Chuck vs The Ring (2.22)

Well we’ve made to the second season finale.  The big celebration of Ellie and Devon’s wedding is the featured theme.  We will also see the end of one foe and be introduced to a new one.  And there will be plenty of action, drama, humor and a surprise cliffhanger involved too.  After the jump, we’ll look at Chuck vs The Ring.

Ring always seems to score well on episode rankings.  It certainly is packed with action and excitement.  And it contains two of my all time favorite musical montages (the weddings).  But a couple of real stinker scenes and the “I know Kung Fu” ending lower this to an average episode for me.  And anything ending with “to be continued…” as a season, and possible series finale gets downright horrible marks in my book.  And of course so much of the legacy of this episode is now tied to S3, I found myself not really enjoying this re-watch much.  And that did surprise me a little.

I hadn’t watched this episode since July of 2009, and I had thought it might be fun to see again. Some scenes certainly were as much fun as ever.  The first wedding, the Jeffster montage, is as much fun as television can ever be.  The song is great, the action is a blast, right through to the sprinklers at the end.  The scenes between the weddings are quite fun too; I love Chuck’s resolution to make this right for his sister.  And of course Sarah’s reaction to this is beautiful.  Then the second wedding on the beach; wonderful music again, a rather frightening overlay of Roark’s assassination, and Sarah’s incredible decision that something was more important than her job…  epic, beautiful moment.

But the problems with this episode are serious too.  Sarah rejecting Chuck’s vacation plans just feels false.  As I’ve said before, I can convince myself she accepted the assignment out of sense of duty and habit.  This is Sarah who is “nothing but a spy” and changes will come hard for her.  But this scene badly undoes what had been so special the week before in Colonel.  This is a short term reset just to get to the big dramatic moment on the beach.  Perhaps, if that moment had stuck I would be more forgiving and willing to accept this scene as I described.  But it won’t stick.  This scene is a step down from the heights of Colonel, and after a very long break, Chuck will return even further down yet, in the depths of misery.  Whatever the writers were thinking, they weren’t thinking of this viewer.  This rubs me wrong in nearly every way.

Last week I mentioned how Colonel and Honeymooners bookend off a section I consider a wholly different show.  Well, Ring and Other Guy are sort of the stepping stones into that quagmire.  Both are good episodes in their own right; fun, exciting, and satisfying if I don’t think too much about them.  But Ring suffers worse than Other Guy because its the step down.  We’re entering a very dark chapter.  One I have no interest in.  Colonel and Honeymooners show how perfect this show can be.  In hindsight, Honeymooners is the far better episode for me, because of only good things ahead.  But I think both episodes highlight the horrible decisions made about show direction for the main arc of S3.  What a tragedy it would have been if that was the end we all thought it was!  One of the best pairings of the small screen never would have reached their potential.  Now in a way, its time to let this go.  We did get two awesome seasons of Chuck afterwards.  We did get to see Charah mature, and become a true power couple.  I will always treasure the final incarnation of this show.  But that doesn’t help me appreciate where we’re going next any better.  Chuck is entering a dark season.

On a completely separate issue, I was not really overjoyed with the new Intersect either.  At the time this episode first ran, this was a much smaller issue.  I simply found the end a bit cheesy, even for Chuck.  It could have been fun.  But I think I was always less enamored of the Intersect story than many fans.  To me, it was really only a mechanism to draw Chuck into the spy world.  In fact, I’ll say as far as the Intersect goes, mid-season five was my favorite stretch of time.  I think giving Chuck super powers was just too over the top.  I preferred the normal guy in a dangerous world sort of story.  From here on out I will relate to Chuck far less than I did in these first two seasons.  Especially when Chuck starts making disastrously stupid decisions in season three.  The 2.0 has no direct bearing on that issue, except that I was not thrilled with the idea from the start.  Perhaps had it been more fun; and had more entertaining malfunctions (like it did in Operation Awesome) I would feel differently.  But it was too often the Kung Fu crutch.  It didn’t so much do different things as much as it made Chuck one of the boys.  And I liked it better when Chuck was different, and smart.

I remember well a few days after the episode first ran one of my best friends said to me, “I think they need some new writers.”  I didn’t agree with him at the time.  But knowing what I know now, I think the original team was spent.  The show would be revitalized when new blood came on board late S3 and Chris Fedak took over as the primary show runner in S4.  Too bad that didn’t happen 13 episodes sooner.

And that’s the end of me on these posts for a while.  I may have a few comments in the weeks ahead, but I expect to mostly avoid these posts.  I have no stomach for the Misery Arc.  Starting this Tuesday with a “Between the Seasons” post I will do a series of alternate posts for twelve weeks.  All are welcome to read and participate; but especially those who, like me, can’t bear to watch the coming episodes, I will try to put up some fun material.  A recurring theme will be season three alternates, or “what we wish had happened” that will feature the huge variety of season three inspired fan fiction as well as some space for our own musings and wishes. I think we can keep this fun, until we return to re-watches of our favorite show in June.

~ Dave

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There are deeper shows on TV, more complex shows, shows with tighter plot logic, possibly even better comedies … but none features as much pure, concentrated fun as “Chuck.” It’s overflowing with joy,

–Alan Sepinwal, from his review of Chuck Versus The Ring

I’ll start with a disclaimer. I like Chuck Versus The Ring more than Chuck Versus The Colonel, awesome as that episode is. Ring is every bit as jam packed with awesomeness as Colonel, but how can you top Jeffster’s wedding performance as the soundtrack to a reception hall shoot-out that culminates in a special forces team parachuting in to save the day. Well you can come close with “Christmas TV” playing for the second wedding inter-cut with Miles the traitor first shooting Ted Rourke then stalking Casey in Castle.

Second disclaimer, some of you won’t like this post (or at least my part), so I’ll say this, criticize my arguments if you feel the need, I’m not going to declare a Chuckwin’s law this time, but I’m not going to participate.  This post is for people who want to re-watch and re-consider, not for those who want to re-air grievances, and it isn’t to anger those with grievances either, so not reading this post if you have a certain point of view is a valid option, one I’d endorse.

Those disclaimers out of the way I just have to start by saying there is too much Chucky goodness in this episode to not mention at least some of the highlights for me.

Two, that’s right, two of Chuck’s best ever montages.

Jeffster. Nuff said

“You rang.”

Casey as a wedding planner.

Ellie’s confusion as an out of breath Chuck and Sarah appear in the corridor. Straightening clothes.

“Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian ruin your wedding?”

Ellie’s bridezilla moment scattering her bridesmaids, then her meditating to calm down.

Ellie in her wedding dress, veil and all, drinking champagne in the bathtub.

Anna Wu’s face as Jeffster takes the stage.  Big Mike’s too.

“I dunno, but this wedding just got good.”

Three Rounds and a Sound, Chuck and Sarah’s dance (more on that later)

Now I could go on forever on everything great about this episode, but what I am going to concentrate on is the way this episode takes us from “It is real.” to “I know Kung-Fu.”  The transition from season 2 to season 3 seems abrupt to a lot of people, and I’ll admit it is in many ways.  But the seeds of that sea-change have been sown since Chuck Versus The Suburbs, and really took off in Chuck Versus The Predator.  But for the purposes of this discussion I’ll start with the event many consider the culmination, or perhaps consummation of Chuck and Sarah’s love story.

Barstow was real, as they confirmed at the end of Chuck Versus The Colonel, but it wasn’t the end of a story, it was the beginning of one. Chuck has for two seasons intentionally left open a few things about Chuck and Sarah, at least from Chuck and Sarah’s point of view. One is how confident can Chuck be about Sarah’s feelings for him. Her job is to get him to do as she tells him, and how much of what he loves about Sarah is real, and how much is the job? He’s been painfully reminded on many occasions that she has limits as to how well she’ll let him know her, and it has to make him wonder. Yes, we know how she feels, but accept the premise that Chuck doesn’t. He suspects, he just doesn’t know, and those moments of doubt creep in at moments like the end of Seduction when Chuck shows up at Sarah’s to find Bryce apparently in residence, or Suburbs, when he realizes that there really is no future for them outside what they have now. And he sees firsthand the conflicting loyalties she deals with in episodes like Predator, Pink Slip and Dream Job. Another ambiguous topic, a two-fer actually is does Sarah love Chuck for who he is, or for what he represents, and is part of it the fact that Sarah tends to fall for the guys she works with? This is something we’ll see Sarah struggle with next season, but you can see a few seeds of that in Chuck Versus The Suburbs. Sarah dismissed Chuck from playing house with her after the cougar lady incident, yet she still looks longingly around as they close out the house. Was it the life with Chuck she imagined, or just a normal life that she’d had for a few days she was missing?  Yes, we know it mostly has to do with Chuck, but Sarah must be wondering a bit if part of her attraction is what he gives her, that feeling she could be a normal girl with a boyfriend, and is that really true?  In short the show has repeatedly given the characters reason for them to doubt the depth and reality of their own and the others feelings.

Barstow was the beginning of the process of answering those questions and putting them to rest. It is a moment out of time for them, a glimpse, like we’ve seen before, of what their lives could be like if they could hide away from their world. And while we see their literal awakening to the possibilities freed from 24/7 surveillance and their duties, we shouldn’t forget that that world is still out there watching, waiting and stalking them in the form of Vincent and Casey. It is real. The feelings are real and the love is real, Chuck Versus The Colonel answers that. But could they free themselves from their world and find a way to be together? That is the question Chuck Versus The Ring and season 3 asks.  There was a reason they didn’t actually consummate their relationship in Barstow, it was TPTB telling us they weren’t quite there yet.

They’ve taken their first real steps toward each other, not their last.

Structurally The Ring is almost two episodes. I know it sometimes feels to me as if it really is two episodes. By the time Ellie and Devon have their second wedding on the beach it feels like we’re nearing the end, but in reality we’re only slightly more than half-way through.

The episode starts by giving Chuck everything he’s ever wanted, the intersect out, the normal life free of the Buy More, the girl of his dreams and a substantial sum of money to start his new life free from government servitude. Then it proceeds to show him how it can all be taken from him by that secret world and the people who inhabit it that most of his friends and family are blissfully unaware of, whether he’s a spy or not.

The first thing to be pulled away from Chuck is Sarah. And this is Sarah’s story too, much as the episode focuses on Chuck. Sarah is a spy and doesn’t know how to be anything else, how can she fit in his newly normal world? She has duty and orders and a calling, but she’s recently found love … how does that fit into her life? It is clear from the beginning that she is unsure it can. The hopeful reaction to Chuck being offered a job with her team, the inevitable letdown as Chuck offers only a vacation to get to know each other outside the spy life. Sarah is on autopilot most of the show, only breaking out of her spy-mode and seeing the possibilities in the world she’s lived in for 2 years when she sees how far Chuck will go for those he loves. Maybe there is a chance for her after all? But Sarah sees that life as hers for the taking when in truth she has to fight for it every bit as hard as Chuck had to fight to get to where he is now.

Next up is Chuck’s family, personified by Ted Roark’s threat to kill Ellie if he doesn’t get the intersect. Chuck has to rely on everyone from Jeffster to Casey to save his sister and the other guests, but it comes at a terrible cost. He’s ruined the most important day of her life, and she may never forgive him.  Spy or not his relationship with his sister may be irreparably damaged.  Stephen understands, and Chuck is starting to.

This is the episode’s pivot point. Chuck has relied on his dad and Bryce and Sarah and Casey to keep him and his family safe. Chuck finally steps up to be the protector and hero for his sister, relying on his old team for help. It is the first of two hero moments for Chuck in this episode. This one is about his family, Ellie in particular, and being the support as opposed to the one needing it. It started when he set off on his quest to re-unite what was left of their family for her wedding and culminates on the beach where both he and their dad give away the bride. We’re given to believe that in the process of throwing Ellie her dream wedding Chuck has given up that nest-egg that was to provide him or he and Sarah a fresh start. This tidbit is more important than some might believe. It provides the context for Chuck’s next hero moment.

Inter-cut with that personal triumph on the beach is the danger to his family and friends still lurking out there. Casey has saved Chuck once a week, for which he is grateful, but has time and again refused the call to become other than a reluctant hero. Chuck is about to see that the cost of his refusal is others sacrifice. The battle must be fought, and if not by him, then by someone else. Sarah for instance. Bryce for another.

As usual it’s a B-plot that gives additional context to Chuck’s upcoming decision.

Morgan: I don’t know, man. This whole… “making your dreams come true thing” is hard.

Morgan: And the bigger the dream, the harder it gets.

Morgan: You know, on one side, you know, the girl you love. And then on the other, life as you know it. It’s just, you know, friends and family, and job you can’t stand.

Morgan: I don’t know, man. I should just go with Anna, right? But then I, uh… I’m over-thinking this, aren’t I?

Chuck: Yeah, yeah, you are. Go with your heart, buddy. Our brains only screw things up.

Chuck finally gets that slow dance with his date, to one of my absolutely favorite Chuck songs. I’m not usually one for posting lyrics , their interpretation is often an iffy thing, but they just fit this situation so perfectly.

“3 Rounds And A Sound”

They’re playing our song
They’re playing our song
Can you see the lights?
Can you hear the hum,
of our song?

