Season Three Alternatives: The Final Exam

The good news is, this will be my last completely negative review.  Of course the bad news is, this will be really negative.  I find this not only bad, but horribly bad.  Nothing like combining Stockholm Syndrome Sarah with a really offensive spy trope/cliche.

But I think the alternate/fan fiction outlook here is awesome.  Final Exam and the set-up of American Hero provide one of the greatest crisis points from Chuck canon.  Not only is the scenario loaded with potential, but the rather disappointing canon treatment of it has inspired many writers to try their own version.  After the jump, we’ll see what kind of brouhaha I can get into.

To be fair, this episode didn’t start bad at all.  In fact, it may be what sets Final Exam apart from episodes like Pink Slip or Fake Name is that much of it could have been quite enjoyable.  Sarah all but admits she actually feels something for Chuck, unlike Shaw.  And much of the early adventure is funny and entertaining.  But the end is such a twisted horror story, I can only reject it utterly if I’m to continue watching the show.  I really am so tired of the Red Test trope.  I get that it is a staple of the spy genre.  It always reminds me of the old story about how Japanese soldiers were taught in World War Two that American Marines were required to kill their own parents to finish their training.  And even more terrifying is the thought that many of them apparently believed it.  So it really ticks me off to think how many gullible television/movie watchers now believe CIA or MI-6 agents have to perform an assassination to complete their training.  Now I do get that Chuck is comedy, and very few people will take what happens here seriously.  But it still irks me that this story is told at all.

All that said, it does have a place in modern spy lore, and I can imagine ways this story could have been told that would be less offensive.  But they top themselves by giving Sarah such a key role in the story.  So the short version is, Shaw manipulates Sarah into manipulating Chuck into killing someone; then Sarah turns to Shaw for comfort afterwards.  This still makes me steaming mad just thinking about it.  I honestly can think of no other show that ever offended me so deeply that I didn’t just delete on the spot.  Perhaps that’s why it leaves me so angry.

I really don’t want to go into it more than that.  These posts have never been about deep analysis of the donor episode, I’ll leave that for the main post.

As far as my own wishes for an alternate story, I’d start by saying someone along the way just needs to say no!  First and foremost that means Sarah.  She has supposedly worried all season long that Chuck is turning into something she despises, and she blames herself for it.  I think this would have been a very satisfying time for her to give Chuck a break of some sort.  Either providing him with an obvious out like suggesting she will help him bring Hunter Perry in instead of killing him or talking to him in a little more detail about what his options might be.  I could deal with the immoral CIA trope, its been there all along on this series, but Sarah’s role in this is just utterly unacceptable.  I need a scenario where she is a little more involved in fixing what’s wrong and what its going to do to Chuck.  At the very least, Sarah needs to be there for Chuck.

If we go back to some of the “long fix” ideas we’ve discussed in weeks past this could have been quite fun as a collaborative effort for Chuck and Sarah.  If we knew Shaw was trying to break up the team or break Chuck’s spirit it might have been very interesting to see what might be done to undermine his efforts.  What if Perry is really a risk because he knows Shaw is dirty?  We could end up with Chuck and Sarah actually having to protect him instead of kill him.  That sounds more fun to me right off!

Final Exam does set up a very exciting crisis point.  We have Chuck being pushed to kill, Sarah completely abandoning him, and a possible reassignment to Rome (continuing the sequence of events into American Hero).  This might be the single most written about period of time apart from the Pilot itself.  Unfortunately, from an organization stand point, it can be hard to sort out some of these alternates as to which episode they really belong.  So I think I’m going to take a pretty narrow view this week and only mention a couple stories that are clearly about Final Exam. Next week, when I expect the episode itself to be a little less controversial, I think I will list a few more stories.

So let me start with the last installment from KateMcK’s “Chuck vs The Fight“.  This is the last episode she will address in this piece, and I think its easily her best effort.  It is five chapters long, which makes it by far the longest too.  This is truly how this episode should have gone.  It is fun and satisfying on many levels.  It is narrated entirely from Sarah’s perspective; and no doubt, Sarah is very hard on herself.  But Zombie Sarah is nowhere in sight.  She will come to terms with what’s really important to her, face up to her feelings for Chuck, what exactly Shaw means to her, and take the sort of action she needed to salvage this story,  Throw in an entertaining and satisfying scene with Ellie and this is as good as it gets.  Wonderful story.

The next story bridges that gap between Final Exam and American Hero alternates (just like most of what we’ll look at next week does!).  It is “Spies, Secrets and Lies” by mia2009 but it clearly starts at the end of Final Exam and is well into alternate territory before it ever gets to American Hero. This is a more medium length story.  It will deal with most of what was wrong with the show and provide an exciting resolution.  It also sets up a more extended AU with two much longer sequels and a funny alternate-alternate.  Go to mia2009‘s author’s page for the full listing.

I know this episode is easy for many of us to get very emotional about.  As always, expect a sympathetic audience here if you want to vent, or even seriously critique.  Just remember to keep it respectful of fellow commenters, and keep criticisms of the show professional in  nature, not personal.  Even better, I always look forward to alternates; how did you want to see this story go?  What changes did you need to see?  Or just where did your imagination take you? This series has been a lot of fun, and even quite satisfying to me.  I look forward to everyone’s input.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

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

  1. uplink2 says:

    Ok so we are now at a precipice in this arc with Final Exam. You are right Dave that because of the first part of this episode is more upbeat and it even has 2 great Chuck and Sarah moments, it isn’t in the hated category like the big three hated episodes Fake Name, Mask and Pink Slip it still really stirs some very deep negative emotions on many many levels we will talk about. Also didn’t I read somewhere that Ali Adler thought this was the best written episode of the series up to that point?

    First though I want to start with a minor plot hole. I noticed this in my rewatch of Sizzling Shrimp. In the stake date scene, Sarah comments about Hall and Oates Private Eyes also being from their first stakeout, the problem is Chuck was alone in the van when Private Eyes was played. Sarah was in the Chinese restaurant so she never heard it.

    Before I get to the final part of this episode where it really goes bad I want to repost something from Joe’s Saving Sarah Walker thread that is linked to in the regular thread. It is a comment that gets to the heart of many of the problems of this episode and this season. It’s from right after this episode aired. I hope BeCoolBoy doesn’t mind me reposting it.

    From a storytelling point of view, there is even a bigger problem: TPTB face a choice of sweeping all this detrius under the rug with a quick solution and a “happy ending” or extending this two-damaged-people meme on for the long term.

    If they sweep it all under the rug, we still can’t go back to loving Chuck and Sarah the way we used to because we KNOW how screwed up these people are: Sarah loathes herself, Chuck doesn’t know who he is because he hasn’t killed anybody.

    And if they deal with it in any kind of realistic way, we face really depressing storylines for a long, long time.

    So TPTB have written themselves into a corner. Either give us an unsatisfying happy ending or drag on a show-killing storyline.

    That’s not good business. And this IS a business.

    I could not agree more. That to me is the reason for much of the genesis of some really great FF from this period. The ending of this episode and the beginning of Hero setup one of the most dramatic and important moments since Mauser and just like Mauser the resolution is really unsatisfying. If the writers spent even 1/10 of the time in resolving the drama as they spend setting it up, all of this would work much much better. But they don’t. We end up with a Chuck and Sarah we simply can’t look the same way at again because the faults, mistakes and more “real”, as some apologists put it, elements of their characters are never dealt with or resolved. It’s just 3.13 and time to put them together. It’s a theme that was recognized as it was happening and it turned out to be completely true. Sarah’s flip flop next week is as bad if not worse than her flip flop in Mask. Not only is she Stockholm Syndrome Sarah, she’s bi-polar Sarah.

    In this episode the government sanctioned murder troupe bothers me greatly but as you said it is a spy standard. License to Kill and all that. But this Sarah really is offensive. To allow herself to be manipulated into putting Chuck into a Catch-22 where he can never get the prize she is offering to manipulate his decision is disgusting in and of itself but to then have her run and screw the man who manipulated her into destroying the man she does love once and for all is just…. I can’t think of a word to describe it, its so disgusting and contrived. How can they truly, honestly get together in a believable fashion after that? She allowed herself to be used as bait to get Chuck to commit murder and then sleeps with the man who manipulated and used her to do it. It’s disgusting and she really is screwed up and yet nothing ever comes of it. Then she simply abandons him to deal with it alone knowing how devastated he must be. The one thing that she knew could break Chuck and she uses herself to get him to do it and then instead of remorse and shame for doing it, she screws Shaw, the man that made her do it.

    It’s a critical moment and it simply gets swept under the rug. Drama with no point and no resolution.

    • atcDave says:

      The only thing I disagree with is for me this is my most hated episode. In the end, it doesn’t even matter if the beginning was cute, the end is so twisted and disturbing it just makes me steaming mad. I just have no choice but to reject this episode. It is too broken, the characters are too broken, it is simply not the show I enjoyed any more. And honestly, if they’d taken the time to do a proper fix, I wouldn’t have watched it. I was nearly burned out on Chuck with this ending. The only thing that kept me going was the suspicion things would shortly get better. It wasn’t an honest character fix, it was only an entertainment fix. But that was the only fix that would have kept me watching. And I truly do love much of what lies ahead. It’s just too bad I have to overlook so much to get there.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink

      This ending is so bad that I would love to drop the last 5-7 minutes of this altogether.

      OBTW, I just checked and if Shaw gave Sarah incredibly expensive diamond earrings from Tiffany’s, why isn’t she wearing them on their first date, hmmmm?

