Chuck vs The Anniversary (4.01)

A new season.  Actually, the longest season of the show.  And no doubt the mood of the show is much changed.  Gone is much of the angst and heavy drama of Season Three; Season Four will be lighter, with more short arcs, and romantic comedy replacing much of the angst.  I like to say this is always how I hoped the show would be, obviously there are some who feel exactly opposite.  But for me, this is the best season of the show.

And fittingly I think, the arguments will mostly be less intense and less serious.  But let’s see how it all holds up in the full context of the series.  After the jump, we start Season Four.

Anniversary is an interesting episode.  It certainly is plenty funny, has some good stunts and action, and a nice sweet ending.  Yet it still manages to be (along with Gobbler) my least favorite episode of the season.

The Important things are going well

Perhaps, more than anything, that’s just a statement of how much I really do love S4.  Because I end up with an episode I actually, mostly, like as my least favorite!

The reason I rank it fairly low is just that I find the first 20 minutes or so pretty depressing.  That’s about how long it takes for Chuck’s promise to his sister to run out.  It leads to the bleak situation of Chuck running off on adventures with Morgan instead of Sarah.  Now no doubt, this is very funny in places.  But it really isn’t what I’m tuning in to watch.  On a related note, I find the decision to keep Ellie in the dark at the end to be just silly.  Almost a Jeffster silly sort of decision.  Ultimately its not really a big deal the way it plays out.

Master spies, undone by the repo man!

That may make it even sillier (!).  In the end, I’m willing to write off my complaints with this episode as no big deal.  Better things (much better things) lie ahead, and I’m not going to worry about a slow start to a strong season.  This is a far cry from Pink Slip, and my complaints are minor.

So what goes well?  Pretty much everything else.  Financial problems, and a repossessed Pacer are good for a chuckle.  Chuck may have one of the worst job search experiences I’ve ever seen.

The pros’ stunts are a little different

And the shining beacon that is Buy More never looked better.  Sarah also manages to come across well in a too small part; both bonding with Casey in a “missing Chuck” moment, a fun bit of stunt work, and encouraging Chuck even if it goes against her own best interests.

The final adventure, and the introduction of Volkoff Industries as the new big bad for S4 is the highlight for me.  We finally get the band back together; Chuck is clever, Morgan is funny and Casey and Sarah are helpless.  The “sexting” running gag is funny, even though Chuck really should kill Morgan.

Don’t hurt one hair…

Chuck taking out 10 villains, and the use of public transportation, like master spies, round out the exciting climax.

I like the final Chuck and Sarah scene, and I really like that this will become a recurring theme, the new fountain in a way, for the rest of the series.  I think Mary’s introduction is particularly strong.  I will have pretty major problems with her story later in the season, but I think her first few appearances go quite well.

I have mentioned before, my single favorite thing about this episode was I felt like Chris Fedak was listening to us.  At the end of S3, a major complaint many of us had was Chuck’s habitual lying.  And even if Chuck seemed to have been busted in the end, the finale set up a situation the suggested a whole new round of secrets Chuck could be keeping from Sarah.  Although I wish the situation had been a resolved immediately, I’m really pretty happy with how it played out.  Chuck did try to keep a secret, but once Sarah caught him, she demanded a “no secrets, no lies” pledge.  That was mostly honored to the end of the series.  That I find very satisfying.

Way back when we started this re-watch, I did mention that some episodes would likely just not get as much of a write-up as others.  And that’s where we are now.  I think, all things considered, Anniversary is a fairly unremarkable episode.  And we at this site have all had difficult weeks; from computer problems, to busy work schedules to family emergencies.  Perhaps it was good timing to have such issues on such an episode.  I hope some of our more ambitious readers will find themselves with more to say than I did.  But if not, that’s fine too.  We’ll try this again next week with Suitcase, one of my very favorites.

~ 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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123 Responses to Chuck vs The Anniversary (4.01)

  1. mr2686 says:

    Dave, I’ve actually been pretty much on the same page as you for the last few episodes, but for this one I’ll have to protest a little bit. This episode is not “unremarkable” (and I know you do like the episode), it is an outstanding episode. It truly fires on all cylinders and in general is an outstanding watch from beginning to end. I cannot think off hand anything I dislike about this episode, but there are so many great moments that I cannot list them all (but I’ll try).
    1. Sarah compliments Casey on suggesting they bring parachutes (a great Sarah/Casey bonding moment)
    2. Harry Dean Stanton as the repo man
    3. Dolph Lundgren’s shout out to his Ivan Drago character. (yes it’s cheesy, but that’s what’s great).
    4. Chuck and Morgan’s expensive spy trip to find Chuck’s mother (only to end up back in L.A. Special mention to their fine use of public transportation).
    5. Chuck’s job interviews (this was truly a hoot).
    6. Introduction of the Gretas.
    7. Sarah takes sexting pictures on the plane.
    8. Morgan intercepts Sarah’s text for help and thinks she’s sexting Chuck. S.O.S?…Skin on Skin?…Yes please! Do you kiss your mother with those thumbs? Totally roll on the floor moment.
    9. All roads lead back to the Buy More.
    Now, I will admit that when I look forward to the rest of the season there are lots of great episodes, but I truly think that this one matches up equally with any of those until we get to the last few in the season which are true classics in my book.

    • atcDave says:

      While I do agree about liking every one of the same things you mention MR, I guess it doesn’t get quite the same traction for me. I do enjoy the episode, but there are so many others I like better. Next week we get to one of my very favorites, and you all will have to get used to a lot of gushing, and little complaining from me. No doubt, Anniversary puts everything in a good place for the rest of this, my favorite season.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well I do understand that some people will like this one a little less than myself, but I’d be very surprised if anyone comes on here this week and absolutely hates it. It’s such a great start to a fantastic season 4, and even though the second half of season 3 was not quite as dark as the first half, this episode is to the end of season 3 what Honeymooners was to the end of the first half of season 3 (in tone more than Chuck/Sarah moments).

      • atcDave says:

        Well, I think what Honeymooners had that’s lacking here was Chuck and Sarah were actually together for most of that adventure, while they head off separate directions here. At least, that’s why Honeymooners worked better for me.

        But I agree completely we are unlikely to see a lot of very harsh words about this episode. I think it was generally well received. There were a number of viewers who disliked the lighter tone of the last two seasons of the show, but I believe most of them did not stick around to the end. And I may be one of the few who consider this the weakest link of the season. But no doubt, I’ll be pretty happy from here on out.

    • Wilf says:

      I really enjoyed the lighter tone of Seasons 4 and 5 (hey, it was meant to be a comedy, right?), although the last couple of episodes of Season 5 were certainly a very dark contrast to that, IMO.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah Wilf. One more reason I wish there had been an epilogue, to go out on a light, fun moment; like the best of Chuck.

      • mr2686 says:

        Although Chuck did not go out on a light/fun moment, the way they went out was definitely a heartfelt one. Chuck was/is something for everyone, whether it’s a comedy, spy story, drama, love story, etc etc, but one thing I think it was for everyone was a story with heart. That, for me, was enough and probably why I like the ending so much. So much in fact that I’m starting to wonder how badly they might screw that up if they put out a movie.

