Chuck vs The First Kill (2.20)

We see the return of Jill, but no Roark or Orion as the season two finale arc speeds to its conclusion.  This is another episode that makes good use of humor, action and well conceived drama.  The “B” plot manages to connect thematically, but has no practical bearing on the main story.  Join us once again, after the jump, as we look at Chuck vs The First Kill.

I think this is a dynamite episode from beginning to end.  And what an end!  Easily one of the best endings of the series; could have been one of the best television endings of all time if it weren’t so diminished by S3.  But even in the grand scheme of things, this episode is great entertainment and fun to watch anytime.

The central issue here is trust.  Right from the start, Sarah asks Chuck if he trusts her.  He does pause for a moment, before affirming that he does.  But this issue will be revisited throughout; as Chuck wonders if he can trust Sarah (he now knows how divergent the CIA’s interests are from his own, so where will Sarah line up?).  Chuck also wonders about trusting Jill, at least in the needing something from her sense.  But Jill is pursuing her own agenda (freedom/escape) and is able to take advantage of what Chuck is after to accomplish her own goals.  All while cautioning that Sarah and Casey are the ones not to be trusted.  At least on Chuck’s current mission of rescuing his Dad and getting rid of the Intersect, some caution is well founded.  But because its Jill the tensions run high.

I think the entertainment value of this episode is sky high.  especially the scenes with Bernie the Carnivore and infiltrating the Fulcrum base.  It is all both funny and exciting.  I love “The Morgan”, Chuck protecting his test answers (on a personality test!), and most of all, the action sequence.  Sarah taking on a building full of enemy agents with a brace of pistols is just awesome television.  And Casey’s shotgun is hardly far behind.  Chuck’s attempted rescue of Mr. Bergey is a great scene in its own right.  It highlights what is different and special about Chuck (he will go to some extent to save someone who just tried to kill him), and is funny at the same time.  Jill lends a hand, but is clearly shown as conflicted and hesitant to do so.  Perhaps its a normal response with her own freedom on the line, but its clear she’s no Sarah!

I like Chuck letting Jill go in the end here too, he keeps his word even when the consequences for himself may be dire.  But I’m guessing Chuck only anticipated a possible bill for an expensive missing ring.  Not the bunker order that comes down!  Which of course is the defining moment of this episode, arc and season.  I mentioned back in Broken Heart how Beckman is often reduced to mere plot device, and here we see it again.  After just learning a couple weeks ago that Agent Walker has feelings for Chuck that can be “an asset to the Asset” she now decides the same agent is a good candidate to lure Chuck into possibly permanent captivity.  And she wonders at why Chuck seems to trust Agent Walker?  Well congratulations General Beckman, you’re about to get a tutorial on the subject!

“Take off your watch” is as epic a moment as I’ve ever seen.  Last week we spent a fair amount of time going over this event, I suspect we’ll discuss it some more now.  My take on it, and I’m sure I’ll end up rephrasing this (for clarity!) a few more times, but of course Sarah is horrified when the order comes down.  I think she tried to convince herself as she walked across the parking lot (after apparently changing clothes?  Maybe she didn’t want to walk into the Buy More smelling like gun powder? Funny) that this was for Chuck’s own good, for his safety.

But the convincing didn’t go very deep.  Sarah knows its wrong, and she knows Chuck will never forgive her for this betrayal of trust.  So she stands there looking horribly guilty as Chuck approaches.  She tries to do her job, but Chuck broke down her defenses long ago.  Nearly the first words out of his mouth and Sarah can’t go through with it.  [I would love to see the “Groundhog Day” version of this scene.  In a million tries what’s the farthest Sarah ever gets back across the parking lot?  Or does she ever even make it out of the store with Chuck in tow?  Maybe she gets further in a universe where Chuck has a beard?  But I bet Sarah could never deliver Chuck to Castle.  The General is about year late for that order to be obeyed.]  We get a tense pause, as Sarah apparently double checks camera locations, and then the line comes.  WOW!  That never gets old!  In my own little mind I often imagine Chuck as three different shows.  The first show ends with Colonel (or maybe Ring).  This moment is the climax of that first show.  Of course I already loved the characters and setting, and this is the pay off moment for that whole first series.  I was grinning ear to ear.

I should come back to the “B” plot for just a moment.  The trust issue plays through here too as Morgan wrestles with trusting Emmett, or not.  Perhaps the stakes aren’t as high as the trust issues Chuck is dealing with, but the problem character is far more unsavory.  And of course Morgan is burned by trusting the wrong person, while Chuck’s result is quite different.  Overall, I think the entertainment value of this sub-plot was quite low, fortunately it doesn’t get much air time.

The balance of these first two seasons of Chuck was often delicate.  No doubt it is occasionally darker than I prefer.  But the lasting impression is how perfectly the action, adventure, drama, romance and humor played off each other.  We have two more episodes with this wonderful balance before we come to a more difficult season (that fortunately won’t last!  my enthusiasm for the last two seasons of Chuck in some ways exceeds what I felt for this first incarnation).  We will talk a lot more about our changing perception of the show in the weeks ahead.  But for now, it couldn’t be better.

~ Dave

Are You Wired?

Why, yes! Yes I am. Chuck vs. The First Kill does it to me every time.

The Morgan

The Morgan

There are layers here, which is a ridiculous statement for an episode that is generally colored comical. Know what I mean? The first, aborted Buy More rebellion, played to Twisted Sister’s We Ain’t Gonna Take It, Chuck’s lethal “defensive” move, The Morgan and, of course, his calm, running-gag whine that, yes indeed, he’s wired, are low-brow comedy. They’re also hilarious in a “I’ll make you feel good” sort of way, which is just the way I like it.

That’s the light-weight layer, but it has a lot of stuff to hold. After all, there are at least three or four stories going on at once, each distinct and interesting in their own right, and each one better than the last.

Now, if I were to relate (again) all the details of all the stories in chronological order, I’d probably mess it up, even with the notes I took. I’d also probably bore you. But if you haven’t had a chance to re-watch and would like that kind of synopsis, I invite you to read our review from back in ’09.

There’s not much detail needed for the Buy More story anyway. As it often does, Morgan’s problems with Emmett’s treachery, ending in a wonderful homage to The Godfather, is an echo of Chuck’s plight. Teh funny comes back to us as poignant. The one-episode adventure, Team B invading a Fulcrum recruiting center with the help on Chuck’s first love, Jill Roberts, is one of the best. The more I see of Jordana Brewster, the more I like her!

The Carnivore

The Carnivore

That story too has it’s perfectly ridiculous moments with Chuck bringing down two bad-guys, Jill’s Uncle Bernie (Ken Davitian as “The Carnivore”) and Fulcrum’s Agent Bill Bergey (Christopher Cousins) with the same lethal maneuver, The Morgan.

Say goodbye, Jill.

Say goodbye, Jill.

But the ridiculous becomes sublime when, in both instances, Jill has to say goodbye to people who care about her.

Even better, we have a battle going on underneath between Sarah and Jill, who after all, did try to kill her one time. The writers aren’t so crass as to have them actually fighting over Chuck, of course. They’re not. Instead, they are both fighting for Chuck’s trust. In Sarah’s case, she thinks Chuck is just too trusting of Jill. In fact, the words “child like naïveté” come to mind.

Is Chuck too trusting?

Is Chuck too trusting?

In Jill’s case, she is convinced Chuck is too trusting of the CIA. But we have to ask both of them: Is Chuck really so naive? I don’t think so! He proves he’s better than that when he stands up to General Beckman.

Chuck: That’s your update? Well, I’m sorry, but that’s a non-update. And you know what? It’s not good enough.

Casey: Watch it, Bartowski. That’s a US general you’re talking to.

Chuck: I’ve spent the last year of my life being tortured dangled off of skyscrapers, bathed is sewage – stop me if I’ve forgotten any other glamorous perks of this job.

I’ve continually done everything that you guys have asked me to do. But once my dad gets kidnapped, all you can say is “sorry?”

It’s not just Beckman, either. Chuck’s not taking anything from official channels at face value any more. But – um, Sarah is “official channels” too, right? For Chuck, Sarah is a much harder to dismiss than a mere general.

Sarah: Okay – I know you don’t trust them. But do you trust me?

That’s a good question. Chuck answers “yeah,” but… doesn’t it seem like he delays his answer a bit too long? – like he’s really thinking about it?

Even in the face of that hesitation, Sarah gives Chuck her strongest assurance I can remember that, yes, she’s really on his side.

Sarah: Good. And I promise you we’re gonna find him.

That’s a real promise, and Sarah really means it. Chuck believes her too, but when push comes to shove, he’s just not sure it’s a promise on which Sarah can deliver. It may not be entirely in her hands, after all, and when it comes down to it, Jill may be in a better position to help than Sarah, regardless of their histories and intentions.

Chuck: Look. I know she tried to kill you, and I’m sorry about that. But she is the best chance I have at rescuing my father. He’s out there somewhere. God only knows what’s happening to him.

Sarah: You have to realize that there are some people you just cannot trust.

Chuck: Sarah – I already know that. I don’t trust anyone – except for you. And right now, I need you to trust me. Jill is the only way I’m gonna get my dad back.

Trust has to work both ways. If it was possible to take a poll while the show first aired, I would guess that about 50 percent of the viewers were thinking that Sarah was going to let Chuck down at the end. She’s had a bit of a history of doing that, n’est-ce pas?

He never appears in this episode, but Stephen J. Bartowski plays a big roll nevertheless. That’s a layer of storytelling too. It may be that the CIA has sent Team B. on an official mission to get Orion back from Fulcrum. The CIA has it’s reasons. Chuck, though, is on an unofficial mission to save his father regardless of what the CIA tells him to do.

In fact, Chuck doesn’t care about the official mission at all, and Sarah knows it. He is just interested in solving the shell game that Fulcrum is playing with his father. Could it be that, from Sarah’s POV, Chuck may not be trustworthy either? Sure. Casey certainly doesn’t trust him.

Team B is falling apart.

Team B is falling apart.

And if no one trusts anyone, then how can Team B stay together? The answer is, it can’t.

