Season Three Alternatives: The Beard

I think many viewers will find The Beard a better episode than the two we just saw before.  And I mostly agree.  But we’re still at an unpleasant period of the show and nothing really changes here to improve the misery arc, except for a countdown to the end.  So even if this episode is a little more upbeat than what came before, there’s still plenty that drags it down too.

I think its easy to imagine some very entertaining alternatives to the canon story.  So let’s see what we can come up with for a more entertaining version of Chuck vs The Beard.

I think my initial impression is pretty good this time, at least this episode is an improvement!  There is some serious fun to be had with a Buy Moron revolution, another Jeffster performance and Morgan discovering Castle.  That last part especially was fun for me.  I loved how Morgan found out about Chuck’s little secret.  And Chuck finally coming clean about everything that’s been kept secret for over two years was particularly well done.  Even if the “bromance” angle of the show is way down the list of things I enjoy about Chuck, it was still good to see it healed after a rough couple weeks.  What can I say, I like buddy stories.  And it leads to Chuck’s revelation that in spite of all that’s happened, he still loves Sarah.  Again.

Never mind he credited Ellie as insightful for discerning the same thing last week.  Maybe he thought he was lying to Ellie?  That’s hardly better.  And if we go back a few weeks, he even told Sarah this back in Three Words. And his dad in Ring.  So Chuck is a little slow.  This is a big problem for me.  The story telling feels just insultingly manipulative when we get the same revelation four times in the span of ten episodes.  So I guess we are to believe Chuck finally, really means it; and might, eventually do something about it, now that Sarah is as far from him as she’s as ever been.  And given that Chuck runs off in the end to play Duck Hunt with Morgan, it seems it isn’t quite his top priority yet.  Yeah I’m being a little snarky.  

But for me the most disappointing aspect of this episode is that Sarah is in full zombie mode.  She does offer to talk to Chuck about what’s bothering him, with Shaw right there.  She heads off on a wild goose chase adventure, and in the end offers only token resistance to Shaw’s attempts to kill Chuck.  This is just heartbreaking.  The Agent Walker who almost drew on Agent Longshore, and did draw on Colonel Casey (twice) when Chuck was threatened, can only plead helplessly for five more minutes now.  To be fair, the five more minutes is all Chuck needs to save himself.  But as gestures go it was pretty weak, and in the end she is still with Shaw (!?!).  That may be even more insulting than the weak response itself, Sarah is still hanging out with her incompetent boss who almost just killed Chuck.  This destroys every last bit of what was good about the episode for me.  Write this down as another I don’t care to re-watch.

So what could have worked better?  Again, I’m mostly fine with the “A” plot.  If we go back to the idea of a season long secret relationship, we could still have Chuck at a crossroads as he tries to deal with the darker side of the spy life.  Maybe even with Sarah by his side, its still dragged him down to the point he can’t flash.  And maybe the chance to come clean with Morgan is exactly what he needs to get back on course.  So I can easily imagine this episode working pretty much as we saw, even with the sort of “long fix” in place that we’ve discussed a few times.

The most urgent part of the “short fix” for this episode involves Zombie Sarah.  The first thing being that she cannot helplessly plead with Shaw for Chuck’s life.  Sarah Walker is a woman of action not words.  In keeping with the more comic side of the show, I think she should have snatched the phone from Shaw’s hands and smashed it under her heel.  All done with the sort of deadly glare Yvonne conveys so well.  And after Shaw recovers from the shock and moves for a land line, she can deliver a knee (or boot) to the groin.  I think a verbal warning might be appropriate at this point (definitely not sooner!) that he will not be killing a member of her team!  Gee I’m feeling better already…   Nice thing about this fix, it really works whether the long fix is in play or not.  If we assume we are about where canon really is, this should absolutely, categorically be the end of Sham.  This is a huge part of what is so wrong with Sarah in Season Three, that she is with a man who is so contemptible.  There is nothing about his actions that feel reasonable, decent or acceptable. Not only will Sarah be with Shaw through almost three episodes yet, but his worst behavior is yet to come.

I don’t believe The Beard is quite one of the major crisis points that inspires so much of fan fiction.  The fan community has never been as enthused with the bromance as the show runners were.  I don’t mean that to be completely hostile, I actually enjoy Morgan as comic relief and I liked the way he was brought in on Chuck’s secret life.  But this episode has inspired a couple of nice fan fiction moments; nice moments that really don’t involve Morgan…

So the first offering I have this week is the next installment from KateMcK’s “Chuck vs The Fight“.  This episode gets a slightly longer treatment and will run for three chapters.  It is funny how often we all resorted to the hyperbole that Sarah should have shot Shaw.  I know I was kidding (er, I think I was kidding?)  Kate will play with that exact idea.  No doubt it is satisfying, and it plays out with quite a bit of drama.  There’s some new information here about non-canon back-story for Chuck and Sarah that is particularly effective.  I really enjoy the longer treatment Kate gives to The Beard.  Good story.

Another story set at this time, that otherwise has very little to do with the episode itself, is “Chuck v Trust or Lack Thereof” by rokerroar.  This is a fairly short multi-chapter story where Chuck figures out the real issue is that he doesn’t trust the government, Shaw or Sarah.  Never fear, the story is all about setting things right.  It definitely offers a more concrete solution to problems than canon ever did, with issues involving both the reliability of the Intersect and Charah getting plenty of attention.

That will do it this week.  I think that makes this my shortest post yet in this series! As always, I look forward to comments and discussion!

~ 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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92 Responses to Season Three Alternatives: The Beard

  1. Justin says:

    atcDave, as you know, in my alternate version of 3×08, Ellie gets suspicious of Sarah which complicates a mission Chuck and his team were on. A backstory about Sarah’s behavior that Ellie finds suspicious is invented to keep Ellie from further interfering. But Shaw sees it as an example of the kind of troublesome complications Chuck and Sarah being together, personally or as a cover to the people in Chuck’s life, keeps on creating. Chuck and Sarah fear that this will have a negative impact on Shaw’s impending decision on their status as partners. Meanwhile, Ellie gets a mysterious phone call from someone who tells her that her brother and his girlfriend are lying to her and that she isn’t safe.

    In my alternate version of 3×09, Shaw informs Chuck and Sarah that today is the day that he will make his decision on whether to keep Chuck and Sarah together as a team or apart to keep their romantic relationship from further interfering with the job. Chuck fears a negative outcome and Sarah tries to keep him from freaking out. Meanwhile, Ellie is being very paranoid about the phone call she had last episode. She talks about it with Devon and thinks about calling the police. But Devon tells they shouldn’t and that it may be a prank call meant to mess with her head. Ellie doesn’t think so and tells him that she fears Sarah may be in on something dangerous and Chuck may have been dragged into it. Devon suggest taking some time to think about what has happened and where to go from here. Ellie gives in, partially because of the lack of sleep she has had since the phone call. Afterwards, Devon goes to Chuck, telling him about the phone call Ellie had and demanding to know what the hell is going on. Was the phone call from someone in the CIA or a bad guy from Chuck’s past? Chuck has no answers for Devon and is worried about the incident. Chuck promises Devon that he will get to the bottom of it. As Chuck and Devon are talking, Ellie witnesses the encounter from afar and wonders if Devon knows about what’s going on than what he claims. While having Shaw’s soon-to-be determined decision and Ellie’s phone call on his mind, Chuck also has to face his estranged friendship with Morgan. All of this makes Chuck realize the consequences of his decision to be a spy to fight aganist the Ring who was responsible for Bryce’s death. It also psychologically hinders Chuck’s control of his Intersect which becomes inconvenient when Ring operatives break into Castle.

    Sarah’s reaction to Shaw’s attempt to destroy Castle with Chuck inside is less of a zombie and more of a fierce woman who won’t stand by any harm being done to the man she loves. She pulls a gun on Shaw to keep him from what he is doing and threatens to kill him if he goes any farther with what he is trying to do. To show that she is serious, Sarah shoots him in the arm.

