Chuck vs The Imported Hard Salami (1.09)

The season one arc continues directly from Truth.  Chuck continues his attempt to make a more real life for himself, Sarah tries to alternately help and sabotage his efforts, Morgan makes some big changes in his life, and we’re rewarded with a spectacular wrap-up/cliffhanger.  Let’s get started with the ninth episode of Chuck season one!

My favorite parts here are all Sarah, and I don’t mean that in the most obvious way.  But her alternating attempts to believe in Chuck and help him, while simultaneously wanting to trip him up are the best thing about this episode to me.  Starting with her plea not to break up; we can feel her pain through a wonderful performance.  She struggles to maintain her professionalism and not lead Chuck on, yet we know its herself she’s fooling, and if she could just come clean the short term problem would be fixed.  But she can’t face what that could mean in the big picture; from risking reassignment and possibly even her career, to the possibility of a bunker order for Chuck.  So Sarah tries to take the pain on herself, and let Chuck go free.  Trying to defend Chuck’s wishes to General Beckman, while Casey needles her. Then crashing in on Chuck’s date at the first excuse.  Jumping right to encouraging Chuck and giving him intel on Lou’s flower preferences.

This is one conflicted lady.

I think the most epic and memorable part of the episode is the sequence from Chuck and Sarah’s spat while locked in a trunk together, to an entertaining failed interrogation, to the non-bomb defusing and first real kiss. That not quite 10 minute stretch defines this episode for me.  And that is what makes this episode entertaining.

But for now, I’m not going to say much more than that. I do want to emphasize that I don’t dislike this episode.  But again, I consider it weak and boring apart from the climax mentioned above.  I’m sure I’ll find plenty to say later and in comments.  But I believe I am radically out of step with much of the fandom on this one.  It’s no fun for any of us for me to go on about an episode I find dull.

~ Dave

Hard to believe Ernie and Dave aren’t on the same page with this one…

Dull, I could see that argument for the first bit of the show, but I just consider too much of it too funny.  But Dave has a point.  The action is slow to start in this one.  There isn’t a single fight or gun pointed at anyone for nearly the first 30 minutes.  It is to paraphrase Morgan, when we need to talk about our emotions and stuff.  But oh those last ten do pack in quite a lot of show.  We do agree on that.  But I found plenty of entertainment in those first 30 minutes and a lot of character development that pays off later.

As I mentioned in last week’s post’s comments I see the Lou/Bryce arc as where the show-runners started to first settle into their unique formula.  Mostly episodic with a few serialized stories that span the season and a few that span a few episodes.  We aren’t quite to their “3 is the magic number” phase, but this is where we see them start to tweak the format that took them to the stratospheric heights they reached creatively in season two.

First thing I want to mention is that this is where Yvonne started to find her stride if you ask me.  She plays Sarah playing the jilted girl come to see her boyfriend perfectly.  The subtlety and the body language and their shifts show you a master at the top of her craft, both Sarah and Yvonne.  Even Chuck, who has gotten pretty used to fakin’ it sees the lines blur when Sarah tearfully begins to “sell it”.  Because as Casey delights in pointing out, she got dumped.

Is Sarah conflicted?  I think she is becoming so.  She can’t help but defend Chuck as a “reasonably charming guy” who doesn’t have any problem attracting women when Beckman acts surprised that the nerd got a girl.  Justifying your own feelings by proxy?  But what this really is is a part of Sarah’s character that will run through the entire series emerging.  She looks at Chuck and sees someone who everyone else sells short due to his past and present life.  She sees the man he is becoming more and more as he always finds a way to save the day.  Seeing him continually taken for granted, underestimated, and pushed into risky situations he isn’t really equipped to handle brings out another character trait that runs through a lot of the show, her over-protective side.  Sarah is doing a bit of overcompensating, but for now we’ll cut her a break.  This is after all the first time she got dumped.  At least by Chuck.  Unfortunately she’ll get a lot more experience on that front in coming years.

Want to see where Sarah really is, and the real start of Yvonne’s mastering that character?   There are a few short seconds in the briefing where Sarah reacts to Chuck calling Lou his girlfriend.  The way she steals sidelong glances and steels herself, knowing that Beckman is watching, but unable to stop herself from reacting is priceless.  At this point most of us hadn’t really learned the importance of reading Sarah, and to be fair this seems to be just the start of Yvonne and TPTB learning to use it.

For Chuck, this week is a continuation of a trend, pushing back against the limits his handlers and the CIA have imposed on him.  It’s just in small ways at first, but here we see it in its developing stages.  We could say it’s growing pains in the team, but the push-back continues throughout season 2, culminating in a rogue raid on Rourke Industries to get the intersect out of his head.  Chuck is still a loyal team member though, and he takes one for the team, more than once.  From the RK2 mini-mic oh so cleverly disguised within a fashion crime to having to spend more time talking to his dates ex than his date just to get some intel, to having Sarah blow the date for him, to having to let Lou leave so he can plant the cleverly disguised bug where they’ll get some intel.

I can see Chuck’s point.  The government seems determined to keep him from dating.  Or at least dating successfully.

Though most fans don’t give them a lot of attention, even the Nerd Herders and Buy Morons get some depth and direction added.  Morgan, after being annoyingly resentful of Chuck spending more time with Sarah is now starting to try to fill the void left by Chuck.  IT is amusing to watch.  He really has no clue about what to do without Chuck to act as an example.  It is a bit of a tragic part of Morgan’s character.  We eventually learn he was without a father most of his life, making his repeated need for and grasping for a male role model simultaneuosly believable, funny, and in an odd way, endearing.  Think of Awesome in Sandworm or Big Mike or Casey later in the series.  With Chuck a lot more scarce the little bearded one really is trying to figure out who Morgan is, other than a slacker sidekick (as were the writers I suspect).