I hope they get it right
I hope we dance tonight
Before we, get it wrong

And the seasons
Will change us new
But you’re the best I’ve known
and you know me
I could not be stuck on you
If it weren’t true

I was swimming
My eyes were dark
’til you woke me
And told me that opening
is just the start
It was

Now I see you, ’til kingdom come
You’re the one I want
to see me for all
the stupid shit I’ve done

Soil and six feet under,
Kept just like we were
Before you knew you’d know me
and you know me

Blooming up from the ground
3 rounds and a sound
Like whispering “you know me.
You know me.”

So this was our song
This was our song.
I still see the lights
I can see them

And the crisscross
Of what is true, won’t get to us
‘Cause you know me-
I could not give up on you…

And the fog of
what is right
Won’t cover us
’cause you know me-
I could not give up a fight…

Soil and six feet under
(Crisscross of what is true, won’t get to us)
Kept just like we were
(Cause you know me. I could not give up on you)
Before you knew you’d know me
(But you feel the truth)
And you know me

Blooming up from the ground
(And the fog of what is right won’t cover us)
3 rounds and a sound
(Cause you know me, I could not give up a fight)
Like whispering “you know me
(But you feel right)
You know me.”

Chuck and Sarah are dancing, each knowing their lives would never be the same having known each other. Each has awakened something in the other, something that was dead, but bloomed in each others presence, yet neither knows what the outcome of that awakening will be. Each hopes it will be something they share with each other but each is having trouble seeing it through, and the final verses speak to the coming conflict. Or at least the hope they can escape the fog of what is right, and the confidence they wouldn’t give up on each other. Chuck still thinks Sarah needs to be a spy and is leaving, so he does what he can to let her go. He now understands that being a hero is a choice, and often a tough one that requires a selflessness and sacrifice he doesn’t think he possesses. He wants more.

Sarah for her part has made a decision, a tough one. Being a spy isn’t enough for her anymore, but it will require a sacrifice on her part. She’ll be leaving the only life she’s known and will be depending on Chuck like never before. Sarah Walker, vulnerable. It’s no wonder she’s having trouble getting up the courage to say it, especially after Chuck’s vacation offer earlier in the day.

It is a poignant and beautiful moment, this episode’s Barstow. It is a moment out of time for them, a moment to contemplate how things could be different for them, but all the while that the secret war they are still a part of is sending events spiraling out of their control.

Chuck: You belong out there, saving the world.

I’m just… I’m just not that guy.

Sarah: How many times do you have to be a hero to realize that you are that guy?

Chuck: But I want more, Sarah. I want a life. I want a real life.

More and more I look at that scene and see Sarah asking Chuck to join her world one last time, or at least I see it as Chuck seeing it that way. One last time he tries to back out, even though he thinks it will cost him Sarah. In the spy world they could never build anything real, or so he thinks, and he’d still be lying to his sister and his friends, still doesn’t think himself worthy. Still isn’t willing to sacrifice the life he knows for an uncertain future and the girl he loves. He’s still thinking with his brain, until Sarah is torn away one last time.

This is where Chuck has decided to join Sarah in her world. When duty called she didn’t hesitate, and from now on neither would he. I want to go briefly back to where this arc started, what propelled Chuck into his search for Orion and set the team on the chaotic path that ends in an intersect room.

Chuck: You can’t just go run off and be the hero all the time.

Cole: It’s not about wanting to be a hero, Chuck. It’s about needing to be.

In that intersect room Chuck is still looking for someone other than him to re-join the fight, but Bryce is dying, and there will only be Chuck left to help his team. Bryce infuses Chuck with one last bit of doubt. He’s Bryce, it’s what he does. Sarah wasn’t going to come with him.

Why does he do it? He has to. I think it is because he finally starts thinking with his heart. Most of the flashbacks are of all the times he refused to answer the call to be a hero, but the last is certainly the most important. Throughout the series Sarah has never expressed any desire for Chuck to be a spy. She’s certainly asked him to do spy-ish things, but always in the context that when your time is done you’ll have the life you deserve, a normal one. Until that dance.

It is the one and only time Sarah tells him you could be a part of my world. You could join me, even if inadvertently. And so he does. Each of our heroes is on a new trajectory from when we first met them. Chuck is now a true hero, not a reluctant one. Real heroism isn’t easy. It requires real selflessness and sacrifice, and he is now willing to face that. Sarah is no longer an island, she needs love and other people in her life, and that requires opening up and making yourself vulnerable to heartbreak. They’ve each taken their first tentative steps into a new world, and while their paths seem to diverge, they are the paths each needs to follow for a time.

~ Ernie

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All The Questions

Rick: [knocks. the door opens] Where’s Josh?

Kate: He’s in Africa, saving the world.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy Chuck vs. The Ring, even after more viewings than I can count. It may not be your favorite – or even mine. But it’s always better than I remember.

The episode starts with a slightly ticked off Chuck and Casey marching defiantly into Emmett’s office. I recognize that attitude. I had it once, after a particularly important day at work when my team and I had to give a demonstration of the product. It was important. All week there were no jokes, no smiles, and we worked with determination to cover all the bases, and it went fantastically. But that’s not the point.

As it happened, I had been in the market for a new car, and in fact, had been doing my homework for about a month. I felt prepared. The day of that demo, right after it was finished, I decided to march into the dealership just like Chuck and Casey marched into the Buy More. The sales man never knew what hit him. What that focused week did to my attitude was the point.

[Heh! FYI, I ended up paying exactly what I wanted to pay for a new sports car (his costs plus a reasonable commission, one that I calculated – not him), and I already had my financing in hand. Bazinga!]

Chuck vs. The Ring is like that all the way through. There are big answers, bigger questions and make no mistake – Chuck is resisting all the while. I should have noticed sooner that Chuck doesn’t really like change, and boy, has he been through a lot of changes. Chuck’s told us often he’d rather be safe in his normal life and safe in the Buy More – at least, he would up to now. Chuck may be way past the Buy More, but how much does he really like change? Not much.

So, no. He’s not going to join the CIA. He’s just Chuck Bartowski, not a hero.

Isn’t Chuck going to join me in the CIA?

Isn’t Chuck going to join me in the CIA?

Sarah isn’t a big fan of change herself. When Chuck decides to take his pay-packet and go home, it’s almost like she’s taken by surprise. The thought bubble over her head is “Isn’t Chuck going to join me in the CIA?” The next frame has her thought bubble saying “I guess not.” And then Bryce Larkin, hero, walks in. Don’t know about you, but I see something like turmoil and confusion in her eyes.

I felt a knot in my stomach too when Bryce walks into Castle. But honestly, I’m going to forgive Sarah for her second thoughts about Chuck, if that’s what she’s having. It wasn’t that she was going back to her former partner; it’s just that she wasn’t comfortable with all the changes. And for her, falling in love was a big change.

Still, Sarah is in love with Chuck and she knows it. The spy from DC doesn’t exactly want to leave him for Bryce any more than he wants to leave her. She’s just – on the edge of a cliff, facing the abyss. It’s always a little easier to continue the way she’s always been – Agent Walker. If only she had a reason to turn around and choose Chuck. A definite signal. Now if he was to propose…

Chuck: What I’m getting at here is, Sarah Walker, will you do me the honor – of taking a vacation with me?

Wrong proposal, Chuck. Maybe Sarah’s been asking herself what she wants too and a vacation ain’t it.

In the meantime, Ellie is getting ready to be married. Just like Chuck always imagined being a spy, sort of, Ellie always imagined a white wedding. But the reality, well, that’s something else.

Ellie: If it were up to me, I’d have a small ceremony on the beach, sand between my toes, people I love.

Everybody’s thinking about what they want and a little afraid to go after it.

You look like a real spy.

You look like a real spy.

So exactly, what are Chuck’s dreams? Whatever they are, they include Sarah. Chuck may not be one, but at least he looks like a real spy. For her part, Sarah looks like a real bridesmaid. If they are asking themselves who they really are, Chuck is answering “No, I’m only a normal guy.” Sarah is answering “I am nothing but a spy.” They both think anything else is kidding themselves.

All the soul searching is put off when Ted Roark crashed the party, threatening to kill everyone – especially Ellie. But the questions are not so easily abandoned. You see, the person who faces Ted Roark isn’t a spy, and he isn’t The Intersect. It’s Chuck Bartowski, and you’ll forgive me thinking that he seems more than “just a guy.”

You remember the stall. Chuck’s clever message to Sarah by telling Morgan he forgot the rings – when she full-well knows he hadn’t. Jeffster’s performance – Sarah, Stephen and Bryce fighting Roark with the help of Casey’s squadron. You may remember how formally nerd-herd Chuck stood up to Roark and his armed men, threatening him back if he touches anything. Is this something a normal guy would do? Of course not.

Still, it’s hard to have a wedding when the remnants of Fulcrum are determined to wreck it. It’s even harder when Jeffster is providing the entertainment.

Woodie: Son? Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian wreck your wedding?

It’s also very Chuck-like to make us laugh when we’re at the lowest point of an episode. Chuck is despondent, and then something that would never occur to a “normal guy” occurs to him. That pay packet he got from the CIA is just enough to cover the cost of the special forces team as they set up a wedding on the beach for Chuck’s sister.

Yes, Chuck’s explanation to Ellie is lame – but that’s not as important as the fact that he takes the blame from Morgan, Jeff and Lester, and it’s nowhere near as important as the wedding Ellie does have, on the beach, with loved ones, given away by both Stephen and Chuck. What’s also very Chuck-like is the way we see everyone’s story in the music they play, and maybe it’s because I’m an old folkie, it causes me to tear up. That’s okay. By the end of the song, I’m ready to cheer too.

Bryce: [in Sarah’s ear-piece] Sarah? You’re not coming with me, are you?
Sarah: [silently nods ‘no’]

Sarah never was one for words. Her motions and her expression are always eloquently subtle. She prefers to stay with the non-intersected nerd now.

Miles, meet Ted Roark.

Miles, meet Ted Roark.

Sarah’s not the only one here who’s silently eloquent.vlcsnap-2013-03-15-12h36m27s52

Part I of Chuck’s story is clearly done. But there are some threads left over. Who is Miles working for, for instance. But before we start counting those leftovers, the elephant in the room is still the big pile of questions.

Morgan: You know, on one side, the girl you love and then on the other, life as you know it. I’m over-thinking this, aren’t I?

Chuck: Yeah. Yeah, you are. Go with your heart, buddy. Our brains only screw things up.

Chuck and Sarah are not only asking what they want to do next, they are each wondering about the other’s desires too. Sarah thinks Chuck wants to go back to being “normal”, Chuck thinks Sarah wants to continue being Agent Walker. Neither is entirely correct.

Chuck: Where’s Bryce?

Sarah: Gone. They’re uploading him with a new computer tonight.

Chuck: Off to save the world. I guess both of you are.

Sarah: You wanna dance?

Chuck: You know I do.

Maybe that’s all they want. Just to dance. Nothing more. I’m not sure either wants to save the world with Josh and Bryce – at least, not at this moment. If only they would talk – communicate, tell each other who they really are and what they really want.

Then, they start to do exactly that.

Chuck: You belong out there, saving the world. I’m just… I’m just not that guy.

Sarah: How many times do you have to be a hero to realize that you are that guy?

Chuck: I want more, Sarah. I want a life. I want a real life.

Sarah: Chuck, I don’t want to save the world. I want…

It’s going to be a long time before we hear Sarah finish that sentence because all hell is about to break loose. Stephen flashed.
“He flashed???” the fans squealed. He flashed. Stephen has an Intersect in his head too, and the intel he saw, and it’s implication, is that Bryce is a dead man walking.

Bryce: Bad day to be me.

Epilogue

I can’t do the ending justice. Chuck is once again the new Intersect, but this time by his choice. In those last frantic ten minutes of the season, we start to know what Chuck and Sarah want, but we don’t know who Chuck and Sarah are now. For both of them, and for the fans, it’s happening tremendously fast. The Ring? “Who are you?” Sarah asks.

When the words “To Be Continued” flashed on the screen with a whoosh, I cheered. We all did. It was a leap of faith that all of us were willing to take every bit as much as Chuck wanted to take his.

That was April 27, 2009. Two weeks later we found out that Chuck and our beloved characters were indeed going to return for a third season, but that wasn’t going to happen, we were told, until after the Winter Olympics in March of 2010. Almost eleven full months!

All through that episode, all through that summer and again this week, I had a song going around my head, one that we had heard near the beginning of the first season. It counseled patience then as we waited to see what would happen next, or if we would even have a show. It asked us to stay hopeful as we wait for things to fall into place and it still does today.

So penniless for a dream
I hope I get by today
I want to get to the truth
And learn how to gray

So penniless for a dream
It’s not living in St Tropez
But I wonder if what you wish for
Will fall into place

Du du du du du du dudu du dudu
Fall into Place
X4

I’m struggling just to see
Amount to better ways
What’s possibly meant to be…
Was probably meant for me

It’s never been on a plate
Well it’s never been on a plate
So mother I hope that I
Will fall into place.

– 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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152 Responses to Chuck vs The Ring (2.22)

  1. joe says:

    Ooohhh! Monster post!

  2. Wilf says:

    Wow, there’s a lot to take in here – what a great write-up from all of you. When Sarah said “You are that guy”, I never read it as her wanting Chuck to be that ‘spy guy’ and to join her world. I more saw it as her wanting to join him in his world.

    • lappers84 says:

      I thought that too – but then it makes it even more contrived by asking him to run away with her, away form the spy world. Talk about indecisive.

    • atcDave says:

      That’s how I saw it too guys.

    • Arya's Prayers says:

      I agree but it won’t be the last time that Sarah tries to tell him that many of his insecurities are unfounded:

      “What can I say, I have a type.”
      (…and it’s you, you maddening dumb ass!)

