Season Three Alternative: American Hero

Well finally we get to a truly dynamite episode.  No more cheap angst or hand wringing.  This is the episode where everything really turns around.  Between a good main story with Chuck as the true hero, Sarah finally shaking out of her slump, and a completely satisfying “B” plot for the secondary characters this episode shows how good the show can be when its firing on all cylinders.

The realm of alternatives and fan fiction is as good here as at any point in the series too.  Between Chuck and Sarah facing issues of Red Tests, and a possible reassignment to Rome, a lot is presented here to fire the imagination.  After the jump, we’ll look at the penultimate episode of the front arc of Season Three.

I think the humor in American Hero is extremely well done.  Especially the attempted reunion of Chuck and Sarah by ambush; Devon, Morgan and Casey all get their moments to shine.  Later Jeff and Lester will be key to the story in a most humorous way too.  This is the sort of thing Chuck so often does better than any other show.  By giving us quirky characters we can like and root for, and putting a lot on the line, it is easy to invest in the humor and cheer along.

But of course my favorite element of this episode is how Chuck gets to be the big hero, for Sarah’s sake.  He succeeds enough to get a sort of second hearing from her, and his declarations of love, along with what he’s learned about what really matters most to him is enough to finally break through the walls Zombie Sarah has put up over the course of the season.  Sarah’s decision in the end, to run off with Chuck, may be an inadequate resolution in the full context of Season Three, but as a stand alone moment it is wonderful and satisfying to see.  Even better when Casey puts her fears to rest, and satisfies Sarah she’s made the best possible decision.  Tossing her gun on the bed may be oddly inappropriate given her life and future, but it was a wonderful gesture. Great moment, great television.

So I have a question.  How many readers have figured out that Joe and I are messing with you?  Neither of us have quite lied; but I think Joe, in the main post, and myself here, have just pushed our actual opinions of American Hero to ridiculous extremes.  Joe wanted to me to post the following comment, to set straight his actual feelings:

Whooo! I was so glad to get that out of my system! Yes, that critique I wrote about Chuck vs. The American Hero contains my honest feelings about the episode and about S3, but now I must be honest with you. It wasn’t complete, either.

Now that Dave has explained how we swapped viewpoints (oooooh that was fun!) I want to add to my last line; “I finished American Hero feeling like a miracle needs to happen.” But like we’ve seen often in Chuck, the next episode starts at the very end of the current episode. Oh yes, that miracle is about to occur and starts with Sarah throwing her gun on the bed. She’s leaving something behind – her spy life, her old life. What’s there on the night stand is her future. It’s a picture – the picture – of her and Chuck. We’ll see it again.

For now, it’s only a subtle promise made by TPTB, and specifically, I think, by Chris Fedak. He’s asking us to hang in there; we’re moments away. In fact, I think it’s an apology for having taken so long. Sarah will appreciate the tank.

For myself, I would have to say in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t really like American Hero all that much.  But I don’t dislike it as much as most previous episodes either.  Some of that is just the relief of seeing things getting resolved in the end. But it still suffers greatly from the greater context problem of just how bad Sarah looks thinking she should be with Daniel Shaw.  Even worse, she lashes out at Chuck in pretty ugly fashion and completes the abandonment she started way back in Pink Slip.  As far as that goes, this episode finds another sort of rock bottom.  But unlike most other misery arc episodes, American Hero finally ends on an up note, more or less.  Sarah running off with Shaw at the end may be another of those gross manipulations we’ve complained about all season long; but Sarah has finally made an epic decision.  And its one we’ve been waiting on almost since the start of the show (or at least since she made the same decision last season…); Sarah wants to be with Chuck, whether they will be spies together, or find something else.  Those details will take the rest of the series to work out and go through several revisions along the way, but the big decision has been made.  Next week, Chuck gets to find out about it.  The story will move forward from here, no more wandering in circles.

One last thought about the episode itself; when Chuck first confronts Sarah in the episode he mentions how this is what he always wanted and now they can be together.  To me, this really underlines the futility of the entire arc!  It makes Chuck’s time with Hannah out to be the cheesy, shallow fling it seemed to be.  I’ll go a step further and say it basically destroys much of the apologist position.  If Chuck was really planning on becoming an agent to be with Sarah all along, it makes all the misunderstandings and heartache of the season that much more bitter and pointless.  There truly was no real character growth (apart from as an agent, I do not mean to deny that) if the struggle and lessons learned of the whole season were just to get back to the starting point.  Of course, that’s what we detractors were saying all along.  It’s nothing but a reset.  American Hero just puts a ribbon on it.  Now I never mean to say any viewer is wrong to enjoy the show!  But I think claiming great growth and great journeys from a circle is wrong too.  In a way, all television may be a gigantic waste of time; except as entertainment.  So if you enjoy the season that’s plenty enough reward.  But when the show is no fun, and even its “importance” is suspect, the wastage seems even greater.

So what could have worked better here?  I think the “short fix” really requires very little tweaking.  That is, if we can make peace with so much of what’s come before.  But mostly I’m just annoyed with how happy Sarah seems to be on her date with Shaw.  Seems like a small thing.  But it plays back to one of the major complaints with the whole misery arc, Zombie Sarah is barely recognizable from the character we knew for two years before.  Shaw is a cretin and Sarah needs to recognize him as such.  And even worse, she’s acting less zombie-like than we’ve seen.  This really speaks poorly of her discernment if she can find happiness or contentment with Daniel Shaw.  We can know she’s fooling herself, or trying to.  She’s trying to find something in Shaw he doesn’t have to give.  But we’ve seen all the evidence of this all season long, so Sarah looking like she’s making peace with it really doesn’t reflect well on her.  It is just painful to watch as a viewer, and painful in the way of making our heroine look like an idiot once again.  The decision she reaches in the end simply needed to be a much easier decision.

The “long fix” would be far more satisfying for this episode because of all the baggage we’re dealing with.  More than anything, long fix has to mean Chuck and Sarah have been working together from the start.  Of course that negates the value of a “getting them back together” story.  Which is too bad in way, because it was so funny having the whole gang “helping” Chuck out.  But I would happily give up one funny sequence to get a story that is more satisfying and appealing.

There are a few key things happening in this episode even if Chuck and Sarah are happily together.  The first is Chuck becoming an agent.  This could be a great moment.  As seen, its a little underwhelming because of the huge Charah distraction.  But I can imagine a story where maybe it means Chuck and Sarah could finally come out in the open.  I like the idea of all the people they’ve “convinced” they weren’t really a couple responding now that they finally are.  Of course some characters, like Casey and Morgan, were probably in on it all along.  And perhaps Ellie and Devon had strong suspicions.  While Shaw will feel like an idiot once again as he discovers that Sarah was resisting his charms in favor of the nerd.  Could have been very funny to see a narcissistic super spy try to come to terms with that reality.

This also might be a fun place to play with the idea of Chuck trying to assure that Sarah will remain on his team.  Perhaps Beckman and/or Shaw is still big on the idea of Chuck being a solo operator.  While Chuck and Sarah are trying to convince them that Chuck needs a team.  A combination of sales pitch and threats could be entertaining.  Time for Charah to go on the offensive!

The last big thing is Shaw’s reveal as a baddie.  Imagine a world where we all might have cared!  That’s what I want to see.  Chuck’s mentor, friend, and partner turns out to be so bent on revenge he turns on Sarah (and Chuck).  With no love interest this could become a big story.  So perhaps we loose a funny restaurant scene early in the episode, we could have gained so much more with different story-telling decisions.  This will always be a huge lost opportunity.

So how has fan fiction dealt with this episode?  As I indicated last week, this really is one of the great crisis points from Chuck canon.  Many tales have spun off from the end of training/Rome assignment issues.  Many of these stories are very well crafted and thought out, but, there is so much baggage from canon at this point, I’m not sure how many of them are actually better.  One positive most do share, is the idea that more explanation/apology/redemption was needed from our main characters.  My feelings are always mixed about drawing things out too long.  As I’ve indicated many times, I don’t really do “dark”.  With the show, I was just so pleased to finally get something I actually wanted to watch back on the air I was willing to over-look quite a lot.  No doubt, I would have rejected a longer fix if it had wasted a whole episode or more.  But with fan fiction things can be a little different.  The written word is clearly better at introspection and complicated character stories than television usually is.

So with all that in mind, I do have a few very well thought out American Hero AUs.  KateMcK is clearly determined to make season three better.  She has tried twice on this episode.  The first is “Sarah vs the ugly truth“.  This goes back to Chuck’s first plea with Sarah to trust him; when Sarah says she doesn’t, Chuck reacts oppositely from the show.  He decides Sarah is a tease who’s been playing him and determines to walk away.  Not a fun start.  But it does put Sarah in the position of pursuer.  It does deal with Sham in a quick and painless way, and ultimately leads to a good resolution and end.  Certainly more complete and thorough than canon.

Her second attempt is “Chuck vs the fight: New Year’s Edition“.  I think this is really one of her very best efforts.  It is set over six months after the events of an alternate American Hero and Other Guy.  Yeah, that’s sort of a double episode AU.  Finding out the “true story” in this alternate is half the fun.  The ways it’s similar, and yet very different from canon are a lot of fun.  It’s not a long read, be sure to check it out.

Next up is something much longer and more involved.  It is “Chuck vs The Rome Assignment” by fogh (currently as a repost from Uplink2 as “foghreups”).  First up, a warning.  This story is not complete.  Apparently fogh had a couple more chapters in mind that he never got around to posting.  It currently ends with quite a cliff hanger and no clear way out.  But the good news is, the things we would consider big issues with regards to canon are dealt with in outstanding fashion.  Fogh takes on a much more involved and painful journey, Chuck and a team are assigned to Rome; a team that pointedly does not include Sarah.  But this is the sort of story that will reward patience.  Sarah and Chuck will work through many issues, including some great scenes with Ellie and Orion.  This is really one of the great stories of this fandom, and one of the very, very best that was never finished.

This is the last of my long alternate posts.  I think I’ll put a short one up next week with Other Guy, and occasional short alternate posts as we continue the re-watch.  As always, be sure to include your own ideas for other ways of telling this story, and I think this discussion could be very satisfying.  For many of us, the misery is now over.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

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

  1. uplink2 says:

    First of all I really want to thank you Dave and the others on the blog Joe, Ernie and Faith for setting up these alternate threads and allowing us to discuss things that have led us too many times to cyclical arguments with no real resolution and no one changing their minds. However these alternate threads have been lively and very active discussions that have been very respectful the great majority of the time. It has allowed us to express our POV and really come to terms with something we care about deeply that disappointed us greatly. How many times we felt betrayed by something we loved. I do want to say to those that say “it’s been 3 years, what’s the big deal you know where it ends up just deal with it” that knowing the destination doesn’t in any way justify the journey nor does it lessen the pain. Simply ignoring it because in the end they end up where they began isn’t a satisfying conclusion to all of this agony. And yes that is what much of this ride was for me, agony. But a part of me actually thinks its great that after all this time I can still get just as heated about all of this as when I was watching it play out week to week. I also think that kind of passion is something showrunners would appreciate and try to foster. But as we have seen so many times they have run far and fast from this controversial season and really never acknowledged it’s failings as profoundly as they should have IMO. But again Dave et al. thanks so much for giving us this place for us to share together, hurt together and revel that a freaking TV show could elicit this much passion 18 months after it went off the air and 3 years since the period we are discussing was aired.

    Now on to the episode in question. Interestingly enough I decided to re-watch this episode last night in preparation for this thread. It is only the second, Tic Tac being the other that I actually did re-watch. In doing so 2 things really stuck out to me this time. First of all I think much of the problems of season 3 are evident in this episode. The first is how incredibly inconsistent Chuck and Sarah are in this episode. They both go through 180 degree flips. Chuck isn’t consistent about what he wants throughout the episode. First he gets his badge and completes the journey he started in Pink Slip. That he sacrificed what he wanted personally, selfishly, to “help other people”. To become a spy for his “friends, my family and you”. But when Sarah rejects him, like he did to her in Prague he has to figure out “how to tell Beckman I’m quitting.” Didn’t he just hear Beckman ask him “what did you think we were training you for?” and that with the millions of dollars spent they were just going to let him walk away like a petulant child who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas? This is where he has treated Sarah as an object, the prize for completing his spy training. When he didn’t get the prize he wants to take his ball and go home.

    Then he goes to the restaurant and ‘eloquently’ tells Sarah he finally knows what he wants, “I want to be a spy and I want to be with you.” But then when he is blunt and honest he tells her “You were right in Prague, we’re perfect for each other and I want to spend the rest of my life with you away from everyone else and away from this spy life.” Well which is it Chuck? Getting on that train in Prague was a mistake or Sarah was right, you should have got on it? That you want to be a spy with Sarah or you want to be with Sarah away from the spy life? You can’t have it both ways. It seems the writers didn’t even read what they had written for a scene just twenty minutes of screen time earlier. Chuck is incredibly inconsistent in this episode.

