Season Four Alternatives: The Intersect-less and Volkoff Arcs

So once again we’re taking a look at alternate story possibilities for Season Four.  This time we’ve cover the period roughly from Fear of Death (4.08) to Push Mix (4.13).

That involves Chuck loosing and regaining the Intersect, the pursuit and apprehension of Alexei Volkoff, the return of Mary Bartowski to her family, the birth of Clara, and Chuck’s proposal to Sarah.  Can we use a certain”e” word here?  Epic.

But after the jump, we’ll at some ideas on how things might have been.

There are some truly terrific episodes in this period of the show, so I’ll emphasize again that “Alternative” does not have to mean critical!  Or at least to say, some of the things I would like to have seen a little different are really minor complaints.  This is a period of the show where I feel things were firing on all cylinders.  The show at its very best.  Well, mostly.

I should also mention that there will be some repetition this time around.  Unlike S3 where I divorced myself from show canon entirely, which resulted in completely different discussions; this time around, I’ve already brought up many of my “issues” with these episodes as we went.  So my treatment of them here will be fairly brief.

By far my biggest issue with these episodes is a little too much whiny Chuck, especially in Fear of Death and Leftovers.  There is no big or elaborate fix needed, just I wish kept had kept his cool a little better at some points.  This will remain an occasional complaint of mine to the end of the series (almost), with Curse being the nadir.  Just to be clear, I don’t find it a terrible or unendurable flaw, just something I wish had been a little different.

My other thought is really more in the spirit of story-telling alternatives.  You all know I’ve complained some about the Mary story.  I do think it would have played better if we’d seen Mary as someone who had actually gone rogue and sided with Volkoff.  Perhaps it could work as a Stockholm Syndrome sort of story, or maybe she just sold out for all the money she could make.  I think this has the advantage of making her seem more corrupt than incompetent.  The advantage I see to going this direction is it could make her ultimate redemption more believable and satisfying.  At least to me; its easier to redeem corruption than stupidity.  Its maybe a little funny to react that way, but I really like the idea of Mary having to confront all the evil she’s done when its about to kill her son and/or daughter-in-law.  So have Mary finally, clearly have to switch sides when she realizes the cost of her actions exceeds what she’s willing to pay.  Whether Mary survives the redemption process is a secondary issue.   Although I like a couple of her later appearances, so I am happy to have her stick around.

I like that this version of the story makes Sarah more significant in the Volkoff mission.  The real issue for her is to get Mary to switch sides again; maybe appealing to her maternal instincts, sense of duty and patriotism all at once.  I would have preferred Chuck more involved and in touch with the mission all along too.  Make it clear he is just on the “outside”, watching Sarah (and his Mom) while looking for the big opportunity to get both of his girls out.

My preferred alternatives for this period do not require any changes to later show canon. That is mostly a reflection of how much I like this season, in spite of a few complaints, I really see no need for sweeping change.

Fan Fiction writers have played with this period some, but not a lot.  Volkoff often appears as a villain, and Mary’s story is occasionally touched on.  The first alternative I’ll bring up here is “Sarah Vs Phase Three” by SicklyRaven.  This starts at the very end of Phase Three and tells what happens when the rescue comes just a moment too late.  This is almost a reverse reflection of the series finale, with a badly damaged Chuck and Sarah desperately trying to get through to him.  This is a well written story, and it makes my favorites list.  But it is a bit on the dark side, and I’m glad the show itself didn’t go there.

Another epilogue to Phase Three is a one-shot by steampunk.chuckster called “Chuck Versus His Bare Feet“.  This is a more fun and upbeat treatment, and is really more canon supplemental than alternative.

Another favorite of mine is by NinjaVanish.  Chapter 22 of “Chuck & Sarah vs the Recruits” is where Frost is first introduced to this epic.  Volkoff follows a little later.  This is extreme AU territory and I just linked you to late in the story.  But that’s where it gets relevant to this discussion.  Volkoff is using a version of the Intersect for mind control, and Mary is his favorite, most successful Guinea Pig.  Can Intersect mind control survive an encounter with a grand daughter and long lost husband?  This may be a cruel joke on my part to send an unprepared reader into this excellent series so late in the story.  If anyone previously unfamiliar with this story takes the plunge from this link you’ll have to tell me how long it took you to figure out what was going on.  Anyone really interested in an awesome story that ends with Volkoff trying to rule the world would be better off reading “Chuck & Sarah vs The Bunker“, followed by “Chuck & Sarah vs Themselves“, then all of “Chuck & Sarah vs the Recruits“.

Regular commenter here billatwork has taken a couple of stabs at the Volkoff/Frost story.  At least one version is still in production and not available through ff.net.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and Bill will drop by tell us about his ideas for alternates.

Marc Vun Kannon (AKA “authorguy”) has recently started an S4 alternative too.  Check out his Nine2five 2,1 stories.

I think that’s as far as I’m going to take this for now.  I look forward to other thoughts and input on the subject.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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34 Responses to Season Four Alternatives: The Intersect-less and Volkoff Arcs

  1. Justin says:

    RECAP OF 4×07: Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan make a prisoner exchange with Volkoff and his men: Frost for Devon, Ellie, and Honey. After the exchange, Volkoff gives Chuck a two-week deadline to turn himself over. Volkoff and Frost want to perform tests on Chuck to find out what makes him so unique in handling the Intersect without suffering any lingering side-effects. The reason behind the tests remains a mystery. If Chuck refuses to go into this willingly, Volkoff promises to make those close to Chuck pay dearly. Chuck wrestles with this dilemma.

