Season Three Alternatives: 3.14-3.16

Just when you thought it was safe…

One of the things we all discovered while doing the weekly Alternatives discussions during the misery arc, was that we didn’t need to be unhappy with an episode or idea to come up with intriguing ways of re-writing it.  Should be obvious, right?  I mean, fan fiction exists because people love a show or character(s).  So I resolved then that this should be a recurring project.  After the jump, we’ll discuss things that might have made for interesting twists as S3.5 reaches the halfway point.

I’m not going to promise how often I’ll do these posts.  But they’ve been fun, and the discussion has been awesome.  So rest assured, we will get around to this periodically.  In fact, I’m thinking I need to go back at some point and do some dedicated S1 and S2 posts on this subject too.

I do expect this post will be a bit on the short side.  For starters, I’m pretty happy with episodes 3.14-3.16 which is the period this will cover.  The only real issue I have with the show in this period is Chuck is lying too much in Tooth. Apart from that, I guess I would prefer a more consistent theme of “Chuck and Sarah vs the world”.  I always think that’s the show at its strongest; and no doubt, that’s exactly how I wanted it to be.  We’re starting to see Morgan as Casey’s comic side-kick, which I also think is a lot of fun.  There will occasionally be problems with how Morgan is portrayed later, but I like the idea of Morgan being useful as an eccentric, but never in a conventional, or even expected sort of way.

I’m pretty indifferent towards the Intersect malfunction story.  I imagine it could have been more interesting, but I don’t really care for the Chuck’s lying, which seems to be the main issue of the malfunction in canon, so I’m left pretty ambivalent about it.

Fan Fiction has not provided a whole lot for this period of the show either.  Well, maybe a number of pure fluff pieces coinciding with Honeymooners; and the Turners and Dr. Dreyfus have been mentioned a number of times.  But little in the way substantive alternates.

Ironically, a Honeymooners AU has appeared recently.  Its “Chuck vs Le Renard” by 2old2write.  This is a more extended European holiday for Chuck and Sarah (and Casey and Morgan!).  Its been a lot of fun.  Currently its five chapters long and could be read in 90 minutes or so.  I don’t know how long it will get to be.

So, I told you this wouldn’t be very long.  I’m hoping there’s still interest in this sort of discussion among readers at this site.  So I’d love to hear any ideas folks might have had for different or extended stories from this period of the show.  I expect to do this again after Ring II, to talk about the rest of the arc, and between season stuff.

~ 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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120 Responses to Season Three Alternatives: 3.14-3.16

  1. joe says:

    Hum! Alternate Chuck universes. Oh, okay. Tweeks. I like it!

    Before I saw Mekenna and Josh together on screen, I would have tweeked this episode a bit to allow Anna Wu back into Morgan’s life. Really! I like her.

    But after seeing S4 and S5, naw. They did right to have Morgan move on the way he did. I may be the only one, but I like the way Morgan grew up throughout, even when he did a bit of backsliding.

    • atcDave says:

      I mostly agree Joe. I missed Anna, as I’ve mentioned before, I think she was much funnier than Alex. But Alex was a better fit for the later, more mature Morgan (funny, since I think she was like five years younger…)

      Although I love when fan fiction writers manage to work Anna into later Chuck stories; like MyNameIsJeffAndImLost did in “Chuck & Sarah vs Their Next Adventure.”

      • authorguy says:

        That’s an excellent story, one I wish he would continue at some point. A Good Man Goes To War also has Anna, in a stronger supporting role as a member of Chuck’s team.

      • atcDave says:

        Although Good Man Goes to War is also very early in the story right now. It sure would be something if he continued it into late S3!
        I guess I should mention you included a little more of Morgan and Anna’s falling out, as have a few others.

        I also really wish Jeff would uh, rediscover his muse. I miss his stuff!

      • authorguy says:

        I hate it when the writers use the old ploy of “Oh, she/he took off with some guy/girl” to dismiss a character when the actor leaves the story. They’d already introduced the element of NSA interest in her, why not use it? Just another example of the lack of proper use of existing elements. So much wasted material, I’m surprised these guys can get work! But they can write it in a week, and that’s what counts, I guess.

      • atcDave says:

        There sure could have been more interesting ways to get rid of Anna. But the way they did it made her particularly unappealing.

      • Thanks guys. It’s more of a time issue than a muse issue. I turned in my notice the day I posted my last chapter and started a new job three weeks later. Much better job, but my commute changed from 0 to 2 1/2 hours roundtrip. That’s why I lurk here occasionally now and don’t post.

        Meanwhile, the 7 remaining chapters for Their Next Adventure have expanded to ~16. I also have a 1-shot sequel to Linchpin half written (set after Castle’s Probable Cause) and a 6-7 chapter sequel to that outlined (set during Castle’s Target/Hunt). I’ll start posting when I know I won’t leave the stories hanging. The stories will come. I have to get these stories out of my head.

        Sorry, no more Anna. But there will be a bunch of other returning guest stars.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey Jeff good to hear you’re still around! You know we’d love to see whatever you can get to! But obviously, we can wait until you can do it the way you want to (no rushing on our account).

  2. authorguy says:

    “Fan Fiction has not provided a whole lot for this period of the show either. Well, maybe a number of pure fluff pieces coinciding with Honeymooners; and the Turners and Dr. Dreyfus have been mentioned a number of times. But little in the way substantive alternates.”

    Well, except mine. I thought Dr. Dreyfus was very underutilized. Most of the S3 alternates I’ve read went off its own way long before reaching this point. I think BillAtWork’s psychiatrist in Chuck vs Therapy was a good foreshadowing of Dreyfus.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Marc. A few of the full season AUs we covered way back continued to shadow canon to one degree or another. You all built your own variant Chuckiverses, that grew more “yours” as they unfolded. And you know I love a good AU, but I’m still stumped trying to think of any that actually spun off from this time. Now I admit, I was only reviewing my own favorites list for this post, there certainly could be more stories out there I either dismissed, or even just missed (!) for one reason or another.

      • authorguy says:

        I don’t know of any either, as I said, most of the ones I know abandoned canon before this point and struck out on their own. I don’t know of any fiction that mentions Dreyfus, much less the Turners. I found very little of value in the Role Models. Honeymooners is good for some comic fluff (but really who wants to mess with that episode). Dreyfus had some real strength to him. I’m surprised he isn’t used more, but I’m not the sort to come up with original Chuck stories so I don’t know how I’d use him in one. The drama that took place in S3 called for him to steer our favorite couple through it, but I’m not sure what else he’d be good for. Maybe Casey and Alex could get some family counseling from him, but they’re not CIA.. Better yet, since Ellie and Awesome were in Africa, why not send them to Zamibia, get in Ring trouble, and Team B has to save them. That would have been a much better tie-in to the B plot than they gave us.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve seen a lot of brief mentions of Dr Dreyfus; Angus used him a bit in Lost Years. And I’ve seen the Turners mentioned a few times, but I never remember them actually appearing in any stories.

        I think I would classify Role Models as fun fluff like Honeymooners, just not quite as well done.

  3. Justin says:

    RECAP OF AU Chuck 3×13: Shaw frames Sarah for the murder of Hunter Perry and for being a Ring double agent. Sarah is forced to flee with the help of Chuck and Casey. Shaw tracks Sarah down, tranquilizes her, and takes her to Paris to torture and interrogate her, to check if the Ring’s accusation of her killing his wife was true and the footage of the act was accurate. Chuck and Casey follow Shaw to Paris. Chuck fatally shoots Shaw before he could kill Sarah. The CIA consider Chuck, Casey, and Sarah all fugitives and is intent on apprehending them. Beckman promises to clear their names. Chuck breaks down in tears when Sarah tries to comfort him about killing Shaw. A worried Ellie receives a phone call from the mysterious caller who accused Chuck and Sarah of lying to her. She gives the caller a warning, thinking the caller is involved with the Ring her brother is fighting. The caller reveals that he isn’t involved with the Ring. He works for Stephen Bartowski aka Orion, Chuck and Ellie’s father.

    3×14: Chuck, Casey, and Sarah take a train ride out of Paris across Europe as they continue to be on the run from the CIA. Chuck seizes the opportunity of a train side to arrange a romantic getaway for himself and Sarah with Casey as the unfortunate third wheel. Casey and Sarah go along with it, seeing Chuck’s romantic attempt as a part of the PTSD he is going through over killing Shaw. Meanwhile, Beckman’s struggle to prove the innocence of her team is made difficult when Shaw is found dead, leaving Chuck, Sarah, and Casey charged with the murder of a CIA agent on top of the other crimes they are accused of. Because of the graveness of their charges and how much of a danger they are considered to be, the CIA has sent ruthless operative Decker to hunt them down. The Ring has also sent operatives to search for the trio in hopes of finally getting their hands on the Intersect they desire. Back in Burbank, Ellie has been having secret meetings with one of her father’s operatives. It is through the Orion operative that his father has been communicating with her. Stephen has given his daughter full access to his network of operatives and resources to track down Chuck, Sarah, and Casey before the CIA or one of their enemies get their hands on them. Stephen couldn’t meet with his daughter in person for two reasons. The first reason is that the CIA has Ellie, Devon, and Morgan under close surveillance in case Chuck tries to contact any of them. Stephen making an appearance in the midst of that would raise major red flags. The second reason is that a matter has risen which has occupied Stephen’s attention. It is because of that matter, Stephen never contacted his son about regaining the Intersect or working for the CIA again which he knew for months. When Ellie asked the Orion operative what is the nature of this matter his father is busy with, the operative tells her that he is under orders by Stephen not to reveal any details on the subject. But Stephen did want his daughter know the truth about what his brother did outside of the Buy More. He was fearful that Chuck’s involvement with the CIA will once again bring danger to his life and those close to him. So he used one of his operatives to stir Ellie to the direction of the truth. Stephen felt Ellie needed to know the truth to prepare herself for its dangers and to look after her brother with full knowledge of the facts. Ellie finds the power his father has given him to help her fugitive brother a strange thing to experience. But she preferred it than sitting on her hands, doing nothing. Morgan, on the other hand, doesn’t have that luxury. He grows increasingly restless working at the Buy More while his friend is in danger. Getting bits of news from Ellie doesn’t satisfy him. Morgan has been making bumbling attempts to access Castle to use what’s there to help Chuck in some way. But the CIA has placed Castle under automatic lockdown to prevent anyone from accessing the facility. Back at the train, a showdown develops between three parties there: Chuck/Sarah/Casey, Decker, and the Ring. Chuck and Sarah take Decker seriously as a threat when he makes someone like Casey squirm with fear. Decker warns Chuck, Sarah, and Casey that if they don’t come in willingly, things are going to get ugly for them real fast. By the end of the episode, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey make a daring escape from their enemies. But they realize that simply running isn’t going to solve their problems. They can’t wait for Beckman to convince her superiors of their innocence. They need to find concrete evidence proving that Sarah isn’t a Ring double agent and that Shaw was aligned with the Ring, especially when he murdered Perry. The only way they can get their hands on that evidence is by venturing into the heart of the Ring on their own without the support of the CIA. They are aware of the dangerous enormity of the task but it’s either this or always trying to be steps head of their pursuers possibly for the rest of their lives. The episode ends with Ellie receiving word from the Orion operative that footage has been found of Chuck, Sarah, and Casey at their most recent location before they went deep under the radar again following the train ride. Watching the footage gives Ellie a glimmer of hope that she and her brother will be reunited soon.

    atcDave, I’m working on the outlines of 3×15 and 3×16 which I will post once I completed them. But I’m not very high on ideas for the next two episodes. Could you care give me any that could help?

