Season Three Alternatives: Fake Name

For so many of us, Fake Name is a focal point for what was wrong with Season Three.  And we can find many layers of things that went wrong, there is no one thing.  I expect even among we who hated this episode we can get into some heated arguments over why we dislike it so much!  It is not an easy thing to define, and we can find offense in so many different things.

And yet, as is so often the case, that passionate dislike has inspired so much thought.  Both musings of “what ifs” like we so often do here, and some very involved and well written fan fiction.  So let’s collect our thoughts, and take a hard look at how characters and story might have managed in more appealing or intriguing ways.

I think its safe to call this episode the nadir of the entire series.  It may not actually be my most hated episode (Final Exam gets that dubious honor), but its really a close run thing.  And there’s just so much to dislike here.  Starting with meta-humor that seems to rub me wrong in every way (so now Jeff and a pair of hoodlums are the voices of wisdom?).  But Sarah’s deepening involvement with a contemptible and incompetent colleague, and the “likable” protagonist acting like one of the biggest slime-balls imaginable, make Fake Name look like a creative experiment on how to ruin a good show.  This is the sort of thing that cannot be “fixed”, my later enjoyment of the series hinges on just ignoring this episode.

I’m not sure how specific to get on what all I don’t like.  I would rather just move on, but I feel some obligation to be specific too.  Even if Chuck were truly done with Sarah, he gets involved with Hannah far to quickly.  This strikes me as grotesque excess and a depressing character failure at best.  If we add in the idea that Chuck is in love with someone else, this just completely undermines the character.  I cannot take him seriously as any sort of “good guy” if I accept his behavior here.  This may just be an example of the massive disconnect of values between middle America and Hollywood.  Did those responsible even think about how this would be received?  And Chuck’s juvenile celebration in front of co-workers, including Sarah, the day after leaves me even more disappointed in both the character and those responsible.  Chuck’s “revelation” about loving Sarah towards the end of the episode could have been important, but he’s already had this revelation, and apparently he will need to have a re-revelation the following week before it starts to stick.  I have no doubt S3 apologists can explain to us why each moment matters and is different, but this is just horrible entertainment.  Chuck is presented as a both a jerk, and kind of dense.  We have completely lost the sweet guy who filmed the ballerina in the Pilot.  This is part of the re-invention of the show that I loath; I can no longer relate to Chuck, and I really don’t want to.  Only if I ignore this, can I enjoy 3.13 to the end of the series.  If this were a more serious sort of show, I could imagine Chuck apologizing to several people in a way that might have helped me feel better about things.  But that won’t happen, so ignoring is mandatory for me.

The next really big/bad moment involves Sarah’s near death experience.  I simply can’t accept that she would return to Shaw in the aftermath of this episode.  He is such a horribly unappealing character, and such experiences are supposed to make us think about what’s important, right?  Well never fear, Zombie Sarah will do no such thinking, and back to Shaw she goes.  Just Yuck.  Sham is not cute or appealing on any level.

Now it seems I’m forgetting something…

Could it have something to do with Sarah revealing her “real” name to a character who doesn’t care and she doesn’t love?  Could it be a massive story telling failure of a plot point that was teased in Helicopter (1.02), Wookiee (1.04), and Cougars (2.04) unexpectedly being wasted in a way that is offensive and hurtful to a major portion of the fan base?  Naw.  No one would do that.  I really have little else to say about this.  I guess we were just supposed to believe Chuck didn’t care anymore when he told Sarah he didn’t need to know.  Obviously this was all our fault for thinking it was important.

Honestly I just wish I could forget this episode.  Post series Sarah may actually be fortunate if she never remembers this chapter of her life.

So what could have made this episode more appealing?  Oi.  Last week I talked about long and short fixes.  So let’s start with the long fix again.  Most obviously, Chuck and Sarah need to be in a committed relationship by this point.  The estrangement is killing the show for me.  There is so much potential for a secret relationship at this point.  Back when the episode first ran, this was sort of the last gasp for the hope that something in fact was going on behind the scenes and we just hadn’t seen it yet.  The idea I always had for the name reveal was Chuck getting run down and depressed over the various lies and covers he was living with, and Sarah rewarding him with that one real thing to lift his spirits.  Presumably once she spoke her real name, he would flash, and know it was true.  Could have been fun.

I’ve got less for a short fix this week.  There is just so much unappealing here, half the episode needs to be cut and replaced.  In terms of quantity of unacceptable material, Fake Name is clearly tops.  I mentioned up top, Final Exam is my most hated episode, and it is; but mainly for the horrific ending we will discuss more in a couple weeks.  A few other episodes have truly horrible moments that need to be redone.  But Fake Name is just jam packed with them.

Moving on to fan fiction, this episode is certainly well served.  Let me start with good moments from a couple of longer stories.  Many of you are likely familiar with Nervert and his late S3 alternatives “Chuck Vs The Pacific Northwest” and its sequel “The Revenge of the Bartowski“.  The bad news is, the sequel remains unfinished and seems likely to stay that way now.  And I must admit, I removed it from my favorites list some time ago.  I don’t enjoy themes of mind control, Intersect zombies, or abandonment.  (oddly,this isn’t the only high profile story I removed for exactly the same issues!)  But that said, Nervert is an excellent writer.  There are many fun and funny moments, great character development and well written action.  But the relevant fact here is one of the very best takes on the name reveal.  It went off as in canon, except Sarah reveals to Chuck that she lied to Shaw.  They discuss it chapter six, and I won’t reveal it here, but this is easily the funniest “real name” for Sarah I’ve seen in any story.  And its very well told.

I also need to mention NinjaVanish’s epic “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves” again.  Most of the Hannah story plays out in chapters three and four.  The first highlight is Hannah trying to convince Chuck that Sarah has already moved on, with Casey.  Very funny, poor Sarah.  But it gets much better.  Sarah has strongly suggested Chuck play along a little.  Chuck thinks that might be a bad idea.  This leads to “The Awkwardest Night Ever” in chapter four.  Trust me, it is.  And side splittingly funny. Oh do I wish the show had done something more like this! It is just infinitely better than what was done, its not even close.  NV will stray much farther from canon in the following chapters, so I think we won’t revisit this story again in this series.  But it is an excellent tale all the way through; and if explosive action, a Comic Con wedding, and Chuck and Sarah trying to pretend to just be friends while secretly dating, while undercover as married Russian arms dealers pretending to be newlyweds sounds amusing to you, give it a read!

The most direct treatment of the episode itself once again comes from KateMcK. Chapter seven of “Chuck vs the Fight” once again provides an appealing fix to the featured episode. Funny the difference a single honest conversation might have made.  The initiative for making things right here comes mainly from Sarah.  But canon has become such a burden to the story-teller at this point.  Kate herself states the only real fix for the episode is brain bleach.  Quite the testimonial!

A real special treat to come from this episode would be another very favorite of mine, “Parting Gifts” by Course Jester.  This is powerfully bitter-sweet.  Unlike the previous story, this time Chuck takes most of the initiative in making things right.  I like how looking at this and the previous story we can imagine things being made better in a few different ways or coming from either party.

This was another long(ish) post for me.  I feel like I could have gone into so much more detail on certain things still.  But I really am trying to just leave the episode itself behind.  Obviously, for all of you, you can take your own turns at griping and moaning.  In the over three years since this first ran, griping and moaning have become a time honored tradition for Fake Name. Alternate suggestions are even better.  I would love to hear from all of you with story ideas that would be interesting and fun twists on what the show actually did.  Next week, we’ll look at an episode that wasn’t completely hopeless! I can hardly wait…

~ Dave


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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161 Responses to Season Three Alternatives: Fake Name

  1. joe says:

    You know we come away feeling very differently about this episode, Dave, and I start to think it’s for good reasons. It’s almost like personal experiences control our reactions more than I would ever have guessed. It’s sort of visceral.

    On reflection, I’m surprised that none of us have brought up one rather important thing from those days – Ali Adler.

    • atcDave says:

      I wasn’t sure about invoking her name. Honestly, I liked what she did in S2, but I thought her S1 work was weak, and what she did in S3 was horrible. And I was offended by her “love writer” video, so I’m not really in her fan club. But then I think every writer has both good and bad episodes to their credit. I know a lot of it has to do with the specific slot they get in the arc, but I’m not clear how micro-managed, or not, they might be. So I’m not really sure how significant the episode writer always is. But I can’t help but feel a little extra peeved that Adler, who wrote both Wookiee and Cougars, wasted away the name reveal like that. And actually, I’m fighting the urge to use the language I really want to use on this, I really am not happy about it.

  2. Bill says:

    On Joe’s advice in the main thread, I’m posting this comment here instead.

    I re-watched this episode Sunday night. This was my third viewing, the second since it originally aired.

    What I liked: Casey at his best both comically and heroically. Prodding Sarah about Chuck, then saving them both with his marksmanship. Jeff, Lester and Big Mike’s discussion of Chuck’s love life. Sarah makes his eyes shine brightest!

    What I didn’t: the blatant manipulation of the characters to drive the arc. Sarah in particular is unrecognizable here, and it pains me to watch Yvonne utter many of the lines this script required of her. When I watched the first scene in Shaw’s apartment, I felt embarrassed for her (again). Absolutely cringe-worthy television. Chuck….well, through his heartless treatment of Hannah, he loses much of the good will he’s generated. Chuck versus the Jerk!

    This episode remains a slap in the face to the fandom. I don’t think I’ll watch it again.

    • atcDave says:

      Bill, I couldn’t bring myself to actually to re-watch! But yeah, my impressions are exactly the same. “Chuck vs The Jerk”, I like it! Okay, actually I don’t really like it, but it fits. It is absolutely cringe-worthy.

      I endorse your decision not to re-watch again!

    • uplink2 says:

      Actually I wish I could “un-watch” this episode. But one thing I can and will do is never ever rewatch this one in particular again. It was an insult to many of the fans of this show and I agree a slap in their face. How anyone could actually think this episode was needed is beyond me. It was only needed if you wanted me to never watch the show again.

  3. uplink2 says:

    Thanks again Dave for doing this. I differ with you slightly in that this episode IS my most hated by a wide margin. I don’t think I have ever despised a single episode of television more in my decades of TV watching. I felt like the writer was actually spitting in my face as I watched it. It’s contemptible and if the intent was to drive me from this show forever, it almost succeeded. I hated both of these characters here. Everything that had drawn me to Chuck and Sarah both together and separately was gone and what was left were characters I no longer cared about nor did I want to invest in either of their happiness. Chuck was a despicable pri… and Sarah was a clueless zombie that the only thing that made sense was Shaw was poisoning her with the coffee sticks. I felt no pity or empathy for either of them. In this episode I hated Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker. I find it absolutely stunning that showrunners and writers would ever want that about their leads especially on a show that was supposed to be fun and entertaining. But we find no entertainment here..

    I must challenge something that was said in the other writeup that I simply can’t disagree with more. There is absolutely no heart and no humor anywhere in this episode. I like you, find the lame attempts by Ali to add some humor incredibly insulting and demeaning to me the viewer and my love for the show and its one time greatness. It wasn’t funny in the least and it was as if they were calling me an idiot because I cared about honest relationship growth.

    It’s funny because a few years ago I got into a discussion with a great well known Chuck fan on another site who told me I should be happy that Ali wrote this episode because it could have been so much worse. I find that comment stunning. In a way she may have been right but it still is a really sad state of affairs if that is what I have to latch on to.

    There is so much that is just grossly wrong with this episode that will come out over the next few days as we discuss it. But on this first post I do want to end with something positive that did come out of this. A little over 2 years ago I was reading our host here, Mr atcDave’s, posting about fan fiction. I had never read a single story about any show before let alone Chuck. He suggested I go to his favorites as he felt we had similar likes and dislikes about the show or at least we saw the same show, something very different from Schwedak at times certainly. So as I looked over the list I decided to start with something small, a one-shot and see if I liked it. Well as I looked at the list I saw Course Jester’s Parting Gifts and as I thought maybe a ‘fix’ of this hated and God awful episode might be a good place to start. Well I am so glad I did as that story has led me to a very important part of my life and enjoyment of this show and its characters. I highly recommend it and because of it I eventually started writing and now am working on what will end up being an over 300k word epic redux of this awful season. So for that I thank Dave, Course Jester and I guess in a way Ali Adler. If I didn’t despise this episode so much none of that might have happened.

    • atcDave says:

      It’s funny Uplink, I’ve been wondering how heated our arguments could get over what episode was the worst! But really, I can’t argue too much, I really despise this episode. And I agree with your take on it almost entirely. The only reason I kept watching was because I had a longer view; I had a good idea (from the Olympics spoilers; this is likely exactly what they were released for) things would be better in the back six. Of course, I was still hoping this ordeal would end sooner than that, but I wasn’t really expecting it to.

      I almost mentioned in the main post how I knew “Parting Gifts” had affected you, but I figured it was best to leave it for you to reveal. I am so glad it helped, and extra glad its led you to writing yourself. I’ve really enjoyed some of the work you’ve done, so nice symmetry I guess.

    • uplink2 says:

      See as I’ve said before I was watching in a vacuum. I saw some of the promos but had none of the spoilers or anything else to assist me. I was just one of the week to week viewers who was seeing the show he loved almost destroyed by the people who helped create it. It was mind boggling. I hurt after watching this episode and it wasn’t for Chuck and Sarah, it was because I was losing something I cared a great deal about. I was losing people I loved and I simply could not understand why they were doing it. Nothing here makes any sense. I do agree with Faith in the other thread who said that it isn’t the name reveal, probably the single biggest waste of a hugely invested payoff ever, that was the darkest and most offensive moment in the show, it was Chuck’s treatment of Lou 2.0. He was a despicable bastard and not anything like the man I knew and identified with. It didn’t make him real and it didn’t teach him anything new. It was just disgusting behavior by a pretty rotten human being.

      Dave, I can understand why you hate Final Exam so much. On a moral ground it is highly offensive that a writer would use Government sanctioned murder as a test for eligibility to become a spy. Then take these characters and manipulate them where to get the girl he has to be a murderer. Then have Sarah run to the man that used her and manipulated her into being the final destruction in her mind of the man she once loved. It’s incredibly offensive that it was chosen as an acceptable plot point. I guess I’m reacting more on an emotional level here than rational. In this episode I felt like they were giving me directly, the finger. In Final Exam they were giving the law and the intelligence service the finger.

      • atcDave says:

        I spent a lot of time doing damage control during S3 with casual viewers I’m friends with. A couple of them wondered if Yvonne was leaving the show or something. But I completely understand what you’re saying about being in that vacuum. Many viewers lost or were loosing their desire to even watch. In the end, I only permanently lost one viewer in my sphere of influence, but several others reported far less enthusiasm than they previously had.
        And I do agree it was Chuck’s behavior that was the most offensive part of the episode. That still makes me just furious and sick to think about it. The name reveal was bad because it just screams “bad writing.” I don’t even know how else to put it; it was like pointedly NOT using a literary device for the purposing of ticking off your viewers. It was like something from a Creative Writing 101 textbook on what NOT to do. It was bad and stupid writing. It’s tragically funny how hard they had to work to avoid any mention of Sarah’s “real” name in later episodes.

        Final Exam does get my scorn for a couple reasons. The sanctioned murder is a big part of it. I know its a part of spy fiction mythos, so I could maybe make myself accept it; BUT, the whole Shaw manipulates Sarah into manipulating Chuck. And then Sarah turns to Shaw afterwards. ARGGHHH! Just stupid inexcusable tripe. Chuck the bad soap opera. Oh I despise that episode.

      • uplink2 says:

        One of the things about all this that still gets me is no matter if any of the ‘intent’ or any of the apologist’s explanations of what the metaphorical symbolism is of any of the things that happens in this episode represent, IT STILL SUCKS!!! None of that will ever get me to accept that any of this was necessary or anything more than just contrived teen angst for angst sake. It was just make this episode as offensive and depressing as possible because we need a bottom of barrel point for the great redemption in 3.13 to work. Too bad that didn’t happen either. It was simply time to put them together.

        Sarah’s real name is referenced in Helicopter, Wookie, Breakup, Cougars, and DeLorean, prior to this. It was something the show had gotten the fans to invest in, Ali had been a big part of that investment. Yet they chose to take away what could have been one of the single best payoffs to any of this story for what? So they could throw it away cheaply? Someone once said to me they were fully aware of the fans investment in Sarah’s real name and knew what they were doing in throwing it away. But at what cost? And was it worth it? The incredible negative reaction to this made them steer clear of any of it except for Subway which was written before this episode even aired never to be used again. It was a huge risk for very little reward and the risk failed. The point was for Sarah to hurt Chuck but instead it was the fans that got hurt. Faith said in the other thread that she believes that it is in that moment that Sarah unwittingly saves Chuck. I’ve never heard anyone express that before and it is a noble thought. But again its all at what cost? What cost to the characters and what cost to the fans? For a show like this used to be to discard something so precious to the fans that they had built up an expected payoff for so cheaply and without any story benefit just reeks of disconnection to the people you are writing for.

        I really really wish that at some point Ali had talked about it but I have never seen it anywhere. The fans were begging her and trusting her to end this misery and she ultimately made it so much worse. She used what we loved about her writing to in effect spit in our face. Intentional or not it is how it came off to me.

      • Dave says:


        I read your posts and sympathize. They had a very compelling idea here. Chuck, our nerdy hero, climbs a mountain, overcoming obstacles and avoiding temptation as he finds his way in the spy world without losing his identity. How they could screw that up in such a mind boggling fashion still astounds me.

        In the Army we often referred to S. Korea as the “Land of Almost”. You saw products that looked like what you could get at home (Pepsi, Coke, etc.) but they were never right, they were almost. Season 3.0 was the land of almost. The three or four critical moments in each episode were fumbled so badly it hurt to watch it.

        Instead of the heroic idea I outlined we got Chuck slipping and falling, banging his head painfully against each obstacle, succumbing to every temptation losing his identity along the way while all alone.

        Sarah was so OOC it was painful. Throughout 3.0 she was barely on speaking terms with Chuck. It was hideous.

        Like I said, it was a great idea and if three or four things were changed in most episodes this could have worked. Instead they ran off 2.5 million viewers and for what, some painful story line no one really wanted to see. I’m just glad we got 3.5, 4 and 5 (ish) before it ended.

      • Dave says:


        OBTW get cracking on “Life, Love & Lies” I need a fix.

      • Bill says:

        “One of the things about all this that still gets me is no matter if any of the ‘intent’ or any of the apologist’s explanations of what the metaphorical symbolism is of any of the things that happens in this episode represent, IT STILL SUCKS!!!”

        Quoted for truth. I cannot rationalize this episode into anything meaningful or profound. And frankly, should I have to try? Isn’t that just another indication of the failure of this episode and much of this arc, that the viewer has to deconstruct it to try to make any sense out of it?

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I couldn’t agree more. If it takes rewatch after rewatch, and as you say deconstructing of scene after scene to find even the tiniest thread of sense in what the writer is trying to tell you then that isn’t the sign of some great, deep underlying story. Especially in a show like Chuck it is the failure of both the story and the storytelling. Here we are three years down the line and this one episode may be the most scrutinized ever on the series with a close second now being the finale, it STILL makes no sense to me. I have heard argument vs argument, point vs point, one persons take vs another persons take and nothing has changed in m,y opinion of it. If anything I hate it even more now.

        As I think I’ve shown in the over 2 3 years I’ve been coming here, I’m very passionate about this show and its characters. Its a trait that most if not all of us have and why this show is like no other, flaws and all. But this episode almost drove me away from the show I am so passionate about, never to return. Now I know I may never agree with every story choice or every direction of the show but there has to always be at least something, some part of the story I can understand and appreciate to keep me interested and enjoying the series. But throughout this arc I find that all incredibly scarce and in this episode completely lacking. But it goes beyond that here. It’s not that it is completely lacking in anything I can appreciate and relate to, its that what is there is loathesome. It doesn’t just not have any heart or fun it actually insults the viewer and tries to make fun of exactly what makes me at least so passionate about it. Like I’m a fool for feeling this way. I really don’t get what she was trying to do there other than get me to never want to watch the show again. Using the C & D players plus some guest stars to mock and make fun of what I care deeply about, the characters and their journey that these elements revolve around, is incredibly disrespectful to me the viewer. The A and the B stories are loathesome and to try and lighten them with the C and D players isn’t heart or humor it’s insulting and a case where the writers got too cute and caught up in their own hubris that they forgot what we the viewers love about them. It’s also disrespectful to the main characters themselves that in the deepest moment of despair or realization that they had become something pretty despicable, the author chose to make light of that with some lame ass attempt at humor.

        God I hate this episode.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely you guys, if you have to analyze the minutia of the episode to even figure out what all is going on, it can’t be considered well done.
        Now to be fair, there are a few episodes that I now think far MORE highly of than I did on initial viewing (Wookiee and Fat Lady come to mind). But generally, that initial, visceral reaction says the most about the entertainment value of an episode. And Fake Name just rubs me wrong in so many ways. I really find it completely offensive, on multiple counts.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I agree for me that episode I appreciate much more because of the analysis is Tom Sawyer. It was always just so so to me but there is some real brilliance there when you look at it more closely.

        But no matter how you analyze this one it just gets worse. To poke fun at something people care deeply about is insulting and demeaning. Is giving a large portion of your audience the finger really a good way to tell your story?

        BTW Dave I’m almost 1k into chapter 30 so I hope it won’t be too long as the story is coming together in my head. I’m feeling another of those moments where I’m more transcriber than actual writer coming soon.

      • atcDave says:

        I think We’re all glad to hear that Uplink!

  4. Dave says:


    As I said last week, I like the general idea of 3.0 but it was totally screwed up in presentation. I also began my fixes with the end scene of 3.06. In 3.07 we also take a different turn during the “I have a type” scene.

    Quick recap: Sarah goes to Chuck while he’s getting drunk at the end of 3.06. In 3.07, Sarah clues Chuck to the surveillance then sends a text basically telling Chuck to go to Hannah, sell it and see her later at her hotel room.

    Now for this episode. Not my all time worst (Pink Slip has that dishonor), but a close second. Having said that, two or three things could make this fit my new storyline. First is a flashback to the talk in Sarah’s hotel after her text to Chuck. First off they kiss, affectionately, then Sarah explains that Chuck has to sell Shaw that he is moving on with Hannah. They don’t have much time because Shaw is watching both closely.

    Then we lose Chuck sleeping with Hannah. I won’t go as far as NV in the ff, but maybe Chuck drugs Hannah and puts her in bed. When Hannah awakes, Chuck is on his pastry run. Here is where Hannah reveals herself by pulling out a Ring Phone and dials. Her end of the conversation goes like “Not yet”, “Give me a couple of more days”. Then she tries the towel gig to get to Chuck.

    Chuck does his little dance for Shaw’s benefit. Then we carry on as shown until after the name reveal. We’ll leave that in for now, we’ll come back to that next episode. It causes Chuck to not be able to flash. Chuck gets to Sarah and says he can’t do this anymore. Sarah tells him to dump Hannah, its gone on enough and she’ll work Shaw. Chuck is insecure because of the name thing, but he carries on.

