkling says:
        Your contempt is not the issue. You say you can connect the dots and then you say that Hannah is not important or necessary to the story. Those two statements do not work together.

        For someone who started this whole conversation to remind us (me) that we are discussing our opinions, you take an awfully authoritative tone, Marc … almost as if you’re asserting facts instead instead of the opinions they happen to be. You’re not, right? I mean you do realize that your statement, “Hannah was by far the most important of Chuck’s three ALIs,” is just an opinion.

      • authorguy says:

        True enough. If your concern is sandwiches, Lou is more important…
        Each of the first three seasons had its own importance, and the LIs reflected that. The importance of the LI would depend to some extent on your relative rankings of the seasons, or the storylines in them. There are objective measures of quality, just as there are objective standards of beauty, and I go by those for the most part. But the objective measures are not the largest part of a judgment of beauty for most people.

      • thinkling says:

        What Dave said.

      • oldresorter says:

        somebody suffering from a little god complex, kind of like morgan in frosted tips – lol

    • authorguy says:

      Sometimes that’s the way even the best people learn, especially when they are unused to power. Chuck had never had this sort of choice available to him before. The growth is that it only took him one try to discover what he did wrong and never do it again.

      • Christopher says:

        This is why Chuck being the only one to have the Intersect is so important because he had the ability to choose morality over the computer in his head He knew the power and the responsibility that comes with it. Chuck’s problem was that no matter how often Sarah showed that she loved Chuck, Chuck was stuck with this idea that she only stepped into his life because of the supercomputer in his head. This may be true in the beginning, but after sticking with him for 3 years. He should of been more comfortable especially when she tells him all the time in season 3 “Don’t lose the things that make you great.” or in the Final Exam

        Chuck: Than I would be just a regular guy
        Sarah: and there is nothing wrong with that.

        or in Fear of Death while giving him a massage

        Chuck: but am I a spy
        Sarah: Yes, but your Chuck Bartowski and you do well all on your own

        Sarah was never just interested in him because of the Intersect. She has always loved him because of being a regular guy

      • authorguy says:

        Chuck was never a regular guy, and Sarah should have taken that line with him. I understand he was intended to be that in the beginning, but the show never really portrayed him as just a normal guy, and the mythology made him ever more special.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Marc I think in important ways Chuck was always extraordinary. But had an everyman, or everynerd sort of appeal. He was relatable, at least early on.

      • revdr says:

        Chris that’s true, but you have to remember that Chuck and Sarah were terrible at communicating. In Phase Three you may remember, Morgan brought to light that Sarah never really told Chuck that she loved him whether he had the intersect or not. And Chuck was always intimidated by Sarah being a “superspy”. The intersect at that point had become a crutch, as it turned out, for both of them, because in Fear of Death, Sarah’s fear of Chuck without it was glaringly pointed out with everyone present. While she encouraged him on the surface, she was less than enthusiastic about his abilities without having the intersect in play.

    • Christopher says:

      Rev, The things for me is I actually feel bad for Sarah because I didn’t like Chuck’s decision and how he did it in Prague, but I understand why he did it. Much like I understand the both of them letting each other go in the mask. but for me again Chuck was not seeing the pain he was causing for Sarah. I don’t think Shaw really did anything wrong here when he flirted with Sarah I mean look at her wouldn’t you if you knew she was single
      Think of this Chuck tells her no in prague meets hannah in paris and ends up with Hannah than Sarah is at Chuck’s apartment feeling alive because she is there and to watch on camera another woman sitting at the table that she prepared a table she has been sitting at for 3 years this is a lot for the heart to take especially who is not use to exposing herself emotional like that

      • revdr says:

        Hey Chris; I felt badly for her too. It was a giant leap for Sarah to put herself out there. Her decision to run away with Chuck spoke volumes. She was ready to change her life. And then, to be rejected like that, after everything she did to be with him was more than just a glancing blow. The walls that were beginning to come down before Prague were fortified. For a person like Sarah, to be rejected, was just another in a long line of disappointments that had ruled her life. Everyone that she allowed herself to care about left her. She had broken the first rule of spying (spys don’t fall in love) and it hurt. But like I said, just because Chuck said no, she didn’t just fall out of love with him. So to have to not only start working with Chuck again, but then to see him with another woman, Hannah, who was seeming perfect for him was more than a little hard. She rose above it all, ever the professional, but she knew that she needed to move on. And who just happen to be there? Shaw. He was attentive, heroic, all spy. Another release, but just another. port in the storm. If she never finally gotten together with Chuck, I don’t think that Sarah would have never gotten back to that place to allow herself to let go. She already considered herself to be nothing more than “just a spy” and this experience, in her mind,only served to affirm that this for her. Chuck grounded her. Without him, she would never let go like that again.

