Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07)

The Omen Virus has been unleashed, Shaw is revealed as the mastermind, and he’s abducted Sarah to gain leverage to complete the Intersect 3.0.  That leads to the final, epic showdown between Chuck and Shaw.

After the jump, we’ll discuss the final season’s Christmas episode and conclusion of the conspiracy arc.

Weighing in at 36 in our ranking the episodes poll indicates most viewers seemed to rank Santa Suit as just slightly above average.  For myself, I might rank this one another ten to fifteen spots lower, but still in that “mid-average” sort of range.  There is much that is fun, exciting and all around entertaining about this episode.  There’s also a few things that rub me wrong.

But what’s fun is excellent. A few favorite moments of mine being extorting Jeff and Lester into helping crack the Virus (I like how low Lester settles, and that Jeff was thinking bigger, but just shrugs and goes along) and the wicked funny CIA Christmas party.  The party has a couple stand out moments; Stan Lee an LA spy, and Chuck and Diane making out.  Oh my, that’s a highlight reel all by itself.  Especially General Beckman’s attitude and reaction to it all the way through to the end of the episode.

Some of the more dramatic material here doesn’t work quite as well.  Nothing that I have a big problem with mind you (or I wouldn’t rank it middle of the pack!), but the Sarah/Shaw scenes just don’t do much for me.  Yvonne performs capably as always, but the lack of chemistry is at play even here.  And Shaw just comes with so much baggage, I’m just really not interested in anything this character has to bring.

It’s been suggested by some viewers recently that perhaps the conspiracy really didn’t end with Shaw, and once upon a time I had considered that likely myself.  But watching and listening to dialogue, I really can’t defend that.  Shaw claims to be the end game, that he orchestrated everything from prison, and it was all about him.  It does make sense that no other arch-conspirator would just casually agree to let Shaw himself get the Intersect 3.0.  But this is a very underwhelming resolution to the conspiracy.  Quinn will later do a much better job decloaking and presenting himself as a rival to be feared.  I really think this would have played better if Shaw was just another flunky, or better, if someone else entirely played this role.  This never rises to be a major complaint, more of a little disappointment.

Some viewers also complained about the nature of the violence against Sarah in this episode.  This isn’t huge to me; Sarah is a very tough lady working in a tough business.  So she’s at some risk, and gets hurt.  Seems fair enough.  I admit to be an old enough, traditional enough sort of guy I get just zero enjoyment from seeing a lady beat up like this though.  Not to mention I would just generally prefer to see Sarah dishing it out instead of taking it.  But again, this isn’t a huge complaint to me.

Actually my biggest complaint seems silly even as I write it, but its bothered me every time I watch this episode.  I just hate that after Ellie conks Shaw on the head, Chuck just stops and chats with her for a minute.  A minute when by all rights, he doesn’t really know if Sarah is alive or dead. This really rubs me wrong.  Now I tried to evaluate more carefully this time; Shaw does brag that Sarah will be watching Chuck’s death, which would certainly suggest she’s still alive.  And Chuck does dispatch Morgan even before he fights Shaw to rescue Sarah.  So maybe not a big thing.  But it still bothers me.  I wanted to see Chuck go racing off to Castle as soon as he could get away from Shaw.  At least its on my mind that’s what I would do.

The resolution is pretty good.  I like Beckman’s new job offer.  This will be an issue now to the end of the series.  First, we will see clearly where Sarah is at when she decides “no thanks” next week.  This is huge, momentous even, for the lady who suggested way back in Crown Victoria that being a spy was the only thing she was good at; and as recently as Hack Off  had expressed concerns about what she would do if they stopped spying.  And of course it comes up again in Goodbye as the biggest deal of all, when a still recovering Sarah knows something else is more important to her.

I also like Chuck and Sarah’s dirty secrets they confess at the party.  Sarah is briefly worried about how Chuck will react about Shaw kissing her.  I think its safe to say Chuck is passed be jealous about Shaw!  But even better is Sarah’s reaction when Chuck confesses his little action with Diane.  I love her reaction.  Just too funny.

A secondary plot is at play here as well.  Casey trying to do something nice for his daughter, and finally encouraging her to give Morgan another chance.  Awwww, we knew he loved the bearded troll…

Against advice from the General, Sarah does meet with Shaw in prison.  This will expose what is apparently her last big secret from Chuck, and set up a very exciting episode for next week.

~ Dave

I Hate This Episode

Sarah at Shaw's mercy

Sarah at Shaw’s mercy

What can I say? From the opening we see something more than just a major threat looming. We see Sarah brutalized. That alone would be enough to call this episode ugly, but the brutalization continues and continues and continues until I expect to see Chuck vs. The Santa Suit in Webster’s under the definition of gratuitous. You want to turn away – I know I did. What were Amanda Kate Shuman, the writer, Peter Lauer, the director, and most importantly Chris Fedak thinking? That we would like to see that stuff happening to our favorite character?

Shaw, now with Ver. 3.0!

Shaw, now with Ver. 3.0!

Oh, it gets worse. The antagonist is none other than the new and improved Daniel Shaw. Improved? Sure. He’s even more slimy and despicable than the last time we saw him, and that was after he murdered Stephen Bartowski in cold blood. This time the taunts and implied slurs he throws at Sarah are as bad as the punches and backhanded slaps. He succeeds in making us forgive her for whatever dalliance she may have had with the jerk, not out of forgiveness but out of sympathy – She didn’t deserve this kind of pay-back.

Again, I ask – what were TPTB thinking? – That we wanted Sarah to be “paid-back” like this??? I don’t think so.

I’m going to pick on Casey, too. Is this for real? Casey uses a “Mr. Pippers, the Preppy Polar Bear” toy to unlock a CIA detention cell? I must ask, why didn’t he just rip the lock out of the wall and cross two live wires together to work the same TV magic they’ve done a dozen times before? Silly. Ridiculous. And like Lester would say, chubby. This time, that’s not a compliment. It’s almost lazy writing.

I can visualize the writers sitting around the table saying to themselves “How can we make this dumber? I know! Let’s have Jeff and Lester figure out how the Omen virus works. We can even throw in the word ‘reverse-engineer’ to make it seem authentic!” /snark.

Planning - or catatonic?

Planning – or catatonic?

I’m not done complaining. Imagine, if you will, the voice of the little, slimy, Nazi character in the first Indiana Jones movie smiling and half-chuckling when you read these next words. Now let’s talk about Chuck. Shall we? TPTB play games with his character too. Most all the fans got very tired of whiny, indecisive Chuck way back in S2. This week we see him leave Sarah in danger for a cross-country trip to the CIA headquarters with Beckman to essentially give in to Shaw’s demands. Dave is quite right to rail when C&S are separated so long in S3 and I don’t think the fans needed a recapitulation. Chuck, the guy we’re led to believe is maturing as a person and as a spy, actually freezes when he understands he’s facing Shaw.

Morgan: This is bad. This is really bad. He is shutting down.

Colonel Caroline Haim, Chuck's mark

Colonel Caroline Haim, Chuck’s mark

Oh, and is Chuck supposed to be a seducer now? I’m not impressed. Even *I* could have seduced that tipsy Colonel Caroline Haim (Mo Collins) – and that’s saying a lot. For an accomplished spy and 30 year old adult, Chuck looks ridiculous.

I Love This Episode

Say what you want, but Routh is great in Chuck vs. The Santa Suit. I can’t think of a character I want to hate more; that’s the actor’s doing. It’s a portrayal of obsession, rage and unleashed power that works to make Sarah completely overmatched. And that’s not easy, considering she’s beaten Casey in more than one fight. Even better, Routh’s Shaw convinces the viewers that Chuck has no chance even before The Intersect 3.0 is mentioned. When it is, the danger is palpable. Recall that Chuck has already beaten Volkoff without the Intersect. Here, Shaw seems like a much bigger threat, which is exactly what’s needed when the fans are shouting “More! More!”

Casey is now officially far from being that “cold-school burn-out” Sarah introduced us too in the Pilot. Now Casey is feeling real human emotion – and we believe him.

Casey: Don’t you ever say anything like that again.

We believe it because those emotions are for Alex and for Morgan. You know… family.

Casey: You know, that Grimes kid, he’s not that bad. You should maybe give him another chance.

Family has been, and continues to be, one of my favorite themes throughout the show, and Adam Baldwin his the tone just right in a character who’s supposed to be the last to get it.

Jeff and Lester really are idiot savants, aren’t they? It’s not they sometimes save the day. It’s more like they sometimes actually pull a rabbit out of a hat. And every time they do that Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay convince me that they’re the funniest comedy duo since Laurel and Hardy. Having them , not “reverse-engineer” code (written in C++, a dense and obtuse computer programming language if there ever was one), but figure out what it’s doing – a much more reasonable task – was actually quite smart and within the range of their characters. They succeed in the primary mission, which is to make me laugh!

Diane Beckman, star of the show.

Diane Beckman, star of the show.

The real surprise star of this episode is the redoubtable General Diane Beckman. After this, I’m sure Dave’s going to point a finger at me and shout “DUCK!” again, but the fun scene(s) are spot-on and only enhance the effects of her throwing her first Bartowski-family Christmas party. Perfect.

