Chuck vs The Leftovers (4.10)

The last episode to air before the Christmas break in 2010.  This brings the most productive year of the show to an end, and yet we’re not even to the mid-point of the longest season yet!  But talk about some extremes, from Pink Slip to Honeymooners to Phase Three all in one calender year.

So how does Leftovers measure up, and what sort of note do we end the year on?  After the jump, this week’s discussion.

I’ll cautiously say Leftovers doesn’t really measure up very well.  I don’t think its a terrible episode; there are some wonderful moments, but there are also some pretty annoying moments, and way too much whiny Chuck.  That’s enough to put it in my lower tier of watchable episodes.  I’ll start with what does work, I like the Die Hardesque siege of Castle.  And I like Team B’s growing realization that Volkoff is a nut-burger.  Even better, the discovery he is infatuated with Frost.  The interplay here of Volkoff, Frost and Sarah is terrific.  The Buy Morons have a small but meaningful part to play here, and I find that part was quite amusing.  Especially Morgan trying to channel John McClane, right up until he can’t reach his gun.

But Timothy Dalton really owns this episode.  This is the first episode where we get Alexi Volkoff full blast.  He is psychotic, delusional, and very funny.  From out-threatening Chuck, to “kids love me”, to playing charades with family.  He is a delight to watch, and we still have several even bigger Volkoff performances ahead. This is always my favorite sort of guest character on Chuck; larger than life, a bit absurd, and likable from a distance.

We also have a few enjoyable Charah scenes; the talk before the ambush (nice tease with the jewelry store), some good teamwork moments even when Chuck isn’t quite at his best, and holding hands while armed for a fight.

But a couple of problems are present too.  I don’t find the “strip kick” thing very funny, just not my sort of humor.  But not a really big deal either.  The staging of a couple scenes is awkward in unflattering ways; specifically the ambush fight with assassins, Volkoff getting Chuck and Sarah to yield in the Buy More, and the final show down in the courtyard.  These all seem like situations Chuck and Sarah, in particular Sarah should have been able to deal with more easily.  And especially with more passion towards protecting each other.  That lack of passion may be the issue that rubs me wrong; after seeing how far they will go for each other the last few weeks, its almost like they’re bored with it all this week.  These scenes just fall flat.  They all hang on a big moment for Mary to intervene and save the day.  I suppose the point is Mary winning the trust of Chuck, but its at the expense of making both Chuck and Sarah look bad.  Just poorly staged I think.

The most bothersome thing about this episode to me though is quite ironic.  In an episode directed by Zac Levi we see a very unflattering portrayal of Chuck himself.  I get that he still hasn’t found his rhythm without the Intersect (and he really won’t until Season Five), and that he’s reacting very strongly to his Mom.  I know nobody can push my buttons quite like Mom.  So maybe he gets a little pass.  Certainly my complaints never rise to misery arc sort of levels.  But I find several scenes, especially the interrogation of Mary in Castle to be an unpleasant sort of thing to watch.

Leftovers ends with Chuck using the Orion Computer to regain his super powers.  And that brings the Intersect-less arc to a close.  In real time we now had over a month off to wait for Balcony.  But we’ll get right to it next week.  See you then!

~ Dave
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Knock-Knock. – I’m here!

If you knock, knock, knock
And if you knock, knock, knock
And if you call me I’ll be free
And if you ring for me

This is getting monotonous! Once again, Dave has captured my thoughts, this time about Chuck vs. The Leftovers, perfectly. So, what’s to add?

Come with me if you want to live!

Come with me if you want to live!

Well, only a couple of stray things. The episode is extremely well named. We’re dealing with leftovers, not only from Thanksgiving dinner (hum… I think I was too, IRL, when I first saw this episode), but with the leftovers from the season’s story-arcs.

Most specifically, mom, who was not at all a part of Phase Three or even of Fear of Death. Along with mom comes Volkoff, who is seemingly attached to Mary at the hip. The relationship between Chuck and Sarah is as solid as ever; Chuck doesn’t have the Intersect back, but he’s going to be important to the CIA, if only because of that tie between the world’s most dangerous arms dealer and his mother. His fears about how Sarah views him are allayed.

But there’s one more left-over, one that’s the tiniest scrap left on the plate – Orion’s ghost.

I’ll echo Dave’s sentiments; the strip-kick stuff was a chuckle, but it lasted not one second too long. The Die Hard homage was well done (“Yip-ee Kai-aiii!”), and perfect in Josh Gomez’s hands. Tim Dalton really did “chew up the scenery” this time, and man, that was fun.

Lester: This is not stealing. This is pre-buying with funds we do not have yet… which we will post-pay, when we sell these phones on e-bay!

This is how you make a threat!

This is how you make a threat!

But you gotta love the cleverness. The answer to Alexei’s charade was inspired by the story he told weeks earlier, as Tuttle, about how he lost his virginity. Jeff and Lester appropriating (liberating?) “7-G” cell phones for their own nefarious purposes was a hoot. Volkoff showing Chuck how to make a real threat was simple incredible, as was Mary’s demonstration.

But it was Orion’s puzzles that had me going. I didn’t solve “1 or 11” riddle until Chuck told us, despite the fact that I’ve been an avid Blackjack player with the losses to prove it. 😉 Oh yeah, AND we’ve heard “Aces, Charles” since the pilot.

How can I trust anything she says?

How can I trust anything she says?

The episode did serve to bring in those lose ends even if it did not tie them up. We do still have leftover mysteries to mull over. Mary’s safe, and Chuck knows that “Frost” really is a deep cover. She’s still “mom”, even if he doesn’t agree with her methods and decisions.

Frost: I didn’t have a choice!
Chuck: [shouting] There’s always a choice! You could choose to let me know what your plan is!

You can see by Sarah’s reaction to that how much Sarah is affected. That is one of the things she’s learned from Chuck that’s made her life so different.

Another leftover; it’s clear that Stephen had created the tools that both blocked and restored Chuck’s Intersect, but it’s not clear when or why. I have an inclination to think that he, as a matter of course, always intended to have a way to undo any damage caused by his creations. So if Orion always seems prescient, it’s only because Stephen was cautious.

One thing that I’m sure will come up in comments is the validity of Frost/Mary suppressing Chuck’s Intersect. Was that a self-serving, traitorous move, meant to get Chuck out of the picture? Or was it a reflexive motherly twitch, meant to get Chuck out of danger? Mary tells us. It was to keep her family out of danger. Sarah has to explain to him. Inside Volkoff’s organization, Mary had become a major intelligence asset. Her mission never was to take Volkoff out; it was to bring down his organization. Her reasoning may not strike everyone as strong enough, but I’ll accept it. Chuck’s on the fence himself.

Chuck: How can I trust anything she says? Every time I do, I end up getting shot or almost blown up. I haven’t been stabbed, yet.
Sarah: Chuck, going undercover for so long and staying well is an extremely hard thing to do as a spy. I mean, I got lucky – I was assigned to you. Your mom got Volkoff.

Loose Ends

Loose Ends

When Chuck vs. The Leftovers aired the first time, I was left with the same feeling I had this time. There’s more coming. There’s going to be more Volkoff and Chuck&Sarah have not reached the end point of their relationship. I knew the six weeks wait for the next episode was going to be excruciating, and it was. Shakespearean references and hints coming from The Balcony were in everyone’s mind. This episode was only supposed to tide us over past the Holidays, and it did, if only just barely.

– joe
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Thinkling

Wow, Dave, so little love for Leftovers. I know that the lower tier of Chuck is still better than much of TV, but I put it much higher in my Chuck tiers and find that it’s rewatch value is quite high. (So, mark this down as an anomaly at ChuckThis: Dave and Thinkling don’t quite see eye to eye.) Disclaimer. I know I’m probably in the minority: I like the mom story and will buy it, even though I know the exposition is a bit thin; I like the intersectless arc and find it serves a purpose in Chuck’s (and Chuck and Sarah’s) journey; and I really, really like Leftovers. It pulls us down into the undertow of the spy world and shows us with bone chilling clarity why the two worlds don’t mix.

I’ll start with what I like the least: one, pole training … not at all funny to me; and two (minority view, I know), the Die Hard parody … meh. I’ll agree that Chuck came off a bit whiny, but I’ll give him a pass, and I’ll get to why in a bit. My only other complaint was that the filming angles of the dinner were a little too creative for me (but not nearly as bad as the rehearsal dinner).

Timothy Dalton does indeed own the episode. His character swings from a thread and shows all of us just how crazy he is … and gives us a glimpse of the tight rope Mary has had to walk all these years. Volkoff is ready to incinerate everybody (even his beloved Frost) one minute, then baffled that Mary never invited him over to meet her family, an oversight that he quickly and decisively remedies. I mean kids love him (one of my favorite lines in all of Chuck). Riiight. At the dinner he is a two-faced Janus, alternating between his charming side and his chilling side. If he was endearing and funny as Tuttle, he is absolutely hilarious as the World’s Biggest Psychopath (WBP) ingratiating himself with his new family.

TD not only owned the episode, but also told us its theme. Families come first. That’s what Mary keeps telling an unbelieving son and an unsympathetic audience. Unfortunately, she has had to put her family first in extremely unusual, probably misguided, and utterly unconvincing ways. Until now.

This is her episode and a window into her world. So we begin in Mary’s world, where she has been summoned by the WBP, and we can see by the look on her face that a summons from His Craziness is not anything she looks forward to.

She was doing really well protecting her family by staying away and keeping them a secret. The one thing she was determined to avoid was leading Volkoff to her family. But then Chuck came looking for her and ended up in Volkoff’s cross-hairs. That’s where we enter her story. So, Mary staged Carmichael’s death. Twice. But now he is back on Volkoff’s radar and the focus of his considerable wrath. Thus Mary embarks on another mission to protect her family, keep them a secret, maintain her cover, and satisfy an insatiable psychopath. Staying alive would be a plus, but as the story unfolds, we see it’s not her top priority.

What begins with moderate success goes sideways and turns into Mary’s worst nightmare, piece by unavoidable piece, and she finds herself fighting for any shred of control.

Back in Castle: How do you convince CIA agents that their base is no match for the World’s Biggest Psychopath? How do you explain yourself to a son who doesn’t trust you (albeit with good reason, based on his limited evidence)?

The second question, like much of Chuck’s journey and this arc, revolves around the Intersect. So I’ll put on my hindsight goggles and open an Intersect parenthesis.

The Intersect made a big circle in Chuck’s journey from intrusion to opportunity to crutch to tool and back to intrusion. Right now he’s in the crutch phase, so he can’t possibly see why his mom would take that away from him. By the end of this episode he will enter the tool-phase, so Chuck does have some growth through all of this.For Mary (and Stephen) the Intersect began as a tool and soon became a weapon of destruction and the root of her family’s misery and pain. She and Chuck see the Intersect in entirely different lights, based on their own experiences.

Finally, at the end of the series, Chuck himself will see the Intersect as more of a curse than a blessing and conclude that the only way his family can be safe is to destroy the Intersect. But he’s not there, yet.

He’s here, and he’s a little whiny. But hey, in a flash, or a non-flash, his mom, the source of his abandonment issues, took away his Intersect crutch and stripped him of his confidence. Thus one set of insecurities joins another to turn Chuck’s life upside-down … again. So, I give him a pass. (I admit it may have been a bit overplayed, as was sometimes the case with Chuck.)

The first question is answered up close and scary, by the man himself. Timothy Dalton’s Volkoff storming the Castle is all win and pulls the curtain back on Mary’s 20 year nightmare. From the moment Alexei begins talking to Mary, the story takes a turn … toward the twilight zone … and the things I really love about this episode. So here’s what I love about Leftovers.

I love that the real story is shown in subtleties and facial expressions more than what’s being said. I can’t really think of another episode that does this like Leftovers. In Chuck and Sarah and Mary’s faces we see the direness of the situation. I particularly like watching Sarah’s face (so what’s new, right?), as the Bartowski threat level rises from yellow to red … to redder than red.

Mary’s face shows us several important things: her love and concern for her family and her fear of Alexei … that his affection for her is an unwelcome burden and is in no way returned. Volkoff is not someone she is with in any sense of the word.

I love the Mary and Sarah dynamic. Only Sarah has a context to understand Mary, and we see the light begin to dawn as Alexei talks to Frost. When Mary says Alexei is in love with her, Chuck and Sarah’s faces display two different types of horror. Sarah identifies with Mary. It shows in her face and is revealed in her words, “that would make me a major intelligence asset.” And then of course she tells Chuck that she was lucky but his mom got Volkoff. Worst. Assignment. Ever.

The Mary/Sarah bond rooted in the desire to protect the man they both love has become something more. Sarah gains an aching empathy for Mary. For Mary’s part she sees Sarah for who she really is to Chuck.

I love the dinner. It’s heart breaking: revisiting their last Thanksgiving. It’s poignant: glimpses of a normal that might have been. And above all it’s tense. Beneath the surface of simple conversation and a happy family evening is a tension that is coiled and ready to strike.

I love the courtyard, another TD win for the two faces of Volkoff. The courtyard scene sets the stage for Gobbler and the Volkoff takedown.

I’ll venture into potentially mined territory to talk about Mary’s hero moments. I don’t really see them as coming at the expense of Chuck and Sarah. As I watch those scenes, I see a hair trigger psychopath with his finger on the hair trigger of a gun pointed first at Chuck, then Sarah. I am convinced that any sudden move on Sarah or Chuck’s part would result in death for one or both of them. Not that they might not try something in another beat or two, but their immediate response seemed reasonable. And I personally liked that Mary got to run the play this time. It let us know where she stands, and it set up the bizarre hostage situation that necessitated a change in the status quo. To me they were great moments that gave Chuck some healing and sealed the Mary/Sarah bond that was so critical to the events of the coming arc Balconey/Gobbler/Push Mix. Just my take on a controversial topic.

The episode ends with Mary going back to her world after a mission gone awry. She protected her family (by the barest), but they are no longer a secret, and their location is now on Volkoff’s map of world domination. Her cover is blown, and she probably has some fences to mend and some splaining to do to her besotted psychopath. She and her family are alive for now, but it’s anybody’s guess as to how long can she hold the mad man at bay. Leftovers really leaves things balanced on a razor’s edge for Clan Bartowski.

Leftovers following on the heals of Phase 3 is a real head snapper. Both episodes are way outside of the box of what we would describe as a typical Chuck episode (is there such a beast?). And they are outside of the box at extreme opposite ends … no two shows could be farther apart in feel and tone. But I loved the subtleties and coiled tension of Leftovers, just as I loved the explosive, larger than life rampage of Phase 3. Both vehicles delivered drama, humor, and poignancy … and new glimpses into characters we’ve come to love. How can I not love a show that can do that?

~Thinkling’s thoughts

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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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225 Responses to Chuck vs The Leftovers (4.10)

  1. BillAtWork says:

    One of my least favorite episodes. Just like my favorite would come from a list (Seduction, DeLorean, Santa, Colonel, Honeymooners, Phase Three) depending on what day you asked me, my least favorite would also come from a list (Beefcake, Pink Slip, First Class, Mask, Bo) depending on what day you asked me.

    This doesn’t quite make the least favorite list, but it is way closer to it than the favorite list.

    I hated that they wrote Chuck standing there and not even registering a valid protest when Volkoff is about to shoot Sarah, all for a plot point. It is particularly odious coming on the heels of Sarah making such a statement in the previous episode.

    • joe says:

      You had me thinking about that scene all week, Bill. Somehow, I just knew you’d be the first to comment on it. 😉

      I watched intently. There’s a bit of technical theatrics going on, I think. Volkoff pulls a gun on Sarah, but the action, including her reaction and the reaction of Volkoff’s men, is way too fast for Chuck to respond. In fact, it’s Sarah who reacts unrealistically quickly – but, of course, she is the super-spy here. Certainly, Intersectless Chuck isn’t. He’s barely got time to take a breath before Mary really complicates the issue.

      Dave’s quite right – it’s all a set-up to get mom/Mary/Frost involved, the plot point. This is her first big confrontation with Volkoff and it’s all revealed to be one, big head-game. With a psychopath like the one Dalton’s playing, it’s perfectly appropriate.

      I really can’t see that we can say Chuck’s acting OOC or even inappropriately here, which is why even Sarah doesn’t think so. Right?

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe,

        Surely you can’t use Sarah’s lack of concern as an argument. She is fictional, lol. Her reaction was written by the same person who wrote the ooc behavior in the first place.

        All I can tell you is that when I watched, I came away thinking Chuck was a wuss. That’s not a good feeling for the character I’m identifing with. I don’t have an intersect, but if someone pointed a gun at my wife or kids…

      • thinkling says:

        … you’d make a heroic move and get them (or yourself) killed? Because as I watch the scene, that’s what would have happened if Chuck or Sarah had even twitched.

        Like Joe said, it happened really fast. Chuck yelled No and then froze, so as not to provoke the mad man and get Sarah shot instantly. I don’t see OOC in Chuck (or in Sarah earlier in the Buymore). I see a mad man who is a walking detonator. Throughout the evening we get the sense that one false move will set him off. Mary has much more experience defusing this particular bomb, so she does … at great prejudice to herself: her life, her cover, her mission.

        Had Mary not acted, I can easily imagine that Chuck might have shielded Sarah as, he did from Quinn, but thankfully Mary intervened before any blood was spilled.

        The whole episode has the hopeless feel of a mission that just keeps on spinning out of control. Every time you think things can’t get worse they do, and Alexei keeps the upper hand throughout. It feels very much like Volkoff and Mary are the grown-up spies and Chuck and Sarah, especially Chuck, are out of their depth.

        Bottom line, this is Mary’s story, so she gets to be the hero, as she should be … and needs to be to set up what comes next. After all the discussion a few weeks ago, I watched carefully, and I just don’t get the feeling that either Chuck or Sarah come off as uncaring or wusses, given the situation.

      • BillAtWork says:

        See I disagree on several points.

        Most important, Mary is a minor character. She should never be the hero at the expense of one of the lead’s character.

        And part of the charm of Chuck is that he constantly did foolish things to protect Sarah. Before he had 2.0 he jumped off the BuyMore wrapped in a banner. He stood in front of a bomb ready to die just because he didn’t want her to die alone.

        Look, I’m sure that the writer of this episode wasn’t thinking “let’s make Chuck a wuss.” You’re right. Mary was the focus of the scene and that’s what they were setting up.

        Unfortunately, IMO, they did make Chuck look like a wuss. And to me it shows that they simply don’t respect their characters. It’s just one more example (not even a glaring one) of them throwing their established characters under the bus for the sake of a scene.

        There were other ways to make that same point. It simply didn’t occur to them that making the character that your audience identifies with a wuss might be a bad thing. And from their perspective, it clearly isn’t a bad thing. They do that sort of thing all the time. But IMO it is an example of thier sloppyness. Others might disagree. That’s fine. It’s an ‘eye of the beholder’ thing.

        But for me, I watch because I identify with Chuck (and Sarah). Anything that deviates from what I have come to expect from those characters, and isn’t explained as a deviation, strikes me as ooc and sloppy.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, obviously this is something we won’t ever agree on (and that’s fine). I’ll never see Mary’s heroism as detracting from Chuck and Sarah’s. (The only bus, more of a mini-van, Chuck might have been thrown under in Leftovers, IMO, was the interrogation.)

        Question: If it had been Chuck and Sarah on the plane in Anniversary (instead of Sarah and Casey), and Chuck and Sarah had been tied up at VI, would you have been mad if the writers let Mary rescue them? This is no different. They weren’t tied up, but they were held at gun point, right next to each other, with no wiggle room. Chuck and Sarah are the heroes 92.2% of the time (okay, not a scientific study), and Casey about 7.3% of the time. That leaves room for others to be heroic .5% of the time. And that’s okay with me. It’s a predictably boring universe that only ever permits the main characters to save the day.

        However, I would hardly call Mary a minor character. S4 is about the mom hunt. Mary is a big focus of the story and appears in 6 of the front 13 episodes, so that makes her a main character of the season. That and the fact that she has been an unseen character in the series ever since Sizzling Shrimp. Would you also call Orion a minor character?

        I don’t really see very many ways to make the point as well as they did and set up the final arc, certainly not with such narrow constraints. It’s not just about making a point about where Mary’s loyalties lie. That just a small, though important, part of it. They had to create a situation that would demand a change in the status quo. I suppose Volkoff could just figure things out, but that’s pretty boring and wouldn’t tell us anything about Mary’s loyalty. So, first of all, Mary had to out herself, and she wasn’t going to do that over tea and crumpets, or over any situation other than one that threatened her family’s life.

        Second, Sarah needed to be totally convinced of Mary’s loyalties (otherwise going undercover with her would be pointless) and motivated to rescue her (beyond just eliminating the threat against her family). So Sarah watches Mary sacrifice her cover and jeopardize her mission to save her son. She watches Mary risk her life to save Sarah. Then she watches Mary go back to hell with the devil. The bond is sealed. I don’t really see how you could cement that bond in a smaller way; and without it, the final arc can’t really move forward, at least not the one they wrote. Leftovers isn’t just a dramatic and humorous look at a crazed psychopath (though that part is lots of fun). It is foundational to the final arc, and Mary being the hero twice is crucial to all of it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        You misunderstand my point. Other characters can be heroic. That’s fine. Just not at the expense of the established characters of Chuck and Sarah. Your example of Anniversary is flawed. Chuck was not tied up. He wasn’t incapaciated in any way. He just stood there (like a wuss 🙂 ).

        Mary is a minor character. We didn’t know she existed until the very last episode of S3. She was in 12 episodes, the same number as Brandon Routh. We don’t watch to see Mary Bartowski. She was a supporting character.

        In Sarah, a sans intersect Chuck threw himself in front of a bullet to save Sarah without stopping to think about it. That was the character they had established. Here he stood by and did nothing. It was simply not the Chuck that we had come to expect.

        And there were plenty of ways to make Mary the hero without making Chuck look like a wuss. It simply didn’t occur to them. They don’t respect their characters.

      • joe says:

        Other characters can be heroic. That’s fine. Just not at the expense of the established characters of Chuck and Sarah.

        I don’t think she’s missed it, Bill – you’ve made this point before. Yet, every time you rephrase it, I keep thinking “James Bond.” James Bond has been done before (for, like, 50 years).

        We *like* our Chuck to be human, even blundering every so often. That way, when he comes through, we appreciate him more and see it more in Sarah’s eyes.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe,

        James Bond is actually an excellant example of what I’m talking about. He has an established character. We’ve probably watched 20 Bond movies. Name one single scene where James Bond looks like a wuss. Certainly he has been saved by other people occasionally. But he never, ever looks like a wuss. The writers would be ultra careful to not ever allow that to happen.

        Chuck can be human. The character they’ve established certainly has flaws. But he also has a defining characteristic. He is fanatically protective of Sarah. It was his way of showing her that he loved her when he wasn’t allowed to say it. Roan called him out on that exact thing in Seduction. It’s one of the things that we love about him.

        Throwing that under the bus (or mini van, lol) for the sake of a single scene is sloppy. The James Bond writers would have found a better way. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        Call me crazy, but form me a gun in my face, said gun in the hands of a mad man, is being tied up in a much more paralyzing way than a rope and a chair. I just don’t see Chuck as a wuss, and I guess that’s our main point of disagreement. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

        Unfortunately, I can’t really call Shaw a minor character. He played a big, albeit detested, role in S3. I wish he had been much more minor than they made him.

        Mary has existed since Sizzling Shrimp. She is the root of many of Chuck’s insecurities, and Chuck and Ellie’s difficult growing up years, and it was her story (and Chuck’s hunt for her) that the writers chose as the focus of S4 (that and the engagement). I can’t dismiss her as a minor character when the story is about her. The story in S3 was never “about” Shaw. Supporting characters and minor characters, to me, are two different things.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Chuck was in the same exact situation in Sarah. Without thinking, he threw himself in front of a bullet that had Sarah’s name on it. That’s exactly what I would expect from the character I have watched for the past 5 years.

        I’m using minor and supporting as the same thing here. Mary is a supporting character. In this context we are only interested in her to the extent that she affects C/S. This is different than saying that she is central to some episodes. Of course she is. Just like Steven was. Just like Shaw was. Just like Jill… or any supporting character was. But you should never sacrifice the character of a lead for the sake of a supporting character. The show is called Chuck. We identifiy with him (and Sarah). Anything that takes away from that IMO, is bad… sloppy.

        We clearly don’t (and probably won’t ever, lol) agree on this. This is simply my opinion. When I watched, Chuck looked like a wuss. And that took away from my enjoyment. That’s why I’d rank this episode in the botton third.

