Season Three Alternatives: The Tic Tac

I know for me, The Tic Tac was easily the best episode from this part of the show.  In fact, I’d say apart from the Awesome Arc this is the best episode until Other Guy. In theory its a “Casey-centric” episode; but even more importantly, there’s no Shaw.  So we get some of the team dynamic that many of us first loved about this show so much.  We will see a lot of Chuck and Sarah working together, even having fun together for a while.  And Casey in his usual “big brother” sort of role.  Only a few lines that reference the greater context at this point in time really drag down the episode.

Not surprisingly for such a fun episode, there may be less here that we feel a pressing need to re-write, and fan fiction is pretty quiet about this one.  After the jump, we’ll see what we can say about Chuck vs The Tic Tac. 

As you all likely know, this was the only “misery arc” episode I showed when doing an S3 marathon with friends a couple weeks back.  One friend mentioned, just from the three S3 episodes we’d seen at this point, that this season did have a much more down and depressing vibe to it than what they’d seen before.  Now admittedly, that’s hardly a scientific finding, and they were likely looking for reasons why I was less enthused about this season.  But I found it interesting what they’d picked up on, from watching the three episodes I actually liked best.  

The Tic Tac does have a sort of melancholy feel to it.  Largely because of the Chuck/Sarah interplay and how so much seems to be about what’s changed, and what’s been lost between them.  Even when they’re having fun with Fitzroy or planning how to rescue Casey it seems clear something has been very wrong with this season.  The team interactions can be such a source of fun and warmth.  This is the show I want to see, the show I fought to save, and the show that’s been missing since the end of S2 (except for the Awesome Arc).  The references to Sarah’s coming trip and possible relocation to Washington serve as a reminder that all is not well yet, while the rest of the episode is a good reminder that what’s great about Chuck isn’t gone, its just in hiding.

I think the real highlights here are Chuck and Sarah deciding to rescue Casey in the first place, in spite of what it might cost Chuck;  their return visit to the holding facility and interactions with Fitzroy; and Sarah telling Chuck exactly what she’s most worried about.  Add in some awesome action sequences (Sarah having Casey’s back, and Chuck protecting Kathleen) and this is classic Chuck.  Oh and Casey has a daughter…   Hmmm,  will that ever come up again?

The other slightly troubling note to me is the Laudanol story.  I’m not nuts about the idea suppressing emotion would also suppress morality?!  Spock would not be pleased.  I think perhaps what they were getting at was a sort of Intersect Zombie story.  That is, Chuck suppressing his emotions would let him completely surrender to the Intersect.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really care for such stories.  Although I do like the idea Sarah can still get through to him; but I would have liked it so much better she’d seen this as proof that they still need each other, instead of the “he’s changing” idea the writers were clearly leaning towards.

Moving on to what I would have liked to see different; I think this episode has only a little need of change for either a long or short fix.  Obviously, I would prefer Sarah wasn’t even considering moving.  But I could imagine this being an issue even if all is well between them as a couple.  People struggle with job separations ever day.  Even with Charah in a good place I could imagine there being a big issue here of if Chuck was going to be a solo operator once done with his training, or if they would find a way to keep the team intact.  Young couples deal with similar issues all the time, I would have loved to see this as a first real test of their relationship; that is, how are they going to overcome the forces that are trying to separate them.  Even better if we already know Shaw is trying to destroy the team.  Perhaps a big outcome of this mission is gaining Beckman as an ally for keeping them all together because they obviously work best together.

Turning to fan fiction, this episode has seen little of the fix/alternate sort of treatment that other episodes have received.  Being such a strong episode episode a midst so much tripe it doesn’t seem to serve as the inspiration for change that many others do.  The Tic Tac has been referenced many times in longer AUs, especially Col. Keller and the idea of Casey being removed from service for treason.  But the only episode specific treatment I’ve really seen comes once again from KateMcK; and uniquely, this episode gets two separate alternates.  The first is known as “The Monday Version“.  I believe the title is simply reference to Kate first publishing this story on something than her normal day to post.  And it is mostly for laughs.  We find Chuck still stoned on the Laudanol, and Sarah, slightly drunk, deciding to pay him a visit instead of running off to DC.  This piece is all dialogue, and another example of how much help even a largely incoherent discussion might have been.

But the main event is in the following chapter.  This is one of Kate’s signature fixes, with small changes along the way leading to a far more appealing conclusion.  Once again the Laudanol plays a key role, but this time the lessons learned has more to do with what the Intersect is really capable of, and exactly how much Chuck needs his team.  That means Sarah.  Once again, Kate is fighting against a ton of baggage accumulated from canon.  But at least this fix spares us the outrage of Final Exam coming next week.  And this story is plenty appealing on its own merits.

This was another short(er) write up for this series.  That’s one happy consequence of a better episode.  But no doubt we’ll still find plenty to talk about.  I look forward to everyone’s input as always.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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152 Responses to Season Three Alternatives: The Tic Tac

  1. uplink2 says:

    Tic Tac is a really important episode in many ways, but to me most are not what the writers were intending. I decided to actually rewatch this and just finished in time for this posting. There are a number of observations I’d like to make and I agree this episode is possibly the best episode of the misery arc.

    First I have to mention something someone said to me the other day.

    Tic Tac makes one thing abundantly clear. The Shaw character was, in effect, killing the show. There can be no doubt of that after this ep.

    I can’t agree more. The lack of Shaw in this episode at such a critical point shows exactly why his character was in many ways a show destroyer. The lack of Shaw allows Sarah to actually be a great spy again. The Sarah of this episode is in stark contrast to the Zombie Sarah of last episode. When she realizes that her partner of the last almost 3 years may in fact have committed treason she immediately goes for her gun and takes aim at Casey. She acts like a great spy would. Even though she is very conflicted she acts appropriately and does her duty. Where was that Sarah last week when Shaw, someone who didn’t deserve any of the trust that her years with Casey should have granted him, tried to blow up Castle and kill Chuck right in front of her eyes? Where was the pathetic little girl who asked for five more minutes “for her”? Where was the zombie that being in the presence of Shaw seemed to bring out in her? How could she trust someone who had shown himself to be a complete incompetent on every occasion one week and then not trust the partner who had shown her countless times he deserved it? Where was the Sarah who was content to let Shaw make the call after the five minutes were up and destroy the Intersect thus killing the man she loved and stood by and did nothing? What was different with this Sarah? It’s simple, no Shaw. Without him in the episode we got to see the Sarah Walker we knew and loved again however briefly. Zombie Sarah was put away only to return when the show killer returned. When Sarah is with her original team she is the Sarah we know and love but as soon as Shaw returns next week so does pathetic, subservient, and manipulated Sarah

    The other thing that this episode does is show how you could have great darker drama of the effects the spy life could have on Chuck, something I think is a valid storyline, without the ridiculous and pointless LI stories. This episode shows they could have had a great dramatic season of Chuck changing, how he reacts to this new world and its darker side, how Sarah sees what is happening in him so uncomfortably and feels guilty for sending him down this path. All of the important lessons they wanted us to see in this season are here in this episode and the major reason it works so well is that there is no Shaw and no hated LI angle to the story. The wretched stench the LI story brings that makes so much of this season unwatchable for me simply isn’t here so I can enjoy this episode immensely. Well up until the contrived and unnecessary last 30 seconds.

    Something that struck me again on rewatch is how incredibly dismissive of Shaw Sarah is when she says “Shaw can wait, Casey can’t”. It’s like the very mentioning of his name is making her as sick as the viewers are of him. The delivery of that line by Yvonne is really something. It’s like she is spitting it out just like I was. It is in many ways the most honest emotion towards him she has ever shown. She never at any point shows any real affection for him or pride in him like she has Chuck on so many occasions. The most expressive emotion Yvonne gives is what looks to me like complete disdain for him when compared to the rest of her team.

    But yet we get the ridiculous and unnecessary scene at the end. That scene feels like it is tacked on because it is. It is completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the drama or the story. In fact it significantly diminishes a great episode. It is simply angst for angst sake and in my view the episode would have been far better served by using the deleted scene with Morgan than the cab scene. The thematic arc from Chuck and Ellie, to Chuck and Casey that the last segment of the episode focuses on would have been far better served with the final scene being Chuck and Morgan and not the contrived angst of the cab scene.

    So again I come back to my first point. The biggest thing that comes from rewatching this episode for me is not what the writers had intended, it is the fact that the Shaw character and the LI storyline were killing this show. The weight of it just drags down everything and everyone around it and when he isn’t there, the greatness of this show can even in very dark times come shining through.

    • atcDave says:

      Obviously I agree completely about Shaw. Certainly for me, and many viewers, he was completely killing the show I once loved.
      As far as darker themes go, my enthusiasm is always cautious on the subject. But no doubt this episode is an excellent example of how far they could have gone, and still had a decent product, without the triangles. But I suppose the thing that always concerns me about darker is Nacho Sampler. There was no triangle yet there either, and yet that is a profoundly unfun episode! I think what I wanted, needed, to see; was always Chuck and Sarah paying attention to each other, and caring about each other, even if there is significant stress between them. THAT may be why Tic Tac works for me, while Nacho Sampler does not.

    • uplink2 says:

      Dave, another thing that also stuck out in this rewatch was this critical line from Sarah.

      I thought you had changed.

      The tense of that line is important. It’s past tense. She THOUGHT he HAD changed. She didn’t say he was changing or “You’re different now too”. It’s past tense and that means to me at least that she still sees the man she loves deep inside him. That in effect what she thought was a mistake. It’s the first real Charah conversation in a very very long time. Couple that with the expression of pure joy when he says “It’s Casey” and it shows how he “will always be that guy.” and “never lose sight of the things that make him great.”

      But yet again once the show killer returns next week all that trust, all that belief that he is still that guy is once again destroyed once she is in Shaw’s presence again.

      I have to say that Yvonne is fantastic in this episode and gives one of her best performances of this arc. Her expression at Chuck under the laudenal is incredible. Plus Zach’s reaction to what he does and how Sarah can get to him and save him from even the evil side of himself is a special moment that unfortunately gets ignored for its true meaning. Sarah should have seen how horrified he was and how “her Chuck” was still in there even under the effects of the drug. That she could get him to switch off the effects of the drug instantly. It’s a critical moment but it seems TPTB don’t want you to take that from it but instead to scare Sarah into running into Shaw’s arms. That element of the story I think they wanted us to take from that scene isn’t what I saw. What I saw was a missed opportunity to fix the story and rebuild their friendship, partnership and the comments from Beckman about Chuck needing her less and less are exactly the opposite of what we just saw. In fact he needs her more and more and so does she need him. How can what happens in DC we learn about later on happen after this episode? If the characters were being honest, it can’t. That story simply fails because of what we just saw throughout this episode. This is another point like the death scene in FN that should have been part of them earning DYLM but instead it simply gets ignored because it is only 3.10 and not 3.13 and we still have the big irrelevant and pointless reveal yet to come.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree completely with all of that. This could have been important about how Chuck still needs Sarah, but they flushed it. They drew conclusions (by having both Sarah and Beckman draw those conclusions) that baffled me, and were not what I saw. And of course next week will be shattering in so many ways.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, to reiterate the earlier point, how can what they told us in Living Dead happen in DC after this episode? I’d love to have an apologist explain that to me. It reminds me of an apartment I used to have. It was advertised as having an ocean view, but the problem was you had to press your head directly against the glass of the front window and look to your left to see it. Sure it was there but in the real world that was dishonest advertising. Same thing here. To tell us that Sarah runs to Shaw for dinner, wine and couples massages after this episode is dishonest storytelling. Sarah said she “thought he had changed” past tense and therefore a mistake. She sees him risk treason and everything he has worked for to protect and help a friend. She sees him react horrified at what he almost did under the influence of the drug and that he immediately is able to fight its effects on an emotional level just by her presence. How can she then go to DC and sleep with Shaw, get a couples massage and accept diamond earrings from him? How can she see what happens to him under the influence of the drug and how horrified he is at his behavior and then not trust him about killing the mole? If these are honest characters, she can’t. It’s another example of showing us the exact opposite of what they are telling us.

        Nothing that happens in this episode makes what comes next believable. In fact its the exact opposite, To me at least this episode negates the contrived story of DC. It makes no sense other than in their contrived, dishonest grand scheme as they need more angst to get us to the big irrelevant reveal and the inevitable hero’s moment. An honest version of Sarah backs off from Shaw after this episode instead of running to him. But Zombie Sarah,like the show is under some spell of misguided worship of all things Shaw. On screen however once again Shaw becomes the show killer and the honest storytelling killer. The great moments of this episode are thrown away and ignored next week because Zombie Sarah has to run to DC and into the arms of the man she doesn’t want Chuck to become and just saw that he isn’t. But they need that for Sarah to be manipulated into her big betrayal of Chuck and the pointless and irrelevant reveal yet to come. Its just sad when a great episode leads to again characters being sacrificed for plot.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I agree with what you said except for one thing. I do not believe that Sarah and Shaw are in a personal relationship at this time, ergo she did not rush to sleep with Shaw in DC. Based on what I saw they’re not there yet. The interrogation only tells us they had dinner in DC while on travel for business. I do that all the time without having sex with my colleagues. I believe it is terribly juvenile of TPTB to equate a dinner on travel with “they had sex”.

        I said before that I only went by what I saw in the episodes. Absent the kiss at the end of FN (and Sarah was back to only professional as soon as Chuck dumps Hannah), there is no indication of a relationship between Sarah and Shaw at this point ( I see it happening at the end of the next episode and even then I can’t understand why). What we see here is Casey needling Chuck making him jealous (we’ve seen that numerous time in the last two seasons) and we see Chuck freaking out over an agent being around Sarah (also something we’ve seen a few times in the past). Additionally, the Sarah we saw in the cab scene was not a woman rushing to sleep with her lover, more like going to her execution. Again, there is no indication from Sarah until the end of FE and the beginning of AH. I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

        The rest of you post about show killing, lost opportunity and re-emergence of Sarah for a while is correct. I totally agree with all of that.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I do like your take on it. I think Uplink is actually more correct about what TPTB WANT us to believe. But I just can’t accept most of this arc, its just soul destroying stupidity for these characters to have behaved like this.

        And even as late as the interrogation scene it all could have been fixed with one throw away line like “he sure was trying hard to get into my pants…” and it would have explained a lot while preserving Sarah’s dignity.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, while I’d like to believe you and I can see why you feel that way, I think the reveal in Living Dead eliminates that possibility for me. Not to be crass but a guy doesn’t take a beautiful woman he is supposedly involve with out to a great restaurant, have a couple’s massage where they are basically naked next to each other on massage tables and then takes her to Tiffany’s and buys her earrings that are probably somewhere around $10-15K and not expect to get laid. It’s as simple as that no matter how disgusting and revolting a thought that is. The scene from Living Dead was designed to confirm that Sarah and Shaw had been intimate on multiple occasions. It makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit and seriously damages the Sarah character but for me at least they are telling us it happened in DC and I believe it wasn’t the first time.

      • I treat it like I treat most logic problems: If the story doesn’t say it, it didn’t happen, unless the story logic requires it. There’s nothing in the story logic to require this.

      • uplink2 says:

        One more thing, it’s also an absurd TV troupe that the WTWT couple HAS to sleep with someone else before they are ready for the one they truly love. Chuck had sex with Jill and Hannah so Sarah had to have sex with Shaw. Ok this time I did throw up in my mouth.

      • joe says:

        I like the way everyone’s thinking about this.

        My take is that it’s actually a fairly clever way to show how Chuck’s imagination is running away with him (which would be a very Chuck-like thing to do here, especially in regards to Sarah). To accomplish that, TPTB let the fans run away with their collective imaginations too, and actually fed it twice, once in The Living Dead (the interrogation scene) and in an interview (and that was only once, right?).

        Well, maybe it wasn’t quite *that* deliberate, but it sure worked out that way. Fans (besides me!) went back to Tic Tac and went over every line to see if they could figure out exactly what happened in D.C., but there were very few clues actually provided. They left it up to our imagination.

