Chuck vs The Undercover Lover (1.12)

This episode is the start of a brilliant seven episode run (through Tom Sawyer); possibly one of the longest streaks I’ve ever seen on any show of dynamite episodes.  Chuck will have a few other strong runs in S2 and S4, but I don’t think any other streaks are thisstrong.  My complaints and nitpicks for these next seven are pretty minor; the show seems to me to be firing on all cylinders at this point.

A little bonding time for the boys…

And I’m really excited that you all won’t see very many grumpy comments from me until almost Thanksgiving.  So after the jump, we’ll take a look at S1’s Casey-centric episode, Undercover Lover.

This is really the first Casey/Chuck bonding episode.  We’ve already seen some measure of respect build between these two very different characters, but now comes something closer to friendship.  Just don’t tell Casey that!  he will not be amused…  But the status quo established here will continue, with only minor hiccups through season two.  Early on, we see Chuck and Sarah have indeed settled into an easy sort of friendship after Crown Victoria.  What lies seething below the surface for the two of them will boil over on occasion, but will not fundamentally change until the end of First Kill (2.20).

Chuck and Casey’s growing friendship is harder to define, and obviously different in several ways.  We certainly won’t see any of the sort of grand gestures, or going against orders and protocol we see from Sarah; but then his willingness to bend rules and go against orders is far less than Sarah’s.  But I think this episode could be the start of when Casey the agent is corrupted and Casey the man is redeemed.  But this will develop fairly slowly.  For example, could Casey actually have killed Chuck in First Date?  I’m thinking Casey could have, with great difficulty and at shattering personal cost.  But that’s sort of what Casey is all about.

I’m tempted to write a more thorough timeline of Chuck and Casey’s friendship here, but that would be filled with a lot of speculation, so just a couple thoughts.  Next week, in Marlin, Casey will give Sarah “permission” to go rogue and rescue Chuck from the CIA.  I would guess, after First Date Casey wouldn’t even consider a kill order against Chuck again.  But that’s a perception, nothing I can prove.  Although Casey will tease and needle Chuck to the very end, by Beefcake he actually seems to be rooting for Charah.  In Colonel he will finally, clearly go against orders to help Chuck (what a huge episode that was!).  You all know I have many, strong complaints against season three, but Casey is not among them.  His steady friendship and support towards Chuck is one of the few highlights I see through the misery arc.  And I think Casey’s final help in getting Chuck and Sarah together plays a big part in the strength of that relationship (by which I mean, if Casey hadn’t come clean about the shooting to Sarah it would have hung over Charah).  By that point, and for the remainder of the series, there is no doubt Casey’s primary loyalty rests with Chuck and his team, not the government.  And that all started right here, in Undercover Lover.

But as I’ve said many times, my primary evaluation of an episode is usually about how much fun it is.  And Undercover Lover is a total blast.  The Russian party, Casablanca references and Neil Diamond soundtrack all are part of the fun; but holy smokes what a great fight scene!  It is no wonder that it lead to the first of Chuck’s Emmys. Casey “sticking to his strengths” and battling some rather large Russians with Chuck and furniture tied to his back is brilliantly staged and filmed.

Casey doing what he does best.

As is the resulting fall to the swimming pool.  That action serves to take an otherwise ordinary, stand alone episode and turn it into something extraordinary.

I think Undercover Lover also features one of my very favorite “B” plots. Naturally it features Ellie and Devon, not the Buy More.  But the Buy More too serves a role, as Devon’s wake up call about life without Ellie! Tipsy Ellie is even better than Devon; first she has a good scene with Sarah, really the first time Ellie has tried to corner/talk to Sarah.  Sarah, to her credit, is concerned about Ellie and tries to be a friend, but has far bigger concerns with a missing Chuck.  Enter Morgan.  Last week I described Morgan as being at his very worst.  Now we see him at his very best.  He proves to a good friend, a good guy, and only a little creepy.  And Devon’s dealings with him the following day provide the best laugh out loud moments of the episode.

Significant firsts for this episode?  Apart from the more vague idea of Chuck and Casey bonding, we also first meet Dr. Morgan!  And as I mentioned, Ellie trying to have a talk with Sarah.

~ Dave

Joe’s Take – It’s ALIVE!!!

Sure enuf, Dave. This one is all about Casey. And after seeing Undercover Lover can anyone really say that Chuck or Sarah changed as much in our eyes so quickly as he?

Ah, I can tell by the eye-blinks that many are saying “What do you mean, Buckley? Casey is the same lovable assassin we met at the beginning.” To which, I opine, “No way, José.” Casey came in, as Graham so memorably told us, as a “cold-school” killer, deftly combining Tony Soprano like “old-school” motives and dare I say, objectives, with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin like indifference to pain and suffering (either his or yours, especially if you happen to be Bryce Larkin or Chuck Bartowski).

But Casey is not, as Chuck memorably puts it, merely a “Ken doll” any longer. Dave, you said this is the start of Casey, the agent, being corrupted. I think that isn’t quite it. Instead, let’s think of it as the start of Casey being seen as more of a 3-D character. Indeed, we can finally see Casey as a man, complete with passions, flaws and – guess what – a past.

What. I wasn’t hatched!

Yes, I know. That comes later. But he wasn’t, and now, thanks to Ilsa Trinchina (Ivana Milcievic), we can believe it.

For that, I absolutely agree with you that this is the point at which we all started to trust him. Casey may have shot Bryce and he’s going to come awfully close to taking a shot at Chuck, we know. But from the moment Chuck confronts Casey in the Buy More break room about the name he flashed on, from the moment that Casey actually relates the tale and from the moment we see Casey enjoying “a little scotch and a little Neil” (Diamond), we trust him to come through and do the right thing. Now we can understand him, at least a little.

Casey: Here’s to John Casey dodging another bullet. It’s not like I want the wife and kids and the Little League practice and the minivan and the Costco runs.
Chuck: Heh – heh … Yeah, really? You don’t? ‘Cause I – it seems to me that you’d kind of be into the whole American Dream.
Casey: Nah. I do what I do so all those other slobs out there can have it.

Well, maybe Casey-the-agent being corrupted and Casey-the-man being redeemed is a pretty good way to look at it after all, Dave! 😉

Undercover Lover is primarily about Casey; that much is obvious. But as you pointed out, not completely. After all, Casey isn’t the only one to get drunk here! Poor Ellie, with both feet in while Devon has only one foot in and no one to talk to but CIA agents deep undercover and Morgan. So much for the no-touch policy they implemented in ’98. Great stuff! It’s also the moment Sarah first becomes aware that something is missing in her life, family. She will become acutely aware of that lack shortly.

Sarah also has a growing feeling in the pit of of stomach that, just like it did for Casey, a decision point is coming. Personal life or professional life. Choose one. No right decision, no wrong decision, just a decision that changes everything. Have no doubt that Chuck will see that coming for him also. He’s just not aware of it yet. But when it does, will Casey’s decision influence him? Does it influence Sarah? There are no answers here, but the questions are looming larger now.

Sarah shows me one other thing too in this episode that’s very much about her and Chuck, even though it’s a very small part of this episode. Did you notice how Sarah treats the one Russian who gets inappropriate with her?

Sarah does not suffer fools at all, much less lightly. She breaks his thumb, dents a serving tray over his head to gain access to Federov’s room later, and leaves him unconscious at the wedding scene (Seen in Variety: “Casting call for one punching bag!”). That’s how she treats men for whom she has no respect. Sarah was every bit as angry with Chuck just one episode earlier, but never, ever lost her respect for him. Even this early in the series, it’s clear that when their Face Book status is “just friends”, the word “just” doesn’t mean “merely” to Chuck and Sarah.

I honestly don’t remember if I worried that Chuck was not going to be renewed by NBC after season 1. I think I didn’t. There was just no way this story could have Chuck and Sarah going their separate ways, I knew, or even end with them in the state they were in – something less than a full-blown romantic involvement. The question remained, how would they get to a place where I believed they would get there? Could they do that with one episode left to air?

Call me a fool for not even being concerned. But I wasn’t. Chuck and Sarah were headed for something special and by this point, even I could tell.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 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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100 Responses to Chuck vs The Undercover Lover (1.12)

  1. resaw says:

    If there is nothing in this episode to make Dave upset, it hardly seems worth talking about… ☺ And I have to agree; there was a lot of fun in this episode. It was mostly a comedy this time, and a romantic comedy at that.

    There wasn’t much Chuck-and-Sarah-love (not a fan of the term “Charah”) going on this time. There was a bit of a teaser, though. If only Sarah could have stayed to talk with tipsy Ellie. But of course, we had the very humorous Ellie and Morgan scene instead.

    I agree that the above is a great scene, but Joe, how is it that the moment of Sarah meeting drunken Ellie is when she “first becomes aware that something is missing in her life, family”? I think I would tend to go back to the conversation between her and Casey that you quoted last week:
    Casey: Bang up job, Walker. And I’m gonna give you one last chance to come clean. Did you or did you not compromise yourself with the Intersect?
    Sarah: Do you ever just want to have a normal life? – have a family? Children?