Diane's co-star, Stan Lee

Diane’s co-star, Stan Lee

General Beckman also gets off a chance to dress down the redoubtable Stan Lee. What more could you ask for? Bonita Friedericy, pour yourself a drink for a job well done.

Beckman: We all have to make sacrifices for the job.

I’m going to reserve my greatest praise for Chuck and Sarah. Just when I thought Chuck had made a bad mistake tactically and romantically – twice! – Chuck actually comes up with a plan that both Ellie and Sarah appreciate. Why? How? Seconds after Morgan recognizes that Chuck has gone catatonic, the Chuck I like to see, Carmichael, comes out is spades. When facing the enemy (and “This time, it’s personal!”) Zac shows that Chuck is simultaneously brave, selfless, shrewd and lucky. He’s also angry.

Chuck: Daniel Shaw murdered my father and now he has my wife. He’s gonna wish he never left that prison cell.

There is no whining and there is no self-doubt. That part of Chuck’s character continues right through to his fight with Shaw.

Chuck: If I remember correctly, the last time we were face to face, I kicked your ass.
Shaw: I’ve made sure that’ll never happen again. No Intersect to help you this time, Chuck.
Chuck: I wouldn’t be too sure about that. I’ve been training for a while now.
Shaw: Oh, really? Well… can you compete with the Intersect 3.0? I can practically catch a bullet in my teeth. But you did some push-ups? You hit the heavy bag?

That is a bully’s taunt. There’s few things more satisfying than seeing a bully taken down, even if it’s with the help of a little “Frying-pan Fu” by Ellie.

Stars that sparkle

Stars that sparkle

And Sarah does even better. Fresh off her justified anger at Chuck’s lack of trust in The Curse, Sarah shows nothing but confidence in her husband, even when the situation seems hopeless. Just when Sarah could have taken the opportunity to berate him for having Morgan, of all people, try to free her, she gives Chuck the credit.

Sarah: Thank you.
Chuck: For defeating Daniel Shaw? For stopping the Omen virus? Or was it me getting us invited to rejoin the CIA?
Sarah: For saving me.
Chuck: Technically, Morgan saved you. Because of all the saving going on, I wasn’t able to get you your gift in time for Christmas. However… however, [Chuck holds up the bracelet Shaw took.] An oldie, but a goodie. I hope that this will suffice for now.
Sarah: [whispers] Thank you.

Oh yes. It’s THE bracelet, the one that Shaw stole (thus securing his place as the most despicable bad-guy in the series ev’a). It’s a perfect reminder of their history.



Part of that history, though, is Sarah’s past with Shaw. We don’t like to think about it, but here, we finally see that Sarah’s been troubled by it all along. In a moment that gave me pause, Sarah gently confesses that Shaw kissed her, there in Castle. You can tell that she’s nervous about revealing the incident to her husband and not at all certain how he’ll react. Sarah may be the best and most effective non-intersected agent ever, but she’s also a concerned, caring and fully-human being now. Quite an amazing change.

And how does Chuck react to her confession? Why, with a perfectly humorous confession of his own. Of course, he does that with the help of General Beckman too…

Makes me smile!

Cause it keeps me up for days and it keeps me up for days…

Never wanna let you go
Never wanna see you leave

– joe

[Added: Sorry ’bout the bad proof-reading, folks. I went back and made three corrections that didn’t change the meaning.]


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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152 Responses to Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07)

  1. oldresorter says:

    might be the best review you guys have done. covered the ep from every POV. Well done.

    Am I missing something, who wrote the middle review? I don’t see a name? That is closest to my POV.

    I disliked the episode long violence toward Sarah, and I disliked how cavalier the rest of the episode was given the abusive nature of what was going on to Sarah.

  2. CaptMediocre says:

    This is one of the most schizophrenic episodes of the show. It is simultaneously one of the better episodes of S5 and one of the crappiest. The elements are there for both.

  3. anthropocene says:

    “I’m a much bigger nerd than you thought I was.” Chuck delivered one of the very best lines in the series and the perfect response to Shaw’s “Hello, nerd.”

    • I agree, very understated line, Even Shaw remembered to say Nerd not geek!

      I did not mind the treatment of Sarah, it’s the business they are in, we have seen her gotten knocked out by explosions, beaten up by a thai kickboxer, chained up in the Cole episode, but she’s a spy she has been trained to handle these situations (for the most part), it was actually one of the few things I agree with on this episode. Too much of it was like many said schizophrenic.

  4. CaptMediocre says:

    I’m actually surprised Ernie hasn’t posted 114 paragraphs regarding the “inner beauty and significant meaning” of the Duck sequence in this episode. 😀

  5. dkd says:

    I have no qualms about saying this is my favorite episode of Season 5.

    The danger to Sarah puts the highest stakes on Chuck to succeed and he not only outsmarts Shaw, but he reveals that he isn’t a wimp anymore at physical combat without the Intersect.

    I also love how Morgan, Jeffster, and even Ellie play their part in the final outcome.

    In true Chuck “genre mashup” fashion, they even managed to inject some humor into the proceedings.

  6. Angus MacNab says:

    Nice review guys. This was indeed a bipolar episode, but there were enough ups to more than counterbalance the downs for me and place in the upper middle of my personal rankings.

    Not to pick nits, Joe… but yes, I do believe it is a nit worth picking. Beckman and Chuck didn’t take a cross-country trek to get the Macao device. They were only going to the Los Angeles offices, per Shaw’s orders. It does seem a little ambiguous until Beckman points out that this where they were after Stan Lee’s funny cameo (“Stan Lee is a spy? That’s weird.”), when she says, “Los Angeles spies” rather derisively.

    • joe says:

      Ack! You’re right, Angus. I recall Beckman saying that. Somehow, I got it fixed in my head that they went to Langley.

      It’s one of the first signs, you know. 😉

    • atcDave says:

      We seem to be all over the place on where we place this episode. Except it always seems to come out ahead of Curse…

      • mr2686 says:

        I love Santa Suit. Comes in at number 19 for me (which is quite a bit higher than Curse LOL). I really don’t find it all that bipolar, and I love the way the whole cast has some great momemts. Yes, Sarah is a bit on the sidelines, but she has some solid moments and this is an overall excellent episode.
        Best line in the episode: Lester and Jeff (after drinking all that coffee and being told to go get some water) – No, water can only dilute this feeling…plus, fish have sex in it.

      • atcDave says:

        We’ve definitely had viewers who hated it, some who love it. I’d rank it around 50. So…. all over the place!

      • mr2686 says:

        I’m absolutely stumped by that. I don’t see anything that would put this at the middle of the pack. I guess this is one of those episodes where we are far apart on.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        One word – Shaw.

        In order for Shaw to exist in the Chuck universe, EVERYONE else’s IQ has to plummet.
        – Chuck in the last ep. Chuck in this ep.
        – Sarah in this ep.
        – Decker was a great villain. Not so much anymore.
        – Anyone responsible for CIA prison security.

        I will agree that it was the best use of the character, but I was tired of him by Fake Name.

        Besides, this ep was essentially Ring II all over again.

        Also, (my favorite) THERE WAS NO RESOLUTION.

        I could go on….

      • atcDave says:

        Dislike of Shaw is a fairly small part of it to me. I really don’t like Sarah incapacitated for a whole episode, that lowers it at least ten. Another ten for Sarah being beat on. Minus another ten or twenty for Chuck chatting with Ellie instead of checking on his badly hurt wife, and well, it just isn’t a favorite. Not a bad episode, but not one I get all excited to rewatch either.

      • mr2686 says:

        C’mon Dave, 10 or 20 because he’s “chatting with Ellie”? It’s not like he was asking her about the weather. I just don’t drop an episode because a character I like has a little less to do, and as far as Sarah being “beat on”, well she’s a CIA agent and it’s part of the gig. Now, if it was Ellie being beat on, then that would be a little too much. As for Shaw, I can see where some would be tired of him long before this episode, but I actually think he did a good job this episode. The whole “You’ve been working out” speech was actually his best acting I thought. Anyway, I like the episode and thought it worked well, so I guess my IQ has plummeted…but then again, this is a show about a nerd getting the intersect in his head while looking at pictures sent via email. I can see where we really shouldn’t believe anything else is possible. LOL.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I don’t dislike the episode! You asked why I call it average, and that’s it. It’s nothing big. I don’t hate the episode or consider it a failure. But I do consider it average. Middle of the road both for the series and for the season; for the reasons I gave.
        And yeah, Chuck chatting with Ellie instead of running off after his wife kind of pisses me off.

      • I agree with Mr., Santa Claus is a favorite (although more in the 25-30 range, because I have too many “favorites”). I think part of the divide here is where you come down on Shaw. I make no bones about it; I love Shaw as a villain, and I wish we’d have seen Shaw in Quinn’s role. Routh really shines in this episode, and this is a part of Chuck (along with Couch Lock, First Flight, Ring II, and a couple others) that just basks in 80’s-style hokey villain humor. I burst out laughing every time I hear “Shaw’s so hot, I bet he reads a lot of books.”