      • Wilf says:

        Whilst I’d just love for there to be a movie, or maybe some web-based continuation of Chuck, I have no doubt that there are many, many ways (100 or 200, a la ways in which Sarah can kill you?) in which it could be messed up. But in reality, whatever form it took, it could never fully satisfy everyone … just look at the diversity of opinion here on this blog.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think for me it’s the opposite. I would have no interest in a Chuck movie if it didn’t start more or less on the beach and show Sarah either getting her memories back or falling for him all over again.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I think a major problem is that the end just didn’t work for a lot of the fan base (maybe 30% or more?). I really think it needed a more definitive final fun moment. I’ve talked about the “minimalist” fix before (“take me home Chuck”); but I think the even better fix is another of the sort of signature group party scenes the show did so often and so well. Like a big send off party for Ellie and Devon, set a couple days after the beach, with everyone present, including a very happy and together Chuck and Sarah. Or maybe a more quiet scene at the dream house just with Chuck and Sarah entering it hand in hand.

        And I base those ideas entirely on what I wanted to see. I can intellectually accept that the ending was a happy one. But I didn’t feel it. It was too melancholy and uncertain for my taste, I needed just a little bit more.

        I am however, quite confident about a potential movie. I trust Zac as a driving force behind whatever does happen. And I trust Yvonne knows exactly what fans were wanting for both Sarah and Chuck in the end. Whoever ends up writing and producing, will have to deal with two stars who are not under contract and have full rights of refusal. So I am completely confident any future content will honor the characters nicely.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Agree with everything except your percentages. I think far more than 30% would want a satisfying ending to the love story.

        Zac’s biggest problem is getting enough fans willing to plunk down $25 (or whatever the number ends up being) in advance to fund whatever they do. I would have no interest in doing that were Chris Fedak writing the script. I simply didn’t enjoy most of the episodes I watched for free that he penned and don’t agree with the story he wants to tell.

        Fortunately, I think that the people behind the project understamd that. I agree with you that Zac and Yvonne especially understand what the base wants. Both have said it multiple times fairly plainly. So a movie wouldn’t have to be totally about the love story. But it would have to start with C/S being together. That’s what Fedak said happened. Anything that painted the ending as less than happy would be a huge mistake, IMO.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I just hesitate to commit to more than that. I am pretty confident S3 dislike was well over 30%; but for the finale, a number of viewers who disliked S3 were completely satisfied with it (like my wife and a best friend). Clearly, some of those who disliked the end, intensely disliked it. But I think a much larger number of fans were either completely or mostly satisfied.
        There were also a number of us who I think were not thrilled, but found our peace with it. Again, that’s rather different from the S3 experience, where most who disliked it just continue to do so. But I think that’s because viewers like me, didn’t get the end we wanted initially; but after careful review and analysis decided it did provide some assurance of a happy end. While S3 is pointedly uglier the closer we look at it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        See, I think a lot of this discussion is semantics. I liked the finale. I did. Parts of it were very well done. But I’m also very disappointed that they didn’t spend an extra 30 seconds and remove any ambiguity. You could put me in your 70% or 30% and either would be accurate depending on how you asked the question.

        You site your wife. For me, it’s BrickRoad. We’re not married but we often fight like we are. 🙂 She looked at the finale from a literary POV (makes sense, she’s an English major) and simply loved it. But even she wouldn’t have minded if they had gone farther and removed the ambiguity. She had no problem co-authoring The Long Road Home where we attempted to flesh out the rest of the story. In fact what made her stop writing was the horde of reviews calling Fedak an idiot (or worse).

        I still firmly believe that the love story was the biggest draw. It’s what a majority (of course not all) of the 6 million people who used to watch Chuck mainly looked for. I think for a movie to have any chance they would need to emphasize that just like the show did for 4.9 seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’re exactly on the same page with all of that. I liked the finale, I just wanted a little bit more.

        As far as the percentages go, I’m mainly trying to define those who were unhappy to the point they need an epilogue in order to accept that the end was happy at all. Its sort of a “I won’t believe until I see it” attitude. Such viewers get my complete sympathy because I myself was so frustrated and unhappy at the moment the episode ended. And I still consider it a bit rude to have ended the way they did. I still remember a co-worker who was frustrated almost to tears when I saw him the next morning. And we heard from so many viewers like that here over the course of several months after it ran. So I just have consider the story telling a failure with so many viewers apparently missing the point.
        Its those viewers I’m talking about in my 30% number.

        As far as viewers who want a happy end for Charah; yeah I’m sure its very high. I would be surprised if even 10% of this fan base wanted something dark or tragic for Chuck and Sarah. Especially those who stuck it out to the end. I think those with darker dreams didn’t make it through S4.

      • mr2686 says:

        Percentages of like vs dislike on a finale are tough because there are ALWAYS going to be people that didn’t like it (any show) just because it is the finale of a favorite show. I would be ok with a movie if they, even for a couple of minutes, show what happened between the beach and current time (as long as it’s happy) and then they can move on in Chuck style. If they leave me on the beach and take the characters to places I don’t want to go, then I’ll be upset. By the way, I know people have said they don’t want Fedak to write the movie, but some have said they don’t want him involved at all, which of course is not going to happen since he is co-creator and will at the least be a producer of the movie.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m not sure Fedak has to be or will be involved. The way I understand it, WB owns the rights. They could, in theory anyway, make a movie if they wanted too.

        Him being involved would certainly damper my enthusiasm.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not sure how all the rights and ownership are structured. As far as I know WB owns everything, but its always possible JS/CF retained some rights. And no matter who owns what, involvement levels can vary a lot. But I’m really somewhat indifferent towards CF’s involvement; just, hopefully, someone else would write.

        MR the 30% number I threw out is derived from our own polls shortly after it aired. But there are so many variables; even more than with S3, I think, because so many viewers were done with the show, and us, whether they liked it or not, as soon as the credits rolled. Also, I think the finale is a different sort of beast in that it gets better, and more upbeat, the more deeply you look at it. While the misery arc was always miserable; at least to say the deeper views of it are not significantly different in emotional tone than a more superficial look.
        Anyway, percentages are always a guess. But I think, after so many years of doing this, and both writing and conversing with so many Chuck fans and doing many polls, they aren’t totally bogus.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that your numbers are skewed. People who frequent this blog have a tendancy towards cutting the show runners a lot of slack. That comes through loud and clear in their constant defense of what I would consider indefensible. 🙂 So they would more likely be inclined to like the finale.

        My reviews are skewed the opposite way. Many people turn to facfic because they are frustrated by the show. I’d have to say that, of my reviewers, your 30% number turns to 95%.

        It’s hard to get a handle on what 6 million people want or will accept. We know that S3 wasn’t it, simply because 2 million of them went away and never returned. My guess is that was because of the way the relationship was handled. But I only have annedotal evidense of that.

        I do agree that the ending was intentionally rude. It was a middle finger payback for all of the crap that was heaped on Fedak after Mask and Fake Name. He picked a time to get even when there was no recourse. You can’t stop watching. The show is over.

      • I’m biased, because Goodbye is my favorite episode of Chuck. But it seems to me like a huge portion of EVERY show’s fanbase hates its finale – if that fanbase is still engaged. Think about Lost. And that portion of the fanbase is always more vocal than the rest.

        For myself, I always thought it was a deeply satisfying ending to the character and love story. But it was also much different than anything I thought it would be. Anytime that happens, you’ll have disagreement.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well said Arthur.
        Bill, I’m not sure if you’re serious or not about Fedak giving the fans the middle finger on the ending, but if a well made, beautiful ending is the middle finger, then flip the bird anytime.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that it depends on what you’re looking for. If you were judging based upon literary attributes, then I can see where you’d like the finale. You have plenty of company.