      • atcDave says:

        I think there’s some difference here in what Bill and Thinkling are saying. I would agree with Thinkling that as the scenes were constructed, there was pretty much nothing to do but freeze, maybe talk, and look for an opening. But that is exactly the problem. It’s not so much a logical failing of the scene, it’s a staging problem of the entertainment. All the protagonists can do is stand there and wait for something to change. And in this case, that means wait for Mary to save to save the day.
        And that becomes a bigger problem in the greater context, because Mary will never quite win most of us over. While the characters who have already won us over, are reduced to inaction, waiting to be saved.

        I don’t see this as a major problem, there is still plenty to enjoy and laugh at here; but it does keep the episode from ever being an “oh boy this so cool…” sort of episode. As Joe said in the main post, it’s more like leftovers…

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yes, Dave, Exactly. You just said it better than I have.

        They wrote a scene where, to get the desired outcome, the two leads had to look impotent and weak. There were other ways to make Mary the hero without doing that.

      • thinkling says:

        Okay part of the problem is what Dave said: that Mary will never win us over. That’s a shame, because it would have been better if she could have. But you’re right … she just didn’t turn out to be very sympathetic. This episode if any should have helped that. For me it did. But as I said in my disclaimer, I know I’m in the minority.

        What I hear you saying is that they wrote a scene in which the main characters needed saving (because in that moment there was nothing they could do to save each other). That just doesn’t bother me (not nearly as much as, say, Shaw saving Sarah in mask, while Chuck saved Hannah. Bleh.) I don’t see this moment (and I do mean moment, as opposed to a whole episode, or most of a season ~cough~) of impotence as being a terrible thing. It means our heroes aren’t superman (and even he needed saving at the beginning of the last season). It was that moment of impotence that required the intervention of a savior. It would have been far worse had there been something obvious they could have done and didn’t. That would have been a moment of weakness.

        I find the comparison of Intersect-less Chuck of S4 with Intersect-less Chuck of S5 a little bit unfair. Chuck is a different man in S5 (even apart from the vest) than S4, with regards to his confidence without the Intersect. (This touches on a big head-scratcher from way back, though … why in the world did they never give Chuck any defense lessons early on, like right after he learned the tango?? ;))

        I hear Bill’s biggest complaint being that the writers don’t seem to respect the characters we love and don’t seem to understand that it’s not good to use them as plot devices or servants to some sacred TV trope. That’s a valid complaint. I don’t really see this as that. But even conceding that it might be, it’s certainly not as egregious as other examples I can think of.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, I agree that it’s not close to being as egregious as some others (Pink Slip Fake Name).

        But it boils down to why i watch the show in the first place. So Chuck saying “If you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head…” made what would have been a pretty mediocre episode into something I enjoy… and would rewatch.

        Similarly, that last scene in Leftovers turns what would have a pretty mediocre episode into something I dislike… and wouldn’t rewatch.

        Someone earlier mentioned that it was a mistake to give Chuck 2.0. I agree with that. We loved Chuck because he was the hero… without the skills. He constantly did foolishly reckless things in her name when he had no idea what he was doing. Still easily one of my favorite moments is in Seduction. “But ask yourself, is she worth dying for?” That guy who said yes, knowing full well that the most probible outcome was that he would die in her defense is my hero. So now he has the skills by some Deus Ex Machina process. And we’re supposed to buy that just because he loses them for an instant, his character changes. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree its not terribly egregious Thinkling, and that’s why this episode doesn’t really anger me like some of the S3 stuff did. But it remains just enough to keep this from ever being one of my favorites. I know Bill, and a few others, feel more strongly about this than I do.
        It does largely come back to that problem of why Mary never connected with much of the audience. Some of it may purely be that Linda Hamilton doesn’t have the charisma of Zac or Yvonne; but I think the bigger issue is that her 20 year mission always seemed lame. I honestly believe that part of it would have worked better if she had gone rogue, or if a bit of Stockholm syndrome was at play. Mary would have seemed both more sympathetic and more tragic I think if we saw how she really was damaged and needed saving by Chuck and Sarah. Instead Mary is too much the hero in Gobbler and Push Mix, and leaves Sarah in particular as an extraneous appendage throughout the arc. It actually makes Sarah’s willingness to go help rescue her, seem fully as foolish as Mary initially taking on this mission was.
        In the end, I think much like the pooched conspiracy of S5, the Frost story seems like they pulled up short at the end and failed to be really satisfying.
        Again, its not a massive fail like S3, its just something that felt a little lacking, and left me thinking of ways it could have been have been better.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Bill, I see what you’re saying. I don’t know exactly how I come down on the 2.0 question, but I do think they sometimes missed the mark in writing Chuck as the super-spy, who was still that regular guy that Sarah fell for.

        Dave, it’s a shame the mom story fell short of people’s hopes. I know I had anticipated her being more of a prisoner. And I do think the sticking point for most people was the 20 year mission. People never bought it as sold.

        Maybe an alternate “mom” post would be good, Dave. How would people have done Mary’s story differently.

      • atcDave says:

        yeah I’m definitely planning on an alternatives post for right after Push Mix. Even if we consider that arc wholly successful, I think it presents a lot of possibilities for how things might have been. That should be a lot of fun.

    • atcDave says:

      I sort of split the difference between you guys. Although like Bill, the scene rubs me wrong, it will just never be a favorite.
      But as Joe points out it happens so fast, it barely has time to be a big deal. And I understand the intent (to have Mary prove herself).
      I just wish a more acceptable staging had been chosen. I think I “get” this episode, and occasionally really like it (Dalton is awesome, and I like the Mary/Sarah interplay). But it will never be a favorite.

      • garnet says:

        I don’t have the issues some do with the 2.0, but I think the main issue is how it was used as opposed to what it did. They took the intersect 2.0 and told us it was good for all sorts of skills, but all we got to see kung-fu (over and over) and I think one or two language skills. They had a chance to show us more but failed to do so. The other issue they were dealing with was that by the end of season 2 many fans were tired of the whiney/”stay in the car Chuck” scenes. I think they felt that he had to progress or we would vote with our remotes. I believe that they were largely right. There is some good FF that deals with the training of Chuck into an agent. The problem is that he would need to be away from the team for a period for the training and there is no good way to do this on TV. Chuck needed to become more of an agent and so I accept the 2.0. In fact it allows for some interesting episodes, and FF when it is NOT functioning correctly (it is just they could have done so much more). Every superhero needs a weakness, the 2.0 provided the weakness as well as a breath of renewal.

      • atcDave says:

        The 2.0 is not a huge issue to me either way. I lean towards not liking it, but it’s not a huge thing.
        I agree completely it often just became the Kung Fu crutch. If they had more different things to do with it, and if the malfunctions had been more varied and entertaining I think it would have helped. (“C’mon flash” became more annoying to me than “stay in the car”).

        To me, the best case scenario was S5; no Intersect powers, some basic training, but Chuck primarily as master planner and computer genius.
        My ideal story would have been Chuck post S2, with a new Intersect, but more of a 1.2 than a 2.0. That is, information only, but improved access and recall. Then train Chuck to take care of himself and develop him as the team planner and serious computer guy. Sort of a cross between S2 and S5. Casey and Sarah would remain the team muscle.

      • thinkling says:

        I would have liked that set up, Dave. I might have liked the Intersect as a training enhancer. And you’re right: ‘come on flash’ may have been worse than ‘stay in the car.’

  2. mr2686 says:

    This is one of those episodes that I like, but it just doesn’t do anything to pull it up from just being average, so top of the bottom 3rd of all series episodes is where it falls for me. Of course, Dalton is great and pretty much makes the episode (along with the Die Hard references) but in episodes like this that are kinda flat (nothing too bad and nothing too great) I look for something to help it along like a great Buy More story, and this one doesn’t have it.

  3. Jason says:

    I think this ep shows one of the difficult things about Chuck, the multi genre thing going on. For some fans, they love the similtaneous absurd parody going on along with really serious stuff. Chuck does it alot, and some of the worst moments in the show for many occur when the show tries funny and serious together (the mocking snark during Fake Name or nearly all things Dalton in this ep). Yet, Sarah Walker asking if ‘anyone else wants to be my boyfriend’ is also a funny unrealistic scene, albeit a fist pumping moment, or her fighting in the ring while Morgan is farting and burping on the sidelines is epic for most all. IMO the equation to figure out the amount and more importantly at what charcter’s expense the comedy was to be mixed in with serious is something the writers never quite mastered, but always were willing to try.

    Leftovers fell somewhere in the middle of this success equation, not cringeworthy, but not epic either. I’m OK with that because for me as the arcs get closer to the end, the failure to disgust me is a decent Chuck ep, and this one qualified as decent.

    A side note about the ending, I wish someone would have convinced the writers before they ended s2, to leave the intersect 1.0 alone in Chuck’s head for the show’s duration, and don’t let anyone else intersect ever. Other than LI’s, the next worst thing about the show was nearly everything related to the intersect after s2, starting with Chuck wanting to be a real spy in Pink Slip and ending with Sarah’s woeful amnesia plot leading to the ambiguous melancholy C+ ending on the beach.

    • uplink2 says:

      Jason, I agree. There are times when the attempts at humor mixed with the serious make for some of the shows worst moments. The attempts at humor in Fake Name were exactly the moments when I felt like the writer was spitting in my face. It also undermines the seriousness of the moment.

      Part of finding the right mix is also in the choice of character who delivers the humor. Using Jeff and Pauli Walnuts was a terrible decision and part of the reason it failed so badly. Using Morgan or Casey is a much safer one. Awesome is a great choice as well. But Chuck of course is the best choice.

      As far as the 2.0, it had been planned from the beginning. It was originally going to be in 1.22 except for the writers strike. But that ended up creating a big problem for them. If Pink Slip happens in 2.1 then it could have worked. But by stretching out the 2.0 till 2.22 and really focusing on the romance during season 2 they ended any chance of Pink Slip working. With the 2,0 they ultimately proved the point that a guy like S1 Chuck Bartowski doesn’t get a girl like Sarah Walker. It takes merging him with Bryce Larkin for him to get her in the end. That’s where they lost it going into S3 and a hidden romance or Chuck and Sarah on the run would have been a much better story. With that even with the 2.0 he is the regular guy she said “It is real” to.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think that blend of humor and drama is actually a big part of the appeal of Chuck. It only fails when it crosses that line into making fun of the characters or audience; which did happen a few times in S3, and on other occasions when Chuck crossed the line into buffoon.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave I agree that it is and that is some of the reason S3 failed so often. The humor didn’t work or the story was too serious you get it lost. But that humor, serious mix needed on e other element to have it shine and that is the romance. What makes the humor serious mix work in Phase 3 is the romance tying it together. In this episode we really don’t have that romance element. In fact it, for some, comes across poorly as in the scene discussed above. You need all 3 things IMO for the show to really fire on all cylinders. Drama, Comedy and Romance are what made this show special and when they messed with that mix in S3 in particular and to some extent in 4 and 5 as well it has real issues.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yup, Uplink, that’s the very worst part of 2.0.

        Chuck didn’t get the girl. He had to become Bryce. It took all of the romance out of it.

        Even Quinn said it in Bo. “You don’t get that without an Intersect.”

      • uplink2 says:

        But even with the 2.0 if they had not done the ridiculously contrived reset in Pink Slip and had them followup on “It is real” then you have what made it work. “Sometimes the nerd does get the girl”. But Pink Slip and season 3 destroys that to a degree. Look at Other Guy, Chuck is in many ways just a Bryce clone who doesn’t like to kill. That guy is just handed Sarah because it is episode 13. We never saw him or her earn that moment. They needed to have him win her in spite of the 2.0 not because of it. He wasn’t good enough to become a real spy and get the girl so they gave him the 2.0 so he could. Now I know that isn’t absolutely true but by stretching it out for one more round of OLI’s that is what it became to a degree. Especially with such an absolutely pathetic OLI as Shaw. It undermines the beauty of the story of a regular guy winning the heart of the gorgeous CIA agent.

      • joe says:

        We never saw him or her earn that moment.

        Hum. It’s late and I’m not really following the thread of everyone’s thoughts as closely as I should. Forgive me that. This statement stands out, Uplink, and really deserves a post – something well thought out.

        This isn’t that, and I’m sorry. But my quick thought is that this couldn’t be more wrong. I mean, all of S3 is Chuck becoming un-deserving (that is, losing himself), groping in the dark and then finding his way back, first by telling Morgan the real story and then by trying to win Sarah back honorably. There’s no “moment” – he doesn’t save her from the evil clutches of Shaw (he’ll get to do that later). It’s all about the process of Chuck finding himself again.

        Not for nothing is Chuck only back where he started in American Hero, sitting, leaning against a wall, this time drunk, the way he was at the birthday party Ellie threw for him at the beginning. He’s exactly who he was then, and that’s a good thing.

        The first time lighting struck, it was Bryce and the Intersect. The second time, it’s Sarah telling Chuck “yes” four times to his question. I guess all of S3 is not a waste for me, because I rather like that part of the story.

        BTW, I saw Rachel Bilson on Heart of Dixie this evening – first time I’ve seen her since the run of those Magnum ice creme bar commercials. I really liked her as Lou and I liked that part of S1. It’s a PLI, and everyone seemed to tolerate it back then only because they just knew in their bones that Sarah was for Chuck, not Lou. I can’t quite tell if the reaction to Hannah in S3 was because it was just one time too many (or perhaps because Hannah and Lou seemed to resemble each other physically too much!) or because the crowd was just becoming impatient. For me, it wasn’t about the PLI or the seeming repeat of the Lou story line, but about Chuck trying to forget Sarah, this time for real. That was enough to make it seem more real to me, and more serious. It also made Chuck’s relationship with Sarah seem more real than it would have otherwise.

        I’m rambling. But what I’m trying to get across is why S3 isn’t a failure in my mind.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I think Chuck did loose something special in S3, by becoming an agent he was no longer a hopeless nerd with no prospects. So whatever good traits he may have kept (I think his character was badly damaged too, but that’s almost a separate issue) the relationship still lost some of its magic, just because Sarah waited until he was an accomplished professional before she would be with him. Of course that’s a simplification. But THAT is what was lost in S3.
        Regards top Hannah, some of us loathed that arc in part because they’d already done it two other times, in addition to making Chuck into a slimeball.
        So Chuck looks bad, AND its a waste of time. Gee, great entertainment…

      • uplink2 says:

        Joe, sorry but no. There is no relationship growth whatsoever in season 3. They didn’t even try. It is only regression on the relationship level. They didn’t earn that moment on the stairs. Chuck got the girl because he was a spy like Bryce, Cole and Shaw but didn’t like to kill. He wasn’t the everyman, the nerd who got the girl. Again I know that is rather simplistic and not totally accurate but it is the essence of the problem being discussed above, the 2.0 made Chuck less likable and made it less likely that we would identify with him. There isn’t one moment of growth in their relationship that earns them that DYLM moment. As I said above the story works so much better if Chuck got the girl in spite of the 2.0 not because of it and the stupid OLI’s, including Hannah simply were a delaying tactic and nothing more. They damaged their characters not grew them. At no point were they ever a real threat and the idea that they were trying to move on is as contrived and ridiculous as the plot was. I point to that comment from 2009 again because it is a perfect description of what happened.

        “Hmmmm yeah, whenever they talk about bringing in new love interests for the two characters it definitely makes me a bit nervous, cause you always run the risk of a couple things by doing that too often:

        a) Making it way too contrived, as if the writers are obviously just looking for more and more reasons to keep them apart, and/or
        b) Ending up with a storyline where one of the characters does something uncharacteristically bad or callous to the other one, to the point where you don’t even LIKE one or both of the characters anymore. THAT is the worst thing that can happen and I’ve seen it happen on a few shows before.”

        Posted by: R | July 27, 2009 at 01:28 AM

        That IS the worst thing that could happen and it is exactly what did happen. That is the point of the discussion above. The way the 2.0 was handled in season 3 takes away what was special about Chuck and the story of the regular nerd getting the girl. He should have gotten her before it. Well he did and it should have stayed that way. But they had to worship at the WTWT well one more time. What we saw in season 3 was one character, Chuck, doing something absolutely despicable therefore making him extremely unlikable just to extend WTWT and what is the essence of those first 12? Chuck became a Bryce clone who can’t kill and therefore he is simply given Sarah without building the relationship back to that moment of “It is real”. She is the prize. And as far as Sarah goes she has absolutely no growth of character and is made to look like an idiot so they can delay her finally surrendering to the Bryce who couldn’t kill, not the everyman.

      • BillAtWork says:

        ChuckWin’s Law anyone, lol?

        Joe, I can’t tell you what you should like,, just as you can’t tell me what I should like. But if you liked S3, I can only conclude that we watch the show for different reasons.

        I don’t claim to speak for anybody except myself, but based upon my five years in this fandom, I’m convinced that I’m not alone.

        I watched the show because I identified with Chuck. He was the underachieving nerd who through bizarre circumstance found himself thrust into this high-octane spy world. And he thrived in a sense, and in no small measure because he didn’t think like a spy. He was even able to show the spies that their thinking was flawed.

        The symbol of that was this smoking hot blonde spy who was assigned to protect him. She was the type of girl that he would have normally had zero shot at. She was as far out of his league as one can imagine. He knew that he had no shot, didn’t even really try.

        Except that we knew that the smoking hot blonde was secretly falling for the nerd. We ached for them to finally figure out a way to get together.

        But in Chuck’s mind there was only one way for that to happen. And it was a long shot. He would have to get rid of the Intersect curse, become normal, and hopefully she would leave the empty spy life, become normal and start to raise a family. Chuck summarized it perfectly in Lethal Weapon. “I’m going to get this thing out of my head, and live a normal life… with the girl that I love.”

        And amazingly, she was ready to do exactly that. When she shook her head when Bryce (who knew already) asked her if she was coming with him said it quite plainly. She was going to disobey her CIA orders and stay with this normal guy who no longer has an Intersect.

        Except TPTB were sort of in a corner. C/S running off and living a normal life would probably make for boring television. They had to do something. I don’t question that. But what they did was just horrible storytelling.

        Chuck’s defining characteristic, the one they had been selling us on for two years was that he wanted a normal life, without the Intersect, and with Sarah. And he was offered exactly that. Now for some reason they never really bothered to explain, he turned that down (rather cruelly) and was suddenly burning with desire to become the very thing he had been fighting (and winning), Bryce Larkin. It wasn’t character growth. He changed 180 degrees. He became a new character, one I didn’t identify with and frankly didn’t like.

        So when he finally did get the girl (when the wt/wt clock ran out) it had lost all of it’s original romance for me. The loveable nerd I identified with didn’t win the girl, the Bryce Larkin clone did. It invalidated the whole point of why I was watching. Not to mention that the contrived round of PLIs basically ruined the romance for me to the extent that I almost really didn’t care if they got together or not.

        So the question becomes, how could they have done things different? How could they have told the story such that there still was a story to tell, and yet still allow me to identify with Chuck?

        I think there were several ways.

        The one that I chose most often in my fanfic was to make Chuck reluctant. Reveal a threat that required 2.0 to have a chance to defeat, and make it clear that he had to become it to protect Sarah. Make them a team along with Casey fighting that threat.

        We’ve already talked about them having a secret relationship to fool the government. That would also work.

        Another possibility would be to make 2.0 glitchy. Have them quickly figure out that it is really only effective when Sarah is in danger. So he still depends on Sarah (and Casey) for his safety.

        IMO, they chose the lazy, worst possible way. They simply replaced Chuck with a new character who wanted to be a spy, a young Bryce Larkin. It made me stop identifying with Chuck. And that was fatal. I stuck with the show, but out of loyalty more than anything. After Pink Slip, it was never really the same. And I hear that story over and over again.

      • uplink2 says:

        One last point. In season 1 and 2 when the show was really working you had the perfect balance of the three legs of the tripod holding up the show to its heights. Drama, humor and romance. All 3 for the most part were in perfect balance and the show was strong and stable. We could all fit on that seat comfortably. In season 3 they destroyed that balance by cutting of the romance leg and trying to substitute it with pathetic OLI’s of which there was absolutely no romance whatsoever. They substituted balsa wood for sturdy oak. Fedak tried to say season 3 would be full of romance but that was an utter lie. The show falls over and lots of folks fall off.

        In season 4 and 5 they tried to compensate for cutting off the romance leg in season 3 by gluing back on the now damaged romance leg and cutting off the drama leg. What you get is entertaining yes, but doesn’t stand up to great scrutiny. The show wobbles and more folks fall off.

        Now we get to the ending and its all drama. No humor and no romance. Again more fall off and what you are left with is a much smaller audience that is totally happy and stable sitting there at the end.

      • Jason says:

        Uplink – I’m going to disagree that Sarah fell in love with Chuck because he became Bryce, I’m saying the opposite, she picked him in spite of it. I think the story that the writers tried to tell / sell in s3 was (mind you I didn’t like the story, but here it is IMO):

        #1 – at the end of s2 the writers told us Sarah admitted Chuck was her guy, we saw this when she ran away with him, in Barstow, then again in Hawaii when she picked him. This Chuck was the anti-Bryce.

        #2 – she wanted to run away, because she didn’t like herself as a spy, and didn’t want Chuck anywhere near that spy life.

        #3 – in Prague, Chuck made a choice to be a spy (Bryce-like), and he lost the gril he’d already won (this was poorly described in the show, needed a few more minutes somewhere, even if just from Chuck to Morgan or Sarah to Casey, but would have been epically sad and powerful if between Sarah and Chuck)

        #4 – all season long, Chuck was becoming a better and better spy, but this push to become a better spy was not helping him win Sarah back, near the opposite, it kept getting in his way. Him being himself was winning her back (he usually was winning when they were together, then usually Shaw did something to make him take steps back). Whenever he was spylike (burning Manoosh, saving the day in the museum, stopping Rafe, treating an innocent girl like crap, taking the drug, passing his red test, saving Shaw) she pushed away. (Again, more dialogue to describe what was going on would have been better, and would have created some really great dramatic moments, this was the start of the ambiguity that the writers liked, and so did some fans, as near any explanation worked, cause none was given)

        #5 – We never were told if she accepted ‘spy-Chuck’ or not (i.e. did she agree to run with him or not in Hero is unknown just like the final on the beach), but the moment Casey told her that Chuck didn’t pass his red test, it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off her shoulders, Sarah had ‘her’ Chuck.

        One other comment, Sarah didn’t pick Chuck because he was Bryce, but she did hook up with Shaw because he was Bryce, and it was different, being with Shaw made her unhappy. She later told us, she didn’t like that Sarah Walker very much. The look on Sarah’s face all 12 episodes long was that of misery.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Jason, I gotta disagree.

        Yes, Sarah spent most of S3 worried that Chuck would become a spy and lose what made her love him. That was a legitimate story line. Except the only logical conclusion to that was either for them to drift apart and never get together (which they knew wouldn’t work) or for Chuck to reject the spy life and be normal with her. Then they would be right back in that same boring television corner they were in at Ring.

        So they split the difference. They had Sarah worried, pining for her old Chuck back, yet when she had the chance to get him out of the life, she ultimately rejected it. So now, almost whatever you think Sarah wanted, you could point to something in the show that supports your view. That’s actually one of my biggest problems with S3. They were simply lazy, threw Sarah’s character under the bus over and over again to tell first one story, and then next week the completely opposite one.

        And look at the glimpses that they gave us of Bryce and Sarah together. They were a kick-ass spy team – who also had a relationship. That’s how they always portrayed them. What did Chuck and Sarah become? That same kick-ass spy team who also had a relationship. Chuck simply became Bryce.

        Sarah’s choice in Other Guy wasn’t between a spy relationship and a real one. That would have been romantic. Instead it was the choice between two spies.

      • Jason says:

        Bill, I agree with you, Sarah got a spy in Chuck. But what I’m saying is she went to Chuck IN SPITE of his being a spy (either in the apartment or earlier IF she agreed to run with him b4 Casey told her), not because he was a spy. Hence her hesitation and the overt relief when Casey told her he failed his Red Test and the line later in other guy, ‘You’re still my Chuck’ (implied line there ‘even though you’re a real spy).

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Jason. I agree with you. That’s what they were trying to tell us. She chose Chuck in Other Guy in spite of him being a spy. So what is the logical conclusion of that decision? When Chuck offered to leave the spy life and run with her, how should she have reacted?

        That’s the core problem with the writing. They constantly throw Sarah’s character under the bus to tell one story, and then when they realize that won’t work, the completely opposite one. It’s lazy.

      • thinkling says:

        I’ll add my 2c here on the Bryce clone issue.

        I don’t like S3 any better than the rest of you, and I agree that extensive character damage was done, but I can’t agree with Bryce clone theory. My black box disclaimer always applies, which in a nutshell says that the potentially great story that might have been S3 suffered enormously because pet devices (wt/wt, OLIs, and Extreme Communication Malfunction – of eye-rolling magnitude) ruled the story instead of serving the story. (My full take on S3 is here.)

