Chuck vs the Couch Lock (4.05)

Couch Lock is more or less a Casey episode.  And a very funny one at that.  This is also the last stand alone episode for a while.  After the jump, we’ll discuss this week’s episode from the fourth season.

When Couch Lock first ran it was pre-empted by my local NBC affiliate for an hour long Ford commercial.  Made me want to trade in my Fusion…

But it did make for a memorable evening, staying up until 2:15 to watch Chuck. Now those of you who may have noticed my posting habits have likely noticed I’m routinely up until 2 am anyway.  And Tuesday has long been a day off for me.  So deciding to stay up a little late to watch Chuck was an easy decision.  Staying off the discussion posts until then was a little tougher.  And the memory of first watching this episode through drooping eyelids has stayed with me.  Ironically, this would happen two more times, yet I don’t even remember the other episodes involved.  I guess I got used to it.

Now THAT woke him up… or stupidly brave Part I

The enduring legacy of this episode for me, is just that its still a ton of fun.  That may make it another “average” Season Four episode.  But the standard is very high this season.  A few very funny moments here are Lester and Jeff trying to recruit Casey onto their “crew” (perfect nerd humor), Casey dialing the Buy More and getting Jeff when he wants Chuck, and the whole subsequent scene with Morgan trying to wake him.  That is one of those just painfully funny scenes.

stupidly brave Part II

The Iran mission is almost as funny; and proves beyond a doubt Morgan is a completely fearless moron.  Obviously a fearless moron is quite useful on occasion, but there’s a reason why he never runs a mission (!).

Even though the unofficial “Romance arc” is now over, there is still some wonderful Charah stuff in this episode.  The real stand outs being the scene at the booby trap (“you couldn’t tell me that before I crawled over here?”) and the very end.  But I just love seeing Chuck and Sarah working easily, and happily together as a team.  Chuck proclaiming Sarah, and others, as more important to him than learning his mom’s fate is the “gee sweet” moment of the week.

gee sweet… they’re getting good at this

Of course that comes from the most significant tidbit of information for this week, Chuck’s mom may not be an innocent victim or prisoner.  And that sounds like the sort of reveal that comes right before events are about to overtake the decision.  Maybe starting with a phone call…

~ Dave 
ct_bar

A-Team, Anyone?

Heh. My memories are similar, Dave, despite the fact that the episode wasn’t preempted in my area. Overwhelmingly, I was struck by clever use of characters based on a show that ran over 20 years earlier. I thought to myself; “Self? That’s the first time they’ve done that!”

Not George Pappard

Not George Pappard

Naw. It wasn’t the first time, and not the last. They had already done the equivalent of sampling audio tracks when they re-imagined Hart to Hart at the beginning of Role Models.

Joel David Moore

Joel David Moore

But this time, that bit of humor and nostalgia known as The A-Team was my biggest memory about the Chuck vs. The Couch Lock. Well, that, and the fact that 1) Eric Roberts plays a great George Peppard, 2) Joel David Moore is a great friend of Zac’s, and 3) that whomever casted for Chuck really, really likes the WWE.

Bautista as T.I. as B.A.

Bautista as T.I. as B.A.

Like you’ve heard me say before, it was different this time. What caught my attention was something else entirely. It was Sarah.

Think of it. No kisses, no (tasteful) bedroom innuendo, no “sexting” and no bikinis in this episode. But Sarah caught my attention anyway and did it for one very quiet, understated reason – family. That was, in fact, the undertone of the entire episode.

Ellie We have news. [To Devon] On the count of three. Ready? Okay? One…
Devon: [shouting] It’s a girl!

Heh! Wouldn’t have it any other way. Yup, it was a real joyous occasion, even if everyone was soon planning Casey’s “death” by Fakeadeathanol overdose and funeral.

Too much Fakeadeathanol

Too much Fakeadeathanol

Dave’s right, of course; this is a Casey episode. This is where Casey becomes officially and forever one of the family. Well, I suppose he was before this, but look at what happens the moment Casey’s body disappears. Sarah is on the phone scrambling a major tactical force to look for him.

Sarah: Call Tactical. I want a hundred men locked and loaded, ready to go on my command.

Make that commanding a tactical force to look for him. I’ll confess now that up to this point I hadn’t seen Sarah as any sort of “commander.” Lone wolf, yes. Brilliant spy, of course. But not commander. Here, her authority is unquestioned.

The women reading may hate to see me write this, but what I found even better was when one of her decisions was – let us say overruled – by Chuck when they were hot on Casey’s trail.

Chuck: Well, he can’t have gotten far. There’s gotta be a clue or something. Like an open window.
Sarah: He could be inside. I’ll call Tactical.
Chuck: No, no, no. We don’t have the time to waste. We’re here right now. Let’s go.

Sarah is smart and resourceful. Chuck is her equal. I love that, and I love that Sarah is willing to defer to his judgment this time. It signals, or at least emphasizes, that Chuck and Sarah are not bumbling, stumbling and accidentally making their way in the world. They are doing something far more impressive than that as a couple.

I also love the idea that they’re doing it to save the newest member of the family, Casey. Oh, wait. Chuck realizes that he put them on this mission for his own selfish reasons; to find his mom.

Next time, say something *before* she crawls under the lasers.

Next time, say something *before* she crawls under the lasers.

Chuck: Sarah, I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.
Sarah: What are you talking about?
Chuck: I was so set on trying to find my mom that I let my emotions take over. And now I’ve put everyone that I care about in danger. First Casey, now you.
Sarah: Oh, my God, this is complicated.

It is complicated, because families are complicated (and also because the booby trap is complicated 😉 ). In a line that’s pitched emotionally perfectly, Sarah reminds Chuck immediately that Casey knew the risks as well as she. They are doing it for family and yes, Chuck, you are being ridiculous!

When times go bad
When times go rough
Won’t you lay me down in tall grass
And let me do my stuff

Dating Casey's daughter

Dating Casey’s daughter

C&S saving Casey and Morgan saving everybody is more fun than anxiety-building, which is always a nice thing in a show that tends to ramp-up emotional levels. No trauma here. Morgan’s difficulties facing Casey about his dating Alex is romantic-comedic frosting on the cake. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a bit of a spoiler – Morgan has to sacrifice his relationship with Alex in order to save her from Casey’s traitorous team, who are out to kill him. Casey returns the favor by putting Morgan back in Alex’s good graces. Ah, family. Isn’t it great?

It is. But I said that of all the characters in this episode, it was Sarah who stood out, and she stands out for the same reason. No, it’s not news that Sarah has been becoming part of the family all along. It’s that now we can see her adopted family has become much more important to her. Maybe we can even say that, just like for Chuck, nothing is more important. That’s how much her priorities have shifted.

Sarah: Is this the part where I’m supposed to ask you what you’re thinking about?
Chuck: My mom. I thought she was a prisoner who needed to be saved. And then I come to find out she’s just one of the bad guys.
Sarah: Chuck, we don’t know what side your mom’s on.
Chuck: Maybe not. But there’s one thing I do know. In order to find the one person who left me, I’ve endangered the lives of everyone who would never leave me. Morgan, Casey, you… I’m gonna stop looking for my mom.
Sarah: Oh, Chuck…
Chuck: No, it’s okay. I thought I had to bring my family back together, but I don’t. You guys, Awesome, Ellie, you’re my family. I love you.
Sarah: I love you. I’ll see you inside.

To my eyes, Chuck and Sarah never looked more like a couple before this, especially is that place, Echo Park, by the fountain, where they belong. They’re facing hard decisions together. Difficult? Yes. But is there anything missing from their lives?

Hello, Chuck?

Hello, Chuck?

That’s when the phone rings to leave us with the best cliffhanger since the end of First Kill.

Chuck: Hello?
Woman’s voice: Hello, Chuck? It’s – your mother.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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130 Responses to Chuck vs the Couch Lock (4.05)

  1. BillAtWork says:

    This was a good solid episode for all of the reasons Joe and Dave listed. I actually liked Jeff and Lester in this one (and that alone makes it special). I also liked the Sarah gently making fun of Chuck “You could have told me that before I crawled over here.” Sarah being confortable enough in their relationship that she’s now willing to poke fun at him about it is a major growth moment that can’t be overemphasized IMO. It sets the stage for Phase Three.

    But I’m still struck by the corner that they painted themselves into with Frost. They spent so much time making us (and Chuck) believe that she was bad, it seems silly to later brush all of that off like the crumbs after eating a nutty donut.

    • joe says:

      Heh. I shouldn’t admit it, but I also thought it was funny that Casey could smell Jeff and Lester coming up behind him before he saw them. Made me laugh.

      I’ll be writing more about that “is Frost good or bad?” idea, Bill, I’m sure. I haven’t re-watched that far ahead yet, but my initial reaction was that they played it pretty well, especially when you couple it with the idea of Sarah helping Chuck with his blind spot. Perhaps, ultimately, the justification for Mary staying so long in deep cover wasn’t enough, but that’s something else.

