Chuck Versus The Tic Tac (3.10)


If last week’s re-watch reminded us of how much fun this show could be (whilst simultaneously heartwarming – even with the bro-mance) this week reminds us of the stakes at play in Chuck’s new world.  The spy world is built on lies and deception, on questionable and shifting loyalties, and on violence and threats.  While Chuck generally doesn’t dwell on those things other than to present them as real, this episode brings home the true nature of Sarah’s fears for Chuck in a world he isn’t well suited for.  This week the lies and the potential violence are front and center as the spy-world tests Team B like never before.  Join me for another look at Chuck Versus The Tic Tac, after the jump.

Chuck Versus The Tic Tac, the first episode by the highly popular Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc writing team, represents a bit of a watershed.  This is the first episode I really see Chuck and Sarah acting as equal partners.  You missed that?  Me too at first.  Sure there was the vault scene In Chuck Versus The Mask, but there was too much jealousy and bickering over who made the cutest couple for the partnership angle to really emerge, that was just a preview that really entailed a pair of great individual efforts meshing in the nick of time.  This is a full-blown-danger-involved-might-get-shot mission, and Sarah is treating Chuck as an equal, not freaking out or telling him to wait in the car, but letting him contribute and trusting in his abilities.

Why does it happen?  Because in the spy world changes people, the lines of right and wrong get more blurred and gray and you don’t know what to believe in, or who.  But for once this season, about one thing, she and Chuck are on the exact same page as spies.  As rogue spies.  Briefly Sarah sees her Chuck is still there.

A long time ago Casey made a decision, duty over love.  But here’s the thing with decisions like that, you don’t make them one day then move on with your life.  Some choices leave you living the consequences for the rest of your life.  Chuck is starting to learn the consequences, for both himself and Sarah, to the decision he made in Prague.

On a “Trace Cell” mission Chuck witnesses Casey stealing a top-secret item from the 15th level vault they were tasked with breaking into another box, then threatening to kill him if he told anyone.  This is something foreign to Chuck.

Chuck decided to be spy, but the tests keep coming.  Being in the field depends on being able to flash, his loyalty to his friends is constantly tested and now his partners are keeping secrets from him.  Or threatening him… Half his life consists of him having to shut out people he loves and the other half seems to be his partners shutting him out.

The B-plot with Ellie and Devon and their dream jobs is a nice contrast to Chuck’s dilemma when it comes to he and Sarah and seemingly a mirror image of the awesome’s situation.  Chuck’s dissatisfaction with what his dream job has become and what it has cost him, and some unintentionally sage advice to Ellie will come full circle for him by the end of the episode.

Sometimes your dream job isn’t always what you expect it to be.

In the debriefing the apparent context comes to a dejected looking Chuck.  Casey’s behavior makes perfect sense in  a new context.  Chuck is being tested.  Only that could possibly explain why Casey, his friend and team-mate, could steal top-secret items and then lie about it and threaten him when confronted.  Chuck’s mind is instantly at-ease.  Obviously Casey can’t be a traitor, it’s just a test, and the only consequence is if he doesn’t pass.  His relief is palpable, and quite humorous, for a few seconds.  When the other spies start to react, the scene instantly changes to one of the most tense and most dramatic of the series.

Chuck_310_0424.smallMomentarily, Casey tries to warn Chuck there are things he has misread and consequences he doesn’t understand to choices he doesn’t understand and hasn’t yet faced, then Casey has frozen.  He knows he’s caught.  Chuck’s attempted walk-back probably sealed his fate.  Chuck is an unimpeachable witness based on the way he reacted, and his only choice is how to deal with the consequences of being caught… Is he going to face those consequences alone?  Or will the team have to pay for his decision.

Chuck_310_0426.smallFrom the moment Chuck calls Casey out, Sarah recognizes that something serious happened in that vault, she walked in on a situation she didn’t understand, but Chuck’s unwitting accusation spells out the situation for what it is.  She is immediately in full spy-mode.  She’s checking Casey’s warning to Chuck, reading Beckman’s reaction, and Casey’s body language, running scenarios in her head, measuring distance, calculating angles and reaction time (as is Casey), reading Casey for a tell, a sign of how he will react.  Of what he’ll make her do.

