Chuck Versus First Class (3.05)



First Class! Now That’s Respect.

When Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak decided to let Chuck out of the car by re-intersecting with version 2.0 they set themselves quite the task.  The show has always hung a lot of the comedy, drama and appeal on Chuck as both a screw-up who ruins a mission through his naiveté, innocence or inexperience, and then often saves the day not through traditional spy-craft, but through his quick wits or empathy or nerdy tech-savy outside the box solutions.  Make him too much of a traditional spy and those hooks, and that appeal, are gone.  Keep him in the same place, he becomes a stale premise for the mission of the week as a pure procedural.   The trick is to let Chuck grow while keeping him Chuck.  To their credit, and in their inimitable “meta” way they managed to turn their dilemma into Chuck’s.  Both the show and the character.  Can Chuck be a spy without losing his Chuck-ness is the central conflict of the season for both Chuck and Sarah.

Last week’s Chuck Versus Operation Awesome managed that problem by showing us that while Chuck is still Chuck to his team, to an outsider he’s kind of an awesome spy.  This week that theme continues with, sadly, Team B still doubting their titular leader, but still pulling together to support him as he ventures tentatively out into spy-land alone.  Chuck needs to get some respect, both from his team and for himself.  This episode is all about earning it, with a little help from your friends.  After the jump.

One of the things delightfully evident with the way Chuck is written is that Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak grew up bathed in the pop culture of the ’80’s and love to toss in every homage and reference they can.  From Tron to the copious Star Wars references to the background props and the cinematic feel to each episode, Schwedak take a nerdy delight in helping some of us re-live our childhoods through the show.  Also Schwedak know the plot devices those movies used and the numerous tropes by heart, but they have a way of both using them with a wink and a nod evident in their use and a way of turning them into something far more meaningful than a trope or a plot point.

Everyone celebrates and gushes over the role reversal in the Chuck and Sarah pairing, but they often refuse to carry it into the romantic aspects of Chuck.  In one of the more typical rom-com plots the well-intentioned but slightly clueless man must be humbled in order to realize that he has been holding back the remarkable strong woman from realizing her value and her full potential.  Once he accepts her on her terms as his equal they can be re-united in a stronger more mature love, even though that initial love never really died for either of them.  Reverse the sexes and Chuck is that plucky hero who has been unintentionally held back by Sarah’s need to protect and mother him and keep her Chuck from changing.  Now of course this is Chuck so it goes deeper than that, but in essence that is Chuck and Sarah’s dilemma.  He needs to feel he’s Sarah’s equal, she can’t seem to let go of her Chuck long enough to let him grow into the man who can both love and protect her the way she needs, admit it or not.

On a superficial level that is all you need to know to understand that there is no problem with Chuck and Sarah.  Chuck has his problems and Sarah has hers, and it will be after Chuck gets over his and Sarah gets over hers that they will see that the only thing keeping them apart was themselves.  I bring this up because in Chuck Versus First Class we get our best look so far at what did and will, for a time,  keep Chuck and Sarah apart, and how someone other than each other will be the catalyst that helps them see their way back to each other.  In rom-com terms they each need to experience their supposed ideal mate and see how that supposed ideal falls short of the flawed other they truly love.  In the process they can also discover what it is they really give to each other and how they really fit as opposed to each of them trying to drastically change their lives in an attempt to fit into the other’s world.  Or worse, trying to get the other to give up everything they are to fit into theirs.  In addition it is a way to let them walk in each other’s shoes for a bit, to gain a deeper understanding of each other.

This Chris Fedak penned episode is the beginning of the process for both Chuck and Sarah.  After re-establishing Chuck and Sarah in their “season 2” mode, friends and potential lovers with a barrier keeping them apart for the time being in last weeks Chuck Versus Operation Awesome, this week begins the process of their individual journeys.   Sarah starts to let go, and Chuck starts to grow.  For Chuck the journey to discover himself while remaining Sarah’s Chuck will be quicker but more painful to watch for Sarah.  Sarah’s journey seems more like she’s simply adrift, falling back into old patterns, trying to regain that connection she had with Chuck but never quite managing to do so, then apparently giving up, until we see in sharp painful detail why Sarah has been unable to let Chuck follow his path.