    Joe, you also contrast the way Sarah treats the “disrespectful” Russian gangster with the way she treats Chuck, despite recently being very angry with him. You will recall that very early on in the series, after Chuck ruins Sarah’s dessert and they have a “chat” in the bathroom, Sarah held Chuck’s arm in a very “uncomfortable” position…. Yes, Sarah was violent with the gangster, but that guy didn’t exactly win any awards for endearing behaviour. Chuck, on the other hand, she has come to know, and the truth is, she has fallen for him. When she was angry with Chuck in the last episode, I think she was as angry (maybe even angrier) with herself as she was with Chuck because she let her personal feelings overwhelm her professional responsibilities. Their current “just friends” status is, I think, intended to give her some emotional room to remain professional, while allowing them to still work together.

    On a totally different—and very minor—point, I believe that when Chuck first flashes on the names of the Russian gangsters in the cage at the back of the store, one of the names comes up as “Dimitry Siljak.” When Chuck flashes on Dimitry at the hotel, Chuck flashes again, but the name flashes on the screen as “Dimitry Siljack.”

    Lamest line of the show: “It’s alive!”

    I also have to give credit to Pavel Lychnikoff for his wonderfully over the top performance as baddie Victor Federov: “You guys…”

    • joe says:

      Man, you are good, Resaw. I think you got it right; Sarah’s wistful look when she asked Casey if he ever thought about a “normal life” and family is the first time she shows us an awareness that these are missing in her life. The thought that I didn’t get out properly, though, is that this time her awareness seems far less general and much more specific to Chuck. Sarah is not wondering this time about just any normal life or just any family, but a life with Chuck and Chuck’s family, Ellie & Devon, I think.

      Granted, I may be reaching here, and even I think that, at best, it’s only at the edge of her consciousness. But that scene struck me as a precursor to the end of Marlin, with Sarah looking wistfully through the window at Chuck and his family celebrating the engagement. I can’t help but feel she wants to stay with Ellie every bit as much as she wants to get away from the drunk woman! 😉

      Of course, anyone who is willing to put up with drunk potential-in-laws is already in it with both feet. Sarah’s only considering that step here, but what a step!

      • resaw says:

        Joe, I’m going to use your comment about Marlin to delve into that episode a little. I leave for a 2-week vacation in Japan tomorrow, doing research in order to create a new, and more positive, Chuck vs. the Bullet Train (just kidding). Actually, despite Japan being really hi-tech, free public wi-fi is not common and my wife and I will be staying with relatives who are decidedly on the lo-tech side of life there, so no internet access at all at their house. Anyway, just to say I’ll not be posting for a while.

        One thing about Casey and Sarah in Marlin, despite his earlier concerns about Sarah compromising herself with the Intersect, in Marlin, he indulges that compromise without any reservation. In the discussion about Lizzie, the Fulcrum pita/schwarma girl, we hear the following:
        Graham: As soon as you locate her, take her out.
        Sarah: One of us needs to go and get Chuck out of police custody. He was arrested just…
        Beckman: The Intersect is no longer your concern, Agent Walker.
        Sarah: I, I don’t understand….
        Beckman: Detective Conway is CIA.
        Graham: Chuck is on his way to the extraction point right now. We’ve decided to transfer him to lockdown immediately. Is there a problem?
        Sarah: No. No. I just thought I would handle his transfer.
        Beckman: Forget about Chuck, Agent Walker. Focus on capturing that Fulcrum agent.
        Casey: (To Beckman and Graham) We’re on it. (To Sarah) And we, meaning I go get Lizzie, while you find Chuck. (Sarah looks at Casey.) Well don’t make me change my mind.

        And then there are those heartfelt words spoken by Chuck as Sarah listens, tears flowing:
        Chuck: I’m not ready. Sarah. I’m not ready to disappear.
        Sarah: No, I know it.
        Chuck: I need you to talk to Ellie. And to Morgan and my friends. And tell them… I don’t know. Look, if I’m supposed to be dead, just say something that will make it okay. That will make them feel all right. Just make sure they know how much I love them. You can do that, right? Of course you can. You’re Sarah. You can do anything. And hey, there’s a silver lining to this, too, you know. ’Cause we’re not working together anymore, which means we can go on a date. You can come by my cell and we can hang out and you can tell me who the president is. And maybe (takes Sarah’s hands) we can say how we really feel. Goodbye, Sarah.
        Sarah: Chuck. Save you later….

        And finally, as you mention, there is the scene outside the window where Sarah looks on at the happy event of Ellie and Awesome’s engagement:
        Chuck: Mission accomplished.
        Sarah: I can’t believe you pulled it off.
        Chuck: That will make one hell of a story at their wedding. Which I’m never allowed to talk about under fear of death. Understood. I have other material.
        Sarah: You wanna?
        Chuck: What? Spy? You…. She looks so happy.
        Sarah: Yeah, she does.
        Chuck: I couldn’t leave them yet.
        Sarah: You don’t have to worry about that. You’re safe.
        Chuck: Yeah, safe for now, though. Right. I mean, they keep getting closer. Eventually, they’re going to figure out who I am.
        Sarah: Don’t you think you should go in and congratulate Ellie.
        Chuck: You want to come in with me?
        Sarah: Oh, it’s family time.
        Chuck: I know.
        Sarah: Well, good night. (Chuck goes in while Sarah looks on from the window. Casey appears beside Sarah.)
        Casey: We can only keep him here for so long. You realize that, don’t you?

        In his review at the time, Alan Sepinwall said this last episode suffered from a clunky script here and there because the writers’ strike prevented the usual re-writes from being done. Maybe. But there is so much that is so good in this episode: Casey and Sarah as a supportive team, no longer suspicious of each other as they were at the beginning of the season; Casey becoming a 3-dimensional character, showing he actually cares about Sarah and Chuck; Chuck and Sarah actually acknowledging the true nature of their relationship beneath their cover relationship, Chuck with his words and Sarah with her tears; Chuck doing his best to invite Sarah into the Bartowski family, and Sarah feeling it but not prepared to accept it; and the concluding words from Casey to Sarah about the ominous threat that hangs over Chuck.

        I could not imagine a show like this not being renewed. I don’t think there was ever any doubt that it would be at end of the abbreviated season 1, was there? I do recall the campaign to renew it following season 2, however, and it was probably at about this point that I actually discovered that there was an internet “community” of sorts that was discussing Chuck. I guess I’ve only become more of a commenter on this site (and less of a lurker) because the show’s now over and I am not prepared to stop enjoying watching Chuck and the conversations around this wonderful show. Thanks all. I’ll catch up with you at the end of the month.

    • Robert says:

      The “just friends” thing is just Sarah’s way of rebuilding wall between herself and Chuck, because it’s going too fast for her. Someone pointed out that their handshake was very slow, and filled with unspoken feelings. And it even reappeared during Season 3, ep 3.03, I think; at the Orange Orange, and once again, it was apparent they were still in love.

      I’m really curious what makes you think that a discussion with tipsy Ellie would’ve been beneficial to Sarah??!!

  2. Robert says:

    I really like that episode; light, and full of comedy, yeah, but I really like it!

    The scene where Chuck needles Casey with his “sugar bear” nickname, and what immediately follows always gets a laugh out of me! Loved how Sarah is curious to know more about Casey’s past; deep down, Chuck and Sarah are very much alike!

    I was surprised back then to finally hear Casey share a tiny bit of his past (and some lady-feelings) with Chuck. I also really liked when Sarah was kind of panicking at the thought of sharing a discussion with Ellie. And even if Chuck went with Casey to rescue Ilsa, I find it telling that Sarah went to primarily rescue Chuck (Holding that same disrespectful Russian at point blank range, and yelling “WHERE is Chuck Bartowski???”)…

    Not a memorable episode compared to many upcoming ones, but one I always like to revisit.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree with all of that Robert. I earlier called Undercover Lover one of the really strong episodes of S1, and I think it is, but it’s kind of at the bottom edge of the strong episodes. I think Pilot, Tango and Marlin are just dynamite; clearly a step ahead of anything else.

      • Faith says:

        That’s like saying Magic Johnson is a slacker compared to Jordan lol. At some point it becomes an unfair comparison ;).

  3. Faith says:

    Undercover Lover and the like are the episodes that I think I missed the most in later years. In theory when you condense seasons, the seasons are supposed to be bigger, better, more exciting. A sort of on, and on and on incremental thing that builds but for me, I like them standalones. In fact I think they are often necessary. Just imagine season 2 without Best Friend for example! After the heavy arc preceding this episode, undercover lover was just exactly what the doctor ordered. Especially if you consider the ones succeeding this one (that’s of course Marlin, First Date, Seduction, Break Up—yes we know they’re 2 different seasons but the writer’s strike threw a wrench in there. It is generally believed that the writers/show runners pre-planned such continuity/arc before being derailed and boy was it! Amazeballs). Anyway I digress, before this we had crown Vic so some healing had to happen.