    Now Sarah. We have talked at length about her betrayal of trust in Chuck for the first time ever when he confronts her in Castle. It is HUGE to me and it meant nothing and was completely swept under the rug. Plus if you look at the pic in the regular thread, Sarah looks disgusted with both of them but yet in the restaurant she seems thrilled to be on a date with Shaw and yet she asks Chuck “What are you saying?” as if him telling her he loved her in that moment would have had her jumping over the table and kissing him right then and there with Shaw at the hostess table/bar. Which is it Sarah? Do you want to be on the date with Shaw or Chuck? Then she talks about her commitment to “not just Shaw”. What does that mean? She’s rejecting Chuck again because of her duty? Or is it because he’s killed somebody? Then when she has decided to leave with Chuck and Casey shows up she is shocked and says “What?” when Casey tells her Chuck didn’t kill the mole. What kind of lousy spy was she that she didn’t pick up on all the breadcrumbs earlier? Chuck insisting it wasn’t what she thought she saw, when she didn’t see anything really, that he wouldn’t betray a confidence, who would have had his back in that moment? I mean how did Casey’s admission come as a shock to her? But in this case Shaw’s influence on zombie Sarah continued to make her one terrible spy throughout this sequence. No cell service all the way from downtown LA to the desert? Really? Shaw wearing his wedding ring she didn’t notice?

    There are other examples and other moments in the episode we will discuss further but the first thing that really struck me on re-watch was how incredibly inconsistent the characters were to the point of being bipolar.

    I hate to bring this up, well really I don’t but it sounds nicer, but the second thing I noticed clearly is how incredibly poor Routh’s performance was in this episode. He is simply god awful and part of the reason the big reveal fails is how he delivers or actually doesn’t deliver anything believable when he learns of it. If I could have cared less about this big reveal his performance just made it look laughable. All of that misery for that? The reveal fell flatter than the Bonneville Salt flats, and Routh’s performance was right there with it.

    • joe says:

      But a part of me actually thinks its great that after all this time I can still get just as heated about all of this as when I was watching it play out week to week.

      Ah, Uplink. You got it right. TPTB would appreciate knowing that – in fact I trust they do.

      And for me, that was precisely the tell-tale trademark of something that rises above the ordinary. That is exactly what told me, week after week, that this was something no ordinary show would do.

      I have to say I agree in large part with what you’ve said here. Routh was awful as a *cough*hero who would sacrifice himself for the greater good*cough*. But the story line that put him in that particular box was worse. And you’re absolutely right about C&S bouncing around two polar opposite ideas. Stay or go, yes or no. It was like the actors had not been given the scripts before the scenes were shot, so even they had no idea how to play it.

      I suspect that actually happened and it was a deliberate ploy to keep the audience guessing up to the last moment. I know my neck got wrenched from all the back and forth waggling – it was at least one too many times.

      The good news, of course, is that he’s about to become a real bad-guy, a role for which he’s much more suited. The better news is that we’re moments away (in story-time) from having it all work out just as we hoped. The best news is that C&S are even better together than we imagined.

      I almost want to say that the payoff was worth it, but that’s a judgment I can only make for myself.

    • uplink2 says:

      Joe, one the things that bothered me a great deal on this rewatch was how they tried to hammer the “Shaw is a great spy, a true American Hero” idea. It’s nauseating. In fact if he really was, they shouldn’t have had to mention it at all as it would have been obvious and the story that Chuck is the true hero would also have been obvious. Show us, don’t tell us. But during this entire episode he is made to actually look like an idiot. First he was calling for an air strike when he didn’t even know anyone would actually be there in person. So he is sacrificing himself for nothing. Then he swallows a tracker and even a first year cadet would have expected that and certainly an operative who was good enough to get into NSA HQ’s would have.

      But then this is the moment He…. we have been waiting for all these years? Really? The Director wants to meet with him and he is willing to die at that meet? How incredibly stupid can one man be? A suicide mission with no real intel? Then what really got me was Routh’s little twitch of his cheek. I mean really, that is the best “emotional” response he could come up with? The crack in the great facade of super spy Daniel Shaw? I agree that he does better in Subway and yes I can even very begrudgingly admit the only time there was any chemistry between Sarah and Shaw ever in the series was in this episode when he kisses her. It’s more passionate than when Chuck kisses her but I think there was a reason for that. But overall this episode and OG were Routh at his worst.

      • Joel says:

        The even do it in the next episode, where Chuck goes “Wow, look at how Shaw beat up those bad guys! Isn’t he awesome?” It’s rather strange, because he’s seen much more impressive things from Casey and Sarah many times (and even done more impressive fights himself).

      • uplink2 says:

        That has been a problem with the Shaw character since his first introduction in Three Words. It’s all tell us one thing and show the opposite of what you are telling. I can’t think of a single instance where Shaw is shown to deserve any of the praise they continually lavish on him. And your point about Sarah and Casey is spot on. One of the worst instances that really infuriated me was in First Class when Chuck says to Sarah “Shaw a real life special agent of the CIA thinks I can do it.” What the hell is Sarah, Chuck? Why is this dufus’s opinion more important to you than the woman who has protected you and guided you for three years? A woman only three weeks before you said that you loved.

        This, along with Routh’s weak performance in the character, are integral parts of the reason why the character failed the ‘hero, good guy’ sniff test right from the beginning. At no point was he ever shown to be who they were telling us he was and they rammed it down our throats so often that it becomes more and more offensive the more they did it. Plus it makes the big reveal that comes in this episode completely irrelevant as we could care less about his story as it has already been shown to be all a big lie.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I think your comments on First Class are perfectly to the point. The character already looked like an idiot in 3.04, and he just kept looking more and more insufferable. When first Chuck, and later Sarah were at all interested in what he thought about anything the whole suspension of disbelief collapsed on itself. Everyone involved took up the mantle of Shaw’s idiocy.

      • uplink2 says:

        Yep. The more they told and showed the opposite, the more the story failed. Plus then when the other characters continued to carry the ‘mantel’ of this illusion of Shaw they all looked like terrible spies and no longer the smart “best team in all of the US intelligence service.” What becomes more infuriating is they kept pounding and pounding that square peg into the round hole with each successive episode. They doubled down and doubled down and doubled down on a story and character that had already failed the moment it began.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I would give Chuck a pass on what he said about Shaw in FC, but not afterwards. The reason is precisely because Sarah and Casey have been close to Chuck for nearly three years.

        In the Army there is a saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”. A crusty old sergeant told me once that whether an officer can actually jump into his trousers both legs at once or not, the soldiers have to believe he can.

        In this case, Sarah and Casey have become “familiar” so I’d give him a one time pass on exalting the “expert special agent” sent in to train him and get hime right. After that point, not so much.

        Sarah and Casey definitely suffered in comparison to Shaw in such a degree as to be infuriating as you noted. Like I said, I never gave the PLI a second thought because it began at the end of FE and ended before the end of AH. It was Sarah’s uncharacteristic naiveté and incompetence as a spy that was my problem. That was worse overall than the LD reveal (which was bad in itself, but hey, if she slept with him then she did).

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I guess part of it is that for me never once was Shaw shown to be deserving of such praise and deference, not one time. Whereas in the case of both Bryce and Cole they both were shown to be deserving of it practically from the first frame they are on screen. They earned their reputation and in the case of Shaw he earned contempt for his incompetence from the very beginning. Plus never once did they hammer us with how great Bryce and Cole were, they simply showed us. In the pilot we see how great Bryce is in his very first scene. In Nemesis Chuck says it because he sees it right in front of him and so did we. As soon as we see Cole is actually a good guy we see he is also a great spy. We never once saw that with Shaw but they kept cramming it down our throats. And the more they did it the more offensive it became.

        Plus in this episode how does going on a suicide mission with absolutely no intel that your objective is actually going to be there with a swallowed tracker that any first year cadet spy will test for make you a “true American Hero”? Yet they slam it twice. Plus if any of the spies know what a true hero is it’s Casey and Beckman yet they are the ones who say it. How did they think this was actually going to work?

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        As I said somewhere in here, Shaw exposed himself as a complete buffoon here, it just took a while to sink in for everyone but Chuck. Interesting that Chuck is the first to discern the “real” Shaw.

        Bryce or Cole would have made sense as a PLI, Shaw just didn’t cut it. In fact, as I said in other posts until LD I would have bet that nothing intimate ever happened between Sarah and Shaw. Sure, for some inexplicable reason Sarah started a relationship, of sorts, with Shaw but she had never shown that she hopped into bed with any guy who wandered in and kissed her. Again, Sarah (the Character) was the problem here. TPTB really messed her up in a misguided attempt to sell Shaw.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        All this talk of driving home the “Great Spy”, “American Hero” stuff reminded me of one of the boldest lies of all. When Chuck goes down to Castle after recuing Shaw, Chuck asks how Shaw is doing and Sarah says he’ll make a full recovery thanks to you (Chuck). Then Chuck says “he would have done the same for me”. Really??

        Didn’t Shaw leave him to die in Awesome and First Class, beat him up in FN, tried to kill him himself in Beard and sent him into his final exam with no back-up.

        That line by Chuck has always struck me as over the top self-flagellation.

    • atcDave says:

      Uplink I’ve really enjoyed doing these alternate threads. I’ve enjoyed the debates and arguments, I’ve enjoyed complaining about the show while celebrating several wonderful FFs, its just been a lot of fun. I do think its very amusing to still draw so much excitement from Chuck, and its funny how both the good and bad of it get so many of us all fired up. And no doubt, if the good wasn’t great, we wouldn’t care nearly so much about the bad of it.

      I don’t even know what else to say about the episode itself. Much of it was awful. But I remember so much relief at the end of it, like the end was finally in sight. So although American Hero has never really figured into my re-watch schedule, I do like the end, and I’m very happy for what comes next.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree Dave and this is what surprises me about some of the comments I’ve read elsewhere. The fact that we still can get so emotional and argumentative even after all this time I think is a great tribute to the show. What does bother me is when sometimes I’m told that because I am emotional and argumentative about certain things I dislike even to the point of hatred, somehow that makes me a bad fan. I think it shows how much I do care about the show and these characters.

      I’m a fan of the show Chuck but I’m not a fanboy. I won’t just accept what I see simply because this is the show we were given. To use this metaphor again, I refuse to press my head so hard against the glass that it hurts just to see the ocean. In my personal re-watch, I don’t have to do that. Sure some things are not perfect, I’m at 3D now and yes the Mauser wave off gives me pause but I do see clearly what they were trying to do in just having Chuck accept that things have to be done in this world he can never come to terms with and Sarah is one of the folks that had to do them. It wasn’t slick and lord knows Fedak didn’t write a very good episode in 3D but I do see the story point. But in season 3 the only story point or at least the predominate one that causes the story choices to be made has nothing to do with an honest story, its simply to delay the inevitable until 3.13 so they can worship at the OLI well once more. Any deeply thought out ‘intent’ I don’t think ever really came into their minds because of how fast and loose they play with plot, like the bi-polar actions in this episode.

      Hey I like the ending as well but this episode is as contrived and full of problems as Pink Slip is just in reverse. It’s like Sarah ran out of excuses to Chuck and the writers ran out of excuses to the fans for them not being together. I do think they thought the big reveal here would put everything together and make sense of the journey of the season but it failed miserably. The big reveal flops big time because there is no investment in it. It’s all just “End this crap now please!!” The writers failed to deliver consistent characters here, Routh failed to give a decent performance and completely fails to sell the big reveal, Sarah fails to deliver as the great spy she once was and Chuck fails to deliver an logical and honest description of what he actually wants in life. Now the B players make this episode more tolerable but the Big 3 and it’s Chuck Sarah and Shaw here don’t. Much of the season and much of the point of the spy story hinges on a story no one cared about and an actor who couldn’t act in his critical moments. But there is enough heart, confusing and non-consistent heart certainly, that you know the end is near and you relish it, not because it is setup and delivered well, but simply because it’s finally over.

      • atcDave says:

        I obviously never buy into the idea we should accept whatever the show runners deliver. Just like I get mad when the Bears do something stupid, I’ll get mad when something stupid is done on Chuck. I just try hard to remember what it is that’s so good before I loose perspective. But I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a show that didn’t mess something up.

        Part of what is so frustrating about the misery arc is that its drawn out so long. Its been three months now with weekly write-ups that we’ve been mostly complaining about things. That’s a really long down cycle. Nothing else in the show will ever come close though. My six or seven least favorite episodes were done in one single arc. Amazing!

      • Dave says:

        Uplink, atcDave

        Some of this was hard to watch (Zombie Sarah, ridiculous Shaw, etc) but this episode is the start of the recovery for me. A lot of important things happened in this episode despite the nauseating delivery.

        Sarah FINALLY and with finality has chosen Chuck over all others,
        Shaw is truly shown to be a completely inept buffoon (although it has to wait till next ep for full exposure),
        Chuck FINALLY mans up and takes the fight directly to Sarah forcing her choice.
        The B stories were a hoot, especially the Three Amigos.

        The problem with this is that it had gone on too long and too ridiculously before we got here. This is not on my all time hits list, but it didn’t make the dud pile and it was important.

        And Joe, if Fedak was making us a promise with THE picture-gun tossing scene then why did he screw us over with that whole interrogation scene in LD? Didn’t need it, didn’t want to watch it and it really made Sarah look very bad. I could have accepted and logically explained most of Sarah’s behavior until LD.

        The problem with 3.01 and 3.07-3.12 was that Sarah was a bubble off trim, one way or the other, the whole time. And as Uplink and I have said they had to make everyone else stupid because of Shaw.

        Whew! Glad that depressing run is over. atcDave you mentioned lighter ending? Well it was figuratively as well as literally. Did anyone else notice how dark the lighting was until those final scenes in Sarah’s room? I did.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly with all of that Dave.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Sarah Walker was depicted as a prize, or property, by both Chuck and Shaw, in this episode.

