Chuck vs the CAT Squad (4.15)

We get a second stand alone episode in a row with CAT Squad.  This is the third visit of Sarah’s infamous friend Carina Miller, and we meet two other old compatriots, plus a villain from Sarah’s past.  Sounds like a lot of fun!

After the jump we’ll discuss.

CAT Squad seems to rank as a middle of the pack sort of episode.  Even if it doesn’t quite rank among the very best of Chuck, it still contains a number of memorable scenes and manages to be a lot fun throughout.  That sounds like a definition of average to me…

Its easy to find what’s fun and right about this episode.  It clearly presents itself a Charlie’s Angels homage/parody, at least in Morgan’s mind.  Chuck is trying so hard to help, its beginning to seriously get on Sarah’s nerves.  But its worth it to get some serious Sarah/Ellie bonding time.  Really a nice little scene as Ellie acknowledges an annoying Chuckism, that ends with Sarah affirming her love regardless.

Still, the initial reunion and morning after (afternoon after?) are laugh out loud funny.  Sarah clearly seems to be the mature, sensible one on the team; but its hard to know if her fears are well founded.  Carina’s scenes with Morgan are funny in a most uncomfortable sort of way, so pretty much the same as they were in Wookiee.  But there’s a significant difference this time, Morgan is no longer pathetic, he’s actually a pretty decent guy.  He tries to do the right thing and make everyone happy, even if Carina does have the heart of a bridge troll.  The only thing I would have liked to see different about this part of the story would be for Carina to figure out that Alex is Casey’s daughter.  Now that could have led to a whole new level of mischief making.

Back to the “A” plot,  we see the tragic demise of Sarah’s Porsche, which kicks the actual mission part of the story into gear.   There are accusations and suspicions to go around.   The party in Rio has an overtly Charlie’s Angels look to it.  I also find it interesting that Casey seems a little jealous of Chuck’s capabilities and good fortune.  The highlight here is the CATs walking into a trap; that Sarah manages to totally reverse onto Gaez.  Unfortunately, Chuck chooses this moment to “drop” in from the overhead skylight.  Funny scene, the bad guys are all neutralized, but uh, Sarah’s a little ticked.  Chuck’s help cost the chance for some intel, or so Sarah believes.  Sarah has so long been patient and easy going in the face of all of Chuck’s antics.  Not this time.  Maybe she’s feeling the pressure to look good in front of her old team.  Or for Chuck to look good to her old team.  Suffice to say, this is not her finest moment.

So next, Chuck really gets to be her very own baggage handler…

Funny.  This is undeniably an uncomfortable scene.  But the payoff starts almost immediately.  When Sarah and Zondra head to the dojo to sort things out, they start putting some pieces together, thanks in part to Chuck’s research, and realize Amy is the mole. Too late.

The action sequence in the Buy More is classic Chuck.  He manages to be capable and heroic, right up until he won’t hurt a woman.  And Sarah is very worried through it all; and she forgives Chuck while pointedly refusing to do so.  Cute.  That makes me laugh every time.  The scene ends with a nice hero pose by the new three lady CAT Squad.  We had to know there could be only three.

And that takes us to the big party.  Chuck and Sarah are clearly happy again, and Sarah gives a very nice speech.  Even better, Sarah and Ellie are bonding as friends.

The “B” plot plays out to the end as well.  I would call it uneventful, except Carina does cause an amazing amount of mischief.  This episode does nicely close out a story that started way back in Wookiee (1.04).

And that wraps another episode.  I think I’d call it a lot of fun, but well short of the best.

~ Dave
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vlcsnap-2013-11-06-14h24m18s205Dave’s done a great job of summarizing Chuck vs. The CAT Squad, especially as an homage to Charlies Angels. We’ve seen them do that kind of thing before, particularly with Chuck and Sarah as Jonathan and Jennifer or sometimes as Max and 99. That’s fun. My pick was always to see them as Nick and Nora.

In that light, an homage to the ’70s classic wasn’t a half bad idea, and certainly I always appreciated a break from the hot and heavy relationship angst and spy-drama.

Still, you know me. I like to dig a little deeper into the episodes. Also, didn’t we just have one of those breaks the previous week, with Roan Montgomery spoofing every James Bond movie you ever saw? Was there anything more meaningful here?

Of course there was. It was in Sarah getting all antsy about Chuck pushing about her history with The CATs, Amy (Mircea Monroe), Carina (one of our favorites, Mini Anden) especially Zondra (Mercedes Masohn). The first time through I found Sarah’s snapping a Chuck for trying to be helpful a little hard to watch.

Uh, just a moment. Isn’t this just more of the same “Chuck and Sarah are crap communicators” stuff we’ve been seeing all season?

This is different

This is different

Actually, no. Chuck and Sarah have a memorable bit of tension, but it’s a bit different in nature from what we had last week, when the couple attempted to seduce each other into getting what they wanted. It’s different even from First Fight, which was about Chuck’s desire to be a spy and Sarah’s desire to be a normal human being. (Note the emphasis on who they wanted to be, as opposed to what they wanted to do.) At least Chuck and Sarah seemed to get over this one quickly enough.

In fact, I think we have to be more concerned about Morgan and Alex.

Really, Morgan?

Really, Morgan?

This time, it’s about something most of us have been through, living with a human being. You know the type. Human beings are people who makes mistakes and sometimes steps on your toes. It’s about forgiveness and recognizing their humanity.

I keep my belongings with me at all times
I know what I need, I know what is mine
I keep my belongings with me at all times
Until I can carry no more

And sometimes I crowd you and step on your toes
Sometimes I will go out in yesterday’s clothes
But I show you a sight that no one else knows
And hope that you’ll carry me on

There’s so many times in this episode where reconciliations are made, forgiveness is happily granted, new levels of closeness are reached and they’re not only between Chuck and Sarah. There’s Sarah and Zondra, Ellie and Sarah and not least of all, Morgan and Alex. What started off as a silly little treat becomes just a little more important and meaningful when you look just a little deeper.

Of course, in the end like comedy should make you smile more than make you get all somber and philosophical. So oh yes, forgive yourself too for being human and needing to ask for help sometimes. Sometimes people like to help. In CAT Squad, a party at the end, after all. And that means it’s time to celebrate being human.

You’re like a puzzle that can’t be solved,
Missing pieces never fill the gaps…
You got the salt and I got the wound,
But, all you gotta do is ask…

Please ask for help

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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338 Responses to Chuck vs the CAT Squad (4.15)

  1. CaptMediocre says:

    It’s funny how after all that happened in S3 that TPTB would feel it necessary to start to pull the fans down this same tired road again with the Sarah character in this episode. I know it really only starts in this episode, and ends later on, but to cause the fans to again star to question Sarah’s mental wellbeing was starting to grate. I mean really on what planet – oops excuse me – in what universe does one replace a Porsche with a British sports car. Considering that there is no such thing as a British sports car. 😉

    • atcDave says:

      The same planet where Sarah says she’ll catch a supersonic jet to Europe and ends up on a BAe-146!

      I think the Lotus was a cost cutting measure. I know we’ve recently had to downgrade from Lamborghini to Mercedes SUVs at the airport too…

      Government cuts have been deep everywhere. I heard a rumor some controllers may be forced to give up one of their personal servants as well.

    • joe says:

      I have it on good authority that no Porsches were actually harmed in the making of this episode!

      • thinkling says:

        Hilarious, guys. I always missed the Porsche. (What were they thinking?!) The lotus just never seemed right.

  2. andereandre says:

    I don’t hate any episode of Chuck,but this is easily number 191 on my list of favorites.
    Morgan is the only character I respect and sympathize with in this episode, the rest behaved like total pricks (Casey excluded because he hardly was in it except to produce some cringeworthy lines about Kathleen, totally uncharacteristic in the setting).

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, pretty harsh. I’d call it middle of the pack. Maybe lower middle, but still a good time and nothing really troublesome.

      • andereandre says:

        I can’t even think of one funny line or situation in this episode. Can you?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, quite a lot actually. I thought the arrival of the CATs, their return home, almost everything involving Morgan and Carina, and even Chuck trying to capture but not hurt Amy were all funny bits.
        Again, its not one of my favorites, but I’d rank it above almost anything from S3; and above Leftovers and Gobbler from this season.

  3. dkd says:

    The part when Chuck was hanging from the ceiling and Sarah just cut him down so he could fall on the floor always rubbed me the wrong way. It was borderline abusive. It’s one thing to be mad at him, another to physically hurt him.

    • authorguy says:

      That always felt like cartoon humor to me, where all sorts of things that would damage a real person are passed off as trivial. Lots of their stunts had that feel. Even Casey falling from that building, with a little interruption on the way, was like that. They put him in the hospital to delay the reveal of the chip in his pocket, and put him in apparent danger from the assassin, but he had no really serious injuries.

      • andereandre says:

        That is certainly true for all Chucks kung fu hits. Quite a percentage of the people he defeated would have died in real life or suffered brain damage or other disabilities.
        The Casey case feels different for me. Okay, he survived and had a Hollywood recovery but he was in coma for a while and the situation had a serious impact on the other characters.

      • authorguy says:

        True, but he should have had some major injuries and broken bones, noot been pushing himself in a wheelchair an hour later. The only reason for the coma seemed to be that they would be concerned for Sarah, declining contacts from Chuck.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey red letter day, I agree completely with Marc! It just looked like common physical comedy to me. Its not my favorite thing, but nothing offensive or bothersome about it either.

      • authorguy says:

        Hey, feeling a little wounded here, I think we agree on a lot. Half of what I did in nine2five was to make a show that you would like, because I agreed with you about some of the changes that were needed. My work in the new season is trying to keep the parts you like while repairing the parts that are broken.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay Sorry Marc! We just so often argue about stuff, I think its funny when we find so much agreement on a little thing like this.

    • dkd says:

      Sometime “cartoon humor” works. But, it didn’t for me here. This wasn’t a stunt or one of Chuck’s many, many comic pratfalls. She did it to him. On purpose.

      Bothered me.

      Bet if the tables were turned and it was something Chuck did to Sarah, people would feel differently.

      “Chuck was not badly hurt and not overly worried about it, so I think we shouldn’t be either.”

      I really hope that’s not anyone’s attitude here towards abuse in the real world. Because victims of abuse are often meant to feel by their abusers that they deserve it. They often don’t complain.

      • authorguy says:

        Why would our attitude toward cartoon abuse on a TV show say anything about our attitudes toward abuse in the real world?

      • authorguy says:

        I would have been upset if she’d hit him, yes. There’s a lot of difference in a cartoon world like Chuck’s, between her deliberately choosing to hit him, and cutting a rope and letting cartoon-physics have it’s way. We’ve known from the beginning of episode one that no one gets hurt from that sort of thing in this world, otherwise Chuck pivoting on his heels and slamming to the ground after the first upload would have killed him, not to mention the car wreck they walked away from.

      • atcDave says:

        I can honestly say I have never knowingly hurt another person and I find nothing funny about real violence.
        But I often enjoy physical comedy, or at least find it mostly inoffensive. At different points I’ve been a big fan of everything from Looney Toons to The Three Stooges; so yeah, I’m pretty much fine with physical comedy. I’m even fine with occasionally muttering “oooh, that’s gotta hurt…”

  4. authorguy says:

    Never a favorite. The actual plot was just too obvious to make any suspense, only the Carina-Morgan-Alex parts worked. Nice to see Carina ‘fess up at the end.

    • andereandre says:

      Only the end worked for me. Otherwise Alex is way out of line. Even before the lipstick she giving poor Morgan a hard time while he is just doing his spy job she knows about.

      • atcDave says:

        Well he was trying to hide the ladies from her at the apartment. Not a big thing, but maybe a little suspicious looking. Especially after she saw what he was hiding.
        It was a comedy of errors and miscommunication. I thought very well done.

      • andereandre says:

        But I don’t like “comedy of errors and miscommunication”, especially if it diminishes the characters.

      • authorguy says:

        It’s not the errors and the miscommunication that grate, it’s the artificial feel to it. If the lack of communication was more organic to the show it would have worked better, but when characters start acting suspiciously for no real reason, or charcaters act like they don’t know what they should know, then it feels forced. A lot of Alex’ behavior was like that.

      • atcDave says:

        I have virtually no investment in Morgan or Alex, so there really is no diminishment issue. Chuck and Sarah were maybe not at their best, and that’s what keeps this from being a favorite; but they weren’t offensively OOC like in much of S3, so its not a huge issue to me.

      • andereandre says:

        Oh I think especially Sarah was totally OOC here, while I found Chuck and Sarah believable in S3.
        But I am not saying that this was a bad episode, just that it is the worst of the series.

      • atcDave says:

        !

        Wow, yeah, not even close. Sarah exasperated because Chuck is meddling in her past does not sound OOC to me! Compare this to Cougars and we see a lot of similar behavior.
        I would agree with saying this is not the most appealing portrait, but its a long way from the worst too. I think I’d rank it around number 60 of 91.

      • joe says:

        Really. We’ve been in a story-arc about Sarah, the reluctant bride ever since she balked a bit at a church wedding complete with family, and this will continue on until Ellie unleashes Sarah’s inner Bridezilla in Bank of Evil, right? It may be a pretty drastic evolution for the character, but Sarah being secretive and protective about her family (and who she really is, for that matter) doesn’t strike me as OOC.

        I do prefer her adjusting Chuck’s tie and brushing a piece of lint of his lapel to her bouncing him off the floor, though. 😉

      • andereandre says:

        Physically hurting him? The only time she did that before was in Three Words (and maybe in Helicopter, she did use some violence on him there too).

      • joe says:

        Um… maybe that’s Sarah’s version of tough love?
        Yeah. That’s the ticket!

      • atcDave says:

        I think we’re making too much of a bit of physical comedy. Chuck was not badly hurt and not overly worried about it, so I think we shouldn’t be either.

      • authorguy says:

        That’s something that bothered me as far back as Couch Lock, when they were shielding Alex from Casey’s missions.

      • atcDave says:

        I could imagine saying there’s a difference between knowing what someone does for a living versus having clearance to know mission details. But no doubt this show (and many other spy shows!) play pretty loose sometimes with that distinction!

      • authorguy says:

        True, but Morgan could just say it’s mission-related, and defuse a lot of her resentment.

      • andereandre says:

        @joe: I completely buy it that she is totally annoyed about Chuck’s behavior (so am I, but he is totally in character; that is our Chuck). Dropping him from a height into shards of glass, not so much.
        I don’t care that much though about individual scenes or about episodes that fall a bit flat for me. TPTB did their best to give us a good show but they made it an excellent one.

      • andereandre says:

        @authorguy: yep, I never understood why Morgan turned Alex away in Couch lock.
        Keeping the spy stuff away from Ellie was always a strained plot device, but doing that to Alex really did not make any sense (really, realy).

      • authorguy says:

        I can see him turning her away, especially with that big goon stomping around behind her, but he often does it very clumsily, maximizing every chance for miscommunication. And she often acts resentful, as if there couldn’t possibly be any plausible reason for his strange behavior. If she had a brain the first thing she should do is look for the hidden cameras. That’s as contrived and annoying as Stephen Bartowski walking up to them just as Sarah is about to say what she really wanted, if not more so.

  5. uplink2 says:

    Well one thing I would say about this episode is if I was in charge I would never EVER let Nicholas Wootten write Carina again. Overall I have always found his episodes weak and he simply didn’t get the characters as I saw them. I’d have to say he is my least favorite writer of the later writers, though Katsnelson is a close second. But this is a perfect example of wasting such a great character and showing us absolutely nothing about why we fell in love with the feisty redhead. Part of it is why would you take her out of the mission just to create some stupid Morgan/Alex angst? Morgan/Carina was always just so incredibly creepy to begin with, why go back there?

    I liked Zondra and the Sarah/Zondra story was fine but the reason that Amy wasn’t discovered after Zondra was exonerated was weak. Hey there are many parts of this episode, the final scenes with Sarah and Ellie were great but overall it was weak and really showed IMO a lack of understanding of what worked and what didn’t on the show by Wootten. This is by far my least favorite Carina episode and that includes a season 3.0 ep.

    • andereandre says:

      Why is Morgan/Carina creepy?
      I totally love how Morgan became the adult and is far above her (like he did with Anna).

      • authorguy says:

        I was going to ask the same question. I never had a problem with that pairing.

      • atcDave says:

        I also have no particular problem with the pairing. Although there is a certain level of painful awkwardness built right in to it. I think I winced more than laughed in Wookiee. But I thought Morgan/Carina was one of the few highlights of Three Words, and I thought they were comic gold here (“that woman has the heart of a bridge troll” I love that line!)

      • joe says:

        Martin finally telling Carina in no uncertain terms that “It’s Morgan. MORGAN!” was a great too. I have a soft spot for well executed running gags.

    • uplink2 says:

      It just is lol. But seriously Carina Miller having sex with Morgan Grimes on Star Wars sheets? In what universe would that ever happen? Besides the idea it was because he rejected her and no one ever had was phony. Chuck had rejected her twice. It was so ridiculous in Three Words but it was done for humor so ok, I could live with it. But here in this episode I had no interest in that story at all. I wanted Carina on the mission well….. being Carina on a mission. That is what I love about her not some silly relationship angst for Morgan and Alex. If you are going to an episode about a group of female spies, why would you remove the second most important and familiar member of that team for the B plot? It didn’t make sense to me.

      • authorguy says:

        Chuck rejected her in favor of Sarah, which I think she agreed with and could understand. Morgan saying No was a complete surprise.
        However, if you want Carina on the missions, keep up with the current iteration of nine2five, because she is. I use her in place of Morgan a lot. Not sure if I’ll do a rewrite of Cat Squad for it, in fact I’m pretty sure I won’t be, there’s not a lot there for me to use.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks. For me part of it is Morgan isn’t really that important a character at all. I realize that Fedak is in love with Morgan and that’s fine. But you are right Chuck rejecting her was based on his desire for Sarah but in part because Carina intimidated the hell out of him and Chuck Bartowski was not a one night stand kind of guy until Hannah. Yes I know but that is ultimately what it was, bag ’em and dump ’em. But this wasn’t the Carina I loved at all in this episode. Plus part of it is I simply don’t like Wootten episodes very much. Cat Squad, Cubic Z and Family Volkoff are 3 of the weaker episodes of Season 4. I just don’t think he ‘got’ the show I did at all.

      • authorguy says:

        Well, let’s face it, I don’t think you and I are watching the same show either. I prefer Carina as a snarky wreaker of havoc, forcing painful truths out into the open. And Morgan is very much a Watson to Chuck’s Holmes, the ordinary guy trying to keep up. Without him we have no real touchstone in this world of extraordinary people. I have no love for CZ either. Like Cat Squad I think it was just basically filler with only the most remote connection to the series. A lot of S4 feels like that to me. Out of 24 episodes I expect to use only about 16 for my rewrite.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly like every one of those episodes. Again, no favorites there, but nothing that bothers me either. I completely enjoy the ordinary slice of life episodes.

        And Marc I disagree about Morgan. From the very start Chuck was the ordinary guy to me. Even when he became more involved in the spy world, or was occasionally whiny and annoying, there was never a time when I thought Morgan was MORE normal than Chuck. He was an odd duck comic relief sort of character; at best the “plucky sidekick”. At worst, downright annoying.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agree completely Dave with your assessment of Morgan. But I’d go a step further in that in season 1 he is so incredibly annoying that it made you question why Chuck still bothered with him. And hey let’s face it anyone who brings his obsessive crushes pillow with him to the Junior Prom is in need of serious psychological help. I’m surprised Ellie didn’t get a restraining order against him lol.

        But on Wootten, that’s just the thing, none of his work stands out. It’s all mediocre. With Klemmer even though he wrote by far the worst written episode of the series he did have some high spots like Tom Sawyer. I can’t think of any Wootten episode that is anything above mediocre. Now he has a great resume with NYPD Blue and Law and Order but those are a completely different genre. He simply didn’t ‘get’ the show I did.

      • atcDave says:

        I always suspected a big part of the reason Morgan “grew up” so much in S2 and S3 is because so many viewers found him very annoying in S1.

      • uplink2 says:

        Schwedak once said that the character that was helped the most by the writers strike was Morgan. They got a chance to look at what worked and what didn’t and IMO very little worked with Morgan in season 1. So I’m glad they went back and evolved him as they went forward.

  6. So this had never been one of my favorites – it might not be OOC for Sarah to be upset about Chuck trying to help if the episode was in S1 or 2. This is a different Sarah and we see the tension as early as breakfast after the night out. Sarah just doesn’t sound like an engaged woman that loves her husbands to be. She almost seems embarrassed by him. Cutting him from the rope with shards of glass all around wasn’t even close to funny for me – I really questioned her behavior. Now i agree, Chuck went too far on many aspects before that happened, and it was probably a culmination of everything for Sarah, but really? During the action in the Buy More, I didn’t see or hear the Sarah that thought of her Chuck as a hero. Even at the end, there was no apology from anyone but Chuck. Left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe some of us are making a big deal about it, but having read how many of Chucks actions are blown up the same way, I don’t think so.

    That said – Dave, I don’t think the voice over in the beginning is Morgan. Yes, he did the hart to Hart episode, but I think this is Chuck’s fantasy and his voice over. Look at the end again with the closing voice over. To me, that was clearly Chuck’s perspective.

    • atcDave says:

      The first actual dialogue we get is Morgan saying that Chuck lost him for a minute when he mentioned the CAT Squad, so I always interpreted it as Morgan’s fantasy.

    • dkd says:

      Well said, Peter.

      When you finish an episode–as I did–not really having enjoyed watching it, I struggle trying to figure it out. Your analysis aligns with my feelings about it.

      Maybe it’s not a “big deal” to others, but if it’s the key reason you didn’t like the episode, it’s hard to dismiss it.

      About the stuff in the Buy More, I had heard before this episode aired that there was supposed to be a good line of dialogue where Sarah said something positive about Chuck. But, it was cut. That’s a shame because the episode needed that.

      • atcDave says:

        Obviously we all have our own hot buttons. Slapstick and pratfalls work for me; while love triangles turn me off utterly.
        There were many viewers that were not impressed with this episode. Our own polls showed at 76 out 91; so clearly not a “fan favorite”.

      • PeterOinNYC says:

        I heard about that line – and it would have been – wait for it – legendary if it had been left in.

    • JC says:

      I loved the idea of this episode when I first head about but it really felt Chuck and Sarah reverted to their S1 personalities. And it encapsulated most of problems the writers had after Chuck became a “real” spy and they got C&S together.

      Sarah was unwilling to share anything with man she was going to marry and her lack of encouragement professionally. Making Chuck a joke whether it was falling through the window or the CATS mocking him as a spy and man. The one sided nature of the relationship, like others mention Chuck apologizing but not Sarah. It feels like they bickered like a real couple more when it was a cover than when they actually got together.

