Chuck vs The Cubic Z (4.03)

Cubic Z is the next of Season Four’s Romance arc episodes.  Perhaps too loosely connected to be a true arc, but along with Suitcase and Coup d’Etat we have three episodes that seem to mainly serve to establish Chuck and Sarah in a good place for the rest of the season.

Cubic Z is the first true bottle episode for the series.  It won’t be the last.  The idea here is to create an episode cheaply, using mostly core cast, existing sets, and limited guest stars. Bottle episodes get a bad rap from many fans, but I like them.  We get more attention focused on our core characters than is normal.  And for a show where those core characters are the main draw, that’s a good thing.  There will be no great moments in Cubic Z, but we do get a nice snapshot of where Chuck and Sarah are, at this point in time.

We’ll discuss it more, after the jump.

The story is simple enough as well.  We get two villains from past seasons returned to do battle with each other, and force Sarah to face some of her own demons.  And I don’t really mean Heather. The main driving force of this episode is how Sarah has changed; or perhaps most importantly, how her self image has changed.  Heather Chandler mercilessly needles her with the idea that they are both just alike, and Sarah can’t possibly be really happy with Chuck.  That Sarah will grow bored and abandon Chuck, after flirting with the idea of finding meaning in life, in a fairly short time.

Now I have to insert my own meta observation here; I’m not buying any of it.  And for once I don’t mean that as a criticism of the writing, but rather that there’s a lot of nuance here.  First of all; remember Cougars?  No way Heather believes she and Sarah are a lot alike.  This is playing head games pure and simple.  She thinks she found something she can needle Sarah with, something that will infuriate her.  And for what its worth, she’s right. This plays exactly into Sarah’s own worst nightmares of herself.

But again, I don’t buy that either.  Sarah was never like Heather.  Or maybe, she was like her in just enough superficial ways to really worry her.  Like maybe she was a bit of an adrenaline junkie; and she was so focused on success she was denying herself the things that truly add value to life.  Perhaps she lacked a moral center for many years too; certainly her dad never helped her find one.  But somehow, even before Chuck, Sarah had already risen above her basest fears.  She had a moral center.  At least enough that when Chuck told Carina that Sarah was different from most spies way back in S1, Carina ceded the point.  She was different enough before Chuck that she went against protocol, and at great personal cost, delivered a child from the clutches of a killer.

I think Chuck is a tangible anchor for Sarah.  He helps bring out her best, and helps her see her own value.  So yes, Sarah needs Chuck and is made better by him.  But not like Heather charges.  Heather pokes at a fragile conscience.  But she mostly misses the mark.

Still, it makes for a fascinating exchange.  Heather accuses, challenges and provokes; while Sarah stews and broods.  Chuck, the observer, knows better.  And it is refreshing to see him respond.  He knows Heather is off base, but can’t quite grasp why she is getting to Sarah anyway.  When we arrive at the final discussion, Sarah finally speaks her mind.  She thinks that she was a lot like Heather before Chuck.  As I said, maybe in some superficial ways she was.  But the bigger point is, she recognizes that she is not currently like that at all.  That is really awesome growth.  It is wonderful and heartwarming to see.

And wow, that was a lot of hot air.  More than anything, Chuck is a fun show.  And even a pretty low intensity, bare bones episode like Cubic Z has a lot of fun material.  Starting with the Casey/Sarah sparing match.  The previously mentioned needling from Heather provokes great reactions and dialogue from Chuck and Sarah.  Right from learning about inappropriate misuse of a government supply closet.  I love the initial interrogation scene too. Chuck and Sarah are both a hoot; especially Sarah being totally unsettled by Heather, and lecturing Chuck on keeping his cool.  This is maybe a little more involved than most humor on Chuck, and its fitting that it comes from a character who is not normally used for comedy at all.  Just a perfectly executed scene.

As the “A” plot unfolds, we get sort of the Chuck signature mix of humor and action.  I think there’s another level of meta humor here too; it turns out Nicole Richie is such a dreadful actress she is barely even convincing when she gets to play herself.  Okay, to be fair, she might be a very nice lady, I don’t know her.  But she plays on her own public persona with stiff delivery, no emotion, and apparently little comprehension of her own lines.  Its a joke within a joke.  Very funny.  Stone Cold Steve Austin seems to be a much better actor.  At least he can deliver his own public persona in a convincing manner!

I don’t mean any of the above to be seriously critical.  This plot is played for fun, and Zac and Yvonne easily, effortlessly, carry the load.  It is completely satisfying to see Chuck and Sarah work as partners, and more, throughout.

I think the Buy More story was less satisfying in this episode.  I like Morgan and Big Mike’s sub-story; but the game release added little.  At this point that doesn’t really bother me much; I expect little from Buy More, except the occasional chuckle when its funny.  But on initial viewing I felt some real disappointment.  I was excited with the initial set up of the episode.  I quickly formed expectations of the “Spy Attack” game launch getting massively, and chaotically intertwined with the actual spy business taking place below (I said to my wife, “oh this should get really interesting”).  But apart from a riot at the very end, my eager expectations failed to be satisfied.  And yes, that was my own expectations that let me down.  But I was let down by immediately imagining more than was delivered.

Do I need to say anything about the titled ring?  It was a funny tease.  I appreciate it more in hindsight than I did when it was new.  I’m glad they didn’t do an accidental engagement story; not that it couldn’t have been fun too, but I like much of what actually lies ahead.  And next week, is another really good one!

~ Dave

The Herder vs. The Porsche

Man, Dave. You took the words right out of my mouth. I feel little need to add anything to what you just said.

Big Mike, back in the saddle - uh, store - again!

Big Mike, back in the saddle – uh, store – again!

But you know me. I can’t resist sticking in my $0.02. Let me point first to one small area of disagreement. Without implying it was the best ever C plot in the series, I thought the Buy More sub-story in Chuck vs. The Cubic-Z was actually sort of clever. It brought Big Mike (and his impending marriage to Morgan’s mother!) back into the story rather nicely. It also gave Vik a chance to do a comedic bit that we hadn’t seen before and didn’t see after, when Lester provides vocal back-up to Big Mike’s speech to the rioting crowd. Not bad.

The newest GRETA

The newest GRETA

I do wish we had seen more of Stacy Keibler. The actress was kind enough to let us interview her later that season, so I have a soft spot for her. But much like Bronson Pinchot and Isaiah Mustafah in The Suitcase, her appearance in this episode seemed a little pointless. Twist my arm and I’ll say that Mustafah and Keibler’s GRETA mega-cameos could have been intentional teases, though, meant as lead-ins to their bigger roles in The A-Team, where they actually had names. With Nicole Richie and Steve Austin already heading up the guest star list, it would seem odd to have another star with a large role in one episode.

Steve Austin as Hugo Panzer

Steve Austin as Hugo Panzer

As for Austin, I liked his appearance in this episode much more than I did in First Class. Perhaps it’s because he actually showed Panzer had half a brain dealing with Castle’s computers, even while Casey was getting frustrated with an early version of Seri (heh!).

Nicole Richie reprises Heather Chandler

Nicole Richie reprises Heather Chandler

I’ve heard criticisms of Nicole Richie’s acting too, ever since the days she pal’d around with Paris Hilton. However, I can’t help but think that she consistently punches above her weight as Heather Chandler. They say there’s no life after high school, so I find her preying on Sarah’s soft psychological underbelly to be a bit clever too.

In fact, there’s a whole lot of cleverness that operates on several levels. I like the way they worked in the story line from Cougars, using the Russian baddies who were after her then-husband and his F-22 plans as a link to Heather’s association to Volkoff and Frost. My poor memory vaguely associated them with Fulcrum back then; a clear mistake, if an understandable one, in the context of Season 1.

Then there’s Heather’s needling of Sarah, claiming that she would become bored with a nerd like Chuck after about 10 minutes, just like she did with Mark. [To which, I join Lester in providing the vocal back-up to Dave’s write-up above, because he captured everything I was thinking about. I’m just saying it in different words!] Ooohhhh that’s good stuff. It’s a gem! I too couldn’t quite buy it, especially at first. Jenny was portrayed, after all, as a bit of an ugly duckling in Cougars, tormented by the cheerleader-types and quarterback-types. It was easy to see the young girl as the opposite of Heather, in fact.

Sarah, are you worried what Chuck thinks?

Sarah, are you worried what Chuck thinks?

Despite all that high school baggage, Jenny grew up (seemingly overnight) to became Agent Sarah Walker with all that implies. Thanks to Bryce, Carina and Cole Barker, it implies a glamorous, adrenaline fueled, jet setting life-style too, which actually seems a little more in line with what Heather was thinking. The question is: Why would Sarah give all that up for a dork? Does she really want to give up the Porsche for a Herder? It makes her question her own motives. Or maybe Sarah expects Chuck to wonder – and worry.