        But if you judge it as the final chapter in a story, like I do, then it fails miserably. I also have plenty of company.

        And yes, I’m serious. I have no way to prove it, but I seriously think this was payback for the furor over Mask.

        They had some 5 times that they wrote an episode thinking it might have been the series finale. I ask you, in what others was the love story left even a little ambiguous? I’m not counting Ring. ‘To be continued’ clearly wasn’t planning for a series finale.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t believe Fedak was intentionally rude to anyone. But I do think he tried to get cute with an Art School film project sort of ending, and for a significant number of us it was less than fully satisfying.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well Bill, and I have no way to prove this either…other than reading what Fedak thought about the finale, but to me I really believe he thought he was putting together a beautiful ending for the fans. I think he really really thought the fans would understand from all the breadcrumbs that Chuck and Sarah would be fine and get to fall in love all over again. I think by now he’s probably throwing up his hands and giving up, and honestly I can’t blame him. With that said, if you really feel that way about the ending and why the ending was done that way then I know there’s no talking you out of it. I know the uproar for the Lost ending can still be heard, as well as the Soprano’s, but I liked all three with Chuck and Lost being the top two endings in recent memory in my book.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I have no issue with those who loved the ending. God bless you. My best Chuck friend, BrickRoad is among you. I say you’re the lucky ones.

        Fedak, in post finale episodes says that C/S are currently someplace, together, happy, and planning that family. Since thiey are fictional, they really only exist in his imagination. If he says they are together and happy, what choice do we have but believe him?

        All I’m saying is that, based upon what we saw on the screen, C/S leaving that beach together was a possible outcome. But it certainly wasn’t assured. You have to go beyond what we saw to come to that conclusion. And my point remains. That isn’t true of any of his other possible series finales.

        As the conclusion of a 5 year story, it well well short for me.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Hmmm….

        I’m one of the small minority who found that the ending completely spoiled the whole series. And that’s not because I don’t think Chuck and Sarah end up together – because I do. It’s simply because I think Sarah leaves the beach with significant memory loss, which may take years to be recovered, if at all – and if I’m watching 5 years of stuff that Sarah doesn’t much remember, then what’s the point? I haven’t been able to get past that – and I’ve barely watched any Chuck episodes since the finale as a result.

        And yes, that can still make me pretty angry 18 months on, if I let it. I’ve never watched a finale that made me feel like that before, and it sucks that it happened on what was once my favourite show. But for all that, I don’t think for a second that Fedak was giving me – or anyone – a middle finger. He didn’t personally set out to p*ss me off. It’s just unfortunate that he did. But it is characteristic of Fedak that there’s often a disconnect between the ideas that he thinks are great, and what large parts of his fanbase thinks are great. It happened in S3 – and I say that as someone who liked S3. It happened again with the finale. And it happened, in a smaller way, with the various interviews he did over the years, where we would roll our collective eyes and go “what are you thinking??”

        I’ve come to accept it as part of Fedak’s DNA as a writer. I don’t know enough about writing for TV to know why that disconnect happens with him, but my 5 years of Chuck experience tells me unequivocally that it does. There are going to be some ideas that are brilliant, and some that, frankly, make me wonder why I watch at all. So the question then becomes – knowing that, does the good outweigh the bad? For me, having lost my entire investment in Chuck over the ending, the answer is no, it does not. So I won’t be watching any more Fedak shows, and I’d be reluctant to watch any Chuck movie that he was deeply involved in. But others will come out on a much more favourable side of that equation.

        As for what percentage of the 6 million liked or disliked stories or episodes? My guess is that the vast majority did what I do when I’m a casual viewer – they watched, and pretty much forgot about it half an hour later. By definition, if we’re posting on blogs or reading/reviewing fanfic, we are not “normal” fans and our level of feeling and involvement – for good or bad – is going to be greatly amplified.

      • atcDave says:

        Very well put Kev. We’ve encountered so many viewers with similar reactions. You and I don’t quite agree on either S3 or the finale, but our assessment of Fedak is very similar.

      • oldresorter says:

        I felt bad about the beach scene because of the season long tease about what a happy ending might feel like, kids, dogs, picket fences, red doored houses, etc. That made Sarah not recognizing her past with Chuck completely mean spirited, as the tease was taken away by the writer’s pen.

        The ending on the beach was a C ending for me however, vs the amnesia story, which I considered a F-. I probably could have lived with a few minutes of amnesia, much like I could live and forgive the stupid concept of 2-3 months or more apart in the Anniversay ep, and lying the whole while. But when a comedy with little or no substance abuses its own charachters like the beating shaw gave sarah for an entire ep in the christmas ep from hell, or the amnesia the writers gave Sarah for two eps to end the series with their own interpretation of a love letter, that is simply mean. The C ending on the beach was not enough, for how viscious the F- plot was toward the character, and the fans.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Exactly, OS.

        They spent an entire season setting up something, then out of left field came up with a memory loss plot. It was mean. IMO, it was intentional.

      • atcDave says:

        I think CF knew where he was heading from the very start of the season. The Morgansect arc foreshadows the amnesia arc quite well, and Morgan’s recovery is exactly how I think Sarah’s is meant to be (complete recovery of mature personality, values, and relationships quickly; some specific memories taking longer).

        Of course that still doesn’t make the end any better. It’s just in hindsight I can see what he was trying to do, perhaps that’s why I ultimately tolerate the end better than S3. But I still think it should have been more clear.

  2. oldresorter says:

    I loved the episode too MR. A loved the season too Dave.

    One thing about an ugly beginning, in Chuck, that’s OK, as long as the ugliness pays off in the same episode. In the case of the first few minutes of stupidity with Morgan and Chuck seemingly spending half a year belching and farting while Sarah and Casey are off being real spies, at the end of the day (literally) I only had to watch the bad for a few minutes before the good stuff starting coming. And ‘Oh Boy’, the good was really, really good.

    Only one thing disappointed me about this ep, and that was, based on how season 3 ended, I had hopes (maybe interest in would be a better way to describe my spec) that Chuck would take over as Orion. I even spec’d out that Chuck might keep his activity secret from everyone else, and at times be up against Sarah and Casey and ‘himself’, while Chuck and Sarah led a perfectly normal life at home. If written by a master story teller, I think such a story could have lasted an arc, and been quite thrilling and entertaining.

    But Chuck was not lucky enough to have a master story teller, so season 4 did the right thing and played things safe. I appreciated season 4 a great deal. Too bad the show didn’t end at season 4, as season 5 turned out to be a mess.

    • atcDave says:

      I do completely agree Jason about how nice it is when things are resolved quickly. And I think that’s a huge part of why I do mostly like Anniversary. But as I said, it’s that suggestion that this took several months to play out (the whole off season?) that I don’t like. It’s more a mood or a feeling for the first part of the episode. I love the last 20 minutes or so, and I love the whole season ahead.

    • authorguy says:

      More likely Ellie would be the one to take over as Orion. Chuck didn’t have the same skills.

      • oldresorter says:

        interesting. Chuck becoming Orion was a pretty common spec on the net. I’m pretty sure several people here bantied that theory about which I tended to think ‘might’ be OK, even though I was always more wanting a Chuck and Sarah vs the world, I think I always knew that isn’t the show the writer wanted. I suppose both Chuck and Orion had intersects, Chuck was sort of a spy, and Chuck had access to Orion’s liar. But as far as being a brain doc, Ellie’s is your man, isn’t she?