        But if you break out in hives every time you see Shaw on screen, it makes sense not to like it as much. If I had one problem with this episode, it’s that Sarah and Casey come off a bit weak. Still, that’s a really minor nitpick since Yvonne gets to really show her chops in this one.

        For the most part, though, I just find the whole episode exceptional. Chuck’s a monster who steals Santa suits and leaves the eyebrows, you know Beckman’s been just waiting for this opportunity ;), Shaw’s evil and deranged, Yvonne can really act, Casey loves his daughter, of course Stan Lee is a spy, I loved Superman 2, and Ellie saves the day! Just a spectacular bit of Chuck.

      • CaptMediocre, what do you mean by saying there is no resolution?

      • CaptMediocre says:


        This episode serves no purpose. Shaw escapes so Chuck can defeat him (again for the third time) and then he ends up back in prison. I’d seen it before.

        Now if Shaw would have died (I’m very pro Shaw decapitation, mainly because it’s hard to recover from), or even escaped for the final 5 eps (I would’ve quit the show right then), this episode would have had a purpose. But without anything changing, it was basically just to tweak the fans.

        And you know this is true because the only reason Shaw is still alive is to have that final scene with Sarah (which only makes Sarah appear dumb, btw). The baby conversation is much better suited for when Sarah is his prisoner in Castle and thing appear hopeless. Then Sarah would have had a reason to do away with him. (Ellie taking Shaw out was …. essentially weightless).

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Also, I think Shaw haters would have given this ep a passing grading if he’d died (for real).

      • joe says:

        I’m not sure “tweaking” the fans is their true motivation, Captn. The way I see it (not that I’m an expert at mind-reading, you know), TPTB were trying to escalate everything before the finale; the threats, the tensions, the emotions… And they were trying to heighten the effects on us, the fans.

        Well, okay. That may amount to the same thing for some, but to others it’s a subtle distinction. It depends on where a viewer draws the line and starts to feel manipulated, as opposed to feeling carried away, by the story.

        But anyway, the stakes are higher for C&S, and that was their main point, I think.

        You may be right that they could have given us the intel needed for Baby after decapitating Shaw, however. But the fact that they didn’t is one of those little things that I really hope becomes a movie tie-in. Read this dialog in the future-perfect tense:

        Shaw: But – but I thought I killed you in the re-animation lab!
        Orion: You did. I’m baaa’aaack!

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I hear what your saying Joe, but for me Shaw doesn’t heighten anything. Once you’re tired that character is tiring.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not quite so cynical about the return of Shaw, I think it was an honest (ish) mistake! I think CF thought we’d all laugh, or groan, along with him at the return of a despised villain. But like so much that related back to S3, I think a significant part of the fandom was less amused by it all than TPTB wanted us to be. Going all the way back to the meta-humor of Fake Name.

      • Captain, that’s not really what resolution means in the context of a story. The resolution of Santa Claus is, basically: bad guy goes back to jail and good guys have a Christmas party. You could say this is the worst resolution in the history of western literature, but it still exists. No resolution would be: Ellie hits Shaw in the head, fade to black, next episode.

        As for purpose, I suppose you could say any standalone ep has no broader purpose except to entertain within the established universe. Again, you might think that they failed at that, which is fine. Whenever Shaw enters the room, a segment of fans will simply not enjoy his presence, and I suppose I can understand that, even if I disagree with your objections.

        Finally, this whole “tweak the fans” thing is needlessly insulting to everybody involved. Obviously quite a few people like the episode (see this site’s polls). But rather than accept the idea that TPTB are simply on the same page as a different group of fans, you’ve asserted they were purposefully trying to annoy you and people who agree with you.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        But if your going to bring a divisive character (TPTB had to know this) such as Shaw back, it should be for more than just to pound on Sarah, give Chuck his BDHM and they go back home. It should be to give that character angle/story some form resolution. Otherwise, what’s the point.

        There was no Shaw resolution, simply Shaw repetition.

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      • Duckman says:

        The intention of bringing back shaw may not have been to tweak the fans, but it sure as hell felt like it to me. A giant loogie to the face is what it felt like to this fan. I was so livid over shaw being on my screen and abusing my favorite character that I completely missed most of what’s good it this ep. I saw the humor and lamented to myself that they’d wasted perfectly good jokes while I impatiently waited for it to be over. I felt slapped around for most of season 5, knowing it wasn’t intentional only makes it sting a little less. After forcing myself to rewatch I do see the ep much differently now that the shock of seeing shaw is gone. I can appreciate a lot about this ep now, but would still rank it bottom 10. Given the chance, I would tell TPTB that they did a lot of other things incredibly well for me to get this wound up and still be here.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Duckman there’s no doubt they did something right that so many of us got all worked up over every misstep!
        I’ve seen plenty of other shows where they sometimes have better or worse episodes. But I’ve never seen another show where the good was so very good; and the bad left me so furious!

  7. Bill says:

    I distinctly recall tuning into Chuck one Friday evening during Season 5. I had stopped watching the show on a regular basis by this point in its run (the Morgansect utterly wore me out), but thought I’d see what was going on in the Chuckverse.

    Imagine my surprise (and horror) when the very first image I saw was Shaw slapping Sarah!

    I shut off the TV immediately, and never watched Chuck again during its original run.

    So, I guess I’m in the hated-it camp.

  8. resaw says:

    You can probably put me in the ambivalent camp, too. I frankly had wished that Shaw would have stayed dead or imprisoned or otherwise out of our heroes’ lives, but I was pleasantly surprised with this viewing (I don’t recall having this impression at earlier times or the original viewing) at how well Routh played the pure unadulterated evil Shaw.

    I do agree that a mostly incapacitated Sarah makes this a less than perfect episode, but I also agree that it was a lot of fun to see Jeff and Lester doing their thing, and finally(!) for Ellie to be clued into the situation by Chuck from the very beginning, which resulted in her saving his life. On the other hand, I’ve seen Chuck and Shaw fight inside the Buy More before, and I really don’t find scenes that recall/repeat earlier elements that interesting. That was one of my hangups about the series finale, too.

    One of the things that appealed to me about this episode is that there seemed to be high stakes involved. Casey was wounded and apparently contemplating his possible death. Sarah was unconscious and freezing. Chuck was once again in a fight, possibly to the death, with Shaw. I think that this episode did a good job of ratcheting up the tension in the story.

    I am amazed that Casey is up and about and enjoying the Christmas party in the apartment courtyard after being so grievously wounded earlier that he was about to leave a goodbye message to his daughter. I guess Ellie really is a remarkable doctor. Also, and I think this may have been mentioned in an earlier viewing, Sarah was indeed quite thoroughly beaten up, yet she showed little evidence of her injuries. Shaw, on the other hand, was all red welts and bruises in the last scene in prison. I suppose Sarah’s skilled with concealer….

    I don’t have a rating for the various Chuck episodes, but I do regard it as a surprisingly good episode, and in my view it was certainly in the top half of season 5 shows. Thanks again, guys, for your great reviews.

  9. Random comment that I hope doesn’t descend into S3 chaos, but I started the girlfriend watching Chuck (yes, I litmus-test my relationships with Chuck viewing. Who wants a partner who doesn’t love Chuck? Not this guy!), and surprise, she had no problem with S3 or Shaw in general. I think it all goes down easier when instead of waiting for that angle to play out over three months, you can burn through it in 3 days.

    I didn’t go through 3.0 with this forum, but watching it again now, I was surprised by how much I liked the non-Charah aspects. I might need to take some of the edge out my S3 critiques. Perhaps those of us who are humongous fans of the show take its negatives a little too seriously.

    • mr2686 says:

      Arthur, she sounds like a keeper! I’m almost at season 3 of my latest re-watch and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ve softened quite a bit on Shaw, and actually like him a bit as a villain, especially in Santa Suit where I think he actually did decent work. The only two episode in season 3 that are real clunkers to me are Fake Name and Mask, and that’s mainly because I think they’re written pretty poorly.

      • Well, I will never watch Pink Slip again as long as I live. I won’t go through it too much again (we’ve all been there!), but to me the flaw with S3 was always more with the premise than the execution. The whole storyline at Prague just reeked of writer cowardice to me, and still does. To me, hero-Shaw and villain-Shaw are just two different characters. I hate the first and quite like the second.

      • mr2686 says:

        Yeah, I’m definitely not in to having another Pink Slip discussion, especially since it’s down around 81 on my list anyway, it’s just that I never had that terrible reaction to it that other here have. I re-watch it, I don’t jump for joy over it but I don’t cringe either.

    • Another thought on S3-3.5: one of the big takeaways is from Santa Suit is that Chuck tells Ellie the actual truth from the beginning, and it saves his life. My least favorite aspect of S3 on re-watching isn’t Charah, it’s that Chuck begins to see lying as a legitimate path of saving his friends, despite disastrous results. The best example of this is the Ellie-Ring arc. That whole situation could have been avoided if he’d have just clued Ellie in instead of treating her like a 6-year-old.