      BTW, did anyone notice that they used that same plot idea on Covert Affairs last week? Augie’s former partner/lover/wife came back from the cold (and he thought she was dead for the past 5 years). They’re also using the idea that spies can’t fall in love – the job gets in the way.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But so far, look at what they’ve told us about Frost.

        She was part of the team that supplied nuclear weapons pointed at U.S. cities to a rogue nation (did the CIA really not know this?) Wow.

        She wasn’t part of the gang in Couch Lock. She was the boss.

        If the future Volkoff calls her his right arm. She played Chuck and led Volkoff to Orion’s lab. She shot Chuck and took the intersect away from him.

        How can she be good?

        But I do agree that’s a separate issue than if it took her 20 years to do what Chuck could do in a week.

      • joe says:

        How can she be good? Easy one, Bill. She was Chuck’s mom, and right at the beginning of the arc, we are pretty much told shown in the flash back that she loves him.

        added: Yeah, they were doing a pretty transparent gambit here, the mother-equivalent of the WT/WT we saw with C&S in S1 and most of S2. Someone, I’m guessing Fedak, enjoyed giving us a bit of doubt despite the solid evidence we had.

        What can I say? I knew I was being played that way, but I enjoyed it too.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But aren’t those two separate things? I don’t dispute that she loves Chuck and Ellie. Although leaving them in the middle of the night with no explanation and being gone for 20 years doesn’t elicite a nomination for mother of the year, does it?

        How can you be undercover as Volkoff’s right arm for 20 years without at some point actually become Volkoff’s right arm? Is finding the Hydra network worth suppling nuclear weapons to rogue nations? At some point her mission objective wasn’t worth the evil she comitted in it’s pusuit.

        I would argue that she was more the problem than the solution. Again, I don’t think the writing set up her story well enough to be believable. What’s with the PSP taking away the intersect. “Your father never wanted you to see this… but he was wrong.” When did that conversation take place? Twenty years ago? Lots of issues with that. More recently? Lot’s of issues with that.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I never really doubted which way things would end either. But maybe this makes for a perfect story where they could have gone a little darker. Or something more like the Darth Vader end, turning at the very end and going out in a blaze of glory.

        Anyway, the biggest problem I have with it is how utterly stupid Mary must be if she was truly just trapped undercover for 20 years. And by association, how very stupid that makes Sarah for a couple weeks.
        I think it would have played much better if instead of Sarah seeking coping advice from Mary, she had gone in with a concrete plan. And the biggest challenge was convincing Mary to do the right thing and HELP her.
        They tried too hard to make Mary seem likable and heroic at the end of the arc, and too much time trying to make her look shady early on.

      • joe says:

        Hum! Interesting point. Now I feel like an idiot for not having made the “Darth Vader” connection.

        I’ll tell you one interpretation of mine that’s different from yours, though, Dave. For me, it wasn’t so much Mary trapped by Volkoff; it was Mary trapped by an Intersect (well, okay, the Intersect 0.5 maybe). It was her against, essentially, a machine, which make her seem a little less stupid in my eyes. 20 years in deep cover is still too far fetched, if only because the rationale has to change over that time period. But it’s at least a nod in the direction of plausibility.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe,

        I was going to wait for First Fight. But if Intersect 0.5 turned Hartley into Volkoff, and removing it turned him back, then why didn’t Mary simply show him the PSP instead of Chuck? Problem solved, right?

      • joe says:

        No; I’m pretty sure that the objective wasn’t to remove Volkoff (a bullet would have done that long before Steven finished the PSP device). Kill Julius Caesar and you get Augustus. The objective (and maybe the mission) was to bring down the entire empire, which is a much tougher deal.

        There’s always people ready to ascend to the throne, right?

      • BillAtWork says:

        But removing the intersect wouldn’t kill him. It would have turned him back into Hartley, a good guy who could have undid all of Volkoff’s evilness, right? Problem solved.

      • Bill, Mary’s explanation for that was that her goal was to “remove the network, not the man.” We eventually see that born out when Vivian Volkoff steps into her father’s role without any real difficulty.

      • Also, I agree with Dave on this one. This was the one place where it could have really worked if Chuck had to go with a darker narrative. But one of the few issues with S4 is that they over-corrected their errors from S3. Instead of learning to take better risks, they decided not to take any risks at all. The cast was talented enough to pull it off, but Mary would have been a lot better with a few more ethical flaws.

      • oldresorter says:

        From my POV I was OK with a dark narrative in Chuck, other than for Chuck and Sarah, who I wanted banter, light heartedness, and a water fountain moment or two every ep for, along with unwaivering fun, faith, trust, honesty and openness. Season 4 needed Mary to be the big bad, with redemption at the end, kind of how Volkov / Winterbottom arc went. Heck, Mary could have been the intersect gone bad even instead of Hartley, that probably would have / could have explained everything that didn’t make sense?

      • atcDave says:

        I’m always a little squeemish about darker stories. Although fine with bad guys being quite thoroughly “bad”, I would prefer things be a little brighter for my heroes. So yeah, Chuck and Sarah in particular I have no interest in any darker stories. That sort of extends to Ellie, Devon and Morgan. I like the way Casey started darker, then grew into something better.
        But no doubt, Mary just needed to be something more. Trapped in a 20 year mission makes her look utterly stupid. Or not really interested in getting home. And that’s what I really think they needed to play with more. We know she did plenty of nefarious things in her cover with Volkoff, maybe having her be the Intersect test subject would have worked well. But one way or another we needed a little more. Something to show she had changed and/or learned a lesson . Not that I wanted Mary to be become a much bigger story, but I really wanted to see Chuck and Sarah have to DO something to get her ready to return home.
        I do think they were a little scared to go too dark again after S3, so Mary’s story got a softer treatment than I think she should have. I guess I would admit, I’d rather have them error the way they did than make things too ugly.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave.

        I really think that Hartley was invented late to try and make some sense of the mess they created. Mary wasn’t stupid. She was just looking out for her and her husband’s friend Hartley.

        Infortunately, it just doesn’t work on a ton of different levels. Had they planned on the outcome early, they could have written for it. I love the idea that Orion/Frost were in constant contact over those 20 years. That’s the back story that could have been fun. C/S feeling pressure to become Orion/Frost 2nd generation would have been a great story to start S4. Instead of the false wt/wt get engaged/married, they could have played on the contrast between what Orion/Frost became vs what C/S were willing to become. That could be a romantic story on several levels, kept them in the spy world without the silly starting a private business, and would have made sense.

        But some things would have had to have been changed. You couldn’t have Orion send Chuck on a dangerous mission to find mom when he knew where she was. That would have had to change. The whole ‘Mary is bad’ arc of early S4 would have also had to have change.

        That’s why having a plan early on is so important. They got painted into a corner by some early decisions.

      • uplink2 says:

        Arthur, even someone like me who Season 4 is their favorite would have to agree with you on this. Because of the very large negative reaction to season 3 they became risk adverse in season 4. The compounded their mistakes from season 3 by over compensating in season 4 and though the got the shippers back they drove the spy story fans away. They took the wrong lesson from season 3.

        The problem with season 3 wasn’t that they chose to tell a darker story, in fact that darker story was needed IMO. The problem was they overlayed the ridiculous, unnecessary and poorly cast OLI story over it. It and Shaw in particular dragged everything down in the mud so deeply that the necessary spy story became impossible to see through the crap of the OLI’s. It wasn’t that they kept Chuck and Sarah apart, it was HOW they kept them apart. The relationship drama that was so soundly rejected unfortunately caused them to really not risk any serious stakes on any level in season 4. You don’t have to redeem everybody that was connected to Chuck.

        The Mary character as Bill pointed out was a mess in that she was involved with selling nuclear missiles to a rogue nation and never once notified them. If she was the great spy she was supposed to be and Orion was the genious he was supposed to be, how could they have not found a way to notify the CIA about nukes in Costa Gravis? That is a supreme threat to our nation and those of us who were alive when a similar story actually happened, it was a close to nuclear war as the world has ever seen. Yet they tried to excuse all that and say she was just stuck in her mission with no way out. But if that is the case then how do you explain her knowledge of the PSP seeing it hadn’t been invented when she took off?

        I have always felt that the lack of communication between Orion and Frost was their biggest mistake. I mean Chuck was able to infiltrate Volkoff’s network, why couldn’t Orion contact Frost? We will get into this all later on but though I love the fun of Season 4 so much and I watch first for the relationship anyway, The spy story of season 4 has some of the biggest plot holes of the series.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill and Uplink I mostly agree with all of that. I’m not eager to advocate a much darker story, that’s so common on television now I’m seriously fatigued by it. But no doubt the S3 story needed a little darker just as Chuck entered the spy world for real, including those parts Sarah had shielded him from as an asset. I guess as far as that goes, they handled things pretty well. No doubt it was the LIs that most damaged that story (as in, dominated to distraction).