      • authorguy says:

        In S4 she gets Orion’s laptop and fixes his code to make it more compatible with the human brain, thus enabling the Gretas and all the other downloads to people who weren’t as special as Chuck, so if anyone was going to be my new Orion it would be her.
        Plus the fact that I’ve already written several stories where she was the next Orion, so…yeah.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think it depends on what we think Orion was. If he was mainly the inventor of the Intersect, Ellie would be a good choice.

        But I always saw Orion as fighting a secret war. He was the master of technology. He had the magic armband that Chuck used so effectively in Ring (whatever happened to that?) In that way, Chuck was better suited. In fact, if you wanted to tell the heroes story, Chuck taking over his dad’s secret war would have been a powerful story. With Sarah (the new Frost) by his side.

      • The wrist computer is one of those marvelous gizmos that disappeared from the show. Chuck used it to get into the air vent, but when he came out in the Intersect room it was gone and never seen again. One of several plot points that, had the writers had an ounce of smarts (or perhaps, been allowed to use it), could have been used to tell a much better story in S3. I sometimes wonder how many of the gizmos they whipped up in the first two seasons were dropped simply because they made telling the story too easy, when it wasn’t the story they wanted to tell.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Ellie actually could be a more different sort of Orion (Neurologist and all); while Chuck is a closer, direct match.
        In the end, it seems like Ellie’s slightly different skills were better for fixing what was wrong with their father’s work.

      • anthropocene says:

        Neither of them has the complete skill set, I would suggest. In my “S6” fanfic they’re working collaboratively—in keeping with the way most science and engineering research is done now, whether at universities or corporate and government labs. Ellie (MD, PhD neurology) has the “wetware” expertise and is actually licensed to study the brain; Chuck (BS electrical engineering/computer science) does the software and electronics. Carmichael Industries is funding the research so Ellie need not draw attention to the work by having to apply to government funding agencies.

      • That’s why I rehabilitated Manoosh they way I did. He and Ellie are the new Orion, while Chuck is the lab rat and Sarah is the Agent.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Manoosh’s magic Intersect glasses. Another thing that was never heard of again.

      • As well as Manoosh himself. He’s a very rehabilitatable character. Lots of fanfic writers put him to work. His version of the glasses were another little gizmo that would have skewed the story away from the one they wanted to tell. I don’t know if they ever used the twilight darts again either.

      • anthropocene says:

        But Chuck was the one Stephen called “a genius.”

      • authorguy says:

        And that means what, that Ellie can’t be one? I admit that I’m just coming down off a long story where she was doing that work, but also, almost everything they showed Orion doing was using his genius to cleverly escape capture, or work on the Intersect/Governor for Chuck’s sake. I admit Chuck was good at the former, but they showed a lot more of the latter and that just screams Ellie at me.

      • anthropocene says:

        I don’t think Ellie could use a soldering iron. But again, I think both Bartowski siblings complement each other in this work and are both driven to play a role in it.

      • authorguy says:

        I don’t think so either, which is why I teamed her up with Manoosh for the EE stuff in my story. In a more canon universe Chuck would most likely do that part. It’s kind of hard for me to think in terms of canon anymore, after this last year.

      • anthropocene says:

        Anything’s possible in a hypothetical season 6.

    • I’m mixed on the Orion thing (though the beginning of this ep was great!) It would’ve been cool to see Chuck step into his father’s shoes. That’s why Push Mix is one of my top 10.

      But they made a pretty big point of differentiating Chuck from his dad. Ultimately, his parents tore their family apart to keep it safe. Chuck decided that staying with his family and weathering the storms together was the best way to live. Thematically, it would’ve been kind of odd to see Chuck stepping into his father’s professional life after he ultimately rejected Steven’s personal decisions.

  3. BillAtWork says:

    I probably judge such things differently than most. There isn’t a single episode of the show that doesn’t have some moments where I wince. And there are plenty in this episode. The whole Chuck / Morgan plot was silly. The head of the NSA acting as a Buy More Manager?

    But I judge episodes based upon how many times I laugh or get a tingle in my spine. And Morgan sexting with Sarah was (okay maybe a tad creepy) funny. And I got several tingles. I loved that C/S came across as a mature couple, knowing that they had to be apart for a while, but both genuinely missing the other. I also enjoyed the maturation of the Casey and Sarah relationship. Sarah finally felt comfortable enough to overtly teasing.

    But the scene that gets the episode a thumbs up IMO is when Sarah thinks that Chuck has just been killed. Agent Walker was actually crying in the middle of a mission over a personal issue. But best was when Chuck came over the radio and stated that “if you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head…” It one of my favorite scenes of the series. Better yet was that Sarah heard it. Apperntly Casey’s hair was fair game. 🙂

    • atcDave says:

      I mostly agree Bill. I tend to be critical and see things I think could be improved on in most episodes. But it’s not always a big deal. Especially if I like the main characters and the decisions they make, I will likely be pretty enthused. And those decisions may be exactly why the ending of this episode gets high marks from me, while the opening is a little shaky.
      Obviously the humor matters a lot to me. I found this show very funny right from the Pilot, and that remained a huge part of its charm to the very end. Although when the mood turns dark (most of S3) I don’t feel like laughing much, and attempts at humor may become counter- productive, but for most of the series it was skillfully done. And Anniversary is an excellent example of that.

  4. Ah, we’re finally here. Season 4 is where Chuck went from being a show that I liked to my favorite show ever. And I’m with Mr. on this episode; it’s pretty terrific on its own merit. He covered most of my points, but I haven’t seen anybody else bring this up:

    The way they mirrored (character) Chuck’s money struggles with (show) Chuck’s money struggles was one of the writers’ more enlightened moments. It’s an awesome way to kick off a season in which they had almost no money to make a spy show: by having their spy avoid all of the traditional methods of spying and thrive instead on his own quirky solutions. As a show, Chuck has always mirrored its titular character’s stages, but they really hit it on the nose here.

    That theme of show mirroring character continues throughout this season and episode, which is why Anniversary is one of my favorites: it’s a breath of fresh air after season 3, that successfully resets the style of storytelling. Gone is the angst between him an Sarah, or the questions of their committment to each other, or Chuck’s immaturity as a spy. Anniversary announces a Chuck (show and character) that’s finally comfortable in his/its own shoes. Chuck, spy or not, knows who he is now: he’s a grown man trying rebuild a family that’s been broken his entire life.

    And the show knows where it is too: it’s main characters love each other unconditionally. Morgan is the bumbling spy. Casey has finally found a home. All roads lead to the Buy More. Chuck is the rare show that actually benefits from having less drama – it forces the show to lean on its greatest strength (the cast). They’ve gone from disparate people forced together by circumstance to a disfunctional family with each other’s best interests in mind.

    If Anniversary were episode 3.16 or something, I wouldn’t care about it. But as a season kickoff, it’s casually representative everything above, something that makes me grow fonder and fonder of it with time.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely agree about S4 being my favorite season. And Anniversary, at least by the end of it, sets the whole season up nicely. But other than that, I find it just a vague taste of the greatness ahead. I would say it starts weak and ends strong, making it a sort of transition from S3 to S4 in more ways than one.

      Very interesting observation about the parallels between Chuck and Morgan as spies, and the show itself. Clever.

