Chuck vs The Dream Job (2.19)

Now things really start picking up.  We finally meet Stephen Bartowski, Orion, and Ted Roark.  Plus the return of Vincent.  This episode really scores for both comedy and drama, and we see Chuck taking even more ownership of his future.  After the jump, Chuck vs The Dream Job!

I just know I’m going to get myself in trouble with this write up. There is no way I can express what I think of this episode without annoying some of you.  The thing is, I loved this stretch of episodes when they first ran.  From Predator to Ring, Season Two finished with a spectacular bang, and back in Spring of 2009 I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever seen on television.  But part of the point of this re-watch is looking at things in the big picture.  Do they feel different with the passing of time?  Or just in the greater context of the full series?  Well for me the answer is a resounding “YES” where Dream Job in particular is concerned.  Make no mistake, there is a lot I like about this episode.  But Dream Job managed to be my least favorite of the finale arc when it first ran, and if anything I like it even less with the passing of time.

This time I’ll start with the good, which the episode itself does too.  I absolutely love Chuck and Sarah in Stephen’s trailer; including Stephen praising Chuck’s intelligence, Chuck standing up for his sister while scolding his dad, and Sarah being happily included in all of it.  This is Chuck at its very best.  And it continues through the return home to Ellie, dynamite Chuck/Ellie scene.  I am also very happy with the job interview, Sarah’s encouragement both before and after the interview, and Chuck’s spectacularly, disastrously bad first day on the job; all while dad cheers him on from home.  Just wonderful stuff.

But about the time Luisa’s Bones by Crooked Fingers (one of my favorite musical discoveries of the series) starts playing I’m a lot less happy with the rest of the episode.  The reason is simple and its all on me; I don’t like internal dissent as a theme (that includes Chuck/Casey tension, but its mostly about Chuck/Sarah tension).  I don’t want to take this too far.  Its not disastrously bad for me watch, but it does dampen my enthusiasm for the ending A LOT.  And it is likely a big part of why I haven’t re-watched this episode since Summer 2009. Sarah’s rebuff of Chuck as he becomes convinced that Roark has his own Intersect is just painful to watch.  As always, this has nothing to do with “in character” or anything (I do buy that Sarah might be feeling very cautious after her close call with the 49B); it is purely a judgement of entertainment.  And I don’t like it.  Had the episode ended a little more upbeat I might have felt differently, but it won’t be until the end of First Kill that things will markedly improve.

But as it stands, Chuck’s solo mission holds little appeal to me.  Some of the tranq gags are funny enough, both with Casey and the delayed effect on Roark’s thugs.  And I like the Orion reveal, and pretty much everything about Chuck’s dialogue with his father.  Oh and I really like Sarah and Casey coming to the rescue and pulling Chuck away.  Great shot.  But I don’t like some of what it stands for.  Chuck going rogue because his team doesn’t believe him.  Just not the sort of thing I like to watch. Now I do have to acknowledge some important and wonderful growth and story issues here.  I actually do enjoy seeing Chuck act with more confidence and take some initiative to accomplish his own goals.  This is clearly an improvement over “…just trying to choose the font”.  It’s about time we saw Chuck man up, and I like how big of a role Sarah’s encouragement plays in Chuck’s self assurance.  Too bad it will take another year yet before Chuck figures that out for himself.  But for now, it is growth and it is an improvement.  As I said at the start, I do not dislike this episode, it only fails to rise to the levels of some of Chuck’s very best.

I know I’m out of step with majority opinion on this.  Dream Job scores quite well on polls we’ve done.  And I know Joe has mentioned liking this episode several times, especially Chuck’s solo mission.  For me, much of the darker mood and mistrust issues are almost proto-S3 in nature, and it just really isn’t the sort of thing I like or normally watch.  My best guess is, had S3 gone with a lighter tone, this all would have been no big deal to me.  Yes, this is already an S3 issue!  Dream Job remains a pretty good episode, and the S2 finale arc is a fun ride.  But my overall enthusiasm is dampened by where this heads next; and those sort of context issues make a huge difference to me.  As Mary Bartowski once said (or is it Sarah Connor, I get confused) “there’s a storm coming…”  and it’s hanging over things in a way it didn’t back in Spring 2009.

~ Dave

Gimme That Thing. Give It, My Friend!

Give me that thing
Give it my friend
Give me good, good times around the bend
I’ll stay forever

Give me that thing
Give it my friend
Give me hot, hot love around the bend
I’ll stay forever with you

Isn’t that a great feeling? [Play the video, if you haven’t! Do it! Oh, go on, DO IT!!!]

See? As of the moment Sarah caresses the back of Chuck’s neck just seconds before we open Chuck vs. The Dream Job, everything – but everything! – starts going right for Chuck. Now he knows how Sarah feels about him. Now he’s found his dad. In just a little bit, he’ll be free of the Buy More too and starting his dream job ™, and of course, Ellie is about to be married. There is nothing about Chuck’s life that is the same as it was the previous morning, and it’s just about what he had been hoping for.

Forget that. It is exactly the life he wanted! Our boy has come into his own. It’s a whole new world out there for Chuck and he owns it. Chuck even stands up to his father, which is something not to be underestimated as a coming of age – rite of passage, you know.

No More CoversIf you’re wondering how Chuck got here, that’s okay. So is he. The whole thing is not quite real yet; it hasn’t quite sunk in and he’s a bit unsteady on his feet. When Chuck inevitably starts to falter in his new found self-assurance, his new girlfriend steadies him.

Chuck: I’ve dreamt of working for Roark since college. Although, does it actually qualify as a dream come true if I go in as a janitor?
Sarah: You’re going in as Charles Bartowski. Your name, your résumé, your Stanford degree.
Chuck: Really?
Sarah: You’re perfectly qualified to go in as yourself.

You bet he is. To get past the interview, Sarah just tells Chuck to be honest. It’s enough. Congrats, Chuck. You’ve made it and we all knew you had it in you, ball-chair notwithstanding. More importantly, there, starting in Stephen’s trailer, Chuck and Sarah are no longer playing cover-boyfriend and cover-girlfriend. They are the real thing.

You Promised Pancakes

Yes, it’s all good. Stephen J. Bartowski (Scott Bakula, of course!) is found and wants to come out of hiding for his daughter’s wedding. Huzzahs! But, uh, he seems just a bit – crazy.

Stephen: Let’s go get your sister married, huh? Maybe we should wait ’till dark. They’re tracking my every move. Rat bastards.

Dave, I understand what you’re saying about the downside of this episode. Everything (but everything!) is about to go sideways for Chuck and dad’s craziness is just the beginning. But isn’t it great for him while it lasts? 😉

As for Ellie, she’s being harder to convince than Stephen! It’s all about the pancakes and she isn’t quite ready to have him come waltzing back into her life like that. In fact, she may be having second thoughts about getting married to Devon too.

Stephen: Let her walk, Devon. Drink?
Devon: No. That’s what got me into trouble in the first place. What do I do.
Stephen: You’re asking the wrong guy.
Devon: But she’s your daughter.
Stephen: Well, I can’t take credit for her. The only thing Ellie owes me is a few well-deserved trust issues.
You really want my advice? Don’t walk out on your kids when you promised them pancakes for dinner. They tend to take it badly.

In the midst of all this, Morgan discovers that Chuck has gone corporate and is working at Roark Industries. He’s jealous and feeling jilted.

About that dream job, just like “crazy ol’ dad” said, Ted Roark (Chevy Chase) really has stolen nearly everything from Stephen. He’s a bit of a thief, a bit of a fraud and a bit of a monster. But boy, is he cool! “No ‘sirs’ here. Except for her. Call me Ted.”

So all is not completely fine in Chuck’s shiny new world. Of course, we have to remember that Chuck was leading a double life, and the CIA part hasn’t changed. His job at RI is only a mission. His real job is something else entirely.

Chuck: It’s weird. Even though I know it’s not real, I’m excited about this job.
Sarah: Chuck, you gotta remember – it’s just an assignment.
Chuck: No, I – I mean, I know. I know what it is. I just… If I had gotten this job at Roark right after college maybe I never become The Intersect. Then when my dad comes back after 10 years I can show him I’m not just another loser working at a Buy More.
Sarah: Chuck, he knows you’re not a loser.
Chuck: Well, I’m sure he hoped I’d be doing something bigger than Nerd Herding.
Sarah: You are.

Sarah, the girlfriend again. But if Chuck is doing reality checks about his new job, is he having the same doubts about Sarah, his new girlfriend? Hold that thought.

Into The Darkest Depths of Mordor

Geeeeeekkkkssss!!!

Geeeeeekkkkks!!!

Beckman has a specific mission for them. Roark is working for Fulcrum, they suspect. And RI’s new operating system, cleverly called RIOS, may contain a virus, ready to infect the country’s computers. For this one, Casey and Sarah get to play geeks, go to Roark’s NextExpo’09 where the software is to be introduced and steal the source code. Talk about missions going sideways, this one fails spectacularly. And Chuck gets himself fired from his dream job. Chuck is miserable and despondent, mostly because his old life, back in the Buy More, is looming large.

But Sarah is still his girl friend, right? What’s left of Chuck’s new life collides with his life as the Intersect the moment he flashes on a binder that Stephen gives him; the grounds of RI fit Orion’s Intersect schematics exactly. Roark is building an Intersect for Fulcrum.

Chuck has to go to Casey and Sarah with this information, but that means he has to admit he has Orion’s schematics, the very ones he hid from Sarah behind his back. He didn’t even tell Sarah about them. And once again, when he asks Sarah to help him with his personal mission – to get the Intersect out of his head – she chooses the CIA over him.

Cue what I think is the best song I’ve heard in a dozen years, Luisa’s Bones.

You and Sarah Connor are right, Dave. A storm is coming quickly. It’s a monsoon. It seems like everything and everyone around him is trying to guide Chuck – to push him, gently only sometimes, in some direction. His father, Ellie, Ted Roark, General Beckman – they all want Chuck for their own purposes.

ThunderBut the clap of Chuck’s two pistols is thunderous. It’s a marker noting Chuck’s decision to stand firm against everything forcing his hand – fate, the CIA, the Buy More and even Sarah. He’s not sure where he’s going, but the direction will be of his choosing.

And right now, Chuck is going after Ted Roark’s Intersect, because it’s the only way to get rid of the one in his head. He’s doing it on his own and his bright, shiny new world has fallen apart.

So Dave, when I said that I understood about the downside, I don’t mean to say that I didn’t like it. I love that monsoon. The sense of desperation highlighted by Crooked Finger’s song and the amazing pace of the action are perfect. Terse? Not a second and not a line of dialog is wasted.

I love retelling the story of how Chuck rushes to get to the Intersect, only to find that his father has been taken by Roark, the indestructible Vincent and his men. But we know the story. Suffice it to say, Chuck’s discovery that his father is Orion, and Stephen’s terse explanation of his survival is TV at it’s finest, alternating between humor and excitement.

They get to Roark’s – Fulcrum’s – Intersect, and are about to remove the one in Chuck’s head but…

It doesn’t work, and Chuck is trapped in his current life as surely as Stephen is trapped by Roark. I can’t say that I’ve been a real fan of Chevy Chase since his days on Saturday Night Live. But his Roark here is spectacular. He is a little bit of a monster.

One detail here is more than a little poignant. We need to recognize that the only way Stephen can save his son is to – once again – go away and leave Chuck (and Ellie) behind. This is a theme that we’ll see again, of course. With Stephen and in this episode, it’s credible.

For his part, Chuck can not save his father today; he’s not ready. Despite his deepest desires, Chuck is forced to back out the door to safety with Sarah and Casey.

Stephen: Remember when I told you not to trust your handlers? Maybe I was wrong.

Goodbye, Stephen.

You take the road I’ll take the river,
you bring the fire I’ll bring the jewels,
And in the evening underneath the roaring sky,
we will meet and wait and pray for the monsoon.

As for Sarah, she is torn between her desire to help her boyfriend and her need to keep him safe – Chuck’s just been torn from his father and from the life he thought he wanted, after all. She sides with General Beckman to keep Chuck away from Roark, Fulcrum and his father.

Sarah wants to help her boyfriend desperately, but explaining that to Chuck? The sad fact is, she doesn’t quite have the skills to communicate her fears. Sarah Walker is not one for words, we know. But even as she wants to save Stephen, she does not want Chuck to go into those dark depths where his father has been taken.

If the only thing left for Sarah are actions, she has no idea what actions are required now, except maybe to wait for further instructions. Beckman, however, has no doubts about her mission and Casey follows orders. When ordered, he will always shoot which ever way his gun is pointed, even if it’s pointed at Chuck’s family – or at Chuck.

Yes, it’s dark, and that is why I enjoy this episode so thoroughly. Despite our knowledge that the heroes always survive in TV-Comedy Land, the episode lets keep our uncertainty. It’s just not what your normal TV show is capable of doing.

After The Storm

I’ll finish by noting one thing that surprised me. After this, my umpteenth viewing of Chuck vs. The Dream Job, I finally have no doubt that the RIOS virus was the same as the Omen Virus released in S5 to create the Intersect 3.0 even though that was not explicitly stated.

The connection was left a bit tenuous and I can think of no good reason why it should have been that way. TPTB were deft in bringing in pancakes throughout all five seasons, after all, as well as keeping tiny things for the fans to find later. That the virus came back so late in the story may be explained by the extra-long seasons 4 and 5 (for which I’m grateful). But regardless of the reasons, RIOS got removed from my list of questions left unanswered.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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169 Responses to Chuck vs The Dream Job (2.19)

  1. anthropocene says:

    Joe, I so concur. I never liked Chevy Chase as an actor after SNL. But I loved, loved, loved Ted Roark! So many classic lines: “I’m not a monster….Well, maybe”…”Congratulations! That’s great! I had no idea! Kill the son!”…”You can eat him if you want”…”Nobody likes a cynic”…”I can help you with that, Chuck”…”That terrible pun’s the last thing you’ll ever hear..” The coolness. The patented Chevy Chase snarkiness (working perfectly here). I think Ted Roark was the quintessential Chuck villain, the Anti-Stephen…If only they’d kept him around longer!

    • anthropocene says:

      And now that I’ve gotten THAT out of the way..let me also say: A terrific analysis of a very complex episode—this’ll spark a great discussion—thank you, Dave and Joe!

    • atcDave says:

      I do think Chevy Chase was perfect as Ted Roark. Only Volkoff was a better villain.

      • joe says:

        I agree with that, Dave. Roark was incredible over the three episodes in which we saw him, and he had the good graces to not overstay his welcome. Volkoff was able to stick around longer and still be fun.

        All in all, the only other villain I’d want to see more of would be Vincent (he was nicely understated), and maybe one more shot of Heather Chandler.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I would have loved to see more of Vincent. Maybe Von Hayes too, but he might not have been a villain if he returned. I saw plenty of Heather!

      • joe says:

        Lazslo Mahnovski! On thinking about it, I just realized I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him, too!

        Okay, ‘fess up. How many of you had to think about who Lazslo was for a bit? 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Lazslo would have been fun! And I knew exactly who you meant!

    • joe says:

      Thanks, Anthro. And I want to steal your idea that Roark is the perfect anti-Stephen! That is spot-on.

      Oh! Did I mention that Stephen is my favorite character? Only about a hundred times when these episodes first aired.

  2. Wilf says:

    I have to say I was never worried about Sarah’s response to Chuck’s claims about Roark having an Intersect. I just saw it as the response she “had” to make and I do like the episode a lot. As for the music, well, before today, I never really took any notice of Luisa’s Bones, but listening to it now I do think it’s a really good song, and I have just downloaded it from iTunes – so thank you for a belated introduction to some more great music courtesy of Chuck.

    • joe says:

      I was developing a bad addiction to running about the time I first heard that song, Wilf. Had it on my mp3 player. Imagine having that beat in your ears as your on mile number 3 on a nice spring day. That’ll keep you going! 😉

  3. Bill says:

    We’re in the midst of the best run of episodes the show ever did. Chuck working at all levels. I still enjoy the ride.

    • joe says:

      Are you watching along, Bill? I know that I’m enjoying every scene, often seeing something new. And here I thought I had memorized all of them!

      • Bill says:

        Watching and reading along! Wish I’d found this blog before the series ended! I really appreciate the thoughtful analysis that’s been going on here. Thanks.