      • I don’t understand why anyone would choose to think the worst without a reason. It’s not like they showed even as much as Chuck and Hannah in the Buy More at the end of the Mask.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc can you honestly say we aren’t supposed to believe Sarah and Shaw were intimate?! It’s never stated but its implied pretty obviously in Living Dead. I would have agreed completely about not assuming the worst prior to then, but after the interrogation I think the conclusion is pretty obvious. As I said above, there still was the window of opportunity for Sarah to clarify and defend herself, but she didn’t. I suppose you could imagine she denied it all later in private; but I think the obvious intent and meaning of the scene in Living Dead is that Sarah and Shaw were intimate, at least once.
        Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to imagine its all a misunderstanding. But I think the obvious conclusion is otherwise.

      • If it isn’t explicitly stated I don’t draw those conclusions. She could have looked the way she looked, knowing Chuck would be drawing those conclusions, even though they weren’t true. I only fill in gaps like that when it’s needed to complete the story logic and it isn’t in this case.

      • uplink2 says:

        I will add one more item. Stephen calls Shaw “Sarah’s lover” when he is talking to Chuck about his visions. A lover is someone you had sex with, it’s pretty clear. Couple that with the interrogation scene and it is absolutely clear to me that Sarah and Shaw were intimate. I mean come on, again not to be crass, but do you really think Shaw would buy $15k earrings at Tiffanys for a woman he is actively in a relationship with without having had sex with her or in anticipation of it afterwards? Let’s be real here. Shaw is NOT an honorable man and seeing how blatantly they showed teenage Chuck flaunting he had sex with Hannah in front of his team, including Sarah, of course he used that and everything else to get her into bed. Besides according to the TV troupe it had to happen. Sarah had to have sex with someone else first BEFORE she has sex with Chuck. He did twice and the troupe demands that she did too.

        Hey I want to believe it never happened because it turns my stomach so much but I think they have conclusively implied it did.

      • There’s no such thing as a ‘conclusive implication.’ An implication is nothing more than a dubious premise. I the viewer have to do the work of inferring the conclusion. The only time such a thing might be required of me is if the story logic makes no alternative sense without it, and that is not the case here.

      • joe says:

        Uplink, it was *Stephen* who said that. How would he know? Hum?

        To me it looks like he’s parroting back Chuck’s fears after amplifying them a bit, which only confirms Chuck’s fears. The process actually has a name – confirmation bias.

        And, btw, YES! I really do believe Shaw is *exactly* the kind of guy who would spend 15k to get into Sarah’s pants, as they say. He wouldn’t think twice about doing that to get under Chuck’s skin.

      • Shaw is presented in this series as being quite accustomed to casual displays of wealth. He has a penthouse, too. I was told he’s supposed to come from the same background as Chuck but that was not the way they portrayed the character. Spending that much on a girl isn’t at all conclusive for that sort of person.
        I know Orion said Shaw was her lover but Orion also wanted Chuck to walk away from government service, so breaking up C&S would be a good play from that point of view. It’s not like he claimed to have footage.

      • uplink2 says:

        Marc, we can go back and forth on the semantics but it is conclusive to me that TPTB wanted us to believe Sarah and Shaw were intimate both in DC and at the Hoff building. I actually believe it first happened at the end of Fake Name in Castle. They acknowledged the intentional symmetry of Mask with both starting new relationships in the same episode and I believe that symmetry carries over into having sex in FN. Be that as it may, why have Stephen call Shaw Sarah’s lover if it wasn’t true?

      • So TPTB want us to believe something. Even if I believed that, so what? Doesn’t mean I have to. The only people who would believe that bilge are those who want to, and those who can’t think of any alternatives, and I am neither.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, I’m going for the writer’s intent. Why write “lover” if you intended it to be a miscommunication? It makes no sense. The writer chose that word to make a point, Sarah and Shaw were lovers. The fact that it comes from Stephen I don’t think negates that intent in the least.

      • See my note above. Orion has every reason to want to break them up. His word means nothing without evidence, and given his skills he’d be hard pressed to provide any Chuck would accept as absolute.

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’re sort of arguing two different points here. The first point is; what were we supposed to think had happened? I’d say categorically, no impressions or implications about it, we were supposed to think Sarah and Shaw had been intimate.
        Now what we as viewers conclude may not always be the same as what we were supposed to think. If it were, there would be no pain and frustration with the ending (gee, CF said Chuck and Sarah were fine so it must be so…). And I think, just like that ending, we have to look at what is said and portrayed on screen to discern what actually happened. For myself, much as I hate to say it, I believe the most logical thing is that Sarah was intimately involved with Shaw for about a week; probably from her time in Washington (end of Tic Tac) until early in American Hero.
        And THAT is something I find offensive and outrageous. And not even because of my own moral standards alone; but because just like Chuck with Hannah, it makes Sarah look flakey, foolish and juvenile. For all the reasons we’ve mentioned these last few weeks, Shaw is a grossly unappealing character, and Sarah never shows any convincing affection for him. Even as far as saying, once she decides she still wants to be with Chuck (late American Hero) she dumps Shaw without a second thought. Sure we can say all the old stuff about Shaw was just a meaningless physical relationship, or he represented her old life, or whatever; but bottom line is, he had no real appeal to her. Of course in some ways, that only makes Zombie Sarah even more difficult to explain.
        The best we can say, is that by the end of American Hero, this whole stupid story is over.

      • So if the powers that be said that at this point in the show, you’re supposed to stab yourself, you’d do it? No story is just what is shown, it’s what is *seen*. How you perceive something is entirely up to you. The best anyone can do is point and say look there, but you don’t have to. Only the logic of the story can make me change the way I choose to perceive a story, and even then, only if I want to. I could also choose to stay with an illogical but more aesthetically pleasant interpretation. You guys, on the other hand, seem to be choosing to stay with an illogical and aesthetically unpleasant interpretation, simply because you think the guy who made the show told you to, and that makes no sense to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc your argument is flawed in that no one gives TPTB the power to control us in our own lives. But we do tend to put some weight on the story teller’s intent. Even when we strongly dislike or disagree with what they are doing.
        And it’s fine if you draw a more appealing conclusion about what’s on screen, but I think the logical conclusion is 180 degrees different from what you’re saying. I think if 100 viewers who watched to the end of the season were polled, less than ten would say Sarah and Shaw were not intimate. I very much enjoy AUs where Sarah (and even Chuck earlier in the season) behave themselves more admirably, but I think the weight of circumstantial evidence (and yes, even criminal convictions CAN be made on strong circumstantial evidence!) is that Sarah did not behave herself.

      • “no one gives TPTB the power to control us in our own lives.” That is exactly my point, so no logic flaw there.
        “the logical conclusion is 180 degrees different from what you’re saying” Not the *logical* conclusion, we’re talking inference here, not logic. It may be the most obvious conclusion, or the simplest conclusion, but it’s not the only conclusion. I can take three right turns or I can take one left turn, either one works to get me going in the same direction. If the one left turn is over a cliff, I won’t take it, I don’t care how simple it is, especially if the three right turns take me past a bridge factory.
        100 sheep will say baa if polled, does that mean I have to say baa too?
        It’s very simple: you guys are suffering with this season becasuse you are either unable or unwilling to stop stabbing yourselves.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I agree. Marc, how is my taking from what I see on screen that Sarah and Shaw were intimate illogical? I think all of the breadcrumbs are there and crystal clear. Again I desperately would like to believe it didn’t happen because the idea of Sarah being intimate with the show killer is offensive and repulsive based on what we see on screen of him. The damage to Sarah’s character because of it is enormous. But I absolutely believe that is what the writers are clearly telling us.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc inference is all about logic. And no one ever said it was the “only” conclusion. Only that it was the expected and most reasonable conclusion.

        And I think you placing blame in completely the wrong place. In fact, I’d say you’re applying some pretty convoluted logic to blame us for disliking the product. There are no bleating sheep here. Determining author’s intent is always a useful tool for understanding a story. There may be occasions to say the writer didn’t understand their own work (like maybe the Philip Kaufman screenplay for The Right Stuff, he honestly claims Yeager was the only real hero in the story!), but I think intent should always be considered when interpreting controversial material.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I scanned through these arguments and will say the following. I think it was juvenile of TPTB to equate a dinner on business travel with having sex. We, or at least I saw no evidence of intimacy at this point.

        Now after FE, she did begin a relationship with Shaw (blech) and clearly there was no evidence of intimacy at the time, hence we got the interrogation scene in LD to drive home the fact. The 24 hrs in his loft surely happened post FE because of the date. The couples massage and earrings had no date or time hack associated with it so I see it as the week before AH. So to help out, TPTB had Sarah bed Shaw at least twice before even going on a date. That really made Sarah look better.

        I am not a Sarah had to remain virginal type. I take exception to the circumstances (a complete fail) and the fact that Shaw was an absolute buffoon. He never deserved it even from Zombie Sarah. I accept that she had sex with Shaw, but it was post FE in my view.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt the post Final Exam period is what I’m most “sure” of too. Still irks me, I wish they’d had her deny it. Like you Dave, I’ve never required a virginal Sarah, but Shaw is just so revolting, any involvement with him diminishes her, intimate involvement is even worse.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I see your point I really do but it comes down to two things for me. First the symmetry that TPTB said quite clearly they were going for in Mask I believe follows in Fake Name. Hey that episode is such a complete betrayal and written to spit in my face why not add the ultimate insult and have Sarah sleep with Shaw in it after Chuck slept with Hannah. But that’s just me and I don’t think I’m in the majority there. But not to belabor the point but a despicable human being like Daniel Shaw isn’t going to spend $15,000 on earrings without assurance he is going to get laid afterwards. He doesn’t do anything without an ulterior motive and to me it is quite clearly to bed Sarah. He would never do it just to be a nice guy to his girlfriend. But I have no doubt he would spend that kind of money just to get her naked. He probably billed it to his expense account and had the taxpayers pay for them, lol. And we all know Beckman would sign anything for Superman without question, he is the perfect spy and a “true American Hero.” after all.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        Either way you look at it, it made Sarah look bad and showed tremendous disrespect for her character.

        On one side you can believe she slept with Shaw as early as Tic Tac (FN for some) and we would have Sarah sleeping with Shaw while still in love with Chuck (and Shaw knew this). This is really a bad way to treat her character.

        Or the kinder view (I’m in this camp) has Sarah declaring she is no longer in love with Chuck and then within minutes she jumps into the sack with Shaw, a couple of times, then she goes on a date with him. (the scene in AH where they discuss that being their first date and “we should have done this a long time ago” is a further reason I believe nothing intimate happened in DC) This makes her look only a little less bad than the other theory.
        Had they not shown the cab scene in Tic Tac and not had the table talk in AH I might have bought Sarah and Shaw being intimate in DC but given what they showed on screen, no sale.

        I think TPTB realized what a losing proposition the intimacy was from what was shown that they had to insert the interrogation to prove to us once and for all that Sarah slept with the 2×4.

      • Dave says:

        As an added note to my above post…

        Had it not been for the LD scene I would have laid even money that they were never intimate…based on what we saw. But we have to accept what they gave us in LD…I guess.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Dave I’m coming around to you view a little more on this. I think it seems pretty reasonable to say they were only “involved” from the end of Final Exam to the end of American Hero. It’s the “newness” angle at the start of American Hero that is most convincing. So that suggests that Shaw only finally got his way with a badly emotionally damaged Agent Walker in the aftermath of Chuck’s Red Test. It still doesn’t reflect well on Sarah, but it does seem to fit most of the data.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Yeah, I don’t recall who said this in an earlier thread (AP I think) but it is almost as if TPTB do not watch their own show. Why have the cab scene and the first date scene if you are going to try to contradict that later. Like I said a few times, they didn’t show us a romance in real time, they told us later that their really was, by golly, a romance here.

        I made the point on the IMdB board at the time that they had no qualms about showing Chuck making out with Lou (don’t believe it got as far as sex), actually in bed with Jill and at least Hannah was emerging from a post-coital shower. Earlier we saw clearly Bryce and Cole making their moves on Sarah and kissing her, with Shaw we saw two kisses, sort of and that was the romance. If they wanted an intimate relationship, then they should have shown it.

  2. Justin says:

    RECAP OF AU 3×09: Ring operatives attack Castle. Morgan finds out the truth about Chuck. Shaw decides to keep Chuck and Sarah apart instead of keeping them together. Ellie confronts Devon about keeping secrets from her and Devon tells her that her brother is a spy.

    Shaw continues to stand by his decision and plans to reassign Sarah to D.C. Chuck will remain in Burbank with him and Casey, being the center of the Intersect project and the fight against the Ring. Shaw believes Sarah’s reassignment will be best for Chuck’s training in the long-run. Before Sarah’s reassignment happens, he intends to inform his superiors of Chuck and Sarah’s hidden romantic relationship as the reason for the reassignment. Chuck and Sarah to delay to find a way to delay this which is when Casey’s storyline comes in. That part of the episode will remain the same.

    In another part of the episode, Ellie confronts Chuck about his spy life. The moment takes Chuck completely by surprise and he doesn’t have a lot of time to go into a lot of details about it because of the situation with Casey. Ellie demands to know the whole truth from Chuck now after being lied and kept in the dark for so long. Chuck tells her that he needs to help a friend of his who’s in trouble. Once that is resolved, he promises to tell her everything. Chuck keeps Ellie’s knowledge of his secret hidden from Shaw, afraid that the CIA may not be so lenient on the issue with another person discovering Chuck’s secret. He does tell Sarah, asking her for advice on how to handle the mess.

    The Laundanol story is used to show that no matter how much crap the spy life puts Chuck and Sarah through, they can still get through to each other. The experience makes Chuck see how much he needs Sarah in his life. So does the resolution of Casey’s storyline. The reveal of Casey’s past stands out to Chuck and Sarah as the cost of leading a spy life. Eventually, a spy has to make a choice between duty and love/family. In the end, Chuck chooses the latter when he makes a morally questionable deal with Shaw to keep Sarah in Burbank and their relationship a secret from Beckman and her bosses. When the leader of the Ring is caught, the CIA is going to want to interrogate him for information. Chuck knows Shaw doesn’t want that. He wants the Ring leader to suffer horribly for the role he played in his wife’s death. Chuck promises to use his Intersect-enhanced abilities to help Shaw get his personal moment of revenge with the Ring leader. Shaw agrees to Chuck’s deal, finding it tempting to past up. After Chuck leaves him, Shaw says something to himself slightly sinister that is meant to imply that the whole situation of him deciding on whether Chuck and Sarah stay together or apart was his way of manipulating Chuck into helping him have his ruthless revenge that goes aganist the approval of the CIA. He knows Chuck is too moral to go along with that unless he uses Sarah to push Chuck’s buttons enough to make him say yes.

    The episode ends with Chuck taking Ellie somewhere secure for him to privately answer her questions about his spy life. The location was provided by Sarah. The camera slowly pulls back as Chuck begins to tell her how all of this started for him.

    • atcDave says:

      Really nice alternate Justin. I particularly like bringing Ellie in like this. Obviously it leaves us worried how Chuck is going to deal with Shaw and his dirty deal. But that could be an interesting situation to see play out. I am really looking forward to where you go with that!

      • Justin says:

        I felt it would be wrong to put off the situation with Ellie after how my version of last episode ended. It’s best to bring it to a head. The twist with Shaw felt right to me because I wanted Shaw to be the Faith to Chuck’s Buffy. Shaw is a dark, broken mirror of Chuck if Sarah was murdered and Chuck threw himself into spy work, obsessed with revenge. And like Faith and Buffy, Chuck and Shaw will come to blows in the end.

  3. authorguy says:

    I disliked Tic Tac for two reasons. The skimpy treatment the actual mission received revealed how small the budget was. Out of 15 levels they only show one. I happen to like the whole ‘navigating traps to get to the treasure’ and would have liked to see something more.
    The more serious reason is the whole Casey story. The idea that Casey would betray his entire career so easily just didn’t work for me. He never tried to tell anyone, he never turned to the team that performed so well when he needed them. And the only reason for that was to make Beckman dismiss him (and without much defense from his teammates, either), so that when he killed the mole it would be murder, so that Chuck couldn’t defend himself after his red test, so that Sarah would think he’d changed. Complete manipulation, and blatantly obvious.
    All of these are things I took to heart when writing my own episode-specific nine2five rewrite of Tic-Tac, ‘Pieces of Me’, which looks very little like Tic-Tac..Carina is coerced, she does turn to her team, and her team spends several episodes after that trying to prove her innocence.
    The fight scenes were pretty good, though. Chuck on Laudanol was stunning, and the end, with Sarah calling him out of that shell, is one of the best scenes in the series. Another is the whole “It’s Casey” scene. Shaw (the spy world) betrayed Sarah in the Beard, now she betrays it, and him, without a second thought. And the revelation of Casey’s daughter was an excellent inclusion of new blood to the story.
    So there’s some stuff to like but the basic manipulativeness of the episode puts me off.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny I’d say the manipulation here is the least of the arc. But no doubt it is present. And it will be even more grotesque next week.

