Chuck Versus The Final Exam (3.11)

Exam_0100I don’t think it’s a secret that I consider this episode a favorite.  It’s where the momentum for the end of the season started, and where at long last the underlying themes of the season were openly addressed and the story could move forward.  Finally Chuck is confronted with the ugly truth that his principles and his ambitions may be incompatible, and the choice will be the most important one he will ever make.  Finally Sarah must confront the possibility that her influence on Chuck may lead to his downfall, that she has set Chuck on a journey whose inevitable end she can’t bear to think about, but can’t forget either.  And there is nothing she can do to stop it.  Join me to look once again at the pivotal episode of season 3, Chuck Versus The Final Exam, after the jump.

This isn’t likely to be a long review or recap.  I’ve written about this one at some length, so you can read that review here.  And if you haven’t you should read Joe’s definitive treatise on what we learn about Sarah at the end of this episode, Saving Agent Walker.   But like the episode I want to get right to the point.  This is the episode where Chuck and Sarah let each other down.  Wait you ask, didn’t Chuck let Sarah down in Prague when he left her at the train station to become  spy?  Didn’t Sarah let Chuck down when she went running to that sadistic Jerk Shaw and tell him her real name?  Haven’t they continually let each other down this season by not talking or not being there for each other the way they had in the past?  No.  They haven’t let each other down in the same way we are about to see.  While it’s true they haven’t been there for each other that is because the nature of their relationship has changed.  Sarah can’t treat Chuck like a pet anymore, and Chuck can’t keep trying to force Sarah to choose him over who she is.  While the love has always been there the relationship has always been dysfunctional and possessive on both parts.  Each has seen something of themselves in the other’s eyes and has sought to become more like that image.  Chuck has worked to become the hero and savior Sarah sees and Sarah has tried to open up to the world and trust, or perhaps even try to love.  Each has remained true to that image and with some difficulty has allowed the other to take their private journey without holding them back for their own sake.

And so Sarah let Chuck grow up and venture into the spy world without her because it is what he wanted, and Chuck let Sarah find companionship and trust with another more suitable mate.  Until now.

Sarah betrayed Chuck and Chuck betrayed Sarah.  Or at least they saw it that way.

As much as Sarah has depended on Chuck to anchor her in the real world and to give her spy-life meaning Chuck has depended on Sarah to anchor him in the spy-life, to show him that you can make a difference and do the right thing despite the compromises and sacrifices that are asked of you.  She’d shown him that you don’t have to turn into John Casey to be a spy, you can still care for and fight for the people you love.  That is why Sarah’s Mauser Moment was so devastating for Chuck.  He knew Sarah had killed people, he’d seen her shoot people, but Sarah Walker didn’t shoot unarmed and defenseless people.  We know that in reality Mauser wasn’t unarmed.  He was the weapon, a cocked gun pointed at Chuck’s head, and he needed to be eliminated, hard as it was for her to do so.  Chuck eventually understood that spies, even unarmed ones, can still be deadly when he burned Manoosh.  But Chuck relied on Sarah not crossing those lines that take away your humanity, that she could navigate that world without losing herself completely to it, and that she could show him how.  And now the only spy Chuck truly trusts with his best interests is telling him to kill a man in cold blood.

The price of his ambition is his humanity, and Sarah is the one telling him that everything he’s worked for and dreamed of can be his, for the cost of another man’s life.  And it’s all a lie.  Sarah has allowed herself to be used against Chuck, to convince him that he not only can, but should kill in cold blood.  Her feelings for Chuck have trapped her into a mission where the only way she can be there to protect him is to use his feelings for her against him, and you see a bit of Sarah die in that restaurant with Chuck, and you can’t help but feel he sees it too.  A little piece of his Sarah is gone.

And Sarah’s Chuck let her down.  He was not the same guy she fell for, and it’s all her fault.  He was supposed to be her shot at redemption, but instead she dragged him down to her degraded moral state.  She feels toxic and unworthy of love or happiness because of Chuck and what he did for her when he is supposed to give her hope and happiness and a refuge from the cold and dark of the spy world, but now he embodies all of that, because of her and her presence in his life.

While we know Chuck isn’t lost to Sarah she can’t see past her own misery, which is why she sits in her room, declining Chuck’s calls and re-living the worst night of her life, until now.  And we now see why Sarah seems lost to Chuck and why he needs to finally take control of his life for the sake of everyone around him.