      I’ll save the discussion on what she was trying to accomplish with that quote above for a later time…

      But he’s completely oblivious. It doesn’t help that she’s so damn cryptic but she does tend to hide her heart behind these ‘half-admissions’ that she can easily backpedal away from.

      • lappers84 says:

        That was the point that drove the WT/WT element of the show – Sarah until season 41/2 – 5 was never one to reveal her true feelings and Chuck was always one to misconstrue whatever it was she was trying to say – add to that him constantly putting himself down.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Lappers – it’s not just reluctance to express her feelings though. It’s that she either hedges, is cryptic or otherwise so horrifically, colossally BAD at it when she does try! It would be amusing if it didn’t seem to be at its worst at critical moments!

        You’re right though. If Chuck weren’t so quick to put himself down and/or jump to the worst possible conclusion and then steamroller over whatever else she might want to say (eg “Thanks for coming to the wedding. Good for the cover.”) it wouldn’t have fed the WT/WT quite as much. (Maybe.)

      • joe says:

        What both of you are saying so very true! But then, I’m having a hard time imagining either character doing anything else. Sarah, being erudite and articulate about her feelings? Chuck NOT wearing his heart on his sleeve? I guess that’s why I’m not a FanFic writer – I can’t quite see Sarah, at this point anyway, telling Chuck that she doesn’t want to be a spy anymore. I can’t see Chuck suddenly being secure enough in himself to silently wait for Sarah to work through all the changes she’s undergoing.

        As much as anyone, I was anxious for TPTB to hurry up and get us to that ending we all knew was coming. Not that we wanted it to end – we just wanted to get there ASAP, or, at least, be sure that we would.

        For my money, it took way too long and it came way too soon.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I can agree with the way too long part.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      When Sarah said “You are that guy”, I never read it as her wanting Chuck to be that ‘spy guy’ and to join her world. I more saw it as her wanting to join him in his world.

      Wilf, it is sometimes important to recognize that we have a far broader view of events and what is going on inside their heads than the characters do. If you can drop down and see things from Chuck’s point of view the context can change. We know Sarah is working up her courage to try and change her life, with Chuck’s help, but he doesn’t. While her intent may be just to bolster Chuck’s confidence and make him see himself as she does he is perhaps hearing something very different.

  3. authorguy says:

    Just like Dave, I felt that line about her leaving to be with Bryce was just horribly out of character for that time. My first viewing of these episodes was on DVD and I totally missed that moment the first time. After the show ended I did my own rewatch and that moment floored me. There she is all season 3 complaining about him, when she abandoned him first.
    But they really weren’t ready to be together yet, and anyone who thought they could just step from Barstow onto that train in France is dreaming. Chuck may have finally decided to step up and be that guy, but the Intersect isn’t the way to do it. If being a hero requires sacrifice, then the Intersect is not Chuck’s path to heroism. It’s a crutch, a device that short-circuits his path to true heroism.
    But his fast-forward into the spy world is a marvelous way to highlight to Sarah just how caustic that world is, and make her wonder how much she wants to be in it. She’s used to it, but Chuck is suddenly thrown into it, without any of the shields that extended training would have given him. He has the ability but no experience with the pain of it, no scar tissue of any kind. And there should have been pain, muscles not used to stretching the way he suddenly made them, fingers without callouses suddenly playing the guitar, etc. The skills would have, should have, made him develop those scars on fast-forward too and it’s not something she could have enjoyed seeing.

    • lappers84 says:

      Putting it that way, ignore my previous comment – that makes sense. If we’re to believe that Sarah wanted Chuck to join her in the CIA as an asset, then her sudden change of mind in wanting him to run with her could well have been because he had been thrown into the deep end (much deeper than before) and that clearly scared her.

    • atcDave says:

      Well call me a dreamer then…

      Of course they were ready to be together. Two years together, being in love the whole time. That’s never the same thing as saying they were fully mature. But they both wanted it and were ready. The difficulty is purely practical, it’s about figuring out how to be together and what they’re both going to do. And it’s painfully contrived that no discussion will be had on the issue for a ridiculously long time.

      And Sarah’s “you are that guy” was both praising Chuck’s character and her desire to be with him. Considering she just refused her assignment with Bryce and is telling a chuck she doesn’t want to be a hero and will shortly conspire to run away with him; it has nothing to do with having Chuck enter the CIA. I think she would have liked Chuck joining her team as an analyst very much (at the start of the episode), but that time has passed and she is no longer thinking along those lines.

      • authorguy says:

        Not saying they couldn’t have done it, stepped from Barstow to the train, but without the growth they got in season 3 they wouldn’t have had nearly as much holding them together. I remember a story where a wizard had to get his staff to do a job, and he went through Hell to get it. When he came back he asked, “Why does it have to be so hard?” His mentor said, “You could have claimed your staff at any time, but it may not have been as strong as you needed it to be.” They could have been together at any time, but woulod they have been as strong as they were at the end of S4, no. My complaint with S3 is the execution, not the goal.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I am completely willing to say they weren’t fully mature yet. I think I’ve made that comment a hundred times. But couples mature far better together than they do separately. And really, we never got much of that story (S4 was certainly better in that regard), but that would have been a far more compelling next step to me.

      • joe says:

        Dave, maybe you’ve said it a hundred times, but I think I just recognized it’s importance. Yeah. The most painful thing to watch is the idea that C&S don’t progress – or even go backwards – when they’re apart. I can think of one exception, and even that’s when Chuck has it thrown back in his face as a wake-up call.

  4. resaw says:

    Thank you for your great reviews, guys, although Dave, you probably won’t be surprised to find that I favour Ernie’s and Joe’s observations over yours. It feels like yours is rather negatively coloured by what you know is coming.

    I remember watching this episode for the first time and being absolutely “pumped” about where the show was going to go in season 3 – hoping desperately that it would be renewed. The sci-fi lover in me looked forward to all the potential that was expressed in those final words, “Guys, I know Kung Fu.” Backing up just a bit, I also really appreciated the dilemma Chuck was faced with: download the Intersect again, undoing all that his father had done for him…. But then, in a way the die had already been cast. He had gone to the Intersect base with Casey and Sarah, had found a way into the room where Bryce was. At that that point, it was a do or die situation, and maybe it was a do and die anyway situation, but at least The Ring would not have the Intersect. Chuck was a reluctant hero, but still, his instinct, his fundamental character of wanting to do the right thing, came through.

    Thank you, guys, for the discussion of the *vacation* proposal from Chuck. This really struck me on this re-watch. As intimated above, why was it not something way beyond that? Why not a marriage proposal? Do you really think that Sarah would have accepted (was hoping for) a marriage proposal at that stage? And clearly, by his words Chuck was still too tentative about Sarah to go to that extent. Of course, the writers had a whole season more of will they/won’t they to exploit, but even so.

    Finally, at the dance, what were those words that Sarah was about to say before she was interrupted (again!) by Bartowski senior this time?
    Sarah: “Chuck, I don’t want to save the world. I want…” you?

    Ugh, can’t give up yet. Chuck tells his dad, “I love her” before going off to help her and Casey save Bryce. Is that the first time he uses the “L” word regarding Sarah? He’s confessed to being “crazy” about her, about being willing to die for her, or some variation on the theme, but I think this may be the first time he uses the word. If only he had said it to her.

    I was so looking forward to season 3, as I said above, and although it didn’t start the way I had anticipated (actually, I had no anticipation of how season 3 might unfold; I just was looking forward to its continuation), I liked that there was a problem to resolve, a tension between our protagonists that propelled the story forward.

    I will be following closely in the weeks ahead guys. Thanks again.

    • atcDave says:

      Given the point of this whole re-watch, yes of course, my impression is completely re-shaped by the knowledge of what comes next. Initially I liked the episode, although many of the specific things I took issue with have not changed, only their relative importance. I was cautiously excited about the end on first viewing; I liked the idea of Chuck being more involved in TeamB. I would have loved seeing him as a mastermind/tech guru sort of character. But I was always concerned about the new Intersect. Chuck as a Super Hero did not appeal to me, and I was very fearful that was the direction they were heading.
      But I was active in the save the show campaign, no doubt I wanted more! The blend of action, humor and heart that is Chuck always appealed to me. Sadly the balance of those ingredients would be mangled beyond recognition when the show returned. Not permanently of course, and Chuck will get back to that balance I love.

      Oh I don’t believe Sarah would have said yes to a marriage proposal, but I don’t see anyway Chuck would have actually done that either. It was an ill timed joke. If Chuck hadn’t played with her that way, Sarah might not have spoken so poorly when she opened her mouth. But I’m willing to say at that exact time, they weren’t on the same page and that discussion wasn’t going to end well regardless. I still don’t like the scene.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        “If Chuck hadn’t played with her that way, Sarah might not have spoken so poorly when she opened her mouth.”

        I always felt the same way about that scene, Dave. Logistically, now that Chuck had turned down the analyst offer, Sarah has some things to work out. She was never choosing Bryce over Chuck but by blurting out that “with Bryce” she really kicked the hornet’s nest.

        She MAY have intended to push him to reconsider the analyst job. She hasn’t yet decided that she’s willing to quit entirely – which comes back up numerous times. Even when she shakes her head ‘no’ to Bryce at the wedding it is unclear what her plan is. To go AWOL with Chuck? That’s not consistent with his ‘normal life’. To stay and talk it out with Chuck and reassure him that she’ll come back to him and isn’t leaving with Bryce to ‘be with Bryce’? I think that would get a lukewarm reaction.

        But by blurting out “with Bryce”, Chuck – as he often does – steamrollers over whatever else she may have been working herself up to say.

        But I think the whole “would you do me the honor” bit basically freaked her completely the f out.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I do think getting Chuck to take the analyst job would be Sarah’s plan A. And maybe, if she’d given Chuck some personal assurance first he could have been talked into it. But I think Chuck was pretty strongly oriented towards escape at this point, and it would most likely have been an impasse.
        But I do think, by the time of the wedding, Sarah was ready to just quit. She’d spent most the day thinking about it, and decided love would win over job. Although I don’t believe she’d given any thought to how it would play out.

        And man that’s the story I wanted to see. Obviously, for the show to work, they have to get pulled back into the spy life. But on a scale of 1 to 10; Chuck and Sarah dealing with the impossible demands of the spy life together scores an 11 for me. Being pulled apart by them is more of a zero. So from 3.14 on I’ll be pretty happy. Getting there is the challenge (and one I’m not up to taking through canon).

      • When Chuck turned down the analyst job Beckman offered him I shouted at the TV, “NO! What the HELL are you thinking?!”

        Finally, a chance to be with your gal, no Intersect in your head, with her on the team, doing the nerd stuff you love, and not as a spy. An analyst job, Chuck! With Sarah! *shakes head* Geeeeeeeez, Chuck! You couldn’t expect her to walk away from it all, she wasn’t there yet, not even close.

        For such a smart guy he sure was a blockhead sometimes…

      • atcDave says:

        Angus that was exactly my thought! What a moron!

    • FSL says:

      In hindsight, given how they repeatedly make Chuck up to be the guy with a plan, “vacation” was probably step one of his plan, like the house plan he and Morgan worked on in S5. The “vacation” would probably end with a proposal =)

      But I was very surprised he didn’t accept Beckman’s offer. Did he seriously think Sarah would be around once he’s not part of the team?

      I know the Intersect sort of transformed into a family heritage as the show progresses. But Chuck becoming a spy without the Intersect would have been more of a continuation of the S2 theme.

      • atcDave says:

        I think I would have liked that show a lot (no Intersect), much like mid-S5.

        I have no doubt Chuck would have been more daring if Sarah had agreed to the vacation plan. But yeah, its hard to imagine what he was thinking when he turned down the analyst job.

  5. Arya's Prayers says:

    There are a lot of puzzling things in this episode…

    Did she expect Chuck to go with them to Zurich and did he just throw her into a tailspin by deciding not to?

    I remember thinking at the tine that the ‘marriage-proposal-at-a-wedding’ style vacation invitation probably scared the hell out of her.

    Then she immediately says the wrong thing. Not “I’m leaving in the morning.. ” but the far more damaging “…with Bryce.” I don’t think she was choosing Bryce over Chuck per se but she had to know that Chuck would think that.

    At first I thought Chuck’s “good for the cover” response was overly brutal but then realized what he thought she was saying. Now that she is unencumbered by her duty to protect him her first decision is to go on assignment ‘with Bryce’? Was she making the only decision she thought she could and TRYING to burn bridges?

    Oh how I wish she could have finished her thought when they were dancing!

    When Sarah indicates to Bryce that she’s not going with him it is unclear what that really means. She’s just going to stay in Burbank until they arrest her for being AWOL? Try to quit? She’s chosen Chuck but how will that work?

    Chuck has to wonder if Bryce is just throwing him a bone when he tells Chuck that Sarah wasn’t going to leave. When your rival basically congratulates you as he’s dying, did she choose you or is there just no longer a choice? Sarah’s reaction when she enters the White Room has to muddy the situation further. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have reacted but Chuck watching her scream at the Ring agents not to touch Bryce has to make Chuck think he wasn’t the first choice.

    The download is another oddity. It’s easy to say “He saved them all” but in reality he had no idea about the skill sets in the 2.0. He could just as likely undone all their work protecting him the last two seasons. They would have killed Casey and Sarah and finally had the Human Intersect (although it seems the Rings plans aren’t the same as Fulcrum’s since they order Chuck killed) if it had been the same intersect as before.