      • To you, maybe, but I have fewer problems with the rest of S3 than you do, so the rather blatant manipulation of this aspect of the storyline really sticks out to me. Chuck can’t admit to Casey’s role in the Red Test, and then the very next episode Casey does so himself, just in time to save their relationship.

  4. JC says:

    I really like this episode probably my favorite of S3 and it could have been an all time favorite minus a couple things.

    Chuck wanting to take the Laudanol after his talk with Morgan felt like it came out of left field. Had this episode taken place before Beard I could buy into it but what reason did he have at this point? The same goes for Sarah questioning whether Chuck was willing to save Casey, I mean honestly what had he done to make her question him? And the icing was Sarah going all Jason Bourne to save Casey after doing nothing for Chuck. I think they really dropped the ball on that one, a couple pieces of dialogue from Casey to Sarah mentioning the irony of the situation compared to what they did when Chuck was in trouble would have made a great moment.

    Even though it sounds like I’m down on the episode I’m not but I have to separate how I watch them. As a standalone this is easily one of my top five episodes of the series but in relation to the rest of the season especially since it followed Beard it drops of considerably. You could really see the puppet strings.

    • uplink2 says:

      Great comments JC. I think you captured the issue with this episode really well but I will turn it around. It isn’t that this standalone episode gets brought down by those that are around it, its that this episode shows how well things COULD have been done and it makes all the rest look that much worse because of it. It’s like they slid a really good season 2 episode right in the middle of the really awful season 3 ones. Yes its darker but except for the moments when they mention the ongoing failed LI storyline, this episode hits on all cylinders. I even like Morgan in this episode and its part of his evolution from a character I couldn’t stand to one that I enjoy many times.

      But the problem is that it doesn’t fit. Chuck has this great (phoney) epiphany last episode and yet does absolutely nothing about it or try and let her know something about how he feels. If anyone is trying to reach out and connect it’s Sarah not Chuck. The Sarah of Tic Tac is the Sarah we know and love and NOT the zombie she is in Beard or Final Exam. As I said before the Sarah we see for the entire episode, except the last 30 seconds shows no interest in Shaw and if anything shows disgust and disdain for him. No way does that Sarah run to Shaw in DC after what happened here. In this episode she chose her team over the CIA and yet they have her run to the man who is trying to destroy that team.

      “You could really see the puppet strings.” is a perfect way to describe it. When a strong episode like this one that for the most part is true to the characters and has clear back story that makes the reactions perfectly understandable is put next to 2 that are incredibly manipulative it really does highlight the man behind the curtain.

      • atcDave says:

        After reading JC’s comment I was thinking something very similar to what Uplink said. The quality of Tic Tac highlights the shortcomings of the rest of the arc.
        This episode is far more faithful to the characters I know and love; apart from a couple of moments that fit it to the main arc.

  5. Dave says:

    First, my alternative. Following my changes to earlier episodes and making as few changes as possible, here goes…

    Chuck, Sarah and Casey have been working together under Shaw’s radar the whole time. Chuck and Sarah have already slept together (end of 2.21) but Sarah was mad after Chuck uploads the 2.0. She stays mad for a while but when she wants to reconcile, Shaw shows up (3.04). Now they are hiding their relationship from Shaw and since Chuck is under constant surveillance they haven’t been able to get together for more than quick conversations and some affectionate kissing. Sarah is now working Shaw to find out what he is up to.

    Now that you’re up to date, I’d leave this episode largely as is. I would insert some affection between Chuck and Sarah in a couple of places like when they talk in Castle right before going after Casey. Next episode will have some neat stuff but this Casey-centric episode is pretty good as is, my favorite episode of this misery arc.

    • Dave says:

      Oh, I forgot, another scene would have been for Sarah to rush up and hug Chuck and kiss him and check him over after he comes out of the laudanol.

    • atcDave says:

      It is a testament to how solid this episode is that would work almost unchanged with a far more appealing over-arc.

  6. oldresorter says:

    I liked the ep, how inactive Sarah was in protecting Chuck in the woeful Beard ep vs her actively being Sarah Walker in this ep was a stunning change. Two things I didn’t like about this ep, the DC scene, again ruin a great ep with yet another unhappy ending and what in the heck did Sarah want Chuck to do, die with Kathleen in that house? He was defenseless, and rather heroically took the laudinal to save Kathleen, yet Sarah held that action against him.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Jason, as I said above, they had Sarah draw exactly the wrong conclusions when Chuck took the Laudanol. She should have seen that Chuck still needs her, she can protect the real Chuck even when the Intersect is taking over. She can reach Chuck even when he is feeling “nothing”.
      Really there should have been a pretty strong statement of deep love there, yet Sarah concludes the exact opposite. Baffling.

      • Where is that conclusion drawn, exactly? I’ll take another look.

      • joe says:

        Not to put words into Dave’s mouth (uh, computer), Marc, but I think he means that moment when Chuck is about to snap the Ring Agent’s neck and looks back at Sarah with murder still in his eyes (from the Laudanol). To me, her reaction is one that says “I don’t see Chuck in those eyes. Chuck is gone.” That’s her conclusion, and it should have been “Chuck needs me.” instead.

      • I saw her look at him in horror at what he was about to do and then he snaps out of it precisely because he was looking at her. What was her reaction after that happened, or didn’t they show it?

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks Joe, but it’s also the debrief when Sarah and Beckman agree that Chuck needs her less and less. My own conclusion at that point was the exact opposite. Or does Sarah believe Chuck would have been fine, done the right thing, and had a clear conscience afterwards without her? Sarah saved him in a most important way, and yet she doesn’t see it? That strikes me as counterintuitive manipulation.

      • Definitely not the conclusion I would have drawn, Dave. Another case of using Beckman to ram ridiculous plotlines through. Sarah should have disagreed with that conclusion, especially as the only reason he didn’t need her was because he needed a drug. Unless the idea is that Sarah saw him snap out of it and concluded he didn’t need her to do so, which wasn’t at all consistent with what I saw.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc you’re correct in saying Beckman has drawn a ridiculous conclusion, and that she often has on this show. But Sarah draws the same conclusion; if she hadn’t, there’s no way she flies off to DC. I see no way of having it both ways. Sarah is portrayed as a moron for the umpteenth time this season. She concludes Chuck has “changed” and he no longer needs her, even though there is really very little evidence to support that conclusion. It is painfully manipulative story telling that has a main character, we had previously thought highly of, drawing bizarre conclusions all season long.

      • I know, Dave.I was agreeing with you. The only thing that could justify her silence here is possibly a reluctance to disagree with her superior, which we know she’s done many times in the past.

      • joe says:

        Dave. I hadn’t picked up on that before – Beckman’s contribution to Sarah’s reaction. But you’re right!

        And I’m just now realizing something, Marc. It’s not only Chuck who has those typical beta-male fears (uh, now why would I know this, hum?) about Sarah leaving him, emotionally, for Shaw, her “type.” Sarah’s got those same kinds of fears. Chuck doesn’t need her? She’s thinking he’s trying very hard to be a great spy and pretty much succeeding. He’s needed to get past his emotions, and he has. “He needs to not care so much for me and…” That’s her fear, even if it’s not Chuck’s reality. Beckman only feeds into that perception.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Marc that I misread your intent. But yeah it’s pretty painful to see.

        You may be right Joe that Beckman leads her into it, but I think we were meant to think she was already leaning that way. Of course the good news is, this line of thinking is almost over. The bad news is, it gets worse before it gets batter.

  7. oldresorter says:

    For me the badness of the arc took on a synergistic effect. No one issue (fake name, the number of times Shaw and Sarah boinked, all the failed scenes that could have or should have been better, heck, every scene Shaw was in) was a deal breaker for me. The sum of the parts of s3’s misery, was far worse than any one event. I kept watching, and kept feeling worse. When it ended, I still felt lousy. I loved the Honeymoon ep, like the Role Model ep, but after that, the show kind of kept being ‘off’ for me. s4 was fine, but the show seldom really went all in with Chuck and Sarah, moving from sweetness to epicness. I think the characters and the actors had it in them, for some reason, the writers didn’t share my vision. Go figure?

    • atcDave says:

      Well there’s no doubt that S3 badly diminished the story and the characters for many of us. They went from being larger than life; in Chuck’s case he was often an idealized version of how I saw myself, or wanted to. To being somewhat less than that; after S3 I saw him as less than I see myself.
      With Sarah the change was never so personal; but she was diminished in much the same way.

    • uplink2 says:

      This gets to my point in my original posting, the Shaw character as written and performed was a show killer. As Mo Ryan points out he dragged down every scene he was in. And the more they doubled down on his story and the awful LI story the worse he dragged them down. There have been others in the past on different TV shows but none were more destructive in my mind than Daniel Shaw. This episode proves that clearly. Once he was introduced the show was never the same. Good villain or not, the damage was already done and it was done really early on and every attempt they tried to sell the story just made it worse. It’s like every time he is in a scene the cumulative IQ drops by a hundred points. It’s really uncanny and no matter what they did it never fully recovered. I loved season 4 but its a different show from season 2.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        It wasn’t so much the Shaw character as it was the way everyone around him became painfully pathetic to prop him up. I could see the use of the IDEA of Shaw, but the way it was executed with the ridiculous LI’s thrown in just crushed what was a funny, campy spy spoof…which is what I was looking for, 3.01-3.11 was so not that.

      • oldresorter says:

        Uplink – it felt like in s2, the writers told stories that caused the fan base near universally to salute them. Orion was great, when he turned out to be Chuck’s dad, he was even better. The ballerina, the first date, then the beach in the pilot. Snookface and Copface. Splitting a cheeseburger. Running away to save Chuck from the Bunker. Committing treason to find Chuck’s dad. S3 felt like the writers quit loving the characters they made us fall in love with. As I said, except the Honeymoon ep, Role Models a bit, and the Phase 3 ep, the writers never quite wrote stuff that united the fan base again. For me, it always felt like the story writers were looking over their shoulders, and trying to inflict as much damage (like the wedding ep or Christmas ep from hell) as they could when they were going to give us epic, like they were trying to keep expectations in check for the future. I think like the little boy who cried wolf, that style wore thin after s3. I think the reason is in many of these eps, like the final, we sat thru several hours of bad for a few moments of good. In the case of the final, the good wasn’t even great – Yikes? The writers used up the goodwill they built up and then some, such that the great never quite paid off the nastiness that proceeded it, to make for the epic tale I was looking for.

      • atcDave says:

        Although I agree completely about not liking the Shaw character, I’m always a little hesitant to place so much blame on him. I know I’ve mentioned a few times, that I know SIX viewers who quit at Pink Slip. Some came back later; but all gave me variations on the same answer as to why… The episode was no fun and it destroyed what had been the best part of the show.
        Now no doubt Shaw was a terrible drag, and really personified what was wrong with S3. But I think the exact specifics had more to do with changing the tone of a fun show, making the main character less relatable and sympathetic, and destroying a much loved television romance (ultimately to such a degree even when fixed, it never felt quite the same again).
        I think Shaw is the single easiest thing to point to, and to some extent he plays into everyone of the above mentioned shortcomings. But I think S3 was badly flawed concept or “re-invention”. It’s possible just removing the character of Shaw would have lessened the damage done a lot. But the damage was started before Shaw even appeared on screen.
        I will admit, if Shaw had been removed, and Chuck and Sarah started mending their relationship after 3.04, the rough start might have been forgotten/forgiven by most of us. But I still think Shaw mostly just personifies the bad decisions made for the season-long arc.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        The IDEA of an outside character sent in to finally get the intersect working and to assist the team with Ring knowledge would have worked (sort of as I’ve shown with my alternatives) but the totally unbelievable LIs, the destruction of THE romance and the way the other characters were depicted so pathetically to build up Shaw was the problem.

        As you say, Pink Slip was terrible and had it not been for the next two episodes following so closely I might have walked. Like I said the idea was good but the way the used that idea pretty much did so much damage they never really recovered.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with all of that Dave.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree with all of that guys and yes I screamed ay my TV when Pink Slip aired that I waited 8 months for this crap? But though I hated that episode it was a salvageable season until Superman arrived and the geometry started. I hated Shaw from the first minute on screen and it only got worse. He was a totally unrelatible character as written and performed immediately.

        But a flawed initial concept, executed poorly, and a show killing character as the central focus doomed this season so much even the staff knew it was failing. Dave I agree in order to doubledown on their concept they set about to diminish all of the characters we loved to prop up a character we hated. Shaw is the OC’s Oliver and hated even more.

        I suppose the best proof we can get that they knew it was a disaster is they never talk about it. It’s always post villain Shaw and never the “true American Hero who in any other show Sarah would be madly in love with.”

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it sure is funny how TPTB treated Shaw later.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink, atcDave

        Pink Slip was the first episode I saw aired. I was hooked on the season1 & 2 DVDs. Imagine my shock as I excitedly settled in with an adult beverage to watch my new obsession only to see Pink Slip. I took real willpower not to throw said adult beverage through my 46 inch flat screen (they were much more expensive back then). Happily 3W and Angel were better episodes and I got them within 24 hrs.

        atcDave- You said six people, I remember my wife, who also liked the show, got all of the ladies who worked for her to watch and all 5 tuned out in the middle of Pink Slip and never came back. That’s why I always start the problem arc at 3.01. Even though a handful of good episodes were scattered in there, it was brutal.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah my six was three different couples. One household tuned out mid-episode; the other two right after, before Three Words.
        No doubt it fueled my frustration. I felt like I spent all season doing damage control for something that was neither my fault nor anything I wanted to see.

      • uplink2 says:

        You know it’s funny I’ve started back on my own rewatch and tonight is was the start of season 2 with First Date and Seduction. The comparison of those two season openers compared to Pink Slip and Three Words is amazing. Those two are part of probably the best run of 4-5 episodes the show has ever done. Smart, fun, balanced, well written and perfectly executed. Whereas the others are one of my 3 most hated episodes, a decent episode that means absolutely nothing going forward and it is the beginning of the absolute worst period of the show. A period that lasts almost an entire season.

        If episodes of the quality of 2.1 and 2.2 started season 3 none of those folks would have left and all would have been hooked. As we get deeper into the bottom of the misery arc and the warts and flaws all are so exposed so clearly once again it’s really hard for me to understand why they thought this would work. Why they didn’t or wouldn’t see the problems in time to fix them. It’s obvious from this episode that they still knew how to tell a good standalone story, why was the overarching one so poorly done? Why throw away your strength that is so obvious in the eps I saw tonight and worship at the WTWT idol one more time? It’s just so sad sometimes to see what they did do so well at times be so horribly misplaced later on.

      • atcDave says:

        First Date is an incredibly strong episode. That was how I got another couple hooked on the show recently. We were doing a movie night with friends, and when I realized there was time, I put in First Date as the short warm up! It went over very well. Those first five episodes of S2 are just all so strong, really an awesome run of good shows. To be fair, that might be setting the bar pretty high. Even though I often say S4 is my favorite period of the show; that opening run of S2 is incredible.

  8. oldresorter says:

    Funny how not nice the other side of the coin is towards us. We comment on the show, they comment on us. That meanness toward the shipper crowd has never changed, since Pink Slip aired. But, when we fight back, we’re the bad guys.

    • atcDave says:

      That’s okay, we can keep it classy. We’re only a couple weeks from when it gets a lot easier to have a positive view of the show!

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree. In my reading of the history of season 3 and Chuckpocalypse, it seems this was always the case or at least the majority of it. Those that were unhappy with the show during that period expressed their displeasure about the episodes and the story choices and execution and those that weren’t, blamed it all on the “crazy shippers”. They lumped everyone who disliked what they saw on screen into the “crazy shipper” crowd and complained about them. It’s actually pretty sad and has led to in many ways a permanent fracturing of the fanbase that still comes out even now it seems.

      But I agree with Dave, in a few weeks we will have to come back together and talk about a show that still flawed was much more enjoyable to watch and love again. To me one of the saddest consequences of season 3 was taking a very positive fanbase and ripping it apart all for the sake of reinventing a show in a way that a very large and vocal part of the fanbase was very very unhappy with and for good reason in my mind.