Oh yeah, and Jeff is creepy, and Lester overcompensates for his all too evident insecurities when it comes to women.  Sarah seeing and capitalizing on this was both hilarious, and smart spy-work.  The fact that it undoubtedly upped Chuck’s image in the eyes of the nerds of BuyMoria was just an incidental side effect I’m sure.

Last take, kind of an uncomfortable moment.

The Kiss and the aftermath is a very interesting development.  Chuck doesn’t really understand the limits the spy life puts on him and Sarah, and Sarah can’t quite bring herself to vocalize them, but in one of the brilliant parallels Chuck does right, we see it.

It is the source of conflict, largely unacknowledged till next season, but again, we see the seeds laid here.

All in all, for all the slow start and talky parts, one of my 30-ish top twenty episodes.

~ Ernie

Joe’s Conflicted Take

You’re sure right about Sarah here, Dave & Ernie. Very conflicted. She’s almost besides herself, turning this way and that way in almost every scene, not quite sure to take the left or the right fork in the road. Except when she’s about to devour Lester, of course. Sarah seems very sure of herself then. 😉

I keeeed, but that’s only because I love the character. When you get right down to it, it’s not a good way to treat Chuck.

Ball of Confusion

I’d like to ask everyone this question, but you have to think back really hard to the first time you saw the episode. Were any of you as confused about Sarah’s true feelings as I, back then? Really, a part of me says I shouldn’t have been that confused, and Chuck should not have been confused either. After all, Sarah really did explain it perfectly clearly to Chuck early on.

Chuck: Can I ask you a question? This whole time, did you ever really like me?
Sarah: Honestly?
Chuck: Yeah. Let’s try that for the first time since we met. Ha.
Sarah: Chuck, you are everything that I’m looking for. I just can’t look right now.
Chuck: Well, thank you, for being honest. The next time your phone breaks, please take it to the Large Mart.

Sarah is always straight forward, if hard to understand.

When I think about it, Chuck looks as wishy-washy as Sarah at this point (so, maybe you’re right to feel a bit ‘meh’). He annoyingly tells her every chance he gets that his feelings are true and even profound. THEN he immediately falls for Lou, my favorite PLI? Really? Does it really make sense for him to be giving up on this amazing Sarah Walker person right now for the first petite brunette that comes waltzing into the Buy More?

Well, I’m gonna vote yes on that, not only because I love Rachel Bilson. It just makes sense. As much as I had trouble understanding Sarah at this point, I understood Chuck. He’s more conflicted than she is right now, but at least he’s got a good reason. After all, Chuck’s had his life turned upside down and inside out by someone who obviously cares very much about his well being but then tells him outright that she’s just doing her job. This unique person who treats him so well, who obviously cares, also threatens to return to DC at any point he stops listening to her. Sarah is someone who still has feelings for Bryce Larkin even as she calls him a rogue spy. The exciting life she holds out for Chuck is not the safe Buy More; it’s the most dangerous thing he’s ever experienced, for him and for his friends and family. Is he scared? You betcha.

In truth, Chuck can live with all that. As we’ll see in just a bit, Chuck is not a coward even when he is scared. It’s only that this pretend girlfriend/boyfriend stuff is too much.

Chuck’s thinking over the question. The down side of his situation is the emotional turmoil, which is even worse than the effects of being – uh – trapped in a supply closet with Sarah, Chuck has discovered. The upside? Well, like Morgan says, it is Sarah Walker, after all. Chuck is on the fence, emotionally, but his decision is firm about one thing. The cover has to go and Chuck’s going to do his best to make that happen. Despite appearances, there’s nothing wishy-washy about it.

We haven’t mentioned much about the actual story line in this episode, so I’ll briefly fill it in here. Yes, Chuck has made an attempt at ending the cover relationship with Sarah. He finds it too difficult to maintain the façade. What he doesn’t know, and what the fans want to believe, is that Sarah does too. That doesn’t mean they can go their separate ways.

Chuck and Sarah are joined at the hip now, and even having a new girlfriend like Lou doesn’t remove Chuck from the center of Sarah’s spy life. Lou’s ex is the son of an arms smuggler, and Chuck flashes on that pretty quickly.

Chuck’s blundering doesn’t get him into trouble this time. Sarah’s does. Because she sets up, then interrupts, Chuck’s date, Lou is caught being in contact with her ex and using him to smuggle questionable substances into the country. Chuck is, of course, outraged that the CIA, the NSA and most particularly Sarah, are hot on the case of a girl who’s merely trying to get meats and cheeses past customs in a timely manner. The problem is, there’s a real dangerous item being smuggled too.

Heroes run towards the fire, right? Chuck and Sarah argue full bore even as they run towards the device that’s ominously counting down to zero. Sarah frantically tries to disarm the device.

Sarah: Did you flash?
Chuck: No. Nothing. Come on. Com’mon com’mon, baby. Don’t fail me now!
Sarah: Okay – that’s enough. Run – I’m gonna try to stay and defuse it.
Chuck: No! I’m not leaving you here.
Sarah: Go! That is an order!
Chuck: No!
Sarah: [pulling a gun on Chuck] I. said. go!
Chuck: On, I see. You’re gonna shoot me to prevent me from being blown up? That’s a great plan!
Sarah: Why are you so stubborn??!!
Chuck: Actually, I consider this a rare moment of courage. I don’t know where it’s coming from, I guess you just bring out the worst in me.
Sarah: And you in me!
5 – 4 – 3 –
Chuck: It was nice knowing you.
– 2 – kiss – 1 – no boom

Sarah: Well, the good news is that we’re still alive. And the bad news is that this is kind of an uncomfortable moment right now.
Chuck: It’s completely comfortable on my end. Just sayin’.