We should have seen it coming earlier, even before Casey caught Chuck going rogue to save Stephen in Dream Job or earlier still, when Chuck hid Orion’s schematics from Sarah’s view in Predator. As a team, they are falling apart.

Casey : Permission to drop the twerp into a deep dark hole, General.

Beckman: Granted.

Casey: Huh?

That’s it. As far as Beckman is concerned, the Human Intersect Project is over and done. Chuck is just too hard to control. I was as surprised and stunned as Casey and Sarah that the end came so quickly. You see, for weeks I’ve been calling Chuck and Sarah boyfriend and girlfriend, because that’s what they were. This time through in my re-watches, they seemed more like a couple than I ever realized before.

Three years ago when the episode first aired their wavering trust gave me pause. Now the whole arc seems even more dramatic and intense for that. They are more intense. Sarah’s reluctance to even say that they were a couple was, then, only a signal that maybe they weren’t quite there yet. Maybe that was exactly what Chuck was thinking too. Now, Sarah’s reticence is something else. It’s a near fatal flaw that caused Chuck to have the same caution I did at exactly the moment when…

Yeah. The moment. The fact is, my sense of timing is all weirded out here. Those last, unforgettable – what is it? Five? – minutes of the episode, from the moment General Beckman makes her decision to “drop Chuck into a deep, dark hole” until, really, the first ten minutes of the next episode, they seem to echo forever in my mind. They go by in an instant that I don’t want to end. [Groundhog’s Day is right, Dave!]

I can’t resist re-playing it a bit. As the general gives her orders to Casey and Sarah, we see Sarah entering the Buy More, smiling a fake smile. She’s been told – ordered – to lie to Chuck and bring him back to Castle. Once there, he will be detained by Casey, who is watching on the monitors and waiting to strike like a cobra.

Don't do it, Sarah!

Don’t do it, Sarah!

Sarah: We have good news.

Chuck: Can it wait? – computer emergency…

Sarah: It’s about your father. We found him.

Stephen’s safe – it’s all over and he’s back at Castle, Sarah tells him, and despite his feeble attempt to stay incredulous, Chuck finally believes every word of the lie. That’s too bad, because she’s there to arrest him.

Wrong word. She’s there to betray him (and I’m whispering “No, Sarah! Don’t do it!” at the TV screen). Then, with a sigh, Chuck says something that causes ice and stone to crack.

Chuck: I owe you an apology.

Sarah: Why?

Chuck: I was beginning to think that I couldn’t trust you anymore, Sarah. – that Maybe Jill was right, that the CIA was never gonna let me go, that they would always put their best interests ahead of mine. But not you. You’ve always looked out for me. Thank you.

Sarah seems lost and for one brief moment, hopeless. She looks back one time as if to see her old life running out the door, leaving her. And then, they share a hug, Chuck in relief – because it’s over, and Sarah in desperation combined with steeled resolve – because it’s not. She whispers in his ear and everything is changed. Everything.

Take off your watch.

Take off your watch.

Sarah: Take off your watch.

Chuck: Why?

Sarah: Because it’s all a lie.

The turning point we’ve all been waiting for. Chuck did NOT trust the wrong person, like Morgan posited. Nor did he trust too much – not Jill and not Sarah. She was there to betray him, and yes, Chuck had wavered. But for both, that is over.

Now Chuck’s mission is Sarah’s mission, Chuck has a partner and nothing is between them. But the cost is huge. With Casey and the CIA close behind, Chuck&Sarah are on the run. There is nothing more romantic.

Treason

Treason

Chuck: You’re disobeying orders for me? Committing treason, Sarah. You could go to jail.

Sarah: I know.

Wow.

– 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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123 Responses to Chuck vs The First Kill (2.20)

  1. JoeBuckley says:

    “Wow.” – for when only a single word will do! 😉

  2. anthropocene says:

    Wow, indeed.
    Along with all the other wonderful memories of this episode and its dynamite ending that you brought back for us, Dave and Joe (bravo, both of you!), I’d like to recall how magnificent a montage that ending was. Among all the dramatic montages that “Chuck” had, I’d say this was one of the top two of the entire series (the other being the hospital/wedding practice montage in “Cliffhanger,” imho). Everything was spot-on—the time and scene shifts between Castle and the Buy More, the rising and falling and rising of the dramatic background music (Tim Jones, I assume), Morgan wandering dazed across the scene—absorbed in his own little crisis and unknowingly giving precise words to Chuck’s inner turmoil (Chuck’s head snaps up in recognition!), Beckman coolly ordering Chuck’s betrayal (and Sarah’s devastation) then dramatically signing off with that little musical flourish…and did anyone else notice how Sarah’s voice wavered—almost like a little sob—when she said, “They’re going to take you underground…”?

    Wow, this episode, this montage, this ending. As I mentioned before in this blog, I only started watching the series at “vs. the Ex.” I didn’t watch a single prior episode until I got the DVDs more than a year later. So I had very little Chuck-Sarah backstory to work with. I did not trust Sarah, and was definitely steeling myself to see her let Chuck down somehow at the end. “Take off your watch” changed the whole game for me and made me a permanent fan of the show.

    • JoeBuckley says:

      I love the way Yvonne’s voice breaks a little as she whispers is Chuck’s ear. More than just being heard only by Chuck, to me, it’s like she’s struggling to be understood correctly (by Chuck) and incorrectly (by Casey) at the same time.

      Along with Sarah’s fake smile, her looking back over her shoulder and her expressive face throughout, It’s one of the things that make the scene unforgettable.

      • lappers84 says:

        I agree with the earlier assessment that Sarah was clearly conflicted at that point, and of course it was brilliantly portrayed by Yvonne

  3. Bill says:

    This episode is, truly, epic. Thanks for the thoughtful write-ups.

    And Dave, I’m intrigued by your point about the show’s different incarnations. That’s a helpful framework, I think, with which to analyze it.

    • JoeBuckley says:

      Thanks, Bill.

      I was just thinking myself about the show’s different phases. We’re clearly ending the first and entering the second, but we’re not quite there yet.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I just really struggle with the period I don’t like so much, and there’s no doubt that S4 and S5 are very different in tone from S1 and S2. The later seasons are lighter; more romantic comedy, less angst. I like that a lot. But it does leave the middle incarnation very troublesome. Thinkling once called it the Black Box. Important things happened there, but for many of us it is too messy to want to look at.

      • lappers84 says:

        Dave one thing I think people seem to overlook in regards to season 3 is the developing friendship between Chuck and Casey – there were a few moments even in the hardest to watch episodes for us shippers that I thought was interesting and of course leading up to American Hero with Casey coming clean to Sarah about his red test – knowing he had his back the whole time.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah lappers, and I do remember discussing it at the time too. The misery arc was actually pretty good for both Casey and Morgan. I wish I could bring myself to really re-watch for a variety of reasons, but I think there’s about eight episodes I just can’t go through again.

      • lappers84 says:

        For the season 3 rewatch – I won’t be thinking about Charah (until 3×13 of course) or Sham or Channah or any of that, oh no. I’ll be looking at it from the view of the Chasey bromance.

  4. Brilliant,boys!!One of your best joint reviews of an outstanding episode.Not only a season and series defining moment when Sarah finally follows her heart,but also,I agree,the most dynamic ongoing fight scene with Sarah and Casey individually and finally together taking on Fulcrum.Wow indeed!!!

    • JoeBuckley says:

      Thanks, Yoza.
      I agree. But you know, this time through, I’m second guessing myself about the idea that Sarah was such an “Ice Queen”, and my use of the metaphor that Chuck cracked through the ice here, in this episode.

      We’ve seen plenty of instances where Sarah shows us that she bleeds red. The fountain scene in The Break-Up (as Bon-Iver’s Skinny Love plays in the background), her anguish at the end of Alma Mater (when Bryce’s roll became more understood), her reluctance to remove the wedding ring from her finger in Suburbs… Sarah was always affected by the hard decisions she had to make.

      But this is the first time she couldn’t both side with Chuck and still fulfill her duties. She couldn’t avoid the decision any longer – it had to be either the CIA or Chuck. Not both.

      Jumping ahead now, but even though she made her choice, Sarah got a brief reprieve from the consequences. Only a brief one, we shall see.

  5. Ruthiesw says:

    Hi all. I’m new to the blog, but really enjoying the re-watch. I discovered Chuck last year and it’s safe to say I’m a big fan. I’ve also been re-watching the episodes, though I’m a little ahead of you.

    There is a quote from this episode that strikes me every time I watch this episode. It’s said by Jill’s dad as he welcomes Uncle Bernie to the party (excuse the para-phrasing), “I was just saying that the key to a happy marriage is trust. Your partner needs to be the only person you can rely on, who will never betray you”.

    Now on the first watch, although I immediately thought of it relating more to Chuck and Sarah than I did Chuck and Jill, there was still some doubt over whether Sarah could be trusted and whether Sarah trusted Chuck. Of course, by the end of the episode, we learn that they really do trust one another and would never (or should that be could never?) betray each other.

    On re-watch, I consider the line a nice little Easter Egg hinting at what’s to come once Chuck and Sarah finally sort out the trust issues they’ve been wrestling with.

    • JoeBuckley says:

      Hi, Ruthie! A relatively new Chuck fan? Very cool! I really didn’t expect to see that until the movie comes out!

      [Um, that was more of a wish and a hope than a statement of fact, you understand… 😉 ]

      Oh yes, this part of Chuck&Sarah’s story is all about the trust. I hope you stick with us through the season 4 reviews (at least, the first 12), because that trust issue takes a long time to work itself out.

      • JoeBuckley says:

        Oops. I meant, S3 reviews, actually. Hackles are always raised when we discuss S3.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        You can bet I’ll be here for the season 3 reviews. Although it is at times depressing, I always had faith it was going to work out. Perhaps that was a luxury afforded to me from my latecoming, since I knew there was plenty of time for it to be fixed. Sure there’s plenty I wish had been different, but I still managed to enjoy the journey.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think S3 goes down easier for those coming late who can push through it quicker. I’m willing to consider I might not despise it so much if I’d been able to just power through. It also helps to know now that there are two full seasons after, that was a major source of anxiety back in early 2010!