    This keeps the basic idea of 3.0 but we get Hannah as Ring, Shaw is still a moron and our team doesn’t look like idiots all of the time.

    Note: Way back I would have lost the train wreck in Prague and instead had Sarah miffed because Chuck in his heroism split them up for 6 months for his training and got her assigned back to general duty where she had to play arm candy for a scumbag. This would have made sense more and would have made Sarah seem less stupid and would have made it easier to get over it.

    • Dave says:

      In the second paragraph above I meant “sell” it not “ell” it. My apologies.

      • atcDave says:

        I fixed your typo Dave.

        I like your version a lot, it still follows much of the show outline but reflects better on the characters we all thought we knew. I like the idea of Hannah being some sort of villain, really that’s one of the few ways I would leave her in the story. I also like how you leave some room for Sarah being a little ticked at Chuck early on. It could have been played both for humor and a little drama, without being the over-the-top melodrama we were subjected to.
        Its funny you know, I really thought we would get something like you described for quite a while. I think Chuck and Hannah in bed together was when I finally accepted that this season was as horribly bad as I feared.

  5. Justin says:

    Recap of AU 3×07: Ellie sees Sarah with Shaw during a mission in which they were pretending to be a couple. Ellie mistaken this as Sarah cheating on Chuck. Chuck tries to assure Ellie that it wasn’t what it looked like but Chuck’s assurances aren’t enough to calm Ellie’s suspicions. Sarah says “I love you” to Chuck for the first time and Chuck says “I love you” back.

    In my version of the following episode, Ellie begins her spying on Sarah to find proof of her being an unfaithful girlfriend. This ends up complicating the mission of the week somehow. Shaw helps Chuck and Sarah come up with an effective cover story to prevent Ellie from continuing her search for the truth. But the situation with Ellie has made him wonder if keeping Chuck and Sarah together as a couple for the sake of cover and personally is more trouble than it is worth. Chuck is worried that Shaw may decide to split him and Sarah up as a team once his test run of them is over. In the midst of the episode, Sarah reveals her real name to Chuck to continue to be more open in their relationship after telling Chuck “I love you.” Then the episode ends with a twist. Just when Ellie is beginning to put stuff between her and Sarah behind her, she gets a mysterious phone call telling that she is being lied to by her brother and Sarah, and that she is in danger. The call abruptly ends, leaving Ellie feeling frightened by what she just heard.

    • atcDave says:

      I like the way you always come up with plenty of tension for an otherwise more upbeat version of the story Justin. And it looks like you’re setting up the big Ellie sub-plot from S3.5 a few episodes earlier, I like it. I always thought that was thing the show did very well; that is, have the consequences of three years of lying cause major problems. That sub-plot could easily have been more involved. I also like the idea of some drama coming from the threat of re-assignment here; even without knowing about Chuck and Sarah’s real involvement, you have Shaw considering major changes to the team. That sure could have provided some angst, and of a far more adult variety than was actually used in this arc.

      Another part of your AU exposes the foolishness of EVER pairing Sarah with someone other than Chuck while working in LA. And I have to believe this is the sort of thing real agents would never mess up. When Sarah is in a long term, deep cover mission as Chuck’s girlfriend, WHY would they ever assign her to a different cover or seduction?! Chuck’s family, friends and co-workers are everywhere! We saw them get nailed by this foolishness several times during the show. When its played for fun and laughs (Jeff and Lester seeing Chuck with Jill) its not such a big deal. But when a dramatic moment or important development hangs on it, its very frustrating.

  6. authorguy says:

    While I wouldn’t call myself an S3 apologist, I have to agree that this is the worst episode of the show, if only because it could have been great. The only thing that could get me to rewatch this episode was when I had to do research for nine2five, which is patterned after each one. For this one, which I saw at fast forward with the subtitles on, to avoid Chuck’s awful growly Gruber voice,I discovered that the plot does in fact work.but the characters are all in the wrong positions. I heard a rumor somewhere that this was some sort of revenge by Ali, and I could almost believe it. Take a great episode and then twist it around so it sucks. My story, Ins & Outs, untwists, but only because of some other changes I made to the storyline, for other S3 flaws. (Hannah being Sarah’s friend instead of Chuck’s, that sort of thing.)
    Some scenes, however, are just appallingly bad writing, regardless of who’s in them. The dental torture sequence. Are we really supposed to believe that Chuck couldn’t think of a clever scheme to avoid maiming Casey? I thought of one in two seconds. Sarah checking Gruber’s restraints. Why? He hadn’t been uncuffed at any point. The only reason it’s there is to give Gruber a chance to say something nasty to Sarah, which results in Shaw punching out a defenseless man. Maybe this was supposed to indicate Shaw’s growing instability, but all I saw was bullying, and i still have no idea what the expression on Sarah’s face was supposed to signify. And it’s all just tacked on. It could have been deleted with no loss to the show’s story logic.
    While I don’t like the break-up with Hannah, I dislike it mainly because it’s Chuck finally realizing the dilemma he’s impaled himself on, not keeping to himself on the plane, and the wound he gives himself getting out. Heroes have to suffer, but that doesn’t mean I want to see it happen. My only objection was that Hannah, a complete innocent, had to suffer for it. That was my first and for a long time my only fanfiction, giving her a happier ending. I liked NV’s chapters dealing with Hannah as the clingy girlfriend wannabe, but that’s the only part of this episode that makes it into his story, as far as I know. I don’t think he mentioned Gruber at all. And he does diverge more and more from canon after this, like most S3 stories do. Never read Parting Gifts, I’ll have to check that out sometime.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely agree that the form, or potential of a great story is here. But it is twisted around in such painful ways its a total mess. I don’t think I would go quite so far in saying I don’t want to see the protagonist suffer for his failings, but there are clearly certain sorts of failings I can’t tolerate in the first place. At least for certain characters. And I guess here in S3 we run into a perfect failure for me, specifically because in the first two seasons I had liked Chuck so much. Sure he had occasional failings; but mostly I could like, respect and relate to almost everything he did for two seasons. Then in S3 none of that applied; not only could I not like, respect or relate to his actions anymore, I saw someone I wouldn’t even want to know. It was such an alarming disconnect, and I’m sure that’s the basis of most of unhappiness at this point.

  7. oldresorter says:

    Been a while since I watched the ep, way back to that season. I would guess ten of the worst fifty scenes of the series for me were in the one ep. One seldom mentioned scene, Sarah watching her man pummel the non flashing Chuck, without intervening, standing there like a helpless conquest of Shaw’s.

    The other was after the shot was fired, when Sarah looked at both of them.

    If the script got altered, I sometimes wonder if at that point, Sarah went to Chuck, making Shaw irrate … such that he ordered Sarah to accompany him on the ‘honeymoon’ mission, and then his wanting to kill Chuck at the end of the mission makes sense too. Not a whole lot would have to change the rest of the way, with Chuck and Sarah in a holding pattern due to Sarah’s misgivings about Chuck. But that scene in the hotel, seemed cut short?

    Overall, the ep as well as the arc, seemed like 12 independent attempts to make the fanbase as miserable and angry as possible, so the payoff seemed epic. The writers admitted as much.

    I as a fan, am embarrassed to admit I am a fan of Chuck. Prior to season 3, I simply explained it is meant to be ridiculous, and isn’t serious at all, except for once in a while, the show gets written oddly, almost like it on purpose goes dark to show it can. The problem with season 3 was the show went dark for an entire arc, and the result was not good. I cannot laugh at humor from the B or C characters, while the lead characters were written in such a dispicable manner.

    • atcDave says:

      I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say I’m embarrassed to be a Chuck fan, but no doubt S3 requires some special treatment when bring new viewers on board. It was really an interesting experience with the friends who just watched for the first time. When they finished the S1 discs in less than a week is when I first told them there would be an issue with S3, in that I didn’t own it on DVD. But I didn’t really explain more until the day we planned our S3 marathon. And THAT was fascinating. I concluded from talking to them that his taste was much like mine, while she liked darker stuff than either of us. So I was thinking she might have actually liked the episodes the I was skipping. But I was quite surprised when watching, SHE was the one who made the comment after Tic Tac that show wasn’t really working for her with such a different sort of tension between Chuck and Sarah. And then she completely loved Honeymooners. As always, these sort of anecdotes prove nothing. But I find it interesting how fresh eyes notice the same sorts of things we all did. And they never even saw the worst of it!

  8. oldresorter says:

    My last weekly Castle comment, the wt/wt dance was continued in the season final, while still hanging in there with keeping the characters in character. Yet, the last three eps, were not wildly popular. Something I said earlier, Kate and RIck do not seem that in love to me, great friends with benefits is the feel they give off, which probably is more than either will get elsewhere. Compared to Chuck and Sarah’s S1/S2, Chuck and Sarah had enough of the deep, first love sort of feel to them, that they were indeed ‘epic’.

    In many ways, s3 of Chuck, damaged that feel. A valid point to the season, was the spy life damaged that feel, and was the price for Chuck entering that world. But, like any attempt to rationalize s3, that might be the case, but the point of s3 was left ambiguous, which is fairly consistent with other seasons of Chuck. I tend to love mystery, but I like the show to supply a concrete answer through dialogue at the end. Still in s5, Chuck and Sarah counsel Morgan that it is best not to talk about past lovers … seemingly two seasons later, the writers through dialogue as much as admit, fans should simply forget s3.

    Someone got me started on a JJ Abrams series called Person of Interest. Have watched a couple of eps at the end of s2. Funny, there is a very Sarah Walker like recurring guest character in the show named ‘Shaw’ – LOL! The show is pretty good, and has a fair amount in common with ‘Orion (Finch) meets Casey (Reese)’, and the two of them do good. I wonder if Fedak will be able to parlay his Chuck experience into more Chuck like projects, the way other creators have?

    • atcDave says:

      I also wasn’t nuts about the last few episodes of Castle. I was a little floored at how disrespectful Beckett was of Castle in the finale (“we never really talk about the future…” Well maybe now is a good time start! oh brother). But I think Castle remains a good example of how a few off moments don’t need to ruin a show or episode. I was content with the season ender, and mostly pleased with how they got there. I continue to look forward to new episodes.

      It may be me who talked you into Person of Interest. I’ve liked it quite a lot. Its maybe a little darker than my usual choices, and there’s no romance angle at all (although I still think Reece and Carter could be fun…); but I love the adventure, mystery, and the handling of moral issues and choices.
      I would also point out JJ Abrams is NOT the show runner, only the executive producer. It is very different from shows he has actually written.

      • oldresorter says:

        I did not know exactly how JJ was involved, but I tend to like his stuff, not all of it, but most of it.

        Romance, I’m shipping Carco (Carter and Fusco), both have kids, and such a pairing has wonderful imperfections, as those two should! Finch has a girl who he abandoned, much for the same reasons as Orion did. And, I for one, am shipping Reese and Zoe Morgan (come to think of it, we have a Shaw and a Morgan – LOL). Miss Morgan reminds me a great deal of Carina by the way.

        I think the show is wonderful, I love dark, when the darkness is supported by an appropriate script and cast.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh Carco is just so wrong….

  9. JC says:

    I’m going to against the grain in saying this episode by itself is good. Its when you watch in context of the whole series is where its falters. I’d say that about most of the episodes from S3 on that dealt with any major character flips or mythology. The name reveal in itself doesn’t bother me, its the idea that it had no repercussions beyond this episode that’s frustrating. Knowing where they end up and its never brought up just isn’t believable to me. This episode is perfect example of writing something in a bubble with no regard on how it will impact future stories.

    • atcDave says:

      Obviously I don’t really agree, but I’ll grant you it wouldn’t have been so offensively bad to me if I didn’t know and had no previous investment in these characters (!).

      In hindsight, I am pleased they just ignored this episode later, it carries way too baggage for me to ever want to be reminded of it. But it is amusing that they trashed the name reveal so horribly, and got such an overwhelming backlash from doing so, that I think they were practically afraid to revisit it. At least that’s how it reads to me; learning that Sarah has apparently changed her legal name to “Sarah Lisa Walker” at some point without any explanation of it feels a lot like not wanting to open that can of worms again…

  10. Arya's Prayers says:

    The revelation that Hannah and Chuck slept together right away was jarring. I’m not über conservative when it comes to my ‘entertainment values’ (which are more liberal than my personal values) but that’s not the show that I had been watching. We apparently went straight from “I have a type” in Castle (which I have an interpretation of that I’m OK with), to the media room to Chuck’s apartment. I was not prepared for that.

    And haha (NOT) Ellie bumps into her coming out if the shower. Poor Morgan is MIA completely and I’m glad he didn’t have to be subjected to bumping into a towel-clad Hannah after having his heart broken last episode. I guess he crashed at his mom’s after witnessing the media room make out session. Chuck’s knowledge of Morgan’s interest in Hannah was the chief reason I didn’t consider Chuck’s earlier interactions with Hannah to be overtly flirtatious. But now here we are. And the Morgan I know would have made a bigger deal of this ‘betrayal’ next episode. I considered it a betrayal of Sarah despite their rocky status but the betrayal of Morgan is more blatant.

    So hey let’s have a ‘family’ dinner for the girl I’ve been ‘dating’ for a whole…oh, 18 hours now.

    Shaw and Sarah preparing the meal was a bitterly painful moment – not necessarily a flaw in execution like some other things just painful. I see Shaw ‘volunteering’ to do it knowing/thinking Sarah will offer to help so she doesn’t seem like she’s clinging to the past – which of course, she is and it’s additionally painful to see her watching on the monitor as Hannah sits in what was ‘her’ seat as recently as ‘Operation Awesome’.

    Oh, by the way, this is one of many times we see Sarah peeping at Chuck on surveillance at his apartment. The same apartment Chuck and Hannah presumably had sex in. You know (meaning ‘I think’) Sarah just had to know what was going on and couldn’t resist just a peek…

    I think of Sarah prepping that dinner and thinking back to ‘Suburbs’ and all the things she didn’t dare to dream at that time for her future with Chuck and watching it all go up in smoke. I can almost twist that into giving in to Shaw’s advances if for no other reason than an attempt to distract her and drown out the pain. And Zombie Sarah is born.

    But was that seriously Bamboo Dragon she fetched for them in Castle at the end? Is it that she only knows places in LA that Chuck knows or her trying to sever every tie? Or maybe lash out a little (see below, under ‘petty’)?

    And how are Hannah’s parents in town? There’s no indication she’s from LA and she and Chuck have been ‘dating’ less than 48 hours. It would have been enough if this were meant to be their first proper date…

    Please help: does anyone have a plausible reason that Rafe was targeting Shaw at the apartment in this episode but later we find Shaw had a ‘penthouse’ at the Hoff building? Seriously, I need to know. For the longest time I thought the Hoff building was in DC, Sarah went there at the end of ‘Tic Tac’ and they just messed up the logistics in ‘Living Dead’. I now know its (meant to be) the G.M. Hoff building in LA. So, what gives?

    The name reveal should have been a special, intimate moment between Chuck and Sarah and they robbed us of that. I can’t accept them pleading ignorance either because its clear to me that they were searching for something that would be as devastating for Chuck to overhear as ‘Rafe’ as Sarah witnessing Chuck’s interactions with Hannah.

    Strangely my biggest issue with the episode (not to downplay any of the above) was Chuck’s morning-after entrance into Castle. ‘Hey team! I got laid! Have a donut!’
    If you felt the need to explicitly give your ex-almost-girlfriend your blessing to move on last episode (yech!) then pulling this the next morning is just mean. I have no idea what they were thinking when developing thus scene other than – “alienate Sarah”.

    This episode is really hard to ‘short fix’ because it exists entirely to drive a wedge between Chuck and Sarah. Chuck could have figured out he still loves Sarah. He could have figured out that having a ‘normal’ relationship and being a spy were not compatible (he could have done that by putting himself in Sarah’s shoes at any point in the last two years). But here they do it all in a way that is hurtful to Sarah, Morgan, Chuck himself and maybe Ellie a little bit. It almost makes sense that Sarah is pushed away into a relationship of convenience but you have to make up your own motivation for it.

    Comfort? Cause Shaw’s just so sweet? No. Just, no.

    Turnabout is fair play? Does she want to hurt Chuck in retaliation? Maybe?

    To hide from her feelings? Substitute a loveless relationship for a withered and broken one that hurts too much? Maybe?

    To prevent herself from the potential embarrassment of reversing her position of pushing Chuck away after Prague? Trying to ‘get Chuck back’? Lesser maybe?

    I’ve always thought that Sarah is very innocent when it comes to a real relationship (something I think she has still never had at this point) and so I could see her reactions potentially being very immature and petty. Moreso than just she’s not good at the ‘saying her feelings part’. I don’t think that would devalue her as a character at all. In fact, I think it’s more interesting that she has this completely underdeveloped part of her compared to all outward appearances of being strong and capable in every way. There’s more than a little bit of ‘little girl’ in her still.

    Problem is they never actually portray any of that.

    The tooth yanking was unnecessary but I at least see what they are doing there. Casey’s shift in his view of Chuck sets up his advice to him about Sarah in Tic Tac and later working with Morgan and Devon to help Chuck ‘win her back’. It’s also part of a broader theme they’ve decided to focus on this whole long arc – Sarah witnessing the good man she loves being turned into something she despises: herself. Or at least her ‘spy self’. And Sarah’s increasing realization that she is largely responsible for much of it. The upcoming red test is the culmination of the transformation. It is an insult to the intelligence community but not much different than 007’s ‘license to kill’. I accept it as a ‘spy story’ device but it is a seriously dark place that the show only flirted with in prior seasons. Going ‘full dark’ changes the perception of some previous events and they aren’t really willing to commit fully to it.

    But this shift to a darker world also makes it much harder to inject Chuck’s quirky humor into the spy world and the darker version of that spy humor often falls flat.

    Shaw’s ‘cake within a cake’ made my spleen hurt. Apparently they brought George Lucas in to punch up the romantic dialogue. But there was only one other instance I can recall if them trying to make Shaw witty and I can’t place it in my memory right now. It was a snide side comment while being briefed by Beckman that Sarah smirked at. I remember thinking it was a typical Chuck comment being delivered by Shaw and the only action by Shaw I could remember Sarah reacting to with a smile.

    His punch of a restrained prisoner was not endearing in any way. I know I mentioned some things above that seem to run counter to Sarah’s strength of character but that I think are possible interpretations of her less developed emotions. This act however is an insult to her strength if we’re to believe she finds this endearing in any way. So I choose to ignore it.

    Way too much filling in of the blanks is required to understand the characters’ true motivations. I do see a way to explain most of it but their execution suffers from several problems:

    It takes way too long and we didn’t want to suffer through ANY more wt/wt

    They don’t seem capable of executing it convincingly – and here I mean the writers. The actors portrayals gave me all of those potential interpretations they just aren’t connected when its presented on screen. (And to be EXTREMELY generous that could have been a side effect of trying to do too much in too compressed a timeframe – even as long as it dragged out it may have taken longer to do convincingly)

    And, most inportantly, it’s not FUN! It’s a good ‘dark’ story idea that some of the above elements have a place in but we just wanted to see them together whether it was dark or not. And the ‘dark story’ didn’t require OLI’s – Sarah/Shaw was an artificial obstacle after Chuck decided to act on his realizations.

    So, that’s a lot – but there was a lot to object to!

    • atcDave says:

      Dang AP, dynamite comment. Some very well thought out stuff there. One thing you really bring out for me, is that kernel of a good idea, Chuck changing and Sarah’s revulsion to it, and how badly they botched it. Of course your final conclusion (“It’s not fun”) may be the most profound truth imaginable for this episode.
      I’d even say I think I’m in the same place on Chuck’s morality. For myself, I’m very conservative (in the “save it for marriage” sense of the word), but I am willing to make some concessions to modern morality, plus the compressed nature of television story telling, so I can say I’m not going to worry about it so much for adults in a long term relationship. But before even one proper date? In a total rebound? Pretty much right in front of your ex? Just ewww. Very low class. Grotesque even. Very damaging to the character.
      I also agree exactly about the Red Test idea. I really don’t like it at all. I understand it has an established place in genre fiction. But its wrong and way too dark for this show and these characters.
      The length of your post alone really says a lot about how much is off kilter here. I might have been okay with the overall darker themes if that was the only real change from S2. I might have (eventually) accepted the Chuck/Sarah estrangement if I’d seen some real growth and understanding come from it. I certainly never would have accepted the LIs (overpowers and dominates every other story element the moment they choose to go there).

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Thanks Dave (atcDave). Before responding I had to think for a bit on some things I’ve always taken for granted in Season 3 (although they are my own internalizations and perceptions) and how I wanted to describe them:
        (1) the promising concept of the ‘dark side’ of ‘what it means to become a spy’ and
        (2) Sarah’s revulsion at seeing Chuck embracing it without fully understanding it.

        It wasn’t fun – like we had come to expect the show to be fun – although there were hints of it in prior episodes with mixed success (Mauser, Lon Kirk, etc.) – but it was a really good idea in concept if not execution.

        I think the most interesting element of Sarah’s revulsion at the changes Chuck is going through is that in my mind she’s comparing him to herself and hates what she’s seeing. That’s some serious self-loathing going on.

        It’s also interesting to me if you apply that dynamic to the relationship as a whole all the way back to the beginning.

        Most people immediately see Chuck: clever but ambitionless retail worker, college dropout, average looking (better if he makes an effort) falls for warrior goddess, smart, capable, sexy and deadly secret agent. That’s to be expected – the creators’ expressed intent was to focus on his ‘quarter-life crisis’.

        Fewer ‘see’ – really SEE – Sarah: beautiful but still sees herself as her homely pre-CIA Jenny Burton self, smart but maladjusted, out-of-place outcast, no real attachments or people she can truly trust, sought adventure but ended up doing a lot of things she’s having trouble living with (if not hates herself for), coming off a (presumably shallow but all she has for reference) relationship meets goofy but cute, funny, sweet, innocent and foolishly brave man who almost gave up on his young, derailed life although all his peers look to him for guidance until he was shanghaied into government service and finds herself growing more concerned with protecting the man himself rather than the secrets he possesses.

        Both of the above are idealizations of the two characters that I perceive to be Chuck and Sarah’s views of themselves and of each other. They each have several occasions where they fall short but the frequency increases a bit when the going gets tough. Usually because Sarah doesn’t understand and isn’t comfortable sharing her true feelings or because Chuck doesn’t trust his interpretations of her little clues due to his own insecurities.

        I find more and more that – even though there are many moments and whole extended storylines I do not like – particularly during this timeframe – that those idealizations of each other are still my lingering perception of both Chuck and Sarah and I managed to never lose my love for them or the show (despite some confusion after viewing certain episodes and rants about specific execution issues to the contrary).

        There are many ‘intuitive leaps’ that I have to make to maintain that love for them as characters but I find I am somehow capable of inserting, modifying or removing elements of canon in my mind to build a story that supports those characterizations. (I can understand and sympathize with those who have a need and expectation that it be presented on screen and lost affection for the show and characters or choose to jump from S2 or early S3 to Honeymooners.)