    How Morgan finds about Chuck’s secret, how the situation with the Ring operatives was resolved, and Morgan being allowed to know what he knows still happens like it did in the original Beard. However, in the aftermath of the assault on Castle, Shaw makes his decision about Chuck and Sarah: they are to be reassigned as soon as possible. Shaw has observed that how their feelings for each other have been a strength that empowered them as a team. But he has also observed how those feelings can make them unpredictable and volatile which can do more harm to Chuck’s spy training than good. Shaw can’t have that when Chuck is an important weapon in the fight against the Ring. There can’t be any weaknesses for the Ring to exploit which is what Shaw learned from the assault on Castle. Chuck and Sarah are dismayed by Shaw’s decision and try to figure out a way out of it. I felt Shaw making this decision is more realistic under the circumstances.

    Meanwhile, Ellie confronts Devon about his talk with Chuck and how he seem to be keeping something from her. Devon denying the accusation just further fuels Ellie’s suspicions. She gives Devon one last chance to tell her the truth or there will be consequences for their marriage. Unable to handle the stress of lying and secrets anymore, Devon blurts to Ellie, “Your brother is a spy!” Cut to a surprised look on Ellie’s face which the episode ends with.

    • atcDave says:

      Its always fun to read your comments Justin. Once again, I like how you create a story that is far more appealing within the basic structure of the canon story. I also like how Ellie’s story ties into the main one, and I look forward to how you resolve that. The reassignment feels a bit like the 49b story, but I imagine it will play out quite differently.
      Much better treatment of Sarah, but maybe she should have put her warning shot into Shaw’s head…

      • Justin says:

        One can dream.

        It always a joy to read your comments on my comments. I’m trying not to have the reassignment storyline unfold like 49b by making the threat more serious and tied into Chuck and Sarah’s growth as a couple.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s definitely the sort of threat that’s a lot more fun and exciting to me.

        And you know I’m happy to share the joy…

      • Justin says:

        I forgot to add that Shaw threatens to put Morgan into witness protection and have him relocated, removing from his life in Burbank, if Chuck and Sarah try to fight his decision.

  2. uplink2 says:

    Ahhh Chuck vs the Beard. This episode is a bit of a different animal for me. On the one hand I looked back over some old postings of mine from 2010 in which I said that after the disgusting betrayal of me, the viewer, that was Fake Name, this episode saved the season for me. And if I look back on it now by saving the season in such a way, I got to experience so many things I never would have, the friendships I have made, my new found love for both reading and writing FanFiction and my involvement with #Emmy4Yvonne and the fact that I’ve been blessed by her answering two of my questions, one for the site and one from a Twitterview. That being said I am convinced that if Beard had been at the same level of offensive darkness with absolutely zero fun like Fake Name was where I felt I had to wash my face from the writer spitting on it, I would have been gone from this series. I never would have ventured into the online Chuck world and ‘met’ so many great people I am perfectly comfortable calling my friends knowing full well we have never met in person and probably never will. I really was this close to giving up after the betrayal of Fake Name. And Fedak should learn a lesson here that folks do stop reading after chapter 7 or 8. Case in point is I used to love Community but I stopped watching after episode 4 this season because it was just so bad. I doubt I will ever return as it isn’t the show I loved anymore. Sound familiar Fedak?

    Anyway, on to the episode. It did save the season for me and gave me some hope that the disaster of Shaw would end. The humor was back in much of this episode as any episode that features a lot of Big Mike will always be a fun episode for me. He is by far my favorite BuyMoron. But on the main plot Chuck’s phoney epiphany was more a “well duh..” moment but it was clear that they were headed back to the romance I wanted to see and away from the absolute disaster of the contrived and almost show destroying story of Sarah/Shaw. It’s too bad that it takes 4 more episodes for someone, anyone to put a bullet in that horribly conceived, executed and cast character. That’s not to say this episode isn’t without it’s problems. There are big ones, really big ones, but at least I didn’t want to open a vein after watching it.

    The biggest problem is the full emergence of Zombie Sarah. An extremely diminished and subservient version of the character I fell in love with. A version of her with no story purpose, no character growth, and very little appealing about her. I think it is in this episode that I dislike Sarah Walker most. This contrived and dishonest version of her is so unappealing that had this been the version I first saw, my passion for her never would have had the chance to grow. Sarah not seeing Chuck’s breakup with Hannah as significant in terms of her possible future really bothered me. The contrived and completely redundant Hannah was gone and as it was only there to justify Sarah/Shaw so should that have been gone. As we talked about last thread, Sarah’s near death experience coupled with the end of Hannah should have been the beginning of redeeming both Chuck AND Sarah. It should have been the moment when their friendship began to reemerge and they fought their way back from the pain they had caused each other. And it definitely should NOT have been “You can talk to us”, it should have been “you can talk to me.”

    But they couldn’t allow that to happen. They had doubled down on the disaster of Sham being critical to their big spy reveal yet to come. A reveal that no one, at least not many, cared about in the least and had already outlived it’s possible usefulness. Again they couldn’t do that because it seems Shaw’s story was more important than Sarah’s. They seemed to feel Chuck couldn’t redeem himself to Sarah without his hero moment in AH. But they completely forgot to redeem Sarah at any point.

    Part of that approach that really bothered me was the throwaway line from the Hotel worker about Sarah and Shaw being a beautiful couple. They were again trying to jam an unbelievable relationship down out throats instead of showing us how it was believable. Now it never was and there was no way to actually show a connection that simply wasn’t there but that scene was just so phoney and unnecessary. I hate it.

    Now we come the the moment I hated Sarah Walker or at least Zombie Sarah. Weak and subservient Sarah is the most unlikable of the versions we saw of her. I know Joe tried to say in the other thread that she wasn’t passive in her pleadings with Shaw but it was so incredibly pathetic. After the fine minutes she had every intention of letting Shaw kill the man she loved. That was the moment that should never have happened. That is the moment she should have pulled her gun. That is the moment the real Sarah Walker would have and not this pathetic pod version of her. Plus she was derelict in her duty to protect the Intersect. This statement by Schwartz in the famous Mask damage control interview is made a complete fabrication by this scene.

    I know there’s some question, “Why can she date Shaw and not Chuck?” She’s still there to protect Chuck. The bodyguard component of that professional relationship remains intact. Shaw is an equal – her boss in fact – and the same issue of Sarah’s feelings for Chuck compromising her ability to do the job in the most cold-blooded way possible remains.

    Sarah Walker at the end of Beard was derelict in her duty to be Chuck’s bodyguard and “protect the Intersect”. She made no attempt to stop Shaw after the five minutes were up. The man she loved and the nations greatest intelligence asset was going to be killed and at the most critical moment of her job as his protector, she did nothing. She acted like a little girl begging for her ‘boyfriend’ to do it ‘for her’ but once those five minutes were over, she was prepared to watch him die. Schwartz’s statement is simple spin and a matter of convenience, It is completely negated by this scene 2 episodes later. Does protecting him in the most-cold blooded way mean standing back and letting him die instead of killing the man who was going to do it? Would this Sarah have killed Longshore or Mauser? I think the answer is no because she wasn’t prepared to kill Shaw to protect him. Where was the Sarah who committed treason twice to protect Chuck? Sarah Walker was fully prepared to let someone blow him apart, destroying the nations greatest asset and the man she was still in love with and did absolutely nothing at the most critical moment. She was weak and subservient and that isn’t the Sarah I know and love.

    One last point in this long essay, atcDave you forgot to mention 2 other times Chuck declares his love for Sarah before this supposed epiphany. He admits it to Roan at the end of Seduction and he even indirectly admits it to Sarah at the end of Lethal Weapon. It was as contrived a situation as virtually all of this season was. It was the most ‘obvious epiphany’ of the entire show. Hell even Jeff knew it already.

    But to end on a positive note at least there was some fun in this episode, something the show had been lacking for a while. It was enough to get me to watch the next week when thank god there was no sign of Shaw. If only that were true beyond that. Too bad we go back to some even more depressing times ahead.

