Chuck vs The Subway (3.18)

Subway is the first part of the season three two part finale. Things are coming to a climax as Ellie learns about Chuck and the CIA, Orion provides a fix for Chuck’s Intersect problems, Casey’s daughter gets dragged into the spy world, and the return of Daniel Shaw is finally exposed.

A pretty big reveal!

After the jump we’ll look at the first part of the Season Three finale.

Most of our polls have shown that Subway and Ring II are both very popular episodes.  No doubt the excitement, fun and humor are ramped up to a high level here.  I think these episodes are a lot of fun and still hold up well on re-watch, mostly.  But as is true for most of S3.5, some of the problems I have remain serious.  At this point Chuck’s lying comes to a head; it will now play out both with Sarah and Ellie, but I like the way both stories are resolved.  Sarah will be shocked to learn of Chuck’s health issues, but she continues to show patience and forgiveness towards such things, and the scene is so well played its hard to dislike it much.  And I do enjoy Ellie’s introduction to Chuck’s spy life.  From first seeing Chuck in action, to trying to get details from Devon and Morgan.  The scene with Devon is particularly strong and funny (“Chuck’s been with the CIA for years!”  oops).

My main problem here, has to do with way too much stupid stick for Chuck.  He really is played as a moron throughout most of this episode.  An excitable and annoying moron.  I could live with most of it; but the whole scenario that leads to Chuck running off with dad while Sarah is left on the sidewalk really ticks me off.  I know we all love Scott Bakula for the warmth and earnestness he brings to the part of Stephen Bartowski.  The performance almost masks that the reasoning for running away is really idiotic.  Does it not occur to him that leaving loved ones behind leaves them wide open and unprotected sources of leverage against them?  Oh and that he’s now taking advice from the man who caused so much pain by abandoning him and his sister for 20 years?  

Just whack, whack, whack away with the stupid stick until it hurts…

Maybe Chuck and Ellie were safe when he and Mary disappeared twenty years ago, because he apparently kept his identity secret.  But now, everyone knows exactly who Sarah is to Chuck, and who Ellie is to both of them.  Running away provides exactly zero protection for anyone.  It is pure pointless tragedy; Chuck should know better, and I actually find his maddening stupidity even harder to watch now than when the episode first ran three years ago.  It also strikes me as quite out of character that Sarah stays standing on the sidewalk as the Bartowski boys run off together.  This sequence of events comes close to ruining the entire episode for me.  It is so utterly stupid, I find it offensive that anyone would have even considered such a scheme reasonable.  Now to be fair, Chuck immediately changes his mind about running off the moment he realizes that Sarah is threatened in his absence.  So now that the Homer Simpson moment is over, he will convince his dad to turn around and fix this problem.  Much better…

With a major part of the plot for this episode annoying me greatly, I’m not quite as enthusiastic as many fans are.  BUT, I see great value and enjoyment from the strength of several scenes.  So even if I find the whole somewhat lacking, the individual parts are mostly wonderful.  In fact, apart from that one stupid plot device, I think this episode is really a lot of fun.  A few specific things jump out; like the previously mentioned big reveal for Ellie.  Devon may be the one who really makes this sequence special, this is easily the funniest he’s been since last week (I’m a big Devon fan!)  

Both relieved, and in a lot of trouble!

We also get a few really sweet Sarah moments, including the previously mentioned realization she’d been lied to about Chuck’s health; but even better are her statement of commitment to Chuck (err, right before he decides to abandon her…), punching Shaw, and getting Casey’s “blessing”.

The end, that is, the last 15 minutes or so, of this episode really are extraordinary.  Obviously Stephen’s death is dramatic and powerful.  This will raise the stakes considerably going into Ring II.  Even better is Morgan and Devon as General Beckman’s only hope.  Such a fun scene, leading right to a second act we didn’t have to wait a whole week for when it first aired.

But this time, you all get to wait…   (hey, we’re not actually in a hurry to finish this re-watch!)

~ Dave
ct_bar

Tired and Defeated

No, not Chuck… ME! I’ve been performing a hard-drive transplant on Mrs. Joe’s PC all day, and I finally got the system re-installed and (mostly) back together. I am, however, behind and tired, so this will be mercifully short (and delivered with apologies).

First of all and foremost, if you haven’t re-watched Chuck vs. The Subway you must be a communist you should! It just became my second favorite episode of all time, second only to The Colonel, and yeah, it’s that good.

The action is fast paced, the comedy, especially Beckman frantically begging Morgan and Devon for help a la Princess Leia, is perfect. And the acting! Scott Bakula has always been my favorite guest star on Chuck, and Stephen the character with whom I most identify. Can’t get enough of him. And of course I love the whole idea of Chuck&Sarah tasting strawberries at a farmer’s market – how completely normal! The seen is done beautifully. Is that really Sarah? Is that really Chuck with her? You bet it is.

Mua-ha.

Mua-ha.

Then there is the drama. It’s not just Ellie having her world turned inside out by Devon, Morgan, Justin, Chuck and finally Stephen. It’s zombie Shaw too. Who better to play a man who’s walking dead than the character we’ve characterized as a piece of wood? For my money, Brandon Routh was born to play this role – not as Chuck’s boss and mentor, but as Sarah’s tormentor.