    4×08: The two-week deadline is nearly up. There are only a few days left and the pressure of the ticking clock is weighing on everyone. Chuck and Sarah have been trying to come up with a way out of the deadline with the help of their friends and resources. But nothing they’ve come up with work as an effective solution to the problem. They can’t turn to Beckman for help because she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. The last they heard from her, she said she was going to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the sudden change to kill order for Frost. She believed there was a connection between it and the DNA test she tried to perform, comparing Frost’s DNA to Chuck’s DNA. She wanted to confirm that Frost was Chuck’s biological mother but since the test was mysteriously interrupted, someone clearly doesn’t want that to be proven. Chuck and his team find Beckman’s disappearance very worrisome. But they don’t have the time to fully investigate it with Volkoff’s ultimatum close to its reckoning. Sarah stubbornly refuses to give up on saving Chuck as she is haunted by her fear of losing him. Ellie is determined not to lose Chuck like she lost her father. While being there for his wife, Devon is worried about the effect her stress may be having on their unborn child. Chuck is trying to keep up the will to fight but it is becoming increasingly clear that he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of those he cares about. Morgan has been making it his job to boost everyone’s spirits while struggling with the fear of losing his best friend. Alex is the only one Morgan has shared that fear with.

    The tension among Chuck, Sarah, and Casey during the situation of the deadline is being noticed by the computer store staff according to Morgan. Even to the new employee, Greta, who has recently joined the staff. It turns out she is an undercover agent for the CIA. Decker sent her to keep an eye on Chuck and the gang in case they make any further contact with Frost. She has already planted listening bugs in certain areas of the store.

    By the end of the episode, the deadline is up. Chuck gives himself over to Volkoff’s men purposely at a time and place when Sarah isn’t around. He doesn’t want her to get hurt standing in the way. Afterwards, Sarah receives a video message from Chuck recorded by him prior to being taken away by Volkoff’s men. In the message, Chuck apologizes to Sarah for having to leave her so he can turn himself over to Volkoff without resistance. He tells Sarah that he has faith that she and the others will find a way to get him back. But in case that doesn’t happen, Chuck wants Sarah to finish what they started: getting his mother back and fixing what is wrong with her. He doesn’t want this to be for nothing. The message ends with Chuck telling Sarah how much he loves her instead of saying goodbye which he finds impossible to say. After watching Chuck’s message, Sarah is utterly heartbroken and lost. Later on, a captive Chuck meets the Belgian, the creepy doctor who has been put in charge of conducting Chuck’s tests. The episode ends with the Belgian telling Chuck, “Let’s begin, shall we” with a chilling smile.

    • atcDave says:

      Gee, I get the feeling you’ve waiting for this to come up Justin! Definitely a darker take on “Fear of Death”. But I like how the end ties back in to canon, and I look forward to your take on “Phase Three”!

  2. Justin says:

    4×09: Chuck is being put through the physical and emotional wringer of his testing. The latest round of tests involves a probing of his mind for the answer Frost seeks to the mystery of his uniqueness. Chuck uses the willpower he used to fight Evil Chuck in his mind to fight the mental probing. But that willpower is deeply tested. Frost personally observes the process Chuck is undergoing. Meanwhile, Sarah is obsessively driven to find Chuck, looking for any potential lead she can point to his location. She has been informing Ellie every step of her search of Chuck to give her something to go on while she waits for her brother’s return. Because Sarah’s attention is so consumed by her need to find her boyfriend, she hasn’t been paying any mind to the running of the computer store. Morgan been holding down the front as the store’s manager with Casey by his side. They are both concerned for Sarah’s emotional wellbeing as much as Chuck’s, wherever he is. Questions are raised among the store’s employees, especially Big Mike, about Chuck’s absence and Sarah’s behavior. A cover story is made up to explain both about Chuck going on a foreign business trip only to lose his passport which complicates his return home which is upsetting Sarah. But not everyone working at the store is buying the story.

    Decker makes an unpleasant return, offering to provide Sarah with some help with finding Chuck. That help comes in the form of intel revealing where Chuck is being held. But he warns Sarah that his help comes with a price. The CIA has been hearing whispers of Frost and Volkoff being up to something big that will threaten the security of the United States. To prevent it from reaching fruition, Decker wants Sarah to assassinate Frost and Volkoff. He is well aware of Sarah’s skills as an assassin and thinks she is perfect for the job. After the deed is done, Decker will take credit for it before his superiors. Sarah can’t return to the US without doing this for Decker. If Decker thinks Sarah hasn’t fulfilled her side of the deal, he promises to get the computer store permanently shut down. The staff will lose the jobs Chuck selflessly gave them and Decker will make sure they won’t get employed anywhere else more decent than a run-down gas station. Personally invested in the store even if it is a front for the rogue spy operation and desperate to find Chuck, Sarah agrees to make the deal. Now knowing where Chuck is, Sarah prepares to launch a risky rescue operation. Morgan and Casey want to accompany Sarah on her mission. But she wants them both to stay behind to find out which of the store’s employees is Decker’s mole. Sarah suspects Decker must have a mole in the store for him to know of so many details of Chuck’s situation and the attempts to resolve it. They can’t have a CIA mole this close to their underground operation. Before leaving Burbank, Sarah has a moment with Ellie in which she swears to her that she will get Chuck back. Ellie will get back her brother and her baby will get back an uncle. Sarah and Ellie share a tearful embrace before Sarah parts ways with her to make her promise a reality.

