Season Three Alternative: Other Guy

Well we’ve made it to the end of the misery arc.  Or is this the beginning of a new show?  Hmm,  maybe we’ll save that thought for next week.  Other Guy is about wrapping up the Season Three front arc, and it does manage to bring in a new era for the show.  But for this post, we’ll be looking at it as a wrap up, and discuss what maybe still could have been different.

I think that this will be a shorter post than others in this series, especially since I’ve already said most of what I wanted about the episode itself in the main post.  After the jump, its once more into the breach…

As mentioned above, I’ll skip my usual commentary here, and get right to the Alternative part of the post.  Even though I mostly enjoyed Other Guy, its safe to say a lot of that is simply because the misery was now over.  Because so much of this episode was about wrapping up the ugly arc before, there is plenty of story elements here that I would have rather seen done differently.  To continue the sort of short/long fix device I’ve used all season, I would say the short fix is pretty simple.  Because I was mostly(ish) happy with the episode and its outcome the only thing I’d really mess with would be some of the attitudes towards Shaw stuff.  We’ve discussed several times how woefully inadequate Shaw seems to be as a super spy.  I could easily see this episode as the dying last gap of Shaw’s influence over Beckman.  Perhaps the General is still convinced of his genius, but no way should Chuck or Sarah be buying it for a second.  I would love to see some attention payed to the idea that Sarah does not want to be with Shaw on a mission without backup.  The opening sequence is simple, she immediately activates her tracking device when she goes to help Shaw.  Perhaps Shaw is jamming it, so Chuck doesn’t get the signal until late.  The bigger change would be Paris.  I simply imagine Sarah and Chuck agreeing quite easily that Chuck (and Casey?) will follow to provide support.  I think its as simple as that.  If we need the “before the Intersect you were smart” moment its simple enough to have Shaw loose them somehow, and Chuck use his brains to reacquire the target.

As always, the long fix is a bit more involved.  Other Guy would change a great deal if Chuck and Sarah had been together.  The most obvious thing being that the DYLM? moment wouldn’t quite be as epic.  Although it still could be a sweet moment if we know Sarah has been worried about the effect of training and the job on Chuck.  The focus of the drama though might not be all that different.  Perhaps Beckman really is thinking of breaking up the team.  I like the idea that corrupt Shaw has been manipulating the team to tear them apart all along.  He shouldn’t be succeeding as well as he wants, except maybe Beckman is falling for it; between firing Casey and reassigning Sarah, Shaw is on the verge of having his Intersect agent isolated.  But his manipulation has failed in nearly every other way; Chuck and Sarah trust each other and work well together, Casey may still be covertly involved, and Sarah knows she’ll quit rather than leave.  I guess that makes Shaw the one who’s truly isolated.  I like the sound of that.

So moving on to fan fiction.  I believe most Other Guy themed fiction is more along the lines of smut than true alternates.  You all know I’m not going to go there.  This isn’t really the sort of crisis point that drives fan fiction writers to tinker or re-invent.  But there are a couple.  Surprisingly, both are fairly recent.  Many of you may have already read Jason75’s “Chuck vs Everything’s OK“, but if you didn’t, be sure to check it out!  Its short, kind of funny, and may be the most completely acceptable way of dealing with the misery arc, while still retaining much of the final scene.

A significantly longer piece is Steampunk.Chuckster’s “Chuck Versus the City of PDA“.  You probably won’t have to think too hard to figure out what its about.  More specifically, it will take us from the end of Other Guy to the beginning of Honeymooners. Do I need to mention this is mostly fluff?   But its fun fluff.  Those familiar with Steampunk.Chuckster know the writing will be first rate.  Just a completely enjoyable way to spend about an hour.

I sure do look forward to hearing from our regular crew here.  Especially those who have been constructing more involved alternates for the season.  One last time; let’s do better than the pros!

I have truly had a lot of fun doing this series of posts these last few months!  Sadly, I see no way of keeping them up on a weekly basis.  The show is so much fun coming up, and I think we all will be more interested in sharing our discussion with the whole community again.  But it has struck me as a bit of an epiphany, that crisis points and inspired alternate stories will come up again, even when we’re completely happy with the show itself.  So even if no longer weekly, this series will continue as an occasional feature whenever I think (or you all tell me!) there is interest in exploring more of the “what ifs” and “could have beens” that stray from show canon.  The next time I expect to publish one of these posts will be after Ring II. I just know there’s a few alternates spun off from that one!

~ 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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90 Responses to Season Three Alternative: Other Guy

  1. Dave says:

    atcDave
    This is going to be a long post for me, more like AP.
    That little project of creating a new front arc, using only what was available. This is what happens when you’re off from work and the weather is too bad to go fishing as planned. Took about 8 hours but here is what I came up with…
    Season 3.0D (For Dave…ha,ha)
    Episode 1: A special 1 ½ hour premier episode using the first 7:25 of Pink Slip (probably didn’t need that much, but I couldn’t pass on Sarah in a white bikini) then picking up where Javier the assassin arrives at the Buy More to the end of PS (probably didn’t need that much, but I get great satisfaction in watching Emmett get his). Then, play 3W as is. I know I really hate PS but I needed Chuck to flunk out of spay school, Sarah to be upset with Chuck and Beckman to put the team back together.
    Episode 2: Angel
    Episode 3: OA
    Episode 4: First Class
    Episode 5: Modified Tic Tac. I insert the scene from AH where the Ring Director shows Shaw the video of Sarah shooting Shaw’s wife right after the opening graphics after Casey is arrested. Then I delete where Beckman fires Casey and pick up as soon as Chuck and Casey leave the room where Beckman discusses Sarah’s reassignment and offers her a ride to DC. Then I delete the first part of Chuck and Casey’s discussion in Casey’s apartment and pick up where Chuck says “I was talking about Kathleen”.
    Episode 6: Modified FE. I delete three small dialogue pieces between Chuck and Casey where they mention Casey being fired/a civilian (I need Casey to still be active for the next episode). Then I delete everything after Casey tells Chuck that Beckman, Sarah and Shaw have to believe he (Chuck) killed the mole this is the way it has to be.
    Episode 7: Modified mask. I delete the dialogue between Sarah and Shaw in Castle after Shaw gasses them and Shaw carrying out Sarah. I pick up with Chuck entering the Museum and confronting Vassily and stop as soon as Casey leaves with the antidote and Chuck gets the vault open and begins to leave the computer room deleting everything after that. I replace the ending with the ending from AH picking up where Beckman says “It’s been an exciting three years…” don’t need what came before, and play till Shaw has Sarah headed into the desert.
    Episode 8: OG.
    Executive Producer’s notes:
    I know I created a medium sized plot hole by not having Casey fired. But since I don’t have a production company at my disposal, I have imagined that near the end of Modified mask, Beckman learns Casey interfered with the Red Test. Since Beckman wants to keep it quiet she suspends Casey pending his return to general military duites.
    This worked very well when I finished and watched it all together. The Modified Mask worked excellently with resolving the whole LI issue for both Chuck and Sarah.
    This achieves my objectives, which were…
    1) Still give Chuck a difficult path to being a spy. A challenging path for him.
    2) Banish Zombie Sarah.
    3) Have no LI’s.

    • atcDave says:

      I certainly like your goals, and this does work. I’m glad you had a slow rainy day Dave!

      My biggest beef is with keeping Pink Slip at all. But if we’re working entirely from canon it would be tough to get around the set-up.

      So S3.0D (AKA the “Good Parts Version”) looks to be a lot more fun, and quite a bit shorter (!) than canon.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I would have preferred to lose PS altogether as well. But as I said, I needed enough to support the next series of episodes.

        I salvaged 3 of the only 4 things I liked in this episode (Sarah bikini, Emmett getting shot and Casey and Chuck sparring) but the fourth (Chuck playing the guitar in the club) was in a sequence where Sarah was absolutely vicious to Chuck so I dropped it.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I didn’t realize you’d dropped that part. Okay, I just reread your description and see it now. Much better! Good job.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Also, the stake-date scene was a tough call since there is an allusion to Sarah/Shaw it come mostly from Chuck, Sarah doesn’t really admit it. Without all of the other distractions, when Chuck asks Sarah to try again, Sarah starts to kiss Chuck acknowledging a new start but stupid Shaw interrupts.

        Like I said, once I cut out the chaff, it actually worked better than I thought. I was not overly familiar with these episodes, so when I saw them again as I was making the new version (I, in fact, made a 2 dvd set) and then viewed it all together it really worked for me.

        Also, Hannah is just there no more effect than any other Buy Moron. Shaw is a rather inept, arrogant prig of a boss, who tries to get to Sarah but fails and ultimately becomes a villain.

      • atcDave says:

        That all sounds really appealing.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        There is another neat tidbit I didn’t remember until I made this new version then viewed it all together (after all, I never re-watched this stuff). It builds on the Charles Carmichael persona and is kind of funny.