Inside Out

Inside Out

The music is superb. I was tempted to have youtube links to at four of those pieces (and maybe Roger Miller’s England Swings too, if only because I loved that tune from way back when…) but that’s over-kill. The Powers That Be chose one in particular that was meant to send a message to us, the fans, and that one I’ll leave for you to play as you read.


There is one thought I’d like you to consider as you re-watch or think about this episode in the future. It concerns “The Scene.” You know the one I mean – Chuck leaving Sarah behind to run with Stephen. It makes no sense. It’s been called aggravating, stupid and maddening. Heh. I think I was the one who called it maddening.

I’d like you to consider the argument Chuck and Stephen started when Stephen works on his son’s governor.

Stephen: What I — What I’m trying to say is – your courage makes me very proud. But there’s some battles you have to walk away from.
Chuck: Are you saying, run? Turn my back on everyone that I care about?
Stephen: There may come a time when, if you wanna protect them, you have to go.

That’s not just advice. That’s advice from dad. Remember that he’s never wrong.

Chuck doesn’t even consider it. In fact, when they find that Chuck had really seen Shaw in the Subway, taunting him, everyone’s first reaction is to go after Shaw – everyone’s but Stephen’s.

Sarah: We need to follow Shaw, take him down.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it. The other option is that they’re leading you into a trap.
Casey: It’s not like we’re going in empty-handed. [Casey cocks his gun.]
Stephen: You know how I feel about this, Charles.
Chuck: Yeah, I do. But I don’t have a choice.
Stephen: That’s exactly what The Ring wants you to think. There’s always a choice.
Chuck: What choice would that be, Dad? To run away? I’m not you. I’m not gonna spend the rest of my life in hiding. I can’t leave the ones I love behind.

So the vote is 3 against 1 and off Team B goes to find Shaw without Stephen. Uh, maybe it’s just 2 against 2, actually. Casey, you’ll recall, changes his mind.

Casey: Mr. Washington is in that room. Shaw and The Ring have taken over the CIA. He’s got the whole chain of command eating out of his hands. Got knows how many Ring agents are on the inside. It’s only a matter of time before they burn us too.
Sarah: So what? You’re just gonna run?
Casey: It’s not just us they’re gonna come after. They’re gonna come after the people we care about.

That’s not a case of Casey getting soft or feeling defeated because Shaw has everyone he needs hoodwinked. No, it’s because he’s thinking of someone else – a 21 year old daughter named Alex.

Alex

Alex

Oh yeah – Alex. That’s another reason I love this episode. It’s different when you have someone you care about in danger because of you. You do everything you can to keep them out of harms way. So when Chuck is persuaded by Orion to keep Sarah and Ellie and Morgan (should the list continue?) safe by falling back, we should understand that he has been prepared his entire life to consider that option. It may not be quite so understandable to those of us who expect Chuck to be a hero (or superman or some such), but from his POV, it’s got some precedent. Orion is never wrong.

Satisfaction

Satisfaction

Chuck sticks to his decision for about two minutes before he changes his mind and tries to be exactly that hero we expect him to be. I can’t tell you the satisfaction I feel every time I realize Sarah and Casey know what Chuck has done.

Casey: Hmmm. Don’t know when it happened, but our boy became a man. Bartowski’s a spy. Picked a good one, Walker. Finally.

It matches the satisfaction we see on Sarah’s face right at that moment.

I used the verb “tries” because Chuck doesn’t succeed. Before the episode ends, Shaw has him, Sarah and Casey at his mercy (Mua-ha) and in fact, it looks like there is no one left to save them. Chuck is defeated and as desperate as I was when my wife’s power-supply failed on me after I re-installed the operating system.

I am going to wait a couple of days before re-watching the finale, but I am so glad that we didn’t have to wait the first time. A pen-ultimate episode is supposed to do this – leave you and the hero is despair, illogically worried that this time is the one time he won’t succeed and worried that this time the odds are too grate and that there is, indeed, no hope.

Foolish us. With Morgan and Devon on the loose, there’s always hope. 😉

When the law acts as though there is nothing to show
There is compassion and depth in a neighbor

Now if Bartles & Jaymes didn’t need no first names
We could live by our own laws in favor

– joe

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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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72 Responses to Chuck vs The Subway (3.18)

  1. mr2686 says:

    This one, along with Ring2 are on a lot of peoples top 10 list, but for me when separated, this one is not quite as good as Ring2. That’s not to say it isn’t great or a strong episode, just not quite as good as next week’s selection. As for “the scene”, it does seem a bit odd, but I’ve always looked at it as Chuck knowing Sarah can take care of herself for a few minutes while he tries to talk his Dad in to helping (knowing full well that without his help it would be almost impossible to win this fight). I can understand why people don’t like that part, and Chuck is always leaving a bit to the imagination as to why things are being done the way they are, so at the very least I hope people are inclined to give Chuck the benefit of the doubt because, as Dave wrote, he turned around to fix the problem.
    Other than that, there are no glaring things that bother me about this episode. Here are a few things that I love:
    1. Casey to Sarah – “Don’t know when it happened but our boy became a man. Bartowski’s a spy.
    Picked a good one Walker…finally!
    2. Ellie finds out Chuck works for the CIA.
    3. Devon gets to tell Ellie that the stripper at his bachelor party was CIA, and nothing happened.
    4. Chuck throws a letter opener at Shaw but Shaw doesn’t stop it.
    5. Mua-ha

    • atcDave says:

      Those are all definitely great moments MR, and that’s all why this episode is still so much fun to watch. But I would feel about a million times better about things if we knew Chuck was thinking like you said; just a few minutes with dad to get his help.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, another way I look at it is that most people, even as adults, will blindly do what their parents tell them. It’s not until they actually think about it that they realize that they are adults and that’s not what they want to do. Either way, I would have liked for Chuck to extend a hand to Sarah and tell her to get in, or something instead of leaving her behind…but then, if they do that he can’t save her later I guess.