        How romantic.

        Chuck’s whole, “I love you” speech never worked for me either, because I honesty don’t see where this tells Sarah something she doesn’t know. (But then this is the new, more mature, improved, grand gesture only Chuck) It’s just that now and especially after Casey chats with her she’s run out of excuses.

        Again, how romantic.

      • atcDave says:

        Well it just emphasizes the pointlessness of the whole arc. It literally ends where it started; Chuck admits he loves Sarah, Sarah decides she will leave the CIA to be with him, and they run off together. Thirteen episodes to get back exactly where they started. Now I don’t ever mean to say television has to “matter” or be important or any such drivel; but a story that fails as entertainment AND takes us in a big circle can hardly be considered great television.

      • uplink2 says:

        That is the problem with the season in a nut shell. 12 episodes and Sarah has run out of excuses and all we are is back right where we started. Chuck and Sarah getting on a train and going rogue from the CIA. But now Sarah was right in the beginning even though the reasons its a terrible idea are even more profound than they were then. American Hero is -(Pink Slip) and Other Guy is -(Ring1) We are simply back to where we were at the end of Colonel with a slightly stronger but more diminished Chuck character and a significantly diminished Sarah character without any more excuses.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink

      Saw your story over on ff.net. You nailed exactly what I had in mind when we discussed THE picture in AH. Very good.

  2. Dave says:

    First my alternative then some discussion…

    My alternatives have had C&S undercover under the cover all along. Since FN, Sarah has been working Shaw to find out what he has planned for Chuck and by extension her. At the end of FE Sarah tells Chuck that whenever Shaw is around she is going to be tough on him. So here we go…

    I’d leave this one as is but with four changes. First, when Chuck crashes her date, and he does because the Three Amigos still thinks Chuck is losing Sarah to Shaw, the discussion is Chuck trying to convince Sarah to give up on Shaw. Chuck tries to convince her that it doesn’t matter the discussion is ambiguous enough for Casey to still be upset. Second, when Chuck locks Sarah in Castle he tells her he is doing it to protect her because he knows she’d go after a team-mate, any team-mate. He’ll go instead to save Shaw. Third, the talk in Castle between C&S is not an ILY declaration (I did DYLM last episode) but a final pitch to let Shaw be and come enjoy the rest of his week-long vacation. He tells her to meet him at the station and leaves. Finally, Casey goes to tell Sarah about the Red Test and Sarah admits she already knows and then tells Casey the story and thanks him. Otherwise, leave it the same.

    • uplink2 says:

      What I would say is also make them consistent. When asks Sarah to give up on Shaw have it be for the same reasons each time. Don’t make Chuck bi-polar in what he is asking for.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        Yes, in my world, C&S want Chuck to be a spy and avoid having Shaw get him killed. They disagree on how important it is to get info from Shaw. Sarah thinks they need it, Chuck would rather get everyone away from Shaw before someone gets hurt.

    • atcDave says:

      I like the idea of how far Sarah will go for a team-mate. That works pretty well, it could be funny having everyone “fighting” for a relationship that’s actually fine. Although I always figured that Casey at least had to be on to them; but no doubt this way could be funnier.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I kept Tic Tac, by an large, so Casey has been out. He has his doubts about Sarah. Just sayin’.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Remember, Sarah was willing to go save Casey and even Cole. Shaw is no different in this regard.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah, one of the first things we learn about Sarah back in Wookiee is that she’s ferociously loyal.

  3. Justin says:

    Sorry it took me so long to post this, atcDave.

    RECAP OF 3×11: Shaw tried to manipulate Chuck into killing a Ring mole, Hunter Perry. Chuck and Sarah learn that Perry was forced into being a mole by Shaw all for the purpose of being set up as Chuck’s first kill. Shaw needed to know if Chuck had what it took to let him torture and kill the Ring leader as a part of their bargain to keep Sarah in Burbank. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey fool Shaw into believing the mole was killed by Chuck when in reality they have brought him before Beckman. Beckman intends to use Perry to expose Shaw as the dirty spy she always suppressed him to be and who she had hoped Chuck, Sarah, and Casey would discover him to be. Chuck and Sarah reveal their romantic relationship to Beckman and Beckman surprisingly approves it. Shaw’s days seem to be numbered.

    Beckman has relocated Perry to a safe house while she goes through the proper channels to present him to her superiors as proof of Shaw’s corruption. Beckman promises Chuck and Sarah that they’ll be free of Shaw soon and that she’ll defend their relationship to her superiors so they’ll stay together as a team. Chuck has made it clear to Beckman that now that he has become an agent, he has no intention of being a solo operator. Working with Shaw has made him realized that he is a team player. Sarah and Casey are a part of that team. Beckman promises Casey that she will use his role in Perry’s capture to make a case of his return to CIA service. In the meantime, Chuck and Sarah have to act like everything is normal around Shaw. That means Chuck needs to act like he actually took a life. Sarah shares with Chuck her experience of taking a life for the first time to teach him how he should act. This scene will be treated as an important moment between the couple in which Sarah allows Chuck to see a dark aspect of herself as a spy and, though Chuck is discomforted by hearing it, he continues to love her. When Chuck uses Sarah’s experience to portray his post-kill behavior, Shaw seems to be fooled by the charade and congratulates Chuck for completing his spy training while subtly reminding him of their deal by saying there’s still work to be done. With Shaw’s takedown and their relationship becoming public on the horizon, Chuck and Sarah feel like they are close to true freedom for themselves as a couple in the spy world. They talk about all the things they will be allowed to do after their exposure as a couple. Chuck tells Morgan and Ellie everything that has happened at work to continue the open honesty between them. Morgan is excited by what’s going on while Ellie is more concerned by it and gives Sarah the cold shoulder when they cross paths. Sarah tries to apologize for lying to her and assure her of her love for Chuck. Ellie doesn’t seem very receptive to her reconciliatory attempt. Devon has suggested to Ellie the idea of them leaving Burbank for a while to give themselves a break from all the craziness that has went down in the recent weeks. But Ellie refuses to leave Burbank while Chuck continues to work for the CIA, putting himself in danger.

    Things take a turn when Shaw is kidnapped by Ring agents. Whether Chuck and Sarah like it or not, Shaw is a part of their team and it is their obligation as fellow agents to rescue one of their own from the enemy. Chuck and Sarah begin working together to track down Shaw with Casey’s help. Meanwhile, during his captivity, Shaw finds himself in a meeting with the Ring Director who keeps his identity hidden. In the meeting, the Ring Director tries to convince him that the Ring isn’t his enemy by proving that they weren’t responsible for his wife’s death. The Director shows him footage of Eve Shaw’s death which ends with her killer being revealed as Sarah. Watching it emotionally tears Shaw up inside. The Ring says that Sarah killed his wife acting on orders from the CIA. The CIA is Shaw’s enemy. To further prove that and as a token of good faith on their part, the Ring Director reveals to him that Hunter Perry isn’t really dead. He is very much alive and residing in a safe house thanks to Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Beckman. The CIA want to bring him down. The Director gives Shaw the exact location of the safe house, giving him the option to do with Perry what he likes. Shaw’s meeting with the Director comes to an abrupt end when he is rescued by Chuck and Sarah. Shaw is sent to the hospital to recuperate from his experience. Chuck and Sarah talk with Beckman about the outcome of the rescue mission and are linked by their curiosity over what happened when Shaw was kidnapped by the Ring. The episode ends with Shaw slipping out of the hospital to break into Hunter Perry’s safe house and kill him. But he makes it look like Sarah did it, functioning as a Ring double agent.

    • atcDave says:

      Still a lot of fun Justin. It is sure getting a lot more complicated! I like the little bit of tension between Ellie and Sarah; that was always a relationship that could have had a little more drama to it. Not that I ever wanted them to really be at odds, but once Ellie learned the truth about things I think she should have held Sarah at least partly responsible. It would have been a good chance for Chuck to show some maturity in supporting Sarah.

  4. oldresorter says:

    I have a strong dislike for comedy while the show is being miserably dark, this type of writing is in very bad taste. This ep, along with Fake Name, were the two worst offenders.

    I couldn’t believe in the last ep that Sarah didn’t investigate the ballistic reports of the Red Test before she ran into Shaw’s bed, in this ep, I couldn’t believe three things, first Shaw passing Sarah off to Chuck in the castle, second Sarah’s freaking out over her Daniel’s heroic act, and third, that when Chuck labored carrying Shaw from the building, that Sarah’s reaction and dialogue to Chuck wasn’t included. Almost like the lines wouldn’t fit continuing the angst, so the writers avoided it. So instead, Sarah’s shown, and then the scene is dropped (very much like the scene in the hotel in fake name when casey saves her life).

    Overall, this ep, along with this arc, made me want to vomit.

    And if Sarah left with Shaw at the end of this ep, that action was a 4th thing, I can’t recall which ep that was in, Sarah essentially could have been replaced by a life sized paper cut out of Sarah in her scenes with Shaw. And Shaw could move her whereever he wanted her.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow Jason, so what do you REALLY think…

      No doubt there’s some serious issues with this one. I don’t mind the comedy part, I thought it was well done and well played. But no doubt Shaw remains a drag on everything, and we still see plenty of Zombie Sarah.

      • oldresorter says:

        We’ve gotten to know quirks about the regulars here, if I was to make a few distinctions between those who liked s3 and those who didn’t, one would be OK with having to interpret the show, and not really knowing if the interpretation is correct (the beach scene in s5 for example). Another would be liking the mixed genre thing, vs not. I honestly feel the mixed genre thing is why the show never took off, while I’ve read more than once that many feel it is a show strength. By far the most angry I get at the show is when it is funny with the B side while it is being ugly toward the two leads. I think shows do much better, when the B side bears the brunt of ugly, which causes the leads to face moral delimna’s and choices. The show can still be funny, fun, and sweet, but needs to have the leads involved when such action is going on. I thought the two Santa eps, s2 and s5 were two of the worst offenders, taking a sweet holiday and being about as ugly to Sarah as they possibly could imagine, at least for a 7pm show. But the entire s3 misery arc was stuck in this mode, where the B plot fun wasn’t funny, because of what the A plot was going.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree with some of that Jason. I wish they’d made at least one Christmas episode that was actually heartwarming. And the comedy often falls flat for me when the main story is very dark. But the way things end up usually is a bigger determining factor for me than details along the way. So an episode like Final Exam, as dark as the main theme was, I likely would have been fine with the humor IF Chuck and Sarah reconciled in the end instead of being more estranged than ever. And that may be exactly why the humor in American Hero does work for me, because things finally do end on an up note, I’m happy to laugh along with it all. Typically I need to be able to laugh with a show, or I won’t like it much.

        The absense of good humor is one of the things I’m disliking so much about this season Burn Notice. It is taking itself FAR too seriously, which is just never a good thing from my perspective. If the characters are always grim and have nothing to laugh about, I’m just not going to like watching. Obviously, a show like Burn Notice has always had a different, more subtle sort of humor to it than Chuck; but I still need it. (again, this is NOT my only complaint about Burn Notice now).

    • SarahSam says:

      Agree with all that. Her reactions in Castle have forever bothered me. It was different for Casey or Cole, those were professional. You knew where her true emotions lay. Shaw is the man to whom she has made a commitment. Shaw is her “boyfriend” and this is a more personal reaction to a man sacrificing himself for a suicide mission. Even Shaw reminded her that they “were spies, to act like it” . I’ve always been irked by her reaction here , juxtaposed to her stoic persona when Shaw was seconds away from blowing the Intersect to smithereens in Beard. This should have been her reaction there. I know Chuck was an ass and as much as I disliked him, he was a novice. We’ve seen things Chuck doesn’t know and they are further reminders of how Sarah Walker died for me in S3.

  5. oldresorter says:

    Tried a different type of TV show this week, called Homeland. Reminded me of a cable show rated version of ’24’, both in good and bad ways.

    Struck me near the opposite of Chuck, in Homeland, I can’t stand the two lead characters, and I so far love the rich, full, dramatic, and complex stories and ‘B’ characters. Interestinly, many shows I like have a sage older fellow kind of watching over everything, Saul in Homeland, Orion or Casey (LOL) in Chuck, Walter in Fringe, Harold in Person of Interest, etc.

    Homeland has me on the edge of my seat so far, can’t wait to catch up with more eps.

    • uplink2 says:

      Been a fan since the beginning. Once you are finished with both seasons I’d like your opinion of season vs finale of each season. I’m curious as to how you see it compared to my take.

      Plus it followed Dexter so I started watching it from ep 1.

      • oldresorter says:

        Got thru s1, will probably take a break on s2 for a while, although I will watch it at some point.

        If I understand your ?, the season vs the finale. My original comment, about how unlikeable the leads are, seemed to amp up to new heights by the finale. I find nothing to like about either, although the guy I can at least understand.

        I thought the finale paid off the season pretty well, the finale two eps felt very much like the rest of the season. One of my problems with Chuck and Castle is the final arc feels like a different show, and not the show I want. In Homeland, the final arc fit in with the rest of the show.

        One specific comment, I liked how the actual terrorist act was layered with Marine 1 and Marine 2, and was not left as a cliffhanger. Again, the actual cliffhanger, I didn’t care about at all, because it is near impossible for me to be invested in Carrie.