  20. revdr says:

    I think that the point that both of you, Dave and authorguy are trying to make is that the focus should have been Chuck realizing that his concept of normal, and the reality of what he really was, extraordinary, was the story. For Sarah, on the other hand, it should have been about being in love, and being real, for the first time in her life. It’s a road that they should have been on together, instead, they buried the lead for most of 3.0. Authorguy is right though; Chuck needed to learn how to use a power that was new, and unknown to him (“With great power comes great responsibility…sorry Spidey). We saw it later, but the Hannah and Shaw debacle just prolonged things. We could have gotten there better, and I think easier, but even with that being said we still learned a few things about both of them along the way.

    • atcDave says:

      Rev I agree completely with that. The difference of opinion has long been over if that story was actually told, or if it was failed attempt. I’ll always say failed attempt. I think they focused on a distraction that undermined what could have been. And I think they should have known better.

    • Christopher says:

      The thing is in Truth we learn that Sarah has two sides to her, and for the first time Sarah Walker the girlfriend is out for us to see. No matter who the girl was Chuck was interested in it could of been Michelle Obama. The reality is up until now in the story Sarah thought Chuck would never want to seek a relationship, he never indicated such. The fact is for 6 episodes they were still trying to figure each other out. remember the previous episode was that they learned that Bryce Larkin was looking out for Chuck the others were still introductory episodes so not much was reveal except for a lot of flirting by Sarah when she could and she quickly covered by using the word cover. For example, in Sandworm she didn’t need to be waiting in the room to give him the picture which he clearly sees as another lie. In Sizzling Shrimp she rubs dirt off his shoulder and fixes his hair, all gentle but flirting the same, In Sarah’s mind everything was going to plan her feelings can develop and still maintain her agent status. remember he is my asset, he is my guy

      The idea that another woman, who 1. is not working for the government 2. generally likes Chuck for Chuck 3. the relationship is not started on lies. at this point Sarah has told lie after lie to Chuck. The other thing is when he introduces Sarah to Lou its not easy for him because in his mind they are not together, but since he does not know how to handle this situation Sarah just in an innocent way claimed Chuck as hers and with a smile to boot. now we move to the parking lot in which Chuck was just reminded again that their mission for the night was strictly for cover, and here is where we start to see Sarah the girlfriend. Is it really a cover anymore? she sees Chuck talking with Lou and for the first time since she met Chuck she is realizing that the feelings inside her are starting to reach her throat, to pursue a relationship no too soon, but not wanting someone else to be with him absolutely not. it makes the “cover easier” she can still do her job if he was dating someone else much like this notion she wouldn’t of been able to do her job if they were together from the start.

      Sarah Walker the girlfriend is really the one in this one that was on a cover because Agent Walker was covering for her. again the body and facial expressions were the tells in this one not so much the words we won’t get the words, body, and facial expressions to link at the earliest Elle’s wedding/ For me when you watch how Sarah reacts to Chuck at the beach wedding it was clear to me than that Sarah Walker the girlfriend was ready for a relationship. She was ready to choose Chuck over duty

      This is why I keep saying that no matter who Chuck went out with or claimed interest in Sarah around, who is protective of him already and is developing feelings for him whether directly or indirectly will try to foil Chuck because its her who she wants Chuck with. Its something that is unique especially for soul mates. I really feel that Sarah and Chuck are soulmates and the way they reconnect after rough patches is great storytelling. The best thing about all these hiccups that they faced after the other guy they never were without each other, which in my book is the best result because they been through it all.

  21. Christopher says:

    Actually, I feel that the way the story played in season 3 is better for me than a lot of some of how the arcs ended the only problem for me is Elle actually, and this is the season that through me through a loop because of always telling Chuck to get a real job, which he does but she does not like it so it has to be over. I don’t like her snooping around on Chuck. I understand she raised him on her own since she was 12, but there is boundaries. There is no need for her to go through his suitcase. if he elects not to tell her about Paris thats up to Chuck. The only one that I felt that had a right to know what Chuck was doing really was Sarah, once they got together. but thats just me.

    • authorguy says:

      Ellie was never properly employed as a character. But given their history, where Chuck would normally tell her everything, the idea that he would accomplish a lifelong dream without telling her is hard to imagine. Less hard to accept is her insistence that Chuck quit the spy game, or that he would so readily acquiesce, given the efforts he made to get there in the first place. Ellie, like Beckman, was more plot device than character.

      • revdr says:

        I agree; Ellie was never properly used, at least until season 4 when they finally allowed her to use her knowledge as a neurologist and brought her into the inner circle. It always bothered me that TPTB went out of their way to enhance Morgan’s role and not that of Ellie’s.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah at the very least I would have liked for Ellie to take up the Orion mantle half a season sooner.

    • Christopher says:

      I have mentioned before on this blog that I love the Shaw character in season 3, I didn’t care to much for Shaw in season 5 after Decker claimed Shaw to be just a pawn and he turned out to be the mastermind, but we have been down that road before and I don’t want to get into trouble

  22. First Impression says:

    Although a rather deep episode, it was a fun one too. Chuck and Sarah have a double-date with Ellie and Awesome. Devon seems way too interested in their lack of a love life, but I guess that’s just the cheerleader coming through. Sarah suggests the ‘make love’ date to solidify their cover (hot coffee) and the next day Chuck meets Lou. Here is a real and very pretty girl who is interested in Chuck. Hmm. It’s good to see a little jealousy in Sarah’s eyes.