    • joe says:

      On reflection, I think you’re right about The Ring pt. 2 also, MR. I have a hard time not treating Subway and Ring 2 as one big episode – they’re so closely tied in my mind.

      And they’re fully enjoyable that way too. I’m really glad I got to see them that way the first time.

      The only thing I would add to your list is Bakula’s portrayal of Stephen. The combination of stumbling, bumbling half-mad, half genius Stephen with the “always right” Orion is one of my favorite things in the entire show.

      • mr2686 says:

        Joe, I agree 100 percent about Bakula. Just a great job every time he’s on the screen in Chuck. I really was hoping they would find a way to bring him back, I mean he faked his death multiple times while he was on the run, they could have said he was shot in a kidney and they later saved him and forced him to work for the Ring. Hey, maybe in the movie… LOL.

      • joe says:

        Bringing back Scott B. is my #1 reason I hope for a movie. I mean, didn’t they set it up perfectly? Stephen is murdered in a regeneration lab by a zombie who’s been through the process? Think of the plot-possibilities! ;o

      • atcDave says:

        I agree they should have brought him back, but I think CF was pretty clear he had no intention to. I sure would have liked a Mary/Stephen reunion scene!

  2. garnet says:

    It really is hard to look at these episodes in isolation. They really play much more like a 2 hour made for TV movie.
    I agree with the stupid stick comments bit I also see merit in the idea that a child (even an adult one) will tend to follow their parent’s advice especially when under stress and without time to really think things through. If Stephen told me to get in a car, I might even get partway there before saying “wait a minute”!
    Stephen as the victem of a Ring Regeneration plot sounds like fun movie fodder. I wonder if they would be able to fund the actors necessary for this, but I can dream.

  3. BillAtWork says:

    I would have enjoyed the Orion / Frost backstory, especially were it a love story. But it’s too late for that. Not only would Steven returning from the dead now be unbelievable, they painted themselves into a corner with what they’ve done with Mary’s story. They would have to retcon all over the place to make that work.

    • Wilf says:

      Although, maybe such retcon, when it comes to any eventual film, would be more acceptable than in a series episode. After all, to be fully “standalone” and not just accessible to those who have watched the series, a film would have to paint a certain amount of backstory, or even ignore it altogether.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d be okay with a certain amount of Retcon on this. I think it would be worth it to make certain things “right”. Although really, I’m most concerned about how they would handle the memory stuff. Anything involving Orion/Frost is completely secondary.

      • Jason says:

        A movie, where Chuck and Sarah were faced with the same identical situation as Mary and Orion once were, with two or three Chuck and Sarah kids, and Sarah (or Chuck even) under intense pressure to leave them for the common good, with a few flashbacks to how Mary and Orion dealt with the same issue, I might really like that!

      • atcDave says:

        Jason that’s not a bad idea at all!

      • joe says:

        I agree! Warning, though. My mind just flashed on the idea of Morgan (or maybe even Casey, but better, Morgan) being accidentally made into an “evil” Intersect, and that being the reason and rational for one of them leaving their family for a mission. Then I realized it was too much the same story. Gotta be careful there! 😉

  4. BillAtWork says:

    I would like that contrast story… as long as itr was a contrast. Sarah is not Mary. We saw that in Baby. When push came to shove she took Chuck to Hungary with her. And although she made some mistakes in that episode, she came away with a growth moment. No way does Sarah make Mary’s decision. No way.

    I fully expected Gobbler to be that contrast. I expected a confrontation between Mary and Sarah talking about priorities… and was disappointed that it didn’t happen. Someone had to tell Mary exactly what her decision cost her family. Sarah seems like the ideal one to deliver that message in no uncertain terms.
    .

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly with all of that Bill. Gobbler is my least favorite S4 episode exactly because of that lost opportunity.

      • BillAtWork says:

        A lot of this depends on what Zach means when he says movie. If he means a theatical release movie a la Serenity, then it would have to be a story that would appeal to the masses, heavier, more action, less Buy Morons, Sarah with less clothes (mostly kidding).

        That seems too ambitious to me. What I would do is a two hour made-for-TV movie that basically felt like another episode of the show. In that case, theyt’ve have to keep in light, resolve C/S’s future, and leave us happy but with some vague threat that would allow them to do the next one (if demand warranted). That’s what I would do. I would do a prepaid PPV TV thing to appeal to the base. Then offer it to NBC (or a Cable) at a discount.

      • atcDave says:

        That was his plan last I knew, although it sounds like there may have been some new scheming recently, not sure if he’s getting more ambitious or not. But I definitely prefer the idea of something simpler aimed at the base.
        The failure of Serenity to actually make money may make the big theatrical release a less appealing option for everyone. I think the results of the coming VM movie will make a huge difference; if it makes money, that will likely be the model they follow.