Let’s start with the B-story.  Morgan needs some respect, and some help.  The BuyMorons still see Morgan as one of their fellow losers, but Morgan has decided to up his game, to run with the big-dogs, and his disruption of their fight-club has Lester and his evil cabal battling for supremacy.  Morgan’s natural position in the Buy More pecking order has always been just under Chuck, but poor delusional Lester just doesn’t see it that way.  And while Morgan has usually amused himself at the store’s expense by sitting back and letting events unfold, he clearly knows the ropes.  Not to say that Lester doesn’t have his moments.

Chuck has bigger things on his plate, so sorry Morgan, and kudos to Chris Fedak for the first foray into what will become perhaps the show’s second best odd couple pairing (yes I’m counting Chuck and Sarah as #1) as John Casey of the infamous volleyball event joins forces with Morgan Guillermo Grimes to defeat the insurgents and bring peace to BuyMoria.

Chuck needs some respect.  While Sarah doesn’t toss him under the bus, she doesn’t really show him much respect.  In keeping with a theme that started in season 2, as much as Sarah tries to be supportive and help Chuck, she can also make him feel pretty inadequate at times.  The start of this episode is one of them.  Chuck has embarked on his mission to become a man who Sarah can not only love, but respect and admire.  Someone who can protect her when he needs to.  A suitable partner in every sense.  But through her actions, borne out of good intentions and a desire to protect him, she undermines him in front of their new boss.  This is the dynamic Chuck seeks to escape by becoming a real spy.  How can you be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you?

If Sarah’s reluctance to see Chuck go on a mission seemed like a lack of respect, and it was, we immediately see the source is fear.  Raw fear for Chuck’s safety without her there to protect him.  And it isn’t hard to see why.  Chuck’s very Chuckness seems to invite trouble that spills out in unexpected ways.  Some of those ways seem benign, like chatting up your neighbor on a long flight.  Others, like attracting the bad guy’s attention by repeatedly clicking your malfunctioning tranq pen or hiding in the first place the bad guy is likely to look are potentially very very bad.  So I’ll cut Sarah some slack for the disrespect in front of Shaw.

And on to Shaw.  He actually works very well for me this episode.  He has a clearly defined role to play and Routh does it pretty well.  He’s the mysterious, and slightly dangerous new spy brought in to shake up the team that puts the fun in dysfunction.  He has no history with the team, so he sees things very differently.  Sarah and Casey’s well founded fear of sending Chuck out to do dangerous things without them is not only holding him back, but making him doubt himself, and so he sets up a mission that should be relatively straightforward to start the process of toughening Chuck up and letting him feel some sense of what a mission without team B is like.

But on every mission unexpected things happen, and Sarah knows this as much as she fears it.  To Shaw the only way Chuck will ever learn to survive in the spy world is to be able to handle the unexpected without needing to call on his team.  To Sarah any one of those unexpected things could kill him, and she’s not ready to face the possibility of life without Chuck.  When Sarah begs Chuck not to go now because he needs more time the subtext is that clearly she’s the one who needs more time.

As for Chuck, yeah, he does need more time.  Chuck may want to be a spy but he doesn’t yet understand how much that requires him to give up.  Awesome hinted at it at the end of Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte.  He has to learn to wall off hip personal life at all times.  Give up on relationships with civilians.  Be suspicious of everyone who approaches you, and never ever let your guard down and drink that drink that just seems to have showed up.

So all the way to Paris and he couldn’t even get off the plane.  Chuck is finally starting to see that the spy-life may not be all he imagined it would be.  There are a lot more gut punches and a lot fewer Parisian vacations than he’d likely imagined.  But there just might be a girl, maybe just not the one he thought.

I like this episode a lot more on re-watch, though to be fair I liked it a lot initially too.  At this point both Hannah and Shaw are working as potential partners for Chuck and Sarah.  Shaw is mysterious and dangerous and even somewhat sympathetic as he and Sarah do battle over Chuck.  Sarah seeing wisdom in Shaw’s method and commitment to Chuck’s safety, but not at the risk of leaving him unprepared for what he will face as a spy works as a reason for her to pull back, which compounded with her lack of respect for Chuck as a spy gives Chuck a reason to think it might be time to move on, eventually.

