Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21)

Chuck and Sarah have run off the grid together in search of Chuck’s father.  Casey is in hot pursuit.  And Fulcrum has its own nefarious plans.  We’re up to the penultimate episode of season two and we see the return of Chevy Chase as Roark and Scott Bakula as Orion/Stephen Bartowski.  Join us after the jump for this week’s discussion!

Almost every poll or survey ever done shows Chuck vs The Colonel as one of the absolute fan favorite episodes. I would easily put it in my top five; really it was my number one until Honeymooners. That’s quite a while!  Now in the grand scheme of things I would say my assessment is greatly diminished, massive damage was done here by S3.  And no doubt, S4 and S5 were more the show I was always hoping to see.  But Colonel remains an excellent episode in its own right, and it continues the S2 trend of getting that balance between action, comedy, romance, drama, tension and release just right.

I normally like to look at both things that worked and things that didn’t work for me when writing these reviews.  But I think there is truly nothing for me to criticize on this one.  Nearly every moment, every scene is satisfying and fun.  Okay, maybe I could say “dump the “B” plot.” Or is it the “C” plot?  I mean Morgan at the Buy More!  Sad thing is, I thought the Buy More plot was very good in this episode.  But the “A” story is so outstanding I can only wish for more of it!

One observation.  I love Sarah still trying to convince Chuck this is all about her duty or mission in the beginning.  What she’s not mentioning is its her very personal duty to protect Chuck; because she actually just bailed out on her government duty and has made this a rogue mission.  She tries to convince Chuck, and likely herself, that this is all about rescuing his father.  And no doubt, Sarah is very task oriented, she takes on that mission with enthusiasm.  But she’s kidding everyone.  This mission is about Sarah deciding she can’t betray Chuck’s trust.  And yes, at some level she’s knows that’s because she loves him.  She got into this mission because she can’t betray Chuck’s trust, even if she has no idea what else to do.  A follow up point has to do with television shortcomings, I wish they were more willing to change the show’s format for an extended period, like half a season of Chuck and Sarah on the run, off the grid together.  That would have been fun!  But leaving the rest of the cast with nothing to do for half a season is never going to happen.

I do want to touch on the staggering number of things that were so well done in this episode.  Some of that is just culminating an outstanding season of television.  It was time for Chuck and Sarah to be together; not to say they’re anywhere near being a mature couple, but the time for plausible obstacles has past.  Everything about the timing here felt perfect, including Sarah’s last attempt to re-establish her professionalism at the beginning of the episode.  And the spooning/hands game was just a beautiful way of showing it.  Intensely romantic, yet still safe for the first prime time spot on network TV.  We had more sweet and fun Chuck/Sarah scenes in this episode than in the series to date; the chemistry is off the charts and the execution and performances are perfect.

And yet there’s still more to this episode.  Devon learning Chuck’s secret almost gets forgotten, and yet it was exciting and fun too.  He even got a couple of good hits in on Casey, not bad for a frat boy!  Of course learning Chuck’s secret could only be awesome; and then melting down in front of Ellie is laugh out loud funny.  Casey gets to shine here too, from nearly killing Devon to going rogue, once properly asked.  Add in perfect performances by Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula and we really have an embarrassment of riches. All great stuff.

Chuck vs The Colonel is dynamite all the way from beginning to end; with “it is real” and a return of the hands game finishing things off in a completely satisfying way.  Even if the legacy of this episode is undermined by what lies ahead, the episode itself is just terrific entertainment.  And Colonel, book-ended with Honeymooners, serves as an indictment of the ill-conceived mess in between.  But for now, it can’t be better than this.

~ Dave

No Space Between Them

Last week, we left Chuck&Sarah on the run from the CIA and Casey. I couldn’t resist commenting that this was one of the most romantic things I could think of – almost Shakespearean, to my mind. Now, a week had passed by for the audience, and most assuredly, we were all caught up in it. The promos fed that feeling big-time, and we loved the idea that they were out there, alone together.

Surprisingly, from their point of view, or, at least, the POV of fictional characters, there is hardly any romance. There couldn’t be. Dave, I think I see the opening shaded just a little differently than you. Chuck is concerned first and foremost with the fate of his father. Sarah is running on pure adrenaline, concerned only with protecting Chuck. Rushing through the night – not the week that we had to rush through – romance is probably not the first thing on their minds. There is no time.

Chuck vs. The Colonel opens in the harsh, desert daylight of Barstow, with Chuck&Sarah standing in an abandoned drive-in theater parking lot. The music is menacing and they look tired. That parking lot should be Black Rock, the place where Fulcrum may have taken Stephen. That’s what Chuck’s flash said.

Ah! Evidence is spotted that says the parking lot isn’t as abandoned as it first appears. Someone’s been using it for something, but it may have been just kids using it for a party. That’s what Sarah’s professional training says, and Chuck is too tired to argue. They’re back at square one.

The problem, as Sarah points out, is that there’s no going back. Sarah’s AWOL and Chuck’s headed for a cell with 24-hour surveillance if they do. Everything says “Give up.” (except Stephen, who says “TRON – 12AM)”. This he says, despite Roark’s – and Fulcrum’s – threat to kill his son unless he finishes the new Intersect.

And Casey? He’s ordered to bring back The Intersect. After that, he can have his pick of assignments. And oh yeah, he just got a promotion. Congratulations, Colonel Casey. Chuck’s phone call to Ellie tells him all he needs to know about Chuck&Sarah’s whereabouts. This is as we left it last week – thrilling. It’s also equal parts exhausting and frustrating for the characters.

But, um, weren’t we the fans looking for romance? Well, yes, but Chuck and Sarah are both tired. And that dirty little motel room in Barstow doesn’t seem to be the most romantic place. It’s evening now. They walk in and turn on the lights.

Chuck: So, um… as you can see, just the one bed. A little presumptuous. Should I have asked for separate rooms?

Sarah: No, it’s fine. As long as we’re on the lam, I can’t let you out of my sight.

Chuck is always the gentleman; Sarah is always the professional.

They really should be a concerned more with the danger than with the sleeping arrangements, you know. As it turns out, Vincent is outside, asking Roark if he wants them dead.

Roark: No, no, Vincent. I may need them for leverage. When the tests are complete, feel free to use whatever despicable acts of violence that are in your nature. You could eat them, if you want. I don’t care.

Heh! You gotta love Roark. Seldom is someone so evil so much fun!

Sarah coming fresh from her shower is – well, Sarah. We can’t be sure how much time has passed since the drive-in parking lot, but we can be sure that it’s been a long time since they had any sleep. I’m guessing that Sarah’s brain is saying something like “I’m not going to think about anything right now.” – not quite the perfect professional. Chuck’s brain isn’t like that. He sees Sarah looking more enticing than ever before, and he has no idea how to act. Being a perfect gentleman doesn’t seem to be quite right at this moment. He’s not sure it’s quite wrong either.

Chuck: Uh… I’ll sleep on the floor.

Sarah: No, it’s okay.

Chuck: Why are you doing this?

Sarah: Because the floor is gross and I’m not gonna make you sleep on it.

That seems reasonable but they are not in a reasonable situation. Yes, Chuck is a little confused about how he is supposed to act, and more confused about how Sarah sees him. He really doesn’t want to presume. She’s too important to him for that.

But that wasn’t at all what Chuck meant, and Sarah knows it.

Chuck: No, I meant, why are you here, risking everything that you’ve worked so hard for?