Well, we heard the boom. Sarah grabbed Chuck and planted one on him like we haven’t seen before – their first kiss. For separate reasons, Chuck and Sarah can barely stand to speak of it. I, however, can’t say enough.

You Must Remember This

Stubborn people

This past week I happened to see the penultimate episodes of the shows I regularly watch on television. It was the same thing. Rachael Leigh Cook’s Kate Moretti risked everything for Eric McCormack’s Daniel Pierce and then kissed him passionately for the first time in the first season of Perception. Piper Perabo’s Annie Walker dances with and (again) passionately kisses Chris Gorham’s Augie Anderson in Covert Affairs– finally.

This coming week promises more, with Tony and Ziva trapped in an elevator after a bomb explodes at the NCIS headquarters. And of course, we’re all anticipating the season premier of Castle. Kate Becket remembers everything – enuf said. These are all watershed moments that cause the audience to sit up and notice the characters. For us, that first kiss for Chuck and Sarah, done in the deafening silence of the bomb, elevates this episode to unforgettable, if only for that moment.

That first conversation I quoted? Yes, I know. That wasn’t Chuck and Sarah, but Lou and Chuck, respectively. It tells us he understands much more about Sarah Walker than I did up to now.

Lou: Can I ask you a question? This whole time, did you ever really like me?
Chuck: Honestly?
Lou: Yeah. Let’s try that for the first time since we met. Ha.
Chuck: Lou, you are everything that I’m looking for. I just can’t look right now.
Lou: Well, thank you, for being honest. The next time my phone breaks, I’m going to the Large Mart.

Chuck: Lou? I’m really sorry.
Lou: Don’t be. Secret agent or not, that’s the best kiss I’ve had in a long time.

It was probably Chuck’s best kiss too, up to that point.

We had to sit through the majority of the episode to get set up right, but that explosive kiss was everything, because, even if Sarah is conflicted (and she is) – and even if she fights it more than she already has (and she will) – from that moment on, Chuck is no longer confused about Sarah’s feelings. Now, it’s only a question of what to do about it, if anything.

But like a good-bad late-nite cable TV ad, “Wait! There’s more!!!” Oh, there most certainly is. We briefly get to see the entrance of one of my favorite non-recurring bad-guys, Anthony Ruivivar as Tommy.

And that bomb? An explosion would be less traumatic. Bryce Larkin has returned to really blow up Sarah’s life.

– joe

Chuck Firsts in Chuck Versus The Imported Hard Salami

While technically last week, thematically it belongs to this week, Sarah gets dumped by Chuck.  I’ll also add first realized OLI.

Chuck “takes off his watch” for the first, but certainly not last time.

I guess we shouldn’t really attempt to deny or save the big one.  First for reelz Chuck and Sarah kiss!  Squees abound before they are inevitably crushed next episode for the first time.

First “not quite dead” guest star returns.


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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57 Responses to Chuck vs The Imported Hard Salami (1.09)

  1. ref51907 says:

    I like all your takes on the episode. Explosion is the right word. For me this is when the Chuck/Sarah dynamic really starts to take off. Sarah’s words, though few, speak volumes, when she tells him, that she never really thought their time together was work. Think back to the times she was with him and his family. That is a very simple statement to make, yet packed with meaning.
    The honesty when she said that was written all over her face, and reflected in how she said it. I dare say that is one of the few times during season one when she was honest with herself and Chuck. And if you watch closely Chuck gave her a small, half grin, that quickly disappeared. What I can’t figure out is if he understood what she was trying to tell him.
    A thought just occurred to me. Maybe I am just slow and didn’t recognized it at first but we see here what Sarah would do if she was sure they were going to die; the same thing Chuck did one episode earlier. Chuck asked her about feelings, Sarah told Chuck about her feelings with the kiss.

    Now maybe it is just me, but I was never a big fan of Morgan and Anna. It seems to me that she just felt sorry for him. Perhaps I am wrong.

    One of my favorite scenes is inside the van with Sarah and Casey when he tells her that he is not interested. I laugh every time I hear that one.


    • joe says:

      Heh! Those are all memorable scenes, Erik – especially Casey telling Sarah “Just so we’re clear sister, not interested.” Funny.

      I didn’t mind Anna and Morgan together so much. I almost think that they had intended more for the Julia Ling character, some growth and changes that were started but never completed because of the budget situation. (To which, I add “Bah!”) It could have easily become good.

      As for being “slow”, Erik, I understand the feeling, but nah. They (TPTB) were expert at putting Sarah exactly on that line that always gave us lingering doubt about her feelings for Chuck, right up to the last possible moment in each stage of their relationship. Call it, plausible deniability – “Okay, they got this far. Will she want to go further???”

      That’s the way they wanted us to think.

  2. resaw says:

    Despite the fact that I found Lou (or perhaps it’s just Rachel Bilson) annoying, I loved this episode. Who wouldn’t? It was the show that sent 8 million Chuck-watching hearts a-flutter. I agree that Yvonne is really hitting her stride here. Perhaps one of the best scenes for me was a shot of her listening in through the bug on Chuck while he and Lou are in the club. She has such a forlorn look on her face. That’s just before the conversation she has with Casey:

    Sarah: “Maybe I should go in.”
    Casey: “Same bit with you, huh.”
    Sarah: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    Casey: “You need me to spell it out? You fall for the guys you work with. First, Bryce. Now, our boy, Chuck.”
    Sarah: “Bryce was a mistake, and (with a dismissive laugh) I haven’t fallen for Chuck.”
    Casey: “Yeah, whatever you say. And just so we’re clear, sister, not interested.”