~ Ernie


The Buy More Insurgency

The Buy More Insurgency

Casey: What?
Morgan: I need you. Okay? Please help me. I don’t know what they’ll do next. The mute – Lester and his gang. They’ve taken over the store, they set booby traps for me everywhere, I’m going crazy here. I can’t fight them by myself anymore. They don’t follow any rules.
Casey: Insurgents! I hate insurgents!

Morgan’s getting no respect from his fellow Buy Morons. What about Chuck? Is he getting any respect from Beckman? No, and not from Casey, certainly. But ask yourself if he’s getting respect from Sarah. That’s a more interesting question.

Love and Respect

Love and Respect

It’s easy to think that Sarah does respect Chuck because we all know that she loves him. Of course she does. But Sarah hasn’t told Chuck, yet. She hasn’t been close to admitting it to anyone but her private log so far. In fact, Sarah seems to be actively fighting the idea, thinking that she should stay un-involved for his own good. They are, officially, friends. But is she showing him respect?

Maybe not. Sarah doesn’t believe that Chuck is able to handle himself alone on a mission. As far as she’s concerned she has to be there to guide and protect him or he’s liable to do something very Chuck-like. And you know how the nerd is. When he does something Chuck-like, it usually causes no end of difficulty.

Ready or Not

Ready or Not

Yes, Chuck would find some bone-headed way to screw things up and only then find some absurd way to make it all right. “Well, better than all right,” Sarah would say to herself. But still, it would be part skill, part shoe-string catch and part luck. Even if she loves him now, you can see how Sarah’s mind can’t quite get over the hurdle of Chuck not needing her, at least, when he’s on a mission. That’s something she’s just not ready for.

There is someone who respects our boy, though. Shaw thinks Chuck is ready to be out on his own. Not only has Chuck already been on more missions than most agents dream of, he’s got a unique talent too. As a boss, Shaw’s got something over Sarah and Casey – he recognizes Chuck’s value as a spy and there’s no reason for him to “stay in the car” any more.

Shaw: I’m right, aren’t I? I should tell you, I’m always right. It’s annoying, but true.
Sarah: Why don’t you tell me what you’re right about so I can tell you that you’re wrong.

So with that, Chuck’s off on his first solo mission, flying first class to Paris.

Not an Annapolis graduate

Not an Annapolis graduate

We should not be surprised that Chuck trusts Shaw here in First Class. He has no reason not to, and every reason to trust him so far. Saying that, I don’t think we, the fans, trust Shaw at all at this point. The man’s got nervous habits (flipping that lighter) and he’s got secrets. But face it; to Chuck, Shaw is actually a good mentor. In fact, despite Sarah’s fears and concerns, the only way that Chuck is going to be the spy he wants to be is to do exactly what Shaw says he should do. Chuck needs to take the training wheels off the Intersect-bike and ride solo for a bit. That’s not a bad plan!

That is, so long as Chuck survives it’s not a bad plan. It’s too bad that Shaw lies to Chuck (and to Sarah and Casey) about the mission in Paris. It’s not in Paris at all – The mission is on the plane. Chuck has to find and retrieve a high-tech cipher key from a ring agent on the plane, who’s known to be a master of close-quarters combat, one Hugo Panzer (Steve Austin). At the goon’s appearance in the cargo hold (where the key is hidden), Chuck reverts back to his pre-intersect, girlish screams. Maybe Chuck isn’t ready after all. It’s a shame. The mission would be enough for Chuck to prove himself ready for the spy life. To Chuck, that’s enough to prove himself worthy to Sarah, too.

Sarah: [angrily] You should have told me!
Shaw: [calmly] This is why I didn’t.
Sarah: Chuck is not ready for Paris. And he’s certainly not ready for a mid-air mission. I mean, we can’t even go in and help him!
Shaw: Well, now we find out if your asset is a real spy.
Sarah: [looking incredulous] Who are you, Agent Shaw?

This is the exact moment when Shaw refuses to let Sarah help him. It’s Casey who tells Chuck to flash or die. Don’t think that’s important? For the first time, Chuck, when he needs to, flashes without Sarah’s help and that’s a milestone.

Ring muscle Steve Austin/Hugo Panzer

Ring muscle Steve Austin/Hugo Panzer

It may not be enough to complete the mission, though because the Ring does not send out it’s people alone, at least, not muscle-bound egotistical drones like Hugo Panzer. Backing up the muscle is Serina (Josie Davis, who surreptitiously plays stewardess on Chuck’s flight and ends up poisoning him. Chuck is a dead man.

