Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04)

We’ve made it to the first of a couple stand alone episodes in season two, and the series’ first Sarah-centric episode. Although Chuck will still have a majority of the screen time, Cougars is clearly about Sarah, and we learn more about her and her back story here than we have in the entire show so far.  Notably, we learn her dad was a con man; as a minor, she was his accomplice; and that Sarah has had many aliases and the Sarah Walker ID may be a sort of alpha alias or professional/legal name.  I think this episode also sets the pattern that Sarah-centric episodes tend to be among the series’ very best.  More, after the jump.

I think this is an episode that has held up very well on re-watch.  Like all the best Chuck episodes we get a mix of comedy, action, drama and a very sweet finale.

Not a normal Sarah glamour shot…

That formula works for me every time.  A few standouts; Sarah/Yvonne’s flashback scenes, especially to her father’s arrest, very emotional and very well played.  Plus, its always fun to see a glamorous actress let herself be made up to be so, well, not glamorous.  But several other scenes stand out too, like the initial Sarah/Heather confrontation at the Orange Orange, I love Chuck flirting with disaster as Sarah is seeing red.  The pre-mission briefing is also a classic right up through Sarah impaling Chuck’s (photo) face with a pencil.

And the trend continues…  I could pretty much just mention every scene of this episode for accolades.  Its easier to make my only complaint; the second part of the “B” plot (the kegger) didn’t strike me as funny.  That’s really my only complaint this time!  I even loved the first part (“we’re basically giving away the merchandise…”), it makes me laugh every time!  And I’ve seen this episode around 30 times!

The ending is spectacular.

Maybe Chuck should quit while he’s ahead and alive!

Great friends moment for Chuck and Sarah; both for Sarah relaxing enough to offer something of herself to Chuck, and Chuck deciding he doesn’t need to know it.  This ending was the moment when I knew Chuck was more than just an excellent show. It left a smile on my face that lasted a full day after.  I still remember next morning remembering that scene, and thinking what a special and unique show Chuck was.  It was deep in my system at that point, and hasn’t faded out yet.

This is easily a top ten episode for me, although as I’ve mentioned before, my top ten list seems to run to about 30 episodes!

Okay, so gushing aside, what is the whole series impact here?  I guess the main thing is how much we learn about Sarah’s background.  This is sort of a buddy episode for Chuck and Sarah, the “romance” is on hold for now, but the friendship is blossoming.  Although even so, Chuck does still think he has a chance of getting the girl.  I wish he could remember that and be more confident of it at times, but I guess he wouldn’t quite be Chuck if that was easy for him.  We will learn a lot more about Sarah’s dysfunctional background in the near future, but I think Cougars is the biggest revelation of them all.  We now know she wasn’t hatched an agent.

The heart and soul of Chuck

We also know her childhood is both a lot like, and very different from Chuck’s.  Alike in the sense they both came from broken families and have major abandonment issues.  But so different in that Sarah really has a lot more dark, sad and lonely about her, while Chuck always had Ellie.

A Moment to Reminisce

 I thought about delaying this comment for a couple weeks (until we do Ex) for reasons that will be obvious in a minute, but I really wanted to put this up now.  This week is the four year anniversary of me getting involved with Chuck’s on-line community.  Many may remember, this time four years ago; after Tom Sawyer ran they took a week off for the presidential election (obviously misplaced priorities…).  So during the break I spent time at Wikipedia reading about Chuck (and “Chuck Bartowski” and “Sarah Walker”), then I went off to IMDb and did the same.  And I discovered, much to my horror, the NBC was quite disappointed in Chuck’s S2 ratings!  So I went to the NBC website, found the forums, and started reading.  It would be a few weeks yet before I started commenting, but my daily need for a Chuck fix moved into cyberspace four years ago this week.

~ Dave

Sarah Walker Wasn’t Hatched Either!

Nope. Casey might have been, though! 😉 Can’t you just hear the conversation around the writers table? I’m sure it went something like this:

Writer 1: We need to write a Sarah-centric story. How about we make her the daughter of a man who raises her as a con-artist and comes back to convince her to do one more con? It would be great fun to see Chuck helping a felon and meeting the dad at the same time.
Writer 2: Sounds good, but how do we have Sarah go from being a con-artist to CIA in 42 minutes? We only have 13 episodes, and that doesn’t leave us much time to explain everything. I know. How about having Sarah in a class reunion? That way, we can flash back to her con-man father being arrested by the CIA, and have Sarah recruited at the same time!
C. Fedak: [putting down the phone] Uh, the studio just called. We’ve been green-lighted for 22 episodes. Let’s do them both!

Well, I’m not sure if Cougars or Delorean was conceived first, but I’m sure glad they both made it into canon.

Like you said, Dave, there’s so much to enjoy here. As hard as it is to imagine Yvonne Strahovski in that “ugly-duckling”, braces-wearing, awkward teen stage, her performance is more than convincing. But after a season and almost a half of watching her, I don’t think many were surprised that she could pull it off. The real surprise was Nichole Richie as Heather Chandler, of course. High school queen bee. The anti-Sarah. Her nemesis, the same way Bryce Larkin was Chuck’s, but without the charm or good intentions. Who knew she had the acting chops for that?

But if there was one character I missed when Heather returned in Cubic-Z, it was her long-suffering nerd of a husband, Mark Ratner, played by Ben Savage. (And yes, that’s Fred’s real-life brother.) With a little help from Casey, Mark allows Chuck to express his inner James Bond. That’s always fun. But he also permits Chuck to say something that convinced us neither Chuck nor Sarah were prophets at the end of The Break-Up. “You know what, Mark? Sometimes the nerd gets the girl.”

Most certainly.

Amazing, how they did that. It wasn’t that many weeks earlier that Chuck was about to be free of the Intersect and free to follow his dreams, including Sarah, of course. Every time she said words like “You could have anything you want, Chuck,” fans squeeed and swooned all over the country. It came crashing down so quickly, with promises to not forget each other. Chuck and Sarah were being “just friends” by Cougars.

But if you’re going to be “just friends,” this is how you do it. Oh, it’s not easy. Chuck still wants to pry into Sarah’s past, and she doesn’t like to talk about her past, to put it mildly (which she doesn’t).

Sarah: General, I apologize, but I’m afraid I must recuse myself from this mission. My cover has been compromised.
Beckman: Agent Walker, you have pre-existing social history with the target. Seems to me like you have the perfect cover.
Sarah: But, it’s not a cover, ma’am. It’s – me!

Yes, it’s her. And Chuck is curious-desperate to know anything about Sarah’s past. But that doesn’t mean he won’t support her, even if the government won’t. It’s what friends do. It’s what Chuck does. This may be a low point for Chuck and Sarah’s future together, at least up to now. But if this is a low, then the viewing audience could have nothing but hope for the future. Sarah agrees.

Heather: I mean, why would a girl like me ever fall in love with a dorky nerd like him?
Sarah: Uh, you’d be surprised.

Heh! Not us. Not after this.

Clues all over the place, if you were in the mood to look for them! Even Casey let us in on the future in his own inimitable fashion.

Chuck: I’m glad I’m not the one who has to tell Ratner about his wife’s involvement in all of this.
Casey: That’s why love is for suckers.
Chuck: Yeah. Hey, have you seen Sarah anywhere?
Casey: Hummph. Sucker.

But that’s the future. For now, Chuck and Sarah share cheeseburgers, and that’s fine because they’re closer than ever.

Chuck even remembers she likes extra pickles.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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162 Responses to Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04)

  1. jam says:

    Cougars is a wonderful episode. I always appreciated Casey backing up Chuck with the Mad Dog cover.

    The worst thing that came out of this episode is the overuse of “Sarah likes her cheeseburgers with extra pickles” in fanfiction. 😉

    • joe says:

      You have a point there, Jam. I don’t think they ever made another reference to that anywhere in the series. Am I right?

      But it’s a cute line, and the scene is memorable because it’s so well done. Moreover, it was really in tune with what the fans were hoping to see at that time – C&S in a comfortable place and in a relationship that was obviously going somewhere. It was – nice.

      And as I type those words, and knowing what I know now about everything that comes down the pike at Chuck and Sarah, I can hear all TPTB speaking to us through Casey. “Suckers!” 😉

      • jam says:

        Yeah, I don’t think it was referenced after that.

        The entire scene is lovely and memorable. Probably one of those moments where TPTB have no idea of how important the fans consider it.

      • The Suckers line is perfect; I love how Chuck gets the joke, and is not amused at all. Chuck and Casey are dynamite together in this episode. “Mad Dog’s” attempt to be intimidating by crushing a styrofoam cup was gold! This is one of the first episodes where Casey just really seems to enjoy Chuck’s company. He even had Chuck’s back with the “don’t shoot the messenger” line.

    • authorguy says:

      I don’t see the hamburger thing nearly as much as the olives. And Chuck’s nerdgasm over the computer.
      Cougars is definitely in my top 5. Only the second time Charles Carmichael gets to come out and play. Plus a little bit of ‘shoe on the other foot’ as Chuck hijacks Sarah’s personal life for a mission, with Beckman’s full support!

  2. CaptMediocre says:

    Cougars is a top 5 episode for me.

    The pencil through Chuck’s head (an all time favorite moment 😀 ) left little doubt the conversation was over.

    The hamburger scene at the end is one of my favorites in the entire series. Such scenes were in short supply in later seasons.

  3. resaw says:

    My thanks for your reviews, gentlemen. This particular episode approached perfection in the Chuck canon. One little quotation from the Buy More storyline that I would like to highlight, though, was the line from Hope Shapiro’s Bunny (had to look up the name in IMDB) to a customer: “I live for your smile.”

    Going back to the very beginning of this particular show, when Heather recalls to “Jenny” that: “We went to high school together!” Sarah’s reaction, her shocked, “W-What?!” suggests that this news was even worse than her initial suspicion that Heather was a spy. As it turned out, her initial suspicions were also correct. And who would’ve thought that Nicole Ritchie could act as well as she did.

    I enjoyed this little piece of dialogue as well, when Heather and Sarah are left alone at their table with Casey attempting to serve the fish:
    Sarah: Go check on Chuck.
    Casey: If you promise not to fillet her before I get back.
    Sarah: I can’t promise anythiiinnggg…

    It seems to me that in an interview following the airing of this show, that Yvonne expressed her enthusiasm for the shower fight scene. Yes, it was done well, but for me it was her acting on the subtler stuff that really set her apart, that made us all root for Sarah. I suppose that actors like her who excel at the “subtle stuff” like the visceral relief of an occasional intensely physical scene. Can’t say that I blame her, and no doubt a lot of fans tend to agree, but it’s not what made me a fan.

    I also loved the way Casey ran with Mark’s misunderstanding of Chuck’s role. And, Casey calling Chuck a sucker with respect to love makes the point (one of several points that are made in this episode) that, whatever happened at the end of Break-Up, it certainly did not mean that Chuck and Sarah stopped loving each other.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that Resaw, just about every moment in this episode is perfect. I get the feeling, from interviews I’ve seen with Yvonne, that she enjoyed the very physical aspect of acting on Chuck because that’s just so much who she is. It’s obvious she is very good at, and just takes her acting very seriously; but the physical aspects are more like her idea of fun.

    • Bill says:

      Nicely put, resaw. Casey definitely saw what we saw. The break up did nothing to stall the growing affection between Chuck and Sarah.

      Re-watching these early S2 episodes now, it’s hard for me to figure out why Chuck never garnered a larger audience. This is some of the best TV ever done.

      • I think it was, and still is, a really difficult show to market. We love Chuck because its this amazing hybrid of action, comedy, love, drama, and nerd culture. But it’s also not any of those things. It’s not as overtly nerd-funny as Big Bang Theory. Chuck isn’t as weird as somebody like Monk. It’s not the character drama House or Breaking Bad are. These shows are easy to market because they can be sold on one singular aspect of the show.

        I don’t think there’s one singular aspect of Chuck that you can remove from the show’s context and display that one element well enough to say Chuck is a great show because of X. It’s a show where the sum of it’s parts is far less than the whole. The Chuck-Sarah relationship is probably the closest thing to that aspect, but romance isn’t really a marketing point in most nighttime TV. and it doesn’t draw the type of audience they wanted to sell the show to.

    • joe says:

      Arg! There’s always something that I mean to bring up in a review that gets left out! In this case, it was Bunny!

      You’re right, Resaw. Hope Shapiro’s “I live for your smile.” is one of those moments that define the show without overwhelming it, and one that comes unexpectedly. It’s a gem.

    • resaw, I don’t know if I’d call the majority of Yvonne’s performance “subtle,” although her performance in the final scene certainly is. If anything, I’d say the show shines a huge spotlight on exactly how diverse of an actress she is. Her shifts in tone and emotion throughout this episode are downright stunning. Sarah’s pain is made so much more real by the strength of Yvonne’s reactions. The worried protector in the opening scene has very little in common with her pre-date persona, and even less with the Sarah we see after Chuck has been so supportive.

      Ugh. I think I might have to watch this yet again.

      • resaw says:

        I was speaking more generally of Yvonne’s capacity for subtlety and nuance over the course of her career on Chuck, but I take your point. One small instance of her skill, already mentioned by Robert: Sarah’s emotion-choked smile when she opens Chuck’s present.

        I’m with you, Arthur. I will have to watch this yet again… and again (although I don’t know whether I’ll ever reach Dave’s level of re-watches!).

      • authorguy says:

        At the risk of opening a whole can of worms, I just saw another example of Yvonne’s wonderful work, conveying volumes without a word. I’m rewatching Fake Name for my next fanfic (pray for me!) and loved how her face lights up when Chuck comes sliding down the railing with the doughnuts, and then comes crashing down when Casey mentions how he must have gotten lucky.