      I bring this up because one of my favorite aspects of Chuck is how much the characters grow, and you really get a good glimpse of that in Chuck’s behavior in Santa Clause. One of the enduring discussions on this forum, is whether various flaws and mistakes made by characters are “worth it” – whether Chuck and Sarah really needed Shaw to add to their relationship, whether Hannah needed to happen, whether Mary needed to be so flawed.

      In the case of Chuck learning to be honest, I think the show handles Chuck’s growth really well. We seem him start to lie out of necessity in S1, we see it get completely out of hand in S3, and we see him begin to correct it in S4-5. He’s still not perfect (see Curse), but I think that as a flawed character who’s trying to balance being honest with and trusting this loved ones and trying to protect them, Chuck makes great growth as a person.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Arthur I think its a pretty strong connection that viewers who are able to power through S3 quickly, and without a lot of the external environment issues, often find it far less troublesome. That doesn’t really surprise me at all. Although I think its unlikely I would have liked S3 in any event, but it likely would not have infuriated me the way it did if I’d been able to watch it quickly.
      I also agree that Chuck’s lying is a huge and troublesome aspect of that season. For me, the Charah issues will always come first, but the lying is really not far behind. And at this point I have a hard time with that back arc too for that reason.
      But in terms of growth, it really makes the entire season a retrograde movement. Chuck had been uncomfortable with the lying early on. In S3 he clearly became a habitual liar. I think that story decision was just a mistake from the start. I’ve heard so many comments from more casual viewers about how much they disliked Chuck himself at that point. And I think it’s just a mistake for the show runners to turn that direction.
      So yeah, I also really appreciate getting away from that in S5. It’s funny, I think they were wise enough to “fix” that issue between Chuck and Sarah right at the start of S4 (and it was VERY obvious back summer of 2010 that this issue was bothering many Chuck fans), but it left the Chuck/Ellie situation kind of painfully silly until late S4.
      But absolutely kudos to the writers for finally correcting this. It does make Chuck a much stronger more likable character for most of the final season.

      • Right with you on Ellie in S4. I’ll always think they wasted Ellie/Lancaster. That character should’ve at least had an Ellie-centric episode/mini-arc the way awesome did. The only defense I have of the lying, because it annoys me too, is that Chuck, as a spy-in-the-making, was trying to change himself into what his perception of a spy was, and the more he started bucking that mold, the more he got away from its negatives.

        … or maybe it just sucked. I’m 50/50!

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I’m okay with just saying it sucked! If we’d seen this as Chuck’s biggest struggle, especially as Chuck and Sarah worked on it, and argued over it together, it might have made for a more entertaining season for me.

        Love the idea of an Ellie arc. I actually really like what they did with her late in S3, and how Chuck lying to her and keeping her in the dark about his spy life, really came back to bite him in the butt. So perhaps part of why I often object to the love polygon story More than the lying is I think the lying finally played out well with Ellie in S3.5. While the polygon was too much of a retread from the earlier seasons, and it’s a retread of a trope I didn’t enjoy the first time around anyway.
        I would have loved another, more involved Ellie story at some point. Especially if it relates to her as the new Orion or something.

      • Funny Dave, that’s exactly what I said watching Ring II last night. I really do wish Chuck would’ve learned that lesson explicitly at some point. His habitual lying to Ellie, Sarah, and even himself has real questions, and arguably is what gets his father killed – just think if his father had more time to make the governor, or if Sarah had known about his mental issues and helped him in the meeting, or if Ellie could’ve acted as a double agent. The last of those would’ve even been a really cool storyline. You’re right, it sucked.

      • atcDave says:

        Aww, I wasn’t trying to make you the cynical, negative person I am!

        But I sure would have loved if Chuck had learned his lessons. I heard from so many people disappointment that he continued lying into 4.01. Although the no secrets, no lies pact was a good moment, and it was particularly interesting that Sarah came up with it. But I sure would have loved if the episode had started with something like “Sarah I need to show you something my Dad left me…”

  10. oldresorter says:

    Given it was the return of Shaw plus let’s torture Sarah review week for Chuck This, how ironic was the Castle ep?

    • joe says:

      I was thinking exactly that, Jason.
      They had me going for a second – I knew I recognized Vulcan’s voice, but I couldn’t quite place where I had seen him. Then the description of Kate “putting him through a wall” made me remember. By the time Lazarus was revealed, I just knew who it was.

      Someone, and I’m sorry I forget who made the comment, thought that the mystery about Kate’s mother was over. Maybe it is. But that story is not yet done, I see.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah the similarities are interesting! And like Chuck, I prefer the more fun episodes. So the preview looked better…
      I’m not trying to be down on it though; also like Santa Suit, there was some good stuff and I enjoyed the episode.

  11. revdr says:

    Got an announcement from Tim Jones….he is working w/Warners to release a Chuck soundtrack later this year. The hits just keep on coming!

    • joe says:

      Wow! Thanks for that news, Rev.
      I was fortunate enough to communicate with Mr. Jones a few times. On top of being a fantastic musician, he seems to be a great guy.

    • mr2686 says:

      Any thoughts on what might be on it?

      • revdr says:

        Based on the info I received in an email from his website, it will include most of the action cues, the character themes and of course “A Question and An Answer” (Charah’s Theme). Plus a few surprises…….

      • mr2686 says:

        I love what he did on “A question and an answer”. He gives the music so much room to breath. So, it sounds like the sound track will mainly be original score, and not other songs like “A Cruel and Beautiful World” or “A Comet Appears”…or maybe that’s the surprise?

    • atcDave says:

      That’s really exciting! I love scores, and have quite a collection. Chuck has been much needed.

  12. revdr says:

    If the music is owned by Warner”s it’s possible….there is so much to licensing music that I’m not familiar with. That’s why it has taken them nearly 20 years to get “The Wonder Years” on dvd.

    • mr2686 says:

      Oh definitely. I was kinda hoping that it would be a little easier with some of those indie bands, but that may not be the case. I was really happy to hear that The Wonder Years will be release later this year with “most” of the original music. That music was such an important part of the feeling of the show to me.

      • revdr says:

        As long as they have “A Little Help From My Friends” and “When A Man Loves A Woman” from the pilot I’ll be ok……..

      • joe says:

        Absolutely, MR. But the most effective piece of music on TV I’ve ever heard was not original – it was the scene in The Wonder Years when Kevin realizes after a disastrous Science Museum trip that Winnie is gone with her new friends in a new school.

        His bus goes one way, her bus goes another, and a then 20 year old tune by The Beach Boys is playing – God Only Knows. Unforgettable.

      • joe says:

        Okay. Now why do I see some sort of connection between The Wonder Years, Chuck and Castle?

        There seems to be a continuum there somehow.

      • revdr says:

        Joe you’re absolutely right. I remember that scene well. At least all 115 episodes are being released by Time-Life. It’s DVD only at this point….but I’ll take it.

      • mr2686 says:

        I think the true test of a great score, whether it be a TV show or a movie, is that you don’t notice it the first time you watch, but it really sets the tone on how you perceive the scene. The music in Chuck, whether it’s original score, or songs by outside artists, is almost dead on perfect every time. I thought that was the case also with the Wonder Years. Just amazing.

      • mr2686 says:

        Hey, I bet The Wonder Years” had no problems securing the rights to “The Electric Shoes” original music. LOL.

  13. mr2686 says:

    Dave, I meant to add earlier that I still disagree with Shaw being the endgame on the conspiracy. Going back to Decker’s speech at the end of Cliffhanger, he mentions several things along with Fulcrum and Shaw being pieces on a chess board. I really don’t think if It was Shaw at the top of this conspiracy that Fulcrum would have been mentioned since that pre-dated Shaw’s involvement with team B, as well as it would be odd to say that the head person was just a piece on the board…he would be the one manipulating the pieces. I think this also goes along with what they found out about Quinn in “Bo”, that Quinn had been working in some capacity with Fulcrum. the Ring, and it wouldn’t be a large leap to think Shaw as well since Shaw went over to the Ring. Just my .o2.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t think you’d have to change much to get to that point MR, and certainly Quinn was a more impressive villain. But I don’t think the show as written supports that conclusion. Shaw claimed to be the mastermind, he had an origin story of sorts (turning the tables during interrogation), and I really don’t see Quinn letting Shaw get ahold of the ultimate Intersect, or letting him become the CIA’s indispensable man. Plus Team B assumed they’d ended the conspiracy, and Quinn never made any effort to claim credit for any of it.

      I do think it would have added to the story to tie Quinn back in to it all. But I just don’t see it. I think he is resourceful, clever and dangerous. But mostly a lone wolf.

      • mr2686 says:

        I know that’s what Shaw claimed, but I’m sure if Quinn was manipulating him, then that might still play out the same. Now, whether or not Quinn could control Shaw is another story, but that not to say that if Shaw had won, that Quinn wouldn’t have still be able to get a version of the intersect for himself, especially if he was in league with Shaw. I think that was the bottom line all along, that Quinn wanted the intersect, not to be the only intersect. Either way though, it left a bit to the imagination whether it be Shaw or Quinn as the endgame. I like the Quinn version better, and it works for me, so I’ll stay on that road. Of course, that is the good and bad of Chuck…there are many places along the story where there are forks in the road, which of course leads to some of the various debates.