Sarah: Because after everything that you’ve done for this country, you deserve to find your father, to get the Intersect out of your head and to have a chance at a normal life.

Chuck: Thank you.

Sarah: You don’t have to thank me. It’s my job to protect you.

All that is true. Everything Sarah says is an honest statement of her heartfelt reasons for wanting to help Chuck. That’s her mission now – to help Chuck in his.

Chuck noticed what she didn’t say, and so did we.

Chuck: And what about when it’s not your job? What happens to us then?

Sarah: One mission at a time, Chuck.

Chuck and Sarah on the run, in the same bed together and obviously caring for each other, if not quite openly, now. But we still didn’t know if or how they would be the couple we wanted them to be. We were still in the midst of our WT/WT quandary. But it was so sweet, the fans were almost resigned to it.

Exhausted. Time for sleep. The morning comes soon enough.

In the morning light

In the morning light

Well, we did say that everything is different now, didn’t we? That meant their relationship most of all. Now, in the morning light, it seemed clear to the fans that Chuck&Sarah were exactly where we wanted them to be. And a good thing too, because the season, and for all we knew, the series, was rapidly coming to an end.

Where we wanted them to be

Where we wanted them to be

I wrote a couple of thousand words about the rest of the episode. I enjoy thinking about it that much. But instead of relaying my version of the events that everyone knows so well – things like Chuck and Casey throwing verbal spears at each other about how much they don’t care, The Buy Morans saving Chuck&Sarah with their M-80 in the junction box and Awesome stumbling before being awesome for Chuck – I just want to bring a couple of moments to your attention.

Two bath, two bed?

Two bath, two bed?

There’s one in particular, where Chuck finds a silver lining in a most unexpected place – a detention cell in Castle.

Chuck: For whatever it’s worth, if I have to spend the rest of my days in a dark, windowless room, I can’t think of a better person to spend it with.

Sarah: That’s not really how this works.

Chuck: What? We can’t request a cozy, little, two-bed, two-bath cell?

Sarah: Two-bed?

Sarah’s little prison humor quip and smile tell us, that, yes, this is real, even before she can say those words. Chuck may be the articulate one, but Sarah’s smile speaks volumes. More than anything, these are not the same people we met at Chuck’s birthday party a year and a half earlier. Not even close.

Kill Bill Morgan!

Take all the time you need to recollect and remember the squeees we heard throughout the fandom. Back yet? Good, because Morgan messes things up a bit for them in Barstow. Things are not going so well in Burbank either. Besides the fact that Casey didn’t miss shooting Chuck’s portrait in the head this time, Morgan is fully realizing the extent of Emmett’s treachery in the Buy More. As a bribe to keep the minions in check, he’s being offered “a cuuuuup! Up the corporate ladder.” He’ll be the new assistant manager if he does that. Oh, admit it. Dave is absolutely right. Morgan’s plight is a great tonic to contrast with the trills Chuck, Sarah and Casey are giving us.

Sir, We Have An Issue

And speaking of thrills, Casey is on them. Sarah is back to fully adrenaline-charged CIA agent mode as she clubs Casey with a two-by-four (I think), and does so with impeccable timing, as Vincent and his goons are on them. Chuck and Sarah can’t leave Casey behind! They have too much history.

One often unmentioned aspect of this episode is Adam Baldwin’s portrayal of Casey here. Yes, Chuck and Casey now have history, as do Sarah and Casey. Yet the fans have no trouble believing that Casey is about to betray them both, just like Sarah’s allegiances were question just a week earlier. Who’s side is he on, anyway? Isn’t Casey the one you can always count on to catch Chuck when he falls???

Chuck: Colonel Casey, huh? Now I get it. Now I understand why you would betray your own team.

Casey: [yelling] I would NEVER betray my team! You went AWOL. You betrayed me! Don’t you ever forget that.

Chuck: So sorry, Colonel. But congratulations on that chicken franchise you always wanted.

Casey, bad guy, is redeemed pretty quickly, though, because of the promise he made to Chuck. An airstrike, sent by Beckman, means that Casey hasn’t kept his promise, and we can’t have that. Chuck is outraged!

Chuck: You gave me your word! I thought that would have meant something. I guess I have a lot to learn.

Casey: Yeah, that’s right. You do. You made three crucial mistakes, Bartowski. You didn’t realize you were being trailed for the last half hour, you [looking at Sarah] didn’t bring nearly enough firepower, and you didn’t ask me to join.

Chuck: Wwwaaa? Casey? Would you like to help us rescue my father?

Beautiful! It’s a mystery to me how the very same “Stay in the car, Chuck!” jokes that worked in the pilot episode continue to make me smile. Oh yes, we know from the moment Casey shows us he’s on Chuck’s side that this is going to be a thrilling ending. It has to be, because Stephen has built another Intersect – for Fulcrum this time.

No, he hasn’t. Stephen’s created something else. As the F-16s take care of Fulcrum, the Intersect is removed from Chuck’s head. Huh? Wait a minute. It’s gone? Is that a good thing?

I almost hate to say it, but I think I had mixed feelings about that development.

She treated Chuck horrifically!

She treated Chuck horrifically!

Casey gets Sarah off the hook with Beckman, and gives her credit for the successful mission.

Casey: Actually, Agent Walker’s the one responsible for the success of the mission. She pretended to go AWOL, used herself and the asset as bait to lure Fulcrum out, to secure their location. She risked her life to preserve the integrity of mission. If anyone deserves a commendation, it’s Walker.

Sarah: Actually, general, I never…

Chuck: …never thought she could be so cold! I mean, I didn’t, certainly. She used me as bait, like Casey just said. I was treated terribly, you know. I mean, she cuffed me, I got chafing on my wrists, I was malnourished. In was… horrific.

The mission is over. Chuck is free to return to – whatever it is he does.

I’m not sure what music is being played at the end, when Sarah appears in a blue gown to attend Ellie’s rehearsal dinner. It’s a gap in my music database. But I do know the song I wish they had chosen.

vlcsnap-2013-03-03-17h10m47s11Isn’t that nice? Everything seems right between Chuck&Sarah, but there’s one episode left! What’s to be resolved?

Well, it seems Ellie still needs to get married, Chuck is still stuck in the Buy More and most importantly, Emmett is still in charge of the Buy Morons. For that one, Morgan must fall on his sword. He quits the store – Morgan out – and leaves like an officer and a gentleman, to go to Hawaii to learn the ancient art of Hibachi. And he takes Anna with him! Now that’s a happily ever after if I ever saw one.

Sarah: So how does it feel?

Chuck: It feels great, actually. – like everything is finally real.

Sarah: It is real.

Did you notice a very small hesitation in his voice when Sarah asks Chuck that question? I did. Chuck may have a few second thoughts himself about losing the Intersect. Well, a very few. Mostly, he’s happy to be normal again. Mostly.

And Roark isn’t quite dead yet.

– joe


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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81 Responses to Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21)

  1. CaptMediocre says:

    Chuck vs the Colonel

    Bar none, the best episode of the entire series.

    “Two beds ??”

    ‘Nuf said.

    • joe says:

      Ah, you like that line, huh.

      Hi, Capt! Long time. If you get a chance, we’d enjoy your elaboration on that – why exactly did you like this one so much? The relationship? The character dynamics, other than Chuck and Sarah? The way surprises were built in? The balance between the humor, the romance and the action, perhaps?

      Any chance you remember what it was from the first time you saw it? Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

    • CaptMediocre says:

      I think I’d have to say Casey.