    Something I wish they had explored more is that here in the White Room and later in Pink Slip, Chuck is not only able to flash on his Kung Fu skills but it seems unable NOT to when Sarah is threatened.

    I’m curious to see the thoughts here but all-in-all, Sarah’s reactions – at least the ones Chuck sees – make it more understandable that he thinks he’s somehow not enough for her.

    • aerox says:

      The Intersect room was a catch 22, or, well, more like a Kobayashi Maru in this case. That’s the thing that has continuously bugged me in fanfic (that deals with this situation). Let’s look at it this way, if he had done nothing, the result would’ve been the Ring killing Team B, taking the Intersect for themselves and win.

      Option 2: Chuck uploads the Intersect which means the Ring won’t get it in first instant. They either kill or capture Chuck and kill the rest of Team B. (maybe he could put in a plea bargain, that is, Chuck for Sarah and Casey but I doubt the Ring would go for that (and this could actually be a good idea for a fanfic. Chuck in Ring captivity while Sarah and Casey are alive?))

      So in this case, he got lucky as all get out that it involved skills, but either way, the moment he walked into that room and Sarah and Casey got overpowered (which… I mean… really?) he had essentially signed his own death warrant. So what I’m trying to get at, I don’t get the supposed grieve that Sarah gives him (then again, I don’t see said grieve in S3, just a conflicted (and okay, OOC too) Sarah).

      I liked this episode though, despite the fact that I hate how it features the weakest plot device (the ‘sudden’ interruption) and the fact that it seems people have an innate hardship with communicating. I mean, I’ve run around on a psychiatric ward and those people were less emotionally challenged than Chuck and Sarah in this episode. But Roark was good, the wedding was fun, Jeffster was actually on point throughout it, and at the end of the episode, I was hella excited for season 3. Good for me that I could instantly watch that too (all the way up to Cat Squad!) and didn’t have to wait 11 months.

      Sometimes, being slow pays off.

      • aerox says:

        Also, I’d like to add that I find it highly unbelievable that team B has mastered the art of teleportation, so with that said, why the hell didn’t Chuck bring anything up on the ride over. If anything, I’d imagine him going like: “So… what were you about to tell me?”, then Sarah snaps and goes like: “We’re saving Bryce right now, that’s more important,” which would lead to Chuck mulling it over before arriving at the conclusion that it did indeed feature the two of them and it was featuring them in a good way. Which he would, not so subtly, share with her. But instead, that was hand-waved away because… well, I don’t know why.

      • lappers84 says:

        “But instead, that was hand-waved away because… well, I don’t know why.”

        Simple – plot device.

      • atcDave says:

        That sort f plot device was done entirely too often by this crew. And considering it now leads to a story I have no interest in, it will take quite some time before they make up for it.

    • Ruthiesw says:

      Hi AP, your observation in the second to last paragraph was something I noticed on re-watch. In Other Guy, Chuck struggles to flash to save Sarah from Shaw because he’s too emotional. Shaw specifically exploits this ‘weakness’, yet in Ring and Pink Slip, he seems unable to flash until Sarah is threatened. I’m not sure there’s a convincing way to explain this change to the way he activates the Intersect. It will be something I’ll follow closely during the next few weeks of re-watches.

      • authorguy says:

        Aside from the fact that there’s an entire season between the two, in which there has been a deliberate effort made to decouple that exact connection.

      • Ruthiesw says:

        Granted, but his feelings for her haven’t changed during that time. By Other Guy, he finally knows that she loves him and they can be together. Maybe it just took a little while for that to sink in.

      • authorguy says:

        Of course they did. He got dumped by her, pushed into his red test by her, abandoned for Shaw by her. He may have still loved her but that love was redefined, as shown in the Beard.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        AG – I was going to bring up ‘Beard’ as well…it would seem he got some clarity there and was almost immediately able to flash again. It is still unclear whether that was because he now felt unencumbered by the lying to his best friend or the admission / realization that he loved Sarah.

        ‘Final Exam’ makes him face what he will NOT do even if it is his only chance to be with her.

        In ‘American Hero’ he can flash easily on something non life and death like a pop machine elevator.

        This SHOULD have all converged in ‘Other Guy’ if it were by design – it’s clear that Chuck tries everything NOT to kill Shaw but that doesn’t explain why Chuck is so easily defeated by Shaw at the cafe prior to that (when it was a more non-lethal confrontation)

        This whole thread through the episodes of why the intersect does and does not work relative to Chuck’s emotions and morals and what degree of control Chuck can exert over his ‘superpowers’ COULD have worked but it seems too inconsistent to be by design…

      • authorguy says:

        In Beard he may have flashed to save Morgan rather than himself. If he’d been alone, even unconflicted, maybe nothing would have happened. The talk with Morgan probably helped him decide whether he was willing to love her or not. None of his epiphanies are false, but what they signify is subtle sometimes.
        In AH he’s doing something for Sarah that requires him to use the Intersect and it works.
        At the cafe in OG he’s fighting for himself. Sarah wasn’t directly threatened until the bridge. I guess I’m glad they didn’t show him flashing on gun skills to save her.

  6. ThreeCentsWorth says:

    The problem with your part of the post, Mr. Davis, is that it ignores what the showrunners have said about the end of Colonel. They admit it would have NEVER been written that way had they known the show was going to be renewed. So you should accept that Colonel is the end of a story: the original Chuck show about an average guy trying to get back to average life and gets the girl in the bargain. Ring is a pilot for an entirely new show: average guy accepts superpowers and struggles with the personal and professional ramifications of the decision.

    I think Ring is fabulous once you realize that it is, in fact, a pilot. The big “what if” is where Chuck 2.0 would have gone post Ring had it had the same budget as Chuck 1.0 and had been able to use the Bryce Larkin character again. I don’t think it ever would have been as compelling as Chuck 1.0, but I fully believe it would have been a lot better than we got. There’s enough in what was produced (Three Words, Beard and even parts of Mask/Fake Name where Sarah vacillates between Chuck and what would have been Bryce) to think a full budget and Matt Bomer’s availability would have made Season 3 something quite good. Nothing that would satisfy Mr. atcDave, of course, but a lot more fun than it was. I truly do not think the showrunners wanted so much of the fan base to think Season 3 was grim. Ring indicates they knew there was still fun to be had.

    • aerox says:

      The thing is, season 3 would make a lot of sense with Bomer, rather than Routh. I loved Routh (still do) as Shaw, but even I am forced to admit that it comes off as dodgy looking. If it was someone with whom she had a past, it would’ve been all cool beans. Although I highly doubt they’d have Bryce defect to the Ring (unless he’s jealous over Sarah getting with Chuck, in which case, they’d be committing character genocide), so I think we’d have a completely different storyline all together.

      And that doesn’t take away the fact that Chuck was a dick for a big part of that third season.

      • lappers84 says:

        I’m sure had Matt Bomer been available they would have written a different storyline for Bryce over what was written for Shaw, and I agree it would have been quite a bit better.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        I like to think that Sarah had worked through her Bryce fixation by then.

        In Nemesis it’s not cut and dried but she’s choosing between the easy path and the more challenging/less likely to pay off path.

        By Seduction/Breakup she’s signaling to Chuck that he DOES ‘measure up’.

        The Cole episodes give her a different person to try the ‘easy’ path with and she stays with Chuck and throws Cole’s own words back at him in doing so…

        That’s why it’s so maddening to try to come up with why she says what she does in ‘Ring’ and why she falls back into an ‘easy’ relationship in S3.

        Because she DOES ‘fall back into an easy relationship’ in S3 it could work if it were Bryce but that would be SUCH a burned bridge with Chuck I don’t know how that could be recovered. (Not to mention your other points about plot points not adaptable to Bryce.)

        But it raises an interesting thought that people will hate – do they really BELONG together? More and more I’m thinking ‘not exactly’. That they aren’t a good natural fit for each other even though they are mad about each other.

        There was an earlier discussion re: ‘Breakup’ where thoughts were expressed that Chuck wants to move forward in life and would like it to be with Sarah but that’s up to her. And, if not, he would find a way to be OK with that.

        I’ll save it for the appropriate time but there are moments in S3 where I think Sarah is having similar thoughts. She wants that real life even if it can’t be with Chuck. Being Sarah, it’s not explicit; but being Yvonne I feel like it comes through. It gets obscured by the things we hate about S3 but I think it’s there. It also makes me wonder if Shaw is another ‘easy path’ or just an obstacle she deliberately puts in her own path to ensure she doesn’t run back to Chuck for the wrong reasons.

        There are things that each needs to resolve in order to be ‘ready’ for a relationship with each other but it’s clumsily done and against the backdrop of everything else negative in S3.

      • authorguy says:

        “do they really BELONG together? More and more I’m thinking ‘not exactly’. That they aren’t a good natural fit for each other even though they are mad about each other.”

        Which is exactly what S3 was for. They weren’t a natural fit, and they each had rough edges that needed to be worn away before they could work as well as they did together.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no doubt Bryce could have made a more palatable S3. But even so, I think it’s clear it never would have been my favorite. I think the fundamental problem is they altered Colonel thinking it was the end, then tried going back to something like an original plan. But Colonel was too good, and I wasn’t willing to go along for that ride.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that AP. I’d be willing to say that Chuck and Sarah are not the most obviously ideal match at the start. But I like how ideal they make by the end of S4. And that always seems both sweet and real to me. Few of us are ever “perfect matches” for our partners, it takes work to make a happy life.

      • joe says:

        Author, you just made me smile. Of course they don’t belong together! This is the supposed to be the ultimate mis-match; nerd-boy and hot super-spy. Chuck doesn’t have a snowball’s chance when the show opens.

        And then a comet appears. That story is why we (especially young males of all ages) are attracted to the characters. We all remember those times when we didn’t have a chance. Sometimes, we actually came out on top, and we’re reminded of that.

      • authorguy says:

        Which is why I said earlier that the Intersect actually betrays Chuck’s chances at true heroism. He’s already displayed all sorts of heroic abilities, and the Intersect merely brought him to Sarah’s attention long enough for her to notice what a hero he is. But the 2.0 diverts him from pursuing his true greatness with cartoon superpowers that he has to spend most of S3 getting past. It wasn’t the 2.0 that got Shaw on the bridge, it was love, loyalty, a fanatical devotion to Sonny Chiba films, and a willingness to kill to protect Sarah, his true heroic moment.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Author guy – that’s what I was getting at: I thing S3 helps them converge to a place where they make a lot more sense together and not because Chuck becomes more ‘spy-ish’ and Sarah laments a perceived loss of him. It’s because Chck realises he is good enough for her and she realizes there’s a bigger world out there and even though she’s afraid of it she wants it in some way. I totally agree with your assessment of his actions on the bridge.

        Dave – I agree that S4 is the way we want to see them. By that point they were ready to MELD into a couple. I too was disappointed that S3 pulled them apart but I hope you’ll reconsider reexamining some of it with us. There is some very subtle stuff that is very well done but it is in tiny quiet moments.

        Joe – I don’t disagree with you. It was the ultimate mismatch – on paper. But what you describe is only one half if it. I too can relate to Chuck and feeling like his reach definitely exceeds his grasp. And that was the ‘quarter life crisis’ story the creators set out to make so the beautiful thing they ended up with must have been a happy mistake. Because, while Chuck sees the video game / comic book goddess come to life and held tantalizingly out of his reach he doesn’t initially realize two things:
        (A) there are some very real problems with people like Sarah; they are killers and liars and worse and
        (B) Sarah is as impressed with Chuck as he is with her. He’s sweet and innocent but also extremely brave, girlish screams notwithstanding. She knows true bravery isn’t being unafraid but doing what has to be done anyway. I can’t help but think she’s secretly incredibly proud of him every time he DOESN’T stay in the car
        They both put each other up on pedestals and both feel inadequate. It may be worse for Sarah because she is painfully aware of what she is (at least how she defines herself) although Chuck can see the woman she’s hidden away underneath.
        They both have to deal with why they think they aren’t good enough for the other. Chuck does it with a crutch (the 2.0) and Sarah does it with some misguided decisions but by S4 they are ready to allow that they are (or can be) good enough for the other.

      • joe says:

        That’s the way I see it, Author. Chuck didn’t get to the bridge because of the Intersect. Not at all.

        For me, that’s the story in S3 that I actually like. It’s about Chuck and Sarah both discovering that the other isn’t perfect, that they aren’t perfect, and that it doesn’t really matter because who they are has always been pretty darn great.

        @Arya

        I can’t help but think she’s secretly incredibly proud of him every time he DOESN’T stay in the car

        Heh! I like that, Arya.

        Chuck certainly does put Sarah on a pedestal, so it was necessary for him to see the real girl behind the icon. But I’m not so sure it was the same thing for Sarah.

        For her, it seems more like she spent three seasons learning that her “type” (Bryce/Cole/Shaw) – the hero – wasn’t the only type in existence. It wasn’t even the only type for her. When she learned that lesson, then she could see Chuck for who he was, and “hero” was only the start. Add friend, family, leader and all the rest of the roles Chuck assumed as he belted guards who insulted her, robbed banks, out-thought an Intersect-enhanced-Volkoff and saved those who would kill them.

        Hey! I’m actually getting excited about the rest of the story!