But he doesn’t. Not for a minute. Just when Sarah is experiencing a bit a self-doubt, just when she needs a rock and an anchor if only to steady herself, nerdy, awkward Chuck proves he is exactly the right man for the job.

Chuck: Hey, hey, hey. Heather, guess what. You talk too much.

Well said, Chuck. Well said. I was surprised, first time around, that the Intersect 2.0 wasn’t exactly able to best Hugo Panzer in the one fight scene Chuck had. But that’s okay; the real conflict wasn’t a physical fight. It was always about getting Sarah to accept that her world was changing and that Chuck was the absolute best guide she could ever have.

Sarah: For a long time, I was exactly like her. And it took me a night in the guts of the building to realize I’m not anymore. At all. And I don’t wanna be.

But I do need to take things slow.

Chuck: I’m not ready for parenthood either. One day hopefully. But not now. Not yet, anyway.

Who are we kidding? I’m barely on solid food myself, so…

You have to wonder what scares Sarah Walker so much. I think I know now. It’s not the bullets and fists and constant danger of being a spy, of course. Sarah is able to take care of herself. She’s been taught well from the very beginning to survive and be self-sufficient and I don’t think that it’s the idea of having babies either. Instead, I think that Sarah has no idea what it means to need someone else and has no idea how to deal with that.

And I’m sitting in the valley alone
Walking to the valley alone
Wanders in the valley alone
Miss you in the valley alone

And I wander in this land
And I want to make you understand

If Chuck was to be Sarah’s guide through strange land of home and family, his guidance was flawless in Cubic-Z; no awkward clumsiness here and no girlish screams. Chuck was fast becoming a mature and capable spy, which left only one item on his plate, one large bit of unfinished business in his five year plan.

Not just yet.

Not just yet.

But even if the fans were agitating and clamoring for the next step in Chuck and Sarah’s romance – and we were that fall – it was still early in the season. The fake-diamond ring Chuck accidentally presented on one knee may have been meant as a tease from the very beginning, but the scene was also given to the fans as something meaningful for them to latch onto. TPTB needed to delay the inevitable a bit longer, after all. Regardless, there’s just no denying that Chuck’s proposal was inevitable by the end of the episode, and that would be enough for the moment.

What about Sarah’s acceptance? Was that inevitable too? We were to find out soon enough.

– joe


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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95 Responses to Chuck vs The Cubic Z (4.03)

  1. authorguy says:

    I was actually very against the idea of them getting married, not only in S4 but ever. It was the ordinary thing to do, and after all that they had gone through in S3, I didn’t see that they needed it. They were together and would always be. My prediction and preference was that S4 would end in a double wedding, Morgan to Alex and Casey to Alex’ mother. Those are the relationships that really needed development this season.

    • resaw says:

      I like your idea of the double wedding, Marc, but I certainly wouldn’t say that the wedding between Chuck and Sarah was unnecessary. I suppose you and I may have different ideas about marriage (married 29 years myself–well, with my wife, and when I was a pastor, I used to officiate at weddings, so I have had to think about the meaning of marriage quite a bit). My take on it is that moving in together still doesn’t match the commitment made in a marriage ceremony witnessed by friends and family (and the state, and God!).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m a big fan of the getting married part. I even would have been happy if they’d eloped way back in Paris. But without getting into a big social mores debate I am pretty happy with how this part of the story plays out.

      • authorguy says:

        No argument there. My point was that the whole ‘getting married’ storyline took up too much time on the show when it should have been taken for granted. Did Chuck think Sarah would say no? Did Sarah think Chuck didn’t want to? Of course not, their relationship was a given.
        Pushing the double wedding idea instead would have focused attention on Casey and Morgan instead, but since the show is named Chuck and the showrunners were often too focused on Chuck at the expense of the other characters and the story’s own logic I guess that wouldn’t have flown. I know I lost a few readers (or at least they stopped commenting) when nine2five took a more Team B approach with less attention to Chuck himself.

      • atcDave says:

        Well, as I’ve said before, I think for many of us, Chuck and Sarah together is THE major draw of the show. So I actually want to see those cute little relationship moments and the major milestones of normal life. It’s especially fun when they won’t quite do anything in a normal way.
        My biggest complaint about the wedding remains that it was too rushed, I wish they’d spent another five or ten minutes for it. Just to have fun with it and enjoy the celebration. It’s almost like they were real friends to me, and I want to share their moment with them.

      • authorguy says:

        I felt the same, Dave. The wedding was practically an afterthought, that’s why I put as much effort into my version as I did. It should have been a whole episode.

    • joe says:

      Any votes for the idea that they did it just right? Back in S2, right after Colonel, I was rather bemused at the idea that C&S might be on the fast track to eloping. Honestly, I think the idea was running a little rampant on the NBC boards too. It was too soon and there was too much yet to be done with their getting together, I thought; a step too far.

      I saw their separation at the beginning of S3 as a bit of vindication and honestly, a bit of relief from that worry. I didn’t think they would take so long just to get to “dating exclusively” (as Sarah said in Honeymooners), though. A step not far enough, perhaps.

      But given that we were all meant to think of them being permanently joined at the hip starting with Honeymooners (uh, hence the title?) it wasn’t quite so bad. We only had to wait until this episode to see that a proposal was inevitable (like I said) and only one more to hear Sarah’s acceptance. It was a done deal.

      All in all, they let milked that part of the story for all it was worth, and I enjoyed every minute.

      Then again, I am a hopeless romantic. 😉

      • authorguy says:

        I can’t say they did it just right. Either they milked it far enough, in which case the wedding itself was just too short a scene, or the wedding was done right, in which case they milked it too much.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I don’t agree with that Joe. I think they way over did the wt/wt phase; and I think an elopement to start S3 would have been an awesome story. It could have been fun, amusing and would have honored/amplified the importance of the S2 Orion arc.

        Now I am mostly satisfied with the S4 story, including the engagement and wedding. But “mostly” and “just right” are a long ways apart in my estimation. Although I would admit, the biggest part of my dissatisfaction will always be the bungled S3 story, not really anything wrong with S4.

      • Don’t worry, Joe, I’m with you! But not quite on season 3. I just don’t think that they came up with a good reason for those two to be broken up… It was really a false narrative. But otherwise, I think they nailed the timing of everything else.

  2. oldresorter says:

    I liked the Heather character and how the actress portrayed it. The best performances for me result from writing that doesn’t take itself too serious, Dalton’s tiny fork fight for example. I laughed at Roark his entire time on the show, and quite honestly, once Orion was revealed, he was nothing but a bad joke too. But, to pull the offbeat, kind of goofy guest star stunt off, Chuck and Sarah have to be having fun too, otherwise the slapstick falls flat on its face (I think even with Shaw, off and on the writers tried to do this, but at least I as a fan was so furious at the writers, I wasn’t buying any of it). Cubic Z and Heather were examples of the Chuck I loved in full glory, I loved the ep.

    Looking back, I wish the writers had engaged Chuck and SArah and married them in the middle of the arc’s in bottle eps or small / fun engagement / marriage arcs (say 4×2 thru 4×5 and then 4×18 thru 4×21), and had the concluding arcs be more about a clever spy story that Chuck and Sarah solved together. Some of the not letting Sarah be part of the final spy arc eps, was the need to have the personnal relationship in some peril. That personal relationship angst stole the show from any spy arc the writers tried to tell.

  3. mr2686 says:

    This is a nice, average episode of Chuck. The problem is, that when the story is just average, it needs something to really pick it up, but the Buy More portion of this episode is a bit below average and without that to pick up the pace, it kinda falls a bit flat. I rate this one along with Roll Models, in that it’s good but nothing really jumps out at you. Like Roll Models, Cubic Z follows some strong episodes so that might explain it as well. I will say that the one thing that does help this episode is the Sarah/Heather interaction. Not quite as good as in Cougars, but still very good.

    • atcDave says:

      I would agree with calling it pretty average. As I’ve said before, I still think average Chuck is a good thing. Nothing great or exciting happens, but it’s fun to watch, and has more replay value than most shows.

  4. Dave says:

    Cubic Z was average, but it was average because it had some real good stuff (Heather’s interrogation and the ending) but it was lashed to some weak stuff (the Buy More, poetry slam…really). They do this several times in this season (Aisle of Terror, Balcony, Masquerade to name a few). There were some eps that could have been standouts but for this.

    Also, the ending of Suitcase joining with the beginning of this is great. I so like the scene of Sarah and Casey in the dojo. Note Sarah never once says she’s scared of marriage but she is terrified of having kids.

    Neat little things: Supply closet, time machine, bathroom door.

    An average episode that could have been great.

  5. BillAtWork says:

    My thoughts about this episode pretty much mirror my thoughts about the series.

    It was cute, had some nice moments, even made me laugh a little.

    But as usual, it took what could have been a powerful storyline and frittered it away. Heather Chandler is what Sarah used to be. And, yes, Sarah said exactly that. But it wasn’t strong enough, it wasn’t contrasted enough, and it wasn’t romantic enough. The reason Sarah is no longer like Heather (and more important, no longer wanted to be) was because she had stopped looking at life through the lens of an agent and more so the lens of a woman in love.