Chuck_0310_0425.smallChuck is his usual clueless self at first, so relieved to have a logical reason for Casey’s disturbing return to season 1 form of threatening death.  Then he’s perplexed at what just happened, trying to walk it back as it suddenly starts to hit home what has happened, and what the consequences that are playing out in front of them could be, or  are going to be. how can this be happening?  What have I done?

Awesome scene.  But the tension of this scene is only diminished by the end, not diffused. It will be revisited.

I was hoping you’d say that.

Morgan’s first contribution to Team B, born of his geeky over-enthusiasm of what his newfound knowledge means is funny, yet totally in character.  (From Chuck Versus The First Date.)

Chuck: I’m not, I’m not completely convinced that the Buy More is where I want to work forever, you know.

Morgan: Got it. Where would we work then?

Morgan still needs to work on his spy-craft, but his unintentional save will be forgiven for the conversation it eventually spurs…

Chuck: Three years… three years of missions, training, I’m his friend. How can all of that have been a lie?

Sarah: I don’t know, some people change.  You move forward as a spy and the line between what’s right and wrong becomes more and more gray.  You don’t know what to believe in or who to believe in.

Sarah: I thought you had changed.

Chuck: What do you mean?

Sarah: I know that you want to be the perfect spy, and I know what it means to you and what you’ve sacrificed to get there.  But please don’t lose that guy that I met three years ago.  Don’t give up on the things that make you great.

Chuck: I’ll always be that guy.

For the first time this season Chuck and Sarah are really on the same page professionally.  It is because they share one trait, it’s not about being a spy, it’s about doing the right thing.  A team-mate is more important than being a spy.  Sarah however isn’t quite ready for that conversation Chuck tries to start.

I’ll always be that guy.

Chuck_310_1025.smallSaving Agent Casey isn’t going to be easy, but the Laudinol helps.  It means Casey will come to them, and Sarah’s confidence in Chuck’s judgment (face down Casey, he won’t shoot) and Chuck’s subtle communication with her (don’t shoot) while confronting Casey, all the while encouraging him to come clean with his team are great moments, and nearly every bit as intense as the previous confrontation in Castle (and as Joe will explain, everything happens twice).  But this time Chuck is a spy, a full partner to both Casey and Sarah, and he knows exactly what is going on and what he’s doing.  The difference in outcome is entirely due to Chuck.

Three spies, one mission.  This is another of those great Chuck tableaus (or montage if you prefer, though this is less montagy than previous ones, more tableaux-ish, with basically three more or less real-time set-pieces as opposed to fully intertwined scenes of the three).  Think back to the three making their separate preparations for the mission as early as Chuck Versus The Tango, or later in Chuck Versus The First Date.  Update that style to the missions in episodes like Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer, then, even though Chuck’s missile command skills were essential to the success, with a bit of intersect help, up the ante for Chuck, and get him into the thick of the action.


We see what Chuck could be if he wasn’t so … Chuck.  And we see what the intersect could be if it weren’t in Chuck.

Decisions, Decisions.

Chuck made his decision last episode when he stood up to Shaw that he’d be his kind of spy, not a by the book Bryce or Cole or Shaw clone.  This episode reinforces that.  But the realization of how close he’d come to losing himself earlier with the lies and the way he treated Hannah is reinforced by Sarah’s horror at the emotionless beast strangling a ring agent (and to Sarah looking frighteningly like Casey doing it).  We know it was the pill, and a selfless act, but how often can he face those choices and decisions before he loses himself again.

Casey made a seemingly selfless choice to serve his country rather than love.  In the end he couldn’t sustain that choice, couldn’t sacrifice his love for his country, and in seemingly serving his country and saving his love he sees the consequences of his decision to another.  He had a family, and his sacrifice was forced on them too.  And in the end it seems Casey is left with nothing, starting over in a world he’d turned his back on after a lifetime of sacrifice and service.

Ellie: It’s this, uh, it’s this Doctors Without Borders thing.  I think Devon really wants to do it.  And I do, too.  So I think I’m going to do it, Chuck.

Chuck: Yeah?

Ellie: Yeah.