        Note that the Chuck/Hannah and Sarah/Shaw relationships are still unnecessary other than as barriers to allowing Chuck and Sarah to support each other until all of the ‘becoming a spy’ conflicts have played out. Maybe (probably) that’s all they were meant to be – plot driven rather than character driven as Uplink puts it below – although there are CONCEIVABLE character reasons they COULD have portrayed. I think they were both reactions by Chuck and Sarah to exaggerated perceptions of what was already going on with the respective ‘matches’. Of the two, I think Sarah’s is more understandable as a type of defense mechanism but they didn’t write it that way.

        For Season 3, I think from now on I am going to ‘assume positive intent’ and adopt the stance that they really thought they could pull off a very emotionally challenging story. One where Chuck sees a way to take charge of his life rather than constant fear of capture and ‘help a lot of people’ while also secretly hoping to resolve his personal insecurities by making himself more ‘worthy’ of Sarah and eliminating the artificial agent/asset barrier.

        But what he couldn’t know was that he had incomplete information and a Pollyanna-ish view of what he was getting into. Sarah knew the sacrifices required and fears it will destroy everything she loves about him AND ‘raise the veil’ on all the ugly things SHE has done a hundred times over and what that knowledge will do to his opinion of her now that she can no longer shield him from it.

        Through this lens the choices made in Pink Slip are actually pretty bold if only they could have emphasized more that Chuck was still crazy about Sarah rather than making it seem like an all or nothing choice. They also didn’t emphasize enough how utterly devastated Sarah was (despite her poor plan) but it was enough to prevent Sarah from being there to make things easier for Chuck early on. The journey was supposed to be difficult but the motivations weren’t clear enough or didn’t make enough sense in many places which I think is why most perceive that little growth was achieved by the end of the journey. I think overcoming the self-image issues I’ve described – this perception each has of not being good enough for the other – is the growth that was needed and in my mind it happens during this time period by degrees.

        I’ll assume they knew that most fans wanted to see the Charah story progress but TPTB really thought they needed to get them to a ‘peer/colleague’ status. And further thought the outcome would be so truly epic that we would forgive their manipulations and come to appreciate their resistance to ‘pandering’ to what we wanted to see right away. If this is what they had in mind I think we can agree that they were ultimately unable to deliver on it but I can see a ghostly outline of a concept I appreciate through the haze.

        I find that applying these characterizations and motivations on top of this ‘darker’ exploration of ‘what it means to become a spy’ helps me make sense of what I think they were trying to do. It also colors my perceptions of what was really going on in the first two seasons.

        I can still rant about particular execution issues but I think I’ve come to peace with all of this and can now say ‘I see what you were trying to do – I wish X, Y or Z had happened, was said or happened/said differently – but I’m good with where we ended up if not every element of how we got there’.

      • atcDave says:

        There’s a lot I completely agree with your interpretation AP, even including “positive intent” as far as saying I believe TPTB had good intentions and wanted to create the best possible story and outcome. But much of what still frustrates comes from the feeling they should have known better. The analogy we often used back in early 2010 was like it was playoff time (bubble show saved by a fan renewal campaign) and they choose to bench their star players (Charah) for no clear reason.

        I do believe the use of LIs (again…) is the single biggest sticking point. But ultimately, it was the entire decision to make things tougher in that regard that drags down the season. We did still get moments of Sarah stepping up to provide councel or guidance in Chuck’s training, but the use of Shaw and Hannah inserted a new level of distrust or hurt in those interactions that kept them from being emotionally satisfying in the way previous seasons had been.
        We seem to agree on many of the same specific criticisms of things that weren’t well executed, or could have been told in better ways (Ernie and I agree on many such details too). But I think the ultimate difference may be that unlike you (and Ernie), I did loose my love for the show and characters for an extended period of time. I can even imagine some of what they tried to do being done in a slightly different way that would have made all the difference to me. But those small differences lead me to anger and frustration. Especially since the total impact of some of those small moments are really quite big.
        Now don’t get me wrong; I actually have found some peace and acceptance… with my frustrations. At this point I know pretty clearly why the story fails me the way it does, I know what (sort of) things I was hoping for or would have preferred. And I know nothing will ever change how it is. But I also feel like so much of what failed about the season is institutional in television, and that seems to be a timeless subject.

        Ultimately, I’m also fine with how it ended up, especially since we got two seasons of the show I’d been hoping to see since the Pilot. But that can’t alter a fairly extended period I don’t like at all. Once we get clear of it in a few weeks I’d be fine never mentioning it again. Of course given that the plan has long been to do a series long re-watch in the context of its entirety, it is unlikely S3 discussions will stop coming up. But it truly would be fine with me if they did!

      • uplink2 says:

        AP another insightful and well articulated posting. I agree with much and in some ways where you have gotten to is where I have tried to get to ever since it aired but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I just can’t. I do agree that their initial intentions were to create a great dramatic storyline with an epic conclusion and that on paper much of it makes some level of sense. But it fails miserably on execution. Though this particular episode we are discussing has and always will give me the feeling that the writer was making fun of me, insulting my intelligence and my affection for the characters and yes spitting in my face. I can’t escape that feeling and it made me want to leave the show for good. I don’t watch television to be insulted and that is how I felt for much of this arc and in particular this episode.

        But where the rest of all this still fails for me is that I simply can’t squint tightly enough. The weight of the failed LI story just crushes any appreciation of the spy arc they were trying to tell. Much of that is because none of the problems that the LI story and the spy story to an extent ever get resolved. We have mentioned them many times in this thread. Dramatic plot points that they chose to use to drive this story are just left unresolved, ignored or ultimately retconned. I simply can’t accept Sarah not trusting Chuck for the very first time in the series and then 30 minutes later she is planning to run away with him even before Casey shows up. How can that betrayal simply be wiped away because its time to put them together? Plus there are many more examples of that.

        But in the end I think much of it is I can’t escape Shaw. I can’t escape their love of stunt casting shortcuts or the fact that he simply doesn’t work on any level until Subway. Not one thing about 3.2-3.13 Daniel Shaw works. He is an unsympathetic character played by a very weak actor who as Mo Ryan said drags down every scene he is in and I will add he drags it down to the point of un-watchability.

        I could have enjoyed much of this season if the LI’s simply didn’t happen and its not just because I’m a shipper. They simply don’t work, especially Sarah and Shaw. Hannah Chuck is pointless as there was plenty of darkness from the spy world that could have had meaningful impact on Chuck’s hero journey without that wasted and pointless distraction. There was plenty of ways to have Sarah react to the changes she saw in him and her own insecurities about herself without making her look incredibly stupid by allowing herself to be manipulated by such a pathetic character. At no point do you ever see what appeals to her in him, both the character and the actor.

        I did lose much of my love for the characters during all of this but what got me to at least stay for Beard was that I did believe in the love I knew was underneath. I have to. It’s just who I am. Without a belief in the triumph of love what is the point of anything really?

        So I guess I’ll just have to admire you for the fact you can see through the fog and the burden of the failed LI’s doesn’t break you from appreciating at least some of the original on paper concept. I can’t and probably never will. Had as we discussed yesterday Sarah gotten up off the floor and punched Shaw after she accepted her death and rejected any involvement with him romantically and focused on doing her primary job of protecting the Intersect and therefore tried to rebuild their friendship and ultimately their relationship things would have been much much better. And from what we have found out there was that opportunity to change direction but instead they chose to double down on the already failing Sarah/Shaw pairing and it turned what could have been a great earned triumph and epic ending into something just as contrived and unsatisfying as the original genesis in Pink Slip.

      • Dave says:


        You hit on one of the two things I couldn’t squint hard enough or rationalized enough to make go away. I just ultimately swallowed them and moved on. The first, as you pointed out is Chuck’s behavior relative to Hannah and Sarah in Fake Name. Very OOC and it could have destroyed it for me until I just swallowed it and moved on.

        You missed, however, Sarah’s lack of propriety given to us by the interrogation scene in Living Dead. What Chuck did was clearly reprehensible, but Sarah also had a couple’s massage complete with diamonds from Tiffany’s (implying sex) and a 24 hour sex-a-thon with Shaw minutes after admitting she no longer loved Chuck and all before ever going on a date with Shaw. Remember, their date at the start of AH was their first according to their dialogue. Until they uncorked that tid-bit in 3.17, I had satisfied myself that nothing happened between S&S and Sarah was just exploring a relationship with Shaw trying to move on. That was bad enough to have weakened Sarah’s character so much that she would even contemplate a relationship with a basically detestable person who had treated her so badly. It was totally OOC for Sarah to blast Chuck in Castle then go out with the man that destroyed the man she loved. Mind boggling…

        I would have thought that S1 & S2 Sarah would have tried to help the man she admittedly loves navigate his way through the difficulties of the spy life, shielding him as best she could. I didn’t want to see her cut him loose and essentially become another obstacle for him. Bad TV, not good entertainment.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Dave, going out with the man who destroyed the man she loved is exactly how I read the end of Final Exam too, and that’s why I hate that episode more than any other. I could have seen her beating Shaw to a bloody pulp sooner than going out with him.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Here’s another long one but its hard to discuss elements of this arc in isolation. Or maybe this is just how I roll. I’ll have to try a one sentence post at some point and see if it causes me to break out in hives…

        In the spirit of ‘alternative’ versions here’s my slightly alternative take on what I think they were trying to do and how different emphasis on certain things COULD have resulted in it making more sense. I think a lot of the key motivations are just plain missing.

        atcDave – I think the ‘love interests’ seem like the big mistake (and they were A big mistake) but as Uplink points out they were a contrivance to drive plot (or more accurately to ‘prop up’ the plot) and may have been a symptom rather than the disease.

        It seems to me that the intention was to tell a tale about two people in love – one of whom knows all the dirty secrets about what it means to join this world and the other who wants to join it to be more worthy of her not realizing that going through the process only chips away at the traits that already made her fall in love with him.

        If that’s the case, Sarah is first of all devastated that Chuck chose the fate she did not want for him over a (probably very short) life on the run with her – even as angry/hurt as she was this was still underplayed.

        Then – during this rewatch exercise the comments of others clued me in to this one – when she sees his vault confession she is ‘heartwarmed’ that he values her opinion of him so much but also stricken by the fact that it was his interactions with her that put him on this path.

        (Another key element of these first two episodes they failed to play up was Chuck’s last pre-Prague observation of Sarah/Bryce – her screaming at the Ring agents not to touch him. He didn’t expect the additional abilities of the 2.0 to enable him to become a peer of Sarah and Casey but now given the choice between that and a life on the run always being the defenseless one being protected when he still thinks he’s not the ‘hero’ type…)

        So this dynamic was inadequately portrayed: that Chuck has an idea in his head of what will make him more worthy of Sarah that is in direct conflict with what Sarah wants to protect Chuck from and she’s feeling guilty that he wouldn’t be doing any of this if not for his feelings for her.

        Hannah was a contrivance – a weird case of ‘Sarah’s into this new super agent guy – just like Bryce/Cole that I can’t measure up to – and still galactically peeved at me (although not for the reasons Chuck thinks) – so…why not?’. Weak, I know but not unprecedented although redundant with and duplicative of the Lou situation: just like with the truth serum he misreads Sarah’s motivations and intentions and reacts in a destructive way. TPTB seem to think that having your characters react exactly the same way given similar stimuli should make us say ‘well that was totally expected’ but instead we say ‘why didn’t he learn that lesson before’. To be fair, there’s no indication that Chuck yet knows the full story of what was going through Sarah’s head in Truth and Salami.

        I guess if – of the two of them – either Sarah or Chuck just had to hop in the sack with a Superman cast member to push the other into doing the same at least Chuck has prior precedent. If it had been the other way around it would have been completely irredeemable.

        Of course this pushes Sarah away but why toward Shaw? The obvious answer (thanks Uplink!) is to keep her out of the way so Chuck can work through the ‘becoming a spy’ stuff without her. But there’s a bit more than that under the surface…

        Sarah is hiding with the ‘safest guy in the world’. Safe because neither of them really cares very much for the other. Shaw is still obsessed with his dead wife. Sarah is watching Chuck become more and more ‘like her’ and feels responsible for it. Is she setting up a situation where he (Chuck) won’t continue to pursue her which would be a constant reminder of the fact that he did all of this to be with her?

        Uplink / Dave (non-atc Dave) – this continues through the whole arc and Tic Tac had a part of it that wasn’t emphasized enough. First of all FWIW, if we must accept that Sarah succumbed to Shaw’s ‘charms’ (hurk – yep, threw up in my mouth again) I personally think it happened after Tic Tac. So that last 30 seconds of misery was actually the last five minutes or so (I’ll reverify on rewatch). They actually did a pretty artful parallel between Casey snapping Keller’s neck and Chuck nearly doing the same thing. We tend to focus on Sarah talking Chuck down from finishing the guy off but we should be focusing on Sarah’s horror at what Chuck is now capable of. He WANTS to be emotionless. He WANTS to be capable of the same things Sarah and Casey are (even though he hasn’t full thought that through). And Sarah realizes its because of her. They had all the pieces in place for this and somehow undersold it in the final cut.

        I hate to be so wrapped up in the logistics of a fictional character’s sex life but I see a vulnerable, shaken and extremely upset woman making some bad decisions on her trip to DC. Now – and here’s why I’m so wrapped up on this ‘Hoff building’ thing – I think the ‘spent the day in his penthouse’ occurs upon their return between Tic Tac and Final Exam. Lets face it – between Sarah’s desire to get out of Burbank and move on and Shaw’s obsession – I can see them spending a lot more time mission planning than pursuing recreational activities. So lets say Sarah’s still a mess and slips out that night still upset with everything going on with Chuck. That means she and Shaw aren’t that serious although they’ve slept together twice and she’s still a wreck over Chuck (which considering the near kiss in the Final Exam stakeout is probably pretty close). The problem for me is that – other than Sarah being a ‘zombie’ throughout – they play it as though she and Shaw are a ‘regular couple’. Not being able to see inside Sarah’s head really hurts everything about this arc because its ALL about what’s going on in her head.

        This also means they aren’t necessarily ‘together’ in ‘Beard’ but I don’t know how to salvage the discouraging parts of that one. She was using her ‘wiles’ to delay Shaw’s annihilation order? Ugh. Lets see how that conversation develops…

        But the big thing – jump back in here atcDave – is that by the time we reach Final Exam – Sarah is at a breaking point with regard to blaming herself for what Chuck has become. Shaw sticks her with making the assignment and that’s unforgivable. I stand by my completely unfounded assertion that Sarah was going to put her relationship with Shaw back in the professional only category over dinner in AH. 🙂

        But once she gets the red test assignment duties she NEEDS to know what Chuck will do. I say if he walks away – and he’s ‘still Chuck and that’s OK’ – then she will too but he can’t do it because she dangles that carrot. Then it wouldn’t be different than anything else he has done. She wants nothing more than for him to fail this assignment – it’s just that until everything goes screwy she doesn’t realize that could result in him being killed – which is of course why she follows him. Honestly, if she had even seen Perry’s backup piece on his ankle that should have been enough to excuse it but she still wouldn’t have her answer. Has he become a killer ‘like her’ because of her?

        The whole ‘not trusting him’ thing was clunky but she knows what she thinks she saw and Chuck has become such a prolific liar. This is also the pinnacle of her self loathing as she feels he became a killer because of her even telling Shaw that its all her fault. (Shaw has to realize at this point that she and Chuck had something major going on between them even without her confirming that she WAS in love with him by saying she’s not anymore.)

        When Chuck professes his love for her in Castle (in AH) the only explanation is that she has reached a compromise with herself and will settle for whatever she hasn’t destroyed of the man she loves over all of anyone else. I guess Chuck’s willingness to risk his own life to save the man he thinks she loves is her tipping point. And that selflessness wakes her up to the fact that he loves her unselfishly and that’s somehow enough for her – proof that she didn’t destroy him. Casey’s confession just lets her know that is far more of him than she thought remained.

        There’s a couple (well…more than a couple) of missing pieces. First, since Sarah thinks she’s so horrible and worse for making Chuck go down that same path there should be some concern on her part that he’ll think of her differently now that he’s more aware of ‘spy stuff’ and the fact that she’s gone through the same training requirements and many subsequent missions – we never had a good enough Mauser (or Kirk) discussion to consider this something they’ve worked out. And second, where the hell were they going anyway? Mexico then anywhere plus Paris eventually…sounds like the same doomed plan in Pink Slip. ‘There’s nowhere I can run – not from us’ still holds – any attempt at running away together would be short lived. I guess it could just be the rest of Chuck’s leave prior to reporting to Rome…

        Uplink is absolutely right that they drove this whole arc to achieve the Other Guy ending. And my seeming obsession with the ‘dark’ elements of the spy world is based on the fact that this arc and the character motivations as I’ve laid them out only make sense if these ‘horrors’ are so bad that Sarah is horrified that Chuck will become someone comfortable with them. They never quite sell that. But Sarah as someone who had lived that life – maybe even embraced it for a while – yet somehow found love and decided she was worthy of it should have been a fantastic story.

        Finally – until we discuss it again – the Living Dead ‘briefing’ was interesting in that this is the first time Chuck is aware of any of the things discussed. It was failed comedy and shattered the hopes that things didn’t go very far with Shaw. But if they had better explained what was driving Sarah’s behavior we wouldn’t have been blind sided by that. And maybe it would have been a good time for Chuck and Sarah to have some of the discussions they had been avoiding for months rather than Chuck just banging his head against the table.

        Yikes – that was long but I lumped a lot of responses into one post since we have exhausted the number of ‘nestings’ of the comments.

      • Dave says:


        I thought for the longest time that Sarah succumbed to a trial relationship with Shaw, which I still don’t get.

        I have to disagree with your timeline. The all day off grid in the loft was on 22 March. Chuck usually aligns closely with the actual calendar and 22 March was the day after the red test. not to mention, Sarah was on the verge of making out with Chuck on the stake-date. I still say, that what happened between S & S was from the end of Final Exam till 3/4 of the way through AH.

        Sarah obviously never got emotionally invested in Shaw since she dropped him like a hot potato.

      • atcDave says:

        AP I think you do a good job of dissecting what all was going on, and how we were meant to see things.
        But the problem I have always goes back to my S3 premise statement, “doomed at the start”. At least for me, I don’t believe tweaking (or even major overhauling!) of the details of the S3 main arc would have helped one bit. The problem is, from the very start, they choose a darker story than I wanted to see. Broadly speaking, the major problems are love triangles, Chuck/Sarah estrangement, Chuck being an idiot, Sarah being a moron. All four of those things would need to be different for me to actually enjoy the season. Fixing execution details wouldn’t have helped (much). Just doing away with the LIs might have made me hate the season less, but that still wouldn’t have made me like it.
        And that is such a shame, because I can imagine a version of Chuck entering the spy world that I wouldn’t have hated. But it involves Sarah completely engaged and invested in Chuck learning his professional lessons while helping him hold on to his humanity. Even better, that last part is something Sarah herself just learning about. So maybe the way to handle it is; Sarah remains the professional leader and mentor while Chuck is the moral authority. That sure doesn’t rule out a lot of tension at different times, but the key to MY enjoyment of the story is Chuck and Sarah never give up on each other.
        As I’ve mentioned a few times, I think a “secret relationship” or “what’s really going on under the cover” sort of thing is what I needed to see. And of course, that’s the farthest thing from what we got. There might be somewhere in between I would have enjoyed, but what they actually made is a long ways from it.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Dave – In the spirit of ‘alternative versions’ – and I may be coming at this from too much of a fan fiction perspective – and the opportunities the completely buggered Chuck timeline provides in some places – I tend to largely ignore actual air dates for timeline purposes with the exception of episodes anchored on holidays. (And they manage to ruin or ignore Christmas EVERY TIME: 1 – Buy More holiday party is only reference, 2 – Mauser, 3 – Chuck is training in Prague, 4 – can’t remember a mention of it between Leftovers and Balcony, 5 – Shaw’s back)

        It’s a personal choice – and requires WAY too much deliberate plotting – but it also permits the whole early season 3 arc (with the exception of the extended training period alluded to in Pink Slip) to play out over a period of a few weeks when I view it rather than almost 4 months.

        The story suffers even more from the extended broadcast calendar due to the Olympics – forcing the relationship between Sarah and Shaw to seem longer than it has to be.

        I think the only ‘anchoring’ date is March 22 and that is an after the fact mention in a much later episode (they had a long ‘Honeymoon’, Sarah has moved in with Chuck after debating it for a while and Chuck has been institutionalized for a time yet Living Dead aired in mid-May – fear my spreadsheet!). But what comes before and after is very ‘shiftable’. I choose to place the Red Test a few days later than March 22 despite Final Exam airing on March 22. Not that big a shift.

        If you stick to air dates there are long stretches where nothing worthy of an episode occurs so some episodes (and the spaces in between) have compressed time frames – such as clear references to prior episode events occurring the day before – while others are/have to be spread out over the ‘dead spaces’.

        The Chuck canonical timeline is pretty much a hot mess.

        Season One for example is MOSTLY very compressed – Pilot to Sandworm is about 42 days, Sandworm to Undercover Lover is about 35 days but there’s no reason Marlin couldn’t have happened in say March of ’08 – Nemesis, Crown Vic and Lover occur in rapid succession story-wise – i.e. less than a two week span for all three – but Lover aired in late Jan while Nemesis is anchored on Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of dead space between episode 12 & 13 but there’s plenty of it available!

        I personally have Season Three’s first four episodes occurring in Feb 2010 and everything else through Other Guy occurring in March. The actual broadcast span was January into April.

        If not for the passage of holidays (and easily ‘shiftable’ things that take up extended periods of time with somewhat arbitrary duration and placement to fill up the dead space – like Ellie’s pregnancy, Chuck’s training, Sarah’s references to how long they’ve lived together before she unpacks, Season 4 quest for Mom and intersect testing, etc.) the entire series makes more sense to me playing out over a 2-1/2 to 3 year period rather than a five year period.

        I do have a reason for having mapped this all out! 🙂

        Season 3 was part of that reason. Hopefully it will make sense when I write it that way!

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        atcDave – no doubt
        The shift in tone is what almost ‘reimagines’ the show. And I think we were hurtling down that path from ‘I know Kung Fu’.

        By making the storyline so dependent upon Sarah ‘being horrified’ at what Chuck is becoming they completely changed the intended tone of the show – and then failed to fully commit to it.

        A secret relationship would have been much more fun and in line with the first two seasons.

        I think for continuity sake (continuity of tone) the best bet might be to assume that Honeymooners takes place after Chuck got on the train in Prague and the rest was a bad dream.

        I suffer from a slightly different malady than you. The ‘dark side’ of spying colors my perception of earlier episodes but it also gives Sarah a different (or stronger) motivation throughout those episodes – a fear that she’s not good enough for Chuck. I’m not sure it’s a good tradeoff.