  7. noblz says:

    When this episode aired, I was hanging out on the IMdB board and the reaction was that it was ridiculous and too campy. As for me, I like campy in a tv show like Chuck. I liked this episode until the return from Rio but the ending lifted it again. Not one of my all time watch 100 times list, but a good episode that I was OK with.

    Too much Morgan and his issues. Wasted Carina on that junk IMO. I was pretty much tired of Morgan at the end of S2 (should have left him in Hawaii with Anna). To be honest, I never was involved in a “bromance” and I just didn’t get it. I tolerated it because I loved the rest of the show.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with a lot of that. Wasting the return of my second favorite guest star ever on Morgan/Alex angst and not being the character I fell in love with was a big shortcoming in this episode. It does have some great moments but I have always lived by the philosophy that less is more when it comes to Morgan.

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree the end of Rio and trip home is sort of the downer part of the episode. Although I’m not terribly “bothered” by Sarah being all ticked off at Chuck for a little bit, its not really entertaining to me either.
      I also mostly agree about Morgan, although he is often (not always!) funny, and I did enjoy the Morgan/Carina story here; I have no investment in it either. The bromance generally does nothing for me.

    • BillAtWork says:

      I’m not opposed to character growth. But Morgan didn’t grow. The Morgan of S3 – S5 and the Morgan of S1 – S2 are simply different characters.

      The Morgan of Best Friends was pathetic. He rode his bike to work. He wasn’t interested in technology. Liking to play video games does not qualify you as a network expert, lol. He wasn’t even a Nerd Herder. He was a green shirt.

      Then he became, overnight, a superspy master of technology. Huh?

  8. BillAtWork says:

    Interesting discussion. I think that I agree most with Peter. We accepted this behavior in Cougars. But shouldn’t the Sarah character be past this by now? Especially given Chuck’s plea to get to know her better in the very last episode?

    So to me, this wasn’t a horrible episode. But it was in the bottom third. And it was a lost opportunity. There is so much fun they could have had with the CATs making fun of Sarah for falling in love and Sarah defending her guy to her old callous spy friends. That would have been uplifting, and could have been very funny. Instead we got petty angst and annoyance that had to settle for cartoon humor.

    It’s too trite to blame CF. But I can see his instincts at work here. And WTH? I like blaming him. 🙂

    • atcDave says:

      Well I do agree they could have done much better. Sarah standing up for Chuck could have been a lot of fun.
      But the best defense I have here is, this episode isn’t one of those that falls to the level of making my head hurt (like most of S3).

    • uplink2 says:

      Bill to me much of why this is a bottom third episode is because of Wootten not Fedak. It fits a pattern of his of kind of mediocre episodes. Sure it had a couple of great moments but when we learned who wrote an episode during that period I was never excited to learn it was his.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But if CF gets credit for all of the romance in episodes he didn’t write, he has to take the blame for the not so great moments too, right?

        The buck stops here.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s an interesting argument. How much of an episode’s quality is determined by who wrote it, and how much is determined by where the story is at that point?

        Was Ali Adler as good as we saw in Best Friends? Or was she as bad as we saw in Fake Name?

        I’m thinking that given where the story was in Fake Name, nobody could have writen an episode I would have liked.

        Wooten wrote Bullet Train. That was well done. Just not crazy about where the story led. Is that his fault? But I agree that none of his episodes make my top third.

      • atcDave says:

        Story/Arc issues definitely matter, and I don’t believe anyone could have made Fake Name work. But there are trends.

      • authorguy says:

        Again I am crushed, wounded to my very core. Of course Fake Name can be made to work. I made it work, that’s how I know. I’m almost convinced it was made deliberately bad on purpose, precisely because it was relatively easy to make the changes that made it work. It was a wonderful episode, rotated 90 degrees in some direction that made it suck as much as it was good before.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Bill one of the reasons I absolutely despise Fake Name and think it was the biggest abomination the show ever created, is because it is well written for what it was. Mask on the other hand is so badly written that it is almost laughable it is so pathetic. Therefore it doesn’t bother me as much. It’s simply a disaster all way around. What Ali did in Fake Name is use what I love about her writing and the show to spit in my face, or at least that is what I felt like she did. The humor that she writes well was offensive, and I felt it wasn’t funny at all but an insult to those of us that actually cared about honest storytelling and “loved love” and saw right through the phoney contrived relationship angst. But Ali wasn’t really responsible for that, Schwedak were. But she wrote the episode she was given, and I absolutely hated it with a passion like no other episode of TV I have ever seen. In many ways it takes a talented writer to make a viewer hate something so passionately. Like they say the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Mask I was almost indifferent about, Fake Name I absolutely despise.

        Wootten’s episode are usually ok but mostly just blah. Nothing stands out. Bullet train was probably his best but again it’s Fedak’s story choice I question.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’ll take your word on Fake Name. I’ve never seen it. I still think that my worst episode is First Class. And not because it was so well writen. 🙂

        It was Refer Madness funny (okay, so I’m proving that I’m old, lol), tragically funny because they were totally trying to be serious.

        Let’s see. The Ring decides to smuggle something very improtant out of the country. So they hide in on a dead body instead of in the pocket of the big strong agent on the same plane.

        Never mind that a Custom’s Agent wouldn’t look twice at it.

        Never mind that they didn’t have the thing that the freaking key even opened.

        Then we find out that Sarah’s a pilot. Never referenced that again, not once ever (I use it in my stories all the time). But she puts the plane into a steep dive, not knowing if she was helping Chuck or killing him. Shaw’s smug line? “My people are never left alone.” or some nonsense that even Thinkling isn’t going to make me go rewatch it to find out, lol. Gee thanks Shaw. I guess the pilots of that plane routinely lose control of their aircraft in the middle of the Atlantic. No big deal.

        Chuck decides to stay on the plane and go back home. I guess whoever had that seat on the next flight was SOL.

        And he meets this beautiful computer technician who technically is about on Jeff’s level, who’s boss flies her first class to France to hook up a couple of computers every once in a while. Sounds really routine, lol.

        It’s rediculous on so many levels that it’s actually funny.

      • atcDave says:

        Chuck is often ridiculous. It’s a comedy, it’s what I love about it. First Class is a disaster because of character assassination. Not for a potentially fun and ridiculous plot!

      • BillAtWork says:

        Chuck was often intentionally rediculous. I’ll give you that. Not in First Class. In fact, you don’t even realize the silliness until the episode is over and you think about what happened. So if it was farce, it wasn’t even good farce.

        It was an attempt at a serious story. That’s why it was so bad.

      • noblz says:

        Speaking of writers, apropos of nothing, but Klemmer and Katsnelson wrote some of the Undercovers (a show I kind of liked) which died after 11 episodes. I guess they couldn’t figure that out as well.

      • atcDave says:

        Hah! Okay Marc, let me put it another way. Given the actual canon arc, the situations coming into and out of Fake Name, and the issues that the show runners were presumably forcing into the actual show; no writer was going to make Fake Name work.
        A wholly different universe like you presented can certainly explore those themes in a less offensively bad way.

        I’ve said many times that the tragedy of S3 was that there is an underlying story there that could have been important and satisfying. It was the determination to do yet another love triangle and draw out UST passed its “sell by” date that ruined it by being a colossal distraction and setting the wrong emotional tone.

      • uplink2 says:

        It’s funny how DVD 2 of season 3 has 3 of the worst episodes of the series on it. It’s why when I digitized all 5 seasons and put them on a jump drive I never took that DVD out of the case. So I have 87 episodes on that drive. In fact that DVD has never been out of the case except to look at the extras and it never will.

        There is no plot point to First Class except to introduce the other corner of the trapezoid. The most pointless character corner as well. There are so many plot holes and implausible attempts at legitimate storytelling in that episode, It’s no wonder it is in the bottom 5 of all 91. But it never made me hate the show and the characters like Fake Name did.

      • atcDave says:

        I pretty much agree exactly with that Uplink. My iPod has four complete seasons of the show on it, but only six episode from S3. Funny that…

      • Dave, I’ll agree that when you insist on keeping the manure, it’s hard to make a manure-less episode. I think much of this episode could have been salvaged with just a few changes, though, which wouldn’t have changed the plot any but made it feel better. Two are obvious: get rid of that horrible cafe conversation with needy dependent weak Sarah, and get rid of the grotesque dentists scene. I already did that one. There are many others I can think of. Instead of the Sarah-Shaw-Gruber bit we got, have Sarah and Shaw just have a lunch together, doing something to set up the idea that she ever would tell him her real name. There’s just tons of stuff that could have been done better than what was done, while still sticking to the storyline.
        If I have to stick to the storyline and keep Chuck as the assassin, let him listen in, and let him shoot at Shaw just before Sarah says the Sam line, thus revealing his presence and preventing her from speaking. Chuck can have his fight with Gruber alone in the other hotel room, then look back to Shaw and Sarah through the scope to see them taking care of each other. Still have the same problem flashing, going into the Beard, but Sarah could make the Sam reveal to Chuck instead of Shaw, only too late.

      • The entirety of Season 3 was rotated 90 degrees in some direction, so that it all sucked. What’s funny is that when I rotated it all back again, Fake Name was the one episode I had to change least. It really could have been one of the best eps in one of the best seasons. That is tragic.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree it is tragic Marc. Some good and important stuff there; but, as you say, covered in manure.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I hear a lot that S3 had to happen. That there was good and important growth that needed to be shown. I just don’t get that.

        If you eliminated S3.01 thru S3.13 and started S3 with Honeymooners, what would need to change? What growth would they be missing? Weren’t they back to basically the dance floor in Ring at the start of Honeymooners?

        S3 was simply an attempt to milk ust for one more season. I think that even TPTB would now admit that. But instead of milking the cow, they killed it.

      • authorguy says:

        Not motivated to repeat myself. If you won’t see it, you won’t see it.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I would agree entirely with saying as far as the Chuck/Sarah relationship goes, or even for Sarah as a character, you can start S3 at Honeymooners and absolutely nothing is lost. The show would have been more fun and more entertaining for many of us if they had done exactly that.
        But Chuck did experience some measure of professional growth during that front arc. In particular, he saw and learned about the ugly side of the spy world. He dealt with the sort of things Sarah had shielded him from for two seasons. I really think that COULD have been a great story. But as Marc said, they buried it in manure. By adding new layers of relationship angst and love triangles; they made THOSE things the focus of the story instead, and completely squandered any opportunity at a better tale.

        As it stands now, I consider S3 as truly starting at Honeymooners. And that means I have an unaccounted for jump where Chuck becomes an agent, with no explanation for it to my mind. Pity.

      • authorguy says:

        All the relationship growth and character growth, for both Chuck and Sarah, that took place in nine2five took place in S3 first. I couldn’t wash the manure off what wasn’t there.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Up front, this is not a criticism. It is what it is.

        But if that growth was necessary, they sure didn’t show it in S4. They could have. They could have put them in situations where they would have to make decisions where they would have to make serious compromises to remain a spy.

        They could have had Sarah need to seduce a Lon Kirk type person. Tell me that when you heard that a future episode was going to be called Seduction Impossible that isn’t what immediately popped into your head. I know that was the speculation in the forums at the time.

        They could have had Chuck be forced to kill someone. They could have done any number of things to make C/S question if being spies was at the expense of their relationship, right? But they didn’t.

        And that’s my point. Whatever happened in S3, whatever professional growth Chuck had didn’t affect the future story in any way. So IMO it was gratuitous. The Chuck we’re seeing in CATs is basically the same Chuck we saw in S2. He just has Intersect 2.0 skills. Having him turn unlikeable in S3 was simply manipulation. It didn’t have a story benefit.

      • atcDave says:

        Chuck and Sarah both (but especially Chuck) being unlikable jerks for much of the S3 arc is certainly among my major complaints. Not only was there no need for it; but for a show that drew so much of its appeal from very likable main characters (whether TPTB understood that to not) it undercut a main selling point.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill and Dave no surprise here I agree completely. Dave your point about Chuck becoming an agent as a necessary storyline in season 3 is exactly what I was looking for to start the season, with Sarah there to protect him and guide him along that path. But as you said it is so covered in stupid UST relationship manure that becomes the sole focus of the story it became absolutely unwatchable. That’s why it is so easy to simply jump to Honeymooners and simply say Chuck becoming a spy “happened off-screen”. I see absolutely no difference in Sarah between asking him to run in Pink Slip and asking him to run in Honeymooners. There is zero and I mean zero character growth in Sarah. She still wants to run, she still has trouble expressing her feelings, she still has trouble with the whole “normal life” thing. If anything their failed attempt at milking one more season of WTWT out of the show damaged her character severely. Do you really think that if it didn’t happen that way that there would be as many “hate on Sarah” fics out there? Sure there would be some as there were some in season 2 but not with some of the disgusting treatment of her character by some writers.

        Bill I would agree that TPTB would likely agree with us on this point. Their comments about season 3 in the 5 season interview are very telling, or at least as telling as they ever were willing to go. Pure and simple the trapezoid was a failure that almost killed their audience. It goes once again to arrogance, cluelessness and being habitually tone deaf to what was going on with their viewers. Part of that I blame on them but part of that I blame on who they were listening to. When all you communicate with are fanboys and fangirls you don’t get a clear picture.

        I remember in season 4 when they were going to repeat First Class, I thought it was a misprint. To me First Fight would have been a better choice as they were trying to promote season 4 and get a fifth. But no it was real. I got into a heated discussion with a huge fanboy that had lots of connections to the writers because I questioned the wisdom of airing anything from the misery arc again, especially that one. Even Bailey questioned it and she got jumped on too. I said it was going to be the first time since I first got into the show that I wasn’t going to watch and episode. Well that fanboy went off on me about it. Turns out the ratings were terrible that night, worse on a monday than any episode of Chuck on fridays. When they replayed Honeymooners a few weeks later it’s rating were 50% greater. But those were the people they listened to and seemed to dismiss what was really going on in a very large part of the fanbase. And it was well known they were in trouble long before anything ever aired. I was rereading a fic by Brick the other day and she talks about the rampant negativity in the fanbase and this was in November of 09. But just like Captain Smith it was damn the icebergs and full speed ahead.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah,

        But I’m not feeling nearly as generous as you, lol. They knew well before S3 aired that it would be unpopular. Even the fanboys and fangirls were yelling it at them.

        You could see it very clearly in JS’s face at the ComicCon panel. It was a room full of his fanboys and fangirls. He would have gotten a standing O reading the phone book. And he got booed. He got booed by that group of fanpeople. You could plainly see the recognition on his face that he was in serious trouble.

        It was a classic ‘what have I done’ moment.

      • atcDave says:

        The “happened off screen” thing makes me laugh. I’ve seen that device so many times over years, especially at the start of a new season, something obvious changes at gets explained away in one line.

        Like, “I miss the Bavarian charm and toxic Nacho cheese…”

      • BillAtWork says:

        Chuck becomming an agent could have been fully explained in 30 seconds of air time. When C/S are talking to Beckman after they tell her that they are dating, she could have responded that ‘a handler can’t date her asset. So it’s either break up my best team, or make Bartowski an agent.”

        Problem solved.

      • uplink2 says:

        I remember seeing a video with Schwartz at one of the tables in the press room afterwards and basically he said exactly that, “what have I done?” but it came off to me that is was his choice of words “emotionally traumatic” not the story choice. He was trying to backpedal so hard I’m surprised he didn’t roll right out of the press room. I’m still convinced that the Ali Adler “love love” PR stunt was her trying to calm things down because she was writing Fake Name at the time and knew it would not be received well at all. But the problem was that when she asked the fans to “trust us” they didn’t deliver on that trust. In fact they spit out what was in many fans mind a betrayal of that trust. But they still believed that as long as they put them together at the end all would be forgiven. For some it was but I still believe that mistrust impacted everything that came after and especially the reaction to the finale.

      • BillAtWork says:

        In fairness, (yes, Thinkling, I’m making an effort, lol) in their minds they were planning on paying off.

        They set up this traumatic event to make us question if they were going to make it, then pay that off with a wildly romantic reunion in Other Guy. I don’t question that or their sincerity. But they miscalculated. They are not evil, just tone deaf. As his audience, we weren’t prepared for that traumatic event, we already had wt/wt fatigue, and the payoff (without Honeymooners) wasn’t nearly enough. The audience for JS’s other shows would have probably accepted that storyline better. But the Chuck audience was different. We had already had our fill of triangles and OLIs.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I’m glad you added that last. I do think their single greatest failing was not rethinking the main story after the reaction at Comic Con. They simply should have known that story line was doomed. And as you point out, so many of us were already AT wt/wt fatigue. Paying it off was not enough, it simply had to end before it did. At the very least, the particular WAY they extended it was a complete non-starter.
        But I do have no doubt they were sure we would all love it in the end. I think they took the enthusiasm of the “save the show” campaign as license; as an endorsement that they could do no wrong. They failed to recognize that endorsement was conditional on them delivering; they should have recognized it as a responsibility to their fans and not a blank check.

        For all that, I’ve always been pleased that significant lessons WERE learned. They never tried another love triangle, they never gave cause to doubt Charah would be fine together (until the end, we’ll have that discussion another day!), and apart from some mission related stuff they never ended on a major down note again. They did continue to use some heavy handed angst to the end of S3, and we saw entirely too much of Chuck the liar in those episodes. But I am convinced they listened to fans this time, and those elements were gone in S4 and S5.

      • BillAtWork says:

        And that is exactly why I can completely understand the viewpoint that the finale was CF’s middle finger pointed directly at me.

        They never would have done that finale if there was hope of a next season. They had the chance about 20 times. And the explanation is pretty simple. In Goodbye, they could end on an ambiguous note with no consequenses. There was no further season to worry about losing ratings over.

        Of course, they (I’m saying they when I really think that it’s he) again miscalculated. Again, I think he’s pretty tone deaf. He may have doomed a movie possibility.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I mostly disagree with that Bill. I’m no huge fan of the finale, but I think they honestly believed Goodbye was something fans would love. I can see where they would say it encapsulated the whole series in a 45 minute nutshell, and ended in a beautiful, hopeful place…
        That it actually failed to please so many of us may have honestly baffled CF. Again, I can SEE where he thought it would be perfect. But I think he overestimated how enthusiastic many of us would be over such an open ending. I have no doubt its exactly how HE likes a story. I do think its really too bad, I think it could have been made more satisfying to a larger number of viewers with only the smallest of changes.
        And to be fair, I think the finale DID work for a better percentage of viewers than S3 did. At this point, I wonder if he would even consider it a mistake, or just be glad people are still talking.
        And I think you’re wrong about a movie. I do think that end will provide greater push for many fans who want to see what comes next. If we’d had a completely satisfying end its possible more fans would be ready to let it all go.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Well I mostly disagree with that Bill. I’m no huge fan of the finale, but I think they honestly believed Goodbye was something fans would love. I can see where they would say it encapsulated the whole series in a 45 minute nutshell, and ended in a beautiful, hopeful place…

        And that is exactly why I’m saying that he’s tone deaf. Let’s give CF the total benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that he fully thought everyone would love, love, love his finale. When I watched it, I felt betrayed. (Ernie, that’s what I meant with the middle finger remark). I’ve calmed down a little since them. But I still don’t think it was an appropriate ending.

        I do have one question. If he thought that we would love it, why didn’t he ever do something similar in any of the 20 other possible finales? He never ever once left C/S in an ambiguous spot. Why in the finale? And when I answer my own question, I don’t like the answer.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And that is exactly why I can completely understand the viewpoint that the finale was CF’s middle finger pointed directly at me.

        I think we have made it plain on more than one occasion that we consider personal attacks, and implying malicious intent, even when framed as one’s emotional reaction is a personal attack, to be out of bounds here.

        It needs to stop.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Ernie,

        There is no way to interpret my remarks as a personal attack on CF or anybody. I simply stated what my emotions were when I watched the finale. I’ve heard similar (and more harsh) things from many others.

        Yeah, I get that I’m critical of the finale. I also get that being critical is not something you’re fond of.

        But please don’t mischaracterize what I said.
        .

      • uplink2 says:

        Well the miscalculation and tone deaf aspects seem pretty clearly represented throughout the Spin Doctor PR campaign for both season 3 and the finale. How hard would it have been after season 3.0 in the Mo Ryan interview or leading into season 4 to simply say “we tried something and it simply didn’t work out the way we planned.” I do believe that might have gotten some of the trust back they lost going into the finale. But especially in the Mo Ryan interview he still tried to defend the indefensible. Sarah/Shaw in particular failed to a very large part of their audience and it is clearly shown on screen. Denying that it’s there just adds to the mistrust. Acknowledging it makes them look better and more aware of how their audience sees things. And it wasn’t just a small part of it, the “crazy shippers” it was pervasive through much of it.

        Same thing with the finale and it is why I give Zach so much credit. He acknowledges that some fans were outraged with the finale and he can see why they would think that way. He believes it was a happy ending but understands and accepts that many do not or at least do not like the ambiguity of it.

        Bill I agree that they probably sincerely thought both things would work and were shocked when they didn’t. Dave I agree that the finale wasn’t as bad as season 3. The performances were incredible and it was full of heart-wrenching emotion. It simply ended too soon. But season three was flawed in so many ways from story choice, to writing to casting. From concept to execution it failed for a great many of us. Yet the admission we ultimately got was less than I would have hoped for.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah Uplink,

        I’ve heard the argument several times here that something wasn’t as bad as S3. That’s pretty faint praise in my mind. It’s like telling your wife, “Yeah, I might have cheated on you. But at least I didn’t do it with your sister.” lol.

        I give Zac and Yvonne tons of credit. They are a little limited in how candid they can be. But I think that each has acknowledged that they can sympathize with those upset by the finale. I do think that both understand the base a lot better. Neither is tone deaf. That’s why I hope they will be the driving force behind a movie.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny Uplink, it does seem like for almost any of us, in our jobs, in our lives; things go better if we just fess up to our failures and shortcomings. I sure would like to hear comments from TPTB about S3 that felt more candid; more willing to discuss and acknowledge what went wrong.
        I do get that an obstacle, or issue for them, is that a number of viewers DID like S3. So they do need to be respectful of those viewers taste too. But they have to realize S3 was disliked by far too many viewers, and I’d love to hear what lessons they honestly may have learned, and what they actually think went wrong.
        The finale is even more problematic to discuss though, because a larger number, possibly even a slight majority, do think the finale was brilliant television. So I think we’ll never see a real post-mortem on it.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I can answer your question about why the ending to Goodbye was done so differently, why it was unique. You won’t like it, but I’m. 99% sure I’m right. It’s because CF thought it was a beautiful and inspired way to wrap things up that would satisfy almost everyone.
        And Bill we do have to remember that it apparently worked for most viewers. Even among my circle of casual viewers, most of whom disliked S3, MOST of them liked the finale.
        As I’ve said, I think those who disliked the finale were MOSTLY a smaller subset of those who disliked S3. It was still a sizable group, my guess is more than half disliked S3 (about a third felt very strongly about it) while less than a third felt badly about the end. But those who disliked the end were often even more disappointed and upset by it than those who disliked S3. But because it had broader appeal, it is less likely to ever be acknowledged as badly flawed by its creator.
        I am also pleased that Zach and Yvonne have been more in tune with fans and care about the number of unhappy viewers. Like you, I am optimistic about a movie because of that fact.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        I seriously think you’re underestimating the percentages. And maybe it’s definitional. If you asked me if I liked the finale, I’d have to answer yes. It was well written, well acted, had some really good symbolic scenes. I was simply disappointed (devastated is more accuratte) by the ending.