    They also took some character recon to get Sarah to that point. Who is Sarah? Is she the agent who asked Casey in Truth if he never dreamed of having a family? Or is she the agent who get spooked at the mere thought of having a family? They showed us evidense of Sarah’s growth. But they never explained why she was, or ever what she was, and what had changed.

  6. resaw says:

    So, if I may be allowed to ride my stunt-casting hobby horse for another week, I thought Stacey Keibler as Greta was again an inconsequential character, and her scenes were so slight as to not reveal any emotional range. Isaiah Mustafa did have a little more during his turn, but I agree that it was good to have them come back later as Intersected agents.It seems TPTB have a thing for wooden actors, though.

    I frankly thought that Nicole Richie reprising her role as Heather Chandler did quite a good job. And more importantly, she got under Sarah’s skin so much, and was also a valuable foil for Sarah to realize that she has changed. Steve Austin as Hugo Panzer was not bad, but I really didn’t like him that much, perhaps because I liked Cougars much more than I liked First Class.

    The Buy More story: I liked some of the little details here and there. Lester’s retort “Go, seal. Clap for your fish” was priceless. It sounds like a Monty Python bit, but I have no idea if it originates somewhere else in pop culture. In Lester’s poetry slam, I also liked the phrase: “This game launch will not be televised,” borrowing from Gil Scott-Heron’s “The revolution will not be televised.” And of course, Big Mike taking down Hugo Panzer was great. I also liked the Big Mike’s comment that “the Assistant Manager’s vest is a sacred vestment.”

    Upon my initial viewing of this episode, I thought that the end, with Chuck down on one knee in front of Sarah with the ring in his hand, was corny and telegraphed well in advance. Now, upon re-watching, and thinking about the not-quite-hopeful-enough-for-me conclusion of the series, the hint at marriage in this scene just makes me feel good about Chuck and Sarah.

    Oh, and Joe, as soon as I heard Chief’ “In the Valley,” I fell in love with that song. Too bad the group broke up. Their sound reminds me very much of the group America and their song “Ventura Highway.”

    Thanks, gentlemen, for continuing to take the time to present your thoughts on these episodes, and allowing us to continue the conversation.

    • mr2686 says:

      Resaw, I like what you said about the Buy More portion of the story, and those bits you mentioned seem funny/cool individually, but for some reason (and unlike most Buy More storylines) it just didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s just missing that one really funny moment to tie it all together like in Tom Sawyer with Casey saying all of Jeff’s old fans would now have moved on and have jobs and wives and children (and Chuck with wide eyes shaking his head no).

      • atcDave says:

        Very rarely, the Buy More ties into the main plot nicely, and I often find that fun. More often, the Buy More has some funny moments, and works well as pure comic relief. But unfortunately, it occasionally does neither. Like here.

      • BillAtWork says:

        In the show I would have made, there would be no Buy Morons. I’m often frustrated that they seemed to rush through the parts of the story I was interested in, only to spend 15 minutes with some humor that oft felt bolted on, didn’t fit in with main story well, and was always base (at best).

        I get that is not a universal opinion, probably not even a majority one. Yet I still believe that had they spent the time they invested in the Buy Morons into telling a fuller spy/love story, they would have been better served overall.

      • authorguy says:

        I completely agree. The Buy More should have been dropped after S2. Rather than a B and C plot they should have had a more multidimensional A plot.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree Bill. I do believe the Buy More is far more popular with more casual viewers, many of whom are actually tuning in mostly for the over-the-top comedy. But I think among the more serious viewers, the Buy More was far less popular.

        For myself, it often made me laugh. I would never say I “hated” that part of the show or anything, but certainly I wish it had been scaled back, or they had found something more relevant to the main plot to do with it. For example, I love the idea of Chuck and Sarah owning the store. I can see it as a source of revenue, especially while they’re trying to establish themselves in the spy/security business. But they really failed to ever really do anything interesting with that. It would have required them being much more overt and involved in the store at some point, and they just never went there (There is so much potential for Sarah deciding to fire Lester, in front of everyone.)

      • authorguy says:

        The Buy More degenerated as the show progressed. By S3 it had become the repository of a type of humor I find pretty distasteful for the most part. I usually just fast forward over those scenes.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I totally agree about the base humor. It was often more creepy than funny. And the shame is that they could have used Sarah for laughs a lot, lot more than they did. One of the funniest scenes in the series is when Lester comes over to hit on Sarah after Chuck broke up with her.

        It seemed a natural for the morons to be skeptical that Chuck could possibly have this hot of GF. The always combat ready Agent Walker playing off the barely conscious morons could have been funny.

        Still I think they were over used, certainly not regular cast members. A show that centered on the core of Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Ellie, Devon, Morgan, and Beckman would have been much better.

      • authorguy says:

        I added Carina to that mix, but without the Buy More they could easily have afforded an additional player, and maybe a few others with more face time. The Buy More just a huge time and money pit that detracted from the story for business reasons.

      • atcDave says:

        I would have loved if the Buy More was in only every third episode or so, then use it in a way that matters and relates to the “A” plot. As a signature part of the show I can see why they didn’t just let it go (and the studio wouldn’t let them get rid of it when they tried after S3), but it was too often obvious they didn’t really know what to do with it.
        And no doubt Jeff and Lester were not always to my liking at all. I’m not into the crude sort of humor that often defined them. But as a dysfunctional workplace, cover job, and later cover business, it could have stayed relevant to the end.

      • authorguy says:

        Perhaps it could have, but the question is could better things have been done with that money? From the point of view of the story the answer is certainly yes, and that’s always my dominant perspective. Even keeping the Buy MKore, the humor of it would have been better if it had fit into the main storyline (like in the Beard), rather than just a clunky afterthought. Too often those scenes felt like an afterthought for the LCD.

      • mr2686 says:

        I actually like that the Buy More stories are often totally removed from the A-story. That usually gives Chuck one more thing on his plate to juggle which I think adds to the fun. It actually saddens me that some of you would have liked to get rid of the Buy More/Morons early on. I’ve always thought that the charm of Chuck was all things combined, not just Chuck/Sarah etc. It still would have been a good show, but the charm that is all things Chuck would have been a little diminished.
        Off topic, and despite an attempt to wait a few more months, I have found myself starting yet another Chuck rewatch. Is it my imagination or does S1 seem to get better each time?
        This time around I’m actually trying to rank each episode from 1 – 91 but a lot of S1 episodes are very very close.

      • joe says:

        I’m with you here, Mr. – and I’m guessing we actually have the majority opinion. To my tastes, they found a nice balance with the Buy More, if only to break up the tension (which seemed to be amp’ed up much higher because of that). Not that it didn’t get a smidge beyond silly on occasion…

        And btw, it’s not your imagination. Chuck getting better with time (all the seasons, not just S1) is a little known relativistic effect that Hawking discovered when he used Einstein’s 1905 paper to explain black hole evaporation.

        You can look it up! 😉

      • mr2686 says:

        I bet there’s not many people around that would put Chuck, Hawking and Einstein in the same sentence…and it would be their loss! 🙂
        I would write more, but I’m currently in mourning. I had to change out my DVR for a new one (larger capacity…yeah!!) but that also meant the loss of vs Sarah and vs Goodbye which I’ve had on there since they aired. Oh sure, I rarely watch them because I have the DVD’s (especially Goodbye since I only watch the extended version now) but it was always nice to see they were there, like a friendly face. In fact, I flipped through a few scenes before they were gone which prompted my full blown re-watch. Hmmm, maybe it wasn’t a total loss after all.

      • atcDave says:

        I liked the Buy More a lot in the first two seasons. It just seemed to sink to irrelevance after. I’m not dogmatic on saying it should have ever been eliminated, but I do think some of the more tangential Buy More stories should have been eliminated.
        What I liked best, was Chuck/Sarah, then add in Casey, Ellie, Devon. Morgan and the Buy Morons were often funny, but I wish those parts had been reduced for more of the other.
        Broadly speaking, I would say Morgan and the Buy More got too much screen time. Chuck was about right. Sarah, Casey, Ellie and Devon never got enough.

        I do love the first two seasons of the show. In fact, looking at our favorite episodes poll (that Ernie posted on last week), I seem to like S1 far more than most viewers do. A big part of that is the Buy More. But to me, when Chuck grew into his “adulthood” as a spy, and with Sarah, I think Morgan and the Buy More should have receded. Not into nothing, but less than they were.
        The only real exception I would make to that, is if they ever had actually done anything with Chuck and Sarah as the Buy More owners. I thought that was a good way to make it relevant again. But it would have meant making Chuck and Sarah more INVOLVED with the store. I actually REALLY WISH they had done that. Chuck trying to actually control the Buy Morons, or maybe playing good boss/bad boss with Sarah could have been a lot of fun. But they just never went there.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, Chuck and Sarah more active as Buy More owners would have been fun indeed. Maybe have them doing a Rock/Paper/Scissors to see who saves the world and who addresses the sexual harassment suit against Jeff and Lester. 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        Well let’s face it the BuyMore was supposed to be gone at one point but the product placement it allowed is one of the reasons WB was able to sell the show so cheaply the last 3 seasons. But it never was a reason for me to watch like for some folks. But one change I would have made is more Big Mike and less Jeff and Lester. He is comedy gold and is the best part of the Buy More story in this episode.