Chuck: USC neurology, that’s kind of been your dream ever since you were a kid, El.

Ellie: I know, I know.  But dreams change.  And if there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that I want to be with Devon. And it might require some sacrifice from both of us, but he’s the best choice I ever made.

Chuck and Sarah each made some decisions at the beginning of this season, and they’re being slowly forced to revisit them, both their own and the other’s.  Sarah chose to be with Chuck, but didn’t understand what that would mean to either of them.  Chuck chose to follow through and become a spy, unaware of what that might mean for either of them.  Neither was ready for so momentous a decision, both had their hands forced, so much of this season has been looking at why neither was ready and what their decisions, both the ones they made and the ones they didn’t may have cost.  Both seem to see the only way out as through.  Devon and Ellie decided to be together, and together they’re figuring out the type of life they want rather than how they each can fit into the life the other has or fit the other into theirs.  It seems Chuck is now seeing that there may be a way through other than what he’s contemplated so far, and maybe Sarah was worth giving up his dreams for if he could find a new one with her.  Time will tell (approximately 3-4 weeks) if these crazy kids ever figure this out.

We end this episode with a reminder that Chuck still is that guy.  He’s there for his partner, emotionally.  Just not the one we wanted him to be there for.  She’s off in DC considering a different future for herself and for Chuck.  He may still be that guy, but that guy still can be overwhelmed by his spy-life, and whether he’ll remain that guy is an open question to Sarah.

It isn’t to Chuck.  He’s decided, he’ll be that guy and a spy.  Next week he’ll be put to the test and have to prove it.

~ Ernie


Chuck vs. Tony

Did you see this episode? For the second week in a row, if you haven’t, I’m going to walk up to you, grab you by the lapels and shout Do it Do it! DO IT!!! It’s that good.

Stanley Fitzroy

Stanley Fitzroy

But, of course, you did. You rejoiced at the return of Beckman (and the absence of Shaw, right?) and despite the lack of Buy Morons, you laughed at the all-too-brief appearance of Stanley Fitzroy (Greg Roman), this season’s incarnation of Scooter. And you noticed the subtle invocations of previous episodes, right? Like Fitzroy mentioning Chuck’s work in Nacho Platter and the statement that this week’s nemesis, Col. James Keller (Robert Patrick, who also played Col. Merton Bell on NCIS), was the one who turned Casey’s former Sensei. Those are gems.

The adventure culminates in one of the best dual-action scenes we’ve seen, with Casey handling his end of the problem, Keller and five guards, with Sarah’s help and Chuck handling his end against (I count) six, with the Intersect’s help (and oh yes, a little help from his friend, as Ringo once put it). One scene in particular caused me to cheer at the way Chuck and Sarah are interacting.

I was hoping you'd say that.

I was hoping you’d say that.

Chuck: [about Casey] Okay, we gotta break him out before then and clear his name.
Sarah: If we do this and get caught, we’re gonna be tried for treason. You’re gonna lose everything and never get a chance to be a real spy. [Pause] Is that what you want?
Chuck: It’s Casey.
Sarah: I was hoping you would say that.

I love it when those two are risking everything, and Chuck is acting exactly like the guy with whom Sarah fell in love. You can see it in her eyes. Now look again, because in this episode everything important happens twice.

But let me digress, please. One of the best series ever seen on TV was HBO’s The Sopranos and I highly recommend it to all adults who see these pixels. It came to mind when we saw Tony Sirico (who played Matty) and Louis Lombardi (who played Scotty) in Fake Name – they first came to my attention in that series. Now I’m haunted by the similarities that occur in the dark places.

Here’s the obvious one. Tony Soprano has two families; his wife and his two teenage children are the first, and his Mafia family the second, just like Chuck has his family (Ellie, Devon and Morgan) and then has his CIA family. But there are more subtle similarities.

Time after time we see Tony struggling to solve whatever problem presents itself by, first and foremost, making sure that one doesn’t impact the other. Most often he fails and victory is only measured by the fact that neither is totally destroyed by the actions he decides to take. As Tony puts it, “Ev’ry liddle ding affects ev’ry odder liddle ding.” Even after six full seasons, there’s no escaping the consequences of a decision Tony makes in the very first episode. More importantly, Tony constantly has to weigh every decision he makes against the possible consequences to each of his families. They are often dire when he’s careless and most dramatic those times his hand is forced. The struggle causes Tony to abuse Prozac to the point where he starts to hallucinate.