        After C&S boost the mask, Vassily returns to the museum and reviews the security footage. He has C&S leaving the vault with the mask in one panel and has Hannah kissing Chuck in another and he says (and I may mess up but this is close)…

        “Look at this guy. We’ve got a real Casanova here.

        He uses the blonde to steal the mask, and he seduces the brunette to get access to the computers and the vault.

        Oh, he’s good, this one”

        On seeing it again I thought it was a hoot. Through totally hilarious circumstances, Charles Carmichael strikes again.

  2. Dave says:

    Not to leave unfinished business, My earlier effort to keep all episodes but make minimal changes in each (Except PS and FN, they needed major overhauls) needs only one change for OG.

    For OG, I only need to make DYLM into “Do you trust me” since in my alternative DYLM happened during the Stake-date and Chuck has been trying to get Sarah to stop working Shaw for information (Sarah has been working Shaw since the end of FN). So when Chuck asks “Do you trust me?”, Sarah answers yes as before and we get a touching scene. Leave the rest as is.

  3. authorguy says:

    Not a S3 alternate I’ll ever write, but it popped into my head recently: Chuck gets fired by Beckman in Prague. He hacks the system and changes his grades, making himself a spy and reassigning himself to team B. Then he spends the rest of the season living up to his lie. Beckman dumps Shaw, the only spy worse than Chuck, on him as revenge. Hilarity ensues.

  4. uplink2 says:

    Well I’ve written an entire S3 alternative so I’ll stand on much of that but when I started it there were only a few things I had as absolutes, Chuck and Sarah would talk like adults with no phony interruptions, contrived train schedules or endless lines of miscommunication troupes. Second absolutely no Hannah, the most pointless character ever in the show. Because no Hannah means no LI Shaw. No stupid stick. I promised to keep them all smart and great spies. There would be mistakes certainly but not stupid ones like the countless things we’ve written about in these alternatives. The Ring would be a real, actual and deadly threat not the caricatures they were in canon. That’s what I’m working on now. Everything else was wide open. But notice I didn’t say Sarah and Chuck had to be together right from the start. Yes they admitted their feelings but stayed apart based on I hope honest circumstances for 12 chapters.

    Now that we are at the end of this alternative journey, what I think I’ve taken away from it is that even after another round of analysis my opinion really hasn’t changed. If anything its gotten worse because of these alternatives. They are all infinitely better than what we got. Pink Slip was a terrible episode and it started us on a road that I wasn’t happy with at all. But it could have been done so much better and there is an element of a decent story behind it. But the problems are the contrived way it was set up to justify the absolute show killing disaster that was the OLI’s and especially Sarah/Shaw. I think it was possible to redeem Pink Slip up until First Class aired. Once the OLI journey began, the season was unredeemable and simply got worse and worse as the weeks went on.

    I go back to these quotes one more time:

    So season three: Shaw, Hannah, Chuck and Sarah hooking up with other people.

    Josh Schwartz Thank you for reminding me of these things.

    Well, I had forgotten certain people existed until I began prepping for this.

    Chris Fedak: This is your show.

    Some people had some issues with one or both of them —do you think it was just at that point people were getting impatient and they wanted Chuck and Sarah to get together or do you think it was something specific about either of them?

    Josh Schwartz Well I think Chris made that point early on that as soon as you saw Zach and Yvonne together and you saw Chuck and Sarah together onscreen it was sort of an undeniable chemistry. So it’s a hard chemistry to replicate, right. I think people were probably more open to the chemistry between Chuck and Hannah at the time and kind of got that a little bit more. I think people had a harder time because they loved Chuck so much they had a hard time understanding why Sarah would go for somebody who is so different from Chuck in Shaw. I think Bryce, people understood because there was history there and Bomer and Yvonne had this great chemistry. 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.

    Chris Fedak: And I think that once we found out he played a great villain, we found him.

    I think those quotes are about as close as we will ever get to Schwedak admitting that the OLI’s were a huge mistake. First Josh doesn’t want to be reminded of them and then when asked if it was the idea or something specifically about either of them he comes as close to throwing Shaw/Routh under the bus as possible. They both are saying here that pre-villain Shaw didn’t work and in effect that they couldn’t write for Routh till they made him a villain therefore negating what came before. He acknowledges they were driven by stuntcasting but he also acknowledges it didn’t work.

    So I think any S3 alternative has to start absolutely without Sarah/Shaw. Nothing was as big a show killer as that storyline. Now there were certainly other problems but that is the major elephant in the room and in these quotes they come as close as they ever will to agreeing with that premise.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ll agree with most of that Uplink. I do think the Zach/Yvonne chemistry is such that even if the characters were mostly fighting, its better to have them on screen together than separate. But the characters were so easy to like and root for, I don’t think any story keeping them apart or at odds would work for long. And of course what they did was the worst thing possible.

      One thing with doing these alternates, we got the complete AUs out of the way fairly early, so things like yours or Rogue Spy didn’t get mentioned so much after the first couple weeks. But it was fun finding a couple new things each week. Even if KateMcK’s structure wound up most paralleling the post structure I was using most closely.

      But I do want say again the show is a different beast from fan fiction. I love both, but the show, unlike a good AU, couldn’t afford to have Chuck and Sarah separate for any period of time. Too much of its vital energy came from them on screen together. Other than being completely clear about that, I agree with your analysis entirely.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink

      If you look at what I did with the existing stuff, you’ll see Zombie Sarah gone and no OLIs. Hannah is still there but she is essentially a stalker Buy Moron who makes a run at Chuck but gives up and serves as just a damsel in distress for Chuck and Casey to rescue. Shaw makes a run at Sarah but she shoots him down.

      Its amazing what happens when you lose almost all of 5 episodes. For continuity sake, I had to use some of Pink Slip and some of AH, but otherwise episodes 1,6,8,9 and 12 just go away, and you know when I viewed the finished product it was better than I expected. If I were a professional editor it would actually look better. While Sarah and Chuck are not physically together until episode 8 in my version, they are at S2 level with Chuck off limits because he’s a trainee now instead of asset but the same rules apply.

      Also note, Shaw is turned in episode 5 of my version. Also I saw the triggering of the gas as a failed attempt to kill Sarah foiled by Chuck and Casey. This actually makes the Shaw waking up in hospital much more relevant, at least to me.

    • atcDave says:

      I also want to mention I am really sorry if this actually made it worse for you! I already thought so little of the season it didn’t make much difference, and I really had fun talking through all the different ways this could have gone. I guess I think less of the season in the sense I have no use for it. But it would be hard to top the actual outrage I felt the first time I saw it!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Don’t apologize. While I will never be at peace with the Misery Arc as shown, it made me explore alternatives.

        What I got out of it all was a watchable 7 episode replacement for my next marathon (I fell it coming on). It also reinforced my belief that TPTB just flat out blew. Bad idea, worse execution and not entertaining, at least to me. I also found some gems of moments that sadly were trying to swim with an anchor around their necks.

        Originally, I was astounded by TPTB being so clueless about their own creation (as of the end of S2) and the hubris they displayed with this front arc.

        This has been fun and enlightening. Glad you did it.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m glad it worked for you Dave, I had fun too.

    • uplink2 says:

      Oh Dave, don’t be, please. I’m actually glad that my first impression gets reinforced each time we go through this. As I expect this is the last time any of us will ever do this kind of episode by episode analysis I think it’s appropriate that in many ways we come to the same conclusion. I think that’s a good thing in that we still see what we saw from our initial watch. That means our reaction was the honest and correct one for us. Now I will say that as we’ve done these over the years I have seen and learned some new things. Probably the biggest happened not in this rewatch but an earlier one in my discussions with BigKev about the final scene of Three Words. I look at that ending differently now. I think I see both of our interpretations and in many ways it comes off better than I remembered it. I’m still bothered that it was ignored going forward but that is just one of many many elements that bothered me from this season. The new tidbit from this rewatch was the time on the clock on the night stand that was part of the discussion that led to me writing my latest FF effort. It’s small but it’s valued.

      But I think one thing I got from this rewatch and these alternatives is what I mention in my other posting. It really could have been so much better with some minor changes and TBH a lot less arrogance on the part of TPTB to actually recognize what was failing and make some effort to fix it. The recent “heresay” story of the staff recognizing it was failing that I absolutely believe is true is comforting in many ways. It doesn’t help the disaster on screen but it does help me have some faith in the Chuck family outside of Schwedak.

      But I also think what I got from this rewatch and these alternative discussions where we were free to talk about what we really saw and not just drink the kool-aid is I have a much clearer understanding of Schwedak’s comments above. As I said they as much as admit the OLI’s were a disaster though Hannah was accepted a bit more readily. But they really came further than I first thought on admitting Sarah/Shaw failed completely. They lay much of the blame on themselves but also on the casting of Routh and if that is what I get most out of these past 13 weeks then it was absolutely worth it. Sarah/Shaw failed and Schwedak know it failed.