    • atcDave says:

      Welcome to the site Ruthie! It’s awesome to have new people finding the show (and us!) even this late.
      The trust line is an interesting one. Although Chuck and Sarah do trust each other, I think to this point it’s always been under pressure because of Sarah’s fundamental conflict of interest. And of course it soon be badly fractured, with little trust evident for several months. But in the end, there’s no doubt they do trust each other most of all. Especially remarkable for Sarah since “trust” is not a thing that comes easily to her. Yet in the very last scene of the series, we see Sarah trusting Chuck once again. Chuck has changed and affected her to the very core, even in ways she’s unaware of.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        Thank you both for the warm welcome. The programme really took me by surprise when I stumbled upon it last summer. For me it captures everything you could want in a show (humour, action, drama, romance) in a way I hadn’t experienced since Buffy during my teen years.

        You may be able to tell I’m British from my spelling. Chuck isn’t well-known over here in the UK; very few of my friends have even heard of it, which probably explains my late entry to the fandom. My mission now is to convert as many friends as possible (many can expect the season one DVD for their birthday this year).

        Anyhow, I look forward to participating in more of these discussions as the re-watch continues.

      • Wilf says:

        Hi Ruthie, I’m also a British viewer. I first started watching Chuck when it was shown on one of the Freeview channels – Series 2, around 4 years ago. Since then only series 2 and 3 have, to my knowledge, ever been aired her – I think channel 5* just finished re-showing series 2 for the nth time! I’ve never before become really invested in any TV program at all in all my 60 years, but I just love Chuck and despite being unable to see it here on TV I found “other” ways of getting hold of the other series at the time. I even listen to some of my favourite episodes on audio only when working out – I think I must be a terrible nerd too 😉 This episode is one of my favourites, not least because, as you’ve all pointed out above, it’s the first time that Sarah has had to make such a positive choice for Chuck as opposed to the CIA.

      • atcDave says:

        Sadly, Chuck wasn’t hugely well known here in the states either. As I mentioned on another thread, I recently introduced it to a friend who had never heard of it, there seems to plenty of that going around…

  6. JoeBuckley says:

    A have a small notice for everyone. I’m not sure how to spread the word or how to make it worth everyone’s time to make it a habit and it’s off-topic here. But I just added some “news” to the “Chuck News” pages (see the top banner!) that Ernie was so generous to put up for us.

    Incoming Clue Brick! Check out the news for Ryan McPartlin!

  7. uplink2 says:

    Thanks again guys for a great writeup. I think what makes all of this work so well is that the dramatic tension, the trust issues, the choices and their consequences are all set up properly and effectively. They are all in character and you feel the flow of emotion naturally. It is the culmination of everything they have been pointing towards for now 33 episodes. Nothing seems OOC to us and nothing seems forced or manipulative. They got here and though Sarah was conflicted about her duty, she simply couldn’t betray him once he so simply told her that she was deserving of his trust, and he never should have questioned it. Once and for all she had decided that Chuck mattered to her more than the job. The story feels right because it is right.

    I have to say that what Chuck does in the car and what he asks her is one of the things that is most significant and important to these characters and their journey. That moment with Chuck putting Sarah first and making sure she was ok with her and their decision to run. That she was fully aware of what they were doing and its possible consequences for her and what she was giving up for him. That commitment to him and his concern for her in that scene is ultimately what makes the Prague scene so phoney and contrived. Here Sarah gives up everything because she just can’t get herself to betray him for the job. He matters most to her. He trusts her completely and he is sincerely concerned more for what this decision will do for her than for him. But none of that happens in Prague. In Pink Slip Sarah trusts him completely yet he betrays her. Then he acts like he could simply care less about the impact of virtually the exact same decision Sarah made once again on her. This monumental moment is probably the biggest reason Prague fails so miserably. And Dave is right, after this and the next episode it becomes a different show and it seems the rules we learn here don’t necessarily apply anymore.

    We have to really enjoy this moment because this is when the show was absolutely hitting on all cylinders. This is where we were given the right amount of dramatic build up to a perfect payoff. Chuck and Sarah earned this moment and it hit every note perfectly. Too bad that in a few weeks we will enter a long dark winter where it seems the piano was left out in the snow. Build up and pay off will be based on different set of rules for a different set of characters.

    • atcDave says:

      You know I agree with all of that Uplink. It currently looks like the weekly write ups can continue without me, so I’m going to opt out for a few months and focus on alternates and other things. I can’t go through it again, so I won’t. But I expect to come up with some very fun stuff to write about.

      • uplink2 says:

        You know I’ll be reading what you have to offer but I have to say I will miss your POV on things. You and I see a very similar show and I will miss that in the episode writeups. But I have to say I respect and honor your decision to not participate in something that would be obviously so uncomfortable for you. It was painful enough the first time why go through it again just for a better understanding why shooting a woman in the back makes you a good spy.

    • Bill says:

      “We have to really enjoy this moment because this is when the show was absolutely hitting on all cylinders. This is where we were given the right amount of dramatic build up to a perfect payoff. Chuck and Sarah earned this moment and it hit every note perfectly. Too bad that in a few weeks we will enter a long dark winter where it seems the piano was left out in the snow. Build up and pay off will be based on different set of rules for a different set of characters.”

      Very well put, Uplink. I think you just distilled why S2 remains my favorite of the series. The pay-offs are earned.

  8. garnet says:

    Yvonne gives us a great performance. I wonder how much she knew, at this point, about where things were going. Her performances all along were masterpieces of ambiguity. This is, perhaps her first real “action” and actions speak louder than words.

    As far as Sarah goes, I wonder what would have been going on in her head at the time, and just how close she came to betraying Chuck. It appears that one wrong word from Chuck and she would have gone through with the bunkering. What a nervous way to have a relationship. TPTB have repeatedly shown us a Sarah that can’t make up her mind, and perhaps that’s fair, because she has some hard decisions to make. What I find a bit annoying is HOW she manages to do this. The best example coming up in The Ring where, at the wedding she tells Chuck she is leaving????? Later it appears she had not really made up her mind. It is enough to give one whiplash.

    • uplink2 says:

      I think the conflict in betraying him or not is based much more on her conflict about whether or not she agrees with Casey. That bunkering is the bast way to keep him safe. I really don’t think it’s as much about duty vs love. It’s about is she willing to let Chuck hate her, lose his trust, all to keep him safe. In some ways that is a greater sacrifice but one she was prepared to make until she saw the unbridled trust in his eyes and she made her choice to sacrifice everything of herself for him. Both come from love and not duty IMO. She finally knew what to do about it.

      One of my favorite Yvonne moments of brilliance in this episode is how she looks at Jill with such hatred and disdain. She wasn’t willing to give her an inch until Chuck basically pleaded with her. Then she still refused until that phone rang. That info tipped the scales. But it was still an Yvonne Strahovski tour de force.

      • garnet says:

        I guess I’m really looking at several scenes from several episodes that play out the same way. Sarah almost leaves/bunkers Chuck/chooses someone else, and I think the one I’m most disappointed in, is in The Ring as stated above. In that case is is not a matter of making a personal sacrifice for Chuck’s happiness, it is a matter of crushing his hopes when he thinks the road has been cleared for them to be a couple (is she really THAT unable to take a step towards Chuck? And if she is balanced that finely between Chuck and Duty, just how deep are her feelings for him anyway). It is just that we have seen the fragility of the relationship between these two in a way designed to create as much angst as possible (just how much angst is possible will be seen in a few weeks). At some point it goes from being fun to being torture.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I don’t really care for that moment from Ring either. But I think the issue is that fearless Sarah Walker is terrified and incompetent when it comes to relationships. She reverts to be Agent Walker, and hurts Chuck yet again. To her credit, she regrets it immediately and gets her priorities straight not too much later.

      • uplink2 says:

        I see your point but I was trying to limit my comments to specific moments before the new much less satisfying Chuck series begins.

        I think much of Sarah’s dance between duty, love and protecting Chuck is easily explainable and fits the slow change and growth in her personality based on her upbringing and her prior career with the CIA. Chuck challenges everything she has known to be true for her to survive. But this scene is her moment of decision. There is no turning back and that waffling should have ended here. That’s why I think for a significant part of the audience, Chuck the original series ends with “It is real.” I know this will be discussed next week but does anybody really believe that Chuck and Sarah didn’t go back to her hotel room after the rehearsal dinner? It is what 99.999999999 % of the couples in that situation would have done considering what happened in Barstow and how they clearly felt about each other. It was a moment they had earned and there was nothing holding them back except the storytellers.

        The new and frankly far less satisfying or well written new series of Chuck begins in Ring. Now that is a very good episode but its where the manipulation really begins that gets so much worse in Pink Slip. You are right it all goes from being fun and believable into contrivance and torture.

        Thank god we got a third incarnation of the series that I love but objectively overall though very entertaining it isn’t as strong a series as we see culminate here and in next weeks episode.

      • JoeBuckley says:

        That’s an awfully definitive statement, Uplink. I challenge your 99.999999999 % number!

        Here’s a concept. C&S are not ordinary. There’s no story in that, and it’s boring to boot. But they are not so extraordinary as to be unrecognizable, at least, not to me. I too see that “…everything is changed. Everything.” And I’m not uncomfortable being surprised (or even disappointed) about how they play the new hand they’ve been dealt. In fact, since they are different too, I’m not even surprised that I’m surprised!

        S3.0 is all about the downside of their new world. In fact, Sarah grows adamant that she doesn’t like the new Chuck either. (And btw, neither does he, but I’m getting ahead of myself, again). Sure it’s painful to watch at times – but it’s a very familiar and even real experience for a lot of people too, more than the 0.0000000001% left by your count, I’m sure.

        I’m not sure that the pain is the only way to get to The Honeymooners, but it may be the best way for these characters.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The great Rehersal Dinner debate, yes… I’ll give it a shot. Remember that Operation Bartowski wasn’t officially shut down and Chuck dismissed (with a very nice pay packet) until the day of the wedding, so technically Sarah was still Chuck’s handler and the surveillance was probably still up. Also I could see being far too involved in wedding prep and the sense that they’d have time after the wedding and a bit of trepidation about where things were heading and how fast as reasons they might continue to be friends with great potential for one more night. Given that it is established canon that Sarah is perpetually unable to express her feelings and Chuck perpetually afraid of pushing her too far and the inevitable push-back I could see a very awkward parting at the end of the night where each is waiting for the other to make the next move and neither taking the initiative as very in character. Think of their parting scene in the OO at the end of Angel de la Muerte as a possible template.