    The Belgian finally uncovers the reason why Chuck is unique in his possession of the Intersect through the mental probing. When going through Chuck’s early childhood memories, he discovers that Stephen injected Chuck and Ellie with unique DNA markers, claiming those injections were flu shots. The markers were designed to make the Intersect more receptive to them. Stephen seem to have been preparing his children for a time that they may have to take on the Intersect which he viewed as the family’s legacy. He wanted them to benefit from the Intersect’s advantages when they are more grown up. Frost seizes this moment of revelation as a victory and intends to put this information to use for her plan. Frost reveals to Chuck after the mental probing the nature of her and Volkoff’s master plan. They intend to sell copies of an aggressive Intersect to enemies of the United States. This is how Frost plans to avenge herself upon the CIA along with Chuck and his team. Volkoff views the plan’s outcome as both a big payday for him and a vengeful act of love for his beloved Frost. Volkoff and Frost’s creation of their Intersect was made possible by a treacherous member of the CIA’s Intersect project. Desperate for money, he sold them the Intersect designs. After receiving them, Volkoff and Frost disposed of the traitor as a loose end through a death made to look like an accident. Now that Frost knows about the special DNA markers, those who will be told the dark Intersect will be injected with those markers as well so they’ll be protected from suffering any negative side-effects of their product. That is why Frost wanted to know what made Chuck unique in his possession of the Intersect. She wanted to replicate the special element to make the dark Intersect more effective as a weapon and tantalizing to buyers. Frost tells Chuck all of this to twist the knife in him before having him killed which she was planning to do immediately. But Frost finds herself conflicted over Chuck dying after he confesses to her that she is his mother. Frost doesn’t know whether to believe him.

    Back at the computer store, Casey and Morgan expose Greta as Decker’s mole through a trap they set for her. Alex volunteers to be the bait, acting like she possessed important information Casey gave her that Decker may want to know. She got a rush out of the experience and the way she handled it made Casey proud as her father. Meanwhile, Sarah breaks into the facility where Chuck is being held and gets him out. When Chuck is presented with the opportunity of returning home, he refuses to accept it. He doesn’t want to leave Sarah behind. But Sarah tells him he has to because if he doesn’t, Decker will assume the rescue didn’t go according to plan and may pressure Casey into doing his dirty work instead. Sarah promises Chuck that she’ll stop Volkoff and what he and Frost are planning, and promises to protect Frost despite the deal she made with Decker. Besides, she needs Chuck on the outside to help get her and Frost out when the time comes. Chuck reluctantly gives into Sarah’s insistence for him to go to Burbank. The episode ends with them sharing an emotional goodbye but Sarah promises Chuck that she will see him again and go back to the life they’ve built together.

  3. Justin says:

    I’m still working on the next four episodes.

    • Justin says:

      4×10: The episode opens with Chuck’s return home. His friends and family are ecstatic to see him again. But Chuck doesn’t share their joy when Sarah is off, putting herself in danger for his quest to get his mother back. Chuck refuses to sit on the sidelines in the meantime and is desperate to do anything productive that could help quicken or secure Sarah’s return. He joins in on Casey and Morgan’s interrogation of Greta. Greta is tight-lipped until her intense fear of spiders is discovered. That fear is used against her to make her talk. Greta admits to being Decker’s mole and planting listening bugs in the store which locations she divulges. Decker wanted Greta to keep an eye on Chuck and the gang, to see if they make any further contact with Frost or come across something that could help Decker track her down. But recently she has been given additional orders. She is to keep a closer eye than usual on Chuck and the others’ activities until Sarah returns alive and successful in her mission or is confirmed dead and her mission unsuccessful. Chuck demands to know why Decker wants such an increase in attention until then. Greta claims she hasn’t been told why. She can only suspect Decker is planning something for Chuck, Morgan, Casey, and Sarah.

      Greta’s suspicion fills Chuck with dread and motivates him to finally find out where Beckman is. She knows things about Decker and some of them could pinpoint what it is exactly he is planning. Ellie drops a bombshell on Chuck when she reveals to him that she knows where Beckman is and has known for weeks. Between the events of 4×07 and 4×08, Beckman was being hunted by the CIA. The CIA was keeping it a secret so no word of it will reach the attention of the public. Beckman went on the run because she refused to be held in a detention facility until the Frost situation was resolved. One of the Orion operatives crossed paths with Beckman and Ellie was informed of the incident. She ordered the Orion operatives to take Beckman to a secure location for her protection. Ellie wanted to tell Chuck about Beckman but Beckman wouldn’t let her. She felt that the fewer people knew of her location, the safer those people would be as well as herself. Ellie didn’t turn to Beckman for any information that could help prevent Volkoff from taking her brother or get him back after he was taken. But Beckman provided Ellie with very little useful information which Ellie tried to make the most of subtly. To help her brother, Ellie begins to arrange a meeting between him and Beckman that is under the radar.

      Sarah’s absence, Chuck’s reappearance, and Greta’s absence are increasing the suspicions of the computer store staff. To ease some of those suspicions and to give Decker the illusion that nothing has been compromised, Greta is released back into the store’s working environment. But she is told to give Decker only false information from this point on or Decker will know how she cracked under pressure. Greta dreadfully knows from personal experience that Decker doesn’t forgive failure. Meanwhile, Frost and Volkoff have people hunting after Sarah, aware that she didn’t come back with Chuck to Burbank. They want to use Sarah as leverage against Chuck to lure him back into their clutches. Volkoff wants Frost to have the opportunity to ruthlessly exact her revenge against the young man. Frost wants that but she also wants to know more of what Chuck meant by claiming that she is his mother. She wants to know why he said that.

      Chuck has his meeting with Beckman, expressing how happy he is to see her and Beckman expressing the same. Chuck tells Beckman about what’s going on with him and Sarah such as the deal Sarah made with Decker to save him and the mission she has been forced to undertake. When he tells Beckman about what Greta admitted to him, Beckman express great worry for him and those close to them. She tells Chuck that ever since he, Casey, and Sarah cut ties with the CIA, some of her superiors were itching to execute a kill order on all three of them including anyone else who have knowledge of the Intersect for the sake of national security. Beckman has been fighting to keep that from happening with the help of her other superiors who were against the extreme measure. But since the order to apprehend Frost was changed to a kill order, Beckman’s allies in the fight to keep her former team alive have been rapidly dwindling. She suspects the CIA Director of being behind the wavering support, paving the way for the passing of the very action she has stood against. It is very likely Decker may have been chosen to spearhead it but is postponing it long enough for Sarah to complete his other objective. Chuck is horrified by Beckman’s revelation and must now think of a way to protect those close to him yet again. But this time, the threat comes from the head of one of the largest intelligence organizations in the world.