    I do agree with Joe though that I didn’t really think or foresee a future of Chuck not continuing after this. It’s was sort of a bubble time. And it showed coz the budget increased tremendously after the first season.

    Also Joe, I think that “just” turned the corner an episode ago when she hated herself for not being able to leave. ;). Ah good times.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Faith I think the stand alones are important.

      Chuck was picked up for S2 pretty early; I remember checking, I think it was the night Undercover Lover and Marlin aired, and the show was already listed as renewed with a 13 episode order. And the back nine were ordered before any of S2 aired, so it really was painless compared to later seasons!

  4. Bill says:

    An enjoyable bottle episode. Light-hearted and funny. Not one I re-watch often though, so it’s been fun to do so this week.

    I was completely oblivious to Chuck’s renewal status after S1 or S2. It never even occurred to me that a show this good wasn’t drawing big viewership numbers. It wasn’t until S3 when I first started lurking and then posting on chucktv.net that I became aware that Chuck had barely made it to S3, and with a significantly lower budget.

    I’ve wondered since what Chuck could have become (as far as ratings) if the strike hadn’t happened, or if NBC had aired a better episode than 3D after the Super Bowl.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Bill, or a better S3 premier. I know three households that shut off the TV during or immediately after that episode. Shame because the premier’s numbers started great after lots of good publicity and promotion.

      • Robert says:

        I can understand that, because Season had ended on a bang; Chuck getting Intersect 2.0, Chuck and Sarah getting closer to a real relationship, the stakes getting higher because of The Ring, etc.

        The vibe was good, and for once, NBC did their publicity job well, a lot of people were willing to see what this show was all about, and then BAM!!! Chuck and Sarah at odds, Chuck suddenly is a looser, etc.

        Some will argue that it was necessary, storywise, and maybe it’s true, but apparently many viewers disagreed and lost interest after a few episodes. Another chance of getting more viewers wasted.

        On the other hand, it forced the writers to proceed with Chuck and Sarah getting together, and getting closer and faster towards a normal life. If “Chuck” had been a giant hit like Dexter or True Blood, perhaps we’d be at Season 6, but with Chuck and Sarah just starting to be together, or heaven forbids, more Will They\Won’t They!!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Robert there’s a lot of “what ifs” there. I tend to think their intent was to put them together by 3.13 regardless; but you are right, with stronger ratings its possible we would have been subjected to more relationship angst after that point (they might have changed their formula more slowly with strong ratings than they did with weak ratings).

        My analysis has long been; they tried to go “darker” at the start of S3 because, well everything else is darker and they figured that was the key to better ratings. (and I mean darker both about Charah AND Chuck’s involvement with the spy world).
        But I think they miscalculated, badly. Chuck had already amassed a strong following that loved the warmer, more upbeat tone that the show often had. So while S3 did bring in some new viewers, it REALLY turned off a lot of the core and the audience shrank.
        The tone turned a little lighter from 3.13 on (at least on the Charah front), which didn’t appeal to many of the newer viewers who actually had liked S3.
        And when S4 changed the tone again to something much lighter (MUCH MORE to my liking) the show lost many of those viewers who’d joined up for S3. I will always be very thankful we got those last two seasons, but I know a lot of viewers who would have loved the show at that point were long gone, they never made it through S3. I did have some success getting viewers I knew who quit to come back; but some would only watch the occasional episode with me, and didn’t start watching the broadcasts again. And one refused to ever watch the show again after Sarah threw her phone in the pool…

      • Robert says:

        I mostly agree with your analysis.

        They tried to go darker, but it exploded in their faces, even if they effectively planned to put them together by 3.13. But they should’ve sticked to their initial plan; having the PLI stuff over by 3.07, and Chuck and Sarah work out their differences, while fighting the Ring, then getting together.

        What was making “Chuck” different was precisely the upbeat vibe of the show. They came back to it after 3.13, especially during the last 2 seasons (even if they will never admit they made a mistake with the first part of Season 3), but in a way, there a kind of “loss of innocence”, or a waste of sympathy from the fans, that, although I LOVED the last 2 seasons, I think the show never entirely recovered from, and that’s a shame, especially for the fans who never saw how good seasons 4 and 5 were…

      • atcDave says:

        I agree entirely about the loss of innocence. I did love the last two seasons of the show, but S3 hangs over everything like a dark cloud. It can never be completely made right; Chuck and Sarah were made to look too bad, too stupid, for too long.
        But I disagree some about “plan A”. I think anything involving love triangles was doomed to tick off a number of us (and the triangles were brought up at Comic Con 2009 when they were still in the planning stage). They’d already gone to that well too often in the first two seasons; there was simply no way of going there again and me being happy about it. IF they had done some misunderstanding and conflict that was resolved by 3.07 without the triangles; well, I still probably wouldn’t have liked the start of the season much, but I wouldn’t have loathed it and its legacy wouldn’t have been so damaging.

      • Robert says:

        Lastly, I think TPTB had some serious difficulties to figure out who their audience was, what were they expecting, how it would influence their writing, etc.

        Had they figured it out sooner, they probably wouldn’t have lost many of the season 1 and 2 fans, because they would’ve have loved Chuck and Sarah together as a spy couple, like TPTB did from 3.13.

        I’m pretty sure the ratings would’ve been much higher than what they were near the end of the series.

        Who knows? Perhaps we would even be watching a Season 6 as we speak, instead of having Zach Levi in “Thor 2”, and Ms. Strahovski in “Dexter”! 😉

      • Bill says:

        I tend to agree that the more rapid advancement of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship probably resulted from the show’s bubble status. I also agree that the showrunners badly bungled Season 3 (in too many ways to roll out right now); I doubt that I would have stuck with the show if I had just started with at at the beginning of that season.

        One of the interesting things I’ve observed here at ChuckThis is how many folks seem to have really enjoyed the final two seasons. As we get there with this re-watch, I’ll be quite interested in your comments as to what made those seasons so enjoyable for you. For my part, something happened toward the end of Season 3.5 that pretty much ruined the show for me, and made it hard for me to invest in or believe in what took place in the final two seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I pretty much just ignore S3. Many show’s have done stupid stories, or gone places I wished they hadn’t. Sometimes, especially if the change is permanent, it makes the show unwatchable for me. And I do find S3 more damaging to the earlier seasons than the later ones. Especially that great arc at the end of S2, seems pretty hollow to me now. The best thing to come out of it, was completely undone by S3. So I just ignore it as best I can.
        There has been a lot of really good fan fiction with much better versions of what happened at that time. Two regular commenters here, AuthorGuy and Uplink2 have on going S3 alternates that are a lot of fun, in very different ways. Look for an ff update in a couple days, I’ll have a bunch of links.

      • Robert says:

        Bill, I prefer the feel of seasons 4 and 5 to the one of season 3. I know that some episodes of season 4 and 5 are of unequal quality, especially compared to season 2, but the feel of those seasons is positive, especially on Chuck and Sarah’s front, which is my favorite part of the show.

        It thrilled me to watch them progress as a couple, and I feel that’s what we should’ve seen at the beginning of Season 3.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Wow, Chuckwin’s law by the fourth comment. Must be a new record! 😉

    • Bill, I would love to hear what was wrong for you in 3.5. Usually it’s the first half that turns people off.

      • atcDave says:

        I can’t speak for Bill, and I did find S3.5 to be a big improvement, especially Honeymooners. BUT, lying Chuck in 3.16 – 3.19 was VERY annoying to me. I loved the no secrets, no lies pledge of 4.01, and I enjoyed the show FAR more from that point on.

      • uplink2 says:

        Though I love 3.5 because it contains for me the best episode of the series, Honeymooners. But it also contains the second best episode of season 3 and the only episode I think Routh actually did ok in the part. Subway. Casey and Sarah in the cell with Sarah’s look of pride in Chuck when Casey told her she picked a good one is one of the highlights of the season.

        But there was a huge moment that probably offended me more than almost all but a few scenes in the entire series, the earrings scene. That scene is so offensive to Sarah and women in general and what made it worse was it was played for laughs. I think it was obviously written before Chuckpocalypse as in that interview where Fedak makes his insane comment about chapter 7, they said they were writing the finale. They still were under the illusion that Shaw and the trapezoid was a good idea.That scene shows how clueless they were many times in how fans would react and how they saw the show. It was an unfunny, offensive and distasteful scene especially in light of it being an attempt at comedy. The rest of those uncomfortable moments were fine but the earrings crossed the line big time with me.