      • Shepherd of Lost Sheep says:

        But Joe,

        The characters get there at the total expense of their relationship. Not because of a deepening of it. The characters MAY have grown, but the relationship didn’t.

      • JoeBuckley says:

        Certainly not in a straight line, Shep! The relationship took a definite and large zig-zag downward.

        That was my point. The most boring thing imaginable would be a straight line growth in their relationship from here. That would indeed be the end of the show!

        Well, maybe. The alternative is a whole new one, which was pretty much the complaint, right?

      • atcDave says:

        There’s a lot of things that could have happened to add drama for the relationship without completely destroying it and making the characters look like sleazoids. It was never an issue of “only one way to go”; it was an issue of choosing one of the worst possible ways to go (its like saying there are many paths on a journey… If I drive from Michigan to California I would have many routing options. But if I go through Maryland I’ve chosen very poorly!)
        And making a completely new show of it isn’t an all bad thing either, I would say that’s virtually what S4 did and I couldn’t be happier about it. Its making an all new show that did away with everything I actually LIKED about the old one that was a problem.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’ll hold off on the rehearsal dinner debate till next week. I still believe it’s the beginning of the manipulation but it didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as what was too follow. I even wrote a possible explanation in LL&L that might have worked to explain the CB.

        Joe, a zigzag journey through spy drama would have been great but that’s not what we got. It was a direct course back the the PLI WTWT well for nothing gained and it clouds so much of the little spy journey they did tell that it is almost impossible to see. Does anyone really have any idea what the Ring was or what their threat actually was? There were times when the version of the show we got should have been called Shaw and not Chuck as he has more screen time with Sarah than anyone else. That show I would have turned off the first week it aired.

      • Shepherd of Lost Sheep says:

        It’s not the zig zag downwards I have issue with (OK I do but that’s for another day). It’s the step change upwards that actually harms the relationship and shows us now shallower characters.
        Similar to what BAW said last week, the characters were more believable together prior to the zig zagging, then they ever were after it.

      • Wilf says:

        I never understood why they couldn’t have carried on evolving their (positive) relationship under cover because of the fear that exposure would result in Sarah being immediately reassigned. That could have been drawn out for a long time without getting boring and there could have been many very interesting zigzags. This scenario has been explored in a number of FFs. However such a strategy, whilst perhaps preferable to shippers, would not have put the characters (and us) through the levels of angst the writers presumably were keen to scale.

      • atcDave says:

        Wilf you know that’s exactly what I expected and wanted to see. I think the bottom line is they made an entertainment decision that turned out to be a very bad one. It certainly wasn’t anything about honest story telling, or even satisfying any fans. It was the cynical manipulation of stringing viewers along. “Keep them wanting more” sort of thinking and an old show biz mantra. The problem is, at some point they need to deliver, and for a growing number of us that time had already come and gone when S3 started.

      • Wilf says:

        Well, obviously there are many in which to string viewers along (to paraphrase Chuck from Coup d’Etat). One way I’d have liked, the one we got I didn’t but, hey, at least that more or less ended with Other Guy and Honeymooners … it could have been worse 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree with that Wilf. I’ll always be glad we DID eventually get the show I was waiting for.

      • JoeBuckley says:

        Ooofff! Out voted!

        Yeah, me too. I was really speaking more out of frustration in that last comment upthread. Dave is right; it’s not an either-or proposition, and we certainly all can imagine something that would make us happier.

        And if we’re energetic, passionate and write well, maybe it’ll make others happy too. I’m not quite willing to concede that “happy” was ever the point, even if I understand its importance. Happy is not always the same as “better,” after all.

        My other point, which seems to be a bit misunderstood (my fault) was a smash-up of two ideas. 1) As a married couple, C&S are happy for 11 episodes of S5. That’s all we get, because “And they lived happily ever after” is the end that occurred in S4. 2) It wasn’t enough, and it’s all the story could be – no more. I’m still glad that it didn’t end in Barstow or in the French villa or in the Hospital waiting area with floor polishers providing the background music. But it could have.

    • Wilf says:

      I think that she was probably close to betraying Chuck, to do what the CIA asked of her, albeit rationalised ‘to keep him safe’. It was surely Chuck’s saying “I owe you an apology … I was beginning to think that I couldn’t trust you … but not you, you’ve always looked out for me …” that shocked her into action the other way.

    • JoeBuckley says:

      That’s a great description – Uplink & Wilf! My own take is that Sarah’s struggling with the choice between saving Chuck’s life and saving the life Chuck wants to live. On top of that, she’s being pushed and pulled by her sense of duty, Casey and Beckman, and not least of all, her own changing notions about the life she wants to lead. Sarah’s more than confused. She’s spinning.

      I keep coming back to the scene in Crown Vic. I think that was the first time Sarah found words to express the idea that there was life outside the CIA:

      Casey: Bang up job, Walker. And I’m gonna give you one last chance to come clean. Did you or did you not compromise yourself with the Intersect?

      Sarah: Do you ever just want to have a normal life? – have a family? Children?

      Casey: The choice we made to protect something bigger than ourselves is the right choice, hard as that is for you to remember sometimes.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, as I said up top, I don’t think Sarah came close at all to betraying Chuck. And I don’t think there’s any chance she would have in the situation we saw (only if she was really convinced his life depended on it, and she wasn’t). She tried to convince herself to do her duty, but it wasn’t enough. Soon as Chuck started talking she caved. And I think that’s how it always would be, Chuck has had her number for a long time, she will not betray him.

      Garnet does bring up a good question about what they knew about the story ahead. Its hard to know for sure, but I strongly suspect Yvonne knew nothing. In an interview released the week of the S2 season finale she commented on how much she wanted to do another season to see what happens as Chuck and Sarah get to know each other better. That doesn’t sound much like what really lay ahead, I’m guessing she had no clue. Interviews at about the same time with Schwedak look like they had a pretty good idea what they would do next. And after Comic Con 2009, Yvonne’s and Zach’s interviews started sounding a lot more like what Schwedak were saying. So I’m thinking that’s when everyone was fully briefed.

  9. lappers84 says:

    I always loved (Pre Beard) how at odd times throughout an episode Morgan would bring up a Buy More problem with Chuck and it magically turned out to be something that would significantly turn the spy story around or things he would say would directly correlate to something Chuck was feeling. Gives that whole “it’s a twin thing” line in Phase Three some perspective.

    • JoeBuckley says:

      Hum! Rick Castle always gets that same light-bulb-over-the-head moment with his mother and/or his daughter too. 😉 It’s a clever device (when not used to excess, of course).

  10. lappers84 says:

    Although in the case of this episode Chucks advice didn’t turn out quite so well for Morgan. Nothing tends to go well when you trust Emmett Milbarge (RIP)

  11. resaw says:

    Dave writes, “Beckman is often reduced to mere plot device, and here we see it again. After just learning a couple weeks ago that Agent Walker has feelings for Chuck that can be ‘an asset to the Asset’ she now decides the same agent is a good candidate to lure Chuck into possibly permanent captivity.” Beckman is like the typical CEO. She thinks of large-scale strategies and tactics to achieve the goals of her organization and her staff are tools to accomplish those goals. Sarah and Casey will do what they are told as agents of the organization she runs. The problem is that Chuck, despite his protestations of having done whatever has been asked of him, is not a company man. He is aware of the large scale, but is concerned about the smaller scale: finding his father, helping his sister have the wedding she deserves, loving Sarah.

    As for Sarah’s lie to Chuck about finding his father, I’m surprised she went as far as she did. It appeared to me that she was going to obey the order, as much as she disliked doing so. Up until now, I think that in most ways, she could justify following orders as ultimately being for Chuck’s protection. This order was in fundamental conflict with what was best for Chuck.

    Yes, Joe, there is lightweight stuff going on in this show as you very ably describe it. But what got to me this time around was the amount of death and mayhem that occurred here. In the previous episode, Chuck breaks into Roark Industries/Instruments (Did anyone clarify that inconsistency? I was on vacation last week and did not follow the posts very closely.) and noted that Chuck continues to use tranq darts instead of bullets. He remains unwilling to kill and remember, he was horrified about the way that Sarah killed the Fulcrum agent in Santa Claus; yet, here, Bernie dies in front of him, Bergey slips out of his hand and dies, and multiple Fulcrum people are dead at the hands Sarah and Casey. Granted, it is set up as a situation of kill or be killed, but even so, the killing is presented as thrilling, even humorous, rather than traumatic. I suppose I am expecting too much from an often lightweight comedy series.

    Regarding the engagement announcement at Jill’s family home: I think that the difficulty of the situation was well portrayed by Chuck and Jill. It was interesting to me to see how, when Jill’s dad was giving his speech, the camera cut back to Sarah a couple of times. It’s not completely clear to me what that is to suggest, but it feels to me like Sarah could be thinking about the potential for her own wedding, what her dad might say, whether he might even have anything to do with her marriage, whether she feels that she should be in the middle of that situation, and not Jill, and that it should be for real, not for the purpose of a mission. There’s a lot to unpack in Sarah’s enigmatic expression.

    There are some interesting choices of words at the Fulcrum base: “Auditing” which brings to mind Scientology and concerns about cult-like control over individuals; and “comrades” which recalls a term often used among communists, at least in popular fiction. We’re not exactly being presented with a neutral picture of Fulcrum here.

    Thanks for the review guys. This was truly a great episode.

    • Ruthiesw says:

      Interesting point about the way the camera keeps cutting away to Sarah while the engagement toast is going on. I agree that here she is imagining what it would be like if it were her and Chuck. I think she’s come on a journey in her understanding of what a relationship with Chuck could be like:

      In Truth, she first understands Chuck’s desire for something real. She witnesses his attraction for someone else and looks on hopelessly as he pursues something with Lou that could have been with her, if not for having to maintain a strict handler/asset relationship. She reveals a curiosity about ‘a normal life’ in her question to Casey; she’s certainly intrigued about what life would be like if she could be honest with Chuck about her feelings, but it stills seems foreign to Agent Walker.