    • Justin says:

      I also want to add that in 3×14, Sarah is still recovering from the injuries she suffered being tortured by Shaw so she isn’t up to full strength yet. Being in a partially weakened state annoys her, thinking she should be fully able-bodied with danger lurking in every corner for her and her partners.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow Justin, this is all so well conceived. I love the deeper Ring threat, and the involvement of Decker here.

      I think to continue it forward, my first thought is we need to get the Turners involved. Perhaps they are met by chance (?) in their European semi-retirement. They may serve as bad role models, but otherwise be mostly a friendly diversion. Perhaps they ask for help in some personal or local problem (presumably involving Otto and a kitty cat). But somehow the question needs to be raised if they’re setting up Team B to be turned over to the CIA.
      Whenever Chuck finds proof the evidence against his team is falsified he will need the help of either Morgan or Ellie to get that info into the right hands.
      All while Orion is trying to get a governor to Chuck. This may be getting into Tooth stuff. But I’m not sure if you want Chuck having Intersect problems while on the run.

      • Justin says:

        I’m on the fence about Chuck having Intersect problems. But your other ideas are all along the ones I do have for the episodes.

  4. Justin says:

    3×15: Chuck, Sarah, and Casey visit Craig and Laura Turner, a married couple who used to be two of the most talented spies of the CIA. But they were forced into retirement because of a mission that went wrong years ago and are now living as civilians in Europe. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey need the former spies’ help to use their remaining connections to the CIA to get a copy of the agency’s files on the Ring. The files could be useful in narrowing down the possible location of the Ring’s power base. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey couldn’t ask Beckman for the files because she is already in hot water at the CIA as it is. In exchange for the files, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are willing to put in a good word for the Turners once they are back on good terms with the CIA. But the Turners want something else as payment for their assistance. They have a problem that require more help than the two of them could provide. Mr. Turner is a gambler and, because of his habit, he owes a lot of money to a feared loan shark named Otto. Otto publicly presents himself as a respectable businessman. He has a file on the people he does shady dealings with which is contained within a computer chip. The computer chip is hidden in the collar of Otto’s pet tiger who lives on the grounds of Otto’s mansion. It is the Turners’ plan to get the file and use it to blackmail Otto into forgetting the debt Mr. Turner owes. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey agree to help the Turners with their problem.

    The Turners give Chuck and Sarah a glimpse of their future if they were to leave the CIA after their on-the-run situation is resolved. The Turners obviously represent the flaws of retired life with their dysfunctional marriage and their dissatisfaction with the state of their lives. But the concept of being free of the CIA is something Chuck has been thinking about after everything that has happened with Shaw and all the complications his life with Sarah have gone through because of their ties with the CIA. But Sarah has never given the idea of retiring from the CIA any thought. She has been a CIA agent most of her life and is fearful of a life when she stops being one. The issue of leaving the CIA one day isn’t the only issue Chuck and Sarah have between them. Sarah and Casey have been noticing since last episode that Chuck has been suffering from post-traumatic insomnia. They suspect what’s keeping him awake are nightmares he is having of what he did to Shaw. Chuck is afraid to admit the seriousness of his struggles to Sarah and Casey because he doesn’t want to be viewed or treated as dead weight in the face of the Ring and the CIA. He believes he can work through the pain of his inner turmoil but Sarah and Casey have doubts about that and concerns for his mental/emotional health.

    The twist of the episode is that Mr. Turner doesn’t owe any money to Otto. The Turners are setting up the team to be turned over to the CIA as their meal ticket to return to active service. The Turners hate civilian life. They find it boring and draining while consider the spy life they used to have as being the complete opposite. They have been hungering for a chance to get back in the game and Chuck, Sarah, and Casey end up becoming that chance for them. But Chuck, Sarah, and Casey turn the tables on the Turners and then find themselves in a situation which they have to join forces with the former spies against Otto and his men. The episode ends with the Turners keeping their end of the bargain by giving the trio a copy of the Ring files they managed to get from a friend of a friend of theirs. With the files in their possession, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are one step closer to getting their lives back.

    • atcDave says:

      That works out well. Its funny how different you are from canon at this point, but how close you still keep a particular episode. That works out very well!

      • Justin says:

        Thanks, man. I try my best creating a balance of comedy and drama in the episode. Make take me a bit of a while to work out 3×16.

    • Justin says:

      3×16: Decker cruelly interrogates the Turners from last episode about their encounter with Chuck, Sarah, and Casey after tracking his targets down to this location. What he learns from them gives Decker an idea of how to resolve his hunt for the fugitives which he reacts with a smug smile.

      Meanwhile, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are going over the copied Ring files the Turners helped them get. Sarah slips sleeping pills into Chuck’s drink so he can get some needed sleep. While asleep, Chuck has one of his intense nightmares involving Shaw which most of the episode focuses on. The nightmare reveals some things about Chuck’s psychological and emotional state, and ends with a shocking revelation. The Ring infected Chuck with an advanced computer virus back in 3×14 without his knowledge. That virus has been slowly taking over Chuck’s mind through the Intersect, producing an alternate personality loyal to the Ring and absent of the moral reservations Chuck have. The alternate personality has been using Chuck’s post-traumatic nightmares to increase his mental control. Evil Chuck reveals all of this to Chuck when assuming the form of Shaw in Chuck’s nightmare because he is assured that this latest nightmare has made his control complete. When Sarah wakes Chuck up by the end of the episode to tell him that she and Casey found something to help their cause, it’s Evil Chuck who wakes up in control of Chuck’s body. But he fools Sarah into thinking he’s the same, old Chuck Sarah knows and loves.

      The Morgan-Anna storyline of the original 3×16 remain the same.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, keeping Decker pretty evil there with torturing the old folks!

        The mind control theme is the first step you’ve taken I don’t really care for. I get that its sort an obvious next step from the Intersect, but it just always rubs me wrong. But at least I trust it will be resolved quickly!

      • Justin says:

        I promise, atcDave, the mind control storyline won’t last long and the reason why I’m doing this storyline because I wanted the Ring to keep on being a personal threat to Chuck and the team. It’s the same reason why I have Decker torture the Turners in the beginning of the episode. So he can keep on being a threat to the characters and not lose steam.

  5. BillAtWork says:

    For me anyway, fanfiction was my way of telling the stories that I was frustrated that the show should have but didn’t tell. I’m still convinced that they spent far to much time on WT/WT. Even S4 was WT/WT get engaged then WT/WT get married. S5 was WT/WT get back from Sarah’s lost memories. For some reason, they were terrified of putting them totally together. I think that was a fatal mistake. At the end of S2, the story begged for them to be together. Anything else felt manipulative. They never seemed willing to write the story of C/S firmly together, and two flawed people completing each other and forming a sum of the parts team that was invincible. That was alway the theme that appealed to me.

    So there really isn’t anything in S3 that would inspire me to build something off of. In early S3, I didn’t buy the entire premise. And in later S3, it was going pretty much like I wanted.

    • Jason says:

      Yes Bill – that’s exactly how I see the show, it ‘could’ have been the best thing EVER done on TV. That’s why I rail on them so hard, not because of what it was, as much as for the opportunity lost.

      You wrote – “For me anyway, fanfiction was my way of telling the stories that I was frustrated that the show should have but didn’t tell. I’m still convinced that they spent far to much time on WT/WT. Even S4 was WT/WT get engaged then WT/WT get married. S5 was WT/WT get back from Sarah’s lost memories. For some reason, they were terrified of putting them totally together. I think that was a fatal mistake. At the end of S2, the story begged for them to be together. Anything else felt manipulative. They never seemed willing to write the story of C/S firmly together, and two flawed people completing each other and forming a sum of the parts team that was invincible. That was alway the theme that appealed to me.”

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m always careful to temper my criticism of Chris Fedak. Because I don’t have a clue what it takes to produce an hour long show for 5 seasons. There were probably pressures from the studio, the network, the availibilty of actors, etc that we don’t know about. So he gets some slck from me. But I have to admit that I wince at some of the pure sloppyness in the storytelling. That’s why Chuck doesn’t stand up to rewatching very well. It’s hard to rewatch Dream Job (which was dramatic and powerful at the time) without thinking why didn’t Orion just go to his batcave and pull out his PSP that took away the Intersect?

        It was simply bad storytelling.

    • You’ve just pointed out everything that I did when making nine2five, B@W. I only really changed one story element, putting Chuck and Sarah together after S2 but before the start of my version of S3. Everything else was just the logic of that story, using elements that already existed, without those constraints he may have been under in the TV realm. I believe the pressures from the studio involved things like keeping the Buy More after its sell-by date, and I jettisoned it because the story logic allowed me to. I don’t think any part of S3 that required me to accept them as being unmarried, much less estranged, made much sense, and certainly it was a lot harder to see the sense it did make.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, you know I agree 100% about S3 feeling manipulative and dishonest. And I also agree it led to the premature demise of the show; the ugliness of S3 scared off those fans who would have most enjoyed S4. And I remain convinced that if 3.01 had looked more like Honeymooners we would have kept more of those viewers who showed up for premier night, we would have had a more energized fan base, and we’d now be discussing what S7 might bring.
      But all that said, I am willing to cut a lot of slack from S3.5 on. Even though I can still nitpick a lot of details, I feel like they pretty much delivered the show I wanted to see. The few issues I have with the later seasons are clearly in areas where my vision remains slightly different from the show runner’s. Chuck and Sarah vs the world is absolutely my favorite part of the show, and they could never go wrong with that; so “more, more, more” is all I can say about that part. They clearly wanted to keep it more “Chuck’s story” to the end, just in terms of mostly seeing the world through his eyes. I would have preferred more Sarah-centric episodes and scenes, and a lot more just Chuck and Sarah scenes. I was never nearly as enamored of Morgan or the bro-mance as the writers were; I would have been fine with (much) less screen time for both. But to be clear, I don’t hate Morgan, and I’m fine with him as the comic side-kick. I also would have liked more Ellie (especially Ellie/Sarah and Ellie in the spy world) , I think they fumbled with keeping her out of the loop in S4. That was another silly contrivance, fully as silly as the S3 Chuck/Sarah story, but fortunately less damaging because I was so much less invested in Ellie. There were certainly a few logical/continuity type issues, especially in the last couple seasons; but nothing that looked grossly out of line with normal television writing to me. And I think the budget cuts really hurt in this regard, loosing both time and staff for fixing some of those holes.
      But I do want to emphasize again those complaints are fairly small stuff. I really thought Chuck and Sarah together, especially in S4/early S5 was extremely satisfying to see, well written and tons of fun. I am mostly okay with how they drew out the various relationship milestones, although a few seemed silly (unpacking as separate from moving in, and the engagement should have happened sooner, like maybe in Leftovers); but overall I think the show was a lot of fun once Chuck and Sarah were together. It is such a rare thing to see something like that happen in any show (usually there’s little change from the original format, unless something is forced by cast comings and goings), and I will always be thankful for the very special thing Chuck did with its characters and story.