        ChuckTV did that same thing. They came out with a poll. And they had the standard 5 options (I’m pararphrasing).

        Loved it
        Liked it
        Was Neutral
        Disliked it
        Hated it

        By far, the 2nd option was the majority view. It’s what I picked. And they came to the same conclusion that you just did, that a vast majority of people were satisfied with the finale. I don’t think that’s a proper conclusion. At least it didn’t apply to me. It’s just that given the options, #2 was the one that most fit. It doesn’t mean that I was satisfied with the ending. I wasn’t.

      • uplink2 says:

        Yep Dave. I’ve found throughout my career that if I walk into the bosses office and fall on my sword and admit I screwed up then it absolutely minimizes the negative reaction. It may not eliminate it but the piling on is made to look bad to others. But going in to Comicon 2010 and simply saying “We learned some things from season 3” wasn’t enough. Josh Gomez’s comment was far more revealing that they all knew how bad it was, the reaction I’m talking about. Then whether coincidence or not, having the panel not take any questions didn’t help either. It just allowed them an escape like showing Other Guy at Wondercon eliminated any questions they didn’t want to have to answer to the fans for.

        But then the only thing we got after that was a slightly veiled attempt to throw Routh under the bus without outright throwing him under the bus. Telling someone you don’t know how to write for an actor is equivalent to saying that an actor can’t act to your writing. It’s just slightly more polite.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill we spent a good six months here almost exclusively agonizing over the finale, in addition to looking at other forums and commentary.
        But the thing is, people who were completely happy are far less likely to seek out online discussions or speak up loudly. In fact, I’d say our major function here for six months was fan therapy.
        But even so, I’m pretty sure it was somewhat less than a third who really disliked the finale. I talked to so many casual viewers, a majority of whom loved it, even many who hated S3. We get a skewed perspective here on line, and of course its hard to be completely sure; but I am mostly sure.

        Now don’t get me wrong. I never mean to dismiss those who were displeased. I take unhappy Chuck fans very seriously. And I think something around a third is outrageously too high. Its what I’d call a significant minority.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m not sure that I totally agree. And there is simply no way to know. But my assumption is that online forums cut both ways.

        Sure, people who are unhappy about something might speak up more often giving the illusion that they are more common. Probably represented by me, lol.

        But also, people who simply love the product are more attracted to online forums. That group would be more likely to defend TPTB and give them every benefit of the doubt giving the illusion that they are more common. Probably represented by you, lol.

        All my data is ancedotal. But I do know that in my circle of Chuck friends, many people who I would put in your category, are furious about the ending. They would be the type of person who normally would defend CF to the death. It’s basically why I don’t think that CF can be in charge of a movie. There is too much anger directed at him.

        If you look at the reviews for Long Road Home, the overwhealming majority position was disapointment in the ending. Much of it was pure anger and frustration.

        So I don’t know the numbers. There is no way to know. But I firmly believe there is more anger than you’re saying.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave and Bill I agree the response you get lies a great deal in how you ask the question. I will say one of the reasons I left ChuckTV was I found many of their polls skewed to get the answer they wanted. That is what happened here I believe. In the case of the finale I’d say I liked the episode, the performances were great, it was very dramatic etc. But I disliked it both as a series finale and in the way it actually ended. I think if you asked folks did the final scene adequately pay off all of the angst of the previous 90 minutes I think you might get different results. I mean I liked it but I could have loved it if we had more leading up to that moment that I was certain Sarah was whole again or about to be. That she really knew who Chuck was and how important to her he was. That she loved him and always had. That some real honest to goodness memory of him, not things but a memory of him and it’s context had returned.

        I think that if you asked different questions about season 3 that the percentage would change as well. My guess is if you asked folks is Sarah/Shaw worked as a couple the response would be well over 80% that no it didn’t. Did the trapezoid add any real growth for our beloved couple and I’d bet it is still way over 65% saying no. There is an art to writing questions for polls and many times a poll is written to get specific results. It’s hard to really grasp what the accurate reading on things. But you would have to be absolutely tone deaf to believe Season 3 was a success with the fans. The finale overall maybe it was but season 3 was at best seriously problematic and at worst an abomination.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I mostly agree with that. I think S3 has very few enthusiastic defenders. Although, as I’ve mentioned before, the only thing I’m sure of is that my friends like a lot of the same sort of things I do. I think I can only PROVE that MY friends had a strong dislike of S3.

        Bill one other thing about the on-line response though. people seeking out fan fiction, especially people seeking out post series fan fiction, are overwhelmingly going to be people who felt the end needed a little something more. Again, I never mean to dismiss them, but I really think its a minority group. Many of the enthusiastic fans who loved the finale have made comments like “it was perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing” or “you couldn’t add anything to that ending”. Of course now we’ll never really know how those viewers would have actually responded if the end HAD been slightly different; and I continue to believe a minimal coda could have been added that would have pleased even more viewers. BUT, I think its safe to say most viewers expressing such sentiments are not going to be seeking out post-series stories that add to the ending. In fact, a significant number of them are indifferent or hostile towards the whole idea of fan fiction. FF really is a specialized sub-community (err; sub-set community? I do NOT mean to be disparaging!)

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yes, Dave. I agree with a lot of that. I get that you’re not disparaging anyone. I’m also not trying to disparage or dismiss anyone. Maybe we can just assume that we’re not dissing or personally attacking anyone and stop having to say it so often. 🙂

        I don’t think we have to guess on the reaction to S3. The only poll that really counts, ratings, tell a pretty conclusive story. Anyone who would honestly look at the numbers and conclude that S3 didn’t do serious damage to the base, well, I don’t know what to tell you.

        We don’t have that benefit on the finale. We don’t know what the ratings for the following episodes would be. I get that there are people who loved the finale. My BrickRoad is firmly in that group. And I will say, without any attempt at sarcasm, that a lot of times when I see that sentiment expressed, it’s often by people who bristle at the idea that CF or TPTB could possibly do anything wrong. There is a fair amount of that here. I’m very used to it since BR is chief of that group. I was toughened up for my recent round of discussions with Thinkling by having years of similar discussions with BrickRoad. I know there was a lot of discussion on these pages about why she dropped out of LBH. Nobody had it right. She was never bothered by the critical reviews. She was bothered by the glowing reviews that implied that we were doing a better job than that ‘idiot’ Fedak, lol. So I think there is the possibility that view is also a vocal minority.

        But a lot of the people I’m talking about aren’t associated with Fanfiction. And I have to say that the prevalent mood among them is disgust. I was actually surprised how much. Does that translate to the public at large? There is no way to know. Your experience is different than mine. So any guess about percentages that either of us make is simply that – a guess.

    • PeterOinNYC says:

      I think that kind of banter and teasing between the CATS would have been fun.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that this is sort of a trend. The first half of S4, the angst was clearly (except for Gobbler) tongue in cheek and played for laughs. The 2nd half didn’t feel nearly as light hearted. So if they were going to light hearted laughs, it didn’t connect that way for me.

        I’m really curious if that is a backorder thing. Maybe they didn’t have the time to devote to the 2nd half as much as the first.

      • atcDave says:

        Back order could impact planning, at least they have to plan while in production of the front order. While the front order, in theory, they could work on during down time between the seasons.
        But I suspect this is more perception and coincidence. In the front arc, we had the First Fight, and “distance” moments that were arguably more serious angst. In the back arc, only the “CATs” spat strikes me as even nearly as serious. And there’s really no issue there, its just more of an annoyance. Seduction Impossible struck me as pure comedy, and so did the non- pre-marital agreement.
        I was actually pleased that the only serious threat to the couple all season long was mission/life and death sort of stuff. I never once thought there were any actual personal obstacles between them.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But even in First Fight, there was a playful tone to their fight. We knew that both wanted to make up from almost the first minute.

        In CAT, Sarah was seriously annoyed with Chuck. It wasn’t playful at all.

        If the prenup was played for laughs, it sure didn’t hit that way for me. I spent the episode mostly shaking my head.

        Most of the problem is that Vivian wasn’t nearly the engaging villian that Alexei was. Even when you hated him, Tim Dalton simply stole every single scene he was in. I never believed Vivian as a villian.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely about Alexei vs Vivian. Of course we still have another awesome Alexei episode coming up!

        And I agree Sarah seemed really ticked in CAT Squad, for like 5 seconds. I can live with that. I’m pretty sure I’ve been mad at my wife longer than that, and it never led to any lasting marital problems…

        What I really liked about the little blow up here was that right before hand Sarah had discussed with Ellie that the occasional frustration never diminished her love. And in the following Buy More scene I loved their sort of flirty (non) apology. It all worked for me.

      • authorguy says:

        It helps that Vivian really isn’t a villain, then, so her not coming across as one is a good thing.

      • dkd says:

        In this section of the series, they are trying to make conflict out of wedding planning.

        I know there are entire reality TV shows devoted to Bridezillas and such, I have no interest in them. “Seduction” managed to make fun out of it and worked for me. I smiled throughout the rewatch CAT squad just didn’t manage the right tone. Sarah as Bridezilla, in a way. Any smiles turned to frowns pretty quickly. After the cute scene with Sarah drunk, it went downhill.

        I’d rather watch any episode from the beginning of season three than this episode.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, DKD.

        Not sure I would go quite that far. S3 was painful. This was simply annoying. But I totally agree on the tone. It was much more tense and less fun to watch.

        It’s like they were really afraid of overdoing showing them together. And I think it’s yet another example of them being tone deaf to what their audience wanted.

        Sure, that could be overdone. Watching C/S suck face for 43 minutes every week would get old fast. But instead of all the conflict being internal, I’d have prefered that they show the contrast between old and new Sarah. C/S as a team quickly taking down the enemy that the skeptical CATs had failed to do for years would have been a better story IMO. And had a better point.

  9. noblz says:

    Apropos of nothing again, an interesting factoid…

    All of the female Guest stars’ names began with M and three also had a last name beginning with M…

    Mini Anden
    Mercedes Masohn
    Mircea Monroe
    Mekenna Melvin…

    Doesn’t mean anything just odd.

    • atcDave says:

      Were you ever a Cubs fan Dave? This is the sort of aside one could expect to hear from Harry Carey during the Seventh Inning stretch. You know, right before he tried to say player’s names backwards and started his drunken rendition of “Take Me Out To the Ball Game…”

      But yes, it is odd!

  10. atcDave says:

    Really terrific Castle episode this week. And bonus points, it featured two (!) former Chuck villains. Anthony Ruivivar (Fulcrum Tommy/Nemesis) and David S. Lee (Boris/Masquerade).

    • oldresorter says:

      I liked Castle this week too, but then again I do every week, other than right at the end of the season, when sometimes they write a different show for an episode or two. I’d love to ask a showrunner, why not take what made you a success, and just do it better at the end of the season, rather than write a different more dramatic, nasty show for 2 or 3 hours, just to pay off for ten of fifteen seconds at the end, which may or may not even work? I’m hoping castle does a wedding as a bottle ep somewhere in the middle of this season or next (I honestly don’t care if they marry or not), rather than making the wedding part of the mean, ugly, dramatic arc at the end which will ruin the wedding fun that could be had like Chuck did. But this week, Castle’s version of making the ‘man cave’ into the ‘couple quarters’, well done, bravo!

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Jason. I really wish so many shows would quit trying to do “important” episodes at finale time, including/especially Castle.
        Its a “dance with the one who brung you” sort of thing. Finales should appeal to those fans to already LIKE the show, not be an exercise in pushing their dramatic limits.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah good episode, great repartee.

  11. oldresorter says:

    CAT squad showed the struggle the genre mashup caused in the show, but in a somewhat reverse way from the s3 ugliness or amnesia legacy inflicted on fans. In this case, more of the lovers of Chuck, Sarah and comedy in the show liked / tolerated the cartoonish plot and charactures, while the fans of more drama were turned off. I think the show should have picked one direction or the other, within a tolerance range in that genre. I’m not even saying my fun, sweet, romcom way would have been right for the show, as I’m not sure which (dark drama or fun romance) would have been better. But the show tried to have its cake and eat it too, and each time the cartoonish show or the mean, nasty drama got too far out of line, the show lost fans, in spite of a near unanimous POV that watching Chuck and Sarah most of the time was pretty much fun. I might have enjoyed the dramatic Chuck show, if it really was that. What was maddeninig to me, was the inconsistency.

    • BillAtWork says:

      Yeah, but Oldresorter,

      Why did it have to be one or the other? The show I was hoping for would be dramatic, even dark sometimes. It’s just that the darkness wouldn’t be at the expense of the C/S relationship. The love story would have been the rock that always got them through whatever external threat came their way.

      They simply never went there. There are about a dozen episodes that you can point to (includding this one) that follow exactly the same pattern. C/S find some conflict in their relationship (sometimes for laughs, sometimes serious), they would spend most of the episode fighting about that conflict, and them they would have a tender moment and come to a resolution as the credits were rolling.

      Why not have that conflict be external and show their growth by fighting it together? It would be dramatic and romantic.

      Works for me.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t really buy this argument. I think Chuck followed a mostly successful formula, outside of S3 there’s only a handful of episodes that don’t work. That we can imagine a different way of doing things doesn’t need to be a deficiency of what was actually done. And it neither surprises nor bothers me that some episodes that do follow the formula worked better than others. Obviously an episode like CAT Squad its easier to find things that could have been done differently, but I don’t think that needs to translate into a criticism of the structure and formula followed by the show.

      • BillAtWork says:

        If a particular episode worked or not really isn’t the point. It’s that they all followed the same model. Every episode in that model show Chuck or Sarah (mostly Sarah) showing some growth. But by the next episode, that growth would be gone and we’d seel another version of the same basic story.

        I think they crossed that bridge in Cubic Z. Sarah told Chuck “I’ve changed. I’m not what I used to be. And I don’t want to be.” But then time and again, we’d see Sarah go thought that same exact discovery process, and always come to the same conclusion. It was like 50 First Dates, lol..

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave I really didn’t want to say it as an argument, was a personal opinion that I think I wrote that I understand why other disagree. My first thought that drove the comment was how interesting that I found myself on the other end of the blog as I read comments about CAT squad, as I found the chartoonish stuff delightful, such that I was willing to give a pass to some of the less likeable aspects of the ep, which is what I feel many fans of the more serious show often seem to do when reviewing episodes. As per usual, I try to take a small specific thought and make a general observation. I suppose that is a ‘fools errand’, but it seems to be how my mind works, can’t turn it off I’m afraid.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Jason, I think I was agreeing with you and arguing with Bill. Funny since you two weren’t really arguing!

    • oldresorter says:

      I agree. I wrote that wrong,drama or comedy can be romantic, I agree. But what you describe is not a cartoonish romcom, it is a serious RomDram, which I could have enjoyed, I probably would have enjoyed, if I felt the show was consistently written and CASTED that way.

      In the case of this episode, many fans mentioned the ‘cartoon’ nature of the ep. During s3, the ‘serious’ or maybe ‘unhappy’ nature of the arc. For my taste, the cartoon stuff worked because of the types of characters Jeffster, Mike, Ellie, Captain Awesome, Beckman,Morgan and Chuck were, along with by s4 Casey and even sometimes Sarah. When the show went dark, it didn’t work for me, it felt out of place. I realize others disagree, I even see why they might. But Sarah getting punched out for near an entire ep by Shaw and even forcibly kissed once while Chuck is part of a comedy routine with near the entire cast even as he is trying to save her, then doesn’t even bother to show concern at the end that sucks for me. Or the entire Fake Name ep’s nastiness while a bunch of comedy was in play, some of Mask, First Class, Pink Slip, Sarah, Goodbye, Gobbler, Santa Suit, Cliffhanger, you name it, the drama in those eps didn’t work for me, because of the way the show was most of the rest of the time. Most of those shows felt like shots at Sarah or Chuck, with little or no substance or reason from the rest of the show supporting it either before or after. But, there I go again, ranting. I liked Cat Squad, kind of like Role Models, Chuck and Sarah bickering, I liked, even as it got a bit cartoonish.

  12. uplink2 says:

    Hey just saw someone posted some of the deleted scenes from season 3 and something I hadn’t noticed before, partly because the scene in question is from DVD 2 of season 3. lol. I’ve only watched it a couple of times. But its the scene in First Class with Shaw talking to Chuck after he dismisses Sarah and Casey and their objections. Shaw says to Chuck that he has been following his progress since Bryce sent him the Intersect. Now I know it’s a deleted scene but it shows another lack of concern for mythology. I thought that the Intersect and Chuck’s identity was the most closely guarded secret in the country? That only Beckman, Graham, Casey, Sarah, Bryce and most likely the President knew about him and it? How the hell did Shaw know about the Intersect and the identity of its host? Could a field agent get access to Intersect data? Was this still when they seemed to have Beckman be subservient to the buffoon?

    • Ernie Davis says:

      That there was an intersect was common knowledge on both sides in the spy world by season 2. That it was Chuck was not. Remember Fitzroy was a Carmichael fanboy too.

      The real continuity break is where Shaw is reading the mission reports, apparently for the first time and remarking it was like a mix of James Bond and Jerry Lewis. That’s likely why it was axed.

    • uplink2 says:

      True but he says “I’ve been following you since Bryce sent you the Intersect” Obviously that was the pilot. How did Shaw know one, that it existed that early, two, that Bryce sent it, and three that he sent it to Chuck? No matter who or what he was he shouldn’t have known it was Chuck and that Bryce had sent it to him. Now if it was revealed that he was just “playing” Chuck for his psychopathic vendetta maybe we have something there. Couple that with the scenes of Sarah and Casey not trusting Shaw and you have a much better story. But it forgoes the stupid trapezoid or makes Sarah look even worse for hooking up with him if they kept it. They seemed to believe that the big reveal of Sarah killing his wife would somehow make everything make sense and be the big aha moment. But what they were completely tone deaf about was that the whole thing was already being rejected by a large portion of the audience. That the big reveal was irrelevant and people couldn’t care less about his or Eve’s story. They just wanted him gone. Had they revealed all of this much earlier and killed the stupid OLI idea you have the makings of a much better story than we got.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        He could have been following “the intersect” in reports far before he knew that it was Bryce that sent it and Chuck that received it. True, knowing from the start is problematic since they hint that part of the reason the team stays just the 3 is that they can’t risk exposing Chuck to anyone else, but anonymous reports on “the intersect” within the CIA/NSA aren’t a huge hole in the mythology, and in the end they decided to go with reviewing the reports with Sarah to avoid the conflict you’re pointing out.

        As for the rest, no comment.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Uplink. it’s definitely an inconsistency. There is no way to fanwank it to make in consistent.

        I’ve come to the conclusion that story continuity was simply not a priority to them. So instead of spending so much time and effort trying (and failing) to fanwank this sort of thing, why can’t we just admit that it’s a hole, it really doesn’t affect anything, and move on?

        I can usually do that. When I can’t is when the inconsistency directly affects Chuck or Sarah’s character. Since I barely paid attention to anything that Shaw ever said, that particular inconsistency wouldn’t ever register with me anyway, lol.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well they cared enough to delete that scene. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I think I’m with Ernie on this one. It seems silly to “admit” there’s a problem when it actually was fixed before it aired.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave. On this one I agree. My point was broader.

        Ernie, deleteing a scene with Shaw could never be spun as a bad thing, right? Now if they only would have deleted the other 500.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill you bring up an interesting point. It goes to one of the big miscalculations of season 3. By the time they revealed Sarah had killed Shaw’s wife did anyone actually care about Shaw’s story? Did that big reveal tie it all together and have it make sense? For a very large part of the audience my feeling is absolutely no it didn’t. They ran the critical component of the spy story through a character that was irrelevant. By that point no one was interested in his back story, they just wanted him gone. But had this all been revealed much earlier without the pointless OLI’s, it cold have been a very interesting story. Certainly much more interesting than squeezing out one more season of UST beyond it’s expiration date.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree with your broader point. The whole “red test / Sarah killing Shaw’s wife / him going nuts / Sarah couldn’t love Chuck once he killed someone” still makes the writer in me wince a little.

        I didn’t buy Shaw at any level. I didn’t buy him as a good spy. I didn’t buy him as Chuck’s mentor. I didn’t buy him as a villian. And I certainly didn’t buy him as Sarah’s lover.

        I really don’t want to spend any time thinking about anything he said. I’d just like to pretend that the first 13 episodes of S3 never happened. I’ll bet a very large sum of money that if you could get CF in a bar and buy him a couple of beers, that he’d agree with that.

        It was an ultimately fatal mistake. The mortal wound. It may have taken 2 more seasons for the patient to actually die, but S3 was the cause of death.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        By the time they revealed Sarah had killed Shaw’s wife did anyone actually care about Shaw’s story?

        I think that was one of the really big mistakes of season 3, that they essentially made a new character essential to so much of the story but did so little to flesh him out and get us to invest (even if only for Sarah’s sake) before they turned him into a plausible and decent villain.

        Shaw was apparently conceived as sort of a reverse Jill. I know many will disagree, but I could sort of invest in Jill because Chuck so clearly did. (even though I knew she’d be gone eventually, just not how.) For various reasons we all know many people never found a way to invest in Shaw.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I can totally invest in Jill. She is an important part of the story. I’m still disappointed that they didn’t bring her back in S5 instead of Shaw. Imagine telling your wife that you helped her mortal enemy escape and gave her a diamond ring to use to help her. I would enjoy that discussion. I’d play it for laughs, but if not, at least that angst would be genuine.

        Shaw was supposed to be Bryce, right? In a lot of ways, I’m actually glad that it wasn’t. I can easily dismiss Shaw. Bryce and Sarah would have been harder to take.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Actually, Ernie, now that I think about it, I like the Jill mirror image thing a lot.

        Jill represented for Chuck what Sarah didn’t. She was the normal girl. Chuck could marry her, have the house with the picket fence and the 2.3 kids. Sarah could never give him that. Or at least at the time, he couldn’t see it.

        Similarly, Shaw represented for Sarah what Chuck didn’t. She didn’t have to make any emotional commitments to Shaw. She didn’t have to love him. He would never ask her to choose between duty and him. And most importantly, he would never break her heart. She didn’t love him.