      The Jill arc reveals the way in which Chuck is able to balance his duty to his country with a serious relationship. Though he is exploring this in all the wrong places, I like to think Sarah starts to see how they might be able to work together to save the day AND have a romantic relationship.

      Suburbs gives Sarah a glimpse of that normal life she asked Casey about. She can picture now exactly what it could be like with Chuck when it’s just the two of them with no audience to fake (both Ellie et al. into thinking they’re in a relationship or Casey/the Government that there are no feelings there).

      By First Kill, I think she’s sold on being with Chuck. She doesn’t know if there will ever be a way for them, but she knows it is something that would make her happy. So when Chuck has to fake his engagement to Jill, I think she is naturally imagining herself in Jill’s position. Every word uttered by Jill’s dad could just as easily apply to Sarah and Chuck: ‘it hasn’t always been easy… but when I saw the way they looked at each other, I just knew they were meant to be’, etc. In fact those words sound like something a viewer would say about Chuck and Sarah. She looks uncomfortable, which I attribute to the conflict between a life with Chuck that she is able to imagine more vividly than ever before, and her duty/orders. At the end of the episode this conflict comes to a head and Sarah is finally forced to make a decision. And thank god she chose Chuck!

      Of course, every episode in between plays a part in getting Sarah to this point, but those are the ones that stand out for me, where Chuck is able to demonstrate what a relationship means to him. He has taken the notion of a real, serious relationship from an abstract concept to a very real possibility within Sarah’s grasp. I think that helps her to make her decision at the end of First Kill, even if it is not her motivation for it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Great analysis Ruthie and I agree with almost everything you said. Also welcome to the blog. It’s always great to hear new voices especially when they write so well and can articulate their points as clearly and coherently as you do. Glad to have you with us.

        I do agree that what you list here are all major points in Sarah’s evolution. I think there are other points also as significant like Lethal Weapon and the temptation of Cole Barker that suddenly isn’t as attractive as it once would have been and even unfulfilled her relationship with Chuck mattered more to her. As was pointed out when that arc aired in many ways it is the start of what we see culminated here in First Kill and next week with Colonel.

        I will be very curious to hear your POV as we head into the misery arc. I like Dave have found that the reaction of those that speed through it on DVD for their first viewing have a somewhat different view. That the very bitter negative emotional reaction that many of us had and still have doesn’t have the time to fester and grow if you can simply hit “play next episode”. That the week or weeks of after thought and analysis don’t get to sharpen those feelings more pointedly. I will be very curious to see your POV if you are kind enough to share it with us.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with most of that Ruthie, although I think there is also a huge dose of jealousy in Sarah’s reaction to the “Chill” engagement. Especially with some of the comments Jill’s dad makes, I think she wonders if she even has a chance of getting Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’ll just add two observations, not to negate Sarah’s jealousy at a connection she can only envy or longing for something she may never get.

        Chuck very clearly undertook this mission to get his dad back “by any means necessary”. A phrase that has previously disturbed Chuck, especially when it came to innocent bystanders, like Jill’s family.

        Second, Chuck’s offer of a deal to Jill, when he knew he was only telling her what she wanted to hear is something we’ve never seen from Chuck.

        I think both are weighing on Sarah, and hearing Chuck play a part he knows will come crashing down on a family seeing their daughter for the last time doesn’t help, especially with Casey providing commentary.

        As an addendum, consider. “You knew you were right for each other, and you never let anything get in your way.”

        Sarah has a lot to react to in those cuts.

        Oh, and since I haven’t said it for the record yet, great to have you here Ruthie.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        Thanks for the welcome Uplink and Ernie. The misery arc will be an interesting one to re-watch since my initial viewing of 3.01-3.13 took place on one day (what can I say? It was a quiet bank holiday weekend for me). I stayed up until the early hours pressing on for a resolution I felt happy with. I finally took myself off to bed at about 4am after watching Honeymooners – I don’t know what I would have done if they had dragged it out longer! I recall the anxiety I felt during that arc and can only imagine how that must have been amplified when stretched over months rather than hours. No wonder it hits a sour note with so many fans…

        Ernie, good point about Sarah reacting to Chuck’s commitment to find his father ‘by any means necessary’. It certainly makes sense in light of what we know of her concerns about Chuck’s further entanglement in the spy life in early season 3. I wonder whether this was intentional and the writers/Schwartz/Fedak already knew they were going to explore this theme or whether it’s just a new way of interpretting with hindsight.

        Thank you everyone for keeping up the discussion around Chuck through this re-watch. One downside of watching on DVD is that you miss out on the community aspect: the opportunity to debate multiple meanings or simply express how awesome (or not-awesome) an episode was. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed catching up with the re-watch posts and gaining alternative views on the way the series played out. I’m glad the community is still going strong and I’m able to get involved even after the show’s conclusion.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m pretty jealous about you being able to watch that way Ruthie, sounds like a lot of fun. You know we not only had to wait a week each time, but the Olympics were on NBC right after Mask, so we had a three week break at a very bad time.

        Although I know Ernie won’t agree, it was a fun time in a way for fans. We were pretty active here with all the frustration and outrage (our busiest period by far, peaking at over 5000 hits a day!) and I think the commiseration was fun.
        Of course the down side is it really drove a wedge between fans who enjoyed different parts of the show. I think there was a unity/common purpose sort of feeling through and after S2; the misery arc ended brought a schism that never completely healed.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave I’d also add that the 8 month wait from Ring to Pink Slip added to the frustration as well. Now as I’ve said I had no idea what was going on in in the online Chuck community as I went to ChuckTV for the first time in early May of 2010. I didn’t know that the in many ways the dye was cast for a negative reaction. But I will say for me when I saw the forced, manipulative relationship reset and the unlikable, OOC version of Chuck that we got from that very anticipated return, I wasn’t happy at all. So I can only imagine what it was like for those that were aware it was coming.

        But I will say I really do enjoy going back and rereading those times to see how folks opinion evolved and to see how folks were seeing the exact same thing I was. In Ruth’s case of sitting through all of that in 1 sitting must have been agonizing, but a very different one than watching it play our over months.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink it was Comic Con 2009 (July) when we first had a clue that many of us might not like the coming season so much, but I remember trying to stay optimistic, really even into the season itself trying to find ways I still might like it. My optimism may have been part of why the disappointment was so bitter. But even that likely would have played out very differently if I’d watched it all through quickly with no prelude. Although I don’t believe there’s any scenario where I would have liked most of that arc, but I might have been less angry about it.

        Oh unfortunately, the real time reaction to that Comic Con happened over at the NBC forums. This site was formed a couple months after. I believe those old threads are no longer available. Too bad, that might have been a hoot to relive all the disappointment, anger and outrage…

      • uplink2 says:

        It’s too bad as much of that stuff is deleted now. The infamous Ali Adler video is now gone. I’d love to know the story behind that. Was she told to do it to calm the already negative reaction that was developing? Did she do it because she was in the process of writing Fake Name and knew so many fans who looked to her to make Chuck and Sarah get to a better place would feel betrayed by it? I don’t know. But it’s sad that much of the official content is being purged and the study in history we have archived here and at ChuckTV may end up being our only way to relive things.

        In many ways as much as I’d like a movie, I’d also like to see a book written about the making of the show. What happened in that writers room and what was their reasoning for some of the baffling decisions they made. I’m fascinated by the process and by the PR effort to manage public reaction and do damage control. I don’t at all believe that the post Mask interviews were done because of the spontaneous reactions to the episode. Citing one commenter on Sepinwall’s blog about getting everyone to turn off the show until Chuck and Sarah were together wasn’t the cause for that IMO. It was planned as they already knew it wasn’t being received well and that they had to do damage control because it was only going to get worse with the 3 week break. But Schwartz’s arrogance and Fedak’s cluelessness made things worse in some ways.

        But I also find it fascinating with how it is spoken of now by them. When they talk of Shaw it always starts with he was a good villain. They never really discuss what went wrong before he was one. I rewatched the 2010 Comicon comments and that coupled with Fedak’s stumble in the Mo Ryan interview at the time of Other Guy was as close as we will ever get to them admitting they screwed up.

      • Robert says:

        You mean that part, Uplink?

        Mo Ryan: I know, it gets deep. I have to be really honest with you, I found Shaw to be stiff and cold and I found that as the season went on, the character just dragged down the parts of the show that he was in. And I guess the question is, was it the intention to make him unlikeable? And if so, how could Sarah fall for him?

        Chris Fedak: The intention wasn’t to make … [pause] To me, Shaw is the epitome of a classic spy. You know, the kind of broad-shouldered hero/spy…

        I agree with you there; I don’t think TPTB really thought that Shaw wouldn’t work, but at least they really should’ve rethought his role with Team B.

      • atcDave says:

        Makes me laugh every time…

      • uplink2 says:

        Yep, that’s the one. He started actually answering the question but then the little PR spin doctor got in his head and he stopped himself.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m going to ask a question of the assembled blog managers. During the break between Ring and Pink Slip is it appropriate to discuss the whole PR disaster they created at Comicon and afterwards with the whole trapezoid comments, the Ali Adler video etc? I think it could be fascinating in many ways to analyze both the creative decisions for the story they chose and how they almost doomed themselves before it even began by how they promoted it.

        I’ve been reading some of it lately and someone should teach a class on how to fracture a fanbase and as a wise man told me make a story almost impossible to sell before you even air it and use the pre-season 3 of Chuck as the textbook..

      • Ernie Davis says:

        You guys are hopeless.

      • atcDave says:

        How about I put up a special post the same week Ring goes up to discuss the between season stuff. Although I see two issues worthy of comment, the save the show campaign, and the fan reaction after Comic Con. Maybe separate posts? One issue is exciting and inspiring, the other downright depressing.