We know the conflict, we know the struggles, and now we know the way forward for Chuck and Sarah, and painful as it can be to see Sarah at her Nadir and Chuck unable to help, we know that isn’t a permanent state of affairs.  Chuck has a destiny linked to Sarah’s.  Sarah needs to be Saved, and Chuck is now the man for the job.

~ Ernie

Still-from-Chuck-vs-The-Seduction-chuck-2484202-1500-2250P.S.  I don’t think its passing should go un-noticed or un-mourned.  Say good-bye to the Orange Orange and its associated uniform.  Like the Weinerliscious before it we have seen the last of the O-O.  No more cover jobs for Sarah.


The Only Time I’ll See You

This one will be a little different. There’s no recapitulation of Chuck vs. The Final Exam here and I’m certainly not going to try to convince you of some highfalutin’ deconstruction of this episode. Instead, all I can is tell you that, after re-watching for the – oh – sixth time or so, and after three years of thinking on it, this time was different. I can’t say that I understand. I can say something else, though.

This episode affected me. It never did before. It does now.

Before you read on, please hit the play button on that song. It’s the final piece used in Chuck vs. The Final Exam and it’s going to be hard to understand what I’m trying to say without it. Maybe with it, too.

Something funny happens to me at about the 2:08 mark. The song goes from being a soft, acoustic prayer to something that I think of as a power-ballad. That’s not to say it becomes a pop-tune. Not at all. If fact, as soon as I use a technical term like “power-ballad,” I realize I’ve missed something.

2:08 is the point where I join in, hitting the air-cymbals of the imaginary drum kit sitting where my desk usually is. It’s the point where I’m once again playing my Les Paul in the band I haven’t sung with in 15 years.

But that’s not all of it. It’s the moment when a person who loves music the way I do forgets that there is a wall between the artist who wrote it and himself and it’s the instant when he becomes the song. I’m literally lost in the music at 2:08; I am in a different place and I am different.

Even if you love music in a way that’s different from me, you may have experienced that same thing those times when something clicks. You’re almost forced to say “I get it” with conviction.

Yeah, so when I first watched this episode I had an inkling of the storm that was coming in the fandom. This one was not going to be liked. IIRC, I wrote on this blog myself that I had pretty much capitulated and given up on S3 (about two episodes later than everyone else, it seemed). It felt like everything I thought I knew about Chuck and Sarah was wrong and that redemption for them was not possible. Hoping that they would actually get together seemed like a fool’s errand and maybe not even worth the wait. Not if they were going to be different characters, it wasn’t.

I gotta say that sometime later, I said in a podcast I had a feeling season 3 would someday be my favorite. Even as I spoke the words it seemed unlikely, and really, in the three years since Final Exam first aired, nothing seemed to change in my opinion much. So I came to the uneasy conclusion that this was a necessary, if incomprehensible, interlude in the journey of my favorite characters, perhaps one not to dwell on.

But it happened this time. There came a point, just like in the music, when “I got it.” No, I agree with Dave. This episode is not entertaining; it’s heart-wrenching. Despite the comedic moments, it’s not funny. It’s not meant to be. The intent of Chuck vs. The Final Exam isn’t to make you satisfied or uplifted or energized, all those things we’ve come to experience and expect from watching this show. You are supposed to mourn and maybe even want to cry.

Chuck dies in this episode. Even more than in The Ring pt. 2, Chuck dies, overpowered by something much bigger than he is, and Sarah is left to mourn with us. The light goes out in her eyes and we, the fans, are supposed to lose all hope that it will ever come back.

We don’t even know, yet, that this is a tale of salvation – here, at the end of Chuck vs. The Final Exam, we are not left with that hope, because we don’t even know yet who it is who will be saved. Chuck? Sarah? both of them and Casey together? If you’re a real purest, you’ll know that Morgan, Devon and Ellie are also in peril and can’t be forgotten. Not by Chuck.

She used to love him

She used to love him

I felt three years ago that this, Chuck and Sarah refusing or unable to repair the damage done in Prague, was a story that had gone on too long. Maybe it really was just a timing thing, brought on by the weeks-long Olympics interruption. That, in turn, was caused by the scheduling change that started the season in January instead of the originally intended March. It was all a cascade of events, much bigger than anticipated.

Which sounds now, to my ears, like a description of the story itself. Even more-so, it’s an apt description of my reaction to it. I don’t think I was ready for it three years ago. Now, at this late date, I’m very much surprised at the depth of emotions and the very power I’m seeing in Final Exam. I know some of you disagree and even laugh at the idea. That’s okay. It’s the 2:08 mark and I’m carried away. It seems unimportant, right now, that this might be a very private thing.