        Now the show blurred both of those points by having Jill be Fulcrum and by implying that Sarah had genuine feelings for Shaw.

        But I could see the symbolism.

      • atcDave says:

        I like the “delete the other 500” idea, sounds good to me!

        Ernie I do buy the “reverse Jill” idea; but mainly because I think there’s a painful repetitiveness to all the triangle stories. But I do like that Chuck cares about the well being of an ex, I think that speaks well of his character. I particularly like the way Jill’s story plays out in First Kill. Much of the earlier arc I could have done without…
        Although I don’t want to make too big a thing of that; in the full series context there is much I like about the story we saw in Fat Lady and Gravitron, not so much in Ex.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill my feelings are always mixed on the idea of bringing back Bryce. They knew before they ever shot Ring that they had lost Bomer (“White Collar” had already been ordered by USA), so we have to imagine Ring would have played out quite differently if he was returning.
        But even so, Sarah has already chosen Chuck over Bryce twice (okay, the first time was arguably more about “duty”), so I’m not sure how well it would have worked. But I do think the chemistry was better, Bomer is a better actor, and there was already enough back story and history for the two characters that I could see Sarah being interested in Bryce without thinking of her as a complete idiot for doing so.
        I think it was NinjaVanish who spent some time drawing out a plausible scenario here on one of our alternate threads. But it was built around the idea of Bryce as an old friend and confidant, without a romantic angle to it all. Now THAT could have worked very nicely for me. It might have made all the difference in accepting vs rejecting the whole arc for me.

      • BillAtWork says:

        To me, Shaw wasn’t the fatal mistake of S3. Prague was the fatal mistake. Who the OLI was isn’t really important. In a way, I’m glad that it was Shaw. He was so horribly unbelievable that I can easily pretend that he never existed. A bad joke that Cf played on me. Bryce would have been even more painful because we would have bought him.

      • authorguy says:

        Dave, did you ever see that fanfiction where Shaw was shown giving Sarah the advice to follow her heart and go for Chuck? He had a whole story about how he and Eve got together, and told her not to waste her time pining. It’s one of the few stories I’ve read where Shaw was portrayed in a positive light.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ernie, I think the blame, if I can use that term, for much of that however lies in more than just one place. Certainly it lies in the story choice and whether they flushed out his character enough, but it also lies at the feet of the actor as well. I know there are differences but we all got so heavily invested in Sarah in great part because of what Yvonne brought to the role. Take a look at the Bryce pics scene in the pilot or the scene at the end of Wookie, both very early on and compare them to the scene of Shaw looking at his wife’s stuff. With Sarah I felt so much for her character and wanted to know more about what was inside of “Lisa”. With that scene with Shaw I felt nothing because he gave me no reason to feel anything. There was no real honest emotion there and in both of those Sarah scenes it is pouring out of her. That should have been a heart-wrenching moment for the character and the actor gave us nothing. There’s a reason he was called plywood and that scene is a perfect example of why.

        The question I was so fortunate to get Yvonne to answer in our Emmy4Yvonne interview was about her non-verbal acting skills. She said in response:

        ….there has to be a way for the character to let the audience in. And I guess this was my way of doing it. I love watching layered performances where the subtext is richer than is actually being said. And as those old sayings go a picture is worth a thousand words, so do the eyes of an actor playing a character.

        The difference here is startling. It’s also goes to the miscalculation of story choice and casting. We never invested in Shaw one bit other than wanting to see him gone. The story was weak and the actor gave us no reason to care. So the only thought I had when I learned of Sarah’s Red test was why didn’t she shoot him too so we never had to see him in the series.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uplink, I agree (and have said so before) that Routh was not only miscast, but suffered in comparison to the rest of the cast (re: non-verbal acting). So yeah, there were problems from many directions, but I think either a different actor or a better back-story could have helped.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill if you read my comment I was suggesting NO OLI as the fix to S3. That is non-negotiable with me. I reject the whole idea of it. The only concession I’ll make is to say Sarah might have looked a little bit less like a complete idiot for getting involved with Bryce as opposed to Shaw.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I don’t remember that one. Although I do remember your own Nine2Five series as one where Shaw is not a complete looser.
        I don’t object to that idea in particular. But it does amuse me what a much hated character Shaw is within much of the fandom.

      • authorguy says:

        Yes, my story took him seriously as a wounded man, and gave him two tragic deaths with a hero’s funeral. Since Sarah started off my series married, there was no chance of a relationship, and as it turned out Shaw became an admirer of Chuck’s alter-ego! He did a much better job as Chuck’s confidant, just as Hannah was best used as Sarah’s. (For those who haven’t read nine2five, Chuck’s and Sarah’s response to him downloading the 2.0 at the end of S2 was to run off to Vegas and get married, rather than break up at Prague. It’s a positive and funny rewrite, the S3 that should have been.)
        NinjaVanish also started Shaw off as a wounded man, almost turned him into a villain, and gave him a hero’s death as well. And then there was this other story, which I’d have to work to find, only the third I’ve seen that treats Shaw positively. Most people hate Shaw so much they start him off as a villain, without even the tragic backstory to explain his villainy.
        I sometimes wonder how many people I turned off my story by treating Shaw like a regular guy, or Morgan, for that matter. The number of views for my various episodes drops sharply as soon as the story titled ‘Morgan’s Angels’ pops up, even though Morgan never appears in it. There seems to be some resistance to the idea that either of them could be stronger or better characters, like people just want to hate them.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I agree with that. Chuck’s despicable treatment of Sarah in Prague was the fatal mistake. Because that treatment of her had absolutely nothing to do with the story of Chuck choosing to become a spy. Prague’s only purpose was to set up the relationship angst that allowed for one more round of OLI’s. Nothing about Prague is spy story related. It’s WTWT related. From the first episode of that arc they made tearing apart the relationship the central theme of the season. It was never about Chuck becoming a spy no matter how they spun it. And when the viewers focused on exactly what they were telling us to focus on, they were shocked at the reaction. So they tried to spin the spy story with comments like “we didn’t just plop Shaw into the show to be the other guy”. Sorry Schwedak that is exactly what you did. He serves no purpose otherwise. He’s a terrible spy, a psychopath, drags down every scene he is in all to stretch out WTWT for one more season.

        Prague was the killing blow because it was never about becoming a spy. It was about destroying the relationship and allow for one more pointless round of OLI’s. If Chuck actually tells Sarah what he told her in Three Words in Prague then none of this happens. Shaw didn’t kill the season, Prague did. Shaw was just something that completely exposed how pathetically wrong that decision was and how badly it was executed.

      • anthropocene says:

        Back to the topic of Jill (sorry to be coming late to the thread). I don’t see Jill as being any more of a potential 2.5-kids/picket-fence partner for Chuck than Sarah was, way back in S2. it’s not at all clear to me that Jill would even have wanted that. She was a successful PhD scientist with a jet-setting career (thanks in part to Fulcrum, as we later learned). She and Chuck were intellectual equals and therein lay much of the attraction, particularly in their college days.

        The “normal girl” was Lou, and Chuck would have tired of her in a few months. Hannah, maybe not, because again, there was a meeting of the minds. I think of Hannah as Jill 2.0, without the spy baggage (and I am glad the show never made her a spy). Whether fleshed out well by the show runners or not, Hannah was a much better match for Chuck than Shaw was for Sarah.

        But in the end, I think Sarah proved to be an intellectual match (as well as an emotional and sexual match) for Chuck; it was just harder for him to see that through her dedication to duty, her macha combativeness, and the “crap communication skills” they shared.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree with a lot of that. But at the time, Jill’s attraction to Chuck was that she was real. He didn’t know her as a PhD. He knew her as his old college GF. The one he loved, and probably saw himself marrying someday.

        Contrast that with Sarah who, after Breakup, had basically agreed that she would never be able to give him that.

        Look, I’m not defending the Jill arc. Like all the triangles, I didn’t enjoy it. There was some awkwardness to it that didn’t make a lot of sense. But it happened, right? I would have loved to see Chuck explain to Sarah that he had helped Jill escape while she was being shot at.

        That sounds like a couple of nights on the couch to me. 🙂

      • authorguy says:

        Very true. Hannah was the only one who could have given Sarah a run for money, even if we only look at her in terms of the character, which really should have been fleshed out more. The only chance they gave her to shine was in the Mask, where she gave Chuck a run for *his* money. It was criminal the way they only focused on the LI aspects of her character.

      • atcDave says:

        Anthro I agree with most of that. I think would even consider Hannah the most appealing choice in some ways, except that she came along much too late in the story to be at all welcome. Okay, to be fair, I just never enjoy seeing those OLIs, it always seems like a waste of time to me. Hannah is a little interesting as sort the most appealing, yet least welcome of the bunch!

      • uplink2 says:

        I rewatched both Broken Heart and First Kill last night and the thing about Jill at least in First Kill is if anything all I see is Chuck feels sorry for her. He has no emotional attachment to her at all by that point. Being betrayed again and almost killing the woman he did love might have something to do with it. But I saw him letting her escape with the ring as just him trying to not let the spy life change him. He had made a bargain with her and if you look at the deleted scene he knew perfectly well it was a deal they were never going to follow through on. I think he could have explained that to Sarah pretty well. He was an honorable man and his word meant something to him. I think that was the more important reason for doing it, the fact that it was Jill was a much smaller piece. But damn does Sarah have no use for Jill whatsoever in that episode. The looks she gives her would cut glass.

      • uplink2 says:

        On the subject of the other girls, personally I liked Lou best. Not necessarily long term for him but she had spunk, she was brash, potty-mouthed and had a real strength to her. Jill was the old girlfriend who I still think slept with Bryce lol but I never got her as sincere at all. Hannah was simply irrelevant. In many ways she was a MarySue. Too perfect, too cute, too much right for Chuck, and simply pointless.

      • authorguy says:

        The pointless one was Lou. She was nothing more than the first non-spy non-Sarah who gave Chuck a second look. There was nothing about her that would have made her a good partner for Chuck even in the short term, whereas Hannah was a smart as him, as talented as him, with the same interests and skills. Which was the point of her character. Chuck decided to be a spy and she was the ultimate challenge to that decision, his perfect woman.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I don’t really know why just mentioning Shaw or Morgan scare away readers. I can guess two very different things at play; with Shaw I think its a mix of fear and fatigue. Basically not wanting to go through any of that nonsense again. Of course the flip side to that is, showing him as a contemptible buffoon can be a lot of fun. Ultimately it’s a strong dislike, but not in a “good” way; you know where readers might be interested in seeing what makes him tick or finding out what trouble he can cause next. People mostly want to see him humiliated then exit the stage. Look at how many “Shate” or Shaw snuff stories there are. There’s not much complexity or nuance to most of our Shaw reactions.
        Morgan is a little different. I think it’s more indifference. People see Morgan prominently mentioned and the response is just “ehh”.

      • authorguy says:

        I did get one comment that said he was just tired of Shaw, and I could sympathize. I’ve seen so many retread psycho villain Shaws that I’m tired of them too, but that’s one reason mine isn’t a psycho villain. Both Morgan and Shaw get some measure of respect by me, but unless you read the story you’ll never know that. I had another commenter say how pleased they were that I gave Shaw the DIC for his actions. The only rule I have in writing is that my story be nothing like anything else I’ve seen or read, and nine2five is certainly that.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I completely agree about a Jill return. I think it would be a ton of fun to see Sarah/Jill interplay again. Would Sarah gloat? Or would she be a more gracious winner? I suspect the latter, but a little gloating might be fun.
        I could see Jill using the ring Chuck gave her to try and hurt Sarah, and it might work, briefly. But you know Sarah will win that sort of show down.
        Chuck might be in trouble briefly too, especially if they’re playing it for laughs like CAT Squad. But usually Sarah is pretty laid back about petty things…. Unless she sees a deadly threat!

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I certainly wouldn’t call Lou pointless! I didn’t like her, and I think she was a poor match for Chuck, but I think she filled a legitimate role in the tale. She was Chuck’s honest attempt at something normal while trapped in a new life he didn’t understand yet. She (should have) taught Chuck the impossibility of building a relationship with someone he can’t ever be honest with.
        I would agree with saying Hannah is better fit for Chuck if we look at the externals. But it’s too late in the story, and the lessons Chuck learns are mostly re-runs of the Lou lessons, amplified by the lies he’s telling himself because he’s in love with someone else.
        I think Hannah wins the grand prize for most pointless character of the series. Even Fernando is more key to the show.

      • authorguy says:

        Dave, I can agree that Lou had a point, even if it was only to demonstrate to Chuck how trapped he was as an asset in season 1. Hannah’s significance was vastly greater, though, which is unfortunately another of those subjects I won’t waste time going on about.

      • oldresorter says:

        I didn’t like Morgan in s1/s2, and was hoping he would stay in Hawaii. But s3 thru s5 Morgan was an important character. The scary thing, Morgan was too important, he was way overwritten, with some of the very best attributes of what I loved in Chuck. In s4, if we would have found out Sarah liked pickles, Morgan would have observed it, not Chuck, and either morgan and Chuck or Sarah and Morgan would have shared a waterfountain moment over it.

        If your kids ever played sports, Morgan felt like the small, overweight, but smart and scrappy coach’s kid who was made the starting QB, when he was built for, and perfectly content to be the second string center. Meanwhile, Chuck often was standing on the sidelines, waiting for Morgan to get things right with Sarah. It was really odd, right down to the final Morgan Chuck meeting, when Chuck said I used to be in love and Morgan had to set him straight.

        The writers simply didn’t visualize the story I wanted, its funny, cause most shows I’m perfectly content with how the writers think, I struggled in Chuck to get on the same page. Some might not believe me, but I really tried, in many ways, I still am, hence my presence and participation in the therapy blog known as Chuck This.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I pretty much agree with that. In S5, they basically tried to retell the Chuck story with Morgan. But Morgan was never going to be a lead characater IMO. At best, he was the sidekick. And actually he worked better as a foil to Casey than to C/S.

        They tried to substitute Morgan/Alex for C/S in their wt/wt withdrawal thing (they simply have an addiction for wt/wt, lol). But who cared about Morgan/Alex? For one thing, how is Alex old enough to be with Morgan? Isn’t that a tad creepy?

      • oldresorter says:

        There’s a Hart to Hart ep where the Harts are invited to one of Jonathan’s ex’s weddings, one of my fav’s. Some version of the story would work pretty well with Jill.

      • atcDave says:

        Somehow I always like Jill better as the delusional one who isn’t going to let Chuck Move on easily.
        Cole would work though. Although not really an ex, it leads to some thoughts about spy love vs real love. Especially if Cole is trying to marry a non-agent.
        It’s a shame they killed Bryce off though, he’s the ex I always most wanted to see return.

      • atcDave says:

        If Alex is graduating from college when Morgan is 29 that may only be a 7 year difference. That’s not so bad. That’s the difference with my wife and I. For most things we consider ourselves about the same age. Although admittedly, when we met she was 19, and that is too much. She was just a cute kid to me. It took like six years before she seemed “datable”.
        Given how immature Morgan is at 29, seven years might pose no problems at all.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        I don’t know how old Morgan is. i assume that he, Chuck, and Sarah are all about the same age. Sarah’s 10 year high school reunion happened in early S2. That would make her 27 or 28 then. So in S5, 30 or 31. If Alex is just getting out of school at the end of S3, that would make her maybe 24 in S5. That would make Casey in his 40’s. The older you make Alex, the older you have to make Casey. So if Casey is in his 40’s, then Casey/Carina is creepy (if they aren’t already). Something is a little creepy here. Take your pick, lol.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I still believe Jill is one of the more likely characters that return for a movie. There is a pretty good story there of her life on the run. There have been some fics where she marries some baddie. But with the mention of a resurgent Fulcrum in Goodbye and the fact they were a real honest to goodness threat unlike the organization run by 5 accountants and a former attorney for a traitorous President of the 12 Colonies, allows them to come back as the villainous organization and that lends itself to Jill returning.

        Personally I liked Alex as a character but really didn’t see what she saw in Morgan. But Morgan as the foil for Casey was at times pure gold.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’d like to see Jill in a movie. I think if I was writing it, I’d have her be a good guy. Maybe have her warn C/S about the coming threat and help them. I like redemption stories. And I also think there would be some opportunity for a little playful Sarah jealousy a la Suitcase with the super model (who I don’t even find all that attractive.)

        Lest anyone call me a hypocrite, I’m certainly not talking about any angst. I wouldn’t like that. But I would enjoy Sarah standing up and claiming what’s hers. I don’t think we’ve seen maybe enough of that.

      • JC says:

        I don’t know how people can’t say Lou served a purpose. Sarah told Chuck that she zero romantic feelings for him so not to move would have looked bad. The Jill arc well that was just weird, I get the need for closure with the character but they left it open ended and the romance make no sense. He went from bitter to horny in less than a episode. I’m still trying to figure Hannah out. Its easy to see that her character was changed for whatever reasons. So she just became a justification for Sarah to move on and to have someone call Chuck a jerk. I see Hannah as a huge waste to a certain extent she should have been a spy and given Chuck a real choice in who he wanted to pursue. That’s the one thing Chuck never had in the show a real alternative to Sarah.

        i won’t go into much about Shaw but I will say he did no favors for Sarah’s character. Now I’m not talking about her relationship with him or anything, But her character learned nothing from it and made her love for Chuck come off conditional. The ending to American Hero sums it up, Chuck had to admit Sarah was right about everything to get her back. No movement from her or acceptance of change from the idolized version of Chuck.

      • BillAtWork says:

        JC,

        We were teased by people who should know, that Hannah would turn out to be not as she seemed. Turns out that didn’t happen. She was exactly as she seemed. So either the person (who was always right otherwise) was wrong. Or something changed late.

        I’m betting on the latter. And I think (with no way to prove it) that the trapezoid story was softened a bit because they realized how unpopular it was going to be.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with a lot of that JC. Making both main characters look bad is a recurring complaint with both Hannah and Shaw. Although I know we draw very different conclusions about how to fix it, it is interesting to define the problem so similarly.

      • JC says:

        Even without people in the know, the character’s introduction screamed something more and doesn’t work as is. A successful professional woman moves across country to work at the Buymore? Meeting her parents after one date? You don’t need to be a spy to realize something’s not right.

        I agree that her character was changed but for what reasons I don’t know exactly. If she was supposed to be a spy I get why, no way Chuck doesn’t move on completely with her. If she was bad well that’s just a retread of Jill or it was too similar to what they originally intended for Shaw. I wonder if they considered making her a Ring agent who falls for Chuck and tries to change but for whatever reason is outed.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I looked up what a first class ticket from LA to Paris costs. It was $17k, almost as much as Jeff makes in a year, lol.

        I’m thinking that the original plans for the trapezoid were softened. No way is what happened a trapezoid.

      • joe says:

        @JC

        I don’t know how people can’t say Lou served a purpose. Sarah told Chuck that she zero romantic feelings for him so not to move would have looked bad.

        Oh yeah. The whole idea of having someone be attracted to Chuck just when Sarah told him it wasn’t going to happen was to make NOT seem like a loser, and not have him pine away for the love of his life. I believe in the manosphere (or whatever they’re calling it these days), that would be considered a very beta-ish thing.

        Jill I think I understand. She was his first true love, the one that they say guys never get entirely over. We can debate if that’s true or not, but I’m pretty sure that it’s true enough to resonate with a lot of the people who identified with Chuck, the character. If First Kill served a purpose beyond that fabulous ending (Take off your watch.), it was to give Chuck some closure for that.

        Hannah has more to do with Paris, I think, than with being a PLI. Paris comes up a couple of times, doesn’t it? It (or maybe France) seems to be Chuck’s idea of his ideal life, and certainly a woman comes with that. Chuck was assigned there by Beckman, that’s where he “kills” Shaw, and that where tries to propose to Sarah in a French Chateau.

        Well, okay. Maybe it’s CF’s idea of an ideal place for the ideal life.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Bill I think that what was hinted at about Hannah was accurate but in a distorted way. She wasn’t what she seemed. She seemed to me on first viewing as someone who was either a Ring agent sent as backup on the plane to seduce and distract Carmichael. Or a plant by Shaw to isolate Sarah and break up the team as that is what a Svengali does in controlling someone, separates them from their friends and their connections to their past and Shaw was doing that to both Chuck and Sarah. Chuck to get him to work for him in his pursuit of vengeance and Sarah to get her into his bed. Or as some suggested a plant by Beckman to monitor the team and keep an independent eye on everything because she didn’t trust Shaw. The absolute least likely to me was she was an innocent. And no woman that beautiful flies across the country to work a a BuyMore to be with a guy she met on a plane for a few hours. That is probably the most implausible of all scenarios and it turns out that’s what she was. I mean how insecure does a woman have to be to chase after a guy she just met and take a job for 11$ an hour after flying to Paris first class? Didn’t that scream psycho to Chuck? It would to me especially when she was so gorgeous. It screams plant.

        But for her to simply be an innocent just screams contrivance. It is so blatantly just a reason to justify Sarah and Shaw thus making her the most pointless character ever on the show.

        Bill I’d love to hear what you think they softened if from? It was still pretty miserable.

      • BillAtWork says:

        The person admitted after that they were wrong. We were never told exactly what her secret was. But something clearly changed.

        What changed? I have no clue. I don’t know if anything changed. But I wouldn’t be surprised. They knew that the storyline they described at ComicCon wouldn’t be popular. And you can smell an inserted episode, right? I mean Suburbs was clearly inserted after the fact. It didn’t fit in with the story at all. The same with Sensei. Nacho Sampler has that same feel to me. So does Tic Tac. Shaw wasn’t in either. It wouldn’t surprise me if they cut short the original plans to make the two couples more serious and inserted a couple of stand alones to make up the time. But that’s pure speculation on my part. And I have to say, my track record for predicting what they would do was spotty at best. In my defense, often times what they did was so out there, had you predicted it correctly, the fandom would have laughed at you. 🙂

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m going to challenge JC and Joe here on what Sarah said to Chuck in Truth that led to Lou. She never said she didn’t have feelings for him. In fact Sarah told Chuck the truth as she saw it to the question he asked. Chuck asked her if “this thing under the undercover thing, is it going anywhere?” Her answer was honest as she knew it at the time. It wasn’t going anywhere because it couldn’t. But she never said she didn’t have feelings for him because he didn’t ask that question. Chuck sees that as having no future so it is appropriate to move on because he wanted a relationship with someone and couldn’t have it with his first choice so he moves on to #2.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink has it right; in Truth, Sarah never said she had no feelings for Chuck. She basically said they had no hope, which she may have completely believed at that time anyway.
        It would be interesting to know how the story developed. We can know just from looking at deleted scenes that they often have different directions they’re playing with in a story. I’m not sure what else they might have had in mind with Hannah; but bottom line is, I consider it all wasted screen time, so even one scene more is just more wasted time. There is nothing they could have done to fix it, without dropping the OLI part entirely. So maybe if a missing scene was like NinjaVanish wrote in “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves (ch 4)“… But I bet not.