        We will have to do some thinking about it.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m good with that Dave. I really want to try and respect the sites guidelines but TBH those stories I find much more interesting than forcing myself to try and find something interesting and positive in those god awful episodes. My opinion won’t change and if anything I’ll probably hate them even more. But from a TV fan and somewhat professional interest, an Inside Baseball discussion of the writing and marketing of this show I would find fascinating. I can’t see much they did right in that area that season but I’d love to hear other folks views on that over reading how punching a guy who is tied to a chair makes someone “the epitome of a classic spy. You know, the kind of broad-shouldered hero…”

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink that’s part of why I will run some separate/parallel posts. I just can’t do a re-watch or read another defense of that arc. So rather than get all hot and bothered by those who do want to, I’ll run an alternate discussion.
        Now I try to be an upbeat guy, and I would prefer a positive spin like; what we would have liked to see to accomplish the same ends. But it is inevitable the discussion will occasionally go negative, and I won’t try to reign that in. EXCEPT; we will not get personal or nasty about anyone involved. We will try to keep this a respectful, even if impassioned discussion.

        I will put up more specific guidelines when I start putting up the posts.

      • joe says:

        Sheesh.

        Uplink, Dave is right. We’ll be discussing this among ourselves. So, I’m not going to say anything like “no” or “definitely not” right now. Fact of the matter is, I rather like Dave’s idea of a post about the break as we remember it, including the anxiety caused by the comments at ComicCon and the reaction to Ali Alder’s video (not to mention, its motivation).

        But really? Ernie has it right too. You’re hopeless. “Disaster”, “doomed”, “how to fracture a fanbase”, “make a story almost impossible to sell” and our own personalize disparaging term, “trapezoid”? Those are the words you chose. You’re not exactly out for a discussion, are you?

        I do recognize you need a place to vent, though, which I usually take to mean “express yourself.” Three years ago this spring, summer and fall, I would have recommended joining another discussion that was going on at another blog, specializing at being smarter than your average Fedak uh, viewer. It would have been right up this particular alley; you would have loved it there. We’ve just never been that kind of place.

        Look. There’s a big difference between discussing how you felt back then, how things that happened (about the show) affected you and your thoughts on the characters and the episodes – even if they were negative – and just declaring that all good in the world was destroyed, forever and flowers will not bloom nor will the sun shine ever again! – which is what your word choice makes it sound like you’re going to say.

        I’d feel a whole lot better about spending my time and everyone else’s energy on such a post if you could make me understand that you understand the difference. There is a difference, after all, between critique and criticism, and between criticism and destruction. I can’t let you tear down the discussion, you know.

      • How is the season three rewatch going to be any different than every other week? By Chuckwin’s Law, we’ll end up talking about season three as we do after every episode.

        While I loved the ending of this episode, I really didn’t like the first 90%. Problem 1: The plan might have been the third worst (well after First Class and Fear of Death). Simply:
        – Go to Jill’s parents. No need to involve Jill.
        – Explain that they are known associates of two known terrorists.
        – Threaten them with the Patriot Act so they call Uncle Bernie with the cover story. Jill stays in prison.
        – Casey waits inside there house with a gun to capture Uncle Bernie.
        – Rescue Chuck’s dad in transit.
        – As a reward for cooperating, let Jill’s parents visit her once a year. If they reveal what they know, convict them of treason.

        Problem 2: Chuck gave Jill a ring. Just think if Sarah did something like that for Bryce because she wanted to, not because she was scared to find out what her life was like without the CIA. At least the ear rings in Living Dead were done in a funny way. Jill might still have the ring.

        Problem 3: This episode opened the question about kills in a way that something like the red test had to be addressed in S3. I actually didn’t mind how it was handled in Final Exam because at least the open story line wasn’t left open.

        But hey, I think it’s great that so many people seemed to like an episode featuring an OLI. Like many episodes in S3, I think it shows how the end of the episode can color the opinion of the whole episode.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt the end is the single biggest issue in how I see an episode. I remember saying that several times during S3; “fun episode until the last five minutes…” Although a few episodes did bother me in spite of a favorable end (Curse comes to mind), generally I think its largely a matter of what its leading up to. And as far as PLI episodes go, I also had mostly good comments about Fat Lady, and really like Graviton and Lethal Weapon. But yes, it is ordinarily a big strike against.

        I’m a little surprised you’re the one sweating the details this time Jeff, normally you leave that to others. I figure its a comedy first and foremost, as long as I don’t find the behavior of the leads offensively bad I don’t normally care if the mission makes much sense or not. Really, they rarely did on Chuck.

        And how exactly is Casey teasing Chuck about killing someone like a government ordered assassination? I don’t see any similarity.

        And I think the S3 discussion may be a lot different, I don’t intend to participate.

      • Wilf says:

        Hey folks, just as so much of the discussion here while re-watching Season 2, has been about Season 3 and how /good/bad/indifferent/bad/bad/bad it was, why don’t we do something similar whilst re-watching Season 3 … that is, have long discussions about Season 4 (-;

      • atcDave says:

        I’d say that’s a great idea Wilf, except you know, there’s been an anti-S4 contingent around here too. I’d hate to stir up trouble!

      • Wilf says:

        … Season 5, then? Oh, maybe not … could exclude the last 2.5 episodes (;

      • atcDave says:

        Maybe just tie everything back to S2?

        Seriously, I think most folks who didn’t like the last two seasons have long since moved on. But many of us didn’t like S3 are still here; since we had a later renaissance its easier to remain enthused over-all. But that dark age remains troubling to us!

      • uplink2 says:

        TBH Joe, and you know I love ya, I think you are being a little too sensitive here. What I was asking Dave and all of you folks really is could we have a separate area to discuss the kind of Inside Baseball stuff so that it won’t clog up the episodes threads. So I thought that was being positive and helpful to the blog. Let’s face it the number of us all still here is small really so I think it could be helpful for those that want to discuss the episodes themselves. But others like me that have no interest in rewatching that season or commenting in threads that try to justify and analyze something I so viscerally dislike hopefully would allow us to talk about some of those things we do find interesting from that period. Like the save the show campaign or the fan reaction to what I don’t think anyone could challenge was a PR blunder on Schwartz’s part.

        The other thing is I don’t see where anything I said was inaccurate. The fracturing of the fanbase began with that comment at Comicon and this very discussion is an example that it will never fully heal. Plus the comment about being able to sell the story I believe is completely accurate as well. The evidence is quite clear on that and the blame for it shouldn’t be placed at the feet of the fans. It’s their job to sell us on the fact that their story worked and they didn’t. Again I didn’t know anything about it but the story still failed for me. I would love to understand what that experience was like for folks who did know about it.

        I am happy that some find this story worth discussing and that there was merit in it to them. I don’t. But there are a number of aspects of things that happened then I do think are worth discussing for me. But someone trying to justify how shooting a woman in the back makes you a great spy, or blowing up the most important piece of Government intelligence to protect some stupid disks is the right decision isn’t an argument I want to let myself become involved with because no minds will ever be changed after 3 years. And that’s not even venturing into the things I hate the most.

        So I guess like Dave I will probably choose not to participate in episode discussions about an arc I hate. But I’d like to have a place to discuss other things like Dave suggested. The myriads of story choices and casting choices that could have kept the fanbase more united but still added to the drama. How TPTB responded to a failing and divisive story choice and execution. And yes the almost pleading fan reaction saying there was no way they would ever do such and such and that this would be the worst possible explanation and it ends up being exactly that. That kind of study of something that became so important in my life I’d like the chance to continue. But I don’t want it to turn into some of the very bitter and many times personal attacks that I have read elsewhere. I don’t want it to get to where ‘moderators’ become almost drill sergeants banning folks and editing or deleting comments. But the fact that that kind of thing did happen is proof of the very fracturing that began at Comicon because of the statement of the EP and chief showrunner.

        As far as the other blog goes, I did go there for a bit but found the arrogance of its members and owner offensive at times and I left. I went to the big site for fans and found that one to be far too restrictive about any negative comments about the story choices etc. That its almost fanboy managers were far too worried about access than to let some real deep intelligent disagreements be flushed out. But that was after most of the really vocal critics were banned. So I came and settled here as it seemed to be somewhere in the middle.

        So if you guys choose to limit the discussion to the episodes only, which certainly is your right then I’ll probably just have to say goodbye for a while and hopefully come back in 14 weeks.

      • Wilf says:

        Actually, strongly limiting discussion to the episodes themselves would be good from my perspective since, firstly, I didn’t hate the “Misery Arc” (although I really disliked it) and, secondly, I’d be really keen to find more positive aspects of them that I haven’t seen or thought of before. In other words, I’m looking for reasons *not* to hate Season 3.0

      • joe says:

        The great S3 discussion continues!

        Jeff, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with S3 yet! I’m quite aware that it’s going to fall mostly in my hands, and I’m really afraid that we won’t have many readers left when I’m done.

        There’s two reasons for that. I’m one of those that finds a lot to enjoy in S3. Not that it’s perfect, mind you – far from it. But – and this is something that I can’t address in an episode review – overall, the season struck me as too long, not in weeks, but in hanging on to only a couple of concepts and overdoing it. And that’s a problem for me, because when I think that way, the next question is “which episodes do we remove?” – and I can’t think of more than 1 that I could do without. (Really!) I’m going to be annoying to someone everyone!

        The second reason is that if I stick to a 1 a week schedule (which I’m comfortable with), then it’ll go on forever. I’m thinking seriously of a two episode a week schedule, (heh! Monday and Friday to celebrate the scheduling change that came for S5!), but I’m worried about the time. We’ll see.

        And on top of all that, when you get right down to it, Uplink is right. There’s a lot to discuss that’s completely outside the episode reviews – that entire summer after S2, the interviews, the fan reaction to the PLIs, the network machinations – all sorts of things that are interesting to everyone – including me, Uplink!

        Honestly, some of that is even MORE interesting than what when on in the episodes. I understand that. But even there, I have a particular problem as one of the ring-leaders here. I DON’T KNOW MUCH! I wasn’t privy to anything you guys haven’t had access to, so generally I don’t have anything to add when it comes to talking about Schwartz or Fedak or even the fan reaction. I can play historian a little on the net, but I will never know why certain decisions were made. I’ll never be in a position to criticize them.