        A portrayal of her in love with him from basically day one, emotionally incapable of dealing with it, afraid that a slip up will put her out of position to protect him when it matters most and generally finding herself as unworthy of him as he thinks he is of her all makes for a pretty miserable existence for Sarah.

        Since TPTB make no secret of being focused on Chuck’s journey, I find this largely unexplored characterization of Sarah strangely compelling. She definitely had a worse go of it than Chuck.

      • atcDave says:

        AP I completely agree that exploring Sarah’s thoughts and motives is by far the most compelling part of the story at this point. In part, because the show failed so badly. I get that the show runners were much more interested in Chuck than they were in Sarah, but I think this was often taken too far. I think it’s no surprise that so much fan fiction makes Sarah the main character.
        Of course a required part (to me) of getting to know Sarah better, is that Chuck would know Sarah better too. Even if the spy world itself goes very dark, a little bit of open communication between the leads could have made a difference. Now I hope I’m not being too obtuse here, but I always mean this in the context of no LIs. It would hardly help if Sarah told Chuck in specific detail what she saw in Shaw (!). Getting rid of the LIs is required to me before any other discussion even matters.

      • oldresorter says:

        actdave – but, but … the only way the Shaw character is given some love, and the Shaw Sarah love affair is given a chance, is if Sarah can convince Chuck (and thru Chuck the audience) why. It may not have worked for you or me, but it would have worked for many. Most shows balance telling 5 or 6 character stories in some depth, there is no reason why Sarah’s s3 side of the story could not have been told. Then, the success of Sarah’s story would have revolved around how good the writing was. In many cases, Chuck’s writing simply avoids dramatic issues, and lets the reader’s imagination give whatever interpretation we desire. In the case of Shaw and Sarah, there are so many interpretations, that the writers gave three later lines to help explain, in living dead, when Morgan and Alex meet the stoner ex, and when Shaw says you miss being in my bed (or something like that) while he tortures the living hell out of Sarah for an entire ep in the Season 5 Christmas present from Hell.

      • Dave says:


        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Setting Living Dead aside, Sarah’s first relationship comment of any kind since “Let’s be friends” was at the end of Final Exam when Shaw asks if Sarah still loves Chuck and Sarah says “Not anymore”. To me that is where her relationship with Shaw began. Since the info in Living Dead, added after the fact, dovetails with that, I’m sticking to my story. As far gone as FauxSarah was, I don’t think she would have slept with Shaw while she was still in love with Chuck. Furthermore, Shaw knew she was in love with Chuck up to that point. Add to that S & S’s “first date” was in AH. That’s why putting Sarah in bed with Shaw at least twice between the end of Final Exam and their first date was just low-class in the extreme. To me, that was more damaging than what we saw originally.

        You are correct about scheduling being a mess at times. While 22 March worked well, there was another date shown in Honeymooners that wound up being a week off due to the early April hiatus lasting a week longer than originally intended. That gaff had Chuck and Sarah in their train compartment for 10 days instead of 3 days. Few people ever pick that up.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Dave – I hear you. Luckily it’s so sloppy we can each convince ourselves we are right-ish and yet be incapable of proving the other wrong!

        I know some people think they first slept together in Castle at the end of Fake Name. Eww.

        It’s unhealthy that we care this much about the gory details but its just a desperate attempt to make any sense at all of it. 🙂

        atcDave – I agree that even if I could successfully explain motivations that lead to Hannah/Chuck and Sarah/Shaw it can’t change the fact that they significantly weakened the best part of the show in a failed attempt to be more ‘edgy’. I had been rooting for a secret relationship since First Date saw the agent/asset restrictions reestablished!

        Five sentences and two fragments – shortest post yet…
        It burns!!!

      • Dave says:


        They do give us some dates to work with. I think the 22 March date since it was inserted 6 episodes after the fact is probably the most reliable. The other date, 15 April in Honeymooners was when Chuck was to pick up his eczema meds prior to leaving on the train. I think they thought ep 14 was going to air on 19 April but wound up showing on 26 April. A little oops there.

        In Anniversary, Chuck mentions a “six-slash-eight month anniversary” that I took to mean 8 months since Paris and 6 months since moving in. Then apparently 2 months between Anniversary and Suitcase. They reference its only been eight months that Sarah hadn’t unpacked.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I will never deny that they COULD have explored Sarah’s story more completely and some would have liked it. But I’m just as glad they didn’t. As much as I dislike this arc, I’m just glad it didn’t go any longer.

        Dave/AP, it is a funny thing how much we all care about this. I was also initially willing to assume Sham had never been intimate, until Living Dead. Ironically, LaJudkins would become my favorite writing team on the show. But I don’t care for that interrogation scene at all. It makes my previous assumption about Sham untenable. I think it means, that Sham were a “real” couple at least from the end of Final Exam until the end of American Hero. It’s only one full episode, but it puts Sarah in such an ugly light, that she would jump into bed with Shaw after Shaw finished “ruining” Chuck, that it nearly makes me ill. I can rationalize a little about how hurt and broken she was; but bottom line is its gross, tacky and trashy in a way I generally just won’t watch at all. I just hate television like this. Especially painful as I had once loved this show so much.

        As AP suggested earlier, the best course is just to assume S3 starts with Honeymooners. It’s not a perfect fix, but it’s as good as we have outside the realm of fan fiction.

      • joe says:

        Arya, yes it burns. But look at the passion you just put in those words. And this is over three years after the fact. To me, that’s the amazing thing.

      • uplink2 says:

        Great post AP and I agree with much of it. What’s interesting for me is I learned something new in reading it. Something that explains the failures on a interesting level. It is a classic example of how I see this show completely differently than Schwedak do.

        This statement Not being able to see inside Sarah’s head really hurts everything about this arc because its ALL about what’s going on in her head. is brilliant. It also shows the point I’m trying to make. TPTB see this show through Chuck’s eyes and in every case it seems where there is a story choice to tell they pick Chuck’s story over Sarah’s. But they don’t seem to realize that without an adequate showing of Sarah’s story the overall story and many of Chuck’s actions make no sense. As you said they expected us to know what there reaction would be to similar circumstances and expect it. When in fact we were looking for growth and the intelligence of these characters to move the story forward not simply replay the same scenes over again. It is underestimating your audience and living too much in a bubble where the only folks from the fan community they had contact with praised them and never said a disparaging word because they were worried about losing access. That even goes to the so called critics except for Mo Ryan. They all simply wouldn’t say anything about the Emperor not wearing any clothes.

        But there choice to sacrifice Sarah’s story to tell Chuck’s is such a failure on their part. Much of the hatred for season 3 is based on what they did to create zombie Sarah and the fact that so many of the things they have to ignore to get to their “epic” DYLM me moment are Sarah’s motivations and the telling of the great story of her journey to be someone worth of love is discarded in such a way that DYLM is unearned and unsatisfying to so many. What’s so sad is that they continually chose to double down on what wasn’t working instead of explaining why it should. They sacrificed Sarah’s character to get to a moment she didn’t deserve, or at least never showed us why she did. She got redemption without ever being redeemed.

        On the sex life issue my feeling is it happened in Castle after Fake Name. As disgusting as that thought is I think that was their intent. They have stated that it was their intent to begin the LI’s in the same episode and and I believe that it was their intent to do the same thing with each having sex. They simply didn’t make it too blatant simply because of the whole unwritten Sarah rule and they had chosen instead of directly acknowledging it to use the name reveal as the devastating moment. But I believe that it happens in Castle after Fake Name. It makes Sarah’s use of the term “us” in the next episode an acknowledgement that she and Shaw are actually a couple and not just professionally.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I think that’s a problem with the whole entertainment industry and the celebrity phenomena. People involved have a very hard time getting honest critical opinions. They are so often surrounded by fawning lackies. And to be fair, any criticism we offer is heavily influenced by our own taste and wants. I have no doubt its a very difficult for creative types to be able to discern what criticism and praise is important or “accurate”. But I also have no doubt, in this case, the information was there if they knew to use it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I agree Dave but it is very frustrating when you see others “get it” but the show I loved didn’t at times.

        Case in point, in the original concept of TBBT Sheldon was a much more minor character but after they saw the show and what worked especially with the actor playing the role, they decided to move him to in effect many times the lead male role. His character growth and fans attachment to him is one of the reasons the show is such a hit. They saw it and used it.

        What’s so frustrating is that in Chuck they knew it was the Chuck/Sarah/Zach/Yvonne chemistry that would drive the show but in S3 they decided to almost scrap it entirely for a character and story that didn’t work from its first moment on screen. And in their desire to tell Chuck’s hero journey they decided to sacrifice Sarah’s character to tell it. They didn’t see that in many ways their greatest strength was Yvonne and her story is what made Chuck’s journey as captivating as it was early on. What makes the “intended” spy story fail is that they didn’t tell Sarah’s story well at all and made her look like a fool for much of it. That undermined the spy story so much that I can’t appreciate it under the weight of the failed LI’s and the sacrifice of Sarah to tell that story.

        A key element of making their spy story and “epic” finale work was the fact that Sarah killed Eve, but at the time it was finally revealed no one cared because no one cared about Shaw’s story in the least. It flopped worse than Lone Star. With that failure we go back to everything else and the justification of the final turn to evil for Shaw no one is interested in is irrelevant, we just want him dead and gone. It never enhances Sarah’s story either because of the way they had her react to Shaw’s manipulation and running to the man who set her up to put Chuck in a Catch-22 that ultimately destroys him in her eyes and doing the horizontal mombo with a despicable character who played her to do it. Then none of that ever gets explained because Sarah’s story simply isn’t important it seems. Sarah’s Red Test story would have been a great story for her and Chuck to explore and grow from. But Sarah’s story was even less important than Shaw’s it seems. Ultimately all that matters is Chuck’s hero journey and anyone and anything is fair game to tell that story even when that sacrifice makes the hero story less enjoyable and damages the characters beyond any real honest storytelling need.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Joe – I’ve found that since the finale I have rediscovered a lot of what I loved about this show. The finale left me staring at the screen slack jawed for a good ten minutes and while I’ve come to appreciate it (but still really want our red door ending some day) it made me think about Sarah’s journey and I now have an even greater love for the IDEA of Sarah Walker and how love both broke her and fixed her at different times.

        Thanks Uplink – you’ve given me a lot to think about over the course of these discussions as well. Sarah IS the show for me and her story is full of angst most of the time – way more than Chuck – for all the reasons I’ve gone into. I think the creators had a good handle on the concept of Chuck Bartowski but didn’t realize how great of an opportunity they had with Sarah Walker (or were unable to capitalize on it).

        You know I’m all about character motivations and the best I can do for this mega-arc is two words: insecurity and guilt

        I think that mutual insecurity drives C&S into others’ arms in Mask but Sarah’s insecurity is multi-faceted. She is just starting to get over being ‘rejected’ and doesn’t want Chuck to see behind the curtain to ‘what she really is’ (which we haven’t even seen because of the Sarah rule*) because she doesn’t feel worthy of him but also feels guilty that it is his ‘foolish’ love for her driving him to do things that will destroy what she loves about him. I just can’t figure out how we get from ‘distraught’ to ‘desperate’ for a lesser connection to someone as broken as her to ‘apathetic’.

        The Sham hookup scenarios are anywhere from Fake Name to between Tic Tac and Final Exam to after Final Exam – you and Dave make good cases – the fact that one isn’t substantially more understandable than the others means none are really understandable. There are guilt triggers in Nacho, Fake Name, Tic Tac and Final Exam. There are Shaw conflicts in Beard and Final Exam. And the Hoff building shouldn’t be an option until after Tic Tac (maybe Beard). I prefer to keep it as brief as possible (thus my argument for compressing the time frame).

        But then she was pretty receptive to Chuck on the stakeout and turns around pretty quick in AH so not only is there no good reason to enter into the relationship but no real obstacle to leaving it behind either. Such a frivolous dalliance with her ‘superior’ just seems so arbitrary unless it has nothing to do with Shaw and everything to do with (hiding from) Chuck. As you’ve pointed out the Shaw/Sarah relationship exists only as an obstacle to Chuck ‘winning her back’ (which seems like she’s easily swayed) and she never gets around to breaking up with Shaw.

        I just can’t quite create a ‘through line’ of motivations for these actions. What is a reasonable – Chuck-related – motivation for hooking up with Shaw? Hannah envy? To push Chuck away? She is utterly crushed for most of the first 12 episodes – I just can’t see what she hopes to accomplish. I’m convinced its all about Chuck (she comes back to him so easily) and she could get back to spying or to DC without ‘dating’ Shaw…any thoughts anyone?

        Can you explain what you mean by redeeming themselves? Chuck has made a poorly explained decision to become something Sarah would prefer he not and done some of the bad things that Sarah knew he would have to face. He basically begs her back.

        What do you see Sarah doing that requies redemption? I don’t think I’m seeing it the same way as you.

        * I presume that by ‘Sarah rule’ you mean that TPTB kept her ‘virginal’ with Bryce (her legitimate ex boyfriend) and Cole, drew an imaginary distinction between her as a seductress and Ilsa/Carina and then abandoned that somewhere in Fake Name through Final Exam and possibly Pink Slip? (You know my opinion of Crown Vic and the pool party in Pink Slip.)

      • JC says:

        It wasn’t that we didn’t get an insight into Sarah’s thoughts in S3, its the fact we the audience didn’t feel the same way. We can all agree the intent of S3 was to show Chuck falling into the dirtier and darker side of the spy world. Sarah was supposed be to voicing our disgust at his actions. Pulling Casey’s tooth, burning Manoosh, etc.those actions were meant to make us recoil. I think the writers assumed the audience would feel this way so we would understand Sarah actions and fears by default. Unfortunately the darker side of spy story fell flat and it dragged her character down with it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok that’s a lot to think about and why I’m enjoying these alternate threads so much. First of all I’d have to say there is no real logical motivation for Sarah Shaw other than the obstacle to delay the reconnecting till 3.13. I think it is clearly shown they never really examined or at times even cared if Sarah’s motivations were logical or honest. They simply needed to delay things and amp up the angst by going back to the tired, dried up OLI well. The fact that Josh said we “wouldn’t get WTWT fatigue” just before Pink Slip aired shows how clueless they were about it. They throw the vague “he is safe” and this bizarro misreading of the reality on screen:

        ” The intention wasn’t to make … [pause] To me, Shaw is the epitome of a classic spy. You know, the kind of broad-shouldered hero/spy. And in some ways, that’s the kind of dynamic — on another spy show, Sarah and Shaw would be the heroes of that show. In some ways, like [Bryce] Larkin and kind of like Beefcake last season, Shaw’s the type of guy who has lived within her world. He is a spy much like herself, they’re cut from the same cloth and in some ways he’s the type of guy she should be with.

        The problem with that statement is they never showed any of it. The stumble is the more accurate statement not the spin associated with it. The intention wasn’t to make him unlikable but it was a combination of the storyline, the character they wrote, the actor chosen and what they actually showed instead of told that makes him incredibly unlikable. The ‘spin’ is simply that. It may have sounded good on paper but the execution failed on virtually every single level. I can’t think of anything about the Shaw character that works until we get to Subway. That is when it finally sort of clicks.

        As far as redeeming themselves goes, for Chuck it’s simpler. He never gets to redeem himself for his horrible treatment of Sarah in Pink Slip and breaking her heart. Plus he never redeems himself for putting Shaw’s opinion above Sarah’s in First Class. He never redeems himself for chasing after the first person who give him any attention 3 weeks after telling Sarah he loved her and did it all for her. Sure he sort of asks before actually having sex with her but they used the tired old miscommunication troupe too easily there. And he doesn’t redeem himself for becoming a disgusting bastard by having a one night stand with her and breaking up with her in front of her parents. He does however get to redeem himself in Sarah’s eyes by saving Shaw for her instead of letting him go through with his ridiculously stupid, suicide plan. Can’t wait to discuss what an ignoramus Shaw was in that episode.

        Sarah however never gets the chance to redeem herself at all for anything. For trusting Shaw when a great spy trusts no one including her new boss. For not doing her primary role to protect the Intersect at all cost and became weak and subservient in allowing him to kill Chuck and never pulling her gun. But for me the biggest is she never gets redeemed for not trusting Chuck for the first time ever in the series in Hero and the aftermath of Final Exam. Instead she goes and screws Shaw’s lights out, the man who manipulated her into finally destroying the man she loved completely in her eyes. That moment is simply huge to me and it is completely ignored 30 minutes of screen time later. That’s why DYLM fails because they get their redemption without ever being redeemed.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree with all of that Uplink. Even saying I think Yvonne was the best actor on the show, and Sarah the most interesting character. Although, I don’t want to push that too far, Zach played a very appealing and relate-able Chuck, usually. In fact, it was how much I liked, respected and related to Chuck early in the first season that initially made the show so addictive for me.
        But then in S3 we saw how that could be a double edged sword. If I relate to Chuck, and more or less experience the world vicariously through him, then his failings are amplified. As I’ve said many times, Chuck becoming the slime-ball, and a character I could only despise, infuriated me in ways no other show ever has.
        Sarah’s appeal is both more obvious and more complex. I think I can skip the obvious part; but the complex part is that she is the closed off, hardened professional who is finding her humanity… Such an awesome story, if only they could have found a way to tell it without making her grotesque or a caricature.
        In a few weeks we will get to Final Exam. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that is sure to bring; it will also bring us to some awesome fan fiction. KateMcK’s treatment of Final Exam (from “The Fight”) is one of my very favorite things written. I’m sure you know, but it’s told from Sarah’s perspective, it helps with a lot of what was left hanging in canon, and is a completely satisfying fix to the episode without straying too far from canon, well at least not for the first couple chapters. I so wish TPTB had paid such close attention to Sarah’s story. It could have been so much fun!

        AP I do want to mention the “redemption” angle. I think more than anything it means so many of us wanted some apologies and regret from both main characters. Chuck did some at the end of Fake Name, but really not enough regret, and he needed to address some of it to Sarah. At least later, in American Hero or Other Guy when they are finally making nice with each other, I wanted and needed some acknowledgment of how wrong he’d been, and how much hurt he’d caused her. Part of the problem certainly is that Chuck was not the sort of serious drama that would ever dwell on such things. But then that same argument is why they never should have gone where they did. If they’re not prepared to fix it right, they never should have broke it.
        Ditto for Sarah. Mainly for giving up on Chuck and not believing in him. But also for getting involved with someone else while still in love with Chuck. Of course the failures came from both characters. But as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. I figure it just means both parties need to make amends. I think for Sarah the time is the DYLM scene. Again, I understand Chuck isn’t the sort of show that’s likely to spend large amounts of screen time on something dramatic and melancholy. But if they’re not prepared to fix it…

        Uplink has sort of alluded to this, but I think an occasionally frustrating thing about Chuck is how they will set up very dramatic situations, and then bail out of them without satisfying resolutions. It is usually just a little annoying. But in S3 it was such a huge contrivance and all hung on poor communication. We wound up with way too much hardship, and way too little fix.

      • oldresorter says:

        My take is that Sarah has bedded not a few, but hundreds of marks in her career. Her pattern, is to seek sexual comfort in her male partner, that in s3 being shaw. Casey said as much, Carina implied it, and most of what we saw on screen backed this up, incluing the Pink ‘Slip”.

        The beauty of the Chuck and Sarah love story, was Chuck was having none of it (unless Sarah was remarkably cruel, she did not come into Chuck’s bed in lingerie in s1/s2 for the night to get a good night’s sleep). Chuck treated Sarah like a good guy would treat his special girl. That is one of the reasons Sarah fell for him, near immediately. It is possible, given what we know about Jennie Burton, that no boy ever treated Sarah with respect.

        So, Shaw / Sarah was normal for Sarah and for Shaw, (who may have bedded hundred of agents and marks in his career too), and I think the writing staff thought so too, and were a little taken back that nobody believed them.

        I get on the writers as much as anyone here, but I think they were pretty clear about the type of girl Agent Walker was … the beauty is, Chuck found the real girl, the normal girl, wanting out of the woman working as the government’s number one paid working girl, working in the world’s oldest profession.

      • uplink2 says:

        I will make one addition to my thoughts on Chuck’s redemption before someone points it out. Chuck does try to redeem himself for his choice in Three Words but it all falls flat because he never follows up on it. He never even asks her if she heard him. He never once talks about it again until the stake date and that is still incredibly inadequate. But this is a case where they at least tried to redeem Chuck, if not entirely successfully. They NEVER tried to redeem Sarah because simply put, it wasn’t important enough to them. She was the prize Chuck get’s for being a hero. Her story didn’t matter or at least that is the impression we got by the absurdity of the decisions she makes. But to me and many others her story is as compelling if not more so than Chuck’s. Plus Yvonne is the best actor on the show. But they diminished her character by running most of her story through the weakest actor on the show. Even the greatness she brings to what they were giving her still can’t sell the story because for much of it the reasons you needed to see in her counterpart simply aren’t there and how can she react to something logically and honestly to something that just is never shown. It makes her look foolish, stupid and zombiesque. Sarah Walker was never redeemed, she was just handed a redemption moment without earning it.

      • uplink2 says:

        THIS!!! ” If they’re not prepared to fix it right, they never should have broke it.” QFT!!!

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I completely reject that interpretation. I’m sorry, but its revolting. And its not at all what I saw on screen. Sarah on screen was actually quite reserved, and every seduction we ever saw she was reluctant and unhappy about, except maybe for Lon Kirk when she was deliberately trying to annoy Chuck. Even in 5.12 when she thought she had married a mark, she was hesitant to let things go very far, even though she had to have known that they’d been intimate.
        Bottom line is, I think she was actually quite normal in terms of sexual morality. Except for the Shaw situation, which is just profoundly messed up. But that likely says more about a destroyed emotional state than anything else.

      • Dave says:


        A lot of good stuff here. I have never been a “virginal Sarah” disciple. But if she was going to have a dalliance, she needed a good, rational reason. Let’s face it, very little of what Sarah did in this arc was rational. If she was going to turn from Chuck, it had to be to a guy who “deserved it”. Bryce or Cole would have worked in that regard. But Shaw was a canard. He never deserved Sarah.The part that will cause me to never watch most of this again is how badly Shaw treated Sarah and she kept crawling back for more and in fact ran to Shaw once they (and I include FauxSarah in this) had completed the destruction of “her Chuck”.

        “Uplink has sort of alluded to this, but I think an occasionally frustrating thing about Chuck is how they will set up very dramatic situations, and then bail out of them without satisfying resolutions. It is usually just a little annoying. But in S3 it was such a huge contrivance and all hung on poor communication. We wound up with way too much hardship, and way too little fix.”

        atcDave I agree with this completely. I had a couple of things that needed to be resolved, fewer than Uplink for sure, but I still needed it. As I said, until Living Dead I had made my peace with this mess. 3.17 rained on my parade, but I just shrugged, sighed and moved on. I needed “Sam” and the fact that she basically cut Chuck loose and left him alone in the spy world. I gave a pass on the red test shared with Shaw. Given Chuck’s response to Sarah killing Mauser, I can actually understand why she never shared that with Chuck.