        Chuck is in many ways just a Bryce clone who doesn’t like to kill.

        I don’t agree with that. I have never seen Chuck as a Bryce clone and Sarah certainly didn’t. I don’t think Bryce would have gone to save Shaw. Just the fact that Sarah finally saw that Chuck was still her Chuck, proves that he wasn’t a Bryce clone. She had already chosen Chuck over Bryce three times, so she wasn’t about to settle for a Bryce clone (or not in Chuck anyway – black box).

        That guy is just handed Sarah because it is episode 13.

        Yeah, that’s true. Like Bill said the wt/wt clock ran out.

        We never saw him or her earn that moment.

        Somewhat agree. I think in TPTB’s mind American Hero was where Chuck earned that moment … by showing Sarah that he was still the guy she fell for. After all the character damage, it wasn’t enough for us, but I think it was enough for TPTB.

        They needed to have him win her in spite of the 2.0 not because of it.

        Well, see, I think that’s what they did, mired as it was in the rest of the mess that made the story almost unseeable and unwatchable. Sarah has always loved Chuck for who he is, but he always had a hard time believing it. He uploaded the 2.0 to step up and do the right thing, but also to become someone he thought she deserved. We’re given his ‘why’ in what goes through his mind right before he uploads and in what he says in Three Words. (I think they tried to do what Bill suggested — show an urgency for him to upload the 2.0, but that could have been stronger.) Chuck was going to fill the Intersect gap left by Bryce’s death and become that guy he thought Sarah deserved and wanted him to be.

        Except ‘that guy’ that Sarah fell for wasn’t a spy like other spies. He was a good guy who wanted to help people. So, from the get-go, Sarah rejected Chuck becoming a spy — a Bryce clone. She didn’t want him to become a different person and told him so … when she asked him to run away, on the platform in Prague, in Tic-Tac, in American Hero, and finally in Other Guy. (She later reiterated that fact in Ring 2 and AoT and FoD, then resoundingly in Phase 3. Also in Balcony)

        Her push back all of S3 was driven by her fear that he would become nothing but a spy … a Bryce clone. And she didn’t want that. So, the only solution at that point, since he did the deed, was for him to become a spy and still be ‘that guy’ that she fell for. American Hero, when he went after Shaw, was suppose to show Sarah that he was still that guy.

        However occluded the story was by piles of … other stuff, I think they showed that even though Chuck became a spy, he was still a regular guy, and that’s the ONLY reason that Sarah packed her bags to run away with him. I just don’t see that he got her by becoming a Bryce clone, but rather by not becoming a Bryce clone, even though he became a spy.

        I would have liked to see Sarah help him, despite her misgivings, become a spy without losing himself. Then I would have preferred a follow through on Beckman’s warning that they would have to protect the world from Chuck … instead of the continual, whiny ‘come on flash’ stuff. I would have like to see Chuck fight not to lose himself and Sarah fight along with him, struggling with her fears that she still might lose him to the Intersect. Chuck would have been fighting the thing in his head, the bad guys, threat of termination (if things didn’t go well), and the government (who would have wanted a Bryce clone). Obviously, cut out all the OLIs. That could have been some good drama and some good comedy with an Intersect run amuck. Open communication between Chuck and Sarah and a developing real (rather can cover) relationship (probably a secret one) would have been so much better than what we got.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yes, Thinkling. Every thing that you said is exactly right. And yet I can point to things that tell the exactly opposite story. That’s my problem with the writing. They tried to have it both ways. And they constantly threw Sarah’s character under the bus to accomplish that.

        They sell us on the fact that she loved Chuck because he wasn’t like Bryce, yet then when she has the chance to get him out of that life, she rejects it.

        And while they didn’t want us to have the impression that Chuck had turned into Bryce, that’s kinda what happened. Look at the fight scene with Bryce and Sarah in Nemesis. Then look at the fight scene with C/S in Honeymooners. Don’t they look similar? After Honeymooners they are much more spy team than they are normal couple. In fact they went to great pains to show Sarah as afraid of that normal couple thing… the very thing they tried to sell us in Other Guy that she wanted.

        It’s just a mess.

        They played similar games with Chuck’s character. Sometimes he was dolt who couldn’t get out of his own way. Other times he was a superhero who saves the world.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually completely agree with Jason about the story they tried to tell, but it still leaves me unsatisfied in two main areas. The first is just that it had Chuck being a jerk for most of the season. In making becoming a spy his main objective, he lost that level of relatability and likability that had been so central to his character and the show. And second it made the love story less epic and special, Chuck and Sarah actually became a good match by worldly standards. I much preferred when he had no obvious thing to offer her.
        Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Chuck fully entering the spy world. But I think it needed to be with Sarah all the way through. The bottom line is, the estrangement period simply sucked every ounce of fun out of the show. The show became fun again, but the estrangement remains a festering wound.

      • thinkling says:

        I see your point Bill. Sarah’s character suffered the most whiplash, especially in S3. However, I think Honeymooners set up the last half of the story, which was trying to have it all — normal and spy. Given either/or they were going to reject spy and choose normal, but they decided to try to have it all. Yes, they were a good spy team, like Sarah and Bryce, but Sarah and Bryce only ever had a spy relationship. Chuck and Sarah wanted a real relationship and still be spies, so they did that. They set up a normal life together, something Bryce would never have done or suggested. I didn’t see a spy team with a relationship for chilly nights. I saw a normal couple with a real life, trying to still be spies — world of difference. Sure Sarah had to ease into it (maybe too much at times), but she wanted it, and they made it work. The last half of the series showed why it couldn’t work — not because of them, but because the spy world is too cold and unforgiving. They finally realized that and escaped, but it cost them … too much.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Thinkling,

        But here was their dilemma. They sold us on two characters who pined for a normal life with each other. Chuck maybe verbalized it more but Sarah certainly non-verbally showed it just as much. Watch the last part of Suburbs when they were breaking down the CIA set, and look at the longing in her eyes.

        But the story of Chuck and Sarah, normal married couple raising a family wouldn’t make for interesting television, right?

        So at key times, when they were offered exactly what we’re being told they have been pining for, they find some way to reject it.

        First Sarah in Ring. She went from ‘it is real’ to leaving with Bryce in about 30 seconds of air time.

        Then Chuck in Pink Slip. Enough has already been said about that. I find it amazing that anyone would even try and defend Prague as being within Chuck’s character.

        Then Sarah in American Hero. She threw her gun on the bed. The symbolism was clear. She was done being a spy. Yet her retirement lasted for 6 seconds… and was never referenced again.

        Then both of them in Honeymooners. They were both willing to leave the life for the other. But neither wanted it.

        Then Sarah in early S4. Time and time again they showed her resisting the very thing that she was pining for.

        The problem is that they never sold us on those rejections. They simply asked us to believe this suddenly OOC behavior.

        IMO, what they should have done is be consistent with their characters. If they are going to pine for a normal life, embrace that. Find some way to allow an outside force to keep it from happening and tell the romantic story of them constantly fighting for the right to be normal.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I honestly think you’re making too much of this. Real people do often waffle on their goals, and even try to “have it all”.
        If we throw out S3, and really, please, let’s just throw out S3, we actually see a pretty consistent story for both characters. Chuck is the normal guy who gets involved in the spy life and does great things. He comes to like doing the great things, but in the end he bails out because his family, his wife, is more important.
        Sarah is the professional spy who sometimes dreams of a normal life. Chuck becomes the embodiment of those conflicting priorities. She falls in love and wants that normal life with Chuck, but is constantly pulled back to the “only thing she’s ever been good at”. In the end she also decides the safe family life is the better pursuit.
        But both characters will alternately waffle and try to have it all. That strikes me as believable. And on Chuck, its mostly played for fun and laughs (“do you promise to quit the spy life and run away with me…”). Some things like unpacking suitcases and pre-nups may be sillier than others; but I think its our mistake if we take these things too seriously, the show didn’t. It only becomes really troublesome when we dive into S3. Both characters made extreme and foolish decisions that are really too far outside of the other four seasons of character development to be taken very seriously. We got 12 episodes of forced writing, lousy entertainment, and an oppressively dark tone. They were obviously trying to be a different show and reach a different audience. I don’t even consider much of it to be “Chuck”.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Dave, even if I’m willing to throw out S3, I read a post by someone defending S3, stating that I’m wrong thinking that any of it was flawed or OOC, and how much I should just stop bitching and admit that I loved it (okay, that last part was an embellishment, lol).

        And Chuck didn’t waffle. Being a spy is the farthest thing from his mind up until S3. He spends all of his energy and actually constantly endangers himself in order to get out of the spy life. So even if we throw out S3, we still have a character problem. You can perhaps make a better case for Sarah if you throw out S3. But still in S1, S2, she was clearly pining for what she later Is afraid of.

        Unfortunately, TPTB weren’t trying to reach a different audience. I wish that were true. That would actually make some sense. But they were trying to reach us. They were trying to tell the romantic dramatic story of them getting together in Other Guy. They simply miscalculated on what we would accept… to a ridiculous extent.

        What Chuck became is a light, sometimes funny, sometimes cute show. That’s good, right? But it was a shell of the engaging show that was simply the best TV had to offer in S1 and S2. And I judge TPTB (mostly Chris Fedak, that might not be totally fair) harshly for wasting that enormous opportunity.

        It’s sort of like taking the goose that lays the golden eggs and saying ‘it’s the best Thanksgiving meal we’ve ever had’, lol.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree with much of what you all are saying and that is why I qualified many of my statements. But the problem is that Thinkling gets it right. So much of that story that is there is so muddied, convoluted, badly executed and simply dragged down by all the other “stuff” it is at best unseeable and at worst unwatchable. Plus they hinged it all on the worst developed character and worst casting mistake of the entire series.

        Jason I would contend that we absolutely did know Sarah was going to meet Chuck for two reasons, first the easter egg of the Safe-comfortable pic, a moment I wrote a fic about that I think fits well with canon, and her throwing the gun on the bed BAW’s fist pump moment. The problem is, 30 seconds later it meant nothing. It was never mentioned, never explained, and Sarah never said anything about it but just cowtowed to the Shaw worship like everyone else.

        With all of that mud its easy to miss what Sarah really wants. Is it Chuck the regular guy, Chuck the spy who can’t kill, or even Shaw the wooden android? Then we get the critical moment of for the first time ever in the series, Sarah doesn’t trust Chuck and it is ignored just 30 minutes of screen time later like it never even happened.

        Think about Shaw and Bryce, I think Bryce does go in to get Shaw because it is the better spy move not because “I know how much he means to you” which BTW was nothing and never once shown that Sarah cared at all about Shaw. Bryce does it because Shaw’s plan is stupid, suicidal and not heroic on any level. But Bryce goes in to make sure the Director is actually there, capture him and any other intel rather than sim[ply put a target on his back. That kind of sacrifice wasn’t heroic, it was the work of a demented, clueless buffoon.

        All of this just makes for incredibly bad storytelling and lousy entertainment.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think even in S1/S2 Chuck was pulled both ways. Its why in the Pilot he rushed in to find a bomb even after he’d been told to wait. Its why he never stayed in the car. Its why he geared up in Dream Job to find a Fulcrum Intersect or set up a Missile Command tournament. He was constantly driven to rise to the challenge and do the right thing. I liked that about him, and was actually rooting for him to “embrace his destiny” by the end of S2.
        Of course the way they did it was a complete FUBAR. He abandoned a core part of who he was to become something he wasn’t. Which of course could have been a good story if they hadn’t piled on the ridiculous OLI distractions. There was so much missed potential in that story.
        And yeah I can see missed potential all the way to the end of the series. Maybe CF does shoulder much blame for that. But to me, the show became fun again at 3.13, and remained fun to the end. It occasionally delivered outstanding episodes, and never completely bombed, so I can’t muster too much “disappointment” for those last two seasons.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        Doing the right thing, and being the reluctent hero doesn’t mean that he wanted to be a spy. His mantra, almost to an annoying extent in late S2 was that he wanted the intersect out of his head and live a normal life (hopefully with Sarah). He rejected Beckman’s offer to join Sarah’s team in Ring, even though it meant Sarah would be leaving.

        So in Pink Slip. he is offered exactly what he had been saying that he wanted. Sarah was pleading with him to go with her and get out of the spy life. And suddenly he wants to be a spy, so much so that he breaks her heart.

        They never sold us on that… and they didn’t even try. Given the chance in Honeymooners, to be with Sarah outside of the spy life, the Chuck I know from S2 would have jumped at that.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        As much as I hesitate to weigh in on a largely Chuckwin’s law thread, I do want to bring up a few things about Chuck’s decision to become a spy. While Chuck continually said he wanted the intersect out of his head in season 1 and 2 it was not about having a normal life, it was about taking back control of his life and moving forward. If you listened to what sort of life Chuck wants or had envisioned for himself as early as Chuck Versus The Tango it is clearly an extraordinary life (software millionaire racing in the America’s Cup).

        This same theme is re-played in the season 2 premier when Chuck talks about the life he wants. It is one of travel and adventure and doing unique, exciting and meaningful things. Wanting the intersect out is simply the means to achieving the independence and control to make the extraordinary life he wants, hopefully with Sarah involved.

        His breaking point in season 2 is precisely when he is given a glimpse of that life as an employee at Rourke Industries, and then has it snatched away by the requirements of his spy-life. The look on his face as he returns to the Buy More says it all, “I can’t take it anymore”. But the “it” he can’t take is his being forced to remain in the place he is due to the requirements of being the intersect, which he associates with being a spy. It is his gradual realization over the next few episodes, reaching it’s pinnacle in the intersect room near the end of Chuck Versus The Ring, that Chuck sees a way to make that extraordinary and meaningful life he wants and be with Sarah as a spy.

        I’ll leave it at that as I don’t want to contribute to the eternal debate about what follows by discussing how I see what plays out in the aftermath of that decision.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Ernie, you can’t leave it there, lol. Even if everything that you said is true (for the sake of argument) Sarah was offering him exactly that, an exciting building of ther life together… with the girl of his dreams.

        And since we’re having this discussion, where does “I’m just not that guy” when he was dancing with Sarah fit into the scenario you’re painting? It wasn’t wishing he could be that guy. It was acknowledgement that he wasn’t, and didn’t want to be. Even though he loved her, he recognized that they just weren’t meant to be. Sarah was going to go off with Bryce and save the world… and he was going to stay in Burbank and be normal. It was only when he realized that she was in danger that he followed her.

      • atcDave says:

        I really think you’re finding a problem where none exists Bill. We would simply reiterate the same things back and forth here. I saw a hero in the making who always rose to the challenge, I liked that about him, and I was well pleased when he (finally) embraced his destiny. APART FROM S3, I think the story was very well done.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, I’d agree wholeheartedly (with a quibble, OK a big quibble, about how problematic season 3 was) with your point of view. But in the end we are talking about very subjective and personal reactions when we are discussing how well they “sold” certain aspects of the characters or the subtext.

        You and I were able to see the developing hero ready to take on his destiny in season 2 where others were not, just as I think I understand what is driving Chuck and Sarah down different paths in season 3 a bit more than some others do. But in the end if they didn’t sell you they didn’t sell you on it, even though they mostly sold me outside some problematic execution.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, I think I will leave it there despite your protestations since I very much doubt my explanation would convince you or others.

        As for “I’m just not that guy” that to me is fairly obvious. Something that is central to both Chuck and Sarah’s characters is the conflict within them over the things they want, but don’t think they are capable of having. Chuck will always (at least until the final season) doubt himself at some level, no matter how much he achieves. It is only with Sarah’s help (“How many times do you have to be that guy to realize you are that guy.) that he overcomes his self-doubt and embraces his full potential.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Again, Ernie. My interpretation of that scene is pretty much polar opposite of yours. To me, when Sarah is telling him that ‘he is that guy’ she certainly isn’t encouraging him to reach for any potential. Quite the contrary. She is telling him that he doesn’t have anything to prove to her, that he is her guy just as he is.

        And even Sarah disagrees with your POV. In Colonel lying on the bad, Chuck asks her “Why are you doing this?”

        Her answer was “… you deserve to get the Intersect out of your head, and have a chance at a normal life.”

        What did Sarah mean by normal life? I think she meant a wife, job, house with the picket fence and 2.3 kids. That’s what I think Chuck was telling her in Lethal Weapon.

      • joe says:

        As is often the case, Ernie is expressing my thoughts better than I do.

        Chuck is always being asked “who are you?” and “what do you want?” The answers are never final. The only thing I want to add to what’s been said is that Sarah is never really asked that question, but always offers the answer – I am merely a spy. Her “problem” (scare quotes intended) is that it’s the only thing she knows and she can see no way out of it. Even more, she’s really afraid of dragging Chuck into it too, lock, stock and Intersect.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Joe, Tell me something. (maybe I should ask Ernie, lol)

        When you were watching American Hero and Sarah threw her gun on the bed, what did that scene say to you? To me it said fairly plainly that she was done with the spy life. She no longer needed a gun. She was going to meet Chuck and go off and be ‘normal’ with him.

        What did it say to you that makes it consistent with her decision in Honeymooners?

      • uplink2 says:

        “You don’t take a gun on a real date.”

      • Ernie Davis says:

        To me, when Sarah is telling him that ‘he is that guy’ she certainly isn’t encouraging him to reach for any potential. Quite the contrary. She is telling him that he doesn’t have anything to prove to her, that he is her guy just as he is.

        I don’t disagree, but what Sarah is telling Chuck and what he hears aren’t always the same thing. In the same way, what Sarah envisions the “normal” life Chuck wants and what he really wants are also often in conflict. The scene in the intersect room where he makes the decision to re-intersect makes it pretty clear that Sarah’s declaration that he “is” that guy is a prime motivation for him doing it. That quote running through Chuck’s head is the last thing we see/hear before he makes the decision.

  4. Justin says:

    atcDave, when will the next alternative post be? After the 4×11 review?

    • atcDave says:

      I’m planning on right after Push Mix (4.13) Justin. That should be good for a lot of alternatives, and I look forward to a few new episodes from you!

      • Justin says:

        I’m mapping the episodes as we speak and they are going to be an intense run for Chuck and the gang.

  5. joe says:

    I got tired of trying to find the beginning of that monster thread above, so I’ll answer Bill’s excellent question here. If anyone feels the need, I’d really appreciate all additional followups down here! It makes life just a little easier.

    To me it said fairly plainly that she was done with the spy life. She no longer needed a gun. She was going to meet Chuck and go off and be ‘normal’ with him.

    Not to me! When Sarah threw the gun on the bed I got one message loud and clear. Sarah was telling us that she knows Chuck was not a killer. “Her Chuck” has not disappeared – that was the word she had used earlier – the way Jenny Burton had disappeared.

    It didn’t tell me that Agent Sarah Walker was gone. Far from it – Sarah Walker was who she was now. That didn’t mean that Sarah Walker was limited to being “merely” a spy. It did mean that she was going to be a spy and be as normal as possible, just like Chuck.

    Which means she found Jenny Burton hadn’t completely disappeared either. Sarah stopped denying that right then and there.

    • atcDave says:

      Well my first impression would be more like Bill’s. But wishes and reality are different things. So while she may have been “ready” to leave it all behind and just run off with Chuck, reality is different. And Sarah has a very strong sense of duty. As we saw again in Honeymooners, she may have wanted to run off with Chuck, but first sign of trouble and she can’t help herself, she must get involved.
      I like to imagine post series this would continue, even if she is leaning more towards normal. She will never be completely normal, and WILL jump in when the need arises.

    • BillAtWork says:

      Wow, wow, wow, Joe. I have to say it’s the first time I’ve ever heard that scene interpreted that way. I have to say, it doesn’t make much sense to me. Sarah carried a gun BECAUSE Chuck wasn’t a killer. He needed someone to protect him.

      Maybe this is why we see things so differently.

    • thinkling says:

      I was going to chime in on this whole what-they-really-wanted thing. So, thanks Joe for making my scrolling easier.

      The bottom of all bottom lines is that Sarah wanted Chuck and Chuck wanted Sarah.

      When Sarah threw her gun on the bed, to me it meant she wanted Chuck, and that she was willing to change her current plan to be with him. (I think that’s what her decision on the beach meant, too.)

      At that juncture, it meant the end of spying, but it didn’t mean a normal life, because life on the run is far from normal, well maybe except for Sarah. And maybe she still dreamed of a normal life with a family and children (Crown Vic), but there would be time for that, once they found a safe place to quit running.

      Why did Chuck ask her to run away? Because that’s where ‘they’ left off. That’s where he blew it. He didn’t run away with her. So, because Chuck wanted Sarah, he offered her what she once asked for. It wasn’t his original dream of “living the life he wants with the girl he loves.” It also wasn’t the dream that just landed in his lap: leading a spy team in Italy, with Sarah as part of the team, which he was pretty jazzed about, until she said no. But at that point he was willing to live any life with the girl he loved, because “Sarah is the most important thing.”

      Why had Sarah asked Chuck to run? Well, she still wanted to be with him and was willing to change course to do so, but mostly because she didn’t want the spy life to corrupt “her” Chuck … turn him into “nothing but a spy.” But by American Hero he was a spy, and he was still her Chuck. Therefore, Sarah’s main reason for running no longer existed, but Chuck didn’t know that.

      So, what did they really want? Each other. The details were less important, so they hopped on a train to be together.

      On the never ending train ride, they sorted it out. Under the premise that it had to be one or the other (and the fear that if they returned to the spy life, Beckman would squash their dream, and they wouldn’t end up together), they chose to run … to be together.

      They really expressed this bottom line pretty well in the café conversation. It was clear that: 1) whatever else they may have wanted, they wanted each other more; 2) they liked spying, but not if it meant losing each other.

      They finally decided to try to have it all: be spies and do great things together and have a normal life, with the main objective firmly in place … being together.

      • atcDave says:

        Ah, perfectly well put. They wanted to be together. Spy/no spy; that can be sorted out later. And will continue being negotiated to the very end.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Damn you guys. You actually made me go back and re-watch part of Pink Slip. Fortunately I’m getting very good at finding the specific scenes I want without having to look at the ‘other stuff’

        Here’s the deal. Words mean things. Watch when Sarah is asking Chuck to run. Sarah is excited. “I’m saying that I can be a real person again… with you.” When Chuck says yes, her smile lights up the room.

        In American Hero, Chuck definitely asks her to leave the spy life. “And I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, away from everyone else, and away from the spy life.”

        And sorry, Joe. Not sure if you’re being serious or pulling my leg. But I think I’m going to stick to my original interpretation. Sarah throwing her gun on the bed meant that she was going to take him up on it. She was no longer a spy.

        Several things pop out at me. First, clearly they backed off that. I actually like Thinkling’s explanation on that one. They liked being spies. Both were willing to quit if that’s what the other wanted, but since it wasn’t, they could have it all.

        But the other thing is how silly early S4 was. She had clearly made a lifetime commitment, actually as early as Colonel. She reiterated it in Pink Slip. She actually sort of de facto proposed to him. He definitely de facto proposed to her. What else does ‘spend the rest of my life with you’ mean?

        And yeah, I can already hear someone saying that those details don’t matter. But they do. When you’re telling a story, those kinds of details do matter.

        So all the hubbub about the on again off again proposal was fairly moot.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Bill. They definitely had some proposal moments, or at least lifetime commitment moments, which did make some of Sarah’s waffling seem odd. One of my favorite lines in Honeymooners is when Chuck questions his cover story as the Charleses and Sarah looks at him and says, “Chuck, we’re running away together.” I would have been happy if they had stopped at a chapel on the way to the train station in Paris.”

        The explanation, though a little thin, that I can live with and enjoy the ride they gave us (because I really did love S4 and S5) is that in each of the those scenarios, they were going to run away together. Sarah was good at that kind of life. It was putting down roots that was new to her. Even though normal (white house, red door, white picket fence) appealed to her, she hadn’t ever done it, so she was a bit … tentative. On the one hand, she had lived life on the run. She was comfortable with that and didn’t really expect to settle down. On the other hand she wanted to be with Chuck, and he made her want to try normal, not just dream about it. So her steps toward the typical normal life were hesitant. As a spy she was confident … as a normal girl, not so much. Thankfully, we got her answer early on, even if we had to wait for the proposal.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Thinkling, I can live with that. I didn’t ever think that the wt/wt in S4 was real. That was sort of the problem. Most of the drama I always felt that they were already way past that. I wished they had taken that time to tell a better story.

        So what is the deal with your handle? When I think of what a thinkling is, all I can come up with is a baby thinker, lol.

      • Jason says:

        Thinkling so much about Sarah was revealed in just a few lines from her mom in the baby ep, mom said something to Chuck like thank you for giving her this. I think she meant ‘this normal life’, opinion of course.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think what she is saying he gave her is family and a home. Something that she and Jack couldn’t give her.