      • atcDave says:

        To be fair, there were some outrageous comments from the ‘shipper crowd that didn’t help matters. Like the classic “boycott the show comment”. Sort of like treating a head wound with a neck tourniquet.

      • uplink2 says:

        That’s true but I think that comment was really blown out of proportion to highlight the “crazy” in “crazy shipper” which I agree there were some. But it was only one post on a slew of hundreds on Sepinwall’s blog that was picked up on and became much more than it ever should have IMO. But if you read that entire thread its amazing how the arguments played out. One group criticized the show and the other criticized those who criticized it.

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’ve mostly avoided that here; both main posts are clearly about different viewpoints of the material. It often gets tricky when responding to a specific point, especially as so many of those points are emotionally charged. So it doesn’t really surprise me if things occasionally get more personal than we might prefer. But ultimately, we can each only control our own comments. I try not to take certain hurtful things personally, sometimes its harder than others.

        I would also mention that many of the apologist crowd likely see us as “starting it”. When we criticize actors or writers that are dear to them they may treat it as a personal attack and respond accordingly. Even when we honestly meant to comment on content (including style or observed tendencies). It can be so difficult to keep such discussions from getting personal!

      • Not sure I’d call myself an apologist. From my perspective there’s a great deal for the show to apologize for, but not to you. S3 was a marvelous attempt to transform the show into something that could live beyond it’s larval stage, which was not done well. If apologies are called for it’s to those of us who saw that need. Those who feel (as you guys seem to) that the show should never have developed beyond the larval stage, are not the ones sinned against.

      • atcDave says:

        Apologist has little to do with apologies! (Except maybe for etymology) It’s simply someone defending a thing. I’m an S3 detractor, and an S4 apologist.

        But I do completely disagree with your assertion Marc. I have no interest in “growth” in a show itself. I select programs based on themes, moods, stories and characters I want to watch. If part of that equation changes or “grows” in ways I don’t like, the show becomes less appealing. Pretty simple.
        Character growth is a different matter entirely. I expect characters to grow and change over the course of a series; unless they’re played for broad comedy like Homer Simpson, characters should learn from their mistakes and adapt to challenges. With Chuck I don’t believe a single commenter has ever said the character of Chuck shouldn’t grow. That is not even remotely at issue. The issues involve taking a darker turn than many of us wanted to see. I don’t believe having a protagonist become a slime ball is ever a good direction to take. And yes, I know there are entire series built around that entire idea. But they aren’t for me. I choose what I watch carefully. It is often disappointing when a show I liked turns in directions I don’t want to follow. Typically, I just don’t follow, show gets deleted. There’s an extra level of disappointment for a show I fought to save taking a very ugly turn.

        But for all that, we’ve had a lot of fun with these posts. So much great fiction came from the desire for something better, something more. And not just the actual fan fiction, we’ve seen a lot of fans try their hand at constructing different stories. The motivation is usually to do something better, something more fun, something that better honors the characters we loved. These discussions, and the large body of S3 AUs have become a silver lining of the whole experience. Although I’ll always wish the show had gone differently, I’m not sure I’d be willing give up all that we gained to change it.
        There is no need for anyone who doesn’t want to participate in these discussions or sees nothing wrong with canon to spend one second in this thread. And those of us who wanted something different have avoided the discussions of those who want to praise the show. And yet we still get criticized for keeping to ourselves. Nice.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess that makes me now an S3 detractor apologist!

      • uplink2 says:

        Marc, I will add this. I think you really are misinterpreting at least my POV completely. I WANTED the show to evolve, grow and become something more than it was. I wanted a unique and different approach to the television I had seen before. I have said countless times I was fine with a darker story and Chuck and Sarah not being together at the start of season 3. But I wanted the reasons for both the darker story and keeping them apart to be honest and to come from the characters themselves and not from a contrived, manipulative TV troupe filled plot. But the problem was we got none of that to me. In fact we got exactly the opposite.

        I have mentioned probably hundreds of times that I was not in any way involved with the online Chuck community when season 3 aired. I had no idea whatsoever about Chuckpocalypse, chapter 7, or emotionally traumatic. All I did was watch the show week to week and the only spoilers I got were the on-air promos. I first came online AFTER S3 was over when Zach’s duet with Kat McPhee was released and some folks in her fanbase and I were working to get the song sent to radio. Because I was a big fan of the show I volunteered to reach out to the Chuck fanbase and try to enlist their help. What shocked me was how many folks saw the exact same things I did and felt the exact same way I did in my hatred for many of the story choices and execution of that season.

        I had first started watching the show with the Jill arc and had never seen season 1. After S3 aired I decided to buy the DVD’s in large part because I loved Carina in Three Words and wanted to see her initial episode. After finishing S1 in 3 days I bought season 2 to watch the 5 episodes I missed. Once I got the complete picture my anger and sadness over season 3 grew even more.

        Believe me I love dark stories of redemption but the character I loved most about the show was simply never redeemed. The story was written backwards and they had to diminish every character to prop up a character I detested. What we ended up with was a mess of an interesting initial concept that failed miserably in execution. That execution hinging on an incredibly unlikable character played by a weak and limited actor that ultimately ended up being a show killer. Hell even the staff of the show knew it wasn’t working but it was too late to fix it. So they hoped folks would simply allow them to sweep it under the rug as long as they got to the destination that drove the season. Problem was that for many of us that destination wasn’t earned. It was plopped down simply because it was 3.13 and that was the plan from the beginning.

        Episodes like this one highlight many of the things that this show did well and how much better this storyline could have been without Shaw or at least without the phoney, unwanted, unnecessary and manipulative LI drama. Plus the big reveal that is too come that is supposed to tie all of this together I didn’t care about one bit. I had absolutely no interest in Shaw’s story, I simply wanted him gone as fast as possible. He dragged down everything and everyone I loved about this show. It’s so bad that even TPTB won’t talk about pre-evil Shaw. Shaw was a failure and it almost killed the show and my love for it.

        So I guess what I’m saying is I am probably more in the camp of wanting the show to evolve but it didn’t. It regressed because of its contrived and forced storyline, a repetitive trip back to a totally empty LI well and its reliance on a totally unlikable character that they had to severely damage the characters I did love to prop up one that I absolutely despised.

        But Dave’s right, I/we have stayed out of the threads of those that appreciate what canon was trying to do. I’m happy that folks find something to enjoy there. I don’t and have learned after 3 years of this I never ever will. The weight of the LI disaster and the contrived original story launch have simply eliminated my ability to ever enjoy this period of the show I love. But for those that do, I’m happy for you, I really am. I do plan to be back when we come together and enter a period when the show got back to what I loved about it from day 1.

      • atcDave says:

        I also need to point out ‘shippers definitely, absolutely, categorically wanted the show to grow in the sense we were eager for the next phase of the central relationship to unfold. In continuing wt/wt for 12 episodes longer than seemed organically appropriate they actually delayed growth. The show stayed stagnate, beyond that, it showed rot in those 12 episodes with too little growth.

      • Dave says:

        marc

        I feel vaguely insulted. I for one, thought changing course and trying this new thing was good. I’ve often said I liked the IDEA of Shaw. TPTB took that good idea and gave us something very un-good. I thought they were close (that’s why my alternatives are minimal change alternatives), but the places where they could have made this great they just dropped the ball so painfully.

        atcDave, Uplink

        I’m Dave and I approve your message. Couldn’t agree more. I so enjoyed the back end of season three (3.12 for me-3.19). Sure there were mistakes there but for the most part I loved it and have often said the S3 finale was probably the best. I also loved S4 and a lot of S5.

      • uplink2 says:

        Absolutely agree Dave. In fact there wasn’t any relationship growth at all. If anything is was relationship regression. Some would argue that there wasn’t any because it was individual growth that was needed and in a sense I can understand that POV. However whatever growth there was, was limited to only Chuck and that was after weeks and weeks of regression to the point he was barely recognizable and in fact a rather disgusting, abhorrent character at times. But in the case of Sarah, again the most important character on the show for me, there was absolutely no growth. It was only regression with significant damage to so much of what I loved about her. She was made to look incredibly disturbed and to become a pathetic, subservient version of herself both professionally and personally to sell the story and character I had absolutely no interest in buying. It is incredibly sad that so much potential was lost.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I would say there was some growth for Chuck into the spy world. He gained experience and lost his innocence. But then, none of us have ever claimed this shouldn’t be so. In fact, I think every proposed alternate we’ve seen for S3 involves getting Chuck much of this same experience, often through very similar mechanisms to what the show itself actually did. So really, there is no disconnect in this area at all; even the most extreme parts of the fan base wanted this to happen.
        The growth at issue is all relationship. And what did S3 net us? American Hero ends with Chuck proclaiming his love for Sarah, and Sarah deciding to leave the spy life for him… Pretty much exactly what we had way back in Ring. Obviously some details have changed. But after an unpleasent main arc where both main characters acted the fool, they are now back exactly where they started. That’s not growth, it’s treading water.

      • Dave says:

        Or circling with a jammed rudder and no directional control. Usually leads to a shipwreck of some sort…excuse me atcDave, or a crash.

      • uplink2 says:

        This is ultimately the question I’ve been looking for an answer from the S3 apologists for 3 years. Where was the growth that they say this direction was needed for? Certainly there was absolutely none in the central relationship and only regression in Sarah individually. There was some in Chuck but at what cost? Many fans no longer felt the connection with him like they had in the past. I know this is the case with you atcDave.

        We will discuss this when we get to Other Guy but it is just as contrived as Pink Slip was and simply undoes the reset that Pink Slip created. It is the positive version of Pink Slip and simply puts the relationship back to where it was after Colonel.

        Growth was required and desirable certainly, I just wish we got some.

      • It just occurred to me that Sarah asking Shaw to make a decision based on personal criteria *is* growth, for her. ‘Do it for me’ is something that a real girl would say. A real girl wouldn’t have pulled a gun on the guy, either. Her growth as a person weakened her as a spy (at least temporarily), until she found the same kind of balance Chuck had to find.

      • Dave says:

        I know a lot of folks just wish Shaw was never there, but when I said the idea of Shaw could have worked, here’s what I meant.

        As I saw it, we could of had progression even with Shaw. We could have Shaw as a not very competent spy (we did), an ineffective leader (we did), sniffing after Sarah (we did and he wouldn’t have been the first) and turn rogue and become an existential threat to our heroes and still have had good TV.

        The problem was that everyone else became so OOC that it so didn’t work. Had Chuck remained determined, intelligent and good guy (in FN he certainly wasn’t); had Sarah remained decisive, competent, committed and dedicated to Chuck; had Casey remained the supremely competent spy who had poor people skills then having Shaw as the foil for the growth of the show’s real characters (not some trumped up guest star) then this could have been great TV. That’s what I have been trying to show by having my alternatives be what we saw with some altered scenes or motivations (PS and FN excepted-they were to far gone to get by on that). That’s why I always saw this period as a wasted opportunity. TPTB forgot what they’d done in S1 & S2.

      • joe says:

        @Uplink

        This is ultimately the question I’ve been looking for an answer from the S3 apologists for 3 years. Where was the growth that they say this direction was needed for? Certainly there was absolutely none in the central relationship and only regression in Sarah individually.

        I have a strange and strained relationship with ‘shippers, Uplink. I was always rooting for Chuck and Sarah, and most of all, I wanted them to get together. The relationship was central to my experience with this show. But somehow I was always disagreeing with may self-proclaimed ‘shippers about some pretty fundamental things. Most of all, I’ve been seeing subtlety and even art where others have simply said “No, not for me.”

        As Yoda would say, “Caught in the middle, I am!”

        So with that as a preface, the growth that I saw was almost entirely in Sarah during S3. She starts out, the legion has it, as Graham’s wildcard. She describes Casey as “a cold-school killer” (or, rather, accepts and agrees with Graham’s description of him), when it’s pretty clear pretty soon that it’s the way she sees herself BC (that’s Before Chuck). That’s not the girl who’s presented in S1.

        Agent Walker is someone walking a fine line, always trying to “save the phenomenon,” as scientists are wont to say. She seems to like Chuck, but every time he gets close, her response to him and her actions are clouded by just enough ambiguity to make Chuck doubt what he thinks he sees. The fans too, at least some of us, were hard to convince that the nerd was ever going to get the girl.

        S2 would have resolved that for most fans. Surely they were going to get together after The Colonel. After First Date and then the distractions of Jill and Cole, why not? But what I saw wasn’t Chuck and Sarah getting closer; I saw Chuck only becoming a grown-up and putting aside his thoughts of Sarah for something more important, his family (Stephen, in particular). That’s his growth.

        Sarah seemed to be coming around the way the fans wanted, the way she seemed ready to sacrifice everything for Chuck’s mission. But to do that, she had to close off everything. She was ready to leave with Bryce at the beginning of The Ring pt. 1 and the most closed off I’ve ever seen her was when she and Chuck left the Buy More to escape Casey and head out to find Stephen (the end of First Kill and beginning of Colonel). If there’s love there, she’s not letting herself feel it; Sarah’s totally about “her” mission. It’s like she’s not going to let herself feel anything until…

        Yeah, that next morning, in the motel. That’s not exactly love – she’s reacting purely physically, out of exhaustion.

        So where’s the growth? Sarah has yet to crack that shell she’s constructed around her heart. She comes close in Pink Slip and Three Words, and most of the “Misery Arc” is about her realizing that she can actually do her job if she feels something. That’s what so important about the scene in Tic Tac when she ask Chuck if he want to be a traitor to help a friend. The Sarah Walker who waltzed into the Buy More in the Pilot would have shot the SOB who gave away his country’s secrets.

        The problem, of course, is that to feel something means you get to hurt, and that’s what’s coming in Final Exam. Can she get by the pain that’s coming? As a fan 3 years ago, I was sure it was going to work out. I just didn’t know how.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I agree exactly that Shaw could have worked as you describe. The idea of Shaw as a bit of a moron who has the authority to wreck the team and get them all killed could easily have worked in ways both funny and exciting. It is always a pity they chose a story that was less fun.

        Marc and Joe I do agree that we were likely supposed to see Sarah’s journey in the way you mention. I do remember thinking even at the time they were trying to show Sarah come to terms with her feelings in some way. I think they failed in how they depicted it; on screen was neither clear to understand what we were seeing, nor any fun at all to watch. Perhaps it answers some of Uplink’s issues. But it does nothing for mine. My objections have much less to do with logic, or the point of it all; and focus on the entertainment value. And bottom line is, whether we make sense of the season or not, I find it no fun at all.
        I would also say though; if we exclude Sarah’s S3 “growth” entirely I think a complete growth path still exists; from “it is real”, to agonizing over decisions like moving in, verbally committing herself, settling into the ideas of kids and marriage. It just makes her S3 arc look like a lost and pathetic child, and completely unnecessary.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Joe, I appreciate the effort but damn I see things differently. The Sarah Walker that watches the ballerina scene isn’t the cold school killer(Casey if you will) that you mention. To me that person would not have reacted like she did, with in many ways, awe. She also wouldn’t have reacted like she did to the “I could be your own personal baggage handler” line. Nor would she have asked Casey “What about his friends, his sister?” The Sarah Walker of the pilot does have an element of the Sarah we would come to know and love. Even as a spy she had compassion for real people. Something that folks like Bryce, Casey and most definitely Shaw never did.

        One of the most important lessons of seasons 1 and 2 was that Sarah trusted Chuck very early on. Even after their fight in Crown Vic she was ready to disobey orders because she trusted him completely. One of the greatest lines and moments of season 2 is her running up the stairs in Tom Sawyer telling Casey “I trust Chuck”. But in season 3 at the most critical moment when Chuck needed her to trust him the most, she didn’t. She let the lies and manipulation of Shaw overwhelm her and told Chuck he was no longer to be trusted. That to me is regression. Real serious regression. Regression that get’s ignored and never dealt with. A big big mistake in my mind.

        As far as the end of season 2 I disagree with your characterization. Chuck’s quest to find Orion was not about putting aside his thoughts of Sarah, it was to “get this thing out of my head some day, I will and I will live the life that I want with the girl that I love. I won’t let this thing rob me of that. I won’t”. His quest was to get rid of the Intersect to remove the barrier of asset/handler so that he could have a real life with Sarah.