        Somebody needs to start a new thread, or AP needs shorter posts. I’m starting to have trouble finding the start point of this thing.

      • Dave says:


        I agree totally with your comments to Jason. Even as far gone as FauxSarah was, I don’t think she would have slept with a man, out of choice, that she didn’t love. That’s why her declarative statement at the end of Final Exam is so important. That is where she gives up and tries to convince herself that she doesn’t love Chuck any more.

      • uplink2 says:

        Funny how I didn’t even mention the Name Reveal in my list of things Sarah was never redeemed for. Maybe part of that is I subconsciously bought into the retconning it out of existence they did so completely in season 4. But she did need to redeem herself there. But they simply ignored it because in reality it can’t be redeemed so ignoring it or retconning it are their only 2 choices.

    • uplink2 says:

      Wow great post. I give you a lot of credit by going point by point. I’ll comment on a few as time goes on but one item here. Chuck acting like an 18 year old kid that finally lost his virginity and showing off to his friends. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t in character, it wasn’t just nothing. It was incredibly immature, offensive and unbelievably cruel to both Sarah and the viewers. It was just a cheap high school way for Sarah to learn Chuck got laid and ultimately justify the fact that Sarah did too later on that same day. It represents so much of this episode in how the intent seems to be to alienate, make fun of and disenfranchise the viewer and fans. I’m not a prude and I’ve had a few moments in my life where shall we say I got lucky very quickly. But the only time I ever reacted like that was exactly what I described before, the morning after I lost my virginity as a teenager. But even then there is no way I would have acted like that in front of my ex-girlfriend/handler someone I was still very much in love with. And it wasn’t Chuck either. He was more of a prude than I am and to make him act like that just to hurt Sarah or make the point moving on is so incredibly disrespectful to both the viewer and to the Chuck character itself. It is such an extreme example of sacrificing character for plot. Again there was nothing humorous about it and certainly there was no heart. If anything the heart was ripped out and stepped on by the writer just to make an unwanted, unneeded and ridiculous plot point.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Yep to all that.
        Especially that, if they were going for funny, they couldn’t have missed the mark more completely. And it’s not prudishness talking its just courtesy.

        I always thought that they could have made the exact same point by having Chuck behave in a completely opposite fashion.

        If he had come in completely sheepish and poorly deflecting or avoiding a crass dig or two from Casey the same conclusion could be drawn by the audience (for those who clung to the hope that Hannah just needed a shower for completely innocent reasons) and, more importantly, by Sarah. Zach could have pulled that off with the same impact. As could Yvonne.

        It was cruel.

        Even if a girl you DON’T like (that way) has feelings for you it would be cruel to act that way in front of her.

        Coupled with the fact that the Chuck in my head has never acted that way – even after his ‘first time’ – it’s just an all-around regrettable choice. (Read that as ‘insulting choice’ if you like.)

        Sidebar: And who in that room was going to be impressed anyway?

        Strangely, I’m not even reacting to sleeping with Hannah per se. It’s the display in front of a woman he still cares about – if he’s honest with himself, still loves – and generally trying and failing to play the whole situation for a laugh.

        The act itself is just another log on the fire to push Sarah away thinking Chuck is not only changing but moving on from her and it would have been enough without the over the top display.

        That’s why I tend to characterize Sarah’s turn to Shaw as an attempt to shield herself from everything she’s feeling. Make it impractical to act on those feelings until she can run away and stifle them completely. Even then she doesn’t want to leave Chuck unprepared for the dangers he is going to face if/when he reaches his goal. Or even deny him happiness when she can cover for him by cooking dinner for him and his new ‘whatever’.

        She’s a complicated person.

        But not conveying what all of that is doing to outwardly-stoic Sarah is another place where this episode fails. Even so, the thought of her watching the ‘family dinner’ breaks my heart.

        That helps explain why she would seek out someone else but why Shaw? Maybe the lack of chemistry or appeal finally has a purpose – he’s someone she can feel nothing with. And Chuck’s the one who put the idea in her head!

        And by the time Chuck figures it out she has walled herself off from him emotionally. The ‘relationship ‘just adds a practical element to it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks and I agree. It is something that the only three explanations I can come up with are that they were either entirely clueless about what they were doing and its impact on the audience, the knew what they were doing and simply didn’t care or the intent was to ridicule and make fun of the audience for actually caring about these characters and how we knew them. None of those options is worth investing my time or emotional connection with the work TPTB were putting on screen. It isn’t simply something we have to just blindly accept or suspend belief on to enjoy the show. This gets to the actual moral character of the characters they want us to invest in. It isn’t funny one bit. It’s incredibly cruel and one of the reasons fans stopped caring about Chuck as much anymore. And you are right I really don’t think that Chuck slid down the bannister of the fraternity house the morning with a giant shit-eating grin on his face after he had sex with Jill for the first time. A man who makes love and doesn’t just have sex, like the one we were told he was for 2 seasons would never do that. If he was that guy there would have been a parade of nurses and doctors Ellie would have found in a towel coming out of the bathroom after she in effect pimped out to him.

        Now on to another subject. Sarah checking the shackles and Shaw punching out a restrained man. Did Ali really expect us to believe that Sarah would get all hot and bothered by that display of manly defense of her character? How dumb does she think we are? It doesn’t make him look like a hero, it makes him look like pathetic loser who only fights restrained men and shoots women in the back. It just fails on every point I think she is trying to make. Does anyone really believe Sarah would be impressed by that except TPTB? Did they ever even think about her character and her motivations? Again its another case of insulting the viewer’s intelligence and making fun of the fact we actually care about these people. So much for the “love writer”.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s a smorgasbord of ill-conceived and offensive story elements! A bounty of woe. A cornucopia of inspiration for revision….

        That’s it. My story and I’m sticking to it. It was a plot to inspire a massive explosion of fan fiction.

      • uplink2 says:

        That’s just it and why this is the pinnacle of hatred for me. Mask is just such a poorly crafted and written episode but its only the last 10 minutes that are truly offensive and make you want to scream WTF. But in Fake Name its the entire episode that fails. There isn’t one redeemable story element, scene or character motivation to make this anything other than a total and complete failure. It isn’t just that as well. It actually is an episode that looks like it was almost designed to send viewers and fans running for the hills. That the intent was to make me hate the show and its characters. That I was being made fun of because I cared about honest storytelling and not contrived WTWT. The lame attempts at humor make it worse not better and they insult both the viewers and the characters themselves. I guess when you bomb you might as well bomb big!

      • Joel says:

        Do you find the Chuck/Casey moments to be a complete failure?

      • uplink2 says:

        What Casey moments? Pulling the tooth? Yes I do. What was the point of it? It was an insignificant moment that is wrapped up in a scene where Chuck kicks Sarah and that is what stands out there. It wasn’t funny and it wasn’t worth commenting on because as with most of this arc, Casey has become the outsider as the Big 3 are now Chuck, Sarah and Shaw.

      • atcDave says:

        I did like that Casey made the impossible shot. But I think Uplink identified one of the many very serious problems with this arc. Shaw has replaced Casey as the third most important character, at least in the main arc episodes. (Tic Tac is the most significant exception; and gee, it’s also the most fun from this period).

      • Joel says:

        Casey tells Chuck “I’m proud of you”, and they have a bit of bonding at the end (at least by Casey standards). Along some of the comedy, it’s one of the reasons I can still enjoy this episode somewhat (it’s still pretty weak).

        But I do agree that Shaw eclipsing Casey at times, especially Mask, is a problem. And eclipsing General Beckman, for that matter – she has a pretty unique chemistry with Chuck.

      • oldresorter says:

        funny, I would have said the worst traits of shaw, was he took Chuck’s place as Sarah’s partner on missions and off, he took Sarah’s place as the kick butt spy in the group (at least in everyone’s opinion) and he took Sarah’s character completely away from her, and she became a subserviant stepford girl in any manner shaw told her to be.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, that is spot on. Tic Tac is probably the most enjoyable episodes of these final 7. Well except for the final 30 seconds of contrived angst. But for the other six he really seems to have very little impact. Though I liked the fact that he could make the shot, the fact that it’s Casey really has no relevance to the overall point of the scene. It’s about the new “big three” of Sarah, Chuck and Shaw.

        Man, I need to forge out some time because I really want to rewrite that scene.

  11. uplink2 says:

    Well after getting my emotions and dander up all over again about the betrayal that is this episode I had to go back and reread Parting Gifts for probably the 20th time, more than any story I’ve ever read. It doesn’t fix what’s here but it fixes what should have come afterwards. It also has possibly my favorite sentence in all of Chuck FanFiction.

    “I don’t know anyone named Sam.”

    Absolutely brilliant and devastating in context in that story.

  12. CaptMediocre says:

    I’ve been popping in and out to highlight some noteworthy episodes so I figured I do the same here. In an attempt to save some blog space let me just say that the 1st 13 episodes of S3 all rank in my bottom 5.

    But Fake Name is special.

    Why? You might ask (and this is the biggest failing in S3). This is the episode I truly stopped caring about Chuck, and more importantly, about Sarah, or their plight. (What’s funny is that is likely the complete opposite of what TPTB wanted me too feel after this episode.)

    If the intent of this episode was to make both the lead characters totally unlikeable teenagers, then congratulations, mission accomplished. These two characters no longer belong together.

    Everyone involved did such a superb and stellar job at dismantling and destroying the previous relationship that whatever the characters once saw in each other is no longer there, at all. Too bad they never thought of putting the same amount of effort in reconnecting and rebuilding the relationship.

    I’ve seen lots of people post that the individual journeys of S3 were required in order for the characters to grow and because we now know of their flaws they are more real. I’d believe it if I saw any of this. You simply can’t call the characters “more real” and put them together in a fairy tale moment like DYLM. It doesn’t work that way in “real life” without some rebuilding. So if you want to buy into DYLM you have to dump the previous drama, or if you accept the previous drama DYLM fails.

    Certainly Chuck didn’t become a better spy by himself, in fact he became like every other spy on the show. Sarah certainly wanted nothing to do with him until he was more Bryce Larkin-like. Chuck was way more fun and unique before he became a “true spy”.

    And Sarah, well she certainly didn’t become more human by herself. She became a subservient, automaton, in desperate need of psychiatric help, who had to have a man (and yes I mean both Shaw AND Chuck) tell her what to do throughout this arc. That’s romantic.

    These two characters “grew” more when they were together (in some / any form) then when they were apart.

    Twice, in shows history, they tried to repair 99% “hopeless” storytelling with 1% “hopeful”. In my opinion, in both cases, the central relationship we were left with was “less” than when we started.

    • atcDave says:

      Although my feelings aren’t quite so strong, I agree completely about the overall impression. As I said above, for me, enjoying the show and characters again hinges entirely on completely forgetting this episode, and arc, ever happened. But even so, something was permanently lost through this arc. Its no longer “the nerd gets the girl”. Now its, “if the nerd can become cool, then he’ll get the girl.” Not quite an inspiring story. At least, not like it was in the first two seasons. .

    • SarahSam says:

      That’s it exactly Cap. A killing fracture of a relationship that only led me to believe there was no way these two people could be together without resolving the things they’ve done to each other. These were issues you don’t resolve by not talking about it, because they were first time experiences. These were things you just don’t realistically forget and symbolic of a situation where love doesn’t always conquer all. As we subsequently saw in Cat Squad, Baby etc, Sarah Lisa Walker ( hate how the name reveal was never addressed) still ain’t opening up too much to her hubby, despite his efforts. In my opinion ,Chuck Bartowski has forever paid for that awful choice in Prague. His is a relationship that has never had a sustained period of certainty. He can never be secure in planning anything. What a way to live. Can love trump that? Should they have been together at all ? Is that the morale of the series?

    • uplink2 says:

      Right there with ya Captain and glad you came out of hiding, or should I say came out of lurking.

      What you say here is quite true. What much of the appeal of the show initially was, was that the “nerd could get the girl”. But what they set out to prove was that was all a lie. The nerd had to become the super hero to finally get the girl and TBH the girl he got wasn’t the same one we dreamed of him getting. They ultimately proved the point they had been trying to disprove earlier. To be a gorgeous superspy like Sarah Walker, Chuck had to become something very different than who she and we, fell in love with initially. In this episode he had to become a douchebag prick, sorry I can’t edit it anymore. He had to become a despicable bastard that was exactly like every other view that its that kind of guy that gets a woman like Sarah. As the captain said this was the episode that permanently took much of the epicness of the relationship away never to return. And we will see over the next four episodes the further destruction of Sarah into much less than she was before.

      Many S3 apologists talk about the necessary growth but you are right, none of that is ever shown. Is the Sarah Walker of American Hero a better person than the Sarah Walker of Colonel? Has she grown into more of a real woman who was more deserving of the normal life? Was Chuck a better man in that same journey? The answer is absolutely not for both of them, They weren’t more real, they weren’t more honest and they weren’t more ready. This entire journey was a waste of time and the characters were less at the end than when they began. And beginning with the last ten minutes of last week we enter a very long period where the fun this show used to represent was all gone.

      Captain you are absolutely right, if you accept this journey then DYLM is completely undeserved. The only it is deserved is if you ignore all of it much like TPTB try to do whenever they talk about season 3. To them it seems like it never happened either. I just wish it were absolutely true that it didn’t.

      We talked earlier about the way they have disavowed any part of the name reveal once it aired and the reaction was such visceral hatred by so many. Shaw’s use of Sam in Subway was written before Fake Name even aired. Once it did we never hear about any part of it. It was so bad they disavowed it as early as 4.03 Cubic Z with “Sarah Walker and don’t forget it.” Then the pre-nup, Shaw never once saying Sam in Santa Suit and Emma calling her Sarah instead of the name she knew her as. If this was going to be the huge moment they had taken 5 episodes to build up to and it is supposed to be how Sarah reveals to Chuck how much he has lost, then why do they never mention it again? Why run from it? Why retcon it out of existence? If TPTB don’t even want to acknowledge that this episode happened then why should we?

      In the end it was all for naught. DYLM isn’t sweeter, more deserved, nor a better payoff than that morning in Barstow. It was a painful journey that gained nothing and lost so much and it’s bottom is right here.

    • uplink2 says:

      Captain, next week we will see how far the once great Sarah Walker has fallen from the strong independent powerful woman to the pathetic, subservient shell of a woman who can’t even perform her primary assignment of protecting the Intersect without cowering before a man and pleading with him like a little girl. Then in the end she was never going to put up a fight like the old Sarah would have in a heartbeat and completely wussed out. She would have allowed Shaw to kill the man she loved and destroy the nations most valuable piece of intelligence without ever doing anything to stop it. The strong badass superspy Sarah Walker was replaced by a pathetic excuse for a handler. A woman subservient to her supposed boyfriend and boss. For all she knew it was Shaw’s plan all along to kill Chuck and she was just going to let him do it.

    • oldresorter says:

      Dave / others – not to disagree, but lets face it, for those who know my POV, nobody hated s3 more than I, yet, wasn’t the point, the nerd got the girl, and when the nerd tried to be a spy, he lost the girl. This lead to the ‘epic’ conclusion, when the girl says you saved me, and the nerd replied, sure I did, but I’m still that guy, your Chuck.

      The story itself made sense to me, the problem was the journey was 13 dark episodes, and along the way, seemingly NONE of the three lead characters (Shaw, Sarah, Chuck) displayed many endearing characteristics. That is a long time for a TV show that routinely showed endearment a half dozen times a night, to show practically nothing positive for 13 episodes.

      Once the show decided to write an unhappy arc, the writers needed to fix things slightly in the NOSE episode, then have Shaw / Sarah / Chuck in a triangle in the PLI sense the last eps, while Sarah figures out if Chuck was her Chuck or Shaw’s Chuck. Then little steps forward in the morganlovefest ep, the casey ep, the red test ep, and the hero ep might have been worth celebrating, rather than almost making fans want to vomit. Much like Pink Slip ruined the arc, Fake Name ruined the show, for many fans, the show never again could be trusted.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think you’ve made a very important point here that we have discussed before. The betrayal that is season 3 is where TPTB lost that sense of trust, that faith that they did know what they were doing and that you “shouldn’t put a book down after chapter 7.” For many the show, the main characters, the central relationship all suffered so much during this period that they could never get that faith and trust back completely. As you said “the show never again could be trusted.”

        And you are right the story plan you talk about does make sense on paper but there were so many great ways that story could have been told but the one they chose was so full of holes, poor execution, huge casting mistakes and a decision to once again pay homage at the alter of WTWT.

        The LI storyline ruined this season for many. It was a huge mistake that gained nothing, taught them nothing, and only served to damage the characters to a point we wondered why we ever cared about them or if they even should be together. Then the grand ‘epic’ ending became as contrived as the beginning. How do you have an honest DYLM moment when gigantic issues that can crush a relationship were never addressed between them? When they spent no time what so ever rebuilding their relationship and far, far, far too much time tearing it apart. As the Captain said 99% hopeless and 1% hopeful. The Name Reveal, Sarah’s not trusting Chuck for the first time after the red test, Sarah allowing herself to be manipulated into using a Catch-22 to get Chuck to murder someone. Then running back to the man that manipulated her and abandoning Chuck when he needed her after teasing him that she wanted to kiss him and give it another shot on the stake date. Sarah being subservient to Shaw and allowing him to kill Chuck for nothing more than a few worthless disks. Chuck flaunting the fact that he got laid like a teenage boy in front of the woman he told he loved her just a couple of weeks back. Chuck becoming a despicable bastard to Hannah. Yet all we got was “Oops, it’s 3.13 better put them together”.

        “The show never again could be trusted”. That fact was evident throughout season 4 and certainly in the finale. Zack’s “Of course its a happy ending because that’s the kind of show it was” isn’t as believable because of the mess and betrayal of this season. That lost trust from your audience is something you can’t recover from. It’s one of the very reasons I will never invest in a Schwartz or Fedak show again and also why I’ve never watched anything from Ali since she left the show.

    • atcDave says:

      You’re certainly right about intent Jason; and thanks actually for helping dial it back a notch.

      But even though Chuck did have to prove he could still be a “good guy” to win Sarah back; he also achieved success as an agent lost much of his innocence. I think something was lost in that Sarah abandoned him until he could prove himself. The story would have played far better for me if Chuck had “got the girl” while still a “loser”, and they had worked through his growth issues together. What we got is too easy to be cynical about, like the guy who only gets married after he’s made his fortune, it leaves a question mark that isn’t there if you met someone while poor. And it’s disappointing in this case because the theme of the first two seasons did seem to be “nerd gets the girl”, but in the end it was far murkier than that.

      But I agree completely that the biggest issue was leaving things downbeat for far too long. I first loved Chuck for being a fun and upbeat show, then for most of a season it was neither.

      • Dave says:


        Agree 100%. They kept it too dark, too long. Our central couple were basically turned into antagonists for 11 3/4 episodes. I’m demoralized by the fact that they had a good concept just horribly blew it in delivery. Since alternatives is the topic here, here’s what I would have done to make this a more upbeat story while still keeping the general design. Most of the episodes can stay largely as they are with a few additions and tweaks but 3.01 and 3.08 will need more work. This will be a long post but here goes:

        Pink Slip- I really hated this one, so it will need some work. First, I’d keep the flashback methodology for advancing the story, but I’d use 4 different flashbacks. 1) When Sarah and Chuck meet in castle after the upload, instead of having Sarah hatch an idiotic plan that makes her look…well idiotic, I’d have Chuck and Sarah have an argument because Sarah is mad that Chuck messed up her happily ever after and oh yeah, she’ll go back to general duty while Chuck is in training likely playing arm candy for some scumbag and Sarah wants no part of that anymore. 2) use the scene from Ring where Sarah tells Chuck that she is leaving with Bryce. 3) I’d have a bedroom scene with Chuck and Sarah the night of Ellie’s rehearsal (lets slay that dragon right up front). 4) I’d use the scene of Sarah and Chuck at the reception where Sarah tells Chuck he is a hero. Now, 1 & 2 support chuck flunking out of spy school and 3 & 4 support Chuck flashing while Javier has Chuck and Sarah as prisoners. Lose the bearded, pathetic loser Chuck and make it introspective Chuck analyzing what went wrong and how does he fix it. Also loose the pathetically juvenile Chuck celebrating when the team is back together.

        3 Words- leave as is except I’d change the scene where Sarah asks for reassignment after Chuck is gassed. Have Sarah ask for the reassignment but have Beckman order Sarah to have a relationship with Chuck since that seems to be the problem with the intersect. Have Sarah argue against it (after all she’s not through being mad at Chuck) and finally acknowledge her instructions. That could really be played for laughs.

        Angel de la Muerte- Leave as is except the “Let’s be friends” handshake become a “Let’s try again” warm hug. Also when Sarah comes to tell Chuck about Devon, Sarah kisses Chuck before they hug and Sarah breaks the news.

        Operation Awesome- Leave as is except when Sarah shows up for dinner, instead of the passionless greeting, Sarah hugs Chuck and whispers in his ear “Shaw is watching us”

        First Class- Early on have Sarah whisper to Chuck that he needs to suck up to Shaw and stroke his ego, they need to find out what he (Shaw) is up to. Then put in the deleted scene where Shaw essentially tells Sarah and Casey that if Chuck can function he might as well get killed so they can stop wasting their time (don’t remember the exact dialogue off the top of my head). Then leave the rest as is.

        Nacho sampler only two changes. Early on Sarah signals Casey and Chuck to go outside away from microphones and she fills them in on what happened and how much she doesn’t like what Shaw is doing. Chuck just wants them to tell what to do. Casey says something like “Let’s take care of this dweeb (Manoosh) and we’ll work on Shaw later. Then as I stated last week we fix the final scene by having Sarah disable the audio recordings then she goes to Chuck and keeping her back to the camera she slide the bottle away and as she talks to Chuck he looks up at the camera and frowns, then she takes the glass away and says something that makes Chuck smile and then frown. No dialogue needed to get the picture here.

        Mask- Leave as is except for the “I have type scene” where Sarah clues Chuck to the surveillance and sends him a text to “go to Hannah, sell it. Meet me at my hotel later.” You could also add a scene right before that where Shaw sends Sarah out to have the “I have a type” talk, not absolutely necessary.

        Fake Name- As I said above, this one like Pink Slip needs more fixes to make it work:

        “First is a flashback to the talk in Sarah’s hotel after her text to Chuck. First off they kiss, affectionately, then Sarah explains that Chuck has to sell Shaw that he is moving on with Hannah. They don’t have much time because Shaw is watching both closely.

        Then we lose Chuck sleeping with Hannah. I won’t go as far as NV in the ff, but maybe Chuck drugs Hannah and puts her in bed. When Hannah awakes, Chuck is on his pastry run. Here is where Hannah reveals herself by pulling out a Ring Phone and dials. Her end of the conversation goes like “Not yet”, “Give me a couple of more days”. Then she tries the towel gig to get to Chuck.