The amazing triumph of The Sopranos and the astonishing wonder of it all, is that viewers actually come to see Tony as a character they like. Given his circumstances, he seems to actually try to do the right thing. Yeah, if you’ve seen the show you know that it’s creator, David Chase, also makes sure that you realize Tony is not a “good guy” – in fact, he’s a murdering SOB who cheats on his wife and has no problem preying on and stealing from his friends. You don’t come away wanting to emulate him. But Tony does struggle with doing the right thing for his two families exactly the way Chuck does, even when he has to decide between awful alternatives. Despite yourself you can empathize with the character.



Here in Tic Tac Chuck is trapped. His decision is forced the same way Tony’s decisions often are, and it causes him to turn to Laudanol the way Tony turns to Prozac – it’s a way to feel nothing and do what has to be done. The consequences reverberate for many episodes. Ernie turned to the same line that caught my attention when I considered the consequences for Sarah:

Sarah: I don’t know. Some people change. You move forward as a spy and the line between what’s right and wrong becomes more and more gray. You don’t know what to believe in or who to believe in.

Sarah wants desperately to believe in Chuck. Time and again she’s given Chuck the chance to show that he’s different from every spy she’s known.

Sarah: I know that you want to be the perfect spy, and I know what it means to you and what you’ve sacrificed to get there. But please don’t lose that guy that I met three years ago. Don’t give up on the things that make you great.

Fans were so upset with S3 at this point and kept complaining that the problem was the LIs and the WT/WT and all the distractions and detours needlessly taken by Chuck and Sarah. But that’s not it for me. Sarah wants to believe in Chuck. Here it slaps me in the face that Chuck keeps letting Sarah down despite all the chances she’s given him.

Sarah knows it’s the drug. She knows it’s not the way Chuck is. Yet, much like Tony, Chuck find himself unable to swim against this particular tide that fate has put him in. Chuck is fighting to be not like Tony, but Sarah is not sure he’s succeeding.

There is one very important episode of The Sopranos called Two Tonys. It’s an amazing play on words – One of the two Tonys is his cousin who has the same first name (a very intelligent and good man who could easily switched places with the our Tony). The other is the bear that comes sauntering dangerously close to his wife and child. The bear, a metaphor for Tony Soprano, is not intentionally malicious. He’s just dangerous because he’s big and clumsy, not because he’s mean or evil.

But another one of the two Tonys in the title is the other side of his nature, the one that comes out when Tony is trapped. Have no doubt, that side of him is a monster and it’s the same creature that Sarah fears she sees in Chuck. Could there be, somewhere deep inside Chuck, a monster that will come out when it has to? In the spy world, Sarah knows more than anyone, if it’s there it will have to. It’s inevitable.

Casey ends Col. Keller

Casey ends Col. Keller

Everything important happens twice. Did you remember that Casey kills Keller by hoisting him up one-handed by the neck? I only remembered Chuck, under the influence of the drug, doing that to the Ring Agent. Did you remember that Sarah almost shot Casey – twice? Not only did she do that in Castle when Chuck inadvertently spilled the beans to Beckman, but she almost shot her friend and partner in the back in his own apartment as Casey was threatening Chuck.

It's in his eyes too.

It’s in his eyes too.

It’s not the drug and it’s not something inside Chuck that makes these awful decisions seem so inevitable to her – Sarah’s not blaming Chuck. She knows it’s the life they’re in and she’s subject to those awful decisions too. It’s the life of which Chuck wants to be a part. There is no getting around it – as far as she’s concerned, it’s not possible for him to be a spy and to be her Chuck at the same time. It may not possible for Sarah to be a spy and have the life she wants at the same time either. She feels as trapped by her decisions as Chuck when he decides to take the drug that will let him feel nothing and understands – because before Chuck, she too has wanted to feel nothing.

Kathleen - Casey's past.

Kathleen – Casey’s past.