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree Uplink that the lighter tone of this episode made it much easier to enjoy when it first came out. But I do think, at this point, the baggage is too great. I just couldn’t enjoy this episode this time around. It is too bad, I wish the Chuck/Morgan and Buy More stuff was enough to make this episode work. But Zombie Sarah really bothers me here, and the begging scene infuriates me.
      I did leave out some of Chuck’s earlier declarations regarding Sarah (even Marlin, “we can say how we really feel…”) partly because they were longer ago, and I wanted to focus more on the recency of Chuck’s declarations of love. It really comes down to what a mess, what a soap opera season three is.

    • uplink2 says:

      Yea, I think a lot of my initial reaction was “well at least the writers aren’t insulting me this time”. But I agree that this episode loses much of it’s appeal on rewatch, mainly because of the two scenes I mentioned.

      Even hurt, lost, broken Sarah doesn’t beg for anything. She doesn’t capitulate to anyone. The argument that she was bowing to her “boss” fails because wasn’t Beckman her boss when she ordered Sarah to bring Chuck in to be bunkered? Did the real Sarah act like Zombie Sarah even when Chuck’s fate was much less ominous? No she committed treason and went rogue to “protect him because he had done so much for his country and deserved to find his father and get that thing out of his head.” But in this scene she was willing to let him die right before her eyes. Plus it was a case where again everyone was subservient to the idiot Shaw.

      On the FF front I love Chuckfan56’s version of an ending to Beard. Where was this Beckman in the show? I’m so glad it got reposted. It’s something I hope gets a proper ending someday.

      • atcDave says:

        That one is way too dark for my taste.

      • Dave says:

        I’m with atcDave on this. Too dark. But I agree with you that this is the sort of decisive effective Beckman that could have been useful. If you recall my changes in 3W my change was to have Beckman order Sarah to have a relationship with Chuck and have her and Sarah argue about it because Sarah is still mad at Chuck. I still think that scene could have been very funny.

      • uplink2 says:

        See that is the kind of dark redemption story I really like. The darkness is real, honest and deserved based on the situation they are in. It doesn’t feel contrived and manipulative like canon did. It could easily lead to a great story of redemption.

        I can see that you might not like it knowing your tastes but I love it. I actually got into some really good discussions with him prior to his leaving the site and removing all of his material. He offered for me to pick it up if I want to and I just may someday.

      • atcDave says:

        If it does lead to a redemption for Sarah (and Casey too, maybe) it could conceivably be fun. But often the problem with one shots is they leave too much hanging, and leaving it in such a down spot is definitely not for me.

      • Dave says:


        Maybe you should give it a try. I like a lot of chuckfan56’s work. I’d really like to see this one resolved as well as seeing Inevitability of Life continue. Still hadn’t got to the good Shaw stuff yet.

      • uplink2 says:

        See I think the intent was to do a one shot but he acknowledges there are definitely was to continue it. But things came up and they moved on from the site. Not to give anything away and I may never do it as I’ve still got 2 other stories I’m working on and I want to do something other than S3 reduxes but there is so much in what Beckman says there that I agree with completely. Plus before Beckman even arrives Sarah seems to have had a moment of clarity finally. That very thing is worth giving her a chance at redemption I believe. Plus come on, Casey as a high school ROTC leader? How great could that be?

      • atcDave says:

        Although canon is full of good ideas that never went anywhere…

        To me, the problem with the one-shot isn’t that there aren’t some good points made; but that things need to be fixed. It fails the fun test.

    • I know that this comment is really late but.
      I did not like these episodes in early Series 3 and I would have preferred that Fedak / Schwartz had gone in another direction for these epiodes, I have loved some of the ideas that have been posted here and all the stories that have been referenced on I however do not hate them as much as some of you.
      Like Uplink and a couple of others Sarah is my favourite character and she is shown in some of these episodes as being week, subservient and without confidence. My point would be that after what happened to her character that should not be surprising to anyone. We now know that sometime near Vs Beefcake she recognised that she was in love with Chuck. She knows although Chuck never told her up to that point that he was in love with her. Chuck was honest, trustworthy, and dependable he was innocent and a way for her to forget the spy life, and the one thing she knew was that he would never hurt her. Then what happens in pink slip is that he hurts her in a way she has never been hurt before, There was no apology from Chuck at the time, no explanation except he wanted the excitement of the spy life over her. Even When they meet up again in El Bucho he does not apologise for hurting her it is all about becoming a spy. Then we have what he thinks of as his dyeing confession to Sarah in ‘Three words’ that he loves her, that she hears thanks to Carina.
      After this Sarah offers the olive branch of cleaning things up, suggests being friends asks to Chuck to delay going on the mission, Chucks reaction is to say that a special agent with the CIA says I can do it. Then what doe he do later on he gets off with Hannah and even worse rubs it in her face,. (I hate that the writers did that to Chuck) . You mention that the fact that Chuck broke up with Hannah should have given Sarah hope, that would be true if he had said that the reason for dumping Hannah was that he was still in love with Sarah but that was not the reason he gave to Hannah and he did not actually confirm it when Ellie said it to him.
      I hate how they broke them up, Chuck hurting her like that was not in character in my opinion, or his actions after. I do however think Sarah’s actions and the fact is that she is not the same person as she was in the first two seasons is completely believable and in character. You question weather this Sarah would have shot Mauser or Longshore and I must admit to not being sure but I think yes to the former and no to the latter but to be honest she never drew her gun on Longshore in the end either. My last point would be that you state her primary mission was to protect the intersect, my take would be that includes him being taken by the enemy and in that case she has failed, her duty then would have been to prevent his knowledge being used by the enemy and that would have almost certainly meant killing him, she might not have liked it but would she rather give him a quick death or him be subjected to torture? and in the same vein if The ring had him how long would it have taken them to torture Morgan, or indeed find out about Ellie and Awsome.
      Lastly a quick question going back to Fake Name, I am sure that somewhere I read/heard that the plan was to have Sarah and Shaw connect in a more physical way and Ali changed it ,in light of the fact that to make that this was to make Chuck hit bottom and therefore he would have had to see it or at least know about it. The question is which would you have preferred the name reveal or something else even more intimate?

      • atcDave says:

        Well I would have chosen “none of the above”. I just reject the whole arc, its a botch job from the beginning. I almost don’t even care anymore about decisions made within the arc any more, I just flush the whole thing.

  3. Dave says:


    First my alternatives since that’s the point here, then I’ll join the lively discussion above. From my previous summary of alternatives we know that Chuck and Sarah are working together and trying to have a relationship under Shaw’s radar. Sarah told Chuck to dump Hannah and now she is working Shaw to find out his plan. Sarah did blurt out what Chuck thinks is her real name and that has caused him to be unable to flash.

    My method has been to change as little as possible from what we saw. Both because I don’t have the ff author talent of Uplink and others, but also I take a sort of perverse pleasure in pointing out how close we were to actually having something good.

    Having said all that, I’d leave this episode as is except the final scene where Sarah watches Chuck and Morgan playing Duck Hunt. Sarah sneaks out and gets Chuck alone and asks him how he was able to flash again. Chuck just says he convinced himself he loves her. Sarah says something like “why would you have to do that?” then in frustration Chuck says “You told him your name Sarah, or should I say Sam.?” Sarah looks a little shocked then explains that it was not her real name, she made it up. She explains she had to say something. Then she says she has to get back to Castle and leaves Chuck to think that over.

    Added to the changes I previously explained, I think this would have suited almost everyone better for eps 3.01 through 3.09. We have some Buy More hijinks, we have Shaw being a fool and our three mains all remain in character.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m in about the same place as you Dave, I have the imagination for variety and changes, but I lack the skills and patience to write a proper story.

      No doubt that one small change does make a difference! Although I think you need to do something about begging Sarah, in keeping with the very minimal change idea, maybe just if we see her reaching for her gun when Shaw starts to make that last call (and Shaw doesn’t notice). Since Chuck does emerge from the cooler in time there’s no need to worry about what comes next.