        As far as Colonel and them running, sure she was “one mission at a time” but we learned from the video logs that she had already admitted to herself that she loved him. She just didn’t know what to do about it. Well this is what she decided to do. Fight for him at the expense of committing treason. Where was that woman when Shaw was making the call after the five minutes were up and he was about to kill the man she loved? In that moment she did nothing. Again she regressed to the point that she failed her primary mission to protect the Intersect and the man she loved. She was fully prepared to watch him die, a much worse fate for him than the bunker at the end of First Kill. Again Sarah regresses because of the destructive and manipulative nature of her relationship with the show killer.

        Finally, the morning in Barstow. Sure she was exhausted but that morning is more about the rules she had lived by not applying anymore because they had gone rogue. Without those rules she could no longer fight her most definite feelings of love for the man beside her. The final barrier was gone and she was just as aggressive at realizing that fact as Chuck was. There was no longer any reason not to make love with the man who owned her heart. It was passion, exhaustion and a million other things but it most definitely was about love as well.

        So I just don’t see where the growth in Sarah is that you talk about. Throughout this season she makes mistake after mistake in her professional life as well as her private life. Even to the point in Other Guy AFTER she has decided to run with Chuck she makes serious mistakes as a spy that almost gets her killed. She trusts Shaw over Chuck and that comes after she has confessed her love for him. She is a terrible spy in AH and OG. That to me is regression. She just realized that her love for Chuck was too strong to ignore anymore once she sees that he is the true hero in AH. That is exactly where she was that morning in Barstow. The asset/handler barrier was gone as Chuck was an official spy and she couldn’t deny her love for him any longer. Casey’s confession didn’t change her mind, she had already decided to go with Chuck. It just confirmed she made the right choice and that he hadn’t changed as much as she thought. But even after that she fails at her job because she trusted the wrong man. She had regressed.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe and Uplink, I think a pretty fundamental part of this huge divide that exists between groups of fans comes down largely to how we see Sarah. Joe starts with a darker view of her than I ever had. I was totally like Uplink on this; I saw the tough spy who took doing the right thing, and trying to be a hero seriously. And I think Chuck melted her defenses in about 30 seconds after he met her; I always thought in the ballerina scene Sarah decided Chuck was possibly the first really good guy she had ever met. She took protecting him, and that “goodness” VERY seriously. Of course she didn’t really know quite how to deal with either Chuck himself, or the feelings she had for him sometimes (like most of the first two seasons!) but that conflict was one of the most appealing and charming aspects of the show for me.
        S3 is a re-invention of the show and main characters. Both Chuck and Sarah are less appealing through most of it.

        But I really, strongly think, my interpretation of events fits S1 and S2 better. While Joe and others have a view that works better for S3. Fortunately for me, I can (mostly) just throw out the misery arc; and the rest of the series completely fits my perception of events again.

  9. oldresorter says:

    I think far less thought went into writing the show than analyzing it here. More or less, Pink Slip was inserted to take two steps back. Paris was the payoff.

    Most each week a writer / team interpretted the steps along the way as best they could, trying to show a little progress, and a little more going backwards, so that by the time the hero ep aired, Chuck and Sarah were in pretty bad shape. The job of making all of those eps work together, was what I felt really failed. Had ANY of the thoughts that many of you write as interpretations actually been what was on the mind of the guys and gals writing, I agree, the season would have been cleaner, clearer, made more sense.

    Unfortunately, instead, it seemed like a random adventure each week, especially with Sarah and chuck, both seperate, and as a unit.

    Either way, getting back to tic tac, I liked the spy missions and the adventure much more in this ep. They spy stuff and adventure seemed much more of the show. Again, I like the parody part, and Stanley was my perfect type of Chuck antagonist.

    But … IMO, the big thing Chuck needed, in S3, in S4, 1, 2, or S5, was Chuck and Sarah spending as much time as possible on missions, either together or loosely together, and talking, communicating, fighting with each other, loving each other, arguing, saving one another, the whole nine yards. And having some fun, while having some trouble. When they stopped talking in S3 over the whole range of emotions that I enjoyed, that is when the show went spiraling downward.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree completely with that Jason. We have certainly spent far more time analyzing and discussing than the writers did writing. I think that’s common for hard core fans of any show. They are on tight schedules and budgets, and have to just get things done. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I think every show has the occasional dud episode or arc. I know I struggle keeping that in perspective sometimes, I’ve never seen a show I wasn’t occasionally disappointed in. I guess with Chuck it’s a combination of things that make it seem bigger; starting with the level of emotional investment I had, the long wait for the season, the fact that the very worst of the show is all clustered into a single long arc, and the fact that they undermined the very thing that was most important to me. It just all created a very dark chapter of the show for me.
      I wonder if I’d watched through it all later, quicker, like some more recent Chucksters have been able to do might have made a huge difference in how I perceive things.

      Of course I agree completely this was a pretty strong episode. The team dynamic worked well, Chuck and Sarah together got the bulk of the screen time, Fitzroy was a hoot, Sarah was a good spy, and Chuck was acting to save a friend. Apart from the greater context issues, it was nearly a perfect episode.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree Jason. One of this seasons biggest problems was they put the star player, their home run king, their all star quarterback on the bench for most of it. That being the Zach Yvonne chemistry. Whether is was spy related or relationship related that was the show’s biggest attraction. Everything else is just accessories. They are the heart of the show. And they cut that heart out for most of the season and substituted it with something incredibly unappealing. Its’ an unbelievable choice to make and to top it off the execution of that choice was a disaster. The show got good again but never fully recovered. They threw away what made this show and the central relationship, to use their term, epic and one of the best love stories ever for almost nothing in return. They spun their wheels for 13 episodes with minimal growth and a great deal of diminishing of what made it so great at one point.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        From a design perspective, you’ve hit on the big issue. I said during the Chuckpocalypse that for this show to be successful you needed a relationship between Chuck and Sarah. Cover, undercover under the cover, dating, shacked up but something had to be happening.

        Schwedak set out to have their nerdy hero story and stumbled on to something that was becoming as big or bigger than their main story and they just never realized or never acknowledged and for sure, never took advantage of it. The Chuck-Sarah relationship had become, if not the most then very nearly, the most important aspect of the show.

        Back to Tic Tac, we saw something akin to this relationship here with the two working in harmony and sharing with one another so this episode worked. But don’t worry they stick a knife in it in the next episode. Unbelievable.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree I think that was a lot of the problem. I dpn’t think they were prepared for the Zach/Yvonne chemistry to be so powerful. I mean they threw out an entire character and storyline in the pilot once they saw it. I’ve often wondered what influence Norman Buckley had on that decision. He won an Emmy for editing and it was in the edit room that they saw it.

        I just think it continued to grow so much that it over shadowed the heroes journey of the everyman they wanted to tell. They lost sight of it in season 3 and almost destroyed the show in doing so. Why would you ever want to keep Zach and Yvonne off screen together so often especially when it was substituted with Shaw. It boggles the mind.

      • atcDave says:

        It is worth remembering the show did still work for those viewers who were mostly interested in the “Heroes Journey” part of it. That was clearly the Show Runner’s focus, and we hear from many viewers who were completely happy with it.

        But of course as one who was far more interested in the romance from early S2 on (maybe even mid S1!) it was often a source of frustration to me when the romance was pushed aside for Chuck’s story and mythology. Not that I didn’t care about those parts, I did, but for me they were secondary stories.
        But I think TPTB were slow to recognize the romance had become center stage for many (most?) viewers.
        The other part of that is Sarah was easily the most popular character on the show. I remember the NBC forums periodically put up polls on “favorite character” that Sarah just always won. By a lot (usually around 60% of the vote, with Chuck getting around 30%). Yet the show remained more Chuck centered than I would have preferred to the end. Now I don’t want to make too big a thing of it; Sarah was far better served in the last two seasons, and the romance became a bigger focus of the show. No doubt, from 3.14 to the end, Chuck became more the show I wanted it to be and my complaints aren’t huge. But there always could have been more Sarah.
        The main arc of S3 just stands out as the period when the show runner’s view of the show was most completely at odds with my own. And its when it became very clear to me exactly where my interests differed from theirs.

  10. SarahSam says:

    Great post uplink. Couldn’t have said it better myself and oldresorter, spot on. That show would have been a sustainable recipe. Instead the misexecution of S3 lead to the cover our a– mode of S4 and the damage of S3 just made all the Charah seem hollow to me. Where was the love and acting upon it in S3? In those brief moments when they realized individually they were acting like fools? Oh, I forgot, the show is Chuck and Sarah never acknowledges her behavior including Shaw. People have always railed about Sarah sleeping with Shaw, the ‘virginal” model if you will. My problem was the implication of how Sarah behaved towards Chuck after she started sleeping with Shaw. I didn’t like what that said about her and we don’t have to do a list….more is coming. She once admitted Bryce was a mistake and she didn’t even know Chuck existed at that time. Her memory loss actually begins with Shaw. She knew how she behaved. She took off the earrings in LD. Wonder why? Tic-tac was the last vestige of the original Sarah Walker screaming to get out only to be buried again at the close of the episode.

    • uplink2 says:

      Oh come on, they had to. The big reveal is coming that will just tie all of this up in a perfect little package that will have us screaming that Josh was right “It was emotional and traumatic…. but it is gonna be great!”

      Oh wait. Was there a big reveal that mattered? That made it all worthwhile? Sadly no. The big reveal was such a dud because for me at least I could have cared less about it. It was so anticlimactic because for it to matter you had to care about Shaw’s story which I didn’t in the least. The only thing I cared about was when would he be gone. The fact Sarah shot his wife should have been revealed much earlier because by the time it was, it was meaningless and explained nothing.

  11. SarahSam says:

    The gist of it, framed nicely by atcDave’s comments, is what Bill at Work always stated, they never really wanted to tell the love story. Despite what Norman Buckley saw that caused the original concept to be shuttled, they never wanted to tell what played out on the screen. When you look at S3 and their original giddyness at making their S3 pitches and talking about Shaw with googly eyes, the romance was secondary to the journey. Dave is right, that journey would have been more compelling to most within the framework of the love story. I don’t need to analyze from writer’s structure or character metaphors. Just be consistent and complete what you’ve shown on the damn screen. Don’t try to walk the slippery slope and backslide on what you have already established for the characters, because when you do , what happens, happens, people call BS and they stop watching. You can make great television and be artistic. They had that once upon a time and they threw it away because they were arrogant enough to believe they knew better than what played out on the screen. It’s really that simple for me. Success can breed arrogance. You would think the fan’s campaign to save the show would have fostered a little humility. Not the case, only at the Con did they admit ” we learned not to put anything between them” . Why didn’t they know that? That’s what they had shown and as many have stated , to ultimately end up in the same place as ending S2? When I look at what they did to Sarah’s character to bolster Shaw and complete Chuck’s journey, is it a wonder I feel the way I do? That Sarah Walker, is owned by Yvonne and she alone breathed life into the character and transformed her from words on a script. You have to recognize there are times when the performer is the superior artist and go with it. You noticed it initially. I can’t help but feel there is some subconscious resentment that she “botched” the story they wanted to tell. LOL. Rant over.

    • atcDave says:

      Pretty good rant SS. As I usually say, I don’t quite feel all the anger about it you seem to, but I do agree with the analysis. I see S3 as a wasted opportunity for the reasons covered, and I’ll always be a little sad/angry about that, because they should have known better.
      But I am willing to give them a Mulligan, because I think they did eventually get it, mostly. Back half of S3 we saw more of Sarah; and Charah was handled better. S4 was quite well done on both counts. Even S5, apart from the ending (we’ll save that talk for another day) is more the show I wanted to see. There are always details I can nitpick, but I’m mostly pleased with the later seasons. That doesn’t ever fix S3, but I’m willing to give them a fresh start. Of course continuity wise it leaves me with two halves of a show that don’t quite connect up…

    • uplink2 says:

      Bravo SarahSam. Simply brilliant analysis and I can’t agree more. I think that is the jist of it in one well written paragraph. They wanted to tell the spy heroes story and a very large part of the audience wanted them to tell the love story. We wanted them to tell the love story because that is what we saw on screen and drew us to these characters in a way I had never experienced before. I agree completely with your statement about intent and metaphors. All of that is meaningless if it isn’t on screen. What was on screen for the first two seasons was an incredible love story wrapped up in a fun, campy, pop culture filled journey of an everyman we could identify with and a beautiful caring amazing woman with a broken past we wanted to see redeemed and given the life she deserved. The spy story was great but it was the love story that drove many of us to a level of passion for a TV show rarely seen.

      I agree that with the passion the fans showed they thought that would mean we would accept anything they did and for many in the fanbase that’s true. No matter what they showed us it was all good. But for a surprisingly large, to them at least, portion of the fanbase we weren’t buying it one bit. Our passion was based on love of the characters and honest storytelling. But what we got here was anything but. And you are right we called BS! My first response when I read the Sepinwall interview for the first time after I came on line was how incredibly arrogant Schwartz came off. His first answer set the tone. “We’re further along in the story.” basically says “screw you”. Nice commentary for the fans you are trying to do PR with because your grand story plan is failing miserably, failing so badly that even the folks who work for you knew it was failing. Fedak’s comment is probably the single most clueless comment I’ve ever read from a showrunner. Plus they kept making them. “We were amazed at how good they were together” or “we were surprised at the response to Phase 3”. Of course they were surprised because they didn’t realize what they had in Sarah and Yvonne. We see that clearly with how casually they damaged her character to tell their grand dark heroes story wrapped around an ill conceived character they couldn’t understand why people hated so passionately and didn’t simply accept what they were telling them instead of showing them.

      Of course they didn’t have to tell the love story, its their show but if they were going to tell the hero spy story they should have done a hell of a lot better job than they did. By wrapping it up in the disastrous LI story, their spy heroes story fails because they have damaged the characters so much to tell the LI story.

      It is just so sad when there were obviously thousands of different ways to tell both the spy story AND the love story, I mean they had done that well for two seasons. But instead this time they arrogantly failed at both and what was lost to tell that failed story never was fully recovered from. It simply got swept under the rug like so many of the dramatic moments they set up and walked away from.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I agree with everything said except the line that they can do what they want it’s their show. I’d say yes and no. If Chuck was some indie project, then yes they can really do whatever they like.

        But, unfortunately, Chuck was a network TV program that is driven by ratings and advertising revenue. As such it is really OUR show, unless they were looking for some new fanbase they didn’t find.

        It does bespeak of arrogance that they thought they could do…whatever and the fans would just accept it.

        You spoke earlier with respect to Sarah-Shaw that they had said in interviews that they were looking for a sort of symmetry. I don’t really let that bother me since everything else they said was as if they were in an alternate universe why would that be any different. They kept trying to explain what they thought was great without ever showing any of it on screen. What they thought and what we saw were two different things. Again, did they actually watch their own show?

  12. Arya's Prayers says:

    @Joe

    Your characterization of Sarah is remarkably similar to mine. Canon is riddled with retcons and – similarly – sometimes its as though they had three different versions of Sarah in mind (girl next door trapped by circumstance, conflicted professional and hardened bad ass) and selected one to suit a particular story rather than writing one continuous character evolution.

    My enduring perception of Sarah is that she was once just as hard core as Casey – the ‘wild card enforcer’. Maybe even as accomplished a seductress as Carina. The show – wisely – shied away from that aspect. (Both Casey and Carina have some elements of being cautionary tales although Casey is softened sometimes – to illustrate some of Sarah’s dilemmas without her having to endure them on screen.) A liar since childhood – canon fluctuates from implying that she ran off with dad for a life of crime and implying that she dabbled in that life. Either way, NOT a sympathetic character on her surface to be sure.

    But something about this goofy but sweet guy she met started to break her down and made her question everything.

    As for the rest:
    I will concede the point – that particular Sarah story is not fun or light nor were they really committed enough to tackle it head on. They relied on subtext and implied wrongdoings to dance around those elements.

    For me, PART of the fun was the juxtaposition of the two worlds. Having spent some time working in ‘retail hell’ I appreciated the absurdity of such a man trying to deal with that nonsense by day and hardened killers by night.