    That dismissive laugh was great. She certainly couldn’t admit how much she had already fallen for Chuck, not to Casey, not to Chuck, not even to herself.

    One more scene that I really liked. Early in this episode, when Chuck tells Morgan that he broke up with Sarah because she wasn’t the “right girl,” I just loved Morgan’s reaction:
    Morgan: “Right girl? Are you out of your mind?!”
    That perspective is reiterated by Lester:
    Lester: “Right girl? What does that mean?”

    I agree, in part, with Erik’s comment that Anna’s behaviour with Morgan seemed to driven more by sympathy than for affection, but perhaps what attracted her to him was his vulnerability.

    Thanks for the reviews, gentlemen. I look forward to reading the coming week’s conversations….

    • joe says:

      When it came to Sarah, Morgan always thought that Chuck was out of his mind! 😉 “So I ask again – why wouldn’t you call this girl?” he asks in the pilot. It’s because Chuck lives in the real world.

      I think that’s what I like about Morgan. He never had an address in reality’s zip code.

  3. authorguy says:

    I have to agree with Dave, this episode is dull except for the end. Lou is really annoying, and a bit of a hypocrite, demanding total honesty from Chuck while smuggling goods past Customs. Sarah driving Lester away never gets old.
    I wasn’t thrilled with Casey’s line about falling for the guys she works with, seemed a bit of telling rather than showing to me. At that point we hadn’t actually seen her with anyone, so them defining her character for me was both obvious and annoying. I also didn’t see her ‘falling for’ Ryker, but what other men were in her past at that point aside from him and Bryce?

    • joe says:

      I love Yvonne’s smirk when she tells Lester that she wants to devour him. How Vic kept a straight face during the filming of that scene, I’ll never know.

      You may be right about “telling, rather than showing” us about Sarah’s past, here, Author. But it is “efficient” at this point, if not elegant. Yeah, really, the other guys in Sarah’s life that we know about are not romantic figures – Ryker and Graham – and that leaves Bryce (unless you wanna count Dick Duffy and Mark Ratnor from high-school, which I don’t). Not much of a history on which to base a reputation.

      But they were intentionally making Sarah “mysterious”, which meant she had very little history that was going to be divulged to us. I’m sure it was a conundrum that bedeviled the writers.

      In other words, I don’t think that was an oversight, but a definite on-going problem for them to consider.

  4. Bill says:

    “I think the most epic and memorable part of the episode is the sequence from Chuck and Sarah’s spat while locked in a trunk together, to an entertaining failed interrogation, to the non-bomb defusing and first real kiss. That not quite 10 minute stretch defines this episode for me.  And that is what makes this episode entertaining.”

    Exactly this, Dave. The enduring excitement of the final 10 minutes, coupled with the explosive kiss, is what makes this one of my favorite S1 episodes.

    I’d also like to comment on one of Chuck’s lines during his brief (but telling) conversation with Sarah. The conversation takes place about half-way through the episode. Among other things, Sarah tells Chuck that she didn’t think of their time together as work. She also tells him that it’s hard to have a real relationship in their line of work, to which Chuck responds, “Apparently, it’s hard to have a fake one as well.”. To me that’s Chuck demonstrating his emotional intelligence (for once), and calling Sarah on the mixed signals she’s been sending him.

    • joe says:

      Bill, you glommed onto the same conversations I did – they just didn’t make it into my final cut. You’re absolutely right that his words show Chuck is very much aware of the situation at this point.

      And that makes the upcoming episodes even more interesting, especially his confronting Sarah about that very kiss in Crown Vic. Now it looks to me like he’s quite deliberately pulling the rug out from under Sarah’s feet because he knows more about what’s going on than she does!

      • Bill says:

        @Joe: it’s priceless when she loses her cool in Crown Vic. “It happened. Okay. Can’t we just stop talking about it?!!!” I don’t think we hear that tone of voice from her again until Role Models.

    • thinkling says:

      Ooo, Bill, nice catch on the nuance of Chuck’s reply “Apparently it’s hard to have a fake one as well.” I’d never seen it as him calling her on mixed signals, but I like that take, because it is so true. Sarah can’t have a real relationship with Chuck (which is killing her emotionally), but she’s losing the battle to have a fake one (which is eating at her professionally).

      • joe says:

        Thinkling, Bill, I’ve been thinking about that conversation – “Apparently, it’s hard to have a fake one [relationship] as well.” most of the day. I think you’re right – Chuck has a lot more emotional awareness here than I gave him credit for initially.

        It’s been true all along that Sarah knew how Chuck felt about her. Several times she showed empathy for what he’s had to go through with the “fake” relationship. But this is the first time I’ve seen an indication that Chuck understands what she’s been going though also.

        Funny. Sarah’s aware of Chuck’s feelings and Chuck is aware of hers, but I’m not sure that they fully understand their own feelings yet at this point. Chuck thinks he can forget Sarah for any petite brunette, and from here, Sarah is about to take a swan dive into deep denial.

      • You guys might be looking a little deeper than it’s meant. I don’t see Chuck as being quite that emotionally subtle, especially at this point. More to the point, he wasn’t talking about Sarah at all. Back to the context:

        “It’s hard to have a real relationship”
        “Apparently, it’s hard to have a fake one as well.”