      • Dave says:


        I didn’t modify that because Sarah is working Shaw like a mark. I thought it could be her luring him with the promise of later favors. My adjustments later will take this into account. I do see yours and Uplink’s points perhaps she begs Shaw and when he turns away she puts her hand on her gun, just like Marlin, prepared to end him if necessary. The little begging hooks in with later changes, but yeah, hand on gun would work.

      • uplink2 says:

        Guys, I will say this to you both. I never thought I had any skill at any of this and in reality I still don’t think I do but Bdaddydl challenged me to give it a try. I wrote the first chapter of LL&L and sent it to him. It was the basic idea of what I ended up posting but he highlighted things like characterization, painting a picture for the reader to see that helps them engage in the moment. I then decided to write Final Scene as a one shot and posted it never expecting anyone to like it. But surprisingly they did. In fact the response was much better than I ever expected it to be. So I went back and rewrote LL&L ch 1 and posted that and the response was even better. From that point on I got hooked. What I’m trying to say is if you feel inclined give it a shot. Just doing it and watching the hit count rise is a rush. Especially when you get some decent reviews. If it’s crap so what? Besides as long as your love for the characters comes through most folks will like it. Plus there is nothing like those moments when you go from being writer to transcriber and the story just narrates itself in your head. All you have to do is copy it down. The first time that happened was a real rush.

        Also Dave, thanks for the kind words.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave that one camera shot, that one callback to Marlin, would have saved Sarah for me. Showing her reach for her gun would mean that the real Sarah Walker, not this contrived zombie wannabe, was still in there. I would have cheered if that happened. But it couldn’t because then we never get the Catch 22 of Final Exam, Sarah running into the arms of the man that manipulated her into destroying the man she loved, Sarah’s betrayal of Chuck at the beginning of AH and the “big epic reveal of Sarah being Eve Shaw’s killer”. This is one of the most perfect examples of how they sacrificed character for plot. The honest, true and totally in character reaction couldn’t be allowed because they needed zombie Sarah for 3 more episodes. They were still trying to get us to buy into that the Emperor was fully dressed and they needed subservient, pathetic Sarah to sell it.

      • Dave says:


        You’re welcome. I like your ff stuff so well deserved. I am also an engineer (MSIE, Ga Tech) and former professional soldier. I can write the hell out of a doctrinal paper, not sure about fiction.

      • Dave says:


        Don’t worry about Final Exam and AH, I have a plan remembering we don’t really have Zombie Sarah just Sarah looking like Zombie Sarah.

    • authorguy says:

      I dislike making too many changes myself. I do think S3 had a lot of good stuff going for it, but also as a FF writer I don’t believe in changing the story I claim to be a fan of. And as Dave pointed out above, canon had a lot of stuff they never followed up on, so it’s easy to make a story that does that.

      • Dave says:


        I always thought season 3 could have been so, so good if the two or three key spots in each episode (except Pink Slip and Fake Name, they were too far gone) they had added a line of dialogue or just changed how they shot the scene a little. It’s really a shame, they never recovered from the loss of viewers.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Dave I wouldn’t agree with that. First of all the season fails at the initial premise. Pink Slip is so incredibly manipulative and contrived.

        But the biggest reason for failure are the LI’s and Shaw in particular. You can’t create chemistry by shooting a scene differently or adding a line here or there. You can’t make a pairing work if you have to diminish one of the characters to even attempt to sell it. You can’t ‘direct or write’ a stiff and wooden actor to be charming and charismatic. And you can’t keep telling and not showing.

        On paper this season could have been good but writing, execution and casting damaged it but it was doomed by going back to an empty LI well when a very large portion of your audience already had WTWT fatigue. Plus the damage to the Sarah character by that story was huge. To fix season 3 the first thing you do is eliminate the LI’s. Tell the spy story you wanted to tell but the weight of the forced contrived LI drama put all the focus on that one story and it doomed the season.

      • atcDave says:

        I would kind of split the difference here. I agree with both of you.

        As Uplink says, the LIs completely ruined the season and guaranteed I wasn’t going to like the main arc much. But as Dave alludes to, they actually don’t take up a whole lot of screen time. I can easily imagine completely fixing everything I loath about S3 with only minimal changes. Well, except for Pink Slip and Fake Name. Those two have very deep seated problems. But the others, usually just come down to a couple scenes or lines that could have tweaked…. And I might have been a mostly happy camper.
        Or at least happier. As I’ve said, just getting rid of the LIs could have kept me from hating the season. But in order for me to be completely happy would have required Charah together.

      • Dave says:


        I would have never had a pairing of Sarah and Shaw, you are absolutely correct in saying that would never work. In my alternatives we have Sarah working with Chuck under the radar avoiding Shaw this time instead of Beckman. Oh, you could have Shaw make a run at it, but it never should have happened.

        My point was we could have had our nerdy hero overcoming obstacles, resisting temptation and coming out the winner with no LI and you wouldn’t have to change much in most of the episodes. Pink Slip and Fake Name were disasters and need major surgery to work. But the rest could be fixed fairly easily like your hand on gun addition to one scene in the Beard.

        As you say, Pink Slip started at a failed premise and they just aggravated the situation after 3.04. It was as if at each little moment that could have kept our overall heroic nerd story going while saving the secondary love story they chose the most destructive turn to make. They were so close but wound up so far away. As you say, writing and execution doomed this arc and I believe it didn’t have to.

      • Dave says:


        OBTW, I forgot this, as my alternatives show, there would not have been a Chuck/Hannah LI either.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly Dave. There clearly needed to be a training arc for Chuck, and there were some great ideas for things to explore right in the canon story. But it was all eclipsed by the fractured relationship. Even episodes like Beard and Tic Tac where the problems are more in the background, are undermined by letting it fester.

  4. Jason says:

    Sarah begging for Chuck’s life like a school girl hit people much like the living dead scene. I suppose for those who basically liked Shaw and S3, those were great moments in the show, for me those were awful moments.

    I was never a big Morgan fan, this ep felt a little like the Santa Ep from hell in s5, while Sarah and Shaw were together, I can’t get too excited about sweet moment between Morgan and Chuck or anything Big Mike and the Morons do. It isn’t funny when your show is screwing you, and seemingly taking delight in it.

    Unfortunately, this was one of the last eps where Chuck was Morgan’s superior, after this ep, Morgan pretty much became the sage one, and Chuck the goofy sidekick. I think this making Morgan smart, cool, funny, perceptive, all knowing, etc was one of the things that kept hurting the show in s4 and s5.

    Another sad ending, what could the writers possibly have been thinking, to put so many unhappy endings together back to back? Heck, even real drama’s don’t do that, let alone paraody and comedy?

    • atcDave says:

      The number of downbeat endings, and so many in a row, is certainly among my major complaints with the misery arc. I suspect, TPTB and many S3 apologists would say this ending wasn’t downbeat at all, and the episode was just a lot of fun. I believe I have a little more affection Morgan than you do, at least enough to say I enjoyed the Chuck/Morgan relationship in this episode. But I agree it wasn’t nearly enough. From S2 on, I came to define the show heavily (very heavily!) by the Charah relationship FIRST. So apart from a couple of “not horrible” endings (Angel of Death and Operation Awesome), the show was basically a complete downer for me from Pink Slip through Final Exam. I think it’s safe to say TPTB just don’t get viewers like us. And I think they didn’t get that we made up a third or more of the fandom.

      • Dave says:


        It was probably well more than 1/3 of the fandom. It was just that 1/3 packed their bags and left. Fools like you and I hung on in the hopes of improvement. After a while, I just felt I was in the final rush of an assault and just put my head down and kept going. Ultimately, it got better, but man did it hurt to get there.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree about all of that Dave. I strongly suspect it was more like 2/3s, but that’s purely a gut feeling.