        I found it interesting in Ernie/Sarah’s stats that season 1 did not have a single episode in the bottom 26 episodes. It does hold up well and has some critical episodes that drive much of the storyline in season 2. So it does get better with age as much of the series does. Season 3.0 however, gets worse, much worse for me. But I must say I’ve really been enjoying doing this rewatch now that I’ve gotten the desire to do it after that desire was completely take from me for 11 months by the finale. Even an average bottle episode like this one was a lot of fun to revisit for the first time in quite a while.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah MR that would have been great! Scenes like in Business Trip when Sarah just walks by Lester poisoning the store. C’mon, that’s her store! She should have pounded Lester senseless! (er, more senseless than normal?!)
        Yeah I’m kind of kidding. But I would have loved if the “secret” owner ploy just didn’t work, and they found themselves trying to clean up messes. Maybe run ragged for a while with having to micro manage the store while saving the world at the same time. So much could have been done there.

        Uplink I agree with most of that. Although I do think the studio was likely right in keeping the store, if nothing else just because it was so central to what “Chuck” was. Again, I think some of the irrelevant stories could have been cut, but probably not the whole setting.

      • uplink2 says:

        Hey if keeping the BuyMore helped keep the show on the air I’m fine with it. There were only a very few times it really bothered me. Jeff’s question to Ellie about if there was room for two in there being one of them. THAT crossed the line for me on an 8PM show. But the worst of all was the scene in Fake Name. I didn’t find that incredibly insulting attempt at humor funny one bit. More like offensive. But all in all it did add some stuff to the series and became part of its mythology. Plus it gave them a great location for bottle episodes when they needed them like this and Santa Claus.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But you wouldn’t eliminate the BM and replace it with nothing, right? You’d replace those minutes with a better crafted, fuller adventure/love story. You’d be able to do things like explore Sarah/Ellie and have them become better friends. You’d maybe be able to get into Sarah’s background a bit more.

        And I’m not really saying totally eliminate them. Just demote them to regular guest star status and use them when it fit the plot. As it was, it felt to be that they sometimes had to come up with something that didn’t make sense simply to service their co-stars.

        I still believe that a better adventure/love story would have attracted better ratings than whatever the Buy Morons did. And to paraphase Vince Lombardi, in TV ratings isn’t the most important thing… it is the only thing.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink I agree with all of that.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I would have liked the show better with a smaller Buy More presence, I think I’ve been clear about that. Sarah, Ellie, Casey, Devon are all characters I would have rather seen more of than the Buy Morons (at least in the later seasons). But many of us more serious viewers DO put more emphasis on the action, drama and Romance than TPTB ever set out to do. Just as we were talking a couple weeks ago about how some of us clearly wanted more attention on the romance than on Chuck’s journey, I also would have preferred less emphasis on the store. But TPTB framed the show as more of a comedy. From beginning to end the show was zany and funny (well, you know I think they strayed from that in S3). Some of us want to take it more seriously, I know I sometimes do, but it really was a comedy!

      • BillAtWork says:

        Chuck was always referred to as a dramety.

        And I’m not really saying that the show should have eliminated the BM and become totally serious. But I do think there were opportunities lost to make the core cast funny in a more organic way. Not the ‘make you wince’ bathroom humor of Jeff and Lester.

        Here is an example. CAT Squad had tons of comedic potential. Imagine the hardened female spies making fun of Sarah all evening on their night on the town. Sarah might start off embarassed but eventually win them over. Instead we didn’t see any of that night. They went from Sarah disappearing into the chopper to waking up with a hangover.

        Instead they spent time on a B story about Carina pursuing Morgan. Hello? Carina pursuing Morgan? I’m not kidding. Carina pursuing Morgan. Defies belief. So whatever shock humor came from that OOC thing could have been replaced with some witty reparte between hardened spies and the newest convert, a woman in love. It could have been very funny, and a nice way for Sarah to stick up for her choice… and her guy.

      • Dave says:


        I’m with you. When I said that a really good episode was dragged down by something, except for FoD and Masquerade that something that dragged the episode down was the Buy More/Jeffster/Morgan. In FoD it was Chuck and Rye in Switzerland and Masquerade it was the stupid equestrian sequence.

        I could have seen their stories reduced and been just fine. Having said that, the Buy More plot in FoD was actually quite good and harked back to S2 Jeff and Lester.

        Phase 3 the Buy More plot wasn’t bad, just pointless and took up a lot of time.

        In Cubic Z, it just did not pay off for the time invested. I didn’t need the Buy More eliminated, just reduced to be only in support of the main story, keeping the product placement foe economic reasons.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah we are in the same place Dave. Although I did think the Buy Morons in Phase Three were funny, I really wanted to see more of Sarah’s story.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think most of that goes back more to the idea that Sarah needed to be a bigger character. You’ll get no argument from me on that.

      • uplink2 says:

        Much of the success of BuyMore stories comes when it does dovetail well into a good main plotline. That balance is all important. As I said above the BuyMore scene in Fake Name was, giving Ali the benefit of the doubt here, an attempt to make light of the shippers and add some level of humor to an otherwise very serious and depressing episode. Same with Pauli Walnuts and WTWT. But the problem was it failed miserably and came off as insulting and dismissive and felt like they were thumbing their noses at the fans of the show. The other times it doesn’t work for me is when they really cross over the weird/creepy line as with Ellie and Jeff.

        But I guess much of it is in the eye of the beholder. I loved the “Big BM” suit on Big Mike but others might not find that funny. But every comedic writer has to know somethings are just not gonna fly and there were plenty of times where it didn’t. But I agree with those above, in the case of the BuyMore less is more.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Uplink. I even really liked the flaming big BM. I pulled that prank once when I was 10…

      • joe says:

        An actual blogger said:

        I pulled that prank once when I was 10…

        And I don’t know if I’m surprised or not! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        It may say something about the audience they’re reaching too!

        No doubt everything about the giant BM had me snickering under my breath. And had my wife looking at me like; well, like I was 10….

  7. oldresorter says:

    Dave – in terms of other shows, my weekly comment is about Chuck alum. Ryan is going to be a guest star on Hart of Dixe, pretty sure a PLI or LI for Bilson’s Zoey. Rumor is he might be on for a while. Great fit for him IMO! HOD is moving to Tuesday’s, teaming up with Kristen K’s Beauty and the Beast.

    And how can I not mention Dexter? Yvonne was a frickin superstar Sunday! She had a very passionate love scene, no nudity from her, but close, I love that she didn’t agree to, I’m sure she was asked. Looks like she might be part of the end game, at least thru the second last ep, and maybe even she might be ‘the’ end game, either running away with Dexter, or Dexter leaving his son with her while he runs. If she is part of the final scenes, she might beome pretty famous for her role on Dexter, which might mean better jobs in the future, as the Broadway success, the Chuck success, and now Dexter is a pretty great run. Time to let the young lady be the lead in a network TV show!

    • authorguy says:

      I just started watching Dexter from S1, just to see YS in it. I have my writing projects to contend with but I can’t wait to work my way through to S7! I also saw Killer Elite last night. She isn’t a major player in it, but I could see her as the sort of woman Stratham’s character would fall for and DeNiro’s character would respect, even though she’s more in the Chuck role, someone to be protected. I loved the way she did one of Chuck’s scenes over again, when Stratham returns to her and offers to tell her anything she wants to know and she declines.

    • atcDave says:

      Well you know I’m happy for both Ryan and Yvonne that their careers seem to be moving along. I’m also pleased to hear Yvonne has some personal standards much of the industry is lacking. I just hope she does something FUN next!

      • Dave says:


        Thanks. I have a passing interest in Dexter, but solely because of Yvonne.

        Back to Chuck…

        Remember with Suitcase we had the mild jealousy thing going that I wished we had seen more of. This episode gave me another- the supply closet. How funny would it have been for Casey to open the closet to put away supplies, only to find Chuck and Sarah using it in an unauthorized fashion. It would have been hilarious.

        Wanted to see Mr and Mrs Charles again.

        I’ll cover the rest as we go.

      • atcDave says:

        Poor Casey would have needed the brain bleach!

