This period seems heavier on stand alone episodes and short arcs than is typical. It will start the engagement period, have a new Intersect arc, and introduce Vivian Volkoff. So once again, let’s talk about some different ways of doing things. The things I want to see “fixed” from this period of the show are few, but there’s always alternatives…
Just as in my previous “Alternatives” post, we’re dealing with a period of the show where I have few serious complaints. So I’m really not thinking in terms of any major, sweeping changes to canon. But I can still imagine a few tweaks to the story, and I’m sure some of us can think of completely different directions the writers could have gone.
In doing the main episode posts I’ve already covered a few things I would have liked to see done a little differently. I’m not going to repeat all of that here, except for a couple of highlights. The biggest isn’t really even a story issue, well maybe the story could have been a little different, but mostly I think Vivian should have been recast or performed very differently. I just never saw that Volkoff character that’s supposed to be in her. Now of course Volkoff is the product of a computer program, but we were told a few times in these early episodes, that Vivian is her father’s daughter. I needed to see some strength, toughness, and maybe a bit of mental instability to buy that. What we got was pretty understated. And she seemed mostly confused and adrift. Her actions are a bit psychotic; from deciding Chuck has betrayed her, to siding with Riley, to later trying to kill Sarah for the alleged grievances. But the performance is just WAY too understated for this show. In short, its no fun at all.
Ellie’s story is another thing I would have liked to see play out a little differently. For starters, I think it makes both Chuck and Ellie look a little silly that she is being kept in the dark here. It could work if Ellie was actually working for the government to sort out her dad’s research. Even better, if Team B knows what she’s involved with, but Beckman and company have no idea about her research. Maybe that starts with Chuck never explaining how
he got the Intersect working again? Or maybe the computer simply stays with Chuck and/or Ellie. Or maybe Chuck makes a copy of the hard drive for Ellie and the government so both have versions. I think I like that last option the best. That would allow both the government’s hell spawn Intersects while Ellie makes her Agent X discoveries. The other thing that needs to play into this is Ellie discovering Chuck as the Intersect. In canon, its almost a throw away moment, as Agent X immediately becomes far more interesting than Chuck. I think we should have had an episode or two when Ellie is learning about how the Intersect works (and occasionally doesn’t) on Chuck. Maybe they can even clarify the impact of her alterations to her father’s original design. Like maybe Chuck no longer needs the governor? Or maybe he will be less prone to locking up when emotionally overwhelmed? Any of this could have been fun and interesting material to get into. Maybe even we get to see Chuck and Ellie experimenting with the original design to change some details, and we end up with the occasional odd glitch. Like wrong skills going off, maybe downloading “Match-lock” instead of “AR 15” (Sarah says “Chuck you really don’t need a powder horn to use that gun…”) or learning Esperanto when he needed Portuguese. Apart from a brief scene in Operation Awesome I was always disappointed in how the Intersect never had any fun malfunctions, this could have been another opportunity to get some of those.
Some good fan fiction does come out of this stage of the show. Let me start with “Ellie vs the Bridesmaids” by Imagination-Parade. This doesn’t spin off from any particular show moment, and could logically be almost anywhere from the end of CAT Squad to right before the wedding. But it does seem fairly early in the process as Ellie spends the day with Sarah and the other bridesmaids to do some wedding planning. Actually, they never get out of Castle’s costuming room, but that’s hardly the point. What is really fun with this story is Ellie getting a rather terrifying glimpse of her soon to be sister-in-law’s life. This piece is only two chapters long and could be read in 20 minutes..
Another fun story, and more of a true alternate, from this period is “Chuck vs the Bank Robbery” by Lucifugee. This has bank security footage from Chuck and Sarah’s spectacular heist at the end of Bank of Evil being leaked to the press. And its seen by Ellie, Devon, and a roomful of their friends. This is over the top wild fun. Unfortunately it was never finished, abandoned two and a half years ago. But enough is here to get the point. What we have is a highly entertaining set up to something would have gone off in a completely different direction from the show. Don’t be scared off by it being incomplete, it is a fun start, and we can imagine the wild directions it might have gone from the abrupt end. It could be read in less than an hour.
My final offering here is far more involved than the others. This one starts with Sarah’s need to replace her Porsche (so again, after CAT Squad). It is “Sarah vs The New Car” by Quistie64. The title sort of sums it all up, how did Sarah decide on the Lotus? Of course it involves government cut backs, lots of bad advice, and a shady car salesmen. All is a ton of fun and could be read in about an hour. If memory serves, I believe this story ties in to Quistie’s longer Ninja Librarian stories. But we will save those for later posts in this series.
As always, I hope to hear from any of you may have ideas on how the show might have gone for this period. And I’ll do another Alternatives post with related fan fiction after we do the Season Four finale next month.