Only one thing stands between Chuck’s demise (the end of the show!), the failure of the mission and salvation. It’s not Sarah this time, and it’s not the Intersect. It’s Shaw. He recognizes Serina’s MO and has the authority to marshall the resources that save the day. If it’s a matter of trust, Shaw has proven himself to someone who didn’t trust him at all at first; Sarah.

There’s one other danger on board that no one anticipated; not Shaw, Sarah and certainly not Chuck. There’s someone on board who knows nothing about Chuck’s spy life yet seems to know everything about him, someone who looks into his eyes to recognize that he’s never been to Paris before and doesn’t think it makes him unworthy. This is someone who respects him, and reminds him very much of the women he’s known before.

Hannah on the plane

Hannah on the plane

Why is Hannah a threat? It’s because just at the moment when Chuck has learned to control the Intersect, just as he’s about to become a real spy and just as Chuck as proven to himself that he can have his dream of being a spy, Hannah can give Chuck a his normal life. It wouldn’t be one or the other; spy or normal life. With Hannah, he can have both.

Shaw has lost an operative once before to The Ring, it seems. In an admission that was hard for Sarah to hear, she finds out that Shaw’s wife was killed five years earlier by one of their agents. Shaw’s borderline obsessiveness and secrecy actually has an explanation, one that she finds adequate.

Sarah’s been keeping secrets of her own. Sometime after Prague she dropped off the radar and was spotted in Lisbon, apparently following Chuck. If you’re wondering how much Sarah trusts Shaw now, consider that it’s enough for her to confess that she was taking care of Bryce’s last wish; to tend to her late partner’s ashes at the site of their first mission together.

Chuck vs. First Class was not an easy episode for me to watch again. That’s not because of the story (which, IMHO, leads us well into the rest of the season) or because of the acting. This episode makes me uneasy because of what’s coming, not because of what’s here.

The look on Chuck’s face as Hannah waltzes into the Buy More smiling tells us that Chuck too is uneasy. He’s at a major cross-roads, and knows it. The problem is, Chuck doesn’t want to make a decision between being a spy and “having the girl.”

When Hannah walks into the Buy More, it may look like he’s decided to take the road that leads to Hannah. But don’t be fooled. Chuck thinks he have both worlds. He’s decided to not decide.

That seldom works out.

– joe


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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39 Responses to Chuck Versus First Class (3.05)

  1. authorguy says:

    Not commenting about specifics yet but I have to say I’m enjoying the way you distinguish between the superficial aspects of Chuck and what’s really going on underneath. This season is all about the symbolism, not the surface. Back to reading.

    • joe says:

      Absolutely. For me it’s like the real story is happening in the inner workings of the character’s psyche, and it’s really hard to find in their dialogues and interactions.

      I happen to be watching The Sopranos (again) – all 86 episodes in (very) quick succession, and I think it sort of primed me for what I’m seeing here. That show is all about the characters inner workings, much more than this part of Chuck. Makes for amazing – and difficult – TV.

      • authorguy says:

        I’m seing the story on three levels, what’s shown on the screen, what’s happening inside the characters, and a more symbolic level. On that level Hannah isn’t a girl, she’s the normal life, and she’s whispering in his ear the second she gets Chuck alone, and Chuck reacts as a normal man instead of a spy. This is his dilemma, the source of the misery in the misery arc, to me. Only after he makes the decision to leave her behind can he move forward as a spy. On the inner psychic level, she is the ultimate test of his decision, his perfect woman in every way. On the real level, she’s a seatmate, someone to talk to when he really shouldn’t. I see no flirting or any attempt to be anything other than the nice guy he is.
        I don’t see Shaw’s actions quite so positively. In OA he saw Chuck essentially helpless without his handlers. I see him here sending Chuck out untrained, in an enclosed environment, where the only way anyone can help him is through Shaw. And Shaw allows that help, so he isn’t after Chuck operating solo, he just wants any help given to be on his terms.

      • joe says:

        We’re thinking along the same lines, especially about Hannah.

        Is there another kind of tension here, though? It’s like Hannah is pulling him back to what he once was. Sarah is pulling him towards what he can be. Chuck is very much struggling with those two versions of himself, I think.