    • aerox says:

      Hannah’s a character who is a love/hate character. Most people that I’ve seen, that love her in the role (note: MOST, not all) simply note her beauty as the main factor. Story-wise, she’s lacking imo (to a degree where it simply annoys me every time she’s on screen) and if one were to take IMDB as a global consensus, then most people agree with me that she’s not that great of a character. On the flip-side, she did get that saturn award, so YMMV

    • uplink2 says:

      aerox, storywise I think I’d agree with you about this season. Last years Hannah story I think was more involved and simply better IMO. However, I think much of this season has been lacking and even the “lacking Hannah story” has been the most interesting and enjoyable for me. I’d say that the biggest disappointment storywise has been Deb’s story. It was set up well but the delivery of the resolution was really really weak.

      For me I wish they had played up what Hannah lost because of her falling for Dexter. She had a life, albeit a lonely one, that was completely destroyed because she got involved with him. To me the best sequence for her was when she went back to the flower shop and saw the death all around her that used to nurture her.

      But I still have high hopes for a conclusion though I have absolutely no belief it will be a happy one. There is simply too much heat and passion between them for anything but a tragic ending for Dex and Hannah.

      • aerox says:

        Seriously though, Hannah is a plot device, and a poorly conceived one at that. Dexter has turned from a thriller into a soap opera (I literally facepalmed (and yes, I did smack my palm against my forehead, thus the literally) when the airport scene happened in the last episode), the writers change the characters’ personality at the drop of a dime, and there is 0 tension throughout the season. This is a bigger insult than season 5 of Chuck ever was. At least with S5 of Chuck, I could still recognize Casey as being Casey. I have no idea who these people currently on the TV are, but they sure as shit aren’t Dexter or Debra.

      • aerox says:

        Also, her character is SO cringeworthy. It’s like: “I LOVEDYOU SO MUCh but then you weren’t there for me so I went to this guy who I sorta met a few years ago, so now, 2 weeks later, we’re married, but he’s kinda possessive so I wanna kill him but I’m afraid I’m gonna be hunted so please kill him for me?” *bats baby blues, Dexter turns into mush, and I want to lob a brick through my TV*

      • aerox says:

        And the very worst part of it all is (yes, I know I should’ve put this all in one post 😦 ) that I need to finish it for myself. I’ve invested a hella lot time in this, and despite the fact that it’s a freaking trainwreck, I want to know how it ends. And most of all, I just want to see Dexter die. That’s basically why I’m still watching it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well let’s be honest, there hasn’t been any real “thriller” aspect to the show since the final scene of season 4. I still say season 5 and 6 were far worse than 7 and 8. In fact I still think 7 is the best since 4 and maybe the second best yet. 5 was horrible, second only to 3 as the worst ever with a bad story and a terrible actress and 6 wasn’t much of an improvement.

        You are right, Hannah is a plot device. She is there to contradict the idea that psychopaths don’t have feelings. That for the first time he is capable of real love and actually loves someone other than Deb. And don’t get me started on those creepy Deb/Dex fans. He cared for Rita but nothing like the heat and passion he has for Hannah. Rita was an even bigger plot device to create the illusion he needed or wanted for himself. Because of his feelings for Hannah they are setting up a very tragic ending for most if not all concerned. Of the big 3 Dex, Deb or Hannah I think at least 2 die and I think only Hannah survives and ends up with Harrison as he gives him to her as she is the only one who can understand him fully and possibly save him.

        I may be biased but the problems with the series these past few years have very little to do with Hannah or Yvonne. She has done exceptional work with what she has been given. We can argue if she has been given much to work with however.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s funny. I’m not at all invested in the show. I’ve never watched before learning that Yvonne was going to guest star. So maybe I have a different perspective. I sort of like the idea of 2 very flawed individuals finding each other and, if not fixing each other, at least sharing the things that makes them flawed.

        I have no illusions of a happy ending for them. It’s simply not that kind of show, right? But I am enjoying the interplay. I especially enjoy the love scenes, lol. Why couldn’t Sarah get it on with Chuck like that? 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Bill. I love the premise of 2 psychopaths finding each other and in a way healing and protecting each other. It can make for a great storyline that many fans are really enjoying, hoping that these bizarre anti-heroes find redemption in each other. But I agree I see no happy endings here. If Hannah dies it will be the Brain Snatcher trying to hurt Dexter with one last devastating blow. Plus no way does Dex come out alive. Now we just need to find out who the Brain Snatcher is.

      • aerox says:

        Deb’s story was amazing… until the suicide/kill attempt. Then Dexter was just like: “lol,k whatever, I forgive you” after ONE (1!!!!) episode.

        The Hannah character to me has SUCH a dull backstory, her motivations are utter crap, there’s 0 character development (shown. in that regard, they pulled a Chuck where Sarah suddenly became a relationship guru in s5) and, again my opinion, has zero chemistry with MCH (I nearly cried in anguish when they did the airport scene. For reference, this is it: )

        And saying Hannah isn’t to blame for the serious decline in quality is a silly thing to say. She’s part of the show, ergo part of the problem. Her story isn’t self-contained or a completely different show, but part of it. Whether she’s a symptom or the disease doesn’t matter, the fact is she’s part of the problem, not the solution.

        Also, saying Dexter didn’t love Rita is just questionable at best. He inner monologues it in the beginning of season 5, where he claims that he genuinely loved Rita. And Hannah was literally smashed down our throats here. It went from: “She deserves to die” to “Eh, you’re on my table and you don’t care if you die (WHICH INCIDENTALLY HAS HAPPENED OTHER TIMES) but it’s time for sex.” Like, where did that come from? She did absolutely nothing from other killers on his table that could’ve intrigued him. And then suddenly they have sex (even though she fits the code), then says she loves him (and he replies in kind like HOW?! what happened? Where is the explanation for why he loves her?) and then suddenly tells him he doesn’t have a Dark Passenger and Dex agrees (and do note how this bullshit plotline was used for one episode and then completely disregarded like the writers were like: “WELL I THINK WE MADE A MISTAKE ON THAT ONE PEOPLE, AFTER ALL, WHO ARE HARRY MOSER AND BRIAN MOSER THEN, IF NOT HIS DARK PASSENGER?”)

        She can’t teach Dexter anything that he hasn’t already learned through more subtle ways (S1 was origin story, S2 was connection, S3 was friendship, S4 was romance/family life, S5 revenge versus redemption, S6 religion, S7 was rehashing the romance/family aspect but felt extremely forced and S8 is just a soap opera gone wrong). And don’t even get me started on Vogel. Not only is she just a huge deus ex machina, but also has the most stupid opinons ever. First she claims that Dexter, what he feels for Debra isn’t real, because he’s a psychopath who has no feelings, and then the dinner scene three episodes later she’s like: “OH BUT YOU MAKE A GREAT COUPLE! I CAN TELL YOU’RE IN LOVE” like WHAT? How can he be in love if he can’t have feelings?

        Look, I get that you like Yvonne, and that’s alright, I like her too. I liked her in Chuck, and subsequently hated her in pretty much every role after that because it was pretty bad. But not even my like for her can mask how completely down the gutter this season has gone. And I’m not the only one. I have no idea whether we are in the minority, or whether a lot of people feel like this, but for us, Hannah is one of the primary, if not the primary reason that the season is so terrible.

        And just for people who don’t watch Dexter, here’s what I would liken it to in Chuck terms.

        Imagine S3’s romance (swizzle sticks leads to relationship with Shaw) and then after two episodes, Sarah is convinced that Shaw is her soulmate and they should really get married.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Do people ship Dex and Deb? Isn’t she his sister?

        I’ll freely admit that I don’t know the backstories. But to me, Deb doesn’t seem all that sympathic. Every other word out of her mouth is an f-bomb.

        I can see people resenting the character that comes between the couple that we ship. Certainly there was no way for us to ever like Shaw even if Routh had performed the role well.

      • uplink2 says:

        Passionate much? Look I simply disagree. The decline in the show began long before Hannah came onboard. It began the day Trinity left this world. Your point about it being a thriller was valid once but it hasn’t been one in 4 seaons. Season 5 was absolutely horrible and 6 wasn’t much better. I loved 7 and found Hannah’s backstory very compelling. Plus my friend, Hannah was introduced in episode 3 last season and the table/sex scene was in episode 8 not really a Shaw/Sarah thing in the least. The sexual tension between them began with the swabbing of her cheek and was well played out over the next few episodes before they went to the Christmas park. I loved it.

        Deb’s story was lacking to me initially and got better but the murder/suicide resolution and 180 flip in that episode I agree was awful. It was a terrible resolution as I said above, set up well and resolved poorly. Where is her remorse about murdering her boss, an innocent now?

        I agree with you about Vogel. She is creepy and the kid was awful, glad he’s gone. That leaves the only story I’m enjoying as the Hannah/Dex story and I find they have great chemistry and the fire and passion between them is white hot. It certainly leads to what I see is a great tragic finale.

      • uplink2 says:

        Yes Bill, there is a very IMO disturbed portion of the fanbase that ships Deb/Dex. She is his sister but not by blood. Dex was adopted. But even so my skin crawled when they went down that road at the end of season 6. Deb loves Dexter and wants to be with him. Well some fans wanted that and I found it extremely disturbing on many levels. On one of the Dexter websites it is full of Hannah haters that want Deb and Dexter to end up together. Ewwwww.