      • authorguy says:

        I’ve actually been spending a lot of time lately contemplating this exact thing/scene. My latest chapter (which I put up last night, talk about bad timing!) is all about where C&S are each coming from as they run off to get married right after the events of the Ring. Understanding the dynamics of these characters at that time, how neither of them was really ready for the other, is crucial to my whole story. This blog has been very instrumental in my thinking about the stuff I write, and I really have to thank all of you for providing so many inspiring ideas and interpretations.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Arya, well put. The way I’ve started to think of this is that while they love each other and know each other they don’t yet understand each other, and that is their problem. Each has an image of the other (the knowing) that is in conflict with their own self-image. It is their self-image that holds them back and which must be overcome. To understand each other each has to see and understand how the other views themselves and what each needs from the other and from a relationship. Most of season 3 will be the two of them standing in each other’s shoes for a bit to achieve this understanding.

        Chuck needs to feel like the guy who can save Sarah and protect her and Sarah needs to feel like the girl who is worth loving. Each, in their own way asks for that in this closing arc and the beginning of season 3, yet each asks in a way the other isn’t ready to answer yet, and not because of any inadequacy in the other’s eyes, but because of self doubt.

      • joe says:

        Ernie, this is why I hired you! Extra gruel for you today, ’cause you just highlighted things that had been escaping me!

      • joe says:

        @Authorguy

        Understanding the dynamics of these characters at that time, how neither of them was really ready for the other…

        That was so hard for me to understand at first. You know, it seemed so obvious to everybody that not only were they perfect for each other, but C&S were pretty perfect in their own right.

        It’s just not so.

        Thanks for the compliment, Author. We appreciate it.

    • joe says:

      You’re quite right that the question will always be there, Three. – What would The Ring look like had they known either that the show had not been renewed or (or even that it would be). (I’m guessing that, if they knew the show had been canceled, the episode wouldn’t have been called “The Ring” 😉 ).

      Clearly, we’ll never know the details of those other AUs.

      On it’s own, the episode always entertains me – a lot. I love the music, of course. I find the dialog witty, poignant at times, I laugh at Jeffster, the guest stars are great and things like Sarah’s nod “no” to Bryce stand out forever as great moments. For a one-hour bit of television, it’s hard to ask for more – isn’t it?

      I understand what you’re saying, though. We had just been through weeks and weeks of incredible TV. We got completely involved with these characters and, like addicts, couldn’t wait for the next hit. It’s a shame that it doesn’t work that way. Not only does each hit have to be bigger, the time in between is painful.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      The problem with your part of the post, Mr. Davis, is that it ignores what the showrunners have said about the end of Colonel. They admit it would have NEVER been written that way had they known the show was going to be renewed.

      I must have missed that Liz. I remember comments about the “To Be Continued” at the end of Ring, and how they were hopeful for renewal, but worried that the “To Be Continued” would make them look like the biggest idiots of all time, but I don’t recall anything about them putting Chuck and Sarah “together” at the end of Colonel in anticipation of cancellation. I do recall post season 3 them saying that if they’d known they had another season they might have done things differently, but I didn’t think they were referring to season 2 or Colonel specifically. I could be wrong though, so if there is a source I’ll gladly stand corrected.

      I do see things differently on re-watch. While season 3 did offer up a new direction I now see it as growing out of what the closing arc of season 2 established as opposed to a total reinvention. Throughout the final episodes Chuck is pulling away from Sarah’s control and his “normal” life, discovering what he is capable of and being challenged by others, such as Cole or Beckman or Orion, to reach his full potential. The uncertainty as to what this means for his future with Sarah is there too, with the 49B and her refusing to back him up on his Rourke suspicions, and eventually her inner turmoil seen in this episode as to what to do about the fact that she’s in love with Chuck Bartowski.

      The end of season 2 was actually pretty angsty and tumultuous, on a level with the season 3 opening, which was admitedly a lot darker. The difference is we were having too much fun to notice.

      I think there was still a lot of fun in season 3, but for people focused on moving Charah forward it was pretty hard to see past the elephant in the room.

      • atcDave says:

        That “having too much fun to notice” is a critical, huge difference! This arc is more angst filled than I would tolerate long term, but for the rush to a finale it worked very well.

      • lappers84 says:

        This is why when I watch through season 3 again it’ll be all about the Chasey

      • joe says:

        Well put, Ernie. I too saw a lot of the S3 threads these past few weeks, and I clearly was caught up enough in Charah to not see much else the first couple of times through.

        And good catch.

  7. Ruthiesw says:

    Thank you Dave, Ernie and Joe for your considered reviews. Food for thought, indeed.

    There was so much to enjoy in this episode (just ditto everything already mentioned).

    That scene where Bryce appears in Castle is made by Sarah’s expression (as most of her scenes are). For that moment, it looks like Sarah’s life is going to return exactly where it left off before Operation Sandwall(?). Her and Bryce, dream team working together to take down the enemy.

    Is that a good thing? I think Sarah’s asking herself that same question. Her face gives us the only answer we need. No, she is different, her life has changed. Sarah compromised herself with her asset and now cannot write off the past two years as though they had never happened. I don’t think she was expecting to feel quite the way she did at the prospect of leaving with Bryce on a new mission. What we see here and in her following scene with Chuck at the wedding is Agent Walker trying to close down her emotions. She is terrified of how much Chuck has changed her and has no clue what it all means.

    When Bryce betrayed her by going rogue, Sarah threw herself into the only thing that made sense to her: her job. She coped and she moved on. I think there’s some naivety on her part that she can do the same with Chuck. If she goes through the motions again, maybe she really can return to her old life. Of course, it’s different this time and takes just a few hours for her to realise that she simply can’t move on.

    What really frustrates me about this episode is that Chuck doesn’t get to hear Sarah’s final decision. So much WT/WT over two seasons that was so close to getting the payoff it needed. We knew how they felt, but that the two leads didn’t finish up on the same page was irksome.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree entirely Ruthie.

    • mr2686 says:

      Any episode with a line like “why are you allowing Sam Kinison and an Indian Lesbian to ruin your wedding” is great in my book. 🙂

    • Arya's Prayers says:

      I think I have to “ditto” everything you said.

      I so wish we knew what Sarah was going to say! (Ignoring the logistics of it and the fact that canon alternates between allowing people to quit and threatening them with irrevocable reassignment??!??)

      I also wonder how much of the motivation you describe is repeated in S3? She shuts down in ‘Pink Slip’, I think Chuck is starting to get through to her in ‘Three Words’ and I like to think that she WAS on her way to take him up on that ‘friend date’ in ‘Angel of Death’ when she got word of Devon’s abduction. Then Shaw’s asking questions about Lisbon, Hannah happens, Manoosh gets seduced then burned, etc.

      Even when she’s ‘with’ Shaw (whatever the hell that means – if they were real bf/gf instead of ‘spyfriends’ – I mean c’mon can you even consider being serious with someone who is willing to get himself killed to get revenge on his ex wife’s killers? – she is an awful mind cheater!!) Chuck is alternately getting through to her then doing something to make her second guess him.

      I have to think that entertaining the move to DC and Shaw himself are to some extent an attempt to deliberately distance herself from Chuck.

      • atcDave says:

        AP I do agree with most of that. Although I think Sarah may have hoped for more from Shaw, she was disappointed when he was no Chuck. But ultimately the whole reassignment thing was purely another sort of running away, until she was satisfied she didn’t want to.

      • lappers84 says:

        But we all know her going with Shaw was simply the safe option – Her brain was calling the shots at this point – and we already know how compromised she is, her brain was clearly “screwing things up”. This is how I view AH – Sarah’s own personal head vs heart moment.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        I’m not sure how much Sarah really expected from Shaw. Something easy and uncomplicated? Or something ‘real’ like (I think) she had hoped to have with Chuck – which seems unlikely given his vengeance quest.

        I’ll save most of it for the appropriate episode discussion except that it was most disappointing to me that someone decided Sarah suddenly ‘needed’ a man in her life while dealing with all these unfamiliar emotions.

        Ultimately, I’m reminded of her own uncharacteristically sage relationship advice to Anna in ‘Best Friend’…if you’re constantly comparing him to someone else…

      • lappers84 says:

        This is why I feel the finale was positive for me in that although Sarah’s brain had forgotten Chuck – her heart hadn’t

      • authorguy says:

        What a great connection!

      • lappers84 says:

        which one? Mine or AP

      • authorguy says:

        Yours, lappers. The heart over brain comment, in relation to the finale.

      • lappers84 says:

        TBH I think that theme has been the drive throughout the entire series.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not sure how much Sarah really expected from Shaw either. But I think, even if she choose him as something “safe” or “familiar” after Chuck there was no going back. Look how in Fake Name (or don’t look, just cringe…) she’s trying to have a conversation with Shaw that he can’t possibly understand (the whole Chuck loosing himself talk). Sarah herself probably couldn’t have understood the conversation either two years before. Even as she’s looking for “safe” she’s grown in many ways, and is trying to apply things she now considers important to an old style relationship that can’t ever get there.

        It strikes me as mildly amusing that once she decides Chuck has retained enough of what made him Chuck (end of American Hero) she opts for him without giving Shaw a second thought.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Dave – I know, right?
        She’s the worst ‘spy friend’ ever!
        Miiiiiiiind Cheaterrrr!

        That’s why the ‘relationship’ is completely superfluous to me and just there to make Chuck go out on a limb – to steal Danny’s ‘spy friend’ SMH

        She can’t possibly relate to any just-a-spy types romantically anymore.

        That along with the abrupt gear change when Chuck lays it on the line for her is why I like to think (with no foundation in canon other than the incompatibility you described) that – since they’ll still have to work together in DC – Sarah is planning on attempting an ‘amicable split’ at the date in AH before Chuck (and Devon) crash it.

        How could she continue to date the man that made her administer Chuck’s red test – especially because she has to think he ‘did it’ because of the carrot she was dangling? (And there I go jumping ahead twelve episodes!)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, I mean even apart from the fact I think the whole love triangle meme was already completely played out for this story, everything about this one plays as false to me. The best we can say is that Sarah was using Shaw as a quick ticket out of town. But we’ll talk a lot more about this in the coming alternates thread. SOOOO many ways this story could have been better handled.

      • joe says:

        Dave & Arya, I pretty much see the dinner date in Am. Hero that way too, except that I don’t think Sarah sees Shaw as a quick fix. I’m leaning to thinking that Sarah’s giving Shaw one last chance, only to be “nice”. He would have gotten that honest chance if Chuck hadn’t crashed it, like you said, Arya.

        I think that, regardless, Sarah would have decided against Shaw that evening. After experiencing “normal” with Chuck and his family/friends, not having that is no longer acceptable to her and Shaw isn’t going to give her that. So her decision is between Shaw and nothing, or basically between nothing and nothing. He’s cold comfort.

        Going back to Chuck is not just revisiting her pain in Prague; she’s not sure he’s the man she fell in love with. She will be shortly, but Chuck’s been trying to be someone he’s not – a spy – for a while now, and doing quite well at it. He may succeed in being exactly what she’s knows isn’t enough, Bryce and Shaw, and he may succeed in losing what she needed most from him – humanity, friends, family, all those things a spy has to give up.

        I just realized how she had given those things up too. We won’t see that until S5, though.

  8. joe says:

    If she goes through the motions again, maybe she really can return to her old life. Of course, it’s different this time and takes just a few hours for her to realise that she simply can’t move on.

    So well put, Ruth!

    I completely agree that Chuck not hearing Sarah’s final decision – not to mention the end of sentence where she starts to tell us what she wants – is frustrating! Those are the things that seem transparent attempts to leave hooks for a potential 3rd season. Those are the places where it seems we’re being obviously manipulated by TPTB.

    Well, I concede that in this case, that kind of manipulation was hard to avoid and maybe even necessary. In an episode that seems so technically wonderful to me, those are flaws that wouldn’t even prickle in any other TV show.

  9. As usual,I have really enjoyed all the interesting and diverse comments, particularly with regard to the Chuck and Sarah relationship,which will always remain the heart of the show for me.
    However,let us just pause for a moment and remember the sheer crazy fun………..for this was the episode when Jeffster came of age!!!!!!!

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt about that Yoza!

    • lappers84 says:

      I second that – this was one of the three Jeffster performances that I would consider epic, along with Africa and of course Take on Me

      • mr2686 says:

        I’d have to add Fortunate Son as epic, at least in my book.

      • joe says:

        Being an old folkie, I’m going to give a nod to “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane” too.

        See? If only they had actually done “The Weight” (That was The Band) I could have made a play-list of Jeffster’s Greatest Hits.

      • mr2686 says:

        Yeah Joe, Jeffster unplugged was epic!!

      • atcDave says:

        So many fun Jeffster moments! And they managed to not quite ever get old. Very good use of spreading them out and doing very different things each time.

      • mr2686 says:

        I would also like to add that one of my favorite parts about almost every Jeffster performance is the fact that there are always people around, some looking on in horror and some rockin’ out. I just love the contrast between the two.

      • joe says:

        Ack! One Jeffster performance escapes me now, but I remember it was good.

        I forget only because it wasn’t in an episode. It was at ComicCon. Quick, somebody, help! What did they play at ComicCon???

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah 2686 I remember that first one with Fernando rocking along while Casey looks like he’s going to hurl! Ohhh that was so much fun. It worked too because Lester took it sooo seriously. Good times.