        Sarah’s talking about Chuck having a hard time, and Chuck pointedly tells her that he was already having a hard time with the previous status quo. He’s less talking about Sarah’s mixed signals than his own lose-lose dilemma. I’d bet your on the money with Sarah’s reaction, but less so with Chuck’s intention.

  5. I have a hard time being objective about this, so I won’t. This is a terrible episode.

    Imported Hard Salami is the real beginning of the second-worst arc in Chuck’s history. The first half of Salami is all discomfort and awkward moments. The entire scene at the club is simply unbearable to watch, as is Chuck’s navigating Lou’s relationship with his spy life. It’s always hard to watch Chuck’s balancing act, but watching him bumble both sides of his life, and failing so miserably in both cases, isn’t entertaining at all.

    It’s a bad episode by any show’s standard, not just Chuck’s, but it’s not without it’s charms. As terribly a Chuck handles all of the drama around him, it’s still an important episode for the character, and the supporting characters step up to carry his slack.

    “They named a new pizza after you.”
    “No toppings, no sauce; just cheese. It’s called the Loser.”

    Poor Morgan. He just never quite measures up to Chuck, no matter how hard he tries. Chuck makes out with Lou and gets the best sandwich ever named after him. Morgan gets rejected, and a nasty cheese pizza. Morgan emphasizes one of the important themes of the episode – raising Chuck’s status. Chuck’s been the ungainly dorky kid for most of season one, and even though Sarah obviously has a crush on him, they’re both treading water in terms of the overall relationship. It’s not until Lou comes into play that their status quo is challenged.

    Chuck’s worthiness sans-intersect is the dominant theme of the show – starting when he defuses the bomb in the pilot without it – but here we see it in a more real-world sense that we’d seen before. Lou isn’t important so much for what she does to Sarah as what she accomplishes for Chuck. We don’t know it yet, but Bryce is coming, and in order for Chuck to be a legitimate contender against Bryce, we need to see that he isn’t just some kid Sarah takes pity on. Lou shows that Chuck, on his own and without a computer in his brain, is worthy of a beautiful woman all by himself.

    There are other great scenes present – Lester’s attempt to seduce Sarah and The Kiss – but overall, it’s a slow-moving episode with way too many dreary moments.

    • joe says:

      It’s easy to tell that you still have some affection for the episode, Arthur.

      The entire scene at the club is simply unbearable to watch, as is Chuck’s navigating Lou’s relationship with his spy life.

      You know, that scene reminds me of nothing so much as the dancing scene in the club in the Pilot, where Sarah takes care of Casey’s men. As much as I like the pilot, I really think that dance is technically inferior. Sarah can throw knives and fight and dance; pick any two of the three.

      When all is said and done, though, it hardly matters to me. Wouldn’t change it for the world. now.

      • I think Strahovski just sets the bar too high. Let’s be honest – if I went to a club with a girl and she was dancing like that, I’d have about the same look on my face Chuck did. Not sure why you got reminded of it though. Reminds me more of Chuck running into Sarah and Carina in the season-that-shall-not-be-named.

  6. Something went wrong here, could somebody delete it?

    [edit — duplicate post removed!]

  7. “When I think about it, Chuck looks as wishy-washy as Sarah at this point (so, maybe you’re right to feel a bit ‘meh’). He annoyingly tells her every chance he gets that his feelings are true and even profound. THEN he immediately falls for Lou, my favorite PLI? Really? Does it really make sense for him to be giving up on this amazing Sarah Walker person right now for the first petite brunette that comes waltzing into the Buy More?”

    Yes, it absolutely does. First of all, it is possible to like more than one person, believe it or not. Second, Sarah just told him, under the influence of Truth serum, that there was nothing there. He doesn’t know she could lie.

    “This whole time, the one I’m fooling most of all is me.”

    Chuck sees himself falling in love with a person who doesn’t actually like him at all (he thinks). Meanwhile, there’s a real girl, who actually likes him, who’s right in front of him. He’s never in love with Lou or anything, he just likes her, and unlike Sarah, she likes him back. He gave Sarah a chance, and she said no. It’s one of the few times in the series that Chuck mans up and moves on.

  8. I liked Lou a lot.

    But maybe it’s just a name thing. 😉

  9. resaw says:

    Totally off the topic of this particular episode, except that Lou shows up in the story: over the last few days I’ve read all of BillAndBrick’s The Long Road Home, as far as it’s been written. I personally think it is very well done extension of the series finale. Woven into the story is an interesting look back at — and interpretation of — Sarah’s and Chuck’s relationship. My recommendation, for what it’s worth: read it and weep… tears of joy.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Resaw it is a good one, its on my favorites list and I recommended it on my last ff post.
      Also Anthropocene finished his post-series story, which was recommended in the same post. We are beginning to have a nice body of completely positive post-series stories!

      • resaw says:

        Yes, and thank you for those posts, Dave. I didn’t think I was much of a ff reader, but that is changing! There are some very good and creative writers out there.

      • authorguy says:

        Very true. It’s most of what I read lately, although the number of new stories is falling off. I’ll be digging into the backlog for a long time.