        But I am totally with Bill on the AH scene. She was totally throwing in the towel on the spy life until The Almighty Shaw, the perfect hero spy :eyeroll: shows up and that fist pump moment is lost never to be heard from again. I also know because she threw being a great spy on that bed with it. Yes sports fans it really is totally believable that you can never get a cell signal all the way from downtown LA to the desert. Yep no reason to doubt the almighty Shaw then. Not a problem there, nope she had been given a mission with the Almighty and he’s a good spy and you should never be suspicious of anything he says or does. He is so great he can even deal with finding out his new lover killed his wife lol I’ll just run away to Paris, where I shot her, with no backup and walk arm in arm right to the spot before I ever question anything he says.

        Isn’t it sad that the best spy that day was Morgan?

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah waffling on the moving in and unpacking really was silly (especially the unpacking!). From Honeymooners on (arguably from the end of American Hero) Chuck and Sarah were married in all but fact. I can buy Sarah’s later struggles having more to do with “normal” than with commitment to Chuck. But none of those waffles bother me too much (mmmmm waffles…) because they were all played for fun. Even Chuck and Sarah seemed to mostly have fun with their various little challenges (“you’re not going to ask me to move in again are you?”) and I never doubted again after Honeymooners that they would be fine.
        I can imagine the show and relationship could have been handled in different ways, and I will definitely have little complaints from time to time. But at this point, they are all little complaints.

      • BillAtWork says:

        The only sin was of ommission. They could have used that time and energy to tell a more engaging spy story. I would have liked to see Alexei Volkoff as less of a cartoon character and more of a behind the scenes threat… to Chuck and Sarah, but also to the world.

      • atcDave says:

        I liked the cartoon villain. Really one of my all time favorite TV baddies.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I loved Dalton. I think that he stole nearly every scene he was in. But I think the character could have been writen much more menacing.

        Instead of wondering if Sarah will ever unpack, I’d rather be wondering if his ominous plans for world domination and Chuck domination could be defeated.

        Leftovers had sort of a creepy vibe, not really a menacing one, aside from the Die Hard tribute and 10 seconds of almost shooting Sarah..

      • thinkling says:

        @Bill: My handle (only one person has ever guessed the origin, and I was totally shocked) is a contraction for the inkling. Inkling would have served, but I liked the double entendre. One of my favorite writers (Which one? Dave could help with that.) was in a writers group that called themselves The Inklings, not that I hold a candle to such writers, but I liked the moniker.

        As for the spy story and Volkoff, again I have fewer complaints than most, but they could have sold it a little better. Volkoff needed to be a villain on a whole different level than Fulcrum or the Ring (which to me they did an even poorer job of selling, maybe because they were too busy peddling Shaw). It circles back to the mom story. For me Leftovers sold her plight, but I am in the minority and recognize that they needed to sell it better. If they could have convinced us that she was truly trapped, and showed us a little better (earlier) how ruthless Volkoff was, then the stakes would have been higher. Could they get Mary out? Would the spy world destroy them as it did Chuck’s parents? Could they thrive on the razor’s edge between two worlds … or even survive? It would lead into the final season, when they realized they not only wanted out but needed out if they were going to have the life they both wanted. They could have planted bigger seeds of the conspiracy. Then Deker’s reveal would have been an aha moment.

        In their defense, Volkoff was a focus in every episode before we met him. By the time we met him, we knew that he had a world-wide arms pipeline that sold the latest in technology, as well as nuclear weapons. They showed us his headquarters and his henchmen, but obviously wanted to save the actual Volkoff reveal. They could have developed the problem that he had people inside the CIA (which would have foreshadowed the conspiracy plot and made Mary’s position more tenuous). Or they could have shown his hatred of Orion … and a maniacal obsession to get his hands on the rumored Intersect. So though I do see that the spy story could have been strengthened, I still thoroughly enjoyed what they gave us.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Thanks, Tinkling.

        Nobody guesses the origin of my handle either. My name is Bill and one day when I was supposed to be working, I was on an NBC Chuck forum telling people that they were putting C/S together way too fast and it was going to cause them big problems. 🙂

        Okay, so I guess people do guess, lol.

        The spy story. Look, it’s no secret that I hold TPTB to a higher standard than most here do. And in this setting, that makes some uncomfortable. I get that. The “Chuck This” house view seems to be that Chris Fedak, if not quite a writing god, is at a higher level than most mortals. 🙂

        And even I agree that much of what they were showing us was farce (see Chuck vs Bo) and wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. But there are times when they clearly did want to be taken seriously. The love story and the spy story are two of those things. And while in both of those cases, you can usually watch an episode and be entertained, and even get what they were trying to tell you, when you try and paste those episodes together into an overall story, it makes your head hurt. Far too many times, you learn something that might be acceptable in the context of the episode you’re watching, but totally invalidates or even directly contradicts something that you’ve been told to take seriously in the past. And that leads to sessions of incredible fan wanking by those defenders here who refuse to admit that they were sometimes sloppy and the overall story doesn’t make sense.

        But no place is that more evident than their villains. Fulcrum was actually a good villain. It was totally undefined. So it could have multiple story facilities, be everywhere, and have their own team of researchers working on their own Intersect. They posed a ubiquitous threat, yet nobody really knew what their true objective was. IMO, they should have kept Fulcrum as the constant series big bad. But they ended them for the sake of a season finale and replaced them with The Ring. The Ring was supposed to be a superset of Fulcrum, even more powerful. Yet it was defeated by capturing 6 accountants in a stairwell. Huh? I mean even the totally sycophant Alan Sepinwal called them on that.

        So I would have always had Fulcrum as the big bad. Team Bartowski would maybe win victories against them for season finale climaxes, but never truly defeat them. Alexei Volkoff works much better as a big money guy and behind the scenes strategist for Fulcrum. There is an amazing story to be told about how Steven Bartowski’s old college roommate and his best friend came to team up to head this truly evil organization. Mary being undercover for 20 years might even make some sense in that context (well, probably not).

        They were simply too clever by third telling Mary’s story. They spent so much time and energy selling us that she was bad, that she simply couldn’t be believably rehabilitated.

        So, IMO, they had the opportunity for a powerful, romantic story. Quickly put C/S together (quickly means at Colonel, lol), eliminate the relationship as a storyline, and tell the story of this team who constantly gets underestimated, who is much stronger than the sum of its parts, fighting this ubiquitous organization that poses a threat to, not only their family, but to the world at large.

        Stop trying to tell a serial story. Make it more mission of the week oriented. At most have some 3 episodes arcs. That way, no matter what the NBC PTB throw at you, the story doesn’t change.

      • thinkling says:

        Jason and Uplink: Yes, Emma definitely meant thank you for giving her home and family and the things I couldn’t give her, tying back to Sarah’s conversation with her mom when she gave her mom the baby (what a fantastic scene). But I think it tells us much more about Emma than it does about Sarah. (We already knew about Sarah’s desire for a real family in the cozy, homey, simple house.) Emma was happy for her daughter and finally at peace about her life. Emma bonded with Chuck because he gave her home and family (the things she wanted to but couldn’t). Mary bonded with Sarah for similar reasons: Sarah could protect Chuck, when Mary couldn’t.

      • Jason says:

        Dave – one of the problems I had with Volkov was since he was essentially a cartoon character, any real drama had to be run at Sarah – her willingness to kill Casey or run away for a half year to recover Mary etc. Chuck was there to react to the Sarah drama, which wasn’t exactly that character’s wheelhouse either, since he too was written, even at dramatic times, as sort of a bafoon. Roark was comic in nature too, but Orion really raised the ante that season, Mary probably needed to be a bad ‘guy’ who Chuck, Sarah, and Ellie redeemed to get the stakes where they needed to be.

        Vivian later in this arc was a real threat, and the writers did a fair job of telling her story, her problem for me was I sympathized with her and sort of liked her. And she was not the least bit menacing.

        By the way, if Shaw wasn’t an LI (a rejected PLI would have been perfect while he was displaying the arrogance, cowardice and lack of spy skills in the first half of s3), he probably was the tone of the bad guy this show needed – disliked, serious and a real threat. Quinn’s problem was most the guys and gals on this blog could probably beat him up, or at least run away from him, I wasn’t buying him as a super spy.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually wouldn’t change much about Volkoff as a villain. I think he was fun and dangerous in appropriate measure for a show like Chuck. I found Vivian somewhat lacking, but that’s a discussion for another day.
        I think the only real problem with S4 was Mary’s story. And I never mean to call it the sort of epic fail S3 was, just that it needed something more. And to me that is, as Jason suggested, I think she needed to be more “bad”. The problem is, we already know she worked for a dangerous arms dealer for 20 years, she abetted countless illegal weapons sales, including nukes, she was feared and respected by other Volkoff henchmen; and yet in the end we’re supposed to buy she was a good and loyal CIA agent trapped in a deep cover. It just makes her look foolish and incompetent. Even worse, in Gobbler it makes Sarah look foolish and incompetent too.
        I think the fix is that Frost HAS gone rogue, or at least has been brainwashed (or Stockholm syndrome) into Volkoff’s service. Suddenly she seems less pathetic and more tragic. And then giving her a big redemption moment becomes far more meaningful. I always imagine a Darth Vader sort of ending working here. Possibly Sarah and/or Chuck have been working on her conscience, and memories of family and all that she’s lost, so that in the end she will switch sides and help save the day. Sarah undercover only works for me if Sarah is actively trying to get Mary to want to reclaim her old life, and bring this mission to an end. Asking Mary for coping advice makes them look like two stupid, foolish women.
        Now again, this is not a huge thing to me. Its one aspect of the canon story I find a little annoying. But it does not undermine an entire season or arc. It doesn’t make me dislike major characters. It doesn’t even completely ruin any single episode. Its just something I think should have been handled a little differently than it was.

  6. resaw says:

    I’m not a big fan of this episode, or the entire Mary arc, for that matter, although I understand Thinkling’s point of view on the matter, so I’ll confine myself to saying I knew the background to Thinkling’s handle, but I don’t want to spoil the research that others might engage in, in order to discover it for themselves. She’s given you all the clues you need, though.

  7. thinkling says:

    Okay tired of scrolling. I’m going to continue my discussion with Bill here.

    Bill at work — not too cryptic.

    I could find more fault than I do with Fedak. For starters, his promotion was abysmal. I see the plot holes and the weaknesses. I felt totally gipped when I realized the the Omen Virus arc was a vehicle for one more chance to make us love Shaw. I thought it was a bad idea to resurrect him (I think resurrecting Eve as one of the Ring leaders would have been way cooler) and an even worse idea to bring him back for thirds. And the timeline constantly drove me nuts. That was one thing that I would think they could get right, even over multiple bubbles and hiatuses and different writers. Just draw a timeline on the white board in permanent marker.

    But I never question his motives (his understanding of the fans, yes), so I don’t feel like harping on all of his shortcomings. I think it’s loads of fun to try to make sense of it all (even though it’s nearly impossible to do) and I like talking about the little changes that could have made things better. I never want to bash or cross the line into character assassination. Not that I think you do, not at all. You’re just a little more candid in your criticism. 😉

    Agree about the romance. Unfortunately, with romance, all of entertainment is far too tied to the fairytale/romcom model where getting the leads together is the endgame … kiss, throw rice, role credits. The audience is conditioned to expect this. So, you’re right. Get them together early and throw them into a huge adventure, so that they aren’t THE story. Getting them together can be intensely romantic, but don’t drag it out so long that we lose interest or they have to damage the characters to maintain wt/wt. After the wedding, their relationship can still be central to the story, and the romance can continue to sizzle. (I resent that marriage is often painted as the end of romance. Hey it’s the beginning of a great adventure and deepening romance. Why can’t anybody write that? Sorry, my soapbox) Then the story shifts to Chuck and Sarah (or whatever couple) against outside threats, or as you say TeamB against various goliaths.

    I like the idea of continuing with Fulcrum. Alexei works great as a related component … all under the direction of that larger conspiracy. That would be the end game … unveiling and defeating the PM. And that doesn’t have a shelf-life. Unfortunately romance has a shelf-life IF you follow the fairytale model, but if you do as we’re saying (get them together and move forward), it can last forever. It’s not getting the leads together that kills a show. It’s waiting too long to do it, because then it becomes the ipso facto endgame or the audience tires of the wt/wt and doesn’t care anymore … or both.

    • BillAtWork says:

      I know that it probably doesn’t look like it at times, but I honestly make an effort to try and be fair to Fedak. I have no clue what it takes to produce an hour long dramedy for 5 seasons. There are surely ridiculous outside pressures from the network, the studio, advertisers, the availability of cast, the need to service all of your regular characters, etc.

      But having said all that, I do think he was basically a nice guy… who was in way over his head. He was the college buddy of someone who made it fairly big and got the show runner gig because of it. He had no experience, and it showed.

      Even as a writer, his episodes all rank near the bottom for me. I think it’s tragic that the times circumstance got tons of new eyeballs to see the show were both Fedak episodes. Neither 3D nor Pink Slip inspires people who would have been potential Chuck fans to stick around. Had DeLorean been after the Super Bowl, I think it would have helped. If Honeymooners had been the S3 premier, I think we’d be talking about a completely different narrative.

      I totally agree with your main point. If done right, putting them together should be the beginning of the romance. The way they did it, the climax of the entire series is Other Guy. Once C/S are together, the show’s main story was over. Trying to keep wt/wt going by having Sarah not unpack may have been light and cute. But it was also not engaging. One could argue that everything from Honeymooners on is epilog. And I think the ratings bear that out.

      And what frustrates me is that it didn’t have to be that way. What is the most romantic scene of the series? (Okay, throw out the last 2 minutes of Honeymooners, lol) To me it is the split scene in Phase Three where dream Sarah and real Sarah are juxtaposed. They had been a couple for over a year. Why did that episode work so well? Some may say the Giant Blonde She Male. Not for me. It was Sarah realizing that she was no longer Sarah Walker. She was now half of Chuck and Sarah, and most importantly, she liked it and was willing to risk everything to not lose it.

      They tried to do the opposite in Ring II. But that simply didn’t have the same appeal for me. Again, I think that’s mostly based upon who wrote the episode. They spent much too much time on some fancy motorcycle that I could care less about, and the C/S wedding looked like it was stuck in fast forward, lol.

      So to me, that’s the fail of this episode (see how I got the discussion back on topic, lol?) I want to see the romance of C/S constantly fighting for each other. Instead, Chuck stands there. It was anti-romance.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you mean Cliffhanger instead of Ring II.

        I would mention, in CF’s defense, he did write Pilot and First Date; two favorites of mine. But otherwise I do agree with saying he generally wasn’t responsible for the very best of the show. It was more the excellent staff writers he assembled.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yes, of course I meant Cliffhanger.

        The pilot and First Date were written by Fedak and Schwartz. I think the reason we like them is Schwartz’s influence with the romance angle.

        The ones that Fedak did by himself, especially 3D and First Class, are devoid of any romantic component. That’s why I don’t care for them.

      • thinkling says:

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say that everything from Honeymooners on was epilog. They did a good job with Chuck and Sarah as a couple. There were a LOT of wonderful Chuck and Sarah scenes post Honeymooners. (They had sweet romance down pat. A little more sizzle from time to time would have been nice.) The story they were involved in, finding/rescuing Chuck’s mom, was a valid and potentially dramatic, exciting story. It may have suffered in the telling or execution, as we’ve discussed. The mileage does vary from one viewer to the next (depending on why they watch and how they drive their remotes).

        I actually commend them for getting Chuck and Sarah together and keeping them together earlier than most series. I was mostly pleased with the coupling and the relationship afterwards, especially S5. And I really commend them for allowing their characters to grow (albeit with backward steps from time to time) and the show to evolve.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I’d say Third Dimension has more problems than just the lack of romance! Really one of the very worst “whiny Chuck” episodes. But yeah First Class is a pretty atrociously bad episode for Charah fans.

        Thinkling I do agree about the later seasons. Really they were willing to handle relationship growth in a way few shows will ever touch. I’ve mentioned a few times a couple of friends I recently got hooked on the show who watched it all through in marathon fashion (I think three weeks for the entire series) who made the comment that the way the characters and relationship grew and developed was really one of the most special things about the show. Its always good to have your own opinions verified…

    • atcDave says:

      Thinkling and I are back to being exactly on the same page. I would add a little about CF, mainly just that his vision for the show is not exactly what I would have hoped for. Specifically, as we’ve said elsewhere, he was completely interested in the show primarily as Chuck’s journey. While to me, Charah and Sarah are AT LEAST equally important.
      Even saying that, I am glad CF gave pretty free reign to some of his staff writers whose vision more closely matched my own (LaJudkins and Newman).
      I will always be happy with the setting and characters he gave us. I’m not exactly sure in the big picture, how much of the show genesis comes from CF vs JS, but I suspect CF’s taste is actually closer to my own while JS’ major contributions were more organizational and technical. (I suspect JS is largely responsible for the romantic tension angle that defined the first two seasons as well, but I also suspect he is primarily responsible for what I like least about S3).

      • thinkling says:

        I’ve only seen one other JS product: Hart of Dixie (the S1 finale sent me packing), and I am grateful that the geometry and teen angst wasn’t worse than it was in Chuck. So, maybe the combination worked out in our favor.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think that may be true. CF seems to be more of a comic action/adventure sort, while JS writes for teen girls. Yet together they seem to have created something better than either could have done independently.

        On a barely related note, I’ve been watching “Agents of Shield” which has LaFrank and Judkins as show runners. It clearly has the same sort of comic sensibilities as Chuck, but it weakened by the casting. I like the “Agent Coleson” character, but I’m still not sure he can carry a show. And the two “muscle” characters were very poorly cast. The nerds and reporter seem to be better. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        While Josh Schwartz’s MO is definitely teen angst I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss Chris Fedak’s contribution to the Chuck and Sarah story. He did after all write Chuck Versus the Gravitron and Chuck Versus the Predator, both of which deal pretty head-on with the spy/relationship problems. He co-wrote Chuck Versus the Ring, which does not skimp on romantic moments for the couple, most notably the second wedding and the reception. In addition he wrote the episode that put them together, Chuck Versus the Other Guy, solo, including the “No, Chuck, yes” scene. Other notable episodes by Fedak that deal head-on with relationship issues are Chuck Versus the Anniversary and Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible, and, though few will credit this, but I think he wrote what may be the single most romantic scene in the entire series to end the series on the beach in Chuck Versus the Goodbye.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Ernie,

        Yes, he did write those episodes. And certainly there was a relationship component to most of them. It was the main storyline. How could anyone write Gravitron and not deal with the relationship at some level? It was the central theme of the Jill triangle arc.

        And in Ring II, IMO, the wedding was horrible. It was afterthought. Yes it happened. It had to happen. It was the climax to the 2nd half of the season, but the Black Hawk motorcycle got more screen time than the wedding.

        So it’s not that Fedak didn’t write about the relationship. How could you possibly write an episode of Chuck and not reference the C/S relationship? Even First Class dealt with the relationship. It’s that his writing isn’t romantic. It doesn’t have the spark of the other writers. Fedak is better at blowing stuff up.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I would definitely disagree with calling the ending intensely romantic, more like tepid and barely acceptable. I would also add a majority of those episodes contain sour moments too that keep them from being ‘shipper favorites (especially Ring and Predator). And at least one of them was co-written by someone else (Seduction Impossible) which makes it hard to credit any particular scene.
        But at the end of the day, my complaint with CF is not that he was anti-Charah or any such thing, just that his primary interest was not the same as mine. Apart from S3 (as said elsewhere, the worst of that may not even be his fault) CF did nothing that really hurt the show, but his episodes are not generally my favorites. I don’t consider him a bad writer, just not my favorite.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m not dismissing Fedak at all. I’m just saying that the Schwedak team seem to balance each other out. JS seems to write romance too teen-angsty and CF under delivers on romance, sometimes woefully so … for me.

        Of the episodes he wrote solo, I wouldn’t pick any as a favorite Charah episode. They may contain a good Charah moment here or there, but CF’s episodes are weighted more toward the spy story. I’m not saying that’s bad. I like a few of his episodes, but not for the romance. His solo episodes are in my middle to bottom tiers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well, I’ll admit that CF does love to get in his ‘splosions and his Die Hard at the Buy More episodes, but someone mentioned somewhere that Fedak seemed to have no interest in the romance when he has clearly indicated in interviews that he felt it the heart of the show in the end. So the idea that he was at best hands-off with the romance doesn’t fly with me.

        That some of us find other writers better at delivering on it doesn’t bother me.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that it was Josh Schwartz who said that Fedak wasn’t as invested in the romance part of the story. I do think he realized that if not for the love story, they didn’t have a show. Self preservation is a great motivator. But I do think that he was far more interested in the heroes journey and blowing stuff up than the love story, and it came through in his writing.

        I’m not sure that he is a bad writer. I just know that the Chuck episodes that he wrote are all near the bottom of my list. And that’s probably the single most consistent criteria for predicting if I would like an episode. If Fedak wrote it, I probably didn’t like it. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I would never say he wasn’t interested in it, because, exactly as you point out, he said that the romance was the heart of the show. He also ran the show, and he let the romance grow and flourish. That counts for a lot. He just benefited from a writing partner (or even a different team of writers) in the romance department. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I do think CF was not really interested in the romance. He only served it in a very minimalist sort of way. I have no doubt he understood it was a major component of the show’s appeal in the end, and as such he definitely made some effort to include it. Given it was absolutely a foundational part of the show, and he was involved in its creation, I’m sure he understood it mattered and had to be addressed. But I agree with those who say it didn’t really seem to be a priority with him. As Thinkling said, his episodes generally don’t score so well from a pure Charah perspective.

      • atcDave says:

        I think part of what falls short in CF episodes is not so much that he damages anything for Charah (unlike say, JS) its just that he is FAR more interested in Chuck as a character than he is in Sarah. So even if we get an episode like Other Guy that serves the romance in a significant way, Sarah still gets precious little screen time, and Chuck gets all the heroics to himself. In a CF episode it seems typical that Sarah will be drugged, handcuffed, on a minor sub-mission or just not available at the climactic moment (Ring and Ring II; she’s in cuffs at both climaxes!)
        Again, he wrote a number of episodes I do consider “favorites” (Pilot, First Date, Ring) just none of them are really strong from a romance perspective.

      • BillAtWork says:

        And clearly he had other priorities. In Cliffhanger he paid far more attention to a stupid black hawk motercycle than he did to the C/S wedding. Yes, you can say that he wrote the C/S wedding so he gets relationship points. I guess, if that’s how you’re scoring. But it felt like an afterthought to me. The episode was about Chuck being the hero, saving Sarah, and riding a blackhawk. Oh yeah, I guess that C/S got married. I hope you didn’t blink.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, given that CF made sure he was at least co-writing virtually every major turning point in the romance (with the exception of the proposal in Push Mix) I’d say he had more than a passing interest in it as merely a part of the show that needed to be served.

        Now granted, most of those turning points came at the beginning or the end of seasons, which he liked to write himself, but it is notable that he wants to do both the setup and the resolution. And again, he was the one that put them together in Other Guy, first in the hallway and then in the hotel room in Paris.

      • thinkling says:

        I think you touched on the real reason CF wrote those episodes. He wanted to do the set up and the conclusion. He liked doing openers and finales. I don’t blame him. It was his show. And those episodes are bound to have relationship turning points.

        In my mind, though, Other Guy is not exactly a poster episode for Charah. He got them together, because, well, it was time, because the schedule said so (and he could see the torches and pitchforks nearing the moat). The DYLM was truly a favorite scene, no doubt about it, but the end of Other Guy was too little return on investment (something like prime minus 2%). I know, I know. He got them together. But after all we/they had been through, the romance only got about 90 seconds of payoff (plus the hallway). If we hadn’t gotten Honeymooners, I would have been sorely disappointed.

      • atcDave says:

        Uh, like she said…

        Ernie I know he KNEW better. I just think his episodes underserve the romance. Its not a huge problem, especially since he let other writers pay it more attention. But mentioning his work on premiers and finales actually serves to emphasize my point. Apart from maybe Pilot and First Date I have some complaints about how the romance was written in every episode he did. The biggest being how often he has Sarah neutralized and out of the picture at climax time. That is really a pretty big thing, and it really undermines EVERY SINGLE ONE of his finales. From handcuffs (twice) to sedatives to Norseman he takes my favorite character out of the action, and leaves number two to handle the end. I get that the show is called “Chuck”, and that’s why I don’t really make a bigger thing of it, but it IS the very thing that keeps those episodes from being favorites. Well, actually, I can come up with more to complain about, but Sarah neutralized is a significant problem to me. And the inattention to Sarah is directly related to the romance issue; at climax time we get Chuck alone, and that’s when I most want to see Chuck and Sarah together. Chuck and Sarah vs the world is what I want to see, and CF never quite delivers on that theme.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I wanted to agree with Bill on Cliffhanger in particular. Although I often consider Cliffhanger to be the most completely satisfying finale the series ever did; it ended with a wedding and a very happy upnote for all involved, but Sarah is so completely taken out of the picture for most of the episode it actually makes me a little cranky as an entire episode.
        I think the funny thing with CF and romance is he understands its important and makes a point of including it in the story; he doesn’t actually honor both the characters very well. Its almost funny in a show with such a role reversal at its very core, but the finales are actually quite thoroughly traditional. Sarah becomes the damsel in distress that Chuck must rescue. And many of us grumble about it (at least a little), because it is actually not typical of the rest of the show. I think in the very best episodes we see Chuck as the creative mastermind and Sarah as the muscle (Hack Off!). And that is a favorite part of the whole experience to me. But the CF penned episodes are actually more traditional and less interesting than that (to me).