  10. uplink2 says:

    There are deeper shows on TV, more complex shows, shows with tighter plot logic, possibly even better comedies … but none features as much pure, concentrated fun as “Chuck.” It’s overflowing with joy,

    –Alan Sepinwall, from his review of Chuck Versus The Ring

    And there in lies much of the issue for many of us going forward. I picked this comment from Ernie’s posting because if one small quote can illustrate why for me at least and I think I can include Dave certainly what comes after Ring is completely devoid of any of the fun and “overflowing joy” that got me so invested in this show. It only returns at the end of 3.12 and into 3.13. But those moments were not earned by our heroes like they were here. Plus I simply can’t see how they were any more ready after the journey they took us on than they were here. Putting them together at that point was just as contrived and manipulative as tearing them apart in Pink Slip was.

    There is no joy and there is no fun in 3.1-3.12/13 so it makes it impossible to overlook the problems with tighter plot logic etc. If I’m happy and enjoying the show I can overlook its problems. See season 4. But if I’m not, they stand out like enormous sore thumbs and completely hide what’s underneath.

    To talk about this episode in this rewatch is difficult. When I first saw it live I was so excited for what was to come. The possibilities of the 2.0 I found interesting and exciting. Plus Sarah had told Bryce to his face that she was choosing Chuck over him with a finality to it. Goodbye Bryce Larkin both figuratively and literally. Now I thought the roadblocks ahead would be story driven and it would be our couple fighting against all those odds together to “earn” their DYLM moment. I thought that even though the wait fior season 3 was going to be long that in the end it would be worth it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    I loved this episode on initial viewing. But as Dave said when we look at it through the lens of this rewatch and judge each episode as it impacts the entire journey it loses much of its appeal. With Pink Slip I felt betrayed by the writers. I felt they just trashed the exciting storyline possibilities I had been thinking about ever since 2.22 aired. So because of that much of the greatness I felt was on display with this episode is lost. It’s flaws that I overlooked because of the fun and joy we feel at Ellies wedding and Sarah’s simple shake of her head become more looming when we realize that the joy I felt was misguided and disregarded. There is never a mention ever again of what Sarah was about to say while dancing. Nor did Chuck ever ask what Bryce meant when he told him she wasn’t leaving. Or why she broke his heart when she told him she was leaving. All of that was simply ignored, swept under the rug, and dismissed because discussion of it wouldn’t allow for the WTWT angst and LI geometry they were running back to. Reset the relationship and none of this matters. No matter what, the “emotional and traumatic” event that was to come that Josh spoke of wasn’t “great”. It was anything but.

    In some of the comments above there was talk about the Bryce/Shaw debate for season 3 and I expect Dave will have a post about that discussion but I did want to make a comment here about Shaw because of some of the things said above in terms of Sarah’s “type”. We tend to lump Shaw in with Bryce and Cole as the “great spy” or as Fedak described him to Mo Ryan as the “ultimate spy and hero”. But I feel that placing him in with Bryce and Cole does a real disservice to both of those characters. When they were introduced we were clearly shown why Bryce and Cole were great spies. There was never any question about their abilities and their “greatness”. But with Shaw we were simply told he was but everything they showed us said the exact opposite. Shooting a woman in the back and killing her instead of incapacitating her so that she could be a captured Ring Agent they could interrogate. Sending Chuck on a solo mission he was unprepared for and lying to him about the danger he faced is not what a great spy or leader does. Then completely botching the Mask mission and almost getting Sarah and himself killed by his incompetence. Then punching a man who was tied up and couldn’t defend himself with the idea that was supposed to get Sarah all hot for him defending her honor. Then the ending of Beard which I’m sure we will discuss further later on. I can’t think of one moment when Shaw actually IS a great spy. Great villain maybe but never a great spy and as Mo Ryan also said he drags down every scene he is in during this arc and takes away all of the “fun and joy” of Chuck and Sarah and replaces it with nothing but pain and contrived angst.

    Ernie talks a lot about writers intent but I have to judge them on what I see before me not on what their intent was. Execution is crucial and so much of where we are headed fails miserably on execution. It’s also why Fedak and Schwartz never talk about season 3.0 and Shaw. It’s always about villain Shaw. If they truly believed what they did was “great” then why don’t they defend it? Why ignore those first 12 episodes and focus only on 13 and what follows?

    I am looking forward to the alternate discussions as I find no “pure concentrated fun” or “overflowing joy” in any of the next twelve episodes. Sorry but “B” and “C” plot fun simply can’t change my disgust with the “A” plot or actually the “A” plot contrivances. So I’ll probably spend most of my time on the alternate threads as nothing coming out of the episode discussions that will alter my opinion. If anything it will much more likely make me dislike it even more. So why put myself through that to just get angry and pissed off all over again. That season can never be redeemed for me.

    But in closing Ring for me is such a perfect example of what this show had and threw away for the sake of the tired OLI geometry troupe. Even if I concede that they were not ready to fully be together yet I don’t think anything happened in the next 12 episodes fixes that problem. There was nothing learned from the LI’s that made them grow as people or as lovers. I don’t think anyone can prove to me that the Chuck and Sarah of 3.13 are any more suited to be the couple they become than they were at the end of this episode. There is not a single lesson learned from Shaw or Lou 2.0 that makes them better prepared or teaches them things that grow them anymore towards each other than they were here. It was all for naught and just an excuse to delay things and it makes the necessary lessons learned about the spy world unwatchable under the shroud of the unnecessary relationship geometry. If anything they were less prepared in 3.13 than they were in 2.22.

    Ring left us with so many possibilities and ultimately so much greatness unrealized. It left me feeling very excited about what was to come and absolutely horrified when we got there.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, epic comment! I agree with virtually all of that Uplink. The bottom line for me and S3 has always been that it sucked all the fun out of a joyful show. The show became like all the other dark, taking themselves too seriously things that populate broadcast and cable. The show lost nearly everything that had ever been special about it. Understanding intent generally makes me angrier, not the other way around.
      The B plot thing is funny; I completely agree with those who say S3 was very good for Casey and Morgan. It was. Both characters grew nicely and their “journeys” were a lot of fun. But I don’t watch the show for Casey or Morgan. It’s like saying “well our punting unit had a great game…”

      And I agree completely about the unrealized greatness. I was so excited after Ring. Concerned about the 2.0 as I mentioned above. But I fully expected the team that just gave me Colonel and Ring to amaze me and deliver awesome product. Horrified sums it up nicely.

      I’ll have my first S3 alternate post up late on Tuesday the 26th. That way, folks who want to read both can do so and discuss first the one, and then the other. But hopefully it will keep them close enough together that those of us who are biting our tongues can make it the two days. And we can leave the main re-watch posts for those who want to sing their praises.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Dave. I don’t watch this show for Casey and definitely not for Morgan. They are both secondary and even tertiary elements in the case of Morgan. I watch this show for Chuck and Sarah and mainly Sarah. None of their journey was fun or joyful. They learned nothing from the OLI’s. It was all just a farce and a distraction to delay their “joyful” moment. And it ended up being an unearned joyful moment. They chose to throw away what made them different and special all for a trip where I certainly had no interest in going. The “epic” nature of the Chuck/Sarah romance was tarnished by all of it and for many it never fully recovers.

        If you are going to mess with the central relationship dynamic of your show there has to be a good reason for it and you have to prove that in the end the journey was worth it. For me they didn’t. None of what was to come was worth the damage they caused. Plus Fedak and Schwartz don’t even try to tell us why they think it was. They simply jump to villain Shaw whenever Season 3 comes up.

        The fun and joy were gone and what was left couldn’t make up for it. Morgan and Casey growth simply can’t carry the show when the central characters are made to be so incredibly unlikable.

    • lappers84 says:

      *standing applause*

    • lappers84 says:

      Just an FYI uplink, watching Pink Slip and Sarah says “she wants to be a real person, with you” which in my mind is what I think she was going to say at the wedding reception – so it’s not completely dismissed.

      • uplink2 says:

        Maybe so and I could accept that but it’s all in flashback as the insensitive, uncaring destruction of that Sarah by a very OOC Chuck was complete at the train station.

    • Bill says:

      Uplink, you nailed it. Thanks.

  11. lappers84 says:

    No argument there, which is why my current 3.0 rewatch is about the Chuck and Casey friendship (I don’t count Morgan since he doesn’t get involved until Beard) but already I can see signs of Casey having Chucks back (especially when it comes to Sarah) – which ultimately comes to a head in 3×12 when the Charah finally begins.

  12. Bill says:

    So ends my favorite season of one of my all-time favorite series. Highlighted by the beach wedding/Roark assassination mash-up, what a rush the Ring brings!

    I’ll never forget watching Colonel and Ring when they originally aired. Chuck was a Monday night ritual for my family then, and we absolutely loved these episodes. They were the culmination of everything that made the show so great. The romance, the comedy, the music, the montages — as Sepinwall wrote, the overflowing joy! (nods to Ernie)

    Alas, at that point I was totally oblivious to the show’s bubble status, to the Subway campaign, and to the showrunner’s phobia of resolving the romantic tension. (Even worse, I was oblivious to the online Chuck community!)

    Now, when I re-watch these episodes, I admit that it is somewhat bittersweet for me. My enjoyment of Chuck rarely returned to this high ground, and I pretty much gave up on the show (at least in terms of emotional investment) by the latter half of Season 3.5.

    Truth be told, Ring is not only a culmination, but it’s also an ending.

    • atcDave says:

      I guess I was willing to give them a fresh start with Honeymooners, and I wound up liking S4 most of all. But that’s only by deciding to forget what game in between. Willful “ignorance is bliss”.

  13. anthropocene says:

    Wow—a truly epic, musically infused, richly visual post by our heroic bloggers to close out the marvelous Season 2—thanks and well done, Dave, Ernie, and joe!
    Count me as a huge fan of “Vs. the Ring” for all the reasons already discussed at length—Mr. Roboto, Chuck and Sarah’s dance, Stephen’s secret Intersect…and Chuck’s first 2.0 flash to the accompaniment of dramatic music at the instant of his team’s maximum peril—all great stuff.

    Really hated to say goodbye to Ted Roark though.

    And one small detail from the very end of the episode bothered me then…still does: Sarah’s stunned reaction to Chuck after his unexpected kung fu-gasm, followed right away by the fade to black. I can understand shock and surprise initially, but I was expecting to see the the season end with something a bit more tender between them than “Chuck…?” Almost as if the show was foreshadowing the misery arc…

    • atcDave says:

      I liked Ted Roark too. My second favorite villain after Volkoff; they both managed fun and menacing. Perfect Chuck villains.

      I think Chuck often did those sort of quick cuts to end scenes, I mentioned/complained about it back in Broken Heart too, I don’t get how the vault scene doesn’t end with a hug (I mean, I think Chuck would have almost hugged Casey at that point! And when Sarah came through the door…)
      But yeah the coming misery arc is why this episode is somewhat diminished for me. Its a lot of baggage. Its kind of hanging off a different direction than we usually get (the future instead of the past), but its still baggage to me.

      • mr2686 says:

        That’s not baggage, that’s an overnight bag for our trip to the wonderful Season 3. Dave, I know this ship has sailed, but there’s so much to enjoy in the upcoming episodes that I wish you and a few others would at least revisit them at least one more time to enjoy some of the other things besides the Chuck/Sarah storyline.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry, its always Chuck/Sarah first for me. I am well familiar with those episodes, we’ve talked them to death for three years, I can’t do it again.

      • uplink2 says:

        Right there with you Dave. It’s pointless. I along with you watch this show for Chuck/Sarah and there is nothing to enjoy about their journey for the next 12 weeks. I tried for 3 years to come to terms with it and it only gets worse each time. The show I loved went on a long vacation and what was left was a joyless ride whose ending was as contrived and manipulative as its beginning. It’s an unearned payoff to a poorly executed journey. I’m all for redemption stories but that redemption needs to be earned. I love stories where I see the characters go through hell and come out better for it. But there has to be a point to that journey through hell. There was none here and I don’t see these characters as being better off because of it. I’m glad the show I love eventually returned in Honeymooners but I have no desire to take that trip again as each time I’ve tried to understand it I hate it even more.

      • lappers84 says:

        I guess then we’ll see you guys in twelve weeks then.

      • Mel says:

        “I wish you and a few others would at least revisit them at least one more time to enjoy some of the other things besides the Chuck/Sarah storyline”

        Yes, the “how to completely destroy a wonderful tv show” bit undeniably has plenty of educational value.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I will be around but mostly in the AU threads. The actual episode threads I will try to avoid because to discuss them I have to actually take them seriously and that will only fuel my anger and hatred for the arc.

        There is a lot of “inside baseball” stuff that has much more merit to discuss than the nuances of a contrived storyline or how a pairing with absolutely zero chemistry has validity.

      • mr2686 says:

        so, you don’t want to take the real episodes seriously, but you’ll take the Fan Fiction stories seriously? See you in 12 weeks.

      • uplink2 says:

        That’s easy. FanFiction is exactly that FanFiction. It isn’t supposed to be taken seriously but read just for the pure fun and enjoyment. It is mostly wish fulfillment and different takes on fictional characters. So I enjoy it without taking it seriously.

        But why would I want to take seriously the dismantling of something I love so very much and am fully invested in when there is no point to it other than a tired trip back to the empty OLI well? When a character I hate, and not in a good way, has taken over the screen so often at the expense of the characters I do love? Who drags down every scene he is in to the point that the entire arc becomes unwatchable? Where they are practically screaming at us that “look at them they are perfect for each other” and they have as much chemistry as two inert gasses? Why look for something to enjoy in the C and D plots when the A plot is so contrived that it makes me want to scream?