  5. SarahSam says:

    You are right in that regard atcDave, TPTB certainly were in a shipper whipper frenzy during this arc. No respect for Charah whatsoever and for me they went too far. As uplink so eloquently laid out, Sarah was pathetic here. Some people laud Shaw for making a “hard” spy decision but as uplink lays out “the squeeze wasn’t worth the juice”. To kill the Intersect and surrounding innocents over some discs when other measures could be taken was treasonous and a convenient way to get rid of your rival. This is one of the many Sarah reactions that killed her for me. I’ve said often, this is one Chuck doesn’t know about but Sarah did. What would Chuck think if he knew Sarah was going to let Shaw blow him up? See, I’ve always thought the S/S intimacy plays a key role in her stupidity. Most people rarely go against the person they’re sleeping with. They made known Sarah’s celibacy because she loved Chuck and just like the name , led us to believe it was important. So she’s having sex again but not with Chuck and she uses phrases like “tell us” and ‘for me”. It’s canon. It’s one of the many reasons I felt they should go there seperate ways….because Sarah knew how she behaved here. It’s also why I never saw the memory loss in an optimistic light. Sure, she gets to fall in love again but she may also recall the moment when she sat idly by to watch Chuck’s destruction…none more prominent than here. What happens to the Sarah Walker with memories out of context when she starts recalling this pathetic behavior? Bill at Work is right ( Hope your recovery is going well Bill) TPTB always wanted it both ways and it was so pathetically disingenuous. Especially for the iconic character Yvonne had created.

    • atcDave says:

      You know there’s a saying about throwing good money after bad…

      I think one thing this arc established is that neither TPTB nor most of the fans were in any mood for more drama and darkness. I think even if it means just jettisoning most of the season it’s time to get back to their strength. And that is fun, upbeat, even heartwarming stories with likable protagonists. I’ll agree a hundred times over that the main arc could have been done differently and better. But when it’s over it’s time to get back to their strength, and not waste any more episodes revisiting the misery. Maybe if they had added a couple of scenes showing Chuck and Sarah coming to grips with how they’d hurt each other. But no more melodrama.

    • uplink2 says:

      Great comments SS. You ask a fantastic question that I’d love for the S3 apologists/TPTB to answer. What WOULD Chuck have thought if he knew that Sarah was going to stand by and do nothing while Shaw made that final call and blew him up in a facility directly under a retail store full of innocent civilians all for the sake of some worthless intel. Disregarding that the intel in Chuck’s brain was worth more than what was in a thousand Castles. Oh that’s right he was her boss so no disobeying orders there. Heaven forbid Sarah Walker would ever disobey an order from her superiors. Oh and that’s right he was her lover so she can just beg like a subservient little girl. I’m surprised she didn’t say “pretty please”. Oh that’s right “I get it. I think everybody get’s it, Shaw is amazing!”

      It’s funny, I used to know a guy back in college and we used to call him “the energy sink”. Whenever he was around the “mood” or “energy” level just dropped by a thousand points. He just drained everything out of a moment and made things so depressing when he was around. He simply dragged down everything and everyone around him. Turns out he was mentally disturbed. That is Daniel Shaw. Everyone and everything becomes so much more depressing when he is around. Great spies turn stupid, strong independent women turn into subservient ghosts of their former selves and no one, not one person ever questioned him or his motives during his entire arc until it was too late. It is just so incredibly sad that a once great show and so many great characters were so damaged by the introduction of one character.

      And SS I have to agree with you, the Chuck of Fake Name and the Sarah of Beard didn’t deserve each other and certainly not DYLM. Chuck at least got a bit of redemption but Sarah never did. Just like with Mauser, they simply swept it under the rug because it was 3.13.

      • Bill says:

        You know, I’ve never been bothered by Sarah’s plea in this episode. One of the benefits of this re-watch is reading other fans’ perspectives, and interestingly, this criticism of Sarah is new to me, and I was following the discussions at ChuckTV pretty closely at this point in the show’s original run.

  6. Jason says:

    I’ve complained that Chuck did not have enough dramatic characters or did not tell enough story to really sell drama. For comparison sake, I invite anyone to watch Nashville’s season ender from last night. I’m guessing at least a half dozen (heck it might have been closer to a dozen) mini drama’s were going on in the hour long final. Of note the lead actresses are from Friday Night Lights and Heroes, and Nashville near copied the Chuck and Sarah engagement scene last night. The scene was not as good, but sure reminded me of Chuck, although I’m not sure this character is going to say yes.

    One review I read complained how the lead male and fan fav (Deacon) character was ruined last night for drama’s sake, I found it funny, as his plight seemed most logical and the reason for it was completely spelled out … I wish our ruined characters reasons were as well written. Sarah’s failure to step up and stop Shaw from excuting Chuck, like most everything else dramatic on Chuck, just went away forever once the ep ended, with no explanation or dialogue on the subject, such that any explanation fans want to give the scene works.

    • uplink2 says:

      Exactly, let’s list the dramatic moments for Sarah that are completely ignored or simply swept under the rug after the fact in this arc.

      1. The surveillance video
      2. Friends
      3. The more than friends hug
      4. Name Reveal
      5. Sarah begging for Chuck’s life
      6. Sarah allowing Shaw to make the call to kill Chuck
      7. Sarah letting herself be manipulated into giving Chuck a Catch 22 with herself as false bait for his Red Test
      8. Sarah running to the guy who manipulated her into “killing” the Chuck she loved
      9. Sarah not trusting Chuck for the first time ever in the series
      10. Sarah being a terrible spy and not noticing Shaw’s wedding ring, never questioning why she got no signal all the way from downtown LA to the desert.
      11. Sarah trusting Shaw over Chuck when it came to finding out she had killed Eve
      12. Sarah being a terrible spy and not realizing Paris was where she killed her till it was almost too late and going with Shaw and no backup
      13 Sarah walking arm in arm with Shaw after telling Chuck she loved him and never breaking up with him.

      I know it is SOP for them but wow.

      • Dave says:


        I agree with all except the last two. Paris is a big city, I’ve been there. She did realize when they got to the same location in Paris and she reacted to it, but, alas, poor spy work she was too late. She was trying to forget that night after all.

        As for the arm in arm thing, they were undercover. They were acting as a couple no doubt and she and Chuck agreed not to clue Shaw to their new status yet.

        However the rest are certainly good. The two most egregious to me are the let’s be friends and then she doesn’t do a single thing after the post mission dinner to indicate that they were even acquaintances, never mind friends until Tic Tac. Second is the run to Shaw after he manipulates her (blech). Too far.

        The name reveal is also really bad, but we know so little about Sarah and they never resolved it so we don’t even know if she really revealed her name. I guess we have to assume that since they dropped it, so maybe three.

      • Dave says:


        I heartily agree with the Zombie Sarah problem. As I said elsewhere, a dud episode is where one of the characters is over the top pathetically idiotic in someway. In season three this is Sarah with both Sarah and Chuck in a couple (Pink Slip and Fake Name).

        I had a notion of what was wrong with Sarah between the end of Mask till the end of Final Exam. I never really explained this since I gave up trying to read between the lines and decided that if they didn’t show it it didn’t happen, hence my belief that there was no Sarah-Shaw romance till the end of Final Exam (which is still ridiculous, by the way).

        First some facts bearing on the issue: Shaw is now in the middle of things, Shaw doesn’t really trust Sarah, Shaw can get Sarah reassigned, Shaw’s training plan for Chuck has him operating as an autonomous agent.

        The problem with Zombie Sarah, in my view is that she is indecisive, lethargic and defers to Shaw not that she is romantically involved. Now try this

        What if right before the “I have a type” scene, Shaw orders Sarah to cut Chuck loose to further his training and if she doesn’t then he’ll reassign her (always her greatest fear). Sarah does her duty hoping Chuck will contradict her. She’s ready to forgive Chuck but now Shaw is mucking up the works. So she is doing what Shaw ordered her to do and in some perverse way what Chuck wants since he wants to be a spy and help people.

        Then she becomes conflicted, worried and unhappy. Doing her duty was never so hard. Zombie Sarah was a conflicted, unhappy person (and that is what Yvonne gave us with her portrayal) caught in a catch 22 of her own.