      But finally I think I’ve also hardened my position that good intent does not excuse poor execution. Knowing what they may have been trying to do does not make a better product or enhance my enjoyment of a show if that intent is never shown on screen. Season 3.0 fails less for me on initial concept but disastrously on execution. The OLI stories and Shaw in particular were absolute show killers. I don’t think anyone has made any credible case for Sarah/Shaw and it seems that even Schwedak agree that it failed.

      It’s over and done now but I’m not someone that will ever say the destination was worth the trip. The growth others talk about I simply don’t see. It was all just a big circle, especially for Sarah and her character was severely damaged by that journey. Trying to sell Sarah/Shaw and Shaw in general really diminished the “epic” nature of the romance and diminished both characters but Sarah in particular to a huge extent. That to me is unforgivable. So I can’t and I won’t “just accept it because they are together now”. That is what I think they were hoping to have us do and some certainly have been able to but I never will.

      So Dave I’m really glad we did this and thank you and all the others on this board for allowing these alternatives and TBH I think it went much better than I initially expected.

      • “I’m actually glad that my first impression gets reinforced each time we go through this. As I expect this is the last time any of us will ever do this kind of episode by episode analysis I think it’s appropriate that in many ways we come to the same conclusion. I think that’s a good thing in that we still see what we saw from our initial watch. That means our reaction was the honest and correct one for us. ”
        That’s very sad. The whole business of being human is to learn and grow, and see things in new ways. The idea that you cannot change your mind is very depressing to me. My assumption of all who claim to love this show is that they would strive to find some interpretation that makes the most, and most positive, sense. This inability on your part may be something you have to live with but certainly nothing to celebrate.

      • uplink2 says:

        Wow, Marc that really is a misinterpretation of what I was saying. From what I read there it seems that you think growth only comes from changing one’s mind. I think a great deal of growth can come from realizing that you saw things properly the first time. It’s an acceptance that your initial reaction was the correct one for you. As I’ve said I’ve been open to other ideas, my discussions with BigKev were proof of that but if the new ideas fail then my initial conclusion was the correct one. That to me is growth and learning.

        But I take great offense to the idea that to truly love the show I have to do everything I can to try and find an interpretation that makes the most logical and positive sense. I could not disagree with that statement more. I don’t have to be a fanboy to love this show. And I take great offense to the idea that I haven’t done everything I can to make sense of this story because I have. I wouldn’t be here 3 years later if I hadn’t. The problem is that it doesn’t make sense to me. It never has and after all this time I think its fair to say it never will no matter how eloquent it’s presented. It still fails. And there is no positive way to look at it. Sarah/Shaw was a disaster. It failed on significant and clearly obvious levels to the point even TPTB agree it failed.

        Hey I love my kids but when they screw up, and they do, I don’t love them any less because I refuse to find a more positive and sensible view of their actions. They screwed up and I as a parent need to be honest, direct and consistent in the behavior I will accept. It’s not my job as a fan who loves this show to love everything they did. I may be obliged to keep an open mind but to use my metaphor again I will not force my head against the window so hard that it hurts to see the ocean and call that an ocean view. It isn’t. It’s a lie and I think this show deserves better than a lie to accept what they were trying to do. Hey people fail at their job all the time it doesn’t make them bad people necessarily but it isn’t the obligation of the consumer to try to find the least offensive view of that failure.

      • atcDave says:

        Sometimes Marc, its good just know your first judgement was correct. There’s no virtue in changing your mind, just for change’s sake. But I am all for learning and growth, especially the sort the show runners did after S3.

        But yeah Uplink, I think this re-watch, especially these alternates posts, have helped settle a lot of the feelings and attitudes I had. Although I guess I am okay with closing the book on it and moving forward; not to ever say the misery arc itself was okay, but just to say its over, and they won’t make those mistakes again.
        I don’t know how much to believe of the other sources you’ve cited; but I clearly remember Ryan McPartlin talking at Comic Con the year after (Summer 2010) and he was making the comment that he thought the show runners had learned a big lesson about not letting anything come between Chuck and Sarah again. Ryan always has a pretty unfiltered way about him; and I’m honestly not sure if his comment should be taken more as an insider, or an outside observer (did he ever know what was really going on in the loop?). But I always took great comfort from that comment.
        Nothing could ever make this arc “right” for me, but I’m ready for what’s next!

      • I didn’t say change for change’s sake. If my first judgment of something that was offered to me (by someone who had every reason to try to please people like me) is that it’s bad, my first reaction is to try to figure out why and how they thought it was good enough to offer. I’m not so autocratic (although, as a consumer I suppose I could be) as to just spit it back in their face and say it’s terrible, unless I can come up with no alternative way of seeing it. In this case they had a perfectly fine story that they did not or were unable to present properly. I’m able to dig beneath the presentation layer to see the story they were actually telling. To do anything else is to choose to be unhappy, which is certainly my right, although I don’t know why I would do so. I may do the work, dig as far as I can go, and still come up empty of value, and at that point I may say something is terrible, but more likely I’d only say that I’m unable to find a position from which it’s pleasing to me.
        The perfect scenario is for them to offer me something I don’t have to work to enjoy, but I’m not going to go straight to ‘terrible’ just for that.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I think the naughty kids analogy is awesome.

        But I do need to add, for me it was never about understanding. Understanding is irrelevant. I don’t LIKE it. It fails as entertainment. So what they were trying to do, or meant to do never enters into it.
        This has not always been the case on every episode. Many have moved up or down in my esteem over the years based on big picture or reinterpretation of something (Wookiee is a prime example, I like far more now than on first viewing). But the misery arc is too broken, it just has too much wrong with. From initial concept, through dozens of execution details, it just doesn’t work for me.

        I often find it strange that the idea of a mistake seems so offensive to some viewers. Why is it such a big thing to just say they screwed up? I guess I come from a profession that is pretty transparent about these things. If you screw up on frequency its heard by dozens, or even hundreds of people listening and there’s no point in denying it. Even better, its recorded and can be listened to over and over. Sure you can bluff some people and sound like “I meant to do that…” But if anyone ever gets hurt there will be no hiding it at all. Its always best to just admit it, learn from the mistake, and move forward. And everyone makes mistakes.
        Now I do understand some viewers don’t feel any mistakes were made (“I meant to do that…”). And that’s fine. But this discussion was never really meant for them. We’re not stopping anyone from enjoying the show just the way it ran. Sure our attitudes may be a little offensive to you; but guess what, your attitudes are a little offensive to us too. That just is how it is.

      • oldresorter says:

        Pilot / Delorean / Colonel / Honeymooners / Phase 3 ‘better than I could imagine’ vs Season 3 misery arc when ‘I had to use imagination’ to find the season acceptable. Once we get there, then it’s all a matter of degrees af acceptance of what didn’t work on screen vs how one was willing to conjure up a more favorable interpretation.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I’m far more interested in getting a show more to my liking than I am what they were trying to do. I feel no particular obligation to care what they were trying to do. Just as I don’t care about the idea behind my car, only that it gets me where I want to go.

        And yeah I’m being ridiculous and extreme in that illustration. But I think your position is just as extreme the other way. It’s television. It exists to entertain. I watch television to be entertained. If it fails to entertain, a post mortem on “why” can be interesting. But I’m not interested in understanding intent. It would be like getting the recipe for my least favorite dish. Why bother?
        You’re allowed to like it, nothing we say can ever interfere with that. But we’re allowed to dislike it too. And you can’t change it.
        And none of that makes me, or any of the rest of us, unhappy people. I know very well what I like and dislike in this world. I even know pretty well what I like and dislike about Chuck at this point. It was wonderful show with tons of things I enjoyed a great deal. But the misery arc isn’t among them. I’m fine with that.

      • Once when my son was very young he was looking in the refrigerator for some salad dressing, and he said, “I don’t see anything that I like.” I told him, “Like something that you see.” What you like, what you are entertained by, is just as much your choice as anything else. You don’t have to change it if you don’t want to, but I can’t regard such a refusal as anything positive.
        My position is extreme in the opposite direction, perhaps, but I watch less TV too. Chuck and Bones are the only things I see worth the effort. I have S1 of Dexter on DVD but I’m not going to watch it until I finish nine2five.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc why do you only watch two shows? How can you judge the other shows you’ve never even seen?
        We all make selective judgements every day. There are previews, and media critics, and friends who all help us find those shows we might, or might not like. There is never a need to start watching something we won’t like. It’s not like, “I’ll die if there’s nothing to watch on TV tonight”. It is 100% a discretionary activity. So there is no need to force ourselves to choke something down.
        And for me that’s exactly what this is. I did not in fact re-watch most of the season this time through. I choose to have other things to do with my time. If this blog were wholly my own, I likely would have skipped the misery arc with one single post. But I admit, I would have missed something by doing that. Nothing from show canon itself. But rather the chance to go over so much great fan fiction from the richest period in fan fiction history. If I feel the show itself blows chunks, the ff is awesome! Even better, we had a lot of fellow Chuck fans here who had a lot of fun working through their own versions of what would have made the season better. So I did find something great about S3, by leaving it behind.