      The whole LD reveal is terrible for Sarah. Until that happened I could easily point out that she never slept with Shaw and even though exploring a relationship with the man who forced you to destroy the man you did love was bad enough I was able to write that off as a confused and conflicted Sarah, swallow it and move on. As I’ve said before, In my view the LD reveal did more damage than what we actually saw.

      • atcDave says:

        It was all played for laughs. Just like some of the meta humor in Fake Name. I think when they did Living Dead they had no idea yet how hostile so much of the fan base would be to this story (or at least, they were still thinking we would be hostile in a “good” way!).

  2. JC says:

    As a fan I never liked or disliked the romance between Chuck and Sarah. They had cute moments and everyone who’s watched TV knew they would end up together. But this episode made me root against them as a couple, I never could buy into a relationship working after the events in the episode. Honestly it would have been hard for me to see them as friends either. Looking back this soured me on the show completely since the next two seasons were so relationship heavy.

    The Red Test as a concept never bothered, in fact I liked it. The spy sequences were homages to Casino Royale and Eastern Promises two fantastic movies. One problem they never fully committed to a darker direction that sort of story requires. I was completely on board for a darker story and characters but instead we got beige which no one likes.

    Oh and the fact that nobody mentioned the mole going for his gun still angers me to this day.

    • atcDave says:

      That was clearly a divide among fans; if the show went darker or not they were sure to alienate different groups of viewers. Of course the way they did it seems to just alienate almost everyone at different times. I love the show from Other Guy to the end, but I only get there by ignoring this episode and this arc.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I think you also indirectly point out a big problem with the Red Test. In those other “spy-verses” the Red Test is for a special, elite class of agent (an assassin more or less). While I can easily believe Sarah and Casey have had Red Tests, it doesn’t seem at all right that it would be sprung on Chuck as such a rookie. The whole scenario pushed suspension of disbelief past the breaking point for me. It’s the opposite of the “rule of cool”; I’d call it the “rule of revolting”. It requires extra care and preparation to tell an ugly story that I don’t want to see; extra care that wasn’t used.

  3. CaptMediocre says:

    The “Red Test” is the single most stupid thing ever done on the show.
    (Muuurder was a better idea)

    And they hinged an entire arc on it!!!

    Because I didn’t care about Sarah’s plight since Fake Name, or her total inaction all season for that matter, this “Shaw’s wife death” retcon (and it was a complete and total retcon) to try and explain her S3 passivity and complete cluelessness (highlighted epically by this episode) was too little, too late to fix the character and save the / her story. The character was already lost way before this, in fact this episode only makes it worse.

    I realize that some see this episode as the beginning of where the showrunners are starting to tie up the arc. Which is likely meant to be the case. However the opposite is also true in that 6 or 7 more episodes are now required in order to properly resolve all the questions raised by the dysfunctionality in this episode.

  4. CaptMediocre says:

    Oops. Too quick.

    As far as alternates. Well for me it would have always made far more sense if Chuck would have left for a period of time after this episode.

    Not fun TV, but more believable storytelling.

    • atcDave says:

      And that’s why this episode just doesn’t work. If we’re talking about changing things anyway, I think the discussion needs to be about the whole misery arc, NOT a hypothetical back arc.

  5. Justin says:

    RECAP OF AU 3X11: Seeing the complications of their romantic relationship as a problem, Shaw threatened to tear Chuck and Sarah apart and reassign Sarah to D.C. Casey is revealed to have had a family which he left behind for the sake of duty. Casey is dismissed from the team and CIA service. Chuck makes a deal with Shaw that he will help him have the opportunity to torture and kill the Ring leader instead of bringing him in if Shaw keeps Sarah in Burbank and continue to keep their relationship hidden from the CIA. Shaw agrees to it but it is hinted that manipulating Chuck into making the deal was Shaw’s plan the whole time. Chuck tells Ellie the whole truth about him being a spy after Devon exposes him to her.

    So let me start off the AU version of The Final Exam with this statement: there will be no Red Test. I repeat, no Red Test. I am aware that assassination is a standard for a spy but I don’t see it as a test for a spy-in-training. So that whole concept is removed. But the situation of Chuck being ordered to kill Hunter Perry is kept in and I have a way of handling it better.

    So the episode begins with the aftermath of Chuck telling her about how he got to be a spy and why he lied to her for so long. He told her the real mission-centered reason why Sarah was so flirty with Shaw back when she thought Sarah was cheating on Chuck. He told her that Sarah used to be his cover girlfriend but now they are actually together. Ellie is a bit hurt when Chuck revealed that Morgan found out about him being a spy before her. After spilling all this to Ellie and letting her absorb everything she has learned from him, Chuck is shocked when Ellie tells him that she wants him out of the spy life because of how dangerous it is and her fear that it may be changing Chuck for the worse than the better. Chuck admits to Ellie that he has been harboring some doubts about being a spy brought on by what’s been going with her and Morgan. But he can’t get out of the life yet until the Ring is defeated; removing them as a threat to him and the people he cares about. Chuck suspects it was them that gave Ellie the phone call to create chaos from within. He also tells Ellie that the Ring is responsible for many deaths including Bryce’s. Ellie is taken aback by the reveal of Chuck’s old college buddy’s demise and tells him that she has no idea what to do with what she knows if Chuck is going to continue being involved in this stuff. Her mistrust of Sarah hasn’t gone away. Sarah being a spy and lying to her face for years heightens it. Chuck tells Ellie that he trusts Sarah with his life and that all he wants her to do is keep what she knows between her and Devon and no one else. It’s safer that way. And if she receives any more mysterious phone calls, she should inform him immediately. Ellie gives Chuck a reluctant nod to what he is requesting while she is surprised to see this decisive side of her brother, wondering how much he has been changed by the spy world.

    After his talk with Ellie, Chuck talks with Sarah and Casey in a way that Shaw won’t overhear them. He tells them about the deal he made with Shaw. Sarah is firmly against it, believing that them staying together isn’t worth such a terrible cost. Chuck tries to rationalize it, saying that the Ring leader isn’t a helpless innocent but a bad guy who has plenty of blood on his hands. But Sarah tells him that being an innocent or a bad guy doesn’t negate the life-altering impact doing something like what Chuck agreed to do for Shaw will have on him. She and Casey have experienced it personally and it is the reason why she had a problem with Chuck’s decision to be a spy. But she went along with it, believing she can protect Chuck from at least some of the terrible realities of being a spy. Chuck feels he is backed in a corner and that he has no other choice. Sarah doesn’t believe that and intends to find a way to keep Chuck from going through with the deal. Casey puts in his two cents, saying that eventually Chuck would had to do some dirty work like the kind proposed through his deal with Shaw but he advises Chuck to give Sarah time to figure out a way out of it, not wanting Chuck to lose his innocence that makes him Chuck. Missing Casey as a part of the team, Chuck promises to bring him back into the fold of the CIA.

    Somewhere in the episode, Sarah confronts Shaw about his deal with Chuck and threatens to tell Shaw’s superiors if he doesn’t release Chuck from the deal and leave them alone. Shaw tells her to go ahead and that, other than Beckman, she won’t believed by them. They have serious doubts about her and her loyalties as a spy which have been going on since she disobeyed a direct order and went on the run with Chuck last season. Beckman has been Sarah’s sole defender. Sarah is dismayed by what Shaw said but still determined to defeat him.

    Chuck is assigned the mission by Shaw and Beckman involving Anatoli Zevlovski, being told that this will be the ultimate test of his spy training. But after the mission, it is Chuck who receives a call from Shaw and being told that his real test is to kill Hunter Perry. When the confrontation with Hunter Perry happens, Sarah is involved and when she and Chuck end up with the upper hand, Hunter makes a shocking admission. He reveals that he was forced to be a Ring mole by Shaw but never told why. Sarah realizes it was the purpose of setting him up as Chuck’s first kill. Shaw must have arranged all of this to see if Chuck has what it takes to fulfill his end of their deal. Chuck and Sarah are horrified by how far off the reservation Shaw is.

    Chuck and Sarah enlist Casey’s help in taking Hunter Perry in alive, faking his death to Shaw when in reality they are bringing him to Beckman. Beckman reveals that it wasn’t her decision to assign Shaw to the team. It was her superiors’. She, on the other hand, personally suspects Shaw of being a dirty agent despite his impressive record. But her superiors don’t share her suspicions, believing Shaw to be a clean agent and an excellent asset to the CIA. It was Beckman’s hope that in time, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey would find out for themselves how dirty Shaw is and come across something that may prove it to them which may be proof enough for her superiors. Hunter Perry is the proof. Chuck tells Beckman about the deal he made with Shaw and the reason for it, revealing his secret romantic relationship with Sarah in the process. Beckman acknowledges that their relationship as being against the rules but admits that she saw it coming and is approving of it because of how it has made them a stronger team together than before based on how they have outsmarted Shaw.

    The episode ends with the stage being set for Shaw’s impending takedown.

  6. Bill says:

    While I usually watch this episode during a season 3 re-watch, it has not aged very well in my view. While there is some humor to be found early, and a momentary spark between our leads during the stake-out, this quote from atcDave sums up the legacy of this episode:

    “So the short version is, Shaw manipulates Sarah into manipulating Chuck into killing someone; then Sarah turns to Shaw for comfort afterwards.  This still makes me steaming mad just thinking about it.”

    For my part, I never felt anger about the inexplicable catch-22 Sarah presents to Chuck in this episode. I felt, and still feel, profound disappointment: the epic romance that we saw unfold in the first two seasons is gone by the end of this episode, and the resolution we see two episodes later simply isn’t earned (how could it be?). This is a disappointment of Star Wars Prequel magnitude.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree with all that Bill.