        About Shaw; Despite the unexpected presence of Serina on the plane, I don’t think he’s made any mistakes yet. I guess you could think that he (Shaw) was just lucky and changed his mind at the right time about helping. But ultimately, he was right about Chuck being ready and about Sarah (and Casey) coddling him. Chuck really wasn’t helpless – he had the Intersect and he did have Shaw’s help the same way he had Casey’s help in The First Date, right? I’ll catch you when you fall.

        Yeah, it’s a find line and open to interpretation.

      • authorguy says:

        I don’t know that Hannah was pulling him backward, but she was definitely the second horn of a dilemma. It could only have ended badly for her. The fact that it ended as badly as it did is probably more her fault than Chuck’s, she was always more aggressively pursuing him than he her.
        I don’t think Shaw’s made any mistakes yet, either. He had the equipment to control the plane, and a pilot at hand. But Chuck did not actually do anything, either, aside from shoot the drug into Panzer’s mouth. He was on the phone with someone every step of the way. I see Shaw in this as establishing himself as the always right, always prepared guy.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I see Shaw in this as establishing himself as the always right, always prepared guy.

        While that is certainly part of what they are doing I think they also want to establish him as cocky enough to be slightly dangerous to Chuck, if not the team. Remember in the last episode he essentially set up Team B so he’d have a cardiologist on hand when he “died” to throw the Ring off him and he planned to use Devon as a mole inside the Ring, the same assignment that got his wife killed.

      • authorguy says:

        And then after Chuck defies him to save Devon, he makes Sarah and Casey stand aside as Chuck’s ‘plan’ falls apart, until he comes to the rescue himself. Much of what Shaw does in this is best seen as punishing them for trying to operate outside his bounds, even when his bounds are shifting, pointless, or stupid. The only consistent aspect of his character is passionlessness carried to the point of cruelty.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I see it more as pushing Chuck out of his comfort zone and making him learn to deal with the unexpected things that always come up on missions. Certainly he also wants Chuck to rely less on his team. I’d agree that his not letting Casey and Sarah go to help Chuck right away was him rather recklessly trying to set boundaries and punish Chuck.

        There is a certain cruelty to the character, I’ll agree with that.

      • authorguy says:

        If he wanted Chuck to not rely on his team he should have taken away his phone. I think it would have made a more effective episode if he’d been forced to work alone for real, but instead he’s still dependent, just on Shaw first.

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    One thing I was going to mention but cut for length was the deleted scenes associated with this episode on the DVD. While they aren’t canon they do give some indication of TPTB’s thinking. There are 3 for this episode. The first and third concern the Sarah/Shaw interactions in this episode and the second is about the Team B dynamics. The second plays a lot harsher for team B, Sarah especially, as she angrily orders Chuck out of the room while she and Casey discuss their objections to his solo mission with Shaw. Essentially saying go away, the adults need to talk, taking his opinion or desires for his future out of his hands. This is a very season 2 Sarah, if not season 1, and clearly one of the things that is chafing at Chuck and causing a rift between he and Sarah. I think the scene they used instead worked fine in this case.

    The first and third are more interesting. In the first Sarah and Casey discuss the mysterious Shaw and how to find out more about him. Casey suggests Sarah use her seduction skills to get close to Shaw and get information. Sarah rejects the idea, leading Casey to wonder if there’s something afoot with his partner and Shaw.

    A number of times I’ve heard this scene raised as an indication that Sham was originally meant to be an actual Sham with Sarah merely playing Shaw as a mark. I know a lot of people find this idea appealing, but in fact combined with the third scene it is the exact opposite. In the third scene, one where Sarah comes back into the main room in Castle after following Shaw to ask what was in the envelope to have Casey ask what she was able to find out, apparently assuming Sarah was doing what he suggested. Instead of sharing what she found out about Shaw she tells Casey she learned nothing. Nothing about his wife or her death or Shaw’s reasons for going after The Ring so obsessively. It is clearly information that would or should inform the team’s relationship with Shaw, but Sarah has decided to side with Shaw and keep his secret. It would have worked quite well as an initial indication that Sarah sees Shaw as a sympathetic figure, or even that there is some connection if not attraction at this point. In most cases I can understand the decision to take out a scene, but in early season 3 there are a number of scenes that were apparently cut for length that add a lot to a character’s state of mind and actions. I think these two were among them.