For six (and a half) seasons, Tony is both the god-like master of his fate and a victim of the decisions he makes. Ellie and Devon have to make a big decision – Ellie decides she wants to be with Devon and Devon decides he wants to be with Ellie despite their dreams and desires for anything else. Casey decided 19 years ago to answer a higher calling – to serve his country – and leave Kathleen (and his old life as Alex Coburn) behind; a starkly different answer. For all of them it was the right thing to do.

Look into her eyes again

Look into her eyes again

Sarah is facing a decision; D.C. or Burbank, Shaw or Chuck. One is soul-numbing, the other as painful as watching a loved one die. And Chuck?

It’s not the same for him. Chuck is not choosing anymore between the spy life and “real” life – he’s already chosen the spy life. He’s not even deciding between the spy life and Sarah. He might lose her either way, so that’s no decision and Chuck has no choice there. All he’s decided to do is to not change. All he can do is keep on swimming in these waters until he can’t see land.

But we’ve already seen ahead and know that Chuck is going to keep looking for answers. That makes him unlike Tony Soprano. Sarah knew it before we did – that’s what makes Chuck great.

– joe


Addendum:  Often images are inserted into these posts for visual appeal and to highlight certain aspects of a scene under discussion.  They come from a variety of sources.  Many are home-made, but they are often grabbed from various sources on the internet.  In nearly all cases, at least in my case they are manipulated and re-framed or re-sized for a variety of reasons having to do with re-framing the scene or zooming in to highlight one aspect or character, or even for esthetic reasons to do with formatting and layout.

Because of this, one of our greatest resources for screen-caps, has often gone unacknowledged when their watermark has not survived the editing process.  Too often I’ve failed to correct that by acknowledging and thanking them for continuing to host such a valuable resource for the fans.  I mention this now because while finishing this post, away for the holiday weekend and away from my vast collection of Chuck material on my desktop, I have relied solely on images taken from for my part of this post.  I want to thank them for the availability of the screen-caps and apologize for past instances where I may have overlooked such acknowledgement.

~ Ernie


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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20 Responses to Chuck Versus The Tic Tac (3.10)

  1. resaw says:

    So much to say! This was a great episode, and gentlemen, you did a very fine job in your comments above. I’m confident that my comments will not rise to your level of coherence.

    First, what the heck is a “trace cell” mission? Is it borrowed from a computer game with 15 levels of difficulty? It was fun anyway, and poor Stanley Fitzroy was certainly funny: betrayed by his hero Agent Carmichael, and knocked out by a single punch from Agent Walker.

    Morgan is top-notch in his scenes, too. To Chuck at the beginning, “I thought you were KGB or maybe a Ninja.” He’s deep into the spy mythology, but at least a little off on his spy history, I’d say. He and Devon are also “awesome” in their conversation, both the mutual discovery that each knows Chuck is a spy plus the hilarious garbling of Médecins Sans Frontières (had to look up the precise spelling of that one!). Finally, Morgan proposes a two code names that to me sound like diametrical opposites, “like Condor or Ladyfingers.”

    I totally endorse the importance of the Chuck and Sarah quotations you pull out from the story: the discussion about committing treason in order to save Casey and the follow up where Sarah encourages Chuck to retain the things that make him great.

    The other great scene is one you also mentioned, the one between Chuck and Ellie, where she acknowledges that the relationship between her and Devon may require some sacrifice. By the way, I see that the word “sacrifice” shows up quote often in the comments above.

    Arrghh, one more great scene where Casey says to Chuck: “Walker’s a good woman. It’s still not too late.” This last statement has me wondering. Casey was often quick to mess with Chuck and Sarah about the emotional realities underneath their cover relationship. Is this the first time that we have him endorsing and supporting the reality?

    Ernie, I like the observation about Sarah seeing Chuck, and working with Chuck as an equal. Your comment, “Sure there was the vault scene In Chuck Versus The Mask, but there was too much jealousy and bickering over who made the cutest couple…” prompted my internal response of, “yes and that was just the fan base!” I think you’ve made the case before, but what I take from your observation is that in order for Chuck to mature as a human being, some sort of dark period was a necessary rite of passage. He needed a catalyst to grow up. I suppose many season 3 haters would argue that it didn’t need to be the sort of dark period we got, but for my part I found it a fascinating journey, well worth watching.