      The episode ends with Sarah visiting Frost and Volkoff to their surprise with an active bomb strapped to her chest. She tells them, “Let’s talk.”

      atcDave, I’m sorry it took me so long to post this episode. And I noticed you haven’t responded to the previous episode, 4×09.

      • Justin says:

        Oh, I forgot to add this to 4×10: on top of everything else, Chuck and his friends have to deal with the store going through the craziness of Black Friday.

      • atcDave says:

        I thought we lost you there Justin, it has been a while!

        I like the team against the CIA, and I like this use of Greta. I’m not as nuts about Sarah being off on her own, that’s just not a favorite theme of mine.

        I’m still really enjoying reading this, I look forward to seeing how things play out. Especially look forward to the downfall of Decker!

      • Justin says:

        Well, Chuck and Sarah’s separation is only temporary and though they are separated, they are still working as a team with Sarah working on getting Frost back for Chuck, and Chuck working on making sure she comes back safe by dealing with the threat of Decker and the CIA.

        I’m thinking of ending my AU version of Chuck with 4×13 unless I come up with something that can drive the second half of the season without feeling dragged on.

      • Justin says:

        atcDave, just wanted to you know that I’m still working on 4×10. May be post it in a day or two. It’s becoming difficult trying to figure out a way to resolve all these threads I’ve put in motion. Do you have any ideas that may help?

      • Justin says:

        I meant 4×11, not 4×10.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve still been thinking about this on and off. I don’t have any great ideas for you. But I think the burning questions that need to be answered are; if Mary and Volkoff are pure evil, or if this is another variation of Intersect corruption like we saw on the show. Then we need to figure out if either can be saved, or if it will be more of an ultimate sacrifice sort of story.
        Obviously it needs to wrap up with Sarah at least getting out. Bonus points if Chuck gets a team involved in a big rescue.

        Decker’s involvement needs to be exposed too. I’m not sure if you want him to be the big bad behind the cover up or if he’s just a tool. But I could easily see Chuck making his corruption public, or at least known to his supperiors.

        Sorry, probably not much help. Hopefully you’ve still got some twists in mind!

      • Justin says:

        Here’s 4×11 (sorry for the delay. suffering from cable issues):

        The episode picks up where 4×10 left off with Sarah confronting Frost and Volkoff with an active bomb strapped to her chest. She tells them that she wants to make a deal. Chuck told her all about their master plan which she offers to help with. Sarah has extensively detailed knowledge of what measures the CIA will take to prevent the threat of the rogue Intersects. She will share that knowledge with Frost and Volkoff if they stay away from Chuck and anyone else close to him. There will be no acts of retribution against any of them. Frost is puzzled by Sarah’s offer to help them while Volkoff finds it excitingly curious. At this moment, Sarah reminds him of a younger Frost. Volkoff asks Sarah why she has a bomb on her person if she only intends to help them. Sarah says the bomb is insurance. If she gets killed, tortured, or rendered unconscious, the bomb will detect a change in her heart beat and go off. The bomb will go off if any attempt is made to tamper with it and if Sarah suspects Frost and Volkoff aren’t keeping up their end of the deal. Volkoff decides to indulge in Sarah by accepting her assistance.

        Meanwhile, Chuck ponders on how to neutralize the CIA threat posed to him and the people close to him. Beckman suggest that he be more observant of any new people in his life or the lives of his friends and family. Any of them can be an assassin Decker has hired in his operation of elimination. Knowing Decker, Beckman thinks he has already planted assassins close to home who will be alerted when the time is right. When Chuck returns home, he arranges a group meeting with Morgan, Casey, Ellie, and Devon, asking them about any new people who appeared in their lives recently. A list is composed of those who have the most frequent appearances. Chuck then comes up with a plan to bait the assassins into exposing themselves so they can be neutralized. The plan begins with Greta being used to make Decker think Sarah is on her way back to Burbank with an uncertain mission status. Greta would claim that she overheard it among Chuck, Morgan, and Casey. The plan begins to be working when Decker starts putting the assassins on alert while he investigates whether Sarah’s mission was a success or a failure. Chuck and the others go on the lookout for any changes in the behavior of any of the new people in their lives.

        Paranoia-fueled hilarities occur and in the midst of them, Casey’s ex-wife Kathleen visits the computer store. She is tired of Alex’s secrecy which has been going on for many months. She believes the store her daughter’s boyfriend works at is at the heart of it since Alex has been trying to keep her from stopping by there. Casey notices Kathleen and begins to hide himself from her to keep her from ever knowing that he is still alive. Morgan and Alex try to distract Kathleen from learning the truth. At the same time, Big Mike and the rest of the computer staff have reached their limit. They are tied of the secrets and lies being told to them and demand to be told the truth. To show how serious they are, they refuse to do one ounce of work while they are at the store. The staff’s protest creates complications within the store’s business and Chuck’s plan.

        When Decker finds out that Sarah hasn’t really returned to Burbank, he realizes Chuck and the others must have figured out what he is up to and decides to immediately spring the assassins into action. Because of her betrayal, Decker adds Greta to the assassins’ list of targets. To survive, Greta must fight side by side with Chuck and the others. Without giving any major details, Chuck tells the computer store staff part of the truth to gain their help in fending off the assassins. He tells them that there are bad guys after him and his family, that they are the reason why he and Sarah have been absent separately, and have sent people to hurt him and a number of those he cares about deeply. During the fighting against the assassins, Casey and Kathleen cross paths which leaves the latter shocked by the former’s appearance.