      Sure Chuck and Sarah were great it this episode, but it was Casey that truly makes everything work.

      Showing up I’m Barstow, threatening to bludgeon Chuck, feeling left out of the rescue mission, warming up the Vic, they’re all just great Casey moments that really “enhance” (I can’t come up with a better word) the episode.

  2. What always amazes me in this episode is how much happened in about 42 minutes. Chuck always tried to pull off too much in an episode. It sometimes didn’t work, but more often than not part of the fun. Colonel is an episode in which they really pulled it off.

    I have a hard time thinking of any episode in any show that pulled so much off while not being a two parter. Sometimes I think of end of First Kill/Colonel/Ring as a two-plus-parter, which means they pulled off even more. Alias came close, maybe in the Super Bowl episode and the premiere, but the premiere was limited commercial interruption.

    And while the hotel was one of my favorite scenes in the series, the Devon reveal still gets a huge laugh out of me every single time. It’s not just the frat boy comment. It’s Sarah knocking out Casey and Chuck’s horrible cover story and very Chuck-ish plea about Awesome’s mission. The show had a lot of fantastic (and heartbreaking) Charah moments, Chuck/Morgan moments, family dinner moments, and Jeffster craziness moments. But something about that sequence just fits.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all that Jeff, especially how packed it was. It could have been a two hour episode and STILL felt packed.

    • joe says:

      I’ll second that too, Jeff. Heh! I’m surprised that it really hasn’t been mentioned much, but the show really did pack a lot into 42 min. and X seconds (and let me tell you, the number of notes I have to take for each episode tells me the same thing every week).

      Now you have me wondering about who did the editing. That person was a bit of an unsung hero, and if it was Fedak, his talent there was a little unrecognized. Doesn’t it make you wish for more of the stuff that got left on the cutting room floor?

      • There were several editors that rotated. According to IMDB,
        Series Film Editing by
        Matt Barber (30 episodes, 2007-2012) – edited Ring and also directed A-Team
        Kevin Mock (28 episodes, 2007-2012) – edited Colonel and also directed Baby
        Jeff Granzow (24 episodes, 2007-2011) – edited First Kill
        Brandon Lott (7 episodes, 2011-2012)
        Norman Buckley (2 episodes, 2007)

        The three main editors were all interviewed by Chuck vs the Podcast.

      • joe says:

        Thanks for that info Jeff!
        I think I heard that podcast. Fading memory is one of the first signs, you know… 😉

  3. Mel says:

    “Now in the grand scheme of things I would say my assessment is greatly diminished, massive damage was done here by S3.”

    That’s how I feel too, Dave. I still like this episode, but the writers didn’t stay true to the characters in S3 and it ruined many significant earlier moments. The finale did it too in a different manner, I get no joy in watching scenes I used to love since Sarah ended up forgetting all of it.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I also wish we’d had a more definitive and positive ending, but I am convinced all is well there. I’m willing to believe Sarah was fine, and she did remember everything. But I think its stupid that we are all left having to convince ourselves of that; there should have been no question.

      …calming down…

      • Robert says:

        I agree, Dave (although I’m convinced Chuck and Sarah are fine, and that Sarah has started to remember).

        But that’s where the “Fringe” finale ended better than the “Chuck” finale. It was clear that the main couple were happily together at the end. In “Chuck” you have clues that indicates it is so, and you have the beach scene, but it’s not shown as clearly as “Fringe”.

        LOVED vs. Colonel, because everything was working, and finally Sarah’s feelings for Chuck were clear. It was also my favorite episode until Vs. Honeymooners, although not as good, but much more satisfying for me.

  4. FSL says:

    With so much happening, this episode always felt more like the finale then the next one. Chuck and Sarah finally together (that morning in the motel room, it’s official, at least mentally / spiritually), and the (seemingly) defeat of Fulcrum and rescue of Stephen. It’s as if every thing that should be there is there. “It’s real” could have been the final moment of the show. The next episode almost felt like an after-thought, just to introduce the Ring.

  5. resaw says:

    “Two-bed?” One might thing that the morning scene in the bed of the decrepit motel would be the ultimate “Charah” moment in this episode, but Sarah’s query to Chuck in Castle was, for me, the confirmation that Sarah was now acknowledging to both herself and to Chuck that she was in love with him. And the other great moment, which I don’t recall ever really attending to that much before, was another piece that you quoted at the end, Joe: Sarah saying in response to Chuck, “It is real.” Obtuse fellow that I am, I think I usually regarded that as a nod to the fact that the Intersect is gone and Chuck can get on with his life. However, when I saw that while they were in that “real” conversation the camera cut away to Sarah offering—and Chuck taking—her hand, I realized that what was also (primarily?) intended was that there relationship was now real. No more fake relationship for the sake of the cover.

    Having said that, it confuses me greatly that in the season finale, we get all this angsty stuff about Sarah going away. Don’t you think that, after all they went through that Chuck and Sarah would have taken a little time to sort out what they were going to do in order to continue and build their relationship? Thirty-two years ago, a week into an intended one-year stint in Japan, I met the woman who became my wife. Over the next several months, I wound up falling in love with her. I assure you that when I finally got up the nerve to kiss her, when my return to Canada was only a few months away, the most crucial thing in my mind was, how do we keep this going? (For the record, we’re coming up to 29 years of marriage this May.)

    • Ruthiesw says:

      Yes, this is my issue too! I wrote my comments offline so just saw your comments after I posted.

      I share your confusion over their status at the end of Colonel and the angst in Ring over Sarah leaving. I don’t get it.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that. My first thought is just that the puppet strings are showing, it’s angst for angst’s sake and not particularly honest story telling. We’ll see a lot of that in the next few episodes!
        Now I can hammer away at it and make some sense; but honestly I think it’s a retrofit, there is no good answer. “It is real” meant exactly what it sounded like. Unfortunately it’s not a life changing commitment, just a current reality. Sarah has not given any thought to leaving her job or changing her life. So when duty calls, she does what she always does, she answers. I think she regrets it immediately when she sees the hurt on Chuck. And over the course of the episode, she realizes some things are more important that work.
        And I will talk a lot more about this next week!

      • lappers84 says:

        I always wondered if she accepted her new role in the passing hope that Chuck will join her an Bryce – indicated somewhat by her reaction when he turns down Beckmans offer of an analyst role, but like you said Dave it’s just a convenient plot device to progress the storyline.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Lappers I have no doubt Sarah was hoping for a moment that Chuck would take that job! It sure would have made her decisions easier.

  6. Ruthiesw says:

    It really is a great episode and extremely well-paced. I don’t care much for the Buy More storyline here, not because it is bad, but because I want to get back to the action!

    For me I have always cared more for the Chuck and Sarah relationship than the spy-stuff, which is why this episode feels like pay day on each viewing. You’ve already picked up on all of those great exchanges between them so there’s very little I can add.

    However, my joy at “it’s real” is diminished in context at what’s just around the corner in Ring (even if she does change her mind). I still don’t understand how Sarah goes from all of her actions and words in Colonel to her pre-wedding discussion with Chuck in Ring. In this episode, she seems to finally accept her feelings for Chuck and I think we see her feeling lighter and happier with that burden lifted.