        I do agree we need to assume Frost and Orion had some contact over the years. No matter what was implied by the show, it simply presents fewer logical problems (but not none!). And Chuck using Orion’s equipment to hack Volkoff’s system suggests VERY strongly that such contact was possible.

      • uplink2 says:

        Damn lack of edit function, of course I meant the spy story of season 4 not 3.

      • atcDave says:

        Got it Uplink!

      • Wow, I agree completely with uplink. Marking it on my calendar 🙂

        Bill, you responded to me below, and then that thread went bananas, so I’ll reply here. You’re totally right, that excuse is weak and ridiculous. I was just pointing out that they didn’t ignore it completely. They just botched the whole thing. One of the good things about Mary is that the character is so dull that I don’t really care about her storyline to begin with, so the plot holes don’t bother me. Also, because it’s Chuck, and I never expect it to make sense. Hooray for low expectations.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Arthur. I agree. She was a dull character.

        But she didn’t have to be. There was a great story there waiting to be told. Does Sarah look at Mary and see herself in 20 years? Does she vow to not make that happen? What happened with Orion? Was he her asset? Did she fall for him much like Sarah did with Chuck? Only with tragic results?

        There were tons of great opportunities there.

    • atcDave says:

      For itself, Couch Lock is a such a fun episode. But I do agree some about the corner for Frost. She has too much baggage for the cheap redemption she gets in Push Mix. I do love a good redemption story, but sadly this isn’t really one of them. It does fall flat. I don’t want to make too big a thing of it, clearly the writers didn’t either. I’m more interested in Chuck and Sarah’s story, and I love exactly how it’s played here, I love the story ahead, and I love the back arc for Charah too.
      It does seem like a shame they couldn’t have done better with Mary. As I’ve said before; either keep her truly tragic, and have her go out as a villain. Or tell a better redemption story. What they did was somewhere in between and not really very satisfying. And it will make Sarah look sort of stupid by default too from the end of Gobbler through Push Mix. That’s the biggest loss to me.

      But again, the Charah story ahead is awesome. So on balance, I’m content with what was delivered.

    • authorguy says:

      I guess that’s why I was never a big fan of season 4 or 5, no real coherent story, like the first three seasons had. None of my rewatches ever got past the end of S3. The episodes are great on their own but the season feels like a bunch of really nice charms strung on a bracelet made of spliced together pieces of string.

  2. anthropocene says:

    Wouldn’t Danny Elfman have made a terrific Chuck villain….!

    • joe says:

      Okay, where do I know Danny Elfman from? I see references to Oingo Boingo (see the Dead Man’s Party video) and Desperate Housewives, but I can’t quite place him.

    • atcDave says:

      You mean like Tim Jones?

      • anthropocene says:

        Yes, like Tim Jones. Looking at Danny Elfman’s great facial expressions in the “Dead Man’s Party” video (thanks joe!), I could just see him as an over-the-top Chuck baddie. But I’m sure his day job of scoring all those big-budget movies kept him way too busy.

      • joe says:

        Ack! Antho, you mean to say he’s the guy in the video? Shouldda guessed (and you’d think that I’d be paying more attention!) 😉

      • anthropocene says:

        That’s him. I like his music, including the soundtracks. I “used” another Oingo Boingo song in one of my fanfics.

    • macnab13 says:

      Danny is a great talent well beyond his song writing. For some reason I’m thinking he really did play a baddie at least once in a TV show or movie.

  3. andereandre says:

    I have one gripe with this otherwise fantastic episode and that is the escape.
    One moment the three are cuffed in the cave, and Morgan electrocutes the villains and himself.
    The next moment they are outside waking up Morgan.
    Does anyone have an explanation?
    (First time poster here, but I have read a lot of the posts and comments here. Thanks to everyone).

    • BillAtWork says:

      I’m afraid that there is no explanation. Other than the obvious one anyway. It’s just one of those supension of disbelief moments that you have to have to watch this show. At least this one is minor and doesn’t alter the overall story or reflect badly on the characters. 🙂

    • atcDave says:

      Hey andereandre welcome aboard!

      That is a good catch and I don’t believe there’s a really good answer! Although maybe it’s due to Sarah’s amazing skills and flexibility, it seems to me she escaped a similar situation in Santa Suit. So maybe she was just waiting for an opportunity when no one was watching, and Morgan provided it.

    • joe says:

      Glad to see you coming in from the cold, Ander! Yeah, that’s a common TV thing, that the star/hero always escapes inevitable death impossibly at the last second. For me, the question was never “How is Chuck going to save the day this time?”, but “Will Sarah kiss him this time?” (at least, through S1 and S2 that was the question).

      More seriously, the ones that drive me a bit bonkers are the NCIS-type saves, where they play games with the time-line. They’re always across town when the danger to Tony (or Ziva or Tim) is recognized, but Gibbes always makes it to Georgetown (or West Virginia or Baltimore) on time to make the rescue. Cut-aways are a marvelous thing, almost as good as time-machines.

      • andereandre says:

        It reminds me of a Monty Python scene where the firing squad, after missing (who shot himself in the foot), tries to finish the job by rushing in with bayonets.
        Next scene: “well, that was a miraculous escape”.

    • mr2686 says:

      This is a very solid episode, and one I love to re-watch. As far as explaining the escape, I don’t think one is necessary. Let’s face it, is it any better or worse knowing how they got away…I’m thinking Chuck using his mouth to take out the laser pen from Casey’s pocket and perfectly use it to free them (in Nacho Sampler). I think an occasional “they just escaped” to save time works, especially when the rest of the episode is so darn fun.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Except that they took great pains to show them in an untenable situation. The detail of how they escaped seems relevent. But this is one of those things that you simply have to live with to enjoy the show on any level. There are too many to fret over. It’s like Sarah being the only employee in a fast food place yet able to leave whenever she wants for days at a time. As long as it doesn’t affect the long term story or throw an established character under the bus, I can overlook some things.

      • atcDave says:

        We really did see Sarah escape from an almost identical situation in Santa Suit. I think its easy enough to assume the same here. This doesn’t qualify as any sort of problem to me at all.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Except Dave, in Santa Suit she used a knift from her shoe to cut her rope bonds. Here they are in metal shackles. It must be a sharp knife. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Okay I just looked at the scene again and I would say they were pretty loose metal shackles that would only be effective when a guard is on duty. Sarah in particular could likely slip out quite easily (they were rigid, one size fits all). And of course Casey could always break his thumbs…

        It just doesn’t register as a big deal to me.

      • andereandre says:

        I am totally happy with totally ignoring totally huge plot holes in Chuck.
        This one just irks me every time I see it, but without taking away any of the pleasure.

    • I don’t see how this is a plot hole at all. How many times have we seen Sarah break out of handcuffs while being tied up by her wrists? The power went out, she pulled the move she pulled in Santa Claus, broke everybody else out, and did some quick CPR. Events happen offscreen all the time, and this wouldn’t have been particularly exciting.

      • atcDave says:

        Especially when you go back and look at how loose those manacles were. I think Sarah was having to hold on to keep from falling out of them.

  4. CaryGooper says:

    No love here for the nearly shot-by-shot recreation of the wake scene in Charade, the great Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn movie from 1963? Check it out, folks, and you see the service for Casey is very faithful to the scene in Charade. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8FA5zBHiFA Except that Charade had Ned Glass, James Coburn and George Kennedy coming to view the body. It’s one of the Chuck’s best homages, I think. And so unexpected since the Charade remake (The Truth About Charlie) in 2002 was so awful!

  5. uplink2 says:

    So now that the summer is unofficially over I can get back to our regularly scheduled rewatch. So last night I rewatched Coup and Couch Lock, interestingly enough with episode 7 of this season of Dexter in between. That is an interesting experiment for anyone who is interested in seeing how completely different the characters of Sarah and Hannah are and how incredibly talented Yvonne is by showing that so completely. It’s true talent that you don’t think of either of the other characters when she is on screen. She is Hannah and she is Sarah.

    This was probably only the second time I rewatched this episode. I enjoyed it when it aired though I had to wait a week as I was out of the country at the time but liked it. Casey specific episodes can sometimes be hit or miss. Undercover Lover and Sensei come to mind as weaker episodes. TicTac is probably the best episode of the first 12 of season 3 even with that god awful, unnecessary, contrived angst filled final scene. But if you reedit it substituting the deleted scene at the fountain with Morgan and Chuck instead, it is a top 25 episode for me. With the taxi scene from canon it drops considerably but still remains well above the rest of the 12. I think overall Couch Lock is better than the earlier 2 but below Tic Tac. It has lots of good humor, probably more humor than any other Casey episode. It has a decent B story and some good guest stars. Plus the final fountain scene is exactly what was missing so much in the previous season. This is the show at its heart. These moments are why I fell in love with the show and when they didn’t have any for weeks upon weeks, why I almost left the show behind. But it is a great moment for them as a “couple of equals”. Extremely well done scene with a great cliffy.