        Bill the ages are tough to track down. Apparently Sarah was 28 in S2 (according to Chuck) and 29 in S5 (according to her file that Verbanski had). While Alex apparently graduated from college in S4 (making her 22ish then). If we assume Chuck and Morgan are Sarah’s age; well, that’s how I arrive at a seven year difference.
        But you are right about something creepy going on with Carina and Morgan and Casey and Alex… I shudder thinking about it!

      • JC says:

        @Dave

        I know you hate PLIs but hear me out. If they had made the Shaw character the same but female and have her partner with Chuck while Sarah met a normal guy. Don’t you think that would have made Chuck and Sarah choosing each more powerful? Give them a taste of the life they think they want with someone else and it not quite being the same. That Chuck only wanted to be a spy with Sarah and she only wanted a normal life with him.

      • atcDave says:

        JC that might have worked earlier in the series. Maybe late S2. But to me “Take off your watch” and Colonel changed everything. Any further OLIs can only damage and cheapen the characters after that. If they’d gone there earlier, it might have been effective to show what they both found appealing about each other. But I never buy the “exploring options” sort of story line as strengthening either characters or relationships. It mostly looks flaky to me. Especially a show like Chuck, that is mostly an action-comedy first, and is just never going to devote very much time to that sort of story; I think they would have been much better off to quit wasting time and get on with it already.
        If they had wanted to throw up purely external obstacles, to make them fight to be together, that could have worked for me too.
        But I can’t imagine any variation of OLI working for me in S3 or later.

      • uplink2 says:

        JC, I’ve always thought that was a better contrast and choice, give Sarah a different normal guy and Chuck a different spy. But continuing my rewatch tonight I just finished Colonel and just like every other time but even moreso now, that episode ended any possibility of OLI’s working again. WTWT was done, finished and stomped to the ground by that episode. Any normal humans in that situation have Chuck and Sarah back in her hotel room after the rehearsal dinner picking up right where they left off in Barstow.

        There were ways to make it better but no way to make it work. That is the biggest point here. We can and have speculated a hundred different ways, all superior to what the writers gave us and make the storyline better. Hell just cast a different actor in the Shaw role and it would have been an improvement. But still under no circumstances would it have worked. Just look at the reaction of the fan community before before Jan 10th 2010. It was already doomed before a single scene was ever shown. They lost the PR war before they even began the season. The reason? Colonel. For a vast portion of their audience that episode ended WTWT once and for all. So any extension of it wasn’t going to be received well and it wasn’t. So no matter how we change the story, change the characters a large part of the audience was going to see right through that contrivance because the show itself ended it. Any OLI story depended on exactly what that poster said in the summer of 09 that I posted a few weeks back. Another round of OLI’s extened WTWT past it’s experation date to the point no one cares about the central relationship anymore or they had to have one or both of the characters do something so dispicable and OOC that it damages the characters severely. Well they did both of those things. To have more OLI’s you had to have Prague and Prague was doomed by Colonel and two years of character development climaxing in that hotel room in Barstow.

        Prague was the major failure of the season and it happened before we even saw anything about who or what those OLI’s were. The battle had already been lost.

      • JC says:

        Uplink I get where you’re coming but I don’t think its that cut and dry.

        The problem was the PLIs needed to bring something new to the story which they didn’t. Another Bryce clone and tiny brunette? It was completely uninspired and repetitive story telling. That’s why it was doomed people already knew how it was going to play out. Fans wanted more, look at theories that were floating around grasping at anything that wouldn’t make this a replay of S1 and S2. I know I was. And I know for some fans Colonel was the point of no return but if they changed their MO just a little and threw in a deft hand I think it would have been different enough to stave off the fatigue.

      • atcDave says:

        JC there’s a lot of things they could have done to add angst or obstacles, especially involving externals like mission/agency related things; but I think it is pretty absolute on OLIs. That ship had sailed. After Colonel they either had to be happily together, or fighting to be together. I don’t believe anything else would have been well received.

  13. BillAtWork says:

    JC,

    The only way OLIs make any sense to me is if they represent what Chuck and Sarah simply can’t give what the other needs. For Chuck, that’s an honest, real relationship. They played that card with Lou, then Jill, then Hannah. All with basically the same results. None of those things worked because he was in love with Sarah. So for Chuck to hook up with another spy… with someone who could only give him the same things that Sarah could doesn’t make sense to me.

    For Sarah that was the relationship had to fit into her duty. They played that card with Bryce, then Bryce again, then Cole, then Bryce again, then Shaw. All with basically the same results. None of those things worked because she was in love with Chuck and could no longer settle for a spy fling. So for Sarah to hook up with a normal guy… to give him the things that she can’t give Chuck, also doesn’t make sense to me.

    Uplink,
    This show is famous for allowing you to think that something is resolved, and then ignoring that resolution. In any honest story, Colonel was a game changer. I think they even used those words to describe the episode. But, by definition, game changer means the game has changed, right? All too often they sold us on a ‘game changer’ moment and then almost immediately showed us that the game had not changed.

    “It is real,” should have been a game changer. Sarah throwing her gun on the bed should have been a game changer. They sold those scenes to us that way. They made us pump our fists. They got that dramatic reaction out of us fraudulently. Because the game had not changed.
    Some of that was simply dishonest storytelling. But some of it, I can’t figure out.

    In Other Guy, finally, finally, Sarah left no ambiguity in her decision. Yes, she was going to Paris on a mission with Shaw, but as soon as she got back, they were going to become a couple. She kissed him (twice) and told him not to worry. Then, the next time we see her, she has her arm looped around Shaw, walking with him down a romantic Paris street, looking every bit like a romantic couple.

    Why would they show that to us? What value did it give to the story? Was Sarah playing both guys? Had she, yet again, changed her mind? I don’t think either of those things are true, but the net effect is that it makes you dislike Sarah. So my question is how many of those dishonest things are written into the script as scene direction, and how many of those are simply the director of a scene giving direction? Is part of the problem that there were so many directors that we didn’t get a consistent view? Was it like two different teams building a bridge, not ever talking, and hoping that they meet in the middle? Was it intentional? Or was it just sloppy? As a viewer, those things are incredibly frustrating – because they go directly to liking or disliking the leads.

    And, yes, before I get the defense, I understand that it was a small detail that is fairly easily ignored. I also understand that it can be fanwanked away. But the point is that what we saw on the screen gave me pause. For what value?

    • atcDave says:

      Bill you know I agree completely about Colonel and “it is real”. Those are points of no return. It was CF himself who called Colonel a game changer. He did later confess to misusing that term, but of course it was far too late. Not only was the truth of the episode that everything had changed, but too many viewers took him at his word, the first time.
      As for the others, well I think the gun tossed on the bed DID change everything, and I never felt for a second that Sarah ever had any regrets after. I remember being elated when American Hero ended, and anticipating that things would finally be set right the following week. And they were. Sarah and Shaw as a cover couple in Paris never bothered me one iota. In fact, I don’t remember anyone even bringing it up as bothersome until much later, possibly years later.

      So I do agree that they deceived us once, in a pretty offensive way. An offensive way that was damaging to the characters, the show, the trust between viewers and writers, and the unity of the fandom itself.
      But I’ve always felt like they learned their lesson and never repeated the mistake. That doesn’t make that mistake any better, but I see nothing afterwards to merit such cynicism. It seems like a pretty joyful journey from there on out to me.

    • JC says:

      Bill

      You’re right about the love interests they served the purpose of not being what Chuck and Sarah wanted or needed. My point was if they were going down that road again in S3 a change might have worked out better. And I think it could have been a very powerful story. Give both characters a real choice, Sarah at the normal life and Chuck as a spy. Then have them come to the conclusion that they don’t want those lives without each other. The white picket fence isn’t the same without Chuck, flying around the world isn’t the same without Sarah. You’re a writer imagine a setup similar to Final Exam minus the Red Test nonsense. Chuck is promoted to agent while Sarah is thinking about quitting, he gets a assignment to wherever. But its not sitting quite right with both of them and they end up at beach from pilot and talk. No apologizing just them telling each why they need each other. Tell me people wouldn’t have ate that up.

      Oh and about that scene in Other Guy its like my g/f said did she even break up with Shaw? :0

      • atcDave says:

        I really don’t think most people would have “eaten it up” JC, it was just too late for that story. Like I said, earlier, maybe. But after Colonel it’s too late.

      • authorguy says:

        Very true, Dave. I think JC is right that they did need that impulse, but making the OLI thing was not at all necessary to do that. Shaw was a perfectly fine lure for Chuck, if only he’d been portrayed as a more competent spy, but the OLI angle interfered with that. Hannah was a great lure to the light side, but she should have been aimed at Sarah, not at Chuck. Again a case of the OLI, wt/wt nonsense trumping what would otherwise have been very sensible story decisions. That’s one of three non-story factors that influenced the show in a negative direction.

      • BillAtWork says:

        JC, I don’t think there is any way for Sarah to give some other normal guy the things that she has been denying Chuck for 3 years without me really hating her. Similarly, I don’t think there is any way for Chuck to settle for what another spy could give him after crying about Sarah for 3 years without me hating him.

        This is where CF and I most differ. To me, the whole point of Chuck, the main reason I love it, is the unlikely star crossed love story. The romance was that each wanted to find a way, when there was no way. For either to find that way with someone else would ruin the whole show for me. I didn’t mind Shaw so much when he was just the only thing that Sarah had available to her when a real relationship wasn’t possible. When it looked like she was actually developing romantic feelings for him that the show quickly approached being unwatchable.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I agree with all of that.

        And Bill I agree completely with the first part. For the second I would say the romance was not initially a part of the draw at all for me. It was the blend of action, comedy and a likable/relatable main character. But no doubt Sarah made a strong first impression, and even by the end of the Pilot the romance had some traction. Quite early in That first season the romance did become the main draw for me, and then there was no turning back.
        Certainly by the time we got to Shaw and Hannah is just no sale, no way. As Bill and Marc both allude to, I could see other characters working as friends and confidants, especially if the season still must start with a Chuck/Sarah fight. But no other romances, ever.

      • authorguy says:

        This is why I disagree with all of you when you say Hannah was pointless. The OLI stuff covered it up, but Hannah could have been a great friend for Chuck. Her role, as a friend and confidant, was there all along, but because they were so fixated on the OLI angle they didn’t really develop it much. Pointing her at Sarah instead of Chuck, who already had quite a few friends and confidants, is another change they should have made.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc there’s a difference between saying she’s pointless and saying she had to be. Her whole function, in canon, is as a distraction and an excuse for Sarah to get involved with Shaw. THAT makes her pretty pointless.
        That we can imagine better uses for her, or find her likable on her own merits, doesn’t give her a point in the canon story. It’s up to you and other fan fiction writers to give her a point.

      • JC says:

        Bill

        I guess we’re going to have disagree I would have had no problem watching Chuck and Sarah experience those things with other people but it just not feeling the same. I look at it like this you can have the same experiences with different people but when you find the right one nobody else compares. Since they were going that route of PLIs again why not try something different. I’m not saying it would be loved or even worked for everyone but hell it couldn’t have been worse.

        I’ll be honest I think the show needed this type of story. Chuck needed a viable alternative to Sarah. And she needed to outright choose a less than perfect version of Chuck and vocalize it. What we got was them basically defaulting to each other. And yes I know some of those things played out in later seasons but IMO it needed to happen before they started a real relationship.

      • atcDave says:

        JC you are right that it had to have been better than what we got. But I’m not eager to trade one story I didn’t like for another I wouldn’t have liked.

        And I really disagree from the start, from the assumption each could have, should have explored other options. Honestly, I think the whole show would have played better with no OLIs ever, from the start. No Lou, No Jill, No Hannah; just Chuck and Sarah figuring out their issues together. That would have been vastly more satisfying to me. That would have felt like two adults dealing with life.
        Now I am willing to concede some points were made with the distraction along the way, at least in the first two seasons. But that is just never an ideal mode of story telling to me. I’m tuning in for my favorite characters, not their distractions.

      • joe says:

        @Dave

        Honestly, I think the whole show would have played better with no OLIs ever, from the start. No Lou, No Jill, No Hannah; just Chuck and Sarah figuring out their issues together.

        I sorta get this and admit I wouldn’t mind that story either. But I don’t think Chuck was ever conceived that way. After all, the main character we never saw, Kayla (is that right?), was the anti-Sarah. From the beginning, Chuck (the character) was supposed to see the love of his life and alternatives simultaneously. He was meant to have a clear understanding of “living” (scare quotes, emphasized, extra large font meant to evoke the idea of a life writ large complete with danger) verses “living a normal life” (safe, calm, happy).

        Speculating here, but perhaps Lou, Jill and Hannah were the price to be paid for not having Kayla.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe I know it was never going to happen that way. It’s sort of a concession I have to make not only on Chuck, but with most shows, that things will happen I don’t like. Sometimes it’s worth it, and pays off nicely (Jill, Cole and Bryce all had mostly satisfying ends, even if I am weary of triangles).
        Interesting thought about Kayla. It would be interesting to know exactly how her total character arc was supposed to play out (and over how many seasons!). In the end, I’m very thankful we didn’t have to deal with that!

  14. BillAtWork says:

    I remember being elated when American Hero ended, and anticipating that things would finally be set right the following week. And they were.

    Dave, not really. At least not until another round of angst. Sarah never told Chuck that she was coming to meet him. Was she? She never told him that she was trying to call him. They allowed Chuck and us to question Sarah’s decision for half of that episode. The Game Changer scene didn’t change the game. The DYLM came closer. But still there was that silly scene of Sarah walking with Shaw with her arm wrapped through his. The only true game changer in all of S3 was “Shut up and kiss me.” And that was designed as a line to end the series. No game to change.

    That’s my point. The elation that we felt at the end of American Hero was a fraud. It never happened. It had zero impact on the story.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely disagree Bill. Chuck didn’t know, and it still took another 10 minutes of screen time until he was brought up to speed; but Sarah never waffled again. That is the moment she was all for Chuck and it never changed. Again, that moment should have been in Colonel. But once we got to the end of American Hero it was finally all in place.

      • BillAtWork says:

        We’ll agree to disagree. Here is my point. Delete the scene in American Hero and what has to change in Other Guy? Nothing, right? Nothing about that scene was ever referenced again. The game changer changed nothing.

      • authorguy says:

        So what? Look at it from the other direction. If they had never shown the ‘throwing the gun on the bed’ scene, what about Other Guy would have changed? Everything. The impact of that scene on Other Guy has nothing to do with plot points.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think I’m with Marc on this one. WE knew from the start of Other Guy that Sarah had chosen for Chuck. Much of the tension and drama of the early part of that episode was just all about HOW Sarah was going to make her feelings known. I think it greatly enhanced Other Guy, actually making it a better episode than it would have been just on its own, because we were eagerly waiting for what we knew was coming. A Christmas morning sort of moment.
        Again, this all should have happened much sooner, and the bulk of the S3 story actually undermined the characters and show. BUT, once we finally got there I thought it was extremely well done.

    • ArmySFC says:

      Bill interesting thoughts. I share most of them. You have mentioned a few times that if certain things failed to happen, the first 13 of S-3 for example, the outcome would have been the same. they reminded me of an ep of TBBT. Sheldon has Amy watch Raiders of the Lost Arc ( i think it was). when he asked her what she thought she said it was good if you ignored the plot holes. Sheldon asked her what plot hole and her reply was along the lines of if IJ was not in the movie the results would have been the same, the germans would have still gotten what they were after and all died. the other nerds spent the entire ep trying to prove her wrong and couldn’t. i feel that fits well for those eps. like you said, you could leave them out and C/S would still be in almost the same place.

      i get their intent, but the excuse they tried showing Chuck the dark side of the spy life falls flat for me. in vs the santa clause chuck see’s sarah kill a man in cold blood. he has seen her seduce a mark, flashed on her kill a group of men on the street. found out casey shot bryce and the list for things goes on. they had people trying to kill him put or him in a bunker from the start. by the end of season 2 if he didn’t realize what a crappy and dirty life it was, then he is a bigger idiot than morgan.

      topic change. my opinion about FF and morgan is simple. most of the fandom didn’t really like him. season 1-2 he was anoying, season 4 and 5 made him completely different. going from an idiot to a relationship expert, yaga mage, savy hacker and again the lsit goes on. take a look at this blog to the posts made during the summer between S4 and S5. a lot of folks here had him well down the list as favorites.

  15. BillAtWork says:

    And Dave, “it is real,” isn’t even the first example. “Take off you watch,” was the real game changer. It was Sarah finally overruling Agent Walker. It was the climax of the series. Agent Walker committed treason for the guy she loved. But it never happened. The scene had no story value. It was a fraud.

    • atcDave says:

      Yes that’s exactly what I said early in this discussion.

    • Wilf says:

      In fairness, apart from the “I’m leaving with Bryce in the morning” stupidity in Ring, Sarah was shown as being all set to flee with Chuck in Pink Slip, so you could argue that “It is real” really was a game changer which the writers then wrote Chuck to negate by declining to run with her – a perfectly reasonably plot line to me and in line with the changed game at that point, even if it’s one which I deeply dislike(d) and which led to 12 episodes of abject misery.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s not the refusing to run that ruined the show and characters of S3 for me; it’s that it was all done in such a brutal and callous fashion. The Chuck of Pink Slip was not the Chuck I had known for two seasons. It was a crushing disappointment in entertainment decisions that the show could never completely fix. Nothing could have ever fixed the story decisions made for S3. Best I can manage is to move on.

        I would resist calling it a game changer because the moment promised something that was pointedly NOT delivered. Sadly Prague became the real game changer, when they flushed an entire season of the show down the commode.

      • authorguy says:

        “Nothing could have ever fixed the story decisions made for S3. ”
        Not true. The story decisions could have been fixed very easily, there’s nothing in the story logic that required Prague to happen. Much of the pain of S3 was due to non-story factors outweighing what should have been story-logic decisions. wt/wt is a JS fetish, not a logic requirement, as was the Buy More. I can see Chuck being seduced by the superhero aspects of the 2.0, that woulod have been a logical outgrowth of his character, but all they had to do was hand him a gun and that would have finished him. He could even have gone to Prague to find out how it worked and found that it was unreliable, therefore not something to pin his career on, and no substitute for a good blaster at his side. All of these things could have been done, and moved the show in a more positive direction.

      • authorguy says:

        Chuck vs The Ring would have been much better without both Sarah leaving to be with Bryce, and Chuck refusing to work for the CIA as an analyst. If both of those lines had never happened, the upload of the 2.0 would still have led to S3.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc just like the Hannah situation, it is exactly Prague and the OLIs that dominated the S3 story and are pretty much unredeemable decisions. When you, and other fan fiction writers, have found a good S3 alternate story to tell, it’s been by doing things quite differently from canon. You may find some of the story points that were underlying the canon version; but to so many of us, Prague and OLIs are the main issues of S3, and they are a hopeless mess.

      • authorguy says:

        Well, to me, canon is the story they were trying to tell, not simply the scenes they showed. I’m interested in the characters and their story, regardless of whether they told it well. Season 3 is a golden story told poorly, as opposed to season 4, which has some good episodes but no overall story, so it doesn’t really please me or matter to me at all. (In fact I find the lack of a story to be almost physically painful at times.) I regarded C&S as essentially united from Colonel onward, while S3 ground off their rough edges. To me the whole engagement/wedding issue of S4 was a non-starter, and that’s most of the season.
        As for fanfiction, most S3 AUs are trying to replace what they gave us with a completely different story. Mine is the only one that is merely trying to tell the story they were telling better. My plot may in some ways differ from canon, but the story is the same. The characters are as close to canon as I can keep them, and the story flows from them. The main difference between nine2five and canon is that I was trying to display Sarah’s body with the Salmon Dress, while S3 did it with a burqa. But the body was the same.

  16. BillAtWork says:

    Wilf,

    Huh? Pink Slip happened almost a year after “It is real.” By that logic, they were eventually married, so all of those things worked out.

    “Take off your watch.” wasn’t a game changer. There was no consequence for Sarah committing treason.

    “it is real.” wasn’t a game changer. The very next time we saw her, she was leaving with Bryce.

    Throwing her gun on the bed wasn’t a game changer. We were left to question her decision for a large part of the next episode.

    And that is my point. They wrote all of those scenes specifically to get a certain reaction from us. But then, once they got that reaction, they reset the situation and played an angst card to again tell basically the same story of Sarah’s decision.

    If throwing her gun on the bed had been genuinely what they wanted us to feel, we wouldn’t have questioned Sarah’s decision for the 1st part of the next episode. And we did. They meant for us to question it. They could have easily shown us that Sarah was committed to Chuck. They didn’t. They wanted the dramatic DYLM scene. Then they wanted the “Shut up and kiss me” scene. They got us to react to the same basic plot line 3 different times.

    If “It is real” was genuine, we wouldn’t have questioned if Sarah was going to leave with Bryce. And we did. They meant for us to question it.

    • atcDave says:

      Again I disagree with much of this Bill. “take off your watch” and “it is real” both set the mood for the end of S2. The first actually launched the whole of Colonel, so it clearly wasn’t without consequence. And the second set the mood going into Ring, even if Sarah then waffled, we all knew she would make the right decision by the end of the next episode, and she did.
      That the writers then chose to flush that progress is another issue, and I believe a terrible decision. But as part of the S2 endgame both lines were well calculated and honored on their context.
      Continuing on to the gun toss, well we’re just worlds apart. I completely disagree about saying it had no impact, I think most viewers went into Other Guy knowing exactly where Sarah stood BECAUSE of that moment. There was no real angst about it; it was pure eager anticipation because we knew where it had to go. And it did. I think they honored that gesture perfectly and magnificently.

      • BillAtWork says:

        we all knew she would make the right decision by the end of the next episode, and she did.

        Come on, Dave. We absolutely did not know those things. We maybe hoped for them. But the show was going out of it’s way to intentionally make us question those exact things. That’s the whole point. Why do you think they had her deciding to leave with Bryce? Exactly to make us question the very decision that we thought she had already made.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think anyone really though leaving with Bryce was an option. We all knew Sarah would choose for Chuck by the end of Ring. Her shaking her head no to Bryce was beautiful, but we knew something like that would happen. Obviously the episode was later undermined by S3 decisions, but it all felt pretty good and exciting when it ran.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Then why do it? Why spent the time and energy to show Sarah considering leaving with Bryce? Come on. It was designed exactly to make us worry and question the decision that we thought that she had already made. That is exactly their style.