        Chuck does his little dance for Shaw’s benefit. Then we carry on as shown until after the name reveal. We’ll leave that in for now, we’ll come back to that next episode. It causes Chuck to not be able to flash. Chuck gets to Sarah and says he can’t do this anymore. Sarah tells him to dump Hannah, its gone on enough and she’ll work Shaw. Chuck is insecure because of the name thing, but he carries on.”
        You could even have Chuck go to Casey for help and he suggests the drugging and the little happy dance, and he looks at Sarah after his snide remark he looks at Sarah and give a little shake of the head to let her know it isn’t real.

        If this was what we saw, I think everyone would be happier and it keeps our main characters in character and keeps the powerful team dynamic going. Like I said before, they had a great concept but really killed it with their delivery and ultimately probably killed the show.

      • Dave says:

        WOW, lot of typos above. Only two glaringly important ones-

        In the First Class alternative I meant “if he can’t function” not “if he can function”.

        In the final paragraph of the Fake Name fix-it the he I keep referring to is Casey.

      • uplink2 says:

        I really do like much of that story line. Biggest fixes for me are obvious. First eliminate the LI story lines and if you do that you have to make Hannah something other than an innocent. Just like in canon if she is an innocent she is pointless and redundant. So either she is part of the spy story or she’s gone.

        Second you can make them flawed but DON”T MAKE THEM STUPID AND LOUSY SPIES!! So much of this storyline depends on stupid Sarah and idiot Chuck. Keep them smart and keep them great spies.

        Plus any story that gives us less Shaw will always be a positive to me!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Dave, Uplink I agree with all of that.

      • Dave says:


        Do you mean my story? If so I think I gave you just that. Our spies are still spies, our team is still a team and Hannah is a plant. Shaw remains a nuisance from end to end.

        I know my post was long, but since I just joined this party I did all 8 episodes to catch up.

      • Dave says:


        Tried to change as little as I could so people could relate. See what a few re-done scenes and changes in inflection and motivation can do to the story.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I do like the minimal fix. It’s fun to see how close we could have been to a fun season.

      • uplink2 says:

        Yes Dave I did. I think a lot of that works.

    • uplink2 says:

      That’s a good point. Chuck had to prove himself to Sarah again to be worthy of her but Sarah did nothing to prove herself worthy of Chuck. She was still just the hot spy girl that was out of his league. Plus she made some incredibly huge and destructive mistakes during this arc but did absolutely nothing to either apologize, atone for her mistakes, actually talk to him about what she did and why to try and resolve those mistakes and rebuild from them. And for many that is a huge failing and undermines the DYLM moment. At no point was anything done in particular on Sarah’s part but also on Chuck’s to rebuild themselves and their relationship and deal with the awful mess they both created. Chuck proved himself to be the hero but at what cost? The only thing Sarah proved was that she was psychologically challenged, dependent on a pathetic excuse for a man and spy, subservient to that same man at the cost of all of her strength and independence and a frightened immature little girl who in the state she was in allowed herself to be manipulated and become a terrible spy.

      The show worked better when the “loser gets the girl” because in a way it was also the “loser getting the guy” as well. Sarah was socially inept unless playing a role as cover, had no way to express feelings or intimacy, had very low personal self-esteem, was a killer, daughter of a conman, trusted no one and longed for a life she didn’t feel she deserved. She was as much a loser as Chuck was. But in this story they created here only Chuck had to change and prove himself. Sarah never did. In fact she regressed from the growth she had been showing up till this miserable arc. The Sarah Walker sitting on the floor with Chuck saying “yes” is not a better person, spy or friend than the Sarah who woke up in Barstow. In fact she is less than that person not more real, just diminished. Chuck proved he could be a spy and remain somewhat the same guy but Sarah proved nothing other than she was beaten by the stupid stick for ever allowing Shaw to touch her and allowing herself to be manipulated by him.

      • joe says:

        Sarah did nothing to prove herself worthy of Chuck.

        I should stay out of this, but Uplink, I think you’re talking about a limited part of S3. Like, two episodes, right? In Angel de la Muerta she goes out of her way to help Chuck in Goya’s compound. In Mask Sarah’s more than willing to be his partner even when Shaw is dressed for the party. In First Class she’s arguing with the boss only because she fears for his safety, and then lets him prove himself despite her fears.

        And when she’s not doing anything directly, she at least tries to stay out of his way, just so Chuck can have what he says he wants, like in Three Words (where she tells Beckman she may be the problem) and in Nacho Platter when it’s painful.

        Really, in all of S1 and S2 Sarah is either saving Chuck or helping him accomplish his goals, so to imply that she has to prove herself worthy in every episode may be a little unfair.

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe – I think the worthiness was more at the end, when Sarah’s position on Chuck remained ambiguous, right up to the ‘yes’ in 3×13, at least from the audience’s POV. I know the eps are short on time, but I felt Sarah needed some dialogue, explaining her POV from Pink Slip on right up to the hotel room before she stood Chuck up at the train station.

        I think the show explained Chuck’s POV thru out s3 reasonably well, and the show is Chuck, but in s1/s2 Sarah’s POV was pretty clear too, since she was with Chuck most of the time, and Yvonne did a great job of letting the audience know how Sarah felt, even if the dialogue was not in the scene. After this arc, sarah’s motivations largely were layed out in the open, as Chuck’s equal, IMO. Her telling Beckman she was willing to look for Frost in 4×10 or 11 for example, clean and clear. Can you imagine how ‘dramatic’ it would have been had she not told us, or Chuck?

        Anyhow, a couple of lines in the apartment in 3×13 would have helped immensely. I can think of a handful which probably could have neatly tied up her actions for the season. But, and I say this with no snark intended, often (say like the ep after we got mausered, or the final on the beach, or the fake name for the remainer of the series) this writing team chooses to leave key dramatic stories ambiguous. Sarah’s POV in s3 was one of those things. We can guess, but heck, we can’t even know if she ever intended on going to meet Chuck b4 Casey intervened how can we know the details of her actions and motivations in s3? Other than making stuff up of course – LOL.

      • joe says:

        I can see that, Jason. Sarah above all has been ambiguous – intentionally, I’m sure. I mean, it took me a long time to convince myself that she actually cared for Chuck during S1 and most of S2, as opposed to me thinking that I was seeing only what I wanted to see.

        It carries over into much of what we’ve seen too, which is why I’m still surprised by how much the episodes read differently to me years after they aired.

        And even that’s not right. It’s not that they’re different. Without making too much of it, the episodes have subtle colors and tones that I hadn’t noticed before. Any wine tasters here???

        But I can certainly understand the idea that they played the ambiguities wrong for most people who were going to see the episodes only once or twice, or for those who have a different understanding of the nuances inherent in human interactions. Those people will require a different emphasis and a different tone to get the storyteller’s message as it was intended. And some will “get it”, but won’t like the message.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, please feel free to join in here. I know we all are trying to respect others perspective and stay away but its hard to have an enjoyable discussion and debate if both ‘teams’ are in separate rooms.

        I’m mainly talking about from this point on. Chuck and Sarah both hit bottom as characters in this episode. Chuck the douchebag prick and Sarah the zombie, subservient,needy, terrible spy. But only Chuck proves himself worthy over the next 5 episodes. Sarah just continues to make mistake after mistake after mistake. She was about to allow Shaw to blow up Castle and kill the nations greatest asset without ever pulling her gun. She just weakly and pathetically asks him not to do it “for her”. The only point we see old Sarah is in Tic Tac and that’s because Shaw isn’t around. Anytime he is in an episode she remains pathetic, clueless, and weak. She stops Chuck from almost killing while under the drug but still runs to DC because she ‘s “thinking about moving here.” The very first time in the entire series where she didn’t trust Chuck had absolutely no resolution or repercussions. 30 minutes of screen time later she is willing to run away with the man she didn’t trust that morning. The fact that she allowed herself to be manipulated into using herself as Catch-22 bait and then pulled that back from him and ran to the man who manipulated her and spent the day in his penthouse doing exactly what we prayed didn’t happen was never once addressed.

        Your point is exactly what we have been talking about. In those earlier episodes there was a chance at redemption and movement to a more positive and enjoyable storyline. But in a writers meeting instead of going back to their strength, the Zack/Yvonne chemistry, they decided to double down on the darkness and the already failing OLI story instead. They decided to make us hate them. not in so many words but it was a very common outcome to the changes they made to the story. When Fake Name was changed from Nose something else much worse happened it seems. Sarah simply became the prize for Chuck’s hero journey with absolutely no regard for the impact on her character. She got no resolution of her failings, she got no consequences for her mistrust. She got no moment of personal growth. Chuck just showed her he was still the hero and the guy she loved even if he had killed someone. She was already planning to meet Chuck and Casey’s revelation only confirmed she made the right decision. But the fact that she put him in a no win scenario was never addressed. Neither was the fact that after she said “yes” to Chuck she still walked arm in arm with Shaw in Paris, where she killed Eve and to the exact spot it happened never questioning him nor asking for backup. Never once did her one time great spy senses go off and tell her this was a trap until it was too late. She trusted Shaw more than Chuck right up till the moment he was about to kill her. None of that gets addressed nor does it even matter the impact on her character. Chuck proved to be the hero and gets her as the prize for that accomplishment. But Sarah from Fake Name on accomplished nothing.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m realizing that I tend to lump a lot of stuff together in my dislike of the season; but there are basically two major related, yet separate issues that ruin the arc for me.
        The obvious one, that usually draws the most attention, and no doubt had the biggest impact as we first watched this season, is the love triangles. That alone would garuntee I could never enjoy those episodes.
        But the second issue is bigger to the series overall. And that is how badly they damaged the two main characters. Chuck the jerk and Sarah the zombie. Chuck’s issues are resolved quicker and maybe get less attention, but may actually be the more damaging to the show. After sleeping with Hannah and his happy dance down the stairs, I find myself loathing the character for a while. Sarah by comparison, is stupid for a longer period of time. And I think we often pay more attention to it for that reason. But, possibly related to the fact the show runners were never as interested in her story, she never gets as big a chance to redeem herself. Saying “yes” in Other Guy is pretty much the end of it. And yet she behaved stupidly for pretty much the entire front arc. It was hard to get enthused about her again too.
        Both these issues are a heavy burden on the show’s legacy.

      • joe says:

        Oh, I’m not censoring myself Uplink. But thanks. I’m just refraining from commenting when it doesn’t add to the discussion in the way the threads develop.

        BTW, I do think the discussion here has been excellent – respectful and intelligent – as it has been in all the “alternate” posts. I appreciate that.

        And we’re not so far apart, Uplink. I do think that C&S bottomed out here as a couple, specifically the point where Chuck (and Shaw, for that matter) stand by helplessly while Rafe has a gun at Sarah’s head. Worse, I’ll never get past the idea that Sarah gives up on life right then. It’s in her eyes, and it follows her to the ground when she appears dead.

        And isn’t that odd? She’s not shot, but – what? Unconscious? We’ve seen her react to near misses before, and fainting was never in her repertoire. It tells us one thing – Sarah is different. Sarah wakes up, but it has to be a new Sarah. It’s an obvious re-birth metaphor, and we’re on the same wavelength here.

        But do we like the new Sarah? There’s lots of reasons to wonder ’bout that. I don’t see the next couple of episodes that same way as you described, though. Many people have pointed to the scene in Beard where Sarah begs Shaw not to blow up Castle and shouted “WRONG!” But I never quite saw it as her aiding and abetting a major blunder. I’ll be re-watching carefully in the next couple of days, so I’m working from memory here, but I found the cause sufficient to justify Shaw’s proposed action. Agent Walker isn’t being so passive as she’s being slow in finding other options, which are few, against her boss’s solution, which is “by-the-book”. Why not? Sarah’s asking herself WWCD, and is coming up empty, because she’s not Chuck. Old Sarah (the one I contend was like Carina and even Heather Chandler) might very well have blown up Castle (and the asset), like a good spy would do, to keep it out of The Ring’s hands.

        We don’t even know if new Sarah would do the right thing, because just before her last chance is evaporating, The Intersect has made the question moot. Chuck has a habit of doing that often enough, too.

        So yeah, I’m agreeing that she’s not the girl we fell in love with in S1 and S2, but also saying that Sarah’s finding herself in the next few episodes. She’s standing on unfamiliar ground and is going to be unsteady. I may even agree that it goes on for too long – and I recall having a bit of a crisis myself about that, at about the end of Final Exam. I saw the end-game when I first saw Am. Hero though, and was very happy indeed.

      • Good afternnoon Chuck fans!!! Uplink2, I have to agree about what u said of Sarah proven herself not worthy of Chuck and it all started with “THESE THREE WORDS” when she did not tell him that she heard him express his love to her and it deteriorated from there, Sarah was socially inept,manipulated,abuse both emotionally and pyscologically before she became a spy! Sarah allowed herself to be touched,used and manipulated by Shaw starting in the ” THE MASK” and to make matters even worse, When Sarah went to Shaw’s apartment and told him about what a jerk Chuck is by keeping secrects, maipulating,and lying to his friends, family and to Hannah in ” THE FAKE NAME”, but training she took part in never the less in him becoming a spy was weak! Sarah basically threw Chuck under the Bus; and when Chuck found that her name is Sam, Sarah made no apology or hold herself accountable for her actions. Infact, Sarah blames Chuck for her emotional meltdown insted of taking responsibility for her actions, but she rearely does! The only time I saw that was the episode “THE BREAK UP” when she apologize to Casey about not taking the shot when Chuck’s life was in danger!

        Read my Blog on THE FAKE NAME and other episode’s in Chuck S3 Part one What Was it All About on
        Part 2 of my blog will come out this Sunday!

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I do think I have a more positive view on Sarah from the start, I always saw her as a hero through and through. But that’s accompanied by plenty of self loathing, that I think goes back to her upbringing and her thought that she has a lot to atone for. Perhaps her heroics have long been about compensation, but it was a real part of her character nonetheless. I think Chuck gave her a hope even broken, defective Sarah could be loved and have something more. But for most of S3 she’s basically in limbo, until she takes the plunge with Chuck late in American Hero or early in Other Guy.
        But more to the point here, I do think she gives up at the moment she thinks she’s about to die. That’s more of zombie Sarah. If she had woken up from that moment, ready to fix what was wrong, and go to Chuck, it just might have saved the whole season for me. But she didn’t. Zombie Sarah gave up, and zombie Sarah was still there when she woke up. We’re stuck with zombie Sarah for a while yet.
        And I don’t buy that old Sarah would have blown up Chuck in Castle, ever. Old Sarah is who went back for captured Carina. Old Sarah cared for, maybe even loved Carina in a way even when she considered her a loose cannon. Old Sarah considered herself a hero. Old Sarah met and protected Chuck. And old Sarah challenged Chuck to become a hero himself.
        But zombie Sarah only makes a half hearted effort to save Chuck from Shaw. I miss the Sarah who almost drew on Longshore, and did draw on Casey when Chuck was threatened. I wanted to see that Sarah. Not the whipped girl who merely asks a favor, and then returns to Shaw after he almost kills Chuck.
        I really dislike zombie Sarah. She sucks all the fun out of the show for most of the season.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bravo Dave I could not agree more. Also Old Sarah is the one that asks Casey in the freakin’ pilot “What about his job, his friends? And what do we do about his sister?” That is not a woman who would have blown up Castle with the nations most important asset in it. She was far more the hero in the pilot than she was at the end of Beard. There she was weak, gutless and allowed herself to be manipulated by her boyfriend (blech)/boss o allow him to kill the man she was tasked to protect even to the point of sacrificing her own life to save his “Your life is more important than mine”. In many ways I hated that version of Zombie Sarah more than any other. I can handle all kinds of flawed Sarahs but passive/wimpy/subservient Sarah really infuriates me.

        Dave you also make a great point about her giving up and accepting her death. When she was in effect re-born it would have been a perfect point to have the healing start. She realizes life is too short and her next moment might be her last so she should go for what she really wants in life. But instead she runs to her Svengali. Her manipulator and the man that just beat the crap out of the man she loves right in front of her. It’s almost like she is an abused woman siding with her captor. A kind of Stockholm syndrome. But obviously they can’t do that perfectly justified and character driven story choice because it is 3.08 and not 3.13. They can’t focus on rebuilding her character just yet, or ever actually, because she is crucial to the big reveal that is not coming till 3.12, that she killed Shaw’s wife. They actually thought that story justified all of this. That reveal was what made the story work and so “epic”. But do you know anyone that actually cared about that story at that point? Did it matter to anyone that she killed his wife? It failed miserably as justification because it came too late and no one, I mean no one cared about Shaw’s story. We all just wanted him gone! Had that been revealed here by say Gruber, what a dramatic moment that would have been?

        But we never saw any of that. No reborn and determiend Sarah. The big reveal came way beyond where anyone cared about it. It is all just a mish mosh, nothing gets talked about and nothing gets explained and the only thing the fans wanted was for it to be over. But if the Sarah that opened her eyes on tha floor had walked up and punched Shaw in the mouth for beating the Intersect and the man she loved, you would have been able to hear that fans cheering coast to coast. That as she faced certain death she made her choice to live her life the way she wanted to, what a great moment of redemption that would have been. But alas the only reason it didn’t happen wasn’t because of honest story choice necessity, it was because it was 3,08 and not 3.13.

        Hmmm maybe there’s a one shot idea there!

    • Bill says:

      Good to hear from you again. I always appreciated your perspective in the forums at

  13. SarahSam says:

    Ugh. Fake Name, where Sarah continues her journey towards the cliff and in her descent, is seemingly mesmerized by a Super Rasputin. Some of the alternative commentary analyzes Sarah’s name reveal as the shock to Chuck’s system . The stimulus that revealed to him how he was losing himself and just how deeply he had hurt Sarah. The catalyst for turning him into Douchebag Chuck before he could begin his ascension back to SuperSpy Hero Nerd. I see merit in those viewpoints for Chuck, but where does that leave Sarah? After the sequence of events in Fake Name and Chuck’s epiphany , why is he not running to Sarah and why after said events is Sarah further bonding with Shaw? Sarah revealing her name to Shaw, Sarah watching Shaw beat the crap out of Chuck, Sarah looking at Shaw? Chuck? after Casey has made the shot. Could anybody discern her motivation at the time ? We certainly could at the end and it was the beginning of the descent. Was there ever anytime after this episode that vulnerable Sarah refused Shaw anything ? Doe’s it say anything about how TPTB perceived Shaw ? Sarah ? This was all written before it all went sideways ? It was too late to fix episodes filmed and I’m not sure they wanted to because if you missed how “Super” Shaw was the first time ( there were many who said nothing happened between S/S) , they reminded you again and again at the expense of making Sarah look like a fool. Why doe’s Chuck have to flash on a penthouse that Sarah is aware of? During these events, is Chuck still Sarah’s “Home'” ? An epic love story , ultimately turned middling and concluding tragically. Yeah. This is where it begins.

    • atcDave says:

      As you indicated, there are shreds that could have made a compelling story. But what we got was done in such an unappealing way I have no interest in trying to piece it all together. They made both characters look horribly bad. A love story that’s tragic not for how it ends, but for how badly it is told!

    • uplink2 says:

      It’s amazing how little respect TPTB gave that “epic romance” with this storyline. They were handed one of the luckiest gifts a set of showrunner could be give, absolutely perfect casting of their leads with a chemistry that is so incredibly rare and it became the biggest attraction to their audience. The absolute #1 positive for this show was that chemistry and they almost destroyed it or at the very least squandered it and threw much of it away for no benefit whatsoever. It’s amazing how much potential was squandered at the altar of WTWT and stunt casting.

  14. oldresorter says:

    Arrow officially is the first show since Chuck that I look forward to rewatch, some eps more than once. The final last night was outstanding, I usually dread final arcs, but last night’s final knocked it out of the park. I thought the ep was over a couple of times, and they kept giving more and more story out, one scene more dramatic than the next. and the lead LI’s, weren’t together in any of them, they weren’t needed, since the story has so much action and drama going on all around it …

  15. uplink2 says:

    By the way, Happy 2 year anniversary to Chuck and Sarah Bartowski. I’m hoping wherever you are, Sarah finally remembers that day!

    • atcDave says:

      I have no doubt she remembers!

      • anthropocene says:

        I have it on good report that she does.

      • Jorge says:

        Hi , good afternnoon guys. i been a fan of this of this blog since i ¨rediscover¨ the show back in december 2011 .and finally i have the guts to post something . full disclosure i like season 3 journey (ep 01 to 11) i didn’t like the resolution (12-13). i agree with the fans that dont like S3.0 , you are right ,there are a lot ( alot) of problems with the execution of those first 13 episodes.i respectfully disagree on this point, fans that dont like S3 say that they stop enjoying the show because longer relate to the chuck bartowski character, and my question would be the next one .

        ¿why you guys only seem to relate to chuck when he’s being a ¨good guy¨ and and don’t relate when he’s making mistakes?

        To me i found i’m even more relatable, because in my opinion chuck S3 was more of a real person an less of a tv character. i agree on this, the showrunners did a lot of mistakes ,but my personal opinion is that i like what the showrunners tried to do ¨ a descent into darkness¨character arc , also elements ring of power ,most comic superheroes take that journey ¿why you guys cant cant acept that real people get easily seduced by power ?, read the biographies of some dictators most of them were ideleast,poor,unselfish,they started by doing grate things, but most of them once they got the taste of power , turn into horrible people,

        ¿why we cant accept and/or judge a tv character that took the descent into darkness and got is redemption? ¿ why we cant believe that a sweet innocent nerd with a terrible self confidence problem cant make any mastakes? chuck is surrounded by people (family,friends,handlers) that he loves, and values their opinion and all of these same people are sending him mixed signals some of make him feel like a winner and a loser at the same time .he is trying to please everyone and moving on with his life at the same time. So ¿why you guys cant relate to the dilema that chuck is facing? ¿ how many of us now people that criticise and/or judges someone else for the mistakes made facing a problem , and these people said things like ¨i will never do that¨ and when facing a similar problem make the same mistakes that the people that already judge.

        I’m writing this opinion admitting that i’m being kind of a hypocrite because a have to admit a was a fan of the show since the pilot and left after Fake Name , i always abandon a show when its seems to lost his way 24.ER,Lost,grey’s anatomy,friends and many others and i also have to admit this show is the only one i regret leaving even with all his flaws. it really changes when you see S3 on dvd.

        I also defend the showrunners for continuing the WT/WT, its all about the ratings for example Friends , Big bang theory, and most recently Castle all this show took a dive when they got ther couples together. ¿what most of this showrunners do? they made their couples took a break to improve the ratings.

        So fans can please throw a bone to the Chuck showrunners because they didn’t brake up chuck and sarah romance to improve ratings..

        P;S !I’m only asking questions to start an honest debate! i’m not trying to take a cheapshot or be disrespectful to the people that post there opinions in this blog.