      • I discovered both Chuck and Bones on DVD and love them both. I also discovered Medium that way, and Fringe, Glee, and Castle, and I have no great desire to follow up with any of those shows. I didn’t see either Buffy or Angel until long after both were over. On the other hand, I saw two episodes of Wonderfalls on TV and bought the series on DVD.
        I have many better things to do than watch TV, such as write my Chuck stories or my other novels. I do most of my TV watching on DVD now, I have too much to do to watch according to their schedule, or to be bothered with commercials. I get up at 5 AM and I’m usually in bed by 9:30, and TV watching isn’t a priority. I mostly ignore it unless someone recommends something to me. So for me to watch a show at all takes a lot of interest and commitment on my part, and when something like S3 happens I’m going to make that commitment work.

      • atcDave says:

        But see that’s exactly my point. You choose to reject a majority of what’s on because you feel it’s not worthy of your attention. I’ve chosen to reject one arc of Chuck as unworthy of my attention. The situation is a little different because it has continuing relevance to the rest of the show, which I do not reject. But seriously, I’m far more interested in the variants and alternates that were actually GOOD, than analyzing over dreck I couldn’t even stand to watch the first time around. The misery arc itself is not worthy of my time off.

      • I don’t reject any shows, so much as the activity of TV-watching in general, which I find dull in itself. The shows I want to watch have to be good enough (i.e., mentally or emotionally stimulating enough) to overcome my negative feelings about simply watching TV, or even movies, in general. I get most of my shows from the library or recommended by friends, and I will watch some (on DVD) before I decide it isn’t worth the time. Scheduling my time around the TV is something I don’t do.

  5. oldresorter says:

    Dave, this is a little different type of comment, I’m saying if we had to have LI’s, Red Tests, Prague, i.e. the season like it was, how does the season work better? Here is a start, I’m sure others could do much better.

    1 – Sarah’s heart broken by Chuck still is probably the most stunningly out of character moment in the show. Yet, the entire arc spins around that moment. This scene should have been shown live, replacing chuck loafing on the couch and Sarah being shown to be the drug lord’s mistress, to get the audience to where they needed to be mentally, understanding Sarah’s hurt and Chuck’s – I don’t even know what the writers could show with Chuck, I guess some dialogue to Casey that Chuck explains why he broke Sarah’s heart?

    2 – Sarah retreating into the spy life now that her heart is broken in ep 3×1, then settling for Shaw in 3×8 makes some sense, it probably should have been written clearer, better that she indeed was doing that. Casey asking Sarah what is she doing, she replies, I’m a spy Casey, being with another agent for a moment of relaxation is what we do. Why not Chuck? He broke my heart John. In prague? Not just there, everyday I see him becoming one of us. That sweet guy we met two years ago is that way because of me. blah blah blah, something along those lines.

    3 – The Red Test idea showing how undesireable the spy life was, it seems stunning that Sarah did not tell Chuck about it, some dialogue probably should have addressed that too. Either Casey or Sarah probably would have warned Chuck way back before s3 even started, when he was training to be a spy. Certainly around the Manoosh ep they would have. Even orders given to forbid them from Shaw or Beckman might have worked?

    4 – Mask and Fake Name were really poorly written, those two eps were so important, if the show really wanted to go there, the show needed to make those eps so good, that the bad was at least understood and accepted. The poison gas scene was stupid, Shaw really didn’t even save Sarah, Chuck did by getting the antidote. Should have never used Fake Name. Sarah should not have been placed in a hypnotic trance by Shaw for 5 eps, should have been very Sarah Walker like and defiant during the misery arc (she was in tic tac mostly, how much better that ep worked?)

    5 – Chuck and Sarah needed more screen time, more scenes together, etc, although, at least from my POV, the final exam stake date scene showed one problem the writers may have felt they couldn’t go there, because when they were together, the scenes worked so well, that keeping them apart was becoming more and more ridiculous.

    Bottom line with Chuck, and this is true of the final season, which in some ways broke my Chuck fan heart leaving Sarah with amnesia on the beach, the writers needed to do a little less, and do it a little clearer and alot better.

    • atcDave says:

      Well you know, I think the LIs are THE biggest problem, everything else is small stuff. So trying to fix just the small stuff would not have worked for me at all.

  6. oldresorter says:

    Uplink you aked me about Homeland, got thru s2. I liked s1 more. The ending of s2, most of s2 for that matter, stretches the credibility of what I might believe is possible. The coolness of s1, is it was possible. The lead lady is such a mess, I don’t like those types of stories. That being said, the explosion idea itself was pretty cool, but again, the government has to be portrayed as exceedingly stupid to make any of this work, I can buy a little stupid, but there are limits.

    What did you think?

    By the way, I will watch s3, the place the show was left, leaves it in a better, more credible place, with Brodie on the run and Saul in charge and the crazy lead agent bouncing off the walls.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree. Here is my take. I loved season 1 until the finale. I thought the whole memory wipe with Carrie was a copout. But up till that final episode it was a fantastic season.

      Season 2 was the opposite for me. I thought it was weaker, over the top and unbelievable in spots but I loved the finale. So overall I agree as a whole Season 1 was better with a weak final episode and season 2 was weaker but had a better final episode.

      I really can’t wait for next season as it will be the test if they can sustain the quality.

      • mr2686 says:

        Off topic, but I just saw that “The Real Housewives of Orange County” is having it’s 100th episode…and Chuck only had 91. Somebody somewhere must pay!!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh the inequity! Did you want to argue again about the connection between ratings and quality?! (Please know that i’m kidding!). It is truly staggering some of the stuff that people watch.

      • mr2686 says:

        The only thing I can think of is that “Housewives” is on a network like Bravo, however; that brings up a question of why a show like Chuck could not have migrated over to another network other than the big 3. Some of these other networks need much lower numbers and a show like Chuck with a good fanbase could have gone to a lot of places and made money for them right off the bat.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I always thought USA would have been a very good fit for Chuck.

        Ratings matter less (cable channels get half their revenue from cable fees) but the total money is less. So Chuck would have had a cheaper budget from the start. Of course in hindsight we may all be fine with that if it meant the show running a few seasons longer. But I imagine in 2007 getting picked up by a major network seemed like a major break.
        I’m not sure what it would have taken to shop the show around in 2012 for new production. But I’m sure sure at that point Chuck was seen as a more expensive sort of show that had run its course. It also seems the show runners felt they were done with it. And I don’t think the cable networks are looking for network “retreads” any more. But with Netflix, and other independent shows finding a variety of avenues for production now, I wouldn’t bet either way on if we’ll ever see new Chuck in the future. You know I’m hoping we do.

      • uplink2 says:

        It’s funny my wife, the teacher with a Masters degree, watches the Real Housewives and when my lovely and snarky 20 something daughter found out, she teased her by saying that my Wife’s Alma Mater called because they found out she watches the Real Housewives they want her degree’s back. lol

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, in my mind if Chuck had been on say USA, a good portion of the cast would have been gone. Production budgets would have mandated it. Look at their shows and there are only usually 2-3 leads. I think the BuyMorons would be gone and possibly Ellie and Awesome would have been significantly reduced in screen time.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I know Uplink, but I’d be willing to sacrifice the Buy Morons…

      • atcDave says:

        We were talking a while ago about a cheaper cable or Internet version of the show returning someday. I’d love to see it. Make it the later adventures of the New Carmichael Industries. Chuck, Sarah, Morgan and Alex would be the only regular cast. Casey, Ellie and Devon would drop in fairly regularly. The new main sets would just be a modern office, and Chuck and Sarah’s house. It could be a very simple show visually, like White Collar or something. And maybe more of a mystery theme instead of high adventure. That should be a little cheaper too. Just keep it funny, fun and sweat.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        Expanding topic…

        I never got into Homeland. I watched S1 when it was suggested as a replacement for my Chuck obsession. There was a particular scene in E1 or E2 (I forget which now) that as a former military, 2 time combat vet just came off as demeaning and insulting. I watched it and found the remainder interesting but it didn’t capture me.

        Since Chuck ended I’ve been following Person of Interest and Elementary. A new show just started (2 episodes in) called King & Maxwell. I DVR’d the first two episodes and as I was just finishing watching them something struck me. The leads are an older more serious version of Chuck and Sarah.

        Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn)- Tall, blonde, athletic former Secret Service agent who is tough as nails, heavily armed and a risk taker who will go H2H with anyone (sound familiar).