    The other thing I chose to see in Sarah was her insecurity with Chuck. I chose to see it because it wasn’t really explicitly portrayed. One of the big complaints about S3 was overusing archetypes to establish characterizations and tell part of a story. From Chuck’s side of things, his perception of Sarah is of an untouchable warrior goddess from his comic books and video games. And he is convinced he’ll never be good enough for her. What nerd herder would be good enough for an international woman of intrigue? Right?

    What they don’t give enough attention to IMO is that Sarah doesn’t consider herself good enough for Chuck either but for the opposite reasons. The same realities of ‘spy life’ that they tend to gloss over make her say: what international woman of intrigue would be good enough for a sweet, charming, foolishly brave nerd herder?

    On one hand, I personally like these types of stories and can stand on the archetypal story alone – i.e. woman with dark past warms to good guy, happily ever after, etc. and overlook some poor storytelling in places along the way.

    On the other hand, I wish they had been more capable of writing Sarah as a character along those lines rather than ONLY focusing on Chuck’s ‘quarter life crisis’ most of the time.

    My biggest gripe about S3 is the comment – that I’ve learned about second hand on these threads – that Shaw was ‘the type of guy Sarah would ordinarily fall in love with’ (paraphrasing here – the thought isn’t even worth validating the quote). In my mind, this is not only untrue it mischaracterizes Sarah. She wouldn’t fall in love with Shaw because her pre-Chuck self wasn’t capable of love. The idea that Chuck ‘changed her’ and now she can ‘fall for Shaw’ contradicts another story element…

    The underplayed aspect of Ring1 and Pink Slip was how utterly devastated Sarah was that Chuck ‘chose’ the spy life over her (despite the foolishness of her plan) AND – probably moreso – that the ‘real life’ she (thought she) was ready for but couldn’t quite find the words or right time to express was ripped away from her (this may be the bigger issue because Chuck does a fair job of eventually explaining himself). The archetype story here is that she’s hurt so she ‘regresses’.

    So…if she regresses, she’s no longer likely to welcome ‘love’ into her life – even if Chuck were ‘unchanged’ – so anything with Shaw would have to be superficial, based on convenience, an attempt to wall herself off from the man who hurt her, etc.

    So the biggest misstep (IMO) with Shaw was trying to make him ‘endearing’ or the relationship with Sarah a ‘genuine’ one. There’s any number of reasons for someone – especially someone who’s more than a little emotionally unstable – to find themselves in an unhealthy or ill-advised relationship (they set up several possibles – see above).

    As far as Sarah worrying over losing the man she fell in love with to the life she can’t escape – well that’s actually a pretty good story in concept. Even her failure to trust Chuck in certain situations is indicative of her disdain for the elements of herself that she loathes born from similar situations in her past.

    (Which is another reason she would never ‘love’ Shaw – if she couldn’t love Chuck if he became more like her why is someone who is already ‘like her’ her perfect match?)

    Here in Tic Tac I think they underplayed Sarah’s reaction to seeing Chuck nearly end an enemy agent as she had just (approvingly) witnessed Casey doing to Keller. Yes, she should have also considered the fact that she was able to talk him down. But that also reinforces the idea that he’s doing all of this ‘for her’. That has to be horrifying.

    Double that for a red test next week (looking forward to those discussions).

    Layered together, her self-loathing, fear that Chuck’s ‘essence’ will be destroyed and her reluctance to let go of the hurt from Prague (another interpretation is that if Chuck ‘did it for her’ then she is the instrument of his destruction) all makes for one hell of a mess. And always keep in mind that Sarah really, really sucks at this.

    I think she can still be an amazing, capable, strong woman and still be allowed to be a bit of an idiot when it comes to her own feelings based on her history.

    I understand the perception that the writers had set pieces in mind and wrote to achieve them but I don’t know how else you attempt to write something with an arc to it or go about ‘achieving your vision’ unless you have that vision.

    I feel like I’m exhibiting apologist tendencies but I can SEE what I think they were trying to do. And it could have been something approaching ‘epic’ if
    (a) they were capable of selling it more convincingly and
    (b) the shift in tone required to sell it had been something their fan base wanted

    But it was a big change in tone from S1/2 that many were not prepared to accept. Shaw as an unhealthy relationship would have been somewhat acceptable to me with good enough explanation but trying to sell it as legitimate is the biggest breakdown in my eyes. (So I choose to perceive it as Sarah hiding from some combination of the thoughts above.) Even some of the other bad decisions by Sarah I can forgive as part of her emotional immaturity (requires buy in of her darker prior persona – at least to some extent).

    In a lot of ways the S1/2 character dynamics weren’t really sustainable. It was a game of capture the flag and Chuck was the flag. (I contend that the Intersect is the greatest MacGuffin of all time because of the way it resides WITHIN one if the characters!) The ‘Matrix’ homage gets Chuck into the game but they have to address the difficulties that creates. The ‘star crossed’ dynamic between Chuck and Sarah still exists but arguably the stakes are higher now because Chuck has options he didn’t have before. If he succeeds he has some control over his fate and removes an arbitrary barrier between him and Sarah but its still an imperfect solution for a lot of reasons (Sarah’s misgivings, the fact they may not work directly together, etc.) and with Chuck no longer being just the ‘protected asset’ while Sarah just wants to keep him safe and whole, of course there will be some conflict between them (should have been less than we got but…)

    I swear one day I’m going to diagram the various conflicting motivations and perceptions – it’s a god awful mess. But I still wish the Schwedak had tried to understand it better before charging ahead.

    Ready – Fire – Aim.

    And maybe that’s part of the problem. It’s just inherently incredibly messy. Even without Shaw (and Hannah). And the underlying thought process that even approaches making some kind of sense requires it to go way darker than before. (Which, in turn, makes people like Joe and I reassess entire characterizations.)

    Aaaaand – full circle. Ta-dah!

    • atcDave says:

      Thoughtful comments as always AP. I do wish they’d made time to explore Sarah’s views a little more. We’ll be looking at a piece of fan fiction next week that does a better job of it.

      You know I’m the first to say I’m not nuts about the darker tone; but I do think if it had been presented in a more rational manner, without the LIs, it likely would have been fine. Especially if some attention had really been paid to exactly how Sarah was changing. And that just had to mean more Chuck/Sarah interaction. Easily one of my favorite things in the first two seasons was Sarah coaching and counseling Chuck through his terrifying new world. They not only needed to make more of that, but reverse the process some too. Let us see some of those moral issues Chuck is actually better at than Sarah, and let them grow together into a more complete whole. Suffering in silence, separately, was not very satisfying television.
      But I think the real villain in this was the television serial model that keeps main characters apart until they miraculously come together in the end. In a 90 minute movie that may be fine. But with so much back and forth, so much wt/wt, they left their characters, especially Sarah, opaque until everything was all better.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Well Dave, you know I have a superpower that allows me to see the show I want within the show I got – so I’ve got that going for me. 🙂

        I do also appreciate the fact that most people want to actually see the intended story – oh, I don’t know maybe PORTRAYED on screen? Case in point – I always said Will Turner gets to return to Elizabeth Swan after ten years of fulfilling his duties and her remaining faithful to him in the original PotC trilogy despite some conflicts with canon (the ship must have a captain). That creative team was honest enough – or revisionist enough depending on your degree of cynicism – to later say that was their intention but they left too much in the cutting room floor. In a nutshell – they botched it.

        I think the separation/estrangement between C&S was meant to allow for the fact that Sarah had some self-loathing stuff to work out and wasn’t really equipped to be Chuck’s ‘rock’ in this scenario (i.e. him becoming a spy – and all the horrible things that implies for her). The only purpose of the LI’s is to maintain that distance while Chuck and Sarah work out independently that what they want is each other – trouble is they never clearly articulated the issues or their resolution – you really have to squint to see them. It’s too complicated.

        I’ve also never been a fan of that trope – the you have to date the wrong girl/guy to appreciate the right one – except maybe ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ which is its own cheesy brand of awesomeness. Is it a Schwartz thing? I never saw a second of Gossip Girl, O.C., Carrie Diaries (though was happy to see AnnaSophia Robb got a lead role – I think she’s very talented) or Hart of Dixie (which I have heard good things about).

        But during this arc it becomes repetitive and dare I say boring? ‘I see what you’re doing get on with it already!’?

        I don’t believe Shaw as a ‘love’ interest for the reasons I mentioned – more to do with Sarah’s character than Shaw’s character, portrayal or chemistry with Sarah/Yvonne. More of Sarah hiding from herself, withdrawing, regressing – however you want to describe it. But she could have built up that wall without a new LI.

        Here it’s just so derivative of previous events: Channah is Chuck thinking Sarah’s into the new guy so he runs to the new girl (instead of not trusting his instincts and believing Sarah’s lie when he runs to Lou) and Sarah is hurt by perceiving that Chuck is running to Lou/Hannah – Louannah – so she turns to Shaw (instead of Lou makes her entertain the idea of Bryce / another fake breakup makes her entertain the idea of Cole). We’ve seen it before just not chained together like this – and it hurt to watch before but it was always brief and one-sided before. So while all the ‘dark spy’ realities angst is a constant thrum of discord between our alpha couple that we have to cope with for multiple eps we reeeeeally didn’t need the additional prolonged LI chain of agony on top of it and often ENABLED by it. ‘Misery arc’ is an apt description because they use spy misery to enable relationship misery to drive spy misery in a vicious circle.

        Although I think the most … fulfilling … way from a fan’s POV was more C/S interaction – seriously, I love watching them together in INTERVIEWS why not put them on screen together at every opportunity? – it wasn’t the only way.

        Yvonne has proven time and again that she can do more with a look or a gesture than anyone I can think of. It just requires two things – a scenario that has a clear implication for the character and the necessary screen time to let her do her thing.

        I know we needed her ‘red test’ to set up the Shaw turn but they could have done better than having her NARRATE it.

        Maybe it could have worked if Chuck was voicing concerns to maybe an increasingly sympathetic Casey while Sarah was voicing hers (just not to Shaw – geeeeeez – maybe Ellie in Sarah-super-cryptic speak?) they could have portrayed the fact that Chuck trying to be a spy for her and Sarah trying to be a real person for him put them at cross purposes. They were often able to do these types of ‘parallel’ scenes very well before.

        Sarah has always been more than a little bit of a mystery and a lot goes on in her head but this is where the story really wasted some of its potential in not devoting enough time to demonstrating it or demonstrating it more clearly / effectively.

        I agree that it was a serial TV approach that contrived the separation but the spy stuff alone is pretty angsty. The ‘other lovers’ thing was too much to pile on and made it hard to look for the underlying spy stuff issues. It was just an excuse to maintain the separation while they tried to focus on Chuck’s POV while neglecting Sarah’s.

        As I’ve said – and people are probably sick of my diatribes – there’s a way that makes almost everything we saw make some degree of sense but its very character and internal thought process driven and they just relied on us to connect too many dots for ourselves on a story we weren’t all in on anyway.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you do a good job of making the opaque a little more transparent.

        But yeah the love triangles are definitely a Josh Schwartz signature special. And I know we’ve all said it before; but the LIs were worse than boring, I think they completely undermined whatever legitimate story might have been there. They were a distraction, and they made both main characters look kind of pathetic, and less sympathetic. But I think the distraction part of that is the most relevant issue here. It overwhelmed many other facets of the story including the spy story itself. And it left us with enduring images like Sarah running to the man who was turning Chuck into the monster she feared. That is the part I call fatally flawed. There’s really no way to make it work. I’m unenthusiastic about any estrangement, but I can imagine it being made to work. The LIs I cannot.

      • uplink2 says:

        AP I totally agree with you about the idea of just giving Yvonne an honest situation and letting her do her thing. So much of what’s missing here could have been far better demonstrated by the best actor on the show that relying too heavily on the worst actor on the show. But as I see it the problem with that is that they had no interest in telling Sarah’s story. In 3.0 we got a Casey specific episode, two Awesome specific episodes, but no Sarah specific episode. They didn’t want to tell the Sarah story and therefore the love story, they wanted to tell the hero story and all Sarah was, was simply the prize for the conquering hero. We get no Sarah redemption because they simply didn’t feel the need or desire for it. Hell look at the final season, Fedak said they almost didn’t have time for Sarah’s mom but we got 4 episodes of douchebag Morgansect and one episode of Shaw abusing Sarah. I said often the the most important thing I wanted in season 5 was Sarah’s mom and I bet if you did a poll that would have been number one with the majority of fans. But yet we almost didn’t get it. Plus we never really get to see Sarah’s redemption in the finale, it’s sort of, maybe, kind of implied, I guess but we never really see it.

        I think it’s pretty clear that to Schwedak the show was Chuck’s story and to a very large portion of the fanbase, myself included, we were much more interested in Sarah’s journey. In part because the actor playing her was the most talented on a show full of very good actors. But she simply is in another league.

        I will say that having incredibly divisive and hated character is a Schwartz trait along with not realizing how hated they were. In the OC he had a character Oliver that was despised. I was a fan of the show and hated the guy. He lasted only 6 episodes and the reaction was very negative. But a difference there was that the female lead he was after, Marissa, wasn’t a very likable character either and when they ended up killing her off a couple of seasons later no one was that bothered by it, at least I wasn’t. I preferred some of the other LI’s for Ryan all along.

        But one last point, your mentioning of the Red Test being necessary for the Shaw turn. As I mentioned up thread that big reveal that was supposed to tie all of this LI/spy story together into a cohesive resolution and heroes moment flopped big time because no one cared anymore. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t want to know more about Shaw’s story, I wanted him gone. I think the whole Chuck has to kill idea is a good one but wrapping it up in Sarah’s Red test being Shaw’s wife’s killer was a complete let down. It wasn’t a big shocking reveal, it was irrelevant and I couldn’t have cared less. Whatever it took to get him to go away was fine by me. They held out that reveal too long until it was past the point anyone cared. IMO it should have been used as early as OA as a way to set up Shaw’s plan for revenge and to steal the Intersect for the Ring. Oh wait was the Ring even involved in season 3?

        Anyway don’t ever think folks don’t appreciate your diatribes. I know I certainly do and you make me think quite a bit. I think you made a very good point in that to sell this darker story they needed to go more all in and they were afraid to commit to it. It was all about getting to 3.13 and having Other Guy be the inverse of Pink Slip. But ultimately that failed because they/we got nowhere. The poorly crafted journey added nothing IMO and I can appreciate Honeymooners even more if I simply ignore it. The journey didn’t enhance DYLM, if anything it diminished it.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink your comments on the Red Test is exactly what I mean by a distraction. If they had dumped the LI angle I can imagine a big exciting reveal as Shaw thirst for revenge turns to Sarah. But the way it played, it was more like a sigh of relief because Shaw could no longer be a romantic rival.

      • oldresorter says:

        Oddly – Sarah’s reaction around Shaw changed very little, even later in S3 and in S5, or his around her. Both seemed disgusted in every scene they shared.

    • uplink2 says:

      Well as usual AP you gave me a lot to think about. But I’ll agree with you about one things certainly, it was incredibly messy. But in the end it’s all just too hard. I shouldn’t have to shovel through so much excrement to find the essence of the story they were telling. Because the excrement never goes away. It’s always there clouding the story underneath. As I and SS said above, intent and metaphor mean nothing if it isn’t on screen. Knowing what they thought Shaw was doesn’t make me hate him any less in part because they simply never showed it. Plus using your analysis if they wrote a show where Sarah does fall for her “type” in Shaw, I would have turned it off before the credits even rolled and never watched again. In a way wasn’t that what Undercovers was supposed to be and it lasted what 6 episodes?

      One of the biggest issues is virtually all of what they said they were doing in their PR simply isn’t on screen. The plan, the tight underlying arc was left on the table in the writers room but we were supposed to understand it anyway.

      As I’ve said a darker redemption type of story is something I love and could have loved here but we simply didn’t get it. There was little growth, none for the relationship and Sarah both and in the end the lynch pin of the spy story fell flatter than Brandon Routh’s acting. Ready Fire Aim indeed. What we ended up getting was simply 13 episodes that brought us back to where we started with really damaged characters that never dealt with any or the misery they caused or were victims of. Are Chuck and Sarah more ready for DYLM at the end versus the beginning? No they’re not. The ending wasn’t worth the journey because mainly they did too much damage with not enough redemption.

      • oldresorter says:

        It sure ‘felt’ like the only explanation Sarah gave was I loved you from the start. I seem to recall your’re still my Chuck in there somewhere too. And maybe the ‘thankyou’ she said to Casey? I suppose? Baffling? I don’t think too much time really was spent on making the whole thing make sense. It allows anyone to say nearly anything to make sense of it, because little was said. No wonder near everyone has their own interpretation of what was going on in s3.