        By your logic, we all knew that Sarah wasn’t going to die in Cliffhanger, right? So what was the point of 80% of the episode?

        I get that you want to defend them. I don’t even question that. And I’m getting weary of having to keep hammering this point. But come on. If we all knew all of those things, what was the point?

        And BTW the ‘we all knew’ argument is exactly why Goodbye was so jarring for me. We all knew that Sarah was going to regain her memories and they were going to wind up together and go off to start a family, right?

        Didn’t happen.

      • authorguy says:

        By that logic, what’s the point of any story? We know the leads will get together in a rom-com. We know the detective will catch the bad guy. The issue is never where are they going, it’s always how do they get there, and what does it mean when they do. I knew Sarah would survive the Norseman. The question is what would Chuck do to make that happen.

      • atcDave says:

        Believe me I’m tired of this argument too. The point is its fun going along for the ride. Actually surprises in television are quite rare, and often not welcome anyway.

        If being surprised by a story decision was actually the point of television, I’d probably be watching nothing at all. Even S3, I was neither surprised by the disappointing main arc (we’d been spoiled on it since Comic Con) nor that it was all neatly resolved by the end of the original order. THAT was more of riding it out than enjoying the ride.

        If you want to talk about surprises in some of details, story elements and execution I might agree. That’s about keeping an audience on the edge of their seats. But over-arching issues, not so much. I not only never thought for a second that Sarah would leave with Bryce, I would add I never thought she would leave with Shaw, I was sure they would be married in Cliffhanger, I was sure Gaez would fail to kill Sarah in CAT Squad too. I really don’t understand how these major elements can be considered surprising even a little.

      • JC says:

        I hate to speak for anyone but what I think Bill is getting at is you need to show a reason why something changes. Using the example of Sarah leaving with Bryce after “its real”. What changed for her? The show never told us, so what was purpose? Just to up the angst one last time in the episode or to get that scene in the wedding? Nobody thought she was going to leave but you have to explain why she said it.

      • atcDave says:

        But JC I think the comment DID matter and did effect how at least the next episode played out. It meant Sarah was admitting she did have honest feelings for Chuck. It wasn’t a lifelong commitment, it was an honest, vague statement. So in Ring she struggled with duty vs feelings she hadn’t even defined yet. At the second wedding, she chose the feelings. Even as much as I dislike Pink Slip, it wasn’t Sarah backtracking on that decision that lead to heartache, it was Chuck.
        Now you know I still hate the story decisions made for S3. But I don’t believe you can point to some sort of systemic failure to honor their own story elements; I think it was more of a single catastrophic bad decision to undo character growth and progress made over two previous seasons.

      • oldresorter says:

        Chuck was predictable i agree, kind of like we all knew Sarah would get her memory back and Chuck and Sarah would live happily ever when the writers gave us their rendition of a love letter to the fans. Oh no, that didn’t happen, did it?

        Actually, one of the things I liked least about Chuck writing was how over and over and over the same end result was teased such that by the time I got the payoff, I was relieved and beaten down as much as joyful, first them hooking up, then getting engaged, getting married, and finally living happily ever after. Several of those things would have been most awesome if freely given by the writers as B plot stuff, while the writers were crafting a clever spy story as the A plot. Sure the B plot would have over powered the A plot, but at least the two would have been on equal footing.

      • JC says:

        Dave I not saying it didn’t matter it was a great moment but why have her say she’s leaving after that? Did the audience or Chuck ever get an answer? That’s what Bill’s getting at about honest storytelling. A character says or does one thing only to flip flop right after with no explanation.

      • uplink2 says:

        Where I agree with Bill here is it is a consistant element to their storytelling to make us question Sarah’s decisions. Dave I have to disagree with you on Ring. After the Bryce moment I wasn’t sure where things would end up. I hoped she would and thuoght she would but I wasn’t sure and that is the point Bill is trying to make. They wanted us to be uncertain. Same with the finale, they wanted us to be uncertain what happens next because if they didn’t, they would have made it perfectly clear. That element of doubt is a great storytelling tool as Marc is alluding to. But Bill’s point is valid, they didn’t want certainty as it in their mind creates the drama they are looking for. Now the Bryce comment from Sarah was more mean than necessary and it does negate “It is real” because if things were real they she doesn’t answer his question that way. But this is a trope they used frequently, mis-communication and Agent Walker reacting first before Sarah takes over.

        But on the point of tossing the gun, I agree that it changed things and wasn’t disregarded by Sarah. “I appreciated the tank” confirms that. But what bothers me about all of that was that Sarah was made to look like a horrible spy through all of that. She never questioned why she couldn’t get a signal all the way to the desert. Never noticed Shaw wearing his wedding ring, never once questioned Shaw’s motives, and never once supported what Chuck was telling Beckman but just cowtowed to the “good spy”. That’s what infuriates me. To prop up a guest star’s story they sacrificed a lead’s character and skillset. Make me believe Shaw is a good spy but don’t do it by making everyone else look so pathetic.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But here’s the deal. You say that Sarah’s decision when she said “It is real” was beautiful. Okay, let’s agree that it was.

        You say that Sarah’s decision when she shook her head to Bryce was beautiful. Okay, let’s agree that it was.

        But here is the problem. They were both the same exact decision. They showed it twice. What happened between the first time she made that decision and the 2nd time? They didn’t tell us. They simply ignored that she had already made that same exact decision.

        Same thing with Other Guy. Throwing her gun on the bed, DYLM, and “Shut up and kiss me.” are all the same exact decision. Why do we have to see it 3 times? What happened between those events to unmake her decision?

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree that Sarah mentioning her new mission with Bryce was sort of a cheap angst trick. But again, it never caused me to doubt the outcome, it was only a bump in the road.
        For S3 well, we have Sarah making a decision, telling Chuck, then later affirming the decision. None of that strikes me as flawed story telling. If anything, the opposite. It is logical and linear.
        Do you think you only needed to tell your wife that you loved her once? Many feelings and life decisions need to be affirmed periodically, especially when there is a change in circumstance that may leave someone wondering if decisions or feelings have changed. People are always changing, life is ever changing. If we want something to remain a constant in life we will likely have to fight to protect it.
        So I see no problem at all with Sarah affirming her feelings and decisions for Chuck many times over. I only object to the one arc when the pulled the rug out from under…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        But here’s the deal. You say that Sarah’s decision when she said “It is real” was beautiful. Okay, let’s agree that it was.

        You say that Sarah’s decision when she shook her head to Bryce was beautiful. Okay, let’s agree that it was.

        But here is the problem. They were both the same exact decision. They showed it twice. What happened between the first time she made that decision and the 2nd time? They didn’t tell us. They simply ignored that she had already made that same exact decision.

        Same thing with Other Guy. Throwing her gun on the bed, DYLM, and “Shut up and kiss me.” are all the same exact decision. Why do we have to see it 3 times? What happened between those events to unmake her decision?

        Bill, since we’ve danced that dance before I’m going to assume you consider that a rhetorical question and that the only proper answer is “nothing” and save us both a lot of time and grief.

  17. BillAtWork says:

    Maybe our disagreement is over the terms. “Game Changer” is probably not the correct term.

    But when you’re telling a serial story, one of the main tenants is that events have to be built upon the previous events. And when the current event your telling seems to contradict something you previously told, you need to explain that. And either something changed or what the viewer originally thought was happening really wasn’t. Nothing wrong with that, I use that 2nd technique a lot in my stories. But good storytelling demands that you explain the contradiction, right?

    I can come up with tons of examples in this show, some good and some bad, where they ignore that tenant.

    Breakup was meant to tell us something. Chuck told Sarah that a relationship wasn’t going to be possible because she would never be normal enough for him. If he was being genuine or simply trying to protect her is unclear. But it doesn’t matter. Because in the very next episode he was back to pursuing her. His actions contradicted his actions of 10 minutes ago with no explanation. So Breakup became irrelevant. Angst with no story value.

    Same with the bracelet in Santa.

    Same with ‘Take off your watch.”

    Same with “It is real.”

    Same with Prague.

    Same with American Hero.

    Now one could argue that none of those things mattered since they eventually wound up together. Okay, I guess, in a way.

    But it diminished how excited I would get when they tried to show me a dramatic scene. Because I always wondered if the scene would still be relevant in the future. They weren’t telling me an honest story.

    So I had to change my expectations of the show. Almost all of the episodes had something that I could like, and sometimes something that I could love. But trying to mash those episodes into a consistent story became to much of a challenge.

    And I think that’s at least part of the reason for the constant decline in ratings. They weren’t telling an honest story and it became frustrating.

    • atcDave says:

      It’s not the game changer term we’re disagreeing over. I think we both agree that the term was horribly misused as a description of Colonel. It left fans with an expectation of how the story would proceed that was markedly different from what was actually done, which felt like more of the same, only worse.
      It’s the “honest story telling” part I take issue with. Apart from a truly horrible decision to NOT honor the direction they seemed to be heading at the end of S2, I think all the other elements you mention actually were important and well served. Now I think much of the excellent S1 and S2 material requires us to completely ignore S3 in order for it to be satisfying; but I always see that as a problem confined exclusively to S3, and it wasn’t repeated.

    • olddarth says:

      ‘And I think that’s at least part of the reason for the constant decline in ratings. They weren’t telling an honest story and it became frustrating.’

      mmhmm

    • uplink2 says:

      Dave you bring up an interesting point. In my informal rewatch I am about to get to Ring. But I realize that I’m not going to enjoy it as much as I did back then because I know the betrayal of all they are telling me in Ring follows. No way will I rewatch Pink Slip or the rest of that betrayal but your point is valid. To fuilly appreciate everything they gave us in season 1 and 2 you have to ignore the betrayal of season 3. It simply damages far too much of what I loved about these characters to fully appreciate what came before. It is similar to why I couldn’t rewatch anything for almost a year after the finale. What’s the point as it seems nothing mattered with any degree of certainty.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, I think I got over the finale issues quicker. But still the only way I can really deal with S3 is by skipping most of it.

  18. authorguy says:

    The question is, does that giddy feel survive the fact that she went with Shaw before she even got out of the room? You and I see it as a firm resolve, temporarily overridden by her behavior in the presence of another team member (technically a superior officer). I suppose the only thing she could have done at that point that would satisy Bill would be for her to tell Shaw she wasn’t going, but there would have been numberless problems with that plot. If Shaw had called her and told her to meet him there I can see her lying, and sending Casey in her place, but short of physical assault she couldn’t have gotten rid of Shaw in person.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I didn’t particularly LIKE the twist of Sarah running off with Shaw on another mission. But I never thought she was conflicted emotionally at all.

    • BillAtWork says:

      I suppose the only thing she could have done at that point that would satisy Bill would be for her to tell Shaw she wasn’t going,

      No. I can actually explain Sarah going with Shaw where it wasn’t a contradiction. She loved Chuck, was going to be with him, but she owed it to her ex partner to complete their last mission. If she would have told Chuck exactly that instead of “I appreciate the tank,” I would have been more than happy.

      But here is the point.

      They didn’t do that. Sarah never told Chuck that she was on her way to meet him. She could have. She had the opportunity. Why didn’t she? Because that wouldn’t have led to the angst of us worrying about Sarah’s decision and the DYLM scene. If anyone can honestly say that they weren’t intentionally trying to get us to question Sarah’s decision in the first part of OG, the decision that they had already sold us on in AH, I simply don’t know what to tell you.

      And Dave, yeah. We all knew from the spoilers weeks before Sarah threw her gun on the bed that C/S were going to end up together in OG. That wasn’t a surprise. But they didn’t tell an honest story. Defend them if you want. It’s not a huge deal. but they simply didn’t tell an honest story.

      • authorguy says:

        At the risk of causing Ernie some unnecessary angst, I’ll point out that in between throwing the gun on the bed and DYLM, quite a lot happened, specifically she found out that she’d killed an innocent woman. I can see her reconsidering whether she wants to join Chuck after that, for his sake, not hers. After DYLM and before ‘Shut up and kiss me’, Chuck has killed a man. I can see her reconsidering her relationship at that point too. Of course she has to reconsider her decision in the light of new data (she’d be a fool not to), and of course she reaffirms it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sarah never told Chuck that she was on her way to meet him. She could have. She had the opportunity. Why didn’t she?

        Actually what we’re shown is that Shaw was with them the only opportunity she had before the ILY scene, after which it was superfluous. “I appreciated the tank” was Sarah’s attempt to say something re-assuring to Chuck without spilling the beans that they were planning to run away together in front of Shaw and Beckman.

      • atcDave says:

        That was such a fun line too. I think Other Guy was a well conceived and well executed episode. Not enough pay off for what we’d been through, but that is no criticism of the episode itself.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Ernie,

        Except she didn’t tell Chuck any of that even in the DYLM scene. We to this day don’t know why Sarah is still working with Shaw on this mission. I think my explanation is reasonable. But Sarah never told us or Chuck. So we’re kept guessing.

        And you’re drawing a pretty big inference. It could mean what you say. Make sure that you’re sitting down but I actually pretty much agree that sounds reasonable. But does a casual viewer that hasn’t talked about this scene 1.34 million times (see, there is some value in having this discussion over and over, lol) draw that same inference? I say no. Chuck didn’t. TPTB didn’t want us to. They wanted the angsty scene leading to the romantic DYLM climax.

      • uplink2 says:

        Marc, I will question your idea that Sarah found out she killed an innocent woman. At no point was Eve ever said to be innocent. The only thing said was “I’m afraid that Graham took that to his grave.” Do you really think Sarah thought that Graham had her kill an innocent? Absolutely not. Even though she was still in absolutely horrible spy mode throughout that episode, she, I would hope, felt Graham had to have a legitimate reason for doing it. Eve was dirty, we just don’t know how.

      • authorguy says:

        I would think that finding out your target was the wife of what you take to be an honest and honorable fellow agent might do something to speak for her innocence. (And before we go into the actual dishonesty of Shaw, bear in mind he’d driven Sarah into the desert and hadn’t killed her, so she would have no reason to think he was after revenge.) Even if we grant the actual innocence of Eve, we still have Sarah being suddenly confronted with footage of what she calls her worst day, which I would imagine she’d never seen before. Her own feelings of unworthiness to be with Chuck would also call for a little introspection and reassessment. The short answer is, she had a shock that day and reevaluated. People do that, and we shouldn’t need a scriptwriter to tell us that’s what they did because it’s the sort of thing we all should be doing in such a circumstance.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you’re right about that Uplink. I was left with the conclusion Eve was likely dirty, we just don’t know the details. And dirty or not, it is a personal tragedy for Shaw, and a slightly different sort of tragedy for Sarah.

        Bill if you’re trying to deny “I appreciated the tank” was not an obvious attempt to connect with Chuck we’re not even watching the same show! Sarah Walker, who is terrible with words, was trying to connect Chuck in front of her boss and ex (who doesn’t know he’s an ex yet).
        But I fail to see what the dark mystery is about Sarah working with Shaw. They were partners tasked with taking down the Ring. So they worked together. And Sarah said what she needed to Chuck as soon as they were alone together.
        Obviously the moment was drawn out a little, but I think there’s a tendency here to cry “angst” for every little bit of tension or build up we get. And for the record, angst is not a bad thing! It’s like the dramatic equivalent of garlic; a little goes a long way, and at times JS liked to use way too much. But that doesn’t make it bad. And I think CF’s judgement on angst is far more to my liking than JS’s. So we get to an episode like Other Guy and the moment is teased out just a little to create a beautiful scene.
        So does the good desert make up for a ruined main course? No, it does not. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the desert itself!

      • BillAtWork says:

        Bill if you’re trying to deny “I appreciated the tank” was not an obvious attempt to connect with Chuck we’re not even watching the same show!

        When did I ever try and deny that? I think that i just agreed with Ernie (man, that’s hard to type, lol). But if you’re trying to say that they weren’t trying to sell us angst over a question that Sarah had already supposedly answered for us, then we aren’t watching the same show!!!

        There’s a couple of things wrong with your argument.

        First, Sarah never, ever told him that she was coming to meet him, not even when they were alone. She never told him why she was still working with Shaw. She didn’t tell him why she didn’t want him to tell Shaw that they were together.

        Second, you’re making it sound like Shaw always being there is a fact of life that the writers were stuck with. Shaw was always there because they wrote it that way.

        Chuck to this day, doesn’t know that Sarah was on her way to meet him. I don’t mind angst so much. but this was artificial. Angst over an issue that they had already resolved for us.

      • uplink2 says:

        But to do that she needed to continue pathetically horrible spy mode. She never questioned why she couldn’t get a signal all the way from downtown LA to the desert, never noticed Shaw wearing his wedding ring again when it was right on the steering wheel. Never questioned that he knew she had killed his wife before he took her there, never questioned that he was showing it to her for a reason other than capturing the Director, never questioned that his wife was actually a traitor and maybe so was he, never questioned his emotionally stability, never questioned him about his idiotic decision to get himself blown up and Chuck had to rescue him, never asked for backup in Paris, never challenged Beckman that Chuck had saved Shaw and should come to Paris. There were so many reasons to question Sarah’s abilities and sanity in that episode, any time she was near Shaw it’s like her spy IQ dropped 50 points. Maybe that was because he was simply so bad a spy they had to make everyone else look even worse to prop him up?

      • Wilf says:

        “Maybe that was because he was simply so bad a spy they had to make everyone else look even worse to prop him up?”

        That could well be it … a bit like making the other actors stand in a pit when Tom Cruise is in the scene 😉

      • uplink2 says:

        Yep. Hey Rachel Bilson had to stand on an apple box in a number of scenes with Zach. lol

        But seriously why would you write a story where you had to make your lead look incompetent to sell a guest star? Why not actually write a competent guest star? Or if you can’t, don’t write him at all. It makes no sense whatsoever. No one bought into the story of Daniel and Eve because no one cared about it. And yet they had to make Sarah look like an idiot to try and sell an unsellable story. Really bizarre.

      • authorguy says:

        It’s bizarre on the surface. That’s why you have to look at the whole season symbolically, then it makes total sense. On that level it’s quite an impressive story. Unfortunately they lacked the skill and the time in the screenwriter’s pool to make the hidden meaning less hidden and more obvious to the viewing audience.

      • uplink2 says:

        Marc, but that’s no excuse for making Sarah look like a terrible spy to tell your story. She was supposed to be the CIA’s best and yet she missed things that a first year cadet would have seen. It’s terrible writing and plotting. Destroy your lead to sell a guest star whose story was irrelevant and unwanted. Quite an impressive blunder to me.

      • authorguy says:

        That’s why it was so hard to tell the story. Shaw, as the symbol of the spy world, is incompetent because the spy world is incompetent, always changing, always sabotaging itself, and at that point in the story Sarah was trying to make herself a perfect spy again. As she does so she comes to realize just how bad being a perfect spy really is. Given the slightest bit of encouragement by Chuck, she’s right back to him. YS may have been able to do the role justice but they had no writer able to create it for her.

      • JC says:

        I think you’re reaching a bit about the spy world. In four out of five seasons Chuck was basically a comic book/ Roger Moore’ Bond type world. They changed the rules of their own world for one season to create a “darker” one full of broken people which went against what we were shown before or after. The show went out of its way to show most spies were good people Bryce, Cole, Carina, Roan, etc. Then all of the sudden its this twisted place that will crush your soul and steal your humanity just to tell one story. It’d be like putting Chuck in the Bourne or Craig/Bond universe.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Exactly, JC.

        We had this exact discussion a couple of episodes ago. If being a spy is such a corrupt, joyless, undead existense, then why didn’t Sarah get Chuck out of it in Honeymooners when she had the chance?

        This is an example of TPTB wanting it both ways.

      • Not sure I agree with that. In season one they were constantly telling themselves not to get involved, that they’d have to burn Chuck sometime, and that’s how Season 2 started. Bryce betrayed several people several times over for the job, and Casey killed him for it. Fulcrum was a rogue group inside the CIA. They killed Graham and who knows how many other CIA agents who trusted them. Beckman goes from wanting Chuck in a bunker to wanting him out of it, from wanting the secrets out of Chuck’s head to wanting them safely kept in it. Sarah killed Mauser in cold blood. Carina took the diamond and left her team behind, under fire. Then she married a man to get access to his vault. Casey locked his team in a cell for trying to save Chuck’s father, and was ready to kill Devon when he discovered their secrets. He only changed his tune when his word was betrayed by Beckman and he had to redeem it personally.
        This is what Daniel Shaw is the epitome of.
        The spy world was not a land of hugs and puppies. It took them 2 seasons to get to the point where they could rely on each other.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But you’ve just stumbled on the dilemma that spawns virtually all of the debate on these pages.

        If you watch an episode of Chuck, you can almost always find something to like. I don’t think anyone that’s here would dispute that. And the story usually makes sense in the context of that episode.

        But, when you tried to piece together those individual episodes into a coherent story, you simply can’t do it. And the reason that you can’t do it is that TPTB didn’t make any effort to insure consistency in their story. And I know that sounds like a criticism. But it’s not. IMO, the overall story simply wasn’t important to them. The individual episode, the next scene, was what was important to them. Facts, moods, personalities… they were all fluid to meet the needs of the next scene they were telling.

        So one can point to things and conclude that being a spy was a dark, hellish, joyless existence. Indeed, that was the main point they were going for in S3, right? Chuck wanted to become a spy, and Sarah feared that in doing so, he would lose all the qualities that she loved about him.

        But others can point to things and conclude that being a spy was an exciting, fun, and noble endeavor. And that was the point of Honeymooners. Sarah didn’t want to get Chuck out of being a spy. She dreaded not being a spy. They could have it all.

        And that same thing is true in dozens of areas. They told it one way when the next scene required it. And they later told it exactly the opposite way when the next scene required it.

        So if you’re judging Chuck, it totally depends on your POV. If you look at each episode individually, like the intent of this re-watch, you’d have to conclude that Chuck was a great show.

        But if you’re judging the story as a whole, I think it’s fair to say that it fell far short of being great.

        So that characteristic leads us to disagree many times. Dave can point to Other Guy and say that it was a great episode. That it was well executed, acted, and poignant. No argument from me.

        But I can point to the same exact episode and say that it has flaws when you try and fit it in with the story as a whole.

      • Have to disagree with you there, Bill, since what I do is exactly making sense of the episodes.S4 is pretty hard, I admit. S3 was much better about coherency. Unfortunately they took the wrong lesson from the problems S3 had, and went too far in the fluffy cotton-candy direction. They should have stayed with the darker theme and learned how to write them better.
        Doing what I can to fix this mess.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But I’m not judging your re-write. I’m judging what I saw on the screen.

        And I would probably agree that they should have stayed darker. That’s the edgy tone of the show that got lost in S4 and S5. It’s just that they should have made the edgyness threats external and told the romantic story of a team that was stronger than the sum of its parts.