    In the conversation in Castle, where Chuck declares, “I’ll always be that guy,” Sarah cuts off something that Chuck was about to say, which I suspect has entirely to do with their relationship. My question, then, gentlemen, is this an instance where, after Sarah says what she needs to say, the task at hand interrupts any further conversation, or are we to interpret this as Sarah not being prepared to get into a conversation about who they are to each other? I think you are suggesting the latter, Ernie, but we know how famous this show is for having events interrupt important moments in their lives.

    Joe, you make the thought-provoking observation that “Sarah wants to believe in Chuck. Here it slaps me in the face that Chuck keeps letting Sarah down despite all the chance’s she’s given him.” How many chances has she given Chuck, though? However, when I see the conversations that these two are having: choosing friendship for Casey over loyalty to country, Sarah seeing that Chuck hasn’t actually changed and Chuck declaring that he has not changed, why is she not giving him the chance now? Why did she go off to D.C? To my mind the conversation with Chuck in Castle was a refutation, a recanting, if you will, of what she had said about Chuck to Shaw in his hotel suite in Fake Name. I don’t get it.

    Probably wrote too much, but chalk it up to a deep appreciation for the thoughtfulness of your writing, guys. Thanks again.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Resaw, thanks for your long and thoughtful reply. There is a lot to think about and I may not get to all of it for a while (a lot of driving tomorrow), but a few things stuck out at me, and they are kind of related.

      My question, then, gentlemen, is this an instance where, after Sarah says what she needs to say, the task at hand interrupts any further conversation, or are we to interpret this as Sarah not being prepared to get into a conversation about who they are to each other? I think you are suggesting the latter, Ernie, but we know how famous this show is for having events interrupt important moments in their lives.

      I am suggesting the later, but recognize the presence of the first. The task at hand is important, it is their chance to save Casey and avoid prison for themselves, but it is Sarah who interrupts, not the task. It may be partly because she know this isn’t a conversation that can be had quickly with a mission hanging over them, or that it isn’t likely to leave Chuck in a mindset where he can flash or even be “on mission”. Or it could be because Chuck still being “her Chuck” brings up too many uncomfortable questions and feelings. As we will see next episode, Sarah is virtually defenseless when Chuck turns on the charm and sincerity in the stake-date, and Chuck has a history of posing a question in one episode (why does Sarah cut Chuck off?) and answering it in the next (because she’s defenseless if she’s alone with him).

      However, when I see the conversations that these two are having: choosing friendship for Casey over loyalty to country, Sarah seeing that Chuck hasn’t actually changed and Chuck declaring that he has not changed, why is she not giving him the chance now? Why did she go off to D.C? To my mind the conversation with Chuck in Castle was a refutation, a recanting, if you will, of what she had said about Chuck to Shaw in his hotel suite in Fake Name. I don’t get it.

      I think a part of Sarah, or maybe all of Sarah, is very conflicted about trusting Chuck. He was the one man she opened her heart to (or as open as Sarah can be at this point) and he let her down. She later learned it wasn’t because he didn’t love her, but it still stings, and he still, despite her attempts to convince herself otherwise still loves him, even as she see’s him change, and that is the worst part for her. She can’t stop loving him, even as he re-traces her path into the spy world and gives up or suppresses the little pieces of himself she also lost along the way, and somewhere in the back of her mind, that part of Sarah that hates who she was before Chuck, and hates what Chuck has done because of her is asking “how can I love a person like that (like me)? Such a person doesn’t deserve love.”

      Like I said, I’ll try to come back and flesh some of this out and answer some more later, but it is past my bed-time.

      • Ernie,I agree with your above post about the how conflicted Sarah really is,but for the first in this series, they are acting like partners professionally! But personally, Sarah has lost a peice of herself along the way before she became a spy and/or met Chuck and she hates herself for it.

        Remember, Sarah was a Con artist! She lied,steal,manipulated,and decive just like spies do. the only thing Con artist don’t do is kill.

    • joe says:

      Great comment, Resaw.