      • joe says:

        From handcuffs (twice) to sedatives to Norseman he takes my favorite character out of the action, and leaves number two to handle the end.

        Yeah, he does. It’s clear to me that CF is Chuck, to some extent at least, in his own head, and the show was always going to have that particular stamp on it. It’s only Yvonne’s fault that Sarah is the more popular character, right? 😉

        Did you see this weeks Castle? In an odd way, it’s been mirroring the same things we describe as faults here. The leads have been separated, physically, since the end of last season in real time, and more interestingly, Becket’s been unusually passive (and even “girly”) for her, relegated to literally slipping Castle the clue he needs to solve the case rather than going in guns blazing like we’re used to seeing.

        Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m guessing that their relationship is evolving in the writer’s room even as we speak. For me, it shows the characters have more sides to them than we’ve seen before.

      • atcDave says:

        I suspect you are exactly right Joe about how CF sees himself as Chuck. And although I want to credit the writers some for creating an independent, tough, heroic character such as Sarah; ultimately I think you’re exactly correct that its Yvonne’s off the charts charisma that makes the character so utterly appealing.
        Yeah we’ve been watching Castle. About the half way point this week my wife made the comment this season really wasn’t much fun with Castle and Beckett apart more, and Kate’s part being generally smaller. So no doubt we were both pleased with the end. Although I would have preferred if Kate had been more proactive and quit instead of waiting to be fired.

      • thinkling says:

        Long thread. I wondered what you guys thought about Castle. I thought Rick did the right thing. So did Kate (as far as defying her PTB and giving Castle the thumb drive and leaking the info), and it would have been nice if she had quit, but she’s not really a quitter. It will be interesting to see how she deals with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I definitely liked her solution to the problem. Maybe I expect too much from television, but I would like her acknowledge that philosophically she’s a better fit with NYPD than Uncle Sam. We’ll see what happens next week, obviously somehow she has to get her job back. Unless she becomes “Beckett, PI”!

      • Jason says:

        Castle’s script sort of telegraphed this arc’s path, I don’t think there were any real surprises. Yet, the show, like usual left me very satisfied. I seldom if ever would change Castle eps, I’m content with what they deliver each week such that I cut the writers a fairly large berth to do whatever they wish, little things here or there don’t bother me at all. I only wish Chuck’s writers and I had the same type of relationship!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I think the writers (notably Schwedak) deserve some of the credit for Sarah Walker’s popularity. It took a while for the writers and Yvonne to really iron out all the rough edges. While Tango sold me on her, to me the character didn’t really start to click till the Truth arc, even though she had her moments before then. She really took off in season 2 as a co-lead basically.

        I thought Castle was interesting, though a bit of a take-back. My guess is Beckett is back on the force next week. I thought it would be interesting to have Kate unemployed for a bit and Castle having to put her up since I doubt she’d have kept her NY apartment and she’d have to close down the DC one with no income. So Castle now has all three of the women in his life living in his loft with only Pi (who really confuses me…) to turn to for solace.

      • Jason says:

        Am I the only one of those who watch Castle and blog here who likes Pi? I love that he drives Castle crazy. It’ll be interesting to see how / if his character develops.

      • uplink2 says:

        To follow up on Dave’s point, look at Sarah in Other Guy. Except for the hallway scene and the hotel room scene which are the romantic scenes, she is probably her weakest as a spy in that episode. She misses huge road signs that something is extremely wrong and it is all to serve the worship of Shaw and Chuck having his hero moment.

        I think Fedak sees Sarah as far far far more of a plot device than the fans do or at least a huge portion of the fans anyway. We see her as either the far more interesting character, and yes much of that is because of Yvonne’s superior talent, or at the least the equal of Chuck. I don’t think Fedak does and I don’t think it ever was the plan or his view that she should be. She was a tool to serve whatever part of the heroes journey he wanted to tell or to try and get us into buying that Shaw was a believable character and the God above all other spies.

        As I said above, I find it extremely bothersome that the best spy in Other Guy is Morgan Grimes.

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t dislike Pi, but I can’t for the life of me see what Alexis sees in him. He’s kind of retro … a third millennium hippy with a blender. Ernie, I like the idea of Castle with his three women + Pi … what a great formula.

      • atcDave says:

        I like Pi a lot as comic relief, but he’s a terrible fit with Alexis. I’ve liked a lot of his scenes with Castle, oh and I really like that he apparently HAS been sleeping on the couch! But I’m not real thrilled with him as a long term cast member, unless he can make some Castle connection other than through Alexis.

      • Jason says:

        I don’t read Castle spoilers, so this is shooting from the hip, but I’m guessing Pi is a writer, a good one, lets even say a great one.

        If it were me, in the not too distant future, the jr writer and smart girl would go on a mission, maybe even to save the sr writer and smart girl.

  8. Jason says:

    I try to stay out of the Fedak evaluation today since I’ve said too much bad about him already in the past. I will say something to defend him however, I think Chuck was really well written or lets say ‘written with wit’ the first two seasons. After that, things sort of fell apart, not sure if the budget and the exodus of the writing team didn’t affect things more than any one man or even any one story arc. I think had the original team pumped out s3.5 thru 5’s ending, we get a tighter script, a series of better spy stories, a more touching, albeit more rocky romance and a more highly rated show. It’s a little unfair to heap that all on one guy’s shoulders, even though I’ve done it time and time again.

    • BillAtWork says:

      It’s funny, Jason. Because Schwartz escapes most of the criticism. It’s a double edged sword. I think that JS was the one who insisted that the love story be central in the first place.

      Fedak would have told a pure heroes journey story and the pilot wouldn’t have been picked up… or at most would have lasted the original 13 episodes.

      But JS was almost surely the architect of the Bryce, Lou, Bryce again, Jill, Cole, Jill again, and Bryce yet again triangle angst plots. Deciding that the triangles were working so well he upped his game to include a trapezoid. So JS’s fingerprints are all over the misery arc. But if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have had a misery arc… or a show.

      And the constant wt/wt did bring a certain edginess to the show. We ached for them to be together. And that delivered some of the best moments television can deliver.

      But wt/wt had played it’s course. They simply had no choice but to put them together. Other Guy was the absolute latest. The people with the pitchforks were pounding on the door. So JS took a much lesser role, a lot of the original writing staff went on to other things (I’d love to know the real reason), and left CF basically on his own.

      I hoped that he would replace that UST edginess with some other story. But he either couldn’t or wouldn’t. He road the wt/wt plot device into the ground. Only instead of edgy, it was lame. Wt/wt was no longer an engaging storyline. We knew that they would. Sarah not unpacking was maybe cute, but it also wasn’t engaging. So other than the Volkoff/Mary arc, they spend the last two season retreading old storylines, Roan, Shaw, Heather Chandler (I’m surprised they missed Jill). Morgan became the Intersect and replaced Chuck as the lovable nerd. Chuck had become Bryce. Morgan / Alex became the new wt/wt couple. It wasn’t the same. Nobody cared very much if Morgan got the girl.

      I tell my kids that I never want to hear something when their driving was not their fault. By definition, when you’re behind the wheel, you’re in charge. Everything is your responsibility.

      So I’m not sure how much CF is personally to blame. It doesn’t matter. He was in charge.

      • atcDave says:

        I remember having this discussion at this site back in 2010 about if the show could have survived without the romance at all. I think yes, for two seasons. I think CF could have come up with a fun spy-themed action comedy, with no organic love interest, that I might have even enjoyed a lot. But there would have been no “save the show” campaign when it struggled. It simply wouldn’t have had that solid emotional hook that the show we got had.
        I’m not really so sure how to parcel out the original concept credit. CF has said his first inkling of an idea for Chuck was the dance scene from the Pilot, and the beautiful, mysterious, dangerous spy who sweeps Chuck into the spy world seems to be ground zero for “Chuck”. Certainly I think the angst and tension of those first two seasons was JS’ contribution. And the number of love triangles we saw was likely all JS.
        I think I’ve actually been pretty aggressive about blaming JS for what went wrong with S3; let’s say I’m 99% sure that the worst parts of that story were all Josh. Although the actual Shaw character may be more CF’s doing, that’s pure guess-work based on how strongly CF has tried to defend that character in the past.

        Although I am aware of certain shortcomings in CF’s work (as I’ve mentioned all over this post!), I’m not so sure “blaming” him for anything about the later seasons really sits right with me though. I’m actually so completely pleased with S4 and S5, I’m really more interested in crediting him as the mastermind behind most of it. I think he chose a very well considered path for the relationship (even if he himself didn’t write the best of it). He let it become a part of the fun and heart of the show, without taking it too seriously and letting it overwhelm other parts of the show. In fact, I absolutely love the mood of the last two seasons; I think the balance of comedy, drama, romance and action was exactly to my liking. Maybe not “better” than S2, but rather a completely worthy follow on to it.
        The shortcomings I do see are mostly episodic or event sort of things, nothing really long term or structural to the show (once we get past 3.12). I can nitpick a few things; Mary’s failed mission, Vivian being a bit dull, CF’s tendency to generate groans instead of excitement every time he gave an interview, the botched “grand conspiracy” of S5, and a few other things I’m on record griping about.
        But I want to be clear the overall opinion of this blog, among all five authors who are still active, is overwhelmingly positive. Ernie and Joe in particular are complete defenders of the major show decisions. Faith, Thinkling and I have all had more serious complaints at different times; but apart from the contentious S3, none of us would ever consider the show a failure, or even seriously flawed. Rather, really, its a masterpiece. Perhaps a flawed masterpiece at times. But really something special in television history. And certainly the show I’ve lavished most attention on of any show I’ve ever seen in my life.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Look,

        I think we can generally agree that we enjoy S4 and S5. It was fun and entertaining. It even had a couple of fist pump moments. So blame maybe isn’t the right word.

        But here is where I probably differ. From Pink Slip on, the show simply wasn’t the same. It didn’t deliver the moments that made your heart soar… or break. It didn’t make your jaw drop. It didn’t inspire you to write fanfiction to tell the story you were frustrated they wouldn’t tell. Season 1 and 2 were all of those things. It became a shell of its former great self. Still good, but no longer great. I hear that same refrain from tons of people. And I think the ratings bear that out.

        Could they (meaning CF) have done something after wt/wt expired to replace it with another engaging story and keep that greatness? We’ll never know… because they didn’t try.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the show remained great. I even agree great and lasting damage was done by S3, but I think they got their mojo back and created a brilliant product. S3 remains a huge gaping wound, it always will be. But a clear majority of visitors to this site, as well as the casual viewers I know enjoyed it to the end. And yes I know a sizable number did not. But I did, and I know all of us who write for this blog did too.

        I just want to be clear on that because I think we’ve maybe crossed a line here sometimes from criticism to bashing. I am openly critical of many decisions made on the show, but bottom line is, I loved it to the end.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, I’m with Dave is on S4 and S5, like he said.

        But I do want to say something about the Bryce clone theory. Chuck did not become Bryce. Never once, not for a fleeting millisecond, did I look at the TV and think, “Well, look at Chuck; he turned out just like Bryce.” Makes me cringe to think about it. Just because Chuck became a spy, doesn’t mean he became Bryce. Just because Chuck and Sarah worked great together as a spy couple doesn’t mean they became Sarah and Bryce. *shudder* That’s like saying a Ferrari and a Fiat are the same because, look, they both have four wheels and a transmission. Chuck remained Chuck, a better man than Bryce (like Ellie said, “Ugh, I just don’t see how any girl could choose Bryce over Chuck“). And Chuck and Sarah became something that Sarah and Bryce never were or ever could have been. To reduce the show to a template and the characters to types seems a little unfair to the show, the writers, and the actors.

      • Jason says:

        Thinkling, you’re so right about Chuck vs Bryce, one of the most memorable lines in Chuck (for me) was ‘You’re still my Chuck’. Shaw was Bryce, Chuck was Chuck. It’s probably why the writers worked hard to keep him kind of clueless off and on the last two seasons, to show he still was Chuck.

        Funny, if I had to quote 4 more lines from the show, they would also be Sarah lines, ‘I appreciated the tank.’, ‘Anyone else want to be my b/f?’, ‘Shut up and kiss me.’ and the last words spoken on air, ‘Chuck, kiss me.’

        I’ll bet I’m missing a couple of dozen dozens.

      • uplink2 says:

        You know Bill we agree on the vast majority of things about this show. I think we saw it very much the same and were captivate by many of the same things. But I do disagree with you about one thing. I think that season 3 was a HUGE inspiration to write FF. I know it was absolutely the reason I started reading it and eventually started writing it. I know I’ve read about a number of great authors who left because of it. I will always love Arathorn’s great the Abomination that was season 3 rant. One of my favorites. But it inspired a HUGE amount if “fixit fics”. The very first fic I ever read was Parting Gifts because it was a fantastic attempt to fix what I absolutely consider a true abomination, Fake Name and the name reveal. That ultimately lead me to stories like Themselves and many other “fix season 3” fics. That was how I got started writing myself, to tell what I considered a far superior season 3 storyline based on keeping them apart but not because of pointless OLI’s but a real spy mission of Chuck training to become a spy.

        I’ve also seen many a new author start writing because of their hatred for season 3 and the Shaw character in particular. I mean JT has a whole catalog of Shaw snuff fics lol. The more horrible and painful a death the better.

        I know I was a latecomer to this community but for me about the only good thing to come out of that disaster of season 3 was some really well done fics. Stories I would much rather have seen than the misery and crap we were given.

        But it is funny that season 4, my favorite, doesn’t generate anywhere near as many fics as the first 3. There are virtually almost none from season 5 except for finale fixes and aftermaths. I don’t think there is a single one about Morgansect.

        Season 1 and 2 really grew that part of the fandom but season 3 was a big catalyst for fics and writers alike. Almost anything would have been better than what was actually on screen for me at least and I think a very large portion of the fanbase as well. But the downside to season 3 and FF is that it seemed to end many of the darker more angsty fics like Lee Can’s and moo’s work. Folks weren’t really interested in misery, even misery that was well executed as the poorly contrived nature of season 3 misery took away that element for many writers to explore.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink I think you’re exactly right about S3 as a major catalyst for fan fiction. The finale was another. Interesting observation though about the angst fics. I think what was happening on screen may have killed all interest in that sort of story. Or at least they all seemed redundant.

        We see the same reaction at this site. S3 and the finale generate huge amounts of traffic. While the episodes/arcs that fans generally liked better generate much less comment and traffic.

      • atcDave says:

        I also want to come back to the Bryce comment for just a second though. Although saying Chuck became like Bryce may be overselling it, I do see how it diminished something by Chuck having to achieve professional success before he could have Sarah. As viewers, we are privy to enough of Sarah’s thoughts to know that was never what she was worried about. But it sure presented an unappealing picture that she waited until AFTER Chuck had the appearance of success before she was willing to be with him.
        For me, it does diminish the romance that had been so compelling in the first two seasons. Don’t get me wrong, its not a huge thing; but it is part of what disappoints me about the way the story played out.

      • thinkling says:

        Chuck having to achieve professional success before he could have Sarah.

        When vs Why.

        See, I think this is exactly what did not happen. Chuck could have had Sarah after the reception, had his dad not interrupted. He could have had Sarah in Prague. She proposed. He said yes; then he said no, said he wanted to become a spy. And that’s precisely when he lost Sarah — when he chose the spy life over her.

        Throughout the arc that shall not be named, the more he progressed toward spy, the farther he got from Sarah. Only after he proved to her that he was still her Chuck (not Bryce) and offered to give up the spy life for her did she decide to be with him. She didn’t pack up to go to Italy with him (be a spy with him). She packed up to run away from the spy life with him (I want to spend the rest of my life with you away from this spy life …). Spy stuff intervened, and after that she still said I do to quitting the spy life with him. Professional success had nothing to do with it, quite the opposite.

        The whole point was that, even though Chuck became a spy, he didn’t become Bryce (or nothing but a spy), and that’s why he had Sarah.

        So yeah, according to the timeline, he achieved professional success before he was with Sarah. But merit wise, the opposite is true. Chuck got Sarah without professional success and without the Intersect. He lost her when he chose the spy life over her. Then he got her back when he proved he was still Chuck and chose her over the spy life (undoing Prague).

        The point was stated and shown over and over again throughout the series that Chuck was Chuck, not like other spies, and that’s why Sarah was with him.

        We can discuss the merits of the 2.0 and whether it robbed Chuck of his appeal or relatability. But they grew Chuck into a spy to progress the show, not to win him Sarah.

        As I look at this, I think we may be arguing apples and oranges. You are discussing the when, and I am arguing the why. To me the why is so much more important in this case.

      • Jason says:

        Thinkling I agree – I’ve said several times, Chuck didn’t win Sarah because he became a spy, he won Sarah in spite of becoming a spy, hence the line, “You’re still my Chuck.”

        I sometimes cringe in s4/s5 when Chuck acts uncool, but I suspect that’s the writers way to make sure we know that uncool Chuck still makes Sarah ‘hot’!

      • thinkling says:

        Jason, I think you’re right. The (sometimes) regression to whiny Chuck (for lack of a better term) was part of their showing that Chuck was still Chuck, and the one Sarah loved. I think they sometimes struggled with how to write Chuck as a competant spy who was still the lovable nerd / regular guy. Hence the occasional backslide toward whine.

        In that regard, they wrote Chuck best, probably, in late S4 and S5. Of course, in S5, ironically, he didn’t have the Intersect. From the last upload (in Leftovers), the Intersect became more like training wheels that finally came off in Cliff Hanger. Then in S5, Chuck wobbled once or twice, but after that, he was probably the Chuck we always hoped he would be.

        So, it all kind of circles back to the merits of the 2.0 and if it would have been more appealing to do spy-Chuck a little differently.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes I was complaining purely about the “when” of it. I actually have no problems with the why, well apart from well documented S3 gripes.

        I actually like S5 Chuck (with no Intersect) most of all. Well apart from the excessive whining on occasion. But the idea of the set up is nearly ideal; with Chuck having received more thorough training, mainly from Sarah, and that they spent time emphasizing him as a planner and computer genius. It makes me wish they’d skipped the 2.0 entirely. But that’s a fairly minor beef, S4 was certainly a lot of fun just as it was.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave. Somewhere into that last comment, it dawned on me that we were looking at it from two different perspectives. So, even thought the cause and effect was pretty clear, the timeline sucked some of the fun and romance out of it for you … well that and a lot of other stuff in the black box.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It was never professional success that Chuck needed to achieve, it was personal growth from the self-loathing slacker to a confident man who felt himself Sarah’s equal and deserving of her love and devotion. The disconnect was that Sarah already considered him more than worthy (if anything she doubted her worthiness) whereas Chuck didn’t and needed to find that confidence somehow.

        The guy that I was back then hated himself for not knowing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life or who he wanted to spend it with, but now? Finally, now… I know.

        As for Chuck versus Bryce I always saw Bryce as a lesser version of the fully realized Chuck. He had many of Chuck’s qualities in lesser ways, but lacked Chuck’s commitment to not allow the spy world and it’s rules compromise who he was or how he treated others. He prepared Sarah for the real deal even if he wasn’t it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thinkling, you make some very solid points but I will quibble with you on one big point. In Hero, Chuck in the “fancy eloquent version of this speech” FIRST says that

        “Now, finally now, I know what I want. I want to be a spy and I want to be with you” He puts spy first. Whether that is just a convenience of writing and speaking or not I don’t know but he clearly states he wants to be a spy but with her.

        then like 15 minutes of screen time later in the “blunt and honest version” he says:

        “I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, away from everyone else and away from this spy life.” He is even giving up Ellie, Morgan and Awesome in that version.

        Well which is it? What does he really want? And which is she responding to? Both of those versions are in opposition to each other other than he wants her. Is it simply horrible writing? Or is it something else?

        I agree with the when vs. why argument but that is another example of the sloppy writing and manipulative nature of the whole debacle of S3. I think we would all agree that they changed the narrative of the show dramatically in Pink Slip. How successful that was is still the biggest point of contention and argument in the fanbase almost 4 years later. But the fact is Sarah didn’t sleep with Chuck till after he got his badge. We can discuss whether it was because he became Bryce or the anti-Bryce. but the reality is I think that to Bill’s point, in this show the everyman version of Chuck didn’t get the girl, the spy who was still “her Chuck” did. I know its not a major point of contention other than it just proves how sloppy they could be, especially once Fedak took over control.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well which is it? What does he really want? And which is she responding to? Both of those versions are in opposition to each other other than he wants her. Is it simply horrible writing? Or is it something else?

        They are only in opposition if nothing happened in between. In the first Chuck wanted Sarah to come with him to Rome. By the time he said the second he’d seen what the spy-life could cost them, and almost did, and decided she was more important.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, what does happen in between? He talks to Ellie about not going far enough and then its only that Shaw makes an absolutely stupid and horrible decision as a spy to paint a target on his back to call in an airstrike on a target he knew absolutely nothing about. He had no intel, He had no plan other than it is all based on him having a tracker that even the lousy spies of the Ring would of course test him for. Shaw made some of the dumbest decisions any spy on the show ever made, based entirely on a quest for vengeance that he told Sarah he was doing. There was no cost of the spy life there. It was the cost of vengeance and terrible decision making by the worst spy ever on the show. At no point does Chuck show absolutely any concern about the spy life costing him anything between the restaurant and Castle. He simply did what he did because he was protecting Sarah, nothing more. I think you are injecting a justification that simply isn’t there. It’s sloppy and inconsistent writing to create contrived drama and tension.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Alright, not strictly in between, but the cumulative effect of Sarah ordering him to kill someone, and not trusting or believing him, of him having to keep secrets from her to her nearly going on a suicide mission with Shaw to him having to lock her up to protect her to Ellie telling him that if Sarah is worth having then no sacrifice is too great. He simply reaches the conclusion that being a spy is only worthwhile if he can be a spy with Sarah and it appears that being a spy will be a deal breaker, so he puts Sarah first. It’s not too complicated, they’re still solving it in Honeymooners when they say it out loud in the cafe scenes with Morgan and Casey.

        I somehow doubt you’ll be convinced so I’ll leave it at that.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I somehow doubt you’ll be convinced so I’ll leave it at that.

        Ernie, With all due respect, You’ve ended with a similar statement several times in this post and it is an unfair argument. It’s you making your point, then attempting to end the discussion, preempting any rebuttal. It’s a passive aggressive technique to infer that whatever pov that is counter to yours is simply small minded and stubborn.

        I don’t mind (and I’m pretty sure neither does Uplink, lol) having this debate with you. I’m willing to consider your argument. But I get to point out where I think it is flawed. Just as you get to point out where you think my argument is flawed. That’s what honest, respectful discussion is all about. If we agreed on every point, why even have a discussion?

        So, nobody has answered my question about Final Exam. Didn’t Chuck and Sarah both agree that if they had any hope to be together, that Chuck would have to complete his red test and become a spy?

        How is that the everyman getting the girl? How is he supposed to come to any other conclusion? How are we?

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think Shaw IS what happened in between. Shaw put his vengeance and his mission ahead of Sarah. Really pointedly and to her face, he told her she wasn’t was important as his vengeance.
        So Chuck draws a contrast. He may not have worked out the exact priority on how important being a spy is yet (that will remain open to negotiation until the end of the series), but he HAS decided Sarah is MORE important than the job. That proves he is markedly different than Shaw (Intelligence, competence and likability issues aside…).

      • uplink2 says:

        See this is where it all falls apart. The entire arc since Prague. In the fancy eloquent version Chuck is totally convincing and determined that he wants to be a spy and he wants to be with her. All of what you say happened has already happened and Chuck is there, strong, determined and as you put earlier no longer the loser and underachiever he was before. That is what this supposed spy story since Prague was all about. This is the man that made that decision and wants to be something better, better with her. But then they get interrupted again and Sarah never really gets the answer to what she asked him. After that he speaks to Ellie who tells him to his surprise he didn’t go far enough. Then Shaw shows what an absolutely horrible spy he is and Chuck risks his life to save the idiot and his partner because he thought Sarah cared about him and he didn’t want Sarah to be killed as well. Chuck is willing to sacrifice himself for another unlike Shaw who makes an incredibly stupid decision and sacrifices himself for nothing other than vengeance. Chuck becomes the true hero he always was in Sarah’s eyes. Yet they keep pounding down our throats that Shaw is a great spy and a “true American Hero”.