    It is funny but I picked up on something I didn’t see or catch before in this episode. It is another of the many Die Hard shout outs. In the bunker Joel’s character says a line that Gruber says in the first movie. “Sitting on a beach making 20%”. So even after all this time there are still little gems to find.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink

      “x2”- I agree with what you said re: Casey episodes except I have always loved Undercover Lover which ranks up with Tic Tac for me. Sensei is my lowest with Couch Lock at #3 and Kept Man at #4. (Kept man is hilarious until they wind up in the swamp, that wasn’t so good).

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree about Undercover Lover, I really like that one a lot.

        Kept Man sort of fails for me with oblivious Chuck and the “sensitive spies” gag. It’s too much buffoonish Chuck for me.
        Otherwise I agree with your rankings Dave.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I left out Kept Man because we aren’t there yet. But Undercover Lover just never really struck me as all that much. I liked the scene with Chuck and Sarah and the Russians dancing but that was the highlight for me.

      • atcDave says:

        I love the Chuck/Casey tied up fight ending in the leap to the pool. That was Chuck’s first Emmy! And an awesome fight sequence, makes me laugh every time.

        It’s easily my favorite episode without much Sarah. But her look when Chuck and Casey go over that balcony is priceless!

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        In KM Chuck is a bit off, but Sarah carries the first half. I’ll save specific comments till we get there, but Sarah’s expressions were fantastic.

    • Dave says:

      I also meant to say that Jeff-Lester was a thumbs up in this ep. Since S2, only 8-10 times have I said that Jeff-Lester was a plus, usually they’re a drag on an episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think Jeff and Lester work very well in this episode. From trying to get Casey to play Magic with them to the whole “man down!” bit. Very funny.

      • atcDave says:

        One bit of meta humor I see in this. Part of why Jeff and Lester are so funny in trying to befriend Casey, is precisely because they are often so stupid and such losers. So a hundred really stupid Jeff and Lester moments go into making this one extra funny.

    • Yes! Sarah’s bit about Casey’s bikini was quite the enlightened bit of humor.

      • Oops, that got put in the wrong place somehow. Was responding to Dave about Kept Man.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Arthur, here is my point.

        If she wanted to take down the network, who better than good friend Hartley who owns the network (along with the Volkoff empire) to help her? And she could make him Hartley again by simply pointing the PSP at him. And since she knew what the PSP did and where to find it, one call to her PSP inventing husband in say, week one of her 20 year mission solves the problem. Agent Frost suddenly has the next 19 years and 51 weeks free. 🙂

        Not to mention it makes Dream Job seem pretty silly now. Why all the drama in Roark Industries if Orion had an Intersect removing PSP in his basement lab.

        It seems pretty obvious to me. Except that at the time FF was written I would bet several strategic parts of my anatomy that the writers had never heard of Hartley. He was made up when they found out that they could get Tim Dalton for some more episodes.

        It’s one of those thing where the lack of an overall story plan causes them to look foolish sometimes.

      • Dave says:

        How about the look on Sarah’s face when she walks in on Verbanski spanking the “naughty Colonel”. Priceless.

      • atcDave says:

        Well Bill, I think we do have to conclude the PSP devise was created later, probably late in S3. Possibly even at the same time he made Chuck’s governor. It presents far too many problems if it was made before Mary disappeared, not least being it would be unlikely to have a good quality display device of that size in the early 1990s. Then add in a computer/memory issues, and I think it just has to be a much newer gadget.
        Obviously, this requires contact between Frost and Orion, at least briefly, in 2010. Perhaps some communication/contact did occur fairly regularly. I actually prefer this idea.

        Of course it does still beg the question why they didn’t remove the Intersect from Volkoff/Winterbottom once they were able. But I don’t believe there is a good answer for that one.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave. I agree that Frost / Orion having recent contact solves that problem. And it even makes a better story. But it causes a bigger problem. Orion sent Chuck on a dangerous mission from the grave to find and rescue mom, when he knew full well where she was and why. I’m afraid there isn’t a way to have that both ways.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I think you can get past that by having Orion realize she would never come home until her mission was complete. So seeing now how Chuck handled the 2.0 and had Sarah at his side so completely his aversion to having Chuck involved in something dangerous was overwritten by the fact that he believed he could do what he, Stephen, had failed to do as a lone wolf. Plus Sarah would be there to protect him with her life if necessary.

      • BillAtWork says:

        uplink, I don’t have an issue with Steven sending Chuck on a dangerous mission. but to conclude that he was regularly communicating with Frost, he knew where she was and why. He could have told Chuck that instead of allowing him to go on dangerous missions to find it out for himeself.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess for that I’m willing to assume Chuck got an incomplete briefing from Orion. Maybe he was busy with getting killed and all. Or maybe Orion just assumed Chuck would be able to get better intel through the CIA than he did; between impulsively quitting and redacted records.
        I’ll agree there’s a problem, but not what I would call a huge one.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree it does but that is where the long term plan for the series should have come in. If you are going to have them communicating you have to change the narrative at the end of season 3. But unfortunately this is one of the show’s/Schwedak’s greatest weaknesses. Many times it appears that they didn’t learn from their own lead character and have the five year plan for the series drawn up on the back of a poster in the writer’s room. As you and others have pointed out much of what comes in the later seasons negates prior canon. The Dream Job/PSP conflict for example.

        Now I will give them something of a pass because of the fact they had 6 possible finales and that will certainly change the course of things but they could have done a better job of that.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I give them a pass on a lot of things (I know that it doesn’t sound like it often) I do.

        But the PSP thing (and the whole First Fight episode when it really comes down to it) isn’t one of them. First Fight was in mid season. The story is so twisted and has so many things that Volkoff anticipated that he couldn’t possibly have known that the PSP is actually one of the more minor holes. The undoing of a major dramatic scene in Dream Job is unforgivable. It’s like the writer of the episode has never seen the show before. And this is not some obscure plot hole. It hit me as I was watching it live. I find it hard to believe that someone in that writer’s room didn’t say ‘wait a minute.” The only reason for the entire episode was to take the intersect away from Chuck to produce another faux relationship crisies and fix it in Phase Three.

        I can only conclude that telling a consistent story simply wasn’t important to them.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree continuity could have been better at times. But I also think its safe to say they were completely making it up on the fly after S2. Whatever outline they once had was forgotten.
        Part of that does involve the end of S3/Search for Frost. It doesn’t play out quite like Orion said at the end of S3. But you know, this is so common on television. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen story details dropped or modified as things unfold. It’s just the nature of the beast.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think you aren’t giving them nearly as much slack as you claim. It really isn’t a dramatic spy show. It just isn’t. It’s a comedy.
        But even if it weren’t, you just can’t expect ANY television show to stand up under this kind of scrutiny. They will ALL fall apart when fans are still nitpicking over stories six years later. Fans can ALWAYS find the plot holes and continuity errors (really, read some other show’s fan sites. The parallels, and how much we all sound alike, are amusing. I have been on other fan forums where I was literally thinking “oh there’s Ernie, and this one is Jason, I’d recognize Bill anywhere, and there’s me…”). And this is all still nothing compared to something like Star Trek with all it’s different incarnations, or any comic that’s been around for 50 years or more. We’re dealing with episodes written in a couple of weeks by a variety of staff writers, who have competing time, budget, and production issues we aren’t always privy to. It’s one thing to recognize a variety of conflicts and inconsistencies, but I think we often cross the line into belly aching.
        The show told us that Orion and Mary had been out of touch for 20 years. But it showed us the opposite. It is what it is.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Wow, Dave,

        We usually see things pretty much in the same light. But I have to tell you, I disagree with pretty much all of that.

        First off, Chuck called itself a Dramedy. It wanted to be taken seriously. It wanted us to become invested in the characters and the storyline. There are shows that didn’t care (Get Smart). Chuck wasn’t like that. Even though it had it’s light, sometimes bordering on farce moments, they expected you to believe their story. They expected you to speculate on what was going to happen next and enjoyed often fooling you. They sold us on characters like Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Orion, and Mary. They expected us to identify with them (or loathe them). That’s why we’re still talking about this show when it’s approching being off the air for 2 years now.

        They made the switch from an episodic format to a serial one. We didn’t do that, they did. I believe that they have a larger obligation to story continuity than a purely episodic show like Star Trek or Big Bang or Bones.

        In hindsight, moving to a serial format was a mistake. It only amplified their inattention to continuity. I’m much happier with a lot of episodes like DeLorean or Coogers or even Sensei that don’t depend on story continuity.

      • joe says:

        @Bill

        I give them a pass on a lot of things (I know that it doesn’t sound like it often) I do.

        But the PSP thing (and the whole First Fight episode when it really comes down to it) isn’t one of them.