  4. BillAtWork says:

    IMO Dream Job is the single worst episode to rewatch. Explain any of Orion’s actions knowing what we know now, that he had a secret lab in his basement complete with a handy PSP device that would remove the Intersect.

    Especially his confession that he never thought that the Intersect would find Chuck. Come on.

    • joe says:

      Oh Bill. You’re such a stickler! 😉

      In fairness, problems like that (I didn’t think Orion had finished modifying the PSP yet, myself!) are really located in S3, aren’t they? – as opposed to in this episode? Dream Job acquits itself pretty well this way, once you buy Stephen’s explanation, such as it is, for leaving his young children. If the series had ended with some version of The Ring, something I’m sure weighted heavily on Fedak’s mind at the time, we would have been very happy with the episode’s internals, I think.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Agreed, I’m a stickler. Isn’t that what discussions like this are for, lol?

        Anyway, Orion having created the PSP in S3 doesn’t work. Mary knew exactly where it was and what it would do. She even said that she had talked about it with Steven.

        “Your father never wanted you to see this, but he was wrong.”

        When did that conversation take place?

        If 20 years ago, then the actions of Dream Job don’t make sense.

        If in S3, then Steven sent Chuck on a dangerous quest to find his mom knowing full well where she was,

        I’m afraid there isn’t any way to have it both ways. 🙂

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually it is pretty much stated that Frost and Orion went on missions together. I see a situation where they had infrequent and brief contact as Orion tried to crack Hydra so that Frost could bring back Hartley, or if necessary take Volkoff out.

        Frost couldn’t leave because Volkoff would follow, but she could, as we saw in Chuck Versus The Aisle of Terror occasionally go off on her own for a time before Volkoff would come after her. In addition Orion’s hunt for Volkoff kept him in check by forcing him to keep a low profile (The Russian Howard Hughes who gets a lot more bold in season 4 now that Orion is dead).

        While yes, things get pretty hand-wavy and TPTB don’t sweat the details or bother giving tightly scripted exposition on things like this I don’t think anything directly contradicts unless we start to make assumptions not supported by what we’ve seen.

      • joe says:

        I’ve been thinking more along the lines Ernie relates below, Bill. I was always under the impression that Stephen stayed away from the ol’ family homestead as much as possible, if only because the CIA was watching.

        Hey! Maybe he and Ted Roark invented the PSP when they were in college! Yeah! That’s the ticket.

        Anyway, I also thought that Stephen and Mary had some communication, at least a little. That’s why she knew everything about Charles Carmichael and the Intersect. I mean, under cover so deep that the CIA had forgotten her, who else was going to tell her?

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Ernie,

        I really wish it had happened that way.

        Orion and Frost fighting their own secret war, knowing that had to leave the kids for their safety yet constantly looking after them from afar. Sometimes they were apart for days or weeks at a time, but always getting together whenever they could.

        That’s the more romantic, powerful story, right? Even with Orion dead, they could have done some powerful flashback type episodes. It would have also made both Steven and Mary much more likeable. I even wrote a fanfic with that storyline.

        A couple of things don’t work though. First, you’d have to explain why Steven sent Chuck on a dangerous mission from the grave to find mom, without the intel that he knew full well where she was. And I asked Chris Fedak that exact question in Mo Ryan’s Q/A once, and he said that Mary was a tragic figure who simply got caught up in a mission.

        Look, I get that there is a certain suspension of disbelief that is required to watch a show like Chuck. But this is pretty much looking at the core mythology of the show. And I don’t think you can make it work.

      • atcDave says:

        I was assuming like Joe said, some sort of indirect communication was going on. Remember in Push Mix Chuck was apparently able to break into parts of Volkoff’s system even before he’d broken Hydra while pretending to be Orion. So I would guess that could be Orion’s back door, for urgent communication with Mary.

        But it is all pretty speculative, and more than a little depressing…

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think the bottom line is Orion and Frost were conceived at different times to serve different story lines, and we were never meant to think too closely about how they might (or might not!) actually line up.
        A lot of Chuck is really like that. The show had so many false finales and last minute reprieves, its sort of a Frankenstein monster of story elements. And some of those parts work better than others. Don’t get me started on who “Abi” is…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I always took it as Orion sending Chuck on the mission he couldn’t complete. Also Orion didn’t necessarily know where Mary was because Volkoff kept them on the move and in hiding. Volkoff only went more public after Orion died. In addition “finding” Mary wasn’t the issue, freeing her from Volkoff was. While Orion was alive he was able to keep Volkoff at bay, but after he died he knew Volkoff would take an interest in Agent Charles Carmichael who took down The Ring and defeated Fulcrum.

        I think Fedak’s answer is consistent with everything I said and what was written for the show. She went to “take out” Volkoff, but then couldn’t complete her mission, but couldn’t leave because his obsession with her would lead him right back to her family.

        All in all I think they did a decent job considering how they had to re-invent the show after writing about 5 finales. I’d also add that Fedak pretty clearly didn’t see intersect mythology as a terribly important story. It was always a MacGuffin to him if you ask me, but as you say it got intertwined with the Bartowski family mythology and legacy to the point where people invested in it.

      • joe says:

        And wasn’t Mary/Frost trying to keep Chuck away from her at first? It’s not like Stephen could say “Mary is here, on Platz street in downtown Moscow on floor 17 of the Volkoff building.” She might have been… yesterday. Today, she’s in Minsk, and Chuck wouldn’t know.

        It was Mary who finally came to Chuck, after all. I hadn’t thought about it much before, but it looks like she and Stephen weren’t exactly on the same page when Stephen died, in regards to letting Chuck find her.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I did say that I’m out. And I am. But I simply couldn’t go without correcting the record.

        I’m reading a lot of hyperbole about the things that you think I’m saying.

        “The show after S2 was garbage.”

        “Fedak is an idiot.”

        “If you like the show, you’re also an idiot.”

        and so on.

        The problem I have is, not only didn’t I say any of those things, I don’t believe they’re true. I feel very comfortable stating that Uplink also doesn’t believe they’re true. I love the show just as much as anybody and probably more than most. I’ve invested an incredible amount of my life to it, probably more than is healthy.

        But also I recognize that it has flaws. And some of those flaws frustrate me because they affected my enjoyment. Is it wrong to point that out? Mo Ryan did. Sepinwal regularly did.

        Can’t it be both? An amazing show with characters that I’ll always remember that delivered some of the most powerful moments I’ve even seen, yet could have been even so much better?

        My participation in this thread started because I pointed out that, for me, re-watching this particular episode wouldn’t be enjoyable because of the inconstancies introduced later in the series. I stand by that. I think, not only is it on the topic, it is defensible.

        From my POV, the core problem is that any, however slight, criticism of the show is met by someone like Ernie (God bless you, Ernie. This is not necessarily a criicism) jumping to the show’s defense and pointing out that the show was perfect, there was no inconsistancy, and explaining why. That causes me to point out the flaws in Ernie’s argument, he feels the need to respond, and it sprials out of control. I can see how reading through pages of that would get a tad frustrating.

        And let’s put on the record why I believe the show had flaws.

        Most of what i percieved as wrong with Chuck is also what is wrong with TV in general. There is far to much dependance on UST as a storyline. It’s an unwritten rule. Never put the leads together. UST only works as long as you have the U. That didn’t fit the storyline in this case. They had C/S grow as a potential couple quickly, had already given them several climax and pull back points, and had reached the ‘put up’ or ‘shut up’ point at the end of S2. So the S3 reset felt contrived and artifical to me. And since about a million and a half people stopped watching and never came back during that period, I feel like I’m not alone.

        Part of what I feel is wrong is that Chris Fedak was telling a different story than I wanted him to. I wanted a love story, he wanted a heroes journey story. And he gets to choose. No question. If I didn’t like it, tough. My option was to stop watching like the million or so before me. I still think that had he choosen telling more of the love story, the show might still be on the air. But that’s pure speculation.

        But also part of the problem is that they were sloppy. i know that rankles some people. But I think it is undenibly true. There are too many instances where the story they were telling directly conflicted with something that they had told us previously. I don’t think that can be reasonably argued. What can be argued is how much that affected your enjoyment of the show. Some people like Ernie, none. Some people like me, more. There is no right or wrong answer.

        I’ve not spent a lot of time here. But if this is going to be the “Chuck was perfect and no criticism will be tolerated” blog, it’s best if I move on.

        No hard feelings.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill we have never expected participants to refrain from all criticism, if we had I would be long gone. I even agree with most of the specific complaints you raise. Even as far as mentioning I’ve brought most of them up before.
        The problem is just that sometimes we all get a little passionate and trample all over each other. I’m not pointing any fingers, I’m not even interested in going back and deciding who started what. There’s no point. Every one of us shares in the blame when things get carried away.
        Things go best when we all remember this was fun first, and we were all drawn to the same show. Everyone here, discussing a show that ended over a year ago qualifies as a Chuck fanatic to one degree or another. Obviously we need to treat each other respect, the even harder thing to remember is to treat the writers and show runners with respect too. That can be tough when we have major issues with how something was done, I know the next couple months will be VERY challenging for me to stay calm and civil when discussing S3. But that is the trick. This will become a very unpleasant place if we just trash on the unpopular story for three months. That’s partly why I want to run parallel S3 AUs posts; hopefully, it will give even us malcontents something positive to focus on for that time.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, I didn’t mean to imply you were solely responsible for the statements that get thrown around, but I watch this happen frequently. The mood changes and the comments get more and more inflammatory, and then there is a shocked reaction when another commenter reacts to the inflammatory posts. I don’t think some of our posters realize the impact of their posts on the mood of the board and others enjoyment of it.

        The readers and posters who like season 3 and the angst have to put up with a lot worse than some occasional snarky comments to participate here, and many of them just give up. I just wanted to make that point that before you or others take offense and leave based on one comment directed against a flood of others.

        I enjoy reading comments from you and Uplink and both of you do add something to the conversation. But at times is seems to get a bit ridiculous. I know the show is imperfect, it has been since the beginning. I’ve pointed out it’s flaws numerous times and agreed that they exist, but at this point I’m pretty much just acting as a counterweight to the negativity and the degree of it. I suppose it comes off as if I’m saying the show is perfect, but what I’m really saying is that it’s better, even in its rough patches than a lot of people give it credit for. And sometimes taking a second look at that episode you hated or found disappointing from a different perspective might surprise you. That is sort of the point of the re-watch. As a BTW “I’m leaving in the morning with Bryce” is not the next scene after “It is real”. In between Chuck turns down the job offer with the CIA, much to Sarah’s disappointment. Plus Chuck’s “proposal” that they take a vacation together adds some context to Sarah’s rather blunt announcement, so a re-watch might help the context there too.

        I suppose I was hoping, three years on, that people would have come to terms with the show Chris Fedak made as opposed to the one they wanted, and they could get over their disappointment and look at it and judge it on it’s own terms rather than the perfect version they’ve written in their heads or in their fanfiction. It doesn’t seem to be happening or if it is its being drowned out by the same sort of negativity that has dominated this board for years, and that’s proving a disappointment to me. But I suppose that is my problem to deal with, so sorry to anyone who took offense at my venting my frustration.

        As a fandom that accomplished so much and was a part of something so special I find it frustrating that there is so little consideration coming from either side of a schism. I’ll admit that goes for me too, in my weaker moments I’ve probably thrown some elbows or failed to sufficiently moderate my tone, so I’ll promise to make an effort in the future to do so and to apply sufficient warnings to my posts that may raise the ire of those with a different view or level of tolerance for certain aspects of the show.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Ernie, I agree with everything you just said.

        I’m pretty much an unknown here, but I have always bent over backwards to be fair to Chris Fedak. I have no idea what it takes to produce an hour long network show for 5 seasons. So he gets a huge benefit of the doubt in my mind.

        I seriously doubt that the S3 trapezoid was even his idea. I strongly suspect that it came about more because of pressure from the the studio or network to keep wt/wt going for one more season. I can even see what they were going for. They are melodramatic storytellers. They were painting a bleak circumstance to have a dramatic storybook climax. I do the same thing in my writing. I think they knew that many wouldn’t like it. They were seemingly sitting in Sepinwal’s office ready to calm people down 5 minutes after Mask aired. But having said all that, it wasn’t executed very well. The fandom wasn’t prepared to see Sarah with anybody else, but especially Brandon Routh. They had zero chemistry and it felt forced. During that time I was watching more out of loyalty than enjoyment. And even though they softened whatever relationship they had, most of those episodes were painful for me. I’ve still never watched Fake Name to this day. And that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part of S3 was that Chuck also became a jerk who I stopped liking.

        And Colonel / Ring thing. I didn’t mean literally the next scene. I was just pointing out that you can’t take any one moment in time and judge where the relationship was. In the space of one episode (plus one scene) Chuck and Sarah went from attending a joyous family event as clealry a romantic couple, to Sarah leaving forever overseas with Chuck’s nemisis, to Sarah deciding that, not only did she love him, she was willing to leave her life behind for him. And that didn’t bother me at all. It was clearly just more melodrama. I would have been upset if ‘To Be Continued’ was the last thing we ever saw. But I think that’s probably not contraversial. 🙂

        Are you really expecting a tense discussion about S3? Does anybody actually like that period in the show? I mean, truly enjoyed it? I haven’t met them yet.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill, Ernie is an S3 defender. I have also never met one apart from the Internet, but I have actually met Ernie in person, I was as surprised as anyone discover he’s a real person and not just an artificial manifestation. So there are some out there…

        We have had a few other S3 defenders here, some are quite adamant about it. Our completely unscientific surveys done right after the misery arc showed about 70% were unhappy with those episodes to some degree. But that does leave around 30% who liked them, or at least felt they were worth it for the end result. My feeling would be that among those who still comment here occasionally, those numbers are more even than they were at the time.

        My 2 cents worth on the wt/wt, the triangular part in particular, is that I suspect it’s the Josh Schwartz influence. He’s the one with the teen soap background who has bragged about loving that cliche; and he was the one most excited and bragging about it from summer 2009 on. And I think it’s interesting that they never even threatened that trope again after Fedak clearly took the reigns in S4. I don’t believe NBC cared either way (I’ve never seen network interference claimed by anyone on the inside, and I really think the network was pretty hands off after the Subway campaign), although it is possible the studio meddled.
        But whoever was responsible, I am glad they abandoned it for good with Other Guy. I’m sure we’ve all seen shows where this sort of thing happens even with a lead married couple, I’m just very glad that once wt/wt ended on Chuck, it really ended. Sadly, every television romance I’ve ever seen draws this stage out a beat or two too long, at least Chuck did resolve it before the end (and we can save the rest of that discussion for another time!)

      • BillAtWork says:

        Most of my interaction with the fandom comes from reviews based on one of my fanfic chapters. But based on that, I’d be stunned if the number was close to 30%. I’m thinking closer to 3%. But maybe that says more about the people attracted to BillAtWork stories than the fandom at large. Obviously Ernie isn’t a fan, lol.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, based on how many times comments threads have turned to Chuckwin’s Law (see lingo section) yes, I am expecting a lot of negativity in the comments.

        I don’t think anyone would deny season 3 had it’s problems. TPTB were dealing with a reduced budget, a reduced writing staff, and a reduced production schedule and facing a series finale at episode 13. It shows on the screen in everything from the poor characterization and casting of Shaw (though I came to like him as a villain) to the production values to the hot mess of a script that was American Hero (I will always love Matt Miller for Tango and Phil Klemmer for Tom Sawyer, but those two and Max Denby just didn’t work). But the funny thing is when I took a month off the blog and re-watched season 3 summer before last I enjoyed almost all of it. Yes, Pink Slip still seemed a little forced and too much of a downer, but Three Words was actually quite enjoyable, as was every episode up through Final Exam. Even American Hero didn’t bother me as much as it usually does. Yes, the romance from out of nowhere still seemed a bit forced in Mask and Shaw still came across as a bit of a creep, but I did notice that there was a bit more set-up of the romance than I’d allowed for, even if it was done as a tired TV trope with a lot less tongue in cheek than they managed previously. But none of those things really had enough impact to ruin the episodes. So yes, I liked season 3. I especially like the stretch from Three Words through Mask and Final Exam in particular.