    But how can she admit that everything’s real and be so seemingly care-free if she is just there until her next assignment? Is she in denial about her job taking her away from Chuck? Has she recklessly decided to live for the moment, give Chuck every indication that they can be together, knowing that as soon as she receives orders she will be ready to pick up and hit the road? That doesn’t seem right and it doesn’t seem like Sarah. She knows that leaving would break his heart and so giving him false hope with “it’s real” would be especially cruel if she does intend to ship off to her next assignment. I can’t believe Sarah would do that after everything she has been through with Chuck, which is why I can only conclude that at the end of this episode, she has no intention of taking a reassignment.

    Now, how I’m going to justify her temporary insanity in the first half of Ring, is a discussion for next week…

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah we’ll get into this more next week. I really think its mostly manipulative in the way much of the next season will be. It’s an out of character moment to get to a desired moment later (her “big decision” during the wedding).

      • Ruthiesw says:

        Yeah, I was tempted to use the M-word as I think it was angst for angst’s sake, rather than a natural story to tell. Funnily enough, I don’t mind a bit of angst if it makes sense. Let’s talk more next week about Sarah’s stay or go decision as it’s interesting stuff (and greatly explored in fanfiction).

      • atcDave says:

        Another fan fiction reader? Awesome! I’ll be spending a lot of time on that in the next few months too.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        Yep, I got into it once I’d finished the series. I have a nifty little app for reading them offline on my daily commute so have whizzed through about 150 stories in the past 4-5months. I must make more of an effort to leave reviews though!

  7. uplink2 says:

    Well I’ve kind of decided to focus my comments on the fact that this was in fact the finale of “Chuck the original series”. This was two seasons of character development and growth with absolutely a perfect payoff. We all know what happens here so well because it is such a critical episode and will always be in my top 3 behind Honeymooners and Phase 3. I absolutely remember that moment when it all became clear for me that they had made it. “It is real” coupled with the connection to the hand porn again, and yes Dave I know you chose not to use that term but in many ways that’s what it is lol, connects what happens in the motel to what happens yes after the Rehearsal dinner.

    In my view what I take from that using the logic we all try to use about the actual series finale is that what began in the motel is most definitely resumed back in Sarah’s hotel. Chuck and Sarah clearly are real. They both know they love each other and are then go on to attend a very romantic event. There aren’t many things more romantic than a rehearsal dinner. Look at Chuck and Sarah’s rehearsal dinner. I expect Ellie’s was equally so if not more romantic. And as others have mentioned there were important things to discuss as “one mission at a time” had moved on to the next mission which was what happens when it wasn’t her job. So I chose to look at this ‘finale’ of the original series and that what I absolutely believe my 99.999999 % of the adult couples, both not virgins, would have done after that dinner happened. It is a perfect ending to the perfect balance of the original series.

    But TBTP had other ideas. They chose as they often did to ignore what came before so they could do a reset on things to in this case write a different series. A darker, manipulative, trip back to the empty OLI pool. TBH the fact that they chose them to be one of the 0.000001 % didn’t bother me as much at the time because I was excited for the spy element of the story throwing them a curve like it always had. The 2.0 was something I looked forward to because I believed that what this episode showed us actually mattered to the writers and they wouldn’t do a reset. But even after Sarah hurts Chuck before the wedding you can see her expression is such that she regrets what she said immediately. I knew by the end of Ring she wouldn’t be leaving. So when season 2 ended I was so excited that the series would come back and explore the spy life impact on the now absolutely acknowledged romantic relationship between them. That they would struggle to find a way to make it work somehow. But what TPTB did was ignore all of it and give us a new series that frankly I would never have gotten so invested in and moved on like many viewers actually did. But saying that I would have been ok with the darker tone if they hadn’t chosen to venture back to the OLI well and screw with the team dynamic that had worked so well with the big 3. I’ll leave the failed stunt casting discussion for another time.

    But I don’t want to dwell on that as this episode was also the first one I chose to rewatch after 11 months. It is as close to a perfect episode as they ever came. There are 3 absolutely horrible episodes, 10 others that are made unwatchable by the stench of those 3, a few more that are meh, lots and lots of really good ones, some excellent ones and 3 that are truly outstanding and some of the best television ever made for me and this is one of those 3.

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree with saying this episode basically closes out the original Chuck series. I consider the next incarnation of the show mostly unwatchable, but once we get the third and final version (starting at 3.13 or 3.14) we have another fun and excellent series that really is worthy of the original. We’ll get into that more in the weeks ahead.

      • Robert says:

        I mostly agree.

        I can understand why TPTB did Season 3.0 the way they did it, but it was not fun to watch, I totally agree there.

        Season 4 and 5 were great (with 4 being my favorite), but can you imagine how even better it would’ve been had it flowed from 2.21, or even 2.22, right into 3.14? It would’ve felt totally natural.

        Dave, and Uplink, do you think Chuck and Sarah were matured enough to start their real relationship right there, after 2.22? I like to think so, but I’m a bit ambivalent about that…

      • uplink2 says:

        Interesting question. On the surface, yes of course I do. both had been in relationships before. Chuck with Jill and Sarah with Bryce. Were those good relationships? Probably at least for a time. So yes on that kind of level they were ready for that. I mean they obviously loved each other very much. But in many ways there were obstacles to the “epic” love affair that they would need to work through. Much of that they did in 3.5 and season 4. But the challenges of Chuck becoming a spy would have made for some different obstacles to overcome and that was the journey I wanted to see.

        In my view, both of the OLIs of season 3 taught them nothing about relationships. Neither was any more ready for them to be together after those relationships than before. They were simply retreads of lessons already learned. The OLI stories were pointless but the spy drama and how it would affect the new couple as Chuck grew to become an agent wasn’t. But it was a story we were never told and what we did get was lost under the stench of the OLI story for me.

        I really had hoped we would see that story at the end of season 2. The new couple trying to deal with their new situation whether it was out in the open or in secret. In fact I hoped it would be in secret. But alas they chose the pointless story instead. So were they ready for a relationship? Absolutely. But were there serious challenges to it developing into the epic nature we see in the later seasons? Of course there were and that is what I dreamed about seeing all 8 months of the hiatus. Too bad what I did see was a pointless OLI journey clouding the view of the story that actually mattered.

      • atcDave says:

        I think they were more than ready. As Uplink indicated, that doesn’t mean they were fully mature in any sense. But I think it would have been so much fun to see Chuck working through his spy training issues, with Sarah as the spy mentor she was in the first two seasons. While Sarah learned priorities and how to be a real girl.
        What we got kept much of their processes separate. Especially Chuck’s growing up happened largely without Sarah. I thought it was a pretty unsatisfying way of doing it, and we didn’t see them deal with anything together, until all of a sudden they’re ready to pledge their lives to each other…
        Don’t get me wrong, Other Guy was a fun episode in it’s own right; but more from a relief perspective than anything actually accomplished.

      • lappers84 says:

        Had they gone that way, and not with what he did actually get – do you think we would be currently enjoying a possible season 6 right now??

      • uplink2 says:

        It’s difficult to say. But I’d like to believe that. As I’ve said many times before S3’s biggest failure is that it fractured a united fanbase and created almost fan on fan warfare. Something that continues till this day. That fracturing was compounded even more though to a much lesser degree in Season 4 and then again with the finale. Whether you agree or disagree with story choices made or not made, nothing they did since season 2 grew the audience to any appreciable or lasting degree. Did what they did hasten the erosion? I believe it did though when I look at the state of NBC right now even Chuck’s final season ratings on fridays look decent compared to midweek ratings for their current shows. So if that fracturing hadn’t occurred, yes we might still have gotten a season 6 I believe.

        If we had gotten a season 6 I’m not sure how much more story there was to tell though I certainly would have tuned in.