        Sean King (Jon Tenney)- Lazy, couch potato who is also a former Secret Service agent who is always solving the crimes. He is never serious and, while capable, avoids conflict. He apparently never remembers to bring his sidearm.

        Maxwell is shooting it out with a baddie when..

        Maxwell: Cover me!
        King: With what?
        Maxwell: I can not believe you! Glove compartment?
        King: Kitchen drawer.

        Sounds like something that would happen to Chuck and Sarah.

        While there hasn’t been any sexual tension, it is clear they are fiercely loyal to one another and very protective of each other. I think I’ll see how it goes.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink, atcDave

        The moves they made in the series finale could have left a far less expensive show going forward. They ditched the Buy More and the Buy Morons, the castle, Casey, Ellie, Awesome, Jeffster and Big Mike as regulars. Essentially leaving only 4 regular characters (Chuck, Sarah, Morgan and Alex).

        I was convinced, art the time that the reason Sarah’s memory wasn’t resolved was that they were selling the scaled down version to the very end and wanted to leave a bit of a cliffhanger if they got a go-ahead.

        Redux Chuck would have been suitable for cable, I believe.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Somehow I missed your description of Redux Chuck, my apologies. But you were right on and have the same view I’ve held since I first saw the finale. In fact I stated as much at the time on IMdB.

      • atcDave says:

        No problem Dave, I think we’ve all been kicking around ideas long enough its probably been said that way several times.
        I guess I should add, for the record, my preference would be Casey instead of Morgan and Alex as a series regular. But I think he would cost more than the other two. And Chuck and Sarah is sort of the irreducible minimum.

      • oldresorter says:

        Chuck feels cheaper than most of the USA / Sci Fi shows to me. The problem for Chuck is they have only person on the regular cast who is there for drama, so everything bad flows thru Sarah. Most shows, even those that have a fair bit of wit, run the drama thru the entire cast, such that you don’t know what’s coming. In Chuck, every season starting with s3, Sarah gets kidnapped, tied up, goes away on a long term mission, poisoned, tied up and beaten by shaw for Xmas, then amnesied up.

        My quip to start s4 was Morgan needed to die to ramp up the drama, or even lose a leg like Bud in ‘Jag’, or total amnesia and let Morgan kill Chuck instead of Sarah, or something like that, to up the stakes in the show (or Ellie or Awesome). I honestly don’t think fans have the stomach for real drama in Chuck, other than have something happen to Sarah.

        Since the canon of the show has the characters so limited in what they can do, the show feels cheap to me. Plus, the humor takes up a fair amount of screen time that does not contribute to the A plot often, for sure in a riveting manner, such that the show runs out of time to explore important stuff. In most shows, the B/C characters / plot embelishes the key themes, rather than does slapstick comedy, which when the stakes are high at least seems disingenuous.

      • joe says:

        The only thing I can think of is that “Housewives” is on a network like Bravo

        I’m sorry I haven’t replied earlier (and I’m still wading through the comments, so forgive me again if this is not a fresh idea here). But I gotta say that you just made me feel a whole lot better about Chuck’s ratings back then. Ratings seem to have an ant-correlation with quality now.

        Well, sort of. When Real Housewives of Anywhere is considered a successful show, someone is certainly measure some other quality than I do when I define success. I suppose it’s a “lowest common denominator” kind of thing.

      • atcDave says:

        “Lowest common denominator” is exactly right Joe. It’s terrifying some of the stuff that does well.

      • Jason says:

        Joe / Dave – so much of TV is staying true to your audience on a weekly basis with the type of show the fans signed up for. Shows like the Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or Real Housewives, they are true to their theme week in and week out, no growth whatsoever in Dancing with the Stars or Idol, yet people have tuned in for years. IMO script writers are to blame for reality TV’s success, not reality TV.

      • atcDave says:

        I partly agree Jason. I agree completely that the type of scripted television being made is directly respinsible for its decline. People who like upbeat fun programming are often just out of luck in this current age of overly dark, self important, melodramatic tripe. It’s hard to find a well written show with an optimistic and encouraging tone. And I do think that’s part of why so many households are giving up on scripted television. Many of the competition shows in particular meet the need for fun, family entertainment. I also think that’s part of why so much of the Chuck audience was so enthusiastic, and why we turned so angry when the show changed in S3.
        But I don’t buy it completely. We are all responsible for what we watch. And a lot of the garbage currently on is indefensible.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I think part of the reason that the “overly dark, melodramatic” shows on network television don’t appeal to many folks is in part because of the limits on content and the overly long seasons. Shows like Dexter, Homeland, Game of Thrones simply couldn’t be done as well on Network TV. The language, nudity and thematic freedom that cable allows has shown what can be done and simply put the PG version just doesn’t tell the story with the same kind of honesty. Could a fantastic show like The Wire have been done on the networks? Absolutely not. The language and themes needed to tell that story so profoundly can’t be done with the limitations of a network/FCC censorship department and the time slot.

        In a way its part of the reasons for the failure of the darker themed season 3 of Chuck. They simply couldn’t do that kind of show effectively at 8pm on network TV. Not taking into consideration the tone of the show they had created in seasons 1 and 2 but can you imagine a cable version of Pink Slip with Sarah and Gilles? Or the Sarah/Shaw scene in her hotel room at the end of Final Exam? Or Hannah’s speech to Chuck at the end of FN loaded with F-Bombs like he deserved?

        As we have discussed before if the couldn’t tell that story effectively, they shouldn’t have told it at all. Plus the cable length of 12 episodes is simply easier to tell a tighter story. So the networks have to try something different. Plus all the great writers are running to cable because they have the money right now.

      • atcDave says:

        No I completely reject that theory Uplink. It’s not about what CAN be shown, it’s about saturation of the dark and gritty market. The market for those who would prefer more wholesome family programming is huge, and under served. Cable channels are constantly pushing limits and exploiting in every way imaginable, for a small segment of the adult market. Leaving families with kids, and adults who just don’t like that stuff; which in total is a much larger market, with much LESS available programming. So really dumb shows like Celebrity Lobster Fishing With Honey Ice Trucks becomes huge business, because there’s simply nothing any good on.
        It’s easy to see what’s happening in the movie market, as revenues are pretty closely tracked; G, PG and PG-13 movies make FAR more money than R rated movies, even though about half of all movies are released at R ratings.
        I’ve seen it called conspiracy, but I don’t quite buy that. I think it’s that the “artistic” community lives in their own little world and has no idea what most people actually want to see. And some of it may be professional pride. They want to make, what they want to make. And it means the smaller markets for violent and exploitation material is over served. While more accessible material is comparatively neglected.

        Just to purely guess on numbers; I think 40% of the viewers are getting 75% of the programming. The problem is, 75+% of TV and film makers are themselves in that first 40%. It’s what they want to make, so it’s what they make.
        And it leaves people like me with far less content, or making compromises on content that I would rather not make.

        Okay, maybe I agree with part of what you said Uplink; leave the darker, nastier stuff to the cable channels, and put more positive, uplifting content on the free networks. Unfortunately, they all want to be like the cable networks.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        I’m with atcDave on this one. The creative community is insular and “incestuous” as far as ideas go. They leave out a large segment that doesn’t want that stuff.

        I’m no prude, hell I was a professional soldier and have heard and used, on occasion, some seriously salty language. That doesn’t mean I want to hear it in my entertainment. Sometimes using it to further the story for realism (like in Platoon, I could relate to that) is OK. I broke out in a nervous sweat during the early scenes of Full Metal Jacket, it hit so close to my own experiences.

        I fell for Chuck because it was light hearted, campy and up-beat. The problem with the dark S3 was that they never should have tried it in the first place, not that they couldn’t do it properly. I have a suspicion that TPTB were seduced by the insular, intellectually “incestuous” creative crowd when they should have paid more attention to their customers (us) and stayed true with what had been successful.

      • uplink2 says:

        I kind of figured that might be your reaction and that’s fine. I know our tastes are different and I prefer the more edgey programming on cable. Give me Dexter and Game of Thrones over any of the Jerry Bruckheimer procedurals on CBS. You guys talk about the percentage and I think you are right but much of that reason is not because the producers fall in that 40% you mention, it’s because that 40% is the 18-49 demo the advertisers crave. I watched one of the Network upfronts this May and it is all about doing whatever they can to attract the youth market. It was all about social media integration. You are probably even a bit conservative with your percentages but it still doesn’t matter. Network television because of the ad funded revenue stream and the lack of significant subscriber fees like cable have, program to what the advertisers want and that is not 60 year olds. Cable doesn’t have to worry about that as much though they still check ratings to see what is working and what isn’t.