        One problem with the show in general, that it shares with 24, is the government with all its power and sophistication, has to be really stupid each week, while the terror organization, seemingly with tip cups and string, beats them to the punch, each and every time. In this case, I can’t believe a second screening for a bomb would not take place, before the bunker, even if the first one was bypassed.

  6. Bill says:

    Thank you for this alternative thread. Funny, at the beginning of the Season 3 re-watch, I told myself that I would try to remain in the main thread, and not post here! But, as the misery arc continued, I found that my opinions fell very clearly in this camp.

    As a fan of the show from its very first episode, I still recall how much angst S3 generated while the WT/WT played out one last time. Sadly, I think that my desire to see Chuck and Sarah become a real couple was the only thing that kept me coming back week after week. Sure, there were parts of each episode that I found entertaining, exciting, or endearing, but overall this arc was a major disappointment for me (in many of the ways that others have articulated so well here).

    Three years on I can say with certainty that, for me, the happy ending (or new beginning) at the end of OG was not worth the downer trip we took to get there. Couple that with the complete undoing of Chuck’s hero’s journey a few episodes from now, and, well, I just. lost. interest.

    I so hope that as this re-watch continues, I find a new appreciation for Season 3.5 and beyond.

    • uplink2 says:

      Bill, what I can say about 3.5 and beyond and why I like it so much is watch the growth in Sarah. The things that she needed to figure out and grow from after Colonel IMO all happen after this disaster is over. Sarah is no more evolved in Other Guy than she was at Ellie’s reception. She had decided clearly to leave the CIA and have a normal life with Chuck. It’s the discussion that Stephen interrupts in Ring that they have at the beginning of Honeymooners. Then she realizes they don’t have to make a choice and can have it all even with the spy life. But what comes next, moving in,saying I love you, unpacking, and “my answer would be yes” could all have been dealt with just as easily after Ring than after OG. To me season 4 is the season of Sarah and Morgan. Though I’m not a big Morgan fan he does become an enjoyable character at least up until the final 30 seconds of the season. But Sarah dominates season 4 and she is why I watch the show and why I love where we are headed.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I read an interview with Zach prior to S4 and he said it was going to be about family, then he laughs and says it’s also about the domestication of Sarah Walker. Turns out he was spot on.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Bill I did these posts exactly because I just couldn’t read through another round of “explaining” the misery arc. It was profoundly no fun to watch, and I don’t enjoy analysis any better.

      For me, the key to moving forward is just to forget it. Honeymooners is a fresh start, it’s where I think 3.01 should have gone. It’s the reinvention the show needed. And we’re almost to it.

      • Bill says:

        But here’s the rub: I loved the show as it was at the end of S2. It didn’t need to be re-invented then. It needed only to continue forward with the story progression. It’s the debacle of S3 that necessitated the reboot, and the reboot turned the show into something like S2-lite, at least for me.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I know there were some viewers who never liked the show again after S2. For me, Honeymooners is when it became the show I always expected, and wanted it to be. Not to diminish S2, I did love that version of the show too. But after an unnecessary reinvention at the start of S3, another WAS needed. And I think apart from the baggage accumulated from the misery arc, that second reinvention was a good thing. It was much more like the original series, except for the absence of romantic tension. My only real complaints have to do with the obvious lowered production values (cost issues, nothing anyone could have done about it) and the occasional use of more neurotic type humor for Chuck. But I think the blend of action, humor, and romance was about perfect for me in the later seasons. And building from the characters I had loved so much in the first two seasons, I found the results VERY satisfying. I guess it is fair to mention I have a few more issues with the S3.5 episodes, particularly Chuck the liar. But unlike the misery arc, that issue is resolved pretty quickly.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill I agree. That is one of the reasons I was so horrified when Pink Slip aired. I was thrilled with the ending of Season 2 and really was looking forward taking the 2.0 and have it add a new dimension to the story. I agree the show didn’t need to be reinvented, it needed to grow from a solid base it had established for 2 seasons. That’s what I’ve tried to do with LL&L. I didn’t put Chuck and Sarah together physically until the 12th chapter. 7 of those chapters they weren’t even in the same location and out of contact for the most part. But I hope it came off as a real, honest reason for keeping them apart and they earned that moment in chapter 12. That’s the kind of story I expected. But instead we got a story that screamed contrivance and dishonesty and once the trust of the fanbase was lost in S3 it is extremely difficult to get it back. After the 8 month wait I felt betrayed by Schwedak with Pink Slip and that feeling can be forgiven but never forgotten.

        But I think in 3.5-5 we see the impact of the budget cuts more clearly because it isn’t being clouded over by the failed storyline of 3.0. Now I think season 2 is the best season but 4 is my favorite because it is focused on Sarah’s growth into a real girl. I do agree that the Mary story was seriously flawed but I loved Dalton. He was probably the best actor among the guest stars for the entire series and the contrast between his ability and Routh’s is unbelievable. So we have a flawed overall arc, something they never did well anyway, a great guest star and a focus on my favorite character, and so yes I loved s4.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I would agree with all of that except to make one point; what worked in your story wouldn’t have worked as well on screen. I think having Zach and Yvonne on screen together matters even more than Chuck and Sarah.Their chemistry, how they relate and play off each other, is such a big part of the draw of the show. Unless you fill in their time apart with a lot of dream sequences (!) it isn’t going to work.

      • uplink2 says:

        Oh I agree Dave. For a TV show I’d never do what Schwedak did and bench my Allstar player for a player from the NY/Penn league. Keeping them apart in my story works I think because it is FF and its the writing that hopefully keeps people interested and is enjoyable. If I ran the show Zach and Yvonne would be on screen together as much as possible.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        When you say Chuck the liar, do you mean during Tooth? I kind of gave him a pass on that. Or do you mean at the beginning of LD?

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I mean pretty much all of S3. But from Tooth to the end of the season I see it as the lingering legacy of the misery arc (he got comfortable lying during the misery arc, and never stops). He lies to Sarah about his health (I could give him a pass at the end of Tooth, no need to deny Sarah her moment, but it goes unresolved until Subway. Not acceptable) and he lies to his dad about the Intersect and his status with the government. Then the season ends with a big new lie (gee, I’m sorry, “secret”). I really found this aspect of his character disappointing, even contemptible.

        In hindsight, it does NOT bother me as much as it did at the time because it was dealt with so quickly and decisively at the start of S4. I LOVE the no secrets, no lies pledge. I needed it. And I love that it is (mostly) honored to the end of the series. And I strongly suspect it was dealt with quickly because of strong fan reaction at the end of S3. So it’s something I feel really good about fan influence on the product.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Yeah, I gave him a pass for Tooth. After all, Sarah finally speaks up first and says she loves him. His response didn’t need to be “I love you, too. OBTW, my brain is melting so we don’t have much time”.

        I was OK with hiding the Secret at the end of Ring II. I could see him not wanting to compromise Sarah since she was still “in”.

        The one I didn’t like was lying to his dad in LD. That one, besides lying, was dumb since his dad was likely the only person who could help with his problem.

        As you say, the good news was they dealt with these issues as opposed to letting them fester.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I think the secret at the end bothers me as much as lying to his dad. At least in part because its tied into the whole Chuck quitting because he promised his sister he would…

        I just thought they really made Chuck out to be an idiot at the end of the season. (Quitting his job without consulting his significant other AND partner. Oh that makes me angry!)
        Anniversary is my least favorite S4 episode, I just hate how it starts. It is somewhat redeemed by an awesome ending. Okay, maybe it’s a lot redeemed by an awesome ending. I don’t really have any S4 episodes I dislike much.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I agree. I really liked S4. The only dud for me was Muurder. It started great (especially Sarah’s response to Brodie), but, again, they made Chuck look pretty pathetic.

      • Joel says:

        Since we’re comparing Chuck seasons, I’ll post my opinions here.
        S1: First half is kind of rough (even Tango has Morgan bringing it down somewhat). Second half is great, like S2-lite.
        S2: The best season by far and one of the best TV seasons ever. Every aspect of the show was top-quality here.
        S3. While I can still enjoy 3.0 somewhat, there are a lot of issues that bring it down. The big ones are the wt/wt and Shaw stuff, but also smaller things – the budget cuts are sometimes noticeable and the action scenes are worse. 3.5 is a lot better – a few lingering issues, but three out of six are classic Chuck episodes by my count.
        S4: The first half is a little inconsistent (a lot of episodes have at least one thing that bugs me) and not as good as S2/mid-late S1, but still good and a lot of fun. The second half, while not terrible, feels kind of aimless – Wedding Planner is the only episode there I would consider classic Chuck quality.
        S5: I loved this, including the finale – my second-favorite season.

      • joe says:

        Joel, you may be surprised by this, but I’m pretty much in agreement with you. I think I’m not quite so hard on S4 (while still recognizing that you’re not being all *that* harsh on it). But other than that, I wouldn’t quibble with what you’ve said here.

      • atcDave says:

        Well if we rate seasons, I actually sound like a serious fan boy…

        S1: I just love it. The soap opera arc drags a little, but even then, only the beginning of Crown Vic really irks me, and even that one ends really well. I loved this show right from the start. It was my favorite thing on television from the Pilot.

        S2: even better yet. The first five episodes may the strongest run of any show I’ve ever seen. This is when I first started to think of Chuck as my favorite show ever. Only two episodes really disappointed me, Ex and Beefcake, and even they bother me less on rewatch (actually, Ex bothers me a lot less, Beefcake still fails me).

        S3: well all good things…
        I disliked it intensely when it ran, and my feelings have actually grown stronger over time. Yet even so, I’ve found ten or so episodes I mostly like, and from 3.13 to the end is very strong. Honeymooners still may be my single favorite episode.

        S4: overall my favorite season. Maybe not as many great episodes as S2, but no complete duds either. And this season is when the show pretty much became exactly what I had hoped and expected from the start.

        S5: I love the idea of it! A little uneven in execution. Great episodes like Business Trip and Baby; really weak episodes like Curse (easily my least favorite episode outside of S3). I’m okay with the end but its not a “favorite” of mine. (The execution of those last two episodes is wonderful, a good two or three minute denouement could have lifted it to an all-time great. Sigh)

      • joe says:

        Yeah, I even see this unevenness in TV shows generally regarded as the best written.

        The Sopranos (I know – I keep coming back to this one lately) had at least one major arc (spanning much of S6) that served little purpose, except to give David Chase a chance to proselytize about his favorite topic (and if you’re familiar, I’m talking about the Vito in Vermont arc). Chase ties it in best he could – maybe even well – to the rest of the story. But it’s superfluous and very self-serving.

        Doesn’t take much away from the greatness of the rest, though.

      • Dave says:

        atcdave

        I’m where you are in evaluating the seasons. I would only add a few things.

        First, I think some of the best stuff was in 3.5 and the S3 finale was, I believe the best.

        In S5, I would add that Business Trip is good from the point where Chuck and Sarah arrive at the convention till the end (I had reached my Morgansect overload at this point). I would also add Hack Off to my favorites, it was hilarious and having Sarah give relationship coaching to Gertrude was a complete hoot as far as I’m concerned.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah Dave, Hack Off is a favorite too.
        I’m mostly okay with Morgansect, although I would have preferred a little less Morgan time, I seem to be less concerned about it than many. I guess, that was something I was more worried about after S4, and the execution was better than feared. And I like the way Morgan’s story/recovery informs us for Sarah post-series.

  7. oldresorter says:

    In many ways, I think the population of fans who stuck thru all five seasons, loved s1 and s2, and most all viewed Chuck and Sarah’s story as an epic journey to love. Unfortunately, in s3, the journey was not epic (even the writers admitted that the journey was lousy, and as much as writers can plead with fans, they begged fans to stick around for the ending). Deliverying an epic ending is not hard, the key is deliverying each and every night along the way. S3 of Chuck would be fine for Burn Notice or heck, maybe even Castle, but what Chuck did with Chuck and Sarah in s1/s2 deserved a better written journey in s3, and EPIC journey, that paid off in an equally magnificent ending.

    • Bill says:

      Very well stated. I agree 100%.

    • mr2686 says:

      Can someone please point me in the right direction with a link to some of these interviews where TPTB and writers say the journey was lousey etc etc for S3? I’ve found tons of interviews but have found quite the opposite, and, when TPTB try to choose their words carefully, it feels more to not piss off the fans that are complaining and a more “give it a chance” feel to the interview.
      As for all 5 seasons, I’ll have to cop out and say that 2 and 4 are my favorites (for different reasons) with the other 3 seasons in a dead heat. I’m through with a rewatch of all 5 seasons and I must say that I like season 3 more and more, however; I’m still not a big fan of Brandon Routh, and after seeing what a great job Timothy Dalton did as a villain (he just keeps getting better on each rewatch) I can’t help but think that people would like S3 better (even with the same exact story) if another actor was in the roll.

      • atcDave says:

        TPTB never said any such thing. but they did give up on defending it from about February of 2010 on. Some find their silence telling, but truly it is all interpretation and conjecture. I do believe they recognized some serious failings, but have never clearly admitted to anything.
        Pure rumor (discussed on other sites) has it that some people in the production process recognized problems, but I’ve never seen anything I would call a clear admission of failure. I’d be all over it if I did!

        Brandon Routh was part of the problem for many viewers; but I always say S3 was fatally flawed at conception, no actor could have salvaged that story. The six viewers I know who quit the show all did it after Pink Slip, because the show was “going to dark” and was “no fun”. Routh never played into it. And I don’t even write off Routh entirely, from Other Guy to the end he is adequate.
        But there was only one Dalton! I think Chevy Chase was only other villain who even comes close.