      • Faith says:

        Subway is AMAZING. Sigh, nostalgia.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree with Honeymooners being one of the very best. I think Baby may be its only real competition for me. I also thought Role Models was very good. But the remaining four were all mixed. Tooth had the wonderful Sarah lines “I need him to be better” and “I’ll always come back for you” in addition to telling Chuck she loves him. But it was soured by Chuck not being honest about his health. Not a horrible failing (I could see him wanting to let Sarah have her moment), but the way it dragged out to Subway was just too long and undermines an otherwise pretty good episode. Living Dead had the excellent Sarah/Morgan interrogation scene and Sarah saving the day with a hatchet; bit we also see PapaB having no faith in Chuck and the dreaded earring scene. I think I don’t hate that as passionately as Uplink does, but it’s definitely no favorite of mine either. Subway is mostly a good episode, really pretty strong, but Chuck abandoning Sarah on the sidewalk is one of those infuriating stupid stick moments I have a hard time getting past. It still really irks me. I’m not going to argue its out of character or any such, because it isn’t. But it is a grotesque part of Chuck’s character I wish had never been added and I never want to see. It damages my esteem for Chuck just as much as his conduct with Hannah. Ring II is a pretty good and fun finale, I like Chuck’s confrontation with Shaw at the hotel a lot. But I dislike the whole “promise to Ellie” thing, I think it makes Chuck look ridiculous and foolish. I also really dislike Chuck’s secret at the end of the episode; although that wouldn’t have bothered me at all if S4 had started with Sarah already knowing all about it.

        That is my more detailed break down of S3.5. We’ll get into it a lot more in a few months.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Faith – agreed. Subway is fantastic. For my money the best episode of S3 and a top 5 of the series!

      • What is the earring scene?

      • anthropocene says:

        ¡qué vergonzoso!

      • So he bought her earrings while they were abroad. They also had sex. What am I missing?

      • jam says:

        The point.

        😉

      • joe says:

        Oh, wait, Jam. Is the point really that we should assume the worst?

        Let me spin this [PLEASE, let me spin this!] a slightly different way. How about, the point is that Sarah is really, really afraid that Chuck is going to assume the worst? Whether or not “the worst” happened, Chuck is trying hard not to think that; making up excuses and rationalizations about Tiffany’s, and Sarah knows that.

        She also knows that Casey, in his own inimitable fashion, will be as cynical as possible and feed Chuck’s fears, and that he will NOT let her get away with anything (personally or professionally).

        Everything in that scene is meant to be a needle under Chuck’s skin, but it doesn’t have to be one under ours. It’s not necessary – Chuck’s discomfort is enough. That may be the point.

        We can keep our delusions, if we want, about Sarah. In fact, it works better if she’s a character who is now really pained by the thought of Chuck losing the rose-colored glasses (you know, the one’s he doesn’t have any more). It’s all about his perception and about Sarah’s perception of him, not our perception.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe she had the opportunity to deny and she didn’t. Now I do agree you’re right that the point of the scene is to make them both uncomfortable and be funny about it.
        But I usually hate uncomfortable humor.
        The problem is, some of us, myself included, find nothing cute or funny about casual sex. I actually find the idea of it pretty repellent. Sex is special, beautiful and important. Not casual. So we already knew from Fake Name that Chuck could be a faithless slime. Now we find out in Living Dead, well after the fact, that Sarah could be a faithless slime too. Not a very appealing form of equality!

        It’s really only one moment in a mostly good episode. But I find it a pretty horrible moment. And it’s another reason why I rank S3.5 well below S4. In fact, when we rank seasons and seperate out S3.5 from S3; of course I rank S3 dead last as the only season I actively dislike. But S3.5 is my least favorite among the remaining seasons. It’s like they weren’t done cleaning up their mess yet. It is ironic that Honeymooners is so perfect. One of my absolute favorites. And the only episode from 3.01-3.19 that I completely like.

      • jam says:

        Yup, Honeymooners is the only truly good episode of S3.5, the rest are flawed in some ways, even if there are plenty of good bits too.

        The earring scene is one of those moments typical to the show where characters are degraded in order to make a joke. Sometimes it was merely annoying, in this case it was character destroying.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, Dave, Jam; we’re on the same page, especially with the frivolous use of innuendo like that. And I agree, it fell flat as humor for me, too. Between you and me, I’m being generous in giving them the benefit of the doubt that way. I consider that I’m not in the desired demographic, which probably would have a different reaction to the scene had they seen it. My self-perception places me a bit above that kind of frat-boy humor anyway. Better they should have left that kind of stuff in the hands of Jeff and Lester, and Morgan in the early days.

        But the only out I’m leaving them is a small one, which is to say that it’s not 100% necessary to believe the character of Sarah is trashed. It’s only 99% necessary.

        Then I’m hanging onto that 1% for dear life.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I do agree about that 1%! I can still construct plausible deniability, and it’s not quite as convoluted as what NinjaVanish did with Chuck and Hannah! But it’s clear to me the writers did not mean to leave us an out, and that irks me.

        I’m also obviously not in their target audience, I think there is a pretty stark divide in values and age groups. Younger fans (and writers) do not seem to even comprehend how important it is to us (to be fair, I do know some younger people who share my values in this; but it is clearly no longer “normal”). Yet that aspect of S3 is the only time it was really thrown in our face; and that may really be at the root of the depth of my dislike for that season.

      • I don’t like the scene, because it’s pretty uncomfortable. It’s one of those miserably awkward Chuck moments. But frankly, I find the idea that a person having casual sex (and this wasn’t even particularly casual) is being “degraded” far more offensive than two beautiful adult co-workers having consensual sex.

        Dave, I suppose you’re right. I find this (not yours specifically) viewpoint incomprehensible. And worse. I’ve been trying to write this post for the past hour, but I can’t see any good coming from it, so I’ll just let it be.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I hated the earring scene more because keeping an expensive gift from someone that tried to kill you and your boyfriend is bizarre, sociopathic behaviour – and the payoff in terms of humour is not remotely worth doing that damage to a major character.
        That said, she’s a spy and she kills people as part of her job so sociopathic tendencies are par for the course. I must admit I could never understand why – for some – Sarah killing people is fine, but having sex with Shaw is not. I should probably apply the same standard to the earrings. Still think its a wretched scene though.

      • atcDave says:

        C’mon Kev, now you’re baiting me and you know it. There is a clear moral/legal standard for the use of deadly force that is accepted under both US and international law. Deadly force is justified to protect human life, either oneself or others.
        And it’s clear even from comments on the night Final Exam aired many of us took exception to the whole idea of the Red Test. It is immoral and illegal. I’ve objected to it countless times. It’s a huge part of what I disliked in that episode, Sarah manipulating Chuck into doing something even she knew was wrong. It is another on the long list of reasons why I object to the S3 story and the very first thing I think of every time I reference S3’s darker themes. I think the only possible excuse for its inclusion is its a cliche in spy stories. And of course that cannot justify the grotesque writing of that story. That is my most loathed episode for precisely that reason.
        The sleeping around issue is more contentious partly because viewpoints are more divergent on it. Well, that and the way it was brought up again after I thought it was all behind us. Actually, it was made worse after I thought it was behind us. It’s also different because there is no possible moral or legal justification for it. I admit to bring a pretty strict monagomist; but I can’t imagine how anyone thinks its okay to sleep with someone, when you’re in love with someone else. And no, I won’t cut the writers any slack on the issue.

      • garnet says:

        Not sure where this will endup as this is the nearest reply button to your comment about Shaw and Sarah.
        I agree it is a VERY uncomfortable scene. I also agree with Kevin that keeping the expensive gift (and wearing it especially) is beyond normal human behaviour.

        Regarding the suggestion that the casual sex was consentual, I have to wonder what most government organizations would say to sleeping with your subordinate. At best you would be up for a harassment charge, and at worst you would be out on your ear. Shaw is in a position of power that makes even a one night stand problematic and in the view of most organizations nonconsentual.

        Also there had been the unspoken rule up to that point that we were not going to have our noses rubbed in Sarah’s affairs (unfair perhaps, but with prior potential love interests (ie Cole) thee was no way of confirming just how far Sarah did or didn’t go with the character). This shattered the “rule” and left us wondering how Sarah could have been SO ….I’m searching for a diplomatic word and it isn’t coming….STUPID as to have gone that far with Shaw. Yes, it makes the revenge in Subway all that much more understandable, and sweet, but….. Eew…Eew!!

        I think I’ll go and wash my brain now.

      • atcDave says:

        It is against government code of conduct to be involved with a subordinate. But it does happen quite often; and the only way Shaw would have wound up in trouble is if Sarah filed charges against him, or if her career was advanced via the relationship.

        But yeah, just ewwww anyway. And Shaw getting shot, beat up, imprisoned, beat up, and imprisoned again kind of makes harassment charges moot.

      • Faith says:

        It’s naive to think she’s as chaste as we would prefer her to be. Seriously I mean the things we ask for.