        Even with this interpretation, the turn to Shaw at the end of Final Exam is still mind-boggling. But alas, our TPTB did not show this. I have always felt that during the creepy backrub scene, the thing Sarah is worried about is the plan to isolate Chuck not some burgeoning romance with Shaw.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I think all of that is completely plausable. Unfortunately, it’s also lousy entertainment. I don’t tune in to watch good characters be destroyed.

        That’s really the biggest problem I have with attempts to explain S3. It misses the point. The show was no fun whether we can make sense of it or not.

      • Dave says:


        True it still leaves us with Zombie Sarah and definitely un-fun entertainment. It does take some of the heat off of Sarah, the character. I came up with this over the Olympic break as I tried to figure out what the hell just happened. This is part of why I went with only what I saw. But as each more depressing episode aired this approach seemed more and more plausible.

        But as you say this was so un-Chuck (the tv show) as to be not good entertainment.

      • Well, that depends on your definition of entertainment. My own involves a lot of character development, as opposed to lots of romance or comedy or what not. That’s the sort of thing i tend to skip, if given a chance. I was alweays annoyed when they’d be in the middle of a mission and suddenly Chuck would suddenly start spouting off about his feelings. Some of the so-called comedy had me going to the kitchen to wait for my teapot to boil.
        What bothers me about this episode is something pretty small. When the Ring guys are taking Chuck and Morgan away to kill them, they take the cuffs off, and then they just sort of stand there causlly, putting them away, and the guy behind Chuck even looks to the side. It was crucially stupid, and utterly implausible. Almost ruins the fight scene for me. Similarly, the scene with Jeff in the lunchroom, just happening to come by to save Casey when he was nowhere near there in the previous scene. That’s the sort of bad storytelling that turns me off.
        Sarah pleading with Shaw is nothing more than praying to an indifferent God (Shaw as the spy world, driven by process over content), knowing your prayer will be ignored but having no other options.

      • atcDave says:

        You’re right about that Dave, but it’s still heartbreaking.

  7. Dave says:

    It’s almost pathetic. Most people are OK with Beard, mostly because it is not AS BAD as what we had been getting, isn’t that a hoot. We had been starved so long, they gave us a hamburger and told us it was tenderloin and we were too hungry to tell the difference.

    Of my 12 “duds”, 6 came from this arc (3.01-3.11). A dud is a show I have no real interest in re-watching. I’ll let them go if I’m doing a marathon or something but that is it. Pink Slip, Nacho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name, Beard and Final exam come from this area. The others are more spread out Sandworm, Nemesis, Beefcake, Lethal weapon, Muuurder and Curse. To become a dud one of the main characters has to be too over the top pathetically idiotic for my tastes. Usually this is Chuck, but in this stretch we get Sarah and as a bonus we get both of them in a couple (Pink Slip and Fake Name).

    There are only 3 I will never watch again (Pink Slip, Mask and Fake Name) no matter what the circumstance, the others were at least watch-able if you’re doing a marathon.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting. I would add Final Exam to those I’ll just never re-watch. But otherwise, I think my list is shorter than yours. The other S3 episodes I don’t care for, and am unlikely to ever re-watch are Three Words, First Class, and Nacho Sampler. Outside of S3; Ex, Beefcake and Curse sum it up. Although I like all of those enough to re-watch when doing a full re-watch. There’s a few others I’m not really nuts about, but none from S4 qualify.
      But mostly I think our themes are pretty similar there. And I’m clearly not happy any time a love triangle is involved… Least favorite trope ever…

      • Dave says:


        The first two LIs for chuck were, to me, OK because they were plausible and believable. Lou was because Sarah had rejected him and Jill happened because they (Sarah, Casey and Beckman) essentially forced him into it and there was history there to support it.

        By Season three they were just so implausible (not to mention somewhat nauseating).

        Break-up was on my list for a long time, but I realized there was some funny stuff in there and Chuck redeemed himself at the end. First go round I was just upset, when I looked again I was sort of OK with it.

        Sarah/Shaw and Chuck/Hannah were just not believable and totally not in character. The bulk of my season 3 duds was because Sarah was indecisive, somewhat idiotic and ineffective not because of Shaw as a love interest but because Sarah let Shaw have some sort of odd power over her with nothing to support the idea.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed. Hence Zombie Sarah. But it wasn’t limited to just her, Shaw seemed to have some sort of power over everyone. It’s why the lack of inclusion of the Sarah and Casey not trusting Shaw scene from First Class was such a mistake. I understand why they did it because any questioning of Shaw’s real intent by anyone in Team B makes the LI story so much more implausible. But the problem was, WE were questioning his motives and for the team not to, made them look like idiots because there was never any justification shown for that trust.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I agree stupidity from Chuck or Sarah is a real show stopper for me, but so are love triangles. Even when I agree they’re understandable (like with Lou) I completely don’t enjoy watching them. They just strike me as a massive waste of time (gee, the star is involved with a guest star, I’m sure this will work out…) and especially on Chuck, Chuck and Sarah together was a huge part of the appeal of the show from the very start, so anything keeping them apart just isn’t what I was tuning in for. Among the “triangle” episodes I’ve later come to enjoy (like “Imported Hard Salami” or “Fat Lady”) it’s still the Chuck/Sarah scenes that make the episode.
        A small number of those episodes (like “Nemesis” and “Break-Up”) I’ve come to appreciate and even like because of how important they seem to be to the show and character development. But then others (“Ex” and “Beefcake”) I will always dislike for that same reason, they reflect poorly on one or both main characters.
        And of course most of all, I completely agree the time for such things was just past by S3. There was no way to have either character pursuing other interests without making them look very bad.

        Uplink I think it’s even more than questioning Shaw’s motives, he just looked like a total idiot from the very start. From having a trainee with he’s never met (with known emotional issues) shoot him, to refusing to let his team and partners back him up (it’s one thing to not like his plan, but to deliberately undermine it in a life and death situation!? That is criminal stupidity, and utterly wrong!), to then declaring Chuck is ready for action and his professional protectors are “what’s wrong with the team”( a team we’d been previously told was the government’s best).
        So the first three actions of Shaw are arrogant and stupid. There’s basically no redeeming the character at that point unless he has a major epiphany. But no, he will continue to be sure of himself for no demonstrable reason. And joining Sarah to him can only make her look like an idiot too. Just a very poorly planned and executed story.

      • Dave says:


        I generally take Truth and Imported Hard Salami as a single unit and they were great (way up on my all time favs list) as well as Ex, Fat Lady and Gravitron as a unit. Fat Lady was fantastic.

        Also, Shaw made dumb moves or maybe the moves of a mole. I think I mentioned before how strongly I felt while watching Mask that they would reveal Shaw as a mole. When they didn’t, I was stunned. I mean everything he’d done up to that time could have easily been seen as acts of a mole, and why was he not affected by the toxin hmmmm. I guess Uplink was right, they were infatuated with “Superman”.

        Anyway his destructive actions continue up to and through Final Exam and Sarah never clues to this? I just couldn’t believe it. OBTW, he tried to kill Chuck himself in this episode. In short, unbelievable.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I agree atcDave. I have some comments about all of that I will post once the new thread goes up.

    • uplink2 says:

      I will agree with you guys on the big 3, Pink Slip, Mask and Fake Name. Even under threat of torture and imminent death I wouldn’t rewatch those 3. In fact DVD 2 of season 3 has never come out of the box and never will.

  8. Bill says:

    I’ve always liked this episode. Its tone is reminiscent of the first two seasons, it does a good job inter-weaving the main plot and the Buy More plot, and Chuck’s big reveal to Morgan is both well-earned and well-executed. Morgan’s excited reaction to the news that his best friend is a spy is one of the better moments of the series if you ask me.

    I have re-watched this episode many times and it never fails to deliver. (My typical re-watch of S3 includes Pink Slip, Three Words, Beard, American Hero, Final Exam, and Other Guy.)

    One negative aspect of this episode: Shaw’s incompetence as a super-spy. Think about it: he gets lured away from his base, he admits at the end of the episode that the Ring had him “dead to rights”, and even though he told the others at the beginning of the episode that he had some intel that the Ring wanted to turn a CIA operative, he doesn’t figure out that HE is that operative. Here again, the conceit that Shaw is a super-spy falls flat on its face.