        I have been a fan since season 2 and Deb is a very sympathetic character if you have watched her grow and develop. I love the potty mouthed girl but she is a waling disaster and I see no good outcome for her either.

      • aerox says:

        So you’re saying that once a show starts to decline, all other factors become irrelevant because the show has already begun to decline? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t even make any sense. Yes, the show started to decline long before Hannah entered the picture, but that doesn’t mean that once she did enter, the show became good. On the contrary, it kept being crap, and she–for me–is a major factor as to why it’s continued to be bad.

        Also, you have your episodes mixed up. She’s introduced in episode 3 (Shaw is introduced in episode 4 and hooks up with Sarah at the end of episode 7) and they have sex at the end of episode 6. Let’s not forget that, for most of these three episodes, Dexter was going to kill her because she was basically the human embodiment of the code. And the cheek-swabbing incident, where did that come from? Like, we’re told Dexter is in control for 6 seasons (and if you can find anything that contradicts this, I’d love to be told, because granted, my recollection of the first couple of seasons is very fuzzy) and suddenly he’s a bumbling lunatic who almost drops a cheek-swab because of what? A hot blonde? How is that different from a swizzling stick? He abandons every principle he has ever had for her, based on nothing but lust. And you know what? If the story went that Hannah and Lumen were him trying to replace Rita, or if it genuinely was only lust, I would’ve been okay with it. Hell, I would’ve endorsed it. But instead, they’re going for a contrived and bullshit love story that should’ve been repelled by everyone. I’m gonna go ahead and say it, this is a worse love story than Twilight. Because at least in Twilight, they didn’t try and cover up their intentions.

        Also, what life is this exactly? The flowery, mixed with the occasional murder of people she didn’t like? Because that’s what her character boils down to. She killed people who stood in her way. People have been lobbing up this argument that she does what she does to survive. So why did she kill the woman who owned the flowery before her? Would Hannah have died if she couldn’t take care of those plants? Why did she kill that woman from I think the parole office? And then she kills Sal Price because she blabs herself. Why does she try and kill Debra? It’s not because of the fact that she’s being pursued by police for the Randall killings, because she’s gotten an official pardon for that already. Could it be the Price kill? Sure, it could. But Hannah knows AFTER Dex tells her that he deleted the files, that Debra has jack shit on her. No, the real reason is that she thinks that Dex won’t be with her until Debra is out of the way. That’s not a survivor, that’s a spoiled brat. And then she marries a guy AND TRIES TO KILL HIM A COUPLE WEEKS LATER BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T LIKE HIM AFTER ALL. Also, she returns to Miami, looking exactly the same (and who wouldn’t recognize a 5ft9 blonde who looked like that?) without ANYONE noticing (good job Miami Metro, great stuff, God this writing :/) And then the writers have the gall to make her say she doesn’t like killing. I don’t like rollercoasters, so I don’t tend to go on them ever. She has killed more people than she has had hot dinners. They try and make it seem like it’s a necessity, but at the end of the day, it’s a choice. She basically says this in the same speech where she says that the Dark Passenger isn’t real. Just read that summary and tell me that isn’t a load of crap.

        As for Rita, she was most definitely a poorly conceived character (albeit with canon roots in the novels) in the first season, but as time went by, she was fleshed out more and more, and I began to care for her, which is why the S4 finale was as powerful as it was. Hannah could’ve been like this too, for sure. But they simply didn’t have the time frame for it, and it became a rush job, and a poor one at that. And saying that Rita was meant to be an illusion, well duh. Dexter spells it out for everyone. She’s his beard. His cover for when people start to question him. How can family man Dexter Morgan be a serial killer? Impossible! But then, he genuinely starts to fall for her, which he says very bluntly in S5 ( for reference). How is his love for Rita fake, but his love for Hannah real?

        Vogel, at the beginning of the season had a lot of potential, despite being such an obvious shoe-in. I figured that hey, it could be a nice change of pace. A real life Harry, without the obvious investment in Dexter, other than having a hard on for psychopaths. And then it just went to shit when they started telegraphing things (raise your hand if you’re still not convinced that Oliver Saxon is the Brain Surgeon and also possibly Vogel’s son) and made her like a surrogate mother. Honestly, I wouldn’t have even blinked if there was a scene where Dexter was lying on her lap and she was stroking his hair and telling him everything would be alright.

        About the idea of Hannah getting Harrison as both Deb and Dex die, it’s a very real possibility. But the notion of Dex that Harrison is going to be a serial killer just like him is bullshit from the get-go. Yes, he was also ‘born in blood’, but Harrison and the way he’s been growing up, have been completely in line with a normal child. He lied about the remote, yes, but as Jamie Batista says, everyone lies at one point in their life. Doesn’t make them a psychopath. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day, this is EXACTLY what they’re going with (Harrison the protegé) but it doesn’t have to be like that.

        And the reason I’m passionate about it, is because I invested time in this show. I loved, loved LOVED the first four seasons (minus the shitty one that is season 3, Hannah is almost matched in awfulness by Miguel) and I could see through the flaws (and there were many) that were S5/6. But it wasn’t until S7 that Dexter completely dropped any pretenses and became a rom-com. I invested more time in this than I did in Chuck (which I blew through in 2 years) because I’ve pretty much watched this since its pilot episode. I want to see this through to the end, but as far as Chuck/Dexter parallels go, this is my season 3. Imagine your visceral reaction to Shaw, and then multiply that by five, and that’s Hannah for me. And look, this isn’t an attack on you for liking Hannah. I’m happy for you. I wish I could like Hannah. Maybe then I could stomach this season. But I don’t, and it’s not even like looking at a trainwreck, it’s like being in said trainwreck, hurtling down the rails and knowing you can’t avoid the collision if you tried.

        I’m just sad I didn’t watch it when our public stations picked up the show. They stopped airing it after season 4. Best timing imo.

      • aerox says:

        Oh, and I agree, the Deb/Dex story was one of the biggest pieces of bullshit the show has ever churned out, and I’m glad they decided to drop it, because if they didn’t, it would be one more thing to rage about :/

      • uplink2 says:

        Well my friend aerox another very impassioned posting and though I don’t agree with much of it, I love that you feel that way. I love to see that kind of passion and that kind of dedication to a show. It’s why many of us are still here on this site 19 months after Chuck went off the air.

        I’m only going to comment on a couple of things. First Rita/Hannah . My reasons for thinking that his feelings for Hannah are more real than they were for for Rita, who you correctly call his beard, is that I never once saw any passion for Rita from him. He was the true psychopath who was incapable of real emotion. He cared about Rita and probably loved her in a limited way but he has grown in many ways and his passion for Hannah is off the charts. The reason for that is Hannah loves and accepts him in his entirety and he can be completely himself with her. Rita never knew of his dark side, and I agree with Hannah the the dark passenger idea is a crock. Rita only saw the facade and he could never completely surrender to her like he can with Hannah. It’s analogous to Sarah/Bryce vis a vis Sarah/Chuck. Sarah cared about Bryce and may have loved him in a way but Bryce never saw anything but what she allowed him to see and they were content with that. Chuck almost demands that Sarah be completely open to him, not necessarily about her past but about who she is as a person deep inside. That is why their love is so strong and passionate, similar to Hannah and Dex.

        I will say part of your passion and disappointment is unfortunately a consequence of just how good the show was at one point. Fortunately and unfortunately season 4 and the incredible Emmy winning performance of Lithgow set the bar so high for this show that it was impossible for it approach it again. Then another stroke of bad luck they followed their best guest star with their worst, Julia Styles. Plus Lumen was a horribly conceived character that made a farce out of what came before. The show was never the same after that disastrous season but it did get better. I still think 7 is the second best season and still have high hopes for 8. We just see a different show and it is reminiscent of the differences many of us felt with the direction TPTB chose for season 3 of Chuck. But I will say that even when Dex was bad i.e. season 3, 5 and 6 it was never as bad as Chuck was in season 3.

      • joe says:

        Chuck almost demands that Sarah be completely open to him, not necessarily about her past but about who she is as a person deep inside.

        Wow. I love it (and the discussion), but I think the word “demands” is not well chosen (and that may be important).

        Chuck almost never demands anything of Sarah – he requests, hopes for, silently wishes for and sometimes expects certain things of her, but I don’t recall a single demand. That’s part of the attraction he holds for her, I think.

        Bryce, by his very demeanor, seemed to demand certain things; even more so, Shaw. By contrast, Chuck draws them out of Sarah because he’s earned her complete trust and is much more willing to give of himself. I’m thinking about the “no secrets, no lies” pact in particular. Can you see either Bryce or Shaw adhering to that?