    • uplink2 says:

      Exactly my point. How can anyone feel that DYLM was earned in a logical and believable progression from this point without completely ignoring major dramatic points in the story? It makes me wonder why I should take this story seriously if it seems the writers don’t.

      It all comes to a pattern of a seriously dark dramatic moment affecting Sarah at the end of the 11th episode that leads to the big heroic Chuck moment in the 13th. Too bad it only really worked with Balcony and Push Mix. Final Exam to Other Guy fails miserably at being a logical and justifiable progression and Bullet Train to Goodbye is another case of way, way, way too much dark for extremely little light.

      • atcDave says:

        You did just identify a huge issue there Uplink; WE do take the show more seriously than the writers did. They were producing a product. That they alternately created something beautiful or something horrible affects us more than it does them.

      • uplink2 says:

        That’s why I find it so difficult to believe much of the apologists explanations of how and why things actually worked. I don’t believe it because there is clear evidence to me that they simply didn’t think that deeply about it. I don’t think that they had any idea about the the LD interrogations scene when they wrote this episode. They wrote that scene to put Chuck and Sarah into a very uncomfortable and awkward position with Casey being the instigator for laughs. I don’t think they thought at all about what they were actually saying about Sarah and her relationship with Shaw. At the point it was written they had no idea of how visceral the hatred for Shaw and Sarah/Shaw in particular was going to be in reality. LeJudkins believed the spin and hype that Fedak was shoveling because he was their new boss. I don’t think they thought deeply about any of it and I think the evidence is clear. I also don’t think they thought deeply about how you get from this ending scene and the opening of AH to DYLM at all because the evidence clearly shows none of this matters. “I don’t” is simply dropped like the lead balloons of Mauser, “You’re not” from season 4 and other instances.

        I guess it means to appreciate their storytelling you can’t care about logic, buildup to proper payoff and honest storytelling at times. You either have to not care or invent deeply thought out, press your head against the glass, squinty eyed maybes to accept it. But I think the evidence that they put nowhere near the amount of thought and care into honest storytelling as we do.

      • atcDave says:

        I think a lot is exaggerated Uplink. I mean, just because they were creating a product, under a tight schedule with limited resources, doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care or didn’t try to do things right; only that their capacity to sweat all the details the way we do over the course of years is completely different. I think it’s very difficult for them to know from the writer’s room, through director, actor, and editor into the homes of rabid fans exactly how all the details will play out. I don’t ever mean to let them off the hook entirely (they should have known the LI aspect of S3 would NEVER work), but some of the details I can cut some slack on. The interrogation scene from LD s a great example. I would imagine the writers (LaJudkins) were presumably familiar with the story to that point, had likely been told to assume Sham had been intimate, and had no idea how vitriolic fan reaction had been to it. So when they decided to have some fun with it, they likely had no idea they were playing with fire. If they’d known how it would be received, they might have handled it differently. Or not. It’s hard to say.
        The line you mention from Fear of Death never struck me as such a big deal, certainly not from a writer’s perspective. It was written to be a dramatic moment; it was delivered perfectly with the added nuance of immediate regret that set up the following adventure… I thought it was a terrific moment. Like many Chuck moments I wish it had been followed up a little better; but for both the main characters, they had their moments when they realized their relationship mattered more than the job, a better scene involving them SHARING that discovery would have been nice. But it’s never struck me as a major problem.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I agree with all of that. I totally understood how she kicked Shaw to the curb and went to Chuck. That was an “Oh what have I done, I still love him (Chuck)” moment.

        The part in all of this I never could rationalize or get my mind around was why she turned to Shaw in the first place. I mean he treated her like crap the whole time. I mean forget the LI angle and just look at his actions toward Sarah as they were shown and it’s unbelievable that she would turn to Shaw. I mean, OK, she’s mad at Chuck and disillusioned but Shaw was a total boor.

        In AH clearly it was a case of “sweet, altruistic Chuck locks Sarah in Castle and rushes to save the putz because Chuck believes Sarah cares about the putz, how sweet is that”. I could accept that, that was one of the first things that made total sense. Sarah’s reaction to Chuck’s kiss at the end of AH was so much more moving than anything she had done with Shaw (Yvonne really sold it).

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave and Dave, I agree with that but it only works if you ignore what happened at the end of FE and the beginning of AH. That scene where Sarah doesn’t trust Chuck for the first time ever in the series and Chuck realizes that Sarah had manipulated him into a Catch 22 simply is a HUGE moment but it has to be swept under the rug for Chuck’s hero moment to happen.

        Let’s not talk about how absolutely horrible a spy Shaw is that leads Chuck to his hero moment but Chuck’s speech at the restaurant though great simply acts like that moment in Castle never happened and I guess we have to too or none of what comes next works. So it that was the case what was the point of that scene in the first place?

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I think we’re completely on the same page.

        Uplink I agree the earlier comments are troubling, but I’m willing to overlook some of it just to get things back on track. It really IS just sweeping it under the rug; but its a mess and I don’t know what else to do with it. I want my fun show back, and I’m willing to give them a Mulligan to get it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I get that, I really do, but in the spirit of these rewatches I’m afraid that just accepting sweeping it all under the rug isn’t very satisfying. In fact it feels like a cheat. But unfortunately I think its pretty clear to me that is exactly the only thing I can do because even after 3 years I’ve never seen any explanation that makes sense and works with what’s on screen. So that is what I’m left with, some really really troubling moments that ultimately mean nothing because meaning something eliminates any chance of true honest redemption.

      • atcDave says:

        A big part of my idea with these alternatives posts was just that so many fan fiction writers did craft a more appealing S3, and obviously many readers here can do a good job of it too. There’s nothing I can do about what was actually on screen, but I can find better options out there. Even if they’re not canon, they can still be a lot of fun.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        For me, it’s not about understanding because I understand everything except Sarah turning to Shaw. I understand but I certainly didn’t like most of it. I never will understand how Sarah could turn to a guy who threatened her life, threatened Chuck’s life, was arrogantly dismissive of everything she said, manipulated her into destroying (in her eyes at least) Chuck and generally having no romantic finesse at all. In short, Shaw was everything Sarah showed for two years that she didn’t want. That should have been resolved for us.

        Everything else I understand, but about 95% of it I really didn’t like. I directed a prayer heavenward when it was over so I could go back to enjoying the show. I realize that 1 maybe 2 episodes each season will rub me the wrong way, but essentially 9 was nearly too much.

      • oldresorter says:

        I don’t like it, but my guess is Sarah’s feelings, POV, journey, etc was no more on the big white board than Morgan’s or Casey’s. So if she needed to run to Shaw’s arms to create drama for Chuck, she did. If she needed to go to Paris as Shaw’s partner or drive away in a convertable when she should be meeting Chuck to ratchet up the drama, she did. If she needed to tell Shaw her real name, she did. Schwedak’s description of the ending was telling, Chuck was a better man this time on the beach. I don’t think Sarah’s life was destroyed mattered. At some point, we as fans have to let go, as the creators simply did not care about Sarah, as I said, any more than Morgan or Casey or Ellie, other than how her role could make a difference for Chuck.

      • Dave says:

        oldresorter

        I think you have hit exactly on the “reason” for all of Sarah’s baffling behavior.

        This goes to my contention that TPTB were too stubborn to realize that after S2 this show may as well have been “Chuck and Sarah”. They had created an incredibly popular character (Sarah) and a hugely popular couple (Chuck and Sarah). Instead of using and exploiting that they, for some inexplicable reason decided to blow them up.

        I would have liked seeing the name thing and the “go out with Shaw” thing explained/resolved at some point but it wasn’t a show-stopper to me.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I know you’re really, really confused by the end of FE and the beginning of AH but try this. I’m going to go with what I saw at the time forgetting about the LD bombshell for now (after I explain this you’ll understand why the LD reveal was so much more damaging to me).

        At the end of FE, Sarah declares she no longer loves Chuck (more for her benefit I believe, trying to convince herself). Sarah was disillusioned and angry so I could almost understand that.

        Moving on to AH and the Castle scene. Yes, Sarah had never before not believed Chuck, but she is angry. If you watch the scene as Shaw begins talking to Chuck and as the men leave the room, watch Sarah’s face. Yvonne really depicts someone that I felt at the time realizes she went too far and regrets it.

        Now to the restaurant. Sarah agrees to go out with Shaw since, as far as she knows, Chuck is being sent to Rome and she is headed to DC with Shaw. At the time I saw it as merely seeing if she could associate with Shaw. However, between Castle and the restaurant the three amigos convince Chuck to go for it and do something drastic or Sarah will be gone. That’s what caused Chuck to be there and Sarah is clearly wavering, remember she looked as though she went too far in Castle. Then Ellie dresses down Chuck and he goes all in to save Shaw but then declares his love and placed a kiss on her that apparently curled her toes.

        Then Sarah is packing with THE picture next to her bed. I can imagine the scene prior where Sarah pulls out the picture and stares at it as she decides. Finally deciding to accept Chuck warts and all.

        At this point I had not seen anything that indicated intimacy between Sarah and Shaw, in fact except for the kiss at the end of FN they were at best completely professional and at times adversarial. The date was their first date as you’ll recall and they should have done that a long time ago. That’s why the LD reveal shook me so much. What I described was what I saw at the time. To have Sarah sleep with Shaw at least twice before they even went on that date really damaged Sarah’s character.