        Dexter for example had its best year ever in the ratings with the 7th season. Now we all think it is because of a certain blonde and that was part of it I believe, but still even after its best season ratings wise they decided to end it after this season. That rarely happens on Network TV. They run shows into the ground till they literally “jump the shark.” Not so in cable. 2 shows that many consider the best television ever made, The Wire and The Sopranos had 5 and 6 shorter seasons respectively. They didn’t drag them out because they didn’t need to. Subscriber fees were far less likely to change than advertising dollars. So they could afford to end the shows when creatively it was demanded.

        Guys I agree with much of what you are saying but the problem with Network TV is the revenue model. Until that changes you will get more Survivor and CSI and less Chuck and Smash.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree the revenue model has a lot to do with it, but I think that’s broken too. CBS is the only network that embraces older viewers, and they get huge ratings for it. And that’s a lot of older viewers who actually have more money. And yeah, I know they want to reach younger, more “mold-able” viewers, but its silly to be advertising Lexus or Cialis to 20-somethings.

      • Jason says:

        Uplink – I agree with you. My twenty something son got me started on Homeland and Game of Thrones. He watched Chuck, but he thought it was silly, his first ep ever, Pink Slip, which was near opposite of the show I described to him. My taste in TV when I was his age was quite different than my mom and dad’s too.

        It’ll be interesting if they do a movie, because unless it’s 100% fluff, they’ll have to do something really nasty to chuck, Sarah, and / or both of them. It’s ALL the show has to offer. I’d love to see a movie in the Hart to Hart romantic adventure sort of way, I don’t expect that, I honestly expect something pretty ugly, it’s the way of the world unfortunately.

      • atcDave says:

        Totally disagree with that Jason, I think if we get a Chuck movie it will focus on the light and fun. I’m positive Zach and Yvonne have concluded that’s what most fans, who want a movie, want to see. And they (especially Zach) will be the main factors if a movie ever gets made.

      • Jason says:

        Dave – they get the 1m Chuck fans for free, they need to get ten times that in the general public, best way for that, is to appeal to the twenty something gen with something nasty. Sarah is the go to girl for that. I want to see nice, but I doubt it will happen.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’ve been thinking about a movie a bit lately, Part of that is the big Nerd Machine announcement for Comicon this week where I think one of the absolute first questions for Zach will be what’s up with the movie. Especially if there is a Chuck panel or at least Yvonne is there which I expect she will as she should be done with Dexter by then.

        I’ve been thinking lately that one possibility is the return of Jill. She is the one unanswered question from the series. Plus she adds a dramatic element to the Chuk/Sarah story and lends itself to the at least mention of the memories. Jill, a resurgent Fulcrum and Chuck is the Intersect again. The new Carmichael Industries discovers Fulcrum has been invading companies they have been hired to protect. Jill works for one of them.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason the whole point to the Kickstarter is they DON’T need so many new viewers. They need to please the supporters who pay for the movie. That’s established fans, NOT new eyeballs.
        If another project gets done, it will not be dark.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I think a Jill/Fulcrum story would work fine. I don’t have strong feelings about her either way. A bigger issue might just be if Jordana Brewster wants to return.

        BTW, Dave’s bit of history nerd trivia for the day. Jordana Brewster’s surname always makes me laugh. She shares it with the only major American armaments manufacturer (aircraft specifically) that managed to go out of business DURING World War 2. Think about it. That’s Loser with a capital everything.

      • anthropocene says:

        That side of her family goes back to the Mayflower. I spent some time in Brewster, Mass., named for a forebear. Her grandfather was president of Yale and a U.S. ambassador. Don’t know if the company was theirs.

      • atcDave says:

        Well it was northeast. I think mainly Long Island, but I believe they held several properties.
        Brewster Aeronautical was descended from a coach, and later auto company, that also had several sites in the northeast. I believe it got its name from the original designer/craftsman who founded the company.
        But the WW2 version is sort of a poster child for incompetence, mismanagement and corruption. Their best known product, the Brewster Buffalo, was once commented on by a marine pilot who said “any commander who orders a pilot up in a Buffalo should consider the pilot dead before he ever leaves the ground”. The story is long and fascinating, not as altogether bleak as that makes it sound; but at war’s end, the company was out of business, and several top executives were in prison.

      • mr2686 says:

        I wanted to add my .02 here about season 3 being so dark. For me, I’m just not seeing this season as all that dark. Now maybe from a Chuck/Sarah perspective it is darker, but to me it’s no more dark than season 4 and 5, as well as several episodes in seasons 1 and 2. I happen to think the pilot is somewhat dark with a lot less secondary humor (or at least it’s much more subtle humor). Maybe I’m comparing this too much to some of the other shows on TV. Shows like Criminal Minds make Chuck’s dark moments look light and airy by comparison. Anyway, on the last few rewatches I just don’t see the season as all that dark…or maybe I like the B stories/humor enough to offset the A stories darkness.

      • joe says:

        I’m with you on that, MR. For my money, it’s more dark than S1 the same way Shaw is darker than Bryce. And really, that’s it. One character’s difference (but what a difference)!

      • atcDave says:

        There was always a mix of light and dark on Chuck. But S3 really stands apart to me in a few areas. Start with Pink Slip being wholly humorless. It was dark in the oppressive lack of joy sense of the word. Literally not a single moment in the entire episode I liked. That would never quite be true again, but it set the mood for a joyless arc. I would next call it dark because of how Chuck himself was reinvented as a less likable, less moral, less relatable character. Yes that’s purely my judgement, but I mean every sense of it. For the first time in the series, I didn’t know or LIKE this version of Chuck. I’ll call it dark in regards to Sarah too; gone is her endless patience, her willingness to forgive, and her confidence and trust in Chuck. Again, I know others will go on about how this was “needed” or some such; but to me it’s just another strike against. It’s making the show and characters significantly less likable. Next would be the nature of the spy world itself, in that Chuck himself is now more directly involved in the uglier parts of that spy world. This is the one, solitary aspect of the show’s darkness I’ll say was needed; but with everything else going darker too, it just adds to the oppressive feel of the whole season to me.
        And of course the final, but by far biggest aspect of darkness is the loss of trust and relationship between Chuck and Sarah. Now I can imagine arguing any one of these issues could be useful to the greater story. Although, as I’ve often mentioned, the last element alone is the deal breaker to me. That was the very thing I found so compelling about the show in the first place, and it was fractured for the entire arc. To me, it would be like going to see the Detroit Tigers play and not being told that today, the Toledo Mud Hens would suiting up as the Tigers. It’s just not the same. And actually, it’s even worse, not only is my favorite aspect of the show completely on hold, but most of the little things I liked are also suspended (Charah together; Chuck a good guy I like and relate to; Sarah a gentle, faithful hero; and lot’s of humor along the way).
        For the record, my complaints of darkness never have anything to do with bad guys. Bad guys are always bad guys and do bad things. I expect and require that in an adventure story of any sort. No complaint about darkness will ever have anything to do with them.

        So to me, it’s not just dark, it’s lights out. There is virtually nothing of the show I loved to see. And, as we’ll get to in the next few weeks, it won’t really be completely fixed this season either. The most egregious failing of the season was fixed with Other Guy. But I won’t be completely happy with the show again until S4.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I agree wholeheartedly with your observations. I will add one caveat for me…

        There were a number of good moments (and yes, almost all were Chuck/Sarah moments), but these were mired in a dark, “joyless” (good description) arc that was very much un-fun. Episodes 6,7,8 and 9 were pretty much totally un-fun. Add that to Pink Slip and the overall depressing nature of the arc and it just wasn’t what I got hooked on.

        However, I was stubborn and held on for the better stuff that followed. While S1 and S2 were absolutely great and hooked me, I find I gravitate back to episodes where Chuck and Sarah are together for my casual re-watching needs. Zach and Yvonne had great chemistry and it still dumbfounds me that TPTB did not see and exploit that. Still mystified in Missouri.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave we pretty consistently seem to be on the same page for this stuff. Although I think I would add episodes 5 and 11 in the mostly unfun list. Pink Slip does still stand out to me because it is never fun from beginning to end. All those other episodes (even Final Exam which I maintain as flat out, my most despised episode of the series) at least have a few fun or funny moments in them; and if the back drop, or ending were changed I might have liked them just fine. But Pink Slip is broke from beginning to end.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I agree that the ending of FE was just so incongruous (I mean 10 mins before “I don’t love him anymore” Sarah was going to kiss Chuck essentially agreeing to try again…baffling), but I was mainly showing that for four straight episodes and 2 months of the calendar (remember the Olympic break was thrown in there as well) we got nothing but bad. We got a pretty good episode to break that streak (Tic Tac was pretty good) then back to bad and while Tic Tac was pretty good it was still a depressing end for an otherwise very good episode. As you know, Pink Slip was my personal worst, the other two were in this run.

        I think the depressing endings were what I had the most problem with. Nacho Sampler, Mask and, for me anyway, FE would have been watchable had the endings not been so depressingly bad.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’d agree with all of that Dave.