      • joe says:

        Slightly OT for this thread, but what the heck.

        I’ve been hearing for a week about how bad this summer blockbuster season has been for Hollywood. My imagination says that means there’s going to be a change in emphasis and maybe even some experimentation to see what works now.

        I’m hoping that means someone will take a flier on Zac’s ideas (btw, a few years ago Bailey posted a clip to youtube of the cast when they meat (sorry) met a group in a restaurant in SD during comicon week. She asked him about the diminutive of Zachary, and he said he takes both, but prefers Zac (without the k)). I could easily buy the argument that Zac’s creative enough to present a business and entertainment twist to the financing and distribution that might hold some attraction for the money-men.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, in terms of having lots of good movies to see I think this has been a very good summer.
        But obviously if revenues are down it will lead to a lot of rethinking things. I can only hope that’s good news for Chuck.

      • joe says:

        Yeah – the blockbusters may be fun to watch (if you’re young and haven’t already seen a dozen versions of the same story) but they’re costing several fortunes to make. Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp don’t come cheap, apparently.

        Btw, Mrs. Joe once knew Clayton Moore personally. He is The Lone Ranger. Accept no substitute.

      • atcDave says:

        The two names you mention are funny, I think they’re in opposite career phases now. Depp’s box office appeal is fading, Downey is at the top of his game.

        But I always think the biggest problem Hollywood makes on these things is thinking the star matters more than the show. Don’t get me wrong, I think charisma and appeal are big issues, but they HAVE TO deliver a fun show. For summer blockbusters that usually means fun and excitement. Of course story matters too, it at least has to be well told and not horribly cliche. But it’s a whole package deal, and quality matters.

  5. Justin says:

    atcDave, I agree with you about how it was so wrong for Chuck to leave Sarah like that. Yes, he changed his mind to come back to her. But it felt out of character for him to do something like that. And Shaw felt right in his element as the bad guy starting with this episode.

    Do you plan on releasing an alternative post after you do your post on the Season 3 finale?

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I’ll have an alternate post for the S3 finale and the S3/S4 break next Tuesday night. That was a very active period for fan fiction, and I’m sure many of us had thoughts about what we wanted to see next, so there should be plenty to say!

      I think it was MR suggested above just if Chuck had been clear he was running off with dad, just temporarily to get his help, I might have liked it a lot better. And I did find it funny that Chuck knew it was wrong the instant he heard Sarah was in trouble, but it was such a dumb set up as filmed. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I agree its out of character for Chuck. He’ll do the same dumb thing again in Curse. Perhaps its a genetic defect; both his parents are idiots in the abandoning loved ones sense. At least Sarah made it clear she will hunt him down if it happens again!

      • mr2686 says:

        Genetic defect or character flaw. We keep saying in multiple episodes that something is out of character for Chuck. Maybe it’s not…maybe it IS his character.

      • joe says:

        Maybe, Mr. I tend to think that Chuck’s character is sound, but not flawless (much like Sarah’s). Let’s say that his reflex to run is an inherited predisposition much like Sarah’s reflex to not disclose her feelings.

        I thought it was interesting that he later tells Sarah he has a “blind spot” concerning his mother (like any of us can avoid that). It’s a good kind of self-awareness, and more than anything, Chuck shows a consistent self-awareness throughout the 5 seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        I do try to be careful about OOC claims; although I do believe we can say that on occasion, but I think its more common to see unappealing character flaws. Some I find easier to accept (like girlish screams of terror); others I find more troubling, like a willingness to abandon a loved one. Actually, in spite of it coming up a couple times, I do find it offensively at odds with the character we knew in the first two seasons. I can admire a tenacious drive to protect loved ones; but I can only loath a willingness to run away from them.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I’m currently watching that episode as we speak, hence remembering the Jeff comment below. But in defense of Chuck running with his dad, remember at that point he had a deteriorating brain sprouting insecurity and paranoia. He didn’t get his governor until after he left with his dad. As soon as the governor kicks in he realizes his mistake and shows determination to go back.

        Maybe cut him some slack on this one. I really get down on him for S5E06, that one is just dumb…er.

      • atcDave says:

        Well that is a good point Dave. Again, I wish that had been pointed out on screen. I’m still inclined to cry “idiot”, but there are plenty of special circumstances’ Perhaps that’s all why Sarah didn’t hold such a grudge.

  6. Dave says:

    Of all of the actual finales and almost finales, I have always felt S3 was perhaps the best IMHO. Loved it, and yes the music was stellar.

    Chuck is, I believe, always viewing things from a place of insecurity and pessimism. To run to save Sarah seems natural, but he overcomes that flaw as the consequences sink in.

    Good stuff!

    Also seems the right place to share a Mrs. Dave observation. In 2010, while watching FoD Mrs. Dave made this critical observation. The exact scene was when Rye snuck into C&S’s bedroom to scare the sh…um, intersect out of Chuck, Chuck rolled onto his back and propped himself on his hands, Sarah dashed in wearing next to nothing and waving what appeared to be a 12 inch chef’s knife when Mrs. Dave said that she (Sarah) was not out of his league any more. When I asked her to explain, she (Mrs. Dave) said that since the elevator scene in OG, C&S are a well matched couple, not super hot girl and nerdy guy. I always defer to Mrs. Dave in matters regarding the attractiveness of guys. Just thought I’d share that.