        Now granted I obviously have a much higher threshold for annoying things or plot holes than many here, and season 3 took some effort to figure out why they made the choices they made (which I’ll discuss around those episodes) and some of those choices guaranteed that some people wound never like this stretch just as a matter of personal taste, but I can honestly say that I can pop in episodes like Three Words or Nacho Sampler or even (gasp!) Mask and Fake Name and enjoy them as much as I enjoy episodes from the other seasons, including some of the best of Chuck ever produced in season 2.

        So all that said I do hope people will try and give these episodes another look and try to do it with fresh eyes looking at the story TPTB chose, not the one they wished for. We got that in season 3.5 through 5, so the source of much of the anger at the time – this is the last of Chuck we’ll ever see and their wasting Chuck and Sarah chemistry with a drawn out wt/wt and contrived OLI angst – that didn’t happen, we know we’ll get to see Chuck and Sarah together for real for 43 more episodes after this brief detour in their relationship, so try to let go of that feeling of being robbed many of us had at the time and see if you can enjoy some excellent episodes of Chuck.

      • uplink2 says:

        First of all, @BillatWork you can most definitely speak for me on that subject. I agree with you and feel the same way. Now maybe I haven’t been as fair to Fedak as you have and I’m ok with that. I just find some of his decisions and statements baffling. I truly don’t believe we were watching the same show many times. Nor do I think he understands or grasps what I see and appreciate about it and why it made me more passionate than any show in my decades worth of TV writing. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I do believe that both he and Josh live in a bit of a bubble where they can’t see the reality that so many outsiders see so clearly. It’s why though they anticipated some negative reaction in S3, they have admitted they were shocked it was so visceral.

        You talk about dependence on UST and I found it interesting that reading Twitter last night there was a lot of talk about Heart of Dixie and it was deja vu all over again. Late in the second season they had to break up the central relationship because well it is only the second season. As soon as I saw it, it was yep Josh Schwartz all over again. Plus reading some of the reactions was so much the same. A lot of not that they did it but how they did it. It’s all too formula and that is why commercial networks are dying and cable networks are thriving. It’s why a great show like Smash is getting the same ratings tuesday at 10 that Chuck was getting on fridays.

        I also agree completely with your thoughts about S3 and the WTWT. But I believe it was far less pressure from NBC and WB and far more Schwartz in particular going back to what he considers his strength. Too bad he didn’t seem to understand Chuck’s audience in great part was not a CW or OC audience. Simply put they were smart, passionate and could see the manipulation a mile away. As you said the U in UST had already been resolved by their own choice and the great talents of the 2 actors who made it work so well. Many in the Chuck fandom saw the man behind the curtain long before Toto did.

        One other weakness I think they had was too big a dependence on stunt casting. Sure it worked well in some cases Dalton, etc. but it failed miserably with Routh. Did they even watch Superman Returns? Much like how he got that role more because of who he looked like than his talent as an actor, I have to believe he got the role in Chuck more because of the pop culture reference than actual believability on screen. And yet he got the longest run of any guest star. TBH I wish I could un-watch Fake Name and there was a way to delete Routh from every scene in those first 13. I may actually learn to like at least some of it. But I can’t.

        But I think we need to look at things a little differently. Its the old the opposite of Love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. If I had been indifferent to much of what I am passionate about, I absolutely would have left after Fake Name aired. But my emotional reaction wasn’t indifference, it was hatred. An emotion that many times goes hand in hand with love. But it does seem that many as you said didn’t have enough passion or emotional response so they left. Plus I suppose some left because they hated it as well.

        But as we approach S3 I welcome the passion. Plus I don’t see how you can discuss that season without discussing Chuckpocalypse or what I see as the clear hubris and baffling answers that Schwedak made to Sepinwall when they were waiting there for Mask to finish. Fedak’s classic answer about chapter 7, when it was really chapter 42, will always go down as one of the most, I hate to use the word again with the new tone of this discussion but it fits, clueless answers I have ever heard. Especially in light of Chuck Lorre’s statement about the same time.

        As far as the discussions here, it’s the passion that brings us back. Again look at the reply counts for the differing threads. But I will have to admit that I was done as well after the last inflamed statement that was made. To that I will simply say that it is something I have believed my whole life, whether it’s religion, politics, or in this case an ambiguous ending, anyone that says there’s is the only way is wrong. We can watch the exact same thing and see something completely different. Though I believe they left the beach together, it is more because I want to believe that than any absolute that was shown to me. I have talked to some great fans who were absolutely distraught by what they saw. Who is to say that I or anybody else is right and they are wrong? Even Schewedak said the ambiguous nature of the ending is what they were going for.

        But I am looking forward to the next few weeks and months. Plus I will be continuing to go back and reread the threads from around that time because it is just so fascinating. But to Ernie’s point many times about discussing the story they gave us vs the story I wanted, I think it’s appropriate to mention that many times even that doesn’t end well for the S3 story in particular. Sometimes when you try to look beyond the ugliness, things are even uglier than you thought.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill (and Dave), I’ll run a few statistics that lead me to believe we have a silent majority of readers who don’t see season 3 as problematic as our regular commenters do.

        Now that the show is over we get between 500 and 1,000 hits a day, but those hits come from several hundred different readers based on the stats WordPress collects. Back in January 2012 we were getting between 10,000 and 15,000 hits a week, so keep that in mind that our present traffic is down from when the show was on, so the several hundred readers we have now probably scales up a bit, but probably doesn’t break a thousand.

        At this point we have about 20 regular commenters, meaning that of those who read us only a fraction comment. You would probably find somewhere near 20-30 more regular commenters in January 2012.

        Based on our polls taken after the finale, the top five episodes in season 5 were Chuck Versus Goodbye, Chuck Versus the Baby, Chuck Versus Sarah, Chuck Versus the Santa Suit, and Chuck Versus the Business Trip.

        If you check comments for January and February of 2012 I doubt you’d get the impression that Chuck Versus Goodbye, Chuck Versus Sarah and Chuck Versus the Santa Suit were all very popular episodes with our readers. In addition if you go to an earlier post where I gathered stats on how our readers rate the episodes, while it is true our two least popular episodes are Mask and Fake Name come from season 3 a number of season 3’s front 13 are solid middle of the pack episodes with some getting ratings on par with episodes like Ex, Fat Lady, Hellicopter or Sizzling Shrimp. Now while it is true that the front 13 have no episodes other than Other Guy that reach the heights of the best like Ring or Honeymooners, but a few like Angel de la Muerte, Beard and Tic Tac come close. Again that seems to run contrary to the general tone of the comments.

        So I conclude from that and a few e-mails I’ve received that I am not the only season 3 fan/defender, but I am perhaps one of the few willing to do so publicly on this board.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Ernie, I’m not surprised by those numbers at all. If you had asked me my favorite S5 episodes, those would be my 5, just maybe not in that order. Maybe Bullet Train instead of Business Trip.

        But I would also hesitate to draw too many conclusions from that.

        Goodbye was emotional and beautiufly done. But that doesn’t mean I’m ever going to forgive Chris Fedak for resetting the 5 years of relationship growth and leaving it open ended, I’m not. I’m rather convinced that was an intentional shot directed at me personally, lol.. I would love, love, love the chance to tell him that to his face.

        Sarah was depressing. But it also had arguably the most powerful scene of the entire series as a tearful Agent Walker is watching another tearful Agent Walker on TV admitting that she is in love, and doesn’t know what to do about it.

        And I think you’re right about Three Words. It was rather good. I could have even lived with the Sarah / Shaw thing if it had been done right. It would have made sense if Sarah, having gone outside of her comfort zone, fell in love, and got her heart handed back to her in a million pieces, would have reverted back to the spy, loveless ‘arangement’ that she had with Bryce. That’s what I would have done. Made Sarah’s conflict more was she willing to trust Chuck again. Or was she going to play it safe with this spy who she didn’t love and didn’t love her back, but could also never break her heart.

        I’ve never watched Fake Name. But I would stipulate that Sarah would never, ever, in a million years, told Shaw her real name. She didn’t trust him enough. It was angst for pure angst’s sake.

      • joe says:

        Megathread!

        BillatWork, Uplink – believe it or not, I hear what you’re saying. In fact, I know you do. I’m always amazed that all the points raised in this discussion about the tenor and purpose all seem to work both ways. Each side always feels like the other is talking past them and missing the point.

        I have to insist that there’s one rule everyone must keep – don’t make this personal (and if you can, don’t take it personal either). That includes Schwartz, Fedak and Routh. Doing so only drives away readers. I used to put it this way – write gently and read generously. I try to take my own advice too, even if I don’t always succeed.

        Like Ernie said earlier, sometimes I feel like my job is to be a counterweight. I try to ignore that, though, and stick to saying only what my honest feelings are. Sometimes, yes, they are negative (trust me – every time I hear “Let’s be friends” coming from Chuck, Sarah, Fedak, Adler – whomever, I throw a shoe – that’s my hot button). But clearly, I find much more to be positive about, even in the depths of S3, as you will undoubtedly see in the coming weeks.

        In essence, I’m not going to validate anyone’s feelings. I’ll be reporting my own, just like I’ve been doing. Everyone’s free to do the same, but that also means no’s feelings should be negated either.

        BTW, include me in the list of people who are S3 defenders! I’ll always encourage those who aren’t to take a second look.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I would agree with you to an extent but I for one would never have bought Sarah/Shaw especially, sorry Joe, with the casting of Routh in the role. I did think he did an ok job in Subway but his earlier performances are simply dreadful. I was never going to buy that complete lack of chemistry between them.

        Even though the trapezoid is what completely destroys the season for me, I also and really bothered by the fact they had to turn Sarah, the best spy in the CIA into a terrible one to sell the spy story regardless of the Sarah/Shaw relationship. Her emotional conflict doesn’t excuse missing Shaw wearing his wedding ring or no cell service all the way from downtown LA to the desert. Or that she wouldn’t make the connection of Paris to where she killed Eve. But we will go more into that when the times comes.

        I’ve always said that even beyond all of this discussion and what is to come, season 3’s biggest failure is that it tore a once completely united fanbase apart. As we have seen here, it can be fan against fan in a WWE style cage match at times. That is an undeniable fact no matter which side of the argument you fall on. And that is probably the saddest part of its legacy.

      • atcDave says:

        Of course Ernie the more “popular” S3 episodes you mention are episodes that even we who dislike S3 typically find less bothersome. Angel of Death in particular could almost be a favorite of mine except for the background issues; but Operation Awesome, Beard and Tic Tac are all decent episodes except for a very few moments. Even so, I’m not sure rising to middle of the pack is a ringing endorsement.
        My own “intensely dislike” list is maybe longer than most; with Pink Slip, First Class, Nacho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name and Final Exam all earning particular scorn. But the fact most of those episodes are near the bottom of popularity, and none rise above the mid-point, suggests to me that a maximum of 50% of viewers see things very differently from me. And I’ve never claimed most viewers hated the season as much as I do, only that it was broadly unpopular. And I’ll stand by that, I figure anyone who will even visit a site such as this is more committed than the average casual viewer. I would expect an overall higher enthusiasm level for all things Chuck among such fans. But among the more casual fans I know, not a single one has any affection for that season. I spent early 2010 working hard to either keep those viewers from quitting the show, or to come back after they already had quit. I actually think the base reaction to that season is far worse than we commonly assume. Most less invested viewers (in any show) are less likely to be passionately outraged when the show takes an ugly turn, and are less likely to start complaining or grumbling. They may not even notice a new trend they won’t like as quickly (as in, “gee, it’s been a few weeks since this has been any fun, hasn’t it?” That was my reaction to Merlin earlier this season, after a brief discussion with my wife [” yeah I’m not liking it so much either”] the result was one less show on our “to do” list). But when they do decide the show is less to their liking they are more likely to disappear without a word.
        I would also say, completely apart from specific episodes, our poll in April of 2010 showed pretty broad dislike of the arc. Again, I know it’s not scientific;it is only a measure of visitors to this site who stuck the arc out to the end and choose to participate in the poll. But that was our period of peak activity, and I believe there were a couple hundred responses. Whether it was representative of the larger fan community or not, it showed there were fans on both sides, but that discontent was high.

        But I do believe the “odds” are far more even now. I think those who were unsatisfied were more likely to quit the show, or at least quit this site long before now. Those of us who were disgruntled are still more likely to be vocal about it, but we’ve seen a number of commenters who are willing to say they liked the series in its entirety. I suspect the remaining fandom is closer to a 50/50 split now, not just at this site.

        But for the “give it chance” part, for some of us that just isn’t wise. Although there have been a few changes in my reactions to things over the course of a re-watch, my fundamental likes and dislikes haven’t changed at all. I see no value in subjecting myself to some of those moments that still infuriate me when I think of them. I can understand the greater themes at play, but the entertainment issues are paramount to me, and I’m just not going to sit through some of those episodes ever again.

      • Catching up after work again…

        Dave: 70% were unhappy with those episodes to some degree. But that does leave around 30% who liked them, or at least felt they were worth it for the end result

        Actually, I’m someone who is unhappy with those episodes to some degree. (Not nearly as many/most people here, but not happy with First Class and the Hannah arc is still a degree.) And I felt like S3.0 episodes were worth the end result. It might not have been the optimal path, but something was needed after Colonel and Ring. I though Chuck needed to get to the point of being Sarah’s “equal” or at least complement, not her protectee. Morgan needed to find out. Fallout from Devon’s discovery needed to happen. Casey needed a back story.

        My point is the percentages might be something like 70/40 or even 70/60.

        Keep in mind that this blog, while usually respectful, is not particularly friendly to S3 fans. I doubt most S3 fans would have thick enough skin to hang around weekly Chuckwin Law discussions. Just to add some more neutral stats to the mix, the unweighted average IMDB score of Pink Slip, Mask, First Class, and Fake Name is 8.89/10 with 49.4% of 1964 votes being 10 out of 10.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff the stat I was trying to sort out was those that felt it was worth it vs those who didn’t feel it was worth it, and I badly mangled the results (the hazards of working from memory!). 42% intensely disliked it (me); 36% disliked it to some degree but appreciated it in hindsight (sounds like you?); and 18% said they liked it.

        But as I said, its not a scientific sampling, just the mood of this site. And we know perfectly well this site was pretty anti-S3, we actually inherited several commenters here who felt disrespected and were mocked off of other sites. So the fracture in the fandom we occasionally speak of is literal, we wound up with fan site ghettos. But I still believe that some level of discontent with S3 was very common, apart from the Internet I’ve never met a single person who enjoyed that season, it was purely a question of if they would stick it out. And yeah I know, that only proves that my friends think a lot me.

        I do agree the transition issues you speak of needed to be dealt with, but I can think of about a million ways I would have enjoyed seeing more than what we got. I don’t think anyone is claiming Charah was ready to spring forth as a fully mature power couple in 3.01, and most talk of skipping straight to 3.14 has more to do with dislike of the misery arc than anything else. We will discuss more in the weeks ahead about what needed to be done, and what so many of us feel needed NOT to be done. Hopefully, we can keep it calm, but as always these are explosive issues, so we will see!

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m pretty sure that I can drop the big one on this S3 numbers discussion.

        Pink Slip got a 3.0 demo and was watched by 7.7 million. Okay, it was a special night.

        The first Monday, Angel of Death (or Angel de la Muerte) still did a very respectable 2.6 demo and 7.3 million.

        By Tic Tac it was a 1.9 demo and 5.8 million. They lost 2 million sets of eyeballs (4 million eyeballs total, lol) in 8 weeks. That’s 25% of their audience that pulled the plug. And those eyeballs largely never returned. It was a slow downhill trend from that point until the move to Friday.

        I’m not saying this is fact, it’s only my analysis, but I feel very comfortable making it. The downer S3 arc cost them a chance to be a legitimate NBC star instead of a constant bubble show.

        This is not sarcasm. I’m genuinely happy for you if you can enjoy those episodes. I found some things that I liked, but overall they were painful for me.