  5. resaw says:

    And now for something completely different… I thought season 3 was the last great season of Chuck. Season 4 was at best a disappointment for me. Although there certainly were highlights, and Chuck remained “appointment TV” for me right down to the series finale, a lot of the time this season really fell flat. I just didn’t get that there was a sufficient level of tension in the show to drive the story forward. Linda Hamilton started out okay in this first episode, but I found her to be a far from compelling figure, even though I understood Chuck’s desire to find her. She was the wooden feminine version of Daniel Shaw in season 4.

    Maybe I just don’t get all that excited about the pop culture references. I was not a fan of the Terminator series of movies so Linda Hamilton’s connection to an iconic movie did not thrill me, nor did her connection to the late 1980s version of Beauty and Beast. Harry Dean Stanton as the Repo Man was silly, and the Gretas, starting with an exceedingly brief and dull cameo by Olivia Munn, shapely legs and short tight skirt notwithstanding were a gimmick that did not work in my view.

    Chuck’s rationale for keeping the search for his mom a secret from both Sarah and Ellie just made no sense to me. I’m glad that Sarah extricated the a promise from Chuck to keep a new rule: “No secrets, no lies.” I also fail to see why the search for his mother had to be conducted as a CIA spy. Granted, Beckman wasn’t taking no for an answer on that point, but the search could be done independently of the CIA, just as his father had searched as a freelancer for years. I like the idea of Chuck and Ellie together picking up the Orion mantle to search for their one remaining parent. If only Chuck had the common sense to speak to her about the search.

    Oh, how long are we to understand Chuck and Sarah were apart, while they were on their respective missions? My understanding from this episode was that it was several weeks, if not 2-3 months. If I were meeting my sweetheart after that long an absence, any hesitancy about PDA would be me more than overcome by a deep desire to hug her and kiss her and hold her close. Sarah and Chuck’s kiss was just a bit too perfunctory for me.

    On to some things I liked:
    The montage of Chuck and Morgan globetrotting using public transportation was very effective, and I liked how it was presented as a clever technique (rather than a financial limitation) by “master spies” per Marco;
    Sarah and Casey jumping in total confidence from the skyscraper was a cool scene;
    I was glad to see a very brief visual reference to the governor in Chuck’s case of spinning watches. I don’t recall that figuring in the series at all after that brief shot;
    The job interviews were silly but in a funny enjoyable way;
    General Beckman as the Buy More managers added a funny note;
    I liked how Chuck showed himself to be very much in control of himself and the situation in Moscow, even in the decision to trigger the EMP.

    The conversation about a Chuck movie: I hope they will start from the beach and give me more hope than I got from the finale, and then fulfill that hope in a great story about Chuck and Sarah. I have to say that I would like to see Fedak and Schwartz involved at least somewhat in the movie. Whether or not there were elements that you or I did not like in the series, these two were the show’s creators and at a minimum, a movie should have some sort of symbolic blessing from them.

    • authorguy says:

      If they were involved in a movie it should only be as observers to how something like that ought to be done.

    • You know, I’ve been in a long distance relationship where it was about that long between the times we saw each other. That kiss seemed about accurate. That kind of separation always seemed to create some minor mental space at the very beginning.

      10 minutes later? We’d be pressed against each other like we were being crushed in a Star Wars dumpster. But it took a minute, and we weren’t dealing with me being forced into the CIA by a US general at any of those times.

  6. Dave says:

    A very good episode at the start of my almost favorite season. I think the story and lack of angst places it first, but the budget issues and overall production quality is less than S2, so usually S2 barely edges out S4 based solely on production quality.

    I didn’t care for the Repo guy scene, pointless. I also did not care for Chuck hiding things from Sarah. Otherwise, I liked this one …a lot.

    The whole sexting schtick was a hoot (even if Morgan sexting Sarah was a little creepy, I mean boundaries, really), Sarah and Casey on the plane to Venezuela was outstanding and the whole Moscow sequence was pure gold. When Sarah and Casey thought Chuck was dead and their reactions were quite good. Yvonne and Adam did great in that sequence.

    About the time, I don’t get how everyone thinks they’ve been apart for months. Casey and Sarah have been working a case for months and Sarah is chapped because she has to leave again so soon. I took it more as Sarah and Chuck have been apart from time to time (Sarah on “business trips”) but not continuously. The “6-slash-nine month anniversary” means 3 months between Other Guy and the end of Role Models. Next week we’ll see it has been 2 months between Anniversary and Suitcase.

    Good episode to start a good season.

    • You hit the nail on the head with the difference between seasons 2 & 4. From any sane, objective critical measure, 2 was better. It had more money to work with, the character drama was at its peak, and it had yet to bump into the show’s limitations the way Season 3 did.

      But there’s just something about season 4 that makes it special. It’s forced to lean on the cast, which was always the best thing about the show. And unlike season 2, the characters of season 4 know that they’re a family, and that they’ll all put their lives on the line to ensure each other’s happiness.

      A lot of people like this show because of the romance, or Chuck, or the hero story… for me, the really special part of Chuck starts with the complete lack of cynicism in its approach to the bonds between Chuck’s extended family (Morgan and Casey included). It seems like everything on modern TV has some actively dark component to it, and Chuck (except 3.0) just doesn’t. At its core, Chuck’s just a show about good people who would rather die than hurt one another. Well, except for Lester 🙂

      They begin to discover that in season 2 (and lose it in 3), but in Season 4, that family bond (love, really) is just the setting. There have been better, funnier, and more dramatic shows than Chuck, but I’ve never had a happier or warmer TV experience than this season.

      • atcDave says:

        Very good observations Arthur about the differences between S2 and S4; and you think you hit the nail on the head for most of that. I guess that I’m one who would rank the romance ahead of other issues, but the family and friends angle is a very close second. And I agree entirely about the darkness and cynicism that are so prevalent on modern television. Chuck was a breath of fresh air.

      • mr2686 says:

        Season’s 2 and 4 are equally great in my book. I like both for different reasons. Of course, that’s not to say that 1, 3 and 5 are not a close second. 🙂

      • Dave says:

        Arthur, atcDave

        Yes, the story of S4 was much more to my liking than the angst of S2, but the S2 angst was pretty soft and well done. Like I said the production quality alone lifts S2 above S4. If S4 had had the money it would have been far and away the best.

        I find when I go back for casual viewing of an episode, I always seem to gravitate to an episode between 3.13 and 5.09 (except for 4.19, Muuurder!). Despite the budget issues, that range is still my go to area for viewing enjoyment. It seems that C&S getting together has lessened the pleasure from S1 and S2, is that weird?

      • atcDave says:

        I also tend to favor the later episodes now, but I watched S1 and S2 like crazy back when they were current.
        And I’d have to say I thought S2 was dynamite, that is when I first started calling Chuck the best thing ever. But in the back of my mind, that was always contingent on them arriving at something like S4. Those two seasons compliment each other for maximum effect.
        I also think VERY highly of S1 and S5. Really, I loved this show from start to end; except for the misery arc in the middle.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I have a hard time with choosing a favorite season. There are points in almost every episode (mid S3 being the exception) that make me squee (I know, real men don’t squee 🙂 ). But There are also points in every episode where I want to throw something at the TV in disgust and wonder if the writer had every seen the show before.