    • atcDave says:

      I think a big part of the S4 appeal for me was a consistent willingness to defend each other to the end. Both characters showed it. Really, I love S4!

      • BillAtWork says:

        Mostly agree. But one of the flaws of the show was the willingness to throw one of their characters under the bus to get a single scene. We even see that is S4. One of my favorite moments of the entire series is in Anniversary. “If you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head.” Great, great scene.

        But contrast that with Leftovers where he stands there like an idiot while Volkoff is getting ready to shoot Sarah in cold blood requiring Mama to save the day.

        Are those the same character?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, but there’s a few clunkers in every season. That scene may be a big part of why Leftovers gets sort of a tepid reaction from most viewers.

        I think its safe to say if I could magically re-edit every moment to my taste, there’s not a single episode that would escape completely unscathed.

    • joe says:

      Tell Mrs. Dave that this is a great observation! I do think that’s one of Zac’s major strengths as a actor – he plays clumsy and insecure as well as he does determined and focused. (For that, I think of the scenes in Push Mix where Chuck executes his plan perfectly even before we and Volkoff realize it’s been his plan all along).

  7. Dave says:

    Jeff: It’s my dream come true, Ellie is just like Chuck but with lady parts.

    This always cracks me up. After all, as far as the Buy Morons know Chuck has had like 10 different sexual interludes with 5 or 6 different women,

    Sarah, Lou, Sarah, Jill, Sarah, Forrest (?), Sarah, Carina, Hannah, Sarah

    The Buy Morons don’t know the truth, so to them Chuck is like some nerdy sex god. What a hoot.

    • That line is one of my favorites of the series. I die laughing just thinking about it. That, and Lester’s face afterwards. It’s always great when Jeff is so crazy he even creeps Lester out.

  8. BillAtWork says:

    One of my favorite scenes from this episode gets mostly overlooked. I’m not a big fan of Morgan. But his chemistry with Alex as he rescues her from Jeff and Lester and then turns her mood around was very well done.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I like Morgan with Alex. The “safe except for those guys” comment was funny. And the whole idea of getting involved with Casey’s daughter is just so funny for the stupidly brave fool.

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for highlighting that scene, Bill@Work. It’s one of my favorites in this episode. I enjoy the music at the beginning of the scene as well.

    • authorguy says:

      I predicted that scene on IMDB.com, way back when. For some reason they thought I had psychic powers when it happened. Unfortunately, my own preferred ending for S4 did not work out, so, no psychic powers. Oh well.

  9. resaw says:

    I’m a bit late to the party on this conversation, but this is certainly among my very favourite episodes, top 5, probably. There are so many pivotal revelations/events here: 1. John has been “spying” on Alex; Shaw is revealed to be alive to Team Bartowski; Ellie discovers Chuck is in some kind of trouble, followed by the revelation via Devon that Chuck and Sarah are spies, and finally, that Morgan knows the details of the Chuck spy story; Casey’s revelation to Alex that he is her father; and the death of Stephen J. Bartowski.

    I am amazed at the juxtaposition of humour and drama in this episode. We have the death of Stephen Bartowski, presented with great dramatic effect, including the awesomely powerful “One October Song” by Nico Stai, which is immediately followed by the creepy humour of Lester and Jeff approaching Alex in the Buy More.

    I loved Morgan’s description of the Ring, complete with a hand gesture: “a nefarious criminal organization hell-bent on world domination.”

    I don’t have much to add to the discussion about Chuck’s initial choice to go with his dad in an effort to keep the people (particularly Sarah) he loves safe from his enemies, except to observe that this was the course of action Stephen had been advocating for all along, and had practiced himself over the years, and had viewed it as a necessary sacrifice for the sake of his family. Despite the hurt Chuck felt from abandonment, he now understood Stephen’s rationale and was initially convinced. If he had not heard from Morgan, he might have continued on that path, but I suspect he would have more actively worked with his father from a position off the grid to free his loved ones. Pure speculation on my part, however. Given that Casey was intent on running as well in order to protect Alex, there is a general (although not universal) perception among the protagonists that “running” is a legitimate choice.

    • joe says:

      That’s so well put, Resaw. You make me think of a line that I’ve used before, but bears repeating. “The opposite of a profound truth isn’t a lie. It’s another profound truth.” In this case, Stephen’s profound truth is the decision he made to keep his family safe. Chuck’s more profound truth is the opposite.

      Chuck’s decision doesn’t contradict his father – it honors him.

      • anthropocene says:

        Excellent, resaw and joe!
        And Stephen’s immediate response was to accept his son’s decision, and put his own considerable experience as Orion to its service.

      • joe says:

        And that’s why I love this show.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, I completely disagree with all of you. Chuck of all people should have recognized the futility of his father’s plan; the hurt it caused, and why it can’t possibly work in this case. It was too much square peg and round hole. It was a bad solution to this problem; UNLESS, the entire team/family unit is fleeing together. With all their associations so well known, fleeing only serves to increase the jeopardy of those left behind.

        Turn yourself in, or all run together are the ONLY viable solutions.

      • Jason says:

        I struggle with Chuck leaving Sarah standing on the street watching him leave, because in some respects (not all respects, but some respects) it repeats Chuck leaving Sarah standing alone in Prague, and countermands the conclusion he painfully reached several times between the Beard and Honeymooners ep, that he chooses Sarah over everything.