    One last thing: I noticed on this re-watch that Chuck refers to Team B as a “black ops team”. I don’t think that ever registered with me before now. Is that the first time Chuck refers to his team in that manner?

  9. Dave says:

    I also note since I joined this party, there seem to be 3 or 4 times as many posts in the Alternatives category than there are in the Apologist’s category. Just goes to show the proportion who were not satisfied by this arc as opposed to those who were. It’s good to see that I’m not the only one still mildly obsessed with the show and very upset by the majority of 3.0.

    • atcDave says:

      To be fair, I think the number of commenters is about equal, but we are a chattier group! Hardly surprising, it’s easier to go on about what you don’t like and want to see changed than it is to keep saying “good job!”

      • Jason says:

        Hats off to whoever thought of splitting the two POV’s into seperate pieces. And whoever made the therapy comment is right on. I will say, the ambiguous style of writing makes it easy to impose one’s will on the story, be that will to show support or disgust. Both sides seem to be making eloquent cases … albeit near 180 degrees apart.

      • atcDave says:

        It was born of much bickering.

        I think it was mostly my idea, Ernie wanted the chance to discuss without feeling shouted down. But I thought it was not acceptable for me to just keep quiet for three months, yet I had no desire to read through another round of S3 apologetics. Then I think after some comments from Uplink and others, that I decided since I liked fan fiction from that era better anyway, to make AUs (and wishful thinking!) the focus of my energies.

        I’ve actually had so much fun with this I’m thinking even after the misery arc I’ll keep it a recurring feature and discuss alternates and spin offs occasionally through the rest of the

  10. Thanks for the acknowledgement on “therapy”,Jason!!The only problem is that I enjoy reading both points of view so much I am in danger of developing a “split personality”!!!!.

    • Jason says:

      Yoza – I read it all too, and sort of enjoy it, even if I don’t agree. Again, I think the ambiguity of the season and the show in general, allows for many interpretations to be impossible to prove wrong. Heck, it appeared in interviews that Schwartz and Fedak each interpreted the final scene in s5 on the beach differently. As I said in a different post, that type of writing seems to really appeal to some Chuck fans, I love when the drama has a complete and logical conclusion that pays off the drama the writers develop appropriately, and abhor open ended endings.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m no fan of open endings in general. I can think of a few exceptions, mainly in movies or short stories. But if I invest much more than a couple hours in something I expect a more concrete resolution.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m not really a fan of them but the problem here is that unlike Lost where the writers simply said “This is our ending, deal with it” Schwedak did interview after interview where they basically told us what comes next. Then if you are going to do that, why create the ambiguous ending to begin with? Either write an ambiguous ending and stick with it or show on screen what you are telling us happens next. But they didn’t do that in either case. I think they reacted like they did with season 3 they saw some real negative reaction and tried to run damage control.

      • atcDave says:

        Although I’m glad they did some damage control on that ending. It helps me accept the ending, even if I’m left thinking the telling of it was badly flawed.

  11. Joel says:

    I don’t really agree with the criticism of Sarah pleading for 5 more minutes. Even with her acting out of character at times this season, my feeling is that she was trying to be diplomatic first and would have taken more drastic measures if 5 minutes had run out.

    • Jason says:

      Joel – honestly, I think so too. But … we only can judge what we saw on screen and compared to the Sarah Walker from most of the rest of the show, those moments of ‘diplomacy’ were pretty pathetic, more like Alex Casey or Ellie might be able to muster – LOL!

    • As I recall the 5 minutes did run out and Shaw was about to blow the base when the freezer door opened and Morgan came out. I regard this scenario as the first case of active betrayal of Sarah by Shaw, and the reason she was so willing to betray her duty for Chuck and Casey in Tic Tac. Bear in mind that she wasn’t actually asking Shaw for anything, he is simply a placeholder for the spy world. Only be viewing him as a stand-in for the spy life do his actions make sense, and it’s the sense his actions make that tells Sarah she doesn’t want to be part of the spy life anymore.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s an appealing interpretation Marc, but I wanted, needed, to SEE it. I needed to see Sarah’s revulsion with all things Shaw, and we really never got it (at least not until the back arc, the punch in the head was pretty satisfying). She is still (nominally) with him for most of three more episodes. It is just unacceptable considering what a tool he is. As early as Mask (okay, really Operation Awesome) Shaw looked like a total idiot, Sarah becomes an idiot by association (” who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him”).

        I think the problem is, TPTB never saw Shaw as being as contemptible as many viewers did. So they never saw the need to distance Sarah from him. They actually thought they made some sort of perfect couple. Ewwww.

      • Unfortunately at this point she sees herself as still part of Shaw’s world, and equally worthy of contempt. Her posture during when talking about her Red Test to Shaw does not display any great pride. Chuck saves her from it (the cold-bloodedness of the spy world) in Other Guy, but she doesn’t save herself until Ring 2 with a pipe across Shaw’s skull.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave this goes to a point we were discussing earlier with Ninja. They often used stunt casting as a way to make up for lazy writing. They felt that simply by casting Superman that we would understand what his character was about and they didn’t need to bother to actually write a character for him. He was supposed to be the charismatic, tall, dark, handsome hero who is always right and fights for truth, justice and the American way. The problem is first of all that wasn’t the character Routh played in Superman Returns, he was a cold, distant almost alien version with no ability at human connection, and instead of their comic book version of him what we saw instead was creepy, incompetent, wooden and an incredibly unappealing character played by a weak actor. So for Sarah to have anything to do with him makes her look ridiculous.

        Sarah being associated with Bryce or even Cole fits in many ways. It is completely understandable based on who she is and what we actually saw of them. But being associated with Shaw does the exact opposite. It makes her look weak, pathetic, and diminishes her in such a way that for many she never recovers. As I saw once in a FF review, anyone who let themselves be touched by Shaw will never be worthy of Chuck. Now that may be a bit extreme but it was not an uncommon reaction to that almost series destroying storyline.

      • atcDave says:

        We’ve certainly seen that attitude Uplink. I very much believe in second chances, redemption and forgiveness. For characters and their writers. That may be why I was able to just let it go and enjoy the show again after this arc ended (no doubt some will argue with my definition of “letting it go!” But I never mean a failure is anything but a failure. Second chances means doing BETTER next time!)

        But no doubt Sarah’s contact with Shaw left a stain. One that would have been easier to get past if we’d seen her rejection of Shaw earlier, or at least her thought process at times. They just piled on an intolerable amount of garbage, I cannot “accept it” apart just giving them a mulligan.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, and that is part of the problem. We NEVER saw Sarah reject Shaw. Even when she is telling Chuck “YES” she still trusts Shaw’s statement that he can still work with her rather than Chuck’s opinion that Shaw is an emotional basket case and a threat to Sarah.She never officially breaks up with him, never once even contemplates that Chuck might be right and that the fact she can’t get a cell phone signal all the way from downtown LA might be an indicator that something is amiss. Nor does she notice him wearing his wedding ring for the first time either.

        You know I love redemption stories but they never even attempted to redeem Sarah. Chuck was the hero and Sarah was the prize. Instead they chose to give us the earrings scene and played her disgusting behavior for laughs.

        I’m going to reread Rome Assignment once we get to Final Exam. I haven’t heard back from Fogh so I guess the story will remain unfinished unfortunately. There were only two chapters left and it is a real shame.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m satisfied Sarah had completely rejected Shaw by Subway. And I can live with moving forward I guess the same way Sarah herself seemed to; once she chose Chuck at the end of American Hero, it’s like she never even gave Shaw another thought. It’s a lousy resolution, but at least the misery is over, and for that blessing I’m thankful. As far as fixing it, I would much rather just say they never should have gone there. This was a fun comedy action adventure, that turned way too dark for one arc. As I said the other day, if they weren’t prepared to fix it, they never should have broke it. But to me, the emphasis is on the “never should have broke it” part.