      • uplink2 says:

        Sorry I’m late to this discussion but for me I have no problem with the “darkness” of the spy element of the show coming forward in Season 3 as I do think that was needed now that Chuck wanted to be a “real spy”. But it’s the absolute contrived and manipulative nature of the darkness of the relationship story that makes Pink Slip so unwatchable for me. The marionette strings are like half inch cable they are so obvious. You know fairly clearly the entire journey ahead is simply going to be to get them back to this exact spot at the end.

        As I’ve said many times I could have really enjoyed a darker themed story about Chuck becoming a spy but as soon as Chuck is shown to have absolutely no concern for breaking Sarah’s heart in Prague, I knew I wasn’t going to like this version of this journey. That wasn’t the Chuck I saw at the end of Ring 1. But over the next few episodes they started to redeem themselves until First Class and from that point on the season is completely destroyed by the OLI’s and especially Sarah/Shaw. I simply can’t see the elements of the darker spy story I wanted to see because of how bitterly I hated Shaw and the OLI story. I agree that there may have been no darker moment on the series than Sarah killing Mauser in cold blood. I understand why she did it certainly but that to me is the darkest it ever got. Too bad Fedak just swept it under the rug in 3D.

        But for me to enjoy that darker story there needed to be the balance of light and dark that S1 and S2 had. In S3 there was not one great “fountain” scene to balance that darkness. Not one point where you can hold on to and know this journey will end in a good place. The fountain scene at the end of Breakup is so emotional and heartbreaking but it is also uplifting because it is obvious those two are completely in love with each other and we get in the very next episode one of the truly best relationship episodes yet in Cougars. Same with Beefcake and Lethal Weapon. The moments of relationship darkness were always followed by moments of great hope. That doesn’t happen ever in season 3. The depressing “dark” moments just keep piling up one after the other with no light to balance them. The viewer gets blinded by depressing nature of what they are watching and becomes so numb to it you can’t see the underlying spy story through all the OLI crap lain on top of it.

        In many ways that is what the show lost after season 2. It lost its balance of dark and light, spy story and love story, humor and drama. For those that liked the darker spy story season 3 is most likely their favorite. For those that liked the relationship story season 4 is probably their favorite. But I think both groups would agree that season 2 was the best overall and that is in many ways because it had that perfect balance they threw away in Pink Slip to take that trip back to the empty OLI well. It’s a balance they never recovered and something that the finale needed to make it truly a “love letter to the fans.”

      • atcDave says:

        I pretty much exactly agree with all that Uplink. I even agree that in a technical, critical sense S2 was really the high point of the series. But yeah, I’m one of those who actually enjoys S4 the most.

      • mr2686 says:

        Uplink2, I guess that makes sense about the two groups, and since I’m actually in both groups it makes sense that I would like season 2 and 4 equally well. The only reason I don’t rate season 3 right up there with those two is my dislike for Routh as an actor. I do however find a lot to like in almost all of season 3’s episodes (yes, even Pink Slip) and in fact I like most every episode of the first half of season 3 better than a couple of later episodes like Tooth and Role Models, but that’s just me.

      • atcDave says:

        MR that’s definitely a split in the fan base we’ve observed many times, and I’ll even touch on it again in the Honeymooners post going up in a couple hours. Although I think most Chuck fans do enjoy all the various elements that make up the show, how we rank order things has a big impact on specific like/dislike opinions we have. As I outlined above, there’s like four different things that I dislike about S3 that were all very important to me; apparently more important than anything related to spy story or hero’s journey. We often hear from fans (or used to anyway) who just loved the darker elements of the spy story, or even the potentially tragic possibilities of the central romance. Most of those folks drifted away during S4. But the really frustrating thing to me will always be that we lost so many viewers who would have loved the later show during S3. Many of those of folks who would have liked Honeymooners best, never made it. Very frustrating.

      • uplink2 says:

        MR you know I agree with you about Routh but I won’t lay it all at his feet. It was Schwedak’s decision to go back to the empty OLI well. A better actor could have made it more acceptable but I was never ever going to like it once the manipulation of Chuck’s betrayal of Sarah in Pink Slip happened. No actor could recover the season from that contrivance. Because that contrivance wasn’t needed one bit to set up Chuck’s journey to becoming a spy, the journey I wanted to see. That contrivance was to set up Chuck/Hannah and Sarah/Shaw, what I have absolutely no interest in and hated with a passion. The scene in Prague was irrelevant to the spy story as Chuck could have simply said from the beginning that he chose to be a spy to help people and he was committed to that decision. The Prague scene was needed to destroy Sarah in the most cruel manner possible to tear them apart and send them off to other suitors. It had nothing to do with the spy story. Even if it happens all they had to do was have Chuck go one stop on that train and explain his reasons to her like the surveillance video. That scene drove the trapezoid and not the spy story. That is why it’s so manipulative and dishonest storytelling. It’s all about the relationship delay and nothing to do with telling an honest, yes dark, spy story.

      • atcDave says:

        Very well put.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dishonest storytelling? Well, I think that’s a bit harsh. Manipulative? Of course, but almost all shows are, and most follow a formula at one time or another, especially with the WT/WT theme. Let’s face it, once the main love interests finally get together, the show in question is usually good for only 2 – 4 more years (in most cases). God forbid they try to add a child to the mix as that seems to be the point of jumping the shark. A show like NCIS has been pretty successful with a long term WT/WT probably because they only hint at it and tease here and there, while a show like VM was more “together, then break up, then together, rinse and repeat. That’s good for the short term (and it was only on for 3 seasons) but I don’t think they could have sustained it too long.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I think “dishonest” is exactly the point for many of us. Of course all story telling is manipulation of a sort. But I bristle at comparing shows to each other like that, every show has its own tempo. WT/WT on NCIS is hardly worthy of the name, there is mostly nothing there, and the show has never let itself be ABOUT romance in any way.
        While on Chuck it pretty much drove the show. And as I said above, it was that they had to reinvent the characters I had known for two years to tell the story they wanted to. So that FEELS very dishonest to me, S3 doesn’t follow the S1 and S2 I saw at all. They had to take a protagonist who was all about others and an over-communicator; and have him seize something for himself while sharing nothing about his thought process. All while taking another character that was notable for being trusting, patient and accustomed to a conflict of interest; and have her lose her trust, behave rashly, and misunderstand a conflict of interest.
        And worse, it was to take us on a journey that was not to many fan’s liking. It violated our trust as fans and viewers. It was dishonest to the characters, the fans, to the show itself. And that all sounds horribly melodramatic…

        But it just fails me on virtually every level imaginable.

      • uplink2 says:

        MR It’s dishonest simply because Chuck, the Chuck we had been shown for 35 episodes never would have done it. He would have chosen to become a spy certainly but never would have walked away from her without any consideration for what his actions were doing to her. He would have explained it to her or at least feebly attempted to do it. He was rejecting the woman he loved, the woman who kept him from death on many occasions and from a bunker on many more, the woman he “wanted to live the life that I want with..”. Sure he would have done the morally correct thing and not run but he never could have lived with himself for destroying her and simply walk away. He was doing it to impress and be worthy of her in his eyes. Yet he betrays and devastates her and simply walks away like she was worthless and meant nothing to him. That was contrived, manipulative, dishonest storytelling simply to drive another round of WTWT. Plus the excuse of putting the leads together is a myth based on lazy writers not knowing how to write a compelling story with sufficient drama once you put the leads together. Chuck did it pretty well for 43 episodes after they put them together. But there were still plenty of real, honest ways to keep them apart as we have shown in these alternative threads that didn’t rely on contrived angst and failed OLI relationships. There was a great spy story to tell but the problem was we never saw it. It was all buried under pointless show killing LI stories.

      • mr2686 says:

        So I guess if we stop watching a show because we have a change of interests then we’re violating TPTB’s trust. I just don’t see it as a violation of trust if a story goes in a different direction or characters change/grow, and I don’t see it as wasted time or an investment in time because I liked something for a couple of years and now I don’t.

      • mr2686 says:

        Uplink, I don’t see Chuck walking away from Sarah as if she is worthless, on the contrary, I see him trying to show her that He is worthy by becoming a real spy and living a life with her without running.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree that is what he is doing. But what you are ignoring is his dismissal of the devastation his actions cause her. I stated above and have always stated that his decision to not run and become a spy was the correct one for his character as I’ve known it. He is trying to impress her and show that he is worthy of her as well as “help a lot of people”. The dishonest storytelling is how they have him do it, by crushing her and betraying the trust she has given him by choosing to run with him. Her taking an enormous leap of faith and him shoving it back in her face or actually hand in this case. And then simply walking away leaving a broken woman who has had her heart ripped out without a single word of concern for her feelings from him. THAT is the dishonest story because no way in hell does the Chuck of the 35 prior episodes walk away from her as if her feelings are irrelevant and she is not worthy if his concern. None of that was necessary for the spy story to develop. It was only necessary for the trip back to the empty OLI well. Prague wasn’t about Chuck becoming a spy, it was about tearing an epic romance to shreds to justify one more round of pointless LI’s and contrived relationship angst. His decision was in character, the way it was handled wasn’t and the very special nature of that epic romance never fully recovered from it.