      • atcDave says:

        What can I say Resaw, I REALLY liked this episode…
        Well that, and the biggest period of my Chuck addiction was during S2, I was watching an episode or two every day, and there weren’t as many episodes to re-watch back then!

        Authorguy I don’t doubt you saw some great acting there, THAT was never among my complaints!

  4. Fun episode. Loved Sarah’s flashback. Really enjoyed Chuck’s sensitivity – where did this go in later seasons? – at picking up on Sarah’s discomfort and pulling back on his teasing.

    • I don’t think it really went anywhere in later seasons. Remember the pre-date scene (Back. Off.)? Chuck needling her about her past was about the last thing she needed. It’s once she makes that absolutely clear to him that he rethinks his approach to the situation. He’s always a bit of a chowderhead before he comes around to being remarkably empathetic.

      He follows the same pattern in later seasons. There’s the C.A.R.E. scene when he’s completely clueless about her supposed pregnancy, then calms down and walks her through her emotions about it. Or his practice no’s in Seduction Impossible. Or the “Stop Helping!/Never stop helping me” flip in Cat Squad. Or his sitting her down in Baby. That switch is in pretty much every arc of the show.

    • CaptMediocre says:

      “Really enjoyed Chuck’s sensitivity – where did this go in later seasons?”

      Morgan. Chuck (and the show) became about “the grand gesture”

      • Robert says:

        Captain, see previous comment.

      • Robert says:

        Ok, OD and Captain;

        I just wanna know what were you looking for in the show, to be so disappointed (even bitter for some) with Season 4 and 5?

        I want to understand, because personally, I don’t feel that way…at all. Just curious.

      • atcDave says:

        Robert I never felt it either. A few too many times they had Chuck act on dumb advice from Morgan, but mostly I loved S4 and S5; I like to say that’s when the show became everything I wanted it to be (even more so than S3.5).

      • joe says:

        Robert, I can understand your curiosity. I’m more curious, myself, to understand why you (and I) didn’t reach that point. My one real reason for starting this whole blog was to express my own thoughts on such things just so I could better understand what I was feeling.

        But I also understand that others feel the way they feel and may not want to tell the world. Thankfully, Dave does, and Lou has in the past (probably as much to me as to anyone). I can’t ask him to explain more.

        So, with that in mind, tell me what it was about seasons 3 and 4 that kept you engaged, even when they were so demonstrably different from seasons 1 and 2. At least, but sure to tell us when we get there in a few months!

      • Robert says:

        Joe, I’ll try.

        What I loved the most in the show is the relationship between Chuck and Sarah; of course I loved the Family, or course I loved Team B and the spy missions, and I even liked (to some extent) the Buy More. But for me, from episode 1.01, I knew that Charah was the thing that got to me. The show really was about Chuck and Sarah, how Sarah was shaken to her core by that nerd, and how they would be together. The spy game, the Family, Team B was very good, but it was the enveloppe, the coating of the relationship. And TPTB acknowledged it very fast, when they realized how much chemistry Zach and Yvonne had, and how interesting that part was.

        I agree with most; Season 2 was probably the best, at least on the writing side of things, and I loved it, because Chuck and Sarah were slowly but surely overcoming the obstacles coming from the spy life and were getting closer as a result. You could clearly see that Chuck was ready to be everything for Sarah, anything she needed, it was there. And it had been beaten to death that PLI’s weren’t going to separate them. They wanted and to a certain extent were ready to explore a relationship together.

        That’s why I had some problem with another round of PLI’s; I was okay with the spy life still messing with their lives, with Sarah and Chuck being at odds because Chuck had decided he wanted to be a spy, and being oversensitive with Sarah, thinking that it ‘s what she wanted. There was no need of PLI’s again! How many times they had that since Season 1? Bryce, Lou, Jill, Cole? Four? I think the point was made; Chuck and Sarah wanted to be together.

        For me, it was the natural progression of the show. The show simply couldn’t stay with the Season 2 status quo for much longer. That is one of the reasons that I was happy to finally see Chuck and Sarah together. Even the cast was like; “Finally!!!”

        And from that point on, I knew that they would have to go through the challenges made by the mix between spy life, and real life. And it was very touching and amusing to see them dealing with that, while seeing Sarah going more and more into “normal” life. Think! In 4.02, she was freaking out about the idea of kids and wedding; 8 months later, she was married. I thought part of the second half of Season 4 was a bit weak, but it became great again with Wedding Planner.

        And season 5 was even better, because they were closer and closer to settle down, because Chuck was supporting Sarah (even if perhaps we didn’t see it exactly like Season 2), and she was coming back to what she really was before the spy life, the nerdy girl she was in 2.04. Perhaps we were seeing less of Chuck directly, but we saw how he affected Sarah, Casey, and even Morgan.

        Perhaps Chuck was more prone to great gestures, because he was now a hero, a man, not a man-child anymore, and he still had some trouble to deal with that; but after a bit of drama, he was always back to what he always was. Just one example is Chuck trying to find Sarah’s dream home; but when she made him understand that her dream was simpler, he found it immediately. Still being everything for Sarah, for anything she needed.

        And that’s what I loved the most about season 4 and 5; the human aspect; the learning to live and to love for Chuck and Sarah, the road to normal life, completely out of the spy game, free to be completely together without any fear, or secrets. My interesting was less academic, or intellectual, it was emotional, I rooted for these two, and I was glad to see where they got, together.

        In a way, for me, it’s as if TPTB made the show as if Chuck was telling the story of “how I met your mother” to their kids, or friends.

      • atcDave says:

        Robert my sentiments are very similar. I knew from the Pilot that Chuck and Sarah were both wonderful characters and were what the show was going to be about to me, although I wasn’t sure quite how the pacing on any romance would be, until Tango when I felt pretty sure it would move along quickly and be a major focus of the show. In fact I mentioned to another Chuck viewer the next day I was sure they’d be married in season four. I agree completely with your take on the other love interests and S3. I think I liked the back part of S4 better than you seem to; I would agree Vivian was a weaker villain, but otherwise I like those episodes a lot and I never felt Vivian was a horrible drag, just not their best baddie.
        I think the thing I missed most in later seasons was with the budget cuts the quality of effects and stunt work was clearly compromised. I wasn’t nuts about the occasional whiny, very neurotic Chuck we saw, but Curse was the only episode I thought was very seriously damaged by it. I very much liked the growth of Sarah and Morgan in those later seasons; Sarah’s growth in particular was dramatic enough to completely make the show for me. As if she wasn’t already the easiest character to watch! In those last two seasons she was the most exciting and satisfying character to watch too.

      • Robert says:

        “I very much liked the growth of Sarah and Morgan in those later seasons; Sarah’s growth in particular was dramatic enough to completely make the show for me. As if she wasn’t already the easiest character to watch! In those last two seasons she was the most exciting and satisfying character to watch too”

        I agree. Sarah was a joy to watch in the last two seasons. I loved to watch her journey towards Chuck and the normal life. It was so great to see her opening up and blooming more and more as she got accustomed to “normal life”, And it was nice to see Chuck be there for her, fighting for her when she got a bit astray, or in danger.

        In those seasons, you could clearly see how well they complemented each other; they really cover each other’s blind spots very well, even when the other was not aware of it. But I loved also to watch Chuck’s effect on Sarah; just like in Hack-Off, with Sarah talking to Gertrude, and trying to help her open up. This is Chuck’s doing. And how Chuck, in Business Trip immediately identified the assasin; this is Sarah’s doing. They took in each other’s best qualities.

        Morgan manned up extremely. He took too much of the screentime for my tastes, but I must admit he came a long way from being the annoying sidekick (that I hated then) he was during Season 1.

        As for the latter part of Season 4, let’s just say that I felt it was a bit weaker precisely because Vivian Volkov was not as impressive and threatening as Aleksei. But overall, Season 4 is my favorite (Season 5 being close second).

      • Hi Rob.

        As Joe mentioned, I’ve made my feelings known before but since you asked – here is a brief summary of my views on the show’s rise and fall.

        1) The building up of characters at the expense of others – mostly Chuck. Most of his better qualities, including his intelligence, were siphoned off to build up the other characters – notably Morgan’s rise at Chuck’s demise.

        It is no coincidence that when people mention which characters they liked best as the series moved into it’s later seasons that the main character of the show – Chuck – is rarely mentioned.

        The show lost the things I really liked about the Chuck character mid-season 3 – never IMO to recover them. And those qualities were the very things I perceived that Sarah was attracted to as well. So I don’t buy their relationships in later seasons.

        The only reason they are together is because the show put them together not because they belonged together.

        2) Inconsistent, contradictory and sloppy mythology. The rules over how the Intersect worked, what was different between the versions, who could handle it etc ever changing because of see point 3.

        3) Plot driving character instead of vice-versa. Chuck does not want to be a spy. Chuck does want to be a spy. Sarah does not want to be a spy. Sarah want to be a spy. General Beckman fully trusts the team. General Beckman does not trust the team. etc etc

        Ellie leaves to go to Chicago knowing her sister-in-law has lost her memories and that she is the de facto Intersect Tech expert. Ellie accepts Chuck being a spy with nonchalance after he lied to her for 4 years.

        4) Retconning – Papa B left to protect the family. No, PapaB left to protect a friend. Threw that character under the bus and yet that retconn has no impact on Chuck or Ellie or their feelings towards their father.

        Don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of the MamaB arc.

        5) Subjectively by the time the show limped into the 4th season, the inconsistencies in character and story exceeded my love for the characters as they were presented to us in the first 2 and a half seasons.

        The show no longer felt honest. It felt contrived.

        My opinion. But that’s how I feel about the show and its legacy of unfulfilled promise.

        But man those first three seasons up until the PLIs in Season 3 were so compelling, engrossing and entertaining!

        Those are memories I hold onto and will cherish forever.

      • Robert says:

        Thanks Old Darth, for your honest answers..

        I understand better your position. I don’t agree with everything you say(especially the first point), but I understand your reasons better, and the time you took to write it, and for that, I thank you.

      • You are most welcome Robert. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

        Cheers!

      • Wow, Robert, that’s pretty much exactly my opinion on it, although the weakness of 4.5 is why I prefer season 5 as a whole – just no weak episodes except maybe Curse.

        The coolest part of seasons 3.5-5, to me, was how everybody in the extended family was finally on the same side. That collective decision of every character (even Jeffster, by the end) to put each other’s happiness over their own well-being created a selfless dynamic in the show that truly felt earned. In so many shows, that feels forced, like a trope. In Chuck, they’d led up to that point, and seasons 2 and even 3 had everything to do with these people earning each other’s trust and loyalty – as well as the consequences of the opposite.

        Maybe there were more grand gestures in the show after season 2, but the bigness of those gestures only rose in proportion to the strides they were making. Are the gestures in Push Mix grander than in Cougars? Maybe. But the transformation they’re undergoing is also grander. As great as Cougars is, the scene in Push Mix when the nurse asks who is Ellie’s family, and they collectively answer “We are,” signifies a greater growth in relationships than anything here.

        The burger scene is beautiful, and it’s a real deepening in their relationship. But it doesn’t transform their relationship. That happens later, in Colonel, The Ring, The Other Guy, Push Mix, Phase 3, Cliffhangers, etc. The subtle stuff doesn’t go away – remember the Piranha in Hack Off? It’s just harder to notice under the more important aspects, which is the definition of subtle.

        In a way, I think Lou is right in her first point, although Chuck certainly continues to grow. But the show reflects the direction of the protagonist. In seasons 1-3, Chuck is a young man trying to find himself and his place in the world, and the show is focused squarely on him and his growth. In 3.5-5, Chuck is an adult trying to rebuild his childhood family and begin a new one. And the show, too, begins to focus on the extended family as a whole, more than it’s titular character. 4 and 5 are certainly less sharply written, but they reflect one of the purest expressions of love that I’ve ever scene in fiction. That’s when I fell in love with the show.

      • Robert says:

        Great post, Arthur;

        I really liked how you described the differences between seasons 1-3, and 4-5 regarding Chuck; focus on him taking his place , then on him founding a family with Sarah, and reuniting his own.

      • Bill says:

        I want to see what those of you who really enjoyed seasons 4 and 5 saw. I really want to. On my first watch, though, I saw what old darth saw. The main character wasn’t that funny any more, the romantic tension was gone, and the spy plots were, for the most part, uninspired. I’ve been surprised by the reverence for those seasons amongst this group, and I’m hoping that when we get to them during this re-watch, I’ll see something more there.

        I’m hoping.

        I’m really hoping.

      • uplink2 says:

        OD, though I don’t agree with all I think that was a very well written perspective on your view of the series. From our discussions here and other places it has always seemed to me that you focused on the Chuck character. Because of that, and I agree with this assessment, when they diminished the Chuck character to raise others the later seasons were not as fulfilling as the earlier ones for those that focus on Chuck. It is clear that in S2, especially in episodes like this one, the show was hitting on all cylinders. It had the perfect mix of great writing, romance, spy story, and nerdiness to be some of the best entertainment ever on television.