      • Dave says:


        We never saw Sarah actually reject Shaw because Sarah and Chuck decided to wait to tell Shaw about them and then Chuck shot him before it happened. By Subway, I’m pretty sure he gets it.

        If you mean reject him on the professional level as well, well Sarah was only half recovered from her Zombie phase. I just never got how he was supposed to be such a superior spy, hell he screwed up everything.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny Dave how often I’ve seen this on a show where a character is introduced who just is not written like their reputation would seem to suggest. Remember Jean-Luc Picard was supposed to be a great diplomat, well I think we saw that once in a seven year series. I think often writers just don’t really know how to do what they want to do, or they concoct a story that just doesn’t let a supposed strength show. But certainly Shaw was very poorly written for a “great spy”, we just really never saw any evidence of it.

        Where I most wanted to see Sarah reject Shaw was actually during the period when she was supposed to be with him. Multiple times in Fake Name, Beard, Final Exam; Shaw is just offensively bad (AND immoral, but that plays more to Sarah rejecting Chuck for “loosing himself” while embracing the monster who is turning Chuck into a monster) yet Sarah never recognizes his incompetence and wickedness. To be fair to Sarah, I think the writers never recognized his incompetence and wickedness, and of course we were never meant to see it that way. But I can draw no other conclusion; Shaw looks ridiculous, which makes Sarah look ridiculous by default.

      • Jason says:

        Were the writers that bad? Or, since Chuck is supposed to be funny, were they trying to make Shaw’s greatness a parody, a parody gone wrong? I thought Shaw being incompetent was written for humor, again, the writers really liked him, the shooting himself, the fail to steal the mask, the releasing the poison, the desert line, the punching of Rafe, the failure in his honeymoon mission with Sarah, his wanting to execute Chuck, the stake date stuff, all written as parody for comedy. The problem was, the shipper part of the crowd wasn’t in a laughing mood.

        One scene of dialogue in the misery arc probably should have addressed the Sarah rejecting Chuck the spy, but falling in Shaw’s arms. I mean, I can understand why and make up reasons, but the reasons were ambiguous. The problem was, Sarah had nobody to talk to other than Shaw or maybe Carina. Near all the Shaw Sarah discussions came off as near morbid, where Sarah seemed suicidal as much as anything.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I’m sure they thought they were playing for laughs, that’s what Chuck has always done best. The problem was, there was nothing funny about the situation. The situation and humor were very dark, and it completely didn’t go over well for many of us. But THAT, is what I call lousy writing; professionals are expected to reach their audience, not alienate and anger them.

      • Dave says:


        What I wanted to see in Subway when Shaw calls her Sam was for Sarah to laugh in his face and saw something like “Do you really think I told you my real name? You’re nowhere near good enough to deserve that!”. That would have made my month. It also would have been the complete final rejection of Shaw.

      • Dave says:


        I’m with atcDave, if they were playing this for laughs they missed the mark by a huge margin. I think the first time I laughed after the final scenes of Mask was when Chuck was hand-springing down the hall and crashed into the secret barrier. That was funny. I think my only other time was the “naked spy” in final exam. About 200 minutes of unfunny TV.

      • atcDave says:

        I definitely like the idea Sam isn’t her real name. In canon, I see no way they’d ever go there (in a movie I mean); but fan fiction has had some fun with it. No doubt Shaw didn’t deserve to hear it. Ugh, what a wasted opportunity.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with Marc on the time running out. It did happen and that is when Shaw makes the call and Langley actually answers. Casey had just come got back and couldn’t get in so he makes the call. THAT is the point of contention for me even more than the pathetic begging. Shaw was about to issue the self-destruct command and Sarah did nothing. That is where the comment up thread of a shot like in Marlin where she reaches behind her back and puts her hand on her gun ready to drop Shaw if he actually did make the call would have saved her for me. That is what season 1-2 Sarah would have done in a heartbeat and this zombie version of Sarah didn’t. I could accept the begging, though I really hated seeing her do it as weak, subservient Sarah is very disturbing to me, but it’s that moment when she fully accepted that Chuck was going to die at Shaw’s hands and she did nothing about it that really made me hate the character in that moment. In that moment she failed her primary objective of protecting the Intersect at all cost, even her own life, and makes Schwatz’s comment I posted up above completely negated by what we saw on screen.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly with that. I was so disappointed in her when she didn’t even prepare to stop Shaw.

  12. Jason,I agree.As a retired criminal lawyer,a logical conclusion has always been my preference and my forte.Fortunately,somehow I have remained an incurable romantic,so have been able to combine both in accepting and enjoying the final episode…………………I would still however wish for a Chuck movie to definitively conclude the series!!

    • atcDave says:

      Graham I think I also can find a sort of grudging acceptance of the ending; when I break it all down, I can see how the ending was most certainly a good one for Chuck and Sarah. But I wanted to SEE it. I NEED an epilogue, and that’s why I’m eager for a movie.

      • I had an idea for making a video of my S3 song parody, using stills behind the words. I could try the same thing with my epilog. Don’t know if that’d work for you, Dave, but it’s the best I can do.

  13. SarahSam says:

    I never saw any complete rejection of Shaw by Sarah nor do I think TPTB wanted that to be the case. You’re right actDave, it’s like a stain, that reappears everytime he does. From her whispered “Daniel” upon seeing him again on surveilance in Subway, “Daniel” more intimate, not Shaw (the spy who tried to kill me) to “you’re a good man ” appeal after he has brutally beaten and tortured her in Suit. I will give her a pass in Suit because of a desperate situation but the fact that these scenes exist at all is not coincidental to me. They LOVED Shaw. That’s why he got Sarah first. They are quite baffled that we didn’t. I am not a proponent of killing but S5 Sarah had no qualms about finishing Ryker or Quinn, who threatened or destroyed things she loved, before and after the memory loss. If Sarah Walker should kill one person to redeem herself, it should have been Shaw. I was never content with The punches or Ellie finishing him in Suit. Sarah needed to be the one to end him with finality for me. I am one of those who don’t believe Chuck was a “gift” she deserved, not in a sense of optimism. I do however believe they certainly deserve each other in sense of a tragic, destined romance. Especially after S3 damage and the lack of redemption. It is my belief that is why they chose to end the series the way they did. It fits the cycle of reinvention they so loved.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m not quite so pessimistic, but I do completely agree that TPTB were far more enamored of Shaw than most of us were. He was pretty good, not great mind you but pretty good as a villain. But he came with too much baggage. I really wish he’d just stayed dead after Chuck shot him. How about: most wasted resurrection ever!

    • uplink2 says:

      Oh I think Shaw’s return came down to a few things. First he was cheap. Not a whole lot of money to bring him back. Second 6 eps wasn’t enough of a pickup to really do another villain. And finally they thought he made a great villain and the finally figured out how to write him. I will admit that Shaw/Routh are pretty good, not great in Subway. It’s his best episode, though that isn’t saying much. But Santa Suit was just a case of wanting him back. Trying to still justify the character and again he was cheap. But SS you are right Fedak loved him and that is why he couldn’t kill him. Though I agree you never kill off a good villain but if you know this is your final season then why not have Sarah kill him at the end? I can understand Ellie getting a shot at him as she saw him kill her father but Chuck should have run to his dying wife and not his sister.

  14. First Impression says:

    Chuck is too stressed to flash.  Sarah is no help because of Shaw. So if Chuck can’t flash, he’s no good? He’s the one who always came up with the inventive ways to diffuse bad situations. The CIA is a fickle bunch.  

    So Morgan figures out the Ring, the castle, and the CIA. Chuck and Morgan are captured and Chuck spills, then flashes with a great fight scene.  I think I’ll like Morgan being in the know since Chuck seems more like the old Chuck and he admits he loves Sarah.

    • atcDave says:

      Well it sure was a good Morgan episode!

      And maybe now that Chuck has had this revelation for the fourth time he’ll mean it!
      Unfortunately, now Sarah gets be an idiot for a while…

  15. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Beard (3.09) | Chuck This

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