        But where in that story does something happen that makes Chuck change his mind about becoming a spy WITH her? Where did that determined and confident guy in the restaurant go? Why is that decision to run away the right one and Sarah’s wasn’t? What makes him willing to give up his home, his friends and his family this time? I just don’t see anything in the story being told from point A to point B that justifies that total flip flop except for inconsistent writing. It’s all about the dramatic moment and the continuity of the story doesn’t matter. Which version of Chuck’s plans did Sarah respond to or want? Honeymooners does address that but Hero is such a badly executed episode where the big lie of Shaw, beyond just his turning evil, is so incredibly exposed that the rest of the story falls apart. The heroes moment is what mattered no matter how little sense the rest of the story made.

      • thinkling says:

        Well to me it was always obvious that she was responding to the blunt and honest speech where he finally told her he loved her (4 times).

        What happened between fancy and blunt? Well, he had done everything to convince her that they could be spies together. Wasn’t that the plan? (Somebody didn’t get the memo. There was a lot of that going around.) But none of his efforts worked. His last best effort, all dressed up and fancy and eloquent, was a bust.

        Failure happened. Then Ellie happened. She told him he didn’t go far enough.

        So how much farther can he go? All the way. He can give up everything for Sarah. He can go back to where it all went wrong, to the point where he lost her … He can go back and give her what she asked for: to hop a train and run away together. Because she – is – the – most – important – thing. And he tells/shows her that in a way that NOBODY ever has. Nobody has ever given up his dream for her.

        In the first speech, he told her he wanted everything, and she was part of that. In the second speech, he told her she WAS everything. Which speech would most women respond to? Oh, oh (Thinkling raises her hand) since I’m a woman, I’ll answer that. … The second one.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink you’re worrying about it all WAY to much. S3 is just stupid; it’s ill-conceived, OOC and a completely circular journey. But the show before and after flows pretty well. Just dump S3 (3.01-3.12) from your thinking and the rest presents few problems. Only the bulk of S3 confuses the priorities like that. Otherwise, Chuck consistently treats spy work (both with and without the government) and Sarah as both important, but Sarah is first.

        Really, S3 is just not worthy of this much angst. Many fans (including you) have written better versions of the story, just pick one of them.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, well put. CF has a habit of book-ending things like this. The good one that doesn’t quite work, then the great one that does. I like to compare Chuck’s two pleas to Sarah in Chuck Versus The Goodbye. The first in the house Chuck is focused on his loss and what he wants (similar to I want to be a spy and I want to be with you). It amounts to please remember you love me/please love me again. The second on the beach focuses on him wanting to give her something with little thought for his needs or desires (similar to we’re perfect for each other, and I want to devote my life to making you happy). It is essentially let me love you/let yourself be loved. I never really put this one together as a similar bookend-ed proposal.

      • uplink2 says:

        A couple of things. The issue for Sarah was two-fold. Of course she knew Chuck loved her, his half-hearted apology in Final Exam plus everythihng else that happened should have told her that. But I agree hearing those words mattered. But the issue was still, had Chuck changed? Was he still the guy she fell for? It took his act of selfless heroism for her to realize, with confirmation from Casey, that he hadn’t changed for her to decide to leave with him. It wasn’t him running, it was him. The idea of not going far enough was to sacrifice himself for her and have him really tell her honestly, face to face that he loved her. I don’t think anything about him being wanting to run came into her decision at all. It was he was still the guy she fell for. Nothing else mattered to her. Spy life or running life, as long as it was with “my Chuck.” That is why I don’t get the flip flip.

        Dave, though I see what you are saying the fact remains that there are folks here who continue to believe it does matter, did make sense, and was important. I’m trying to find out how and why because it simply doesn’t on so many levels for me. Shaw was without a doubt shown to be the worst spy there ever was on the show and yet the story they are telling requires you to accept the Shaw worship of being better than Sarah or Casey or even James bond for that matter. “The perfect spy, true American hero type”. Yet no one except Morgan freakin Grimes sees through him. Beckman, Sarah, Chuck and Casey all are made subservient to him without being deserved or any justification. And yet somehow if we are to see this story as necessary and important, I have to become as stupid as all the rest and believe his story made sense and was shown as conceived. I can’t do that. The story in Fedak ans Schwartz’s head never got on the screen and what did is so muddied by the unnecessary and dismal failure of the OLI’s. So I have to try and make some sense of the parts outside that and I can’t no matter what others here see. It’s very frustrating but I can’t just let it go.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink you really need to let to let it go. You and I will never like S3, it just doesn’t work for us and it never will. There is no issue of understanding or getting it, it simply doesn’t work. Those who like it feel differently, and will never have a “oh wow, that was totally stupid” sort of moment any more than you or I will ever say “I get it now, it was genius”. We’ve been wrestling with it now for three and a half years. And I don’t ever mean to say quit talking about it or anything; but at this point it’s pretty clear neither the pro nor con side will ever convince the other of anything.
        So I say let it go not in the accepting S3 sense of it; but just in terms of dropping the fight.

        To me it’s just like pounding on my thumb with a hammer, and someone trying to make it better by explaining the physics and medical aspects of the damage done. That explanation can never be adequate because the problem is purely that I don’t like my thumb being hammered on. The discussion can only be pointless. To me it’s obvious to say I shouldn’t have done that and I never should do it again. While to them it’s just as obvious that the observed result should be explained.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I wasn’t going to post anymore, but i can’t just let this pass. Why is it Uplink who has to let it go?

        All he is doing to countering the arguments of the apologists. I agree with him.

        And I’ll answer my own question. Because Uplink is being critical of the show. Nothing more complex than that. It’s Emperor’s New Clothes type hypocrisy. .

        The rules here seem to be that if you’re critical in any way, you’re either taking the show too seriously, or you just have to let it go. But if you’re praising the show, you can make any wild inference you want.

        If we all aggree that S3 was bad, lousy, and sloppy, them why are so many defending it? And okay, defend it if you want. But then defenf it. And beinng intellectually honest means defending your pov against the opposing pov.

        If you can defend S3, go for it. But don’t ask me to not respond to your arguments when I think they’re flawed. That’s what discussion is for.

      • BillAtWork says:

        And Thinkling. While I’m already pissed, explain to me what Final Exam told us. Chcuk told Sarah that the only way for them to be together was to pass his red test and become a spy. Sarah agreed… or at the very least she didn’t correct him. Then she used that fact against him… and snuggled up to the guy who manipulated her into putting him into that no win situation.

        Where does that fit in with the argument?

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand women all that well. So I’d like a little help here. From my POV, Chuck was clearly willing to make a huge sacrifice to be with Sarah. He was willing to try and kill someone so that he could be with her. And he told her exactly that. I think that’s pretty romantic. Yet she judged him harshly for it. And again from my POV, when he couldn’t do it, it meant that he wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice for her. Something of a turn off. Yet Sarah saw both of those events exactly the opposite from what I would think. If someone could explain that to me, I’d… well, I’d listen, lol.

        But on the argument of if the everyman got the girl or the spy, isn’t Final Exam definitive? Didn’t they both agree that the only way for them to be together was for Chuck to become a spy?

        And while I’m ranting on women, can someone explain to me why Sarah never told Chuck that she was on her way to meet him? Isn’t that a natural thing to say instead of ‘I appreciate the tank’? Is it cynical to say it was only to set up the angst for the DYLM scene?

        Or should I let that go?

      • thinkling says:

        Uplink, you’re bouncing back and forth between Chuck and Sarah and trying to explain Chuck’s actions with Sarah’s thoughts and feelings. Chuck didn’t know what Sarah was thinking. He responded to the external evidence — what she did and what she said — with one guiding epiphany. “It finally clicked for me. Sarah is the most important thing.”

        You asked which was it. What did Chuck really want? And what happened to change his mind between the fancy and blunt speeches?

        First of all Chuck didn’t really change what he wanted. Sarah was the most important thing, and that didn’t change.

        So, plan A, win her back in time for her to go to Italy with him, failed. She didn’t say yes. That was a fail.

        Then you have Ellie’s speech. Like I said before, it pushed him to go farther. Give up everything for Sarah.

        Did he then not want to be a spy. No, he didn’t not want to be a spy, but he wanted Sarah more. He didn’t want to be anything without Sarah. She was the most important thing. That part didn’t change. He just adjusted his plan to accommodate what he thought she wanted, based on her actions/words. (She had just told him she couldn’t be with spy him.)

        So, not knowing what Sarah was thinking or why, he could only go back to where things went wrong and offer her what she asked for: to run away together. This is the last thing to try, his hail Mary, and it’s fourth and long, with the clock running down.

        Now, for Sarah’s part, she needed Chuck to still be her Chuck. Granted. So, after he proved he was still her Chuck by rescuing Shaw, would she have said yes to the fancy speed that included Italy? I don’t know. I think it would still have been a tough sell. I think part of how Chuck showed her he was still Chuck was in the act of giving up everything he had just achieved, for her.

        So, what does she want? Does she want to run away? That’s not the point, just as whether Chuck wanted to be a spy or not wasn’t the point. Is she saying yes to running away? Only by extension. She’s saying yes to a life with the man who has proved he’s still the guy she fell for, first with one brave, selfless act and then with an act of absolute, unconditional love. For that man she’ll toss her gun on the bed (give up the only life she’s known) and go with him, even without knowing the particulars.

        So, as we discover on the train ride and in an out-of-the-way Swiss café, whatever else they want, they want each other more, and they are willing to subjugate all other desires to that main desire.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill you’re drawing inferences that are not correct. And I’m sorry if I was too short and allowed for such an impression.
        But what I was suggesting he let go is butting heads with the same people, and the same arguments that we have been going around with for over three years.

        And you know better than suggesting no criticism of the show is allowed at this site. We’ve all done it, I’ve done it, more times than can be counted. Criticism will always be a part of this discussion.
        But you have to realize the foundation of this site is a love of the show Chuck. It is often a fine line between criticism and hostility; but keeping on the healthy criticism part of that line is absolutely a part of our agenda. No commenter will ever be told they can’t criticize, suggest alternatives, complain or nitpick. But when we start to cross that line into dislike of the product, well I have to wonder what we’re even doing here.
        None of us want this site to become a hostile negative environment. We want to celebrate our favorite show, warts and all. Everyone is welcome to participate; Bill you in particular have contributed a great deal to both the discussion here and the fandom in general, you really are always welcome. But you know our agenda, it’s at the top, right of the page. We, the authors here, think the show is great, and exist to celebrate that opinion with other fans.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Dave, Point well taken. But if two sides are butting heads, why is it only one side who has to stop?

        And I reject the notion that Joe or Ernie or you or Thinkling… or anybody when it comes right down to it loves this show any more than I do. I’ve devoted a large part of my life to it. Here I am posting on a Chuck forum 20 months after the show has been off the air. I’m not sure that is even totally healthy.

        But having said all that, I believe the show had serious flaws, that it could have been even better, that it could still be on the air. I’ve pointed out those flaws several times. I’m actually just as tired of the conversation as you are. Yet each time I’m ready to let it go, I read some argument that I’m wrong about the flaws, that what I’m calling flaws is really brilliance, I’m just too small to see it. I hope that you don’t expect me to just let that ride, to let the deception that’s told enough times become the truth. Sorry, that’s not in my nature.

        It seems that almost any statement one make that could even be inferred as a criticism gets instantly rebutted. Some of that discussion strikes me as silly. Much of what gets defended strikes me as indefensible. If anyone thinks that Chris Fedak wrote the romance well or that it was a priority to him, well okay. But you have to admit there is an opposing view, a rational, well thought out opposing view complete with explanation and examples. Defend that if you think you must. But don’t ask me to roll over on it. It’s intellectually dishonest.

      • Jason says:

        Bill – From my POV, your post reminds me of a story told on the west wing by Leo McGarrity to Josh (courtesy of http://westwing.bewarne.com/queries/story.html ).

        “This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
        “A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
        “Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
        “Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

        I think, in my opinion, several of us know how painful it is / was to be a fan of Chuck during s3, I / we are just trying to help!

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok I’m going to take one more stab at something that has been mentioned a couple in this discussion that I challenge. I don’t get where Chuck goes back to wanting to run. Sarah clearly stated that she was going to DC and she was going with Shaw. When he asks her again to go to Rome, she says I can’t and you know why. He isn’t the man she fell for. She asks about what really happened and he tells her he needs this one lie. Then he gives his speech and she asks a very important question that to me at least can not be interpreted as wanting to run instead even to a clueless Chuck. She asks him “What are you saying, Chuck”? What she is obviously searching for is the “I love you”. That is what she was asking about. How he could get that he needed to ask her to run from that scene in the restaurant simply doesn’t work for me.

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting observation Uplink. I would agree the ILY part was more important to her than the running away part was. I think the subsequent story verifies that.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, sorry, no disrespect intended. It’s just that I have no interest in this debate anymore. I’m happy to explain from my POV why I don’t see a problem where you do, but I have been through this enough times to know I won’t be changing your mind. At that point I see no point in taking things further, so I prefer to make my point and let it stand on it’s merits. You are welcome to rebut to your heart’s content and I’ll let you and the other posters and readers decide if I’ve been rebutted.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Ernie, I promise that I’m not trying to make this personal. I’m not.

        But your statement frustrates the hell out of me. I don’t even get your point. You do follow up. You do rebut the rebuttal. You just always end it with “I’ll leave it at that.” But you don’t ever leave it at that. 🙂

        In fact in my mind, it’s mostly you that is keeping this discussion going. Whenever anything that can be taken as the slightest criticism is posted, you immediately respond to defend it. It’s almost Pavlovian.

        I didn’t think it was even a controversial statement to say that the relationship wasn’t a priority to Chris Fedak and that he didn’t write it particularly well. It wasn’t even really a criticism. I think Josh Schwartz himself said something very similar in an interview. It was a minor point and was going to end there. Yet you felt the need to jump to his defense. And, okay, if you really want to have that debate, if you really think that Fedak made the relationship a priority in his episodes, and was really good at it, well, okay, defend that POV. But certainly, I get to point out what I feel are the flaws in your logic, right?

      • joe says:

        So, nobody has answered my question about Final Exam. Didn’t Chuck and Sarah both agree that if they had any hope to be together, that Chuck would have to complete his red test and become a spy?

        Yeah, Bill. It’s exasperating. For both sides of this particular discussion.

        The answer to your question is “no”. Plain and simple, they did not agree that Chuck would have to complete his red test and become a spy if they were to be together. The fans may have been led to think so, but as the approached that agreement, they also realized that Sarah would not be with him, because “he” would no longer be “Chuck.”

        I know that you will point to dialog that said they agreed, but they did not. It was left to the audience to see, not that someone was being deceiving, but that this was a very zen-like koan.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Joe.

        At a minimum I think that even you have to agree that Chuck came away from that discussion thinking that they had agreed. He was deciding what to do. And he clearly thought that to get the girl, he would have to stop being the everyman and become the spy. It tipped the scales in his decision. Sarah just as clearly allowed him to think that.

        For this discussion, isn’t that the only point that matters?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, I responded to Thinkling who put some stuff into a context I hadn’t considered before. And speaking of not allowing for rebuttal: “I didn’t think it was even a controversial statement to say that the relationship wasn’t a priority to Chris Fedak and that he didn’t write it particularly well.”

        I didn’t see it that way. Sorry. He’s spoken about it at length in interviews, I do him the simple courtesy of taking him at his word. The fact that he didn’t write it or care about it the way you’d prefer doesn’t mean he didn’t like it or care about it in his way.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Ernie. If you think that the love story was a priority in Fedak written episodes, let’s have that debate.

        I think I’m going to win a split decision on points.

        3D came after arguably the most overtly romantic episode of the series. Chuck gives Sarah a family heirloom. “Chuck, I can’t take this. This is something real. Something that you should give to a read girlfriend.” “I know.” It was as close to an ILY moment as we got before Colonel. 3D was a yawn from a Charah pov. And actually it was pretty much a yawn from almost any pov. Tragically it was after the super bowl and a couple of extra million tuned in to see it. They didn’t stay.

        Cliffhanger was the climax of the story they had been building towards all season. No, not the fancy motorcycle. Not only did Sarah spend the entire episode in a coma, the motorcycle got more screen time than the wedding. The wedding seemed to be afterthought to me. The real story of that episode was Chuck being the hero and saving the damsel in distress.

        First Class… well enough said. Depending on what day you asked me, my worst episode of the series. Not a single Charah moment. It was anti Charah. Chuck was a jerk.

        Pink Slip… well, again, enough said. If First Class isn’t the worst episode, then Pink Slip was (actually that’s hyperbole, lol. Bo is the total worst). Again a couple million extra tuned in to see it. They didn’t stay long.

        Okay, Ernie, you’re up.

      • thinkling says:

        Bill, wow. Where did I put my asbestos hoodie? I was responding to what Uplink phrased as an honest question about a limited sequence in American Hero. So I gave my explanation of what I thought was going on during that episode. That’s it.

        I don’t like S3, though I have tried to understand it. But I am not an apologist for S3, and I wasn’t defending it. I didn’t delve into any other aspect of S3, nor do I want to. I’m the one who put S3 in a black box, and I pretty much leave it there. American Hero is near the end, so I don’t mind taking a peak. Otherwise, I think I’ll pass.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Thinkling,

        No need for asbestos. I’m sorry if I sounded harsh (well I’m not totally sorry) but it wasn’t directed at you. For the record, I don’t think of you as an apologist. I actually enjoy your arguments. They are well thought out and fair.

        But I am interested in the woman’s view here. Chuck was willing to go against his nature and try to kill someone. And for one reason. So that they could be together. Seriously, isn’t that romantic?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Bill, as I said, I’ve been through this. Was the love story the entirety of Chuck to CF the way it was to some fans? No. Were there some execution problems? Yes. Did it take a direction very unpopular with some fans? Yes. Was it an important component of the show to Chris Fedak? He has said so, much of the later seasons demonstrate it was, so I take him at his word. The fact that his take on it didn’t align with some fans does not make that go away. You didn’t like it. That’s enough, you don’t have to prove it unlikable and irredeemably flawed. Chris Fedak does not have to be an incompetent idiot for you not to like it. The writers do not have to be mindless monkeys randomly banging out incoherent messes for you not to like it. Let the fact that you didn’t like it be enough for you and let me continue to like it without having to justify that to you.

        Have we been through this same argument on this blog continuously for the last 3 years? Yes.

        Why do I occasionally chime in despite my exhaustion? Because of the last 1,000 comments 547 have been made by 4 posters with largely the same POV. Among the top posters opposing that POV, 180 comments. This has become an echo chamber and I hope to occasionally note that there is an opposing POV that sees things differently, but it inevitably causes exactly what is happening now.

        That is why I prefer to leave it there.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Wel Erniel, once again you ended a post that didn’t leave it there with a statement to leave it there. 🙂

        And the idea that Fedak didn’t make the love story a priority has very little to do with S3. I don’t think that he was even the architect of S3. I think that Schwartz was. Half the episodes I referenced weren’t even from S3.

        And who said that Chris Fedak was an incompetent idiot? I sure didn’t. Do I think that he was over his head as a show runner? Yes, I do. I’d tell him so to his face. In total fairness, what experience did he have to be a show runner? How could one reasonably expect him to be good at it? Do I think that the show that I love every bit as much as you do sometimes suffered for it? Yes, I do. Do I wish they had told a better, more congruent story? Yes, I do.

        When you use terms like ‘mindless monkeys” it is very telling. That’s what even the slightest criticism sounds like to you, lol. But nobody ever used terms like idiot or mindless monkeys. If anyone did, I’d be the first to jump in to defend them. In fact I’ve often defended him. He had a tough job with no experience to help him.

        You’re the numbers guy. Since the Fedak episodes were mostly the season premiers and climatic endings, you would expect them to rate at the very top of the favorites list. Do they? Where is 3D? Where is First Class? Where is Pink Slip? Am I alone in not liking them?

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill and Ernie, I have never said Fedak was an incompetent idiot. I leave that criticism to the character he worships so highly, Daniel Shaw. Shaw is an incompetent idiot and those that were touched by him especially Sarah, were severely damaged by any connection to that disaster of writing and casting. Where for me Fedak gets into trouble is when he continually tried to hide behind the big lie about Shaw that he was something other than the fraud and show killer he was actually shown to be for me and a very large part of the audience. He continued to hide behind that lie all the way till the end and then almost threw Routh under the bus instead. Telling a critic you didn’t know how to write for an actor until you completely changed the character you had previously written isn’t a ringing endorsement of the actor. Also when you try to be kind you talk about the profile he brought, not the talent. Again that’s blaming the actor and not the disastrous story and character you wrote. Shaw/Routh brought nothing to the show on a positive level till they made him an adequate villain, the limited and narrow type of character that a weak actor like Routh can play. But I don’t think even the biggest season 3 apologist would ever say Season 3.0 Shaw was a success on any level. Yet Fedak still defended that failure and it made him look pretty damn out of touch with what’s on screen.

        I do agree he and I didn’t see the same show in the least. That is part of the reasons I have trouble with his work. He didn’t understand the magic I saw or at least didn’t know how to write to it. The biggest opportunities to grow the audience of this show in later years were placed into his hands and in my mind he didn’t deliver either time. 3D is the weakest episode of season 2 to me and you know how much I hate Pink Slip, the third worst episode of the entire 91 and when it aired it was the absolute worst. It only moved up 2 spots when even bigger disasters came later on. That shows 2 big problems, problems as a writer and problems as a showrunner. Could you imagine an episode like Honeymooners airing Jan 10th 2010 with Chuck and Sarah on the run with the entire CIA and NSA on their heels?

        We don’t have to get into how badly he damaged things even more when he did interviews. That goes to Bill’s point about him being over his head as a showrunner and I completely agree. But he was given it because Schwartz wanted to move on to other series and his total flop of a movie.

        He created some great characters and struck diamonds when he cast Zac and Yvonne. Too bad he didn’t really see what his audience saw as time went on.

      • thinkling says:

        In response to Bill’s question: But I am interested in the woman’s view here. Chuck was willing to go against his nature and try to kill someone. And for one reason. So that they could be together. Seriously, isn’t that romantic?

        I’m going to try to answer that without getting hopelessly bogged down in the larger problems of S3.

        Silly answer: Alexei Volkoff certainly thought so. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

        Short answer: Uhhh … no.

        Longer explanation, looking at this in a limited fashion and hoping to avoid some of the thornier parts of S3:

        First, I don’t think that Sarah knows that Chuck is doing this just to be with her. (And I’m not sure he is, either.) He did make it clear he wanted to be a spy, and he’s really jazzed honk honk. Plus she can’t have forgotten that he chose being a spy over a life with her. Women don’t usually forget that kind of thing. (After I watched PS for the first time, I thought What the … people just don’t recover from that.) And now, just so you know, Bill, you got pay back, because you made me rewatch snippets of Final Exam. Grrr.

        Ground work: Sarah was clear that she didn’t want Chuck to change: If you do this you won’t be the same person. … Don’t lose that guy I met at the Buymore. But Chuck didn’t have the context to begin to imagine what she was talking about … or how deeply personal it was for her. (neither did we until way too late — terrible exposition) And so it went for the whole season. The great guy, the lovable nerd, the guy she wanted to be a real person with, was losing himself, becoming nothing but a spy (Bryce). And, worse, it was her fault, because in 3W he tells her he’s doing this noble thing for his friends and his family and her.

        Back to Final Exam. Early in the day, Chuck drops by the OO to gloat a little and share his joy with the woman he wants to be a spy with. He is living his dream, which is quickly becoming Sarah’s worst nightmare, especially after she is tasked with the odious mission of ruining him completely.

        (Shaw is a loathsome, despicable, manipulating … nope, don’t want to go there. Sarah does this horrible thing … don’t want to pick it apart too much. Rather, I’m going to give her some benefit of the doubt, acknowledging that her character suffered extensive bus-tread trauma.

        FF to dinner. Chuck is on top of the world and Sarah is under the weight of the world. Chuck thanks her for helping him realize his dream, …without you I wouldn’t even be here, which is the absolute worst thing he could say. She is crushed — barely holding it together.

        And she is trapped:

        There’re her feelings for Chuck. She doesn’t want him to do this, but it’s out of her hands. Her attempt to keep him from the spy world was rejected, and that particular train has left the station. But she lets him know that being Chuck is not a bad thing.