        Uplink, I appreciate your comment this morning, and perhaps I did misinterpret your request for a separate discussion. The idea raises many questions, though.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks for that Joe and I do really appreciate the fact that this is all important to you. That you aren’t dismissive or as hard assed as some other sites were. I await your decision and will abide by it.

      • Dave: “I’m a little surprised you’re the one sweating the details this time Jeff, normally you leave that to others.”

        You’re right, Dave. Honestly, I really don’t mind First Kill that much. After all, it’s Chuck. I like probably 85 episodes better than other TV shows and the others are still on par (except for maybe First Class). I like First Kill significantly less than the episodes around it, but it’s still very enjoyable. For me, it’s insertion the middle of the Predator->Ring arc makes that run of episodes less than Marlin->Cougars, even though I like Colonel and Ring more.

        The episode just had many ideas and themes in common with some of the most hated parts of season 3 and even 4. First Class, Final Exam, and FoD were generally not liked because they didn’t end well. First Kill’s ending was so good I think it skews an objective view of the episode. While I was watching it the first time, I didn’t like what was happening. Jill didn’t need to be back, just like many said Shaw didn’t need to be back in Santa Suit. On rewatch, it’s flaws aren’t that important because I know Chuck and Sarah are going to run away together.

  12. ChuckFanForever says:

    Speaking of Jordana Brewster, I always though she looked familiar, and that’s because she was Paul Walker’s (no relation to Sarah) love interest in Fast and the Furious!

  13. resaw says:

    Joe, in response to your anticipation of what might come of the S3 re-watches, let me say that I found S3 very enjoyable, and will likely be reiterating that opinion on a weekly basis (personally, re-watching them on a two-a-week basis would be too rapid for me — I have a hard enough time keeping up to a weekly schedule). I remember watching the first few episodes of S4, waiting and hoping for the excitement and tension of S3 to pick up again. Although there certainly were outstanding episodes, and I remained a faithful watcher to the very end of the series, it was never the same….

    • joe says:

      When I look at the list of S3 episodes, Resaw, I honestly say that I enjoyed (almost) every one of them. If you were to ask me which episodes I would drop from S3, I couldn’t point you to one. To me they are all important to the story.

      Surprisingly, I can’t say the same about S4 and especially S5. As much as I enjoyed them, both seasons have episodes that I don’t find as memorable or as integral.

      Of course, most fans like S3.1 (the last 6), S4 is huge (so it has plenty of great episodes and moments) and S5 has a different job entirely – to take us to the ending.

      • Zsjaer says:

        S3 destroyed all the rest. Simple as that. We had two good, special seasons.

      • joe says:

        Hit and run comment, Z? There’s plenty of people who think differently and who are willing to explain why if you give ’em half a chance.

        We’re pretty good at that here – we really prefer dialog to monologue.

      • atcDave says:

        Well Z, I would agree S3 diminished the rest, but destroyed is kind of a strong term!

        We will have S3 alternate discussions going starting on Tuesdays after the regular weekly post, so stop buy. That’s where the S3 grumpy crowd will be, hosted by me!

  14. Zsjaer says:

    Castle vs Chuck… What Chuck should have been.
    Castle is my Chuck substitute 🙂

    • joe says:

      Funny you should say that, Z. I actually started a “Chuck vs. Castle” post, but got a bit stuck after “They’re so similar!”

      By the way, did you notice that Rick’s father’s big nemesis was named Volkov? 😉

      • atcDave says:

        My wife and I laughed hard at the Volkoff connection. I am so torn on if its on purpose. I think it can’t be… But how can it not be? Very funny.

        For me, the biggest difference is just that I never really relate to Rick. I mean I like him a lot and I love the show. But Rick Castle is completely different from me, well apart from the grown man who likes playing with toys part.
        Early on, I saw Chuck as someone I could completely relate to. He was someone I either thought I was, or hoped I was. In time that changed some, I didn’t relate to Chuck in quite the same way from S3 on. But in some ways (and often in very frustrating ways) the connection remained to the end.
        So I sort of agree Castle is a good Chuck substitute, it certainly fills exactly the same niche as entertainment goes. But my investment level will likely always be just a bit lower.

      • joe says:

        I laughed too!

        It’s funny – I don’t think I relate to Chuck in the way they intended. I know him (I think), mostly because I used to be a lot like that.

        But I definitely related like he was a son – and to Sarah like she was a daughter (okay, daughter-in-law!) All of which means I really related to Stephen!

        Rick is all around fun. He’s much more successful than I’ll ever be, and much more intelligent. I do relate to the boyish charm and irreverent attitude, but I can’t get away with it. I don’t relate to the playboy at all!

        Of course, those last things are exactly what exasperates Kate too. She started off as exactly the stick-in-the-mud type that never attracted me, just like Rick started off as the wise-ass playboy that was never in my list of friends. Loved the way they changed each other, though, without really changing each other.

        Hum… That’s a bit of a difference. Chuck and Sarah really did change each other – they made each other grow up and we’re continually urging them on. Rick and Kate don’t change each other so much as they get you to like them the way they are.

        Added: One big similarity, one I really like, is how important family and friends are to the ethos of both shows. Martha and Alexis combined are Ellie and Morgan combined, and of course Ryan and Esposito really are a more mature Jeff and Lester.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah strong family themes are always a huge plus for me. I think you summed up well the way Rick doesn’t connect for me; mainly the wealthy playboy part of it. But I do think we’ve seen growth from both characters, just not as overtly as we did on Chuck. Although as long as Castle never devolves into the neurotic buffoon character I’ll be happy enough.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Actually I’ve needed three shows to fill the Chuck void. Parks & Rec has taken on the roll of the family I want to spend time with and watch them grow. Community is now the quirky genre mash-up self-aware comedy, and Castle has sort of stepped into the so-wrong they’re right for each other romance spot. Though I will admit that before the last two episodes I was sort of fading on Castle and Caskett. For an added bonus I followed Mo Ryan’s advice and started watching Happy Endings (which will be burned off on Fridays and canceled by ABC this spring… Thanks Mo.) It is an absolutely delightful show to watch. Probably the funniest thing on TV.

      • atcDave says:

        Wait, Happy Endings is actually funny? The title alone always looked both encouraging and well, not encouraging at the same time to me. Bummer if its going away, but it got what, two seasons. Maybe I should look into it. My wife always complains we don’t watch enough sit-coms (they aren’t normally my thing).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Some of the humor is on the crude side but not overly so, but it is really funny, at least to me. It’s worth a shot. If you buy into their world within about 3-4 episodes it only gets better and funnier. I will warn that their “family” dynamic is closer to Community at times than Chuck.

        It’s in its third season, and absent another Sony/TNT miracle it’ll be gone, but the good news is they seem to know that and sound like they are wrapping things up based on that. It is not very serialized at all, with the exception of the CRM that launches the show, but they really downplay that for the most part.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t give our good friend MyNameIsJeffAndImLost a plug for his Charah Vs. Caskett comparison.

      • atcDave says:

        Fun list. I do disagree with many of the conclusions, but over all, very well done.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I don’t agree with all of it either, and it needs some updating, but it is sort of a fun reminder of just how bold Chuck was to make that pairing so central so inevitable and so permanent so quickly, much as many of us disliked season 3.0.

        I’d venture that disparate as opinions are, the inevitable versus the timing is the only part people really disagree on. It’s sometimes important to remember that for all we disagree on, we agree on so much more.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’ll always be glad for what we got, and I am VERY thankful for the last two seasons.
        I would say though its a little more than just timing, although that is part of it. But I can imagine they could have drawn things out to 3.13 while only annoying me instead of really ticking me off…
        But no doubt, 2+ seasons stable without a PLI threat at all was pretty awesome.

      • anthropocene says:

        Hear, hear! Ain’t gonna be any PLIs in season 6 either.

      • uplink2 says:

        Just a point of order. Hannah and Shaw were NOT PLI’s they were LI’s. Big difference. Much of the fracturing of the fanbase prior to S3 airing seemed to focus alot on the P. But in the end there was nothing Potential about it. So I’d like to propose that we not use the incorrect acronym. They were LI’s. The only true PLI’s were Lou and Cole and Lou might even be a stretch.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I even made that point in our own acronym listings. No doubt much of the “optimism” I had prior to S3 airing was focused on the “P” part of it. But PLI does remain a more all inclusive term, that even extends to those that may only briefly look like a threat. So I remain glad there were no “LIs” or “PLIs” or “OLIs”!

        And Anthro I’m VERY happy to hear that about S6!

      • Yeah, some of my latelys and right nows were from Spring 2012. The PLI/OLI list has been updated. It’s the scariest part. Beckett had 6, and Castle had 8 (with a 9th joke). Sarah had 3, and Chuck had 3 (with a 4th joke, although Duck shippers might disagree). This is in the same number of episodes. Castle’s Josh and Gina lasted longer than anyone on Chuck. I agree that many of the PLIs were OLIs, but they were only PTrueLIs. Also Beckett still hasn’t said an on screen ‘I love you.’ I’m thinking they are waiting until the 100th episode or the season finale, in the typical artificially extended, story-telling by TV schedule way. They are also really milking the getting-to-know-you thing and are planning on revisiting that well.

        I wish NBC would stop stalling and announce that season 6 premiere date already.

      • atcDave says:

        We’ve got Anthro’s S6, we don’t need no stinken’ NBC.

      • ArmySFC says:

        one of the things i said before about the love interests on both shows was the amount of screen time they actually got with the shipper couple. Castle never had much air time spent on the say, Josh/Beckett with Castle as an example. he was on a few times with Castle but not for long periods. it was easier to accept, out of sight out of mind kind of deal. Chuck shoved it down our throats episode after episode. to me that is a huge difference in how a fan reacts to it.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely army; Castle remained clearly about Castle and Backett even when they weren’t “together”. It makes it much easier to watch, well for me anyway.

        The other thing was that with Castle being such a cad at the start, I actually wanted to see him grow up, a lot, before I was interested in his romance with Beckett. While on Chuck I felt no such thing. There was obviously still growing for both characters to do, but nothing that would strike me as troubling from a romance perspective.
        So on a character level, I would say Chuck and Sarah had fewer obstacles from the start (their obstacles were more “professional” in nature; which I as a viewer, am actually EAGER to see overcome).