        Having said that whether or not it happened is irrelevant. What is relevant is I’d rather not think of it. I need alladin’s brain bleach now…

        Also the earrings were just that…a joke people took in ways they can’t fathom. I know plenty of women that keep presents from psychopathic exes…if you want to go that far.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Reluctant as I am to step back into the Chuckwin wars (’cause it always works out Sooooo well) I’d just like to make a pitch for the occasional attempt at objectivity about what is after all a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, despite the fact that we often do.

        We shouldn’t project our often visceral reactions to a character or a plot-line onto the characters. Yes, the experience is subjective, but that does not mean there was no intent or plan on the writers part. Just because we hate Shaw doesn’t mean Sarah has to. In fact given the character’s self image in season 3 she’d likely blame herself to some degree for Shaw’s dark turn. She did after all kill his wife.

        We want Sarah to hate Shaw more than anything in the world. That doesn’t mean she has to. Why would she loathe him so thoroughly at the time in question? Because he tried to kill her? Hell, Casey tried to kill her too, more than once, and I doubt Shaw is the first guy to buy her jewelry and then try to kill her. (And come on, Tiffany?!)

        In short I can see the character, as written, as having some very conflicted emotions about Shaw at this point (he is after all dead as far as she knows). While the whole attempt at killing her and turning traitor thing puts a damper on her feelings he was there for at a very low point in her life, which she probably appreciated, and she likely feels a lot of remorse for being the instrument of his eventual demise. Now when he decides to go after Chuck, that’s a different thing altogether, but leading up to Paris my take was that one of the reasons Sarah was willing to trust Shaw (aside from the fact that from her perspective he was pointing his gun at her and could have shot her in the warehouse but didn’t) was because of the remorse she felt and that she perhaps felt she owed him her help finding those who manipulated her (the instrument but not the author of his wife’s demise) into pulling the trigger.

        As far as the earrings, a slightly clumsy bit of plot where Sarah gets her comeuppance for lecturing Chuck on honesty and trust, it highlights something few want to acknowledge, the fragile nature of their relationship at this point, and it’s as Joe pointed out, pretty funny, because once again, Sarah has to deal with Chuck seeing her as she is as opposed to his idealized version of Sarah featured in seasons one and early in two.

        Overall, quite funny if you ask me.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Dave,
        Absolutely wasn’t my intention to bait you. I’m just saying that if you have to kill people and do unspeakable things regularly (even if they’re perfectly legal) then having sex with someone that you’re dating probably doesn’t seem like a big deal in context.
        And on that note, I’ll shut up.

      • Robert says:

        Okay…

        Let’s just say that I disliked the “earrings” part. But not to the point of saying that it “desacrated” Sarah.

        I’ll be frank; I’m not favorable to casual sex per se, but in the context of the episode, so what if she’s slept with Shaw? I mean, the girl wasn’t herself, she was totally adrift at that point; she thought she had lost the love of her life, her Chuck! She was totally vulnerable to a colleague who, contrary to Chuck at the time, was there for her. She had lost her anchor (and to her own eyes, what Chuck also represented; her redemption), she was in pain, and let us not forget that, sometimes “oppression can make a wise man mad”, and act foolishly. That’s exactly what we saw, from both Chuck and Sarah.

        Was that the right thing to do for Sarah? No!!! Was that disgusting? Perhaps! But just tell me this; is there anyone here (myself included) who hasn’t done something that he/she regretted later, and/or did something you know you shouldn’t have done, but did it nonetheless?

        Let us not forget that, as soon as Sarah realized the earrings “signification”, especially for Chuck, she put them on the table. She wanted to fix the situation, and wanted to move on with Chuck.

        Sarah and Chuck, are not perfect characters; they did 2 seasons and half of mistakes before finally getting together.

        Of course, maybe they temporary lost some “shine” in each others eyes, but they accepted it, and still loved each other, despite each others flaws.

      • Robert says:

        And, by the way, “Honeymooners” is also my favorite Season 3 episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Faith I never expected or required Sarah or Chuck to have been chaste prior to meeting each other. But I sure do wish they had left that a possibility during the run of the series. That’s an entertainment issue, and I think it has to do with how unaware the writers (and Hollywood in general) are of the values of a significant part of their audience (I’ll say adults in their 40s or older, especially in the mid-west. of course that’s a generalization, I know younger adults who think like I do, and I’m sure there are large numbers in other parts of the country too). I just wish they had left alone the whole issue of how involved they each got with outside parties.

        Ernie a lot of what I held against Shaw from the start was how arrogantly dismissive he was of both Casey and Sarah; and how he manipulated Chuck. And in Final Exam it turned my stomach how he manipulated Sarah into giving the “Red Test”. So yeah, I think Sarah should have loathed Shaw nearly as much as I did, certainly after the Red Test she should have. I thought that all through the Sham. I don’t particularly care about the earrings themselves; and I could even find it amusing that she scammed an expensive gift out of Shaw. And I did appreciate that she removed the earrings once she knew Chuck wouldn’t see it that way. But I hate the scene because it verifies that things had gone pretty far between Sarah and Shaw; and that things continued between them after the Red Test. That may be the single most maddening aspect of it to me. I would have much preferred if they left it alone.
        I am well aware we take the show far more seriously in some ways than it took itself. But I just don’t find much humor in making the main characters look like idiots. It would be different if Chuck were Inspector Clouseau, but he isn’t. For most of the first two seasons I related to him. For much of the third season I disliked him. I think that was a poor writing/entertainment decision.

      • Faith says:

        Point being it’s yet another aspect where the show and the character is held to an almost impossible standard. But hey, they brought it on themselves for being so awesome.

      • atcDave says:

        Faith that I agree with entirely. They gave us an outstanding world that led to us all being just a little over-invested!

      • Faith says:

        No regrets Dave, no regrets. It’s been an amazing 5+ years both with Chuck and the blog (though I think the blog is now 3 years old?).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think it was September or October, so about exactly 3 years! What a run.

      • uplink2 says:

        Sorry for coming back late to a discussion point I think I started. My point was that I could accept that they were confirming Sarah and Shaw slept together in that segment though I never wanted to see that confirmed. I think it is actually more confirmed by Stephen calling Shaw Sarah’s lover earlier in the episode. But I found the idea of a woman, who I love, not just keeping but wearing earrings given to her by a man whose wife she killed on the “worst day of her life” and who then tried to murder her and the man she loved deeply in front of that man is offensive to Sarah, to women in general and insulting to us viewers especially when they play it for uncomfortable laughs.

        This isn’t just a woman who keeps a ring from her ex-fiance when he turns out to be an a-hole, these were reminders of Sarah’s Red test, a real and serious attempt on her life as well as the life of the man who saved her in countless ways. This wasn’t a bad guy mark she got gifts from then killed. It was a man she had a real relationship with who betrayed her and Chuck and tried to lure her to her death while he was betraying her country for some demented goal of revenge for her following orders and killing his wife. I just don’t see how this was at all necessary. Why do you want to make your main characters look like psychopathic flakes who have no respect for themselves or the people they love most? Then to use if for humor is obscene at best. Does anyone really believe Sarah was so clueless she didn’t look at them and see Shaw, Eve, the bridge and the man she loved having to kill someone to save her? Why would she have kept them in the first place? It’s not like she needed the jewelry. Did they have the same meaning to her the bracelet did? I mean the bracelet was a gift from someone she broke up with too. That is the image that scene creates all for the sake of a few uncomfortable laughs. As Kev said it wasn’t worth the destruction of one of your leads. But we saw so many times in season 3 that they simply didn’t care about that where their beloved Shaw was concerned.

        Hey I can handle Shaw and Sarah having sex. I don’t like it and don’t want to think about it but within the god awful story they were telling, it happened. But to demean her character by having her wear a gift she got from a man she cared about, who betrayed her, her country, tried to kill her and her savior, forcing him to have to kill someone, something she said made him not the man she fell for unless it was to save her is just incredibly disgusting and offensive and not something I can ever accept as somehow being funny.

  5. I’ve always loved the way Chuck turns action stereotypes around on us. The most obvious is the whole “dude in distress” angle. Casey as the side kick is one we rarely talk about. How many shows have a side kick that is more competent in almost every way than the protagonist? Heck, you don’t even think of Casey as the sidekick until season 3. But that’s his role in the show, and in this episode, and it reveals a lot about the show’s values.

    In Undercover Lover, we get to see Casey with a problem, and there’s simply no way he solves it without Chuck’s help. Throughout the episode, Chuck comes to his aid over and over again. He discovers Ilsa. He convinces Casey to go after her twice. Chuck discovers the bug, saving her life. And when Casey wants to give up, it’s chuck who talks him back into it. He even (inadvertently) leads her back to Casey with the bug. When it comes to these issues of emotional vulnerability, Casey is every bit the Robin to his Batman.