        Until LD I had this figured out in my own mind and it made sense to me. Yes, Sarah was very OOC, but then she had been for at least 5 full episodes before this I just went with it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I can see that and in many respects that is how I tried to take it in the beginning. But a lot of my issue isn’t just Sarah’s behavior because as you said this wasn’t the Sarah I knew for quite some time. Zombie Sarah began long before Final Exam. But What I also don’t like is Chuck’s reaction to it, which is basically no reaction. He tells Casey that he is going to quit because without Sarah what’s the point of being a spy. Then we get the restaurant scene where Chuck says he wants to be a spy and he wants to be with her. The next day after saving the idiot he tells her he wants to run and be with her away from the spy life. Well which is it Chuck and why the hell weren’t you pissed off at Sarah for first betraying you and then not trusting you? It’s all such contrived drama that ultimately means nothing.

        But I do love your idea of a scene where Sarah pulls out the Safe Comfortable pic and stares at it before placing it on her night stand and beginning packing. That could have been such a fantastic Yvonne moment.

      • Dave says:

        Yet another missed opportunity. I think just wanted Sarah and by this time would do whatever she wanted. It would have been nice if she actually said something on the issue, but alas.

      • atcDave says:

        It would have been a cool scene, but we know it happened even if we didn’t see it!

  7. oldresorter says:

    In the last three 13 episode arcs, all three of the 11th eps were going along really well, until they did something to ruin / harm / take away Sarah. The Red Test and banging Shaw in s3, running away from Chuck long term and becoming her old self in the 4th season, and amnesia in the 5th season all sucked fun out of the show. The problem isn’t the drama, the problem is how MEAN the drama was, for a show that has a great deal of sweetness, love and comedy. Maybe the amnesia was a more viscious attack, but this Red Test idea leading to Sarah running into her tormentors arms for sexual comfort, ranked right up there. The episode was disgusting, vulgar, and completely distastful, quite consistent in s3’s case with the tone of the entire season.

    • Dave says:

      oldresorter

      Don’t forget seducing Lon Kirk in S1 and shooting Mauser in the face in S2.

    • joe says:

      I think if you substitute the word “dark” for “mean” in your thesis, you get a statement that’s also very true, Jason. S3 is very much a season of extremes, especially when you’re talking about the emotional content. It’s a matter of seeing that as a bug or a feature, I suppose.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting observation Jason. And I don’t really enjoy any of those twists. Although this is the only one that leaves me totally peaved.

      • Dave says:

        It’s almost as if some producer is standing there and says “It’s episode 11 of season (insert appropriate number here) we need some really dark angst, check”.

  8. Dave says:

    First my alternative…

    I have been following an approach where we make minimal changes to each episode, except for Pink Slip and Fake Name which needed major changes. To get up to date, Chuck and Sarah did IT in the Colonel and have been unable to continue their relationship because of Sarah being angry (3.01-3.03) and then Shaw being around (3.04-now). Chuck and Sarah faked a break-up in Mask and Chuck faked moving on with Hannah who turned out to be a Ring agent after Shaw. Sarah has been working Shaw since the end of episode FN.

    Now first, I hate the “Red Test” but I’m stuck with it. Sarah is working Shaw and this is making Chuck, of course, is beginning to be insecure. So this stays mostly the same, but during the stake-date is where Chuck does the DYLM and Sarah answers yes and they discuss how to get Sarah out of going to DC with Shaw. Sarah also tells Chuck she may have to get closer to Shaw to find out what he is up to and warns him that whenever Shaw is around she’s going to be rough on him for Shaw’s benefit. Shaw then interrupts as seen and we move on. For the red test, Sarah hints that she will cover him but is unaware of Casey there. However, here Sarah does take Chuck’s first call and finds out about Casey. Then she does the whole red test thing with Shaw as we saw it.

    That’s a big change of sequence but I’ll cover it later.

    • Dave says:

      Ooops! Bad grammar in the sentence about Chuck being insecure, but I’m sure you get the picture. In my defense I was distracted right there by one of our dogs trying to eat our cat. Sorry.

      • joe says:

        Your cat is now sending you a very loud subliminal message; “FEED THE D^#M DOG!” 😉

      • Dave says:

        Joe

        Believe me, those two dogs eat plenty. They weigh a combined 250 lbs. The cat sometimes tweaks one of them and almost got nabbed today.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave your version does have the advantage of being closer to canon. And if wt/wt is to continued in S3 this is certainly a better way of doing it. I like it!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I prefer to stay close to canon. In fact the FF I enjoy most, even the AUs are where the characters act the way they do on the show. That is my main problem with 3.01 and 3.06-3.11 was that our characters on the show didn’t act like the characters we came to really invest in.

        I really like the show so why not keep our characters pure? I think TPTB should have approached it this way.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt one of my biggest gripes about S3 is exactly that, the characters were barely recognizable to me.

  9. Joel says:

    I agree on the idea of red tests. Even for Chuck’s highly unrealistic spyworld, having the CIA order hit jobs as a rite of passage is just too much. They’re not a street gang.

    • atcDave says:

      Right, exactly. As I mentioned above, even in other universes, like Bond, the Red Test is for certain sorts of agents (“00s” or something). I still don’t like the idea, but there’s a sort of dark logic to it. Chuck suggests its the rite of passage for any agent. That’s insulting my intelligence on top of ugly.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave, Joel

        When Baby aired everyone jumped on the fact that the red test was after CATs. I explained to myself the same way you did, ie it was for elite deep cover agents and on CATs she was just a “line” intelligence agent. She had to take her red test to be teamed with Bryce.

        As a professional soldier I find the whole red test trope to be insultingly stupid. I certainly needed no red test to go to war, why should this be different.

      • atcDave says:

        I really appreciate your view on this Dave, thanks.

        I believe Sarah did refer to her Red Test as the first time she killed someone. But that doesn’t have to mean she was not operational prior. And I would also assume her year of Secret Service detail was prior.

      • Joel says:

        Well, this is part of why the red test bothers me so much – they’re sending someone who’s never killed anyone before on a cold-blood assassination? Like I said, that’s the kind of thing that the worst street gangs would do. Maybe you can say that Shaw was going crazy and this isn’t standard procedure. I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse.

        Even seen City of God? (I wouldn’t reccommend that movie to everyone – it’s well-made, but pretty horrifying even if you’re used to gangster movies.) There’s a scene where the gang boss makes a kid choose one of two even younger kids to gun down to prove that he’s a real man.

        Okay, sending Chuck on a red test isn’t quite the same thing, but I still can’t help thinking of it.

      • Joel says:

        The much-earlier-than-usual red test for Chuck being Shaw’s idea, that is. Also, if Shaw is responsible for it, 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.

      • Joel says:

        Oops, that was meant for a different group of comments. I’ll repost it where it was meant to go and the admins can delete both this one and the previous one.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joel, here’s the thing with all of those comments I agree with but the problem is that logic like that wasn’t important to them. The ridiculous Red Test was used simply to create the drama they wanted without any deference to whether it worked on any basis whatsoever. All that mattered was it pushed one of the few actual necessary dramatic moments, Chuck killing someone, that the season was supposedly based on. Now to me there were only 2 actual spy elements in the entire season, Chuck killing and burning an asset. But I just don’t see how they concerned themselves with whether it was logical or not. That’s especially evident to me when it all gets disregarded and become irrelevant anyway.

        What has always bothered me is throughout the season Shaw is shown to make terrible decision after terrible decision but yet no one from Beckman on down ever challenges him on anything until Chuck questions whether he can work with Sarah after finding out Sarah killed Eve. Even then he is poo pooed by everyone including Sarah. All the while they keep screaming at us that he is a “true American Hero”. It all just flops on its face. It also flops because the reveal came too late for anyone to actually care. We will get to it next week but to me part of why it also fails is Routh’s god awful performance

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I always thought they should have turned Shaw while he was in DC for Nacho Sampler. Then the creepy backrub (Mask), confrontation in his apartment (FN, maybe Sarah was really the target), all of the Beard, etc. The set up in AH could have been just for a meeting with the Director.

        With the changes I’ve made to keep Chuck and Sarah together, this would have made an excellent spy=story component. If they were going to turn him, then do it and let’s enjoy the ride.

      • uplink2 says:

        See this is one of the huge storytelling failings of this season. The things they had to do to the spy story to sell the OLI story make the spy story much less interesting and ultimately make it irrelevant in the end. They tried so hard to force the big reveal at the end that because of the damage caused by the OLI story no one was interested anymore or at least a large part of the fanbase wasn’t. They simply wanted Shaw gone any way possible. Keeping critical elements of the story they wanted to tell a secret for as long as possible destroyed for many any chance that they could sell that story. This storytelling plan is a direct violation of Vonnegut’s Rule #8.

        Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

        Now I don’t agree with that rule all the time but in this case violating it damaged the storytelling. Knowing about Eve and Sarah much much earlier and its impact on Sahw would have made the story much more enjoyable especially if it nullifies the LI story from happening.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I think the OLI is what broke it. I could imagine it being sprung late in the story, and being quite the surprise twist, IF we actually cared at all about Shaw’s story at that point. But as you mention, BECAUSE of the OLI many of us were just counting the minutes until Shaw was done.

  10. uplink2 says:

    I keep coming back to the greater issue here and again maybe I need someone to explain it to me. Using the theme of this re-watch of taking the episodes and their impact based on the the larger overview of the entire run of the show, how is it possible to view the payoff to all of this as anything but a quick and unsatisfying resolution to real, difficult, and traumatic relationship killing drama? How can what Sarah allowed herself to be manipulated into doing and then screwing the man who manipulated her to do it be seen as anything but extremely disturbed behavior? How can she live with herself if she blames herself for dragging Chuck down into the pit of becoming a murderer, a story we were it seems supposed to see as far back as Three Words? How can the trust they once had be broken so completely by this act and what she says to him at the beginning of AH and then have Sarah confess her love for him a few hours later? How can she trust Shaw over Chuck in terms of the impact of the big reveal on him psychologically and still tell Chuck “It’s all gonna happen, you and me?”