        But all of that changed in season 3. TPTP may want to blame a great deal of it on the lower budget and that had some impact, but they forgot to tell a compelling story or at least the elements that were compelling, Chuck’s journey to becoming a spy and Sarah’s realization she wanted a real life with Chuck more than being a spy and her fear that she drove him to the darkness of the life she no longer wanted, all gets lost under the stench of the PLI story they chose to tell. Fedak said in that great interview with Mo Ryan that the season was built around putting Chuck and Sarah together in episode 13. But what the audience saw instead was the goal of the first 13 was to delay with pointless LI’s, Chuck and Sarah getting together til ep 13 and there is a big difference there. Schwartz said we wouldn’t get WTWT fatigue well did he miss the mark with that comment. The great story that I can see bits and pieces of, in part from some of the great commenters here like you and Ernie, just can’t ever escape from the stench of the PLI stories they irreparably damaged the show with. That damage was never fully recovered from especially for the Chuck character. And it shows in how you and others like BigKev etc did not enjoy season 4. The Capt has said many times that DYLM was unfulfilling because they didn’t earn it. We didn’t see the damage their LI story created be reconciled because it was now ep 13 and they had to put them together whether they earned it or not. How do you go from “You killed someone Chuckl” and “I don’t” to “Yes” and “My Chuck” in 42 minutes of screen time and make it believable? You don’t, but we accept it because the misery was over. It’s like getting hit over the head continuously for weeks on end and not caring why it stopped, just that it did. They counted on us to ignore that because they got them together finally.

        For someone like me who focuses on the Sarah character season 4 is my favorite. Her growth and the fact that though they were threatened, the relationship never was made for a great story for me. But I agree with you that the Mary story was a disaster. I discussed this with BillatWork today and playing the is she good, is she bad game really did a disservice to her story. The plot holes of helping Volkoff blow up their family home, the PSP that I still to this day have no idea why she said Stephen never wanted Chuck to see, to having the biggest villain in the world be madly in love with her for 20 years and we are supposed to believe they never had sex is just beyond absurd. They tried to have their cake and eat it too. Show us a baddie but still keep her redeemable as Chuck’s misunderstood mom. I mean she helped Volkoff sell nuclear weapons to Costa Gravis and never once contacted the CIA with any info. The simple idea that she kept in contact with Stephen all those years and relayed some intel out would have made for a much better story. But it was an incredibly ill conceived story and I overlook it because season 4 was the season of Sarah and she is why I watched.

        I’d say for me the writing peaked and the show creatively peaked in season 2 but my enjoyment peaked in season 4. But I love reading thoughtful explanations like your above.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill the most obvious thing to say is that it’s just all a matter of opinion and taste. I can see “reasons” for preferring one season over another, but the bottom line will always just be about how it works for you. Broadly speaking, I think the first two seasons were best for the character Chuck, the last two were better for Sarah. We can find exceptions and argue over specifics, but I think that sums it up.

        Uplink, very well put, especially like your comment about 3.13. I would add, it’s a good episode in its own right and I enjoy it; but it falls short of explaining or justifying the “journey” to get there.

      • Great points all.

        Your post is accurate uplink – Chuck was my fav character. I should point out that I could have still quite enjoyed the show if the other points I mentioned had not become so pronounced.

        If the story telling is not honest, no matter how awesome a character is, then I can’t get invested in them because the manipulations, and all fiction is manipulation, are too obvious and clumsy,

        And in the latter half of the series, often contradictory ie character serving plot instead of the other way around.

        A real shame because the show had so much potential at one point.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Robert,

        I’ve been thinking about your question for a little bit, so I apologize for the delay in replying. Also, this might be a little bit all over the place.

        In hindsight now I would have to say that my issue with the Chuck character started with Intersect 2.0. The idea is likely OK, but it became a crutch for TPTB and much of the qualities we had come to admire in Chuck were shelved in order to show off the 2.0.

        As far as Sarah, well let’s just say that the Sarah Walker I knew wasn’t in S3.

        I’ll be honest, If Pink Slip had been the pilot (and it many ways it was since it basically introduced a new show and new characters we’d never seen before that were difficult to like and or have any empathy for) I doubt I would have made it to the end of the episode before changing the channel.
        I’ve discovered that if a show doesn’t have likeable characters, it’s not for me. And there were no likeable characters for a good portion of S3.

        As uplink states aboves, to me DYLM is the most unearned moment of the series, because by the end of Final Exam, Chuck and Sarah had more problems to being together than they did at the end of S2. 12 episodes of drama, resolved in a millisecond because there was no time. It’s false and makes the relationship and what come after less than what it was previously. So although the characters are together, it’s hollow.

        S3, S4 and S5 (to a lesser degree until the finale) all suffer from the same story telling issues:
        1. Having the fans fill in the blanks in order to perceive a coherent story (this is impossible for S3). Honestly, that’s their job, not mine.
        2. Not resolving the drama, but instead sweeping it under the rug.
        3. Diminishing one character to raise the other. (Sarah was sidelined numerous times for Chuck to have a BDHM. The reverse is Fear of Death is used to turn Chuck into an idiot (unnecessarily IMO) so Phase 3 (an excellent episode regardless) can occur.
        4. The schizophrenic storytelling of episodes like Santa Suit and Baby. These are really good episodes and simultaneously they are really bad episodes. Good for the character moments, but bad for the overall story.

        It’s kinda late, no nobody asked me at the time, but you asked what I was looking for in the show. For one time, preferably the last time it would have been nice to see BOTH Chuck AND Sarah fighting for the same thing as equals, like oh, I don’t know, life after the spy life.

      • atcDave says:

        CaptM I would agree with almost all of your specific comments, although I don’t believe the continuity issues on Chuck were necessarily worse than most other television. Given that “fun” matters more to me than strict continuity, I can usually overlook it. But of course that’s makes S3 the worst of both worlds, it just didn’t work for me on any level. And exactly as you said, I never would have made through Pink Slip if it had been a new show. I guess I don’t share your specific complaint with Fear of Death, I actually mostly liked that episode; but I do agree with the greater point. I think Sarah was made to look like an idiot in Gobbler (not to mention Final Exam, Oi!), and Chuck was pretty unlikable in Curse. I can not tolerate that sort of story telling very easily, at least not if the main character(s) (which means Chuck AND Sarah to me) are made to look so bad.

      • uplink2 says:

        What’s sad is that most of those problems with later seasons are caused mainly by simple lazy writing. It’s easier to sweep it under the rug than to resolve the drama. Though I love Baby it will never be a top 5 episode for me because of the ridiculous retconning at the end. It is probably my least favorite Sarah centric episode. I’m not a fan of Bryce Larkin or the “protecting Chuck” redemption storyline but he is a very important character that they simply act like never existed. It would have been a far more powerful ending if instead of the file on Chuck she was handed a file on her new ‘partner’ Bryce Larkin or almost as good, the Cats. I suppose they couldn’t use Bomer’s likeness but it could have simply been a closed file with his name on top. Plus Sarah was never sent there to be his handler. She was sent to find out if he was working with Bryce, get the info back if possible and then most likely kill him. I won’t go into the absurdity of Shaw being behind the conspiracy from a jail cell and not being de-intersected but these are all examples of lazy writing. Something we almost never saw in season 1 and 2. But from Pink Slip on the show became too often contrived, manipulative and was more content with sweeping plot holes under the rug than resolving them.

        Maybe someday I or some other FF writer will write the Season 3 story with Bryce and not Shaw. And I know this is very very wrong of me and incredibly petty but I can’t help being a little bit happy that Partners was cancelled by CBS today.

      • authorguy says:

        Hmmm, an S3 AU with Bryce? You couldn’t have mentioned this a few months ago? I have some idea for a Bryce story that will explain his rather contradictory behavior in S1 and S2 but I think it’s a little late for S3. I don’t usually revisit my previous stories, so another S3 story from me will be unlikely after I get done, unless i can fit it into the cracks of what I’ve already got.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I can always handle minor glitches, like in Baby. I can’t even call that a Retcon, it comes down to one poorly chosen word. Had Graham said AiC instead, problem solved. Even with handler, if the expectation was she would eventually have one or more agents or assets she would be responsible for, the usage is correct. But agent-in-charge would have solved nearly everything. It’s one sloppy word choice, it hardly damages anything to me, I’m often guilty of far worse in conversation.
        But stories that hang on characters behaving stupidly, or contrary to how they’ve acted in the past (like say, all of S3…) annoy me every time. This is hardly unique to Chuck, I’m sure we can all think of examples (anyone remember the cat Jonesy from Alien!?), but when the greatest strength of the show is appealing characters the problem becomes geometrically worse.

      • jam says:

        Bryce instead of Shaw would almost certainly have worked better (Bomer can actually act, is quite charismatic etc). That is, if they didn’t try any PLI stuff with him, because that would have ruined the season no matter who they used. The show was so past that after S2.

      • Robert says:

        Captain, thank you for taking the time to explain your position.

        Regarding what Uplink and many said, here’s my two cents; you will realize that it fits with some of the things that you said, but bear with me:

        I think we all agree that Season 2 was thrilling, and left us in a good place regarding the show, right? It’s a no brainer.

        Personally, I think the problem with Season 3.0 (specifically) is that the first 12 episodes were conceived, planned, made to “stall” Chuck and Sarah getting together for the sake of cheap drama (not well written, intelligently constructed, and well executed, sorry Josh Schwartz). And it went completely against what Season 2 had established so far (especially in 2.21 and 2.22), that the next step was Chuck and Sarah getting together in 3.01, it interrupted the natural flow of the show (I think the same thing can also be said for the mythology, and Team B. as well.), the natural progression that had worked to a T until then.

        They served another round of WT/WT (something that had been resolved 4 times already), a badly conceived threat (The Ring/Shaw), separated Chuck and Sarah for a reason that went against what was established at the end of Season 2 (“I will have my life with the woman that I love”, and the fact that Sarah clearly had chosen Chuck over the spy life, for example, by not going with Bryce for the new Intersect project, and telling Chuck that her feelings were real), and worst, they made it last for 12 episodes, and, inevitably, when they finally got together in 3.13, it was good (everybody can agree with that), but it felt rushed.

        Why wasting 12 episodes? I’m positive that those episodes would’ve been written better, more in the same flow than season 2, had they been used otherwise, and if TPTB had decided to stick with their original plan, which was having the end of The Ring/Shaw in episode 3.08; THEN they would’ve have had plenty of time to show us Chuck and Sarah slowly reconnecting (first as friends, similar to what they did at the end of 3.03), talking about and resolving the differences they had, and finally giving their relationship a go, together, calmly.

        It would’ve worked better, would’ve felt less rushed, and everyone would’ve been satisfied, even OD. I understand some weren’t able to overlook that, but I did, because I was so happy to finally see the story going again in the right direction (at least about Chuck and Sarah), that it didn’t stop my enjoyment of the show, because the natural flow of the show was reestablished.

        But, with Chuck and Sarah being now a couple, it was only natural that the show was more about a new entity “Chuck-and-Sarah”, and not just Chuck on his side, Sarah on her own side, etc. It was only natural that sometimes, the focus was on Sarah more than Chuck, because she still had much work to do to finally get that normal life. The focus was much more on “Chuck and Sarah”, and much less on Team B. the Buy More, and the spy game.

        For my part, I was really happy, because “Chuck and Sarah” was the main reason I was watching the show (after all, Seasons 4 and 5 where about how Sarah learned to stop worrying and quit the spy life to have a family with Chuck), and Team B. the mythology of the Family, the Buy More, was just the context of their relationship. Of course, those who loved those things first and foremost became disappointed, and I totally get that. But it wasn’t for me, and it didn’t really bother me.

        I was able to leave behind the bad taste that Season 3.0 left in my mouth, and glad to finally get back to the real story, what was coming next for Chuck and Sarah, and leaving behind all that stalling that almost killed the show for me (and, sadly, killed it for some).

        Perhaps the only thing I would’ve liked is if they would’ve cut some parts of the show that weren’t really needed anymore, like the Buy More, or less Morgan. I mean, Morgan in the know is one thing; Morgan part of the team, that’s another. TPTB loved Morgan too much…

      • Robert says:

        Jam, I agree with you.

        I think it would’ve worked better if the Agent in Charge would’ve been Bryce Larkin (as it was originally planned, apparently). As for making him again a PLI for Sarah, it wouldn’t have been fun to watch, but at least it would’ve been more believable, because at least they had an history together of being a couple. And it would’ve been more believable for Sarah, thinking she had lost Chuck, to fall back on a loveless spy relationship.

        And can you imagine Bryce Larkin holding Sarah under his gun, threatening to kill her, and Chuck shooting him to save Sarah? That would’ve been crazy, but very powerful emotionally.

      • uplink2 says:

        I am amazed that no, at least none that I’ve found, have tried to write their version of the rumored original Season 3 plan. With Bryce as the ‘mentor’ and not Shaw and the relationship issues being resolved before Final Exam where it was originally planned for the ‘stake date’ to in fact be a real date. I think that could be a very good read.

        But I have to finish my S3 AU first and 2 of my next 4 story ideas have some element of S3 so not sure if I can get there any time soon.

        Dave though I see your point about a poorly chosen word, that very fact points once again to the lazy writing and the complete lack of concern for their over-arching mythology. You see it in S4 with the retconning of the most hated moment ever in the series, the name reveal, with the name at the top of the pre-nup and the complete lack of Shaw mentioning Sam in Santa Suit. They swept that God awful moment under the rug like it never happened. The only time it is ever mentioned was when Ali wrote it in Subway before FN even aired and the audience reacted so poorly to it. I still think that handing her Bryce’s file at the end of Baby would have been much more honest to the series mythology.

        Yet even with all of that I still like S4 and 5 up until the last 30 seconds a lot.

      • uplink2 says:

        Is that original plan for S3 posted anywhere I can read? I remember a blog called Completely Comfortable that posted it in detail but it has long since disappeared. Does anyone know where I can find it?