      • uplink2 says:

        Right there with ya. After getting rid of the god awful OLI’s in season 3 and much less Shaw period, the biggest change I would have liked was more Ellie, much more Ellie and less Morgan and any of the B and C plots. She was without a doubt the most under utilized character on the show. Part of that I believe, and I may take some heat for this, is that I think they had difficulty in writing strong female characters at times. The damage they did to Sarah too many times, the under utilization of the brilliant female Bartowski and the total lack of a strong female villain except for the weakly written and conceived Vivian and single episode throwaways. Why couldn’t Quinn have been female? Why couldn’t Shaw? In fact that would have been a better story watching a female manipulate Chuck in front of Sarah. Why try to redeem Jill? Why not make her truly evil and an active Fulcrum recruit who dumped Chuck when he got washed out at Stanford and went after Bryce because he was the best CIA recruit they had at Stanford? I would guess that an agency like Fulcrum had honey traps for recruits in College looking at the best prospects for agents.

        As far as Morgan and the bromance goes I think Fedak identifies with Morgan and I think he is much more involved with him than than audience is. Look at FF and Morgan is used much much less than he is in canon.

      • atcDave says:

        Morgan in fan fiction is funny. So many stories absolutely never mention him. To throw out one of my made up statistics, I would guess 70+% of ff never gives Morgan more than a paragraph or two. I think you’re exactly right about CF relating to Morgan though, and there may be a buddy factor between him and Gomez.

        I don’t know that I really needed a female villain, but I do agree VV was the weakest arc villain. And it’s funny how Jill got her redemption moment. The way Gravitron ended, I think I would have prefered if instead of redemption, Chuck’s eyes had been opened to how corrupt she was. So when are you working Jill into LLL?

      • joe says:

        @Uplink

        I may take some heat for this, is that I think they had difficulty in writing strong female characters at times. The damage they did to Sarah too many times, the under utilization of the brilliant female Bartowski and the total lack of a strong female villain except for the weakly written and conceived Vivian and single episode throwaways. Why couldn’t Quinn have been female? Why couldn’t Shaw? In fact that would have been a better story watching a female manipulate Chuck in front of Sarah.

        I’m surprised that you can say they had difficulty with female characters, Uplink, unless I *really* emphasize the “at times” part. I mean, Ellie and especially Sarah are two of the strongest female characters I’ve seen on TV. Kate Becket comes close, give or take on a given episode (she’s brittle sometimes). I chalk it up to the one idea that’s classic and rampant in the entertainment industry – “Always leave them wanting more.” They certainly did with Ellie and Sarah.

        As for your other questions; Quinn a female? [For Ernie’s benefit – INCOMING!] I vote no, not after Lady Volkoff. Shaw a female? That would be more of a nemesis for Sarah, not Chuck, so again I vote no. And didn’t Mama B do precisely what you think the missing villain should have done – manipulate Chuck?

        That’s what I saw, anyway.

      • Jason says:

        Always leave them wanting more, I couldn’t agree more, except …. I wish that notion had been applied to Morgan, not Sarah and Ellie. Shaw too, except in his case, I thought he wore out his welcome when he flipped his cigarette lighter. That was perfect, all other things Shaw, gruesome misery.

      • Jason says:

        After s1/s2 (and maybe even b4), I find it hard to say any character was in or out of character, because nobody held true to form from season to season, arc to arc, ep to ep, or even scene to scene. The whole bunch was all over the map, including Chuck and Sarah, men and woman, dramatic and comic characters. I thought maybe the most striking reversal was right around this ep, when suddenly Morgan became Chuck, and Chuck alternately was either Morgan or Sarah.

      • BillAtWork says:

        One of the review comments I often got was that such and such character was OOC. I always smiled when I read that. Because there isn’t much that you could write where you couldn’t point to the show someplace and see that character acting in a way that formerly would have been ooc for them (Sarah telling Shaw her real name? It’s the last, the very last thing that Agent Walker would have done.)

        Lot’s of people (well, more than one, lol) commented on Long Brick Road that Sarah would never point her gun at Ellie. Those comments bothered BrickRoad so much that she added some stuff to the next chapter to explain it,. But those people seem to forget that scene was basically lifted from Hard Salami when Sarah pointed her gun at Chuck.

        Characters like Ellie don’t have a character. We simply don’t know enough about them to predict how they would react is some fictional siruation.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Dave, Jill in LL&L? TBH it hasn’t even entered my mind but maybe. There will be another character showing up soon that I hope works the way I want it to if I could only get some time to write 31. Only 2k into it so far.

        @Joe, I agree they were strong females but they always kept them back just that little bit I didn’t want them to. Let them be free to be the real strong females they truly were and on a totally equal footing. Sarah and Ellie both became plot devices for Chuck’s character and I’d have liked to see them more the central focus especially Sarah. I know the show is called Chuck but for me at least I’d be even more invested, if possible, in the show called Sarah.

        As far as Shaw a female I think it’s a great idea. If they were going to go back to that dried up OLI well, why did they have to pick clones of the characters they already used? Isn’t another female spy a better choice for an OLI for Chuck than Lou 2.0? Or isn’t another civilian a better choice for Sarah than the great (pathetic) spy of Shaw? Aren’t those the lessons that might have actually been worthwhile? Jealous Sarah reacting to a female spy who was seducing Chuck to manipulate him? Or Chuck seeing Sarah run to the real life he took away from her when he betrayed her? Those are far more interesting stories to me than the crap we got with Hannah and Shaw. Those could have had some honest drama and not the contrived angst they gave us. I know the OLI’s were a terribly failed decision but what made them even worse was that they were clones of what they had already done and very poorly executed clones at that. It made them even more pointless. Nothing new was learned from either.

      • authorguy says:

        Thank you for your support, even if it is only partial.

      • atcDave says:

        Ultimately fictional characters will do exactly what they’re written to do…

        I always try to be careful about OOC claims. The canon characters were literally written by committee, and often acted in bizarre ways to fit story demands. Not to say we can’t come to know them, or have some sense of what their character is. But I think we always need to give some benefit of the doubt to writers, both professional and amateur. And really, people ARE complex. Real people even sometimes act OOC…
        So I usually try to present things in the “character as I understand it ” sense. And I’m fine with that, more or less. But while it may make me “generous” in interpreting the occasional odd behavior; it leaves me little patience for things that fail me as entertainment. I have to write off huge chunks of S3 as “not the character I knew from the first two seasons.”

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink you know I was kidding about Jill!

      • ArmtSFC says:

        Uplink and Dave, i agree about Morgan. i couldn’t stand him in any way shape or form. so i leave him out or kill him off. all you really need to do is look back at this blog during the summer before season 5. a majority of the posters here were upset if not mad as heck over Morgansect. if he was a popular character i don’t believe the masses would have been as upset. plus many folks wrote in just where he fit in to the scale and most had him way down the list. granted these are just my opinions but i feel that have some merit.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I do always mean to be careful about Morgan though. First of all, he clearly was a big part of the original show concept. Going back to the very beginning of S1, his part was often quite large. So its not like we can claim he was a concept change like Chuck the S3 jerk was. The other thing is, and I think this is huge, Morgan always seems to be more popular with the more casual viewers I knew. His humor and eccentricities played well with the bulk of the audience. I don’t believe he was ever a hugely favorite part like Charah, but most folks I know liked laughing along with his antics.
        I think its mainly among us more serious viewers that Morgan was less popular. And none of the more casual viewers I spoke with were even a little concerned about Morgansect. That was all on us.
        So I really think its a mistake to say Morgan should have been done away with. Just because you or I wouldn’t have missed him, doesn’t mean the show would have been better without him.
        Now I do wish, as Chuck had grown closer to Sarah, that Morgan would have faded more into the background. Leave his comic sidekick function, but get rid of his stupid sage advice, or prolonged slapstick schtick.
        Even though I would have been happy if Morgan never came back from Hawaii; for many, many viewers, that just wouldn’t be Chuck anymore. And I’m okay with that. The bearded troll was often good for a laugh.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave while i agree with you on that point, i was responding to the FF bit. i don’t believe many casual viewers are writing it. as was discussed people write FF to change or improve what they saw on screen. i also don’t believe morgan never coming back would have hurt the show as much as S-3 did in general.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah, I agree with that Army. Morgan is just such an interesting character to me though, because of that split. Just how little most of us think of him, while more casual viewers often like him a lot.
        I actually do appreciate ff writers who manage to use him effectively, as comic relief. But it doesn’t happen often!

      • Jason says:

        One reason for the casual fan liking Morgan thing, as well as liking Morgan in general, linked to around this time in the show (3.14 thru 3.16) and through the end of the show, with the exception of the Morgansect arc, is that Morgan got really good writing, the type of writing that the more ardent fans wanted to see go to Chuck (smartest guy in the room type writing). Also, for me, I thought Casey was the glue that held the show’s darker edge together, once he became the punch line for Morgan’s sappiness, the show lost some of its dramatic gravitas. The only character that got better as Morgan evolved was Sarah, and around Sarah, Morgan was the old Morgan, clueless.

      • atcDave says:

        Definitely some interesting stuff there Jason. I do agree about Casey and the show’s dark side. Although I think there’s a significant middle period for him too; from about Beefcake when he more clearly starts to be buddies with Chuck, until Honeymooners when he’s first really paired with Morgan. He’s still sort of a heavy, but he’s not so menacing where Chuck is concerned anymore.
        And you know I would definitely agree about Sarah seeing the most growth in the last couple seasons. It sure did make for some interesting Sarah/Morgan scenes. I just wish Morgan had remained comic relief and they didn’t try to do too much more with him. Oh well, to me it wasn’t a huge thing, just one of those little annoyances.

      • BillAtWork says:

        We talked about C/S becomming different characters in S3. Well nobody became more different than Morgan. In S1 and S2 he wasn’t borderline pathetic. He was completely pathetic. He was almost 30 and rode his bicycle to work. They took great pains to show him as without any life skills. He wasn’t a nerd herder, he was a green shirt. He had a massive crush on Ellie who avoided him much like you would poison ivy. His only quality was his loyality to Chuck. And even that got in the way. He was the very, very last person you would depend on in a crisis.

        Sometime in S3, Morgan became some master of technology. In Ring II he was the one who tapped into the hotel survelience. He became a fairly competent spy. He actually became Chuck.

        I like S3 Morgan better. But let’s face it. S1 Morgan didn’t have the capacity to grow into what became S3 Morgan. It’s a different character. And the bromance stuff always frustrated me. Because I wasn’t interested in it, and it took time away from the story that I was interested in.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with all of that Bill. It is funny, and its been mentioned before, for so many of us, Chuck/Morgan was the least interesting relationship on the show.

  6. BillAtWork says:

    Part of the problem with S3, is that it all hinges on accepting one thing… Chuck’s actions in Prague. And I simply can’t accept that. If Prague doesn’t happen, almost none of S3 makes sense.

    But let’s assume for the sake of argument that Chuck did what he did in Prague. I would have written S3 as Sarah struggling with trust. She overcame her barriers and better judgement, fell in love, and got her heart smashed into a million pieces for her trouble.

    So the conflict should never have been over choosing Chuck or Shaw. Nobody bought that. The conflict should have been could Sarah ever trust Chuck with her heart again? Or was she better off in a loveless relationship with her partner, who she didn’t love, but also couldn’t devastate her?