    This is the huge problem with all of this because there is no justification that works unless you simply ignore all of the drama they created and sweep it under the rug. And when you follow the idea of this re-watch it looks even worse factoring in the LD interrogation scene. It is such a horrible portrait of Sarah and does devastating damage to her character that for many they no longer root for the couple anymore and in a number of cases the ‘epic’ nature of that romance is lost forever. I just don’t get how anyone can justify that DYLM was anything more than just the inverse of Prague simply because it was 3.13. The jump from “Not any more” and “I don’t” to “Yes…yes…yes” is just too far and ignores too much that it makes you wonder if Sarah shouldn’t be the one who goes and talks to “Doc” instead of Chuck.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink

      I feel your pain. I said earlier that this was what I couldn’t squint enough to un-see. I could rationalize the rest away and explain it to myself (until LD that is) but this I just sighed and moved on. There is no justification or adequate explanation.

      Sarah was the character that got butchered in 3.0. I received my S2 DVDs on 6 Jan and over 3 1/2 days powered through all 22 episodes to prepare for the S3 premier. After the 49B in Broken Heart, First Kill and Colonel (actually the fact that they didn’t get busy after Ellie’s rehearsal dinner stretched my credulity a great deal) how could we possibly get the Sarah we saw? That is what I regretted the most. Second to this was the lack of resolution. This resolution could have happened over time, but it needed to happen. It is the only real complaint I have for the show. I was able to enjoy without the resolution but it would have probably made me be able to re-watch some of these eps if I had gotten it.

      Sarah definitely became damaged goods and no attempt was made to repair her.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, there’s a couple of completely different issues in that Uplink. I’m sure part of the show runners’ central idea is that it’s a redemption story for both Chuck and Sarah. But in order to be redeemed they must first be broken. That’s the first part of the problem with the whole misery arc; they break Chuck by turning him into a slime ball, which just destroys the character we had known for two seasons prior. Similarly for Sarah they break her through a sort of Retcon that shows her as being far more damaged and broken than we previously had any reason to suspect. This is part of why I just dismiss S3. The brokenness doesn’t track well with the first two seasons at all.
      As far as Sarah’s rapid turn around, I have no great problem with saying Chuck’s actions late in American Hero (saving Shaw, and professing his love for Sarah) somehow break Shaw’s hold over her. If the previous stories had actually been entertaining, this part of the story might have worked quite nicely. I can even be content to say, while ignoring most of the misery arc, that Chuck does indeed break Sarah out of some sort of funk at the end of 3.12. But again, I reject most of the season, so the context I’m looking at has more to do with the characters we know from the other four seasons.
      The interrogation scene in Living Dead is certainly unpleasant. Again, the only response I have to add is just that Sarah was an idiot, but we’re moving past it now. There used to be an expression about “forgive and forget” in common use. I think in our current self obsessed culture such ideas are not held in high regard; but it has an application here. I can forgive both the writers and the characters for what came before. The forgetting part makes a full re-watch problematic, but of course I haven’t actually done a full re-watch. My version of forgetting applies directly to much of S3. I can forgive it, only by forgetting it.
      I suppose that means my interpretation of character actions, motives and growth over the course of the “whole” series will be a little different from those viewers who do in fact include S3 in their assessment. Obviously, others may have a more honest full context, in a way. But I honestly believe the S3 versions of these characters is not faithful to their S1 or S2 selves. I believe the characters were reinvented for marketing reasons; they mistakenly thought they could strengthen their ratings by making Chuck more like most other television. As they became aware of how disenfranchised a previously enthusiastic fanbase had become, S4 saw the characters re-re-invented to something more like their S1/S2 selves (not exactly like! We’ll get more into this in a couple months). But I feel pretty comfortable with what “full series context” means to me. I see characters I know and love in four seasons. S3 is an aberration. We can make some interesting comments about that aberration, but I don’t really take it very seriously except for being annoyed by it. And this all put S3.5 in an interesting, in between, sort of place. It is darker in tone, more like the rest of S3, but with the single greatest problem fixed, it is more entertaining than the rest of the season.

    • joe says:

      I keep coming back to the greater issue here and again maybe I need someone to explain it to me. Using the theme of this re-watch of taking the episodes and their impact based on the the larger overview of the entire run of the show, how is it possible to view the payoff to all of this as anything but a quick and unsatisfying resolution to real, difficult, and traumatic relationship killing drama?

      Ack! Uplink, you create a need in me to explain once again that this is exactly what we’ve been trying to do! It’s like you’ve built this box and refuse to come out, even when you’ve been shown more than a couple possible ways to do that.

      I don’t mind so much you saying that the attempts have failed. But please don’t intimate that the attempts haven’t been made, ‘k?

      Now, back to your regularly scheduled alternative views!

      • Dave says:

        Joe

        Uplink is just very passionate about this. I see the same problems, my reaction is just much less visceral about it.

        Was I confused…yes
        Did I enjoy what I was watching…no
        Would I leave my show because of this…no way
        Did I ever believe what TPTB ever told us in the future…absolutely not
        Did I eventually swallow it and move on…reluctantly yes

        I just sighed, threw up my hands and concentrated on enjoying what came after. My biggest regret is that the mistakes made right here ultimately doomed the show, in my view. If they had not screwed up so badly, we might still be watching season 6 right now.

      • Dave says:

        Or I guess waiting on Season 7. Forgot it was June already.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I know it’s pure speculation, but I completely agree about the fate of the show. I think a better S3 could have made a critical difference. There was so much excitement and hype going into 3.01, and we saw an excellent boost in ratings. And then it all went down hill. s3 alienated or disappointed a large number of viewers left. S4 changed the mood back, but many viewers who would have liked it best were already gone; and many viewers who actually liked S3 hated the lighter, more fun sort of S4. If we’d seen something more appealing for S3 I’m almost certain we could have held ratings better, or even built them up!

      • joe says:

        I know, Dave. Uplink has always been passionate that way, which is okay. Honestly, I see exactly what he’s talking about (even if I do disagree about the point at which they occur in the story, as you’ll see next week).

        But that’s not what I’m concerned about. When I see words like “I wish someone would explain to me…”, all I can think of is the hours I’ve spent each week trying to explain exactly why [insert list of complaints here] are orthonormal to the reasons I find enjoyment in the characters and themes (yeah, that’s a real word with a very precise meaning).

        I guess, in Internet-speak, Uplink and I will always be talking past each other to some extent.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, I will tell you that I do read your POV intently. Same for Ernie and I have stated many times that I have learned things from doing that. But I guess I should tamper down some of my passion in how I state things like “I wish someone would explain it to me why…” and choose a different way to describe it. I have had explanations presented to me, the problem is they don’t work. I can’t see the logic or I find I have to infer far too much that simply isn’t there when what is there is screaming to me something completely different.

        Then I guess I’m my own worst enemy when I go back and read the history to try and get a more emotional perspective, like I have for the show, that was closer to the timeline of how it actually played out before me. But that helps me understand that I wasn’t alone in my POV at the time. That what I, a simple week to week viewer with no knowledge of Chucpocalypse, saw on screen was given the exact same emotional reaction as those who were discussing things here and elsewhere in the Chuckverse. I find that comforting and I also find that it stirs up my passion once again because it is clear that a number of folks saw exactly what was to come, an unsatisfying, quick, unearned solution that left huge issues unresolved. These folks saw it before it even happened. Therefore it gives me pause that TPTB didn’t. Or that they simply didn’t sweat those kind of details like we have been describing.

        I guess what I’m asking for is a new approach, a new view that somehow makes it all make sense because clearly nothing I have seen or read has so far. I simply can’t get from the point we are at and the beginning of AH to DYLM without ignoring everything they have told me until then. That is why as I move on in my re watch I can’t do this period because it doesn’t make sense and is just too agonizing and un-entertaining. There is a limit to what I can ignore and still enjoy what I’m watching. In S3 it went way way way past that limit and right now we are in one of those peaks for me where it just is so disheartening.

        I would contend that I’m not in a box or if I am none of the ladders that have been handed to me are real enough or sound enough for me to use to climb out. (Excuse the cheesy metaphor) An explanation where I have to press my head against the glass so hard that my head hurts to see the ocean is not an ocean view. That’s what we have here. Hey I love the DYLM scene, I just wish I had seen the road that brought them there instead of closing my eyes and ignoring the chasm we are now faced with.

  11. oldresorter says:

    Tossed this in here, hope you don’t mind? Not exactly the intersect, but where indeed will we be in 50 years? 50 years ago, star trek used things pretty much like cell phones called communicators, will “The Intersect” be common place in 50 years?

    http://news.yahoo.com/tiny-helicopter-piloted-human-thoughts-232017848.html

  12. resaw says:

    In the interest of proper communication, concerning the red test, the proper expression is “rite of passage” (as in a ritual practice) rather than a “right of passage” (as in a right of way?).

    Carry on….

    • Joel says:

      Yeah, you’re rite (just kidding!) I realized that after I posted it.

    • atcDave says:

      Got it, thanks. I just need a spell checker that can spot homonyms! Maybe that thought wave technology Jason was just posting about…

    • Dave says:

      resaw

      Speaking of “right of way”, after OG some FF writers thought “Cedez le Passage” was a location in Paris. In fact, it’s a traffic sign that means “yield right of way”. I always thought that was a hoot.