      Before I get to your specific question, I have to point out how important your observation is:

      Casey was often quick to mess with Chuck and Sarah about the emotional realities underneath their cover relationship. Is this the first time that we have him endorsing and supporting the reality?

      I’m not sure it’s the first time, though I can’t swear it isn’t. But Casey throughout is the voice of reality. It’s really true, when he says it, that Chuck is a nerd, Chuck is a loser, that Chuck dumped Sarah, that Sarah dumped the lemon… it’s always the truth. But it’s also never final. It’s like he’s the voice in (mostly) Chuck’s head that tells us what he’s thinking when he’s got the most self-doubt. I think that makes Casey the equivalent of a Greek chorus!

      I have a weird sense about the chances that Sarah’s been giving Chuck. It’s not that you can count them (mathematically, an ordinal set), but a continual thing (like the infinity of rational and irrational numbers between 0 and 1).

      Chuck’s already proven himself many times, and Sarah is already is love with him, but that’s not enough. We and Chuck have known it since Bryce spelled it out for him that it’s both dangerous and impossible for them to have a relationship. Yet, every time someone points out to Chuck that it’s impossible, he finds a way to make it happen.

      But this is different. This time, in Tic Tac, Chuck’s just been told that it’s impossible to be a spy and still be who he is. Looking ahead, it’s going to get worse. It’s a kind of existential crises, you know. Pretty subtle and profound for a mere TV show.

      • “I think that makes Casey the equivalent of a Greek chorus!” That’s his main job on the show, he’s certainly not all that great at fighting. I used the character that way quite often in my writing. Especially in S3, when they had so little time to do so much, Casey’s little punctuations were critical to enhancing audience insight into what was going on. That may be why he was so popular this season in spite of his lack of dialog, even though so many viewers still didn’t seem to get it..

    • joe says:

      Oops. Forgot to address this:

      My question, then, gentlemen, is this an instance where, after Sarah says what she needs to say, the task at hand interrupts any further conversation, or are we to interpret this as Sarah not being prepared to get into a conversation about who they are to each other?

      My take is that, yes, Sarah was interrupted. But yes, it’s much more important to realize that she’s not ready for the answer yet. Something drastic has to happen to Sarah that hasn’t happened yet.

      Of course, that means the real reason is that the audience isn’t ready for the conversation about who they are to each other. Or TPTB want to raise the drama level a bit more. Right? 😉

  2. resaw says:

    I appreciate your replies, guys. Yes, these episodes are very much about the growth of our protagonists. And after being so bitterly disappointed by Chuck at the top of the season, it is going to take a lot for Sarah to move beyond love to trust. Ernie, I really like the way you describe Sarah as “defenceless” against Chuck. Do you think that’s one of the reasons why she is looking toward Shaw, too? That is, with Shaw, Sarah is able to retain a degree of control because Shaw is a person she can understand?

    Joe, I think you got it right when you wrote, “It’s a kind of existential crises, you know. Pretty subtle and profound for a mere TV show.” For a mere TV show, it has given me a lot to think about; well, maybe more accurately, it has given you and Ernie and other principals of this blog a lot to think, and write, about, and has thus encouraged me to do some thinking of my own. Thanks again.

    It puzzles me that the re-watches of these episodes are not drawing more comments from your readers….

    • This particular episode doesn’t generate too many conflicts, maybe? I’ve noticed that both of these rewatch threads get fewer replies now that we aren’t sniping at each other, we basically say what we need to say and then stop.
      I have a couple of reasons for disliking the episode, though. The first is relatively minor, that I could have wished for more of the traps to be shown. As it is looks cheap to do one corridor.
      The other is very important. Casey just seems to roll over and die in this episode. They threaten his girlfriend so he commits treason. He doesn’t try to alert anybody. He doesn’t go to the best team in the country for help? The whole thing was just a setup. He gets dismissed, so he has to murder the mole, so Chuck can’t tell Sarah the truth, so she thinks he’s changed. Very by the numbers and manipulative.