    So instead of Chuck being an unlikeable dick in the middle part of the season, I would have had a series of events highlighting his sweetness and having Sarah falling for him all over again… but being afraid of that.

    So the other guy would have never been Shaw. That was stupid. The other guy would have been the other side of Chuck. The spy wannabe who hurt her. Can she risk being devastated again?

    That should have been Sarah’s conflict.

    • authorguy says:

      The only episode of S3 that I didn’t revise in my series was Pink Slip, since the story started out with them happily married. I simply ignore it in favor of setting up the basics of my story, which really starts with Three Words. The story of S3 has almost nothing to do with the plot of S3. Many of the events were almost deliberately designed to cover up what was really going on, such as the use of Shaw and Hannah, which looks like a love quadrilateral on the surface but is in fact something quite different. The only way to make sense of S3 was to dump Pink Slip, and rearrange the characters so the plot worked with the story instead of against it. There were really very few flaws to S3 other than those. The whole thing practically wrote itself, I could barely keep up.

    • joe says:

      So the conflict should never have been over choosing Chuck or Shaw.

      Yeah, that’s the one that most everyone has a hard time with. My alternate, which I must admit, gets me going in circles, is that the alternative is, was and always will be Bryce. I can’t help but believe that he only died because Baumer (Bomer. Sorry. Baumer was as old boss of mine – “force of habitual”) left the show.

      Bryce as a final threat to Chuck and Sarah’s romance always made the most sense (but as an aside, I also think the fans would have complained that it was just another go-round of Chuck and Jill’s story). But it changes everything. Bryce would not have become the big-baddy of S3 and my favorite aspect of S3.5, Zombie-Insane-Shaw taking over the entire CIA, doesn’t happen. Or, if it does, it happens with a new character, somebody like Quinn or Decker. That feels smaller somehow.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I do agree Bryce is a better candidate for a triangle romance, at least Sarah looks like less of a moron. But I think as entertainment it hardly matters; I wouldn’t have accepted any triangle post-Colonel. I think it destroys the whole, awesome, S2 Orion arc to go there at all. Bryce is better in that the legacy would have been less damaging, but I still would have hated it.

      • joe says:

        Agreed. But now I’m wondering… What if S3 had progressed with Bryce getting the Intersect in the Intersect Room we saw at the end of The Ring? S3 progresses with it making him “go Volkoff” after a time of romancing Sarah. It would be strong, but then I’d never know how good Dalton was as a rogue Intersect.

        Worse, I don’t know what they might have come up with after Bryce had taken both the Shaw and Volkoff plots. I could see Mary and Stephen have different (but equivalent) roles in saving their son, though.

      • atcDave says:

        I may be missing something here Joe, what are you thinking Chuck does if Bryce gets the Intersect?

        I’d always assumed Chuck still made the download, possibly because Bryce is seriously injured in the shootout. But if Chuck is cut out entirely, does he go back and take the analyst job? In some ways I might really like that; especially if he still wins Sarah without the Intersect, or even being an agent.
        But I doubt that’s a direction they ever would have gone. Pity, the love story seems stronger to me of Chuck and Sarah are together BEFORE Chuck becomes an agent. Of course, that’s what I assumed had happened in Colonel/Ring, until the reset decided he wasn’t good enough as a nerd, and had to become a super-spy first.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Joe.

        Except they played the Bryce card in Ring. Sarah chose Chuck. I’m with Dave and Uplink. Any triangle would have felt manipulative and quickly led to the WT/WT fatique that ultimately killed the show.

        And it really wasn’t even a triangle. Chuck wasn’t pursuing Sarah for most the middle part of the season.

        Maybe a true triangle might have worked. Shaw and Chuck both actively pursuing Sarah who is basically rejecting both. If it was well done (hard to imagine with Routh) it would have allowed for Sarah’s conflict to still be can she trust Chuck again or is she better just having a partner? That would be Sarah’s “Other Guy” decision.

        A jealous Shaw seeking revenge for having lost makes more sense than Sarah having killed his wife (who came up with a ‘Red Test’, lol) anyway.

      • joe says:

        Joe, what are you thinking Chuck does if Bryce gets the Intersect?

        Maybe nothing. Over the summer, Sarah and Bryce go to Omaha and Chuck is stuck in Burbank at the Buy More. Then it goes bad when Bryce starts to act weird and only Sarah notices. She goes to find Chuck at the start of S3 to enlist his help.

        Their mission is to save Bryce the way Stephen and Mary tried to save Hartley (so yes, it’s the same story with different characters).

      • uplink2 says:

        But here’s the problem with that story. If Bryce successfully gets the Intersect, i.e. no Ring agents waiting to kill/capture him, Sarah stays with Chuck and finishes “I don’t want to save the world, I want a real life…. a real life with you“. I just don’t see how you get to Omaha with Sarah and Bryce. She wasn’t leaving and Bryce knew it. For me the only way for Bryce to be involved is that he survives his injuries and is brought in to “mentor” Chuck in being a spy as he is the only person outside Team Intersect that works for the US that is read in to the Intersect and Chuck being the one who has it. So he becomes the obvious choice. If they had to have their stupid triangle then Bryce is so injured that he can no longer be a field agent but becomes a trainer or gets promoted to a desk job and Sarah thinks maybe she can have some of that normal life with Bryce after Chuck betrays her. But she quickly realizes that she simply doesn’t love him but is still in love with Chuck. Maybe even have Bryce see it and finally do the honorable thing and push her to Chuck because they love each other and need each other.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree. I can see how it would be attractive, but I don’t see any way for it to be a Bryce triangle. For one thing that was the theme in Ring. Sarah made her decision. And it wasn’t a decision between Bryce and Chuck. She had already made that decision in S1. It was much more powerful than that. It was a decision between Chuck and duty. How does Agent Walker ignore her new assignment and stay with now-civilian Chuck Bartowski? She couldn’t, right? It was a repudiation of her being in the CIA. That was reinforced in Pink Slip. She didn’t ask Chuck to become her partner. She asked him to run with her. That’s what makes Chuck’s actions in Prague even more rediculous. The girl that he loves is rejecting the only life she’s ever known to be with him. And he breaks her heart? To become a spy? To become what he’s spent the first 2 seasons crying that he didn’t want to be?

        Pink Slip wasn’t a continuation of the S1 and S2 story. It was the introduction of two brand new characters, ones that we had never seen before and quickly decided we didn’t like. And all to wrangle one more season of UST. But they went to the well once to often and it cost them several seasons.

      • joe says:

        Actually, Uplink, I was thinking that Sarah stays a bit more firm to her decision (at the beginning of The Ring) to go with Bryce. Even though she indicates to Chuck that she isn’t happy about leaving him and Burbank, she never nods “no” on the beach, mostly for the reasons we were actually given – Chuck surrendered to his insecurities and let her go.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Joe’s version leads to a miserable S2 finale. I’m glad it didn’t play out that way. Uplink’s version still leads to a miserable S3, but as I’ve said before, at least in the end Sarah looks like less of a complete idiot.

        I think the best way for S3 to play out is with a totally bogus triangle; with Chuck and Sarah clearly in love, but due to increased Intersect security, no clear way to be together. Then any triangles are clearly of the unwanted suitor type. And THAT could be played completely for laughs. Much better show. And Bryce still would be better than Shaw; I’m not so sure about him ever pushing Sarah towards Chuck, I don’t like the idea of her needing that, but Bryce slowly coming to terms with the idea of loosing the girl to Chuck could be entertaining.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Sarah clearly rejected Bryce several times. In Nemesis, in Breakup, In Ring. And Bryce even admitted in Ring that she was in love with someone else (it sucks to be me). I don’t see another round of that being satisfying at all.

        I still can’t come to any other conclusion but that the only honest story would have them together after Ring. And if you were determined to keep them apart, you’d have to introduce some outside force. Both understanding that they were going to be together someday, but it just wasn’t possible right now, could have been satisfying. And if you wanted to have Shaw pursuing her, that would work. It would even generate some organic angst. As long as he constantly struck out. That might have been entertaining.

        But we would always know that the end game for both was for them to be together as soon as possible.

      • joe says:

        Heh. I agree – that ending would have been miserable. The best thing about The Ring is the hope it *does* give – Chuck with the Intersect 2.0, Sarah more intense than ever and that “To Be Continued…” message. With Bryce coming between C&S that early, the summer would have been more miserable than it was.

        Added” Did I say summer? That original schedule would have put off S3 until March, almost 11 months later! Ugly.

      • atcDave says:

        I remember our discussions when we thought Ring might be the end. I really thought Chuck and Sarah had ended in a pretty good way; obviously they’d have some talking to do, but Chuck had finally, fully entered into Sarah’s world, which meant they both could have it all. I guess that is the decision they finally reached (in Honeymooners!), but it sure took a lot longer than I ever would have guessed.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think if Bomer had continued with the show, Sarah’s rejection of Bryce in Ring would have been much less clear. But you’re right, she still did reject him two previous times. As a serious triangle, the situation was played out. But Bryce still could have played on Chuck’s insecurities, especially if Chuck and Sarah were unable to demonstrative.
        And I still don’t find any of these scenarios completely appealing, just better than what we saw.

      • joe says:

        But Sarah clearly rejected Bryce several times.

        This is true, Bill. But what happened in The Ring is a little different. I’ve been thinking of it this way – Chuck started to propose, and it sounded like a marriage proposal at first. He came up short. Then Sarah told him she was leaving in the morning with Bryce. Was that a test? Chuck’s response was to say she and Bryce were meant to go off to save the world. He failed the test.

        For my money, Sarah didn’t reject Bryce so much in S1 & S2 as she was testing and only hoping that Chuck would step forward.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, how could it have been a test? Chuck had no way to ‘step up’ in S1 or S2. He kept asking and she always said that as long as she was his handler, it wouldn’t be professional. In First Date they had the prospect of being peers and were on the way to a real romance. The second that the Intersect was destroyed, she shot him down.

        It is was a test, it was a cruel one with no way to pass.

        I’m not sure what we would have expected Chuck’s reaction in Ring to be. She went from “It is real’ to “I’m leaving with Bryce tomorrow” in almost the same breath.

        They played the Bryce card several times, always with the same result. Bryce would look like a threat, Sarah would make it clear (to us anyway) that she was choosing Chuck, and they would be back to status quo.

      • atcDave says:

        I never saw it as a test. I don’t believe there was any real thought involved at all. She just fell back on what she always did, she was following orders. She was possibly still disoriented by Chuck’s rejection of Beckman’s job offer, that had to be a personal blow for her.
        At any rate, I think she regretted her choice immediately, and changed her mind within a couple hours.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree and if her regretting that decision wasn’t almost immediate she certainly had changed her mind when she saw Chuck give away the financial reward for his efforts to make his sister happy. THAT was so Chuck and it made her fall even harder. It’s similar to what he did in Hero and why it proved to her he hadn’t been changed.

        But I agree that any trip back to the OLI was doomed to failure. You simply couldn’t go back to false drama that had already been resolved. It all screamed of contrivance and they knew it but still went head long into the breach. IMO the secret but acknowledged, at least to Chuck and Sarah, romance was the only story that made sense and was believable. Bryce would have been better but still were we supposed to accept she would chose him after choosing Chuck three times earlier?