I know I’ll see you
In my sleep

Yeah, I know what’s coming in Chuck’s apartment and in Paris and I know how soon. You see, the song is not about death, not even about the death of a romance. The one thing that’s not dead is the love. The song is only a good-bye.

What’s about to happen and what I know already just didn’t matter this time around. It’s only important for me to see every second of those episodes again. I’ve been set up perfectly, and it’s going to be that good.

– joe


Obviously we’re all here because we have a fondness for Chuck and so in some ways this will be like preaching to the choir. Chuck is a good show. It has heart, it has laughs and it has love. But when it nears its end (as in season finales and sometimes beginning) something special happens. It’s as if it becomes an entirely new show, usually far more vibrant in every aspect of its storytelling. The march to Other Guy is no exception and it starts with Final Exam. Ernie went over most of the salient points above, Joe, the emotion. Initially I was as high as cloud nine upon watching this episode, it was that good. At least to me. And while this episode doesn’t hold up nearly as well as others (the ploys are a little too on the nose at fifteenth watch), I still have fond feelings for it. Partly because I can empathize with the depth of emotion. I feel like we’ve gone through the wringer in just this one season (macrocosm) and this episode (micro) certainly didn’t let up. You can clearly see and feel the raw emotion behind all the goings on in the episode, that is its true strength. Kudos to both Zac and Yvonne for their performances. “In My Sleep” by Austin Hartley Leonard just caps it.

It’s not a coincidence that the episode was titled “Final Exam.” For a couple of reasons: first being they truly did feel this would be it for the show (can never forget how many series finales these guys were pushed into–a strength and a weakness). Second, Chuck failed his first exam when he let himself be seduced into the spy life and subsequently left his humanity for a cheeseball eating–girlfriend dumping after sex and in front of her parents–jerk to his family–who only cared about being a spy. This is his final test.

They tried to trick us (lots of trickery in this episode). They tried to make us believe the test was about Chuck’s future as a spy:

Sarah: “The final part of your mission is to kill him”
Chuck: “I can’t do that.”
Sarah: “Then you won’t become a spy.”
Chuck: “But then we couldn’t…”
Sarah: “No, probably not.”

Even this sounds familiar:

Chuck: “Sarah when all this started, I didn’t think I would have a chance to ever become a real spy. But if I can’t do this–then, then what would I be?”
Sarah: “Then you’d be Chuck and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Chuck failed that test the first time when he left her in that train station in Prague. He failed that test again when he went down the rabbit hole “Living a Lie,” leaving her anchorless only to hit rock bottom by Beard. This time? Well this time it’s different. He fails this and he loses her forever. Not necessarily to Shaw, but Chuck is quite literally being tested for her love, for her humanity. When last we spoke, I said Sarah needed saving, well this begins the ultimate test to her humanity. I think if she were to truly believe that she’s lost Chuck, if he were unable to convince her otherwise, “Sarah Walker” would have been gone forever and only the facade (Sam?) would remain, forever. No real emotions, certainly no love and the “real girl” would be vanished for an empty existence. Sad right? The stakes are high for Chuck, and he is tested (hence final exam!–see what I did there 😉 ).

Chuck is stuck between a rock and a hard place, the stupid stick seems rampant and Kobayashi Maru is out to get him but Casey said it best (in season 4, Balcony): “all you need’s the girl.”

It may seem as if Chuck failed the exam at the end of this episode (because Sarah thinks she has lost him, and may in fact have lost herself in the process), it may even seem that Sarah failed Chuck at the end as well (by not seeing deeper into the man that she loves and knowing on the inside he would never!), it may even seem as if they’ve failed each other and themselves but that’s just another trick. Listen to message in the song*:
“I know you will be
Holding me in my sleep.”

This time Chuck will grab ahold of love and damn the world. Question is, can he convince her his heart is true? Will Sarah let herself believe? All these are asked and answered in American Hero where it’s “Go, don’t stop.” Can’t wait.

~ Faith

*if you haven’t read them yet, I recommend them. Part one & two


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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21 Responses to Chuck Versus The Final Exam (3.11)

  1. resaw says:

    Ernie, Joe, Faith: thank you. I had to read your links to previous comments about this episode and to the discussion about the songs. Really great thoughts. Profound, even.