  10. ArmySFC says:

    Sorry this doesn’t fit in with the topic but it does fit in with the nature of the blog and show in general. its an article about how TV is changing its view towards getting couples together, shippers and some other stuff that has been discussed in length on this site. hope ya all enjoy it.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for that link army, good article. I do think the Moonlighting curse is responsible for a lot of bad television and bad television tropes these last 30 years, and I find it encouraging that it may finally be getting dumped. I was pleased Chuck was mentioned as a good example; but of course Chuck has always been different from Moonlighting or Castle in that the show never relied on the teasing and rivalry of the leads for humor or spark. With Chuck and Sarah’s mostly warm and friendly dynamic the transition was a little easier to make. It will be VERY interesting to see how Castle goes this season.

      • ArmySFC says:

        thanks dave, i forgot to mention they said chuck did it right. one thing that did strike me was how they manipulate viewers into becoming shippers. this quote said it best, “Here then is another lesson: If you portray your desired pairing as being the clear best of all available options, then your audience will end up wanting it to happen as much as your characters do.”

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think anyone should be worrying about forcing viewers to root for a romance, I think it’s only natural that many of us always will. Romance is one of the oldest forms of writing and story telling known, no manipulation required!
        But I think what is newer, is figuring out how to tell a romance (or any other type of story really) in a longer term serialized format (and yes, I take a long view of history, I’m willing to call an 80 year old technique new). My beef has long been, and continues to be, that writers often don’t know when it’s time to resolve one aspect of a story and move on to the next. And at least since Moonlighting, wt/wt in particular often goes on too long, well past my breaking point.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, i think you are correct about that. the article addresses that in a round about way when it brings up the internet. i also think what i said applies. if they make it know early yet subtly vs an in you face kind of way they can string it out longer. two shows i watch did the in you face way and pulled out the rug so to speak. in chuck it was after barstow. for me that should have been the end of it but it went on way to long from that point. after that it became an annoyance for me. on castle i believe it was earlier, like the end of season 1. castle asks beckett to go to the hamptons, she says no but changes her mind only to find castle going with someone else. again thats where it should have ended, both wanted to go.

        if they do it slower i think fans are willing to wait longer before they feel it is played out.

      • joe says:

        And what about White Collar? They actually started with a great romance between Neil and Kate, but then dropped it in favor of “the buddy show.” (yeah, okay – the bromance). Nearly wrecked it too.

      • atcDave says:

        I think there’s a lot of variables on how such things are paced. All things considered, I think Chuck was blazing fast; and I completely agree Barstow should have ended the wt/wt part of it. But a big part of that pacing was that Chuck and Sarah were mostly warm and friendly towards each other. The story was never driven by them pushing against each other, and I think their warmth towards each other was a huge draw for many viewers. So drawing the wt/wt out too long was a major turn off for viewers like me; not just because we were tired of that game, but because the way they were separated removed that signature warmth for a big part of a season.

        I think Castle’s pacing and issues are very different. For starters, Rick and Kate do compete, tease, and push each other. If the wt/wt is resolved it really does present a problem of where that driving energy will continue to come from. At the very least, that teasing and competition will need to be done in a loving and respectful tone. I think Marlowe and his staff are up to it, the Castle/Beckett relationship will simply look more like the Rick/Alexis relationship in that regard (I mean the affectionate teasing part, not the father/daughter part!); but I can see where it will be a writing challenge to get it just right.
        If memory serves, the Hamptons ending was S2. I think I was fine with drawing things out one more season, but just like Chuck, they took it a season too far (four for Castle compared to three for Chuck). And as I’ve said many times here, I think a major problem with drawing things out too far is that it starts to reflect very poorly on the characters. When the wt/wt goes too far, the characters can look silly, immature, unsympathetic,
        stupid and/or immoral. In short, the viewers may come to stop rooting for those characters or even despise them. And I firmly believe drawing things out too far has hopelessly damaged far more shows and characters than putting them together too early ever has.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe White Collar has given up on any romance. The bromance works, but an appealing romance is always better. I was not a huge fan of Kate, Alex was better but more as an occasional fling than an actual “relationship”. Sara is by far the most appealing of the bunch to me (geez, anyone else notice a plethora of recycled names!) but she seems to just be a secondary character now. I think that’s a creative mistake, the actress and character were both good fits for the show. Funny you brought that up, my wife had said exactly the same thing late in this last season.

      • joe says:

        Oh, absolutely. And as I’m reading “Alex” in your comment, I’m thinking the same thing – lots of recycled names. At least they’ve avoided Bryce and Bruce. 😉

        I’ve had a hard time keeping Alex (the con with the paper flower signal) and Sara (the insurance investigator) apart. Both are attractive and work well with the Neil Caffrey character, but they’re darn near interchangeable. That’s a weakness.

        What’s nice about the show is that the one real romance, Peter and Elizabeth, portray a great married couple the way it should be done. Rare on TV.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Joe im not really sure if you can equate neil and kate as a great romance. they were never really together, sure he searched for her and all but they weren’t together on screen much. ww heard much more than we saw. im not into the whole bromance thing either, this year its way to boring, like watching wt/wt, lol.

        Dave its true chuck was blazing fast, but look at the article. it says that serialized shows are becoming the norm as opposed to the LAO/NCIS types. we know from talks here that the serialized show lose about 15-20% of the viewers each year as opposed to the episodic type shows. those shows have an almost built in shelf life, so they need to move quicker. my belief is that if chuck was much stronger in the ratings and TPTB were not worried about it getting canceled, it would have dragged on. i think that fear caused them to toss in the getting together as a way to end the show on a high note if it had come to that. not that it wasnt welcome mind you, but i will say if they were sure of renewal the wt/wt would have continued on.

        the whole switch i mentioned above could have a negative affect as well. the limited shelf life could lead to shows of just 3-5 years vs 5 or more. the plus is knowing they have limited time they may put a better product out during that short time.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, you’re right, Army. They had limited time together on-screen and I’m not sure anyone knew what to do with an additional regular cast member. That one (or was it two?) episode segment where the history of Neil & Kate was done in flash-back was pretty good, though. I do recall that there seemed to be a lot of heat.