      • oldresorter says:

        the sepinwall thing, don’t put a book down in the 7th chapter is what I referred to, and I did say, as much as a showrunner possibly could.

        Of course they did not say lousey, they are pretty savy, and tried their best to put their best foot forward with sepinwall after the mask.

        Schwartz was somewhat defiant if I recall, Fedak a little more nervous.

      • uplink2 says:

        @mr2686

        Part of this information comes from DR on his blog. Now I know it’s DR but I sincerely believe his sources were legit as virtually everything I’ve ever read of his spoilers was accurate though presented in a “DR” fashion. He has stated this a number of times but here is his most recent quote on the subject.

        “I don’t think season 3 was a mess, but the problem was that Shaw and Sarah only showed actual chemistry once (or should I say the actors). Making them lovers was the only mistake in season 3. It was totally unnecessary. And I can tell you that people working on the show realized it very early on, but by then the scripts were written and several episodes in the can. There was no time to change anything.

        I doubt anyone will ever admit it publicly, but no one was very happy with what was happening in that regard. I can tell you that during that season I was talking to a lot of people working on the show and if I didn’t care about protecting their identities, I would blow your mind with some things they had to say about Shaw and Sarah. 😉

        For me I believe this to be absolutely factual. I have always wondered how they couldn’t see what I and so many others were so clearly seeing as well. I mean how could you sit there in the edit room especially and not see what a clear mess this was becoming. I’ll also point to this statement by Fedak after the series.

        With Brandon, I think the character really found its footing in the second half of his arc. Again, you cast people. Brandon was great. He really brought a lot and brought a lot of profile to the character and strength and was kind of the anti-Chuck and that’s what we wanted, but sometimes it takes a minute to figure out how to write for somebody.

        I realize that he doesn’t want to throw him under the bus and is trying to take much of the blame for the failure of his character but what is does show to me is that the reason Routh was cast was not talent but stunt casting. Same with KK. They cast Superman but forgot to actually watch Superman Returns and realize he wasn’t very good in that movie either. He had no chemistry Kate Bosworth either. But I think the fact that whenever they talk about Shaw it’s always villain Shaw. They never discuss “hero love interest” Shaw because they recognize “hero love interest” Shaw was a complete and total disaster.

        Hey even Schwartz’s admission of “learning some things in season 3” at Comicon was an admission that the story failed for a very large part of their audience.

        Plus I’ll add one more item, the stumble about Shaw being unlikable in the Mo Ryan interview. He actually was about to tell the truth but caught himself and remembered the PR spin he was supposed to say.

      • uplink2 says:

        Jason, Schwartz wasn’t defiant, he came off as incredibly arrogant and Fedak came of as totally clueless in that interview. Schwartz’s comment about “We’re farther along in the story” as to what he would say to those that hated Mask is incredibly arrogant and pompous. Basically it’s “screw you we’re past what you are all worried about.and what you are asking doesn’t matter”. When you are hearing the same thing from your fans as the crew has been telling you, you’ve got a serious problem but the PR folks are screaming to have you stick to the script because you can’t fix it as it is all already shot and edited.

      • uplink2 says:

        Sorry, the Routh comment about finding him was actually Schwartz in the 5 part Sepinwall series.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason, Uplink; you guys know I completely agree with your take on what wasn’t working there, and I love the idea that the guys working on the show saw it too. Obviously I’ll always wish they could have made time to fix what they’d screwed up.

        BUT, we need to be so clear and careful about this, this is pretty much hearsay. It is unconfirmed rumor, from an unnamed source. Much as we may want to think insiders saw things much the way we did, we always need to be clear this is rumor, not documented fact.
        mr2686 is right to question our sources, because on a practical level, we don’t have any.

        But thank you guys for documenting some of what we do form or opinions on.

      • mr2686 says:

        Thank you all for the information. I really, and of course this is only my opinion, believe that it all depends on the person reading the interviews. If you are part of the group that didn’t like the direction of the show at the time (for whatever reason) you werre probably a bit pissed off at some of the responses by TPTB. To me, all I see is an acknowledgement that some things didn’t work as well as others, and in this case it was Routh as a great hunky spy that Sarah would fall back to when Chuck was going in a direction she didn’t want to see. I don’t see that scenario as the problem, I see Routh as the problem. Sorry, but that dude has no chemistry and he tries to act with his eyes but only ends up looking like he needs to find the bathroom. This,of course works better when he’s the villain, but not so much in the beginning of the season. I probably like the season as a whole better than most because I can gloss over his poor acting while disliking him enough to help make the payoff that much better. But that’s just me.

      • oldresorter says:

        dave – I think the Sepinwall interview was a source. If you read it, Fedak is pretty clearly asking for people to keep watching, as I said, that is about how much a showrunner can admit things aren’t going well.

        Uplink – If you read the Sepinwall interview, Schwartz is IMO defiant, he says twice at least we have nothing to apologize for, would change nothing. My point was how different the two showrunners were in the interview.

        Also, some of the ‘canon’ of Sarah’s reasons are impedded in this interview, as what we saw on TV never contained much dialogue in this area – two things pop out, Shaw and Sarah’s natural pairing and Sarah’s devastation over Prague.

        MR – I agree that they did not say lousy or lousey, and the reaction is a matter of interpretation. I ask you two questions to reflect on, Just how many showrunners call a press conference with a writer who loves them immediately after the airing of a midseason show and two does the interview really sound like two guys celebrating success or scrambling to save their you know what’s. Again to repeat, Fedak pretty much was asking people to stick with the show which was my interpretation of lousy, while Schwartz defiantly and arrogantly pretty much said ‘F off’ people.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jason there’s no doubt they knew they had a major PR problem. That whole Olympic break period was a scramble of interviews and press releases to try to convince us all to keep watching. That much is clear. I think twitter exploded with outrage and hostile comments were all over the Internet, so yeah they knew they had some work to do.

        The operative question was if they ever acknowledged any actual defect in their product, and I don’t believe they did. Much as I would love to hear them ‘fess up!

      • mr2686 says:

        Thank you for the link. I’ve seen this interview before and although it’s obvious they are trying to address a segment of the fan base (some say majority, but that’s just not the case) that are very vocal. I’m not sure what you expect them to do since their show was constantly on the bubble I think they are saying “hey, give it some time and it will get where you want it to be”…but if you keep complaining there won’t be a show”. One thing I do think the interview suggests is that some fans felt empowered since they helped save the show by buying Subway sandwiches. I think there’s a danger there, as well as with some of these Kickstarter projects where people have paid some money and are expecting exactly what they want. The VM movie next year will be very interesting to see fan reaction. For the fans of that show, you know that if it had continued it was going in a TOTALLY different direction due to network pressure and I don’t think the fans would have liked it at all. This is one of the reasons I no longer want to see a Chuck movie. I truly believe that the same portion of the fan base will not be happy unless they get exactly what they want and we’ll be in the same boat all over again with no chance of any follow up projects. Let’s just leave Chuck and Sarah on the beach with our imagination of what will happen next.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, I think the reason why they didn’t “fess up” was because they were not unhappy with the season as much as with the actor. I don’t think you’re going to see anyone throw an actor under the bus in an interview so I think it was more a “please wait and you’ll be happy* kind of thing.

      • atcDave says:

        2686 we do need to be careful presenting interpretation and opinion as fact. In particular, you stated it is “just not the case”. THAT can only be opinion. There is no way to get an accurate sampling to be sure. Our polls here showed 70% were unhappy with most of the season, and of course we couldn’t ask those fans who gave up DURING the season, the poll was only of those who stuck it out to the end.
        Now of course our sample was only about 170 fans which is a pretty small grouping. And that is viewers who were visitors to our site. But I believe it is reasonably representative. Among the 30 or so casual viewers I know, only one of them ever claimed to NOT dislike S3 (“it wasn’t too bad” was the best he could muster). I spent several months trying to convince people to continue watching a show I didn’t even believe in anymore. So I have a very jaded, very cynical view towards that season. And yes, I know that only proves my friends have taste similar to my own. But apart from the Internet I don’t know a single person who was enthused about the season, so I’ve never bought the idea we ‘shippers were some sort of lunatic fringe.

        Now I do agree TPTB likely consider the casting issue as the only serious failing of the season. But again, I think they’re wrong. I think a majority of viewers were actually quite tired of wt/wt by the end of S2, at least wt/wt involving love triangles. And yes, it was fast and abnormal for a television romance. But I think between the Zach/Yvonne chemistry, and intense (and possibly accelerated story-line) of the end of S2, I think most viewers were actually ready to move on to the next part of the story.
        That said, I think your view of fan entitlement is far too harsh. Although many of us, like myself, would have only been truly happy with Chuck and Sarah as a couple of some sort from the start of S3, that’s not the same as saying we would have rejected any story that wasn’t quite of our choosing. I have said many times, and still believe it to be true, the actual love triangles are the only part of the story I just have to reject. I could have bought into any number of obstacles or delays, except the one they chose. I even could have accepted an overall darker show than I prefer, and a lousy performance by Routh, but they did the one I thing I can’t accept. Any other show I would have quit.

        At least we got some really awesome fan fiction out of it…

      • atcDave says:

        Again, I do want to reiterate an issue I think gets skipped over too often. Everyone I know personally who quit watching during S3 quit during or after Pink Slip. That is prior to any Routh/Shaw appearance. In every case, it was because the show had turned too dark, and not funny.
        I think what many more serious TV viewers don’t grasp is that television in general, especially the sort that’s considered “quality” television, is simply far more dark and serious than it was 20 or so years ago. I believe that’s a huge part of why “reality” television and contest shows have grown so much in popularity. People who want to be entertained and enjoy themselves for an hour of television simply have too few choices anymore. The vast wasteland of television has become a dark, brooding, self important sort of beast.
        When a show like Chuck comes along it is a breath of fresh air. A fun show, funny, with likable characters trying hard to do good and heroic things. Television of the 70s, 80s and even 90s was often like this, but now, not so much. So many of us get excited and latch on to such a show.
        And then, at the start of S3, they tried to reinvent Chuck into something a lot like everything else on television. I’m sure they had grand plans to lift themselves from bubble status and become a legitimate success. CF said they were creating a new show on the skeleton of the old one.
        But the problem is, Chuck had already attracted an audience who didn’t want this rare gem to morph into something like everything else on television. We liked how Chuck was different. Optimistic, fun and positive. So when S3 started, looking like exactly the sort of television we had all rejected, it was a bitter pill.
        Many viewers were rejecting this new and diminished Chuck before Routh ever arrived. No matter how bad one guest star is, they can rarely ruin a show all by themselves (although the lengthy Shaw run might test that theory!). It was CF’s reinvention that I think did a majority of the damage.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, when I say it’s just not so, I base that on the number of fans that were reported as watching each episode. Going by those numbers, season 1 averaged in the high 7’s (millions), season 2 averaged in the high 6’s, season 3 averaged mid 6’s through Beard, then mid 5’s through Honeymooners…and then it dropped to low 5’s for the rest of the season (which makes no sense that it would actually drop after Honeymooners). The numbers stayed pretty consistent until late in season 4 during Muuurder when they dropped big. I also base this on the reviews from people that actually purchased season 3 on dvd, which were by and large positive reviews. I might also add that there were reviews of each episodes (when they aired) on other blogs that were positive during season 3.
        Regardless, my intention all along since coming to this site was to get a better understanding of why there was such hatred for this season and of TPTB by a segment of the fan base. Dave, I think your an excellent example of a fan that didn’t think the first part of the season worked, you’ve logically expressed your opinion by breaking down the episodes in relation to the rest of the series, and then moved on. I can live with that and respect that, even if I don’t agree completely with your opinion. What I can’t understand is other’s that have complete hatred (and I mean hatred) for Season 3 and TPTB and it seems to be constantly fueled by rumours and pieces of interviews that are being made to fit in to their opinions. As they said in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

      • oldresorter says:

        I feel wrath coming from MR’s words. Muhahahahaha.

        MR, why don’t you post about how good season three was, what a success it was, what an epic tale of faith, trust and love Chuck and Sarah displayed and how cleverly the story came together with remarkable story telling, rather than how much you dislike me.

        I did nothing to you, treated you with the utmost respect with my response.

      • mr2686 says:

        Actually Oldresorter, I wasn’t pointing you out of the crowd at all. I was commenting on the several people that feel this way over many many threads. If you feel that it describes you, well then that’s on you. Sorry you don’t like season 3. I’m sure you’ll just love a movie if one ever comes out.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t actually believe the ratings a very good indicator of appeal. I know many people who will continue to watch a show for a period of time after being disappointed before making a final judgement. And I observed a pretty steady erosion of enthusiasm and morale among viewers over the course of the season, yet MOST of them stuck it out. And I think that very feeling of investment and ownership in this show that so often gets criticized for creating “entitlement”, also gave many of us tenacity we never would have had on another show. So we maybe do end up with a larger number of viewers who endured rather than enjoyed the season.
        Now I never mean to suggest there weren’t viewers who honestly enjoyed the season, I know there were. But I do think there were a number of other bloggers whose judgement was compromised by different issues of investment or access. Basically, just as you say there are “con” positions you respect or understand better than others; I would say there are “pro” positions I respect more or less too.