      • atcDave says:

        Its hard to say lappers. I think there’s a big problem with viewer demographics. That is, a lot of folks who most enjoy seeing relationships, couples, and families on screen are very different from those who like the romantic tension and angst. So when any show makes that switch in the romance from pursuit, to growth and maturity, there will be some change in who’s watching. Of course a big part of that is that many viewers will leave. Keeping your entire audience happy over the life of a show is VERY difficult.
        Now that said, I think if the angst had diminished gradually over S3, instead of the instant on/off switch that we got, it would have made it easier for us old married folks to recruit new viewers. And I think we would have seen a less violently divided fandom. That MIGHT have meant a more steady viewership through the season and into S4 and S5. That possibly could have meant S6 going on right now, its hard to say.
        I think the way they did it though, many viewers left during S3 who would have loved S4 and later. While those who most liked S3 often did not care for S4. It kind of led to the worst of all worlds from a ratings perspective; and I think Chuck viewership dropped more rapidly over the course of the last three seasons than is normal to expect from a serialized show. And no, I don’t have any numbers to prove it, that’s purely my take on it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        As I’ve said many times before S3′s biggest failure is that it fractured a united fanbase and created almost fan on fan warfare.

        I’ll add two thoughts. I don’t think the fan-base was all that united, and I don’t see laying the fracture solely at the feet of TPTB as fair.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree Dave. You know I love season 4 and a lot of season 5. What’s also interesting is that if you play out what I think happens after the Rehearsal Dinner it fits perfectly to jump from there to Honeymooners and bypass all the unnecessary distractions in between.

    • anthropocene says:

      One small nitpick: I wouldn’t call Sarah’s above-the-covers caress in bed “hand porn.” That gesture seemed much more love than lust to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with lust between those two. But I saw it as a sign that Sarah was subconsciously aware of being in Chuck’s arms and subconsciously very, very comfortable with that.

    • Ruthiesw says:

      I hadn’t ever realised there was debate over what happened between Chuck and Sarah after the rehearsal dinner. I must admit that I take a lot of what I see on screen at face value so missed some of those cues you refer to with the hand holding. Now that you bring it up, they do use this a lot throughout their relationship. Was there ever an official stance about what happened after the dinner?

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention – just the kind of insight that makes the re-watch so enjoyable.

      • atcDave says:

        The official position is nothing happened (per Chuck’s talk with Morgan in Beard). Which given how busy and insane weddings get to be doesn’t really surprise me at all. But it still makes for some difficult scenes in the next episode.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        I forgot about the conversation in Beard. But at the time of first airing I can see why some people might have thought otherwise.

      • atcDave says:

        I think a lot of people thought that Ruthie. We really had no reason to think otherwise until almost a year later!

    • uplink2 says:

      Oh I agree Anthro that it is much more romantic than lustful but what happens next between them was heading towards a much more passionate encounter. I actually said that more as a joke. That phrase of hand porn has been used before and I find it a little comical. I just mentioned it again because of how Dave describes it in the review. No biggie really. It’s the connection between the use of it and what follows in Barstow with what I wanted to think happened after the rehearsal dinner. It was certainly an intentional bookending for the episode.

      Ruthie, I agree that taking things at face value is probably the best but in much of the debate about this show folks will say “well it happened off screen” for their POV of something. It even seems at times that TPTB wanted us to assume some things happened off screen as well. Like a resolution to the name reveal leading to the total abandonment of her “real name” when the Pre-nup was written. That she had “officially” changed her name at some point. Well you can’t have it both ways. Either you are allowed to think things happen off screen or nothing did. Everything is then literal and that leads to other questions.

      As I said it never really bothered me at the time that ‘nothing happened’ as I foolishly believed that it was imminent no matter what and especially once Sarah said she was staying. Boy was I wrong about that. But its an interesting topic for discussion. I certainly believe in the real world they would have gone back to Sarah’s hotel room and picked up on where things were in Barstow now that “it is real” but your literal interpretation is what they presented in terms of storytelling.

      • atcDave says:

        I will cautiously disagree with your having it both ways comment Uplink. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for us to fill in blanks and make assumptions about things, right up until they contradict canon. So while we know that as of “Family Volkoff” Sarah’s legal name was “Sarah Lisa Walker”, we can only guess when that came to be. She may have changed it to that after she got involved with Chuck as it became how she saw herself and was who she wanted to be. Or it may have been her legal name ever since Graham recruited her, and she only claimed otherwise on occasions when she was either trying to confuse the issue (Helicopter) or was speaking in some meta sense (Fake Name). Either, or neither, could be true. It can be fun to fill holes for ourselves, but we always run the risk of being contradicted by later canon (well, not so much in a show that’s over!)
        As far as what came after Colonel, I’m only really interested in the fact they didn’t seem to actually talk much. That is the thing I find most disappointing. Yet we know that’s true as of Ring when Chuck and Sarah obviously had not discussed their future yet.
        But disappointing or no I don’t find it shocking. I’ve been in several wedding parties, and it’s not uncommon to get caught up in multitudes of old friends, extended family, last minute preparations, helping with travel and accommodations…

        I think filling in gaps is perfectly reasonable if its used to make sense of things we actually saw in canon. Even if a jump seems unlikely, well we’re watching a show where a nerd will jump off a roof top, a 130 pound woman can intimidate a bar full of mercenaries, and computer programs can be stored in a person’s head; so I’m okay with some fairly outlandish leaps to make sense of canon. I only REALLY object to certain directions taken for purely entertainment reasons. Our own real world is full of tragedy enough, I never watched Chuck to get more of it.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        I don’t necessarily mean that we should take things at face value, as there’s certainly plenty of subtext to be explored. Again it’s likely to be due to the way I watched the series, but because I didn’t have anyone to discuss the show with as I watched it (and was fearful of spoilers if I searched out other people’s perspectives on each episode), I didn’t ever really think about or question alternative meanings or interpretations.

        One thing I have learned through catching up on the re-watch reviews and comments here on Chuck This is that there were so many more nuances to enjoy in each episode than I initially realised.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I guess my point is that unless proven incorrect by future canon off screen speculation can be useful but it shouldn’t be used as an absolute. You can’t say “well that had to happen off-screen” in one breath and then “that’s wrong because we never saw it.” in another. The only absolutes are canon but let’s face it even they contradicted themselves on many occasions and truth was sometimes a moving target. I think the pre-nup was simply they never wanted to broach the subject of Sarah’s real name again after the fan reaction to how it was handled. I think that’s proven by Emma calling her Sarah as well and even more so Shaw never mentioning Sam in Santa Suit. That’s a strong case for them running away from it.

        Ruthie, I have to agree how having folks to discuss things with is great. It’s been one of the best things about this show. I remember finally coming online and feeling very vindicated because my dislike of season 3 was shared with a large part of the active fanbase it seemed. Plus it has got me to look at things differently and see moments I didn’t quite catch on initial viewing. So I’m glad you are with us.

      • anthropocene says:

        Sorry, Uplink—missed the joke, but in hindsight I’m smiling!

  8. Bill says:

    I really don’t have anything to add to what’s already been written here, other than to chime in that Colonel is my all-time favorite episode of the show, a perfect realization of the romantic arc to that point, and the most well-earned pay-off in the show’s run. For me this episode marks the absolute zenith of the series.

    • uplink2 says:

      Bill, I can easily see how you would feel that way. The difference between Colonel, Phase 3 and Honeymooners for me is very small but it goes to Honeymooners simply because it is just such a fun episode.