      • Robert says:

        Uplink, I didn’t know it was avalaible at some point; the only time I heard about the original plan was in a Fedak interview with Sepinwall.

        Fedak said that the plan, at first, was ending the Ring/Shaw arc around 3.07, 3.08, and with a last fight between Chuck and Shaw (with Sarah’s life at stake) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. He talked about it very briefly, and was very vague about it.

      • uplink2 says:

        This wasn’t the Ring/Shaw story but the Bryce season 3 story. It was based on the show starting season 3 on time in September with Bryce as his traditional impediment to Charah and the climax of the relationship angst was to happen about 3.08 in the November sweeps. It also talked about the stake date being originally a real date as they built back to a relationship like S2 that ends with them together in 3.13. That blog was only up for a few months and then disappeared. That fact made me believe it was from someone who got it close to real and maybe was asked to take it down.

      • Robert says:

        Oh, sorry! I remember reading something about that; that it was planned as you briefly described it, but they couldn’t do it because Matt Bomer was in “White Collar”.

        I guess it meant for TPTB a page 1 rewrite, and that would partially explain why the new version of season 3.0 felt so rushed.

        Season 3.0 would’ve been so much better had it happened the way you described it! And more believable others would add.

      • atcDave says:

        Well no surprise, I agree a lot with Robert on all of this. The main way I enjoy the last two seasons is just by ignoring S3. Although obviously, that season still burns me up when I think on it.
        But I’ve always thought Bryce would have played better in the foil part. But I really think the time was past for true triangles regardless; three for each main character is just absurd. I can’t even imagine how a writer could have ever thought that was a good idea. As I’ve said quite a few times, I could imagine the basic set up working if the third parties (Shaw(or Bryce) and Hannah) were just stalkers, and played for laughs. Especially if Chuck and Sarah are together, but not supposed to be. You can have them arranging all sorts of fun rendezvous while shooing off their suitors with ridiculous excuses (I thought your great Aunt Martha died last month???) And as I always say, we might have even cared about the eventual tragedy of Shaw (or Bryce)if the character had been in some way sympathetic. Like if he’d actually been a good friend and mentor to Chuck, while unknowingly pursuing Chuck’s girl, that could have worked.
        But it’s all part of a decision to go darker in S3, and drag out the wt/wt PAST its breaking point, that just really, hopelessly crippled the story for me.

        Which is all beside the point… I started out wanting to say that Bryce as a character with a history (with Sarah) would have been a far more interesting rival for Chuck, EVEN IF we knew he didn’t have a chance with her. Chuck would still struggle with feeling insecure or inadequate around Bryce, and we still could have had some angst generated because Sarah could not assure Chuck when Bryce is around. I could see that playing out quite well, without the sort of character destroying/soul crushing idiocy they actually wrote. And of course, Bomer is a much stronger actor, so no doubt any such scenes would have played better than what we saw.

      • anthropocene says:

        Wow, this is one loooong thread!

        I know it’s already been discussed here—I’m one of those who think that extending WT/WT into season 3 could have been done in a creative, dramatic, and possibly even enjoyable way by making it a direct and immediate consequence of Chuck having uploaded the Intersect 2.0. The insane Chuck/Governor arc at the end of S3 was, IMHO, only a brief and superficial take on this idea. How much better it would have been to watch Chuck struggling to gain control over the 2.0 while Sarah fought to help him and they both fought to preserve their relationship—as a backdrop to their ongoing CIA missions—all season long.

        As thoroughly disappointed as I was after watching “vs. the Pink Slip,” I remember being excited by the dramatic potential suggested by the scene where Beckman tells Sarah that they must now protect the world from Chuck. But TPTB went nowhere with it.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Dave I see it differently and maybe I’m actually writing an outline for a fic with this posting lol

        I see that story beginning with Bryce get’s shot but doesn’t die. Plausible with how they ended Ring 1 with him being dragged away. Let them still have the ridiculous Pink Slip episode as well as Three Words. The injuries Bryce suffers make him unable to go back into the field so he is chosen to be Chuck’s mentor at the end of Three Words. He knows Chuck and what was expected of him with the 2.0. He also sees how hurt Sarah is by Chuck’s treatment of her. But I’m surprisingly going to give Bryce the benefit of the doubt that he really did understand he had lost Sarah forever on the beach in Ring 1. So he does the honorable thing and backs off with the excuse of the mission, making Chuck a real 2.0, comes first. Chuck still thinks he is losing Sarah to Bryce this time because of his failings in Prague and how he has to be trained by “the perfect spy”. His emotions cause problems with the Intersect. Sarah reaches out to Bryce because she is hurt and thinks she wants the safety of empty spy love but he says he can’t do that to the only people he cares about who he knows love each other. Chuck changes Bryce’s view of the spy life when he sees that his betrayal at Stanford was all for naught.

        You have some Ring related mission where Bryce tries to be the Agent he once was and get’s captured. Chuck ends up doing an American Hero type thing where he sacrifices himself so that Sarah can be happy with Bryce. Sarah sees that falls for him hard and Bryce walks out of the picture because he realizes Chuck doesn’t need him anymore. He is the better spy. You still have Beard, Tic Tac without the god awful cab scene You get the stake date being a real date where they finally have a “fountain moment” where they talk about Prague and two episodes of Ring drama that leads to Chuck and Sarah together in the hotel in Paris.

        Just spitballing there and I can’t believe I made Bryce the good guy lol.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I really don’t like the sound of any of that Uplink. Starting with “give them Pink Slip…” To me, that’s where the wheels came off on S3, and there’s is just no where to go from there that I wanted to follow. It’s way too down to be fun, its not anything I want to invest an hour or more of my time on.
        I think you can do external forces keeping them apart, and fighting to be together. But any form of giving up on each other, is a story I will give up on. Its just not what I was watching for.

        And Anthro, I disagree about the whole “fighting to protect the world from Chuck” bit. I remember just rolling my eyes at that line (which we saw well before the episode ran in previews), and thinking “this isn’t at all promising.”

      • Uplink, why do you think it’s impossible that Sarah and Bryce/cats never had handlers? Certainly the idea of the cat squad lent itself to having one, and if Sarah and Bryce happened, then a short mission in Baby, I don’t really see a problem. Bryce and Sarah weren’t necessarily partners when he sent the Intersect to Chuck. We never saw much of any of those back stories, I don’t find it that implausible if, as in Baby, they assigned handlers to skilled agents.

      • atcDave says:

        I think that’s all exactly right Arthur. And at least according to Wikipedia, real CIA field agents DO have handlers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually the whole protect the world from Chuck thing, though I agree largely ignored in the front 13 aside from a sort of demonstration of the potential in Tic Tac, combined with Tooth, where they revealed that the CIA knew the intersect had the potential to take over laid the groundwork for one of the best Chuck villains ever, Alexi Volkoff.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Handlers make a great deal of sense even for seasoned field agents in the Chuck-verse. Only the handler would know the full mission and its goals, so that if captured, the field agent couldn’t reveal the full mission intel or the other agents.

        In fact both Sarah and Casey did have handlers in the first two seasons, their names where Graham and Beckman. They revealed to Sarah or Casey the parts of the mission they felt they needed to know to do their part and protect Chuck.

  5. You Guys…………..Just when I thought I might get in early with some worthwhile comments,Dave & Joe cover everything with their excellent summary.Wait,they haven’t mentioned “Mad Dog”-then Jam beat me to that as well!!!!!
    Wonderful episode with so many moments that make you smile or just feel good accompanied by that “warm glow feeling “(the ending)that only Chuck can give-It reaches the parts other shows just can’t reach!!!!
    Have to add that I agree with Lou,always love the early scene in Orange Orange,Chuck causing Sarah maximum discomfort as evidenced again by Yvonne’s marvellous facial expressions. One knew even then the episode was going to be a corker!!!

    • joe says:

      Heh. Spot on, Yoza (which is easier to type than Graham on a day when I’m feeling particularly lazy…).

      I always want to criticize (not critique, but criticize) this episode for not moving the C&S relationship forward. It almost seems to put it in a comfortable stasis that could have gone on forever. That would have been the standard formula (see Ross & Rachel, Booth & Brennen, Patrick & Terresa, Annie & Augie (? maybe), even Kate and Rick, until recently).

      But I can’t. You and Lou are right. That “warm glow feeling” and Chuck’s sensitivity are perfect. Not over-done and saccharine (a common thing, I find), and yet strong enough to satisfy the ‘shippers.

  6. Robert says:

    One of my favorites not just of Season 2, but the entire series.

    What I really liked is that Chuck was there for Sarah when she was vulnerable. You could see that Sarah didn’t like being vulnerable, but she really loved the fact that he got her back, was there for her, with no strings attached.

    Officially, their romance was on hold, but not really. It was clear that the feelings they had for one another were as strong as ever. It was obvious in various scenes, such as the “cheeseburger” scene (just watch her reaction when Chuck tells her “as much as you don’t think so…”, when he brought her a present (the mauve dress, she couldn’t stop her smile from showing), or at the party, when Sarah clearly was uncomfortable, helpless (“I got your back, Sarah”). She was grateful.

    I think it’s one of the time he got the closest to the real Sarah, buried under the spy persona, until they got together.

    Bill, the show never garnered a large audience because NBC did a bad job handling the show; they tried to turn a unique show into a regular one, with all the tv tropes available. And the fact that there wasn’t a lot of the stuff that draw a regular audience in (violence, horror, supernatural, graphic sex), it didn’t work as well as NBC hoped for. Without forgetting how bad their publicity campaign was made; just imagine if they would’ve done it the way they did for Season 3, but during Season 2…

  7. I’m glad everybody is on the same page, here. This is a downright special episode. It’s also one of the first really good Buy More plots. I love how Morgan plays along with Lester’s only idea, only to pick him up at the end (and, being Morgan, fail at it). Sarah’s fight scene is spectacular, and she just flexes her acting muscle all over this one. It’s not an episode I think about much in top-ten conversations, but maybe it should be. It holds up as well as any other episode, and it’s just rock solid from start to finish, with literally no bad parts. Just a great Chuck episode.

  8. garnet says:

    WowI had always thought that there was more ambivalence regarding this episode. It doesn’t seem to show up on the only ten top ten lists that I have seen. I have always thought it was great andit is one of my favourites.We were given a great background story and we now know a little more about what makes Sarah tick. We may not know everything, but we know enough, and Chuck saying “no” to asking a question….Wo!. Good on you Chuck!

    I also thought Niclole did an excellent job as the baddie there.

    • atcDave says:

      I think a big part of the problem with ranking episodes is that there are so many really good ones. As I say, there are 30 on my top ten list..Cougars may not make a lot of lists as it isn’t one of the big, game changing episodes like most of the finales or premiers. But it is certainly among my favorites.

  9. garnet says:

    Perhaps it is because it is a traditional “Ugly Duckling” story set in the Chuckverse. If nothing else it shows us that the unappreciated can become best of all (super agent Walker)! AIt is a feel good story and Chuck’s involvement is almost secondary.

    But then again Chuck also has his moment as Mad Dog and that is fun to watch as well. It reminded me of an old episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King where the Ruskies think Amanda is Scarecrow and whatever she does they remain convinced that she is the agent they want….even when they are captured. It was a nice fun episode then and the concept works well in this setting too (I guess it is also it is a replay of First Date, and Colt’s belief in Agent Carmichael as well).

  10. ref51907 says:

    This one is near the top of my list as far as favorites of the series. We don’t know it yet but she was a cute little girl having adventures with her dad. (vs. The Wedding Planner) What events led her to become this type of teenager? What changed here? We aren’t given many clues.
    -What we do see is Sarah as a normal teenage girl. She wore braces, who hasn’t? Maybe she was clumsy. Maybe she hadn’t quite grown into her body yet, still felt awkward. Life with her dad probably caused a deep sense of loneliness. She probably didn’t have many, if any friends. It was known that her dad was a felon and teenagers can be so mean. Perhaps she was not attractive to a teenage boy but you get the sense from watching her that something is lurking just beneath the surface.
    -For me this episode is a great introduction to her back past, and gives us just enough information to leave us wanting more answers.
    Did she every really doubt that Chuck would have her back?

    Erik

    • resaw says:

      ref51907 says: “For me this episode is a great introduction to her back past, and gives us just enough information to leave us wanting more answers.” Given the general consensus here, does that mean the answer to Joe’s question regarding the appropriate set of three episodes to introduce Chuck to “The Newcomer” should include this episode? I don’t believe it was mentioned in the context of that particular post.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I mentioned it! I showed it to a woman friend who I thought would appreciate emphasis on Sarah and the reunion theme. It was a good success, she immediately added the show to her DVR.

  11. Dave, I’d like to see you narrow that thirty episode top ten list you mentioned down to an actual Top Ten List of your favorite episodes with maybe a brief description of why. It might be a little fun to compare those lists. And it’s set me to thinking…”Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”

    • atcDave says:

      That might be fun to do at some point. I have no doubt it would trigger some good, ferocious “discussion”. We are all VERY different.
      So far, whenever I’ve thought about it, I just end up with a jumble I call “strong”, “average”, “weak” (and a small number of “yuck” that seem to all be from the same season…). As I’ve said before, I always enjoy the strong and average episodes, I even mostly enjoy the weak episodes; I think that’s like 83 episodes in those three categories. But the exact ordering does change some with my mood, and many rankings are just too close to call.
      But perhaps I could do a post just breaking the episodes out by category. I’m looking for ideas to do during the S3 re-watch, as I’m hoping to leave the actual re-watch threads to folks who actually want to watch those episodes (yeah right, we’ll see how well THAT goes…). I am sure I’ll do at least one fan fiction post entirely on S3 AUs.