        You guys mentioned the optimistic aspect to Ring and I agree and that is why Pink Slip was so devastating to me. I’d waited 8 months for that optimism to be realized and we simply never got the show I was expecting and hoping for. It was instead contrived and manipulative for no honest reason other than another round of UST and stunt casting. So as in all of these Alternative discussions I have to come back with the only believable and honest season 3 had to completely throw out the OLI’s. No matter who or what they were I would have rejected it as dishonest. The fact that their stunt casting gave us an absolutely horrible, phoney and chemistry lacking made it even worse. I mean outside of a very few folks did anyone actually believe Sarah/Shaw worked on any level?

      • joe says:

        Maybe test isn’t the right word. But when Chuck started that proposal and then turned it into a vacation, it looked to me like Sarah was disappointed. I can’t help but think that she decided to go off with Bryce at that moment, not sooner. Then Chuck passively acquiesced.

        I won’t defend this with my dying breath, but I think it’s possible that if Chuck had said something like “Don’t go with Bryce – Come with me.” just then, said something that actively indicated his intentions, she would have said yes.

        As it is, she changed her mind about Bryce later, but passively allowed herself to be interrupted by Stephen just at the moment when she was about to tell Chuck actively what she wanted to do.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with most of that Joe. It would have been interesting if Chuck had said what we though he was going to…

      • Jason says:

        ambiguity, even in season 2, the most simple of things, what either Chuck or Sarah thought about each other, or Sarah about Bryce, few know more about the show than you all, yet, as many opinions as they are commentators.

        The show wrung its hands with each scene, taking care to not say anything at all. That’s why when the show really did come out of the closet and state truth – Colonel, other guy, Honeymooners, Phase 3 … that those scenes were so popular. Or even in the ep I disliked so much, part of the beauty of Beard was Chuck told the truth, and saw the truth, and communicated his position to the viewers, in no uncertain terms.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ambiguity is great but only up to a point. Then as we saw in season 3 it begins to scream contrivance.

        That’s what I wanted from the show all along, honest story telling. For me at least that honest story telling ended with Pink Slip. Ambiguity can be honest story telling as we saw through mush of seasons 1 and 2 but there was nothing ambiguous about what happened in that motel room and “It is Real” in Colonel. It was completely honest. That’s why the contrivance of Prague feels so dishonest and that feeling of being manipulated never really goes away after that.

      • joe says:

        honest story telling

        You’ve used that phase a lot, Uplink. But I’m very unsure of what you mean.

        At first I thought that you meant true to life, but that can’t be the case here. Truth was stretched when Chuck hid from his own party! Of course, it became taffy when he downloaded the Intersect.

        If you mean that the characters should remain true to their original premise and act accordingly, well, yes, that’s true. But at the same time, no good story is told where the characters are always predicable and offer no surprises. Even real human beings are full of surprises, which is what makes us interesting, I suppose.

        Do you mean that the story line got perverted by outside factors, like the financial needs or for stunt casting or time constraints? I could agree with that, recognizing that those factors are never completely eliminated. Sadly, the way the business is run, I’m sure you’d agree that they can’t even be mostly eliminated (so I still have a hard time faulting anyone but NBC-U and Comcast and whomever the studio big-wigs were for that one). Regardless, yes, it’s good when a story doesn’t feel like it’s manipulating you. But I feel much more manipulated by commercials that show abused and sad-eyed puppies and by movies with a clear (and clearly ridiculous) political agenda (*cough*MichaelMoore*cough*).

        I know I’m inviting you to explain when you think you have already, but I’m not exactly seeing anything that can be called universal. Your POV is certainly legitimate, but I don’t see a guideline to look for beyond “I don’t like it!”

      • BillAtWork says:

        Honest story telling. Okay, I’m not Uplink, but I use the phrase more than most. And here is what I mean by it. They took great pains in S1 and S2 to portray Chuck as a reluctant spy. All he ever talked about was “getting this thing out of my head and living the life I want… With the girl that I love.” They told us a star crossed love story. He loved her. And she loved him. She was just prevented from admitting it. “I love Chuck Bartowski and I don’t know what to do about it.” I think that we all agree that the love story was coming to a happy conclusion in Colonel and Ring. Sarah had overcome her issues and was now willing to risk her standing as a CIA Agent to be with him. But that wouldn’t do. In television, you never put the leads together. Never, ever. So they had Chuck change in an instant from someone who wanted rid of the Intersect so he could be with Sarah, into someone who wanted to be a spy so badly that he stood on that train platform and cruely destroyed her. Their intent was obvious. Not to tell a story, but to keep WT/WT going damm the consequences. It wasn’t honest. Pink Slip wasn’t characters growing. It was two different characters to avoid theobvious.

        That’s not honest storytelling.

      • joe says:

        Hum. I do see what you mean with that, Bill. There was a story that could have been wrapped up with Colonel, but there were so many loose ends left that it would have needed something different and beyond The Ring to bring to a conclusion properly. For instance, we really did have nothing about Mary up until that point, and she certainly had been brought in every time Chuck mentions her without saying anything. Still, it could have ended soon.

        So I agree that Pink Slip and Prague was not even an attempt at a conclusion. It was obviously leading us into new complexities in an attempt to continue a story, if not THE story. But I’m not sure that we really should have been done with Chuck and Sarah’s romance by Colonel.

        Chuck changed his mind – you’re right about that. But not about Sarah. It was about what he wanted to do with his future, about not being a non-entity in the Buy More and being somebody who makes a difference. I don’t think that makes him a different (or manipulated) character – it gives him some growth. And Sarah changed her mind too. She went from “Graham’s wild-card enforcer” to someone who wants to run away from it all and finally to somebody who did more than just carry out orders without thinking. That’s a bigger change! Only Chuck makes her realize running away was also a mistake.

        For my money, C&S are still dancing the dance in S3, yes, but it’s not at all artificial. They are struggling with their changes while still trying to find a way. It’s a pretty deep story, much more interesting to me than, “…and then they lived happily ever after in a home with a white picket fence as a retired spy-couple.” It’s where we want them to be eventually, but I didn’t want that journey to end quite so soon after Barstow.

        At least, I didn’t.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m also not Uplink, but I have used the expression. I think of it as the point when the story and/or characters feel more like a story and less real. It’s when I the viewer think; “oh, they’re doing THAT story…”
        Part of what was so special about Chuck in the first two seasons was never feeling that way. Sure they followed a lot of standard tropes, but it never (rarely?) felt like they were being forced, but rather flowed naturally from the story and characters. Starting with Pink Slip, that was no longer true. Everything about the reset felt like they were now following formula and had given up on being the show I had been watching for two seasons. It was all “we can’t put the lead couple together, it’s too early, we need to make things darker…” And in every case, they had to break from or diminish things already done or established to tell the new story. I think calling it dishonest is perfectly descriptive.
        And yes, I acknowledge it is also subjective. I feel like I was swindled and cheated, obviously other viewers may feel differently.

      • Dave says:

        And another thing…

        I wish I had come up with this but it was someone else in the alternatives threads (just can’t remember who), but after First Class, Sarah as a character was bizarre and some one said she was like scenery. Whatever they needed to support whatever angst they had for Chuck, Sarah did it. Like a puppet with no respect to what her character had been. Again, I can only call it bizarre.

        Also, there was no romance between Sarah and Shaw until Living Dead, none that I saw at any rate. Why did they have to poke us in the eye with that interrogation scene? Hubris perhaps.

        Why couldn’t the story have been Chuck made a difficult decision to upload the 2.0 and in doing so becomes a spy. Chuck has a mountain to climb, obstacles to overcome and guilt to assuage. His love, Sarah, realizes they can’t be together until he overcomes the obstacles or fails. She helps him. I think I could watch that and feel better than what I saw. In fact, my alternatives have been just that. Why do we have to be dark? Why do we need OLIs?

        That’s what dishonest means to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe seriously, growth? The only growth that occurred in the front arc was Chuck as a spy. And even that is somewhat debatable, he’d already run solo missions and regularly taken initiative in the first two seasons. But I’ll cede the point, he did grow into a more professional spy in S3.
        But on a personal level, the things that actually would matter for the relationship, all we saw was stagnation or regression. Sarah stagnated, she didn’t grow one iota from Ring until Honeymooners. Yes she needed to grow in certain areas, and she did spectacularly from Honeymooners on. But not during the misery arc.
        Chuck went backwards. As a man I would rate him less admirable, less mature, less trustworthy at the end of the misery arc than he was at the end of S2.

        I simply don’t see the growth some say they see in S3. That is among the main differences in the apologists vs the detractors for S3. What some say was good and needed, some just categorically do not see.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Joe, not surprisingly Bill stated my position better than I could have and I agree with him completely. That is what I mean by dishonest storytelling. Prague and Pink Slip were not an honest outcome of what happened in the episodes before. it was a complete and abrupt change without any prior justification or setup other than to extend WTWT. That, along with their lust for stunt casting, driving the story becomes glaringly obvious by the horrendous execution and complete lack of believability for me in Chuck’s actions and Sarah/Shaw in particular. Plus the continued rationalization that it was working by TPTB makes them seem as dishonest as the story telling was.

        The fact of the matter was that there were plenty of reasons to keep the couple apart as we went into season 3 but none of them involved Chuck dismissively destroying the woman he loved without any concern for how she would react to his reversal of what he promised to do 3 weeks earlier. It was basically, “this is what I want to do now and screw you Sarah I’m just going to walk away without any discussion about how it makes you feel.” Plus none of the honest, legit reasons for keeping them apart involved OLI’s. That storyline was closed and feigning that it wasn’t is also dishonest to what came before. Couple that with how horribly the Sarah/Shaw “relationship” played out and how it made her look like a complete idiot being involved with a turd like Shaw under any circumstances and you see that it wasn’t story and character based. It was UST extension based and an unjustified belief that Routh really was Superman.

        Like I said elsewhere ambiguity can be very useful in storytelling as can miscommunication but they both have a shelf life that is only so long. The OLI’s in season 3 were all well past their expiration date and yet they continued to try and justify what they were doing as necessary to get to where they were going. Unfortunately for them, a very large portion of their audience saw the man behind the curtain from the moment Pink Slip aired.

      • BillAtWork says:

        There are actually better examples of dishonest storytelling. Pink Slip is just the one that ruined the show for many.

        One better example is the end of American Hero. They sold us on this dramatic scene. And it was powerful. Sarah clearly chose Chuck over being a spy (again). She threw her gun on the bed with a relaxed smile. The symbolism was clear. She was done being a spy, off to run away with Chuck and begin their lives together.

        Except her retirement lasted 6 seconds (okay, maybe 10). That dramatic scene that they sold us on had zero long term story impact. In fact, it was never mentioned again. There was no explanation as to what changed Sarah’s mind. All for the cheap angst of having Chuck question if Sarah had chosen Shaw.

        That’s dishonest.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink mentions the “man behind the curtain”, others have referred to puppet strings showing. I think the common feeling for many of us is just that they main characters stopped acting like they previously had for no discernible good reason. It only served to push the story in a certain direction. A direction many of us did not enjoy.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed Bill. Then even in the most important moment in Other Guy when Chuck says that she and Shaw are going off to save the world, she looks away, takes a breath and acts like that moment in her hotel room never happened. She looks completely like she was going to do just that. I realize that was to help with the dramatic moment of DYLM but still.