      • mr2686 says:

        I wanted to add that I agree with you that Quinn was a more impressive villain. He’s more like a Bond villain, at least to me, and Macfadyen plays crazy/psycho pretty darn well. LOL. Maybe a better outcome for season 5 would have been to take out Santa Suit and Shaw, and add an episode that introduced Quinn a little earlier in a failed attempt at obtaining the intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I would have liked a better back story for Quinn. And I sure could have gone for him replacing Shaw!
        That we could even be debating this sort of highlights how Chuck was never about the villains! We don’t even know who did what.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I sort of invented a backstory you can find here, or for the link-averse

        Just a quick aside on Quinn since a lot of people complain he creates continuity problems. Here’s my take. Quinn was a top CIA spy, and a Fulcrum recruit. We know Fulcrum wanted the intersect and that they wanted to take over the CIA, NSA, government in general, and that they tasked Bryce with stealing the intersect for them. Quinn was the agent they intended to get the intersect. When Bryce sent it to Chuck instead, Quinn had to maintain his cover as a loyal CIA agent and Fulcrum had to delay their plans to take over the CIA. Quinn was, as he said, sent back into the field for “one last mission” whereupon he was captured and tortured for 378 days (as he says), then upon his rescue, (again as he says) dismissed from the CIA. I say that last was for psychological reasons. It makes him so much more understandable and dastardly.

        Upon his dismissal, Quinn, who still has a lot of contacts in the CIA and sources and assets throughout the world, goes to Fulcrum to tender his services. Since he is no longer a CIA insider and can’t act as their turncoat he becomes a contractor. As time goes on he finds that both the CIA and Fulcrum are working on a new intersect, and he longs to posses it and the power it represents. He works for other organizations, such as The Ring, so when he hears of another intersect, one that can give him back his skills in addition to the intel it contains, he decides he must have this new intersect. Once again he is foiled and the Ring team captured, and once again the intersect goes into someone else, someone who doesn’t deserve it.

        Eventually he finds that many of his failures and many of his clients worst defeats are the work of one team and one man, the original intersect, the new intersect, Charles Carmichael. And now its personal. It’s a competition to Quinn, made worse by the fact that Carmichael doesn’t even know he exists. Quinn has a nemesis. Carmichael has one final nemesis too, he just doesn’t know it yet.

        So it was that Morgan stumbled on to the next potential intersect in Vail one weekend. Or rather Bo Derek “stumbled” on to him. Showing his typical discretion and sense of limits Morgan has put himself on the radar of the soon to be infamous Nicolas Quinn.

        Quinn has his intersect, but he’s heard of problems with it. The original intersect, Carmichael, was once hospitalized, The Ring went to great lengths to obtain the necessary governor for their intersect Daniel Shaw, the Gretas nearly nuked LA, and apparently it drove one Hartley Winterbottom insane for 30 years. But Quinn has been losing to “the intersect” for years now, so there must be a way to make it work. The opportunity to see and assess Morgan presents itself. Frankly the idea that a few minutes with Morgan doesn’t immediately confirm his worst fears, but leads him to pronounce Morgan “fine” confirms to me the dude is clearly insane.

      • atcDave says:

        That was fun Ernie. Looks pretty canon compatible. I particularly like how you worked Morgan in!

        And I’d totally forgotten that I’d read it before!

      • joe says:

        I like that too, Ernie.
        Funny. We were commenting earlier about the similarities between Chuck and last week’s Castle episode. I start to see something similar (if less obvious and much darker) with last night’s Person of Interest.

        Without spoiling too much, we were transported to 2010, just prior to Reese discovering Harold. However, it sure looks like Harold discovered Reese back then. The coincidences and interconnections are so amazing that you want to believe them (especially when POI’s Shaw is brought in). Even if credulity is, well, strained, it just doesn’t matter because the story is well served.

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe the POI episode felt much like the Baby episode in Chuck, with the flash back providing some back story cover for the current story. Generally, I like such episodes, and I liked both Baby and this weeks POI.

    • mr2686 says:

      Ernie, a agree with a lot of that, but with some minor variation. I don’t think he was a Fulcrum recruit. I think it was in “Sarah” that he says he was supposed to be the one that the intersect was put in to, but he was captured, and by the time he escaped/released/rescued, the intersect had already found it’s way in to Chuck’s head. He was then released by the CIA, at which time he started up his own company (much like Carmichael Industries as was said in “Bo”) and had clients of Fulcrum, and the Ring. To me, that’s the point where he was able to manipulate things in the background with the end result of trying to get the intersect for himself. No matter how you slice it though, you got to put a lot of pieces together and connect a lot of dots.

      • atcDave says:

        Fulcrum and the Ring both had agents all over the intelligence community, so he easily could have been both CIA and Fulcrum.

      • mr2686 says:

        That’s true, it just wasn’t said, and I’m not sure if it was even implied, but with half the agents in the CIA as Fulcrum or Ring, it’s sure possible. LOL.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Remember that at it’s introduction Fulcrum was portrayed by Bryce as a faction withing the CIA, noting that they had all the credentials and codes necessary to send him on a mission to steal the intersect. It was only later that the concept of a larger independent organization infiltrating all levels of government evolved. So at least at first all Fulcrum agents were CIA agents.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ernie, that’s true. I’m basing my theory on the fact that Quinn said he had been captured and when he got away, the intersect was already in Chuck’s head. I’m assuming that if he was Fulcrum that there wouldn’t be anyone else to capture him, although there could have been another enemy out there, but they never materialized and I’m assuming that members of both the CIA and Fulcrum would have been looking for Quinn if he was captured. My impression was also that the reason they (Fulcrum) wanted Bryce to steal the intersect is that they knew that the intersect was about ready to be given to a CIA agent (I assume Quinn).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Even in the limited Chuck spy world I assume the CIA has enemies other than Fulcrum. After all Fulcrum was formed (in the show’s canon) because they thought the CIA too warm and fuzzy in the war on terror.

        Quinn said he had to go back in the field because Bryce sent the intersect to Chuck, thus the intersect he was waiting for became unavailable and he was captured on that mission.

      • mr2686 says:

        Ah, Ernie you’re right. I remembered it as he got captured first, but just checked out Bo and it confirmed what you said…and I agree, thinking Morgan was “fine” surely did show that Quinn was insaaaaaaaaaane. LOL.

      • Duckman says:

        Am I the only one who has trouble believing quinn was ever considered intersect material? Quinn was old and fat, they would put the intersect in someone like bryce…or shaw. Now thats a story I would beleive- shaw was supposed to get the intersect until bryce did the deed. Come to think of it, quinn would be much more beleivable in shaw’s s3 role,(minus the charah aspect). Amazing what several years of hindsight does.

      • atcDave says:

        Angus McFadden would have been 48 at the time they shot his part as Quinn. So he would have been 43 when the show started. If we consider prior to being captured and tortured for a year, and then being pensioned off by the CIA, he may have been far more fit and able bodied.
        He may have been seen as an experienced agent at the peak of his powers.

        Now admittedly, 43 might be pushing the limits of getting someone into an activity that may require a young, elastic sort of mind to fully utilize. But then Orion had a working Intersect too, so maybe age wasn’t a huge issue.

      • anthropocene says:

        If Sam Beckett could handle an Intersect, so could Robert the Bruce!

      • atcDave says:

        Although putting the Intersect into a 13th century warlord does create some interesting possibilities.

      • anthropocene says:

        An AU fanfic in the making!

  14. Christopher says:

    I am not really a big fan of this episode. As much as I love Shaw. I feel he ran his course at the end of season 3. It is also hard for me to believe that he thought of a plan like that in an 8 x 8 cell. However, I do believe he knew about the baby, remember he read everyone’s file.

    and the truth is there is really only one more episode in season 5 for me that I like which is the next on, and thus will end my comments on season 5. we coming close to my least favorite part of season 5 and it hurts too much to talk about it. The only exception for me will be that I do find Quinn as a great bad guy, and he ranks fourth on my list of baddies in the series. here are my list of top baddies in my opinion

    1. Volkoff
    2. Shaw
    3. Roark
    4. Quinn
    5. Decker
    6. Baddie the Belguim
    7. Heather Chandler
    8. Mr. Colt

    I think all these baddies are the best of the series with my top five as the impact players of the series. and Belguim also did some damage, but not to the level of the top 4

    • Christopher says:

      Vivian for me was a bad actress, thus I could not take her serious. even though she did try to kill Sarah, I chalk that up to using the norseman which was her father’s invention so I credit that to Alexi

      • joe says:

        I’m going to disagree a bit with you, Christopher. Lauren Cohen, who played Vivian V. had a pretty difficult job to do. The character was supposed to be sweet, innocent, naive, trusting, sympathetic AND a Volkoff (which is pretty much the opposite of those things). She was also supposed to be accomplished and educated at the same time she was naive and innocent, which is a weird set of characteristics to have simultaneously.