        And it’s hard to argue with those numbers. The show never recovered from that.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I do think those numbers are powerful. There is a lot of nuance that is often brought up with ratings too though, and sadly numbers continued to decline almost to the very end. I can present my own self serving theories, but ultimately the cause and effect can only be pure speculation.
        As I said above, my own anecdotal evidence would suggest people lost heart and drifted away during S3. The one and only Nielsen viewer I know (they actually aren’t allowed to disclose, she told me after her term had expired) I recruited as a Chuck viewer during S2 and she watched faithfully until her term expired during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yes that’s right, she was no longer a Nielsen viewer after Mask. She later admitted to me that for my sake (very sweet actually, she had been my trainee) she continued watching weekly until Mask. But then her enthusiasm waned and she watched less regularly, never missing an episode, but not getting to them for several weeks sometimes. “spy Chuck isn’t much fun” was her exact quote to me.
        I also know two households that quit at Pink Slip, before Three Words ever ran, that same night! One was a fairly dramatic case, when Sarah threw her phone in the pool, the wife said to the husband “change the channel, I’m never watching this show again.” And she didn’t. I later got the husband to watch the series with me on our lunch breaks at work, but the wife never watched again.

        And that proves nothing. We’ve heard of viewers who got started on the show with S3, but lost interest in S4. We are truly all different! But I will always believe S3 did serious, long term damage to the audience. That is purely my gut feeling.

      • Dave, I’m not in the 18%, but I’m probably around the 21-22% mark. But it in three way bucket choice, I am in the middle like you said. However, the four members of my family I got to start watching Chuck during S2 all didn’t have problems with S3. They’d all be in the 18%. Two of them fell into the camp of losing interest during parts of S4.5 and 5 because the relationship was resolved enough for them.

        BillAtWork: They lost 2 million sets of eyeballs (4 million eyeballs total, lol) in 8 weeks. That’s 25% of their audience that pulled the plug.

        And it’s hard to argue with those numbers.

        Actually, it’s not too hard. Nielsen trends are so easy to spin and manipulate.

        The numbers for the first three episodes of season 3 are meaningless for detecting trends. The first two were on Sunday against different competition. Angel de la Muerte had a two episode lead-in from the previous day. That has an effect that can’t be known because it doesn’t happen too often. There are no other data samples for comparisons Those three episodes beat every episode in season 2 except for 3-D (Super Bowl effect), Sensei and Santa Claus (Sensei was against a Big Bang rerun. Dancing with the Stars was over for the season for both.) So it’s possible to argue that episodes were higher than every typical season 2 episode. It’s more fair to argue that the first three episodes were not typical.

        The smart thing would be been a cleaner, new audience intro reboot. While Pink Slip/3 Words/Angel were a sort of reboot, they were not new audience friendly. But that’s a different argument.

        The next four episodes (Op Awesome through Mask) are the ones that can be measured because they were a regular time slot: 6.650, 6.977, 6.732, 6.596. That’s relatively flat, but other shows reruns would have be be checked to be certain. After the Olympics, there was a slight up-tick (probably people still tuned in to NBC), and then a clear decline starting with the Daylight Savings effect that hits ALL shows every Spring.

        The 8 week window, should be shifted from Op Awesome to Final Exam. That is 6.650 dropping to 5.461, just under an 18% drop. It’s hard to know what part of that is the Olympics. Some would lost interest, while others would watch NBC more for maybe a few days. According to the first link I found in a quick search (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131060294), all TV shows went down about 10% on average due to DST in 2010. Chuck dropped 8%, which accounts for the big drop before Tic-Tac, the conveniently picked end point. Factoring out the 8-10% effect, we’re left with an 8-10% drop. All shows drop a little throughout the season, but I don’t feel like figuring that out right now, so let’s just use the bottom of the window, 8%. It still supports your position, but is more honest than 25%.

        The trend did continue. In most shows some people stop watching after the WT/WT is resolved (it happened in Castle this season), which accounts for the large drop after Honeymooners (7.5% that week alone). Then it flattened out at the lower level. I don’t want to focus on that, however, because it is the type of thing that would encourage show runners to extend WT/WT.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not so sure I’m willing to just let the event numbers go Jeff. I’ve always thought Third Dimension was one of the weaker S2 episodes, and of course I think Pink Slip is one of the series’ very worst. So I’m willing to suspect those episodes are a major problem in why the viewer retention wasn’t any better after the very well advertised events. It would be interesting to know what sort of drop off is considered “normal” after a well hyped event episode and how Chuck compared.

        But even apart from eyeballs on screen, I think there was a morale problem among fans that lingered through and after that season. Again, anecdotal only, but the majority of more casual viewers I knew did continue watching the show, more or less, until S5 (I’ve since learned a rather disturbing number never even knew there was an S5, they thought S4 was the end). But enthusiasm dropped dramatically; it went from S1 and S2 when the show was brought up quickly in any gathering of friends (“did you see Chuck this week?? Awesome!”) to being rarely mentioned. In S3 when I asked I more often got unenthused or non-committal answers. Some of that may reflect my tendency to socialize with other older married people and mean THOSE are the exact people who most disliked the season. But the variety of opinions we’ve seen here would indicate no such simple demographic is a very good indicator.

      • . It would be interesting to know what sort of drop off is considered “normal” after a well hyped event episode and how Chuck compared.

        I don’t know why I’m doing this, except that I’m curious too. Finding three episodes in two days is too hard to bother, but post-Superbowl episodes aren’t too bad.

        This year: HIMYM 8E/7C on Monday after Superbowl: 10.30 (2 & 3 weeks before were 10.51 and 10.07, the Monday after Sunday playoff games on CBS). However a week later it was 8.98, a 12.8% drop.

        2012 is not a good comparison because The Voice was on both Superbowl Sunday and the following Monday. Chuck was only on the Monday. 37.61 on Sunday, 17.84 on Monday, 16.28 the next week, and 11.90 for the finale.

        2011 on Fox, House jumped almost 18% from 10.45 to on Superbowl Monday 12.33, and then dropped 20% to 9.86 the following week. House of FOX is the best comparison to Chuck, but I don’t know how good the episode was. On IMDB, it is an 8.5, which is higher than the next and previous weeks, but is only about 8th best for the season.

        2010 was HIMYM on CBS again. It’s numbers are more varied. It had a bit of a jump, but it was back to where the show had been two weeks earlier. Sitcoms bounce around more, so it’s probably harder to make a conclusion from either of the CBS years.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Jeff,

        I’ve heard all of those arguments before. And it’s true there are many factors that go into determining ratings. There is never a simple single cause. And that fact gives ample cover to those who would want to spin on both sides.

        And it’s also true that the first 2 episodes of S3 were on a Sunday night in the coveted SNF time slot. So they definitely got a bounce. I’s say it’s even more pronounced than you’re stating. If you remember that time, Chuck was getting a ton of press. It was brought back early to save Monday for NBC. There was a ton of positive buzz. And the 3.0 demo number for the premier was on the upper end of expectations. I could hear the NBC exec’s popping the Dom corks from here in Michigan. 🙂

        But I believe that makes my core point even sharper. They had a real opportunity to attract a new audience, and failed, IMO because of a downer series of episodes.

        If you look at a chart of ratings by season, they are all fairly flat. A couple of exceptions. There was a noticable bump for 3D (IMO another lost opportunity because of a downer episode). There was a noticable falloff at the end of S4 that I really can’t explain (DST, lol?). But otherwise fairly flat. BTW, DST happened in all of those years. And it’s true that every season fell off a little in the spring as fewer people watch tv.

        Except for S3. S3 has an almost linear negative slope. The slope markedly increased from episode 8 thru 12 and then flatened out.

        I actually thought I was being kind. If you look at the demos (the only number that really matters) it lost like 35%.

        So I’m convinced that a major factor in the decline was the tone and feel for the episodes. Not necessarily that C/S were apart. The episodes were depressing. But IMO, the major factor that drew people to the show, the chemistry between C/S was missing. And it showed in the numbers.

        Naturally, you can disagree with my conclusions. No way to prove me right or wrong. But I do still feel they are accurate.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      If you follow the mythology of the show Orion was on the run from both Fulcrum and the CIA until Chuck Versus The Ring where Fulcrum is defeated and he makes a deal to get the CIA to stop hunting him. That might make re-visiting your old home problematic. In season 3 he wasn’t on the run per say, but he was keeping a low profile since there were still people out there looking for intersect technology.

      Also, season 2 and season 3 were different intersects based on different technologies. See MyNameIsJeffAndImLost’s handy guide to intersect technology. In addition we don’t know that the psp existed at this point. Clearly Orion continued to work on the intersect because he left behind a laptop for Ellie with a working intersect (including the added physical skills not in his initial design). Given that he invented a way to remove it in season 2, it seems logical that he built a suppression device alongside his version of Intersect 2.0

      • atcDave says:

        Some excellent points. That apparently does mean the underlying technology of the 2.0 is VERY different, but there’s no reason that can’t be true.

      • anthropocene says:

        Stephen’s actions inside the Intersect lab with Chuck indicated that he knew how to remove it, but maybe hadn’t tried it yet. And he seemed excitedly pleased enough after the reverse Intersect (at Black Rock) worked for Chuck that this could have been the actual first application. In that case the PSP could have been created by Stephen during S3.0 while the rest of us were distracted by superfluous PLIs.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it must have been created during S3, but that does require that Mary was at least getting info from Steven. And that is one of those topics that presents some difficulties whichever way you turn with it.

      • Late to the game, but for what it’s worth I think the PSP wouldn’t have worked with the 20 year old Internet 0.1, it didn’t matter. PSP’ing Volkoff wasn’t the only step. The Hydra network had to be dismantled. Since Frost was incompetent, that took a while. This is my speculation of course, but it agrees with what was in the show.

    • Robert says:

      Oh no; not ANOTHER topic hijacked?!?

      And again with another round of complaints about how it wasn’t well written, how what they used was ridiculous, how the mythology was badly implemented…same bs, on and on…

      You know, people, I think the problem is that only those who actually cares about the “mythology” are all worked up over this. What is clear is that for TPTB (and many fans), what was important in the show was the characters relationships with each other, and especially how Chuck and Sarah have grown up, got together, and how they left the spy world behind to start a family together.

      THAT’s what the show was all about.

      Did the devices, or stories worked in showing us that? Yes? Good!!! It has done its job, then. Who cares if it wasn’t totally fitting with some other bits of the “mythology”? Why give a s**t and getting all worked up about Graham calling or not calling Sarah a handler? And what about the v-logs? So what if it was a bit implausible to see Sarah Walker confiding herself to a v-log? The point was to see how fast Sarah got compromised and fell in love with her Nerd. Did it work? Yes! So the device worked, period.

      And now, can we discuss about episode 2.19? Because I’m sick and tired of hearing some people complaining time and again about the same damn things, instead of analyzing and discussing about this week’s episode. Geez…

      • BillAtWork says:

        “and how they left the spy world behind to start a family together. ”

        Um, I must have missed that part. Maybe re-watching wouldn’t be bad thing after all.

      • atcDave says:

        Well that was the plan at the end. I can see calling that the story, it’s certainly how I remember it. I sure wish we’d actually seen it, but I have no doubt that was the outcome.

      • Robert says:

        That’s what they were planning to do, Bill…(and that we saw, even in 5.11)and it’s clear they’ll do it, especially after the Beach scene. And do not mock me, Sir…

      • BillAtWork says:

        Excuse me. Are we watching the same show? It’s far from clear that they leave the spy life and start a family. That’s one of many possible outcomes. And wasn’t your total post mocking me?

        This is exactly what I see as wrong with this fandom. Our conversation was polite and civil. When we disagreed, it was with respect. And both sides made good points.

        Yet here we have a bully trying to stop the conversation with an angry diatribe.

        Okay, I’m out.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sorry to see you go Bill, but I’m with Robert, even if he was a bit snarky out of frustration that the minority opinion feels on this board. You and a few others have posted a lot about how it is impossible to make sense of the story and how it fails on every level, implying an objective failure of the creative team at times hinting at, or outright declaring malfeasance and incompetence.

        Some people liked that story and saw value in it. How do you think those criticisms come across to them?

        You may think your comments are entirely cordial and that the one who calls your criticism on the most minute details silly is out of bounds, but it doesn’t always play that way to everyone.

        I’ve written about this till I’m blue in the face (fingers?) so I really don’t care anymore and have no illusions that I’ll convince anyone to moderate themselves as season 3 approaches. The worst commenters, who at times engaged in outright slander of TPTB are gone. But still the prevailing attitude has driven away fans and commenters with differing opinions to the point where even blog authors don’t bother to comment anymore. Very little stands in the way of this blog becoming a useless echo chamber.

        I admire Dave for keeping in sight that it is his diverging tastes as opposed to some sort of objective failure or malfeasance on the part of TPTB, and I admire Joe for trying to make the case that sometimes the angst and the drama adds to the story, but frankly I’m nearing my limits. I see things very different in the re-watch, based on what we know now, and I want to share that, but it seems the only way I can do it is by threatening to delete comments that are simply rants about how much the poster hated the episode or the choices TPTB made. I’ll defer on what I think the problems with the fandom are.

        But I will end with this. The capper to me? People who say they refuse to re-watch dominating the discussion of a re-watch. That’s rich.

        Can’t wait for season 3.

      • Robert says:

        A bully, heh? That’s a good one!

        And I know I have sounded snarky; but you know what? I’m totally fine with it! I just find it funny when some people accuses others of something they do themselves…but again, I’m not surprised, some of those did the same things on another Chuck forum.

        And I really dislike when some are saying that after season 2, the show was pure crap, implying that those who don’t agree don’t know what good tv is, and that they are kind of stupid for liking what they saw during Season 3,5, 4 and 5…

        And, as Ernie said, it is true that I’m sick and tired of hearing all the same complaints time and again. I’m sorry if some are offended, but I’m tired of hearing the same rhapsody again and again…

      • Robert says:

        And…BillAtWork, it’s not a possible outcome, it’s the only possible outcome. Until 5.12, Chuck and Sarah were planning to quit the spy life and start a family (Sarah’s own words). And near the end of 5.13, Sarah commits to Chuck again on that beach. The love is clearly there. So, what makes you think that, as Sarah is already regaining her memories, and her love for Chuck is clearly back, they won’t get back on track with their plan?

        As for watching the same show, yes we are, but I’m watching it with a positive mindset, but you clearly aren’t. You are reacting to the show you wanted, not the show you got. And as the show has shown us in the past, Chuck and Sarah have always overcome the obstacles to their couple, there is no reason, I repeat, no reason at all to believe that they will not overcome this one as well, and get back on track with their lives.

        That’s why I’m tired of reading about all the wrong things that TPTB apparently did with the series. Was “Chuck” perfect? No. But it wasn’t the travesty that some are trying to make us think it is…

  5. BillAtWork says:

    It should be pointed out that if you work forward the number of days on Sarah’s mission log when she tearfully admitted that she was in love with Chuck Bartowski and didn’t know what to do about it, it was right in this timeframe.

    • joe says:

      That really describes what I was seeing in her actions too. Throughout, Sarah looks uncertain about how to deal with what’s been happening to Chuck, except for the very end when she drags him to safety with Casey’s help and against his wishes.

      Hum. I said that Chuck sometimes looks “unsteady on his feet” occasionally here, even if he’s much more self-assured overall. He’s not used to being a powerful person, an agent of his own destiny. Sarah seems to be the same way in her new role as the girlfriend.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      We did have a very long and nerdy conversation on just that topic here.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Not to rehash that conversation, but I do think there are a couple of points.

        All of the other events, Chuck brought me pizza, Chuck broke up with me today, I kissed him — all happened exactly that number of days from the pilot to when that episode aired. So I think it’s reasonable to assume Broken Heart, Dream Job timeframe.

        And I don’t think it’s inconsistent to not notice a marked change in Sarah’s behavior. She was still Agent Walker on an assignment. She was simply admitting to herself that she was in love. And that Agent Walker didn’t know what to do about it. It didn’t mean necessarily that she was going to jump on him. Just that she loved him. I would argue that epipany moment came in Broken Heart when she was driving presumably to her new assignment, violated her orders and turned the car around. Then helped Chuck find his dad.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m still leaning more towards between Predator and Broken Heart, but I agree its still a recent revelation to Sarah during this episode, and it adds a new level of understanding to some of her actions. She may not know “what to do about it”, but she will help him find his Dad!

      • BillAtWork says:

        She was certainly conflicted. In Broken Heart she left without much protest before she turned around. Even when Bwckman was considering reinstating her, she just stood there. It was Chuck and even Casey who registered the protest.