        I’m looking forward to when we get to the PSP in our discussions. As you said if that existed then why did Orion need to use the cube to remove the Intersect from Chuck’s brain in Colonel? Plus I still have absolutely no idea what Mary mean by Stephen not wanting him to see it.

      • uplink2 says:

        One last point to Joe on the dishonesty of Pink Slip. A writer can do exactly what they did in making a complete and total change of reaction to a situation or have a character surprise us with something completely unexpected and with absolutely no setup to justify it ahead of time. But if they do that there must be a point down the road where the reader/viewer suddenly says “Now I understand why they did that and it does or does not make sense.” But in this case they failed at doing that. They tried to explain Chuck’s decision in Three Words but what they explain was never what the viewers felt was dishonest. It wasn’t about deciding not to run and becoming a spy that folks felt was dishonest so much as it was his complete lack of compassion or concern for what he was doing to Sarah. It was the dismissive nature of how he did it. They explained his decision but never even attempted to explain his actions in how he presented that decision. THAT was the dishonest part of it. You don’t treat the woman you love like that, especially someone like Chuck Bartowski. I thought his decision was in character but never his actions in how he did it and that is where the man behind the curtain is screaming at me.

        Because the only reason they couldn’t have him show any concern for Sarah is then we can’t get to the OLI’s they wanted so badly because the OLI’s were based on the stunt casting they coveted so much. Chuck had to be a complete bastard to Sarah to have the story they wanted to tell play out and his actions were never explained and it just perpetuated the honest belief that it was nothing more than extending UST and WTWT for another 13 episodes.

      • joe says:

        They tried to explain Chuck’s decision in Three Words but what they explain was never what the viewers felt was dishonest. It wasn’t about deciding not to run and becoming a spy that folks felt was dishonest so much as it was his complete lack of compassion or concern for what he was doing to Sarah.

        I assume you meant “…the viewers felt was honest.” Yeah, now that I have you all outnumbered here (Give up! I have you surrounded!), it’s been clear (to me, at least) from the beginning that the majority felt that way. Not all, mind you (and not me) but the majority.

        And I think you pinpointed the crux of the matter. I didn’t ever feel that Chuck had no compassion or concern for Sarah, even in Prague. But can I make you believe that he was, at worst, trying to move on specifically so that she could? Naw. Not any more than you can make me believe Chuck was a cruel and callous character especially when it came to Sarah. You wouldn’t buy it and I can only guess that it’s varying life experiences that make it ring true to some and false to others. And since they’re fictional characters and forever incomplete, we’re only dickering about how much they are incomplete.

        I understand that for you, Uplink, Bill and Dave, it’s an unacceptable amount in that part of S3.

      • uplink2 says:

        @Joe, I realize we will probably never agree on all of this and that’s fine. It’s one of the things that keeps this site alive 18 months after the show went off the air but if you can indulge me a bit. At what point on that railroad platform does Chuck show any concern or compassion for Sarah and what he is doing to her? What she is giving up for him? I simply can’t see it in any form. He crushes her and tears her heart to shreds simply because they built a facility for him to train to be a spy, a facility that they actually probably built for Bryce. That is where the dishonesty comes from for me. He’s callous, selfish, and completely oblivious to the sacrifice she has just made for him, again. She is committing treason and he simply shoves that gesture back in her hand along with that ticket and simply walks away from her with no concern for her feelings or where they go from here. It’s all over and he will likely never see her again and he says nothing. He never shows or says anything to let her know he understands how significant this sacrifice is for her or that it matters at all to him how devastated his rejection of her will be on her. Plain and simple he’s a cold and callous bastard to the woman he supposedly loves. A woman he turns and walks away from without a second thought shown to her.

        It was a horrible betrayal of everything we knew about him and how he felt about Sarah. As I said above, a writer can do that in their story but at some point it has to be explained to the viewer/reader. Some justification of why he did it and that this is now the true character has to be shown or it will be rejected by the audience. That justification of his destruction of Sarah was never shown. His choice was justified but not his betrayal and that is why it rings false for so many. There was nothing honestly shown before or after to justify his actions other than to extend WTWT and the audience saw through it as clear as a desert night sky with a new moon.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Agreed Uplink. I get that to the apologists it looks like we’re piling on. But it’s even worse that you are saying. Since Prague happened in flashback, Chuck had already washed out of spy school and was back pining for Sarah the first we saw of him.

        Then she sort of agrees to work on mending their relationship. In First Class a clearly vulnerable Sarah pleads with Chuck to not go on this solo mission. Not now. Not only does he rub in her face that he is going, he comes back with a new GF.

        Why she would have anything to do with him after that is beyond me. It’s when I came within an eyelash of quitting the show. I would have except that was the time when we started getting spoilers that indicated a happy ending in Honeymooners.

        I find it hard to believe that we’re having this discussion. JS readily admits that the trapizoid was because they were afraid of putting them together so soon.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed Bill. It plays like Sarah is second best. That seeing he failed at Spy school he might as well go back to Sarah and has no clue how badly he destroyed her. Or no guilt it seems.

        But what got me in that scene in First Class was him saying to her, “an honest to god agent of the CIA thinks I can.” What the hell was she, a yogurt sales person? The over the top Shaw worship comes off as so infuriating because they never once showed us anything where he deserved any of it, unlike Bryce, Cole, Carina, Casey, and Sarah. It goes back to that discussion with Nervert a few months ago, they tried to shortcut Shaw’s story by stunt casting Superman, expecting us to simply go along with what they were telling us about him because of who the actor was. But all we got was a weak story showing the opposite of what they were telling and a weaker performance by the actor just adding to the frustration.

        Unfortunately I never saw any of those spoilers and was so close to leaving after Fake Name. It was just my faith in the love story that made me give it one more chance by watching Beard and saw Chuck’s phoney (fourth time) epiphany and made me think the Sham disaster might be over at some point.

        BTW I’m convinced those leaks were entirely intentional on their part and planned in advance just like the Sepinwall interview. The ship was seriously taking on water and they knew it. Too bad that interview only seemed to make things worse not better.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Oh, they absolutely knew they were in serious trouble. You could literally see the color leave JS’s face when he was booed at ComicCom. He did an interview before S3 even started promising that C/S would be resolved soon and that we wouldn’t get WT/WT fatique. Ali Adler did a video pointing to the wedding pictures from Suburbs and pleading to ‘bear with us’. The Sepinwal interview after Mask was posted almost literally as the credits were still rolling on the West coast.

        Mo Ryan (who is the only critic who isn’t a total water carrier) interviewed them after ComicCom and more or less asked them if the were nuts. The comments were so scathing that she did a follow up interview to allow them to repair the damage.

        Of course they knew.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh Bill you know I just despise First Class so much, and that is exactly why. As big of a jerk as Chuck was in Pink Slip, he hasn’t anywhere near hit bottom yet. I just hate his character in S3. If he was a friend of mine, I’d smack him. Hard.

        Joe your surrounded quip makes me laugh! I was just reading a book on Operation Market Garden; there’s a very famous exchange from the fighting around Arnhem. The 2nd Battalion of the British First Airborne was cut off by the 2nd SS Panzer Corps; when the German commander sent negotiators to discuss surrender, the British reply was “Sorry, we don’t have the facilities to take you all prisoner.” Too funny. Of course they were slaughtered…

      • uplink2 says:

        Hmmm, never saw those Mo Ryan interviews. I just Goggled them and they link you to the LA Times instead. Seems like those are among the lost history like the NBC forums and the Ali Adler interview.

        It’s always a mixed bag for me when I think about not being involved online with Chuck back then. Sometimes I’m glad I wasn’t and sometimes I wish I had been.

      • uplink2 says:

        Excuse me Ali Adler video. At least I saw that before it disappeared.

      • Jason says:

        Circling back to Pink Slip, Fake Name, Sham, I guess we can’t get it out of the system. IMO that is the issue with Shaw coming back in the second half of s3 and in s5 (and more than likely in the movie) and with the show going dark in general, it reopens the wounds for those who rejected the Chuck rejecting Sarah causing Sarah to trust and sleep with her creepy boss arc.

        If the past few weeks of bashing the arc, as well as a couple of years to pass, hasn’t heeled the wounds, I don’t know what will?

        At some point for those struggling, isn’t it easier to admit the writers (or whoever was responsible for the arc) made a mistake, forgive them, and move on?

      • The only mistake they made was casting the spy/normal life struggle into the form of a romance. The arc is perfectly valid but buried by that.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m not sure that ‘forgive’ is the right word. Chris Fedak never owed me anything. He produced a product. And like any consumer of that product, I’m entitled to my opinion of it.

        IMO, his flawed decisions in keeping WT/WT going artifically ultimately cost him millions of dollars. That’s as it should be. He’s not evil. He simply miscalculated what his customers wanted and it cost him. That’s American free enterprise at it’s best, right? But nobody can deny his right to make those decision. Chuck and Sarah Bartowski are fictional characters. They only truly exist in his imagination. It’s his perfect right to take them in any direction he chooses. And as consumers it’s our perfect right to turn the channel. Millions did.

        But it is also not inappropriate to point out the flaws in the product we were consuming, is it? Isn’t that sort of what this forum is for? To point out what we would have done differently?

      • atcDave says:

        Well, I think we’ve all admitted they made a mistake and moved on! I know it doesn’t keep me up at night. And when the topic is relevant to discuss, it will be discussed. At this point I think attitudes are mostly set.
        I expect as our re-watch moves further past the misery arc the frequency it comes up will diminish.
        But it will never just go away. It’s a part of the show’s legacy at this point.

      • atcDave says:

        I couldn’t have said it better myself Bill.

      • Jason says:

        I get it really I do. I simply pointing out that a few eps after the misery arc ended, that the reviews are back to that stuff, rather than the back six. I’m as guilty as anyone, only pointing it out

        Of course Bill, of course, yet simply making a true statement, the writer can write anythinig they want, doesn’t prove that many of us might benefit by forgiving him.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I guess I struggle with what I have to forgive him for. I don’t hold him any ill will.

        I’m frustrated that the show that I love was less sucessful than I think it could have been. I don’t think that CF is particularly good at what he does. Fair or unfair, that’s a personal judgement that is my right to make. And if I saw his name on something in the future, I would probably give it a pass. But I’m not angry with him.

        Writting FanFic has changed my perception on this quite a lot. Trust me, I have pages and pages of reviews, many ‘suggesting’ that my story would be better if only…

        And while I appeciate the feedback, as long as it’s civil, the story I’m telling is the story I’m telling. Most of the decision that people are complaining about were made long ago. I don’t expect that everyone will like it. My advice to those people is always “If you can’t enjoy the story I’m telling, stop reading it.” Fortunately, my flawed story decisions don’t cost me millions of dollars like CF’s did.

        Chris Fedak doesn’t need my forgiveness.

      • Jason says:

        bill me too on the fanfic. I’m suggesting the forgive is for fans who continue to blog about eps 3.1 thru 3.13, not for any one writer or showrunner. The forgiveness would allow more review of the ep(s) in question, rather than circle forward or backward toward the 3.1 thru 3.13 eps. I admit I’m maybe the most guilty party, as I didn’t like those eps, and I am not fond of how the show was written in general. My point only is / was, why, just a few eps after the arc in question is over, fixate on those eps again? If the word forgive offends, maybe there is a better word, I was not trying to be offensive, just the opposite really. I’ve been down that hole with you all, I’m only looking for a way out!