        I think I would have liked the original 13 episodes of S2. But the other 9 that they clearly shoe horned in kinda spoiled it. Some of the transitions were so jarring. Tell me what Chuck was wishing for at the end of Tom Sawyer. The very next scene. I mean the very next freaking scene he’s listening to a Jill mix tape and pining for her.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        We’re on the same page. I did watch S2 a lot after it came out. I remember I got it, pre-order from Amazon, on Jan 6 and powered through before the premiere of S3 on Jan 10. S3 was so bad, I almost wore out my S2 DVDs during the misery arc.

    • joe says:

      I’m with Dave and, um, Dave here. Great observations.

      More apologies – my PC is not yet quite fixed. Soon. Thanks for carrying the load here, Dave. Commandeering Mrs. Joe’s PC remains awkward. And I don’t mean marriage wise. I’ve been using Fedora and a Dvorak keyboard layout for so long that Windows and QWERTY are a bit weird to me now! Go figure.

      I agree pretty much with the gist of both Daves – Anniversary is great for large parts, like Moscow, Chuck taking out 10 Russian baddies (Too young to be ex-KGB I suppose. I’m guessing they were Volkoff mercenaries) and the sexting jokes work for me (thanks to Josh). Sarah’s reaction is memorable! The Buy More with Beckman in charge and the intro to Mary are spot on. Things that linger in my memory are some of the flaws, though. The production qualities are noticeably off from previous seasons and The Repo Man didn’t do much for me either. Fairly minor stuff.

      I understand completely what Dave was getting at in the review. This could easily be the worst of S4 (at least, for some), and it’s still lots of fun to re-watch. That’s pretty impressive

      • atcDave says:

        We’re glad you could Western Union something in Joe, in spite of ‘puter problems!

        It does seem odd to be calling an episode I basically like as the “worst” of the season. But that really is how it is. I think that also speaks to how strong S4 is. It may not have as many outstanding episodes as S2, but it doesn’t have any turkeys either. We could probably spill a lot of ink comparing and contrasting those two seasons.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, doing an analysis of season 2 vs season 4 might be something fun to do after we get through season 5. Heck, we have to have something to do until the movie comes out. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely MR. We may have a year or so to fill with idle discussion, but we’re up to the challenge!

      • Mr, I was going to say the exact same thing (but instead went to sleep). I’d be interested in looking at the median episode (quality-wise) of each season. I have a feeling that people would prefer the high moments of 2, but the median of 4 (and maybe even 5)

      • Dave says:

        Joe

        S4 was the most…”stable” I guess. There were 6-7 stand outs and only one dud (Muuurder, after Sarah’s entertaining reaction to the new nerds, especially brodie, the rest was blech for me), but there were quite a few episodes where some very good stuff was attached to some very not-good stuff (e.g. Cubic Z, Balcony, etc.). None were bad enough to make a dud, but there are small segments I’d just as well ff through, but the good parts of these eps was so good I can’t pass it up.

        Anniversary was one of those good solid episodes for me. When it first aired a lot of folks on another board I won’t name (IMdB), really didn’t like it. For me, the more I watched it the more I liked it.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Although the “general” tone of the show returned in S4, both Chuck and Sarah were portrayed as much more competent spies and human beings in S2. They were “deeper” characters in S2 then after all the “growth” of S4.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s my theory that getting the back 9 order so late in the process caused them to shoe horn some episodes in the middle of the story they planned on telling. Most of those episodes stick out like a sore thumb. So if my guess at what the original 13 were is correct, it would have been hands down the best season. First Date, Seduction, Cougers, DeLorean, Santa, Dream Job, Colonel, etc are among the best of the series.

        Season 4 had some clunkers. I wasn’t wild about Fear of Death. And I disliked Gobbler quite a lot. I liked First Fight but the story is incredible. The whole Vivian Volkoff arc wasn’t very well done. But also, perhaps the #1 episode of the series was in S4, Phase III. One of the key moments in the whole series was when Sarah recognized that she was different without Chuck, and she didn’t like herself that way.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Oops – “growth” of S3.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, I’ll defend every one of those episodes you guys just described as duds; Gobbler is the only episode I have any issues with (Sarah didn’t do enough to distinguish herself from Mary) after Anniversary.
        S2 had Ex, Sensei, and Beefcake; ALL of which I’d rank below anything in S4. But S2 also had that dynamite front five, then DeLorean, Best Friends and Colonel of which only Suitcase, Phase Three, Seduction Impossible and Wedding Planner are quite on that same high level.

        Unfortunately, I think at this point it would be too difficult to do any more surveys. Our readership is but a pale shadow of what it once was (sorry guys!). We’ll just have to opine with no restraint.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Arthur, Here are the season by season ratings. There is a lot of discussion in general about the seasons here and here.

        PS Yeah, haven’t been around much, but I can smell a request for statistics.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh Bill I would add, I think showing episodes out of order greatly exaggerated any unevenness in S2. If we watch it in correct order (as we did for this re-watch) with Best Friend after 3-D but before Suburbs the rhythm is much smoother; going from cautious acceptance at the end of 3-D, to more warmth at the end of Best Friend, to Suburbs starting awkward (Chuck/Sarah both like each other, but aren’t sure of the rules) then ending with a bucket of cold water (Sarah trying to reassert professionalism), heading into Beefcake where Chuck is discouraged, while Sarah plays like nothing’s wrong…
        Putting Best Friend in out of order really made a mess of things (order was switched after a press conference caused pre-emption, and they wanted to keep Suburbs on Valentine’s Day, big mistake).

        Anyway, I agree with your first example that Chuck’s depression at the start of Ex seems inappropriate. But I think the later unevenness is accidental. The back nine order came fairly early (right about the time production started) so I don’t think it was a major part of the problem. A few of the Stand Alones (Best Friend, Broken Heart?) might have been inserted late in the game, and the finale arc might have been extended an episode or two, but I don’t really see any obvious problems.
        The back order for S4 came a little later in the process (several front arc episodes were already in the can) so I think they made the best decision of doing a mostly independent back arc.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree that showing them out of order hurt.

        But some of those episodes plainly weren’t in the original 13. Suburbs, Beefcake, and Lethal Weapon IMO were shoe horned. So was Tom Sawyer. That led to the jarring sequence of Chuck wishing for Sarah on the evening star and then pining for Jill in the very next scene. Because that wasn’t the original story.

        I’m not sure about the Jill arc. Schwedak claim it was in the plans for S1 had the strike not ended it early. But their lips were moving when they said it, so I’m not sure. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        There’s a lot of those “originally intended” comments we’ve heard, I’m not sure how seriously to take most. The scariest to me is the comment that S1 was supposed to end with Devon exposed as a spy and killed; and it was supposed to be the Mauser ending, Sarah shooting an unarmed prisoner. Super scary thought, what if they meant Sarah would kill Devon?!
        It’s possible I would have quit the show right there!

      • BillAtWork says:

        There were lots of points where S2 just didn’t make sense. It’s pretty plain that some episodes were inserted. In Breakup, Chuck tells Sarah that she would never be normal enough for him. Yet the very next time we see him in Cougars, he is back pining for her.

        Then we have Tom Saywer where Sarah is clearly pining back and they have that romantic final scene. Followed by the closest they ever came to mutually admitting ILY pre Colonel. DeLorean and Santa (two of my very favorites). Except the Jill arc is right in the middle of that. It didn’t make any story sense.

        I do think they were able to tweak some of the later episodes. First Kill is IMO a back nine addition. But Sarah’s decision to run with Chuck had to happen or Colonel wouldn’t have made sense.