        But I am pretty extreme anti-misery arc, and I do hold TPTB directly responsible. I think they should have known better, there is no good excuse for what they did. I think Chuck was a show greater than the sum of its parts, that was often wonderful in spite of meddling from above. That is, I think I hold several of the staff writers in higher esteem than I do the show runners (I look forward to LaJudkins running their own show this fall. It will be very interesting if I like “SHIELD” as much as I expect to). In that sense, I think I have a pretty common attitude among S3 detractors. I don’t hate anyone, but I am unlikely to ever watch another JS or CF run show.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, if you’re going to go so far as to say you won’t be watching another JS or CF show, don’t you also have to say you won’t be watching another NBC or Warner Bros. show? JS and CF may be the show runners, but they also have to bow to the pressure of the network and WB. Many shows have been destroyed by powers other than the show runners (Firefly was totally destroyed by the network).

      • atcDave says:

        Well I didn’t say I would never watch another show by them, only that I’m unlikely to. I never really make decisions based solely on personalities or credentials. The subject matters more to me than the personalities. I can imagine CF getting involved with a new project I want to watch, just as Yvonne has managed to get involved with one I will not. Most people involved with Chuck come out of it with some goodwill from me. The two show runners may be the only ones who picked up minuses instead of pluses. But neither reaction will be absolute from me, I make all decisions on a case by case basis. It’s not ever personal.
        I am somewhat grumpy towards NBC. Of course I was grumpy with NBC long before Chuck. But NBC went from generating some goodwill during the save the show campaign, and again with a huge S4 order, to flushing it all with their rude attitudes towards Chuck fans in S5. I know there was a change in administration, I don’t like the new guys much at all! But unless we hear of specific interference I don’t believe they meddled much at all with creative issues. It was not a network produced show, I think their expectations were low after S2, I just don’t believe they cared at all what was happening with Chuck. I may change my attitude some if we hear of specific interference. But I consider creative issues to be the responsibility of the show runner, unless a reason can be shown to think otherwise.
        Ditto for the studio. I may change my tune if we ever hear of specific interference from WB; but I tend towards moderately good thoughts about them. They took major risks in lowering the cost to NBC, and have reaped little in return.

      • oldresorter says:

        MR why the snark?

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I wanted to sort of address the whole “hated” thing too. I don’t know what all sorts of extreme or inflammatory language might have been used, but I think it is fundamentally rational to say a particular story teller took a story in directions you didn’t like, so you don’t like them as a story teller. It’s basically a conclusion about their work, based on their work.
        Of course there are so many complicating issues. Like if we really enjoy certain aspects of a story, but are unenthusiastic about others. How do we decide what is a better determiner of future performance? Even worse, there were two show runners, how do we even know who did what? I can tell you my impressions, but they are just impressions without more data. I think JS is most comfortable with angst and teen romance; I think he is primarily responsible for my very least favorite arts of the show. I think CF has a sense of fun and adventure much like my own, but I think he’s sloppy with continuity and just doesn’t consider adult romance to be very interesting. So CF is more likely to get a second chance from me than JS, but you never know.
        I’m not exactly sure how to credit the balance of action and humor we saw, yet it was very important to me. Again, I suspect that was largely CF, but cast, stunt team and staff writers all played a role.
        Casting was a huge part of why Chuck worked. How much of that is luck vs skill?
        How smug or arrogant someone seems in an interview is not directly a reflection on their work, but it can affect how I feel about supporting them.

        Anyway, just some stray thoughts that are part of my feeling towards the show runners. I don’t hate any of them. But I certainly have complex feelings about their work and abilities. And not in an all good, or all bad way.

        I do look forward to an eventual movie. I don’t particularly want either show runner involved. But it’s not a huge issue to me if they are (my first choices would be LaJudkins or Kristen Newman). I am cautiously optimistic whoever writes, I think it could be a wonderful thing!

      • mr2686 says:

        That wasn’t a snark. I’m sure you’ll like the movie when it comes out because I’m pretty sure it would be closer to what you liked about the series. Just my opinion based on what multiple people who would be involved with a movie have said.

      • Dave says:

        mr

        To follow up on everything else…

        At the start of S3, the network leadership were favorable to Chuck, Bromstad was her name I believe. Schwedak could get what they wanted so I blame Schwedak for this debacle.

        Anyway you look at the numbers, Chuck lost 33% of its total viewers 40% of its demo over the course of the season. If NBC had not been in such terrible shape, we would have never gotten S4 and S5.

        What I fault Schwedak for is not realizing what they had and exploiting it. Broadcast TV is a business and you need viewers. They had created arguably the most popular character (Sarah Walker, CIA) played by arguably the most attractive actress on TV that was part of arguably the most popular couple on TV and decided to blow that up instead of using it.

        You absolutely don’t need to give viewers everything they want, but you have to give them enough and certainly not give them what more than 70% of your viewers DON’T want to see.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave, just to be clear, it’s hard to draw absolute numbers from polls done at this site. I think you are likely right that a majority of viewers were unhappy with S3 for exactly those reasons. But all we can really know is that 70% of viewers who were visiting this site in spring of 2010 did not want to see the story they gave us. And it does need to be added that almost half of those WERE satisfied that the ending made a rough journey worth it. So only about 40% of total viewers, who visit this site, remained very unhappy through Other Guy.

        But I do think you’re exactly right about some of the major reasons, like Sarah being a hugely popular character (most popular character on the show according to multiple polls at NBC.com with a much larger sample set than we ever had!) who was poorly served and under-utilized in S3. And definitely not enough Chuck/Sarah screen time. And those are things they absolutely should have known.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well said Dave. There’s a lot to evaluate in an episode (especial a Chuck episode) that can make or break it for a viewer. For me, I really like everything, any one episode that might hit a sour note with any one thing is usually picked back up with another. Sarah/Chuck on the rocks, the Buy More staff is there to pick up the pieces for me. Lester and Jeff seem a bit off, then Morgan to the rescue.
        It’s amazing to me that any show lasts past two seasons. Writing would seem to be the biggest thing, but what a writer comes up with and how it’s interpreted on screen can be night and day. After the writing, the director has input on how each scene is played, the actors play the scene one way or another (sometimes those subtle expressions have made for huge arguments on what an episode really meant), and of course the editing and editing for time. How many scenes from the cutting room floor have you seen where you felt the whole mood of the scene was different and made more sense?
        Anyway, as far as studio’s and networks level of interference, I can only say that I’ve read a few interviews over the years with people on other shows, and it seems to be par for the course. Well, I should say it’s par for the course for any show that’s not “highly” rated. It makes sense that there’s a lot of money involved and people start to scramble to help get their investment back and turn big profits, but I think we’ve seen time and time again that these networks/studios (yeah NBC I’m talking to you) don’t know much about what makes a good tv show. A recent interview with Rob Thomas from VM mentioned that he was surprised at the lack of interference from WB on the new movie, but that it’s probably because of the amount of money that was generated by the fans and that the studio doesn’t have as much to lose.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        The 33% and 40% are from the Nielson ratings. I used your 70% applied to the fans who hung on till they end. If your poll is a representation of the 5M fans who hung in there, then 6M of the original 7.45M viewers were not thrilled by what they saw.

        mr

        Apparently Schwedak weren’t real sure about a good TV show either. If I had been in their shoes, I would have been bold by ignoring the Moonlighting curse and exploiting, as much as possible what was working while still telling my story, much as I have done with my alternatives here. After they put C&S in that motel room in Colonel, there was no going back. More LIs were just not what the majority of the fans wanted to see. Like you, some of the back stories appealed to me (except Jeffster, hated that) but by the end of S2 they may as well have called this show Chuck and Sarah. That’s why I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they never seemed to realize what they and Zach/Yvonne created. The character they butchered the most during the misery arc was Sarah. They nearly destroyed her. Chuck (except Pink Slip and FN) was basically…well Chuck. Casey also suffered, but not to the degree Sarah did as a character.

      • atcDave says:

        And some of that is exactly why I am, more enthused about a crowd funded movie project. It’s more like commissioning an artist to do a painting for you, as opposed to going to the gallery and hoping you find what you want. Obviously, that brings a whole host of new challenges (too many cooks…), but for now, I’m still mostly optimistic.

        You did mention directors, whom I overlooked. Probably the single most important person, that we usually overlook! Editors too.
        So many scenes that I WISH had been squeezed in…. And a few I’m glad weren’t!

        I do think people who were able to have a sort of overall perspective of the show had an easier time accepting all the twists and turns than those of us who zeroed in on favorite (or least favorite) aspects. Although I liked most elements, there’s no doubt Charah was THE most important thing to me from quite early on. So no matter what else happened, the “good” or “bad” of any episode usually meant how Chuck and Sarah were relating to each other. There really are a few exceptions, but not many. It was the idea of those characters, and them as a couple and a team, that drove my passion for the show. But I know I have a lot of good company on that, I think Charah WAS Chuck (the show) for a huge number (I don’t know if it was ever half, but a large portion regardless) of us. There were episodes where I might say “that was really a great episode for Casey” or stunt work, or music; but if it was not a good Charah episode I’m likely not really interested. Again, there are exceptions (I loved Undercover Lover. Was Sarah in that episode? Kidding).

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I agree completely about the “Chuck and Sarah” thing. If I’d been responsible, it would have been a more upbeat, comedic, romantic show from 3.01 to the end. That’s when I think the the rational thing is to say “that’s what’s working” and go with it. Basically lead off the season with something like Honeymooners. And I honestly believe we would today be talking about an awesome S6 finale and speculating on the coming S7 if they had.

      • aerox says:

        I don’t think Greenblatt went over the line by addressing Chuck fans the way he did. He was right on the money. People clamored for an extension, they got it, and the viewers simply didn’t show up in the numbers required to make a profit. He addressed that, Just to reiterate, his quote was:

        “Unfortunately that rabid fan base that was going crazy on the net, didn’t come to the show. Maybe it didn’t come to the show because it was Friday, but you think they would find the show. It’s doing a 1 rating. I think CHUCK’s time has come. CHUCK is over. Let’s alert the masses.”

        It’s all truth. The rabid fan base (and let’s be honest, that was pretty much all there was left) went berserk on the net, demanding another season. They got it, and the viewers dropped even more. I’m sorry, but Greenblatt was 100% correct in stating it. Is he snarky? Yes. Has he got every right to be snarky? Definitely. He expected an improvement, and instead, he got a tanked show.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Aerox, every time I read that quote I’m reminded what rude and classless jerk the man is. I place a high value on manners, class and respect. The man showed none of that. He was sarcastic and belligerent. I will not support his business.

      • Dave says:

        aerox

        I would note that the total available viewers on Friday is 1/2 of what it is on other nights. The 1.0 and approx. 3M viewers would have translated into more on another night. Also note the complete failure by NBC to produce a show as good as Chuck. Even the Friday ratings would have been middle of the pack for NBC right now for all scripted shows. If S4’s ratings had continued (a distinct possibility if Chuck remained in its normal slot) it would be one of NBC’s hottest shows.

        I bet Greenblatt wishes Chuck was till on right about now. The average rating for an NBC show in Feb, I believe, was 1.1. That is overall, all days of the week included. I don’t think Mr Greenblatt has any room to talk.

      • atcDave says:

        Too funny.

      • aerox says:

        ” The 1.0 and approx. 3M viewers would have translated into more on another night. Also note the complete failure by NBC to produce a show as good as Chuck. Even the Friday ratings would have been middle of the pack for NBC right now for all scripted shows. If S4′s ratings had continued (a distinct possibility if Chuck remained in its normal slot) it would be one of NBC’s hottest shows.”

        Based on what? Speculation? You have no way of knowing whether it would retain its 4 million viewers (because honestly, that’s basically how much S4 was pulling) or whether people would flock away. The downward trend in viewers was clearly established throughout the season (4, that is), with only the last couple of episodes perking up a bit. You’d have the initial interest (which you can see because of the drop (and subsequent high point) of season 5) and then it’d fade away. Hack Off pulled a bigger amount of viewers, but IIRC, the promotion for that episode featured two naked leads. It doesn’t take a genius to see that it would spark more interest.

        If S4’s ratings HAD continued, I’m afraid that we’d see the downward trend developing. I think the rabid fanbase that Greenblatt is talking about, did in fact show up. But I think he grossly overestimated how big that fanbase actually is.

        You’re right in saying that the show would be middle of the pack, but at the same time, the show was bleeding money. Warner Bros wasn’t earning anything on it, I don’t have the numbers for NBC but I doubt they had a good time with it as well. And like I said, there was a clear downwards trend going on. Maybe it would’ve settled, maybe it would’ve gotten worse. But it’s clear that when Chuck and Sarah got engaged, people just stopped caring. So with that said, season 3 isn’t even too blame for most of this. It would’ve done fine with 5/5.5 million viewers (which is what it was pulling around Push Mix).

        And I’d like to end by saying that the phrase “Also note the complete failure by NBC to produce a show as good as Chuck.” is purely a subjective point of view, and shouldn’t be phrased as a fact. Take Hannibal for example. I’m sure there are people who completely love it to bits, who disliked Chuck. It’s pulling poor ratings, but that doesn’t mean that the show isn’t ‘good’. It just means that the viewer count sucks and the majority doesn’t care for the show. The same goes for Chuck. It was a fun enough show, but the majority just didn’t care anymore. And I think that’s what Greenblatt is addressing by saying what he so bluntly says. He was told by the fanbase that sure, people would watch the show. Hey, they had been for a while now. But when push came to shove, people just didn’t show up. And as someone whose job it is to make money for the organization he represents, I bet he feels just as betrayed by you, as you feel by him.