        An episode dedicated to Sarah being afraid to unpack was cute and I enjoyed it. But the edgy episode of Sarah being afraid of losing the other half of her, and willing to fight half of Thailand to get him back was the tone I would have prefered.

      • S3 rewrote as quickly as it did precisely because of its coherence. The story of S3 was great, the fact that they didn’t show it on the screen doesn’t change any of that. The fact that S4 is full of popular cotton-candy fluff doesn’t make it good, either. The story is very poor, almost non-existent, and I’m getting chapters out at half the rate.

      • JC says:

        It’s not the actions of the characters but how the show portrayed those actions within the world. Spies weren’t broken soulless monsters feeling the weight of their actions. There wasn’t any moral ambiguity, bad guys were just that bad. Spies were the super heroes of that world saving the day. If they had kept that change and used the excuse that now Chuck was spy he was seeing the darker side of spies I would have bought it. But they didn’t the show went right back to S1&2 type of stories and tone once Chuck and Sarah hooked up. The next season opened with a slide in Castle for god’s sake.

      • S1 and S2 were quite serious in their way, and S3 was a natural outgrowth of that serious tone as applied to Chuck himself. S4 was the aberration, very light and silly with almost no serious side at all. S5 wasn’t that silly, but it wasn’t serious either. The Decker story could have been great had they ever told it.

      • atcDave says:

        There was always a dark overtone to the spy world, right from the start when we knew Casey had a kill order for Chuck when the new Intersect was complete (1.02).

        But the thing that changed dramatically in S3 was that previously Chuck and Sarah themselves had been pretty admirable characters. Then they both acted like idiots for most of a season. And a lot of that darkness intruded more directly on both of their lives.
        Its funny really; you can put a couple of good characters in a dark setting, and have things not feel very dark as long as they’re able to do right and make a happy place for themselves. I think that was true of four seasons of the show (although even the backdrop became less dark in S4, as Beckman became more of a clear ally).
        But when that darkness overwhelmed the main characters for most of S3, the result was oppressive and miserable.

      • I agree with Marc here – the spy world was never hugs and puppies, Chuck was.He was the one that brought light to the darkness for so many in the spy world. He really did effect change in Sarah, Casey – even to some degree Beckman, Bryce, Carina and Cole. He made it easier for them to be “admirable characters”. Without him, their world was one mission at a time and the mission before all else – no matter the cost. Casey was in Chuck’s house prepared to kill him because he was given that mission. I believe that’s why Sarah was so sensitive to Chuck changing into a spy. She needed him and she knew that without him, there was no Sarah, only a spy. Without him, she was in real danger of becoming just like Shaw. As Marc said, he was the epitome of the bad part of the spy world and while we may not like the fact that Sarah was portrayed as incompetent while around him, it is a stark visual reminder of what she could have been and would be without Chuck. Personally, I’ve always thought that was very effective imagery.

      • Thank you, Peter. There were quite a few parallels between Shaw and Sarah to be drawn, and that’s one of the most significant of them. I also had a vision of Shaw as what Sarah could become if Chuck died, as well, which is a slight difference.. BTW, I do hope you find some time to check out my S4 version.

      • JC says:

        Nobody is saying the spy world was hugs and puppies. Of course there was an element of danger it was a show about spies but it never was oppressive or morally grey. What was the difference between Lazlo and Mannosh, Chuck pulling Casey’s tooth or punching him and lying to protect his cover. Why would these things lead to Chuck becoming some kind of monster one season and not before or after? Because they needed it to be for one season then it was awesome fun to be a spy again.

      • The reason is simple: This time it’s Chuck doing it, not someone else. Before S3 he was using his brains to avoid having to do stuff like that. After S3 he was using his brains and the skills to avoid doing stuff like that. Plus they never put him in such a scenario again, I would like to have seen some of those darker episodes revisited with the S4 Chuck, and how he would have handled them. But S3 is the only one where they made him try to approach these problems as a spy and not like Chuck.;

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill you bring up an interesting point. The purpose of this rewatch was to look at each episode in light of the entire 5 seasons. It’s there that the for lack of a better term, the plot holes really become glaring. We’ve talked a lot about how newer episodes contradict canon from prior episodes. We are about to get to a very big example of one. Agent X in many ways negates Dream Job and the Orion story. In Dream Job Orion tells us that his life was destroyed by Rourke stealing all of his work and he had to run to protect his children. But in Agent X all of a sudden there was an entirely new story of Winterbottom being corrupted by the Intersect and he and Mary had to try to save the world from their mistake. Oh and BTW Rourke was there too. IMO when they wrote Dream Job they had no idea whatsoever about Agent X. It was thought up later and the fact that it changed prior canon didn’t matter because it was needed to sell the current story.

        The reasons for this rewatch also lead to evoking Chuckwin’s law much more often and why we always have the largest threads when it does get invoked. With season 3 you have an entire season that negates prior canon and doesn’t fit into the other 4 cleanly at all. But it’s not just because it’s darker. It’s also because in season 3 the characters themselves are different. Chuck is an unlikable jerk, Sarah is an incompetent, subservient, clueless mess, Season 3 Morgan doesn’t resemble the annoying buffoon from season 1 and 2 but is now a tech wizard and relationship guru. The only one who is consistent is Casey but he is relegated to being the fat kid. It’s why I dread rewatching Ring which is my next one because it is in many ways the beginning of a completely different show and one I don’t like nearly as well and at times hate with a passion.

        Each episode we look at has some moments we can like, except Mask and Fake Name. Those 2 are nonredeemable on any level. Pink Slip at least has Sarah in the pool and there is no way to dislike that scene until you see what happens when she comes out. She is on a 3 month seduction mission and has gotten “pool privileges by whatever means necessary”. But there are things that don’t build on prior canon throughout the series, they change it. But season 3 is by far the biggest culprit.

      • The season that doesn’t fit is the fourth, not the third. S3 flowed naturally from the idea of Chuck becoming a spy, which had to happen considering the effects of Sarah and comic books on his character. He has great power, he must use it for good, and Sarah is the model he wants to follow. But S4 is just an endless diet of ice cream, no serious side at all. Very atypical, but they were overcompensating for the fan reaction, which was a mistake.

      • JC says:

        Never does that stuff again or avoided before? Chuck lying, arresting goofy villains and selling his cover has been done consistently throughout the show’s run. It was only in S3 that somehow it was wrong for him do it. There was nothing natural about it. The concept literally came out of nowhere and then disappeared forever come Honeymooners.

        Season 1&2 had some drama but it was far from serious. The only reasons S4 aren’t held in the same regard as S2 is Mama B’ story flopped IMO and the limited budget. Season 5 I won’t comment on because of the ending has colored my opinions of it.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Marc, that’s where I really differ with you. Season 3 has very little to do with Chuck becoming a spy. That story is buried beneath mountains of manure and phoney relationship angst. Season 3 is about stretching out WTWT for one more season and putting them together in 3.13. The spy story is an afterthought. An afterthought that becomes unwatchable because of what lies on top of it. Pointless, contrived, phoney angst created by behavior that makes both leads extremely unlikable throughout much of it. Prague is a scam. A scam to rip the relationship apart for 12 more episodes to simply be put back together, not because they earned it but because it was the pre-determined time. TPTB even said that season 3 was about “putting Chuck and Sarah together”. The problem was a very large part of the fanbase was already past that point and would not tolerate anymore contrived stories simply there to extend it one more time. Then couple that with poor execution of that story, running the story through a very poorly conceived character played by a very weak actor and you have the disaster we got. Season 3 wasn’t about the spy story like it should have been. It was about extending the UST for 13 more episodes. and it was doomed to fail from the moment of that train station in Prague and its contrived, phoney, manipulative “emotionally traumatic” betrayal.

      • atcDave says:

        Obviously I see things more completely like Uplink on this. I can see some of Marc’s point. S3 probably was more serialized in nature than any other season, that may have given it more thematic cohesion. But as entertainment, I think S3 has to be considered a serious outlier. It is by far darker than any other season, and it paints a far bleaker portrait of both main protagonists. For so many of us, that makes it inferior entertainment, period. I think that all adds up though to saying S3 is the odd duck. Whether you like it or not, it’s the most different among all five seasons.

    • uplink2 says:

      See there is a bit of a problem with that. I DIDN’T know from spoilers. All I saw was this:

      Nothing in that tells you absolutely they end up together. And that promo followed Sarah making her decision yes, but then being shown to be an absolutely terrible spy.

      • atcDave says:

        As I said above, the network will always try to tease out whatever drama they will. Even to the point of being dishonest in previews and teasers. But I see nothing dishonest at this point of the show itself. And Sarah came clean with Chuck the first moment they had alone together.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Uplink,

        We had known for weeks that they were together and on the run in Honeymooners, so it was an easy extrapolation that it happened in OG.

        Besides, they showed it early to a group of people and anyone who wanted could easily find out early what happened. So we knew about the time of Beard that they would get together in OG.

        It doesn’t change your point. The masses didn’t know. The angst was real for them at least.

      • uplink2 says:

        Interesting Bill. So right at the height of the hatred and anger at the betrayal post Fake Name, they decided to show a group of folks that is was all just a rouse? Wow. They really were trying to keep things from getting out of control. I’ve heard about the Honeymooners script call sheets leaks, and some of the other things they leaked for damage control but to show an episode 4 or so episodes after the ones that were airing shows very little confidence in your story. The Wondercon showing just before OG aired was certainly done so they wouldn’t have to answer any questions about it. Damn.

      • BillAtWork says:

        No, I’m mixing 2 things. The Wondercon thing happened just before the episode aired.

        But we knew well before that. I think the first thing was a casting side for the porter on the train that was far more descriptive than it normally would have been.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        Bill is absolutely correct on the leaks, etc. From the casting call for the train porter to the call sheet with the final scene of ep 14 being Chuck and Sarah alone in Chuck’s bedroom were clear indications that they were in full panic mode after Fake Name. This stuff was widely shown on the IMdB board. I think I may even have a copy of the call sheet in a file somewhere.

        You are also right in that our pain was prolonged for 4 episodes even after the leaks. The promo for the 1 March return was also a source of a ton of speculation, most of it good.

        Just my .02 cents (which is worth $37.50 or so).

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        I remember the French shooting schedule leak like it was yesterday. Within hours we had the scenes constructed in the right order and knew exactly what was going to happen.

        Zac posted a webcam from the train set while they were shooting (I’m surprised they don’t eat better) and Yvonne clearly was wearing a wedding ring between takes. OMG, people were giddy.

      • Dave says:

        Bill

        Too bad we had 5 episodes of pain to get to the payoff. But the number and specificity of the leaks led me to conclude they finally realized they’d messed up and saw what would be a good seller.

      • atcDave says:

        There was no doubt by that point they knew they’d screwed up royally. From the Olympics break (end of Mask on), all PR was damage control.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks guys. I must say that just the idea of leaking things from an episode 4-5 down the road to try and do damage control because things were spiraling out of control says a lot about a lot of things. First it shows a complete lack of trust and belief in your own story. That letting it play out on screen wasn’t going to have people say “Oh now we get why you did all that and it was worth taking us on this ride through hell, Brilliant work!”. It says that DR’s comments about how even the crew was saying Sarah/Shaw was a disaster were probably right on point. It says “we know we royally screwed up and we don’t want to lose anymore viewers if we want a chance at renewal.It says they were in full panic mode all the while they are trying to continue the facade publicly that “To me, Shaw is the epitome of a classic spy. You know, the kind of broad-shouldered hero/spy…on another spy show, Sarah and Shaw would be the heroes of that show. …they’re cut from the same cloth and in some ways he’s the type of guy she should be with. ” When absolutely nothing of that was ever shown on screen. It really is a bit dishonest. Here you are telling your viewers one thing but in the background you are leaking things because those same viewers are screaming that what you are telling them and what you are showing them are two completely different things.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Let’s be honest. CF was a PR guy. That’s what a showrunner is. You would have to take anything that he says with a huge grain of salt, right? Of course he can’t say that Shaw was a disaster. So he changes the subject. This is exactly why I shake my head over the uproar that I was calling CF a liar when I said that he wasn’t interested in the relationship. It was a PR guy who said that he was. Liar might be a bit strong. But to assume he’s being totally candid, about anything really, is naive.

        We maybe don’t give CF enough credit sometimes as the creative force behind the show. But as the PR guy, he was simply horrible. You could see the smirk from a mile away. I don’t think that I ever read an interview from him where I didn’t come away shaking my head.

        And the leaks (if they were intentional, nobody has ever admitted that) weren’t designed to bolster ratings. Only a very few people were invested enough to even know about them, not nearly enough to affect ratings. They knew that they were about to lose the rabid base, and that’s what all of the panic was about. And they did lose a substantial part.

      • Really? When did an episode promo ever show us what was really going to happen? But, if you look at the promo again – specifically at the 0:20 mark, you see a glimpse of the Paris hotel scene.

      • So my comment above is from the promo for Other Guy. Didn’t refresh & see all the comments for the Honeymooners leaks.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, she that’s were it becomes disingenuous. To the larger audience you are spinning something that if anyone looks closely at it sees clearly that what you are saying isn’t accurate in the least. You are simply reading from the PR handbook, and not well I might add. But to your rabid fanbase, the ones who bought the subway sandwiches, made flash mobs and would create “not a Nielsen family”, you are leaking material from further down the road that you are hoping will calm the revolt you have created by your own screwup. The very screwup you are denying to the masses. You are doing this because you need those rabid fans to create some of the buzz needed to get you another renewal. I’m not one that believes much in coincidences and for right at the height of Chuckpocalypse there to suddenly be damage control interviews, significant leaks that show things will be all right in the end seems quite intentional to me. It shows that they realized the damage was even greater than they suspected and that if they didn’t do it those rabid fans might not be there when they needed them. I also content that is shows a lack of faith in your story. You realize it is failing and want folks to focus on what’s down the road and not right in front of them.

  19. thinkling says:

    Wow, by now it seems almost OT to talk about Cat Squad. 😉

    I’ll admit it’s a mixed episode, but there’s (almost) always much to like or love in any Chuck episode (with a few miserable exceptions).

    The almost negative: I’m never very comfortable with angry interpersonal conflict, so there was that. But that was part and parcel of the episode and its growth. Neither we nor they were supposed to be comfortable with it.

    The anger in context doesn’t bother so much. It seems almost normal. Sarah’s anger is nothing new. We saw it in the Pilot and Helicopter. At the center of Sarah’s anger in the Pilot and Helicopter was duty and betrayal. She was angry with Bryce because he betrayed everything she believed in (and her). She was also angry that the the NSA was taking over, because she wanted to fix it. In Helicopter, she’s still angry at Bryce’s betrayal, both of his country and her. Chuck incurred her wrath, because 1) he betrayed her (by not trusting her and painting her with the same brush as Bryce) and 2) he compromised the mission when he risked the Intel in his head.

    In Nemesis, it was about self betrayal. Sarah’s feelings betrayed her and interfered with duty. So she’s angry at herself and by extension Chuck, because it was his fault for making her fall in love with him, dang it. But again she was determined to fix it.

    In Cougars her anger flared again, but for personal reasons. She didn’t want to reveal or revisit her past. She was upset with Chuck at the OO, but when it became a mission involving her past, he suffered the fallout of her anger (and partly because the mission was his fault for flashing). Because of Chuck’s support, most of that particular anger drained away, and after Cougars, there was no more anger over Chuck getting glimpses of her past.

    Most of the time (except for Pink Slip), Sarah was not directly angry with Chuck. But he sometimes wound up between her and the object of her anger. And so it is in Cat Squad.

    What’s the source of her anger in Cat Squad? It’s back to the honor and betrayal thing. It has nothing to do with Chuck knowing about her past. It’s not even really about his helping with the engagement party. She’s not comfortable with that part. She wishes he would leave it alone, but she’ll navigate through it. And she does … until the the whole thing turns into a mission with a traitor from her past.

    The lion’s share of her anger is directed at Zondra, who she assumes betrayed her and sold out the CATS to Gaez. When they are betrayed again, that does it. Her anger erupts … at Zondra (and Gaez). Enter Sarah the fixer. She’s going to right the wrong, clear the air, and fix everything … bring down Gaez and the mole. Chuck falls into that the middle of that anger and thwarts Sarah’s big fix.

    She holds on to the anger a little while until Chuck is in trouble. Then the anger is unimportant. She just wants him safe.

    In the end this negative is turned into a huge positive. I’m sure some of you will think I’m over stating, but I don’t see this as a lesson relearned. I think Sarah gains new ground in Cat Squad. Sarah learns that it’s okay to let others help her. She grew up self-reliant, never needed anyone or anything (Chuck is the gift she never dreamed she could want or need, remember). Agent Sarah Walker didn’t. need. help . Ryker confirmed this in Baby, when she faced the lesson again. Her confession at the end is one of the best of the series. (For me, it rivals the confessions of Suitcase and Phase 3.) Love and forgiveness are shared, and Sarah gains new freedom as she learns to share her burdens.

    What else I liked besides the negative turned positive: I loved having Ellie back as a big sister to Chuck and Sarah. Always love the Sarah/Ellie scenes, and we got two — a record. And I really liked Ellie as Chuck’s voice of reason again. I just missed Ellie. I guess since Morgan was busy with Carina, the bromance took the week off, and we got Ellie back. Yay.

    I loved the last scene, Chuck’s look of happiness and Sarah finally on the inside of normal, instead of on the outside looking in (as she was in Truth, Marlin, and Fake Name).

    The Morgan/Carina part (my ex? really?) was kind of meh, except for Morgan’s air kisses to Beckman. *snicker* Mostly, I’m glad they steered clear of the deeply creepy waters, for Alex sake.

    Cat Squad was a conflict of fixers. Sarah wants to fix an injustice. Chuck wants to fix old wounds and relationships. It’s full of humor and explosions, heart and warmth and growth. In the end I found much to enjoy.

    As a PS, I pretty much took the rope cutting as comedy. Had Chuck merely grabbed the rope to right himself, he wouldn’t have been but about a foot or two off the floor. Hence it was played for laughs, plain and simple … like extraction by fist.

    • atcDave says:

      Very well thought out, interesting comment Thinkling; thank you! Never apologize for putting us back on track!
      I agree about being no great fan of the anger, but everything here did seem faithful to the character, and was resolved in such a satisfying way. CAT Squad is a fun and satisfying; even if not quite “great”, episode to me.
      And I love looking at it the way you did; Chuck and Sarah as different sorts of fixers, who clash here over goals they actually don’t disagree about.

    • BillAtWork says:

      Thinkling, I don’t quarrel with any of that. Here is the distinction I would add.

      In all those other situations, Chuck was Sarah’s asset. Now he is her fiance. That should change things. Chuck shouldn’t have had to plead in Seduction Impossible to get to know her better. That’s one of the things that a wife owes a husband. It’s really not optional, right?

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t see how being Chuck’s fiancée would change her anger toward betrayal. That’s one of Sarah’s hot buttons whether she’s married, single, handler, fiancée, or soccer mom. My engagement ring didn’t change me over night. Neither did my wedding ring … or David’s either, come to think of it.

        We see Sarah working on her issues and learning how to be more normal, vulnerable, dependent. But it’s a process. She makes a big step in CAT Squad, which I thought was fun to watch.

        Seduction Impossible … Huh? Where did that come from? I was relating instances of Sarah’s past anger to her anger in CAT Squad, which is in line with what we’ve seen before (and wouldn’t change just because her relationship status changed). It’s a non sequitur to go from her CAT Squad anger to her issues in SI. They’re unrelated.

        But, ok, I’ll weigh in on that one, too.

        Chuck shouldn’t have had to plead in Seduction Impossible to get to know her better. That’s one of the things that a wife owes a husband. It’s really not optional, right?

        I think plead is a little strong. Chuck knows Sarah has baggage. He’s been gradually lightening it since practically the beginning. He gave her a pass in Cougars, because it was what she needed. He asked her to open up a little more in Seduction Impossible … because it was what she needed, not because it was what she owed him. That notion sort of smacks.

        Sarah has come a long way and opened up a lot. She’s not at all the closed off spy of Wookie. She’s so so far from that. There are still some things she doesn’t want to talk about. Is that normal? Do people have things from their past they’d rather not share? Yes. Even with their spouse? Well, yes. Sometimes there’s good reason, and sometimes it takes a little more time. Sarah is unyielding about protecting those she loves. In this case, she was being faithful to her protective nature. Would it have been better for her to tell Chuck about her mom and Molly? Probably, but there was that vow to keep them safe. Finally, of course, she did tell Chuck everything about them, and we all smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. The point, though, is that this one thing about Sarah’s mom, like secrets even real people keep, was hard for her to give up. It took time.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Well I disagree, a little anyway. big surprise, right?

        Chuck wanting to know more about Sarah has been a constant theme from almost the very first episode. And I saw that expressed again in Seduction Impossible. I think ‘plea’ works, for me anyway. It was Chuck saying, now that we’re engaged, not that I’m the future Mr. Sarah Walker, can’t I get to know you a little better? It was the culmination of the plea that he started in Wookie. Can’t I know something real about you?

        Out of respect to Ernie, we won’t talk about Fake Name today, 🙂 but Chuck wanting inside of Sarah’s hidden world was always high on his list.

        And, okay, ‘deserve’ might not be the best word. But should he have had to ask that question? Shouldn’t the Sarah of ‘new rule, no secrets, no lies’ have let the man that she loves and is going to spend the rest of her life with, into that secret world? Is that really unreasonable?

        Again, out of respect to Ernie, I’ll wait until tomorrow to point out my issue with Sarah’s ‘growth’.

      • thinkling says:

        No, not a constant theme. In the minds of some fans, maybe, but not on screen. The plea that he started in Wookie (and that was a plea) he ended in Cougars. Period. After Cougars, Chuck never asked again … until Seduction Impossible. in Cougars, he said he didn’t need to know … and he didn’t.

        In Seduction Impossible, he didn’t ask Sarah to share about her family/past for his sake. He asked for her sake. The whole conversation was prefaced by the fact that they were glad they had talked and Sarah’s quiet honesty about wanting to avoid her family. Then Chuck says, “You’ve done so much to help my family. How can I help yours?” That sounds much more like an offer of his love and help than a selfish plea for information. I guess I see that whole scene a little differently.

        You talk as though Sarah has been a wall ever since Wookie, which is obviously not the case. I would say Chuck has been inside Sarah’s secret world, as you call it, for a long time. Not all at once, but actually beginning in Cougars and continuing in DeLorean, Chuck gets glimpses of Sarah’s real world. In Living Dead, she made it clear that he was the only one she trusted with her world and herself, when she gave him her spy will. I would say Chuck is well ensconced in her secret world, in which there is still a locked closet.

        Out of respect for Ernie (and the rest of us), I would ask that you watch Fake Name before you talk about it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        In Seduction Impossible, he didn’t ask Sarah to share about her family/past for his sake. He asked for her sake.