        I think Cohen did a pretty good job to be half-way convincing in all that. I know I tend to be easy to please about all things Chuck, but from the POV of the craft of acting, I was fairly impressed.

      • mr2686 says:

        Yeah Joe, I actually give her a lot of credit and don’t think she was bad at all. The way they had her switching from all of those characteristics that you mentioned had to make the character tough to play.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the character was a bust. Performance issues aside, I think she needed to be more manic, more over the top. As presented, she was too galacticly stupid to be a serious villain (translating Chuck’s failure into a betrayal, siding with Riley); I think she should have been played much more wacko like her father in order for her part to work.
        But to be fair, I’m not sure how much of that should be put on the actress vs director or show runner.

      • Christopher says:

        Some of her reactions l can tell she was acting, it didn’t seem natural sometimes. For example, When I see Chuck and Morgan interact with each other it just a natural flow or Ellie and Sarah its just natural. Its like I am not watching a TV show its more like I am actually there. The best example I have was when TB place her and Riley into the holding cell her call for the guards was so weak and artificial that I scratched my head

      • revdr says:

        I think that the issue with Vivian is that they didn’t develop the transition of her character’s transition enough. For someone who was supposed to be a major player in the back nine, they didn’t show either how she transformed or how she was so easily manipulated by Riley. I don’t really blame Lauren Cohen for that. She had to work with the material given her. Joe is right. She had the very difficult task of doing a 180 personality/attitude change and they didn’t take enough time showing that.

      • Christopher says:

        The beauty about this site is how we all agree to disagree on all things Chuck. It is great to see and enjoy the debate.

        The truth is without Chuck this. I would of been bored not being able to discuss and analysis Chuck.

        So here is a question for everyone. and this is something that always is on my mind with regards to Sarah in particular.
        The question was one of the reason I found this site

        What scene was the first scene that showed Sarah had fallen in love with Chuck.

        now I know most people are going to say the nerd herd desk in the pilot, but as much as Dave likes to say he does not like to buy into the whole misery arc. I don’t buy into Sarah falling in love in the pilot. She may have interest or maybe even attraction, but the body language and words spoke otherwise.

        so again what scene in which episode does Sarah first begin to show feelings for Chuck.

        here is my point of view on it.

        I think in the truth when she shows up at Chuck’s apartment dressed in that sexy clothing was a sign for me. it was protecting the cover of her feelings. Seeing Chuck with another woman Awakened her feelings for Chuck.

        What do you guys think?

      • atcDave says:

        I think there’s no easy answer to that question Christopher. Its not a simple on/off sort of thing. Apologies to all computer nerds out there, but I don’t believe this is a binary problem!
        Sarah claimed to have “fallen for” Chuck at some point during the Pilot. So we have to put a pretty high priority on that. But “fallen for” is not committed love. There’s plenty of steps ahead. But right from the start, Chuck affected Sarah and tested her ability to handle things rationally, we saw that several times through S1. And we know by Marlin she could consider violence to protect Chuck from the government; she admitted to her v-log long about Broken Heart that she “loved Chuck and didn’t know what to do about it”. And just a few weeks later she was willing to go rogue to take him off grid. So I think somewhere long about mid-S2 Sarah was completely, all in, for Chuck (Actually I suspect even sooner, maybe as early as Cougars). Of course rough waters lay ahead, and yes I consider the misery arc to be a dreadful story-telling decision; so it would take another year before they were both finally on the same page about it. And things progressed, matured very nicely from there.

      • Christopher says:

        Dave your right

        However, in the pilot she admits to liking Chuck on their first date and the ballerina scene was more of the very charms that she became attracted to but she was still working she also just save the life of a baby so seeing Chuck helping the little girl moved her especially being told he was a threat but the only threat was to her heart

      • revdr says:

        That really is a great question, Chris. Sarah obviously felt something pretty seriously by the end of Nemesis, otherwise she wouldn’t have been as conflicted as she was. Truth also showed that she was leaning in that direction. But I’m not really sure. It was certainly obvious to me in First Date that she saw her hopes go off that roof with Chuck when Colt dropped him. So certainly she was gone by then. I have to think that by her own account, she knew that he was special to her in the pilot. But the exact moment, I might say it was when she saw him with Lou. Every episode in season 1, and for sure in season 2 drove her closer to him.

      • Christopher says:

        Yeah, that is all true but if gun to the head what would be the first scene that shows Sarah felk in love with Chuck it is hard because there is so many but after doing research and studying scenes The best answer for me is the beach wedding watch Sarah’s mannerisms She is fixated on Chuck her eyes say a lot her mind and heart are in sync with her feelings what do you guys think

      • atcDave says:

        Well certainly by Ellie’s wedding Sarah was all in for Chuck. That’s the first time she decided to leave her job for him, so yeah, no doubt.

        To me, the burning question was always just how far outside of the rules she was ready to go for him. I can easily imagine, as early as Marlin, if she knew there was a kill order in play she would have taken off with him at any time. Unfortunately, as romantic as that always seemed to me, after Baby I guess we have to conclude that could have happened even earlier than we ever knew. Sarah was willing to bend of break rules to do the right thing. So maybe even as early as the Pilot for that; oh man that would have made a great story! Obviously a completely different show. I really wish we had a good ff of Chuck and Sarah running right from the Pilot and falling in love while in hiding together. That could be serious fun!
        So maybe the more relevant question becomes, when would she quit her job for him? Nemesis is sort of a non-starter in that regard. She can still plausibly argue that choosing Chuck IS choosing duty over well, fun? We know by Ring she was ready to choose Chuck over job. I always like to think that much earlier in S2 Chuck would have won out too. But she might have TRIED to walk away if reassigned. Like in Broken Heart where she was at least making a nominal effort to obey orders and leave; but she changed her mind and went running back to Chuck at first excuse. Maybe even as early as First Date, she might have left for a couple weeks, before she changed her mind and came “home” to Burbank. Of course at that point I’m positive if she’d known about the kill order she would have disappeared with Chuck. Another awesome potential story. I’ve seen some ff attempts at that one, but nothing really finished. Pity.

      • Christopher says:

        Dont forget best friend Dave she had a five second experience of life without Chuck which was rough but cant compare to hard salami the gap between entry 49 and 56 Chuck not being with her for 7 days and of course Chuck being kidnapped in Phase 3 so your right not having Chuck in her life is like metal to a magnet which was a strong indication of Sarah beginning to recover when she shows up at the buy more in the goodbye

        Do you also see her face in the end of the fat lady when jill and chuck run off the watch on the nightstand was like he cut there life line together

        Plus I do think day 564 to place between the end of predator and broken heart sarah’s reaction to chuck going rogue was like in the tooth anniversary and the curse so it does make sense that day 564 happened then do I make sense in my analyses?

      • atcDave says:

        Sometime between Predator and Broken Heart makes the most sense to me. I’m not sure if we can take the count too literally (not every episode is really a week apart, and Sarah apparently only aged one year from S2 to S5), but that does seem like a very apt place for it.

      • Christopher says:

        Well I am just looking at how sarah walked in the buy more after chuck broke up with follow by her tears and trying say it was just for the cover was just evidence for me of the time gap between entries

      • joe says:

        What scene was the first scene that showed Sarah had fallen in love with Chuck.

        That was a great question, Christopher. Sorry I didn’t get back to it earlier.

        It’s weird that I’m not sure I can answer it. Those first episodes, maybe even through S2, were so hard to read that way. Maybe it was Sarah who was hard to read. She’d reveal through looks, like at the end of Alma Mater (“Lisa. My middle name is Lisa.”) or at the end of The Break-Up (where she looked like she was going to cry) that she wanted to be with Chuck, but then she’d take it back, like at the end of Truth or the end of Suburbs (taking back the wedding ring). Or perhaps Sarah would deliberately fight to keep her distance despite her feelings, like at the end of The Ex, for the sake of Chuck’s safety or for the sake of his dreams. Sometimes she even seemed “okay” with being “just friends” (scare quotes intended) like at the end of Tom Sawyer.

        Often I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing, which I’m sure was the intent. Sure kept me coming back!

        Regardless, after preparing for the next post on The Baby, it dawns on me that it tells us a lot about how Sarah felt in those early days and how Chuck affected her. As much as I love this discussion, I’m going to defer until then!

      • Christopher says:


        Did Sarah really take it back when she did not take the ring off until after the house was cleared or visually hurt seeing Chuck with another woman you reference the break up it wasnt so much the break up that bothered sarah it was chuck saying she was not going to be normal here is this guy who gave Sarah a glimpse o f a normal life she the man who she sees as the one she can do it with just told her she won’t be normal how would you react Skinny Love was perfect for this scene “and I told you to be patient and I told you to be kind” Sara th never took it back not until the red test

      • Joe! How dare you tease us like this? 🙂

      • joe says:

        Well, everyone needs a hobby, Arthur! 😉

      • joe says:

        Christopher, that was one heck of a run-on sentence.
        The thoughts in Sarah’s head, the way she looked and the different ways we all interpreted her different smiles and glances and frowns – that’s one of my favorite topics. I’ll bet that if you get any three of us in a room together, we’ll have about 10 different opinions about what Sarah was thinking in those episodes.