      • resaw says:

        Hey Marc, I understand your second reason for disliking this episode, but it just doesn’t bother me. Maybe because I’m not much of a writer, I don’t see or look for alternative story lines; I just take what is given and try to appreciate it and maybe even learn something from the story. Maybe one could suggest that when it comes to his former fiancé, and Keller for that matter, Casey has a blind spot. Remember that in Fake Name(?) he was very upset when Chuck asked him about the name “Alex Coburn”? He clearly wanted to keep that part of his life absolutely separate from his current life. That fundamental imperative forced him to try to resolve the matter on his own. It’s only when Chuck and Sarah finally catch up with him that the team is reunited and they can competently deal with taking down Keller and rescuing Kathleen.

    • Robert says:

      Resaw, they have more comments because they are mutually cranking each other with their over-emotional responses.

      That’s one reason why I prefer reading this section of the rewatch; because we can have a thoughtful discussion about the episode.

      I’m rediscovering season 3.0, honestly. Of course, it will never be my favorite, but, now that I know that Chuck and Sarah are together, I can see that I overlooked a lot of interesting things and reaction from both Chuck and Sarah because I was so pissed off when it aired the first time!

      Thank you, guys! 😃

      • joe says:

        I’m glad you’re seeing it in those terms, Robert. Frankly, I’m surprised myself that there’s so much I’m getting out of it at this late date.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It’s what makes writing it worth it. Thank you.

      • They enjoy it, i think. Certainly when you try to point out that their misery is completely self-inflicted they’ll bravely fight you off.
        I see the importance of S3, but like you, it will never be my favorite. It’s enough for me to know it’s there.

  3. resaw says:

    Oops, in the case of Kathleen, I guess the proper spelling concerning her relationship to Alex Coburn was that she was his fiancée, and he was her fiancé. So much for my knowledge of French…. Nevertheless, I will not renounce my Canadian citizenship.

    Hey, Robert, to tell you the truth, after glancing at a couple of the season 3 alternate commentaries on occasion, I’ve decided I’m just going to stick with this side of the discussion. Although there is not as much here, I really appreciate the thoughtful reflections of Ernie and Joe… and Faith, when she chimes in, too.

    • Not as much what? Comments that tell each other how right they are for being unhappy? Pass. We may get fewer responses in this thread but they’re more thoughtful and insightful than the rehashed rehash over there.
      Once I’m done with nine2five you can bet I’ll rewatch S3 with these threads in front of me. I had to rewatch some of the episodes for research purposes before this, but i’m not watching them again, for fear of screwwing up my own storytelling. You guys see more than I have seen, or things that I don’t care so much about, like the music. Gross Pointe Blank is a movie where knowing the lyrics to the songs entirely narrates the story (they included them in the DVD subtitles), but I don’t know the lyrics here. It would be better if they’d included them in the DVDs, if they’re that important to understanding the story.

  4. Joel says:

    So I’m not really stickler for the mythology, but here’s something that bugs me a bit: Alex Coburn doesn’t become John Casey until 1989. Isn’t this in contradiction with the Casey/Costa Gravas/Premier Goya story in the 80s, or am I missing something? You can massage it by saying Chuck got his history wrong when he says “It was the 80s!” but that’s probably not what they intended.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Chuck has always played it rather loose with some of the back-story. Casey also started out (theoretically, he could have been lying to Chuck) presumably as an Air Force pilot since he claimed to have flown stealth fighters before he became a Marine sniper.

      My standard is that if they don’t sweat it I probably shouldn’t. It’s The Rule of Cool.

      • mr2686 says:

        I agree about that standard. It’s TV and a show like this is supposed to be fun. It’s enough for me to know that certain characters did this or that, not in what order they really were.
        Also, I must say it’s a refreshing change to hear all the people that actually liked (doesn’t have to be your favorite) episodes in season 3. I’ve said all along that there was a lot more to the character developement in season 3 than people were giving it credit for. I think in all seasons Chuck takes a few steps backwards before going forward again and it still baffles me how people still (after knowing the eventual outcome) can harbor such a grudge to this season and TPTB.
        Anyway, great analysis gang, and it’s inspired me to start a rewatch from the beginning this week. I’ve been power watching for two days and should be caught up to you in a few days. As for right now, Go Cougars!

  5. Morning Chuck Fans! just a reminder! Read my part 2 blog on Chuck s3 What Was It Really All About begining with the “Beard”

  6. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Tic Tac (3.10) | Chuck This

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