      But you make a terrific point about this being the most-earned payoff in the series. Though some could argue the wedding and engagement but we are focusing on Colonel here. But your point is so well taken because what makes an episode like Other Guy that SHOULD have been so fulfilling fall flat in many ways is that it wasn’t earned. The name reveal, the Catch-22 betrayal of Chuck by Sarah, her refusing to answer his calls knowing full well how much he needed her IF he had in fact killed someone and then the first time ever in the series where Sarah didn’t trust Chuck and believe him were all just swept under the rug, ignored and left unresolved. They didn’t earn DYLM like they did “It is real”. DYLM feels so good mostly because it always feels better when someone stops bashing you upside the head for weeks on end.

      • I would quickly like to say that I disagree re your claim that this was the first time that Sarah does not trust Chuck. She did not trust/help him when he thought Rourke had an intersect. Of course he did not trust her either with the details of the plans from orion either.
        She did not trust him with any personal info when he was almost begging her in Vs Wookie. Then of course this was to continue in s4 AND 5 when grabbing Mary and The baby
        That is not to say I agree with her actions in Final exam, either, the fact was that she give him the order, told him proabably not when he asked if he asked if he did not do it could they be together. I can only rationalise it that she gave him a choice to be who he was and was worried if he knew that he did not have to do it he would get hurt. Her reactions after in American hero are I think more because of her guilt from not saving him from having to do it ie doing what casey did and guilt that she made him do it.

  9. JJ says:

    As a lurker who just finished S3 in my series rewatch (actually everything after 4.10 or so will be new to me – I stopped watching then because I was so busy at the time and never caught back up), I have to say the constant derailment of every single post about the merits or lack thereof season 3 makes it exhausting to read the discussions and discouraging to post here. Discussing the merit or lack thereof of Season 3’s overall plotline and to a lesser the following seasons has been run into the ground, and we’re not even at season 3 yet! It seems like all people want to talk about is whether S3 ruined the show or not and whether it recovered afterwards.

    Personally, I enjoyed S3. I suppose my perspective is a little different because even if I don’t like Shaw and some of the manufactured drama, I’m less invested in the Chuck/Sarah relationship than most of the crowd here (I think all the Jill episodes are some of the show’s very best, for example). Certainly I have my problems with S3, some of which are completely different from what people usually complain about, like strangely clumsy and amateurish cinematography/editing for some of the fight scenes and not enough for Jeff and Lester to do.

    But I think there’s still a lot of good there. Even Fake Name has its moments, though Mask is just a poor episode on almost every level.

    • JJ says:

      Overall, I think it’s better than season 1. S1 has a charming innocence to it but in many ways it feels like they were still figuring the show out until near the end.

      • atcDave says:

        You are always welcome to participate in the discussion, all opinions are welcome. But the whole point of this re-watch has been “big picture” impressions, and for many of us, S3 will always color that big picture. We slip in references to every season quite often, and recently had a fairly lengthy discussion about the impact of Sarah’s v-logs on our S2 experience. No doubt S3 is the most polarizing, and likely will always be so. I know that for some readers it is a tired and broken record; but our site traffic clearly spikes whenever the S3 arguments start, it is easily the most popular single season to discuss. Probably exactly because it is the most controversial.
        The best defense against it is not to fuel the fire; and participate in threads that are more to your liking. There’s no reason to worry about the discussion you don’t want to have.

  10. BillAtWork says:

    I’d just like to echo some of the previous comments. Colonel was, for the most part, the ending of the story. Sarah was fighting the love vs duty fight, and love finally won.

    We can argue (and, Ernie, I’ve very willing, lol) to argue about their choices after Colonel. But I think whatever is wrong with them is what’s wrong with TV in general. If you watch a show based upon wt/wt, you simply have to be prepared for them to sacrifice story continuity and believability for more ust. Name me a show where that isn’t true. Chuck is why I no longer watch much tv (thanks Chris Fedak 🙂 ) Josh S was incredioulous. (I’m paraphrasing)

    “We put them together after only 2 1/2 seasons. Why is everyone complaining?”

    By TV standards, he has a point. And there is a tendancy to dimiss the issues with the show as the whinning of shippers that C/S were not together. I protest that. To me C/S not being together was never the issue. It was that they became different characters, ones that I didn’t recognize or particularly like. And there were ways to keep ust and still tell an honest story.

    • atcDave says:

      I mostly agree with that Bill. although perhaps I am just a crazy ‘shipper, because I have to admit, having Chuck and Sarah together in S3 is the only way I would have been completely happy. BUT, I think i could have accepted a story that made them look less like utter fools. And that is exactly what’s wrong with the wt/wt game on TV; it is too often done at the expense of the very characters we’re supposed to be rooting for.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But that’s exactly what they fear. You want to see them together. And once you get what you want, there is no reason to keep watching. I get that. I don’t even dispute it. I just would have found another way. After Colonel, honest storytelling would no longer allow for C/S to not each realize that they were in love and wanted to be together. Things beyond their control might have caused them to not be able to be together, but their feelings could no longer be in question.

        That’s what was wrong. If Chuck was going to choose being a hero over Sarah in Prague, an honest story would dictate that he should have stuck with that choice, for a while at least. But since the rejection was in flaskback, he was already pining for her again the second we saw him.

        Similarly Chuck’s epiphany in Beard. He loves Sarah. Really Chuck? Did you forget telling Roan in Seduction that you loved her? Did you forget telling dad in Ring that you loved her? Did you forget telling her that you loved her through the door in Three Words? How many times can we watch you have that epiphany before we stop believing it… and indeed start sneering at it?

        Name me a wt/wt couple that isn’t frustrating. Did you root for Ross and Racheal in Friends? Did you even believe them when they finally got together in the finale? Do you buy Sheldon and Penny (or is it Leonard, I get them confused) in TBBT?

      • joe says:

        I can’t say you’re not bringing up good points, Bill, but I do disagree – at least, a little.

        There’s truth in the idea that once the main characters are together, the main interest for a lot of fans is gone. We used to call it “The Moonlighting Effect.” Remember? There was lots of discussion about how that particular show’s rating drop was caused by other, external things, and how it was caused by the resolution of WT/WT. Much fun. But ultimately, no conclusion was drawn.

        I’m not sure about this idea of “honest storytelling,” though. I’ll be elaborating a bit more in my next post, I’m sure, but the way it looks to me now, the dishonest continuation from the rehearsal dinner and Bryce’s reappearance would be to have Sarah completely forget her past history, snub her life with the CIA and Bryce and go gaily into the night with Chuck.

        Is that really her? I could see that it is, partly, but – mostly? I’m not even sure of that. Sarah’s hesitation at the beginning of The Ring actually does seem consistent with her character as I understand it (as opposed to how I want it to be). And so is her nod “no” to Bryce. That’s the extent of her willingness to give up on everything she’s known – and it’s the extent of her commitment to Chuck right now. She’s barely crossed the threshold.

        All in all, I does start to seem artificially drawn out, but that doesn’t hit me until later. It’s got more to do with the extra episodes added late to S3, I think (which are also some of the best, IMHO – so I’m not complaining) which put off what we already knew was inevitable.

        It’s Leonard, btw! TBBT has an interesting problem much like Chuck‘s writ large. They got Howard and Bernie together, and finally, Leonard and Penny. Sheldon and Amy are solid in the weirdest, funniest way (I’ve been thoroughly enjoying that “romance”) and now finally, it looks like Raj gets his turn with Lucy. I’m liking that pairing too. But what will they do next? They’re out of characters! 😉

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, I think that you’re making my point better than you may realize.