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, I agree. And it says something profound. Sarah’s relationship with Bryce and Shaw were spy ones. She didn’t love them. At least not in the romantic sense. Her relationship with Chuck was at an entirely different level. BTW, it makes her name reveal to Shaw scream OOC and lousy, manipulative writting even more when you think about it in that way (maybe that’s where we stop agreeing) 🙂

      • aerox says:

        It’s all in how it’s acted out. When Bryce kicked the bucket the first time, Sarah cried at his funeral, but dealt with it with a sort of shrugging way. She realized that it was part of the spy life and that when Bryce died, she felt betrayed. I still firmly believe that Sarah loved Bryce, whether it was with the same intensity as Chuck is a whole ‘nother story. But the point is, she dealt with it with a small amount of grieve. Dexter on the other hand goes absolutely berserk (he kills the guy in the bathroom in S5E01 with the anchor, all because he was being verbally provoked and he was still in a feedback loop of grief) and is literally stricken with grief, something that he manages to overcome through the help of the people around him and helping Lumen deal with her demons.

        I concur, S5 was pretty bad (especially in light of S4 which, while it had its flaws, was of a fine FINE quality) but at the end of the day, Lumen, while portrayed as an annoying woman (note how many of the women on this show are portrayed as needy/needing validation from others, even Hannah. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on this point) did teach Dexter a lesson in how redemption works. I won’t touch that relationship with a ten foot pole by the way, so don’t worry about that. I completely agree it wasn’t necessary. Then again, relationships (bar the one with Rita, which I think delivered the most powerful message of all–he had emotions and he could love) are a point I’ve always been frustrated with. Dexter doesn’t deserve a relationship, solely because of his persona. MCH, and Dexter by extent, is incredibly charismatic, but at the end of the day, Dexter is a serial killer. But they keep going for it, and now they’re basically rehashing lessons already taught to him.

        The reason Chuck/Sarah’s relationship was so strong had to do with two key points:
        – The chemistry between Zac and Yvonne was off the charts
        – They completed each other’s weaknesses with their own positive character aspects.

        Hannah/Dexter’s relationship doesn’t have either imo. The chemistry is lukewarm at best (Maybe it’s my own way of looking at it, but I feel like MCH was about to throw up when he had to say that line to Hannah at the airport) and they don’t complete each other. They’re basically the same person, with the exception that Hannah kills whoever gets in the way of her and the life she wants to lead. She basically admits she doesn’t have urges, or a dark passenger. She does it, because she can.

        But oh well, at the end of the day, we still have Breaking Bad. At least Gilligan understands that shows need to go out when they’re hot, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. What a phenomal first two episodes.

        But really, the frustration that people feel with Fedak and Schwartz, I have for Scott Buck. He made a farce out of one of the most exciting series on television.

      • joe says:

        Bill, yes, that *does* make the name-reveal seem more OOC, but I rationalize it by thinking Sarah was trying to be different – She was attempting to open to Shaw the way she opened to Chuck. The alternative was to revert back to the woman she was with Bryce and she rejected that. – score one for Chuck’s influence.

        It makes it seem that, in some sense, she was trying to replace Chuck with another Chuck rather than with another Bryce or with Shaw himself.

        Does that make any sense?

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s a nice try. 🙂 But that really doesn’t explain Sarah’s conflict in S3. She didn’t want Chuck to become spy like. Because she wanted to be in love with Chuck and didn’t want him to lose what made her love him. So substituting what she couldn’t have with Chuck with another spy who didn’t have any of those qualities doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        So I’m back to lousy, manipulative writing. Throwing Sarah’s character under the bus to get a single angsty scene.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe and Bill, when I chose the word “demand” I was talking more about the concept of Chuck and not Chuck himself. Part of what draws Sarah to him and allows him to get completely under her defenses is that yes he never actually demands anything of her. Even in the finale he says he doesn’t want anything from her. But what he does in effect demand is that he will not simply accept the “cover” as being enough on any lasting basis. He sort of demands that of himself and indirectly demands that Sarah completely open up to him and have something real or not anything at all. The “cover” for Sarah was plenty and more than enough for her for a long time. It was safe and it was thrilling. But it couldn’t last because Chuck indirectly demanded that it didn’t last. He never really consciously asked but his statement at the end of Lethal Weapon was pretty emphatic. There was no room for doubt that he was not going to let the Intersect deny him the life he wanted with the woman he loved who was clearly sitting right next to him.

        So in literal terms the word demand doesn’t fit but on a larger scale I think it does. To have the kind of satisfying and thrilling relationship Chuck offered her, it “demanded” that she completely surrender herself.

      • uplink2 says:

        Aerox, one difference between what Scott Buck did and what Schwedak did is that with Dexter it led to the most successful seasons the show has ever had ratings wise and with Chuck it tore the fanbase apart and 2 million viewers left the show never to return.

      • uplink2 says:

        To use Ernie’s concept from the other thread, The name reveal had only 2 purposes, to have Sarah hurt Chuck and to create more contrived angst and melodrama. The show’s mythology never goes much deeper than that. Any justification is purely conjecture on our part as I really don’t think there was any deep discussion of it’s meaning or long term impact. If there was I would have hoped someone would have raised both the “would this character actually say that” question or bring up the risk/reward balance. Because the risk/reward is heavily tilted one way and it isn’t a good way.

        It ultimately became the single most hated moment ever in the show for fans. It was completely OOC and gained them absolutely nothing that they ended up retconning it out of existance both in this episode and in the pre-nup.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I do think the intent in the name reveal is that for Sarah there is no going back. She can’t really be happy in another hollow spy type relationship. Chuck has made her want something real and substantive. So if she can’t have Chuck she will try to make Shaw into something real.
        Among the problems with that, I think the show never spent enough time on Sarah to make her motives clear.
        That and it undermines so much that was special and beautiful about the first two seasons. It was an ugly moment, that no one wanted to see, and it gained them nothing.

      • aerox says:

        The ratings were good, even before Yvonne made any sort of appearance. In fact, the episode where she shows up is the worst viewed episode of the entire lot of S7. And then the ratings are steady until they spike for the last two episodes.

        And as for S8, the ratings plummet the moment Yvonne shows up, and they continue to stay low. Part of this is undoubtedly the fact that Time Warner dropped Showtime, but the small climb the episode afterwards shows that people just don’t seem that enthused about her return.

        And talk about a fractured fanbase, one simply needs to look at the IMDB boards for Dexter. It’s like the freaking San Andreas fault over there.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        At the risk of re-starting something I’ll first agree with Uplink. The purpose was for Chuck to be absent at a critical time for Sarah and to be hurt, for Sarah to be having an emotional meltdown, and for the relationship to seem irreparably damaged. Because that’s where the characters were and where the story was. Sarah was an emotional basket-case so desperate for some refuge from watching Chuck turn into someone else that she essentially falls into an abusive relationship. Chuck is drifting away from everyone and everything he knows and loves and suddenly sees the distance (quite literally as the actual distance is a great metaphor here for how far from Sarah he has become) between them. Sarah is in pain and need, and it should be Chuck who she turns to, but he’s allowed himself to become so self absorbed he can’t be there for her.

        It does go at least that deep. The character justifications and back-story have always gotten more attention than the spy-world justifications and mythology.

      • uplink2 says:

        Great review of last week’s Dexter. I agree with virtually all of it and it sums up my feelings about the show much better than I did.

      • aerox says:

        Go on the Dexter IMDB boards and look for topics mentioning Hannah. Then find a user named HarrysParachute. He/she does a stellar job in explaining all my issues with Hannah as a character.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t mean to undermine the community spirit here, and I don’t object to discussions spilling over into a broad range of secondary topics, at least a little of that is natural and fine. But this is getting very involved on a show that isn’t Chuck, and really isn’t even the same sort of show. Such discussion might be more appropriate under the “Chuck News/Yvonne” header.

        Let’s keep this a Chuck site, some of us have no interest in Dexter!

  8. uplink2 says:

    So I rewatched last night and really enjoyed this episode. I would agree that it is an “average” Chuck episode and because of that it is a very pleasant way to spend 42 minutes of my time. But there are also a couple of key moments for me here. The first one that I’m actually surprised that neither Dave nor Joe mentioned is:

    “Sarah Walker…. Don’t forget it!”

    Yes I know I’m probably reaching here but to me this is in part an acknowledgement of how badly the name reveal was received. Sarah is affirming in very clear terms that her name is Sarah Walker and “Sam” will never ever be referenced again. We will see that done “legally” with the pre-nup. To me it’s almost an apology for the name reveal hidden in Sarah’s back story with Heather. Plus I love Heather’s constant use of Jenny/Sarah.

    I actually liked Nicole in this episode. She played the perfect little knat that picks at what they perceive is a tender spot incessantly. It came off perfectly to me as Sarah is clearly bothered by her and is taking out lots of high school aggression on her. The “accidental” kick to the head. “That felt good” after she kicked her ass. and the final resolution where Heather gives up what she knows. One thing about that scene was I found it surprising she said it with Panzer in the room. He was Volkoff’s assassin and she was betraying Volkoff right in front of him. That seemed odd.