    Somewhere I read that, no matter the message, television turns everything on it into entertainment. The discussion here suggests that is not necessarily the case. Yes, there were entertaining points, but there is so much heartbreak, so much existential crisis, and hidden away somewhere so much hope, that it transcends mere entertainment.

    In preparation for these re-watches, I always try to watch the episode again (I’m sure I’ve seen season 3 at least a half-dozen times) and I write notes and ask questions along the way in hopes of having something to say in this forum. Well, so far I’ve written some stuff, but I don’t think I have much left to say, except for maybe this:

    At the end, Shaw asks Sarah if she still loves Chuck. Sarah says, “No, not anymore. It’s just, he’s not going to be be the same person again.” When I watched this and heard these words, I put the these words in Shaw’s mind: “Mission accomplished.” Through most of season 3 I thought of Shaw as someone who, in addition to the usual moral scarring of spy life, because he lost his wife, is somewhat deadened emotionally. That’s why Routh plays Shaw so woodenly. Always low key. Even his expressions of interest in Sarah seemed to be uninspired, unenthusiastic and unromantic. However, I guess I thought he came by those feelings for Sarah, no matter how subdued, reasonably authentically. I didn’t aspire nasty intentions to him. Now, however, I wonder (and maybe I’m coming to this thought quite late compared to the rest on this forum) if Shaw had this “sub-mission” in play from quite early on to separate Sarah from Chuck. He recognized their mutual attachment and attraction to each other, their history, despite the state of affairs that had been going on throughout most of the season, and he knew that he had to break them up. Even if Shaw did not know that Sarah and Chuck were about to kiss at the stake out, he was all about interfering in that relationship. Having Sarah ask Chuck to kill someone would put the final nail in the coffin that was Chuck-and-Sarah.

    This episode is one of the reasons why I found season 3 to be perhaps my favourite of the five seasons we got. So much was at stake. It was a critical period. It was more than WT/WT. A story was being told, lives were being changed, and choices were being made. Thanks again for providing a reason to revisit this episode.

    • joe says:

      That’s a good observation, Resaw. I never really thought much in terms of Shaw’s “sub-missions”, but separating Chuck from Sarah is clearly one of them (he’s always got an angle, doesn’t he). In fact, I believe Shaw says so from the beginning – he blames Sarah for standing in the way of Chuck’s becoming a spy. He blames Chuck’s inability to flash reliably on his emotions – for Sarah. No emotions, no problems, so Routh has to play it wooden.

      C&S believe it, too, and that’s the real problem – their gullibility.

      • garnet says:

        Resaw, I agree with your thoughts about Shaw having a “sub-mission” and I think the only problem I have is that it wasn’t really well played as a “sub-mission”. He was there to build Chuck into an Agent, and to fight the Ring, but he had the (in my mind) difficult task of breaking the relationship between Chuck and Sarah. The fact it would leave him with a girlfriend, if it all worked out, is beyond lucky for him. I agree that Chuck and Sarah were too willing to trust Shaw (and Sarah as a conman’s daughter–shame on you). As well as they were too quick to consider giving up on each other….well the scene at the end with Sarah in the cab back in DC is heartbreaking.

        I think what I felt at the time was a complete lack of trust that TPTB would bring us to a satisfactory solution to the scenerio they had contrived before the axe came down ( in retrospect, I believe my fears were quite justified as 5.13 was not enough payoff for a brutal treatment of Sarah, and to a lesser degree Chuck.)

    • Ernie Davis says:

      To me this episode was a highlight essentially because I felt there was so much at stake and that each of our heroes (even Casey) were at a crossroads. Now granted we knew (even then) what the choices would be and where they’d lead, but it was still exciting watching it unfold.

      • resaw says:

        Yes, I agree with that, Ernie. It was all on the line, and that made it exceptionally captivating.

        Garnet, I have listened to Ernie and others who have seen a lot of good in the finale, 5.13, but I’m with you in not finding it satisfactory, or satisfying. I have no choice but to live with it, though, and appreciate that the finale provided the opportunity for lots of discussion and some awfully good fanfiction that took the finale and ran with it in various creative ways. I’m definitely pining for a Chuck movie or variation thereof, hopefully not too far in the future.

      • garnet says:

        I agree that the finale has left me with a great desire to see a movie or “something”, I have come to terms with it, but I will never suggest it was my prefered ending.

        I remember my thoughts at the time of Final Exam were focused on whether or not they would actually get our couple together or leave us high and dry. I think the ride was worth it (3.1-3.13) in the end, but I can think of different ways of telling the story that I would have liked even better.