        Yeah, sometimes it feels like TPTB were aka Plot Holes R Us.

        Sometimes they just feel like major jewels dropped on the floor; the bracelet, the PSP, and my favorite, Orion/Stephen’s death. I could brush that one aside, Stephen dying in a regeneration lab, but for one thing: He came back to taunt Volkoff.

        Yeah, I know that we saw Chuck planting a virus in Volkoff’s computer, and Chuck has been a master hacker from the beginning. But, you know, I decided that we’re not really told that he left those messages. We’re only left to make the assumption.

        The whole thing makes me believe that the writing team (and probably Fedak) operated that way. They were always, maybe habitually, leaving things open for the future, just in case they got renewed or just in case they got a movie, or just in case they got inspired. I know the fans wanted more closure than we got on some of those, but it sure was fun thinking about them.

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe I would agree with you about that except for a couple of things. First Mary’s reaction to those messages. That was clearly to me at least a sign she had no idea where they came from. Second if they wanted to leave things open for possible renewal then why leave the finale open when you were certain it wasn’t ever coming back?

        I was rereading another site last night and a poster there made the statement that the writers were trying to be too cute. They didn’t want to be criticized for the Disney ending of the magical kiss so the never fully pulled the trigger and left themselves an out where you decide if it was a Disney ending or not. In a lot of ways it is cute in theory but in execution it missed for a lot of people. Again in many ways in their post finale statements they miss the point of much of the criticism. For many it wasn’t the idea if the Disney kiss worked it was the entire concept of putting a memory loss storyline at the finale of a series without a complete resolution. Five years of growth down the tubes. To me that is horrible storytelling. I’m more ok with the finale now but I’m still convinced that is a big part of the reason there is no clamor for syndication or streaming here in the US. I know it took me almost a year to rewatch a single episode. I also know I’m not alone in that fact and for many they still haven’t rewatched and may never will until or if a movie comes out.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink you know I completely agree with where and how the ending fails. It’s those emotional missteps that ultimately frustrate me most.

        Joe I really don’t believe they were leaving breadcrumbs or hooks, I think it was just pure sloppiness. But I think it’s a very ordinary sort of sloppiness. These are the sort of things that are completely normal in serialized story telling. It’s like we all have this ideal of what a good series should look like, but it’s rarely if ever happened. Even a show like Babylon 5, where ALL the main arc episodes were written by the same guy has TONS of continuity issues. It’s funny sometimes when you catch the writer trying to fix those mistakes (“you were the one, now you are the one…” Studio mandated casting change), but there’s only so much that can be done sometimes.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I have to point out the S1 DVDs billed the show as “Get Smart for the 21st century”. And sure it’s a dramedy, that still puts comedy right in the description. We were meant to invest in the characters, but Fedak himself said several times he was amazed that people were investing in the mythology. I always took that mean he knew it was pretty lightweight in that department.
        I’m not denying at all that there were failings on the more serious aspects of the show. And I certainly wish more effort had been made to tidy things up. But I don’t believe TPTB were very worried about it, so I try to just laugh most of it off. And try to fanwank it wherever I can. It’s usually not that hard to do.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow…

        As for using the PSP on Volkoff, we saw what happened when someone removed the intersect. Hartley had no idea about Volkoff’s network or how to use it, and would have been useless to Mary in her mission. Vivian would have taken over, and we get an earlier than canon replay of Cliffhanger.

        Consider this. “Your father never wanted you to see this” was just something Mary said to get Chuck to look at the device. It didn’t reflect on any sort of communication or plan they had made for Chuck’s future. As for the device it isn’t clear to me that Mary wasn’t familiar with the Orion cave. It was under her old house, perhaps started with the intention of finding Hartley and in existence before she left. Or perhaps she was familiar with Stephen’s filing system and knew that there should be a device for suppressing the intersect for when he found Volkoff, but she chose to use it to make Chuck quit because she wasn’t yet prepared to use it on Volkoff, for the aforementioned reason.

        As for the end of season 3, it was pretty clear to me in season 4 that Stephen had been keeping Volkoff at bay through his search for Frost, keeping him on the move and underground. With his death, and it is said directly by Casey in Anniversary, Volkoff got a lot bolder. It was then inevitable that Chuck would be confronting him and the conflict revealed in Leftovers would come to the surface. Clearly Mary and Stephen had different ideas about Chuck’s role. Orion left the intersect for Ellie to perfect and Chuck to upload, bequeathing to them his mission to free Mary and fix Hartley. He never wanted them in the spy world, but he knew the spy world would find them unless they removed the family curse (Volkoff).

        As for contact between Orion and Frost, I say there is probably some intentional ambiguity there. Volkoff differentiates between the message Chuck planted and the “dozens of others going back years”. Like many things in Chuck, we don’t get the complete story laid out for us. I think that Orion could certainly hack Volkoff’s network, but might not be able to locate and/or get to Mary and Volkoff at any given time based on that, but he could leave a message for Mary.

        I know this will be odd coming from me, but I think we sometimes over-think things in the show. As Joe said, there’s obviously a looseness and ambiguity built in to allow the writers some leeway in the future, but I think there’s also some stuff we imbue with great significance that they considered a one-off or throw-away.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed Dave. It’s the lack of the emotional context of the returning memories in Goodbye that really bother me. Does anyone really care if she remembers the order of the cups at the Weinerlicious or the fact that she carved her name? In terms of carving the name it could just as easily have been part of her mission in portraying Chuck’s wife before she killed him from the context we see. or actually don’t see. Irene Demova means nothing without the context involved. Same with the beach. Knowing it is important without the emotional context really doesn’t help because at no point did we see her understand or actually “feel” why Chuck told her it was important. To her as she was then it simply could have been part of her mission planning to control her asset because we see none of the emotional elements of that earlier scene on the beach resonating with her 5 years later. “Their story” was funny, sad, tragic and uplifting but we never really see her emotional connection to it, just an emotional response to hearing that kind of a story. But from what we actually see on screen it could have been any two other people as far as Sarah was concerned. There is a great deal of sadness in her that she doesn’t remember or “feel” it. Just one emotional memory, one memory of Chuck himself, one connection to something real and not just an object was needed. Something as simple as “Shutup and kiss me” or let’s go “home” where you feel she knows what that home is or actually who. The “things” side of the memory listing had elements in it to be certain, but the emotional side of the returned memory listing had none. Many of us didn’t “feel it” because we never really are convinced that Sarah does either.

      • atcDave says:

        Although I could argue some of your specific points Ernie, I think you’re completely right about how we often attach far too much importance to things that were never meant to be taken so seriously.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It’s the lack of the emotional context of the returning memories in Goodbye that really bother me. Does anyone really care if she remembers the order of the cups at the Weinerlicious or the fact that she carved her name? In terms of carving the name it could just as easily have been part of her mission in portraying Chuck’s wife before she killed him from the context we see.

        I usually like to leave discussions of the ending alone, but Uplink you’ve touched on something that goes to precisely why the ending worked so well for me. But first recall that we SAW Sarah lose her memories at the end of Chuck Versus The Bullet Train. We were provided with a visual depiction of them leaving. We got to look inside Sarah’s head.

        OK.

        When Chuck has Sarah in the house and is begging her to remember, each time Chuck talks about a memory we see a fuzzy black and white visual of it, essentially Sarah remembering it. When he mentions the proposal and goes down on one knee we see the visual and she reacts to him and that memory, so it is clear (to me at least) that this is us being told she remembers this, but as you say while she clearly remembers the event but has no context for it and can’t connect it to the emotions of the event and her feelings toward Chuck. It happened and she knows that, but she doesn’t understand it was real, not part of a mission. But when she sees the names carved in the doorway there is a much more clear memory, she’s telling Chuck she’s in it for the long haul and she means it. She is dumbfounded precisely because she remembers how she felt when she said that. The fact that there is sound with that one her reciting the dialog, and her suddenly very different reaction, stunned silence as opposed to denial and pulling back from Chuck as she did with the proposal tells us she is remembering the event in context, emotions and all, and it doesn’t make sense to her. Then shortly after kicking Chuck down the stairs, she’s kneeling at his side refusing to leave him. The basis of the emotional context and reconnection is established in that scene. She can and does remember, she just needs the right stimulus, which is why the O-O scene did matter, they’re showing us again that in the right environment with the right stimulus, Sarah will remember. In her journal scene we see she is still the same emotional woman, she just has her public mask back on like the old Sarah. Her reaction to her confession is not one of an emotionally detached woman.

        Now, why does she tell Chuck she doesn’t feel it? Because she doesn’t fully understand it and is afraid of it. And afraid she can’t be the woman Chuck loved (loves). The ending on the beach is where we see the process of her emotional re-connection to Chuck and her memories completed. She’s compelled to go to the beach, isn’t particularly surprised to see him show up, and then after Chuck lays out a slightly different case than at the house (let me love you/let yourself be loved as opposed to please remember you love me/please love me again) she trusts Chuck to provide the stimulus she needs to remember. By the end of “their story” Sarah is once again the emotionally open woman we saw earlier this season. The public mask she wore so carefully throughout the last two episodes is nowhere in sight. Then she asks him to kiss her.