      • mr2686 says:

        Well, as far as season 4 goes, I think the only weak episode is Muuurder. I happen to like Gobbler a lot, as well as Fear of Death so I’m sure we’re in for a lively discussion in the future. As for season 2, I’m not much on the Jill episodes, although I don’t dislike them (or any episode for that matter) and Dream Job has never been one of my favorites.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dream Job? Really? I thought some of it dragged. But Chuck in the interview trying to sit on the bean bag chair made me lol. And the end where dad reveals himself to Chuck as Orion and trying to remove the Intersect from Chuck using Fulcrum’s cube was perhaps the most tense, exciting part of the series. It doesn’t rewatch well though because we now know that Orion had a lab under his basement so most of it doesn’t make sense.

      • joe says:

        I’m baa-aaack! The ‘puter is back up and running with Fedora and I’m hurriedly going through one metric schload of e-mails, Facebook status updates and comic strips that I’ve missed these two weeks. Now, the weather…

        Okay, I’ll spare you. Seeing as I’m one of those who generally cut TPTB a lot of slack (really! Really, I do!) BillAtWork’s comment above caught my eye. My take is slightly different – I recognize that some episodes play like stand-alones, and add little to the story line. In a way, they do stick out, with Muuurder being the prime example. But it struck me immediately as an experiment and treat for the cast and fans, to deliberate do a murder-mystery genre episode. Buffy did that to an extreme with the musical, right? The extra long season gave them a chance to play around a bit like that, as opposed to shoe-horn in a random script-line.

        My other thought is that 24 episodes in one season now seems very long. But wasn’t 26 episodes the standard not too long ago? What’s up with that? Hum?

        Arthur, I like your idea that the highs of S2 are the highest and the median of S4 the highest. It works for me that way.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Joe,

        I don’t mind the stand alone episodes. In fact, I think that the show suffered when they switched from stand alone episodes to try and tell a serial story. Because I don’t believe that serial story was planned properly.

        I enjoyed Tom Saywer. I’m just saying that the consecutive scenes of Chuck wishing for Sarah on a star and then pining for Jill was jarring. As was the consecutive scenes of Chuck telling Sarah she’d never be normal enough for him, then pining for her and trying to find out details about her. And I think that some of that was TPTB having to scramble and fit 9 more episodes into the season while telling basically the same story.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no problem with stand alone episodes, actually, I often prefer them. Murrrder is not a favorite, but I have no problems with it either. I’m also mostly fine with Fear of Death, I thought Rye was very funny. Gobbler makes me a little angry.
        The coming write ups will be fun!

        But I will completely agree with the idea S2 had the largest number of great episodes, while S4 had the highest median level.

        Joe we watch a lot of older series, and I’d say its really hard to come up with an average number of episodes. There’s a time honored tradition of networks adding to an order, that results in clips episodes, or episodes with a main character oddly missing (scheduling conflicts I imagine). We were recently watching Maverick which is a funny case; the network wanted more, but production time was slow (due to a more cinematic style) so they added a “brother” who would alternate as the main character (James Garner was already overworked and couldn’t do more!)
        But all that said, the norm did used to be more episodes, most often 24. They also were often longer; 50 minutes until the 80s, then gradually getting shorter. Now it’s 43 minutes for the networks, 41 minutes for basic cable.

      • atcDave says:

        MR you better watch it criticizing Dream Job! When we did our write up I called it the weakest of the finale arc and was severely taken to task!

      • mr2686 says:

        I will say that Dream Job does have some strong moments, but for me, as soon as Chuck jumps up on that stage it hits bottom and can’t fully recover. Even with that, it’s still not the weakest of season 2, that belongs to Ex, but both of those as well as Muuurder have grown on me with each rewatch. Just not enough to move them up the list.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, the ‘Chuck jumping on the stage’ was ackward. I’ll give you that. But the weakest of S2 for me is easily Beefcake. And not for the obvious reasons. They made Chuck look pathetic all the way down the line. The angst was so predictable that it felt contrived.

      • atcDave says:

        My three weak ones from S2 remain Ex, Sensei and Beefcake. But I agree Ex has actually moved up in my esteem, the other two seem weaker than ever.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I actually liked Sensei. Some of it was admittedly silly. But most episodes have their ‘wince’ moments for me.

        I enjoyed the scenes where Casey and Sarah defined their relationship. It was always Casey that criticized Sarah for allowing her feelings to affect her judgement. I liked how Sarah was able to turn that around on him. Casey’s feelings were affecting his performance.

      • mr2686 says:

        Sensei has always been top of the lower 3rd episodes for me, but I like Beefcake probably because Jonathan Cake really brings it up a notch. And of course, who could forget Morgan’s “low hanging fruit”. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Like all non-S3 episodes, there are always some good moments. But Sensei I consider the first ever appearance of buffoon Chuck, I really dislike that.
        And I find Beefcake just insulting. Chuck acts like a moron early, and Sarah shows an uncharacteristic lack of faith in him. And yeah, all actions can be “justified”, but its just completely not the show I tune in to watch. Miserable episode. Easily my least favorite apart from the misery arc.
        Ironically, I like Lethal Weapon quite a lot.

      • mr2686 says:

        Not so sure her lack of faith is uncharacteristic. From early episodes of “stay in the car” up until “no, you’re not a spy” in Fear of Death”, she always been over protective bordering on a lack of faith. Anyway, I kinda group Beefcake and Lethal Weapon as one long episode which is probably why I’m higher on it than you.

      • oldresorter says:

        My big ‘beef’ with the Cole arc is I feel like those eps were a test case for season 3’s Shaw arc. I think in the writer’s mind, controversy was desireable, within some limits that s2 passed, and that misery was required to pay off the good even better – i.e. the Colonel’s success.

        Looking back, and tying into Anniversary, ideas fans don’t all like are to be expected and fans can weather ideas, as long as not allowed to fester for too long. If the first 10-20 minutes of Anniversary last 4 eps (say like Morgansect) or 12 eps (say like the misery arc), that would be too long. Shaw’s beating Sarah for an ep didn’t upset anyone seemingly but me, had Shaw beaten Sarah senseless for 3 or 4 eps while Chuck was burping and farting with Morgan and worried about Ellie, that wouldn’t have been much fun for anyone. Sarah not recognizing the Chuck she came to know and love, that lasted two eps, or forever, depending on one’s POV, and if you take the latter POV, that is definitely too long.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I saw it as very uncharacteristic for her not to believe in his tech abilities! But no doubt, the whole episode just rubbed me wrong from the start. I had a whole laundry list of complaints back when we reviewed it. Although I can see how if you just lump it with Lethal Weapon it becomes far better.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, that’s the weird thing about Chuck. The show can be interpreted different ways. I never thought that Sarah was questioning Chuck’s tech ability. It wasn’t a question of could he, but that he shouldn’t do it…and of course, it was proven later in the episode why he shouldn’t. I will defend to the death most things Chuck, but what I will admit to is that the show often, either by writing or by editing, makes the viewer fill in some blanks. That can be somewhat dangerous as it could take a viewer to one of many places, some of which they don’t care or want to go. I think it’s a byproduct of trying to do too much with a story or episode with the time allotted. It’s kinda like Goodbye. It took me where I wanted to go, so I’m great with it. Others went to another place and hated it. Then there were some that could see both places and felt cheated without a definitive answer.