        By the end of the episode, the assassins are effectively tranquilized, rounded up, and placed in a secured area of the store’s basement. Chuck contacts Decker to deliver him a serious threat. Chuck threatens to expose the tranquilized assassins to the public, creating a big stink for the CIA, if the Director of CIA himself doesn’t meet with him immediately. Chuck wants to get to the bottom of the Director’s issue against him and his family to put an end to it once and for all. While waiting for a response to his ultimatum, Chuck receives an unexpected call from Sarah. Hearing her voice fills him with overwhelming relief.

      • atcDave says:

        I love the action sequence at the store, that’s a lot of fun. Especially good to see Decker taken down a notch.

        Still not nuts about the Volkoff side. Sarah off on her own too long, and the bomb thing. I’m ready to see this wrapped up!

      • Justin says:

        Heads up, atcDave: it is going to take a few days to finish up 4×12 and 4×13 which I will be posting at the same time. So be prepared.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m on the edge of my seat!

      • Justin says:

        AtcDave: as my work on the next two episodes continue, I’m conflicted over whether to end AU Chuck with 4×13 or 4×24. What do you think, based on your experience reading Season 4 so far? Better to end early or later?

      • atcDave says:

        Justin I’ve enjoyed your AU; even when its frustrated me! So my pick would always be to just keep going.
        But you have to do what YOU want. If you have an idea, or the drive to keep going; by all means do so. You have an eager audience right here. But don’t make it a chore or burden. If you’re running out of ideas (or time!), wrap it up sooner.
        I appreciate all the time you’ve put in, your dedication to keeping this up, and the creativity we’ve all seen. And that’s true whatever you decide.

      • Justin says:

        Thank you very much for that, atcDave. And you being frustrated at times shows that I’m doing a good job getting to you emotionally as a storyteller.

      • Justin says:

        I know I said that I was going to post 4×12 and 4×13 at the same time. But I know how long you have been waiting for a new episode so I decided to post 4×12 now and then I’ll post 4×13 hopefully later today. I consider 4×12 to be one of the best episodes I’ve ever written.
        4×12: It is revealed that Sarah is making her call to Chuck from a room Volkoff assigned her onboard his ship, the Contessa. The Contessa is being used as a mobile base of operations. Sarah’s room is under guard by one of Volkoff’s top men, the Gobbler. Sarah is using a concealed cell phone assigned with a signal scrambler to contact Chuck. She informs her beloved boyfriend of the recent progression of her mission like her deception as an ally to Frost and Volkoff’s plan. Sarah has given them some tips of intel to show that she is serious about doing what needs to be done as a cost to protecting her loved ones. The intel is currently going through the process of being checked out to see if it is genuine. The intel she gave Frost and Volkoff is accurate but Sarah plans to finish her mission before they will be able to do any serious harm with what they’ve learned. Chuck freaks out over Sarah carrying a bomb but Sarah tells him that the bomb is actually an EMP device of limited range. What is keeping it from activating it is her even heartbeat. It is her intention to use the EMP device once she is in the room where Frost and Volkoff’s Intersect project is taking place. That room is located somewhere on the Contessa but Volkoff has been keeping her away from it. He remains suspicious of her, an attitude Frost shares. Sarah is relying on Chuck to provide her with an exit strategy once the mission is completed. The phone she is using is equipped with a tracking device with a specific signal. She will activate it when the time is right. Chuck assures her he will get her out. After the call, he has Ellie organize an Orion operative team to rescue Sarah once they receive the tracking device’s signal. The team will also place Frost somewhere where the CIA can’t get to her.

        Ellie and Devon are staying at the computer store which is closed to the public. At the store, Casey, Morgan, and members of the store’s staff are taking turns looking after the assassins. Like Ellie and Devon, Alex and her bewildered mother Kathleen are there for the sake of their safety. Casey and Kathleen are getting reacquainted. Casey told his ex how and why he faked his death, and why it was necessary for her not to know the truth. While happy to see Casey alive, Kathleen finds his story and the entire situation she is in too much to process. Big Mike along with the rest of the computer store staff experiences a similar feeling about their current circumstances. But Morgan has been acting as their guide, relying on his own personal experience of the spy world which he isn’t above boasting. Chuck is staying at his home as he waits to hear back from the CIA.

        Back at the Contessa, Volkoff schemes for a way to disarm the bomb Sarah carries. Once he has achieved that, he plans to use Sarah as a guinea pig for his Intersect project. The project has been progressing due to the development of the special DNA markers Stephen invented for Chuck and Ellie. Frost finds herself distracted by a strange dream she had. When she talks about it with Volkoff, the dream is revealed to be the latest in a series. They started slowly after she felt she recognized Chuck and Sarah’s home like she been there before in 4×06. The dreams are usually composed of random bits and pieces of a life she doesn’t recognize but feels familiar to her somehow. Being a mother to a boy and a girl, being a wife to a man who she remembers having shot in the chest last year. She didn’t pay these dreams any mind until Chuck told her that she is his mother. Since then, the dreams have been becoming more vivid. Volkoff brush them off as the effect of stress on his beloved partner and suggest that she relaxes with the endgame being so close despite the inconvenience Sarah poses. Frost remains perturbed about her dreams and wants to talk to Sarah about them, her being Chuck’s girlfriend. But the guard outside of Sarah’s room refuses to let her in without an order from his employer and Volkoff refuses to give that order. He views this business with the dreams as a distraction Frost needs to be rid of.