        Tell me what *you* think she was saying during all those episodes!

      • Christopher says:

        Hey we can be like commentators and act like we know what they are thinking except when it comes to sarah its fun watching what her words are saying not matching with her facial and body language I love the season in fake name where sarah is looking at hannah eating dinner with Chuck at her dinner table

        I have felt that by hannah being there made sarah forget about prague and made Sarah realize that it was her who should be at the dinner table not Hannah Sarah’s eyes look so sad and depressed it is really great acting by Yvonne

      • atcDave says:

        Except that Sarah went back to Shaw that week, and several more times too. She and Chuck were just stupidly slow to learn. That’s all part of why I find the moment, the episode and the season so utterly and infuriatingly flushable.

      • Christopher says:


        You are right with regards to going back 2 Shaw what else is Sarah suppose to do the man she loves has another woman at the very table sarah has sat at 4 3 years cover or not we can agree that Sarah felt at home in that apartment

        But there is one issue that does bother me which is the topic of my next article called Mauser vs the red test If we thought that Chuck overreacted when Sarah killed Mauser we should say the same thing for Sarah when he completed his “red test” I also cant blame Shaw for turning on the CIA and Sarah he found out Sarah was the one who killed eve

      • Christopher says:

        It was very easy for her to fall out of love with him for killing someone but when he breaks her heart in prague she still stayed go figure that one out cause I cant

      • atcDave says:

        Yes absolutely Sarah over-reacted to Chuck’s Red Test.

        But as far as “what she was supposed to do?” Well for starters, she never should have been in the situation. S3 from Pink Slip was a bad entertainment decision. I’ve seen a number of writers create far more appealing alternative stories for S3. Uplink’s “Chuck vs Life, Love & Lies“; NinjaVanish’s “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves“; Crumby’s “Chuck vs the Rogue Spy” are all better examples of what Chuck and Sarah should have done at the time.
        If we’re stuck with canon up until Fake Name; well chapter seven of KateMcK’s “Chuck vs The Fight” looks like a pretty reasonable alternative.
        The bottom line is, Chuck and Sarah both should have been written better. And a big part of that starts with Chuck shouldn’t have walked away in Prague, and they shouldn’t have given up on each other, Sarah should have helped Chuck to avoid becoming the man she feared he would become, and she shouldn’t have turned to the man who was doing most of the remaking of Chuck for sympathy over Chuck changing; and oi! There’s no stopping. S3 shouldn’t exist.

  15. Christopher says:

    My argument to this would be didn’t Timothy Dalton had to do that. He dealt with three roles and did it masterfully. I felt myself scratch my head a few times watching her. it was an inconsistent performance.

    • I’m usually on the writers’ side, but Vivian and Mary are the exception. The problem is the Vivian is just a worse, less fun character than Alexi. I’m sure that of the two, Dalton was the better actor, but it helps that Alexi was written as complete lunatic – even more so when you factor Hartley into the equation. Furthermore, the difference between Alexi and Hartley was so great that Dalton was basically playing two different characters.

      Vivian, on the other hand, had to make a transition from innocent civilian, to criminal mastermind, and back to civilian again as the same person, over the course of 9 episodes and limited character time. It’s a more subtle and harder job, especially when there was nothing memorable about the character in the first place.

      Alexi’s character, even without Dalton, is exciting. Who wouldn’t want to see an ice-cream eating Russian arms dealer who’s a hopeless romantic with a love for boats, and is actually an artificial personality installed on a baffled neuroscientist? That’s a great idea! Contrast that with Vivian. Her plot is interesting enough (getting forced into the head of an international crime syndicate), but her character’s personality? There’s nothing there. She’s just this girl who rides horses.

      • atcDave says:

        We’re pretty much exactly on the same page Arthur. As I often say, the show isn’t really about the villains anyway, so it’s sort of no harm no foul. But it’s not really anything fun either, like Volkoff…. Or Von Hayes.

      • Christopher says:

        I like this perspective and it makes sense I see parallels with the last sentence and Chuck he is just a guy who fixes computers who got stuck with the intersect

      • Not in the same sense. Chuck is a nerd, lover of video games, has a photographic memory, has a crush on a secret agent (who he later marries), he’s an underachiever who works at an electronics store, a borderline genius, was kicked out of Stanford on false charges of cheating, fiercely loyal, overemotional, funny, lies too much, etc. I could go on and on. He’s a very dynamic and well-developed character.

        I get that you’re equating the way they’ve been thrown into world they don’t know, and I’ve got no doubt that was the writers’ intention. The problem with Vivian is that she actually is “just a girl who rides horses.” We never find out anything about her, except through a bit of exposition, that would make us care. That’s not on the actress, even if she could have been better.

  16. noblz says:

    Ah, Santa Suit…

    While I certainly don’t like episodes where Sarah gets a beat-down, this one had enough good stuff to be good entertainment.

    I am indifferent to Shaw at this point, he is an completely adequate villain.

    In my mind, Sarah’s complete repudiation of Shaw, the Chuck/Beckman scenes, the final defeat of Shaw (that Ellie deservedly gets in on) and the final feel good scene are enough to get this one into the 53 above average episodes on my list. Even the Buy More story wasn’t too bad in this one.

    Perfectly serviceable episode.

  17. CaptMediocre says:

    You know the part I could never resolve regarding this episode.

    For 2 seasons, the government had no problem doing away with Chuck, who did nothing wrong, because he had an intersect that could fall into the wrong hands.

    Yet Sh**, also with an intersect, is a mastermind, alive, after attempting to take control of the government or its alphabet agencies.

    Oops never mind, just trying to fill in a plot hole.

  18. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07) | Chuck This

  19. Neil Sandford says:

    Disappointed that Sarah didn’t say something when Shaw ripped off the bracelet, she just went on to plead with him about his wife, may be it’s what you do in those situations to diffuse the issue, even after 3×13 I still have a problem that when Sarah and Shaw are in scenes together, that she still has feelings for him, no matter how small, its not as though there was a definitive scene where she told him she despised him for trying to kill her and the relationship was only a cover because the real Sarah loved Chuck and there would never be anyone that could take his place

    Disappointed, she kept going to prison a secret from Chuck (No secrets, lies 4×01) Hypocritical

    Disappointed Chuck spent time with Ellie saying “Merry Christmas” those sought of scenes normally Chuck would suddenly say “Sarah” how did he know how Sarah was, if she’d been rescued

    It’s the little things, like at the end of Ring part ll, when the Buy Mores about to blow, he gets up and starts running and she follows, he should have grabbed her and and they run together, like I said, the little things.

    • atcDave says:

      I took most of Sarah’s treatment of Shaw as trying to diffuse the situation. I also don’t really like the secret prison visit, but she does fully come clean around the middle of the next episode. And given that Sarah is still holding some secrets to protect her mom’s safety I’m okay with her caution (every time you tell a secret it becomes less secret).

    • Neil Sandford says:

      Grabbed her HAND and run together, I meant to say

    • In Sarah’s defense about Shaw I would say calling him insane is a safe bet you don’t have feelings for them anymore.

      I also don’t see the baby secret as any different than Chuck keeping his spy life secret from his family and friends in the early years; in either case, it was kept for others safety and rescued an orphan baby a greedy SOB is still actively looking for is pretty big. I think it was written that way for dramatic effect and it worked on me.

      Most TV shows have what I call “nitpicky” writing problems, and Chuck is no different. Somehow i developed an ability to ignore most of these types of things, but I get how it irritates a lot of people.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Good points, I’m definitely being “nitpicky”

        The funny thing is, I watch plenty of shows daily (well I did until I started reading this website) I never do re-watches apart from Chuck and I really don’t know why, maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, started when I saw a couple of videos on you tube, then found this website and with all the reviews and comments you start watching much more closely.

        I will admit like most, I struggled with s3.0 but after reading one of LizJames’s comments to Joe It was easier to deal with regarding Sarah.

        I possibly don’t look closer in other shows and they might be there, where as in Chuck, you have Sarah which is more visual meanings than verbal and the music in scenes has more meaning, hence the need to re-watch just in case you miss something

      • atcDave says:

        The big thing to remember on nitpicking is that a script is cranked out in a week, with maybe another week spent on details/continuity/debugging (depends on available staff). Then we spend ten years agonizing over every detail….
        I never mean to say we can’t share/analyze/discuss/criticize etc. just be aware that we are in fact nitpicking. It may be fair to criticize broad issues of mood and style, but the more into details we get the harder we are being on the writers. And of course, we’ve all done it here.
        That’s Sort of how I see things like Chuck chatting with his sister, when by all rights, he isn’t sure if his wife is alive or dead. It’s a detail, a flow issue the writers missed. It irks me, but I’m sure no offense was intended.

  20. duckman says:

    I’d shure be interested to here some candid conversation from the various writers on what they recall from that time. It’s starting to be a while ago.