        By the way, that’s the problem I have with him not sharing Orion’s cave secret with Sarah, and going on his own path to start s4.

      • BillAtWork says:

        My thoughts have evolved a little on the OOC argument over the years. For a long time, I was frustrated that they (I’m saying they but I probably mean mostly Chris Fedak) took so little effort to make the characters consistent or the story have any continuity. And I can still go there at the drop of a hat.  But I also have believe that there are some factors we tend to overlook. So in increasing order of importance…

        First, Chris Fedak was a total rookie. This was his first TV effort, and it showed. He was in over his head. Maybe with more experience he might improve. But it is clear to me that he got this gig mostly because he was college buddies with Josh Schwartz, who happened to make it big. Their story clearly wasn’t thought out. And if it was thought out that plan was quickly abandoned.

        Another factor is that the network and studio kept messing with them. Some people make that a bigger factor then I do but not ever knowing if this was the last season or even how many episodes they would have clearly made planning difficult. That is most evident in S2 where several episodes are obviously inserted to get from 13 to 22 with basically the same story.

        But most important was that the story we were anticipating wasn’t the story CF wanted to tell. Oh he knew (thanks mostly to JS yelling it into his ear) that if he didn’t concentrate on the love story, he wouldn’t have a show. But he really wanted to tell the story of a hero’s journey. That is why so many things seem out of place. Think of the big victories. They never were C/S solving problems as a team. They were mostly Chuck solving problems on his own with Sarah being window dressing or not even there. Sarah was the problem with 2.0 working. If they were writing the love story, it would have only worked when it was in her defense. That’s basically the difference in most fanfiction and the show. Fanfiction tells the story from a C/S as a couple perspective. The show tells the story from a Chuck perspective, with Sarah being the hero’s ultimate reward.

        That’s why Chuck was so callous in Prague. The hero’s journey trumped the love story. Think of all the really big battles. Downloading 2.0 and defeating the Ring Agents, tricking Shaw into revealing himself, fighting Shaw (twice), trapping Volkoff, saving Sarah from Vivian. Sarah wasn’t involved in any of those battles. If she was even there in the scene, she was incapacitated. Those were all Chuck’s victories alone.

        So when you look at Chuck deciding to leave Sarah and go with dad through that prism, it makes sense. CF wasn’t thinking in love story terms. He wanted Chuck to go off on his own and become the hero.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason and Bill I agree exactly with both of you.

        Reference this scene in particular, it seems the point is all about getting Chuck and Dad on their own for a scene with Ellie and Orion’s death. Although I don’t believe either scene would be harmed by having Sarah present, in fact, I think Orion’s death would have been dynamite with Sarah right there trying to provide comfort to Chuck. BUT, if we accept that the goal was separation, it would have been just as easily solved if Chuck said on the sidewalk “I need to get my dad’s help, we will fix this, and I will be back for you…” It still doesn’t work as well for me as actually having Sarah join the boys, but it would have been better than what we got.

      • Bill, we can’t really know, but your impression of it seems backwards to me. After all, the show only began to treat the love story as more important than the hero’s journey AFTER JS left. Fedak has talked over and over again about falling in love with Chuck and Sarah as a couple. It’s only when Fedak is the sole controller of the show that we see the Chuck and Sarah relationship really take off. If anything, it was probably JS that prolonged the wt/wt storylines, unless I’ve missed something.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I disagree, I don’t think they ever treated the love story as more important than the hero’s journey.

        Yes, they absolutely knew that they had to showcase Charah… or they didn’t have a show. But you can track the story they were trying to tell us by the episodes they thought might be the end.

        Ring, Chuck becomes the hero, downloads 2.0 (while Sarah is in cuffs).

        Other Guy. Chuck saves Sarah by killing Shaw and proving that he had the courage to do the right thing when it mattered (while Sarah is in a drugged stupor).

        Ring II. Chuck defeats Shaw in hand to hand (while Sarah is chained to a desk).

        Push Mix. Chuck defeats Volkoff by tricking him while Sarah is with MamaB on the boat.

        Cliffhanger. Chuck saves Sarah from Vivian (While Sarah is in a coma).

        And yes, All those episodes had an ellement of the love story. But they each were the climax of the seasons. I think it’s clear what story they were trying to tell.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no doubt JS and CF both saw the love story as part of their formula, but I think they were interested in it to differing degrees. JS seems to love the teen angst sort of story, in fact, I suspect it’s his favorite thing to write. Well they gave us an initial set-up that let JS do what he does best (and apart from too many triangles, I think he handled it masterfully).
        I suspect CF simply wasn’t as interested in the relationship, or in Sarah. And I don’t mean to say he wasn’t at all interested. Just that he considered Chuck, and Chuck’s journey the most interesting part of the show. I think many viewers agree, and many of those folks are completely satisfied with the show.
        But for many of us, Sarah and the love story were the most compelling parts of the show, and we often feel a slight disconnect between what we wanted and what we got. Don’t get me wrong, except for the misery arc, I loved this show. But as Bill, and Dave, and Uplink, and Jason, and the Other Bill and many others have suggested; there remains that slight disconnect. We are the ones who would have been happier if Sarah was more often the focus, or at least the equal partner when everything came to a climax. We are the folks who prefer the middle of the season to the main arc episodes.
        And I would add we are in very good company. Many of the staff writers seem to feel exactly the same way; particularly LaJudkins and Kristen Newman. But CF wrote most of the finales…

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree that JS was the teen angst guy. He was almost certainly the architech of the dreaded trapezoid. I seriosly think he thought it would work. But the Chuck audience is not the Gossip Girl audience. You could literally see the color leave his face when the idea was booed at ComicCon.