        When Beckman ordered her to lure Chuck into Castle so that Casey could tranq him and take him to a bunker, she came very close to doing it.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think she really came that close. A career spy tried and failed to convince herself to follow orders. And she failed the moment Chuck opened his mouth.

        There was exactly zero chance of Chuck being delivered to Castle.

        But yeah she was very conflicted, at least outwardly. She was still going through the motions of a lifetime of professional training. One of my favorite parts of this arc is watching Sarah’s professionalism finally collapse. Of course even then she’ll make an attempt to convince Chuck’s she’s still doing her job!

      • joe says:

        Yeah. We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but when Sarah and Casey are ordered to bring Chuck to Castle for detention, it’s almost like Sarah is in the process of slowly killing off Agent Walker. For a moment, as she walks into the Buy More, she’s part zombie, not quite sure what her next words and her next actions will be. The death metaphor is all over this scene.

        It’s a back and forth battle between Sarah and zombie Agent Walker until she decides to whisper “Take off your watch.”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m not so sure she wasn’t trying to justify Chuck’s bunkering based on the need to keep him safe. Remember in the beginning of Lethal Weapon they were about to do just that. Also I got the impression in Lethal Weapon that bunkering wouldn’t break up the team, i.e. that Sarah and Casey would be going with him as a team as opposed to Marlin’s extraction.

        Anyhow, I think Beckman was relying on Sarah’s dedication to Chuck’s safety and didn’t realize that the prospect of betraying Chuck or Chuck hating her for the rest of his life for burning him was just as horrible as his death after her confession. I think Sarah probably walked across the parking lot with Agent Walker psyching herself up and Sarah saying it was for his own good, to keep him safe, but then as soon as Chuck spoke up all resolve was gone and she’d keep him safe on her own, without the bunker, rather than betray him. Still one of the greatest cliffhangers of the show.

      • joe says:

        Oooooohhhhh! I like that description, Ernie. Yeah, Sarah is trying to justify Beckman’s decision to herself, and her own decisions putting Chuck’s safety above his freedom, family and happiness too. It’s hampsterwheeling, though, and lots of fun watching the wheels spin.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie that is exactly how I see it. And you can see a guilty half grin on her face when she gets to the Buy More, like she knows this isn’t a good idea. The attempt at convincing herself didn’t work very well. because she knew it was a complete betrayal of Chuck’s trust. And ultimately that trust matters more to her than her professionalism.
        Actually I might be painting that too black and white. I think a huge part of Agent Walker’s professionalism ties directly into her serving the greater good. And over the course of two seasons, Chuck has helped clarify that purpose in her. So the trust she has cultivated with Chuck actually is a very personal connection with that greater good. Betraying that trust could actually undermine her self image as a spy. So even a big part of her professionalism won’t let her do it.
        The only thing that MIGHT lead her to help bunker Chuck is a conviction it was for his own good. But that’s too thin, and there’s too much against it. She needs that trust she’s developed with Chuck (and its already more damaged than she even knows).

      • joe says:

        Dave, that’s an amazing description of how Chuck, the lowly nerd-herder, changed Sarah, the super-hot super-spy (and who’d a-thunk it?)” He clearly changed her every bit as much as she changed him.

      • BillAtWork says:

        See, I see that moment as the real climax of S2. Sarah was constantly fighting the battle of Agent Walker doing her duty vs Sarah, the woman who was falling harder and harder. We saw it several times in S2, especially in Suburbs where she told Chuck that is was just a cover, then teared up when she saw the CIA tearng down the cover house.

        So I see her indecision as the final bit of that conflict. She went into the Buy More as Agent Walker prepared to follow an unpleasant order. But she left as Sarah woman protecting the guy she loves.

        And the turning point was when Chuck expressed faith in her.

        Very romantic moment.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Interesting. I see that moment as just the start of Sarah’s journey. Finally realizing that there are some things more important to her than being a good spy. Or that being a good spy meant something other than always following orders and protocol.

        Also remember that she was apparently ready to walk out of Chuck’s life (or at least was telling herself she could and would) right up till the second wedding in Chuck Versus the Ring. Though in fairness she could have decided before she confirmed it to Bryce, that’s just the point where we found out she’d decided to stay.

      • BillAtWork says:

        And that is exactly what is so frustrating about this show. In their worship at the wt/wt alter, a lot of their story simply doesn’t make sense. That point you just sited about Sarah being willing to walk out of Chuck’s life came one scene after she grabbed his hand and told him that “it is real, Chuck.”

        Sarah threw her gun on the bed in American Hero. The symbolism was clear. She was done being a spy, off to run away with Chuck and start a life together. She never, ever told Chuck that she was on her way to meet him. And she appaently changed her mind about being a spy the instant Shaw showed up. Or did she?

        So it is simply impossible to do what we’re trying to do, analyze how Chuck or Sarah grow or progress. Especially using a single scene as evidense. There are simply too many examples of what looks like growth, only to have it appear to never have happened in the very next episode or even scene.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I think there’s a period there, perhaps its the “not sure what to do about it” period where she still expects she could leave, but could not really go through it.
        I see two examples of this, the first is in Broken Heart when she packs and starts driving to the airport, until something comes up (that she had started before packing and getting in her car!) that gives her an excuse to go back. I’m not sure how far she would have taken it at this time, but I think she was just looking for excuses to stay.
        The second is in Ring when she intends to simply follow her next assignment, but finally decides she can’t go.
        I would suspect this has actually been true for a while (way back in Nemesis she choose her boring assignment over a more exciting opportunity) . But by the end of S2 we know Sarah is ready to choose Chuck over career.

      • joe says:

        Regardless of when Sarah consciously decides, I’m more amazed by the distance she’s already traveled. It’s not so much that she’s realizing some things are more important than being a good spy. She first had to realize that there are such things in the universe. By the season break she comes to realize those things are much more important.

        That point is coming quickly, even though we didn’t get to see it for months and months.

      • BillAtWork says:

        That’s the most frustrating point. They had this romantic love story all teed up. Sarah shouldn’t have fallen in love. It was the very last thing that she should have done. She knew that better than anybody. It was a spies first rule. And especially not with this nerd who she wouldn’t have given a second glance to in a bar. She simply couldn’t help it. They threw that powerful story away for one more season of wt/wt. Even they don’t try and deny that.

        We saw it. She was willing to run off with him. He broke her heart in Prague.

        That’s the single moment in the series where they lost it. In the fear of actually allowing the natural story to flow, they tried one last wt/wt/ reset.

        The Chuck we knew would have never picked being a hero over Sarah. At most, and even this is a stretch, he would have talked her into working with him to train together.

      • joe says:

        Dave, again, I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I can’t help but notice that Chuck doesn’t really want Sarah to give up her career for him yet. Well, he does, but not really.

        It may be possible to see Sarah’s hesitation and even ambivalence as a reflection of Chuck’s. He knows who she is – someone “out there” saving the world with other James Bond types. That’s not him, and if he thinks he sees a girl making omelets in a bright, sunny kitchen in a bright sunny suburb, he’s not sure he’s not seeing things. It’s only what he wants to see.

        We will find out he’s wrong long before he does!

      • atcDave says:

        Bill you know I’m in complete agreement there. That’s part of why I just ignore the front arc of S3, it just annihilates S2 and well, really everything prior to S3. I don’t know who those people are at the start of S3, certainly they are not the characters I fell in love with in the first two seasons.
        Chris Fedak himself said they had made a whole new show for S3, and I’ll agree with him completely on that. It was a show I didn’t care for. That will always make me a little grumpy, but at least the show I loved did return eventually. And I got two full seasons of the show I had been hoping to see since the Pilot.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I think Chuck and Sarah figuring out how they want to be together is simply the next phase of the story. They said it at the end of Honeymooners, being together was more important than the details of how they did it. But first they had to figure out how much they needed each other.
        As I’ve said before, I think we can jump pretty straight from Ring to Honeymooners where this story finally continues.

      • uplink2 says:

        Gee I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone but damn I agree with you Bill. After reading much of this discussion your point about doing the kind of analysis we do here being made extremely difficult by the Chris Fedak matador style of mythology writing is really spot on. It’s what is going to make the season 3 discussions so much more difficult. At least till this point in the series there was some semblance of continuity of story but what comes after even makes all of this up to this episode lose some of its mythology shine.

        You mentioned the PSP earlier in this thread and that is one of the most frustrating uses of technology to drive the story in this series. As you say everything up to and including its use in the episode seems to point to the fact that they were in contact but when Chuck releases the virus on the Contessa, Mary’s shocked expression is as genuine an emotion as she displayed in her entire arc. To me there is no way she was faking that reaction. She was shocked because they hadn’t been in contact. Now to me it makes a far better story if they had been and makes her a much more sympathetic character than she came off as but we will get to the discussion of how terribly the Mary arc was handled in S4. Even though it is still my favorite season, that was some god awful writing. But when you look at the PSP and her statement, it is never explained why suppressing Chuck was something Stephen didn’t think he was ready for but she did. Ultimately it is simply a badly written plot device to set up the Intersectless arc that ends with Leftovers. And why did he give him the tool to get it back?

        But you are also right that the great story they are building here get’s thrown out the window for another trip to the empty WTWT well. The show I loved went away and took a long arduous walk that ultimately ended back right where it should have started.

        I’ve been rereading many of the threads from S3 the time frame, as well as many of the Mo Ryan reviews, in preparation for when we get there to try and get a feel for what people were saying here during that period as I was still 4 months away from venturing into the Chuck online universe when that was going on and I will tell you it is some fascinating reading. So many here saw exactly what I saw and it is really fun to see how the very vocal negative reaction drove what they were doing later on. The almost begging in some of the postings to make some sense of the disaster they were seeing onscreen really makes your heart break in many ways. It was almost like “Help us Ali Adler, you’re our only hope”. God were they surprised when she made it so much worse.

        They took the real honest emotional conflict and tension of this arc they had been building for 2 seasons, threw it away for some contrived WTWT angst thus putting the relationship front and center at the expense of a good spy story. Then when they caught hell for it, they and others blamed the people who did exactly what they told them to do, focus on the relationship, for overreacting. It no longer was about a balanced spy/romance story like it was here and yet when the audience did what they were being told to do and rejected it, somehow it was our fault and we should just trust them. It’s absolutely infuriating.

        To me throughout the last 3 seasons of the show there are many points where I simply can’t see that they had a master 5 year plan mapped out since the beginning. The did have a strong 2 season plan in part because the 2.0 was originally planned to be introduced in ep 1.22 and not 2.22 because of the writers strike. But after that the evidence of a strong mythology, strong overall story plan, strong planned character evolution vanishes.

        We are quickly approaching the peak of when Chuck was hitting on all cylinders. No matter anyone’s personal view of what is to come and what we enjoyed or not, overall I think most would agree with that statement. Though the show I loved returned with 3.14 and I really did like much of S4 a great deal it simply wasn’t as strong, as balanced and as well conceived as it was in this and the next few episodes.

      • BillAtWork says:

        There is another thing that I don’t get about the PSP that nobody seems to ever bring up. If Mary’s mission was to bring down Volkoff’s network, and removing the intersect cured him, turned him back into Hartley, why not just show it to him? Problem solved.

        I’m actually willing to forgive some plot holes. Because that’s not why I watched this show. They had something special going. They had an old fashioned western. The cold gun slinger tamed by the love of the beatiful woman. Except that the genders were reversed. Chuck was the plain everyman who actually won the beautiful girl. Not because he was a spy, but because he was an anti-spy. He used his brains and his feelings to thrive in a world that he shouldn’t have survived long. Sarah protected him in the spy world, and he protected her in the no-spy world.

        And they totally lost that with 2.0. Suddenly Chuck is more spy than Sarah is. And all of the charm of their love story went poof.

        And yes, I was happy (more releived that the pain was over) when they finally got together. But it wasn’t nearly the storybook love story i was hoping for or expected.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with most of that Uplink. S4 is my favorite season, but the balance and mood is very different from S2, and the depth of the spy story is certainly less. It comes as no surprise that many who loved S2 would be less than thrilled with S4.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I think much of that is they didn’t earn it. They didn’t earn the the culmination of that great love story they were telling here. It was delayed for more likely business reasons than certainly storytelling reasons. And because of that it lost for much of what made it, sorry folks, epic. They threw pointless barriers in their way and didn’t show them fighting to overcome them. They simply took them away because it was the possible final episode and they needed to end it on time.

        All of the barriers to getting them to “It is real” they placed in front of them from Suburbs and Best Friend on through Beefcake, Lethal Weapon, Broken Heart, Dream Job and on to Colonel we see them fight through both together and separately on their individual journeys but as partners. They each had to evolve in many ways and they had to also evolve together to overcome the struggle. But they always did that together as partners, friends and yes at times lovers. None of that happens with the struggles that were placed in front of them after the 2.0. It’s two completely separate journeys to DYLM and therefore you don’t feel like they’ve earned that moment. You are exactly right it was more relief that the disaster was over than the culmination of a beautiful journey. It felt good but not as great as it could have been.

      • anthropocene says:

        This is a reference to something way back up the column…sorry, Bill, but when I read “And especially not with this nerd who she wouldn’t have given a second glance to in a bar,” I’ve got to stick up for Chuck. He was portrayed as a diamond in the rough right from the start. His beautiful and successful sister always knew it. He got into Stanford, found a lovely and brilliant girlfriend, and was aceing every course except biochemistry until Bryce sabotaged him. He attracted plenty of attention from the ladies at his birthday party (until he began mooning over Jill). He was clearly the leader at the Buy More. When Sarah appeared, he (and his foil Morgan) had some funny and confident banter with her. Then Chuck did something both ingenious and sweet for the ballerina and her dad, and Sarah was already falling for him. Having been coached a bit by Ellie, Chuck proved a charming escort for Sarah on their first date—and until the fighting started, I thought Sarah seemed something of a nerd herself. Had the two of them met in a bar rather than a life-and-death mission, who’s to say there might not have been a spark? (How many times has it happened in AU fan fiction?)

        Throughout season 1, Chuck could be whiny, self-pitying, and ham-handed in his relationship with Sarah, but just as often he was quick-thinking, confident, and courageous. Sarah had her own issues, but she was not shallow, and she recognized Chuck as a diamond in the rough.

        Nerd does not necessarily equal loser—certainly not in Chuck’s case!

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that you’re missing my point. I didn’t call Chuck a loser… but I could have. When we first met him he was a Stanford dropout, in a five year funk from having a girl dump him, living with his sister, and working as a low level technician in a Buy More. They wanted us to think of him as a loser. So when this incredibly hot blonde walks in and starts flirting with him, even he was justifibly skeptical.

        That was the charm of the story. Lovable nerd pines for the girl who is totally out of his league. But over time we find out out that maybe he wasn’t as pathetic as we first thought. He was smart, caring, and willing to be a true hero. And the perfect girl, well she had some flaws of her own. In her own way she was pining just as much for what he had to offer. Each brought what the other lacked.

        And that is the charm that I say they lost. In S1 and S2, Sarah was forced to admit that the nerd had it all over the smooth pretty boy spy type she was always attracted too. When they finally got together, it wasn’t as two flawed people who completed each other. Chuck was in many ways a better spy than Sarah. In a sense, he became Bryce. Sarah no longer longed for the home and family that she has in S1. It was just 2 spies getting together.

        And don’t misunderstand me. I’m happy that they got together. But it lacked the original charm.

      • joe says:

        Uplink, I’m not happy with the direction in which you’re taking the discussion.

        They took the real honest emotional conflict and tension of this arc they had been building for 2 seasons, threw it away for some contrived WTWT angst thus putting the relationship front and center at the expense of a good spy story. Then when they caught hell for it, they and others blamed the people who did exactly what they told them to do, focus on the relationship, for overreacting. It no longer was about a balanced spy/romance story like it was here and yet when the audience did what they were being told to do and rejected it, somehow it was our fault and we should just trust them. It’s absolutely infuriating.

        You see, this is what we’ve been trying to avoid. What you’ve done is strayed from an honest analysis of the story we had in front of us and you’ve strayed even beyond a discussion of the feelings it raised in you. What you’ve done is gone back and deliberately searched out discussions that would inflame you personally, and then you’ve attempted, once again, to bring that inflamed opinion here.

        I simply do not want to discuss, once again, how Fedak’s imagination enrages you. It didn’t add to our understanding the first time, and it doesn’t now.