      Oh, I guess a reference, we see it in OG as a sign right next to Sarah when Shaw tranqs her.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s funny!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Yeah, there were at least two stories (can’t recall the titles off the top of my head) that had time date stamps for “Cedez le Passage, Paris, France”. There have to be at least 10,000 of these signs in Paris. I laughed out loud when I saw them. My military service took me to Paris three times. Never really fell in love with the place, but the food was damn good.

      • atcDave says:

        You know the really sad thing, the writer probably felt so clever for noticing that sign too!

      • atcDave says:

        That’s the sort of thing that happens so often when a story of any sort goes into an area you know something about. Years ago I was asked by a writer to look at a flying passage they’d written. I’m so glad I saw it first! They had the pilot leaving the cockpit unattended for an extended period. I guess it’s just good the writer knew to ask, I’ve seen plenty of others where I wish they knew to ask!

        But “cedez le passage” is so awful because like I said, I bet they were so pleased with their own cleverness (“oh, I see that sign! I can say exactly where it is…”)

  13. Jason says:

    Burn Notice 7th and final season. I suspect the story will end happy unlike Chuck’s 5th season, but I doubt the journey will be worth the destination. One thing I wonder about Chuck s3, in Burn Notice, Fiona is hooked up with a new LI as the season starts, would Sham have worked better if Chuck had done that. Some of the worst Chuck s3 stuff was the time spent putting Sham together? My guess is the actors would have been more comfortable too (both of them), and all the hand waving about Shaw’s a great spy, a nice guy, Sham is a perfect match, etc, would have not been done ahead of time rather than while the writers were trying to tell / sell a compelling spy story / mystery. My guess is Chuck and Sarah would have talked more too, and they would have been less awkward. The way the season was done, it felt like nobody knew what was going on, fans, actors, characters, or the writers.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m very close to just deleting Burn Notice. The show has grown progressively darker over the years, and S7 is off to a particularly rough start. The whole separation/isolation of the team doesn’t work for me, and I’m never a fan of the OLIs. The only reason I might stick it out is because it is ending.

  14. authorguy says:

    I don’t know how many of you are much into reading, but here’s a blog post you all might appreciate anyway: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2013/06/07/the-destructive-twist/

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, I’d say that young lady did a pretty nice job of summing up my frustration.

      My wife and I just finished a re-watch of Remington Steele (well, not quite a re-watch, I’d never seen the last two seasons). Interesting that S5 of RS essentially made EXACTLY the same mistakes as S3 of Chuck. They introduced PLIs (okay, real PLIs, nothing actually happened) and made both main characters far less likable. Really to a painful degree they made their characters less likable. Steele was a neurotic flake and Laura was a total b***h. And they concocted a story that kept the two leads separated for most of the time. Basically, they sucked all the joy out of a show that previously had been a lot of fun.
      And this was in a limited short season that they KNEW was the end of the show. Like Chuck, they finally ended the season in a nice place. But like Chuck, it felt like a “well now it’s ending, time to wrap everything up…” So much of what happened was ignored and never adequately resolved.
      As I’ve said before, and it applies to both S3 of Chuck and S5 of Remington Steele, they shouldn’t break what they aren’t prepared to fix. And by that, I mean DON’T BREAK IT!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I totally agree with your last sentence (or sentence fragment at least). As someone who was hooked on the DVDs between S2 and S3, I have to say as I researched the show I found that based on things like TV Guide, People’s Choice and Teen Choice awards, we had arguably the hottest couple which contained arguably the hottest woman on TV. As I have said before, quoting someone on these threads “It’s as if they didn’t watch their own show!” I was astounded that they didn’t saddle that pony and ride it for all it was worth (the hottest couple thing I mean). If one thing in all of this boggles my mind to this day is they blew up the hottest couple, turned them into essentially adversaries and made them fairly unlikeable as individuals. Amazing!

        That’s why, while I have tried to retain as much as possible of what was shown, my alternatives have corrected all of this. I mean C&S did IT at the end of Colonel, they started with a little Tiff but were willing to have another go were it not for Shaw and have worked together maintaining their relationship up to this point. In my alternatives they did the DYLM in episode 11 not 13. I have corrections for 12 and 13 as well.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah watch out for my killer sentence fragments!

        It was amusing (in the most painful sort of way) to so see how nearly exactly RS made those same sort of mistakes 25 years earlier. They weren’t watching their own show either! The television romance model has been broken for a long time.

        The alternates thread will be up in just a few hours, so get ready with all those ideas!

    • oldresorter says:

      From the article, “Communicating badly then acting smug when you’re misunderstood is not cleverness.” Oh yeah, love that.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with much of her point, though I’m not sure we are talking about a destructive twist here. The destructive nature of Season 3 began long before the introduction of Shaw and the ultimate twist. The destructive thing was the contrived and manipulative nature of how they executed the extension of WTWT one more time. But her point

      The author has spent most of the book creating a world and characters in whose fate I have grown to have a vested interest. Then the plot twist comes about to reveal that it was all a lie. With that, the author completely negates everything they’ve just established.

      does get to much of the heart of the matter here. In forcing the WTWT they destroyed much of the reason I was so invested in the characters and the relationship. Then to introduce the “twist” they had to destroy them even more. Ultimately that destruction was so devastating and so much investment was lost to so many in the fanbase that the actual twist became irrelevant. That is a case where the attempt to be clever hurt them because they held on to the twist for far too long and the behavior it finally explained became meaningless because I for one was not invested in that story anymore, not that I ever had been but still.

      I’m looking forward to the new thread tonight as I actually did re-watch Hero last night and some things became really evident to me that go to much of this issue.

    • Joel says:

      I think that dragging will they/won’t they out for a really long time can only really work if:
      1. Both characters (rather than just one of them) have a strong reason to not pursue the relationship even if they want it, and…
      2. The relationship between the characters is just a part of the show, just one of many things that motivate the characters, and not one of the main things that drives it.

      Inara and Mal in Firefly is an example of one that meets both. It could have lasted quite awhile without becoming too much of a drag on the show.

      • atcDave says:

        A couple of excellent points Joel. I like to focus on it as an entertainment issue; because Chuck and Sarah together was a huge selling point of the show, keeping them apart for much of the season the way they did was directly attacking what I had found most entertaining about the show.
        But I think the way you put it gets more to the heart of it. With no really compelling internal or external reasons for their separation after S2 it started to feel more contrived and manipulative. And less like a good or honest story.

        As to your point 2, I suspect how we as viewers answer that is key to how much we enjoyed S3. Those of us who saw many facets to the story as equally compelling were likely more satisfied with the nature of the main arc; Chuck’s solo journey, the spy story, and the minor character’s stories were compelling enough to make the show enjoyable while the central relationship was on hold. While those of us who saw the central relationship as the primary draw, and other stories as subsidiary (even if they are often an enjoyable subsidiary) were less likely to be pleased with what we saw.

      • authorguy says:

        Bones another. I fully enjoyed their non-relationship, and felt no angst that it took them as long as it did to finally hook up.

      • Joel says:

        Well, that’s a good question. I’m somewhere in between. More than most people in the alternatives thread, I can still enjoy other parts of the show – I think there’s a lot of great fun with the secondary characters in American Hero, for example.

        On the other hand, the angst is given so much focus that it still weighs the show down even if I’m not invested in the relationship as a lot of people here. It’s hard to completely set it aside when so much screen time is given to Shaw and will they/won’t they. Some episodes do better with it than others.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with much of that. In the case of Mal and Inara it’s hard to predict based on the very few number of episodes that the show had or in fact the number of times it is mentioned. In season 1 the growing relationship between Chuck and Sarah is an integral part of almost the entire season and the biggest dramatic moments of that season directly affect that relationship. In Firefly they don’t. It is a subtext part of the story and not a major driving force. That allows the WTWT to go on longer. In Serenity it barely gets a mention but the ending is hopeful enough that folks are ok with its resolution or at least I am.

      In Chuck the relationship was possibly the most significant storyline constant throughout the first 2 seasons so those that say we should be happy it took just 48 episodes to get them together as compared to other shows miss the point. If so much of the focus is on WTWT then your workable methods of extending it become more limited and it forces you into either putting them together earlier or destroying the investment your viewers have made in the relationship. The latter is what happened in Chuck. It was so blatant an attempt to extend it that the reasons for it reek of contrivance and the man behind the curtain. Then when it gets resolved like we will be discussing shortly, it becomes very unfulfilling because the contrivance of putting them together is just as blatant. They became the victim of their own success in storytelling for the first 2 seasons and when they tried to throw in the relationship twist, it felt like a betrayal because it was. They tried to be too clever and paid the price with a major portion of the existing fanbase either departing for good or being very disillusioned.

      • Joel says:

        Right, we can’t be sure what would have actually happened with Mal and Inara. With Inara planning to leave in the last two episodes and with Simon and Kaylee almost certainly coming first, though, my feeling is that it would have been awhile if they ever got together.

        “I KNEW you let her kiss you!” is one of my favorite lines on the show, by the way.

  15. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Final Exam (3.11) | Chuck This

  16. Vish says:

    I see that I’m really late to the party and don’t know if any of you are still around, but I’ll leave my comment anyway.

    Not sure if it’s been already mentioned elsewhere, but I think they missed a great opportunity here to redeem Sarah. I haven’t really thought about it from all angles and how it would work out afterward, but here it is. After the heartfelt stake-date, I wanted Sarah to be a bit more self-aware and fight for her love. I didn’t like that they made her give up so completely. I understand the self-sacrifice and all, but I’d rather have her fighting. So when Shaw forces her into giving Chuck his red test, that’d be the last straw for her, considering her own experience. Then the restaurant scene becomes the perfect opportunity to call back the momentous “Take off your watch.” Have them partnered up and fool their incompetent boss! Just imagine! Many fans would have irrupted with joy! I know I would have!