      • atcDave says:

        MR its a business. Its their JOB to entertain. Failure to do so is a professional failure. Its a betrayal of the same sort as anytime a supplier fails their customer. Although most suppliers will make good on their failure in some way; repairs, replacements, apologies.

        And I don’t want to take any of that too far; because really, I don’t expect them to make good in the normal good business sort of way. No replacement episodes or re-edits are really expected. I’m mostly okay with the tacit admission of wrong by never repeating it. But it remains a screw up. I can let go of the ideas of restitution and apology. But I won’t let go of calling a mistake a mistake.

        And I do consider it a big disappointment whenever a show takes a turn I don’t care for. How big a disappointment is purely a function of how invested I am. When I dropped Covert Affairs last season it was barely a blip. Burn Notice has been a bigger disappointment, to the point of causing at least a little anger. Chuck was infuriating.

        Obviously I’m totally with Uplink on my reaction to Chuck walking away. I wanted to smack him. And since my connection to the show had initially channeled directly through that character, my anger with him meant anger with the show.

  7. Justin says:

    Alright. Sorry, atcDave, that it took me so long to post this time. My Internet wasn’t working.

    RECAP OF ALTERNATE 3×12: Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are waiting for Shaw’s takedown as Hunter Perry, a witness to and victim of Shaw’s corruption, is being held in a safe house while Beckman goes through the proper channels to have his story heard. Shaw is fooled into believing Chuck killed Hunter Perry. Shaw is abducted by the Ring. The Ring tells them about Perry being alive and shows him footage of Sarah being his wife’s killer. After Chuck and Sarah rescue Shaw from the Ring and takes him to the hospital, Shaw slips out to kill Hunter in his safe house and make it look like Sarah killed him, acting as a Ring double agent.

    Now I don’t have a lot going on for Alternate Other Guy since I haven’t worked it all out but here’s what I got:

    Beckman informs Chuck and Sarah of Hunter Perry’s murder and evidence being discovered of Sarah’s involvement in the death and that she may be working for the Ring. Chuck and Sarah deny the accusation. Beckman refuses to believe it either and thinks Shaw may have had a hand in what happened since it was more than just a coincidence that the witness against him was killed shortly after his rescue from the Ring. She also shares with Chuck and Sarah that Shaw has contacted her superiors, saying that he has gone undercover to protect himself from Sarah. He is claiming that during his captivity under the Ring, he has overheard that Sarah has been acting as their double agent and has been using her relationship with Chuck to manipulate him into becoming an asset for the Ring. Knowing what he knows, Shaw says he fears for his life and wants to remain underground until Sarah is dealt with. So Beckman’s superiors plan to bring Sarah into custody which they say for questioning but Beckman fears Sarah will be shipped off to an off-the-book facility for severe interrogation. Chuck refuses to have that happen to Sarah so he, Beckman, and Casey help her go on the lam until they can prove Sarah isn’t a Ring mole. Sarah carries a tracking device so Chuck will know where she is at all times. After being told about what is happening to Sarah, Morgan offers Chuck his help which he accepts. Ellie finds the situation with Sarah concerning and once again proof that Chuck shouldn’t a part of this dangerous life of espionage. Chuck isn’t in the mood for Ellie being mother hen to him. His mind is on clearing Sarah’s name and Chuck tells her that she can either help him or get out of the way. Taken aback, Ellie chooses to help Chuck the best she can.

    While living on the lam, Sarah is confronted by Shaw. Before joining the team, Shaw has done his research on Chuck, Sarah, and Casey so he can know how they think to know how to best handle them as a team. Shaw has used that knowledge to track Sarah down. Shaw and Sarah get into a badass fight but Shaw wins and shoots Sarah with a tranquilizer dart. Shaw finds the tracking device on Sarah and crushes it. Chuck is alerted by the tracking device suddenly going dead and together he, Casey, and Morgan go down to Sarah’s last location before something happened to the tracking device. They figure out that Shaw has Sarah and this fills Chuck with the fear that he may not able to get to Sarah in time to save her before Shaw does something to her. But Casey shakes him out of it and reminds him that Chuck is smarter than Shaw, even before he had the Intersect. He needs to put those brains to use. So Chuck does and uses his computer skills to track down where Shaw and Sarah are which is Paris. Morgan wants to go to Paris to help his buddy but Chuck tells him that he and Casey can handle it on their own and that Morgan should go back to Burbank. His sister should be looked after so she can be protected from the Ring who may try something while he is away. Devon would help with some of Ellie’s protection. Chuck wants Morgan to help with the rest. Morgan reluctantly does what his friend says and wish him good luck.

    Shaw has taken Sarah to Paris because this is where he proposed to his wife Eve. Because of its link to an important memory of his wife, Shaw feels this place would be fitting for Sarah’s judgment. Shaw has her confined in a underground black-ops torture chamber which he intends to use to get the truth out of Sarah. He wants to know for sure if Sarah killed his wife or if the Ring is playing games with him in an effort to turn him. Sarah denies what she is accused of and Shaw isn’t sure to believe her so he begins to torture him with agonizing tools. Chuck and Casey arrive in Paris and search for Shaw and Sarah. After being tortured enough for his peace of mind, Shaw has decided to believe Sarah which means that the Ring was manipulating him. But that doesn’t completely undermine the Ring’s case about the CIA being his enemy with the Hunter Perry incident and that means Shaw is going to let Sarah go. He is already in too deep. He is going to kill Sarah and tell his superiors that he did so in self-defense when Sarah tried to kill him on the Ring’s behalf. But before Shaw could kill Sarah, Chuck and Casey come bursting in. Long story short: Chuck fatally shoots Shaw when he made another attempt to kill Sarah, telling Chuck that it is for his own good as a spy to grow through pain like he has and that becoming him is Chuck’s inevitable fate in the spy world. Chuck is shaken by what he has done but uses Sarah’s wellbeing to carry him through the trauma of the experience.

    BTW Shaw stays dead. No resurrection.

    Chuck, Casey, and Sarah go somewhere to lay low where Sarah can recover from the injuries she suffered when being tortured. Despite the pain she is in, Sarah comforts Chuck at a time when he needs it after taking a life for the first time, something she NEVER wanted him to experience. Chuck and Sarah share a embrace with Chuck crying on her shoulder. Casey tells Beckman about Shaw’s death and Sarah’s rescue. But that doesn’t erase the mess Shaw has left behind and now Beckman’s superiors consider Chuck, Casey, and Sarah fugitives which they intend to apprehend. Beckman promises to do what she can to clear their names. Until then, they have to get used to being on the run for a while. Meanwhile, at Burbank, Ellie is worried about Chuck and finds it a bad sign that she hasn’t heard back from him yet. Morgan and Devon try to calm her down. Then Ellie’s phone rings. She answers it, thinking it is Chuck only to find it is the mysterious caller who told her episodes ago that his brother and Sarah were lying to her. Ellie tells the caller that she knows that he is involved with the Ring which Chuck believes to be the case and to leave her and her family alone. But the caller says he isn’t involved with the Ring. He works for Orion, her father.

    End of Episode 13

    Now my question to you, atcDave, is are you going do to alternative posts on the second half of Season 3 and would you be willing to do the same for Season 4 and Season 5?

    • atcDave says:

      Justin this sure has been a lot of fun. And you said you hadn’t much time for this one, wow. I Like this version a lot, and it even sets up a life on the run scenario. Good call keeping Shaw dead! And of course I love the idea of Orion making contact like this.

      I won’t keep doing alternates weekly, I’m back writing on the main posts and its too much work to do both every week. But they will show up every few weeks. Especially when we get to episodes that I know triggered a lot of “what if” sort of thinking, or launched a lot of fan fiction. You’ve definitely been THE most consistent and and enthusiastic contributor of alternates, and I sure look forward to seeing what else you may have up your sleeve. So don’t stop planning this, I want to see more!

      • Justin says:

        Just so you know, it is my plan to explore the psychological consequences killing Shaw will have on Chuck that will ripple for several episodes. I felt the show never did this justice. They made Chuck get over the act real quick after The Other Guy instead of giving it the profound impact it should have had on the character. What do you think about that?

      • atcDave says:

        I think its fair game. The show often went light on consequences, in part because it was a comedy. But a written story it is a far better vehicle for dealing with that sort of thing. Especially when it becomes a story of healing, and not just pointless destruction, such stories can be very rewarding.

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Other Guy (3.13) | Chuck This

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