        I’ll keep this up, and the lengthy comment of yours below, just so you can blow off steam one last time. I’m tolerant that way, and it might serve as an example of what not to do when we get to S3 in a couple of weeks.

        But honestly, I won’t be too surprised if Ernie decides to take it down, and I won’t even consider complaining to him if he does.

      • jam says:

        “Nerd does not necessarily equal loser—certainly not in Chuck’s case!”

        Well said, anthro, all of it. I really don’t agree with Bill’s idea of how Sarah might have viewed Chuck if they randomly met either.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I do agree exactly about what was lost. If “nerd gets the girl” was a theme of the first two seasons; they broke it, and made it “nerd becomes the hero to get the girl.” I don’t mean to say its all bad, certainly Chuck needed to do some growing up. But I think they did too much out of order. Chuck had to change too much to be worthy of Sarah, even if they tried to tell us the whole time that wasn’t true.
        I think it would have worked better for me if Chuck got the girl, WHILE HE WAS STILL A NERD. Then the growing, and becoming a real spy, and finding his place in the world, would have happened together, like a real couple; maturing and facing life’s challenges while they helped each face whatever needed to be faced. I could even take that a step further and say I think it all relates to modern relationship ideas that suggest people need to be complete or find themselves or whatever BEFORE they are ready to commit to another person. That’s completely bass ackwards. We grow together with our partners, we don’t change for them. Getting that part backwards on the show, REALLY undermined a lot of what had been special those first two seasons. We believed Sarah had fallen for the underachieving, slightly depressed, socially awkward; but intelligent, sweet and brave nerd. Then they changed the game and decided he needed to become worthy of her. Again, I know they paid lip service to the idea he needed to “keep what was great about him”, but really, Chuck of the later seasons is almost unrecognizable from Chuck of the beginning.
        Now I was completely happy with those later episodes. But I think there’s about a million ways the journey getting there could have been handled better.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Exactly, Dave.

        Chuck didn’t need 2.0 to be a hero. He was a hero when he didn’t have the skills. Because he used his brains and his feelings.

        And nerd gets the girl was only half the story. Just as powerful was the cold spy who had been taught that feelings were the enemy and love was for suckers being turned into a woman who was capable of caring. That’s Chuck as a hero. He saved her emotionally while she saved him physically.

        Chuck may have become a spy, and hense a bigger hero, but he certainly became less of what Sarah needed and I surely liked him a lot less.

        I’m going to try and keep this on topic. When I was first watching Dream Job, I enjoyed it a lot. The reveal of father and son to each other, Steven as Orion, and Chuck as the Intersect was incredibly powerful. I won’t say that it was ever one of my favorite episodes (Seduction, DeLorean, Cougars, Santa), but it was certainly above average.

        But…

        That was totally ruined for me by the later events which said that almost nothing in the episode should have happened the way it was originally portrayed. To the extent that I have no interest in re-watching it.

        And I hear a lot that Fedak and company were constantly being thrown curve balls by NBC and that’s why the story was so disjointed. I’m sympathetic… to a point.

        But the things we’re talking about here are things I would expect to have been worked out before the pilot even was fully written.

        Who were Chuck’s parents? That is central to the story of the Intersect. Why did they abandon Chuck and Ellie? Where were they and what had they been doing for the past 20 years?

        And if they had known those things they wouldn’t have done inconsistent things. If they were still semi-together, they wouldn’t have had Orion give Chuck a dangerous assignment with no information when he knew full well what she was doing. There were other ways to get to that same point. He could have told Chuck that she was stuck with Volkoff and needed to be rescued. S4 could have flowed much like it did.

        If they weren’t together, they wouldn’t have written that PSP scene (which I think they probably regret). Again there were other ways to take the Intersect away from Chuck.

        Whether S2 had 13, 22, or 130 episodes, there is no excuse for not having thought through the basic storyline and written episodes that used the basic storyline as a guide.

        And that’s why I think it was a mistake to move to a serial format. The mission-of-the-week style up until about Predator was working. They simply weren’t prepared to tell a grand story, because they themselves didn’t know how it was going to go.

        And I still maintain that this episode is the poster boy for that.

      • Mel says:

        Like Anthropocene, I object to ““And especially not with this nerd who she wouldn’t have given a second glance to in a bar.” That’s just silly, Chuck and Sarah connected pretty much instantly, and Sarah is certainly not shallow.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Did they, Mel? On the mission log when Sarah recounted that Chuck brought her pizza, wasn’t there a partonizing quality to her tone? Wasn’t her ‘sweet’ rather on the sarcastic side?

        When did Sarah actually start falling for him? In the pilot like she said in Other Guy? Or later like the logs would suggest?

        I still stand by my characterization. We were supposed to think of Chuck as a loser. That’s how he thought of himself. He was the one who couldn’t believe that Sarah would ever have a romantic interest in him. Even when everybody kept telling him. Ellie, Carina, Roan, Casey… he never believed it could be.

      • Wilf says:

        “Chuck didn’t need 2.0 to be a hero. He was a hero when he didn’t have the skills. Because he used his brains and his feelings.” – BillAtWork

        Yes, Bill, and his most heroic deeds, even after downloading the Intersect 2.0, were performed without/despite 2.0 and were always a product of just what you say – his innate intelligence, emotional intelligence and feelings

      • anthropocene says:

        I’ll agree to disagree, I guess, Bill. Chuck was certainly down on himself and seemingly content in his holding pattern, but I think it was intended that we see past that, right from the start. Especially as it was clear that he was already more than just a “mark” to Sarah.

      • Mel says:

        I see nothing patronizing in the vlog, just Sarah’s reserved personality shining through. She’s not comfortable talking about her feelings, even to a camera. Her “I like you Chuck” however is genuine, as is her earlier reaction to seeing him with the ballerina.

        So yes, her Other Guy speech is accurate, not that it should be needed since their connection was obvious right from the beginning.

        Also, Chuck was self-deprecating, but everyone else saw the value in him, including Sarah and the viewers. So I don’t think “We were supposed to think of Chuck as a loser” is even close to being accurate.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Wow, Mel. If you didn’t see the ‘sweet’ in the vlog as slightly derisive, we just see it dfifferently.

        I agree that Sarah started to like him very quickly. But my point was and still is that Sarah had a type. And Chuck Bartowski was not it. If she hadn’t been assigned to a mission to get close to him, she would have had no reason to have a conversation with him, much less develop romantic feelings. Look at her ‘piece of cake’ when she was given the assignment (I don’t remember which time. We we told 3 different mutually exclusive of that event.) She was on an assignment. She was going to play him, get close to him, get the intersect back, and never think of him again.

        And that’s the best part of the story. This underacheiving nerd won the heart of the beautiful superspy when he didn’t think he had a shot and she wasn’t romotely looking for it.

      • atcDave says:

        The development of the back story is a funny thing to me. When the show first started, the NBC site said Chuck’s parents had been killed in a traffic accident when he was young, that Chuck (like Bryce) was originally from Connecticut, and that Sarah had gone to Harvard.
        Where did this information come from? Was it even coordinated with the writers? Or was it purely the fantasy of some web site designer?
        My guess s the latter, and that show runners never even saw the material. Certainly no effort was made to use it on the show. And only the Sarah/Harvard connection even still seems possible at show’s end. Is this normal for how back story is handled? I have no idea. But I do know I’ve seen other shows with even bigger mess-ups, even on screen ret-cons, so I’m not too terribly worried about it.

        As far as Chuck the looser and how Sarah saw him, I’ll line up more with Anthro and Mel on this one. And as a viewer I saw a very admirable and relatable character on screen. I never saw a looser. He was clearly a little depressed and down on his luck, but I remember a time when my life wasn’t so different. I really felt a connection with Chuck at the start. And I do believe Sarah felt that way too. She told Chuck in the
        Pilot that she liked him and I believe her. She clearly had reservations about how involved he could be in her case and she didn’t like Graham’s provisional order for shooting him. Granted, that’s not much. But I do believe she was quite impressed with Chuck at the start. Of course it took quite some time for liking him to turn into willing to break orders and sacrifice her career for him. But that isn’t surprising. And for me, one of the great pleasures of those first two seasons was seeing how far she would go for him; and of course, next week we’ll get to the big event!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow, lots of discussion, some good and some, as Joe put it so well, not really adding much to the discussion, but I’ll pass this time. It is becoming evident that my Chuckwin’s Law free posts might need to become a feature in the season 3 section of the re-watch.

        As far as how we should view Chuck, hero or loser, I think the proper answer is hero, but we should understand that he sees himself as a loser, even if others don’t. That is what is driving Chuck throughout the end of the season, the feeling that he can’t make anything of himself and move on while he is the intersect, hating that he is trapped in his cover with everyone seeing him waste his potential, but never recognizing how he has changed and become a hero on his own terms.

        Chuck’s self image is neatly set up in his interview and his subsequent talk with Sarah.

        I would say probably my greatest weakness is how little I pushed myself since college. I’ve been trapped in a job,a life that I don’t really want, but don’t really see a way out.

        And later with Sarah

        It’s weird. Even though I know it’s not real, I am excited about this job.

        Chuck,you got to remember it’s just an assignment.

        No,I know…I know what it is. I just… If I had gotten this job at Roark right after college, maybe I’d never become the Intersect. Then when my dad comes back after ten years I can show him that I’m not just another loser working at a Buy More.

        Chuck,you’re not a loser.

        Well,I’m sure he hoped I’d be doing something a little bigger than Nerd Herding.

        You are.

        It’s the second part that Chuck doesn’t see, that he is doing something important with his life even if others don’t see it. If he had a better developed self-image that might be enough, but at this point even with Sarah trying to tell him it isn’t getting through. In this particular episode we see that hit home like never before when Chuck has his dream job ripped away for a failed mission, and returns to the Buy More. You see his frustration and self-loathing as he looks around at his lot in life, stuck in the Buy More.

        It is Chuck’s frustration and self-loathing that spurs him into action in this episode, breaking free of Sarah’s control like never before (notice how much more frequently that keeps happening lately).

        It is Chuck’s self image that drives him to finally decide he will become a spy and a man worthy of Sarah. It is that same self image that makes him hit rock bottom in season 3, having lost site of why he wanted to become a spy, for Sarah, to be the man she saw but he couldn’t.

        As Joe stated Chuck doesn’t want Sarah to choose him over being a spy, and not just because he feels unworthy. Even allowing that he could see himself worthy of Sarah’s love having to give up being a spy would feel like too much to ask of her. He sees her exciting life of travel and adventure, sees that because of him she’s been trapped in Burbank for years (and not seeing how much Sarah has enjoyed playing at “normal girl” even if she isn’t there yet), and he can’t bring himself to feel he would be enough for her.

        As for Sarah at this point I’d say remember Heather Chandler’s speech in Cubic Z. And without getting into the was Sarah more like Carina and Heather in the past debate remember it is explicitly stated by Sarah that she views herself as having been just like them. It is her self-image so we need to respect that as a part of canon. It is why Sarah can go from “it is real” to “I’m leaving in the morning with Bryce”. She wants to be with Chuck but she feels as if she’d ruin him and he’d be better off without her.

        I’m getting ahead of myself here so I’ll quit for now and perhaps post my thoughts on the last few episodes later, but as I said it is important to at least give credence to TPTB’s premises if you want to understand the story, absent considerations of whether you like that story. If you reject outright that Chuck could sacrifice his future and what he wants for others you haven’t been paying attention. That self-sacrifice is at the center of his character. From calming Sarah down on a rooftop where he’s waiting to be bunkered to revealing he’s the intersect to a Fulcrum agent to save his sister to giving up his dream job in a vain attempt to complete a failed mission, Chuck has always put others needs first, but it is starting to wear on him like never before.

        This is the episode where Chuck finally decides he will pursue what he wants, and needs, regardless of what others want or expect from him. It is an important moment for his character. He needs to get a bit selfish to make the future he wants happen and this is a turning point.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I have to agree with you about the characters being laid out prior to the Pilot even airing. Good friends of ours aunt is an extremely well known fiction writer. If I said her 3 word name I’m sure most if not all would know instantly who she is. Well we have met her a few times from our friends and my wife, a big fan, once asked her how she sits down to begin writing her books. Her answer was that she starts with the characters first. She lists who they are, what they like, what their backstory is, everything about the characters she plans to use before she even writes the first word of her novels. To me it seems that this is a solid, almost mandatory way for any writer to start and I’ve tried to follow that idea with OC’s in my own crappy stories. I do it now because I ran into a problem where I wrote myself into a corner about an OC that if I had wouldn’t have happened. I would think that they would have done the same things especially with Chuck and Sarah’s parents as they were so much a part of their backstory. It’s why I commented above that I don’t feel like there really was an overarching 5 year plan for the show. If there was they wouldn’t have had to retcon so many things like you point out. It does make analysis of episodes like this one so frustrating in light of what happens after. I agree with Aerox that Baby may be the most blatant and egregious but it certainly isn’t the only one. And that gets to the point of was Emma even thought about and described before the Pilot aired.

        Joe, while I don’t fully understand the point you were trying to make about what concerned you so much except that maybe its the off screen story of the fan reaction to the onscreen storytelling that you want to stay away from. If that’s the case then I will comply though I think there is a very interesting story to be told in light of how things can be viewed with the benefit of knowing where it all went. But maybe that can be moved to different threads if some are interested in it. I simply wasn’t around back then and find much of it so fascinating to read. I just don’t see how once we get there the fan reaction can be ignored as it is integral to understanding the storytelling both good and bad. But I will certainly abide by what the rules of discussion are.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I would love to be able to be a fly on the wall in the writer’s room. Sometimes it’s almost like they went out of their way to generate plot holes. At the end of Baby as a flashback where Graham is giving Sarah her first handler assignment. That couldn’t have happened, right? We know from the pilot that Sarah didn’t think she was going to be Chuck’s handler at first. She was going to find out what he knew, and maybe kill him. Did nobody in the room point that out? It wasn’t an important scene to the story. It was more throwaway than anything.

        I can only conclude they didn’t care about details like that.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        As far as the seeming contradictions in the three versions of Sarah’s mission to Burbank, I don’t see any problem with the end of Baby. Sarah was Chuck’s handler just as Chuck was Manoosh’s. She didn’t yet know that the intersect was in Chuck’s head or that it would be a long term mission, but her job was to develop Chuck as an asset to retrieve the intersect just as Chuck’s was to develop Manoosh as an asset to retrieve the mystery weapon he was working on. If Sarah’s meeting with Graham at the end of Baby took place right after Graham and Casey’s meeting in the destroyed intersect room the timeline works out too. Sarah flies to Burbank that night and contacts Chuck in the BuyMore the next day.

        As for the end of Nacho Sampler I always took that as Sarah imagining what Chuck was thinking now that he’d been a handler and had to burn an asset. It is obvious that Chuck is seeing their past in a whole new light and Sarah is a bit uncomfortable with that. As she is watching the man she loves disappear she can’t help but think of the very different spy who walked into that BuyMore for a simple mission that would be over in a day or two. The scene essentially merges Chuck and Sarah’s experiences with what was supposed to be a quick and easy mission but turned into something else, and how they both now see themselves and each other in a different light.

        The only real contradiction seems to be that Sarah gets Chuck’s picture on her cell in Nacho Sampler whereas she’s seen his file in Baby. You could do some mental gymnastics and say the picture was just as a precaution once she’d made contact, but I’m content to say that the scenes each provided the context needed for their particular episode.

        In Baby the importance of the scene is that Sarah went to Burbank and Chuck directly from a mission that went south because a rogue spy pulled an innocent into their world, and as a result she’d had to give up the closest thing to a home and family she had to protect them. She was emotionally vulnerable to getting caught up in what Chuck seemed to offer and feeling very protective of innocents used as a pawn in someone else’s spy game.

        In Nacho Sampler we’re shown the beginning of Sarah’s and Chuck’s relationship, and how she initially viewed him in the context of Chuck’s recent experience. Both Chuck’s growing doubts about he and Sarah and if it ever was real and Sarah’s growing acknowledgement that Chuck’s chosen path is one she put him on are seen by merging the two experiences into one scene that one the other or both are thinking of in a new light.