      • Hold up. Sensei is a solid-ass episode. First of all, Chuck’s pep talk to Casey is one of my 40 or so top-10 moments of the series. 🙂 Admit it, John Casey. You love me!

        Plus, it’s one of the better moments of the Chuck-Casey relationship as an episode. Pretty much every time Chuck is on screen, it’s hilarious (his botched attempt to follow the sensei is another favorite). It’s definitely somewhere in my middle third, maybe top half.

        Ernie, it’s interesting that Goodbye and Sarah are two of the top 3 for S5. Much as I loved them, I wouldn’t have guessed that. Also, as much as we talk about Goodbye, vs. Sarah was an incredible episode. It definitely had me more on the edge of my seat than any other episode I can remember. Ellie crashing her car was more dramatic to me than even Steven’s death. And everything between that and the house… I wasn’t a fan of the dark turn in S3, but vs. Sarah was the best job Chuck ever did with that.

        If Goodbye had ended on a more obviously happy note, I think people would talk about Sarah more.

      • atcDave says:

        Sensei is actually one of the lowest rated episodes ever (per our polls) that didn’t involve a triangle, right down there with 3D. I don’t hate it, and it has some good moments, but its not one I ever go out of my way to re-watch. Like I said, its the debut of Buffoon Chuck.

        I do think Sarah and Goodbye were both solid episodes, and might be considered one of the all time great series finales, if only that end had been a little more definitive.

      • mr2686 says:

        You’re right, Sensei is a very solid episode. I put it in the top of my bottom 3rd but that means there are about 30 episodes below it. After my bottom 3 or 4 (and I like those a lot as well) all episodes are solid in my book. Most of the time the difference between the top 15 and the rest is that those 15 seem to work on all fronts. The romance, comedy, B-story, etc. Chuck’s pep talk to Casey in Sensei is definitely a top moment.

      • atcDave says:

        According to the poll Ernie linked above; outside of the misery arc, only Fear of Death and Murrrder ranked below Sensei. And for myself, I’d actually rank both of those episodes higher.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Arthur, I think even people who hate the ending can recognize the quality in both Sarah and Goodbye. I still recall Thinkling’s first comment “great episodes, lousy finale”. Even with the Sarah Darkometer turned to full blast they managed to pull off some great comedic scenes in Sarah.

        MR, Sensei never moved the dial much either way for me.

        Dave, you’ll have to forgive me (again) but I actually think FoD and Muuuurder are great episodes

        So, on the season 2/season 4 comparison, I already linked to our seasonal mean ratings, but just for fun a few factoids. Of the top 10 rated episodes 5 are from season 2 and 2 from season 4. Of the top 20, 7 from season 2, 5 from season 4, and from the top 30 11 from season 2, 7 from season 4. On the other side, of the bottom 30, 10 are from season 4, 4 from season 2. For all seasons the average rating is 3.74 with a standard deviation of 0.57. For season 2, 15 of 22 episodes are above the average, for season 4, 13 of 24 are above average.

        S1 3.89 0.39
        S2 3.96 0.56
        S3 3.45 0.69
        S4 3.69 0.53
        S5 3.71 0.48

        All 3.74 0.57

      • mr2686 says:

        FOD is a great episode, but Muuurder?…That’s probably number 91 in my book, and at best it would be maybe 89, although again there are some great moments but I don’t want to rehash yet.

      • It’ll come up soon enough, but I liked Murder. In particular, they opened up a great gambit on Chuck’s way of thinking they should’ve kept going. A-Team, on the other hand, I absolutely hate.

      • atcDave says:

        Gee, I liked all of those!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I liked A-Team. How can you not?

        Sarah… Sarah?

        Do you think he’s gone lone wolf on us?

        Yeah, that’s it, prowling around the streets at night, administering vigilante justice. I mean, come… Actually, that’s, that’s entirely plausible.

        I mean we’re not spying on Casey, we’re watching his back.

        Or we chop off Casey’s hand.

        Let’s keep that as our backup plan, shall we?

        Clever Girl…

        It looks like it was made by a small child. … Oh, right.

        Clairvoyant Jeff, Jana, Chuck as the Pilsbury Doughboy, what more could you want from an episode?

      • atcDave says:

        Great stuff, but then I pretty much love all of S4.

  7. mr2686 says:

    Off topic, and I’m not sure if this has ever been mentioned before, but I was just rewatching a short lived 2008 spy show on NBC called My Own Worst Enemy. In the last episode they go after another spy named…Daniel Shaw. The writers of the show were Rafe Judkins, Lauren LeFranc & Tyler Mitchell. Just thought it was interesting that with all the names out there that they recycled that one for Chuck. Oh yeah, by the way, the Daniel Shaw on that show was much better than the plywood version we all know and love.

    • atcDave says:

      I believe Daniel Shaw on Chuck was named and cast before LeJudkins came on board; but that actually makes the coincidence even more bizarre!

      • mr2686 says:

        Yes, weird huh? Speaking of My Own Worst Enemy (a story of a spy with an implant in his head (not exactly like Chuck but along those lines), Intellegence will be coming out this next season and that has “similar” themes, and of course there was a show called Dollhouse (which I’m going to start soon) that had those types of themes. Does anyone know of any others like those?

      • atcDave says:

        Wasn’t there a show called Jake 2.0 or something like that? I don’t know how close it was.

      • Dave says:

        Chuck would have had to copy My Own Worst Enemy.

        Lots of female CIA agents named Walker out there too.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ah yes, Jake 2.0. I believe that had Christopher Gorham in it, who also plays in Covert Affairs.

      • atcDave says:

        And another Agent Shaw on Castle. Although she was FBI…

      • Speaking of other action shows, has anybody watched Archer? From everything I hear, it sounds like a more snarky, animated version of Chuck.

  8. anthropocene says:

    This is news more appropriate for Season 5, but I can’t resist. Work brought me to Pasadena this week, and I flew in and out of Bob Hope (Burbank) airport. Didn’t have time to go to Echo Park, but Sarah’s dream home was a stone’s throw away, so I had to cruise on by. It looks exactly the same, but some kind of interior work is going on, as a remodeler’s truck was parked in front.

    • atcDave says:

      Too cool Anthro. Was that on a studio lot? Or is it an actual residence?

      • anthropocene says:

        Dave–it’s on a Burbank street a few blocks from the WB studio. The address came from a website either Ernie or Joe shared with me (sorry I forgot whom).

    • resaw says:

      Chuck is secretly renovating the house for Sarah….

    • mr2686 says:

      Chuck is having to sell the house since Sarah didn’t get her memory back, and the interior work is to get rid of some damn graffiti on one of the inside doorways. Geez, just kidding guys, she got her memory back, honest!

    • anthropocene says:

      My take on it is that this is all Sarah’s doing. It started with a brass bed and now she’s got the reno bug bad.

  9. mr2686 says:

    Hey guys, OT but does anyone remember if Journeyman was the lead in to Chuck in 2007 or did it follow Chuck? I just got done rewatching it for the first time since it’s 13 episodes aired and am trying to figure out why it wasn’t more popular.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m pretty sure it followed (Chuck was always 2000 EST as near as I can recall).

      • mr2686 says:

        Thanks Dave. I guess it was just another show that NBC didn’t feel like putting any effort in to. I guess when you consider how many shows NBC has done that to, it’s a miracle that Chuck lasted as long as it did. All I know is that for 13 weeks in 2007, Monday was really a cool night to watch the tube.

  10. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Anniversary (4.01) | Chuck This

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