    • Robert says:

      I decided to try. Here’s my take for today:

      #10: The Marlin (everything was working together; the Buy More, the spy mission, and you can see the first crack in Sarah’s spy face, showing her love for Chuck.
      #9: The Wedding Planner: Jack Burton’s return, Team B. working well, Chuck’s acknowledgment by Sarah’s dad.
      #8: The Baby; how Sarah finally realized that she was better working with Chuck’s help. That sweet conversation on their bed. Molly’s rescue by Sarah (she will be a nice mom).
      #7: The Broken Heart: Sarah’s first rescue of Chuck. Freaking out because she had to leave him.
      #6: The First Date: Chuck inviting Sarah for a real date at the OO, the said date, Mr. Colt finding Chuck “imposing”.
      #5: The Cliffhanger: Chuck’s “Phase Three” episode. The Wedding, and the dry run.
      #4: Phase Three; Sarah’s second rescue of Chuck. Sarah is a power house, blond she-made indeed! How much she loves Chuck, with or without the Intersect.
      #3: The Cougars: for all the reasons I stated above.
      #2: The Colonel: Chuck and Sarah’s “real” love, almost doing it, Casey coming to their rescue.
      #1: The Honeymooners: Finally together! Loving each other. Sweet gestures, one funny mission, “They are feeling good” in the last scene, one of the sweetest of the show.

      • atcDave says:

        I like your list, I might rank some differently, but every one of those would be on my “strong” list.

      • Robert says:

        It’s your turn to give it a shot, Dave…

      • That’s wild, Robert. I usually agree with everything you say, but my list would be totally different.

        I do like the idea of Cliffhanger being Chuck’s Phase 3, I never thought of it like that. I watched that one again pretty recently; it has some of my favorite music drops of the series.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, an unofficial stab at favorites…

        10.Best Friend
        9. Cougars
        8. Pilot
        7. DeLorean
        6. Tango
        5. First Date
        4. Colonel
        3. Baby
        2. Phase Three
        1. Honeymooners

        I reserve the right to change my mind on these at any time! Well, I’m pretty locked on the top three. But really, the next seven, and another twenty all can switch around at any time. Often it’s whatever I’ve seen most recently, so trying to pick from whole run of the show is very tough. I can’t believe I had to leave off Marlin, and Break Up, and Santa Claus, and Wedding Planner, and, well, you get the idea…)

      • Robert says:

        It was very tough to narrow my favorite episodes to ten, a lot of “I can’t believe I’m leaving episode X out!” too!

        But I had to choose my 10 favorites amongst my favorites.

        Dave, I’m curious; why do you hold Tango in such high regard, to the point of putting it in your top ten list?

      • atcDave says:

        Its the first episode where they did everything exactly right, I think. Its funny, with great action, it establishes the earliest form of Charah. I loved how Chuck was shown as very intelligent but socially awkward; I liked and believed in him at that point. Hard to say why all, but I’m sure after the Pilot its the episode I’ve watched the next most.

      • I refuse to be limited to 10:
        10. First Date
        10. Cougars
        10. Other Guy
        10. Best Friend
        6. Delorean
        6. Phase 3
        6. Wedding Planner
        6. Marlin
        5. Baby
        4. Pilot
        3. Ring
        2. Colonel
        1. Honeymooners

        10 more episodes are tied for 14th, including some controversial ones.

      • atcDave says:

        Once again, I like your list Jeff, every one of those episodes would be on my “strong” list.

  12. thinkling says:

    Cougars is quite easily in my top ten, too. Although, my top ten is a bit like Dave’s.

    I love Chuck digging around in Sarah’s past, much to her annoyance. Love the Beckman/Sarah exchange and Beckman’s line I hope YOU like Italian food. And the last scene is one of the series’ best.

    Two things stand out as I think about it (other than the things that have stood out before): It is very much a shoe-on-the-other-foot kind of episode. Chuck is almost in control, as Sarah struggles with her discomfort, and it is so much fun to watch. He is, indeed, the man. He is in the role of handler for both Mark and Sarah. He tells them both he has their back. And he does.

    The other thing is that it is a time for epiphanies for both Chuck and Sarah. They both get a glimpse of the other at a deeper level. Chuck sees the real Sarah, and more than just her not liking olives, or even that she went to school in San Diego. He realizes that he does indeed know her, and that the details aren’t that important. Part of that is the realization that she loves him. As he tells Mark that sometimes the nerd gets the girl, and Sarah slo-mos into the gym and gives him that look (yeah that look) … he knows it’s true. He got the girl.

    Sarah sees a deeper side of Chuck, too. She already knows he has hero potential: to defuse bombs, stop arms dealers, and swing in to save her life. But this time she sees him as more: the guy who has her back, not Sarah the spy, but Sarah the woman. He sees her … knows her, and it’s not so bad, after all. It’s a bookend to Baby when she finally surrenders and lets him be that guy utterly and completely.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for weighing in Thinkling! Good observation about the role reversal role reversal, Chuck had her back in the way he is best qualified to.

    • Robert says:

      I love how you described their epiphanies, Thinkling. That is why I love this episode so much; for a moment, like you said, they see each other without masks, they see what lies beneath, and they really loved what they saw.

      And as Sarah was Chuck’s guide (and protector) in the spy world, so is Chuck for her (the woman, the person behind the spy mask) in the real world.

  13. One observation regarding the scene where Chuck gets figuratively skewered when Sarah throws his pencil at their picture on her dresser. Why is that picture there? We know the reason Chuck has similar photos is all about their cover. *cough* But Sarah doesn’t need a picture on her dresser for that reason, does she? One can only hope he sees the significance of that. Seeing that picture there should make Chuck ask questions other than, “How do you do that?” 🙂

    • Faith says:

      We know or so we find out later that that photo makes Sarah feels safe. So an early Easter egg clue why she had it. *Squee*

    • Robert says:

      Yep! There’s no reason for Sarah to have that picture on her desk…except if it is real for her; that deep in her heart, Chuck really is her boyfriend. And like Faith said, we know how Sarah felt about it. “Squee” indeed!

    • uplink2 says:

      That pic was also the Easter egg to the fact that Sarah had already decided to go with Chuck when she is packing in her hotel room BEFORE Casey shows up to tell her about him shooting the mole. The way the director focuses on it is a huge clue as it wasn’t there at the end of Final Exam.

      • Robert says:

        Yep! Some might argue, but it was clear, with the picture back where it was since at least 2.04, that Sarah had made her choice; Chuck! Casey’s visit just alleviate the last doubt she harbored about her decision. She was very pleased that Chuck didn’t kill the mole (and lost himself), but she was also pleased to realize that she had made the right choice.

      • ref51907 says:

        For me that particular scene was never really about Sarah but like always, Yvonne made the Sarah portion of that scene jump out at the viewer. For my money It was more about Casey and his apparent uneasiness with having his former partner and friend, Sarah, make a similar life choice, love or love of country as he would put it, without knowing all the facts.
        But as far as Sarah goes, that picture is very very important to her.

        Erik

      • Robert says:

        I agree, Ref.

        The scene was about Casey coming clean to Sarah about Chuck not having shot the mole, because earlier, when he was in the truck, he heard Sarah doubting Chuck about that. So he felt he had to confess he did it, not Chuck. But Sarah was such a ray of sunshinei in that scene (because she was overjoyed that Chuck was still “Her Chuck”, and because she understood that Chuck kept silent to protect Casey) that she steals it!

        Like he said, when it was about Sarah and Chuck, Casey was a big softy. He rooted for them (but never tell him that).

    • aerox says:

      There are plenty of moments where Chuck, if he’d think rationally about it, should have a LOT of questions about Sarah’s behaviour, Angus 😉

  14. JennyChuckFan says:

    Chuck vs the Cougars is my favorite episode of the entire series for several reasons:
    1. Sarah centric episodes are always my favorite since she is my favorite character
    2. Loved that Sarah was called Jenny in this episode:D
    3. “Cory” from Boy Meets World being in the episode was awesome and I loved the way he idolized “Special Agent Carmichael.”
    4. I graduated high school in 1998 and loved hearing all of the late 90’s music at the reunion.
    5. Seeing young, awkward Sarah was awesome and Yvonne was very convincing in those scenes. The makeup person deserved an Emmy for making her look unattractive, LOL.
    6. Casey as the DJ. Nuff said:D
    7. Nicole Richie was surprisingly good.
    8. The shower fight scene might be my favorite in the entire series.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Welcome to the blog Jenny. And thanks for the plug in the YvonneDaily forums. (I read it on a regular basis but don’t post so I recognized your name.) This board is always more fun when we have more people commenting and sharing the Chuck love, and I think we’re probably the most active Chuck fansite left, so thanks for spreading the word.

      I think you’ll like it here since there are a lot of Sarah/Yvonne fans who feel the same as your point 1. Have a look through the archives for some Sarah-love from a few of our authors. And by all means join in the conversation!

      I’d also recommend you check out a few of the Sarah-centric posts in our archives. You can search by selecting “Inside Sarah” on the Categories tab just under the RSS feed on the sidebar.

      *Sorry that search tip didn’t make it in the first attempt to post.

      • JennyChuckFan says:

        Ernie,

        Thank you for the welcome and I look forward to looking through the archives. This is a great blog!

    • atcDave says:

      Well you have been busy Jenny! I would certainly agree this is a very strong episode. The more time passes, the harder it is for me to pick favorites, but no doubt I enjoy this one every time I see it. And I agree entirely that the five Sarah-centric episodes are among the series’ best (I’d say they’re all in the top ten, but you know I have 30 episodes in my top ten…)
      Glad to see you bringing some enthusiasm to our site. We’ve almost to DeLorean on our weekly re-watch, definitely another of the S2 highlights to me.

    • joe says:

      Welcome, Jenny (I like the name too!). And… what Ernie said!

      Hum. Did you know “Cory”, Ben Savage, is the brother of Fred, who stared in The Wonder Years and in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride? Of course you did! I’m big into family connections, like Danny and Christopher Masterson, Danica and Crystal McKellar, Ron and Clint Howard, Josh and Rick Gomez…

    • Mel says:

      Now they’re actually trying to do a Boy Meets World spinoff, with the original “Cory” and “Topanga” both returning.

      I agree Richie was surprisingly good.

      I like that video mostly for Yvonne’s lovely accented “oh no no I don’t know” in the end, though.

  15. candm3407 says:

    This episode ranks very high for me. the reason is the Sarah theme episode always appeal to me because we learn more about the character and her back story. This episode also explains a lot of why Sarah is so shut off toward the world. between her father being arrested and the student at her high school hackling her for it Sarah was happy that Langston came into the picture.

    This was the episode that also show how close Sarah and Chuck are becoming. It also reminded me of Ala Mater with how Chuck was reluctant to go to Stanford and Sarah was there for him. Sarah and Chuck at this point are willing to help each other there is no question about that. They may not be together, but they certainly act like they are a couple with the bickering in the hotel at the beginning and the comforting Chuck does for Sarah in regards to telling her she has to go to the reunion. Its classic Sarah and Chuck.

    What I also like about this episode is I start to wonder about Langston. I really would like to know how dirty he was. I always felt that Langston was dangerous I mean look at what he did to Sarah. He made her into a killer just like Rykker did.

    So many episodes like this one will go down as a classic because Nicole Richie is surprisingly really good for the role of Heather Chandler. However, I think her role in Cubic Z was better.

    My favorite scene is at the restaurant when Sarah dumps wine on Chuck’s lap and than shows her knife skills to Heather which was very funny stuff, and then Chuck getting the credit for taking out the Russian Mafia thugs.

  16. revdr says:

    Cougars is one of those turning point episodes for both Chuck and Sarah. We finally get a glimpse into Sarah’s past, and we discover that is a past that was quite painful for her. But we also see that it’s life changer for her . The pictures at the gym and the Sarah that we now see are two completely different people….from ugly duckling to swan….but also we come to realize along the way that this is also an episode about changing the direction of your life. Crossroads. Young Sarah’s decision not to run when she’s confronted by Graham shows that she wants something more; and now our Sarah, again at a point of confusion, comes to understand that she facing another decision that could change her life. It isn’t always easy confronting your past, but likewise it isn’t always to easy facing your future. Especially when you aren’t sure that you deserve that future. The constant for her in Cougars is Chuck. Although he seems to be having a little too much fun in digging into her past, he shows her that, in no uncertain terms that he is there for her, and he gets to be her protector for a change. As for Chuck, he comes to realize that the past is the past, and the Sarah that he has come care for is this Sarah, and in the end, that is all he needs. Sarah also gets to voice out loud, for the first time, that she has indeed fallen for Chuck. That it comes while fighting “mean girl” Heather doesn’t really matter, it’s the saying it that makes it real for her. So Cougars is all about change; and possibilities.

    • atcDave says:

      That’s all very well put rev.

      One of the things interesting to me about this episode is how much we learn about Sarah. And considering that DeLorean isn’t too far off, we really learn a lot quickly. But this is over a year since the series started. So I find it fun to read so much excellent fan fiction that was written in that year, that makes wild and completely eroneous guesses about Sarah’s background.

    • thinkling says:

      Agree with all of the Revdr. Cougars is one of my absolute favorites. Like you, I loved Sarah’s confession to Heather. I also loved Sarah’s slo-mo into the gym (and the look she gave Chuck) followed by Chuck’s epiphany, voiced to Mark … sometimes the nerd gets the girl.

  17. candm3407 says:

    The interesting thing about Cougars is the fact that Sarah only stories tend to be very good episodes. However, I still think Phase Three is better than the two episodes of season 2. The reason is we get a very emotional Sarah, and she is forced to live life without Chuck.