        It is precisely because to me they went to great pains to show that specific memories or not, Sarah had emotionally re-connected with Chuck and they’d be alright in the end.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Ernie. I get that this is going to maybe sound hostile or harsh. I apologize in advance. That’s really not my intent.

        But this is what frustrates me about this ongoing conversation. You just spent a page analyzing events around speculation based upon the expressions on Sarah’s face and her body language. And you may be right. I still don’t think that they left us with a strong enough feeling that they were going to be okay. But that’s not the point of this post.

        The defenders of the show are quick to point out things that happen that make poignant points. They love to read between the lines and draw connections. But whenever I point out concrete events that are mutually exclusive, I’m told that I’m taking the show too seriously. Aren’t you taking the expressions on Sarah’s face too seriously? When can I take what I see on the screen seriously and when can’t I? The only distinction I can come up with is that I can only take the things seriously that make TPTB look good. The things that make them look sloppy or inattentive I can’t take seriously.

        That seems innately unfair at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s okay Bill I think Ernie is taking a lot of very subtle stuff too seriously as well. At least, the little stuff Ernie points out isn’t going to make me feel better any more than the stuff you were pointing out is going to get me upset.

        I don’t sweat the small stuff. But I draw no comfort from it either!

      • oldresorter says:

        few disliked the final two eps here more than me. The amnesia thing really ticked me off. The ambiguity at the end did too. The constant tease of a happy ending, starting in the first ep did to. The intentional pulling of the entire fandom’s chain.

        I find it very hard to watch any ep of Chuck, I’ve only watched 3 complete eps since the final, the pilot, the honeymooners, and role models.

        But … I watched part of baby the other day to try to figure out where Sarah’s mom lived – i.e. what town – which by the way, if any of you have an idea where, I’d love to know – and when watching baby, I thought I saw a nugget or two that related to the final, a positive interpretation that is, I thought I’d leave that until the baby discussion came up. I think the final was meant to be artsy, meta, and ‘big’. I think the final worked that way for some, failed big time for others, and worked for many after they gave it some time, maybe time to cool down?

        A question I’d have for those who liked the ending scene, would you have disliked it if the writers had given evidence the kiss worked? It seems to me, near everyone would have liked the final ep if the kiss worked, many would have called it the best ever. Seems like a missed opportunity.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Oldresorter,

        I’m not sure that I would have bought a magic kiss. I didn’t even need to see Sarah’s memories restored. What I expected to see was more concrete evidence that she was falling for him again. And in fairness there was some. But it was far too little for my tastes.

      • oldresorter says:

        Bill – ‘magic kiss’ was code word for falling for him again. It was odd, in many ways, she showed nothing the whole while toward him, almost a bitterness or hatred even. Thge closest thing was during the dance, but even there, she didn’t look happy, disgusted might be the word that comes to mind.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Oldresorter,

        Cold is the word I would use. She was back to being Agent Walker.

        It’s ironic. Fedak wanted to tell the story of a heroes journey. But it was Sarah who made the bigger journey. She went from Agent Walker finally fully becoming Sarah Bartowski. She is the one who wanted to quit spying and start a family. What I wanted to see in the final scenes was some sign that she was becomming Sarah Bartowski again. And we didn’t get enough of that for my tastes.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree with Bill on this. The memories aren’t as important as the love. Although I am completely willing to accept Ernie’s interpretation of what we were supposed to see, it was just far too subtle for me. So I can believe they are in love again, and everything is peachy, but I really wasn’t sure when it ended.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok Ernie et al. Now here is a case where Ernie’s explanation has helped me a bit. During the initial watch of the finale I didn’t make the connection with the flashback as being the actual memory returning but more just a reminder to the audience. When you put it into the context of seeing them leave in Bullet Train it is in a way a reversal. But that is the only time that happened with the memories. We didn’t see anything from the Weirnerlicious, El Compadre or the Beach etc. Plus how do you reconcile that with the trip down memory lane on the Beach. Is that Sarah remembering or is it just him telling the story? As Bill said you can’t have it both ways where one scene it is supposed to mean a memory restored and another it’s listening externally to a story. As Sarah said at El Compadre she knows the story happened but there is no indication that it is her story anymore.

        But I think this brings us to the crux of the many differences we have had over interpretations through the years. I think someone like Ernie can “see” enough of the things to understand the intent and view it positively. For someone like me I feel like Sarah at the end of CvsS. I believe it but I don’t feel it. Even with accepting she remembered the actual event of carving the names I got no feeling the emotional context came with it. Again I believe it but I don’t feel it. That is the key element that is missing from it for me. Now true I’ve gotten more comfortable with the intent as time has passed but I still feel incredibly cheated emotionally. And that matters more to me. “Yea I see your point and you did what you said but it still sucks because I never felt it.” As Dave says it is far too subtle and far too artsy for my taste for the finale of the show. It’s why “Shut up and kiss me” would have worked far far better especially if there was a grin of recognition that she knew and felt what was needed to stop his rambling.

        Ernie I appreciate that POV and it does help explain some things but again it simply isn’t anywhere near enough emotionally for me to be content with it.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ernie for President!!! It sounds like the Goodbye was written specifically for Ernie and myself, and I couldn’t agree more with what Ernie wrote. As for would it have been ok to add additional time at the end to make everyone happy? Hey, I’m cool with that. They could have done a lot of things…from just a few more words of dialog, to maybe the fadeout and then fade back to many years in the future with an old Chuck and Sarah sitting on the porch of their house. With that said, I am completely happy with how it ended, but what I can’t get over is why they couldn’t have added that stuff to make everyone happy on the DVD extended version. I only watch that version now, so that is MY version, but how hard would it have been to add an additional 2 min scene at the very end. This is not unique to Chuck, and I believe that most DVD releases really drop the ball on what they should have added.

      • joe says:

        It’s been a while since I’m seen Chuck vs. Sarah and Goodbye, so I’d have to check up on those details, Ernie. But I like the interpretation. I do remember that that’s not exactly the way I interpreted it the first time either, which led me to be more downcast on the ending, much the way Dave has been saying.

        Still, I can see it, and maybe some of that idea seeped into the two (or three) other times I’ve watch them, which would partially explain why I was much more up-beat about the way the ending played out later.

        You may have to remind us before we get there so I can watch with your interpretation in mind next time!

      • uplink2 says:

        But here is the eternal question. Is an ending that you have to watch a number of additional times to get what the writers were trying to do a successful ending? Is an ending that succeeds in story but leaves much to be desired emotionally for a large part of your audience a successful ending?

        Of that I’m not so sure. Intellectually I am much more at peace with it after almost 2 years, exactly the opposite of my reaction to season 3 where I hate it more now than ever, but I will always feel like I was denied the emotional piece/peace I wanted and needed most. Emotionally I didn’t get to say goodbye and I can never have that moment back no matter how I understand the intent.

      • oldresorter says:

        This discussion made me relisten to the baby ep’s last scene, the conversation between Chuck and Sarah in their house at the end of the ep. I’d be interested if that scene stikes any of you the way it struck me, nearly every line can be linked to the end, clues about the end, and maybe a bit of advice to us as fans. Note, the Chuck and Sarah theme song played in the background while they spoke, I think Chuck, Sarah and the writing staff are telling us about the final scene, if we listen for it?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah this is one where I line up most with Uplink. I’ve made my complete peace with it, and I believe the intent of what Ernie was saying. I didn’t feel it on first viewing, and that loss will always be with me, but I do now believe Chuck and Sarah ended in a good place.

        Per MR’s comments about a better ending. The extended cut did actually help me some. Having Sarah object to the telling of “our story”, then later being ready for it, struck me as significant. It made it, let’s say 30% better.
        More would have been better. I would have loved a whole epilogue episode, where we see Chuck and Sarah finding a new normal, raising a family, running a business, living life together.
        But I didn’t need it. I’ve mentioned a few times a minimal fix. I truly believe, no extra running time at all, just a simple line of four words; “take me home Chuck” as the screen fades to black. And it would be all better.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And this is why I avoid discussions of the ending. It is a fine line where to let your imagination loose and let them show you something and when you might be placing too much emphasis on something, I generally find that people put too much (imo) into the dialog always being significant. I’d contend that the characters often lie to each other, and themselves, and make and articulate assumptions about their and others actions that are a source of conflict rather than exposition for the audience, if that makes sense.

        But to me these scenes weren’t even close to ambiguous on that scale, and I’m sorry if I can’t explain or if you don’t share my feelings, but I saw and felt it first time through and the impact was amazing when we got to that final scene on the beech. I can’t find any other explanation for Sarah’s dissimilar reactions remembering the proposal and pulling back and remembering the door carving and reacting dumbfounded to the memory.