        We’ll call it “the magic of the theater.”

      • atcDave says:

        Army I do agree that the constant threat of cancellation for Chuck likely led to a number of bold decisions; but I strongly suspect Chuck and Sarah would have been together in a similar time frame regardless. The fast pace was set from the start, and as the article you linked suggested, many show runners are starting to take the next step in that regard. And Chuck stands out as a show that seemed destined to make such a move.

        I do think episodic and serialized story telling will continue to exist side by side for the foreseeable future. In particular, I think many shows will continue to follow the sort of hybrid model like Chuck did. And I think that’s good news for all of us. Its nice to see growth occur, and for actions to have long term consequences on a show. But I also like when major plot points are resolved each week. Chuck usually succeeded in doing both, and more and more shows do likewise.

        Joe I sure never saw that heat on White Collar. My very first impression of the Pilot was “too bad they hired a model instead of an actress for Neil’s love interest. I guess we won’t be seeing much of her.” My wife said I was an anti-‘shipper on that show. She’s right. At least with Kate. I like(d) Sara.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, very true about the co-existence of the two types of shows. one thing i hope is they shorten the time of wt/wt. i did some quick match and came up with some wild numbers. on average i found most shows do about 5 minutes of it per ep (based on a 1 hour show). that doesn’t sound like much, but in a 13 ep season its 65 minutes or one and a half episodes. imagine if that was absent, how much more chuck and sarah power couple we we have seen? wouldn’t that have better?

      • atcDave says:

        Oh no doubt army, you know I was advocating that for a long time. At least by S3; but I probably would have been happy if they’d gone that route very early. like say late S1. Just to be clear, I was fine with how they handled things through S2; but I think there are number of things they could have done differently from the very start that would have ALSO been a lot of fun. I never believe there was only one way, or one perfect way to tell the story. I liked the characters and the action comedy formula. I can imagine dozens, or even hundreds of variations on story and pacing that would have been wonderful (that may be why I enjoy so much fan fiction!).

    • joe says:

      Great link, Army. Thanks.

      Not sure it’s really OT, though, especially since I brought Castle and NCIS into the discussion. I could have – and probably should have – included Bones too.

      I just saw an old episode of Bones that really pointed out something the article brought up. In this one, Booth has just restarted his relationship with Cam, who’s been poisoned. But it’s clear that the relationship he has with his partner, Brennen, is the stronger of the two. This idea of “Partners with benefits” has really taken root lately.

      I have a feeling that it’s part of the zeitgeist. So many more people are having relationships spawned in the workplace now it’s a cultural norm. That’s what people come to expect, and resonate to on television.

      That meme will be popular for a while, I think.

      • atcDave says:

        I think that’s a reflection of a cultural reality too Joe; families are now scattered all over the country, people don’t go to church much or join social or special interest clubs anymore. So work ends up being the only place many people meet people and make friends. And of course, for a TV show, it’s just simpler to only have one major setting on screen; not to mention some of the natural pressures that come from being involved with a work peer. So I think work/professional based relationships are likely to be the focus of television drama and romance for a long time to come.

    • atcDave said – “My beef has long been, and continues to be, that writers often don’t know when it’s time to resolve one aspect of a story and move on to the next. And at least since Moonlighting, wt/wt in particular often goes on too long, well past my breaking point.”

      Yeah, the current wt/wt formula goes on way too long for this viewer’s patience too, and it simply isn’t very realistic, unless the main characters have a twisted penchant for pain. I much prefer seeing romance interests being brought together early on (or within a reasonable and realistic time frame) and then challenge them to stay together. Give this viewer some inspiration to meet the challenges in his own relationships, not the constant pain of unfulfilled dreams or emotional cowardice.

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’re completely on the same page Angus. It’s a big pet peeve of mine when characters do foolish, selfish, even criminal things because of jealousy or pettiness; and then the featured couple gets together and it’s all okay because, well, now they’re together…
        It really breaks my enjoyment of the story when the characters I used to root for act like complete idiots. I wish writers were less bound by this idea that they have to keep the couple apart, at all costs, until every one is good and sick of the wt/wt. I do have to concede, that all things considered, Chuck’s writers did a pretty good job of only carrying things out 2/3s of a season too long for me. I (mostly) enjoyed the more legitimate issues and obstacles of the first two seasons (except, well, you all know me and triangles!). But I think that one beat too much only irked me more with Chuck because I was more invested than any other show I can recall.
        And so far I’ve really enjoyed Angus’ treatment of the budding romance in “Sarah vs the Farm.”