        I think that you’re drawing a distinction where there isn’t a difference. Wanting to know your wife better isn’t a ‘for me’ thing. It’s an ‘us’ thing. That’s exactly what he was trying to do in the mission. He wasn’t doing it for him. He saw her in danger and wanted to help.

        Why exactly is that bad?

        And this is my issue (sorry Ernie). Sarah seems to have had this same growth epiphany several times. Exactly what did she mean in Phase Three by “I have so much that I want to tell you”? To me, she was saying that she was ready to open up to him. What did it mean to you?

        And I guess, we’ll not talk about Fake Name anytime soon. I have no intention of watching it.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m still trying to find a way to un-watch it. 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Bill, you seem to be the only one who wants to have this argument.

        First of all, the comment to which you are responding is about Cat Squad. You couldn’t quarrel with my Cat Squad post, though you added a distinction (which I disagreed with in the context of Sarah’s anger issues).

        But then you took a flying leap into unrelated territory concerning the last scene of Seduction Impossible. So, here we are inside your argument about something unrelated to my original post. So, I’ll digress one last time.

        I think that you’re drawing a distinction where there isn’t a difference. Wanting to know your wife better isn’t a `for me’ thing. It’s an `us’ thing.

        Bill, you’re the one who made the Seduction Impossible scene a one sided ‘for me’ thing by saying that Chuck was pleading to know Sarah better, adding your caveat that it was his due as her husband-to-be.

        After I countered with a different view of the scene, you came back and defended your point of view with a sweeping characterization of the show, which I pointed out was untrue. Then I reiterated that the point of the scene was Chuck offering Sarah his love and help, not his pleading for something he had quit asking for 50 episodes ago.

        … That’s exactly what he was trying to do in the mission. He wasn’t doing it for him. He saw her in danger and wanted to help.

        Okay, I’m getting whiplash. Discussing with you is like trying to win a stuffed animal at a carny shooting gallery. Not only is this argument a non sequitur from your original argument, its two components are unrelated.

        But no matter, because you quickly moved on to another pet criticism about Sarah’s growth. I won’t even try to keep up. I commented on Sarah’s growth, as it pertains to Cat Squad, in my original post — about Cat Squad. I won’t digress further into unrelated tangents and pet peeves.

        A bit earlier you said, “I’m getting weary of having to keep hammering this point.” Then feel free to stop, because we’re also weary of being hammered. As a guest at this blog you are under no obligation to keep hammering any points.

        On the other hand, we who host the blog feel a legitimate obligation to keep things positive. It is a fan blog, after all.

        Like I told you before, our goal is to write and explain and discuss in a way that helps people get more out of the story, find something to appreciate about an episode, see something cool they missed before, and leave liking Chuck a little more … not less.

      • BillAtWork says:

        You’re absolutely right.

        I’m a guest here. And I was under the impression that these posts existed to have an honest, intellectual discussion about the show, what we liked about it, but also where we saw the faults and what could be done better.

        I get that that you want to keep things positive. Okay, but IMO, the spin to make every point positive gets you quickly into an intellectually dishonest position where any dissent has to be, by definition, characterized as confrontational and needs to be suppressed. I’m uncomfortable having that type of discussion.

        We talked a lot about my tone. Well, I find your tone patronizing, needlessly confrontational, and offensive. So I think it’s far better for everyone involved if I just move on.

        Enjoy your blog.

      • Wilf says:

        Bill, I do think it’s sad. You are a great ff writer (and I love your Chuck stories, particularly C.O.L.DR) and a major and important contributor to this blog. But I see the start of a pattern here. You were highly upset by comments on ff.net a while back and left. You don’t like what some people here are saying to you, so you are leaving. I can’t really understand why you’d do that.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Hey, Wilf.

        First of, thanks for the nice words. I’ve enjoyed my time in the Chuck fandom. I’m not done yet.

        I’m not sure that this post is going to reach you. It is definitely OT.

        But I do want to set the record straight. I’m not upset. I don’t particularly like the tone of some of the things directed at me, but that’s not why I’m leaving. I’m a big boy. I can defend myself. But Thinkling in her last post is ultimately right. This is their blog. They have a perfect right to moderate it in any way that they choose. And it’s also clear that my POV is not welcome here. I’m frankly not willing to moderate my POV to fit in with what would be welcome.

        So why keep causing this tempest in a tea pot tension? Nobody is changing anybodies mind. Isn’t it better that we agree to move on? It’s taking people who should be friends and causing undue tension between them. That’s a pretty silly thing to fight over, right? A show that has been off the air for approaching multiple years.

        For the record, I have some legitimate respect for the principals. Most of them I’ve known since the NBC Chuck board days. I actually agree with them far more than I disagree.

        The FF.net thing is different. That wasn’t over bad reviews. Again, I’m a big boy. But I was getting anonymous personal attacks from people which I couldn’t respond to. That was getting annoying. So I left and published my stories in a forum where you couldn’t attack me anonymously. I’m currently posting a story on FF. I’ll probably post CoL there once it’s finished.

        So you (or anyone) can say anything to me. I’ll either agree or defend myself. But people can disagree without becoming disagreeable.

        Can’t they?

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, well I certainly hope you would reconsider. TBH the threads where we all just agree and praise TPTB are rather dull and boring. Look at the season 3 threads vs the alternatives. 10 – 20 postings vs 200. I enjoy reading your pov. Sure we agree on much but you come at it from a storyteller’s perspective I for one find enjoyable. I don’t want to just accept what they gave me but want to find ways to make it better. I left ChuckTV because controversy or challenging TPTB was frowned upon there. I don’t think it has been here which is why I still come by but 20 post threads about the merits of Muuurder will have me moving on real fast and eventually this site will die. I want to talk about why that episode is the worst of season 4 instead. I hope you will be here with me to discuss that. Plus I think it would be a real shame when we get to the finale to not hear your pov.

      • So many things wrong/offensive in this comment. Can’t go on about it myself without doing likewise.

      • Wilf says:

        Hi Bill. I did’t ever get the sense that your views are unwelcome here, but, then, I’m not a regular poster and maybe I’d feel different if I thought that some of the stuff expressed here was directed at me in a negative way. I do hope you’ll stay because, as per Uplink, I like to see animated debate about the merits (and de-merits) of the various episodes; not just bland, positive views of them all (although I don’t actually think anyone here is totally uncritical of all episodes).

      • BillAtWork says:

        Guys, I agree with you. That’s exactly how I tried to conduct myself. But let’s face it. This is not our Blog. It’s not left to us to make those editorial decisions. And the people in charge do not want to have that discussion. We have no choice but to respect that.

        I tried to point out the reasons that CAT really didn’t work for me. I used historical references to try and explain why I felt the way I did. One of the principals, in an ever escalating hostile tone, tried to prove me wrong. She took my historical references, and explained that they didn’t mean what I was saying.

        But here’s the thing. I was stating how I felt, how I currently feel. How could I possibly be wrong? If I’m wrong I’m either lying through my teeth, intentionally playing devil’s advocate, or suffer from split personality disorder.

        This episode ranked 76th out of 91. Clearly I’m not alone in not liking it much. So doesn’t that beg the question why? For me, I didn’t hate this episode but I also didn’t care for it much. I found the story of Sarah’s growth more than a little repetitive. I kept waiting for the “Take off your watch” moment where Sarah would show some of the growth they had shown us over and over and start acting differently. And to be fair, we never saw it. As late as Baby, she was still the same. The growth never really existed. I also didn’t care for the tone of the episode. In Suitcase, the tone was playful and light. I didn’t feel that way here. It was tense. I didn’t like Sarah and I didn’t respect Chuck. And since Chuck and Sarah and their love story is the main reason I watch the show, it’s always going to be hard for me to enjoy an episode where I don’t like them.

        But when I try and explain my POV, to respond to the attempt to prove me wrong, I’m cast as repetitive, constantly negative, and confrontational. Okay, so the casters are making the rules here. So by definition I’m repetitive, constantly negative, and confrontational. They make the rules. I simply can’t make myself fit into those rules. So why subject everyone to this hostile environment?

        It’s best to just move on, right?

      • joe says:

        So do it already!!! 😉
        Bill, you’re making me laugh! What you just wrote (and pretty elegantly, too) was precisely what we’re trying to avoid. It’s a rehash of everything you’ve already said (again and again and again), it’s “meta”, a whiny downer and a tiny bit insulting to an identifiable Thinkling, whom you cast as hostile (again).

        Sorry. I’m laughing again at that last idea.

        Look. I understand you don’t get it, so I’ll help, personally. Your next post is going into moderation.

      • Wilf says:

        For me, since I don’t often seem to, if ever, express a contentious POV (or any POV!), it’s not a big deal. I occasionally say what I think; someone else disagrees; I usually don’t even respond but, instead, move on. It’s only a TV series, albeit a brilliant if not the very most utterly unbelievably fantastic one ever. So, Bill, if “moving on” means moving on to the next episode, then that’s great. If, by “moving on”, you mean leaving this forum, then that’s sad and a real shame. Joe – I’m sure moderation is unnecessary, though.

    • authorguy says:

      Thanks for getting us back on track, Thinkling, although I have to say that that was one of the more enjoyable S3 discussions I’ve had here.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Enjoyable for who? Each discussion gets harder and harder to even read lately as everyone seems to be engrossed hashing out what parts of the show sucked most.

      • authorguy says:

        Enjoyable for me, of course. It didn’t degenerate into one of those endless series of anti-Shaw, wt/wt, pointless OLI, block of wood diatribes, followed by everyone agreeing that everyone else is right about how bad it was. That puts me off a thread right away.

      • joe says:

        You make an awesome point, Marc. Besides more of Think’s great words, what is it that you would like to see discussed? What are the points that deserve more attention? Tell me, please.

        And anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

      • Probably the biggest take-away for me was the realization I had that S3 was the natural development of S1 & S2, not an aberration, and more important that S4 was anomalous. Chuck did both very well, but I guess the decision as to which is the proper line of development depends on your view of the series. If a light romcom with no great degree of character development or forward motion is your thing then I suppose S4 would be the way to go, but I saw the character development under S1 and S2 and saw where that had to lead. S4 would only work in my view if more of the episodes were like Phase Three. Bill’s idea of the Cat Squad rewritten to have C&S put the CATs in their place would have worked for me, and now I may end up writing that episode after all, if I can figure out how to make it fit the nine2five model.
        I was also very glad for JC’s and Peter’s contributions. Obviously I think that Shaw and Hannah were poorly used, but it’s nice to see other ways to use them. The idea of Shaw as a cautionary example for Sarah is another that could have been explored,in several ways. He said it himself, they were the same, a good bit of foreshadowing.
        But really it was just the impression I got this time around that the dislike of S3 wasn’t monolithic, that different people had different dislikes. Admittedly, going over this thread again I see a lot of S3 bashing, but it doesn’t have the same tone as the usual S3-bashing. Once the yammering starts I come away with the feeling that not only is nothing I say going to do any good, nothing I have said, ever, to anyone, has meant anything to anyone. I finally felt like some of what I was saying was actually being heard.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m really not eager to start another round of this S3 hand wringing, so I’ll keep this brief.

        S3 started out (even before S3 because this scene was in flashback) with Sarah pleading with Chuck to run away with her so that she could be a real girl again, and Chuck callously shoving his ticket back in her face. Nothing built upon that foundation could have possibly worked for me.

        S3 could have been dark. It could have had angsty tough choices. It could have had C/S struggling to come up with what compromises were they willing to make in their relationship to stay spies… and conversely, what compromises were they willing to make as spies to be in a relationship. But it couldn’t have OLIs. That ship (no pun intended) had sailed.

      • atcDave says:

        Yup, I agree completely Bill. Fatally flawed at conception. Doesn’t mean here wasn’t a good story that could be found under it all, or that there wasn’t a good story that could have been told with some of those elements; but right from their very first thoughts and instincts about the season, there was no way I could have liked it.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc I would also add, having been doing this here for six years now, there really hasn’t been much change in the various reactions to S3. Many of those most POed by it are gone, but all the various love it, hate it, somewhere in between are all still here. When we did the whole S3 part of the re-watch we segregated the viewpoints which may have left many of those with in between perspectives no real outlet. But they’ve always been there, and I suspect opinions on the matter are pretty set in stone at this point.

      • I know, that’s why I was so surprised. Usually the litany isn’t so nuanced.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agree completely Bill. Shaw wasn’t why season 3 was a non-starter, Prague was. The blunder of the Shaw character and casting only made it that much worse. What fails is that it was intentionally mean and abusive behavior so that they could tear them apart one more time for another round of pointless OLI’s. It wasn’t character driven or honestly story driven. It was intentionally despicable behavior to create the contrived outcome they wanted. From there it just spiraled downhill even further, burying the necessary spy story underneath tons and tons of useless manure.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for an excellent post Thinkling. I personally found very little to dislike in this episode. I also thought the rope cutting was funny, with Chuck eagerly pointing out all the tranq’ed guys trying to deflect what he knew was coming. Or his overzealous baggage handling, trying to make things up to Sarah.

      Having Sarah come to terms with a part of her past was a nice touch, especially when in the final scene they showed how hard this is for her, even as she is grateful to have Chuck to “help” her.

      And a nod to a favorite aspect of the show that was highlighted in Carina’s apology, having Morgan and Alex constantly around these spies who tower over them as if they are a different species. I always get a good chuckle out of that visual.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, this is for Ernie. Least you think that all I consider is the bad stuff.

        Let’s talk about some of my favorites.

        I was re-watching Imported Hard Salami the other day and I was reminded of how much I loved the scene with C/S in the trunk. It was a scream. It’s certainly not a Charah scene at all. They were fighting as openly as they ever have. Yet there was zero angst. It was the type of dry comedy that I wished they would have let Yvonne do more of. Pure gold.

        Maybe the moment that I most often re-watch is in Seduction. “But you have to ask yourself. Is she worth dying for?” That never fails to send shivers down my spine. I think I’ll take a break and go watch it again right now.

        Santa Claus. The look on Sarah’s face after Chuck left after he gave her the bracelet and she was thinking through what it meant. It was the moment when I first said to myself “That girl can really act.”

        Maybe my favorite episode (depending on what day you ask) is DeLorean. I’m stunned that it is not higher on the list. It was funny and cute, and there was no triangle in sight.

        Best Friends. I loved the look of pure anguish on Sarah’s face when she thought that Chuck had just been killed. Agent Walker doesn’t cry. But that did it.

        My favorite part of Colonel wasn’t Barstow. It was “two beds?” it was the first time that Sarah genuinely told Chuck how she felt. Well, maybe “Yeah, you are.” from First Date. Both were pretty great.

        Dream Job. When Chuck tells dad “I’m not who you think I am.” And Orion tells him “I’m not who you think I am either.” Great powerful moments.

        Suitcase. I loved slightly jealous Sarah. I would have loved to see more of her.

        Maybe my favorite scene of the series is the dual scene of dream Sarah and real Sarah both pleading for him to come back to her. Wow, right? But I also loved her confession to Casey “I’m different without Chuck and I don’t like it.” it was a rare look into Sarah that we didn’t get much of.

        Does that make you feel better? Even I little? I have more. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Those are all great moments Bill, thanks for sharing.

        I’ve been considering a a series of posts on season/series impressions when we finish this in a few months. Maybe something on favorite scenes or moments would be fitting too.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave I’d like that for the next phase for the site. @Bill, great list and I have to agree with you about Delorean. Top 5 for me. It is the episode that took me from liking the show to becoming obsessed with it. It has everything I looked for from the show. Great comedy, romance, great characters and those special moments between Chuck and Sarah that are what drives the obsession for me. It really was the first one I saw because I started watching with the Jill arc. But the articulate schnook scene was fantastic. And “Lumbergh” Jack Cole became my favorite guest star ever on the series.

        Those C/S moments every few episodes are the things I as a fan feast on most. It’s what reinvigorates my passion for the show. When we went for a far too long a period without them, no need to mention specifically but we all know what I’m talking about, my passion for the show waned. They don’t have to be in every episode but need to happen every few. In Delorean we got a great one but also a similar one in the “Why did you put the money in Chuck’s account?” scene with Jack followed by Jack’s handing over the responsibility for protecting his daughter to a man he trusted completely. Something Jack Burton rarely if ever did.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yup,

        “I read people. That’s the only talent I’ve got. And one thing is for sure. That kid would never betray you. I made a $10 million bet hat he loved you. ”

        “But one reallly good reason to stay… and she would have done the same for me.”

        Great scene.

      • thinkling says:

        Like the list Bill. I like all of those, and I, too, think two beds? is the best of Colonel. I’d be hard pressed to come up with a favorite scene.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Maybe the scene that meant the most with the fewest words was “take off your watch.” Sarah finally overrules Agent Walker. She walked into that Buy More totally prepared to do her duty and betray him… and found out that she simply couldn’t do it.

        Wow.

      • uplink2 says:

        One of the things that make that Jack/Sarah scene so great is the expression on Sarah’s face after Jack tells her that he was right, Chuck loves her. It’s priceless, full of so many things. I think it’s the first time anyone said that to her and to come from her father was surprising, scary and thrilling all at once. Fantastic moment.

      • atcDave says:

        “take off your watch” may be my favorite television moment ever. Chuck has few of those sort of scenes, but that may be the best of the bunch.

      • anthropocene says:

        I’d love a discussion of favorite scenes, moments, and lines. Even less-than-optimum episodes often had at least one little gem like these.

        Here’s one of my favorites, from an episode (vs. Other Guy) that’s always garnered mixed reviews in this blog: it’s the look on Sarah’s drug-dazed face when Chuck appears to save her from S__w. Amazing what Yvonne conveyed with her eyes and a fresh tear, accentuated by a touch of piano….

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree. Yvonne is incredible. And maybe I don’t know enough about the craft to make that statement, but she is the best I’ve ever seen at emoting. Zac has great comedic timing. But Yvonne can express so much without saying anything. My favorite is still in Santa where is is sitting there with that OMG look, lol.

        Speaking of episodes not so highly ranked, I have a couple.

        Anniversary didn’t score very well. But ‘if you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head’ makes it in the upper third for that line alone. Chuck wasn’t a macho guy. But I would have like to have seen just a little more of that.

        Sensei also didn’t score so well. But the exchance between Sarah and Casey about chocolate and peanut butter got a lol from me. And this is a pure shipper thing, but “You’re so sweet,” also registered on my ‘aww’ scale. We didn’t see Agent Walker slip up very much and allow Chuck to see how she really felt.

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah/Yvonne is awesome in Fat Lady. I like to say she owns that episode. I’m no fan of the various triangles; but the way Sarah reacts from beginning to end makes that one worth it.

      • Wilf says:

        Cougers … “… I know who you are …”

  20. oldresorter says:

    298 comments, you guys and gals still have it! Covert Affairs spoiler comment, what a season, wow! The writers of this show took last years problem season and righted the ship by turning things up a notch in response. And, one of my recurring Chuck themes is how the B characters inhibit the ability to sell good drama, as proof, watch last nights episode of CA. Arthur was pretty good, but his wife, Joan, may have had one of the most bad a$$ moments in TV history. A simple scene, supported by a good song, and the pregnant ex-CIA section head ‘delivered’. Not since Arvin Sloan has a big bad sold it like Henry Wilcox, one episode left, what will Annie do, now the she and Henry are mano on mano?

    I wish everyone had liked CAT squad more, for me, the ep really worked. I thought the rope thing was also funny. For people who didn’t like the ep, did you also not like Role Models? How about those who did, did you like Role Models? Both eps had the same sort of vib for me.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting comparison Jason. I liked both episodes, neither are quite favorites, but both have a lot of very fun moments. I can see why you would equate them some.

    • joe says:

      It’s been a great season for Covert Affairs. I really like how Annie Walker (no longer Sarah’s “little sister”) has matured, and I really, really like that she’s been with Auggie this season – more or less.

      And that last thing worries me the most. I’m really afraid that they’re going to end the season (next week! I can’t believe that!) with Henry captured, but Annie and Auggie on the outs. Since there’s very little humor in this show, it’s going to bother me worse than the analogous situation on Chuck.

      But wait! Is there an analogous situation on Chuck? Not as a season ender, I think. The seasons always ended on more of an up-note than that, and even the mid-season enders did too. Oddly, the end of S1 of Castle did end that way, sort of, with Rick going off to the Hamptons with his ex-wife/publicist.

      Anyway, I do have a question about Covert Affairs, though. I know Henry has been trying to destroy Arthur and Joan because of Jae’s death, but who killed Jae and why? If they explained, it went right over my head.

      • oldresorter says:

        I think they dealt with it around the time Arthur visited Henry in jail, one of Henry’s enemies killed him if I recall, but Henry still blamed Arthur for not protecting him. Considering how important the death was, it could have been explained better.

        Joe, are Annie and Auggie important to you? I like them together, but its not important to me, if that makes any sense?

      • joe says:

        Ah, thanks, Jason (and sorry I didn’t get back to this sooner). I vaguely recall that, too.

        I had a hard time with Annie and that first “boyfriend” of hers at the very beginning of the show. Now I realize that whole thing was to make the relationship with Auggie seem more important, but at the time, it made her seem more than a bit naive and, well, trite. The closer Annie’s gotten to Auggie, the more invested I’ve become in them and in the show.

        Which exactly parallels my reaction to C&S (and most of the fan bases’ reaction too, I take it). That’s why I worry about the story line I see coming – Annie going dark has changed her, and Auggie knows it. It’s only a question of how much. Great story line, and of course, it resonates with my ideas about Sarah situation in Gobbler. I’m not 100% sure they’re up to completing the story line in a way that will satisfy me.

  21. KeepChuckAlive says:

    Well… in reading your comments I just relived S3 and S4 respectively. I don’t get much time to post here, but I do enjoy reading your comments and arguments. To be quite honest, I am still conflicted about S3. Lol.

    But, this is about Cat Squad, an episode that is somewhat maligned, but in my opinion much better the third, fourth, or tenth time around.

    I don’t think I can add much more than what has already been written, but I would like to at least tell you guys my own personal experience with this epi. After seeing it for the first time, I was angry. The arguments regarding Sarah OOC and her neglect and even dismissal of our good hearted nerd were glaring and accurate at the time.

    Yet, in subsequent views I’ve had a very different reaction. Maybe it is because I now know Sarah’s whole story, or at least as much as was presented. Or maybe I was still feeling the insecurity created by S3 at the time of the original airing. But now I understand Sarah and why she reacted the way she did. Her anger is well within one of her few character flaws as she begins to lose control of the mission and grapples with her pending nuptials. This character flaw of always having to be in control is one of the bags that Chuck has to carry and will have to carry always for her. The baggage handler bit in the epi has grown on me over time.

  22. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The CAT Squad (4.15) | Chuck This

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