      • atcDave says:

        Aerox you’re speculating just the same as Dave. No one can ever prove anything about what would have happened if….

        The trend Dave was commenting on is simple. NBC’s ratings currently stink. Their numbers are worse than what Chuck usually had. So we can imagine a scenario where Chuck could still be viable. Its just fun with numbers. Different nights, different times, different competition, different promotion. So many possibilities.

        The bottom line is, many of us stopped having any sympathy for NBC’s plight when we were dismissed rudely. The same facts, with a more gracious and classy response from the executive suit, and we’d probably all feel a life long debt of appreciation for NBC Entertainment. But now we don’t really care.

      • mr2686 says:

        No sympathy for NBC here! I’m sure Chuck was fairly expensive to produce, with it’s large cast, stunts/effects and guest stars, and the traditional numbers were trending down in season 5, but the fans were savvy and didn’t always watch in the “traditional way” (especially on Friday nights when I’m sure more shows were watched on DVR as well as the net). Now, this would be a problem for most shows, but Chuck had built in product placement in it’s shows with Subway and Toyota, to the point of it being part of the wink wink nudge nudge in joke for fans. If NBC could have thought outside the box, they could have marketed that to additional advertisers. I mean heck, these guys worked at an electronics store. How hard would it be to get Microsoft, Apple etc to buy in to advertising more with better product placement.

      • Dave says:

        aerox

        atcDave is right, everything is speculation till it happens. In point of fact (I calculated the Nielson rating averages) Chuck averaged more than 5.15M viewers per episode and had an average advertising demo of more than 1.7. That would be a hit on NBC right now.

        When I meant “good” I meant in a business sense, which means ratings, not an artistic sense. In broadcast programming, ultimately ratings are what it is all about.

        mr

        My theory is that they were selling a revamped, less expensive version of Chuck and that is why we got the ending we did in the series finale. Also, almost every week of S5 Chuck had the highest or nearly the highest % increase in viewers in the live +7 category.

      • atcDave says:

        We always were a tech savvy audience. It helped us out beyond S2. But in S5 it no longer seemed to matter. It does seem to me Chuck would be an ideal show for something unconventional like web based distribution. And some old shows are coming back that way.
        But I bet in Chuck’s case an eventual web movie or three is the best we’re likely to see.

      • Dave says:

        Just to carry this discussion of business and ratings one step further, why hasn’t Chuck been picked up in syndication? I believe it is because of the misery arc. Who would by the series when 15% of what you’re buying will tick off the viewers? I think that is why we haven’t seen it yet.

        Just to rile up Uplink, but Henry Cavill seems to be knocking it dead as Superman showing again how inept Brandon Routh is. I’m a little jealous, my wife saw Cavill in Tudors and has a fangirl crush on him. The only thing saving me from going to the movies is she hates superhero movies (except Ironman for some reason).

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t know how fair it really is to lay that on the misery arc. Serialized shows are often less popular in syndication, and I think Chuck is always a hard sell the way it is crosses genres. I do think it will eventually get a syndication deal. It’s value may go up as Zach and Yvonne become better known.

      • aerox says:

        Dave, yes, my points were also speculation, but they were speculation rooted in the trends that we were seeing, e.g: every season dropped more and more viewers. Saying that it would pull steady numbers (e.g. 5 million viewers) based on the trend of the viewers dropping every season seems a bit like wishful thinking, whereas concluding that the viewers would probably drop even more is at least rooted in the trends that we’ve seen develop. Especially if you look at the numbers that NBC are pulling across the board, which are all atrocious.

      • mr2686 says:

        Another NBC show that I’m keeping a curious eye on is Grimm. Stuck on Friday nights, numbers that are not as high as Chuck at it’s best, and gradually trending down. I can see that a miss step here or there, or big gaps between episodes could cause a premature cancellation..

      • uplink2 says:

        Wow, looks like I missed an interesting saturday. We haven’t many of those in a while.

        First of all Dave, I saw the previews for Superman at the new Star Trek movie a few weeks ago and from just that I knew he was going to be a thousand times better that Routh. It’s actually interesting that in the Entertainment magazine all they focus on with Superman Returns is basically that Routh was cast because he looked like Chris Reeve and nothing else.Too bad they forgot to see if the guy could act in the role.

        I’d like to pick up on a few things with MR as I think I find myself in the category he was talking about in terms of hating season 3. Yes I do hate it. I make no bones about it. I think I’ve cited my reasons for that countless times to the point of ad nauseum. But I never said I hated TPTB. I definitely take issue with that. It’s the same with Routh, from what we hear he’s a great guy but I hate his work or lack of it may be more appropriate. I hate TPTB story choices and the execution of those because I felt betrayed by them. Plus I’ve learned as atcDave seems to have also that my hatred for it continues to grow as time passes, not lessens as you might hope from a better understanding of intent. Much of that is because knowing that intent doesn’t help, it makes it worse because 1, I really dislike that intent and 2 the execution of that intent is many many times the exact opposite of what they were going for. Even the greatest intent means nothing if it isn’t shown on screen. It doesn’t make it easier or more enjoyable, in fact it’s the opposite.

        I also agree with atcDave that my dislike and yes hatred for season 3 began long before I knew anything about Daniel Shaw. Pink Slip was a betrayal of the promise of Ring 1 and something I was crushed to see after waiting 8 months for the payoff of that promise. Now true Sarah/Shaw is by far the most egregious mistake and disaster but it is in no way limited to just that or the Routh casting. Another actor may have made it work slightly better but nothing was going to save the season as long as the OLI story was intact. Pink Slip made me feel betrayed and extreme dislike for what I was seeing but the OLI’s made me despise it.

        But on TPTB, they threw away my trust in them with this arc and I think I have the right to feel betrayed by it. Crazy as this may sound to folks outside this fanbase, they hurt people I cared about a great deal and for no good reason other than to take us on one last trip to the cathedral of WTWT. They didn’t grow the relationship, or Sarah certainly, they simply went in circles to get back to where they started with diminished characters who didn’t earn their payoff. The fantastic promise of Colonel did not deserve that journey to nowhere. For that they lost my trust and I will simply never invest in their work again. If I can’t trust them to give me a payoff for that investment that respects me and the characters I care about then why should I give them the respect of that investment in the first place. They simply haven’t earned it.

      • mr2686 says:

        Uplink, where I disagree with you is that although their relationship wasn’t technically grown during that arc, their characters both were. Chuck found that Sarah was more important than being a spy, and Sarah found that the answer wasn’t running away from the spy life but finding a happy medium with Chuck and the spy life. You may dislike how that was shown or developed on screen, and again I can’t help but feel a better actor as Shaw would have changed the whole dynamic of that arc, but I don’t think you can say the characters just went in circles only to be back at Ring or Colonel. Both characters by Honeymooners were much further along, which infact, meant their relationship had grown. Maybe the real problem is, in a TV way, this arc was too much like real life can be. A couple gets together, maybe moves in together, and then start drifting apart…only to find somewhere down the road that they really love each other and they get back together (kind of a hurried simplistic example). The problem is that we don’t always want real life in a series like this…we want the fairytale. I get it, and understand it, and also want it. I just don’t sweat it if a series goes the other direction for some episodes as long as they end up where I’d like to see them go. It’s only a fork in the road if the road taken doesn’t converge back on to the main road.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I’ve been watching Grimm too. Fun show. I think it found a niche as a cult show on Friday, I am concerned with it moving. My fear is it will not pick up any viewers with the change, and will start to look more like an underperformer.
        It’s now the only NBC show we watch, and we picked it up as a follow on to Chuck. So it’s sort of the end of the Chuck legacy on NBC for us.

        To the character growth issue, I certainly see it more like Uplink. Chuck did grow as a spy, that was a needed development. But the character/relationship aspect showed no growth at all, more like regression and destruction. All to end up back at Chuck declaring his love for Sarah, again; and Chuck and Sarah deciding to leave the CIA and run off together, again. A circle isn’t growth. And both characters were made to look like idiots in the process (Chuck; has a brief fling with Lou 2.0 before claiming to Sarah they can now be together as he’d always planned because he’s spy now. Sarah; gets involved with an arrogant, boring and staggeringly stupid man who diminishes and exploits her in the grossest way).
        So although I can just dismiss it in some ways as a weak arc, in between some of the best television I’ve ever seen. It also makes me very angry in a number of ways that few shows ever have. Easily the angriest I’ve ever been with a show I didn’t quit.

      • uplink2 says:

        @MR

        I understand what you are trying to say but I disagree totally with that statement about Sarah. In this episode what is she intending to do? Run away with Chuck to “Mexico and then maybe see the Eiffel Tower.” In Honeymooners its “Chuck, do you agree to quit the spy life and run away with me?” The big point of Pink Slip was that running was a reckless decision as we were told from the pilot on “There’s nowhere I can hide is there, not from us”. When Chuck destroys Sarah in Prague it’s because he chooses not to run with her “for my friends, my family and you”. Yet in FE it’s “maybe if I had made a different decision”. In AH it’s “I want to be a spy and I want to be with you or depending which scene it is it’s “You were right in Prague, we are perfect for each other and I want to spend the rest of my life with you away from the spy life” Then Honeymooners they still are trying to run. It’s only AFTER they were together that Sarah grows and knows that they “could have it all and that they can’t go back to whatever it was.before.” None of that growth comes because of 3.0 or the Sarah/Shaw pairing. The lesson was learned once she acted on her feelings for Chuck and they still were great spies together. What lesson did she learn from Shaw? None. But for the sake of argument what lesson did she learn that she hadn’t already learned from Bryce and Cole? Nothing. The best I can say is that the Sarah in Other Guy is the same Sarah who said “It is Real” or that she “didn’t want to…..” while dancing at the reception. The growth simply isn’t there and if anything she is much less of a spy because of Shaw. How can she not think something is up when she get’s no signal all the way to the desert? Or that Shaw was still a good spy even after finding out his girlfriend killed his wife? She trusted Shaw over Chuck even after telling Chuck she loved him and learning of her Red test. That isn’t the great spy she was at the end of season 2.

        Hey I understand that folks did enjoy this arc or at least can push away the garbage once they know the ending. I can’t and never will. The destination didn’t justify the journey and it seems 70% of the folks on this site agreed with that. I’m glad you can do that, one of the reasons I came here way back when was to find that for me but if anything my greater understanding of intent or at least what folks speculate is their intent has if anything only hardened my hatred for the arc and execution. I do realize there are some great moments here, like Tic Tac, but they are drowned out by the final 30 seconds or some other tie in to the misery unfolding. There simply is too much bad to sweep away to get to the good. It seems you can do that and I’m happy for you, I can’t and never will.

      • Dave says:

        aerox

        I was talking about trends. S3 hurt Chuck bad, but S5 could have recovered it, at least for NBC. S3 ran off nearly 2.5M viewers. They went from the second highest premier (7.45M to the 9.21M of S1) to the lowest number of viewers (5M) for an episode. S3 is why S4 had a premier of only 5.8M. S4 was surprisingly stable through 18 episodes (5-6M viewers and 2.0 +- in the demo) then for some reason the bottom fell out for the final 1/4 of the season.

        S5 is hard to compare to the other seasons due to being on Friday which has less than 1/2 the available viewers to begin with. If you compare Chuck’s share of the available viewers, only S1 did better (19%-18%). Another interesting thing in the S5 data was that Chuck was gaining viewers as time went on as opposed to losing viewers like previous seasons. While it is speculation, but with 2X as many viewers available the 3.5M average may have been 6+M on another night.

        The true issue was the arrival of the Comcast crew who were less interested in legacy shows. Unfortunately, what they have been doing has not been effective. That’s why I have said that sometimes I think they wish they still had Chuck available based on how badly everything else they’ve tried has worked out. Had they continued S5, they would have had a less expensive show to produce with an established fan-base, of whatever size.

      • aerox says:

        Dave, the reason that I think people started watching again, was because there was a massive hype going on at the time. The perpetual ‘bubble’ show would close out on its own terms. That was massive. I think people who had given up on the show decided that hey, what the hell, it was almost over, might as well tune in for those last episodes of a show they cared about. Again, pure speculation, but regardless of its slot, and call me cynical if you must, but I think the trend of the downwards spiral would continue on.

  8. Bill says:

    @ Dave:

    “All this talk of driving home the “Great Spy”, “American Hero” stuff reminded me of one of the boldest lies of all. When Chuck goes down to Castle after recuing Shaw, Chuck asks how Shaw is doing and Sarah says he’ll make a full recovery thanks to you (Chuck). Then Chuck says “he would have done the same for me”. Really??”

    To your point, I always thought the line was played for irony. I take that meaning from Sarah’s facial expression after Chuck says it. It’s like she has a momentary inner dialogue, and concludes that no, Shaw wouldn’t or maybe couldn’t do the same for Chuck.

    • atcDave says:

      The sleeper has awoken…

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree Bill. Sarah’s reaction is almost laughing at the idea, but loving the fact that Chuck still thinks people are basically good at heart even when she knows Shaw had already tried to kill Chuck to protect his stupid disks.

    • JC says:

      I doubt they gave it much thought and in fact I think if you asked Fedak he’d answer yes. I can remember an interview right around 3.13 where they talked about how Shaw and Chuck were friends. Its like two different versions of the show existed the one they planned out and the one we got.