        Meanwhile, a CIA team shows up at Chuck’s doorstep. They’ve been sent to take him to the Director who he demanded to see. Chuck told Morgan and Casey that if they don’t hear back from him soon, they must go through with outing the assassins to the media. Chuck meets with the CIA Director (played by Joe Morton who I love in Scandal as Olivia Pope’s dastardly father) and learns some details about what happened to his mother to turn her into Frost. Many years ago, Ted Roark crossed paths with Volkoff through business dealings. Back then, Roark made his own personal deal with Volkoff. Knowing of Volkoff’s reputation, Roark wanted his help to get rid of Mary Bartowski. She was the one thing Roark desired to have but was unable to take for himself. He wanted to get back at his rival Stephen for having it. In exchange for Volkoff helping him, Roark offers to share some technologies with the arms dealer that could be used to profit his shady business. Volkoff agreed to the deal and arranged for Mary to be quietly abducted from the lives of her family. Afterwards, he used an advanced brainwashing device on her to turn into Frost, the kind of woman he could fall for. Volkoff was feeling lonely back then and wanted some company in his life. On top of brainwashing her, Volkoff had Frost’s appearance surgically altered so all outward traces of her former self would be gone. But the brainwashing device used on Frost wasn’t 100% effective. There were gaps in Frost’s memory it couldn’t fill. So Volkoff had the idea planted in Frost’s mind that the CIA did something to her that caused the memory gaps. That idea fueled Frost’s vendetta against the CIA which led to the creation of the Ring. She wanted to wage war against the intelligence organization for making her feel so incomplete. The Director reveals to Chuck that the brainwashing device Volkoff used to change Mary into Frost was the product of a CIA project. The project was a predecessor to the Intersect program. It was scrapped 30 years ago due to budget cuts. The brainwashing device made its way through the black market until it fell into Volkoff’s hands. The CIA Director wants to clean up this entire mess with Frost because if it ever came out that CIA technology resulted in the creation of a ruthless international criminal, it would severely damage the reputation of his organization. The Director can’t have that and is willing to do anything to prevent that worst case scenario, even confining and eliminating anyone who knows the truth or who has come close to it. Frost needs to be eliminated as she is the ultimate proof of the brainwashing device’s corrupt use. Aware of how serious the Director is about the lengths he is willing to go, Chuck comes up with a plan. He tells the Director what Frost and Volkoff’s master plan is and how they come to obtain the plans for the Intersect. But he makes the Director think that the traitor responsible for selling the plans is still alive. Chuck doesn’t know the traitor’s identity but Frost and Volkoff do. While not caring what happens to Volkoff, Chuck does care about what happens to his mother so he wants the Director to cancel the kill order on her, himself, and other people he care about. He also wants Frost to be given professional help to free her from her brainwashed personality. In exchange for that, he will have Frost reveal what she knows to the CIA. But if this deal isn’t made, Frost will be remain at the location she will be taken to which is beyond the CIA’s reach, leaving the traitor with continued freedom to roam. The Director doesn’t like Chuck thinking he can push him around. But he wants this traitor found and dealt with before the Intersect program is further compromised. So he reluctantly agrees to Chuck’s terms and Chuck promises to inform him once he receives word from Sarah that she has Frost with her. The Director warns Chuck that if Frost isn’t in Sarah’s custody, the kill order will resume until it is fully completed. After the meeting, he gives Morgan and Casey the go-ahead to release the assassins to the CIA team sent to collect them. The computer store’s lockdown comes to an end with the store’s staff wondering to go from here with everything they now know about their owners.

        At the Contessa, Sarah manages to escape her room by breaking into the vent system. While going through the vents, she fights to maintain her sense of calm to keep her heartbeat leveled and the EMP bomb from activating. But she has activated her tracking device. Receiving its signal, the Orion rescue team starts to race to Sarah’s location. Frost discovers Sarah isn’t her room after tranquilizing the Gobbler to get him out of the way of seeing her for answers. Frost sounds the alert and heads towards the room of the Intersect project, suspecting that is where Sarah is heading. Sarah finds that room which she breaks into, planting herself among the prototype Intersects. Frost reaches the room and confronts Sarah with a gun pointed at her but hesitates to use it because of Sarah’s bomb. Frost realizes this is what Sarah has been after this whole time and asks if Chuck telling her that he is his mother was some kind of trick to distract her. She starts to wonder if Chuck or Sarah did something to mess with her head like she believes the CIA did. Sarah confirms to Frost that what Chuck told her is the truth and it’s time for her to come home to her children. That is when Sarah raises her heartbeat, activating the EMP device. The EMP blast fried all the prototype Intersects in the room, leaving the rogue Intersect project dead in the water. It also knocked out all the power in this section of the ship and the signal of Sarah’s tracking device. But the Orion rescue team has already reached her location and has begun a firefight with the crew of the Contessa. Volkoff is furious over this intrusion of unwelcomed guests and, as much as he loves this ship with its ice cream parlor, the time has come to abandon it. But before he does, he starts looking for Frost to take her with him. The force of the EMP blast briefly knocked Sarah and Frost unconscious but they quickly wake up. With the bomb no longer a threat, Frost engages in hand-to-hand combat with Sarah. They are nearly matched in fighting skills and Frost almost gets the upper hand on Sarah until a member of the Orion rescue team arrived to stop her. Sarah orders the team member to tranquilize Frost since she isn’t interested in coming with them willingly. Sarah and the team member who’s carrying Frost rejoin the rest of the Orion rescue team. Volkoff learns of Frost being taken by Sarah and the Orion team. He is too late to stop it as Sarah and the Orion team leave the Contessa but not before leaving behind a series of explosives onboard that blows up a huge chunk of the ship and causes it to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Sarah thinks Volkoff didn’t survive the sinking of the ship and believes her mission is fully successful. Chuck receives word of the mission’s success and is immediately transported to the base where Sarah and Frost have been taken to. Once there, Chuck and Sarah have a passionate reunion. Ellie who’s been over-stressed by recent events was allowing herself to finally relax after receiving the news of her mother’s rescue. But then her water breaks. She tells Devon who is utterly shocked by the timing of something that has been months in the making.