        But there will be points to be made, especially missed opportunities and intentional manipulation where story matters over character. Where being told something but shown something completely opposite proves the dishonesty of the storytelling. Where putting our favorite couple together is just as contrived as pulling them apart. Those are issues I want to talk about but don’t want to be restricted by the format of the episode threads. Plus I don’t want to get into a deep debate over something that will just get my blood pressure up for no good reason as it is simply better to disregard something that I so viscerally dislike.

      • atcDave says:

        Some of us are departing to keep the peace. It will get ugly if we try to share the discussion.

        Funny thing though; I am hosting an S3 mini-marathon this Sunday afternoon. Dripping with irony, right?
        Well I recently got a friend and his wife hooked on Chuck. I lent them the S1 discs, and three days later they were ready for S2. Six days after that he’s asking about S3. Well I told him S3 is a problem. Every other season I own on both Blu-Ray and DVD (one set for home, one for more portable needs). But S3 I only bought Blu-Rays. I talked to him a little about why, trying not no bias the issue too severely. I was kind of hoping he’d decide to buy the discs himself. But I told him if he didn’t want to do that we could watch some of the “good” episodes at our place. So now that’s the plan. Depending on time I’m thinking six to ten episodes. The six would be Angel of Death, Operation Awesome, Other Guy, Honeymooners, Subway and Ring II. Time permitting, I think I would add Tic Tac and the other three from the back arc.
        I know S3 apologists are horrified. But I watch to have fun. And that’s as much as I’m willing to watch. I expect we’ll have a great time anyway, and I’m really excited for Sundar afternoon!

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, I think that’s a pretty good mix to keep you and your guests happy. Of course, I’d also add Nacho Sampler but time might not permit or it might not be one you like as well.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Dave – for your own sanity and so you don’t have to field certain questions from your guests about Sarah’s weekend plans and the end scene you may want to drop ‘Tic Tac’ even though its Shaw-free; as mr2686 suggested ‘Nacho Sampler’ might be a safe replacement and also Shaw-free

      • joe says:

        Ack! Dave, you’re right. I am horrified! They’re going to miss something very deep without seeing Fake Name.

        Now, did I horrify you? 😉

      • authorguy says:

        The worst episode of the entire series, painfully bad. Makes all others look great by comparison.

      • lappers84 says:

        I’d add Beard to that – obviously not for Sarah, but for what the Chuck/Morgan which is essentially what the episode is about, plus it’s a Zach episode.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not actually that worried about giving a quick recap and explaining what all is going on, and honestly Nacho Sampler is one of those episodes I don’t care for at all. Of course even as I say that, I’m thinking it might be fair game to run one of those darker episodes so they would know themselves what I don’t like, and decide if they want to go back and fill in the holes on their own sometime.
        But, I really don’t want to watch Nacho Sampler again. Beard is another of those I could imagine squeezing in, but oh I do dislike seeing that weak, broken, begging Sarah at the end. Maybe it’s best to just skip straight from 3.04 to 3.13 with brief verbal recap (let’s see; Morgan found out, Casey got fired, Chuck became an agent; begin Other Guy. Works for me!)

        Joe you are evil. But I’m on to you, that didn’t scare me at all. Now excuse me while I change my shorts…

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Maybe ‘Three Words’ instead then?

        Cuz, you know, Carina!!
        (Although her sleeping with Morgan on the same Star Wars sheets I had as a child is among the more unbelievable things in canon)

      • uplink2 says:

        AP I was going to say the same thing. Tic Tac up until the final scene is a good episode. Casey focused and of course no Shaw is always a big plus. But that final scene of pointless angst drags the entire episode down with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Three Words could an interesting place to start. I actually liked it when it first ran. But I always felt like the “cleaning up our mess” bit was a lie and misleading. Again, one of those darker episodes might not be a bad idea, but I’m not sure I can do that one. I’ll need to give it some thought.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t necessarily have to avoid all the angst. Doing a single marathon like this may make it all much more bearable, even for me, and I’m obviously quite sensitive to these things.
        So if I choose a single episode of the Misery Arc (I always see the mini “Awesome Arc” as a break from the misery) I think the front runners are Beard or Tic Tac. With Three Words or Nacho Sampler as possibilities. For myself, I definitely like Tic Tac the best of those.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Yeah – the “cleaning up our mess” bit I thought was clever dialogue at the time and a promise to do just that

        Definitely a bait-and-switch

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m sure we will discuss this in the alternate threads but I agree that Three Words is a decent episode though the Morgan Carina thing is just wrong on so many levels including that fact that Chuck said no to her first. But it fails because the great last scene meant nothing going forward. Great set up, great execution and then it’s like it never happened. Acting like it did matter would make their pointless OLI journey even less believable that it was if that’s even possible. Besides it ultimately makes Chuck a pretty unlikable character based on his later actions.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink that’s exactly why I dislike the Misery Arc so much, is it made Chuck himself completely unlikable to me through much of it.

        It’s also why I love fan fiction so much. I have seen so many alternate tellings of that story that strike me as vastly superior to canon it’s not even funny. I guess the one great thing about S3, it sure inspired a lot of awesome fan writing!

      • authorguy says:

        Makes me wish for a way to send any or all of these S3 AUs through time to the showrunners. You have to wonder what the scriptwriters were taking. On the other hand, we are free to come up with all sorts of stuff that they either can’t afford or have been told not to do.

      • uplink2 says:

        It’s one of the great mysteries of season 3. Why would you write an arc where your two leads, the main reasons folks watch the show, are made to be completely unlikable through much of it and in Chuck’s case in particular a complete DB at two critical points? Plus why make them all, such terrible spies throughout? Sarah in particular acts like she lost 50 points in her spy IQ. Did they have to bring them all down to Morgan Grimes level in order to add him to the team?

      • joe says:

        @Uplink

        Why would you write an arc where your two leads, the main reasons folks watch the show, are made to be completely unlikable through much of it and in Chuck’s case in particular a complete DB at two critical points?

        Completely? That’s too strong. Most of the fans still liked the characters, and most of the character’s character friends still liked them, so by that measure, your opinion is still a minority one, Uplink.

        How about, they did some pretty carelessly despicable things? That would come closer to a true statement.

        Signed, Evil Joe!

      • uplink2 says:

        @Joe Sure maybe that is too strong but its an emotional topic. But one could argue that “most fans” etc is also too strong as we have no way of knowing if that is a fact or not. The best we can say with any absolute is “I still liked the characters” or “I found them completely unlikable and despicable at times.”

        But your point still doesn’t negate the premise that they chose a storyline that made them very unlikable for much of it for me and some would question whether they ever recovered from it. Nor does it negate that they made all of them, especially Sarah, lose 50 points in spy IQ to sell the story. Stupid spy Sarah is just as annoying as whiny Chuck.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no idea about the “most” of it. But I would agree with saying unlikable Chuck and stupid Sarah were major problems with S3. And unlikable Chuck is something I’ve heard from more casual viewers quite often, so I think that was a MAJOR problem.

  14. garnet says:

    I only have time for a short post but I wanted to put in my two cents.
    First off I wan’t a fan of season 3 and the way they handled the Charah/Sham whatever, but I also think that we see a couple in the Ring that are not really at the point where they should be together. Chuck still thinks of Sarah as someone superhuman ” You’re Sarah you can do anything”. In a way the pedestal he has her on is matched by the idealized picture Sareah has of Chuck; He is sweet, innocent, and worships her. Clearly they are being set up for a fall. Chuck finding out Sarah isn’t perfect, and Sarah seeing Chuck as a cold-hearted spy. For that reason I accept that the setback at the start of season 3 was almost necessary/inevitable. It is interesting they decided to go more with Sarah’s reaction to the changes she fears in Chuck. I think there were other ways of dealing with what became the misery arc, but I can understand that the idealizes and romantic pictures they had of each other were destined to lead to trouble. Had they “hooked up” at this point they would really have had a caricature of a relationship (probably the most common type seen on TV 🙂 ), but with the way the show was heading, I was looking for a more real relationship. I would have prefered to see them deal with this themselves within a developing relationship, but TPTB decided otherwise.

    • atcDave says:

      Garnet I think you’re really overselling the difficulties. Everyone enters a relationship with lots of learning and growing to do before they start making plans and commitments. I think we’re living in a pretty delusional era when people expect some sort perfect chemistry or situation at the very start. Real people learn about each other and grow into a strong and mature relationship. Not talking to each other, and chasing after other outsiders is the opposite of that.
      So while I am mostly pleased with how Charah is written in S4 and S5, I think they fumbled what should have been the early stages quite badly. Chuck and Sarah were not ready to get married and have kids at the start of S3. But they certainly should have been learning about what their relationship could look like and who they both really were, together. Even my wife and I, and we knew each other for six years before we started dating, needed another year of dating before we were ready to talk marriage. This something not only Chuck, but serialized television in general handles very poorly. Chuck only seems worse to me because my hopes had been so high. No doubt, those hopes for a good portrayal of a growing relationship were shattered.

      • garnet says:

        I don’t think we really disagree. I see hopping into the sack with a person before you know what (if any) your feelings are toward the person is is what we commonly see on TV. And perhaps it reflects our overall society, but personally I think it reflects poorly on our society overall. I think what I hoped I was seeing at the time was a somewhat more real relationship than is typical on TV. Then they took what many would say was an EPIC romance and turned it into just another TV relationship.

        I would have much rather seen something closer to season 4 where they learned to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses together rather than apart, but as far as a “real” (and perhaps what I am saying here is really “committed”) relationship, I think they had miles to go before arriving at that station. As much as it hurts me to say it, Chuck was right to NOT leave with Sarah on her hairbrained jaunt off the grid (and he was totally wrong in how he did it).

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Garnet. No doubt Sarah’s scheme was hair brained, and that set up the whole misery arc. So many ways that could have been better managed.

    • authorguy says:

      My view as well. The Chuck and Sarah at the end of the Ring could have hooked up but it wouldn’t have been a good pairing at the time. They had to have this growing experience whether they hooked up before or after. But you’re right, they should have grown toward each other rather than apart.

    • uplink2 says:

      That’s one of the big issues. There may be some character growth, though I still question that as there is a lot of character diminishing going on as well, but there was no relationship growth whatsoever. If anything it was relationship regression but now we are supposed to just accept that they are ready to be together when they weren’t after Ring?

    • lappers84 says:

      To be fair though, as hard as Pink Slip was to deal with – you can almost (well I can anyway) forgive it by the time OA comes around – just finished re watching and remember the first time around you can almost feel things looking up. episodes 1-4 are definitely the reset episodes – just a shame those next 8 episodes weren’t utilised better

      • atcDave says:

        I sort of agree. I don’t believe I ever would have liked Pink Slip. But if it had been the “rock bottom” episode I likely would have been fine with it.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think that’s a fair statement. I know some folks that felt complete betrayal at Pink Slip and never recovered. I felt manipulated and betrayed certainly but Three Words gave me some sense of hope that the reset might be temporary and short lived. It was typical of an Ali Adler episode up to that point where Chuck and Sarah end up in a better place when the episode is over. But then it’s like it never happened. A good payoff that is simply thrown away for the sake of an unnecessary commitment to the empty OLI well. You take that scene out of the episode and nothing that happens afterwards has to change. That great scene simply became irrelevant and discarded. Ali’s next episode, my most hated, is the exact opposite as to me it is when they both hit rock bottom by the end and it almost drove me from the show forever.

      • atcDave says:

        I do know of two households that quit the show at Pink Slip, never even made it to Three Words that same night. One couple I got back watching anyway. I don’t know, the other might have come back if I could have told them it was the low point and things got better quickly.

    • anthropocene says:

      Unfortunately a critical part of the “fall” happened entr’acte, and was served up to us in flashbacks in Pink Slip. With respect to the storyline, it was totally out of the blue. Chuck and Sarah could have had a much more authentic relationship crisis in early S3 just by adjusting to the new reality of the Intersect 2.0—no need for Prague, Shaw, or Hannah—and then snapped out of it more believably too, in mid-season.

      • authorguy says:

        No, there was no need for them, TPTB just wanted them for there own fetishistic reasons. But while they were there they could have been used better than they were.Most of the pieces of season 3 are quite good and useful, just in the wrong places or applied to the wrong people. Certainly, given Chuck’s own love of comic books, the sudden advent of super powers could definitely send him off course.

      • uplink2 says:

        But the intent from the beginning was to delay them getting together till ep 13. It was never about an “authentic relationship crisis”. It was Josh going back to his perceived strength, teen relationship angst. Simply find some contrived way to break them apart, give them new LI’s early to mid–season starting with Chuck because they had to establish that first to justify Sarah her LI. Then stretch it out till 13 and put them back together no matter what the state of the relationship at the time. That was the formula.

      • atcDave says:

        That may have been the formula Uplink, but I think Anthro’s point is just that there’s plenty of legitimate sources of drama and tension they could have used, without resorting to the cliche they’d already done four times.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I agree Dave and that will be part of much of our discussions going forward I expect. But it appears to me the formula drove the season beyond all else.

      • anthropocene says:

        I concur, and Dave, you interpreted my points correctly. I do look forward to the S3 discussion.

  15. Good afternoon to Joe Ernie, actDve, thinkling,Liz,and Faith! I want to comment on THE RING!
    Of all the episodes I love on S2 and there ware a lot of them, the season finale of the Ring really was somthing special. Seeing Bryce Larkin played my Matt Bomar for the very last time before he goes off and plays Neal Cafferty on White Collar!!! I give high remarks to the script writers for bringing Matt back to play that part. Now to the episode!