  9. Bill says:

    One more question: what is the consensus, if there is one, about when Sarah decides to leave with Chuck? Is it before or after Casey tells her he killed the mole?

    We had a good debate about this on another forum at the time.

    • CaptMediocre says:

      Without Sarah speaking in this scene (or most of S3 for that matter), it’s vague enough to be interpreted both ways.

      I’m in the “after Casey told her” camp.

      To hinge SO much on a minuscule prop, seen for a second in the background isn’t a big enough hammer to convince me otherwise. Again, too little good (if it was actually planned that way) to overcome the suicidal tendencies of the misery arc.

    • Dave says:

      I’m for before. THE picture was at her bedside before Casey showed up.

    • atcDave says:

      I think she knew before she ever left Castle. Chuck totally woke her up, Casey only confirmed she’d made the right choice. I think the “prop”, which had not been present the week before, is good proof.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree completely with the 2 Daves. The focus on the “safe comfortable” pic on her night stand that wasn’t there the episode/3 days before is a huge Easter egg from the show that she was packing to leave with Chuck. I think that is also why she says “If you came here to plead his case that’s really not necessary.” It’s not necessary because Chuck had already made it in the restaurant and Castle. Plus even though I would have liked to see more, her expression when Chuck is carrying plywood out is not relief that Shaw is alive, it’s admiration for the man she truly loved, the real American Hero, not the fraud.

      • atcDave says:

        I interpreted that the same way Uplink.

      • Dave says:

        I second atcDave, her reaction to the rescue was for Chuck.

      • anthropocene says:

        Thirded. I think Sarah’s look spoke of pride in Chuck’s rescue of Shaw, but also relief that Chuck (more than Shaw) got out alive. That entire scene (including the very “Chuck”-like preposterousness of a B-2 making a bombing run over L.A. in daylight, and the use of Chuck’s “heroic theme”) is one of my favorites of the entire series.

      • atcDave says:

        I love that “mini” B-2. I swear its like 2/3s scale, or smaller. The B-2 is a BIG airplane. At Thunder Over Michigan a couple years ago we were treated to a B-1 and B-2 both doing passes at the same time. Two impressive big birds. The B-2 in American Hero is quite underwhelming by comparison!

      • joe says:

        Sounds impressive, Dave. I’ve never seen a b2, except on TV (like on Chuck, so I was even impressed by that).

        But one time, I was sitting in my 14th floor office (in the Denison building on the Ann Arbor campus) when I looked out my window to see the GIGANTIC nose of the Good Year blimp staring straight at me. I had forgotten that it was the day of the UM vs. Ohio State football game (and M go Blue!).

        *That* was impressive.

      • anthropocene says:

        Dave, I’m glad you said that, because I thought the same thing. I also saw a real B-2 once, as it flew surprising low over the crowd at a Navy @ Air Force football game—and rattled the entire stadium!

      • atcDave says:

        Funny Joe, you know I’ve ridden in that blimp (okay, maybe not that exact blimp), over Ann Arbor too! Quite the experience, especially landing, since it won’t fall, they have to drive it right on to the mooring mast. Very unusual feeling. It is by far the biggest operational blimp I know of.

        We’ve also had the B-2 do a pre-game pass for The Big House. It’s fun, but you know they get lower for the air shows! It’s quieter than the B-1, but more massive looking. (They are actually both just over 300K pounds max gross).
        The first time I ever saw one, I was in the tower at Ann Arbor, while it was doing low passes at Willow Run; that’s approximately 10 miles distant, and yet we could clearly see its shape in clear detail every time it turned. Very impressive.
        And uh, not really ideal for sneaking over a large metro area in broad daylight!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        You’re going to be so jealous, but I actually got to sit in the cockpit of a B2 at Whiteman AFB. Some structured tour for a bunch of researchers. There are so many neat engineering features I was dazed for days, ha, ha. Also, it is freakin’ huge and can carry, I believe, 1/2 a ton more payload than a B52. Astounding. As an Army Tanker, I was impressed.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah Dave I’m jealous!

        I’ve ridden in a B-17, which is fun, but not relevant to this discussion except that I needed something to say…

        Hey Thunder Over Michigan this year; a flyable Me262 and DeHavilland Mosquito! I’m already excited. Sorry, I can get very distracted from here…

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        You got me there. We never have airshows and such out here in the Ozarks. I was just lucky my military research got me that unbelievable opportunity.

        4 years as a paratrooper made kind of jaded about riding airplanes, especially those I had to leap out of. But as an engineer, I needed a drool pan while I was going over the B2. The young USAF sergeant that conducted the tour was also very impressive. I guess they don’t let just anyone do avionics repairs on a B2.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah we can make all sorts of jokes here about paratroopers and perfectly good aircraft. Too bad you weren’t active here back when Amyabn was, you were in the same line of work!

    • Angus MacNab says:

      It was very clear to me that Sarah had made the decision to leave with Chuck before Casey made his admission. Frankly, it still irked me when she reacted the way she did when Casey told her that he shot Perry, given that Chuck always accepted her, baggage and all. If she had not shown a clear indication that she was ‘all in’ with him even if he had shot the mole – if she couldn’t see that he was still her Chuck despite all that – then as far as I was concerned, that ship had sunk. I wouldn’t have been able to support it, no way.

      She still almost scuttled that ship for me when she said “you’re still my Chuck” in the DYLM scene a short time later. Sarah, he was always your Chuck. *skakes head with digust* I believe I’ve made my position very clear in my writing about these moral issues, and the idea of placing conditions like this on love.

      • atcDave says:

        yeah “conditional” love is not a very appealing concept. But that’s all part of why the previous arc is so unappealing to me. I’m okay (sort of) just with saying she was hurt by Chuck leaving her in Prague; but trying to make the story about “something more”, actually diminishes the character.

        I guess I should clarify that to say; if we assume Sarah loved Chuck all along (and I always did), then the loving thing to do is help him with his issues and changes. I get the idea that Sarah is broken herself and maybe not in a position to help. I get it, and I hate it. It’s not the Sarah we saw in the first two seasons who was always faithfully there for Chuck. And it’s not the ferocious, faithful Sarah we saw after 3.13 either. It’s an artificial contrivance unique to the misery arc.

  10. SarahSam says:

    I’m in the Chuck camp. Shaw was in the hospital as far as she knew. Why would she be packing at all at that time if she was leaving with him for DC ?

    • joe says:

      I hadn’t thought about it much, but I suspect that everyone thought Shaw’s recovery was imminent. Was anyone (Beckman? Casey? Chuck?) worried that he wasn’t going to be ready for a plane trip to Langley? I’d have to go back and watch specifically for that, but I don’t think so, SarahSam.

      • SarahSam says:

        joe, why pack at that particular time, toss the gun , turn to leave and relay a shocked expression when Shaw busts in the door? The guy was in a hospital bed until he received the phone call. Sarah had no knowledge he was coming to her room. Too many signs point to Chuck , those included. I’m not even talking about whether he could recover and make the trip to DC at all. I’m talking about when Sarah was actually packing and after Casey left turned to leave in that time frame.

      • joe says:

        Oh! Well, I agree. Sarah *was* not expecting Shaw to appear and was indeed packing to go to Chuck – she had already made up her mind.

        But I suspect the audience was supposed to be a little uncertain about that. After all, Sarah would have had to pack for her assignment, she could have decided otherwise, or at least, still been on the fence about Chuck. We were supposed to be left wishing and hoping and even believing that she had indeed chosen him, just not 100% convinced.

        That would have been too easy! Let’s say, we were 95% convinced. 😉

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, I disagree with that 95/5% belief because of 2 things. To me it’s 100%. First of all the picture is absolutely an Easter Egg telling us she is leaving with Chuck even before Casey arrives, plus her comments about “that’s really not necessary” reinforce it. But secondly if there was even the tiniest chance we were supposed to believe she was packing for DC then why should she say I have to call Chuck? If his plea didn’t work in Castle, it would have been completely in character for Sarah simply to never show up and leave without a goodbye. The only reason to call Chuck is to tell him she was going to meet him but something came up. Her sense of duty was asking for a delay and she wanted to let Chuck know that so he wouldn’t leave without her. That is the final piece of the puzzle that we already knew for certain was happening. The drama was that she was being possibly threatened by Shaw because of what he learned, not that there was any chance of Sarah leaving with him for DC.

      • mr2686 says:

        I agree with Uplink2 100 percent. OMG, did I just say that? 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        One other quick thing I never noticed until just now because I might be researching something, but the time on the clock next to the photo as Sarah is hurrying to pack, she is basically throwing things in her duffle bag is 6:10. She was supposed to meet Chuck at 7pm at Union Station. That would explain the hurry as she has to meet him there in 50 minutes. Now the fact she has showered, changed her clothes, done her hair when Shaw shows up proves how eagerly she wanted to get there and look nice for traveling lol. I wish my wife was that fast!

      • atcDave says:

        MR it can be subtle, but we plan on having you utterly corrupted to our side. Resistance is futile.

        Uplink I often wish my wife was faster too; but I think I’d rather have slow than the whole trained assassin thing!

      • mr2686 says:

        Must not give in, must stay strong, Season 3 great…TPTB are the devil…no no, must stay strong!

      • atcDave says:

        Now, now, no need to get carried away. “The Devil” is a bit much. Some sort of lesser hell-spawn would be acceptable.

  11. atcDave says:

    I would have to say, thanks to mr2686 stirring up some trouble and a fun discussion/debate this has turned into one of the more active Saturdays we’ve seen at this site for quite some time! Very well done!

    • mr2686 says:

      Thanks Dave. I find it equally as interesting to find out why some people get so angry with the show as much as the people that love it so much. There’s probably a happy medium in there, but I will say it’s still my all time favorite show (followed by Lost and VM). I’m trying to keep the re-watches down to once a year but it’s so darn hard.

      • joe says:

        I’m not sure at all that those two groups aren’t saying the same thing, MR. I was always in the camp that said the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think the more indifferent viewers are long gone. I would say Chuck is my all time favorite show too. But sadly, I don’t think it’s perfect. More of a flawed jewel. There’s really only the one period I have much dislike for, and it’s sort of all focused into one bitter little pill. But seriously there’s still somewhat over 80 episodes I’ll happily watch anytime. Well, I’ve slowed down to only one or two episodes a week. But I don’t expect to stop cold anytime soon.

        But it s great fun to have to explain, explore and defend again. It is interesting in a way both how similar and different attitudes are from three years ago. My dislike of story telling decisions made hasn’t changed much, but some of the thought on why things were done, what could have been, or should have been different seems much more involved and sophisticated now. And yet, when I go back to that basic like/dislike poll from right after the misery arc, I can look at my own analysis of what didn’t work for me, and say that is still at least 80% true. The only change I would make to the post mortem now would be to admit the romance itself is far more important to me than I was ready to admit then.

    • Dave says:

      Was going to the range, but got rained in.

      If there’s going to be mud-slingin’ or fisticuffs, then I’m in.

  12. atcDave says:

    Okay, funny thought of the night. My wife and I saw Man of Steel tonight. my brief review would be: fun in places, but not enough to honor the Superman mythology. Too many effects, not enough time on characters, settings and story. Like I said, fun, but kind of empty like candy.

    Well my wife, who is definitely a more casual viewer of movies and television than I am, and rarely remembers things like where she’s seen actors before; made the comment “well the acting was better than in that last Superman movie, but I liked that story better, stiff actors and all…” I laughed. The name Brandon Routh meant nothing to her.

  13. Dave says:

    I was watching some S4 stuff and figured out how to fix S3…

    Throw out 3.01, play 3.02-3.06, then 3.10, then 3.07 only cut the “I have a type” scene then replace with Shaw getting turned and Chuck’s declaration scene from the end of AH, then play 3.13 forward deleting the interrogation scene in 3.17 and forget 3.01, 3.08, 3.09, 3.11 and 3.12 ever happened. If necessary, reshoot 5 episodes to fill the gap between 3.15 and 3.16.

    That would make a good season even without the 5 replacement episodes. I might do that on some DVDs and see how it looks.

    • atcDave says:

      We’ve sort of joked for years it would be fun to have a “‘shipper’s cut” of the season. No reason why a dedicated amateur/fan couldn’t do it!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I never saw myself as a hardcore shipper. I just realize that Chuck and Sarah together is what makes the show. I’m really looking at getting rid of the ridiculous Zombie Sarah. The only essential thing from those 5 episodes is Shaw being turned by the Ring. The sooner the better. I think, on second thought, I’d put the scene where he’s turned at the end of Nacho Sampler and lose the pathetic Chuck getting drunk scene, that always grated on me.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I resisted admitting I was a ‘shipper for a long time too. But I realized when I was saying Chuck and Sarah’s interaction together was the main reason I was watching; well, that pretty much made me a ‘shipper.

        But for a long time, my position was, I wanted the show to be about the action and adventure, even the humor. But the relationship angst was an obstacle, and I couldn’t enjoy those things with the relationship drama dominating the show.
        The thing is though, it is me who is letting the relationship stuff dominate. I don’t mean that as a bad thing at all, just a moment of self realization. The main characters being happy together IS the most important part of the show to me. So that makes me a ‘shipper. And looking at the fandom, I (we!) have lots of company.

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The American Hero (3.12) | Chuck This

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