    Sarah: I will do anything to get him back, I am not going to take you down with me….your right I am different without Chuck and I don’t like it.
    Casey: you need me
    Sarah: No, I need Chuck…. <—– This is very important more than saying I love you because all those scenes that we saw where she feared of Chuck being Bunkered or dying came to life.

    . The only time I can think of that brought more emotion out of Sarah was Best Friend, when Sarah thought Chuck was in the car.

    Confronting the past is difficult even for Chuck. When he went back to stanford or saw Jill it was gut wrenching for him much like it was for Sarah. However, the beauty scene for me was how Chuck brought the cheeseburger to Sarah's place and she gave him the opportunity to ask her about her past, but being the charming man he is didn't go for it. He respects and loves Sarah and won't bother her about the past because as he said he knows the Sarah Walker now and likes what he sees, and the smile she gives him showed that her love for him just grew deeper. For the first time in her life someone is not judging her based on her past. Its refreshing for her.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah all five Sarah centered episodes go on my top ten list.

      • thinkling says:

        Me too!!! And what still amazes me is that by the time Phase 3 rolled around CF was still surprised at how popular an episode it was.

      • atcDave says:

        Well, he wasn’t watching the same show I was!

      • authorguy says:

        That’s very true. The creator of any fiction has an idea in his head of what it’s about, and that can often be very different from what other people think. We all bring our own points of view to the table. They wanted their Hero’s Journey, while we all saw the love story. It’s too bad they weren’t better at putting the two of them together.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think 90% of the time it worked very well. As we’ve observed, the only real disconnect was that the show runners saw the Hero’s Journey as the main point, and the love story as the major secondary story. While many of us (possibly most) saw the love story as the main point. That disconnect worked fine most of the time; but I’d say it was a major problem only in S3, a minor problem on several other occasions.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It always amazes me how far out of context people take Fedak’s statements sometimes. If you read about his concerns with Phase 3 he was worried about the episode precisely because he knew how popular Sarah was with the fans, and having her do some pretty nasty things was what concerned him. We should also remember that we only saw what made it to the screen. There could have been even more that concerned him that was cut.

        People also like to claim he was surprised by how good together Chuck and Sarah were in Honeymooners when what he is actually saying was that it was precicely because of his experience with how good they were together that they had confidence they could pull off changing a very integral dynamic of the show, the star-crossed romance, by removing the last of the obstacles and putting them together.

        Sorry for the mini-rant, but it sometimes gnaws at me how far people go to paint TPTB as clueless about the show that they created and ran for 5 years.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ernie, we are SOOOO on the same page. I couldn’t agree more.

      • atcDave says:

        They created an excellent show. That provides plenty of evidence about their cluelessness. I have no problem with both being true.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m not sure I get what you are saying Dave. That they created an excellent show is evidence of their cluelessness?

      • joe says:

        Tastes Great!
        Less Filling!
        Stop!!! You’re both right!

        I’m not King Solomon, splitting the baby down the middle – but I play him on the Internet! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Great and perfect are not the same thing. I’m fine with loving the show, and seeing flaws and shortcomings. I think I’m generous in praise, there is so much that was very well done and I love pointing it out. But there are things all the way from initial concept, to execution, that look like fumbles. Some I think are just differences between what the show runners wanted to do, and what I wanted to see.
        I can think of three major disconnects between the show runners and me, two of them I’ll label as clueless because I think a significant or major share of the audience saw things more like me. The first is just Morgan. I would have been happy with far less Morgan than we saw. Some viewers feel more strongly about this than I do. And some viewers liked Morgan a lot. In fact, my own discussions with more casual viewers always make it look like Morgan is more popular among those casual viewers than he is here on line. So I won’t really call that a failing of any sort, it’s just purely a difference of taste and not a big deal.
        The second issue is the priority of Sarah, and by extension the romance. From quite early on I believe she was the most popular character on the show (pretty much from the very start according to old NBC polls). Although I very much appreciate that her part grew dramatically in S4 and S5, I think they fumbled VERY badly in how her role was reduced for the season before. This I’m more willing to call clueless, especially the smaller less appealing treatment of her in S3. It makes “concerns” about how Phase Three would be received even sillier. They don’t worry about making her a total moron, but then they do worry about showing her as a larger than life hero? I would have been happiest with Sarah getting completely equal treatment and screen time as Chuck. Obviously, it’s their show, and they don’t have to do it if they don’t want; but this remains a bigger disconnect between the writers and me.
        The third, and by far biggest disconnect, is their willingness to sometimes portray Chuck as an idiot and buffoon. Going back to S1 they gave me a protagonist I could root for, identify with and respect. Then on odd occasion, they would make him a contemptible, whiney jerk. The first episode badly damaged by this was Third Dimension (I mention this because it was a CF penned episode). But having just re-watched Curse I find myself completely exasperated by it. Making Chuck into a whiney idiotic buffoon can only be called clueless. A show built on the affection viewers have for the two main characters, and drawing in a large nerd audience with a well conceived and appealing nerd character; and then they make that character into a stupid unappealing caricature of nerd… Not cool. Disrespectful of their own character AND their audience. Yeah, I’ll call that clueless.
        Unfortunately this will be a big part of the episode write up I have to do for this week. So sometimes I do not feel very charitable towards our show runners at all. It doesn’t change they fact they gave us an awesome show with characters we all love and root for. But the show wasn’t perfect and some of its shortcomings look profoundly clueless to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Looking over my previous comment, I just want to be clear I don’t regard any of this as a huge thing.
        Some of this is just inevitable, that the creators of the product will have a different view of it than the viewers. They always knew exactly what they meant to do and for better or worse, will always see things through that filter.
        As viewers we will see things differently, and of course we each bring our own preferences, thoughts and experience into things.

        In the end, that I can put so much of my own passion and enthusiasm into THEIR product is remarkable. Where my preferences and theirs deviate is slim enough that I can even consider the issue. They generated enough energy in me that I’m here talking about it, unlike nearly everything else I’ve ever seen where even fundamental flaws earn only a shrug.

      • noblz says:

        atcDave, Ernie

        I don’t see TPTB as clueless at times as much as not realizing what was the most valuable part of the show and arguably the most popular character on the show. I only have heartburn with the first half of season 3. As I have ranted in the past, this is a business and if you roll out something that upsets a sizeable portion of your, at that point, incredibly loyal fans then you are hurting your business. The show never fully recovered from the season 3 dive and this probably shortened the show by a year or two.

        Otherwise, I was happy with the story direction for the rest of the seasons, hence I don’t really have alternatives as much as some things I would have liked to have seen. I never cared for Morgan and the bromance, but hey, it didn’t ruin the show or anything, I just didn’t care for it. Also, like atcDave, the primary cause of my “duds” is one of the characters being made to look ridiculous. Usually, this is Chuck, but Sarah also gets a couple of those in S3. Happily, only 10 or so of these from the whole series.

        Bottom line: loved the totality of the show, the first half of S3 was a fail for me but unlike 2.5 million other viewers I hung in there and there was a great payoff. Just sad its gone.

      • oldresorter says:

        One comment I’d make about my own tumultuous ride as a fan of Chuck, often the only showrunner comments I recall were about things I didn’t like. Hence I tend to hold TPTB in contempt for those comments. Times I recall listening to them for guidance include after the Mask, before Hero, before s5, then both before and after the final on the beach. In fairness to TPTB, I doubt God could make me like what they did on screen or what they had to say about it in those select instances, at least without the threat of firebolts or eternal damnation to force me to accept the explanation.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave as always we’re mostly eye to eye on that.

        Jason, wow, I wouldn’t put it quite that strong! But obviously there’s certain elements of the story I never cared for much. But I generally felt pretty good that my worst grievances were fixed by S4. So while we were talking above about disconnects, I actually felt pretty good about how many of my complaints were tacitly acknowledged and fixed. That was an actual “connect”, I felt like the show runner saw and addressed some of the exact things I was worried about (especially Chuck’s lying).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’ll just clarify a few things. First Dave, I largely agree with you. I have no problem with you considering their choices clueless or boneheaded as a personal matter. An as a concession I will say that outside what I see as the original source of the “Oh my god Chris Fedak is surprised that Chuck and Sarah are good together in Honeymooners when it was obvious to fans all along!” meme, needs to be, in my opinion, tortuously parsed to get that, he has said that he considered going from the longing star-crossed lovers to a real couple a bit of a gamble. And he’s right, we may not want to acknowledge it or admit it, we may think it was the most obvious thing in the world, but without the talents of Zach and Yvonne and some great writing they might not have pulled it off. He gambled on them being able to pull it off, and was pleasantly surprised how well they did and said so. But there were also fans who basically said that they thought that Chuck and Sarah had become boring in season 4. There is always a gamble in changing something like the fundamental nature of the relationship between a couple that people love, whether we like to admit it or not, and him expressing that honestly shouldn’t be taken and used as a cudgel to beat him with. As an example I’ll just say there was a period of several weeks were I was pretty sure Castle had fumbled their attempt at a transition, so you can see that these things can be subjective. And yes, a pretty big chunk of fans was dissatisfied.

        The OC Spoilers follow.

        But one thing Josh Schwartz has talked about in his The OC experience in the 10 year interviews was how sometimes the fans hand you a no-win, like the death of Marissa Cooper.

        He was well aware that among one group of fans she was immensely popular, and among another, the weakest thing on the show, so he stuck with his vision of the character, there is no happy ending for her, and this show is not about her but about Ryan, the troubled son of an alcoholic mother who abandoned him, who seems to be falling for a destructive alcoholic. He killed her off, earning the eternal enmity of a faction of his fan base and the eternal gratitude of another.

        End of The OC spoilers

        That said I’ll move on to my next point. While I do have issues with execution, and pre-season 3 didn’t see why they were apparently choosing to cover what I considered well trod ground, once I stepped back and looked at what they chose to do to the characters and what it set up, I can’t fault them for choosing that direction. There was a lot of potential, not always realized, in exploring some aspects of the characters that was probably always going to alienate some portion of the fan base. That is always going to be a matter of individual perspective, but they weren’t helped by some poor execution of their choices that didn’t help those who may have been predisposed to enjoy some of what they were trying to do actually enjoy it. But I will say this, I don’t want to watch a Chuck that doesn’t include season 3.0. I think it would suffer from the absence of those episodes, and on balance be a lesser show, so in the end, I am glad they made the choices they made.

        But that wasn’t what my original post was about.

        I have no problem with people considering their choices clueless or boneheaded as a personal matter, or saying the show was less than it could have been (though that too is an issue with me to some degree, letting perfect, which can’t be achieved, be the standard against which excellence is judged). What bothered me, and what I was trying to respond to was something very similar to things the fandom “knows” and that enter into fanon. And I’m not making accusations about anyone posting here, but it became a part of the fanon that Chris Fedak had no clue that Chuck and Sarah together could be great before Honeymooners when he basically gambled the future of the show on that happening based on previous seasons. And basically said so. I find it galling that people twist his statements about how pleased he was with Phase 3 when he considered it risky (based largely on season 3’s experience of how little people liked them exploring Sarah Walker, emotional train wreck or morally compromised) and, let’s face it, based on the #EmmyForYvonne campaign clearly put a ton of pressure on Yvonne pulling off an immense range of performances and moods (think of the penultimate scene with her delivering two polar opposites of the same dialog) many changing on a dime. I know we all love Yvonne and think her superwoman, but when an episode depends on what we consider an Emmy worthy performance a serious show runner, no matter how much confidence he has in his stars has to have a certain bit of trepidation that an Emmy-worthy performance will be what the audience sees in the end when large portions of said audience have rebelled at explorations of certain aspects of that character by that same actress previously.

        In the end, a part of this is a personal view that after two years we should have come to terms with the show we got rather than mourning the perfect the show TPTB could never deliver to all fans, and accept our reaction to it. But, with an apparent up tic in interest, and with a number of new readers and posters, I feel that I need to present an alternate view, and make my case, when what I consider unfounded fanon makes it’s way into the conversation.

        To me, Chuck was the most interesting character on the show. Sarah Walker was a pretty stock character (the gunslinger who wants to find a way out of that life but her past haunts her and holds her back). Yvonne’s performance elevated that of course, but Chuck’s attempt to enter, and rule, a world he was fundamentally temperamentally unsuited for, and to succeed, and to act as Sarah’s shot at redemption (with occasional failures) was far more compelling to me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sarah’s story, loved the character, but there is no Sarah Bartowski without Chuck Bartowski and his journey from directionless nerd to selfless hero. To me, showing him as a directionless nerd, a buffoon on occasion, was necessary. To me, showing Sarah as an emotional train wreck in need of someone who can show her the path to redemption was necessary.

        We will never agree on all of this, and I fully understand and accept that many will consider TPTB to have acted foolishly, cluelessly, and stupidly at times. I just want to point out that when the fanon starts to try to “prove” that TPTB were clueless as a baseline assumption, the counter argument needs to be made.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree it is a risk anytime a show runner changes any element of a show’s formula. Any change is bound to upset or alienate a certain portion of the fan base. Which means I completely understand the no win situation JS felt he was in on OC, I’m not surprised there are viewers who liked Chuck less because Chuck and Sarah eventually got together, and there are fans who disliked Chuck becoming an agent.
        But those issues are sort of foundational to telling any story. At some point, NOT making those changes will upset or alienate more people than making them will (this is clearly AMONG the problems with Chuck S3). I have no doubt knowing when to make what change is a stressful, nerve wracking part of being a show runner. But, telling their story well is, un-ironically, exactly the standard we hold them to. It’s kind of the whole point.