    But sadly, they weren’t finished with her destruction yet.

    • atcDave says:

      That would have been awesome!

      Yeah I agree entirely something a little more was needed here. As you put it, they weren’t done destroying Sarah yet, so nothing good happens here. I think through the whole misery arc it was here and Fake Name where things just HAD to be different.

      So yes, we’re still here! Well some of us are. And hopefully this site will remain for a long time yet.

    • Wilf says:

      I do agree with you. Sarah could really have come through for Chuck at that point but, of course, the powers that be weren’t ready to veer off their (self-deluded) path.

      • Man, S3.0 is sooooooooooooo bad; I can’t believe there was ever a time when I liked it, no path at all for Sarah and terrible communication between her and Chuck.

        Can somebody explain why so many shows (past and present) seem to have a S3 curse, I don’t get it…

      • atcDave says:

        If I had to guess, I would say S3 is about the point where show runners start thinking they need to shake things up to keep the show fresh. For Chuck, that meant Intersect 2.0, agent training, and a new team leader. Combine that with guessing exactly WRONG on what existing elements they should keep (relationship angst) and Chuck was a perfect storm of a mess up. Okay, to be fair, the relationship angst was the only one of those elements that really screwed things up. Although I think Shaw might have been a dud even without his fling with Agent Walker. Maybe.

        it may be fair to say too that S3 really is about when audiences NEED certain change to keep things fresh. That need, combined with actual little tweaks on the show, means the possibility of a disconnect is pretty high. Although one show we’re watching just fumbled an S2 pretty badly (Supergirl… fail) So I guess it can happen at any time.

  17. Vish says:

    I wanted to reply to Josh, but it seems I can’t. None of the third row replies have the reply option it seems.

    Anyway, I’m unable to recall any shows (other than Chuck) with S3 curse but can name plenty which aren’t affected by it. Well, I tend to drop a lot because of low tolerance for annoying things. I especially stay away from WT/WT ones, unless I really like the characters.

    Person of Interest had a very strong S3, probably some of the finest hours of TV I’ve seen. POI had plenty of those throughout the series. Castle S3 was pretty consistent with few great episodes. Continuum, Elementary, TBBT, House, Mentalist, White Collar, Warehouse 13, Penny Dreadful, Motive, Millennium, The Killing, Halt and Catch Fire, all had good / great S3. Many UK shows maintain fairly consistent quality throughout their run. Foyle’s War, Prime Suspect, Cracker, Black Mirror, Endeavour, Line of Duty, Luther, to name a few. There are also quite a few which I really liked never reached S3 or even S2. Chuck was very lucky on that front.

    Seriously though, what were Chuck creators thinking? I’ve rarely seen a show going sooo off the mark!! Couple of episodes here and there I can understand, but almost whole season!! I did enjoy the last few, but the dead rising twice was one too many. Honeymooners was a classic though. I loved the Charleseses!

    • atcDave says:

      This site only allows our replies to go two deep. We’ve always used this more like a forum than Word Press really intends. If there is no reply where want one, just scroll up to the first available. That will put you in line at the end.

      As for what they were thinking, we can never really know. But I have a guess! I think they thought we were all wildly drawn to the wt/wt aspect of the main couple. But they were completely wrong. I think romantic tension was not ever really the strength of this show, and the audience wasn’t teenage girls. I think an overwhelming number of us were watching to see a good couple ready fight for each other. Having them give up and drift apart was categorically the worst thing they could have done.
      Once they fixed things in “Other Guy” the life quickly returned to the show.

      • Vish says:

        Alright. Thanks.

        Yup. Agreed. I don’t really know anything about the showrunners, but somehow I feel they lacked certain maturity with their handling of drama and dark elements. It left a lot to be desired. They also overdid the angst and wasted few heartfelt, powerful moments for laughs. They had such a terrific cast… Oh well.

      • atcDave says:

        They sure did have a terrific cast! Really extraordinary.
        The first show runner, Josh Schwartz, was also responsible for The OC and Gossip Girl; so he was well rooted in teen angst.
        I think Chris Fedak is more of an action adventure sort of guy. Chuck was his first show, he has since done Forever and Legends of Tomorrow.

        I do think Chuck shows a certain immaturity in how certain details were handled, it was sort of a coming of age story for the producers and writers in addition to the characters themselves! That the end result is so appealing and compelling can only be serendipity.

      • Vish says:

        The OC and Gossip Girl. Kind of shows I consciously stay away from. So I’m guessing Schwartz was responsible for S3 angst extravaganza!

        Legends of Tomorrow also doesn’t seem like a show I’d be interested in. I did see few episodes of Forever, but it failed to keep me interested. But if Chuck was Fedak’s first show, then he’s the guy to look out for. And hope to see some more Chuck magic maybe.

        Btw, sorry about the mostly negative S3 talk. I found this blog while searching for something to make sense about what the heck happened in Pink Slip and afterwards. I was really glad to find many amazing discussions exploring the depths of these beautiful characters, but sadly I don’t really see much of it on the screen. We shouldn’t have to work this hard to make sense of it all. Especially on the show like Chuck, which is supposed to be fun action comedy mixed with occasional drama. Though the cast always outdid themselves with the material given and made it something special. Especially Miss Strahovski. What a find she was.

        Have you able to find any other shows similar to Chuck with lovable characters but less angsty drama? I managed to find few but most of them never went beyond S1.

      • atcDave says:

        We’re no strangers to the negative S3 talk here! The season does have its defenders, like Ernie Davis here, but the bulk of commentary was negative. And ultimately, what you just said, is exactly why I have no patience with it. If what they’re getting at isn’t obvious, and requires hundreds or thousands of words to decipher, then it was a failure.

        Similar shows is something we all spent much time trying to find. As well as “why is this show popular with Chuck fans?”
        The obvious one is Castle. Although Castle had some different problems than Chuck and I think the last season boarders on really lousy (they really should have ended a year before they did). But much of the show is funny and sweet in a way familiar to Chuck fans. The main couple takes longer to get together, but in significant ways they start farther apart. And in spite of serious reservations about the final season it doesn’t end badly.
        I always thought Psych had some similarities. Although that’s more of a buddy show first (it be like if Chuck and Morgan were always the center of attention and Sarah was just a secondary character). It’s also much sillier, more of a pure comedy than a “dramedy”.
        An excellent one season effort would be Limitless. Really a shame that didn’t last longer, and it is slightly darker; but really terrific and definitely Chuck-like for it one season. And it has a better end than many one season shows do.

        I may think of some others later.

      • Vish says:

        I should’ve mentioned Castle. I was a Caskett fan before I got into Chuck. Nathan brought me to it, but Stana won me over. Just like Yvonne, Stana was a surprise find with some serious acting chops. I enjoyed the pilot immensely and was pretty much hooked by the time Kate said,”You have no idea.” Loved their witty, flirty banter, theorizing foreplay and “I know who the killer is” eyegasms. First 5 seasons were great. But the conspiracies kept getting bigger (and sillier) and I started losing interest. I did watch till the end, but mostly for Caskett banter and witty humor. ‘The Nose’ lady from S8 was hilarious. AU episode was great. And the ‘Morgan’ from the future was fun. Castle also had one Agent ‘Shaw’, but she was super-efficient and really good at her job. The Series ending, though rushed, did put a smile on my face. Caskett deserved their happy ending. And I’m hopeful for Mr & Mrs. Walker’s.

        I was already fan of the Mentalist, so Psych didn’t interest me. I did check out the pilot but dropped it. Will check out Limitless. I liked the movie. Is it like a continuation or reboot?

        If you find time, do check out ‘The Finder’ and ‘The Good Guys’. Both lasted only 1 season, but both are ‘fun’ shows without much drama and characters are really likable. The ‘imposing’ Michael Clarke Duncan and Mercedes Mason from the Cat Squad are regulars in The Finder.
        And ‘The Good Guys’ features the hilarious Bradley Whitford and good guy Colin Hanks. Sarah’s dad Gary Cole also makes a couple of appearances. Also check out ‘Warehouse 13’. Again a fun show with likable characters but with some serious elements. Secret Service agents hunting down supernatural objects can be tricky. Watch out for H. G. Wells (my favorite recurring character) resurrection.

      • noblz says:

        There is a show from 2014 (I think) called “Intelligence” it is only available on Amazon I believe. Remarkably like “Chuck”. Sadly, only lasted 13 episodes.

      • atcDave says:

        Just remember, Psych came first, Mentalist is the copy cat!

      • thinkling says:

        I never could get into (Psych or Finder), but I really liked Mentalist. Mentalist did a great job with resolving the main plot line and then remaking itself. It also gave a nice final season to resolve the wt/wt.

      • atcDave says:

        I always add Grimm for loopy, funny, crazy. Although the best couple are the secondary characters Monroe and Rosalee.

      • atcDave says:

        I failed to mention before re Limitless.
        It is set some time after the events of the Bradley Cooper movie. The show’s characters are all new, with a new story. But Eddie Morra does have a part to play… and Bradley Cooper is among the executive producers of the show.

      • anthropocene says:

        The opening titles for “Limitless” with the fractal zoom were pretty cool, almost as cool as the “Chuck” opening titles. It is too bad the show didn’t make it to S2…it was starting to hit something of a stride toward the end. Piper Baird, though only a recurring character, struck me as a nice blend of Sarah and Ellie.