      • uplink2 says:

        Wow, Ernie. I have to say that is thin, like spiderweb silk thin. I’m much more of the Occam’s Razor kind of guy. The simplest solution tends to be the right one. In this case the simplest solution is that they simply didn’t care. Bringing back Tony Todd for a contrast in the idea of handlers was the most likely reason behind it and it’s impact on canon was irrelevant in their thinking. Plus that scene completely ignores the years Sarah spent with Bryce. It’s like he didn’t even exist. A much more appropriate folder to hand her would have been Bryce’s but I have a feeling they couldn’t use his likeness or it simply didn’t matter to them.

        As Bill points out Sarah was sent to Burbank to first find out if Chuck was working with Bryce, a rogue agent and his former best friend. For all we and she knew at the time it was an extremely plausible solution based on why the hell would Bryce send it to an innocent. Second it was to recover the data and either capture Chuck or kill him. Same for Casey. He was there to clean up Bryce’s mess just as much as Sarah was there to “fix it”. Bunker or death were the only two options until Chuck changed the balance of power by saving the General. It was only after Chuck revealed he downloaded it and forced the issue of his usefulness to them that the idea of a handler came up.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think you miss my point. I largely agree with you. They care less about sticking to an iron clad canon with detailed and rigidly plotted continuity absent any retcon than they do about getting the emotional impact of the episode right, so they’re willing to allow for some wiggle room with the continuity. Also remember they’re writing on a deadline so they might not have the resources to double check everything to be sure it conforms exactly to everything that has come before.

        What I describe is what I think they were concentrating on, a look into the thoughts and feelings of the characters that speaks to us emotionally and shows us their state of mind.

        As for the frequent plot holes and retcon it’s something I see often, we assume more than is in canon. There is so far as I know nothing in show canon that says all spies take red tests or that Sarah having partnered with Bryce was a permanent arrangement that precludes both the CAT squad and solo missions, or that handler means only one thing, an agent running a civilian asset on a long-term basis, but people constantly assume those things and then call poor continuity or retcon. Yes, some continuity issues exist when they feel the need to show a character’s state of mind or actions in a new light, as with the examples above, but the fans create a lot of problems that really aren’t there.

        Do they start out in one direction and sometimes change course? Of course. Every interview I’ve ever read where it is addressed Schwartz and Fedak talk about making adjustments based on what is or isn’t working. The written page and the end product can be very different things, and things that look great or fun on the page might be too hard to film or produce on a budget or a deadline, so they need to be open to leaving enough wiggle room and ambiguity that they haven’t tied their hands if they want to revisit something. The three different scenarios of Sarah’s initial mission are probably the clearest example of discontinuity, but even they aren’t as bad as most people portray them.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree mostly with Ernie on the Canon issue. But even more than fanon as a problem (defining fanon as assumed “truths” that actually are not ever presented as truths on the show) I think is just a resistance to accept any complex solution. We may have a show canon that gives us some “facts” that are difficult to reconcile, but that alone does not invalidate them as facts.
        I’m sorry Uplink but this is a totally inappropriate use of Occam’s Razor. You can’t favor simplicity over observed fact. Often we see seemingly contradictory events in reality; this doesn’t always mean our eyes are playing tricks on us, it often means there’s more going on than is immediately obvious. And I think there is a responsibility to make an honest effort to make sense of a story before we dismiss it as factually flawed. Given that I’m, a pretty serious amateur historian I am very familiar with reconciling different accounts of events, or seeming contradictions between written history and archaeology. Many imagined “flaws” in one account vs another are simple differences in perspective or emphasis and often can be reconciled in such a way to make sense of both accounts. And given that I’ve seen several writers make a good effort to make sense of events in Baby I don’t believe there is any particularly troubling information there (Check out “Sarah vs the Phantom Retcon” and “Sarah’s Mom vs Sarah’s Family” by MyNameIsJeffNImLost for example).
        Now you may say “it’s sloppy writing and requires too much effort to make sense of it” and that’s fine. That’s a judgement call, and an indictment of the writing. But that’s not a retcon. The presented facts CAN be reconciled. I would love if every Chuck episode had an extended cut where all the little holes were filled. But that is not how television is made. Most viewers will never even think about the little inconsistencies we see. And even we, the hardcore nutjobs, do have some responsibility to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and see if some sense CAN be made of the story before we start yelling “Retcon”. In the end, the only actual issue I have with Baby is that Graham probably should have used a different term than “Handler”, “AIC” seems more correct. But not only is that a small thing I can live with, its also the sort of thing real people take liberties with all the time. I can even imagine Graham intentionally using the wrong word to make his point to Sarah about her changed role.

        Just for the record, you all know we’re fast approaching those episodes I will have major, MAJOR problems with. But even though I can nitpick a lot of issues related to story, character and continuity; ultimately I think that’s all beside the point. A show succeeds or fails based on its entertainment value. Its great if things hold up under close scrutiny, but television just isn’t normally made that way. They spend a week or two on a script; a couple of weeks of pre-production getting sets, props and costumes lined up; and a little over a week shooting. There simply isn’t time or money to catch all the things that we do in the aftermath. I really don’t think its worth sweating all the small stuff.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        With all due respect, you’re spinning what we saw on the screen.

        In the pilot, Sarah’s mission was clear. She was to find out who Chuck was and what he knew. The idea of Chuck becomming an asset, or even being allowed to live, didn’t even come up until almost the end of the pilot.

        In Baby, Graham was giving Sarah a long term assignment. He didn’t misspeak. Sarah said that she was done with handlers and Graham agreed. He told her it was time that she became one.

        In Nacho, she first saw his picture on her cell in the BM while getting the assignment.

        Simple algebra says all of those things couldn’t have happened. And the biggest head scratching that I have is why so many are spending so much effort defending the indefensible. This isn’t a close call. They showed us three versions of the same event that all couldn’t have happened.

        I mean, come on. Guys, I’m not trying to get this unpleasant, but this isn’t wiggle room. This isn’t some obscure fact that we’re nitpicking on. Are you telling me that as you were watching Baby, in real time, it didn’t jump out at you that it couldn’t have happened that way? It sure did me. It put a damper on my enjoyment of the episode. And I did enjoy Baby in spite of its clear issues. I wish they had used Emma and Molly earlier and more often. Although they took a fair amount of time in S4 to have Sarah regret her relationship with her mom and that she had been forced to choose sides. So I was a little surprised when she had a fairly normal and loving relationship with her.

        There are tons of holes that I’m totally willing to ignore.

        I don’t question why Sarah was the only worker in the OO, yet could leave whenever she wanted.

        I don’t care that we’ve never seen Sarah in the same outfit twice yet she lives out of a suitcase.

        I don’t care that Shaw had a penthouse apartment in Burbank yet stayed in Castle.

        I don’t care that Costa Gravas had nuclear weapons aimed at the US and the CIA didn’t have a clue.

        I don’t care about any red test inconsistencies. I always thought that was a silly device.

        I don’t care that Chuck first downloaded the Intersect by reading an email yet Sarah couldn’t get her memories back because the glasses were used.

        I don’t care where the picture of C/S cuddling and looking like a loving couple in front of Roan’s house came from. They used it twice. Sarah threw a pencil through it in Cougars and told Chuck that she liked to keep it with her at all times in Suitcase. They were in the same clothes as the beginning of Seduction where Sarah told Chuck they couldn’t be together. So I don’t care that it must have been Casey or Roan that took that picture. Okay, maybe I care about that one a little. 🙂

        What I care about are the character retcons. I care when they sell me on an emotional scene and then either walk it back or never reference it again.

        I care when Sarah makes a life choice, commits treason, and runs with Chuck rather than allow Beckman to bunker him. Yet there are no consequences. No harm, no foul. It cheapened the dramatic decision.

        I care when Sarah throws her gun on the bed and it’s never referenced again.

        I care when Carina is first portrayed as a rival to Sarah, willing to seduce Chuck, ready to take the diamond and leave Sarah holding the bag, then are told later that she is Sarah’s best friend and CAT Squad teammate for several years.

        I care when Sarah grabs Chuck’s hand, flashes him the bedroom eyes, tells him “It is real, Chuck” then is prepared to leave in the next scene.

        I care when they tell us that after being married almost a year, Chuck doesn’t know that Sarah’s mom is alive.

        These aren’t small, insignificant things. They speak to the disregard they took to telling the story they were asking us to get invested in. And it’s why I haven’t re-watched a single episode since the finale. I also suspect it’s why they were unable to make a syndication deal. Re-watching takes those holes and rubs them in your face.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Bill, I agree with all of that. Those are all issues that we need to either ignore, or laugh along with when we watch the show. But it was a comedy, and for the most part I have no problem with any of that.
        But I think you’re way too hung up on the “handler” term. A term that isn’t even officially defined in US service. As I said, I don’t think Graham’s word choice was ideal, but if Sarah was going in as an independent AIC to investigate a mark; I don’t find it offensively inappropriate to say she was the case officer or handler, at least in the short term.

        I think we’ve spent WAY too much time on this issue. I honestly can’t imagine why it’s become such a focal of so many people’s displeasure. It was a throw away line, used to highlight a parallel within an episode, that doesn’t change anything material about the show.

      • uplink2 says:

        First off I agree completely with all of that Bill. It is also one of the reasons it took me 11 months to rewatch my first episode and as of this writing I’ve still only rewatched 4. Playing fast and loose with small items is one thing but the very reason Sarah was sent to Burbank isn’t a small reason. It the basis for the entire story and should at least in my mind be respected by the writers.

        Dave I would disagree with you on a major point in your argument. They don’t just spend a couple of weeks writing a story. I’m sure there are group meetings in that writers room certainly but an individual writer or group of writers is assigned to write a particular episode once the framework of that episode is worked out by the Showrunners, EP’s and whomever else works on the overarching story. But it is that individual writers responsibility to write that episode and they are given much longer to do it. It’s why someone like Ali Adler wrote 3.2 and then 3.8. Plus other writers are writing different episodes at the same time. There could be a number of weeks allowed to write a single episode for the individual writer. And I believe it is that writers responsibility to take the time to get the canon and back story right during that time. Now maybe they are overruled at times but simply using the pace of the writing schedule as an excuse for sloppy writing doesn’t wash with me.

      • “We know from the pilot that Sarah didn’t think she was going to be Chuck’s handler at first. She was going to find out what he knew, and maybe kill him.”

        That’s actually not a contradiction. Who says a handler won’t make a decision or be given an order from higher ups to kill an asset? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that plot line in a lot of spy TV shows. It’s also a common Chuck fanfic theme for S1 & early S2 stories.

      • I care when they tell us that after being married almost a year, Chuck doesn’t know that Sarah’s mom is alive.

        Yes, it’s ridiculous that they didn’t talk about that sooner. However, for correctness. Chuck never says he thinks Sarah’s mom is dead or alive. He could know she was alive. He knows she is a sensitive topic because of the prenup. Also, after stricking out with trying to get Sarah’s dad to the wedding (or even dinner), I think Chuck would’ve learned his lesson and not push.

    • jam says:

      I can’t be the only one who finds the whole vlog thing friggin’ implausible.

      The fact that Sarah kept one, that she shared personal stuff on it, or that Casey could somehow access it years later. Yeah, no.

      • atcDave says:

        It is a bit implausible

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s very implausable. But it was such a powerful moment that I’ll forgive them. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with that Bill!

      • aerox says:

        I had given up on the show recognizing its own mythology around the ‘vs the Baby’ mark. Well, before that actually, but Baby was definitely the final nail in the coffin.

      • Bill says:

        Thank you for writing what I’ve long been thinking. As cute as the vlogs are, they also are the single most useless and implausible spy tool TPTB ever introduced. Such a blatant memory lane device too.

      • atcDave says:

        We’ve mentioned it before, just how unlikely it would be, as concerned as she was with surveillance, that she would have been spilling her guts to a video log. A video log that was so poorly secured both Quinn and Casey were able to get copies of it.

        Its always hard to know how big a deal to make of such things, television is just FULL of plot holes and implausibilities. Seriously, I’ve never seen a show that didn’t contain at least one stupid moment, or continuity gaff, or stupid looking prop, etc….
        At some point, we do have to give the writers SOME leeway. The V-log, I thought, was an emotionally effective device and was beautifully acted. I am willing to overlook its shortcomings because it works as a story telling device.
        Generally, I’m not going to get worked up over something like that unless it fails me as entertainment.

      • uplink2 says:

        What is great about the vlogs though is how Yvonne is so perfectly in character with the different ersa. Except for day 1, we never really saw that Sarah except maybe when she was talking on the phone to Graham in the car but each other scene both the styling done by wardrobe and makeup were perfect but it was the characterizations that Yvonne displayed were exactly like who Sarah was in those moments. If nothing else witnessing that greatness and skill as an actor was worth the obvious plot hole.

      • jam says:

        “But it was such a powerful moment that I’ll forgive them.”

        That’s what it always comes down to, small (or even big) plot holes are forgiven if the episodes are otherwise pleasing. I liked Baby despite the obvious problems, but since the final two episodes in my view are utter trash with no redeeming qualities, the vlog thing is just annoying. 🙂

      • anthropocene says:

        The v-log was an important plot device, but if I’d been writing those two last episodes, I would have had it be something Sarah kept to herself (maybe sharing it with Chuck at some point). Dark Sarah could have stumbled across it in the apartment in e5.12 while searching for the Intersect glasses, read the label, and pocketed it out of pure curiosity (remember, she never trusted Quinn completely). It could have made for a lovely montage if she started watching it after DARPA (stopping short of the confession of love) and then finished it after fleeing the struggle at the dream house. Quinn could have pieced together other files and videos to serve his evil plan to turn Sarah against Chuck. Then again, that would have cost Casey his sweet shipper scene near the end of 5.12.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It isn’t totally implausible that an agent might keep a private log in case of the mission’s failure or her death with some assurance of confidentiality outside of those eventualities.

        As Sarah comes to realize how compromised she is it becomes her only outlet for her inner turmoil about what to do. Even though she knows it may be seen some day she can’t help herself, she needs to unburden herself to someone, eve if it is just her video diary.

        In my fanon it is archived at the CIA facility run by Fitzroy after Chuck leaves for Prague so it is readily available to anyone with CIA contacts who can access Project Bartowski’s files, which isn’t many at all, but both Casey and Quinn aren’t just any old spy.

        Also this could be seen as another version of the previously established “spy wills”. It is information that Sarah would perhaps never share while alive, but would want to know could be shared if the worst happened.

  6. ThreeCentsWorth says:

    I would suggest that a log as we see in Chuck v Sarah is ridiculous, a plot device. As others have said, though, a plot device is forgiven if it is well executed. But I didn’t think it was. Go back and look at the comments the Sarah character purposedly left in her log after Chuck v the Wookie. She’s portrayed as calm and mildly amused by Chuck’s actions. But that is NOT what was shown in the episode itself. In the episode, the character is shown as so shaken and affected by Chuck that she blurts out (however quietly) her “real” middle name. So the log device is not just a bad plot device, it’s a poorly executed one.

    • BillAtWork says:

      Here is why I thought that is was powerful. It clearly showed the progression of Sarah’s feelings for Chuck. From pure mission objective, to the man she was in love with — and didn’t know what to do about it.

      Did they tweak some of the facts to make it a more marked progression? Yes, I agree they did. But the scene entertained me so I’m willing to let it slide.

      The scene that bothered me was in the courtyard. Chuck didn’t fight for her. He just let her leave.

      • atcDave says:

        That I mostly agree with. I’m not sure there are any actual facts they tweaked, apart from not really believing Sarah would have done such a thing. But once I get past that hurdle, I thought it was perfectly executed.

      • uplink2 says:

        What I also found interesting was the events they chose to show us. 3 moments from season 1 and 1 from season 2 based entirely on getting us invested in the romance with none of the evolution of the spy story. It was purely to show how Sarah fell in love with him. TBH I’d love to see her Vlogs from many other events. Post Nemesis, Crown Vic, Marlin, her opinion of Bryce’s return and his attempt to take her back at Chuck’s expense. Jill, and Cole. Those would be a lot of fun to see lol. I’ll stop there because…. well just because.

      • atcDave says:

        I would have loved to see the whole v-log too. Sarah’s commentary on the series!