    Makes me wish for those 60-90 minute directors cuts Schwedak laugh about getting all the time. Who knows, maybe we’ll get the super-extended directors cut DVD set as a kick-starter award for the movie.

  3. resaw says:

    Ernie and Joe, I ‘ve always appreciated your comments on this forum, but this time, you guys are positively outstanding, as is authorguy for his contributions. I don’t think I can add a thing to the conversation above.

    I did, however, catch a line from Shaw that made me think a little about what was being intended here. Shaw says, “We both made the same mistake, Sarah; we fell in love with spies.” Who are “we both”? Shaw and his wife? Or Shaw and Sarah? If the latter, then he is observing that Sarah has fallen in love with Chuck. What are your thoughts about this?

    • joe says:

      I always thought Shaw’s line was him admitting that recognized the situation. Sarah was in love with Chuck. On top of that, he recognizes Chuck is a spy. It’s a good thing and confirmation that he respects Chuck.

      Thank you for the compliment, Resaw. We appreciate your contributions too.

    • authorguy says:

      I feel pretty stupid for not having noticed this earlier. I always took it as him and Sarah, that he was making some appeal to having common grounds with her. But he probably meant Bryce, who also died, rather than Chuck. And if he’s aware of her ‘history’, a talking point I never saw realized in the show, it could also have been a warning about getting to attached to Chuck.
      And thank you for your kind words above. I think a lot about this season, especially these last several months. As Joe said above, it’s amazing and difficult.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for your kind words Resaw.

      We both is certainly Sarah and Shaw. Yvonne has basically said so when talking about how she played Sarah’s connection with Shaw. As far as whether Shaw thinks the spy Sarah fell in love with is Chuck or Bryce, I think he accepts that she intends him to think it’s Bryce but is still suspicious about her relationship with Chuck.

      What I find more interesting is the revelation that she was under surveillance once she disobeyed Beckman’s order to keep in touch.

    • joe says:

      This just got good!
      For some reason, I never considered that Shaw might have been talking about Bryce when he said “We both made the same mistake, Sarah; we fell in love with spies.” Moreover, I never considered that he was being intentionally ambiguous.

      Was he being ambiguous? Did he not think that Sarah loved Chuck at this point? Or was he just trying to let Sarah think she had successfully hidden her emotions from him? That’s a layer of subtly I missed before.

      I love finding new things like this to contemplate!

      • ref51907 says:

        Ambiguous. Isn’t that what spies are supposed to get great at. Being ambiguous, making you think one thing while meaning the other, or muddling the issue?

  4. joe says:

    Marc’s comments above really got me thinking, and I need a bit of the crowd’s wisdom here.

    Does Lisbon ever come up again? I don’t recall that it does, which seems odd because there are many questions about it now.

    The big one is, why did Sarah go to Lisbon? Was it really for Bryce’s last wish? Was she following Chuck? Both?

    I don’t recall that Chuck’s training, which I thought was happening solely in Prague, took him to Lisbon. Yet, it must be on the record that Shaw had, because he says so with authority and could be easily contradicted if he’s lying. Would Sarah have known that Chuck was there?

    If Sarah really did follow Chuck to Lisbon, is she part stalker? That seems so OOC, but only two months (in show time) after Sarah admits she was there, she follows Shaw to DC, so she has that track record.

    There’s some odd-ball evidence to suggest either possibility. Shaw shows Sarah a picture of her taken in Lisbon, where she’s standing outside on a hotel balcony holding something. I’m not sure what that something is, but it could be either two candles (one in each both in one hand) or a metal urn (with glare making it look like two candles). I stared at it, and it looks like candles to me, but I don’t understand that, even if she’s mourning her relationship with Chuck. That’s really OOC.

    An urn, probably containing Bryce’s ashes, makes more sense, but then she’s not stalking Chuck at all even if she knows he’s there. If that’s so, then why does Shaw say that she’s in love with a spy. After Sarah’s explanation he couldn’t mean Chuck.

    Ack! I’m really confused.

    • authorguy says:

      As far as I know Chuck never went to Lisbon. I took it at face value that she went to run away with him in Prague and fit in the trip to Lisbon as a side-stop, either before or after, I don’t recall the timeline. It could also have been a cover for her going to Prague, to explain to someone why she went off grid. I’ll rewatch the scene tonight but I don’t recall Shaw saying that Chuck was in Lisbon.
      One thing I did specifically look for this morning was the look on Chuck’s face when Hannah walked in the door at the Buy More. The first part seemed like pure WTF?, followed by what seemed like a decision to take it as a good thing. The smile wasn’t automatic or the first thing, like it would have been with Sarah.