    But another critical point in this whole Sarah realization thing is that they only “chatted” about babies. They never mentioned Sarah getting scared about the idea of getting married. Now that will be discussed next week with a great episode but I found that curious.

    On a technical point I remember Norman Buckley (He directed this episode) tweeting how much he loved the editing of the final sequence. So did I. Coming from Buckley who won an Emmy for editing the pilot that is saying something. I loved it and to me it is the best part of the episode. It is also one of the best uses of music in season 4 and there are a lot of them that season. I too fell in love with In the Valley because of it.

    All in all I really enjoyed this one as much on rewatch as the first time I saw it. It reminded me how I fell in love with this show and why I’m still obsessed with it.

    • atcDave says:

      You’re right I should have mentioned the “Sarah Walker” line. I do like how she’s taken ownership of that name. It’s who she’s decided she WANTS to be. I sort of think its been her legal name since Graham gave it to her; but thanks to Chuck, its finally become how she sees herself.

      It does seem to me the kids thing scares her more than getting married. I would call that proof of sanity.

    • uplink2 says:

      Also as we will see next week Sarah is used to change in her professional life but is very uncomfortable with it in her personal life on an emotional level. Her understanding that even with change emotional attachments can survive those changes and even flourish.

      • joe says:

        But there are also a couple of key moments for me here. The first one that I’m actually surprised that neither Dave nor Joe mentioned is:
        “Sarah Walker…. Don’t forget it!”

        Ack! I did mean to bring that up and quote that line! Thanks for the nudge, Uplink.

        In my defense, sheepishly offered, I’ll say that I brought it up the first three times I posted something on this episode. Wouldn’t want to repeat myself too much, you know. Regardless, oh yeah, it’s an important line and I’m sure part of that is TPTB apologizing for explaining away making amends for their decision in Fake Name.

        Even so, I’ve always been of the opinion that TPTB (probably Fedak) had one of the two Babylon 5 questions firmly in mind for Sarah – “Who are you?”. Sarah is constantly figuring out who she is, every bit as much as Chuck is, and the many names she’s had underscore the point.

        Maybe neither of them can begin to know the answer until they themselves in the others eyes.

  9. thinkling says:

    I’ve always liked Cubic Z. And this time around I liked it even more. In fact, I notice a thorough enjoyment of these episodes, because there’s no Fedak induced stress about the engagement: when it will be … if it will be. I can totally relax and enjoy the ride. And Cubic Z is a FUN ride. YS and ZL play off of each other so well, as they do through most of S4 and S5. There are too many funny moments and funny lines: manganese lining, supply closet, tough cop/ silent cop, ordering patio furniture, foot slipped. I just smile the whole way through.

    I think I enjoyed it as much as Suitcase. I’ll always love Suitcase for the last scene and some of its wonderful moments, but the relationship is a bit off kilter. In Cubic Z, the relationship is all good. Even though Sarah has an issue, she wants to talk about it, and Chuck isn’t insecure about it. There’s more maturity there, and it’s a delight to see.

    It was fun to watch Sarah process her fears related to her new life. That process goes from boxing therapy to calm discussion, with witty repartee along the way. Plus any episode that gives us more insight into Sarah is a favorite for me. In this case, watching with the knowledge of all that lies ahead, I think we learn some important things about her. Heather says Sarah is exactly like her. Chuck says Sarah is nothing like Heather. But Sarah herself says she was exactly like Heather for a long time. How does that add up? Here’s my take.

    Obviously Sarah’s moral compass is nothing like Heather’s, as Dave pointed out. That was made obvious in the first episodes. Heather sensed a vulnerability and poked at it, as Chuck said. In context, Heather said Sarah was like her: “all spy” … no rug rats and mini vans for her. That’s the focus, and it’s partially true. Sarah has confirmed this several times: in Phase 3 (without you I’m nothing but a spy); in Baby (I’ve changed – you changed me); in Cliffhanger (you’re a gift I never thought I would want or need); and in Wedding Planner to her dad about a life of adventure, never settling down (it was [what I wanted], but I’ve found a home here — a good one). So Sarah was like Heather, not in moral compass, nor in manipulating people for selfish agendas. But she was all spy. Or so she thought.

    But the flip side is — or I should say the inside is — that there was a part of Sarah that wanted love and family. But that part was shoved to the bottom of her suitcase and forgotten. That part never got a chance to develop … until Chuck. The same woman who said she was nothing but a spy also confessed that as a little girl she used to imagine the perfect family in the perfect home. She asked Casey if he ever wanted a family and children. She asked Carina if she ever thought about a different life. That girl never really got the chance to become. But that’s the part of Sarah that Chuck saw and kept connecting with, from day one, starting with the ballerina. Sarah didn’t become someone different. She became the girl, the woman, that was in her all along. In relationship with Chuck she hammered out her own identity, and the woman inside finally found expression in the Sarah Walker (Sarah Bartowski) we know.

    Sorry this is so long, but there’s a new wrinkle here. This is part of Sarah’s conflict in the finale. Sarah remembers herself as nothing but a spy (a good one), but Chuck keeps connecting with the woman inside, the one she became in relationship with him. Sarah’s theme or journey or inner conflict that we saw in Cubic Z is played out in a far more dramatic way in the finale. Without Chuck that inner Sarah would have been lost … twice. Instead she was twice found.

    • atcDave says:

      Thank you for so much good input Thinkling! I completely agree about how satisfying the Chuck/Sarah interplay is through S4 and S5. And no doubt that’s the main ingredient in making this such a fun episode. I find it even more satisfying on this re-watch without any real “tension” involving how things will resolve, it’s pure fun to watch them play out.
      Very helpful take on Sarah’s state of mind throughout. I particularly like how it informs for the post-finale era.
      Good stuff.

      • Dave says:


        You know when we discussed going straight from 2.22 to 4.01 but thought they needed some of S3 to have their relationship comfortable for S4? Well yesterday I saw the example.

        Got tired of the news and just hit play on a DVD upstairs and Role Models started playing and after only three months of “dating exclusively” (we learn that later) Sarah has mastered some very wifely things like…

        The bored, “I can’t believe he’s doing this” look ( “sit down, you’re making me nervous”)

        The incredulous, “I can’t believe you just said that that” glare ( “I can’t wait to work with these guys, it’s going to be great”, “Maybe he’s just giving her some fatherly advice” and “What we need to do is think of what the Turners would do”)

        That always cracks me up.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah Dave some good stuff. I always appreciate how comfortable and familiar they seem with each other. Especially Yvonne, just nails that stuff.

  10. oldresorter says:

    A quick comment, not sure where in here it came from, but the Buymore was discussed. For me, I loved s1/s2 Buymore, and gradually liked it less. But I don’t blame any character or writer for that, suprised as that might make some of you. Many shows like Chuck, the ‘normal’ guy setting gets decreased while the spy or detective or romance events ramp up and for me, Chuck made the Buymore hit on all cylinders. He had the right sense of humor to be the straight guy watching the antics, kind of how I felt about it as a fan. And whenever Sarah showed up, he played it perfect, in the nerd getting the girl sort of way, and the morons usually played it pretty well too s1/s2 regarding Sarah.

    In s3, the sidekick assumed much of Chuck’s role in the buymore antics, and it didn’t quite work but the 800 lb gorilla was in the room so who knows, but that was the right way to do it. I think Morgan probably should have stayed in that role as the normal guy and keeper of the secrets, while the Big three went on missions. Morgan took too much of the drama out of the spy story, and he was needed to keep the Buymore story relevant. Once he left, there was no character to ‘bridge’ the two lives.

    I also think in s3, Shaw and Hannah type characters as spies on the team would have been a good idea, and a new pair for s4 and another pair for s5 too, as serious, deadly, somewhat treacherous types (or at least one of them), but not as LI’s and PLI’s. Chuck needed to be more serious with the characters, if they wanted to tell serious stories. I suppose budget didn;t exist for such roles?

    • Which was a good argument for getting rid of the Buy More. The set and actors used too much of the limited budget they had. Without them they could have gotten better actors for more A-plot roles, rather than cluttering the screen with useless fluff. From a pure story perspective that’s what they should have done, but the business end forced them to keep the damn thing and ruined what could have been a great show.

      • thinkling says:

        I was never a huge fan of the Buymore, but I will say that S5 breathed new life back into it. (I actually enjoyed the Buymore after Jeff stopped sleeping in his van.) But all that is moot because, as I understand it, the Buymore carried more than its budgetary weight because of product placement. It was actually one of the funding sources of the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m fine with it as part of the revenue stream. I wish they’d had a few better ideas for it those last two seasons. S5 had awesome potential, but I thought only partially delivered.
        As I said elsewhere, it was occasionally very funny, I’m not too horribly disappointed in it. I’ll always wish for more, but it wasn’t a disaster.

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cubic Z (4.03) | Chuck This

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