    The ‘make love’ date is great. I like how Sarah will tease him about something (candles & music) then he gets to turn the tables on her (the lingerie). (It’s like in the Pilot when she teased him about his name, then later Chuck calls her out on the boyfriend named ‘Bruce’.) By this time Ellie had already been poisoned by the fake cop and the drug is working. I really enjoyed watching her point out the things she didn’t like about Devon, especially how if everything is awesome it just means things are mediocre.

    Casey shows up to find the new bug, but not really to save the day. That seems to be Chuck’s strength. Casey can still accept the loss of a person as part of the job. Sarah may be wavering, but Chuck can see no other choice but to help. After the fight, chase, and poisoning at the hospital, it’s fun to see the trio sitting on the floor waiting to die while Casey spins the wheel on the wheelchair. (Casey finds joy in such unusual objects like this and the bonsai tree.) Again Casey and Sarah are willing to accept the loss of a person as part of the job, but Chuck finds the way to save them by finding the bad guy.

    I like the sloppy way the each entered the next scene, drugged but somehow still functioning and not quite as sharp as usual. While Casey and Sarah seem to answer questions truthfully (Who’s better at picking locks? “I am.”; “She is.”), I enjoyed Chuck’s babbling: “…so beautiful… jaw was chiseled by Michelangelo himself…NSA, CIA and me.” The truth continues with “partner” and “unsportsmanlike”. Then the fun grinds to a halt when Sarah said ‘No’ to Chuck’s question about if anything would ever happen between them. It was heartbreaking even when you find out she had been trained to withstand pentathol.

    So Chuck likes Lou, but he won’t pursue her unless he knows there is no chance with Sarah. Sarah knew about Lou. She could have said yes, maintained the status quo, kept Chuck dangling and Lou out of the picture. She said no. Why did she say no? To protect herself? Chuck? Her job? The mission? Now Chuck takes back some control of his own life to end the fake relationship and begin a real one. Understandable, but it’s tough watching Sarah’s eyes to see the shock, disappointment and rejection.

    (These are just views from a newbie who has only seen S1.)

    • atcDave says:

      It’s been pointed out by some that Chuck asked the wrong question. Even though Sarah has had the resistance training, she answered truthfully if we assume she saw no possibility of things ever going anywhere with Chuck. Perhaps if Chuck had asked if she was interested or if she wanted things to go anywhere he would have gotten a more interesting answer!
      The ending here is quite effective. And a conflicted/jealous Sarah next will be entertaining.

  23. bubbasuess says:

    The first time I watched this episode I fell asleep and missed a fair amount of the episode. Mind you, that reflects more on what I did during the day than anything on Chuck. The second time I watched it I must have been really distracted because I missed so much. I am now at the beginning of my own rewatch and man, after having seen this episode, I noticed a number of things that escaped me before (which isn’t saying much, since it is easy to miss things when you are asleep). I’ll just throw out a few things I picked up, just for fun:

    1. I thought it was interesting how the pentathol made Casey into a polite, nice guy. He was kind, sentimental and seemed to care what others thought about him. It was actually sort of touching, in a funny way.

    2. When the bad guy gets shot in the knee, there was a Wilhelm Scream! It figures one would show up in a show like Chuck at some point!

    3. Chuck’s has a couple of great lines near the end. The whole bit at the door about the CIA, NSA and me… was hilarious. I also liked the exchange with the antidote: “Chuck, did you flash?” “No, but I have read a lot of comics!”. Good stuff.

    4. I wonder if Chuck’s comment about Casey’s chin was a subtle jab at the villain’s chin.

    5. It was heart breaking when Chuck breaks up with Sarah. The way she looks at him the moment before he tells her, she is expecting him to kiss her and she is not fighting it at all because she wants him to do it.

    6. It was even more heart breaking when Sarah watches Chuck and Lou. After her disappointment of getting dumped instead of kissed, now she is on the outside looking in, in more ways than one.

    As noted in the review, this was certainly a funny episode. It is one where the layers of jokes are only evident on repeated viewings.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that bubbasuess. Glad you stayed awake this time!

      • Christopher says:

        Chuck v The Truth is an episode I feel offers alot more to the relationship of Charah we have talked about how she fell in love during the pilot but there is a difference between feeling it and doing something about it

        For the first time Sarah is forced into showing something she never knew she had jealousy for one and the second had to act on the feelings she has for Chuck see she didnt need to show anything up until Lou because there was no threat now another woman was showing interest in her “cover” Boyfriend and return he was interested in Lou so what would a normal woman do in this situation she ups the ante

        I have always found this episode as the start if there relationship because the truth was not for Chuck but for Sarah The truth she was feeling something for him and the truth sometimes hurts especially if the job finds out

  24. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Truth (1.08) | Chuck This

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