        I’m using a harsh word, dishonest. I get that it might stick in some craws. 🙂 But I’m using it intentionally. And your description of Sarah’s feelings in the beginning of Ring is a perfect example.

        They had just sold us the powerful scene of Sarah whispering to Chuck, ‘take off your watch.”

        Agent Walker knew full well what she was doing, better than anybody. She was openly committing treason. She was making a life choice. And it was totally symbolic. Sarah loved Chuck and his well being now meant more to her than her duty as Agent Walker. That’s what made the scene so powerful. Even Chuck realized it was treason. Sarah even told Chuck that. “We can’t go back. That’s why we ditched the car.” Agent Walker was preparing to go on the run… forever. When they got caught and were in the cell, she even teased him about it.

        So the dishonesty was selling us that powerful scene but having it have absolutely no long term story impact. The very next day, there were zero consequenses to her treasonus acts and Sarah’s mind set was exactly where it was prior. She was back to the Agent Walker only to have her make that same exact decision in the next episode when she shook her head at Bryce.

        Now you can argue that the episodes were entertaining… and that is enough to overlook some things. Ok, I might tend to agree to a point. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t dishonest.

      • atcDave says:

        As I said above, I think the problem is its often different viewers who want to watch the pursuit part of a relationship, vs those of us who would rather see the loving and maturing part of it. And that does make the transition part of it hard from a pure promotion/ratings perspective. When the relationship changes form it will cause changes in the viewership. But count me among the viewers who would prefer to see the couple happy together and DOING THINGS together. Almost regardless of the show. My patience with wt/wt varies with the exact show (2 1/2 years is an irrelevant measure; every show, relationship and pace is different). But the current formula is clearly to take wt/wt BEYOND my breaking point. I actually haven’t watched any of the shows you mention, but Castle is a great comparison. The wt/wt went about a season too long even though the chemistry of the leads is good, and I think the show is measurably better now that they are together than it was the last season or so when they weren’t.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Guys I’m gonna shock you and agree, at least in part. The things that were wrong with Chuck are things that are wrong with TV in general. The reason Chuck stands out is because it was able to overcome those limitations and problems so consistently, and that’s why I don’t blame those problems on the Chuck family. More often they overcame those problems than were limited by them.

      Bill I have answers to some of those questions if they aren’t rhetorical. Or if you’d like to stick around and read my thoughts as we go through season 3 you might see those things from a different perspective, but I won’t post my thoughts here in the interests of preventing a deepening of the present Chuckwin’s Law outbreak.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay Ernie. I’m going to shock you right back and say that I mostly agree with you. I think that our only differences are degree.

        The story problems didn’t start in S3. What happened in S3 is they stopped being able to overcome them by the power of the scenes. I didn’t like Chuck in Beard, so his epiphany made me angry at him rather than feeling empathy for him..

        Chuck told Sarah in Breakup (when she appeared to be willing to give the idea of a romance an honest thought) that she would never be normal enough for him. Then in the very next scene (not literally 😉 ) he’s pining for her again.

        They spend a lovely bonding moment and the very next scene he’s listening to a Jill mix tape and pining for his ex. WTH?

        Lot’s of examples like that where their storytelling was dishonest (a pretty harsh word) but the power of the scenes made us overlook it.

        IMO, my willingness to overlook ended in S3. I didn’t like them or empathise with them. I felt manipulated by a dishonest story and really kept watching out of loyalty more than anything.

        Not to say there weren’t parts of S3 that I liked. There were. Three Words we’ve already talked about. But it was destroyed by what came after.

      • JJ says:

        “Chuck told Sarah in Breakup (when she appeared to be willing to give the idea of a romance an honest thought) that she would never be normal enough for him. Then in the very next scene (not literally ) he’s pining for her again.”

        I don’t think this is unrealistic. It’s possible to have strong feelings for someone and at the same time think a relationship with them would be unsustainable in the long run for various reasons. I’ve been in similar situations, minus the exciting spy stuff. 😉

      • JJ says:

        Maybe I’m forgetting something, but I don’t think it’s until Santa Claus that we see Chuck making overtures for a real relationship with her again. Of course at least part of him always wants it, but for several episodes he doesn’t really make many obvious or strong gestures.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well the point of that scene was that Chuck meant it as you are far too extraordinary for me to ever hope to be enough for you, not knowing how deeply rooted and painful Sarah’s issues with “normal” were and how painful hearing that from Chuck was because of that.

        I thought it was one of their better done miscommunication scenes where each character takes something different from the talk, but it seems a lot of people didn’t see the subtext I saw.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think i saw it differently (big surprise, huh? 🙂 ). I saw it as Chuck trying to protect Sarah. Bryce was telling him that her emotions were going to make her unsafe.

        But his reasons aren’t the point. I’m not arguing that the characters make decisions I don’t agree with. That’s a story teller’s perogative. What I’m arguing is that, whatever his thought process, it didn’t last ten minutes before he was back pursuing her. It was simply a way to reset the relationship and had no story consequenses.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually thought Breakup was one of the better handled “won’t they” swings, and one of the few that remains a favorite episode of mine.
        As Bill indicates, my patience with a “negative” story twist is far greater when I actually like the way the issue is handled and can buy into the rationale. And I think a lot of different things were going on; Chuck was trying to protect Sarah, and happened to hit too close to home and seemed to really hurt her. But it worked for me. Just like when S3 rolls around, I would have preferred to see Chuck and Sarah as a real couple (even at that early date, yes, I’m a ‘shipper!); but that time I completely bought into the twist and even enjoyed the scene.

        As JJ mentioned, the next time Chuck made an overt move for her was in Santa Claus. But it was clear to us viewers how he felt for her right away in Cougars (okay, really even from the last scene of Breakup!). And that sums up the basic tension of the UST until Colonel.

      • BillAtWork says:

        One of the most overtly romantic scenes of the series was in Cougers. “As much as you don’t think so, I know who you are… the kind of girl that I’d like to share a cheeseburger with.” Is anybody going to say that wasn’t an ILY surrogate?

        In Tom Sawyer what was Sarah telling him when she told him to make a wish? What did he wish for? They didn’t tell us, so it’s open for spin. But I think the impression they were leading us toward really isn’t that debatable. Was that a couple who had decided that they would never be together? Or one who was hoping the issues would work out?

        The next scene (Ernie, I’m pretty sure that this is literally Chuck is listening to a Jill mix tape and clearly pining for her. Huh?

        In the Jill arc, wasn’t Sarah’s heart breaking as she watched them together? Didn’t your heart break for her when she was watching them on survelience?

        In Sensei didn’t Sarah tasitly admit to Casey that she loved Chuck by refusing to deny it? BTW, the chocolate and peanut butter metaphor was one of the best of the series, lol.

        In DeLorean they were both looking for reinforcement from Dad that he bought them as a couple. They were both (Sarah maybe even more so) beaming when dad gave the relationship the thumbs up. When Dad told Chuck to take care of her, what did he mean? What did Chuck agree to?

        And all of those are incredibly powerful scenes. Some of the best television I’ve ever seen. Powerful enough that I’m willing to overlook the flaws. Chuck and Sarah pining for each other was captivating. I can see why they would want to keep that feeling going.

        But it just doesn’t work that way. They went to the well once too often. In S3 those scenes stopped being powerful and just became manipulative and annoying.