    And that’s what Chuck’s hero journey is all about. As much as he grapples with his destiny as a spy, Chuck was always more about a boy becoming a man than a nerd becoming a hero. And as much as Casey is a hero, Chuck has far more to teach him about the meaning of being a good person. Undercover lover is the first step in that, and it’s a fun journey to watch. I’ve always loved that dynamic between them.

    • atcDave says:

      Some excellent points Arthur. I was saying way back in S2 at the NBC forums that Chuck was primarily a moral hero and a moral leader; and I loved him for that (see comments above however…). I think he was never more appealing than when he brought out the best in those around him. He even did that with the Nerd Herd (early S1 episodes). But it makes me giggle with glee when we see Sarah and Casey becoming better people for their association with Chuck.

      • garnet says:

        CHUCK was at its best when Chuck was at his moral best. Chuck’s actions with Hannah were hard to take for that reason. I think that when we look at even minor characters like Jill/Volkoff/etc. we see the effect that Chuck can have on them, changing them as well.

      • joe says:

        That’s an excellent notion, Garnet. Dave’s idea, that Chuck (both the character and the show) is most appealing when he brings out the best in others is complementary to your idea, but it’s important to consider that the writers could never resist trying to put Chuck into deeper and deeper moral quandaries. Literary tension, you know.

        When Chuck was morally ambiguous it was great to see him find the right path, so long as it didn’t too long, right? Say, 42:15? Any more (certainly arcs that spanned multiple episodes interrupted by Olympic festivities counted as more) was much harder for me to take.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Garnet I agree entirely. That’s a huge part of the S3 malfunction to me, seeing Chuck be a big jerk. Hannah was the worst, although the escalating lies both to his sister, and later to Sarah; and then ending 3.19 with a big secret he will try to keep from Sarah, just put me in a foul mood all season long.
        I would have vastly prefered to see Chuck aggressively do the right thing in those situations. It’s especially interesting with the no secrets, no lies pledge of 4.01 how that whole ugly chapter is laid to rest pretty decisively. But in the grand scheme of things, it makes S3 even more unwatchable now than it was when it first aired. I always feel like it was about the writers learning lessons more than the character.

  6. resaw says:

    Re the earrings scene: Well said, Ernie.

    • Bill says:

      re the earrings scene: TPTB owe Yvonne an apology.

      • Strahovski made the decision to engage in that scene and the show as a knowledgeable adult – though your unwillingness to accept a woman’s consensual decisions as such seems to be a theme. The only person insulting her is you.

  7. Erik says:

    -Wow. Just reading the comments about season 3 has been eye opening for me. Personally I came to show after season 3 and it wasn’t until the series was almost over that I found out that Chuck had an almost cult-like following. I didn’t realize how polarizing season 3 was. I am not going to comment yet about my thoughts on season 3. I will wait until we get there but I have a very different view about what actually happened between Shaw and Sarah that I think is very plausible.
    -About this particular episode, I loved the Casey and Chuck interaction. This episode was the first time I saw a human side in Casey. I think he was always the manly-macho-man stereotype, but he has a very human side that we won’t see for a while.
    -As a side note my wife and I went to see the Bourne Legacy. During the movie a thought came to me. In the Hollywood version of the spy world, spies are supposed to be hard, rugged, anything to get the mission or objective done. In Chuck, Sarah is supposed to be one of the best. Yet we know that she is very different from those type of people. Taken in that light, if we transfer that idea to Chuck, for me it puts a different spin on Sarah. Makes my enjoyment of the show that much greater, and makes me think about Sarah in a slightly different light.

    Erik

    • atcDave says:

      We just bring up S3 every couple weeks for the ratings, our hits always go way up when we do!

      • tetro says:

        Re the earrings scene: fist time posting something in this blog so im goin to try to explain “our“ dislike to that scene………….. my personal view of season 3 ‘about the relanshiopship stuff the jorney thath the showruners told us was deep ,unique ,ambitious (for my taste) from Pink Slip to Final Exam. the problem was the destination American Hero particualy the way sarah was acting in that episode the question that most tvcritics,fans.podcast.forums, where asking : why sarah whoud fall for that guy,

        the real problem. is not that sarah slept whit shaw the problem is that the showruners told us that sarah deple care for shaw.and when you put real feelengs and sex together , for me that damage her sarah walker caracther arc. what was the point of the love
        interest for chuck and sarah . ´, Chuck learn alot of his relashionship with hanna he learn that he was becoming someone else, a jerk. a liar and that hannah was not the girl for him, so chuck got is epifhany and in later episodes he got is redemtion is arc came to a very good conclusion . the only thing that sarah learn from shaw (on screen) that it was diferent but that was enough for her that is my main problem whith the sarah arc . the showruners told us that shaw was the perfec men for her, that was way she was falling for him. i personally dont have a problem whith shaw from his first 3 episodes he was a very interesting characther until fake name , from that episode shaw acted creepy guy taking advantage of a broken woman, he said that is agents are never alone but clearly is wife and chuck where,he doesn¨t value family and friends, he clearly only wanted a friend with benefits relationship whith sarah. he uses her to burn chuck regarles her feelings, he beat up chuck and try to kill him and sarah fall for him any way . ¨¨We want Sarah to hate Shaw more than anything in the world. That doesn’t mean she has to. Why would she loathe him so thoroughly at the time in question? Because he tried to kill her? Hell, Casey tried to kill her too, more than once, and I doubt Shaw is the first guy to buy her jewelry and then try to kill her. (And come on, Tiffany?!) = ernie davis

        we dint need to see sarah to hate or brake up with shaw, we just needed that the plot of sarah falling for shaw to make sense , if shaw was more like bryce or cole or just a friend/nice guy to sarah of corse we coud buy the name reveal and earing scene coud have been more funny.
        The problem for most of us whith the earring scene is that after the other guy we where waiting for some kind of explanation that way sarah fall for shaw and instead we got a confirmation that sarah and shaw steamy romance was played off screen. We understand that the purpose of that scene was for laughs not to brake chuck and sarah relationship.

        the showrunners have the oportunity to fix the sarah/shaw arc they where filming the back 6 episodes when the fans and tvcritics reaction where very negative to the sarah/shaw romance ,they just coud have give sarah a line like i never have feeleng for shaw i just was trying to move on or shaw was a mistake (she said chuck and bryce was a mistake).because when you put sex and real feeleng in the air we look at the back 13 episodes in other way, and make sarah look bad .

        For my season 3 was very good season love the jorney i think the built a very good psychological ride, very original ,but they damage the destination for the sarah arc in american hero not because sarah slept with shaw ,because in that episode the show –runners make us think that sarah have feelings for that very unlikeable character .

  8. atcDave says:

    I do want to touch on the morality issue Kev brought up, as well as maybe move this discussion to a fresh thread….

    I know for myself, and I’m sure I’m not alone, I consider the issue of sexual faithfulness and monogamy to be very nearly as sacred as life and death. I’m sure most of you realize I’m a pretty traditional Ten Commandments sort of guy. So I don’t think highly of lying or stealing or misusing God’s name either. But I think the sex/monogamy issue will come up more because there is a cultural split on it. Conservative viewers like me already have to make a lot of concessions when watching modern entertainment, like the idea of saving it for marriage is unlikely to be portrayed in a serious light (and no it’s not impossible, I know of at least two people who managed!). But I’m generally willing to say as long as a couple is monogamous I’m not going to worry about it too much. And it really does please me that on Chuck we saw a couple that was faithful to each other for the entire time they were officially “together”. But S3 will always annoy me on that regard, because Chuck and Sarah both failed after indicating they loved each other (and yes I know, Sarah only indicated it with actions, not words. But this viewer perceived her actions of staying with Chuck in Ring and wanting to run off with him in Pink Slip as her professions of love. And those perceptions go to the very heart of why S3 is so troublesome for both main characters.)
    The morality of violence is generally far less troublesome, because I think there is actually far more widespread agreement on the right and wrong of it. As I mentioned above, most people are going to be okay with using deadly force to protect human life. And soldiers and law enforcement personnel are in that line of work. And that’s exactly how I saw Sarah. Her shooting of Mauser was more “grey” than the others, but I could still see the justification for it (the lying actually struck me as more serious!). But her Red Test is the only flat out wrong killing we know of her doing, and we know Sarah felt guilt over it from day one to the end of the show. Even though primary responsibility for it rests with Graham, Sarah carries the burden of guilt. Much as I dislike the Red Test as a story device, and I really dislike the way Chuck was manipulated over his, I thought Sarah’s guilt over her own experience was well handled.