      • joe says:

        That’s a great point, Uplink and Dave. The web-comic that was floating around was also a way to give us a bit more background, IIRC, but was pretty Chuck-centric. Seeing Sarah’s log on-line would have been a great way to engage even more fans and make them feel like they’ve gotten some new information without spoiling us.

        Even 30 seconds or clips lasting only 1 minute at regular intervals would have been so cool!

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t buy that. Just because Sarah was affected when an event happened proves nothing about how she might present herself later when she composes herself for the log. Especially since she is still under the self delusion that she is in control of herself and this mission. I think the more controlled self commentary she gave is completely consistent with the professional spy who can suppress or shut down her emotions as needed to accomplish any mission, at least briefly. I may not buy the logistics of the v-log, but I completely buy the presentation.

      • joe says:

        You know, that sounds like you’re coming at it from a completely rational angle. And I agree, but I get to the same conclusion when I think about that log emotionally. There’s no reason that Sarah, after whispering “My middle name is Lisa,” wouldn’t gather herself emotionally either, and then speak to her professional self in the v-log.

        The character is like that, I think.

  7. ThreeCentsWorth says:

    And you’ll forgive me (or, maybe, you won’t) for saying this: The tenor of this thread is EXACTLY what I wrote about when I visited a month or two ago. You have people here who just seem completely invested in convincing themselves that the 91 episodes add up to a cogent whole, a we’ve-plotted-out-this-journey that starts with the pilot and ends with Chuck v Goodbye. And then you have folks invested in pointing out how awful Chris Fedak is because the mythology is wonky and the continuity is tattered. The truth, frankly, is neither of these extremels. The reality is that the ORIGINAL concept of Chuck runs from pilot to Colonel. Then there’s Ring, the pilot for a new show. And then everything after that is made up on the fly and battered by budgets, show orders and actor availability. The first 34 epsiodes of the show stand alone as great, creative, engaging TV. The next 50+? Not so much. And certainly not a complete, logical 91-episode work that stands up to either the it-all-makes-sense crowd or the Fedak-stinks crowd…

    • joe says:

      Yeah? And your point is…?

      No, don’t bother answering. It’s a rhetorical question, and one that we’ve dealt with repeatedly over the past four years or so. I’m just feeling a bit cynical today.

    • BillAtWork says:

      But who said Fedak stinks? I didn’t. Just that he plainly had different priorities than I would have. I would have told a love story. He told a heroes journey that includded getting the girl.

      My only complaint is that he was sloppy.

      • atcDave says:

        We’re completely on the same page there Bill!

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree, and as much as I think that TCW’s analysis of the changes in the show is pretty dead on for me, there were satisfying moments in each incarnation. Well in one version of it there were virtually none.But I digress.

        I do agree with the central theme he presents, not Fedak, but the lack of an overall 5 season plan. Even Fedak said that Agent X was something he thought of well into season 4 when the back order came. How can that be? How can such a serious change in the entire backstory of the show be an afterthought?

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know they did think they were done. The 11 episode back order came after the season was already in production. They expected Push Mix to be the series finale when they started.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I just don’t buy that. You have to have contingency plans. You have to have an overarching idea of where you want to go. I know there are diversions and have certainly learned that stories take on a life of there own but for to be a successful showrunner you have to have an idea of where you want to take things IF you do get renewed. Not to make a trivial comparison with my stories but I’ve had the basic outline for all of them worked out at least in my head before I started them. I’ve known how I plan to end LL&L for almost 2 years now, since prior to its first posting. I wouldn’t dream of comparing myself to any of this but to not have something as significant as the entire backstory of the Intersect planned out since the beginning I find baffling.

        I truly wonder what would have happened if Season 5 had gotten a back order how they would have handled the ending. Would we have gotten that 5.14 episode I wanted in 5.22 and 5.13 in 5.21 or would we have ended in exactly the same place with just 9 stand alones thrown in?

      • atcDave says:

        Its one thing to have an idea or outline. And I have no doubt they did have some idea of what they could do with a back order. But it’s completely different to have all the ideas and details worked out. And you know many shows get last minute orders, like Castle this year added a single episode to the already full order just a month or so ago. Are they expected to already have a provision for that? Of course not. They may add a filler episode somewhere (like the dreaded “clips” episode), or they may draw some pre-planned story element out to fill more time. Making changes on the fly is how television works, it’s always been that way. And many ideas and plot twists aren’t conceived of until they’re needed.
        Way back when the series started I heard Josh Schwartz talking about the show’s “five year plan”. I understand that’s a normal part of preparing a pitch for a network. But subsequent interviews lead me to think that was all out the window by the end of S2. So much changes in terms of cast availability, production schedules/orders, writers coming and going, what is working on screen and what isn’t (I guarantee S4 would have looked different if Honeymooners didn’t work like it did. And let’s not do the follow up argument on that right now!), AND what inspiration may strike at any point in the process. I would bet at the time the S4 back order was placed they had only the vaguest outline for what came next. And I bet their first discussion after the order came involved if they kept the outline or started a new one.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think you over-state the “it all makes sense” case. It’s not that there aren’t plot holes, inconsistency and retcon, those have been there since the beginning. The point I make is that there is a through-line and common themes that connect the entire 5 seasons if you concentrate on she story under the plot and look for the emotional investment they want from you. Now granted there were problems, more some times than others, and having to come up with an entire 6 or 9 episode back-order when you’ve written the perfect series finale is bound to throw a spanner into the works. But the show holds together despite the radical changes through the later seasons. They connect the very different and more mature characters back to their earlier selves through re-playing themes we’ve seen before and showing how differently they handle them.

      Upthread we discussed one example, Sarah’s “piece of cake” at the end of Nacho Sampler. It revisits an earlier version of Sarah to show how both she and Chuck are seeing things very differently now. The cool confident Agent Walker who walked into the BuyMore fell in love and had her heart broken by a mark, or at least someone who started out as a mark, and now as she watches him retrace her journey into the spy world she starts to wonder if she was fooling herself that she loved him or if it’s her fault Chuck decided to become a spy.

      The end of Baby is an even better example. We see the contrast between the Sarah who gave up everything to be a spy and the Sarah who is no longer willing to compromise herself to remain one. I for one think it’s great stuff, and am willing to give a little bit (OK sometimes a lot) of leeway for those great moments in Chuck history.

  8. Bill says:

    It’s weird to see another poster named Bill@work. Am I having an identity crisis? Split personality? Or a slow day at the office?

    Tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course.

  9. A bit late to the party ,as,usual,but I still happen to think Chuck is the best TV show I have seen in 61 years,warts and all,so………well said Robert & Ernie!!

  10. lappers84 says:

    Wow. A whole year has gone by and you guys are still here?? Can’t really blame you either, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any show quite like Chuck since it ended (honestly not sure I will again). Doing a bit of catching up on the rewatch posts and has got me to watching AGAIN!

    I’m quite looking forward to the season 3.0 discussions – those are usually pretty interesting.

    • joe says:

      Well, Hi, Lappers! Long time. It’s always great to see a familiar handle.

      Oh yeah, we’re still here, always hopeful that we get some word of a potential movie deal for the cast and crew. I’d like to see Chuck vs. Hollywood, myself. It would have plenty of opportunity for Casey to strut his stuff like only he can. 😉

      The S3 discussion has been going on pretty much continually. Much like a zombie, it won’t stop until we shoot it through the head.

      • lappers84 says:

        Funny, I think now we know how it ends it gives a rewatch a whole new perspective, even season 3 (despite it’s poor storytelling). In my mind Chucks main theme wasn’t just about trust, it was about the heart vs the brain.

        A chuck movie would be aces – whether it’ll happen or not remains to be seen, still we can always have hope.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting is one word for it!

      Great to have you drop by again lappers.

  11. atcDave says:

    I had fun last night introducing two new viewers to Chuck. We were having a movie night at our place, I had talked about Chuck with one of the guys before and he’d never even heard of it. So right in between Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Kelly’s Heroes I put in Chuck vs The First Date.

    It’s funny, it can be hard to tell sometimes what people are thinking. But not with these guys. One was laughing out loud the whole time, and about half way through the other asks me “Do you have the first season? Can I borrow it?”
    That made for a very good night!

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        Yay, the world can never have enough Chuck fans! I did my part too, lent my S1 Blu-ray to a buddy and sounds liked he’s hooked!

      • atcDave says:

        Next CFF, we need to work on getting these guys to buy their own copies!

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        Yes, good idea Dave! I will wait for him to watch half of it (he says he’ll watch 1 episode per week), and then I’ll demand for it back just when he can’t wait to find out what happens next. Which episode of S1 do you think this would work most? I’m thinking Chuck vs. the Imported Hard Salami, he should be dying to find out what happens after “The Kiss” and finding out Bryce is still alive! =)

      • atcDave says:

        Sounds like a good plan CFF.
        You know I’m kidding, I wouldn’t do that to my friend. And I happen to know he’s pretty cheap, he’d probably just pirate it!

    • atcDave says:

      Just a minor follow up to this. The buddy who borrowed S1 on Saturday contacted me today to say he and his wife finished S1 and were ready for S2. (More please….)

      Funny I never bought S3 on DVD. They’ll have to either make a purchase (electronics are so funny; it might be cheaper to buy a Blu-Ray player and borrow my discs than buy S3 on DVD…), or do a marathon with me where they’ll be at MY mercy deciding which episodes we will watch!

      • Christopher says:

        Dave, what is funny is the fact that once you start watching Chuck there is no going back. What is amazing is most of my day is either taking care of a 7 month old baby and watching Chuck. In fact, my daughter loves the Chuck theme so much. she stops what she is doing in order to watch the little figure running across the screen.

        Its people like us that need to keep the pulse alive, but something tells me that we won’t have to do much the show speaks for itself

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m always pleased how easily the show catches people, well certain sorts of people anyway! I know so many people who have loved this show, even if they never got on line about it, I know several dozens I could get to go to a Chuck movie!

  12. Chris Byrnes says:

    Dream Job is an episode I have ranked near the top of my list because of everything involved. The choice to have Scott Bakula play Stephen Bartowski, a key character in the whole series. Follow by Chevy Chase as Roark makes the combo very entertaining. Dream Job IMO is post day 564 of the mission log because everything Sarah does with Chuck is in the form as a girlfriend.

    here is how I can put it all together. Remember in Marlin when Chuck asked her to come in when Devon asked Elle to marry him. Sarah responded by saying its family time. Fast forward to Dream Job an equal time for family. Sarah is inside beside Chuck like a girlfriend would do. She encourages several times like a girlfriend and it is also clear in her eyes she is in love. however her eyes, heart are not ready to commit not until the end of First Kill and throughout the rest of the series.

    The second thing I love most about this episode is the way Chuck becomes a man in my view. The fact that he takes things into his own hands and goes to Roark to remove the intersect from his head is great stuff. He is no longer the stay in the car Chuck. We also get a foreshadowing to the 2.0 when Orion tells Chuck that the code to get into the room was in the original Intersect. Which begs the question what other skills were in that version of the intersect. Dissension with Team Bartowski in this episode has actually been a problem for the group throughout the series really. Every season has one of the members going on their own to achieve something. some of the issues facing TB required a rogue operation in order to achieve something. In this case, it was to get into the Intersect room.

    There isn’t much more to say about this episode except for how Sarah is starting to show more the girlfriend side of her that is breaking down the walls of Agent Walker and her duties. Image this after telling herself that she loves Chuck and doesn’t know what to do about it. to Beckmann questioning her commitment to the government, to watching Chuck’s family come together with her help makes me appreciate her more. The woman walks a fine line from being exposed for the feelings she has for Chuck, but really everyone knows that she has/ except Chuck.

    Chuck won’t know for sure until he asks a very important question he has never asked her.

  13. First Impression says:

    Dad.  Scott Bakula.  Perfect!  I can’t pretend that I didn’t know Scott Bakula would play Chuck’s dad and Orion, but my 8-year-old was watching this with me and was completely amazed that his dad was Orion.  🙂

    Pancakes – a fitting reaction for a stunned Ellie.  (I recall Casey and Lazlow talking about pancakes early in S1.)  Oh Boy! – a perfect response from Sam, I mean Stephen.  The awkwardness of a missing decade was well-played, as even Devon couldn’t make things go smoothly.  

    Sitting on the exercise ball during the interview at R.I. had me laughing out loud.  Personally, I actually sit an a ball at work each and every day.  It’s the best ‘chair’ I’ve ever had.  But seeing Zac fold his long legs around it like some sort of spastic spider was absolutely hilarious!  And Casey was a riot at the Expo, dressed as a nerd and clapping like a school girl. Perhaps a minor detail, but Jeffster being ignored by Chuck then helping Chuck’s dash through the audience did show their true friendship for him.  

    When Chuck figured out the Orion schematics matched the layout of R.I., he became a man on HIS mission.  The commando outfit, the tranq guns, and the fabulous showdown with the almost unstoppable “I’m gonna kill you when I wake up” Casey were phenomenal. Go Chuck!  And his bravado never waivered, even when his Dad was being captured.  Five guys falling at once under the rapid fire of tranq guns was comical, but cool.  (Although I didn’t think a tranq gun could hold more than a couple shots.)

    The true Stephen J. Bartowski emerged as he took out Vincent and Chuck realized he was Orion.  Chuck’s expressions of disbelief, awe, then pride also had some relief mixed in.  He knew his dad was there to help him.  He was that young kid looking up to his dad, who was giving him advice and caring for him.  There was finally a reason for the separation and it was legitimate.  

    Then it crashed.  Stephen’s last piece of advice was something Chuck knew.  He already trusted his handlers.  And for good reason.  In all of the chaos, Sarah was solid – supporting Chuck at the first meeting with his dad, the first family meal, the first interview with R.I. and the separation of Chuck and his dad.  Casey agreed with Chuck that they were the best team to locate Orion.  Beckman relented.  Team B would find Orion, and I expect they will.  

    First time through I didn’t sense the disconnect you guys mentioned between Sarah and Chuck, only the reconnect of Chuck and his dad.  My thought was that Sarah was playing by the book since she had almost been removed from the team.

    • atcDave says:

      Definitely some great moments here, and Scott Bakula was an inspired choice for Orion. I think you’re exactly right that Sarah is playing it a little careful precisely because of what happened last week. But it does lead to some minor tension late in the episode. more on that next week.
      Chuck’s first (and last!) day on the job is my favorite part, especially Dad and Ellie’s reactions to it!

      • First Impression says:

        Yes, it was fun seeing Ellie scream NO and Dad scream YES while they watched Chuck on the laptop. It looked like that was also the setting for the deleted scene where Dad and Eliie shared a sandwich and a hug. I wonder if that would have been shown just before they disagreed on Chuck’s escapade at R.I.

    • Christopher says:

      I think the Orion episodes are the best of the series. So much information during the course of these episodes, and Orion’s presence really begins the change in Chuck, he matures more and more into being a spy. from point at the end of Lethal Weapon all the way through the rest of the this season we get a new Chuck.

      Orion is one of my favorite no main cast characters because of his importance to the story and the fact that he basically was being orion/dad in the living room he purposely positions the expo card so Chuck can flash was brilliant both by acting and writing

      its scenes like that make you appreciate the show more. The blend of acting and writing sometimes transcends the scene . Here is what I mean, When the acting of cast and the writing mesh and create a scene that is both powerful and suspenseful you feel like your not watching a show anymore. Look at poorly executed scenes that make you scratch your head than look at the scene between Bryce and Sarah earlier in the season.

      Remember the dance scene following Chuck claiming he did not like red? the sequence with an angry Sarah and Bryce trying to complete a mission the acting and writing was great, but then you get the writing for Santa Claus and how Chuck handled the killing of Mauser bad writing but the actors have to perform what is on the paper.

      What do you think guys?

      • joe says:

        I think the Orion episodes are the best of the series.

        I disagree with a lot of what you said ’bout Broken Heart, Christopher. But I couldn’t agree more about Orion and the “Orion Episodes.” If there’s one thing I hope to see in a movie, it’s Stephen’s return.

        I’ll say it one more time for the record – if there’s one character with whom I identify, it’s not Chuck; it’s Stephen.

        Oh – btw, I suspect the point of the Sarah/Bryce Lambada scene was to establish that, despite the notion that Sarah “has her type”, she really hates to be constrained by that expectation. Poor Bryce caught the worst of that.

        “Bad day to be me.”

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Dream Job (2.19) | Chuck This

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