      • joe says:

        You’re right that Shaw doesn’t explicitly say that Chuck was in Lisbon. What he does say, though, is that Sarah “followed him to Lisbon,” which connotes something slightly different. Like you, I thought Sarah fit the trip in as a side-stop, right after Prague, when she is surely off-grid. But that’s the one time we know for sure that Chuck isn’t off-grid. Shaw would know precisely where he was then.

        Shaw knows how to use a convenient truth as much as he knows how to use a lie, so it’s hard to tell.

        A favor, Marc! I tried to post a screen-cap of Sarah holding that mystery object in Lisbon, but WordPress doesn’t seem to give me the option in comments. Would you take a close look and see if you can’t tell what she’s holding?


      • authorguy says:

        I’ll check tonight. It’s also possible Chuck had a layover in Lisbon on his way to Prague, and she stopped there.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I always saw it as Sarah starting off to meet up with Chuck, taking care of Bryce’s last request as a sort of symbolic act, putting her spy past behind her. I assume, but we don’t know, that from Lisbon she traveled to Prague, then back to Burbank unobserved.

      The premise that Chuck could just walk away from his training facility unobserved always felt like a bit of a stretch for me, and this kind of dials that back a bit, allowing for the possibility that Beckman suspected Sarah might try something and had her watched.

      The object Sarah is holding looks like an urn to me.

      • joe says:

        That’s good! Couldn’t quite convince myself that it was an urn, but if that’s the consensus, we know that Sarah’s indeed in Lisbon for Bryce.

        At least that much is not a cover story.

      • Joe, it’s definitely an urn. 8 inches high, maybe 6 inches across, metallic sheen, and she’s got her hand wrapped around, holding it against her waist.
        Shaw says, “Seven months ago, while Chuck was in Prague you went off grid for three days in Lisbon…” No sign she was anywhere near Chuck at the time, even though Shaw also says”…or were you there to meet up with Chuck?” So he definitely thinks there’s some cahooting going on, and his comment about falling in love with spies is much more ambiguous, although technically, she didn’t fall in love with a spy.

      • joe says:

        Ah, thanks for checking, Marc! (And I should know better than to try to quote from memory.)

        Yes, I can see an urn now; or maybe a canister, actually. Sarah’s thumb disappears behind it in a way that shows the (otherwise dark) outline. Those aren’t candles, but reflections of the light.

        I’m not sure what to make of Shaw saying Chuck was in Lisbon, though. Except for that one statement, I don’t recall any evidence that he was anywhere except in Prague during that time. I’m starting to suspect Shaw is more than devious and duplicitous already, which starts to contradict something I always thought – that Shaw didn’t go over to the dark side until The Director showed him the video, much later.

        So why isn’t Sarah thinking “Chuck was in Lisbon too?” She should be surprised to hear it, or Chuck actually was there (and I’m still confused because it’s a dropped point that seems relatively important).

      • Shaw never said Chuck was in Lisbon. At most, his question could be taken to indicate that he thought Chuck might go to Lisbon after Prague. There is no claim made that Chuck was ever in Lisbon.

  5. resaw says:

    Great discussion, guys. I’m glad my question could fuel the conversation a bit. I’m now inclined to think that Shaw was speaking about Sarah having fallen in love with Bryce, who like Shaw’s wife, Eve, is also dead. I tend to agree that Sarah was in Lisbon to do as she said with Bryce’s remains, but that she also used that event as a cover for her trip to Europe in order to meet Chuck.

    • ref51907 says:

      If that were the case, then why would she not try to do something similar in season one when we was killed the first time?


      • resaw says:

        I suppose I would observe that in season 1, when we believed that Casey had killed Bryce, it turned out that the funeral was a sham. It does raise some more questions, though. After Casey took Bryce down, did he rush off to search for accomplices, allowing Fulcrum to get hold of Bryce? Or perhaps, he thought that Bryce’s body had been turned over to the appropriate authorities when in fact it was diverted by Fulcrum and a substitute body was supplied. I’m not sure. In any case, unlike the end of season 2, in season 1 Sarah was evidently not present at the time of Bryce’s “death” and was therefore unable to carry out his final wishes.