    Now I guess I shouldn’t assume readers understand a Christian view of the Ten Commandments either. The Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament of the Bible and outline God’s most basic rules for believers, both Jewish and Christian. Under Old Testament law, punishments for violations of those commandments were often severe. As a Christian, I also believe in the New Testament with its very strong message of forgiveness. That does not make violations of Old Testament law “okay”, except that it provides forgiveness for our failings instead of having to apply a death sentence to most people over the age of 14. As far as seriousness of the offenses go, crimes against marriage would seem to be only slightly less serious than murder and disrespecting God. And yet it’s those sex/marriage issues that have become the most radically counter-cultural.
    Now I really am sorry if some of that is inappropriate discussion for this site. But I do want to be clear that the issue is not arbitrary or trivial. Completely apart from issues of pure entertainment and investment in the characters, many of us will have a strong and principled dislike for certain story elements from that season. The fact that I’ve had friends destroy their families over such matters makes the issue even more real and personal. Sermon over.

    Now, as I’ve said many times, I watched Chuck to have fun. And fun it was! Easily one of the most completely satisfying shows I’ve ever seen. Investing in the characters and sharing my passion and enthusiasm for Chuck at this site have been favorite hobbies of mine for several years now! But watching the malfunctions of S3 was not fun for me at all. And the fact both main characters behaved in ways I can’t endorse or relate to makes it impossible for me to enjoy those episodes. I do not mean to tell any viewer what they should or should not like in any way. But I did want to be clear my feelings on the matter are pretty foundational to who I am.

    • joe says:

      Well said, Dave.

      There’s a lot to be considered – a lot we all consider – when we choose to ignore, laugh at or laugh with the things to which we’re exposed every day in the media. Chuck in particular walked a fine line in a couple of places between the domains of funny, absurd, obnoxious and poignant.

      I, for one, was always looking for them to slip up with Casey’s politics and the occasional use of the CIA/NSA as buffoonish boogie-men. For my money, they didn’t. It remained fun, if not always in good taste.

      But the topic of human sexuality is harder, isn’t it? They can’t please everybody and maybe, given this is Sarah we’re talking about, they can’t please anybody. The tension between the era we live in versus the way we all wanted to see Chuck&Sarah as The Perfect Couple ™ makes it even more difficult, I’m sure.

      Having said that, I too think they missed it this time, with the implications. There’s nothing there to make the fans happy, so why put it out there so vividly, and then bring it up again?

      • atcDave says:

        You summed that all up very well Joe, thank you.

        You mention how buffoonish the CIA often was on the show. It definitely left me thinking a few times there was a bit of hostility towards such agencies on the part of TPTB. But I may be reading too much into that. So much of what was ridiculous was clearly played for laughs. But it is striking that Sarah seemed to be the only mostly competent and moral agent we saw (I exclude Casey because he was pointedly not moral for quite some time, which ties back to some of our Undercover Lover talk above, amazing that!); and even she needed Chuck’s guidance and occasional mission planning.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, I’ve often suspected there’s some sort of innate hostility between Hollywood and Langley. Government agencies are too routinely portrayed as banal or even evil, you know? – much like in the Jason Borne series of movies. I suppose it makes for a good story.

        It was surprising to see Casey salute a picture of Reagan on one hand (for laughs) and then make an intelligent speech on some pretty conservative virtues, including patriotism. Not often done on TV.

        As for Sarah, I loved seeing her grow enough to ask the questions and recognize Chuck’s straightforward wisdom when the questions got hard. It was done with a surprising amount of sensitivity on the part of TPTB.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah I loved how they wrote Sarah in that regard.

        It seems to me I saw Adam Baldwin describe his character once as a patriot, but a jerk. That does seem fitting! But I think over time, he infused his own politics into Casey, which helped keep the portrayal true and respectful; even if they did play up the Reagan worship, stuck in the 80s bit.

        I think a big part of the distrust towards the CIA is just the way it’s cloaked in secrecy. Even those of us who basically trust such groups may let our imaginations get carried away sometimes. I think those who fundamentally distrust the military and intelligence services really struggle with painting them in a positive light, ever.

      • Robert says:

        I totally get that some of the fans really hated that scene, I disliked it, but I believe that some people are going too far; their emotional response is too strong about it. I disliked it, but not to the point of seriously impairing my enjoyment of the show.

        And I don’t believe it’s a good idea to impose our morals over Chuck and Sarah, because they’re obviously not exactly the same than ours, isn’t it? I know I didn’t, and that’s why, while some of the things they did annoyed me, I’m not almost freaking out about what the characters did wrong in season 3.

        I agree with Earnie; perhaps it’s time to stop talking about what we (dis)liked about Season 3, and discuss about episode 1.12 again?

      • Robert says:

        And you know what I find funny?

        That those who are concerned, the characters Chuck and Sarah, have moved on, while apparently some of the fans didn’t. Heh.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s not about imposing values on fictional characters. It’s about values and morals that shape ME, and how I am going to relate to a piece of entertainment. I will not relate well to a product that makes a joke of things I hold dear. I was completely able to enjoy S4 and S5, I let the characters and writers move on from the mistake (again, a core belief of mine). But I will always consider it a mistake and don’t enjoy the moment.

        Clearly some of the language here has grown inflammatory. That is not needed or appropriate. But it is interesting my attempt at a rational explanation of why I react to certain things as I do is met with some pretty overt hostility.

      • Robert says:

        Well, Dave, I understand you dislike that part of the show, and I’m fine with it. It’s just that sometimes, it sounds overly emotional. But I get you; I’m a Christian myself, so I understand how you feel…

        The thing is I understand Ernie’s point of vue, and I understand your point of vue; but for my part, I’m right in the middle, and that’s why those scenes just annoyed me, it doesn’t devastate me, I don’t feel like Sarah has been desecrated, and I don’t feel like Sarah’s characterization has been spoiled, destroyed, etc.

        I can see that Sarah was so in pain over (thinking that she was) loosing Chuck that she did stupid things, like going back into a “Bryce-type” of relationship. And Chuck did the same stupid thing he did during seasons 1 and 2, when he thought that he wouldn’t be able to get Sarah; try to hit it on with a “normal” girl., just like he did with Lou, Jill, he did the same thing with Hannah. And while it wasn’t very entertaining to watch it, I get it, so that’s why I have some trouble to deal with fans feeling so horrified, raped, or whatever about these things.

        It’s just that Season 3 is so polarizing, that I think we will all have to agree to disagree. I just hope it won’t get that ugly again when we’ll reach Season 3 discussions.

      • atcDave says:

        I started this by saying I considered the episode mixed. It is not even on my “bad” list. I do have a strongly emotional reaction to the scene, but there’s enough good in the episode I don’t completely dislike it. I tried to explain some of the foundation for my dislike and was insulted for it. You’re completely right S3 discussions are going to be pretty ridiculous around here if we can’t even express strong feelings and opinions without it degrading into insults and shots.

        There may have to be changes made to our format. We have discussed shutting off all commentary. I would not want to see it come to that, but it’s on the table.

      • Robert says:

        Dave, just to make sure you understand, I meant no offense.

        As for commentaries, I think it really should be restricted to the episode of the week, everything else (especially about season 3), should be stopped until we reach the said episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Robert I’m sorry. I wasn’t frustrated with you. You got caught in the middle.

      • garnet says:

        The possible “innate hostility” between Hollywood and the CIA /FBI etc. can likely be explained by the lingering effects of the McCarthy era “blacklisting” of Holloywood actors, directors etc.. All it took was the suspicion that you might have at one point in your life thought a positive thought about Communism (or perhaps have worn red socks) and you would never work again. If it were me losing my livelyhood, I’d harbour a little hostility and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that Hollywood, overall, is no more forgiving than I am. And yes I’m sure there were Hollywood types who thought McCarthy didn’t go far enough, but I believe they were in the minority.

      • atcDave says:

        Except Garnet many shows are willing to make heroes of the military and intelligence agencies. And of course no one still working in Hollywood lived through the McCarthy era. I’d also point out that “Tailgunner Joe” was a senator not CIA. And it was largely the FBI who did his dirty work. The CIA doesn’t even have a mandate for domestic operations.
        If there is a connection its a pretty bad scatter shot. Like using hand grenades for weeding your lawn…

      • atcDave says:

        BTW Garnet, I don’t really mean to say I think you’re wrong. Only that if you’re right, its a really bad reason.

      • garnet says:

        Fair enough Dave. I recognize that Senator McCarthy was mainly using the FBI for his “dirty work” , but I can easily see most three letter organizations of the government being tarred with the same brush (if you can’t trust the FBI, can you trust the CIA,NSA, FDA etc). I don’t pretend to be an expert on movies with a CIA/Conspiracy theme, but off the top I can recall quite a number over the last couple of decades. Even movies that seem to portray the character(s) from the organization in question as being “good”, in my opinion , often seem to portray the organization in itself as corrupt/bad/or at least bumbling. Sometimes this message can be quite blatent, and other times it is much more subtle.

        As to the legacy of McCarthy in Hollywood, I expect you would find that, although the current crop of actors, directors etc. are mostly too young to have been a part of the witchhunts, there are current workers who had family affected by the process. As to the memory of people, I was not born during the hearings, but I, like others am quite aware of the process, and we stil hear people talking abut the effect the hearings had on their careers. Hollywood types seemed to be a major part of the hearings, possibly because of the potential for reaching and influencing large numbers of people through their work.