        There are her orders: She is an agent of the CIA, and her orders are clear, so she can’t say much. As it is, she probably says more than is strictly allowed.

        Then there’s the freedom Chuck deserves to make his own choice, and he says he wants to be a spy. He’s determined (What would I be if I’m not a spy?).

        [And I hate to do this, but I’ll touch on that conversation. Chuck says what if he’s not a spy. Sarah says he’ll be Chuck and that’s not bad (in fact in her mind it’s the best). He says then we couldn’t … And she says no, probably not. Though Sarah doesn’t say it, Chuck assumes that if he becomes a spy, they can be together (because that’s been his plan all along, but that was only his plan, one that Sarah didn’t affirm). Sarah can’t promise him anything at this point … because of orders and because Chuck must be free to choose. How about emotionally, how does that work? Well, if he throws in the towel and comes to her because he couldn’t go through with his red test, then she becomes the consolation prize or the easy way out … hardly the best way to start a relationship. So she makes him no promises, and leaves him to decide.]

        Here is where the dream and the nightmare collide. Chuck wants to be a spy, and Sarah has to be the one to let him know what that really means. She has to make it clear, open the window into the dark abyss of the spy world and leave him to choose.

        And it is killing her.

        I still don’t think Chuck picks up the gun just for Sarah. He still wants to be a spy, but the spy view just got a lot less rosy.

        So, finally to your question: it’s the perfect catch 22 isn’t it? Is it romantic to sacrifice yourself for the one you love? Yes, as long as you’re not sacrificing your character or moral essence. Then the romantic gesture becomes a tragedy, because you’re not the same person, and therefore, no longer worthy of the romance you sacrificed yourself for.

        From Sarah’s side the tragedy is even worse. The fact that Chuck would do this for her means she is responsible for dragging an innocent man into her hell, where real relationships aren’t possible.

        That seriously sucks the romance out of things.

        *Now if he were to kill someone so she wouldn’t have to, or kill someone so she wouldn’t be killed, then that has some potential for romance (hence, shut up and kiss me).

      • BillAtWork says:

        But see, I kinda see that scene a little differently.

        Would Chuck have become a spy if it meant killing someone? I think not. In fact, we know now that he ultimately couldn’t do it and would have failed. He only became a spy because Casey cheated for him. So it’s kinda a classic Fedak cop-out. He becomes a spy, yet never has to complete his red test.

        I think he was very close to chucking (little pun intended) it right then. The only reason he tried is because she made it muddy clear that meant they could never be together (I’ll admit to not knowing much about women, but in my experience probably not means no).

        So Sarah’s a smart girl, right? She has to know that he really doesn’t want to do it. She also has to know that he is really going to do it for only one reason. And she has to know what that reason is.

        I’ll defer to you saying that’s not romantic. But I still don’t get it. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I’ll give you that Sarah may know that going through with it is partly for her. But he has really played up the greatness of becoming a spy. That’s been his goal all this time. He even expresses a lostness if he doesn’t become a spy. So I think it’s a bit of a leap to assume it’s all for her, and from Sarah’s perspective I don’t think she can really know that for sure.

        And the thing is, that if she does suspect that it’s for her, then that makes it worse. Her first kill was the worst day of her life. It stole a piece of her she can’t get back. Please know that there’s no turning back. Chuck becoming a spy (like Bryce and Cole and Shaw … and her) who can kill … well, that’s bad enough. But if he does it for her? Then his lost innocence is her fault. So, not romantic at all.

        It’s interesting, though, after I posted I thought … hmm. In his pursuit of becoming a spy, Chuck romanticized the spy life. James Bond … cool. Sarah knew it for what it was. His excitement at becoming a spy was her horror.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Anyway, if it’s romantic or not, here is the real point.

        The discussion we were having was did the everyman get the girl? Or did he have to become spy? Certainly they muddled that (in a classic copy-out). Because he became a spy and still kept some of his everyman attributes.

        But here is my point. In that scene, Chuck certainly came away with the impression that in order to get the girl, he had to become Bryce. She clearly understood that she was giving him that impression. I really don’t see much wiggle room there.

        It’s also a very big dislike Sarah moment for me. She put him in a no win situation, judged him harshly, them snuggled up to the odious guy who manipulated her into putting him into that no win situation in the first place. Huh?

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Thinkling.

        Don’t you have to be careful making that argument? Because the more horrible you make the spy life to Sarah, the more it begs the question of why she didn’t get him out of it when she had the chance?

        And I agree with you. They were selling us that Sarah wanted out. In Pink Slip (BTW, thank you for making me re-watch part of it, lol) she was excited. “I get to be a real person again – with you.” At the end of American Hero, she threw her gun on the bed. And sorry, Joe. I still think that meant she was done being a spy and was going to meet Chuck and become that real person again. BTW, nobody has responded to my question of why Sarah went with Shaw 4 seconds after she threw her gun on the bed? And why isn’t the first thing she said to Chuck in Castle, “I was on my way to meet you?”

        But back on point, that makes her decision in Honeymooners all that more head scratching. If being a spy was so horrible, and I agree she thought it was. Why not take him up on it? And I can hear someone saying that she wanted Chuck to make his own decision, be all that he could be, etc. But that doesn’t work. She thought that running is what Chuck wanted. It was clear that she was only doing it for him. She expressed regret before she knew that he really didn’t want it.

        So what is being a spy anyway? Is it the horrible, sub-human existence of S3 that Sarah wanted to rescue him from? Or is it the light, fun, adventure of Honeymooners and beyond? It really can’t be both.

        And here is my probably my main criticism of the writing. Ernie, Joe, you can either cover your ears or respond, lol. Just understand that if you respond, it’s going to start up another debate. I’ll keep my criticism as mild as I can. But there are many instances where you can watch an episode and make sense of what happened. It’s when you try and reconcile that event with what happened previously, where it all breaks down.

        You can watch Ring II and believe that Orion was genuinely sending Chuck on a mission from the grave to find and save his mom, having searched for her in vain for the last 20 years. That’s believable.

        You can watch First Fight and conclude that the only possible way for Mary to have known about the PSP was for her and Orion to have had fairly contemporaneous contact. That’s believable.

        But they both can’t be true. They are mutually exclusive. And you can fanwank all you want, but you can’t make those 2 mutually exclusive events make sense.

      • joe says:

        @Thinkling

        I’ll give you that Sarah may know that going through with it is partly for her. … So I think it’s a bit of a leap to assume it’s all for her, and from Sarah’s perspective I don’t think she can really know that for sure.

        There’s something important here that’s sorta hard to express. I definitely got the idea throughout that Sarah wants Chuck to be whomever he wants and to do whatever he’s capable of doing – she just doesn’t want him to do it for her. Sarah certainly doesn’t want Chuck to kill for her, even if it’s doubly indirectly, in order to become a spy in order to impress her.

        It’s not his actions so much as his motivation that matters to her, I think.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill your last comment there is exactly why I just loath Final Exam. Its my least favorite episode of the entire series. Much as I despised Chuck in Mask and Fake Name; I just can’t stand what Sarah does in Final Exam.
        And given that the greatest strength of the show is the characters. When they become THAT broken, I simply cannot watch.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave et all. I completely agree. With that great inner turmoil in Sarah of Chuck killing someone so he can “if I pass this test then we can be together” now I know that was said before the Red Test but still, she knows it and places him in the Catch-22 moment. Then she does the unthinkable. After realizing that Chuck killed and a large part of the reason she absolutely knew was because of her, what does she do but run to the despicable creep that manipulated her into finally destroying “her Chuck” or so she thought and sleeps with him. What kind of person does that? Thinkling you got it right, the writers were driving over her and backed up three or four times to make sure they made her as unlikable as the piece of garbage she was sleeping with. The destruction of the Sarah character was complete. It in many ways ruins or at the very least diminishes the romance to an almost intolerable and definitely unwatchable level.

      • atcDave says:

        I so much love KateMcK’s version from “Chuck vs the Fight“. With Sarah conspiring to keep Chuck from killing, and totally unloading on Shaw for his manipulation. Now THAT’s how it should have gone!

      • ” It didn’t inspire you to write fanfiction to tell the story you were frustrated they wouldn’t tell. Season 1 and 2 were all of those things.” Well, I have to disagree about that. I don’t generally feel motivated to write my stories for the parts that work. I’m a fixer. My stories are intended to take something I see as broken and making them work. Season 3 was stellar. S4 is much less so, like I’m having to weave the net to keep all the holes in place.

      • joe says:

        @Bill

        I still think that meant she was done being a spy and was going to meet Chuck and become that real person again. BTW, nobody has responded to my question of why Sarah went with Shaw 4 seconds after she threw her gun on the bed?

        Uh, because she wasn’t done being a spy? Sorta, like several of us have been saying?

        “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
        Sherlock Holmes

        😉

      • BillAtWork says:

        So that means that she wasn’t on her way to meet Chuck?

        I’m afraid that’s one of those things that I was talking about that you simply can’t have both ways. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        Bill, you’re right. Things can only be made to make sense up to a point, and sometimes the puppet strings are like neon deck rope.

        Exactly how horrible was the spy life, and why did Sarah stay in it? There was a draw to the spy life,I guess. For Chuck and Sarah and Casey, I think it was a noble draw: duty, honor, doing the right thing, helping people. But it is not without cost. It deprived Sarah a normal life and being a real person. It gave her, instead, a nomadic life with revolving identities. It also squashed real love and real relationships. It’s a world of lies and deceit. And then there’s the killing thing that, even if it’s justified, robs a piece of your humanity. Stay too long and your humanity get chipped away piece by piece, if you survive that long. (Like Casey in the beginning — cold school.)

        Sarah didn’t want that for Chuck. But Chuck managed to hang on to all his real person-ness and remain Chuck. He also helped Sarah and Casey get back in touch with their more human, real side. (loved the scene in Chuck vs Sarah when Casey turns around in his apron and rubber gloves and says, “Do you really think I’ve changed?”)

        I think in some ways when Chuck was able to become a spy and still be her Chuck, he redeemed the profession. If he could be a spy and still be that “real person,” maybe she could be both with him.

        I know that only flies so far, because after selling the dark side of the spy world, TPTB sent Chuck and company back to Burbank and to the way things were, except Chuck didn’t have to stay in the car. Tey did continue to show that the darkness was there, and that you couldn’t be part of that world without running the risk of being engulfed in the darkness. Mary’s life was an example, and Volkoff, Leftovers, and Gobbler. In S5, we kept seeing the darkness getting closer. Then finally in Baby, Sarah goes back to wanting out. And they did get out, but at a tragic cost. The writers walked a fine line with that, because 1) Chuck and Sarah do normal would have been kind of boring, and 2) Chuck wasn’t just a drama, but also a romance and a comedy. It wasn’t Alias or Nikita.

        Then there are the devices and contrivances (neon deck rope), like the two you mention: Sarah going with Shaw and then not telling Chuck she was on her way to meet him. I think they just bullied the plot where they wanted it to go, to drag things (wt/wt) out for one more episode. S3 was heavily burdened with various devices to hold up wt/wt beyond its expiration date. The OLIs and red test were the most blatant. Without the OLIs, PS needn’t have been so apocalyptic. And the red test was there to create angst and keep Sarah pushing Chuck away for a few more episodes. Oh, the beauty of a good black box.

        Most attempts to make sense of things ultimately run aground. Some of it seems to be blatant plot devices. Some is probably the difficulty of writing through so many bubbles with different writers. I don’t know. I have less difficulty ignoring it than some, obviously. Think too hard about it and it fries your brain. (As we say in Brazil, don’t heat your head over it.)

        The part about Mary and Stephen and the PSP: I think it’s quite possible that they could have communicated (not like nice, newsy letters or anything, but critical info) without Stephen knowing where she was. He communicated with Ellie, and she had no idea where he was. Plus, knowing that Mary was going after Volkoff, with Stephen was trying to find a way to fix him, I find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t have set up some contingencies and a way to communicate bare essentials. I would have loved to see that somehow Mary was sabotaging Volkoff and giving the good guys Intel all those years, but they just didn’t give us much there.

      • joe says:

        you simply can’t have both ways

        Yes, you can!

        In fact, that’s the essence of human nature, isn’t it? (Which is why Thinkling and I are NOT disagreeing, despite the fact that she acknowledged your formulation.) It’s that Zen-Koan thing I brought up earlier.

        But more to the point, I must insist that if you were to actually have all the contradictions are hesitations and inconsistencies removed from any story, the way you seem to prefer, Bill, you’d have a sterile, soulless tome devoid of all humanity. I’m not sure there’d be much meaning in it either.

      • BillAtWork says:

        No you can’t Joe. You simply can’t say that you agree with Thinkling and disagree with me. You’re in IT, right? This argument should appeal to you. If a=b and b=c, then what can we can about a and c? Because Thinkling has it exactly right. It’s what I’ve been trying to say here for close to a year.

        Most attempts to make sense of things ultimately run aground. Some of it seems to be blatant plot devices. Some is probably the difficulty of writing through so many bubbles with different writers. I don’t know. I have less difficulty ignoring it than some, obviously. Think too hard about it and it fries your brain. (As we say in Brazil, don’t heat your head over it.)

        Here is a basic truth. You’ll accept that from Thinkling. But you won’t accept it from me. Because you fear that the next words out of my mouth will be ‘Ah, ha. See, I told you, they’re sloppy. And that leads you in trying to defend the indefensible. All to avoid my ‘they’re sloppy’ rant. But this is what you don’t seem to get. That is not all that much of a criticism. It doesn’t mean that they are, what was it again Ernie, stupid, incompetent, mindless, monkeys? I don’t even think that. What I do think is that those kinds of details simply weren’t important to them. To TPTB, the most important thing was an entertaining episode. And by that standard, except for much of S3, they usually delivered. Do I wish that they had paid a little more attention to those details? I absolutely do. Do I think that a more experienced team might have done a little better? Hard to say, but I think so.

      • atcDave says:

        Very well put Thinkling. I’m always a big fan of your Black box, so much of that season I would just rather not look at, EVER again. But that’s not quite the same as calling it all utter nonsense. Maybe mostly nonsense….

        Joe I wouldn’t be quite so eager to embrace a “both/and” philosophy, that typically leads to a rejection of actual truth. But I would agree as far as saying the situation is complex, and there’s a very human element that is often a mass of conflicting priorities. As I said elsewhere, I have no problem with saying Sarah wanted it all. I think since Colonel she has accepted that there are things more important than her job (mainly Chuck). But it will be some time yet before she’s really ready to put the job aside entirely.

      • thinkling says:

        Sorry for the double post. The first one ended up in the wrong thread, so I’m putting it where it belongs, which is here:

        I did think of one other thing after I hit the post button, and it goes to the draw of the spy life and what Dave said about things being complicated. Both Chuck and Sarah had an admirable trait that made it hard for them to just walk away. Neither of them wanted to leave a wrong unrighted. They liked helping people and righting wrongs. They wanted a normal life. But as long as they could have a real life together and be spies, then that’s the best of both world’s for them. Their life wasn’t normal, which didn’t bother them much until Business Trip, but it was real, AND they got to do what they both really liked doing.

        And I can hear Bill saying, “But in Ring, Sarah told Chuck she didn’t want to save the world…” Well, not if it meant losing Chuck. But if she could have both … why not? They eventually found out why not, but in the mean time, it was a fun ride, until the end when it got verrry bumpy.

  9. Jason says:

    Dave thx for the tip toward person of interest. Interesting, POI too in s3 changed pretty significantly. This week’s ep felt like an ep of Charlie’s Angels. I’m beginning to have a new fav charcter on the show, none other than Sam Shaw. She’s awesome, I think the ‘Carter’ role needed help, Shaw was the perfect addition to add some action to the mission of the night. Zoe Morgan is pretty great too, I like how the other two Angels know and seemingly approve that Reese and Zoe hook up.

    When Chuck announced Shaw and Hannah I thought for sure Chuck was going to do the same thing, have Shaw and Hannah join the team to expand the different pairings on missions and allow for more complicated, serious missions to be undertaken. I would have sworn the no more mr nice spy was going to signify Chuck writing more mainstream spy drama than teen angst or slap stick humor, which I think the characters would have done quite nicely at. Like so much about this show, I got that one wrong. Oh well, chuck and Sarah were pretty great together most of the last 2 and a half seasons, and that’s all I really wanted.

    One comment about the seeming waffling on running away, quitting the spy life, wanting to save the world, etc, etc. IMO the desired ‘end game’ was to leave the spy life, so with each arc ending with pending cancellation, the characters kept repeating the same end game, then when the show got renewed, they had to start over again. That had to be hard to write. I think the same thing drove Sarah being out of the final arc each time, the planned end was Chuck running out of time and barely getting the girl at the end.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m glad POI is working for you Jason! Actually, thank Thinkling, she’s the one who got me going on it. It is funny how this Shaw fits in quite well on the show. I like her, sort of a mini-Casey, she just wants to shoot somebody.
      I don’t believe the “Charlie’s Angels” mood will last, and Zoe is just a recurring character. But it was fun having the three ladies take center stage for an episode.

      I originally had hoped Chuck’s S3 would play out more like you suggested, but I think I feared the worst immediately. Although I would have to say, the product delivered was actually much worse than I had expected.

      It is sort of funny how CF seemed to be absolutely consistent on how the show had to end.

      • Jason says:

        Dave / Think / other POI fans – I laughed watching the show this week because as Reese kind of had the night off, mostly making straight faced jokes, it dawned on me that Routh would be a really good Reese. I like the actor doing the role, but Routh be great at it. The show has some of the elements of Chuck in that they have to be careful to not get too funny. The idea of ‘The Machine’ seems to be getter more real with each passing decade. Funny that Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949. Shaw seems to be stealing hearts in POI, will finch be heartbroken if Bear leaves with her?

      • atcDave says:

        I like the Reese we have! But yeah, the humor on POI is much more understated. Both Reece and Shaw have that Clint Eastwood tough guy sort of humor about them. But I do think Finch has already lost Bear’s heart to Shaw. Stupid love triangles…

    • thinkling says:

      Heh, you’re probably right, Jason, about the season (possibly series) finales. They were designed to be flexible.

  10. thinkling says:

    Sorry, I can’t find the original point to reply so I’m continuing my conversation with Uplink here.

    Uplink, if you want an explanation as to how Sarah’s question What are you saying, Chuck? precipitated his change in strategy, I would say I don’t think it did.

    After her question, Devon burst through the window, and that was the end of Chuck’s best attempt to get Sarah to go to Italy with him.

    You say it’s obvious that she was looking for ILY in answer to her question. Well, to us, yes. To Chuck? We can’t assume that he knew what she was looking for, but the point is moot because an aborted attempt was a failed attempt, and he still hadn’t gotten Sarah’s yes.

    I don’t think his asking her to run away with him was prompted by her question, but rather by the failure of his efforts to get her to go to Italy.

    He said he wasn’t going anywhere without Sarah, so if Sarah wasn’t going to Italy, then he had to find some other way to be with her.

    Italy was a no go. Hanging out in Burbank wasn’t an option. Running was all that was left, and, like I said, Prague was where things went wrong, so to me I think he tries to make it right by doing what she asked him to do in Prague. (Kind of like a big do-over)

    But I don’t think the blunt and honest speech was a direct continuation from Sarah’s question.

    So this discussion is my 2c at an explanation/interpretation for the flow from the eloquent speech to the blunt speech, and why he asked her to run.

  11. Jason says:

    Rewatched Leftovers last night. For some reason, I loved it! Alexi’s line, now that’s a threat, sort of a shout out to one of the best lines in all movie history, crocadile dundee’s line, now this is a knife. The near ending had a treasured CS water fountain moment, along with an ending that probably would have been suitable as a season ending ep, guys I know kung fu. I said I don’t like 2.0 as much as 1.0, but still, I like Chuck interesected more than not, so the end is / was a true fist pump moment for me.

  12. Wow,whilst enjoying(to a greater or lesser degree) the heated debate unrelated to the episode but rising inevitably when returning to all things related to season 3,I am hear firstly to remind you just how much you all love Chuck despite the flaws!!!!!!!!!!

    And secondly, just some nonsensical sort of episode related fun in response to Dave’s disappointment with the “ambush by assassins” scene relating to Sarah.Did you or anyone else watch the pre-Emmy behind the scenes clip where someone shouted “cut” and Yvonne carried on fighting the bad guys?Showed not only just how much she threw herself into her action work but also that she clearly agreed with Dave she needed to do more to protect Chuck!!!!!!!!!!!

    On an entirely different tack,could you put a spoiler warning before you discuss Castle for those of us in the UK where it will not air for some time yet!!

    Cheers and much love.

    • thinkling says:

      Oops, sorry Graham.

    • atcDave says:

      Oh no! How far behind are you guys with Castle?

    • joe says:

      I’m sorry, Graham – and I’m the instigator. Yeah, please give us an indication when it’s safe to spoil. Out of convenience I used Castle to make a point this time, but I could have found other ways to say it.

      I just pre-ordered S4 of Downton Abbey for my wife, so perhaps an appropriate punishment is to reveal a spoiler for that one! 😉

  13. We just haven’t started the latest season yet,though looking forward to it,whenever that might be!

  14. Dave says:

    Went away for a little vacation and return to another discussion of S3…what a surprise.

    S3 gave some of the worst stuff, for me, in the first half (three episodes never to be rewatched) and the back half of the season was some of my favorite stuff…an enigma.

    Having said that, the general idea was good…Chuck has a difficult journey to being a spy, he’s introduced to the dark underbelly of the spy world and has a humorless senior spy to mentor him who turns rogue in the end becoming their implacable enemy…but somehow they blew it. When they blew up Chuck and Sarah’s relationship and introduced totally unbelievable OLIs they wrecked their otherwise good idea.

    Now on to Leftovers, this one got better on re-watch. The scene right after charades was always “off” to me. I do not get down on Chuck for freezing a little. When he issued the threat in Anniversary, he was fully intersected but in Leftovers he was not and in his insecure mind he was incapable of doing something.

    My favorite bits were the Chuck-Sarah-Mary interchange in Castle, Alexei in Buy More and the ending was great.

    Not making my all time favs, but a good episode.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, another S3 discussion…

      I mostly agree with all that Dave. I little too much whiny Chuck in the castle scene for my taste, but otherwise pretty much the same.

  15. BillAtWork says:

    I’ll only reply to one, lol.

    I don’t disagree with that. In fact, a very easy explanation for Sarah at the end of American Hero is that she was finishing this one last mission for her partner. It was important to him and she felt that she owed it to him. If Sarah would have told Chuck exactly that instead of “I appreciate the tank,” there would be no issue, right? Except that wouldn’t set up the angst of Chuck believing that Sarah had chosen Shaw and the DYLM scene.

    I think I slightly disagree on Sarah. In S1 and S2 they were selling us on her conflict. She was called to be a spy, she was a good one, and she enjoyed it. Her life was basically looking forward to the next mission. But then she met the nerd… and looking towards the next assignment lost a lot of its appeal. She fell for him in a way that she never thought possible. And she pined for the things that he brought into her life for the first time, home, family, a sense of belonging. But she was a spy and she had her duty. So mostly she pushed down those feelings. We saw glimpses when she couldn’t keep her feelings hidden, in front of the bomb, on the roof in Marlin, in the Buy More in Santa, in the last scene of Suburbs, to name a few.

    It all came to head in First Kill. They were taking him away to a bunker. So Sarah had to make an instant decision. Follow her duty and lose him… or do the unthinkable — commit treason to protect this man that she now could no longer pretend that she wasn’t in love with.

    We know what she chose. People think that Other Guy was the climax of the love story. I disagree. That moment in the Buy More when she whispered “Take off your watch,” was. Duty was no longer as important to her as he was. She reaffirmed that decision in Ring (after the obligatory angsty plot point). She reaffirmed it even more plainly in Pink Slip. “I get to become a real person again… with you.” That wasn’t conflict. That wasn’t her making a sacrifice for his benefit. It was what she wanted. It was what she had been pining for over the past 2 years.

    So I get that Sarah could be conflicted. She could love being a spy, and yet realize that Chuck meant more to her. I agree with all of that. But what became missing for a 2 whole seasons was Sarah pining for that real life. They didn’t show us that again until Phase Three at the earliest, and then only that single glimpse until S5. Indeed, they showed us that she was resistant to the idea, was afraid of it.

    I missed that. It was one of the things that I liked best about her.

    So anyway, are you from Brazil? Or was that just an expression? The reason I ask is that the very first fanfic story I ever read was Chuck vs Real Life by MaryBR. She is from Brazil. It always depressed me that someone who English was a second language was so much better at it than I was. We developed something of a friendship, trading emails 3 or 4 times a week for about a year. Until, you guessed it, S3 turned her off the show. I think she’s a lawyer now. She had just passed Brazil’s equivalent to the Bar last time we spoke.