        The episode ends with Volkoff still alive and holding onto one of the floating pieces of his cherished Contessa while a team of his men flies to him by helicopter after receiving the signal of his tracking device. Vengeance is heavy on his mind.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow! No doubt Justin that was best yet. Very exciting stuff. I love how the Mary story plays out, and having Sarah as the big hero always works for me.
        Leaving Volkoff, and a pretty contemptible director of the CIA out there is a nice set-up for your finale.

        Thanks, that was really a lot of fun!

      • Justin says:

        4×13: Devon races Ellie to the hospital while trying to get a hold of Chuck on the phone. But he keeps failing to get through to him. On the Orion base, Chuck visits Frost in custody accompanied by Sarah. Chuck reveals to his mother the truth of who’s really behind her memory gaps. But Frost has difficulty believing what he is saying. She has known Volkoff for decades and can’t accept that he did such a thing to her. She remains conflicted about being Chuck’s mother with her dreams leaning one way and her distrust of Chuck and Sarah leaning the other. Chuck tries to at least get Frost reveal the traitor she and Volkoff used and had killed months ago. He tells her about the deal he made with the CIA Director on her behalf and others’. But Frost is tight-lipped on the subject of the traitor. Afterwards, Chuck contacts the CIA Director to inform him that he has Frost. When the Director asks him if Frost revealed the name of the traitor yet, Chuck t says that he is working on that. The CIA Director warns Chuck that he is under a ticking clock. The sooner he uncovers the identity of the traitor, the safer he, his friends, and his family would be. In case Chuck fails, the Director has Decker assembling a new group of assassins more capable than the last ones.

        Volkoff refuses to eat or sleep until he tracks down where Sarah and her team have taken Frost. Once he gets Frost back, he intends to kill Sarah, and everyone else involved in the Contessa attack and who Chuck holds dear. He’ll kill Chuck last to put him out of mercy.

        Devon is freaking out as Ellie goes through labor. Morgan and Casey try to be of help in Chuck’s absence while dealing with the doubts of the computer store staff. They aren’t sure about going back to work after everything they’ve been through the past couples of episodes. Greta feels lost about where she should go after going against Decker and the CIA. Casey gives Greta some words of wisdom to think about.

        After tracking down Frost’s location, Volkoff and his team launch an assault on the Orion base. Chuck and Sarah fight to keep Volkoff from getting his hands on Frost, taking her with them as they go from one part of the base to the other. An adrenaline-fueled game of cat and mouse ensues. Frost can see how strongly Chuck wants to protect her which has her wondering about there being grains of truth in what he told her earlier. The fight to evade Volkoff and his men comes to a head when Frost slips away from Chuck and Sarah to be with Volkoff. Volkoff is happy to see her again but during their reunion, Frost grabs hold of Volkoff’s gun and uses it to shoot him between the eyes. Then she gives his men the order to stand down. Chuck and Sarah are surprised by what Frost did. Frost gives Chuck Volkoff’s gun and the name of the traitor he wanted. At that moment, Chuck sees in Frost something of her old self that gives her some hope of getting her back fully. Chuck then shares the information he gained from her with the CIA Director. The Director orders Decker to stand down on the need for the assassins. The Director works on making arrangements for the help Frost needs.

        With the Orion base safe again and Frost being more willing staying there for the time being, Chuck and Sarah return to Burbank. They learn about Ellie being in the hospital from members of the computer store staff who have been waiting for their return. It seems the computer store staff isn’t ready to part ways with their bosses. Chuck and Sarah immediately head over to the hospital. They are there just in time to greet Ellie’s newborn baby. Ellie and Devon are tearing up about having their child finally in their hands. Ellie is glad to see Sarah again and deeply thanks her for rescuing her brother and her mother who she wishes could be here. But Chuck promises she will in time with little difficulty than before. While watching the joyful moment between Chuck, Sarah, Ellie, and Devon, Casey and Morgan are met by Alex who came to the hospital to offer his father an invitation. Kathleen has invited him to dinner to further catch up. Casey warmly accepts the invite. The episode ends with Morgan, Alex, and Casey leaving the hospital. On his way out, Casey notices Greta hiding out at the hospital in disguise. She is looking out for Ellie and Devon just in case the CIA changes its mind. Casey sees that Greta has made her choice.

        So, what do you think? Can you leave with this being the end of Chuck? I still haven’t quite decided on making this THE END.

      • atcDave says:

        Very satisfying turn of events. I like how Frost finally comes around.

        You tied up most elements nicely. That could work as an end. As I said before, continuing is all up to you Justin. I’ve enjoyed reading this a lot, and would look forward to whatever you choose to do in the future. I’m really impressed at how thoroughly you wove canon elements into an all new story. More would be fun!

      • Justin says:

        atcDave, I do have some ideas for the second half of Season 4 if I choose to do the next 11 episodes to wrap up my AU Chuck: Frost’s complicated road to recovery, serious consequences of Volkoff’s downfall, a fight against the CIA’s Intersect project, and the CIA Director being the new Big Bad. What do you think?

        And will your next alternative post cover the whole second half of Season 4 or just some of the episodes so far?

      • atcDave says:

        That sounds great Justin.
        I’ll shoot for a couple of shorter alternatives posts, maybe one through Murrrder, and then one for the end of the season.

      • Justin says:

        Okay, keep an eye out for future episodes down the line.