        My problem with hero story is that it was false advertising. In every promo, interview, or trailer, the emphasis was on the love story. We often got teased more than anything.

        Here is a point that shows the contrast. CF did an interview before Cliffhanger basically questioning if there was going to be a wedding. He impled that it might be a dream. And indeed the wedding took about 2 seconds of air time. Literally more time was spent on the stupid black hawk motercycle.

        The NBC promo department got it right (first time, lol). They promoted the episode as the moment you’ve been waiting for — the C/S wedding.

        To me that was the climax of the series. It was the culmination of the grand story they should have told. Instead, it was an afterthought.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        I agree. As I have said, they had to have been blind not to realize what they (TPTB) had created with the C&S pairing and the run-away popularity of Sarah Walker super spy.

        They built it, then turned away from it, I am still mystified after all this time. Who said the hero had to make his journey alone? Why couldn’t the woman who loved him help him realize his potential and recognize the dangers of their life?

        I still say that was a much better story than what we got in the beginning.

        OBTW, Subway/Ring II was the finale that Sarah had the largest role in IMO. At least she wasn’t drugged or in a coma.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill yeah, exactly. I strongly suspect the worst of S3 is JS’ doing.

        Dave I sort of think they didn’t build it that way on purpose. Well, maybe JS did, but I think CF was always, from the very beginning, just more interested in Chuck’s journey. I think the Chuck/Sarah thing really surprised him; some of that may be a lack of experience on his part with how television serials go. But even more, I think the chemistry and appeal of Chuck and Sarah was just beyond anything he ever expected. He talks about it in one of the featurettes on the S5 discs. Now to his credit, I think he decided after the S3 mess that he wouldn’t stand in the way of it. But you look at the CF penned episodes, and he clearly never really embraced it either. He “went with it” is maybe the best way of putting it.

  10. BillAtWork says:

    Exactly Dave,

    You and I think of the show as Chuck and Sarah. Fedak thinks of the show as Chuck.

    All of those scenes that I described would have been 10 times more enjoyable had C/S been a true team. And you still could have had tons of UST. It’s just that the obsticles would have to come from external forces, not from PLIs or Chuck deciding that he loved Sarah some 20 times.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, that difference sums up the different expectations. And just to be clear, I love S4 and S5, but the difference in expectations often means my favorite episodes are the meat of the season, NOT the big climax and finale. Because with Sarah and Charah being my favorite parts of the show, they are often marginalized at finale time. In fact, that may be exactly why some fans consider Subway/Ring II absolute favorites, while to me they’re only pretty good. Both episodes are weak from Sarah/Charah perspective, so they fail to rise to the top for me.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I should clarify on that; that does make Subway/Ring II the weakest season finale of the bunch for me. It was okay, but lacking some of what I actually tune in for. Goodbye is actually a far better finale in this regard, although of course it still needs a proper epilogue…

      • BillAtWork says:

        Agreed. Always manipulating the story so that Chuck was the hero made for some artifical moments. Why was the final battle Shaw vs. Chuck? Shaw’s issue was with Sarah. I would love, love, love to see badass Sarah kick the crap out of Shaw (without the intersect or with Chuck’s help).

        And that’s why to people like us, Phase III is such a favorite. They still weren’t a team but at least it was Sarah as the hero for once. The dual dream / real scene where Sarah talked Chuck back to her was perhaps the best of the series. I’m surprised it didn’t get more critical acclaim.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, dynamite episode.

  11. There’s always been a lot of hate for Shaw, but I really think they found his character (and Routh) with the villain angle. He makes a great foil for Chuck, mostly because he’s Chuck’s opposite in every way: He’s the straight to Chuck’s quirky, the spy to Chuck’s civilian, the musclehead to Chucks nerd, and of course the evil to Chuck’s good.

    That list could go on, but the point is that Shaw as a villain really works in shining a light on what makes Chuck such an atypical protagonist (including Santa Claus). Jumping ahead here, but watching the penultimate scene of Subway, where Shaw casually shoots Steven, and Ring II, where chuck refuses to kill Shaw, just says everything about who Chuck has become. The coolest aspect of all of the finales (except Cliff Hanger) is how Chuck makes a definitive statement about the journey he’s taken.

    In Colonel/Ring, Chuck sees that he’s good enough for Sarah without a superpower. In Other Guy, he realizes he’s capable of doing anything to protect the people he loves. In Push Mix, he reaches his full potential as a spy. In Goodbye, he becomes the backbone of his family.

    In Subway/Ring II, he defeats a spy head on while sticking to his morals. I know people hate his running away, but it’s an extension of a theme that’s run throughout the entire show – Chuck running from the first sign of danger, only to return later. Remember the opening of Pilot? This isn’t new.