      • atcDave says:

        More Limitless would have been great! It might be the best one season show since Firefly.
        At least the ending wrapped things up without any big cliffies.

      • thinkling says:

        I enjoyed Limitless and was sorry that it was not renewed, though I agree that they wrapped it up nicely. I booted Castle to the curb in the last season. Just hated where they went with the marriage. Scorpion continues to pile up on my PVR, and I watch it periodically … same with the superhero class. If you can find Jake 2.0, it’s worth a watch, even though it ends abruptly. I really wish it had continued. It may be the most Chuck-like, along with Liitless. We still like NCIS and its LA version as well … New Orleans, not so much.

        As to other stuff not like Chuck: I still love Madam Secretary. Keep up weekly. Ransom holds out possibilities. Still like Blue Bloods.

        For any history lovers I recommend Crown, a Netflix original about Queen Elizabeth, and Foyle’s War, which has become one of my all time favorite series. Foyle’s War is a British murder mystery series set before, during, and after WWII: great characters, good stories, and an interesting stroll through WWII life in Britain. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime w/ Acorn subscription.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Madam Secretary has become must see TV for us.

        I think we skipped half the last season of Castle. They really botched it up. But it did end well. I miss the show, but in the end it’s a good example of going on too long; to the point the leads hated each other.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, have you tried Foyle’s War? I thought of you while we watched it, because of your interest in the war.

      • Vish says:

        Foyle’s War was a class act. Michael Kitchen was fantastic.

      • thinkling says:

        Yup, yup, yup. And I loved Sam. One of the creators’ goals was to make it as historically accurate as possible, which was an interesting plus for me. Some of the extras and interviews were fascinating.

      • Vish says:

        Sam was a sweetheart. Loved her. It’s been 2 years I’m still looking for Foyle’s replacement. Tried Murdoch, Morse, Downton, Sherlock. Nothing comes close. Thankfully found ‘Endeavour’ last year. Just finished the 4th season. Can’t wait for next. Not in the class of Foyle but still a great watch. The use classical music and poetic camerawork makes a mesmerizing experience.

      • atcDave says:

        Sounds like Foyle’s War is one I’ll have to look for!

      • Vish says:

        I’m thinking of watching 24:LAD in next week or two, to check out YS performance in it. Can I watch it as a standalone series or do I need to watch previous seasons of 24?

      • noblz says:

        Yvonne does a great job in 24:LAD. I never watched 24 before and was able to follow it just fine. They actually do a good job of filling in the back stories.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I had only watched the very first season of 24 and I had no problem following along.
        There is certainly a lot of history and background you won’t know, but it’s not key to the story.

      • thinkling says:

        Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Keep that mouse a scrolling Blog post. Long thread.

        I liked Murdoch. Still do. It’s fun how he invents the precursors to so many modern inventions. I’ll have to try Endeavour. It looks interesting. I like a lot of the British series.

        Agreed that you can watch 24LAD with no prior 24 experience.

      • Vish says:

        Sorry about the long thread. I started it.

        Yeah, Murdoch is fun. I like how they handled the lead romance. A bit of angst, lots of charm, maturity, sweet moments. I’m still watching. But I feel they should wrap it up now. Last few episodes were average at best.

        Yep. British produce lots of gems. I like their 3-6 90 mins episodes per year format.
        If you don’t mind dark and gritty, do check out ‘Cracker’ starring Robie Coltrain. What a memorable set of characters. Robie Coltrain as ‘Fitz’ is unforgettable. So is Geraldine Somerville and Lorcan Cranitch. Few of the stories are truly haunting. Amazing series.

        Thanks. Can’t wait to see Kate Morgan in action.

      • Vish says:

        *Robbie Coltrane*. Need edit function.

  18. I watch the entire DC lineup and Supernatural on CW; plus TBBT, Scorpion, and all (soon to be four) Chicago shows, all of these are great for various reasons…of the DC lineup, the flash is my favorite (cast is the winner here) but LOT has been much better in S2! I’ve watched every last episode of supernatural in its 12 and counting years and though the original storyline of S1-5 is the peak of the show’s quality, J2 will keep me watching till the end and writers still deliver a few gems every season. Despite what many people think big bang is still extremely funny, the humor has just changed as the characters have grown. Scorpion seems to have followed a very similar path as CHUCK; its wt/wt execution has been much better, mainly because they have not crossed that line and then taken it back as Chuck once did. The Chicago shows are more of a guilty pleasure and Dick Wolf seems to have a knack for making shows people will watch. I echo everything said about Castle and Chuck too both similar and both great-i liked S8 of the former, though I thought the end was lame

  19. Also happy to say that I see no trace of Daniel Shaw in ray palmer and I’m glad routh has a role that he can do better with

    • thinkling says:

      agreed. That was nice, as I wondered how I would feel about Ray Palmer, but it turned out fine. … Well, not for Ray Palmer.

  20. Vish says:

    So many new replies! I feel like yelling,”IT’S ALIVE!!”

    Noblz, I saw the ‘Intelligence’ when it was airing. I kinda have a weak spot for the leading lady Meghan Ory. She was the main reason I saw it. Wasn’t a great show, but I liked it.

    Thinkling, same here. Couldn’t get into ‘Psych’ at all. I liked the chemistry between the ‘Mentalist’ cast. Simon Baker (another talented Aussie) as Patrick Jane was a perfect fit. Such a fascinating character. Lisbon was cute as a button. But they dragged out Red John too long IMO. Bradley Whitford was much better. RJ saga should have ended there. That was a great finale.

    Dave, I watched ‘Grimm’ till the main guy, can’t recall his name, turned dark. Dropped it around that time. Somehow lost interest. Agree about Monroe and Rosalee though. Liked them better than the main pair.

    Josh, I watched ‘Supernatural’ till last season, but dropped it after finale. I had enough. I’ve never read any DC, Marvel comics, so I check out the pilot and go from there. I enjoyed ‘Daredevil’ immensely. Characters were great. Fight choreography was phenomenal. The villain could have been better though. He came off like a big, whiny baby. Couldn’t get into ‘Jessica Jones’. I liked ‘Agent Carter’ as well.

    Currently, I’m enjoying ‘Timeless’ and ‘The Expanse’. Both Sci-Fi. Some serious and dark stuff, but done right.

    And again, I can’t recommend ‘11.22.63’ enough. Probably one of my favorite endings ever. Absolutely beautiful. Lead pair is very likable. Especially Sarah Gadon. She’s a dream. My heart skips a beat every time she smiles. And James Franco’s performance was very heartfelt. It’s only 8 episodes, so do give it a try.

    • oldresorter says:

      agreed on 11.22.63. The scene in the hospital with Sarah Gadon and Franco, might have been one of the best scenes I’ve seen – caught me completely off guard how they handled it, one of those times where the writers outdid my expectations. As you said, she was completely charming the entire time, while he basically was a one man acting force start to finish. Ending nailed it, consistent with the way the show was written, and the message the show was sending.

  21. Ernie Davis says:

    Well if we’re discussing favorite TV shows here are my favorites at present. Lucifer is a fun show if you just ignore the pseudo-theology and just enjoy it at face value. I watch Timeless, Agents of Shield, Blindspot, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, This is Us (fantastic new show with a lot of Pittsburgh references from when I was growing up there), New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Big Bang Theory, The Great Indoors (meh, I mostly watch it for Joel McHale loyalty). I started watching Powerless to support Dani Pudi and Alan Tudyk and it has been pretty good. I tore through The Crown in a few days and loved it. I’ve started on The People vs. OJ, so far so good. Things that are oh hiatus that I watch are Outlander, iZombie, Red Oaks, and The Americans. My list of single season wonders is Firefly (of course), Wonderfalls, Enlisted and one called Bent that NBC killed off in about 3 weeks. Also The Black Donnelleys is good but it ends on a supposed cliffhanger that they never got to resolve. It is still probably worth a watch. My So Called Life is good to go way back (as is Freaks and Geeks) and also Terriers and Life As We Know It was good, but Kelly Osbourne kind of bugged me, but was still worth it. I kind of still watch Supergirl and Gotham in fits and starts. I watch You’re the Worst and love it, but it requires a certain … I don’t know how to frame it, a certain tolerance or maybe cynicism about the typical RomCom to really enjoy it.

    I haven’t gotten around to Stranger Things or The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt’s second season but am planning on it. I’m working my way through Rectify and The Man in the High Castle, but they both have a certain bent that makes them something you need to be in the mood for to enjoy.

    • Ernie, Stranger things is fantastic I tore through all 8 episodes in one non-stop sitting. The real sell here is the mysterious girl. I’d say 85% of the time she says nothing or very little but the skill of her non-verbal acting is, extremely compelling…she’s like Yovonne in that way

  22. mr2686 says:

    Count me as another fan of the one season wonder Limitless. CBS really didn’t know what to do with that show. They had a few times during it’s short run where there were 2 and 3 weeks in between episodes (which I guess a lot of shows are doing now)…I really hate when then do that.
    Nice to see fans of 11.22.63 here. It’s been high on my Amazon buy list for several weeks. I think I’ll move it up. I’m also hoping for Timeless to be renewed. I think that’s one of the best new shows on TV.
    As for Chuck, I’ve tried to keep up a twice a year re-watch schedule (probably more like 3 times every 2 years) and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’m softening on a lot of the things I didn’t like…mainly Jill and Shaw. Most episodes that were low “good” or even poor, are now at least good and I enjoy watching every episode…and of course, I still think The Goodbye is the best finale of all time. (now taking cover…LOL).

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