        I am still left with a bit of a bad taste over Sarah’s reaction the the Final exam. I get that it was awful for her, and she is having trouble reliving her Red Test, but really… She virtually forced Chuck (at Shaw’s behest) to kill the mole, and then can’t face what he has become (or maybe what she has done) so she cuts him off and plans to leave with Shaw, who is much worse, and a few boards short of a pallet… It seems as if they have used up their monthly quota of angst in about 2 scenes!

  2. Joel says:

    I think the whole idea of “red tests” is just awful, even for Chuck’s unrealistic spy world. I’ll probably save it for the alternatives thread though.

    Decent episode overall, but nothing great.

    The editing in the bathroom knife fight really bothers me.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      As far as the various MacGuffin’s and contrivances of the Chuck “spy world” go I think the red test is a minor offender. The tranq guns are a far bigger contrivance in that they let Chuck shoot people without actually shooting people and either disable instantly or take time depending on the plot requirements, so if you can square that circle the red test shouldn’t be too tough.

      I think of it this way, the red test is essentially the assassin entrance exam. If you are capable of and willing to kill an unknown possibly unarmed person at a specific time and place on orders alone you enter the ranks of the spy-world elite (tribute to Bond). Chuck was being groomed for the elite. Perhaps Sarah should have suspected (though it seems Shaw and Beckman knew enough to keep Sarah out of the loop till it was too late to stop it) but from her back-story we know she was a spy for years before her red test an probably (perhaps naively) believed the same would be true of Chuck.

      It makes an effective plot device because it simultaneously does several things. First it serves to highlight the clash of Chuck’s principles with his ambitions. He has not allowed the spy world to compromise him (though he’s come close) throughout his journey. When it seems he is on the verge of realizing all his ambitions (be a spy, live a life of adventure, excitement and travel with the girl of his dreams) he is forced to decide if it is worth abandoning his principles, of giving up his soul. It also serves to show how Shaw has pushed and manipulated both Chuck and Sarah to make Chuck into something he does not want to be, to essentially triumph over Chuck by making him choose the dark side over his conscience and his principles. This foreshadows Shaw’s own turn to the dark side. Remember Shaw lost his wife to a red test, but was perfectly ready to have someone else kill another agent rather than learn from his loss. In addition it is Shaw’s attempt to force Sarah to give up on Chuck by putting her in the role of handler one last time to give an order Chuck would only consider coming from her, aware that she will consider herself responsible for Chuck’s decision if he kills. One of the big things I’ve seen this time around is that Shaw is not portrayed as a nice guy, but intentionally manipulative and cruel at times. It is an aspect that in retrospect they should have spent more time with and delved into. He also seems to have an obsession about breaking Chuck and Sarah apart, whether it is about jealousy and his own loss or an obsessive need to regain what Chuck and Sarah have by putting himself in Chuck’s place I’m not sure, but there is something there.

      Lastly the red test serves a final function that gives full expression to Sarah’s journey and what she seeks with Chuck. As Joe often says (as have I) Sarah’s story is about redemption, and that is put in context by seeing her initial downfall, and placing in present context by having her take responsibility for Chuck’s downfall. Her nadir comes with the realization that rather than gain redemption through and with Chuck she has condemned him to her own form of hell.

      • I also view the Red Test as a way of Shaw punishing both Chuck and Sarah for their actions in the previous episode, when they both betrayed the spy world for the sake of a personal relationship (with Casey), so he (the spy world he represents) right away smacks them both down for their presumption.

    • Joel says:

      I don’t mind contrivances, and even Chuck’s plot holes and continuity errors don’t bother me that much. The red test gets to me because it seems so profoundly wrong to send someone who’s never killed anyone on a cold-blood assassination. Maybe you can say it’s just Shaw and not Chuckverse-CIA’s usual thing, but that makes Sarah’s action with him a lot worse if so.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        About that. First look at Sarah’s experience and surprise at Chuck’s red test coming at the conclusion of his training. That would indicate that the CIA’s common practice is to take the most promising agents after they’ve had a few years in the field and either order them, or offer them, the opportunity to move up to the elite if they are willing to kill on orders. We know however that Chuck is being groomed for immediate entry into the ranks of the elite, so his red test comes immediately. My take on it is that Shaw pushed for it and Beckman agreed. Throughout the season Shaw has tried to push Chuck to “pull the trigger” and become a spy like him, remorseless. Throughout the show Chuck has succeeded as a spy by not following the “standard spy model”, so the red test is a good plot point to test and see if Chuck can avoid that fate.