      • atcDave says:

        Jason there’s no way out, it is what it is.

        We actually discuss the full show, in it’s full context, which is how it ought to be. S3 will always be explosive because opinions are so strong and so divergent. Whenever the subject is brought up it requires a lengthy period of discussion about opinions and grievances. That’s not ideal, but there’s no practical way stamping it out without causing oddly incomplete or code word guarded discussion. It’s bad enough we had to segregate the opposing camps for three months. If people want to censor themselves to some extent, that’s fine. But I really think the discussing and arguing are a part of the process and experience at this point.

      • BillAtWork says:

        This is the alternative thread. It’s where we say what we would have done differently. I’m not really trying to bash on the show here. But for me, I can’t see much in the first 13 that is salvagable given Pink Slip as a starting point.

        And Uplink, you’re exactly right. They could have told the heroes journey story better without the relationship angst. That was artifically bolted on to justify JS’s omnipresent love triangle.

        The much better story would have been for C/S to acknoledge their mutual feelings, realize that they were going to have to put them on hold for a while while Chuck got to the point where he wouldn’t get killed out in the field, and work together to get to that point asap.

        If you wanted to introduce some angst like Shaw lusting after Sarah and actively pursueing her, okay. And maybe she would want to keep her feelings for Chuck secret which would put her in an ackward spot with him.

        So you could keep them apart, as long as we knew that mentally they were together. Turning Sarah into a clueless robot and Chuck into a dick just made us dislike them and the show.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Bill, and Jason, this is an alternatives thread and not the main episode thread. I have absolutely no issue with this discussion rising again in this forum. I think if it began again in the episode thread your point may be more valid but it didn’t so I’m ok with it.

        On the subject of Fedak my personal feeling is that he had a brilliant concept and created some great characters but also got lucky with casting of his two leads. He found two diamonds that together were priceless. However I don’t think he was very good as a showrunner at times. He showed naivete, a lack of understanding what his audience saw, and yes at time hubris in some of his decisions. Now that is his right but he also proved to be a PR person’s nightmare. Some of his interviews did exactly the opposite of what he intended them to do. I mean is there a more clueless statement that “you don’t put a book down after the 7th (42nd actually) chapter?” Of course you do if it sucks and you aren’t enjoying it anymore. Most readers and especially avid readers have plenty of books they never finished because they no longer were interested in the story the writer was telling. As Bill writes that is American consumerism at it finest and totally appropriate. I personally will never invest in his work again like I did because I don’t see him changing in a way I’d ever trust him again. He lost that trust in Season 3 and to a smaller extent with the finale. Besides my deep investment was because of the actors and their chemistry mostly anyway.

        One more comment about Pink Slip. My dislike of Chuck’s despicable, changed, behavior towards Sarah in Prague is based in large part because none of that behavior was necessary to tell the underlying spy story that was necessary in season 3. Chuck needed to see the darker side of that world that had been hidden from him except for that night in the Christmas Tree lot. That was an important journey for him to take. But his dismissal and destruction of Sarah wasn’t necessary for any of that story to be told. It was only necessary for the OLI trapezoid. It’s sole purpose was to tear them apart to give them one last run to the OLI well with their stunt casting characters at the center of it. Prague’s only purpose was to set up the rejected before it began trapezoid and the extension of WTWT. Prague was never about the spy story or character growth.

        When a character I’m invested in shows entirely new behavior that was opposite to what I’ve been shown since the beginning and the only justification is to extend something I have no interest in seeing anymore then yes I’m going to either move on and reject the story being told or I’m going to express my thoughts on what went wrong and try to suggest alternatives.

        The trapezoid was a storytelling failure and Sarah/Shaw in particular was a complete and total disaster. I don’t think anyone can create a believable argument where that comment isn’t true. They blew it and they know they blew it. I think that is a pretty safe bet. But I wouldn’t characterize it as forgiveness but acceptance that they screwed up that allowed me to continue to really enjoy that last half of the series a great deal right up till the final 30 seconds. I can accept failure and flaws in people, what I can’t accept is lying about it. I think it is quite clear they knew they had a huge problem and in many ways their attempts to manage that problem only made it worse. But it was a problem of their own creation and though I think some people overreacted I take offense to those that “blame the shippers” and not the storytellers. The storytellers have the right to tell whatever story they want but the consumers have every right to reject that story and walk away. Millions did and to me that can only be blamed on the storytellers themselves, not the consumers.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Bill, its funny after my OOC comments above, but this is exactly what I was thinking of. Whether some consider Chuck’s actions in character or not, I simply can’t. I cannot believe the character I liked those first two seasons EVER would have done what we saw in Pink Slip. The whole idea of it shatters the reality of what came before. I have to dismiss S1 and S2; OR 3.01 (and most of S3); as bogus. The two don’t mesh, they’re not about the same people. And even if I could, I don’t WANT to. It would involve someone I thought I knew and liked doing something (several things actually) that I find repulsive and unacceptable.

      But all that said, IF the rest of the season had been about Sarah deciding how, or if she would let Chuck back into her heart, without the silly distraction of the love triangle, I likely would have made some peace with it. At least it wouldn’t have been another such damaging legacy.

      • BillAtWork says:

        The only way that Prague could have worked is if it was clear that Chuck was doing what he was doing to get closer to Sarah, become part of her world, be more (Bryce, Cole) of what he figured she wanted in a man. He would misunderstand that she loved him exactly because he wasn’t that cold spy but a real person.

        So he can’t figure out why his new spy persona is always striking out so badly with her. In fact the more spy he becomes, the colder Sarah gets. He’s confused. Isn’t this what she wants? So much so that he’s on the cusp of giving up. That would have been the epiphany in Beard (which would have to come much sooner). It could have even been Morgan who finally pounded the reality into him.

        So Chuck’s final desperate pitch in American Hero would have been the admission that he had been an idiot, that he realized now how much he had hurt her, and if she would give him another chance, he’d dedicate his life to making sure that he never hurt her again.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think that version could work pretty well. It still wouldn’t be as fun as something like S4, but clearly its a huge improvement over what they actually did. Part of the issue too then, is going to be Sarah learning to communicate; of course that was a canon issue anyway.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with all of that guys and that is why it was so soundly rejected by many fans right from the beginning. Chuck’s careless and insensitive destruction of Sarah is so falsely contrived that it amazes me they thought it would actually work and come off as honest storytelling. Were they really that enamored with the stunt casting that it didn’t matter if it was a plausible story or not? And it all hinges on Pink Slip. Once the fans rejected that contrived premise it was virtually impossible to sell the rest of the story. Especially in light of how poorly it was executed and how totally lacking in chemistry the Sarah/Shaw pairing was. The foundation of the story couldn’t support a well put together storyline and we didn’t get even close to that. As you said nothing that happens after Pink Slip happens if Pink Slip doesn’t happen. And for a large portion of the fanbase we never bought Pink Slip as anything more than a contrived excuse to worship at the WTWT well and ultimately put stunt casting ahead of good storytelling.

  7. BillAtWork says:

    But Joe,

    That might have worked had Ring been in the middle of the season. But if Sarah doesn’t shake her head on the beach, if it wasn’t clear to us that she had chosen Chuck, you end the season (and quite possibly the series) with not only them not being together, but no way to even imagine it happening.

    That was the whole story of Ring. It was the culmination of S2. Chuck finally made it past Agent Walker’s defensive walls. Sarah finally chose Chuck over her duty. Agent Walker became Sarah, a girl finally willing to admit she was in love.

    If you don’t have that, S2 is a waste.

    • atcDave says:

      It does make me wonder what their Plan “A” might have been. I mean, they didn’t expect to loose Bomer, and I believe they sort of accelerated the romance at the end of S2 when they were warned it might be a series finale.
      I’m thinking, Plan “A” might have been a very depressing cliffy with Sarah leaving with Bryce to start the new Intersect project.
      We’ve commented a few times, and I think its true, that the show’s bubble status actually helped deliver a much better product in terms of keeping the story always moving and providing more closure at season’s end.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Do you think that they accelerated the romance? I don’t. In fact I think that they slowed it down. They had planned for a 13 episode season. They got the back order just before the season started. So they had certainly written most of them 13 episodes, and even shot some.

        My theory is that Colonel was the original finale. Sarah’s “It is real” could have been the last line of the series. And that would have been a satifying ending.

        My thinking is the original plan was to have the romance quickly progress to culminate with them being together in the finale. So if I’m right, there are 8 episodes (not counting Ring) stuck in the middle someplace. We know for sure that they didn’t start over and design a 22 episode season.

        So they had to slow them down a little to get to the same point at Colonel. So some episodes needed to be inserted. Sensi and Tom Sawyer come to mind.

        The Cole arc and Suburbs also seem like likely candidates to me. As is the 2nd Jill arc stuff.

      • atcDave says:

        Way back in S1 they talked about having a “five year plan”. So yeah, I think they accelerated the romance from that. But you’re completely correct that once S2 started things started changing a lot. Really, they started changing when the writers’ strike shortened S1.
        Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s pretty normal, probably no show’s master plan ever survived very long once real world issues started exerting their influence. I think on Chuck the timing of several elements, including the romance, were tinkered with several times.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I know that this is going to sound catty. Sorry in advance. But if they had a five year plan, it was written in crayon.

        Clearly, clearly, by S4 they were making it up as they went along. The MamaB story could not, COULD NOT, have been planned from the beginning. I’m not buying that.

        If they did have a five year plan, it was Chuck’s hero story. But I think they quickly found that if they didn’t concentrate on the love story they wouldn’t have a show. So in S2 it was “We’re going to own the relationship”. That’s why I mainly think the S2 original 13 was the love story. In lot’s of ways, I’m sorry that they got the backorder. I would enjoyed the love story more.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess more specifically I should add, that yes, I believe they made Colonel and Ring more definitive once they had reason to think it might be a series finale. As the military axiom goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I’m certain the five year plan was scrap by the end of S2. I had read once that Jill was supposed to return in the first season and the original S1 finale had Chuck see Sarah shooting a helpless man, so they were apparently still tinkering with the plan into S2. We’ve heard rumors over the years about other things “originally intended” that never came to pass.
        Again, I believe this is completely normal. I think a five year outline is part of the initial pitch for any new show being sold. It just shows that there is a plan in mind. And real world considerations routinely cause major revisions. Like loosing or gaining cast members, discovering what elements are working better or worse than planned, mandates from a studio or network, production realities of things they can or can’t do, and even late inspiration and new ideas.
        No plan survives contact with the enemy.

  8. BillAtWork says:

    I’ve always wanted to comment of the ‘Five Year Plan’ and never got to it, lol.

    I never expected them to have five years worth of episodes mapped out. In fact, I’m glad that they recognized early that the love story was what the base wanted and changed (IMO, due to JS’s insistance) to concentrate on it.

    What I did expect is that they would know their characters before writing the pilot. I feel that the MamaB story especially was made up as they went along.

    But who was Chuck? Why did his parents leave? What is their true backstory and current circumstance?

    And who was Sarah? How did she become the Agent Walker who was clearly emotionally messed up. Does she have parents? What is their story?