      • authorguy says:

        I believe Bryce says that Fulcrum intercepted the body, in the episode where he comes back, whatever it was called. Presumably the CIA had no access to Fulcrum’s resurrection tech at the end of S2, and after the first time made sure there would be no more screw-ups anyway, so Bryce stayed dead. It should mean, however, that someone had to know the coffin was empty in the funeral sequence, and didn’t tell Sarah.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Remember that Fulcrum was a rogue group within the government, so they had agents who were also CIA or FBI or NSA agents who could have easily intercepted the body.

        As for the funeral, that could have been the decision of the next of kin or before Bryce had a will expressing his wishes.

        As usual it’s probably best not to over-think these things.

      • authorguy says:

        But that’s half the fun, trying to make all this incoherent stuff hang together.

  6. ref51907 says:

    Question for you all. When Chuck extended the invitation to Hannah, do you think he was being serious about coming to work at the Buy More or was he just being Chuck?
    I know I was surprised when she showed up because I thought that he was just being Chuck, making conversation and friendly.


    • joe says:

      Both, I think, Ref. He was being Chuck and being serious, all the while fairly certain that Hannah would not find her way to Burbank.

      On the plane, Chuck was rightly feeling disconnected from Sarah. They were “friends” and he had nothing to lose. The nerd in him took a shot and wonder of wonders, it paid off.

      The thing that drives a lot of people here crazy is that first part – he shouldn’t have given up on Sarah so soon. Dave wants to pillory him for “cheating” ( 😉 ), but I think that’s half a step too far. In fairness, I’d agree with Dave if Chuck had taken one minute longer than he did to wise up.

      • authorguy says:

        I doubt the nerd in him was even taking a shot at anything, He’d had first-hand experience with the Buy More as a place to crash after a rejection. He was probably offering her no more than the work-place equivalent of a couch for the night. As regards this episode, I see nothing in any of it to justify any claim that he was cheating on Sarah.

      • resaw says:

        I’m of the view that Chuck was not being in the least flirtatious with Hannah, and that there was therefore no “cheating” going on. Even if Chuck had been flirtatious, the last time there had been any discussion between Chuck and Sarah about their relationship, they had mutually declared that they were “friends.” Whatever the depth of their feelings for each other, at the time they were explicitly no longer committed to each other in a romantic way. And even if Chuck hoped to use that friendship status as a base to re-establish something deeper with Sarah, his invitation to Hannah, as Marc/authorguy says, was merely a courtesy to a new acquaintance in need.

      • authorguy says:

        Or, to put it more simply: He wasn’t, but even if he was, he hadn’t, but even if he had, he didn’t. Yeah, that about sums it up for me too.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      He was just being Chuck and didn’t know it would amount to anything. Remember we found out Hannah’s parents live in San Diego, which probably means she’s from there. Since she lost the Paris job the natural move is back home, and oh yeah, she met this really great guy…

  7. You mention that although Sarah does not throw him under the bus (something Chuck has already done to her with with Jill) and will do again with Hannah, she does not show him much respect and in terms of the one scene when she tells him to leave so she can talk to Shaw your right but so is she, as he is not ready for the mission he is given.
    You also say that in some way Shaw respects Chuck, I completely disagree as if he respected him he would have given him all the facts, ie that the tranq pen may not work, the mission is on the plane and that the courier may have backup. There is a saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and that is exactly what happened here.
    I agree that Chuck does not really flirt with Hannah in this one but once again it was Sarah that continued overtures to be ‘friends’ and talk to him asking that he does not go yet, to me if you love somone like he loves Sarah he should have tried harder. You write about him wanting to be worthy of Sarah, an equal and if he is a spy they can be together, but he does not tell Sarah that until ‘Final Exam’. If he had told her now she certainly would not have gone to Shaw.
    It is interesting that we still have some discussion about Shaws in love statement, I always thought it was about Bryce, because they were talking about Bryces ashes. I like to think Bekman was a bit of a Shipper aswell and did not put the details of Chuck and Sarahs relationship in the files so he would not know. Shaw says ‘we both fell in Love with Spies’ Sarah herself says that she ‘fell in love with a normal guy’

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