    • atcDave says:

      Jorge you ask some excellent questions.. I’ll start by saying a lot of it has to do with the type of show Chuck is, or more specifically what I was watching it for. To me, the show was about humor and fun, with just a little drama. So when they changed that balance for S3 it was a little alarming. And it wasn’t just a simple thing of letting it be something else, I really don’t like much more serious television, so basically Chuck became a sort of show I just don’t like as much and usually won’t watch.
      As for letting Chuck make mistakes, I’m actually fine with a lot of them. I never expect or require him to be perfect. I would even be okay with the Chuck hurting Sarah through a misunderstanding idea like we saw in Pink Slip (although that episode took itself WAY too seriously for my taste), but things like sleeping with Hannah is crossing a line into profoundly ammoral behavior. And yes, I know there are plenty of ammoral people in the world; but a huge part of the appeal of Chuck to me had been that Chuck was a good guy. Not just a good guy, but a good guy who I thought was a lot like me. So when they had him do something I couldn’t relate to or respect in any way, it really damaged how I saw the character. He no longer looked like a very good guy to me. He looked like sort of a slime ball.
      I would also point out, this not only made Chuck less appealing to me, it made the show a lot more like everything else on television. You said he seemed more like a TV character to you when he was being a good guy. But to me its exactly the opposite. Television is overwhelmed with morally conflicted characters and hopelessly dark and negative situations and I am profoundly and utterly tired of it. A character who is a good guy, and honestly tries to do the right thing, treats others with courtesy and respect, and remains friendly and upbeat through it all is like a breath of fresh air to me. THAT is different. In a television landscape over-run with crooked cops, serial killers, sex fiends, habitual liars and tortured souls of every sort; a character with a strong moral compass and pleasent disposition is a rare treat. So I loved Chuck of the first two seasons. Even at the start of Season Three his biggest failing seemed to be a misunderstanding at first; so even if I never would have enjoyed Pink Slip, at least I didn’t loose respect for the character over it. But that started to change with First Class when I found Chuck’s behavior questionable, and it changed for real early in Fake Name when I found his behavior inexcusable. And for the record, a lot of that is based on real life experience for me. I have had so many good friends ruin their families and their lives with affairs. I can think of four close friends right off who got into this sort of trouble, and it always starts with “harmless flirting” or just looking for fun. And I always end up seeing a broken spouse and kids; a family who used to all be friends is shattered and things are never the same. I just hate this sort of behavior. So no, I never want to see this from a character (real or fictional) that I’m supposed to like or respect. With Chuck in particular, it seemed to undo what had been a very appealing romance with two characters I really like a lot. It was almost as painful to me as some of those real friends I’ve watched destroy their lives.

      This whole situation has a broader application about the “descent into darkness” too. I am not opposed to visiting the topic entirely. I could imagine Chuck getting a little full of himself or struggling with some of the things he’s required to do as an agent in training. But I have two issues with it that are both relevent here; the first is just that it went on WAY too long for my taste. A two or three episode arc dealing with such issues might have been interesting, but twelve is over my limit. The other thing is related to what I said before, the descent into darkness is so overdone on televison. It’s become the default formula on almost every show, and I’m just completely tired of it. I found it particularly upsetting on Chuck because I had been so pleased with how the character and story were handled in the first two seasons, and then for most of a season I just hated the way the show was written. It went from a sweet and happy change of pace, to trying to look like everything else on television. Disappointing in the worst sort of way.
      Now I was completely happy with how Chuck got back to the sort of entertainment I like best in the later seasons. Especially Season Four stands out to me as being the sort of show I had always hoped Chuck could be. So I guess the show is a great example of both the best and the worst of television for me. That will always make it fascinating to examine and discuss; but it unfortunately, it also diminishes the appeal of the total package. It could have been perfect, except one arc that became a perfect storm of everything I dislike about television.

  16. uplink2 says:

    You know one scene that hasn’t been discussed much in this episode and that just goes to show how this is full of offensive and ugly moments is the final scene in Castle where Sarah runs to Shaw after everything. She then brings him things he will need and they are all things that Chuck taught her. Sizzling Shrimp and all and that unfortunately is Sarah’s version of what happened with Chuck and Hannah at the end of Mask. How she could run to him after what happened to her is beyond me.

    In all of my readings from that time period one thing really stands out in the comments. “Ali will fix this” “At the end of every Ali Adler episode Chuck and Sarah end up in a better place” “Please Ali end this misery” I’ve never seen a show where a specific writer assignment was so anticipated as a way to fix the disaster that was on screen. Then in the end the final moments for both characters was absolutely horrible. She fixed nothing and only made it so much worse. How those who anxiously looked towards her to fix it must have felt after watching this abomination.

  17. Jorge says:

    Hi , good afternnoon guys. i been a fan of this of this blog since i ¨rediscover¨ the show back in december 2011 .and finally i have the guts to post something . full disclosure i like season 3 journey (ep 01 to 11) i didn’t like the resolution (12-13). i agree with the fans that dont like S3.0 , you are right ,there are a lot ( alot) of problems with the execution of those first 13 episodes.i respectfully disagree on this point, fans that dont like S3 say that they stop enjoying the show because longer relate to the chuck bartowski character, and my question would be the next one .

    ¿why you guys only seem to relate to chuck when he’s being a ¨good guy¨ and and don’t relate when he’s making mistakes?

    To me i found i’m even more relatable, because in my opinion chuck S3 was more of a real person an less of a tv character. i agree on this, the showrunners did a lot of mistakes ,but my personal opinion is that i like what the showrunners tried to do ¨ a descent into darkness¨character arc , also elements ring of power ,most comic superheroes take that journey ¿why you guys cant cant acept that real people get easily seduced by power ?, read the biographies of some dictators most of them were ideleast,poor,unselfish,they started by doing grate things, but most of them once they got the taste of power , turn into horrible people,

    ¿why we cant accept and/or judge a tv character that took the descent into darkness and got is redemption? ¿ why we cant believe that a sweet innocent nerd with a terrible self confidence problem cant make any mastakes? chuck is surrounded by people (family,friends,handlers) that he loves, and values their opinion and all of these same people are sending him mixed signals some of make him feel like a winner and a loser at the same time .he is trying to please everyone and moving on with his life at the same time. So ¿why you guys cant relate to the dilema that chuck is facing? ¿ how many of us now people that criticise and/or judges someone else for the mistakes made facing a problem , and these people said things like ¨i will never do that¨ and when facing a similar problem make the same mistakes that the people that already judge.

    I’m writing this opinion admitting that i’m being kind of a hypocrite because a have to admit a was a fan of the show since the pilot and left after Fake Name , i always abandon a show when its seems to lost his way 24.ER,Lost,grey’s anatomy,friends and many others and i also have to admit this show is the only one i regret leaving even with all his flaws. it really changes when you see S3 on dvd.

    I also defend the showrunners for continuing the WT/WT, its all about the ratings for example Friends , Big bang theory, and most recently Castle all this show took a dive when they got ther couples together. ¿what most of this showrunners do? they made their couples took a break to improve the ratings.

    So fans can please throw a bone to the Chuck showrunners because they didn’t brake up chuck and sarah romance to improve ratings..

    P;S !I’m only asking questions to start an honest debate! i’m not trying to take a cheapshot or be disrespectful to the people that post there opinions in this blog.

    • Dave says:


      I know they probably hoped the ratings would improve or hold if they continued the WTWT stuff, but in this case, episodes 1-12 of season 3 lost 2 million viewers. If their intent was as you say, they failed miserably. The ratings tanked badly and they only got the show renewed the show for season 4 because the rest of NBC’s ratings were mind-numbingly bad.

      • atcDave says:

        Thank’s for mentioning this Dave, I meant to get to it in my comment above and then I got distracted. Continuing the wt/wt was completely counter-productive in this case.

        What I think many television writers do not understand is that wt/wt is really like every other story or plot device there is. At a certain point, it simply needs to be resolved. So often with serial television we see one story element or another that is simply dragged out too far. It becomes wildly implausible and/or tiresome and the audience NEEDS a resolution. And I think more than most other sorts of story elements, when wt/wt is dragged out too far it starts to erode the character of the characters (!). Romantic tension in particular, is often treated like it can only be resolved in the final act. And I think this is a huge mistake. I think if writers were better trained in recognizing when things needed to move on; that is, when the audience was ready for a resolution, we would see a lot more satisfied viewers.
        And I firmly believe if the wt/wt had been resolved at the start of S3, and the story were allowed to progress in a way that was more honest to the characters and less insulting to viewers, we would not have lost the millions of viewers we did. The show could have actually been ABOUT other things, other stories, other adventures. Instead, the wt/wt came to completely dominate the show, it became the whole point and goal of the season, and I think it left many viewers tired and burned out in the end.

    • oldresorter says:

      JOrge – excellent post! Don’t agree, but you write so darned nicely, it is a pleasure to try to answer. I hope I do your sincere words justice with my response.

      I regularily watch quite a few shows. Since Chuck, I read reviews on my fav’s after each show, on Always there, thinking I will get some perspective on the difference between good and bad, both from the consistency of the site, as well as from fans, as most shows get a couple of dozen fan posts after the review.

      Most shows I watch are not mixed genre, but are more dramatic in nature, but all of them have aw-shucks moments, which always get me, i.e the sweet, nice character exchanges.

      Anyhow, I like dark, but one of my opinions as result of this research, most shows get put under much deeper scrutiny when they go dark (ask Castle’s showrunners about how their last 3 eps were received). The little things the characters do or say (or don’t do or say) are all looked at under the microscope, when the writers go dark. For some fans (we all know who they are on this site), this is a wonderful time in a series, as they use their imaginations to make sense of the seemingly senseless actions and words. While others (I’m in this camp) get frustrated that those words and actions seem so wrong, vs what I have seen (or feel) up to this point in the show.

      I think the excellence in a show, is how the ONSCREEN resolution comes about, how the words and actions of the dramatic characters come to grips with the darkness. We all have various opinions of how Chuck did in that regard.

      On a seperate note, I think Chuck had an added difficulty in going dark, the mixed genre thing, caused attempts at humor, while the three lead characters (Shaw, Sarah, Chuck) were all so stiff, wooden, robotic, ‘zombied up’, depressed, etc, came off as somewhat disingenuous to many fans, I’ve seen the word ‘insulted’ used more than once over the years. To go full circle, no single episode did this more than Fake Name, which almost seemed like a direct attack on a segment of the fanbase who loved Chuck and Sarah. That may have worked, had not prior eps attacked them, and that the attack continued for almost five more episodes. Goodwill among fans may last an ep or two, but it’s hard to expect that goodwill to last for thirteen of them, hence fans jumped the ‘ship’, and those from that segment who stayed, maybe shouldn’t have, as they (me) probably did the show little good as an active antagonist of the show henceforth.

      I hope my post did the quality and tone of your initial post justice. I wish there were more people out there like you! Thanks for writing!

      • Jorge says:

        Thanks oldresorter! for your coments i agreed whith you on this,the execution of S3.0 failed in some parts, in my opinion the the biggest problems where the resolution the the writers set up big obstacles and they forgot to fix some of this problems.

        to reply to Dave coment

        !I know they probably hoped the ratings would improve or hold if they continued the WTWT stuff, but in this case, episodes 1-12 of season 3 lost 2 million viewers. If their intent was as you say, they failed miserably!.

        i will respectfully disagree with that comment Dave from episode 1 to 07 Chuck gain viewers , EP 03 2.6 demo 7.3M viewers. EP05 2.5 demo 6.9M viewers . compared to Season 2 EP 19 2.1 demo 6.1M viewers or less that was the average of S2.

        Also every other show ratings took a dive at the time , for Chuck ratings tank after the olympic brake.

        IN my personal opinion the showrunnerlost the viewers they gain because of the execution afther 3 07,
        Also remember after from 3 13 to 4 10 the fan base stayed.was after 4 11 when more episodes where more ¨´ligth and happy´´ that the ratings never recover.

        ( P.S i ignore the ratings of the S2 finale and S3 premiere because the ratings are always high in this episodes.)

      • Dave says:


        We’ll have to agree to disagree.

        All shows usually bleed some ratings over time. Ironically, the only season of Chuck where they increased as the end drew nearer were season 5.

        Given that all shows, Chuck included, decline over the course of the season, Season 3 was the worst. I calculated all of this several times while arguing with Ernie on IMdB. Season 3 lost 33% of total viewers and 40% of the demo from start to finish. The best season in terms of consistent ratings was season 2 (only lost about I believe 10%).

        By ep 3.07 .9 M viewers (12%) and .8 in demo (27%). From ep 3.07 till ep 3.12 another .9 M viewers and .1 of the demo hit the exits. From 3.13-3.19 .8 M viewers and .3 of the demo left.

        I don’t see how anyone can conclude that season three ever increased. I believe the S3 premier was higher because of the save the show campaign. I know S3 premier was when I started watching (I got hooked on DVDs of S1 and S2). I almost quit after they trotted out Pink Slip. Happily I got two other episodes in the next 24 hours that were pretty good, thank God.

        I think a lot of people left in late season for a lot of the reasons related here. We never saw anything resolved. A lot of fans are still PO’d about that.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, you make an interesting point. I’ve discussed this a number of times here, on Twitter and elsewhere that some of the dissatisfaction with the finale is because they lost the trust of a number of fans here in season 3 and particularly with this episode. Your point about unresolved issues is right on point. There are a number of unresolved issues in the finale that we are expected to just trust them on. Well they lost that trust here. All I can do is trust the love because I can never trust in the show or its showrunners because of mistakes and hubris shown in this season. As the Captain said 99% hopeless and 1% hopeful isn’t something that is going to gain you a lot of trust from the fans.

      • Dave says:


        Yes, I have been reading your comments along with other stalwart fans. For my part, I squinted real hard and rationalized a whole lot and came up with a solution I could live with (barely) so I could enjoy 3.13 and what came after. That’s why the interrogation in 3.17 makes me so angry.


        These are my opinions and I in no way mean to disparage yours.

        I would not normally talk about season 4, but since you brought it up…
        I generally agree with your comment I only disagree with the start point for the plunge. You pointed to 4.11 and I believe it was 4.18, but when it plunged it drove off a cliff in the ratings and I still can’t figure out why. Sure 4.19 was a dud, but the rest were OK episodes, I don’t get it. Here’s my reasoning…

        I believe season 4 was hurt badly by season 3. Season 4 debuted to only about 5.8M viewers and a 2.0 in the demo. This was 1M viewers less than the previous low (Season 2 at 6.84M). Then season 4 was very odd. The ratings fluctuated wildly without a pattern as far as I could tell. Having said that, they held between roughly 5M and 6M viewers with a demo at 2.0 +/- a couple of tenths through 4.18. Then a dramatic plunge to 4.1M and 1.4 demo (4.22 and 4.23, the lowest ever until it moved to Friday) rising slightly for the finale to 4.47M and 1.5 demo. Half of the overall drop for the season happened over a span of 6 episodes. Still a mystery to me.

    • uplink2 says:

      Jorge first of all welcome. I’m really glad you decided to come out of lurking and join our discussion. You make some good points and though I don’t agree with all of them I’m glad we can have a good discussion. First one small thing I want to correct about ratings, The Big Bang Theory has not suffered at all in the ratings once they finally put Leonard and Penny together, for good this time based on that fantastic season finale last night. In fact the last two seasons have been their highest rated episodes ever. It has become the #1 comedy with its leads together. But they did it by not focusing everything on that relationship but gave the other characters chances to grow and then every few episodes you have great Len/Penny moments. What happened with Chuck was the extending of the WTWT artificially put all of the focus on that storyline at the expense of others, Plus the extension was not character driven it was plot driven. The WTWT storyline had been resolved and how the tried to go back to that well one more time never felt honest. It was manipulative and it took away any chance for me to care about any of the other important things going on. That storyline that I hate dominated the show for that entire season and none of the issues that the jammed in there to extend it till 3.13 got resolved as you said. Huge plot points and issues that could devastate any relationship if not discussed simply got swept under the rug so that the “epic” ending doesn’t feel honest either. It feels just as contrived as how they began it. Chuck and Sarah are no better off or more real or more ready for that moment than they were after Colonel. In fact I would say they were diminished.

      For me I love dark stories of redemption. Those are some of my absolute favorites. I love the swings of emotion and the tension it generates. But it has to be honest. It has to come from the characters themselves and how I know them. Plus the redemption has to be earned. They have to fight their way back to each other. Here none of that is true. The story was written backwards. And it failed for me. I just don’t think the tone of this story fit the show I had been watching.

      You said you quit the show after Fake Name aired. I’m really curious as to why you quit it. If you’ve read any of my posting you know I almost did as well. If Beard had been in the same tone as Fake Name I would have. I was that close and it was Chuck’s non-epiphany that saved the season at that point. Now I still had major issues with much of what was to come and disliked much of it but from that moment I knew the misery would eventually be over. So if you don’t mind can you tell me why you did chose to leave after Fake Name?

      • Jorge says:

        Thanks uplink2 for the welcome and sorry for not replying to your question sooner i got stuck at work ,

        I got a lot of reasons fo leaving after Fake Name,the main would be that i never rewatch any of the episodes since Pink Slip so i didn’t put together or understood the story that the showrunners where trying to tell. Also they diminish my favorite characters Sarah Walker in to a plot device.

        At the time i was sharing the same dislike that you were having with the show, ,i was saying to myself !! this isn’t the same show that make me bought so many subway- sandwiches to get help renewed!! , the only thing that reminded me of previews seasons where the same writing mistakes, like bad setup for love interest (The ex,Beefcake;), the feeling of a episode missing before moving the story forward, abandoned storylines, out of character moments to serve the history , the misogynistic way that Sarah Walker was written, setup big obstacles to be fix with cheesy resolutions. Episodes 06-07 lead me with a bad taste in my mouth and the olympic brake didn’t help either and then Fake name continued my disappointment,and because a was not a fan of the buymore i only watch a few minutes of Beard and then came blowing up the castle scene that sealed the deal for my reason to jump ship , in my first viewing i got the same ¨visceral reaction¨ that you still have, i said to myself !!Casey and (especially) Sarah are going to let Chuck die just like that ! !ok this is not the show i remerber so bye bye!!.

        But i change my mind on rewatch, now i understand the purpose of that scene that make felt so disappointed with the characters , the purpose of that scene is not to make us believe that sarah (or the re-born sarah) was going to let Chuck die because she was just
        thinking like a spy at the moment, !no! the big setup of that scene was only so can ¨Morgan¨ can have is hero moment enter the OrangeOrange an deliver is One-liners.

        On rewatch i also notice the little things that i miss in my first viewing , like the facial expressions of Ms. Strahovski in Mask ,in the ¨¨Goodbey-I have a type¨¨ scene i notice that she still fishing for chuck to say somethig or for him to not giveup on her, and in the neck- massage scene she i not enjoying the massage from creepy Shaw she is just missing the human touch that she has not felt for a long time. Also i miss in Fake Name ,Mr. levi facial expressions are portraying disgust in one of the kisses from hanna.

        Also at the time i was not part of the Chuck online community so if i would have read some spoilers or wait until Tic-Tac , i probably have not given up on the show.

  18. Joel says:

    It is rather weird for a woman to be introducing a man to her parents after a couple of nights in the and sack one date (we’ll be generous and count dinner with the Awesomes as a date). Not that it makes dumping her okay.

    • Joel says:

      should be “a couple of nights in the sack and one date.”

      But really, Chuck’s characters usually don’t sleep with people who they aren’t seriously dating. Their whole “relationship” in this episode is just weird.

  19. Bill says:

    “Dave, you make an interesting point. I’ve discussed this a number of times here, on Twitter and elsewhere that some of the dissatisfaction with the finale is because they lost the trust of a number of fans here in season 3 and particularly with this episode. Your point about unresolved issues is right on point. There are a number of unresolved issues in the finale that we are expected to just trust them on. Well they lost that trust here. All I can do is trust the love because I can never trust in the show or its showrunners because of mistakes and hubris shown in this season. As the Captain said 99% hopeless and 1% hopeful isn’t something that is going to gain you a lot of trust from the fans.”

    @Uplink: I have a slightly different take on the finale, albeit for a reason that I think fits in squarely with your point. By the end of Season 3.5, and in particular with Shaw’s return from the dead, I was so disillusioned with what had happened to my favorite show that I became apathetic. I only watched half of Season 4 when it originally aired, and I didn’t watch more than one or two episodes of Season 5 until it came out on DVD. I think that for that reason, I could and did enjoy the finale, because I had no expectation that it would be the show that drew me in (S1 and S2). I expected something lesser, and thus was pleasantly surprised.

  20. oldresorter says:

    Dave / Link / other shippers / or anyone else – a ? – simply a ? – not trying to give an answer … I love Chuck and Sarah, and the real life people too, but is some of the fault of the drama falling flat in their court? If you want a dramatic series (which I didn’t), don’t you need to write the lead characters lives as a mess? Wasn’t season 3, and Fake Name / Test / Hero / Other Guy in particular dramatic? I suggest to think about, did you all really want drama in Chuck (cause most the S3 fanfic stuff isn’t all that dramatic since Chuck and Sarah stay true to each other usually)?

    One opinion, a positive about Fake Name, I thought Levi got sort of shortchanged in Fake Name (and Beard / Mask), I thought he did great in those eps. Yvonne on the other hand, I thought struggled with Mask, Fake Name and Beard, then found herself more toward the end. Part of the poor selling of the dramatic script was Shaw, but how can Chuck and Sarah be totally excused? But, if you all think Yvonne and Levi did great, it is their show, why didn’t it work? IMO, it didn’t work, because of the mixed genre thing. IMO, in a show that is strongly comic, drama has to be injected into the scripts sparingly, briefly, and with remarkable care and thought about how the drama interacted with the other genre’s and the character traits established.

    I think that genre thing is why many guests look so lousy on Chuck, if you can’t ramp up the drama, while looking goofy 80% of the time, Chuck is a tough show to excel on. Dalton / Chase were supremely great at it. Bakula, ramped it up, but also had a haggled, almost Jeff like quality half the time, which worked remarkably well on the show. Levi was awesome at it, Yvonne (and Beckman) both were more serious, but had ways to look totally out of their element (like Orion) about half the time which was fun, funny, and endearing.

    But when Chuck, Sarah and Shaw got series for 5 or 7 or 9 or 13 eps depending on one’s POV, the show struggled, it simply wasn’t that kind of show. In my opinion of course!

    • oldresorter says:

      got serious, not series. Also, I did give an answer, but I was not attempting to answer the ? did all the actors share in the guilt, not just one actor? I honestly don’t know the answer to that one, or don’t care to know, or care to think of the answer even. Why the arc failed in my mind, that I do have an opinion on of course.

      Saw the new Star Trek movie. The 2009 one was a ten, this one, while still better than most ST movies, was not a 10. I wonder if the franchise will continue for another decade or five?