  11. Christopher says:

    Hard Salami is one of my favorite episodes. I usually have the show in most of my rewatch lineups. What I love most about this episode is Yvonne’s expressions in the van while having to listen to Chuck on a date. It is killing her having to go through with this, she is also like a lioness here waiting for the right moment to strike if she could of she would of went in earlier but with Casey there it was best for her to just wait until she just couldn’t take it anymore.
    As I mentioned in the Truth, Sarah Walker the “real girlfriend” is a live and is really using Agent Walker flawlessly to maintain her composure. When giving him his ear wig and mic to use on the date her reaction to Casey telling Chuck the flower was so he can get laid really struck a cord with Sarah, which was funny because for her this was all happening in front of her an there is nothing she could do to draw attention. But now there are two scenes I want to talk about in length because they tie in with everything I said in the Truth.
    From Day 49 the truth of the mission log to day 56 which is the day of Hard Salami would be 7 days in between the two days. Thus the body language and expression by Sarah was that of really missing and wanting Chuck. It also shows they haven’t done missions together. This creates the feel that you get in the opening scene. When Sarah arrives at the Buymore she is in an Emotional wreck, and her last plea was an attempt to showcase these feelings to Chuck on purpose. Sarah Walker using Agent Walker as a way to sell it. Those were real tears as much as the real kiss at the end of the episode. She uses Agent Walker to sell the cover to Beckmann and Casey that it was best that they broke up in case someone ID’s her, which we all know very well that Sarah would have been able to handle the situation.
    The last part of the equation is the kiss, now I still laugh after hearing that Zachary Levi had just eaten a cheesesteak before shooting this scene so love the professionalism by Yvonne not to throw up from the take of onion breathe, but it was a kiss that change the rest of the show. For the first time Sarah Walker the girlfriend couldn’t take it anymore, her life was over and the last thing she wanted to do before dying was taste the lips of the man she clearly was having feelings for. If there was any question now it’s answered.
    We often forget that what makes it even more significant is the fact they were alone. No one to answer to no Beckmann, no Casey, no Graham. The only two were Sarah and Chuck. Much like the other guy when the two were alone do you love me Sarah and she response with a Yes
    Much like when they were alone Chuck proposed, the pressures of the people around them and their worlds not in the way at that very moment. It makes the first kiss that more memorable

    Sarah: Day 56 Today Chuck and I were trying to defuse a bomb and there was a moment there where we both were sure we were going to die and he closed his eyes and I kissed him, I kissed him

    Seeing Bryce is an after thought because of the fact that will be discussed in the next episode but for now we can savory in the moment of many steamy moments for charah

  12. First Impression says:

    Chuck and Lou look very much like a college fling, with a make-out session in the Herder, sandwiches at the deli and a date at a club. It’s not the ‘real relationship’ I was expecting. No way the date at the club would end successfully given the mission and the surveillance equipment. Casey’s rose was a nice touch and I loved the gasp from Sarah when he told Chuck it was so he could get laid.

    Only those in love can argue like Chuck and Sarah did in the trunk of the car. Even tied up in the warehouse, Chuck was pleading with them not to hurt Sarah. And it was very satisfying that they shared a hot kiss when the bomb was about to blow. She kissed him. Yea! She called it a uncomfortable. No!

    Ok, it wasn’t a bomb. But in a way it was. Dropping a live Bryce back into the show may have the same effect as a bomb going off.

    • atcDave says:

      Oh yeah, it was a bomb!

      • Christopher says:

        I agree Dave, It was a bomb and something that bothers me about the next episode, but much of season one is the same with the treading water when it comes to feelings. This episode is what makes me wonder something if the writers do it on purpose to draw you in with oh wow that was an intense kiss and now bomb Sarah your ex has returned, and than face the issue of will she or won’t she leave with him. IMO she would of left if Chuck does not call

      • atcDave says:

        Naw, I don’t think Sarah ever would have left for long. She’s already being assimilated..
        But no doubt she is severely conflicted, her basic values and priorities are being rewritten. I think she already has stronger feelings for Chuck than she’s ever had for anyone before, but it will still be quite some time before she’s ready to face what all is changing. Through the first two seasons Chuck vs career is an absolute choice, completely choosing one would cost her the other. And I think that part of the story is beautifully told through Ring. Part of what I find so bitterly disappointing about the canon S3 story is how it totally wimps out on that story, she can have it all as soon as she decides she wants it all. Bleh. They eliminated all external barriers and left only internal ones, which basically meant the only way to keep the characters apart was to have them look like complete idiots. Very poor planning I think.
        Sorry. I’m just floored sometimes by a story that can be so beautiful and powerful in its beginning and end; and so botched and stupid in its middle.

      • authorguy says:

        We have different opinions on the ending. S3 told a great story badly, while S34 and S5 told a poor story with enough sugar the audience either didn’t notice or was all too happy to choke down anyway. If they had stuck to their guns with the story in season 3, they could have done some episodes in season 4 worth writing home about, a season’s worth of episodes like Phase Three, not just the one episode. Season 4 is where they wimped out, giving the audience a steady diet of cotton candy episodes rather than building on the dramatic growth of S3. Only Volkoff struck the right note consistently.

      • atcDave says:

        Mmmmmm Cotton Candy…

  13. revdr says:

    I think that if it had been done differently, season 3 could have been more of what season 4 wound up being. Yeah, there was a lot of sugar in S4, but that could have been dramatically toned down if only they had gotten the message much earlier that the romance was the driving force of the show. We could gotten much more back story on Sarah and Casey, and instead of the Ellie making Chuck quit the CIA she could have maybe been brought in as the new Orion much earlier. They made some terrible mistakes in S3.0

    • authorguy says:

      It could have been a great story. C&S happily married, Ellie on the team as the new Orion. Less Buy More, more backstory. A proper blend of romance, action, and drama, with a light touch of comedy throughout.
      I love stories like that.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree exactly revdr. That loss of sweetness hurt, even crippled the show in S3. There was so much important that could have been done, and it would have been awesome if they’d kept that balance of elements that defined the first two seasons. Especially the sweetness between Chuck and Sarah. I remember at the time the comparison we most often made was to say it was like leaving your best starters on the bench going in to the playoffs. When they weren’t even hurt. Just some tragically bad story telling decisions.

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Imported Hard Salami (1.09) | Chuck This

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