        Also sometimes the truth of what has been done by various organizations is almost stranger than fiction (and in a not so nice kind of way).

        Finally, conspiracy sells. Hollywood knows this and as long as movies from Bourne and Conspiracy Theory to Total Recall are making money we will see more of them. And who makes more sense as the conspirator than a shadowy organization that many are already somewhat uncomfortable with.

      • atcDave says:

        That last part goes back to what I tried to say first. I think a lot of it is just a mistrust of organizations that are fundamentally secretive. And no doubt the conspiracy part makes for good stories. Its just a little funny sometimes in a story where the government is broadly “the good guys”; and yet Sarah is really the only one who is unambiguously a good guy from beginning to end. Casey and Beckman both sort of grow into it as the show goes. But the tone is often surprisingly dark and cynical for an action comedy. And I’d call the results mixed for it.

      • garnet says:

        I am not sure that even Sarah is unambiguously good. In Helicopter we are set up to think she isn’t good, and more importantly at the end of the pilot Chuck flashes on Sarah in assasination mode….Is she good?….At that point I don’t think we are supposed to be sure.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I never doubted it. She’s done some hard things, and Chuck had a period where he wasn’t sure who he could trust (actually a couple times), but Sarah consistently came through, even though she was occasionally pressured not to (which incidentally, raises the quality of her heroics in my book). And I think the bottom line is, as a viewer, I never doubted she would do right in the end.
        And don’t get me wrong, Casey ultimately came through as well. But there was a much longer time when I wasn’t really sure.

      • joe says:

        Garnet, I think “good” isn’t the right word here. Maybe “perfect”. With Chuck worshiping Sarah, it was easy for the fans (at least, the ones I know) to get into that mode too. My gut says that TPTB really did want us to not see Sarah as “perfect,” but someone who had to earn Chuck’s respect as much as Chuck had to earn hers. They had to provide flaws for us to see.

        It was probably a tricky line. Can’t have too many flaws in a character that we all loved, could they?

    • Dave, the problem isn’t whether you like it – I don’t think anybody has a problem with anything you’ve said specifically. It’s not even the puritan moral imposition on the characters. It’s the idea that two adults who choose to have sex with each other are being “degraded,” “desecrated,” and that the very idea is “offensive to Sarah and women in general.” Everybody imposes their own set of morals on a character, but when people start making these blanket judgments people for behavior that’s well within society’s mainstream – that’s when the judging, moralizing and condescension become repugnant.

      • uplink2 says:

        Arthur read above. I never said Sarah sleeping with Shaw was offensive and degrading to women in general. I hate the idea but I accept it in that god awful story they were telling. My point was the earrings alone. Do you really think any woman would keep anything given to them by a man that tried to murder her and the man she loved? That also reminds her of the worst day of her life? Is she that materialistic? Every woman I know would have at the very least sold them or thrown them away in a heartbeat and certainly not kept them. Then they played it for humor. Now that’s offensive to women.

      • Ah. In that case, I misunderstood your point.

      • Mel says:

        Ahh, the infamous earring scene. Season 3 raped the character of Sarah Walker horribly, it was perhaps the last offense, but not the least. Uplink2 sums up why that scene is so bad nicely, some people here seemed to miss the point completely.

        It’s a sad thing, the storyline got better in s4, but for many the show had been already damaged beyond repair. Pretty much all of the best fanfiction writers stopped writing canon friendly fics at that time, and concentrated on AUs, or in some cases on their own “fixes” to the situation. It’s a small thing, but I take some comfort in the fact that the most creative minds in the fandom all agreed on Schwedak’s incompetence. 🙂

      • Faith says:

        How quickly things deteriorate. Can we at least not demean what women WHO HAVE BEEN RAPED have gone through? It is an experience that needs no comparison and for that matter doesn’t deserve making light of..those women have gone through enough!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        So you are saying anyone not offended by that scene hates women? Or the person that created that scene hates women? Or both? Do I have that right? I’m fine with criticism and not liking things, but I’ve had about enough of this equating personal distaste with a moral stance for the dignity of women. Get some perspective. It’s a freakin’ TV show.

        Criticism of this sort doesn’t just impact the creators, but also the fans of their work. Something touched on in another post today.

        A while back we had a poster calling Chris Fedak a pervert and misogynist because he didn’t like that Shaw came back again. It’s over the line and it needs to stop. This isn’t as blatant, but it is close.

        Stop it.

      • Mel. Nobody “raped” anybody. You can argue they destroyed the character. They did not rape her. Rape is rape. Don’t cheapen it for your points.

        Uplink, I won’t pile on. I get your point about the earrings, and I completely agree that it’s ridiculous she still has them. But you’re taking way too much from a lazy oversight. I mean really, what’s more in line with this group of writers? Lack of attention to detail, or deliberate attempts to make Sarah look like a thoughtless gold-digger?

      • Mel says:

        Nothing unusual about using the word figuratively. It fits here.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The language is used to provoke and to equate creative decisions with violence against women, and it has been done here before, as noted above. It is time for it to stop.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, you know I was going to write a long winded posting but decided against it. It seems for you no matter what the creative team did, no matter how many folks see something as a mistake you seem to find criticizing their work with a level of passion is somehow personal. I never said that was their intention was somehow immoral and misogynistic. Their intent was humor and that is the sad part. There are many cases of attempts at humor failing miserably and crossing the line to the offensive. That was my only point. Humor like this is disrespectful to Sarah as a character and yes to women in general. It creates the impression that the context of what those earrings represent don’t matter to her. They were expensive and cute so that’s all she cares about. Well I take issue with that. It was a joke I didn’t find in the least bit funny.

        Even the best writers make mistakes and we as an audience have the right to criticize their work. That is what I am doing. Not criticizing them as people. They wrote an attempt at humor that failed on a grand scale for me. It diminished the character of Sarah to a materialistic, clueless woman. And I think it insults women in general that she would be so small. I don’t think it was their intent to do that but that is how it came across to me and nothing you say is going to change that for me. There are many successful comedians that do some routines that some people find unfunny and offensive. This is what I saw here. It doesn’t make them bad people. Couple that with the damage they did to the Sarah character throughout that season and it becomes overly so for me.

        Ernie, for me it failed, not them as people but the attempt at humor landed like a lead balloon and crossed the line to the offensive.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, what I find unacceptable, and I have been clear on this, is when people post that certain aspects of the show are objectively offensive to women.

        Passion is fine, characterizing them as misogynists is not. There is a clear distinction. Saying you understand their intent was humor while declaring it offensive to women doesn’t mitigate it.

        There is a difference between that didn’t work and it is insulting to all women.

  9. First Impression says:

    If I were not already a fan of Casey, this episode would have done it for me.  Casey in love was a beautiful thing and Casey taking advice from Chuck was hilarious.  Chuck was in his element as an encourager, but also as someone looking in, living vicariously through Casey.  Telling Casey if he didn’t go to Ilsa he would regret it for the rest of his life was just what many of us would do.  (It’s easy to give that kingd of advice, but hard to follow when the tables are turned.)

    Yes, Casey is alive and it is great to see: his first look at the stunning Ilsa; hesitant, but going back to talk to her; hiding under the bed with Chuck; saying goodbye and Ilsa returning the necklace (Casablanca playing in the background was a nice touch.); Scotch & Neil; stumbling to the rescue; fighting while tied to Chuck; rising from the pool; and admiring his girl (“She looks good holding a gun.”).  Kudos to AB for making this story leap from the screen.

  10. bubbasuess says:

    The first time through Chuck I did not find this episode particularly appealing, which in retrospect I find surprising. I am about as much a fan of Casey as I am Chuck and Sarah. Why I did not love Undercover Lover is beyond me. There were so many great Casey moments. I especially love the contrast between the two times “Love On The Rocks” is playing. In the first he is drunk in a recliner, wearing his boxers and ‘living the dream’ with a burnt hot pocket. In the second, having just fallen 10 or so stories after fighting Russian thugs while tied up, he emerges from the pool triumphant to save his lady. Honestly, coming off the fight and the fall, the way he comes out of the pool, steam rising off of him with that determined look on his face, all to the strains of Neil Diamond; I think that is the most badass Casey moment of the entire series. I had to watch the sequence a couple more times it was so fantastic. Stylistically, that may have been the finest moment of the first season!

    • atcDave says:

      You know that’s the sequence they won their first Emmy for; the tied up fight and fall to the pool. That action alone makes this episode a ton of fun, add in some of the style and humor…
      I think this is one of the first episodes where I really liked Morgan (his interactions with Ellie). Sarah is underused here, badly. But I do like her too brief scene with Ellie.

      As I said above, I think this may be the strongest run of the series, from Undercover Lover through Tom Sawyer, is just as good as television ever gets.

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Undercover Lover (1.12) | Chuck This

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