      • Army, I completely agree that the lack of screen time for Gina and Josh was better for me as a viewer. The part of me that wants some story consistency and intellectual honesty thought it was ridiculous. Beckett was cuddling and cover-kissing Castle while dating someone else for almost a year. Yet some episodes acted as if Josh didn’t exist. The individual episodes were more enjoyable because Gina and Josh were not around, but after around 20 episodes, the lightweight arcs were annoying.

        Castle fanfics were also a little annoying for a while, but it was the show’s fault. Every story had to figure out a way to get rid of Josh and sometimes Gina. It was repetitive. Many of my Castle fanfics written during the “dark” period. intentionally ignore Josh, but I wasn’t trying to get them together. I was staying in UST land, so I could get away it.

        Dave, yes, Castle was a cad at the start, but a lot of that was gone after Ellie Monroe in season two. He was paying $100K to capture Beckett’s mom’s hit man and saving her from exploding buildings. She was admitting out loud, to Castle, that she wanted him at her job because he made it more fun. There’s no reason Beckett couldn’t get Castle to grow up while they were dating. They are doing that now in season 5. The writers just wanted to stall.

        I think Sarah’s personal issues in S1-3 were more serious than Beckett’s were in S4. Sarah had to figure out it was ok for a spy to fall in love. She had major guilt issues from being a child con-woman (shown in Cougars) and had CIA brainwashing issues (from Carina’s mantra of spies not falling in love, which Sarah agree with). Beckett’s issues were serious, but really didn’t block a relationship. (The ‘it’s not you it’s me speech’ on the swings at the beginning of season 4 was kind of lame.) A relationship with Castle might have given her a better support structure. For conflict they could have highlighted public/private life issues of a minor celebrity/

        Chuck had issues, but they were resolved when he realized that Sarah liked him and when Jill’s return blew up. He didn’t let parental issues get in the way and neither did Castle. Castle just needed the right woman: fun like Meredith and a strong hand like Gina, but who actually respected him as a person and recognized the importance he placed in his role as a father. Beckett filled that bill by the end of season 2.

        Demming was like Cole and was even on screen for a few episodes competing with Castle. The difference is Beckett initially chose Demming. He still was acceptable as a stereotypical storytelling/force the relationship issue PLI. Gina and Josh were the off screen versions of Hannah and Josh, except the relationships were three times as long and much more serious.

        I had two and a half years of patience with Chuck (a half year more than many people here). I had about the same with Castle. I still like the show a lot more than most shows on TV, but I just lost appreciation for the pace of the storytelling. Honestly, if it weren’t for Castle fanfic, I probably would have lost more interest. There are a lot of really good Castle fanfic writers out there.

      • atcDave says:

        Except Jeff, Sarah’s issues were introduced later (mostly S2). So as a viewer, we saw no significant character obstacles, until it was “time” to introduce them. So again, what that means to me as a viewer, is that I was ready to see Chuck and Sarah become a real couple almost right from the start. Of course I’ve seen enough television to know these things will take time to develop; but going back to the very beginning, its easy enough to imagine any issue, never even being an issue.
        While Castle’s issues were introduced at the very start. I never felt S1 Castle would have been good for Beckett at all, he still had some growing to do. I needed to see Castle have a moment of self awareness before I was ready to buy into him and Beckett being ready for each other.
        Now I do agree that Castle, like Chuck and virtually every other TV serialized story, dragged out the wt/wt too long. What they did on Castle was in some ways as clumsy as anything that happened on Chuck. They left OLIs hanging over things for months on end. OLIs we never even saw or even heard about much, but were there as a handy excuse for why Castle and Beckett weren’t together. In any given episode, I think that was a better way to do things. It means as a viewer I can watch an episode from that period and still enjoy the banter and chemistry of Caskett, and maybe not even notice if they’re actually “together” or not at that point in time. But of course its really just as damaging to the characters in the big picture. Rick and Kate both become sort of shallow, faithless flakes who will flirt with the co-workers they are secretly really in love with while nominally in a long-term relationship with others. ewww.
        I think this is an area VERY poorly understood by most television writers working today. They treat getting the couple together like its the most important thing; and are willing to sacrifice character values all in the name of drawing out wt/wt drama. Its to the point I prefer movies for romance and am happy to have television just ignore it. I wish that weren’t true. I want VERY much to see a relationship develop in a way that is respectful of those individuals and makes me really believe in them. Chuck and Castle did both take chances in breaking from television tradition on this. But both shows did fall into cliched and tiresome traps before they got there.

      • Dave, I agree with virtually everything in the last 2/3rd of that and how Sarah’s problems were not apparent early on. I really liked Chuck until Cougars. That’s when I became obsessed.

        In Castle, they did change Beckett’s character after the first few episodes. At first they made here some who ‘wanted to live loud,’ but was too involved with work to do so. Then they made her more reserved. They still hint at navel rings, tattoos, and motorcycles. The person that wanted to live loud would have been a good fit with even S1 Castle. Her seriousness and her lack of impulse control would’ve been a good balance to each other, even early on. Castle had more work to do, but after she shot Coonan and he rushed into a blown up apartment, that work was done enough for me. Then it was just the waiting game as a viewer.

  15. anthropocene says:

    I’m just glad that they all eventually fell into the category of TLIs.

  16. First Impression says:

    Ah, Jill.  I wish they had not shown her in the ‘here’s what you need to know’ clips at the beginning of the show. Having no clue until the cell door opened would have raised the value of what Chuck was willing to do to find his dad.  

    When Morgan did his Vizzini bit, I drifted from the Buy Moron antics to ‘The Princess Bride’ and never reconnected to the Buy More story, which seemed distracting aside from the trust connection at the end.  

    The Fulcrum training facility had so many more agents than I would have imagined.  The risk of walking Chuck in to this den of Fulcrum seemed too great, even with Casey as cover.  But the resulting shoot-out was well done and the songs were awesome! 

    Chuck newly found maturity is beginning to show.  He’s continuing to keep pieces of information to himself, like Jill’s presence on the 8th floor and never revealing the flash on Black Rock.  I’m glad Chuck kept his word and let Jill go.  Chuck being honorable is key to his believability and likability.
     
    What happened to Casey at the end?  He was ready to pull the plug on the entire operation, while in the previous episode, he was assuring Beckman they were the team to find Orion.  It didn’t ring true.  

    In the latter part of S2, the last 5 minutes do appear to be the pivotal point in each show.  Here Sarah walked into the Buy More with a smile and told Chuck the story Beckman created.  My mind was saying, ‘don’t take him back Sarah’, ‘tell him the truth Sarah’, ‘this will destroy him Sarah’, ‘make the right choice Sarah’.  Until Chuck began confessing that he was beginning to doubt her, Sarah’s ability to obey orders seemed strong.  But I don’t think she could live with the idea of betraying Chuck.  Even as they drove away, like Chuck, I was in awe of what Sarah had done.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, Beckman, and to a lesser degree Casey, is clearly reduced to the level of plot device here. After going from Sarah’s feelings being an “asset to the asset”, a tacit acceptance of the fact Sarah is compromised; to thinking she can ask Sarah to deliver Chuck into custody…
      Staggeringly clueless.

      But the story here is so much fun. And “take off your watch” is one of my all time favorite television moments.

      BTW, I often wish the “in case you forgot” scenes could be removed. They just telegraph way too much.

      • First Impression says:

        I completely agree with ‘take off your watch’, as it may be the single greatest line Sarah has ever spoken!

        I never thought much about the watch until you said that.  It represents the government’s control of Chuck.  It’s for his protection, but it has a stranglehold on him by tracking his every move.  The watch has come off several times though.  Chuck removed it to protect Lou when he thought she was participating in illegal activities, it was taken off him at the fountain when Agent Forrest was supposed to be protecting him, and now Sarah is asking him to take it off so they can save Orion, but more likely so they can save each other.  I’m guessing there may be even more examples where the watch has been key to the plot.  

    • joe says:

      Nice write-up, FI. When I read your first line I was thinking to myself “This was the episode where Chuck grew up.” Then you wrote it.

      Oh yeah, those last five minutes affect me as much now as they did six years ago. Dave, I have to disagree just a little about Casey and Beckman being reduced here to mere plot devices. In that Yvonne interview I posted the other day, she said that Sarah was always one to follow orders (more than Kate Morgan, for example). Here, Beckman and Casey are not only mirroring that and re-enforcing that in Agent Walker, they’re representing the entire world as she’s known it. At least, as she’s known it before Chuck.

      And with “Take off your watch”, that world is shattered. Pivotal indeed!

      • atcDave says:

        Except they all already knew Sarah would go against orders for Chuck. She had done it small ways before. And Beckmen “knew” way back in First Date to leave Sarah out of the kill order. I think it stretches belief that she would suddenly forget how compromised Agent Walker really is, or how far she would go to protect him.
        And Yvonne alluded to that very issue in her interview; looking after Chuck is the one way all bets are off for Sarah. That moment was earth shaking, but they should have known. Maybe in the same way we should have known before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; but that only means there’s blame to go around, not that anyone is excused.

      • First Impression says:

        Joe says:  ‘Sarah was always one to follow orders’
        Dave says:  ‘Except they already knew Sarah would go against orders for Chuck’ 

        You guys are both right.  We knew she was capable of either and we saw her follow orders AND go against orders in the those few minutes. This decision would be a life-changer for both of them. She had to make a choice and she could justify either decision. All events leading up to this moment left me unsure about what she would do. It was her choice that made the scene unforgettable, because for Chuck fans it’s what we all wanted. It just doesn’t get better than that!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah definitely a great moment. I think its one we’d all been holding our breath for since S1!

      • joe says:

        You guys are both right.

        As is often the case, here. 😉

        …for Chuck fans it’s what we all wanted. It just doesn’t get better than that!

        Truer words seldom spoken! I feel compelled to get out my Chuck playlists and dive back into those memories.

  17. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The First Kill (2.20) | Chuck This

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