    • thinkling says:

      Thank you for moving the thread. Yeah, it was a bit odd. I can just say that she didn’t need to pine over it, because she had it. And now that she had it, she wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it or how to handle it … not the real relationship part, but the normal part. Maybe it was overdone, but it’s believable to me that she would at least struggle with how to do normal. Everybody has their adjustments to marriage. I imagine the daughter of a con-artist, who went from that to straight into the CIA would have more challenges than the rest of us.

      I live part of the year in the States and part in Brazil. My husband and I came to Brazil in ’84 as missionaries. Our son was born here six months later. Now it’s a half and half life.

      • BillAtWork says:

        See, I don’t struggle with her having to adjust to the new life of living with someone, of having a home and a lifelong relationship. I can understand that might scare her to death. In fact that may have been underplayed. I could see a lot of laughs from Sarah trying to do domestic stuff. I wrote a story where one of the main themes was Sarah being panicked over having to give her baby a bath for the first time (who wasn’t?)

        What I do struggle with is that they played her character as she really didn’t want it. There was a scene sometime in early S4, I don’t remember what episode, where C/S are with Clara, and they are both horrified, they’re like “We need a mission.” I would have thought that the Sarah of S1 and S2 would have been more interested, maybe a little afraid, but wanting it. And I didn’t get that impression again until about mid S5.

        So do you speak Portuguese? It’s not common here in the states.

      • thinkling says:

        That episode was Seduction Impossible, and at first Sarah was cooing with best of them, totally into the new baby, more so than Chuck. They got antsy when everyone started pressuring them about the details of the wedding. Then I think diapers came up or something.

        I think the line that captures it best was in suitcase: I know it’s taken me longer than a normal girl, but you should know that you’re my home Chuck. You always have been. It’s not that she didn’t want it. It just took her a little longer than a normal girl. My guess is that they were trying to come up with some unusual adjustments for a spy rather than just normal people’s adjustments. I never thought she didn’t want it, just hesitant about jumping into normal. Of course in Suburbs, she did normal pretty well, but that was a mission. At any rate, by the end of Coup D’Etat, she is all in, proposal and all.

        Yes, fluent in Portuguese.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, so at least I didn’t mind watching a little of Seduction Impossible. Let’s agree to limit our scene references to S1, S2, S4, and the first 12 of S5, okay? I’ll be happier.

        I think you’re overstating the Sarah cooing, lol. Even Casey was cooing in that first scene. Did you see the look of horror on Sarah’s face when Devon asked her to go her a diaper?

        And look, I’m not even disagreeing with you. Sarah having issues adjusting from all spy all the time to part spy and part wife is a ligitimate storyline. My only issue is that early they tried to play it for relationship angst, and it was never that. The line you quoted is exactly right. “You always have been.”

        I’ll be totally honest. I had to google it to spell Portuguese. But I hoped I would get points for knowing that they speak Portuguese in Brazil. Most people would say Spanish, right? 🙂

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, now I thought of one more think after I hit the post button.

        They made Sarah’s character the strong silent type. And in S1 and S2, we could kinda get what she was thinking by her expressions.

        In S4 it became a lot harder to read what Sarah was thinking. Those complex thoughts are much too hard to express in facial expressions.

        The writers had an avenue to allow us to know Chuck’s thoughts. We could watch him discuss them with Morgan.

        The Sarah character didn’t have that avenue. Who was she going to talk to, Casey? So I would have had her form a relationship with Ellie. Allow her to discuss her fears with Ellie that she wouldn’t ever be able to believably discuss with Chuck.

        Sarah’s conflict was a good storyline. It could have been used more. But they played it into faux relationship angst and that wasn’t believable or particularly engaging. The characters were past that. But for example, Sarah telling Ellie why she had to go undercover to save his mom could have made that story interesting. But the writers never had that avenue.

      • joe says:

        Thinkling, did I even mention that my brother was an exchange student in San Paulo? He was homesick at first, but by the time he got back, my bro. described it as the best time of his life.

      • thinkling says:

        I didn’t really see all that as relationship angst. I saw it as relationship/life adjustment for a spy, who had never ever had a home or any role model for what she was getting into, maybe a bit overdone, but it didn’t bother me as much as you. (And I can give Sarah a pass on diaper-phobia, which is fairly common to a large segment of the population, from time to time.) The only angst of S4, as far as I’m concerned, came from Fedak’s promotion and relentless teasing that the engagement might not happen (and then the wedding). He had something to wonderful to promote, and instead of promoting it, he tried to make fans think it might not happen. Normally that would have been taken as a good natured tease, and nobody would have really thought that those things wouldn’t happen. But in the wake of the lost trust of S3, there was room for doubt, and that’s where the angst was. When I rewatch S4, there’s just no angst there at all. I can’t say that for S3. The angst is always still there.

        I remember making almost the identical argument for a Sarah/Ellie relationship, so yeah, I totally agree on that. I did enjoy Sarah’s chats/threats with Morgan, though. The episodes were pretty tight already, but there were those of us who would have like to see some Sarah/Ellie interaction, peraps instead of some other things.

        Yes, points for knowing that Brazil’s language is Portuguese. You’re right, many people guess Spanish. People may be surprised to know that Portuguese is the 7th most spoken language in the world.

        Joe, that sounds familiar now that you mention it. São Paulo is a beast of a city, but there are things I like about it. We lived there 12 years. Now we live in a much smaller (only 1.5 million), more peaceful city. We’re about an hour from the edge of SP. After that it’s another 1 to 3 hours to get to other places in the city. With trafiic, it can be anywhere from 4 to never.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It was faux angst. If I didn’t say that, I meant to. It wasn’t true angst because we didn’t fear the outcome. But Morgan called the suitcase their Achilles Heel. Not sure that Morgan ever read Homer’s Illiad (me either) but it didn’t work out so well for Achilles, lol. They had Chuck (and by extension us) worried that Sarah’s reluctance to unpack said something about their future. BTW. This is totally beside the point, but it is really impressive that Sarah could live out of a suitcase. I mean we never saw her in the same outfit twice for 2 years. My wife needs a suitcase to go for a night and visit our grandkids, lol. The entire concept was one of those times that the show bordered on farce. But it was mostly played for laughs.

        The only episodes in S4 that provided any real angst were Balcony and Gobbler. They definitely played upon the fear that Sarah would become Mary. IMO, that was exactly the wrong approach. I would have showed the contrast between Sarah and Mary. Instead, this odious character became something of Sarah’s mentor. They never did tell us what Beckman’s plan was that required Sarah to be arrested just as Chuck was about to propose and whisked from Castle in chains. She told Volkoff she was looking for a big payday. Couldn’t she have told him that exact thing without the angsty theatrics?

        And they also tried to play Baby into angst. Why would Sarah be so horrified when Shaw asked if Chuck knew about the baby? They were clearly setting us up that Sarah had a deep dark secret that might have been relationship threatening, like maybe a baby with some other guy. The truth was pretty simple. In fact I question why Chuck didn’t know. What was controversial about her having saved a baby once on a mission and her mom raising it? Isn’t that the kind of thing that a husband could expect to know about his wife? Especially after the ‘no secrets, no lies’ agreement from Anniversary. Didn’t Sarah violate that agreement big time?

        I totally agree with you on Fedak’s interviews. Grrrr. Everytime I would read an interview from him, I would invariably come away less impressed. I’m not sure if it highlighted his inexperience as a show runner more, or his misunderstanding of his audience more. Both are favorite theories of mine. 🙂 The wedding should have been hyped. “Come and see what you’ve waited for 4 years. Chuck and Sarah are getting married.” NBC actually ran a promotion that said almost exactly that. I guess they didn’t get the memo. But the wedding was a very small part of Cliffhanger, almost an after thought. I think that giving the fancy motorcycle more air time than the wedding is the best example of Fedak not wanting to emphasize the relationship in his episodes and not being particularly good at it (another favorite theory of mine).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree completely Thinkling about CF’s weakness as a show promoter, he actually had a pretty maddening effect in most cases. Otherwise I agree about the lack of angst in S4 in general.
        I also agree 100% about the proposal and wedding issues; those should have been promoted and hyped like crazy. It might have even brought back some of those we lost in S3. I’ll even go further and say I categorically believe it would have been better to end Balcony with an engagement. That would have given us another completely fun and positive episode al la Honeymooners; and it wouldn’t need to change one iota of what comes next.
        Bill I do have to point out though, no Achilles Heal in the Iliad. Not even a peep. In fact, Achilles of the Iliad pointedly wears the best armor the gods can make. And he survives to the very end. The Achilles’ heal story comes from other various sources. Greek mythology is a lot like fan fiction; it was written by hundreds of different people using the same cast of characters, but not at all consistent on details. There are significant regional differences (Artemis was considered a virginal deity in Attica, a fertility goddess in Asia Minor); cultural differences (much “Greek” mythology was actually written by the Romans in Latin); and historic differences (stories have been written from the Mycenaean Era, about 1000 BC, to “Troy” in 2004).

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave. I actually did know that the Achilles Heel wasn’t in the Illiad. It was spawned in the follow-up stories. I just didn’t feel like keying in all that detail. I didn’t expect to get called on it, lol.

        Look, what they came up with post S3 was for the most part entertaining. For me, this episode fell short, but mostly It was light and fun and played for laughs. So it’s hard to be overly critical. But IMO, it often fell short of the show I had fallen for, the one that constantly delivered some of the most powerful moments television could offer.

        Seduction Impossible was light and fun. But it didn’t come close to Seduction.

        Wedding Planner was light and fun. But it didn’t come close to DeLorean.

        Cubic Z was light and fun. But it didn’t come close to Cougars.

        Balcony was light and fun. But it didn’t come close to First Date.

        I was going to compare First Fight and Imported Hard Salami, but actually First Fight probably wins that comparison (so forget it mentioned it, lol).

        Morgansect was light and fun (mostly). But it didn’t come close to the pilot.

        And I think S4 and S5 could have been every bit as on the edge of seat powerful. But that required replacing wt/wt with some other story. Wt/wt had expired. But they could have told a story every bit as romantic, every bit as powerful. C/S facing overwhelming threats, constantly being pulled into becoming the next generation Orion and Frost, yet also constantly being pulled to get out of the life and start their normal family could have been every bit as engaging.

        And yes, Uplink, it pointed out both Chris Fedak’s inexperience as a show runner, and his lack of understanding of his audience and what they wanted. In his mind, the crazy shippers just wanted Chuck and Sarah to be together. So he gave us a couple of seasons of them being together. But that wasn’t enough. We also wanted engaging and edgy. We just wanted the source of the engaging and edgy to be something other than wt/wt.

      • uplink2 says:

        Wow, now I’m getting educated by coming to this site? Thanks guys!

        But on the Fedak promo thing, what I don’t get is why they kept letting him do them? He never got the hang of it in the least. Each season 3 interview he just buried himself and the season more and more deeply. Then in season 4 when it is obvious they were trying to rebuild the relationship with the shipper community he took every opportunity to say it won’t happen. Now I understand the need to enhance the drama in promotion, but the thing is there clearly wasn’t any. It’s like they still were afraid of the Moonlighting curse and wouldn’t embrace the bold idea of getting the couple together expands the show instead of bores it to death. Promoting the proposal and the wedding should have been clear opportunities as you say Dave of bringing back viewers that had been lost, plus gain some new ones. Embrace the spy couple against the world concept instead of thinking they needed to threaten it somehow. Especially when that threat was so pointless and imagined.

        Even in the finale I think it shows he was in over his head when he ran to every interviewer telling them it was a happy ending and Chuck and Sarah are together. Well if that is what you wanted the audience to take away from it, then show it. If you wanted an ambiguous ending then stick with the ambiguous ending like the Lost showrunners did. And if the only ambiguity was supposed to be if the kiss worked or not they did aa pretty lousy job of setting that up. And finally don’t be afraid to say something didn’t work when it clearly didn’t like Sarah/Shaw and the rest of the trapezoid. They might have gotten a lot of that lost trust back if they simply stated, yep we hear you and yes that part of our story was seriously problematic.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Bill. What we or at least I wanted post season 3, I’ll skip over what I wanted post S2 as I think my position is clear that it doesn’t even come close to what we did get, was for the drama to come from a well executed and engaging spy story. The unlikely spy couple fighting the greatest threats to our country and the world. But with the same bit of humor S1 and 2 were full of. I didn’t want it to overpower the spy story as S3 did in such an un-fulfilling and at times repulsive way. The fact that the aspect of S4 that falls short is the spy story leads us to realize again some of his failings as a showrunner. The template for what really worked was there but he misread it. It wasn’t the threats to the relationship we loved about season 1 and 2 is was the fact that no matter what they were these 2 incredible characters would fight, claw and grap to find a way to take deal with it and ultimately triumph. That is the lesson of Colonel. But he/they didn’t seem to understand how to manifest that into a new main story of the strong unlikely couple against the world. They/he focused on even a faux threat to the relationship instead of the real threat to them as a couple from the spy life and the enemies it carried. That is the story I wanted to see well beginning Jan 10, 2010 but even that September would have been pretty great.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Unfortunately, I’m not totally sure that any storyline in S4 could have saved the show. The damage was done. Too much of the core audience had given up and they probably weren’t coming back. And the funny thing is that I don’t even blame Fedak for that. I believe that Schwartz was the architect of the fatal trapezoid.

        I went back and rewatched Imported Hard Salami. And under further review, I do believe it beats First Fight. The C/S argument in the trunk of the car was great. And of course the kiss was the first inkling Chuck got that she had genuine feelings for him.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I don’t completely agree about painting so many of the later episodes as it’s weaker versions of the early ones. There is a built in handicap in later seasons just that some of the originality is wearing off, but do really feel many of the later episodes were very worthy successors. Especially Suitcase, Couch Lock, Seduction Impossible, Wedding Planner, and several others; really stand out to me as terrific entertainment.
        I do agree much of the promotion was misguided, but in most cases, the misguided promotion had little impact on the show itself. Baby being a particularly interesting example, the teaser at the end of Santa Suit, and the previews, did suggest some deep dark secret. But I really felt the episode itself just had none of that. Actually, I consider the episode itself one of the series’ very, very best. I was quite willing to buy Sarah’s initial secret keeping, no matter how honest she might have wanted to be with her husband, simply speaking the secret aloud could put her mom and the child at risk (Chuck’s home has been bugged in the past, even if it’s not supposed to be now, I’m willing to accept this particular secret could worry her). Of course once the secret is out at the start of the episode, she should have come clean immediately. But old habits die hard, and I absolutely love Sarah’s discovery process in the course of the episode. And to my mind, it’s the final big growth moment for her in the series; she now knows that the spy life is less important to her than being safe and honest with her family.

        Anyway, the other thought I got distracted from earlier was the Achilles Heal discussion. I love how Morgan just rattles off a series of doomed romances to “prove” his point. Therefore every romance is doomed!? Too funny.

      • BillAtWork says:

        See Dave. I don’t think that we really disagree. We’re just using different phrases to say basically the same thing. All of those episodes you mentioned are good, quality entertainment. But IMO the original episodes are top 10.

        Baby is the best of S5. But I don’t think of it when I think of series best. Just like Chuck in Curse, Sarah gets an ooc moment that she should have been way past. And Chuck is much too wimpy. “I think maybe, possibly, you should consider that maybe you were, well I’m sorry if this sounds too harsh, but maybe a little… umm… wrong.” Okay, I embellished that a bit. But you get the idea, lol.

        I didn’t know this when I made my comparisons but all of the S1, S2 episodes I compared ranked much higher than the S4, S5 versions in Ernie’s list.

        Seduction (7) vs Seduction Impossible (22)

        DeLorean (10) vs Wedding Planner (17)

        Cougars (11) vs Cubic Z (62)

        First Date (3) vs Balcony (34)

        Even Imported Hard Salami (24) edges First Fight (27). That surprises me a little. It also surprises me that both rank so low. I would have had both higher.

        I left out a couple. The two main Carina episodes. Wookie (29) blows Three Words (72) away. Maybe that’s not fair since 3 words was a S3.

        Santa Claus (15) vs Santa Suit (36)

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I do agree S3 started the downward slide of ratings, but I don’t believe it needed to be terminal. I think, without even changing any content, just promoting the show better to those who would have loved it as it was. Emphasize the romance and the happy couple. Emphasize the pure comedy. Promote what your GOOD at. Don’t try to sell Alias and deliver Chuck. That is lousy promotion.

        But yeah, I think S3 is mostly on JS.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I definitely agree that the damage done by S3 was so severe that the show was never going to fully recover from it. It did however give us a great deal to enjoy in S4 and a lot of S5. But certainly it could easily have been even better. But once they lost the trust of the audience there was no way to get it back. The shine of the romance would never be as bright and the characters never as likable and relateable. The only way for it to be any different is if it never happened at all which is why so many simply chose to simply ignore 3.1-3.12. If you imagine the destruction never happened its a bit easier to fully enjoy what was left, diminished as it was.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah but Bill your specific comparisons are sort of artificial. I mean, I could point out Baby out polled Third Dimension and it really proves very little. And yes, I see that you’re trying to compare “like” episodes, but I just don’t think that’s a valid comparison.

        Now we have observed here before that S2 generally tops out with the largest number of really strong episodes. But at least for me, the response to that is just that S4 has the smallest number of really weak episodes. And I think the overall enjoyment of those two seasons is pretty comparable, with the slight edge going to S4 for me.
        And I would add, Phase Three, Push Mix and Baby all came out as top ten episodes on that poll. So there was no real shortage of high quality late in the series.

      • BillAtWork says:

        You’ve heard the expression figures lie and liars figure.

        I agree, you could spin those numbers several ways. When I made my comparisons, I didn’t know the numbers (although I had a pretty good idea). I think my comparisons are mostly valid. I had a specific criteria that had nothing to do with the numbers.

        By your logic, S3 has 4 of the top 16 where S4 only has 2.

        But in average score per episode, S4 trails only S3. It is S2, S1, S5, S4, and then S3. And while S2 had a lot of great episodes, it had its clunkers as well. 3D was 6th from the bottom. I have much more to say about 3D which I think I’ll save until someone inspires me. Sensei (which I liked and would have ranked much higher), Beefcake, and the Jill arc also drag it down.

        So I think in general, the numbers support my conclusion. S4 was almost always good with the 2nd half being weaker. S1 and S2 were almost always great. S5 had a couple of strong episodes but overall didn’t compete. The first 13 of S3 are consistently the bottom of the barrel with the last 6 saving it from total disaster.

        Some of the rankings make me scratch my head a little. Colonel is #1. And it’s not even in my list of top episodes. Maybe I’m not the crazy shipper everyone assumes, lol. I’m surprised that First Date scores so well. It was a very good episode, but ahead of Phase Three, Seduction, and DeLorean? I don’t think so. I’m also surprised that Imported Hard Salami isn’t higher. I mean from a purely shippers pov, C/S’s first real kiss? I’m surprised that Muuurder and Aisle of Terror are so low. Not great episodes but nothing to loathe. And Aisle of Terror has the Sarah / Mary stand off, one of my favorites. “I don’t know how to say this exactly, but please don’t kill each other”, lol.

        S4 has one of my candidates for best of the series, Phase Three. And it doesn’t have any candidates for worst. So by that measure, I think it succeeded. But it didn’t captivate me like S1 and S2 did. That’s only my opinion but I stand by it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Bill a lot of the specific rankings are a real mystery to me. And I do plan a doing a “rating the seasons” sort of thing in a few months when this re-watch is complete. But one thing I would say for me is; the show had four seasons that I love and find completely satisfying. The one season that I severely rank below the others, managed to produce the single all-time greatest episode. So go figure.

      • thinkling says:

        Ok. I’m dizzy now, and I was a math teacher. I won’t quote polls, but I agree with Dave on the comparisons.

        I fully recognize the greatness of S2 (and S1), but my favorite seasons ar 4 and 5. I hate geometry (in the Hollywood sense) and I get tired of wt/wt. So, those aspects alone diminish a lot of the S1 and S2 episodes.

        In S4 and S5 Chuck and Sarah are where I want them to be, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would take more seasons like 5, Chuck and Sarah married and facing the world together. Give me mature (preferably married) romance any day over wt/wt teen-angsty stuff.

        S4 spy story wasn’t as edgy as S2, but S5 got some of that back. The threat and drama weren’t between Chuck and Sarah, but around them. Even the end was an external threat, rather than internally generated relationship angst.

        All things considered, I still give my nod to S4 and S5.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I get what you and Dave are saying. But to me, especially S5 didn’t measure up. C/S being together and stable is nice, but there also has to be some tension somewhere in the story.

        S5 spent entirely too much time on Morgansect for my money. It was a fail. Bo was creepy, perhaps my very worst of the series. Santa Suit was a retread that simply didn’t make any sense whatsoever. How did Shaw survive in prison without a governor? And the reveal of Shaw as the mastermind behind Decker never rang even remotely believable to me. I hated the ambiguity of the finale. So out of 13 episodes, at least 6 were clunkers.

        Besides, point to these kind of moments in S4 or S5.

        “What? I’m fantastic.” “Yeah… you are.”

        “But you have to ask yourself one question. Is she worth dying for?” “Yes.”

        “Chuck, I can’t take this. This is something real, something that you should give to a real girlfriend.” “I know.”

        “That’s pretty elegant for 9:00 A.M.” “What can I say? I’m an articulate snook.”

        “Take off your watch. It’s all a lie. Your father is still out there somewhere. We have to run.”

        “Two beds?”

        Those are all moments that I’m sure anybody here can place and immediately think of the scene and remember watching it. S4 was light and fun. But save for Suitcase and Phase Three, I can’t remember a line that got that much of a reaction from me.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I thought there were a lot of really terrific moments in both S4 and S5. The fact I can find some things to criticize isn’t that big a thing to me, those moments are always there, even S1 and S2 had a few real clunker moments and episodes.
        And although I agree the story needs some tension and conflict, I don’t believe it ever needs to be between the lead couple. In particular, as Thinkling said, I am REALLY put off by love triangles. I pretty much just give thumbs down to any episode structured around one. Now its been funny on this re-watch, I’ve found a little more to enjoy in some of those episodes than I expected; especially Nemesis and Fat Lady. But to me, its a huge handicap to overcome.
        S4 and S5 just get huge bonus points from me for that reason alone. A committed couple, loving and growing together. Nothing can make me happier. S5 is my favorite basic scenario of any season. Easily. That they fumbled a little in execution does disappoint me; although Bo doesn’t trouble me like seems to bother you. Only Curse really annoys me, easily my least favorite episode outside of S3. I would say they pooched the “grand conspiracy”, I really didn’t need to see Shaw again, and a little too much whiny Chuck. But none of that adds up to a huge problem for me. I got the show I wanted. Lot’s of great laughs, some fun action, Charah together, married, happy, a private spy business, no Intersect. Just wow. Even if I do rank S5 just below S4, its a near thing, and I love both seasons.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Hopefully anybody reading this realizes that I am, in no way, defending love triangles. I have a reputation to think about. 🙂

        I agree. That was the weak part of S2. The Jill thing seemed particularly out of place. Beefcake is one of my handful ‘series worst’ few.

        But it also had lines like “Agent Carmichael always comes quickly.” LOL. I’m surprised they got away with that at 8:00.

      • thinkling says:

        That sounds kind of like a challenge ;).

        I think S4 had some of the best romantic moments. Those you mention from S2 are great, but S4 holds its own, albeit with a different tenor. The relationship is in a different place.

        The last scenes of Suitcase, Coup dÉtat, Cubic Z, and Seduction Impossible are all romantic, intimate moments.

        Then of course there’s the Balcony proposal and the real one, the practice vows, and the wedding (short but great).

        The don’t-stop-helping-me-you’re-perfect speech at the end of Cat Squad, the prenup resolution, and the Valentine wings.

        The end of The Zoom was good. Baby has multiple good Chuck and Sarah scenes, with the picnic in the dream house the real stand out. The almost pregnancy — another good two scenes — and the Bullet Train scene in the compartment is probably the most intimate of the series.

      • BillAtWork says:

        With me everything is kind of a challenge. 🙂

        I don’t question that S4 had its share of nice, romantic moments. I enjoyed them all. But here is my point. Except for “You are my home, Chuck, you always have been,” I can’t remember what those other scenes were. The only other fist pump moments from S4 that I can think of are…

        “If you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head…”

        “I’m different without Chuck… and I don’t like it.”

        And here is the difference, at least to me. I didn’t tell you any of the episodes from the quotes I listed. I didn’t have to. They are burned into your brain. You knew exactly where they were from, the context behind them, and how you felt when you watched them.

        I’m not dissing S4. I’m not. For the most part it was light and fun. All I’m saying is that there were scant few moments that were burned into my brain.

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