      • uplink2 says:

        Or Bill it could be stated they were simply completely ignored. To me the ending of Three Words is such an incredibly powerful moment of Sarah pining for Chuck. She is witnessing Chuck tell her directly that he loves her for the first time and did everything for his friends, his family and most importantly for her. But then it’s like it never happened and 3 weeks later he is chasing after the first brunette that gives him the time of day and then flaunts he had sex with her right in front of the woman he told that he loved her 6 week prior. Look at the conversation in Tic Tac and then what happens the very next week and it’s like it simply didn’t happen. It was all so phoney and manipulative as you say.

      • atcDave says:

        I think saying they plainly loved each other, and they thought they had a future together are two different issues. In Breakup Chuck claimed they had no future, but they both remained in love. I thought that was an important and well played distinction. It makes for a bittersweet chapter in the story when they both want what they can’t have. I think the bracelet in Santa Claus really is the next time Chuck thinks it might be worth trying again. And of course that leads to a lot of ups and downs until Colonel (the end of what I consider reasonable wt/wt).
        It also means I’m open to tons of alternate takes on the situation (like say, fan fiction) where they decide its worth trying for something real, well really at any point in time. By Sarah’s own admission, she loved Chuck from the beginning. So it’s not hard for me to imagine a slightly different turn of events or decisions leading to a real romance at ANY point from the Pilot on.

        Of course that’s also the very thing that makes the triangles in particular so unpalatable to me. They just scream “waste of time” from Lou through Shaw. Now I can talk myself into accepting some of the issues leading to them in the first two seasons, especially when exes are involved. Jill in particular seems to embody some of what Chuck seems to think he’s missing. And although I don’t really care the whole “Chuck pining for Jill” stuff, I can believe he misses a time when life seemed simpler. And since I particularly like how that arc plays out, I’m not going to let that particular issue bother me.
        But no doubt, when I’m less pleased with how a bad turn plays out (a bad situation snowballs and/or rings false) I’m far less likely to be accepting of any part of it or its place in the big picture.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink let’s save that discussion for another time and place. You’re hitting on things that get me so angry I see red, but now is not the time.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        OK, I want to put to rest this myth that Chuck flaunts having sex in front of Sarah. Chuck merely enters castle happy and bearing doughnuts. Shaw asks Casey what’s up with Chuck, Casey tells Shaw he probably got laid which Sarah overhears. The scene is shot so that it appears Chuck doesn’t even hear the conversation.

        You don’t have to make it worse to dislike it, but the way the scene is often described is inaccurate. Chuck does nothing of the sort unless your standard is Chuck being happy constitutes flaunting.

        I know you’ll tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not interested. I accurately described a scene I’ve watched more than once and watched recently.

      • uplink2 says:

        Sorry Dave. But Ernie he is acting like a 17 year old kid who can’t wait to tell his buddies he is no longer a virgin. It is incredibly immature and insensitive but that is the version of Chuck they were going for in that episode. Chuck the douchebag. Plus it’s only real purpose as everything was with Lou 2.0 (excuse me, Hannah) is to justify Sarah sleeping with Shaw at the end of the episode.

      • JJ says:

        I would take a position in between – I don’t think he’s deliberately rubbing it in Sarah’s face that he slept with Hannah, but he is acting rather immature. We’re not supposed to like his behavior there.

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree with that JJ. I don’t believe it was on purpose, but he was still being kind of a jerk.

  11. Bill says:

    Some thoughts distilled from the foregoing:

    The romance in this show was the most compelling one we ever saw on TV, and by the end of S2 we were all quite heavily invested in it.

    We got to the end of the romantic comedy that was the first two seasons, and just when it seemed that there was going to be an entirely satisfying resolution of the romantic tension, if not the romantic arc, the plot took an inexplicable turn: one of the leads told the other she was moving away, and a few hours later the other obtained superhero powers.

    So, we patiently waited for S3 to come along, hoping to see the resolution of the romance we had been denied at the end of S2. Instead, we saw what looked like a rather dark sequel to the almost perfect but ultimately flawed romantic comedy that we had just watched. This sequel was only redeemed, if at all, by the fact that after much ado, nearly all of which amounted to nothing, the romantic leads finally expressed what we already knew (or thought we knew) for a long while: that they loved each other and wanted to be together.

    The recurring outbreak of Chuckwin’s Law during this re-watch tells me that we haven’t gotten over the fact that after nearly two seasons of emotional investment, we were told it was real in Colonel, and believed that it was, only to be told the very next day (in Chuck time) that maybe it wasn’t.

  12. lappers84 says:

    Personally I don’t blame CF quite that much for the mess of 3.0, although clearly he had some input – but to me this was more of a JS driven plotline. Fedak was all into the big reunion in Paris, so of course they had to work backwards with a small budget and a tight production schedule.

    • atcDave says:

      Without really knowing I can only guess; but yeah I think the most troublesome parts of S3 were JS’ doing. But the issues I have with the finale are all CF.

  13. First Impression says:

    Bliss – the only way to describe Chuck and Sarah’s good morning to each other. 

    So many other things are ‘nailed’ in this show: Casey nails Chuck’s photo, Sarah nails Casey through the bathroom window, Casey nails a Fulcrum’s agent with a radiator, Devon nails Casey with a Reagan figurine, Sarah nails Casey with a kick to the back of the head, Casey nails the glass table with his body, …Casey was rather busy.

    During the showdown in the parking lot, Casey asked Sarah, “How far do you think your gonna get?” A typical response would have been for her to remain silent, but there was no hesitation as she said,”Till we rescue Chuck’s dad.”  What then?  Rescue Chuck’s dad, then go to jail?  Rescue Chuck’s dad, then run?  Die while attempting to rescue Chuck’s dad? 

    More insight came after the 12AMTRON message with Chuck pleading for Casey to turn back. Casey delivered the most crushing line uttered since Sarah told Chuck she didn’t see a future for them in ‘The Truth’.  Casey said, “I don’t care.”  And the reason for Casey’s response was deeper than I first realized. 
    Chuck:  Col Casey huh?  Now I get it.  Now I understand why you would betray your own team.  Casey:  I’d never betray my team. You went AWOL!  YOU BETRAYED ME!  Don’t you ever forget that!
    Once reunited (sans group hug), Casey showed he would never betray his team.  Under heavy fire, while carrying Chuck, Casey led Sarah and Orion to safety.  

    By the numbers:
    5 ‘Stay in the car’ (Spoken 3 times by Sarah and 2 times by Casey)
    3 ‘I don’t care.’ (Spoken by Casey, Chuck and Lester)
    3  crucial mistakes (tailed, firepower, didn’t ask me)
    3  blows to Casey’s head (Sarah through window, Devon with Reagan, Sarah’s kick)
    1 ‘This will show them whose really in charge’  (Jeffster setting the explosive charge). Funny that Chuck and Sarah were about to share another kiss when the power grid was blown out.  I’m sure that alone could have done it.  😉

    Devon, Orion, reverse Intersect, freedom, Ellie, dad, sharp dressed man, electric blue dress, warm up the Vic, holding hands, Roark.

    If the series had ended here, I would have had no complaints.

    • atcDave says:

      I think this is easily the most popular episode from the first iteration of the show (through 2.22). It’s jam packed and fun all the way through.

      • duckman says:

        I remember thinking during this episode “I hope this is as dark as the show ever goes”. Guess I should’ve stopped right there.

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21) | Chuck This

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