  4. Thanks for the mention, Dave. Season 4 is very different from Season 3, and I have to change the way the nine2five series works to accommodate. Where S3 had a strong story with terrible episodes, S4 has some great episodes with no overall story. So my version of S4 will focus more on the spaces in between the parts we saw in the show. (This is sort of what I tried to do with my story Not This Time, but I’ll try to keep this one more upbeat.) We weren’t shown much about Mary early on, so I’ll be filling in the missing pieces so that the scenes they gave us do make some kind of sense. I’ll also be rearranging the order a good bit. S4 was really two stories in one season, so I’ll be merging the back 11 with the front 13, with the ultimate takedown of Volkoff and the return of Frost as the finale it should have been. I just finished the Suitcase, so next ep will feature a young woman named Vivian.
    My take on S3 was always that Chuck and Sarah had to grow toward each other. The showrunners did this badly by driving them apart. In my S3 they went too far toward each other and had to draw back. The first season of nine2five focused on Chuck, overshooting and then having to put Carmichael back in his box. This season will be Sarah’s turn. I just hope I can make it all work.

  5. oldresorter says:

    I am content with season four as is. Not that I wouldn’t prefer things different, but s3 (and s5’s last two eps) were such a miserable story, that I felt compelled to change as much as a could. S4, like all tv, I’d make a few differenct choices, but s4 largely left me satisfied and entertained. If I ever get through with my next Charles’s tale, I have an idea for a different sort of s1 thru s3 that would leave s4 largely as is. In that setting, my feeling about s5 is 8 great eps, with a two part, 5 episode movie which was a very artsy, hate letter to the fans.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I’m definitely happy with S4 as is Jason. But that doesn’t mean some different twists wouldn’t have been fun too!

    • uplink2 says:

      OR I agree with much of that. My only real issues with the front part of S4 are that I really think they should have had Orion and Mary in contact with each other over those 20 years. It makes no sense to me first how Mary knew about what was in Orion’s lair and what the PSP meant. No one has ever given me a reasonable explanation for the PSP and what Mary said when she showed it to him beyond simply a plot device to setup the Intersect-less arc.

      My issues with season 4 show up more in the back 11 with the one clunker episode of the season Muuurder and how lame a villain Vivian was. Plus Agent X is an issue I’m sure we will discuss at length.

      But I am curious about your comments about season 5 being 8 great eps and a two part 5 episode hate letter to the fans. I assume you are talking about the first 3 and the last 2. Morgansect and the memory loss storyline. But in those other 8 I wouldn’t rate them all as great. Certainly not Curse and I hated Santa Suit on so many levels. Business Trip and Baby do rise to greatness but Bo was so incredibly creepy with douche bag Morgan having sex with Bo Derek who was old enough to be his mother.

      • oldresorter says:

        No, The first eight and the last 5 as the movie. The first eight makes a very nice arc, the 6th and 7th eps suck like all 2nd and 3rd last eps in a chuck arc, and the ending of the baby ep makes for a perfect ending for the show. The next three eps are fine (9,10,11) except they set up the miserable amnesia story, and the ambiguoous C series ending scene on the beach.

        I don’t like Morgansect, nor do I dislike it, but I like all four of those eps, alot, I simply ignore Morgan, like I did the other 90 or so eps.

      • uplink2 says:

        Fair enough. I just thought Morgansect was really just dumb. Another example where certain things appealed to Fedak much more than they did to the audience and me certainly. I did not see the humor in it but I will admit it did at least have a purpose to set up the finale story. I haven’t rewatched those episodes even once so when we get there it will be a first for me and I’m curious how my reaction will change if at all. As DR once said for a “Cliffhanger” at the end of season 4 it was a complete zero as far as generating any interest going in to season 5 for me. In my mind the worst of the season finale, what’s coming up next season cliffys. Loved the episode until that scene in Castle.

        As far as the last part goes, I’m sure we will talk more about it when we get there. But my feeling is I’m going to dislike creepy Morgan/Bo a lot more this time knowing the screentime that little Fedak/Schwartz childhood fantasy took away from healing and making Sarah whole again.

  6. BillAtWork says:

    It’s hard for me to say what I would do differently about S4. Because in my mind, what became S4 should have been S3. Honeymooners should have been the S3 premier. Had it been, my thinking is that the show is still on the air.

    But if we have to accept that S3 happened, the biggest change I would make is Mary. I never have bought that she was on a 20 year mission, became the right arm of the most evil man in the world, them almost instantly became loving mother and grandmother.

    So I would either have her be truly evil, like in Cost of Love. Or there would be another part of the story that had yet to be revealed that explained things. My favorite was that Frost and Orion were fighting a secret war, knew that their enemies would use the kids against them, so they left and looked after them from afar. I think all of the things that we find so puzzling about Mary could have been explained if she was plotting all along with Steven to lead Volkoff away from the kids. And now that Steven is gone, she’s lost her wizard. She needs a new one – like Chuck.

    • atcDave says:

      I definitely would have liked either of those versions.

      I’ve said many times I think Honeymooners needed to be 3.01 instead of 3.14. Once we get to S4, I can accept the choices made a little easier (okay, A LOT easier), but I do think it would have been a good idea to invest just a little more into Mary’s story. She does go a little too quickly from unclear and mysterious loyalties, to just happily returning home from the mission.
      I could imagine Frost actually being rogue and becoming Volkoff’s right hand. Who then betrays Volkoff rather than hurt her son or daughter-in-law. But then she has to live on the run, off the grid. Maybe that involves some old Orion protocol for escape, and maybe she can secretly drop by and visit her family on occasion. But she would remain on the run from the CIA.
      I can see how it all would have just demanded too much time from Mary’s story for the show. But it does seem like something was sold short.

  7. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Push Mix (4.13) | Chuck This

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