        When I described Chuck s1/s2 to someone, my take was the goofiest group of people ever assembled on a TV show, paired with a spy who looks like a teen girl (in the orange orange pigtails) and is more like a cartoon character, who can do no wrong, yet for some reason is head over heels over this gangly, unattractive, hapless goof, with a huge heart. By s3, Sarah looked like a working girl in a hotel lobby, and was about as emotionally stable as a patient at the local ward, while Chuck was so all over the map that I have not idea, 1/3 James Bond, 1/3 his old self, and 1/3 some complete total loser.

        Now had the whole thing been wrapped up in some uber cool manner, such that 13 episodes of the misery made complete sense, based on dialogue and actions from the characters, maybe it could have worked. Instead, it almost seemed like the 13 eps were dropped, and the two leads said, enough, lets become a couple, because … no real reason is needed.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Thanks Uplink. But I think it goes beyond this idea of Sarah’s ‘type’. And I think I have to ignore the PR comments about Shaw being somehow right for Sarah under any scenario for my own sanity.

        In my opinion, that comment shows a complete lack of understanding of the character they created and – more importantly – what Yvonne evolved her into. They may have had an idea in the writting sessions for the pilot that Sarah was into spy-guys and that explained the one-and-a-half degrees of separation between Chuck/Sarah/Bryce – I mean really what are the odds?

        But then Sarah evolved into someone who – although she was once involved with a spy-guy – didn’t really understand being ‘in love’ until Chuck. Maybe I’m over-romanticizing and I’m definitely cherry picking my ret-cons but I see Sarah as very emotionally immature due to being ostracized as a teen and thrown into the espionage world. Bryce may have seemed like love – especially because she trusted him as a partner – but emotionally it was very superficial.

        So when we encounter Shaw – under no circumstances can I perceive him as a LOVE interest. She’s not remotely emotionally invested in him because she knows he’s just like Bryce. Worse he is that plus on a crusade of revenge.

        Now if they intended him to be Chuck-lite they failed there too. Shaw is cold blooded – you can’t get more anti-Chuck than that. Sarah can’t conceivably see all the spy stuff she hates about herself emerging in Chuck and punish Chuck for it while admiring the same things in Shaw. Never mind that even if Shaw were the best of all of them Sarah is dealing with so much personal baggage right now she has withdrawn from the idea of being a ‘real person’ so she goes back to thinking she’s not worthy of such a guy.

        It comes back to the idea of hiding in an empty relationship so she doesn’t have to deal with Chuck but they really didn’t have a consistent explanation for any of it. So my biggest issue is that even with all these permutations (I just realized what I did there – LOL) there is no conceivable combination in my mind where Sarah is actually ‘falling in love with’ Shaw. So that’s oddly comforting.

        I hate the idea of people in loveless relationships for wrong reasons but that’s my impression of Sarah/Shaw.

        Now a key question you often pose:
        Did they earn DYLM?

        Let me leverage some of oldresorters points to help with this:
        I loved you from the start (my favorite ret-con – zero sarcasm – I love it)
        You’re still my Chuck
        Thank you to Casey after ‘I killed the mole’
        Emotional instability

        So somewhere between Tic Tac and the end of American Hero Sarah has made some kind of compromise with herself. (I am assuming here that Sarah is packing to leave with Chuck before Casey’s visit rather than just skipping town – I don’t recall a need for Sarah to be leaving Burbank for DC urgently at the same time).

        Chuck loves her and wants to be with her. Made a ‘mistake’ in Prague (are they taking a vacation here or going permanently AWOL again – which would be just as foolish as when Sarah suggested it – I always assumed it was part of Chuck’s week off to get his head together…) and leaves her to decide.

        I always assumed that Sarah finally works out in her head that Chuck isn’t perfect but he still wants her despite her feeling unworthy of it. As always – we are not privy to Sarah’s thought process.

        When Casey corrects Sarah’s assumption about the red test FINALLY Sarah is back. The burden is lifted and she feels much more confident in her decision. Some perceive that she didn’t decide to go with Chuck until learning this fact – we’ll never know – again we are not privy to her thought process.

        I prefer to think that she’s been chewing on this all season and finally decides that if Chuck – knowing what he now knows about the spy life – still wants her then maybe she’s not ‘unworthy’. And despite what she thinks Chuck has done to be with her there is still enough left of the good man he is that she doesn’t feel responsible for destroying him.

        I think it’s key that she comes to this realization before Chuck ‘kills’ Shaw because it makes it easier to reconcile the fact that he did it even though it was clearly a last resort.

        Now the biggest problem? NONE of this is portrayed on screen. They allow the dots to define the line and we’re meant to follow along despite the false trails and convoluted motivations that they only imply.

        It relies on a perception that Sarah is an absolute emotional disaster and she has been struggling with these things all season long to get to a place where she can just allow Chuck to love her despite the fact that she would advise him not to.

        Is that growth? Did they show it? (No) Should we have to dig through layers and layers to come up with this answer? (No) Is this enough redemption for Sarah? …

        I think that depends upon how far you think she had fallen in her spy life before Chuck and how low you think her opinion is of herself. That’s why I think a ‘full dark’ spy story is the only way this arc makes sense but:
        (a) the adolescent ‘quarter life crisis’-obsessed creative team can’t pull that story off
        (b) as usual, Sarah’s story is secondary to Chuck’s and is mostly implied rather than shown even though in this case I think it is the more important journey
        (c) most people who liked S1/2 didn’t want a ‘seedy underbelly of the spy world’ story

        I think my tendency to extract the story I want from the story I got may be in overdrive here but that’s what I see.

      • atcDave says:

        One thing a lot of this does help with is making Sarah’s journey seem like less of an aberration. It makes this part of the story a little less of a black hole. It does NOT make me ever want to watch this part of the story again; all this talk actually makes what was shown seem even MORE defective. (Like its yet another layer of failure). But it does help the front part and back part of a very enjoyable television show connect up a little better.

      • uplink2 says:

        @AP Great comments. I will add that IMO, and from reports the writers/staff of the show confirmed it, Sarah IS packing to leave to meet Chuck. The focus on the “safe/comfortable” pic from Seduction at the start of that scene confirms it. In the scene from the end of Final Exam with Shaw in her hotel, (again throwing up in my mouth a little bit) it isn’t there. So for her to place it back on her night stand confirms that she is leaving with Chuck even before Casey arrives. He just confirms that she made the right choice and Chuck hadn’t changed as much as she feared. I had read somewhere that someone from the show said she made up her mind in Castle after the kiss.

        But I agree with you, there is no universe in which Sarah/Shaw works without an almost complete destruction of the Sarah character. Schwartz’s comment about why Shaw and not Chuck being in part because of the whole protection/bodyguard aspect to her job compromising her ability to make tough decisions is complete negated by the end of Beard when she fails that job horribly.

        As was mentioned earlier in these discussions, if you can’t tell the story properly you shouldn’t tell it at all. Too much is left on the writers white board and none of what they are telling the viewers is actually on screen. None of the descriptions of Shaw they used ever were really shown, in fact it was the direct opposite and the fans were crying BS. When we get to Hero I’m going to enjoy commenting about the fact they called him a “true American Hero” three times and he never was ever shown to be one even once.

      • Dave says:

        And another thing…

        I was doing a little re-watch last night and watched Crown Vic and Undercover Lover. In Crown Vic she trusts Chuck even when she thinks he screwed up and in UL she says to Chuck when he tells her about Ilsa “I can’t imagine what kind of girl would fall for a guy like Casey” or should we say Shaw?

        Even as early as season one she didn’t see herself with a spy/killer. She would of had to know Chuck was nothing like that. I mean was Sarah watching the show? We know TPTB weren’t watching. Somebody needed to watch.

        Also, once TPTB put Chuck and Sarah in that motel room and then 30 mins later gazing lovingly at each other assuring each other that it was real, how could they ever expect people to enjoy 3.01-3.11? Still confused here in Missouri.

      • atcDave says:

        “And another thing…”

        Great transition Dave! I just love how this still makes so many of us so fired up and excited even after so much time.

        I think for many of us that the seeds of failure for S3 were planted in Colonel. Perhaps TPTB didn’t recognize what they’d done. Perhaps, when they got their renewal they just reverted to an old outline without any thought to how things were looking onscreen. But I think for a sizable number of us, “it is real” was simply incompatible with another round of LIs. Problems, yes. But loosing faith in each other and heading different directions, no.

      • JC says:

        I’m going to put on my extremely cynical hat here. Sarah’s thoughts, motivations, past were kept vague because she was an easy way to generate drama. And not just in the show but with the fan base. Need someone to push Chuck in a certain direction. Sarah reacts to something he did and don’t worry if it doesn’t match up with any previous actions of hers we have the “You know how I grew up” line to not explain it. The same with a dramatic story, just dig something up from her past. Never mind that her history is so convoluted it would make the Doctor cry because you know she was a spy.

        Don’t get me wrong this led to some great stories and moments I love but as the show went on it started to drag the show down with it. Once Sarah was really involved in a real relationship and eventually married it became harder to buy into the no explanation or talking part of her character.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        atcDave – that was my motivation – to make things connect up in a way that made sense (even if only to me)

        To get there I had to put a ridiculous (and probably unhealthy) amount of thought into it and the result was the things I’ve described and little of it is explicitly supported by canon. I can appreciate some folks not wanting to take that journey because it affects perceptions of earlier, happier experiences with the show but I think it yields a through line that makes more sense and portrays Sarah as less of an observer and instead working through a lot of her own issues. I can understand it still not making it worth suffering through again because even if it had been executed to perfection it still would have been a miserable experience for C&S. Arguably necessary – had they dealt with certain issues honestly – but still miserable.

        It is the seeds of a good story – which may be why TPTB were so excited about it – it’s just too different from what we loved about S1/2 and they weren’t committed enough / capable enough to pull it off convincingly.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m still not completely sold on calling it the seeds of a great story, it’s certainly darker than I care for. And as we were discussing impressions of Sarah the other day, I still don’t buy the darker interpretation as consistent with S1/S2 canon. I think the darker S3 Sarah is a Retcon of sorts, that was sort of retconed away again later. So I remain more sold on, and more comfortable with a more heroic image from the start. Although I completely buy she often saw herself negatively, and agree Casey and Carina both are cautionary tales of extreme agent behaviors; I think Sarah always represented a more moderate middle ground between them. Although I think a good case can be made for making her more like Casey than Carina; and no doubt she was much like Casey by reputation. But I think we saw far more conscience and compassion from her, even before Chuck had worked his magic on her. And I’ve always put a lot of stock in the fact that when Chuck claimed Sarah was different, to Carina, Carina yielded the point.
        Now I don’t mean to say she didn’t have a pretty cold and hard side to her, we clearly saw that on occasion. But while that sort of character had taken over Casey’s whole psyche when we met him; I think Sarah still had the ability to take it on and off. Like we saw in her early dealings with Chuck or in Baby, she still had a conscience and the desire to do right regardless of orders. Presumably her youth was still an advantage, and too many years doing what she was doing would have made her more like Casey, but she wasn’t there yet. Chuck saved her from that fate.
        And perhaps we could say it was that never quite silenced conscience that made such a mess of her in S3. I like the idea she was coming to terms with her emotions and re-evaluating her own morality. I think leaving us with only the barest glimpses of what was going on her head is one of the great shortcomings of the misery arc. But as always, I have to add the disclaimer, no amount of exposition and soul searching would have made Sham work.

      • uplink2 says:

        AP, I think the problem for me is, why does it have to be so hard to find a way for it to make sense? To me that is a major failing on the part of the writers. You are right, they wouldn’t commit to this storyline fully and even if they had they were not capable of pulling it off. In fact they never were. Overarching season long storylines were not their strength. i.e. Mary. Shorter 3-5 episodes were fine. Truth through Nemesis, the opening of season 2, The search for Orion, Volkoff all are much tighter and better constructed.

        I certainly lean towards Dave’s approach to Sarah more and I think that is supported by canon. Schwedak even said they changed the Sarah/darker storyline after Helicopter because they didn’t think folks wanted to see that direction. I also think that is why they deleted the scene in Crown Vic which was possibly the worst depiction of the Sarah character until season 3.

        The problem is they wanted to have it both ways. Now at times that worked well by skirting the darker issues but in season 3 they had to either tell that story properly or don’t tell it at all. The walk down the middle failed miserably because the cheap easy way out of it, a ridiculous and totally unnecessary trip back to the empty LI well, failed miserably. On no level whatsoever does Sarah/Shaw work based on how it was shown. I would also agree with Dave there is no universe out there where it would. That’s why Schwedak’s comments fail so miserably and come off as either arrogant, clueless or hubris.

        Sarah/Shaw requires the destruction of the Sarah character we had known and loved and even when they did it, it still failed. There are many reasons that season 3 was so divisive and failed for so many from a forced and contrived beginning to their concept to and equally forced and contrived resolution. It was in trouble right from the beginning in Pink Slip. But I think the major reason is still Sarah/Shaw. The crux of the spy story was wrapped around a doomed pairing that is possibly the biggest mistake they ever made. Under no circumstances does it work. Plus it damages the main attraction for the show way to severely and never provides her with any real redemption other than the contrived nature of its 3.13 and we are putting them back together even if they don’t deserve it. We were back to exactly where we started and nothing about that journey made me think for one minute that they were more ready or more deserving of DYLM than they were before it started.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        @atcDave

        That Shaw is the enduring memory of this period is the crime of it all.

        When I say ‘seeds of a good story’ I’m referring more to Sarah dealing with the shadows of her past and Chuck dealing with the same realities as a neophyte. (Despite some of the ‘more heroic’ expressed reasons I cling to the perception that Chuck chose to be a spy to be in the same ‘plane’ as Sarah and remove the obstacles to them being together – never thinking she might quit ‘the life’ for him – given the contradictory stories from Bryce and Sarah in ‘Ring-1’ that we never saw Sarah clarify I have to think Chuck was inclined to believe Sarah was leaving.)

        I like your characterization as much as the one I propose. She clearly is not as ‘far gone’ as Casey or Carina – or, if she was something has snapped her back. I agree that her reputation – and general badassery in ‘Baby’ – indicates a tendency toward being more like Casey and they are generally careful to only imply what she may have done in her past via the stories of other spies. Meeting Chuck did save her – I think it’s clear from the beginning that while she is assigned to protect the Intersect she chooses to protect Chuck. Although it takes her a while to understand what that means for a ‘real person’ having walled that part of her away a long time ago.

        I do wish we had seen more of what was going on in Sarah’s head – if only to see Yvonne work the character. It should have been more about them ‘meeting in the middle’ than passing each other on opposite tracks or being at cross purposes. Overall as much as I love the show ‘Chuck’ I would have loved to have seen the show ‘Sarah’!

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with all of that AP, including that definition of “seeds”. It certainly could have been an awesome story that way. And I think we’re all guilty of spending too much time on this!

        Of course one big problem with the idea of getting on the same plane as Sarah, is they then have him be the first to chase after another interest. Single most damaging act to Chuck’s character in the whole run of the series. And talk about trying to have it both ways; we’re coming up on American Hero where Chuck will claim he’s accomplished what he wanted all along, that they’re peers now and can be together. (errr, explain Hannah to me again…)
        Chuck’s “plan” at this point is exactly what many of us had expected it to be, but the journey we were shown is not compatable with his plan!

      • uplink2 says:

        You know maybe I should have waited to do my re-watch I finally have started for the first time since the finale. I’m up through Cougars, my goal is to skip from Ring to Honeymooners to be there when we make it. But damn when you watch that fantastic episode and all of this early season 2 arc even with the Bryce LI angst, its amazing when this show was good it was really really good. I don’t have to sweep away piles and piles of excrement to get the story they were telling and telling well. It’s clear, its honest, it respects the characters and the guest stars work. Thinking about the where we are at in the formal rewatch watching episodes like Cougars just really makes what we are talking about here even more difficult to stomach. It really did become an inferior show in season 3.

      • atcDave says:

        But there’s no denying when Chuck was good, it was great!

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I agree. Cougars is possibly Ali’s best episode. No wonder it was the one Yvonne tweeted that she was watching with her parents a few months ago.