    What is new, is that the stakes are higher than ever, and he pays a higher price for it. Subway is the last we see of that Chuck (except CURSE! AGH!), and he learns his lesson the hardest way possible. And it’s also the episode where we see what distinguishes him from his father. Great as Steven B. was, he would have left them all (except Chuck) and gone underground. It’s Chuck who turns around. It’s a literary trope to see the son become a man upon his father’s death, but they did it well here. Subway isn’t a favorite of mine, but it’s one of the most significant episodes in the series.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely agree they found the best use for Shaw as the villain. He was entertaining and despicable. I think my only complaint is I think it diminishes the consequences of Other Guy. Well, I could nitpick a few other things, but it was fun to see him loose, again.

      You are completely correct about Chuck and his running away. I just really wish it had been retired as a theme by now. It doesn’t completely undermine this episode, because he does reconsider as soon as he is confronted with consequences; but as is so often the case on Chuck, I think it’s a theme they used too often. It’s another of those devices they use to generate drama, that serves mostly to make the main character look really stupid. I would have preferred he’d grown past it at this point, and by Curse it will be completely intolerable. Part of the problem may be too, that by Curse, his apologies ring false. And I think that is a consequence of having over-used the theme.

      • Oh, I’m with you on Curse. He’d beaten that devil by then; there was just no need to revisit it. Here, though, I think it makes sense for him. Even though I don’t love it, I think it’s a logical move for Chuck as a person.

      • atcDave says:

        I still don’t see any logic. It just seems dangerous and reckless beyond belief to me. Its the classic unguarded baggage train bringing up the rear. And I really can’t see how Chuck would ever think it was a fair thing to do to someone he loves.

        But as I said, he gets over it quickly enough. The only way I can really accept it is by how quickly it passes.

  12. Jason says:

    Dave so far, two eps in, covert affairs is doing really well, Joan and Arthur, Annie and Augie, got a great story going, dealing so far at least, quite well, honestly, openly, with the keeping secrets issue. If they keep nailing it, it will be a season worth watching. For me, its been the best Covert Affairs season yet, and last night in particular, I had my hand raised ready to hit my forehead with the stupid stick, and the ep simply didn’t make me swing. Instead, the ep ended and I thought to myself, that was pretty darned good.

    At comic con, a show on CBS was compared to both Chuck and the 6 million dollar man, think its called Intelligence. Another show I’ve watched a few eps of, called Continum, seems very good, a woman has Intersect 1.0 skills. I wish Chuck had stuck with 1.0, the story is so much more fun when they have the info, but have to use their own skills based on the info. I think it’s easier to write too, the problem with 2.0, is Superman has to have Kryptonite, else the story is pretty boring, and Kryptonite seems contrived at some point. I haven’t watched much of Continuum, but so far, it seems really, really great, in a Star Trek Edith Keeler meets Chuck sort of way. They also have a great way of making the wt/wt distance between the two lead detectives work very well, maybe they never will even, they have sort of a Sarah / Casey thing going.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ll definitely be watching for “Intelligence”. And I’ll look into “Continuum”, I hadn’t heard of it.

      I agree completely about the Intersect 1.0. And I think S5 shows in some ways how it might have looked, at least to say, Chuck without the super powers. If he had received basic agent training in S3, without the silly 2.0 gimmick, they could have just played him up as a brilliant planner and hacker (with the information only Intersect). Let Sarah and Casey still be the muscle. I think that would have been far more satisfying to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Just to be clear, I don’t mean to start a big thing over the 2.0. It isn’t a huge issue to me, its just sort of a little tweak I would have done differently if I were calling the shots.

      • BillAtWork says:

        This is exactly the Hero’s Journey vs Love Story. If they were telling the love story, Chuck would have remained the reluctent hero, thriving in the spy world because of his smarts and his heart. The charm of S1 and S2 was that C/S both had strengths where the other was weak. Thay made a team that was much stronger than the sum of the parts. In the love story, they would have quickly decided that they completed each other and it would have evolved into “you and me against the world.”

        After 2.0, Chuck no longer needed Sarah for protection. She became just another girl, his reward for becomming the hero.

        I won’t call it a mistake. It’s just they weren’t telling the story I would have liked. I still believe that our version would have been wildly more popular and still be on the air. But others may disagree.

      • Jason says:

        If you give Continuum a try, be sure to watch the Pilot first. Without the Pilot, the show doesn’t make much sense. The Pilot is one of those, you probably could watch a dozen times, and pick up something new each time as the show is very deeply layered. Once you know what’s going on, the end of the Pilot is chilling. So much of the show is downright scary, as much of it ‘could’ be in our future, the show is set 90% in the present, with flashforwards to the ‘scary’ future off and on. My reference to intersect 1.0 is more about how much the mystery of the day relies on data hacking so heavily, I must admit, the lady from the future and her collegues do have some intersect 2.0 type skills and weapons too.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill you’re exactly right about calling it “our” version too! I still remember having similar discussions to this back in S2 on the NBC forums where we arrived at exactly the same conclusions (about what we wanted to see).
        I just love the ideas of having completely different strengths that compliment each other, and both characters being completely happy with it. Of course I’ll always believe “our” version would still be on the air too!

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, sign me up as someone also watching for “Intelligence”. Looks like it won’t be on till midseason after a show called Hostages makes it’s 15 episode run on CBS Mondays.

  13. Jason says:

    Just read that Firefly star / Chuck guest Summer Glau will be a recurring guest star on Arrow Season 2. I look forward to that!

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Subway (3.18) | Chuck This

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