        I can easily and happily imagine a version of Chuck where those aspects I liked least were either done differently or simply omitted. I never expect a show or character to be perfect. But there’s a difference between failings I can laugh along with, and failings that cause me to think less of a character. Having just watched Curse again I find it maddening that such a decision was ever made to make Chuck look soooo stupid and unlikable. Things like that its not even close, I wish the story had been handled much differently.

        As far as the flawed product we have, well I’m still here because, on balance, I think we got an awesome show. But the complaints I have, the flaws I see, will never be anything other than flaws in my eyes. I see no value in painting an inaccurately rosy picture. The contrary, I want the show’s legacy to be precisely accurate. Well, as precise as we can get when discussing opinion and taste.
        I want more television I will enjoy in the future. And especially at this current time, when so much of what’s getting made is not to my liking, I want to be very clear about what worked and what didn’t. Not to be a jerk, but because I want television I like. I always expect others to write about what they like too. And I enjoy the debate, even sometimes when it looks like an argument, because I like the challenge to refine and clarify the dimensions of my own taste. And I think its a ton of fun to find both those who will challenge me, AND those who will back me up!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I see no value in painting an inaccurately rosy picture.

        I don’t think I have ever presented or argued for a rosy picture. I’ve always admitted the show had it’s flaws.

        As for Curse, you need to accept something that is tough to accept, it is a pretty contrived episode. The professional spies come to the same conclusion as Chuck, just not before Chuck decided he needed to act on his conclusions.

        You can not call Chuck clueless when Beckman, Casey and Sarah end up persuaded by his arguments and coming to the same conclusion. You may conclude that the plot is ridiculously contrived, which it is, but as presented, Chuck cannot be a buffoon without Sarah, Beckman, and Casey also being buffoons.

      • atcDave says:

        Contrived doesn’t really bother me, its pretty unavoidable given what an abbreviated treatment the spy story part of the show often gets.
        But I disagree, sort of, about everyone else looking dumb. It is Chuck’s whole belief in the curse that irks me beyond words; and then even worse, his lack of faith in his wife to back him up. This is stupid Chuck at his worst. The pits of S3 are the only other time I so wanted to just smack him.
        In the end, Sarah lectures Chuck about the choices we make, and her speech is pretty much exactly what I’d been yelling at my screen for 30 minutes.

        Of course the whole situation is pretty ridiculous. I actually find the conclusion arrived at by everyone to be a stupid conclusion (so yes, I agree with you in that sense). Turning over something as dangerous as the Omen shouldn’t even be considered. But that’s almost beside the point, it would never have been a big deal either way if the story was otherwise entertaining. But Chuck abandoning his team and his wife over a moronic belief in a curse leaves me with contempt for the character, and makes it impossible for me to enjoy the episode. Really a pity since there is otherwise so much good.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well the way I look at it he didn’t abandon his team, he was counting on them. Sarah’s idea of going with him wasn’t something he wanted to do precisely because of what happened, they had a hostage and he broke immediately rather than see someone he loved tortured. I’ll agree all the curse talk was ridiculous after an initial mentioning to establish the run away to protect those you love idea as on Chuck’s mind.

      • atcDave says:

        There is a moment I love right near the end that almost redeems all of it. When Chuck mentions an angry wife coming for her husband. But I really needed some earlier dialogue to more clearly indicate he was counting on that outcome, like maybe leaving Sarah a note to track him, or just have Sarah say to Casey that she’s getting a good signal on Chuck’s watch. Something to show Chuck was thinking.

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie, I really didn’t mean to start a Chuck-storm. I had never heard the entire context of CF’s comment about Phase 3, so that makes is more understandable.

        That said, however, I think even the line of thinking you expressed (about fan’s being displeased with his exploration of Sarah’s character before — like S3 and maybe CV) shows the same kind of disconnect with fan’s that some of us see, in that he still didn’t fully grasp exactly which paths of exploration led to the torches and pitchforks. Thankfully, non of those treacherous paths were even on the Phase 3 map. And if it was a lack of confidence in Yvonne to pull off a great performance … well, that risk just goes with reaching for great instead of mediocre. The finale depended (even more so) on tour de force performances from both leads, and yet he expressed no qualms whatsoever about that decision (either before or after), which turned out much less popular than Phase 3 ever risked being. (And you know I see the finale in a much better light than after first viewing, and I defend it as a valid story, well told and well executed. But it had, and still has, severe backlash that I think took CF completely by surprise. (I thought Zac did a great job expressing a good understanding of both CF’s decision and the fans’ reactions.) These are the reasons, some of us talk about a disconnect between CF and fans. I fully admit that there are many things that go into such decisions, and I mostly loved the show. (Like Dave said, we’re still here talking about it with great passion.) I respect CF, but, for me personally, I would be guarded with the level of my emotional investment in any of his future endeavors. I never bash him. At least I hope I don’t. If it ever comes across as that, please, let me know. The most I’ll say is that there is a degree of disconnect between him and a significant portion of fans. (Heh, even Zach said, in that recent interview, that show runners see the show differently from fans.)

        One last thought. You said:

        To me, Chuck was the most interesting character on the show. Sarah Walker was a pretty stock character (the gunslinger who wants to find a way out of that life but her past haunts her and holds her back). Yvonne’s performance elevated that of course, but Chuck’s attempt to enter, and rule, a world he was fundamentally temperamentally unsuited for, and to succeed, and to act as Sarah’s shot at redemption (with occasional failures) was far more compelling to me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sarah’s story, loved the character, but there is no Sarah Bartowski without Chuck Bartowski and his journey from directionless nerd to selfless hero.

        To me it’s not that simple. I know they could have made Sarah a stock character, but they took a different path on the beach in the pilot. With the words Trust me, Chuck, and a shoulder bump, Sarah became as much a part of Chuck’s journey as he had become of her redemption with the ballerina. (And yes Yvonne elevated the role unimaginably.) I know that Chuck is the main character, but Chuck and Sarah’s interdependence and the entwining of their journeys was what made the show for me. I suppose they could have told Chuck’s hero journey without Sarah (just Morgan and Casey and a stock girl-friend), but it probably wouldn’t have been a show I would have watched for very long. (Come to think of it, that’s kind of what they tried in S3. They took Sarah away and gave Chuck a super-spy mentor (Shaw) and a stock girl-friend (Hannah). In the end, Chuck, too, decided the journey wasn’t worth taking without Sarah.)

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, no harm done. Like I said, this is one of those things that has made it’s way in to fanon as fact, so I don’t blame anyone for having that impression, I just like to correct it on occasion.

        Certainly no show runner can know the tastes or likely reaction to all of their fans, but I seem to recall CF saying something about not doing a “safe” finale, indicating he knew there would be risks associated with it. One of them being Yvonne had to play another version of Sarah for much of it (I love the commentary where Zach talks about watching Yvonne figure out how to play an almost bitchy and cold Sarah and getting a little smile on her face as she figured it out.)

        I’d agree that as the show went along they added many, many layers and subtleties to Sarah’s character, but Chuck’s journey was well established in season 1 and rock solid by the end of season 2. I never really “got” Sarah’s till well into season 3. There were (and still are) many who said they hated the way Sarah was just a plot device. I never saw her that way, but I did think her story was the rather simple one I described till well in to season 2 before I realized (probably in the Cougars/DeLorean context) that they had something more in mind for her.

    • candm3407 says:

      Ernie and Dave,
      Team Bartowski’s habit of going out on their own is not something new to the series. They do it quite often. Casey with Ty Bennett and Robert patrick Sarah with Delorean and the Baby phase three. Chuck with his father the curse. Its comical how the theme of the show was for them to trust each other. Yet they didn’t want to “get them involved”
      Chuck didn’t say anything to Sarah about his search for Orion or that his brain was being overwhelmed. Its ridiculous because they end up helping each other anyway. Its the repeated storyline they use over and over. Dave you said before you didn’t like Hannah in season 3 because its been done already with Lou. Same thing for me in the Curse Sarah said she was on his side and that she was going to convince Casey and the General that is plan was the correct Idea. Its annoying because the woman has always wanted to help Chuck and yet 5 years later he doesn’t really trust her right?
      Its the same thing for Sarah too. He helped her in delorean or been their for her in cougars and now that he is her husband. she doesn’t not want his help with the baby or can handle Sarah’s stash that she keeps in case her father was arrested again. Its a storyline recycled. really annoying to see it once a year

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t mind the sort of going rogue for each other theme, but I don’t like ditching each other or running off on their own so much.

        Just to contrast this to Baby which is also coming right up, I don’t like Sarah thinking she should head off and take of things solo there either; BUT, huge difference, Sarah listens to reason and agrees she should have back up. I don’t like her trying to ditch her back up later, at all; but again, big difference, we get enough story afterwards of her realizing her mistake, reading in her whole team, and finishing the mission with a proper team behind her.
        So perhaps I would have liked Curse much better if only there was enough time at the end for Chuck to show he’d learned his lessen.

        I would agree completely Candm with saying this is a theme that is simply worn out by S5. It’s not a huge thing, or at least they only made a total mess of it once. But yeah, it’s time is past. It’s not a lessen any of them should ever have to learn again.
        Funny, I just stopped reading a fan fiction story today for doing this same sort of thing.

    • candm3407 says:

      I have no issue with the development of Sarah’s character, The pace at it went was very well done in my view. In season one we have a woman who is very much in awe with Chuck and his life, she never experienced something like it. In season 2 we have a woman that is trying to find herself, while trying to maintain professionalism and have a personal connection with someone for the first time in her life. Season 3 we have a woman that in love and the man she loved for the first time in her life rejected her someone that she thought wouldn’t do that. This portion of the story annoys people because of how the writers chose to tell it, but it is a very key portion of the story.

      I actually accept the season 3 story line better because of the fact we get a conclusion. we get to see what was the final result of it. Not like Goodbye when we were basically left with the ball A lot of people hate pink slip because of the rift that drove Sarah and Chuck apart, but in all honesty if we take it based on story purposes than if we blame anyone its Chuck.

      He never listened to the words Sarah was tell him. Several times she told him that being a regular guy was not a bad thing at all. It was Chuck’s own self doubt that made him make the decision to become a spy. He elected to download the 2.0 and whether thats how he learned Kung Fu or not it would be the same storyline each year if he didn’t learn something new to enhance his spy skills.

      I am talking about the story we were dealt, like it or not this is what we have. I rather have what I saw in Pink slip than what I got in the end. Did the actors do a wonderful performs of course they did. We are talking about Yvonne and Zac here., and their chemistry on set was tremendous, but the end result is the same for me I rather see pink slip than good bye because of being satisfied with a conclusion

      • candm3407 says:

        and by the way the decision made by Chuck in Prague was made way long before he got their. Once his father took the original intersect out of Chuck’s head it was foreshadowing. Especially when he see in the back of Sarah and Chuck a series of explosions. It was like their dreams of being together went up in smoke as Orion said its out son..your free

        Chuck never believed that the nerd could get the girl. even if Sarah told him many times otherwise. She said they couldn’t be together because of protocol and or he was an asset. She never told him that it was because he needed to have a super computer in his brain. Agent Walker was still controlling her emotions. Chuck made the decision on false pretenses

      • joe says:

        I concur, Chris! For the most part, anyway. From my POV, Sarah was as much in awe of the relationships in which Chuck was able to draw himself – Ellie, Morgan, the ballerina, even Bryce – as she was in awe of him. He did not need a Stanford degree to be great and she knew that before he did. Sarah was quite right and truthful when she said that she fell in love with him “After you fixed my phone and before you started diffusing bombs with computer viruses. But it was her commitment to being a spy and the danger to him that made her so tentative.

        Chuck took a long time to believe that he was “good enough” for Sarah (and as a nerd myself, I understand that!) I can’t quite pinpoint the moment he started to feel like he might have what it takes, but my best guess is that it happens about the time Colt holds him by the heels. Even then, he vacillates and even regresses when he no longer has The Intersect in his head.

        All that would have seemed like pretty thin reasoning after The Colonel aired. So I definitely agree; much of S3 was necessary.. I don’t think that any amount of interference and delay would have been universally accepted by the fans, though.

      • candm3407 says:

        Joe your right, however, I dont think he knew had a shot until Hannah made her speech at the Dinner table. It opened his eyes to what was wrong Sarah too. Except Sarah had been waiting for Three years Ellis said it first A GIRL LIKE SARAH WON’T BE AROUND FOR LONG. Except for Chuck Sarah did stick around amazingly because She was already in love

      • authorguy says:

        “but my best guess is that it happens about the time Colt holds him by the heels”
        Funny you should say that. I’m currently putting together the last chapter of my Ellie story, and that’s essentially the conclusion Beckman comes to (although she gets the exact cause wrong, not having footage of the event). After the second Intersect blew up she never ordered another hit on Chuck because after being captured by Colt, alone, he rose to the occasion, and became much more than the idiot loser moron Casey’d seen in the first season.

      • authorguy says:

        “All that would have seemed like pretty thin reasoning after The Colonel aired. So I definitely agree; much of S3 was necessary.. I don’t think that any amount of interference and delay would have been universally accepted by the fans, though.”

        I can’t quite agree with you here. While I will say that the growth they experienced in S3 was necessary, separating the leads to achieve it was not necessary.