    • atcDave says:

      It would be fascinating to get some behind the scenes sort of stuff. But my guess is it will never happen. Unless there is a later surge of interest in Chuck, like if a reunion project gets made, my guess is we’ll never have more than we currently do.
      There may be a chance someone will write a memoir tell all or something, but that may be even more remote.

      • I wasn’t around during that time, but I can’t see them willingly revisiting that topic, pink slip I maintain is possibly the worst writing decision in TV history, second only to the last 15 minutes of mask. I mean I just don’t get how they arrived where they did considering they knew fans gave them a season 3.

        The only thing I can compare it to is a sports moment. Seattle a few years ago, is 1 yard away from back to back super bowls and decides to pass instead of handing the ball to Beast Mode (I forget his name) they pass! Both choices are the just bad decisions made worse by terrible execution. They boggle my mind to this day even though one has nothing to do with the other

      • atcDave says:

        You know I agree completely Josh.
        Pink Slip is directly analogous to not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch!

  21. I was, of course, speaking on another comment before Duckman

  22. Dave

    Didn’t ratings initially come back higher and then tank? I have talked to so many people who believe Chuck could have lasted 7-10 seasons if they had only realized that breaking them up was a bad idea,…heck even a fake break up would have been better.If we’re sticking to football, what they did after pink slip reminds me of how the Browns find new ways to lose every Sunday (i really hope that changes this year).

    Okay, I know I’m piling on but I just don’t see how professional writers were blind to what an entire fanbase saw…

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah we got a lot of good press for the “save the show” campaign after S2, and then a good amount of publicity leading up to the big Chuck Event that ran Pink Slip and Three Words back-to-back, then Angel of Death the next night.
      So ratings started strong for Pink Slip, but dropped off quickly thereafter. Of the three couples I knew who quit the show THEY ALL did so during or after Pink Slip.
      Just a staggering screw up. It showed how badly flawed the so called “Moonlighting Curse” mentality was (Just for the record, that term itself is badly misunderstood by many viewers; but I’m speaking here of the most common and erroneous application of it, that putting the leads together is the death of a show).

      I firmly believe if 3.01 had been fun and joyous, more like Honeymooners, we would have kept a major part of our viewership. And this is because Chuck and Sarah were such an awesome pairing. The energy on Chuck had NEVER come from Charah fighting, teasing or competing. It came from two good, likable people who would do anything FOR each other. Screwing that up to start the season was just a ridiculous mistake to make. It was so plain to so many viewers, yet the show runners blew it in epic fashion.

    • atcDave says:

      And I forgot… poor, poor Browns…

    • Neil Sandford says:

      Wow! 7-10 seasons, certainly I think s3.0 robbed us of five good seasons but I always felt they could have done at least another couple of seasons, especially with plans to start a family and a shift in the business, could it have all worked with his sister moving away, would some of the cast leave to pursue new ventures and could we have got a more final ending, I always felt the show starting again at 3.14, it was over before you knew it.

      There must be plenty of shows that are successful way past 7-8 seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah, many have lasted longer. Including many that reinvented themselves along the way; like SG-1 introducing two new sets of villains to extend the adventure.
        I think Chuck could have easily gone on following Chuck and Sarah saving the world while making their sort of “normal” home and family. Superspies from the minivan set. Like “Thin Man” or “Undercover Blues” as a weekly show.

        We do however have at least a few cautionary tales too; like Castle continued a season longer than one of the stars really wanted to. There comes a point where key players want out (in this case I think only Zac and Yvonne count as truly “key”) it is best to wrap things up regardless of ratings.

      • All Dave’s points are true, then you have rare exceptions and shows that seem like they will go on forever: Supernatural, Big bang theory, SVU and Grey’s Anatomy is the current live-action scripted shows that fall in this category. Big bang and Grey’s started out so high that when overall rating averages for network tv started to plummet it did not affect their renewal odds.

        The others are the beneficiary of networks unable to find replacements while these loyal fan shows maintain solid ratings in a largely dreadful network tv landscape. Supernatural could finish its run as the CWs highest rated show–not that they care about ratings but next year it will crack 300 episodes and episodes like the just aired scooby-doo crossover show they have a luxury to always do new things.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave. We kept rooting for a Thin Man or Undercover Blues type of continuation. Sigh. What were they thinking? I don’t think producers know what people really want to watch. I’m not sure I would have stayed with Chuck if I had had to watch week after excruciating week. I shotgunned the first three seasons.

        I was going to mention NCIS as a long running show. Procedurals seem to do well. Major Crimes (a spin off — continuation of The Closer) just wrapped up with 14 years if you count both series. Apparently their ratings were still really high, and the network just decided to cancel them any way. I’m not sure it’s as simple as TV-by-the-numbers any more.

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting list. Although it was mostly more episodic shows, there were more serialized shows than I would have expected.

        Sticking with a show through a rough patch is often a hard choice. I was so hooked by S2 of Chuck it gave me the determination to see it through. But S3 sure did test that resolve! If the show had been given two or three seasons after S2 it’s possible I would have called it quits; that is, I knew something had to resolve by 3.13. So I was at least determined to make it that far.
        But since then I’ve had much less patience. I’m tired of tired television games.

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, I don’t have a lot of patience, either. I rarely watch week by week, so I sometimes read ahead to find out where a series is headed, so I’ll know if I even want to bother to watch.

        Episodic shows seem to go longer. The more serialized shows often come to the end of the plot before coming to the end of the series.

      • atcDave says:

        Without getting too dogmatic about it, I often figure there is nothing more dishonest than a serialized television show. Regardless of original concept; the story can end incomplete, the writers may be forced to speed it up for a quick end, it may be drawn out and junked up due to strong ratings, key cast or writers may leave, or the whole thing may altered based on what parts of the story are “working” better than others.
        Don’t get me wrong, some such journeys have been a lot of fun, but I am highly cynical about these things having any sort of integrity or grand plan. I think a simpler episodic format is easier to keep going over any period of time.

  23. Neil Sandford says:

    I live in England so I don’t really know how ratings work with renewals but when you read this website or you put in Check best episode on the internet, which episode is always up there, “Colonel”, so you would have thought that TPTB would have stuck with a winning formula for s3.0, as well as “Honeymooners” is also up there so It says something.

    Of course theres the cost involved and many other factors but I know myself that when you’ve got a job and your getting that monthly income, you don’t want it to end.

    It seems like Fedak shot himself in the foot or whoever is responsible for the reset, obviously they wanted to tell the story there way and it slightly backfired.

    Zach keep talking of a mini movie, he would have happily stayed on and Yvonne being so upset during the last month leading up to the final, I think she would have as well and possibly Adam.

    Although looking back, it’s 2018 so it would have probably ended by now anyhow, unless it could have run for 10+ years.

    • The guy responsible for dooming Chuck is Josh Schwartz, Fedak put a stop to the mess and is the reason (love or hate the finale arc) we are still talking about Chuck after 6 years

    • atcDave says:

      I’ve always suspected Josh Schwartz was responsible for the S3 reset; I have no proof, but he has a history of doing the teen romance sort of story.

      I agree we would likely be at or near the end of things by now regardless, but I sure would have loved more of the happy, later mood of things. Even at this point, we could see a movie or mini series type reunion project. Such things DO happen. We’ve had major news here recently of a long retired show making a successful come back. It’s hard to know what kind of staying power this might have, but it’s encouraging regardless.

      • The fact that gossip girl was in its first year at the time is all the proof anyone needs about JS. He got confused and forgot Chuck was not a teen drama.

        I think things bode pretty well for us, NBC can’t get any new comedies to stick and their revival of Will and Grace seems to have already bottomed out to fractional levels, the more comedies that don’t make it to syndication on their network, they have to be thinking more and more about Chuck, because in this age of revivals it is one of few that actually NEEDS to be brought back, reduced episodes would allow the cast to do other things still and we get the show back. Not that it could pull Rosane numbers but I like to think that a revival of Chuck would have more staying power than the office with only some of the same cast or will and grace.

      • atcDave says:

        I still think a movie or mini-series is far more likely than a new series. Among the issues, Zac and Yvonne both have other current commitments. At least part time commitments that might make a weekly show problematic.

  24. It took me awhile to figure out how ratings work, but basically shows just want to try to outrun each other within a given network and the % of households of the 18-49 age group watching any show is the measuring stick for renewal/cancelation.

    I think the entire cast got along and loved the show so I don’t think contracts would have been an issue, a standard tv contract is 7 years–provided ratings justify renewal every year and from their seasonal renewal is negotiated, unless the show is so popular the network negotiates 2 and even three-year renewals like Big bang Theory since season 8.

    The sad fact is Chuck just was not as lucky, but I don’t think anybody would call it unsuccessful.

    • atcDave says:

      5 seasons is above average, so yeah Chuck was broadly a “success”.
      I’ve always thought it was one of our greatest advantages for getting something more done is that the cast all seems to be good friends. Like they would be happy to work together again. Obviously that’s only one of several things that needs to work out for new content. But it puts us in a better place when the other parts start falling into place.

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