        Now having just re-watched it, I’ll admit it is more subtle than I remember it, to the point that the first few aren’t unambiguous Sarah memories. But I stand by my interpretation. The important point is that she reacts to him on one knee, it triggers something in her, and then her reaction downstairs is still to me most definitely and unambiguously her connecting the emotion and the memory.

        And on the beech I’ll say by that point you could view the walk down memory lane either way, we’d seen the process of Sarah remembering so we didn’t necessarily need to see it again, or with the right environment and stimulus Sarah’s memories were now coming back in technicolor.

        As for the end, I hate to say it, but I feel, like the proposal in Push Mix, dialog would have diminished that moment.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yes, Erinie. Absolutely. That is a perfectly acceptable interpretation. I’m even willing to say that it is the most likely. But the point is that an interpretation is required.

        Contrast that with all of the other (except maybe Ring) episodes that could have been finales.

        “Shut up and kiss me.”

        “I fell in love with a regular guy.”

        Chuck on one knee and them embracing.

        C/S in the limo on the way to their honeymoon.

        Not nearly as much interpretation required.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I’d agree about Push Mix. Categorically not about Goodbye.

        I think part of why I was finally able to find more peace with it, even before the 30% better version (!) is because of things like the end of 5.12, when Sarah claimed she “didn’t feel it”; and she was clearly, unambiguously lying when she said it (we’d just seen what she was feeling when she watched her logs).
        So I can accept Goodbye in terms of saying I think she clearly was feeling something pretty strong for Chuck, right from the very start. But she was channeling her energy into wrath over what had been taken from her. Again, because she DID feel it. So the last couple scenes; turning down Beckman’s job offer and asking Chuck to tell her their story, were all about Sarah making peace with what she actually did feel. Just as getting past her initial barriers to admit that to herself took great effort the first time around; it still took some effort even for an older and wiser Sarah to admit the same thing.
        I can see all that at this point.

        But it wasn’t clear to me back in January of 2012. So I still wish for a little more dialogue, just to make it clear.

      • Ernie!!! Finally, somebody agrees with me about the ending. I was getting really tired of holding that torch.

      • One thing I want to add to this whole discussion of dialogue and being explicit it at the end: one of the reason the ending was always obvious to me was that the music explicitly stated the intent.

        They played a gorgeous song by The Head and the Heart called “Rivers and Roads,” during which they repeat the titular line over and over again. They go through the flashback and the kiss, repeating “rivers and roads,” until the scene fades, and the last line of the song is “Rivers ’til I reach you.”

        I don’t know why that hit me so hard. Maybe because it’s pretty a summary of their relationship – Chuck and Sarah fighting through all the barriers to reach the inevitable conclusion of them ending together. Or maybe I just immediately read too much into it. But as Joe’s been pointing out, they’ve always been very conscientious of their music choices.

        For whatever reason, that song was my version of Dave’s “Let’s go home.” It just sealed the entire series perfectly to me (aside: Jeffster’s “Take on Me was also incredible). I have the opposite problem Dave and Uplink have: I can go back and see the flaws analytically, but my first impression colors all of it. I just “feel it.”

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Arthur that first time feeling always colors my impressions. Its very hard for me to make a big change in my impression of an episode.

        That said, that song you love is part of the problem I had with Goodbye. It sounded to me like saying they weren’t there yet. Which was exactly at odds with what I wanted to hear.

      • joe says:

        Arthur, I just happened to think about Rivers and Roads the other day, and it’s one of those songs that I will always associate with Chuck and Sarah, these past few years and most of all, this blog. I was surprised it hit me so hard, because the song left me unsettled when the show ended – I was much happier with Nate Highfield’s Never Seen Nothing Like You which was used in the extended clip they released on youtube after the show ended, over the beach scene.

        But not any more. Rivers and Roads resonates and will make me think of all these things again, for a long time to come.

      • mr2686 says:

        I have to agree that the music (along with the great acting) really sealed the deal for me at the end. I’ve probably seen Goodbye about 15 times, and it never fails to stir the emotions, especially when the first chords of Rivers and Roads start to play. I must say that I always assumed that scenes of Chuck and Sarah during Chuck’s telling of their story was nothing more than a visual to go along with the story, but the thought that it was also Sarah remembering works for me as well. Bottom line, for me, is that Sarah has gone from not wanting to hear their story and not “feeling it”, to wanting to hear their story and obviously feeling emotions during Chuck’s heartfelt retelling. And the kiss…oh that kiss. You don’t need to believe in a Disney magical kiss to know that something magical was going on as that kiss got more passionate.

      • atcDave says:

        Except that the kiss never really got very passionate. Granted, it went on for quite some time, which I now accept as a good sign all by itself; but it seemed tentative, and never really progressed beyond that.

        I do agree about the significance of Sarah being ready for “their story”. But of course that is largely a product of the extended cut.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Here’s the deal. Chuck and Sarah are fictional. They only really exist in the mind of their creator. And Chris Fedak says that they are together and happy. What choice do we have but to believe him? He is the only one who would know.

        But based upon what we saw on the screen, even the most optomistic interpretation falls short.

        Even if you accept that Sarah was at a point where she was ready to go home with Chuck and start to rebuild their life, they had just spent an entire season getting Sarah to the point where she’s ready to stop being a spy and become a family wife/mother. I reject that you can watch what I watched and come to the conclusion that Sarah on that beach is ready to become a mother. At best you can hope that they are on a path to again get there someday. At best they invalidated the main theme of S5. And that’s why I maintain that, even given the best possible interpretation, it was a lousy finale.

      • uplink2 says:

        Maybe it’s just me but I have always had a lot of trouble with Rivers and Roads as a positive song lyrically. It sometimes seems to me like it is saying there is a long way to get to you with many trials and tribulations and obstacles ahead. Appropriate for early on but at the end of the journey I’m not so sure. It confuses me more than uplifts me. It’s a similar reaction to Nobody loves you better as I’ve gone back and forth on that one being Bryce, singing about Sarah, Chuck singing about Sarah or even Sarah singing about either. I’ve gone back and forth each time I watch it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly Uplink. The song seems more about obstacles ahead, not a triumph. Really not what I wanted to hear.

      • Wilf says:

        Exactly. I could never understand why so many people thought Rivers and Roads was so appropriate as, apart from disliking the song anyway, I just could not see how it was supposed to have hopeful lyrics; quite the opposite in my opinion.

      • oldresorter says:

        Exactly Dave, Sarah says as much when she asks Chuck to carve the initials at the end of Baby ep, something like … we might not get our dream house now, but with lots of hard work, we will some day, maybe not tommorrow, or next month, but someday. She called the final in many ways, but she did say happy would happen. One of the other things Sarah said in Baby was that before Chuck, being a spy was the right thing for her, but now she did not want to rejoin the spy world, because Chuck changed her. It’s interesting that Sarah was the one who said no to being a spy in Goodbye, implying even with no memory, she changed, as Sarah episdoe 1×1 was all about being a spy. Another thing she said in Baby was that they didn’t need the house to be happy, as long as they were together. Since in many ways the life in the house was the teased as the happy ending all season long, I’d guess that we’re supposed to feel at the end, they were together, and that’s enough. My guess is if we look for clues, all of season 5 will be full of little lines supporting a happier interpretation of the end, as the showrunners knew all season long what they were going to go with the ambiguous ending, I simply don’t buy that anyone is that mean by nature. I think they were trying to be the smartest kid the room, and it kind of backfired. I’m really surprised that someone hasn’t come out and tried to justify the end since then, nobody really has. Ironic, I’d say the odds are 50/50 that Yvonne gets her happily ever after ending from the Dexter crew. Kind of a sad statement if Dexter gets a universally recognized happy ending, when Chuck fans got crapped on.

        I’m going to do my best to think of Baby as the ending of Chuck, and the last five episodes simply were an ill advised movie.

      • authorguy says:

        If I ever did a story to repair S5, I would focus on the Decker conspiracy and never consider the Quinn story at all.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Bill I think that remains the single biggest problem. I’m even willing to assume her recovery is pretty rapid (like Morgan’s was), but it still seems like so much of the season is lost or thrown into question.

      • atcDave says:

        Some really good stuff there Jason. I hadn’t really considered how nicely Baby ties into the end, so it not only makes a good finale all on its own, but it supports the actual finale nicely too.
        I always took it as VERY significant that Sarah said no to the General’s job offer. I think, before the extended cut, that was the single biggest clue that all was well, apart from the beach itself. Of course with the extended cut, I think “tell me our story” becomes an equally big deal.

      • Wilf says:

        Oldresorter suggests the clues relating to a positive future and outcome for Chuck and Sarah are planted throughout Season 5. Maybe that’s right, but it was supposed to be a TV show, not a complex treasure hunt; or so I thought, anyway!