    • joe says:

      Wonderful comment, Arya. You’re absolutely right – this *is* pretty much the way I see it.

      What they don’t give enough attention to IMO is that Sarah doesn’t consider herself good enough for Chuck either but for the opposite reasons.

      Let me add a nuance here, though. This is difficult to put to words without insulting the character, but it’s a crude archetype I’m describing. Once Sarah meets Chuck (and I’m thinking we can pinpoint it to the ballerina scene in the pilot) she starts thinking of herself as a fallen woman. She sells her talents, not to do the right thing (which Chuck does for free, btw), but because she can. Carina makes it clear that the various and assorted thrills are obvious perks of the position. In The Ring she even says that she never wanted to “save the world.”

      She does not ever want Chuck to be like her and the people she knows either. She wants to be like him and his friends and family. She never really does love Shaw; he just represents that world and the people with whom she’s always been around.

      • atcDave says:

        As always Joe, I think this is way too simple and too critical. I don’t believe Sarah is thinking much about herself at all in the Pilot. The very next week she gives Chuck the responsibilities and heroes lecture. In Wookiee we learn some how she applies that to herself and how she’s different from how Carina describes herself. I think the end of that episode (1.04) is the first time we can legitimately assume any introspection on her part. And while I think it’s fair to say she may see herself as unworthy to be in Chuck’s world, she certainly has a number of doubts and insecurities; but I don’t believe it ever rises to the level of defining or dominating her until S3. She has a rather healthy level of shame associated with her father’s activities and scolds her father about his stolen money.
        I think we frequently, seriously over-state how damaged or broken she is in this early time frame. She seems to have some more serious emotional/openness baggage (and enough self awareness to admit to this as far back as the Pilot), and a background that leaves her with regrets and doubts. Yet she is sure enough of her own values and priorities early in the series. We may safely say Chuck causes her to re-evaluate much of this. But again, part of what is so appealing about the character is that she does re-evaluate, and she draws good conclusions.
        Much of how this affects her in S3 can be argued as reasonable. From being broken by another abandonment in her life, to trying to come to terms with a new emotional awareness. But there is so much wrong with the execution and depiction of it all. Much of this is simply far too weighty for an action/comedy. Not only were many of us simply not interested in watching such a dark story; but I think the show runners themselves were not really prepared to invest anything in the telling of this story. I think they did a far better job with Sarah’s growth issues after 3.13 than they did earlier. But then they gave us small moments of growth that were easier to present in the show’s eclectic format and easier to accept for those of us who were not interested in a prolonged broken phase (and that includes the show runners).

      • Much of Sarah’s story was a big retcon over several seasons, since the showrunners originally planned for this to be about Chuck, not C&S. In the beginning I saw the badass agent, without much of a life or much baggage. In Cougars we see her early life and the con artistry, and it’s here we can see that she may see herself as less than perfect but not necessarily unworthy of Chuck.
        The big retcon was the Red Test, turning her from a reformed liar to an unreformed murderer. While that one does more to explain the unworthiness angle, it comes kind of late. We see her looking morose all season long without ever understanding why she’s so down on Chuck being a spy. If they’d put that reveal into the story earlier, after Chuck had gotten himself irrevocably stuck in the job, then his attempts with her help to avoid this train bearing down on him would have made a good story. As it is he falls off the Red Test cliff and all she says is “I knew it was there all along but never told you.” Just saying that in Prague would have turned him around, but they tied it into the Shaw-Eve tangle, where it didn’t need to be.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Joe – oh, I think I’m completely aligned with you – even with your delicately termed ‘nuance’. 😉

        Thing is, I wasn’t always of that opinion. I considered S1/2 to be more ‘Get Smart’ than ‘Jane Bond’. Then the way I mentally processed S3 forced my hand and pushed me all the way to the ‘La Femme Nikita’ end of the spectrum (the original – can’t speak to the new version).

        If ‘I’ve loved you since I met you’ and ‘I’ve done all this horrible, horrible stuff’ – and not just a little bit either – she’s among the best in the biz, Langston Graham’s wild card enforcer – if those are both true, I had to apply my own personal ret-con to everything.

        “Fallen woman” has a particular connotation so I would agree but state it as “Lost Soul”. The “Jane Bond” idea raises a comparison issue I can’t stand – if James Bond is a suave ladies man why would anyone consider Carina (for example) a slut? I think the Bond perception is too lenient and the ‘slut’ perception for a generic female agent is too harsh. They’re both master manipulators.

        As I said, they were wise not to fixate on these elements but they were never far from the story – the deleted scene in Crown Vic gives a perception of Sarah that was WAY outside everyone’s comfort zone as early as S1. But they didn’t leave it alone entirely with Ilsa’s mission in the next episode.

        Not everyone likes that kind of show/story but it worked for S1/2 because Chuck had one foot in two worlds and the BuyMore had enough whimsy to balance the darkness they didn’t sidestep. Not everyone likes that kind of character either but if anyone could portray it and have you still love her despite being (or BECAUSE she’s) so broken they definitely had the right actress.

        S3 crushed that S1/2 balance for me when Sarah – or whatever she’s going by – emerges from Gilles’ pool shortly after Chuck’s ‘you have no idea what I gave up for this’ at the training facility. You could ignore it or downplay it at your own discretion but once Chuck had two feet in the spy world there was nothing left to balance the darkness for quite a while. And the rest of S3 cracked the door a bit more on what it really means to be a spy in the universe they had created (they never fling it fully open).

        I once considered Carina and Casey to be cautionary tales – standing in for sex and violence respectively – for Sarah. Guard rails if you will. But I think it’s fair to think that at one time or another Sarah was pretty far down one or both of those spectrums. (I like to think that once she earned enough ‘professional currency’ she negotiated her way out of the seduction side at the cost of becoming the ‘enforcer’ – but really, is one an obvious choice over the other?)

        We see that young Sarah (I refuse to call her ‘Sam’) wanted nothing but ‘adventures with Dad’ and when Graham offers her a life of adventure she’s still wired that way. Darth Vader voice: ‘join me and I will complete your training…’

        Two father figures that failed her as a ‘real person’ but made her into the ‘perfect agent’. (I used to consider Gary Cole’s portrayal as Sarah’s dad as one of likeable con-man then realized how foolish that was – he’s a con-man you’re supposed to think he’s likeable!!)

        So I can see your Carina adrenaline junkie comparison though I’ve always been fascinated by Carina as a cautionary tale. She’s fantastic. And a force of nature. And I think she might be a little bit psychotic. And I think she hates most men on principle for some unknown reason more than a little bit.

        So if Carina and Casey are warnings about what Sarah could become – or even once was – I’ve always contended that somehow Ellie became what Sarah wanted to be.

        As atcDave points out, the first three episodes Sarah is played a bit colder than Wookie. Maybe they figured out this evolution was happening organically. I like to think that Sarah was a bit off balance from the events that preceded the pilot and was starting to question some things before she met Chuck. Then she felt a way she really didn’t understand or have any real context for – the ballerina is probably the tipping point but then she fights it every step of the way – and then she considered him a bit of a curiosity for a long time.

        We disagree on the level of self-awareness / reflection going on beneath the surface but I think A reason it impacts her more in S3 is that the curtain is being pulled back. The man she loves is about to learn all her dirty little secrets. Not that he doesn’t already have some idea but he’ll no longer be able to dismiss the magnitude of it.

        I do agree that it was too weighty for the genre-busting tone they had established and if their plan was to reinvent the story as a darker one they couldn’t bring themselves to fully commit to it. Ultimately, I think the characterization I’ve described works better for a novel than a visual medium because so much is internalized. But I have faith that Yvonne could have sold it if they had clearly defined that course.

        I like the idea of a by-all-appearances strong, capable, amazing woman who is secretly incredibly emotionally immature. That characterization even helps frame some of her less-than-rational reactions and decisions.

        I don’t even want to try to sway anyone to my way of thinking because it is a pretty rough origin story for Sarah and makes the spy side very dark indeed – but I do like the idea that such a person could learn to love and be loved.

        Awwwww – I’m such a sap!

      • joe says:

        Yeah, but you’re my kind of sap, Arya.

        I like the idea of Casey and Carina being “guardrails.” Perhaps they are the limits of Sarah’s capabilities, until Chuck comes along, that is.

        [And as an aside, there’s one scene right at the beginning of S5 that shows me Sarah and Chuck together are bigger – strange word, that – now that they are together. It’s the opening scene of Zoom with billionaires C&S on the balcony, overlooking the gardens and gorgeous bluff like the King and Queen of the kingdom.]

        Chuck and his “always do the right thing” ways is a wrecking ball for Sarah’s world. He really does have to tear it down. It’s true that in The Baby we see an earlier Agent Walker who kills a banquet table-full of men before stopping to consider the presence of a baby, so pre-Chuck Sarah is not without a heart. She just effectively buries it, of course. It’s not until that ballerina scene that Sarah even starts to think there’s something beyond “the mission”, and Chuck’s role is to do more than just free that heart. He has to redeem her in her own mind.

        But not in this episode. Here, Sarah thinks it’s her fault that Chuck is now capable of murder – she’s seen it in his eyes. And it’s confirmed in the next. Instead of Chuck saving her, she’s pulled him down, and for her, that’s the worst thing imaginable. Sarah’s almost desperate to leave before she does more damage.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        “Sarah thinks it’s her fault that Chuck is now capable of murder – she’s seen it in his eyes. And it’s confirmed in the next. Instead of Chuck saving her, she’s pulled him down, and for her, that’s the worst thing imaginable. Sarah’s almost desperate to leave before she does more damage.”

        THIS.

        I’ve always thought that’s why she gets on that plane.

        I’m curious about next week’s discussion and I’ll restate it then but: when Sarah finds out she has to ‘administer’ Chuck’s red test – sure she’s appalled – but don’t you think there’s a part of her that just has to know how much damage she has done?

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        joe – I love that opening image of Zoom – one possible ‘happily ever after’ for them…

    • Arya, you have pretty much exactly described what I’m trying to do with nine2five! I’ve often said it’s like they were trying to write Hamlet without being Shakespeare. (Not that I’m claiming to be Shakespeare here, either, he wrote Hamlet in a week!) The biggest failing of all is that everything they needed to do, they could have done with all the elements they had already created in the show and then abandoned.
      It doesn’t help that much of what people love about Sarah is stuff that she’s trying to grow away from to be a real girl, so the character comes off as weaker. I liked how the same sort of personal appeal that fails in the Beard succeeds in the Tooth.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Assuming they did have this grand epic idea then their reach definitely FAR exceeded their grasp.

        And I think your other statement is the most frustrating part – they DID have everything they needed – all the pieces were in place. I think Sarah Walker is an incredibly fascinating character – and can be as complicated or ‘dark’ as you want to interpret her – they just completely underutilized her.

        How about this for an AU – The Schwedak have a fantastic, epic, well-plotted idea for a darker spy turn for Chuck and they pitch it to NBC. They want to move it to 10:00 to address some if the darker spy stuff to get it dealt with so they can move the romance forward. They even come up with a great tag line ‘No more Mr. Nice Spy’ good enough to be on your or my DVD cover one find day.

        But NBC is putting Leno on five nights a week and wants to keep their lead in for Heroes (those two things were going on around that time, right?). So NBC gives them an 11th hour mandate to simplify the story and sanitize it for 8pm. The Schwedak offer up an alternative, more family friendly story where Sarah and Chuck are helping each other deal with his spy training but it only runs seven episodes and they need at least ten more for the follow up story arc.

        The new NBC programming director (the first guy already got fired) wants something more edgy and knows a guy who knows a guy and throws a couple of guest stars into the mix. Oh, and he wants something to get the fans worked up over going into the Olympic break…

        I’d prefer to blame a faceless weenie at the network. Given the epic cluster-f going on at NBC, I wonder…

        And, I had no idea Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in a week. That’s amazing when you hear stories of creative inspiration like that.

      • He was the writer and an actor and I believe a part owner. He apparently could think and write in Iambic Pentameter. It may not have been only a week, but it was certainly a lot less than nine2five is taking me! Those scriptwriters had similar time frames, and lacking talent of Shakespeare’s magnitude, they had to fall back on tropes. A lot of the meaning and depth in S3 comes more from the tropes than from the men who used them, I think.

      • atcDave says:

        Except they had no idea Mask would be a break episode. Originally 3.01 was supposed to run in March, after the Olympics. They found out in December, as they were nearing the end of shooting the misery arc, that they would be on the air two months sooner. I believe it was CF who mentioned before it even ran that Mask was not the ideal break episode.

        By Comic Con the die had been cast. It is possible the network tampered some, but the S3 story does seem to fit with JS’s MO. It is always possible that some of the more sophisticated story you’ve described was intended at some point. But I’m betting not. They always had a pretty fast, breezy style. It works when the show is fun and funny. It does not work so well for dark and nuanced.

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Interesting Dave – I was only being partly facetious but it is interesting to learn some if these behind the scenes happenings.

        I was a religious Monday nighter but not otherwise tied into the fandom at the time. In real time I just watched and enjoyed. Funny (peculiar not haha) that I became obsessed with understanding the characters and motivations AFTER the show finished its run.

        Maybe that’s why I have some degree of clinical detachment from some of the poor statements made by the show runners and the overall impressions of some of the missteps…

      • Arya's Prayers says:

        Mark – the mantra of faint praise in our house after watching a mediocre movie is ‘Well – at least it was original’

        Regarding tropes: I recently lamented that ‘everything’ was a combination of Shakespeare, Greek myths, Bible stories and possibly Arthurian legends with topical MacGuffins. Not true or provable at least – and not that I can di better – but it always pains me when someone tries to tell a story by stereotype. Especially when they’ve proven they can do better.

      • The only reason to use tropes is to have them in the viewers mind as you go beyond them. Using a trope just to save yourself steps is lazy and bad writing.
        In the case of S3 I think of people like Shaw as a metaphor, not a trope. As a spy or a LI he’s pretty poor, but as a metaphor for the spy world he works, much the way those dotted lines work that they expected us to fill in. Once you see it and go to that trouble filling in those lines it works, but they shouldn’t have expected that of anyone.

      • atcDave says:

        I absolutely believe being detached from some of the BTS stuff, interviews, spoilers and damage control would have been a good way to lower a blood pressure. TPTB had a knack for roiling the waters.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave I would agree with that from personal experience. Hey I hated this arc as it aired and as I’ve said many times almost left the show for good after Fake Name aired. But after staying and becoming involved in the fanbase months later I began to read up on all of the happenings and was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe what I was reading in the Sepinwall Mask damage control interview. It was truly astounding how bad they come across in that interview. Schwartz was an arrogant jerk and Fedak was a clueless idiot. And yet they thought that would help and for some maybe it did but I realized I’m glad I didn’t know about it at the time as the lack of faith that interview give me about TPTB might have been enough to tip the scales to a different result after FN.

        Then when reading the great Mo Ryan interview where she asks the exact questions I wanted answered and I agree with her position a great deal, it just goes to show how out of touch they were with a major part of their fanbase.

  13. Dave says:

    I have read all the posts about Sarah regressing, turning back to what she was before Chuck. If so, wouldn’t she have been like the GBSM in 4.09? Didn’t casey say she was acting like a spy he used to know before Chuck?

    Was just watching that episode last night and it hit me. I don’t buy the regression theories because she certainly was no wildcard enforcer. I think they just made our primary carriers stupid to make their lackluster guest star look better in comparison and that failed miserably.

  14. First Impression says:

    Any episode that explores Casey’s background seems to rank high with me. So Casey is Alexander Coburn and now Tic Tac has defected to the Ring and is trying to recruit Casey again. With Casey being the ultimate soldier, there had to be a good reason for betraying his country and the love of your life works fine for Chuck and for me.  

    Having the Laudonal travel from level 15 of subterranean security to Casey to “Planet of the Apes” to Morgan to Chuck was a nice thread. Giving Col. Keller a Tic Tac instead of the Laudonal just put a smile on my face.

    Casey and Chuck had several heart-to-heart talks that showed just how strong their bond has become.  Even Sarah and Chuck had some decent dialogue.  I also like the revelation of Casey’s daughter.  Overall, I really liked this episode and I’m looking forward to seeing how Casey gets back into good standing with Beckman.  

    • atcDave says:

      This is definitely one of the stronger episodes of this season! I particularly like Fitzroy… And Sarah having Casey’s back!

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

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