      • revdr says:

        Guys, I agree that since season 3 as presented is what we wound up with, I tried at least to glean as much positivity as I could from the offered product. And there were some positives from the 1st 13 of the season, although I would point out that they were few and far between. But, there’s always the what if’s. The biggest one for me in s3 was what if Chuck’s speech from Pink Slip and the one from 3 Words had been combined. In my opinion, that would have gone a long way in starting the relationship earlier, rather than later, and Shaw’s role then could have possibly been better defined, and the need for Hannah would not have been necessary. We would still have all of the new relationship issues and baggage, but they could have then taken more time in exploring all of that. I, like most, was not a huge fan of s3 (the 1st 11 1/2 at least), but, as it stood, it was necessary to play out the angst, and end all of the triangle/trapezoid issues, once and for all.

      • authorguy says:

        “Hannah would not have been necessary” Not quite. As long as the story involved Chuck choosing to be a spy, someone like Hannah was necessary, just not as a love interest. Making her a GF just obscured her true role.

      • candm3407 says:

        Dave much as you dont buy the misery arc as you call it its the same way I feel about the final scene except Chuck really wasn’t out of Character in Prague look at the history He never was going to call Sarah in the pilot to very quick to replace Sarah when the opportunity arises He only was interest after she kissed him but when jill comes around Sarah was just a cover girlfriend a week after she gets his degree for him. I agree with Hannah Chuck is not a nice guy throughout this whole mess until American Hero He has glimpses in most episodes but lets put it in perspective Sarah did more for Chuck in the beginning than Chuck despite struggling with her feelings

      • atcDave says:

        Bah, I’m not buying any of it. Chuck was a complete and hopeless dolt in Pink Slip, which triggered the whole misery arc. But it was a ridiculous out of character contrivance in the first place. The bottom line is always a terrible entertainment decision to transparently draw out a story line thirteen episodes longer than they needed to or should have.

        I’m a heretic, I say everything from “I know Kung Fu” until “Shut up and kiss me” was a dream…

      • authorguy says:

        Every time you say that, Dave, I feel so bad. I wrote nine2five to be the good version of S3 just so it would help you get past it, but the printed word isn’t as effective for you as the images on the screen. But I’ve taken a solemn oath: As soon as I get a hold of a computer the size of a planet, I’ll remake the whole season pixel by pixel. And make the Chuck Movie. Because really what better use is there for a computer the size of a planet?

      • revdr says:

        Well, Dave, as you know, I pretty much feel that way about the whole of season 5. I agree, they did portray Chuck as a dolt, not only in Pink Slip, but for much of s3.0. I’m just saying that if they had taken what he told Sarah in PS and combined it with his heartfelt speech in Three Words, it might have made a tremendous difference. We have agreed that all of the triangle/whatever nonsense had been played out, and if they had them together at beginning of the season rather than in the back 6, it would have opened up so many more and hopefully better stories, even with Shaw in tow. I absolutely concur that the whole arc was contrived, but there were a few moments that we could look at get something out of it. As it was it was pretty bad, but like the finale, I’m just trying to put a somewhat positive spin on what we would up what. They wound up together, even if we had to trudge through the muck to get there.

      • candm3407 says:

        I agree with you rev Chuck didnt give an explaination to Sarah that she deserved. Here is something I’ve been thinking about in the final episode Why didnt Chuck show Sarah he had her Spy will? how could he have it if she didnt give it to him or even the bracelet he gave her

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah rev, you and I are pretty much on the same page. If Chuck makes the proper explanation in Prague, and starts anything like a rational discussion with Sarah we skip the whole love triangle aspect of the misery arc. Even if they still have serious issues to work through (and they do), taking such a soul crushing sort of miscommunication out of the equation makes for a much more enjoyable story.

      • atcDave says:

        Candm I think there’s a lot of things that could have happened in short order after the end of Goodbye. Even if the episode itself didn’t provide complete healing (I think it pretty much did, but I know not all agree), Sarah whole support network is going to point to Chuck. Not only her spy will, but friends and family like Carina, her Dad, her Mom; will all be there to affirm she was happy with Chuck, and they were good for each other.
        Now I think if Chuck were smart, and I think he would be, he would be very careful in how he “plays” those facts. No clubbing her over the head with it! But knowing how to play it is part of knowing Sarah Walker for five years. He is her better half, and she will figure it out quite quickly.

  18. candm3407 says:

    The funny thing is the Sarah Character to a life of its own. Yvonne being beautiful to begin with help the Character, but most of the time when watching Chuck I am more interested in Charah than the rest of them. I mean I love Casey especially when he unleashes the Casey, but Sarah really what hooked me to the show. I invite you Dave, Joe and thinkling to read my article i wrote about Sarah on my blog and let me know what you think. you guys inspired me to write about the show we all love and I did a lot of research and looked for the perfect scenes to illustrate my POV

    Your opinions would be greatly appreciated…

  19. candm3407 says:

    I actually agree with Dave on the whole issue regarding creative. After listening to the creators speak about the show on the DVDs there intention in the beginning was to create an Action Comedy based a on nerd who gets secrets planted in his brain, but sometimes a story within a story overtakes the overall theme of the show. Lets face it after the pilot we were thinking more about Chuck and Sarah than any of the other Characters. Me personally would have to say I wanted more of Chuck and Sarah than the other Characters, but i understand you can’t build a show around just two people. Except it worked for the Odd Couple right?

    When Sarah bumps Chuck on the beach we all were like wow this is a show that will work and as the episodes go and they put scenes in there that show the developing feelings between the two characters made people want more. The romance was stealing the show, and it seemed at time the creators tried to foil their own potential moneymaker. here are the 13 Episodes I most watch in the entire series.

    1. Phase Three
    2. The Truth
    3. The Imported Hard Salami
    4. The Marlin
    5. Tom Sawyer
    6. The Colonel
    7. The Other Guy
    8. The Honeymooners
    9. The Anniversary
    10. Push Mix
    11. The Balcony
    12. Cliffhanger
    13. Coo DE tat

    The reason I watch these episodes is because they are the ones with the best scenes that we love about Charah. Its no secret that a lot of those episodes I mention also rank high on others. Romances don’t always do well because some of them are too artificial, but Charah’s journey albeit really dark was done very well. I mean how many times did we have to witness Ross and Rachel fight/break up and than get back together soon after, and that was one of the best TV romances according to some articles I read online about Friends. The Friend’s romance never amounted to the passion Chuck and Sarah delivered. The ability to make men and women cry is something that is very powerful. I almost break down every time I watch Sarah tell chuck that I don’t care if you have the intersect or not. TO watch her face filled with tear and anguish was amazing acting and storytelling, but lets face it Yvonne Strahovski is a better actress than Jennifer Aniston in fact if I had my wish I would of had Yvonne start in Revolution instead of the girl they chose. or even in Eureka, but hey we can’t get what we want all the time

    I also am ready to tear when I hear Sarah tell Chuck that he has been her home the whole time. I can go on and on about this topic, but the reality is we can say what the creators do right or wrong, but at the end of the day we still were able to witness a classic love story something that I can share with my daughter’s kids. I have faith we didn’t see the last of Chuck because Zac will do anything to get a least one movie. We didn’t see the last of Sarah and Chuck…Trust me

    • joe says:

      Coup D’Etat?

      Chris, that was a great comment and it has me wondering why the stereotype is persistent – that men don’t understand romance. The show’s fans, and certainly our readership, has been predominantly male. I’m convinced your sentiments are shared by most of them, too.

      Forget the spy-adventure stuff. That’s window dressing and maybe a light framework for the story. The Buy More is more significant because most of us work in worlds that resemble that far more than they resemble Castle. What kept us coming back was the possibility of Chuck and Sarah getting together. What made most of us think about the show after the episode was over and then want to write about it and discuss it over and over was the hope that a normal guy would have that comet appear.

      I can only speak for myself, though, in saying the show helped me recognize the times that kind of magic happened in my life, if in less dramatic ways. Quite a feat, you know, and I’ll remain very appreciative for a long time.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d certainly agree with saying the show was never really about the spy story. That was a mere framework, or excuse, for the action, comedy, and character stories. CF himself admits on one of the S5 featurettes that they were sort of blindsided by the draw of the romance. I think, especially for a show that was expected to have a mostly young male audience, they never expected the romance to be such a dominant feature of the show. That and the audience skewing much older than I think they ever anticipated. But again, to CF’s credit, he did adapt the show pretty well, well I’ll always say a season too late, but he DID adapt.

      • candm3407 says:

        Joe,
        Your right the possibilities of Chuck and Sarah getting together were the driving force for me to keep watching too. There is a scene at the end of Chuck vs the Ring, in which told me that Sarah was ready to be Chuck’s real girlfriend. Take our your season 2 dvd and see for yourself. When they are at the reception of Ellie’s wedding. When Sarah goes into Chuck’s arms and notice her eyes they are closed and filled with comfort, love and someone that is ready to settle down. There is two other times she makes that face and both of them when she was his girlfriend

        one when she tells him that she loves him in the tooth
        and the second was Phase Three. after Chuck wakes up

        These are the reasons I stayed watching and keep watching. It makes makes me download the music that the scenes had so I can listen to it and visualize it in my head

        When the creators make an episode that puts a split into the work the characters put into building the relationship is something that makes me scratch my head and see the writing on he wall. They were not happy keeping Sarah and Chuck together as a normal couple. They had to put an obstacle in the way to make them work hard again to reconnect. This is the problem I have with 5.12

        The overall episode is great and the emotion you get from Sarah and Zac is great acting, but look at what they went through to get married and on the verge of settling in there new house and ready to live they’re future. How as a passionate fan that one becomes can accept that as a conclusion to a tale that they use the tactic of wiping Sarah’s memories away and for Chuck to overcome that now too. Its like the creators wanted to make an obstacle that seem bleek and yet we can come with our own conclusions as viewers that they were going to be fine.

        Death, poisons, love interests and memory loss all put in the way by the creators to split the two Characters that made the show work. However, I am happy either way because thats why I have control as the viewer to choose the episodes I will watch by skipping episodes and or just end at a certain point to go back to the beginning and wash away the pain from knowing whats coming.. This is not a rant or trying to discourage people from watching the last two episodes of the series. its just my opinion. I am defending the two Characters that for so long love each other and for so long were together and were able to find that peace, and for it to get turned upside down going out is something a viewer doesn’t need to see especially the loyal fan that has watched since day one.

      • Christopher says:

        I agree with both of you that the show really was not about the spy stuff, but that was the original idea CF and JS said so in interviews, but this romance took over the show forcing them to adjust. it took them a while because they used all kind of devises to sabotage the romance, but the chemistry of Zac and Yvonne made that impossible. I have such passion for this love story because to me its not that prototypical romance we get all the time. A Hollywood enhanced sad sap story. I never liked Ross and Rachel because of the slap stick sometimes. It doesn’t feel like a tv show when you watch it. What a great ride we were on

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah no doubt Chuck and Sarah felt real and were easy to root for. And it is special that they gave us over two full season of them happily together.

    • revdr says:

      I agree with a lot of what’s been said in-so-far as to what the draw of the show was for a great many of us. I found out that though, for me, it was really a mixture of all of the above….the romance being the biggest ingredient for me. But the story as a whole was always more about the journey and the larger picture of discovery; of who you are, what you really want out of life, and answering the question of whether or not your are brave enough, strong enough and willing enough to trust your heart, and not always your head. And if you deserve it. We always tend to overthink things, especially when it comes to love, and especially when we’ve been hurt before. I’ve always said the Sarah’s journey was about letting go and trusting her heart. That’s what season 2 was all about for her. Chuck too, had a similar journey, tempered with self -doubt, and realizing and accepting his potential, and in some sense, his destiny. I was always taught that the only thing ever standing in your way of achieving your true potential is yourself, and for both Chuck, and Sarah, the major roadblock for them was doubting that they could have it all. The trick always for them was not second guessing each other. The spy story was okay, but I saw it more as a means to an end. The show tried to flesh out a lot of this (at least I think it did), sometimes successfully…sometimes not so much. Hence the stupidity quotient tended to rise, especially in Chuck, when his head overruled his heart. It’s all about trust, in those you care about, and ultimately, in yourself.

  20. First Impression says:

    Ok, I’m late to the party, but I really did believe Sarah’s real name was Jenny Burton until Graham’s roll call of names at the end.  But who could blame me?  I wanted so much to know about the real Sarah, just like Chuck did.  And what a tough life!  Not only was she nerdish like Chuck, she was a loner with no ‘Morgan’.  That girl is a survivor!  With a background like she had, I would have expected Sarah to turn out more like Carina.  

    The Cougars – an interesting choice for the mascot of Sarah’s high school.  Cougars are slender, agile, secretive, solitary, excellent stalk-and-ambush predators, and females are fiercely protective of their cubs.  Hmm.  Sarah is slender, agile (a term Chuck once used when describing her to Ellie), secretive, solitary, excellent in stalk-and-ambush, and is fiercely protective of her asset.  

    Did you notice the knife?  So often we have seen Sarah’s gun tucked in her waistband, but at the Orange Orange with Heather, it was a knife that she was ready to use.  As the couples dined at the restaurant, Sarah displayed her skills while filleting the fish.  When she slammed the pencil behind her and into the photo frame, it may as well have been a knife for the effect it had on the photo and on Chuck.  In the flashback where she dug up the emergency kit from her father, this teen pulled out her knife to slice the tape.  In her first meeting with Graham, she almost nails him to a tree with her knife.  It finally hit me that it was not the CIA, but rather her father who taught her to handle a knife.  A knife may be her weapon of choice because it’s the one skill her father gave her that no one can ever take away.  The knife is even there in her most relaxed scene as she hands it to Chuck to split the cheeseburger.  Regarding the knife, Chuck said that is was both “awesome and disturbing”.  Indeed, it is.

  21. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04) | Chuck This

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