      • BillAtWork says:

        To me, it almost seems the opposite. Like they set up something and then did the almost cruel opposite. In Baby Sarah said “I’ll always want to remember this moment.” But in the finale she really didn’t. Oh, I get that some will argue that in Sarah, she did. But really all she remembered was the act of carving the initials. In Baby, she was talking about the romantic moment that lead to the initials, not the initials themselves. So she didn’t remember the moment. She knew it happened but she didn’t feel it.

        That’s my base problem with the finale. During the season they had all of these Sarah growth moments. She started to truly include Chuck into her past. She got back together with mom. She wanted to start a family. In the last two episodes they blew that all away and didn’t restore it.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ok, first off – Dave, I’m sorry but you’re wrong on this one. That was not a tentative kiss, and as it went on it is obvious that Sarah is kissing him back with more intensity.
        As for Rivers and Roads, I think the continued chanting of rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you is very positive. It makes a statement what Chuck is going to do to reach her. Not attempt to reach her, but to reach her.
        Last but not least, to WILF, you are correct…it is just a TV show, yet we all try to dissect every element of it like it’s real life. We make big deals of how an actor or actress’s mannerisms are during a scene and what the meaning of that scene is based on those…yet we rarely take in to account that the acting (or directing or editing) for that scene might not have been up to what the writer was trying to convey.
        I guess it’s a credit to this little TV show that we are still around debating such small details of individual ep’s, and my guess is that if we all got together using this same energy, that we could probably do something like solve world hunger,
        I wonder how many shows that have had an actual series finale, have had that finale universally loved? Not watched as in total viewing numbers, but actual loved. I know that Chuck, Lost, The Soprano’s, Seinfeld, and even MASH have had fans that were upset in one way or another. I guess it’s just par for the course.

      • authorguy says:

        Rivers and roads are both transportation routes, at one time the only real ways to get from one place to another.

      • Wilf says:

        Hi mr. I guess you’re right regarding world hunger 😉 Sure, many fans don’t like some finales precisely because their favourite shows have ended. So here’s an idea, why not try to mitigate that inevitable sense of loss by making a finale satisfying in itself, rather than deliberately adding levels of dissatisfaction upon further levels of same, just for the sake of “art”? I’m probably coming over as a bit of a Philistine here, but think about it, life issues and episodes often don’t end up with simple and satisfying solutions, but it would be nice if a fictional one did occasionally and Chuck could have been one of those, with just a tiny bit of extra thought, effort, and empathy for at least some more of its fans.

      • atcDave says:

        MR its great if the finale was so satisfying to you, but just way too many of us didn’t see it like that. The ending came across as entirely to cautious and vague to draw firm conclusions. I am now content to say Sarah was happy and ready to get back to her life in the end, but on initial viewing I (and many others, far more than it needed to be, we spent six months after trying to calm upset viewers here) didn’t see anything clearly positive. I think its nuts to get cute with the ending in a way that leaves a third of the audience upset. Sure, some would have been unhappy whatever was done, but I firmly believe a majority of those who were unhappy with the finale were actually looking to find the joy in it. Joy they couldn’t see.
        Especially since it could have been fixed quite easily. And no, I completely disagree about that final kiss. Maybe if Sarah had pulled back for a minute, put on a big smile, and dove back in with gusto; I would have felt completely different with no dialogue change/addition at all. But I absolutely did not see what you saw, it looked cautious to the end.

      • uplink2 says:

        BillatWork, I agree completely. I don’t see how even the biggest proponent of the finale can say the Sarah Bartowski sitting on that beach is as strong, confident, happy and evolved as the one we see in that sleeping coach on that train, drawing a picture of her life with her husband and future child. So in that sense much of the evolution of her character was thrown away at the end. I don’t see how that is the ending Sarah deserved. She was sacrificed to give us a trip down memory lane with Chuck fighting for her one more time to bring the show full circle on the beach. The problem is Sarah never came full circle. She may be falling for Chuck again and they will leave together but she herself said she needed to find herself just prior to that scene. That means to her, Sarah Bartowski, hell even Sarah Walker was lost. She may be on her way back but she is nowhere near what she was in that train car. And IMO she deserved better than that.

    • BillAtWork says:

      I agree with most of that. I actually liked Undecover Lover quite a lot. It is right up there for me. It was a break from the UST. And it showed that Chuck could be there for someone other than Sarah, that he wanted for Casey to be his friend as much as he wanted Sarah (well, maybe not, but you get the idea). 🙂

  6. resaw says:

    Great review, guys. But, Joe, are you really nostalgic for the A-Team? I remember watching it on occasion in the 80s when I was living in Japan, because it was one of the few shows available in English while I was living there. Probably because it was so cartoonish and didn’t that much translation….

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned before (reviews, earlier rewatches), but when T.I. (Batista) looks for Casey’s name on the apartment mailbox, right next to Casey is someone named Bauer. Do you think Jack Bauer (of “24” fame) was Casey’s neighbour?

    • joe says:

      Heh! Mostly, no, resaw. But I did see the show and chuckle often in it’s general direction. I rather got to like Dwight Schultz, but that was later when he played Barclay in ST:TNG a couple of times. Watching him go from a bumbling nebish to a suave, super-intelligent being was fun. He had some talent.

      That looks like a great catch with Casey’s neighbor, Resaw. Wouldn’t surprise me if he was Jack Bauer.

    • atcDave says:

      I was thinking a cartoony show like A-Team is almost a perfect fit with Chuck style humor!

  7. One of the five funniest scenes in the series is Morgan waking up Casey, and it’s all in the music. Rather than the usual Chuck humor music, they break out some Lord of the Rings style opera as Casey snaps back to life. Just brilliant. Definitely my favorite Casey episode.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree Arthur. Although Sensei is really the only Casey episode I would call weak anyway, but this one is a ton of fun.

  8. oldresorter says:

    Dave – another tv show, The Listener, caught my eye this week. The lead and his best friend have much in common with Chuck and Morgan. The LI / PLI / wt/wt is very different, in an interesting way. The show killed off the first female cop / partner, and brought in a second in season two. The second female cop is married, and although real life is the same age, acts ‘older’ than the lead man, and she does act like she is in love with her ‘flawed’ husband, who I assume would be ripe to kill off if the show makes it that far. The lead man does not pine for her at all, and is happy with his lou / hannah like girl friend(s). If Continuum has many of the mission related things to Chuck, this show has many of the Morgan / Chuck best friend stuff, and the Chuck / Sarah friendship on the case of the week too, without any angst. I like it, maybe I don’t love the show at its best, but its worst is still pleasureable. Sort of like Castle in that regard, not too much eyerolling cringeworthyness, not too much of an overriding arc to get in the way of a good weekly entertaiment experience.

    I can’t think of any tv show I’ve ever watched that made me as angry as Chuck did, none. Joe would probably say that is the genius behind Chuck, I’m not sure what I think. I will say, when Chuck was great, nothing was better. Couch Lock approached that feeling for me, as did the first four eps of season 4.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah no doubt Chuck inspired more of those extremes than anything else ever has for me. Ultimately its because I loved the show. But the burden of that is; when they upset me I got REALLY upset!

    • joe says:

      Well, maybe I wouldn’t use the word “genius”, Jason. But I do sorta think that the whole point of entertainment is to make me feel something. Dave and I disagree that it’s entertainment when it makes you makes you feel bad, but to me, that’s still the part that I call artistry.

      Besides, most television fare leaves me feeling nothing memorable. It leaves me indifferent, and that’s the greatest sin. Needless to say, Chuck never left me feeling indifferent.

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe – its pretty easy for TV to get to me. So maybe since anything sort of works with me, the really mean stuff in Chuck or anything else goes too far (for me). But to my earlier point, ‘something’ about Chuck was genius. And it either was something that people with very different POV’s about the writing both enjoyed, or something different for different people. And to stick with what we are talking about, we’re not talking run of the mill enjoyment or commitment to the show say from fans with very different tastes, POV’s and interpretations such that it can be lots of things – logic would say it has to be one thing – to be THAT powerful in all of us. I’d be interested to know what the ‘genius’ is in the show. My easy take has always been the actor and actress chemistry, and that near ‘any’ coupled up script would have worked its charm on all of us. but I in no way consider that fact, simply my own take. What say you?

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe – did you like the Burn Notice cliffy? For me, the ‘rough’ season began to pay itself off, to get to that point on the rooftop. How well will be determined by what they do with the last 40 minutes!

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I actually liked the end of the latest Burn Notice, more than any other episode this season. But believe it or not, it’s more of a light at the end of the tunnel sort of thing. Michael finally made the first good decision of the entire season, so I’m hopeful for liking the finale itself a little better.
        Not that it’s enough. Maybe only enough I won’t have bitter memories of the show. But not enough to ever re-watch the season. And of course, there remains the slight possibility the ending was actually horrible, and I won’t even watch much past the credits next week.

  9. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Couch Lock (4.05) | Chuck This

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