    Who was Ellie? How did she become a single mom as a teen? How did she get through Medical School. How did they survive with no source of income?

    All of those things should have been known before shooting began on the pilot.

    • atcDave says:

      I think its hard to know what things they completely made up as they went vs those they changed. But I do remember originally they NBC website said Chuck and Ellie’s parents had been killed in a traffic accident. I suspect that was just some network intern making stuff up on the website, because as early as Sizzling Shrimp they seemed to have other things in mind. And the NBC site is where Sarah attending Harvard comes from, I wonder of the show runners ever even saw that one. I know the common fan assumption is that the CIA sent her there, but I bet the writers never imagined her as a Harvard girl at all.
      I’m thinking they had very little of that stuff actually mapped out in S1 though. Some of that may be because their concept was such a stretch they didn’t figure it would really be around long anyway. But even if they had, I know they’ve talked about doing some serious rethinking during then long break between S1 and S2. And S2 did a very nice job of laying out more of Sarah and Chuck’s back story.
      But then they also were talking after S2 that one of their great questions was if Chuck was more Luke Skywalker or Peter Parker; that is destiny vs accident. I’m not exactly sure when they decided on Luke Skywalker, but clearly they knew from the start of S2.

      My guess would be, each season, and back order generated its own discussion and revisions. And I think for each one they talked more about making it interesting and fun than they did in pure continuity.
      I have no idea what constitutes “normal” for the industry. But I do know I seen a number of shows in my life with similar, or even greater problems on the issue than Chuck did. Of course I wish they had often done better. But apart from one major arc that turned the two leads into less relatable, respectable and likable characters I don’t have any HUGE problems with how they managed it.
      I mean, George Lucas tried to convince us that Luke and Leah were meant to be siblings all along. That’s a much sillier retcon than anything we saw on Chuck.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But isn’t the legacy of the Intersect and the Bartowski family history sort of a foundation of the show? In mid S2, Orion was wary of Chuck. Think of Dream Job. “I never thought that my invention would find you.” We now know that that wasn’t the truth. They clearly evolved the story over time. And had they worked out that fundamental point before hand, they could have writen to a consistent set of facts.

        Another example. In one of the later S4 episodes (Too lazy to look it up. A Team?) Sarah was talking to Casey about the prenep and how dysfunctional her family was and how she had to take sides. The implication was that she chose her father over her mother. Yet later we find that she had a loving relationship with her mother, sought her advice regularly, and was staying away to protect her. Unlike her dad, mom knew all about Sarah being a CIA Agent. Sarah’s mom was clearly an afterthough, invented for a single episode and never referenced again.

        Had they thought out some fundamental things about their main characters, they could have written to those points.

        Most shows have a bible. Chuck clearly didn’t. Or if they did, it was written on a napkin. I’m surprised the studio allowed them to get away with that.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think whatever bible they did have was completely re-written between S1 and S2. In pretty much every way that matters. Remember part of the original concept didn’t even call for a clear Charah romance at all (well, not at first anyway), Chuck was supposed to be torn between Sarah and Kayla supposedly representing adventure and something important vs something more ordinary and safe.
        So a few things, I think the whole Bartowski connection to the Intersect is a product of the S1/S2 break, it was not a part of the original concept at all. I’m glad they added it, sort of. I certainly liked a lot of the whole Orion story. Although I sort wish they had more time to spend on adventures and villains who weren’t a part of the family business.
        And I don’t think we were ever told Sarah was “close” to her mom as a child. Actually, we were sort of told the opposite. Mom even complained that Sarah was always running off to have adventures with her dad. So even if mom had legal custody (hard to imagine she wouldn’t!), its suggested Sarah was closer to her dad. Yet dad was arrested, apparently the day Sarah was recruited. Which leaves five or six years of contact Sarah would have had with mom, while dad was in prison, and Sarah was with the CIA (or training with the CIA) before the show ever started. Since it was suggested Graham assigned “Sarah Walker” as some sort of alpha alias in Cougars, its not completely unreasonable that her mom would have known she was going by that name (“mom I’m not going by Jenny or Rebecca or Samantha anymore, call me Sarah…”) I think this is an example of trouble we have made for ourselves. It had never been previously stated what the problem was between Sarah and her mom, only that it was complicated and she liked running off for adventures with her dad.
        This even seems fitting with the idea Sarah is a woman of action. Sarah did come from a broken home, we know one of her parents was exciting, charming, and deeply dishonest; while the other seems warm and caring. This seems to perfectly balance Sarah’s own complexities, and seems to cover both aspects to her character that were evident even back in S1. Even if the specific story itself was a later invention. We were only ever given tiny snapshots of her childhood and early years, so it really is possible to reconcile what little we know, even if some of it isn’t even close to what we were expecting.
        So we later find out that Sarah’s real issue with mom is she’s terrified of Riker tracking her down. That works for me.

        I really don’t believe the Chuck show bible was any worse than most network television. It wasn’t Lost, but it never set out to be. It was a comedy.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Except in S1 and S2, they went out of their way to portray Sarah as a loner who didn’t have anybody in her life who cared for her. Now we find that she has a loving relationship with her motyher, probably a better relationship than with her dad. And I’m sorry that we waited so long to meet Emma. I liked the character and think a lot could have been done with her. But it kinda blew away the S1 and S2 Sarah narritive, didn’t it?

        While we’re on the topic, you mentioned Sarah putting Chuck’s lying on notice in Anniversary. Except when they agreed that the new rule was “no secrets, no lies” how do you reconcile the fact that Chuck has a future mother in law that he doesn’t know a thing about? Doesn’t Sarah violate the new rule in a pretty fundamental way before the words were totally out of her mouth?

        A better question. When is the last time that Steven and Mary were together? Was it 20 years ago like Steven told Chuck from the grave in Ring II? Or was it recently like Mary certainly implied in First Fight? Isn’t that a fundamental thing? Had that been in a bible, they could have consistently written to it.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I’m not going to deny there are issues. Orion and Frost is a big one. It is suggested they hadn’t seen each other in twenty years, yet that seems unlikely. They at least had to have communication. Mary knowing about the suppression device alone proves contact, since it had to have been developed after Colonel when a cube was still needed.

        I see no inconsistancy in saying a loner might keep in touch with their parents. And we just don’t know how close, or not close they all might have been. We do know Sarah tried to keep her CIA life from her dad, it seems likely they had very limited contact after his arrest. And in DeLorean it is pretty clearly suggested that Jack knows very little about his adult daughter.
        She may have been close to her mom, at least she seems to have told her more, until she severed contact shortly before the Burbank mission because of Molly and Riker. Again, this doesn’t seem damning to me either way. We don’t know how much of a change this was for her.

        As far as the no secrets, no lies thing; yeah Chuck probably should have known a little about mom. But you know what, maybe he did. First of all, I’m sure Chuck never interpreted the new pledge to mean Sarah was going to tell Chuck every detail of her career. In their profession, they both would know there were limits. And I think Chuck, by having already known Sarah quite well for quite some time, would not have ever even pushed her on details of her past. I believe the pledge can be easily interpreted as no lies or secrets from here forward. That doesn’t have to mean they spend a weekend going over every detail of their pasts. They both (especially Sarah) would have things they would rather not rehash (past loves, past lies, past killings). But that doesn’t mean they can’t promise to never lie or keep secrets, ever again.
        For the mom thing, I can see Sarah saying “I wish my mom could come to our wedding too, but there’s some special security issues and it wouldn’t be safe for anyone”. Again, I’m willing to assume that by this point Chuck has learned not to push Sarah on such details. And we know Sarah is pretty fanatical about protecting those close to her, so she might prove highly resistant to revealing anything about Emma and Molly until forced to, just as she ultimately was in S5, that’s all fine with me. All we know, is that in Baby, Chuck is happy to meet Emma, after thinking he would never get to.
        Given Sarah’s intensely private character, I have no problem saying full disclosure may have been a struggle for her at times. She also struggled with it some in Family Volkoff over the pre-nup. But she willingly made no secrets, no lies family policy in Anniversary; she even initiated it. And we do know nothing Sarah ever considered keeping from Chuck remained a secret for very long. That was meaningful character growth and I loved it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But we’re not talking about some spy minutia. We’re talking about Sarah’s mother. And even if you claim that the ‘No secrets, no lies” thing wasn’t retroactive, Sarah certainly was prepared to go to Hungary on a dangerous mission, possibly to never return, without telling her husband why. From where I’m standing, that’s a pretty big violation. If I’m the judge, Sarah is guilty as charged. 🙂

        And the Steven / Mary thing is huge. If Steven was in contact with Mary, why on earth would he send Chuck on a quest to find her without telling him where she was and why? And if Mary was on a mission to rescue Hartley, why not just point the PSP at him? Problem solved, right?

        My point is that if they had thought through that history in advance, they could have avoided writting themselves into so many corners.

        A minor example. In Santa, everyone was calling their loved ones. It was heartbreaking that Sarah didn’t have anyone to call. Casey called someone and called her “Mother”. Except that we know that John Casey doesn’t have a mother. Alex Cogburn’s mother thinks him dead. Had they known that, they wouldn’t have written that throw away line in Santa.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I never said Sarah wasn’t guilty of some violations, in fact, I think its perfectly in character and beautiful how she grows. Including her struggles with full disclosure in Baby.

        I will be continuing with praises of this development all through Anniversary. Because the thing is, Sarah is a liar. She was raised by a liar, she became a professional liar, and going back to S1 she really taught Chuck to lie. But now she realizes something is rotten. It may have to do with knowing how her mom was, it may have to do with remembering how Chuck used to be. But now Sarah has caught Chuck lying to her and to his own dad; and even though she backs her partner up, she clearly doesn’t like him lying to dad and advises against it. She will be burned by Chuck’s lies again the following week, and finally in Anniversary when she speaks up and puts an end to it.
        I just honestly think this perfect, brilliant story telling. I love how a liar recognizes another liar and doesn’t like it. I also love that she won’t abandon him this time, but rather will help fix the mess she’s made. Its one way the writers have finally chosen to write some awesome stuff for Sarah now that the zombie is over. The liar is coming to terms with the consequences of her own actions and knows it isn’t right. She will struggle with this issue for the remainder of the series, possibly for the rest of her life. This is mature writing and character growth. I wanted to see this for so long, and am happy the show is finally delivering to its potential. Sarah is now a reformed, or recovering liar. like an alcoholic, never truly an “ex”, but doing very nicely in recovery.

        I never expect characters to be prefect, but I do want them to try. And I love this version of trying.

        And yes, as I said, the Orion/Frost thing was pretty badly handled.

        But I’m really not that worried about the missteps. I know the show bible was rewritten a few times. Canon is not completely consistent. And they later played with details they hadn’t given much thought to. Fedak is clearly a sloppy writer, and I will be very hesitant to get involved with another of his projects. . But I am happy now with a show back on track. This is all now small stuff to me.

  9. SarahSam says:

    En Fuego B@W. Good to see you back and I hope all is well. Great discussion guys, really enjoyed it. Of course, I’ve always been in the minority in my belief that Sarah wasn’t telling Chuck anything.,personal or past spy related. Did he ever show knowledge about anything she might have possibly told him ? She even had money stashed away in case her dad went to jail for crying out loud. Marriage or not, old dude was still guessing on her as late as S5.

  10. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Tooth (3.16) | Chuck This

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