    We all saw in S2 from the FIRST DATE to the COLONEL that Sarah was slowly coming out of her shell, just like Beckett on Castle. But in the RING, and I agree with all the points that actDave made. Sarah was uncomfortable with all the changes in life from Chuck deciding not to join her with the CIA to seeing her ex lover Bryce again. Sarah’s thought process is, I don’t know you. So, there was a lot of turmoil and confusion in Sarah’s life and she did make a decision when Chuck ask her to run off with him to have a normal life,but she decided to stay with the CIA and be with Bryce

    But the biggest change Sarah had to face was being in love. Sarah knew that when she saw Chuck walking Ellie down the walkway to give her hand to Devon in marriage! Sarah had a change of heart and wants to be with Chuck and that become more evident when she stayed behind and asked Chuck to dance with her because she wanted to be more than just a spy. For the very first time from a emotional perspective, Sarah felt wanted, needed, and relieved!!!

  16. As has been already mentioned ring is certainly a packed episode and is really great but on rewatching again and reading all the posts on here it surprises me how much Schwartz and co left open for what we thought was an unlikely order for season 3. I do think that they must have been fairly confident while writing this that they were going to be picked up. They must have started writing this months before broadcasting and so that may have been at the time of the superbowl ep Third Dimension aired that had the best ratings that season and been confident that they would retain that audience.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m not sure. Another commenter was speculating on another thread the same thing. And I’m not sure when it was written exactly, but it was produced in February. And we had all been worried about the ratings for quite some time, and the Jay Leno experiment was already in the works, so I really think assuming they would get another season was a HUGE gamble.

    • lappers84 says:

      Clearly they were taking a bit of a gamble with renewal, guess it’s lucky it paid off (or not based on what we did get on the whole)

      Incidentally I recently rewatched the youtube interview with Shwedak just before the final two episodes, and when asked what their favourite episodes were – Schwartz answered Ring and Fedak answered Colonel. I just thought that was pretty interesting, get’s a bit of a perspective of the two different styles that we saw in each of them.

      • atcDave says:

        That is interesting, clearly my taste is closer to Fedak’s; although the two wedding scenes are dynamite television.
        Lappers is that interview from the end of S2 or the end of the series?

      • lappers84 says:

        Series – here’s the link

  17. AndyT says:

    Greetings all,

    I have not participated in the blog in well over a year. In fact I have not really watched an episode of Chuck for more than a year. This is largely because I was probably overloaded on Chuck during its run on TV and with the discs. But, I had to comment on this episode. If I was given the ultimatum that you can only have ONE CHUCK EPISODE for the rest of your life, this would be the episode that I would choose. This is my absolute favorite. It has everything that makes Chuck brilliant. It is supremely hilarious with JEFFSTER at the wedding(Sam Kinison and the Indian lesbian), Casey as wedding planner, it has a great guest villain in Chevy Chase, the Chuck-Sarah relationship, music(Slow Club yay!), and maybe the best action set pieces on the show. It also has the killer ending with Chuck choosing to re-Intersect. I still remember the breathlessness that that the final five minutes were when I watched it. Very little tv has ever had me that excited and exhilarated. This is the episode of Chuck that I show to people when that ask about the show. It was the perfect end to the Second Season and a launch into new adventures.

  18. Chris Byrnes says:

    Chuck vs the Ring is my 5th favorite episode of the series. So much happens in 42 minutes that it amazes me each time I watch it. You have two weddings one awesome fight scene in a reception hall a new intersect and real emotions flowing.
    First I understand Dave’s reason behind not liking 2.0, but according to season 3 DVD, they wanted Chuck to learn Kung Fu at the end of season 1, but could not because of the writer’s strike and time allowed. I also do agree that it would get boring to see the same old Chuck just “stay in the car” people would lose interest in the show. The thing I don’t like about the 2.0 is Chuck relies on the skill sets too much, when his strongest muscle has always been his brain.
    But I will write more about the 2.0 more later, on to the rest of the episode
    The two weddings were both tremendously done. The first one at the church was fun and typical for the Chuck universe with Jeffster singing Mr. Roboto, Roark showing up at the wedding was funny. I love it when he said “There is no need to curse, you know damn well what I want.” I loved when Casey dropped into the reception hall Batman like with his team and said “You rang”
    Ellie stating that she didn’t want the big wedding. She preferred to get married on the beach was foreshadowing, but we can see that she was not happy with where she was. She constantly undermined Awesome’s mother with the old wedding traditions.
    When it came to the beach wedding, I loved every part of it. The song that was chosen really makes me tear up each time I watch it because the words of the song are so fitting with the scene, but what really stands out to me is Sarah. As I mentioned before in previous posts this is where I actually see love in Sarah’s eyes and the desire for Chuck on screen.
    We can all speculate when Day 564 took place. However, Sarah is not the type to just throw her feelings out there because of the past she only knows and what the future will bring. What she has learn in two years is how to love. Chuck made her believe in something that was eluding her all her life, but ever since Beefcake she has been more and more starting to show her feelings not by mouth, but by body language and facial expressions with the occasional slip of the mouth like in Sensei (I admit to having feelings) and Lethal Weapon (I am not the kind of girl who cheats on her cover boyfriend).
    Remember her training and fear has taught her how to bottle her feeling through the spoken mouth, but being hurt when Chuck doesn’t include her in his quests, helping him find his dad, touching him whenever she could, but mostly for not doing what a “normal guy would do”
    When getting back to the beach- Sarah through body language showed me that she was in love. While Chuck is walking down the aisle Sarah begins to watch him, she really is not paying attention to the wedding her eyes are focused on him. She glances at Ellie and Awesome, but quickly turns back to Chuck. Meanwhile, Bryce is looking on and although he asks, but he knew that she was not going to come with him. Through all this you can see her eyes filled with love and attraction.
    Now I can talk about the exchange they had at the church regarding the vacation request, but that has been discussed enough and it was a bad move on Chuck’s part, but again Sarah’s eyes show you that for once the spy life is ruining things for her. Her eyes have tears in them after chuck says
    Chuck: Thanks for coming to the wedding…it’s good for the cover.
    For the first time Sarah is on the receiving end of the cover line and it hits home….
    , Sarah’s agent switch is off and the woman from within is hurting.

  19. Christopher says:

    This to me is the most significant episode of Chuck. It impacts all the storylines heading forward. It also feeds into the Prague Incident. Let me explain, I believe after watching the colonel recently I have been able to link the end of that episode as the beginning of Prague. Here is what I mean There is a particular scene that I refer to when it comes to Sarah and Chuck. As Orion is telling them that he was able to take out the intersect, you can see explosions from the bombs being used to destroy the Fulcrum base. However, as you see Chuck and Sarah faces its telling you the correlation between the explosions and how they are feeling. They were going to lose each other, it bother Sarah a lot. if you notice in Chuck vs the ring she is all emotional in the beginning.

    Even the presence of Bryce has not change her feeling that Chuck was about to leave her life and she was not happy about this.She gets her hopes up again when GB asks Chuck if he wants to work on the new Intersect Project. However, Chuck shoots it down. saying he is not a hero. in the meantime, Sarah’s facial expression is telling you that she is not pleased with that decision. The truth is Agent Walker is not a factor anymore. Sarah wants to be Chuck’s girlfriend and she has begun to accept it.

    Some more evidence of this was when Chuck and Sarah are in the holding cell, and Chuck says two bed two bath cell. She asks two beds? its not what she said. its how she said it. her eyes have nothing but love in them now, and it is well received by Chuck.

    WE get to The first of two weddings in this episode. one awesome reception hall fight scene and we have a prototypical Chuck wedding. Chuck’s eyes as Sarah tell him that she was leaving in the morning and with Bryce was something Chuck was not expecting to hear after he requested to go on a vacation with him. This is where Chuck made a mistake. He didn’t express how he wanted to not only go on a vacation with Sarah, but he wanted her in his life. It almost seemed like a vacation was the easier thing to say, which in reality was something that was always wrong with Chuck and Sarah. Their unwillingness to acknowledge what they were feeling and tell the other was what was holding them back. It was not like the love was not there. The eyes tell you everything especially for Sarah, who watches Chuck walk away from her saying

    Chuck: Thanks for coming, it’s good for the cover.

    For Chuck we have begun to see the frustration take its toll even for a man that knew how to keep his cool, but what he doesn’t see is the pain in Sarah eyes. Her eyes wet with tears because she was not there on an assignment she was at Elle’s Wedding as his date and so much wants to tell him that she wanted to be with him.

    When they get to the reception, Sarah offers Chuck a chance to dance, and while dancing Sarah eyes tell the story. Closed and enjoying the moment. It is a feeling of being where she wants to be. There is nothing like it. She has never felt this way before.

    Sarah wanting to dance

    Sarah loves being in Chucks arms

    What I find beautiful about the look Sarah has on her face was a transition look. As she comes into his arms she has proclaim herself as his girlfriend. It has not been spoken yet, but Sarah has happiness, love and most importantly has Chuck in her arms. In his arms she wants to stay.

    Chuck Bartowski: You belong out there. Save the world. I’m just – I’m just not that guy.

    Sarah Walker: How many times do you have to be a hero to realize that you *are* that guy?

    Chuck Bartowski: But I want more Sarah. I want a life. I want a real life.

    Sarah Walker: Chuck, I don’t want to save the world. I want –

    Sarah was going to tell him that she was not going to leave, and want to stay and see how they feel about each other. This was a big step for Sarah because she refused orders and told Bryce she was not coming.

    As the path continues, Chuck is thinking about how he was losing Sarah to Bryce and the CIA. There is only one thing he can do, which is when given the choice this time. He downloaded the Intersect 2.0. For Chuck it was about being able to be with Sarah, and he needed to enter her world in order to do it, but Chuck never gave Sarah a chance to explain her side. Like he will say to Sarah in Chuck vs the Other Guy. I never asked you an important question.

    Intersect 2

    As good as it was for Chuck to download the new intersect, Sarah was not happy about it. She didn’t want him to be a part of this world. In her eyes, the normal life he was living was what she wanted, and by him deciding to enter her world, she was losing that chance.

    The feelings were there, but the fact that they did not communicate it to each other was where the problem really was. This of course until Sarah decided to take action. She asked Chuck to run with her and unfortunately for Sarah, even Chuck was capable of letting her down. He did what she did for the last two years.

    He chose duty over her. He explained that he did it for the sake of helping others and for the chance to be with Sarah because he loved her, but he never listened to what she was saying. Look at what she told him

    Sarah Walker: We could run? You and me. We go now and never look back.

    Chuck Bartowski: Are you serious?

    Sarah Walker: I have some money saved up. I’d have to get us some new identities. Create an escape route. For now go to the training facility in Prague. Then meet me in the Nadrazzi Train Station in 3 weeks time at 7:00. And then I can figure out the rest later.

    Chuck Bartowski: What are you saying?

    Sarah Walker: I’m saying I want to be a real person again, with you. That’s what you want, right? I mean this is it, Chuck. Will you run away with me?

    She is not asking him to join her world..She is telling him I want out and start a life with you. She explained to him the downside of being a spy. How every city is a new mission and new Identity, soon you will lose yourself.

    Chuck Bartowski: [Thinks about it] Yeah.

    The nerd in him was telling him something else. Sarah Walker was telling him that she was ready, and it flow right over his head.

    Finally, we arrived at Prague. Sarah is waiting for Chuck, which he arrives, but he is not the same Chuck that told his father that he loved her. He came as Agent Walker. Two simple words that would pay the way for the entire season 3

    Sarah Walker: this is simple. This is a real life… We have to go Chuck… Are you coming?

    Chuck Bartowski: [Long pause, Chuck let’s go of Sarah’s hand] I can’t. I’m sorry.

    Chuck said I can’t, something she told Chuck for two years now has turned against her. The road that followed really began four weeks prior to Prague. WE just didn’t notice.

  20. First Impression says:

    It’s a Perfect Day, the Chuck Way.  Ellie gets her dream wedding and Chuck is the hero.

    Favorite lines:
    Sarah: You look like a real spy.  Chuck: You look like a real bridesmaid.
    Casey, crashing through the skylight: You rang.
    Chuck: If I could give her anything in the world, I would…     
    Sarah:  It’s not what a normal guy would do.
    Sarah: You wanna dance?    Chuck: You know I do.
    Sarah: How many times do you have to be a hero to realize you are that guy?    
    Sarah: I want a real life.  I don’t want to save the world.  I want…
    Chuck: I have to go.   Orion: No you don’t. You’re not a spy.    Chuck: Dad, I love her.
    Bryce: Bad day to be me.  [I actually hate to see the end of Bryce.]

    As S2 comes to an end, it’s bittersweet because I know that S3 will be different.  After seeing The Ring, I thought about how much the characters had changed over these 35 episodes.  Sarah has become more loyal, more beautiful, and more ‘real’.   Chuck has grown up.  He’s making decisions, he’s kept his moral compass, and he’s choosing a font.  A Perfect Day.

    Speaking of a Perfect Day, Zachary must have picked up some clever spy skills to pull off his secret nuptials with Missy this week. 🙂

    • atcDave says:

      Definitely a fun episode. I hated to see the end of Bryce too, he will be missed.

      Yeah funny about Zac! Like a real spy…

  21. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Ring (2.22) | Chuck This

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