      • joe says:

        I think there’s one more aspect to this too, Ernie: Sarah was in on that meeting with Shaw and Beckman. You gotta wonder what was going on in her head when she realized Chuck was being pushed up the ladder.

        I’m guessing she was all over the map, emotionally. This was what Chuck wanted, and proof that he was seen as excelling, if only in Shaw’s estimation, backed up by Beckman. That must have brought on some feeling of pride in her. But then, it also meant that Chuck was becoming exactly the kind of guy she had been trying to get away from (i.e. Bryce and Cole and at least initially, Shaw).

        She wouldn’t have liked that, but then again, since they kept it a secret from her, Sarah must have been relieved that Chuck didn’t have to kill anyone to “achieve rank.”

        Of course, Sarah’s trust in the CIA was about to be blown out of the water. The only question at this point was how badly this was going to disorient her.

      • oldresorter says:

        Ernie / Joe – if the enemy could ask a ?, do you guys think at the Shaw / Beckman initial meeting, where something seemed to be withheld, that the Red Test could have been the issue that they didn’t tell the team? Or was that issue teased back then explained other ways?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason. Certainly in retrospect the red test could have been part of Shaw’s plan from the beginning, but I always took it as about Shaw planning to use Devon to infiltrate The Ring. That goes along with Sarah and Casey getting locked down in the van when Chuck figured the mission was a setup.

        Joe, it certainly would have been interesting to see some of those meetings about Chuck, and the few that Sarah wasn’t in on and Shaw’s reasons for excluding her.

        One scenario I always wanted to see was a more extended version of the beginning of American Hero where Chuck is at headquarters interacting with “real spies”. You could also add Sarah (post Honeymooners) to that scenario and see what happens when the Agents at headquarters find out that the legendary “Agent Carmichael” is visiting along with Agent Walker. Ah well, maybe they can work it into the movie.

      • joe says:

        Awwww – Jason, you’re not the enemy. And that’s a real good question. I can’t say I’m sure of the answer at all!

        There was definitely something going on with Shaw and Beckman back then (and get your mind out of the gutter, Ernie!!) Some secret. But I think it was conceived at that time as Shaw and Beckman planning already to break up the team. Specifically, they wanted to separate Chuck from Sarah. That got obscured a bit in First Class when Shaw seemed to come to a relatively new and recent conclusion that Sarah and Casey were holding Chuck back. Obscured, but not contradicted. I think that was the plan all along.

        I still think that about the time this idea was hatched, the show got six extra episodes. Sadly, the idea did not bear expansion, so they started on the idea that Shaw and Sarah were connected by Eve’s death and built the rest of the story on that.

        Oh yeah, it feels awkward to me too.

      • Dave says:

        I’m with Joe on this one. I’d go a bit further to say using Chuck alone as an autonomous agent with little or no back up would have been Beckman’s worry. He was after all the one and only intersect. Sarah, and maybe even Casey, would have been worried about Chuck’s well-being, not a priority for Beckman although she has probably softened a bit on Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        There is a difference between autonomous and alone. Next episode Beckman mentions Chuck picking his his team. This does not contradict Sarah’s assertion at the end of Mask that intersect agents were designed to operate autonomously. With all the intel in his head the autonomous agent could identify targets and design missions without ever having to make contact with HQ, which is usually how suspected spies are caught, by watching their movements and contacts and linking them to their organization.

        Sarah perhaps gave the impression Chuck would operate alone so he wouldn’t be assuming she’d be a part of his team. She still wanted out of Burbank and to move on at this point, but couldn’t do it till Chuck was a spy.

      • Joel says:

        Yes, the dialogue does seem to imply that the red test is more Shaw’s thing than standard Chuck-CIA procedure. But if that’s the case, doesn’t it make it even more bizarre and incomprehensible (and I could use much stronger words) that Sarah gets involved with him? She runs for comfort to the arms of the man who she holds responsible for destroying the character of the man she loves.

      • Joel says:

        Also, if Shaw is responsible for the much-earlier-than-usual red test, then it makes everyone’s deference to and respect for him as some kind of superspy hero even stranger. Sending someone who’s never killed anyone on an assassination mission is neither heroic nor wise – in fact, it’s cruel, crazy, and makes mission failure likely.

  3. Marc, that is a very interesting take on this. Fits right in with your take on season three in nine2five.

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