    • atcDave says:

      I guess it’s not surprising as long as the question is, but I would say I think the answer is complex.
      For starters, I think there’s a complex set of issues that need to come together just to get a show that works. From concept, to story, to script. Then casting; not just good actors, but right for the part, good individual charisma, and chemistry with each other. And then everything from production quality, to intangibles like how it all comes together.
      I don’t think everything needs to work perfectly to get a good show, but certainly the things that work need to do so well enough that the things that don’t work so well aren’t too much of a burden. Think of a show like Twilight Zone; production values were shabby, acting was uneven (as an anthology series, that’s hardly surprising), but a quirky and imaginative writing style completely made the show.
      For Chuck, I would say things that immediately worked was the humor, the action, a very human level of drama, and just dynamite charisma and chemistry for the cast. In particular, the chemistry of Zach and Yvonne was off the charts. I think early on, the occasional plot holes and leaps of logic were easily overlooked.
      As time went on (I’m thinking S3 to the end here) some things changed. For starters, with budget cuts they had even less time for polishing scripts (with the inevitable plot holes and continuity errors getting more pronounced) and tried to stretch their range with uneven results. I think S4 and S5 highlight the truest strength of this cast; they were just made for having fun together. When we got to see how this odd assortment of friends and family worked together it could be so much fun. Even the occasional forays into more serious drama worked well then too, I found it easy to care about these characters.
      But s3 was a perfect storm of things not to do. In particular, the main characters not having fun together pretty much kills the most compelling strength of the show.
      I guess more to the point of Zach and Yvonne specifically in S3; this all means I only hold them a little responsible. And mainly because I wish they would have said something, together, about how this story wasn’t working. But I think Zach is responsible as far as having drunk the writer’s Kool Ade; and I doubt Yvonne had enough influence to make any difference by herself, if she even knew it wasn’t working (I’m not sure it’s at all fair to say they should have seen problems while they were in production, that is yet another issue we know nothing about).
      I think Zach’s performance in S3 was fine. In S4 and S5 I will occasionally object to Chuck being too much of a comic buffoon, but I don’t remember this being a particular
      issue in S3. In a way, it is Zach’s performance as the likable relatable Everyman/nerd that makes S3 problematic for me. I completely related to him early on and identified with him. When I was so frustrated later, it was that very attraction that made it worse. So I really can’t fault Zach’s performance as ANY of the problem.
      Yvonne is maybe a little more complex. Obviously, her performance and charisma is even more key to my Chuck obsession than Zach’s. Her tough chick with a big heart and a professional conflict of interest is one of the most appealing characters I’ve ever seen on television, period. But there’s no doubt Sarah/Shaw failed. Of course most of that (by far) has to do with just not having any interest seeing Sarah with Shaw. So really, from my perspective, the coupling was completely doomed and performance doesn’t even figure into it. But I suppose there remains a question; was the Sarah/Shaw relationship supposed to feel a little off and strangely cold? I think the answer is probably yes. Which goes back to saying Yvonne nailed it perfectly. If Sarah and Shaw were supposed to be more appealing and natural, then something was amiss. Obviously Shaw was stiff, but its fair to say Sarah was a little stiff too. If Yvonne had meant to really sell us on the relationship she could have shown a little more life and warmth from her end. I’m not sure she could have made a huge difference herself, but maybe some. But based on interviews I’ve seen with Brandon Routh, I don’t believe they quite knew how they were supposed to play scene to scene either. And that’s an error that goes back more to the writing and direction (and yes, this is part of why I seem to have less scorn for Routh than many fans do). So really, I think there might have been some uncertainty on Yvonne’s part that reflected in the performance; but I think that is such a minuscule part of what was wrong with Sham, it hardly matters.

      I wanted to address a little of what you mentioned about drama in the show versus fan fiction too. I think one of the great failings of the show, and successes of fan fiction, was the realization that relationship drama is not the only, or even always the best, source of drama for the story. The show runners seemed to think in S3 that relationship drama was the only way to hold audience attention. I think that is so wrong and insulting. I think the show could have been vastly more effective AS A DRAMA if they had better explored issues relating to Chuck entering the spy world, Sarah coming to grips with her emotions and “normal” life, and a friend/partner/mentor turned traitor. But the way they played with the relationship drama reduced the show to a one trick pony and overall diminished its dramatic impact. And again, I think a lot of fan fiction has shown far more sophistication in this regard than the professional writers did.

      Finally my thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness; it wasn’t a ten, its an eleven! Awesome movie. An homage of sorts to Wrath of Kahn, with just brilliant and inspired execution. I remain unimpressed with how JJ Abrams writes series television, but I think he is a brilliant film maker.

      • Dave says:


        Interesting discussion. If the cast were letting their displeasure show in their performance then Yvonne really hated this arc.

        It’s entirely possible that TPTB designed FauxSarah to be listless, almost disinterested in her mission, her job and her life and oh yeah cut her IQ in half. After all, an energetic, dedicated, scarily competent and smart Sarah would have made this incredibly bad rendition impossible. I suspect it was TPTB because Yvonne is a professional and I think Dexter and Golden Boy proved what she can do.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah as I said Dave, I suspect they wanted some disconnect in the performance. Although again, Routh made the comment he really didn’t know where it was going. And they did shoot a scene where Sarah and Casey talked about Sarah trying to cozy up to Shaw to determine what he was up to. It strikes me as entirely possible that Yvonne didn’t even know Sarah was supposed to actually be interested in Shaw until after Fake Name. Which could explain a lot about why Mask and Fake Name are so unconvincing; Yvonne (and possibly Routh too) may have been assuming the characters were gaming each other in some way. That would also be consistent with how I saw it as a viewer.

        But whatever the story, I don’t believe anyone, at any level, tried to undermine anything (that means writers, directors and actors). I believe they are all professionals who did their honest best. But I believe the shortcomings were in both concept and execution. They tried to force a story to reach a certain end, but the story was not honest to the characters they had given us for two years prior; so the writing, directing and acting simply couldn’t make it work. Fatally flawed at conception…

      • Dave says:


        I didn’t mean to imply that anyone took a fall here or was unprofessional, that’s why I think they designed FauxSarah like that for some reason and Yvonne delivered what they wanted. It’s just what they wanted was so terrible.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah completely terrible!

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave – I liked the movie, but I am a fan of new stuff, not rehashing old stuff (some of what I disliked about s5’s Chuck ending).

        I like your comment about other ways to generate drama other than having Sarah sleep with her boss for a half dozen eps after she said no, while she hardly cracks a smile the whole while, and seems near suicidal and / or comotose. Hardly the fierce blond warrior and protector from s1 / s2 – LOL.

        I don’t really think the show ever really found a rythymn with ‘other’ sources of drama, and as you said, the Chuck character almost morphed into Morgan the last two seasons, with Morgan replacinig Chuck as the smart, funny, and perceptive one. I simply shrug this stuff off as the writing team lacking talent FOR WHAT I LIKE, since I love the actors.

        Probably, after Honeymooners aired, other than Phase 3, and a few scenes here and there, my favorite clip was when the four real life actors interacted for 8 minutes after the series ended. Again, I know others liked the writing, but I loved the actors and struggled to get through the script, and often cringed at scenes – Chuck’s lying in S3 comes to mind as something other than the Shaw arc as simply cringeworthy. Orion’s death was another thing that needed some linkage to a bigger plot, other than Shaw is a bad man and he executed daddy, after he banged the love of Chuck’s life for the sport of it half the season prior.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree about the lying, that’s something we’ll get to more in a few weeks, but it continues the S3 problem of making Chuck unlikable. Other Guy may have fixed the single biggest problem with the S3 design, but clearly the show runners were still thinking making Chuck look like an idiot was good entertainment. I think they mostly did better with that in the later seasons, but in S3 it was endemic. We saw Chuck as an idiot of sorts from beginning to end.

  21. SarahSam says:

    Nice comments AP. You are in a place I struggle to reach and doubt if I will ever get there. Some of you guys have summed it up best for me in your comments about distrust of TPTB. I stopped believing their story during S3 because of what I perceived as the dishonesty. Sure, directions were also apparently miscommunicated and misexecuted but Living Dead confirmed to me the misery was intentional. The lack of clarity for Sarah Walker was much needed. We know of Sarah’s issues and we know how events derailed that impacted the affection in her life. To be blunt, she is also a woman in her sexual prime who is seemingly celibate. She had a relationship with Bryce but as far as we know since that ended, nothing (save perhaps self-gratification). She’s vulnerable, Stud Superman comes along and all the issues with her behavior so many have enumerated come after the intimacy begins. Subtle sexism. Uplink’s right, she’s subserviant and diminshed, because that’s what the mighty Sarah Walker becomes when she has sex with Golden Boy. She becomes tamed. No matter what horrible actions she witnesses or causes for Chuck, she runs back for more. Sense a pattern? I agree she seemingly gives up in the Gruber scene . You see it in her eyes and she makes a desperate grab for Gruber’s gun almost as if “kill me now” . This is where it ends for my beloved S1/2 Sarah Walker, the rebirth is Zombie Sarah. After these chilling events, how does she turn to Shaw at episodes end with Chuck still present in her life? And her atonement ? Although never addressed at any point following, it comes for her at the tragic end. She now has a concrete reason not to ever recall any of this.

    • Dave says:


      I absolutely agree that FauxSarah was subservient and diminished and quite obviously so. I disagree with the reason is that she had sex with Shaw. From what I saw they never had sex until the interval between Final Exam and AH.

      As I watched each episode with growing confusion, I decided to be guided by what I actually saw in the episodes. Except for Sarah kissing Shaw at the end of Fake Name what we saw was actually…well, nothing. There are two key scenes that support this and the general tenor of the episodes. First, at the end of Final Exam Shaw asks Sarah if she still loves him and she replies not anymore implying that she did until that point. Second, was the fact that their first date was at the beginning of AH. Finally, except for that one scene in Fake Name, there was no smile, no relationship dialogue, no …anything. The scene at the end of Fake Name was probably Sarah reaching out because, at that point in time as far as Sarah knew, Chuck was moving on with Hannah. Once Chuck dumps Hannah, its back to…well nothing.

      Until Living Dead I would have laid even money that nothing sexual had happened at all. But the interrogation scene from Living Dead gave us three facts. She had dinner in DC with Shaw and since their first date was in AH then it was just dinner. The other two items, since they gave us a calendar date for one of them indicate that Sarah, apparently had sex with Shaw at least twice before even going on a date. She was OOC enough without this info.

      Clearly they just made Chuck and Sarah look like complete idiots both individually and collectively. I still don’t get why. I don’t understand. But I learned to live with it and enjoy what came after.

    • Arya's Prayers says:

      SarahSam – I’m with you on a lot of this. I just wrote a short novel above about possible motivations which were not portrayed on screen. One is that Chuck and Sarah’s perceptions that each is more into Hannah or Shaw respectively ends up pushing them farther in that direction. I’ll go out on a limb and say Chuck abandons hope with Sarah first and pushes Sarah toward Shaw. I’ll even call the end of Mask ‘hesitant’ and the end of Fake Name ‘mild’ from Sarah’s side of things.

      The ‘giving up’ in the Gruber scene could be some degree of despair over how things should have been with Chuck.

      I agree with Dave that any sexual encounters occurred in DC and then shortly thereafter in Shaw’s fancy new penthouse – after Tic Tac but before Final Exam. The motivation that didn’t really come through was Sarah’s reaction to Chuck nearly killing someone with his bare hands. I think that shook her as much as the red test did. Even so she was still easily swayed by Chuck on their ‘last stakeout’. I have to think she doesn’t want to be with either if them after the red test.

      I think there was too much emphasis on Chuck and not enough on how distraught Sarah was about the changes Chuck was actively making to himself throughout the arc. She really feels like she has destroyed something wonderful and she’s quite a mess because of it. She’s going through changes and hasn’t really been acting ‘in character’ since the 49B (she just wasn’t so angry/hurt/frustrated with him back then) – around the time she realized she was in love with him.

      That said, its hard to get all that across when its mostly in the head on a character who isn’t big on sharing her feelings, you play serious issues for laughs and generally don’t commit to articulating WHY these changes in Chuck are so emotionally difficult for Sarah.

  22. atcDave says:

    Let’s see if we can get the above thread going at a new home…

    Yeah Dave I never bought a “virginal” Sarah either. That may be MY type, but its wrong to assign that to Sarah. She clearly has a history. But as I said, I think her attitudes seem to be mostly normal, especially as opposed to Carina who is an animal!

    Uplink I might suggest the name reveal slipped your mind because that’s something the writers need to apologize to US for; far more than Sarah needed to apologize to Chuck.

    • Dave says:


      For the name reveal what I really wanted was Chuck to confront so we could learn she made it up and hear her real name is XXXXX.

      For the outside love interest, to me they just put her with someone who in no way deserved her and then had them have more sex in three days than Chuck did in three years (blech). TPTB treated her character so badly. She didn’t deserve to get assassinated like that. She needed to go with a true hero, not plywood man. But we all know that Chuck is her hero, at least until this mess started anyway.

    • Arya's Prayers says:

      Interesting all. (And I was about to say the same thing about the thread nesting even though its mostly my fault!)

      I’m not prepared to say that Sarah was ‘easy’ in any way – at least by the standards of her profession – in fact I view her as generally reluctant to take on seductions.

      Lon Kirk was to anger Chuck or make a point or show him some nasty things about the spy world possibly to drive him away when she felt she was getting too close to him. Or all three. I don’t think she knew how far she was willing to go to make her point.

      Pink Slip MAY have seen her doing the same thing due to her emotional state coming off Prague. Just without a net this time.

      I think we can safely assume that even if she had a distaste for it one or two missions in her past may have gotten out of hand or required a certain amount of expediency. I think it’s in her ‘toolbox’ to ‘pull a Carina’ but not her go to move. I’m even on board with her feelings for Chuck making her more hesitant – unless of course he makes her angry.

      (I draw a big distinction between a ‘seduction’ to, for example, gain access to a restricted area vs. a deep cover seduction like Ilsa and Carina pulled and Sarah thought she was pulling in 5.12.) I don’t think I would be 100% OK with that if I were dating such a woman…and I think Sarah has misgivings about either type which result in being reluctant to do it at all and inadequacy issues for what she has done. If she didn’t think it was a big deal she just wouldn’t care what anyone thought.

      And, yeah, the purple nighty in Truth was a little less than innocent. She would probably have been OK with slipping up a little to ‘manage their cover’. But that was less of a ‘working a mark’ thing and more of a jealousy / liking a guy who is off limits / just really wanted to do it thing.

      But I don’t see how any of this translates to Shaw specifically. Especially considering that I never got the impression that Sarah ‘indulged’ in any temptation from Bryce (three visits we know of) or Cole. Nor that Sarah in any way is ‘in love’ woth Shaw (my ability to suspend disbelief would not survive such sn effort). I get that Shaw is supposed to be ‘cut from the same cloth’ as those guys (even if we don’t see it) but why hook up with him if she didn’t give in to them? Hooking up with that ‘type’ of guy would be deliberately tweaking Chuck’s own inadequacy issues when it comes to Bryce and his clones.

      I agree with her having a ‘destroyed emotional state’ – and that’s the only difference between Shaw and Bryce/Cole – she’s been ‘rejected’ by someone who really loves her not just finds her to be convenient or a good partner, realized around the 49B that she loves him, sees him changing into everything she dislikes about herself (I’m kinda surprised they didn’t beat us over the head with Chuck pulling a full blown seduction during this run).

      Was that the point? That she was lashing out at Chuck to drive even more of a wedge between them? To sever any chance of it being recoverable? Could she be that enotionally immature?

      Because the only thing worse than hooking up with a Bryce clone would have been if Blue Collar never took off and Bomer came back to run this angle. Going back to Bryce would have completely devastated Chuck thinking he was right all along and that was what she really wanted from a man.

      Deliberately burning bridges because she’s so hurt is the only motive I can think of.

      • atcDave says:

        You know AP you are very thorough! I would say I mostly agree, except maybe about Bryce (and its “White” Collar by the way!). Certainly Bryce would have brought a whole new dimension of emotional baggage, but I think it would have been far less damaging to the character had she run to a legitimate ex, especially one she had some chemistry with! And I think she would have owed less explanation and apology in such a situation. And since we got none, less would have been better. Either way, a better explanation was badly needed and missing.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Hahaha ‘Blue’ Collar – where the F did that come from?

    • uplink2 says:

      Dave, I think you’re right. The writers needed to apologize to the fans more than Sarah needed to apologize to Chuck. Though I still think she needed to do it. In her case what she does after the fact was much more reprehensible. Running to Shaw is just so incredibly wrong on so many levels. Most of which don’t serve the story well at all anyway. It screamed dishonest, contrived and manipulative story telling.

      As far as Sarah goes, I’m of the belief that Sarah wasn’t ‘virginal’ in her earlier spy career. Let’s face it, you don’t create a group like the “Cat Squad” and have them behave like nuns. Besides her best friend is certainly NOT virginal in the least. I agree with AP that it was in her playbook but not her go to move like it was for Carina. But the show definitely hints at it. The deleted scene from Crown Vic is in many ways the worst admission of her attitude towards it. But Pink Slip hints very loudly at it as well.

      I’m of the opinion that nothing happened between Sarah and Bryce or Sarah and Cole at any point once she met Chuck. But what is incredibly disgusting is that TPTB jammed that teenage boy “Hey everybody I got laid last night” scene down our throats to justify Sarah ending a 2 and a half year celibacy with the most un-deserving of any of her suitor. The man that is the least appealing on any level, the one who is the worst spy, the one who there is absolutely no connection with and it creates the most repulsive destruction of the unwritten Sarah Walker rule possible. And it’s all so pointless. Nothing is gained from it but so much was lost because of it. It damaged her character and the show in a way that never gets fully recovered from.

      There was no point to Sarah Shaw that makes sense. The only way to even understand any of this story is to believe Shaw is completely and totally irrelevant to any of it. It’s how I look at the name reveal scene. It had absolutely nothing to do with Shaw and Sarah should have realized that when she gave up her life to try to save them both. THAT was the lesson that should have been learned. It is the only honest character driven lesson that could possibly have redeemed this horrible episode. But it doesn’t happen because its only 3.08 and not 3.12 or 3.13. This was the point where the redemption of Sarah Walker SHOULD have begun. That was the story I wanted to see. The Eve/Sarah/Shaw story I have absolutely no interest in. Their big reveal flopped because no one cared about Shaw’s story. We wanted Sarah’s redemption and instead we got an irrelevant big reveal about a character I wasn’t invested in in the least. They wasted time on Shaw’s story that should have been spent on Sarah’s.

  23. SarahSam says:

    Word my friend. Word. As you said earlier, the lack of clarity for Sarah’s motivations impact’s Chuck’s journey. I thought Chuck was a weenie for taking her back. Remember after he saves Shaw from his suicide mission ,she is still not receptive to his efforts at reconcilation. She had to know what he was driving at from his earlier attempts at the stakout and the dinner. Shaw had made it known what was most important to him when he “gave” her back to Chuck and yet, her plans were to honor her “commitment” to Shaw and her duties. I commented years ago that imo, without efforts to resolve what they’ve done to each other, they go their seperate ways after Chuck saves Sarah from Shaw. That of course, would not fit the plan to put them hastily ogether at the perceived end, but it would have perhaps stimulated some honest resolutions to all their errors. It would have finally allowed them the opportunity to fulfill the promise of cleaning up their mess. Instead of glossing everything over, clueless to the fact they have destroyed a destined, epic love story. Our heroes love was no longer ” special”, it was as common as everyone else’s.

    • atcDave says:

      Of course there’s no way I want to see that show. I’m far happier to just disregard the one bad arc than make it bad longer.

    • uplink2 says:

      Though I don’t necessarily agree with that idea SS I can certainly see where it comes from and why you feel that way. I just have to admit if they had gone that way instead of the sweep everything under the carpet and simply ignore all the important drama they created. I would have left the show for good. The betrayal they gave us was bad enough but keeping them apart even further would have been the end of the show for me and I expect for a whole lot of other folks as well. I really doubt we would have gotten season 4 which would be a shame as it is my favorite.

      I know we are getting ahead of ourselves but atcDave I hope you include Rome Assignment in your posting for Final Exam/AH. It may be unfinished and I’ve tried a number of times to get the final 2 chapters Fogh promised he would give me when I reposted the story, I haven’t gotten a single reply. It’s been almost 18 months so I don’t have much hope we will ever see them though I’d love to find out he still reads this site and it might inspire him again. That is a fantastic and realistically dark portrayal of what in many ways should have happened after Sarah’s not trusting Chuck at the beginning of AH.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I certainly will mention Rome Assignment. I thought Fogh did an excellent job of repairing the relationship in a believable way. I don’t know if he simply lost interest, or painted himself into a corner (I have NO IDEA how he was going to get them out of the mess he’d made!) and didn’t know quite what to do.

        I’m also with you on the show though. The only thing that kept me going late in the S3 arc was the pretty sure knowledge it would all be fixed by 3.13. Of course I didn’t expect it to just forget about all the issues that were only touched on and never made good on. But if I had reason to think things were going to be unresolved post 3.13 I would have just deleted the show and been done with it. This way, I can pretty much give the characters and writers a fresh start at 3.14. And from that point on, I’m mostly pleased with what I see.

      • uplink2 says:

        Figured I’d give it one more shot and try to contact him. Maybe we’ll get lucky. Such a fantastic story and it deserves a proper ending. I know he left for personal reasons and not story reasons but I’m hoping that has been resolved.

  24. A light-hearted observation on atcDave’s alternative articles on season 3 and those responding with such intensity………………this must be the most inexpensive form of therapy in existence!!!!

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt! And it’s been a ton of fun!

    • JoeBuckley says:

      That’s why I’m here, Yoza. 😉

    • uplink2 says:

      And if there’s any episode I need therapy after sitting through, it was this one. But its been interesting to realize my bitter hatred for it is just as intense if not more so now than it ever has been. But I did realize something from some comments by AP. It’s not a positive in the least but it does give a differing perspective and explains much of what is wrong with this and subsequent episodes.

  25. First Impression says:

    First, the ridiculous: Hannah drooling all over Chuck at the Buy More staff meeting; the mafia in Burbank with Chuck channeling Ray Liotta; Sarah wining about losing herself again.

    Second, the interesting list of Fake Names: Chuck = Rafe Gruber; Alexander Coburn = John Casey (a guess on my part); Sam = Sarah (but did she really have to to reveal it to Shaw?).

    Third, the best quotes about Chuck and Sarah: Jeff – “Don’t you get it? None of them matter.  Chuck may try to replace her, but when he’s with Sarah the light in his eye shines brightly.”; Chuck – “Me and Sam are on again off again, driving everyone in my life a little crazy.”; Ellie – “Maybe things are moving too fast with Hannah, and even though you really like her, it feels dishonest because the truth is that you still have feelings for Sarah.”

    How did Casey track Chuck after Chuck’s watch had been destroyed?  Glad he did so he could prove he was ‘one of 5 people who could make the shot’.

    Who did Sarah stare at so intently when Rafe held the gun to her head? It had to be Chuck, but she returned to Shaw? No way!

    • atcDave says:

      This polls as the most disliked episode of the series. I actually have one I rank lower (that you’re not to yet!)
      But this is pretty desolate.

  26. Pingback: Chuck This

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